146: TZ Discussion – The Truth About Oil, Twitter, Riots and Smiley Faces :)

Justin and Jason discuss the movie Forks over Knives, how a Twitter-based hedge fund beat the stock market, the cause of riots and the price of food, our oil-constrained future, the Japanese wind power breakthrough, the surprising truth about what motivates us, Puggio’s new three-ways business plan, why Jason is translating Appignite to Javascript, Steve Jobs and the eureka myth, lab grown meat, why the UK startup scene is doomed, rational home buying, Paul Graham’s patent pledgeBid On My Day, when it’s better to increase conversions and when it’s time to hire a sales teamhow John McAfee lost 96% of his wealth, going mobile first, the idea of investment tithing and how enthusiasm goes a long way over email.

  1. joe moletto says:

    Big fan of the show.

    First time poster.

    The knife over forks bit was fascinating.

    I’ll just leave this here.


  2. Justin – don’t buy a vineyard in Napa – it’s way too expensive! Move to Paso Robles instead. It’s closer to the beach and a lot cheaper. And there are around 125 vineyards in Paso Robles.

  3. Justin says:

    @Rob – You always manage to make me laugh out loud with your comments! 😉

    @Joe – Thanks very much. As with all debates there are always multiple viewpoints. At the moment I’m in the optimistic phase and that may well change over time. However, so far, juicing and eating vegetables is making a difference for me and has brought my blood sugar levels weight waaaay down. As always I’m open to being persuaded either way – but for the moment I’m liking the results… Great find though. I just hope it doesn’t give Jason an excuse NOT to watch the movie 😉

  4. Might I point out that a rise in price affects quantity demanded, not demand. It’s a meaningful difference.

  5. Jason says:

    @Steve French – What I was referring to specifically was the economic term “demand destruction” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_destruction.

  6. Robin says:

    I have only listened to the fork over knives discussion so far.
    In a previous decade of my life I competed in natural (no drugs) bodybuilding competitions and then went on to power lifting.
    Like Jason I followed the mantra of protein to build muscle etc etc and I followed a diet of six meals a day with at least 30grams of protein in each meal, to be honest I thought I felt OK at the time I had aches and pains in my joints but I put that down to training heavy.
    I then decided to become a vegetarian (I toyed with vegan-ism but it was too inconvenient), I noticed no difference in muscle gain or strength but I did feel better and all my previous aches and pains went within a few months.
    As far as I am aware as long as you take a good multivitamin you shouldn’t need to eat meat for health reasons and that is because our soils are depleted and lacking in mineral content.

  7. Great episode.

    Went home and watched ‘Forks over Knives’, I have been hearing this stuff for years but it finally hit me while watching it. Being an ex-football player in high school and a lifter/runner in college, I have always sworn by eating atleast 1g of Protein per pound of bodyweight so it’s a very very different kind of diet to eat vegetarian. Been vegetarian for a whole 1 day now – I’m not planning on any kind of permanent shift but I do want to test the waters to see how it would be (to see if I get beef n cheese burrito withdrawal). So far so good, surprisingly not as inexpensive as one would think.

    Also, the twitter fund is interesting. I looked around and found this article about it on Quant.ly
    This guy in this article tears up the idea, and it seems pretty accurate so if you’re interested I would give it a read, Seven Reasons Why That Twitter Prediction Model is Cooked

    @Rob, Paso Robles looks awesome! Thanks for the great tip. Seems seriously under-priced.

    Thanks again guys for a great show!


  8. Jason,

    If you can get Notepad++ (window’s app) running on your Mac setting up PHP debugging only takes a few minutes:

    1) Install the XDebug extension – http://xdebug.org/docs/install

    2) Set the xdebug options in your php.ini file (with the two path changes made) and restart Apache

    xdebug.profiler_enable = off
    xdebug.profiler_enable_trigger = on
    xdebug.profiler_output_name = cachegrind.out.%t.%p
    xdebug.profiler_output_dir = “c:/wamp/tmp” <– change this path

    xdebug.remote_enable = on
    xdebug.remote_log="c:/wamp/tmp/xdebug/xdebug_remot.log" Plugin Manager dialog)

    4) Config DBGp (via Plugins -> DBBp -> Config) and add a remote server at using “xdebug” as the IDE KEY (or whatever value you choose for “xdebug.idekey” in php.ini). You can ignore the remote and local path options – just enter the path to your local code if you can.

