1. 29

    As someone who was in the position of the child not so long ago - please don’t do this*. Giving children without any explicit interest to learn about these things gifts trying to initiate some interest will fail for both 90% of the time. Sure, most people here would have loved (or were fortunate enough) to have been given technological gifts when they were children, but that’s easy to say now. If on the other hand you would have been giving something you had absolutely no interest in, or unfortunately no capacity to learn at that age, say a dictionary of ancient greek, an introduction to advanced arctic-geology, the collected works of Hegel or socks, and you know on some level that the person giving you the present is hoping for you to be as happy about it as they think they would have been - well that kind of “pressure” (for the lack of a better word) is not really a nice present, even if it was unintentionally. On the other hand, from the side of the person who gave the gift, unless you enjoy disappointment, you won’t feel much better either.

    *: I’d like to clarify that I’m not trying to universally condem any gifts with the intention to boost a childs interest in some subject - just be sure that he or she has a potential to understand it, and know her or him good enough to be sure that they are the kind of person to be interested in it. Not every present is appropriate for every child. Thinking about it twice will prevent you from becoming the person who is trying to force his interest on children and your present to just disappear in a cupboard indefinitely.

    1. 7

      +1 to this, as the parent of a 6-year-old.

      We have Robot Turtles (as mentioned in another thread) and we’ve played it quite a few times, and she simply doesn’t find it compelling. This is not intended as a knock on the game, I’m sure it’s great for a lot of kids, but different kids like different things. I bought the card game SET, and she gets it and will grudgingly play it with me but insists that it’s boring and that she’d rather do something else. I bought her “No Stress Chess” and she learned how the game works and how the pieces move but decided she would rather act out little dramas with the king and queen and such.

      I’ll keep trying more things, but you can’t force kids into any of this stuff. (Or at least you shouldn’t, is my belief.)

      I would love it if she wanted to learn coding, but this year for Christmas she really wants a Barbie that turns into a mermaid and also into a fairy, so that’s what she’s getting. Maybe next year.

      1. 2

        Edit: Previous comment didn’t really move the discussion forward, so here’s a new one.

        Can you make your comment more constructive? Answers to some of the following would really help.

        • Was there a certain approach, attitude, or expectation that put you off?
        • How was “gift to try and initiate interest” conveyed? If it had been conveyed differently, like “toy that might resonate with deeper interest”, would you have had a better experience? What would each of these approaches look like to you?
        • Is there a certain kind of gift/kit/etc that was too complicated/specialized/specifically about learning?
        • Was there an interest of yours that had been mistaken for an interest in programming?
        • Were there redeeming parts of your experience that could be illustrative for a better approach?
        • Any specific input on what “he or she has a potential to understand it” means as it relates to your experience, or that would surprise a casual observer?

        Surely there are ways to go about giving gifts that involve learning (not necessarily as a primary focus) that isn’t “pressure”.

        I feel like you have an interesting perspective to share, but it’s all hidden behind a dismissive post. Even if your experience was an unmitigated disaster, there is something you could offer beyond “don’t even think about doing this”.

        1. 4

          Was there a certain approach, attitude, or expectation that put you off?

          Not really “put me off “ - but I’d say that there was often an expectation that I already understood more than I did. In my case it was a electronics kit, but I didn’t know (and nobody told me (or at least I didn’t understand if if anyone did)) that electricity needs to flow in a circuit - and why should it? There’s only one wire from the plug hole to a lamp, why would this be any different?

          How was “gift to try and initiate interest” conveyed?

          To give an opposite example from my previous one - my grandfather, who was a professor of physics, once bought me some game (I can’t remember what it actually was, I was 5 y/o) that had to do with motors, moment and mechanics, etc. And he wanted to explain it all to me, but - not that I didn’t like it per se - but I just wasn’t interested in the physical stuff. There were little cut-out mammoths I found great delight with, and I remember my grandfather being disappointed to put it mildly that I didn’t want to play with the actual things…

          If it had been conveyed differently, like “toy that might resonate with deeper interest”, would you have had a better experience?

          … so it’s not really a problem of intention, or that’s at least not what I meant (I’m sorry if I was misunderstood). The issue just was that back then, I had e.g more interest in ancient animals than the laws of mechanics. So maybe it would have been different if I had an interest in physics, but for that I would have had to have had a basic understanding of the subject - without that - if all these things stay “mystical”, “magical” ideas beyond comprehension - I believe not much can be done to help the child develop an interest. So again, make sure the child is curious and capable (age and education wise) to engage with subject you want to introduce them to.

          Is there a certain kind of gift/kit/etc that was too complicated/specialized/specifically about learning?

          I’ve given examples already from my childhood, but for the most part I’d recommend not to give toolkits as first gifts. If one doesn’t have any idea what to do with it, or how to use it, it will either be forgotten or broken before one actually learns to use it properly.

          Was there an interest of yours that had been mistaken for an interest in programming?

          Well in my case it wasn’t programming, I had to teach myself all of that. Interestingly enough, I did always have a greater interest in things related to computers, but I guess my family were less interested in it, so they didn’t feel like supporting it. So the tip here would be to maybe transcend ones owns interest and actually try to support something the child actually likes.

          Were there redeeming parts of your experience that could be illustrative for a better approach?

          None of which I could think of spontaneously, I might edit the post later on if I come to think of something.

          Any specific input on what “he or she has a potential to understand it” means as it relates to your experience, or that would surprise a casual observer?

          “If the toy says ages 9-16, don’t give it to a 5 year old child” would be a good guideline. I’ve already implied it, but I’ll say it again, make sure the child’s first exposure isn’t this toy - 95% of the time this will go wrong, especially with younger children.

          Surely there are ways to go about giving gifts that involve learning (not necessarily as a primary focus) that isn’t “pressure”.

          Of course, the pressure I was talking about doesn’t (or at least in my case didn’t) come from the presents themselves, but the expectation from the people who gave them to me, to flourish or immediately develop a profound interest in the subject. I guess you could see this more as an attitude problem from the perspective of the gift-giver, but (depending of the child) he or she can feel that too. That’s the uncomfortable part, I really want children to be spared from.

          I feel like you have an interesting perspective to share, but it’s all hidden behind a dismissive post. Even if your experience was an unmitigated disaster, there is something you could offer beyond “don’t even think about doing this”.

          I apologize if my first commend was a bit too dismissive, I hoped my last paragraph would give the whole thing a positive turn, that’s why I added the footnote after the first sentence. But I hope I could clarify a few things now, and help you and anyone reading this with coming to an informed choice, when thinking about giving gifts with good intentions. Again, if it’s the right gift for the right person, it’s fantastic, but it’s not that easy to make sure that that is the case!

          1. 4

            if you are lucky enough to be able to work with the child and the gift, or you know their parents will be supportive, then you might create an interest, otherwise @zge comment is unforutnately the likely outcome - unless you know that they already have an interest in that area.

            however, if the gift is fun and doable by the child then it can be a real success - although, the age on the tin is not helpful, my youngest is 7 years younger than her older siblings and she has aways played with age inappropriate toys :~)

            my 2 pence worth from the perspective of a being a Dad :~)

            1. 4

              if you are lucky enough to be able to work with the child and the gift

              I wish I could edit the OP as this is exactly the case, and there has been expressed interest.

              1. 4

                If it’s practical to do so, why not take the child somewhere where sciency toys are on display and see what he/she gravitates towards? I think if the learning is initiated by curiosity in the child then it’s more likely to have lasting effects.

                I started taking guitar lessons when I was five years old because my granddad saw me staring at a guitar and he asked me if I wanted to learn (and I did). I don’t know how I would have reacted if I was just given an instrument as a gift without anyone asking beforehand what I thought about it.

        1. 1

          I generally agree with the observations except this one:

          Second, IT engineers by nature tend to be optimists, as reflected in the common acronym SMOP: “simple matter of programming.”

          Maybe I just hang out with the cynical crowd, but I’ve never heard a professional programmer use that phrase in a non-snarky way. How could we get such a genius character like Gilfoyle if IT people are generally optimists?

          1. 2

            I agree, I’ve only seen SMOP used sarcastically—but there’s still an optimism under it. It might be “we can do that in six months, not two weeks,” but there is always the concept of of course we can do it… underlying it.

          1. 3

            Really great article. I am reminded of an older post “Taco Bell Programming”[1] that trolls a bit but does a good job of getting the Unix philosophy point across…and can easily lead to the dangers elaborated in this post.

            I have indeed committed the sin of parsing stdout and stderr in ways I should not have from programs that were not meant for such things. I have been bitten. But I wasn’t crazy enough to put it in production!

            http://widgetsandshit.com/teddziuba/2010/10/taco-bell-programming.html

            1. 6

              I don’t see it that way. The author never makes a convincing case that Qt Creator hanging has anything to do with passing text between Qt Creator and gdb. You can pass error codes in any number of ways and you can set network timeouts even on command line tools. It seems like there was just an unfortunate bug in QtCreator that set him off on a rant.

              Also this:

              You see, on UNIX there’s GDB. That’s the debugger. That’s the only debugger. It’s very old and has had a lot of work put into it, and as a result it usually works pretty well, at least in terms of functionality. But on every other metric you measure software by, it kinda sucks.

              So by the metrics of completely being open source, costing 0 dollars, and supporting tons of targets, gdb “kinda sucks”?

              Despite every computer made in the past 40 years having a graphical display, GDB lives in a parallel universe where the framebuffer was never invented and we all still use teletype printers.

              gdb lives in a parallel universe where having a limited debug server that can run on lots of targets is really useful.

              1. 2

                I wasn’t arguing that point - gdb is a fine tool. My argument was a bit more general. There are many tools out there that don’t output in a way meant for automated consumption, and the output is subject to change at any moment because a contract was never declared. Unless formalized and specified outright and beforehand, text messages and log data is not an API and should not be treated as such. Those that write software around command line tools that don’t have output specifications available should be wary of using the tools that way. The strange thing as that as even though these tools are rewritten as open source in Linux and BSD, many go untouched and treated as black boxes. Why not crack open ssh and hook into lib calls instead? And if the code is not amenable to that, why not fork it and make it so?

                1. 3

                  As mentioned by myfreeweb, GDB does have a full terminal interface (although enabling it is an obscure command I can never remember). Also, GDB has a documented protocol to communicate with it—they don’t parse the text output.

                  The post is a rant about bad error reporting, but it doesn’t acknowledge that error reporting is both tedious and hard. For example, a routine to copy a file, given a source filename and a destination file name. First point of failure—can’t open the source file. Second point of failure—can’t open the destination file. Hard problem number 1—if the destination exists, is that an error? Or not? Do you allow the option to overwrite the destination? Okay, still can’t open the destination file, hard problem number two—you need to close the open source file (else you leak an open file descriptor), but the close can fail. If it fails, do you report that error? Or the original failure? Can the language you use even allow multiple error codes to be returned? Hard problem number three—how do you return which file had the error? Can your language do that? It doesn’t matter if your language just does return codes, or exceptions, it’s still the same issue—what if your exception handler throws an exception (and not via an explicit “throw”)?

                  And I never did get to the actual copying of data either …

            1. 18

              Every time I talk to a recent grad I hear a vadriation of the phrase “I know how to code, I can code in anything”.

              The other way this fails is languages not derived from ALGOL. I had this attitude a few years into programming when I knew HyperTalk, Visual Basic, PHP, and Python. I was corrected by diving into SQL, assembly, PostScript, Haskell, esolangs…

              1. 7

                Algol-derived is a big one, but bigger is whether the language assumes mutable state is the default state of existence, and immutability is either inexpressible or tacked-on.

