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My home systems are Windows and my Work machine is a mac. I find I'm more productive on Windows for Office/Browser like stuff and more productive on my Mac for dev kinds of things.

However, I generally avoid most of the default software that comes with both OS's with one exception: Windows Explorer is lightyears ahead of finder. Finder is really quite terrible and behind in usability and UI from Explorer. So while I avoid Finder, I still use Explorer for many tasks...so many that I don't bother with most "organizer" apps.

There's some things on Windows networks that are really nice, like WDP (which is much nicer than VNC).

Both OS's are pretty rock solid in my experience and across multiple machines. It's actually the Linux machines I come in contact with that are super flaky.

However, I've found that software on my work Mac is pretty crashy/flaky compared to Windows. I also notice that app developers seem to play more monetization games in OS X-land compared to Windows e.g. I just had a free app I've used for a year auto-update and disable itself because the author decided he wanted to turn it into a paid app. To be fair, the crashy flakiness seems to coincide much more often with some combination of opening-closing the lid and losing VPN connection to some servers.

Either way, both OSs seem to be about even to me for 90% of what I do, and the parts where they are better than one another don't really overlap.

As an American I think it's pretty badass that something like 8 or 9 of the top 10 most valuable companies in the world are all American. I'm not sure if that means we're doing something right, but it's still pretty cool for a moment.

As an American I find it actually very disappointing. We have the wealthiest, most powerful companies, and a government that threatens to shutdown every year. Many citizens can't afford healthcare and basic necessities, and yet we have companies with billions of dollars tucked away over seas.

All 10 of the 10 most valuable publicly traded companies are American (multinational) companies. #11 is Chinese and #20 is Swiss [1].

(Not that the largest 4 companies are tech companies, so that explains part of it...)

[1] http://www.dogsofthedow.com/largest-companies-by-market-cap....

This list is incomplete. Nestlé for example is missing (https://www.google.com/finance?q=VTX%3ANESN).

Thanks, you can view a complete list on Google finance if you sort by market cap.[1] The top 10 are still US companies though.

[1] https://www.google.com/finance?ei=BzuxVqG2ItO5euz2pMAO#stock...

America does companies well. If you're going to base a global corporation somewhere it's not a bad choice.

I'm the same. I'm left handed, but mouse with my right hand, which means it was never comfortable with a watch. I think I finally stopped wearing one completely once I got my first smart phone (one of the original blackberries).

Smart watches have virtually zero appeal to me as a result. They feel very much like something my father would be into and most of the people I've seen wearing them are over 50. Anecdotal I know, but to be honest, I'm surrounded by time keeping devices at this point. I have a half dozen internet connected accurate time-synced devices within arm reach right now in fact.

I don't need one while driving since my car has a clock and I can't ever recall the last time I didn't know what time it was or having to make a fuss to figure it out because I wasn't wearing a watch.

It seems like most of the folks who talk about it being useful are people who live in very urban environments and spend significant time on public transport, bicycles or in taxis where time keeping devices maybe aren't as common.

New product idea: bUcket.

A powered bucket that you toss all your crap into to wirelessly charge all the electronics you're carrying around with you. Room for at least 1 mobile phone, 1 bluetooth headset, 1 smartwatch and 1 wearable hud-like device.

Notice the "u" in bUcket is uppercase since it looks like the product, making it easy for people to write about in facebook and twitter without having to past the logo everywhere. In fact the logo is just the simple text version of the product name.

Useful and a viral marketing plan all at once.

And it will even microwave your popcorn if you throw it in the bucket!

[edit] And you will need a bucket next to every bed, any hotel. I wonder what Borat would do with them. Reminds me of this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdnuOa7tDco

>And you will need a bucket next to every bed, any hotel.

So? Most hotels managed to keep up with stuff people need over the decades -- phones, air-conditioning, TVs, microwaves, cable, ethernet-based internet access, wi-fi, movies on demand, frequently USB charging ports, etc.

Why not a toIlet®? A small charging bowl shaped like a toilet (cap i to indicate i-gadget). Toss your gear in, hit the little lever, and it charges everything. Makes a flushing noise when done.

What a truly crap idea.

Wireless charging IS gonna be a game changer. Over time I had a couple of watches and wrist bands. I got tired from charging them. The Pebble might not need it every night, but it is even more likely that I forget if charging is irregular.

