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    Learning Colemak on my new Ergodox.

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      Wow, that first link was a trip. The #NoEstimates people weird me out.

      When it comes to why estimates are difficult, most engineers and engineering leads throw their hands up in the air and say, “Software has too many unknowns! We can’t tell what unknowns we’ll find, even with the simplest task!”

      This is the second time in two days I’ve seen this “software is special!!!” thinking. We’re not. Nothing makes software essentially harder to estimate than any other large, complex project. We might not have the training, or the tools, or the theories on how to estimate better. But software isn’t special. Either we can estimate software or we can’t estimate anything.

      1. 17

        My dad has worked in construction for many years, and although we don’t know much about each other’s work worlds, we are always able to connect when talking about project planning, estimations, and management. There are so many parallels that I can’t help but believe that there’s some hope for software.

        That said, it’s not like it’s a solved problem in civil engineering projects either. Crazy stuff happens there too. My intuition tells me there is a lack of appreciation for the non-physical complexity in software. If someone finds a pipeline no one expected when digging, it seems easier to grasp the gravity of it versus finding a dependency in code that no one knew about.

        1. 7

          Same setup here, with the experience of construction sites (actually demolishing though) and software.

          In construction I’m used to doubling or tripling the original estimate, but never of “oops, it’s 10x the work now”. But that mostly speaks of experience and apparently more “normal” projects, if you look at Berlin’s BER airport disaster, I guess 100x comes closer…

          I hate to turn to this age old bad examples, but I’ve never heard of stuff like:

          • oh we DO need a basement after all, throw away the ground level
          • we decided to use wood and not cement
          • wait, nobody told me we need to put lights in there?

          What I did hear:

          • no, we wanted the other wall to be torn down
          • we want the new door exactly here! (turns out it there was a wall at the back, imagine a T - shaped piece of wall)

          But yes, sometimes there are known tasks like

          • this wall is 3m x 5m, it will take X hours
          • this feature needs one new form and 3 database calls, it will take X hours

          and then there are things where you simply don’t know from a one sentence description if they want a garden shack or a new mall.

          The main problem is that it’s less tangible and a lot more opaque. On the other hand some things that are 10 minute tasks can seem like magic - that also hardly happens in construction. You don’t just get a surprise benefit by discovering a material(library) unknown to you that will save a week worth of work.

          1. 4

            If I ask you to estimate the weight of all your colleagues and to guess the total weight of the whole team….

            I bet you won’t be far out either.

            Some probability distributions, especially physically based ones are thin tailed.

            Your guesses are very unlikely to be far off, a smallish sample is likely to be representative, nothing is going to be orders of magnitude different, and when you sum (or average) your guesses, the deviations cancel out.

            Other distributions, especially non-physical ones like wealth, software complexity, ….. are fat tailed.

            ie. You need very large samples to be able to estimate accurately, yes, quite likely there is one story in the backlog that explodes out to 100x larger than the rest, summing ( or averaging) does reduce the deviation but not really.

            What really happens in the software world is when that task blows up by a factor of 100x… Odds on we say, Meh, maybe we don’t need to do that in the 1st release… or 2nd or ..

            Estimation is not about deadlines, it’s about risk management. When we see a story blowing up… we need to step in and make some hard choices.

          2. 2

            I work in Chicago so I immediately thought of the much-delayed Jane Byrne Interchange construction.

            https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-jane-byrne-delays-20190306-story.html

            In January 2015 — just over a year into construction — university workers noticed the building had been sinking and shifting, leaving cracks in the foundation and making it impossible to shut some doors and windows, according to court records.

            Over the next 1½ years, IDOT blamed engineering firms it had hired for missing the poor soil conditions that contributed to the problem. That led to a redesign of a key retaining wall that boosted costs by $12.5 million and dragged out that part of the project at least 18 more months.

          3. 13

            But software is, if not special, different to most physical engineering projects.

            Building software is like combining the worst cases in renovation TV shows - you have a heritage listed building with unknown structural issues, a homeowner who followers the builders around everywhere, can’t envision what they want until they see it, and constantly change their mind after work has been completed. And they have a strict budget and need to be in before Christmas.

            The fundamental reasons why software estimation is hard are:

            • most team leads/scrum masters won’t say no to changes in the estimated scope
            • team membership changing due to business priorities
            • insufficient investment in quality measures across the board

            They are, to a degree, our own fault. We don’t say ‘no’. We don’t insist on quality. We don’t insist on team stability.

