In which, alas, I must rattle a tin cup

The work on NTPsec is going very well. Unfortunately, since we lost our CII funding in September, my personal situation isn’t.

Ever since the Destroy Full-time Employment Affordable Care Act smashed my wife’s legal job out of existence, we’ve felt under some pressure at Chez Raymond. While Cathy was full-time employed, my earnings from royalties and consulting contracts were what we saved against a rainy day or retirement. Since then we’ve had to live on what I make and occasional legal piecework.

The NTPsec funding came on-stream just as we were starting to worry seriously about money. That kept us out of trouble for a little over a year, but now that’s gone, and the legal piecework market is apparently flooded with attorneys whose jobs were also crushed by the ACA around the same time my wife’s was. It’s a buyer’s market and a lot of what she’s being offered these days is not just scutwork, but would barely cover her expenses after travel.

(For reasons I don’t understand, law seems to have been hit harder by the ACA employer mandate than any other professional field except higher education. I hear non-tenured faculty are even hungrier than lawyers these days.)

So now it’s been five months since either of us has been drawing anything like a salary. We’re burning savings, and Cathy – who grew up poor and thus finds a state of no income viscerally terrifying in a way I do not – has started to look like a shell-shock victim. This is damaging my morale.

The only bright spot is my Patreon feed. Right now it’s pulling $1,392 a month, which is actually rather a lot for Patreon but nowhere near enough to cover our living expenses. That would take about $3,000 a month; the big items are mortgage and medical insurance driven stratospherically up in cost by the same disastrous government bungling that cost my wife her job. Then, of course, there’s income tax; with that I figure we’d need $5K a month to be sure of keeping our heads above water.

Thus, even with the Patreon, we’re fast approaching the point where if someone were to offer me a day job, I’d have to take it. And that would be unfortunate for the long term; the infrastructure work I’m doing and expect to do in the future is tremendously important. Somebody’s going to need to design and field NTPv5 to fully cover the IPv6 transition, and it looks increasingly like that somebody needs to be me.

To everyone reading this who is already contributing to my Patreon feed as an individual, Cathy and I thank you. Someday the rest of the world may be grateful, too.

Now I’m appealing to those of you at corporations and institutions. If you use open-source software (including, say, the browser you’re reading this through) you almost certainly rely on code I wrote every day. Soon, you’ll very likely be relying on my code to provide time service for your computers.

If you have purchase authority for software, please use it to sign your company or institution up as an “Institutional Supporter” of my Patreon account. For $100 per month, you will help ensure that all 50+ of my projects stay under maintenance – and your organization will be listed as a sponsor every time I do a project release after you sign up.

Please don’t wait; do it now. Don’t kid yourself that essential infrastructure like time service is somebody else’s problem; it’s your problem, and this is how you can be sure it gets solved.

176 thoughts on “In which, alas, I must rattle a tin cup

  1. Okay, so I’m a coward for posting anonymously. So be it, I don’t want to lose a friend. But as your friend I feel obligated to tell you the stuff you need to hear, which isn’t always the stuff you want to hear.

    Eric, get a job.

    I promise you, the internet will still keep running, even without you tirelessly working on its infrastructure 24/7. I know you’ve done a lot for the Open Source community. I know you’ve done a lot for the internet community as a whole. I know a lot of the code that keeps the internet humming along is your code. I know you’ve donated a lot of your time and talent to the Greater Good, and that I rely on code every day that wouldn’t be there if you hadn’t written it. But you are not alone. There are many, many other talented people who have done the same – and most of them have day jobs. I’m one of them. I contribute to Open Source projects in my spare time, and some of them involve key parts of the infrastructure. I don’t ask for money in return. I do it when I can, in between working a full-time job and various consulting gigs that pay the bills.

    I understand that the idea of working a regular job is distasteful to you. I understand that you feel like it’s beneath you. But it’s not. It’s what other people do every single day – we all wish we didn’t have to, but we do. And we still find time to work on Open Source projects on the side. Yes, it means we have less time to contribute, but there are others who will pick up the slack. That’s the beauty of Open Source, and you know that. You are a very talented programmer, but you are not the only one. You are special, but you are not unique. Others will fill in the gaps. Others who are equally talented or ( *gasp* ) even more so.

    Eric, I’m sorry for being blunt. But I also know you’re a straight-talking guy who appreciates bluntness, so I’m hoping it will get through to you. I am one of your Patreon contributors, but if you keep begging for money instead of getting a job, I’m going to stop contributing. You are my friend, and I don’t want to bail on you in your time of need, but maybe that’s what it will take. You have the talent and the reputation to get a really good job, and you live in an area where programming jobs are plentiful. The economy is improving, and companies are hiring again. Get your resume together and go see what’s out there.

    The internet thanks you for your contributions. Now go do what the rest of us do – earn a living, and contribute when you can. You have a duty to your wife and cat. Support them first. Support the internet infrastructure second.

    • >I understand that you feel like [getting a job is] beneath you.

      If you actually believe that, you don’t understand me well enough to call me a friend.

      I believe in honest work. I believe I give good value on every contract I take, and I’m proud of that.

      My reluctance to get a day job isn’t because I have any disdain for regular employment. It’s because some kinds of necessary work can’t be done on a nights-and-weekends schedule – some projects demand a degree of commitment and concentration that’s incompatible with giving 40 hours a week to a day job.

      Somebody has to do that kind of work, because our technical challenges do not neatly segment themselves into time-off-sized projects. If not me, who? If not now, when?

      Unsupport me if you must. I will continue to do what I think is best for everybody, not just myself. If that means begging for money (which I assure you I find far more distasteful and humiliating than the prospect of working for pay) then that’s a cost I reluctantly accept.

      Part of me would actually love the relative security of employment. But I know what wouldn’t get done if I chose that. And again: if not me, who? If not now, when?

      Duty is a difficult thing, and the shape of the weight it puts on one is sometimes not visible to others. I guess you don’t see my duty the way I do, but that doesn’t relieve me of the weight.

  2. A Coward, may be speaking plain truths. But it is not easy for somebody who has been working as an independent consultant and/or been in a professional practice setup to get a regular job and stick to it.

    I’ve been a practising lawyer myself earlier and now forced in a full time job for the last 2 years. It is extremely distasteful for any professional to work in an organizational set up when your specialized knowledge is of secondary or even tertiary importance to the company but only your regular, uninspiring work is. Clocking regular hours is tedious. That alone kills your creative spirit like nothing else.

    Getting a job sounds like great advice. For somebody who’s always been working, they won’t understand the pain and the loss of professional dignity that goes with a “Regular job”. For somebody who has done consulting professionally and/or in independent practice, it is very tough to adapt and adjust.

    I feel Eric’s pain – even at my age, I find it hard every day to go to work. But yes, agreed, it’s what everybody else does. That doesn’t make it easier for the more creative among us (It’s not about modesty, I’m also being plain here).

    • >For somebody who’s always been working, they won’t understand the pain and the loss of professional dignity that goes with a “Regular job”.

      I wouldn’t feel that way. Really I wouldn’t. Well, not unless it was a shit job for which I was way overqualified, but that’s a different problem than you’re talking about.

  3. Yes, a full time job does drain your creativity and leaves you with little juice to pursue other work, even hobbies, because any job, even the most mundane one that requires clocking regular hours, is mentally draining. I don’t know how to explain it, but I know it from experience.

    • >Yes, a full time job does drain your creativity

      That’s the real problem. Call it arrogant if you like, but I think the world needs my creativity where it’s going now, even if that need doesn’t readily translate into a flow of cash in my direction.

  4. When I meant loss of professional dignity, I did not mean that you yourself would feel beneath the job. Even if you are 100% committed, the environment around you would not support your commitment.
    E.g. A nagging and difficult boss who you have to beg for a day’s leave even when you’re entitled to it.
    Too many mundane tasks that get in your way.
    Concepts such as team-work and bonding not suitable for people with individualistic temperament.
    Small-time, office politics and gossip. Though can ignore it, but you still feel uncomfortable when it comes around to you how others talk about you behind your back.

    • >When I meant loss of professional dignity, I did not mean that you yourself would feel beneath the job. Even if you are 100% committed, the environment around you would not support your commitment

      Fair enough…and that is a problem I’ve had before.

      I can imagine a regular job where I’d be happy and productive – as a surgical-team leader on a highly technical and challenging project, with an unusually wise manager who knows how to guard my back. The odds of slotting into a situation like that are, alas, not high.

  5. For somebody who has done consulting professionally and/or in independent practice, it is very tough to adapt and adjust.

    A good point, but there’s more. If you’ve been self-employed / independent/ consulting for a good part of your career, lots of companies won’t want to hire you. DAMHIK.

    They assume, perhaps rightfully so, at the first opportunity you’ll bail and go back to your life of freedom rather than drudgery.

    If necessary I don’t doubt ESR will get a job. But he is also right to consider it as a last choice. I also respect that he’s humble enough to ask, in public.

    • >If you’ve been self-employed / independent/ consulting for a good part of your career, lots of companies won’t want to hire you.

      And it’s worse because I’m 59. Age discrimination is a real problem here; if I weren’t famous I would evaluate my chances at only sightly above zip even if I had a regular employment history.

    • >I also respect that he’s humble enough to ask, in public.

      I didn’t want to do that. I swallowed my pride so the mission could get done.

  6. > A good point, but there’s more. If you’ve been self-employed / independent/ consulting for a good part of your career, lots of companies won’t want to hire you. DAMHIK.

    Yes, true. HR folk always seem to prefer people with “industry experience”.
    The two seem to be mutually exclusive career paths – straddling them is not easy and switching also entails losing out on “experience points”.

  7. @A. Coward –

    > I understand that the idea of working a regular job is distasteful to you. …
    > It’s what other people do every single day – we all wish we didn’t have to, but we do.
    > And we still find time to work on Open Source projects on the side. Yes, it means
    > we have less time to contribute, but there are others who will pick up the slack.
    >

    *raises hand*
    Yeah, I’ve got a full-time day job – a well-paying one, in IT, working for a wonderful boss and with a very good team. And I can’t wait to be able to retire (I’m 61 1/2) and devote myself more to helping support OSS.

    I’m also one of Eric’s Patreon contributors because right now I’ve got more money than time. I also contribute to the Internet Civil Engineering Institute in both money and time, because I believe that it can (will) be an engine to help fund all kinds of infrastructure OSS in the very near future.

    Have you seen the complexity of the NTP code?? And do you realize how badly it was being abused for DDoS attacks less than two years ago? It needed to be fixed – desperately. Are you doing it? Could you do it?

    Hell, Very Large Portions of the Internet software infrastructure need to be fixed desperately. Right. Now. Before the whole house of cards collapses on our heads, and People Die. This is not just a matter of convenience or luxury anymore; the Internet is as least as essential as the Interstate Highway System. Eric feels it is his duty to do what he can to “hold up the sky”.

    If not him, who? If not now, when?

  8. Coward: Given ESR’s unusually large platform, I think this may actually be what looking for a job looks like in his case. He basically wants to get hired on by a collection of companies as a global IT admin, and an appeal like this may actually be a plausible way for him to do so. Sell ad space, do work that helps these firms indirectly, and turn his passion into a job.