Ikea has now furniture that charges wirelessly. In the end it will be in our walls, floors, coat hangers, beds, doormats, etc. The only other option is that the chips we put in our stuff are not gonna need energy. The current need for more and more powerful chips needs then to be stopped. The next algorithm won't be able to run on it or it wouldn't be able to have a voice interface. My bet is that these things will all need to get lots of energy out of their environment and that wireless charging will play the biggest role in that.

In 2014 , Intel talked about a charge bowl. But nothing came of it.

So long as this doesn't translate into a grant that confuses CS with Programming I'm all for it. Students already have to learn mathematics. Learning about computation is just as important these days.

Except there are limited hours in the school day. Every new thing you add to the required curriculum dilutes the time you can spend on any of it.

It's OK to have computer programming/computer science available as an elective, but with the way we seem to struggle just to get kids to be able to read, write, and think competently we don't need to be piling on.

Kids need to know what they've always needed to know: how to read, write, express ideas, think logically, and have a decent grasp of math, science, history, and their responsibilities as adult citizens.

I have never seen a kid who had any trouble picking up an iPad, a video game, or sitting down at a computer and working out how to do what they need to do. You don't a need computer science education to use technology. K-12 required subjects should stay focused on the essentials. Keep stuff like Computer Science as electives for those who find it interesting.

>Learning about computation is just as important these days.


I think analog31's answer gets to the gist of it for me. Lots of kids have a very hard time understanding how math is relevant to them beyond basic arithmetic and a little algebra. However, it's important enough that we dedicate all of k-12 to teaching it.

Yet, computation is basically what runs the world and there's immediate and gratifying application for even very simple and low levels of it. Students learning about computation...and what's computable...can relate to it much more readily and can start looking for applications of this knowledge much more readily than what they learn in mathematics.

But the two subjects are married at the hip (like literature and history) and one can readily lead into another if they're both present.

Just as important, the tools that exist for exploring computation are really quite good these days and students can do some really cool stuff if the environment is well structured. Imagine sitting down in a class and the assignment is to use Python to build a simple sentiment analyzer. Classroom materials are a list of scored sentiment words and a few dozen excerpts from literature or news.

Or reinforce mathematics lectures on probability by building a bloom filter.

K-12 education on computation, if done well, could help tie together many of the other subjects that students are taught and provide immediate application.

(imagine if the assignment for a 10th grade art class was to produce a demoscene demo!)

Perhaps one reason is that outside of school math, computation is actually how most people do math, and to a considerable extent, science.

Don't get me wrong, I was a math & physics major in college, and love doing derivations and proofs by hand. But in my present job, if I have to solve a math problem, or perform an experiment, I reach for my computer.

As it stands, school math is limited to problems that can be solved by hand in "closed form," creating a stilted view of what can be done with math.

I realize that programming is not CS, but an introduction to computation, within the math and science curriculum, might be a way to make those subjects more interesting and relevant, while also providing some preparation for kids who might develop an interest in CS later on.

I think what you are overlooking is that kids CANNOT really do math. 67% or 8th graders are rated as "not proficient" in math, and that is compared to the government standard (which I would bet money is incredibly low). How will they do algebra in a program when they can't do algebra on paper?

BTW, its even worse for 12th grade.


I mean, that's cool and all. But why build the road surface out of fragile panels? Why not just build a regular road and provide it cover with a roof made out of panels? Now drivers get to drive in the shade and it's probably less expensive.

Even cheaper, just put the panels up along side the road, perhaps on shoulders or other already owned rights of way.

Even cheaper, just give the money to everybody so they can put panels and batteries on their houses and businesses and over parking lots.

Even cheaper, just solicit bids for utility scale solar, (and write so distributed roof top solar is allowed to compete).

That's a really great idea. Two weeks is just about enough time to see if an idea is going to go anywhere.

I've worked under 6-8 week fail fast R&D regimes before as well and have found they really help provide focus...though in all cases it seems to push the R&D effort much more towards an Applied R&D approach than a theoretical one.

