skybrian's recent activity

  1. Comment on Stop shopping - America needs you to buy less junk in ~life

    skybrian
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    It seems like the amount of thought you put into a purchase should depend on its price? The price is basically a summary of its effect on the supply chain in one number. If it’s in short supply or...

    It seems like the amount of thought you put into a purchase should depend on its price? The price is basically a summary of its effect on the supply chain in one number. If it’s in short supply or particularly environmentally damaging, the price should be higher. That’s how the feedback works.

    Thoughtful consumption basically means deciding if it’s worth it to you given its price, or if you should pick a substitute. Asking people to understand all the supply chain issues that go into making a product is unworkable.

    The benefits of having a thing aren’t so easily boiled down to one number, but people will do more research for big-ticket purchases.

  2. Comment on Microsoft angers the .NET open source community with a controversial decision in ~tech

    skybrian
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    Having helped implement the IntelliJ support for this feature for Dart, this doesn’t seem particularly suspicious to me on the face of it. Testing hot reload in every environment seems like a lot...

    Having helped implement the IntelliJ support for this feature for Dart, this doesn’t seem particularly suspicious to me on the face of it. Testing hot reload in every environment seems like a lot more work than just shipping it in one IDE and on one platform to start and collecting feedback. It can be disappointing, but teams make decisions to drop features or limit scope all the time.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Why everything is suddenly getting more expensive — and why it won’t stop in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I agree that we can prepare for pandemics and we definitely should, and that it doesn’t require exact timing. But part of the of the problem is that, because we don’t know the timing, it can be...

    I agree that we can prepare for pandemics and we definitely should, and that it doesn’t require exact timing. But part of the of the problem is that, because we don’t know the timing, it can be many decades before the investment pays off. There is a similar problem for earthquakes. We’ve been waiting for “the big one” in California for a long time. Until it happens, disaster preparation looks like waste and inefficiency. Sometimes even the people preparing for it only sort of believe they will live to see it.

    For predicting what’s going to happen with the economy in the next decade, you need good information on timing, and we don’t have it. We don’t whether there will be shortages or surpluses or what prices will do. To be able to predict that you not only need the timing of upcoming pandemics, but also the timing of upcoming wars, which depends on who wins upcoming elections, and we don’t even know the candidates. It depends on how long dictators remain in power and who replaces them. It depends on whether there will be good harvests or bad. And it depends on terrorist activity - will there ever be another 9/11?

    Obviously, there is no way to know these things. Anyone who tries to tell us they know the future, without hedging, is just pretending.

    1 vote
  4. Comment on Why everything is suddenly getting more expensive — and why it won’t stop in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I don’t know why you’re bringing up 20 year old technology like the GameGear? I’m not talking about going backwards. Today’s phones have good battery life. Also, I agree that PC standardization is...

    I don’t know why you’re bringing up 20 year old technology like the GameGear? I’m not talking about going backwards. Today’s phones have good battery life.

    Also, I agree that PC standardization is good and it would be nice if there were similar standardization with the components that go into ARM boards. This is the kind of standardization I would like to see.

    However, board-level standardization of electronic components doesn’t seem very relevant to competition between companies that run fabs? Running a factory doesn’t seem to have much to do with the open standards we are familiar with. For example, at the leading edge, apparently ASML is the sole supplier of a $120 million dollar tool needed for extreme ultraviolet lithography and only about 50 of these machines exist. Intel can buy them, but I doubt many companies can or would.

    There are already a lot of embedded applications that use older-generation technologies for reduced cost, because they don’t benefit from faster chips. I think that’s mostly true of auto manufacturers, for example. Nobody buys a car based on the speed of the chips embedded in it, let alone a fridge or microwave. This isn’t inferior technology, it’s appropriate technology.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of October 18 in ~health.coronavirus

  6. Comment on Why everything is suddenly getting more expensive — and why it won’t stop in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    Well, both are reasons for prices to rise. The fabs get more expensive with each generation so there is less competition and prices can go up. But there are a lot of applications that don’t need...

    Well, both are reasons for prices to rise. The fabs get more expensive with each generation so there is less competition and prices can go up.

    But there are a lot of applications that don’t need the latest chips, and it might be better to standardize on older tech. Nobody cares about processor speed for the chips in your car. Arguably we should stop caring about faster phones.

  7. Comment on Why everything is suddenly getting more expensive — and why it won’t stop in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    Is industrial secrecy worse than usual at fabs? I don’t think they’ve ever been very open. One reason there is less competition is that fabs have become increasingly expensive. At the cutting edge...

    Is industrial secrecy worse than usual at fabs? I don’t think they’ve ever been very open.

    One reason there is less competition is that fabs have become increasingly expensive. At the cutting edge they are doing near-impossible things. Intel made some bad bets, and it takes time to catch up.

