Monthly Archives: June 2013

Federal Government Shuts Down NYC Subway R Train For 14 Months

This story is interesting. The subway tunnel that connects the R train to Manhattan was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy. After 2 months of emergency repairs, service was restored.

However, most of the equipment was damaged by the storm. There are signal problems and track switch failures, at a rate 10x more compared to before Hurricane Sandy.

The NYC MTA has two choices for repairs. They can close the tunnel nights and weekends, and do the repairs a little at a time. Or, they can shut down service completely and do repairs 24×7. With partial service closures, it would take 38 months to complete repairs. With a full service shutdown, it would take 14 months to complete repairs.

Going with the 14 month closure, the tube would be available for construction 24/7. There are several reasons why the shorter duration is favorable, including but not limited to the fact that Federal funding has been allocated to NYC Transit to repair damage sustained by the storm and it is required that work paid for with federal funding be completed within 24 months of the project’s start.

The Federal government gave the NYC MTA money for the repairs, PROVIDED work is finished within 24 months. That forces the MTA to shut down service completely, rather than doing repairs during off-peak hours. In effect, the Federal government forced the MTA to inconvenience commuters for 14 months with no service at all.

Small Fixed-Bid Software Contracts Are A Bad Idea

I went on an interesting interview. The employer needed a small custom software project for his business. However, he insisted on only hiring someone on a fixed-bid basis, and not on an hourly basis. He also wanted someone local who would work on-site, rather than some Indian outsourcing firm.

The problem is that, every time I talked to him, he gave a different description of what he wanted. He kept mentioning new features as we were talking about the project.

That’s the fallacy of fixed-bid instead of hourly billing. The odds are almost zero that someone non-technical can write a perfect specification, before seeing a demo. There always are new features you want, once you see the alpha version. I tried explaining that to him, but he insisted on fixed-bid only. I pointed out that, without a written specification, it’s impossible for me to submit a bid. Without a tight specification, I can’t accept the project, because it will only lead to an argument about whether it’s done or not. I also pointed out that, with a fixed-bid, I won’t implement anything not mentioned in the specification, although he could hire me to make more enhancements.

If it was hourly billing, he can change his mind as I work and it’s no problem. When he insists on a fixed-bid, that creates an adversarial situation, where I have the incentive to do exactly what the specification says and nothing else. However, hourly can also lead to problems, if I’m less productive than other people. I know that he’d be getting a bargain with me, but he’s to clueless to notice.

He said that he was going to write a specification, and send it to me to review. I told him that, if he wanted me to help him write the specification, he could hire me for 1-3 days and I’ll work on the specification with him. He got very angry when I said that. He said I should work on the specification for free, to help close the sale.

The fallacy is that, if I write a proper specification for him, then he can hire someone else to implement it. There is no guarantee that he will hire me for the project, after I write him a good specification. For a project like this, a good specification is more than half the work. If I polish the specification to the extent that I’m comfortable working based on it, then he could hire someone much cheaper. If I work based on the lousy specification he writes, then it will only lead to arguments when it doesn’t match what he really needs. If I help him write the specification, I’d be giving him valuable free consulting, and wasting my time.

Also, it was a red flag, that he wasn’t willing to hire me to help him work on the specification. If he isn’t willing to do that, there’s also a risk that I could complete the project and not get paid. He thought he could write a good specification, but it was obvious that he didn’t have the required level of computer literacy to do that properly.

A 1 month project isn’t really worth it, if I have to put in a week’s worth of time closing the sale. It’s better for me to focus on longer-term employment. The time I spend writing the specification for him, could instead be spent going on other interviews or sending out resumes or working on my blog.

I’m also concerned that, if I make an over-estimate bid and finish early, then he’ll be reluctant to pay me, thinking he was robbed. Why else would he demand I work on-site? For a project like this, an over-estimate bid is necessary, given all the risks, even though it’s a simple project.

Due to the inefficiency of the State legal system, if I complete the project and he refuses to pay me, then I have no recourse. It’s impractical to sue and collect.

If he takes his weak specification to someone else, they’re almost definitely going to deliver something that isn’t suitable for his needs. In effect, it’s already a doomed project. He’s fixated on fixed-bid and doesn’t have the skills to write a proper specification. He won’t trick me into writing a specification for him for free, and someone else probably wouldn’t do that or do it as well. I feel bad that I couldn’t help him, but it looks like there’s no way I can work with him without being exploited. It’s a bad idea to work for someone who’s too clueless.

If you’re an individual, a small fixed-bid software project is a bad idea. There are too many risks. Without a proper specification, it’s doubtful that a fixed-bid project would match his needs. If I help him write the specification, then he can hire someone cheaper to implement it. By writing the specification for him, I’d be doing more than half the work. There’s a risk of not getting paid, if I write something that matches the specification but he decides that doesn’t meet his needs. Because he insists on me working on-site, there’s the risk of him refusing to pay me if I finish ahead of schedule. With a very short project, I’ll be forced to look for something new again in a few weeks. I understand the desire to contain costs, but a small fixed-bid software contract pushes all the risks on the programmer.

Reader Mail – 06/09/2013 To 06/15/2013

not_PC commented on Brian Banks, Victim Of A False Rape Accusation.
lol, no surprise there that men are turning more and more "beta". They see shit like this, cringe and do nothing. They know their odds of winning against the system/machine are slim at best, so why waste your energy on this crap? Men Going Their Own Way? Why not? Why do anything else? Maybe get an easy job, some cheap place to live, play games or get a hobby, but why kill yourself working so long when it all can be just taken away from you?

So next time someone sings "Where have all the good men gone?" point them to Brian Banks.

That kid got a raw deal.

josh commented on Rise Of Legends - No Patch Server! - v2.5 patch.
thanks man looking every where for this.

commented on Offensive Interview Programming Tests And Assignments.
Pro-state troll? As I understand the meaning of "troll" and "trolling" that is what it is. It's really ironic that in this capital - labor conflict, and that is certainly what it is, you are regurgitating your masters propaganda. Unbelievable if it weren't so typical.

Juan Daugherty commented on Offensive Interview Programming Tests And Assignments.

Pro-state troll? As I understand the meaning of "troll" and "trolling" that is what it is. It's really ironic that in this capital - labor conflict, and that is certainly what it is, you are regurgitating your masters propaganda. Unbelievable if it weren't so typical.

I'm trying to work out an effective response to this as I refused to take tests for a long time but am now finding the same as a lot of above comment and it was the main reason, I didn't. Very little light here. Programming/software is pure congealed labor and there is much cluelessness evinced here about how that works in society.

I don't see it as a capital-labor conflict. The problem is a heavily restricted market. In a non-free labor market, prices don't clear.

For example, I'd be willing to take a lower salary to get new experience. However, then I'm rejected because "I'm overqualified". It makes no difference to the employer that he rejected a good employee, because it's a non-free market.

When employers make stupid hiring decisions, the market doesn't punish them, because the economy is carved out into a bunch of oligopolies/monopolies. An established business has its market position backed by the State. Regulations make it hard for new businesses to enter the market. Large corporations are subsidized by negative interest rates.

Large corporations have their market position backed by the State. Each large corporation is effectively a branch of the government, with all the bureaucracy and inefficiency associated with government.

In a non-free market, it's hard for talented-but-underpaid workers to start businesses that compete with the established cartel. So, the labor market doesn't clear.

TerrorBite commented on Will GCW Zero Deliver Their Kickstarter Handhelds?.
I backed the GCW Zero Kickstarter. They've been putting out frequent updates and I'm happy to say that all evidence shows they're following through. They are in the process of shipping the Special Edition versions and will begin shipping the Kickstarter reward ones in about four days. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will finally have it in my hands.

Sasa commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.
Dear FSK ,

I understand you about problems in getting a job - but other people in discussion explain you very well situation and your problem.Need to be flexible and positive .

Regarding your last interview , your answer about your opinion of their product:

"FSK: I noticed that you’re planning to charge $20/month to subscribers. How many subscribers do you need to cover your expenses and get a decent ROI for invested capital? Is your potential market that large?"

You put yourself in another role then is role of position which you arrive to apply. That is a reason why "Startup founder" start to be angry .

Your further comments are negative , for that people , too

I wrote you, in my bad English, because I have similar problem like you, in the past. You must decide what you want to do - if you are clever and have better ideas then that "Startup founder" start YOUR BUSINESS or if you are not sure about it , do everything to get that job with whole respect for people who have a courage to start new project, company or whatever.

