Yield Thought

it's not as hard as you think
formerly coderoom.wordpress.com

Last week I promised to share all the details about my cloud development setup - this is how I did it, in ten soul-crushing liberating steps:

Step 1: Get a Linode

I chose a Linode 512, which has been perfect for my needs. You get all phenomenal CPU power and an itty-bitty RAM. Surprisingly, this is enough as we’ll be doing most of our work on the command-line; you can always upgrade it later.

I also turned on the $5 a month backups. Zero-effort data safety for less than the price of a hot chocolate? Yes, please!

Step 2: Configure your Linode

Linode’s interfaces walks you through adding your new node. Pick a region close to yourself - you want to minimize the roundtrip time to the server. I spend most of my time in Munich, so I have mine in London and get a 30-40ms ping, which is great.

I also picked one of their default 32-bit distributions - if you’re not sure or don’t care then just choose the latest Ubuntu and you won’t go far wrong.

After a few minutes the machine will be installed and booted, ready for use! Time to log in and set things up!

Step 3: Build Vim

I found Ubuntu’s default vim didn’t have everything I wanted, but don’t worry! It’s easy to download and build it yourself:


Step 4: Install lots of juicy plugins

I honestly can’t remember which plugins I installed and which ones I actually use. My currently-installed list is:

  1. acp.vim
  2. asynccommand.vim
  3. a.vim
  4. cctree.vim
  5. clang_complete.vim
  6. color_sample_pack.vim
  7. command-t.vim
  8. compview.vim
  9. cscope_maps.vim
  10. fuf.vim
  11. l9.vim
  12. NERD_tree.vim
  13. scratch.vim
  14. searchfold.vim
  15. taglist.vim
  16. tasklist.vim

You probably don’t want all of those; I wouldn’t be without command-t though. You can get them all from vim.org/scripts - you might want to install pathogen and get them that way; I just copied the existing .vim folder from my MacVim installation, hence all the cruft.

Note that command-t requires you to build a stub - follow the install instructions in command-t.vim and it just works.

To use the clang_complete plugin, you’ll need clang: “apt-get install clang” should do the trick. I had to play around with it a bit to get it working on my project, which included adding all the -I and -D command-line options to a .clang-complete file in the project directory.

Step 5: Create your .vimrc

Here’s my .vimrc - some of the things here relate to e.g. our internal tracker system and won’t be interesting for you, but it should be clear what most of these things do and which keys are bound to them:


Step 6: Configure GNU screen

I don’t recall where I got this from, but it works well for me:


You’ll also want to create a few aliases to connect to different screen sessions painlessly - my .bashrc contains:


You can probably change screen’s escape key in the .screenrc file too; I never bothered to look it up. Here, ‘s’ or ‘t’ will attach me to my work or personal sessions respectively.

Many people have recommended tmux - I haven’t tried it yet; screen hasn’t given me a reason to want anything else.

Step 7: Configure VNC


Feel free to pick a display that makes you happy but make sure it matches the DISPLAY=:5 line in your .bashrc!

Step 8: Get a super-sweet thin client

I chose an iPad2, (the 16Gb Wifi model). I haven’t tried working over (tethered) 3G yet, but ssh from my iPhone works well so perhaps that’s also an option if you’re often out of wireless contact.

If you already have a tablet that you like, use that instead - all you need is a good SSH client and a good VNC client. On the iPad I use iSSH and Jump for SSH and VNC respectively. I haven’t tried Prompt or Screens, if you already have them then let me know how well they work out.

Whatever you do, get an external keyboard. The Apple bluetooth one is amazing, I can thoroughly recommend it.

You’ll also want an adjustable stand / case for your tablet. Amazon offers plenty to choose from.

Step 9: Configure your thin client

The hardest part of setting up a SSH client on a tablet is getting your private SSH key on there without entrusting it to a third party. I split mine across multiple services and removed it after recombining it; maybe you don’t really care.

If you didn’t add the export TERM line into your .bashrc then remember to tell your SSH client to report its TERM type as “xterm-256color” - providing it supports this (iSSH does) then you’ll get to enjoy beautiful soft shades in your remote Vim sessions - joy!

