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IDK. The same thought process led me to not being able to complete college due to financial reasons.

Despite being emancipated, FAFSA still considers you a dependent until you're 24. I was told that only with documentation of leaving an abusive household would a dependency exception grant be applied. So according to FAFSA I was supposed to use all this money that I didn't have to pay for college. By 24 I had dropped out and gotten a development job, now putting me outside of the income level where I'd get even federal loans (and quite frankly I still can't take on that debt load).

Just make college free. Trying to make all of these complicated rules to make sure that a few people aren't "getting one over us" is just making more cracks for people to fall into. If you're concerned that the rich are going to somehow use the system without paying, structure the backing tax so that they pay their fair share. No one cares that high school is free for the rich too. Everyone pays in, everyone can participate.


But, he added, “if you have anyone who can do a better job, please let me know. They can have the job. Is there someone who can do the job better? They can have the reins right now.”

I think this hits at the crux of the issue around the performance/behaviour of Musk and other leaders of hugely ambitious companies.

And I think it highlights the importance of thinking about what kinds of people it will take to lead the next generation of such companies, and how we can identify and develop them.

I've never been any kind of Musk fanboy, and like most people I've looked on at his recent behaviour with some combination of bemusement and astonishment.

But when I see the hate and vitriol heaped on him, I'm compelled to wonder just what kind of alternative universe people are wishing for.

Do we actually want Tesla and SpaceX to fail?

Would we rather that Musk had just never founded Tesla and SpaceX, that the world didn't have any companies doing what those companies are trying to do, and that we were left to be content with the previous status quo in the automotive and space industries?

If not, then it would surely be better for the conversation to be less about how crazy or unstable or reckless Musk is, and more about how he and other leaders of today and of the future can pursue their ambitious goals, but to do so in a way that is responsible and balanced.

The alternative is not some as-yet-unknown-person-other-than-Musk doing the same thing but doing it better.

The number of people who are capable of building and running companies like these is vanishingly small and they will inevitably have extreme personality traits - some positive and some negative.

My concern is not for Musk's feelings, but for the way society goes about choosing, developing and critiquing the next generation of ambitious leaders, of whom we'll need plenty more if the world's increasingly complex problems are to be solved.

I should add that this applies whether we're talking about corporate leaders or political/community leaders.


OK, here's the problem in a nutshell: no one among regular people cares. You guys are splitting hairs right now when talking about the difference between tweeting and boosting or public companies vs open source or what have you. None of that attracts users. If you have no users, then for regular people, your product is useless. Even the article is not really making a pitch for mastodon that indicates any features at all that would convince any of Kim K or Kylie Jenner's followers to go take a look at it. I'll even go a step further and say that Mastodon is probably more for fringe groups than for the unwashed masses those fringe groups are trying to influence.

Look, you want me to get excited about Mastodon? Show me something exciting I can do with it that I can't do with twitter, instagram, or Snapchat. Is there some triple-I indie game that Mastodon will allow me to play in my browser? (Or triple-A non indie? I'm not picky. Just don't show me a point and click please.) Post the link for that game, you'll get a lot more people trying Mastodon. Alternatively, is there some new and novel porn that Mastodon will allow me to access? Or is there a new generation of FIFA stars on Mastodon? Or new generation of NBA stars? I mean, even a new generation of "It" Girls chasing NBA stars would be better for attracting users than "thoughtful and local uncommented retweets". Which is not only what you're asking me to get excited about right now, but is likely not even true. Boosts will be no more thoughtful than retweets, likely a good deal less thoughtful since Mastodon seems to be on a road that relegates it to fringe groups.

Right now, it's like buying a large tract of land in Kansas and saying that you've started a new municipality. No we don't have beaches, or theaters, or parks, or much of anything else, but everyone here is more thoughtful. so we're much better than Miami, San Diego, or Minneapolis.

I mean, it might work? But I think Las Vegas hit on a much better method of populating empty area by just saying, "HEY! We've got gambling and naked women!"


I'll probably be downvoted on a forum like this, but I worry about the most successful universities using their funds to subsidize those who would be fine without it. I was actually made aware of this by a wealthy Stanford alumni which has a fairly broad program for undergraduate tuition assistance. Graduates of mid/low tier universities seem more and more likely to have to compete with better credentialed people with lower debt.

Don't get me wrong, this is fantastic on an atomic level, and the levels of debt required to get an MD these days is insane (have a lot of family in the field). Also, it's not like this is a unique structural disadvantage, just a new one.