I respect anybody who make something or who have a courage to get a risk to open position where I apply for job.

About buzzwords and human resource people - you are totally right what you talk about ... but you must skip that step in any way and prove yourself in concrete job.

I wish you lucky in finding a new job (or start your new company !!!)

Some jobs aren't worth having. Those founders were clueless. They invested in a business that could never generate enough cashflow to cover their expenses. They hired an outsourcing firm for their MVP, which was a barely functional turd. It's best to avoid working for fools. I don't mind offending them.

At a startup, that's actually a good way to interview the interviewer. If they don't understand the market they're entering, that's a good indication they're clueless about that (and other things).

Anonymous Coward commented on Stock Pick - Zillow.
Google as thick as pig-shit:


In past posts, FSK has commented that he has visited ClownLand, sorry Google, for job interviews.

Well, FSK did these clowns ask you about concurrency, locking or threads?

Could these fools even pass an undergraduate computer science degree course?

It seems as early as 2005, advertisers can set a maximum daily budget. But the Google clown code is buggy and regularly goes over this.

If you do an Internet search for things like

google adwords budget sue

you will see many articles about people suing Google for over-billing them. Here is one of them.

If Google employs the best computer scientists in the world, why can't they properly synchronize the current daily spend across their servers?

Given the huge cost of clicking on adverts now, at times I only get a handful of clicks a day from my daily budget spread across a whole day. So these idiots have hours potentially to synchronise data. But these fools can't do it and get it right.

The daily advertising budget bug existed since 2005 and even suing Google, can't make their best and brightest computer scientists fix this bug.

What a joke?

FSK said he thought the standards were going down as his second lot of interviewers seemed more daft than the first lot.

Did these clowns ask FSK about concurrency? That would be a laugh. These idiots can't even get their own code to work and being sued multiple times isn't enough incentive for them.

There's be one simple and obvious fix. If Google accidentally goes over the maximum budget an advertiser sets, then only charge them the maximum. Alternatively, start showing ads less frequently when an advertiser gets close to the limit.

Anonymous Coward commented on Stock Pick - Zillow.

You are brilliant.

The Google clowns should have hired you.

Still up to a week ago, Google were regularly going over my budget.

In my humble opinion you are smarter than all the Google clowns.

The trouble is these clowns spend all their time saying how smart they are instead of cleaning up the nasties in adwords screwing over advertisers.

I don't understand why you're upset about Google cheating advertisers. If it sucks so much, stop using it. (However, Google does have a near-monopoly position in search advertising.)

Anonymous Coward commented on Stock Pick - Zillow.

I actually have very recently stopped and moved over to advertising on, microsoft and yahoo properties. The cost per click is typically 5 to 7 cents as opposed to 80 cents and well above on google.

Traffic to my website has almost tripled and decent money flowing in.

Google has taken money from me in obvious click fraud and despite being a long-standing customer of theirs who has put a lot of money their way, they refused to give the specified money back.

I merely wish to comment in my opinion they are either dumb or purposely dumb, because it suits what they want.

Anonymous Coward commented on Stock Pick - Zillow.

I could likewise say, why are you so upset about nice Uncle Ben printing lots of money and giving it away to his friends? He has a nice beard. You should use BitCoin, gold or silver if you don't like the US Dollar!

not_PC commented on Bridgewalker Bitcoin Wallet Is A Scam.
Gold and precious metals are being demonized by MSM and their backers. The same group looks at BitCoin and shrugs. People see this as an "alternative" and take the plunge.

Also remember that electronic gold-backed monetary systems were ruined by the State, via stricter banking regulations, anti-"money laundering" laws, and raids on the warehouse where the gold is stored. The only reason Internet gold-backed monetary systems "failed" is due to State violence.

Bitcoin has no central repository and no warehouse to raid, making it "better". However, it's fiat just like State paper money. The State crackdown is occurring on businesses that make it easy to exchange your State money for bitcoins.

not_PC commented on New Android Boneheaded Design Decision - MTP Transfer Mode Instead Of USB/UMS/MSC Mode.

I got a quick question. I just got a resume-consent form from a recruiter. Should I sign or not? Basically, it seems like a commitmenty type of document saying that if I want to work for corp X, I need to work with recruiters at company Y...

Now, this whole deal smells... I know...

But what would you recommend? Go with their little plan?

Anonymous Coward commented on New Android Boneheaded Design Decision - MTP Transfer Mode Instead Of USB/UMS/MSC Mode.

Google purchased the Android operating system from an external company rather than writing it themselves. Android itself is based on Linux.

Google only hires the very best computer scientists (cough!). I'm sure the problem is at your end.

AC: It could be an Android bug or it could be a Windows bug. All I know is that it worked on my Droid 3 and it doesn't work on my new phone.


As long as the consent form mentions ONE SPECIFIC CORPORATION, it's OK to go ahead and sign it. It also should be time-limited (1 year). Basically, the headhunter is trying to avoid a fee-fight, if another headhunter tries to submit you to the same position.

If the consent form does not mention a specific corporation, don't sign it, because it's a blank check that could prevent you from applying to other jobs. If it isn't time-limited, you shouldn't sign it, in case you try to work directly for the corporation a few years later via other means.

However, this step is unnecessary. The fact that the headhunter is asking you for it is a tipoff that he's clueless.

Do you have any contacts already working at that corporation? If you do, don't sign it. If you don't, then you're not giving up much.

I'd sign it, but don't expect anything out of it.

Even if you do get a job at the corporation via other means, if the hiring manager likes you, he'll go ahead and pay the headhunter fee. Headhunter fees usually come from a different budget than salaries, assuming it's a large corporation.

not_PC commented on New Android Boneheaded Design Decision - MTP Transfer Mode Instead Of USB/UMS/MSC Mode.

Recruiter: "The hiring manager insists on a PHP test, just because he's not very technical. It should take you 1 to 3 hours."

Neither is the recruiter.


not_PC commented on New Android Boneheaded Design Decision - MTP Transfer Mode Instead Of USB/UMS/MSC Mode.

This is for a position of a "senior" PHP developer... it would be assumed that I know most of the stuff associated with this stuff...

Lately, my policy has been to refuse such tests out of principle. Whenever I take the test, it never leads to an interview. The test is a sign that hiring manager and headhunter are both clueless.

For one recent interview, I took the technical test, they told me I passed, and I still didn't get an on-site interview.

If you have a couple of hours to waste, go ahead and take the test. I doubt you'll get an interview, an offer, or if it's someplace worth working.

Another rule of thumb is that it's a bad idea to work for someone so clueless that he can't realize he's getting good value from you as an employee.

I've already covered this a lot elsewhere. A technical test is an insult to someone with a lot of experience and with a CS degree from a top university. A competent hiring manager should be able to evaluate someone by talking to them for a few minutes. If he isn't willing to invest a few minutes evaluating you, given your experience, then he isn't worth your time.

However, given how bad the job market is, there are plenty of people willing to jump through the hoop. If you refuse, you'll be labeled "not a team player", and they won't feel bad about rejecting you.

Anonymous Coward commented on New Android Boneheaded Design Decision - MTP Transfer Mode Instead Of USB/UMS/MSC Mode.

A few months ago I decided I shouldn't be so cynical and I did a programming exercise for a company who advertised on JoelOnSoftware. From experience, the programming exercise seemed like real work rather than a programming exercise. Usually programming tests are very academic or about some silly thing like triangles or sorting etc.

Anyway I wasted at least half a day to a day doing the programming exercise. I tested it thoroughly. It was a parser and it worked perfectly.

I emailed it to the manager in the evening. The manager previously had talked to me a few years ago and he remembered my email address. He asked me to apply for the job.

The next morning I got a rejection email. I asked him several times what was wrong with the software I wrote. He couldn't come up with one thing.

It was strange because I was forewarned of the job post and the job post would have only been up 8 hours before I got the rejection email.

As such the manager rejected someone 8 hours after the job was publicly posted and this person (me) got a perfectly correct solution. It is likely I was the only applicant at that time.

I suspect the manager wanted a free parser written. I guess a lot of programmers couldn't have done this kind of work.

So even though it sounds bad, FSK is absolutely right. A lot of job postings with pre-interview tests are a complete waste of time.

