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Historical Discussions: I spent eleven years working on this Line Rider track (November 26, 2020: 1045 points)

(1057) I spent eleven years working on this Line Rider track

1057 points 3 days ago by todsacerdoti in 10000th position

delu.medium.com | Estimated reading time – 5 minutes | comments | anchor

I was stuck on scening the chaos/warped space section. Every other section had clear rules, e.g. I could only use certain elements, whereas this section is supposed to have no rules. So I had to employ a different mindset to move forward: "Don't think too much about it". I didn't think too much and doodled away and a beautiful mess came out.

Automation vs Manual Work

Automation, xkcd 2014

Programmers like me frequently have this dilemma: Should I manually do this tedious thing, or create automation to do it for me? In my case, I'm building tools that could be useful for everyone, so I do have incentive to automate as much as I can. But I had a quickly approaching deadline. I determined that it would be faster to manually draw ribbons than to figure out how to extend the curve tool to create them for me.

Then, after I finished drawing the ribbons, I found out it took less time than expected to extend the curve tool to make ribbons. I'm not sure what lesson I learned here. Maybe I tend to err on the side of pessimism as a reaction from being too optimistic in the past? Predicting the required amount of work is a generally hard problem in software engineering.

Getting Attached vs Redoing it

There are times we get too attached to what we made and are unwilling to iterate upon it. There are times we keep redoing something without making progress. There are times we accidentally lose progress, but after redoing it, we realize we did it better the second time around. If you accidentally lose progress, reassure yourself you'll do it better the second time.

Working Outside Your Comfort Zone

When you work outside your comfort zone, you become a lot more aware of your creative process. I'm not an illustrator or story teller, but I forced myself to work in those mediums and became hyperaware of the nature of those mediums and my own processes. This is how I'm bringing you all these lessons I've learned. This experience will help me with my future ambitions.

Critical Feedback

When we get engrossed in a project, it's very easy to zoom in on details and lose sight of the bigger picture and we tend to get desensitized to other details. If you're looking to achieve a specific effect with your project, or just want to understand how others perceive it in general, the best thing you can do is to ask for critical feedback from other people who work in the same or similar medium. Their perspective is uncolored by how much you've already stared at your project, and their different experiences, backgrounds, and tastes can bring you really valuable insight that you may not have been able to see otherwise.

I already planned out most of Omniverse II, but right when I was finishing up the project, I knew I should verify if what I planned actually had the effect I wanted. So I solicited feedback from Rabid Squirrel, and they gave me really helpful suggestions like tweaking the camera work and adding the "danger spikes".

Lessons for Line Rider Artists

Note: As I wrote this out, I realized these may be more suitable as standalone pieces with potential for way more depth. Consider these rough drafts.


The biggest lesson is how to tell a story. From that follows world building, lore, set creation (spatial structure), pacing, and generally being critical of everything with respect to fitting into the narrative. You may have a lot of cool ideas, but if you want to tell a coherent story, you need to make it cohesive and you'll probably have to throw away the irrelevant parts, even if they are cool.

Unique to Line Rider is structural cohesion, how the track is spatially arranged. Consider the structure of the world you build and how Bosh's traversal drives the narrative. Is Bosh entering a new area? Is he returning to a previous area? Did he fall and need to get back up?

Olympic Puppetry as Narrative

I wanted to demonstrate how we can use movement techniques as a means towards something greater rather than for its own sake. And the clearest way to do that is to reclaim such a feat of olympic puppetry as a compelling story, retrofitting a narrative in its place where the movement seems to emerge from how Bosh interacts with the environment he is in.

Recycling/Revisiting as Narrative

Recycling was another one of those movement techniques done for the sake of overcoming the challenge. But it can be used for narrative purposes, like being stuck in a loop or traveling through a past part of the track in the opposite direction to "turn back". I think there's more narrative depth that could be done with revisiting, much more than in Omniverse II, perhaps in a track featuring a more intricate story.

Embrace the Void: Negative Space

In a composition, negative space is the absence of content, contrasting with the content that's there. While negative space is already commonly used in Line Rider tracks, I think it's still worth discussing. Negative space in Line Rider can be in the form of the white void (absence of lines) or as airtime (absence of movement). There are obvious uses like dramatic moments in the music, but we should also consider more subtle "less is more" cases, like bringing attention to an object by removing details around the object.

Embrace the Void: Fade Out

All Comments: [-] | anchor

nathannecro(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I quite like DoodleChaos' work on Line Rider. It's less of a visual masterpiece and more of an audio one.

Line Rider in general just puts a smile on my face.


sho(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Agreed. That's who introduced me to this (awesome) scene.

Try out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8oIeL_OPc8

delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I collaborated on that project! I implemented the remounting feature and tuned it to be suitable for making this track

locofocos(10000) 2 days ago [-]

After casually watching the progression from SWF, to Silverlight, to some overdone version on the Wii, it gives me warm fuzzy feelings that linerider.com is still hosting a down-to-earth (albeit modern) version.

I remember backing up the SWF version of line rider. And then they added a STRAIGHT LINE tool. No more abusing the right click menu! How far this game has come!

> After years of development, after some more collaboration with that Line Rider friend, and after connecting with the owners of Line Rider, it wound up becoming the official version on linerider.com. This version resolved many of the issues I had with the original version

I'm so curious to hear more about this. That's like a geek dream come true.

delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

The history of LR is complicated! It was originally created in Flash by Boštjan Čadež who sold it to InXile. InXile made the versions in Silverlight and the overdone versions on Wii, DS, and PC, but they all flopped and they did nothing with LR for years. And that's where I came in: while I was remaking LR in Javascript (intentionally down-to-earth) I brought my friend onto the project and he had a contact at InXile and got us connected with them. We figured out an agreement and eventually (we were novice developers at the time!) got our version (well now it's just me, my friend left the project) onto linerider.com. Then InXile gave LR back to Boštjan so now it's basically completely indie again!

Fun fact: InXile got acquired by Microsoft, and for a brief period of time, Microsoft technically owned LR

mrspeaker(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Holy. Crap. That is mind-boggling. I remember back in 2006 I thought I had taken things too far when I wasted many, many hours of my life figuring out the Line Rider file format: https://www.mrspeaker.net/2006/11/15/line-rider-file-format/

But this is about 10 levels beyond that! Only now do I see I didn't take things far enough by half - this is beautiful and... complete. Just amazing!

jwmoz(10000) 2 days ago [-]

>I wasted many, many hours of my life

ehsankia(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I remember the day Line Rider actually came out. I remember seeing it on Digg, and this was before Youtube but people were theorizing if a loopty loop would be possible (oh simpler line rider times!). I remember hacking something together into a (flash) video back then. I think I may still have it laying around somewhere.

EDIT: Yep, here it is, 'Date Created: 9/23/2006' which is the day Line Rider came out according to wikipedia.

And https://ruffle.rs/demo/ can actually play it! Wow!

EDIT2: Here's self hosted thanks to Ruffle!


tomcam(10000) 2 days ago [-]

You are a mad lad. That was impressive work. And now I have experienced your blog. Thank you.

raldi(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I was confused about why some of the black lines are solid and some, the guy just passes through. So I read a bunch of Line Rider tutorials, but they said the only possible colors for lines are red, blue, and green, and now I'm even more confused.

viraptor(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Line rider is full of bugs. Very fun and useful bugs. Going fast enough or at the right angle or nearby something or ... will let you clip through things, accelerate uphill, spin instead of moving, etc.

LR is basically a sandbox of broken physics.

lelandbatey(10000) 2 days ago [-]

The red, green, and blue lines are those colors when editing, so you know what type they are. When you hit 'play' and are viewing the rider ride the lines, all lines are black.

hawktheslayer(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Curious if it became a chore or was it more of a relaxing pasttime?

delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Like with other ambitious creative projects, at times it felt like a grind, but seeing it slowly come together kept me going.

bobbean(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Some other amazing line rider tracks synced with music:

Super Flu - Selee: https://youtu.be/mpuSi6YooAo (this one's my favorite)

This Will Destroy You full album: https://youtu.be/qasxqKScOfY

Brain Power: https://youtu.be/IMHWsJEG5-0

delu(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I made the moving backgrounds in Selee!

jcranmer(10000) 2 days ago [-]

If I may critique this, there were some parts that didn't work for me (the ribbon section the most [1]), and some of the words and other parts went by way too quickly to figure out what was going on: it would have been nicer to slow down and appreciate the scenery more in that time. The ending is also rather abrupt; the music really felt to me like it wanted a denouement after the climax instead of just... ending.

That said... holy crap that final sequence was amazing, easily making up for whatever issues I have with other parts of it.

[1] Mostly due to the 'moving too fast to get a sense of the scene' problem, I think.

jacobush(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I think it would loose something else then. That wonder and awe you can get when you get just a glimpse of something.

pengaru(10000) 2 days ago [-]

TIL 11 years == 400 hours

rodiger(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Yeah a little misleading with the 7 year gap. Still impressive! Not many creative projects I've spent 400 hours on...

danbmil99(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Is the game going to survive Flash's imminent end of life?

I spent way more time than I want to admit playing my favorite Flash game, Fantastic Contraption. I'm concerned that the possibly millions of hours of creativity that went into the thousands of levels and hundreds of thousands of solutions are going to go down with that ship in a couple months.

I guess the internet archive is working on supporting older games but I wonder how feature complete and bug-free that's likely to be

SulfurHexaFluri(10000) 2 days ago [-]

There are already well established flash archival projects which should keep flash alive forever.

I think the biggest issue was not the death of flash, but that many games used external resources and broke after those servers went down.

delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Yes, Line Rider will survive because it's no longer made in Flash. I recreated it in Javascript.

momirlan(10000) 2 days ago [-]

A waste of 11 years of life

rdiddly(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Ehhh, there are no good uses of time, therefore no bad ones. We're all just here killing time and telling ourselves it means something. Meaning is arbitrary. Corollary: You can find meaning anywhere.

jacquesm(10000) 2 days ago [-]

You really should take this elsewhere.

dang(10000) about 13 hours ago [-]

Personal attacks will get you banned on HN so please don't post like this. If you'd read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and take the intended spirit to heart, we'd appreciate it. Note this one: Be kind.

OliverGilan(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I think the ability for humans to build seemingly straight-forward and simple tools or building blocks that other humans then go on to create insanely complex things like this with is what sets us apart from every other species in existence.

Taek(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Agreed. It's not an innate intelligence that makes us stand out. It's our capacity to share our intelligence and build upon solutions from friends, parents, and many generations of ancestors.

Technically(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This isn't super meaningful because 'complex' is relative to the baseline of your species. What you consider complex is considerably different from what, say, a beaver considers complex—I'd much rather trust a beaver to make a beaver-dam than a human. I conclude from this is that it's the line rider itself that is beyond the capacity of most species, not the composition, which is of incalculable marginal complexity compared to beavers first inventing Line Rider before moving on to make dams. Not a great move, if I do dare to put myself in the flippers of a beaver—you'd have to invent language first, which must be a rather arduous task compared to doing what your parents and instincts teach you.

FWIW I have much greater hopes for humanity than this dedication to a line rider map. One day we'll intelligently compose into stopping global warming, I swear!

vmception(10000) 2 days ago [-]

When Octopus realize they don't have to starve themselves to death when they are 3 years old that will be the end of our reign.

asxd(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I really appreciate this line of thought. It can be easy to brush stuff like this off as frivolous, but when you look at it from a more primitive perspective, it really is amazing, and it truly seems to me like art

southeastern(10000) 2 days ago [-]

That, and shark week.

noobermin(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Not quite the same, but this reminds of defrag from various quake games (mostly quake 3 and variations). The idea of strafe jumping being in the original quake (well circle jumping more like which is kind of different) started as a bug based on how acceleration works in quake that was used to basically fly through maps and became a central part of movement in the game. Of course, in addition there was the more well known rocket jumping where you use the force of weapons as a means to accelerate. Later, people made entire maps that require mastering this movement, a little bit like parkour, and it developed into a game mode that had very large and intricate maps that require a lot of skill to complete.

Here's a good example of defrag[0].

[0] https://youtu.be/x0HpJvyLnxA?t=54

djeiasbsbo(10000) 2 days ago [-]

That is fascinating. It reminds me of the games I used to play when I was younger. I remember playing COD4 back in the day and 'strafing' being an important part of the gameplay. Another thing that every pro player did was reload animation cancelling. It allowed one to rapid fire snipers.

COD4 also had serverside mod support where upon connecting to a dedicated server, the client could choose to download these mods from the server. It was crazy what the community was able to come up with.

These days... well, surprisingly not so much has changed. Even though the official multiplayer servers have long gone dark, the original COD4 on PC still has a community and player base. Its remastered version that came out recently on the other hand is pretty much dead.

superkuh(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Starsiege: Tribes is even closer to line rider in spirit. It came out just before Quake 3. It has massive (many km^2) outdoor maps with rolling hills and jetpacks. Early in the alpha the devs and the users figured out that by spamming jump while going down a hill you could 'ski' and pick up speed the jet up the next hill to maintain. This bug, skiing, became the central element of the game. And because Tribes allowed client side scripting in a c++ like language you could just use a 'jump script' to efficiently ski.

Eventually people were building line-rider style FPS maps for skiing starting around 1999.

XCSme(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I think because of this bug Counter-Strike also had the same long-jump/bunny-hopping strafing thing, so HNS was born. CS 1.6 HNS is by far the game I had most fun with.

dividuum(10000) 2 days ago [-]

That reminded me of OSP Rocket Olympics, a Quake 2 mod based around rocket jumping skills. Was fun playing that on lan parties: https://www.orangesmoothie.org/rocketo/

delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Hi everyone, I made this! I already told my whole story in this article (if you'd rather watch a video essay about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CikpAHiPlmQ) so not much more to add other than I'm still (slowly) working on Line Rider! If you have any questions here I am

irjustin(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Omg that was absolutely nuts. I was relatively impressed all the way through and then the polygonal visuals flew by and that just blew me away.

Amazing amazing work!

Aardwolf(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Is this track also available as a download somewhere to try it in linerider.com itself, rather than as a video?

Never heard of the game before, but now I want to try it with this track

cghendrix(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Was not expecting my jaw to drop this morning. Well done man, well done.

simias(10000) 2 days ago [-]

It's always amazing to see what creative people can do with what is very likely a bug in the game engine. I suspect that the developpers of Line Rider didn't originally intend for people to be able to do the majority of the tricks on this track, but we could argue that it would be a lesser game if it didn't allow these techniques.

It reminds me of bunny hopping and similar 'bugs' in old FPS engines that turned out so popular that they sometimes ended up being purposefully implemented in subsequent engines.

swayvil(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Hi. I too went to art school. And spent 10+ years working on a grand software art project.

I relate very deeply.

endymi0n(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Hats off for this masterpiece, David — and my congratulations for not letting this dream escape but working your way through to see it bloom to fruitition.

I had immediate flashbacks to my old modder days for Jedi Knight and DN3D, I was reminded of the endless fun we had creating worlds out of the puzzle pieces we were handed on our underpowered machines.

Playing with GTA3 config settings, cheating physics engines in Stunts, watching the releases of the demoscene with awe. The time was magical and feels nostalgic in retrospect. I feel like pulling out one of my early works and doing the same.

Most impressive though I think is the development you did as an artist. Starting from the effect based presentation in your early works, it's wholesome to see you take all of the stuff you learned about physics engines, still top it off with more you've learned along the way — but then let it all take a backseat to telling a story instead. One of drama, hope, despair, struggle and eventually, 'escape'.

Thanks for making my day.

There's a drawer in my closet that's labeled 'unfinished business'.

I'm inspired to open it right now.

Rapzid(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Maybe the best art experience I've had this year; amazing!

codetrotter(10000) 2 days ago [-]

That is the craziest line rider track I have ever seen. Really good work, kudos!

xwdv(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Is it finished?

MivLives(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I loved your RATIONALIZATION piece linked to in the article.

Cthulhu_(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Making the video, did you control the character directly or was it like a tool-assisted speedrun? And how much actually requires your own input, given how (iirc) there's some tracks that just run themselves?

pradn(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I'm curious how you were able to remake the game with the same physics. How was that process?

Daub(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Brilliant work! This game should be compulsory for all mechanical engineering students. It's a good way to differentiate between function and ornamentation.

graderjs(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Wow the poverty of my imagination 5 minutes ago. I read the start of your blog and I was like this sounds lame and geeky and I imagine some sort of I don't know like Bob sledding like 2D color game kind of weird thing and just sounded weird. And then I watched your video and I was like oh my God. It puts a smile on my face it's cool and thrilling and ASMR and something I'd never even heard about. thanks for helping provide this chance to open my mind to something new and really cool and thanks for like sharing your passion.

6510(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Well done....

~slow clap~

otde(10000) 2 days ago [-]

hi conun long time listener first time caller here

question that I never got around to asking you when you were working on this: did the community meme about OII never being finished ever get to you? The line rider world is full of a lot of projects that never got completed (SamThePoor's Cosmic Ultimatum, etc.). What kept you going on this, when so many other projects seemed to fizzle out, as the community kind of shrank and receded, before it really came back into the zeitgeist? I really respect the deliberation and thoroughness you take with each step when you start a project.

dylanz(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Whoa. As someone who used to 'play around' with Line Rider back in the day, I had no idea that was actually possible. That end sequence was amazing! The music score on the ascent was a perfect match. I felt like I was watching the final scene of a James Bond movie or something.

I was just about to ask you what the last item was in the track (that meme) but realized I didn't actually read your blog post and just watched the video. WHOA. Major, major props for such a great post to accompany the video with. I'm sharing this with everyone my age that knows what Line Rider is :)

qvq(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Hi Conundrumer! I was part of the Line Rider community in the early days making manual tracks under the name Holcomb227. Your dedication is really impressive. It seemed like the community had many perfectionists and/or artists and I wonder what they're doing now.

ashton314(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This is art. I'm always impressed with people who use what might be considered sub-optimal tools to create with. I remember reading about some guy who paints by changing the colors of cells in Excel. Mind blowing.

Here's another fun Line Rider video synced to "Something Just Like This / Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" by the piano guys: https://youtu.be/mZd1GsRHVts

delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I collaborated on that Piano Guys project! I attached the instruments onto the riders

losvedir(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Wow, very cool!

Off topic, but it made me flash on something I spent many, many hours on probably 20 years ago, that I can't quite recollect. Does anyone remember the flash experience where you created little creatures out of lines and springs and they kind of hobbled around? I believe 'soda' was in the name. That thing really got me into computers and the web!

bglazer(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Soda constructor

It looks like the original is not online anymore, but here's an open source version


delu(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Soda Constructor! It's another one of those niche physics things I want to remake and expand upon

Historical Discussions: Email a Dumpster Fire (November 24, 2020: 1042 points)

(1045) Email a Dumpster Fire

1045 points 4 days ago by bschne in 10000th position

hey.science | | comments | anchor

What's this experiment all about?

Well, 2020's been a rough year. An absolute dumpster fire of a year for a lot of people.

That's when it came to us. Can email be a conduit for catharsis? If you could type out an email, press send, and see it being consumed in an actual dumpster fire, would it help reclaim a little bit of what we've lost?

Let's find out.

P.S. We'll only use your email address to notify you about your burn. That's it, the end.

P.P.S. We're offsetting by 3x every bit of CO2 this creates via Cool Effect.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

mulmen(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The ramp got wet and now everything gets stuck, that almost makes it better.

Kinda fun to watch them try and figure it out. I wonder if machine revisions/hacks will happen live on stream as well.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

You got it. Definitely sticky.

I preferred to have this project be a little crappy on purpose. Most marketing projects are so shiny and perfect. This one is literally a dumpster outside. Warts and all.

I made the ramp steeper this morning and it seems to help.

totaldude87(10000) 4 days ago [-]

nice automation, just got one paper stuck though!

totaldude87(10000) 4 days ago [-]

and a dude walked right in and put that in! NICE!

ralfd(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The paper just jammed! To bad there is no chat.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

on duty

iandanforth(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The fire got blown out by the wind as I watched. Now it's email a gas leak!

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

nah, it turns off on its own. the igniters run full time. there's no way for it to go out while gas is flowing unless both igniters fail.

Supermancho(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Doesn't work all the time. Saw one get stuck on the conveyor. Oh well.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

show me your perfect dumpster.

crb(10000) 4 days ago [-]

One just went past that said 'everything is fine'. It was committed to the fire, flew up, and landed back on the conveyor belt. A guy in a mask ran into the frame and picked it up and put it in the fire by hand.

I found it very in keeping with the theme.

arthurcolle(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I saw that one too. Hilarious.

poorman(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Paper looks like it's sticking. They should just have the guy sitting next to a printer and a dumpster and then moving the paper from the printer to the dumpster.

tomphoolery(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Most of them are not going into the flames automatically.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Glad to be of service.

treve(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I sent an email and was waiting for something to happen, was just staring at a blank screen... Once I disabled privacy protection my mind was blown. Super funny.

But it does make me wonder if people test their stuff with firefox and privacy protections ON. I think(?) it's the default now.

Either way, funny as hell. Well done!

Also funny that for every piece of paper someone has to walk up and help them get into the dumpster.

mr_ndrsn(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I use FF as my daily driver, and yes, it's tested fine with 'Standard' Enhanced Privacy Protections. I did see the issue you were talking about, but I had to modify the permissions to 'Custom'.

bballer(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Nice honeypot to collect hacker news readers emails :D

xdrosenheim(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Burne mai-- I mean, dumbster mail

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

we don't keep addresses

ranger207(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I have this on on a second monitor, and it really reminds me of New Year's: the colors, the random movement caused by the flames, the multiple views, and the lack of plotline all make it seem like a stream of Times Square on December 31. Y'all should bring this back then to give 2020 a proper sendoff.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

we'll run it as long as it's fun!

contravariant(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The image of a dumpster showing a BSOD while burning is very 2020.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

thought that would be fun. was actually chromecasting youtube's 10 hours of BSOD

jasoneckert(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is possibly the first example of Dumpster Fire as a Service (DFaaS)

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

dumpster macroservice

dom96(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I always admire these kinds of things, it's a genius marketing strategy and reminds me a lot of the sort of things that the people behind Cards Against Humanity have done. Anyone aware of others doing similar things?

citruscomputing(10000) 4 days ago [-]

https://mschf.xyz/ does similar things

danans(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I love the old school pixelated desktop GUI - especially with an HD video stream embedded in it. It's like a classic car with the engine swapped out for an electric drivetrain.

It would have been awesome if windows were movable, too.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

that's all Adam Stoddard

Paul-ish(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is there any way I can get a recording of my document getting burned?

bschne(10000) 4 days ago [-]

When you send in an email, the confirmation you get back says you'll get a clip once it's been burnt

timdaub(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I don't understand what this website is doing (maybe it's not working on my phone).

I just know that everyone that creates another email client without addressing the elefant in the room, that is privacy, just adds oil to the dumpster fire.

enditruu(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I personally had the video feed (hosted on video.ibm.com) get blocked by Microsoft Edge's tracking prevention, so if you have that feature on, or an adblocker with that feature on in your browser of choice, that could be the issue. The video feed isn't running right now anyway.

ignisrising(10000) 3 days ago [-]

is there even a reason for this? Don't get me wrong, I love it, but why?

Tokkemon(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Because 2020.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

why not

odiroot(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I wonder if the content is escaped at all. Could be fun to do some PJL injection to spook the operator.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

you try. others have

ve55(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I actually am really enjoying the music, any chance anyone has a source for it?

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

royalty free chillhop on spotify

scrooched_moose(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I've checked a couple with Soundhound and they seem to be on 'Healin' in the City Night, Vol 3' now


Edit: Hm, seems to be some chillhop playlist. 'Stan Forebee & Kyle McEvoy - Kensington' now.

joering2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

- The printer prints out paper and it goes on a belt, but the printout is on the other side! Now we need to engineer how to reverse a page. Oh, screw it! We are hackers, after all! Just print the same thing on both sides.

mlyle(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is it on both sides, or is it just on the 'back'? I thought using the duplexer was a clever hack. It heightens the drama, too.

mr_ndrsn(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yes, that's a simple way to handle it! As it is, I just make sure it's a 2-pager, and have the first page be blank.

The thought there was to reduce toner usage, but printing the same thing reduces issues due to wind flipping the sheets over. +1

brundolf(10000) 4 days ago [-]

As an aside: the web design for this page is super novel and cool. And I love the (somewhat random) ability to 'close' the different windows and open them back up, as if it were a desktop environment. I wouldn't want this on every website I visit but it's certainly neat.

philshem(10000) 4 days ago [-]

have you seen https://poolside.fm/ ?

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

that's all Adam Stoddard. He's our marketing designer + a total genius.

IceWreck(10000) 3 days ago [-]

While its clear its an advertisement for hey.com, this is still so cool

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

wait, how did you figure it out?

asimjalis(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Emails torched count is not updating.

crad(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Wasn't part of the MVP, will be in the next sprint.

Edit: should clarify, was making a joke.

recursive(10000) 4 days ago [-]

If you reload the page, it will increase.

yitchelle(10000) 3 days ago [-]

We had a 'previous model cleansing' ceremony once.

When we were about to launch a new version of our product (this is a physical piece of equipment), we took one of each model to an open car park lot, gave each of us a hammer. Each of us took our turn to smash it the bits with our hammer.

Had a quiet drink afterwards with the team.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I think those moments are way more important than they seem.

bdamm(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Just saw a pic of Lindsey Graham go by! Perfect!

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I chuckled when I saw it in the queue

valzam(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Am I the only one who initially thought the whole set up was very small? I.e. it prints A6 pages and the dumpster is a box. But then a guy ran into the frame because the paper got stuck and I realised it's actually a full sized dumpster...

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's a 20ft shipping container. High cube so it's 11ft tall.

driantembulg(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Somebody just burned 'TRUMP'

mr_ndrsn(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's not the first time, and it won't be the last time that gets sent thru.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Hey all. I'm the creator behind this project and currently running the queue. Happy to answer any questions you have.

SamBorick(10000) 3 days ago [-]

were you inspired by The Internet Comment Shredder [1]? Your setup is very similar! Very fun.


frakkingcylons(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This reminds me of the Holiday Hole event by Cards against Humanity back in 2016. Were you inspired by that? Also how long is this going to run?

papanoah(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Hey, I have sent an E-Mail yesterday evening. Do you have a rough number, how long it takes on average before the mail gets burned?

tpmx(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Now.. this is the kind of performance art/marketing scheme I can get behind.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

glad you enjoy it. what should we build next?

cyrialize(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Man, a lot of emails are queued up. I haven't seen mine yet, but I appreciate that they'll send you a clip of it burning.

For reference, here's what I sent: ╰། ◉ ◯ ◉ །╯ 'help they trapped my soul in this piece of paper!'

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

that's an A+ submission. we have about 12k in queue right now

actuator(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It would have been nice if you got a queue number back after sending over an email with the video displaying the current message number being processed.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

we had that in our original build but removed it because it's hard to estimate when a job will run

das_keyboard(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Somehow the Stream-Window just kept black with Firefox.

But I dug up the direct link for the stream: https://video.ibm.com/embed/23996224

sp332(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Firefox's 'Enhanced Tracking Protection' blocks video.ibm.com by default. Not sure why.

gibspaulding(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's working for me right now on Firefox / Windows.

Still waiting on my email to show up though. Apparently it's awaiting review.

smexxymoose(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This idea is cool! How long do you plan to run the project?

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

TBD! as long as it's fun

siltpotato(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Why not support the printer so that it has more elevation than the fire?

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

this is more fun

mburns(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Tom Scott did a similar stunt, where Youtube comments were printed in real time and fed directly into a paper shredder.


Derek_MK(10000) 4 days ago [-]

And that one wasn't also an ad for an email service.


convolvatron(10000) 4 days ago [-]


not connected to the internet, but same general idea

ohazi(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I love how it has one of those big honking emergency stop buttons.

Like, 2020 may indeed be a dumpster fire, but at least we can be confident that this particular installation is going to be a relatively safe, controlled dumpster fire.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

it has 3 e-stops

musingsole(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This looks like a laser printer, right? Could that be what's sometimes causing it to stick to the metal chute (i.e. leftover charge from the toner transfer process)? Or maybe an inkjet would just have different issues from slight dampness.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

nah, not the toner. it's because the ramp gets wet.

and when it's not wet it oxidizes from the heat. we're trying a few different coatings.

Spare_account(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It looks like the rain is getting onto the conveyor and the chute, they just tried to dry it off

something2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

My thought was that the metal part of the chute is now holding on to more heat. So when the paper touches the metal is kinda burn-attaches itself to the chute. But your idea sounds more plausible!

Edit: I do appreciate the dude's commitment to burning our messages though!

Fiveplus(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is someone handpicking the ones to be printed or is this automated?

t3rabytes(10000) 4 days ago [-]

They're screened for content, but there is a pretty deep queue currently.

codeulike(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Didnt really get the scale of what I was looking at until the guy ran over with a stick to move a stuck piece of paper

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

it's a 20ft shipping container high cube, which is 11ft tall

slowwriter(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I can't believe they actually use IBM Video for this thing. I use this terrible, terrible platform every day at work at the moment.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

it's the best service we found to have control over the feed

kowlo(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Fun idea! Would be nice to get an email back with 'You are position x in the queue, ETA y minutes'.

Patiently waiting to see my attachment meet its maker...

I did just get an email letting me know you will send a video of my submission though, that's nice!

Paul-ish(10000) 4 days ago [-]

How long did the wait end up being?

jb_s(10000) 4 days ago [-]

oh - thats what the guy is doing with his phone.


thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

We actually built that and had it implemented but decided to take it out. There are so many variables it would be hard to estimate.

But we're working on speeding up the whole contraption overall.

throwaway888abc(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Save the trees! Version without printing please. Cool idea

sethammons(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Like an animated fire that eats the digital email for all to see? Meh. I love that this is real world. Trees are farmed for paper. At full speed, this is likely to burn less trees than I do heating my house every day.

carterparks(10000) 4 days ago [-]

52k views, 268 emails torched.... ruby doesn't scale :)

mr_ndrsn(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Hah! More like physical constraints on physical objects doesn't scale!

The decision was made to not horizontally scale out the dumpster operations to match expected queue uptake. ;)

walrus01(10000) 4 days ago [-]

time to attach a twelve year old HP laserjet with ethernet interface, those things can churn out thousands of pages in a day in a law office environment.

koolba(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is the font for this fixed width?

One could have a lot of fun with ASCII art or even some good ol' fashioned figlet.

sdmike1(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Just tried ASCII art and it doesn't work, I'll have to try playing with the width.

nitwit005(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I was thinking that a paper jam would result in the whole machine burning down, and I just noticed someone wander on to intervene when a print out got stuck at the end.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

hotfix tongs

fishtoaster(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This reminds me of a Burning Code celebration my team once had at ocean beach in SF.

We'd been slowly migrating from Angular 1.X to React (internally: the Angularpocalypse) for a few years and we'd finally migrated over our last few pages. The result was about 100k lines of JS and Rails code that could be safely deleted in a single PR. It had been such a long slog, though, that we felt the team deserved some catharsis.

We took a team-offsite day to gather on a nearby beach and burn the deleted code. In the interest of not wasting that much paper, we burnt a complete list of the deleted files in super-tiny font on a couple pages. We also each grabbed our least-favorite areas of the codebase to print out, including several dramatic readings. My selection was a section of code from about 4 years prior with a comment like //TODO: replace this asap.

I highly recommend it to anyone facing a long, clearly-delineated migration. Gift your old, shameful code to the flame.

8ytecoder(10000) 4 days ago [-]

We made a cake and stabbed it to death and then ate it.

quickthrower2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I think this sort of thing, while cheesy in some respects is great for the team morale. A lot of companies do social things, which is great, but they are disconnected from the work. It's like stop work, do something social, and back to work. But with this ritual it's connected and a real celebration.

I hope React is better for you and you don't need to burn again in 5 years! Luckily hooks and non-hooks code works together nicely enough.

a3n(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> In the interest of not wasting that much paper, we burnt a complete list of the deleted files in super-tiny font on a couple pages.

Pretty cool.

Did anyone beat the printer to death with a baseball bat?

fouc(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I think it'd be hard for me to identify my 'least favorite' area of codebase because I don't tend to get overly emotional about code.

If I did get emotional it'd only be due to some sort of bikeshedding (style complaints) that I would have forgotten about by the next morning anyways.

robbyking(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'm curious, how many people got the reference to the first Burning Man, held on Ocean Beach in 1986?

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Pretty similar! Fire and catharsis go hand in hand.

thedanbob(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This reminds me of one time when I finally got to shut down a particularly hated internal web app. For a few hours before the PHP server was taken offline, visiting the site would only return this image: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6OWKZqvvPh8/UjBJ6xPxwjI/AAAAAAAAO...

mbertschler(10000) 4 days ago [-]

When my team at a previous company finished a multi month migration of a large PHP app to the cloud we held a large deploy party where everyone gathered in a room and the CEO pressed a space bar labeled DEPLOY. A script ran, the load balancer config was upgraded and the whole team cheered for something ungraspable like this website in the cloud.

colordrops(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Have you started on the Reactocalypse effort yet?

Chris2048(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I heard of a team that did a similar thing;

Their app had some Norse name (something like Ragnarok or Valhalla etc) so the put it on an RC boat and torched it on a lake :-)

sethammons(10000) 4 days ago [-]

We've done code burnings before. Throughout the year, any tech debt fixed or code repos removed could be printed out and burned in a bon fire at an annual gathering. Burning old chef code that made life pain every day? Put a smile on many faces haha.

dusted(10000) 3 days ago [-]

That's a really neat way to harvest valid email addresses.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

we don't keep the addresses

Alupis(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> P.P.S. We're offsetting by 3x every bit of CO2 this creates via Cool Effect.

Is this really how this carbon offset thing works?

You release a bunch of greenhouse gases - but it's 'OK' because you pay money to some organization that might eventually plant some trees (or use your money to buy/rent fossil-fuel-burning machinery to orchestrate the planting of trees)?

Seems like guilt-avoidance to me.

contravariant(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Well you can't really expect those kind of solutions to scale. Burning a few bits of paper is small enough that you don't really need to worry all that much though.

landryraccoon(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is a counterproductive attitude.

If you pit climate responsibility against people living their lives, climate responsibility will lose, full stop. In the short term, human beings are the way they are, and you won't be able to change human nature before the climate is destroyed.

People offsetting their consumption is way, way better than people saying 'If you just want me to suffer, fuck it. I'm going to embrace being an asshole and do what I want.'

For example, I'm going to throw some logs on the fireplace over Christmas. I can either find a way to offset my emissions elsewhere, or just say fuck it, those environmentalists are assholes so screw them. It's probably better for both of us if I donate, because not having a fire is off the table.

tsjq(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I agree. Also, isn't the Kyoto protocol / carbon credits thing a very similar concept? Cmiw

savanaly(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I see this comment all the time and I'm never sure which of the two stances (or a third? don't want to pigeonhole you) people hold:

a) Offsets don't do what they claim to do, as in the earth in the universe where you give the offset has the same carbon problem as the one in the universe where you don't make the offset, or

b) Offsets are bad even if they do work. There's something morally repugnant about them even if logically they are moral.

From your wording and most of the responses I assume you hold a, but the tone and comparisons to indulgences, etc. make me think you actually (also?) hold b?

I personally hold the contrary opinion to b, but I'm not sure about a) so I'm always a little skeptical of the companies claiming to use carbon offsets. But the problem is definitely one of technology (measuring and holding people accountable to the offsetting) rather than an inherent philosophical contradiction in the concept of offsets.

zacmps(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Something like https://teamtrees.org/ or https://trees.org/ seems like a more direct approach to me.

boston_sre87(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yep, it is.

jacobwilliamroy(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Carbon offsetting is different from indulgences, because the offset is actually calculated and verifiable. You pay some money to cover some materials and labor, that labor will result in x amount of carbon-dioxide being sequestered over a certain amount of time. You can actually go and research this stuff if you're so skeptical. There are actual explanations for how everything works, so it is in absolutely no way like a catholic indulgence, where you never actually know if the money you're spending is doing anything. You can actually go on the web and find answers to all your questions. Yes, I mean you, specifically.

eat_veggies(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yes, it's more than a bit like paying indulgences to the church to absolve yourself of sins. That's how a lot of companies can be 'carbon neutral' by purchasing offsets and credits. I believe Tesla makes a significant amount of its money by selling these offsets to other companies.

core-questions(10000) 4 days ago [-]

That's the gist of carbon credits and taxation, yes. The idea is that the finances work as a disincentive at scale, but in reality if your business has no other way to operate, you're just going to pay the tax and live with it.

The airshed is, of course, indifferent to our financial games...

Now, if it actually works to change your behaviour so that you don't emit as much carbon because you can profit on the difference, well, hey! That's a good thing! But I don't think most industries can just stop on a dime and pivot like that.... it may provide incentives in the long term, or it just might end up with all the costs passed back to the consumer, who may or may not actually have a choice where to spend their money. This is basically the worst case scenario, where it just ends up being a financial game and doesn't improve anything. I hear that the solution in this case is just to ramp it up higher so that it eventually forces people to demand change; but they might just demand a change to the tax if no other options are forthcoming.

There's also the matter of catabolic processes, i.e. where something that emits less carbon is only financially feasible because of subsidies / taxes / etc. and in reality does not make economic sense to do. Any energy-generating technology that is not actually profitable without this is arguably taking in more energy than it produces, in the form of the externalities needed to enable it (i.e. fossil fuels that go into the building and maintenance of green energy projects).

Minor49er(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Penn and Teller came to the same conclusion on their show 'Bullshit' back in 2008:


It's basically this millennium's version of the Catholic Church's indulgences.

MCOfficer(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yes, it is. But it's still a LOT better than silently ignoring it, which is the standard today.

dwaltrip(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You are implying that carbon-offsetting is some sort of sham that doesn't do what it says it does. Can you please provide sources to backup your claims?

smarx007(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Carbon Offsetting is a practice frequently applied to go Carbon Neutral or Carbon Negative. For some reason, Net Zero is considered 'more comprehensive' than Carbon Neutral according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_neutrality. What you are expecting is what many call Zero Carbon (and obviously the right path to aim for).

greenshackle2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It is basically self-imposed carbon credits, since carbon credits are not politically viable or something.

danans(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> You release a bunch of greenhouse gases - but it's 'OK' because you pay money to some organization

It's about cleaning up after yourself. Clearly in the case of this machine, whose carbon impact is tiny compared to nearly every other combustion based machinery we use, the intent is symbolic.

> ...that might eventually plant some trees (or use your money to buy/rent fossil-fuel-burning machinery to orchestrate the planting of trees)?

For a reputable carbon offset, those carbon costs are accounted for in the offset, so even with them, it's a net-negative carbon transaction.

> Seems like guilt-avoidance to me.

That's besides the point. If it offsets the carbon produced, then it works, and it doesn't matter what the psychological motivation is.

But I agree that there is a problem with offsets: In a saner world we'd be imposing carbon taxes instead of this, but this is where we are today, with CO2 mitigation effectively taking the form of 'donations'.

teraflop(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You could apply the same logic to any economic activity.

You mean I can just take a book from a bookstore, depriving others of the chance to read it, and it's somehow 'OK' because I paid money to some organization that might eventually use it to print another copy?

young_unixer(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Seems like guilt-avoidance to me.

Isn't that what 99% of people, companies and governments are doing anyway? Doing things that look or sound green, while (voluntarily or not) ignoring the actual damage we're doing.

For example, my country banned plastic bags on the supermarket and everyone rejoiced, but no one has any intention to talk seriously about environmental problems. It's all a bunch of empty slogans and feel-good discourse.

ljnelson(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Part of what I love about this is that periodically it doesn't work and a dude comes in from off camera and manually makes sure your email is torched. Very 2020.

grishka(10000) 4 days ago [-]

And cameras sometimes go out of focus.

SteveNuts(10000) 4 days ago [-]

An allegory to all those deployments with just one manual step.

aresant(10000) 4 days ago [-]

After submitting a note I got a marketing email eg 'PS: We made this experiment for fun, but we made HEY to make email better. Give it a try at HEY.com.'

Just in case not obvious this is a marketing campaign by Hey.com (I was 90% sure) and they've got my email now :)

natchy(10000) 4 days ago [-]

oh! i thought it was merely trying to create buzz but I didn't think about building up an email list. pretty smart.

gfody(10000) 4 days ago [-]

hey.com claims to have 'fixed' email - I tried to find out what exactly they do to justify the claim but hit my timeout at about 5 minutes wading through vague testimonials. there's a 37min video that supposedly breaks it all down, I bailed about 5min in, afaict it's a just polished client.

switz(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Could one turn it into an infinite loop by sending an email with a reply-to at the same address?

psim1(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Way to go, Dumpster Fire Operator Guy. Nothing gives me more anxiety than waiting for an inevitable printer jam or mechanical failure to occur.

thatdetroitandy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

i got u fam

Historical Discussions: Apple Silicon M1: Black Magic Fuckery (November 24, 2020: 1032 points)

(1035) Apple Silicon M1: Black Magic Fuckery

1035 points 4 days ago by singhkays in 10000th position

www.singhkays.com | Estimated reading time – 36 minutes | comments | anchor

Black. Magic. Fuckery.

These are the words used by the user holdagold on reddit to describe their experience with the new Apple Silicon M1 Macbook Air. Rarely does a product leave people effusing to the extent Apple Silicon M1 has done this week. At best, you get the people who really care about a system's internals very excited like we saw with Zen 3's launch recently. For everyday users who just want to browse the web, stream some Netflix, maybe edit some documents, computers have been "perfectly fine" for the last decade. We've seen incremental year over year improvements with slightly more performance, slightly more battery life, marginally faster SSD, somewhat thinner design, etc. But something genuinely new, something revolutionary, something once in a generation has been missing. I believe the Apple M1 represents something we can truly call "revolutionary".

Before we proceed, it's essential to set the context that I've only used two Apple devices in my entire life - a personal 2013 MacBook Air and a 2019 MacBook Pro that I got through work. Everything else has been either a custom-built PC, Windows laptop, or an Android/Windows Mobile smartphone. Even for a "PC/Android Guy", I have to admit what I saw this week is something special. I believe it'll go down as a significant milestone in computing history on par with some industry-defining chips like Intel's 8086, 386, 486, Pentium, Conroe or AMD's K8, Zen, etc. I hope for the return of Moore's law and awakening of the x86 manufacturers from their slumber as this will be the "slowest" CPU Apple will ever make. As Henry Clay once said,

Of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is greater than that of competition.

This blog is then my observation of the excitement around this significant launch and captures some of the user and reviewer commentary.

What Apple Launched#

Apple launched its own M1 SoC that integrates an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, Media encode and decode engines, RAM - all on a single-chip. By including the RAM on the SoC, Apple is marketing this as a Unified Memory Architecture (UMA), central to the performance improvements M1 brings.

The first products and price points the M1 will be going into are:

  1. Mac Mini - $699
  2. MacBook Air 13' - $999
  3. MacBook Pro 13' - $1299

Apple promises its new chip is much more energy-efficient than its Intel counterparts, so the battery life promises have gone up across the board:

  1. On the MacBook Air - up to 18 hours of video on a single charge (up from 12 hours on this year's Intel-powered MacBook Air) and offers up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing per charge (up from 11 hours previously)
  2. On the MacBook Pro - up to 17 hours of wireless web browsing (up from 10 hours with this year's Intel-powered MacBook Pro), and 20 hours of video playback (up from 10 hours before).

To showcase that energy efficiency, Apple is shipping the Macbook Air without any fan! It will be passively cooled like all iPhones and iPads.

Performance must suck when trying to emulate x86 on ARM, right?#

Surprisingly no! Apple included Rosetta 2 ahead-of-time binary translation technology that translates code designed to run on Intel/x86 CPUs for the Apple Silicon CPUs. The performance is much better than expected and ranges between 70-80% of native code, which is surprising compared to Microsoft's struggles in emulating x86 Windows apps on ARM CPUs. Apple's answer might lie in something called TSO, aka. total store ordering as explained by u/Veedrac and and u/ShaidarHaran2 on reddit:

TSO, aka. total store ordering, is a type of memory ordering, and affects how cores see the operations performed in other cores. Total store ordering is a strong guarantee provided by x86, that very roughtly means that all stores from other processors are ordered the same way for every processor, and in a reasonably consistent order, with exceptions for local memory.

In contrast, Arm architectures favour weaker memory models, that allows a lot of reordering of loads and stores. This has the advantage that in general there is less overhead where these guarantees are not needed, but it means that when ordering is required for correctness, you need to explicitly run instructions to ensure it. Emulating x86 would require this on practically every store instruction, which would slow emulation down a lot. That's what the hardware toggle is for.

In other words, Apple has, of course, been playing the very long game. TSO is quite a large benefit to emulating x86, hence why Rosetta 2 appears to put out a very decent 70% of native chip performance, that and install time translation for everything but JIT features. That's on a chip not even meant to be a mac chip, so with further expanded caches, a wider, faster engine, perhaps applying the little cores to emulation which they're not currently, and so on, x86_64 performance should be very very decent. I'm going to dare upset some folks and say perhaps even be faster in emulation than most contemporary x86 chips of the time, if you only lose 20% of native performance when it's all said and done, it doesn't take much working backwards to figure where they'd need to be, and Gurman said they were aiming for over 50% faster than Intel.

Overwhelmingly postive user-reviews#

There have been numerous professional reviews and YouTube videos enumerating how Apple's new products are better than their previous Intel counterparts. In the end, though, it comes down to how these products fit into the core workflows of the consumer who's spending their money on them. There have been plenty of real-world experiences that I've seen in my filter bubble, mostly Reddit and Twitter. I will share some of these throughout this blog.

The Speed#

I pray that Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm is letting the M1 give them ideas, take them in new directions. Because this level of sorcery is too damn powerful to be held by a single company. Especially a monopolizing conglomerate like Apple. But fucking kudos to those chip wizards 👏

— DHH (@dhh) November 23, 2020

Purchased a new MacBook Air w/ Apple's M1 chip.

Holy crap.

Everything is WICKED fast.

Windows and prompts pop up instantly. Slowdown NEVER happens — even w/ numerous apps going.

Evernote, always a resources hog for me, is now a non-issue.

Huge props, Apple. 👍

— JP Mangalindan (@JPManga) November 19, 2020

Have had my M1 MacBook for about a week now... and have been blown away by the performance. Battery just last and lasts, and either the fan never runs or is inaudible. Everything seems faster, even the stuff not yet compiled for Apple Silicon.

— Blake Scholl 🛫 (@bscholl) November 24, 2020

u/MagneticGray on reddit:

Definitely don't get near one! I have the 12.9" iPad Pro, new Max iPhone, older 13"MBP, and a beastly gaming PC. Our IT guy got the new MacBook Pro today and after playing with it for 10 minutes I was already rearranging my finances in my head.

People keep saying this but it's eerily fast and silent, like alien technology. I exported a 5 minute clip in unoptimized Premiere Pro and I swear it did it faster than my PC with a 2070 ever has. The MBP wasn't even warm to the touch afterwards either.

u/leach4_pikes on reddit:

> It's honestly the best purchase I've made in the last 10 years.

This is exactly how I feel. Feels like I'm holding a magical device that shouldn't exist. Haven't felt that in a long long time

u/lawrencejuliano and u/havaloc on reddit:

I have a 2018 15" MacBook Pro which is used almost exclusively in clamshell mode these days and attached to an ultrawide monitor. I use it mainly for photoshop and Lightroom for my photography work, and it's been painful to say the least. It's quick for all of two minutes until the fan kicks in with the thermal throttling, at which point the machine chugs to a crawl. I've been wanting to get a desktop in replacement, eyeing the previous gen Mac Minis but unable to make the move due to the lack of discrete GPU and an inability to push my monitor's resolution.

In comes the M1 Mac Mini - I ordered right away and received it Tuesday, and my god has it been a breath of fresh air. First impressions were insanely positive, even hooked to my 5120x1440 display it was lightning fast. But yesterday I put it through the paces with edits from a recent shoot, and it was beyond stellar. More photoshop tabs open than ever before, Lightroom CC and classic open together, nothing could slow it down.

To say I'm impressed with this first gen is a massive understatement, this is shaping up to be one of the most enjoyable devices I've ever owned. First computer that hasn't had some feeling of compromise in a long time.

Buyers remorse is real#

u/afelzz and u/WizardSleeveLoverr on reddit:

I feel so fucking stupid for ordering a Macbook Air in April this year.

Same. I'm mad at myself. I ordered a MacBook Pro around the same time and of course this comes out. Trade in value is a joke too.

u/2shizhtzu4u on reddit:

I was stupid to by [sic] the early 2020 model. Sent it back today in exchange for this one. The performance on the M1 is far more than what I expected

u/kelev on reddit:

As someone who got an entry level 2020 MBP in June... fuck.

u/hijusthappytobehere, u/CanadianMapleBacon and u/takesthebiscuit on reddit:

cries in 2020 MBP

2020 MacBook Air purchased in August :(:(:(

Ha my dad is 5 months into his MBP gutted

u/mraheem on reddit:

Sucks cause i just bought a MacBook 3 years ago. And that battery is super super appealing.

Battery life is insane!#

I haven't plugged in this M1 Mac in almost 2 days. It's only half dead. lol. What is this sorcery? 🔋

Apple Silicon Macs are the future, man. Competing laptops are gonna have a hard time catching up. pic.twitter.com/FmX5uVKkFd

— Computer Clan (📌M1) (@thecomputerclan) November 20, 2020

The battery life on the new MacBook Pro with M1 chip is INSANE

I've been doing work on this for several hours, and it's still at 87% 🤯🤯🤯

I guess it was a good thing I got my 3 week old laptop stolen? Lol#AppleM1 pic.twitter.com/fENYDS235O

— William Lex Ham ✊🏽🧢 #TheyCantBurnUsAll (@WillLexHam) November 20, 2020

u/askthepoolboy on reddit:

I unplugged mine yesterday morning at 5:30am. Worked heavily on it throughout the day (lots of tabs open in chrome, video editing in FCPX, watching videos, photo editing in LrC, and testing lots of apps). When I finally shut it down at 10pm last night, I was at 60%. Yesterday was my heaviest use day in a LONG time, and I just couldn't kill it. My 2015 13' MBP would have died around 10am.

My 2015 still works fine, so I thought the switch would be lackluster. But the M1 is everything people are saying it is. It is just so damn fast and smooth. I've had a few very minor things happen like Preview locking up once, and Chrome freezing once, but other than that, this thing just flies. I fired up my 2015 this morning to transfer a few files, and it felt painfully slow. It's honestly the best purchase I've made in the last 10 years. I've been on it non-stop this morning for 4 hours and my battery is at 94%. It's insane. And in my two days of trying to kill this thing, the fan hasn't turned on once, and it's never gotten warmer than "cool to the touch."

u/Rogobono on reddit:

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Owned soooo many laptops over the years, both Mac and Windows. Never have I ever had something like this. I would say the closest would be an iPad but as we all know, certain tasks can be very limited on an iPad.

This thing handles everything like a freaking beast and the battery is quite literally an infinity stone at this point. It just blows everything else out of the water. I'm on day 3/4 right now. Countless hours of browsing, videos, videos in the background, light gaming for about an hour. The dang thing is still at 40%.

Everything from here on might as well be posted under r/BlackMagicFuckery because it just doesn't make sense.

u/rennarda on reddit:

I got my M1 MacBook Pro yesterday. I spent the afternoon setting it up, downloading tons of apps, installing Xcode, doing a couple of test builds, syncing all my photo library and letting Photos do its indexing. At no point did the laptop get warm, and was silent throughout. I probably should have got the Air, because it's clear I'm not going to stress this enough to get the fans to even kick in.

At no point did I plug the laptop in. I did all this on the charge it had from the factory - about 75% when I received it. By the time I was done for the day, it still had about 40% left.

It's absolutely magical. It's not iPad level battery, it's way better than even that!

u/coding9 on reddit:

I'm on day 3 with 6+ hours of use. Code compilations, npm installing benchmarks. Still have 63%

u/Peabo721 on reddit:

I bought a base pro and the battery is just bananas. I was working on subordinate performance reports in Adobe reader and listening to music with my AirPods today. From 8am to noon I used 14% battery.

u/Rogobono on reddit:

It's outta the park. For what I use it for, web browsing and videos, it literally will go a week without a charge. I look at the percentage sometimes just to be like, meh, of course it lost 25%, only to see it's down 5% after an hour! LMAO it's stupid how amazing it is. I thought my iPad Air battery was great before this.

Silence is Golden or Cool as a Cucumber?#

u/tapiringaround on reddit:

I have a dual boot hackintosh running a ryzen 5 3600xt, 32 gb ram, and a Radeon rx 5600xt.

My base MacBook Air M1 basically destroys it at everything except gaming. But I don't really game on mac anyways. Everything in the ui just feels immediate. Photo editing has worked great. I had it playing 4 4K videos at once and they were all just fine. It got a bit warm but never hot. And it's silent unlike my hackintosh that sounds like a jet engine and keeps my office 15° warmer than the rest of the house.

I had a new intel MacBook Air in my hands just a month ago that was burning my lap just trying to watch 4K Netflix. I was getting antsy waiting for apple silicon and needed a new laptop. I decided to send it back and just wait and I'm glad I did. This is a completely different experience.

u/havaloc on reddit:

Contrast this to a 2018 i7 Mac mini that I copied 60gb of files from an external hard drive last night. Sounded like a jet engine and was just as warm.

I've been using an M1 MacBook Air and it refuses to get warm...you don't realize what a jump this is until you've used an M1 in person.

Transferring data from my 2020 Intel MacBook Pro, to the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro.

The Intel is burning hot and the fans are maxed out.

M1 is cool and fans don't even seem to be running.


— Daniel (@ZONEofTECH) November 20, 2020

Is 8 GB RAM on x86 Intel/AMD the same as 8 GB on Apple Silicon M1?#

I can't believe I'm asking this. All my education and experience with technology has taught me that memory is memory. If you run a lot of programs, you need more of it. 16 GB minimum seems to be the default advice these days, with more if you're doing specialist tasks like video editing, compiling code. However, early M1 users' experience like below testing out with 8 GB seems to indicate otherwise.

How can this be so? PC usually dies with just 8 GB of RAM trying to use so many apps. There hasn't been much explanation of this, but a couple of posts might offer hints.

First, David Smith, an engineer at Apple, might have some insight into this.

...and ~14 nanoseconds on an M1 emulating an Intel 😇

— David Smith (@Catfish_Man) November 10, 2020

Second, John Gruber on Daring Fireball explains how this helps explain iPhone like RAM management that seems to be now possible on Macs.

Retain and release are tiny actions that almost all software, on all Apple platforms, does all the time. ..... The Apple Silicon system architecture is designed to make these operations as fast as possible. It's not so much that Intel's x86 architecture is a bad fit for Apple's software frameworks, as that Apple Silicon is designed to be a bespoke fit for it .... retaining and releasing NSObjects is so common on MacOS (and iOS), that making it 5 times faster on Apple Silicon than on Intel has profound implications on everything from performance to battery life.

Broadly speaking, this is a significant reason why M1 Macs are more efficient with less RAM than Intel Macs. This, in a nutshell, helps explain why iPhones run rings around even flagship Android phones, even though iPhones have significantly less RAM. iOS software uses reference counting for memory management, running on silicon optimized to make reference counting as efficient as possible; Android software uses garbage collection for memory management, a technique that requires more RAM to achieve equivalent performance.

Third, Marcel Weiher explains Apple's obsession about keeping memory consumption under control from his time at Apple as well as the benefits of reference counting:

where Apple might have been "focused" on performance for the last 15 years or so, they have been completely anal about memory consumption. When I was there, we were fixing 32 byte memory leaks. Leaks that happened once. So not an ongoing consumption of 32 bytes again and again, but a one-time leak of 32 bytes.

The benefit of sticking to RC is much-reduced memory consumption. It turns out that for a tracing GC to achieve performance comparable with manual allocation, it needs several times the memory (different studies find different overheads, but at least 4x is a conservative lower bound). While I haven't seen a study comparing RC, my personal experience is that the overhead is much lower, much more predictable, and can usually be driven down with little additional effort if needed.

Fourth, the memory bandwidth might have a role to play in enabling that multi-tasking

The memory bandwidth on the new Macs is impressive. Benchmarks peg it at around 60GB/sec–about 3x faster than a 16" MBP. Since the M1 CPU only has 16GB of RAM, it can replace the entire contents of RAM 4 times every second. Think about that...

Pushing the performance boundries at previously unseen price-points#

Perhaps the most striking feature of these M1 Macs is the value they bring at the sub-$1000 price point (base models). A task like editing 8K RAW RED video file that might have taken a $5000 machine before can now be done on a $699 Mac Mini M1 or a fan-less MacBook Air that costs $999 🤯

To those who are still doubting the M1 Macs, imagine if Apple launched a new MacBook Air at the same $999 starting price that came with a Core i7 10750H and RX 560 graphics, but they did it without a fan and added 6 hours more battery life. That's basically what they did 🤯

— Luke Miani (@LukeMiani) November 21, 2020

Apple M1 perf pr0n:

I compiled all the @libretro cores for comparison:

My 2019 12-core Mac Pro with 32GB RAM took 6095.13 seconds.

My 13" M1 MacBook Pro with 16GB ram took.... Wait for it.... 4570.09.

If you build code, there is nothing to think about. Get one of these Now!

— Lemont (@cocoalabs) November 21, 2020

I tried to build a fresh React Native on the new Apple MBA with M1 / 16GB ram. Cache cleaned.

It took 25s.

To compare, the same task, executed in exactly the same conditions, on my MBP (13', 2018, Core i5 2,3GHz, 16GB ram) took... 1min21s.

...and without any fan noise 🤯 pic.twitter.com/DlT7KdehoV

— Mathieu A. (@zoontek) November 19, 2020

I don't think people have *really* understood what @Apple has achieved with their latest M1 chips.

The MacBook Air ($999) now:

-outperforms the latest 16' highest-end model ($3-5K) -opens hundreds of Chrome tabs with no issues -runs all apps seamlessly without any fans/heating

— Ayush Sharma (@ayushswrites) November 21, 2020

Quick Minecraft test... even the MacBook Air running at 10 watts, without a fan, through a translation layer, is running 60fps at native res without getting warm at all. Apple Silicon is nuts lol pic.twitter.com/qpBjCBMv4l

— Luke Miani (@LukeMiani) November 21, 2020

Apple M1 🤯🚀 pic.twitter.com/REskldpMap

— Mustafa Al Marzooq (@Memo_AlMarzooq) November 18, 2020

Even something as benign as switching the display resolution is faster. I don't know who needed it to be faster but I guess it's the side-effect you get from all that integration 😂

Changing the scaled display resolution on the new #AppleM1 MacBook (left) is absolutely instantaneous 🔥 compared to the delay and screen blanking required by the Intel graphics on the 16 inch MacBook Pro (right) pic.twitter.com/YybbPF09TF

— Daniel Eran Dilger (@DanielEran) November 20, 2020

Server applications will see an uptake on ARM as well#

With AWS actively developing its own ARM processors (Graviton), it's only a matter of time before the other cloud providers (Azure, Google, Oracle) will follow. Out of the other three, Oracle seems to have the lead with publicly documented plans to bring ARM processors into the mix (FULL DISCLOSURE: I work for Oracle Cloud at the time of writing this blog have no knowledge of the plans around this product). I have a hunch that Google and Azure have plans to compete with AWS because of the scale on which the cloud providers operate; building your own processor is a no-brainer for cost and power efficiencies. It was then interesting to see this comment from ajsfoux234 on Hacker News in one of the discussion threads, as I believe it points to upcoming developer fervor and acceptance for ARM CPUs.

In my small universe, this was the week of ARM. I submitted multiple PRs to OS projects to get ARM compilations working. I started moving AWS instances off of Intel instances to the new Graviton2 instances.

A lot of old laptops that are "still working" are about to get replaced#

Long gone are the days of meaningful year-over-year increases in performance for CPUs. For the past 6-7 years, the best we get is a single-digit increase. Intel's 10nm node delays are well documented. A node that was once slated to ship in 2015 (!!) finally rolled out to mobile CPU in 2020 and is still missing on the desktop SKUs. This has meant that the incentive to upgrade to the latest CPUs is absent. I personally am perfectly happy running my Core i7 4790K from 2014. On the portable side, the same has generally been confirmed for an everyday user who mainly browses the web, edits documents, and streams Netflix. I have a Mid-2013 MacBook Air that still does the job! So it's no surprise to find so many examples of other users in the same boat. But what is surprising is that many of them are finally considering upgrading.

