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    Going to try to pick up Elm again, for the purpose of writing a game. Tried last year, let’s see if it goes better this time…

    1. 3

      Just out of curiosity, any arguments to favor Elm over Reason?

      1. 2

        I like Reason, but it doesn’t enforce purity. IMO that’s the big reason to use Elm instead.

        1. 1

          Ecosystem mainly - though Reason certainly seems very interesting as well!

        2. 2

          Elm is great! I really liked the new error messages in the latest 0.18. They’re a bit overdue for an updated version though.

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          Meta discussion: what’s up with all these people advocating against Net Neutrality? Maybe I didn’t listen to too many different opinions a few years ago, but I’m fairly certain that if anyone wanted to try oppose NN, it was seeming obvious that they were a ISP shill. A few months I saw some looney Anarcho-Capitalist (ie. a radical right-wing (market) libertarian) advocate for it, which I belived to be a new low for their group, but since then I’ve been seeing more and more people popping out of seeming nowhere, trying to convince people that ISPs would still provide equal service to everyone (or “better”), even if the darn government wouldn’t make them do so (even if it weren’t profitable for them - but since when do private businesses care about that?).

          Is my perspective limited? Has this been a longer trend? If not, what is the cause for this recent shift?

          1. 7

            Some people distrust the government so much, they argue against their own interests just to “keep the government out”

            1. 4

              Your perspective is limited. An argument against “Net Neutrality” has existed for quite some time.

              [EDIT]: Source (note the blurb at the top though): https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/net-neutrality-fcc-perils-and-promise — As far as I can tell, it’s basically the same partisan argument (on both sides) that’s being repeated today. If I were a betting man, I’d say arguments against it go back even further, but I’ve spent enough time on it already.

              1. 1

                I’m not doubting that there was an argument, the very concept of people supporting Net Neutrality without even an argument would be ludicrous. All I’m asking is why lately tere have been, or at least appear to have been, more prominent.

                1. 0

                  I’d say the EFF is pretty prominent.

                  Anyway, it doesn’t seem more prominent to me than any other time this issue has come up (and it has, several times).

                  1. [Comment removed by author]

                    1. 1

                      That’s why I said

                      (note the blurb at the top though)

                      The EFF is a prominent organization. In 2009, they voiced a stance against “Net Neutrality.” You asked if your perspective was off. This is evidence, IMO, that it is. Feel free to dismiss it, but this niggling argument is just pointless.

              2. 2

                I don’t argue against it, but I do think many of the hypothetical scenarios people come up with are far fetched and not representative of why ISPs are opposing net neutrality (and those falsely constructed hypothetical doomsday scenarios are why so many people care in the first place).

                NN is definitely better for the consumer, but if we don’t have it, we won’t lose our first amendment rights or have to pay extra for full speed access to lobste.rs. Realistically, the change will not be very drastic at all.

                1. 2

                  Realistically, the change will not be very drastic at all.

                  This is a strangely confident assertion to make in the current political climate.

                  1. 2

                    I’m very confident about the goals behind corporate lobbying: create a friendly regulatory environment, then push profits right up to the line, but not so far as to create a public/regulatory backlash (because that ruins profits, temporarily).

                    It’s a game, and as long as they’re playing it, they’re not going to piss you off squabbling over kilo/mega/giga-bytes when the money is in video streaming (exa/zetta-bytes). Case in point: you really can’t hit Comcast’s data cap without streaming HD video – that’s on purpose.

                    1. 2

                      They’ve made crazy-high profits for decades using monopolistic tactics with poor service, high costs, and so on. Any public anger at their tactics had to be balanced against drawbacks of not having telecom service at all. So, they tolerated it for lack of other options. The telecoms reinforced that with consolidation that kept things bad until government action forced competition and/or speed increases.

                      With all evidence to contrary, I don’t know how you are talking like they’ll stop pushing profits at point where it creates backlash. The backlash alone won’t do anything given the public doesnt choose the FCC heads: politicians paid off by telecoms do. So, they keep trying to cause more profitable problems for consumers because executive incentives, barrier for competitors, lobbying, and weak regulations all let them do it.

                      And yes, they did piss me off with the caps that my non-HD, 2-person household ran through in a month on top of probably-intentionally, shitty meters that said I was using gigabytes of data when stuff was powered off. A strong backlash combined with a consumer-friendly regulator made them back off… not with admissions of wrongdoing… to simply raise the cap. The cap that they invented out of thin air to begin with. If new regulator changes things, they might try that stuff again or something worse like their plan to sell our info.

              1. 4

                It’s confusing to me that the Haskell community would be resistant to the pipe operator since it’s IMO it’s been pretty successful in Elixir, Elm, F#, and OCaml. Maybe symptomatic of something unhealthy about the Haskell community in general.

                1. 1

                  Yeah it’s great and haskell often forgets people like to program to do things.

                  1. 2

                    Avoid success at all cost taken a lil’ too far.

                  2. 1

                    The Haskell community is prone to err on the side of centralization to avoid fragmentation (unlike Lisps that are scattered into incompatible ecosystems, making writing anything practical much more of a chore than it should be) and has deep and ideological aversion to duct tape instead of proper fix. In this case: Flow functions are slightly more intuitive and IDE-friendly, but they do not address Haskell legacy usability problems in depth (a library is not a proper place for fixing the language), thus the community is very reluctant to use this.

                    I don’t see anything unhealthy about this, it is a conscious and rational choice (that has its downsides, yes).

                  1. [Comment removed by author]

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                      You’re saying that ST was great 4-5 years ago, but apart from the langserver, which one of your points didn’t apply back then as much as it does now? You say that “today there are better editors”, but surely vim is much older than 4-5 years and basically didn’t change.

                      1. [Comment removed by author]

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                          The primary reason I stick with Sublime Text is that Atom and VSCode have unacceptably worse performance for very mundane editing tasks.

                          I’ve tried to switch to both vim and Spacemacs (I’d love to use an open source editor), but it’s non-trivial to configure them to replicate functionality that I’ve become attached to in Sublime.

                          1. 1

                            I thought VSCode was supposed to be very quick. Haven’t experimented with it much myself, what mundane editing tasks make it grind to a halt? I am well aware Atom has performance issues.

                            1. 1

                              Neither Atom nor VSCode grind to a halt for me, but I can just tell the difference in how quicky text renders and how quickly input is handled.

                              I’m not usually one of those people who obsesses about app performance, but editors are an exception because I spend large chunks of my life using them.

                            2. 1

                              I’ve tried to switch to both vim and Spacemacs (I’d love to use an open source editor), but it’s non-trivial to configure them to replicate functionality that I’ve become attached to in Sublime

                              This is the reason who I stay with vim, unable to replicate vim functionality in other editors.

                              1. 1

                                Yeah, fortunately NeoVintageous for Sublime does everything I need for vim-style movement and editing.

                        2. 3

                          I think the really ground-breaking feature that ST introduced was multi-cursor editing. Now most editors have some version of that. Once you get used to it, it’s very convenient, and the cognitive overhead is low.

                          As for the mini-map, I suppose it’s a matter of taste, but I found it very helpful for scanning quickly through big files looking for structure. Visual pattern recognition is something human brains are ‘effortlessly’ good at, so why not put it to use? Of course, I was using bright syntax hilighting, which makes code patterns much more visible in miniature. Less benefit for the hilight-averse.

                          I’ve been using ST3 beta for a few years as my primary editor. I tried using Atom and (more recently) VS Code, but didn’t like them as much: the performance gap was quite noticeable at start-up and for oversized data files. The plug-in ecosystems might make the difference for some folks, but all I really used was git-gutter and some pretty standard linters. For spare-time fun projects I still enjoy Light Table, but it’s more of a novelty. I’m gradually moving away from the Mac and want a light-weight open-source editor that will run on any OS.

                          So now, as part of my effort to simplify and get better at unix tools, I’m using vis. I’m enjoying the climb up the learning curve, but I think that if I stick with it long enough, I’ll probably end up writing a mouse-mode plugin. And maybe git-gutter. Interactive structural regexps and multi-cursor editing seem like a winning combination, though.

                          1. 3

                            You might enjoy exploring kakoune as well. http://kakoune.org | https://github.com/mawww/kakoune

                            1. 2

                              I’m an Emacs guy myself and I honestly think that multi-cursor editing is just eye-candy for good ol’ editor macros, and both both vim and Emacs include them since… forever?

                              1. 3

                                I’ve never used Sublime Text, but I’ve used multiple-cursors in vis and Kakoune, and it beats the heck out of Vim’s macro feature, just because of the interactivity.

                                With Vim, I’d record a macro and bang on the “replay” button a bunch of times only to find that in three of seventeen cases it did the wrong thing and made a mess, so I’d have to undo and (blindly) try again, or go back and fix those three cases manually.

                                With multiple cursors, I can do the first few setup steps, then bang on the “cycle through cursors” button to check everything’s in sync. If there’s any outliers, I can find them before I make changes and keep them in mind as I edit, instead of having my compiler (or whatever) spit out syntax errors afterward.

                                Also, multiple cursors are the most natural user interface for [url=http://doc.cat-v.org/bell_labs/structural_regexps/]structural regular expressions[/url], and being able to slice-and-dice a CSV (or any non-recursive syntax) by defining regexes for fields and delimiters is incredibly powerful.

                                1. 0

                                  [url=http://doc.cat-v.org/bell_labs/structural_regexps/]structural regular expressions[/url]

                                  This might be the first attempt at BBCode I’ve seen on Lobsters. Thanks for reminding me how much I hate it.

                                  1. 1

                                    Dangit, you can tell I wrote that reply at like 11PM, can’t you. :(

                                2. 1

                                  I agree with you. I use Vim, and was thinking about switching until I realized that a search and repeat (or a macro when it’s more complex) works just as well. Multiple cursors is a cute trick, but never seemed as useful as it first appeared.

                                3. 2

                                  I thought multiple cursors was awesome. Then I switched to using Emacs, thanks to Spacemacs. Which introduced to me [0] iedit. I think this is superior to multiple cursors. I am slowly learning Emacs through Spacemacs, I’m still far away from being any type of guru.

                                  [0] https://github.com/syl20bnr/spacemacs/blob/master/doc/DOCUMENTATION.org#replacing-text-with-iedit

                                4. 2

                                  I’ve started using vim for work, and although I’ve become quite fast, I find myself missing ST’s multiple cursors.

                                  I might try switching to a hackable editor like Yi. I’ve really enjoyed using xmonad recently for that reason.

                                  1. 1

                                    Not the threat model this functionality is addressing.

                                    1. 2

                                      What does it address though? I mean seriously, do you really think you can resist in really dangerous situations?

                                      1. 1

                                        It’s protecting you against the police, who operate under a legal framework which prevents them from beating you with a rubber hose but not from obtaining your fingerprints.

                                        1. 2

                                          I am too cynic to comment on that. I just wish the world was this easy.

                                          1. 1

                                            I left the caveat out for the sake of brevity, but like I said the threat model this functionality is addressing is not one where the attacker can utilize any means necessary. Is there any practical system which can address that scenario?

                                      2. 1

                                        This brings up a good point though, is it true that, let’s say TSA agents, can force you to unlock your phone with your fingerprint but not with a passcode? Honest question.

                                        1. 3

                                          I don’t know about TSA, but it’s true that cops can.

                                          As far as I know, fingerprints aren’t protected under the fifth amendment but passwords are: http://mashable.com/2014/10/30/cops-can-force-you-to-unlock-phone-with-fingerprint-ruling/#g3MF5oyDTOqN

                                    1. 11

                                      It was inevitable.

                                      If only it made him complete a quest with a random character in adventure mode before continuing to update his system. :D

                                      This is one good reason why I always use full, explicit paths in my scripts.

                                      1. 12

                                        This is one good reason why I always use full, explicit paths in my scripts.

                                        but then they are not portable

                                        1. 8
                                          qbit@slip[0]:~λ which bash
                                          /usr/local/bin/bash
                                          qbit@slip[0]:~λ
                                          
                                          1. -2

                                            Just always use /bin/bash and don’t care about distros/BSDs that don’t care enough about their users to place bash there. Problem solved for 99% of users. ;)

                                            1. 10

                                              or you know, ignore developers that don’t care about their downstream packagers and users to learn about /usr/bin/env? Problem solved for 99% of users caring about cross platform software.

                                              1. 3

                                                Not all distros may have env in /usr/bin, so not necessarily an improvement over the extremely common /bin/bash. Then there’s the problem of what /usr/bin/env df might return…

                                                1. 12

                                                  On NixOS, env is the only thing in /usr/bin, so that’s at least one distro that developers can avoid breaking by using it.

                                                  1. 7

                                                    IME, globally /usr/bin/env is more likely to exist than /bin/bash. The person who has this dwarf fortress issue seems to have done foolish things to get df to be dwarf fortress so I don’t think this situation is a valid motivator for something that is closer to being a standard (/usr/bin/env) than something that’s not (/bin/bash).

                                                    1. 1

                                                      As long as neither /bin/bash nor /usr/bin/env are standards, there can be issues. In addition to this, there is no agreed upon registry for reservation of the names of the executables.

                                            2. 1

                                              Keep in mind, for this to happen, the user probably changed the system default PATH to put Dwarf Fortress first. sudo usually scrubs the environment to default settings unless you’ve taken steps.

                                              1. 10

                                                Read the comments on the answer. He dropped a symlink into /usr/local/bin to make the command available to him. /usr/local/bin/df ?

                                                1. 1

                                                  I don’t get this. Did he override the linux df in /usr/local/bin?

                                                  1. 1

                                                    The original df is in /bin. He placed another df to /usr/local/bin. The default PATH on Ubuntu has /usr/local/bin before /bin, so his df gots executed instead of the system one.

