1. 5

    Haven’t watched yet, but I don’t think that we are. Going to watch the vid shorly! =]

    Some of us are artists, some another flavor of assembly line worker. I think the first do it for a reason of passion for software while the second are only interested in making a living.

    Think about how the day feels to you. Do you really feel like you’re doing any real engineering when you’re writing software? I’d be surprised if so.

    1. 8

      Having worked alongside and very closely with mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineers, I would say that yes, writing software is an engineering discipline as well. The similarities are pretty striking in terms of problem decomposition, modularity, planning, creativity, and so on. Engineering is about building something from nothing, which all these fields have in common.

      1. 3

        I think that based on your analysis, most artists are engineers too.

        In my opinion, creating something from nothing is art, not necessarily engineering. Also, most software “engineers” maintain things that already exist. They aren’t creating something from nothing.

        1. 3

          I think that based on your analysis, most artists are engineers too.

          Not sure I would jump all the way there, but they do have some things in common. Engineering also involves all the things that I listed in the previous sentence.

          Also, most software “engineers” maintain things that already exist. They aren’t creating something from nothing.

          Have you worked with any mechanical, electrical, civil, or any other of the traditional engineers? It’s at least 10x worse for them. How many bridges are designed from scratch vs an iteration of a previous design? How many EEs do something more than mix and match pre-existing circuits? And so on.

          1. 3

            How many bridges are designed from scratch vs an iteration of a previous design?

            Writing a program is like building a bridge not like designing a bridge. Designing a bridge is like coming up with a new algorithm or improving an old one.

            1. 1

              Writing a program is like building a bridge not like designing a bridge.

              I think this analogy is poor. If pressed to tell you what software process was like “building a bridge”, I would say installing software on a server - and we’ve gotten very good at making that fast and easy.

              1. 2

                Both analogies partly work and partly don’t. That’s why I made such an effort to talk to people with firsthand experience in both sides of the discussion.

      2. 2

        I like this, I’ve always thought of myself of an artist.

      1. 2

        At the end of the day it’s just a title, and you can put whatever title you want on LinkedIn.

        1. 4

          Unless you live in Canada, in which case it’s against the law to call yourself an engineer without an engineer’s certificate.

          1. 3

            Same situation in Germany, Sweden, France and numerous other countries.

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          Simply being a woman and having a tech opinion online subjects you to techbros who will willfully misinterpret your words because they assume that you don’t understand terminology, you haven’t tried the obvious in terms of troubleshooting, etc, etc. I get this constantly on the internet (my actual working environment is not as bad, thankfully).

          Whenever there’s room to interpret, whenever there’s ambiguity, discrimination is what drives your decision in understanding, so we have to prove ourselves even more, constantly, for respect of basic technical knowledge.

          Try to catch yourself doing this. In moments where something is ambiguous, ask yourself if this is something you would otherwise interpret more generously if you were talking to a cishet white man (one who you like, just based on assumptions).

          Its get tiring, quick, and then you want to give up. That’s how it happens. I think many give up before even going to an interview, after years of schooling. There is so much lost talent. Talent will increase when the culture is ready to face the problem.

          1. 6

            For any men reading this who have doubts about how much worse of an experience the nerdy side of the Internet is for women, here’s an experiment you can try from the comfort of your own home: create a fake profile with an innocuous female name & an ML-generated photo of a woman (or an avatar that presents as feminine). Then use that instead of your normal one for a couple of weeks when posting stuff online & see what the experience is like.

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              I actually did this a couple of years ago for.. less than honourable reasons honestly.

              I was convinced that I would be treated better by the tech community on Twitter if I posted as a woman instead of a man, mostly because I was getting berated constantly for being a white guy. (yes, it’s a minority, not real feminists, probably alt-right bots, I didn’t think about that at the time).

              My findings are actually very much in line with what I believed; my signal gets boosted more, people are less likely to pile on me and overall it’s a lot more pleasant to interact with people even when I reply contrary to the opinion, I’m much more likely to be treated with respect.

              So I made the switch full time I’m now a woman on Twitter.

              1. 1

                I did this ~10 years ago. Back then, it was a disaster in most communities; most people were civil but there was hardly anywhere lacking shitlords who would be openly sexist.

                Glad to hear that’s changing!

                1. 0

                  This is actually very heartening to hear!

                  1. 2

                    It’s heartening to hear he has to pretend to be female so he isn’t getting berated for being a white male?

                    1. 2

                      No, not that part. I mean it’s heartening that his experience wasn’t as bleak as it once would have been. Not being a white guy myself, I haven’t experienced what he describes either. I suppose I could do a similar experiment to find out…

                  2. -3

                    Lmao sick dude your experience proves that the tech community treats women better than men. That must be due to the same reason why women hold disproportionately fewer tech jobs in tech than men, and the trend is only worsening over time.

                    1. 4

                      My anecdote is a single data point.

                      I think what you’re trying to say is that despite (at least the western US tech segment of) twitter being openly hostile to men and very welcoming to women, the industry at large still has elements of sexism. Obviously I’d agree with that to some degree. There’s so many people out there that it’s impossible to claim that we’ve ever fixed male on female sexism for good. I would argue strongly that the “trend is getting worse” is incorrect though.

                      But if my information offends you then I invite you to do the same, it’s not particularly hard. I fear we all have deeply held beliefs here and it’s not valuable to talk down to each other about it.

                      1. 1

                        Your story is not a data point; it’s an anecdote. And to be clear, it doesn’t “offend” me at all. Rather, I think that the overwhelming, vastly documented, and ongoing evidence of the hostility of online tech communities towards women and other minorities renders one-off anecdotes such as these not all too interesting in the broader discussion.

                        1. 5

                          It is indeed an anecdote, it’s not useful in isolation.

                          anecdotes such as these not all too interesting in the broader discussion.

                          I am responding directly to the suggestion presented as I have done this myself and it was enlightening and not in a good way for me; it nearly pushed me to the alt-right because I really felt like people were attacking me based on my skin colour and race and I can’t really control those things. However I fundamentally believe in equality so the alt-right is not appealing to me either. Thankfully on the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.

                          I am not sure what cross you have to bear with my presented experience, I’m definitely not discounting anything regarding male-on-female discrimination.

                          Actually, to be perfectly honest you’re proving my point slightly. The tech community that I follow is so focused on sexism towards women that they perceive all men, especially white men, as “out to get them” if they engage with them at all, and that pervades all future discussion.

                          It doesn’t have to be political, even innocuous suggestions, improvements, more information etc; is taken as a hostile act when presented by a white man. in these circles. (“mansplaining” being the common retort when engaging people this way, but when given by a perceived woman are engaged with compassionately.)

                          Obviously it’s an anecdote though, obviously it’s an anecdote, and your mileage will likely be very different from mine depending on the circles you’re in and how you approach people online.

                          But, for sure there’s still a lot of horrible shit that people do to each other, I still see the “2 minute hate’ threads on twitter because some absolute twat decided that sending a picture of his dick to a girl or trying to flirt (badly) on linkedin is a good idea.

                        2. 1

                          I don’t know what you mean when you describe Twitter in that way, but I can assure you, there are plenty of other data points that disagree with your perspective. Do you honestly believe that white men on Twitter (or anywhere, really) suffer from a worse experience?

                          1. 5

                            I don’t think that someone’s experience of hostility in online communication has much to do with their ethnic background or gender. It’s fairly easy to find discourse on twitter that talks in disparaging terms about all sorts of demographic groups, including women as a class, men as a class, and white men specifically as a class. Different people will be bothered by the existence of people who vocally disparage their demographic group to different degrees.