Perhaps the most extreme example of "it still works" :) from u/TctclBacon on reddit:

I still daily drive my 2005 PowerBook G4 1.5 15'. Maybe it's time for an upgrade...

u/Darius_AMS on reddit:

I've been using the same shitty windows laptop for ten years. Time to get an upgrade. M1 ftw

u/mikezer0 on reddit:

Can't wait to replace my almost 8 year old MacBook Air and which is still supported with a new 2020 M1. This is the moment I've been waiting for!

u/siffis on reddit:

Dammit. Dont need this!!! I keep telling myself. Running a MBP mid 2012.

Impressive. Definitely wanted to see real world use cases before I take the plunge.

For coding I am still using a 2012 16GB retina MacBook Pro.

I almost switched to an 16' i9 MBP last year, but thankfully decided to hold out for the ARM64 transition.

I made that mistake in 1990, buying a $10K Mac IIfx then a 68040 Quadra 900 less than a year later.

— John Brooks (@JBrooksBSI) November 20, 2020

Hackintoshers are ready to say "Yes"#

With Apple switching to its own silicon and ending support for x86, the writing is on the wall for the Hackintosh community. These are an exceptionally inventive group of individuals, so there's hope something might be figured out, though! Given that Hackintoshers are a particular bunch who don't take kindly to the Apple-tax, I was astonished to find some of them contemplating making it "Official" 🤔

u/themacmeister on reddit

After seeing the ridiculous performance and thermals of the new M1 chips, I am ready to update once I tire of Mojave :-)

u/TheGrandFree on reddit

Probably once these M1 chips hit 2nd gen and i see decent figures for the 16" i probably will. I do music and honestly a hackintosh isn't the best for running a commercial studio space

u/DoctorTurbo and u/Akhilv1 on reddit:

I personally went down the Hack route because I wanted a windows machine for gaming/engineering but also wanted to replace my 2014 15" MacBook Pro for everyday use and Final Cut Pro. I couldn't really justify spending $4000 for both computers, so I made the choice of getting a decent desktop and making sure I could make a hackintosh out of it.

Seeing the performance of these M1 chips though may convince me to get something like a Mac mini for my everyday usage since it's also plenty capable of any video editing I would throw at it.

I'm in you're same situation, and ended up pulling the trigger on an M1 Macbooks to replace my 2015 15' Macbook Pro.

So far, seems like a good combo

u/BrodyBuster on reddit:

I sold my hack today and decided to pick up the mini. We'll see if I made the right choice.

u/accuratecopy on reddit:

Quitting hackintosh next week waiting for my Mac Mini M1 16/512 to arrive.

Working in web and iOS development. My hackintosh will become an unRAID server. I will give My MacBook Pro 2018 to my girlfriend. I will change my Mac Mini M1 with the next MacBook Pro 16 with Apple Silicon.

u/ksandbergfl on reddit:

I'm thinking of getting myself the MacBook Air M1 for Christmas... no particular reason, I just think I would like it more than my old Ivy Bridge Hackintosh laptop

Windows laptops might lose potential buyers#

u/theodorr and u/Sluisifer on reddit:

Lol I was pulling my hairs out trying to buy a decent AMD Ryzen 4000 laptop in my region - portable, good battery, good glossy screen, decent price, premium build quality but this just demolishes everything I've found. Can't wait for mine to arrive!

100% same situation. I had looked at macbooks a while ago and was entirely unimpressed, so looking for a cheap-ish ryzen 4000 machine. I did buy one a couple weeks ago, but just returned it.

First Apple product I'll buy in a hair over a decade.

No doubt there will be other users who'll look at the performance and battery the Macbook Air can deliver at the $999 price point and not find anything comparable in the PC space. Either the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos will have to drop the price of their premium ultra-books or pressure Intel and AMD to come up with something equally compelling. Either way, the competition can only be good for consumers.

Which brings us to: What have others been doing all this time?#

With such a leap in performance/battery life/heat output/value for money etc., it's natural to ask questions of what other chip makers have been up to and how they will respond.

Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge:

The conversation has flipped instantly: it's no longer "why would you take a gamble on Apple's new, unproven processor" but "how will competitors like Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm respond?"

For years, Intel and AMD have been playing a chess match, sniping back and forth with improvements in CPU performance, battery life, and onboard graphics. Apple appears to be playing an entirely different game on an entirely different level. The same interplay between hardware and software that has led to such huge successes on the iPhone and iPad has now come to the Mac.

The most exciting — or frightening, if you're a traditional PC chip company — part of Apple's new chips is that the M1 is just the starting point. It's Apple's first-generation processor, designed to replace the chips in Apple's weakest, cheapest laptops and desktops. Imagine what Apple's laptops might do if the company can replicate that success on its high-end laptops and desktops or after a few more years of maturation for the M-series lineup.

But when a $1,000 M1 laptop can outdo a maxed-out, $6,000 MacBook Pro with quadruple the RAM and Intel's best chip, while also running cooler and quieter in a smaller and lighter form factor and with twice the battery life, where do competitors even go from here?

Dieter Bohn, The Verge:

It's not difficult to divine the future of Intel and even Qualcomm's roadmap — they are consistent (and consistently dull) in their year-over-year improvements. Their customers are phone and laptop makers, so they need to be clear and transparent about what's up. And I don't see either pulling a step change like the M1 out of a hat.

....PC makers have a problem today. So let's come back to right now. Apple has a thousand-dollar laptop that beats the pants off anything else in its price class, and so every Windows ultrabook is going to be compared to it for the foreseeable future — and may likely be found wanting.

Walt Mossberg on The Vergecast:

So in my use of this, I think the single thing that has impressed me most, the battery life has impressed me. I've not plugged this in in about 36 hours, and I have 75 percent battery life. So that's fantastic. It's buttery smooth. It's fast as can be.

But the thing that really impresses me is their translation layer. This thing called Rosetta 2. They had a Rosetta when they made another processor change some years ago. And what it does is it takes apps that have not been written for this processor that were written for the Intel — which is most of the third-party apps so far — and it runs them. And I got to tell you, they run fast. They run normally. I mean, fast. If you were doing a blind test and you didn't know this was originally written for Intel, still written for Intel, and it was running through this Rosetta thing, you would never know it.

MOAR user-reviews!#

u/holdagold on reddit:

I bought airbook M1 yesterday. Charged it once, sitting at 90% now.

Tried some games, played Wow classic for a bit - graphical settings at 10/10, 55-60 stable fps.

Black. Magic. Fuckery.

u/TheBrainwasher14 on reddit:

Bro I just borrowed my girlfriend's M1 MacBook Air fresh off a charge, used it full brightness for 2 hours, and it was only at 90%. My MBP would be dead with the same use. It's un fucking believable.

There cannot be enough hype for something like this. This will change the computing industry.

u/thefourthchime on reddit:

FWIW: I picked up a M1 Macbook Pro base today, 256gb disk, 8gb RAM. I did have one bad slowdown today. It seemed like Apple's photos app was doing something in the background and ate 3GB of RAM. I rebooted and it's been fine since.

In general, the performance has been bonkers good. I'm a cloud developer. I needed VSCode, brew, serverless, and python 3 w/ boto3. All not supported on A1, but it didn't matter. They all ran about as well as they do on my 2019 MBP. All this and I'm running Evernote, slack, and a billion chrome tabs. With 8GB of ram, it says it's using 6.5GB. I suspect plenty is swapped away, but it's so fast, who cares. Note that Evernote and Slack are slow piggy apps, they run fine.

They seem a bit slow, but that's just because it just blows through everything else. Especially web browsing. I'm using chrome (I can't get into safari) and it's insanely fast. I feel like my internet speed doubled.

I took it off the charger around 2pm, it's 7pm. I've been installing stuff left and right, watching videos, it's 7pm now and I'm at 58%. Now that I have most things I needed installed, it seems to barely use any battery at all.

It's what they promised, it's just amazing.

Reach out if you have any questions! Feel free to follow me on

All Comments: [-] | anchor

sunflowerdeath(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is not only Apple. All modern mobile ARM processors, ones that are used in Androids, too, they all are far ahead of Intel in TDP to performance ratio, almost by order of magnitude. Just make bigger ARM chips with more high-perf cores, and they will destroy Intel.

kllrnohj(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Not even close to true. Apple's ARM processors are unlike anyone else's, and everyone else's ARM processors are not particularly impressive. The power/performance isn't really there, and scaling performance up is not linear, either. You can't just 'make it bigger' and retain the same power/performance ratio you had. The 1W power draw that the 'big' ARM cores target, like the Cortex-A78, isn't even that special. You can run x86 cores at 1W/core all day long as well. How it performs at the power level is the question, but the ARM cores don't really perform all that well. See for example the slaughtering that is the 64-core Graviton2 vs. the 64-core Epyc Rome: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=epyc-vs-... (spoiler, the x86 chip has an overall performance lead of 50%, and they really aren't targeting that different of a power budget)

But even the M1 isn't an order of magnitude ahead on power/performance ratio. It's the leader, but it's sure as shit not 10x faster for the same power draw.

zamadatix(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Qualcomm hasn't been able to 'just make bigger ARM chips with more high-perf cores' and destroyed Intel for many years now - and not for lack of trying to displace Intel in the laptop market. Same with other ARM manufacturers. Apple did something unique with M1. I don't know what it is but at their current rate of improving in-house silicon the M2 is likely to be the best performing single thread chip in the world regardless of company, architecture, or power envelope. And that's not done by being the same as everyone else except the clever idea to 'just make it bigger'.

ytch(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'm curious that the A12Z DTK Mac mini shows moderate Geekbench score under Rosetta 2. Is this means some improvements are not M1-only, but already in Ax processor?

saagarjha(10000) 4 days ago [-]

A12Z has the necessary TSO hardware stuff, the remainder is that it is fairly fast itself and Apple did a good job in the Rosetta translator.

Havoc(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Exciting times ahead.

I hope the rest catch up though. If Apple dominates completely it'll be carnage for competition

neogodless(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I do think it is too early to count out the competition. To be sure, the Air and 13' Pro are ultrabooks, and this seems to be a great fit for the great performance being extracted while sipping battery life.

On the other hand, it's not a foregone conclusion that higher performance systems will dominate the competition. For most Apple-focused users, this is a comparison between overheating Intel chips shoved into Macs, and these slick new M1 chips, and it's a no-brainer. And yes, the M1 does compete very well in several benchmarks on a per core/instruction per clock basis. But the higher end 'many' core CPUs (especially outside the Intel universe cough AMD) with much higher TDP are still achieving much higher overall performance. Apple still has to catch up to them in those markets.

And for many people, right now Apple systems just are not an option. Not until all software and games run without issue. Software is a near certainty - games remain to be seen, but Apple has not prioritized them in the past. (And while the M1 integrated graphics are great, they are not at all competitive with existing dedicated graphics, and will not be suitable for replacing gaming systems.)

jordache(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Just don't quote anything from Dieter Bohn

HatchedLake721(10000) 3 days ago [-]


victor106(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> A task like editing 8K RAW RED video file that might have taken a $5000 machine before can now be done on a $699 Mac Mini M1 or a fan-less MacBook Air that costs $999

That's insanely great. Maybe I am exaggerating but Apple's M1 might be the best innovation in the tech industry in the past 5 years.

CraftThatBlock(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's very easy to perform very well on a specific benchmark when there's dedicated hardware for this.

I'm not saying this isn't good, it's great for people editing, but this isn't a general indicator of performance (which is reportedly good!)

person_of_color(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Even more than k8s?

jandrese(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The RAM limitation on the first gen M1s makes this claim a bit dubious.

Tepix(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Why are we even talking about 8k video? It's something that almost noone needs and even fewer people have to edit. My guess is most people are still happy with editing their FHD videos. Something that works well on a five year old laptop.

rangewookie(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I did this test last night with my buddy's 6K RED RAW footage. I could play 6K realtime at 1/4 quality, while my fully loaded MBP with i7 + 32GB of ram could only playback at 1/8 quality. Keep in mind real editors NEVER edit raw footage, they use proxies.

The really impressive part was that the mac mini did NOT spin up the fan during playback, completely silent. The i7 Macbook Pro sounded like a jet turbine spinning up within 30 seconds. Awesome.

diggan(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Since you've been able to edit high-res (haven't tried 8K but 4K and 6K been working fine) footage on commodity hardware (that costs way less than $5000) for... years, via editing software that supports operations via GPU (like DaVinci Resolve), you still think it's the best innovation in the tech industry? Add to it that the M1 is proprietary, only developed for one OS and one company, it feels less like innovation for the industry and more like Apple-specific innovation.

Also, the argument that only $5000 could edit high-res footage is false even without the invention of GPU editing. Proxy clips been around for as long as I've done video editing, even though the experience is worse, it's been possible to edit at reduced resolutions for a long time.

ur-whale(10000) 3 days ago [-]

PSA: however impressive the M1 hardware is, you're still going to be stuck using OSX, playing in Apple's walled garden and being subjected to their awful policies.

I'll gladly join the groupie crowd once Linux runs stable on it.

seszett(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> I'll gladly join the groupie crowd once Linux runs stable on it.

Is there any hope that this will happen in a reasonable timeframe?

I'm very happy running Linux on my (rather old) MacBook Air, which is hardware-wise the best (not in performance but in comfort, durability, design) laptop I've used yet. I want to change because it's starting to show its limits now, but I haven't found yet something to replace it.

ubermonkey(10000) 3 days ago [-]

MacOS is not in any sense a walled garden. You can run any code you like on it. It's a general purpose computing environment.

I really wish Apple-detractors would find something true to complain about instead of spreading this misinformation.

Findeton(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I'm gladly waiting for Ryzen 4800u to actually be available in good quality laptops, or otherwise the next iteration of Intel Mobile CPUs, but like you I won't use Apple's walled gardens (except for work, as I'm forced to).

EugeneOZ(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Same here. I took my decision to leave macOS after their release of BigSur. It's absolutely, 101% unacceptable to me when someone else controls what program I can run on my hardware, and I should hope that their server will not go down.

I still congratulate the team of Apple Silicone. Hope it will force Intel to create something similar.

oblio(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Does 'Linux run stable' on existing Macs? Not that I know of, 15 years after the introduction of Intel Macs.

You might have to wait forever.

quantummkv(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Given that Linux desktop cannot properly utilize even the limited amounts of very common HW accelerators build into AMD and Intel chips (video decoders) and the existing GPU's (all of them suck in different ways), running Linux on M1 would be a waste of everything without giving Linux any noticeable improvement over existing x86 machines.

ogre_codes(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> Apple's walled garden

Apparently over the years the definition of 'Walled Garden' has drifted a lot. The iPhone has a 'Walled Garden', unless you jailbreak, it's very difficult to run anything outside the App Store.

My Mac? Almost nothing I run is from the App Store. Nothing needs to be from the App Store. Most of what I run doesn't even go through Gatekeeper and it certainly never touches software I build or compile myself.

If a 'Walled Garden' can be disabled by bypassed by a single entry in your hosts file, by running from the command line, or any other number of ways, it's a damned short wall around that garden.

Lots of valid criticisms of MacOS, but it's nowhere in the ballpark of a walled garden.

Liskni_si(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> I'll gladly join the groupie crowd once Linux runs stable on it.

There's still the issue with the keyboard having 7 fewer keys than a modern ThinkPad, and compared to the classic 7-row ThinkPad keyboard, 15 physical keys are missing. That's a considerable disadvantage. Mac laptops have superior displays, but we're using keyboard just as often.

mcintyre1994(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I honestly can't think of any Apple policy that restricts what I run on my Mac. I haven't upgraded to Big Sur yet, and maybe I just don't rely on anything yet that's against their policies and will be mad when I hit that point. What concretely are the awful policies that are restrictive on Mac that you're thinking of?

mlindner(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I'm not in a walled garden on the Mac... I can run anything I want on it, and I do.

motoboi(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> 'stuck using OSX'

Oh, god. Stuck is not even close to define the joy of OSX. I've been 'stuck' with OSX for 10 years and every time I tried the waters of windows or ubuntu again I came home crying.

Not perfect since Sierra? Yes. Windows and Ubuntu not even close? Yes. Personal opinion? Yes. Hardware was crap for last 2 years and make me consider moving back to windows? F* yes!

But now with those M1 chips I'm already saving money for an Air (very very expensive in Brazil).

deergomoo(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> you're still going to be stuck using OSX

One folk's bug is another folk's feature

CyberRabbi(10000) 3 days ago [-]

These ppl are so drunk on the kool aid they don't even realize that 80% of their experience is common to every new laptop purchase. In 1 year these "revolutionary" computers will be boring and slow again, especially when their batteries start to deteriorate.

jamil7(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Do you really believe this is a common hardware release? There's nothing revolutionary here? People love to hate on Apple which is fair for a lot of reasons but I think you have to give credit where credit is due. The M1 will push all laptops forward and force others to complete which is great for customers.

redelbee(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I have an iPad Pro with keyboard and a 15-inch MacBook Pro I got when my previous MacBook Air couldn't handle the video editing I was dabbling in.

I desperately want one machine (and probably in the iPad form factor) but I don't know if Apple is ever going to get me there.

What say you HN? Is there a future where I can have a single machine? Any other suggestions for what I can do about it today? I've test driven Surface computers in various flavors from friends of mine and I really can't get down with Windows. Am I doomed to carry two machines with me all the time?

jrockway(10000) 4 days ago [-]

What is stopping you from selling your iPad and having a single machine right now?

I have personally avoided laptops for years because I hate managing more than one machine. The one time a year I need my laptop, it's out of commission for a day while updates install or whatever. For that reason, I have a desktop and take an iPad Pro when I'm going to be away from home. The iPad is no computer replacement, but it can SSH places and can do enough work to justify not owning a laptop. More importantly, it can't have any configuration done to it. But if you already have a laptop, I would just skip the iPad entirely. The laptop is your 'one device'.

(Would I want a mobile processor as my primary means of doing work? Absolutely not. But, people seem to make it work... at the cost of being blown away by a new processor that's slower than HEDTs they could have been using for a few years ;)

chrisabrams(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I remember how disappointed I was when the iPad 1 came out and it didn't run OS X...some of us have wanted an OS X tablet for 20+ years...

I really do think that a 13 or 15 inch MacBook Pro 2 in 1 like the Dell xps would sell pretty well...

[edit] fixed spell check

tlrobinson(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I'm curious if/how Apple Silicon will compete in the server market.

Apple certainly isn't known for producing cost effective servers, but if they really posses this technology that leapfrogs commodity hardware they'd be crazy not to use it in every market possible, right?

Synaesthesia(10000) 3 days ago [-]

That's what I was thinking. On the other hand they do have an amazing vehicle for selling high margin goods already.

rnmp(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Well, they recently updated their services agreements to allow developer services to update OS on multiple machines free of charge.

MacStadium is one of those companies that provides Mac servers. They wrote about it: https://blog.macstadium.com/blog/developers-big-sur-and-vind...

devwastaken(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I see no mention of simd in these threads. The only thing that has made high data throughput possible is vector operations. What's the performance of libjpegturbo or hevc in software?

lern_too_spel(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It supports NEON like most phone CPUs. The new thing for a desktop is sharing memory for the CPU and GPU with a much faster bus instead of having the GPU sit on a slower bus with its own fast memory, so if your workload can benefit from using the GPU, you don't have to worry about host to device transfer.

hrydgard(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Apple CPUs have great NEON performance, so if those libraries have NEON paths, they'll scream.

carry_bit(10000) 3 days ago [-]

What does this mean for the future of CPU design?

VLIW and other advanced designs never went mainstream in part because the AOT on install/JIT everything future never arrived. But with the success of Rosetta 2, has that future finally arrived?

Veedrac(10000) 3 days ago [-]

If anything Apple has proven that the OoO power tax is mostly imaginary, so we'll probably just get more, bigger OoO for a while.

jwmoz(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Can't wait to buy the M1 and feel the speed upgrade.

Fast-forward 2 years later browsing the web is slow as hell, battery runs out in an hour, can't even CMD-TAB without lagging.

nrvn(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Program expands so as to fill computer resources available for its execution.

nbzso(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Those of us who are long enough in UI design know what is a result of attention to detail and professional GUI. We have all used Os X not only for UNIX like core (Darwin) but for consistent UX and UI libraries. In some point in time Apple was influencing our work in really meaningful way by setting the standard (remember Apple Human Interface Guidelines pre Yosemite). For me personally Soundtrack Pro is most polished professional interface ever made. So in this context UI "innovation" trough emoji and implementation of white space for touch interaction (without touch interaction) is funny but not usable. Performance aside ( which is big accomplishment ) I miss the old approach with balance of contrast and natural flow and will stay on Catalina as long as I can. If Apple changes their stance on telemetry, bypassing things and fixes UI/UX design I have no problem to join again. What is lacking in Linux desktop is consistent approach to UI, but for some of us may be is time to revaluate and relearn things. My personal time investment is in Emacs, with time I have more and more respect for those ideas of freedom and consistency. The selling point for me with Apple was professional interface and high UI standards, sadly they are gone. But hey everyone of us is different and this is good, right?

jolux(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Oh hey another emacs user!

You can turn off all the telemetry in macOS and they ask you if you want it on when you setup the computer.

Agree to disagree on Big Sur, I love the new look. Keep in mind they're calling it macOS 11, so there are probably bigger and less superficial changes down the road.

grishka(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's all mostly redesign for the sake for redesign at this point. Desktop OSes had been feature-complete for quite some time, but they still have to update every year. They have to. Don't you even dare question that. I'm still on Mojave and it does everything I need from an OS. I also absolutely love native Mac apps, which are becoming rarer and rarer. And no, iOS apps that run on macOS aren't native mac apps. The abomination that is the mojave app store? That definitely took some extra talent to break every single UI guideline, but thankfully I only open it once a couple months.

nercury(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's quite clear how this 'magic' is possible. Weather you like it or not, the future is a 'product on a chip'. That includes everything: CPU, GPU, RAM, SSD, and assembly instructions for vendor-specific things like NSObject. This puts everything physically close together (efficient), eliminates all the protocol compatibility overhead (efficient), removes all the standards the company can't control (efficient). The downside, of course, that this will be the ultimate vendor lock-in, which is hard to compete with, and can't be serviced by anyone else. The upside is that the alternatives will always remain relevant.

xadhominemx(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Putting the CPU and RAM on the same die is absolutely not the future. Not only is it impossible to mix and match process technologies in that way, it would be extremely wasteful given the far greater numbers of metal layers on a CPU and the performance improvement would be marginal. The same is even more true with integrating CPU and NAND flash.

cblconfederate(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's not a sustainable model. Apple relies on the rest of the market being open and interoperable for their products to be useful (even the fastest computer is useless without content). If every competitor turns to monolithic solutions, they all lose.

xphos(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Yeah I was wondering forever to how that were emulating x86 faster than native x86 its because they brought ram internal. But the ultimate black box is a better word than vendor lock-in. If they are gutting all the common stuff I wonder what dragons are lurking. Like this is the kind of design change that introduces something like meltdown in my opinion. Maybe MacOS can hide these things but there is definitely some hardware issues there its to many moving parts for it not to be.

jbverschoor(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Did anyone find a review / benchmark of QEMU emulating x86 on ARM?

thoughtsimple(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I've been trying to build QEMU but keep running into road blocks. Will work on it again today.

totorovirus(10000) 3 days ago [-]

A moment when a tech giant can build a computer from bottom to top.

spear(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Apple does use TSMC to build the M1 itself. So it's not quite bottom to top like the early computers up to the early to mid 90s, when a number of the workstation companies (eg. DEC, IBM, HP) still had their own fabs to make the CPUs.

Teknoman117(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Tin foil hat warning - but how much of the M1 performance improvement is from optimizations made in Big Sur for Apple Silicon that they just didn't bother implementing for x86 since it's now the outgoing technology for Apple?

I realize the reducing in power consumed for any given quantity of work is downright amazing for laptops, but I guess I'm more curious about workstation and (build) server kinds of applications.

Also, how many of these benchmarks are x86 versus Apple Silicon where both are running Big Sur. I've been seeing so much 'Xcode on Catalina' versus 'Xcode on Apple Silicon on Big Sur'

kllrnohj(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The better tinfoil hat question is how much did they intentionally sandbag the outgoing Intel models vs. how much was it a case that M1 was delayed? Such as the Intel MacBook Air whose fan wasn't even connected to anything? Was that bad design because it wasn't supposed to exist, or was that bad design intentional to help drive up the huge generation over generation gains?

whynotminot(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Apple has been using x86 for practically 15 years now. Your theory is this whole time they've been too lazy to bother to implement 'god mode' ?

What about Windows and Linux on x86? Also too lazy?

It can be fun to put on the tin foil hat, but at least make sure the theory makes even a little bit of sense first.

blihp(10000) 4 days ago [-]

That's basically what they did when they made the switch from PPC to x86. IIRC, there was an edict a few years before the switch (Jobs talked about it in an interview at the time) where teams were told something along the lines of not making any design/optimization decisions that were tied to PPC. They likely did the same thing with x86 this time.

Labo333(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I might have an explanation for the reduced RAM consumption thanks to the M1 chip: RAM compression (https://www.lifewire.com/understanding-compressed-memory-os-...).

I'm using zram on manjaro and I see it as a trade-off between RAM and CPU power.

_a1_(10000) 3 days ago [-]

TBH this sounds like Windows '95 era 'RAM doublers' like SoftRAM 95 :D

anigbrowl(10000) 4 days ago [-]

For those of us who just don't where MacOS is concerned, what are the prospects for Linux on an M1?

kllrnohj(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Probably not very good, but the recent Ryzen offerings are still pretty strong, as is the very newest Intel stuff. See for example the 4900HS & 4800U on this Anandtech chart comparing spec2017 vs. the M1: https://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph16252/119365.png

That's basically just sorted by power consumption. 4900HS is the most power used & fastest, followed by the ~22W M1 with all 8 cores loaded, then the 15W 4800U, and then the M1 with just the 4 bigs was last.

heavyset_go(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Pretty slim, ARM SoCs require a lot of work on the vendor's part to support Linux[1], and Apple has said that they won't support running other operating systems outside of virtualization.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25180129

_ph_(10000) 3 days ago [-]

There is a good chance to run it inside a VM, already shown at WWDC, so it only depends on Parallels/VMWare releasing their updates for the M1. On the bare machine, it is somewhat unsure. Currently it is not possible, but it is not clear how difficult it would be. In any case, the question would be about driver development, as this is a completely custom computer. But as the Mini isn't expensive and this is a really interesting chip, I could imagine, that a lot of Linux hackers are trying to get it running. Even Linus Torwalds expressed interest in the M1 MB Air.

harpratap(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Maybe better to wait for good ARM chips on a PC. Now that there is a demand for it, I'm sure some ARM vendor will step up if not Qualcomm

globalguy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

How about when connecting an external monitor? My 2019 Mac Book Pro will get very hot after a few minutes and many people report the same.

thoughtsimple(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The M1 Air is cool as a cucumber. I've tried everything in my power to heat it up, nothing works. The closest I've gotten is slightly warm when running the Cinebench benchmark.

WhyNotHugo(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I'm amused by the praise.

I've been a Linux user for the last 10 years. Last week I got an M1 Mac Mini to do some iOS development on.

It feels fast, but not substantially faster than Linux. Safari is a bit snappier than Firefox, but that's about it.

Was macOS on Intel really that much slower?

andrekandre(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> Was macOS on Intel really that much slower?

not really, except for maybe integrated intel graphics (switching monitors is the bane of my life)

that being said, the same or better performance of a high-end 'hair-dryer' macbook pro in the form factor of a fanless macbook air and price-point + having increased battery-life is the huge draw imo

until now, we've never had that kind of high end performance in such a small, quiet and inexpensive form factor

jayd16(10000) 3 days ago [-]

So how long before AMD and Intel start packing 16GB of RAM on their chips? The M1 has what, 1.5x the bandwidth of the other top chips?

Tuna-Fish(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Despite the confusing Apple terminology, the RAM on M1 is not on the chip, it's on the package. Similar things have been used in x86 laptops in the past, just find any laptop that uses LPDDR4.

exoji2e(10000) 3 days ago [-]

'iOS software uses reference counting for memory management, running on silicon optimized to make reference counting as efficient as possible; Android software uses garbage collection for memory management, a technique that requires more RAM to achieve equivalent performance.'

This statement is nonsense. Reference counting is typically used in garbage collection. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_counting

It is equivalent of saying 'On iOS devices the memory efficient Chrome app can be used, but on Android phones a browser is used, which requires more RAM for equivalent performance.'

rsynnott(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> Reference counting is typically used in garbage collection

While you _can_ implement a garbage collector with reference counting, and in the broadest possible definition of 'garbage collector' you could call Apple's use of reference counting a garbage collector, no, what people typically call garbage collectors are not, today, typically primarily dependent on reference counting.

hombre_fatal(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The first section of your wiki link compares ref counting vs tracing GC (Java).

jb1991(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> It is equivalent of saying

No, they are not equivalent.

It is true that reference counting is a form of GC. However, Java's GC is not based primarily on reference counting. It is much more complex and, generally, does indeed use much more memory.

Swift's reference counting is not much different than C++ shared pointers, except that it is all baked into the language. It is generally true that iOS devices require less memory to achieve the same things as Android devices.

pocket_titan(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Looks like the comparison is between tracing garbage collection & reference counting, both of which could be said to belong to the broader category of 'garbage collection' algorithms. I do agree tho that it's confusing

boromi(10000) 3 days ago [-]

How far away (in years) are chips comparable from AMD and say ARM ( Microsoft SQ2 ) for Windows machines?

tachyonbeam(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I think the biggest reason this has such a huge performance advantage is that the 8/16GB RAM is built into the chip. Modern CPUs are mostly limited by memory bandwidth rather than compute performance, and this has way more memory bandwidth than competing CPUs because of the tight integration. This RAM might also be clocked much higher than what we're used to, because there is no long bus to the CPU anymore.

The downside of this SoC design, though, is that while you can fit 8GB or 16GB on a chip, it might be difficult to fit more. The 8/16GB limit might explain why this design is reserved to the smaller laptops for now, and they haven't replaced x86 in all of their lineup. If you want more RAM than that, then you would again be stuck with less memory bandwidth to your external RAM. You would maybe end up with a design where some applications are kept in the internal RAM and some in the external, or where your internal RAM acts as an L4 cache to the external RAM.

It's not that difficult IMO for Intel or AMD to replicate this with an x86 design. They might not have to modify the CPU core and its caches that much, mostly the memory controller. How much time they would need though, I'm not sure. There's some probability they were aware that this was coming and already had something in the works. Otherwise, maybe one or two years?

emadabdulrahim(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The only downside of the amazing new M1 MBP is that it runs WoW on max settings 60fps. And now I'm back into the world of Azeroth. Especially with the launch of Shadowlands.

What the hell, Apple, I thought I was safe and immune from video games with my MacBooks.

hombre_fatal(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Further, here's a spreadsheet of the perf people are seeing with common games on various M1 hardware.


bak3y(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is the first comment that's made me actually want one...

brundolf(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> cries in 2020 MBP

We may need to start a support group

hombre_fatal(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's not all bad. 2020 non-M1 MBP is definitely the safe bet.

M1 machines have ways to go if you're going to use it as a developer. I hope they are worked out by the time the 16' M1 MBP gets released later next year. But I'd certainly get a non-M1 machine if I was replacing my daily driver today.

whynotminot(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Heh, I'm in the 2020 MBP group. But I still think these M1 Macs--as awesome as they undoubtedly are--are not quite yet ready for developers. Virtualization support still looks iffy, and while I really don't care much whether my container is Arm or x86, the ecosystems and tooling around those architectures are still at different levels of maturity.

The exciting (or depressing, for the 2020 crew) thing is that the fact that these M1 Macs are such a triumph probably does mean that these various rough edges will be smoothed out way faster than even I, a self admitted Apple fan, expected them to be.

I was thinking I'd be waiting until 2022 or 2023 before being ready as a developer to have my primary device be an Apple Silicon laptop. But with the overwhelming success of these chips, every developer wants to be on these things ASAP. I could easily see the ecosystem for Arm being radically improved over the next year.

spurgu(10000) 4 days ago [-]

'Luckily' I recently bought a 2015 MBP (to replace my 2015 Air) and had been set to move to Linux next. Now this recent news make me want to reconsider.

kenneth(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I do take slight issue with the section about RAM performance. The idea in the article is that M1 Mac runs software that uses reference-counting instead of garbage collection as its memory model (i.e. Objective-C and Swift software). Two issues...

1/ Sure, but that's also the case with with x86 Intel Macs. Still running reference-counting Obj-C and Swift software for the most part. So how is this a M1 differentiator?

2/ Also, Macs run plenty of software that mostly uses garbage collection, e.g. any Electron app (Spotify, Slack, Superhuman, etc.) is mostly implemented in GC'd Javascript. There's also plenty of software written with other runtimes like Java or implementing a GC.

So this does nothing to explain why 8GB of RAM on an OS X device with an M1 chip is better than 8GB of RAM on an OS X device with an x86 chip from Intel.

roguelynn(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Minor correction: Spotify isn't Electron, it's Chromium Embedded Framework.

berkut(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I don't quite understand how 'retain' and 'release' can be more memory efficient on Apple Silicon than x86.... I can understand how they can be more efficient from a performance standpoint in terms of more efficient reference counting, but I don't understand how that translates to less memory usage which is apparently what's being argued... ?

Unless on x86 some of the 'free's when the ref counts hit 0 were being batched up and deferred, and that doesn't need to happen now?

sedatk(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Reference counting releases memory as soon as it gets dereferenced, while GC cleans up memory periodically, which means higher memory usage (more than what's actually in use at any moment).

pritovido(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It is a simple process, everything that you do in a language needs to be mapped into lower level instructions.

If the lower level hardware instruction does not exist, you use multiple of other instructions to emulate that.

If you add a low level instruction that maps a very common high level operation in hardware, you don't need to call 5 to 10 software functions(extremely expensive),each calling lots of opcodes but just can execute a single opcode and works by hardware beings extremely faster.

It is not hard to be better than Microsoft here. From my personal experience and having disassembled lots of their code they always were lazy bastards. They cared 0 about efficiency. Why should they? They had monopolies like Office or Windows giving them over 95% margins. They could just use the money they printed to buy everything instead of competing.

Lisp machines did that (adding opcodes that map the high level language) with the most common Lisp operators. Those machines were extremely expensive, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars because few could afford that. Apple sells in massive scale, in the hundreds of millions of CPUs per year, making this cheap for them.

dwaite(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I believe the idea was that reference counting was more memory efficient than other forms of garbage collection, such as copy collectors and mark and sweep collectors which commonly make up generational garbage collectors.

Languages like Java also do not yet support stack-allocated value types outside a few primitives like integers, and heap allocations are both slower and less space efficient due to the indirection and memory management.

saagarjha(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I believe it was being brought up as an example of 'Apple has designed their hardware around their software' and then that translates to 'Apple's software does well on machines with less memory'.

ianhowson(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I don't think retain/release perf has anything to do with memory consumption, but I have seen a bunch of reviews claiming that 8GB is perfectly fine.

This is fascinating to me, because:

(a) every 8GB Mac I've used in the past has been unusably slow

(b) since upgrading my 32GB Hackintosh to Big Sur, my usual 40GB working set is only about 20GB.

(c) My 2015 16GB MBPr with Big Sur is also using about half as much physical memory on the same workload. Swappiness is up a little, but I haven't noticed.

So my guess is that something in Big Sur has dramatically reduced memory consumption and that fix is being commingled with the M1 announce.

breatheoften(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I think the argument they were trying to get to but totally failed to make is possibly along these lines

huge memory bandwidth relative to ram size + os level memory compression => massive reduction in memory pressure for many many many workloads.

macos has supported memory compression for awhile now -- i would hypothesize that M1 may have massively improved that subsystem in ways that actually do translate into needing less memory on average for a lot of common real-world workloads that amount to 'human timescale multitasking' between large working sets -- eg i click this app and it has a huge working set and then click into another that has a large working set and then click back -- with those clicks that represent application context switches occurring very very rarely in machine time scale.

If memory compression subsystem can swap working sets into and out of compressed memory space insanely quickly with low power usage then the os might've gotten very aggressive about using that feature to put not recently accessed memory into compressed memory space.

trevyn(10000) 4 days ago [-]

They stuff the reference count in the unused bits of the 64-bit pointers.

corytheboyd(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Call me dumb, but I didn't realize they had done so much memory optimization to make the physical 8GB of RAM so effective. I saw a very much lower number than I expected and just assumed it wouldn't handle memory intensive workloads well. As someone who develops web tech my entire life revolves around crushing RAM, now I think the M1 may actually result in big gains for my workload hrmm

joshstrange(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Same here, I guess after years of the iPhone specs being lower than Androids when it came to things like RAM but still crushing Android phones should have clued me in. I figured that with 16GB max that the new computers would be a non-starter for me but from what I've seen I was wrong about that. Unfortunately the monitor limit IS a non-starter but I'll be first in line for the M2/M1S/M1Z (whatever they call it) in next year's new 16' MBP (assuming I can continue to drive all my monitors).

koffiezet(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I understand the machine is great or going to be great for most use cases. My mbp is my main workhorse, but as a freelance SRE 'devops' guy, the Apple ARM platform won't be suitable for my job any time soon, if ever.

Docker is not yet available - but even when it would become available, emulating virtualised x86 code is explicitly not going to be supported. That in many cases means pulling a docker image built in a ci/cd pipeline where a dev screwed something up and debugging it locally is no longer an option. If I wasn't freelance, I could probably get away with some cloud instance to run all my docker stuff, but I'm dealing with too many different environments, for clients with various different legal requirements making this simply 'not an option'.

Too bad, because the machines look very promising for everything else. Development tools aren't there yet, but I expect that to be fixed pretty quickly.

seabrookmx(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> emulating virtualized x86 code

I don't think this is an issue for Docker. They can run an ARM64 Linux VM instead of the current x86 one, and then use QEMU to run x86 Docker containers within it if they want.

The bummer is that this won't be taking advantage of Rosetta 2 so it'll likely perform bad, but it might be good enough for debugging the odd image or even development depending on _how_ bad.

ant6n(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Docker has QEMU built in. You can run ARM docker images on x86, and I believe you can run x86 docker images on ARM.

This is not very widely talked about, I stumbled across it by accident: I was working on an x86 emulator on my Chromebook, and was going back and forth between the ARM Chromebook and an x86 laptop. I was working within docker on both machines. At some point I was running a test binary saying 'this is an ARM-binary' and forgot to run it using the emulator - but it still executed directly on the x86 machine. It was very confusing and took me a while to figure why my x86 cpu was executing this little static ARM binary just fine - QEMU inside Docker.

thinbeige(10000) 3 days ago [-]

FWIW, I never run docker on my local machine (I develop on a remote machine), benefits: remote machine os + setup is very close to production and GBit bandwidth up and down at my hoster is so much nicer when working with Docker images.

runeks(10000) 2 days ago [-]

> [...] the Apple ARM platform won't be suitable for my job any time soon, if ever.

> Docker is not yet available - but even when it would become available, emulating virtualised x86 code is explicitly not going to be supported.

Is there any reason why Apple couldn't add support for emulated virtualized x86 code in a future ARM CPU? The M1 doesn't support it, but might the "M2" or "M3" support it?

I ask because I'm in the same situation as you, where not being able to run x86 Docker containers would make me not buy an ARM MacBook Pro.

zamadatix(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It'll be interesting what happens in a couple of years if server side gets more mixed with ARM as well.

treve(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I wonder how fast M1 feels compared to, say, KDE on a high-end Intel machine. Is it really that much faster than anything, or just faster than what people are used to with OS/X and Windows.

hu3(10000) 3 days ago [-]

That's what I'm wondering. Perhaps they are used to thermal-throttled poorly-cooled under-performant screamingly-noisy machines like the mpb 16':


My colleague has a 4 year old dell laptop connected to 2 monitors doing all kinds of cpu demanding work while keeping his 100+ chrome tabs open. I never heard the darn machine cooler fans spinning.

yardie(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'm typing this from a 2014 i7-4980HQ 15' MBP. This machine would have been replaced in 2017 but I wasn't impressed with that years model. I had planned to upgrade in 2020 but the announcement of the M1 basically quashed that. I've been on this planet long enough to know when Apple changes course like this the old architect is already obsolete. 68k -> PPC -> x86_64 -> ASi. The PPC G5 got exactly 1 OS upgrade (10.5) before it was EOL'd.

If the reports are to be believed on performance and Rosetta than this upgrade may be one of the smoothest in Apple history. The Intel CPU has had an incredibly long run, 15 years, at Apple. If they are confident they can make the leap and not leave their users in the lurch more power to them.

I'm still on the fence on buying an M1 laptop. Apple users know you pay an Apple tax and a v1 tax. My MBP is getting so long in the tooth I may have to ignore my own advice of not getting first generation Apple hardware.

DominikPeters(10000) 4 days ago [-]

If rumors are to be believed, the next macbook generation is going to get a new body design and new screen, so will be 1st gen in a different, probably more severe sense. Makes it difficult to decide whether to just buy now.

ogre_codes(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> The PPC G5 got exactly 1 OS upgrade (10.5) before it was EOL'd.

The OS X release cycle back then was much slower. It was 4 and a half years between when Apple shipped the first Intel PCs and Snow Leppard was launched. Even then, Apple continued supporting and updating Leppard for a couple years after that. Even if you bought a PPC Mac on the last possible day, you still got 5-6 years out of the machine with security updates.

Seems to me like we'll see at least comparable support for Intel Macs going forward. Particularly since they will still be shipping Intel Macs for at least another year, possibly another 2 years.

deergomoo(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> Apple users know you pay an Apple tax and a v1 tax

I expect the v1 tax this time around is that the externals are exactly the same as the Intel machines. Compared to what laptops like the Dell XPS 13 are doing with larger screens in smaller bodies, the current Air and 13' Pro designs are getting a bit long in the tooth now.

I expect next year we'll see new design for the iMac with the M1X, or whatever the bigger variant will be called, as the current version is absolute dinosaur at this point, but I also think we'll see an updated design for the Air and 13' Pro (maybe 14' like how the 15' went to 16'—it would certainly help differentiate the Air and Pro a little more).

Aperocky(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I bought one and I have 0 regrets.

A laptop that satisfy my long battery life ultrabook experience AND capable to run steam games without compensating on performance.

Though the 13' air is not in the same target user group vs. the 15' pro, so you might not find the same excitement as I did.

dognotdog(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I, too, am on 2014 hardware. The real step that would move me to update would be more RAM with the Apple Silicon. The last gen Intel hardware did offer 32GB of RAM, but not much else to justify the cost over a 6 year old precursor.

mortenjorck(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This may actually be the perfect time to get a first-version Apple notebook, because it looks like the big design refresh will be staggered one release cycle. Buying one right now gets you the powerful new architecture inside the tried-and-true industrial design.

While the risks are probably less than they were earlier in Apple's history, I'd much rather take a chance on a first-generation Apple Silicon SoC than on a first-generation MacBook Pro redesign.

someonehere(10000) 2 days ago [-]

You can still buy Intel MacBook Pros. Apple will likely support it for a couple of more years before they won't.

I think there are more devs invested in the macOS ecosystem with hardware during this transition than the last, so it would make sense for Apple to let those Intel hold outs still keep up with the latest macOS version.

I would say two or three cycles of macOS upgrades before they EOL Intel support.

xoa(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Not to speak for anyone else, but one thing I gently disagree with:

>Given that Hackintoshers are a particular bunch who don't take kindly to the Apple-tax[...]

I have zero issues with an Apple premium or paying a lot for hardware. I think a major generator of interest in hackintoshes has been that there are significant segments of computing that Apple has simply completely (or nearly completely) given up on, including essentially any non-AIO desktop system above the Mini. At one point they had quite competitive PowerMacs and then Mac Pros covering the range of $2k all the way up to $10k+, and while sure there was some premium there was feature coverage, and they got regular yearly updates. They were 'boring', but in the best way. There didn't need to be anything exciting about them. The prices did steadily inch upward, but far more critically sometime between 2010 and 2012 somebody at Apple decided the MP had to be exciting or something and created the Mac Cube 2, except this time to force it by eliminating the MP entirely. And it was complete shit, and to zero surprise never got a single update (since they totally fucked the power/thermal envelope, there was nowhere to go) and users completely lost the ability to make up for that. And then that was it, for 6 years. Then they did a kind of sort of ok update, but at a bad point given that Intel was collapsing, and forcing in some of their consumer design in ways that really hurt the value.

The hackintosh, particularly virtualized ones in my opinion (running macOS under ESXi deals with a ton of the regular problem spots), has helped fill that hole as frankenstein MP 2010s finally hit their limits. I'm sure Apple Silicon will be great for a range of systems, but it won't help in areas that Apple just organizationally doesn't care about/doesn't have the bandwidth for because that's not a technology problem. So I'm a bit pessimistic/whistful about that particular area, even though it'll be a long time before the axe completely falls on it. It'll be fantastic and it's exciting to see the return of more experimentation in silicon, but at the same time it was a nice dream for a decade or so to be able to freely take advantage of a range of hardware the PC market offered which filled holes Apple couldn't.

chongli(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Apple does not want to offer to the hackintosh/enthusiast market because they are the most price conscious segment. Targeting that segment means putting out extremely performant, low-margin commodity machines. Doing so then cannibalizes the market for their ultra-high-end stuff.

Not only that, though. Enthusiasts are also extremely fickle and quick to jump ship to a cheaper hardware offering. If you look at all of Apple's other markets, you'll see loads of brand loyalty. Fickle enthusiasts don't fit the mould.

derefr(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> it won't help in areas that Apple just organizationally doesn't care about/doesn't have the bandwidth for because that's not a technology problem

I would posit that Apple is always going to keep macOS working on some workstation-class hardware, just because that kind of machine is what Apple's software engineers will be using internally, and they need to write macOS software using macOS.

Which means one of two things:

1. If they never release a workstation-class Apple Silicon chip, that'll likely mean that they're still using Intel/AMD chips internally, and so macOS will likely continue to be compiled for Intel indefinitely.

2. If they do design workstation-class Apple Silicon chips for internal use, they may as well also sell the resulting workstation-class machines to people at that point. (Or, to rearrange that statement: they wouldn't make the chips if they didn't intend to commercialize them. Designing and fabbing chips costs too much money!)

Which is to say, whether it be a Hackintosh or an Apple Mac Pro, there's always going to be something to cater to workstation-class users of Apple products — because Apple itself is full of workstation-class users of Apple products.

throw0101a(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> I have zero issues with an Apple premium or paying a lot for hardware.

Especially if the margins allow them to not engage in silliness on the software side of things like violating privacy and serving ads in the OS.

There are certainly places that Apple can be criticized, but I think in these two areas they're acting pretty well.

headmelted(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Agree completely.

I don't know that the "Apple tax" moniker is really fair anymore, either.

The machines have always commanded a premium for things that enthusiasts don't see value in (I.e. anything beyond numeric spec sheet values), so most critics completely miss the point of them.

There's a valid argument to be made that they're also marked up to higher margins than rivals even beyond the above, but I'm not sure if any end user has really ever eaten that cost - If you buy a MacBook, there has always been someone (students) to buy it back again 3/5/10 years down the road for a significant chunk of it's original outlay. That doesn't happen with any other laptop - they're essentially scrap (or worth next to nothing) within 5 years. After 10 years I might actually expect the value to be static or even increase for its collector value (e.g. clamshell iBook G3s)

The total cost of ownership for Apple products is actually lower over three years than any rival products I'm aware of.

vbezhenar(10000) 3 days ago [-]

If you don't have issues with paying a lot for hardware, why don't you buy Mac Pro?

supernova87a(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You know the thing I worry about next: how are apps going to inevitably bloat in inefficiency and claw back the improvements in CPU?

crazygringo(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Well, the great thing is that as long as computers are bifurcated between a majority of slow Intel PC's and a minority of fast Apple Macs... apps will need to remain usable on Intels, so they'll hopefully stay super-fast on Macs! ;)

sesuximo(10000) 4 days ago [-]

s/inefficient/doing more/g

egypturnash(10000) 4 days ago [-]

In Electron 14, we have found an astounding new paradigm for writing apps that results in astounding developer time savings! Now instead of running your Javascript app inside a copy of Chrome, we have a custom hybrid of Javascript and Lisp, which is internally transpiled onto a Brainfuck interpreter running in Conway's Life!

Electron 15: The Life machine has been re-implemented as a series of GPU instructions, which will use up approximately 93% of most users' graphics performance in return for a 20% speedup!

singhkays(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I don't understand. Don't those two things seem antithetical? Like why would you make your app inefficient at the same time you optimize it for the CPU?

tsjq(10000) 3 days ago [-]

And then Apple will make us buy newer and better and faster models. Now, we can't even upgrade RAM

jonny_eh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Are you suggesting that companies shouldn't make, and consumers buy, faster hardware?

vmception(10000) 4 days ago [-]

weren't the old exploits on the intel processors patched by essentially making many operations slower? like they had to disable some cpu instructions which were previously innovative and this debilitated the irreparable processors.

so a new architecture with better versions of the same instructions would feel very fast, since we went two steps back first.

imglorp(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Good point. Intel earned this, hard.

Areading314(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yes, these were due to the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities

kaycebasques(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Surprised no one else has said this: that title gave me a literal LOL.

mproud(10000) 3 days ago [-]

When fans of a sports team revel about a new player or recent winning ways, they might proclaim "LEAGUE FUCKED" — like a "Get Rekt!" sorta thing.

I think this is an "INDUSTRY FUCKED" moment.

qz2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Even as a miserable pessimist I just bought an M1 Mini today. It cost two months of train season tickets which I don't have to pay for any more!

singhkays(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Hah! Author here so this would have been the perfect comment to use in my blog :)

betaby(10000) 4 days ago [-]

What ticket costs 500+tax per month?

nojito(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I upgraded from a 32gb x86 machine to the 8gb macbook pro and it's downright amazing and I saved a bunch of money in the process.

Apple is going to make an absolute killing on people upgrading RAM unnecessarily.

jrockway(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I don't understand this comment. The new M1s all have 16GB of RAM integrated with the SoC, and it can't be upgraded. If you had 32GB on your old machine and didn't need that much, that's kind of on you, right?

liamcardenas(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I know very little, so perhaps someone could enlighten me. But I am curious how Apple Silicon will be for machine learning.

When Apple releases a MacBook Pro with 64GB of unified memory (assuming they will) — won't that be amazing for machine learning? I am under the impression that GPU memory is a huge factor in performance. Also, is there any way that the neural engine can accelerate training — or is it just for executing trained models faster?

sliken(10000) 4 days ago [-]


So way better than a regular Intel CPU, I've heard comparisons with the GTX 1050. Definitely not going to replace a top of the line GPU for ML.

Veedrac(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The true answer is we don't know what Apple's scaled-up GPUs will look like, so it's hard to tell precisely how performant they will be.

However, everything so far indicates these will be pretty powerful, as even the M1 is pretty beastly for what it is. So it's possible.

_delirium(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I wouldn't expect it to be particularly competitive in training large models. It's an integrated GPU with 8 cores, and the 'neural engine' has an additional 16 cores. The kinds of discrete GPUs (mostly Nvidia) that people use for deep learning have more like 5000+ cores.

I think Apple is aiming more at either training small models, or running pre-trained models. For example Photoshop is starting to integrate neural filters, so NN inference performance can be important for some desktop applications.

m15i(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I too am curious how 64 GB unified memory performs for training deep learning models. Even if speed isn't amazing, 64 GB is much greater than the 24 GB available in Nvidia's flagship consumer cards, which would allow for inputting larger images, bigger batch sizes, deeper networks etc. Also, will be interesting to see how all of the different cores are used.

zarkov99(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I am thinking about getting thing mostly to ssh into a linux server. I would like to run emacs on the server and have its display bounced back via X to the Mac. Is this practical? I tried Quartz on my wife's Mac but the fonts looked like crap.

ngai_aku(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Why run emacs on the server instead of running emacs on your local machine and accessing the server via tramp?

brundolf(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is fascinating:

> Retain and release are tiny actions that almost all software, on all Apple platforms, does all the time. ..... The Apple Silicon system architecture is designed to make these operations as fast as possible. It's not so much that Intel's x86 architecture is a bad fit for Apple's software frameworks, as that Apple Silicon is designed to be a bespoke fit for it .... retaining and releasing NSObjects is so common on MacOS (and iOS), that making it 5 times faster on Apple Silicon than on Intel has profound implications on everything from performance to battery life.

> Broadly speaking, this is a significant reason why M1 Macs are more efficient with less RAM than Intel Macs. This, in a nutshell, helps explain why iPhones run rings around even flagship Android phones, even though iPhones have significantly less RAM. iOS software uses reference counting for memory management, running on silicon optimized to make reference counting as efficient as possible; Android software uses garbage collection for memory management, a technique that requires more RAM to achieve equivalent performance.

pierrebai(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I agreed. It think it's typical of cargo-culting: explanations don't need to make sense, it's all about the breathless enthusiasm.

Look, want to know how M1 achieve its result? Easy. Apple is first with a 5nm chips. Look in the past: every CPU maker gains both speed and power efficiency when going down a manufacturing node.

Intel CPU were still using a 14nm node (although they called 12+++) while Apple M1 is now at 5nm. According to this [1] chart, that's a transistor density at least 4x.

Not saying Apple has no CPU design chops, They've been at it for their phones for quite a while. But people are just ignoring the elephant in the room: Apple gives TSMC a pile of cash to be exclusive for mass production on their latest 5nm tech.

   [1] https://www.techcenturion.com/7nm-10nm-14nm-fabrication#nbspnbspnbspnbsp7nm_vs_10nm_vs_12nm_vs_14nm_Transistor_Densities
jml7c5(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I think the author doesn't understand what Gruber wrote here. Android uses more memory because most Android software is written to use more memory (relying on garbage collection). It has nothing to do with the chips. If you ran Android on an M1, it wouldn't magically need less RAM. And Photoshop compiled for x86 is going to use about the same amount of memory as Photoshop compiled for Apple silicon. Sure, if you rewrote Photoshop to use garbage collection everywhere then memory consumption would increase, but that has nothing to do with the chip.

IshKebab(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I don't think this really makes sense. How many of the benchmarks that people have been running are written in Objective-C? They're mostly hardcore graphics and maths workloads that won't be retaining and releasing many NSObjects.

girvo(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Taking that as true for a moment, I wonder what other programming languages get a benefit from Apple's silicon then? PHP et al. use reference counting too, do they get a free win, or is there something particular about Obj-C and Swift?

Karupan(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> running on silicon optimized to make reference counting as efficient as possible

I'm curious to understand this. Is this because of a specific instruction set support, or just the overall unified memory architecture?

vagrantJin(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> This, in a nutshell, helps explain why iPhones run rings around even flagship Android phones,

For the price, it better run circles and squares. It should cook my dinner too.

lisper(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Remember Lisp machines? The M1 is a Swift machine.

lend000(10000) 3 days ago [-]

At the hardware level, does this mean they have a much faster TLB than competing CPU's, perhaps optimized to patterns in which NSObjects are allocated? Speaking of which, does Apple use a custom malloc or one of the popular implementations like C malloc, tcmalloc, jemalloc, etc.?

ubercow13(10000) 4 days ago [-]

How does this work? Isn't reference counting a lot of +1 and -1?

fomine3(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I can't understand why less RAM is enough specially in Apple Silicon rather than Intel. Is the argument proved?

RAM capacity is just RAM capacity. Possibly Swift-made apps uses less RAM compared to other apps, but microarchitecture shouldn't be matter.

devxpy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I, for one would love to see an M1 chip cripple itself under the memory load of 4 intellij windows and chrome tabs, among other applications.

ajuc(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Android phones are build on managed code, but PC computers are built on C/C++ mostly (almost all productivity apps, browsers, games, the operating system itself). And the only GC code most people run is garbage collected on apple too - it's Java Script on the web.

I'm not familiar with MacOs, are the apps there mostly managed code? Even if they were and even if refcounting on Mac is that much faster than refounting on PC - refcounted code would still lose to manual memory management on average.

vbezhenar(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I don't think this applies to good software. Nobody will retain/release something in a tight loop. And typical retain/releases don't consume much time. Of course it improves metrics like any other micro-optimization, so it's good to have it, but that's about it.

darren_(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This quote doesn't really cover why M1 macs are more efficient with less ram than intel macs? You've got a memory budget, it's likely broadly the same on both platforms, the speed at which your retains/releases happen isn't going to be the issue. it's not like intel macs use GC where m1 uses RC.

(It explains why iOS does better with less ram than android, but the quote is specifically claiming this as a reason for 8GB ram to be acceptable)

mpweiher(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> 'M1 and memory efficiency'

Hi folks!

It looks like my blog post[1] was the primary source for this (it's referenced both by this post and by the Gruber post), and to be clear, I did not claim that this helps ARM Macs use less RAM than Intel Macs. I think John misunderstood that part and now it has blown up a bit...

I did claim that this helps Macs and iPhones use less RAM than most non-Apple systems, as part of Apple's general obsessiveness about memory consumption (really, really obsessive!). This part of the puzzle is how to get greater convenience for heap allocation.

Most of the industry has settled on tracing GCs, and they do really well in microbenchmarks. However, they need a lot of extra RAM to be competitive on a system level (see references in the blog post). OTOH, RC trends to be more frugal and predictable, but its Achilles heel, in addition to cyclic references, has always been the high cost of, well, managing all those counts all the time, particularly in a multithreaded environment where you have to do this atomically. Turns out, Apple has made uncontented atomic access about as fast as a non-atomic memory access on M1.

This doesn't use less RAM, it decreases the performance cost of using the more frugal RC. As far as I can tell, the 'magic' of the whole package comes down to a lot of these little interconnecting pieces, your classic engineering tradeoffs, which have non-obvious consequences over there and then let you do this other thing over here, that compensates for the problem you caused in this other place, but got a lot out etc. Overall, I'd say a focus on memory and power.

So they didn't add special hardware for NSObject, but they did add special hardware that also tremendously helps NSObjet reference counting. And apparently they also added a special branch predictor for objc_msgSend(). 8-). Hey, 16 billion transistors, what's a branch predictor or two among friends.. ̄\_(ツ)_/ ̄

[1] https://blog.metaobject.com/2020/11/m1-memory-and-performanc...

rowls66(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The bit about reference counting being the reason that Macs and iOS devices get better performance with less ram makes no sense. As a memory management strategy, reference counting will always use more ram because a reference count must be stored with every object in the system. Storing all of those reference counts requires memory.

A reference counting strategy would be more efficient in processor utilization compared to garbage collection as it does not need to perform processor intensive sweeps through memory identifying unreferenced objects. So reference counting trades memory for processor cycles.

It is not true that garbage collection requires more ram to achieve equivalent performance. It is in fact the opposite. For programs with identical object allocations, a GC based system would require less memory, but would burn more CPU cycles.

peterfield(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I guess the good thing for those of us who can't afford a new mac right now is that the used market will be flooded with recent models at a cheap price LOL.

yurishimo(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This is true. I think picking up a now last gen Mac Mini as a HTPC would be sweet. Upgraded RAM could make it a home server beast. I don't see Apple abandoning the Intel support until at least Q1 2023, and even then, the types of stuff I would use it for in a HTPC setup would still be compatible well past then (unless some new video codec or something comes out that isn't compatible? Idk how those work).

paultopia(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I bought a pretty heavily specced (not top of the line, but close) 16' MBP in April. Kinda kicking myself... and aggressively insisting to myself that the screen real estate matters a lot to me. Damnit.

Betelgeuse90(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Have done the same in December 2019. I'm telling myself I really need 2 external monitors, as that's what I use at home. The M1 machines only support one external monitor (even in clamshell). Not a lot of people seem to be mentioning this.

totalZero(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Don't kick yourself. Versus the MBP16: RAM is capped, USB-C ports are scarce, GPU is not discrete, software compatibility is still thin, and screen resolution is less. Not to mention you have better speakers on your machine.

I have a top of the line MBP13 delivering in mid-December. I could cancel the order at any moment, but I'd rather have ports, software compatibility, and RAM.

M1 may benchmark well, but it isn't an EMP that magically disables every Intel machine on the face of the planet.

I'm excited to see what happens when Apple rolls out its own silicon for the higher-end MBP devices.

outside1234(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is what happens when you put actual talent into building a CPU.

Not Intel or AMD talent, Apple talent.

scep12(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is it purely a talent discrepancy or do you think there is a difference in culture that contributes to their differences?

