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How to not fuck up your manufacturing startup (johnnybowman.org)
297 points by johnnybowman on Dec 5, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

So wild! Such a surprise to find this on the front page of Hacker News. If it weren't for the author's username, I might have missed this gem.

I had worked at Edenworks as a software engineer for a few years, alongside Johnny. I don't pretend to know enough to speak on manufacturing itself, but Johnny's remarks on software development are spot-on.

When I had come onboard, I had naively suspected a typical software startup experience; rampant technophilia with an obsession for integrating the freshest software technologies. If 'Software is King' is true everywhere else, why shouldn't it be true here?

Edenworks is not a software startup, however, and it's important to realize that. Manufacturing is an entirely different beast, which makes steady, deliberate movements (i.e. it doesn't move fast, and it shouldn't break things). When the main product being developed is a tangible system, redos are way more costly. Adding flashy software features does not expedite this; lashing the latest and greatest Javascript library onto the fronted does not add value... not reliable value anyways.

When it comes to developing a manufacturing process, software should be flexible and let the process demands come first. The typical workload is more concerned with running test trials than hacking up something new.

For me, this realization was more emotional than organizational - sometimes you have to curb your hype. To add real value to the product, I had to watch my ego. In a manufacturing company, the Process is King.

When the main product being developed is a tangible system, redos are way more costly.

Even when primarily doing software, this can come into play.

I know of a customer who had about 5000 card readers in an access control system, where bugs in the card reader firmware required a firmware update. Doing this required walking to a reader, unmounting it from the wall, updating the firmware, re-mounting the reader. Rinse and repeat 5000 times.

A rough estimate is that upgrading all the readers on the site took about a man-year of technicians walking around updating things. Let's just say that when more bugs were discovered, the customer who paid for it all was less than pleased…

Lesson learned: always make secure remote firmware updates possible on your devices.

> Lesson learned: always make secure remote firmware updates possible on your devices.

Lesson apparently not learned: get it right first time.

Software isn't special


Software IS special. Compared to hardware, software is (usually) so easy to update that it's (usually) cost effective to not do it right the first time. NASA etc is different, and they work differently.

Everyone knows this and act accordingly - which is why we have to live with ever changing requirements for projects.

Er, but the case study you linked is very different.

There they're talking about getting specific tailored treatment right the first time.

Here we're talking about getting a generic reusable component right the first time.

Which is exactly what that link advocates against...

This is only because the electrical and mechanical engineering realms have been resistant to change. There are rapid prototyping techniques that can be used to improve the hardware side, and so much of the latest systems are built largely in software anyway. There are still hardware shops debating whether or not source control is a good idea, "we tried CVS once, it didn't work."

The quality of a system is a direct function of the speed of the testing cycle. To argue "slow, methodical, reasoning" is to argue against quality.

Although my main gig is software, I've also been manufacturing electronic music gadgets for 15 years. The most significant difference in thinking for me was, for hardware, always keeping in mind "this item is being shipped across the world, must work perfectly upon arrival and for hopefully a long time after that, and is almost impossible to update without the customer incurring hassle or the company incurring expenses". Contrast that to software where problems are generally easily able to be fixed and - most importantly - can be updated almost instantly.

Especially after some recently problems with my hardware business that necessitated the return of some units for repair, and the hold-up of manufacturing while we worked out what was wrong, I've come to realise that the easily-updateable nature of modern day software really gives us such power and flexibility, it should never be taken for granted.

"All of these things take time away from getting shit out the door, but they ensure you don’t get fucked. In manufacturing, you optimize for not getting fucked." The language is a giveaway he has been involved in manufacturing

The startup mentioned is an urban indoor farm for lettuce. As a manufacturing process, it's a good case. One product. Few changes. No need to retool for the 2017 Lettuce. Few operations. (In a manufacturing plant, an "operation" is one step in the process.) This is the best case for classic mechanization. You just need to do the same thing over and over while holding the process parameters within tolerance, and do it cheaply.

This indoor farm, EdenWorks, has a nearby competitor, AeroFarms, in Newark.[1] AeroFarms claims to be much bigger, and claims a new patented technology for growing plants on a cloth substrate made from recycled plastic bottles, with the plant roots in a nutrient-enriched spray mist instead of water or soil. (AeroFarms may be exaggerating how far along they are. See Google StreetView.[2]) Welcome to manufacturing, where it's about volume and price.