These are the specific points they are going after:

    -display housing ads either only to men or women;
    -not show ads to Facebook users interested in an "assistance dog," "mobility scooter," "accessibility" or "deaf culture";   
    -not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in "child care" or "parenting," or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
    -to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the "Christian Church," "Sikhism," "Hinduism," or the "Bible."
    -not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in "Latin America," "Canada," "Southeast Asia," "China," "Honduras," or "Somalia."
    -draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.
The 1st 4 should have never been allowed. This is a 50 year old law. Its not like its something new.

I want to underline this bit:

> they hired a team of developers without having a technical person on staff to vet them

For any non-technical entrepreneurs reading this: please don't do this. If you aren't competent to hire developers, please borrow or rent a few trusted technical experts and use them as a hiring committee. Otherwise you are less likely to hire the best technologist, and more likely to get the most glib and appealing technologist.

Over the years I have met far too many smooth-talking consultants and would-be employees. And I've seen them cause enormous garbage fires when managers hire beyond their ability to evaluate. The size of these garbage fires are a direct result of what got them hired: if someone is good at telling managers what they want to hear, they can go a very long time saying, "Yup, we're building it and it will be great! Just you wait and see!"

And then, no matter who you hire, demand a "ship early and often" schedule. Ship to internal users. Ship to alpha users. Ship to external testers. Heck, ship to just person for just one narrow use case. The earlier you can start seeing real-world success or failure, the earlier you can course correct.


This is like saying doctors should push cheap drugs that may or may not make your testicles explode because customers don't demand non-testicle exploding drugs.

We trust doctors to take into account all the nuances of medicine that laymen have never even heard of, and give us good advice. Because not everyone can be an expert on everything.

Its the same with software. We can't expect everyone to be an expert.. its up to our industry to act responsibly.

Sure its "market failure" in so far as duping uninformed people is a good way to make a quick buck, but the deeper issue is moral failure / failure to take responsibility.


"Using case studies involving machine learning and other hastily-executed figments of Silicon Valley's imagination, I will explain why computer security (and larger notions of ethical computing) are difficult to achieve if developers insist on literally not questioning anything that they do since even brief introspection would reduce the frequency of git commits."

For anyone who hasn't heard a James Mickens talk, do yourself a favor!


IMO the 2015 Macbook Pro is one of the best laptops ever made. Don't know why they went and messed that up.

I solidly regret the 2017 version. I've had one keyboard replacement already (that required the logic board to be replaced, seriously). Since then, I've already lost two keycaps. I've been ordering replacements online because they wanted me to ship it out for repair.

My 2015 Macbook is being used daily by a friend and is still in perfect shape. Worst thing that happened with that one is that I wore the letters off some of the keys.

My next laptop will probably not be a mac.


Is your dad for hire? We have this legacy toolchain in cobol and IBM assembler running on a bunch of mainframes and are just not ready to migrate to our brand new Itanium servers we have ordered a while ago. Our engineers are busy porting all the logic but need help understanding the inner workings of the old setup. While they're at it, we have this small list of features we'd like to have added to the old version...

(okok, it's Saturday so can we have this as a top level reply?)


An interesting and little-known fact is that the Danube in Germany does exactly the same for roughly 155 days per year [1], which is called "Donauversinkung" ("swallowing of the Danube"). Between the towns of Immendingen and Fridingen on the Swabian Alb the water just disappears underground [2]. This started to happen around 300 years ago, and until the 1870s nobody knew exactly where it went. They then did experiments with Uranin and ultimately proved that the water re-surfaces in the Aachtopf [3]. Now, the water from the Aachtopf flows directly into Lake Constance, therefore into the Rhine, and therefore into the North Sea. Normally, the Danube flows into the Black Sea, which essentially means that on roughly 155 days per year, the disappearing water moves the European watershed [4], which I find highly fascinating.

E: as the Danube laters flows through the once independent state of Württemberg, and the Rhine through the once independent state of Baden, there was also a nice court battle between them because of the lost water in the 1920s - the "Donauversinkungsfall" [5] ("the court case of the swallowing of the Danube")

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube_Sinkhole

[2] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Donauver...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aachtopf#/media/File:AachTopfP...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_watershed

[5] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauversinkungsfall


It seems many comments missed the point. The article is not about how bloated modern software is, how many useless features and programs are wasting CPU cycles for pointless jobs, etc. (Yes, modern software is bloated, for this reason, I'm using the MATE desktop on a minimum Gentoo installation, but this is not what the article is about.)