I've heard Google has wasted a lot of peoples' time with interviews. Some people say they were only offered contract work, with a low salary, or at the wrong location or simply Google rejects so many candidates (false negatives) that they expect you (and some employees state this publicly) to apply on three different occasions. Who has that amount of time to waste?

If you did well in the first set of interviews and didn't get a job offer for a non-technical reason making you go through the whole process again when they know you are good, is a waste of time.

I Bought A Moga Android Gaming Controller

My new Android phone is a Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike my Droid 3, it has no keyboard. I settled on “hacker’s keyboard” for typing. As an added bonus, “hacker’s keyboard” works great with Dosbox Turbo, having the DOS function keys. With proper configuration, it’s almost as good as a physical keyboard. I’m not 100% used to it yet. However, a touchscreen sucks for many games.

I decided to buy a bluetooth gaming controller. The finalists were the Gametel controller and the Moga controller. The Moga controller is available in stores, but the Gametel controller is Internet-only. I don’t have a convenient way to accept deliveries, so I settled on the Moga controller.

The Moga controller uses two AAA batteries. (Rechargeable batteries don’t work.) I haven’t yet seen how many hours the batteries last. The Gametel pad is directly rechargeable, but that also can be problematic, because rechargeable batteries wear out after awhile.

You shouldn’t use the default driver that the manufacturer recommends. Instead, there’s another app that allows use in any game, by providing keyboard mappings.

However, that’s my biggest complaint with the controller. It has two analog sticks but they’re mapped to a 4-way D-pad. Allegedly, there’s a defect in the Android OS, regarding analog gamepad input.

Overall, I like the Moga controller. It fits conveniently in my pocket. I like the way it clips on the phone. However, I don’t see the point of analog controls when the Android OS doesn’t support it. It also is annoying that I have to use the “unofficial” driver to use it with emulators like Retroarch and MAME4Droid.

Collecting Information Is Not Evil

As you almost definitely heard, there was a scandal where an NSA whistleblower said that the NSA was recording a database of all phone calls and all E-Mails. More precisely, they were recording metadata, a list of the parties to each E-Mail and phone call. Given that information, it is possible to determine a lot about each person.

For another example, whenever your cell phone is on, that enables GPS tracking of your location, based on what cell towers you can connect to and the time it takes for a signal to reach the cell tower. It wasn’t clear if the NSA tracked this information, or it is merely stored by the phone corporation for years, in the event of a subpeona. Allegedly, there is an automated way for police to request information from certain providers, such as Google, Verizon, AT&T, Facebook, etc., without requiring manual review of each request.

40-50 years ago, there were many scandals where State spying power was abused. That led to sharp restrictions. However, when secret spying programs operate, it’s impossible for non-insiders to object, because they’re secret. Now, the State has almost unlimited electronic surveillance power. That comes from technological advancements, plus laws that give them more leeway.

This data collection is “legal” due to a technicality. All the information is collected, but only “approved queries” may be run against the data. Allegedly, no request has ever been rejected. The “oversight” is a secret. It’s impossible to tell if the information is used responsibly.

Suppose that you are charged with a crime based on this “illegally” collected data. Can you challenge it in court? Not necessarily. Suppose a policeman reviews the secret database and decides you’re guilty. Then, he uses other information during his investigation, such as “I smelled marijuana outside his apartment, so I searched it.” The State police don’t have to disclose that the secret database led to your imprisonment, because they will only present other evidence in your trial.

Allegedly, the Patriot Act is primarily used to stop drug dealers.

By itself, collecting information is not evil. If the police could be trusted to only use the information to solve real crimes, there would be no problem. (A real crime is murder, assault, or destruction of property.)

The real problem is that many activities have been falsely classified as crimes. Many innocent-seeming activities are illegal. That gives State police power to imprison anyone, by spying on them and then taking a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement.

A pro-State troll says “Don’t worry. If you don’t do anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about.” However, many innocent-seeming activities are crimes. For example, I download old out-of-print computer games (“abandonware”). Technically, that’s illegal, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, and most of those games aren’t available otherwise. If a prosecutor wanted to aggressively pursue me, he could accuse me of “criminal copyright infringement”.

A pro-State troll says “That could never happen. The government would never decide someone is guilty and then fabricate charges.” Consider the case of Charlie Engle. Charlie Engle made a documentary about running across the Sarah Desert. An IRS agent saw the film, and concluded that there was no way he could afford it on his reported income. Therefore, Charlie Engle must be lying on his taxes. After investigating, there was no evidence of tax evasion. However, the investigation did lead to the discovery that Charlie Engle lied on a mortgage loan application, something millions of other people did without being prosecuted. Having already wasted money on an investigation and needing to justify it with a conviction, Charlie Engle was prosecuted for lying on a mortgage application. That’s an example of abuse of State spying and investigative power. An IRS agent decided that Charlie Engle was guilty, he was investigated, and convicted for something that had nothing to do with the original investigation.

The NSA information database could be used to “Charlie Engle” practically anyone. Once a State investigator decides that you’re guilty, he has a lot of power to make a conviction stick, even if it’s something unrelated to the reason he originally suspected you.

The most disturbing part is if someone is investigated based on their political beliefs, and then the State “justice” system is used to harass them. For example, police could decide to crack down on everyone who reads “market anarchist” blogs.

The problem is not collecting information. The problem occurs when someone imprisons me, takes away my property, or denies me a job based on “secret evidence”. They secret evidence does not need to be mentioned in a trial. Secret evidence can be the lead that causes an overzealous investigator to ruin someone’s life.

The NSA information database is not, by itself, evil. It is evil when combined with the State “justice” system. If State police could be trusted to act 100% responsibly and ethically, there were no selective enforcement, and there were no bad laws on the books, then the database would be as wonderful as its advocates say. When many innocent-seeming activities are classified as crimes, State prosecutors have tremendous power to imprison someone that they already decided is guilty. What makes the database truly evil is that the database could be used to identify “subversive persons”, and then the State “justice” system is used to ruin them.

New Android Boneheaded Design Decision – MTP Transfer Mode Instead Of USB/UMS/MSC Mode

On my old Android phone (Mototola Droid 3), when I plugged my phone into the USB port, it mounted as an external HD, giving me a drive letter and full filesystem access. My new Samsung Galaxy S4 does not do that.

It took me awhile to realize this was an “enhancement” to the Android OS, and not a defect in my phone or the way I wa a using it.

For the old Android phones, I was using what’s called USB/UMS/MSC mode. That lets me mount the phone’s SD card as a full Windows drive. I get a drive letter. The SD card is inaccessible on the phone while it’s plugged into my USB port.

Theoretically, I could edit the SD card contents and mess up my phone, while it’s plugged into the USB port.

The new Android phones support MTP Transfer mode instead of USB mode. What’s the difference? I can still access the SD card while it’s mounted in Windows. However, I don’t get FULL access to the phone’s storage, only the bits that the Android OS chooses to allow. (Basically, I have access to everything except the protected OS directories.) Also, I don’t get a drive letter. Instead, it’s mounted as a generic Windows drive.


On the old Android phone, I could open a text file in notepad (usually blog drafts), and then save them directly back to the phone.

With my new phone, I can open a text file in notepad. However, I CAN’T DIRECTLY SAVE IT BACK TO THE PHONE. I have to save it as a file on my local PC, and then copy it over to the phone!

However, I’m not sure if this is a bug in the Android OS, or a bug in Windows, or a combination of the two. I should be able to open a file in notepad, edit it, and save it directly back to the phone.

By removing USB mount mode and switching to MTP mode, I lost one of the big uses of my phone, easily preparing blog drafts! Now, I have to edit the file, save it to my PC, and then copy it back to the phone!

I also have a warning for any Samsung Galaxy S4 users. DON’T INSTALL THE DRIVER THAT COMES WITH THE PHONE! I tried that, and I wasn’t able to connect the phone via USB anymore! Instead, use the default Windows 7 driver.

Bridgewalker Bitcoin Wallet Is A Scam

This business is interesting. You deposit Bitcoins with Bridgewalker Bitcoin Wallet (BBW). BBW then guarantees that the FRN-deonominated value of your account will stay the same.

For example, if you deposit $20 (USD) worth of Bitcoins, and the Bitcoin/USD exchange rate goes up, then you have fewer Bitcoins in your account but still $20. Conversely, if the Bitcoin/USD exchange rate goes down, then more Bitcoins are added to your account so that the value of your account stays at $20.

