1. 5

    People in the high-assurance and embedded communities probably do. Maybe some in gaming, too. In these fields, a lot of important information is unpublished, silod in places that might be hard to find, or yet to be discovered. Experienced practitioners will pick up techniques that would surprise people who haven’t done much experience. It’s one of the reasons I like reading Ganssle’s The Embedded Muse even though I’m not an embedded developer. In the past, I learned about lots of optimizations from game programmers, too.

    http://www.ganssle.com/tem/tem333.html

    http://www.ganssle.com/tem-subunsub.html

    Here’s two examples where one covers how they safely do updates and another uses an analogue multimeter to find where programs are getting stuck in loops on systems with little instrumentation. I’d have never thought of the latter being a software developer.

    http://www.ganssle.com/tem/tem288.html

    http://www.ganssle.com/tem/tem310.html

    1. 3

      uses an analogue multimeter to find where programs are getting stuck in loops on systems with little instrumentation

      Oscilloscopes are much more useful for that. They provide a screenful of history with zoom, a good time resolution (nanoseconds, typically), multiple inputs (about 4 analogue and 8 to 16 digital) and triggers (stop scanning after a particular pin is pulled up/down). I’ve used scopes to debug timing issues, events, CPU wake-up procedures, look at oscillator start-up times. A quick web search brings up this short intro.

      Another useful tool is a logic analyser. I’ve used Saleae Logic, which comes with software that understands wire protocols (e.g., UART, SPI, I²C), has more history than a scope and can save the data in various text-based formats. Other popular ones are Bus Pirate and GoodFET.

      One downside of these tools would be the price. While a basic multimeter can cost around 20€, Saleae Logic 8 would be around 200€, and a reasonable scope will set you back several thousands.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the tips. Several people that do embedded told me I should look into a scope or logic analyzer for debugging. One said digital, logic analyzers are easy to learn. You got a good intro or book recommendation on learning how to use these things?

        1. 2

          I don’t have any particular recommendations, but Saleae Logic software is quite intuitive. You connect the ground pin to the ground on the board and other pins to the lines you want to scan, choose the bandwidth and start scanning. Then you can assign functions to specific pins (e.g., pin 0 SPI data, pin 1 SPI clock) and parse the protocol. It also helps to read up on the protocol in question beforehand; Wikipedia is usually a good start. The harder part is knowing what you want to scan and why.

          And to debug software, just choose some unused GPIO pins (easier on development boards that have all pins exposed than on real hardware), set them as output and pull them high or low at specific points in your code. (In the link you provided, these are lines like “RA4 = 0;”, but APIs differ.)

          Using oscilloscopes is a bit more tricky. I learned how to use them from hardware people I work[ed] with, so I don’t have any pointers here either.

          1. 1

            I appreciate the tips.

    1. 6

      Just because you don’t understand why something is evidently valuable doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

      You think cryptocurrencies are a waste of time? Great, lots of people apparently have a better idea for how to use them than you do. Unless you can demonstrate that you actually have a more complete picture than those people by refuting their ideas, you are probably just missing the point.

      People often say this sort of stuff about finance as well. People don’t understand how markets or financial abstractions work, so they accuse financial work of being pointless/usurious/whatever. This has been going on forever. (It’s actually one of the reasons Jews kept getting kicked around in medieval Europe; they weren’t religiously forbidden from charging interest, so they dominated the lending business. When you don’t understand time preference or leverage, you might get mad and call this “usury”. They wouldn’t do “useful” physical labor like good god-fearing coders^H^H^H^H^H^H Christians.)

      1. 9

        Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as they provide a basis to justify a cryptographically secure distributed ledger. If you didn’t have a market economy that tried to reward people for competitive labor, you could probably have a far better cryptocurrency system.

        so they accuse financial work of being pointless/usurious/whatever

        Because it’s pretty much dedicated to migrating capital from one place to another. If you view capital itself as a usurious and abusive system, then finance migrates from “necessary evil” to “just plain evil”.

        And let’s be frank- the objections to usury made sense with the economic models of the time. If you deny the ability of labor to create value, every transaction becomes zero sum, at best, and prior to the industrial age, labor was not viewed in economic philosophy as a productive force. It’s only when you view labor as a productive force that you can create a positive sum economy, and that was the fundamental observation of the socialists. They turned wage-labor from a sunk-cost in the capitalist model into a positive-sum.

        The problem with capitalism is that, while it admits that labor creates value, it continues to subordinate labor to capital- labor exists to multiply capital. Capital, on the other hand, seems to exist in the absence of labor. The owner of the gold mine reaps the profits, while the miners get the smallest wage the owner can get away with.

        While the zero-sum mercantilist models of the pre-industrial era are fundamentally flawed, it’s difficult to claim that the market economies of the capitalists are any less blind in their approaches. That’s not to say the 19th century socialists hold any stronger weight in the modern world than the morally bankrupt capitalists, but the capitalist rejection of socialist philosophy in favor of their own hegemony definitely shows that the socialists posed a meaningful threat to capitalism that only ill-reasoned moralistic objections and appeals to tradition could be employed against.

        But I may be biased in favor of fully automated luxury communism.

        1. 1

          Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as…

          You don’t get to decide or determine how much value something has. That’s not even a well-defined proposition; everything has exactly as much subjective value as is dictated by individuals’ utility functions and exactly as much market value as emerges from the interactions of market participants.

          If you didn’t have a market economy that tried to reward people for competitive labor, you could probably have a far better cryptocurrency system.

          Not sure what you’re trying to say here.

          If you view capital itself as a usurious and abusive system

          I can’t imagine someone with this view to be literate in economics or utility theory.

          And let’s be frank- the objections to usury made sense with the economic models of the time.

          In what way?

          If you deny the ability of labor to create value

          This would be as silly as denying that abstract financial jobs can create value.

          It’s only when you view labor as a productive force that you can create a positive sum economy, and that was the fundamental observation of the socialists.

          Unless you’re referring to Mazdak or something, modern socialism didn’t emerge until the French Revolution, and economists and utility theorists had already worked out that production had positive value. This was one of the major tenets of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which predates modern socialist thought. This is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics and a good explanation of why capitalism is effective. We’ve obviously learned even more since then.

          They turned wage-labor from a sunk-cost in the capitalist model into a positive-sum.

          Again, this is wrong. The very first capitalists like Smith had quite a good understanding of how to reason about the value of production.

          The problem with capitalism is that, while it admits that labor creates value, it continues to subordinate labor to capital- labor exists to multiply capital.

          You might be talking about some fat-cat bogeyman version of capitalism, while I’m just talking about sound analytical economics without regard to what is “subordinate” to whatever else. That word doesn’t even show up in my economic lexicon, so I just want to make clear that I’m not disagreeing with this part because I’m not even sure what you’re referring to.

          While the zero-sum mercantilist models of the pre-industrial era are fundamentally flawed, it’s difficult to claim that the market economies of the capitalists are any less blind in their approaches.

          No it’s not. Markets are remarkably effective and efficient at communicating price information, more than any plausible centrally planned system. This is especially the case if the mob doesn’t prohibit abstract financial instruments out of confusion.

          the morally bankrupt capitalists

          Again, just so we’re on the same page, I’m just addressing this from an optimization standpoint; I’m not going to bother arguing the inherent morals of this or that belief. I like systems that are, for a start, Pareto-optimal. Markets practically get us most of the way there, which can’t be said for, well… most other things.

          1. 3

            This was one of the major tenets of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which predates modern socialist thought. This is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics and a good explanation of why capitalism is effective. We’ve obviously learned even more since then.

            The ecomonics Smith had in mind are vastly different to what we see now as “modern capitalism”

            1. 1

              Please re-read my comment; I never stated that Smith was a capitalist (because, you’re right, that would stretch the modern definition), only that he managed to explain why capitalist markets work. I was in particular referring to the fact that Smith was aware of the positive value of labor (he treated it as any other valuable asset), which the GP erroneously claimed was invented by socialists.

              1. 1

                … and I never claimed that you stated Smith was a capitalist. :-) As you correctly stated,

                Smith’s Wealth of Nations […] is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics”

                I think the connection between Smith’s economics and “modern market economics” is frightfully stretched, considering how representatives of these economics love to drop his name, yet apparently totally ignore that he was a moral philosopher.

                Whether “capitalist markets work” or “capitalism is effective” is open to debate, and just claiming such a thing doesn’t make it true per se. “Effectiveness” of an institution or concept that deeply influences society is not independent of morality. If it does then it becomes inhuman. Whether you like it or not, markets are not just mathematics.

            2. 2

              Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as…

              You don’t get to decide or determine how much value something has. That’s not even a well-defined proposition; everything has exactly as much subjective value as is dictated by individuals’ utility functions and exactly as much market value as emerges from the interactions of market participants.

              I don’t think you two use the same definition of value.

              1. 1

                The author of that post has no idea what he’s talking about. A transaction doesn’t create value according to the dollar amount of the transaction. A transaction creates value (subjectively) corresponding to the difference between subjective value and market price (surplus), and (objectively, according to some arbitrary global utility function) corresponding to the change in well-being of the transaction participants.

                You’re right though, when most people say “value” they mean “stuff I like” rather than anything you can usefully measure or improve.

        1. 4

          “When AT&T offered a $30 premium service that allowed user to opt-out of browser tracking for ad targeting, few users took it. This portends a future where most people will increasingly choose ever more invasive tracking in exchange for money, health advice, and entertainment”

          No. This says that few people want to pay $X for internet + $30 for the same company to also respect their privacy. It says nothing of customers that:
          a) Leave
          b) Didn’t hear of this policy change, didn’t know what the implications are, or didn’t care
          c) Join after this policy change and didn’t read the fine print
          d) Don’t believe anything will change for that $30

          Sure it says something about customers that don’t think their privacy is worth $30 and still stay, but we have no idea which customers those were.
          I would say $30 is too much for a basic right such as privacy. Why not build a basic right to privacy into our laws and require an opt-in. We could also require that no extra payment can be charged to provide privacy over their basic service.

          1. 4

            Agree. It also doesn’t scale for most people. 30$ per month is 360$ per year for ONE service. If this was common approach, most people would quickly run out of funds to protect their privacy even if this actually worked on every service.

            1. 2

              If people cared enough to have these made into law, they could as well support and endorse privacy-aware competition, like DDG.

              Problem is, online presence isn’t something as obvious as having sex in front of your kids or even enveloped mail. The financial abuse of users-as-the-product is enough to lobby politicians. These things are hard to oversee. And in the end, people find it more convenient than creepy that Facebook runs diaper ads for her before she knew she got pregnant.

              1. 3

                If people cared enough to have these made into law

                Well, they did, with telephone conversations and post. And I don’t really know why these laws weren’t automatically applied to computer networks.

                1. 2

                  Because there is no generalizing in a world dominated by statute law.

              2. 2

                Why not build a basic right to privacy into our laws and require an opt-in. We could also require that no extra payment can be charged to provide privacy over their basic service.

                So basic service now costs $30 more with a $30 rebate if you let them provide you with ‘beneficial offers from our valued partners’.