    5) Install the Xdebug Chrome helper – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/eadndfjplgieldjbigjakmdgkmoaaaoc

    6) Config Xdebug Chrome helper via Tools -> Extentions -> XDebug helper -> Options link. You need to enter your local dev domain in the “Domains” list. The helper uses this list to know when to show its little bug icon in the url bar.

    To debug PHP you would then do the following:

    1) In Notepad++ choose Plugins -> DGBp -> Debugger

    2) Browse to where you want to set a breakpoint, put your cursor there and click on the red stop sign looking icon in the DGBp panel. Make sure the “Turn OFF” button is shown in the panel (bad UI).

    3) In Chrome browser go to your local site and you should see a black and white bug on the far right of your url. You can click on that bug to toggle between debug, profile and off. Toggle to the green bug (debug) and reload the page. You’ll break at the breakpoint.

    Note – you can also profile pages this way – it generates a file that webcachegrind can read:


  9. A little criticism for a change: I thought this episode had lost the balance of air-time between Jason and Justin, and that we kept on going from off-tech and off-startup topic to another – except for the part on AppIgnite and Pluggio which I always enjoy. So meh.

    An of course I have to take Justin’s bait about “attitude” from French businesses towards their customer. I think it really varies a lot based on the local culture within each region and is also improving with newer generations since they think more “globally”.

    The outake: “Sh** I forgot to press record” was priceless! 🙂

  10. Riyad Kalla says:

    @Justin, really glad to hear you are having good results from those movies. These movies always make me feel empowered with more information and I’ll figured out the best way to mix and match them into my life.

    It sounds like you are doing the same and reaping the rewards. Thumbs up for you man!

    @Jason, heard the plan to move generation to the client side and am am trying to thinks of ways to secure that.

    Typical approaches (HMAC, SSL, etc.) all require that you trust the client and the server and distrust anyone in the middle, in your use-case the only entity you can trust is the server.

    If I am an asshole, couldn’t I login to my AppIgnite account, sniff the AJAX traffic back and forth and then figure out your file format and generate a ‘file’ I submit via your AJAX call representing a PHP file that runs “rm -rf /” and then upload that?

    You can mitigate system-wide damage by making the PHP process run under a restricted user account, but my point just being that if you can’t trust me, and I can write PHP code that runs on *your* server and you are letting me upload that, isn’t there a recipe for disaster in there?

    If you have a way to secure this, let me know. I genuinely enjoy thinking through attack vectors. If you’d rather do it over email and not in public: rkalla-at-gmail-dot-com.

    I have a handful of reasons for voting against client-side generation (e.g. security risk, spiked browser process come to mind) but the reasons you gave in the podcast are certainly valid (linux administration requirements and beefier hardware setup, neither problems you want).

    If you are open to the idea of keeping the PHP gen and the server performance is the only issue, a quick tip, I don’t know what kind of VPS you are running, but a fast way to tell where your performance problems are coming from:

    1. Login to your VPS, type ‘top’ then hit ‘s’ and type ‘.5’ and hit enter (refreshes state every 1/2 a second).

    2. Run a complex regen process in AppIgnite

    3. In top, check the “%wa” value along with the free memory values. If free memory ever drops towards 0 or “%wa” goes above 0, you are swapping to disk and that is what is killing performance (by magnitudes). If you just stop that one scenario, you should be fine.

    I don’t know how you have Apache/nginx/PHP-FPM configured, but all of that could be a culprit… the fastest thing would be to upgrade to a VPS with enough memory to combat that issue (e.g. a 1.5GB Linode VPS for starters).

    So in-short, if you are swapping, upgrade your VPS to something beefier (not necessarily insane) and just see if suddenly gen times are back down to 1-3 seconds and then you can move on with your life.