                For example, Lisp isn’t Algol derived. However, Algol and Lisp are more similar than different on the level of how data moves through a program, because they both assume mutable state is the default, and an unmarked default at that, with relatively weak (if any) support for immutable state tacked on later, if ever. The essential similarity between Lisp and Algol is really pointed up by Scheme, on one side, and Python, on the other.

                OTOH, declarative languages, such as SQL, and functional languages, such as Haskell, really break brains because their model of data is very different. Spreadsheets are another data paradigm: Automated data flow from cell to cell, in an implicitly parallel environment.

                1. 3

                  I was surprised when I learned that XSLT is a pure functional language, mainly because I didn’t find it that hard at all (my website is generated from an XML file via XSLT). Verbose, hell yes. Hard? Not really. But in retrospect, I can see the functional nature of XSLT.

                  1. 2

                    I wonder how hard it is than to switch from Common Lisp to Clojure considering completely different take on mutability.

                  2. 3

                    APL derivatives, Lisplikes, Autohotkey, LabVIEW, Prolog, Excel… I’ve wondered what it would be like to construct a list of “basis” languages that cover all of the different forms of programming, and if such a list is even possible.

                    1. 5

                      Have you looked into programming language genealogy? I find the family tree diagrams especially fascinating. http://rigaux.org/language-study/diagram.html

                      1. 3

                        @xmodem Is there a field of learning with literature for this ? Here is another programming language family tree that I see more often.

                        I too am fascinated by genealogy and the events that shape programming languages!

                        1. 4

                          Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Programming covers several programming paradigms. There’s a diagram from the book that shows their taxonomy.

                        2. 3

                          Me too! I created an ascii diagram for fun a few years ago: https://gist.github.com/ChadSki/f0be01dd2556f04753b1

                          1. 1

                            Where’s COBOL and BASIC in this? They each had huge impact. Main concept is that programming could be almost as easy as pseudocode for basic applications. A flawed idea but all kinds of people did productive things with it.

                            1. 2

                              COBOL is on line #4.

                              I think I omitted BASIC because it doesn’t influence enough other languages. Wikipedia lists Visual Basic, VB.Net, RealBasic (Xojo), and AutoHotKey. There aren’t any interesting crossovers with e.g. Lisp or ML.

                              1. 1

                                Darn, I don’t know how I overlooked it. Apologies. I guess BASIC could be omitted on that criteria as COBOL already did the Code Like English concept. It’s overall a nice tree of languages. +1 for text art. :)

                        3. 2

                          My attempt at that was to look at Wikipedia’s list of programming paradigms to find key languages for each. Filter out those that dont have FOSS implementation. Pick the best of them as far as stated complexity vs learning materials available. And you then have close to a list like what you’re looking for.

                          1. 3

                            In true Larry Wall style (Laziness Impatience Hubris)
                            Care to share your results?

                      1. 11

                        If you read in between the lines, it appears that management was complacent to lay problems at Rick’s doorstop, and didn’t care that Rick and/or the team didn’t take time to document the problem and/or resolution.

                        …..

                        Instead of tackling the root cause of the issue (hey man, whats eating you?), they opted for the quick and easy fix (Hey Rick, GTFO!). Par for the course, as far as I can tell.

                        If you read actual text, you’d see that this was something the company already thought of:

                        I agree that the situation that came about was also his manager’s fault. He never should have been allowed to take on so much. If it gives comfort to anyone else reading this, the manager went first because ultimately management bears responsibility, always.

                        They then followed up with:

                        Rick rejected months of overtures by leadership. He refused to take time off or allow any work to be delegated. He also repeatedly rejected attempts to introduce free open source frameworks to replace hard-to-maintain bespoke tools.

                        As I mention in a comment on the original post, I’m surprised at how many people are kneejerk defending Rick. In this case, I’m embarassed for this poster who not only kneejerk defended him, but claimed additional insight into the story, all while ignoring the wealth of info provided by the original author.

                        Could he have provided this info in the original post? Sure. Why should he have to? What is so special about this particular “we fired a toxic team member” story that everyone is instantly certain they did it wrong? And unwilling to do even the least bit of additional reading about it?

                        Why does this story of Rick prompt such irrational, emotional responses?

                        1. 21

                          Why does this story of Rick prompt such irrational, emotional responses?

                          Explaining why someone was terminated within a company is a really delicate task. Doing so on the internet requires even more tact.

                          Comparing the terminated employee with a narcissistic, nihilistic, and downright crazy cartoon character doesn’t demonstrate much respect for the terminated employee or the seriousness of the situation. I think that’s the main reason the original article left a bad taste in my mouth.

                          1. 5

                            Thanks @davidholman, it’s bizarre to me that someone could think the comparison or even the title of the original blog post are any acceptable way for a manager to discuss other colleagues.

                          2. 8

                            Hey thanks for the reply, I did apparently miss something in the original - likely as it was hidden underneath the blanket of scapegoating. The “actual text” link from you is a completely different article however, that I had not yet seen.

                            To answer the question you pose at the bottom: it’s because many of us have been there. Either directly involved or on the sidelines. We’ve seen the personalities and the egos and the mismanagement. It’s a difficult subject. However I wouldn’t call the responses “irrational”. Emotional, yes, but those empathetic enough will relive their own personal experiences and react. I worked for a toxic company for several years, and saw some bad shit. I saw crazy nepotistic owners oversell the world and then fire those that they used after burning them out to the core. Those who survive take away an insight that we shouldn’t need. Ask me how many times a day I get to say “no” to some absurd request now :)

                            1. 3

                              The “actual text” link from you is a completely different article however

                              It’s a comment on the original article. Medium treats it as an additional document, but it’s eminently findable on the original article page.

                              However I wouldn’t call the responses “irrational”.

                              How is it rational? A rational response to “somebody I don’t know got fired” might be something like “did he deserve to be fired? I’ll look into that”, or “something sounds fishy about this story. If I feel the need to post my own essay response, it will be asking those questions and examining different ways they could be answered”.

                              Not “I’m now going to post a kneejerk rant against imagined management problems, because Rick deserved better!”. That seems textbook irrational to me.

                              those empathetic enough will relive their own personal experiences and react.

                              I did. I’ve been burnt by Ricks before. I suspect I’ll be burnt by Ricks again. My response is similar to the original article author’s: fix systemic problems where possible, train toxic people when possible, but fire toxic people who insist on remaining toxic.

                            2. 8

                              Could he have provided this info in the original post? Sure. Why should he have to? What is so special about this particular “we fired a toxic team member” story that everyone is instantly certain they did it wrong? And unwilling to do even the least bit of additional reading about it?

                              The guy who wrote the original article, which is 99% scapegoating “Rick”, is a manager who seriously thinks literally months of 12-hour days 7 days a week is a good idea: https://medium.freecodecamp.org/our-team-broke-up-with-instant-legacy-releases-and-you-can-too-d129d7ae96bb :

                              It took eight months of seven-day weeks and twelve-hour days to complete our last legacy system overhaul.

                              No wonder “Rick” burnt out.

                              1. [Comment removed by author]

                                1. 9

                                  Right, and they fired the manager.

                                  Then they tried, for a year, to coax Rick into a different, better, set of work behaviors, and he resisted the entire time. Then he was fired. That part all seems reasonable to me.

                                  1. 5

                                    And then instead of reasonably moving on from the monster they ultimately created, they publicly shat on the guy, nicknaming him after a cartoon character that embodies every character flaw I can think of. That seems to be the source of contention, at least for me.

                                2. 6

                                  The title of the story is about firing rick, and being proud of it, not “we fucked up bad and we unfortunately had to fire someone”. The content of the article is 99% about how Rick was to blame for everything. I can’t even find the link you gave off the front page, I assume it’s nested somewhere in the content. So your claim that you just have to read the actual text and everyone is freaking out over nothing doesn’t jive with reality:

                                  The author, as management, does not take responsibility in the original post.

                                1. 4

                                  Interestingly, this is one of the questions that has a precise mathematical solution (when it is idealized of course). Essentially, if there is a fixed cost associated with owning a thing vs a cost for using it, each time period, you can break even (on average) if you buy the thing just after you have spent sufficient money on rent to have bought it in the first place.

                                  1. 4

                                    The problem you linked is trading off buying versus renting when the future use is uncertain, but most people expect to either own a home or pay rent every month until they die. The NYT calculator is mainly about calculating the NPV of two streams of payments and trading off the opposing opportunity costs (investing your down payment vs missing out on rising home values).

                                  1. 4

                                    Stupid question: can I just put the local prices (I don’t live in the USA) there and have some meaningful results? In other words: is there anything US specific?

                                    1. 2

                                      In the US, one can deduct mortgage interest paid on their primary residence from their income. The calculator factors this in, so you could set the marginal tax rate slider to 0% and that should remove it from the calculations if you don’t have an equivalent deduction in your country.

                                      1. 3

                                        I mean you can, but I haven’t paid enough interest to justify itemizing for years at this point. I think, like… two or maybe three years of my mortgage generated enough. Another year of my business generated enough. Mostly, though, it hasn’t been worth doing any deductions.

                                        1. 3

                                          If you live in a state with state income tax then that deduction alone can put you over the standard deduction to start with, so the home mortgage interest will be added on top even if it’s small on its own.

                                          1. 1

                                            Wait, you can deduct state income tax? Do you know if online services like TurboTax take that into account when recommending whether you should itemize or not? I’ve never even attempted to itemize because I assumed it wouldn’t be worthwhile…

                                            1. 4

                                              Every few years, get a CPA to do your taxes. Find out what you’ve been doing wrong. Re-file. Then use the program for a few more years.

                                              1. 3

                                                Every tax program should handle that.

                                      1. 4

                                        Such was the state of C programming tutorials in 2007. Plenty of lies about heap, stack, global variables, and other made-up features not defined in the C spec. No mention of undefined behavior.

                                        1. 6

                                          But those are all terms that experienced C programmers use commonly. Anyone wanting to learn the language would need to understand this to communicate with people who already know C and have used it for years.

                                          Also, a lie is an intentional falsehood. Accusing someone of putting intentional falsehoods in their free tutorial seems like an unnecessarily damning accusation to throw around.

                                          1. 3

                                            I would have phrased it differently, but I think there’s a big difference between learning C programming as a concept, and then noting there are some practical implications for real world implementation, vs trying to teach a particular implementation. People who focus on “what really happens” ironically seem to make the most mistakes. More chances to go astray I think. For instance, calling static variables heap variables seems very error prone given the common advice to also free heap memory.

                                            1. 2

                                              But those are all terms that experienced C programmers use commonly. Anyone wanting to learn the language would need to understand this to communicate with people who already know C and have used it for years.

                                              Of course. So instead of abusing terms, what a good tutorial might do is properly explain these terms and how they relate to typical implementations of C. Having explained said terms is no excuse for not also explaining and then using actual defined C concepts such as scopes, storage durations and linkage. There’ll be fewer lies to unlearn.

                                            2. 1

                                              Where would you point people for a C tutorial relevant in 2017?

                                              1. 12

                                                I’m not aware of one I’d really want to endorse.

                                                “Modern C” gets more things right than your typical C tutorial – which go to the greatest lengths to avoid using standard terminology and make up their own nonsense instead. Unfortunately Modern C is also way more verbose (and makes a poor job of getting to the point) than it needs to be, and comes with plenty of dogma. It’s not entirely free of nonsense either. But it’s probably among the best of the bunch.

