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Will Work for Food and Lodging (jacquesmattheij.com)
314 points by swombat 1238 days ago | hide | past | web | 124 comments | favorite

I love this idea. I live in Germany, and (as pointed out in the text) carpenters can still be seen from time to time during their journeyman years (which is called "Wanderschaft" or "Walz" in German). Slightly OT but here's a picture of what it looks like when they walk across the country [1] I always found this concept deeply fascinating because these people get a chance to see many things from different perspectives simply because they move out of their local village, which many people never do.

The application of this concept on modern trades like software development is certainly very interesting. I'm tempted to think that the biggest gain it might have is that one (as the journeyman) can get quick insights into the deep differences between workflows and company culture in the various companies one approaches. I mean, we all know how different the current employer compared to the previous employer can be, now imagine having such a switch every 1-2 weeks.

[1] http://www.berufsausbildung-bau.de/images/Wandergesellen.jpg

Seriously? I don't see how it could even be interpreted as sarcastic. Those clothes do not look like clothing that is worn by carpenters in my country, and they also do not look practical. Why would you want to be sawing wood and carpentering in bell bottom pants and a floppy hat, for example? The outfit is obviously not entirely directly related to sawing and hammering, unless they saw or hammer with walking sticks in Germany. I don't know, so I asked... Is this site not for discussing things? I apologize for not knowing everything about the culture in your country.

FWIW, I think hellbanning that comment was WAY out of line. It sounded like a sincere question to me. In fact, it was a question I was wondering myself. In any case, for such a severe sanction, the commenter surely should have been given the benefit of the doubt.

That account appears to have been hell-banned a while ago, see comment history.

Sorry, I wasn't the one who hellbanned the comment. It could be interpreted as ridiculing, however I thought it may have been genuine interest (as it was) and so I asked. It may just be a effect of generation reddit that short questions like yours can be read as being targeted as ridiculing.

That said, the clothing is very traditional but still being worn by modern carpenters. I have a friend who does the job, and he always wears those clothes for work. Usually, without the hat and the stick, those are mostly added only for the waltz, however only based on my limited knowledge, I've never been a carpenter here.

it is absolutely practical.

these guys are supposed to be working outside, on top of roofs, etc.

the bellbottoms protect you from stuff falling into your boots. sawdust, nails, water, etc.

the hat protects you from sun, etc.

this uniform is meant as the only thing that you travel in. those guys walk and tramp across the country or even europe. their outfit is multifunctional and very, very old. it is meant to make you standout, it signals who you are and what you're doing.

@ytdtty your comment has been hellbanned, though I'm not sure whether it was meant as sarcastic as it sounded. So for the sake of hoping that it was genuine interested, yes they do.

Does the size of the hat have any significance?

(Genuine interest.)

Hah! Thanks for that, I've seen folks in that costume in Switzerland and always thought they were musicians :)

One nitpick, journeyman doesn't mean "on a journey", it's journee man, from the French as in, a person paid a day rate for their trade. The next step up, a master, would be paid for completed items, and could employ others.

Seems like more than a nitpick; the whole premise of the article is that journeymen weren't paid, other than room and board, and you're saying they were, in fact, paid a daily rate after all.

I think the premise of the article is that jacquesm wants to do the thing he said he wants to do. The journeyman thing is just a nice way to set the story up.

Yep. There are a lot of ingredients that went into this, conversations with friends, reading up on the history of guilds / tradecraft. I realized there is no way I could actually revive the journeyman concept, especially not given the obligations that I already have and we don't have a guild to start with nor any of the traditions that come with it.

But it served as a nice starting point and ingredient in the soup. Lots of offers (and interesting ones too, nicely fitting with the spirit of the request) already.

This will be a very interesting year.

It's a great idea. When I get home from work and discuss it with my other half, I'll be sending an offer too :)

No, it's a right, not an obligation. I chose to set my 'daily rate' at 0.

I'm fairly sure that, traditionally, the guilds would have set the rates - if you tried working for nothing they wouldn't have been very happy with you at all.

Thanks, didn't know that.

I haven't really thought this through, but I'd like to shamelessly take the opportunity to piggy back onto swombat's #1 post:

Barring disasters, in early 2014 I will be leaving the precariat and can stop being the money-grubbing mercenary I've been for the last few years. I don't exactly have fuck you money, but I should be able to get by on less than £~10kGBP / $~15kUSD a year. I'm currently based in London, UK.

Some things I like the idea of working on are Free Software, encrypted / federated communications, Linux audio, C and embedded software. I've dabbled in all of the above but am not particularly accomplished at any of them. My core skills are python / web development, but I've done plenty of other stuff and am willing and able to learn. Hopefully a look at https://github.com/Joeboy will indicate that I am basically able to do computers.