    3 votes
  8. Comment on Why everything is suddenly getting more expensive — and why it won’t stop in ~finance

    skybrian
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    Climate-related disasters happening more often is a reasonable thing to worry about. I’m strongly in favor of more and better disaster preparation. However, predicting the future is very hard. For...

    Climate-related disasters happening more often is a reasonable thing to worry about. I’m strongly in favor of more and better disaster preparation.

    However, predicting the future is very hard. For example, who predicted the pandemic and its effects on the economy? The author of this post is wildly overconfident about their predictive ability. I’d have more respect for them if they hedged and talked about the importance of preparing for the possibility of things getting worse.

    Supply gluts are also possible, because there is such a long lag between more demand and more supply, and investors often overshoot. Also people do sometimes learn from mistakes, so maybe some supply chains will become more resilient?

    A terminology nit: “exponential” doesn’t mean “very fast growth.” If inflation is 2% every year then that’s exponential but not very alarming. If it were 10% every year then that’s another story.

    Economists tend to assume exponential growth indefinitely, so it’s nothing new, though it is a problem from a sustainability perspective. Many apparently-exponential curves turn out to be S-curves, but predicting peaks is hard.

    12 votes
  9. Comment on Human history gets a rewrite in ~humanities

    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I started reading a sample from Amazon, and so far it seems that Graeber is using horrific debt-related injustices as an excuse for sloppy thinking. Like, for example, when discussing US debt held...

    I started reading a sample from Amazon, and so far it seems that Graeber is using horrific debt-related injustices as an excuse for sloppy thinking.

    Like, for example, when discussing US debt held by other countries:

    So what is the status of all this money continually being funneled into the US Treasury […] one could easily make the case that the only reason it insists on treating these payments as “loans” and not as “tribute” is precisely to deny the reality of what’s going on.

    This is backwards. I don’t know what “money continually being funneled into the US Treasury” he’s talking about? The payment will go the other way. A US bond held by another country is an asset for them because eventually the US government pays them money. Treasury bonds are wealth.

    You might ask how other countries got wealthy, and often it’s by selling things to the US and not insisting on getting anything material in return as offsetting exports. So if anything, all the Chinese products being shipped to the US might be “tribute,” I guess, but this is a dubious metaphor.

    It’s an interesting subject and maybe the history is better, but he comes across as an untrustworthy writer.

    3 votes
  10. Comment on Human history gets a rewrite in ~humanities

    skybrian
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    That cartoon is... cartoonish. It seems like the freedom some people get from renting comes from other people taking responsibility for buildings and (sometimes) for paying mortgages, for better...

    That cartoon is... cartoonish.

    It seems like the freedom some people get from renting comes from other people taking responsibility for buildings and (sometimes) for paying mortgages, for better or worse.

    3 votes
  11. Comment on Could search engines be fostering some Dunning-Kruger? in ~science

    skybrian
    (edited )
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    The paper seems to be titled "People mistake the Internet's knowledge for their own." and isn't out yet, but there is an abstract on the author's home page, and if you care about this you could...

    The paper seems to be titled "People mistake the Internet's knowledge for their own." and isn't out yet, but there is an abstract on the author's home page, and if you care about this you could send an email.

    The abstract doesn't mention Dunning-Kruger, and the claim is more specific: "Eight experiments (n = 1,917) provide evidence that when people “Google” for online information, they fail to accurately distinguish between knowledge stored internally—in their own memories—and knowledge stored externally—on the Internet."

    4 votes
  12. Comment on Could search engines be fostering some Dunning-Kruger? in ~science

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    Sometimes the best thing is to turn these takedowns into questions. Someone thinks the methodology is bad? Well, strangers on the Internet can be right or wrong. Read the paper and see what you...

    Sometimes the best thing is to turn these takedowns into questions. Someone thinks the methodology is bad? Well, strangers on the Internet can be right or wrong. Read the paper and see what you think.

    It's also useful to look for more knowledgable critics, like other scientists in the field.

    But in the end, I think we should be humble enough to admit that, as outsiders, we often can't tell good papers from bad. The outside view says that a majority of scientific papers are flawed, but it isn't going to tell us which ones.

    Fortunately, it's rare that you need to make a decision about whether a paper is good or not. We're usually just reading about science for fun, so you can move on. If it's important it will come up again.

    4 votes
  13. Comment on I feel dreadful of my future, but are my feelings valid? in ~talk

    skybrian
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    Some of this advice might be kind of obvious but I'll say it anyway, in case it helps. You're fortunate that in many tech fields you do have a lot of flexibility. There's nothing wrong with...

    Some of this advice might be kind of obvious but I'll say it anyway, in case it helps.

    You're fortunate that in many tech fields you do have a lot of flexibility. There's nothing wrong with changing jobs fairly often, like every couple years or so. You can save up and take time off to travel. Even when working at the same company, you can change teams or work on different projects.

    So, I suggest thinking about a job not as something you'll do forever, but something you'll do for a while, until it gets old, and then you can try something else. Even a "full time, permanent position" doesn't have to be any more permanent than going to school, unless you want it to be.