                            I do think that overtly anti-white-male rhetoric has a great deal more mainstream acceptance than anti-female rhetoric, and that this has to do with widespread social attitudes in English-speaking countries that only women can be legitimately harmed in a sexist way or only nonwhites can be legitimately harmed in a racist way. In practice, many of the ways that anti-white-male sentiment manifests itself is in malicious accusations of sexism or racism; that is, authority figures selectively characterizing behaviors as punishably racist (against nonwhites) or punishably sexist (against women) when the person doing that behavior is believed to be a white male, while simultaneously refusing to characterize similar behavior by nonwhites or women as punishably racist or sexist.

                            1. 1

                              Oh, I’m not speaking about disparagement. I think we’re discussing different things.

                              1. -2

                                I do think that overtly anti-white-male rhetoric has a great deal more mainstream acceptance than anti-female rhetoric, and that this has to do with widespread social attitudes in English-speaking countries that only women can be legitimately harmed in a sexist way or only nonwhites can be legitimately harmed in a racist way.

                                Let’s be clear: this is not a widespread social attitude; english-speaking white majority countries tend to be, on the whole, still pretty racist and sexist. This social attitude you refer to is actually a fact. In societies with histories of racial and gender-based violence that overwhelmingly do harm to women and people of color, being “racist towards a white” and “racist towards a POC” are categorically not the same. I.e. in the US, slavery, redlining, jim crow, mass incarceration, disproportionate policing of communities of color lead to fundamentally unjust outcomes in the quality of life for someone born black as opposed to born white. So to a person of color in the US, racism means worse education, higher degree of poverty, a shorter life expectancy, a greater chance of being incarcerated, a lower chance of being able to vote, and the list goes on. And in terms of gender in the US, working women are still living with a significant pay gap, harassment in the workplace, and forms of cultural oppression. On the other hand, the magnitude of effect of “anti-white racism” and anti-men rhetoric generally boils down to hurt feelings (which I do not mean to downplay) and the occasional highly-publicized cancelling of high-profile white men which doesn’t come close to the magnitude of effect of centuries of discrimination in the other direction. It is dishonest and ahistorical to equate these forms of prejudice.

                                1. 4

                                  this is not a widespread social attitude; english-speaking white majority countries tend to be, on the whole, still pretty racist and sexist.

                                  I mean, a less charitable person would definitely say “compared to what”; because “on the whole” the west is a lot more amicable than other countries and cultures, but let’s not go there.

                                  On the other hand, the magnitude of effect of “anti-white racism” and anti-men rhetoric generally boils down to hurt feelings […] and the occasional highly-publicized cancelling of high-profile white men.

                                  Your entire argument boils down to this I feel, that inequity of men is justified because it’s not as bad. But consider for a moment the worst effects of what you’re implying.

                                  If as a sub-culture which is pushing for mainstream acceptance you are to engage in open misandry and racism, not only does that show a blinding hypocrisy, but it also pushes your majority of people (who feel attacked) towards extremism, even if many feel guilt and will take extra caution.

                                  Some of what you’re saying really feels to me like you’ve stopped thinking about society as “a bunch of people” and started thinking of it as a “system” which is made of demographics which can only act in a singular way. This is incredibly harmful because it’s engaging in exactly the kind of stereotyping that feminism is (and has been) trying to destroy for half a century.

                                  When I see things like conferences being shut down due to lack of diversity of speakers and there blind speaker selections which attempt to remove bias and then it “didn’t go the way they liked” I’m reminded of identity politics, again and again, when in reality we should be promoting those who do good and not tearing people down because they happened to be born a certain way.

                                  which doesn’t come close to the magnitude of effect of centuries of discrimination in the other direction. It is dishonest and ahistorical to equate these forms of prejudice.

                                  White guilt based on the sins of the father.

                                  You’ll have to forgive me for not feeling bad about being bad about being birthed with a skin colour. Since, you know, that’s kind of the point of being against racism.


                                  FD:

                                  I grew up, poor, the kind of poor that I don’t think you can actually imagine. The kind of poor where the idea of clothing is a birthday gift exclusively and sometimes you go to bed for dinner instead of eating.