    I mean, think about it – if Google dropped $5k/month on him, they’d probably get their money’s worth in infrastructure even if none of it was their IP, and there’d be advertising benefits as well. ESR has previously said that Larry and Sergey sent him fan mail back in the 90s. Something could happen there, and an approach like this might help make it happen. It’s worth a shot, right?

    ESR: I’m going to put on my financial planner hat here. Please tell me that you’ve given some thought to retirement planning over the course of your life, right? Retiring at 59 isn’t ideal for most people, but you should have substantial savings by now, and at least be within shouting distance of being able to quit needing to work for good. If not, get on that – work a day job that pays what you’re worth(which, not to put too fine a point on it, is probably a lot more than $60k a year), and sock away serious cash for as long as you can.

    • >ESR: I’m going to put on my financial planner hat here. Please tell me that you’ve given some thought to retirement planning over the course of your life, right?

      I have. I think we have saved fairly prudently; our assets are worth a large fraction of a megabuck. I raised the alarm not because we’re in imminent danger of becoming flat broke, but because without more income now we’d have to burn through them as a rate that could mean real deep-shit trouble when we’re older, and Cathy is quietly panicking. I don’t think it would be in anybody’s interest for us to lose that margin.

      Then there’s this: I’ve never really planned on retiring in the normal sense. Unless I have a stroke or get senile dementia I expect to be writing code and FAQs and books – working, in effect – as long as I live, and I’m good with that. I’d actually be a little afraid of stopping – I suspect inactivity kills personalities like mine.

  9. I’ve maxed my Patreon contribution (my wife and I have an agreement about how much per month goes to things we support).

    Is it unreasonable to set up your work as a nonprofit, with donations being tax-deductible? NTPSec really is a critical effort that you’re not making a profit on. For some people, tax deductions are an extra incentive to save, and I think the project is one of the really deserving ones out there.

    Surely your wife can navigate the lawyer speak to set it up. Plus, your computer equipment, home office costs, etc. could be protected expenses. The paperwork might be a pain, but it could be the equivalent of doubling your Patreon.

    • >Is it unreasonable to set up your work as a nonprofit, with donations being tax-deductible?

      Actually, several of my regulars and I have been working on a way to institutionalize that; see John D. Bell’s reference to ICEI upthread. The reality I’m currently dealing with is that I expect ICEI to be an effective fundraiser in the future, but it hasn’t quite achieved that yet.

      In the best-case (and fairly plausible) scenario, there will come a time when I say to my Patreon patrons “OK, please redirect to ICEI, it will help me and other infrastructure hackers as well.”

  10. (I realize the two halves of my previous comment seem to be at odds. To be clear, what I’m suggesting is giving Patreon-as-job a try and also looking for traditional work in the very near future, like probably within a few weeks, if it doesn’t work out. I’m unemployed right now myself, and the experience of stringing together odd jobs, dipping into savings, and applying for a bunch of different things simultaneously is familiar to me. Better to make too many attempts to keep things going than not enough.)

  11. Hell, Very Large Portions of the Internet software infrastructure need to be fixed desperately. Right. Now. Before the whole house of cards collapses on our heads, and People Die.

    I, too, am finally in a position where I have more money than time. (First time in almost 20 years.) Which means I can finally start looking for more donation opportunities. Sending money directly to a point of productivity strikes me as loads more efficient than sending it to an organization that specializes only in figuring out where productivity may be found, and then sending it.

    However, it’s hard for me as yet to make the case to myself that this kind of infrastructure work justifies $X/month. An argument from authority from Eric and John counts for plenty for me. …But what if I want to make the same case to someone else? Would either / both of you mind expanding on the threat we’re facing here? Such that I could explain it to others? Even if it’s a referral to something already written (in fact, by far the best use of your time; and I also owe it to myself to look more into this when I get home). But if you enjoy talking about it, hey, win-win.

    Sad about Cathy’s near-term professional job outlook. She’s one good reason among a few for me to never say “first, we kill all the lawyers”.

    OTOH, this as described kinda sounds like ACA just pushed buggy whip makers out of business (and Cathy’s time is therefore now more valuable applied to something else). How accurate is that? I’ve long felt irritated that so much contract work requires an expensive lawyer to arbitrate, but I feel comfortable admitting in this crowd that most of my evidence for that is anecdotal. (Plus, I have other principles on which to dislike ACA; but I’m trying to be honest about what I don’t like.)

    • >But what if I want to make the same case to someone else? Would either / both of you mind expanding on the threat we’re facing here?

      See icei.org. I worked pretty hard on those explanatory materials.

    • >CA just pushed buggy whip makers out of business (and Cathy’s time is therefore now more valuable applied to something else).

      Here’s what happened, to my understanding:

      Cathy developed a lot of specialist expertise in legal research, scholarship, and brief-writing. You’d think all lawyers do this sort of thing a lot, but they don’t, and are often not very good at it when they do – which is why the managing partner at one of the firms described her to clients as “our secret weapon”.

      And this was good, as long as firms were doing enough volume at enough margin to be able to afford specialists and oddballs as force multipliers for their line troops. Another description of her was “the partner in charge of weird stuff” – not by coincidence, Cathy’s IQ is at or slightly above the upper end of the normal range in the legal profession.

      Then the cost pressure on law firms ramped way up. This began to threaten specialists and oddballs of all kinds; when you’re trying to shed costs, it makes business sense to keep the generalists and rainmakers, and heave the specialists over the side to work on contract if you use them at all.

      ACA put the cherry on the shit sundae by making employment relationships enough less of a win for the employer to precipitate a general purge of anyone they thought they could cut. More specialized and older (thus more expensive) employees got ditched first.

      If you’re seeing a parallel here with the vicious age discrimination at a lot of programming shops, you’re not wrong. The underlying economics is similar. So are the bad long-term consequences of ditching the most skilled.

      UPDATE: Cathy adds that her final form wasn’t pulling in business fast enough, at least in part because a lot of clients and potential clients were pulling in their horns in post-shock conditions. It has since foundered.

  12. > (For reasons I don’t understand, law seems to have been hit harder by the ACA employer mandate than any other professional field except higher education. I hear non-tenured faculty are even hungrier than lawyers these days.)

    Could there be something else going on in the job market? I’ve heard things about there just being too many people getting law degrees, possibly due to problems in the student loan system.

    Like, maybe or maybe not the ACA was a factor, and maybe she personally would still have a job (or maybe they would have found some other reason to push her out) but even if so maybe there was another crunch for unrelated reasons that hit at the same time.

  13. > Could there be something else going on in the job market? I’ve heard things about there just being too many people getting law degrees, possibly due to problems in the student loan system.

    Yes, there are too many JDs nationwide, and yet law jobs in many rural areas go unfilled for years. I briefly considered getting a JD myself, and I did my homework on that. Some local governments even offer relocation packages to be a prosecutor or public defender in their areas.

    In the end I decided against the JD because it would be basically an expensive career reboot, setting me back years.

    esr: have you and the Mrs. considered moving to a place where she could get reemployed? And maybe picking up a sunnier climate to boot?

    • >esr: have you and the Mrs. considered moving to a place where she could get reemployed? And maybe picking up a sunnier climate to boot?

      We’d need to have a job offer in hand first. That hasn’t happened.

  14. >I hear non-tenured faculty are even hungrier than lawyers these days.

    Could there be something else going on in the job market?

    The entry-level academic job market being saturated the past year-and-a-half is about what you’d expect, and the problem would likely be a bit older in the legal world. My hypothesis is that since the graduating class of 2009 would have been the first post-recession, they (and a few years following to varying degrees) have higher rates of grad- and law school participation as they were unable to find employment and attempt to put the years to use by improving their qualifications. 2011 rolls around and the job market still sucks, so everybody who is now finishing their two-year master’s starts eying the ~four-year doctoral programs. So come 2015 or so, there’s an absolute glut of PhDs, and the job market is better, but not enough to absorb them all. The oversupply of JDs, I’m guessing, would have struck a few years earlier as it is less common to get a master’s degree before applying to a law program than it is before applying to a doctoral program.

  15. See icei.org. I worked pretty hard on those explanatory materials.

    Thanks. …There doesn’t seem to be much on icei.org, though; the meat appears to be “Our Projects”, which is well-written, and has a few external links, but is brief. So I’m asking right now whether I happened to miss anything you were referring to.

    One thing you may have meant was ntpsec.org. There’s a lot more here, and probably what I’m looking for in this case. I’ll have to read it in depth when I get home.

    • >I’m asking right now whether I happened to miss anything you were referring to.

      I no longer see the long version of our mission statement on the site. We have a teleconference tonight; I’ll ask about that.

  16. The early ICEI was broken. I donated money to it before it was public, but I never got the advertised reward, didn’t make it onto any mailing lists, and was forgotten or ignored when I tried to volunteer. It was… disappointing. Last I heard, ICEI died. I’m glad that didn’t actually happen.

    Has ICEI rebooted such that I could attempt to volunteer once again?

    • >Has ICEI rebooted such that I could attempt to volunteer once again?

      Er, what reward were we advertising? I remember plans to institute one, but nor that it came to fruition. I wiill make your loss good myself if I can.

      ICEI is indeed rebooted. The reason for the long hiatus was that CII spun up just as the first version of the org was about to go public. That sucked all the oxygen out of the room for a while.

  17. Tangential, but you might feel a tad better about the whole thing if you spend 30 minutes with firecalc.com.

    Free and anonymous, It takes a reasonably comprehensive set of information about your financial present and future, and then, foreach start_date in data_set, computes a model of your net worth through retirement.

    This then turns into a set of plots. The one where you ‘retired’ in 1929 looks terrible, the one where you ‘retired’ in 1968 looks great. Average them all together, and you compute your likelihood of going broke and eating catfood.

    I only bring it up because a) it’s a very concrete measurement of your risk, and b) most people are surprised to learn they’re better off than they thought.

    Food for thought.

  18. > Er, what reward were we advertising?

    There was a list on the ICEI website at one time. My donation level qualified me for some kind of secure router, I believe. I don’t recall anything else on the list. At some point, the list disappeared, possibly when icei.org went public (originally, I had to log in to it).

    The reward was incidental. What I really wanted was the opportunity to get involved with and support ICEI.

    • > My donation level qualified me for some kind of secure router,

      That was one of the proposals. I don’t think it was ever supposed to be publcly visible. I apologize for the error.

      >The reward was incidental. What I really wanted was the opportunity to get involved with and support ICEI.

      That can and will happen – jdb just promised me this.

  19. I just signed up at Patreon with a modest contribution. I totally understand what it’s like being a software developer over age 50. It’s a shame that someone like NIST or USNO won’t hire Eric to do this full time. Or some FOSS company or non-profit won’t fund him just for the marketing bonus of being able to say he is their employee… Just as an off the top of my head stupid idea, why not send NIST or USNO a grant proposal to fund Eric’s work?

    • >Just as an off the top of my head stupid idea, why not send NIST or USNO a grant proposal to fund Eric’s work?

      ICEI will no doubt do such things. Had I been able to wait until that kind of fundraising was producing results, I would have.

  20. Update http://www.catb.org/esr/ : you *are* in the market for a job now.

    Update your resume; timestamp on the bottom is 2009.

    Maybe you can get by by just pushing the contracting a little harder:

    Have you tried hawking support contracts for any/all of those infrastructure projects you maintain?

