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Ask HN: Does reading HN ever make you feel like shit?
309 points by photon_off 11 hours ago   146 comments top 81
175 points by pg 10 hours ago replies      
You have to consider the number of users. HN now gets 60k unique visitors on weekdays. That's a decent sized stadium full of people. Of course they seem overwhelming collectively, but most individuals are only experts in a few areas.

If it makes you feel any better, my biggest worry about this site is the opposite: that the median awesomeness is decreasing as the number of users increases.

If you want to feel less overwhelmed, try reading the comments starting at the bottom of the page instead of the top.

92 points by neilk 10 hours ago 4 replies      
One of your problems is that you are judging yourself by your natural abilities. I think this a trap that a lot of smart people fall into, perhaps being used to being the kid who always gets the gold star. There are studies that show that children who are praised for being "smart" stop working hard, because that threatens their self-image. Children who are praised for working hard go on to greater successes.

But back to HN. Recall that people post here, in part, to feel good about themselves and appear smart to others. It may be that the real heroes are not here. They are off doing stuff, not yammering about it.

I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of successful web startup people (a different group from say, pg or other YC alumni). I can tell you that the only thing they have in common is that they Keep Doing Stuff. No matter what, Keep Doing Stuff. They often have very low tolerance for naysayers and armchair critics. This isn't so much iron determination (well it is, in part) but mostly because they are motivated by the intrinsic rewards of building and exploring. In other words: they are just trying to have fun.

Their initial prototypes are ugly and naive. They don't care because it does something they wanted. They use a language that others deride as a toy. They don't care because it gets the job done fast. At launch, the whole thing is held together with tinkertoys and chewing gum. They still don't care as long as it's making people happy. Then scaling problems happen. Then they hunker down and make even more spectacular mistakes.

And you know what? Then one day they look back on at all they've done, and the system is humming beautifully and they're experts in multiple fields. And O'Reilly starts bugging them to write a book about how they did it all so effortlessly.

Meanwhile those guys on HN are still whining about how it would have been so much better with a functional language and a NoSQL data store.


P.S. This is not an argument for doing anything sloppily. It's just that you have to be laser-focused on results. It's a paradox; you have to be capable of rolling out something of heart-breaking beauty but also have no concern for things that ultimately don't affect success. It's been my experience that the version 1.0 of anything really creative looks like a piece of junk. And it takes a very sharp eye to see that it's doing something new and important. I guess this is why not everybody is a successful investor.

35 points by patio11 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I would suggest competng with yourself rather than other people. I cannot write a fuzzer in C, have conversations in French, or buy a house with my petty cash. Many here can do these things. I can, however, totally paste the 25 year old me in web app programming, marketing, etc. Start pasting yesterday's you today.
28 points by lionhearted 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Good! This is a good thing! You're feeling sick to your stomach that you're not living up to your potential - good that you come here to post this. Most people fight this feeling down with distraction, intoxication, or otherwise tuning out.

You're doing something about it. This is fantastic. If you want, email me a reasonably short email and tell me what your goals and projects are, I'll recommend you some reading and give you some advice. Spend 5-10 minutes thinking about your core life goals before writing me, and feel free to put in a couple specific projects as well. I'd be happy to be of service, I admire people who confront themselves and reality.

I love when I get that sick to my stomach feeling, it means I'm about to do some great things. Don't fight it. Drop me a line if you like, my email is in my profile.

44 points by loganfrederick 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I sympathize with your feelings. Coming to HN can instantly humble anyone who previously believed (s)he is smart, talented, destined for greatness, etc. when you see what truly brilliant people are like. I know it gave me a good reality check and sense of my relative knowledge compared to all the potential things to learn.

But you've taken the wrong lessons out of it. Don't view it as a community of people better and smarter than you, see it as a wealth of knowledge like a library.

Don't view the people here as your competition. View them as people with something to teach you.

Intelligence is not a zero-sum game. No one will prevent your success because they are "smarter" than you. The more educated, energized, and ethical people in the world, the better for us all. Take what HN has to offer and apply it to what makes you happy and what will bring you fulfillment and success.

12 points by gojomo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I fear that what you're feeling is a dark side of the net's otherwise positive aspects. (It's not just HN.)

The net lets us see all the great output from the most talented writers, thinkers, doers of their fields -- including people who we could imagine to be our peer group. But what we see is not an accurate sample -- it's dominated by the most remarkable, outliers by both skill and luck. (That is, there's massive survivorship bias; see Taleb's Fooled by Randomness.) Still, if we choose to look, it's in our face every hour of every day, in our news feeds, our Twitter streams, our Facebook statuses.

(Compare also: the quality of social networks whereby for almost everyone, your friends will have more friends than you [1]; the Matthew Effect, whereby small changes in initial endowment of power/fame/success can compound [2]; and how viewing top athletes can actually decrease someone's coordination in following challenges [3].)

In the plant and insect world, sometimes as one organism thrives, it sends off chemical signals that suppress the growth of its siblings/peers/neighbors, in an effect called allelopathy.

Information about others' great works and successes, transmitted by the net, may sometimes serve as a sort of memetic negative allelopathy. The message is: this territory is taken; you can't reach the sunshine here; try another place/strategy (or even just wither so your distant relatives can thrive). This can be be the subtext even if that's not the conscious intent of those relaying the information. Indeed, the reports may be intended as motivational, and sometimes be, while at other times being discouraging.

What to do? Not yet certain, but awareness that this mechanism is in play may help. You can recognize that what you're reading is not representative, and that comparing yourself against prominent outliers -- or even worse, vague composites of outliers who are each the best in one dimension -- is unrealistic and mentally unhealthy.

Actual progress for yourself may require detaching from the firehose a bit, picking a narrower focus. (HN's eclectic topic matter can be inherently defocusing.)

And remind yourself that despite various reptilian-hindbrain impulses, most interesting creative activity today is far from zero-sum. The outliers can win, and you can win too (even if you don't achieve outlier-sized success). Their success can expand your options, and they may wind up being your collaborators (formally or informally by simply participating in a mutual superstructure) moreso than your 'competitors'.

[1] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundament...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_effect

[3] Can't find the reference at the moment, but the study I recall showed people video of a top soccer player, and subsequently they performed worse on tasks requiring physical coordination.

19 points by lsc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
you are 25. is this your first 'big pond' experience?

I mean, yeah, it's hard. When I was 20, I got an opportunity to work with some of the best people in my business. (I got the guy who hired me to write a preface to my book... In it, he calls me a 'dumbass kid' which pretty much sums up the situation.)

I did okay at the job until the company crashed (In about 2001, you see) as the pressure went up, I couldn't deal with it. I felt like I was not remotely qualified to work there, or really in the industry at all, and that I was the reason why the company was doing so poorly. I ended up quitting, and taking several months off to road trip. This, of course, ended when I ran out of money, and when I found that working at a coffee shop was more likely to require a degree, it seemed, than getting another SysAdmin gig. I ended up getting a job at a local ASP, and not doing any thing else notable until I started my own company a few years later.

In retrospect, I handled the situation all wrong. The company survived, and if I toughed it out, I would probably be another 3 years ahead in my career right now, and I'd be much closer to the incredibly awesome contacts I made there.

But, the point is, there are always going to be people who are better than you are, and if you can work around those people, do so. you will learn a lot. On the other hand, going from a small pond where you get to be the big fish to the big pond, where there will always be people with whom you simply will never be able to compete, is, well, quite an emotional shock.

If you are a healthy person, you will eventually come to accept and appreciate people who are better than you without getting the feeling that your ego just got kicked in the nads. On the other hand, if this is your first 'big pond' experience, the blow to the ego is very common and generally something that should be expected. You can get over it.