SulfurHexaFluri(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Not sure its fair to shit on AMD considering their desktop and server CPUs are still leading the market by a long margin.

neilpanchal(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I just got one. I'm blown away by the speed as well. Chrome runs insanely fast! Alas, it's not developer ready yet. Brew is a mess. Docker doesn't work. PyCharm is WIP although can use x86 version. I was skeptical of the hype but this little laptop has made me realize how slow everything else is.

Unfortunately, while the hardware has accelerated far beyond expectations, the software - specifically MacOS BigSur is a major step backward. So many fucking animations. Everything feels fluid like operating in molasses. The UI changes seem to be shoe horned into a desktop that doesn't need giant white space for fat fingers. Menu bars are twice as tall taking up precious space. Top bar was already crammed with a lot of icons. Now, they've made them sparsely spaced by adding padding between the icons. Everything is baby-like with rounded corners and without borders. Segmentation UI elements are no more. I want to ask Apple's UI team: WHY!? What is currently wrong with macOS Catalina UI? Until you can satisfactorily answer that, there shouldn't be any change. Stop changing the UI like you're working at Hermès. It's not fashion. If the reason is to unify everything, all screen sizes, then you're sacrificing all three. Perhaps making it easy to develop apps for all 3 platforms is a plus, but as a user, this all feels like a regression. I've lost hope in modern UI engineering. It's not engineering anymore.

I want macOS that has a UI of Windows 95. That would be totally insane on Apple Silicon.

phillco(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> I want macOS that has a UI of Windows 95. That would be totally insane on Apple Silicon.

You don't even need to go as far as Windows. Classic Mac OS would be just fine.

apatheticonion(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> I want macOS that has a UI of Windows 95. That would be totally insane on Apple Silicon.

So much this. I used to run Windows 7 in classic mode and really liked the low footprint, no nonsense appearance. Windows 10 has no such mode.

I wonder if we will see Linux support

treis(10000) 4 days ago [-]

>I just got one. I'm blown away by the speed as well. Chrome runs insanely fast!

I've got a 5ish year old desktop and Chrome runs, afaict, pretty much instantaneously. At least I don't notice a perceptible delay. I'd be interested to see a side by side comparison of page renders on M1 vs an older laptop.

socialdemocrat(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I don't mind an upgrade to better looking UIs on regular intervals, but functionality and ease of use should come first. And here there is pandering to the iOS crowd when a touch based interface makes no sense for an OS operated with a mouse and a keyboard.

But I suspect it is a consequence of the incessant screaming by all the hipsters and clueless morons that think iOS and macOS should be merged for no other reason than their belief in MORE is MORE. No LESS is MORE, and that is what Apple was built on.

So yeah I feel your pain even if I have a slightly different take on this. macOS should be primarily designed to be the ultimate OS for somebody using a mouse and keyboard. iOS should be optimized for touch. We don't need to merge these two world. That is what clueless MBA types of people think. Because all they can think of is things like 'synergy effects'...

DennisP(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Ugh. Back in the 90s our supercomputers were way less powerful than today's laptops. I want to feel that. Never mind animations, just make everything happen instantly.

murukesh_s(10000) 4 days ago [-]

>Chrome runs insanely fast! Alas, What hardware you were using before? I am using MBP retina 2013 and chrome loads and run fast. Browsing was never a bottleneck except few heavily bloated (ads and stuff) pages. I have noticed chrome can slow down on few windows machine with poorer hardware(which is the case of 90% of windows laptops).

herpderperator(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Edit: It looks like satire. My bad :)

Doesn't your article here go directly against what you're saying? https://neil.computer/notes/hacker-news-design-is-ugly/

Specifically, you redesigned HN to have more 'pop' and have rounded corners and padding: https://neil.computer/content/images/size/w1600/2020/07/Scre... which is exactly what you were saying macOS looks like...

Isn't that hypocritical?

dheera(10000) 4 days ago [-]

On the other hand, Apple is fashion. They have always advertised and placed themselves as such.

If you want functionality, you need a non-Mac running Linux. I'm just hoping we have better silicon options soon, for those of us who don't want customization-unfriendly, upgrade-unfriendly Apple hardware.

bound008(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I've had 'reduce motion' turned off on my iOS devices since it was an options... The animations in the latest Messages.app have been driving me crazy, but sure enough 'Reduce Motion' is available in the `Accessibility` preference panel under display.

FWIW, I am blown away by my M1 Mac, but my x86 Mac feels about 5-10% snappier on Big Sur.

matthewmacleod(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The thing is, I just don't see the problem. I upgraded from Mojave last week, noted that the UI is slightly different, and... that's it. Everything still works fine, the UI looks a little more similar to the iPad, and I figured that was probably the main reason - since people will be running iOS apps on Macs going forward, there's been an effort to introduce some more consistency. I find it incredibly hard to get worked up about it.

cercatrova(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The increased padding, spread out buttons, big icons. Do you see the pattern?

They're gonna make a touch screen Mac, whether it be in the form of a laptop, iMac, or an iPad running macOS.

ogre_codes(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> I want macOS that has a UI of Windows 95. That would be totally insane on Apple Silicon.


I mean I get most of what you said until that. I vastly prefer the Catalina and every version of MacOS over the past 15 years versus anything out of Redmond, and particularly not W95. (Heck I used Window Maker prior to MacOS, my love for Next ancestors goes back some time)

I hear a lot of people are frustrated with Big Sur. Hopefully Apple will dial back a lot of the egregious UI updates. They frequently go big on new redesigns, then dial things back. Hopefully.

JumpCrisscross(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Stop changing the UI like you're working at Hermès. It's not fashion.

Of course it is. Our phones are intimately close to us. Physically, cognitively, socially and even emotionally. They may be the most widely-owned intimately-connected object humans have ever invented outside religion.

Our computers don't occupy as close of a niche. But they're in a similar space.

I agree with your observation that the new OS feels like molasses. I wish they went for a 'snappy' feel. (Though keyboard shortcuts get around that.) But ignoring that Macs and iPhones are objects of fashion as well as computing devices misses a deep part of what Jobs saw that technologists missed.

krrrh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's pretty trivial to disable most animations (and more importantly transparency!). I've been doing that on new MacOS installs since Jaguar and it only takes a few minutes. If you want to move quickly you're probably already using keyboard shortcuts and ignoring the dock and toolbars.

For less technically adept users (ie. most users) the animations and spacings mostly seem to help them understand what's going on. I know everyone has their preferences, but I don't really get the level of griping that accompanies every release.

fassssst(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Seems pretty obvious that some future Macs will have touch screens or larger iPads will run MacOS.

I'd buy a Surface Studio style iMac in a heartbeat.

jerf(10000) 4 days ago [-]

'it's not developer ready yet.'

Hey, what if we just... kept it that way?

Kiss all that speed goodbye once software developers get their hands on this. And then the low end current-gen models will be even slower when running 'the code that runs ok on the M1 hardware, I guess, ship it.'

pcr910303(10000) 4 days ago [-]

While I won't go that far, arguing that macOS with a Windows 95 UI is a good idea, I do agree that Big Sur's current UI is a mess.

Traditional macOS users valued the Mac user interface deeply, and IMO that was why while iOS 7 got a big refresh, macOS got a much smaller one, only with flatness refinements. Big Sur feels like the iOS 7 for the Mac, and I'm very sad that I'll have to wait at least 4~5 years to see the new interface improve in a better state.

Some of my key annoyances (except for bugs):

* The new control center now requires more clicks, but due to the padding getting bigger, I can't put all of the shortcut icons in the menu bar

* The new control center and notification center's UI is so foreign from other parts of the macOS. It's just... so custom.

* There are now multiple variants of the title bar thickness, and all of the Apple apps now use all four. It just feels ugly. The title ban of the Photos app and the Calendar app are almost the same — why does one use a .unified one and one uses a .unifiedCompact one? And why does Safari uses a .unified one when it doesn't really have any information to convey?

* This is from Catalina, but the NSSwitch stuff collides with checkboxes... but well I'm guessing that's for Catalyst trying to look native

I can go on and on... but my general feeling of Big Sur's UI is that it would take multiple years to make this better.

webmaven(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> I want macOS that has a UI of Windows 95. That would be totally insane on Apple Silicon.

You'd have to redesign it somewhat for the higher resolution screen, and so there are many improvements in typographical rendering you would also want to include, plus Win95 was in some respects still inferior to System 7, but overall, yes, there is a certain directness to that era of OS UIs (see also Motif & BeOS).

vimy(10000) 4 days ago [-]

You can start terminal in rosetta mode and most brew packages will work.

Cmd + i on terminal.app, rosetta mode.

goatinaboat(10000) 4 days ago [-]

It's not fashion.

Unfortunately you are wrong. Everything we call tech is in fact driven by fashion.

My older version Mac is badgering me to upgrade to Bug Sur. Top feature: 100 new emojis. That is what Apple prioritised. Why the hell are emojis even part of the OS let alone its top feature!

Truth is GUIs are done, were a decade or more ago. All there is left now is change for the sake of change. And Apple can't think of anything more to do in the real OS either!

nikolay(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yeah, a lot of spacing... except of dismissing notifications! The small X icons are so hard to click on Big Sur!!! I miss the old notifications! The grouping makes my work even harder! It's a notifications disaster!

FroshKiller(10000) 4 days ago [-]

With so many projects in need of changes to work on the M1, it sounds like it's more than ready for developers.

creddit(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Brew is only slightly a mess, in my experience.

I've installed brew both in the historical /usr/local location as well as the future home of /opt/homebrew. I then created these two aliases:

  alias armbrew='/opt/homebrew/bin/brew'
  alias intbrew='arch -x86_64 /usr/local/bin/brew'
My PATH selects for programs installed in the /opt/homebrew location first and then /usr/local. I try to install with the ARM version first with `armbrew install -s <PKG>` and if it fails, I move to using the `intbrew` alias as normal. I haven't really had any issues.

It's obviously still messy but not in a way that is too bad!

elcritch(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I actually really want to run native Linux on these new chips. Don't know why but the thought of modern 'big sur' macOS on such beautiful hardware seems a bit sad to me. KDE/Manjaro has made me pretty happy lately and the battery life could make an amazing linux laptop. Of course you could run CDE or XFCE to get your Win95 DE. ;) Well in a few years when hopefully Linux supports M1 devices. Till then probably have to play with a PineBook or something.

swiley(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Run an open source OS if you don't want stuff ripped out from underneath you.

Preferably one like gentoo or alpine.

threw234342543(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Oh man, how I wish we could run linux on this puppy.

musicale(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Docker doesn't work

'Docker' on macOS runs in a Linux VM under Xhyve iirc.

I imagine they will make an ARM version but your x86 images are probably toast unless you can emulate them somehow.

dangus(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Let's make a new computing law: The likelihood of an opinion on UI changes to be an overreaction is inversely proportional to the length of time that has passed since their release.

spurgu(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Not too many people seem to be commenting on the UI but the Big Sur 'improvements' were one of the main things that made me look into going back to Linux, researching how to replace my current MacOS workflow.

The UI changes are just completely nonsensical to me, and despite the initial announcements of the speed benefits of the M1 I was set on trying to go back to Linux. But now with articles like these I have to admit it feels tempting...

diveanon(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I've seen lots of M1 benchmarks, but has anyone done a side by side comparison of what it is like to actually get work done on one?

Take a conventional dockerized local dev environment and just start building stuff. How much time do you spend working around M1 arch issues versus building your app?

This is the key factor that is keeping me from being an early adopter. I don't get paid to figure out how to work on a new chip architecture, in fact I pay a lot of money to not have to think about those problems at all.

elliottkember(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Good questions. Docker doesn't work yet. My node and rails apps work great. React Native works great. It's weirdly fine.

VSCode was slow for a bit, but I think it hadn't synced my file exclude settings.

hpb42(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'm curious about the Neural Engine cores. What software use this? Why would I want to buy a Neural Network coprocessor in my machine, instead of using that money for a better cpu/ram/ssd?

timothyduong(10000) 3 days ago [-]
SulfurHexaFluri(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The iphone uses it for image recognition on your photo library so your data stays local.

wffurr(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I am weirdly obsessed with this. I am burning to see the next iteration of Apple Silicon devices with an M1X or M2 chip and more ports and RAM for higher-spec devices and new MacBook designs even lighter and smaller than the current Air (bring back the 11'!).

I guess I'm just caught up in the hype and excited about movement in the chip design space after many years of Intel stagnation. Zen and the M1 are a breath of fresh air.

Waiting to replace a 2014 11' MacBook Air until the story about Parallels support is clear and maybe new MacBook designs are available.

I also have a 2013 Mac Pro trashcan-style on my desk at work. Until recently it was simultaneously available in the inventory system and marked as EOL. I'm not sure if the 2020 6-core Intel Mac Mini would actually be faster - maybe. I'm only a part-time iOS developer so I keep trucking along with the 2013 model.

kzrdude(10000) 3 days ago [-]

You're not the only one - there's an apple silicon story on HN every day, so that says something. And I too look out for them. Just dreaming that M1 would be available in a different reasonable linux notebook.

jrm4(10000) 4 days ago [-]

At the risk of being that (Linux) guy --

What is gained here if we're just still applying faster cycles to Apple-esque wasteful (and perhaps harmful, as we're apparently learning re: their telemetry) software?

If people really dig their Apple stuff, great. But I think its worth thinking about the likelihood that a 'slower' computer running Linux could probably serve the actual user better in terms of 'getting stuff done.' Moreover, I think we're pretty close to 'beauty' parity here as well. Apple's advantage now is probably mostly the networked devices, i.e. unity between phone and pc messages, etc.

joshstrange(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> But I think its worth thinking about the likelihood that a 'slower' computer running Linux could probably serve the actual user better in terms of 'getting stuff done.' Moreover, I think we're pretty close to 'beauty' parity here as well.

This is just not true. I'm sorry but I've used linux on the desktop many times, using many different distros, and many different desktop environments. It's shiny and pretty when you first install and then very quickly you run into apps that don't follow that design methodology and it takes you out of it. Desktop linux is not ready for average users and honestly it may never be. Also 'getting stuff done.' and desktop linux do not belong in the same sentence. I've personally spent and watched coworkers spend hours and hours tinkering with graphics cards drivers or other random quirks. Linux is amazing, don't get me wrong, it's a workhorse with immense power and the ability to tinker to your heart's content BUT most users, myself included, don't want to put in the upfront and ongoing work to keep it in tip-top condition.

I will forever use linux on servers and enjoy every minute of it but for the desktop linux is nowhere near ready for primetime. I've watched too many people online and in-person preach about linux on the desktop and then watched them having to spend tons of time tinkering with it so they can 'get stuff done'. Is it possible to be productive on the linux desktop? Absolutely but I value my time way too highly to spend the effort to make that a reality.

jozzy-james(10000) 4 days ago [-]

depends on what you do, for most people - chromeOS would be plenty fine for 'getting stuff done'

wayneftw(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I don't get the anti-Linux comments here. I use Manjaro with XFCE as my daily driver and I haven't had to tinker with shit on it since I set it up. Has nobody tried this distro?

Everything I need to do on it runs like a dream. Installing software is easier than anything, especially since I just use the GUI for that. I've had more trouble with Mac and Windows.

Even other Linux distros that I've tried don't really stand up to Manjaro. Ubuntu and other Debian derivatives have you hunting down PPAs and using the terminal to add things - maybe that's the 'tinkering' that annoys people? If so, I wholly recommend you try Manjaro or another Arch based distro.

ooooooooooo2(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I would 100% use linux (because I like tinkering) if it didn't have issues with HiDPI, and really terrible localization compared to MacOS.

Everything else I can deal with, not having those two work out of the box just sucks.

Also, if you have a headless Linux server (even in a virtual machine, say Hyper-V), I don't really see how you will get less stuff done by using any other OS.

sjmulder(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I found the macOS desktop much more responsive than GNOME which feels like a beast. Now I use MATE which is nice and simple but it's no where near as nice as macOS.

sigzero(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I have never lacked for 'getting stuff done' on a Mac.

CalChris(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Linux gets the look right. But it gets the feel wrong, very wrong. This surprises me. I don't understand why they haven't caught up on feel.

acdha(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> What is gained here if we're just still applying faster cycles to Apple-esque wasteful (and perhaps harmful, as we're apparently learning re: their telemetry) software?

Your comment is based on some sweeping claims with no supporting evidence — can you point to something specific you think is wasteful, alleged harmful telemetry (not Jeffrey Paul's misunderstandings about OCSP), or prevents "getting stuff done"?

As someone who started using Linux as a desktop OS in the 1990s I would especially suggest that if smugly-nonspecific sneering at other operating systems was an effective advocacy strategy the number of Linux desktop users would be a lot greater than it is now.

Jtsummers(10000) 4 days ago [-]

macOS has been my daily driver since 2006, fully since 2010 (when I got rid of my desktop which I dual booted between Windows for gaming and Linux for development). It's perfectly suitable for 'getting stuff done'. In the rare case where macOS doesn't run something that I need that another *nix or Windows supports I spin up a VM or VPS.

zaptheimpaler(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Linux still doesn't have smooth scrolling. There is little visual consistency or shared UX patterns across apps. I had to hunt down a good font because the one that came installed with Pop and Ubuntu was terrible. Spent a day getting drivers for a wifi card to work. Had graphical flickers due to a bug in picom/nvidia that I had to go in and fix. Don't even get me started on the app ecosystem - Mac/win has stuff like omnifocus, 1password, Alfred, photoshop etc etc. Linux mostly you hope there's a web app.

There is strong opposition to the idea of paid app stores on Linux but almost all the best software I use is paid, because it takes teams of people working hard to build it. This is actually the most critical issue imo.

Linux has come a long way but I think they are understandably reluctant to hear bad news that it's still not good enough compared to the alternatives, even if it's much much better than it was.

klelatti(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I've tried Linux on the desktop and know that I'm significantly more productive on a Mac (and also more productive on a Mac vs Windows).

It's partly a personal thing but I think that you have to look at the evidence in the marketplace - people switch to Linux for philosophical or technical reasons but not generally due to the user experience. Denying that evidence and pretending that it's otherwise isn't going to change that situation especially now Apple has an imminent hardware advantage.

azangru(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Another linux guy here, on the market for a new linux laptop.

After reading the article, which linux-compatible laptops, would you say, come the closest to compete with the new generation of Apple products? Long battery life, plenty of power, good screen, good speakers? Is it the inevitable Dell XPS 13 and Thinkpad X1 Carbon, or are there any other darlings among the linux community?

alphachloride(10000) 4 days ago [-]

What does it mean to be an 8-core GPU? 8-CPU I can understand. But I thought GPUs were supposed to have a lot more cores for parallelism.

Slartie(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It means absolutely nothing. Because every GPU vendor has a different notion of what a 'core' is. Some count the smallest parallel execution unit as a 'core' and thus boast chips with thousands of 'cores', some group these smallest units into larger units and count those as a 'core', which results in smaller numbers of 'cores' per chip. I would guess Apple is doing the latter. I don't think that it's possible to deliver the graphics performance the M1 is delivering with just eight 'cores' in terms of smallest computational units.

vermilingua(10000) 3 days ago [-]

For those of us who are picking up M1 MacBooks as first time Mac users, is there some kind of Mac crash course for devs? What apps are useful, what familiar tools from Linux can we use, etc? I'm aware of Dash, which makes me suspect there are a bunch of other Mac-exclusive tools which will be useful.

kolinko(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Most linux terminal stuff works easily on mac - all the vims, emacs and so on.

For FTP, there is Transmit by Panic, which is quite neat. For web browsing, Big Sur's Safari finally works well (it's the first time I managed to do a switch from Chrome, after multiple tries).

Time Machine backup is also awesome - I couldn't find anything working just as well for other OSs.

There are also some neat system-wide tricks you may like:

- you can set up a hot-corner in preferences to show the desktop. I have mine in bottom-right, that way if I want to move sth in and out of desktop, I grab it, do the hot-corner, and drop.

- most file-editing apps have an icon next to a file-name in the window bar. you can drag&drop that icon to copy file etc. if you command-click the icon, the whole path to the file get revealed

- you can drag & drop files to every open file dialog in the system. super-handy

- home/end/pgup/pgdown keys are missing on the keyboard, but Emacs shortcuts work throught the whole system, e.g. Ctrl+A, Ctrl+E = home/end in every text dialog

- command+option+shift+v = paste without style, if you want to paste something into a wysiwyg text editor as a plain text

- command+shift+4 - screenshot of a part of the screen. also can serve as a pixel ruler, since it shows how many pixels you are grabbing

- Cmd+Up/Cmd+Down - navigate within the filesystem

In general, for me as a dev - the best thing about MacOS is how much of the stuff is built-in, and a ton of system features that are consistent through all the apps. That, and a linux-style console/filesystem :)

bysja(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I found this guide to be helpful: https://sourabhbajaj.com/mac-setup/

thoughtsimple(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's interesting that right now, MacPorts is further along the M1/Apple Silicon porting process than Homebrew. I think this is because Homebrew tries to do everything from a binary repository and MacPorts downloads source, patches it and builds it. Since a lot of the open source repositories have Apple/Darwin AArch64 ports now, it seems to work in most cases.



FeloniousHam(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Better Touch Tool [1] is a must have for customizing the touchpad and keyboard. I like Karabiner to convert the Caps Lock into a new meta key [2].

[1] https://folivora.ai

[2] https://www.howtogeek.com/409904/how-to-turn-your-mac's-caps...

DarkmSparks(10000) 3 days ago [-]

One of the things I've noticed recently, and especially since the CPU space started finally moving again is how much of a divide there now is between the computer literate, and the computer illiterate.

It probably creates a social divide at least that which existed when the majority of people couldn't read or write, and is just as 'not OK'.

Example of this in the first paragraph of this article: > For everyday users who just want to browse the web, stream some Netflix, maybe edit some documents, computers have been "perfectly fine" for the last decade.

These kind of things now read to me like 'for the everyday peasant, that just wants to go to swim in the river, seal the roof of their house and get to work on time, clay tablets and stylus's have been perfectly fine for the last century'

Even the title screams this kind of thinking, computers are not black magic, any more than medicine or writing were magic or sorcery back when burning witches was a thing.

Makes me a little sad.

bserge(10000) 3 days ago [-]

The divide has always been there, it's just that 'computer illiterate' people massively outnumber the literate ones and as such, are getting more attention.

It's kind of like saying there's a huge divide between 'house literate' people, who know how everything in their home is built and how to fix it, and 'house illiterate' people who just want to come home, turn on the lights, use the shower, the oven and the bed.

fouric(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This is very vague. What exactly do you mean by 'computer illiterate' - do you mean someone who isn't a power user, or someone who can't program?

rthomas6(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Hasn't it always been this way? The only difference is now there are a lot more computer-illiterate people using computers.

jkim1258(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It's far less sad, (and perhaps hopeful?) if you think of it more as there now being more diversity of use cases.

Most consumer personal computers used to have relatively similar power as well as use cases; your Apple II, your neighbors Apple II, and Apple IIs at corporate offices would not have differed as much as personal computers do these days.

These days, there are large differences across segments - anything from school children using chromebooks to enthusiasts running homelab servers.

Not just a gradient of computing power, but also use cases: home archivists with a lot of storage; gamers with beefy graphics cards; media creators with expensive monitors; chrome tab hoarders always downloading more RAM...

I don't think it's that we treat school children using chromebooks as peasants, and treat enthusiasts like kings. We are rather now able to cater well to various segments, and this variety of product offerings to consumers is a good thing.

I think the article's general assertion that the computing advances in question have more to contribute to certain uses cases more than others is more than fair.

intricatedetail(10000) 3 days ago [-]

You shouldn't be tech savvy to have your right to privacy respected. We need regulation to compel companies like Apple to stop harvesting data they don't have legitimate need for. Any surveillance should be opt in only.

jmnicolas(10000) 3 days ago [-]

Modern life is just complicated: there's so much things to know. Computers are just a small part of it.

As an example, I'm (mostly) car illiterate, I just don't have the time and energy to commit to something that do what I want and works 99.99% of the time.

AtlasBarfed(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

IMO more of an indictment of the tower of babel in software development. Outside of games, we all basically do those things: browser, email, text, spreadsheet, word process.

Those things were reasonably well solved almost two orders of magnitude ago.

Software never bothered to optimize for snappiness, despite so many opportunities. So we got stuck with the same kinda-good response, and for mobile, a much more questionable kinda-ok battery life of 3-6 hours.

I mean, on a couple of node shrinks where the efficiency improved (because clock speed wasn't), could we have please attacked the battery life?

It takes an architecture change to highlight how inefficient desktop is. Unfortunately, desktop is an afterthought in terms of investment. The best hope for actual optimization is convergence with the phone OSs, which this is the first step of.

grecy(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> For everyday users who just want to take the kids to school, get to work and head out of town on the weekend, vehicles have been "perfectly fine" for the last decade.

Nobody needs to know (or cares) how a car works - EXCEPT professionals and enthusiasts.

> For everyday users who just want to take some holiday snaps, record their kids making a mess and maybe print a few small pics, point n shoot cameras have been "perfectly fine" for the last decade.

Nobody needs to know (or cares) how a SLR works or all of it's features - EXCEPT professionals and enthusiasts.

We can go on and on with this. I don't think it says anything about a divide, it says that our world is so sophisticated and complicated there are entire devices and areas of society that most of us use on a daily basis, but for which we have no care about how it works. That's perfectly fine.

spijdar(10000) 3 days ago [-]

A more apt analogy would be 'for everyday users who just want to record their expenses, keep a journal, and sketch some drawings, paper and pencil have been perfectly fine for the last century'.

Understanding how computers work down to being able to describe L1 instruction caches and how prefetching works and why having an 8 instruction wide decoder pulling from a giant L1I cache isn't really relevant to empowering people. Most people are going to be more empowered by using computers more efficiently to prepare documents and presentations to assist their other endeavors. I think those people can be forgiven for not getting excited that now they have '8 cores' or '16 cores' or '32 cores'. Conversely, getting drastically improved battery life is an immediate and tangible improvement in the day-to-day lives of people.

Being illiterate creates a societal gap because it prevents the free spread of information, and creates a class hierarchy centered around controlling the spread of information. How does not understanding how computers work limit people?

  > 'how much of a divide there now is'
You seem to be insinuating that, used to, people were 'more literate' and are becoming more ignorant. What if it's just that computers have become easier to use and more prevalent?

More people are using computers to communicate now than ever before. This seems to be the opposite of 'peasants not knowing how to write'. People have more opportunity to reach out and grow.

There are problems in controlling information and infrastructure, who owns all our data, and who controls social media along with privacy concerns, and maybe one of the solutions to these problems is more tech education, but this seems orthogonal to your concerns.

fvdessen(10000) 3 days ago [-]

It is also wrong, computers from the last decade are not 'perfectly fine' for 'browsing'. I just saw my girlfriend do her website with Wix on her old macbook air and the performance was so slow that I wondered how she could tolerate it. Those new processors will benefit everyone.

iJohnDoe(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'm starting to wonder if this is the reason we had some serious problems with macOS and iOS in recent months and years. Serious bugs and serious security flaws.

The A-team was working on getting everything ready for M1. The B-team was working on the usual releases.

If the M1 is as good as everyone says, then that means they had the best people on it.

vatican_banker(10000) 4 days ago [-]

My guess is that the team working on M1 is a non-overlapping set with the team working on macos releases

coopsmgoops(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I doubt the team designing the chips has much overlap with the OS team.

swalsh(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Technology seems to swing like pendulum between running remote and running locally as technology evolves. Recently I purchased an RTX 3090, and between my Ryzen with 24 threads, and the 64 GB of memory I bought for a few hundred dollars it was really occuring to me how much power my PC has for really not that much money. I don't need to be spending so much cash on cloud services when my local machine has more than enough horses to do everything I need.

I think the M1 is one more force towards the pendulum swinging back. I suspect that as developers port applications to ARM people will rediscover the benefits of native installations as new software starts to take full advantage of this new hardware.

tsjq(10000) 3 days ago [-]

This time, thanks to 'everywhere availability' convenience for consumer apps via phone, it might not swing that much towards running locally despite the so much powerful computing at not-so-high prices.

dirtypersian(10000) 3 days ago [-]

I didn't really understand the TSO explanation given in this article and found it to be a bit hand-wavy. The article says to emulate the x86 TSO consistency model on an ARM machine which is weakly ordered you have to add a bunch of instructions which would make the emulation slow. I followed that much but then after that it doesn't really explain how they would get around these extra instructions needed to guarantee the ordering. It just says 'oh, it's a hardware toggle'; toggle of what exactly?

I could see them just saying no to following TSO for single core stuff and when running emulated code for single core performance benchmarks since technically you don't care about ordering for single core operation/correctness. That would speed up their single core stuff but then what about the multi-core.

Veedrac(10000) 3 days ago [-]

> It just says 'oh, it's a hardware toggle'; toggle of what exactly?

A toggle that makes the chip treat all loads and stores from that thread as TSO.

Historical Discussions: Building Your Color Palette (November 22, 2020: 1007 points)
Building your color palette (November 10, 2018: 705 points)
Building Your Color Palette (November 08, 2018: 2 points)

(1009) Building Your Color Palette

1009 points 6 days ago by clessg in 10000th position

refactoringui.com | Estimated reading time – 7 minutes | comments | anchor

Building Your Color Palette

Adapted from our book and video series, Refactoring UI.

Ever used one of those fancy color palette generators? You know, the ones where you pick a starting color, tweak some options that probably include some musical jargon like 'triad' or 'major fourth', and are then bestowed the five perfect color swatches you should use to build your website?

This calculated and scientific approach to picking the perfect color scheme is extremely seductive, but not very useful.

Well, unless you want your site to look like this:

What you actually need

You can't build anything with five hex codes. To build something real, you need a much more comprehensive set of colors to choose from.

You can break a good color palette down into three categories.


Text, backgrounds, panels, form controls — almost everything in an interface is grey.

You'll need more greys than you think, too — three or four shades might sound like plenty but it won't be long before you wish you had something a little darker than shade #2 but a little lighter than shade #3.

In practice, you want 8-10 shades to choose from (more on this later). Not so many that you waste time deciding between shade #77 and shade #78, but enough to make sure you don't have to compromise too much .

True black tends to look pretty unnatural, so start with a really dark grey and work your way up to white in steady increments.

Primary color(s)

Most sites need one, maybe two colors that are used for primary actions, emphasizing navigation elements, etc. These are the colors that determine the overall look of a site — the ones that make you think of Facebook as 'blue', even though it's really mostly grey.

Just like with greys, you need a variety (5-10) of lighter and darker shades to choose from.

Ultra-light shades can be useful as a tinted background for things like alerts, while darker shades work great for text.

Accent colors

On top of primary colors, every site needs a few accent colors for communicating different things to the user.

For example, you might want to use an eye-grabbing color like yellow, pink, or teal to highlight a new feature:

You might also need colors to emphasize different semantic states, like red for confirming a destructive action:

...yellow for a warning message:

...or green to highlight a positive trend:

You'll want multiple shades for these colors too, even though they should be used pretty sparingly throughout the UI.

If you're building something where you need to use color to distinguish or categorize similar elements (like lines on graphs, events in a calendar, or tags on a project), you might need even more accent colors.

All in, it's not uncommon to need as many as ten different colors with 5-10 shades each for a complex UI.

Define your shades up front

When you need to create a lighter or darker variation of a color in your palette, don't get clever using CSS preprocessor functions like 'lighten' or 'darken' to create shades on the fly. That's how you end up with 35 slightly different blues that all look the same.

Instead, define a fixed set of shades up front that you can choose from as you work.

So how do you put together a palette like this anyways?

Choose the base color first

Start by picking a base color for the scale you want to create — the color in the middle that your lighter and darker shades are based on.

There's no real scientific way to do this, but for primary and accent colors, a good rule of thumb is to pick a shade that would work well as a button background.

It's important to note that there are no real rules here like 'start at 50% lightness' or anything — every color behaves a bit differently, so you'll have to rely on your eyes for this one.

Finding the edges

Next, pick your darkest shade and your lightest shade. There's no real science to this either, but it helps to think about where they will be used and choose them using that context.

The darkest shade of a color is usually reserved for text, while the lightest shade might be used to tint the background of an element.

A simple alert component is a good example that combines both of these use cases, so it can be a great place to pick these colors.

Start with a color that matches the hue of your base color, and adjust the saturation and lightness until you're satisfied.

Filling in the gaps

Once you've got your base, darkest, and lightest shades, you just need to fill in the gaps in between them.

For most projects, you'll need at least 5 shades per color, and probably closer to 10 if you don't want to feel too constrained.

Nine is a great number because it's easy to divide and makes filling in the gaps a little more straightforward. Let's call our darkest shade 900, our base shade 500, and our lightest shade 100.

Start by picking shades 700 and 300, the ones right in the middle of the gaps. You want these shades to feel like the perfect compromise between the shades on either side.

This creates four more holes in the scale (800, 600, 400, and 200), which you can fill using the same approach.

You should end up with a pretty balanced set of colors that provide just enough options to accommodate your design ideas without feeling limiting.

What about greys?

With greys the base color isn't as important, but otherwise the process is the same. Start at the edges and fill in the gaps until you have what you need.

Pick your darkest grey by choosing a color for the darkest text in your project, and your lightest grey by choosing something that works well for a subtle off-white background.

It's not a science

As tempting as it is, you can't rely purely on math to craft the perfect color palette.

A systematic approach like the one described above is great to get you started, but don't be afraid to make little tweaks if you need to.

Once you actually start using your colors in your designs, it's almost inevitable that you'll want to tweak the saturation on a shade, or make a couple of shades lighter or darker. Trust your eyes, not the numbers.

Just try to avoid adding new shades too often if you can avoid it. If you're not dilligent about limiting your palette, you might as well have no color system at all.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

compscistd(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm building a color palette now for a hobby site. The MaterialUI color guide matches this writeup pretty well.

An additional guide that I would love to see: how to make a complementary dark mode (or light mode) palette that still holds on to your app's existing color brand.

CPUstring(10000) 5 days ago [-]

So many times, dark mode just seems like somebody pressed the 'invert color' option

jjcm(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I work on design systems as my day-to-day job. This is the first post I've seen on HN that actually captures how to properly set up your color palette. The author's early call out on how palette generators are not a one-stop-shop for your color palette rings true. Color meaning and harmony cannot be broken down into a mathematical formula. It's too heavily influenced by a.) biology, b.) trends, and c.) culture.

RGB simply does not map 1:1 with our biology. We can't say, 'ok here's a simple formula that will create two color that have harmony with humans universally'. We can approximate it, but there's no perfect system out there for it. Other color modes (such as HSL or LAB) help, but come with their own drawbacks as well.

Trends is another matter that is rarely considered or talked about. We as society gravitate towards certain colors within each geographical market. As a UX designer, it's important to stay within the bounds of these. There are certain things in life that should follow trends, many of which are items that convey important meaning. Can you imagine if every city in America used a different stop sign? It would be disastrous. Having one universal shape/symbol reduces the mental load required to recognize the meaning of the object. Likewise if a market gravitates towards a certain shade of red as dangerous, then you should stay close to that color when choosing your design palette. Over time these colors will shift as the trends slowly evolve - this is not something that can be approximated by a formula.

The last bit is culture. Color in each culture is widely different. Red in China conveys prosperity, which is why if you look at designs for stock portfolio apps in China, graphs are red when going up in price. In India it represents purity. In the Western world it's danger. None of this can be captured in a formula.

The author breaks down what the correct approach is when choosing color - breaking down meaning and extrapolating shades in your ramp to create a useful, well supported palette.

tobr(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> There are certain things in life that should follow trends, many of which are items that convey important meaning. Can you imagine if every city in America used a different stop sign? It would be disastrous.

I think you just offered an argument against, not for, following trends. Stop signs are universally recognized not just because the same design is used everywhere, but because the design is stable over time.

amelius(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> This is the first post I've seen on HN that actually captures how to properly set up your color palette.

This is just a Boostrap color palette that I see here and it would be nice if they'd been a bit more creative. Imagine if Rembrandt used Boostrap colors in all his paintings and all his peers copied him ... that would be a boring world, but alas, that's what the internet is currently like, and articles like these certainly don't help.

bredren(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I use coolors.co for my palette work but have had to use my intuition for button state shades horizontal rules and otherwise.

It would be great if there was a web app that was like coolers but faster, and presented actual UI examples with all of the advice from this piece automatically applied.

I'd build this if I didn't have my hands full!

sundarurfriend(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> In India [red] represents purity.

Does it? There's a lot of subcultures here, so maybe - can someone from north India confirm if this is a thing there? Here in south India, there's no such association with purity I can think of. It generally represents danger and anger and such things similar to in the West.

torgard(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> The last bit is culture. Color in each culture is widely different.

One thing that confused me a great deal when I was younger: In the political system that I was familiar with, a 'red' party is left-leaning. But in the United States, 'red' is right-leaning.

Apparently, this convention is also extremely recent; only since the 2000 elections has red-is-Republican and blue-is-Democrat been agreed upon.[0]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_states_and_blue_states#Con...

Daub(10000) 5 days ago [-]

>RGB simply does not map 1:1 with our biology.

Hate to be picky... but actually it maps rather well to our biology. After we, we see in RGB. what it does map to is our perception. HSL is good for artists as a 'thinking space'.

The real problem is that in art literature most Colour spaces are expressed as 2 dimensions. So called harmony is discussed most as an attribute of hue, never of a compound of hue, sat and lightness.

PaulHoule(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Any design should make sense in black and white and color should be the cherry on top.

Handicapped accessibility guidelines mandate specific contrast ratios but even normally sighted people see better resolution for changes in values than changes in hue and saturation. That is built into many video standards. So if you want to make the best of your eyes and the reproduction chain, do it!

Ansel Adams popularized a 'zone system' to get the most out of photography but some of the best illustration pays close attention to value. I've made a bunch of receipt printer prints of Pokémon characters and they look great printed on a bad printer because they were designed that way.

jan6(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think you mean grayscale, not black and white? VERY different things, black and white is strictly 2 colors, grayscale is any gray shade

manceraio(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I created an AI palette generator using two neural networks trained with the Tailwind CSS shades.

It works better than I ever expected, but it has of course its corner cases.

It's open sourced:


dannyeei(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This is awesome! Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely be using this soon

polk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Thank you, this looks super useful!

In case you're considering taking this further: a Figma plugin for this would make it 10x better. Changing the seed color could automatically update the color styles in the file, and would so propagate to every component and element. That would make an incredibly useful tool for experimenting with color schemes.

dawnerd(10000) 5 days ago [-]

That looks nice but setting the base to something like #332F4B makes all the colors look the same.

leonmoonen(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm totally stunned you would not even consider for a minute the ~10% of people who are colorblind (not part of that group, but always aware while creating visualizations as a scientific writer)

dilawar(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I am part of colorblind groups. People loves mixing green and red in scientific plots in papers I read. It's effing irritating. 10% is not such a small number, we are many more than IE users.

xgad(10000) 5 days ago [-]

To be fair, the full book, 'Refactoring UI' — from which this article sourced — has a section on color accessibility. To quote from there:

> 'Always use color to support something that your design is already saying; never use it as the only means of communication.'

themacguffinman(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That seems pretty out of the scope of this article. An article about accessibility can be covered separately and most accessibility articles already recommend that color isn't the only indicator, so a warning/error is still distinguishable with icons & shapes & text.

It's kind of discouraging to see insinuations that the author doesn't consider certain people because an article doesn't explore and include caveats for everything.

jaxn(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Thank you!

Colorblind friendly red/yellow/green for status for danger/warning/success goes a long way. And it's not that hard.

crazygringo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> True black tends to look pretty unnatural, so start with a really dark grey

I wish this myth would die. #000 is already dark gray on any normal real-life screen anyone uses because of ambient light, halos, etc. It's nowhere near 'true black'.

There is a good reason to avoid pure black or pure white in an interface, but it's nothing to do with 'naturalness' or even legibility.

It's simply so that images or content which do include the full brightness gamut from #000 to #FFF 'pop' in comparison. You want the darkest shadows and brightest highlights to catch your attention, and not have them compete with browser or interface chrome.

An interface is generally intended to 'recede' next to actual content. But if your interface is star of the show? Use pure black and pure white. Go crazy. It's been used to great effect before.

j45(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This relative black / dark grey you speak of would appear differently on each display.

Finding a grey color range that more accurately reproduces seems like a more fruitful undertaking.

coldtea(10000) 6 days ago [-]

>I wish this myth would die. #000 is already dark gray on any normal real-life screen anyone uses because of ambient light, halos, etc.

No, it's not. And with OLED, mini-LED etc, it will be even less so.

kitsunesoba(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> I wish this myth would die. #000 is already dark gray on any normal real-life screen anyone uses because of ambient light, halos, etc. It's nowhere near 'true black'.

I would say phones would be an exception to this rule, since a large number, perhaps even the majority, use OLED panels which are capable of displaying true black. This is becoming true for TVs as well.

ImprobableTruth(10000) 6 days ago [-]

>#000 is already dark gray on any normal real-life screen

So? The contrast between 'black' and 'white' is still extreme relative to what people normally have around them. The same goes for the neon colors. They are 'diluted', but they're still incredibly garish and generally look unnatural. If you don't like the word 'unnatural' just replace it with 'digital looking'.

Now, looking 'unnatural' isn't necessarily bad (especially for a website interface) and something like text should definitely have a high contrast, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

chrisseaton(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> 'pop'

What do designers mean by 'pop'?

andy_ppp(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think people scale their perception when looking at a screen, looking at white on black is too harsh for most uses with text these days. I personally think it looks really unprofessional and uninspiring going for the most possible contrast in a design.

imposter(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Annnd this is exactly why I now exclusively use tailwind, wherever I can.

jdamon96(10000) 6 days ago [-]

haven't used tailwind before - why is it particularly helpful for UI color palettes?

petepete(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This used to be so much more of a pain before Sass (and friends) came along. Having a red error box with a separate border colour used to be a pain to maintain but it's so simple with darken/lighten and a few commonly used context-specific variables.

kowlo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Do you have any resources or examples you recommend for this? My front-end knowledge is over a decade old. I would still be assigning all these colours individually in CSS!

kowlo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Interesting post! I had a look at the Refactoring UI packages, $99 ($79 on sale) seems a little steep for a PDF and three videos.

weaksauce(10000) 6 days ago [-]

it's a quite good book and worth it if you are doing it professionally. condensed, well written, good advice.

nathancahill(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The book is absolutely worth it.

markdown(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Worth it if you're not from the web design world. For those already in that sphere, there's nothing new here; no lesson that hasn't already been taught in web design blogs over the years.

dinkleberg(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I got it a while back and have to say it was worth it. Sure it's more expensive than a normal book, but if $100 can get me the condensed reference of an expert then I see it as a win.

amelius(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Looks pretty, yet ... why do I get the feeling that I've seen those designs a million times before?

xkyscore(10000) 6 days ago [-]

So many designers just rip off the design team at Stripe, even the author of this article frequently raves about Stripe.

corytheboyd(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This seems like great succinct advice in an area the I have definitely struggled before, thanks for sharing!

Wow this book sounds extremely promising as well, I think I'll end up purchasing it in the future

taffer(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It was also co-authored by Adam Wathan, the creator of the tailwind css framework.

flohofwoe(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This might sound strange to today's UI design crowd, by why is there so much emphasis on applications picking their own color palette when this should be the job of the operating system?

As a user I want a 'coherent experience' when using my computing device, also when several apps are on screen at the same time. Your fancy app is not the center of the universe and doesn't 'deserve' its own color palette. If I'm in a 'green mood' today, I want to pick a green color palette for all apps, the same way I can switch to a different background image.

mqus(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I disagree. I think that the OS should provide a set of UI elements so that all applications have a similar navigation and learnability. Colors however are a great way to set a Brand and distinguish apps from another. A benefit is that I can instantly see if I'm in Powerpoint(red) or Excel(green), even if the view I have is just some pixels wide (e.g. previews).

But i can definitely see the appeal of a system wide color scheme. Dark mode is a nudge in this direction.

mdoms(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This way of thinking is why every commercial software package looks the same. Why must every background and panel be grey? Why must we have only one primary colour? Why must every colour field have edges?

lytedev(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Ignoring these guidelines can easily and quickly devolve into something that is tacky or even garish.

williamdclt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Probably because these guidelines have been 'proven to work' to produce a usable UI. The priority of commercial software isn't usually to produce a work of art, it's to produce a usable tool, there's little incentive to take creative risks.

arendtio(10000) 6 days ago [-]

When I saw that palette it felt so familiar, then I started reading:

> Adapted from our book and video series, Refactoring UI.

Well yeah, this explains it, as I have bought (and read!) the book a while ago. The book isn't too extensive, but I don't regret any penny spent on it. Actually, I revisit it from time to time to internalize the lessons.

nmfisher(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I actually toyed with asking for a refund on this book (though in the end I decided not to).

Except the palette chapter, it doesn't help you build an aesthetically pleasing design from the ground up. All the examples are about making 'meh' design better - but many of us back-end developers would be over the moon if we were able to make 'meh' design in the first place.

It's also really only helpful for designing 'webform'-style applications (where the main purpose is structuring a lot of information). There are no general principles of design that that would be applicable to something like an interactive mobile application.

I'm not bagging the book, I still think it's quite good for what it is and I did find it modestly useful (which is why I didn't request a refund).

But rightly or wrongly, I thought it would be a good introduction to the fundamentals of visual design, which it mostly isn't.

edem(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm at a loss here. Which value should I change when I try to create different shades of color X? The hue? Brightness? What kind of color encoding should I use?

alexmingoia(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The hue is the color, so generally you should change the lightness and saturation to get a different shade. You should use HSL (hue-saturation-lightness) because that's what CSS3 uses, and HSL/HSV are colorwheels designed for representing RGB (what screens use).

HSL/HSV attempt to mimic paint mixing. Hue is the color. It's a degree because imagine all colors of the rainbow arranged in a circle, that's the color wheel and each degree corresponds to a different color. Saturation is how much color (0% saturation at 50% lightness is grey), and lightness is how light or dark the color is (0% is black, 100% is a very bright color or white depending on the saturation).

Here's a good article on HSL/HSV with diagrams: https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/HSL_and_HSV

theartfuldodger(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I audit sites frequently, the most common flaw is designers treating text as an afterthought. This article had one point that probably assists in the poor contrast choices that are so common. As I type in black on white in this text box I have trouble understanding why design professionals would call 'black' on white unnatural. It is not. Unnatural isn't even an appropriate word to use for images and text displayed on a screen unless you are describing the entire experience. Do yourself ( and us) a favor and throw that whole idea out the window and start at #333 to pure black on white as your minimum contrast unless something particularly important in the overall aesthetic changes that priority.

In at least 100 examples where one of the audit fixes was 'change font to #000' was the follow up feedback by a client or user tester saying that the gray was better or that 'its unnatural' or 'way too legible' nor a single case of analytics showing less dwell or read time ( or conversions) from users.

Complete design myth and it should die

neop1x(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Some web designers like to do gray background with just a bit darker text. Little contrast, hard to read. Even code editors often have 'dark theme' with gray background an not-light-enough text color. Sometimes I am able to override CSS rules, sometimes I have to modify theme to create 'black theme'. But reducing contrast seems to be a bad modern habit, unfortunatelly.

wmeredith(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Black on white is considered unnatural because it doesn't really ever occur in nature. I agree on the text is not an afterthought thing. It should be the first thought. Content is and always will be king.

kuschku(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Get a properly calibrated 1000 nits screen and display #000 on #fff (without wearing sunglasses). Have fun ;)

One of the major issues on the web currently is that colors aren't properly colorspaced or matched to a brightness curve, so on shitty 6-bit 100 nits panels #000 on #fff will still be grey-on-grey while on a proper 10 or 12-bit 1000 or 4000 nits panel #000 on #fff will be a color contrast of 'literally looking into the sun' vs 'the darkness of the darkest night'.

visarga(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Does anyone know a good categorical color palette with equal perceptual intensity? I mean, all colors should be maximally distinct in any ordering they come. I can get up to 10 colors by hand but then they all start looking too similar. I am using it to display spans in a text labeling interface.

PI_ZA(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Sounds like a great idea for a long term poll. Task varied persons through several generations across the world with categorizing colors. If somethings similar has been done I'd love to know.

enriquto(10000) 6 days ago [-]

All these examples use way too many colors. The ideal (and minimum) number of colors for a sober site is two: one color for the background and a very different color for the text, each of them an extreme and opposite shade of gray. If you are really fancy, add a third color on a couple of very small places, almost inconspicuously. More than three colors results in an ugly pastiche. The worst offence is having several slightly different shades of the same base color. This is what this article seems to propose and it is unbearably horrendous.

Jolter(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Can you show a pretty example of the approach you're advocating?

I'm skeptical, you see. I've never seen an attractive web site designed that way.

jjcm(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Pretty much every design system out there disagrees with you. Material (Google's design system) uses 10 shades, Fluent (Microsoft's) uses 8, Lightning (Salesforce's) uses 12. Even the most basic terminals in use support 2 shades of EACH color.

While 2 or 3 colors are fine for a simple blog, any app that has more functionality than just reading can benefit from a wide range of semantic colors. A dangerous action should be red, a graph trending upwards should be green (or red in East Asian markets), a warning should be yellow. These colors help convey meaning to the actions that are present, and the usefulness of a wide spectrum should not be discounted.

capex(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Practically speaking, you end up using colours many more than 3. Even designing a button needs a base colour, a hover state colour, a clicked state colour and sometimes border colours too. You can 'wing' it by using sass 'darken' etc as someone stated above, but I've found that to be interpreted differently by different browsers, and it's just better to anticipate these needs and come up with the required colour stops upfront.

TazeTSchnitzel(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Hmm, but 90's UI design got by with far fewer shades. Windows 95 has at most seven colours[0] used in the UI aside from the desktop background and icons, and yet it had a very clear visual hierarchy compared to today's designs.

[0] light gray, dark gray, white, black, navy blue, the other gray (scrollbars), the light yellow used for help text backgrounds

tomtheelder(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think it's implied, but unstated, that this guide is for picking a palette for an app that follows modern design trends. The choice of a slack-like UI reinforces that.

You can get away with many fewer colors if you use different design language, but very few (not none, but few) apps are built with those sorts of aesthetics.

helmholtz(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't see what one gains by limiting the number of shades of colour when designing a professional app (as opposed to a personal/art project where one might enjoy constraints). Just a mental satisfaction of 'I used less!'?

Multiple colours cost nothing, don't incur performance penalties, but do help make the UI look prettier and more finished. I'd be way more likely to spend time in an app if it looked beautiful, and by almost any metric, Windows 95 was not a thing of beauty. It had clarity, I agree, but it was far from the pinnacle of what humanity can achieve.

zer0tonin(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Honestly I don't think this opinion is shared by a majority of users.

anomaloustho(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think there is a lot of validity to this article. But extrapolated as "general advice" would seem to replicate Bootstrap aesthetics every time.

Saying, "Well, you need a color for the errors, and the successes, and the warnings" will almost invariably provoke the answers "Red, Green, Yellow" in some varying shade. The net effect is we can all tell when a website is using bootstrap or lacks branding.

If you are taking out the time to steer away from appearing generic and are trying to differentiate your app design and branding, I think this advice might be a subtle disservice.

You can change the presentation of the message by changing the position, the font, the size, the shape, the weight. You can add icons and other visuals. (E.g. your company's mascot making a sad face).

Looking at errors and warnings handled in Google's websites (not the generic Material UI Kit), Apple products, Slack, etcetera can be used as an example to see that "You need a color for errors, and a color for successes, and a color for warnings." is not necessarily the only way to design errors, warnings, and successes.

gregoryjjb(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The author is one of the creators of Tailwind CSS, which gives you a predefined color palate but no components, and is intentionally opposed to the Bootstrap ideas. The recognizable part of Bootstrap isn't the fact that errors are red, it's the shape of the buttons, inputs, etc., and the fact that all errors are the exact same red as other Bootstrap sites.

At the end of the day 'good' UI doesn't have a lot of room to be different -- it actually needs to be recognizable -- but you don't need to change much to avoid being generic. Using different shade(s) of red for errors is one way.

jjcm(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> "You need a color for errors, and a color for successes, and a color for warnings." is not necessarily the only way to design errors, warnings, and successes.

It's not the only way, but it is the best way. Straying too far from semantic meanings of colors can create confusion for users that expect a certain thing. Can you imagine if your bank had a two buttons - 'delete account' and 'cancel', where the delete button was green and inviting and the cancel was red? Danger should be semantic if your app has any sort of high risk actions involved in it.

It's fine if a game or a rss reader uses their own funky palette that shows off their brand, but any time you start handling money you should really stray away from that.

tomtheelder(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As the author says: 'You might also need colors to emphasize different semantic states'

It's a reasonable choice to use them, but you don't necessarily need to. It is a useful example for palette building as it is a common choice to us semantic colors, and it helps to demonstrate adding colors with substantially different hues.

stevenhuang(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah no. If a design calls for something like green colored errors then that is simply bad design.

Please be unique in other ways.

stickfigure(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Maybe I'm a weirdo but I rather like his first example of 'unless you want your site to look like this'. The red is a bit much but it is an error message, after all. Overall it looks like the iconic Santa Fe Railroad 'bluebonnet' color scheme:


It would certainly stand out on my desktop. Depending on the application, could be a plus. Probably not natural for a mail client or text-centric app, but you never know.

justusthane(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I am not a designer, but I thought that that example is both awful and reflected my own experience with color scheme generators ("How do I make a design look good with these five colors?!").

The sidebar is okay I think, but the yellow for the pane pane would be incredibly overwhelming scaled up to a full page. Also the blue text on yellow does weird things to my eyes.

sundarurfriend(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The yellow background to the text is the only major problem for me. Otherwise, it seems like a perfectly cromulent UI.

xori(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I agree, I thought the same thing when I hit that section. 'What's wrong with that?'

allenu(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I thought I had a good sense of aesthetics, but I struggled with coming up with a color scheme for my own app. Once you pick colors that look nice, when you put them together, something always seems off! There isn't a unity and it's hard as an analytical thinker to explain why. You just can feel it.

Articles like this helped me out a bit, as well as just trying different things. This includes taking an app or website you like and analyzing the colors they use. It helps to look at their use of saturation and lightness in specific elements (i.e. CTAs are typically more saturated and backgrounds and other elements you wish to mute are less saturated).

In the end, if you can come up with a cohesive color palette, your product definitely looks more polished and professional. You have an overall feeling of confidence in it, even if the code has not changed one bit. It's like suspension of disbelief in a movie. When you hit something that shatters the illusion, you're taken out of the story and just look at the film as a series of filmed events played out in sequence and less like a narrative.

helmholtz(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I checked out your website and the app listed on your profile and they definitely looks professional and polished! Would you care to share the resources you used to learn this stuff? Even better if you could write more about your own journey. It's exactly the not-a-designer-by-trade-but-enthusiastic-about-it types whose backgrounds I can relate to the most.

nbzso(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I am shocked sometimes on how 'designers' are in mass without a solid design foundation. In context of usability and interface there is a simple rule: contrast and white space is mandatory. For colours and palettes there are a ton of solid research and historically validated materials. If you are designer do your self a favour and invest time and money not on 'quick and dirty' approach on this subject but in building serious knowledge about colour. Colour is deep topic with functional and emotional impact on the user. I am with impression that tools and product implementation are leading real design process. And this is bad. Tech knowledge is a tool for implementation. Design knowledge is not new. This article is good selling pitch but knowledge-wise is scratching the surface of the topic.

mushbino(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Unfortunately, compared to engineering there's a low barrier to entry for design. Many, especially small companies make their design hires without knowing what they're looking for. There are many nebulous concepts involved so it's easy to underestimate the challenges involved. For example, I took two semesters of color theory in college and we barely scratched the surface.

hedora(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Has someone written a web browser plugin to clamp all the off white grays to white, and the off black grays to black?

I paid for a high contrast screen with uniform black and whites. I don't want to clamp the palette to stuff that looks good on a worn out tft.

likeclockwork(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The funny thing is that it doesn't. That worn out monitor has worse contrast so everything just looks ever muddier.

Historical Discussions: Booting from a vinyl record (November 22, 2020: 979 points)

(979) Booting from a vinyl record

979 points 6 days ago by ruik in 10000th position

boginjr.com | Estimated reading time – 4 minutes | comments | anchor

Most PCs tend to boot from a primary media storage, be it a hard disk drive, or a solid-state drive, perhaps from a network, or – if all else fails – the USB stick or the boot DVD comes to the rescue... Fun, eh? Boring! Why don't we try to boot from a record player for a change?

64 512 byte DOS boot disk on a 10′′ record, total playing time 06:10 on 45 rpm

So this nutty little experiment connects a PC, or an IBM PC to be exact, directly onto a record player through an amplifier. There is a small ROM boot loader that operates the built-in "cassette interface" of the PC (that was hardly ever used), invoked by the BIOS if all the other boot options fail, i.e. floppy disk and the hard drive. The turntable spins an analog recording of a small bootable read-only RAM drive, which is 64K in size. This contains a FreeDOS kernel, modified by me to cram it into the memory constraint, a micro variant of COMMAND.COM and a patched version of INTERLNK, that allows file transfer through a printer cable, modified to be runnable on FreeDOS. The bootloader reads the disk image from the audio recording through the cassette modem, loads it to memory and boots the system on it. Simple huh?

The vinyl loader code, in a ROM (It can also reside on a hard drive or a floppy, but that'd be cheating)

And now to get more technical: this is basically a merge between BootLPT/86 and 5150CAXX, minus the printer port support. It also resides in a ROM, in the BIOS expansion socket, but it does not have to. The connecting cable between the PC and the record player amplifier is the same as with 5150CAXX, just without the line-in (PC data out) jack. The "cassette interface" itself is just PC speaker timer channel 2 for the output, and 8255A-5 PPI port C channel 4 (PC4, I/O port 62h bit 4) for the input. BIOS INT 15h routines are used for software (de)modulation. The boot image is the same 64K BOOTDISK.IMG "example" RAM drive that can be downloaded at the bottom of the BootLPT article. This has been turned into an "IBM cassette tape"-protocol compliant audio signal using 5150CAXX, and sent straight to a record cutting lathe. Vinyls are cut with an RIAA equalization curve that a preamp usually reverses during playback, but not perfectly. So some signal correction had to be applied from the amplifier, as I couldn't make it work right with the line output straight from the phono preamp. In my case, involving a vintage Harman&Kardon 6300 amplifier with an integrated MM phono preamp, I had to fade the treble all the way down to -10dB/10kHz, increase bass equalization to approx. +6dB/50Hz and reduce the volume level to approximately 0.7 volts peak, so it doesn't distort. All this, naturally, with any phase and loudness correction turned off. Of course, the cassette modem does not give a hoot in hell about where the signal is coming from. Notwithstanding, the recording needs to be pristine and contain no pops or loud crackles (vinyl) or modulation/frequency drop-outs (tape) that will break the data stream from continuing. However, some wow is tolerated, and the speed can be 2 or 3 percent higher or lower too.

Bootloader in a ROM; being an EPROM for a good measure

And that's it! For those interested, the bootloader binary designed for a 2364 chip (2764s can be used, through an adaptor), can be obtained here. It assumes an IBM 5150 with a monochrome screen and at least 512K of RAM, which kind of reminds me of my setup (what a coincidence). The boot disk image can be obtained at the bottom of the BootLPT/86 article, and here's its analog variant, straight from the grooves

All Comments: [-] | anchor

larrydag(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is really neat. So I get that booting from non-standard devices is just a matter of digital signal processing. Really interesting using an amplifier get the signal. I imagine you can do almost any sort of analog to digital method. How about doing a boot loader from tin cans and a string? Being silly but in theory it should work.

justusthane(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's a totally different thing, but your string comment reminded me of "DSL over wet string": https://boingboing.net/2017/12/13/rfc-2549.html

K0balt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

So is this audio (cassette) boot method still there in modern pcs? I would love to have a pc that had to be booted by playing a track, then executing a hdd bootloader

K0balt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I see now it was an original pc, so, no lol

jensgk(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Great hack :-)

Reminds me of the vinyl records with games on, that were sometimes included with home computer magazines in the 80s: https://www.rediscoverthe80s.com/2014/01/80s-first-video-gam...

rwmj(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Oh yes, the ultimate in 'play once' media in my experience. You had to copy them over to a tape to have any chance of loading them more than one time.

lisper(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Very cool, but where did the record come from? Was bootable vinyl ever actually a thing? I'm old enough to remember the cassette era and I never saw bootable vinyl before today. Or did they somehow do a custom press from an audio recording?

vjshah(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The author makes a very brief mention of creating his own record using a lathe.

inopinatus(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Hey, some of us old-timers fondly remember the natural warmth, presence, and low syscall latency of operating systems booted from vinyl.

jonplackett(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is the most 'Hacker News' title I have ever seen

ac112(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Something like 'How I bootstrapped my Bitcoin startup from a vinyl record' would be even more Hackernewsy.

lebuffon(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The need to raise the BASS and reduce the Treble makes me think that the setup was missing the RIAA equalizer. If the AMP did not have a 'phono' input that would be the case.


clpwn(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah, and the treble at least was reduced exactly the amount the RIAA curve should reduce it (-10dB at 10kHz).