                Not to mention you have to actually define what privacy actually is and then build a giant mechanism to verify if ISPs are compliant or not. So good luck trying to start a competing ISP on the basis of being a freedom respecting provider.

              1. 1

                Can this be used as is to connect to UART on something like a Raspberry Pi? Or would it require some modification to the connector? Or is this a totally different thing?

                It always bugs me when I need to connect to a device via UART and I can ping the device, but need to be on or go through the “host” machine because the UART itself isn’t networked.

                1. 2

                  It’s a partially different thing. The connector is totally different, but the protocol is basically the same except the voltage. You’ll need a MAX232 / MAX3232 chip to translate between the two.

                  Of course, if your goal is using this to connect to the RPi console, you’ll have to modify the firmware quite extensively. Oops, no you won’t.

                  1. 1

                    Great, thanks!

                1. 1

                  Both are far too complicated for me. As a smarter person than I once said, “any command I cannot immediately remember might as well not exist.”

                  1. 2

                    typing tmux on a remote server beats having to restart a job when the network connection dies…

                    1. 1

                      That use case fell away for me when I started using mosh.

                      1. 2

                        Mosh is great, but it doesn’t solve the issue with client dying (e.g., due to logout or reboot) and doesn’t let you connect from multiple clients.

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                    weird:

                    > 2min * 3hours
                    6h·min
                    
                    1. 2

                      What answer did you expect?

                      1. 6

                        I think I’d expect it to report the result in either min² or h². It’s not wrong per se, but to take a non-time example, I think if I gave you dimensions of a road in terms of how many meters wide and km long it is, and then asked for the surface area of the road, I’d expect an answer in either m² or km², not m·km.

                        edit: Having actually read the help, it looks like it does support this, but only if you request the result in specific units. Otherwise it just naively compounds the units of the input. One of the examples in the help is that 6Mbit/s * 1.5h -> Gb gives you 4.05Gb. But if you type just 6Mbit/s * 1.5h, you get 9Mbit·h/s; it doesn’t attempt to simplify the units by default.

                        1. 1

                          Update: I discovered that there is already a GitHub issue for this wishlist item.

                        2. 1

                          i’d expect an error, because it doesn’t make sense. (note that you get an error with 2min * 3hours -> min)

                          1. 3

                            You get an error on the latter one because the unit you get from multiplying two times together is [time]², not [time]. If you instead ask for 2min * 3hours -> min², there’s no error.

                            Granted, squared time on its own doesn’t have a physical meaning, but it appears frequently in other expressions. For example, this works correctly: 1kg * 32miles / (2min * 3hours) -> N.

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                        I don’t put much weight on any ESR opinion after he indicated he believes that black people are sub-human.

                        I can disagree with anyone, and still listen to what they have to say, but I draw the line when you start talking about how my colleagues and my cousins aren’t actually humans. I don’t really care what you have to say about anything after that.

                        I wish we’d stop posting and reading to what he has to say about anything.

                        1. 9

                          If I was a serial killer who raped and murdered dozens of women and children, set fire to a church, a mosque and a synagogue, would this automatically, for instance, invalidate my works in applied mathematics?

                          It is easy to act offended by this or that person. I prefer ESR’s factual and well-articulated arguments while he discussed Rust and Go any day over your ad hominem attempts to deconstruct a chain of argument stating something that doesn’t have anything to do with the problem at hand.

                          In the long run, people like you are the ones who are guilty of the fact that so many people nowadays are afraid of stating their own opinion. Trump’s victory, which was a “total surprise”, actually wasn’t. And now after he won, more and more people are not scared anymore to express their world view. Now, I am not judging anybody on any side. But I suppose your goal is to convince people that believe otherwise that negroes are human (duh!). Now, do you think it is more productive to

                          • talk to these people, get an idea why they believe so and suggest fallacies in the line of thought; or to

                          • shun them, isolate them, mark them as *ists, *phobes, nazis, whatever, deny their existence, ignore what they have to say, and so on.

                          I’ll leave that as an exercise for you and hope you see what I mean.

                          1. 10

                            Well, let’s discuss his works in applied programming then. His (rather, stolen by him) fetchmail, among its other sins, was not checking SMTP responses from the server it talked to when I looked at it. His gpsd truncates JSON responses after 1.5KB instead of allocating memory dynamically. I don’t see why I should listen to an opinion on relative merits of programming languages by someone whose level of competence is below an average 2nd year CS student.

                            If he were like Henry Ford, a Hitler admirer who reached great heights in his chosen field, we could discuss your line of reasoning, but ESR is no Ford.

                            1. 3

                              So, I’m with you on his track record being spotty in some cases–a better example would be his hijacking/claiming credit for ncurses. That’s a fun little bit of drama to read about, as an aside.

                              But, I can’t give you a pass on this:

                              instead of allocating memory dynamically.

                              If only there was some kind of programming scenario where dynamic memory allocation wasn’t a good policy, like perhaps embedded or realtime systems. But that would only make sense if this code was being used for something like GPS–ha oh wait no, nevermind, that’s exactly what this code is being used for.

                              Besides, the behavior is clearly documented and recoverable, and clearly has somehow survived a lot of use in the real world…rather unlike your average 2nd year CS student. I’m sorry it offends your sensibilities, but perhaps maybe consider the problem domain before attacking it on stylistic grounds?

                              1. 3

                                If only there was some kind of programming scenario where dynamic memory allocation wasn’t a good policy, like perhaps embedded or realtime systems.

                                According to its home page,

                                gpsd is a service daemon that monitors one or more GPSes or AIS receivers attached to a host computer through serial or USB ports, making all data on the location/course/velocity of the sensors available to be queried on TCP port 2947 of the host computer.

                                It’s not embedded software.

                                Edit: Downvoted as “incorrect”? Have a decency to correct me, then.

                                1. 5

                                  GPSD is everywhere in mobile embedded systems. It underlies the map service on Android phones. It’s ubiquitous in drones, robot submarines, and driverless cars. It’s increasingly common in recent generations of manned aircraft, marine navigation systems, and military vehicles.

                                  1. 1

                                    For what it’s worth, I didn’t downvote you.

                                    Anyways, GPSD is run as a service in Android >4.0, so yes, it’s embedded software.

                                    1. 3

                                      Android systems normally have hundreds of megabytes of RAM at the very least, so I wouldn’t consider them embedded, especially when speaking about allocating several kilobytes.

                                      1. 2

                                        And don’t forget - he didn’t actually create gpsd.

                              2. 6

                                “If I was a serial killer who raped and murdered dozens of women and children, set fire to a church, a mosque and a synagogue, would this automatically, for instance, invalidate my works in applied mathematics?”

                                It would make me not want to read your opinions, engage with you in technical discussion, or otherwise normalize your behavior. I’d continue to make use of valid technical results, but I would not disrespect your victims by accepting your participation in my community.

                                1. 3

                                  How do you feel about the Wernher von Braun?

                                  1. 3

                                    The missiles go up and where they come down is not my concern says Wernher von Braun

                                2. 6

                                  would this automatically, for instance, invalidate my works in applied mathematics?

                                  I’m not arguing that; I’m arguing that the presence of these people in our community and the discussion of their ideas turns off others in our community, and signaling that these behaviors are acceptable ultimately leads to worse behavior from everyone. It’s a good thing, for example, that you can’t say the N word without being shamed or shunned by your peers and excluded from society.

                                  1. 8

                                    There are also people who go to the length of taking screenshots of text to put out of context. It’s as if the original material wasn’t even read, or alternatively not understood.

                                    Sure this is going off-topic, but the presence of people who are wilfully ignorant or wilfully misunderstanding, and then spreading that kind of a false message, is a problem as well.

                                    1. 12

                                      Quite right. People keep saying “wah wah wah I want more politics in mah lobsters why do we have to be so technically oriented”, and then they go and show that they can’t be arsed to actually source things correctly and argue things beyond “but but but muh feelings, muh racism”. A bunch of dreck.

                                      The argument @kb and others of his ilk put forth is “if you hold views that are not in agreement with us on a topic regardless of whether that topic is relevant to the current technical discussion, you should be shunned.”

                                      This is very popular, very in-vogue, and the stupidest, most truly close-minded goddamn thing in the world, and that ideology should be mocked publically at every turn because it cannot play well with others, and because it cripples rational thought prevasively in the afflicted.

                                      It’s absurd that irrational opinions or preferences should somehow automatically invalidate other good discourse.

                                      Further, the immature notion of @kb’s that failing to shun these folks somehow automagically signal-boosts their message is absurd. You know why we have exposure of ESR’s crazy in this thread? Because @kb decided to pipe up about it.

                                      Otherwise, we would’ve just had a reasonable amount of shilling by Go and Rust fans. It’s almost as though these folks can’t shut the fuck up about their pet grievances because they require those grievances to become front-and-center in every place they show their faces–hence my remark about not playing well with others.

                                      1. 6

                                        “It’s absurd that irrational opinions or preferences should somehow automatically invalidate other good discourse.”

                                        Irrational preference is a funny way to characterize racist discourse.

                                        “Further, the immature notion of @kb’s that failing to shun these folks somehow automagically signal-boosts their message is absurd.”

                                        That’s not an immature notion, it’s basic decency.

                                        Edit: Do I get to be of an ilk? Always been a dream of mine.

                                        1. 4

                                          That’s not an immature notion, it’s basic decency.

                                          In what world does failing to ban X cause there to be additional X? Does my failing to ban the word “fnord” on my blog somehow create addional instances of “fnord”? No, no it does not. It might seem like splitting hairs, but in that small difference is the gap between tolerance and censorship.

                                          Basic decency, I’d posit, is more about gracefully handling the existence of people who don’t agree with you on everything–even something as “common sense” or “evil” as bigotry. It’s odd that the “decent” approach somehow calls for shunning people and kicking them out.

                                          1. 6

                                            Who is calling for a ban on anything? But if your question is: in what world does widespread disapproval of some kind of offensive speech or behavior lead to reduction in that type of speech - the answer is: this world. For example the omnipresence of public humiliation of gay people or women in polite conversation in the USA 50 years ago has been reduced significantly by public disapproval. Or consider how white Americans called black men “boy” only a few decades ago even in supposedly educated circles.

                                            “Basic decency, I’d posit, is more about gracefully handling the existence of people who don’t agree with you on everything ”

                                            You conflate “disagree” and “degrade”. You may disagree with me about, for example, Barack Obama’s skills as a politician, but if you express your disagreement by waving around posters of Mr. Obama with a bone through his nose, we’re not “disagreeing”. Basic decency is treating all human beings as human beings, even if you dislike them or disagree with them. Asserting that an imaginary genetic inferiority of Hatians is to blame for the poverty of Haiti is a failure of basic decency (as well as an admission of gross ignorance).

                                            1. 1

                                              Who is calling for a ban on anything?

                                              @kb, to wit: I can respect disagreements on most issues, but I don’t want you in my community and I don’t want to discuss what you have to say when you can’t see my coworkers and friends as human beings.

                                              But if your question is: in what world does widespread disapproval of some kind of offensive speech or behavior lead to reduction in that type of speech

                                              That was pretty clearly not my question…?

                                              Or consider how white Americans called black men “boy” only a few decades ago even in supposedly educated circles.

                                              Is this from personal experience, or calling on a vague notion of “the bad old days”?

                                              Because, from personal experience, I can assure you that folks still use “boy” as a diminutive when referring to, well, young males and young-acting males, all the time–at least in Texas–regardless of the race of the person in question. “That boy is going to get himself into trouble.” “I’m going to see my boy.”.

                                              You conflate “disagree” and “degrade”.

                                              I never said “disagree”, I said “don’t agree”: there is a category of “I don’t promote your message, but I also don’t promote the countermessage” which is important not to lose in the shuffle.

                                              Asserting that an imaginary genetic inferiority of Hatians is to blame for the poverty of Haiti is a failure of basic decency (as well as an admission of gross ignorance).

                                              That’s not what was pointed out, though–the exact thing pointed out was the observed (by some source) low IQ, and then a comment that “Gee, it seems like low IQ correlates highly with being a third-world country”. You have not here, or elsewhere in sibling posts, actually shown the accusation that you keep claiming ESR made.

                                              ~

                                              Like, the source text for all of this, his comments and our discussions, are right here. Hyperlinks and direct quotes will save you a lot of miscommunication and bullshit.

                                              1. 4

                                                I don’t think you are arguing in good faith, so I’ll give you the last word.

                                                1. 2

                                                  Right, so no refutation of my points, and no further evidence for those of yours which were called out as misrepresentations of mine and others' points.

                                                  If “good faith” argumentation doesn’t require such things, I’m not really sure why we should care about it, and I certainly see no benefit in having it here.

                                        2. 5

                                          “if you hold views that are not in agreement with us on a topic regardless of whether that topic is relevant to the current technical discussion, you should be shunned.”

                                          This is a straw man, see my first comment that kicked off this whole thing. I can respect disagreements on most issues, but I don’t want you in my community and I don’t want to discuss what you have to say when you can’t see my coworkers and friends as human beings.

                                          It used to be acceptable to make sweeping generalizations about racial groups, demean women in the workplace, use the N word, and it’s generally not anymore, in large part because people who make those comments will be shamed/shunned/fired. I think that’s a good thing. I think you and others underestimate the effects toxic people have on others' participation in the community.

                                          failing to shun these folks somehow automagically signal-boosts their message is absurd

                                          Not about signal-boosting their message, but about the implicit message we send to marginalized groups when we tolerate the extreme beliefs of others. The message it sends when this person, who thinks you are too dumb to learn how to use a gun because of your skin color, is accepted and welcomed in the community.

                                          1. 6

                                            Thank you for more clearly stating your position here.

                                            but about the implicit message we send to marginalized groups when we tolerate the extreme beliefs of others.

                                            It’s difficult to reason effectively about “implicit messaging”, especially without either spiraling off into space or making the sin of pretending we can truly know how another person feels about something and how they perceive it.

                                            I’ll take responsibility for anything explicitly said, but the way that you use implicit messaging here seems to translate to “whatever message others infer from their observations”. I only have one dog–your reasoning suggests I should be concerned that I’m sending off the “I hate cats” message.

                                            The message it sends when this person, who thinks you are too dumb to learn how to use a gun because of your skin color, is accepted and welcomed in the community.

                                            Where is this message in his writings, exactly? Or are you just spitballing a hypothetical or, god forbid, another idea coming out of Twitter?

                                            Also, that same message sans skin color predicate is used all the time by folks who dislike gun owners, and many of those folks are accepted with loving arms in the tech community. If you want this to be something we care about, maybe we should address that other blatant doubletalk first.

                                            1. 4

                                              Where is anyone saying your coworkers and friends aren’t human beings? Where did he say something like that? What am I missing? Where is this gun claim coming from?

                                              edit: what particular belief should not be tolerated?

                                    2. 10

                                      You would probably do better to link specific examples than to just say “he’s an evil meanie racist who shouldn’t be listened to”.

                                      Least of all because his software probably has more users than yours.

                                      1. 17

                                        In the case of ESR, I think it’s fair to ask whether people use “his” software because of or despite his authorship. I wager the concensus is that he’s done a shit job actually improving it, despite much bloviating to the contrary.

                                        1. 7

                                          Sure, but that doesn’t mean his technical opinions are worth ignoring completely.

                                          Software quality is not, sadly, the final word–otherwise we would all use OpenBSD instead of Linux.

                                          1. 10

                                            Of course. His technical opinions should be evaluated - but one should be mindful of the quality of his past work while doing so. ESR portrays himself as a form of coding demi-god (see quotes below), but that may be stretching the truth somewhat.

                                            Yes, there was a bug in my vint64 encapsulation commit. I will neither confirm nor deny any conjecture that I left it in there deliberately to see who would be sharp enough to spot it.

                                            I often go entire months per project without committing a bug to the repository. There have been good stretches on NTPsec in which my error rate was down around one introduced bug per quarter while I was coding at apparently breakneck speed. This is how I do that.

                                            Source

                                            Right, so he implies a bug in his code was left there intentionally for others to spot (I’m not sure if it was a failed attempt at humour - it can be hard to tell with his writing style)? And he goes months without committing bugs to the repository. Wow. He’s come a long way since fetchmail is all I can say…

                                            Edit: I thought I was making a reasonable argument (with quotes!), but if that’s flagged as trolling, then so be it.

                                            1. 2

                                              I don’t follow. Are you saying that we should listen to ESR’s technical opinion because his software is relatively popular, eventhough it’s low quality?

                                              1. 1

                                                There is indeed a lot that can be learned from popular, if low-quality, software.

                                                Consider the other side of your position: Should we only listen to people who write high-quality software that never sees public use? I think not.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Consider the other side of your position: Should we only listen to people who write high-quality software that never sees public use?

                                                  This is a ridiculous portrayal of my words. Only people who write software that’s never used? Of course not. But if I’m going to listen to someone speaking about programming, I’d rather listen to someone who can write good software, however popular it is, than follow popularity contests. If he were talking about marketing software to free sof^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hopen source enthusiasts, that would be an entirely different issue.

                                          2. 8

                                            Having more users doesn’t necessarily mean the software is any good. Just look at the horror that is fetchmail (in short: “As to fetchmail: it is an abomination before God”).

                                            DJB also had the following to say about it:

                                            Last night, root@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx reinjected thirty old messages from various authors to qmail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

                                            This sort of idiocy happens much more often than most subscribers know, thanks to a broken piece of software by Eric Raymond called fetchmail. Fortunately, qmail and ezmlm have loop-prevention mechanisms that stop these messages before they are distributed to subscribers. The messages end up bouncing to the wrong place, thanks to another fetchmail bug, but at least the mailing list is protected.

                                            –D. J. Bernstein

                                            There’s more in the getmail FAQ. Yes, the getmail author may possibly be biased but that list of security holes doesn’t make for good reading.

                                            If the piece of software you’re most known for is, well, not that great (and you didn’t even create it - it was a development of Carl Harris' popclient), then I reserve the right to treat what you say with scepticism.

                                              1. 7

                                                Why not link to the source material?

                                                For example: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5001

                                                In my opinion, the full article is rather different from the snippet you linked.

                                                1. 23

                                                  You…are aware that screencaps of text don’t actually imply much these days, right? Especially if they’re from, say, a pretty openly biased source. Hint: tptacek may be an expert in security, but I wouldn’t automagically trust him beyond that point. Do your own homework…speaking of which!

                                                  Here, let’s look at the actual quotes in context and at least attempt rigor:

                                                  Sure, here: https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/816464403168161793

                                                  From an article entitled “Preventing visceral racism” The thrust of which was ESR (however clumsily) trying to explore his own irrational feelings so he could learn to transcend them.

                                                  and here: https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/816445221470957569

                                                  The first bit is talking about what the guiding principle of the hacker community is (in his opinion), and how to approach him with an objection to that principle or a critique on it execution. Quite harmless, one might dare even say progressive, and frankly the sort of advice that people like you should take (instead of blindly regurgitating tweets).

                                                  The second is ESR arguing that politics is the red-herring in Haiti’s “it’s the politics making it bad” is in fact due to “it’s the below-average IQ of the population”. Racism based on skin color (either for or against) is explicitly pointed out as being wrong. The final paragraph is saying that low IQs correlate with third-world countries–only exceptionally uncritical reading would interpret that as “yep, sure hate them blacks folks aye tell you hwut.”

                                                  and here: https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/769328477606547456

                                                  From this thread, the first comment of which is the one screencapped (which I am disallowed from linking to directly, sadly).

                                                  If you read the paper under discussion, specifically the summary on page 60, you’ll see what they’re talking about–specifically, that it is claimed that social stressors don’t completely account for the increase in mental health issues with non-heterosexual and transgender populations.

                                                  In that light, Eric’s comment is not some crazy bigoted nonsequitor. It can still be incorrect mind you, as can the report they’re discussing, but it’s hardly a smoking gun unless you’re hellbent on dismissing what the man has to say.

                                                  Which, by your own admission of course, you are.

                                                  I wish there was a downvote option for “intellectually lazy”.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    The second is ESR arguing that politics is the red-herring in Haiti’s “it’s the politics making it bad” is in fact due to “it’s the below-average IQ of the population”. Racism based on skin color (either for or against) is explicitly pointed out as being wrong. The final paragraph is saying that low IQs correlate with third-world countries–only exceptionally uncritical reading would interpret that as “yep, sure hate them blacks folks aye tell you hwut.”

                                                    You don’t have to sound like a racist out of central casting to be racist. The comment by Raymond you cited qualifies as racist.

                                                    1. 7

                                                      I don’t get it. What is racist about it?

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Seriously? You don’t get what is racist about a white American saying that a 100% black country, which his own country has invaded multiple times, has economic problems because its population is made up of people who are genetically doomed to stupidity?

                                                        1. 2

                                                          He didn’t make up the IQ of Haiti. What do you want from him? How much sugar do you want with your research? Maybe Haiti has problems from both being invaded and being full of borderline disabled people?

                                                          I don’t know how you could possibly look at that fact and not think it’s going to have a big effect. Maybe the research is flawed but to say it’s racist to even ask the question is pathetic.

                                                          1. 0

                                                            At this point “ask the question” is like “it’s just a joke”.

                                                          2. 2

                                                            That isn’t what he said though…If you read the link, he says nothing about genetic predetermination. You are attacking him for something he didn’t write there.

                                                            Also, would it be less racist a claim, by your logic, were ESR not a white American? Cmon.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              “Also, would it be less racist a claim, by your logic, were ESR not a white American? ”

                                                              Of course. This is how language works. It’s annoying how when these types of topics arise, people affect a kind of bland literalism that nobody uses to navigate daily life.

                                                              1. 4

                                                                Jesus Christ. The IQ is what it is. How can you seriously say it’s racist to examine it?

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  IQ is not like atmospheric pressure - it’s a socially defined and socially significant “measure”. There’s a lot of research on the topic. There’s a good, short introduction in this article https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/why-people-keep-misunderstanding-the-connection-between-race-and-iq/275876/

                                                                  What Raymond does in that note is a long way from “examine” some objective measure.