Do you see the fallacy?

First, the guarantee is impossible. If the Bitcoin/USD exchange rate crashed, there’s no way BBW could meet its obligations to its customers. BBW almost certainly doesn’t have enough reserves to cover the loss. (They might covert customer deposits to USD immediately when you make your deposit, but that defeats the purpose of using Bitcoins in the first place.)

Second, you’re making an interest-free loan to BBW. If you believe that Bitcoin is a better currency to hold then USD, then why would you give up the upside when exchange rates move in your favor?

Finally, BBW could practice fractional reserve banking. In other words, they could Ponzi it. When you deposit Bitcoins with BBW, they can immediately spend them. They keep a small amount of Bitcoins in reserve in case customers demand a payout, but otherwise they can spend their cutomers’ money on other things.

Notice the statement on the website, “Our transaction fee is 1.5%.” That is false, because there also are all the costs I mentioned.

That’s one disturbing thing about Bitcoin. It’s attracting scam artists, looking to exploit people.

Bridgewater Bitcoin Wallet is almost certainly a scam. It is impossible for them to meet the guarantee they promised their customers, preserving the USD-denominated value of customers’ accounts; if the Bitcoin/USD exchange rate crashed, they would be stuck. What’s the point of holding a Bitcoin account pegged to USD, especially if you believe that Bitcoins are a better investment than USD? Finally, they can practice fractional reserve banking with customers’ money.

Reader Mail – 06/02/2013 To 06/08/2013

thisguy commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.
You should write books!

That's on my list of things todo.

MikeB commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.

Alot of your analysis is terrible, and your premises suck. True, there's was alot of hype around Ruby and Rails, then Python and Django, now JS and Node.js. The exaggerated amount of hype doesn't mean any of them suck. There are phenomenal successes and fantastic failures that involve all of these technologies, because in the end, picking a good technology won't build the product for you.

By the way, you have obviously succumbed to the anti-Node hype, seeing as how you claim Node.js can't use more than 1 core. It can - you spawn more processes and use message-passing between them, just like you would to parallelize Ruby or Python. It's actually quite easy to run parallel processes on Node (and Ruby and Python...).

Node of course also has the advantage of leveraging the V8 interpreter, which is very, very quick (for a dynamic interpreted language that is). If you know Javascript well enough (or one of the languages that compiles down to it), Node.js is a great choice - fast, lots of libraries, good design, easy to set up/be productive.

Good programmers will probably be successful using just about any technology - Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, Java, Scala, .NET, Clojure, Node.js, Haskell, even Common Lisp and OCaml. Bad programmers will just blame the technology when they fail, and will probably write shitty generic code in a 'safe' technology (usually some MS technology that gives them alot of hand-holding...).

Kevin R Wise commented on Do Disabled Veterans Deserve Respect?.
You are a stupid person and that is okay. I was injured severely defending your right to free speech. What you people don't realize is that we fight on other countries soil so that the wars stay their and do not come to our soil. As a person that has been all over the world and in countries that do nto have free speech, you should thank a soldier every day that we were their to stand up and fight. Without men and women like us we would be a British State, or speaking Japanese. Without us you guys would have nothing.

I went in knowing the risks and now am medically retired. If you have an issue with that tough shit. I believe in free speech and know with certainty that without us there would be none.

Brian commented on Rise Of Legends - No Patch Server! - v2.5 patch.
Thanks for this mate.

Steve Gaffney commented on Don't Sign An NDA Before A Programming Job Interview.
Thank you for this information. I will definitely keep it in mind while job searching/interviewing.

MikeB commented on Yahoo Will Buy Tumblr And Ruin It.
Flickr is better than ever now...

MikeB commented on How To Win A Stock Picking Contest.
In a contest where there is no real money lost, of course you should take the highest reward risk. That doesn't mean the same trader will take the same risk with real money. A smart trader knows the difference - when to take a risk and when to play it smart.

I definitely don't want someone "smart" like Jon Corzine managing my money.

Whenever you are playing with other people's money, the incentive is to take unnecessary risks, because you get to keep the profit when you're right and it's not your loss when you're wrong.

Anonymous commented on Reader Mail - 05/19/2013 To 05/25/2013.
One theme of your blog is that government monopolies and forced taxation is bad.

I think that healthcare should be provided by the government and paid for our of taxation. Some decades ago the National Health Service probably worked well in the UK.

But successive Labour and Conservative governments have wrecked it with increased bureaucracy and increasing privatization, such that hospitals are paying more and more of their budget to private firms to do very little. Effectively the NHS is a cash cow for their friends.

I was born in the United Kingdom and have a UK passport. I have lived here most of my life and pay the high taxes here. If you add up all the taxes we pay probably 60% of our income.

Yet I am trying to see a National Health doctor for a minor ailment. I can't.

My registered GP now works privately and has a locum filling in for him. It was a waste of time seeing him. I then went to the hospital up the road where they have a walk in clinic. THIS IS IN THE SMALL AREA OF LONDON IS WAS BORN IN. Yet this hospital tells me I am not in their catchment area. They only told me this just before my registered appointment so it effectively just wasted my time when I could actually have been trying to get another appointment.

There was a debate on the BBC television programme Question Time about whether it is right that illegal immigrants over here access our National Health Service for free. What a joke? I am a UK citizen paying UK taxes and I can't access out National Health System.

I am told I can't even attend the walk in clinic of the nearest hospital (and incidentally right in the small area of London I was born in) because I am outside their catchment area.

You are wrong. The main reason healthcare is expensive is that the State artificially restricts the supply of doctors, via the licensing cartel. Nationalized healthcare is a patch for a State-cause problem, the artificial shortage of doctors due to licensing requirements.

You're making the classic fallacy. The government causes a problem (undersupply of doctors and high prices). The solution is to give the government more power, via nationalized health care.

Anonymous commented on Reader Mail - 05/19/2013 To 05/25/2013.

I did hear somewhere (probably a comment on that a lot of A level students with straight A grades tried to get into a UK medical school, but found there weren't the places.

The result of this is that a substantial number of our doctors have to be imported from abroad.

If I didn't have to pay 60% of my income in taxes (due to tax law in the UK I can get hit with very large tax bills due to increasing property prices with taxes proportional to market values), then I would have the money to see a private doctor.

What seems to happen is that a private company builds a hospital or clinic at a vastly increased cost and so the NHS trust (government) has to keep paying this private company vast amounts of money each year (for ever or at least 30 years into the future). The results is there is no money actually to treat and see patients. All the money ploughed into the NHS from taxpayers goes straight out again to private companies and the banks they have taken out loans from.

Effectively a big pile of money is given away to private companies. The NHS falls apart. The staff of the private companies have the money to pay privately - everybody else is subsidizing them and as a result too poor to pay privately.

The banksters and their cronies end up the only people in the UK that can afford healthcare.

In the USA, each hospital is given monopoly access to 911 calls in a given region. If a group of doctors try to open a new hospital, then the OTHER HOSPITALS are the ones who lobby against opening it, preserving their cartel.

There are many qualified students who don't get into ANY medical school. There are people who want to work as a doctor, but are denied access to the profession by the licensing cartel. When you talk about high prices for healthcare, it's pointless to not also discuss the licensing cartel for doctors.

Theo commented on Who Would Forget To Repair The Roads?.
We have institutionalized 'that's not my table.'

ylabidi commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.
If your prime concern is something that will get you a job in the next 5-10 years, you probably should stick to Java or C#. Most of the enterprise development is done on top of these 2 platforms (J2EE and .NET) and if any major shift to a new platform is to happen, it's going to take some years, which leaves you enough time to recycle.

I do think however, that your premise for why to learn a language or a framework within a language's ecosystem is a bit shallow. There is more to learning a language than its popularity or performance.

1- First of all, performance is relative. It's not a mandatory requirement for all application domains. Of course there is always an expectation for a reasonable performance, but then again "how much reasonable is" depends on the requirements at hand.

2- Comparing Ruby, Java, Python or C++ to each other is meaningless. Each of these language came into being, and is used now, to solve more or less overlapping sets of problems. You'll almost never see a web application developed in C++. However you'll find web application developed in Python, Java and Ruby. Python and Ruby are mostly used for prototyping, rapid development and scripting. That's why you'll find them used a lot in startups. Twitter's back-end for example, was first developed in Ruby, then it was migrated to Java and Scala, once the service gained visibility, user-base, and performance became an issue. This example also tells you, that there is room to using more than one language within the life-cycle of one single product. And you might even use more than one language concurrently to develop different components for the same product.