There are a ton of cheap 'dubplate' vinyl cutting shops out there, and it seems like maybe the OP sent off to one of these shops to print their ROM. Otherwise, they could have just re-cut a new vinyl with the equalization fixes baked in...

867-5309(10000) 6 days ago [-]

very, very cool and all..

.. but what does it sound like??

anamexis(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There's a video of it playing at the bottom of the article.

tgbugs(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I recently became curious about whether vinyl records might be a good choice for long term widespread backup of the information needed to bootstrap back to a full working Turing complete runtime, sort of as seeds for some future where much of the knowledge about computing had been lost. Somewhat absurd scenario, but interesting from a technical point of view due the the constraints you have to optimize for.

Depending on what assumptions you make about the effective bandwidth available on a 33 rpm lp record is somewhere between 225MB and 15MB. That is easily enough space to fit a full fledged implementation of Common Lisp on somewhere between 1 and 4 records (SBCL's working tree is 40MB, and with its .git folder it is 152MB). There are countless other factors that would need to be considered, but I still like to imagine a sci-fi story about the search for the 5th record of lp-lisp needed to reboot civilization! The fact that someone has actually done something even remotely related to this is fantastic.

thaumasiotes(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> I recently became curious about whether vinyl records might be a good choice for long term widespread backup of the information needed to bootstrap back to a full working Turing complete runtime, sort of as seeds for some future where much of the knowledge about computing had been lost.

> the effective bandwidth available on a 33 rpm lp record is somewhere between 225MB and 15MB. That is easily enough space to fit a full fledged implementation of Common Lisp on somewhere between 1 and 4 records (SBCL's working tree is 40MB, and with its .git folder it is 152MB). There are countless other factors that would need to be considered

Don't vinyl records experience physical decay over time?

andylynch(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Vinyl is a bit soft for long term archival; harder materials are better!

The Long Now Foundation has something very like this with the Rosetta Disk - it's a language archive on encased metal disk, and designed to be read optically; the first parts with the naked eye and the rest with a microscope.

Microsoft is also developing something similar for commercial use in Project Silica.

ArtWomb(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Love it. Conceptually identical to the old TRS-80 cassette tape interface. And even preserves the sensitivity to sound artifacts. Am beginning to think DOS will rise again. FreeDOS graphics mode is just as much fun to play with as PICO-8. 256 colors, 320 x 200 resolution. With modern techniques like AI Upscaling, and DOSBox emulation in browser. It doesn't seem too far fetched to say this is a viable development platform even in 2020 ;)

cat199(10000) 6 days ago [-]

a 64bit DOS flavor with VT-x/SVM shim could be very good for 'cloud'

michaelcampbell(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Ataris could load bootable apps; mostly games; from tape, too. I had one; it was glitchy as hell, but oh how my early high school self rejoiced when it worked.

graton(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I remember having a TRS-80 Model I and using the cassette tape to load and save programs. I'll be honest it was a very happy day when I finally got a floppy drive!

tarkin2(10000) 6 days ago [-]

They didn't consider hand-chiseled morse code?

reaperducer(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That would actually be easier than what we actually had to do flipping switches to enter a binary bootloader into old computers.

asutekku(10000) 6 days ago [-]

So the whining heard with dial-up modems was the sound of an actual data, huh. Never really thought about it, but super cool!

pantulis(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That was your modem negotiating the protocol and speed with the remote modem, not proper data. Still, if your mother happened to use the phone line while you were connected, she would heard the actual data on the line, just before the connection broke. Oh, the times.

layoutIfNeeded(10000) 6 days ago [-]

modem = MOdulator + DEModulator

Dial-up modems used the public switched telephone network to transmit data via audio signals through regular phone calls. The modems had an internal speaker so the operator could "debug" the connection with their ears, e.g. if they called the wrong number and an actual person was talking on the other end.

MarkusWandel(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Technically, all the stuff heard at the beginning was initialization and training stuff. The actual data is the uniform hiss/roar just before the speaker cut off. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/the-m...

At least for modems near the end of the period. The very first ones at 300bps really did sound like cassette audio.

npteljes(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Very similar to the sound of the Commodore data tapes when inserted to a regular cassette player. Tried it as a kid, I was convinced I broke something.

Random example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVsY9PVIKsQ

gus_massa(10000) 6 days ago [-]

You may like this classic HN post 'The sound of the dialup, pictured' http://www.windytan.com/2012/11/the-sound-of-dialup-pictured... (HN discussions https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15635144 (675 points | Nov 6, 2017 | 108 comments) and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9171514 (174 points | on Mar 9, 2015 | 35 comments))

aetherson(10000) 6 days ago [-]

When I was a CS major in the 90's, one of my professors told me a story of his own college days, with punch-card computers.

His university bought a tape reader (like, punched paper tape, not magnetic tape) to do the boot code of the computer, on the theory that tape was a little easier to manage than punch-cards for the boot (you can't lose one of the cards, or get them out of order, etc with tape). So my prof and some of his friends start playing with the tape reader, and they realize that what controls the IO speed of the tape is actually the tensile strength of the tape -- if the feeder tries to put too much force on it, it will tear the paper tape. The actual computer can read the instructions much faster than the tape can physically handle.

So they got some plastic tape instead, and punched the boot code in the (much stronger) plastic tape. Then, to boot the computer, they'd feed the plastic tape through the part of the reader that actually read, bypassing the mechanical part that pulled and wound the tape, and then manually grab the other end and yank on it as hard as they could, basically starting the computer like it was one of those old lawnmowers that you pulled the cord to turn over the engine.

test_123456(10000) 5 days ago [-]

You will enjoy this classic. It&#x27;s a lovely image showing the dialup handshake . My first modem was a Hayes 1200 baud. Every modem after seemed to double. The protocols got better too. Bidirectional transfers, wow.<p><a href='http:&#x2F;&#x2F;www.windytan.com&#x2F;2012&#x2F;11&#x2F;the-sound-of-dialup-pictured.html?m=1' rel='nofollow'>http:&#x2F;&#x2F;www.windytan.com&#x2F;2012&#x2F;11&#x2F;the-sound-of-dialup-pictured...</a>

iaw(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Part of me wants to think that that would add wear to the mechanism but the other part of me remembers how things were built back then.

Shivetya(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Back in the late eighties I was in the Air Force and we had a Burroughs machine; replete with all the lights you see in old science fiction; that could be booted through paper tape. I was an octal setup. We also could theoretically boot this machine by switches but never saw that done.

This was one of the first machines built for the service that did not require tubes so that gives you the idea of the age of this and it was in daily use in the 1986-1989. Even the main base computer, Sperry 1100/60? took cards in for data input. Late 88,89 we finally got most cards down to disk images uploaded through a Sperry branded PC. My first useful Turbo Pascal program replaced the provided software and could read/write from the mainframe at many times the rate of the canned software.

We also jokingly had a kick start Sperry, one pack would stick sometimes on boot; you had to swap packs for secure processing; and the fix was to face away from it and hit the side firmly with your foot flat on.

FpUser(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Great post, it made me smile and brought some memories. Btw I did use punch tapes in the beginning of times and the speed with which the mech pulled those through was insanely fast (at least to my eye). Maybe I've dealt with some later generation tech?

ntucker(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I love this kind of stuff. The fact that we (people in our field; not me specifically) had to and could do stuff like this must seem crazy ancient to the younger folks here. I did boot my first computer from a cassette tape, and I can still remember what it sounded like and it's so, so very nostalgic. And many of us did get our first internet access via these crazy noises as well. I'm sure I could also listen to a modem connecting and tell you what speed it had negotiated from 1200baud all the way up to 56k, since each new sound was, at one point, the pinnacle of excitement since I'd just upgraded to something new (and then I heard it thousands of times).

ChuckMcM(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Great story! FWIW this is kind of the origin story for Mylar 'paper tape' as well. When paper tape started being used for controlling machine tools (the NC in CNC), the paper tape would not hold up well in a shop. It could get grease or water on it which would compromise its integrity and then it would tear. So a 'stronger' paper tape was created but it had to be compatible with older paper tape reader/punches. It was great stuff.

doener(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is peak hipster.

throwanem(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Not quite. No Aeropress.

wiredfool(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Waiting on the multicolor vinyl special release with additional liner notes and outtakes.

aidos(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Love it.

When I was younger we had an Amstrad (CPC6128) that had a disk drive, but not a tape drive. My cousins had travelled to the UK where they picked up lots of games, but unfortunately most were on cassette. Being desperate to enjoy the wonderful new worlds contained within, I had to come up with a solution. In my case, I cracked open my sisters ghetto blaster and wired it in to the port on the side of the Machine. Worked like a charm, and I too got to enjoy the gruelling wait on every game change.

Tor3(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Wouldn't there also be a gruelling wait for the moment your sister found out what you did to her ghetto blaster? :-)

bhickey(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Rejecting cookies and going to about:blank. That's a great design decision.

jeroenhd(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Privacy badger blocked a whole load of cookies but I was able to get rid of the banner without clicking the dumb consent button with one of my favourite addons, 'hide fixed elements'.

Quite a petty design choice if you ask me.

adregan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's also not compliant in the countries that require the cookie banner.

fbelzile(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's especially frustrating when the only reason for the consent banner is because they decided to use Google Analytics [1]. Just use something selfhosted like Matomo with a few privacy settings enabled [2] and then bam! no more annoying consent banners for visitors, no more Google tracking your visitors, and you still get the metrics you want. Everyone wins (well, except Google).

[1] http://boginjr.com/gdpr/

[2] https://matomo.org/faq/new-to-piwik/how-do-i-use-matomo-anal...

excalibur(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This post glosses over the whole 'getting the data onto the record' process, which may not be the novel bit here but is definitely interesting as a reader.

m463(10000) 3 days ago [-]

also boot-loop debugging

Hnrobert42(10000) 6 days ago [-]

What is 'wow' as it relates to vinyl? I tried searching the web for it, but just got a bunch of unrelated results?

rzzzt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think flutter is the same thing, the inability to maintain constant and precise angular velocity.

fleaaa(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It literally sounds like guitar wow pedel when it happens. It's due to the fluctuation of the speed of the turntable.

In that video the turntable seems like Audio Technica's Technics 1200sl knock-off version which is quite infamous for instability, it seems fine in short video though. Very impressive nonetheless.

airstrike(10000) 6 days ago [-]

From the best English dictionary IMHO: https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=wow

> wow2, n.

> Slow variation in the pitch of a sound reproduction resulting from variations in the speed of the recording or reproducing equipment.

jagged-chisel(10000) 6 days ago [-]


ac42(10000) 6 days ago [-]


protomyth(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I remember my old Atari 400 loaded programs using the 410 cassette recorder. I do wonder how much a record could hold compared to a cassette, and given just wear, which would last longer?

Also, didn't some magazine from the era ship a plastic record for some system? I vaguely remember it, but I could just be imagining things. It was actually square with the 45 size record printed in it.

mtmail(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The video suggests 64kb in 45min for vinyl, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_Datasette was 100kb in 30min tape.

mikewarot(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Well, that certainly is an interesting boot disc. 8)

AtOmXpLuS(10000) 5 days ago [-]


K0balt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Sometimes we use our phones (often no signal in the field) to send photos back to the office over mobile radio using the robot36 protocol. You just load up an image, it plays a modem sound, and the receiving station has it on loudspeaker, with another phone listening. It works remarkably well as long as the sending / receiving environment is relatively quiet.

I even had a telegram chat with my kids where we would share memes back and forth as wave files. We called it 56k meme chat lol.

reaperducer(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's interesting how old analog audio technology still finds itself useful in these days of terabyte drives and satellite internet.

Some retro computer enthusiasts have taken to storing their programs as MP3 files. That way they can be loaded into a cassette interface using a hand-held voice recorder. Instead of carrying around a suitcase of tapes, you can store everything in the palm of your hand. It's also supposed to help protect against bitrot, but I don't know if that's true. Still, bitrot is a serious concern in retro computing circles because one bad bit in a 10 GB Windows game is probably harmless. But one bad bit in a 10K Apple ][ game will likely ruin it.

Also, I remember when I got my Amazon on-demand ordering buttons, they were set up using an analog modem sort of thing. It's been a long while, but from what I remember, when the buttons arrived, I'd open the Amazon app and tell it I was programming the button, then hold down the button on the button thing and the button and the phone would squawk to each other. It sounded very much like a 300 baud connection, but without the underlying carrier tone — just data.

mattbk1(10000) 5 days ago [-]

For those interested in learning more about this, the formal term is 'packet radio' in amateur radio (ham) circles. See APRS for a standardized tactical implementation.

jabroni_salad(10000) 6 days ago [-]

If anyone is interested in amateur radio, sending and receiving memes over SSTV is great fun.

mbirth(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There was an episode of The Modern Rogue on YouTube where they demonstrated sending pictures over cheap UHF radios using "Slow Scan Television" which Robot36 is a part of.


(962) How to Think for Yourself

962 points 1 day ago by neilkakkar in 10000th position

paulgraham.com | Estimated reading time – 19 minutes | comments | anchor

November 2020

There are some kinds of work that you can't do well without thinking differently from your peers. To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel. You can't publish papers saying things other people already know. You need to say things no one else has realized yet.

The same is true for investors. It's not enough for a public market investor to predict correctly how a company will do. If a lot of other people make the same prediction, the stock price will already reflect it, and there's no room to make money. The only valuable insights are the ones most other investors don't share.

You see this pattern with startup founders too. You don't want to start a startup to do something that everyone agrees is a good idea, or there will already be other companies doing it. You have to do something that sounds to most other people like a bad idea, but that you know isn't — like writing software for a tiny computer used by a few thousand hobbyists, or starting a site to let people rent airbeds on strangers' floors.

Ditto for essayists. An essay that told people things they already knew would be boring. You have to tell them something new.

But this pattern isn't universal. In fact, it doesn't hold for most kinds of work. In most kinds of work — to be an administrator, for example — all you need is the first half. All you need is to be right. It's not essential that everyone else be wrong.

There's room for a little novelty in most kinds of work, but in practice there's a fairly sharp distinction between the kinds of work where it's essential to be independent-minded, and the kinds where it's not.

I wish someone had told me about this distinction when I was a kid, because it's one of the most important things to think about when you're deciding what kind of work you want to do. Do you want to do the kind of work where you can only win by thinking differently from everyone else? I suspect most people's unconscious mind will answer that question before their conscious mind has a chance to. I know mine does.

Independent-mindedness seems to be more a matter of nature than nurture. Which means if you pick the wrong type of work, you're going to be unhappy. If you're naturally independent-minded, you're going to find it frustrating to be a middle manager. And if you're naturally conventional-minded, you're going to be sailing into a headwind if you try to do original research.

One difficulty here, though, is that people are often mistaken about where they fall on the spectrum from conventional- to independent-minded. Conventional-minded people don't like to think of themselves as conventional-minded. And in any case, it genuinely feels to them as if they make up their own minds about everything. It's just a coincidence that their beliefs are identical to their peers'. And the independent-minded, meanwhile, are often unaware how different their ideas are from conventional ones, at least till they state them publicly. [1]

By the time they reach adulthood, most people know roughly how smart they are (in the narrow sense of ability to solve pre-set problems), because they're constantly being tested and ranked according to it. But schools generally ignore independent-mindedness, except to the extent they try to suppress it. So we don't get anything like the same kind of feedback about how independent-minded we are.

There may even be a phenomenon like Dunning-Kruger at work, where the most conventional-minded people are confident that they're independent-minded, while the genuinely independent-minded worry they might not be independent-minded enough.


Can you make yourself more independent-minded? I think so. This quality may be largely inborn, but there seem to be ways to magnify it, or at least not to suppress it.

One of the most effective techniques is one practiced unintentionally by most nerds: simply to be less aware what conventional beliefs are. It's hard to be a conformist if you don't know what you're supposed to conform to. Though again, it may be that such people already are independent-minded. A conventional-minded person would probably feel anxious not knowing what other people thought, and make more effort to find out.

It matters a lot who you surround yourself with. If you're surrounded by conventional-minded people, it will constrain which ideas you can express, and that in turn will constrain which ideas you have. But if you surround yourself with independent-minded people, you'll have the opposite experience: hearing other people say surprising things will encourage you to, and to think of more.

Because the independent-minded find it uncomfortable to be surrounded by conventional-minded people, they tend to self-segregate once they have a chance to. The problem with high school is that they haven't yet had a chance to. Plus high school tends to be an inward-looking little world whose inhabitants lack confidence, both of which magnify the forces of conformism. And so high school is often a bad time for the independent-minded. But there is some advantage even here: it teaches you what to avoid. If you later find yourself in a situation that makes you think 'this is like high school,' you know you should get out. [2]

Another place where the independent- and conventional-minded are thrown together is in successful startups. The founders and early employees are almost always independent-minded; otherwise the startup wouldn't be successful. But conventional-minded people greatly outnumber independent-minded ones, so as the company grows, the original spirit of independent-mindedness is inevitably diluted. This causes all kinds of problems besides the obvious one that the company starts to suck. One of the strangest is that the founders find themselves able to speak more freely with founders of other companies than with their own employees. [3]

Fortunately you don't have to spend all your time with independent-minded people. It's enough to have one or two you can talk to regularly. And once you find them, they're usually as eager to talk as you are; they need you too. Although universities no longer have the kind of monopoly they used to have on education, good universities are still an excellent way to meet independent-minded people. Most students will still be conventional-minded, but you'll at least find clumps of independent-minded ones, rather than the near zero you may have found in high school.

It also works to go in the other direction: as well as cultivating a small collection of independent-minded friends, to try to meet as many different types of people as you can. It will decrease the influence of your immediate peers if you have several other groups of peers. Plus if you're part of several different worlds, you can often import ideas from one to another.

But by different types of people, I don't mean demographically different. For this technique to work, they have to think differently. So while it's an excellent idea to go and visit other countries, you can probably find people who think differently right around the corner. When I meet someone who knows a lot about something unusual (which includes practically everyone, if you dig deep enough), I try to learn what they know that other people don't. There are almost always surprises here. It's a good way to make conversation when you meet strangers, but I don't do it to make conversation. I really want to know.

You can expand the source of influences in time as well as space, by reading history. When I read history I do it not just to learn what happened, but to try to get inside the heads of people who lived in the past. How did things look to them? This is hard to do, but worth the effort for the same reason it's worth travelling far to triangulate a point.

You can also take more explicit measures to prevent yourself from automatically adopting conventional opinions. The most general is to cultivate an attitude of skepticism. When you hear someone say something, stop and ask yourself 'Is that true?' Don't say it out loud. I'm not suggesting that you impose on everyone who talks to you the burden of proving what they say, but rather that you take upon yourself the burden of evaluating what they say.

Treat it as a puzzle. You know that some accepted ideas will later turn out to be wrong. See if you can guess which. The end goal is not to find flaws in the things you're told, but to find the new ideas that had been concealed by the broken ones. So this game should be an exciting quest for novelty, not a boring protocol for intellectual hygiene. And you'll be surprised, when you start asking 'Is this true?', how often the answer is not an immediate yes. If you have any imagination, you're more likely to have too many leads to follow than too few.

More generally your goal should be not to let anything into your head unexamined, and things don't always enter your head in the form of statements. Some of the most powerful influences are implicit. How do you even notice these? By standing back and watching how other people get their ideas.

When you stand back at a sufficient distance, you can see ideas spreading through groups of people like waves. The most obvious are in fashion: you notice a few people wearing a certain kind of shirt, and then more and more, until half the people around you are wearing the same shirt. You may not care much what you wear, but there are intellectual fashions too, and you definitely don't want to participate in those. Not just because you want sovereignty over your own thoughts, but because unfashionable ideas are disproportionately likely to lead somewhere interesting. The best place to find undiscovered ideas is where no one else is looking. [4]


To go beyond this general advice, we need to look at the internal structure of independent-mindedness — at the individual muscles we need to exercise, as it were. It seems to me that it has three components: fastidiousness about truth, resistance to being told what to think, and curiosity.

Fastidiousness about truth means more than just not believing things that are false. It means being careful about degree of belief. For most people, degree of belief rushes unexamined toward the extremes: the unlikely becomes impossible, and the probable becomes certain. [5] To the independent-minded, this seems unpardonably sloppy. They're willing to have anything in their heads, from highly speculative hypotheses to (apparent) tautologies, but on subjects they care about, everything has to be labelled with a carefully considered degree of belief. [6]

The independent-minded thus have a horror of ideologies, which require one to accept a whole collection of beliefs at once, and to treat them as articles of faith. To an independent-minded person that would seem revolting, just as it would seem to someone fastidious about food to take a bite of a submarine sandwich filled with a large variety of ingredients of indeterminate age and provenance.

Without this fastidiousness about truth, you can't be truly independent-minded. It's not enough just to have resistance to being told what to think. Those kind of people reject conventional ideas only to replace them with the most random conspiracy theories. And since these conspiracy theories have often been manufactured to capture them, they end up being less independent-minded than ordinary people, because they're subject to a much more exacting master than mere convention. [7]

Can you increase your fastidiousness about truth? I would think so. In my experience, merely thinking about something you're fastidious about causes that fastidiousness to grow. If so, this is one of those rare virtues we can have more of merely by wanting it. And if it's like other forms of fastidiousness, it should also be possible to encourage in children. I certainly got a strong dose of it from my father. [8]

The second component of independent-mindedness, resistance to being told what to think, is the most visible of the three. But even this is often misunderstood. The big mistake people make about it is to think of it as a merely negative quality. The language we use reinforces that idea. You're unconventional. You don't care what other people think. But it's not just a kind of immunity. In the most independent-minded people, the desire not to be told what to think is a positive force. It's not mere skepticism, but an active delight in ideas that subvert the conventional wisdom, the more counterintuitive the better.

Some of the most novel ideas seemed at the time almost like practical jokes. Think how often your reaction to a novel idea is to laugh. I don't think it's because novel ideas are funny per se, but because novelty and humor share a certain kind of surprisingness. But while not identical, the two are close enough that there is a definite correlation between having a sense of humor and being independent-minded — just as there is between being humorless and being conventional-minded. [9]

I don't think we can significantly increase our resistance to being told what to think. It seems the most innate of the three components of independent-mindedness; people who have this quality as adults usually showed all too visible signs of it as children. But if we can't increase our resistance to being told what to think, we can at least shore it up, by surrounding ourselves with other independent-minded people.

The third component of independent-mindedness, curiosity, may be the most interesting. To the extent that we can give a brief answer to the question of where novel ideas come from, it's curiosity. That's what people are usually feeling before having them.

In my experience, independent-mindedness and curiosity predict one another perfectly. Everyone I know who's independent-minded is deeply curious, and everyone I know who's conventional-minded isn't. Except, curiously, children. All small children are curious. Perhaps the reason is that even the conventional-minded have to be curious in the beginning, in order to learn what the conventions are. Whereas the independent-minded are the gluttons of curiosity, who keep eating even after they're full. [10]

The three components of independent-mindedness work in concert: fastidiousness about truth and resistance to being told what to think leave space in your brain, and curiosity finds new ideas to fill it.

Interestingly, the three components can substitute for one another in much the same way muscles can. If you're sufficiently fastidious about truth, you don't need to be as resistant to being told what to think, because fastidiousness alone will create sufficient gaps in your knowledge. And either one can compensate for curiosity, because if you create enough space in your brain, your discomfort at the resulting vacuum will add force to your curiosity. Or curiosity can compensate for them: if you're sufficiently curious, you don't need to clear space in your brain, because the new ideas you discover will push out the conventional ones you acquired by default.

Because the components of independent-mindedness are so interchangeable, you can have them to varying degrees and still get the same result. So there is not just a single model of independent-mindedness. Some independent-minded people are openly subversive, and others are quietly curious. They all know the secret handshake though.

Is there a way to cultivate curiosity? To start with, you want to avoid situations that suppress it. How much does the work you're currently doing engage your curiosity? If the answer is 'not much,' maybe you should change something.

The most important active step you can take to cultivate your curiosity is probably to seek out the topics that engage it. Few adults are equally curious about everything, and it doesn't seem as if you can choose which topics interest you. So it's up to you to find them. Or invent them, if necessary.

Another way to increase your curiosity is to indulge it, by investigating things you're interested in. Curiosity is unlike most other appetites in this respect: indulging it tends to increase rather than to sate it. Questions lead to more questions.

Curiosity seems to be more individual than fastidiousness about truth or resistance to being told what to think. To the degree people have the latter two, they're usually pretty general, whereas different people can be curious about very different things. So perhaps curiosity is the compass here. Perhaps, if your goal is to discover novel ideas, your motto should not be 'do what you love' so much as 'do what you're curious about.'


[1] One convenient consequence of the fact that no one identifies as conventional-minded is that you can say what you like about conventional-minded people without getting in too much trouble. When I wrote 'The Four Quadrants of Conformism' I expected a firestorm of rage from the aggressively conventional-minded, but in fact it was quite muted. They sensed that there was something about the essay that they disliked intensely, but they had a hard time finding a specific passage to pin it on.

[2] When I ask myself what in my life is like high school, the answer is Twitter. It's not just full of conventional-minded people, as anything its size will inevitably be, but subject to violent storms of conventional-mindedness that remind me of descriptions of Jupiter. But while it probably is a net loss to spend time there, it has at least made me think more about the distinction between independent- and conventional-mindedness, which I probably wouldn't have done otherwise.

[3] The decrease in independent-mindedness in growing startups is still an open problem, but there may be solutions.

Founders can delay the problem by making a conscious effort only to hire independent-minded people. Which of course also has the ancillary benefit that they have better ideas.

Another possible solution is to create policies that somehow disrupt the force of conformism, much as control rods slow chain reactions, so that the conventional-minded aren't as dangerous. The physical separation of Lockheed's Skunk Works may have had this as a side benefit. Recent examples suggest employee forums like Slack may not be an unmitigated good.

The most radical solution would be to grow revenues without growing the company. You think hiring that junior PR person will be cheap, compared to a programmer, but what will be the effect on the average level of independent-mindedness in your company? (The growth in staff relative to faculty seems to have had a similar effect on universities.) Perhaps the rule about outsourcing work that's not your 'core competency' should be augmented by one about outsourcing work done by people who'd ruin your culture as employees.

Some investment firms already seem to be able to grow revenues without growing the number of employees. Automation plus the ever increasing articulation of the 'tech stack' suggest this may one day be possible for product companies.

[4] There are intellectual fashions in every field, but their influence varies. One of the reasons politics, for example, tends to be boring is that it's so extremely subject to them. The threshold for having opinions about politics is much lower than the one for having opinions about set theory. So while there are some ideas in politics, in practice they tend to be swamped by waves of intellectual fashion.

[5] The conventional-minded are often fooled by the strength of their opinions into believing that they're independent-minded. But strong convictions are not a sign of independent-mindedness. Rather the opposite.

[6] Fastidiousness about truth doesn't imply that an independent-minded person won't be dishonest, but that he won't be deluded. It's sort of like the definition of a gentleman as someone who is never unintentionally rude.

[7] You see this especially among political extremists. They think themselves nonconformists, but actually they're niche conformists. Their opinions may be different from the average person's, but they are often more influenced by their peers' opinions than the average person's are.

[8] If we broaden the concept of fastidiousness about truth so that it excludes pandering, bogusness, and pomposity as well as falsehood in the strict sense, our model of independent-mindedness can expand further into the arts.

[9] This correlation is far from perfect, though. Gödel and Dirac don't seem to have been very strong in the humor department. But someone who is both 'neurotypical' and humorless is very likely to be conventional-minded.

[10] Exception: gossip. Almost everyone is curious about gossip.

Thanks to Trevor Blackwell, Paul Buchheit, Patrick Collison, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, Harj Taggar, and Peter Thiel for reading drafts of this.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

johnnujler(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Why would you want to talk about how each individual is multi-faceted, complex, and full of contradictory beliefs when you can conveniently categorize them into conventional and independent? Ah, I know the answer: because hackers come in only one flavor: independent; and everyone else who doesn't fit the description is a conventional thinker.

The level of (apparent) profundity(?) in these essays and the amount of people in SV that revere his words just boggles my mind. Maybe I am a conventional thinker :/.

mewpmewp2(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

He specifically said it is a spectrum, not a category and of course you can be more of an independent thinker in certain categories and more conventional in others.

zug_zug(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

I think if he weren't famous, PG's essays wouldn't get much reverence. But as an icon for he's a great figure. He uses his social status points to offer messages of optimism, self-improvement, hope for rebels that is socially important and feels good.

The fact that we tear him down so much is testament to the regard we hold him in. I'm sure all of us who poke at his logic could just as easily shred the Pope, the Dalai Lama, the president...

carlisle_(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

Paul Graham is in desperate need of people in his life that tell him 'no'.

ceilingcorner(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

> categorize them into conventional and independent?

Replace conventional and independent with another word pairing and have you have 95% of most modern writing.

interactivecode(10000) 1 day ago [-]

While I agree holding your own views and opinions help with doing something novel and different. I do feel like articles like this are mostly used to cover up and excuse hostility, bad work environments and Jobs esque management styles.

You can have groundbreaking ideas without 'disrupting' every single part of your work life. Assuming large groups of people can't think for themselves is both short sighted and insulting. Not everyone is in the position to push their views on their environment without repercussions.

I'm pretty sure a janitor or administrator can think for themselves really well. It's their bosses that limit their subordinates, not the employees limiting themselves.

username90(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> Assuming large groups of people can't think for themselves is both short sighted and insulting.

But it is mostly true, at least in management positions. Independent-minded people by definition question authority so they are mostly relegated to low status positions. If you don't question authority then you aren't independent-minded. And no, questioning some authority figure just because some other authority figure told you to doesn't count.

hemantv(10000) 1 day ago [-]

If you care to think for yourself enough you will try to get out of situations where you can't think for yourself.

ramraj07(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Can you give examples of groundbreaking ideas that formed out of committees of people working 'without disruption'?

blablabla123(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> I do feel like articles like this are mostly used to cover up and excuse hostility, bad work environments and Jobs esque management styles.

I don't think so but I definitely dislike the mentioned points as well and probably this should be more unambiguous. At the same time, hostile and toxic work environments tend to encourage aggression towards regular employees with different opinions. Therefore I find the article quite encouraging.

postingpals(10000) 1 day ago [-]

In many ways this is just an extension of his 4 quadrants of conformism essay, so I'll argue with it using ideas from that essay. I would argue that people vastly over estimate their degree of independent mindedness because although it's easy to be independent minded in one field, especially if it's one you have been studying for a while, it's incredibly easy to fall victim to common sheep-like mentalities about any other topic you're not an expert in. Just ask non-economists what they think of the economy, all of their answers, if not outright incorrect, will be canned answers stolen directly from whatever media outlet they use.

This is important to note because literally everyone does it. I don't actually know of a single person that has not done this, and I personally have done it so many times I question my degree of independence and free will all the time. So what can we say about this? Is no one independent minded then?

tingol(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Not very popular nowadays, but saying 'I don't know' or 'I am not informed enough' is always an option. You make it out as if you have to have a perfectly individual and informed opinion on everything there is which is pretty much impossible.

x87678r(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Some of my biggest regrets are doing what I thought was best when I should have done what everyone else was doing. This ranges from from not buying an overpriced house 20 years ago, to not partying at college, to following some interesting but unpopular technology. Its not all bad doing things your own way but you have to be careful about straying too much.

MetalGuru(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

What made you think those decisions were best at the time? Maybe the issue isn't that you went against the grain, but rather that what you thought was best wasn't thought through enough?

WhompingWindows(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

You regret not partying at college? My biggest regret from college is binge drinking and staying up too late to basically faff around chasing frivolous pleasure. If I had drank half as much and partied half as much, I'd have gotten much more accomplished.

ryan-duve(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

When I catch myself with thoughts like these I remind myself of the lesson from https://xkcd.com/584/

One thing that helps is keeping in touch with friends that made such decisions and hearing their regrets today.

mmkos(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

This hit so close to home that I had to comment. I can completely relate. I tried to be different and chose a path that ended up wasting 3 years of my life with nothing to show for it (PhD, ended up dropping out). Then I joined a big company to work on a product with massive (legacy) codebase, where I ended up learning relatively little w.r.t end-to-end project development.

I feel as if I'd have been miles ahead if I had just done what most of my uni colleagues did instead of trying to somehow skip a step or two.

whateveracct(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

> I wish in the past I had tried more things 'cause now I know that being in trouble is a fake idea


Kranar(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Fair enough but I did all the things you regret and I am very very happy I did them. Bought a house in 2009 when everyone said it was stupid because of the great recession, avoided partying, drinking or doing any kind of drugs, or 'having fun' all throughout high school and university, and instead of using all the newest and greatest popular technologies I made my own libraries.

That house is now worth 3 times more today than when I bought it, almost all popular technologies from 10 years ago are dead and unmaintained today whereas the technology I made for myself forms the basis of my software company, and frankly I don't know many people in their 30s who still continue to maintain the same kind of friendship with their party buddies.

All this to say that it's irrelevant whether you do things everyone else does or do things no one else does. It's just a very poor way of reasoning about anything in life.

alde(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

I am sure that if you took the other path you would likely regret it just the same. Grass is always greener on the other side.

Animats(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

I know that feeling. It's led me down some dead ends. Proof of correctness, 30 years too early. Ragdoll physics by spring-damper methods, 20 years too early. Mobile robotics, which never took off. Legged robot locomotion, which only works if you can lose a lot of money on it.

I once thought Gopher was the future, that spread-spectrum would beat TDMA, that video over the Internet was too inefficient to be useful, and that web design, like book design, would stabilize and become routine.

mettamage(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

IMO trade-offs in a lot of cases. There is rarely a decision that's better, except when you've lived through it once, but that doesn't count, as none of us have do-overs.

golemiprague(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Life is a mixed bag of good and bad decisions, it has nothing to do with going against or with the grain. Your alternative story could be that you partied too much in college, not finishing it, buying a house beyond your means and going bankrupt and then succeeding with some obscure technology that suddenly became fashionable and important.

Yajirobe(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

whats wrong with not partying in college?

powersnail(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

I have the opposite regrets.

I have a very persuadable personality, and despite my anxiety in social interactions, I was often pushed into things that everyone was doing, but I wasn't enjoying doing. So much time was spent playing games I don't like, doing sports that weren't my strength.

When I reflect on my younger years, I'd probably had been less sullen and depressed if I allowed myself to stay in my apartments, studying, making music, and just not concerning so much about people's invitations. I should've just taken the damn violin classes instead of going to tennis courts; or written my damn novel, instead of going to the party watching people drink alcohol and blow on ping-pong balls.

For those who enjoy parties, they were fond memories. For me, they only exacerbated my loneliness.

There are two realizations that came to me too late: 1). I don't need to appease to every interests of my immediate circle to maintain friendships; it's in fact somewhat counter-productive. 2). however niche a hobby is, there are probably enough people also doing it to give me enough society, especially in the age of internet.

By first asserting to myself my actual passions, and seeking friends based on that, I actually get a broader circle of friends in a more organic way.

leto_ii(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It seems to me that throughout the essay Paul Graham keeps undermining his own claims. Early on he states:

> Independent-mindedness seems to be more a matter of nature than nurture.

Subsequently he starts giving advice about how to make yourself more independently-minded:

> Can you make yourself more independent-minded? I think so. This quality may be largely inborn, but there seem to be ways to magnify it, or at least not to suppress it.

> But if you surround yourself with independent-minded people, you'll have the opposite experience: hearing other people say surprising things will encourage you to, and to think of more.

> You can also take more explicit measures to prevent yourself from automatically adopting conventional opinions. The most general is to cultivate an attitude of skepticism.


Only to come back to claims about the strength of certain natural tendencies:

> I don't think we can significantly increase our resistance to being told what to think. It seems the most innate of the three components of independent-mindedness; people who have this quality as adults usually showed all too visible signs of it as children.

> Everyone I know who's independent-minded is deeply curious, and everyone I know who's conventional-minded isn't. Except, curiously, children. All small children are curious. Perhaps the reason is that even the conventional-minded have to be curious in the beginning, in order to learn what the conventions are.

I guess the overall takeaway would be that intellectual independence is primarily innate, but can be cultivated with targeted effort.

Personally I find this view unconvincing, or at least not well specified. I suspect early care and environment play a much larger role than biology in developing one's intellectual attitudes, as well as personality.

To the extent to which there are genuinely biological factors involved, I would have been really curious to see more concrete evidence of what those factors might be.

Nevertheless, the article is sprinkled with nuggets of useful advice or insight, such as the following:

> If you later find yourself in a situation that makes you think 'this is like high school,' you know you should get out.

> try to meet as many different types of people as you can. It will decrease the influence of your immediate peers if you have several other groups of peers. Plus if you're part of several different worlds, you can often import ideas from one to another.

> You can expand the source of influences in time as well as space, by reading history.

> When you hear someone say something, stop and ask yourself 'Is that true?'

> unfashionable ideas are disproportionately likely to lead somewhere interesting. The best place to find undiscovered ideas is where no one else is looking.

bildung(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Yes, he just paraphrased the agreeableness trait of the OCEAN/Big Five personality model here. His nature/nurture musing are off the mark, though: Of the five traits agreeableness has the lowest heritability with about 42%.

The curiosity part he mixed in would be opennes to experience, with about 57% heritability.

bluGill(10000) 1 day ago [-]

If you have an idea and nobody else is doing it, odds are not that you had a good idea; instead it is probably a bad idea that many others have had and failed at.

When you have a seemingly original idea figure out who else had it and ask why they failed. That will give you insight into what you need to do better. Sometimes you will realize that it was a bad idea, other times you will know what to change to make it work.

inglor_cz(10000) 1 day ago [-]

There is a big space of ideas of indeterminate value in between the 'good' and 'bad' poles.

Was creating Uber a good idea? The company has grown a lot, but AFAIK is still not profitable; the jury is out on this one.

In some cases, the answer is to try.

a11yguy(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

If you want to fit in and get along with most people, it's best not to think for yourself.

Aqua(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

that's what conventional-thinking people do. independent-thinking people don't want to fit in, they instead gather followers (other conventional-thining) to follow them

meheleventyone(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It feels like independent mindedness and conventional mindedness is a false dichotomy and that most people are somewhere between each depending on the subject and context.

Moreover if you subscribe to the dichotomy you're probably doing a poor job of creating an environment that encourages people to be independent minded.

At the organizational level it feels completely normal that it will become more conventional within it's own bubble as it grows. Companies are mostly trying to move in one direction and having lots of independent people off doing their own thing runs counter to that. Other similar structures follow this pattern as well. Part of it is cultural norms developing but part of it is recognizing that a company is very much exerting pressure on the people that work within it. Which is probably why founders find it easier to talk to other founders as they both have the luxury of the freedom to think independently within this context as they are steering the company itself.

You see this with attempts at internal startups or R&D teams where independence is encouraged but it's impossible or hard to spin anything out of them because you end up bumping back into the company pressures trying to do so. You're basically asked to 'go do something amazing' ... 'but not like that!'

Personally I love small companies primarily for the autonomy it provides and as a designer really value applying myself to different problems. So I get the joy of independence but I think I'm fairly conventional on other topics.

hnracer(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It's a spectrum and I'm not sure that Paul would dispute that, he might define the bottom 60 percent of the spectrum as 'conventional-minded' and the top five percent as 'independent-minded', especially if we think this trait increases superlinearly as we move up the quantile distribution. This dichotomization lowers the resolution but can work practically

andi999(10000) 1 day ago [-]

This reminds me, a long time ago I saw a couple of videos of Steve Jobs at a retreat for Next Computers (in the early phase of the company); now can only find an edited version. I was surprised to see how market analysis his argumentation was driven; while they created something great, he didnt sound independent minded but more like subject to his customers.

typon(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I find reading this article a very uncomfortable experience. It's just assertion after assertion without evidence to back them up. Do people believe this guy because he's rich?

heracles(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

How do you know people believe him?

I can tell you why I love his essays: because of the way he argues. It is very transparent. I seldomly agree with his conclusion(s), but since he is so honest (he is not trying to deceive) in listing his arguments it is just a matter for me to find where he is wrong... or where I am wrong. I find this style so uncommon and stimulating that I hardly can stand the regular 'opinion' held by most people. At least it is hard to be intrigued by arguments that doesn't even try to be precise.

When PG writes something I pay attention to the words, because I know they were chosen with some care. If I can force open a crack in his arguments I get wiser, and if I don't... the same thing happens.

I wish more people wrote like him, but preferably less about startups. They don't interest me as much as attempts at honest discourse.

mcguire(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Because he's rich, and this is his forum.

crumbshot(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

Definitely part of it, along with the cult following he's managed to gather here.

Quite ironic to see the high priest of HN commanding his devotees on how to think for themselves.

cma(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

He has done original thinking that helped the world big in non-business ways:


That said, the way the article dehumanizes a group of people feels like listening to the radio in Rwanda in 1994.

lovelyviking(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

What if I'll tell that I didn't even know who is the guy before reading it? The sensation is like someone is speaking directly to you the thoughts you share already about the issues you struggled with for some time now to reach very similar conclusions. It is also a sensation of relieve, because you feel you are not alone thinking similar way.

I literally had to google, who is this guy afterwards...

ceilingcorner(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

Do people believe this guy because he's rich?

Just wait until you find out who's president.

hnracer(10000) 1 day ago [-]

He hit the nail on the head but I think the framing of the investor's objective is not complete. The search for alpha is usually not about finding ideas that everyone thinks is bad but are actually good, although that does sometimes happen. Instead it's about finding totally undiscovered perspectives that lead to new insights into the market structure, market data or underlying market mechanisms that nobody considered before. There's large numbers of Easter Eggs that need to be unlocked. It's secret knoweledge, an unknown unknown.

The world of start-ups is a little different. It's more rare to have a totally novel idea that nobody has thought of. In that space I think his framing is spot on.

Regardless, there's enough similarities that I think it's fair to group them together.

superhuzza(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Same with his comments about science. It isn't necessary for everyone else to be wrong - you're often just adding more detail to the picture. PG paints it as some kind of zero-sum when it really isn't.

pontus(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

I really appreciate the message in this article. I think another way to partition the world is into zero-sum and non-zero sum situations. In non-zero sum situations it's more important to be correct than novel, but in zero-sum situations it's important to be both correct and novel.

One example I like to think about is the following: imagine having two boxes (A and B), one on each side of a football field. Exactly one of the two boxes contains a million dollars: box A contains the prize with 99% probability and box B contains the prize with 1% probability.

Suppose you're standing at the center of the field together with n other people and are told to race to get the million dollars (first person who finds it wins). You have to decide whether to run for box A or box B since they're in opposite directions. If n = 0, it's clearly in your best interest to go for box A, but as n grows, the probability of you getting to box A first drops since you're competing with other people, meaning that at some point you ought to actually go for box B.

This is a toy example of where it's not sufficient to be right, but it's also important to be novel. If each person was awarded its contents (rather than just the first person to get there), there'd be no rush and you ought to go for box A. In other words: in zero-sum situations you need to be both right and novel, but in non-zero sum situations it's sufficient to just be right.

I think the example of academia in the article is not quite right for two reasons. As pointed out elsewhere, the incentives in academia are actually quite twisted which means that there's actually more incentive to just be verbose than to be novel, but additionally I don't think it's really zero-sum. It's true that if you're working in a crowded space, it starts approaching zero-sum and then becomes a game of novelty. However, if you're not in a crowded space (e.g. interdisciplinary stuff) you can actually be quite successful by discovering rather mundane things (you might say that this is just being novel on a different axis, which I think is reasonably accurate, but the point made in the article was that the discoveries have to be surprising).

mcguire(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

You regard innovation as a zero sum game?

(Paul specifically says that to be successful, a founder has to be right and everyone else wrong.)

gtsop(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

Accept the duality of your human nature. You think as a collective and as an individual at the same time.

It's a matter of budget. When you do things that don't matter too much to you, you are damn happy to think exactly like the next guy, reusing the existing knowledge as is without a second thought.

For instance: how do you boil an egg? For all I care, I leave it in boiled water for 10 minutes. I am more than happy to never challenge this conventional wisdom because I'm spending all my time trying to think out of the box while searching for a new sorting algorithm.

Now put a chef in my place. They could have their own specialized/unconventional boiling technique while saying all sorting can be done with bubble sort.

Always restrict your conclusions within the appropriate context. For every person different things matter, you can't think for yourself for every piece of knowledge. There isn't enough time. If people didn't copy and follow along (while inovating in their special domain) we would still live in the stone age

anonymouse008(10000) about 14 hours ago [-]

It takes extreme discipline to know what you should question vs. what you shouldn't. There's a line from some famous SVite that agrees with your sentiment - something about picking the right horses and more about focusing on the right things.

A lot of this 'how to boil a perfect egg' competition comes not from the love of the pursuit (personally I have a much better day with a soft yolk), but because of the 'prestige games' we play with each other to prove we are not inadequate.

It's a joy to learn from someone who truly wants to share, not position. To them they've discovered this wonderful way to do X that maybe you'll love too — but to hear advice from folks that wish you worship them in return for their advice, is almost a negative sum game.

These articles walk a fine line, and many times it takes a live discussion for the intent to be measured.

thomastjeffery(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I like this point. Instead of 'question everything', 'question that which you are interested in'.

After all, asking - let alone answering - every question would simply take too much time.

jonfromsf(10000) about 13 hours ago [-]

Boil it for 8 min 30 seconds. Cool it in cold water for 60 seconds right after.

tambourine_man(10000) about 14 hours ago [-]

I glanced over this entire day thread but didn't find this questioning so here it goes:

Does no one else find that a "how to think for yourself" article is something of a paradox?

I mean, if you do follow through whatever directions are pointed out, you already failed.

tclancy(10000) about 14 hours ago [-]

You make a compelling point. Tell me more.

commentrix(10000) about 2 hours ago [-]

What's interesting is all the sheep coming to say, 'Hey, actually I'm an individual!' even tho 1000-ands of times they've shat on individuals and celebrated the collective, even the collective lynching of individuals that were too 'divergent' for their fickle and arbitrary collective tastes.

Now, when an 'authority' a 'leader of a pack' shows up and says 'Individual think good', the sheep bleat ever louder, 'me good', 'no cull'.

So ridiculous. You're all (mostly) sheep. Sheep in your condemnation of this celebration of individuality, sheep in the illogic of it, given that you've merrily discarded and excluded individuality for the thrill of 'collective righteousness', now, in collective unison you've come to proclaim, either or any of:

- I am individual, I peace

- I am sheep-dividual hybrid but that smart, I peace

- PG is wrong on principle, therefore sheep good, I peace

You are all (commenters against, here) the first morons to leap at passing criticism on anything divergent from your groupthink, embracing this culture of 'criticism' as a sacred ritual, but when passed against you, it is the end of the world.

This must evoke the deep unresolved insecurity at the sheep: they know they surrendered that tiny individual voice inside, and they know, on some level, that's wrong, but they need to cover that up with everything they've got, to justify and feed their sense of safety in the comfort of the herd.

Good luck to you, sheep all!

Keep telling yourself, inside, individual good, bad me give it up, and outside, individual bad, good me sheep member. I think you all should accept your duality and just get on with it, and not feel threatened by seeing the realization in other individuals of a mirror (to you) of your own unrealized individuality. Or just accept your whole sheepness, if that's what you are. Accept this paradox and just fully give up your baggage about not being individual 'enough', and embrace the collective. Then you will not be so threatened and insecure when someone talks of individuality, you will know, the superiority, of the hoard! 'Your individuality shall be merged into our own.'

I don't care that y'all sheep. I want you to be sheep. Get out of my way. Stay outta my way. Get away from me. You're disgusting with your crazy illogical groupthink. You'll never understand the free thinkers, so don't try to impose just stay away. I want you to be secure in your collectivism. Because then you won't be so prone to attack the individuals that cross your paths. Be secure. Be confident. I don't care that it seems wrong or illogical to me. There's value in the collective. IF YOU ARE SHEEP, FUCKING EMBRACE IT. Yes, sheep are cowards, but there's literally gathousands of you, so just fucking EMBRACE IT. Surrender to your sheepness, and find, please, your own version of transcendent bliss, so we can all of us get back to being ourselves without interfering in others through triggered projected insecurities sparked from difference. Just be your fucking sheepself, and enjoy it.

You see me outside the herd? Just ignore. Go back to eating grass, and get full belly and feel good. OK?

kowlo(10000) about 1 hour ago [-]

Whilst I'm not convinced that this incoherent rambling is directly human-generated, I am a little intrigued. What is the point that you're trying to get across? Do you think you could sum it up in a sentence?

gorbachev(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

I find Ray Dalio's thoughts on this and other related subjects much more compelling than Paul's.

Mr. Dalio has recently, within the past year or two, started sharing his thoughts publicly in an organized way at https://www.principles.com/ and on social media.

GeorgeTirebiter(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Why do you find Dalio's musings 'more compelling' ? To me, Ray is just another Capitalist who extols Capitalism. Is there more to it?

DrNuke(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Folks, do not shoot the messenger (aka PG) here: he actually created something novel fifteen years ago, while coalescing brilliant minds around something people needed. He even went on making an institution of that! With the miracle turned institution and now organization, it is human to look back and preach to the good savages of today.

More in depth, this is maybe the difference between the do-it-first American approach and the study-it-first English attitude? Special relationship at play, you know, but the world is multipolar today, so you also have the socially regulated Euro approach and the paternally autocratic Chinese approach to reconcile. All these, even without taking rogue approaches into consideration.

Maybe the ultimate dream of PG these days is being acknowledged as the headmaster of outsiders, connecting curiosity with prototyping for the markets, in that by-passing the canonical school curricula by virtue of intuition by necessity and fast implementation?

meheleventyone(10000) 1 day ago [-]

A headmaster for outsiders or a thought leader for independent thinkers if you will?

PIKAL(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

I knew from as far back as I can remember that I was totally different from most people. I always thought that most people were the same. I grew up stricken with independent mindedness. If you are smart enough to blend in despite having a completely different way of thinking then it would be ok but I am the kind of person who cannot hide what's inside. It ruined my life. Most people live a life of luxury simply by the virtue of their brain. Even poor people have the ability to enjoy human connection with other people. That is luxury to me. Most people don't even understand that something so fundamental can be absent, they don't even know it exists as it's own thing. Most people completely miss all the details. This essay really speaks to me.

In 2010 when I would try to explain what was going on with Tesla and who Elon musk was, literally nobody believed me, took me seriously or demonstrated any ability at all to think for themselves and come to the correct conclusion through the special combination of single minded intuition and logical deduction that is described in the essay. I noticed that people always reacted the same way, no matter where they came from, mentioning something about golf carts. There was an emotional component where when I would get close to making a breakthrough, an emotional wall would go up. This emotional wall was the same in everyone and it was a very strong pattern. Having an emotional disconnection with yourself is important to being able to believe things that are upsetting or having your world view tossed. It's not a choice to be disconnected and for me it's a medical thing.

Because of my insights about Tesla and other things related to my special way of thinking, I am retired. And I still say it isn't worth it and I would give it all up to enjoy the amazing luxury of being a normal person.

kerpilo(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I identify with both your sentiment and what PG wrote.

Going through life with this feeling of disconnection is very consuming, and can have severe consequences personally and professionally.

Time is especially unkind for independent thinkers who do not achieve what others consider success, fast enough. Being unconventional and 'creative' while young is something passable and understandable... maybe even fashionable depending on where you live. But being of the same mindset and past your thirties is not generally acceptable, unless you have show a measure of financial/professional success.

I would love to see PG write about this, if he has experience observing or living through these sentiments.

lonesword(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Did anyone find the article too long? Don't get me wrong - the first few paragraphs were engaging and thought-provoking. The rest of the article looked as if it could be condensed to two paragraphs.

This is not a criticism - I'm just curious to know if I was bored because I have a short attention span, or if the amount of novel/useful content in the article plummeted sharply beyond the first few paragraphs.

ojnabieoot(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Like many of PG's essays about psychology or society, the problem is that this essay is basically an aphorism or a self-help book: there's no logic here, no citations, no connection to facts. It's just a bunch of feel-good BS for libertarian-minded tech workers. I get the impression that the length is (at least unconsciously) making up for the absence of rigor.

A few paragraphs of "stuff that has no real argument but basically sounds right to PG" is a fine short essay as a "maninfesto of independent thought".

But when the essay is full of detailed "analysis" of "facts" such as "it seems that independent thought is a matter of nature rather than nurture," then PG is just wasting his readers' time. This essay is a genuine clunker.

inglor_cz(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Yes, I did.

While I generally like PG's essays, I wished this one was about half its actual size. As if PG resigned on brevity this time.

moralsupply(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

To get negative votes in Hacker News:

* Post something that is factual, but the crowd doesn't like

* Post something that is logical, but the crowd doesn't like

* Post a link to something reasonable, but that the crowd doesn't like

Just to say that Hacker News is a highly biased community. There's very little space here to discuss anything that is not 'conventional' beyond some bits of technology.

When a topic touches life in general it becomes a place for political narratives associated with the establishment (meaning: left leaning), which is probably explainable due to the fact most people here work in big tech companies that have strong government ties.

nickpp(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

Not only negative votes, but flagging as well. The flagging mechanism is commonly used on HN to completely disappear dissenting opinions.

porpoise(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I think it's still possible to go against conventional narrative on HN and get upvoted, but one needs to word one's comments with an extraordinary amount of extra care, completely stripped of sarcasm or confrontational tone, remaining objective even when under personal attack - in short, one is held to a much higher standard (in terms of quality and substance of comments) than those posting conventional opinion.

tim333(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

Surely negative votes if the crowd doesn't like will pretty much happen by definition any place people can down vote?

Balgair(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

The late Christopher Hitchens was a drink sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay, of course. But one we needed.

His 'Letters to a Young Contrarian'(2001), though filled with himself[0], remains a heartfelt read for anyone going about the world in their own way. If you can get a used copy, preferably filled with marginalia, treasure it, add your own thoughts, and pass it along. The always unique comments railing against Hitch will be worth the effort. More so when all agree.

Paul may wish to pick up a copy, though I suspect he just needs to re-read the one on his shelf.


[0] therefore with frustration, liquor, cigarette ash, fragility, and sheer brilliance

Thorentis(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

A fantastic debate between Christopher and his brother Peter in which Christopher defended the Iraq war showed me just how much of an 'independent thinker' Christopher really was (i.e. Not as much as you'd think). Being a militant atheist is hardly enough to be considered independent or contrarian in today's world.

bambax(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It is surely a mere coincidence that every time PG makes up some category of elite people he finds himself right in the middle of it.

emiliobumachar(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Nope. Counterproof:


'When you write something telling people to be good, you seem to be claiming to be good yourself. So I want to say explicitly that I am not a particularly good person. When I was a kid I was firmly in the camp of bad.'

Having read and forgotten most of his essays over years, I could recall this in a minute. So probably there's more.

burade(10000) 1 day ago [-]

when people achieve success too early in life they start thinking they're hot stuff

loxs(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Yeah, and he has the money to prove that he is right.

qPM9l3XJrF(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Would you prefer that successful people keep their ideas about how to be successful to themselves? That doesn't seem very equitable ;o

qznc(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Everyone is the hero in their own story.

Don't know where i got it from. I usually use it as a reminder that even evil people like Hitler consider themselves as the good hero. Maybe in difficult circumstances. I don't want to compare PG to Hitler though.

sbarre(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I mean, the other way to look at it is that he's writing about what he knows, or at least about his own experience/perspective?

Better that than trying to write about something he knows nothing about..

p.s. I'm not defending him here, I'm generally not a fan of pg, but I think there's a less narcissistic possibility here. ;)

__alexs(10000) 1 day ago [-]

'There may even be a phenomenon like Dunning-Kruger at work...'

His lack of self awareness is incredibly impressive. I'm almost envious.

peterlk(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Excellent article

> When you hear someone say something, stop and ask yourself 'Is that true?'

This is one of my favorite things to do, though the list of people who will talk to me again after I do it is very short. (Edit: To be extra clear... While this is a bitter pill - I do not like it when others do it to me - I do find it to be very effective for reinforcing good faith in close, trusting relationships. I also do appreciate when others use this question on me; the temporary frustration/discomfort is worth reminding me to center myself.)

When someone is feeling outraged about something (often politics) simply ask: 'but are they correct?' The answer is almost always: 'I'm not sure' (myself included). When doing this to myself, this is often enough for me to shrug off the outrage and realize that I actually do not care. It really doesn't matter to me what political statements a mayor from a town in another state made.

> In the most independent-minded people, the desire not to be told what to think is a positive force.

This subject implies another that is closely related, and is my biggest complaint about ads. Ads try to tell you what to think, and they are sometimes successful. But more importantly, they tell you what to think _about_, and they are much more successful at this. I like being focused on the problems that I have, and ads try as hard as they can to take that focus away.

darkerside(10000) 1 day ago [-]

While this activity can be useful, I think it is simultaneously at the root of many of our social problems today.

You cannot ask this question about literally everything. Well, you can, but you'll end up questioning things that are universally accepted (Which way is North? Is gasoline flammable?). So naturally you dial it back, and you ask questions only about things that seem wrong, or that you particularly care about.

The corollary is that you are going to decide subjectively (and somewhat arbitrarily) that some things are not worth questioning. And just like that, everybody has made their own independent assumptions about the truth, and we can no longer have discussions about a common set of facts.

The cure is not just questioning facts 'more'. The cure is actually aligning as a society about what we accept as true so that we can converse about the other things. But, that means less independent thinking, paradoxically.

frogpelt(10000) 1 day ago [-]

When it's appropriate to do so, and it's information that can be verified you can say, 'Where did you get your information/Where did you learn that?' which may be slightly less confrontational.

If it's just an opinion, well, you might ask 'how did you arrive at that conclusion?' or you might smile and say, 'Oh, yeah?'

ncfausti(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I love (and identify with) the sentiment of your last paragraph. One of my favorite cities is Sao Paulo. All outdoor advertisements were banned in 2006.


base698(10000) 1 day ago [-]

He mentions in the next sentence: 'I'm not suggesting that you impose on everyone who talks to you the burden of proving what they say'

> When you hear someone say something, stop and ask yourself 'Is that true?' Don't say it out loud. I'm not suggesting that you impose on everyone who talks to you the burden of proving what they say, but rather that you take upon yourself the burden of evaluating what they say.

ceilingcorner(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

Can someone explain the constant reference to nerds in PG's essays? I feel like it's a concept straight out of a 1970s-90s low-budget movie and hasn't been accurate or relevant since...

closeparen(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

There is a pretty clear strain of personality that shows up early in life and is suspiciously correlated with becoming a programmer. It's rare enough that most people don't meet others who share it until they get past K12 and start to aggregate in self-selected universities and workplaces. It's pronounced enough to be obvious to one's peers and often causes some degree of social alienation. In the 1970s-90s the stereotype is that such people were relentlessly bullied as losers. Since the rise of Big Tech the dynamic has shifted a bit from "you're not one of us and we hate you, loser" to "you're not one of us but you're obviously going to be rich some day, so please remember us fondly."

SpicyLemonZest(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

The concept was prevalent in 1970s-90s movies because it's a core part of how people who grew up in those decades (like PG) perceive the world. I suspect that he struggles to see the world without that lens applied, the same way political partisans struggle to look at things without a red vs. blue filter; it's too foundational to who he is and what he believes.

(I don't mean that as an insult, to be clear. I have filters like that too, and I'm sure we all do.)

TrackerFF(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I'm guessing a lot of his readers somewhat identify themselves as nerds?

And sad to say, quite a few of the nerds I know / knew have some raging superiority complexity going on. Same type of people that put down anyone that spent their HS or College years partying / social life / etc., rather than 'perfecting' some worthwhile craft, like software development, writing, or whatever.

Not saying that PG is like that, at all - but those are some of the people that flock to his writing, because PG is a successful person that's constantly validating their own beliefs about themselves.