            In my time as a team lead I pushed as hard as I could on those issues. If priorities changed and some new work needed to be fitted into the current timeframe, I made the product owners pick an equivalent sized piece of work to remove. The team already had a great quality ethic, which I protected by making sure that there was enough time allowed to maintain our test suite etc. I couldn’t really stop management from moving people in and out of the team, but I made enough noise that it was at least somewhat uncomfortable for them. Our estimates were not perfect, but pretty decent.

            But it was exhausting, and while I think people respected me, it would have been “career limiting behaviour” if I’d been focused at all on rising up the ranks in that org.

            After 6 months I left and found a pure dev job.

            1. 10

              I’ve been interviewing “crossovers”, people who started off as traditional engineers and moved to software. I’m basing all my claims off what they said. The overwhelming consensus is that almost everything we think about “trad” is a misconception.

              Building software is like combining the worst cases in renovation TV shows - you have a heritage listed building with unknown structural issues,

              In software, if you need to figure out what’s wrong with the codebase, you can inspect the source code. If you need to figure out what’s wrong with the electrical system, you have to tear down the wall.

              One former electrical engineer talked about how often mechanical projects would go wrong. Often a supplier had tons of implicit knowledge about their parts- switching to a different supplier for the exact same design could get you something completely incompatible, simply because of slight differences in the tolerances.

              a homeowner who followers the builders around everywhere,

              Plenty of engineers complained about this. Scope creep and overbearing clients are universal.

              can’t envision what they want until they see it,

              Also extremely common. It’s less of a problem in most engineering fields, but most of my interviewees think it’s because they just spent more time gathering requirements in trad.

              and constantly change their mind after work has been completed.

              I talked to one engineer who had to move a bridge. I’d have to go back and check with her, but I think it was something like “The demographics of the area had changed.”

              The fundamental reasons why software estimation is hard are:

              • most team leads/scrum masters won’t say no to changes in the estimated scope
              • team membership changing due to business priorities
              • insufficient investment in quality measures across the board

              These happen all the time in trad, too.

              1.  

                a homeowner who followers the builders around everywhere,

                Plenty of engineers complained about this. Scope creep and overbearing clients are universal.

                I can attest to that. I’ve trained and worked in software for 20 years now, but I originally trained to be a TV-repairer. One repairshop I had a placement in during training had a notice on the wall, that could be seen by customers:

                We charge 300/hour.
                If the customer wants to watch, we charge 600/hour.
                If the customer wants to help, we charge 900/hour.

                To be totally honest I believe it was meant more as a humerous deterrent than to be taken literally, but there’s no smoke without fire as they say :-)

                1. 2

                  I’ve been interviewing “crossovers”, people who started off as traditional engineers and moved to software. I’m basing all my claims off what they said. The overwhelming consensus is that almost everything we think about “trad” is a misconception.

                  That’s really interesting, and supports a suspicion I’ve long held that the software industry’s “imposter syndrome” with respect to the engineering community causes is to over-glorify physical engineering.

                  Although I haven’t been interviewing or studying it, I know quite a few tradesmen (and my father was a plumber and builder). I get the impression that, as you say, estimation is not exactly a precise art for them, either.

                  1. 1

                    Agreed on all counts. These are the kinds of things I hear from my father, too. One difference might be that in software we’re too eager to deploy what we’ve got and then never change it. Also, software does a lot less work up front. (Sometimes that code doesn’t get examined much!)

              1. 4

                Why reproduce the links in the story here? They are clearly visible in the Slashdot blurb, and frankly are more meritorious of submission than the “I noticed this doesn’t work” kind of submission to Slashdot.

                Furthermore, the claim seems to be false, according to the Github issue that is linked. (See the update at the end of the first comment.)

                The one comment in the StackOverflow question seems to be wrong, too, claiming about the Apple forum discussion “It has been actively removed and Apple is not willing to restore it.” Yet, clicking on the link, I’m able to read it.

                A cursory glance of the linked discussions shows that it’s not widespread and probably just the usual kind of bug that shows up. This is sensationalist and not worth anyone’s time.

                1. 2

                  Thanks, I updated the title and comment to reflect this bug has been fixed in the Catalina betas.

                1. 1

                  The article talks about RTL as represented in the compiler and how you write it in a machine description, but there’s another form the author doesn’t mention: what gets printed when you’re debugging the compiler.

                  To generate it, check out the developer options. If you want a flood, try -da (almost a requirement when debugging internal compiler errors! (ICEs)).

                  RTL is notoriously difficult to read, both in machine descriptions and especially in printed output.