If anybody has a job (or part of a job) for me, please get in touch via my website, which is on my HN user page.

If you haven’t seen them already, have a look at HN’s monthly ”Who’s Hiring?” threads: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=whoishiring

Quite funny as I've been thinking about working one or two months per city (in Europe) this year starting next month. I'm still not sure if I'll go ahead as planned but I did enjoy the idea. Best of luck to your adventure!

I think that, in America at least, one of the few professions where this truly is alive and well is medicine. After four years of training you become a Doctor, but then you spend the next 3-5 years as a resident before you start to actually practice. Hospitals are these complex learning institutions where people in various stages of training are involved in everything to keep them learning.

Good point. Also Canadian lawyers fresh out of law school go through a one year journeyman program -- it's called "articling." http://www.lsuc.on.ca/articling/

If you poke around, I bet that more professions than you initially suspect have formal or informal apprenticeship or training programs. I've hired reporters who have previously gone through internships or entry-level jobs, which served that purpose. In California, for instance, the state requires that licensed contractors have "at least four full years of experience at a journey level": http://www.cslb.ca.gov/applicants/ContractorsLicense/ExamApp...

The term journeyman is still used in the U.S. to describe plumbers, electricians, etc. as well.

Clinical Psychologists go through something similar too. My girlfriend's PhD program is 5 years of classes and training, and giving therapy under supervision in the clinic under the school's umbrella as well as supervised therapy off-site at hospitals, clinics, and other institutions. Then, she must do a 1 year internship somewhere else (very typically requires relocation). After that she has her PhD but then must "post-doc" for a few years somewhere else (again, typically relocating). Only then can she become licensed.

Academia in general sticks surprisingly close to the guild model. You have professors as masters, postdocs as journeymen, grad students as apprentices, and undergraduates as initiates.

Academia is designed on the guild model, though the original correspondences are more: undergraduate students = apprentices, graduate students = journeymen, graduate degree holders = masters

Yeah, the traditional distinction between professors and degree holders who aren't professors wasn't part of the guild-training system, but probably better maps onto an idea like patronage. Someone who completed the doctorate was "done" with the training process, a certified master fully licensed to hold lectures and supervise theses. But this did not in itself come with any salary or position. The exact situation varied by country, but in Germany such a person might be a Privatdozent, someone who earned a living by giving lectures (often traveling from university to university) and tutoring students. That's somewhat analogous to a master painter who subsequently earned a living from portrait commissions.

A professor then is simply a master who, rather than earning a living as a craftsman, has a position and salary paid by a patron or institution. One might compare to a painter who became a salaried court painter, or one who received regular stipends from the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, rather than earning an income from seeking commissions or giving lessons.

I think the common way people view the situation has changed in part because these craft occupations are more difficult to sustain, so you're not really seen as "done" until you've landed a regular full-time job. Like being a painter without a salary, being a lecturer without a salary is nowadays a very precarious position. There used to be enough wealthy patrons paying enough in portrait commissions and tutoring fees for such careers to be make for a decent middle-class living, but it's not a common career anymore, so now people typically either look for a full-time academic position, or look for a full-time job elsewhere. You can temporarily hang around academia as an adjunct lecturer, but it's not a good or stable living.

undergraduate students = apprentices, graduate students = journeymen, graduate degree holders = masters

Closer, but still not quite right. The concept of graduate students is quite a recent one; and until recently the MA was the standard undergraduate degree.

This is still seen at Oxford and Cambridge: After 3 years of study, you write examinations and receive the BA, whereupon you leave the university; 4 years later, you receive the MA. (And until very recently, upon applying to receive the MA you had to certify that you had "continued to practice" in the intervening years.)

A masters being the standard undergraduate degree is still roughly true in Denmark, though in a bit different format. The traditional undergraduate degree was a single 5-year program. Under the EU's Bologna Process harmonization, this has been split into a 3-year BA/BSc, and a 2-year MA/MSc. But in part because this is recent, many people see a BA/BSc as only 60% of a degree, not a place to stop and go get a job. So getting a Masters to "complete" the undergraduate program is still sort-of expected, though not everyone does it.

Unlike in the U.S., Masters and PhD students are therefore not lumped together as "graduate students". Bachelors and Masters students are instead lumped together as "students", i.e. people who are taking an undergraduate education, often living in dorms, and receiving a small stipend (the SU) to support their cost of living. PhD students, by contrast, are junior research staff, employed with a proper salary (typically ~$50k), living in their own apartments or houses, entitled to attend departmental meetings, etc.