                                  I grew up also, in central England, in a city in major decline, surrounded by people from Pakistan, Bangledesh, India and parts of Subsaharan Africa. Even they didn’t know poverty like mine because there were programs for them to prevent it (not that I’m salty, I’m glad for them). The notion that “I” am to blame for the historical transgressions of white people and men, with my life, of being chased, surrounded by pedophiles, stabbed on the street, mugged and beaten on average once a quarter and surrounded exclusively by crime knowing that if you just broke into someones house you’d eat that day- have it “better” than any other person is just fucking stupid, racist and disgusting and you should be ashamed.

                                  1. 1

                                    Your entire argument boils down to this I feel, that inequity of men is justified because it’s not as bad.

                                    No, I’m sorry, this is not my argument. My argument is that no intellectually honest person willing to engage with history would conclude that “racism against whites” and “racism against people of color” are remotely comparable, nor could they conclude that “sexism towards men” and “sexism towards women” (and LGBTQ) are destructive on remotely the same plane. It simply denies both history and contemporary events. This point was directed at @Hail_Spacecake btw, not yourself.

                                    I grew up, poor

                                    I am genuinely sorry to hear this, and you truly have my sympathy. Poverty is a grotesque failure of wealthy societies, especially in countries such as yours and mine. Nobody should have to go to bed hungry. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

                                    The notion that “I” am to blame for the historical transgressions of white people and men, with my life, of being chased, surrounded by pedophiles, stabbed on the street, mugged and beaten on average once a quarter and surrounded exclusively by crime knowing that if you just broke into someones house you’d eat that day- have it “better” than any other person is just fucking stupid, racist and disgusting and you should be ashamed.

                                    I am not blaming “you” nor arguing that poor whites have it “better” than affluent people of color (they don’t! it’s complicated!). This is elucidated by intersectional theory beginning with the feminist movement. I don’t really have much to say here except to reiterate my point above – I am not attempting to engage in the question of whether anti-white prejudice is justified. I am trying to point out that “anti-black is just as bad as anti-white” is a naive and anti-intellectual reduction of a complicated subject made by folks who are not willing to read history books.

                    2. 2

                      This is a good point, and something I’ve witnessed as well. But the solution can’t be to engage in more discrimination. The “men are bad, so let’s punish men” narrative is nonsense and just as bad as harassing women in the first place.

                      Calling out discrimination, harassment, and so on when you see it something we can all do. I think public shaming and whistleblowing is an under-utilized tool. There’s also a lack of legal protections for whistleblowers.

                      I worked at a startup where there was rampant sexual harassment all the way up into the C-level team, the head of HR knew all about it, and when I quit I was threatened by my former manager who called me to tell me I should keep quiet about it. They also tried to force me to sign a non-disparagement agreement but I refused to do so (they threatened to sue but never followed through because they had no case).

                      1. -1

                        Calling out discrimination, harassment, and so on when you see it something we can all do.

                        I’ve spoken out in defense of RMS and James Damore when they were harassed and discriminated against by ideological feminists in the tech industry, to the point of being successfully driven out of their job in Damore’s case, and his position as head of the FSF in RMS’s.

                    1. 6

                      Lobsters, please don’t become Hackernews. People who want to talk about polarizing political subjects can head off to Twitter. Meanwhile, the rest of us can bond over our excitement about how computers work.

                      1. 6

                        I came here because I wanted a place that isn’t HN to have interesting discussions with smart people. I wish lobesters would allow more non-programming content. On HN you’ll get banned for writing anything that makes YC, YC companies, or VCs in general look bad because they don’t want that showing up on their own website.

                        1. 2

                          Exactly! I couldn’t agree more.

                          1. 1

                            I don’t think they have to be exclusive; it’s not like you need to participate in this thread.

                            Technical discussion spilling over in to politics would be problematic, but that’s not what’s going on here. I don’t see how an occasional thread about tech intersecting with politic takes away anything from your preference for more technical content. It’s perfectly reasonable for not wanting to engage in that, in which case you can just ignore it.