They are nerds - they made all the right decisions, and are all unique geniuses, while the normies are just stupid sheeple that waste their lives on social media or watching TV.

anonytrary(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Thinking for yourself in Silicon Valley is nigh impossible these days without becoming a disliked outcast. If you even question the legitimacy or viability of a potentially flawed mission or irony in company values, experienced startups will manage you out silently and tactfully. In some of the worst places, you'll also get treated poorly and excluded so that you leave.

Company values really are just words on a wall in pretty much every company. I don't think you will find a single company where the values aren't silently broken by leadership and management. The best companies have ways of hiding this through shallow apologetic acts (e.g. self-washing on social media).

I've seen this happen to plenty of people who found out something they shouldn't have, at companies who would otherwise appear like great places to work.

Razengan(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

> Thinking for yourself in Silicon Valley is nigh impossible these days without becoming a disliked outcast.

Yes. The irony of Paul Graham's fluff (apparently he was one of the founders of HN or something?) about thinking for yourself etc. versus the tendency of HN to downvote any comment that goes against the grain, like the one above. Hah

forgotmypw17(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Mark Twain said, whenever you find yourself siding with the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

I have found this saying to serve me well enough to memorize it.

I think the reason is that by the time an opinion has propagated to the majority, it is already outdated, and several years (sometimes decades) behind the newest available knowledge.

amadeuspagel(10000) 1 day ago [-]

This is a funny line, but the majority is clearly right on most questions, such as the color of the sky, the shape of the earth, etc..

User23(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The opinion of the majority is inevitably whatever their chosen source of media assigns them[1]. This is easily seen in the disparity between subjects where a persuasion campaign is in effect vs the ones where one isn't. In the latter case persons will have a naturally broad distribution of opinions while in the former you will see near unanimity within their persuasion bubble.

Naturally this makes discussing the assigned opinions extremely boring, because it's entirely predictable and worse yet at a 6th grade level at best.

[1] In the USA this means the distribution of opinions among the general population is bimodal.

hnracer(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

This makes logical sense for another reason too.

If you hold a view that very few share, you're more likely to have thought from first principles about why that view should be held. If you hold a view that everyone shares, there's a much higher probability that the view is programmed into you by your social stimuli.

geomark(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

He says '...good universities are still an excellent way to meet independent-minded people.' Is that even true anymore? So many of the ones I considered 'good' have gone over to the whole SJW/microaggressions/safe spaces mentality. Any independent thinkers will have a hard time finding each other at those places. Are there any universities left where you would have your ideas really challenged? That's what I would expect at university.

__float(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

Perhaps "safe spaces" are a lofty goal to allow students to focus on intellectual exploration rather than devoting a lot of mental energy to the slow drip of "microaggressions".

It sounds like you might be in one of the "niche conformists" pg describes.

vasilipupkin(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

"if a lot of other people make the same prediction, the stock price will already reflect it, and there's no room to make money"

This is wrong. You make money when you invest in public stocks as compensation for the risk you take. You don't need to be better than others at predicting to make money. You do if you want to make excess money, money above the level that compensates for risk.

cactus2093(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

I think this is implied because he's talking about people that trade stocks for a living. Leaving money in a an index that tracks the overall market doesn't really count as a full-time trader job.

ChrisMarshallNY(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I dunno. Like everything, we need balance. Brilliance needs to be balanced with patience, persistence and practicality.

Working for a Japanese corporation taught me to really respect the 'three P's.' They didn't have the kind of creativity to invent the next iPhone, but they had what it takes to make it better than everyone else, and in a fairly short time.

Great things are accomplished by great teams, and teams need a lot of variety to work properly. A team composed only of independent thinkers would be a never-ending gladiatorial contest, with the product being the main victim.

What does gall me, is the fairly naked disrespect that many brilliant folks have for the types of implementors that they need in order to realize their dreams. These engineers (and managers) are often treated as 'dime a dozen,' which is far from the truth.

randcraw(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

I agree that pg's model for thinking serves disruptive-based enterprises like small startups much better than consensus-based endeavors like a large corporation, a military, or a football team. Groupthink is an essential skill when cooperation is more important to success than innovation. Propaganda and the delusions that ensue from it are how you build teams.

a4444f(10000) 1 day ago [-]

1. Start by following someone's else advice, about how to think for yourself. That should work. Because why not?

2. In case it did not work out, for whatever reasons, became an autist, in whatever way you can. Not that it is possible, or that you will really understand anybody after the fact, but hey.

3. Still interested? Learn a different (alternative) language (semantics), based on nothing (emptiness) at all. You may start by giving me money, in return, i will give you nothing and not say much or anything. Then you'll achieve something like no.2. (Warning, you may go mad or broke or both). Afterwards, you'll probably start doing things, that you have not been able to think about before, achieving the ultimate goal. Warning: you'll be someone else by then.

4. What is psychoanalysis?

5. If you are reading this, then you are using words and language invented by someone else. Therefore you are not thinking for yourself.

6. Attend transformational festivals, until you will know why are they called that. You may still not think for yourself afterwards, but you may think in a different way.

7. Become an artist.

8. What is art?

glitchc(10000) 1 day ago [-]


seek3r(10000) 1 day ago [-]

2a. Then you not only will start thinking for yourself. You will also start overthinking about why Apple didn't put macOS on the iPad Pro, or why your friends don't care about org-mode.

edw519(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Another place where the independent- and conventional-minded are thrown together is in successful startups. The founders and early employees are almost always independent-minded; otherwise the startup wouldn't be successful. But conventional-minded people greatly outnumber independent-minded ones, so as the company grows, the original spirit of independent-mindedness is inevitably diluted. This causes all kinds of problems besides the obvious one that the company starts to suck

I can think of no better example of this than Hacker News.

Years ago, independent-minded people came together for the liveliest 'out of the box' discussions on the internet.

Eventually those people started to get shouted down until sadly, many of them left.

I wish I knew what to do about that. I imagine people way smarter than me have been struggling with this for some time.

hedberg10(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Make a community hard to use for the conventional-minded.

Dark patterns, but for user selection.

adnzzzzZ(10000) 1 day ago [-]

4chan handles this perfectly, but it comes with a general unpoliteness and freedom that most people don't like. However, those aspects of it are exactly what keeps the community fresh and constantly re-inventing itself, because you need cultural artifacts (memes, ways of interacting, etc) to be generated that oppose whatever the prevailing narrative is, and those are harder to be generated if everyone has to be polite all the time.

So the solution is fairly simple: remove upvotes so the conventionally-minded can't decide on what's being discussed, and don't moderate based on politeness, but on subject. 4chan has lots of moderation, but it's mostly focused around which board the discussion should go in, i.e. if you want to talk politics go to the politics board, don't do it in the video games one or your thread will be deleted. This is obviously a solution that doesn't work for most people, but that's the price you have to pay if you want actual independent-mindedness in a community.

rewtraw(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Subreddits seem to somewhat solve this by spinning off once they hit that level of dilution (low effort content, memes, repeated questions). The 'serious' members will create a new subreddit (i.e. /r/movies > /r/TrueFilm) in order to shake off the casual members and return the discussion to its roots.

It's not perfect, but the subreddit design has definitely given Reddit more longevity since you can rotate your memberships and only join subreddits with higher effort content. Yes, the default subreddits are filled with the same memes every post, but just unsubscribe from those and curate your feed.

Not a solution for HN, however.

fallingfrog(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Okay, but how do you have a lively discussion but also have nobody's ideas getting shouted down? Would a lively discussion involve everyone agreeing with one another?

Edit: people are apparently not getting my central point here: it might be that, if you're a conformist, you see a whole bunch of people nodding and saying roughly the same things and think, "this is a lively discussion!" But then see people disagreeing with you and think, "what happened to this once lively community?"

But, it could also be that we're talking about something else. But the parent post is too vague for me to tell. I sense a more concrete suggestion coming on? Maybe related to the power of downvotes to silence dissent?

Animats(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

The physical separation of Lockheed's Skunk Works may have had this as a side benefit.

That mindset produced the big corporate labs of the 1950s to 1970s - Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, IBM Research, Sarnoff Labs, the Department of Energy labs, the NASA centers, etc. They got impressive results. But in time, they stagnated, working hard on the wrong problems. You have to have a well defined goal to make that work.

Of course, at the other extreme, we have the brogrammers making webcrap. 'Agile' is not likely to lead to independent thinking. It's a system for keeping nose to grindstone.

We're seeing a very strong push towards political conformity, but it's bipolar. On one side, we have groups where saying there are only two genders can get you fired. On the other side, we have groups which think whatever Trump said today is gospel. This is not getting us anywhere useful.

xgk(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

   On one side ...
   On the other side ...
Only one of those sides has children in substantial numbers, so this polarity will sort itself out over longer time scales. As somebody living next to a primary school in a very progressive city I already see this in a big way!
bobsil1(10000) 1 day ago [-]

1. Don't read advice on how to think for yourself

friendlybus(10000) 1 day ago [-]

1a. Read advice on how to think and make up your own mind

nickelcitymario(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Are there only a few paths for independent thinkers?

> Independent-mindedness seems to be more a matter of nature than nurture. Which means if you pick the wrong type of work, you're going to be unhappy. If you're naturally independent-minded, you're going to find it frustrating to be a middle manager. And if you're naturally conventional-minded, you're going to be sailing into a headwind if you try to do original research.

I'm asking this seriously. I'm a fairly unconventional thinker. (I'm not sure that's always or even mostly a good thing.) So I do find it frustrating to be in middle management, as I have been numerous times. It's also usually frustrating to report to middle management. I much prefer to figure out solutions and pursue them independently.

HOWEVER, I've also thus far found nothing but greater frustrations as an organizational leader or solo entrepreneur. (Good thing I'm currently neither.)

What are the options for the independent thinker who doesn't want to follow orders, doesn't care to lead others, but also wants to be a part of a team? Someone who knows they need others with complementary skills? Surely I'm not the only nerd who fits this bill.

Is there a work model for a team of independent thinkers who wish to neither lead nor follow, but simply cooperate? My gut says there is, that it's probably pretty obvious, and I'm just blind to it. Or maybe that they exist, but tend to fail. The only thing that comes to mind is to be a co-founder in the early stages of a startup, but if that succeeds you'll end up in a leadership role pretty quickly. Not everyone gets to be Woz.


erikpukinskis(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

You can have a small independent business. Buy a backhoe and become and excavator. Learn how to build custom cabinets.

You will need to hire people from time to time, but you won't have to work in concert with anyone 40 hours a week.

In software, the best examples I see of that are in video games. Lots of solo developers. Hard to succeed but if you want it enough, the path is clear.

There are solo web developers too. But you need to be able to do sales and support.

You're right startups are out because they grow and you'll find yourself surrounded soon enough.

I guess my advice is treat your jobs like daily networking events, try to find people, especially with complementary skill sets, who you like and who like you. Have a side project, a game or a web dev company or whatever, and wait for a large enough revenue opportunity that you can incorporate and hire one of those people you got along with.

Problem is, the networking at work thing is nearly impossible if you're as independent as you are. I'd recommend counseling. A therapist and/or career coach. Ideally both.

deltron3030(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Maybe a normal job that doesn't exhaust you mentally and then a hobby where you can go all in with being unconventional.

epsilonclose(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

I'm going to ignore 'being an artist' and 'being a writer' and assume you want to work on technical things. I'm also going to ignore academia because that opens a whole new can of worms about what it means to be independent within academia, how to achieve that independence, whether it is worth it, etc. But you should note that I think most people who want to work in the 'independent, technical, research-first' mode would traditionally pursue academia.

Anyway, examples: Colin Percival runs Tarsnap by himself, and it turns a profit.

As another commenter mentioned, there are independent game developers who get to do technically interesting work (e.g. Marc Ten Bosch, who got a SIGGRAPH paper out along the way while making Miegakure, or Jonathan Blow, who is building a programming language [although his team grows and shrinks, so he must be acting in a management capacity, or at least like a film director]).

Sylph Bioscience is a lean team of three that seems to me to be doing very interesting work (and I don't think any of them have 'traditional' educational backgrounds, though I might be wrong).

Matt Keeter works a day job and pumped out a SIGGRAPH paper largely for fun.

You can do consulting, freelance, contract work, etc. etc. until you land on what you want.

You can start some technical product with the aim to sell it in its entirety ASAP to some other entity (though of course the less work you put in on the 'business-bits,' the less you'll be selling that product for).

It's going to be harder to find these things or make them happen, and often they may not be very financially attractive compared to more standard paths (nor are they necessarily stable), but it seems that autonomy and creative control don't come for free in this life: you have to trade off money, time, stability, and status to do things in this manner.

psysharp(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Well be can begin with defining leader. Can't you say that a leader is one element of the group who is more intuned to regulate the stress levels of the group, and by having one the group can operate more efficiently? Isn't it infact burden but limitied to a designated element? Not everyone needs to be a leader, isn't that the point of having one? It might just be a completely seperate characteristics from independence

RickHull(10000) 1 day ago [-]

For those railing against this essay, who feel that PG is fluffing himself up and patting himself on the back like a nerdy middleschooler -- you've missed the big point, badly. PG writes unapologetically, directly, and simply, and this may pattern match to a naive middleschooler, but you are letting your base instincts cover up the fact that PG is wise, has earned his stripes, and is sharing his wisdom, unapologetically, directly, and simply.

He knows exactly the kind of backlash he will receive and is prompting you for it intentionally. He's not writing for you or to you, and he cares not a whit what you think.

He's writing to and for people like him, trying to help them put words and clear thought to vague understandings and apprehensions they've been wrestling with.

He's not self-aggrandizing but student-aggrandizing, as the headmaster of a school of thought that he values deeply. If you hate the headmaster or his style or the school of thought, that's wonderful, but it's not at all relevant to his aims. I hope this sheds some light on the bigger picture for those unaware.

judofyr(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

> He's writing to and for people like him, trying to help them put words and clear thought to vague understandings and apprehensions they've been wrestling with.

Ah, yes, he's writing an article about how to think for yourself to the people who already think like him. So if we don't think like him, but rather in an independent way, then it makes sense that we wouldn't agree with this article. Got it!

jacques_chester(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

> For those railing against this essay, who feel that PG is fluffing himself up and patting himself on the back like a nerdy middleschooler -- you've missed the big point, badly. PG writes unapologetically, directly, and simply, and this may pattern match to a naive middleschooler, but you are letting your base instincts cover up the fact that PG is wise, has earned his stripes, and is sharing his wisdom, unapologetically, directly, and simply

Being unapologetic, direct and simple doesn't make someone wise. Being wise makes someone wise.

PG's essays read more and more like cut-rate Plato. Somehow, no matter where things begin, the topic eventually turns to 'only I and my buddies should run Athens'.

Apocryphon(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand pg. The wisdom is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical business most of the insights will go over a typical reader's head. There's also pg's positivistic outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation- his personal philosophy draws heavily from Sam Altman literature, for instance.

stonogo(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

'PG is wise, has earned his stripes'

Or: he got rich in a historical paradigm shift, in a societal system built around preserving personal wealth.

Lots of people got rich in the dot com boom, and their opinions are even today uninteresting and trite. I suggest you stop arguing to authority and take his essays on their own merit, which is a different approach than the rose-colored glasses you're using.

mcguire(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

'He's writing to and for people like him, trying to help them put words and clear thought to vague understandings and apprehensions they've been wrestling with.'

In other words, the conventionally unconventional? Those who are independent, but only in the right way?

baron_harkonnen(10000) 1 day ago [-]

PG sure has been on a kick about how brilliant of an independent thinker he is in a sea of conformity.

It's clear in all of his writing that he's perpetually beating around the bush about some current itch he has, I wish he would just come out and say it with out pretending to be a deep thinker:

> Do you want to do the kind of work where you can only win by thinking differently from everyone else?

I mean, taken outside of this being a PG essay I would assume this means stay away from SV, but I suspect that's not really the point.

> One of the most effective techniques is one practiced unintentionally by most nerds: simply to be less aware what conventional beliefs are.

This essay is an object lesson in how this leads to profoundly conventional thinking. This entire thing reads like it was torn from the journal of a clever middle-schooler who thinks he's so much more clever then the world.

Right now Silicon Valley VC thinking is the dominant ideology, putting blinders on to what is considered convention isn't cultivating an independent mind, it's an assertion of the status quo.

> An essay that told people things they already knew would be boring.

I agree, but given how beloved rehashed versions of 'aren't we the clever independent thinkers!' essays are here I think there is some empirical evidence to the contrary.

zeroxfe(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I think PG writes well, thinks clearly, and occasionally has some very good essays.

But I do get the sense that he's trying really hard to show how deep a thinker he is. (I'm not sure if this has always been the case, or it's a new thing.) His tweets are particularly cringey, but I still follow him because of the occasional nugget.

ceilingcorner(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

It's a clever cultural move. Instead of actually being 'the independent thinkers', you simply brand yourselves as such. You get to feel unique and wise without all that fuss of actually being unique or having wisdom.

I don't want to veer too far into politics, but suffice to say, if the institutions of power in your society hold the same values as you, you aren't the 'counterculture', no matter how much you claim to be.

hodgesrm(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

> PG sure has been on a kick about how brilliant of an independent thinker he is in a sea of conformity.

For somebody praising non-conformity the idea of the superiority of the 'independent thinker' is a pretty conventional idea. It dates in written form at least back to Plato's philosopher king [1]. You can guess the idea is a lot older than that. There does not seem to be a lot of evidence it leads to better overall outcomes than other, more inclusive approaches. Big successes in human affairs tend to involve getting a lot of people aligned around specific goals.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosopher_king

unityByFreedom(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Seems more like reposts than beating around the bush to me.

He maintained a significant following through essays and probably feels it still works.

randomsearch(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

> This entire thing reads like it was torn from the journal of a clever middle-schooler who thinks he's so much more clever then the world.

This point really undermines your argument. I see this kind of response a lot, particularly on the left to people like PG (who I have mixed opinions of) when they have the audacity to write about something they don't have qualifications in (such as economics), or when you just don't like what he's saying on an emotional level. 'Oh he thinks he's so clever' is just a childish insult, you're not refuting his central point. You're also second guessing him.

> pretending to be a deep thinker:

This is just an insult. PG clearly reads more than most and is a thoughtful writer.

edw519(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Disagree. This sounds a bit harsh, nitpicking at one instance of a class.

Go back and read all his essays. You'll learn more than if you got your MBA. (I know. I've done both.)

Believe me, I'm not PG fan boy, but he doesn't have to do this and I hope he never stops.

fractionalhare(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> This essay is an object lesson in how this leads to profoundly conventional thinking. This entire thing reads like it was torn from the journal of a clever middle-schooler who thinks he's so much more clever then the world.

You've hit upon something that's always bothered me with this characterization of nerds. It's like if someone framed adult life by superimposing stereotypical high school nerd vs jock social dynamics onto it, and then went on to portray nerds as heroes.

In real life 'nerds' are part of the same system. They are utterly conventional. You don't get to call yourself unconventional just because you deride sportsball and like computers.

This essay reminds me of an xkcd comic: https://xkcd.com/610/. I think it would be too harsh to call him self-aggrandizing, but he does seem to dress up otherwise good insights about how to think critically with celebration of how unconventional this is.

It's like when Peter Thiel expanded one good insight about critically finding ideas from uncommon beliefs into an entire book.

dgb23(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

IMO Voltairine de Cleyre[0] phrased this notion much better in this essay about Anarchism[1] in the first few paragraphs.

She starts with describing two essential spirits, one being conservative and steady, the other one being progressive and unpredictable. It becomes clear these spirits both inhabit everyone in some way or another and society reflects that as a whole as well.

On a personal level, it gets complicated really fast. People as I know them usually cannot be categorized as easily into one or the other. Some people appear as unconventional and free thinkers, but are set in their ways in many areas, and vice versa. And then it also depends very much on the situation, the atmosphere and so on. Someone who appears timid at first, sometimes just needs a nudge to open up and go bonkers.

So I feel like the notion that you can divide people into these categories is very reductionist.

What I find useful however is balancing the creative/progressive aspect (or spirit) with the conservative/steady one, and not just balancing but letting them guide oneself them deliberately, dependent on context.

John Cleese did a inspirational and funny talk[2] about this subject, that I found quite useful, because he suggests a practical framework to nurture the creative side deliberately.

Similarly, there is this talk[3] from Rich Hickey that describes the notion of giving oneself enough time to think deeply about problems. It relates to the above in the sense that he also acknowledges passive/subconscious mechanisms of our mind.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltairine_de_Cleyre [1] https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/voltairine-de-cleyre... [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb5oIIPO62g [3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f84n5oFoZBc

auggierose(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Well, PG very probably is an independent thinker. I enjoy his examinations what makes people like him different from other people, and while this essay may sound like a rehash of his other essays, it isn't. It was genuinely surprising to me (and also obvious in hindsight) that people separate into independently-minded and conventionally-minded and that this determines what work they should be looking for. I mean, this is advice that is about as actionable as advice will ever get. Beware that there are strong forces that will tempt you to act against this advice, and make you doubt yourself.

tchaffee(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

> PG sure has been on a kick about how brilliant of an independent thinker he is in a sea of conformity.

The feeling I get essay after essay is that he's struggling to stay relevant. It's kind of sad to watch tbh.

spdionis(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

While the rest of your post sounds reasonable:

> Right now Silicon Valley VC thinking is the dominant ideology

Are you sure? Are you talking about the US? And even then it's probably true for only ~half of the states? Are you talking about the business world? The whole of EU seems to strongly disagree with SV VC thinking.

Edit: Why doesn't the EU replicate the success of US startups? You think EU policy makers don't understand what is needed for that? Or that there's not enough 'talent'? I doubt it. I think it's a more or less conscious decision to avoid the US startup culture. It's a cultural thing.

whatever_dude(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

You managed to put into words something I always felt about PG. Thanks.

sundarurfriend(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

> PG sure has been on a kick about how brilliant of an independent thinker he is in a sea of conformity.

If your first reaction reading this essay is 'PG is trying to big himself up as an independent thinker', that tells me more about your attitude and mental state than about PG.

Forgive the cliche, but 'great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people' is a decent heuristic, with good reason. Once you start seeing attempts to communicate as status contests automatically, you're not in a useful frame of mind for rational discourse any more.

bob33212(10000) 1 day ago [-]

There is a large socialist/anti-capitalist/woke movement on Twitter and a somewhat in the real world as well. I assume PG would like to call all those people out directly. But he cannot because in the current media and social climate the news summary will read:

'Older White SV Billionaire living in England tells poor American minorities to stop complaining because their politics would lead to an economy with less innovation.'

I don't think he is wrong. Some of these very progressive goals can have unintended consequence, but he isn't in a position where he can say those things due to his professional and personal expectations which he has to conform to.

wpietri(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I thought you were being too harsh, and then I read the essay. Sheesh.

One of the conventions he really adopts here is binary thinking. He's created an enormous false dichotomy, and then decided he and his in-group are 100% on the correct side of it. Another convention is the commanding, voice-of-God essay that has now finally answered an important question. As if things like this ever have one answer. And as you suggest, at this point he's promoting a 'nerds >> normies' ideology that may have been novel in the mid-80s, but now seems hopelessly stale to this nerd.

And I think that leads him to write what is just a poor essay on the topic. These days good a chunk of the independence in my thinking comes from things like humility, self-awareness, and empathy. Maybe at 18 the best strategy for independent thinking is to ignore others. But somebody not much younger than Graham, the biggest threat to my clarity of thought is getting high on my own bullshit. It's getting locked into ideas and beliefs that are comfortable or convenient. It's that thinking myself independent of others is the only kind of independence needed.

Of course, I'm lucky in that since I'm not nearly as successful as Graham, I don't have the same kind of incentive to justify my success in terms of me being a unique, superior genius.

fanzhang(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I don't see the point of the essay as how brilliant of an independent thinker he is, or even that being an independent thinker makes you a better person.

The essay is useful because has specific tactical points on how to think better: questioning whether a statement you hear is true, or watching how other people find their beliefs.

What do you think people should be doing more in the world? Or mental habits people should have?

commandlinefan(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

> clever then the world


okareaman(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

You put your finger on why I felt compelled to unfollow PG on Twitter. I kept waiting for him to hit me with valuable insights that rarely showed up. I took the time to learn Lisp because of PG and was underwhelmed. I bet Lisp was amazing 40 years ago; now it just seemed like a fetish for parenthesis to me. Lispy and functional ideas have moved into the brace block languages I've been using the last 20 years.

conanbatt(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

> G sure has been on a kick about how brilliant of an independent thinker he is in a sea of conformity.

For me it is absolutely surprising how conventional-minded he is on politics while giving this spiel.

skybrian(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

It seems to me that claiming you're independent-minded is sort of like claiming you're a genius. You're not supposed to make this claim yourself. Graham doesn't make this claim explicitly, but by writing about this subject he makes it implicitly.

How do you avoid making this claim? I think it's to remember the the trap of fundamental attribution error. People are not always independent-minded or always conformist. They may think independently about some subjects and conform to conventional wisdom for others.

This provides more room for modesty - maybe I was able to think independently about some subject, that one time, or a few times, but certainly not consistently on all subjects. Having some experience might make it reasonable to write about it, with suitable caveats.

So, essays often start out with some kind of explanation of the author's qualifications, sometimes written as a sort of half-apology to the reader for presuming to write as an expert when you are still learning.

We might also remember the lesson of counter-cultures, which is that rejecting mainstream beliefs more easily happens with the help of other people who believe differently. This makes it more difficult to tell where you stand, since everyone feels like they are being non-conformist in some way. When people are divided then it's inevitable that you will disagree with some. (Nerd culture is a counter-culture that has become mainstream in some ways, though there are less popular aspects of it.)

Conventional wisdom is also relative to which culture you are talking about. That's what culture is, an agglomeration of ideas about the best way to do thousands of different things. When you move to a different place, it's quite possible to get caught between cultures inadvertently and not have any community that thinks quite like you do.

chenpengcheng(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

well said.

Cyberthal(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

How to complain about PC thought police without getting lynched — verbose timidity from the mildly conservative libertarian with too much to lose. By Paul Thiel.

Agreed99(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Agreed. He obfuscates his point behind emotionally pompous British semantics.

His orthodox of privilege was obviously a public lovers quarrel with Thiel (who was, around the same time, also ranting like a god-headed buffoon in essays to the tune of "the rubes need masters! villainous cackle" on blogs around the web).

They have little information advantage, except in the form of ephemeral financial capital. Human tradition states "rich person = extra special" so we rubberneck at them.

Beneath the pretentious veneer it's contemporary businessmen. Let's see them resolve longstanding issues in society and science.

Wagging business success in the face of people who weren't born yet isn't terribly novel and their real output isn't that useful to the future.

TigeriusKirk(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

>PG sure has been on a kick about how brilliant of an independent thinker he is in a sea of conformity.

In recent years conformists have gotten louder and louder, and more and more insistent that everyone should conform.

His recent essays are his reaction to that.

It would be a strategically bad response for someone of lesser stature, but in his place he can afford to weather the storm and it's valuable for the tiny, narrow target audience of this essay to hear.

gonational(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

I knew how I felt when I read this essay, but I couldn't quite put it into words, even in my mind.

Then I arrived here in the comment section and discovered your refreshingly accurate comment; I knew, immediately, that I did not need to have my own "independent" thought, because you summarized my feelings perfectly.

I was put off by the essay so much; seeing your comment at the top gives me hope.

vincentmarle(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

> This entire thing reads like it was torn from the journal of a clever middle-schooler who thinks he's so much more clever then the world.

That honor is already claimed by Sam Altman's blog.

enraged_camel(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Agreed. For someone who once wrote an essay titled 'Keep Your Identity Small', PG sure has fully embraced an identity of 'independent thinker'.

throwaway2245(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel. You can't publish papers saying things other people already know.

To be a brilliant scientist - maybe.

To be a successful scientist - I think (unfortunately) the opposite.

If you rock the boat too hard - by challenging or contradicting other scientists' work, then you'll be gently rebuffed on technical grounds by the peer-review process, which will make it harder and slower to get funding, which means you spend more time stuck in bureaucracy than you do in science.

Publishing things that confirm the status quo is a much easier way to be successful as a scientist. Correctness is less important - many published papers are not 'correct'.

I doubt that the other examples (investors, startup founders, writers) are different in this respect.

It's easier to be successful by taking the obvious and safe path competently, rather than taking the very high risk of a completely novel path.

Cthulhu_(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Yeah, I mean a LOT of people - scientists, software developers, etc - already struggle to do things correctly, let alone in a novel way. There's huge value in work that is not groundbreaking.

For the sciences for example: Repeat or (re) confirm someone else's theories. Repeatability is one of the most important parts of science, and if all the scientists only pushed to do something new, instead of double-checking others' work, science would become something ego-driven and vague.

For software development (my and most people on here's jobs), 99% of it is not building something new. Build something good first. Quality standards, testing, accessibility - how much software do you know that actually does that right?

I've worked with so many people during my consultancy stint (myself included I guess?) that would always pursue the latest and greatest - they wanted to innovate, they wanted something fresh and new. So rarely did they spend more than two years at any one customer. The worst offenders would swoop into a company, advise technology X, then fly off again without ever having to live with the consequences.

And that does not make you a better developer. It scratches your personal itch maybe, but you've caused potentially millions in lost productivity and the inevitable rewrite by more sane developers further down the line.

I'm trying at the moment to do things Right. Build software for the next ten years, instead of the next six months. I'm struggling a bit because the project is big and I'm just a solo developer, but I like to think the mindset is right. I mean I'm not doing anything new, it's just a CRUD application in the end, but it's important that it's done right due to the sheer amount of data (width, not so much amount).

gregwebs(10000) 1 day ago [-]

IMHO PG's best essay since thinking for yourself is a complex topic that underlies many of his previous essays yet is explained so well here. A few things stuck out to me that could have deeper explanations:

I suspect conformity has just as strong of a relationship with childhood environment as genetics. Ironically heavy-handed parents trying to create conformity can create rebels. Loving and understanding parents can create conformists unless they emphasize independent thinking. Personally I try to avoid telling children what exactly to do and try to listen to them, essentially treating them like adults: this is explained in the book 'How to Talk so Kids Will Listen'.

'Resistance to being told what to think' is given in this essay as working with curiosity, but I think it can also have a negative feedback. The independent thinker can be less curious about ideas they are told by someone else. However, the same phenomenon may help explain the mentioned individualization of curiosity: the ideas the critical thinker thinks of as coming from themselves naturally generate curiosity in those areas.

qPM9l3XJrF(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Another idea for instilling independent thinking in kids is to troll them: https://imgur.com/a/GLDrD In the comics Calvin doesn't catch on, but in my experience if you keep making the tale taller and taller, kids will start to figure out what's going on and be more alert in the future.

Tycho(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

Conventional-minded people don't like to think of themselves as conventional-minded. And in any case, it genuinely feels to them as if they make up their own minds about everything. It's just a coincidence that their beliefs are identical to their peers'.

I'm not sure about this. I think people are aware of what is conventional, and that's why they gravitate towards it. It's a risk-mitigation strategy, or in the case of curiosity, the explore-exploit trade-off at work.

Life presents you with a bewildering array of options. It greatly helps to establish what the conventional choice is. It will generally be the safe option, a path well-trodden. You can try to reverse-engineer why it became the conventional choice, gain an appreciation of its advantages, maybe tweak things to find a slightly more optimal solution for your personal circumstance... but sticking with convention qua convention is generally justified. People don't 'accidentally' make the same choices as most others, they deliberately identify what is conventional and follow that path. Go to university, buy a house with a mortgage, get a car on PCP, marry before having children, etc etc

Likewise for a small child there is no downside to curiosity, only upside. As an adult, there is an awareness that you need to earn your daily bread, before all else. Working with people who seem to just follow flights of fancy, risking their livelihood, can be infuriating.

And then there is the whole meta-question of conventional thoughts versus conventional statements. If you believe something that is widely disbelieved, and you speak up, you're sticking your neck out. When I see people do this I tend to get the impression they have not really calibrated their bet on being right against the reputational risk they are assuming.

musicale(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

> get a car on PCP

That explains so much.

11thEarlOfMar(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Is it helpful to differentiate Discovery vs. Invention?

When a scientist discovers a physical behavior, or a oceanographer a new species, it's a discovery that others could make. The phenomena exists, they happened to find it first.

When a composer invents, they are likely creating music that no other human would have created. If they hadn't composed it, it would never have existed.

Both of these activities seem to require an independent mind to be successful. Are they related? Or fundamentally different in some way?

MinusGix(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

You could frame it as discovery being finding something out about the thing. So you find out the color of the trees in fall, the sun that an asteroid is about to fall into, or a person's name. For invention, you are usually deliberately creating it. Your composer works on the music to become better, and chooses better chords to play. The programmer modifies his code to fix an issue he noticed, thus making the invention better.

I think they are separate. Even if they are 100% related, all from the same factors of psychology, it would still be useful to differentiate them.

glitchc(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Is rearranging existing chords into a new sequence 'Invention' or 'Discovery'?

mcguire(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

'Ditto for essayists. An essay that told people things they already knew would be boring. You have to tell them something new.'

How come I know exactly where this essay is going? It is yet another 'start-up founders are genetically, intellectually, and emotionally superior; the rest of the muggles are so envious.'

Does Paul think everyone except startup founders works on an assembly line?

'You see this especially among political extremists. They think themselves nonconformists, but actually they're niche conformists. Their opinions may be different from the average person's, but they are often more influenced by their peers' opinions than the average person's are.'

Oooh. So close.

Anyway, don't pop your shoulder out while you're patting yourself on the back.

MetalGuru(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Nowhere in the essay does he argue that the three qualities of independent thinkers are exclusive to startup founders. You clearly feel some type of way about Paul Graham.

kanox(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Hackernews is a garbage community.

thimkerbell(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

From what I see online, it appears that the social zeitgeist has swung toward factionalism - I perceive this, and this pressure - and I think what pg is doing in the essay, is largely pointing out that there's value in and a need for independent thinking.

briefcomment(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

There's a lot of mind-reading in this essay, and basically no humility.

Ntrails(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

> You see this especially among political extremists. They think themselves nonconformists, but actually they're niche conformists. Their opinions may be different from the average person's, but they are often more influenced by their peers' opinions than the average person's are.

This reminds me of my arguments (many many years ago) about the alleged 'non-conformist' credentials of the 'Goth' kids. I'm sure, of course, that PG has captured some insight or subtlety that my socially maladjusted insular teenaged self missed...

brlewis(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

> How come I know exactly where this essay is going?

This is the question I've been thinking as I've checked back in on comments here a few times this morning. Why do so many people 'know' that this essay is all about aggrandizing pg's own intellect or that of startup founders, when it's almost entirely composed of two parts: (1) discussion on when independent thinking is and isn't valuable, and (2) advice on cultivating independent thinking? Where does this impression come from?

There's always some negativity toward any widely-read essay, but there seems to be a higher quantity with this one, making me think there's something actually wrong with it. My hypothesis is that its presentation is too neatly wrapped. This essay espouses curiosity, but does not model it. It comes across as having all the answers. This is especially true of the brief part that confidently explains the lack of negative reaction to another essay, with no details of how such confidence was arrived at.

This is too bad. I'd like for this essay to have engendered more discussion on cultivating independent thinking, and less discussion about pg's mindset.

daleharvey(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Its hard to think of a more homogenous industry / group of individuals than the HN / SV startup founder clique.

The length that people will go to to pretend that it isnt another rich boys club that leans somewhat conservative (sorry 'libertarian') is interesting in itself.

ghufran_syed(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

It's really hard to read this kind of discussion of paul graham's work, because I feel there is a lot of reaction to who he is rather than just the ideas being presented. I'd love to see him do a [Richard Bachman](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bachman) i.e. start writing essays with no obvious connection to his actual identity and see what response it gets.

cuspycode(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

I agree, it's very irritating that so many people respond to who the messenger is, rather than to what the message is. You don't really have to anonymize the author's identity in order to focus on the message rather than the messenger. You just have to let go of identity politics and any similar goofiness.

dang(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

Every time a new pg essay comes out, comments appear saying how much he and his essays have changed (for the worse, of course). I think this perception has the nicely ironic property that it exists because it's false.

pg hasn't changed. He can't; he's too weird (nonconformist, if you prefer). Traits at that level just are.

What's changed is his status. Becoming rich and famous changes how people perceive you. What sounds scrappy and original coming from an underdog sounds inflated and self-congratulatory coming from a fatcat. The irony is that it's just because he hasn't changed—in particular, to accommodate the expectations people have once they classify you as a fatcat—that people complain that he changed.

Even more ironically, this 'change' is actually the invariant. pg never accommodated the expectations people had. His essays pissed people off 10 years ago, 15 years ago, coming up on 20 years ago. While the surface reasons have changed, the feelings are so similar that the deep structure of the off-pissage is surely the same.

gridspy(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I imagine the qualities of his essays which 'piss others off' are exactly those qualities that I most value.

For instance, I enjoy how each essay seems to take an abstract and detached look at something widely taken for granted. It then extracts some valuable insights that are often too hard to see without this lofty view. I personally love this.

nwienert(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

What's a strong disagree you have with him? For if he is so non-conformist certainly you disagree with him on a few things.

What makes him weird in his thinking compared to your typical Bay Area tech person? They all seem to value non-conformity, thinking from first principles, growth, etc.

What view would you'd say is truly contrarian? One that most here would disagree with?

Most of the critique here isn't about him saying something people just disagree with. He's not being radical in any way whatsoever. The critiques here all have to do with the fact that he's saying aggressively conventional things that are framed as the opposite. Banal, backwards and self-congratulatory. It's not that he's said anything disagreeable in content.

You're fighting against different people with each point you make. It's like you made a field of straw men and then shot each down. You do the same thing with critiques of HN itself: "people always have said this", where the "this" is vague and has often been different at different times. If what they say is different then maybe some are right, maybe the "this" was right at the time, and now it's a different this, and it's right now. Just because a choir sounds bad doesn't mean a few voices aren't correct.

Paul is an aggressively conventional guy. He's your super stereotypical "slightly nerd techie". He excels at second order thinking ("everyone says X, but have you thought of Y") but then he just stops there. He never contends with his own second order contrarian idea, he just builds reinforcements around it. This essay is kindergarten chalkboard aphorism "Think Outside the Box!" framed as real contrarianism, which is why he gets flak.

retsibsi(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I know he's probably significantly richer now, but did people really perceive him as an underdog after he made millions from Viaweb?

gorbachev(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

One of the things I've started actively disliking more and more are the 'independent thinkers' in the tech oligarchy who seem to do it simply because they enjoy being contrarians.

They post pseudo-intellectual babble about going against the grain justified by single sentence 'observations' about some anecdotal evidence they then stretch and generalize into a larger point and continue beating up until the horse is dead.

thegjp210(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

there are loads of these folks in VC. Anyone who went to an ivy/stanford/MIT, worked in banking for 2 years, and now is at a VC by definition isn't a contrarian. Contrarianism bears out in life decisions - not a faux intellectual attitude

rossdavidh(10000) about 13 hours ago [-]

While I agree that there are professions where thinking unconventional thoughts is especially important, there's a flipside to this which is missed in this essay: they're professions where being wrong is not catastrophic. VC's can invest in many startups, and a few successes can make up for a lot of failures. It's ok to be wrong a lot, if a few big successes (i.e you were right when everyone else was wrong) can make up for that.

But, most professions are not like that. I don't want my surgeon, car mechanic, plumber, or accountant to be the sort who is rarely in agreement with their peers. If they are wrong half the time about things which everyone else knew the right answer to, but also half of the time they are right when everyone else is wrong, I'm still much worse off. Being unconventional is only a good thing if the consequences of being wrong are much less bad, than the benefits of being correct when others are all wrong.

imgabe(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

You are missing the part about being fastidious about the truth. Nobody cares about people who are 'unconventional' in a way that is at odds with reality. Conventions are merely cognitive shortcuts we use to apply previously determined knowledge. Sometimes that knowledge grows out of sync with the world, or there is a newer, better understanding of the world that represents an improvement, and we need to replace or update the convention. This is where we need unconventional thinkers to question assumptions and test new ways of doing things. Yes, even in fields like surgery and plumbing.

Do you think the current state of knowledge in surgery is perfect and cannot be improved? If not, you are depending on people to question the current conventions.

I promise you the first plumber who proposed the waterless urinal was met with a lot of resistance from other plumbers 'That's not how we do things', 'That will never work' etc. etc. It doesn't mean he's also going to design your house so that shit has to flow uphill. Nobody is proposing that you just throw out conventions at random for the sake of calling yourself unconventional.

lanevorockz(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Sad state of affairs that people need to be thought how to think for themselves. It's unnatural and only a product of the current educational systems. Greek philosophers were able to do a lot of great work over 2 thousand years ago.

pjscott(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Greek philosophers whose works are still being read today are probably not a representative sample. It's tempting to look back at a few exceptional people from past societies, compare them with typical people from ours, and find our society lacking -- but this isn't a fair comparison.

jonny383(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The very premise of this article is an oxymoron. 'How to Think for Yourself' (by reading instructions on how from someone other than yourself)

username90(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Someone who is already an independent thinker doesn't need this advice though. However someone who is a dependent thinker who see Paul as an authority figure could maybe listen a bit and become a tiny bit more independent than he were before.

elric(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It's not. We also teach teachers how to teach, for instance. No one is born with all their skills and knowledge. Critical (or independent) thinking is a skill just like any other.

adnzzzzZ(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The distinction between independent-mindedness and conventional-mindedness is captured more correctly I think by a trait called politeness as defined here https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5863998_Between_Fac... Independent-mindness would be similar to low politeness (coupled with high openness, but I'll ignore that for now), and those people would be more likely to be like this than not:

* Make enemies.

* Oppose authority.

* Believe that I am better than others.

* Seek danger.

* Put people under pressure.

* Try to outdo others.

* Believe only in myself.

* Impose my will on others.

* Love a good fight.

* Seek conflict.

* Think too highly of myself.

* Tell tall stories about myself.

* Play tricks on others.

* Enjoy crude jokes.

* [Comment loudly about others.]

* [Enjoy being reckless.]

* [Do dangerous things.]

You get the point. In my opinion, you don't really get to be independent-minded without the negatives that come with it. For instance, most conspiracy theorists are highly independent-minded people. They definitely reject authority, and they're highly curious and contrarian about established narratives.

This recent small debate I found on Twitter is a good illustrative example of it. https://twitter.com/ModeledBehavior/status/13280235538249932... The account in question (https://twitter.com/toad_spotted) was someone who got the pandemic right earlier than most people, so conventional-minded people followed it because it was a good source of information about the virus overall. But now that another situation has come up where independent-mindedness can also show itself to be useful (and potentially right), conventional-minded people will dislike it, just like they disliked it when the outcome of the virus wasn't yet known.

I felt like mentioning this because I feel like there's a lack of appreciation for how exactly the negative aspects of independent-mindedness manifest themselves in real life, and without that appreciation for the negatives of it I think it's easy to misjudge how independent-minded someone actually is and to also misjudge people who are more independent-minded than you because they seem more difficult to get along with.

jimbokun(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> For instance, most conspiracy theorists are highly independent-minded people.

I agree with Graham's take that conspiracy minded people are not independent minded at all. They just have a different group whose authority they accept without question.

Very few conspiracy minded people come up with the conspiracies they believe in entirely on their own, or deeply investigate to find out if the conspiracy is true. They just latch on to a conspiracy someone else articulated and accept it unquestioningly.

yoz-y(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The twitter example seems more like those Nobel prize winners that later reconvert to crackpots.

I definitely agree that conspiracy theorists reject authority and are contrarian, but most don't strike me as curious except for a superficial level.

That said, I would agree with the general idea that independent minded people can be less approachable, mainly due to the fact that they do not 'need' anyone and people like to feel useful.

As for the list of things those people may or may not enjoy, the sheer amount of things polled and the small sample size give me doubts.

dependsontheq(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I think it's quite tragic that you got downvoted in a thread about independent thinking. Seriously people, you might disagree with his point, but it's very independent, has a lot of substance compared to all other comments, provides links.

Probably was to independent for some?

zw123456(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

As an inventor holding over 70 patents, I often get asked 'can you teach me to be innovative?' My answer is that you already are but you have been taught not to be. It is not that you need to learn to be innovative you have to unlearn to be compliant. School, military, most big companies all have many rules and expectations which essentially train the innovativeness out of people. I agree it is in human nature to be innovative and creative, you just have to find ways to unleash your inner inventor.

jstummbillig(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

> As an inventor holding over 70 patents

Can/Did you elaborate on this? Sounds exciting, I would love to hear more about how you got started and what kind of work you do.

dukeofdoom(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

I had two of those thoughts today, that would probably get me ostracized from society if I expressed them freely.

Earlier today I overheard a teen girl with a giant behind, talking with her friend how she wants to go home and do nothing, to her obese friend, on a Friday. Sorry but this is not how teenagers acted in the past. And its not normal that so many young people are morbidly obese, stay at home do nothings.

People are stumbling along and nobody notices how fat everyone is around here, as if its all fine, but maybe they notice but too afraid to speak up. But really its not fine, its actually pretty horrible. And is probably an indication of some sort of toxicity. Maybe like lead poisoning from lead pipes.

I also draw a line, I don't think we should be wearing space suits to live on this planet. Sorry if that means people will die from exposure to disease. But thats not the path I want humanity to take.

Independent thinkers can often come off as lacking empathy. Expressing empathy is very important in communication, especially If you want to be liked by other people. But as society, I think its crutch too. Its not that I don't think we have too much empathy. I think we use empathy to cover up problems, which can be solved. A little temporary pain, can reduce suffering in the long run.

dukeofdoom(10000) about 16 hours ago [-]

These are pretty conventional counter sentiments online, I don't claim I independently thought of them. But you can't freely express them. Try talking about fat people at work, and report how well that goes over. After you lose your job, you might feel a little 'ostracized' from society.

My point which I did not state adequately in my comment, is that obesity is huge problem, that people use empathy to cover up for.

I'll use cigarettes as an example, it wasn't until packages started showing graphic pictures of cancer, damaged lungs, and huge graphic labels and warnings. That the public/social pressure to quit, had substantial effect.

I think its misguided to put all our effort in protecting at risk individuals, when the responsibility lies with most of these people to lose weight, and strengthen their immune system.

You have to be a blind person to ignore the real authentic evidence of obesity in this country. I won't even bother to look for links to studies. Here's an article stating its 40% and higher.


Its also directly linked to this pandemic in the USA. Its a direct predictor of mortality from COVID. Study.


I don't oppose wearing masks, as a short term strategy to reduce infection. The evidence that they work is marginal. I have no problem wearing them, other than it may give a false sense security to at risk individuals.

But how long should we wear masks? A year, two years, a decade... ? Its very conceivable that technological innovation will take over, and cloth masks will become full-on ventilators. Which at that point really will resemble 'space suits'. So will wearing mandated 'space suits' be a path that we want humanity to go down on? Or will nature select out the weak, like it has done for millions of years in our evolution.

Also, 'my body my choice' has to be respected at some point. If we want to save the most lives, we would really want to isolate the most at risk elderly and mandate some nation wide weight loss program.

Mandating that everyone do an hour walk, lose weight if you are obese, and put a treadmill in every classroom, would save more a lot more lives than just masks.

darkerside(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I find it interesting that conventional thinkers are described as 'sheep' in this article. In my experience, most people who I thought were shallow or 'conventional' thinkers were not. Rather, they cared about different things than I did. They were independent thinkers, questioning assumptions, in the field where they were expert or passionate, and conventional thinkers everywhere else because they want to save their mental energy for the areas they care about the most.

eloff(10000) about 15 hours ago [-]

In my experience most people are sheep. I rarely encounter people who think independently about very much at all. And I'm sure they all would think the above didn't apply to them. Especially with politics I notice most people just pick a red or blue team or equivalent in their country, and inherit all their positions - which blows my mind.

I also think it doesn't apply to me, but I worry about how really independent my thinking is.

t_serpico(10000) about 15 hours ago [-]

This is true. If I wanted to have independent thoughts for things I believe basically because most people believe them, I would not have the time to do anything else. Some people have this drive and capacity but most don't.

yt-sdb(10000) about 15 hours ago [-]

I agree. A few years ago, I read "The Conquest of Happiness" by B. Russell, and he made a compelling argument that living a boring life may be a prerequisite for great work in certain fields. One can imagine that in 500 years, we'll still talk about results from Terry Tao—who I suspect is boring and conventional in many ways—while totally forgetting the work of exciting and controversial thinkers today.

ineedasername(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

To be a successful scientist... you can't publish papers saying things other people already know

PG may have some good insights sometimes, but it's rare I see him get something so completely wrong as this.

Reproducing research to demonstrate a result was correct or not is a cornerstone in the foundation of science. A fundamental problem in the research community is that incentives as misaligned to support that initiative, and so there are an endless stream of papers published that are either flawed in themselves or obtained spurious results that wouldn't hold up under additional systematic scrutiny.

Worse, these flawed pieces of research feed into the sound-byte media cycle and over time have eroded public trust & confidence in the scientific process. To some extent that's unavoidable when preliminary research, even well performed, us taken out of context. But every study performed with a handful of subjects that producing a weak result with controversial implications will be shouted from the roof tops nonetheless.

So, to PG saying a successful scientist must pursue novel research: stop navel gazing on the superiority of SV values and looking to shove them into every area of human endeavor. You're wrong, and sometimes dangerously so.

Karunamon(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

The word used was 'successful', not 'good'. Reproduction papers and meta-analyses seldom generate notoriety.

wildermuthn(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

But reproducing research results does produce new knowledge: enhanced validity of the original research. Or on the contrary, decreased validity. Both outcomes result in the creation of new (deeper) knowledge.

Garlef(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> An essay that told people things they already knew would be boring. You have to tell them something new.

I think there's something off about this statement: A lot of people enjoy watching a new marvel movie once or twice a year while the movies themselves are more or less reiterations of the previous ones. People seem to enjoy the repetition.

The same seems to be true for essays: People enjoy finding their own thoughts repeated by anothers voice.

For example, there are a lot of essays analyzing/explaining/stating/claiming the importance of book X, videogame Y or composer Z; Art movement A, theory B or profession C. But do they provide anything new besides the comfort of nostalgia for shared experiences? However stale the enjoyment of these essays seems when viewed through the lens of the cited statement, the enjoyment itself can not be denied.

jimbokun(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> A lot of people enjoy watching a new marvel movie once or twice a year while the movies themselves are more or less reiterations of the previous ones. People seem to enjoy the repetition.

The success of the Marvel movies is obvious in retrospect, but nothing like them had ever been done before.

Thor, Iron Man and Captain America were not considered among the popular Marvel Characters. Spider Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four had already been licensed by other companies, but no one cared to do the same with what became the foundation characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Having a cinematic universe where major characters had their own movies, plus movies where they banded together, was common in comics, but never on the big screen.

Keeping the characterizations largely true to the comics, when many directors had wanted to make them more 'sophisticated' or 'adult', also displays independent minded thinking.

Would anyone have predicted a sci-fi romp with a talking squirrel and walking tree the general public had no familiarity with would be a massive success?

Making Thanos the protagonist of the 'Hero's Journey' in the climax of the whole series I think was a bold decision.

There are many other ways these movies were bold and creative and, yes, independent minded, leading to success that would have been impossible with conventional thinking.

MinusGix(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

> A lot of people enjoy watching a new marvel movie once or twice a year while the movies themselves are more or less reiterations of the previous ones. People seem to enjoy the repetition.

Honestly, I would argue against this. While they tend to do simplistic plotlines that are similar to the previous, they're very visibly different and so do not trigger any of the usual 'I already watched this.' that I get from watching sitcoms.

Though, I do agree that people at times read essays because they reiterate your thoughts back to you, but as you say I'd agree that its more comfort/shared-experiences than the content that they've already seen (ex: reaction videos). At times, I've done this because I know an article will be able to provide an alternative view on the topic to further fuel my own reasoning, or simply helping to ground my reasoning more into words.

But, I do think an essay that is obviously what I already know would be boring. If I had to read an article about basic programming techniques, I'd be likely bored, due to having seen it all before.

dijit(10000) 1 day ago [-]

So, I might have a controversial opinion here.

My mother raised me to think for myself, it was a heavy emphasis of my upbringing and important for her.

However I'm now in situations where the world is divided and asking questions (in order to make my own mind up) is considered some kind of admission of guilt for being part of the 'other'.

For example: Asking someone why they think immigration is good/bad. If it's a belief they hold, I'm interested in knowing the thought process and making my own conclusions based on something I might not have known. But the act of asking the question makes the person, who may not have put too much original thinking in; quite defensive.

There's another drawback here too: which is that you can't experience everything. I can't live with the experiences of an American Black Woman who emigrates to England as a White English Man who lives in Sweden; it's just not possible, thus it requires strenuous effort to empathise.

There will always be a line in which we just have to take things at face value, in computer terms 'understanding the contract' between components.

Thinking for yourself is overrated as society is not built for it if you want to fit in.

dougmwne(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I think questioning someone's ideology or beliefs to their face has never and will never win them as a friend. These things generally aren't rationally founded anyway. If you ask about some political issue, you're going to get regurgitated talking points and tribalism, not a thesis. I think it's quite rare to meet someone willing to suspend belief for a bit and engage in unbiased debate, or at least I haven't met too many. This line of thinking can be helpful in a technical context though.

_blu(10000) 1 day ago [-]

there's a degree of social intelligence involved with your examples. It's not really about 'thinking for yourself', as everything is about context. uou don't have to completely become the other person in order to empathize. For most people it does not require strenous effort.

evolution is all about the ability to fit in. this includes the ability to be your own person with your own opinions. a well adapted person can do that and still being a part of the group/society

cercatrova(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

> But the act of asking the question makes the person, who may not have put too much original thinking in; quite defensive.

Honestly, this is a good thing. Don't talk to these people. Over time I've found friends that I can discuss rationally with about many of their disparate experiences, them being from various races, genders, nationalities, and other such factors.

jackcosgrove(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> Thinking for yourself is overrated as society is not built for it if you want to fit in.

I agree that if you want to fit in, thinking for yourself is counterproductive. But I also think society has more escape hatches for unconventionally minded people than it ever has, and if you don't care about fitting in the penalties have never been lower.

9387367(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> thus it requires strenuous effort to empathise

But does it? The strenuous effort part? Empathy doesn't require strenuous effort, it can't be that hard to relate to the core struggles of anyone you don't know yet, surely you'd have to be some sort of magician to empathise at the granular level even with someone that looks like you (not sure how relevant that is but seems to be important to you), comes from the same school and now lives on the same block of flat as you do, as they could have gone through life having the complete adverse experience from yous, but at the core level, as long as you're not some sort of social anosognostic, it's not that hard to relate to what complete strangers from obscure environments feel/want/think like.

This is easily tested by simply taking a trip to some remote place you don't speak the language and you'll see how quickly empathy kicks in and how soon 'conversations' are happening where you totally relate to what they are going through perhaps not as much as they can relate to what you're going through you lunatic explorer of the subconscious. Then with time as you learn their language, well, fuck it, as long as you are wearing some shade of grey you will fit right in where you are right now and wear your mask.

meheleventyone(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> However I'm now in situations where the world is divided and asking questions (in order to make my own mind up) is considered some kind of admission of guilt for being part of the 'other'.

I think this is partly because the rules or conventions that allowed rational discussion in good faith have been hacked by those acting in bad faith. The sad truth is that good faith discussion has been utterly rhetorically hijacked by things like 'just asking questions' so when someone is genuinely asking questions you are assumed to be acting in bad faith. I have no idea what the answer to that is other than to find people you can trust to have these conversations with. And the danger is a lot of the people you think you can trust are just more people acting in bad faith.

piscisaureus(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> However I'm now in situations where the world is divided and asking questions (in order to make my own mind up) is considered some kind of admission of guilt for being part of the 'other'. For example: Asking someone why they think immigration is good/bad. If it's a belief they hold, I'm interested in knowing the thought process and making my own conclusions based on something I might not have known. But the act of asking the question makes the person, who may not have put too much original thinking in; quite defensive.

It may be a matter of knowing when to stop. My personal experience is that most people will try to answer even sensitive questions when you approach them with genuine interest and make some effort to formulate questions in a way that doesn't imply some sort of value judgement. If this is difficult, just be explicit and explicitly say you're not trying to judge or offend them.

Sure enough, you'll hear people make an argument that you find unconvincing, or they may not answer the exact question that you asked, and some people will even admit they don't know why they believe something. When that happens, you'll have to accept that as their answer (and draw your own conclusions in silence).

People do get hostile when you keep 'nagging' - asking more and more questions - when it's clear that they aren't interested in the subject or haven't thought about it much. To the other person it feels like you're either trying to make them feel stupid or change their mind. And you're getting none the wiser anyway because those who do not get offended will just make up their 'reasons' on the spot.

Obviously avoid the mistake to ask someone for their opinion, and then immediately returning the 'favor' by giving your opinion on the matter.

randomsearch(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Find people you can be honest with and have those conversations. There aren't many. Then sugarcoat for the narrow minded people. There are many.

georgewsinger(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

There are only two types of contrarian views.

1. Taking a position that is so novel that your peers neither agree nor disagree with it. Example from 15 years ago: believing that people should live on floating cities. Most people probably would disagree with this if they thought about it some (or understood the ideology behind the desire to seasted), but the position was so strange that it wouldn't stimulate immediate disagreement.

2. Taking a courageous position that is already strongly and overwhelmingly unpopular. This would be something like 'I believe democracy is vastly overrated'. Unlike with (1), almost everyone in the population has already formed an opinion that is pro-democratic, so when you utter the opposite view, you've got 95%+ of the population ready to disagree with you.

These two categories are exhaustive. In fact a false category of contrarian belief is uttering something that is already popularly controversial, and only slightly unpopular statistically. An example would be uttering 'I believe DJT should be President' in a state like Colorado, where a sizable minority of the population already agrees with you. I think this is why most people think they are independent minded, when in fact they aren't. They have a few slightly unpopular views, which don't sufficiently qualify as genuinely contrarian.

TLDR: Genuinely contrarian opinions are either so novel that almost everyone is ready to disagree with you, or they are so novel that no one has an opinion yet on the subject.

dragonwriter(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

I was going to suggest a third but I realize it's a hybrid: having a view that in summary fits the latter category but for which the detailed argument is in the former category.

hindsightbias(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

An issue with #2 might be that 5% is still millions of people , many of who are available to find with a google search. So it becomes harder to figure out who is a courageous contrarian and who is a crank.

Pre-web, individual conspirasists used to be mute. They were either smart enough to keep quiet or afraid to speak up because they thought their views were unique. Now, everyone can let their freak flag fly without much consequence.

There just isn't enough danger or personal risk anymore to separate the wheat from the chaff.

amadeuspagel(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> You don't want to start a startup to do something that everyone agrees is a good idea, or there will already be other companies doing it.

Unless it's a schlep: http://www.paulgraham.com/schlep.html

tonyjstark(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> You don't want to start a startup to do something that everyone agrees is a good idea, or there will already be other companies doing it

Which would show you that there is a market with customers. Now the question is, can you find a niche in that market and do you have enough to separate yourself from the competitors, also is it possible to attract attention to your product or is the market already saturated. No need to invent something totally new, it's fine to improve enough to make the pain to switch to your product worthwhile.

eruci(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

It's always going to be a tiny number of people that'll be the principal cause of progress, along with the rest of us being reasonable enough and simply go along with it.

Independent thinking is hard, that's why the majority of people will opt instead to adopt the common thinking of the group of their choice - a choice that comes principally from feelings.

One can be perfectly happy however, regardless on which category they belong, as long as they are comfortable with their choice.

Geminidog(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

>Independent thinking is hard,

Not only is it hard it's frowned upon and attacked. You can't help but mock flat earthers but you gotta admit they're independent thinkers.

meagher(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I created a CSS proxy for reading PG's essays. Formatting is a bit nicer https://pg-essays.now.sh/think.html

aeoleonn(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Thanks! This is much much better. By comparison PG's blog looks like it's out of the mid 90's. It needs a serious revamp.

jyriand(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Thank you. I guess PG doesn't want to conform to make his essays more readable :)

strofcon(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

'To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel. You can't publish papers saying things other people already know. You need to say things no one else has realized yet.'

Oof, first paragraph and he's entirely wrong. That's rough.

One of the most worrisome aspects of the world's take on science lately is that reproduction of published results is considered the work of dullards and thus unworthy of funding.

By definition, reproduction of results is not novel, and yet it is (or at least really should be) one of the single most crucial aspects of a shared scientific method.

This is profoundly bad thinking by Paul.