And the tenure track Assistant Professor position gives you five years as an apprentice master.

It is possible to pursue CS in the context of a MD PhD program. However, I think it's rather difficult to justify that level of effort in non-medical fields. Maybe consumer space travel will make it worthwhile to dedicate the entirety of one's 20s to higher CS education, as a minimum qualification, but I'm having trouble coming up with any present-tense examples.

Now that I think about it, quants could benefit from a financial equivalent of a combined MD PhD. Large scale finance and clever math can be quite dangerous after all.

The actuarial profession effectively requires a lengthy apprenticeship before practice rights are granted. A typical actuarial student starts their first entry-level actuarial job with only an undergraduate degree, and then spends the next five to ten years working full time under the supervision of senior actuaries while taking the examinations that eventually lead to being admitted into the profession. I do not know of any other profession that works this way.

Wow, your very username is actuary :P And interestingly enough, i have a VERY thick MLC manual sitting on my desk right now, and it's only ONE THIRD of the whole syllabus! Just trying to come to grips with that.

As for your comment, no actuarial science isn't the ONLY profession that works like that. Consider doctors for example. I think same applies to lawyers and Chartered Accountants

Sounds like the way Paul Erdős spent his entire life... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Erd%C5%91s#Personality

Hopefully minus the benzedrine.

It would be interesting to set up an AirBnB style site for this. I'd love to host burgeoning talent in exchange for some code / design / ee / me work.

It would be a pretty cool tradition to "do the rounds" prior to getting your first big job. Or even as a sabattical for more experienced programmers. 2 weeks to a month here, maybe 2 months there. Get a lot of experience and hopefully some recommendations in a short period of time.

There are many sites online where you can exchange work for lodging.


Here was a nice article on spendin a Christmas working in beautiful locations rather than stuck home.


If you fancy farming, there's one dedicated to that as well: http://www.wwoof.net/

REALLY interesting idea - tell me you'll be blogging this?

It might be of use for people considering taking you up on this offer (and I'm one of them) to know roughly what your skills are - I know you say you're versatile, but no-one can do everything.

Or is the point that you want to do things outside your current comfort zone?

Not sure if this comment is visible or not because I'm under a partial ban here, but I'll amend the post, thanks for the feedback.

I see it, and I don't have showdead on or any special features.

Ok, thanks for confirming. So the ban really is limited to posting articles. Interesting. That's a first probably, to be able to comment but not to be able to post.

There are frequently enough people complaining about their submissions being auto killed, you aren't the only one under a submission ban.

The circumstances of this one are, well, interesting. And worrying. I offer these links:

Two links[0][1], very heavily upvoted, not enough comments to trigger the flame-war detector:

Both reached #1 on the front page, then vanished very quickly:


Possibly dropping faster than normal flagging from ordinary users

The question was asked[2] - why did they vanish so quickly?

Since then jacquesm has been banned from making submissions. Turn on "Show Dead" and see here:


Number 3 on the leader board[3] and yet banned from posting.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6455391

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6456034

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6458470

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/leaders

Number 3 on the leader board[3] and yet banned from posting

I'd say that this is actually a good thing. It proves that the moderators don't favor oldtimers and/or high-karma users: If you break the rules you get banned. No matter who you are.


The rule is, if you have a question about moderation, then email info@ycombinator.com. Don't make an HN post about it. Therefore, it's not really surprising that someone was banned for disobeying the rules. There doesn't seem to be anything especially worrisome here.

Jacques, you could try sending an apology to info@ycombinator.com and ask if it'd be possible to restore your account.

EDIT: It's beside the point whether he originally emailed them. Also, it's important to email info@ycombinator.com, not pg; you'll get a response that way, among other reasons.

I don't feel like I have anything to apologize for.

That said, I miss the ability to bookmark using HN but there are lots of other ways to fix that.

No groveling from me, and apparently no more links, too bad.

Wait, wait. You're an awesome person. Why are you doing this? Is it just excessive pride, or what? There's nothing wrong with accidentally breaking rules. And there's nothing wrong with thinking the rules are stupid. But why not spend the 3 minutes to make it right? I'm just trying to understand your reasoning.

I'll miss your submissions.

You should consider getting a Pinboard account for bookmarking. It's really a great, top-notch and no-nonsense service. Been using it for like two years now.

You're assuming I broke the rules by accident. I broke that rule on purpose and I'm more than happy to accept my 'punishment'. That said I think the arbitrary moderation borders on the ridiculous and reduces the participants of this board to the level of toddlers that are only allowed to discuss that which is permitted by the elders that know best.