                                                http://icube-icps.unistra.fr/index.php/File:ModernC.pdf

                                                1. 1

                                                  I have this one on the queue; it seems pretty clear headed. But you’re right, it is very long winded.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    One approach I’ve recommended to people in the past is to just pick up whatever tutorial they need to get started with (basic syntax and concepts, a few examples), then grab a copy of the C standard drafts and just start working with real code. Look things up as you go. Read the man pages (especially from OpenBSD) for any library function you encounter. Search for dowd_ch06.pdf and read that carefully. Expert C Programming is a decent read too, once you’ve got things rolling.

                                                    It’ll take a while to get all the details right, but C is ultimately a fairly simple language. It shouldn’t need a huge exposition like Modern C; and if a newcomer starts by reading one, chances are they’ll forget most of the details anyway, or fail to appreciate their significance. For reference material, one might as well go straight to N1256 (or preferred version).

                                                2. 1

                                                  Learn C The Hard Way, which is a paid book now :( The online version was taken down… but you can still find it

                                                  1. 5

                                                    I’ve worked about a third of the way through the free version. Shaw is sort of hard to take, especially when I don’t know enough about what he writing about to judge for myself–his opinions on Python 2 vs. 3 soured me on using him as an initial tutorial for, well, pretty much anything.

                                              1. [Comment from banned user removed]

                                                1. 3

                                                  Depends on what you mean by “mass produced.” If you mean built in high volume at a single factory, then $300 doesn’t sound unreasonable. If you mean produced by every factory that makes keyboards like most commodity keyboards, then <$50 would sound more reasonable.

                                                  You can read the blog posts over at http://blog.keyboard.io about producing a mechanical keyboard in China. There’s a huge amount of work in bringing a unique product like that to market. The reason a random keyboard from Fry’s is so cheap is that every company is practically selling the same keyboard with a different brand label on it.

                                                  Regarding the comment “it’s not even wireless,” adding a BT IC and antenna to a keyboard hardly has any impact on the per unit cost compared to the mechanicals when you’re building something unique like this.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    Keyboards should be moving in the direction of “tactile but silent”.

                                                    Not really. Auditory feedback is processed much faster than tactile feedback and this matters when you start typing faster. Cherry MX brown switches are the best combination as far as I’m concerned.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      or some HRTF binaural ASMR that emits the typing sound based on posture, limb lengths and key being pressed. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this guy wouldn’t consider it authentic enough. As much as I liked buckling spring, modern day mechanical are tactile enough that the sound pollution tradeoff just isn’t worth it.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        You think there is enough demand to justify mass producing this?

                                                        I think the only nonsense here is the $50 you just pulled out of thin air.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        This isn’t “the hard thing” about software development, as if there were only one.

                                                        First of all, employers want to make regular coding work a commodity. They’ve succeeded. The race to the bottom, as described in the article, exists. The product is junk, but (a) you can always hire better engineers later, right? and (b) no middle manager gets fired for buying cheap and squeezing down.

                                                        The issue is that people who are smart enough to solve tough problems (i.e., to do the work that commodity rent-a-coders can’t do) are generally averse to being typecast as business subordinates. They’ll only care about executive-level business concerns if they’re paid and treated at least as well as the execs, if not better (since a half-decent programmer– okay, my bar for “half-decent” might be high and someone else’s “quite good”– is smarter than 95% of non-technical VPs).

                                                        Employers want contradictory things from programmers. They want them to care about the business and think proactively about the business’s needs, but they also want for programmers to be subordinates. You really don’t get both, not from a smart person.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          It’s not just an unwillingness to be subordinate. Many companies (if not the vast majority) have an openly hostile environment for engineers that want to understand and contribute to the business side of things. Stepping out of line creates drama that many technical people don’t have the emotional self-management skills to tolerate.

                                                          This is where strong engineering management matters. If you’re a good EM that protects talented people, then they stick around and grow. If you let them get kicked around by insecure product managers who can’t tolerate anyone else understanding how the business works, then as soon as someone progresses past the junior engineer stage, they’ll be looking for a new job where their opinions matter.

                                                          The fact that the author can’t find good senior engineers might say something about the culture he’s immersed in.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Every single CEO of any IT company wants to build software faster. Time is the most expensive and valuable resource. You can’t waste it on re-work, refactoring, meetings, physical activities.

                                                          I have literally never worked for anyone with this belief. Stability, brand reputation, security, and financial correctness have always taken priority over time to market. I am certain there are very, very rare exceptions, but they rarely pass the sniff test.

                                                          I think the whole culture around delivery speed is a natural and logical business reaction to the uncertainty inherent in a part-creative discipline like software. Anyone who is realistically concerned about such things is in desperate need of a talented manager.

                                                          1. 5

                                                            Stability, brand reputation, security, and financial correctness have always taken priority over time to market.

                                                            Based on what I’ve read and experienced it seems like you’ve had exceptional leadership where you’ve worked. Can you share the company or if there’s some way to identify a workplace like this? You can ask directly in an interview but everyone claims they care about quality…

                                                            1. 2

                                                              the one example I think I can safely share was AMZN. (this was over 7 years ago, so adjust numbers accordingly) when touching anything in the ordering pipeline, the first question was “is this stable” and the last metric viewed was “did the order rate dip”. when you are processing 2k - 20k orders/second and the average user won’t retry after a code 500, a 60 second outage could cost a million bucks.

                                                            2. 3

                                                              Totally agreed. If a CEO wants speed and you explain the trade offs that will be made, if he/she still wants speed, it’s then a matter of strategy. People are not all evil and when you explain them why quality is a cost, they understand it and from my little experience, play with it a few time and find the right gauge.

                                                              I listened recently an old Devops café podcast that was talking about this issue, and the interviewee explained that they put a speed scale on the wall for the Product Mangers, explaining that faster is possible, but it has some costs, but let the PMs change the speed. Interestingly, the PM understood pretty quickly that being >80% wasn’t a good idea.

                                                            1. 6

                                                              This article seems written to create a bunch of anxiety without any actual solutions.

                                                              Don’t write code just because it’s fun—instead, solve the problem the right way

                                                              Ok, what’s the right way? According to the article, sometimes it’s this, sometimes it’s that, but I’m not going to tell you how to pick!

                                                              But when you’re working, when you’re trying to get a product shipped, when you’re trying to get a bug fixed: be a professional

                                                              I definitely wouldn’t want to be unprofessional if I want to keep my job… what should I do?? The article doesn’t even tell me what professionalism is - except definitely don’t have fun at work!

                                                              1. 1

                                                                I’m sorry this made you anxious.

                                                                But here’s the thing: there are no answers. There are no rules. There’s a reason my blog is called “Code Without Rules”: I can’t tell you what to do, because it all depends on the circumstances you’re in.

                                                                When we’re just starting out as programmers we get a spec and we implement it. And that’s comforting: we know exactly what we need to do. But beyond a certain point we end up having to design things ourselves, make the big choices on our own. And when we do, there are no rules, no easy answers. There’s only different circumstances with different solutions.

                                                                There are principles, yes: “how fun something is shouldn’t be the main criteria when designing something at work” was the point I was trying to get across. And as is the case with every post I write, people here on Lobsters point out exceptions, because—there’s no rules.

                                                                Pretty much everything I’ve written over past year is attempt to try to get principles rather than rules across, and it’s hard. Again, I’m sorry if I didn’t do as well as I could have in this case.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been so snarky.

                                                                  I fully agree that making good technical decisions in the context of a business is subtle and takes years of experience to learn to do well.

                                                                  My issue is that the article really adds no value other than pointing out the problem. What makes it worse in my opinion is that the main point is obscured behind moralizing and patronizing language that could make the kind of people who would benefit from the message (young/inexperience) more confused and stressed out than helped.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    I think it’s useful to point out problems, because if you don’t know a problem exists you won’t even think about the solution. In this case simply being aware of the problem seems like it would help solve it, in part. But please share you have suggestions for better solutions, or rather better ways of making the solution easier to follow.

                                                                    Could you point out specific or sentences that you felt was patronizing/moralizing? Definitely don’t want to do that, so good to know what things came across that way. Well, I guess I do want to come across as moralizing in that I think programmers have a professional responsibility to users and customers. But not in an off-putting way, so examples of where I didn’t do well would be welcome :)

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      The two sentences I highlighted are the most obvious offenders.

                                                                      Don’t tell someone to do something “right” without defining right. In a technical or work situation I would almost never use the expression “right way to do something” because it’s so loaded. Be specific about what you want to be done in what way. Instead of using a right/wrong dichotomy, explain the specific benefits or costs.

                                                                      “Be a professional” is similar. Calling into question someone’s professionalism is very harsh, particularly as you mention that you’re bringing something up many people might not even have considered before.

                                                                      What I think would have made this article come off as more helpful would be if you discussed actual tradeoffs you might want to consider when deciding how to solve a problem. E.g., if you use a library, it could save a lot of time, but too many dependencies are hard to manage. Writing tests can be boring or slow development in the short term, but if it saves your coworkers from being at the office on the weekend fixing your mistake, then maybe it’s worth it.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        Thanks!

                                                              1. -2

                                                                Inclusive is codeword for ‘not white/asian male’?

                                                                Every time somebody is hired because the employer goes out of their way to be diverse, somebody else wasn’t hired for that same spot.

                                                                Diversity is just a social instead of governmental (but sometimes governmental) way to discriminate against the dominant subgroup for the non-dominant “oppressed” minorities. A perverted way to get people to atone for their original sin (being born to the dominant majority subgroup). Of course when we talk about diversity in tech we rarely talk about asian males, since they don’t seem to have any problem succeeding in this domain more or less.

                                                                This is a mind virus. An ideologically driven way to favor some groups over another by claiming that the favored groups are somehow ‘oppressed’ and therefore they are to be favored to balance the scale.

                                                                1. 19

                                                                  Group diversity has been shown to correlate with better results in a variety of settings. It’s not just affirmative action; inclusive teams produce better work by anticipating needs and circumventing shitty groupthink.

                                                                  1. 4

                                                                    Sources/further details please? I am concerned about the conflation of several different definitions of “diversity”. In particular, field-relevant experiential/educational diversity is drastically different from skin color diversity and neither is a good heuristic for the other.

                                                                    1. 5

                                                                      If this was true then why would there need to be any governmental enforced diversity quota/incentive?

                                                                      If group diversity is beneficial then we would already see organisations embrace it for its own productive benefits. Instead we see socially mandated diversity and after-the-facts rationalisation.

                                                                      1. 17

                                                                        If group diversity is beneficial then we would already see organisations embrace it

                                                                        Doesn’t this strike you as exactly an after-the-fact rationalization? You’re assuming that the best solutions always arise within a particular time interval. For example, travel back in time 10 years and try making this argument. Now try 100. 500. 1000. Which things were worse back then that are better now? Would you still refute the possibility of improvement based on the notion that since the best thing hadn’t arised naturally at that point in time that it therefore never would?

                                                                        (Note that I am not criticizing your position against “mandated diversity,” but rather, your specious argumentation.)

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          You’re assuming that the best solutions always arise within a particular time interval.

                                                                          There are 2 possibilities here:

                                                                          1. Diversity is good but the free enterprise system has failed miserably in figuring out that it is good so the mighty government and social engineers need to force people to adopt the superior system of organisation.

                                                                          2. Diversity doesn’t really help but the government and its master-ideologues want to impose it on the population at large via media indoctrination and legal imposition.

                                                                          Given that many complex organisational system has been developed by business in order to improve productivity, and that so much effort is put into squeezing even 1% increase in some industries, the idea that they have totally missed this grand strategy of just flooding the workspace with one-of-every-animal seems unlikely to be true.