Yajirobe(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

What? What he says is completely right. You can keep verifying other people's work, you can verify that bad ideas not work, but these approaches will not get you published. What you're saying would be true in an ideal world, but it's not true in today's academic world.

fractionalhare(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

In fairness, PG's statement there is correct if you consider it descriptively rather than prescriptively, for exactly the reason you outlined in your comment. As a positive statement of fact about the current ethos of science it's correct. Less so if you interpret it as a normative imperative.

coolgod(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Depends on what your definition and metric of success. If all academia cares about is citation count then PG makes a good argument.

oh_sigh(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Reproduction of a result is novel if it hasn't been reproduced yet.

Gravityloss(10000) 1 day ago [-]

A lot of attempts being independent-minded end up just being contrarian. It is after all much less of an investment. It gets really tiring to talk to such people after a while.

jl2718(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

But still a thoroughly contrarian personality may be defined as disagreement on maybe 10 separate issues, which is maybe one in a million possibilities. And if those are popular contentious issues, then it may be for good reason, given so much effort taken to convince everybody that one opinion is dominant.

And of course there are different types: the theorist, and the skeptic. Skeptics generally have an extremely good hit rate on the truth. There are many beliefs held by the vast majority of educated people, that require fantastic improbabilities and incongruences with normal experience, whereas the extremely uncommon disbelief requires only storytellers. I can see how this would be quite boring company. Theorists are the opposite. They tell great stories with attempt to explain, or influence, or gain social acceptance by conforming their story to the emotional needs of the group. You wouldn't think them tiresome at all if the story was catering to your emotional needs. Or perhaps not, because you may be a tiresome skeptic yourself.

ryeguy_24(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

Am I the only one is getting pretty bored of 'formula for success' content?

This essay and other's like it, without evidence or data, implies that some of us know the formula for success. I get it, the things that change convention are unconventional at first. This is the definition of unconventional. I agree with the general vector of his essay but this is just boring to me.

Here is my formula for success (in case anyone cares): Enjoy life, try to make the world better, be a good person, go towards your passions (whether for hobby or career) and cultivate relationships because that seems to be the thing people regret most when they die.

Now, let's move on to to the actual unconventional ideas and observations.

ekianjo(10000) about 14 hours ago [-]

> cultivate relationships because that seems to be the thing people regret most when they die.

Dying regrets are bullshit, because those people actually made conscious choices not to invest into such relationships on a daily basis and would do it again if they were in the same situation. I don't buy it.

cratermoon(10000) about 12 hours ago [-]

This article is self-contradictory. The premise of the article is that you have to be unconventional and do things others aren't do to be successful. And then the author 'proves' the premise by saying, 'just like all these other successful people did!'

The formulae are all driven by survivorship bias anyway.

yuriko_boyko(10000) about 1 hour ago [-]

The title itself is very ironic. Learn how to think for yourselves from? Yourselves? No. From Paul Graham who doesn't even know your name.

m4eta(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

Humans are excellent at finding patterns where there are none. I don't think that changes when a bunch of 0s end up in your bank account.

qPM9l3XJrF(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

'without evidence or data'

It seems worth noting that although this essay doesn't have a lot of the way in evidence/data, it is likely informed by PG's extensive experience as a startup investor. I would guess that YC has a proprietary dataset of the startups they've funded that they use to test hypotheses etc.

bsdz(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

> Here is my formula for success (in case anyone cares): Enjoy life, try to make the world better, be a good person, go towards your passions (whether for hobby or career) and cultivate relationships because that seems to be the thing people regret most when they die.

A nice mantra. Not dissimilar to the top of PG's to do list. There he also describes 'the biggest regrets of the dying'..

'Don't ignore your dreams; don't work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.'


trabant00(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

Largely, successful people have little idea what they did to succeed at something. I observed this first in others and then in myself when trying to teach others.

One reason is - like PG says - the inclination for activities is more nature vs nurture than we like to think. We want the success to be caused by our choices and intelect. When it was largely chosen for us at birth.

Another aspect is post fact rationalization. Again like he says the unconscious mind decides first. Then the rational part tries to explain the choice but it often fails even to identify it, let alone pinpoint the reasons for it.

Third: teaching is mostly done through example and practicing toghether. Simple words are very ineffective at passing on experience.

And finally successful actions depend on context. For example what makes appropriate bussiness conduct varies from culture to culture, varies in time as the culture changes, is different even in the same culture depending on social class, etc. And these are just some points in the infinite variable group I called context.

All this makes such articles pretty much pointless as a recipe for success. But I'm not sure it is intended as that. There is value in the text, it's just not all true and all applicable to everybody. But then which text is?

ardit33(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I don't know, but I rather hear sporting/fitness advice from someone that won NBA finals, or the soccer World Cup, then just some random loser. The winner at least can tell you how they did succeed personally, even if they have no comprehensive studies with data.

On the other hand, you are just a random guy from the internet, and offering advice with no data at all.

You might be broke and posting from your mom's basement, or from the top of a penthouse that you bought from building successful companies/startups.

We don't know, so your advice will be treated like: just another opinion, from a internet rando/keyboard warrior, and everyone has opinions.

I listen to PG as he has been more right then wrong, also he was very successful, multiple times, and is single handedly a major contributer to many products I use.

rdslw(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

It is even worse.

This article is (yet another) attemp to romanticize and put to pedestal 'startup with a novel idea'. It is worth to mention that trying to trick/persuade/convince (choose freely) thousands (literaly) of people to go this path, benefits tremendously ycombinator - not the persuaded founders. Because for YC if only few are (hugely) successfull they win. Not so for the other thousands. The fact that few means 200 here, does not change that 'other' means around dozens of thousands.

Startups with 'right but not novel' are also GOOD. But they are muuuuch worse for YC. YC is not seeking all investments to end with modest returns. YC is seeking few, but with HUGE returns.

Pay attention also, that ycombinator itself is in the 'right, but not inventive' camp. It's like 'selling investing advices', while in the same time, author makes money on sth completly different (advices :). BAD ADVICES, to be exact.

p.s. I'm also tired on romanticizing airbnb in literally 3 paragraph (search for airbeds if you missed it). This is a pattern.

dang(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I don't see that here. I see someone trying to figure out things that interest him. As for unconventional ideas and observations, here's one:

Political extremists [...] think themselves nonconformists, but actually they're niche conformists. Their opinions may be different from the average person's, but they are often more influenced by their peers' opinions than the average person's are.

The material of that bit may not be unusual, but its precision and density certainly are, and the fact that it coins a great name for the phenomenon (niche conformism) easily clears the bar for 'unconventional idea/observation' in my book. Also, there's nothing formula-for-successy there. You might be missing the best reasons for reading these things?

dboreham(10000) about 15 hours ago [-]

1. Luck 2. Don't screw up.

mindhash(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

I wouldn't consider this as a formula for success but a sounding board. Most times we are lost in complexities of life and choices, articles like these enable us to get back and re-think, provide clarity. They should be considered as triggers or questions that we should be asking ourselves than a formula.

This is philosophy, should be treated as such.

mkl(10000) about 13 hours ago [-]

> This essay [...], without evidence or data, implies that some of us know the formula for success.

PG isn't claiming to know 'the' formula for success, or that anyone else knows it (I doubt there could be such a thing). He's identifying and exploring traits that, from his considerable experience, seem to correlate with business success in a very narrow field, startup companies.

andrei_says_(10000) about 13 hours ago [-]

This is what I came here to write.

"How to think for yourself... let me teach you!"

I'm not sure how reading the advice of one of the most privileged and powerful people in the world relates to my experiences. I am not a VC.

What if I am unable to apply these secrets of "thinking for myself" as they have been generously mansplained, whitesplained, rich-splained and VC-sprained and neoliberal-sprained to me?

Probably my fault.

networkimprov(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

The purpose of these essays might be more PR exercise for YC than an effort to foster efficacy among would-be world-beaters.

'When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen' ;-)

aerosmile(10000) about 17 hours ago [-]

I think you missed the point of the article. It explains why Bob is better than Sally in job A, but Sally is better than Bob in job B. Perhaps you figured that out, but I can't see that from your response, so I'll give you why this was so impactful for me. I went into Aerospace Engineering thinking that I'll be able to design radically different looking airplanes. After two degrees, three internships, three years of employment and several promotions, I quit the industry and started from scratch as a tech entrepreneur looking for a more fulfilling career path. I genuinely believe I could have avoided that whole AE thing if I had been exposed to this article at the right time.

laichzeit0(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I'm completely fine with being conventional minded. It's saved me from using MongoDB, nodejs, and countless other fads.

aeoleonn(10000) 1 day ago [-]

hilarious and true-- hype trains are drains. I'm with ya on mongodb. nodejs is awesome though :) that sweet sweet async event loop. sure, the language has some imperfections-- it's not perfect for all use cases (nor is any other)-- but overall I enjoy working with it. the community is fantastic as well.

goto11(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Fun observation that everybody in this community consider it positive to be 'independent minded'.

But the author seem to fall into the same trap at the end:

When I wrote 'The Four Quadrants of Conformism' I expected a firestorm of rage from the aggressively conventional-minded, but in fact it was quite muted. They sensed that there was something about the essay that they disliked intensely, but they had a hard time finding a specific passage to pin it on.

Isn't it much more likely that the conventional-minded people actually liked the essay because it confirmed their values and world-view? Presumable the essayist can't read minds, so this is just how he hopes they reacted.

sct202(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I don't think this community is unique in the number of people who believe themselves to be independently minded. I can't recall the last time someone has told me they are a conformist compared to the number of times I've heard someone describe themselves as an independent out of the box thinker.

dicytea(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

'If they're angry, then I'm right. But if they're not angry, then they're actually secretly angry and I'm still right.'

It's so funny honestly.

mcguire(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

'When I wrote 'The Four Quadrants of Conformism' I expected a firestorm of rage from the aggressively conventional-minded, but in fact it was quite muted. They sensed that there was something about the essay that they disliked intensely, but they had a hard time finding a specific passage to pin it on.'

Or perhaps they just rolled their eyes so hard that they strained their eye muscles and then couldn't see to type.

'[7] You see this especially among political extremists. They think themselves nonconformists, but actually they're niche conformists. Their opinions may be different from the average person's, but they are often more influenced by their peers' opinions than the average person's are.'

So close. Just a little farther. Almost got it.

eat_veggies(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It's funny because no matter how people react, he can spin it to confirm his world view. If people reacted with a 'firestorm of rage' like he expected, then it's because he really angered those conventional-minded losers, and he's doing something right! And if they didn't, then it was because they're too stupid to refute his trenchant critique.

im3w1l(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I think for intelligent disciplined thinkers it's a positive to be independent minded. Stupid people risk becoming 'cranks' and/or believing in conspiracy theories, and being defrauded of their money for woo-pills and woo-accessories.

xzvf(10000) 1 day ago [-]

"Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else".

jyriand(10000) 1 day ago [-]


> There may even be a phenomenon like Dunning-Kruger at work, where the most conventional-minded people are confident that they're independent-minded, while the genuinely independent-minded worry they might not be independent-minded enough.

lisper(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

> There are some kinds of work that you can't do well without thinking differently from your peers. To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel.

As someone who once made their living as a scientist, I can tell you from firsthand experience that while this is technically correct, the conclusion PG wishes to draw from this:

> One of the most effective techniques is one practiced unintentionally by most nerds: simply to be less aware what conventional beliefs are.

is very wrong, at least in the domain of scientific research (and probably others as well, but scientific research is the area in which I can speak with some authority). In order to make scientific progress, you have to understand the conventional wisdom. The reason for this is that the conventional wisdom in science is the product of about 350 years (and counting) of hard work by an awful lot of smart people. Those people explored a lot of wrong ideas on the way towards discovering the right ones, and if you are unaware of this history and just strike out on your own thinking that you are so much more brilliant than any other human who has ever walked the planet before you, you are much more likely to go down a well-known dead-end than you are to discover something new. I wasted about ten years of my life learning this lesson the hard way.

Being skeptical of the conventional wisdom can be useful, but keeping yourself intentionally ignorant of it is generally a bad plan.

dfranke(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

There are certain classes of creative work that especially turn this essay on its head: writing a textbook, typesetting a page, creating a film as an homage to a particular time period or genre. To do these things exceptionally well means noticing and meticulously following conventions that nobody realized existed before you did.

LetThereBeLight(10000) about 14 hours ago [-]

>Being skeptical of the conventional wisdom can be useful, but keeping yourself intentionally ignorant of it is generally a bad plan.

Yes, I agree with this. It follows along the lines of the saying: You must learn the rules before you can break them. With that said, I have seen many 1st year graduate students spend weeks/months going through the literature only to come up with project ideas that are close derivatives of published works. This usually happens because a student put too much focus on absorbing the 'conventional wisdom' of the field rather than starting with a question and seeing what research has already been done to address it.

However, there are plenty of scientists who disagree with this sentiment. I had a colleague who would quote Feynman, 'I never pay any attention to anything by experts. I calculate everything myself.' Maybe that works if you are Feynman, but I seem to recall John Preskill saying that he didn't think this mentality served Feynman well, at least in his later years.

ptero(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

In many domains of science I will agree with you: success in physics is unlikely if you don't have a strong physics background.

But many modern technologies are much less mature. For example, a good general background in software engineering helps, but following state of the art is not critical (and may be counterproductive) for building new products. My 2c.

krona(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

And yet many of the greatest mathematicians produced their best work before their 30th birthday.

getpost(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

And, like most kinds of work these days, science progress is mainly collaborative, rather than the result of one independent thinker.

pg seems predisposed to dichotomous thinking. This could be about his rhetorical style. It's easier to write an essay, or a screenplay, with good guys and bad guys. The world is more like a novel now, with multiple independent processes in shades of gray.

ChrisMarshallNY(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

> Being skeptical of the conventional wisdom can be useful, but keeping yourself intentionally ignorant of it is generally a bad plan.

I can vouch for that.

I write software, but my original training was as an EE. My software development methodology was almost entirely self-taught.

This has been both good and bad. I will sometimes come up with some really interesting orthogonal approaches, but I will also sometimes 'reinvent the wheel,' with a naive approach.

Experience has taught me to seek out prior art, and established patterns. My creative way may still be the best way, but I've learned that is not always the case.

whatshisface(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

The huge difference between tech startups and science is that in science, the conventional wisdom has recorded justifications and collected evidence that you can look up and understand, while in tech startups the conventional wisdom is advice made up by businessesmen who succeeded once, or sometimes succeeded zero times, and shared over drinks at the local pub. The usefulness gap between scientific knowledge and cultural knowledge is wide, and nowhere wider than business.

kseifried(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Another option to:

'One of the most effective techniques is one practiced unintentionally by most nerds: simply to be less aware what conventional beliefs are. '

Is to be aware of them, and to be aware that they may not be correct, or they may be correct and there are better and more effective beliefs now (new theories, but they may not be as well proven, yet), and better ways in the future (new theories/frameworks that aren't proven, or can't yet exist due to other lacking ecosystem components like technology or math or thought processes (Like open source back in the day, and then it won).

My response to all this is to consciously be aware of what I know and how old it is, and that there are probably better ways to solve these problems, or simply engineer the problem away (e.g. better password policy vs simply replacing it with SSO with good MFA).

mariodiana(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

The difference between true genius and your regular old smart person is that it takes about all the brainpower the smart person has to understand something that's pretty complicated, and their thinking then becomes locked in. The effort not only cements their conceptual understanding; it cements their emotional attachment to their understanding. By contrast, the genius has the brainpower to understand a thing, understand alternative explanations just as well, and then innovate beyond all that.

walleeee(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I think this may attest to the value of (apparent) novelty/innovation in PG's sphere. Seeming unconventional and disruptive has better ROI than spending years mining the history of human thought.

He doesn't do science, he funds and markets products. He's competing to capture pieces of a finite pie, not creating knowledge. More broadly, he promotes a zeitgeist which has made him wealthy. I wonder if this has something to do with his efforts to maintain some semblance of 'thought leadership', even if it means recycling tired content.

austincheney(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The article mentions politically extreme politicians being niche conformists, point #7. I find the difference between an extreme politician and moderate one is that the moderates advocate for their constituents, which requires two things: listening to their constituents and compromising on political ideals to attain an interest desirable to their constituents.

Extreme politicians instead tell you want your opinion is. That opinion is often a form of populism because otherwise nobody would give it the time of day. Extremes are only relevant when they have a following.

Consultant32452(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I think you have these two backwards. By definition a populist is promoting the rights and power of the people against privileged elite. It's no surprise the privileged elite consider populist an insult. And it's the moderates, the privileged elite, that have to instruct the proles about what's best for them.

losvedir(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

> You have to do something that sounds to most other people like a bad idea, but that you know isn't — like writing software for a tiny computer used by a few thousand hobbyists, or starting a site to let people rent airbeds on strangers' floors.

He's talking about airbnb here, but what's the other company?

gms(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]


rm445(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

Microsoft maybe?

soneca(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

I believe Microsoft, it started when personal computers were just a niche hobby.

amadeuspagel(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Like many of pg's essays there's an unqualified glorification of being independent. For example the suggestion that hiring conformist people is something that just happens. It seems more likely that companies more or less consciously hire such people, because a company where everyone thinks independently would be one where everyone wants to do something different, and nothing would get done, no one could agree on anything.

Bryan Caplan in his book The Case Against Education suggests that employers value college degrees partly as a signal of conformism, and that that's the reason college is so hard to replace.

(His theory is the college signals three things: Intelligence, discipline and conformism. It would be easy to signal first two things in some other way, but the very fact that you think you know better how to signal them proves that you're some kind of smartass who's inevitably going to cause trouble.)

username90(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Being independent is mostly negative. Prison is full of independent thinkers. However the small share of independent thinkers who actually got many things right are way more valuable than any conventional thinker as it is them who push society forward. Glorifying them is absolutely warranted.

seppel(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> Bryan Caplan in his book The Case Against Education suggests that employers value college degrees partly as a signal of conformism, and that that's the reason college is so hard to replace.

That is such an interesting book that I'm surprised there is any HN discussion about it.

juped(10000) 1 day ago [-]

And certainly, Graham's YC became mostly a finishing school for elite-college grads. The nonconformism talk is easier than the walk.

paulpauper(10000) about 24 hours ago [-]

>Bryan Caplan in his book The Case Against Education suggests that employers value college degrees partly as a signal of conformism, and that that's the reason college is so hard to replace.

I dunno how true this is. I think it is more because it signals above average IQ although I think conformity may play a role too.

Balgair(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

No matter the size of the company, having an unconformist accountant is not going to go well for anyone.

Aside: Michael Munger has a good Econtalk screed on the 5 buildings that a University considers most important here: https://www.econtalk.org/michael-munger-on-the-future-of-hig...

gpsx(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

I think a mix of conformity and independent thinking is important. Conformity is hardwired into us, and I assume that came from evolution as a means to help our survival, though I can't say I understand to what extent. I remember an off hand remark a friend made, but it says a lot: 'If people see someone riding a Segway, they will go and beat him up.' First, I think that is hilarious. Partly because it is true. This says a lot about our nature. Maybe this urge helps us work together? Of course, a certain amount of new thinking is needed too, or else we wouldn't get anywhere.

auganov(10000) about 23 hours ago [-]

> Bryan Caplan in his book The Case Against Education suggests that employers value college degrees partly as a signal of conformism, and that that's the reason college is so hard to replace.

Perhaps, but in high-skill fields most qualified people will be graduates regardless. Whatever you think of college degrees as an employer, most of your employees will have them.

It's not entirely obvious demand for formal education is driven by the industry.

It's tautologically true that college signals conformism since most (in a given field) go. And companies may indeed use it as a signal for conformism (or lack of the opposite). But it doesn't necessarily follow that the industry actively thinks college is uniquely good at creating this signal.

hodgesrm(10000) about 22 hours ago [-]

> Bryan Caplan in his book The Case Against Education suggests that employers value college degrees partly as a signal of conformism, and that that's the reason college is so hard to replace.

Some of the best recruiting advice I ever heard is that college degrees signal you can complete things. Most worthwhile objectives involve a fair amount of drudgery.

hnracer(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I can think of some other reasons why employers value degrees:

1- conventional mindedness, funnily enough. Everyone else has been doing it that way so I should.

2- protecting career risk in case the new hire sucks. You can point to their qualifications and say that anyone would've made that decision

3- 'I have a degree, I'm good, and I subconsciously want to hire people that ticked the same boxes as me'

killtimeatwork(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I also often notice a self-serving conclusion that you should quit your comfy corporate job (and perhaps create a startup?). In this particular essay, it's close to the bottom:

'Is there a way to cultivate curiosity? To start with, you want to avoid situations that suppress it. How much does the work you're currently doing engage your curiosity? If the answer is 'not much,' maybe you should change something.'

fvdessen(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The decrease of independent minded as an organisation grows seems an almost universal phenomenon. It happens to startups yes, but also to forums, bands, fashions, the internet, games, religions, politics, etc.

Basically anything new will target independent minded people, and anything successful will target conventional people. It's sad for the independent minded, but is there anything that can be done about this ?

vgmartin(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Yes, the independently-minded people who created the original organization and the value must refuse to let parasitical people in.

pg cannot use this term in his essays, but it boils down to that, at least in the software space.

In agriculture etc. of course conventional minded people do excellent work and create tremendous value.

inglor_cz(10000) 1 day ago [-]

'anything successful will target conventional people'

Plenty of successful products are useful for both. E-mail, smartphone, Covid vaccine.

PG's idea that outsourcing more conventional activities such as advertisements and PR may preserve the creative core of the company is interesting at least.

Arubis(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

Over the years, I've found PG's essays much less compelling. As some sibling comments here have noted, there's a level of self-assuredness that feels increasingly disconnected from reality, like PG's become a synecdoche of SF VC-fuelled startup culture as a whole. Whether that's him changing, or me, or the world, I'm not certain--but I still look forward to them simply because the ensuing discussions here on HN tend to have some gold in them.

Edit: typo on "synecdoche" (original was "synecdouche," which could be read as clever/juvenile but was simply unintentional).

Also: my original phrasing (which I'll leave intact above for context) was vague; I specifically meant to express that the more recent essays resonate less with me than the older ones once did. I haven't reevaluated the older essays; it's been ages since I went through them.

0x445442(10000) about 18 hours ago [-]

I'm not sure if it's his love of Lisp or what but I've always found his essay on how to write essays to be his best.

np_tedious(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

It's sort of like power of positive thinking / self help book stuff, but for nonconformism and thinking differently. Even if repetitive and sometimes lacking rigor, I'll probably keep reading everything he posts. I could use that influence.

gist(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

> Over the years, I've found PG's essays much less compelling. As some sibling comments here have noted, there's a level of self-assuredness that feels increasingly disconnected from reality

This most likely comes from spending not only a long time but also a large amount of time around 'a certain type of person' more than anything.

Maybe an example is how many people reacted to those workers who delivered packages, food or pumped gas when the pandemic first set in with lock-downs in some states. All the sudden it was as if those people were pure gold in a way that they never even existed or were thought about before (by certain people).

PragmaticPulp(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

> there's a level of self-assuredness that feels increasingly disconnected from reality

There's a unique type of hubris that comes from operating in the startup/VC world for a long period of time. On a long enough timeline, investors and founders alike start to forget that selection bias has shaped their perspective of who is successful. The failed investments and bankrupt startups are quickly forgotten, almost as if they never existed. What's left is a few home run investments and headline startup founders that get to rewrite their history to make their success seem obvious from the start.

It's also a side effect of coaching early startup teams. Startups are hard and often spend more time looking like failures than successes in the early days. Advisers and investors get into a rhythm of praising their founders to rebuild confidence and energize the teams. It's common for investors to tell their companies that they are uniquely talented or exceptional as a way to short-circuit any doubts that their problem space is too hard for anyone to conquer. Spend enough time telling people that they are one in a million, exceptional, and not like the general population and eventually you'll start believing it too.

This essay feels a lot like the advice we received as an early stage startup: It's what we wanted to hear, maybe what we needed to hear to keep going, but it's not necessarily generally true advice that can be applied to all situations. If you're a startup foundering experiencing doubts, this type of writing can provide a kick in the pants that you need to keep going. If you're not in the startup world, it just feels out of touch.

texasbigdata(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

I mean if you're a human and you're trying to generate weekly content or similar, there should be some kind of s-curve in your production function. No one is novel enough to come up with new ideas ad infinitum (sp?). Dudes been writing for how many years?

B1FF_PSUVM(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]


nicholast(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Over time there has been a shift in theme from essays on startups to essays on parenting. I believe this example strongly falls in the latter.

rndmize(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

While I agree (and would describe the issue as a kind of insularity), I find that PG's essays still have a fair amount of value – if I had to put some kind of measure on it, I'd say that for his older ones I found value in 80-90% of a given essay, while the more recent ones like this, it's closer to 40-50%. Using this one as an example, I disagree with many of the assertions in the first section, some in the second, and find the third to be quite solid.

In particular, his take on the nature/nurture aspect of thinking for yourself is something I disagree with. He specifically notes that he got a fair amount of fastidiousness about the truth from his father and cites high school as a bad place for independent-minded people due to social mechanics – both things that I feel point in the other direction.

I'd go so far as to say that most education systems beat the curiosity out of children with great effectiveness and encourage conformism, and given the lack of classes like philosophy and critical thinking, thinking for yourself has become something mostly passed from parents to children because the parents that have it find it important that their children learn it. I don't think there's anything stopping a great portion of the population learning to evaluate information they receive critically, or qualify the quality of their own knowledge – in fact I'd say it's not only possible but becoming essential, as these seeming once-a-generation satanic panics are beginning to tire me out.

jahewson(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

You had me at synecdouche.

pembrook(10000) about 20 hours ago [-]

Your view of PG and SV culture is following the standard sentiment curve. Just like the culture at large.

20 years ago we were the innovative pioneers shaking up the all-powerful old guard, and everybody loves to root for the underdog.

Now we're the new seemingly all-powerful incumbents (look at the top 5 S&P 500 companies right now). Underdogs no longer.

You can see this very clearly in media coverage of Silicon Valley over the past 15 years. Look at Google. It's gone from "Google is our savior and the greatest corporation to ever exist," to "Google is an evil destructive power bent on world domination."

Was either characterization ever true? Of course not. The truth has always been in the middle.

You're seeing what has always been there...But viewing it with an overly critical lens this time, whereas last time you viewed everything overly optimistically.

You're ignoring the good stuff now, when you used to ignore the bad stuff.

spitfire(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

Just so I'm clear on this, how do you pronounce 'synecdouche'?

(745) Tony Hsieh has died

745 points about 10 hours ago by MrMcDowall in 10000th position

www.yahoo.com | Estimated reading time – 4 minutes | comments | anchor

Tony Hsieh, the brilliant and big-hearted Zappos.com luminary who revolutionized the shoe business and built one of the most innovative companies in modern history, has died. He was 46.

Hsieh's family confirmed his death tonight in a text message to friends, noting that Tony's generous spirit touched the lives of countless people and that he left an indelible mark on the world.

Details surrounding Hsieh's passing are unknown.

Hsieh, a serial entrepreneur, co-founded Zappos in 1999 and grew it into a blockbuster business before selling it to Amazon in 2009.

Delivering happiness was the executive's mantra. As he built Zappos, Hsieh's chief goal was to redefine the meaning of company culture. From the beginning, his singular vision set the company apart as a pioneer in footwear e-commerce and corporate America.

Hsieh, who retired and stepped down from the Zappos helm this summer, told FN last year how much the company had evolved since it was founded two decades ago.

"A lot of our growth and innovation moving forward will be based on thinking about what we're in the business of differently," Hsieh told FN last year, when Zappos celebrated its 20th anniversary. "We used to say we're a service company that just happens to sell shoes, and now it's turned into: We're a service company that just happens to sell blank."

The Zappos origin story is a familiar one — Hsieh shared it in his speaking engagements and in the pages of his New York Times best-seller, "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose." And the 100,000-plus visitors who have toured Zappos' headquarters have been regaled with the tale of a fateful phone call.

After Swinmurn latched onto the idea of selling shoes online, he left a voicemail with Hsieh's San Francisco venture capital fund, Venture Frogs, hooking him with one factoid: "It was the fact that 5 percent of a $40 billion shoe business was already being done through mail order," Swinmurn told FN during a 2009 interview. "That was my big statistic. People were already buying shoes without trying them on."

Story continues

Then, after another call to the Nordstrom department store in San Francisco, Fred Mossler eventually jumped on board, and together the new team set out to change the industry.

Zappos was a pioneer in free shipping and returns, and it didn't take long for the concept to take hold as e-commerce took off.

In 2009, Zappos was acquired by online behemoth Amazon.com Inc. for 10 million shares of Amazon stock, which, at the time of the deal, Hsieh said was valued at about $1.2 billion.

While many market watchers celebrated the marriage, they also speculated that the new parent could impose its own culture on the new division. But true to the initial agreement, Zappos has continued to operate separately from Amazon, maintaining its own leadership team and unique character.

Several years into the Amazon partnership, Hsieh launched The Downtown Project, an initiative to revitalize downtown Las Vegas.

The goal, Hsieh explained at FN's 2013 CEO Summit, was to create a neighborhood that is walkable and community-focused. The Downtown Project is even investing in individuals, helping them realize their dreams of starting small businesses. "We are thinking of the city as a startup," he said. "We want it to be the anti-Strip — with bars and coffee shops."

In 2015, the company did away with managers in favor of a form of self-organization called holacracy.

In a blog post at the time, Hsieh wrote, "Like all the bold steps we've done in the past, it feels a little scary, but it also feels like exactly the type of thing that only a company such as Zappos would dare to attempt at this scale."

Since its early days, Zappos has functioned as something of an incubator for testing theories about corporate culture and productivity — long before those ideas became the buzzwords they are today. Much of the credit for that lies with Hsieh.

More from Footwear News

Sign up for FN's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

cantrevealname(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Cause of death should be standard information when someone has passed away. If we're not supposed to talk about cause of death, then why should the age be mentioned? Why should the location where the person passed away be said? Why include next of kin -- surely that's completely irrelevant unless you are part of the family? Every single Wikipedia entry for a person who isn't living gives cause of death. If it's so bad to talk about causes, then why isn't Wikipedia being criticized for this? We need to get over this taboo. It is not gossip. It is relevant and important information.

homero(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Yeah every announcement keeps it a secret. I hate it. I find it disrespectful to us. We are fans and loved him but no we're not good enough to know why.

dvt(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

A whole slew of reasons, but mostly because it's private, sensitive, and could have legal implications (in the cases of foul play, for example). I'm not sure what Wikipedia has to do with anything, as it's never been the arbiter of social norms, legal procedures, or even common decency -- much like reddit, its army of online sleuths often gets facts painfully wrong (sometimes with dire consequences).

wdr1(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Cause of death is public information, for reasons of public health. It's just not known yet.

That said, now isn't the time. Let people grieve. There will be time for questions later.

tomhoward(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

This is terribly sad news.

I saw Tony speak at YC Startup School in 2009, and his talk stuck with me far more than any other that day.

It was exciting and inspiring to hear that you could build a company that was sincere about being good to its employees and customers whilst also being large and commercially successful, and that's influenced how I've gone about trying to build products and businesses ever since.

I haven't managed a big success that accomplishes this yet, but if I ever manage to do it, it will be in no small part thanks to Tony.

Thanks and blessings to Tony, and love and strength to his family and friends.

Alex3917(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

He talked to me for quite a while when I met him at one of his book launch events, around the same time. I asked him what he thought of my startup (at the time), and he said he didn't like it because it relied on being able to keep certain information secret, but that the world was only going toward more and more transparency. He said it was essentially betting against the mega trend. A difficult lesson at the time, but definitely some of the best advice I've ever gotten, and something that's been permanently added to my collection of mental models.

JumpCrisscross(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

He spoke at my backwater state university. And then had lunch with a few of us misfits. It gave me a kick in the rear to persevere, despite my perceived station, and in no small way contributed to my later start-up, exit and success. Terrifically sad news.

adi2907(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Really sad , I remember when I was setting up Myntra (Indian zappos) customer experience department, Tony and his book were a huge influence and everything that we did was measured up with the zappos way of customer experience. We were one of the few large companies having in house call centre with a five day week and training period of one month to all customer cate executives, plus a mandatory call listening session once a quarter for all senior leadership.

There are still some question marks on the ROI of trying to ensure customer delight especially via call center since discounts are such a huge factor in buying shoes and clothes online that even an NPS of 60 will not help if you don't price lower especially for the value conscious Indian buyer however he definitely brought a new dimension of thinking for a lot of customer care folks

adi2907(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

Here's a post on how he influenced companies halfway across the globe https://helloworld-adi.medium.com/delivering-happiness-an-ev...

skrebbel(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

> There are still some question marks on the ROI

How did you solve this in practice?

marcbarbosa(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

In 2008 I was consuming as much entrepenuriship content I could (while building my first company). For obvious reasons I ended up watching a Tony's presentation. He was sharing a lot of stories about Zappos and in the end he talked about their Culture Book (a book entirely written by Zappos employees, with no editing).

Immediately after watch it I sent an email directly for him (at the time a CEO of a company that would be sold to Amazon for 1.2B 8 months after) asking if I could have a digital version of the book since I was living in Brazil. For my complete surprise I received a response in less than 1 hour just asking for my address. One day after I received a physical copy of the book, signed by the very own Tony Hsieh. He even invited me to visit Zappos offices if I ever were in Las Vegas!

Today I woke up with this sad news. Definitely, a huge loss to the world. I'm sure you'll always be an inspiration to many.

Rest in peace Tony Hsieh, A big fan

marcusziade(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

Beautiful words. Thanks for sharing.

Froggymano(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

Are the circumstances suspicious or is there nothing to worry about here? So sad and sorry for your loss.

paulsutter(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

While Zappos was bought for $1.2B, that was in AMZN stock that's now up 32x since November 2009

dvt(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

This is crazy, he's a veritable legend (and so young). RIP. My condolences go out to his friends and family. Maybe related to his stepping down 3 months ago[1]?

My comment from that 3-month-old thread, regarding Hsieh: From 2015-2017, I worked at Edmunds.com which was (to put it lightly) a bit obsessed with 'Delivering Happiness' and Zappos' culture. So much so, that the leadership team visited Vegas to get a tour of the Zappos HQ (this was before I joined). But Edmunds based their entire cultural approach, including hiring, interviewing, and onboarding on Zappos.

The Edmunds onboarding experience has been by far the best out of any company I worked at. Sure, it was silly games and scavenger hunts that didn't really have anything to do with 'work,' but I look back at the entire experience with a lot of nostalgia. I loved the onboarding so much, I've been contemplating doing a startup that literally just focuses on improving cultural onborading at companies. It made my first few months at Edmunds not only incredibly productive, but also intellectually and socially stimulating.

And they were doing something right. Over there, I had the honor of working with one of the best managers I ever had (he's now at Amazon), and with one of the best software architects I've ever worked with (he's now at Facebook). My team was made up of motivated, smart, folks from all walks of life (recent grads to data science PhD's in their 50s). I still keep in touch with my old team even though we're spread all over these days: doing our own startups, at Facebook, Uber, Amazon, and beyond.

I have the utmost respect for the cultural revolution that entrepreneurs like Tony Hsieh brought to the fore. People that call it a 'cult' are missing the point. It's no more a cult than cheering for your school mascot or being in a club. We seem to forget that people are inherently social and need a sense of belonging.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24268522

dclusin(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

What sticks out to me in your comment is that in spite of all your nice words about their culture, the nicest/best people you worked with still left for other companies. I suspect it was probably a 20% pay raise that convinced them to.

Beldin(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

> It's no more a cult than cheering for your school mascot

To just react to this part: from the perspective of someone growing up in a country without school mascots or inter-school sports competitions, the whole US treatment of school sport teams and their mascots (or, at least, their depiction in media) is rather cultish behaviour.

smt88(10000) about 1 hour ago [-]

> Maybe related to his stepping down 3 months ago

The cause of death has been released. He died in a house fire.

soperj(10000) about 7 hours ago [-]

>Maybe related to his stepping down 3 months ago

He died from injuries related to a house fire. So likely not.

nodoodles(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

Where could I learn more about the onboarding practices? Sounds super interesting!

ed25519FUUU(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

When a prominent person in their 40s dies and there's no information released as to the cause of death, it's always a challenge not to make assumptions.

sneak(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

I've never understood or been able to relate to the seemingly common intense curiosity as to cause-of-death. Is it related to the desire to fit names we know into a narrative structure that lets us reason about them as entities? It seems like an irrelevant detail, to me personally.

jrpt(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

What would the assumption be? Honestly I have no idea what you're implying.

oh_sigh(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Okay - so is your implication that he is some kind of failure if he struggled with depression and committed suicide?

nkingsy(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Possibly a fire? Take it with a few grains of salt.


e0(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

I did not find it hard to not make assumptions. Perhaps it's your approach to life that needs examining?

nate(10000) about 2 hours ago [-]

In 2013, Tony invited me and other entrepreneurs to Vegas to give us his tour of what he and his team were doing to the Downtown area to revive it. It was amazing. But what really has always stuck with me is how fresh Tony's ideas and thinking were. He looked past a ton of criticism and naysayers to see his new ideas come to life. Tony had the courage to try new thing after new thing. Often with great results. I've been back to the downtown area of Las Vegas, and the impact he's had, whether it perfectly met his vision or not, has been remarkably improved. It's 100 times safer. Employs a ton of people for non-gambling related things. And is a huge net improvement. I'm at a loss this morning. I didn't know Tony very well, but the few convos I've had with him left me inspired to learn about something new or look at something differently. He was incredibly generous with his time and resources. I encourage all of you to go deep into the legacy Tony left behind. There's important lessons and advice all over his work and life.

xoxoy(10000) 22 minutes ago [-]

I'm a little disheartened by how much e-commerce has changed for the worst since the Zappos heydays, and how the most successful cos now often employ anti-consumer dark patterns and tactics to squeeze more revenue and profits all while limiting investment in customer service.

Wayfair at a $30B market cap comes to mind...dropships almost everything eg zero control of inventory and shipping times, dynamic pricing and fake discounts makes it difficult to know if you're getting a good deal, customer service very inconsistent, returns not free, etc.

bmmayer1(10000) 21 minutes ago [-]

I was on this tour as well (Nate -- that's where we met!) and really enjoyed it. He was so busy with his company and his development project, but he still seemed to have infinite time for us scrappy entrepreneurs. We had a tour of downtown LV and his apartment, lunch and dinner with Tony and we got a deep dive into a lot of his visionary ideas, even ones that didn't really make sense to me (I fondly remember a brief argument I had with him about the merits of holacracy vs traditional company hierarchies). You have to admire someone who can think out of the box all of the time. Some of his ideas didn't work, but he was always willing to experiment, and the ideas that did work will have a lasting impact. I learned so much from Tony in that short time about urban development, real estate, customer happiness, the entrepreneurial spirit, and even the finer details of Nevada gaming licenses.

Thank you, Tony. You are a real loss to the world. RIP.

spoonalious(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

Died from a house fire. Terrible way to go.

Source: https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/tony-hsieh-key-figure...

xiphias2(10000) about 5 hours ago [-]

,,due to complications from injuries sustained in a house fire."

Wow, I don't want to think about how painful it must have been :(

frays(10000) about 3 hours ago [-]

Thank you for sharing. 5 hours ago all news reports were unable to share the cause behind his death.

Very sad news. Downtown Las Vegas is the place it is today thanks to him. Rest in peace.

kozak(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

It's 2020, people talk a lot about self-driving cars and travelling to Mars, and yet such terrible preventable tragedies still happen even in successfull countries to successful people. So sad.

stevenj(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

Las Vegas Review-Journal says he "died Friday after being injured in a house fire."


sebmellen(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

> due to complications from injuries sustained in a house fire

Sounds like a very painful way to go... I wonder if we'll get any more details in the coming days.

EDIT: He passed away in Connecticut, see child comments.

Vekz(10000) about 10 hours ago [-]

Huge loss. His book Delivering Happiness is a must read for any entrepreneur.

egfx(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

Very surprised and sad to hear this. I mentioned this here before but it's worth going for the self narrated audio version as his book is best told in his own voice. It's one of the only few business books and business stories Iv'e read that iv'e found truly inspiring.

rdl(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

The Zappos website now has a Steve Jobs-like tribute on the first page (as well as a banner), which seems appropriate given how amazing Hsieh has been (not merely founding Zappos, but the renewal of DT Las Vegas, plus cool stuff he did back in SF before Zappos -- the 1000 Van Ness place was quirky and awesome.) A really amazing person.

turntothesky(10000) about 8 hours ago [-]

I knew I remembered him at 1000 Van Ness! I never made it to any of those parties, sadly.

vaxman(10000) about 4 hours ago [-]

Sorry for your loss, but there were numerous avoidable deaths associated with his VC activity, which is unacceptable.

We don't need anymore developers ruining their lives and kidneys working shoulder to shoulder out of bars equipped with 300Mb WiFi making JS apps that create very little value for society beyond improving the real estate values around the bars themselves, even as they sink deeper into depression, bankruptcy and many times Hsiehicide. One would think after the first death, he would have formed a company that ran around hiring them all (even sending some that were too far gone upstairs back to their parents) to provide some sort of a safety net for his real estate activities, but that was never the priority. The old guard in Vegas that (once upon a time) gave Howard Hughes "the business" too was so thrilled to meet Tony Hsieh —-and his endless new supply of self-destructing laptop tourists. Just like Hughes, Hsieh started the ball rolling and I think last month Downtown Las Vegas opened the first of what will be many all-new resorts in that hell hole of lost souls in many decades.

Rebelgecko(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

I first learned about him (and Zappos) from a blog post about the In-N-Out 100x100 burger: http://whatupwilly.blogspot.com/2006/01/in-n-out-100x100.htm...

hauget(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

46. RIP.

'Let us prepare our minds as if we'd come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life's books each day. ... The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time." - Seneca

whoisninja(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]


dogbox(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

Nice to see some Stoic Memento Mori here. I'm actually currently going through Seneca's Dialogues and Essays.

rmk(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

How does one accomplish a semblance of this? Has someone tried and written down what worked (or did not work)?

I'd love to read up more on this.

spodek(10000) about 2 hours ago [-]

"Zhuangzi's wife died. When Huizu went to convey his condolences, he found Zhuangzi sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. 'You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,' said Huizu. 'It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singing - this is going too far, isn't it?'

Zhuangzi said, 'You're wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn't grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there's been another change and she's dead. It's just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.

'Now she's going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don't understand anything about fate. So I stopped."


nostromo(10000) about 9 hours ago [-]

"Live each day like it's your last."

"Live like you'll never die."

The more I think about these two sentiments, the more I think the more popular one is bad advice, and the less popular one is good advice.

nodoodles(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

Where could I learn more about the onboarding practices? Sounds super interesting!

nodoodles(10000) about 6 hours ago [-]

.. and this was supposed to be a comment on another thread..

Historical Discussions: Another free CA as an alternative to Let's Encrypt (November 23, 2020: 727 points)

(730) Another free CA as an alternative to Let's Encrypt

730 points 5 days ago by c0r0n3r in 10000th position

scotthelme.co.uk | Estimated reading time – 3 minutes | comments | anchor

Let's Encrypt is an amazing organisation doing an amazing thing by providing certificates at scale, for free. The problem though was that they were the only such organisation for a long time, but I'm glad to say that the ecosystem is changing.

It's always a good idea to have another option

Back in Jan 2019 I wrote about Having a backup CA for Let's Encrypt and showed how easy it was to take a variety of ACME based tools that used Let's Encrypt as a default provider and point them at Buypass, another independent CA offering certificates for free. They provide the same 90 day certificates as Let's Encrypt and it was a simple as changing the API address from https://acme-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory to https://api.buypass.com/acme/directory. Today, I'm glad to say that another CA is entering the mix in offering free, 90 day certificates via an ACME compliant API that is just as easy to use.

ZeroSSL offering free certs via ACME

ZeroSSL.com is now joining the (sadly) very small group of awesome CAs giving away free, 90-day certs via ACME.

One of the tools that I use, acme.sh, already has support for issuing certs from ZeroSSL so it was super easy to get started using them.

acme.sh --register-account -m [email protected] --server zerossl

Now you're ready to issue a certificate!

acme.sh --issue --dns dns_cf -d zerossltest.scotthelme.co.uk --server zerossl

That's it! Here's the certificate I got:


crt.sh link

Continuing growth

As I said before, Let's Encrypt are an awesome organisation doing an awesome thing and that's reflected in the sheer number of people using them. Having more CAs support ACME in this way is not about stopping using Let's Encrypt, it's about having more diversity in the ecosystem and making it more reliable. Let's Encrypt could have a busy day, they could have some downtime, or heck, in some disaster scenario, maybe they could cease operations! No matter what happens, and even if it never happens, I think it's always best to have options, and this is what ZeroSSL and Buypass now provide. It gives me more confidence to be able move infrastructure to depend on acquiring certificates via these mechanisms when there is no longer a single point of failure. Also consider just how easy it is to switch CA, which can be a nightmare task and if you've ever had to do it before you'll know what I mean. Providing certificates via ACME does not mean giving away free certificates either, you can still pay for them so other CAs really have no reason to not do this and I look forward to more CAs offering ACME endpoints in the future.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

CyanLite2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Wanted: free CA that offers longer than 90 day certs

francislavoie(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Shorter lifetimes are better. There's really no valid reason to make them longer. Upgrade your tooling to automate renewals, and it's no longer a problem.

yreg(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Apple already distrusts certs older than 398 days[0], no matter what the issuer says. I can see this lifespan only decreasing.

[0] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT211025

theandrewbailey(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why? Changing web server certs/keys should be painless.

mholt(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Here is a maintained list of all known, public ACME endpoints: https://docs.https.dev/list-of-acme-servers

In Caddy 2.3, Caddy [1] will default to both Let's Encrypt and ZeroSSL [2]. If it can't get a cert from one, it will try the other. You can configure more too, including self-signed certs, as a last fallback for example. Caddy will be the first web server and ACME client to support multi-issuer fallback. (Pre-releases coming soon, or you can build from source and try it today.)

ZeroSSL's website is being updated to clarify that certs are free and unlimited through ACME. You can even view them in your ZeroSSL dashboard.

[1]: https://caddyserver.com

[2]: https://github.com/caddyserver/caddy/pull/3862

linsomniac(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I've been using Caddy on some personal and community sites for around a year and it's worked out just great! The built in certificate management has been so nice compared to having to manage external letsencrypt tooling.

More recently I set up a VM at work to be a domain redirector for a bunch of typo domains to our main domains, since the old outsourced redirectors didn't have TLS, and it was dead simple!

bxk1(10000) 5 days ago [-]

For anyone else wondering why they use ZeroSSL as a fallback:

'Caddy has been acquired by the company behind ZeroSSL'

dr_faustus(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Thank you so much for Caddy and open sourcing it completely. Every few years there comes a piece of software that really opens ones eyes how overcomplicated life was before. Caddy is absolutely one of those.

miniyarov(10000) 4 days ago [-]

At ZudVPN (https://zudvpn.com) we use Caddy to retrieve certificates for subdomain.zudvpn.com where they are later used for VPN connections instead of web server. This makes us be able to issue personal VPNs secured with SSL/TLS on any major Cloud Providers. I would thank both Caddy and Let's Encrypt that opens endless opportunities around secure connection.

geocrasher(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Another player in this market is Sectigo. They are providing cPanel branded free SSL certificates to cPanel servers. Some hosts have switched to these because of API rate limiting done by Let's Encrypt. Mind you, it's specific to cPanel (a web hosting control panel) but that is a giant market.

mholt(10000) 5 days ago [-]

ZeroSSL is a Sectigo reseller.

swiley(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The only time I've ever had a machine owned was through a borken cPanel installation our professor forced on us.

I'm still not sure what it does that I couldn't do with a normal ssh session.

lambda_obrien(10000) 5 days ago [-]

How do these services make money?

edit: thanks for the replies!

toomuchtodo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Let's Encrypt is a non profit funded by donors, other vendors sell value add services (the free SSL cert is marketing/a loss leader).

More options are good, Let's Encrypt is mandatory to ensure good (or non predatory or oligopoly) behavior by other cert providers. It's a check on their power.

abcleb(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Do they sell the private keys to the NSA? Maybe not. It is an effort by many companies and groups to make the web more secure.

brunoluiz(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Let's encrypt is not run for profit, and is sponsored by many companies.

https://letsencrypt.org/about/ https://www.abetterinternet.org/

0df8dkdf(10000) 5 days ago [-]

well when you are service that has to rely on them to renew your site every 90 days, the data alone from different site is worth money.

" The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data." ~The Economist, May 6, 2017

certera(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Why not just use Let's Encrypt? ZeroSSL comes with significant advantages compared to Let's Encrypt, including access to a fully-featured SSL management console, an REST API for SSL management, SSL monitoring, and more.

This is where I shamelessly plug my project, Certera: https://docs.certera.io

I love LE, like really really love it. I was surprised to hear that certs were going from 2 to 1 year expiration and that made me really pause for a second to think about the lack of proper infrastructure around certificates, especially LE certs. I envision these short lived certs from LE/ZeroSSL needing some of the components that ZeroSSL mentioned above and much, much more. Eventually, if/when we have 1 week/1 day cert expirations, we'll need a certificate exchange system to better handle complex scenarios where other parties are involved (i.e. when doing client certs, SAML certs, etc.).

ryan29(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I've looked at setting that up for my home lab a few times and when reading the docs I always get hung up on one thing. How do I retrieve certificates on my servers? Do I have to use the Certera API for that?

What I'd like to have is an ACME compatible endpoint so I can change the ACME endpoint in my Traefik config to `https://acme.certera.example.com` and not have to make any other significant changes.

Basically I'd like to have an ACME proxy with a dashboard like Certera.

unixhero(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why is this needed? Genuinely curious.

the8472(10000) 5 days ago [-]

eggs, when the basket fell

jamescun(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Probably just an oversight, but I find it odd their (ZeroSSL) site does not use a certificate issued by their own CA, it is instead one of CloudFlare's SNI certificates.

mholt(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This is common for sites that are behind a TLS-terminating CDN. (They could still be using one between their origin and Cloudflare.)

In general it doesn't matter who issues the certificate as long as they're trusted.

cordite(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This links to ZeroSSL.

They only offer 3 domains for free on their pricing page.


jakobmartz3(10000) 5 days ago [-]

only 3???

mholt(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Their pricing page is being revised. You get free unlimited certs through ACME, including wildcards.

> In an effort to ensure the widest possible SSL certificate coverage around the world, our team has decided to keep all ZeroSSL certificates created using the ACME protocol completely free of charge.


richardwhiuk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Plus no wildcard support (which Let's Encrypt provides).

They say 'No REST API access' - but presumably ACME does work?

surround(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It says "no credit card required." Can they stop people from making multiple accounts and getting unlimited certificates?

analyte123(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's good that there are alternatives, particularly those that are outside the scope of US law, where at least some CAs believe certificates can be revoked for copyright reasons [1]. Let's Encrypt says they can revoke your cert if 'our Certificate is being used, or has been used, to enable any criminal activity...[or] ISRG is legally required to revoke Your Certificate pursuant to a valid court order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction' [2]. But I'm sure Austria where ZeroSSL is based is still party to a number of copyright conventions and law enforcement data sharing agreements.

[1] https://torrentfreak.com/sci-hub-pirate-bay-for-science-secu... [2] https://letsencrypt.org/documents/LE-SA-v1.2-November-15-201...

gsich(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Buypass is Norwegian.

DyslexicAtheist(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> But I'm sure Austria where ZeroSSL is based is still party to a number of copyright conventions and law enforcement data sharing agreements.

it is!! in recent news: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25091994

jeremiahlee(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Now, one of them just needs to provide certs for .onion domains.

SalimoS(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Isn't the hash ( before the . Onion) is the public key ?

So technically we don't need a cert for onion

tashian(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The ACME protocol (used by Let's Encrypt / ZeroSSL) can be used with internal infrastructure, too. I know that some folks already use Let's Encrypt to issue internal TLS certificates, but that's not always ideal. Step CA[1] is an ACME v2-compliant, open source CA that supports all of the challenge types as Let's Encrypt / ZeroSSL.

[1]: https://github.com/smallstep/certificates/

tialaramex(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Note that this only really makes sense if you're using tooling that already came with ACME support, and so this drops in easily. I guess that's becoming pretty common though.

Older tools might support technologies like SCEP but not ACME. These older protocols can't be used (on their own) to get certificates trusted in the Web PKI because the whole point of ACME is to do the proof-of-control step needed to get those certificates. But in your private PKI you likely don't need or even want that feature.

I guess it can make sense for new software that is at least sometimes for public access to just do ACME, but it does feel like maybe Smallstep should have a legacy SCEP mechanism available. I see there is a GitHub ticket for that so no need to raise it again.

francislavoie(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Caddy actually ships with smallstep CA built in, and can act as an ACME server for mTLS. https://caddyserver.com/docs/caddyfile/directives/acme_serve... You can have Caddy instances that act as ACME clients to one that acts as the ACME server and load balancer. Read more about using it here: https://caddy.community/t/what-does-embedded-acme-server-do/...

freedomben(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Nice, thanks for the tip! I've needed something like this a few times the last few months and knew there had to be something out there I was missing. This looks awesome.

peterwwillis(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Brings up an interesting question: Why do we need a Let's Encrypt to issue a TLS certificate? At what point can we stop using them?

PKI in a nutshell: the CA signs your CSR which was created with your private key; the CA gives you a cert based on your CSR; you show random people a website using your private key + CA-signed cert; random person's browser trusts your private key+CA-signed cert content because their browser trusts the CA-signed stuff implicitly.

Why we need more than 1 of them: in case one of them goes down and so we can't get new certs; in case one gets compromised and the browser revokes their trusted CA cert; diversity of 'features'.

What could we do instead of this process?

Idea 1: the registry becomes the CA.


To get a cert, you have to prove you are allowed to have it. Currently that almost always involves proving that you currently control the IP space that is pointed to by a DNS record. There are other verification methods which are somewhat more problematic than this, but this is the simplest method. And if you can find one single CA which will create you a cert if you can do this, that means that if anyone can do it, they can get a cert. Meaning that this verification method is the minimum security barrier for getting a valid cert.

How can an attacker to subvert this process to generate a valid cert for any domain?

Options: 1) Take over the domain, by hacking the domain's account at the registrar. 2) MITM the registrar, such that updates to the registry's NS end up controlled by the attacker. 3) Take over the domain, by hacking one of the domain's nameservers. 4) Perform a DNS hijack, such as cache poisoning, so when the CA looks up your domain to find the IP space, you return attacker IP space. 5) Perform a BGP hijack so when the CA tries to connect to the IP space, it connects to attacker-controlled IP space. 6) Plenty of others based on other validation methods such as DNS record alone, HTTP [no S] content, a pre-configured list of e-mails for a domain, etc.

How to prevent all but one of these attacks?

Option A: Make the registrar the CA. The registrar would simply request the user use an HTTPS API to request a new cert, using an API token generated by the login for the domain's account. The only way for an attacker to generate a cert at that point is to either hack the registrar account, or hack the customer's server to get the API token (basically the same impact as if they compromised the customer's web server).

The browsers would trust the registrars who would follow the exact same stringent guidelines that CAs use today. The difference to the end-user is the CA is run by the registrar.

Option B: The registrar and the CAs stay independent, but they use a standard secure protocol to authorize signing of certs using a customer API token. Same benefits, but an extra hop. Browsers continue working as before, users use an HTTPS API to the CA to generate the certs.

With either options A or B, there's no more stupid hoops to jump through just to prove you own the domain and thus deserve a certificate.

dlgeek(10000) 4 days ago [-]

What you're describing is called 'DANE' - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNS-based_Authentication_of_Na...

stephenr(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's been mentioned zerossl is a reseller for "sectigo", which is the new name for Comodo.

Comodo are the bunch of cunts who tried to trademark "let's encrypt". There's zero reason to give them any market share or business.

1MachineElf(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Thanks, I wasn't aware of ZeroSSL's history there. Are there any links you can share about that fiasco?

quesera(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Comodo are the bunch of cunts

Ugh, surely you're aware of how poorly that word, as an epithet, lands for most of the English-speaking population.

Your message is worth hearing. It will be lost if you can't communicate it well.

surround(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Unlike LetsEncrypt, it supports certificates for IP addresses, which is nice for hobbyists who don't want to buy a domain.

chaz6(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I really wish ESNI used certs for IP addresses instead of relying on a DNS hack. It could do onion-style security with the outer handshake protected by the IP address cert, and the inner layer protected by the domain name cert.

scaladev(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why would you necessarily buy a domain? I use lots of free domains in .tk and .cf, they work great.


For frequently changing IPs there are also services like


which provide you with a third-level domain like xyz.duckdns.org

carbocation(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I have one domain that is shared by all of my projects, which sit on subdomains. It's a happy in-between for me.

afarviral(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Woohoo, that's just what I was looking for.

dheera(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's usually harder to buy a static IP than a domain ...

Historical Discussions: WhiteHat Jr's founder files $2.6M defamation suit against critic (November 22, 2020: 688 points)
Indian startup WhiteHat Jr's founder files $2.6M defamation suit against critic (November 22, 2020: 5 points)

(690) WhiteHat Jr's founder files $2.6M defamation suit against critic

690 points 6 days ago by villgax in 10000th position

techcrunch.com | Estimated reading time – 5 minutes | comments | anchor

Karan Bajaj, an Indian entrepreneur who teaches meditation and in his recent book invites others to live a life away from the noise, is going after the most vocal critics of his startup.

Bajaj, founder of coding platform WhiteHat Jr, has filed a defamation case against Pradeep Poonia, an engineer who has publicly criticized the firm for its marketing tactics, the quality of the courses on the platform, and aggressive takedowns of such feedback. On Monday, WhiteHat Jr, filed a similar case against Aniruddha Malpani, an investor who has shared unflattering feedback about the startup.

Most of the customers of WhiteHat Jr, which is aimed at kids, live in America, and demand for its one-to-one classes has surged nearly 90% this year, according to the startup.

In the lawsuit against Poonia — in which Bajaj (pictured left above) is seeking $2.7 million in damages — Poonia has been accused of infringing trademarks and copyright of properties owned by WhiteHat Jr, defaming and spreading misleading information about the startup and its founder, and accessing the company's private communications app.

The lawsuit also accuses Poonia of publicly sharing phone numbers of WhiteHat Jr employees and making strong accusations such as likening the startup's marketing tactics to "child sexual abuse."

The lawyers further claim that Poonia recorded sessions of some classes conducted by WhiteHat Jr, asked questions that were not relevant to the course with the "humiliate and harass" the teachers and then posted them online.

"As some of the one-on-one communications between the Plaintiffs' teachers and the Defendant have demonstrated, the former have felt extremely threatened and harassed by the Defendant which is even more pertinent given that the Plaintiffs' entire workforce of 11,000 teachers is female," the suit says.

"The Defendant's activities have critically affected the Plaintiffs' business and resulted in loss of its goodwill and reputation, and the confidence of its customers in its business. It is submitted that as a consequence of the Defendant's tweets, Plaintiffs have suffered a steep dip in the conversion rate from trial classes to actual registrations which has severely affected revenue its revenue."

But the lawsuit, riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, appears to be also indicative of just how little criticism WhiteHat Jr, owned by India's second most valuable startup Byju's, is willing to accept.

According to internal posts of a Slack channel of WhiteHat Jr shared by Poonia, the startup has aggressively used copyright protection to take down numerous unflattering feedback about the startup in recent months.

The suit also raises concern with Poonia accusing WhiteHat Jr of "murdering" an imaginary kid that featured in one of its earlier ads.

A 12-year-old child named "Wolf Gupta" appeared in earlier ads of WhiteHat Jr, which claimed that the kid had landed a lucrative job at Google. The kid does not exist, the lawyers of Bajaj say in the suit. Ironically that was also the argument Poonia, who spent a long time trying to unearth more information about this supposed poster child of WhiteHat Jr, was making in his tweets.

In its second lawsuit, the startup alleges that Malpani has been critical of WhiteHat Jr because he is an investor in rival platforms Bibox Labs, Multibhashi and ConceptOwl. (They don't appear to be rivals.) The startup is seeking damages of about $1.9 million from Malpani.

"We didn't want to go to court. Startups require intense, singular focus with no distraction. But false, unethical attacks, including attempts to breach into company servers & defame women teachers, severely impacted employees & teachers daily. News cycles turned against us because negative stories are far more sensational than the truth," Bajaj wrote in a LinkedIn post Monday.