[1] http://aerofarms.com/ [2] https://goo.gl/maps/amxpekwPEGr

>> "...No need to retool for the 2017 Lettuce."

These indoor farm outfits have nothing to do with lettuce. There's a reason they're building them in/around NYC, aka in the densest concentration of pot smokers the world has ever seen, far from Humboldt county's fields and Colorado's manual hydroponics.

The business model is just to get the automation figured out with some low-value crop, e.g. salad greens, while waiting for the legislature to decriminalize. The day Albany finally comes around to the idea, they'll retool for sticky green weed faster than you can pin up a Bob Marley poster.

It'll take them about fifteen minutes after the governor's signature dries to get the first pot plants started. The economics could not possibly work out for lettuce alone.

Do you think this explains the reports of Toshiba [1] Fujitsu and Olympus [2] growing lettuce in clean rooms? I was under the impression that weed legalisation was low on the political agenda in Japan.

It might be that these producers expect higher human-labour costs, making automation more profitable - such as due to rising nationalism reducing the supply of cheap migrant labour.

[1] http://qz.com/295936/toshibas-high-tech-grow-rooms-are-churn... [2] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/13/national/science...

Japan is a different situation. There is very little arable farmland left underutilized in Japan. There are millions of acres of farmland sitting dormant in the USA.

> There are millions of acres of farmland sitting dormant in the USA.

However in the higher energy cost future the production, processing, and distribution of that farm product to a far away base of consumers is not viable. The various direct and indirect subsidies and availability of relatively cheap fuel, which is itself subsidized, make it possible to get fresh foods to urban consumers. It seems like a smart play to plan for arcologies or reuse of decayed urban cores around food production.

> distribution of that farm product to a far away base of consumers is not viable

Can you source this? My understanding of academic research in this area was that the energy used for artificial lighting by far outweighs the energy used for production and transportation for conventional produce.

Eg: If you're interested in climate impact or energy use, warehouse farms burn significantly more coal to keep the lights on, and the divide can be expected to expand as LED efficiency is already extremely high, while there are gains every year in lowering the energy usage in transportation.

Cornell Dept. of Horticulture has a good video on this here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrpyUA1pQqE

Who said they needed to exclusively use artificial lighting? They do have the sun over there, right?

Well, the original article was about growing inside a warehouse - hence no sun.

They could ofc use green houses. However, if you've ever seen a modern industrial green house after dark, you can see how they would be unlikely to get a permit for a large operation. The light pollution from these things can be seen lighting the sky above them from miles away, they are like miniature suns. Imagine having one outside your apartment :)

As I understand it, the whole aim of agriculture is reduced energy per unit output. The reason some US farmland lies dormant is, its slightly less productive per unit effort.

Further, any other high-tech food solution (electric boxes that grow lettuce under lights etc) is more energy-expensive. Can't bean letting Mother Nature do all the work, and just driving by later and picking up the food.

Also there is a surfeit of farmland (read: food production) in the US. Iowa produces enough calories to feed 2 United States all by itself. The feds pay to leave 10% of Iowa fallow. Not as a soil-conservation effort (though that is a result) but instead to control supply. Which is yards cheaper than trying to support prices. So that's part of it too.

There are a bunch of complicating factors here, though.

The first is that fallowing isn't exactly equivalent to supply control. It's partially an inertial, special-interests effect, and partially an attempt to maintain high productive capacity for bad seasons - food is vital, and has a long production cycle, so funding unused capacity is a sensible hedge against bad conditions.

The second is that nature works almost as hard to kill crops as it does to keep them alive. Indoor/greenhouse farming solves the problems of insects, frost, drought, and heat at a stroke. Hydroponic farming roughly solves soil depletion (and fertilizer runoff) issues, and relocating to the northeast circumvents water shortages. That last point is particularly significant - a lot of arable land in the western US lacks the water rights needed to farm it cost-effectively.

I agree that the fundamental economics of indoor, semi-urban lettuce farming are laughable for bulk products. No one is going to outprice Iowa on corn, and I doubt lettuce - even avoiding transport costs - is cost-effective without a lot of specialty markups. My first guess is that this is "pesticide free, sustainable, locally grown lettuce" being sold out of season to people who pay extra for those traits. Even so, indoor farming does have some traits to recommend it when dealing in crops less fundamental than grain.

> Further, any other high-tech food solution (electric boxes that grow lettuce under lights etc) is more energy-expensive. Can't bean letting Mother Nature do all the work, and just driving by later and picking up the food.