                                                  2. 1

                                                    Why would they use df? Did they not know of the other df? Or did they just not care? I don’t care if someone else set the PATH variable and it isn’t your fault, at best it is confusing, at worst someone messes up an install/copy/backup script, with potential to hose their system.

                                                    1. 3

                                                      Not all the world is Unix. I can’t confirm with cursory searches, but given the character set choice (CP437) I strongly suspect that Windows was the original platform.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        It was

                                              1. 3

                                                To a great extent this does exist. Sandboxing has helped prevent these types of attacks for many years now. That’s how iOS works on Apple products. A rouge ransomware app couldn’t encrypt the whole phone because it can’t reach the whole phone. The better question is why haven’t desktop operating systems, specifically Windows, caught up yet?

                                                1. 2

                                                  Windows Store apps are already sandboxed and have been from the start, but that store has not become a broadly appealing distribution platform for lots of different reasons.

                                                  It’s the same situation with macOS and the Mac App Store, but Apple has done a somewhat better job at getting people on board with their store.

                                                  This is one of the many reasons more people are using tablets and phones as their primary computing devices. The compatibility and UX legacy on the desktop is a goddamn mess.

                                                1. 17

                                                  This fucks bisect, defeating one of the biggest reasons version control provides value.

                                                  Furthermore, there are tools to easily take both approaches simultaneously. Just git merge —squash before you push, and all your work in progress diffs get smushed together into one final diff. And, for example, Phabricator even pulls down the revision (pull request equivalent) description, list of reviewers, tasks, etc, and uses that to create a squash commit of your current branch when you run arc land.

                                                  1. 7

                                                    I’m surprised to hear so many people mention bisect. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to use git bisect and svn bisect before that, and I don’t think it actually helped me even once. Usually I run into the following problems:

                                                    • there is state that is essential to exercising the test case I’m interested in which isn’t in source control (e.g. configuration files, databases, external services) and the shape of the data in these places needs to change to exercise different versions of the code
                                                    • the test case passes/fails at different points in the git history for reasons unrelated to the problem that I’m investigating

                                                    I love the idea of git bisect but in practice it’s never been worth it for me.

                                                    1. 14

                                                      Your second bullet point suggests to me bisect isn’t useful to you in part because you’re not taking good enough care of your history and have broken points in it.

                                                      I bisect things several times a month, and it routinely saves me hours when I do. By not keeping history clean as others have talked about, you ensure bisect is useless even for those developers who do find it useful. :(

                                                      1. 6

                                                        Right: meaningful commit messages are important but a passing build for each commit is essential. A VCS has pretty limited value without that practice.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          It does help that your commits be at clean points but isn’t really necessary - you don’t need to run your entire test suite. I usually will either bisect with a single spec or isolate the issue to a script that I can run against bisect. And as mentioned in other places you can just bisect manually.

                                                      2. 6

                                                        You can run bisect in an entirely manual mode where git checks out the revision for you to tinker with and before marking the commit as good or bad.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          There are places where it’s not so great, and there are places where it’s a life-saving tool. I work (okay, peripherally… mostly I watch people work) on the Perl 5 core. Language runtime, right? And compatibility is taken pretty seriously. We try not to break anyone’s running code unless we have a compelling reason for it and preferably they’ve been given two years' warning. Even if that code was written in 1994. And broken stuff is supposed to stay on branches, not go into master (which is actually named “blead”, but that’s another story. I think we might have been the ones who convinced github to allow a different default branch because having it fail to find “master” was kind of embarrassing).

                                                          So we have a pretty ideal situation, and it’s not surprising that there’s a good amount of tooling built up around it. If you see that some third-party module has started failing its test suite with the latest release, there’s a script that will build perl, install a given module and all of its dependencies, run all of their tests along the way, find a stable release where all of that did work, then bisect between there and HEAD to determine exactly what merge made it started failing. If you have a snippet of code and you want to see where it changed behavior, use bisect.pl -e. If you have a testcase that causes weird memory corruption, use bisect.pl --valgrind and it will tell you the first commit where perl, run with your sample code, causes valgrind to complain bitterly. I won’t say it works every time, but… maybe ¾ of the time? Enough to be very worth it.

                                                        2. 0

                                                          This fucks bisect, defeating one of the biggest reasons version control provides value.

                                                          No it doesn’t. Bisect doesn’t care what the commit message is. It does care that your commit works, but I don’t think the article is actually advocating checking in broken code (despite the title) - rather it’s advocating committing without regard to commit messages.

                                                          Just git merge —squash before you push, and all your work in progress diffs get smushed together into one final diff.

                                                          This, on the other hand, fucks bisect.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            Do you know how bisect works? You are binary searching through your commit history, usually to find the exact commit that introduced a bug. The article advocates using a bunch of work in progress commits—very few of which will actually work because they’re work in progress—and then landing them all on the master branch. How exactly are you supposed to binary search through a ton of broken WIP commits to find a bug? 90% of your commits “have bugs” because they never worked to begin with, otherwise they wouldn’t be work in progress!

                                                            Squashing WIP commits when you land makes sure every commit on master is an atomic operation changing the code from one working state to another. Then when you bisect, you can actually find a test failure or other issue. Without squashing you’ll end up with a compilation failure or something from some jack off’s WIP commit. At least if you follow the author’s advice, that commit will say “fuck” or something equally useless, and whoever is bisecting can know to fire you and hire someone who knows what version control does.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              Do you know how bisect works?

                                                              Does condescension help you feel better about yourself?

                                                              The article advocates using a bunch of work in progress commits—very few of which will actually work because they’re work in progress—and then landing them all on the master branch. How exactly are you supposed to binary search through a ton of broken WIP commits to find a bug? 90% of your commits “have bugs” because they never worked to begin with, otherwise they wouldn’t be work in progress!

                                                              I don’t read it that way. The article mainly advocates not worrying about commit messages, and also being willing to commit “experiments” that don’t pan out, particularly in the context of frontend design changes. That’s not the same as “not working” in the sense of e.g. not compiling.

                                                              It’s important that most commits be “working enough” that they won’t interfere with tracking down an orthogonal issue (which is what bisect is mostly for). In a compiled language that probably means they need to compile to a certain extent (perhaps with some workflow adjustments e.g. building with -fdefer-type-errors in your bisect script), but it doesn’t mean every test has to pass (you’ll presumably have a specific test in your bisect script, there’s no value in running all the tests every time).

                                                              Squashing WIP commits when you land makes sure every commit on master is an atomic operation changing the code from one working state to another.

                                                              Sure, but it also makes those changes much bigger. If your bisect ends up pointing to a 100-line diff then that’s not very helpful because you’ve still got to manually hunt through those changes to find the one that made the actual difference - at that point you’re not getting much benefit from having version control at all.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Not a fantastic interview, but Herzog is someone worth listening to.

                                                          1. 2

                                                            Such a comment is even better if it includes links proving he’s worth listening to. Got any for readers here?

                                                            1. 6

                                                              As far as proving he’s worth listening to, I would start with his body of work before reading an interview.

                                                              If you have a way of watching 3D movies, I’d recommend Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Watching that film is the most moving experience I’ve had in VR by far. Otherwise, some of the films he’s known for are Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                I would say listen to the science friday interview last year. He has some very good insights into humanity.

                                                                http://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/seeking-humanity-in-volcanoes-with-werner-herzog/

                                                                I would have to back up xtian here and say his body of work stands on its own. Its hard to prove anyone is “worth listening to”. All I can say is he has some very valid and interesting viewpoints that most technological people might not want to confront. Think Black Mirror perhaps, only not as dystopian.

                                                                Perhaps this interview will suffice as proof: https://www.wired.com/2016/07/warner-herzog-lo-and-behold/

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  Although not entirely serious, I love his appearance in Rick and Morty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw1cdRew-Zg

                                                              1. 13

                                                                I rail against this frequently.

                                                                In the interest of fostering discussion^W^Wcomplaining with an audience (but maybe some discussion will result!), here are a few trends, not mentioned in the article, that are profoundly user-unfriendly and which I would very much like to see die:


                                                                Interface mutability. My partner uses an iPhone. She was not happy to start using her iPhone, because she had to take time to learn how to use it that she could have spent doing literally anything else, most of which she would have found more productive. (The jump from a landline touch-tone phone to a clamshell cell phone is like climbing a curb compared to the Everest of figuring out a smartphone interface.) But okay, now she’s figured out how to use it, all is well, right? Well, obviously not, because I’m here complaining about it. Some years later, Apple pushed iOS 7 to her phone, and it rearranges, redesigns and shuffles everything. Now she has to relearn how to use her phone to no discernible benefit, because Apple decided the previous interface was insufficiently shiny and/or confusing. What the fuck. How many millions or billions of dollars of damage did Apple due to the world’s economy with that change? Because I got to experience secondhand at least a few hours of wasted time and frustration due to it.

                                                                And of course, it doesn’t end there: she recently had to update her laptop (from OS X Lion to Sierra) because, as a medical professional, operating systems without security support obviously won’t fly. And so now she has to relearn how to use her computer. While the learning curve for new Mac OS versions is shallower than the iOS <7→7 curve, Sierra performs terribly on her (nominally supported) laptop. I’m hoping upgrade to an SSD will resolve that for at least a few more years, but if not (or eventually regardless), she’ll have to buy a new laptop not because she needs new features or the old one is wearing out but essentially because Apple mandated it. Great.

                                                                While my computer interface (bash, wmii/i3, vim) has been essentially stable for the better part of a decade, the barriers to entry to such an interface are formidable indeed, and the capabilities aren’t sufficient for everyone; my partner, for instance, needs to run proprietary medical record programs, which provide only Windows and Mac OS versions.

                                                                (I don’t mean to single Apple out here, by the way; it’s just the example I’ve most recently had significant exposure to. Nearly every interface vendor is guilty. I go to some lengths to insulate myself from popular computing for precisely these sorts of reasons.)


                                                                Inconsistency. The article touches on this in the realm of the web (“is this a button? A link? A static label?”), but it’s a cancer that has spread to native interfaces, as well. Is a given element a button? A link? A static label? Who the hell knows? I can’t figure out without clicking on it, and who knows what happens when I do that. The webapp-ification of native interfaces is partly to blame here (way back when the web was actually a web of static pages linked by hypertext, there was a good reason to present web content differently from application interface; now, unfortunately, those conventions have leaked between environments) but I seem to recall once upon a time major interface vendors published HIGs that were either enforced or at least broadly adhered to (and offenders like Winamp were rare and the butt of frequent jokes). That seems to have fallen by the wayside. Google and Apple seem to be trying to bring it back in the mobile interfaces, but they’re doing a bad job of enforcement (even though they’ve given themselves the technical ability to do so!) and their mobile HIGs are bad anyway.


                                                                System fragility. You know how many people are terrified of changing their system’s settings? We taught them to feel this way by, in the 90s, presenting them with a multitude of knobs that could destroy their system, requiring them to shell out money to a probably-insufferable technician who would almost certainly make fun of them behind their backs to unfuck things and then quite possibly shell out more money or time to recreate work they lost. Well now we’re well into the 2010s, we’ve learned our lesson, and systems are resilient, present informative warnings at an appropriate frequency and generally enable fearless user operation! Lol, no, of course not. Systems are less likely to fuck themselves now, but regular users are still justifiably afraid of them because they’re still unjustifiably likely to present dangerous options with only jargon to warn you off.

                                                                Now, back in the 90s, some of that fragility was just because consumer-level computers weren’t a mature product yet. They had to expose some of the rougher edges of the underlying hardware interfaces, because there wasn’t enough headroom to paper over them effectively. (Not all of them, of course. In no universe should it take me two clicks to erase a disk.) But there’s really no remaining excuse now.

                                                                1. 8

                                                                  On HIGs: While Macs have had good consistency even from third parties for a long time, on Windows its been a total mess of nothing looking and feeling consistent. The last push for HIG consistency was with Windows 95; UWP might improve this though. At least the X11 desktops are consistent with themselves. (I try to make apps that are good citizens on Windows.)

                                                                  On browsers: Please take me back to the days of static pages, when browsers were document viewers, not app runtimes.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    Adherence to the macOS HIG has eroded noticeably in recent years, even in first-party apps. I agree it’s nowhere near as much of a mess as Windows, but I don’t use it as a point of comparison anymore.

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Apple seems to be getting less interested in pushing (or even enabling) third parties to conform to any kind of consistent HIG as well. One of the traditional strengths of the Mac platform for developers was its thorough and consistent documentation, which explained what everything did, why it did it, how pieces fit together, and generally what the Right Way To Do Things was. Now the documentation is all over the map and my recent experience with it has not been very good. Large parts look like basically auto-generated Doxygen style stuff giving you bare-bones class documentation and not much else.

                                                                  2. 4

                                                                    Interface mutability.

                                                                    Without any change, there is no progress. I am also amazed at some people I have encountered who actually seemed to simply refuse to learn anything new.

                                                                    That said, change for changes sake (novelty chasing) is indeed a serious problem in the industry. I wholeheartedly agree.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      Maybe a different type of progress?

                                                                      I think it was The Ultimate C64 Talk where the speaker made the point that hardware moves so fast nowadays, people don’t explore its limits (paraphrased from memory).

                                                                      There’s often a kind of CADT-style impatience among people, which leads to exasperated comments from my fiancé like “They made Spotify shit again”. I don’t use Spotify, so I’m not sure, but I’ve understood that after the shock of change (“now it’s shit!”) there’s often a meh (“it didn’t get better or worse, just different.”).

                                                                      So how can the end users know if a change was in any way objectively better when things move faster (and break) than we can explore the limits?

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        When I have a useful thing, I don’t want it to progress; I want it to keep being the same useful thing.

                                                                        1. 0

                                                                          So you still have a flip phone and a horse?