    Or per-job consulting for reposurgeon work? “Modernize your version control! Let the expert move you to a 21st century SCM!” …you know you want to write a Clearcase input to reposurgeon ;)

    …etc etc. Where’s your “I love me” page that talks you up as THE guy to hire for all your supergeek opensource needs? PHBs aren’t in-tribe enough to know who you by name.
    Ideally with recommendations from past satisfied customers.

    • >you *are* in the market for a job now.

      Well, I will be if the Patreon drive doesn’t get to a level I can live on.

      >Have you tried hawking support contracts for any/all of those infrastructure projects you maintain?

      Support contracts, no. I have managed a consulting gig or two.

      Unfortunately, the kind of skill I can sell for short-term jobs is all too easy for managers to undervalue. They’d rather put an in-house guy on a repository conversion than pay me to do it faster and better. Sigh…

  21. esr said:

    “Unfortunately, the kind of skill I can sell for short-term jobs is all too easy for managers to undervalue. They’d rather put an in-house guy on a repository conversion than pay me to do it faster and better. Sigh…”

    And that’s my problem as well. I’m an introvert, which means that I’m terrible at marketing activities, and dread (and thus generally avoided) trial work like the plague.

    As a result, I have only a minute number of clients (what we call in the trade “portable business”). Moreover, at my age (not very much younger than Eric’s) there are few, if any, 9-to-5 jobs I can get hired for. The legal work as to which I have plenty of experience I cannot get hired for, because potential employers would rather pay a younger attorney to do it cheaper (even if it’s done less well). The legal work for which I have no experience but could learn I can’t get hired for because no employer wants to pay me (the miniscule amount it would take) to get the experience.

    Even contract work (i.e. “temp” jobs for lawyers) is hard to come by, unless you have a track record for doing a lot of it.

  22. Eric, would it make sense for you to write science fiction as possible income/cheap recreation? I realize it’s only *possible* income, but it might be a good use of downtime if that works for you.

    Cathy’s situation is unpleasantly reminiscent of some stuff from Rothbard. He wrote about businesses using processes that take longer as interest rates go down, and the economy becomes more productive.

    I’m not sure that Obamacare is equivalent to the interest rate going up, but it sounds like it’s having the same effect for some businesses.

    • >Eric, would it make sense for you to write science fiction as possible income/cheap recreation?

      Ha ha ha. Do you know what advice aged and wily fiction writers give young ones who want to not starve? It’s “Have a day job.” In fiction you get paid bupkis unless you’re one of a handful of stars. I am not a star.

      A related possibility is for me to write more computer-related nonfiction. That’s about the only area of professional writing you can live on as a non-star without a day job. And, actually, I am a star in that domain, with three successful and well-regarded books that all had long legs.

      So why is this not perfect? Because even for someone who writes as fast as I do (and I am exceptional that way) writing technical books is no less time-intensive than a full-time job. And *plonk*, we’re back to square one, where I have to make a zero-sum choice between making money and fixing the infrastructure.

  23. > That was one of the proposals. I don’t think it was ever supposed to be publcly visible. I apologize for the error.

    It may not have been; I can’t recall. It was definitely there in the pre-public days of icei.org. In any case, no worries.

    > That can and will happen – jdb just promised me this.

    Thanks!

  24. Been there, done that, got the bills I’m till paying off.

    I’m going to forcibly restrain myself from commenting on what I see as the cause, and merely point out that it was about four and a half years between the time the consulting company I worked for collapsed, leaving me on the hook for $44,000, to the time I finally bit the bullet and took a 40-hour-a-week tech support job for half what I had been making before the economy went south. A little over three years later, I’m programming for a living, but it’s sapping my energy for doing other computer-related work.

    It’s not an easy choice to make. You’re ahead of me in that you at least have substantial assets to draw on in retirement. Still, things get a lot better if you can wait six or seven years to retire.

    Your options are at leaat broader than mine.

  25. I wonder why you never considered monetizing your role as an “elder”. What happened to all those people looking to become disciples? You could start a channel somewhere, make some videos, write more technical articles and boost your Patreon. I dunno … livecode NTPsec even.

    • >I wonder why you never considered monetizing your role as an “elder”. What happened to all those people looking to become disciples? You could start a channel somewhere, make some videos, write more technical articles and boost your Patreon. I dunno … livecode NTPsec even.

      Hadn’t really figured out how – except that I am going to try to write more articles. It would have been impossible not to notice how strong the Patreon response to “Things Every Hacker Once Knew” was.

      Those people looking to become disciples are mostly kids, often with Third World names. Odds of extracting any money there seem approximately zero.

      I have actually considered starting a channel; one of my assets is that I am a lively and sometimes compelling speaker. The blocker there is that the market seems to demand production values I don’t know how to deliver – supporting animations, in particular.

      Er…”livecode”…this is a thing?

  26. On the subject of a job, have you considered tutoring? You should be able to command top-dollar and you can do it on whatever schedule pleases you. There are tutoring companies online and you could sign up with one of those and they will take care of advertising and billing for you. When the non-profit comes online you work until the end of the semester then stop. It won’t pay as much as a programming contract, but the flexibility should be very helpful. (You could probably work it both ways. You get paid work and the tutoring company gets to advertise having you on their staff.)

    On the subject of contributing, I’m badly stuck myself these days, but I’ll see if I can find something more than pocket lint.

    • >On the subject of a job, have you considered tutoring?

      That is an interesting idea which had not occurred to me. I will investigate.

  27. P.S. I might have a tiny bit of work for Cathy since she does health-care. If you have her write me at the email address I use, I’ll fill in the details.

  28. esr> Er…”livecode”…this is a thing?

    Dude, you really need to get out more. Livecoding is indeed a thing, though it isn’t a thing for everybody. A number of projects have done things like solicit patreon donations and a certain support levels let the patrons watch a livestream of the developer developing the project, which for most services includes some kind of chat/commenting system so the patrons can talk amongst themselves or give feedback. Most of the projects I’m aware of are niche games with a graphical component, but a lot of the draw seems to be the entertainment value of the developer and how they interact with their audience.

    At the not-game end of the spectrum, iconoclast game developer Jon Blow is building Jai, a new programming language suited to gamedev needs (as he sees them) and is doing a bunch of the work live on his youtube channel. Videos of prior broadcasts are still there. I don’t think he’s asking for money, but he does get an audience to watch him work on a compiler and pontificate.

    In terms of fancy production value, that depends on your audience and the expectations you set. A lot of the tech that goes into this is used to livestream games and is designed to be operated by a 15 year old monkey in their parents basement.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_coding
    https://www.youtube.com/user/jblow888/

    • >Dude, you really need to get out more. Livecoding is indeed a thing, though it isn’t a thing for everybody.

      Ah, OK. I have actually seen this thing done – as musical livecoding – I just didn’t know the tag.

      I don’t think my work would be suitable. However, you have given me a related idea. A document – or a video – on “How I write code” might be interesting to a fair number of people.

  29. I’m really sorry, Eric. I’d help you if I could; you’ve done much for me, both directly and indirectly. But, as it is, I’m “burning savings” myself.

    This may be an unrealistic idea, but… could you make some money by developing mobile apps?

    By the way: normally, I don’t correct people when they’re talking about a delicate subject; but there’s a glaring omission I feel compelled to address: you wrote “Cathy and thank you” instead of “Cathy and I thank you”. (In addition, you may want to mention that not only did ObamaCare destroy her job, but that it also increased healthcare costs for both of you. Substantially, if I recall correctly.)

    I have actually seen this thing done – as musical livecoding…

    You mean with Overtone and Emacs Live, as Meta-ex did?

    • >This may be an unrealistic idea, but… could you make some money by developing mobile apps?

      This has in common with a lot of other suggestions that it would eat the time I feel I should be spending on infrastructure work.

  30. > This has in common with a lot of other suggestions that it would eat the time I feel I should be spending on infrastructure work.

    Hypothetically, would you be potentially interested in paid virtual work with flexible part-time hours working on open source projects, specifically in areas which have high potential for network effects such as for example improving the JavaScript ecosystem? Or improving “blockchain” technology in some fundamental way that speculatively might have broad network efforts on the Internet in general? Perhaps it would be helpful to clarify your definition of ‘infrastructure’ in this context.

    My understanding is you want to choose work which maximizes the value to the broad Internet community of your limited time resource? Or more specifically the value to hackers or some other more targeted demographic?

    • >Hypothetically, would you be potentially interested in paid virtual work with flexible part-time hours working on open source projects, specifically in areas which have high potential for network effects such as for example improving the JavaScript ecosystem? Or improving “blockchain” technology in some fundamental way that speculatively might have broad network efforts on the Internet in general?

      Yes, that would be interesting.

      >My understanding is you want to choose work which maximizes the value to the broad Internet community of your limited time resource?

      Yes. The work I am specifically interested in is fixing neglected foundational infrastructure. If I weren’t concentrated on NTPsec I would have gravitated to work like the post-Heartbleed cleanup of SSL, or Dave Taht’s (now completed) bufferbloat and WiFi cleanups. Working on LEDE as a way of tackling the mess in router and IoT software would also be interesting.

      I guess one way to summarize my metric would be that I like to ask this question: “What are the services everyone takes for granted that are aged or broken?”

  31. Have you thought of reaching out to DARPA or DHS for funding? There would be a lot of upfront work to get established, but if you did get a grant, that could meet your financial goals, while still doing the infrastructure work that you’re passionate about.

    I don’t have any specific contacts for you, but here are some formal entry points to start with:

    https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/find-and-apply-grants
    http://www.darpa.mil/attachments/DARPA101EngagingDARPADSO.pdf

    Since you’re planning on writing more articles anyway, I would suggest a series of three or four articles highlighting the infrastructure weaknesses you see, aimed at a general audience like the Cathedral and the Bazaar was. The geeks in the US government rarely have funding authority, but if you create a set of 3-5 page articles that can be put on the desks of people with funding authority, that will open up conversations with people who can support you with tax dollars.

    • >Have you thought of reaching out to DARPA or DHS for funding?

      Yes, I’ve researched this to know it’s not practical for me to do on my own. DHS and DARPA like particular kinds of intermediating institutions – especially academic ones – and essentially never grant to individuals. It is, however, worth noting that the seed grant for NTPsec came from NSF through the University of Indiana.

      >Since you’re planning on writing more articles anyway, I would suggest a series of three or four articles highlighting the infrastructure weaknesses you see, aimed at a general audience like the Cathedral and the Bazaar was.

      That is a very good idea, and needs to be done anyway for ICEI purposes.

  32. Here is a specific DARPA project focused on timing issues:

    http://www.darpa.mil/program/atomic-clock-with-enhanced-stability

    “Precise timing is essential across DoD systems, including communications, navigation, electronic warfare, intelligence systems reconnaissance, and system-of-systems platform coordination, as well as in national infrastructure applications in commerce and banking, telecommunications, and power distribution. Improved clock performance throughout the timing network, particularly at point-of-use, would enable advanced collaborative capabilities and provide greater resilience to disruptions of timing synchronization networks, notably by reducing reliance on satellite-based global navigation satellite system (GNSS) timing signals. The Atomic Clock with Enhanced Stability (ACES) program aims to develop next-generation, battery-powered chip-scale atomic clocks (CSAC) with 1000X improvement in key performance parameters compared to existing CSAC technology.”

    At a minimum, the project leader, Dr. Robert Lutwak, should be able to introduce you to others in government who would value your work.