                                                                          This is especially since if diversity is a benefit, one has to probably agree that it would be an incrementally increasing benefit i.e. 2-groups would be slightly better than 1-groups and so it would be pretty apparent to at least some people that (n+1)-group is better than n-group, and these people would of course write a bunch of books and we would see that companies that are homogenous get out-competed from the market.

                                                                          Instead we have people calling those who disagree racist/sexist/classist/bigot and calls for minorities to be inserted into the most prestigious (ceos, senators) and the recently-cool programming jobs. Meanwhile calls for diversity in the mineral mining sector is quite silent.

                                                                          Wouldn’t we get increase in productivity if we plonk down some women in a mine somewhere or as part of a sanitation team?

                                                                          Of course the best solution doesn’t always arise at a particular time, this is clearly true since if it arose at time x it didn’t arise at time y. But nobody is claiming that diversity can not possibly be the best solution because it didn’t arise sooner, but because a bunch of people looking around for the best solution didn’t find it to be very promising.

                                                                          1. 10

                                                                            Diversity is good but the free enterprise system has failed miserably in figuring out that it is good so the mighty government and social engineers need to force people to adopt the superior system of organisation.

                                                                            This has happened a few times before. See: Environmental regulations, financial regulations, health regulations.

                                                                            1. 9

                                                                              a few times

                                                                              This happens constantly. Free enterprise is extraordinarily bad at optimizing, and outright incapable of considering second-order effects (to the extent that economists had to invent a jargon term for it—“externality”—so they could sweep it under the rug).

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                What would you cite as the primary causes of the technological growth in the last 200 years?

                                                                                Do you think some externalities could be removed via a more comprehensive system of private property?

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  What would you cite as the primary causes of the technological growth in the last 200 years?

                                                                                  My simplified answer would be: mainly governments deciding to pour large amounts of resources into technology R&D, for various reasons that mostly have orbited around “empire” and “military”. The British Empire’s investments in railroad, mining, energy, and engine technology; the 19th century French and German governments’ big stable of scientist/inventors in their applied-science and engineering institutes (von Humboldt, Carnot, Coriolis, the Curies, etc.). In the 20th century, both the Axis and Allies’ crash R&D programs: V-2 rockets, the Manhattan Project, Bletchley Park; and later the thermonuclear program, ENIAC, the space race, ARPA, and so on.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    What role did free enterprise play in those developments?

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Implementation assistance and tear-away sustainability plan.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        Would said technological improvement have been feasible without free enterprise? If not, what justifies the characterization that it is “extraordinarily bad at optimizing?” If so, what took us so long to make the progress in the first place?

                                                                                        i.e., Is the rise of (comparatively) free enterprise and the technological boom simultaneously just a coincidence? If you believe that, how do you convince others of that?

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          I doubt you could convince many people they are a unrelated events.

                                                                                          The most obvious argument I can see is that technology enabled free enterprise, rather than the other way around. I’d have to think a bit more before I could flesh it out further, though.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            That’s reasonable.

                                                                                            For the most part, I’m trying to call into question the notion that free enterprise is terrible at optimization. There are plenty of examples where it doesn’t arrive to obviously ideal circumstances, but if you’re going to say that it’s terrible at optimization, then the natural question to ask is: compared to what? IMO, even doing that comparison is fraught with peril and probably so difficult that it’s impossible, which leads me to the conclusion that statements like “free enterprise is terrible at optimization” aren’t particularly meaningful.

                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                It’s not clear if or to what degree any of those things had a positive effect on humanity. It’s also not really comparable, because adopting good hiring practices is very obviously in a business’s self-interest, whereas environmental regulations are (ideally) more about forcing the internalization of external costs.

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  environmental regulations

                                                                                  Have you been to China or India? It’s really nice being able to breathe outside.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    Yeah, I was in HK last week. Air is somewhat worse than the US, but I’m tempted to say it’s worth it given how inexpensive and efficient everything is as a result of less burdensome regulations. Their infrastructure is actually substantially better than ours, believe it or not, despite drastically lower taxes and less government involvement.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Hilarious. 1/3 the population lives in public housing. The public transit system depending on a government owned “private” company that (a) owns tons of real estate which it uses to subsidize its transit mission and (b) has regulated fares …
                                                                                      Compare that to the USA and there is, in reality, substantially more government involvement. The US system is really inefficient though because of the layers of government (federalism) and the enormous cost of pretending that the government is not involved.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        HK is an interesting example for public housing, because it was not done all that much differently than elsewhere where it has a bad reputation, but in HK it has a reasonably good reputation. The architectural style is pretty much the style now reviled elsewhere: high-modernist concrete tower blocks densely packed together into public housing estates. But they were built on a much larger scale than what the U.S. or most European countries ever built, and overall are reasonably well regarded.

                                                                                  2. 4

                                                                                    It’s not clear if or to what degree any of those things had a positive effect on humanity.

                                                                                    “ financial regulations”

                                                                                    You believe it’s unclear whether people getting robbed constantly by crooks or the banks themselves was a net benefit to our society?

                                                                                    “health regulations”

                                                                                    You also believe that random people getting sick or murdered less often by lying vendors in medical field isn’t an obvious benefit to our society? If you said lazy or evil folks, I could see someone arguing for them to disappear. Cancer and snake oil salesmen don’t target only them, though. They take out beneficial people, too.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Making fraud illegal isn’t a “financial regulation” any more than making murder illegal is a “health regulation”.

                                                                                      Both of the things you described are just fraud. “Financial regulation” carries the connotation of, you know, specifically addressing the use of certain financial structures.

                                                                                      1. 0

                                                                                        “Making fraud illegal isn’t a “financial regulation” “

                                                                                        You’re putting words into my mouth. I said people were getting robbed. It’s conceptually fraud but wasn’t legally fraud in many circumstances. Sometimes it was just an evil thing the majority of banks practiced that benefited them at everyone’s expense. Damage would be done by whatever acts were technically legal in current system or made legal through bribes by banks to politicians. Next round of politics increases regulation to cover those things probably after an outcry from affected voters. It’s then illegal due to the regulations.

                                                                                        One that they tried to pull on me was not allowing me to pay debts with low-interest until I paid off all with high interest. That let the low-interest keep piling up in event I could only pay small portion. That was made illegal by regulations added under the Obama Administration. There’s lots of sneaky shit like that in finance.

                                                                                2. 13

                                                                                  Aside from the moral blindness, the most characteristic feature of libertarianism is complete ignorance of how businesses and markets operate.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Aside from the moral blindness

                                                                                    That’s factually incorrect. There are many popular ways to argue in favor of libertarianism, and one of them is a moralistic argument: that the initiation of force or threat of force is wrong. You might disagree with that moral argument, but it’s certainly not “moral blindness.” And morals needn’t end there either, although I admit many libertarians on the Internet may give you the impression that it does. (Which is why I don’t often chum around any online libertarian hangouts.)

                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                      Libertarians don’t believe that. They believe that force to protect property rights is fine. And they are desperate embracers of a conveniently timed statute of limitations so that property rights deriving from theft and violence are grandfathered in somehow. In 1860 the mortgage value of human beings held in forced labor by state and private terrorism was greater than the entire industrial plant of the United States, yet somehow that and far more recent atrocities are in the moral “never mind” class for Libertarians while tax assessments to pay for school lunch are somehow immoral.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        That’s a pretty extreme straw man. Regardless, your characterization of libertarianism as “morally blind” remains factually incorrect. Your musings on the questionable priorities of some of libertarianism’s adherents do nothing to change that.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          It’s not a straw man at all. Your claim is that Libertarianism is based on the moral principle that initiation of force is wrong. But that claim involves redefining “force” so that if I peacefully walk out of your store without paying for a loaf of bread, and then an armed agent of the state kicks my ribs in, the libertarian can claim I initiated force! And even libertarians have wrestled with the insolvable problem of the bloody provenance of wealth - Murray Rothbard worked himself into pretzels trying to wiggle around it.

                                                                                          1. 0

                                                                                            Please read my initial comment more carefully:

                                                                                            You might disagree with that moral argument, but it’s certainly not “moral blindness.”

                                                                                            So even if you’ve arrived to an interpretation of the NAP that you find objectionable (I also find your interpretation objectionable), then you’ve implicitly admitted that a moral principle exists. You just happen to disagree with it. Therefore, it is a blatant misrepresentation to describe libertarianism as morally blind.


                                                                                            I also disagree with your interpretation. I think your example obviously violates proportionality. A proportionate response would probably be to confront the thief. This leads me to question whether you’ve considered proportionality at all in your interpretation of the NAP.

                                                                                            If you did indeed neglect proportionality, then you would unfortunately be in good company. I’ve found that many so-called libertarians do the same, and generally use that as a license to say all manner of crazy things. I mean, if the NAP doesn’t have proportionality built into it, then it’s trivially useless. If you find yourself in that position with a well studied philosophy, then it’s a fair bet that you’re probably missing something.

                                                                                            And even libertarians have wrestled with the insolvable problem of the bloody provenance of wealth - Murray Rothbard worked himself into pretzels trying to wiggle around it.

                                                                                            I’m not here to debate libertarianism with you. That would be foolish. I’m pointing out blatant mischaracterizations of libertarianism. If you don’t represent the thing you’re trying to criticize accurately, then your criticisms aren’t going to be substantive.

                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                              with the insolvable problem of the bloody provenance of wealth

                                                                                              The solution is geolibertarianism.

                                                                                    2. 3

                                                                                      Honestly, I feel like you just kind of doubled down on your argument without substantively responding to my criticism. For example:

                                                                                      But nobody is claiming that diversity can not possibly be the best solution because it didn’t arise sooner

                                                                                      But this seems to be literally what you said. What other interpretation am I supposed to make of this?

                                                                                      If group diversity is beneficial then we would already see organisations embrace it

                                                                                      More generally, I reject your dichotomy. Personally, I think your entire argument is missing something extremely important: the idea of cultural evolution and its impact on business. Culture isn’t a fixed point in time and space. It evolves. In our current bubble, the culture is clearly evolving to be more inclusive of diverse peoples. At some point in time, hanging a sign outside your window that said “Purple people need not apply” was socially acceptable. But today, it would be terrible business sense to do such a thing. Even if you could come up with an argument that said Purple people were, on average, very bad workers, your business would probably fail because the vast majority of your potential customers would probably consider such an explicit act of racism to be vulgar enough to take their business elsewhere. But this wasn’t always true. The same type of thing seems to have been happening on a less overt scale within the less several decades, and pointing squarely at government as the only entity to blame seems a bit of a shallow critique to me.

                                                                                      With that said, I think there might be interesting arguments around the amplification of progressive cultural norms through States and governments.

                                                                                3. 2

                                                                                  Hey! I think this argument is not a very good one to lead with. The reason being: if the evidence were not there, or changes over time as more studies happen, does that mean someone should not be for diversity? I think that one should still be for supporting diversity because the world I want to live in is based on equality.

                                                                                  Another problem is what we see in response to your comment: people asking for the studies and wanting to argue over the study rather than diversity.

                                                                                4. 10

                                                                                  Diversity is just a social instead of governmental (but sometimes governmental) way to discriminate against the dominant subgroup for the non-dominant “oppressed” minorities

                                                                                  Women are something like 50% of the population yet very underrepresented in IT. So is taking action to try to get more women in to IT about discrimination against the dominate subgroup?

                                                                                  1. -2

                                                                                    Women are something like 50% of the population yet very underrepresented in IT.