To begin with I used iSSH’s VNC client, which worked perfectly well but was a pain to switch to quickly. Last week I started using Jump instead and love it, it’s a super-smooth experience with lots of cute little touches that make me smile. Swiping to it with the new iOS5 gestures is much easier than changing the view in iSSH and the next update will make it auto-reconnect after the 10 minute background timeout, making the whole experience seamless all the time.

I learned a lesson: take a bit of time and money and try out various different clients. You’ll be spending most of your working day in them; try to smooth out every aspect of the experience.

Step 10: Enjoy life in the cloud

There’ll be many other packages you want to install - Dropbox and Google AppEngine spring to mind - both can run in console-only modes.

If you’ve followed this far then you should have a fully-connected remote server and tablet client - welcome to the future!

Update: I’m still using this setup a year later - you can read on at iPad+Linode: 1 Year Later

On September 19th, I said goodbye to my trusty MacBook Pro and started developing exclusively on an iPad + Linode 512. This is the surprising story of a month spent working in the cloud.

It all started when I bought my first MacBook a couple of years ago. Frustrated by the inconsistent usage of ctrl/alt/option/arrow keys to jump words and screens and lines, I searched for a new IDE. Instead, I found Vim and fell in love. This isn’t another gushing post about Vim-oh-how-I-love-you-my-sweet-darling, but it’s important to the story - as we’ll see in a moment.

Although I like to use Python and GAE for my own projects, at work we write heavyweight C++/Qt code that runs on clusters such as the 200,000 processor Jaguar machine, so most of my time is spent in Linux and a lot of it on remote systems. Typically I’d develop in MacVim locally and run my code in VMWare Fusion or remotely.

One fateful day, VMWare and OS/X conspired to trash my shared filesystem, losing several days of uncommitted code in the process. I was angry.

While dd was recovering as much as it could, I started toying with the idea of giving up on local filesystems altogether. To my surprise, it seemed possible - even plausible.

I just had to try.

The Setup

It turns out you need a little more than just an iPad and a dream, but not too much more:

  1. iPad 2 (16Gb, WiFi)
  2. Apple wireless keyboard
  3. Stilgut adjustable angle stand/case
  4. iSSH
  5. Linode 512 running Ubuntu 11.04
  6. Apple VGA adapter

Total cost: around $800 + $20 per month

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I typically start my day by catching up on the bug tracker chatter, mercurial diffs and other emails with the iPad in one hand while lying on the Combinat56 sofa.

I actually hate the Mail app for this; the stupid animation when archiving posts adds unnecessary delay and the archive button is uncomfortably placed at the top of the screen. More recently I’ve been scanning mails over IMAP with a python script instead.

Next, I lazily swipe to Safari and review my tickets for the day in our web-based bug tracker then return to the keyboard and fire off a couple of emails before settling back into coding - the new four-finger swipe gestures in iOS5 have really improved my life.

But we were talking about coding, which brings us back to Vim.

Vim: My Home from Home

Perhaps the only reason this transition has been so smooth was because my favourite editor / IDE looks and feels almost exactly the same running on an iSSH console as it did running locally on my Macbook. iSSH supports xterm-256color, which means you can still have pleasant colour schemes despite working in a terminal. All my plugins are there, my code-completion, quick navigation and so on.

In short, it’s a seamless transition from my MacVim envionment. If I were developing OS/X apps with Xcode, or used Eclipse or Visual Studio regularly this change would probably have killed me.

As it happens, working in the terminal on a remote Linode is even better than working locally, thanks to the magic of GNU screen.

GNU Screen is Magic

GNU screen is like a window manager for your terminal sessions, giving you multiple tabs, searchable history, activity/idle notifications and - best of all - persistence.

So I fire up iSSH, tap on my Linode connection and reconnect to the already running screen session. All my terminal tabs are exactly where I left them. Other SSH tunnels are still set up. My cursor is still in the same position. The clipboard is as I left it. It’s as if I never left, because for my side projects, I have a different screen session with a different set of tabs and editor instances running. Perfect separation.

It’s hard to overstate how pleasant it is to be able to return to exactly the same session each day; on a MacBook there’d usually be some other distracting programs left that I’d opened in the meantime, and of course any remote connections would have been dropped. At the very least I’d have used MacVim for something else in the evenings. It might be a largely psychological benefit, but it feels as if I can drop back into flow almost as easily as I left it.