                                                                          1. 8

                                                                            I find comments like this one frustrating. Some people bloody well do still have flip phones and horses, because they want to and that’s actually just fine. Those things don’t work less well than they used to, and if the owner is happy with it and it isn’t dangerous, I can’t imagine why they should change to something else.

                                                                            The difference with software updates in newer products like iPhones is that you often need to take the update, or your necessarily connected device will be rife with security holes. But the major updates often screw around with where the buttons are, or how things work. There isn’t really a (safe) choice to just keep the horse or the old flip phone, because in a very real sense they don’t build things that way anymore.

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                                                                              Until a few months ago I had a near-invincible candybar phone. Why not a smart phone?

                                                                              • I wanted good battery life. Months later, forgotten in a drawer, the little beasty still runs its daily alarm clock.
                                                                              • I wanted durability. Even with a nice Otterbox on my new phone, that little candybar survived thirty-foot bouncedrops from my cycling commute on hard roads.
                                                                              • I wanted to text without looking. The little keypad gave great tactile feedback, so I could text without breaking eyecontact or appearing to do anything other than have my hands in my pockets.
                                                                              • I wanted good call quality. Most voice calls were comfortable and good.

                                                                              Sometimes old tech that correctly solves the problem domain simply and reliably is preferable to some damn fool new fancy solution. That’s why the AK family and the Mauser action have been around as long as they have, why Usenet and IRC is still in widespread use after over 20 years, and so forth.

                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                Pull someone from 1967 to today (that’s a leap of 50 years). They know how to drive, they can still drive a 2017 car without much problem since that interface hasn’t changed much. The car radio however? That will take some time (along with the climate controls).

                                                                                Another thing—from time to time I’ll find some neat feature on Google Maps. At one time, you could select multiple towns and it would highlight each town in light red. I used that feature. Then they removed it. Then they added it back, but you can only do one town at a time. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to learn new features for the fear that they’ll be arbitrarily removed because their constant A/B testing shown that not many people use it, or were confused by it, or they just felt like they didn’t want to support it any more.

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                                                                          I’ve never used Erlang. How long does it take to recover from a crash, and e.g. start a new thread? I’m guessing this is cheap?

                                                                          I ask because Node’s adopted the official “let it crash” line, but restarting a process took up to a minute when I was running it in production.

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                                                                            It is much cheaper than spawning an OS thread but more expensive than just calling a function.

                                                                            1. 4

                                                                              Erlang process spawning is, iirc, less than a thousand machine cycles in modern hardware.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                That’s a shame. It used to be a goal of the Node project to hold startup time to 30ms.

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                                                                                I think we’ll see more aggressive ads. In fact I think this has already happened. I remember ads getting noticeably worse (more Flash animation in particular) at the point when Mozilla started shipping a pop-up-blocker by default, and I don’t think it’s coincidence.

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                                                                                  I don’t think they are going to be more aggressive, but the opposite. Ads are going to get sneakier, show up in the middle of content as though it was content. Its happening already in the form of paid content, endorsed content, what ever else they want to call it. So instead of aggressive light boxes and pop up windows with three or four timed ads that you can’t skip over, we’re going to looking at content that is actually just one long advertisement. The lines between content and ads will almost disappear entirely.

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                                                                                    The question of more subtle vs more aggressive is a false dichotomy. The ad industry is already pursuing both strategies. If you disable your ad blocker I think it’s clear that ads have gotten more aggressive and overall inventory has increased. At the same time I think the usefulness of Google for finding information is at an all-time low. Some topics are alright, but an increasing number of queries just return fluff, advertorials, and sponsored content.

                                                                                    I don’t see any possibility for these drain-circling processes to be interrupted. I think both strategies will become increasingly pernicious along with more comprehensive tracking/profiling and a stronger push towards mobile apps.

                                                                                    My hope is that we’ll see a commensurate increase in willingness to pay for content and services that aren’t covered in garbage. I think we see that to some extent already, the question is how broadly it will spread.

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                                                                                      My guess is that there are limits on how far advertising can push the paid-content model. Beyond everything else, web pages (and sites) need to attract attention. A lot of paid content that serves advertisers is not likely to be all that compelling, so it simply won’t draw all that many pageviews compared to more interesting content.

                                                                                      Sites can mix compelling organic content with paid advertising content to some degree, but I think that most sites will wind up with HTML (and Javascript) where the adblockers can strip the paid advertising content out. They won’t be able to on big sites that do custom integration of advertising and content inside their CMS backend, but a lot of sites aren’t going to be able to go that far.

                                                                                      (My understanding is that modern ad networks work in large part by integrating the core page content and the added advertising in the browser itself, through mechanisms like Javascript, embedded iframes, and images loaded from outside domains. Doing the integration in the browser requires markers in the HTML and so on, which adblockers can see and act on. If you integrate ads into the HTML in your backend you don’t need these giveaway markers, but you have to have a backend that can talk to ad networks, pull in the ads, stuff them into your HTML, etc etc. Big sites can afford to put together such backends and have enough pageviews to get ad networks to talk to them this way; smaller sites are probably likely to lack both the resources and the influence, so will be left with the ‘add this to your HTML’ approach to serving ads.)

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                                                                                        I think you’re right about the need to attract and hold attention. It seems like a site needs to maintain a very high volume of real content in order to make the paid stuff tolerable. I disagree about the technical limitation, though. You could probably cover most of those smaller sites with a WordPress plugin (WordPress supposedly powers 25% of the Internet).

                                                                                        The main limitation is economic. A paid post is much more expensive to produce than a banner ad and whereas a banner ad can be targeted at broad categories of sites and users, a paid post has to more or less fit within the narrow topic of the site that hosts it.

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                                                                                          When you say “25% of the Internet” you need to be more precise because that is too vague a phrase to be meaningful. It could be 25% of: 1) bandwidth 2) unique domains 3) page views 4) time spent …

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                                                                                            https://w3techs.com/blog/entry/wordpress-powers-25-percent-of-all-websites

                                                                                            We do count both the self-hosted, open source version of WordPress which can be downloaded at WordPress.org, and we also count WordPress sites hosted at WordPress.com or elsewhere. However, we count the hosted sites only if they are reachable via their own domain (not only as subdomain of wordpress.com), and they must qualify like all other sites in our surveys by getting enough visitors on that separate domain to make it into the top 10 million Alexa sites. As a result, the vast majority of the millions of blogs at WordPress.com are not counted. Only 1.25% of the WordPress sites in our surveys are hosted by Automattic at WordPress.com.

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                                                                                              Looks like they are counting unique domains, which means 25% isn’t as impressive as it sounds because the overwhelming majority of those get very little traffic.

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                                                                                                Right, but I was specifically commenting on the technical viability of back-end integration with a large number of small sites.

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                                                                                    This ID is then used to deliver targeted ads and track users across the web.

                                                                                    This is wrong.

                                                                                    Most advertisers don’t target ads on desktop using anything other than plain old HTTP cookies. There are lots of reasons for this, but they largely boil down to (a) they don’t have to, and (b) they don’t want to invade your privacy either.

                                                                                    The reason an advertiser wants to collect this is so that they can pay more money for advertising, which allows publishers to make money with quality content that keeps users coming back.

                                                                                    Meanwhile, a publisher who has a large number (99%) of Windows 7 machines that all have Arial Nova is probably running fraud.

                                                                                    Ad fraud pushes the price of advertising down, which doesn’t hurt ad networks like Google, or even the biggest online advertisers, but it does hurt publishers. It means that a website owner either has to change their content to appeal to a wider audience (more traffic), or they need more ads.

                                                                                    I wonder how many people advocate this kind of privacy-focused browsing in exchange for more fake news and lower quality content with their eyes wide open?

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                                                                                      Most advertisers don’t target ads on desktop using anything other than plain old HTTP cookies.

                                                                                      I don’t doubt this but do you know where one could find statistics about this? I wonder what portion of advertisers is this true about. To what degree is this true for mobile as well? Is fingerprinting a growing trend? Also, personally I’m happy to see advertisers that use fingerprinting thwarted, even if they are a minority.

                                                                                      In any case there is virtually no way for consumers to audit their data footprint apart from preventing the collection of the data in the first place. Additionally, if data is collected, but not used for targeting today, it still has the potential for being used for targeting tomorrow, or else being resold and shared by a company who does targeting. I’m not sure how it makes sense for someone concerned about their data to give faceless companies the benefit of the doubt, advertising companies in particular.

                                                                                      The promise of getting better content by indirectly paying publishers with my publishing data is unconvincing to me personally. In general, I find that the degree to which a site derives its revenue from advertising is inversely proportional to its quality.

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                                                                                        I don’t doubt this but do you know where one could find statistics about this? I wonder what portion of advertisers is this true about.

                                                                                        It’s almost 100%. It’s certainly 100% of any big (national) advertiser. Every ad exchange I’m aware of requires the advertiser fill out a questionnaire that says they won’t use things like E-Tag, or evercookies and flash cookies, and so on. Google use this language: Flash cookies and other locally shared object (LSO) technologies are not allowed on Ad Exchange.

                                                                                        To what degree is this true for mobile as well?

                                                                                        It’s almost zero. Mobile RTB uses IP address and user agent – which works because mobile apps set the user agent to include the app name. Google and Facebook will sync this data on their platforms to enable cross-device targeting, but it’s still not very sophisticated.

                                                                                        Is fingerprinting a growing trend?

                                                                                        Not for ad targeting. Yes for ad fraud.

                                                                                        Big advertisers can measure the effectiveness of a sophisticated marketing campaign over the course of 6-12 months, and ad fraud is one of the biggest predictors of voidage, so it follows that fingerprinting is valuable insofar as it can detect ad fraud.

                                                                                        Also, personally I’m happy to see advertisers that use fingerprinting thwarted, even if they are a minority.

                                                                                        Even though it means more fake news and lower quality content?

                                                                                        Forget whether you think it’s likely for a moment, because if you’re willing to trade that – then it’s irrelevant, but if not, then see below.

                                                                                        In any case there is virtually no way for consumers to audit their data footprint apart from preventing the collection of the data in the first place.

                                                                                        That’s not true. Every data provider makes it possible to get this information, sometimes in a very friendly format. For example, here’s BlueKai’s information about you.

                                                                                        I think advertisers would be happy to put this information wherever you want, but it’s proven very difficult to have a productive conversation with privacy advocates. They seem more interested in short-term gains rather than discussing the long-term effects of their positions.

                                                                                        The promise of getting better content by indirectly paying publishers with my publishing data is unconvincing to me personally. In general, I find that the degree to which a site derives its revenue from advertising is inversely proportional to its quality.

                                                                                        Right now, ESPN can get $5-9 per thousand users per ad if they sell demographic data, or $1-2 without. These numbers are typical, and but a small site can’t command these prices directly since the sale of this traffic is logistically difficult. If we make it easier, it should be evident that smaller sites will be able to 5-10x their revenue, but the problem is: how do we make it easier for them, without making it easier for ad fraud?

                                                                                        Fingerprinting can help tremendously, because it gives us a way to ask what is (technologically) normal. If we defeat it, how exactly are we supposed to valuate this traffic?

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                                                                                          Thanks for responding.

                                                                                          Google use this language: Flash cookies and other locally shared object (LSO) technologies are not allowed on Ad Exchange.

                                                                                          Wait, I was asking about fingerprinting. I see that Flash cookies are not allowed. But fingerprinting refers to determination of identity by aggregating multiple sources of data, with or without Flash supercookies - user agent, canvas, font (per the article), battery API, WebRTC, etc. I might be missing something but I don’t see those practices forbidden in the page you linked.

                                                                                          Mobile RTB uses IP address and user agent

                                                                                          AT&T, last I looked, requires you to opt-out of using your data for targeted ads. Presumably because of this they are able to tie all your internet traffic to your profile. I have no idea what happens to this data or how to audit it. Also historically ISPs have tested placing supercookies in http request headers. Based on both of these examples I am under the impression that mobile tracking is more sophisticated than just dumb aggregation by IP address, user agent, and mobile app name.

                                                                                          Even though it means more fake news and lower quality content?

                                                                                          I’m quite skeptical of the argument that advertising revenue drives quality content. Rather it seems like the opposite. “Fake news” and clickbait are both examples of this. It’s the plenitude of advertising dollars that drives these practices, not the opposite.

                                                                                          For example, here’s BlueKai’s information about you.

                                                                                          A customized hosts file and ad-blocker makes it very difficult for me to open that page :) When I was finally able to do so, it didn’t show me any data, so I visited the sports site they linked to, and came back, and it said that I am located in the country I am indeed located in :)

                                                                                          But browser fingerprinting is based on collection of low-level data such as I mentioned. I didn’t see in that page any of the data points used in fingerprinting - I didn’t even see my IP address, which presumably they were using for geolocation. My comment was “there is virtually no way for consumers to audit their data footprint” and I still would say this is true.

                                                                                          Additionally browser fingerprinting is a powerful technology that can be used to construct user profiles after the fact. Let’s say I collect a database of data points from user browsing sessions. Based on these data points I can run analysis and, within a certain degree of likelihood, link data points from heterogenous sessions together and identify them as coming from the same user. Even if this is beyond the technical sophistication of current ad networks, that doesn’t mitigate the risk that these sorts of queries and analyses will become commonplace in a few years time, at which point these queries and analyses could be run retroactively on historical data. Once this data is collected and stored my profile exists “virtually” even if it doesn’t exist “actually.” As a consumer visiting bluekai’s website, I’m not able to see what data they have about me - only some gross aggregation that could retroactively change with the use of more sophisticated methods.

                                                                                          I think advertisers would be happy to put this information wherever you want, but it’s proven very difficult to have a productive conversation with privacy advocates.