"The truth is that WhiteHat Jr grew rapidly worldwide because the curriculum was not only effective but also wildly creative for kids and the teachers from India gave their heart & souls to teaching them. We've made mistakes while growing up. Our marketing campaigns were poorly designed, which we changed. Legitimate, honest fact-based criticism is truly welcome. Blitzscaling is hard.Fires burn all over. Keep giving us feedback to improve. But lies and illegal breaches damage real lives & take no one forward."

Scores of education startups in India have reported skyrocketing growth in recent months as schools remain shut across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. Byju's is the most valuable edtech startup in the world with a roster of marquee backers including Bond.

Even as most Indians tend not to pay for online services — just ask Facebook, which has amassed over 400 million users in India and makes little in the country — the education category is an outlier. Indian families continue to spend heavily on their children's education in hopes of paving the way for a better future.

Further reading:

Rage against the machine: behind Byju's swift silencing of dissent (The Ken)

India's WhiteHat Jr is startup hell (The Morning Context)

WhiteHat Jr and the curious case of disappearing dissent (Forbes India)

Advertising body asks WhiteHat Jr to pull down ads (Forbes India)

The story was updated at 2.30pm IST on Monday to add details about the second lawsuit.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

soumyadeb(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Founders, hiring managers in this group can play a big role in stopping this fraud. Maybe we should publicly call out WhieHat Jr in our job postings? A single statement like 'A degree from WhiteJat Jr. won't impact your chances of getting hired' can go a long way.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yep, simple steps like this would ensure children & parents don't buy into this false sense of securing someone's future with some random course.

dang(10000) 6 days ago [-]

All: https://www.forbesindia.com/article/take-one-big-story-of-th... is a bit older and has more background. There was also a smaller thread about it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24867212

(Submitted URL was https://nextbigwhat.com/whitehatjr-files-20-cr-defamation-ca... but it contains no extra info. More explanation at bottom of this page: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25176990.)

2Gkashmiri(10000) 6 days ago [-]

if push comes to shove, i will contribute for this guys legal defense. who else is in?

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

r/India & me too

rainingcatndogs(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Their videos got removed from LBRY as well: https://old.reddit.com/r/india/comments/jsuows/all_my_videos... I had no surprise when I heard youtube suspended him. But I'm very dissapointed that a platform like LBRY, marketing itself as a censorship-resistant youtube alternative(https://lbry.com/faq/censorship-resistance) deleted a whole bunch of videos which were clearly fair use and for public good.

avadhesh18(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I still can't figure out how they got lbry to remove the videos.

bzb6(10000) 6 days ago [-]

In a place as corrupt as India it's likely they'll win.

shi314(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Even Gambling has become legalised in courts by these StartUps and VCs.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah they got acquired by Byju's(Disney collaboration) for $300mn, so their PR/Legal team has no bounds.

mangamadaiyan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'd love for them to lose, but unfortunately reality leans in the direction you've indicated.

merricksb(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This seems like the most complete/current report on the topic:


Anyone know of anything better?

anotherNae(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> WhiteHat Jr's advertisements concerning an imaginary child "Wolf Gupta", a teen who landed a job in Google

Lawyers of HN, does this not backfire in legal settings for false advertising? They are literally accepting lying

lubna1210(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I had reached out to white hat junior as a volunteer to teach kids and share the knowledge I acquired through my education and work experience. I explicitly mentioned to them that I'm not looking for a salary. I have a stable job and free time to help upskill children who cannot afford a fee. A little background : I used to teach in India (for about 8 years along with my core job) but having moved to a new country, commuting became a little difficult and I gave it up. With an online platform such as white hat jr., I thought this would be really convenient for me and helpful for children.

And here is how they responded : only if you commit to 30 hours a week, can we onboard you because other teachers are competing.. This was obviously not possible for me, as I already have a job. My argument was - I am an experienced teacher, with 9+ years in the IT industry. And I don't even want money for my services, just be flexible to maybe 15-20 hours a week. This kept going on for a while, and then I realized that their cause is not to educate but make money. So I gave up.

TMisra(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Are you now teaching in any form online?Would like to know .

villgax(10000) 5 days ago [-]

One aspect of their hiring seems to be just hiring housewives who want to have a side job, which allows the company to keep paying low & also to brag about the same whilst undermining actual experience or knowledge about the courses. Which was exposed by parents & the reviewer by the quality of classes, not to mention laughable tweets of the children putting up some random app on the app stores.

tempstar(10000) 6 days ago [-]

They are the biggest scam in India capitalizing on FOMO of Indian parents. They charge heaftily (more than $2000) to teach app development (using Scratch, Firebase etc.). Their staff is poorly paid and just reads off scripts. Their staff doesn't know even the basics of CS (as evidenced in this video: https://youtu.be/1Y21eSn_zSM?t=64, when the student asks how files are stored in Cloud Storage, she says the files are stored in real clouds. There's another where the teacher can't tell the difference between Java and Javascript)

Their ads are highly misleading and straight up false with made up names of students who earned millions of dollars in salary while their fellow peers are playing Cricket. (https://in.news.yahoo.com/wolf-gupta-byju-whitehat-jr-090945...). You can imagine the effect this will have parents (especially in India where parents are known be super competitive).

This guy, Pradeep Poonia, has been actively campaigning against them. His youtube channels were taken down, Quora account was taken down, Twitter, even Reddit (if i'm not wrong). His current youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdv4_YNXrIQtGHSVXnY-1mg) has lot of videos on this.

He especially has a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN1DOE7GoYw) where he accessed their internal slack (shady I know, but even Whitehat Jr is also not playing fair) and showed their organized effort into suppressing online dissent by fake twitter accounts, trolling etc.

WhiteHatJr was recently acquired by another firm Byju's (whose CEO is the plaintiff in this lawsuit) that also does the same thing, but for entire school curriculum.

In a world, where there is Khan Academy, they sell their subpar product at a very high price, exploiting Indian parents' ignorance and willingness to do anything for their kids education.

chrismorgan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> she says the files are stored in real clouds

I have fond memories of a visit to a children's hostel in Hyderabad, India in 2006, and a rote answer they were taught in their textbooks:

"Why is a computer called a number cruncher?"

"A computer is called a number cruncher because it crunches numbers with its teeth."

Dad took the children to the office where there was a computer and showed them that it had no teeth.

I'm glad to say that the children don't go to that school any more, and that I haven't found such egregious errors in textbooks for any subject more recently (I'm over there again at present), and there is less rote in their education than there was, though still more than is ideal as it's hard when the teachers and students are all used to that method.

higerordermap(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah I am from India. I think we could have guessed this is the ultimate stage of IIT JEE rat race that's getting more and more aggressive over some years.

While I don't subscribe to all ideologies of socialism, I can only think of free high-quality education by government as a solution to this aggressive game-the-system and FOMO mentality so deep rooted here.

For context I studied in Rural Governement schools till 10th and even after that I didn't have to pay 20% of what an average Urban 'Middle class' peer pays for education. The education quality is not much different. Only when I had to study engineering I came across stupid expensive not-worth-the-cost education.

known(10000) 4 days ago [-]

https://www.quora.com/Which-caste-is-looting-India/answers/2... has complete list of all scams in India

dilawar(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Primary education and public health us possibly the biggest scam but they would come pretty close. Do they have connections with ruling party?

johnx123-up(10000) 6 days ago [-]

FWIW. Since you've mentioned Byju's... my Indian friend here informed me that they have a nexus with the Google Playstore team too and bypassing all Playstore policies. For instance, they release a free app without any in-app purchase; but after some time, they'll lock the app and will call the parents to pay 50k rupees.

dfrtgaswiokhtbz(10000) 6 days ago [-]


timkam(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Interesting. This reminds me of the story of Siraj Raval, a formerly highly influential YouTuber on machine learning and blockchain topics: https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2019/10/16/why-siraj-ravals-...

Some years ago, when I started getting into machine learning, I couldn't tell he is a fraud. Considering that just before he was broadly exposed as a fraudster, he was invited by the European Space Agency (ESA) to give a talk, I was in good company. I think the only reason he got exposed is because he started making stupidly bold claims, attributing high-profile original research to himself. If it weren't for this, he would probably still be accepted by the mainstream because the case a few experts could make against him wouldn't be strong enough.

My point is: it is hard to see what is fraud and what isn't. If the ESA can't tell the difference, how can average parents?

kowlo(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Sounds terrible. How are his accounts being taken down?

msaharia(10000) 6 days ago [-]

EdTech in India is a predatory environment midwived by unscrupulous VCs. Please raise your against it if you can. And this is not an Indian problem. These companies are making their way to US and worldwide.

flak48(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yep WhiteHat JR has started expanding to the Phillipines as well, where they're continuing their MO of targetting hapless parents and children with blatantly false advertising

blueblisters(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Looks like they made the classic Streisand effect mistake - attempts to clamp down on critical voices brought more attention to them. For a startup that ramped up and exited so quickly, they don't seem particularly smart.

Notwithstanding the marketing, I don't think the product itself is egregious. Their primary sell is teaching logic ('coding') to kids through 1:1 tutoring sessions. Many Indian upper/middle class households already send their kids to in-person tutors at a very young age, and looks like Whitehat Jr found a niche that could cater to that market during the pandemic.

1:1 tutoring can be highly effective, creating a 2-sigma improvement in student performance (http://web.mit.edu/5.95/readings/bloom-two-sigma.pdf). Of course, Whitehat Jr likely doesn't follow specific structured pedagogy to get this advantage, and maybe the target age group is too young to get any benefits.

shmde(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> Their primary sell is teaching logic. No their primary sell is to instruct things one by one by reading a literal script. They literally have a standardized script to read to the kids. Things like drag and drop icons and stuff on an already open source website code.org. They do not teach anything. They just tell the kid what to do and make them feel that its done by them.

>1:1 tutoring can be highly effective, creating a 2 sigma improvement.

Agreed, they do, but not when majority of teachers they recruit don't even need to know coding to teach coding. Some teachers are literally housewives trying to make an income during this pandemic teaching coding without knowing anything remotely related to computers. I don't think circumstances like these will create a 2-sigma improvements in students. ;)

techie128(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Their claims are absolutely false as witnessed by the numerous Slack screenshots. When I first came across their ads, I dismissed them as scammy and even reported a few. Scams are common place everywhere but they're particularly vicious in India because parents will fork over their life savings for securing their child's future.

If there is actual an actual court case against WhiteHat Jr, they will likely tone down their scammy ads and might get slapped with a bit of fine and life will go on.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The problem is wider with such startups using money to copyright strike or takedown critical content. They abused Content ID to take down valid & legal use of copyrighted content in reviews as well.

infinityplus1(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Instead of refuting the claims with evidence, this company prefers to take down content which criticizes them. Clearly, they have no leg to stand on and have resorted to bullying.

YokoZar(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It seems like India would benefit from anti-SLAPP laws, as that's exactly what this company is doing.

Something different would need to be done about the bad-faith takedowns and coordinated harassment, however.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Exactly! If you look at their employee Twitter feeds, it is littered with under 18 kids who somehow have twitter accounts & are tweeting the same generic content linking back to their websites.

Also questionable is internal slack screenshots being shared of harassing female interviewees, mass reporting critical tweets & other content across YT & LinkedIn.

_pythonlover_(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Another article on WhitehatJr


(behind paywall)

kobiguru(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Not paywalled. you have to make an account though.

essdas(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The truth is much worse than this suggests: This recent article in The Morning Context gives a lot more detail as to why this company is absolutely unethical: https://themorningcontext.com/indias-whitehatjr-is-startup-h... [Requires sign in to read unfortunately]

WhiteHat Jr. is the sleaziest company to emerge from India's start-up ecosystem. They have used underhanded and unethical means to take down fair criticism online. They have used misleading and outright false advertising to sell their product to parents.

I can only hope that people wake up to how evil this company is.

_4570(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That article is terrifying!

flak48(10000) 6 days ago [-]

The apparent success that WhiteHat enjoyed with a $300 million exit within 18 months of founding has unfortunately inspired the current generation of entrepreneurs in India to also try their hands in the edtech space over everything else.

Most of them however don't know the scale of the fraud and unimaginably shady marketing and operating practices WhiteHat engaged in to reach that valuation.

_pythonlover_(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Recent post by the Pradeep Poonia showing proof how fake their ads are. There is a slack screenshot posted where the employees (including their CEO) talking about creating a fake app that they advertise as an app made by a 13 yo kid. https://www.reddit.com/r/india/comments/jyt7et/whitehatjr_fi...

boruto(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I hope I can comment there, that I can donate. I somehow am blocked in that subreddit.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Sheer disgrace

bavell(10000) 6 days ago [-]

So typical that all the social media platforms are complicit in their little scheme. All of them are happy to silence this guy who is pointing out blatant fraud and corruption without a second thought. Broken copyright system once again a major player.

Why do we allow these massively profitable companies get away with this crap?

the_lucifer(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yup, they've literally weaponized DMCA for this and it's appalling.

extrapao(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The court has now barred him from speaking. And WhiteHat has sued another guy. Found this publication is covering the cases -- INC42

Second lawsuit against another critic: https://inc42.com/buzz/after-poonia-whitehat-jr-files-1-9-mn...

Court bars critic from talking about WhiteHat in first lawsuit: https://inc42.com/buzz/breaking-whitehat-jr-vs-poonia-hc-res...

This is just ridiculous.

villgax(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The way in which everyone has overlooked the abuse of Copyright Flagging System & silencing criticism is just appalling, don't even get me started on the imaginary kid they posted in their Ads.

Lol they claim hacking of slack conversations which in fact is something their internal employees have shared to blow the lid on their fake claims of kids making apps & doing 'coding'.

Alterlife(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is a lot worse than it looks.


Shame on Whitehatjr and on Byju's. This is outright fraud.

shi314(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Owned by Disney.

_Microft(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Beside that: check out the ad on the right hand side of the screenshot. The keyboard ... ><

IceWreck(10000) 6 days ago [-]

WhiteHatJr is a scam company and Facebook invested USD 300 million in their parent company, Byjus

bavell(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Haha how embarrassing! Imagine being tricked into paying $300M for a scam company that only knows how to defraud people.

ghoomketu(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is nothing new. Another scammer called Ankit Fadia has been doing very similar stuff under the name of 'Ethical hacking courses' for many many years now.

He has been exposed many times (see his Wikipedia page) but most parents and students don't know much about the person running the business and fall for stupid ploys like 'Employed by FBI to hack Osama' or some paid TV apperance and end up paying thousands of dollars to such companies / individuals.

gadnuk(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Thanks for mentioning this fraudster. That dude legit conned everybody at the time because Internet was fairly new to India. Here's one of my favorite pages on the internet exposing the charlatan that he is:


DarmokJalad1701(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yea. I remember when I got interested in computers as a teen, I used to think he was some hacker genius after coming across his website ( https://web.archive.org/web/20020802033500/http://hackingtru... ).

I remember getting one of his books on 'Ethical Hacking' and found it completely pointless.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Imagine the Ti calculator monopoly but something similar for digital teaching if not kept in check.

BlueTemplar(10000) 6 days ago [-]

You mean duopoly with Casio ?

dang(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Url changed from https://nextbigwhat.com/whitehatjr-files-20-cr-defamation-ca..., which points to this.

chrismorgan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think you may have made a mistake here. The URL is currently https://www.forbesindia.com/article/take-one-big-story-of-th..., which is an article from a month ago (and was discussed at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24867212) that shares some subject matter with the original article here, but has nothing about the lawsuit, which is fresh, so that the title on this post now has very limited connection to the Forbes article being linked to. Perhaps change it back, or to https://twitter.com/whiteHatSnr/status/1330202709203578882 which is what that nextbigwhat.com page does point to?

pulkitsh1234(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I have had my personal stint with trying to 'expose' an Indian startup (I am an Indian), also coding related which gained some traction on LinkedIn (around 500+ reactions, if they mean anything).

This guy is in serious danger, trust me. I had to delete my linkedin post when my ex-manager called me to delete it otherwise the startup's employees will go crazy and try every which way to make my life hell.

Unfortunately, thats what you get in living in this country and trying to voice your opinion (without any strong political and financial credentials).

I have mentioned this earlier, people keep complaining of 'brain drain' here in India as tech graduates keep leaving India for opportunities abroad; I thought I won't be that one and will do something for the country; it's just too difficult, I have add enough, I can't wait to leave.

I always tell people to just be anonymous, having your personal identity linked when saying anything remotely offensive is just an open invitation for personal attacks and things like this.

saimiam(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm sorry that this happened to you but now that it has happened to you and to this guy, I looking forward to the day when one or both of these two things happens:

1. anonymous whistleblowing/exposes of shady business practices becomes a thing

2. hedgefunds like muddy waters emerge in India whose goal is to find rotten companies and profit off them through short selling

Hope it rains creative destruction on such companies.

eklavya(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I am sorry you had this experience but bad news, no place is safe from retaliatory litigation.

Best of luck for your journey abroad.

helmholtz(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I'm an Indian abroad.

Do it.

Come here to Europe.

The baseline level of self-awareness in people here is off the scale when you compare it to the typical Indian. People actually queue, instead of creating a melee at every counter. You're never worrying about people cutting you in lines. Cars stop at zebra crossings to let pedestrians cross. No one honks! They nod and smile 'bonjour!' as they cross you on the street. There is no pollution here. The food is great, the coffee is even better, the $5 wine at your local grocery store is some of the best in the world. The employees you'll work with have some basic dignity and shame. If they don't know something, they'll admit it. They won't grossly lie on their resumes. You'll never hear the words 'do the needful' or 'prepone' or, my most hated 'kindly revert back'! There is a basic amount of honesty here. You don't spend all your time worrying if the guy you're doing business with is fleecing you. You will find information about businesses online.

This place is as close to paradise as it gets on planet Earth.

Life, and especially youth, passes by in an instance. I highly advocate keeping this fact in mind in the face of do-gooders who judge you for your choices. The million small and large quality of life improvements lead to exactly that. A vastly higher quality of life.

renewiltord(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Good on you for trying. FWIW a general rule of thumb that I've discovered is that it's more worthwhile to listen to the doers than the talkers. And certainly don't be misled by the guys who tell you to sacrifice for the common good when they will not.

There is no racial tie to any place. As an Indian you have no more of a responsibility to improve India than you do France. You didn't choose that, you were just born there. That's like me mowing your lawn and then asking you to pay me whatever fee I came up with. India birthed you. But India did not first ask.

And whether the Europeans like you there or not is also irrelevant. You are a free agent. It's probably smart to be liked and to be useful but beyond that residence there is not a gift, it's a value exchange. No one would do that if they didn't get something from it (in aggregate).

Look out for yourself. Everything else will naturally come from that.

fareesh(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Pathetic. All this dude did was show users their fake ads and fake reviews. He's also showcased reviews where the instructors don't seem to know much about how the internet works.

Now the legal system is being used to maliciously prosecute him. There is little hope for this man in India given the level of corruption and rot in the system. If there are well connected folks in the west who want to spend their time on actual injustice as opposed to casting in Hollywood movies and other first world problems, I'd invite them to speak up for this man and contact the investors / folks at Disney and other Byju's investors.

Also if you know folks at Reddit or YouTube congratulate them on having such a trash tier DMCA review process where a decent man with the intention of protecting a gullible population of poor folks can't stand up to a scam corporation backed by a mammoth like Disney, on your platform.

fareesh(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Follow up to my comment based on today's court hearing:

See: https://twitter.com/LiveLawIndia/status/1330743572157534210

The prosecution made a few decent points - I suspect he may have gotten carried away in some of his videos and crossed a line somewhere which was very foolish.

paledot(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Rarely am I the one to stand up for Google, but the DMCA is such a garbage law that they have no choice. They don't have the legal ability to call bullshit on the takedown. It's the video creator's job under the DMCA to prove themselves innocent, under penalty of perjury. (No such penalty exists for filing a false claim, BTW.)

swiley(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is exactly why so many people freak out about:

1) YouTube being the only place people go to watch videos online

2) These awful DMCA takedown processes.

fareesh(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I can no longer edit my comment - it is intended to say 'alleged scam'. Posting due to chilling effect.

damnencryption(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Here are the investors in the parent company, byjus: https://byjus.com/our-investors/

Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Tencent, Sequoia Capital India, Sofina, Verlinvest, Owl Ventures, Naspers Ventures and others.

sg47(10000) 6 days ago [-]

This is in line with how Facebook behaves and operates i.e. lack of ethics.

_4570(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I find it interesting they're all turning a blind eye to very obvious problematic behaviour!

hudixt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

What is WhiteHat JR?

It teaches coding to kids of age 6 charging upto 1500$ for 100 clases.

To sum up, this is very high amount from any standar, parents take loan to fund this. Second, they use black hat marketing tactics claiming 10year old student now earns million of dollars.

I'm not sure if there tactics are even legal. Platforms like FB, Google should fact-check on ads.

Seriously how can you believe a kid is earning 10mn$ a year. And has no mention anywhere on the web.

flak48(10000) 6 days ago [-]

And they are charging $1500 just to read out scripts along with freely available code.org tutorials

shi314(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I know a 12yo Indian kid who is maintaining Ubuntu Unity. Though, I am pretty sure he didn't study at WhiteHatJr.

damnencryption(10000) 6 days ago [-]

See the CEO talking on slack about creating an app: https://www.reddit.com/r/india/comments/jyt7et/whitehatjr_fi...

baali(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Twitter thread of arguments being made by the involved parties in the court: https://twitter.com/LiveLawIndia/status/1330743096531795969

villgax(10000) 5 days ago [-]


ffpip(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I feel scared for him. He has been constantly exposing more of this shitty company on reddit (r/india)

WhiteHatJr's ads are complete BS. They advertise that a 9 year old kid (wolf gupta, yes that is apparently his real name) got a job at Google

mandeepj(10000) 6 days ago [-]

> a 9 year old kid (wolf gupta, yes that is apparently his real name) got a job at Google

Is n't 18 the legal age to be employed in the corporate world?

sokoloff(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It seems odd for a company to publicly accuse Google of exploiting 9-year-olds in India in their advertising.

ankit219(10000) 6 days ago [-]

It's gonna get worse. Criminal Defamation laws in India put the onus on the defendant (Poonia, dont know legal terms) to show that he did not defame the company, or to show that he did it in interest of public good. They are skewed towards the company or the person alleging defamation. In other countries its the person alleging that needs to prove that he was defamed unfairly.

johnx123-up(10000) 6 days ago [-]

As I mentioned in another thread, these EdTech companies from India seem to have a nexus with Google. My friend tells me that Google India is very aggressive on advertising and for a decent budget they'll bend any policies.

blackoil(10000) 6 days ago [-]

WhiteHat Jr is one of the worst startups in India, there product is pure crap, employees are equally stressed with outrageous targets.

Unfortunately any dissent is limited to social media as Indian media will peddle whatever the advertisers/government want them to say.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah, I used to live in a shared accommodation with many of their newly hired Civil Engineers for sales/business development roles. They had to close a family at the end of the day as part of their target, usually in the same neighbourhood. All of them got fed up & left en-masse in a few months.

pionerkotik(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I hope these WhiteHat Jr fellas get hit hard by the Streisand effect.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah hopefully parents glance at news articles & think real hard before forking over $2000/yr

h43k3r(10000) 6 days ago [-]


A good writeup by Forbes.

Big ad companies and media houses need to put pressure against false advertisement. I have not seen a single article by any indian newspaper on this topic.

Offtopic-I would like this to blow up disproportionately because the only way whitehatjr is gonna backoff is because of a media backlash

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Yeah all those media houses frequently had prime time spots & full page ads from the parent company so any actual journalism is not going to appear.

saimiam(10000) 6 days ago [-]

I think WhiteHatJr was asked by the indian advertising self-regulation body to take down five misleading ads.


chrismorgan(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Current title on HN: Indian Startup WhiteHatJr files suit against reviewer exposing fake ads

Title on article: WhiteHat Jr and the curious case of disappearing dissent

Actual subject matter: an entity abusing YouTube's copyright systems to suppress negative comments on their advertisements (giving examples of one case of fun mockery and one finding inconsistencies in allegations made by the ads), and YouTube handling things typically badly.

I see no mention whatsoever of WhiteHat Jr filing suit, and the article is much more about the abuse of the Content ID system and copyright law than about whether the ads make illegitimate claims (though it's certainly not painting WhiteHat Jr in a favourable light even apart from their attempts at suppression of dissent).

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Dang has mentioned at the bottom regarding the change in title & original URL which was the reviewers tweet sharing case doc.


Url changed from https://nextbigwhat.com/whitehatjr-files-20-cr-defamation-ca..., which points to this.

sxt(10000) 6 days ago [-]

That's because this news is as fresh as it gets. The details of the suit were just released a few hours ago, and for the sake of international media recognition OP selected the most prominent article with a title reflecting the current scenario.

I've been following this saga for a while, it's all on Reddit. Here's a summary, the guy started off by creating a YT channel a few months back called 'WhitehatSr' where he documented what actually happens in these classes and showed that the 'teachers' literally have no idea what they're talking about. They're literally throwing around buzzwords whilst pressuring the child to pay for the full course to learn advanced concepts. The videos were posted to reddit, and soon the reddit accounts got taken down by the admin.(Not mods) Soon his twitters too, only his original remained, and so he began posting under his real name.

The guy persisted and created more Reddit accounts and continued to post till his videos got taken down on YT. I think after creating a bit of noise and being picked up by a few minor publications, the videos were reinstated, but any other person that posted videos exposing the same had their YT taken down. At this point he was posting on LinkedIN too, and around this time he got a barrage of messages from WhiteHatJr employees, one of them claiming to file a sexual assualt case against him if he does not back down. He ignored them for a while and finally called them out, after which they did briefly stop, but soon after his LinkedIN got taken down.

He said in one of his posts, that a lot of editorials would reach out to him and collect information but never end up publishing, almost as if their was a driving force stopping them from it.

He soon began to get death threats to him and his family which were deleted within seconds, but he managed to capture evidence. They were from anon accounts but they made it pretty clear where they're from

His most recent big development was screenshots from their Slack channels, which clearly showed their so called students with laurels don't exist, and one of them even show their CEO saying something along 'We have to make the app on behalf of the student' and one of the employees says he'll get it it done.

Shortly after this, a rupees 200 million lawsuit was filed against this guy for 'defamation'. He hasn't decided what to do

I hope this gives an idea what kind of scum this 300mn USD valued 'edu startup' is, whose primary targets are parents from middle and lower income households who can be enticed with a few programming jargon and images of Sundar Pichai. I'm sorry for the improper phrasing and structure, I tried to jot down what I could recollect.

2Gkashmiri(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Khan academy is a wonderful resource and for free. People falling for this utter bullshit is directly attributable to one word. Marketting.

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Khan Academy is a golden standard, which these guys can't ever aspire to become.

AkshitGarg(10000) 6 days ago [-]

There are a lot of quality resources, be free or paid. Falling for this utter scam is beyond my mind

tgkprog(10000) 6 days ago [-]

Hey Poonia, I do hope that you start a fund and hire the best lawyer(s) possible. Will contribute what i can, and again after a few months if it drags on. good luck. am sure many others here will too

villgax(10000) 6 days ago [-]

He posted on r/India a while back. Many have offered to contribute & help out.


Historical Discussions: How io_uring and eBPF Will Revolutionize Programming in Linux (November 26, 2020: 657 points)
How io_uring will revolutionize IO in Linux (June 08, 2020: 6 points)

(680) How io_uring and eBPF Will Revolutionize Programming in Linux

680 points 2 days ago by harporoeder in 10000th position

www.scylladb.com | Estimated reading time – 28 minutes | comments | anchor

Things will never be the same again after the dust settles. And yes, I'm talking about Linux.

As I write this, most of the world is in lockdown due to COVID-19. It's hard to say how things will look when this is over (it will be over, right?), but one thing is for sure: the world is no longer the same. It's a weird feeling: it's as if we ended 2019 in one planet and started 2020 in another.

While we all worry about jobs, the economy and our healthcare systems, one other thing that has changed dramatically may have escaped your attention: the Linux kernel.

That's because every now and then something shows up that replaces evolution with revolution. The black swan. Joyful things like the introduction of the automobile, which forever changed the landscape of cities around the world. Sometimes it's less joyful things, like 9/11 or our current nemesis, COVID-19.

I'll put what happened to Linux in the joyful bucket. But it's a sure revolution, one that most people haven't noticed yet. That's because of two new, exciting interfaces: eBPF (or BPF for short) and io_uring, the latter added to Linux in 2019 and still in very active development. Those interfaces may look evolutionary, but they are revolutionary in the sense that they will — we bet — completely change the way applications work with and think about the Linux Kernel.

In this article, we will explore what makes these interfaces special and so powerfully transformational, and dig deeper into our experience at ScyllaDB with io_uring.

How Did Linux I/O System Calls Evolve?

In the old days of the Linux you grew to know and love, the kernel offered the following system calls to deal with file descriptors, be they storage files or sockets:

ssize_t read(int fd, void *buf, size_t count);
ssize_t write(int fd, const void *buf, size_t count);

Those system calls are what we call blocking system calls. When your code calls them it will sleep and be taken out of the processor until the operation is completed. Maybe the data is in a file that resides in the Linux page cache, in which case it will actually return immediately, or maybe it needs to be fetched over the network in a TCP connection or read from an HDD.

Every modern programmer knows what is wrong with this: As devices continue to get faster and programs more complex, blocking becomes undesirable for all but the simplest things. New system calls, like select() and poll() and their more modern counterpart, epoll() came into play: once called, they will return a list of file descriptors that are ready. In other words, reading from or writing to them wouldn't block. The application can now be sure that blocking will not occur.

It's beyond our scope to explain why, but this readiness mechanism really works only for network sockets and pipes — to the point that epoll() doesn't even accept storage files. For storage I/O, classically the blocking problem has been solved with thread pools: the main thread of execution dispatches the actual I/O to helper threads that will block and carry the operation on the main thread's behalf.

As time passed, Linux grew even more flexible and powerful: it turns out database software may not want to use the Linux page cache. It then became possible to open a file and specify that we want direct access to the device. Direct access, commonly referred to as Direct I/O, or the O_DIRECT flag, required the application to manage its own caches — which databases may want to do anyway, but also allow for zero-copy I/O as the application buffers can be sent to and populate from the storage device directly.

As storage devices got faster, context switches to helper threads became even less desirable. Some devices in the market today, like the Intel Optane series have latencies in the single-digit microsecond range — the same order of magnitude of a context switch. Think of it this way: every context switch is a missed opportunity to dispatch I/O.

With Linux 2.6, the kernel gained an Asynchronous I/O (linux-aio for short) interface. Asynchronous I/O in Linux is simple at the surface: you can submit I/O with the io_submit system call, and at a later time you can call io_getevents and receive back events that are ready. Recently, Linux even gained the ability to add epoll() to the mix: now you could not only submit storage I/O work, but also submit your intention to know whether a socket (or pipe) is readable or writable.

Linux-aio was a potential game-changer. It allows programmers to make their code fully asynchronous. But due to the way it evolved, it fell short of these expectations. To try and understand why, let's hear from Mr. Torvalds himself in his usual upbeat mood, in response to someone trying to extend the interface to support opening files asynchronously:

So I think this is ridiculously ugly.

AIO is a horrible ad-hoc design, with the main excuse being "other, less gifted people, made that design, and we are implementing it for compatibility because database people — who seldom have any shred of taste — actually use it".

— Linus Torvalds (on lwn.net)

First, as database people ourselves, we'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to Linus for our lack of taste. But also expand on why he is right. Linux AIO is indeed rigged with problems and limitations:

  • Linux-aio only works for O_DIRECT files, rendering it virtually useless for normal, non-database applications.
  • The interface is not designed to be extensible. Although it is possible — we did extend it — every new addition is complex.
  • Although the interface is technically non-blocking, there are many reasons that can lead it to blocking, often in ways that are impossible to predict.

We can clearly see the evolutionary aspect of this: interfaces grew organically, with new interfaces being added to operate in conjunction with the new ones. The problem of blocking sockets was dealt with with an interface to test for readiness. Storage I/O gained an asynchronous interface tailored-fit to work with the kind of applications that really needed it at the moment and nothing else. That was the nature of things. Until... io_uring came along.

What Is io_uring?

io_uring is the brainchild of Jens Axboe, a seasoned kernel developer who has been involved in the Linux I/O stack for a while. Mailing list archaeology tells us that this work started with a simple motivation: as devices get extremely fast, interrupt-driven work is no longer as efficient as polling for completions — a common theme that underlies the architecture of performance-oriented I/O systems.

But as the work evolved, it grew into a radically different interface, conceived from the ground up to allow fully asynchronous operation. It's a basic theory of operation is close to linux-aio: there is an interface to push work into the kernel, and another interface to retrieve completed work.

But there are some crucial differences:

  • By design, the interfaces are designed to be truly asynchronous. With the right set of flags, it will never initiate any work in the system call context itself and will just queue work. This guarantees that the application will never block.
  • It works with any kind of I/O: it doesn't matter if they are cached files, direct-access files, or even blocking sockets. That is right: because of its async-by-design nature, there is no need for poll+read/write to deal with sockets. One submits a blocking read, and once it is ready it will show up in the completion ring.
  • It is flexible and extensible: new opcodes are being added at a rate that leads us to believe that indeed soon it will grow to re-implement every single Linux system call.

The io_uring interface works through two main data structures: the submission queue entry (sqe) and the completion queue entry (cqe). Instances of those structures live in a shared memory single-producer-single-consumer ring buffer between the kernel and the application.

The application asynchronously adds sqes to the queue (potentially many) and then tells the kernel that there is work to do. The kernel does its thing, and when work is ready it posts the results in the cqe ring. This also has the added advantage that system calls are now batched. Remember Meltdown? At the time I wrote about how little it affected our Scylla NoSQL database, since we would batch our I/O system calls through aio. Except now we can batch much more than just the storage I/O system calls, and this power is also available to any application.

The application, whenever it wants to check whether work is ready or not, just looks at the cqe ring buffer and consumes entries if they are ready. There is no need to go to the kernel to consume those entries.

Here are some of the operations that io_uring supports: read, write, send, recv, accept, openat, stat, and even way more specialized ones like fallocate.

This is not an evolutionary step. Although io_uring is slightly similar to aio, its extensibility and architecture are disruptive: it brings the power of asynchronous operations to anyone, instead of confining it to specialized database applications.

Our CTO, Avi Kivity, made the case for async at the Core C++ 2019 event. The bottom line is this; in modern multicore, multi-CPU devices, the CPU itself is now basically a network, the intercommunication between all the CPUs is another network, and calls to disk I/O are effectively another. There are good reasons why network programming is done asynchronously, and you should consider that for your own application development too.

It fundamentally changes the way Linux applications are to be designed: Instead of a flow of code that issues syscalls when needed, that have to think about whether or not a file is ready, they naturally become an event-loop that constantly add things to a shared buffer, deals with the previous entries that completed, rinse, repeat.

So, what does that look like? The code block below is an example on how to dispatch an entire array of reads to multiple file descriptors at once down the io_uring interface:

/* Describes what we need from a read */
struct read_descriptor {
int fd;
char *buf;
unsigned long long pos;
unsigned long long size;
int result;
* given an array of struct read_descriptors, dispatch them in the
* io_uring
dispatch_reads(struct io_uring *ring, struct read_descriptor *descv, int nr_desc)
int i;
for (i = 0; i < nr_desc; i++) {
struct io_uring_sqe *sqe;
struct read_descriptor *desc = &descv[i];
sqe = io_uring_get_sqe(ring);
/* Each operation will have a special prep function */
io_uring_prep_read(sqe, desc->fd, desc->buf, desc->size, desc->pos);
* Whatever value we put here will be reflected when it is
* ready. This is how we know which read we are talking about
io_uring_sqe_set_data(sqe, desc);
/* For all of the reads above, there will be only one system call! */
return io_uring_submit(ring);

At a later time, in an event-loop manner, we can check which reads are ready and process them. The best part of it is that due to its shared-memory interface, no system calls are needed to consume those events. The user just has to be careful to tell the io_uring interface that the events were consumed.

* Consume reads that are available and returns how many were consumed.
* System calls issued: ZERO!
consume_reads(struct io_uring *ring)
unsigned completed;
unsigned head;
struct io_uring_cqe *cqe;
io_uring_for_each_cqe(ring, head, cqe) {
/* Remember what we passed in io_uring_sqe_set_data?. It's here */
struct read_descriptor *desc = (struct read_descriptor*)cqe->user_data;
desc->result = cqe->res;
io_uring_cq_advance(ring, completed);

This simplified example works for reads only, but it is easy to see how we can batch all kinds of operations together through this unified interface. A queue pattern also goes very well with it: you can just queue operations at one end, dispatch, and consume what's ready at the other end.

Advanced Features

Aside from the consistency and extensibility of the interface, io_uring offers a plethora of advanced features for specialized use cases. Here are some of them:

  • File registration: every time an operation is issued for a file descriptor, the kernel has to spend cycles mapping the file descriptor to its internal representation. For repeated operations over the same file, io_uring allows you to pre-register those files and save on the lookup.
  • Buffer registration: analogous to file registration, the kernel has to map and unmap memory areas for Direct I/O. io_uring allows those areas to be pre-registered if the buffers can be reused.
  • Poll ring: for very fast devices, the cost of processing interrupts is substantial. io_uring allows the user to turn off those interrupts and consume all available events through polling.
  • Linked operations: allows the user to send two operations that are dependent on each other. They are dispatched at the same time, but the second operation only starts when the first one returns.

And as with other areas of the interface, new features are also being added quickly.


As we said, the io_uring interface is largely driven by the needs of modern hardware. So we would expect some performance gains. Are they here?

For users of linux-aio, like ScyllaDB, the gains are expected to be few, focused in some particular workloads and come mostly from the advanced features like buffer and file registration and the poll ring. This is because io_uring and linux-aio are not that different as we hope to have made clear in this article: io_uring is first and foremost bringing all the nice features of linux-aio to the masses.

We have used the well-known fio utility to evaluate 4 different interfaces: synchronous reads, posix-aio (which is implemented as a thread pool), linux-aio and io_uring. In the first test, we want all reads to hit the storage, and not use the operating system page cache at all. We then ran the tests with the Direct I/O flags, which should be the bread and butter for linux-aio. The test is conducted on NVMe storage that should be able to read at 3.5M IOPS. We used 8 CPUs to run 72 fio jobs, each issuing random reads across four files with an iodepth of 8. This makes sure that the CPUs run at saturation for all backends and will be the limiting factor in the benchmark. This allows us to see the behavior of each interface at saturation. Note that with enough CPUs all interfaces would be able to at some point achieve the full disk bandwidth. Such a test wouldn't tell us much.

backend IOPS context switches IOPS ±% vs io_uring
sync 814,000 27,625,004 -42.6%
posix-aio (thread pool) 433,000 64,112,335 -69.4%
linux-aio 1,322,000 10,114,149 -6.7%
io_uring (basic) 1,417,000 11,309,574
io_uring (enhanced) 1,486,000 11,483,468 4.9%

Table 1: performance comparison of 1kB random reads at 100% CPU utilization using Direct I/O, where data is never cached: synchronous reads, posix-aio (uses a thread pool), linux-aio, and the basic io_uring as well as io_uring using its advanced features.

We can see that as we expect, io_uring is a bit faster than linux-aio, but nothing revolutionary. Using advanced features like buffer and file registration (io_uring enhanced) gives us an extra boost, which is nice, but nothing that justifies changing your entire application, unless you are a database trying to squeeze out every operation the hardware can give. Both io_uring and linux-aio are around twice as fast as the synchronous read interface, which in turn is twice as fast as the thread pool approach employed by posix-aio, which is surprisingly at first.

The reason why posix-aio is the slowest is easy to understand if we look at the context switches column at Table 1: every event in which the system call would block, implies one additional context switch. And in this test, all reads will block. The situation is just worse for posix-aio. Now not only there is the context switch between the kernel and the application for blocking, the various threads in the application have to go in and out the CPU.

But the real power of io_uring can be understood when we look at the other side of the scale. In a second test, we preloaded all the memory with the data in the files and proceeded to issue the same random reads. Everything is equal to the previous test, except we now use buffered I/O and expect the synchronous interface to never block — all results are coming from the operating system page cache, and none from storage.

Backend IOPS context switches IOPS ±% vs io_uring
sync 4,906,000 105,797 -2.3%
posix-aio (thread pool) 1,070,000 114,791,187 -78.7%
linux-aio 4,127,000 105,052 -17.9%
io_uring 5,024,000 106,683

Table 2: comparison between the various backends. Test issues 1kB random reads using buffered I/O files with preloaded files and a hot cache. The test is run at 100% CPU.

We don't expect a lot of difference between synchronous reads and io_uring interface in this case because no reads will block. And that's indeed what we see. Note, however, that in real life applications that do more than just read all the time there will be a difference, since io_uring supports batching many operations in the same system call.

The other two interfaces, however, suffer a big penalty: the large number of context switches in the posix-aio interface due to its thread pool completely destroys the benchmark performance at saturation. Linux-aio, which is not designed for buffered I/O, at all, actually becomes a synchronous interface when used with buffered I/O files. So now we pay the price of the asynchronous interface — having to split the operation in a dispatch and consume phase, without realizing any of the benefits.

Real applications will be somewhere in the middle: some blocking, some non-blocking operations. Except now there is no longer the need to worry about what will happen. The io_uring interface performs well in any circumstance. It doesn't impose a penalty when the operations would not block, is fully asynchronous when the operations would block, and does not rely on threads and expensive context switches to achieve its asynchronous behavior. And what's even better: although our example focused on random reads, io_uring will work for a large list of opcodes. It can open and close files, set timers, transfer data to and from network sockets. All using the same interface.

ScyllaDB and io_uring

Because Scylla scales up to 100% of server capacity before scaling out, it relies exclusively on Direct I/O and we have been using linux-aio since the start.

In our journey towards io_uring, we have initially seen results as high as 50% better in some workloads. At closer inspection, that made clear that this is because our implementation of linux-aio was not as good as it could be. This, in my view, highlights one usually underappreciated aspect of performance: how easy it is to achieve it. As we fixed our linux-aio implementation according to the deficiencies io_uring shed light into, the performance difference all but disappeared. But that took effort, to fix an interface we have been using for many years. For io_uring, achieving that was trivial.

However, aside from that, io_uring can be used for much more than just file I/O (as already mentioned many times throughout this article). And it comes with specialized high performance interfaces like buffer registration, file registration, and a poll interface with no interrupts.

When io_uring's advanced features are used, we do see a performance difference: we observed a 5% speedup when reading 512-byte payloads from a single CPU in an Intel Optane device, which is consistent with the fio results in Tables 1 and 2. While that doesn't sound like a lot, that's very valuable for databases trying to make the most out of the hardware.

  Throughput         :      330 MB/s
  Lat average        :     1549 usec
  Lat quantile=  0.5 :     1547 usec
  Lat quantile= 0.95 :     1694 usec
  Lat quantile= 0.99 :     1703 usec
  Lat quantile=0.999 :     1950 usec
  Lat max            :     2177 usec
io_uring, with buffer and file registration and poll:
  Throughput         :      346 MB/s
  Lat average        :     1470 usec
  Lat quantile= 0.5  :     1468 usec
  Lat quantile= 0.95 :     1558 usec
  Lat quantile= 0.99 :     1613 usec
  Lat quantile=0.999 :     1674 usec
  Lat max            :     1829 usec
Reading 512-byte buffers from an Intel Optane device from a single CPU. Parallelism of 1000 in-flight requests. There is very little difference between linux-aio and io_uring for the basic interface. But when advanced features are used, a 5% difference is seen.

The io_uring interface is advancing rapidly. For many of its features to come, it plans to rely on another earth-shattering new addition to the Linux Kernel: eBPF.

What Is eBPF?

eBPF stands for extended Berkeley Packet Filter. Remember iptables? As the name implies, the original BPF allows the user to specify rules that will be applied to network packets as they flow through the network. This has been part of Linux for years.

But when BPF got extended, it allowed users to add code that is executed by the kernel in a safe manner in various points of its execution, not only in the network code.

I will suggest the reader to pause here and read this sentence again, to fully capture its implications: You can execute arbitrary code in the Linux kernel now. To do essentially whatever you want.

eBPF programs have types, which determine what they will attach to. In other words, which events will trigger their execution. The old-style packet filtering use case is still there. It's a program of the BPF_PROG_TYPE_SOCKET_FILTER type.

But over the past decade or so, Linux has been accumulating an enormous infrastructure for performance analysis, that adds tracepoints and probe points almost everywhere in the kernel. You can attach a tracepoint, for example, to a syscall — any syscall — entry or return points. And through the BPF_PROG_TYPE_KPROBE and BPF_PROG_TYPE_TRACEPOINT types, you can attach bpf programs essentially anywhere.

The most obvious use case for this is performance analysis and monitoring. A lot of those tools are being maintained through the bcc project. It's not like it wasn't possible to attach code into those tracepoints before: Tools like systemtap allowed the user to do just that. But previously all that such probes could do was pass on information to the application in raw form which would then constantly switch to and from the kernel, making it unusably slow.

Because eBPF probes run in kernel space, they can do complex analysis, collect large swathes of information, and then only return to the application with summaries and final conclusions. Pandora's box has been opened.

Here are some examples of what those tools can do:

  • Trace how much time an application spends sleeping, and what led to those sleeps. (wakeuptime)
  • Find all programs in the system that reached a particular place in the code (trace)
  • Analyze network TCP throughput aggregated by subnet (tcpsubnet)
  • Measure how much time the kernel spent processing softirqs (softirqs)
  • Capture information about all short-lived files, where they come from, and for how long they were opened (filelife)

The entire bcc collection is a gold mine and I strongly recommend the reader to take a look. But the savvy reader had already noticed by now that the main point is not that there are new tools. Rather, the point is that these tools are built upon an extensible framework that allows them to be highly specialized.

We could always measure network bandwidth in Linux. But now we can split it per subnet, because that's just a program that was written and injected into the kernel. Which means if you ever need to insert specifics of your own network and scenario, now you can too.

Having a framework to execute code in the kernel goes beyond just performance analysis and debugging. We can't know for sure how the marriage between io_uring and bpf will look like, but here are some interesting things that can happen:

io_uring supports linking operations, but there is no way to generically pass the result of one system call to the next. With a simple bpf program, the application can tell the kernel how the result of open is to be passed to read — including the error handling, which then allocates its own buffers and keeps reading until the entire file is consumed and finally closed: we can checksum, compress, or search an entire file with a single system call.

Where Is All This Going?

These two new features, io_uring and eBPF, will revolutionize programming in Linux. Now you can design apps that can truly take advantage of these large multicore multiprocessor systems like the Amazon i3en "meganode" systems, or take advantage of μsecond-scale storage I/O latencies of Intel Optane persistent memory.

You're also going to be able to run arbitrary code in the kernel, which is hugely empowering for tooling and debugging. For those who have only done synchronous or POSIX aio thread pooling, there's now a lot of new capabilities to take advantage of. These are exciting developments — even for those of you who are not database developers like us.

Originally published in The New Stack.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

glutamate(10000) 2 days ago [-]
dang(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Personal attacks and flamebait are not allowed here. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules.

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25222895.

nynx(10000) 2 days ago [-]

wasm in the kernel when?

Tuna-Fish(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Never. eBPF is a good interface for running code in the kernel because of how restricted it is. Before loading a eBPF module, the kernel does a lof of verification on it, including proving that it terminates. This is famously rather hard on Turing-complete languages. (Although in this case could be solved by giving programs a fixed time budget per invocation.)

layoutIfNeeded(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Hopefully never

rhencke(10000) 2 days ago [-]

It was done in 2017: https://github.com/cervus-v/cervus

pjmlp(10000) 2 days ago [-]

eBPF is already it, apparently people keep forgeting that WASM isn't the first nor is going to be the last polyglot bytecode format.

Technically(10000) 2 days ago [-]

....wtf why would you do this?

cassepipe(10000) 1 day ago [-]

So at line 12, it's a macro for a loop right ? Or am I missing something ? https://gist.github.com/PeterCorless/f83c09cc62ccd60e595e4eb...

layoutIfNeeded(10000) 1 day ago [-]

  #define io_uring_for_each_cqe(ring, head, cqe)    \
   /*        \
    * io_uring_smp_load_acquire() enforces the order of tail \
    * and CQE reads.      \
    */        \
   for (head = *(ring)->cq.khead;     \
        (cqe = (head != io_uring_smp_load_acquire((ring)->cq.ktail) ? \
    &(ring)->cq.cqes[head & (*(ring)->cq.kring_mask)] : NULL)); \
fefe23(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I don't think io_uring and ebpf will revolutionize programming on Linux. In fact I hope they don't. The most important aspect of a program is correctness, not speed. Writing asynchronous code is much harder to get right.

Sure, I still write asynchronous code. Mostly to find out if I can. My experience has been that async code is hard to write, is larger, hard to read, hard to verify as correct and may not even be faster for many common use cases.

I also wrote some kernel code, for the same reason. To find out if I could. Most programmers have this drive, I think. They want to push themselves.

And sure, go for it! Just realize that you are experimenting, and you are probably in over your head.

Most of us are most of the time.

Someone will have to be able to fix bugs in your code when you are unavailable. Consider how hard it is to maintain other people's code even if it is just a well-formed, synchronous series of statements. Then consider how much worse it is if that code is asynchronous and maybe has subtle timing bugs, side channels and race conditions.

If I haven't convinced you yet, let me try one last argument.

I invite you to profile how much actual time you spend doing syscalls. Syscalls are amazingly well optimized on Linux. The overhead is practically negligible. You can do hundreds of thousands of syscalls per second, even on old hardware. You can also easily open thousands of threads. Those also scale really well on Linux.

cheph(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Writing asynchronous code is trying to fix how your code is executed in the code itself. It is the wrong solution for a real problem.

But I think what many people get wrong (not the person I'm replying to) is that how you write code and how you execute code does not have to be the same.

This is essentially why google made their N:M threading patches: https://lore.kernel.org/lkml/[email protected]

This is why Golang uses goroutines. This is why Javascript made async/await. This is why project loom exists. This is why erlang uses erlang processes.

All of these initiatives make it possible to write synchronous code and execute it as if it was written asynchronously.

And I think all of this also makes it clear that how you write code and how code is executed is not the same, so yes, I'm in agreement with the person I'm replying to, I don't think this will change how code is written that much, because this can't make writing code asynchronously any less of a bad idea than it is now.

skybrian(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I don't know what kind of programming you're doing, but in network apps, if you have a thread per client and lots of clients (like a web server), you end up with lots of threads waiting on responses from slow clients, and that takes up memory. The time blocked on the syscall has nothing to do with your own machine's performance.

But on the other hand, if your server is behind a buffering proxy so it's not streaming directly over the Internet, it might not be a problem.

junon(10000) 1 day ago [-]

What a wonderfully dogmatic comment that completely misses the point of io_uring.

trevyn(10000) 1 day ago [-]

What are your thoughts on Rust?

tus88(10000) 2 days ago [-]

BSD folks are yawning right now.

ta8645(10000) 2 days ago [-]


YarickR2(10000) 2 days ago [-]

No it will not. Two rather specialized tools to help with rather specific issues are no reason to throw out heaps and mounds of existing and perfectly working code and solutions

gHosts(10000) 2 days ago [-]

What excites me is if you're working down at the high frequency, low latency I/O domain... linux traditionally has actually sort of sucked.

We're _very_ good at buffering things up and handling large chunks to gain high throughput. We have layers and layers of magic that make us _very_ good at that.

For cases where you have lots of devices throwing small chunks at high frequency and you have to respond (in this one, do a small computation, and out that one...) we've sucked bad.

That's why bare metal RTOS's still exist.

The io_uring / eBPF combo looks _very_ promising for opening up that domain in a tidy fashion.

I also hope there will be no reason to throw away 'heaps and mounds of existing and perfectly working code and solutions'.

I hope to replace my finely tuned epoll / read/write reactor pattern inner loop with io_uring / eBPF and leave 99% of the code untouched... just better throughput / lower latencies.

kevincox(10000) 2 days ago [-]

There are tons of applications that are built upon higher-level APIs that can be updated to take advantage of this automatically. Furthermore you don't need to have every single application updated to revolutionize something. The apps that need this will be quite happy to make the jump.

harporoeder(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I expect these technologies to be integrated into language runtimes and webservers such that most developers won't even know it being used similar to EPOLL today. While revolutionary is an extreme characterization the performance and improved API changes are at least non trivial.

gens(10000) 2 days ago [-]

You are right. For most programs, these two are more work for not much payoff.

Though they are great for some things.

dclusin(10000) 2 days ago [-]

There's a very niche conference called eBPF Summit* that has presentations from people at companies with first class engineering orgs talking about what they are doing with eBPF. The problems they are solving and the breadth of problems being solved are very impressive.

[*] - https://ebpf.io/summit-2020/

dmw_ng(10000) 2 days ago [-]

io_uring is no more specialized than an SSD is today, our storage interfaces went from handling between 1 and 4 requests in parallel for the past 50 years to suddenly handling literally hundreds on consumer grade hardware (IIRC NVMe is specced either for up to 64k queue depth or unlimited queue depth). Of course the software environment must change to keep up, is it really reasonable to continue feeding such devices one IO at a time because that's how it was done in 1970?

It is not fun to program against io_uring just as BPF can be a nightmare, but that's a problem for userspace to solve with libraries and better abstractions, much in the same way userspace usually doesn't have to deal with parsing the shared ELF segment exported by the kernel (glibc does that) or writing complex routines for fetching the system time (the ELF segment does that), both of which are implementation details necessary for extracting the full performance from modern hardware.

We'll catch up eventually, but first the lower level interfaces must exist. In meantime, I cringe Every. Single. Time. I run UNIX find or du over my home directory, realizing it could have completed in a fraction of the time for almost 10 years now if only our traditional software environment was awakened to the reality of the hardware it has long since run on.

cpuguy83(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Neither ebpf or io_uring are 'specialized', in fact they are specifically not specialized which is what makes them revolutionary (along with being better than currently specialized apis like aio).

qchris(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I'm genuinely curious; both of these changes seem to be exciting due to the ability for people to extend and implement specialized code/features using the kernel. Since the Linux kernel is GPLed (v2, I believe?), does this mean that the number of GPL requests related to products' operating systems is likely to increase, since groups using this extensibility will be writing code covered by the GPL which might actually be of value to other people? Or does the way io_uring and eBPF are implemented isolate the code in such a way that the extensions through their frameworks such that the GPL license won't affect them?

marcan_42(10000) 2 days ago [-]

io_uring is a data structure, not code. It's not Turing complete, so there is absolutely no way it would extend GPL virality from the kernel into userspace.

eBPF is code, and follows similar rules to kernel modules. That is, non-GPL-compatible eBPF code is allowed, but a subset of APIs (helpers, like module symbols) are only available to GPL-compatible eBPF programs.

rtkaratekid(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I don't know about io_uring, but for BPF programs only the kernel space needs to be licensed as GPLv2. Everything on the user space side is handled with system calls or higher level libraries that aren't GPL licensed (libbpf).

CalChris(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This reminds me of David Wheeler's adage:

  All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection.
The rejoinder, and I don't know who gets credit for it, is:

  All performance problems can be solved by removing a layer of indirection.
harry8(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Have we stopped solving all performance problems with introducing a cache? Why wasn't I told? Will I have to hand in my union card?

sigjuice(10000) 1 day ago [-]

An often cited corollary to the first one is, '...except for the problem of too many layers of indirection.' :)


shmerl(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Are I/O libraries like Tokio for Rust using io_uring?

Arnavion(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Apart from tokio (which the sibling comment covers), you can use rio [1] which specifically uses io_uring, and can be used as a Future [2] so that you can use it as part of the wider Future ecosystem, with tokio or any other executor.

[1]: https://crates.io/crates/rio [2]: https://docs.rs/rio/0.9.4/rio/struct.Completion.html#impl-Fu...

dathinab(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Some are other will be other won't.

One problem with io_uring is that it's completion based I/O where you move ownership of an buffer to the kernel which then writes to it until the operation completes.

This means you might not be able to (sync) cancel an operation occurring in the background.

This makes it harder to integrate into some I/O libraries, as the previous fact conflicts with RAII patterns.

Another think making adaption harder is that the interfaces for reading/writing with io_uring are conceptually slightly different.

Because of this e.g. Tokio currently hasn't switched yet to use io_uring but still uses readiness based async I/O as far as I know. (Which doesn't mean it won't support it in the future.)

This issue might be relevant (mio is internally used by tokio for async I/O): https://github.com/tokio-rs/mio/issues/923

profquail(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The glommio library from DataDog was specifically built around io_uring: https://www.datadoghq.com/blog/engineering/introducing-glomm...

fwip(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Looks like it's on the roadmap: https://github.com/tokio-rs/tokio/issues/2411

coolreader18(10000) 1 day ago [-]

There's the ringbahn[0] project, which is a couple of layers wrapping the liburing library; it seems like it's presenting itself as an orthogonal runtime to tokio. Meanwhile, looks like tokio is looking into the feasibility of using io_uring[1], though I'm not sure if it would be using ringbahn or not.

[0]: https://github.com/ringbahn

[1]: https://github.com/tokio-rs/tokio/issues/2411

ornornor(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Interesting. I was just surprised as this:

> Joyful things like the introduction of the automobile

Cars cause so much pollution, noise, traffic, and take up so much space... How can you say its introduction is joyful?

About the new api: while I'm not very knowledgeable about the kernel, it seems like very good news for performance, the improvements are drastic!

liamwire(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> How can you say it's introduction is joyful?

Sure, if you want to sidestep the innumerable ways the automobile, or more accuracy the internal combustion engine, have completely revolutionised society, you could make an argument...

Except you can't. Think about the increase in distance and speed at which goods and services can be rendered compared to prior modes of transportation. One simple example that comes to mind is the ambulance, in which that increase may well be the difference between life or death for an unknown but surely enormous population. A similar argument can be made for logistic supply chains delivering medicine, food, sanity products, waste removal, all of which without, mortality would surge. Plague, famine, disease are some of largest killers in human history.

Please tell me again how the absolute gains measured in human lifetimes is anything other than joyful, outside of subjectivity which is an unresolvable debate.

gumby(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> Cars cause so much pollution, noise, traffic, and take up so much space... How can you say its introduction is joyful?

Horses generated literal tons of pollution in cities, were complicated to look after, and slow. The arrival of the car cleaned up the streets, made it easier to travel (and travel far) and very rapidly became the preferred mode of transport all over the world.

zests(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I am impressed with the level of linux knowledge in this thread. How do people become linux kernel hackers? Most of the developers I know (including myself) use linux but have very little awareness beyond application level programming.

the8472(10000) 1 day ago [-]

You don't necessarily have to be a kernel hacker to be familiar with many of the features that the kernel provides. Just doing application debugging often requires to dig deeper until you hit some kernel balrogs.

Container problems? Namespaces, Cgroups, ...

Network problems? Netfilter, tc, lots of sysctl knobs, tcp algorithms (cue 1287947th thread on nagle/delayed acks/cork)

Slow disk IO? Now you need to read up on syscalls and maybe find more efficient uses. Copy_file_range doesn't work as expected? Suddenly you're reading kernel release notes or source code.

01100011(10000) 1 day ago [-]

For the most part, it's just software. If you have the time and the interest, you can learn it like anything else. At some level, it requires an awareness of how the hardware works(page tables/MMUs/IOMMUs, interrupts, SMP, NUMA, etc).

I don't mean to downplay the investment, but if you're already an experienced software engineer you can get into it if it interests you. There is a different mindset among systems software programmers though. Reliability comes first, performance and functionality come second. It's a world away from hacking python scripts that only need to run once to perform their function.

gpanders(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I learned a TON about the Linux kernel through writing custom device drivers for FPGAs. Granted most of my experience is in the driver area and not in any of the subsystems, but even still I have a much better grasp of how the kernel operates now (and even more importantly, I know how to navigate it and how to find relevant documentation).

amboar(10000) 1 day ago [-]

As others have said, hacking it, certainly. But if you're not up for that and would like something more passive, read LWN.net (and possibly subscribe!)

marcosdumay(10000) 2 days ago [-]

> How do people become linux kernel hackers?

Honestly, by hacking it.

There's a famous book about Linux internals that I don't remember the name (but has 'Linux' and 'internals' on it). But I have never seen anybody doing it by reading a book (despite how excellent it can be). You just go change what you want or read the submodule you are interested in understanding, and use the book, site or whatever when you have a problem.

dboreham(10000) 1 day ago [-]


yobert(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

I learned a lot by trying to make Go talk to ALSA without using any existing C interfaces. Just happy exploration goes a long ways!

Matthias247(10000) 1 day ago [-]

There's currently a lot of talk about io_uring, but most articles around it and usages still seem more in the exploration, research and toy project state.