                                                    2. 7

                                                      While it’s well within your right to ignore ESR for his bigoted views, and idiocy, I do like to challenge this idea that because someone takes a certain stance on one thing, they shouldn’t be taken seriously in another, unrelated thing.

                                                      I wonder how many contributions to science, literature, math, software, etc you’ve enjoyed, used, quoted, expanded your mind with, that were contributed to, written by, discovered by, persons with views that you would oppose so vehemently?

                                                      Maybe the fact is, we live in a much different world now, where we have the tools necessary to understand people’s opinions and beliefs, because people share them openly on blogs and such.

                                                      I’m not suggesting it’s the wrong approach to take–it may be the best strategy for defending against hate–but I wonder how this works when we might promote someone we don’t know enough about, which we wouldn’t if we did, ya know?

                                                      1. 6

                                                        A guy who’s considering the implications of scientific research and trying to actively train his system 1 to be less racist, what a monster.

                                                        1. 6

                                                          Go tell a black coworker or a black friend that you don’t believe that black people should be allowed to own guns because you believe, as a group, they lack the intelligence to learn how to handle them and then get back to me on whether these are racist comments or not.

                                                          1. 6

                                                            I didn’t see that claim made. I saw a claim about the average IQ in Haiti?

                                                            Seeing if an idea hurts someone’s feelings seems like a pretty bad idea to tell if it’s true though.

                                                            edit: I love the “here be dragons” label, I wish more places would do something like that rather than delete things.

                                                            1. 3

                                                              Presumably, though, telling white (whatever that means) people that one believes, as a group, that they have pillaged the earth and made the human race worse off is somehow acceptable?

                                                              Please, let’s end this line of conversation for the time being.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                You’re moving the goalposts, and no, it’s not.

                                                                1. 7

                                                                  How am I moving the goalposts? Friendo, you haven’t managed to set any meaningful parameters on this discussion beyond snark and half-baked accusations.

                                                                  Maybe you could start by actually linking (directly!) to the material that you’re roundabout suggesting exists when you say things like

                                                                  because you believe, as a group, they lack the intelligence to learn how to handle them

                                                                  If ESR said that, source it–if he said that indirectly, source the different parts and draw the pattern out for us. If he didn’t say that, you’re just spouting inflammatory nonsense in an attempt to signal and get upvtoes.

                                                      2. 2

                                                        Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Sometimes the wrong people are right about something, and the strengths of their observations stand on their own.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Sometimes the wrong people are right about something, and the strengths of their observations stand on their own.

                                                          Plenty of people have thoughts about Rust and Go, we don’t need to also listen to the racist folks.

                                                          1. 4

                                                            Well, I think we can’t ignore any solid points they raise, if we happen to come across them.

                                                            I’m not saying we should seek out the opinions of racist folks. I was just browsing Lobste.rs when I saw this.

                                                            It might also be a good idea to keep abreast of what the racists are up to. Otherwise they might surprise you.

                                                      1. 18

                                                        It is not about theoretical concepts such as virtual inheritance and nomads

                                                        Seriously.

                                                        1. 9

                                                          That’s a weird dig, since it seems aimed half at C++ and half at Haskell? Haskell sure, it’s the usual punching bag for people who want to claim to be “practical”, but C++ is (far) more popular than Go in practical, industry usage.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            “Practical” is not the same as “popular in practical usage”. As Pike said in Less is exponentially more,

                                                            There’s this idea about “programming in the large” and somehow C++ and Java own that domain. I believe that’s just a historical accident, or perhaps an industrial accident.

                                                          2. 5

                                                            I wonder how long it will take them to correct the spelling.

                                                            1. 8

                                                              Maybe a strong understanding of nomads helps when handling process migration?

                                                              More seriously, I kinda dislike seeing TIOBE “news” here, etc.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              stsp continues his five year mission to fix wifi. In last week’s episode, he negotiates with the standard violating APs at 33C3.

                                                              Is there a link to the talk? I couldn’t find it on in the Fahrplan.

                                                              1. 6

                                                                It wasn’t a talk, he just noticed the bug and fixed it while he was attending 33c3.

                                                                1. 5

                                                                  Yep. Though it’s not a 33C3 talk but a change that makes OpenBSD work better with routers there. Here is the mailing list thread.

                                                                1. 12

                                                                  Really great read, but I think the advice about “worry about the success of the project instead of your visibility” is a little misplaced. If you’re the CTO, sure it’s okay to be humble and let others get credit–but it’s really bad to internalize this as “I shouldn’t be visible in my work and it’s okay not to get credit if the product ships successfully!”. Waaaay too many folks get screwed by letting themselves get lost in the shuffle.

                                                                  The other thing that is a little annoying is the insistence on estimates. We should all be able to give most pessimum bounds on how long things should take, but after near a half-century of software development I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that estimating how long software projects take is a great deal harder (for whatever reason) than, say, setting up the logistics for framing a house and pouring concrete. At some level, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that most of the internally-imposed deadlines in a business are arbitrary, and it’s really easy to do a disservice to our profession if we represent our work as something that can be as trivially and reliably scheduled as baking goods or something.

                                                                  Otherwise, an excellent read.

                                                                  1. 5

                                                                    The other thing that is a little annoying is the insistence on estimates.

                                                                    Recently, at $work, we started doing collaborative estimates during our planning meetings. A collaborative estimate is where one person briefly outlines a technical task, and then everyone in the meeting simultaneously puts up a estimate, in days, using their fingers.

                                                                    Before we started doing that, estimates were just some number that one of us put into a ticket. I have to say, switching to collaborative estimates was a really enlightening process for me personally. We don’t track whether we’ve gotten more accurate or not (and therefore, I’m not actually disagreeing with you, just sharing a related anecdote), which is fine. The most interesting thing about this process is that it has become a really sharp knife for determining whether we’re all (roughly) on the same page or not. 95% of the time, our estimates are all really close, but occasionally one of us will be really different from the others. Thus far, there have been two reasons:

                                                                    1. There was a key misunderstanding in either the requirements of the task or how one ought to implement it.
                                                                    2. Some of us are more/less comfortable with certain parts of the system than others.

                                                                    So ya, I find this interesting because estimates are no longer just about giving the business folks some rough timeline, but it’s also about the process for coming to a consensus on that estimate and thereby getting a better shared understanding of the task at hand.

                                                                    Some caveats… Our planning meetings currently consist of four programmers. I don’t know whether this process scales to more people or not.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      everyone in the meeting simultaneously puts up a estimate, in days, using their fingers.

                                                                      Sounds like you don’t plan tasks that take longer than 10 days.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        We do. We either break them up or just vocally say our estimate. Most tasks are below 10 days.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    About right hook turns it is funny how it is different in different places. In Berlin (and I assume many other cities) if you would turn in the correct way [0], cyclists would ring, yell and hit at your car. At least in some cases there is separate lane for right turn and the bike line for going straight is on the left side of it.

                                                                    [0] https://www.sfbike.org/news/bike-lanes-and-right-turns/

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      Are you sure this is the correct way to turn in Germany? (As a Berliner cyclist who has no driving license, I have no idea.)

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        It’s the correct way in a sense of the article. It is cited that Uber cars are programmed to turn in “wrong” way and then the link is given, which I put in here. Confusing - I know :)

                                                                        But I don’t really know what is the correct way in Germany. I only know that I’m yet to see the “correct” way. Generally I think that most drivers in Berlin are aware of the possible cyclists going straight from their right side. When I’m driving I try to see as much as I can, but it is not easy, especially at night and quite stressful. It helps that light cycle gives cyclists few seconds of green light before cars get their.

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Submitting this here because apparently links to jwz’s site are shadownbanned on Hacker News. I think this needs to be discussed somewhere, however.

                                                                      Please please please don’t use Lobsters as a place to post things that you couldn’t get onto HN.

                                                                      This is news, this is nontechnical, this doesn’t belong here.

                                                                      If you want it discussed, please try Reddit or similar.

                                                                      1. 33

                                                                        I disagree. The title is clickbait, but the content is valid. Uber is deploying unsafe software in its self-driving cars, and safety issues are a major component of engineering. As Silicon Valley sloppiness spreads, we’re going to see more stuff like this and we’re going to see people get killed.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          I disagree. The title is clickbait, but the content is valid

                                                                          Clickbaitiness isn’t even the issue here. Even HN’s official rules leave plenty of room for all sorts of articles, but they censor a lot of things anyway.

                                                                          Basically what angersock said there amounts to asking people to self-censor anything that HN would censor, which would cover a lot of stuff that should be seen by as many people as possible.

                                                                          Some things nickpsecurity has said on Lobsters would get at least any mere mortal banned there. The world sure could use less censorship.

                                                                          1. 24

                                                                            Even HN’s official rules leave plenty of room for all sorts of articles, but they censor a lot of things anyway.

                                                                            Hacker News is the media/propaganda organ of Y Combinator. Anything that is deemed inconvenient to the interests of a YC startup is censored. The “official rules” are a joke. You can get away with anything if Gack deems you to be on the right team.

                                                                            The only reason why some leftist, anti-VC threads survive is that Y Combinator and the real VCs actually dislike each other. The VCs see Paul Graham as a power-hungry phony and Y Combinator as a shell game of startups buying each other’s services to inflate revenue and adoption (which, to be fair, is exactly what it is).

                                                                            Basically what angersock said there amounts to asking people to self-censor anything that HN would censor, which would cover a lot of stuff that should be seen by as many people as possible.

                                                                            I didn’t read it this way. I think that he (for good reasons) doesn’t want Lobsters to get flooded with things just because HN won’t accept them. I don’t think he meant to imply that everything censored by HN should also be censored here. In other words, “Hacker News won’t post it” isn’t, on its own, a good reason to submit something to Lobsters.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              In other words, “Hacker News won’t post it” isn’t, on its own, a good reason to submit something to Lobsters.

                                                                              Sure, but that wasn’t my position either.

                                                                              I’m sure you’re right about HN’s original purpose as a YC propaganda organ, but my problem with it is that they’re actively spreading government propaganda too, and of course silencing any anti-government posters while at it.

                                                                            2. 7

                                                                              Basically what angersock said there amounts to asking people to self-censor anything that HN would censor, which would cover a lot of stuff that should be seen by as many people as possible.

                                                                              As @michaelochurch observed, my major complaint was that “HN is censoring it” is a bad reason to submit something here, least of all because it defines our community in terms of what HN is not, instead of what we ourselves do well.

                                                                              Secondly, I don’t think that asking folks to avoid submitting alarmist nontechnical posts is self-censorship anymore than asking people to not rant about politics during a lecture on sorting algorithms.

                                                                          2. 4

                                                                            I largely agree with you. I came here, because it seemed much more technically minded link aggregator than HN. I get value from HN, but Lobsters had for me a narrow focus, which I like. Unfortunately (for at least me) with more users it’s focus widens. I think that it is commonly considered a HN alternative - a place for HN refugees. And here I am commenting on meta issue instead on some nice dry article.

                                                                            I don’t know what actionable item I could add to this comment. The Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism article [0] resonates with me. I would like to find a community that would be focused on technical issues - Unix, embedded Linux, C, asm hacking. But as it was with Lobsters months ago usually there is not much to discuss, because there are not a lot of people knowledgeable enough to comment about some obscure (although interesting) issue. People read linked content, can learn something new and if content was good by itself, what’s there left to comment?