18 points by Zev 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Just remember, however many smart people there are on HN, there are just as many people who are very nice and more than willing to share what they know. And thats my favorite thing about HN; if I ever have a question about something (that I read here or otherwise), I know that I can come and ask and get an answer. If you ever have any questions about something you read, I'd strongly encourage you to ask it as well.

Or in general, really. Not just on HN. Learning and asking questions isn't something that should be scary.

As for your three points:

1. Those are three useful languages to know. Especially Javascript. Don't be so quick to put down what you do know; someone else will always know more than you. Good for them. Ask them a question, learn something from them.

My personal belief is that you have to like what you do to be good at it. And people like to talk about things they like. So, don't be surprised if someone is willing to talk to you about your question :)

2. I don't mean to be harsh, but it sounds like the only thing stopping you from having a bunch of neat ideas to show off is, well, you. It sounds like you've started a few ideas. Why not finish them up as well?

A very good friend of mine is fond of saying (something along the lines of): "If you pretend to be something long enough, you'll eventually find that you've become what you were pretending to be." If you have 80% done (or even 50%), thats a start. Keep going and you'll wind up with something to show for it. Then you'll find that you've turned into one of those people that you aspired to be like.

3. Everyone had to start somewhere. Some people started earlier and others later. Some people can pick certain things up quicker than others. Thats no reason to be so harsh on yourself. And not everyone is working on the same idea.

And even within the same idea, there's always going to be plenty of room for multiple companies. YC has funded companies in the same area before. There's hundreds of Twitter clients out there. Don't ever let "Well, someone else is doing this..." stop you.

16 points by etherael 10 hours ago 1 reply      
On the contrary, no community I've ever known in my life has ever made me feel so empowered.

The "real world" is packed with people who will belittle and disregard your achievements and abilities, you will be told again and again that people like you will simply be replaced by counterparts in a third world country willing to do what you do for sixteen hours a day at five dollars per hour. This comes from fear and ignorance but is so universal amongst the general populace that you can start wondering if they might be onto something.

A community like this is concrete evidence that they are dead wrong; That what we do matters, and that it is not wrong to take pleasure and pride in it. It betrays the attempts to sideline the work and misdirect attention to the importance of politics and salesmanship, neither of which have any spoils to be arguing over or peddling respectively in the absence of the essential process of making wealth and not just money.

Most of all it makes me not hate the world like I used to, because it shows me what humans can be and not what they seem to be when I stand in a random room in meatspace and take a look around.

4 points by jakevoytko 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm late to this party, so I'll give you two quick pointers: "You and Your Research" by Richard Hamming [0], and "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" [1]

Read both in their entirety.

You will gain a new perspective on those who make great achievements. They experience the same self-doubt you do! Feynman notes in dismay that other researchers at Los Alamos effortlessly solved problems mentally after he'd spend days working out the solution. He also mentions when he starts in academia, he was overwhelmed by an academic paper being discussed at a conference because he didn't understand it. Richard Hamming notes a few extra pressures, specifically the pressure to solve great problems instead of small problems, and how this pressure ruins your work

Both books have similar lessons. Feynman says it implicitly, and Hamming says it explicitly: Keep modern, work with others, understand the twists and turns of your field, think about the future, and solve the small problems. You can't force yourself to do great things, but you can stack the deck in your favor.

[0] http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/YouAndYourResearch.html

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Surely-Feynman-Adventures-Curious-Char...

8 points by ahoyhere 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Psychological research studies have shown that if you tell a kid that he's "smart," he's less likely to take risks because he's afraid of not succeeding & losing the "smart" label.

Sounds like you're suffering the grown-up version of that. You're worried about the "smart" label and not the, say, persistence, hard-worker, stick-to-it label.

If you are interested in finishing something, I highly recommend read the posts on http://www.justfuckingship.com/ - you'll probably find them right up your alley.

Take heart, by the way. Finishing and shipping is a skill, like any other, you have to do it a lot to get good at it, but it's totally learnable. As is entrepreneurship.

Oh, and take all these people here as a challenge, not a reason. You aren't competing with them. You're the only person who will ever be "you." Let their accomplishments at being the best of who they can be inspire you to be the best of who you can be.

Sounds a little woo, but it works.

3 points by JunkDNA 5 hours ago 0 replies      
My work evenly splits between biomedicine and software development. I have spent lots of time around really smart scientists who were trying to do things like develop cures for cancer or new antibiotics. One of the things I learned early on in science is to get used to feeling like the dumbest guy in the room. There is a whole world of information out there and no one person knows it all. You just can't.

That said, what I learned over time was that the best way to make yourself smarter was to hang around people smarter and/or more experienced than you are. The hallmark of truly intelligent people is their ability to recognize they don't know everything. If you do this and you make an effort to learn and build your skills, some day you wake up and realize you are an "expert" in some area you have worked in for 10 years. 

I worked with a very talented programmer a lot early in my career. One time I was feeling down about ever being able to code like him. He looked at me and said, "You know, I wasn't born knowing this stuff." I hear his voice every time I get discouraged.

2 points by acangiano 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You are comparing yourself to the entire HN community: a young man against thousands of years of collective experience.

I suspect the reason why you do this is because you give your "talent" more value than you should.

You wrote this:

> HN shows me all these people and ideas that are succeeding. It used to be inspirational, but now it's frightening.

> I've always been told I'm a smart kid, and that I'll be a millionaire some day, and all of that shit.

You can snap out of it, but you need to change your mindset about intelligence, learning, and mastering a trade.

Please consider reading this essay of mine. I think it may be helpful: http://programmingzen.com/2010/07/04/the-pursuit-of-excellen...

11 points by loewenskind 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Do you ever watch Formula One? You know that guy who always finishes at the end of pack that everyone laughs at? He's the (~)20th fastest driver on this planet. Imagine how he feels.

EDIT: People are getting hung up on the specifics here, so let me expand a bit: If you are, say, the 20th best at anything then how you feel about yourself depends on where you look. If you only look forward you'll be thinking "good greif, there are NINETEEN people in front of me, I suck!". If you only look behind you'll think you're the greatest. Just look at all the billions behind you.

I think the key is a healthy combination of looking forward for motivation ("Just 19 more to go!") and behind for perspective.

1 point by fragmede 1 hour ago 0 replies      
1) You cared enough to mention WinXP and an IDE. Why bring this up, unless you realize there are alternatives. If it really bothers you that much, delete WinXP and your IDE, and jump into the deep end; install $BetterOS and learn $BetterEditor. (And spend the requisite time setting up $BetterEditor to do code-completion.)

Realize that it also doesn't really matter, as long as your code is good, you can code on Win98 for all I care.

2) In my mind, smart is worth zero. Motivation is everything. (And I'm telling myself that as much as I'm telling you.)

What are your ideas? Better yet, what are your ideas that you could do overnight? Do one a week! Realize that there's very much a survivor bias - you don't pause to consider the ideas that you never heard of that went anywhere because, well, you never heard of them.

It's frightening and inspirational, but take it as motivation to stop standing still!

3) Well done on a successful posting. You've written a navel-gazing AskHN post that got you 200+ karma. (Read: the community has given you a good amount of karma, a community-based metric of how much something belongs to said community, and it was for your thoughts (as opposed to posting the latest TechCrunch/Wired/Ars/etc post from the rss feed before someone else got to it).)

So you're working on a startup, and, despite your convictions that it's the right thing, the best thing to do, there's will always be an air of uncertainty. An unproven business plan, a failed-before business model, a different pricing structure, a questionably useful product; some question with no right answer. A competitor in a similar market is great! It validates some part of your startup. You should relish competition, from this crowd specifically, because it means YOUR idea is a GOOD one that someone else who isn't you has decided to pursue it in a serious fashion. (That said, leave my customers alone :p )


Yes, I do get overwhelmed occasionally that others are doing better than I, but that should be motivation to do better, do more. I frequently find myself thinking "Psh, that app is so lame, I could do better in my sleep." To which my retort is "Sure, but what did you do last night? Sleep? ...yeah".