                                                                                          You make it sound as if advertisers are working in good faith. Yet requiring opt-out rather than opt-in for tracking is a dark pattern. To me this seems like glaring evidence of something other than good faith. Additionally, as far as I can tell, privacy laws are a major impetus here for much of the transparency we do see in the advertising industry.

                                                                                          [T]he sale of this traffic is logistically difficult. If we make it easier, it should be evident that smaller sites will be able to 5-10x their revenue, but the problem is: how do we make it easier for them, without making it easier for ad fraud?

                                                                                          Personally I’m not concerned about the revenue of large or small sites from advertising dollars. I view advertising as a parasitic industry that drives content quality down while building up opaque databases about people - a net negative. Something like, say, basic income seems like a much better solution for small, independent content creators than advertising with its numerous downsides.

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                                                                                            I might be missing something but I don’t see those practices forbidden in the page you linked.

                                                                                            You’re not going to find it on that page, but linked to in industry guidance, such as youronlinechoices.com.

                                                                                            Here’s another page. It specifically mentions more “fingerprinting” techniques and keywords that I think you’re scanning for.

                                                                                            You might try learning more about this.

                                                                                            AT&T, last I looked, requires you to opt-out of using your data for targeted ads. Presumably because of this they are able to tie all your internet traffic to your profile. I have no idea what happens to this data or how to audit it. Also historically ISPs have tested placing supercookies in http request headers. Based on both of these examples I am under the impression that mobile tracking is more sophisticated than just dumb aggregation by IP address, user agent, and mobile app name.

                                                                                            You might look again. It’s not much more sophisticated than that because none of those things worked very well: Verizon and AT&T and anyone else could include whatever they want in the header, however participants in this space can’t easily exchange that information with their partners, so it isn’t as useful as they might hope.

                                                                                            Here’s the documentation for BlueKai’s Mobile ID which is indeed, just user agent and IP address.

                                                                                            Based on these data points I can run analysis and, within a certain degree of likelihood, link data points from heterogenous sessions together and identify them as coming from the same user.

                                                                                            However you haven’t explained why you think this is bad. That’s my question.

                                                                                            Knowing that a user is, within a certain degree of likelihood, interested in some topic X, allows for the sale of advertising to a marketer interested in reaching people interested in X: Now instead of estimating 50% of people are interested in this topic, and buying double the people (at half the budget) they can be more efficient, but it also means that publishers can specialise their content, and tailor it for specific (small) interests.

                                                                                            Do you think that the Internet should only have content that is (a) for direct-pay (by credit card), or (b) is of interest by at least 10% of Americans? Targeting makes it possible to have sites that are interesting to as low as 0.3% of Americans, and still earn the operators a NYC-liveable wage!

                                                                                            You make it sound as if advertisers are working in good faith. Yet requiring opt-out rather than opt-in for tracking is a dark pattern. To me this seems like glaring evidence of something other than good faith. Additionally, as far as I can tell, privacy laws are a major impetus here for much of the transparency we do see in the advertising industry.

                                                                                            Yes, because I think most of them are. Especially the big ones. And I think this is a bit hyperbolic.

                                                                                            What terrible thing are you trying to prohibit? I don’t even know what you mean by “dark pattern”.

                                                                                            It isn’t what people expect? People are watching a television program that is sponsored by marketers who sell products that may be of interest to people who are interested in that television program, and I can’t imagine what other transaction people expect could be going on. Or should be.

                                                                                            Personally I’m not concerned about the revenue of large or small sites from advertising dollars. I view advertising as a parasitic industry that drives content quality down while building up opaque databases about people - a net negative. Something like, say, basic income seems like a much better solution for small, independent content creators than advertising with its numerous downsides.

                                                                                            I don’t think wishing for things is very productive. Do you think by blocking enough ads that Verizon Wireless will send their lobbyists into congress to push for a universal basic income? What exactly are you proposing we do?

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                                                                                            The idea that fake news arises when people take measures to protect their privacy only makes sense if you ignore the entire history of media and advertising.

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                                                                                          I wonder how many people advocate this kind of privacy-focused browsing in exchange for more fake news and lower quality content with their eyes wide open?

                                                                                          Your argument here seems to be that when ad rates fall too low publishers will simply go out of business unless they publish fake news. But that would be fine with me because then I could accurately ascertain the legitimacy of a site simply by checking to see if it has ads. If it does, it’s fake news, if it doesn’t, then I might pay attention because it’s run either by a company with a real business model or a non-profit.

                                                                                          I simply don’t accept the premise that advertising is necessary for good content. In fact, I think advertising actively discourages good content. So I’m happy to see it die.

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                                                                                            Your argument here seems to be that when ad rates fall too low publishers will simply go out of business unless they publish fake news. But that would be fine with me.

                                                                                            Wow.

                                                                                            That honestly surprises me.

                                                                                            Thanks for your opinion though.

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                                                                                              Well, it might be less surprising if you hadn’t clipped my quote where you did. Basically, if a publisher can’t convince people to pay for its content (in either a for-profit or non-profit manner) then the content is probably not all that compelling or the publisher is structured in an inefficient manner. I’m 100% positive that there are exceptions, though I can’t personally think of any, and I’d have to consider those separately.

                                                                                              By the way, I pay for a number of subscriptions to both physical magazines (none of which publish ads) and web sites (which also don’t publish ads). Most are non-profits. I find that I have no trouble finding interesting, thought-provoking things to read. In fact, there’s more content than I can even consume reasonably.

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                                                                                                I can’t personally think of any [exceptions], and I’d have to consider those separately.

                                                                                                You have a twitter account.

                                                                                                By the way, I pay for a number of subscriptions to both physical magazines (none of which publish ads) and web sites (which also don’t publish ads). Most are non-profits. I find that I have no trouble finding interesting, thought-provoking things to read. In fact, there’s more content than I can even consume reasonably.

                                                                                                And of course, you have a search engine you pay-per-search, the google fonts you pay for on your website, the creative-commons advertisement at the bottom of your website, the fact you use Ubuntu which is advertising supported, and so on.

                                                                                                Sponsored content is pervasive, and it’s a huge part of what (mentally) ratchets our prices and costs so low.

                                                                                                Well, it might be less surprising if you hadn’t clipped my quote where you did.

                                                                                                You either answered the question I asked (which ended there), or you’re answering a different question that I didn’t ask, and that I’m not really interested in talking about (how you as a reader detect a fake site).

                                                                                                Do you think it matters? You don’t seem to think that targeted ads for less fake news and crap content is a fair trade, because, in your words: There is “more content than I can even consume reasonably”. Maybe you just weren’t aware that twitter or Google et al are only able to produce the content and services you consume because of advertising.

                                                                                                Or maybe you don’t care – if Google give services away for ads that you can block, then they’re suckers, and you’re patting yourself on the back for being so smart, but you’re also facilitating the fake news and crap content that is bombarding human beings that aren’t so smart as you.

                                                                                                Where exactly do you think this kind of conversation can go?

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                                                                                                  I’m enjoying your posts on this topic, thanks :).

                                                                                                  Could you elaborate on how using google services with an adblocker is facilitating fake news and crap content?

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                                                                                                    Could you elaborate on how using google services with an adblocker is facilitating fake news and crap content?

                                                                                                    The biggest brands have advertising budgets that are relatively fixed. Their goal is to get a certain [reach] from a given medium, and the planner/buyer is going to do this with the fewest number of transactions possible. Exactly how they go about doing this varies, but because the budgets are fixed, if you block an ad, then Google simply doesn’t sell you, so the publisher misses out, but Google receives x% of that entire budget, so they are (relatively) unaffected.

                                                                                                    Meanwhile, a lot of these fake news/crap content sites will purchase the traffic – “legitimately” by purchasing search, or less legitimately in the form of injection/toolbar users or even pops. That less-legitimate is particularly important, and generally has some technological sameness (like having the same fonts, or has some plugin installed on all the traffic), but you’re not going to these sites anyway, so if 20% of users have an ad blocker, that’s only 20% of real traffic, not this traffic. That means that when the advertiser spends their money, more of their money moves to these vehicles, instead of sponsoring real sites.

                                                                                                    The advertiser will (eventually) check the effectiveness of their campaign, and see that this media buy didn’t get them very/any benefit, so the ROI on their spend will be poor. They will want to count the users – if some of the traffic is invalid and can be excluded, then the ROI on the real traffic might be good (or at least close to their predictions), but if they cannot exclude any traffic, for example because we have stopped tracking/analysis of this traffic, then the advertiser simply pushes the price of the audience down.

                                                                                                    Does that make sense?

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                                                                                                    Creative Commons is ad-supported? Really? Seems unlikely. Twitter I would happily do without if I was asked to pay anything more than nothing. Google Web Fonts, again, I would never pay more than nothing for anyway. Ubuntu is not ad-supported in any meaningful way, they barf out Amazon links but the feature is turned off by default these days AFAIK.

                                                                                                    A lot of this is basically an economic question. I consume these things because they are free. If they cost more than zero I wouldn’t consume most of them because they are worth practically nothing to me. In the case of Twitter, I consume it because other people I find interesting consume it. But most of those people wouldn’t pay for it (because they are like me), so if Twitter charged those people would leave, and I would leave.

                                                                                                    If Google offered me a way to pay not to see any ads and to not be tracked I would seriously consider it. As it is, they only offer a way to pay to see fewer ads. Additionally, so long as ad networks are regularly tricked into serving malware, I view ad-blockers as critical security software. Fix your industry and you might find people like me more sympathetic.

                                                                                                    Or maybe you don’t care – if Google give services away for ads that you can block, then they’re suckers, and you’re patting yourself on the back for being so smart, but you’re also facilitating the fake news and crap content that is bombarding human beings that aren’t so smart as you.

                                                                                                    Your argument about “fake news” just isn’t believable, especially when so much “fake” content is published by “legitimate” outlets. Fake news is really more a result of competition (capitalism) in the information industry than anything else. When companies compete for eyeballs (whether they’re paid eyeballs or ad impressions), and there are no rules about telling the truth, there will be a tendency to report whatever “sells”. Your argument is essentially the equivalent of those commercials that told kids that smoking pot supported terrorists.

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                                                                                                      Additionally, so long as ad networks are regularly tricked into serving malware, I view ad-blockers as critical security software.

                                                                                                      I’m not arguing that you should disable your ad blocker. I simply think you’re facilitating what will be seen as a huge mistake by confusing this issue with the tracking and privacy issues.

                                                                                                      I consume these things because they are free.

                                                                                                      You’re wrong. Google is able to permit redistribution of these fonts and make self-driving cars because of advertising.

                                                                                                      What you’re proposing is not vaccinating your kids. It has real effects that don’t affect you immediately, but it’s going to affect everyone else in your community.

                                                                                                      Creative Commons is ad-supported? Really? Seems unlikely.

                                                                                                      Straw man? Really? Creative Commons receive donations and spend the money on advertising. You’re the advertisement.

                                                                                                      Your argument is essentially the equivalent of those commercials that told kids that smoking pot supported terrorists.

                                                                                                      Sigh. Smoking pot does support terrorists. So what? It also supports roads and skiing, health programs, and safety programs. Just because marijuana legalisation is probably a net positive doesn’t mean that there aren’t gross negatives. This is just your myopia, and while you complain about “dark patterns” you’re going into an arms race where the collateral damage is malware and representative democracy.

                                                                                                      But maybe there’s another way: The bulk of the advertising spend isn’t interested in serving malware either. Learn about the market and find a way for everyone close to the money to get a balloon, while still getting what you want, and maybe you’ll actually get what you want in the long run as well.

                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                        You’re wrong. Google is able to permit redistribution of these fonts and make self-driving cars because of advertising.

                                                                                                        No, I’m not wrong. You seem to think I’m an idiot and don’t realize that someone has to pay for everything. They are free to me. If Google started charging more than I was willing to pay for fonts I’d just stop using them. That’s how economic decision making works. Google Web Fonts is worth maybe $1/year to me. Right now, the price to me is zero. I use them because my surplus there is still positive. But I’m not going to make it easy for Google to track me just because they’ve got a tricky business model. If they feel it’s not worth their while to host the fonts, fine, let them stop. Or let them charge and people will decide accordingly.

                                                                                                        Also, why do we need Google to provide fonts and self-driving cars in the first place? If you’re into markets, and you seem like the type who is, you can correct me if I’m wrong, shouldn’t the market provide those things if they provide value to society (and therefore people are willing to pay)? Now you sound like a late-90s record executive complaining about MP3s. No one owes anyone a business model. If the only way you can make money is by doing something that I find creepy and potentially dangerous then I have no sympathy.

                                                                                                        Straw man? Really? Creative Commons receive donations and spend the money on advertising. You’re the advertisement.

                                                                                                        You brought up Creative Commons. Not me. I have no idea what you were trying to demonstrate by pointing out that I link to the CC web site from my web site. Last I checked that was basically the killer feature of the web.

                                                                                                        This is just your myopia, and while you complain about “dark patterns” you’re going into an arms race where the collateral damage is malware and representative democracy.

                                                                                                        There are a ton of things I believe are far, far more detrimental to representative democracy. Real existing capitalism itself, for one.

                                                                                                        But maybe there’s another way: The bulk of the advertising spend isn’t interested in serving malware either. Learn about the market and find a way for everyone close to the money to get a balloon, while still getting what you want, and maybe you’ll actually get what you want in the long run as well.

                                                                                                        Yep, sounds like something the ad industry should focus on. Until I feel I can trust them, however, I’m blocking everything I can reasonably block.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          No, I’m not wrong.

                                                                                                          Yes. You are wrong. Full stop.

                                                                                                          You seem to think I’m an idiot and don’t realize that someone has to pay for everything. They are free to me.

                                                                                                          Well, I don’t think you’re an idiot for that: You clearly realise someone has to pay for it. You just don’t think it’s you. You think you’re somehow hurting google or “the advertising industry” by using an ad blocker, and you’re completely wrong about that.