I've had similar feelings before. But what if they've implemented the only moderation policy that anyone in the history of the internet has discovered to actually work well for fostering discussion among capable people about interesting topics, consistently? The ruleset has evolved slowly over time; they weren't imposed arbitrarily. Each rule was to counteract a specific class of problems plaguing the site. For example, remember the painful discussion about the Airbnb fiasco a few years ago? It stayed on the site for like two days because an angry mob upvoted it so much. (I was a part of it, before later realizing that the story was designed specifically to incite an angry mob.) Etc. There are reasons to penalize certain kinds of content, and sorting it out is a very difficult process. But at least they're trying.

I'm sillysaurus2 because I broke a rule on purpose on my old sillysaurus account. I asked if they'd unban my sillysaurus account, and they were nice enough to unban it. I stuck with sillysaurus2 rather than switching back -- no real reason, just felt like it -- but the point is that they're lenient and they understand that mistakes happen, on both sides of the fence. Contrast that with the policy of, say, /r/AskHistorians: I'm permabanned there for a stupid mistake, and their policy is to give no second chances under any circumstances. So at least these guys are reasonable, yeah?

Yes, it's worrisome that they hold the power of deciding which discussions are penalized. But wouldn't you rather they hold the power rather than some other group? They genuinely believe in merit and good intentions, rather than just using those things as a smoke screen for greed, as some other groups do.

It's not an ideal situation, but it's like democracy: it's the best anyone's thought of so far. But these are just my thoughts, and I'm really interested in hearing yours.

Actually, because of network effects HN could quite well have better discussions than other sites despite having a moderation policy that's worse than them, so the quality of discussion here isn't evidence they're doing it right. Since most of the users who foster good discussions are on HN, the discussions here will inevitably be better than competing sites, meaning new users will join this site and not other sites. There's a kind of self-reinforcing cycle where everyone often ends up on sites that are, frankly, awful in one or more ways.

(For example, remember Groklaw? That was one of them - the site owner shadowbanned anyone who made good arguments and presented strong new evidence, both when they contradicted her and when they agreed with her, in order to make herself stand out more when she did the same. She also shadowbanned anyone who remarked on these disappearances, so most regulars had no way of realising this was happening. As far as ordinary end users could tell she was just so much better than anyone else that she was indispensable to the fight against SCO. Since all detailed discussion of the SCO lawsuit was on her site, nearly everyone who wanted to discuss the details did so there too and there was no way anyone could establish an alternative.)

And you know he didn't because ... ?

Having watched jacquesm over the years, I would expect he would have email PG before posting the "Ask HN". I have no proof of this, and it's possibly he didn't, but personally, I would've emailed, and if I got no reply, then I would've posted here as a backup in case PG was away.

We can't know, and I'm not in a position of privilege, but it's consistent.

> I would expect he would have email PG before posting the "Ask HN".

Spot on.

Yeah, I have showdead on. My point is more that "That's a first probably" is at least not true anymore (perhaps jacquesm really was the first user to be banned from submitting, but I sort of doubt it).

Interesting -- I had a submission autodeaded a few days ago too, but I assumed it was the site (infoworld.com) rather than my account which had been banned.

hey Colin,

To check submit something else and if that does not go auto-dead your account is fine.

HN would be a very different site with Colin & Jacques banned!

>no-one can do everything

Anyone can be taught to do (pretty much) anything if they're willing.

I used to think that, and I certainly want to believe it. Then I went to teach "Calculus for Business and Economics" at a US university.

There was one lad had had an "I can it it!" attitude. He was convinced that with hard work he would be able to get through the course. With that attitude I was happy to put in extra hours to help him get the grades he needed.

Many extra hours.

Many, many extra hours.

But it didn't seem to matter what I did, he just couldn't get the hang of what fractions were all about. He could memorize and follow the rules, he mastered the processes, and he worked diligently on all the exercises I could create or find. But underneath, there was no real spark of understanding.

I recently read some unpublished research that suggests that some aspects of mathematical/arithmetical/numerical ability shares something with language. It's been well documented that if you haven't acquired a natural language by the age of 4 or 5 then your long-term abilities will be severely hampered. It's now being suggested in some circles that the same thing might be true with base-line abilities with number.

So I no longer take it as a matter of faith that anyone can do anything, so long as they set their mind to it, but that certainly doesn't stop me from encouraging people to try, and helping when ever I can.

Edit to match quotation marks.

I'm sorry to be the buzz-kill, but that's simply not true.

This attitude is a disease in our culture. I challenge you to name a single task an able-bodied human with a sound mind cannot be taught to do and explain why.

Math. Some people try for years and year, and I mean really really try and still can't grasp basic math skills. They have to be hand held through high school to get a D and have to repeat courses many times. I have seen it.