3- The language shapes to a certain extent, the way you reason about the problems you are trying to solve. And learning a well-designed high-level language will introduce you to a set of constructs, abstractions, patterns that will help you model the problem in a minimalist/concise/efficient way. And at the end of the day, even if you have to develop your solution in a lower level language, you'll know what constructs and abstractions might make your life easier and use libraries that you wouldn't know they exist otherwise. And ultimately that's what makes you a better programmer and one worth hiring. It's not the language you know or think you know, it's your proficiency in reasoning about problems in an abstract way and your ability to choose the right tool for the job.

If my goal is to get a job, the only concern appears to be keyword matching on resumes.

The higher-level languages have their pros and cons. My experience with .NET and Java indicated that the performance slowdown can be a LOT more than 2x or 3x, especially for something calculation-intensive or data-intensive. If I were the head programmer for a startup (I doubt that I'll ever have the opportunity unless I bootstrap my own business), I would use a higher-level language to start and then rewrite the performance-critical parts in lower-level languages.

The other advantage of higher-level languages is the libraries that come packed with the language or addons. For example, it would be difficult to do the equivalent of PHP's file_get_contents (from a URL) in C/C++. However, I've had bad experiences with many packages, when the functionality I wanted didn't exactly match what the package provided, or I wind up getting stuck due to a bug in the package I'm using. In those cases, I usually wind up having to rewrite it myself.

I haven't met a single hiring manager who tried to evaluate overall ability, rather than just matching # of years experience in each language. Of course, I may not even make it to that stage of the interview, due to a lack of proper keywords on my resume.

Nobody is interested in a candidate who has a lot of experience, but not in the specific languages the employer is using. I should lie on my resume. Then, I'd have a lot more opportunities.

I'm pretty sure that I could learn any of these newer languages as needed. I'm concerned that, 5 years from now, something else will become popular, and then I'll be stuck with more useless experience on my resume. Even though Microsoft is heavily pushing .NET now, in a couple of years they may have something new that completely replaces .NET.

There's 100+ languages and frameworks out there, and every job ad DEMANDS EXPERIENCE IN THAT LANGUAGE AND FRAMEWORK. I don't just need C# experience; I also need LINQ experience. I don't just need Java experience; I also need Hibernate experience. Which should I invest time in learning? If I pick the wrong thing, I'm wasting my time. Even if something is popular now, that's no guarantee it will still be used 5 years from now.

It gets ridiculous after awhile. Some employer demand git experience. I've used subversion a lot, but that experience doesn't count. I specifically need git experience.

I agree that Java and C# are above-average choices. They're popular, good enough, but nothing special. However, most "senior" level Java and C# jobs require 5+ years of experience IN THOSE LANGUAGES, PLUS WHATEVER ADD-ONS THE EMPLOYER IS USING, and I've only used them a little. I'm "underqualified" for a senior programmer job, due to lack of the "correct" experience. I'm "overqualified" for an entry-level job. Therefore, it's hard for me to find any job at all.

ylabidi commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

There is a reason why an employer would consider an experience with git as a mandatory requirement if your only experience with source code management tools is subversion. Git is a distributed source code management system and it enable a set of workflows completely different from those enabled by subversion. And some employers might consider the learning curve of a new scm/workflow as an overhead not worth investing for. If you had an experience with mercurial for example, I am sure a manager who knows what he/she's doing, will consider your application, because an experience with mercurial is transferable to git without much overhead.

Again statements like "The higher-level languages have their pros and cons" should be tied to a specific context. Pros and cons with respect to what exactly ? All is relative to a context.

Also I think you should rethink your approach to the whole notion of a career in software development, if you want to be successful in it. Since the inception of software development, newer languages overtaking older ones, newer design/analysis/programming paradigms overtaking older ones, older languages/paradigms coming back into fashion once more, is the normal trend. What's happening now, is that cycles are increasingly shortening.

And hoping for one single language or paradigm to be your ticket throughout your career is not realistic and nor is it practical. Software engineering like any other business is about solving problems. To solve problems there are fundamentals you should know about and master. The implementation technology, however is changing all the time. And that change is driven by practical needs. And in the case of software engineering, the needs revolve around 2 major axes:

1- accommodating newer hardware and newer paradigms of using the hardware

2- shortening the gap between how programmers think about software and how a machine understands it.

And I don't see any of these 2 goals being achieved anytime soon.

Bottom line, if you want to work in software development you have to accept the fact, that a minimum of continuous learning is not a luxury, it's must. And learning is not only about languages, it's about also about the fundamentals, about how the industry is changing on different scales, about the innards of software engineering, about the perception end-users have about how a software is used. All of that does have a direct impact, on software engineering.

For a typical team of 5-10 people, the differences between git and subversion are negligible. With git, you can do fancy stuff with branches and merges, but my experience is that it's always a headache. It's impossible to write a program that merges differences 100% perfectly, leading to problems.

I did give a context of higher-level languages pros and cons, things that are calculation-intensive and data-intensive. For those, the higher-level languages have much worse performance than I expected.

I don't object to learning new languages. My complaint is that I already need WORK EXPERIENCE in whatever the employer is using. Everyone says "learning it on your own doesn't count". Plus, there are so many things, which should I focus on? Overall skills are what's most important, but every employer focuses on keyword screening.

I am nearly certain that if I had 5+ years of experience in Java or .NET, I would have no trouble finding a job. It's all about the keywords. However, 5 years ago, I did not predict that they would be so popular. I should have done what some of my coworkers did, write key systems in .NET with lousy performance so they could pad their resume.

Software isn't like fashion, where a different style is popular every week. If experienced people are kicked to the curb every 5-10 years, then of course every recycled old trick like continuation-passing-style-callbacks seems hot and exciting. You need to keep churning the popular style to change with the fads? If you have high emotional intelligence and low logical intelligence, you follow the fads. There are some universal truths about software. The skills I learned on older projects are relevant for projects in newer languages, although employers don't value that experience.

You certainly sound like the clueless hiring managers on most of my interviews. I don't fit into the modern "software engineering" culture because it's dominated by twits like you. It's the "bad money drives out good money" problem. If almost all the leaders in an industry are evil and incompetent, then the best people are driven from the field.

ylabidi commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

All I am saying is: change is the rule everywhere. You can embrace it and move on with your life, or you can keep whining about how great you are and how people are too dumb to see it :-).

And by the way I am not a manager. I am a developer :-). And If I was manager I wouldn't hire you. Not because you lack experience or talent. But because you lack adaptability and open-mindedness.

You completely missed the point of my post, which is "What should I spend my limited time and resources learning? Go? Something else?" I've always learned things as needed, but employers demand I have an exact keyword match for their job.

Why are you so eager to convince me that I'm a loser who deserves to never have another software job?

ylabidi commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

I know what your post is about :-), and I answered that question. But I do think the question itself underlies what might be the real problem, of why you're finding it hard to find a job in the first place. And I am throwing in my 2 cents, hoping that it might be of help. And I am sorry if this turns out to offending for you and I'll cut it here.

Good luck!

Every employer asks for # years of experience in each language. I haven't been asked any programming theory questions or algorithms questions. I am aware that learning overall software skills is best if you value ability, but every employer focuses on keywords. The only reason I'm focusing on resume keywords is that's what the people doing the hiring are looking for.

I'm stuck now, because my resume keywords are considered obsolete. I need to add more current keywords, but which ones?

My skills for understanding requirements, going through legacy code and understanding/debugging, and understanding business logic should be valuable in any language. I have not found any employer who asks values that.

When was the last time you looked for a new job? Have you ever looked at any job boards?

ylabidi commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

I've changed twice over the last 3 years, and I might do it again if the current experience turns out to be unsatisfying for me.

There is also something you should pay attention to. You chose an employer, the same way they chose you. Employers are not all keen on finding an exact match to a check-list. Some of them will take a risk (either by necessity or by intent) to invest on someone if he/she shows the aptitudes and willingness to learn and step outside the trail. I'll agree with you, those are not easy to find. But you'll eventually stumble on them. And all you need to do, is being methodical and perseverant, in your job search. I know this is not easy when the practicalities of life, are weighing in, but it's worth doing.