                                                                                                          It’s unclear if you know who it’s actually hurting and who it’s actually helping. I think you probably do by now, but you’re so angry you’re growing belligerent; Nobody called you an idiot, so calm down.

                                                                                                          No one owes anyone a business model. If the only way you can make money is by doing something that I find creepy and potentially dangerous then I have no sympathy.

                                                                                                          That’s true, but you’re creating more opportunity for more creeping and greater danger, rather than actually reducing the amount of creepy and dangerous things.

                                                                                                          I don’t know if you’re doing this because you’re ignorant (which I hope), or you simply lack empathy for the people who are being creeped on, and actually being put at risk of that greater danger.

                                                                                                          I link to the CC web site from my web site. Last I checked that was basically the killer feature of the web.

                                                                                                          That’s exactly what an advertisement is: The killer feature of the web. You don’t even realize your website has advertisements on it, because when I say “CC advertises” you somehow thought that I meant that “Creative Commons is ad supported”. Or you were trolling. Again, I’m not quite sure.

                                                                                                          Anyway, that’s how big this marketplace is. You can’t block advertising, you can block a certain kind of technology that makes advertising more efficient for publishers. You know that because you’re not an idiot – the question isn’t even whether that efficiency is worth the other risks;

                                                                                                          The billion dollar question is whether there’s a way to get publishers what they want (the efficiency) without the risks.

                                                                                          1. 30

                                                                                            It’s a two-sided lemon market, insofar as most development jobs are also of low quality, and the cause of the lack of prepared, capable programmers isn’t that most programmers are stupid, but that work experience also has a pyramidal shape to it. There aren’t many people who have high quality work experience, because there isn’t a lot of high quality work experience to be gotten.

                                                                                            Most employers reject candidates as soon as there’s a whiff of negative experience: a job that didn’t go well, a company with a negative reputation, outmoded technologies. Then they try to underpay, or they hire people for one job but assign them to something else, and whine about their retention and hiring problems. I’ve met entitled “star” engineers but they’re rare and don’t age well, but entitled employers, who only want 9s and then expect those perceived 9s to wash their dishes, are so common that it’s unremarkable.

                                                                                            The best way to be employable, in this superficial industry run by non-technical and emotionally incontinent monkeys, is not to have any reason, of any kind, for someone to reject you. Even good things can be reasons to reject someone. Ten years of machine learning experience at a prestigious lab? “Too theoretical”. Over 50? “Resistant to change.” Made the mistake of becoming well-known for being too ethical? Well, see my experience. No wonder then that we have such an age discrimination problem; the only way to be compliant is to be a complete blank slate, and fresh college kids are best in that regard (even if most of them don’t know anything).

                                                                                            The truth about this massive lemon party is that no one has any real business need to make it better. Companies get funded and acquired and priced according to headcount, and MBA-toting “star” managers judge opportunities based on the sizes of the teams they’ll get to run (regardless of what those teams do) so there’s no real cost to the business in hiring lemon developers or managers, and there’s even less perceived cost in rejecting people for stupid reasons. It’s technology people who get hurt by it; not only do we end up with lousy co-workers, but when we try to hire good people, we see them getting rejected for stupid reasons.

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              The truth about this massive lemon party is that no one has any real business need to make it better.

                                                                                              That’s not totally true. There’s a niche of companies that do high-integrity or high-security development of software. Some warranty the results. They charge a premium of at least 50% over other companies. All the ones I’ve seen stay growing with referral from clients. There’s companies that internally do something similar with IT either in general (rarest) or for specific teams on critical stuff (uncommon). So, there’s some demand that comes in many forms with serious money to be made. Not entirely lemons but mostly lemons.

                                                                                              Rest of your post is spot on. Curious, what did you mean by “Well, see my experience.”

                                                                                              1. 7

                                                                                                That’s not totally true. There’s a niche of companies that do high-integrity or high-security development of software. Some warranty the results. They charge a premium of at least 50% over other companies.

                                                                                                That’s a fair observation. Unfortunately, those companies seem to be very rare. Is there a list of them published somewhere?

                                                                                                Curious, what did you mean by “Well, see my experience.”

                                                                                                I’m glad that you’re asking, which means that my publicity has faded a bit.

                                                                                                I used to be a bit notorious for some high-profile actions that, while ethical to a fault, were judged negatively by some notable technology companies. There are rumors that I attempted to unionize one company where I worked; this is not true, although I have spoken sympathetically on the concept of software unionization (not that it will ever happen). My name was (erroneously) listed on a “suspected union organizer” blacklist in Silicon Valley for a while. In fact, I don’t know the first thing about organizing a union (and, at this point, I could care less about the Valley).

                                                                                                I’ve survived (and just barely) some attempts to destroy my reputation and career, and my faith in this industry is nonexistent. We are mostly in the business of helping rich guys, who have no concern for ethics or law or social justice, unemploy people. Software could be so much more, but we’ve let it become this disgusting business that I’m embarrassed to have been a part of.

                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                  Hate to hear it happened to you. However, I totally agree with software developers unionizing. I agree with most in middle class sectors doing that. The reason in IT is that the job is critical, it’s prone to layoffs, there’s lots of discrimination, mismanagement is rampant, performance metrics suck, and mostly importantly the major companies were price-fixing labor. They devolved into a cartel just like I suspected and what I predicted would happen to most oligopolies. Except this was unusual given it crossed some market sectors with fiercely-competitive companies instead of incrementally-competitive ones that are typical (eg AT&T vs Verizon). A situation this bad for labor that only drives money into CEO’s or founders' pockets is exactly the reason unions existed in the first place.

                                                                                                  Now, people reading might think of bad unions with unreasonable demands and costs blowing out of proportion. Not necessary. When talking about giving more to workers, I like to use low-margin companies as examples given that higher-margin companies should be able to match at least what low-margin ones do. The best example overlapping low-margin and union is Kroger chain of grocery stores with UFCW union. I’ve actually read that contract and talked to their union representatives about all the stuff they deal with. Here’s what its terms are like:

                                                                                                  1. Workers get paid a percentage better than minimum wage with earnings going up over time as experience increases. They get paid a higher rate for higher positions. These are standardized for common roles so there’s no discrimination on pay. Working in a higher position temporarily to cover a spot (eg someone is sick) earns you the higher position’s pay for however long you worked it. You get overtime if you work overtime regardless of what state says.

                                                                                                  2. Company offers heath insurance, dental coverage, and retirement package. Union manages that side of things so company can’t screw with it.

                                                                                                  3. Workers are guaranteed 10 hours between shifts so they can at least attempt sleep. They can waive it for extra money but can’t be forced to.

                                                                                                  4. There’s standardized breaks and lunches so people can get some rest. The contract also mandates a breakroom so people can’t bump into them asking for them to work on their break. A biometric, time clock records the shifts, breaks, and lunches. That data can be read by both management and the Union.

                                                                                                  5. Workers get a few paid sick days and 1-2 vacation weeks per year depending on position. The vacations are paid. For hourly workers, the system averages the hours they worked then pays the average.

                                                                                                  6. Best for last: due process.

                                                                                                  I’m dedicating a paragraph to that as I think it should be a national law. :) Union reps say the crap management pulls on workers is endless. Employees will tell you, too. Management is at Walmart’s level or worse. Everything from racism to forcing young people to skip lunches to intentionally losing paychecks to deploying practices that result in broken backs and shit. Union resolves most of it in heated negotiations without it going further. Sometimes it just takes a call.

                                                                                                  Due process is the solution to this. It says Kroger can’t just arbitrarily fire a worker without basically paying them a good deal of money for a period of time. It’s why they didn’t do layoffs during recession. Just hour cuts. They have to come up with performance metrics and policies defining good work. Then, they must write-up workers who violate those with evidence they do. After a certain number, they can fire them. For any termination, a worker can challenge it. If unreasonable, the union will defend the worker first in negotiations and then in arbitration. Union reps say the workers usually get their job back since they were doing good but fired on a technicality for political reasons. Or rep sits in the store for hours seeing tons of violations that get no write-ups but that one employee is getting singled out. Due process with clear standards for performance is union’s first line of defense against bad management.

                                                                                                  So, I look at all these companies that treat IT workers like shit. I notice that most of them have higher than 1.6% profit margin Kroger does. Many have tons of revenue. Management make good money with executives making a killing. The things above actually don’t cost much for most mid-sized or large firms. IT will still be plenty productive. They still oppose such things. That’s just because they’re fucking evil. ;) So, unions and then campaign contributions for better labor laws are necessary evil if workers gotta face evil every day.

                                                                                                  Note: I did this one last night but the submission disappeared for some reason. Had to redo it… (sighs)

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    Do you have any ideas on what the core problem is? And do you think software as an industry is special in this regard or just ahead of the curve on these issues?

                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                      “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” – Hamilton

                                                                                                      I think that we’re often attracted by software because it promises us lucrative jobs and an opportunity to get paid for working in a world of abstraction and syntax (code). And “Big 4” cultures are designed to appeal to people who want to believe in institutional meritocracy, even though the evaluation of “merit” becomes, at an individual level, more political and malignant in the corporate world than it ever was in school.

                                                                                                      I’d imagine that the cultures in government and research are very different, but private-sector software is this culture built up by people who (a) are attracted by the money and (b) don’t really stand for anything in an ethical sense. This isn’t a dig, because I was a greedy douchebag when I was younger too– trust me, I’m in no position to cast any stones– but now that I’m older and aware of just how poisonous that moral emptiness can be, what used to seem like an abstract shortcoming (i.e. “we’re not working on things that matter”) is now more existentially pressing.

                                                                                                      I also think that we (and the media) tend to trivialize this by looking at, e.g., Snapchat and saying that our generation is being “wasted” on frivolity. That’s true, but the frivolity isn’t the worst part of it, and most of what the VCs are funding isn’t frivolous tech but WMUs– weapons of mass unemployment. It’s more pernicious than just “frivolity”.

                                                                                                      To answer the broader question, I think that Corporate America is in (welcome) decline. Kids in college still want to be investment bankers and Big4 programmers, but less so than when I was in school. You’re seeing more interest in public service and research, and less blind herd behavior. As for the self-contradiction of Corporate America, Donald Trump (the id of the corporate class) is showing us that this greed, money-worship, and self-absorbed careerism lead to narcissism, then full-blown egomania, and then frank destructive fury that hurts everyone. Hilary Clinton is a flawed person but she is a public servant and she holds to her values and has a vision for where to take the country. Whether that vision is correct, I’d rather not debate here, but she has one.

                                                                                                      The next-quarter mentality isn’t limited to software, and it seems to be destructive everywhere. It’ll take a lot of work to remove it. The pressures involved are too much for most people, right now, to resist.

                                                                                                      1. 7

                                                                                                        I’m older and aware of just how poisonous that moral emptiness can be, what used to seem like an abstract shortcoming (i.e. “we’re not working on things that matter”) is now more existentially pressing.

                                                                                                        I wish there was a club for people like us… You know what is also fun? Balancing your own company on the edge between making money and making a difference.

                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                          So you think the core problem behind low-quality jobs, funky hiring practices, and frivolous products is that people want money and don’t have ethical values? What is the source of that then? If it’s simply human nature then what is causing the change you describe in young people? If it’s not, then there must be a deeper problem.

                                                                                                          I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I’m not convinced either. I would love for one of these ennui-laden discussions to yield something even remotely actionable, and just saying “it’s greed” seems like a total dead end to me.

                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                            I’ll obviously let Church speak for himself here, but I my feeling is basically thus (very depressing read ahead):

                                                                                                            The zeitgeist of the time is hopelessness, distraction, and greed. We are all, at some level or another, greedily trying to buy distractions from the hopeless nature of things.

                                                                                                            At the risk of repeating platitudes, some observations: We use the iPhone, but pay no attention to the e-waste dumps and factory suicides. We inhabit Facebook, but try to ignore the massive surveillance it is predicated on. We praise Uber et al., but tacitly ignore the continued abuse of municipal laws. We espouse diversity, but only when it is applied to viewpoints we like. We enjoy fictional violence, but isolate ourselves ever-further from actual displays of force.

                                                                                                            Simply put, we are all drifting further from the reality and impacts of our lifestyle decisions, and at least for people trained in systems thinking (e.g., developers) there is the undeniable slow creeping sensation on the back of the neck that things aren’t quite right, that the sums and figures don’t quite come out correct, and that sometime soon the music is going to stop and we’re all fucked. Those of us not occupied with academic pursuits and the makework of refurbishing the Javascript ecosystem, that is.

                                                                                                            Knowing this, and knowing just how ruthless and brutal the system is about optimizing away things (read: people) that are extraneous to a particular economic objective, we make the rational decision and start trying to grab as much money as we can before we can’t anymore.

                                                                                                            The obvious posing and fake advertising and frivolity of social media makes it even easier to see our fellow man as marks, makes it easier to justify extracting maximum revenue from them. Whether it’s the dolt retweeting everything Trump says, or the VC who cuts a check on anything which mentions ML or IoT, or just a dumb public official who needs to show their constituents that they are “investing in the future” is of no practical matter: there are just the people who have resources, the people that can become resources, and the people who know how to harvest resources. As developers, we think ourselves in the third category though we’re basically just the second.

                                                                                                            I used to think that there was enough room on the bus for everyone, that we could elevate and enlighten and teach and move people (as a whole) forward. I’m increasingly of the opinion that there are simply the people driving the bus, the people under the bus, and extremely limited seating for folks that are neither.

                                                                                                            There’s no immediate solution either, right?

                                                                                                            Do you believe in your community, in the common good? Both candidates in the current election have basically disowned the other’s would-be voters. The legislature will merrily play chicken with budgets in order to score political points. Even the very notion of belonging to one’s country or civilization is under attack by various philosophies popular in educated circles!