                  (insn 2 4 3 2 (set (mem/c:SI (plus:DI (reg/f:DI 82 virtual-stack-vars)
                                  (const_int -4 [0xfffffffffffffffc])) [1 x+0 S4 A32])
                          (reg:SI 5 di [ x ])) "t.c":1 -1
                       (nil))
                  

                  You can kind of figure out what this is, but the particulars can be important, and aren’t all documented.

                  1. 8

                    Reluctantly flagged off-topic as it’s about economics and marketing, not computing.

                    1. 19

                      From a nerd’s perspective I liked this - it was written well, held the interest and was about an interesting topic that intersects math and psychology. I consider it on-topic for this site.

                      1. 6

                        I agree it’s good content. But it’s still off-topic. I’m just one voice. I’m not gonna go mad if others upvote it.

                      2. 13

                        I’ll note that there is a (finance) – Finance and economics tag that seems to have content somewhat similar to this. Given that that’s one of the predefined tags on this site, that suggests to me that this post is not wholy off-topic here and is simply mis-tagged. Personally, I found it well written and fairly interesting.

                        Edit: It appears that events have overtaken me. In the time it took me to write this, the tag has been corrected from (hardware) to (finance).

                        1. 5

                          I didn’t realize there was a finance tag! I will remove my flag.

                        2. 4

                          I know the policies and culture of our site have evolved over time. The most upvoted thing I’ve ever posted anywhere (2017) wouldn’t be appropriate to post here today.

                          How do we feel about this?

                          “Reluctant” could describe my feelings. I enjoy this site being a source for on-topic content, and I am willing to protect it from becoming a cesspool.. I support efforts to remove off-topic content even if (and sometimes especially if) it is good or engaging.

                          But like… I also love this post and I’m glad I read it.

                          Should the lobste.rs community spawn an off-topic site or sub forum or something? (it’s just a question!)

                          1. 9

                            I never liked this obsession with The Topic™, I’d love to see more of this on the main site instead of some spin-off nobody would use.

                            1. 8

                              I’d agree. At this time this is one of the most upvoted stories on the front page. To me that says the community has decided that it is, in fact on topic. If it wasn’t, it’d be downvoted.

                              1. 1

                                It would be nice to have a series of integrated sites that were more focused and preselected than subreddits. E.g. having a business oriented site (like barnacles) that had tags for finance, auctions, economics, etc. would be pretty nice.

                              2. 3

                                That’s exactly the problem–I think it’s a totally interesting and neat article, and well-done, but my rough bucket is “analysis of the economics of a luxury good”. And it pains me, but like there’s a lot of interesting content out there that can clog up a site like this pretty quickly.

                                I think an off-topic site for this, say the massive discussion on the orange site, would be a fine place for this.

                                1. 3

                                  I think an off-topic site for this, say the massive discussion on the orange site, would be a fine place for this.

                                  I think an off-topic sister site based on the Lobsters codebase would be pretty good, too. It’s so much easier to use this site than to try to follow (or participate in) what’s going on in orange site discussions.

                              3. 3

                                Dammit.

                                1. -3

                                  Agreed

                                1. 2

                                  This is a podcast episode, so I’d recommend the audio tag.

                                  1. 31

                                    I’m very much in favour of this, although I have long agreed with friendlysock/angersock on this matter, so that is probably not surprising.

                                    I don’t think breaking this into more tags (as suggested elsewhere) will do much to mitigate the problem. The mere notion of a culture tag attracts/encourages the kinds of submissions that are outlined above.

                                    I’ve been on this site for 5 years and for the most part, I’ve been an active participant. There’s no question that I have been much less active lately (sometimes I don’t visit for a couple of days), mainly because I keep seeing stories that I consider to be more news/cultural press releases than serious looks into a topic. I don’t downvote them (the categories don’t really apply) but I don’t want to participate in them either. I really don’t mind the topics coming up in the comments. I’d rather not see stories of them submitted.

                                    1. 3

                                      An attempt at clustering things a bit.

                                      • Emacs, mg, vim
                                      • Firefox (with uBlock Origin, uMatrix, Cookie AutoDelete)
                                      • FreeBSD, macOS, Windows 10
                                      • SSH, PuTTY
                                      • Alacritty, iTerm2
                                      • cwm (Calm Window Manager)
                                      • Directory Opus, PDF X-Change Editor, Evince/zathura
                                      • Outlook, MS Teams
                                      • zsh and a plethora of command line tools (coreutils, textutils, awk, grep, and many more)

                                      I know I use these all the time. There might be more. I’m not even counting the web apps I have to use.

                                      1. 2

                                        I loved cwm for a time. Until I was defeated by laziness and now just run vanilla/stock everything.

                                      1. 12

                                        There was a recent thread on this a few months ago, if you want to see some more answers.