I like the simplicity of that description-- which might be true for grains, where huge tractors and combines can roll through the fields-- but glosses over all the work done on a farm for other products. It also ignores that there are significant risks to letting Mother Nature take her course where as indoor farming can control light cycle and intensity, watering and humidity, CO2 level, temperature, and (probably) greatly increase density while (maybe) minimizing pest control and herbicides.

Economies of scale are hard to beat. The whole point of agricultural science for a century is reducing costs per yield. One farmer and 1000 acres are going to beat any room full of indoor-farming boxes and controls, right?

Field applications are really very cheap - a few dollars 'cides per acre total. And yield 10K's of kilos of product.

Growing ganja is a very different thing to growing lettuce. It takes much longer, there's a lot more considerations around lighting and temperature and the physical size of the crop is vastly different. Harvesting is a totally different process, too.

I'm sure some of the stuff learned doing this would be useful, but why not just start an actual robot ganja farm in Colorado now and get growing?

Because it's not legal in all the states between NY and CO. Crossing state lines opens them up to trouble with the Feds.

Lettuce production seems to have very little overlap with growing weed: Lettuce grows to a few inches, racks tooled to the height of lettuce wouldn't fit hemp. Hemp has big root systems, it won't grow in tiny little cup mediums like lettuce will, it needs lots of space, mandating a different hydroponic approach than lettuce does.

Tomatoes, specifically determinate tomatoes, expect almost the same nutrient mix as hemp, has the same size root systems and grows to about the same height. Harvesting is also similar.

Hence: If they were planning to retool for weed, why are they building manufacturing capability for a completely different kind of production?

Yes, I've wondered about all the interest in lettuce and kale. I'd expect more interest in growing higher-value seasonal crops such as blueberries or strawberries.

Lettuce can be grown at full blast and harvested in a month. For seasonal fruits there has to either be a way to trick the plant into skipping the dormant period or a dormant period.

The marijuana thing doesn't make a lot of sense to me, it's not fragile and has relatively high value compared to the cost of shipping.

It won't be legal in all the states between NY and wherever you grow it. And transporting it across state lines opens you up to interdiction/legal trouble from the Feds. That's why they have to grow it near the consumers.

Yeah, I overlooked that, good point.

The marijuana thing shouldn't make sense, you're right - intensive lettuce growing systems don't translate to hemp well at all. Height, root structure, nutrient needs, schedule, and practically everything else vary and mess up your structure.

As other people here have pointed out, they really are growing lettuce. If they wanted to be ready to switch to hemp, they'd be using a closer analogue like tomatoes.

I think if they were planning for pot, they'd move to Massachusetts now. Our state legislature is trying to delay implementation, but we did pass the ballot measure legalizing home growth and recreational consumption of marijuana.

We toured a hydroponic lettuce farm when we stayed in the South Island here in NZ recently. Pretty low tech, staffed by a small cadre of minimum wage people.

My first thoughts about this article were just as you say - how can that pay off?

Now I get it.

The devil's lettuce!

leans into mic .... wrong

Google Streetview sometimes shows photos that are a year or more out of date, FYI.

While true in general, you can see the date. In this case, it's from August 2016.

From the article: "A good, defensible manufacturing strategy is one where you’re applying and protecting (ideally via patent) a faster, cheaper, more reliable way of doing something in your industry, by borrowing a proven approach from a parallel industry."

If you're looking for a formalized system designed to help with some of this, take a look at TRIZ[1][2]. I'll just steal one note from the "What Is TRIZ" article - "Somebody someplace has already solved this problem (or one very similar to it.) Creativity is now finding that solution and adapting it to this particular problem."

A big part of the basic tooling for TRIZ is the results of people going through a huge mass of patents looking for patterns of problem categories and how they were solved.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIZ [2] https://triz-journal.com/triz-what-is-triz/

I read the wikipedia page and that "what is TRIZ" article, and I still don't understand what it is. At times, it sounds like an automated program (especially with statements like "More than three million patents have been analyzed to discover the patterns that predict breakthrough solutions to problems"). But at other points, it seems like a human-centric problem solving strategy, but without the strategy. It describes problems and then solutions without any discussion of the in-between.

Do you have experience with TRIZ? What "is it" to you?

They teach you this stuff in product design classes.