                                                                            I start to see that I can get technical news from many places, but what I want doesn’t really exist and probably can’t for long. Communities gathered around specific projects can (and should) be narrowly focused. However if you widen the focus just a bit more you will open the floodgates.

                                                                            Maybe there are some specific subreddits dedicated to the things I would like to read about more. At the same time the traffic here is not that big, so I can focus and ignore the rest, but the Well-Kept Garden issue persists.

                                                                            [0] http://lesswrong.com/lw/c1/wellkept_gardens_die_by_pacifism/

                                                                            1. 7

                                                                              The stuff about it not being on HN doesn’t belong here, but the issue of how self driving cars are behaving is a technical news issue.

                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                The “issue of how self-driving cars are behaving” is not what this is. This is Grandpa Zawinski bitching and retweeing in usual fashion about the evil gentrification and soulless startups that are ruining his city.

                                                                                Here’s a quick runthrough of my internal “is this news spam/rabble-rausing or useful tech writing” checklist:

                                                                                • Is there a line of code in the article, or math? No. Article contains no concrete descriptions of the algorithms used or at fault, no visualizations for the problems mentioned beyond a dashcam video of a red-light violation, and no technical background to describe the problem (other than Uber spin).
                                                                                • Is there actionable information for us in the article as software engineers? No. There is nothing in there that would help us write better driving software than the already-obvious “follow the road laws”. There is no discussion of how to handle continuously-changing legal provisions, no discussion of the cost of doing so, no sketch of a generalized framework for adding legal constraints on top of physical motion planning.
                                                                                • Is the article novel itself, or just a collection of links and quotes?. Mostly a collection of links. Some kvetching by Grandpa Zawinski too I guess.

                                                                                That said, look at all the upvotes the article is getting here, because everybody wants to get in on the Two Minute Hate.

                                                                                If we all had some actual chutzpah, we’d be posting articles on things like how to destroy corporate property or disable vehicles or hack mission-critical embedded systems–and that sort of stuff I’d upvote, because it is both technical and actionable and educational (hardware practices debugging).

                                                                                Instead, we start to see these articles that are just classic call-response “oh these people are evil” “yes these people are evil!”, which is the same banal faux-activism that can be found in literally any other corner of the web.

                                                                                1. 13

                                                                                  I am glad this site does not obey your list of criteria, because it would make the site very limited. Those criteria can describe some interesting articles but it’s a small subset of all interesting articles/articles that can result in interesting discussions.

                                                                                  There’s plenty of interesting discussion this thread COULD have had:

                                                                                  • Could/should SF stop Uber, and how?
                                                                                  • If what the are doing is unethical, what’s the criteria we should hold automated driving software to before deploying it on public roads? Should Tesla also be holding off?
                                                                                  • Is there anything meaningful any of us can do if we feel like Uber are being unethical here?

                                                                                  I think you are being pretty ridiculous, to be honest. JWZ can be a dipshit but I think this is a case where he’s being hyperbolic like usual but not that far off the mark.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    First, that’s far from my only checklist. I agree that if it were the only one in use we’d see a different and probably more-limited site.

                                                                                    Those criteria can describe some interesting articles but it’s a small subset of all interesting articles/articles that can result in interesting discussions.

                                                                                    “Interesting” is a pretty broad criteria, and has empirically shown itself to be a poor indicator of quality or coherency. My dog fetching a stick is interesting to people on imgur–but I don’t submit those images or videos here.

                                                                                    JWZ can be a dipshit but I think this is a case where he’s being hyperbolic like usual but not that far off the mark.

                                                                                    Whether or not he’s being hyperbolic or “on the mark” has little to do with the article’s merit as something technologists can learn from. Just because he’s right doesn’t mean it belongs here anymore than a solid analysis of Russian-US relations does.

                                                                                    ~

                                                                                    Look, if you think this is a real issue, maybe trying submitting some stories with good coverage of the problems involved instead of just piling on in support of a populist screed.

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      Man you are really sticking to your guns. At least you’re truly committed to being wrong.

                                                                                      I already explained why this belongs here, and it’s obvious. By the way, the analysis of Russian-US relations probably belongs here too because things have escalated to hacking in order to influence elections. The issue of how to deal with internet warfare is possibly the most important tech issue of our time?

                                                                                      The only issue I’m addressing here is you trying to impose your ridiculous vision of what this site should be on other people. My original reply was one of the first ones pointing out how ridiculous you were, so I wasn’t really piling on. Maybe the fact that you feel piled on should tell you that you’re wrong and you should drop it.

                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                        The only issue I’m addressing here is you trying to impose your ridiculous vision of what this site should be on other people.

                                                                                        I completely disagree with angersock on the inappropriateness of this story, but I don’t think you’re being fair. He just explained why he didn’t think it fit, which while evidently disagreeable, is not “imposing his vision” on anyone and is arguably more constructive than silently downmodding.

                                                                                        Maybe we should just sit down and have the knock-down drag-out brawl about what should and should not be posted on lobsters (especially since it seems to happen in bits and pieces in the comment sections of any even slightly questionable post anyway), but until then, the guidelines are fuzzy, and discussion of their boundary conditions is valid.

                                                                                        1. 0

                                                                                          I think I am being fair. He didn’t say “I feel like this kind of thing is better not posted.” He directed the guy not to post it any more. That’s imposing his vision. He wasn’t bringing it up as a topic of discussion, he was saying this is the way it should be. That’s horsecrap.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            There is a difference between asking somebody nicely with reasoning to not do something, and imposing will on them.

                                                                                            Without mod or admin privileges, and without means of coercion beyond mere rhetoric, it’s pretty difficult to “impose” one’s vision on anybody who isn’t receptive.

                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                        little to do with the article’s merit as something technologists can learn from

                                                                                        How about something that human beings can learn from? Why would any “technologist” want to be oblivious to anything not directly related to technology?

                                                                                        We’re all smart, and thus intellectually curious people here, are we not?

                                                                                        I’m not saying we should start posting articles on collecting postage stamps, but there’s plenty of stuff that’s not strictly tech-related but actually matters to us all.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          Because there are numerous sites out there with really great reading for the general case of intellectually-curious humans (as distinct from technologists). It’s not like there’s some great big drought of content out there.

                                                                                          You’re new (regdate of 23 days ago as of the time of this writing) so maybe you don’t know but a good deal of the attraction of Lobsters for the last couple of years has been that it is apolitical and not filled with nerdbait^Wstuff that’s not strictly tech-related.

                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                  Understood, I’ll refrain from doing so in the future.

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    Please don’t. I think that news on the intersection of technology and politics are relevant here.

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      I meant more that I won’t be wearing the “So… I couldn’t get this on HN” on the sleeve of any stories I do submit in the future, and I’ll try to properly focus on the actual discussion points, rather than bringing the HN/Lobsters drama back into it.

                                                                                      What I posted here generated a lot of meta-noise about HN and lobsters, which wasn’t what I had been going for. I do think that the intersection of Politics and programming is something worth discussing, but I defer to regulars here on if that is on topic for this site.

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  Far too many package managers.

                                                                                  If a disease has many treatments, it has no cure.

                                                                                  I was trying hard to see what advantage the embed JSON-LD in html gave me…. and not finding. I think that is because I’m on Firefox 50… And I think support got removed in 49 (See table at bottom of page… https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Microdata)

                                                                                  Config items are another disease.

                                                                                  Config Items are what happens when a Developer says, “This setting, should it be X or Y? I don’t know, I will make it a config item.”

                                                                                  Bang! He has just increased the dimension of his configuration space, usually for sole reason that “Thinking Hurts, and Thinking Like A User Doubly Hurts”…. and has just massively reduced his test coverage of that space.

                                                                                  I strongly favour ‘sensible defaults and hide a config items somewhere not visible to a non-source code reading user behind a 'this may break things" warning.’.

                                                                                  I didn’t need convincing that there are too many config files everywhere….

                                                                                  ….but you haven’t convinced me that you have a solution to them, or indeed how JSON-LD might be such a thing.

                                                                                  “Dumb Data Only” configs inevitably give rise to more and more arcane config items until it meets the criteria for Greenspun’s tenth rule.

                                                                                  A hard immovable insistence on remaining only “dumb data” results in things like Sass and Less to make CSS less dumb.

                                                                                  The other approach is to swing hard in the opposite direction and declare “your config file is a script” ala use Scheme (guile) or Lua.

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    There was also the quite recent post on a rich-but-not-turing-complete config language (dhall was the name, IIRC).

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      dhall

                                                                                      I saw that… sort of interesting for the use case where whoever is writing your config file is possibly intelligent AND possibly actively malicious.

                                                                                      Another use case would be “hot swap” config on a mission critical app where re-reading the config MUST succeed and Do Good Things.

                                                                                      Not so good if you are intelligent and writing the config file for yourself, or you are not intelligent( and/or time limited (sort of the same thing)) and just trying to get the damn thing to work.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        re-reading the config MUST succeed and Do Good Things

                                                                                        How does that work if parsing fails?

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          The usual policy is “Keep going on the old config”.

                                                                                          ie. Once the system “accepts” the config it shifts it somewhere non-writable by the user.

                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                      OP/author here: Great feedback. Will take into consideration. Thanks!

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        I’d really like a bit more detail on exactly how you’d use JSON-LD…..

                                                                                        …I think I glimpse the tail of the idea… but I don’t think I’m seeing / understanding the whole beast.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      dtf will delete to next f, if you then realize that was one f before the one you targeted, you need to undo, go back to your initial position, and try again with d2tf

                                                                                      Wouldn’t you just press . to achieve the same effect?

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        Unless you want to repeat the whole d2tf with ., in which case you’d have to hit it twice every time you wanted to use it.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          Besides, unlike (n)vi, vim sort-of supports the object-verb model with v (visual selection), and it’s even adjustable in real time. vtf;d is “select until ‘f’, repeat movement (to next ‘f’), delete selection”.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            With dtf maybe, but it won’t help with ytf.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              And the result of the paste register will be different, too, with dtf.

                                                                                          1. 14

                                                                                            As a serious vim user: This is genuinely cool! It might be too late for my fingers to ever abandon Vim, but I applaud any effort to make modal editing more learnable and ubiquitous. The object->verb ordering is probably the single biggest contribution of the modern OOP language world and it just makes sense for text editing commands too.

                                                                                            Some constructive criticism: My visceral reaction to seeing Clippy is so bad that it almost makes me not want to read anything else on your pages or watch your videos. You may consider avoiding Clippy and his negative associations.

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              The new grammar may bring some benefit, but text objects are IMO not a real problem. Let’s see if I get around to testing this, but I’m wary of it, because Vim takes a long time to master, so this will probably too.

                                                                                              My gut tells me it’s trading something off for something else and the individual user’s mileage will certainly vary.

                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                Clippy’s not that bad but it would nice if you could turn him off.