                                        What does your shell prompt look like?

                                        1. 8

                                          Some of us don’t ship things that work online, so our deployment had no need of containers. In that case, once our product is built, we hand it off to someone who has access to the website who uploads it for us. In other words, our deployment process is, “put it in pre-determined folder somewhere and tell the website people to update the site”.

                                          1. 2

                                            Then I assume we could say that you “release” and not “deploy”. You make a release accessible somewhere to some people, but won’t handle it’s lifecycle directly (shutdown, startup, rollbacks, migrations, …).

                                          1. 68

                                            I’m against this. I want to have at least one place on the net where that kind of topics are considered out of scope.

                                            1. 32

                                              Everyone upvoting this needs to realize it’s already in scope. We’re doing it on the regular. The majority voted for politics. Several people, including a mod, threatened to quit the site if it changed. Politics is staying.

                                              From there, a politcs tag that can be used as a filter is an improvement on current situation. It doesn’t legitimize or threaten anything since what’s being tagged is already legitimate by majority vote. A tag can give Lobsters minority something to help them.

                                              1. 4

                                                Meta tags are how we fix scope.

                                                1. 2

                                                  That’s fine. Im saying you cant get changes if you open with statements or base your plans on the idea that there aren’t a huge pile of people already discussing politics, that have been for years now, and who vote in favor of it (including several mods).

                                                  People’s statements and proposals should include the fact that they exist.Then, try to win some of them over (the moderates). Alternatively, do what the political side has been doing more than no-politics side: invite many like-minded friends who might vote for same stance.

                                                  1. 12

                                                    While it’s tempting to believe we can find a compromise where everyone can “live and let live,” I’m skeptical that adding a politics tag will do anything but legitimize that lobsters is no different from other news sites.

                                                    And, honestly, if a mod is going to quit over something like “I’m upset we can’t discuss politics,” they might not be a good fit for moderating a technical-only board.

                                                    There are other people who would do a fine job as moderator. You, for example.

                                                    The point is that I don’t think “Some moderators are willing to leave” is a good argument to depart from the mainstay of the site: lobsters has been for tech. Everywhere else is for tech and politics.

                                                    1. 5

                                                      What is “technical only” even mean though?

                                                      I think there’s a lot of social stuff around tech that can be interesting and feels relevant to lobsters (example: governing structures for certain open source projects. Would be weird if we didn’t talk about what happened in Python over the past 18 months)

                                                      I am for tags to help people slice things up as they want to (after all there are other tags on the site as well!), but I think we should at least agree on a premise.

                                                      As to the difference with other news sites: well, compared to the orange site there’s a lot less “entrepreneur” posts. Lot less “growth hack” stuff. That’s how I read the difference

                                                      Unrelated but is the RMS thing “politics”? There’s surely a better tag name for this stuff. “Social”? Could let people filter out posts about linus’ rants (not that that happens anymore)

                                                      1. 5

                                                        Unrelated but is the RMS thing “politics”? There’s surely a better tag name for this stuff. “Social”? Could let people filter out posts about linus’ rants (not that that happens anymore)

                                                        Yes it’s absolutely politics. Your opinion on whether it was good or bad that RMS was forced out of the FSF is directly related to your opinion about feminism, the correct way to talk about sexual assault, how to weigh the value of freedom-preserving software against other non-technical values, and a host of other opinions about how humans ought to interact with one another that have nothing to do with technology. In fact, it’s exactly the sort of politics that is bitterly controversial, and thus is the sort of thing that people who don’t want to deal with bitter controversy would want to analyze as “politics” so they can ignore it in favor of things that aren’t bitterly contested, i.e. the sort of politics that made this meta thread exist.

                                                        1. 5

                                                          so they can ignore it

                                                          I’ll add that many of us just want to ignore it in select places like Lobsters to get (a) more value from those places and (b) a break from the politics. Throwing that in there since some people here kept pushing the no politics here = want none everywhere / head in the sand.

                                                          1. 6

                                                            Yeah, I get my political coverage elsewhere. The SNR on political threads here is abysmal; loads of undergraduate level mudslinging, people arguing past one another, jumping on anyone who isn’t already sufficiently woke… it’s a mess.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              I appreciate that you ssid something. I didn’t know if anyone with your leanings thought that way. Maybe I was assuming too much there.

                                                      2. 2

                                                        “While it’s tempting to believe we can find a compromise where everyone can “live and let live,””

                                                        I’ve about given up on that with how many groups’ politics have gone. They want to go against their outgroups. Looks like human nature in action.

                                                        “There are other people who would do a fine job as moderator. You, for example.”

