Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
on Dec 29, 2013 | hide | past | favorite

This will sound patronizing if you've actually lived here but... you do know that San Francisco is not "the valley", right?

The "valley" is Santa Clara Valley, which is a full 45 miles away and a very diverse set of neighborhoods.

"There are no slums. There are no marginal areas." <-- have you seen some parts of east San Jose, or east Palo Alto? Or since "the valley" apparantly includes more than the actual geographic valley, what about Richmond or Stockton near the docks? I wouldn't suggest stopping at red lights at night.

I've lived in "the valley" my whole damn life. My family has ties going back to the gold rush days. I have no idea where it is that you lived, as it sure as hell doesn't resemble anything I recognize.

I'm sorry you had such a shitty experience.

"The Valley" is more a metaphor than a specific geographic location. Yes, its origins and core are in Santa Clara County, but there's been a significant shift toward the urban mecca of San Francisco, and by broader definitions it can be said to stretch as much as 100 miles (O'Reilly & Associate's Sebastapol headquarters have been included in the term, though that's a bit of a stretch).

As for slums and marginal areas -- yes, they exist, but even there the costs of living can be high, and in terms of livable low-cost areas, such as you might find in Chicago, or Detroit, or Berlin, not so much. Land-use planning, growth limitations (California is ultimately water-constrained), NIMBYISM, and real-estate inflation have and are taking their toll on the area.

To some people perhaps. But there is and always has been a clear distinction between "the valley" and "the city" - we still talk about city startups vs valley startups - which is why this rant struck me as a little odd.

Regarding affordable living, I think you'd be suprised what you can find. In just about every county there are affordable housing developments and less affluent areas. Those people taking your fast-food order for minimum wage and cleaning your house have to live somewhere.

Of course even entry level jobs in tech preclude you from the government assistance many poor people here rely on. But "I make too much money for affordable housing" is bit different thing to say than "SF has no place for you to fall ... There are no slums. There are no marginal areas."

The City became part of "the Valley" when meaningful startups took up residency there starting 5 - 7 years ago. The "Bay Area" is probably the most accurate term if you want to talk about the region but few use that. Yet calling it the Valley is fine as everyone knows you're talking about the Bay Area and startups. Secondly, Richmond isn't the Valley and probably never will be.

> If you don't know Git, you don't know shit. If you have a Tumblr site you haven't updated in six months and you call yourself a programmer, you're an embarrassment to the language you claim to know.

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this writer. It doesn't seem hard to imagine that if you're a hacker wannabe who thinks things like having a tumblr are important to selling your skillset, or doesn't realize that outside trendy startups in the valley git is still far from universal, you're gonna have a bad time in the valley. And I say that as someone who hates the valley and couldn't be happier that I chose Boston instead.

If I'm just a "hacker wannabe" then how did I write my own complete blogging system from scratch:


Keep hating, you wear your jealousy on your sleeve...

Says the person who wrote a hateful takedown of the valley, the homeless, and 'white guys.'

Also, it appears you followed a simple node tutorial and you are calling it a "platform." I'm not sure jealousy is the correct word here. If writing blog posts and following tutorials is your idea of being a developer, I'm not surprised you had a hard time in the Bay Area.

Put in the coding time, stop overselling yourself, and maybe then you will be attractive to potential employers. Blaming your failure on everyone else isn't getting you anywhere.

Wow, you really are obsessed with me son. I know, it's not every day you meet a female with the tech skills to get Arch Linux to take on a Macbook Air. It bricked my Macbook Pro (poor thing went to the highest bidder on Ebay). Anyways, try to control yourself, you're borderline stalker at this point!

I just enjoy a good shit show. Amusing that you would call me "son" and then accuse me of being sexist though. But I thought this was the imposter ms. Bell? Oh well.

Given the state of Hacker News, this might come as a surprise, but hacker is not synonymous with programmer. I developed a weekend workshop for the Harvard Innovation Lab where I lead the students through building a pinterest clone from scratch in two days. For anyone with a basic CS background (CS50) this isn't out of reach, though it's a nice way to stretch yourself into learning new things.

A blogging platform is a similar sort of project. Any novice programmer can build one given enough time and motivation. Building a polished one is an accomplishment, but it's by no means a feat of programming creativity or a demonstration of vast skill.

When I hire junior developers I'm looking for people who know at least a few different programming languages and are skilled with a number of different tools. I'm not looking for a tumblr blog or deep knowledge of git. Git can be reasonably taught in a week or two; a programming language can't.

Most startups use a few different programming languages. Mine used 3 before we were acquired. Since we were acquired we now use 6 languages on 4 OSes (Win,Lin,QNX,iOS) to provide our sensor-based solution to our clients. A real hacker is the kind of programmer who can quickly adapt to such an environment and get up to speed quickly. That's not what defines a hacker* , but that's what makes them so valuable.

* I define a hacker as someone skilled at creatively misusing available technology to solve hard problems under extreme constraints

I read it differently. I thought she was referring to her difficulties finding traction without being a Git pro or Tumblr addict.