I have helped many people with math, these people were putting in the effort, real effort. They were practicing extra, getting help from the teacher, from me (I was just helping friends), reading the book, staying after school, etc, etc. I have never seen someone try so hard at someone and just not get it. Something never clicked in their head. I would explain the concepts 2,3,4,5,6 times. Nothing seemed to help. These people really wanted to do well in school and were honor students in most subjects beyond math.

One of my friends who had this problem was absolutely brilliant in other ways that I wasn't. One day she picked up a guitar and randomly tough herself how to play it without any formal instruction. I tried for years to learn how to play an instrument as a child, and I just couldn't. It seemed it just didn't click in my head, same as math ability didn't click in hers.

Besides define "able-bodied" and "sound mind," you cannot. Does the person with a learning disability get a pass from those requirements? I say they do not, those are stupid requirements, and it just goes to show you that you already admit we are all different with different abilities from the get go.

Do you think this kid can get a PhD in math, then say, come up with an advanced cryptography algorithm?


Given a 2 week limit, there is no way someone who has not used Haskell before would be able to contribute to a Haskell code base. Same for someone who has not used Java Spring or any other complex system.

A task that would not be possible in even a 2 year time limit would be to get a random able-bodied human to contribute to a cryptographic standard. Some stuff is difficult and takes years and years to learn and understand. Taking those years and years is actually physically impossible for a large number of people who would simply break down if forced into it.

Some people really have a problem with mathematics; other people have the creative skills of a lemming. Not everyone can be a grandmaster in chess or win the Olympic marathon, not even if they tried every waking hour.

People are NOT created equal, and your prerequisites ('able-bodied' and 'sound mind') reveal that you know and recognize that.

> Not everyone can be a grandmaster in chess or win the Olympic marathon

Why do the taught need to be the best of the best for the parent's statement to be valid? Can you not successfully learn how to play chess without being the sole grandmaster?

There isn't a sole Grandmaster, it's a title that represents the top players. In Dec 2008 there was 1,192 Grandmasters.


The requirements for becoming a Grandmaster are somewhat complex. A player must have attained an Elo rating of at least 2500 (although they need not maintain this level to obtain or keep the title). In addition, at least two favorable results (called norms) from a total of at least 27 games in tournaments involving other Grandmasters, including some from countries other than the applicant's, are usually required before FIDE will confer the title on a player. There are other milestones a player can achieve to get the title, such as winning the Women's World Championship, the World Junior Championship, or the World Senior Championship. Current regulations can be found in the FIDE Handbook.

What's the point of just learning how to play Chess? That's not much of an accomplishment for most people. On the other hand, not everyone has the skills/ability to be a Grandmaster. Plenty of very serious people compete and spend a LOT of time trying to obtain Grandmaster status. Some people devote their entire lives to chess, but only a little over a thousand get it. Do you think the others just weren't trying hard enough? Or is it just possible that some people can do things that other people can't!?

Not to mention the parent mentioned "sound mind" as a prereq, I find this as a mostly insulting term, since it can mean anything you want and it "others" many people in society. It also can become a tautology, you can't do that, you must have not met my prereqs.

I'll attack the concept anyways. "(non) sound mind" is a (mostly) legal term (Non compos mentis) which means (not) competent [to stand trial, to make medial decisions, etc...]


> Or is it just possible that some people can do things that other people can't!?

You are talking about degrees of mastery, the parent was talking about doing it in any capacity. It is quite possibly true that only some can become the best chess players in the world, but is there anything stopping the vast majority of the population from playing chess? The latter is the attitude many hold, which he found disconcerting.

> I find this as a mostly insulting term

That may be a fair, but it was clearly added to defend against nit-picking comments like "my aunt is in a coma" or "my friend has no legs".

>is there anything stopping the vast majority of the population from playing chess?

I don't play Chess, so I'm going to make an assumption here that the rules are somewhat complex? I am also going to say something pretty not PC.

Yes, I'm sure there are lots of people I have met in my life that can't be taught to play Chess.

I used to work in a restaurant and I trained new hires, you wouldn't believe the incompetence of the people who we hired. That place was a revolving door, we only kept maybe 20% of the people I trained, maybe less. We were asking them to serve customers and memorize many things, simple tasks for me, but very hard tasks for most of the people I trained. After maybe a month or so the incompetent ones got fired for not being able to do the job. They probably only could work somewhere where they did very simple tasks. I hated it because I always had to train, and I didn't like training, but I had to train anyways, because I was the best one there at training, said my boss.

99% of them seemed like they were really trying. Most if not all of them needed the job (why else would you work at a restaurant for low pay?)

