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Hacker News comments are assigned reading for UC Berkeley CS 10 course (cs10.org)
103 points by zapoist 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

In particular, the syllabus links to this HN discussion:

Algorithms Are Great and All, but They Can Also Ruin Lives (wired.com)


...that is thankfully three years ago, modest enough (compared to what HN has become in recent years sigh) and no longer open for further comments.

I am thoroughly impressed by the number of people involved in this class. I teach a class at a large European research university and it is the professor plus two TAs, nobody else. That is a difference tuition and funding can make. You get what you pay for.

Edit: forgot to mention that there are 460 students registered for the exam. They wonder why we don’t have them write papers...

What's ironic about your statement is that there are many in the US that clamor for "free" university education for "everyone" -- citing how it's done in Europe. However, like everything, there are tradeoffs and unintended consequences that go beyond the simplistic thoughts of the politically and economically naïve. The University of California system, in my amateur opinion is extremely good. In fact, the state university systems in most US states are all of pretty good quality. I spent a bit of time living near the University of Avignon (France) and, compared to a typical American community college, I was very suprised at how deficient the French university was. In France, university is "free" but as you said, you get what you pay for. Of course, there are exceptional European universities and there are terrible American universities, but overall, American university systems seem to be much better than the equivalent in "free" university countries.

> Of course, there are exceptional European universities and there are terrible American universities, but overall, American university systems seem to be much better than the equivalent in "free" university countries.

I personally think that the typical German university is better than the typical US one, but it is a very different system: In Germany you are very much on your own when you are studying. This teaches you a lot about self-discipline, which employers love. On the other hand, if you are a person who needs a lot of handholding, German universities are probably not for you. In my opinion being able to study mostly for free is more than worth the lack of handholding, but as I said: This system is not for everybody.

I agree 100%. The US university system treats the students as kindergarten.

> I spent a bit of time living near the University of Avignon (France) and, compared to a typical American community college, I was very suprised at how deficient the French university was.

There are two co-existing systems in France. Universities and "Grandes Ecoles". The latter are more selective and usually have more fundings.

They have really a lot of assistants! For comparison, this term I'll be a LA at the largest Swiss university in a class of ~140 students, we are 1 prof 2 TAs and 4 LAs and we give twice as much homework. Having taken that class myself, I really don't see why we would need more LAs. Unless you want to go the one-on-one hand holding route, also it's not a funding issue, since LAs are basically free. This is probably more due to a difference between the US and European teaching philosophy.

This getting upvoted and rising toward the top of HN reminds me of Hesse writing about academic/intellectual elites and winning the Nobel prize for it. Magister Ludi wasn’t his best novel, but it was the one that felt most self-gratifying for the voting body.

Humans tend to regard as ‘right’/of-value/impressive that which validates their own perspective, sometimes shamelessly.

You are right, yet, I believe there's a lot of wisdom and value in the comments here. Quite often I tend to read the commends before the articles/posts themselves.

reminds me of this: http://danluu.com/hn-comments/

Which reminds me of the Devil's Dictionary's definition of admiration:

  Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

See also "oscar bait"

>Oscar bait films are theatrical, a word which here means “keeps reminding you that you’re [in] the audience.” So don’t be fooled when the panegyrics pour out over a Spielberg flick about a dog that sniffed out its owner’s cancer and then flew to D.C. to campaign for healthcare reform. The actors are side characters, background dancers. The hero is the camera. It’s the one with the character growth, guilt and redemption, it’s the one for whom the score sings. Which means the hero is…

Out of interest (and having only read Siddhartha and The Glass-Bead Game), what would you say was his best novel?

I think, in a meta sense, that this comment feels also really gratifying to read, there goes my upvote.

I always like to joke to people that if they want to learn something, anything at all, all they have to do is take a free class at YouTube university. I’ll have to add HN comments to my joke!

(And yes, as a former tech worker with no professional coding experience can vouch I’ve learned a TON here.)

Just make sure you don't mix them up, I don't wish learning from YouTube comments even on my worst enemies.

That'd have become the latest version Microsoft Tay!

Although today, well, yeah you can pretty much learn anything online and with ebooks if you have the focus and drive.

Making HN comments assigned reading without also adding http://n-gate.com would sound quite irresponsible, if it were more than the one specific thread the article refers to.

http://n-gate.com/hackernews/ This is pure gold !

> Tesla finally launches a product as advertised. Hackernews, based on Youtube videos, reverse-engineers a spacecraft down to the metallurgical level and then sagely debates the maintenance characteristics of an aircraft that exited service before any of them learned to read and none of them have seen in operation, mostly derived from blog posts by people they're pretty sure knew a guy.

I think even though n-gate provides another perspective on HN comments, some of it just a hateful rant that doesn't add any values itself.

I remember chuckled reading n-gate, until I read a rant about Monica[1] on n-gate. Monica, i think, is an awesome app to keep in touch with your best friends and family. N-gate said it's just an app that makes you creepy because you stalk your family and your best friend. Can't find the n-gate link though.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14497295

>N-gate said it's just an app that makes you creepy because you stalk your family and your best friend.