                                                                                                            How, how are we to believe in the greatness of the people and the goodness of man when we are constantly reminded of this? How are we to devote our efforts to holding up a tottering dam holding back chaos when that act is criticized by some, used as a cheap revenue source by others, and actively hindered by the rest of folks too stupid not to play with matches next to the piers?

                                                                                                            We have an additional mokita: more than ever we individually are both more aware of our mortality and limitations and at the same time further isolated from them. War and famine are things that we see on Twitter and the news but which never really effect us. We can learn more than ever before about any given subject, and yet we are continually overshadowed by stories and articles about people who are either best in their field or just exceptionally good at advertising.

                                                                                                            In such a situation, what is the value of your life? What is its purpose? What makes it special or desirable? Why bother? At a large enough scale and with good enough coverage, we’re all just Brownian noise in the lifestream–and that’s where we are today. There’s no point in being the best person in town at doing foo, because we all read about foo on the ‘net and know how far we’d have to go.

                                                                                                            So, instead, maybe we can get enough money to paper over that existential void. Maybe we can buy enough things or influence to secure a place in history. Maybe this time we’ll pull it off…maybe.

                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                              Knowing this, and knowing just how ruthless and brutal the system is about optimizing away things (read: people) that are extraneous to a particular economic objective, we make the rational decision and start trying to grab as much money as we can before we can’t anymore.

                                                                                                              This is right on the nose.

                                                                                                              Before 1980, when many of our parents were growing up, it was socially unacceptable to say that you just wanted to make a lot of money or make connections so you can get a job where you don’t really have to work. Donald Trump became the zeitgeist of a materialistic, crass era (the 1980s) for a reason: it just wasn’t acceptable to be like him. Avarice and egotism still existed (see Mad Men) but were considered crass and pathological. And consider that the office politics of Mad Men, although nasty in their time because advertising had a similar flavor to entry-level investment banking today, aren’t all that bad by the modern standard. In the ‘70s, staying till 6:30 meant you were a hustler. Work was a more civilized game, and people played for the long term. Greed and ego have always been factors, but people were more intelligent in going about their objectives and there was more of a long-term mentality which precluded a lot of the worst plays.

                                                                                                              The era of the lifelong technologist seems to be drawing to a close, except in academia and in some government agencies. In the private sector, this is definitely a game where if you’re not a founder or an “angel investor” (read: rich) by age 40, people will ask why. These days, being a software engineer means contending with micromanagement (Ministry of Agile) that is designed for children, that “we” have had to accept because the conscientious objectors have all been fired and replaced with compliant, often belligerently incompetent, unprepared neophytes out of college or “boot camps” (which are, mostly, fly-by-night trade schools with no quality control). The pay is decent. Not amazing, but decent. It’s one of the few genuinely middle class jobs left. Still, the low status of the job means that as soon as the market softens, programmers are going to take a hard fall while the management will be just fine: VC associates who don’t make partner will circulate elsewhere in private equity, founders will end up in $250k jobs at hedge funds, and startup executives will ride their coattails. Meanwhile, a generation of programmers will be left in the cold with nothing to say for itself.

                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                              “If it’s simply human nature then what is causing the change you describe in young people? If it’s not, then there must be a deeper problem.”

                                                                                                              I threw a savant brain at the angle for years trying to figure it out. I eventually did come up with a model that explains it. Tried to find every work-around I could to change it. Ended up really depressed when I couldn’t find one permutation likely to work without straight-up revolution. It got to the point where I could predict what would happen with national events or elections at an abstract level. I originally thought it was emergent behavior but it’s increasingly clear the worst parts of what are happening are by design and emergent behavior within that design. Occasional outliers but the system the elites put in place is pretty air-tight.

                                                                                                              It’s too complex to explain in one comment but I’ll give you a few key points.

                                                                                                              1. It starts with capitalism at banking and industry levels. They realized certain practices would get them rich. One of those was screwing workers. The vast majority of people starting businesses are selfish enough to want to be very rich. They managed to use money to Congress and media presentation to voters to make sure vast majority of wealth produced by majority of workers went to tiny few with similar interests. They started forming monopolies using their vast capital. When that was busted up, they started forming oligopolies w/ cartel agreements to prevent competition. They get outrageous CEO compensation since the boards that keep that in check often have other CEO’s, founders, etc They’re all on each others' boards (“interlocking boards”) with emergent behavior of “you get me rich, I’ll get you rich.” They also pushed for patent and copyright to be strong to allow both selective monopolies plus prevent or financially drain competition. We’re already a plutocracy at this point where one cartel controls whole financial system plus others control most markets key for survival. Worse, the incentives say reduce cost/quality/safety while charging more.

                                                                                                              2. Congress will save the day with laws “for the People,” right? Congress and Executive branch are corrupt so no. First, they need tons of money to get elected. A Presidency costs around $200 million these days. Congressional seat at least millions probably tens. That means only people that can run are rich people or those backed by them. Also, existing system lets current legislators attempt to filter out anyone less corrupt that bypasses that problem. The voters themselves are extremely superficial where character and voting/business history are mostly ignored in favor of whatever a candidate looks like, does in personal time, says during campaign, etc. What professional liars say >= what they do or did. (???) Once in Congress, they spend most of their time preparing for next election. They pay back contributors, mostly elites, with laws that benefit them at people’s expense. Most Congress has portfolios of stock in dirtiest companies. They also ensure votes by sending massive amounts of pork to their districts which is why they waste so much on “Defense” spending building shit we don’t need & broken welfare systems. Those are tied to millions of votes directly impacted by changes. All adds up to preserve the status quo.

                                                                                                              3. Media will inform us so we change votes and overthrow the system, right? Media is a bunch of for-profit corporations whose business model is making money off adds by getting people to look at the screen as long as possible. They are not there to inform! It’s a business! Getting people’s attention meant they covered key stories, had important people on the air, etc. The also are run by elites who like the system as it is since they’re rich and powerful. Changes would impact them. So, they always practiced self-censorship where they collectively avoid topics or avenues of investigation that would lead to radical change while focusing on issues that appeal to each’s demographic with a mix of emotional responses. They’ll break veil of censorship if someone hits critical mass where they can’t be caught ignoring it. At that point, they either present it in a non-actionable way focusing on blame instead of solid response or start covering shock stories that distract people. This already worked way too well to point the corporate media is single greatest threat to American democracy in existence. Fox improved the model by basically turning up the bullshit to extreme levels with a format that focused on people fighting with each other, use of fake experts, tying message more to viewer, and getting more viewer involvement that doesn’t really do anything but feels like it does. Record-breaking profits and dominance on right-leaning side followed. Others copy their techniques now. You often can’t talk about a key issue for over a minute before host interrupts you or Americans tune out. So how can you change anything again? Go to another of those tens of thousands of stations that are all owned by the same 20+ for-profit corporations with interlocking boards? Good luck.

                                                                                                              4. Our eduction system will help people figure it all out, right? I still haven’t read Gatto’s Underground History of Education to see if it’s legit or bullshit but the abstract I saw a while back seems true. It was elites like Rockafeller that started the system as industrialization kicked in where they needed tons of workers smart enough to do the shit jobs they were creating that made elites rich. As Carlin said, “smart enough to operate the machines but not smart enough to” know how much they were being screwed. The education system dictated what people would learn at what pace with promises of them making millions over time if they followed it plus severe punishments for those that didn’t. The process itself combined rote memorization of material from authority figures, rigid routines, punishment of dissent, and simple metrics to assess skill. Smart people had to teach themselves shit constantly outside of school plus fight with educators over being taught ineffective methods “because it’s required by the bosses.” Basically like working in a factory or big corporation. It’s not education people: it’s conditioning humans like dogs with bare minimum in education. No wonder elites sent their own children to expensive private schools, got them tutors, and brought them along to see how they did business at executive level. That class gets educated where I’m still fighting to learn some aspects of what the C-level people do.

                                                                                                              There’s also surveillance/police state, what the U.S. military actually does, systematic suppression of dissent from voting rights to business, and so on. However, the above combined with human nature are all that’s necessary for a successful plutocracy. Human nature is herd-minded, terrible at long-term risks, focuses on here/now presented to our faces, prefers easy battles to hard ones, wants to maximize individual gain in local context, and has trouble being vigilant. The education and media combine to create a mental maze for average person where they go in the directions that are safe for the system. Some will fight it in ineffective ways while others will defend it thinking it benefits them. Some will make themselves and elite investors rich improving something, most will expand on the profits of incumbent elites, some break away from the system without achieving critical mass to affect it, and rest fall through the cracks. Capital almost entirely in rich’s hands combined with corrupt, capitalist Congress reinforcing system in law means the battle will always be uphill. Media continues to suppress key issues, like how most problems are due to Congressional bribes, but will endlessly repeat or generate frivilous stories that maximize their revenue. Americans stay fighting with each other in the maze instead of the elites that built it. Most successful, reality-distortion field I’ve ever seen.

                                                                                                              So, there it is in a nutshell. I have no hope of fixing it. The system is too robust after the decades they spend working on it. There’s a small chance that a solution can happen involving Internet media if the both the bait messages and the presented solutions are ultra-simple. The problem and solution have to be simple with candidates and legislation ready to go. They have to be willing to vote people out of office. The source(s) can’t make one mistake in accuracy plus need several tuned to different demographics all pushing same thing from different perspectives. There’s a chance that several classes of problems could be knocked out that way. Most aren’t using this strategy, though. The few that are use it on the wrong messages that just add to lower classes fighting each other.

                                                                                                    2. 5

                                                                                                      Your comment is just a bunch of rhetoric without much content.

                                                                                                      You’ll have a heard time convincing anyone that companies don’t care about the productivity of their engineers. Without productive engineers, they aren’t making money. Why would they go against their own self interests?

                                                                                                      And of course there’s a cost to the company if they hire a lemon. Have you ever worked on a team with a bad developer? A single bad developer ruins the productivity of the entire team they are on. That’s why companies are so careful about avoiding bad hires. A single bad hire is equivalent to missing out on multiple good developers.

                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                        A single bad developer ruins the productivity of the entire team they are on.

                                                                                                        What would you call the manager that allows this to happen? Inexperienced? Ludicrously incompetent? Is this just the assumption, that no manager ever was able to stop someone from building a project’s foundations out of balsa wood or nitroglycerine?

                                                                                                        It takes more than a single bad individual contributor to ruin a whole team. Management is supposed to be there to evaluate progress, identify, and address problems. Yes, management does not always succeed.

                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                          Management are usually the cause of the problem - they are there to manage and lead - many are not competent at either task - hence the Peter Principle

                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                            I had this recently happen to me. We had an individual who would continuously argue with others. Management repeatedly tried coaching him, hoping he would improve. It wound up taking two months for management to decide it would be better to let the individual go. After he was gone, everyone immediately felt much more productive.

                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                            There’s a steady stream of articles and comments about how broken hiring is, how poorly good developers are treated, discrimination against older ones to get less-skilled people at lower cost, how most projects fail due to poor management, how execs look at IT as a cost center knstead of strategic enabler… all this stuff indicates they dont give a shit in practice. Most also will punish attempts at reform.

                                                                                                            So, his comment is pretty consistent with what I read from insiders instead of rhetorical nonsense.

                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                              What is michaelochurch’s point besides “Hiring is broken!” and “Management hates programmers!”?

                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                Many specific problems with enough detail for HR or senior executives to take action on. His comment would be useless if he just said the two things you just said. Strawmen are easier to knock down, though.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          Why on earth would you want to turn a site that respects your browser size into one that does not?

                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                            Maybe because the optimal line length for readability is somewhere around 30-40em, depending on the typeface? Long lines of text are hard for the eye to scan efficiently.

                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                              If somebody is using a browser window 3000 pixels wide with a 10 point font, I guarantee you they have a reason.

                                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                                What exactly do you mean by that? My browser window is 2500 pixels wide, this site’s default font size is 16px. I run my browser at that width because I use web apps that are easier to use in a maximized browser window. I am absolutely applying @pushcx’s CSS because I am not resizing my browser window every time I come across a site that doesn’t care about readability.

                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                  I like to use this bookmarklet:

                                                                                                                  javascript:function B_fixWidth()%7Bdocument.body.style.width='800px';document.body.style.margin='0 auto';%7D;B_fixWidth();
                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                  I think it was posted by Shaun Inman on Twitter many years ago.

                                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                                  Could you give any examples? I don’t want to start an argument over the validity of those reasons, I’m wondering if there’s an accessibility concern I’m missing.

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    I have certainly seen similar CSS interact badly with traditional high DPI (i.e. non-“retina” - what you got if you set older versions of windows to a high DPI). Possibly using em avoids that particular pitfall.

                                                                                                                    Some users might find vertical scrolling difficult and want to minimize it.

                                                                                                                    Personally I just prefer to read a full-width screen of text. I don’t know how to reconcile this with the claim (apparently supported by studies?) that shorter lines are more readable, but it’s my direct personal experience. Shrug.

                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                      As you say, it’s a personal choice. This article does a pretty good job of summarizing some real studies, and tries to draw a conclusion from them.

                                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                                It still does. Max-width only applies when the container is big enough. If the container is less then 40em wide, then the element still resizes within that container. Lobste.rs does exactly the same as this so comment sections don’t span the entire width of 2560+ pixels

                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                  I know, and it’s a pain. I turn it off with a custom stylesheet at home but unfortunately I don’t have access to do that at work.