I always like these kinds of stories, and then I wonder what the after-story is. A couple hundred thousand in repairs, renovation and remodeling, I'm guessing the occasional B&B guest doesn't provide a huge amount of income. What do people who do this (move out to extreme rural areas and buy enormous and expensive to maintain offbeat homes like schools, churches, power plants and missile silos) do for a living to afford this?

I'd love to go out to random-rural-county and buy 20 acres of land and a school and turn it into a huge home, but then I'd be hours away from where I need to go to make the money to do that.

There's always some other parts of the financial story that never seems to come through in these kinds of articles.

They sold their house in Toronto, one of the most expensive cities in North America, and probably made a couple of million or so. The school was only $190,000 plus whatever it took to fix it up.

As the article states, the area is a tourism hub so their B&B is probably quite busy. Otherwise, assuming they own the school free and clear and grow a lot of their own food, I imagine they don't have many expenses.

I mean, that's cool. It'd be interesting if the article mentioned how much they made from selling their home. They could have sold their house underwater and are still servicing their old mortgage too. We don't know from the article what the story is.

Suppose they made money and have a million in the bank, how long can they ride on that before they have to pack it in and move back to a place where they can get jobs? What about their kid's future expenses, how are those sorted out?

The article mentions a couple things about their B&B:

- 3 rooms

- they get overflow from other B&Bs, not their own business.

- they only operate during the summer

So that puts an upper limit to what they can earn from that.

Going rate for Milford, ON B&B is about $200/night.

That's about $600/day. That's $54k/year before costs assuming full occupancy 7 days per week during the in-season.

The music camp alone is $900 to attend, with 50 students, and probably fills. That's 45K gross for a 5 day gig - I'd imagine they make 1/3 to 1/5 of that in rent:


I couldn't find a time when their AirBNB sites weren't booked, but they probably command a premium given the size and amenities and tolerance for animals/kids.

The math on a lot of this appears to be a lot of "slow and steady"

You seem to think that they owned their house in Toronto outright, which is rare for a young family, especially in such expensive area. Also, median detached house price in Toronto is just over a million, so if they got a couple of million, they had above average house as well, so it's still not clear how are they affording all of that. But, I don't think that's the point of the article, maybe they are trust fund babies, who cares.

> Also, median detached house price in Toronto is just over a million, so if they got a couple of million

Be careful, the Canadian real estate industry always publishes average sales prices, not median prices, and not median valuations.

Which is why the numbers are rubbish: Their numbers are biased toward by whatever turns over more, and by a small number of high value sales.

It's the same reason why average income is a farce. The average of 4 unemployed homeless individuals and a $250k/yr lawyer is $50k/year. The median is zero and more representative of reality.

Once the industry starts publishing the average valuation of a 3bd 1.5ba home (detached or not, there's not a lot of detached inventory left!), listen to them. Until then, ignore their self-serving statistical butchery.

We have friends in the same area who recently bought a fixer-upper for $1.2 million. You're right, I'm assuming they owned outright but regardless, I'm betting they walked away with a nice chunk of change if they bought more than five years ago.

That is a great question, but it kind of takes the shine off don't you think? :-)

One of the things I look at from time to time is what sort of burn rate I'd be willing to tolerate while 'retired' (which is code for just doing what ever the hell I want without having to fit it into other agendas). And, because it showed up here on HN once, ran the numbers on a missile silo. The one I was looking at was less than a million dollars to purchase but my brother in law, the civil engineer, gave me a list of things that would have to be vetted/fixed before occupancy. Since it was a vertical silo I was thinking a 10 story living arrangement built inside the silo itself, with floors going down from the circular top floor and an elevator in the middle.

We figured that construction, retrofits, and infrastructure would cost about 3 - 6 million (depending on how much corrosion and toxic waste cleanup was required to remediate). Power for pumps to keep it dry during the wet season, insurance, maintenance about 7K a month (it costs a lot to pump water up a 100'). We figured you'd have to start with about $10M to exit the other side with a "self sustaining" environment you could live and work in (but a seriously "fun" environment to hang out in. You could pay someone $12K a year just to come out once a week and restock the larder with consumables.

The school looks like a much simpler setup.

It would definitely be something I'd explore if I had sufficient FU money. Drop out, drop off and just do whatever I felt like. I have enough things I'm interested in to keep me self-occupied for at least 20-30 years I'm sure.