LOL, I laughed out loud when I read the line about Tumblr. What a conceited little shit this person must be.

TLDR; couldn't make it in the valley so I skipped the country.

Hi. I'm Gwen Bell. I stand behind everything I wrote in this piece, but I chose not to publish it because it was pretty harsh.

The person who submitted this is not me, but I guess they found the commit. Must have been digging. If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at gwen@gwenbell.com.

Too bad you got your usernames mixed up and defended yourself with the wrong one...

>If you don't know Git, you don't know shit

>If you have a Tumblr site you haven't updated in six months and you call yourself a programmer, you're an embarrassment to the language you claim to know.

>You know who gets acqui-hired? White guys. The occasional cute blonde.

This is written by someone who thinks git is the end all be all tech skill to learn. This is person is not a dev, but is telling devs what they should be doing. Not only that, but this is another example of the tech elite 'shitting' all over the homeless, and she's exhibiting racism and sexism in this article. Pass on this ugly post...

This reads like the ramblings of someone who enjoys living in a country where you get whipped for spitting out some gum.

EDIT: And what does this line mean "...using Git to keep your work cryptographically secure..."?


ya that line was really out of left field...

Go to Berlin. Bring your startup there. Hang out at Sankt Oberholz. Visit Soundcloud & Google. Attend CCC/C-Base events. Attend LEAP events and teach artists/designers to code at hackathons. Enjoy the fantastic & relatively cheap living environment. Techno. I miss Berlin.

I live in FL and the tech scene sucks. I think you've convinced me to spend some time there!

Homelessness, mentally ill, chronically unemployed, etc. these are serious issues that are obviously not unique to "the valley" or SF or any number of other places that border on affluent areas. I think the gist of the rant is that there is a lot of wealth in "the valley" but for some reason it does not "trickle down" to those with problems. Unfortunately, this is an issue that is much harder to solve than writing then next cool app or whatever. There seems to be a pervasive idea that just because tech people can solve complicated tech problems that means somehow they can use the same magic to solve social problems. I wish I knew how to solve some of these problems but I do not and I am guessing a lot of tech people feel the same way.

In SF the homelessness is much more 'in your face' than anywhere else I've visited. I think what she's saying is that in SF, it's OK to not give a fuck, and the homelessness is symbolic of that.

Get rid of money. And if you can't do that. Tax, tax, tax the rich

That's a recipe for disaster.

It kinda made sense to me up until

"If you don't know Git, you don't know shit. If you have a Tumblr site you haven't updated in six months and you call yourself a programmer, you're an embarrassment to the language you claim to know."

Like, really, is a tumblog now the way a programmer's skill is evaluated? Git? No one cares if you know git, it's not a core competency unless your job somehow directly involves maintaining an SCM system. Are we from the same planet even?!

I kind of agree with the rest though. I had to visit SF a couple of times and really really didn't like it. Don't understand people who choose to live there, I'd rather put up with the rain and the grey of Seattle.

This is a rant from one person who had a particularly bad experience. I would avoid trying to generalize it.

> Communist Coffee Shop

So you lived with shitty roommates...

> If you don't know Git, you don't know shit

...you're applying to places that value a Linked-In-style "skills list" over talent...

> If you have a Tumblr site you haven't updated in six months and you call yourself a programmer, you're an embarrassment to the language you claim to know.

...you think programmers actually use/pay attention to Tumblr...

and your telling us that the Valley is fucked? The Valley is indeed pretty fucked, but for precisely zero of these reasons. The only actual problem you named was the extreme income inequality and lack of affordable housing in SF, but you didn't really go into any depth at all about it. These are your own personal problems that you're trying to abstract onto the Valley as a whole. Not all of us have shit roommates. Not all of us try to work at places that seriously ask us questions about our git aptitude before they hire us. Not all of us blog. And by "not all", I really mean "very few".

Oh, and to go a little ad hominem/"constructive criticism" here, if you're really trying to make it as a writer... you need a lot more practice. I'm kinda gathering that this wasn't a polished piece, but... seriously. It just jumps back and forth between a number of completely separate topics with no connection, no narrative arc, and no concrete thesis. It's barely even readable in some places ("Tech Skills Still Pay the Bills" and "The Few and the Proud", especially).

If all the people that would rather flee than endure the sight of a homeless person could just leave, maybe the Valley would be appealing?

This seems like it was written by someone with no real development experience.

Just because you spent some time with some tech bros in a house in SF doesn't mean you know what's going on here.

I'm sure you'll get some clicks on your Tumblr or whatever, but I can confidently say that doesn't define the work of an engineer in the Bay Area.

"SF has no place for you to fall. (Really, the same can be said of America if you don't have a family support network.) "

While I agree with you that the safety net in the USA need to be completely reworked, what country gives poor non citizens a chance to "make it" that you feel is acceptable?

I think what she's saying is that the mindhive in the valley creates a culture where it's acceptable (and desired) to fail and fail fast. Iterate, build, ship, and if you fail, bounce back and try again.