TRIZ is a way of breaking down an engineering design problem into the thing you want to change, and the thing you can't change (a "contradiction"), then resolving it. A "TRIZ Matrix" is a reference tool that suggests ways of resolving conflicts between common design parameters (strength, weight, durability, manufacturing tolerance, etc.) based on a number of principles that have been validated over the years, like "nesting" or "prior action". Over the years, 40 standard principles (and 39 parameters) have emerged. They all have somewhat cryptic, consultant-handbooky names but make sense when you see some examples[1].

E.g., you have a beam and you want to make it stronger, but can't make it any thicker. You consult your matrix for "strength" vs "area" and get some suggestions such as "use composite materials". Or, applying the principle more generally, you try to extract techniques from the patent library or publications that resolve the problem.

[1]: https://www.triz.co.uk/files/triz_40_inventive_principles_wi...

This reminds me of Brian Eno's "oblique strategies".

Thank you, this explanation made a lot more sense to me.

I had some exposure to it and a few classes more than a decade ago now, but it didn't really end up being anything that was a good fit for me and I never got into the group of folks trying to do TRIZ for software development.

Probably in part because of the background of the creator and the problem datasets used for the traditional contradiction matrix it always seemed to me to be a better fit for manufacturing and physical goods.

The "Interactive Contradiction Matrix Beta" linked at the top of the TRIZ Journal site may be worth looking at, but it's kind of cryptic. Basically you pick out a few areas of concern - as an example I picked (on both axes) 1: Weight of Moving Object, 9: Speed, 15: Duration of Action of Moving Object, and 27: Reliability. Based on that, the recommended areas that I should be looking at for possible improvement potential would be 35: Parameter Changes (turns up 6 times), 3: Local Quality (5 times), several others at 4 times, etc. Hitting the Analyze button on that tool will give expandable examples for the various areas - for example "Parameter changes" includes a lot of changes to temperature, state (solid/liquid/gas) and consistency. An example might be making liquid-filled chocolates - do you have to fill the chocolates? Can you have frozen chunks of filling that you coat with chocolate instead?

In your opinion, is manufacturing in general one field where patents are a net positive (to innovation, economic efficiency, etc.)?

If so, do you think it's because manufacturing is a more well-defined and mature field than software engineering?

"Figure out software after everything else" I also work at a manufacturing startup (https://markforged.com) and I disagree.

Manufacturing is ancient. Software as a field has been around for 45 years (give or take). If you're not working at a pure software company, the software for your particular field is probably in its infancy.

If you're looking to innovate, it is orders of magnitude more fruitful to look to the software improvements which can be made to your technology because orders of magnitude fewer man-hours have been spent by humans so far solving those problems.

"In indoor farming, we see a lot of competition focus on how data will drive yield increases, yet they haven’t figured out how to regulate air temperature in their facility." I have to assume that these competitors are looking for the innovations that will make them 10x more competitive. Startups are dead by default. Innovation is the only way to survive.

I don't know if I agree. Software is a pain to write well, especially for a process that's not yet understood.

A simple example from my personal life is writing down exercises I do at the gym. I was surprised by how many different type of exercises there are. At first it was just "lat pull down, 80 pounds, 3 sets, 10 reps". Then I tracked different manufacturers, to stay on top of machine differences. Then I started tracking number of attempted reps, along with reps at lower weight. Then I made a note for weights per arm, for machines with independent weights on each side. Then I took into account the base weight for the bar. I could add features forever.

To manage the complexity, I started looking at software to help. I decided to scrap the idea of building software in favor of writing exercises on a sticky note I stuck to my wallet, and later migrating the data to a "good enough" spreadsheet.

Software is meant to serve us. If you let it take over, it will. Manufacturing benefits from software in places, but sometimes a pen, sticky, and spreadsheet is all you really need, and if you outgrow it, you'll understand exactly how software can help.

My uncle and 101 year old grandfather make machine parts in a shop with a bunch of old school analog stuff. They have a computer for a milling machine. It all works great.

I think there's some truth in both perspectives, and the balance of process vs. software improvement comes down to how aggressively you need to compete on price. On cheaper stuff where prices is a bigger determining factor, it makes sense to me to focus on process and driving down cost. For markets where that's less of an issue, software innovation is the way to go. The Here One headphones [1] seem like they manage the balance pretty well. The Onyx One is super cool by the way.

1: https://hereplus.me/

Your post made me think of an old Joel on software post where they wrote some access thingy to print customs labels.


How many companies hired temps to fill out forms for these types of tasks? Plenty I'm sure!

In general, it's hard for me to agree with that too. I can remember a few times where the hardware side of things was done decently (or at least at a level I could put up with) but the software side was shit and felt like a necessary evil, an afterthought, a forgotten checkmark on a todo list that needed to be taken care of.