Do the idea that you have floating around, write down what your MVP is, cut that down to a proof of concept that you could finish the engineering essence of in a day and do that. Stop feeling overwhelmed and get to work. Feel guilty for not working as hard as you could on everything, and work harder. While you're working harder, define your own tiny metric of initial success... If only one person visits, if only 1 persons reads this, if only. Be happy with what you have, but work hard to do even better.

4 points by RiderOfGiraffes 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I know squat about most things, but I know a lot about a few things. When I'm here I can comment on the things I know something about, and express confusion and willingness to learn about the others.

You're 25 - you can't know everything.

You can do some stuff - get on and do it.

You come here and find people who know more than you do - learn from them.

Don't be over-whelmed - everyone here has their weaknesses, it's just that you usually don't get to see them.

1 point by elg0nz 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
There is this great article on Make Magazine called "Why Those Kids from Podunk Are Keeping You Down"
And it says something in the lines, "So they made something cooler than yours, so what? It wasn't you anyways".

And I belive its true, most Successful guys are just "lucky" (paraphrasing Sarah Lacy's book "Once you are Lucky, twice you are good") so there is no point in comparing yourself to them, you should use them as inspiration and not exacly as role models.

For example, I really liked this Dustin Moskowitz (Facebook co-founder) answer when asked about the Social Network Movie:

"It is interesting to see my past rewritten in a way that emphasizes things that didn't matter [...] A lot of exciting things happened in 2004, but mostly we just worked a lot and stressed out about things"


So at my 27 years old, I may not be Mark Zuckerberg or even the more cooler and loved Matt Mullenweg, but I know that reading about them and how they think make me think different too; that somehow by entreprenurship there is a way to change this world and though it's really hard, I know that now I can't stop trying.

5 points by ibagrak 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If that's any consolation, you are not alone. I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about strategies for advancing past mediocrity. Here are some general principles that I apply regardless of your background and past accomplishments:

1) Learn by doing and trying, not by thinking. Aimless reflection and introspection are bottomless pits that can suck up enormous amount of time that could be put to far more productive uses. If you have a choice between reading a book on a programming language and going through a tutorial that forces you to try examples, go through the tutorial. Immediate, tactile learning is better than abstract success stories which paper over important ingredients for success.

2) Social networking is key. Grow by connecting yourself to communities of peers, mentors, gurus, etc that you can actually rely on and that you can benefit from. If HN is making you depressed, stop reading it. Instead establish meaningful professional and personal connections with people that are supportive. The value of your circle is often overlooked. I am a firm believer that the quality of the people you know is the great predictor of your overall happiness and achievement.

3) Focus on the things you need to know. The number of programming languages you know doesn't matter. It is a meaningless metric. What matters is how comfortable you are with the tools that help you get _your_ job done. This is related to point 1). Having mastery and proficiency of something that you use daily is far more important than having the breadth of knowledge and mastery of exotic languages.

4) Stack your skills. Time is short so the best way to advance is to leverage maximum of what you _already_ know. In other words, don't jump around and shift gears all the time. Think of a long term goal(s) and try to segment the path toward that goal such that you can (a) complete each segment without getting distracted, (b) get feedback after each segment (c) learn something in each segment that you can use in the next. It doesn't have to be one project. In fact it's better if a sequence of projects, so you can adjust your course along the way.

5) Don't stop. Giving up is an attractive option. Our society has many different ways to cushion your fall, which can make quitting tempting and virtually painless. If you want to achieve something, idleness is definitely _not ok_.

Update: edited for style and grammar.

5 points by revorad 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to think like that, especially when I hung out on LessWrong (http://lesswrong.com). Then I decided my aim in life is not to be the best at everything as an individual. My aim in life is to do great and useful things, on my own or with help from others.

Once I started seeing things in that way, it became really exciting to find so many people, much more intelligent and talented than me. I can learn from them, hire them, partner with them, work for them or even compete with them. I can leverage (for lack of a better word) their awesomeness in some way or the other for a goal higher than just personal achievements.

10 points by lkozma 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The gapingvoid comic line comes to mind: Never compare your inside to someone else's outside.
5 points by phaedrus 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't get that feeling from HN, but I get the exact feeling you describe when (trying to) read MathOverflow.com. For some reason the level of math being discussed there has quickly risen to such a rarefied atmosphere that I although go there out of interest and a desire to learn, I come away feeling I can't keep up.
5 points by robryan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I get this to but I think sometimes we are getting overwhelmed by the collective knowledge of hacker news rather than individuals. Granted there are a lot of exceptionally talented people posting here but you will probably find that the really great technical comments are coming from people who spend a lot of time on what specific topic they are commenting on and would have areas your great at but they have little knowledge or experience.

Also there are people that have been in the area a lot longer, so me being 21 wasn't around programming during the late 90's tech bubble or before. They have had a lot more time to try a lot of different things.

It's good though to have the median above your own level, allowing you to learn but faster then if you were one of the smartest people here.

15 points by br41n 10 hours ago 0 replies      
That's EXACTLY how i feel, except i'm almost 29, live in an "undeveloped" country in eastern Europe with barely any opportunities and even though i'm the lone sysadmin of over 20 servers in one of the largest media groups around i feel like i suck badly compared to my peers.
So you're not alone :|
1 point by chc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You make claims like "I am not even a tiny drop in the giant ocean of talent" and "I will never be as good," but that's just pure mental melodrama. The actual, real-world observation you've made is this: "There are people here who have done things that I haven't."

That's all. It's just about doing things. In many of these cases, you've chosen not to do these things. So you only really know three languages? Has somebody threatened to shoot you if you learn Ruby?

Most of your supposed "inferiority" is just the fact that they've chosen to do some work and you haven't.

2 points by kaens 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to feel like that. I felt constantly inferior. Eventually, I stopped feeling inferior and started feeling like I was associating with peers. I suspect that this had to do with a combination of me actually getting some experience (so that I can now actually contribute to discussions about certain technical things without sounding like a fool), and realizing that every single uber-competent person was an utter noob at one point.

I used to stress over never being able to contribute to OSS projects because I felt like I was drowning when I tried to, and a bunch of other stuff.

Give it time, keep hacking, and you'll be contributing amongst a field of your peers before you realize it :)

6 points by thibaut_barrere 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's the fix: don't compare yourself to others - compare your today's self to your tomorrow's self (ie: grow your own abilites instead).

I really suggest reading "Nonviolent Communication" (http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-Language-Mars...), which gives a lot of insight on these topics.

2 points by chipsy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I've only felt as overwhelmed by HN as any other point in life where I'm impressed at others. I recall being a kid and just starting to read, and reading a book of jokes, and wondering how in the world someone could possibly be clever enough to make all of those great jokes. Every other situation has basically been a repeat of that. So while I often get the feeling of "that idea is so simple, why didn't I think of it" or "I could have done something like that," more and more I recognize that it's just a matter of right place/right time to get the idea, to be motivated to take it seriously, and to execute on it.

Learning is easier than product creation, IMHO. A product involves an ongoing dialogue with a customer of some kind(even if it's free), while a skill is just something you have and can demonstrate every so often, so you can go at your own pace and not worry so much about "the guy at the other end."

The only thing bad about learning is when you hit a peak so high that you run out of other people at or above your level to talk with. It's an incredibly lonely feeling.

2 points by MikeMacMan 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You need to remember that people go through ups and downs in their lives. Some years, months, weeks are more productive and successful than others. Some people have all their success early and then struggle later in life. Others are late bloomers.

My point is this: don't get discouraged by all the great stuff you see on HN, thinking that you don't have your best years ahead of you. You can be as articulate, and insightful, and successful as many of the people you admire here.