It is describing how web browser, a piece of software with extremely high inherent complexity, interacts with the memory allocator of the operating system, another piece of software with high inherent complexity, combined with a rarely used feature from Gmail, can trigger complex and complicated interactions and cause major problems due to hidden bugs in various places. This type of apparent "simple" lockup requires "the most qualified people to diagnose".

These problematic interactions are unavoidable by running fewer "gadgets" on the desktop environment, it can be triggered and cause lockups even if the system in question is otherwise good-performing. Installing a Linux desktop doesn't solve this type of problem (though this specific bug doesn't exist).

The questions worth discussing are, why/how does it happen? how can we make these problems easier to diagnose? what kind of programming language design can help? what kind of operating system/browser architecture can help? how can we manage complexity, and the problems came with such complexity, what is its implications in software engineering, parallel programming? etc.

From another perspective, bloated software is also an on-topic question worth talking about. But instead of the talking point of "useless programs wasting CPU cycles", or "install minimum Debian", we can ask questions like "do _ALL_ modern software/browser/OS have to be as complex as this?", "what road has led us towards this complexity nowadays?", "what encouraged people to make such decisions?", "can we return to a simpler software design, sometimes?" (e.g. a vendor machine near my home, trivially implementable in BusyBox, or even a microcontroller, are now coming with full Windows 7 or Ubuntu desktop! Even the advertising screens use Windows 8, and BSoD sometimes, despite all they need to do is just showing a picture. same thing for modern personal computers.), or even "is Web 2.0 a mistake?" (so we are here on Hacker News, one of the fastest website in the world!). These topics are also interesting to talk.


Shameless plug: if you like this, I'm looking for a remote job. My email is on my Github profile and my resume is here: http://pellelatarte.fr/dl/resume.pdf .

Several years ago, right here on HN, a Google employee expressed shock that candidates wouldn't bother to open the "red book" and review before showing up for an interview at Google. I had no idea what the "red book" was. Turns out that it's a particular algorithms textbook used by several top universities. That poster was so wrapped up in a particular culture that he was using colloquial slang to refer to expectations.

That's about the same time I realized tech hiring is almost entirely about cultural bias. Watching coworkers talk about rejected candidates as if they were morons for simply having a slightly different approach to, say, OOP architecture, further convinced me of this.

In my experience, "culture fit", as cited in post-interview discussion, was almost purely code for ageism. Meanwhile, most of the supposedly technical stuff was really culture.


I love Mickens' work, and think this is overall a great presentation, but I feel like it misses (or maybe just doesn't fully explore) an important point.

Start with the Internet of Things example. He chalks up the abysmal security record of IoT devices to two factors: it keeps IoT devices cheap, and IoT vendors don't understand history. And there's a lot of truth in both these assertions! But they are both just expressing facets of a deeper, more fundamental reason: IoT devices aren't secure because their customers don't demand security.

This deeper problem completely explains why the two higher-level problems he observes exist. Making your product secure makes it more expensive and slower to come to market than just leaving it wide open, and the IoT vendors know their customers care about cost and availability and don't care about security. So they do the rational (in the homo economicus sense of the term) thing and optimize for things their customers are actually willing to pay for.

The same causality can be observed in the ML world. Mickens asks why people are hooking ML systems whose operation isn't fully understood to important things like financial decisionmaking and criminal justice systems. The answer is that the customers demand it. ML is trendy and buzzworthy, so if you're a vendor of (say) financial systems, and you can find some way to incorporate ML into your offerings with a straight face, now you have an attractive new checkbox on the feature list your salespeople dangle in front of potential customers. And once the effectiveness of having that box checked becomes clear, you kind of have to do it, even if you know it'll be ineffective or even worse, or risk losing business to a competitor with fewer scruples.

All of which is to say that what we see playing out in both these scenarios isn't really the vendors' fault. They are instead classic examples of market failure. People end up buying shoddy products because spotting their shoddiness requires technical expertise they don't have; responsible vendors who try not to make shoddy products lose sales to irresponsible vendors who don't; eventually all the responsible vendors are out of business and the only products available to buy are shoddy ones. There are lessons to learn from this, but they're economic rather than technological.