UK TV series Grand Designs features people who self-build homes, or sometimes convert weird buildings (water towers for example) into homes.

The show talks a little bit about the finances, and how people often start over-spending on details.

In England this can save some money over just buying something as big / distinctive. And if the homeowners DIY there are further savings. And some people are just very fussy about details, so self-build or conversions allow them to have total control.


I was expecting you to bring up the point about how many of the people featured simply seem to have much more money than sense.

One that particularly sticks in the mind for me was a nice old gent who got heavily into drugs in his teens so his family trust fund was taken out of his control. He had to ask permission from the trustees to build a £350,000 custom designed house,specifically designed around him, even though he hated houses and had lived most of his life in a mobile houseboat and never spent much time in one place.

>people who self-build homes

There seem to be some people doing it. I've been reading about this a bit lately, and also had been to a remote place recently, where someone had built a rather big "earthship" and was living pretty much off the grid. It looked, very roughly, like the Brighton Earthship shown in the Example section here, but was round, not rectangular:


Self-builds don't have to be primitive or science-fictiony:



https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xxrtid_gd-s12-e12_news?sta... (Grand Designs)

http://www.ianwhite.info/THE_SEGAL_METHOD.pdf (Architects Journal article with detail explanation)

Interesting, will check those.


> I'd love to go out to random-rural-county and buy 20 acres of land and a school and turn it into a huge home, but then I'd be hours away from where I need to go to make the money to do that.

Being a rural doctor is a sweet gig. They get paid as much or more than doctors in urban areas, so you can be making $300k in the middle of nowhere, Iowa.

Same in Ontario. You might even get paid more for working in a rural area than one would in the city. Plus no worry about insurance paying or whether your patients can afford the co-pay (that's all someone else's problem).

this is just a guess - maybe they're not doing it for money, but as a form of a hobby

Well yes, but they still have to pay for it. For most people that means working, and that's time out of a day, most days a week.

They included what it used to cost to heat and power the school for a year, but never mention what it is now. Details that are interesting to the story but probably take away from the 'feel good' type of article they were trying to make.

That's fine, but that still doesn't answer bane's question: how does this family earn the income which they use to live?

Earn it, inherit it, or win the lottery. Does it really matter what they did to acquire it?

If they are earning their living living far away from their old jobs, it's interesting to know how they are doing that.

I always feel there's kind of a weird slant to these kinds of stories...a "hey, look at how these clever people are living, isn't that a great idea hint hint maybe you can do it too!". And you'll see this kind of living referenced in all kinds of alternative living magazines and websites and whatever. It's like the tiny house movement, where you read about some daring young family who've moved into a 300 sqft shed with a composter out back. What you never hear is what life is like 2, 3 or 4 years later. (actually you do, and it's usually stories of people about to go crazy for lack of places to go just to have normal time alone after a year or so)

I think it potentially paints a false picture of what it takes to do this. For example, it mentions that the school was listed for $256k, has 10,600 sq ft of space and 8 acres of land. It sounds like a steal and so obvious that only idiots wouldn't think this sounds like a great idea.

But wait, it gets better! They actually only paid $190k for it! Well shit, I should sell my house, quit me job and cash in my 401(k) so I can live the highlife like these folks in my slightly oddball, yet roomy estate.

Sure it was a little bit of a fixer upper, but that's nothing some elbow grease won't fix. Heating bill is $4k/mo? No problem, I'll just bring the kids out and we'll chop wood.

It sounds like for under a quarter million these folks ended up with a little slice of consequence free paradise.

But that's obviously not true.

"After much searching he found a plumber who was willing to make the drive to the south-east corner of the county to help him get the new system running. Loads of insulation and 60 new windows were in place. Suddenly everything came together and they were all blissfully warm."

Okay, so that's like what, $60-100k in windows. $10-15k for a wood pellet boiler they could never install. Probably thousands of dollars in plumber bills (I can't get mine to come out to even look at a sink for anything under a couple hundred dollars). What do you want to bet that the school was packed full of asbestos they had to replace?

It talks about ways they save some money, gardening for vegetables (in those great long Canadian growing seasons) and run a B&B with 3 whole rooms (only in the summer months).

"Last summer, for example, all five of them planted seeds for growing organic corn. When the corn was ripe, the girls earned their own money for new tablets by selling it at a roadside table."