  33. Er…”livecode”…this is a thing?
    It’s not just livecoding, as of 2017 you can pretty much livestream (or vlog) anything. In general, watching people who know what they’re doing do what they do is interesting. Louis Rossmann, for example, has a decently sized YouTube channel where he literally is just fixing broken components on motherboards. Is there any reason to think that videos of NTPsec development, and whatever else happens to cross your mind, would not be interesting?
    Those people looking to become disciples are mostly kids, often with Third World names. Odds of extracting any money there seem approximately zero.
    Well yeah, the standard estimate of $0.001 per view is “approximately zero”. But consider the potential audience size — here the fact that third-world kids email reach out to you and not the other way around should be quite indicative …

    By starting a channel you could satisfy their curiosity without sacrificing too much of your own personal time. O(N) value at O(1) cost. If crumbling internet infrastructure is really as important as you think it is, then the world needs all the educational resources it can get. So why not do the work and educate at the same time?

    • >By starting a channel you could satisfy their curiosity without sacrificing too much of your own personal time. O(N) value at O(1) cost. If crumbling internet infrastructure is really as important as you think it is, then the world needs all the educational resources it can get. So why not do the work and educate at the same time?

      There is merit in your argument. I will think about ways and means.

  34. I have actually considered starting a channel; one of my assets is that I am a lively and sometimes compelling speaker. The blocker there is that the market seems to demand production values I don’t know how to deliver – supporting animations, in particular.

    Obviously I can’t speak for others, but the one production value I look for in video channels is they removed all of the crap. In my world of one, a highly intelligent programming and infrastructure channel in which the installments are dense—less than half an hour and preferably less than 20 minutes or even 15 minutes, or, the holy grail, 10 minutes—is very hard to find.

    There’s a nice news podcast from The Washington Examiner, Trump: The First 100 Days, that is very dense; and a nice writing podcast from NPR, The Ten Minute Writers Workshop, that is relatively dense (relative to most writer meanderings).

  35. I find it hard to believe that some tech giant with megabucks (Microsoft? or more likely Google) does not see the value in what you are doing and fund you Eric.

    Especially when you consider the billions they have burning a hole in their pocket…

  36. I will think about ways and means.

    I smell a continuing-education business expense in my future.

  37. This comment is not intended to be confrontational. Just brainstorming.

    > I would suggest a series of three or four articles highlighting the infrastructure weaknesses you see, aimed at a general audience like the Cathedral and the Bazaar was.

    > Well yeah, the standard estimate of $0.001 per view is “approximately zero”. But consider the potential audience size

    > By starting a channel you could satisfy their curiosity without sacrificing too much of your own personal time. O(N) value at O(1) cost.

    Wasn’t CatB documenting and projecting a sexy emerging anthropological phenomenon and technological paradigm shift that was naturally of great mass appeal and shouldn’t we distinguish that with what may be trying to interest a large population in the ostensibly archaic and boring?

    Even though Eric is a talented (even humorous) public speaker and uber talented writer, I am leaning towards what appears to be his original intuition that livecoding would not maximize his ROI nor his value to the community. I have wasted too much time in the third world, so unfortunately I have some intuition to not focus there in terms of high end technology, education, nor intellectual interaction (although they are obviously important future mass markets otherwise). I have learned so much from Eric when he is writing in his focused manner and he is a very valuable tribal leader, so I prefer not to see him reduced to becoming just a good entertainer or any less important work that can be done by others. I am hoping that Eric’s Magnum Opus was not CatB and there is something even greater to come yet. Specifically to foster his creative and learning stimuli even more if possible.

    > If crumbling internet infrastructure is really as important as you think it is, then the world needs all the educational resources it can get.

    Upgrading foundational infrastructure is critically important and especially when it is taken for granted by most. Yet my contrarian mind also contemplates that we are not omniscient and sometimes the free market replaces with a complexity reducing paradigm shift instead of maintaining complexity. For example, as I understand it NTP is about a total order on a mutual perspective of millisecond synchronization of global time. But in the broad theoretical sense, total orders don’t exist in our universe. For example, some newer designs for blockchains propose to completely do away with any notion of tightly synchronized network time. That is not to say Eric’s work on NTP isn’t very important, because I assume much legacy code depends on it and blockchains (or other paradigm shifts) will probably not replace all use cases (and not soon enough).

  38. > For example, as I understand it NTP is about a total order on a mutual perspective of millisecond synchronization of global time. But in the broad theoretical sense, total orders don’t exist in our universe.

    In that relativity applies, yes. But all clocks on earth, or in earth orbit, are within a light second or so of each other, are moving at the same velocity to milli-light-second/second precision, and are at the same gravitational potential (with escape velocities at their positions being zero to within milli-light-second/second precision), so a millisecond-precision total order on time makes sense.

  39. @anonymous

    Livecoding is just one of many possible alternative media outlets. I don’t mean to suggest that it is the only possibility. Although I do think Eric should think about some sort of visual media outlet to complement A&D.

    Also, it seems no one has brought up speaking engagements which is maybe the quickest and most direct way to monetize one’s status.

    • >Also, it seems no one has brought up speaking engagements which is maybe the quickest and most direct way to monetize one’s status.

      I’ll do that if I have to. But I’d rather not. Been there, done the Mr. Famous Guy thing, had enough of it.

  40. Have you considered the possibility of setting up as an official open source project and registering with one of the open source umbrella organizations like NumFocus? Numfocus is aimed at scientific computing, but perhaps there is something similar for internet work. I’m not sure how that would fit with your range of interests and you would probably need a governance document and other such formalities, but if you are going to officially seek open source funding you will need something like that. That would be a long term solution however, and it sounds like your needs are more immediate.

  41. @ esr:

    “DHS and DARPA like particular kinds of intermediating institutions…”

    Selling free-as-in-both-speech-and-beer to the defense dept has to be a great racket if you can get into it!

    Tutoring – “I will investigate.”

    My recollection of a couple years back when we needed a math tutor for my son was that one could pay up to $65/hour for a tutor, which probably meant the tutoring company was getting 20-25 percent. The bad news is you might have to work with Windows languages. The good news is you’re helping kids, and I hear that some of the Windows IDEs are very well-designed… Or you can just tutor in math if you don’t want to deal with the Windows virus.

  42. @Jon Brase, I’m not versed on the details of NTP. I was referring to the complexity of synchronization and what constitutes Byzantine faults, such as communication latency, Sybil attacks, DoS attacks, network routing attacks, network communication not provable, etc..

    @Jakub Narebski, I took note of the drama commented on by @michel. I do hope someone has very stimulating (challenging), well paid, foundational work (preferably with flexible scheduling) for the master coder, sans the drama. Maybe if NTP is allowed to fail, the money will start flowing from those who are burned, to the project waiting in the wings that can fix it. I am currently working on a blockchain project and I might have some work to offer after three months…

    Also I forgot to credit the commentators as I have learned so much from many of you also. Thanks. Going dark again…

  43. I no longer see the long version of our mission statement on the site. We have a teleconference tonight; I’ll ask about that.

    How did this go?

  44. I’m honestly a little surprised by this. I had been under the impression that you made rather a lot of money in the dotcom era – maybe not as much as you thought at the time but at least enough to have e.g. paid off your house – which is why I did not donate to your patreon earlier.

    • >I had been under the impression that you made rather a lot of money in the dotcom era

      Alas, no. I was too busy trying to change the world to cash out when I should have.

      There’s still some stock in the kitty but it is worth a hell of a lot less than it was in the boom days. It might keep us eating in extreme old age, if we don’t have to burn our assets sooner.

  45. I’ve been wondering why people spend money (including large scale support) on what they do, and I have no conclusions at the moment, but fear might be a motivator.

    It might help if you wrote up something about what can happen if internet infrastructure isn’t maintained.

  46. > I find it hard to believe that some tech giant with megabucks (Microsoft? or more likely Google) does not see the value in what you are doing and fund you Eric.

    > Especially when you consider the billions they have burning a hole in their pocket…

    Fat chance. Today I saw precisely why they haven’t–and probably never will. They hate (or otherwise do not want to be associated with) his politics.

    “Searching the internet, or heck, talking to the guy for five minutes, will provide you a near-infinite number of reasons that we may not want to” were somebody’s exact words on this matter.

    Good luck getting anything out of Google. Or any major tech firm, really–I imagine they’re all like this. It may in fact well be that ESR can’t get a job–not because he isn’t technically capable (he’s more than demonstrated that he is quite capable on multiple occasions), but because people hate or are afraid of being associated with a guy who (among many other things) speaks out against Islam (and has subsequently been threatened with death by Islamic fundies), opposes gun control, and of course, fights “social justice”–who could be against “social justice”??! (Especially when the SJWs will try to utterly destroy you if you dare to oppose them!) Why do you think I comment here anonymously? These people have everything and we have nothing. (Okay, I’m being hyperbolic. But they are far more powerful than we are.)

    Needless to say, this is quite a sad state of affairs. Frankly, I’ve half a mind to leave this dying far-left cesspool behind and start my own company. I just need funding and a good product to sell…

  47. Eric:
    I believe that I need help with references. You mention that the ACA is eroding prospects for attorneys (if I read you correctly).

    I went to Google and tried searches using ACA causing lawyers losing jobs; ACA impact on legal profession; etc and I get nothing much.

    Can you please provide me with references? I struggle to establish why that ACA will decrease legal activity? I would think it would make more legal work.

    Or do you mean the repeal of the ACA? But that has not happened you. Today, I notice comments about ACA repeal sputtering.

    • >I struggle to establish why that ACA will decrease legal activity?

      Decreasing legal activity isn’t the problem. The problem is that the ACA employer mandate acts as strong incentive to jettison full-time employees and convert them into pieceworkers with no benefits.

      Here is one of the early articles on the effect this is having in academia, where adjunct professors are having their hours cut to less than 30 a week to keep them below the threshold where the mandate kicks in.

      What my wife has observed is a parallel de-professionalization of law. Firms ditching full-time employees, even partners, then (sometimes) giving them contract offers to do piecework, is now a routine thingg. My “references” are what she has lived through and reported.

      I don’t need news articles or academic studies to believe it, since it’s exactly what the microeconomics predicts will happen when taxation boosts deadweight losses enough.

  48. Eric is bound not to be the only high-caliber techie whose age and politics render him unattractive to the Silicon Valley Left. Not only that, but I’m certain he’s far from the only one who refuses to have anything to do with the People’s Republic of Commiefornia.

    We typically respond to something like this by saying “looks like a market opportunity!” If there’s tech talent out there that’s not being taken advantage of, then there should be money to be made by harnessing it, right?

    • >Not only that, but I’m certain he’s far from the only one who refuses to have anything to do with the People’s Republic of Commiefornia.

      I don’t have anything against California, actually. Sure, its government is a gaggle of idiots who are busily flushing the state down the tubes, but it’ll remain a pleasant place to live for a while yet for people with enough money to serve as insulation against the crap. It’s just that the threshold amount of money is rising fast…

  49. “It’s just that the threshold amount of money is rising fast…”

    Yeah. I wouldn’t want to try it on less than $200k a year. And the idiots would promptly tax half of that away…

  50. I judge Eric far more by his deeds than his words; he has long since proven that he’s willing to freely contribute his time to making the Internet work and that goes a long way to overcoming his words about politics.