                                                                                    Men are something like 50% of the population yet very underrepresented as mothers.

                                                                                    This reasoning is a rationalisation, because we only see it used to insert women into high-prestige jobs (ceos, senators) and the recently-cool tech jobs, but never see it used to insert women into low-prestige jobs like sanitation or garbage collection.

                                                                                    Men and women are different. They have different interests and priorities and they make different career choices. The idea that an industry has to be a cross-section of the society as a whole doesn’t really make sense.

                                                                                    1. 8

                                                                                      Men are something like 50% of the population yet very underrepresented as mothers.

                                                                                      The definition of mother somewhat precludes that. How about we call that one a mulligan and you try again?

                                                                                      This reasoning is a rationalisation, because we only see it used to insert women into high-prestige jobs (ceos, senators) and the recently-cool tech jobs, but never see it used to insert women into low-prestige jobs like sanitation or garbage collection.

                                                                                      There are similar stories from male dominated jobs such a firefighter and police where women have had a difficult time getting into. And let’s not forget, in the US at least, the big fight over if women should be allowed to serve in the military. I think if you look a bit harder you can find examples in many industries of women trying to be involved.

                                                                                      Men and women are different. They have different interests and priorities and they make different career choices. The idea that an industry has to be a cross-section of the society as a whole doesn’t really make sense.

                                                                                      I agree, an industry need not necessarily look like a cross section of society. However we have multiple examples of women not being in IT due to the culture rather than interest, so your argument doesn’t really have much merit to it.

                                                                                      Finally: you didn’t actually respond to my comment but rather changed the topic. You called it discrimination against a dominate group and I pointed out that there is at least one example of a group roughly equal in population but not in representation in an industry. How is that discrimination?

                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                        In another culture or in times past you could use the same reasoning to imply that women do not belong in sport, education, or should not be trusted with the vote. You can’t draw any conclusions about what women (or other groups) want, or are capable of by the current state of things. We’re all at least partially a product of the environment we grew up in, so if we grow up and see others like us doing one thing, we’re likely to follow. As humans, we’re incredibly adaptable, and I don’t think that trait has anything to do with gender or race. Sure we’re all different, but so much of that depends on culture and I personally think diversity of ideas and viewpoints is worth striving for.

                                                                                        Also, the men and mothers thing was a bit silly don’t you think :)? I don’t think that’s a very fair comparison somehow.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          In another culture or in times past you could use the same reasoning to imply that women do not belong in sport, education, or should not be trusted with the vote.

                                                                                          But he is actually arguing against positive discrimination. I don’t think there was positive discrimination for women in sport, education or voting.

                                                                                          Also, the men and mothers thing was a bit silly don’t you think :)? I don’t think that’s a very fair comparison somehow.

                                                                                          Not really. I see no reason, why men can’t do motherly role in family.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            Not really. I see no reason, why men can’t do motherly role in family.

                                                                                            Even in that case, a male is generally called a “father” not a mother. Saying that the original comment was really just role based is a pretty weak support.

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              I’m actually not sure about that. There are some assumptions with the roles a father plays in a family versus the roles a mother plays in a family. I think the argument is fundamentally a miscommunication around what the intention of the word mother is, since to some it’s a biological thing while others is a cultural thing and even that has some implicit meaning that may mean a feminine parent versus a masculine parent.

                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                Take single parents as an example where a father or mother is responsible for providing both roles, we still all them a “single X” where X is the gender-specific name.

                                                                                                Or take same sex couples with children, even if one partner is fulfilling what would generally be considered the opposite role of their gender, the default naming convention is the gender specific one.

                                                                                                On top of that, as far as I have seen (and I’m happy to be proven wrong) people often self-identify as a father or mother based on gender. In my limited experience, people who which to transcend the traditional role of father and mother tend to just refer to themselves as a parent rather than trying to continue in gender-specific roles. But again, I can probably (and happy to) be proven wrong on that claim as well.

                                                                                                This argument that “father” and “mother” is role-based rather than gender-based might be a nice ideal but it’s an weak counter-argument in the context of this discussion.

                                                                                        2. 6

                                                                                          Men are something like 50% of the population yet very underrepresented as mothers.

                                                                                          That could be the single, most-retarded counter I’ve ever seen on Lobsters. apy points out that the white males in tech hire almost no women despite a ton of talent available. Hell, it was Margaret Hamilton to popularized the term “software engineering” after her team did better than most who were hired on their first attempt. A ton of programmers then were also women, including black women, since it was seen as clerical work. After it was recognized as creative, it was male dominated in short time with it remaining so. Your counter is that men uncapable of giving birth to a child are “underrepresented as mothers?” Huh? You appeared ideological before but that’s just nuts.

                                                                                          http://www.wired.com/2015/10/margaret-hamilton-nasa-apollo/

                                                                                          1. 0

                                                                                            That could be the single, most-retarded counter I’ve ever seen on Lobsters.

                                                                                            Okay, let’s consider biological-effect on a role. So it’s a sliding scale between fully female role like a mother, where we never see a male in this role, and fully male i.e father, and right in the middle we see the role of children where male and female can equally fill that role. This scale is based entirely on the biological difference in sex.

                                                                                            Why can’t programming exist on this sliding scale and be responsible for the differences in sex in programming?

                                                                                            So if biology can preclude entirely men from the role of mothers, why can’t biology preclude proportionally more women from the role of programmers?

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              The challenge with your mother/father example is that these terms are, for most people, defined in terms of biology rather than an implicit result of biology. For example, take a single parent which is responsible for providing the for the needs as both mother and father, most people still refer to them in terms of their sex, i.e. “Single dad” or “single mom”. I think taking your example seriously is very hard given this. Perhaps you could find a different example that wasn’t so deeply based on biology?

                                                                                              Why can’t programming exist on this sliding scale and be responsible for the differences in sex in programming?

                                                                                              I brought up the 50% thing so I should clarify a bit. People, including yourself, seem to believe I was making a claim that the breakdown in IT should be 50%. That is not what I meant. Instead, I was trying to call to attention your use of “dominate subgroup” and that the term “dominate” doesn’t make sense in a situation where the group size is about equal. Maybe this means you have some implicit bias towards viewing men in a way different than women? Or maybe I misinterpreted what you mean by “dominate subgroup”? It’s possible you were specifically talking about the subgroup of IT, but then that is a but confusing too since the whole point is that men are more represented.

                                                                                              But, even if the natural interest in IT between the sexes is not 50-50, that does not imply that the representation of each sex right now represents the natural interest level, which seems to be what you are implying. And, in fact, we at least have evidence that many women feel like they are not welcomed in IT despite being interested in it.

                                                                                              So, we know that women are not near 50% in IT and we have evidence that women who are interested don’t feel welcomed.

                                                                                              Given that, here are two questions:

                                                                                              1. If what I have said is correct (just assume it is correct for the sake of this question), do you believe that still nothing should be done to make IT more welcoming towards women? If not, why?
                                                                                              2. Do you dispute that what I claim is correct? I have not cited any direct evidence so it is not unreasonable to dispute it. These numbers show up in any unconscious bias talk or diversity slideshow so I haven’t really done any effort in finding stats.
                                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                                Okay, let’s consider biological-effect on a role.

                                                                                                Tons of studies have been done on people starting from children onto workers. The decisions of parents, educators and managers seem to be the greatest factor determining whether people are… going to do or be anything. They literally shape most of their lives. Also, influence whether they are likely to go into certain fields. The managers determine who will stay, leave, or move up. The interesting thing to me is you are hyper-focused on biology when it has had the least impact in empirical studies. The other things have so much impact that we’d have to design experiments to eliminate them… not sure how to even go about that… to see what biological impact remains. We can’t even see the biological impact outside of studies on children since there’s been too much psychological indoctrination and conditioning by adulthood.

                                                                                                It might be something you seriously believe although it comes off like propaganda in a way. Here’s why: tons of decisions by biased individuals are shaping children into adults then conditioning them into employees. We’re saying those biases are promoting some and limiting others in specific areas. You show up saying, “Hey, but what if all that had almost no impact and they just biologically were programmed to do everything their parents and bosses were telling them to do? And parents/bosses were just coincidental with biology really explaining things?” And everyone in the room just looks at you confused wondering why you’re ignoring lifetimes worth of data to focus on a biology hypothesis with little data.

                                                                                                EDIT: I’ll also add that the biology arguments showed up for blacks, too. They were just biologically designed to be dumb savages with no capacity for understanding or doing white things. That supported inhumane treatment from slavery to the Tuskagee Syphallis Experiment. Then, once laws tackled true issue (social discrimination), eventually many got educated and had a chance in business. Now they’re doing pretty much all the same things white people were doing with some billionaires, getting Noble Prizes, etc. I think we’ll see something similar if we combat social discrimination against women instead of similarly making biology arguments about how dumb, weak, incompatible for jobs, or whatever they are. Actually, we’ve already seen it at smaller scales across the U.S. when they’re allowed to prove themselves. You’re ignoring that data, too, for some reason.

                                                                                            2. 4

                                                                                              …Is your suggestion really that the underrepresentation in IT is similar to a biological difference?

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                I’m not the person you’re responding to and I’m also not making a definitive claim, but are you really convinced that human sexual dimorphism has no psychological effects that could manifest as different career tendencies? I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how much, exactly, biological differences influence career choice, but I would certainly guess it’s non-zero. This would be consistent with variances in gender distribution across many fields.

                                                                                                Instead of a question, could you explictly state your position on this? It’s hard to construct a useful reply to what sounds more like a moral dismissal than a concrete argument.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  I responded to the biology angle here:

                                                                                                  https://lobste.rs/s/8qmra7/for_inclusive_culture_try_working_less#c_aqyakn

                                                                                                  Long story short: theres basically no data supporting it, there’s little data to be had outside of children, there’s tons of data saying it’s not biology, and someone’s motives should be questioned if they’re ignoring that to make biological arguments.

                                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                                    https://phys.org/news/2017-05-gender-bias-open-source.html

                                                                                                    Yes, I am sure that being able to have a baby has no freaking affect and couldn’t possibly explain these results.

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      Random noise can explain those results.

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        First off, that study was absolute garbage. I’m not going to re-hash what plenty of qualified people have said, but here’s a link that should help. http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/02/12/before-you-get-too-excited-about-that-github-study/

                                                                                                        Second off, instead of saying anything substantive you’ve just responded with more snark and outrage. Being able to bear children or not is obviously not the only sexual dimorphism in humans, and you’re acting the fool by pretending otherwise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16688123/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/24374381/

                                                                                              2. 8

                                                                                                Alternatively, diverse can also include those who cannot drink or eat meat. I’ve seen a few folks who were socially disconnected from the company because they could not attend any of the social functions being Muslim or Indian or Taiwanese where these preferences is much more common. Moreover, diversity can also include those who have timely obligations outside of the traditional Silicon Valley work schedule, like picking kids up after school or volunteering their time at other places. Our corporate environment pretty much does not hire anyone for part time work, and full time work has very flexible hours that can easily be misconstrued to staying at work late else risk giving a bad impression.

                                                                                                I can kind of get what you’re saying. However, isn’t turning a blind eye to implicit discrimination a sin of its own? I agree with you that it’s hard to say someone who was born into privilege is a sinner but perhaps if they recognize that and still chose to keep that predisposition for themselves, is that not a sin?