I hope he wins, mainly so cell operators will perhaps take security more seriously. Not long ago, I was with T-Mobile. My username was my phone number, and the password, you could request and they'd send it to you in an email. With the climb of social media, our phone numbers are more a part of our identity than ever before, and carriers lack of security is being thrust into the spotlight.

Contemporary programmer: spends a whole weekend tweaking CSS parameters, asking web forums for LaTeX templates, finding a cool fresh font pairing on Google Fonts.

1980s programmer: sits down at the typewriter and bangs out a fixed width table, finishes with a signature.


Huh, I'm less doubtful of this than I thought I'd be. Tower cranes are apparently surprisingly low-maintenance. I assume this is because they have to actively participate in their own disassembly [1] and major breakages are super difficult to deal with because they're at altitude, so they need to operate reliably enough that they can always take themselves down at the end of a job or if they need a major repair (cracks found in main pivot ring, etc). Concretely (pun not intended), I found a document [2] saying that 10 tradesmen and $35k/month in parts (together a bit more than $1m/year) can keep a fleet of 70 tower cranes (15 metric ton lift capacity each) at ~80% utilization over a one-year period. So, yeah, I'd definitely believe that you could run these things at the quoted price.

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nww6MN_Lxeo&t=24s

2: Annex 9, "Example of the Use of Key Performance Indicators for Maintenance", in this PDF: https://www.mantiscranes.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/CPA-T...



This is amazing. I graduated from medical school two years ago with $300,000 in debt. I'm a software developer on the side and would love to stop residency to try a healthcare startup and/or pursue a research, but the risk is too great - I need the attending salary to pay off the debt.

If you work at Google and you have participated in this protest: Thank you.

You are taking a personal risk but you are absolutely doing the right thing.


It may also be the case that negative reviews of movies, TV shows, and stand-up specials did more to dissuade potential viewers than positive reviews did them to draw in; ...

Netflix's bigger problem is that much of its content looks good on the surface, but on closer inspection is not worth the time. A lot of this stuff is produced by Netflix itself. Bill Nye's most recent show comes to mind, but there's a lot more.

Netflix shouldn't have deleted those reviews. It should be using them to clean the junk out of its lineup.


"(Also, after seeing the below 350-line function that's part of a 3113-line file, I now know that whenever I'm yelling at CSS layout behaving weirdly, there's someone with a much, much more frustrating job.)"

Browser authors are on the receiving end of over 20 years of standards all written by people who were not, personally, the ones implementing them, plus a healthy dollop of "code that worked in this one browser once and become a de facto standard", for which the way tables format themselves in all their myriad ways comes to mind, based around whatever was convenient in already-crufty codebases now long dead.

And then all these nightmares get together and interact. And the end users expect this to be fast. And web developers expect to be able to reach into the middle of this epically complicated data structure and tweak a style and have what may literally be the entire page rerender, and they expect that to be fast and easy. And using a language that was never written to be fast. (If anything, Javascript was written to be implemented quickly, if you read the story about where it came from. There was no time to be worrying about how well it could be JIT'ed 10ish years later.)

I don't spend a lot of time wondering why my browser is so slow; I often find myself wondering how it manages to be so fast. The spec for a browser is insane. I definitely believe that a future of browsers will be a combination of web assembly and a much more raw rendering layer that will offer access to font rendering and the OpenGL primitives, and a non-trivial number of the biggest websites will eventually implement their own renderers. I say "a" future because the current web rendering system will be around to the end of my prognostication powers. But I suspect this bypassing of the "legacy" renderer is also ultimately inevitable. Give it about 5 years or so.


I spent nearly six years homeless. I ate at soup kitchens and got food from food banks for a small portion of that time.

I grew up with a garden in the back yard. My dad hunted and some of the meat on our table was squirrel and deer he killed. My mother cooked from scratch.

I'm used to eating well for relatively little money. Most of the food at soup kitchens and food pantries fails to meet my expectations for food quality.

Food stamps (EBT) are a good program. You can use them to buy the same food from the same stores as anybody else and you get to decide what to spend it on. (Though the program could use more funding. They tend to last only 3 weeks of the month.)

Soup kitchens and food pantries tend to suck, even the better ones.

I'm not saying we shouldn't provide compassionate support to anyone. I'm just saying some programs for doing so would be acceptable to people with middle class expectations and some wouldn't be. For many reasons, including germ control, we need to be shooting for programs that fit middle class sensibilities and not act like "beggars can't be choosers."