Well isn't that nice. That's a lot of corn. Are they basically just farming the property? 8 acres isn't a lot of land to support commercial farming. Now toss in the expense of farming equipment, seed, etc.

I believe (based on the description in the article), that this is the place https://www.google.com/maps/@43.9341989,-77.1030939,358m/dat...

If so, they lose about 2 acres to the school, the tennis courts, the entrance and the back lot behind the building. From google earth it looks like they have about a quarter acre under cultivation right now...but the sports fields to the West look like they may have something growing. Some googling shows that you can get about $300 per acre for corn with costs of about $250/ac to grow it. So if they put all 6 available acres under cultivation they might get about $300/year in profit. Those poor girls must have been selling corn at that stand for years before they could all get tablets.

Actually it also look like they're planting trees that will eliminate lots of their arable property. That may be what's going on in the old sports fields.

"They have already planted 1,000 trees and aim to plant many more.

“We are treeing the land just as quickly as I can possibly do it,” Mr. Parker says."

Maybe this is a desperate attempt to cut down on the crazy heating bills? Either way, they aren't paying for heating with roadside corn and 3 months of 3 room B&B overflow.

So either they started off wealthy and this is just some kind of "get back to the earth and spend time with our family" early retirement, or they're living in virtual poverty conditions. Wait until they need to spend $100k to reroof that school.

I really wish these kinds of stories would talk more about how these families make ends meet because otherwise it comes off as a little idealistic and even fantastic. These are incredibly expensive fantasies in these stories and I think lots of people believe it's not.

> To be perfectly honest, we really didn’t give our purchase the right amount of consideration. We were so excited and scared that we forgot to properly assess the practical side of owning a 65 year old institutional building with no insulation.

Quote from their blog https://lettersfromthelunchroom.wordpress.com/

And their Toronto house was a former crack den so they probably didn't make millions with selling it.

Oh great find!

Here's a radio interview with them as well


Not much more enlightening I'm afraid.

The wife doesn't work (when not running the B&B) at all. So if there's any outside income it's her husband.

Who knows? Maybe they just burned up all their savings renovating this place and live just lean enough to make it work. If so, good for them!

When you don't have a mortgage/rent payment, it appears that you can live a simple, full country life on very little. They run their 3 suite Bed & Breakfast ($200+/night each) plus they operate a bluegrass music camp/festival that brings does decently too. They've been able to get press for their little business, so I'm sure they're doing just fine.

Re-frame it in your mind as if they decided at 40 years old to put their savings and lucky timing in the housing market and invest in a low to no debt 'lifestyle' business.


A few other notes:

- people plant acres of trees with in-demand wood and then sell the future rights to those trees. Don't have trees growing, can't sell the future right to the trees. This is pretty common, and the author of the article probably felt it was obvious why they were planting a lot of trees.

- kids selling surplus produce at a roadside retail stand are not going to be selling by the bushel/acre. This is a lemonade stand, not a commercial business. The kids are going to have enough cash from their summer operation to buy new tablets or other fun things, but not enough money to survive on.

- I can buy forest land for less than 20$ / tree. If I go to Eastern Europe, I buy land with 10 year old oak for half that (if you buy large enough plots). Please quote a price for timber futures because your story sounds like baloney.

- 2 tablets - let's say $500 for two. A single piece of corn sells for what, 50 cents? At an expensive supermarket? Let's pretend they convinced everybody in that rural atea to pay urban prices. That means they had to sell 1000 of them, over two months, 15 a day, 7 days a week, from a roadside stall. Yeah, don't see that happening.

The corn thing is just running the numbers to make it logical, rather than illogical. Instead of buying $250 tablets, they could buy $50-$100 tablets. They could sell by the dozen, which would mean they'd only need to close one or two sales each day. Since their parents run a music festival / camp, and three B&B suites, I am generous enough to consider that they had enough traffic make enough to afford a tablet of some sort.

As far as timber futures or even the financial side of that business, I admittedly don't know much about. I do know of and see people that plant and maintain several acres explicitly for selling the lot's wood in the future. I assumed that such a time-expensive thing would have been turned into a financial product years ago, but that part I admit is a guess rather than fact.