                                                                                                Also, you’re assuming that hiring is a zero sum game, where there is only one position and someone has to fill it, and the others will not get that chance. Perhaps including and engaging with a wider more diverse group of people will actually increase the overall cake size without having to force people to have smaller sizes or forgo the cake entirely? This is all purely speculation but what if doing this actually leads to more innovation and engagement by a larger overall population to be leaders and entrepreneurs such that it spurs a larger overall growth of the industry and ends up creating more overall jobs for everyone? Perhaps that is the missing key in our market right now, that we don’t have as many competing ideas and philosophies and prospectives so there really just isn’t as many people engaged in entrepreneurship.

                                                                                                1. 0

                                                                                                  However, isn’t turning a blind eye to implicit discrimination a sin of its own?

                                                                                                  Of course not, because you have to discriminate. You brain is evolved to collect data of its surrounding then infer patterns from that data so you can discriminate against stuff in the future. You treat a tiger differently from a kitten because they are different even though in many ways they are similar. The only way to not discriminate is to treat everything the same, a non-sensible proposition.

                                                                                                  Now if you refer to the modern sense of ‘discrimination’ meaning treating people differently based on their inherited properties, which is somehow an unforgivable sin in the modern age (even though everybody does it, but they will say “im not a racist” before they explain what they do), you still have to face the facts that people are not the same. Different sub groups have different abilities, and we see these abilities play out in different outcome.

                                                                                                  Also, you’re assuming that hiring is a zero sum game,

                                                                                                  That particular spot is a zero sum game.

                                                                                                  Perhaps including and engaging with a wider more diverse group of people will actually increase the overall cake size

                                                                                                  I could say the same about less diverse group. That by being entirely discriminatory, there would be so many jobs that every single minority-person is employed. So this argument by itself works both ways.

                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                  Diversity is just a social instead of governmental (but sometimes governmental) way to discriminate against the dominant subgroup for the non-dominant “oppressed” minorities.

                                                                                                  Depends on whose doing it. Often used that way. Doesn’t have to be, though, as one can get racial diversity by sole focus on performance and/or blind auditions. Mental diversity is more important if one wants higher-quality solutions but harder to select for. People have to be willing to bring in folks they might argue with every day. Most wont no matter what color or gender they are. In my company, it was mostly whites years ago coming in hiring pipeline when whites ran it. That was by biases of employees referring people [like them] and of hiring managers confirming people [like them]. My section is currently black-controlled (almost all women) with mostly blacks coming in the pipeline. Skill level is the same mix of bad, decent, and good as before far as I can tell. I haven’t dared ask if they have any interest in getting a balanced (by area makeup) percentage of whites in pipeline or males in their level of management. They’ll both not care plus be incredibly hostile to the idea like every other time I’ve done it anywhere else. Only exception was a bank that preempted me with quotas on gender where either type might be blocked to achieve their goals.

                                                                                                  “Of course when we talk about diversity in tech we rarely talk about asian males, since they don’t seem to have any problem succeeding in this domain more or less.”

                                                                                                  Indian or Far East. And especially under H1-B’s. Let’s not start filtering them for alternative demographics. It might not meet the managerial or compensation goals of the scheming business. ;)

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    You sound set in your ways and not open to imagining or considering why diversity might be a good thing. I assume you’re in a ‘western’ culture, that you live in a city, work in tech, and that you are in a reasonably comfortable position where you don’t have to deal first hand with any non trivial cultural pressure?

                                                                                                    Diversity simply brings points of view, attitudes and needs that are impossible to imagine or simulate without first hand representation. This will in most cases significantly improve working practices and products/services. It is ideological, but it is also completely practical.

                                                                                                    Scale is an important question - you need to have consistency and boundaries within small social groups, but the main case where the need for diversity does not apply is a forcefully maintained large scale monoculture, which to maintain uniformity and stability must remove ‘the other’ from consideration. Is that what you’re going for?

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      You sound set in your ways and not open to imagining or considering why diversity might be a good thing.

                                                                                                      I am not at all.

                                                                                                      What I am against in social, governmental and ideological push to insert whichever-subgroups into places via the logic that their lack of representation there is because of “oppression and xism” when the alternative explanation that they are not there either by choice or by lack of ability is more likely to be true.

                                                                                                      The word diverse is now being used primarily by people that seek to make such a push so it can be used as a warning sign. But I am not against diversity at all, I am against government and ideological mandate, including mandate for ‘diversity’ especially when it is based on spurious claim that the dominant groups are in a conspiracy to oppress and discriminate against the other subgroups.

                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                        when the alternative explanation that they are not there either by choice or by lack of ability is more likely to be true.

                                                                                                        What bases are you making that claim off of, though? There are multiple bits of evidence out there that suggest that women, I cannot speak to other groups, are interested in IT however the culture either makes want to leave the industry or they cannot get in, in the first place.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          that the dominant groups are in a conspiracy to oppress and discriminate against the other subgroups.

                                                                                                          “maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. “ (Texas statement of seccession)

                                                                                                          Up to the 1960’s:

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

                                                                                                          Recently, after lots of black votes for Democrats, Republicans pass laws curbing their chances to vote:

                                                                                                          http://prospect.org/article/22-states-wave-new-voting-restrictions-threatens-shift-outcomes-tight-races

                                                                                                          So, this isn’t speculative. There’s definitely groups trying to restrict other groups. It’s sometimes obvious, sometimes indirect. The dominant groups have also always used government mandates to ensure dominance. We see this on the business side where they try to create legal monopolies on land or ideas. This is something that stays happening. So, the solution is to combat it with legislation countering it.

                                                                                                          Note: I’m using black history in these examples just because it nicely illustrates the points. That they thought of blacks as less than human meant they were more open about their discrimination, even making it law.

                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                      It kind of sucks that you can’t upgrade basic things like RAM or the SSD, but I guess I kind of expect it now from laptops.

                                                                                                      1. 32

                                                                                                        When you think about it, what’s replaced and what’s repaired is kind of arbitrary. Used to be able to replace L2 cache (and I had a 386 computer where it was bad, subsequently replaced) but I don’t think many people would be happy with the performance of a system where L2 was two inches away from the CPU, and the signal timing constraints that would impose. Hell, you used to be able to replace the ferrite rings in your core memory one by one.

                                                                                                        What do you do if you have bad RAM? You toss the whole $100 stick, right? But that’s only one bad chip out of 16. You’re throwing away $95 in perfectly good RAM! But rarely do you see complaints about that.

                                                                                                        I speculate that people establish a kind of baseline based on the level of integration on their first computer, and then everything after that is damn kids on my lawn. But the irreparable integrated components in that first computer are just the natural order of things, the atomic building blocks of our computing universe.

                                                                                                        1. 7

                                                                                                          What do you do if you have bad RAM? You toss the whole $100 stick, right? But that’s only one bad chip out of 16. You’re throwing away $95 in perfectly good RAM! But rarely do you see complaints about that.

                                                                                                          But my screwdriver kit is at the other end of the house is so I would probably just resort to mapping it away (Windows can do this too it seems.

                                                                                                          Maybe I am just lazy, but a kernel argument seems like less effort :-)

                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                            Oh that’s pretty neat. I didn’t know this was possible in windows. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                                                          2. 5

                                                                                                            I think there’s something to what you’re saying, but I do think IC design/integration and outer packaging design are somewhat different topics, and the latter doesn’t go as monotonically in the direction of more integration. The early ‘80s Apples were notorious for having “no user-serviceable parts” for example, but then later Macs went back to having user-serviceable parts (before going back, once again, to not having any), for reasons that didn’t have much to do with chip design in either case. And the trend of glued-together, unserviceable outer packaging goes far beyond computers, to even things like toasters, which used to be more easily repairable because you could take out the screws, fix stuff, and then put the screws back in, but now aren’t simply because of how the final assembly is done— lots of stuff across many market segments is now stamped or glued shut in a way not designed to be non-destructively opened.

                                                                                                            Which is not to say there aren’t good reasons for that trend too, I just think whether cases (computer or toaster) are glued/crimped vs. screwed shut isn’t quite the same question as whether L2 cache should be an independently replaceable module.

                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                              I speculate that people establish a kind of baseline based on the level of integration on their first computer, and then everything after that is damn kids on my lawn.

                                                                                                              No, people very reasonably compare what can be easily upgraded on a modern desktop computer: CPU, RAM, and storage. One can convincingly make the argument that the cooling needs of the CPU are too complex to allow someone to just pop in whatever processor they want in the tight form factor of a laptop, but there are literally no justifications for DRAM and SSDs being chip-down except to save physical space.

                                                                                                              What do you do if you have bad RAM? You toss the whole $100 stick, right? But that’s only one bad chip out of 16. You’re throwing away $95 in perfectly good RAM! But rarely do you see complaints about that.

                                                                                                              No, you toss out the $2K computer unless you bought the extended warranty. We’re talking about design decisions that make the problem you’re describing an order of magnitude worse.

                                                                                                              You’re also comparing soldered components on an industry-standard form factor to components soldered to a proprietary motherboard. You can’t go to company B and buy a replacement MLB for the laptop from company A. However, you can choose whatever DIMM vendor you want when you’re replacing your faulty DIMM.

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                No, people very reasonably compare what can be easily upgraded on a modern desktop computer: CPU, RAM, and storage.

                                                                                                                But what makes those the things that can be reasonably upgraded, except for the fact that they already are. Again, you’re establishing a baseline that’s simply a snapshot in time. Why isn’t it reasonable for me to expect that I can upgrade my hard drive by opening it up and dropping a new platter onto the spindle?

                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                  Why isn’t it reasonable for me to expect that I can upgrade my hard drive by opening it up and dropping a new platter onto the spindle?

                                                                                                                  Because the inside of the harddrive has to be dust free for safe operation and most consumers do not have a clean room?

                                                                                                                  Or as in the before example, the L2 cache has to be close i.e. integrated to the CPU?

                                                                                                                  These are actual physical limitations on the hardware and not “we glued the case shut because we wanna sell a new laptop every 2 years when before we had the newer and faster CPUs to drive sale”.

                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                    But what makes those the things that can be reasonably upgraded, except for the fact that they already are.

                                                                                                                    They inherently can be easily upgraded since the technological ability to do that at low costs exists and has been proven in actual products. A vendor doing those in a way that can’t be upgraded easily should be assumed to be doing planned obsolescence or some other predatory behavior unless they have convincing argument for why it’s beneficial to consumers. I see that argument to a degree in something ultra-small with significant energy and cost issues like mobiles. Usually in anything decent size they’re doing it for predatory reasons despite the fact they could do it differently with interchangeable stuff. Most of the different form factors that became available to many suppliers each started with a company or group of them doing the latter.

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      Are we talking in circles? At any given time, the market has proven that all the not yet integrated parts are viable by the very fact that they’re not yet integrated. Once upon a time this included L2 cache. Before that, when your disk drive was a dish washer, it included the platters in the drive. The market proved that upgradeable hard drive platters could exist because they did exist.

                                                                                                                      If you make a list of ok to integrate and not ok to integrate parts, and then I go back and ask someone from 1997 to make the same list, and then someone from 1977, I find it very improbable that I’m going to get three identical lists. So what makes the 2017 list a natural law? Why not the 1997 list? Could the 2037 list also be different, or have we reached final enlightenment and uncovered universal truth?

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        L2 cache is on die to make the CPU run faster.

                                                                                                                        A single speck of dust would ruin a modern hard drive platter, so a normal living room isn’t a suitable place to handle and replace them.

                                                                                                                        The technologies in use in 1977 and 1997 were different from what we have today, so the design decisions change.