3 points by CoachRufus87 3 hours ago 0 replies      
i feel like shit for 15 or so seconds, and then an overwhelming sense of motivation pours over me and makes me want to go out and make something that I too can proudly share on HN
5 points by aharrison 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually had this problem when I was reading through Steve Yegge's blogs. Here was this guy who had done so much, had so many great insights, and was routinely pushing himself to do better. It was very inspiring, but also kind of scary: how can I ever be that awesome?

It took me about a year to realize that his blogs are collectively almost a decade of work by him, his collective wisdom and insight, which wasn't even started until he had been out of college for at least 5 years. I was getting a compressed version of his long-term work.

Like robryan says in another comment: the collective knowledge of HN is vast and deep indeed, but most of these people have been hacking for years or decades. Just keep at it, and try to realize that creating useful things is not a zero-sum game.

1 point by m_myers 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Someone asked a similar question on Stack Overflow a while back: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/12259/should-i-be-di...

This was the top answer, by Paul Tomblin:

"The secret to happiness as a developer is not to know everything, but to be prepared to learn a lot about a particular niche. I don't know the answers to 90% of the questions here, but I do pretty well with the ones I do know. (And I've been a developer for 25+ years)

"And then some day, you'll be like me, nearly 50 years old, and looking at all these questions and think "am I too old to learn all this new stuff?" In my case, I snap out of that funk by assigning myself a new side project involving a new technology. Last time I felt this way, I learned Perl and built some web sites using Fast::CGI. This time I'm doing an iPhone application."

1 point by razerbeans 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is similar to the very same issues that I struggle with from time to time. I have found, however, that the best way to counter such feelings is to change your mindset. While easier said than done, changing your mindset to a more positive one will do wonders while allowing you to accept the fact that, while you won't be the very best, you are indeed capable of getting close. It boils down to putting on metaphorical 'blinders'. Don't worry so much about what others are doing, but worry about what you're doing. Get passionate about what you do or a project that you are working on. If your projects or ideas consume your mind there's no place for worry.

I've also found that talking to others about your ideas that may not totally understand the tech world and explaining to them in terms they'll understand will help in boosting morale. Often times, people will see with fresh eyes what others (such as those of us here) would overlook otherwise.

1 point by nazgulnarsil 1 hour ago 0 replies      
don't make the mistake of conflating status with success. remember that status is zero-sum (other programmers succeeding is you failing) while the economy is positive sum (humans create wealth). There's room for all of us to win.
1 point by zackham 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Being able to recognize areas you're motivated to improve upon is an incredibly valuable skill. Just in this post I see the following:

1) You have side projects and experiments that have interesting enough ideas behind them that you think they may be worth pursuing beyond 80%.
2) You think you should be familiar with more than Javascript, PHP, Java, and MySQL.
3) You are not completely happy only being comfortable in a Windows XP environment with whatever IDE you are using.

Each of these items has a clear next step. (1) Think about your projects, pick your favorite one, look at the code and do something minor. (2) Poke around and do some light research (if you haven't already) on other dev stacks, play around until you find yourself genuinely interested in one. (3) Install Ubuntu in a virtual machine (VirtualBox is free and works well) or dual boot. Google vim and emacs and pick one to start playing with.

If you feel like you are falling behind you can use that as an opportunity to figure out what you're unhappy with specifically and do simple things to take a small step forward. You can't do everything all at once, and the people here that are impressive to the point of it being intimidating got where they are by diligently making incremental progress over some time.

1 point by JangoSteve 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I often see the same thing you do, but honestly it makes me feel better, not worse. Let me explain.

I've had a lot of successes (and failures) in my life. Some I've earned with a lot of hard work and failed attempts, and some just came from my "natural talent and ability" (that's a load of BS by the way). Can you guess which successes were far and away the most satisfying? Hint: it's the successes I had to kill myself trying to get.

Moral of the story? Don't ever feel bad when you recognize a difficult path lay in front of you. Don't feel bad when you see room for improvement in yourself. You have direction and purpose. And when you get there, the reward will be that much more satisfying for it.

You have a shot at success if you work hard for it. You have a shot at success and happiness if you work really hard for it.

4 points by vimalg2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Like somebody wise once said, you should always surround yourself with people smarter than yourself in order to grow.

If you can't do it in the real world because of your geography or the quality of your physical peers, Hacker news is the best place to hang around, particularly if you're a comput(er/ing) enthusiast.

2 points by macromicro 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The one thing I've learned doing this PhD is that progress IS other people. If you're the only one doing research on a topic, you'll never get anywhere. Similarly, if you launch an awesome website and nobody comes, you're in the same problem.

The wonderful thing about the hacker community and especially ycombinator is the openness and mutual support we offer each other. We create, and we create more with other people. And rather than fighting over what's there we just make more.

So your best bet is to identify your place and roll in this community. Understanding other facets of the R&D economy can only help you, but use this knowledge to figure out how you can contribute the most. The other people here are not your competitors, they are your friends, employers, employees, and colleagues. They raise the bar on you but give you a way to get there-- they're the most important people in the world.

1 point by elblanco 3 hours ago 0 replies      
We're all just drops in an ocean of talented people. Work hard, work constantly, learn always, learn from everything, practice, practice, practice, get a hobby that's not development work, exercise regularly, read classic literature, learn some philosophy, business, math, art....basically follow the model of the Renaissance man, but molded for today's world, don't be afraid of failure (learn always), hate failure, start at the bottom and work your way up so you can learn everything about how the world works, be an opportunist, don't be afraid to step a bit outside of your comfort zone.

Hey, you're just 25, try and relax a little.

1 point by paolomaffei 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
wealth is not a zero-sum game.

if you want to balance this feeling why don't you watch some reality shows? I do watch a couple of hours of them each 6 months, it really helps.

2 points by mmaunder 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The only proof that we've gained the talents we need is that we have achieved the goals we've set. We are all like you.
1 point by cabalamat 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> I have my own ideas that I love dearly and work on, the first of which will be released for you all to play around with and break at the end of the week, but I never leave HN without feeling that no matter what I do, it will never be as good as what I've just read about.

There are 7 billion people in the world. For nearly all these people, for every skill they have, there is someone else better than them at it. I suggest you not worry about it. You probably aren't the best in the world at anything; you probably nevertheless are capable of making important contributions to things.

2 points by malabar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would have to say that yes, everyday I visit this site and feel like a big pile of sh#t. My reasons are:

1) I am fascinated by the stuff programmers do. I do not program, have tried to learn, but I am impatient. I will never code, so I feel like shit.

2) I see info on some real cool startups, and think I will never be involved in one. I do not have any great ideas, do not know any smart, cool people and can kiss that experience goodbye.

3) I am in IT, but it is at the Class A level, not the major leagues. I feel I will be stuck in the helpdesk forever, and it scares me.

So I feel like sh#t every day, because I read HN everyday. But when I do not read it, I forget about it and feel better. Well, maybe it is the porn sites I visit that make me fell better.

3 points by Twisol 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I just discovered Hacker News a few days ago, and I visit several times a day. I've learned so much over just these few days. It's definitely overwhelming, and you do get that feel of insignificancy after a little while. But I've come up with one rock I can lean on:

Don't compare yourself to the masses. Seeing so much awesomeness can be overwhelming, but you're just one person, after all.

I'm having some trouble with a project of my own, because it's such new ground for me. Reading HN can be a little scary, because it does seem like these people are doing something I'm not. Well, I can't say it's not true, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

(Also, can I just say how weird it feels to give advice? I hardly feel like I'm qualified! I figure you might get something out of it, though, and I've always liked Wikipedia's "Be bold" sentiment.)