    That being said, if what you like about client side gen is the intellectual excitement of conquering that problem (something I understand very well and think has value, even though it isn’t cool on HN to acknowledge that), then ignore everything I said and JavaScript the shit out of it 😉

  11. Riyad Kalla says:

    … continuing to listen to the episode and for anyone whose interest was piqued by the salary/motivator topic Jason brought up, the breakdown looks something like this:

    The two “currencies” you can increase/decrease to effect productivity are:
    1. Money
    2. Autonomy

    1. The more mundane a job is and less creativity it requires, the increase in performance has almost a *linear* relationship to the increase in compensation while an increase/decrease in autonomy seems to have no effect.

    2. The more intellectually taxing and creative a job is, an increase in money *beyond a certain point* begins to degrade performance while an increase in autonomy increases performance (conversely, a decrease in autonomy degrades performance).

    The key to money in #2 is to be paid enough that money is not an issue for you in meeting your lifestyle requirements, at that point, no more money will increase performance, only autonomy.

    Daniel Pink really blows this topic apart in his book “Drive”[1] for anyone that is interested. At the least it is an interesting book to learn more about yourself and what drives you and at the most it is very helpful if you manage a group of people to better understand what would motivate them.

    I would also recommend picking up “Willpower”[2] for anyone that likes this subject in general; it is a new book and discussed recently on HN; another great “what makes us all tick” type of book.

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Surprising-Truth-About-Motivates/dp/1594484805/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315681113&sr=8-1
    [2] http://www.amazon.com/Willpower-Rediscovering-Greatest-Human-Strength/dp/1594203075/ref=bxgy_cc_b_text_a

  12. William says:

    I’ve been vegetarian (lactovarian) for 19 years and have great cholesterol, etc. But, I have to say that I think that cholesterol levels are strongly influenced by genetics. For example, I have a friend who runs marathons and has a reasonable (meat based) diet who has high cholesterol–another friend was a vegan, exercised regularly, and still had high cholesterol. I think there are health benefits for being vegetarian (from what I recall, the longest lifespans are by lactovarians–vegans have somewhat shorter lifespans…I’m not sure how it goes for people who eat small amounts of meat…). One question I would like to have answered is how much of this is correlated with caloric intake? As for the need for animal protein–I think that the only thing you really have to worry about is B-12.

  13. Watched that movie “Forks over Knives” last night. While interesting I saw its presentation as being similar to anything by Morgan Spurlock or Michael Moore. Sure there are a lot of facts and probably correct facts, but they didn’t show the other side of the arguments other then to make them look bad by showing their association with vested interests.

    That said I agree with the fact that we should eat more plants and less meat in our daily diet. Not because of any evidence, but simply because that’s closer to what we would be eating as hunter gatherers.

    I think Jason said it best some time ago with his caveman theory. Whatever a caveman would do is probably what you should do.

  14. I didn’t want to use Paypal because as soon as I get promoted on a blog or such (I knew a blog with 500k subscribers who have been waiting to review us for example.) Paypal will lock us down. They are renowned for doing that. (http://zch.co/A4vU)

    It was premature optimisation but with valid reasons. 🙂

    But yes, there was probably ways I could work through it. But I also shouldn’t have to, was a lot of my point.

    I loved the podcast though 🙂 Got another subscriber here.

  15. Zach says:

    Been listening to this podcast for a while, first time posting a comment. Really enjoy the show.

    I haven’t watched “Forks over Knives” yet (on the to-do list now) but I would be *very* cautious about any conclusions drawn from the movie. It sounds like a movie that plays on emotions and attempts to gain credibility by over-abundance of seemingly true facts, when in reality they are shaky correlations dug out of big piles of data.

    For instance, the Nazi occupation of Norway example could be seriously flawed in a number of ways. Did the average life-span in Norway plummet during those years due to Nazi-related deaths? Or due to malnutrition? Cancer is generally a disease of the elderly, so if people are dieing due to hardship, murder or malnutrition all cancer rates are going to plummet.

    Was there a mass exodus from the country as people fled Nazi-occupation? Decreasing population would affect all disease rates.