    This being the case it might be useful to create a charity which could hire Eric at arm’s length to work on code. Something like Charity Not Named Eric pays Corporation Not Named Eric, then that company hires Cathy Raymond (we didn’t know they were related) for legal work. Cathy plays with the cat and Eric writes code which mysteriously ends up on the servers for Charity Not Named Eric. Or something like that.

    • >This being the case it might be useful to create a charity which could hire Eric at arm’s length to work on code.

      ICEI is an attempt to solve this problem for a class of engineers including me but larger.

  51. “I judge Eric far more by his deeds than his words; he has long since proven that he’s willing to freely contribute his time to making the Internet work and that goes a long way to overcoming his words about politics.”

    It’s only in the recent past that people’s employment prospects were dependent on their being politically correct…

    • >It’s only in the recent past that people’s employment prospects were dependent on their being politically correct…

      I’m rather looking forward to the screams of anguish on the day the Left realizes that this will be turned against them…

  52. > Something like Charity Not Named Eric pays Corporation Not Named Eric, then that company hires Cathy Raymond (we didn’t know they were related) for legal work. Cathy plays with the cat and Eric writes code which mysteriously ends up on the servers for Charity Not Named Eric. Or something like that.

    Don’t get cute. The IRS doesn’t like cute. Just hire him and pay him a fair salary. He’s asking for $60k a year, and someone of ESR’s skill is arguably worth at least 2-3x that on the open market, so it won’t be hard to do as long as the money exists to do it with.

  53. Hi ESR.

    I am sorry to read of your financial distress. Me too. If I score anything decent this year, I will send some your way.

    You write:
    … one of my assets is that I am a lively and sometimes compelling speaker.

    Yes! I have seen this on some videos on the web. I am your age and have seen some truly abysmal _paid_ speakers. You are far^2 ahead of and/or above them.

    Idea 1:
    You have brains, expertise, and contacts. Assemble a gnarly presentation, which can be watched on Footube, or given live. If occurring at the proper venues and times, these can motivate people, and sometimes earn money as live shows. A trendy topic is important. Fear sells. Idea 1.1: Innovation in software and/or programming; don’t get left behind! Idea 1.2: Gloom and doom show on Internet infrastructure collapse, with scary classical and dubstep music, and a final resolution with pastoral music and a sunrise-sunset — if you are funded in time.

    It really sucks to have to give head (!) to some of the visionless pinheads who control funding (e.g., PHBs, bureaucrats), but it is too often necessary.

    Idea 2:
    Consider sending a grant proposal to these two 501(c)(3) nonprofits:

    YC Research
    https://ycr.org/

    Viewpoints Research Institute (VPRI)
    http://www.vpri.org/

    Best of wishes.

  54. I like the YouTube idea. Are you sure you’d need animations? As far as I’ve seen, the DontTrustTheRabbit channel – which we know thanks to Jay – doesn’t use them; just captions and still images, which you can probably whip up with GIMP.

    Sure, we’re talking about a different target audience than Trixi’s. But the format she uses is something to consider.

    • >Sure, we’re talking about a different target audience than Trixi’s.

      Which is a very good thing, considering that I don’t have glossy hair or large breasts.

  55. > The problem is that the ACA employer mandate acts as strong incentive to jettison full-time employees and convert them into pieceworkers with no benefits.

    That doesn’t make sense (at least not face value, maybe there’s something I’m missing). It seems like it should only provide an incentive to do that to employees that they were already not providing with benefits, in order to continue not providing them benefits.

    And you certainly haven’t provided any explanation linking the ACA to why the piecework itself dried up.

    • >It seems like it should only provide an incentive to do that to employees that they were already not providing with benefits, in order to continue not providing them benefits.

      No, they want to shed employers with benefits, turning them into contractors without benefits, so the don’t have to pay for the benefits. This was always a temptation; the ACA mandate has made it a much stronger temptation.

      >And you certainly haven’t provided any explanation linking the ACA to why the piecework itself dried up.

      The piecework has probably decreased in volume as legal clients trim expenses, but the larger factor is the number of ronin, cut loose by the ACA, competing for it. This drives down piecework rates.

  56. Eric: “I’m rather looking forward to the screams of anguish on the day the Left realizes that this will be turned against them…”

    As tasty as schadenfreude will be, it doesn’t pay the mortgage…

    Jorge: “the DontTrustTheRabbit channel – which we know thanks to Jay”

    Huh?

  57. It also occurs to me that for political correctness to be used against the Left in employment, there must first be a set of desirable employers that aren’t controlled by the SJWs and not afraid to tell them to go pound sand.

    Right now, these seem thin on the ground. Got any thoughts on how to reverse the situation?

  58. esr:

    Which is a very good thing, considering that I don’t have glossy hair or large breasts.

    Sorry, I don’t know what you’re getting at. My point was simply that you could make YouTube videos without animations.

    Incidentally, Trixi has a Patreon account now, and has been (politely) mentioning it in the videos themselves. If it’s acceptable for her to do that, then it would be all the more acceptable in your case. ;-) Again, something to consider.

    Jay Maynard:

    Jorge: “the DontTrustTheRabbit channel – which we know thanks to Jay”
    Huh?

    It was you who told us about that channel: http://0-esr.ibiblio.org.librus.hccs.edu/?p=6951#comment-1670925
    Since you’d discovered it via a friend of yours, I hereby credit him or her as well. :-)

  59. “It also occurs to me that for political correctness to be used against the Left in employment, there must first be a set of desirable employers that aren’t controlled by the SJWs and not afraid to tell them to go pound sand.

    “Right now, these seem thin on the ground. Got any thoughts on how to reverse the situation?”

    That raises a related question: why are tech and entrepreneurial centers always ultra-liberal?

    Even in *Texas*of all places, the nearest tech-incubator equivalent to Silicon Valley is Austin, which is the Texas version of a liberal zoo.

    Where are the libertarian/conservative startup tech centers?

    We need to figure out a solve for this if we’re going to free geek culture from SJWs.

    • >That raises a related question: why are tech and entrepreneurial centers always ultra-liberal?

      There’re not. Many of them are libertarians. Peter Thiel is a well-known example.

  60. Eric, consider writing an honest-to-$DEITY autobiography. You go back far enough, and are still active enough today, to be able to cover an unusually long and wide breadth of technological history in such a project.

    I would guess it would be a low risk/low ceiling endeavor–it won’t make you a mutimillionaire, but I bet it would pay out about as well as a day job would for ~6-12 months of work, for producing (if done right) a work of real historical significance AND a fascinating read for interested outsiders to hacker culture, just because of the places you’ve been, people you’ve known, and things you’ve seen and done over the decades.

    – A longtime non-hacker reader

  61. > Fat chance. Today I saw precisely why they haven’t–and probably never will. They hate (or otherwise do not want to be associated with) his politics.

    Thank you for this answer Random Googler. I had not considered the politcs angle.

    God I hate this mindset. It is totalitarian. Why the fuck does politics have to be dragged into everything?

    It should be about the software Eric is working on, not politics. You do not have to agree with a person about everything to work with them.

    Especially considering the importance of this particular software.

  62. Don’t get cute. The IRS doesn’t like cute. Just hire him and pay him a fair salary.

    The point is not to fool the IRS. The point is to give the donors plausible deniability. If there’s a better way to give donors deniability I think everyone would be open to it.

  63. “The point is not to fool the IRS. The point is to give the donors plausible deniability. If there’s a better way to give donors deniability I think everyone would be open to it.”

    How about just telling the SJWs to fold it five times until it’s all corners and then shove it up their ass sideways with no lubricants? How does that work for you?

  64. I’m a long-time reader, very occasional commenter.

    Eric, if you want to seriously consider tutoring as an option, please contact me directly. I have been working as a private tutor for more than ten years now. I would gladly share with you any advice or insights I could possibly offer which might help you get started in this field. I charge $100/hour for new clients. I don’t know whether suburban Philadelphia will support that price (I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area), but you should still be able to charge a substantial rate. Again, please contact me directly if you’d like to discuss this further.

    • >Eric, if you want to seriously consider tutoring as an option, please contact me directly.

      Not yet. Some earlier comments clued me in that tutoring would almost certainly drive me crazy in short order. :-)

  65. How about just telling the SJWs to fold it five times until it’s all corners and then shove it up their ass sideways with no lubricants? How does that work for you?

    As strong as my feelings are in this matter, I think it’s probably best if we keep this thread about helping Eric get some $$$ rather than debating the politics. (I’ll happily discuss the politics with you in a different thread.)

  66. Troutwaxer, my point is that plausible deniability only works until the SJWs smoke out the dealings…and then it’ll all come crashing down. All plausible deniability gets the donors is forgiven for having donated in the first place, maybe; that forgiveness will not extend past the uncovering of the scheme.

    The solution has to be one that will withstand the full rage and fury of the SJWs trying to tear it down. I’m not convinced that it will involve anything less than a corporation that will tell the SJWs to do what I said, and funding the effort. Anything less will fall victim to your compadres on the Left.

    That’s why I think the answer is a new tech company, organized and run by folks willing to ignore the SJW screaming, and ready and willing to hire any techie of any age, as long as they do good work and are willing to leave the politics outside. That will require money that’s also immune to SJW screaming.

    The biggest problems are the usual ones: what’s the product to be sold, what’s the market, what’s the business plan, and where’s the money. I’m a techie, not a businessman, so I do not have the requisite experience to get something like this off the ground. Who among us does, if anyone?

  67. Back one more time…

    > Alas, no. I was too busy trying to change the world to cash out when I should have.

    You’ve got a stellar reputation among certain demographics as a result of those priorities.

    > I’ve been wondering why people spend money (including large scale support) on what they do

    Isn’t it probably a gamut of reasons, e.g. politics, inertia, kickbacks, friendships, corporate goals+culture, etc..

    > but fear might be a motivator.
    >
    > It might help if you wrote up something about what can happen if internet infrastructure isn’t maintained.

    I think people are inspired by their goals w.r.t. to their philosophy and worldview, i.e. when they are building (even building by destroying, e.g. SJWs) what they think is important. Trumped faux fear can amplify a mania. People tend to avoid bonafide problems which don’t align with their core motivations, until they need to stampede which can also result in the deer frozen in the headlights phenomenon.

    > They hate (or otherwise do not want to be associated with) his politics.

    As long as a person doesn’t bring their politics into the work in a way that somehow damages the quality and outcome of the work, I wouldn’t let my philosophical differences interfere with my assessment of the person’s value. I suppose it can be an issue if philosophical differences impact the mutual respect, goals and inspiration thereof. My current worldview is significantly aligned (e.g. minanarchist) with Eric’s but there is still at least one major difference relating to those “damned facts” about the genders. Differences in background, age, varied life experience, and for example having children versus not can alter one’s perspective. But for someone who values their craft and the work so much as myself, i.e. the head-in-the-sand hacker work is cardinal to the machinations of society (I’m back in my basement building train worlds or otherwise hacking something), who wouldn’t be inspired to collaborate with (and learn from) a master coder on a challenging and exciting project. I guess once a hacker, always at the core a hacker above all else. I hope.

    > These people have everything and we have nothing.

    Don’t they own the failure they are sowing. Don’t we just need to align with the next paradigm shift that ushers them to the economics trapdoor. Don’t we just need to also be clever about cashing in while doing good for the world. I refuse to be a victim, I can only be a loser or a winner.