It also gets harder when you get older. I know it shouldn't matter, but I see it on his face when the hiring manager sees that I'm older than him. I'm not that old, but age discrimination starts to kick in at 40. People say "Why should we hire you when we can hire a recent college grad, or hire an H1-B visa who has to leave the country if we fire him?" They say "If we're going to hire someone who isn't a perfect match and let them learn on the job, why not hire a recent college grad instead of FSK?"

I have made some bad decisions, picking jobs that I knew weren't that great, but I needed a job. Then, it sticks with you, because you're only as good as whatever you worked on in your most recent job.

Dave commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

Hey man,

The reason you're not getting jobs is because you're not a pleasant person. It would be a nightmare to work with someone like you. You are not an open-minded or flexible person. You are mostly negative. And you are not someone who questions his own assumptions. You think you're right all the time and know everything, but it's so clear to anyone who reads your posts how limited you really are.

You are not a mature person, and you need a little more of that "emotional intelligence" you seem to deride. When you become a more well-rounded person, then you will begin to see the folly of your ways and you might get a job.

Stop thinking you know everything and rethink your assumptions.

How much of my blog have you read? According to my piwik logs, you only read my post on "Test Driven Development" and this one.

I am open-minded. I'm also willing to call out a stupid idea as stupid. I'm much more polite at work and on interviews.

Actually, I might be too well-rounded. Most people want someone they can push around, rather than someone who's able to think for themselves. I don't find into the box of clueless abusable worker anymore, so that makes it harder.

It's much easier to think "FSK is having a hard time finding a job because he's a pathetic loser." rather than "There is a fundamental structural problem with the job market."

I don't understand why a post on "Should I learn Go?" degenerated into a discussion of "FSK can't find a job because he's so unqualified."

Here's an example from a recent interview.

Startup founder: We hired an outsourcing firm in India to develop version 1.0 of our product. We want to hire someone to put the final finishing touches so we can release.

[FSK mental translation: The Indian outsourcing company gave them a barely functional turd, but they're too clueless to notice.]

Startup founder: Look at our product and tell us what you think.

[FSK finds a bunch of obvious bugs and flaws.]

FSK: I noticed that you're planning to charge $20/month to subscribers. How many subscribers do you need to cover your expenses and get a decent ROI for invested capital? Is your potential market that large?

Startup founder: (angry) We're only looking for a code monkey. We don't want someone negative about our product.

FSK: I'm just doing my due diligence. I don't want to work for someone who's going broke in a few months.

Startup founder: You aren't the right person for us.

FSK: Goodbye.

Was I being "overly negative"? Or, was I asking reasonable questions, and they got offended because their best answer was "Duh! We don't know what we're doing!"? It's better to avoid working for clueless people, so I don't mind offending them. Besides, they thought they had an almost-done product, but it was pretty obvious that the Indian firm delivered a POS that met their spec closely enough to get paid.

If someone's dumb enough to start a software business without a technical co-founder who will implement version 1.0 (MVP) by themselves, then they deserve to fail and get ripped off by a shady outsourcing company. It's a bad idea to work for someone that clueless. My "rude negative questions" helped me discover that they were clueless about the business-side of their startup as well, entering a market where their revenue could never cover their expenses.

MikeB commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

I just read one of your blog posts from 2011, deriding Node.js and complaining about getting a job. Now it's 2013, and you're still complaining about not having a job.

Guess what, there's a shitload of Javascript jobs available. Many of them are Node.js jobs. And many of those are for established companies who aren't bankrupt, and some of them are for startups which may or may not go bankrupt.

And concerning your algorithm that's slow in JS, maybe your algorithm is just slow? If I write a recursive fibonacci algorithm in Ruby it takes 10 seconds to calculate the 40th number. If I write an iterative fibonacci algorithm in Ruby I can calculate the millionth number in a few seconds.

As for Go, yes learn it. Although I think Rust may be a better language, and Mozilla's technologies are more likely to stick (Javascript for example), so maybe learn that. Learn whatever helps you build whatever you want to build for yourself. If your only concern is getting a job though, maybe suck it up and just use Node.js and Javascript? First you should probably fix your attitude though.

As for 'slow languages', check out what Javascript is capable of: Not too shabby if you ask me...

There are a lot of Javascript jobs, but they require several years of Javascript experience already, and I've mostly done back-end work. Also, they don't just require Javascript experience, but also whatever framework they're using around it.

I'm not eager to work in node.js or Rails, because then I'd have to work with hipsters and jerks like you.

There's a certain personality type that's attracted to node.js and Rails, because they evaluate the hype and not the technical merit. It's best for me to avoid such scum.

That's a common pattern. People who have a bad attitude accuse me of having a bad attitude.

My algorithm was not slow. It was a brute-force approach to solving a Video Poker hand by checking all the cases. It ran in milliseconds in C/C++, but 5+ seconds in Javascript. That makes me wary to use Javascript for anything serious, and makes me question the intelligence of people who say that Javascript is fast.

MikeB commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

It's relative. Javascript is slow compared to native code, fast compared to other dynamic languages. Fast enough for robust servers, and in the browser fast enough for fairly complex games, though nowhere near C++ performance.

And sometimes results are more important that technical perfection or merit. I do quite a few scripts in Ruby, why? Because I can accomplish what I want with throwaway scripts that I can program in a few minutes, who cares if I need to wait 5 minutes for them to finish... I'll get a coffee, chill, and still be well ahead of where I'd be writing it in a statically typed OO language like C++ or Java. If I need to write something that requires serious performance, I'll use OCaml and get performance closer to C++, with alot less effort. .

You also mentioned finance in several of your posts, why not get another programming job in the finance industry? They pay well, and generally go for 'safe' languages like C/C++, .NET, Java, etc...

I've used Perl and PHP for short scripts. I've never seen a job ad mention OCaml.

The financial industry is still a lousy job market. Most of the C/C++ stuff has moved on to .NET, and I've only used .NET a little. Similarly, I've only used Java a little. Most .NET or Java jobs require 3-5+ years of experience, but I've only used them a little.

The C/C++ jobs usually are in a UNIX/Linux context, and I've mostly used C/C++ on Windows. It's silly, but I don't get past the keyword screening phrase for C++/Linux jobs, because my experience is C++/Windows.

MikeB commented on Is The Go Programming Language Worth Learning?.

Yeah, OCaml is quite obscure - great language, great compiler, very productive (and fast!), but also very different from C++/Java/C#... A few large corporations use it internally, but not many.

Why not brush up on your Unix/Linux knowledge? It really isn't that difficult, all my machines are Linux, even my non-tech literate wife can use our home machines with ease. Going from C++/Windows to C++/Linux should be a fairly easy transition.

I'm already pretty knowledgeable with UNIX/Linux. It's just that employers want you to already have job experience, and not my ability to learn on my own. The only difference between C++/Windows and C++/Linux would be learning the UNIX-style socket and multithreading libraries (literally, changing one library call for another), plus the lack of some MS-specific classes (mostly CString, but I wrote my own version once).

It makes no difference if I read up on the small differences between C++/UNIX and C++/Windows. It only counts if I already have work experience in that area. That's what the people doing the keyword filtering say.

Anonymous commented on Incompetent Verizon Wireless Store Employees.
I saw two National Health Service General Practitioners very briefly in the past two months.

I came in with a glaring strange defect in my body. It won't kill me anytime soon, nor does it stop me doing anything.

Both GPs couldn't bother to question me about how this could possibly have started. Neither offered any advice on how to fix it.

The presentation of the symptoms is an obvious clue as to how it happened, but both doctors couldn't be bothered to ask or follow up or make any conclusions.

It was obvious they wanted to say as little as possible and do nothing.

I made a proper appointment with a walk-in-GP-clinic at the nearest National Health Hospital (incidentally in the same area and trust I was born in), but just before the appointment they phoned to tell me I wasn't in their catchment area.

Doctors have to train for 5 - 7 years and learn all about how the body works in an almost molecular and cellular level. Yet all that training and they were completely useless - or didn't care.

I used Google to find out about my symptoms. Most articles say if you have my symptoms you should see a doctor. I saw two and both were as good as asleep.

It was difficult, because there is so much information and so many different things can cause the problem I have.