He hired knowing most of the people he hired weren't going to work out.

That's just one example.

One thing I have learned about myself is that not every learning method works equally well. In other words: Everyone learns differently. Is it possible that your training style, which I am sure worked great for many employees, left others out in the cold rather than a case of them being unable to learn at all?

>you wouldn't believe the incompetence of the people who we hired

It seems the incompetence wasn't with the employees but with the trainer. You hold that attitude toward your student and he or she is bound to fail.

A teacher who hates teaching combined with people lacking basic skills being expected to succeed in a high pressure environment for low pay? It's not surprising there were a lot of failures. I made no claims about the default ability to teach, it's another learned skill and mastery is uncommon.

There are also realities of the restaurant business (and lots of other businesses) which make training quite difficult, but I generally see these as deficiencies of the business management not truths of an industry.

>You hold that attitude toward your student and he or she is bound to fail.

I most certainly did not. I just was surprised at how many people had trouble with the job and lacked some basic skills. I never ever, ever, expected anyone to fail, ever. You made that up. If anyone did, it was my boss, or rather he usually said "well we will give them a shot." Seemed he hired on a trial basis wereas I always expected everyone to stay. I was never evaluating anyone.

I didn't want to train because only because I would rather just do the job, only because the time went by far faster that way. I specifically was always the trainer because I was the best trainer. If I was so incompetent than my boss would just pick someone else, and he did have a few people do it before deciding on me.

>deficiencies of the business management

In all honesty, this was by far the best run business I ever worked at.

- Play the violin

- Jump higher than the world record holder

And any other task that requires more than just being able-bodies and a sound mind.

I don't see a reason why playing violin would be impossible given a couple hundred or thousand hours of deliberate practice.

Jumping higher than the WR is a straw man, since that goes for anything - there can only be one #1. However, people can increase their vertical leap substantially if they train things like olympic lifting and plyometric. See The Vertical Jump Development Bible for example programs on how 12-50 year olds can increase their vertical leap on the order of 20 inches.

I really tried the violin (I think it is one of the most beautiful instruments), and for more than 'a couple of hundred hours' and it did not work for me.

I'm not sure how to articulate the mismatch but I'm pretty good with other musical instruments but between the violin and me it never was love to play it, just endless frustration.

At least I can appreciate others that play it a bit better :)

This is not surprising, violin technique is deeply rooted in the body (especially bow technique) and is difficult to learn past adolescence because your body/brain cannot adapt as well in adulthood.

Source: I learned violin around age 13 after already reaching an "expert non-professional" level in piano, found it very challenging and eventually gave it up after seven years of study.

Interesting! A few questions, if you feel like answering them:

- Did you try a professional / teacher?

- Did others also think you didn't become better with practice?

- In hindsight, would you characterize your practice as deliberate practice?

- If yes, what was the thing(s) you never managed to get right?

> Did you try a professional / teacher as well?


> Did others also think you didn't become better with practice?


As to your last two questions, I think there is some kind of reward/work element here that did not click for me. Normally if I put in a certain amount of time I expect to see a measurable progress. With the violin initially that progress was there and then at some point (relatively quickly) it reached a plateau and after that the amount of work for a given amount of progress seemed to me to be disproportional. It's the hardest instrument that I've ever really worked on trying to learn how to play it and maybe one day I'll overcome my resistance and I'll try again but I really feel like I've met some kind of personal Waterloo there and the chances of this happening are very slim.

(I actually tried twice already with much the same result, I'm not one to give up easily).

I guarantee that anyone who puts in their proverbial 10,000 hours will be able to play the violin. For certain values of "play", of course. As with beating the world record holder of any sports discipline, the real top performers have a combination of the right genes, and the dedication to perform at the highest level. And while you probably won't be able to beat the world record, given enough practice/exercise, any able bodied person can become a decent jumper.

For what definition of able bodied and what definition of decent?

I'm tone deaf but otherwise reasonably smart. Teach me to play the violin.

I agree with your first sentence, but not your overall premise. We are all capable of a hell of lot, usually much, much more than we realize, but not everything. I think most of us, myself included, need to take more chances to try and learn new things and error on the side of trying. However, the wisdom to realize something is truly futile is not a bad thing, after all, we've all got finite time and resources.

Adults are usually impatient. They don't see results right away and give up, not realizing it takes time! Children however can go forever without giving up, and I believe that's one of the (many) reasons why it is easier to learn a skill as a child. Sometimes it is good to remind yourself of this when you want to learn something new or feel like giving up.

Big up for a great journey ahead! I've (kindof) been living a version of this lifestyle you're describing for >2yrs now. Reading your story now makes me smile, seeing the similarities in retrospect.