1 point by chegra 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I try to run my own race. I generally see HN as a place to assess what moves I can make giving my ability and background. I talk about it in my Queen Theory blog post: http://chegra.posterous.com/the-queen-theory

For me it's a pleasure to see so many people doing awesome things, cause it implies I can too.

To put some numbers behind it, having an IQ greater than 120 does nothing to improve someones chances of winning a Nobel prize. I think it's the same thing here, it's a matter of just choosing something to work on.

1 point by mgrouchy 5 hours ago 0 replies      
In life, people are going to be faster, smarter, more well rounded then you. Thats one of the sureties in life, the best thing about that is that there is always room to improve and get better if that is your desire. So you shouldn't let it discourage you, you should just look at it as an opportunity for self improvement.
2 points by gawker 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey there,

On the contrary, I feel rather inspired by the audience of Hacker News. Reading stories about how people have done it, the mistakes they've learnt and their advice has given me renewed confidence in myself to go out and do it. Typically people who are successful are normally those we see on tv but reading the success stories and just how brilliant people there are on here, it's a true inspiration. HN is probably my most favourite place on the web hands down. Thanks to all of you! It keeps me humbled - never ever think that I am fantastic at something or even if I am, there are other people out there that can do just as well and I should never ever brag or boast about it. HN keeps me grounded and keeps me driving. I love it.

2 points by jgoewert 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Everytime I start to feel like that, I remember a truthful joke:

Q. What do they call the guy who graduated last at medical school?
A. Doctor.

Don't discount what you can achieve. It may be intellegence, inspiration, persperation, or luck. At last weeks RubyMidwest, the last lecture of the weekend was a guy who just started taking on new challenges and went from working as a kitchen staff to being a independent contract developer. He did it by pushing his own limit in small bits. If you are just doing the same thing every day, you aren't building skill or learning. Find something that makes you uncomfortable and do it.

2 points by sliverstorm 9 hours ago 0 replies      
1) There will always be someone better or smarter or versed in more languages than you. Probably a lot of them, in fact, and they will probably be a lot better. You just have to learn to accept that.

2) You are young; not everyone here is as young as you are. Some of the people you see as rivaling yourself could in fact be your elders, who are naturally a step ahead of you, and whose place you will assume in the future

3) Big fish. Little pond. Happens to me all the damn time. Fortunately I realized a while back anytime I find I'm the big fish, that means it's time for me to get out of my little pond and find the really big fish.

2 points by sidyadav 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The way I look at it, I'm just glad that there people somewhat like me who are doing, working on, and talking about smart things, and some of them who are succeeding. You have to realize, the kind of people that hangout on this site are fairly similar: they have entrepreneurial aspirations (and drive -- or they would be reading more fun/non-practical news sites like Reddit and Digg), most of them can design or code or both, and most of them are actually working on something.

60k unique visitors does sound like a lot, but it's not a drop in the hat of the amount of people that read Reddit or Digg or TechCrunch. So in a way, I actually feel good about this being a site that is smaller and more focused than those other ones, which really are the true depressants, so to say. Nobody on HN is out here to flame anyone, and most of them are thoughtful, intelligent people -- the kind I want to be with.

What I'm trying to say is, if you find HN frightening, the world is beyond anything you can imagine. There are people who are smarter than you, work harder than you, in better/more happening places than you, and naturally more rewarded than you. So then, being on HN gives me some comfort in knowing that there are people who are sort of like me, and who are also navigating the same world I am. Instead of comparing myself to these people, I'm just glad that they exist.

2 points by PaulJoslin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In reference to point 2 and 'I've always been told I'm a smart kid and that I'll be a millionaire one day'

It's worth reading this recent thread and the comments.

The post is entitled 'Dear reddit, did you believe that one day you'd all be millionaires, rockstars and moviestars?' - taken from the quote in Fight Club.
It raises some interesting points about how we are brought up to believe the dream is achievable and often it takes a lot more hard work than we originally perceive.

I personally wouldn't compare myself to anyone else. I've worked with some of the smartest guys I know from a technical point of view, but they have lacked in other areas such as ideas and execution.

(Often the best technical people neglect important things like marketing, design and user experience - expecting the 'amazing product' to equal success).

2 points by pclark 8 hours ago 0 replies      
No. I think it's awesome. I think the more smart people in the room, trying to do stuff, the better.

You talk about talent and intelligence - both important. But I've learnt that most people - 90% - never actually try. They talk like they want to succeed, but deep down they don't. They won't quit their contractor job. They won't even try. What kind of life is that?

3 points by nmftt 9 hours ago 0 replies      
No, not really. I actually feel underwhelmed quite frequently e.g. the reddit "fundraising" story two weeks ago. Don't get me wrong there are some advanced topics being discussed sometimes. But most of the time it's either opinion or layman's level non-technology topics.

But I also don't have a strictly CS background. I generally try not to express myself negatively though, but instead value the good parts and recognize that YC/HN is what it is.

1 point by evlapix 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm was in the same place as you and have recently evaded this feeling by distracting myself with other projects. (I bet I'm the best boat restorer in the discussion now! I kid.)

I'm curious though; how do you feel now that you've gotten the communities feedback on the matter?

I'm also wondering if this is something that others are interested in knowing.

2 points by hotmind 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You can assume two things of insightful comments from successful HN members:

1) they are older than you, or put more time in than you, thereby had more time to learn success systems, gain experience and accomplish things.

2) they are acquiring wisdom and success in various aspects of their lives and leveraging those wins in the business arena.

Start moving in different directions and get some easy wins wherever you can find them. These wins may seen small to you but be an Everest for someone else. Also, recalibrate what success and talent mean to you. Explore different definitions of it. Your perception of yourself and the HN community may not be the most accurate one.

Most important of all, seek out wisdom. A lot of what you think is relevant is only relative and transitory.

I've personally explored the topic before and wrote Three Steps To Obtaining (More) Wisdom: http://zerotosuperhero.posterous.com/3-steps-to-obtaining-mo...

1 point by joubert 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Other posters have replied with some valuable things to keep in mind.

I'll add that you need to remember there is probably a difference in age between yourself and that of the person (experience and thus knowledge is partly a function of age of course) who posted some mind-blowingly interesting and esoteric bit of information (I'm regularly amazed by the broad range of knowledge by the HNers)

1 point by dill_day 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like how on HN the content of the comments is emphasized -- no colorful avatars or signatures or any of that stuff.

I wonder if that maybe helps add to...like subconsciously, all the comments appear the same so you start feeling like HN is this big thing that 'knows everything' without realizing how many different people are contributing their knowledge of whatever area.

3 points by pathik 10 hours ago 0 replies      
All the time, my friend, all the time. But it's much better to compare yourselves to these geniuses at HN and be threatened/inspired to do better than compare yourself to a bunch of average people and feel good about it.

HN and PG's essays are the best things that a student / aspiring entrepreneur could experience. I learn new stuff everyday. HN rocks.

3 points by malkia 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes, but I don't care.

Please come to the video game industry :) There is always need of someone that knows MySQL, LAMP, etc.

2 points by jaxn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Never judge your insides by other people's outsides.
4 points by dreaming 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The biggest problem I have is opening thousands of tabs, finding great articles, bookmarking them for later and then not reading them.
1 point by hackermom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to answer no on this one. Not out of lacking humbleness or having too high thoughts of myself, but for the fact that I just don't compare myself to other people, regardless of whether they are "better" or "worse" than me.
2 points by muon 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes indeed, and it acts as great barrier fore me, even to comment here, but I am luck as those questions are asked again by other HN folks.
1 point by jblount 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is something I struggle with as well, but I think it's your response that matters more than the feelings of inadequacy you might have when comparing yourself to the very best parts of any community.

Does your perceived lack of talent drive you to learn and become better? Are you actively looking for opportunities and inspiration to drive you forward? Or are you simply idling on a web page re-living other people's accomplishments?