Anyway this is what I found out:

3% of the population suffer from what I have at the moment. 10% of the population suffer form a related problem at some point in their lives. It usually lasts for a few weeks or months and then goes away. If you change your environment, lifestyle and what you eat it most certainly will be fixed. I am missing out the specifics for the sake of my privacy. Also there are cheap pharmaceuticals that can help fix the problem or at least some of the causes. Also there are many natural plant derived supplements that will help available from any high-street health store.

I have made some of the necessary changes. It is hard to give a figure, but about 40% of my symptoms have gone in just over 1 week.

It didn't need surgery or huge expense to fix my problem. Just some common sense advice that even prehistoric man and animals knew about.

It is a pity that two National Health Service doctors couldn't be bothered to give me some common sense advice to fix my physical problems. Perhaps their training was to academic and didn't cover the commonplace problems that affect a considerable percentage of the population at some point in their lives.

I did look at complaints about the UK National Health Service and one person commented that perhaps the UK has a lot of doctors pushed into the profession by their parents instead of having a real vocation for the work i.e. actually caring about people.

So 6 - 7 years of training and studies were completely pointless. They can't even pose the following question in their mind:

"Why should a perfectly healthy body start to spontaneously malfunction? What could have been the cause? The symptoms are strange and obviously a big handle in finding out what had caused it."

My conclusion is both doctors did not have working, questioning and functioning minds, yet had both managed to pass 6 - 7 years of study!

Anonymous commented on Incompetent Verizon Wireless Store Employees.

If I was cynical I would say, National Health doctors purposely give bad service to encourage you to pay to go privately.

It seems in vogue at the moment for NHS doctors to claim a government salary (from 60% taxation), give each NHS patient 5 minutes time and run a private business on the side.

I remember visiting my NHS doctor several years ago and handing him a report from a medical practitioner paid for with private money. The report would have told him what was going wrong with my body and why. The uncaring doctor refused to accept the report from me and just said to leave it with reception. He never followed up. That was my third visit with the same problem and it was obvious he just couldn't care.

Remember that doctors get paid based on the amount of stuff they do to you, and not based on whether or not you get better.

Anonymous commented on Incompetent Verizon Wireless Store Employees.

This time I registered with a National Health Service GP centre definitely in the right catchment area.

The building in a National Health Trust one.

The doctors are employed by the National Health Service i.e. from government/taxpayers' money.

Yet their website says if you pay them cash you can see them privately.

This is immoral. The building is paid for by taxpayers. Private practice there for cash should be banned as it is subsidized by the taxpayers.

Why should government salaried doctors be allowed to work for cash on the side privately in government provided buildings?

Anonymous Coward commented on Incompetent Verizon Wireless Store Employees.

The theme of this post is incompetent employees, but perhaps my comment here may be stretching the theme slightly.

In Google Adwords (customers pay to display their adverts on the Google search page and optionally on third party websites) you can specify a daily maximum budget.

I have found that every day Google exceeds my daily maximum budget. Even over a month, this never averages out i.e. pay less one day and more on the other.

I have seen posts by other Google advertisers saying that Google regularly exceeds their maximum daily budget.

Is this programming incompetence? Given Google has many servers and localized web search pages i.e,, the cumulative daily spend has to be coordinated across different machines, such that adding one more clicked advert does not exceed the maximum daily allowance. This is a concurrency issue to do with accessing shared data.

Why can't Google get this right? Google code obviously has bugs in it. It does not work as you would expect it to. Why can't Google get a concurrency issue correct?

FSK states he has been to two interviews at ClownLand, sorry Google. Many people state that Google asks them technical questions. Is this intellectual dishonesty? Google can't even get their own code to work.

It is not point a Google employee asking a difficult question, when Google itself can't write concurrency code that works.

Perhaps if FSK goes to another interview at ClownLand, he can ask this clowns why their code is broken? Perhaps FSK could ask his interviewers to write code on a white-board that actually works for this problem?


Anonymous Coward commented on Mark Zuckerberg Has High Approval Rating Among Facebook Employees.
How much profit does Facebook make?

Are their adverts working out?

According to Yahoo Finance, Facebook is making a profit of $0.05 per share. That is a profit, but not enough to justify a share price of $23.

Allegedly, some advertisers are getting frustrated with Facebook, claiming the return on ads isn't worth it.

Anonymous Coward commented on Mark Zuckerberg Has High Approval Rating Among Facebook Employees.

All large companies are guilty of bad things of various kinds, but Microsoft Advertising seems to work for me at the moment.

One of my websites used to be near the very top of the 1st page on Google. It was at the top for over 7 years. This isn't surprising. I have a vast number of links from real people that love my software. My software was the first reliable piece of software in its genre. I practically made the genre.

Costs on Google advertising have risen from $0.05 to $0.75 - $2 plus. In a bang, my website fell drastically on Google natural search results earlier this year. Google ad costs went up again.

Google really are trying to break the economics of my business. They downrank my website and then jack up the advertising costs again. I've seen other people make the same observations.

Advertising with Microsoft is easily an order of magnitude cheaper than Google. Yes, has less traffic, but the cheaper costs make up for it. With Google Adwords, you have to constantly watch and tweak and watch out for keyword combinations that are cheaper.

Google Adwords is an insane game. You have to spend days playing silly games with Google to try to get economic advertising out of it. It just a vast, silly waste of time. Keywords on are so much cheaper, you don't have to play silly games trying to find out how to make advertising economic.

Just by giving Microsoft Adcentre a small amount of money everyday, I am getting real, diverse web traffic back to my website to the numbers I got last year before evil Google downranked my website.

Money is flowing in again to normal levels.

Google really are greedy pigs. They are just not reasonable.

At best their auctions for keywords are opaque.

JKD commented on FSK Asks - Android Virtual Keyboard Apps?.
Would really recommend the Dvorak keyboard. I find it very fast to use on phone though don't use Dvorak anywhere else....yet.

Also, there's an app called SlideIT that's supposed to be very nice for typing. I downloaded it but never used it since Dvorak works perfectly for me. Cheers

I'm not so sure about Dvorak. That's a layout optimized for touch typing, and not for phone usage.

My biggest complaint about my new phone is that I can't type without looking at the phone. I'm looking for a layout with big keys so I can type without getting dizzy on the subway.


FYI: I picked Hacker Keyboard. The clincher feature was being able to adjust the size and hide rows in landscape mode. Now, I can have the landscape mode take up almost the whole screen, but leave a little bit so I can see what I'm editing.

Also, Hacker Keyboard works with DosBox Turbo.

MP commented on FSK Asks - Android Virtual Keyboard Apps?.

I've also used Thumb Keyboard, which has a few nice options. It looks like Hacker's Keyboard is better now than when I tried it last though.

John Rambo commented on FSK Asks - Android Virtual Keyboard Apps?.


this is John Rambo, Anti-Feminist Soldier. I am posting this on behalf of Peter-Andrew: Nolan© also now known as Joschua-Brandon: Boehm©. I am doing this because, as a young men who knows Peter well, I know he has our best interests at heart.


It is well known that five years ago, April 2008, I spent a month suicidal as I went through the process of disowning my former children. When I came out of that rather unpleasant experience I contacted other men who had been similarly affected. I realized that many men were killing themselves because of the criminal abuse of the family law courts all across the western English speaking world.

As a direct result of this experience, and my compassion for my fellow men, I made a vow in June 2008 to re-introduce the rule of law into Australia and Ireland. Naturally, at the time I made the vow I had no idea how that might be done. We call it “throw your hat over the wall”. You make the vow and “figure it out later”.

Along the way I have talked to many tens of thousands of men, perhaps as many as 100,000 men have seen at least one comment by me one way or another. What I heard from men in 2008 was that they were DESPERATE for a remedy for the crimes being committed against them in the family courts. They were DESPERATE to find a way to end the criminal effects of feminism on their lives. Because so many men told me the same thing I mistook this to mean they actually WANTED to solve the problems of the family courts and feminism. As I said. My mistake.

Through very extensive research and labour, and collaborating with the best and brightest, the remedy for both the family courts and feminism was proven on 2009-11-26. A mere 18 months after I was suicidal. The court meeting that I did on 2009-11-26 I regard as one of the finest achievements of my life. Regardless? The very men I risked my life to create a remedy for have ignored that remedy, preferring to whine, bitch, moan and complain because that is far more rewarding to them than actually solving their problems. If they solved their problems they would have nothing to whine, bitch, moan and complain about.