When i started my journey, i basically just ended my lease, got rid of the stuff that wouldn't fit in my back-pack and went off with a vague idea of living like a "modern nomad". But i didn't really have any idea how that could work or how it would even feel like. It's important (and often hard) to let go of clinging to expectations. Any too-specific thoughts about yourself in 6mon from now will be smashed. You are in the process of gifting yourself the freedom from "needing" a plan for (e.g.) "next summer", next year or your pension.

Some highlights of my journey so far:

* designed and built a light-projection/"hologram" art-installation (learned: VJ software, some stage-building, event-production)

* helped a small team fighting through the infamous last 20% of their hostel project (learned: carpentry, metalworks)

* helped a family whith the groundworks for their eco-community in the jungle of costa rica(bridge building, gps-surveying, swingin' da macheteee)

* some burning man projects (organizing camps, carpentry, electronics/arduino/LED circuits, 2 small art-cars, learned how to build and design hexayurts [0])

* helped kick-off/co-founded a warehouse-community in SF

Almost the entire time I've been active IT-wise as well, ranging from co-founding startups, helping others out, private fun projects or sometimes freelance jobs to keep me over the water, financially.

Sometimes i sleep in hostels, many times at (new) friends. Sometimes you freeze, feel lonely, have no motivation, everything sucks. Suddenly, sooner than you'd have believed, you wake up in a huge beach-house with a crazy-beautiful oceanview. Be someone who others appreciate having around. This heavily involves giving in some way or the other (physical help, IT help, cooking help, babysitting, talking, being a friend, paying). Try to find out what works best for you; which of your options of giving are the most fruitful (e.g. in terms of learning or new friends!) and which ones just a means to an end (for me, paying/money is often (but not always) on the latter end of this spectrum).

You're up for some good fun, my friend. Just always remember to go with the flow learn to embrace change/insecurity.

[0] https://flo.jottit.com/moonberry *fmt

Thanks for all your kind words. I think quite a few bits & pieces of your advice apply to general living as well, and I feel a lot of them are already present in my current life.

I like your dome! Here's one I did a while ago:


A thought here.

We've become way overcredentialled as a society. There are a lot of things where comp-sci degrees are genuinely helpful and a lot of areas where they are required for no real reason other than HR gets too many resumes.

This idea of an apprentice/journeyman/master progression is something I think has tremendous potential in the tech industry. A lot of it can be learned by doing, and for the theoretical stuff, a good Master ought to be able to teach it or provide materials for self-study.

I would like to see this idea take off more.

Now that my kids are out of the house this sounds like it would be very rewarding. I'll have to chat with the spouse about something like this.

If I can help make it happen in some way let me know. Feel free to use my farmhouse as a base if you plan on doing this in Europe.

If someone else is paying for food and travel, why limit yourself to a certain geographic area? If someone wants to pay for you to fly to and from Australia, I say let them do it - it would only add to the adventure.

I pay for the travel (at 1 liter per 15 km that's manageable for a two week stint), also I want to be within driving distance of my other responsibilities in case something bad happens (you never know...).

I think his bus is an integral part of this, so it might take a long time to get to Australia.


Richard Sennett's excellent book "The Craftsman" has a lot about the history of guilds and the training they gave, as well as relating it back to software. Well worth a read.

I can't help but think of Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs when I read this post. It's also one of the best uses I've seen of that Heinlein quote!

Didn't apprentices' families have to pay pretty dearly to get their "food and lodging"? Also, weren't they pretty much indentured servants to their "Masters"?

Viewing history through rose tinted glasses aside, this seems like a great way to expand your knowledge. It would be great if something like this could be expanded further; institutionalized as part of the software development craft.

> weren't they pretty much indentured servants to their "Masters"?

I guess it's somewhat like the massive student loans modern students have. You couldn't pay the master what he was worth, so you paid in other ways.

And plenty of people that would otherwise be part of a family are whoring themselves out these days, probably to help with those loans and others.

I applaud your appreciation for diversity.

Taking it a step beyond occupation alone, I currently believe it to be a necessity for a healthy and contented life; specialization, due to imbalance, causes harm. Excessive amounts of one type of physical activity (say, running) can cause tissue damage, excessive amounts of most foods (including water) can be toxic, excessive sleep even has shown to be harmful, etc.

The only way to avoid overdoing one activity, is to incorporate more of them. Don't think of this as a purely physical practice, either; casual reading, learning and thinking apply as well.

This is not easily accomplished when one is expected to devote a majority of their waking hours to a specialized task, however. Nomadism seems to compliment this way of thinking well, as does homesteading.

