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I love the fact that there are people, who when faced with photographs sent from a robot on mars, will crop out all the bits of image with mars in them, so they can get a better look at the knots used to tie all the cables down. They must have absolutely immaculate sock drawers.

Its hacker news, not daytime television. We don't have to pretend to be boring middle of the road when talking to each other.

What I find fascinating about this story is I've seen much larger and much more elaborate cable lacing jobs that look just as good at telco central offices and data centers, but its always very vague about what exact part of my NDA or employment agreement I'd be violating by posting (or taking, or distributing) pictures. These mars pictures, cropped, may be the only chance for a civilian non-employee to ever legally see professionally done cable lacing, weird but true. There's a zillion other places to see the surface of mars, but only a few to see cable lacing.

Its interesting that in advertising pictures they always use superglue to make the cables look "PHB-good". So you can't see cable lacing in ads, which is too bad.

Done correctly, cable lacing is, literally, an art form. One guy I worked with "knitted" geometric patterns as he spaced the lacing in various locations and used different colors. Also I saw at least one large example of AT+T being "dot matrixed" into a large bundle of cables by careful spacing of lacing.

Artistic cable lacing is kind of an "apprentice" masterpiece situation, you learn lacing well enough to do art, then you show it to other techs (and your boss) to prove you're not an apprentice anymore, then, sadly, for most techs, no more lacing art work. Oh well.

Well, there's always http://www.reddit.com/r/cableporn

They need to avoid the trend of using that suffix to mean "enthusiasm"; the compound word does not conventionally mean what they intend. Yes, languages evolve, but the etymology doesn't remotely support it.

Whoa! I literally had no idea there were sub-reddits so, um, specific.

There's way more than you can imagine (or at least, that I can).

Another interesting point is that in general, the more specific the sub-reddit, the less it is infected with the type of "reddit culture" that gets so much bad rep here on HN (although occasionally it always gets some, cause Reddit has a shared culture--I personally don't mind, really).

Or they just really like knots. Why do you think that an interest in knots means that someone is going to be OCD about everything else in their life?

Different people like different things. Just because they geek out on something different from what you geek out on does not make them abnormal.

I was being nice. I genuinely do love them for this and I found it really interesting. I am also allowed to find it funny though. And I am sorry for stereotyping an entire group so lazily. I am sure that many of them actually have really messy sock drawers, if only in the hope of waking up to a really interesting variety of knot.

If you like this, then Ian's Shoelace Site will bring tears of joy to your eyes.


I think it is perhaps the single greatest website on the entire internet.

Tonight I learned that I've been tying my shoelaces the wrong way (granny knot) for as long as I can remember. Thank you, JonnieCache.

I've been using the Ian knot for years, it's absolutely brilliant.


Join the club, I was 31 when I finally learned how to tie my shoes properly. So much for doing as my mother taught me...

I've been using Ian's secure shoelace knot for about two years now, it's really fantastic.


It may be that their socks are all a mess, but I bet their shoes are laced perfectly.

I zoomed in on the cable lacing, and my sock drawer is a disaster.

I found it fascinating, and I have a randomly sorted bag of nearly identical black socks at the moment as I find it easier than bothering with the whole draw and sorting thing.

I love reading about flight hardware. I have a bookshelf full of this stuff.

Mars itself is neat. But they haven't done much exploration with this rover yet, and so: Knots is what we got. :-)

Your backhanded compliment is a bit disturbing for being the top comment. I've largely dismissed the complaints about the HN community becoming more negative, largely thinking that mature realism was being mistaken for unwarranted negativity.

However, this comment, along with the negative comments about the uptime of Tindie's blog (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4472348), has me thinking that these complaints of undue negativity are justified.

I find the attention to detail involved in selecting knots to be a tremendously interesting aspect of sending a physical vehicle to mars, and I find it to be a testament to human specialization and intelligence that there's a whole community of knot experts that can provide so much insight into the knot choices. Implying some sort of OCD around sock drawers seems incredibly rude, and counter-productive to building or maintaining a culture of technical excellence.

I've read and reread ktizo and I'm not seeing the negativity. He drew a correlation based on their attention to detail and if mistaken should be about as insulting as mathematical error.

Perhaps there's a cross-cultural interpretation associated with sock drawers that I'm missing. Granted there has been negativity on HN lately, but are we not manufacturing drama here?

//edit: I read it that he's impressed with their focus and passion, which sounds more like a compliment.

"I love that ..." is the rhetorical equivalent of "Don't take this the wrong way, but ..."

There's a pretty clear implication that it's silly to "crop out" pictures of mars, focus on knots, and the kind of people that would do that would be OCD in their maintenance of sock drawers.

It's a silly, vaguely cutting generalization. Observe the top reply, which takes a defensive stance: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4474178

Perhaps there's a cross-cultural interpretation associated with sock drawers that I'm missing

I do hope so. As then there is a chance that we might find out what it is and then everything might just make sense. Otherwise I'm just going to paraphrase Keynes and assume that internets can remain irrational a lot longer than I can stay sober.

Your commment strikes me as more negative than its parent.

I had no idea that sock drawers were such a touchy subject.

However I would say that if you want to maintain a culture of technical excellence, it should be built well enough in the first place to cope with things like occaisional wayward comedy about the possible sock organisiation habits of fans of practical topology, without getting too upset about it.

Otherwise it isn't a very good culture of technical excellence and it will all fall apart the first time somebody sneezes.

I don't think your reply (the tone can be effectively summarized as "Toughen up, nerd") is any more inclusive than the first comment.

Is nothing to do with being tough. You might as well ban stuff like Dilbert references as well if you get so upset at comedy that references stereotypes of engineers.

[edit] I was also not being backhanded in the first place. You are allowed to include jokes in complements and you do not have to show some sort of undue reverence for people whose work you appreciate when you point out that you like what they do.

Your comments are simply misdirection of blame by cutting me down instead of the original knot expert you started with. The problem, as you see it, isn't that you ascribed a negative to the engineers (cropping out mars, focusing on knots, OCD attentiveness to sock drawers), but rather, you attempt to frame it as a simple lack of humor on behalf of external observers.

The problem with this analysis is that while Dilbert is funny (and fake), you were demeaning (of real people), and your defense uses the same subtly demeaning tone as your original comment.

Speaking as someone whose really likes topology, and who has been around boats their whole life, I suspect that you have not got the first fucking clue what I think regarding people who obsess about knots.

Also, I would rather you didn't attempt to try and act as some sort of translator for me, as you appear to be a complete and utter dick.

Sorry for my undue negativity about this.

The other replies made to your original comment are defensive. Perhaps we all misinterpreted your comment.

Can't blame them. So far it's just rocks.

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