Belkin WeMo comes to my mind as a prime example as their app is slow and buggy. Philips Hue lightbulbs I've bought my for parents last christmas can be another one - lightbulbs themselves look and work nice but the software is (imho of course) buggy, unintuitive and incomprehensible.

You're talking about consumer-facing software though. There's no app for "lettuce".

I disagree with you - Figure out your process and automate with software.

Your software will only be as good as your process. There are mid-market ERPs that are 30 years old or more (specifically, Dynamics NAV comes to mind). These software solutions implement the processes that have been honed by humans for more than a thousand years. It is much easier to innovate elsewhere. I am curious which specific ERP packages you have found to be innovative.

I find it's easier to improve your process when it's in software form than not. Software development should absolutely be an iterative process, but prototyping in software and then continuously improving works a lot better than trying to design in non-software, IME.

> I disagree with you - Figure out your process and automate with software.

When I read this an instant thought was the software you develop is also a constraint on your process. Really easy to paint yourself into a corner.

Saying that NAV is 30 years old is like saying Unix is almost 50 years old - while true in one sense it is missing the fact that these systems have been in constant development since then.

Perhaps the commenter meant the software that runs on the product (if it's a product that runs software)?

If that is the case, I find it hard to disagree with the comment then.

Figuring out the process is a complex task. A complex task that (imo) is very likely to be solved better by some sort of AI approach than human tinkering. That's where I see software innovation in production. Having an efficient lab/simulation toolkit where you can constantly improve your processes (probably a human/computer hybrid).

> A complex task that (imo) is very likely to be solved better by some sort of AI approach than human tinkering.

Citation extremely needed.

Automated Taylorism is going to be the bane of our lives. The non-AI version of "gamification" and endless metrics is bad enough.

I'm not sure that the actual manufacturing processes are that amenable to the application of AI as they are typically dictated by the actual physical work being done. However, scheduling and, in some environments, pricing in ERP systems can benefit from more advanced techniques though not sure that the ones I have seen would qualify as "AI".

Well, you are arguing for being as much as a software company as possible, by choosing the right problems will minimize risk. I don't think anybody disagrees.

But once you've decided you must customize some hardware (or even distribute it), the article is claiming that the software is the last thing on your entire solution that you should work on. You should get everything else right first.

I don't think those contradict each other.

Process as competitive advantage is an ace point. Most companies fail from mismanagement.

Competitor teardowns is another good one, but what information do you use for that? How do you determine who their suppliers are?

It depends what you're manufacturing, but the obvious answer is probably either

• visit their website

• buying their product and looking it up the parts online

• talk to your vendors

For the last one, this is particularly relevant if you're buying in a market with few suppliers.

agreed and also trade shows. Simply asking "who are you a supplier for in Industry X" is surprisingly fruitful.

I was part of the founding team of a power electronics startup. We constantly tore down our competitors' products to estimate their costs, to see how they corrected design flaws between releases, and also to understand which component suppliers they chose to include (this is a proxy for passing their reliability testing).

Very interesting read, especially since I had a production management focus at university that I've only partly used so far (when developing ERP software not when running my own company).

"""A good, defensible manufacturing strategy is one where you’re applying and protecting (ideally via patent) a faster, cheaper, more reliable way of doing something in your industry, by borrowing a proven approach from a parallel industry."""

I very strongly disagree with this and find the thought process very unnatural. Patenting something you copied almost feels like it's against human nature to me. Humans essentially learn via copy and improve. Thankfully business practice patents are not valid in some countries.

I also disagree with the thoughts on not focusing on software or at least think the author undervalues the potential role software can play. I think some of the major problems in production management are very ripe for algorithmic innovations. Plant layout planning and job scheduling (basically most operations research) seem very suitable to AI/learning based approaches. Non trivial simulations are also very important for well run production companies (anecdotally, from the ERP development experience).

> Patenting something you _ copied _ ...

Strawman. That's not what your OP's quote says.

The OP describes competition teardown and learning from what they do, essentially reverse engineering their processes and also applying things from other domains to your own domains. I think seeking patent protection for your own processes when you actively recommend tearing down processes of your competition is a bit odd.

"""borrowing a proven approach from a parallel industry"""

I've translated that to copy+improve. I mean what if that approach was patent protected? How would you go about borrowing that proven approach?