                                                                                                                2. 1

                                                                                                                  Personally I found it extremely hard to read in its original form on my 15" MBPr / fullscreen chrome (though I read it all before noticing the css recommendation)

                                                                                                                1. 24
                                                                                                                  var weAreConnected = Math.floor(Math.random() * 10) > 5;
                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                  if (weAreConnected === true) {
                                                                                                                    this.setState({
                                                                                                                      isConnected: true
                                                                                                                    })
                                                                                                                  } 
                                                                                                                  else {
                                                                                                                    this.setState({
                                                                                                                      isConnected: false
                                                                                                                    })
                                                                                                                  }
                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                  What? It’s difficult to take the article seriously after that. Seems like a purposely obfuscated example for saying:

                                                                                                                  var connected = Math.random() > 0.5;
                                                                                                                  this.setState({isConnected: connected});
                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                  And it’s not about not being fluent with JS either. This is just basic boolean stuff.

                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                    The connected variable isn’t reused anywhere either so couldn’t you just do this?

                                                                                                                    this.setState({isConnected: Math.random() > 0.5});
                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                    I’d use a ternary statement for setting the color too, but I know some people don’t like those.

                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                      The connected variable isn’t reused anywhere either so couldn’t you just do this?

                                                                                                                      Yep, absolutely, in this simple case, i wouldn’t mind either way. But splitting the calculation into its own variable, even though the variable is not reused anywhere else, has some benefits:

                                                                                                                      1. Each line is does a one simpler thing: first determine whether we’re connected using a random value, and then set the component state to that.

                                                                                                                      2. The code is more debugger-friendly. You can easily tell the value of the connected variable before setting the state by stepping between the two lines.

                                                                                                                      I’d use a ternary statement for setting the color too, but I know some people don’t like those.

                                                                                                                      Well, ifs in JavaScript are not expressions, so i’d use ?: too :)

                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                        I’d use a ternary statement for setting the color too, but I know some people don’t like those.

                                                                                                                        Do you know why ternary statements would be frowned upon? I don’t like nested ternaries, but other than that I find them extremely useful and they aren’t really that hard to use…

                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                          It’s because they’re often used with poor taste. I use them for one-line assignments all the time, but they’re sometimes used nested or with conditions/values complex enough that they span multiple lines.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            The new do expression in the early parts of the standardization process will make this process much nicer if it makes it.

                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                            I had a CS professor from Bulgaria in college that would always chastise me for using them in C telling me “You’re being clever; be clear, not clever.”

                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                              To me, any C code is clever, not clear.

                                                                                                                        2. 6

                                                                                                                          You’re just too much of a hacker. Not everybody can write this kind of code.

                                                                                                                        1. 17

                                                                                                                          Am I the only one that found this somewhat weird to read because it frames what many (definitely I) consider the most sensible default way to build web applications as a novel experiment?

                                                                                                                          Relatively few user needs actually require the interactions that single page apps offer, and SPAs are, in my experience, far more costly to build and, especially, to maintain.

                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                            Why is no JavaScript a sensible default? 99% of users have JavaScript enabled, including mobile.

                                                                                                                            Sure, if you don’t need JS don’t use it. But the purist way of saying “I will NOT use JS, I will find difficult workarounds for things that would be easy in JS.” is ridiculous. It’s like designing a car with tank treads because you don’t like tires.

                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                              I avoided where possible for security, efficiency, and portability. Sandboxing a renderer doing HTML and CSS is so much easier than a Turing Complete language running malicious or inefficient code. All this extra complexity in web browsers has also reduced the market to mostly two or three of them. The simpler stuff can be handled by the budget browsers. Increases diversity of codebases and number of odd platforms that can use site/service. Finally, making the stuff simpler increases efficiency as you’re handling both less capabilities and less combinations of them. Easier to optimize.

                                                                                                                              So, the above are all the reasons I opposed the rise of JavaScript in favor of old-school DHTML where possible. Also, there were alternatives like Juice (Oberon) that were better. Worse is Better won out again, though. Now I limit the stuff mainly for security, predictability, and performance on cheap hardware.

                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                the above are all the reasons I opposed the rise of JavaScript in favor of old-school DHTML where possible

                                                                                                                                Huh. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression was that “DHTML” was a term created by Microsoft to describe websites that used HTML markup with a scripting language (like JavaScript or VBScript) to manipulate the DOM. They used it to market the capabilities of Internet Explorer.

                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                  I ran into it on sites that either used JavaScript mainly to enhance but not replace presentation layer or used CSS tricks. I know nothing of it term itsslf past that.

                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                    Ah, okay. I think I misunderstood what you meant by “the rise of JavaScript” - not its mere usage, but its increasing responsibilities in contemporary web development.

                                                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                                                  Isn’t css turing complete by now? :)
                                                                                                                                  It is disappointing that if you make a browser from scratch as a hobby you have to add a javascript engine to be able to use the big 3 or 4 most popular social media sites.
                                                                                                                                  Soon adding an SSL library will be a requirement for most sites. For serious browsers none of this is a real issue, it’s just kind of sad that a useful browser has a much larger minimum complexity now days.

                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                    For serious browsers none of this is a real issue, it’s just kind of sad that a useful browser has a much larger minimum complexity now days.

                                                                                                                                    That’s a big part of the reason I pushed for the simpler standards. Too much money and complexity going into stuff always ends up as an oligopoly. Those usually get corrupted by money at some point. So, the simpler browser engines would be easier to code up. Secure, extensible, cool browsers on language and platform combo of one’s choosing would be possible. Much diversity and competition would show up like the old days. This didn’t happen.

                                                                                                                                    An example was the Lobo browser that was done in Java. Browsers were getting hit by memory-safety bugs all the time. One in Java dodges that while benefiting from its growing ecosystem. It supported a lot, too, but missing some key features as the complexity went up over time. (sighs) Heck, even a browser company with a new, safe language is currently building a prototype for learning instead of production. Even the domain experts can’t do a real one with small teams in reasonable time at this complexity level. That’s saying something.

                                                                                                                                3. 3

                                                                                                                                  It is profoundly easier to write useful acceptance tests for a static HTML versus a page with any amount of JavaScript. The former is a simple text-based protocol and the latter is a fractal API with a complex runtime and local state. That’s why no JS is a sensible default.

                                                                                                                                  That doesn’t mean finding difficult workarounds to avoid JS at all costs. It means being clear about the downsides and coming up with the simplest strategy to mitigate them for your application.

                                                                                                                              1. 10

                                                                                                                                So where was the EFF when the android g1 shipped without a headphone jack??? (Now that I know this exciting fact, I’m even more dangerous than before. Mwuhaha.)

                                                                                                                                But I really don’t see how the headphone jack relates. They could also include a headphone jack but refuse to play protected content over it. Which is exactly what happens with computers that have VGA and HDMI outputs, they ban HD content over the VGA output.

                                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                                  So where was the EFF when the android g1 shipped without a headphone jack??? (Now that I know this exciting fact, I’m even more dangerous than before. Mwuhaha.)

                                                                                                                                  Noticing all the legal competition that supplied Android phones with a headphone jack. Whereas those will not exist for iOS if Apple removes theirs. Having a monopoly on something means their actions affecting their users deserve a bit more attention.

                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                    Apple has like 15% market share. Not a monopoly.

                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                      They’re only selling 15% of iOS devices and some other company pulled in $80+ billion in profit? Whose the one dominating with iPhone sales then if not Apple?

                                                                                                                                      1. 11

                                                                                                                                        Everyone has a monopoly if you define the market narrowly enough, so yes, Apple has a monopoly on smartphones made by Apple.

                                                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                                                          You’re missing the big picture probably since I wasnt clear. Whats going on in smartphones is an oligopoly where a small number of players dominate the market and dictate its conditions. In OS’s, all competition is effectively eliminated outside of two platforms. One of those has largest market share with diverse set of suppliers innovating all kinds of configurations and software with pricing reflecting a free market.

                                                                                                                                          The other platform, iOS, is entirely different. One company dictates everything about it while preventing competition through a combo of controlling app supply and enforcememt of legal monopolies called patents and copyright. Despite a cut-throat market, they not only continue to be sole supplier and with lots of market but also are profitable more like a monopoly. A single company dictating $100 billion worth of activity in a market.

                                                                                                                                          So, a single, Android vendor making a decision about a single phone withs tons of alternative Androids available in no way affects Android customers like Apple dictating what iOS customers can or cant have. It’s a non-event in Android land but iOS users are locked-in. Switching Android phones and switching ecosystems are two, different things.

                                                                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                                                                            I think lock in is a much better term here than monopoly. (And by extension, I don’t believe they are synonyms that can be used interchangeably.)

                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                              Maybe. Here we have one supplier, alternatives are illegal due to patents/copyrights (legal monopolies) on key traits of the product, lock-in techniques are in play, and they price like a monopoly. How much more do you need to consider them an effective monopoly on iOS-based products? Also, Microsoft didn’t have a monopoly on Windows OS’s by your standard at this point.

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                Like I said, this is the result of defining the market as ‘iOS based products’. One might also define the market as ‘phones with an Apple logo stamped on the back’ which is also protected by a legal force.

                                                                                                                                                Historically, it’s been very unlikely, bordering on unpossible, for a monopoly to control 100% of a market. Standard Oil didn’t. AT&T didn’t. Thus, if you have an apparent monopolist who does control 100% of a market, it’s more likely you have misidentified the market.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Ok. I’ll cede that by your or a highly-technical definition that it’s not a monopoly. It’s just a business with no competition for anyone that wants iOS apps on Apple-grade hardware. Unless people are running iOS on Galaxies now. Whatever the term is for a business without real competition that can legally sue competition selling a particular type of good. I forgot the term if there’s another one.

                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I’m including the platform in the definition because the apps are tied to the platform. Many, third-party apps that depend on a single supplier without competition. If it wasn’t for network effects, I’d just say oligopoly but you loose whole ecosystem just by switching suppliers. Prevents most from switching. And what’s at root of people not just copying it for a new supplier? Legal monopolies owned by this entity.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                    Nintendo is a business with no competition for anyone who wants DS games on Nintendo hardware. Do they have a monopoly? Will the EFF be crying foul if Nintendo’s next handheld doesn’t have a headphone jack?

                                                                                                                                                    Google is a business with no competition for anyone who wants to watch Youtube videos. I can’t watch those videos on Vimeo or DailyMotion. Is that a monopoly?

                                                                                                                                                    1. 0

                                                                                                                                                      Nintendo is one & legally enforce it against serious competition. YouTube is for content that was only uploaded there but that’s two-party: content owner’s copyrights + YouTube’s practices and sole supplier. They’re not for videos or games available from other suppliers.

                                                                                                                                                      I have no idea what EFF will cry foul of. I suspect the effect of a product on large number of people exercising their Constitutional rights and keeping democracy functioning affects their decision-making. Apple has that kind of sway with its ecosystem. Nintendo does not.

                                                                                                                                                      EFF also griped at times about Youtube and Google for various, bad practices that only mattered due to technological, copyright-based, and patent-based lock-in. All monopoly-forming techniques with two ground in U.S. law specifically as forming, legal monopolies. So, good call on those two being examples.

                                                                                                                                                      Note: So now we have Coca-Cola, FireOS, Nintendo, YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. All this and nobody arguing against Apple as sole, monopoly supplier of iOS ecosystem has given me a link to buy iOS phones from a second supplier. A monopoly… mono… means one. You all just needed a second, legal manufacturer and supplier to prove your point. I’m assuming you left off the link because you don’t have one either. Because Apple is a monopoly over iOS ecosystem. The End.

                                                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                                                              I don’t disagree with you on the oligopoly, but “monopoly” is a term which can only be used in the context of a market. A market is defined only by the demand for some specific utility. iOS devices do not form their own market as the utility they provide is also provided by other products. Quality is not it’s own utility but rather a description of how well some demand for utility is being met.

                                                                                                                                              There is nothing which prevents companies from making hardware and software as good as Apple’s except lack of taste and expertise. If there was, then it would indeed be anti-competitive.

                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                Regarding your last statement, Apple has patents on both look-and-feel plus key capabilities. They’ve already used them against competitors. Thanks to Oracle, API’s are also copywritten. Making compatible interface will be hard for iOS apps if they dont give permission.

                                                                                                                                                So, iOS meets your criteria since Apple forces out any competitiob using legal instrumemts designed for enforcing monopolies. It’s not that people arent capable of cloning it. Tgey just arent legally allowed to.

                                                                                                                                                So, Apple has a monopoly on iOS market as a result. Not mobile but iOS.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Look-and-feel and APIs are implementation details of providing utility. They aren’t utility in and of themselves and thus don’t define a market. Utility has to do with accomplishing a specific task. Other products provide the same utility as iOS, thus there is no “iOS market”. Personal preference may lead you to chose one product over another within a market, but it doesn’t define the market itself.

                                                                                                                                                  Look-and-feel is protected under trade dress for very good reasons and you should do some reading on the subject if you don’t know what they are.

                                                                                                                                                  Patents generally cover a technique or process to provide some utility, they don’t prevent others from providing that utility in a different way. There are certainly bad patents and I’m ambivalent on patents in general, but that’s a society-wide problem, not specific to Apple.

                                                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                                                        In what market does Apple have a monopoly?

                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                          Certainly in the market for developers wanting to sell applications to iPhone users.

                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                            “Coca Cola has a monopoly on the market for beverage manufacturers who want to sell cola to Coca Cola consumers! RC Cola should sue for access rights to Coca Cola bottles.”

                                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                                              Won’t anyone think of the customers who prefer the taste of Pepsi but the ergonomics of Coke bottles? They’re people too!

                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                I don’t know about them. I’m thinking more of people that prefer the taste of Coca-Cola but want it from another supplier with differentiator like price, sizing, and quality. They can’t get it because Coca-Cola has an effective monopoly on the flavor they like via secrecy of the current recipe, long-term branding, marketing money, supply chains, and agreements with retailers to give them and a few others priority at key selling places.