                                                                                                The code would suggest there’s a cat option if it bothers you that much:

                                                                                                https://github.com/mawww/kakoune/blob/5ff8245cc84a15d6a48bd2e19e4c70d4f8ae3f77/src/ncurses_ui.cc#L31

                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                  It is actually possible to turn it off entirely. I’ve been messing with kakoune and this is the first line in my kakrc:

                                                                                                  set global ui_options ncurses_assistant=none
                                                                                                  
                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                  They’re just following in the footsteps of Clippy for nvi.

                                                                                                1. 21

                                                                                                  You really need to provide some examples of those comments, because it can be really hard to tell the difference between comment quality actually dropping and people just wanting to say “back in my day this was awesome and now it sucks”.

                                                                                                  Especially accusations of trolling need to be substantiated better because the word tends to be grossly overused.

                                                                                                    1. 24

                                                                                                      It seems just about every comment you linked was received with polite, but firm criticism/sensible answers, and didn’t end up spoiling the thread or the community’s view. Now while it’d be great to not have these comments at all, I think those examples actually show the bigger picture - the high maturity level of the people in community.

                                                                                                      Perhaps the lobsters software should be able to track repeated troll attempts from a single user and raise an alert for moderators to step in. One thing I’ve experienced from moderation of a few communities is that it is generally better to accept more users cheaply, and have stricter rules to kick them out if/when they misbehave.

                                                                                                      1. 9

                                                                                                        It seems just about every comment you linked was received with polite, but firm criticism/sensible answers, and didn’t end up spoiling the thread or the community’s view. Now while it’d be great to not have these comments at all, I think those examples actually show the bigger picture - the high maturity level of the people in community.

                                                                                                        Amen. I agree, and this is why I don’t think censorship is needed.

                                                                                                        Hacker News is heavily modded and it’s still a cesspool.

                                                                                                        The best way to handle the problem of bad users is not to attract them in the first place. I think that we’re doing a good job of keeping the forum in a state that doesn’t attract the YC type.

                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                          You are such a prolific commentator here, that one of the explicit benefits of HN (compared to lobsters) is that you aren’t there.

                                                                                                          [EDIT] I stand by what I said above, but @angersock is right, I probably could have expressed it better. Some clarification: https://lobste.rs/c/01bj1d

                                                                                                          1. 11

                                                                                                            This is the sort of feedback that is best left to private messages, or that really requires further elaboration and generalization of principle in order to raise the level of discourse. Please consider either of those options in the future.

                                                                                                            1. 12

                                                                                                              IMO, michaelochurch’s comments are a non-trivial portion of the low quality comments I’ve seen on lobsters. Virtually every single comment by him either insults entire classes of programmers with absurd generalizations or participates in revisionist history.

                                                                                                              This is the sort of feedback that is best left to private messages

                                                                                                              I generally agree. I’ve mostly stopped interacting with michaelochurch because all previous interactions have been remarkably negative. But if we’re going to participate in a meta discussion about the comment quality on lobsters, then it seems more than appropriate to air grievances.

                                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                                While I don’t always agree with michaelochurch’s comments, and sometimes they’re only vaguely related to the parent post (which can be disruptive), I think he’s a valuable member of the community. He holds a minority opinion on a number of issues, but argues them in a thought-provoking way. I’d hate to see lobste.rs as a community push people out because of contrarian viewpoints.

                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                  I’d hate to see lobste.rs as a community push people out because of contrarian viewpoints.

                                                                                                                  I wonder if you’d actually walk the walk too.

                                                                                                                2. 5

                                                                                                                  Hm, I actually liked the “two types” of programmers comment made by michaelochurch and remember thinking “this guy can really write well”. It made me check out his blog and add it to my feed.

                                                                                                                  But maybe that’s because what he wrote down agrees with my opinion?

                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                    Virtually every single comment by him either insults entire classes of programmers with absurd generalizations or participates in revisionist history.

                                                                                                                    While we’re on the topic of quality content and all, it would be great if you could back up your claims by quoting something Michael said and telling us why he’s wrong (or why it’s reasonable to get “offended” or upset by it).

                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                      I provided links and have otherwise said enough. At this point, it’s up to folks to come to their own conclusions.

                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                        I didn’t see anything wrong with what Michael said in the comments you linked to, so you definitely haven’t said enough.

                                                                                                                    2. 3

                                                                                                                      IMO, michaelochurch’s comments are a non-trivial portion of the low quality comments I’ve seen on lobsters.

                                                                                                                      Generally, I think this sort of stat-waving is in poor taste, but I have a higher average karma-per-comment than you do.

                                                                                                                      all previous interactions have been remarkably negative.

                                                                                                                      You made the first personal attack, not me.

                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                    You are such a prolific commentator here, that one of the explicit benefits of HN (compared to lobsters) is that you aren’t there.

                                                                                                                    Banning me from HN was part of a larger effort. They forced Quora (which YC bought) to ban me. On Reddit, they used to attack me heavily with sock puppets and brigades. Then I started getting the death threats, including harassment from homeless on the street (presumably paid off by YCs; it is a common tactic) when I was in the Bay Area. On one occasion, those assholes tried to get me fired.

                                                                                                                    I suppose you’re a fan of all that, too?

                                                                                                                    If you wonder what I did to piss them off, I wrote a blog post in 2013 where I used the term “chickenhawk” to describe VC’s attraction to inexperience founders. I never mentioned Paul Graham once in that context, and did not have him in mind, but he took the post to be about him, and the rest is history.

                                                                                                                    I’m sure, though, that you think you dislike me because you think for yourself and not because you’ve been told what to think by Paul Graham and his menagerie of boypets. Carry on, then.

                                                                                                                    1. 16

                                                                                                                      If you wonder what I did to piss them off

                                                                                                                      You’ve conveniently left out some important details that might color one’s perspective. For an example of such a detail, see: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10017538

                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                        I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

                                                                                                                        1. 9

                                                                                                                          I’d imagine the point was that you were warned by a mod to stop doing something and then banned after you kept doing it.

                                                                                                                          Either those posts were not in fact written by you (which would be consistent with your accusation that they are trying to get rid of you by any means necessary), or you broke the rules of their private space and got kicked out for it.

                                                                                                                          I’m not going to tell you they aren’t out to get you - I have every reason to believe PG would act like that - but the HN ban sure looks like more like regular old moderation than some kind of conspiracy.

                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                            Either those posts were not in fact written by you (which would be consistent with your accusation that they are trying to get rid of you by any means necessary), or you broke the rules of their private space and got kicked out for it.

                                                                                                                            The rules, to the extent that they can be argued to exist, are inconsistently enforced. People who point out that Silicon Valley has devolved into a pyramid scheme, and that Y Combinator is morally culpable to a large degree, are treated differently from people who aren’t perceived to represent a threat to Paul Graham’s economic or cultural interests.

                                                                                                                            I’m not going to tell you they aren’t out to get you - I have every reason to believe PG would act like that - but the HN ban sure looks like more like regular old moderation than some kind of conspiracy.

                                                                                                                            They definitely know who I am. I have a couple sources inside Y Combinator (they’re not all bad people).

                                                                                                                            [ETA.] Oddly enough, Paul Graham isn’t as bad as he’s made out to be, and he’s been pretty much retired for close to 2 years. I wouldn’t call him a good person, but he’s not Hitler either. PG can be childish and vindictive, but the evil that YC is known for comes mostly from people under him.

                                                                                                                      2. 6

                                                                                                                        They forced Quora (which YC bought) to ban me. On Reddit, they used to attack me heavily with sock puppets and brigades. Then I started getting the death threats, including harassment from homeless on the street (presumably paid off by YCs; it is a common tactic) when I was in the Bay Area. On one occasion, those assholes tried to get me fired.

                                                                                                                        What do you think would cause a diverse group of people across a number of sites to all attack you like that? They can’t handle the truth?

                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                          It wasn’t a diverse group of people. It was a small number of people (maybe five). Y Combinator owns Quora, which explains the ban.

                                                                                                                          The death threats could have come from anywhere, and although the Reddit brigade detected last April consisted of 45-70 accounts, it’s overwhelmingly likely in my mind that it was fewer than five people, working together and possibly in the same physical space (YC headquarters).

                                                                                                                          Of course, I don’t know for sure, but I know how these people fight. It’s more likely that a small number of people are doing bad things than that there is a large conspiracy.

                                                                                                                          What motivated them? It’s not that they “can’t handle the truth”. They know the truth. What they don’t want getting out there is how much of this current “startup” bubble is outright fraudulent, not only against employees and customers, but also against the institutional investors who provide the capital.

                                                                                                                        2. 10

                                                                                                                          You’re omitting a few details. You were banned from Wikipedia for sockpuppeting, you were banned from Hacker News for calling Marissa Mayer the C-word, and you were banned from Quora for repeated sockpuppeting.

                                                                                                                          1. 10

                                                                                                                            You’re omitting a few details. [.. snip ..]

                                                                                                                            Uh.. I totally understand why you posted that, and won’t call it out for being entirely unreasonable given the way this thread (unfortunately) went. So don’t take this personally.

                                                                                                                            But as a plea for the future, could we all please not dig up dirt on our community members? I really think it is one of the saddest things one can do here. And if we really have to judge somebody, then it should be based on their contribution here on lobsters. Not elsewhere, and definitely not over ten years ago elsewhere.

                                                                                                                            There are multiple reasons for this. Through such external sources, we catch a glimpse of community drama and claims without context, with no way to verify these claims, with no way to understand the background. No way to know who’s lying and who’s saying the truth. That community might be toxic, and toxicity often breeds toxicity. I admit, I can be quite toxic on the trollfest that slashdot is. And the past is past, people can change. I no longer participate on slashdot.

                                                                                                                            Along these lines, I can ascertain that when we have a nice friendly community here, then the people here are naturally encouraged to play along and be nice regardless of how they do elsewhere. That is what matters.

                                                                                                                            But when people come in and bring personal grudges and vendettas and dig up dirt, they bring in the toxin from these other communities. It evokes negative feelings and it hurts, and when it hurts, it is easy to forget what a nice community we have here. And so the poison spreads.

                                                                                                                            1. 9

                                                                                                                              But as a plea for the future, could we all please not dig up dirt on our community members?

                                                                                                                              If you peruse this particular community member’s comments, you will note that he speaks frequently of his past interaction with various folks. It at least seems clear to me from his comments that he’s quite willing to discuss the past and his interaction with communities he’s been banned from. He may very well be telling the truth about many things (as you say, there’s no way to know), but one thing is very very clear: he omits critical details that are terribly inconvenient to his narrative. If he’s willing to talk about it, then adding additional context to what he’s saying seems absolutely fair to me.

                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                one thing is very very clear: he omits critical details that are terribly inconvenient to his narrative.

                                                                                                                                I omit details that are irrelevant, regardless of whether they are favorable or not. It’s not like I post, “I’ve received death threats from YC partners” at every opportunity, because who cares? What would I gain from that? I come here to read and talk about technology, not this sort of shit.

                                                                                                                                I don’t talk about this stuff except when asked or provoked. The record shows that you, not me, are the one who turned this thread into a personal-attack-driven shitshow. And you owe an apology to the Lobsters community for doing it.

                                                                                                                                1. 8

                                                                                                                                  And you owe an apology to the Lobsters community for doing it.