The Good, the Bad and VNC

At work we develop a graphical parallel debugger, so I can’t spend all my time in the terminal. For hands-on tests and GUI work I need X. Luckily, iSSH has a workable, if not perfect, solution:

I tap on the VNC connection and up pops the GUI in shocking 1024x768 fidelity and a painful 256-colour palette. I could have 24bit colour, but somehow I prefer the extra speed to beauty. Although it’s a far cry from using a mouse to interact with a traditional GUI program, the on-screen ‘touchpad’ works better than I’d expect. And as it happens, being limited isn’t all that bad:

One good way to evaluate the usability of a program or dialog is to… try to use the mouse with just one finger.

Joel Spolsky

iSSH’s VNC isn’t quite as bad as pushing the mouse around with one finger, but it does make you consider users with lower screen resolutions, larger font sizes and mouse control that hasn’t been honed by countless years playing Quake and Starcraft. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t wished for bluetooth mouse support some days.

Maybe It’s a Lifestyle

Today is not one of those days. I unwrap a chocolate croissant, make a fresh cup of tea and settle down to work; a quick hg pull -u && make to start the recompile, then ctrl-x to my editor tab and carry on coding while the rebuild happens. Ctrl-X is my screen’s ‘hotkey’; it defaults to Ctrl-A but on a wireless keyboard that leaves unicode characters in the terminal - I assume this is related to Apple’s support for some common Emacs key bindings in iOS. Strange, but easy enough to work around.

After a few minutes of coding the bar at the bottom of the screen notifies me that my compile has finished; I ctrl-x back, start a sanity test suite running just to be sure nothing horrible was broken overnight then carry on coding again. Compiling on the quad-processor Linode is around twice as fast as inside VMWare on my MacBook was. It’s also completely, blissfully silent. The only sound is the raindrop-like patter of the keyboard as I work. It doesn’t even get warm, a surprisingly refreshing change from the MacBook keyboard!

I swipe to the DuckDuckGo app and look something up in the Qt APIs, then swipe back. It’s becoming second nature, but I still miss a keyboard shortcut for task switching.

After an hour or two of uninterrupted development the UK team wake up and the first instant messages arrive. Thank heaven for the iOS 5 update! I use the imo messenger app, which is fine but of course before the notification center each pushed message would interrupt whatever I was doing with a frustrating popup. Now, the new notifications center behaves much more like a growl notification would; it lets me know and it gets back out of the way again.

I finish the function I was working on then four-finger swipe to the chat app; it’s my boss reminding me about our 11am conference call.

Skype-based conference calls work fine on both the iPad and the iPhone; at least, as well as VOIP calls ever work, i.e. fine after a few false starts while someone reconfigures their linux audio drivers. I appreciate not to having to think about that any more.

During the Skype call my iSSH session timed out in the background; it’s only held for 10 minutes or so. Fortunately a single tap reconnects me, and through the magic of gnu screen I’m back at exactly the place I left off again.

As is always the case, while fixing one bug I encounter another, apparently unrelated one. Time to submit a quick bug report - in the past I took screenshots on the iPad and emailed them to our tracking system, to get around not being able to attach in Safari. Now, I’ve switched to grabbing them and any log files or stack traces with a command-line app on the Linode itself. We use the Best Practical RT tracker (for our sins), which conveniently comes with a perl script to interact with it from the command line. Doing this is actually quicker and easier than uploading via a browser used to be; one command noting the ticket number and the attachments and I’m done.

The Cloud is Always With You

Lunchtime already! I close the iPad and head off with the others. The remote rebuild I left going will still be there; no need to worry about any uploads getting interrupted, it’s all happening in on the Linode, after all.

During lunch I pull out my iPhone and connect to the Linode again; damn, the build failed early on - out of disk space on one of our office machines. The iPhone keyboard is somewhat painful to use, but for rm -rf /tmp/build-2011-* it suffices. I kick off a new build while waiting for dessert to arrive.

Now I’m feeling nicely fed and just a little dozy; to keep awake I move to a standing workstation and set off some longer-running performance tests on a remote cluster. I find I move around between a lot of different working configurations with the iPad; much more frequently than I when using a laptop. I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s something about having a separate keyboard and screen that makes it easier to find a comfortable typing position, or perhaps it’s just the novelty.

The tests will take an hour or so; I close iSSH and review the latest spec / schedule changes my colleagues have made to an upcoming spec, stored in Google Docs.