                                                                                                                                                You simply can’t buy a Coke from a different company. You’re choice is buy a product that tastes like Coke from original, incumbent supplier at sky-high rates or don’t have the experience at all. Use to be that way for oil and phone service for a lot of people.

                                                                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                                                                That’s two who missed the concept. If Apple screws you, you cant just get another iPhone supplier to work with you. You have to give up your business or do a costly rewrite. Similar issues for customers with lots of data in iOS apps.

                                                                                                                                                Coca-Cola succeeds with trade secrets and branding on a commodity built tl be destroyed after one use. Apples to oranges.

                                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                                  I just wanted to say, that was a missed opportunity to say “Apples to colas”.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                    You got me there haha

                                                                                                                                                  2. 1

                                                                                                                                                    If Apple screws you, you cant just get another iPhone supplier to work with you. You have to give up your business or do a costly rewrite.

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, but there are other choices of smartphone APIs to use, Android even has the dominant market share (And probably still isn’t a monopoly). The problem is probably worse on desktop where Windows is/was a monopoly.

                                                                                                                                                    Similar issues for customers with lots of data in iOS apps.

                                                                                                                                                    That’s still not a monopoly, just vendor lock in, it is an issue with all cloud services at the moment, from Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.

                                                                                                                                                  3. 1

                                                                                                                                                    If the only way those beverages could be consumed was through a Coca Cola controlled fridge (an expensive investment, of which you are likely to have just one at a time) then that might be an apt comparison.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      Only 15% of people chose to purchase a Coca Cola controlled refrigerator, though. 85% of people have fridges that are completely capable of vending any other cola your heart desires - Pepsi, RC, store brand, etc.

                                                                                                                                                      Am I locked into my fridge if I chose to purchase it? Sure. But as the BBC notes, “other brands are available.” If they weren’t, Coca Cola indeed would have a monopoly. I’m free to chose the open fridge, or the fridge that is locked down if I prefer a curated cola refrigerator experience.

                                                                                                                                                      Does it suck if you make your living designing custom shelves for the Coca Cola fridge, while simultaneously knowing that they could change the design to make it incompatible at any second? Or, hell, that they could build your custom bottle shelves in from the beginning, making your work worthless? Absolutely. But that still doesn’t make them a monopoly.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                        “Only 15% of people chose to purchase a Coca Cola controlled refrigerator, though. 85% of people have fridges that are completely capable of vending any other cola your heart desires - Pepsi, RC, store brand, etc.”

                                                                                                                                                        That’s not what he said. Coca-Cola is what’s called a DSD vendor in retail. They reserve the right to dictate important stuff about how their product is priced, stocked, etc. Their account managers can shove bad terms down your throat because their brand is so strong a customer might not do business with you if you don’t carry them. Them getting a spot in vending machines and near cash registers used to be two things they’d use as leverage. I don’t know if they still do.

                                                                                                                                                        Of course, once again, we’re now having a discussion about Coca-Cola and their market which is mostly not like Apple’s. The only thing that’s the same is you can only get the flavor of Coca-Cola from them. This leads to a monopoly on that taste that they preserve with trade secrets. I know of one group that used their leaked recipe to get pretty close to their flavor. Like Coca-Cola told them, their marketing and distribution network means nobody is threatening them on their own product. You have to differentiate in a way that gets people to abandon Coca-Cola’s taste.

                                                                                                                                                        People wanting an iOS experience, Apple-grade hardware, alternative features they want, and mainstream, iOS apps are going to have trouble doing that. Because Apple’s the sole supplier of what they have a taste for.

                                                                                                                                                  4. 2

                                                                                                                                                    Well, right, but there is a functioning competitive market for developers who want to sell applications to phone users, and a competitive market for phones.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      The better Apple does selling phones into that market, the less well-functioning the developer side of the market becomes. This is not dissimilar to the need for Net Neutrality in the ISP market, given that providers there also have a pretty effective way to shut out businesses they don’t like.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                        I don’t see it, sorry.

                                                                                                                                                        ETA: I’m sympathetic to (if not persuaded by) the idea that Apple is abusing their position to extract rent from a captive base of consumers; but even if so, I still think that “monopoly” by any definition is ill-suited to describe their relationship with the market for phones, or apps, or indeed consumer electronics of any kind.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 0

                                                                                                                                                          “I still think that “monopoly” by any definition is ill-suited to describe their relationship with the market for phones, or apps, or indeed consumer electronics of any kind.”

                                                                                                                                                          Where can I legally obtain a phone equivalent to an Apple phone’s specs running latest iOS with access to Apple’s App Store, alternatives of my choosing, and features Apple refuses to support? Not in China where they get away with counterfeiting either. US, UK, Germany, maybe South Korea given Samsung… these kinds of places. What stores will sell me a piece of hardware equivalent in specs/benefits to Apples that runs their software and apps? I have half a dozen to replace a given Android with at any given time. You give me that list and I’ll downgrade my claim.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                            The same place where you can buy a phone exactly like the Amazon Fire.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                                              So far, we have Coca-Cola and FireOS. I’m talking a non-Apple supplier bringing you the iOS experience and apps on their comparable, but different, hardware. A competing, iOS product that’s actually sold in U.S.. Preferably a few but we’ll start with one link to their website.

                                                                                                                                                              Note: FireOS is Android… the one I said had competition. Great example supporting my point.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                Can I get a Samsung phone with FireOS? No, I can’t, because Samsung has a monopoly on Samsung phones and Amazon has a monopoly on FireOS. Monopolies everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                I don’t know what else to say. You’re (deliberately) confusing products and product categories.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                  You can get an Android phone and apps from someone other than Samsung. Many others in many prices and configurations. You cant get an iOS phone and apps from someone other than Apple for any reason or benefit. You arent legally allowed to either. That’s what Im calling an effective monopoly Apple has and enforces.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                    That’s great but words and terms - especially legal terms - have meanings.

                                                                                                                                                                    You’re using “monopoly” in a way no one else uses it.

                                                                                                                                                                    Monopolies can dictate prices and deny competitors in their product category. Ma Bell was a monopoly because they set the price for phone service and let no one else near.

                                                                                                                                                                    A company with 15% market share that sells luxury goods is not a monopoly.

                                                                                                                                                                    Do they lock you in? Sure. Are they a monopoly, under a legal or even colloquial understanding? No.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. -1

                                                                                                                                                                      “Monopolies can dictate prices and deny competitors in their product category.”

                                                                                                                                                                      Apple can dictate whatever price they want for iPhones, iOS and App Store plus deny competition. They did a few times in App Store itself. They do every time at OS and phone level.

                                                                                                                                                                      “Ma Bell was a monopoly because they set the price for phone service and let no one else near.”

                                                                                                                                                                      Apple sets the price for iOS, allows no competitive clones, and sues anyone (esp Samsung) who looks anything like it using legislation that’s called a legal monopoly.

                                                                                                                                                                      “A company with 15% market share that sells luxury goods is not a monopoly.”

                                                                                                                                                                      Meaningless. They’re not a monopoly on mobile phones: they’re a monopoly on iOS products. That’s a $80+ billion market that many want to enter and do in places like Shenzhen where Apple’s legal assaults don’t help them. The distinction matters. If you want iOS experience, you can’t legally buy from anyone else or build it yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now, that might not be a monopoly under an accepted definition. So, I look one up real quick to see what others are saying:

                                                                                                                                                                      https://www.boundless.com/economics/textbooks/boundless-economics-textbook/monopoly-11/introduction-to-monopoly-69/defining-monopoly-260-12357/

                                                                                                                                                                      Yep, Apple and iOS products fit into many of those attributes nicely. Sole supplier, most profitable, barriers to entry, single seller, legal barriers… these by themselves would do. Apple has great marketing, too. The differences section also appears to describe Android market. Indirectly corroborates claim against Apple on top of what’s already there.

                                                                                                                                              3. 3

                                                                                                                                                the G1 still had analogue audio out, the connector was just not TRS. it only took a few minutes of probing to determine which pins were the audio.

                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                  Employees also have “asymmetrical” power. Nobody forces you to work there. Corporations don’t have any ‘power’ over you. You only give them power if you put yourself in a position where you need continuous employment. But if you throw your phone in the river don’t blame the water for being wet.

                                                                                                                                                  I lost faith in privately owned corporations.

                                                                                                                                                  Well. Cars are made by privately owned corporations. Computers are made by privately owned corporations. It is good that you lost faith, now you can know why privately owned entities operating in a free market is good rather than just believe it is without evidence.

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                                                                                                                                                    Nobody forces you to work there.

                                                                                                                                                    of course no one person or entity is forcing you to work at a specific job or company. the needs of life, however, are. there is no universal basic income. there is no free job re-training. if you aren’t in your teens and free of living costs and dependants, you are forced to work.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                                      The evaluation of whether or not something is “good” is based on costs as well as benefits. I’m certain that everyone on this website knows where cars and computers come from. The question is whether the benefits they provide outweigh the overall costs of the system that produces them.

                                                                                                                                                      That many people are ambivalent on this point should make you examine the nature of your own certainty. Have you taken all the costs and benefits into account? Are you sure there isn’t a better way to obtain equivalent benefit?

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                                                                                                                                                        Cars are made by privately owned corporations. Computers are made by privately owned corporations.

                                                                                                                                                        They are right now, yes. That’s kind of crocket’s point. In a sense, private corporations have a monopoly on places to work. Where can I go buy a collectively-produced car right now?

                                                                                                                                                        In the USSR, cars and computers were made by publicly-owned entities. Not that I’m advocating the soviet model, but it’s a counterexample to your assertion.

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                                                                                                                                                          Corporations don’t have any ‘power’ over you. You only give them power if you put yourself in a position where you need continuous employment.

                                                                                                                                                          i mean we could return to a society built on subsistence farming maybe but otherwise you gotta work to eat.

                                                                                                                                                          Amusingly enough your analysis is completely orthogonal to reality. The asymmetrical power is wielded by the corporation against the worker. Things don’t need to be this way, but the bourgeoisie have successfully made the word “union” radioactive, thus reinforcing the power differential.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 7

                                                                                                                                                        This is terrifying.

                                                                                                                                                        It is also up to the employee to decide whether they want to participate.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, I’m sure it will be “voluntary”. As in, “if you want to keep your job” voluntary.

                                                                                                                                                        I can also see people being expected to “voluntarily” release their individual data to management.

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                                                                                                                                                          I can also see people being expected to “voluntarily” release their individual data to management.

                                                                                                                                                          Of course it is voluntary. At any point any employee can quit. Employment is a voluntary relationship between employees and employers under a mutually agreed upon conditions. If the conditions are bad, then employees would choose to work elsewhere, giving corporations incentives to make conditions good to retain employees.

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                                                                                                                                                            that is an incredibly privileged point of view.

                                                                                                                                                            not everyone has the ability to change employers at will. and in many lines of work, your options are going from one major corporation to another of (effectively) similar size and management philosophy.

                                                                                                                                                            so no, employee privacy is not something “The Market” can solve.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                                                              The exchange you’re having is a classic example of how terms like “voluntary” are hopelessly overloaded. You see volition from the perspective of the individual making decisions and taking responsibility for themselves, where as the folks you’re responding (some of whom are being incredibly condescending to you) to see volition as encompassing a lot more than that, including circumstances outside the individual’s locus of control (i.e., “lack of clear choices”).

                                                                                                                                                              This is speaking as someone who has been down that road way too many times to count. One useful thing I’ve learned from my engagement with others is that there are a lot of people who see the entire relationship between the individual and society in very very different and fundamentally irreconcilable ways. It can be hard to have a productive conversation, because they tend to devolve to life or death scenarios really quickly (it already has here), and once you’re there, it’s hopeless to continue.

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                                                                                                                                                                I think the discrepancy in the definitions of the word “voluntary” can be reconciled by being clear about the relative costs and risks of each choice. All choices are not equal.

                                                                                                                                                                As an abstract entity, the company who chooses to use these trackers expends and risks relatively little when compared to what the human employee has to expend and risk in their choice to quit — even if they have plenty of savings or whatever else. The things that make us alive and human also make our decisions much more complicated than those of any abstract entity. This mismatch in costs and risks is the essence of power.

                                                                                                                                                                So, as long as the more powerful entity keeps the cost of accepting some regression from the status quo just below the cost of fighting it, the parameters of the decision never really change for the individual. This is how most unfavorable situations are advanced upon us these days. I think the reason these discussions always head towards life and death is that we try to find some kind of shared moral terra firma from which to argue. When the changes are always slow and minute, arguing against them either makes you a crazy person who’s making a big deal about something small or a crazy person railing against the entire structure of society.

                                                                                                                                                              2. 5

                                                                                                                                                                Once you get out of high school (yo, put down the Ayn Rand book for a second and listen) you’ll realize that not everyone has a choice whether or not to work. Most people don’t. So, no, it is not voluntary. Not everyone has parents with a $500,000 house in the suburbs where they can live rent-free if they lose their jobs.

                                                                                                                                                                Also, my point in the other comment still stands. In the U.S., this will be a hassle and result in some lawsuits. In the developing world, this will be used to track union organizers and people will be killed because of it. Yes, in those libertarian paradise countries without the rule of law, it’s not atypical for corporate management to put a bullet in a union organizer’s head. As I said, this device will literally kill people. I wasn’t exaggerating.

                                                                                                                                                                On the other hand, there is one advantage that incurs to employees that I didn’t consider. One could argue that these badges being placed on employees gives them permission to record interactions with management, even in one-party states. (In most U.S. states, it’s illegal to record someone without their permission, but the existence of a recording badge could be argued to represent affirmative consent among management.) That could put some management behaviors in check.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Once you get out of high school (yo, put down the Ayn Rand book for a second and listen)

                                                                                                                                                                  I downvoted you as troll for this. This kind of presumptuous, snarky, yet content-free insult is only worthy of Reddit.