                          1. 31

                            There most certainly is discrimination, but the VC-types will put you through all kinds of mental gymnastics to convince you there isn’t. I’ve seen it first hand, several times over, and denying it is just part of the gaslighting that goes on to try and pretend it doesn’t exist.

                            I also don’t buy the “lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people” narrative that Marc is pushing. In most cases companies are looking for people who are a) cheap and b) willing to put up with a lot of BS. They don’t actually want talented free thinkers. They want pod people who will hammer out the code in accordance with the party line. They don’t want innovators, they want button pushers and cogs in the wheel so they can build an assembly line.

                            1. 6

                              […] people who are a) cheap and b) willing to put up with a lot of BS. They don’t actually want talented free thinkers.

                              In my hiring experience, we were always looking for people who were a) cheap and b) talented free thinkers. “willing to put up with a lot of BS” is usually a part of any job description ;).

                            1. 4

                              Thinking about starting a new project that I might be able to convert into a startup later, but also feeling pretty deflated about startups these days. Without millions in VC funding it’s really hard to get anywhere or compete with anyone.

                              The tool I am planning to build will solve some of the problems with Helm and kubectl, as well as CI/CD problems with k8s deployments. It’s been a pet peeve of mine for a while. Helm leaves much to be desired.

                              1. 6

                                On the other hand, without VC funding you don’t have VC pressure and (possibly) VC-misguidance :)

                                1. 1

                                  Yep but then you need to have a lot of money saved up, or some other source of income. I am poor (though I have a bunch of illiquid and practically worthless startup stock).

                              1. 1

                                I need to find a job, I tried to do my own SaaS startups (multiple times) but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. I’m low on cash, and I can’t afford to keep going at my current burn rate. I’m stuck holding the bag of a bunch of illiquid assets (startup stock mostly).

                                I’m feeling pretty pessimistic about life (the world, politics, climate change, etc) but I’m generally an optimist. I still think technology can solve a lot of the world’s problems, but we need political change for that to happen.

                                So…if anyone wants to hire an experience serial entrepreneur, LMK. Here’s my GitHub profile: https://github.com/brndnmtthws

                                1. 2

                                  Hey man, I went through your GH and blog, you have some interesting content. I’m sorry things haven’t worked out for you. As someone that would also like to start his own startup and is currently working full-time at a company with a comfortable salary, I look at your blog posts and feel afraid that I may fall in the same situation if I decide to take the leap. As yourself I consider myself a good engineer and not so good at building relationships and making contacts. I’ll ponder on what you’ve written and plan accordingly. While I can’t offer you a job I do hope you get back up soon. Don’t be pessimistic, things will get better. Good luck brother!

                                  1. 1

                                    Thanks for the kind reply!

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                                  The coolest thing I worked on, was also the first thing I worked on. It was 2008 and Swedish Ericsson and Chinese Huawei was neck to neck, trying to be the first to release LTE, 4G. I was working at Ericsson, building a 4G simulator. That project in itself might not sound cool to others, but it was to me. As the competition was so fierce, we as mere test-tools developers, at that point knew more about the LTE/4G standards, tools, and network, than the people actually developing the network nodes. So, they called upon us instead to help push the front-line of the competition. Both companies desperately wanted to be the first ones to present 4G. All of a sudden, the test-tools team was cool.

                                  I strongly believe I, together with a colleague of mine, was the first person in the world to get a paging through in 4G/LTE. Paging basically being the network broadcasting out, trying to find your phone.

                                  Not sure why that stands out as exiting to me. Maybe it was just because of the fact that it was the first job I had after university.

                                  1. 3

                                    One of the coolest things I worked on was a parser for Ericsson’s eNodeB LTE data stream, which also involved writing a custom database that let us query and stream the data for a GIS application. Back then there weren’t really any good off the shelf DB options available, so I wrote everything (mostly) from scratch in C++.

                                  1. 4

                                    Fastmail has a feature where you can have <anything>@user.domain.com go to the inbox for a user. It’s handy, and it’s much harder for people to block (assuming you’re using your own domain). If I want to block a sender, I can just block everything for that particular address. It also makes it easy to organize mails, for example I could use slack@brenden.brndn.io for a slack account.