                                                                                                                                  As I said, I could have expressed myself better. I never intended for anything I said to be a personal attack, but I can absolutely see how I came across that way. For that, I apologize to you. My intent was to express how unfavorably I view your contributions to this web site. Intent doesn’t count for much, but there it is.

                                                                                                                                  In any case, I’ve learned from my mistake. This will be the last time I respond to you on this web site.

                                                                                                                              2. 9

                                                                                                                                In general I agree with you, but in this case I was responding to a comment in which Church claims he was banned from HN and Quora as part of a larger conspiracy against him (that includes YC paying the homeless to harass him). When someone makes a claim like that, I feel like I need to point out there were several clear reasons for why he was banned.

                                                                                                                                1. -2

                                                                                                                                  “Point[ing] out” things that aren’t actually true isn’t a public service. It’s annoying and, frankly, you aren’t very convincing or talented at it.

                                                                                                                              3. -4

                                                                                                                                You were banned from Wikipedia for sockpuppeting,

                                                                                                                                That user’s hate page was debunked a long time ago. Most of those accounts don’t even exist. Granted, I did some stupid shit on Wikipedia back in 2004. Just not that.

                                                                                                                                you were banned from Hacker News for calling Marissa Mayer the C-word

                                                                                                                                Not true. I used a different word, “queynte”, specifically because some people consider “cunt” to be a gender slur when applied to a woman. The best translation of “queynte” would be “ornament”, not “crude term for vagina”.

                                                                                                                                you were banned from Quora for repeated sockpuppeting.

                                                                                                                                I am aware of that being their stated reason. However, those sock puppet accounts didn’t exist.

                                                                                                                                Back when I had an active blog, Marc Bodnick posted a comment putting the blame on Paul Buchheit who demanded it. Paul Buchheit denied it. I don’t know who’s responsible for that. What I do know is that Marc Bodnick got fired a few months later, because Adam D'Angelo specifically blamed his moderation for the collapse in user engagement and comment quality.

                                                                                                                                Please find a way either to become more intelligent, or to become more graceful in apologizing for what you currently are.

                                                                                                                                1. 9

                                                                                                                                  Please find a way either to become more intelligent, or to become more graceful in apologizing for what you currently are.

                                                                                                                                  What does that mean?

                                                                                                                        3. 3

                                                                                                                          I’d agree that the number of bad comments has gone up, but I’m not sure that the S:N has gotten worse.

                                                                                                                          polite, but firm criticism/sensible answers, and didn’t end up spoiling the thread

                                                                                                                          We have quite a low quantity of BS, so it’s relatively low-effort to refute (which keeps the place nice). There’s a threshold beyond which people stop being willing to invest time doing that.

                                                                                                                          accept more users cheaply, and have stricter rules to kick them out if/when they misbehave

                                                                                                                          My only concern with this approach (which works well in genereal) is that the failure mode is collapse (when e.g. a key moderator is absent for a few months and there isn’t suitable handover).

                                                                                                                          If that were our approach, I think it would become important to recruit a larger pool of moderators to reduce this risk.

                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                            Disclaimer: I’m one of the word-criminals listed above.

                                                                                                                            I pointed out what I consider to be an obvious fact - that Common Lisp itself is not very practical, but didn’t want to go through the effort of trying to convince people of it. For example because if it’s not obvious to someone, he probably wouldn’t be amenable to convincing either.

                                                                                                                            Someone who’s never considered CL impractical but does have an open mind, might benefit from seeing the idea, in case it led to him investigating and reaching the same conclusion himself.

                                                                                                                            It seems just about every comment you linked was received with polite, but firm criticism/sensible answers, and didn’t end up spoiling the thread or the community’s view.

                                                                                                                            Yes, someone asked the reasonable question: “Why?”, and someone else provided a great answer.

                                                                                                                            All in all, which would you say caused a greater disturbance to Lobste.rs’s peace & harmony: my comment, or this thread? It could be argued that whoever started this thread is sowing discord!

                                                                                                                            The thing is, we all interpret quality content and whether an article “belongs here” in different ways. Lobste.rs itself can reasonably be found highly lacking in greatness, even if it is better than HN in some ways.

                                                                                                                          2. 8

                                                                                                                            So, to summarize those examples for people that don’t want to follow links:

                                                                                                                            1. Throwaway comment saying Clojure is more practical than Common Lisp.
                                                                                                                            2. Comment asking why news about a suicide of a non-notable person is being posted to Lobsters.
                                                                                                                            3. Comment expressing skepticism about EU competence on regulating crypto based on linked material.
                                                                                                                            4. Comment (mine) tersely pointing out misuse of math tag and panning article source.
                                                                                                                            5. Comment wondering why so many Julia Evans drawings (simple diagrams) keep showing up lately.

                                                                                                                            With the possible exception of the first comment, those all seem like reasonable comments to me and are not particularly trollish (compared with, say, this or some of yui’s stuff.

                                                                                                                            I think something worth considering is the content of articles all of those comments were in reply to: we need to all remember that a bad submission (like somebody deciding to kill themselves, or spamming pretty drawings, or public policy news) will usually breed bad comments, either asking “why is this here on lobsters?” or failing to have useful content for discussion.

                                                                                                                            In short, if you submit garbage, don’t be surprised if you attract flies.

                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                              bad submission (like somebody deciding to kill themselves, or spamming pretty drawings, or public policy news)

                                                                                                                              I wouldn’t call any of those submissions bad. News about tech industry’s culture affecting people’s mental state, public policy related to tech and other “meta” articles are relevant to lobste.rs, in my opinion. The pretty drawings in question were educational and about tech. Although I didn’t necessarily like some of those submissions, they’re still on-topic.

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                those all seem like reasonable comments to me and are not particularly trollish

                                                                                                                                IMO, not all low quality comments are trolls. I agree with the OP that comments like the ones linked are nearly content free, and I find it disappointing that they’re appearing on lobsters with increasing frequency. I don’t have any good solutions, unfortunately. Ideally, we as a group would discourage those sorts of comments from existing in the first place. Perhaps @nickpsecurity is right in that the only other choice is heavier moderation, but I don’t really like that choice either. sigh

                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                  Three of them aren’t content free though–they are meta comments on the submission. There is a place for such comments and unfortunately they are necessary if we want the community to self regulate properly.

                                                                                                                                  Perhaps the increase in bad comments you are seeing is due to an increase in bad submissions?

                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                    Im pushing two: careful who you invite to point you audit prior comments or behavior (approximates friend-to-friend model); heavier moderation if discouraging specific behaviors that persist. I think the invites arent usually handled like in the first. Many were casting a wide net.

                                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                                              It is typical, and has been for at least the decade I’ve been using Linux, to put root’s home directory in /root to mitigate precisely this issue:

                                                                                                                              $ fgrep root /etc/passwd
                                                                                                                              root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash
                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                              However, a script like that is still a bad idea that would give me the heebie-jeebies even if it had additional checks in place. It’s fairly typical for users to intentionally have unusual ownership in their home directory (especially system users, but real users as well). A better solution would have been to map UIDs and change ownership as part of the copy.

                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                root’s, yes. But there often are other users whose home directory is /. E.g., on my Linux box:

                                                                                                                                grep :/: /etc/passwd | wc -l
                                                                                                                                15
                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                (6 on FreeBSD). All of those have /.../nologin as their shells.

                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                  Indeed. I have no users with / as a home directory, but bin, proxy and sync have /bin, sys has /dev, and daemon has /usr/sbin, all of which would be highly destructive to chown.

                                                                                                                                  I assume the reason only root is sandboxed like this is that it’s assumed nobody would be foolish enough to run something like the script in the article, but you might very easily accidentally do something destructive to “your” home directory as root. After all, it’s very common to su to root, but significantly rarer to su to e.g. sys.

                                                                                                                                  (As a piece of actionable advice, before firing off a potentially destructive script like that, I like to prefix the dangerous bits with “echo” and read carefully over what it says it’s going to do. Hopefully seeing “chown -R root /” would be sufficiently eyebrow-raising to prevent any damage.)

                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                    echo the commands first for sure. I do that for anything that would take me longer than 30 seconds to un-fuck.

                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                      Same here. And if you like the output, just add | sh.

                                                                                                                              1. 13

                                                                                                                                I’m interested: does anyone else here feel this way too?

                                                                                                                                1. 20

                                                                                                                                  I do. That’s why I posted it. I even tick off the stereotypes: white, male, programming since kindergarten.

                                                                                                                                  The parts about attention to detail especially resonated with me. I thought of majoring in math where proofs can’t be shipped until they’re airtight. I ended up majoring in philosophy where I learned how to find all the holes in my own work before shipping and try to anticipate challenges before anyone else sees the argument. One thing I tend to think about along these lines is the fact that we lionize the trailblazers and creators without recognizing the value of maintaining and polishing work that has been roughed out to a functional state.

                                                                                                                                  1. 23

                                                                                                                                    I agree with her disdain for the current obsession with updating fast and pushing code without fully testing or fully thinking things through, but I don’t take it as me not belonging. I take it as the current trends are wrong, and I’m right. But that probably has to do with the fact that I’m 38 and have been coding for over 25 years, so I have a lot of confidence in my opinions being right.

                                                                                                                                    1. 14

                                                                                                                                      One of the biggest benefits of experience: being able to tell when people/industries are full of shit.

                                                                                                                                      Tech, as a whole, is broken and stupid. It’s obsessed with new things at the expense of practices. It is fad-driven to a ridiculous degree. It is infatuated with idiotic status symbols like money and power in a vain attempt at relevance. It is complicit in the spread of harmful ideologies such as misogyny.

                                                                                                                                      An alternate tech culture needs to emerge.

                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                        These were also my thoughts after reading the article. Perhaps because I’m in the same age group as you, and have a similar level of programming experience.

                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                          same here. i picked my current job in large part based on a quality-focused engineering culture; after a few years in a “ship features as fast as we can” type startup i was pretty much done with that segment of the industry.

                                                                                                                                        2. 13

                                                                                                                                          Honestly? No.

                                                                                                                                          (As an aside, this whole article kinda feels like the modern version of “everybody in a certain class of people in New York is working on a novel or a screenplay or acting”. I’ve got some friends up there and it’s a common theme, the humblebrag hustle. The breathless way the author here describes talking with her boyfriend–husband now, I’m sorry–about Ajax is kinda silly and immediately opened up a particular bucket for me.)

                                                                                                                                          (As an additional aside, Mrs. Yitbarek does have both a Github and has appeared on the Ruby Rogues podcast for a stint. She’s got actual involvement in the tech sector, but regrettably not a lot of obvious technical work demonstrating mastery or competency.)

                                                                                                                                          My main takeaways about “this way” sketched by the article are:

                                                                                                                                          • the software that is written today is only web software
                                                                                                                                          • users have some deep emotional connection with the software they use, and we must avoid that breaking that trust
                                                                                                                                          • tech industry focuses on shipping over correctness
                                                                                                                                          • users are the center of our software
                                                                                                                                          • tech industry is callous towards humans
                                                                                                                                          • this person who cares about “understanding” a problem is somehow super different from normal developers

                                                                                                                                          I don’t really agree with any of those points.

