243: TZ Discussion – The Impossibility Engine

Justin and Jason discuss the emergency emails that Justin received from Digedu while on vacation and why he selected Sifter as a project management tool, how Uber and Digedu use Git, Git rebase vs Git merge and general GitHub bureaucracy, how Digedu makes use of NodeJS and how Uber leverages the NodeJS profiler that Jason and Guyon created, the rising importance of system administration expertise, Jason’s idea of teaching the Catalyst kids basic command line skills and why it may make sense to abandon the Catalyst IDE, the incredible rise in the Telsa stock price and the Tesla autopilot project, the self-driving car intersection simulation, the simulation software that shows Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is likely to workhow Alien bugs were discovered in the Earth’s atmosphere, the hell that is the iOS developer center, the idea of segmenting AnyFu between premier and standard level experts and the possibility of bringing on a business / marketing partner, the segment on This American Life that mentions Jason’s high school, how to increase your luck surface area by writing about increasing your luck surface area, how the CIA has been arming and training rebels since late 2012the Pentagon’s desire to get in on the actionsAIPAC’s push for war and why the US ultimately backed down, Jason’s @ tweet to his congressional representative, the famo.us Javascript rendering framework and how China brainwashed American POWs using a classic sales technique.

  1. Jason says:

    @all – When making the show notes I noticed that during the whole Git discussion I repeatedly called a PR, or “pull request”, a “PR request”. That obviously makes no sense and I have no idea why I kept saying that. (sigh)

  2. I enjoyed the show, and especially the peak inside git use and the git bureaucracy.

    Perhaps you guys could do a whole segment on software best practices? Something like the Joel Test circa 2013. (Apologies if you’ve covered it. It’s quite an archive.)

    Thanks again for the plug!

  3. Marc B says:

    @Jason I was going to send you this regarding PR Requests: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAS_syndrome
    I just love the name.

    I think opening anyfu to other people is a great idea, I’ve been working with iOS since the SDK came out but I don’t have any books, and very little open source code. I’d join as a standard iOS expert for sure.

    And if you need any help let me know Jason, I’d love to be “your iOS guy” 🙂

  4. Jason says:

    @Marc B – That is a great name, and man, did I ever get a case of it with “pull request request”. Yikes! 😉

    Awesome, we will definitely be in touch about you being an iOS expert for us.

  5. Rdbhost says:

    As far as clarity goes, ‘Pull Request’ is better than ‘PR Request’, but in turn, ‘PR Request’ is better than ‘PR’. If someone knows what ‘PR’ means, they will quite easily ignore the redundancy, and if someone doesn’t know the acronym, at least they get that ‘PR Request’ is some kind of request.

    Keep pushing on the high-skill spot-market idea. I was dissapointed to find that anyfu does not include any PostgreSQL experts, as I could easily find myself in the market for one.

    Enjoying the show
    David Keeney

  6. Rdbhost says:


    When are you going to have another guest show? I enjoy all the shows, but the most memorable are guest shows.

    Some of your anyfu experts are candidates; having them guest on the show would promote them and anyfu at once.

  7. Jason says:

    @Rdbhost – Yeah, I would love to get a PostgreSQL expert on AnyFu! I know it’s one category we’ve worked on, but nothing has panned out yet.

    We haven’t done a guest show in a while simply because of a general lack of time. I wouldn’t mind doing one, but it would have to be someone I’m really interested in interviewing. Anyway, I’ll see if I can get myself motivated. 😉

  8. Many thanks for mentioning my training course for bootstrappers on the show.

    Ps/ I’m glad I’m not the only one who has never got on with vi.

  9. rouli says:

    re: syria
    (I think that if the show can dedicate five minutes to politics, I can spend 400 characters on the topic – I promise not to answer any reply to this comment)

    Israel doesn’t want the Syrian regime toppled. They (we :)) are better off with the current situation – both sides bleeding each other. Furthermore, if Israel had to choose a “winner” in this war, I think Assad would be preferred – (a) known evil (b) better off with a rational mostly secular regime than irrational Islamist regime.

    off off topic, I must ask what was so wrong with US intervention in Libya (I’ll admit to not knowing a lot about that front)?

  10. Jason says:

    @rouli – Just to be clear, when I made the claim that “Israel wants regime change”, I was merely referring to the Israeli government’s expressed foreign policy and not the desire of the Israeli citizenship.

    But at least in regards to what Netanyahu and his crew want, we have this Reuters’ article from Sep 17th:

    * In public shift, Israel calls for Assad’s fall

    which opens with:

    “Israel wants to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toppled, its ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday, in a shift from its non-committal public stance on its neighbor’s civil war.”

    In regards to what the Israeli people want, a recent article in the Jerusalem Post reports that:

    “… a Gal Hadash poll published in Israel Hayom found that 66.6 percent of respondents would be in favor of American and European military intervention in Syria”.

    * Polls: Israelis want US, Europe to attack Syria, but against IDF intervention

    And while supporting “military intervention” doesn’t necessarily imply a desire for regime change, it’s rare that you would have one without the other as the goal.