> Some googling shows that you can get about $300 per acre for corn with costs of about $250/ac to grow it. So if they put all 6 available acres under cultivation they might get about $300/year in profit. Those poor girls must have been selling corn at that stand for years before they could all get tablets.

I suspect that the girls got all the revenue from the corn without having to cover the costs.

Learning th bins and outs of how to be a subsidized farmer like in USA

I get the same feeling from a lot of design magazines. I was looking at a slideshow of "five affordable prefabs" or something like that, and one of them was offhandedly mentioned as only costing $500k to build and furnish. Sigh.

If you look at it on street view, one of the kids is sitting under a tree on the front lawn. :)

good point, it would be interesting to see how they can afford this

Why do people open restaurants when the overwhelming majority of new restaurants go bankrupt in short order?

I imagine a lot of them think, "It can't be that hard!"

After the money disappears they realize that yes, it is very hard.

Then someone else comes along, sees their failed restaurant and says, "It can't be that hard..."

The vast majority of decent new restaurants fail because they don't have enough money to last until business picks up. Most small restaurant owners have just enough money to open, and they assume they'll be making enough to pay expenses within a month or two.

But unless you're in a fantastic location, or already have a great reputation before you open, it takes time to build a steady customer base.

I began writing a C++ compiler by thinking "it can't be that hard".

How much money does it make?

Running a restaurant is easy, if you don't have to cover any expenses.

But you only had to exchange your time to learn, not your time and life savings (I hope!).

An article in Slate from 2005, describing the same way of thinking: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/a_fine_whine/2005/12/bitt...

It's an interesting bit of curiosity how capital design kind of spread from France to the U.S. and then from the U.S. to Canberra. While other purpose built cities, like Brasilia had designs sourced locally.

Brasilia was built a hundred years later

Kinda the point.

It's contagious. Someone, develop a vaccine for this before it spreads... except that at this point the whole globe's caught it, and we seem to be developing an immune response at last.

disclaimer: I'm not of the mind that patents are a raw evil that needs to be swept from the earth. I understand how they can be beneficial for society ideally.

There's a lot of ideas out there that it's just old fashioned corruption and lobbying preventing it, but I can see one semi-valid justification:

Imagine a non-practicing company who ends up with a collection of patents (not a non-practicing patent troll). Today, and what normally happens, they would just license those out to various entities who wished to use them, and those companies signal a fairly pure intent to actually build something and sell it. The license cost is simply passed on to the consumer, but if the product is unique enough it's not like there's a cheaper alternative for anybody to compare against anyway. In the end the economy is richer for having the widget because now people can buy a new capability.

Now imagine a case where companies must exercise their patents. They'll

a) be less likely to work on R&D since they'll no longer be able to exercise a guaranteed monopoly, first to invent (or first to file) no longer has a motivational push to generate new ideas. Even inventing for the sole purpose of licensing your idea is a legitimate one. R&D is very expensive.

b) Only organizations with the financial power to both invent and manufacture will now file for patents. This locks away many small-time inventors (garage R&D) who today make a reasonable living off of their work via licensing to large corporations and locks away the power of innovation only at large and powerful organizations. In a sense the current patent regime is intended to allow anybody, large or small, access to a level playing field. e.g. I have a small LLC, if tomorrow I come up with a cool idea through my LLC and get it patented, I'd have to go about building it and putting it on the market, all expenses that I know my LLC doesn't have the funding to support.

c) As a result, lots of half-assed shit will end up on the market since inventors will be forced to pump something out. Except now it will be optimized to cost them the least amount possible to get to market with rather than be optimized to try to be successful (that takes loads more money to try).

d) And/Or a weird economy will show up of small "pass through" businesses that exist only to provide a store front for the crap that inventors now have to produce in order to lock down their patent (since the end-game in most patents is licensing). They don't really have any intention of selling anything, but inventors maybe produce 10 of their widget, pay a small stocking fee and the store will put it up for display. These stores will likely be in small, off-main-street light industrial zones with no traffic. It's easy money for the store owners since inventors will literally pay them to stock the minimally produced junk. Think of the "As Seen on TV" stores at some local malls, now imagine those multiplied by a million.

IMHO a better solution is to make patents non-sellable. They can only exist under ownership of the inventor and can't be accumulated under non-inventing entities.


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