It's not just n-gate, I think Monica is creepy as all hell. Keeping in touch with my best friends and family is texting, chatting, and calling each other once in a while. Putting them on a "CRM to manage" is like using LinkedIn for my personal life.

I don't get this whole 'creepy' thing. I remember chat was creepy. I remember interacting with any stranger on the 'world wide web' was creepy. And then of course we had 'weird' (which usually just meant creepy without direct social implications), which applied to us nerds having a digital calendar and a pocket computer.

Almost everyone I know uses tech to augment their relationships, whether by keeping a gift list, putting birthdays on their calendar, checking friends' fb feeds, etc., and while I perfectly understand discussions about the (negative) consequences of all this, it really irks me how there's some kind of magical 'line', obviously right where the deemer deems it to be, beyond which something is creepy.

On a more personal note: for people like me, the help of tech, including something like Monica, can really have a positive effect on the relationships I have. Chat, gaming forums, and places like here offer me a degree of social interaction that has no real world equivalent. Gaming basically saved my life, back in my lonely teen years. And yet throughout my life I've often felt vaguely or outright ashamed about all this, because of people calling these things creepy for, what appears to me, no reason other than that it is different from what they know.

Let's not forget 'coffee shops' and 'books' were going to be the end of our society too!

Obligatory upvote. I actually had never heard of n-gate and now, I feel, as if I can waste time more efficiently and humorously than ever before. I agree though, n-gate ought to be required reading!

Yep, I always enjoy the fresh bucket of cold water it delivers to my face. And it often highlights facets that get left out.

I don't see why. n-gate sometimes makes reasonable points, but not usually. Even when it does make a good point it is rarely of any help to anyone who wants to learn about something concrete like algorithms.

Oh yes, n gate is pretty awesome! Any clue who runs it?

Secret Unix tip:

    $ whois n-gate.com
(where “$” is your shell prompt)

the owner is not visible in the WHOIS info

Actually, he is.

Then the whois info for a given domain must vary from region to region. Here is what I see:

$ whois n-gate.com Domain Name: N-GATE.COM Registry Domain ID: 3552897_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.gandi.net Registrar URL: http://www.gandi.net Updated Date: 2017-12-30T01:40:58Z Creation Date: 1995-05-21T04:00:00Z Registry Expiry Date: 2018-05-22T04:00:00Z Registrar: Gandi SAS Registrar IANA ID: 81 Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@support.gandi.net Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +33.170377661 Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited Name Server: A.NS.SCIOPS.NET Name Server: D.NS.BUDDYNS.COM Name Server: E.NS.BUDDYNS.COM DNSSEC: unsigned URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form: https://www.icann.org/wicf/ >>> Last update of whois database: 2018-02-12T21:55:31Z <<<


Interesting, I also see some additional details.

This Internet thanks you for the reminder!

Wow, this is fucking great!!! thx

is it me or others also see that CAPTCHA and "loading" thing on main page?

You know there are people who don't like the HN hivemind, yes? "Hacker News is an echo chamber focusing on computer posturing and self-aggrandizement." and "Hacker News is the Slashdot for the smug classes".

For the most part I think they are right, though obviously I am still here. I think that says something about me.

Some of these people do things like do a redirect based on the referer.

Try following one of the links at https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=jwz.org . Done because "Hacker News is a steaming cesspool and I don't have time or desire to deal with their bandwidth demands, so I just block them."

It’s weird to call Hacker News a hive mind when all I see is people arguing with each other.

Have you ever watched US political shows? It seems like the inside-the-Beltway hivemind loves to argue with each other too.

Never known people who like to argue with each other for the sake of argument?

Ok... I guess I have to let out the secret. Open in incognito. After reading, you will realize this is purposeful trap to keep "Hacknews" out :).

If you delete the “/_security_check/” part from the URL, you get to the site proper. Maybe it's a reaction to a steep surge in requests.

Edit: Or, as another comment proposes, it could in fact be due to the referrer, and we're being had.

I think its a joke.

They are using snap! an apparent derivative of Scratch. Seriously?

The course sounds exactly like my six graders middle school course. Well the six graders did read Hacker News, so I guess that is what makes it a College Level EE course (eyes roll).

Scratch is a good introduction to programming concepts, regardless of age. How fortunate for your sixth grader; if such courses were common in earlier grades, a course like this could start with more challenging material.

This is not an EE class, it's an intro CS class, one that's not for those with prior knowledge who know they'll choose CS as a major. This kind of course can get new people interested, those who didn't think they'd like or could do CS. Even if they don't major in it, by taking this one course, they know more about an important part of what makes our world work.

CS50 at Harvard College [0] is also a very large, popular course that gets more people interested in CS as a major but is also useful to those who don't take another class. It also starts with Scratch though it switches to other languages very quickly and appears more challenging overall than this course.

[0] https://cs50.harvard.edu

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