                                                        I appreciate the vote of confidence but I’m saying No 100%. I’m good at helping folks and calling them. Mainly a catalyst for change at various levels. Folks like me are also disruptive enough in most communities that it’s better we be moderated than try to moderate.

                                                        “ they might not be a good fit for moderating a technical-only board.”

                                                        I’m normally in agreement. Given the style of politics, maybe let them do what they want to advance our better cause [for this web site]. I made an exception for her, though, since she has shown unusually high commitment to addressing her own biases and being careful in her role when subjects trigger them. Way more than most in far-left, P.C. politics. Likely more than many in moderation positions. Doesn’t seem right to encourage people of such character to leave over political disagreements on a site currently favoring such politics. There’s still alternatives to explore that keep us mostly together before going to that extreme.

                                                2. 36

                                                  1,000x this. It’s everywhere else, all the time. This is one of the few (largely) politics-free bunkers left on the internet, bunkers with a technical focus. I’m so sick of politics, it’s probably starting to make me physically ill and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way. It’s stressful and distracting. There are already so many websites you can do the politicking on.

                                                  1. 29

                                                    Lobsters is not free of politics, it just goes undiscussed and unquestioned. It’s not like you can opt-out of it by pretending it doesn’t exist.

                                                    1. 25

                                                      We’re not “pretending it doesn’t exist”, it’s just off topic. There are other sites to discuss politics. I think creating a tag would tacitly encourage such posts.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        When you say it’s off topic, would you have examples of what would be on or off topic here?

                                                        To be honest I think a lot of us are mostly aligned but the term “politics” is vague

                                                        Examples:

                                                        • technical breakdown of figuring out the sourcing of the 2016 election hacks (assumption: on topic since it’s a technical post)

                                                        • article on Google lobbying efforts to avoid privacy legislation (assumption: kinda off topic cuz it’s basically business and legislation stuff)

                                                        • an article discussing Python governance and the walrus operator (assumption: on topic on account of being around governance on developing OSS, as well as being news about pythons future in general)

                                                        1. 4

                                                          I can’t speak for maddogshark. The first item would probably be accepted because it’s a technical post that might teach people things tech-specific. The other two wouldn’t despite having value. They’d likely learn about that from other sites when their mind was in gear to deal with all the crap that came with them. Technical posts probably were relaxing by comparison. May or may not be speaking from experience.

                                                      2. 13

                                                        I agree entirely with the gist of your point, but actually and shockingly, people can and do opt-out of it by not understanding that there is no such thing as apolitical technology. The reason that this disconnect is so contentious is down to the definition of the word ‘politics’. For some people ‘politics’ is the thing that they see politicians doing - it involves elections and governments; it’s covered on the TV, it’s social-interaction and media driven; it’s entirely uninteresting and irrelevant - it’s just unoptimised human beahaviour. For other people ‘politics’ is how we live together – every decision an individual who is part of a community makes can have an effect on the other people in that community and ‘politics’ is how we figure out how to live together.

                                                        By the first definition, technologists understandably choose to opt-out of politics. They prefer to work on their craft, and they leave the ‘politics’ to other people. The technology they build is not ‘political’ because it doesn’t directly have anything to do with this notion of politics.

                                                        By the second definition, all tool productoin is completely political, therefore everything every technologist does has a political effect. By this definition much of the work of technologists influences or drives poltics directly. Because technologists tend to use the first definition, they unwittingly conceding the immense power of their work to others who do not understand it and wield it for political or capitalist reasons.

                                                        1. 7

                                                          Except the thing you leave out is that the majority of Lobsters talking politics usually vote in the far-left, PC camp. They push for political things most people, majority or minorities, don’t push for. Many equate dissent with personal attacks and other extremist reactions. Their outgroups get downvoted into oblivion since they have superior numbers and non-political side mostly avoids those political threads (their votes invisible).

                                                          So, rather than “discussing politics,” what you’re actually advocating for in this environment is for folks wanting political conformance to their belief system to talk about their belief system, other people to speak in a way that’s not seen or just torn up by majority, and majority beliefs on politics to float on top of the technical posts as they sometimes do. That with no change to anyone’s tech, job status, political affiliation, etc. Just a shout-down by whoever is in majority at a given time enjoying seeing their beliefs in a high place with lots of people clicking a button instead of out there making their supposed goals happen in the real world. (Some exceptions.)

                                                          I can’t imagine what good that does here on a site hardly anyone reads. Most political topics require prominent or popular people to enact change. Alternatively, massive numbers of everyone else which requires putting the message in sites of massive reach. If they’re putting it here, they’re probably not really doing politics so much as getting a mental high on Internet feel-good points (i.e. slacktivism). Lobsters has some benefit in politics that I’ve seen. It’s just not that by far.