I'm however wondering what the actual quality level is, whether people used it successfully in production and whether there is an overview with which kernel level which feature works without any [known] bugs.

When looking at the mailing list at https://lore.kernel.org/io-uring/ it seems like it is still a very fast moving project, with a fair amount bugfixes. Given that, is it realistic to think about using any kernel in with a kernel version between 5.5 and 5.7 in production where any bug would incur an availability impact, or should this still rather be a considered an ongoing implementation effort and revisited at some 5.xy version?

An extensive set of unit-tests would make it a bit easier to gain trust into that everything works reliably and stays working, but unfortunately those are still not a thing in most low-level projects.

pure_simplicity(10000) about 21 hours ago [-]

This article recently featured on HN may be of interest to answer your question: https://itnext.io/modern-storage-is-plenty-fast-it-is-the-ap...

io_uring allows for better utilization of fast storage.

junon(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Don't use io_uring until at least 5.10 rc3, if not 5.11. SQPOLL is still to be properly added and fixed and there are some security concerns (e.g. CAP_SYS_ADMIN being replaced by CAP_SYS_NICE to start a kernel submission queue polling thread).

io_uring has many tests in the companion user space library liburing, maintained by the same person that made the kernel patches (Jens Axboe). They test both the library as well as expected functionality in the kernel.

io_uring is not going to give you speed ups if you use it in the same way as you would epoll or kqueue. Thus, simply sticking it into e.g. libuv without changing how the applications are built probably won't give you a lot of benefit (speculating).

It comes down to how you work with the ring buffers and how much you take advantage of the highly out-of-order, memory-barrier-based shared memory approach as opposed to more 'discrete' (maybe not the right word) syscalls.

As of yet, I haven't personally come across a published example of a production framework that utilizes these features adequately. We have some internal IP that does, but probably won't be open sourced.

The_rationalist(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Project loom is gonna make Java threads automatically use io_uring and restartable sequences. Btw netty is currently actively working on io_uring support, which could enable truly non blocking sockets, which could enable truly asynchronous connection to postrgresql through JDBC, which would enable state of the art Spring performance on techempowerup benchmarks

vbezhenar(10000) 2 days ago [-]

What do you mean 'truly non blocking sockets'? There's API for non-blocking network sockets in Java since forever. You just have to explicitly use it. I think you mean using non-blocking sockets even for code which explicitly uses blocking sockets.

pierrebai(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Ah the funny things we resad about in 2020.

In 1985... yes I said 1985, the Amiga did all I/O through sending and receiving messages. You queued a message to the port of the device / disk you wanted, when the I/O was complete you received a reply on your port.

The same message port system was used to receive UI messages. And filesystems, on top of drive system, were also using port/messages. So did serial devices. Everything.

Simple, asynchronous by nature.

As a matter of fact, it was even more elegant than this. Devices were just DLL with a message port.

tyingq(10000) 1 day ago [-]

'In 1985... yes I said 1985, the Amiga did all I/O through sending and receiving messages'

I do remember that, and it was cool. But, lightweight efficient message passing is pretty easy when all processes share the same unprotected memory space :)

agumonkey(10000) 1 day ago [-]

One thing that doesn't change is that every decade people will look at the Amiga and admire it the same no matter how much ~advances have been made since.

StreamBright(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Just like Erlang + receive.

InafuSabi(10000) 1 day ago [-]

A friend of mine was amazed by this capability of the Amiga when I showed him that on one screen I could play mod.DasBoot in NoiseTracker, pull the screen down partly then go on the BBS in the terminal by manually dialing atdt454074 and entering, without my A500 even skipping one beat...

All I had was the 512kB expander, he had a 386 with 387 and could only run a single tasking OS

amelius(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> Devices were just DLL with a message port.

Reminds me of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unikernel

nonesuchluck(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Purely for entertainment, what is the alternate history that might have allowed Amiga to survive and thrive? Here's my stab:

- in the late 80s, Commodore ports AmigaOS to 386

- re-engineers Original Chipset as an ISA card

- OCS combines VGA output and multimedia (no SoundBlaster needed)

- offers AmigaOS to everyone, but it requires their ISA card to run

- runs DOS apps in Virtual 8086 mode, in desktop windows or full-screen

bsder(10000) 1 day ago [-]

All this fuss because Linux wouldn't just implement kQueue ... Sigh.

beagle3(10000) 1 day ago [-]

And it worked, well, with 512K memory in 1985.

The multitasking was co-operative, and there was no paging or memory protection. That didn't work as well (But worked surprisingly well, especially compared to Win3.1 which came 5-6 years later and needed much more memory to be usable).

I suspect if Commodore/Amiga had done a cheaper version and did not suck so badly at planning and management, we would have been much farther along on software and hardware by now. The Amiga had 4 channel 8-bit DMA stereo sound in 1985 (which with some effort could become 13-bit 2 channel DMA stereo sound), a working multitasking system, 12-bit color high resolution graphics, and more. I think the PC had these specs as 'standard' only in 1993 or so, and by 'standard' I mean 'you could assume there was hardware to support them, but your software needed to include specific support for at least two or three different vendors, such as Creative Labs SoundBlaster and Gravis UltraSound for sound).

ww520(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I remember NetWare's IPX/SPX network stack used a similar async mechanism. The caller submits a buffer for read and continues to do whatever. When the network card receives the data, it puts them in the caller's buffer. The caller is notified via a callback when the data is ready. All these were fitted in a few K's of memory in a DOS TSR.

All the DOS games at the time used IPX for network play for a reason. TCP was too 'big' to fit in memory.

Upvoter33(10000) 20 minutes ago [-]

This over-romanticizes Amiga (a beautiful system no doubt) because there have been message-passing OSes since the 1960s (see Brinch Hansen's Nucleus for example). The key difference with io_uring is that is an incredibly efficient and general mechanism for async everything. It really is a wonderful piece of technology and an advance over the long line of 'message passing' OSes (which always were too slow).

gens(10000) 1 day ago [-]

When you want to squeeze every bit of performance out of a system, you want to avoid doing system calls as much as possible. io_uring lets you check if some i/o is done by just checking a piece of memory, instead of using read, pool, or such.

b0rsuk(10000) 2 days ago [-]

How does it make Linux compare to Windows, OSX and *BSD?

Arnavion(10000) 2 days ago [-]

The underlying principle of submitting a job to be done and letting the kernel do it (submitting a read() and waiting for it to complete), as opposed to the original model of waiting for the kernel when it's ready to let you do the job (waiting for an fd to become readable so you can call read() on it) is the same as the completion-based model of Windows async I/O (and I think BSD's kqueue too?) as opposed to the readiness-based model of epoll.

The part of where this submission and completion information involves a ring buffer mapped to kernel space is unique to Linux, I believe.

kzrdude(10000) 2 days ago [-]

The author of the black swan book explained that the covid pandemic was not what he meant by a black swan event. Because it was not something entirely unpredictable.. if we look back, we have been talking about pandemics for decades.

throw0101a(10000) 1 day ago [-]

> Because it was not something entirely unpredictable..

To the point that as part of the Obama-Trump transition, a literal playbook was created for pandemics, with Coronaviruses (MERS-COV, SARS) explicitly mentioned:

* https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6819268/Pandemic-...

They had tabletop exercise on pandemics:

* https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/16/trump-inauguration-...

makapuf(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Maybe, but I fail to see how this relates to Linux kernel (wrong thread, I suppose)

mwcampbell(10000) 2 days ago [-]

> Things will never be the same again after the dust settles. And yes, I'm talking about Linux.

One has to be in quite a techie bubble to equate Linux kernel features with actual world-changing events, as the author goes on to do.

More on-topic though, having read the rest of the article, my guess is that while these features will let companies squeeze some more efficiency out of high-end servers, they won't change how most of us develop applications.

tehjoker(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Well, getting GB/sec speeds instead of 100s of MB/sec is a pretty impressive improvement in disk utilization.

ben509(10000) 1 day ago [-]

He also brings up 2020 because OMG, it's worst year EVAR.

It's not a tech bubble as much as it's a journo bubble. People are reading before they're writing, so he's seeing trendy topics like 2020 and the virus. He feels he needs a hook to get his readers engaged, so he's reaching for things readers can related to.

It's a bad hook. I think an editor would have cut that whole intro.

the8472(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Any async or event-loop runtime can be almost entirely powered by io_uring. Timers, waiting for work when you're out of CPU-bound tasks, most IO syscalls, it all can go through io_uring.

You'll still need a few worker threads for blocking syscalls that haven't been ported to io_uring yet but that need is greatly reduced compared to the previous state of things.

So even if you're not using io_uring yourself the language standard libraries or server frameworks will.

There are WIPs for netty, libuv, nginx. Other projects are exploring it or have announced intent to use it.

perlgeek(10000) 1 day ago [-]

My real hope is that eventually, you can use some higher-level language to write device drivers for things like crappy IoT gadgets using eBPF, without any chance of crashing the machine due to a pointer fu or so.

Knowing that with eBPF I simply cannot crash the laptop I'm working on is a huge deal, and reduces the great psychological hurdle that kernel development always had (for me, at least).

phatfish(10000) 1 day ago [-]

IBM did some great work for the Germans in the 30s and 40s.

girvo(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I despise Facebook, but this is a horrible take. They're not actively in the business of genocide.

dang(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Please read the site guidelines and follow them: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. Note this: 'Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.'

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25222895.

dvfjsdhgfv(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I understand your feelings but it's not fair to blame developers for what the management is doing.

roenxi(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Is that an accusation that eBFP & io_uring are somehow tools of genocide? That seems a stretch. At some point, good work is good work.

It isn't like Alexei & Jens working for a different company and implementing the same features would stop people using them. As TFA mentions, these are likely to be hot, high demand nuggets for many companies and developers.

dmix(10000) 1 day ago [-]

[warning: slight offtopic)

TLDR: Any recommendations on the best way to clone one harddrive to another that doesn't take forever?

> Storage I/O gained an asynchronous interface tailored-fit to work with the kind of applications that really needed it at the moment and nothing else.

Say you have 2x 2TB SSD harddrives and one needs to be cloned to the other.

Being the clever hacker I am who grew up using linux I simply tried unmounting the drivers and trying the usually `dd` approach (using macOS). The problem: It took >20hrs for a direct duplication of the disk. The other problem: this was legal evidence from my spouses work on a harddisk provided by police, so I assumed this was the best approach. Ultimately she had to give it in late because of my genius idea which I told her wouldn't take long.

Given a time constraint the next time this happened, we gave up `dd`, and did the old mounted disk copy/paste via Finder approach... which only took only 3hrs to get 1.2TB of files across into the other HD - via usb-c interfaces.

I've been speculating why one was 5x+ faster than the other (besides the fact `dd` doing a bit-by-bit copy of the filesystem). My initial suspicion was options provided `dd`:

> sudo dd if=/dev/rdisk2 of=/dev/rdisk3 bs=1m conv=noerror,sync

I'm not 100% familiar with the options for `dd` but I do remember a time where I changed `bs=1M` to `bs=8M` helped speed up a transfer in the past.

But I didn't do it for the sake of following the instructions on StackOverflow.

vamega(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Probably faster to copy via finder since it's not actually copying every byte, but only the utilized bytes.

It might be faster to have multiple rsync operations (via xargs or the like), but if the disk is relatively empty I can see this being faster. Finding the right level of parallelism isn't something I can help you with, probably needs some experimentation.

trentnelson(10000) about 19 hours ago [-]

I wrote some Python glue that constructed a bunch of dd commands to run concurrently which helped when I last cloned a 1TB NVMe drive. Resulting commands:

    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=0 seek=0 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=1302349 seek=1302349 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=2604698 seek=2604698 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=3907047 seek=3907047 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=5209396 seek=5209396 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=6511745 seek=6511745 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=7814094 seek=7814094 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=9116443 seek=9116443 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=10418792 seek=10418792 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=11721141 seek=11721141 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=13023490 seek=13023490 count=1302349 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=65536 skip=14325839 seek=14325839 count=1302358 status=progress &
    dd if=/dev/nvd0 of=/dev/nvd1 bs=4096 skip=15628197 seek=15628197 count=6 status=progress &
superkuh(10000) 2 days ago [-]

I suppose this will help for the big corporate users of linux. And I suppose that's where most of the programming gets done for linux. But the rate of change and feature adoption by the big commercial pushers of linux has made linux as a desktop more troublesome due to the constant futureshock.

yxhuvud(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Io_uring will be big under the hood for frameworks and/or programming languages too. But yes, adoption will take a while..

hawk_(10000) 2 days ago [-]

One thing that I haven't been able to get is if this makes things like DPDK or user mode tcp stack unnecessary since the system call overhead is gone.

dathinab(10000) 2 days ago [-]

io_uring reduces but doesn't remove the system call overhead.

Only with in kernel polling mode is it close to removed. But kernel polling mode has it's own cost. If the system call overhead is no where close to being a bottle neck, i.e. you don't do system calls 'that' much, e.g. because your endpoints take longer to complete then using kernel polling mode can degrade the overall system performance. And potential increase power consumption and as such heat generation.

Besides that user mode tcp stacks can be more tailored for your use case which can increase performance.

So all in all I would say that it depends on your use case. For some it will make user mode tcp useless or at least not worth it but for others it doesn't.

cb321(10000) 2 days ago [-]

The batch system call part is not so hard on its own: https://github.com/c-blake/batch

ithkuil(10000) 1 day ago [-]

io_uring interface is designed to allow to encode arbitrary syscalls, although it seems that only a handful are actually supported

jamesfisher(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Who added the two generic Covid paragraphs to the start of this otherwise good article? _Please_ stop.

bauerd(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Such an odd thing to open an article about IO tech with ...

pengaru(10000) 2 days ago [-]

Coincidentally last night I announced [0] a little io_uring systemd-journald tool I've been hacking on recently for fun.

No ebpf component at this time, but I do wonder if ebpf could perform journal searches in the kernel side and only send the matches back to userspace.

Another thing this little project brought to my attention is the need for a compatibility layer on pre-io_uring kernels. I asked on [email protected] [1] last night, but nobody's responded yet, does anyone here know if there's already such a thing in existence?

[0] https://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/systemd-devel/2020-No...

[1] https://lore.kernel.org/io-uring/20201126043016.3yb5ggpkgvuz...

cycloptic(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I was thinking about doing this for an event loop I was working on, but no code to show yet... you probably can get away easily with using pthreads and a sparse memfd to store the buffers.

anarazel(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I'd like something roughly similar, to make the rr reverse debugger support io_uring. That likely can't work like most other syscalls, due to the memory only interface...

ganafagol(10000) 1 day ago [-]

The title of the HN post is missing a suffix of 'for a few niche applications'.

My work is 'programming in Linux', but it's not impacted by any of this since I'm working in a different area.

I'm sure this is important work, but maybe tone down such claims a bit.

capableweb(10000) 1 day ago [-]

'few niche applications' being any application that touches files, network or want to run code in the kernel. Sounds like a bigger target than just 'niche', but I'm no Linux developer so what do I know.

867-5309(10000) 1 day ago [-]

hopefully this will bubble up to higher-level C-esque languages such as PHP, for which asynchronicity is still a pain

junon(10000) 1 day ago [-]

This won't help the lack of async I/O in those languages that do not support the concept as a whole. If it can't handle epoll, it certainly won't handle io_uring.

chris_wot(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Given it uses a queue that has a producer and a consumer, I wonder if a monitor will be required?

gpderetta(10000) 1 day ago [-]

I think that either futexes or polling can be used for notification.

junon(10000) 1 day ago [-]

Can you elaborate? What do you mean by monitor?

adzm(10000) 2 days ago [-]

This feels very very similar to IO completion ports / iocp on Windows. More modern versions of Windows even has registered buffers for completion which can be even more performant in certain scenarios. I'm looking forward to trying this out on Linux.

I'm curious to see how this might work its way into libuv and c++ ASIO libraries, too.

ncmncm(10000) 1 day ago [-]

It is already integrated with asio. Third-party, of course, because that's the whole point: io_uring does not need to know anything about asio, nor does asio need to know anything about io_uring, to get optimal performance.

It's all on github, with accompanying CppCon talk. Asio, by the way, will be C++23's network layer.

cyphar(10000) 1 day ago [-]

You're quite right -- it's basically the same idea as IOCP on Windows, kqueue on FreeBSD, and Event Ports on Solaris.

ithkuil(10000) 2 days ago [-]

io_uring allows the kernel and the user program to communicate purely via shared memory without having to perform a system call, i.e. a context switch to the kernel.

Do windows completion ports also work that way or do they involve a system call to be performed in order to consume completion events?

Historical Discussions: Apple's head of security indicted in Santa Clara County CCW case (November 23, 2020: 669 points)

(670) Apple's head of security indicted in Santa Clara County CCW case

670 points 5 days ago by spike021 in 10000th position

morganhilltimes.com | Estimated reading time – 5 minutes | comments | anchor

A grand jury has issued a pair of indictments accusing Apple's head of global security, two high-ranking officials from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and a local business owner of exchanging bribes for concealed gun permits.

At a press conference today, District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced the charges against Apple's Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer, insurance broker Harpreet Chadha, Undersheriff Rick Sung and Capt. James Jensen.

Sung—second in rank only to Sheriff Laurie Smith in the sheriff's office—is accused of deliberately holding back four concealed carry weapons (CCW) permits for Apple's security team until the Cupertino-based corporation agreed to donate 200 iPads worth about $75,000 to the Sheriff's Office, Rosen said. Sung and Jensen allegedly worked together to solicit the exchange of CCW permits for the tech donation from Apple.

"The donation was pulled back at the 11th hour when our search warrants into this probe began" in August 2019, Rosen said Monday.

In another incident, Sung "extracted" a promise from Chadha for $6,000 worth of luxury box suites at a San Jose Sharks game on Valentine's Day, 2019, before issuing Chadha a CCW permit, Rosen said.

"Sheriff Laurie Smith's family members and some of her biggest supporters held a celebration of her reelection as sheriff in Chadha's suite," Rosen said.

In a written statement, Rosen said Sung and Jensen "treated CCW licenses as commodities and found willing buyers."

"Bribe seekers should be reported to the District Attorney's Office, not rewarded with compliance," he admonished.

Moyer, Chadha and other defendants should not have accepted the offered bribes, but should have reported Sung and Jensen to the DA's office, Rosen added.

Attorneys for Moyer and Chadha maintain their clients' innocence, saying they were collateral damage in an ongoing political rivalry between Rosen and Sheriff Smith.

"Tom Moyer is innocent of the charges filed against him," hie attorney Ed Swanson said. "He did nothing wrong and has acted with the highest integrity throughout his career. We have no doubt that he will be acquitted at trial."

Guy Jinkerton, who represents Chadha, echoed the sentiment. "Based on what I know of the relevant facts," he said, "as well as the voluminous exculpatory documents that I furnished to the prosecutor, to be made available to the grand jury, this indictment of Harpreet Chadha appears to be a grave miscarriage of justice."

In a statement posted to Twitter shortly after the press conference, the Sheriff's Office said: "This is a difficult time for our organization, however, our goal remains to provide the highest level of public safety to the residents of Santa Clara County. The hundreds of men and women who represent the Sheriff's Office will continue to serve our community with compassion, honesty and integrity."

Smith has not been charged with a crime in the DA's investigation, which began about two years ago. In response to questions at Monday's press conference, Rosen said the investigation is ongoing and his office or another grand jury may issue more indictments.

Sung, Jensen, Moyer and Chadha will be arraigned Jan. 11 at the San Jose Hall of Justice. If convicted, they could face prison time.

The DA's continued announcements about the CCW investigation in recent months have suggested that corruption and bribery in the issuing of weapons permits were entrenched in the sheriff's office's highest ranks as Smith was seeking re-election in 2018.

"Call this quid pro quo, call it pay to play, call it give to get—it is illegal," Rosen said. "It is illegal and it deeply erodes public confidence in the criminal justice system. When high-ranking members of a law enforcement agency are at the heart of a bribery scheme, it tarnishes the badge, the honor, the reputations, and, tragically, the effectiveness of all law enforcement agencies."

The investigation has already led Rosen to Facebook's security team.

In recent months, officials associated with AS Solution—a company that contracts with Facebook to provide executive protection—have pleaded guilty in connection to the case. Namely, they are ex-AS Solution CEO Christian West and two of his former managers, Martin Nielsen and Jack Stromgren.

With Moyer, the DA has drawn a line to yet another Silicon Valley giant.

According to his bio on the UC Hastings Law School's Center for Business Law website, Moyer is the chief compliance and security officer at Apple Inc.

"He has overall responsibility for Apple's ethics and compliance program including Apple's Business Conduct Policy, governing the ethical and legal obligations of Apple's Board, executives and over 130,000 employees around the world," it reads. "Tom is also responsible for Apple's global security program including crisis management, physical security, loss prevention, technology, security related investigations and the secrecy of new products and prototypes."

Prior to Apple, Moyer worked as an associate at the Fenwick & West law firm and as an intelligence specialist with the US Navy.

Sheriff Laurie Smith, who has the authority to issue CCW permits, has not been charged with a crime.

Other defendants in the case include attorneys Christopher Schumb and Harpaul Nahal and The Gun Co. owner Michael Nichols. Schumb's lawyer has asked an appeals court to take Rosen off the case, citing conflicts of interest.

Rosen said the investigation is ongoing.

Jennifer Wadsworth contributed to this report.

All Comments: [-] | anchor

xenocyon(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Kudos to the Santa Clara DA for being willing to prosecute crooked cops in his own county. All too often DAs are afraid to proceed against local LEOs and justice is left undone even when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing.

ed25519FUUU(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Without the laws changing why do you think we won't have the exact same thing happen in just a short time?

chmod600(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Sincere (not rhetorical) questions:

What is the reasoning behind CCW vs open carry in a holster? Is it to give some kind of tactical advantage to the weapon carrier? Is it about some kind of general fear people have seeing a gun (and if so, why not police?)?

Is CCW considered to be protected by the second amendment? It says 'keep and bear' which seems more related to a visible weapon to me, but I'm not sure of the history.

agensaequivocum(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Yes generally it is viewed as tactical advantage.

CC has never been held in court to be protected by the 2nd. OC has at the state level only I believe.

rietta(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Unbelievable capricious enforcement of a may issue permitting regime, asking for and receiving bribes! For those who don't know, in many other States a carry permit must be issued by the issuing authority unless the applicant is disqualified for reasons stated in the law.

The irony is these Apple employees previously could have sought and obtained certain out of state licenses by passing the tests and qualifications. Those licenses would have been recognized in much of the country outside of California. However, now once convicted they will be ineligible under Federal and State laws to even possess a firearm for the rest of their lives.

zionic(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's insane that shall-issue is not the defacto standard. If you meet the requirements (not a felon etc) for exercising what is unarguably a constitutional right your participation in said right should not be at the gov's leisure.

paxys(10000) 5 days ago [-]

There is no way that the Apple executive will actually be convicted of anything.

darkstar_16(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Would've been better if the first word wasn't Apple! He's a private citizen that did something on his own accord. That headline makes it sound as if Apple, the company, was somehow involved.

gotstad(10000) 4 days ago [-]

That certainly depends on whether he bought the 200 iPads personally, or if they were provided by Apple.

paxys(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Can't believe all the Apple apologists here. Bribing public officials is a crime, period. It isn't an 'unfortunate situation' or anything else that people are calling it. It also doesn't matter who initiated the bribe. The employee, and potentially the company itself, absolutely need to be charged and prosecuted for it.

randyrand(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I also pay bribes when I feel threatened for my safety and the person i'm talking to has the tools i need for my safety and demands rent.

The only people in the wrong here are the police .

briandear(10000) 4 days ago [-]

The fact that a bribe is necessary is the problem. The second amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms and the "may issue" vs "shall issue" permitting process is a direct affront to that right. Anyone that meets the legal requirements for a permit should be entitled to one. It shouldn't be up to the discretion of a public official to anoint chosen ones based on their own personal feelings. Either requirements are met or not. But a public official shouldn't be evaluating "need." That's not the Jon of the public official. That would be like a public official deciding one media outlet should be allowed to publish and another one denied. Equal protection is violated. Two people with identically clean backgrounds should not have one person awarded a permit and another denied. To get a drivers license, you don't have to prove a need to drive: you pass the test and pay the fee and you are good. And unlike driving, keeping and bearing a firearm is constitutionally protected.

solinent(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't know if it's just a bribe either--who knows what they did to those iPads, I'm sure information from the police could be used for political gain.

hedora(10000) 5 days ago [-]

After going through the process of building a house in CA, I believe we should decriminalize offering of bribes, but not solicitation of bribes.

$100K's of dollars (>> 10% of the total project cost) have been extracted from us by various bureaucratic processes that are outside what is explicitly specified by the law.

I am confident that this would not have happened if we were well politically connected, and had friends that worked at PG&E.

I honestly don't know if we were "just supposed to know" that we needed to make some specific charitable or political donation or something like that, because no one has explicitly solicited a bribe from us.

If it were legal to offer bribes, I could go online, and search for information on who to pay off, and to what ends.

Even better, California could fix the law to eliminate these gray areas. In the Apple case, they could move from "may issue" to "shall issue".

In my case, there could be bounds on permit review durations, and also the cost / benefit of "environmental" regulations: if some ask is too expensive homeowners could "buy credits" by doing something else that would be more effective for the same amount of money.

To be clear, the money they extracted from us for "the environment" will substantially increase our carbon footprint, impact on local wildlife and on the watershed — we planned to voluntarily spend that money to mitigate those impacts because we're extremely concerned about the environment. Now, we've been forced to waste it in low impact ways. I'm not upset that we were forced to spend the money. I'm upset it was wasted.

giantg2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why the company?

Seems like it was just this individual.

newacct583(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Can't believe all the Apple apologists here. Bribing public officials is a crime, period.

This is absolutely true. Soliciting a bribe, as a public official, however, is a much (much!) worse crime. And that seems to be what happened here.

Absent more detail, I think I'm willing to buy that Moyer was just a normal corporate executive faced with trying to work around a corrupt bureaucracy. But yeah, more detail could change that.

fortran77(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Can't believe all the Apple apologists here

I know for a fact Apple used to have 'astroturf' campaigns to keep forum postings about them positive. Perhaps they still do.

flowerlad(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Bribing public officials is a crime, period.

In some countries, seeking bribes is a crime, but giving in to a demand for bribe is not. That seems fairer. When you became a public official you agreed to perform your job dutifully. If a public official refuses to perform his job unless a citizen provides him with a bribe, then it seems like the citizen was forced into bribery by the public official. How is it then fair to hold the hapless citizen responsible for the crime?

SCAQTony(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Thanks goodness (and Darwin) that there was NOT a mass shooting at Apple Park headquarters. I hope the employees that secured these weapons illegally are let go.

crazygringo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't see any Apple apologists here in the comments. Who are you referring to?

All I see is the fact that the Apple employee didn't initiate the bribe, the sheriff's office demanded it (extorted it) and the employee was put in the unfortunate immediate situation of either not getting their lawfully permitted license, or paying the bribe.

At the end of the day it's bribery so of course the employee deserves to be charged (and Apple if it approved it in any way), but the sheriff's office officials deserve much harsher punishment quite clearly.

disown(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> Can't believe all the Apple apologists here.

Really? HN has been a den of Apple, Microsoft, etc worship for a while now. In another thread on the frontpage, people are encouraging people to buy Apple TV. It's partly the social media PR teams these companies hire, it's the advertising and it's also the type of people HN attracts. It's sickening but what can you do.

ohazi(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I disagree. I dislike Apple's practices as much as anyone, but when the #2 person at the sheriff's office is the one soliciting the bribe, you have a problem with the police department that even Apple cannot be expected to fix.

You can argue that they should have gone straight to the DA, and you might even be right, but the only way for this problem to get fixed is by cleaning house at the police department, not by scolding Apple for trying to work with corrupt officials.

Keep in mind that it's incredibly rare for any DA to go against the police, so this case is already unusual. We'll have to wait and see if they actually have the evidence / wherewithal to see this one through rather than just settling out of court for a slap on the wrist.


I actually agree with the comments suggesting that Apple and similar companies will learn from this experience and will use it as an example when trying to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and in that sense, it's important that they be punished too.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that, on a moral level, the police department comes off looking way worse than Apple here, and their punishment should be higher.

Police are given a special position in society where we essentially trust them to conduct themselves professionally and uphold the law fairly. When that trust is misplaced, the checks are slow and unreliable, and corrupt cops can cause a whole lot of mayhem while we're waiting. So if you're going to go after police corruption, you'd better hit hard. It's really, really bad for society to have police who are so comfortable asking for bribes this openly.

It's also bad for companies like Apple to feel like they can just pay the bribes to grease the wheels, but it's a different kind of bad. It's a 'We should punish Apple to discourage a tragedy of the commons' kind of bad, while police openly asking for bribes is a 'betraying the public trust' kind of bad.

throwawaygh(10000) 5 days ago [-]

A private citizen of limited means paying a bribe is somehow reasonable because there's a huge power imbalance.

Refusing to pay a bribe is also a refusal to participate in a racket. Local police can be extremely petty and extremely violent [1]. If a police officer told me he'd let me off for a bribe, I would probably pay it. I wouldn't be paying to get what I want. Rather, I would be paying to avoid the appearance that I disapprove of the bribery (and the possibility of resulting reprisal).

E: And, of course, I would report that bribe as soon as it was safe to do so. And, of course, I'm referring to a scenario where I, as an individual private citizen, am told to pay money to a person with a gun who controls my immediate safety... which, importantly, brings us to the second half of this comment:

But this isn't that.

A high-level exec at one of the world's most powerful companies paying off a local LEO for a permit instead of, IDK, contacting the State or the Feds, is beyond inexplicable.

[1] https://oklahoman.com/article/5666549/woman-recognizes-attac...

robcohen(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I would agree if California was a shall-issue state for CCW, but it's a may-issue state. Essentially it's arbitrarily up to the sheriffs department if you can get a CCW.

Personally, I chose to live in shall-issue states.

caycep(10000) 5 days ago [-]

it's not clear exactly what happened in the article - did Moyer work w/ the sheriff's office to extort Apple for the permits?

smokey_circles(10000) 4 days ago [-]

>It also doesn't matter who initiated the bribe.

What a silly thing to say.

Whether or not you initiated a bribe does not defend your participation in it. True

But ignoring the balance of power for, what appears to be, a reason to hate on Apple is just daft. Shockingly so.

A police offer demanding a bribe is not the same as a police officer accepting one. Just ignores the entire social dynamic of humans. Power dynamics are the central theme of human relationships. This is just a weird form of victim blaming, though not for a moment am I suggesting anyone is innocent here.

The Undersheriff should be crucified as a means of deterrence. You can't have positions of power occupied by those seeking to corrupt them. Which, I think, is not far off your argument, you just want to seem to needlessly drag Apple into this.

They weren't involved, beyond their employee basically stealing their stock. Is that somehow their fault? Should we charge them with criminal negligence for trusting someone? That's not going to have long term consequences for whistleblowers at all

garmaine(10000) 4 days ago [-]

> It also doesn't matter who initiated the bribe.

Well, it does make a legal difference as entrapment would invalidate the legal case against him. (I have no evidence this is what happened here--just pointing out a poor choice of words!)

altdatathrow(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Is it still a bribe when the public official initiates it? I hope they all get into trouble but I do wonder, when faced with a corrupt public official who is withholding government-provided services, at some point does that not simply become the necessary payment as opposed to a 'bribe'?

1vuio0pswjnm7(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Reminds me of the incidents with people working in security for other tech companies, e.g., Uber^1 and Ebay^2.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24227437

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23537357

dboreham(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Hmm. From the article this wasn't a payment of cash to an official. It was a donation in kind to the police dept. I don't know any more than is reported in the article but I will say that some years ago I was subject to a similar 'offer'. Much smaller in scope, and the official wasn't in law enforcement, but similar enough in essence. At the time I thought it a little weird but also assumed 'that must be how things work here'. I passed because the cost wasn't worth the benefit to me. I certainly did not think that I should go inform the police that this official had solicited a bribe.

satisfaction(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Being an Apple apologist is one thing but being an apologist for corrupt government officials is reprehensible. I side with the underdog in this case.

baryphonic(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Can't believe all the Apple apologists here. Bribing public officials is a crime, period.

Apple or no Apple, no one in America should be deprived of their Constitutional rights. I'm more concerned that authoritarian states like California can get away with depriving the people of our explicit rights under American law than I am with people paying bribes just to exercise those rights.

mlindner(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If California had reasonable laws around guns then they could do this stuff completely legally. You don't need apologism to protest the ridiculousness of this.

closeparen(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It looks like the iPads were for the department, not the guy's personal use. It's a little bit dubious given that it's the same agency asking for and receiving the benefit, but money is fungible. Suppose the Sheriff had insisted on iPads for some other department, like the schools.

Governments do stuff like this all the time. In fact constituents get mad when they don't. The Planning Commission is considered derelict in its duty if it just gives away a building permit without getting something good from the developer in return (park, street cleaning program, extra BMR units, promise to use union labor).

SFMTA considers corporate philanthropy, coverage of unprofitable neighborhoods, and low-income discount programs when deciding who gets the permit to run scooters in San Francisco.

If it is bribery when a government agency asks a permit applicant to spend a bit on the agency's mission, then there's a lot more to prosecute all over the Bay Area.

alsetmusic(10000) 5 days ago [-]

As a huge fan (with ink on my skin since 2000) and as a former employee, I'm deeply disappointed. I'm sad for the company's employees who have to live with guilt by association. I know that the people there believe in what they do and their work has been tainted. For shame.

Slightly offhand, I wonder how this will alter Apple's security approach down the line. Not whether they believe in security, but the right road to get there if there's a shakeup.

underseacables(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Technology is a lot like politics: Only the people you like are doing good.

mxcrossb(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's a reminder that most people think that as soon as the system isn't fair or someone does something bad to you, it is now ethical for you to use any means to get what you think you deserve.

SrslyJosh(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> 'When high-ranking members of a law enforcement agency are at the heart of a bribery scheme, it tarnishes the badge, the honour, the reputations and - tragically - the effectiveness of all law enforcement agencies.'

Yep, that's definitely a black mark against the people that have been beating, gassing, and shooting unarmed citizens for most of the last six months. =)

Phlarp(10000) 5 days ago [-]

oh yes, they just started doing all of this in the last six months.

kbenson(10000) 5 days ago [-]

In what way is equating the actions of some police officers with all police officers different than equating the actions of some specific ethnic or religious group with all the people of that group?

If it isn't okay to stereotype based on race or religious affiliation maybe we shouldn't stereotype based on profession either. Just because some group has become the whipping boy of the moment (for good reason), doesn't mean we should assume the worst of everyone in it.

cocoa19(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yikes... I guessed they skipped the mandatory corporate ethics training videos or they just didn't care.

This is the reason large employers have mandatory yearly training videos on ethics, sexual harrassment, insider trading and a plethora of other topics. I used to feel severely inconvenienced every year, 'wasting productive hours', until I was aware of the world out there and how frequent are problems in these areas.

tjpnz(10000) 5 days ago [-]

People at that pay grade are seldom 'inconvenienced' by company e-learning systems.

smallnamespace(10000) 5 days ago [-]

One of my econ profs proposed legalizing the payment of solicited bribes in India [1].

So if an official solicits a bribe, you pay it, then can immediately report them with no legal repercussions. This removes the incentive to hide corruption and let it fester.

This also strongly discourages people from asking for bribes in the first place.

[1] https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/50335.html

lovecg(10000) 4 days ago [-]

At first this didn't make much sense to me as the incentive to protect the official is still there — you're getting something you want, so why ruin it? But reading the abstract it's referring to a specific kind of a bribe — where you have to pay to get something you're entitled to anyway (under a threat of unnecessary delays for example). I doubt it would have much of an effect on another kind of bribe where there's discretion and you're getting something you might not otherwise get at all (as is the case in the article).

Teknoman117(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This article seems to be less about CCW permits themselves and more that a state agency is soliciting bribes for various permits when they realize the wealth of the organizations seeking them.

> Requested $75k of Apple tech to issue a CCW permit to the head of security, etc.

Rebelgecko(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This sort of pay-for-play CCW permitting isnt unusual: it's very common in the May-issue counties that have the lowest acceptance rates (Bay Area and LA). Normally the bribes are just campaign contributions to the sheriff's reelection, so this is notable in that it was a much bigger bribe.

jeffbee(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The Santa Clara County Sheriff is not a state agency.

crazygringo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Two things, to be clear --

1) The sheriff's office initiated/required the bribe, it's not like Apple's head of security was trying to bribe, they were being extorted

2) It's Apple's head of physical security, not software security (since it's not clear at first)

I'm curious -- if a county sheriff's office demands bribes, what is the correct legal course of action in the US? Do you bring it to county court? To the governor's office? To state police? To state court?

And how would you prove that it happened? Who would you work with to legally record audio of the solicited bribe?

paxys(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> I'm curious -- if a county sheriff's office demands bribes, what is the correct legal course of action in the US? Do you bring it to county court? To the governor's office? To state police? To state court?

I imagine anything other than 'pay the bribe' would suffice.

vlovich123(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It takes two to tango and those giving bribes are not exempt from anti-bribery laws (as you can tell since the giver also got indicted). I'll also note that things like this are explicitly called out in the anti-corruption training every single employee of a large US corporation undergoes (or at least the US-based employees).

giantg2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm glad you brought it up as extortion.

You could record it yourself.

I would go to the FBI since this is happening under the color of law, which is considered a civil rights violation. The ACLU should be interested too.

henryfjordan(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The article says that the iPads never changed hands because the Attorney General's office started investigating during all this. It is likely that what happened is another applicant was also asked for a bribe at around the same time and reported it to the Attorney General of California. You can report a myriad of crimes directly to the AG's office: https://oag.ca.gov/contact

wil421(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If the local police try to do something like this you call the FBI. Or if you have enough money to pay a high paid lawyer who knows DAs or Feds. I doubt you would want to go to the county.

In my state and county the local Sheriffs office handles CCW permits. A lot of times they are elected officials and play political games, even denying CCW permits. Glad these guys were held accountable.

seany(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This type of crap is why CA needs shall issue permits for CCW.

tesmar2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Or just do away with permitting and let anyone carry.

RachelF(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why do Apple employees need to carry concealed weapons?

beervirus(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why do we need freedom of speech? Why do you care about privacy unless you have something to hide?

ciarannolan(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I assume these are high-level security personnel at Apple HQ. It doesn't seem unreasonable to have armed security at a place like that.

> A grand jury alleges that Thomas Moyer promised to donate 200 iPads worth $70,000 to the Santa Clara Sheriff's Office in exchange for four concealed firearm licenses for Apple employees.


radicaldreamer(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm sure there are some legitimate reasons (like responding to a workplace shooter) but I imagine a lot more likely is intimidation...

acallaghan(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I mean, why does anyone

mef(10000) 5 days ago [-]

To protect executives and other high value staff

jlawer(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I would assume executive protection, in case some crazy tries to fix the 'covid causing 5G iphones' by assassinating Tim Cook or such.

zucker42(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't see anything that indicates his desire to carry a weapon has anything to do with the fact he is an Apple employee. Some people like to carry concealed weapons for protection.

dharmab(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> Santa Clara County alleges that Mr Sung held back issuing concealed weapons permits to Apple's security team, until Mr Moyer agreed to donate $70,000 worth of iPads to the sheriff's office.

Armed security is common at datacenters, for example.

zepto(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Apple's security chief should be fired over this.

But, this is common practice where there are 'may issue' CCW permits. Either have shall issue, or no issue. Having the sheriff decide just creates a valuable commodity.

jakear(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Ha! I'd bet the security head did not do this of their own accord, there was almost certainly a higher-up approving it. And what would apple do, replace their head of security (who is willing and able to navigate sociopolitical constructs in order to do their job to the fullest extent possible) with some random fellow who would turn around at the first "no" from some beurocrat and report back to senior leadership that the only people who will be allowed to have guns on Apple campus are the criminals? Highly highly doubtful.

If they do get fired, it will be as a scapegoat, probably with a large severance, and any company in the world would hire them up immediately.

vlovich123(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What's even more galling is that if I were personally caught in such a situation as an IC, I would have been fired instantly. That he is the head of ethics compliance at Apple makes it even more galling, especially given that the company forces everyone through this kind of training when really only management & leadership violations of these ethics trainings can possibly get the company into serious trouble.

> He has overall responsibility for Apple's ethics and compliance program including Apple's Business Conduct Policy, governing the ethical and legal obligations of Apple's Board, executives and over 130,000 employees around the world,

A delivery of 200 iPads as a bribe to get CCW permits makes me think it's more involved. Although this may be with his discretionary power, it's shocking to me that the donation was aborted as soon as warrants went out. I'd like to better understand what happened at Apple.

Beyond the problem of 'may issue' permits you raise, I'd love to remove this kind of discretion for discovery. For example, when bringing charges like this the DA must be obligated to initiate discovery of the company documents to investigate how far reaching the problem may be (settlements can't begin to be negotiated until the DA completes discovery).

binarycodedhex(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I lived there for 35 years.

Her Majesty Laurie only bestows a few CCWs to a handful of business people and her buddies. People can apply for CCWs all they want, but she'll never issue them willingly. She's a bureaucrat and a crook keeping the populace defenseless and maintaining LE job security.


gertrunde(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I found one of the last paragraphs quite interesting...

'He has overall responsibility for Apple's ethics and compliance program'

The head of Ethics being involved in bribery? Yeah, that's a problem.

vl(10000) 5 days ago [-]

And this is why we need federal shall-issue CCW permits and common weapon lows. This hot mess of nonsense across the states needs to stop.

floren(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Concealed carry permits in California are the literal definition of privilege, 'private law'. If you're famous, rich, or the sheriff's friend, you can get one. Otherwise, you can pay a couple hundred bucks to apply and get told no. Rules for thee but not for me.

baby(10000) 4 days ago [-]

If you live in a place where you need a concealed carry permit to feel safe, you probably should move to a safer place.

underseacables(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What are the needs for concealed carry at Apple? For some reason this reminds me of Apple's security team attempting to recover (by force) the lost iPhone 4.

ApolloRising(10000) 5 days ago [-]

On apples campus he probably would be allowed to carry just by the business itself, similar to a bank security guard. Off campus is where the permit would be used to carry. They wanted to carry it anywhere in the state where it is permitted for CCW holders, so that's the probably reason they applied. It also allows you to buy a gun without a waiting period (I know this is the case for cops).

ggggtez(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I don't think the need is at Apple, but rather, for personal bodyguards to the CEO. This appears to be the reason Facebook was involved in the same scheme.

cbozeman(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The same reason there are needs for concealed carry every single place on Earth.

You don't want bad actors to know who is - and who isn't - armed.

mlindner(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Concealed carry is the only type of carry in California.

throwaway0a5e(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's just the cheaper (because there's a bunch of things more risky about it) equivalent of hiring a body guard. Why not?

beervirus(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I live in a nice area in a nice town. I work in a place that's generally quite safe.

I still carry a gun. You never know.

binarycodedhex(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Uh, do think any billionaire like Tim Cook can just drive themselves home, go to the supermarket, and throw legitimate concerns about being kidnapped to the wind?

(Although I did run into TC by himself over by Guy Kawasaki's old Garage Ventures' office in Menlo.)

HarryHirsch(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It worries me that the local sheriff thought he could extort bribes from a multinational company and get away with it. And Apple is very much top of the list.

Of course the cops are corrupt, but this degree of corruption is something you'd have thought would happen only in Brazil. It's either more common than we know or this individual is unusually stupid.

cowmoo728(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Bribery for gun permits is also very common in NYC. It's well known that you either have to employ ex-NYPD in some capacity to get a gun permit, or pay cash. Maybe it's slowed down since some high profile arrests in 2017.


DAs don't like investigating cops.

gregschlom(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This story reads straight out like the kind of scenario we have in our yearly mandatory ethics and anti-corruption training:

'You're conducting some business with [public institution] and the person you're talking with would like your company to donate something to the local charity. What do you do?'

Interesting to see that those hypothetical scenarios aren't so hypothetical.

SheinhardtWigCo(10000) 5 days ago [-]

That "training" is completed by clicking 'Next' 50 times, preferably as fast as possible so you can get back to work.

It exists so the company can say it tried to prevent this and shouldn't be held responsible.

jonas21(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Kinda reminds me of that time the Cupertino City Council asked Steve Jobs for free Wifi and iPads in the hearing to approve Apple's new campus:


But I guess they all had a good laugh in the end, so it doesn't count?

1123581321(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's not illegal to joke about bribery.

rjkennedy98(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yeah, Apple doesn't pay taxes, they sure got the last laugh.

thathndude(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Thank you for posting. This is exactly what I thought about. Anyone other than Steve probably would have said something like "that's something we can look into and explore." Leave it to Steve to be like "nah. We pay our taxes. That's good."

dehrmann(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Half of the joke was probably the Cupertino city council being jealous of Google providing free wifi for Mountain View.

Jobs has a good point about 'paying taxes.' In the last few years, a lot of people in the Bay Area outside tech are saying things like 'why doesn't tech do more to build more housing.' They pay taxes, and tech workers living in the cities are paying income and property taxes. The communities should be asking themselves why they, themselves, aren't building more housing. What did they think these added tax dollars should be going it?

giantg2(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This is why gun rights organizations fight for shall-issue rather than may-issue.

guscost(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I will never understand the perspective that "more corruption among gun owners" is somehow better than "more gun owners".

pokstad(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Yup, friends of the sheriff are known to get permits much easier than the common folks.

ponker(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why should Apple security have CCW permits? Why do they deserve them any more than a random person? They should not be able to defend Apple property with lethal force.

kmonsen(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The need to protect executives with lethal force perhaps. I see the CA law only allows carrying unloaded firearms if you don't have CCW, which is kind of useless to protect someone.

alfalfasprout(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why shouldn't people be able to defend themselves and their property w/ lethal force? Should we just let them die for the police to arrive 10 min late?

n0nc3(10000) 5 days ago [-]

A related historical anecdote. The Mulford Act was the first law on the path towards California's strict CCW regime. Whatever your policy preference, it is history worth knowing.


tomatotomato37(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Named after a Republican assemblyman, supported by the NRA, passed by a 2/3 vote in a Democratic assembly & senate, and signed in by Ronald Reagan, all due to a group of Black Panthers protesting inside the capitol building while armed. Who knew all you needed was a racial incentive in order to make the stripping of rights a bipartisan effort.

satisfaction(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This really throws water on any claims that corporations are the entities we need to worry about. It's clearly over reliance on governments that is the problem. Restricting the 2nd amendment is bad enough but then extracting value from others to exercise the 2nd amendment is laughable. Anyone that holds California up as a model for the rest of the country really needs to start paying attention.

wavefunction(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I guess I'd look at the crime rate of the area to assess the necessity of corporatist CCW permits. The intersection of capitalism and freedom is certainly a rotten terrain though perhaps not in the way you'd hope me to think. Perhaps one can choose none of the above and be ethically absolved.

tonyztan(10000) 4 days ago [-]

This is why gun permits should be 'shall-issue' rather than 'may-issue.' In other words, there should be a clear set of objective requirements; if an applicant meets these objective requirements, the government official should be required to issue the permit. This would be similar to driver's licenses.

'May-issue' jurisdictions, such as California, give too much discretion to local officials, leading to arbitrary decisions and cases of bribery. Most states are 'shall-issue' jurisdictions and do not have this type of problem.


jaywalk(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Even shall-issue has become a problem now in some places thanks to Covid. If offices are closed or under-staffed, that 'shall-issue' doesn't mean a whole lot.

rmk(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Help me understand how this bribery works. If someone 'donates' iPads to 'the Sheriff's Office', does this mean that they can be taken by people who work there (for example, Sung could sell them on and pocket the cash)? What is the mechanism here? The cut-and-dry case would be asking for a cash bribe and pocketing it, so is this a way of making the bribe look like something else?

paxys(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Something tells me this was never going to be an official, on-the-books donation. So yes, the iPads would likely never have made their way to the department itself.

_ph_(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Whether the recipients of the iPads had direct personal benefits or they were just donated for the department usage doesn't really matter with respect of bribery. Basically, you cannot make gifts of any larger value to anyone, who is somehow in a relationship to your business. Sometimes it is really annoying, if an honest gift was intended, but these szenarios are exactly the reason, why today you cannot make gifts which exceed a few free stickers or such.

alasdair_(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I thought everyone knew that the best way to bribe the police for a ccw is to buy a poor rural town a new squad car in exchange for them letting you become a police officer (with no actual hours).

Once you are a cop, federal law allows concealed carry in all 50 states, regardless of state law.

jasonladuke0311(10000) 5 days ago [-]

A cute trick I saw when working in a gun store was getting deputized in some two-horse town so you could buy post-sample machineguns[0].

I looked up one customer's 'agency' and the town didn't exist. It was like 4 abandoned houses and it looked (from Google Maps) like no one had been through there in years.

[0] A machinegun manufactured after the passage of the 1986 Hughes Amendment is non-transferrable and can only be possessed by law enforcement agencies or dealers (SOT) with a 'demo letter'. Dudes effectively were LEOs in a non-existent town and bought machineguns that otherwise couldn't be owned by individuals.

asciident(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I feel like the headline is misleading. The more straightforward headline would be that the sheriffs of Santa Clara county withheld concealed firearms licenses to multiple applicants unless they were offered bribes.

It sounds like this has been going on for years. Apple's security chief was one of those applicants who paid the bribe to get the permit. But putting 'Apple' in the title is more clickbaitey.

dang(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This comment was merged from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25192826, which has a different title.

paxys(10000) 5 days ago [-]

How is it misleading when that is exactly what happened? Of course 'world's largest company involved in bribery scandal' is more relevant to people than 'random town's sheriff department is accepting bribes'.

gcblkjaidfj(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> A grand jury alleges that Thomas Moyer promised to donate 200 iPads worth $70,000 to the Santa Clara Sheriff's Office in exchange for four concealed firearm licenses for Apple employees.

Shilling much? It was a corporate sanctioned move. Very clearly. Yet you try to make it pass as a single individual that could have been employed anywhere.

normand1(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I've lived in the Bay Area most of my life. It's well known the only way to get CCW permits in the Bay Area is to 'donate' to the local county sheriff. I'm surprised someone was actually caught. I moved to Washington and got my concealed carry in a few months after filling out paperwork. No 'donations' required.

option(10000) 5 days ago [-]

why the Sheriff is not indicted???!!!

baby(10000) 4 days ago [-]

I'd assume individuals who want a permit vs campus with concentrated amounts of high-net-worth individuals is a different problem. I can't fathom why anyone would want to live in a place where they themselves need a CCW permit to feel safe.

myrandomcomment(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The issue here at the end of the day is that getting a CCW is up to the whim of the local police. Either the federal government or the state government should present a well documented procedure for this that is not susceptible to the whims of a local official.

rjkennedy98(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It isn't in all states. Jessie Ventura changed the rules for that when he became governor of Minnesota.

beervirus(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It's shameful that California restricts basic human rights like this.

larkost(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I think there are good arguments on both sides of Concealed Carry Permits, but how do you come to the conclusion that this is a 'basic human right'? If you feel that, please outline what age you think is too young to exercise this 'right', conditions where it can be infringed (e.g.: a psychopath in jail), and are there spaces where it can be infringed (e.g.: can a daycare forbid it).

dang(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Please don't take HN threads further into generic ideological flamewar. It makes discussion dumber and nastier, and we're hoping to avoid that here.


svrb(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Neat trick: Agents of the state demand quid pro quo for the performance of basic and necessary state functions, then the state prosecutes citizens for complying with these demands. Heads I win, tails you lose.

CobrastanJorji(10000) 5 days ago [-]

They also charged the agents of the state.

carls(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I spoke on a panel with Rick Sung, the Undersheriff who allegedly withheld permits until Apple coughed up the iPads.

At the end of the event, each panelist was offered a Starbucks gift card by the event organizers.

Rick gave his Starbucks gift card to me, saying, 'since I'm here as a public official I can't accept this. Otherwise it would be counted as a bribe.'


SV_BubbleTime(10000) 4 days ago [-]

If your going to do it, go big.

prepend(10000) 5 days ago [-]

What's funny is he still accepted it, but he gave it to you. Seems like he was either not up on his ethics, or he just wanted to appear ethical.

He could have refused the gift. But not sure what California's rule is, but I expect that accepting nominal gifts under a low dollar threshold is allowed.

yalogin(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Wow the sheriff's office is asking for bribes openly like this? I am really surprised. I wonder how common bribes are at that level of the government.

danbolt(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm not an American, but Sheriffs are typically locally elected, correct? I'm curious how that can depend from county to county.

bilbo0s(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Well, probably less and less common since the advent of Civil Forfeiture. So, progress I guess? /s

SrslyJosh(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Police are responsible for more theft in the United States (through 'asset forfeiture') than 'real' criminals.

sandworm101(10000) 5 days ago [-]

At the local level? It is commonplace. Look into how many local police agencies have vehicles or other equipment donated by local citizens. Look at where an elected sherrif gets his campaign funding. There is very little oversight at the local level.

pmoriarty(10000) 5 days ago [-]

At that level of the government?

Not so long ago the US President was impeached for bribery.

snapetom(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I'm surprised that you're surprised. You ask this as if the US is immune to corruption. Maybe the US isn't as blatant as Russia, but you're dealing with humans. Call my cynical, but this is going to happen.

floatingatoll(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I've known (without proof) about this occurring in Santa Clara for at least fifteen years thanks to one of my doctors complaining about the corrupt permitting process, so I'm just happy to see that the DA finally doing something about it (with proof). I assume the DA has some political reason that it finally matters to end this, or else they would have ended it ages ago.

If you're curious to learn more about this kind of corruption, California has another bribe at the state level: the "11-99 Foundation" offers a license plate frame for a $2500 donation that, when placed on your car, mysteriously reduces your chances of receiving speeding and carpool tickets to near-zero — even from CHP. This is apparently legal, since traffic stops are discretionary, and no protections exist to detect or prevent discretionary bias prior to the stop. (Non-caucasians, 11-99 is not rumored to protect against racism, and may well inspire it under the guise of "heard a report of a stolen car".)

I think it's incredibly evil that this is tolerated and I don't give them anything.

KingMachiavelli(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Seems a bit odd that Apple's Thomas Moyer is getting charged or at least that the headline suggests he instigated the whole thing. Unless Moyer was trying to bypass some process or law to obtain the permits, it sounds like the county police are more at fault for demanding the bribe and Moyer just made the bad call of agreeing to pay it.

The article notes that the county/police had been doing this racket for years so it seems likely Apple/Moyer would rather pay the bribe rather than get mixed PR of being a whistle blower (e.g large news outlet runs a piece on how many CW permits Apple requests).

SpicyLemonZest(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The challenge is that it was (I'm pretty sure) within the sheriff's discretion to deny these permits in the first place. So while the sheriff's office was surely wrong to demand a bribe, there was no reason Moyer had to agree to pay it either.

sandworm101(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Those who pay bribes for non-essential special treatment are as much criminals as those who ask for bribes. This guy has serious resources at his disposal and is allegedly willing to pay bribes. One must wonder if he has paid any others. I have little sympathy.

CobrastanJorji(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> it seems likely Apple/Moyer would rather pay the bribe.

It sounds like we agree on the facts. Apple, and specifically Moyer, decided to pay a bribe to a government official. Bribery is a crime. Why do you find it odd that he's being charged?

dusing(10000) 5 days ago [-]

It should not be so difficult for the head of security of the largest company on the planet to get a CCW permit. That is the problem. The system is so flawed, you have no choice but to play the game (bribe). You can't just not have a CCW in the position he holds.

mattlutze(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Why would the Chief Security Officer of a massive corporation need a CCW?

lotsofpulp(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> You can't just not have a CCW in the position he holds.

How so? Unless you mean to claim Apple expects anyone hired for that position to knowingly break the law as part of having that position.

_ph_(10000) 5 days ago [-]

If the system is flawed, you shouldn't support it. Especially as the largest company on the planet. If such a large company doesn't use all its powers within the law to get a fair treatment, who else do you expenct to stand up against such behavior? Have Tim talk to the governor, the president.

Keverw(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I thought this was common place in California since they are a may issue instead of a shall issue state. Remember like 3 years back coming across a YouTube video on this, someone wanted a list of permit holders and how much they donated. But the sheriff office wasn't cooperating with his freedom of information request and tried to say it was illegal to film them without permission. Don't remember what county or the video. Sounds they doesn't respect your first or second amendments in California.

I used to dream about moving there for tech, but with the high taxes and bureaucracy glad I didn't... Still want to move somewhere with more tech than where I am now though, been flipping back and forth between Austin and Salt Lake City (which looks like I might have a opportunity lined up for early next year!). Seems like Utah is growing for tech, 2 hour flight from SV so investors like that since they could fly early in the morning, do some business deals and fly back for dinner.

thatguy0900(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I can't imagine the police only ask for bribes occasionally, once you start why only get new ipads

nickff(10000) 5 days ago [-]

The facts of the article seem to imply that the sheriff's office was blackmailing Apple. I am not sure I'd call this bribery, unless there was some reason the CCW permits should not have been issued (criminal conviction or some other risk). The Apple employee should have known better to agree to the quid pro quo, but I am not sure he should go to prison.

onepointsixC(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Unfortunately the Apple employee is likely to get the book thrown at them regardless. Permits and regulations are like candy to corrupt local officials. Often it's small businesses which get caught up. If they don't play along up then they'll be crushed. So you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. But the law doesn't care.

function_seven(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Agreed. What an awful situation to find yourself in. With the law enforcement demanding an exchange. You have to gamble one way or the other. Either you report the bribery attempt to the DA's office, and suffer the retaliation that ensues from snitching on the DA's friends; or you go along with the bribe and suffer the prosecution from the DA.

How do you know which one to choose? Are you sure the DA will side with you if you blow the whistle? Will you or your employer suffer retaliation from the county law enforcement you just outed? Maybe you're blacklisted from future security gigs by being known as someone who rats on cops.

Whenever government officials solicit bribes from private citizens, the enormous power asymmetry there should lead us to prosecuting just the government official(s).

Of course it's not always this simple. Sometimes the private citizen wields more power than the civil servant they're bribing. In other words, the Mafia or other organized crime. But I'm not ready to put Apple in that column yet.

Wingman4l7(10000) 5 days ago [-]

> unless there was some reason the CCW permits should not have been issued (criminal conviction or some other risk)

California has counties which are 'may-issue' (getting your permit is decided on a case-by-case 'need' basis by the local sheriff) vs. 'shall-issue' (must be issued to the applicant if they have done paperwork correctly and pass background checks). Shall-issue has a very obvious flaw, which is on full display in this case.

wtvanhest(10000) 5 days ago [-]

This one is tricky.

On one hand the CCW permit is for the personal benefit of the person receiving it. If the company needed armed staff, they could simply hire full-time armed guards. There is no reason head of security at Apple needs to be armed using a concealed weapon. They are not going undercover to bust smugglers or whatever.

On the other hand, the payment was to the Sherriff's office, not the sheriff himself. That makes it a lot less like bribery to me because it still benefits the government.

What makes it especially tricky is that it seems as though the Sherriff asked for the payment. If they did and provided official written documentation to Apple, that feels like a professional and real agreement to provide hardware to the government.

At the end of the day, what will make this bad for Apple's head of security is that he was personally benefiting from the Sherriff's actions by receiving favorable treatment for a CCW he didn't need, and used company hardware to get that favorable treatment.

codazoda(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I hear it's really difficult to get a CCW in CA unless you are rich or famous. I'm wondering if that's true?

xyst(10000) 5 days ago [-]

Just move your HQ to TX, and you can get all of the CCWs you want.

ed25519FUUU(10000) 5 days ago [-]

I know you're joking, but this is one of the many reasons I'm glad to be going out the door here in California. This state loves to criminalize normal people and decriminalize actual criminal behavior.

They won't cite you for public defecation but they will cite you for jaywalking, because jaywalkers can be squeezed.

Helloworldboy(10000) 5 days ago [-]

They're building a second donut in Austin, maybe the will. Hopefully tbh

Glyptodon(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Is it wrong of me to think lack of 'shall issue' tends to lead to things like this?

SV_BubbleTime(10000) 4 days ago [-]

Absolutely. Same thing happens in New York where if you are a celebrity it's easy to get a permit.

Historical Discussions: CAPTCHAs don't prove you're human – they prove you're American (2017) (November 27, 2020: 666 points)
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(670) CAPTCHAs don't prove you're human – they prove you're American (2017)

670 points 1 day ago by notRobot in 10000th position

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