The remedy has now been available 2.5 times as long as it took to develop and has proved uniquely unpopular. I am hated for even talking about it. The blood of every man who kills himself due to criminal abuse in the family courts is on the hands of those perhaps 100,000+ men who have heard from me and done nothing. I did all I could. They did not. It is actually very simple.

The mechanism for men to free themselves now is the Mens Business Association. The MBA provides individual based services to get men out of the control grid. Such services may well save the mans life from suicide. Going forward? It is necessary to create second economy outside the control of any government entity. Why criminals in governments can dominate and control men via the economy they will continue to do so. There is no reason for them to stop. The MBA is the proposal of a second economy outside the control of the government. This is a NECESSARY ingredient for men to live in freedom.

Only a small percentage of men will want to live in freedom. Those men who want to live in freedom? You are invited to watch a short update on how we are going in our efforts to get the second economy going. Naturally? The second economy will grow just as quickly or slowly as men join in and contribute to it. Those who want to “stick with the government run economies”? You are welcome to do so. I wish you luck with that because you are going to need it.

best regards

your brother peter

MikeB commented on Stock Pick - Zillow.
Zillow does have a nice website. Not sure about their financials yet. Their revenue is quite low for a $2B company. They could however take off...

I'm personally more of a trader, mostly on Asian and European markets. My approach has been to time and trade already established companies, rather than gamble on startups. But that's just my comfort level.

Good luck with Z, your analysis does seem pretty decent - they could double up or better in the next few years, assuming they find a better way of monetizing their site.

Stock Pick – Zillow

I made my first stock purchase in awhile, Zillow. All my other recent investments were PM ETFs, SLV and PHYS. I figured I should make a non-PM buy. I bought 100 shares on Monday at $56.15/share. (I know. I’m already behind. Don’t judge an investment based on the performance over a few days. I may average down if it drops more.)

Zillow has a chance to outperform gold and silver over the next 5-10 years.

There are many risks in any stock market investment. There’s the Principal-Agent Problem, where the CEO and executives are tempted to line their pockets at the expense of shareholders. The CEO can waste shareholder money hiring his friends at overpriced consulting contracts. There’s all the waste and inefficiency of a large corporate bureaucracy. There’s dilution of your ownership as the CEO and executives grant themselves shares and options. Zillow might provide returns good enough to overcome this drag.

Due to the Ponzi nature of the stock market, the more people I can convince to copy my investment, the better my returns will be! I will explain my analysis, because it’s interesting.

Anyone who works in the real estate industry and has computer literacy knows that it’s a market ripe for disruption. A lot of fruitcakes have approached me with their multi-billion idea for a real estate listing website. I’ve developed a good idea for how I would build a real estate listing website. Zillow matches my “ideal” real estate website pretty closely. I looked at Zillow’s closest competitors, and their websites are junk by comparison. Now, when a fruitcake approaches me with his stupid real estate website idea, I’ll respond “Forget it! Zillow is better than your website ever will be.”

Here is one example. When you search rentals, Zillow has an option for an in-unit washer/dryer. Zillow’s closest competitors don’t offer that feature conveniently. That’s just one example. There are many little things that make Zillow’s website much better than its competitors.

That is my #1 reason for investing in Zillow. As a software professional, I analyzed their website, and concluded that their programmers are much better than their competitors. However, there is no guarantee that will continue in the future. There can be a management change and all the competent people quit or get fired. Some fool may have a brilliant idea of rewriting their website in the latest trendy language, and then it would suck. (I tried to find out what technology Zillow is currently using, but couldn’t. They mention WordPress, which is a sign of competence.) Even with that risk and all the usual risks of stocks, I’ll invest a little in Zillow.

When I told my some people that I was considering investing in Zillow, they said it was a stupid idea. That’s how I know it’s a good investment. One person said “The real estate market is crashed and dead. Forget it.” People are still going to buy and sell homes. It may still be slow, but it’s guaranteed to recover eventually.

One person said “$50/share! That’s too expensive.” That’s a classic fallacy. When buying a stock, you only care about percentage gain or loss. The price per share is irrelevant. It’s the same to buy 100 shares at $50/share or 500 shares at $10/share. The true price of a stock is the market capitalization. At $2B, Zillow is cheap, especially compared to $18B for LinkedIn and $55B for FaceBook.

My “evaluate website” technique is pretty simple. I type my zipcode into the search bar, and look at the results. I look around a little, and check out the ease of navigation.

Here is a list of the top real estate listing websites. Notice that Zillow is #1. Zillow has the most listings and the best Alexa rank. (There are problems with Alexa rank, but it’s hard to fake a high rank.) If you search for “Real Estate Website”, Zillow is the #1 Google search result.

#2 is Yahoo Real Estate. Yahoo is a corporation run by twits, so I can immediately dismiss them. Zillow and Yahoo have an agreement to share listings, which seems weird.

#3 is Trulia. Their website is clearly inferior to Zillow. On my slow DSL, it’s laggy when it loads. Trulia just made a $355M acquisition of MarketLeader, which is cause for a concern when someone is trying to grow via mergers rather than building a better business. (Zillow made some acquisitions, but smaller ones.) Trulia has a decent amount of listings, but a lot less than Zillow.

#4, #5, and #6 are,, and The domain name is a tipoff that those websites are run by clueless people. Their founders/CEO probably are fools that think they’re going to succeed just because of the domain name. Their websites aren’t as nice as Zillow, and they have too few listings to be interesting.

#7 is RedFin, which has a stupid business model. They’re hiring agents and paying them a salary instead of commissions. They only offer service in areas where they have agents. Why is that stupid? That isn’t a proper Internet business. If they have to hire agents in every city where they list homes, they are never going to get the scale benefits of an Internet-based business.

The other websites have too few listings for me to waste time analyzing them.

Summarizing, based on quality of website, # of listings, and Alexa rank, Zillow is the clear market leader. Internet real estate listings is likely to be a winner-take-all market, like eBay. People will go to the site with the most listings, both to list their own home and to search for a home.

I was surprised that craigslist didn’t make the list. However, craigslist’s text-based UI is not optimized for real estate. Craigslist uses the same text-based UI whether you’re renting an apartment, looking for a job, or hiring a prostitute.

It is hard for the Internet to replace real estate brokers, due to the “double disintermediation problem”. For a typical real estate transaction, BOTH parties usually use a broker. This makes it easier for brokers to enforce their cartel, because most brokers will refuse to deal with discount brokers or someone who has no broker. In order to do a cartel-free transaction, both parties need to be acting independently, which is rare when the cartel controls almost the whole market.

Real estate is a big financial transaction, so most people feel the need to have a broker helping them. I’m an adult and can negotiate for myself, but I understand that most sheeple don’t think that way. When you realize that a 5% commission on a $500k home is $25k, that’s a BIG price to pay for having someone help you. Also, the broker suffers from the Principal-Agent problem; his interests are not perfectly aligned with his client. When selling, the broker may try to bully you into lowering the asking price so he can score his commission. A broker is willing to risk $1k-$2k off his commission to seal the deal for a $24k commission, but the home seller is losing $25k-$50k in asking price. A broker might try to convince you to buy a home you might not have otherwise.

Real estate brokers control the “national listing service”, a database of all homes available for sale. There is no Internet-equivalent. The national listing service charges huge fees for access, so they aren’t going to put their database on the Internet for everyone to see. The “national listing service” is the main thing that gives real estate brokers their market power and cartel. The Internet has the potential to eliminate that. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s almost guaranteed to happen eventually.

Currently, Zillow does not directly compete with brokers. If they did, brokers would not list their units on Zillow. Instead, Zillow makes money from advertisements. However, if Zillow convinces enough individuals to list directly, then Zillow could start challenging brokers. Zillow is currently the market leader, giving them an advantage for when the Internet replaces the real estate broker cartel.

My #1 reason for investing in Zillow is that their website is way better than their competitors. As a skilled software engineer, I can make that analysis better than most people. However, there are many risks with any stock, including the risk that Zillow will fire all their competent employees and ruin their website. Even adjusting for these risks, Zillow may outperform gold over the next 5-10 years. Zillow is the current market leader in a potential multi-billion dollar a year industry. With a market capitalization of only $2B, it’s a good risk.