                                                        2. 2

                                                          It’s like bringing you beef patty to a vegan grill party. One could do it, but people would honestly question whether that person is just doing it to annoy them.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            We’re discussing it, we were discussing it on recent articles, debating it heavily on Palantir thing, had the “Community Standards” thread with proposed CoC, and so on. It goes plenty discussed with several metas questioning or advocating the hell out of politics here.

                                                            Again, it’s better if nobody pretends Lobsters is something it’s not before attempting to accomplish something with it. Addressing the actual site and what goes on here will work out better.

                                                          2. 4

                                                            1,000x this. It’s everywhere else, all the time. This is one of the few (largely) politics-free bunkers left on the internet, bunkers with a technical focus.

                                                            This view is why I initiated this discussion, for there seems to be plenty of disagreement and implicit understandings on what is permissible and what is not. If there weren’t any political discussions, there wouldn’t be a need to talk about them. But as I said, since it looks like there is a change in the community, it could be worth reconsidering, not to please one or the other, but find an common agreement.

                                                          3. 5

                                                            I’m against this. I want to have at least one place on the net where that kind of topics are considered out of scope.

                                                            The posts have survived the front page and all -1 Off-Topic flags that people have piled on it. From a puristic standpoint, you’re completely right, they’re off-topic, but people upvote them anyway, and there are evidently moderation actions taken against them. I think the battle on that front is completely lost; the posts are too popular. At least with a tag, we could filter the stories, as opposed to have nothing at all right now.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              That’s how Im seeing it.

                                                            2. 2

                                                              What if one had a tag, but it’s hodness modifier would pull it down, as to not motivate discussions, but enable filtering.

                                                              A technical solution could be that this tag would be a co-tag or a partial-tag, meaning that it wouldn’t suffice for a post, but can only be added to other tags.

                                                              1. 14

                                                                A co-tag could perhaps be “political” instead of “politics” to further underscore that the post is not primarily discussed as a topic of politics, but it has political implications.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  You’re right, that sounds better.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    I like that.

                                                                  2. 14

                                                                    If we’re going to go with a technical solution, make the “hotness mod” so negative the story does not show up on the site.

                                                                    If someone were to start a clone of lobste.rs for more culture and political talk, I’m all for it. I would really like to see much less of it here. It has had a serious impact on the value of the site, in my opinion. Lobste.rs is less and less a place I want to visit (but I still love it).

                                                                    Clarification: it’s not so much the culture and political talk as it is submission of news items.

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Or create a politics tag, but make it opt-in (instead of opt-out).

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        That would effectively make the tag a community-shadow ban, which doesn’t have to be restricted to politics, but isn’t quite where I was going at. It seems like a one-sided solution, because it would only be in the interests of those who are totally against interacting with any political posts, but ignore those who are interested in it, which are still a considerable bunch. “Ruthlessly” privileging one of these camps over the other is something that I think should be avoided.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          My point was somewhat facetious. I don’t think there should be any technical solution to this. I’d rather see a community agreement to avoid political posts at all.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            As @nickpsecurity says, we’re past that point already. It will be most difficult, to agree because

                                                                            1. there is such disagreement on the issue
                                                                            2. it’s hard to draw a line on what is and isn’t political
                                                                            1. 9

                                                                              I don’t want to drag this thread out too long (that never works well). I don’t think we’re past that point and I am not swayed by the cited argument.

                                                                              I want to be clear that I am not against a political discussion, nor do I think it is something that can be avoided. I do not, however, want to encourage it. Adding a tag would not help in this regard. Right now political discussion (mostly) comes out in the comments. Adding a tag for it would make it explicit in the stories, more so that already exists. It will exacerbate the problem.

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                                                                            Not really one-sided. It is a way to keep it away from folks that don’t want to see it. That’s one thing tags already do here. However, it will also highlight the content for politics supporters. That’s the other thing tags do.

                                                                            They’ll also still be able to discuss it amongst themselves and folks that don’t filter.

                                                                            Edit: Added an example highlight in case some of you don’t know of or forgot it.

                                                                            Edit 2: Clicking that tag myself led me to the Texel submission I somehow missed. See! There it is in action.

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                                                                              I get that, but my issues was that a “minus infinity” hotness-mod, would effectively hide the content from everyone, anything that gets posted lands on the last page of the feed, making filtering it irrelevant. That means, even for those who would be interested, it wouldn’t be highlighted, because it just never appears.