                                                                                                                        Why are socketed RAM and storage not present in some laptops? Because the manufacturer (and apparently many consumers) want the laptops to be lighter and thinner. There are no other benefits but many costs to this decision. Those costs ruffle prosumer feathers. You can call it “arbitrary” all day, but someone is paying those costs.

                                                                                                                        Why is the fuel port not on the roof of my car? Because that would be a huge pain in the ass - Like throwing away an entire laptop because my chip down SSD ran out of usable blocks faster than expected.

                                                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                                                      you’re establishing a baseline that’s simply a snapshot in time

                                                                                                                      Yes, I am. Today we can easily swap RAM and storage modules in laptops. We are quickly losing that ability, and the only justification is form factor.

                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                    I speculate that people establish a kind of baseline based on the level of integration on their first computer

                                                                                                                    I don’t know, I got my first computer in 1990 and it was certainly a different world. I still build my own computers for gaming, but my laptops for the past 15+ years have been pretty much 2-3 year things, maybe a RAM upgrade or HDD/SSD swap, then buy a new one. I think I’ve adjusted to how they’re built more than anything.

                                                                                                                1. 25

                                                                                                                  I agree, for a different reason. I work in an “open floor space” environment, and one thing that people don’t realize is how exhausting it is just to hear everything. Your brain has to process every single noise that passes by you; there is nothing to prevent it from reaching your ears. Every phone ring, door slam, small talk conversation, you name it.

                                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                                    This is what I hate most. The part of my brain that I use to write code is also the part of my brain I use to grok speech, and it can only work on one thing at a time.

                                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                                      I have worked in the corner of an open-plan office(wheeled​ desks and everything) for the last four ​years. Highlights:

                                                                                                                      • Game/hw devs testing audio. The same bg audio clip repeated​ every ten minutes for three solid months.

                                                                                                                      • Every middle-manager around​ me talking on headsets, because​ this is a multinational​ so everyone is on VTC.

                                                                                                                      • The senior​ engineer down the hall ambling over to a secretary​’s desk and loudly expositing on the news and/or his latest opinion(​spoiler: he’s US conservative​/libertarian, so it’s politics, healthcare, or economic​ theories.

                                                                                                                      • Every other​ group​’s standup and discussions​.

                                                                                                                      For years I made do with earbuds, but last week I bit the bullet and ordered a pair of closed-ear studio monitors​ in hopes of some​ faint peace.

                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                        I work in an office with thin walls. I can hear basically anything that happens in our offices, from a pen dropping, to someone having a phone conversation. I’ve taken to keeping my headphones on even when I don’t have music playing. I was once working in a cubicle farm, but the walls were thicker between rooms. It felt quieter. I feel like I would be much more productive working from home, at this point.

                                                                                                                        It’s not the constant noise, or the need to process the noise. I can get myself into a flow state pretty well, but eventually something sudden will force me to context switch, whether it’s someone knocking on someone else’s door (which sounds like someone right behind me, even on the other side of the offices), or a phone ringing somewhere in the office. Those sudden sounds kill my productivity, and I really don’t have a way to avoid them. Even now, I can hear a conversation with my headphones playing noise. I can’t imagine it being better in any way to work in an open space.

                                                                                                                        1. -1

                                                                                                                          I agree, it is kind of exhausting. But I think open plans aren’t quite as terribly as they’re made out to be. A good pair of headphones can go a long way.

                                                                                                                          1. 14

                                                                                                                            But I think open plans aren’t quite as terribly as they’re made out to be. A good pair of headphones can go a long way.

                                                                                                                            Headphones do nothing for the chronic anxiety induced by being visible from behind while working, which will accelerate your death by 10-20 years if it doesn’t render you unemployable with a crippling panic disorder first.

                                                                                                                            I am not exaggerating. The rate of psychiatric attrition in this industry is at least 4 percent per year.

                                                                                                                            Now get back to work! Everyone is looking at your monitor and sees that you’re on Lobsters! :)

                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                              I get told this a lot, but for me it just doesn’t work.

                                                                                                                              I tried the Bose QC20 which actually did dramatically reduce what conversation I could hear, but I ended up instead with this weird sense of motion sickness that I couldn’t tolerate for more than an hour. So I got one hour of work done while other people were in the office instead of 0 - I guess that’s a win?

                                                                                                                              With normal headphones or earbuds you just have to have the volume so high to cover up a person talking next to you that it’s dangerous to your hearing and also its own distraction from your work. Silence is vastly better for some people than music, especially obnoxiously loud music.

                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                            One article–the originating report, which is well-written and gives a lot of information–is more than enough coverage here. We don’t really need pile-on talking heads or navelgazing.

                                                                                                                            1. 55

                                                                                                                              I really don’t like how you often try to speak for everyone here. I am not a part of your “we.”

                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                I really don’t like how you often try to speak for everyone here. I am not a part of your “we.”

                                                                                                                                I can definitely see how the grandparent post could be grating, but I didn’t read it as speaking for others. Just stating his opinion about what is best for the community (“we”).

                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                  I’d venture that it is a pretty well-established convention when writing and speaking to an audience to prefer the first-person to the second. I’ve had no end of confusion and troubles when people have conflated my use of “you (the general audience)” with “you (particular person I’m addressing)”.

                                                                                                                                  Sorry if that ruffles your feathers, but in my experience it’s the least unpalatable option.

                                                                                                                                  1. 20

                                                                                                                                    Why isn’t the least unpalatable option being direct (using “I” instead of “we”)? What you’re saying in the original comment is that you don’t want to see this kind of article posted here. (A reasonable opinion). You also think that the community at large would benefit from not having these articles posted. (Another reasonable opinion).

                                                                                                                                    Those two statements come across very different from, “We don’t really need…”, which talks for the community instead of about the community.

                                                                                                                                    1. 16

                                                                                                                                      That’s where the phrase “I think that” comes in handy.

                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                        That phrase is redundant whenever someone is talking about an opinion-based subject. Obviously that’s what you think; you’re saying it.

                                                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                                                          I disagree. I think phrases like “I think …” or “In my opinion” are important delineations between something that is expressed as an opinion and something that is expressed as fact. I think it’s really important to know when someone is speaking about an opinion and when someone is speaking about facts. In my experience, facts often correspond to assumptions or context in conversations that are taken for granted as things that are true even if they aren’t.

                                                                                                                                          (It’s not about what’s actually opinion or fact. It’s about what someone believes is opinion vs fact. If the language makes it easier to identify what a person believes, then communication becomes much easier in my own experience.)

                                                                                                                                      2. 15

                                                                                                                                        I suppose the line between writing conventions and dishonest rhetoric is very thin.

                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                          People, as a rule of thumb, don’t want the unvarnished truth. They will, especially given the opportunity to do so anonymously (as is the case with our current flagging system), viciously attack anybody who points out their own failings, who questions whatever moral and cultural touchstones they hold dear, who talks repeatedly about something they don’t wish to hear, and so on and so forth.

                                                                                                                                          What you consider “dishonest rhetoric” is something that is pretty useful when addressing problems, in forums or the workplace or wherever. If I have a problem, you may not be able to help and may not even give a shit. If we have a problem, there’s something that we can both work on and that we both have some stake in the resolution of.

                                                                                                                                          Similarly, here, every time “I (angersock)” make a statement about how Lobsters should act, it’s easy to just see “okay okay angersock’s ranting whatever”. If it’s stated as “we (the Lobsters community subset that agrees with angersock)” it becomes both an acknowledgement that whatever is being pointed out may have interest beyond one user’s personal preference and an opportunity to discuss things for those not in the subset.

                                                                                                                                          Plus, it’s just plain impolite to go on and on about “I this, I that, I the other thing”. One ends up sounding like a tinpot dictator or puffed-up jerk.

                                                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                                                            It is only useful to you. Only you gain something from pulling the entire community into the problems you have with this post.

                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                              He’s not all alone, I think.

                                                                                                                                            2. 3

                                                                                                                                              We definitely need more people using the “we need” form over the “I need” form. It shifts the discussion away from a conflict of interests to a conflict of beliefs and values. Or at least I believe so.

                                                                                                                                              It is only useful to you. Only you gain something from pulling the entire community into the problems you have with this post.

                                                                                                                                              Only because angersock has the interests of the community on his mind.

                                                                                                                                      3. 13

                                                                                                                                        I’m not sure I get your point even after you elaborated it. If you’re not interested in further discussion, why did you even post a comment, which also can be interpreted as “pile-on talking”? If you find this article boring, why does that make it inappropriate for lobste.rs?

                                                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                                                          If you’re not interested in further discussion, why did you even post a comment, which also can be interpreted as “pile-on talking”

                                                                                                                                          That’s referring to other articles saying the same thing or related things–our own commentary (mine here being somewhat meta in nature) is a different kettle of fish. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                            Blogposts can contain comments about other blogposts too. I see neither a difference nor a problem. Arguably this submission isn’t particularly interesting or contains new points, but saying “we don’t need it” is speaking for other people (as /u/Gracana pointed out) and something the voting system is supposed to answer.

                                                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                                                              The voting system is prey to all of the normal issues of democracy and mob rule, and unless people are willing to go out and occasionally make posts articulating policy alternatives and standards (even at the risk of downvotes and argument) one cannot expect any better outcome than “ooh shiny, upvote–oooh mean, flag–oh thing i don’t understand, ignore or random”. This has been borne out time and time again on other aggregators.

                                                                                                                                        2. 11

                                                                                                                                          The part of this post that seems to add something is the degree to which he shifts from discussing the specific allegation and rants about the industry as a whole and the way it protects bad people all the way up the food chain.

                                                                                                                                          Agree or disagree, this does feel like it is adding on to the original report rather than repeating it. Naturally, to make such a rant stand alone, he has to introduce the subjet, which is repetitive at this moment when it is dominating the social media discourse.

                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                            Why not?

                                                                                                                                            1. 13

                                                                                                                                              Assuming that you’re asking this in good faith, here are the basic problems I have:

                                                                                                                                              • The original article was long and detailed problems that many of us may have and may yet experience in our work. For people who want to manage, it is an informative read on things not to do to reports. For employees, it is a solid example to point to if you start getting gaslit or made to feel uncomfortable. For business owners, it shows some interesting ways that HR can be used and how bad middle-management strife can ruin a culture. There’s a lot to be learned.
                                                                                                                                              • In direct contrast, this sort of shallow talking point (summed up as “stop buying things from bad people, even though the SV culture has normalized their behavior. staaaaahp.”) isn’t going to really change our daily practices in any meaningful way beyond the villain of the week.
                                                                                                                                              • Even the original article is basically hearsay until corroborated and sourced. If we have multiple submissions covering the same thing, it creates additional noise to whatever weak signal was already present. In an age where everybody is complaining about fake news, maybe we shouldn’t be part of the problem.
                                                                                                                                              • Duplicate submissions on the same fragment discussion across multiple threads, increase cognitive load for users and mods (“Is this covering the same points? I’ll have to read it and find out ughhh”), and displace other stories that could be more useful to everyone else (not a huge problem here right now, but if you look at the constant churn of things on other sites where people submit the same news stories it most emphatically becomes so.)
                                                                                                                                              • News submissions are the mindkiller, because their core value is in novelty (“Have you heard about <X>?!”) instead of quality, longevity, or actionability. Seldom, seldom, will news submissions either be downvoted (because they tickle the “oh hey nifty we should share” part of the nerd brain) or something that impacts our daily lives as practitioners (as an example here, because few if any of us work at Uber, fewer still in upper management, and generally it devolves into me-too me-too signalling “oh this is awful upvote for solidarity).