Furthermore, if you are homeless, you are living without a fridge. Produce doesn't keep well under those conditions. When I was around a lot of other homeless people for a time, it wasn't unusual for free produce to go to waste, in part for that reason. Some idiot would give a homeless person some giant bag of apples. They could eat a few of them before they rotted, but not all of them. Maybe they managed to give the rest away. Maybe they didn't.

Last, I have serious reservations about creating systems to serve the poor instead of creating systems to help them resolve their problems. Systems designed to serve the poor tend to actively keep poverty alive, a la the Shirky Principle:

"Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Shirky#Shirky_principle


Visa-free travel was what made me truly understand what "privilege" means.

Having an Armenian passport and travelling extensively through my life made me very familiar with what the author describes: the months-long waits, the fees, the scramble for documents, the uncertainty, the inability to travel without planning months in advance, the queues, the unpleasant experiences at airports, etc...

Eventually I managed to become an Australian permanent resident, which grants the right to travel to New Zealand without a visa. Some time after, a sudden opportunity came up, and I landed at Auckland airport, having booked my tickets the night before. I handed my completely blank, recently renewed, Armenian passport to the immigration agent (permanent residency is technically a type of visa, there is no "green card", and Australian visas are electronic, not placed as labels in a passport unless requested). He scanned it, stamped it, and handed it back to me, welcoming me to NZ. Took all of 20 seconds.

That whole experience was completely surreal for me, not because it was so different, but because it was so mundane. There was nothing to suggest that this process might be different for some people. Everything about it screamed "this is normal", while my mind screamed the opposite.

That was my first-hand lesson that unless you've ever lacked a certain privilege, it is near-impossible to be innately aware of it. Sure, others may try to educate you and make you aware, but it doesn't convey just how profound of an impact a privilege can have on the lives of those who lack it.


As a child in primary school (in Lesotho, southern Africa): when a teacher left the classroom everyone was supposed to silently complete work. To enforce this, one student would be appointed "name taker". This person would write down the names of anyone who spoke while the teacher was out. Punishment for being on the list was often physical.

One day I was made the name taker while the teacher was out. Most kids stayed quiet, but two other segments emerged: the scycophants and the outlaws.

The sycophants would attempt to "help" me identify noise makers by pointing them out. In exchange they would hope to be safe from the list, and would use that immunity/privilege to lord over other kids.

The outlaws were kids who, once they were added to the list, talked and joked freely, knowing that they were doomed anyway. They felt they were fearless, and they goaded others to join them.

I've always remembered this experience, for how quickly a group of children organized themselves into social dynamics that echoed human systems more generally.


If they don't call themselves Sisyphus Energy they're missing out on a great poetic opportunity.

> In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity.

Its quite an ingenious idea. Could even hollow out a mountain to do this, avoiding the co2 cost of concrete.


There's no doubt that I spent a lot of time on HN, but there have been at least a few times that I've learned of things that directly impact my work first here. Off the top of my head, I knew that Sentry had rolled out hosted instance that were HIPAA-compliant when my team was about to install it and host it internally. That knowledge let us outsource it to them and ultimately save a good deal of time and money.

More often, I'll come across a problem and remember something that I've read that's applicable well enough to at least find it later when I need it.

I consider my time on HN and similar outlets at least partially "professional development."


...and we don't just rely on drug makers, for example, to be moral and take responsibility. We have government agencies that _require_ strict testing of their safety and effectiveness. If we left it up to the market, we would get inferior results. The problem is, we have no FDA equivalent for tech security.

Close - an Ally. It was Gilles at the Royal Army Medical Corps in WW1 who pioneered skin grafts and plastic surgery. He'd done thousands of facial reconstructions by war's end.

He set up a plastic surgery clinic between the wars.

A relative of his, McIndoe, became famous (the better known of the two today) for his work in WW2 for pioneering and inventing many treatments for burn victims. Burns had become a common injury for pilots and aircrew. He formed the Guinea Pig Club for patients and effectively pioneered rehabilitation. He convinced the locals to visit the hospital in Sussex regularly and befriend patients. They organised trips out to the town so they could feel "normal" again (that became so common locals no longer stared), allowing a bar in the hospital, regular clothes or uniforms not PJs and countless other touches. The hospital still specialises in burns and reconstruction.

McIndoe ended up with honours from most of the Allied nations if I remember right.

Edit: More detail

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