    Then, of course, there’s AIPAC, the all-powerful Israeli lobby, which while not explicitly calling for Assad’s head, did everything it could to push for an attack:

    * AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action

    * Backers Of Israel Press For Strikes On Syria

    The explanation for why a call for regime change was not specifically stated is pretty well described in this Politico article:

    “The word “Israel” appears nowhere in the text of the statement, underscoring by omission the worry pro-Israel groups in the United States have about framing retaliatory strikes in a way that makes it look like Israel is pushing for an attack on Syria for its own interests.”

    * AIPAC calls for Congress to authorize Syria action

    I’ll respond to the Libya question in a follow-up comment because I have to at least “attempt” to get some work done. 😉

    But thanks so much for the comment and the question. It’s always nice to have the opportunity to clarify my thoughts and statements, not to mention to double-check my facts. 😉

  11. Nicholas Murray says:

    Hi Justin and Jason, was listening to the HNPod podcast back catalogue today and came across this review of your podcast, I don’t think you ever mentioned it on the show.

    The host Michael Mahemoff and his guest Dan DeFelippi had some good things to say, the recommendations section starts at 35:32.

    I would recommend this podcast to any other tech zingers that need a podcast fix in between listening to tech zing episodes of course!

  12. Jason says:

    @Nicholas Murray – Cool! I did listen to a handful of episodes, but I never knew that they mentioned us. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  13. I’d definitely be interested if you opened up anyfu a bit. I’m not a published expert, but feel I could really help people in some niches.

    I recently signed up on wizpert, but I dismissed it as soon as I realised I had to offer do some free consultations in order to prove my reputation and get reviews, before I could take paid jobs. Screw that, my experience, open source contributions and (upcoming) conference talks prove that in my eyes.

  14. There are a couple sites that offer top developers for hire.


    I’d be curious to hear what your take is on those vs. what you might do with anyfu. Sounds like you are going for shorter term, just-in-time type of stuff vs. longer term freelance projects?

  15. Jason says:

    @Dave Marshall – That’s great to hear that you’d be interested. If we can find a partner to help us market and grow AnyFu then I think we’ll definitely push hard in that direction.

  16. Jason says:

    @John Polacek – AnyFu is aimed at short-term consulting – in the one-hour range, TopTal is geared towards project / contract work and 10xManagement is an employment-focused talent agency for programmers. So, from my perspective there doesn’t appear to be much overlap between the three.

  17. Nick says:

    I think opening up AnyFu is an excellent idea! I think Justin hit the nail on the head by saying that the top experts like Mike Hartl aren’t going to want to jump into someone’s Rails code and complete a small task. Being a bootstrapper that hasn’t been developing that long, I know that I absolutely could use a service that would provide access to experts willing to jump in and help out. It would almost be like TaskRabbit but for tech. Definitely having the two tiers of experts is something out there that is missing in the market. I think the vetting process would be key to make it clear to customers that these are people that could hit the ground running. I’m with you guys, there is just no easy way out there of getting short term excellent help… it’s really frustrating.

    Best of luck, keep at it!


  18. Andrew says:

    I’ve heard good things about gitlab for project management/issue tracking.

  19. In terms of making the maximum impact possible for your effort, I’d say in addition to tweeting your representative, you could also provide as much positive support/reinforcement for the journalist who asked kerry what could possibly get the US to call off the strike.

    Questions like that obviously aren’t even being considered seriously since kerry’s answer to the question turned out to be a viable option which had previously not been explored.

    We need more journalists like that.

    (also… I still haven’t been able to find a more specific reference to that journalist than “a journalist asked…”)

  20. Jason says:

    @James Robert – That’s a great idea. I haven’t had time to research who that journalist might be, but please let me know if you ever find out.

    In regards to the obsequiousness of mainstream journalism when it comes to US foreign policy, this article by Glenn Greenwald pretty much nails it:

    * New study documents media’s servitude to government

    This is also pretty interesting:

    * Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media

  21. Jason says:

    @Nick – Good points! Thanks so much for the feedback.

  22. Alfie says:

    I think Goebbels would have admired what the US government has achieved. They’ve made journalists scared to ask the hard questions, and so now it’s just landscape of Yellow Journalism. See step 8 of:


  23. Jason says:

    @Alfie – Unfortunately, I would have to agree with you.

  24. rouli says:

    Jason, you might be interested in this Scientific American podcast episode
    it’s an interview with a Canadian math doctor who started tutoring kids and, I think, he has several interesting observations.

  25. Jason says:

    @rouli – Cool, thanks! I’ll check it out.

    Tonight is the first session of Catalyst for the new school year, so wish us luck! 😉

  26. Jason says:

    @rouli – That was really interesting and inspiring.

  27. With the headlines about Tesla today, my first thought was: next Techzing will be about Jason buying more shares 😉 (or both of you?)

  28. Jason says:

    @Stanisław Pitucha – Maybe if I had some spare cash. 😉

  29. dave says:

    Jason, isn’t this the story you were telling about a while ago about one of your uncle or something?


    Really horrifying!

  30. Andrea says:

    @dave, Thanks for finding that article. I was looking forward to the story.

  31. Jason says:

    @dave – Yep, that’s my brother Jay’s article. Jay is my my half-brother from my dad’s first family and is 11 years older than me.

    His article rung the bell on HN last night and stayed at #1 for a good number of hours, which was pretty cool.

    For anyone who’s interested, here’s a link to an interview we did with Jay a while back:


  32. Martin Baker says:

    Best Justin-ism

    Best Jason-ism
    “at tweet”