                                                                                                                                              I’ve got various other reasons, but those are probably enough for you to get the gist.

                                                                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                                                                In direct contrast, this sort of shallow talking point (summed up as “stop buying things from bad people, even though the SV culture has normalized their behavior. staaaaahp.”) isn’t going to really change our daily practices in any meaningful way beyond the villain of the week.

                                                                                                                                                What you’re trying to say here is “No ethical consumption under capitalism”.

                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                  Assuming that I parse you correctly as having this viewpoint, and further assuming that I’ll agree with it for discussions sake–my complaint becomes pretty obvious: there is no real way to opt out of capitalism in any meaningful way for the vast majority of us.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                    Can you explain that further? Why can’t you opt out of capitalism? Capitalism doesn’t force people to engage with it just by virtue of the fact that it exists; you’re just usually better off if you do. You can feel free to join a commune or go live in the woods or something; your biggest barrier will be that the government might still expect money from you. If your answer is “because I want a high standard of living”, then yes, that’s why everyone else chooses to interact with capital markets as well.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      Capitalism is implemented as a universal/global system and is defended and further imposed by the capitalists themselves. At this point, capital controls (ostensibly) the whole world. Any state that attempts to opt out of capitalism also receives stiff retaliation and punishment, typically enforced by the United States.

                                                                                                                                                      When kept under some form of social/democratic control, capital markets can be harnessed to better the lives of society at large. However, that benefit is only through collective intervention and not a property of capitalism itself.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                        Any state that attempts to opt out of capitalism also receives stiff retaliation and punishment,

                                                                                                                                                        It’s not really critical to my argument, but I’d like to point out that the language you’re using has connotations of voluntary withdrawal, despite the fact that a state “opting out of capitalism” involves forcibly preventing all of its subjects from freely engaging in market interactions. It’s also usually synonymous with drastically lowered quality of life, famine, etc., so there’s a very obvious humanitarian case for preventing states from “opting out” of the free market.

                                                                                                                                                        However, what I asked about wasn’t states, but individuals. Why can’t you, as an individual, opt out of capitalism? I’m willing to grant that government tax and bureaucratic requirements make it practically challenging, but that’s not capitalism’s fault.

                                                                                                                                                2. 11

                                                                                                                                                  I think that the OP’s comments linking Trumpism and Uberism are original and deserve discussion.

                                                                                                                                                  Since Paul Graham’s mid-2000s essays Made Startups Great Again and convinced a bunch of well-intended, smart, middle-class nerds to pile into business programming not knowing that that’s what they were doing, we’ve had a win-at-any-ethical-cost business culture (Uberism) that has expanded beyond tech and taken over the whole corporate world. And, as that movement grows, we also see a win-at-any-ethical-cost political movement with no coherent ideology beyond “When you’re a star, you can do anything.”

                                                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                                                    What is there to discuss in that novel point? That incentives don’t always lead to optimal results?

                                                                                                                                                    Is that relevant to lobste.rs?

                                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                                              I think putting in long hours is often wasteful and less productive. When new developers start on our team I will tell them they won’t get extra credit for working on the weekend. We want them resting up to be productive on Monday.

                                                                                                                                              That said this blog post comes off as extremely defensive. Which naturally leads me to believe the accusation struck home with the OP. That usually only happens if there’s some truth to it.

                                                                                                                                              Working long hours != productivity and working normal hours != laziness. But there are definitely people who skate by doing the bare minimum. I think usually those are the people that are being referred to as 5:01ers. It’s a bad term though.

                                                                                                                                              1. 13

                                                                                                                                                That said this blog post comes off as extremely defensive. Which naturally leads me to believe the accusation struck home with the OP. That usually only happens if there’s some truth to it.

                                                                                                                                                Disagree. As you get older (and I’m only 33) you get sick of certain shit– in this case, namely, being marked down for irrelevant cosmetic nonsense.

                                                                                                                                                There really are companies where decisions about whom to fire are made based on face time (as a proxy for dedication). I’ve worked in them. Of course, since people rarely know why decisions are actually made, the atmosphere is more one of suspicion and adversity– you never know that you were fired because you left “early” at 6:30– than certain knowledge. But once you’re 30+ and have an eye for the patterns and unlock the “Sick of This Shit” merit badge, I think you have a right to complain. Open-plan high-frequency politics are not an important CS skill and shouldn’t have the influence over job/career outcomes that they do.

                                                                                                                                                The truth is that we’re an industry where the people in management roles (even if they were engineers at one point) have no ability to evaluate the work. That means that subjective impressions matter and it generates politics– and while your political knowledge goes up with age, your political stamina (read: ability to deal with bullshit) goes down.

                                                                                                                                                But there are definitely people who skate by doing the bare minimum.

                                                                                                                                                Harmless low performers are a lot less toxic than people who generate politics. This is why stack ranking always backfires. The loss incurred by paying a market salary (presuming 25-50th percentile performance) for 5th-percentile people is minor in comparison to the much more severe cost of a politically charged environment. Instead of subtractors, you’re now dealing with dividers.

                                                                                                                                                I’d actually be hesitant to fire the harmless low performers. Why? Because people are mostly context. The people in the bottom 20% know that they’re in the bottom 20%, therefore not going to get promoted, and therefore they try to skate. If you get rid of them, you’re just going to have a new bottom 20%. In most circumstances, they will eventually take stock of their promotion potential and become minimum-effort players.

                                                                                                                                                In fact, I think the harmless low performers play a valuable social role. It’s better to know who the marginally productive gamma pups (who usually do at least a couple things well) are than to have the productive betas worried about their standing.

                                                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                                                  Well I’m nearly 40 and allow me to tell you that as you get older you stop getting bent out of shape about stuff that doesn’t apply to you. If some other people think working long hours is required to be a great coder then that’s their problem.

                                                                                                                                                  There are indeed companies, big and small who think working more than 40 hours a week is a good thing. That’s not going to be solved by angry blog posts.

                                                                                                                                                  If you are unfortunate enough to work at one of those places you have two options; try to change the culture or find a new job. if you are a good coder who truly is an asset you should be able to do one of those two things.

                                                                                                                                                  As far as people who skate by doing the minimum not being a problem; I strongly disagree. The fact that they don’t get promoted doesn’t make it ok. They still get paid and help set the norms for the company. They will weigh in on policies and influence culture with their laziness and disinterest.

                                                                                                                                                  The idea that they are “less harmful” than toxic people who like to cause drama is both irrelevant and a false dichotomy. You don’t have to tolerate either type of person in your organization and I dont at mine.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 7

                                                                                                                                                    You’re not the author, though. Michael was saying the author might be one of the set of people whose brains are hardwired to get irritated over seeing same bullshit. That might soften or worsen with age. There’s also my concept that the author thinks of it as a personal attack which itself can get a person to lash out in defensiveness. That’s what I saw in the few paragraphs I read.

                                                                                                                                                    Too ranty to waste more time on…

                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                                      As far as people who skate by doing the minimum not being a problem; I strongly disagree. The fact that they don’t get promoted doesn’t make it ok. They still get paid and help set the norms for the company. They will weigh in on policies and influence culture with their laziness and disinterest.

                                                                                                                                                      I disagree. People usually know who they are and don’t want to be in the same bucket. Those people aren’t looked up to for guidance. If they offer suggestions on policies, they’ll be ignored.

                                                                                                                                                      The idea that they are “less harmful” than toxic people who like to cause drama is both irrelevant and a false dichotomy.

                                                                                                                                                      I didn’t say “people who like to cause drama”. I’m talking about people who generate politics, not because they “like drama” but for personal benefit. And sure, there are people who fit into neither category.

                                                                                                                                                      I’d never say that it’s wrong to get rid of low performers. Sometimes it’s what you have to do, just to survive. However, the process of looking around to “catch” low performers is likely to put everyone on notice and make everything more opaque as everyone (even good performers) looks for protection and leverage.

                                                                                                                                                      For example, if you impose stack ranking, you’re more likely to generate politics than to gain anything by rooting out low performers. Sure, you’ll cut some salary, but at the expense of turning people against each other. Once you implement stack ranking, the idea that everyone’s on the same team goes out the window, the knives come out, communication breaks down all over the place and your whole company becomes inefficient.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 5

                                                                                                                                                    That said this blog post comes off as extremely defensive. Which naturally leads me to believe the accusation struck home with the OP. That usually only happens if there’s some truth to it.

                                                                                                                                                    This basically implies that nothing can ever be wrong… Your opinions are bad and if it upsets you that I said this it means it must be true. That all aside I think if you’re working longer hours in programming you really must be doing something tragically wrong.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                                                                      That all aside I think if you’re working longer hours in programming you really must be doing something tragically wrong.

                                                                                                                                                      I personally average about 50-60 hours per week, but a lot of that time is reading papers and books. That’s sustainable. I certainly couldn’t code for 12 hours straight, though, and I would never work more than 40 if not working on my own terms and pursuing projects that I’m interested in.

                                                                                                                                                      If “work” is being in an office, doing things that a bunch of managers (who don’t care about your career) decide is important, it’s hard as hell to do that for 40 hours much less 60. On the other hand, if you have a good job and if the scope of “work” is broadened to include learning/following the field, I think that 50-65 becomes sustainably feasible. Of course, you still need to take vacations, have enough time for exercise and family, and have other out-of-work pursuits to keep sane.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                        That’s a real stretch dude. I said that usually when someone gets bent out of shape about an opinion someone else holds that wasn’t explicitly addressed to them, it’s usually because it struck a nerve. That’s a far, far cry from your silly interpretation.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                          You also said this:

                                                                                                                                                          That usually only happens if there’s some truth to it.

                                                                                                                                                          The author is actually pretty honest about the fact that he used to judge new parents at work. Maybe it strikes a nerve here because it’s hard to let go of those old attitudes even though he now has a different perspective after having his own children. He says he didn’t even feel comfortable using all of his paternity leave.

                                                                                                                                                          So regarding this comment:

                                                                                                                                                          That’s not going to be solved by angry blog posts.

                                                                                                                                                          Of course it’s not going to be solved by angry blog posts, but the author seems self-aware enough to recognize his own ambivalence on the issue after his major life changes. Perhaps he’s sharing his experience in hope that some readers would be able to relieve a little bit of their own guilt about having time obligations outside of work. And when others are feeling less guilty, maybe they’ll be less likely to throw around epithets like ‘5:01er’.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                            It appears that you’ve proven me correct.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                              You are being unreasonable here. You draw conclusions from a fairly simplified logic here (if someone defends against accusations, there is truth to the accusation). Which might be true, but we all know it just as well isn’t.

                                                                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                                                                            That said this blog post comes off as extremely defensive. Which naturally leads me to believe the accusation struck home with the OP. That usually only happens if there’s some truth to it.

                                                                                                                                                            That’s a terrible argument, and a huge, unjustified jump to a conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                            The article is defensive, but entirely justified IMO. It can be infuriating to be treated like a slacker when you’re working as hard or harder than anybody else. Even more so when it’s such a useless and stupid criteria like when a person leaves the office.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                              That usually only happens if there’s some truth to it.

                                                                                                                                                              you can’t be serious about that line

                                                                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                                                                              This is great advice because it changes the role of the junior from blindly following rules to considering the reasoning before applying a guideline, which over time would (hopefully) lead them to developing their own professional judgment instead of rule-parroting to their eventual subordinates.

                                                                                                                                                              Books full of contextless rules also reinforce the meta idea that complexity can always be tamed by simply choosing the right set of rules. Anecdotally, working in environments subscribing to that religion can feel like being intellectually smothered with a pillow.