Oh, Google Docs, why do you hate me so?

In a bitterly ironic twist, the only part of working in the cloud that doesn’t work smoothly is using Google’s cloud-based MS Office replacement. The mobile word processor is a joke, frequently losing the cursor position and sizeable chunks of text. The spreadsheet version is better, but is still a pathetic experience compared to the desktop version. Of course there are no native apps, and the desktop versions of the sites simply report script errors. I’ve even thought of trying to convince my team to switch back to OpenOffice.

Maybe it works better on an Android - no, wait, that’d be anti-competitive behavior and Google would never do something evil, right?

The tests have finally finished and the results are in; I move to the lounge area and connect up to the big HD TV with the VGA cable; something about seeing console-mode VIM in giant HD makes me smile every time.

There are some oddities in the logs; I copy and paste a few snippets to a colleague and discuss them in chat. I’m glad copy and paste work smoothly, although having 3 different sets of buffers (iPad, screen, vim) does lead to confusion from time to time. Idly, I wonder if any of my colleagues have noticed I’ve been using an iPad instead of a laptop for the last month.

6pm rolls around and it’s time to head home for the day. Despite a full day’s intensive use, my iPad’s still showing 15% battery life. I never bring a charger to work and I’ve never needed one. That in itself is a taste of freedom.

At the End of the Day…

Later that evening I pull the iPad out and open up Pages to finish a blog post. The house is quiet; only the distant sounds of the city drift in from outside and mingle with the gentle patter of keypresses on this delightful wireless keyboard.

I started this experiment because I fundamentally believe that most people don’t want to rearrange windows, babysit their own general purpose computers or back up their data. Sooner or later, almost everyone will work like this and I wanted a taste of what that might feel like. I expected to find something that didn’t work, but as the days turned into weeks and the weeks gathered into a month, I found I hadn’t returned to my laptop even once.

I don’t miss the weight. I don’t miss the keyboard getting warm when I’m compiling. I don’t miss its fragility, both physically and virtually. I don’t miss running out of power. To my surprise, I find I am happy. Coding in the cloud isn’t for everybody, but for my workflow it’s a perfect fit and I love it.

After a few minutes the perfect peace is rudely disturbed by the twin jet-engine that is my MacBook fans spinning up to full power on the shelf behind me. I can’t believe I used to put up with this all day and night. 

Despite that, I leave the MacBook running - it’s doing the only thing I still need it for on a regular basis.

It’s ripping DVDs.

Update: I’m still using this setup a year later - you can read on at iPad+Linode: 1 Year Later

I’ve been bored at work for many reasons at many different times, but three things stand out as real killers:

  1. working on the same project with the same people[1] for years and years,
  2. using the same old languages and tools (statically-typed: yuk!) instead of the new hotness,
  3. being forced to work on maintenance instead of new features, or on small parts of an existing product instead of creating something new.

These are the symptoms of a problem, not the cause, and I think most jobs will have elements of them. But surprisingly it turns out that - for programmers at least - boredom is a choice. Recently, I chose not to be bored. I chose to think one abstraction level higher. I chose to play the metagame.

Awesome copper comic

Me: a case study

I started thinking about programmer performance a while ago. Everybody will tell you that you can’t measure programmer productivity, but this is at best a half-truth. We can, and we should. Perhaps what we shouldn’t do is use those measurements to compare programmers to each other, but we can definitely measure ourselves.

When I started trying to measure my own productivity, it g

ot me thinking a lot more about:

  1. my workflow - I check email, pick a tracker ticket and work on it.
  2. the most repetitive parts of my work - why does it take 10 clicks and 3 windows to commit a change?
  3. the core of my job - I’m paid to solve non-trivial problems, not to sort email and adjust ticket priorities.

It really doesn’t matter what anyone’s day job is; whether you’re working on sporting result clips for Google mobile or maintaining a 20-year old internal accountancy package the metagame is the same. The product may be pointless but the metagame matters to us all. It’s about:

  1. surrounding ourselves with tools and systems that make us more than human, a cyborg-like super-programmer - who doesn’t want that?
  2. automating away the boring parts of work, so that we’re left with the interesting, non-trivial decisions and problems.