The problem is the bouncing back part. It's easier said than done.

Where did you get "non citizens" from?

This is really interesting, especially from my perspective. I'm a senior in High School, planning on traveling after graduation. These tech hubs are clear attractions to young technologists, but posts like this cause me to reconsider.

Now, not knowing much about The Valley's history (other than the obvious), I'm wondering if these problems you speak of were caused by an influx of techies who feel entitled in the area. The glory of movies like "The Social Network" encourage ambitious young hackers like myself to move westward because of Hollywood-crafted fantasies, rather than necessity or convenience. Consequently, meritocracy is diluted.

Thoughts? These ideas are more from my intuition than anywhere else; I've lived in Boston from birth.


Travel around and enjoy yourself if you have the means. Don't settle down somewhere without having spent a decent amount of time there. Live and work where you love, not where you feel like you should be. Basically follow that boring advice that parents have been giving children forever now.

>Consequently, meritocracy is diluted

Meritocracy is a clever facade that is used to blind "smart people" to the real ways of the world. Buy into it at your peril.

The young may be more easily cajoled into working long hours and on a dream of becoming rich or well-respected.

While hard work is a great way to learn, "getting used" is a hard lesson to learn. So, as a "youth", be wary.

There's more out there than VC funded startups. Much more.

Pay a visit to the city, go to some of the tech meetups - get a feel for the culture before committing to it.

I don't think I personally would prefer to live in SF, in large part due to the crazy expense, but you should try seeing how you personally feel about the area for yourself.

Please take it easy on this person and don't turn this into a lynch mob. I up voted it for a genuine differing perspective. I agree that "the valley" ( including SF ) has its warts, but on second thought this post is hardly coherent enough to be taken seriously. To the OP I suggest you delete this post forthwith lest it come to haunt you. Think about the problem more deeply. As others have pointed out, your mention of "tumblr" and "cryptographically securing your work with git" betrays a sophomoric lack of understanding software engineering.

There are a lot of places to go in the U.S. for tech hubs. SF just happens to be very "unique" among them. I have never seen the issues the author describes anywhere else than SF. The good news is that if you don't like SF then there are surrounding areas which are relatively normal (but still expensive.)

I can't even put into words how much this post sucks, I've been trying for 15 minutes and getting enraged instead. So instead I'll just say your privilege is disgusting, not only on a human/personal level but at a technical level as well. I hope you step on a lego.

Better title "The Valley is not what I Thought it was"

If you are a competent dev and you try and fail at starting your own thing, get a full time job. They will pay you enough to afford you your own place where the only person you have to clean up after is yourself. If you can't get a full time job, you probably are not the dev you thought you were, and you probably should head some place that has marginal areas where you can fall. You probably don't even have to go as far as Singapore.

Regarding the "Communist Coffee Shop": Sharehouse living sucks everywhere. I've lived in shitty shared house situations in several cities.

> If The Valley was sad at the start of 2012, it was doubly sad at the end of 2013.

wow, good thing I left the Valley in 2012, it was sad indeed.

Who is the impostor?

Gwen_Bell or GwenBell?

Neither. Read the comment history and you'll see they are they same person.

To other HNers. I'm looking to move to a different country for good. I'm thinking Germany. It's beautiful. Music, art, amazing women, startups, history, Europe.

Where should I go? I have all the money in the world and I'm looking to settle elsewhere besides North America.


OP: I like the way you rant.

Germany is a good destination in Europe because it's fairly inexpensive (unification ftw). Very few startups outside of a small area of Berlin, however.

Just commenting about Germany because you mentioned it. There are probably lots of other destinations with good potential. Ultimately they are all only as good as you make it.

As an European I can't say how well it compares to the US but The Netherlands (Amsterdam in particular) are an amazing place to move to.

I've left Italy a few months ago and moved to Amsterdam (studying and working), it's an amazing place, a massive change of settings for me. There are lots of startups, companies and opportunities for tech-minded people. Obviously, I repeat, my comparison is with Italy which, to be honest, is one of the worst places you'd want to found a startup in Europe.

Along those lines, check out this link: http://appsterdam.rs . I've heard Mike Lee give a pitch on why geeks should move to Amsterdam, and it sounded pretty awesome.

+1 for Amsterdam. Ask for the Crux.

France is not that good too

Amsterdam and environs is an exceptionally good location for internet startups due to the massive cheap bandwidth available there (datacenters are expensive though).

First, go to hell for your comment about amazing women. It is nonsense.

Then, I advice you to not go to Paris. I've just left it for south east Asia (Laos) and it's amazing. However I hadn't meet any tech community yet.

Problem with Europe is that things are not that well there. Don't go to France. Germany and Netherland seems good for the next years but who knows how things can change. China and Russia are also interesting choices.

These surveys might help you decide:



I personally would consider these cities (safe, strong tech community):

Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Vienna, Stockholm

You may find some help here http://www.reddit.com/r/iwantout

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