It's a thin, dangerous line. Some people idle, some people drive forward. I wouldn't suggest that either is the 'right' thing to do (I think it's morally ambiguous) but my desire is to drive.

3 points by amk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are damn good with javascript, you already have my respect. And I am not just trying to make you feel better.
1 point by mfalcon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to feel like you. Then I thought feeling like that was useless and continued minding my own business Who cares if some people are better than you?, there is no competition. Keep working in what you love enjoying the moment, that is success.
2 points by SteveMoody73 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I have the same feelings of being overwhelmed myself sometimes and I also feel envy for the people who are regularly working with the latest technologies.

At one time I was working for a company where we were constantly developing new systems for clients ranging from websites to large scale corporate applications. It seemed that we were learning new languages and systems every month and working on all sorts of platforms. It was hard work, but it was also a great deal of fun.

The last few years I’ve been spending about 90% of my time developing embedded software and very rarely use any languages beyond C, C++ and Assembly.

I try to read up on the latest developments as much as I can but I do often think that I’m falling further and further behind the older I get :)

1 point by LookingToBuy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I like you, feel overwhelmed with grief after Reading HN at times. Many times I have had great idea's, but lack programming skills (sys admin with asterisk knowledge) that I have not been able to execute them quick enough using oDesk developers etc that they have gone in to other peoples portfolio with great success, leaving me feeling pretty useless.

My problem is, I get basic php, I can work with mysql just about, but can't design/CSS or get JavaScript!

I keep saying, it can't be that difficult, but just don't get it when I try!

Since I found HN, 6 months ago, I have spoke to some great people, been given very good advise. I have even started a project with iPhone app using outsourced developers but it's slow (try telling a Latvian how to orient a photo depening on type). I long to be a great programmer, I would love to have even LAMP skills (could do with your talent, get in touch if you want to work together).

One thing I do know, I'll make it, why? Cos all the cool talented talented programmers here reply.

1 point by kymmx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
For me, as a non-english-speaking reader, who wants to know trends in these information-overwhelming and daily-innovating tech society, HN gives valuable source of news, blogs, even sometimes kind of tech 101.

Sometimes I feel like I am an only alien in the middle of natives, but think about your school days. You didn't know everything you should know, if you had finished your grade.

I'm happy everday reading and learning any tiny bit of new things posted on HN. I hope someday I can comment more and even post my own writing.

1 point by scorpion032 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Not that you would want to, but if you fancy being even more humbled, try reading the top questions from http://mathoverflow.net/
1 point by betterlabs 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree. This is true outside of HN as well IF you look at the aggregate smartness/knowledge of experts and compare that aggregate to your smartness/knowledge. Its incorrect to do such a comparison. If you look at the experts whose smartness you subconsciously aggregate, they are each not as smart in every one of the areas that others are smarter at. Sean Ellis is awesome as growing a startup who has achieved product/market fit, but not at achieving product/market fit (in his own words). Sean could say/feel the same. But instead he continues to be better at what he does. That, I believe, is the way to go. Master the areas that you are good at/can get good at, and learn the rest from others.
1 point by rkalla 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone feels this way in every profession every where... doctors at medical conferences, race car drivers at racing events, movie stars at red-carpet events.

This is why team-work is so important, because individually none of us can really hack it.

1 point by pbjorklund 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I just feel more inspired. Imagine all the failed startups that this site collectively represents. There are so many people here who went for their dream, failed, and got back to it which eventually led to the success-stories that we get to enjoy.

There is no single person that can be an expert in every area. But widening your views just beyond one simple tool/technology is always beneficial, and thats what I primarily read this site for. I read this site for the "aha" moments. Also consider the amount of people that don't care enough to even think about the subject you talk about. Just by wanting more your getting ahead of them.

1 point by mkr-hn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Everyone has some failing, no matter how high they rise.

The nice thing about being humble enough to admit it is that you can seek out people who are strong where you're weak and ask for help and advice in that area.

1 point by geekytenny 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You are a great contributor, speaking out for so many.
Stick around much longer, you will find yourself stepping up towards your goals.
Much hard work and and faith in yourself are two very important things you need.
Good luck!
2 points by mian2zi3 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes, but for the opposite reason. I usually walk away wondering why I wasted my time here when I could have been learning something or, even better, creating something.
1 point by Yaggo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember, it generally takes 10 years (of hard work) to master anything.
2 points by c00p3r 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The same mantra - launch (yourself) early (fast) and evolve (practice!). ^_^ Just do it.

The goal is to develop a proper habits (of focusing and concentration) and increase self-esteem through them. Practice makes you "perfect".

Most of those people just started early and spent more time practicing. ^_^

1 point by matrixownsyou 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I felt the same way until i read a post from a HN user about "being mediocre and it's OK".
Not being a rocket scientist doesn't mean i can't build great stuff too, i'll just never do something like this :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u0qlIoSSkQ
1 point by hellosamdwyer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
All you can do is keep fighting.
-4 points by borism 10 hours ago 0 replies      
-4 points by Tichy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
iFart made a lot of money, too, I think.
Ask HN: Would you play a distributed, programmable MMO?
36 points by vyrotek 3 hours ago   29 comments top 18
10 points by patio11 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I have participated in a few AI programming competitions (where the AI control simple programs, robots, ants, etc) and they generally turn into a few weeks of wonderful ideas followed by discovery of a degenerate case in the rules set.

(For example, in a beautiful simulation where a single program had to control a colony of ants who did not have any room for state other than a current instruction pointer and the input of their senses, someone successfully identified an algorithm to have each ant figure out which ant they were, and then execute a pre-planned sequence of moves to wall in the entire enemy base, faster than any non-degenerate program could possibly counteract it. It was beauty to behold but it also crushed the life out of the community -- the best ant has been crowned, everyone else gets to play for second best.

1 point by phaedrus 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Look up .NET Terrarium. You programmed behaviors for "bugs" that could either be herbivores or carnivores. It was pretty amazing - it would serialize people's AI controller classes and inject them into other players' instances so copies of them could compete. Sadly by the time I discovered .NET Terrarium, it had already been abandoned (having served its purpose of demonstrating the power of .NET serialization). It's a tragedy it was never open sourced.

Interestingly the ultimate winning strategy was a herbivore that acted even more aggressively than a carnivore. Any carnivore that wantonly killed everything would also be wasting its food source, but a herbivore has no such limitation. Someone programmed herbivores that formed packs to attack everything & keep the plant for themselves, and it was impossible for anything else to gain a foothold once bugs with that strategy were in a terrarium.

3 points by skolor 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm fairly sure most people kick around ideas like this at some point or another. It would definitely be cool to give a try.

It does have the problem of playability. How do you keep someone's interest beyond a week or two of this?

My thoughts on the subject have lead to something like this:

Create a fairly persistent world. This means that any action a player can make will be permanent in the game. It can be something fairly simple, a grid based game, maybe some resource management. I like the idea of a turn based strategy game, with ~30s per turn.

Create a point system. How points are won doesn't really matter, but make it something interesting. Point reset every week. When they reset, the person with the highest amount of points gets to make a new "rule". This could be anything from a new ability for a unit to a change in the way the physics work. It (obviously) has to be tested and verified, but would be deployed relatively quickly. This process iterates for as long as desired.

Obviously a number of iterations will cause problems of complexity eventually. My thoughts on the matter have led me to a rather specific idea for a game of this type, which I think would be incredibly enjoyable to play.

If you're interested, send me an email. I'd be happy to send you a more complete description of my idea, and if you still like it I'd be up for trying to implement it. That is true for anyone, not just the OP.

2 points by almost 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Sounds like fun :) I really like the idea of having the it communicate
with the BOTS via a REST API. Presumably people would all run them on
their own servers and submit a URL of their bot's interface to the
tournament site.

It would have to be turn based otherwise latency would make it very
unfair. Which of course would mean that efficiency wouldn't be part of
it much (there would have to be a timeout of course, but you still
wouldn't usually be able to get an advantage by optimising your code
to run really fast).

Having them run on other machines would also mean that collusion and
such between bots would be a possibility if you had games with more
than two players. I think you'd just have to accept and embrace it.

I'm up for getting involved if you want to make this. Email is in my profile.

2 points by robryan 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
A civilisation like game could work. Thinking about something like this in the past I like the idea of something that may run for some days and then have a winner. At which point it can be modified to remove any game breaking strategies that may crop up, probably changed enough to that copying the previous winner won't help. Then give everyone say another week to rescript their AI.

Possibly something like 30 seconds to 1 minute turns with allowing the server your querying maybe 5 seconds to return moves. Then you would just need some way to assess progress. I like the idea to the people can get beaten relatively fast, just the idea that everyone starts out on a massive map and bigger civilisations soon start to form by wiping others out.

3 points by rdl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This sounds like Core Wars and Network Tierra combined, both from 15-25 years ago.

I would definitely play an MMO which let me script and didn't require my realtime involvement. EVE Online is like that for some of the gameplay already, but something where everything is through "agents" would be even better.

5 points by shabble 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is something I've been thinking about for a long time, albeit with ridiculous sets of features that are unlikely to ever be practical.

http://metavore.org/faff/Botlife.txt is the sketch of what I came up with there.

The main novel aspect would be that it is essentially an MMO, but there is no direct control ability; you can only upload new programs to your robots.

2 points by arethuza 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see a larger scale version of something like Defcon (http://www.introversion.co.uk/defcon/).

Closer to realtime too (rather than a huge multiple) - which would make close to 24x7 interaction necessary, requiring automation, teamwork, mobile device interfaces....

Damn - yet another project to think about :-)

Edit: I've just noticed that they are trying to encourage the development of nuclear war fighting bots within Defcon.

2 points by duck 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I use to be really big into "Robot Auto Racing Sim" (~ 12 years ago):

You would write all the logic of your car in a single C program and then race it against others. It had a visual so you could watch the race or just see the results. At the time I thought the physics engine was pretty realistic, not sure what I would think if I went back to it now though. It was a blast to play with friends.

2 points by Tichy 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I think several games like that exist, of varying complexity. Sorry I don't have names ready :-(

I know WeeWar has an API, but that is probably not the kind of game you have in mind. I think you mean long running simulations with agents trying to survive.

There might even be one by Microsoft, not sure if they are language agnostic, though.

I think there is still room for interesting worlds of that kind.

2 points by astrodust 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested in something like a "WoW for robots" where you navigate through some kind of world using an API and control your character and its interactions all automatically.

If you limit the number of API calls per minute to something reasonable, should be scalable, too.

1 point by Confusion 2 hours ago 0 replies      

  You can't battle your Java AI against your C# or Python AI

In things like realtimebattle and the recent Google AI competition, you most certainly could. This is usually accomplished by routing all commands and their results via the command line.

1 point by d0m 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What I would really like is a RTS (such as starcraft) that let me play realtime, but we my macro preconfigured. To explain a bit more, starcraft let you queue up actions.. (For instance, build this, then go take minerals). However, suppose there was a script language that you could use and use it in all your games.. For instance, this script could take care of scouting the opponent, queuing up workers automatically, etc etc. while you focus mainly on the high level strategy.
2 points by primemod3 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting idea. Final Fantasy 12 is my favorite game that allows you to "script" your characters' moves, but you're only ever fighting against the computer. Incorporating this into a programmable MMO seems like it could be very fun, and somewhat parallel to the way stock markets work with everyone using algorithms to compete against each other.
1 point by madhouse 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I do not know whether something like this exists, but it certainly sounds fun - something I'd probably "waste" a lot of time on.
1 point by Mgccl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Good idea.
I like games where the rules are simple, but the strategies can be complex.
Like chess. Are there bot vs bot chess games around?
1 point by d_mcgraw 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Second Life comes to mind, but its not exactly what you're describing here, but close being user created and all.
1 point by webgambit 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd be up for giving it a shot.
Ask HN: How can I recognize when I don't know what I'm talking about?
18 points by spiffytech 3 hours ago   33 comments top 16
3 points by dasht 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've experienced the same problem. I like to think its mostly fixed now. Here are some things that worked for me:

Don't shy away from the ones that call you out, at least if they are giving you friendly pokes rather than being mean. The way I talk (in casual settings), I grew to like saying stuff like "What?!? Really?!? Oh!. I'm full of s--- then!" The value of these people is that they help you learn to recognize the internal cues of when you might be going off the rails. They can probably sense it in your voice tone and body language before you even get the bogus content fully out. You can learn to recognize that in yourself.

Do watch out if you're one of those (like many of us) who likes to talk a lot about stuff we "know" and likes to talk excitedly and at length. Watch some old cowboy movies that feature smart, strong silent-type heroes. If you don't have one already, buy yourself a cowboy hat as a personal reminder. (Substitute any similar character type for "cowboy" - your style choices are yours.) If you feel like you just have to say every clever thing that pops into your head in a conversation, work on not doing that - even for topics about which your knowledge is definitely good. (As a side effect, this makes conversations more interesting.)

Careful if, like many of us, you find it friendly and fun to tell people "Hah, no, you're wrong there! Let me tell you...." Among some geeks/nerds, that really is fun and playful. Among many people, it's not. It's also one of the leading causes of spouting bogosity, studies have shown.

Remember that its just human nature, nothing new. What was it Mark Twain said? Something like "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble but what you know that just ain't so." Something like that, anyway. Close enough.

2 points by michaelkeenan 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
There's a distinction that I've seen people miss, which I'll describe by example. Suppose you don't know Lisp, but you've seen many respectable people such as Paul Graham and Steve Yegge describe how great Lisp is for metaprogramming. This doesn't mean that you know the fact "Lisp => great for metaprogramming"! What you know is the fact "Many respectable people think => 'Lisp => great for metaprogramming'". This is an important distinction! It means you probably shouldn't talk about Lisp and metaprogramming, and if you do talk, you should make sure that you deliver the right fact, i.e. "I've heard that Lisp is good for metaprogramming", not "Lisp is good for metaprogramming".

> What I fear is looking incredible.

I'd rather that you fear being incredible (which it appears you are).

A resource that helped me think much more precisely about what I know and the level of confidence I have in that is the rationalist writings of Eliezer Yudkowsky. You might like to check out the sequences: http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Sequences

When what you know differs from what is real, you have a problem where your mental map does not match the actual territory. The most important sequence, Map And Territory, addresses that: http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Map_and_Territory_%28sequence...

I also recommend to you the Reductionism sequence: http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Reductionism_%28sequence%29

How often do you say "I don't know"? I think Voltaire was on to something when he wrote: "He must be very ignorant, for he answers every question he is asked."

1 point by todayiamme 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
The greatest thing about you is that at least you admit it.

As a nobody I think that the biggest sign people are venturing into areas where they don't know what the hell they are talking about is when they start using buzz words, technical terms and oft quoted stuff a lot. I think that when people have thought a lot about something, or truly understood it they tend to talk about it in their own words, and they don't talk about terms or something arcane but concepts behind them. They take into context things that just aren't at the surface, and then base their conversation on that.

This isn't a hard and fast rule though. As it varies with a lot of people, but it is really useful for me as I have to turn to 3rd party sources to learn stuff pretty often (a textbook or a teacher is a first and second part resource. You know if you can trust them or not. Online help sources whereas are another game altogether).