When I started I was working on bugfixing before a major release, which is very amenable to this sort of thing because there are lots of small, well-defined packets of work. We were about 9 weeks from release and my typical day looked like this:

  1. Check and respond to my emails
  2. Check the test machines and fix any system or build failures
  3. Take a high-priority bug from our tracking system
  4. Try to reproduce it locally
  5. Track down the cause and write a fix
  6. Commit the fix, update the ChangeLog, resolve the ticket
  7. Repeat from step 3

It was quite easy to measure my own performance in terms of the number of bugs resolved per week. Sure, it’s not a perfect measurement - I could also have factored in the priority of the bugs and so on, but getting an accurate figure wasn’t nearly as important as getting some measure, however rough.

With the goal of increasing my rate of bug fixes motivating me, I started laying into my workflow and adding automation wherever I found an opportunity to speed things up:

1. Don’t waste clicks navigating email

Email checking was clearly not related to my core metric (bugs fixed) but I couldn’t just ignore emails, however much I wanted like to. Instead, I added a bunch of extra filters to brutally cull all the emails I didn’t really need to read, then found out how to get keyboard shortcuts working in Gmail (hint: add &kbd=1 to the URL). Now I was whipping through the emails by pressing [ to read-and-archive for 95% of them, occasionally opening extra tabs to remind me of various actions I needed to take later in the day.

2. Don’t type ChangeLog entries by hand

Next up was the ChangeLog. I don’t know if you keep a ChangeLog at work, but we have done for a while. The idea is that with each commit you log the broad reason for the change, then write a one-liner for each function you’ve changed, along with the filename, class and method. Writing these by hand was incredibly tedious. Rather than dump it altogether (for it had its uses) I invested a few hours in writing a 147-line python script that generated the entry stubs automatically with inline diffs for each function changed. I added a handful of vim bindings to jump between the ChangeLog entries and replace each diff with a one-line description of it’s purpose. Suddenly, writing ChangeLogs was ten times faster even somewhat fun.

3. Yes, I said Vim

It’s no coincidence that I started using MacVim shortly before my metagame trip. Vim is awesome for exactly one reason:

  1. A vim script is exactly the same as the keypresses you use when editing

Writing a script in vim is a simply matter of typing the same characters you normally would to achieve that effect (which is why using hjkl for movement isn’t as stupid as you thought it was). I cannot imagine a lower barrier to customizing your editor. The end result is that vim makes it trivial to optimize all sorts of little common operations; it’s the first editor whose macro functionality I’ve used on a daily basis. It’ll change your life. Learn it. Love it. It’s worth it.

4. Make reproducing bugs trivial

My previous attempt to make my job more interesting had been to volunteer to rewrite our clunky, frustrating GUI-click based test system with a new, streamlined one. Since we use Qt, I added a QScriptEngine which essentially lets you write a small C++ API for your application and then call that from javascript files.

This was a lot faster and less error-prone than manually baby-sitting fragile GUI-based testing as we’d done before, but the real benefit was that I had complete control over the system. Every night it ran tests across dozens of platforms and reported any new failures directly to our tracking system. I started adding extra code to our test-runner (a 1,500 line python script) to make reproducing and fixing bugs stupidly easy. Each test report now includes:

  1. the stack trace and variables for any segfaults
  2. the core files for any segfaults in external programs during the run
  3. all log files, stdout and stderr
  4. screenshots of the GUI should a test timeout
  5. a one-line, copy-and-paste command to re-run the test

Adding this one piece at a time wasn’t a lot of work, but it has saved us hours and hours and hours.

5. Add ssh and bash shortcuts

I spend a lot of time on our test machines, so I added hostname auto-complete to my bash shell, added single-line aliases to change to the test directory, check out an overnight build, view the build and test logs, change to the test user and so on. I learned to love .ssh/config, and so should you.

Saving a few keypresses doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it makes me happy every day when I type:

smoketest -kri 14956

to switch to the latest test directory, update its license file and re-run the bug reported in ticket 14956. I could write an essay just on this:

every single element of cognitive burden removed makes it easier to stay focused on the task in hand

Not having to remember a hostname, or a compiler directory, or keep track of which system I’m on, streamlining all that away makes it trivial to keep thinking about the problem and not the distractions.


6. You can’t have too much Vim

I ended up adding lots of vim shortcuts specific to our systems. It’ll look up and fill in the title of any bug ticket for me. It’ll commit my current changes, automatically taking the ChangeLog entry I just wrote as the commit message and optionally resolve the bug ticket associated with that change using the same message. In one command.