    > I’m rather looking forward to the screams of anguish on the day the Left realizes that this will be turned against them…

    I was reminded of your point in a past blog to the effect of noting how the instigators and/or the apathetic are somehow surprised when power structures are built which are later used to do the opposite of what the power structure was created to accomplish. I commented recently not on A&D that JAD’s desire for a Trump dictatorship could be turned against his desired politics when the Left takes control of that power structure in a future election cycle.

    > We typically respond to something like this by saying “looks like a market opportunity!” If there’s tech talent out there that’s not being taken advantage of, then there should be money to be made by harnessing it, right?

    I put the word out in my circles. One replied that he was eager to offer work to Eric, but that he was very busy with several businesses and it would be a few months yet. He said he hoped that Eric would get a contract job in the meantime, not a permanent one.

    > He’s asking for $60k a year, and someone of ESR’s skill is arguably worth at least 2-3x that on the open market,

    He is worth a lot more than $60K. His reputation alone is worth a hell of a lot in the right situation, if it something he feels it worthy of attaching his reputation to, and that is not even including the value of his actual production. Additionally the technical writing he could do for a project, such as refining a whitepaper. Obviously he would need to be careful not to associate himself with some scam or investment pump&dump. And obviously he would need to evaluate the technology and believe in it and its (foundational) importance.

    My last comment in this thread.

  68. “Some earlier comments clued me in that tutoring would almost certainly drive me crazy in short order. :-)”

    So just tutor math. ;-)

  69. Sorry about the way things are going for you. But I love the spirits with which you are taking it. Okay, I am not even a beginner on these matters but I am writing some options I have thought of –

    1. Conducting a TEDx event. It might boost donations for time being, maybe even bring some permanent donors (targeting engineers with right mind, if institutions won’t for whatever reasons).

    2. Reach out other organization (political parties, maybe?) that would like to donate just for having a tag like “We helped saving/saved the Internet” to throw around. I guess there organization/people who would like to have such a tag for their money. (Such organization would require some evangelism/advocacy because even many techies don’t know ESR, fewer care to visit his site, blog and Patreon page).

    3. Maybe pause *temporarily*, take a job, secure years to come and then go for it. Because if you keep going this way, looks like you might suffer more and much earlier than the project you care about. After all you too will reach the retirement age.

    4. Instead of tutoring students, tutor some teachers at University (training programme, as I think they will prefer to hear). Do that occasional, may be even visit the institution as guest. Don’t know the scene in academia at USA, so can’t comment how so called “teachers/professors” would take it but students (since you get too many fanboys) and management with respect to institution’s image) might like. (same could go for “professionals” in software industry)

    5. If big names like Google, Microsoft have too much issue what about RedHat, Suse, DuckDuckGo and all family and friends of open source, free software?

    6. And I think, you should come up with an website (or an webpage) that lists all your projects (and gives a summary and links to them/their repo). Would help your bunch to tell about you to people outside circles that know you. Also such a page make donors feel better as they can see the names of projects.

    I really hope all of these weren’t totally bad. Sorry, if so.

  70. I would also give one more piece of advice. Both Eric and Cathy should get themselves over to:

    http://www.askamanager.org

    which is a place where there is considerable knowledge about how to get and keep a job, including a very, very up-to-date manual on how to do the most modern resumes and what are currently important job interview issues. Cathy will hopefully find the professional discussions congenial, and might get some very good tips on what the modern office wants in terms of resumes/interviews/self-presentation/professional norms and hopefully this will be sufficient for her to get a full-time job.

    Eric’s case is more difficult. He will have to actually write a letter to the site owner in which he fesses up to being deeply undesirable from a social POV,* and also explain that he is amazing in his field (published, maintains important intellectual property, mad skillz,** etc.) Most people on the site are fairly liberal, and there will be some harsh words, but this is also exactly the kind of problem the advice givers at Ask A Manager love to dig into, and its worth risking some Liberal Loudness in order to get some help with the actual problem. Unfortunately, some embarrassment is inevitable in attempting to handle Eric’s particular problem, which is essentially a matter of reputation management.

    * Most professional offices don’t want a ninja-level, heavily-armed martial artist who believes that Blacks are intellectually inferior to Whites, homosexual males are more likely to be child molesters, and Muslims are Bad, M’kay, etc. anywhere near their staffs or their reputations.

    ** In order to protect anonymity, all skills at Ask A Manager are “teapot making” skills. Eric would be something like a “senior-level teapot-architect who maintains multiple public-domain teapot-making resources, etc., etc.”

    • >Eric’s case is more difficult. He will have to actually write a letter to the site owner in which he fesses up to being deeply undesirable from a social POV,*

      Fuck that. I would sooner dig ditches or work as a fry cook than knuckle under to a system that judges job applicants by their politics. If we accede to that we are actually asking to live under totalitarianism.

      You undercut your “advice” with the hostile caricature, anyway. None of my political beliefs are that simple, because the reality I form them from isn’t.

  71. I know you’re political beliefs aren’t that simple. I know you’re much more likely to give your Black coworker a chance than some Liberals I know, and that you’re not going to shoot someone who didn’t physically attack you.

    But you should try to look at yourself from a hiring manager’s point of view. Or from the POV of a hypothetical Black/Muslim/Gay co-worker. What is the sensible thing to do from the standpoint of an organization looking at your blog? From the standpoint of safety/security/career issues for a Black coworker (particularly if they work under you and might depend on you for a reference or to not give them a career-killing job review?) Is it reasonable for people to be risk-averse when you fly so many red flags?

    I have social skills problems of my own and I’ve had to recognize/adapt to them. My work record has far more firings than I could discuss without major embarrassment, all but one of them generated by my mouth (which I finally learned to keep shut!) Thus I actually have considerable sympathy for your problem, (not to mention that “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” was a major inspiration for me.)

    So get over yourself. Take a hour or two to consider how you look from the other side of a business relationship. Then stop shooting yourself in the foot!

  72. Fuck that. I would sooner dig ditches or work as a fry cook than knuckle under to a system that judges job applicants by their politics. If we accede to that we are actually asking to live under totalitarianism.

    ObWinter: You seem surprised that work is a social activity.

    Freedom implies freedom of association, and no one wants to associate with, and thereby be seen as giving tacit approval of, people whose politics are routinely described as “batshit insane”. That is the exact phrase that invariably comes up whenever one of your blog posts appears on Hacker News.

    You’ve made your choices in life; you must now face the consequences of other people being free to make theirs.

  73. The ACA is not the reason why companies are converting full-timers to contractors; skyrocketing premiums are. That was well underway pre-ACA; the ACA just staved off the inevitable.

    Lesson one that they didn’t teach you in market-fundamentalist economics class: left unrestrained, markets tend toward collusion and cartel formation, not competition. To get something having properties resembling the magical “free market”, government needs to step in and regulate the shit out of the market.

    This is why single-payer universal health care has proven to be a boon everywhere it’s been tried, and why — despite the incompetence of the NHS — Brits still shudder at the thought of getting sick or injured in the USA.

    As long as Big Insurance and Big Medicine are the ones controlling prices, American health care is hosed. The ACA was a ha;fway solution that bought some time. That’s all.

    • >Lesson one that they didn’t teach you in market-fundamentalist economics class: left unrestrained, markets tend toward collusion and cartel formation, not competition.

      Still on the drugs, eh?

  74. The more I keep seeing…and I must add that I can completely see it from te point of a hiring manager who’s been cowed by the crybullies…the more I’m convinced that the answer is a tech company that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about political correctness.

  75. the more I’m convinced that the answer is a tech company that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about political correctness.

    Is that what TechCrunch is talking about when they say “unicorn”?

  76. Still on the drugs, eh?

    Foo Inc, Bar Inc, Baz Inc, and Quux Inc, are in the same market as, and think they’re competing with, BigCorp. Until one day the CEO of BigCorp, Mr. Big, calls the CEOs of Foo, Bar, Baz, and Quux, and says. I’ll strike a deal with you. We’ll divide up the market thus: BigCorp gets 60%, and the rest of you get 10% each. Sound fair?

    When Mr. Big gets a resounding “fuck you” from the other companies, he says “tell you what: Look at BigCorp’s market cap, and now look at yours. Here’s mine, back to yours. A lawsuit from us would really ruin your day, wouldn’t it, because we can afford to tie you up in litigation longer than you can remain solvent. How’s that deal looking now?” And watch how fast those four little CEOs capitulate.

    Still think I’m hallucinating? Steve Jobs used this exact strategy to skim off the cream of the Silicon Valley talent pool. Until the government stepped in.

    • >Still think I’m hallucinating?

      Yes, about “peak oil”, among other things. Your knowledge of economic history doesn’t even reach the “See Spot Run!” level.

      Now go research the half-life of monopolies in the U.S. You won’t believe me if I tell you.

      Then answer this question: What do all the actually long-lived monopolies have in common? Clue: Start by studying AT&T.

  77. “no one wants to associate with, and thereby be seen as giving tacit approval of, people whose politics are routinely described as “batshit insane”.”

    This is the entire false premise on which the tactics of the crybullies are founded. Associating with a co-worker does in no way imply any sort of approval of their politics. This used to be well understood; politics stopped at the office door.

  78. That raises a related question: why are tech and entrepreneurial centers always ultra-liberal?

    For the same reason all the good bands are affiliated with the left.

  79. > Lesson one that they didn’t teach you in market-fundamentalist economics class: left unrestrained, markets tend toward collusion and cartel formation, not competition.

    Only in areas with really high barriers to entry, either physical or regulatory. Medieval guilds were collusive, as were Depression-era industries when FDR enforced cartel systems upon most major industries. The mineral extraction sector, which relies on a relatively small number of possible production locations, tends towards oligopoly(though historically, not all that collusive of one at the corporate level, it was governments that launched OPEC), as does cable TV with extremely high infrastructure needs and logistical difficulties of getting 37 cables to everyone’s house. Fast food has never come anywhere close to collusion or oligopoly, and under no imaginable economic conditions will it ever. It’s too easy for new money to come in and break up the system.

    In other fields, even when someone gets a ton of market power and tries to impose a cartel, it’s usually not very effective. Look at the German bromine cartel of the late 19th century – all the big chemical companies had a cartel(backed by the German government) that fixed a price on bromine, but then Herbert Dow came up with a better extraction scheme, developed his company to a decent scale in a quiet corner of the market, and then smashed the cartel through free-market tactics, without any need for regulation or antitrust laws. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/09/dow-chemical-bromine-monopoly.asp is a good primer on it. Likewise, people always point to Standard Oil as a free-market monopoly, and it came closer than most, but its market share had fallen by a third from its peak before the antitrust laws were passed – it was still gargantuan, to be fair, but it was clearly on the downswing because his competitors were adopting his tactics(vertical integration, cost control, ensuring good quality, etc.), and he had no ability to stop them. Ditto Microsoft – the antitrust lawsuits were a hassle(and one that ended Microsoft’s run as one of the few big businesses that refused on principle to hire lobbyists), but what actually took them out of the mid-90% range was the fact that Steve Jobs was a genius who had finally come back home, and Linux got more mature and popular(not least due to the efforts of our esteemed host). Christ, even the ostensible purpose of the lawsuit, browser bundling, was a total non-issue by the time it resolved – who’s actually paid money for a browser in the last 20 years? Ohnoes, IE will steal market share from free Chrome downloads!

