Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
So Far, So Good (hintjens.com)
162 points by okket on May 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments



Backstory: Pieter Hintjens, Belgian software developer and Free Software advocate, diagnosed with terminal cancer, continues to muse on chemo, technology, life, and what odd stray bits of writing do or don't go viral.

And he's chanced upon a Chinese manufacturing practice, Shanzhai, which incorporates the anti-patent concepts he's long fought for.

(My Pocket entry for this blog post has a curious set of associated tags.)


I remember the chemo and it was exactly like this. 5 days of shit every 2 weeks, and a slow tumble up the next 9 days, waiting for the new round.

I got the luck to have a "gentle" lymphoma, but the chemo is hard nonetheless. My 2 last rounds, I couldn't bend down to grab a pan without sweating, starting to tremble and having difficulty breathing.

Let's hope that he gets all the love he needs to pass through gently.


Chemo is fucking miserable. Somehow, pure stubborn cussedness and youth, I guess, I willed myself to play high school basketball through my 12 weeks of lymphoma treatments, even driving two hours, getting shot full of nitrogen mustard, riding another two hours home and then scoring ten points with eight rebounds in a game that night. How the hell, I don't know... Should have gotten ESPN on the phone...

Running windsprints at 51% of normal red blood cell count is probably the stupidest, most painful, thing I've ever done.

Best of luck to him


yes, exactly... My girlfriend went through about 2-3 days of 'suck' and then it was ok for a few days (although her cancer was different (colon). The chemo was brutal.. She swears that she'll never do it again, but she's been 'ok' for over 5 years so hopefully she'll never have to make that shitty decision... but she's not scared... of anything. You're probably not either.


There is sort of a queer feeling about watching somebody blog their final days. I can't quite describe it--not quite macabre, not quite humorous, not quite amazement.

It's sort of one of those synthetic colors, the ones that you never see in reality but recognize instantly if exposed to them.


I consider it inspiring, but tinged with sadness. I don't know Pieter Hintjens, but I still hate to see that he's dying, knowing what it will mean for his wife, children, etc. And he's "one of us" as well. But, the flip-side is that he's displaying great courage and spirit in choosing to continue doing the thing that matter to him, apparently right up to the end. There's something to be said for nobility in the face of death.


To me it seems very real ... What's the point or posturing or maintaining a facade? I'm going to make a guess that its's liberating in its own way too (why can't I live like this? Oh yeah, office politics).


> I'll describe it briefly. Every firm in this culture publishes their Bills of Materials, and design specs. Any other firm may take these, reuse them, improve them. They must also share back.

> This is why you can buy the same product from a slew of firms on Amazon or Ebay. This is why the price drops smoothly, as predicted by Cost Gravity. No patents and trade secrets to slow down the spread of knowledge. This is why Chinese products haven't just caught up to western designs. They are way, way ahead. My Xiaomi is built of 95% Chinese components. This is why Apple will die.

So who pays for capex like the exact thing Apple is known for, protracted and high-quality R&D?


No one, because in this dystopian vision of zero returns for innovation, the copycats win until they have nothing left to copy, at which point, we're still using something like an Mi5 (which is visibly an iPhone clone) in 10 years. And as for software, it will be rootkits and hacks all the way down.

My friend who manufactures random stuff in Thailand told me that he has a one month lead on China when his company releases a new product, after which copies flood the markets. His competition's labor costs are effectively negligible, and that's compared to Thai labor. Obviously, this is an unsustainable condition, and one day it will be the Chinese who are scrambling to stay ahead of Bangladesh or whoever.


Interesting, as nominal GDP per capita is higher in China than in Thailand.


Yes, things are changing already. Thai average wages are about $400/month, and China are about $300/month. My anecdote is a few years old, and the Baht has fallen vs. the Yuan since then.


So who pays for capex like the exact thing Apple is known for, protracted and high-quality R&D?

Everybody, because it becomes a Red Queen race at some point. You either constantly innovate and create new stuff, or you get left behind. The "fast follower" companies just become part of the ecosystem, like everything else.

It's also important to notice that "newer/better product" is one possible basis for competition, but it's not the only such basis. I mean, there's a reason that people still pay thousands of dollars for Chanel hand-bags or Rolex watches, even though cheap knockoffs exist, that look nearly identical to the untrained eye.


> This is why Apple will die.

Apple, proudly doomed™ and going out of business since 1976


I like very much the fact that this isn't a post about how is his health, but a post about Chinese economy and a distraction-free writing device.


We are born, we suffer a lot, then we die. Make sure to live a life well worth that suffering, and everything else will follow.


The belgian interview he talks about if you're interested: http://www.rtl.be/rtltvi/video/581260.aspx


I hope you get better soon. And thank you for all your contributions: your books, the talk on the one weird trick, the software.


I can understand the sentiments. And I'm not Pieter.

That said, at times the realisation is that you are going to die, that parts of it are going to be awful. And yet there is so much more in life you wish you could have accomplished.

So you do what you can, with the time you have left.

That doesn't just apply to Pieter. It applies to all of us.

So, no, he's not going to get better. He's going to die, fairly soon. But he'll use some of the better parts of tech to do parts of what he'd hoped to do. And I wish him every comfort while that happens, and appreciate his insights.

The Shanzai concept was new to me, but resonates deeply with ideas I've had myself, and is something I've wondered "well, why can't that happen?"

It turns out it is happening.


If you want to read some more about Shanzai, Bunnie's blog is excellent. You can start here: http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=284

http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=147 is also interesting.


Thanks. Queued up.


If I remember right, his cancer is terminal, he doesn't expect to get better, he's just trying to live the time he has left with some dignity. I understand it's hard to face, even the author has struggled with it, but we all have to come to terms with death.


So you do chemo to prolong or for a chance to fix or both ?

Have you tried marijuana to easen the pain?


> So you do chemo to prolong or for a chance to fix or both ?

Chemotherapy is used both curatively and palliatively. Yes, it's often a treatment option to shrink or at least slow down tumors, in order to prolong qualitatively meaningful life (even though the side effects are quite severe).


I didn't downvote your comment, but if you want to understand why it's happening, might be helpful to read this:

http://hintjens.com/blog:115


I asked because I was curious: "I've told mine they can try whatever experimental chemotherapy they wish to." from his post.


Interesting, because he also said this about conversations people have with dying people...

""There's this alternative cure people are talking about," Which gets the ban hammer from me, and happily I only got a few of those. Even if there was a miracle cure, the cost and stress (to others) of seeking it is such a selfish and disproportionate act. With, as we know, lottery-style chances of success. We live, we die."

Perhaps this reaction is somewhat dependant on the circumstances surrounding it (general mood, how it's suggested, etc...).


I think he means "alternative" in the sense of "healing crystals doused in snake oil" and not "experimental chemotherapy"


Yes, and I think his motivation for enduring the experimental chemo is to produce data for science, rather than any hope of personal benefit.

Enlightened dude, staring right back into the eye of death without seeming to flinch.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: