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Ron Hornbaker
Works at Stealth Startup
Attended Kansas State University
Lives in Walnut Creek, CA
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Ron Hornbaker

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Product Manager Meetup with Google Ventures and Greylock Partners - clipped by minouye. 16 views. ¼x ½x 1x 1½x 2x. Keyboard shortcuts. 17 Clips New Clip. 1/5. New Clip. Save Delete Cancel. Product Manager Meetup with Google Ventures and Greylock Partners - clipped by minouye. 16 views ...
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Ron Hornbaker

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Is Google+ a ghost town? +1 this if you read it, I'm curious if anyone is reading.
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No ghost town for me. In my case all the added circle shares have caused my stream to be so busy that I miss the majority of posts. I think that's the one negative thing about circle shares, when they came out my followers sky rocketed but my interaction dropped at the same time.
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Brilliant!
Take This Lollipop is an Interactive Live Action Facebook Connect experience.
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Jean-Baptiste Quéru originally shared:
 
Dizzying but invisible depth

You just went to the Google home page.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit of about how browsers work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play HTTP, HTML, CSS, ECMAscript, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just connected your computer to www.google.com.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how networks work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play DNS, TCP, UDP, IP, Wifi, Ethernet, DOCSIS, OC, SONET, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just typed www.google.com in the location bar of your browser.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how operating systems work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a kernel, a USB host stack, an input dispatcher, an event handler, a font hinter, a sub-pixel rasterizer, a windowing system, a graphics driver, and more, all of those written in high-level languages that get processed by compilers, linkers, optimizers, interpreters, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just pressed a key on your keyboard.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know about bit about how input peripherals work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a power regulator, a debouncer, an input multiplexer, a USB device stack, a USB hub stack, all of that implemented in a single chip. That chip is built around thinly sliced wafers of highly purified single-crystal silicon ingot, doped with minute quantities of other atoms that are blasted into the crystal structure, interconnected with multiple layers of aluminum or copper, that are deposited according to patterns of high-energy ultraviolet light that are focused to a precision of a fraction of a micron, connected to the outside world via thin gold wires, all inside a packaging made of a dimensionally and thermally stable resin. The doping patterns and the interconnects implement transistors, which are grouped together to create logic gates. In some parts of the chip, logic gates are combined to create arithmetic and bitwise functions, which are combined to create an ALU. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bistable loops, which are lined up into rows, which are combined with selectors to create a register bank. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bus controllers and instruction decoders and microcode to create an execution scheduler. In another part of the chip, they're combined into address and data multiplexers and timing circuitry to create a memory controller. There's even more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Can we simplify further?

In fact, very scarily, no, we can't. We can barely comprehend the complexity of a single chip in a computer keyboard, and yet there's no simpler level. The next step takes us to the software that is used to design the chip's logic, and that software itself has a level of complexity that requires to go back to the top of the loop.

Today's computers are so complex that they can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. In turn the computers used for the design and manufacture are so complex that they themselves can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. You'd have to go through many such loops to get back to a level that could possibly be re-built from scratch.

Once you start to understand how out modern devices work and how they're created, it's impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that's involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy's law says that they simply shouldn't possibly work.

For non-technologists, this is all a black box. That is a great success of technology: all those layers of complexity are entirely hidden and people can use them without even knowing that they exist at all. That is the reason why many people can find computers so frustrating to use: there are so many things that can possibly go wrong that some of them inevitably will, but the complexity goes so deep that it's impossible for most users to be able to do anything about any error.

That is also why it's so hard for technologists and non-technologists to communicate together: technologists know too much about too many layers and non-technologists know too little about too few layers to be able to establish effective direct communication. The gap is so large that it's not even possible any more to have a single person be an intermediate between those two groups, and that's why e.g. we end up with those convoluted technical support call centers and their multiple tiers. Without such deep support structures, you end up with the frustrating situation that we see when end users have access to a bug database that is directly used by engineers: neither the end users nor the engineers get the information that they need to accomplish their goals.

That is why the mainstream press and the general population has talked so much about Steve Jobs' death and comparatively so little about Dennis Ritchie's: Steve's influence was at a layer that most people could see, while Dennis' was much deeper. On the one hand, I can imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Jobs did and the people he inspired: probably a bit less shiny, a bit more beige, a bit more square. Deep inside, though, our devices would still work the same way and do the same things. On the other hand, I literally can't imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Ritchie did and the people he inspired. By the mid 80s, Ritchie's influence had taken over, and even back then very little remained of the pre-Ritchie world.

Finally, last but not least, that is why our patent system is broken: technology has done such an amazing job at hiding its complexity that the people regulating and running the patent system are barely even aware of the complexity of what they're regulating and running. That's the ultimate bikeshedding: just like the proverbial discussions in the town hall about a nuclear power plant end up being about the paint color for the plant's bike shed, the patent discussions about modern computing systems end up being about screen sizes and icon ordering, because in both cases those are the only aspect that the people involved in the discussion are capable of discussing, even though they are irrelevant to the actual function of the overall system being discussed.
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Ron Hornbaker

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‎"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
June 12th 2005 Stanford commencement speech
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Ron Hornbaker

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Just posted news of this community to HN, upvote here if you want: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4906255
Link above is to the announcement. Here's the link to the community: https://plus.google.com/communities/111285810442781953487 · reply · Lists | RSS | Bookmarklet | Guidelines | FAQ | DMCA | News News...
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Breathtaking photos...
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After meeting Bill for the first time, strongly agree...
Chris DiBona originally shared:
 
It is now public that +Bill Coughran has moved to Sequoia Capital. When I think of people in Silicon Valley I aspire to be like, Bill tops the list. I had the good fortune to work directly for Bill for about 3 years and he'll be missed from Google which he called home for the last 8 or so years.

I joked internally that Bill was Google's analogue to the Manhattan Project's Gen Leslie Groves, but Rob Pike put it best in his reply "He's not our Groves, he's our Bill".

Anyhow, Sequoia is damn lucky to get him!
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Poor Mitch...
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The process of evolution, through which single-celled organisms slowly developed over billions of years into exponentially more sophisticated forms of life, has inexplicably culminated...
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People
In his circles
103 people
Have him in circles
1,664 people
Gail Niebrugge's profile photo
Anil Gupte's profile photo
Nasser AL's profile photo
Lev Abramowitz's profile photo
Akansha kashyap's profile photo
Dan Horning's profile photo
Vaclav Chmelensky's profile photo
Matt Stevens's profile photo
Ko Pin's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Tech Entrepreneur
Employment
  • Stealth Startup
    Cofounder/CPO, 2014 - present
  • Clippeo.com
    Cofounder, 2013 - present
  • Sequoia Capital
    Entrepreneur-in-Residence, 2011 - 2013
  • FooMojo, Inc.
    Founder/CEO, 2008 - 2011
  • Sequoia Capital
    Entrepreneur-in-Residence, 2007 - 2007
  • BookCrossing.com
    Founder, 2001 - 2006
  • Statsaholic.com
    Founder, 2006 - 2007
  • Propsmart.com
    Founder, 2005 - 2006
  • Humankind Systems
    Founder, 1998 - 2005
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Walnut Creek, CA
Links
Story
Tagline
Cofounder & CPO of a startup in stealth, two-time Sequoia Capital EIR
Introduction
I create with code and pixels.
Bragging rights
Taught myself aerobatics
Education
  • Kansas State University
    Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, 1984 - 1992
Basic Information
Gender
Male