    There’s a few cases where regulation of this sort(and not just the usual “no force or fraud” stuff) is necessary – anything that requires running a physical connection to houses, anything that uses extremely finite resources like broadcast spectrum, and so on. But in most industries, it’s a waste of breath to worry about antitrust law.

  80. @Jeff Read

    Freedom implies freedom of association, and no one wants to associate with, and thereby be seen as giving tacit approval of, people whose politics are routinely described as “batshit insane”.

    How about freedom not to work with blacks, gays, etc? At least put in a tiny effort to remain consistent.

  81. Eric, sorry to hear about your current financial hiccup.

    It is disappointing that if you struggle with making writing open source independently a lifetime career without corporate sponsorship (Linus) or starting your own religion (rms) what it would mean for others hoping to do the same.

    I am not convinced that libertarian tech folks like Peter Thiel are likely to be open source proponents. Thiel’s Palantir is the worst sort of closed source designed for data lock in. There have been many folks attempting to develop open source alternative (or at least GOTS alternatives) but data goes in but never comes out. And well…paypal…

    I’m not a Shuttleworth fanboi but comparing the two I think I know which I prefer. This is a few years old and you don’t always debate what you believe but the contrast between the two is interesting.

    http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/videos/view/210

  82. I’m curious, have you looked at getting a job in the Bitcoin industry? This is an industry I work in where there are multiple companies I know funding developers to work full time on open source Bitcoin/security related infrastructure projects. Many developers I know are entirely remote as well and often are given nearly complete freedom in what they want to work on as long as it’s generally beneficial to the industry as a whole. There are also a lot of libertarian leaning people in the industry. If you think you might be interested I can can message some of my industry contacts who are hiring(working as a contractor is also possible).

    • > If you think you might be interested I can can message some of my industry contacts who are hiring(working as a contractor is also possible).

      It seems worth investigating.

  83. @ Jay Maynard

    …I can completely see it from te point of a hiring manager who’s been cowed by the crybullies…

    More than that, consider the following:

    WEEK ONE: Eric’s new Black coworker says, “What did you do this weekend?”

    Eric replies “I had a Saturday intensive at the dojo, we spent eight hours working on advanced techniques.” The new Black coworker thinks this is cool and he and Eric spend a few minutes talking about martial arts.
    .

    WEEK TWO: “What did you do this weekend?”

    Eric replies “I went shooting with some friends. I brought GreatBigGun and OtherGreatBigGun and we fired off a couple thousand rounds.” New Black coworker thinks this is kinda cool and he and Eric spend a few minutes talking about guns.
    .

    WEEK THREE: New Black Coworker decides that Eric is probably pretty cool. He looks at Eric’s blog. He sees the posts about how Black IQs are ten percent lower than white IQs. He sees the usual rightwing stuff about Black-on-Black crime and Black criminal rates. He sees that Eric tolerates some very, very racist people on his blog. Eric no longer seems cool. Work is no longer a happy place for new Black coworker. Depending on new Black coworker’s experience with racism, work could now be a very horrible and frightening place.

    So new Black coworker needs to make a decision, with the very Black understanding that one individual racist can completely ruin a Black person’s life. On one hand, Eric does seem willing to treat an individual as separate from any statistics he quotes. On the other hand, there are rewards for a cautious life… and Eric has guns and knows martial arts, fitting the common profile of a Very Scary White Dude!

    If the new Black coworker reports directly to Eric he may simply find another job, preferably before performance reviews are due, taking with him X years of institutional knowledge – and that’s the best case scenario! If he does not report to Eric he might have other options, like discussing Eric with his boss, or making an EEOC complaint, or simply launching a lawsuit. New Black oworker will probably discuss Eric with other minority coworkers, possibly pointing out Eric’s posts about Gays and child molestation, Muslims, etc.

    If I’m a hiring manager I need to ask myself if I’m willing to risk this, not because I’m cowardly, but for very practical reasons having to do with my workplace being disrupted or my business getting sued.

  84. Eric is there a way for us to help get your NTPv5 development on the CII grant list? Is NTPSec essentially complete and that why funding ended?

    • >Eric is there a way for us to help get your NTPv5 development on the CII grant list?

      At this point, finding more institutional sponsors willing to join my Patreon feed would be more useful. I’ve already been through a round of CII funding politics, it didn’t end well, and that experience is making me increasingly disinclined to trust a funding stream intermediated by other people.

      If you have purchasing authority for software tools at your company, please add them as an institutional sponsor to my Patreon feed now. That would be much more helpful than elaborate plans with a low chance of success.

      That goes for the rest of you, too.

  85. esr:

    My lack of anything resembling Trixi’s visual assets.

    But we had established that your target audience would not be the same as hers (though they might overlap). Anyway, I thought your videos would be screencasts with your voice over them; if so, no such “visual assets” would be necessary.

    For the record, there’s nothing wrong with your appearance. If anything, you resemble award-winning actor Dennis Franz.

    • >For the record, there’s nothing wrong with your appearance. If anything,

      Sometimes you take me way too seriously and miss the fact that I’m making a joke.

  86. >If anything, you resemble award-winning actor Dennis Franz.

    Eric you are the Sipowicz of open source.

  87. Darrencardinal, I’ve long thought of him as the Ron Swanson of open source (and would indeed nominate Nick Offerman to be on the shortlist to play him in a putative biopic).

  88. All the major CDNs (Each) should pay you $100,000 for your efforts on this.

    How much do DDOS attacks cost in terms of having infrastructure to maintain?

    But alas, this is a free market, where people are paid by the value of their input, not by the value of their output.

  89. Another alternative that will require considerably more pride-swallowing but be perhaps more lucrative: Buy yourself a Macintosh, develop a great utility for it, and sell it.

    Yes, sell software. For money. No source included. All rights reserved, you may not reverse-engineer, disassemble, or decompile, blah blah blah.

    Alternatively develop a cloud-based turnkey solution for something businesses (or network engineers!) need and sell that.

    I see more and more open-source hackers in dire financial straits — the guy behind GNU Octave is now rattling his tin cup –meanwhile, proprietary software guys are still buying yachts and entire Pacific islands. And they don’t have to explain to their wives where their retirement money will come from. Maybe, after some 20 years, the time has come to realize that the economics of open source don’t work except to set fire to value in the software industry.

    • >Maybe, after some 20 years, the time has come to realize that the economics of open source don’t work except to set fire to value in the software industry.

      Oh, bullshit. To cite just one relevant example, NTP weould never happen in the for-profit industry. No way to monetize it. And yet. it’s absolutely foundational to have accurately synchronized time.

    • >Yes, sell software. For money.

      Savor the irony. The left-winger urges selfishness; the libertarian insists on doing what is best for civilization as a whole even though it costs him hardship.

      The full subtlety of this lesson will, of course, be lost on the left-winger, because like all left-wingers) he is necessarily a moral imbecile not even capable of understanding the actual consequences of his own premises, let alone the libertarian’s.

  90. NTP weould never happen in the for-profit industry. No way to monetize it.

    Is there a fundamental reason why not? I’m thinking along the pattern of weather APIs, if somebody wanted to offer a for-profit time service, they’d set up a server and sell access. You pay me X dollars, and you get a key valid for N requests. If I can guarantee better accuracy than my competitors, I may be able to charge a higher price.

  91. If I can guarantee better accuracy than my competitors, I may be able to charge a higher price.

    Because no one cares. All my devices are synced better than a second By Magic. Anyone who needs more accurate timing isn’t getting it over the Internet, they’re buying a GPS device and using that signal directly.

  92. All my devices are synced better than a second By Magic.

    Right, and who sells the device OS manufacturer the Magic? The end user sees his weather app work by Magic too, but under the hood there’s a network service that is being paid for.

    Anyone who needs more accurate timing isn’t getting it over the Internet, they’re buying a GPS device and using that signal directly.

    That’s the free market- if I can invent a way to get you more precise time over the internet, then I can offer you an alternative to buying and maintaining your own. Even if I can’t invent a more precise system and expand the market, maybe I can earn a reputation for high availability and good customer service. Or come up with a cheaper setup and just undercut my competitors.

    I see no reason why time service couldn’t happen as a commercial venture in the for-profit industry.

  93. > Anyone who needs more accurate timing isn’t getting it over the Internet, they’re buying a GPS device and using that signal directly.

    And who paid for those satellites?

  94. I’m not sure whether this needs to be said, but the idea that Eric is having trouble raising money because of his public politics is a plausible hypothesis, not a proven thing. So far as I know, there are no test cases of people with left-wing politics or no public politics trying to raise money to work on internet infrastructure.

    • >the idea that Eric is having trouble raising money because of his public politics is a plausible hypothesis, not a proven thing.

      If it’s true, you couldn’t prove it my my Patreon performance. $1,850 is not enough to cover my living expenses, but it’s not far below the top tier of Patreon earners.

  95. @d5xtgr
    “I see no reason why time service couldn’t happen as a commercial venture in the for-profit industry.”

    It is an infrastructure thing. And a global infrastructure at that. Commercial ventures successfully delivering global infrastructure, there are not that many of that.

    I can see companies being paid by governments to run time services, but a competitive market in global time services, how would that look?

  96. esr:

    Sometimes you take me way too seriously and miss the fact that I’m making a joke.

    Sorry, but how was I to expect a joke from you in a thread where you’d informed us of the crisis you’re going through? Especially since you didn’t use emoticons, which would have signaled a lighthearted intent.

    Anyway. it makes sense for you to seek comic relief. I hope these judo-related jokes help. :-)

    …the left-winger … is necessarily a moral imbecile…

    No offense, but… your “bloodmouth carnist” T-shirt was a display of both moral imbecility and bad taste. Worse yet, you did that in the just-to-piss-’em-off spirit, after a particular vegetarian made some silly remarks. As the people at LessWrong would say, “reversed stupidity is not intelligence”.

    I’m saying this because I like both you and Jeff, for both of you have been nice to me. So the next time you feel like disparaging him, please remember this passage from Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved”: “The road of life is rocky and you may stumble too; so while you point your finger, someone else is judging you.” ;-)

    • >“The road of life is rocky and you may stumble too; so while you point your finger, someone else is judging you.”

      Yes, but that fails to concern me. Judgment is necessary.

      For evil to triumph it suffices that good men do nothing. For evil ideas like totalitarian collectivism to triumph, it suffices for nobody to point out that left politics is morally imbecilic and leads to mass death whenever it is seriously applied.

      When I eat an animal, it is not a sophont that suffers. (This is why I’m careful about possible borderline cases like dolphins, elephants, and cephalopods.) Jeff’s politics, on the other hand, are a royal road to the worst evils in human history, sophont suffering and death on a scale that would have been unimaginable before Marxism reached its full, hideous, and inevitable flowering.

      Don’t try to tell me these things are equivalent.

  97. If it’s true, you couldn’t prove it my my Patreon performance. $1,850 is not enough to cover my living expenses, but it’s not far below the top tier of Patreon earners.

    But isn’t this still a failure of the open source business model vs closed source business model at the individual level? There are certainly more than a couple independent software developers making a good living via closed source app sales.

    The guys and gals that do independent research and development (the Vint Cerfs, Dave Clarks, and David Mills of the world) paid their dues in the corporate, academia and government world and now have corporate/governmental/academic patronage which does require social acceptability and the ability to manage a “funding stream intermediated by other people”.