This is great, Jacques! If I'm within your 1000KM radius, I would send an offer in a heartbeat. Though I don't think there's any project I have that would interest you, but would be really awesome to learn house building.

A couple questions around this idea.

Are there any liability issues? Could a company who suffers damage from a Journeyman's work hold them liable.

Would there need to be contracts ion place. The wayward traveller arriving and working for lodging and sustenance may not be as easy as it sounds. Especially if there are IP issues etc.

I like this as opposed to the current scholastic intern system which in some cases seems to create a division between those students who can afford the work experience and those who cannot.

Does the German practise have some form of legal or legislative backing behind it? It would be interesting to understand how this operates in these European countries.

That's the spirit :)

I think there are parallels between the Journeyman of the past and the college student of the present. You spend lots of time learning under different people, and often you travel (internships and co-ops) making less pay than a full professional (or no pay at all).

I would like to piggy back on this post to mention that I'm willing to work for Latte, especially if you also have a shower or food. I'm based in Sydney, Australia and you can find me on LinkedIn.

maybe leave the link to your linkedin page?

I am the true Nomad! http://www.homelesstribe.com/

will work for food and housing for me, wife and kids. i would legally relocate to the usa

"my base (Amsterdam) [...] Some stuff I’ve done over the years: [...] designed a windmill"


I'd be interested to see if embedded systems development or engineering in general took this route. Imagine not having to study the textbook but learning the ropes from a master who will teach you, I think one can learn the fastest by being taught without memorizing lecture notes or reading. Simply someone teaching their tips and tricks and following through. it's an interesting concept.

Ideally, you'd combine both approaches. Books do have their uses.

Isn't this the guy who squats on domain names? http://www.jacquesmattheij.com/auction-of-domains-for-sale/

Ah, it's you again. You are apparently unable to see the difference between squatting and buying something then selling it at a later point in time.

Please read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybersquatting

And note that every domain I have was bought and paid for from whoever owned it previously or registered from the free pool of domains. Also note that a significant portion of those was developed at some point or other but I chose to shut them down.

Wouldn't "intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else." apply in this case considering you are holding onto a bunch of domain names that you are not using? It is implied that someone is going to use that URL as a trademark of sorts, since it will usually describe their project/business.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticybersquatting_Consumer_Pro... says "The law was designed to thwart “cybersquatters” who register Internet domain names containing trademarks with no intention of creating a legitimate web site, but instead plan to sell the domain name to the trademark owner or a third party.[3]"

Isn't that you?

From a quick scan through Jacques' list of domains, I didn't see anything that looked like an existing trademark.

There's nothing wrong with owning something and not immediately developing it. It happens with physical assets all the time. Someone owns an empty plot of land and then one day someone else builds a shopping mall next to it. Now it's very valuable. Maybe you'll build a gas station or a restaurant on it now. Or it sits there just being an empty plot of land beside other empty plots of land. You never know.

Which trademark do you mean?

It's not which; It is when. That is why you hold them, no?

This isn't any different than being a patent troll.

You're 100% entitled to do what you want with your own property but please consider the view that domain names are important and finite resources and should be put to good use :)

Finite for very large values of finite. I have 0 trouble coming up with a good domain name for any of my projects that is not yet taken.

How does this differ from: "You're 100% entitled to do what you want with your own property but please consider the view that gold is an important and finite resource and should be put to good use"

Or any other commodity.

In the early 'net there was an ethos that the domain names system was an identifier service, not property. A domain name was an identifier that could be requested as needed, and in return for payment of a nominal fee would be delegated to the requester. The requester should then, if following netiquette, relinquish the identifier when no longer needed.

If instead the initial registration was taken as the sale of a commodity, the original way they were distributed didn't make a lot of sense. It would've made more sense to auction them off at fair market value, rather than registering new domains first-come/first-serve for a nominal fee.

I suppose that ship has long since sailed, though a few ccTLDs still retain that position, at least officially. DK Hostmaster's policy statement says that Domain names cannot be purchased, but borrowed. In other words, by registering a .dk domain name, you have acquired the right to use it. However they've given up trying to enforce that, and allow this "right to use" to be fully transferable, making it quasi-property. They still maintain a vestigial waitlist by which you can register to be next in line to receive a domain when the original owner relinquishes it, but this is in practice no longer used for anything that's in demand.

Interesting and I think you are correct. Rent-seeking happens all the time and is not just confined to domain names

It seems extremely likely that it is the same person, but nevertheless, I don't think your comment is contributing to the discussion. I don't think domain squatting (or lack thereof) is relevant to a general offer to do arbitrary work as a journeyman for room and board.

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