                                                                                                                                          Not only do I not agree with those points, I’m actively offended by some of them.

                                                                                                                                          Acting like the only software in tech is web software is hugely wrong. It ignores the vast quantity of boring line-of-business Java and C# and VB and MUMPS software that keeps the world spinning. It ignores the vast quantity of microcontroller code in places like microwave firmware and medical imaging units and car ECUs. There is a large and thriving world, however boring and bleak, outside of web development and especially outside of the coastal startup ratrace.

                                                                                                                                          Acting like our users are dependent on us and are vulnerable little snowflakes who will have a breakdown if they get a broken button is belittling and worse, helps us overstate our importance. Most users just find something else if the software is broken.

                                                                                                                                          Acting like best practices are completely ignored in writing new code is insulting, especially when the same author has nothing to say on large legacy systems that are difficult or even infeasible to test. It’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback when you’re fresh out of a bootcamp and think that every system needs TDD. It’s even more easy when you haven’t run into a monstrous banking COBOL blob that has 4 decades of accumulated business logic, or an embedded health IT system where it’s almost impossible to replicate the sheer crackheadedry of the production environment. Further, Mrs. Yitbarek clearly has no experience with any environment or project that does attempt to take correctness seriously, as is the case in processor design or firmware engineering or industrial automation or healthcare or avionics.

                                                                                                                                          Acting like users matter is antiquated even within her own web-tech bubble, as the current best business practices involve squeezing them for all the data they’re worth and shoving ads at them. Don’t let’s pretend differently, because that’s not how the business works. It’s shitty, but it’s how startups work.

                                                                                                                                          Acting like there is some culture unique to tech about exploiting users/customers is rubbish. What about healthcare, loans, broadcast advertising, clothing marketing, makeup salesmanship? That’s not us, that’s not programmers, that’s just how business works. I don’t mind a proper screed against modern capitalism, but don’t you dare tar us with that same brush, Mrs. Yitbarek. Don’t you dare lump developers and programming culture in with sociopathic MBA tricks.

                                                                                                                                          Lastly, I am exceptionally disappointed and annoyed at the insinuation that everybody in tech clearly just doesn’t care to understand their problem domains. I am annoyed that she implies that she is somehow special. I am furious that she would suggest that most programmers don’t try to really grok the situations leading up their problems, and pained that she doesn’t seem to recognize there are a lot of little problems that don’t bear full analysis.

                                                                                                                                          Finally, her whole tone I disagree with. Seriously, for reference:

                                                                                                                                          I do not belong. My values are not valued. My thinking is strange and foreign. My world view has no place here. It is not that I am better, it is that I am different, and my difference feels incompatible with yours, dear tech.

                                                                                                                                          She should get down off the cross and leave room for people that actually need it.

                                                                                                                                          If this essay had been written by a pimply-faced youth in his first year of college CS, we’d make fun of how edgy and self-serious it was, and point out the depths of his ignorance. Here, though, we are supposed to take her seriously? Please.

                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                            Acting like there is some culture unique to tech about exploiting users/customers is rubbish. What about healthcare, loans, broadcast advertising, clothing marketing, makeup salesmanship? That’s not us, that’s not programmers, that’s just how business works. I don’t mind a proper screed against modern capitalism, but don’t you dare tar us with that same brush, Mrs. Yitbarek. Don’t you dare lump developers and programming culture in with sociopathic MBA tricks.

                                                                                                                                            Don’t you think, though, that to some degree we’re morally culpable for that?

                                                                                                                                            If we had such a principled stand against sleazy MBA tricks, then we could have stopped it. We could have said “No” and organized or professionalized or just not worked for people like that. It is partly our fault.

                                                                                                                                            Also, there are some ways in which tech culture is worse than the regular MBA culture of our colonial masters. Misogyny is one. Say what you will about MBA-style corporate capitalism, but we dialed the sexism back up from 6.5 to 11.

                                                                                                                                            Tech culture is macho-subordinate– most techies brag about 12-hour days to support their employers' bottom line, but have no courage when they see a woman being harassed out of their company– in a way that plays well into MBAs' desires, but I don’t think that we invented it. We did. And even if we didn’t, we’re still responsible for perpetuating it, and need to stop it and fight it at every turn.

                                                                                                                                          2. 22

                                                                                                                                            I think that it’s fairly normal. The dirty secret of this industry is that 90% of the jobs are Office Space, business-driven half-assery where programmers are seen as overpaid commodity workers (hence, software management’s fetish for boot camps and abuse of the H1-B program) rather than trusted professionals.

                                                                                                                                            What seems to have changed (although, the more I talk to veterans of previous bubbles, the more I am convinced it was much this way always) is that Silicon Valley itself has ceased to be any sort of exception. The difference in the Valley seems to be a much harder place to work. If you work in the hinterlands, at least you get to work 9-to-5. In Silicon Valley, it’s more like 9-to-9 due to the glut of boot camp grads who haven’t had their hearts broken yet, and H1-Bs who can be threatened with deportation if they don’t shut up and dance. If you’re going to get the same lame work experience in either place, why not move to a stable big company somewhere with a manageable cost-of-living?

                                                                                                                                            Silicon Valley is good for one thing: raising capital. If you have the pedigree (read: born rich, socialized to be really good at high-end people-hacking) to raise VC and play the Founder game, Silicon Valley is the only place to do it. As for tech itself, the place is beset by mediocrity.

                                                                                                                                            To be honest, I think that there probably are as many interesting companies right now as there were at any other time. The difference is that there isn’t a critical mass of them. Silicon Valley used to have that critical mass; now it’s just another cluster of rich people, a few of whom were relevant and interesting 20 years ago.

                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                              It’s also a matter of pay scale. You don’t make in Tuscalusa what you’d make in CA or MA/Boston area.

                                                                                                                                              1. 10

                                                                                                                                                I think this gets overstated quite a bit. For one thing, the cost of living is astronomical in the bay area (or NYC), which must be considered when factoring salary. Also, there are plenty of other places with tech jobs - even with vibrant tech scenes, albeit on a smaller scale - where you can still make a comfortable experience-appropriate salary and work a reasonable schedule. Places where you can make a six figure salary as say a 5-year experienced web developer, work 9-5 or thereabouts, and be able to afford a house without selling a vital organ. Atlanta, Denver/Boulder area, the SLC valley, Minneapolis/St Paul, and so on. I see this justification on HN a lot, like your choices are live in SF or NYC or else make $65k/year in Tulsa, and it’s just not accurate.

                                                                                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                                                                                  In my experience, the thing that you lose by leaving a “tech hub” is the access to a strong job market, especially if you’re older and seeking management or specialist roles. There just aren’t many on the ground.

                                                                                                                                                  Adjusting for cost of living, you come out ahead by leaving the tech hubs. No question there. The problem is that if you lose your job (which happens more often, because branch offices get hit first and because out-of-hub companies are more likely to have capitalization problems) or if your team gets moved, you can get stuck having to move as well. Or you can be marooned in a job desert, because after a certain age (getting old sucks; I advise against it) the jobs you want are filled based on connections and rarely publicly posted.

                                                                                                                                                  For as much as we bloviate about being high-tech and meritocratic, the way we do business is still very local and relationship-based, and that’s going to produce agglomeration.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                                                    Totally agree. I live and work in Boston and love it. I could make more in SFBay, but then I’d have to live in SFBay, and as everyone outlined pay the cost of living penalties. Plus, I can’t drive so Boston is a better bet for me public transit wise.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                      NYC would be even better for not-driving but the cost of living (mostly just housing) is higher than Boston.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 7

                                                                                                                                                    You also don’t have to spend as much in Tuscalusa as you might in those other areas. I live in MI and probably make ½-to-¾ of what I could if I moved to SV, but considering the cost of living out there, there is no way I would uproot my family just to make a few extra bucks. I consistently find remote jobs that pay me more than enough to live where I do, and couldn’t be happier with it.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                                      That’s fantastic! I’m always a little nervous about betting the farm on remote work - it seems to come and go in waves. Glad to hear you’re doing great and can pay the mortgage that way!

                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, I surely haven’t bet the farm on remote work. I live close enough to Ann Arbor and Detroit that I can (and have before) found “IRL” work :)

                                                                                                                                                2. 6

                                                                                                                                                  Do I feel like there really are two different cultures? That the tech world all too often pretends to care more about correctness/understanding than we do? That a lot of people don’t belong here? Yes. Do I feel like I’m on the wrong side of the line? No. I often find myself arguing for a more careful approach that puts more emphasis on correctness, long-term maintainability and so on than other people seem to want to use - but fundamentally this is as a participant in a shared culture where we both agree what the success criteria are.

                                                                                                                                                  I applaud the author for actually acknowledging the reality of the culture as I experience it. But I fear the seeming criticism is misguided. I don’t think you can get the advantages of tech without the culture of solving problems, just as you can’t e.g. do good science if you’re only looking to confirm your dogma, or do safety-critical operations without incident under a strict hierarchical culture. It’s not just a tool but a way of life, just as e.g. the enlightenment was a massive cultural and social upheval, its visible fruits fundamentally entangled with and inseperable from the cultural changes. No doubt many a medieval monarch would have liked to reap the rewards without changing the social order - but such a monarch would have been entirely missing the point.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                                                    I care more about correctness than my job typically allows me to execute. That might be the difference.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                      Often I would be inclined to a higher level of correctness than my colleagues. Sometimes due to such a disagreement we end up making a release that’s riskier than I would have liked, and sometimes these risks are borne out as a higher-than-optimal rate of client-facing bugs. But that’s just a normal object-level mistake when it happens (and sometimes we go with my view and end up making a release that’s safer than it needs to be, and that’s also a mistake). We have a shared cultural understanding that correctness is a means to an end, we all know what the measure of success is (short version: money), so we don’t get the bitter disputes of people with fundamentally different values.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 4

                                                                                                                                                    Yes. There are a lot of us. You are not alone!

                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                                                      I know you asked the affirmative, but I just want to say that I do not. I think everyone who WANTS to be here belongs in tech.

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, you will have to wade through a sea of imperfection every day, no doubt, but if this career path is truly for you, you will also experience moments of unmitigated joy and utter satisfaction.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                                        I very much do. While the author was in journalism, my background is science and engineering. Engineering is a process more than anything and this agile world is pretty much the opposite. I hate it! I would also love to go back to research where things fail fast and we try lots of things, but we take pride in publishing perfection. But there’s a problem in academia and it’s the same problem in high tech: money and ethics.

                                                                                                                                                        When I was in undergrad, I was told by the professional association of engineers that software people will never get that P.eng stamp until the industry as a whole grows the fuck up.

                                                                                                                                                        Ethics in technology also haven’t matured yet and we are seeing this most prominently with Facebook. How are these engineers at Facebook considering their effects on human beings and society as a whole? Seems an afterthought where the real focus is on building cool shit and getting page views and ad revenues.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                                                                          software people will never get that P.eng stamp until the industry as a whole grows the fuck up.

                                                                                                                                                          There are those of us eagerly awaiting that day, but it is not here yet.

                                                                                                                                                          We’re too enamored with building shacks to even fathom building cathedrals, and so we shy away from anything that’d help us do that.