    Otherwise you need to earn your FU money by being part of a startup and selling at the right time.

    As an aside, the lowest of the top 10 patreon AvE takes in $9,699/month. There is a big monetary jump between the $1000-$3000 set of creators and the $3K+ set of creators.

    While you are in the top 10% you need to reach the top 2-3% to hit your $3K+ goal.

    https://graphtreon.com/patreon-stats

    To cite just one relevant example, NTP weould never happen in the for-profit industry. No way to monetize it. And yet. it’s absolutely foundational to have accurately synchronized time.

    If NTP didn’t exist we’d be using some descendent of DTSS from DEC or DARPA/NIST/DoD would have created NTP via some (for profit) government contractor like BBN. Moreover, Mills was working for Linkabit in 1985 when the NTP RFC was published before he became a professor at Delaware. I’m going to guess via DARPA funding because that’s sort of their gig.

    • >But isn’t this still a failure of the open source business model vs closed source business model at the individual level

      It would be, if I’d ever actually been interested in making money by writing software before. But I’m just not very interested in money. I never charged for my conference talks. Maybe I should have paid more attention to how to monetize own source individually before, but I’m effectively at the beginning of a learning process about that.

  98. @random832

    And who paid for those satellites?

    The men and women who helped make the United States a superpower through military, technological and economic strength.

    Why do you ask?

  99. So far as I know, there are no test cases of people with left-wing politics or no public politics trying to raise money to work on internet infrastructure.

    I would guess that the majority of the FOSS world leans more to the left than right.

    Left or right the ability to raise money requires the ability to not piss off so many people that you cease to have a viable base to raise enough money from to do what you need.

  100. esr:

    Sorry for the delay. I wasn’t sure of how to respond, and have been having connectivity problems to boot.

    I wanted to promote understanding between you and Jeff Read, but it looks as though I achieved the opposite: I caused you to double down. For that, I feel ashamed. So let me try a different approach…

    When you’re trying to win people over to a cause, insulting them is counterproductive. You’re making the same mistake as the vegetarian who said “Your stomach is a graveyard” or something like that (which led to your T-shirt).

    Also, bear in mind that Jeff was trying to help you. That’s what this thread is all about. Even if it’s true that his moderate leftism necessarily leads to extreme leftism (and I’m not sure about that), the fact remains that he’s quite capable of decent acts. He’s shown concern for me and this time he showed concern for you. (And I also remember comments by him that were either interesting or funny, so his virtual company is definitely pleasant.)

    Finally, I apologize to both of you if, as I fear, I’m worsening the situation instead of improving it. If that turns out to be the case, I guess I’ll have to shamefully leave this community (but not without thanking you all for the good times, of course).

    • >Also, bear in mind that Jeff was trying to help you.

      I didn’t hear “help”, I heard the same kind of long-term trolling Jeff has been doing for years on this blog. Urging me to fix my life by abandoning the most important work I can do unfinished is not “help”, it is provocation

  101. > The piecework has probably decreased in volume as legal clients trim expenses, but the larger factor is the number of ronin, cut loose by the ACA, competing for it. This drives down piecework rates.

    Shouldn’t that be exactly matched by an increase as the firms that formerly employed more full-time workers switch to a piecework model? Like, the work doesn’t actually go away – unless, as is obviously the case, it does, for which you’ve still made no argument implicating the ACA as the cause.

    • >Like, the work doesn’t actually go away – unless, as is obviously the case, it does, for which you’ve still made no argument implicating the ACA as the cause.

      Actually, the push to jettison employees and re-engage them as pieceworkers implicates the ACA in regardless of what direction volume is trending. To see that, you only have to track the change in overhead per employee per time – and notice that the push to disemployment tracks ACA-induced costs in multiple job categories regardless of whether business volume is falling (law) or rising (higher education).

      If we need a reason to believe the data says what it says and isn’t just a pseudocorrelation, the fact that this is exactly what the microeconomics of deadweight losses due to taxation predicts happening will do.

  102. > Actually, the push to jettison employees and re-engage them as pieceworkers implicates the ACA in regardless of what direction volume is trending.

    Huh? There’s no reason to think that both are caused by the same thing, and therefore that one of them being caused by the ACA implicates it for the other.

    • >Huh? There’s no reason to think that both are caused by the same thing

      There certainly is if you’re paying any attention to what employers are actually saying about their reasons.

      Really, when the empirical data match what the microeconomics of a rise in employment overhead predicts, and the decision makers are giving the same explanation when you poke them, what more needs to be said?

  103. > Really, when the empirical data match what the microeconomics of a rise in employment overhead predicts,

    But how does a rise in employment overhead predict a drop in work to be done and therefore a drop in the availability of freelance work? It really does seem like you’re conflating two completely separate phenomena, which can be shown to be separate by the fact that they’re not affecting all industries equally.

    Also you haven’t said anything until now about this being something employers are saying *regarding having less work to hire people to do, even on a non-full-time basis*.

    • >But how does a rise in employment overhead predict a drop in work to be done and therefore a drop in the availability of freelance work?

      It’s you who are conflating things. I have never asserted that a rise in employment overhead predicts a drop in work to be done. What it predicts is than more employees will be shoved over the side to become contract workers with no benefits, regardless of work volume.

      There is a weak second-order coupling in the other direction, from work volume to willingness to keep full-time employees, because an employer’s willingness to pay the overhead may be driven by a desire to reserve talent – have it instantly on call.

  104. …it is provocation

    If you say so… but I’m not convinced.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking that you and your wife are black belts (in taekwondo, if I’m not mistaken). Is there no way to monetize that?

    • >Anyway, I’ve been thinking that you and your wife are black belts (in taekwondo, if I’m not mistaken). Is there no way to monetize that?

      Not really, short of opening a school.

  105. > It’s you who are conflating things. I have never asserted that a rise in employment overhead predicts a drop in work to be done.

    I feel like you could have said that way back when I said “And you certainly haven’t provided any explanation linking the ACA to why the piecework itself dried up.”, though I can’t really see any other meaning of “law seems to have been hit harder by the ACA employer mandate than any other professional field except higher education. ”

    Sorry for the confusion though.

    • >”law seems to have been hit harder by the ACA employer mandate than any other professional field except higher education.”

      That remains true. I guess you interpreted something I wrote as an attempt to explain it, but I don’t have an explanation. It’s also possible that fields I don’t happen to have a view into have been hit just as hard as law and education.

      There’s good reason to believe taxation-induced losses depress business volume (and thus paid work) everywhere – that much of Trump’s economic agenda is as sound as the protectionism is addlepated – but the pattern of how badly that affects different industries doesn’t have any neat explanation I know of.

  106. Coming back one more time, because I’ve read two comments here about the Bitcoin ecosystem since I left, I’ve made some progress since, and I think I am probably qualified to talk about what if any work in the Bitcoin and altcoin ecosystem is fundamental enough to warrant ESR’s attention.

    > Have you thought about blogging at steemit.com?

    I earned up to $2000 per blog, but the opportunity to do so was only during July 2016 when the price had pumped up to $4. Jeff Berwick earned $10,000+ on his first blog and some sexbomb earned $20,000+ for an amateur video about makeup. Some of those who blogged in the couple of months before the price rise ended up grossing $100,000+.

    We were only able to cash out 50% of what we earned, because of the original 1 year average weighted delay for earned tokens to become free trading.

    There is no more value in blogging on Steem and the price is continuing to decline. IMO, the model is incorrect and the system is controlled by whales.

    Bitcoin and all the altcoin designs to date lack long-term decentralization (and Bitcoin is currently undergoing the “scalepocalypse” that I predicted a years ago). It is a fact of nature that resources become power-law or exponentially distributed. This is a fundamental problem which so far inhibits maintaining decentralization of control over consensus protocols. Decentralized paradigms have the property of not being fungibly aggregated (i.e. lacking economies-of-scale), e.g. sex (although this can even be argued to be top-down controlled via religion, mass-media, culture, etc).

    I am working on this fundamental problem. I don’t expect a panacea. TCP/IP isn’t a panacea. We strive for paradigms which serve some real world purpose. I am working on a new statically typed language which will transpile to JavaScript (initially bootstrapped via transpiling to TypeScript) and which is focused on solving concurrency soundness without the total order tsuris of Rust’s IMO incorrect borrowing model, as well adding lucid code aspects that aren’t in JavaScript such as “everything as an expression”, Python indenting instead of brace-delimited, integer types, etc.. All still very early stage and I had disseminated Tuberculosis (and concomitant delirium) for the past several years and didn’t get the diagnosis until January 2017 so all my plans are all very speculative at this point. A community of investor support is forming but the open source aspect has not yet begun in earnest (except for some Issues discussion interaction with @keean on Github).

  107. I think part of the problem is most people don’t even know what you actually do Eric. Everyone already knows Linus does the kernel of Linux, and understands why that is important.
    So you say you have all these important open source projects you maintain, but you need to list each one and explain why this is actually important in a non-technical manner.
    You are more famous for your anthropology of open source hacker culture, but I don’t think people see that as important in the same way the Linux Kernel is important.

  108. 1,392 USD = 5568 PLN (Polish zlotys). I earn 3600 PLN and I consider myself solid middle class. The food for 4 people family is in range of 1200-1600, phones+internet+electricity+water is something like 200-400, the rent is IIRC something like 700 for 74m2 flat. Add the costs of commuting, occassioanl unplanned costs, All in all one can lead quite a comfortable middle class life for 3000-4000 per month.

    Eric, move to Poland or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. You will be rich.

  109. GET A JOB YOU LAZY CROSS EYED FUCK

    IF YOUR SHIT ASS NTP CODE WERE SO FUCKING IMPORTANT, YOU COULD HOLD THE INTERNET HOSTAGE TO PAY FOR YOUR MORTGAGE, FIREARMS ADDICTION AND HOT POCKETS. IF YOU CAN’T GET A JOB, IT’S PROBABLY NO ONE WANTS TO WORK WITH YOUR ELITIST ASS, RACIST MOTHER FUCKIN, TOM FUCKERY PERSONALITY.

    QUIT BLAMING OBAMA FOR ALL OF YOUR FAILURES WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, YA FUCKIN NERD.

    Sincerely,
    Richard “Dick” Stallman

    PS
    FREE SOFTWARE 4 LYFE

    • >GET A JOB YOU LAZY CROSS EYED FUCK

      A lesser man than I would have left this to die in the spam queue.

      Me, I think it’s actually rather funny. With a large part of the joke being at the expense of people dimwitted enough to think the implied caricature of me is accurate. Maybe it was even intended that way.

  110. I assumed it was intended, yes. As well as funny. “4 LYFE” was a nice touch. I wonder who’s sockpuppeting him…

    P.S.: Still looking forward to that mission statement on ICEI.org…

  111. Replying to: “…There is no more value in blogging on Steem and the price is continuing to decline. IMO, the model is incorrect and the system is controlled by whales…”

    Maybe you’re right, but the steem price has quadrupled in the last couple months, and there has now been plenty of time for anyone to liquidate everything they’ve earned. Blogs are paying decent rewards again (not stratospheric like last July, but better than winter, and moving in the right direction). Also, the changing influence curve in the next hard-fork is expected to downsize the overweight whales.

    Who knows the future? Not me. It’s certainly speculative, but it is supplemental income. And of course,for someone with esr’s coding skills, there’s also the possibility for passive income from bot voting.

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