    If you are worried about getting enough variety and challenge, maybe look for a job at a growing startup, since they tend to change very quickly. This is assuming you're okay with needing to find another job unexpectedly, if it comes to that. Startups can fail or get bought or change drastically.

    On the other hand, larger companies have more well-defined roles and procedures, and are often less stressful. The big tech firms pay very well and have lots of internal resources you can take advantage of.

    Also, maybe you won't like everyone you meet, but you're likely to make friends, and sometimes you'll keep in touch with them after you move on. So maybe look at it more as an opportunity to meet people, and worry less about being trapped with them? It's still a good idea to have some kind of plan in case you need to change your situation, like for example having a bad boss. Having savings definitely helps!

    Eventually there may come a time when getting yet another job at another company doesn't appeal anymore, but hopefully you will save a lot of money by then.

    5 votes
  14. Comment on Epistemology Of The Internet — And Of Traditional Media in ~humanities

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I wonder how that works? It seems more intuitive to me that generalized skepticism would make people less likely to fall for such sales pitches? And yet people do sometimes latch onto things...

    I wonder how that works? It seems more intuitive to me that generalized skepticism would make people less likely to fall for such sales pitches? And yet people do sometimes latch onto things despite being overall pretty distrusting.

  15. Comment on Margaret Atwood TERF Twitter controversy in ~lgbt

    skybrian
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    The article in the Toronto Star seems to be paywalled. I wonder how many have read it?

    The article in the Toronto Star seems to be paywalled. I wonder how many have read it?

    1 vote
  16. Comment on SEC report on Gamestop, AMC stock price jumps in January 2021 in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    A loan isn't a "listing on ebay." It's a contract that awards you one apple. The ratio is loans / apple, not listings / apple. There might be four loans and two apples existing, but no apples for...

    A loan isn't a "listing on ebay." It's a contract that awards you one apple. The ratio is loans / apple, not listings / apple. There might be four loans and two apples existing, but no apples for sale at all.

    You might compare someone who sublets an apartment. There is only one apartment, but there are two leases and three parties involved.

    It may seem a bit odd that someone can borrow stock and then sell it. However, this isn't all that different from borrowing money and then spending it. Most people with a mortgage on a house don't have the money to pay off the mortgage right away. (They have a house, but it's not the same.)

    Let's say a single apple was loaned out twice, so the ratio is 2. The apple will have to be returned twice to repay both loans. Since there is only one apple, only one return can happen at a time, and at most one borrower can actually have an apple. After the apple is returned the first time, the other borrower will need to somehow get it to return it the second time.

    2 votes
  17. Comment on Epistemology Of The Internet — And Of Traditional Media in ~humanities

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    To say that "nobody knows anything" would be overgeneralizing, but "there is a lot of nonsense when it comes to nutrition, and it's hard to figure what's really true" seems pretty accurate....

    To say that "nobody knows anything" would be overgeneralizing, but "there is a lot of nonsense when it comes to nutrition, and it's hard to figure what's really true" seems pretty accurate.

    Unfortunately, we aren't that good at living with uncertainty.

    1 vote
  18. Comment on 32 bit real estate in ~tech

    skybrian
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    From the article: […]

    From the article:

    If you invested in IP addresses 15 years ago, you're doing pretty well. If you invested in IP addresses 15 months ago, you're also doing well.

    When we wrote the first draft of this post, the going rate for smaller IPv4 blocks was $45 per IP address. was the rate in September of 2021. We looked just now, and the spot price was $50. We give up quoting them; by the time you get to this sentence, they'll have gotten more expensive.

    […]

    VMs are mostly useful when they can talk to the Internet. Your developers need IP addresses. Say it costs $45 for a single IP address. That means it costs $23,040 to handle 512 virtual machines with IPv4 addresses. We've now doubled our costs.

    But hold up for a second.

    Servers depreciate; that's their job. That $20k server depreciates to $500 relatively quickly. But IP blocks are, at least for now, appreciating. Alarmingly.

    This is a hard market to time. Nobody believes the Internet will be IPv6-only within the next few years. There are credible people who believe IPv4 addresses will be scarce and useful indefinitely. We might put money on you getting away with an IPv6-only app 20 years from now. But we'd have said that 20 years ago, too.

    So, unfortunately, the smart thing to do if you own $1B worth of IPv4 addresses is to buy $1B more IPv4 addresses. Fortunately, everyone is starting to recognize this, so you have some flexibility in financing.

    1 vote
  19. Comment on A major reversal on aspirin highlights a concept everyone should understand in ~health

    skybrian
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    Apparently the most common recommendation was a low dose (81 mg). Still, who knows what people really do. Sometimes people think more is better.

    Apparently the most common recommendation was a low dose (81 mg).

    Still, who knows what people really do. Sometimes people think more is better.

    1 vote