    Did the number of doctors decrease during those years (sent off for the war effort, into hiding, etc)? Fewer doctors means more deaths. Similarly, was the healthcare system still running or properly funded? Were the census agencies responsible for recording deaths/diseases still funded/running/legitimate?

    My point is that anyone making a claim as broad as “meat is bad” is probably not telling the entire truth, or dancing around the details in a way to make their case look good.

    The mantra of statisticians, “correlation != causation” exists for a reason. Double-blind placebo trials exist for a reason. Given a large enough data set and few controls you can find correlations about *anything*.

    As proof, Google Correlate says that “meat” correlates heavily with “walmart phone”. I doubt there is a real relationship between those two terms.

  16. Alex Gemmell says:

    OMG JASON! I’m banging my head against a wall. Getting PHP debugging working is essential. I can’t believe a man of your intellect doesn’t do this already! Using print_r and echo and probably die and exit too right? Jeez.

    I know it’s been a pain in the past to get it working but it’s really very straight forward. Zend Studio is NOT Windows only (and hasn’t been for many years) because they basically switched to the Eclipse IDE – like Aptana I guess. I use Zend Studio on my Macbook Pro and at my current contract on an iMac. It’s as smooth as silk. The Zend debugger is merely a PHP extension you add in your PHP INI and 2 or 3 lines of extension settings. Then you copy a dummy.php file to the webroot on your localhost. Install the Firefox Zend Studio Add-on and BAM! Welcome to the 21st century.

    I also have it installed on my Windows and Ubuntu laptops in my home office. They all work in exactly the same way.

    When I first used PHP debugging (back in 2003 – yes, that’s right. You’re 8 years behind the curve!) it was a revelation! Stepping through code was very new to me so it was very exciting to see my program flow. It actual helped me to improve my programming because I could see exactly what was happening at any moment. Eyes. Opened!

    It’s probably not that new to someone like you but like you admit, the small bit of time you invest getting it setup will reward you with less bugs and a thorough, crystal clear understanding of what is going on in your code.

    The ironic thing is that you complain that you can’t debug PHP and so you feel it necessary to rewrite you entire AppIgnite codebase in JavaScript rather than install a PHP debugger. Crazy!

    Oh and @Justin: I totally agree with you about the (non-)service industry in England. It sucks ballz. I personally like to call them out if I’m in a store and I’m not getting the level of service I expect. I have no qualms about giving people a piece of my mind if they’re chatting to each other / on their mobile phones while I wait for service.

  17. Corey says:

    Previously all of my posts on HN went straight to the bottom. I took your advice and posted on HN on Saturday. I got a lot more points, attention and comments. Recommended!

  18. @Justin: I also do not use a calendar. I use the hell out of followup.cc – check it out, it’s all email based. I use it for everything that is time sensitive (I track TODO’s in my own application). If you remember IWantSandy.com, it is very similar.

    Being a developer, I actually like the discussions on coding topics.

    @Jason: I switched to all javascript development a while back and I have never looked back. I only use the server side stuff (PHP, and Ruby) for pushing data to the client and for validation. Mootools makes client side development much faster for me.

  19. Justin says:

    @Corey – Glad to hear it helped!

  20. Ben Boyter says:

    @Justin I had a go at the whole vegan thing. I just went cold turkey and was fine for 4 days. On the 5th though I got the worst stomach pains I can possibly imagine. Felt like my guts were processing a couple of chop bones. I was literally in tears from the pain which lasted 12-14 hours.

    I drank some Ginger Beer which calmed things down a bit, but it was seriously the worst experience from food I have ever had.

    Now, im off for a bucket of KFC.

  21. Justin says:

    @Ben – Wow! You experienced a fully blown healing crisis. Might have been worth riding it out to see what came next.


  22. Ben Boyter says:

    Interesting if that’s the case. I will soldier on over the next few days just to see how things work out. More fruit and veggies ho!

    I am planning on reintroducing some meat back into the diet though, mostly just a few thin slices of parma prosciutto. Mostly because I love the taste and it goes very well with melon.

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