                                    1. 4

                                      I accomplish the same thing with Office 365. It’s quite confusing to customer service reps though. I have to explain the idea behind it at least once a month, but the sense of security that comes from knowing who leaked/sold my email is really nice.

                                    1. 3

                                      I agree. Vault is a glorified key value store with a lot of overkill features you’ll probably never use. Sops is a super useful utility that works well with Git-based ops, and it’s something you can grok in about 30 seconds. There’s little need for all the complexity Vault introduces unless you want to create job security for yourself.

                                      1. 15

                                        If anyone is interested in seeing how opinions change over time, this same question was asked two years ago.

                                        1. 0

                                          Awesome!

                                        1. 4

                                          Working on building my startup (a messaging app/alternative to the panopticon social media giants). Trying to figure out how to get the messaging right, get people to sign up and try it out, while also making the product work flawlessly.

                                          1. 4

                                            If you want to really differentiate, implement what’s discussed in the paper linked in my comment on this thread for contact discovery. It’s a new level of privacy that not even the folks at Signal and similar are achieving right now

                                            1. 3

                                              That’s really interesting, thanks for pointing it out. Contact discovery is definitely something tricky and we haven’t even tried to do it yet because of the obvious privacy/security issues.

                                              If you’re interested in chatting more about this, I’d love to talk to you. brenden@umpyre.com

                                              1. 2

                                                The on-line phase of our fastest protocol takes only 2.92s

                                                I’m not knocking your protocol; keep up the good work!

                                                But… I’ll happily knock your presentation style. [UPDATE: If I were the author, I’d like to think I’d do some things differently:] It’s fine to differentiate the setup-phase from the online-phase, etc, down in the meat of the paper, but it seems a bit disingenuous to bury the durations of the other phases (one of which is a different order of magnitude) and not present the total-end-to-end time at all. Also, I don’t have 1gb free except on SD card, and writing to that is slower than wifi…

                                                1. 2

                                                  Not my paper! I wish it was :)

                                                  These are absolutely valid criticisms. I appreciate that the authors show a table of how they fall short of requirements for real messaging applications.

                                            1. 2

                                              Scanned the blog post - what does it even do?

                                              Clicked the link to the homepage - at least there was one. Only a signup form.

                                              Sorry, I’m out - try again next time with a website or a better text. I have no idea why I as an open source developer would need a messaging platform.

                                              1. 1

                                                Thanks for the feedback. It’s a difficult idea to wrap your head around at first, but once it clicks most people have that “aha!” moment and everything’s downhill.

                                                We’ve debated the idea of a glossy landing page vs. a sign up form, and we haven’t really found the right answer. My personal preference is that when you go to umpyre.com you land in the app, rather than hitting a landing page. This is better for existing users IMO.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Sorry for the late reply, but I’m torn on this one. DigitalOcean has something like this which I hate.

                                                  Every time I’m logged in there (not soo often) I need the Pricing page, so I need a new privacy window to get to the actual landing page because they hide the normal page from logged in users. I’m sure there are good reasons, but it doesn’t match how I use the site :P

                                              1. 0

                                                It says “your data is stored locally for your privacy” and yet it requires a phone number to register? Am I the only one who sees a contradiction here?

                                                1. 2

                                                  The goal of the phone verification is to keep spam/bots/fake accounts off.

                                                  We’ve thought long and hard about this, but the options are very limited. One option is to use a reference/invite system like lobste.rs, but I don’t think that’s great because it cuts out a lot of people. Another option is to use 3rd parties, another is to use captchas. Captchas have a lot of problems, and we don’t want to depend on 3rd parties.

                                                  If you have other ideas on how to make sure accounts are good quality (i.e., real humans), while also reaching wide audiences, I’m open to suggestions.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Thanks for the feedback by the way, I updated the wording to be more clear. Hope you give us a shot some day.