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                                                                                Oh no, I wasn’t agreeing with minus infinity thing. Just a tag that could be suggested, highlighted, and/or filtered.

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                                                                                  Oh, my bad then.

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                                                                            Wow it’s almost like you wish you could filter the items about politics. I sure wish there were a feature for things like this!

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                                                                              It’s not just that. These political articles aren’t just objects in a vacuum, in their own way they mould the site culture and content.

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                                                                              If we’re going to go with a technical solution, bring this ‘hotness mod’ under user control by letting every user choose for themselves whether or not to mute this political tag? I don’t see why it would need to be banned for everybody.

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                                                                                That’s already the case. Anyone can choose what tags to filter.

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                                                                                  Indeed, that is what I was hinting at. I should have spelled it out, perhaps. Thanks for making sure I knew :-)

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                                                                                    Oh, my mistake, wrote that response in a hurry :/

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                                                                            If you’re against politics on the site, you should either leave or advocate for a politics tag so you can filter that content. It’s always been here, and it always will be here. If you’d like to totally avoid politics I honestly suggest watching home cooking videos on Youtube instead of browsing a website oriented around discussion and news about a multi-million dollar male-dominated industry that regularly contributes to devices used to harm people around the world. Those cooking videos are comparably extremely chill.

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                                                                              The about clearly states that: content that does not fit into any of those categories should not be submitted. There are many interesting things on the net that I’ve decided not to post here because I value what we have here and don’t want to post inappropriate (for this community) content. By creating ‘politics’ tag we legitimize such content and risk significantly increasing number of politics related (or even worse - politics only) content submitted. I would prefer to keep lobste.rs as free of politics as possible so for me the best option is to flag and hide such content, which hopefully sends clear signal to submitter.

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                                                                                I’ve been here since 2014, you’re wrong. “Culture” is the catch-all for this content. You would prefer whatever you prefer, but I don’t really care about that. Filter the tag if you don’t want to see it.

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                                                                                  Filtering the tag doesn’t solve the issue that the mere existence of it attracts a certain … kind .. of people I’d rather not spend time with, because they have not much to contribute.

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                                                                                    I’ve yet to have to filter a tag here. I assume that by filtering a tag, you do not see the submission nor associated comments? Because I usually read /comments before I read /newest, personally.

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      Correct. For example, if I filter the webdevelopment tag because those stories are not relevant by and large to my work in embedded engineering, those stories will not show up for me at all on the front page. Useful to improve the signal to noise ratio, since lobsters covers a variety of tech topics.

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                                                                                      The “culture” tag has been on this website since 2015, and has since regularly found its way to the front page with distinctly political posts. If politics “attracts” some type of people you don’t like, they’ve long been here already.

                                                                            1. 41

                                                                              The uptick in political discussion has, to my observation, coincided with the uptick in the submission of news stories. “News stories” meaning stories on recent events and don’t have much analysis around them. Sometimes they are full of factual holes because they are still developing.

                                                                              Those kinds of stories only exist to generate clickthroughs, karma, and outrage discussion. Seeing the rise of news story submissions has been a huge disappointment for me, because I really like what Lobste.rs is at its best: a nice feed for interesting technical stuff with light discussion around other’s experience with those technologies. I’ve learned a lot from Lobste.rs. I’m learning a lot less lately.

                                                                              Politics is unavoidable. You can’t have a place “free of politics”. That’s a fantasy. But you can have a place that doesn’t encourage its discussion. I’d like to keep/make Lobste.rs that kind of place. A politics tag will only make the situation worse.

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                                                                                I upvoted this for everything except the last paragraph.

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                                                                                I have no problem with the current merging strategy since the things that get merged are often hot topic news and generate little to no useful discussion. It’s one of the reasons I’ve not been active on Lobste.rs the last while.

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                                                                                  I’ve been using GDB in Emacs for debugging GCC lately and it’s surprisingly decent. Setting it up to debug the compiler is harder than these instructions make it seem, but it does work and is pretty handy.

                                                                                  There are other oddities that I run into, but those are specific to some GCC-isms (like generated C files having C preprocessor line directives pointing to a different file). Overall, I’m happy with it and would recommend it if you like Emacs and have to debug something with GDB.

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                                                                                    Getting ready to head to the GNU Cauldron in Montreal. (Anyone else going to be there?)

                                                                                    Going to TIFF for a show, courtesy of a birthday present from my wife.

                                                                                    Judging at a BBQ competition put on by a friend of mine.

                                                                                    Doing a bit of research for my debugging book project.

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                                                                                      Getting ready to head to the GNU Cauldron in Montreal. (Anyone else going to be there?)