Typing that one feels really good.

Bundling up all the points at which I’d otherwise have to switch to a browser, wait for a page to load, this was accidental but brilliant. Waiting is the death of focus. By wrapping it all together into one fire-and-forget command, I can just say the word and then start choosing the next bug to fix, keeping my momentum and focus intact.

I’m not done

Every week I find new places to tweak my setup or semi-automate more tasks. I’ve started producing beautifully-formatted HTML change diffs for code review on my iPhone, while reclining in one of Combinat56’s Sumo bags with a cup of tea. I’ve added extra notifications when a build fails or a test machine runs out of disk space.

I will never be done, because I can always keep moving one abstraction higher until I’m purely working on the most interesting problem of all: how much of a programmer’s job can be automated?

A nice side-benefit is that much of the code I write to automate things is not production code; I can write it however I like, using whichever languages and tools take my fancy. Yet it all goes towards making me - one day - into an extraordinary programmer.

Playing the metagame: advice

After working like this for six months or so, the following pieces of advice seem like the most important to remember:

  1. Don’t be afraid. Spend time improving your efficiency instead of hacking away with a blunt axe. There can be a lot of pressure “just to finish this first”. Resist it. Take just one hour and use it to write a script to help you in some simple way, or improve your bash aliases, or your ssh config, or your mail filters. Once you’ve seen how much impact it makes, you’ll feel a lot better about doing it again.
  2. Semi-automation is better than full-automation. It’s easy to get carried away and try to write your own email client, or use bayesian filtering to answer all your emails. Don’t bother. Write the simplest, smallest thing you can to speed you up and then get back to work. If it helps, you’ll find yourself building on it naturally over time. It’s better to have one-key read-and-archive than a custom email client for your iPhone.
  3. Keep scripts specific. Don’t try to over-generalize them and solve everybody’s problem; that’s not going to be practical on the side. Make your scripts specific to you and your workflow. If they’re great, you can extend them to the team. If they love it, you can extend it to the world and put it on GitHub. But do it in that order.
  4. Use vim. It feels weird at first. It takes a couple of days to get used to. Set it up with nice plugins and themes right away; after a couple of weeks you’ll never look back.
  5. Optimize the things you hate, not the things you love. The goal is to build up scripts, commands and systems that feed you a flow of meaningful decisions to make and interesting problems to solve, while automating away the dross. Resist the temptation to start by optimizing programming or code-writing; attack all the distractions first.
  6. Never let yourself wait for something. If you catch yourself typing a command then waiting for it to finish before you can type the next one, then that’s an ideal place for a script. Waiting will kill you; make the computer wait for you. For some tasks, like compiling, write scripts that’ll automatically launch the program when compiling finishes, perhaps even re-running the test case if possible. Make your computer notify you when it’s ready, audibly or by throwing something up on the screen. In the meantime, you can be reviewing code or looking for a second bug to start work on, or taking a walk with a cup of tea. Anything but HN and Reddit!
  7. Write in all the fun languages you can’t use at work. I can’t recommend python enough for this sort of thing, as it’s huge supply of libraries combined with pleasant syntax make life a breeze. I guess Perl would be great too. But get used calling external programs and input / output streams and you can write in Node.js or whatever interests you most this week.
  8. Measure your performance. Write a simple script to measure the number of commits you’ve made. Or the number of lines you’ve changed. Or the number of bugs you’ve fixed. Or the number of customers you’ve helped. Just pick something that’s trivial to measure even if it’s far from perfect, and start. Add more things whenever you’re afraid you’re over-optimizing or gaming the measurements you’ve got so far. Seeing your own performance climb gives a real sense of satisfaction that might be otherwise missing in your daily work. Even if you don’t enjoy or value the internal actuarial calculator you’re writing, you should care deeply about making yourself a better programmer - this will stay with you your entire career.

That’s it - print this list out, stick it next to your monitor then close the browser and start playing the metagame! You weren’t going to do anything more productive in the next hour anyway, right? ;-)

Update: just in case you’re not heading off to work, the HN thread is here and the Reddit thread is here.

[1] Disclaimer: I work with absolutely first rate programmers, people I learn from every day and yet there’s still an attraction to meeting new people too; I shudder to think what it must be like to work with dull people for years and years…