>I've translated that to copy+improve. I mean what if that approach was patent protected? How would you go about borrowing that proven approach?

That's why he talks about borrowing it from ANOTHER domain, where even if its patented, it doesn't apply to yours.

Putting aside for a moment the author's experience, our own experience at http://8-food.com/ has been somewhat similar in its difference from conventional startupry but quite distinct in its apparent relationship to conventional manufacturing.

We are producing a series of vending-machine-like service locations which automatically prepare and retail hot meals from fresh ingredients. We have of course the manufacturing process for these machines to keep in mind, but in addition the machines themselves are essentially miniature factories and so all of the theory, literature and best practices of the manufacturing economy proper apply - albeit scaled down in time, space and (usually!) cost - to our machines.

So far it has been very interesting to read the literature of other engineering disciplines and to translate concepts between them and our experience in software. Thus far I believe there are some great processes that software can teach manufacturing, but also vice versa.

"It’s easy to find new ways to make shit more complicated. It’s hard to find new ways to make shit simpler. "

Applies to software just as well :)

I go for the "reverse watchmaker", referencing this: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2344

You want, in priority order: 1) The least interactions 2) The simplest interactions 3) The simplest components

its just a general life lesson.

"Everything shoukd be made to be as simple as possible, but no simpler." -einstein

this shouldn't detract from the complexities of manufacturing vs software

Do you find merging the software and process/manufacturing side of things to be advantageous? I'm a process/chemical engineer getting into software and am wondering if it's worth splitting time.

In this order:

1) Product (will people buy it?)

2) Process (can you scale it?)

3) Software (now scale it)

It's always nice to see hardware/not-SaaS content on here.

Yeah, the main difference is that in the Software world companies like google make products in beta form and use their customers as testers. They could improve the product "on the fly".

On the other hand in manufacturing having a big recall for a defective or incomplete product usually means "instant bankruptcy".

Even big companies like Samsung(Galaxy recall) or Volkswagen(Dieselgate) or BP(Deepwater oil spill) have to suffer immense loses from "moving fast and breaking things".

The reason this works for Google but not for manufacturers is because manipulating and transporting electrons is many orders is magnitude cheaper than for atoms.

having been through a number of tech businesses who do manufacturing... ( https://www.taitradio.com http://www.compacsort.com and now http://www.outpostcentral.com ) the key thing to me is how fast you can innovate which is all about how quick you can try ideas. As a startup, contract manufacture as much as possible so you can scale your production up and down. Definitely focus on your processes, kill bad product lines as quick as possible. Spend the time on making things robust, keep things as simple as possible as long as possible. Sell and promote your brand as much as possible.

.... and you are going to fuck things up anyways. But hopefully not in a terminal way. Some fuckups are learning opportunities, some fuckups are because you don't learn the right things from previous "learning opportunities".

Hi Johnny! Great to see you on HN... and great article about some of the challenges with manufacturing!

Hi Kyle!

He forgot to mention: Big clients with aggressive legal stange who promise millions then strangle and cancel the contract you had with them when you've sunk 1000s or hours into R&D.

A lesson from history and geopolitics: Never trust more powerful entities.

Does anyone else get turned off by the needless vulgarity?

I wish HN wouldn't use this language in its headlines. It means I can't read it when my little kids are nearby.

You will then have to shut down the whole world around them, because it's not going to become polite any time soon. Or just, you know, teach them how to deal with it instead.

You could use an extension that swaps out swear words for alternatives like "fudge". One of my coworkers used one.

Thanks, that's great idea. Will check it out.

you could raise them to deal with this kind of language from day 1, we do this in germany and it works out fine. Swearing is just an rhetorical device that's appropriate in some situations and not appropriate in others, like calling somebody by their last vs by their first name. I have never understood the americans obsession with swearing (I am just guessing, sry if your not an american).

Thanks for the idea. I've considered it.

Unfortunately, some of my kids have a propensity for repeating what they read/hear, without consideration for our rules regarding coarse language. So it wouldn't work well in my case.

As far as it being "just a[n] rhetorical device", I think we probably have difference in values, which I don't think can be fruitfully discussed in this forum.

i think i have to apologise a bit, i might have posted the comment without thinking to much about it.

the step "just a[n] rhetorical device" -> "just raising it" is quite natural, but if you don't agree to the premise the next step does not make sense, then it's not just something your kids have to learn to only use in appropirate situations and how to detect them.

Any need for the F word?

Oh for fuck's sake, stop it.

c'mon, give him a fucking break.

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