                                                                                      Whoa! What’s this? I didn’t hear about it. Can I just show up? I’m here in Mtl.

                                                                                      Wanna meet up either way?

                                                                                      Edit: Aha! Unfortunately, I’ll be busy next week entertaining family that is coming over to visit. However, I’d still like to meet up if you’re up for it!

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        I’m actually going there for work with some coworkers, so it’s unclear if I’ll have time while the conference is going on, but I may have some time beforehand. I’ll ping you when I know and try to provide you with enough notice.

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                                                                                        I’ve not been able to find anything. You could try to contact the author or the seminar at which it was presented. It doesn’t look promising, though.

                                                                                      1. 17

                                                                                        This kind of content would be much better as a blog post.

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                                                                                          I was thinking exactly the same. The world has really come to this point, where a platform with poor presentation is the preferred medium of expression simply due to its popularity (easier to draw eyeballs).

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                                                                                              That is awesome! Thanks for telling us about it!

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                                                                                              I stopped looking at it because of it being on twitter. It’s not meant for articles, and it’s silly to use it that way IMO.

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                                                                                                I agree in general, but well-structured Tweet threads like this are acceptable.

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                                                                                                  For people not on Twitter “well-structured tweets” are actually rather uncomfortable.

                                                                                                  Re the article itself: the amount of telemetry gathered by browsers is rather unsettling. Interesting read.

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                                                                                                    I mean, I proposed a tag for “low-info” submissions like a single tweet - this was rejected. But I’ve seen a number of decent threads (like this one, and this one) so I’ve come to moderate my stance.

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                                                                                                      Indeed, Tweet threading was one of the things that prevented me from adopting Twitter. I found it very hard to follow conversations.

                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                    So if we say “The Medium is the Message,” what does that say about these silly long Twitter threads? Some of them contain a lot of debt, but they way they’re broken up changes the way we read and interoperate the message.

                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                    The article that this one references as an example of what you should probably avoid hints at one “trick” that actually is a good idea: avoiding floating point.

                                                                                                    Small micrcocontrollers typically don’t have floating point units. As a result, all floating point operations are done in software. The article mentions the small space savings, but then neglects to mention the real savings: not linking in the floating point routines. Add to this the fact that floating point arithmetic is much more subtle than it looks, and not using floating point values is a win.

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      Another reason is to be able to compare results across machines/setups/… without having to mess with an ‘epsilon’ value etc. If such comparisons aren’t needed, one can simply calculate a hash locally, send those over the network and compare that, instead of sending over all the data.

                                                                                                    1. 13

                                                                                                      I know analogies aren’t supposed to be 100% accurate but I like pushing on them to see what happens, so:

                                                                                                      • The curve is actually more like a tilde: if you wash dishes immediately, it’s much less expensive than washing them later. The crumbs aren’t set on and are easier to remove, you can use cold water, and you can dry more stuff in the rack (so you don’t need a towel).
                                                                                                      • Dishwashers are much more water-efficient than washing by hand. It’s also safer and kills more bacteria. On the other hand, there are some things you can’t dishwash, like cooking knives and cast iron pots. Deploy in bulk, with some artisanal services being manual?
                                                                                                      • Isn’t the “fleet of dishwashing robots” equivalent to hiring a person to just wash dishes fulltime? So it would be like having manual deploys, but have one person on the team dedicated to doing nothing but that.
                                                                                                      • Where do disposable plates fit into this?
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                                                                                                        Disposable plates are one-off shell scripts or data cleansing scripts you write to pull off that one migration for the client with a big contract.

                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                          Or perl-oneliners you can’t decipher a few seconds after composing them ;)

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                                                                                                          Isn’t the “fleet of dishwashing robots” equivalent to hiring a person to just wash dishes fulltime?

                                                                                                          Hmm… I had a different interpretation of this. I thought this was more akin to having a number of zero-hour contract staff available (except the staff are obliged to take the work). The technical equivalent here being that instead of one machine always available to handle incoming work (which is queued), a machine would be dedicated to every item in the queue, so there is effectively no queue.

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                                                                                                            a machine would be dedicated to every item in the queue, so there is effectively no queue.

                                                                                                            That’s exactly what I intended with that analogy, yes :)

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                                                                                                            On the other hand, there are some things you can’t dishwash, like cooking knives and cast iron pots.

                                                                                                            Technically you can, but you’re creating more maintenance for yourself, what with sharpening and seasoning.

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                                                                                                            Of course it requires “10x engineers”…

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                                                                                                              I mostly liked the essay, but I found that “10x” part rather irksome.