10 points by drivebyacct2 1 hour ago 5 replies      
What? You're phrasing something that you don't actually know as a fact that you know? That's called lying. You recognize it by learning to not lie and deceive people as a child.

Not sure what else to tell you. If you're passing off knowledge you pulled out your ass and are getting called on it, maybe you shouldn't do that. If it's speculation or if you're trying to be helpful but don't know for sure, then phrase it that way. Or if you can't take the criticism just keep your nose out of it.

I don't understand where the disconnect is to be honest.

4 points by gregwebs 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I use the advice of PG (which he observed from RTM) http://paulgraham.com/heroes.html

    Don't say anything unless you're fairly sure of it. If you're not omniscient, you just don't end up saying much.

... the trick is to pay careful attention to how you qualify what you say.

Start qualifying everything. Eventually you will stop commenting on subjects you don't know about when your qualification becomes: "well, I don't really know anything about this, but..."

The other aspect of this is to dig deeper into subjects. People think they know something about a topic because they read a couple of blog posts. Dig deeper- look at primary sources. Look at citations. If there aren't citations the statement is suspect, and you will qualify the knowledge as suspect when it comes into your brain, increasing your chances of qualifying when it comes out of your mouth.

2 points by dgabriel 2 hours ago 1 reply      
First, in case you're wondering if you should just keep your trap shut, it's ok to get called out once in a while. It can be embarrassing, but it's part of every learning curve & it will make you smarter, so long as you listen and handle it with grace. There is a lot to know in the world, and you won't be an expert in much, but it's good to share the knowledge you have. It's good for novice observers to see you called out and corrected, and for them to see you reply with appropriate solicitousness.

Second, it's sometimes really hard to know. The best advice is to avoid speaking with absolute authority, unless you have evidence in hand to back up your shit. Even the experts get tripped up occasionally.

I guess my advice boils down to this: embrace being corrected because it means your knowledge has just been expanded, and approach all topics with a modicum of humility.

3 points by d0m 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you focus on the wrong problem. It is ok to be wrong and if someone can prove it to you, be happy to have learn something new and thanks him/her.

Of course, to do that, you need to have an open mind and always act on the safe side. Instead of saying: "You stupid idiot, haskell is not purely functional because there are monads", you're better with "I'm pretty sure haskell..." or "I think Haskell..". This way, you encourage people that might know more than you in that subject to speak and help you instead of aggressively attacking them.

There's nothing wrong in being wrong. And to be honest, I think it's the only way to learn :o

2 points by betageek 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm having this exact same problem with a colleague at the moment and my root cause analysis is that he's not making the right judgement about the knowledge level of the other conversation participants.

I would suggest trying to a) listen and b) gauge the level of experience of the other guys in the conversation. If they have 'doing' knowledge that automatically trumps your 'I read on the internet' knowledge so, yknow, silence is golden - everyone has access to google...

2 points by jsz0 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's good not to adopt strong opinions on things you don't know much about. There are also lots of ways to drop in disclaimers about your (lack of) knowledge so you can still have a good conversation. This results in more learning and less arguing.
3 points by projectileboy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I have the same problem, and so does my dad. My safety catch is to ask myself if I could begin working on a project related to what I'm talking about. If not, then I know I'm full of shit. It doesn't mean you have to stop talking; you just have to let other people know that you're full of shit, and simply making educated guesses.
1 point by gizmomagico 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Actually one of the most annoying aspects of HN is the people who comment on a subject as if they were "laying down the law", even though they're wrong. Speaking with a voice of authority when you don't actually really know that what you're saying is true could be called "spewing bullshit".
2 points by Charuru 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see being proven wrong as a very big deal. Say the wrong things, be proven wrong, and now you know.

Way easier than to second guess yourself every turn.

In startups we talk about failure as an important part of the learning experience, so it applies to life in general too.

1 point by AmberShah 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You can't, all you can do is be open and humble when you're wrong. When you say something that turns out to be incorrect, don't get defensive or extremely, apologetic - a simple "Oh, really. Interesting" will suffice and move on. It can be difficult if the other person is extremely insecure and is trying to shove it in your face that you were wrong, but so long as you yourself are secure then you will be ok with being wrong. The smartest people I know are also the most humble because they are open to new ideas and willing to be wrong.
2 points by dansingerman 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you have a conception of the difference between stuff you "know" (i.e. certain facts that you are sure are correct) and things you "believe to be the case"?

If yes, are the things you get called out on stuff you had previously categorized as stuff you "know"? If so, you need to think on the distinction between the two.

If not, then, what I do is this: If I know something to be correct I am happy to assert it. If I only believe it to be the case, I will caveat it with something like "It is my current understanding that..." and make it clear that I am not the font of all knowledge on the subject, and others may have a more informed opinion.

You can mentally prefix this whole answer with a "It is my current understanding that.."

1 point by stewsnooze 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You could try to only have contentious opinions on topics that you are sure you are right about. On other topics take a listening role until you've heard differing opinions. You could of course offer an opinion you may have as a question:

What do you think of the opinion many people have..which is Do cats always land on their feet...even when they've been buttered e.t.c.

1 point by bpourriahi 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: The Best Books to Keep the Entrepreneurial Mindset?
4 points by agentargo 35 minutes ago   3 comments top 3
1 point by shaunxcode 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Lately I have been reading the biography of Grace Hopper which is essentially about the genesis of programming/programming languages/compilers etc. Super motivating to read about the passion and belief that was required to create out of the ether an entirely new world. http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Information-Lemelson-Studies...
1 point by Jig 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Listen video interviews of some founders at http://mixergy.com/

Founder At Work is really really useful. It is startup biable. If you read it then surely you will get inspired http://www.foundersatwork.com/

1 point by pclark 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've been loving Grumby recently.
Please give some feedback on my brother's startup
4 points by mostly_harmless 1 hour ago   8 comments top 5
1 point by pedalpete 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
I agree with edo that it is very busy and difficult to read. Way too much going on.

However, I think my biggest issue is in the diverse or lack of focus of the site.

Sharing content, and collaborating on ideas is two different things. There are TONS of ways to share content. Digg, Facebook, Twitter, HN, etc. Where does this fit into the picture?

Note that when PG created HN, he didn't just make a space to share any content, it had a focus. Is there a niche collabrr should be targetting?

then there is the 'collaborate ideas', again very broad, which is good for some things, but to collaborate on ideas I think requires some domain knowledge of those ideas. Is there any site today where people collaborate on any random idea.

Do I go to collabrr because I want to collaborate? Or do I go there to discover content? Maybe it's a messaging thing that I'm not getting. At HN, Digg, Reddit,etc. you discover and discuss. You don't collaborate.

So how is this site enabling people to collaborate?

1 point by 27182818284 23 minutes ago 1 reply      
* Not every website is a startup. I don't really see anything startupesque about the site.

* I can't figure out why I would use this rather than Reddit, Hacker News, Digg, or one of the various StackOverflow sites.

* "You cannot collabrr at this time" Just call it posting already.

* Links on one page are the same color as non-links on a different page.

* I find the interface in general to be clunky

* I'm not sure what you mean by "drag" content during post creation. It didn't work for me in Google Chrome at all.

2 points by edo 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
1. Visually too 'busy'. My eyes don't know where to go, and the interface is probably too complex.

2. "Interact with others" is an incredibly non-descriptive slogan, call it "Realtime Digg" instead. I don't 'get it' soon enough. Visitors should see what this is and why it is awesome for them, within 10 seconds.

3. Entices me to start chatting, but then dissapoints me by saying I need to login first. I suggest you remove the login requirement for chatting.

Looks like an interesting concept, just needs a little more polished execution.

1 point by lhorie 30 minutes ago 1 reply      
How is this better than Slashdot/Reddit/Digg/whatever if it has less users and I have to wait until someone is actually online and willing to chat about a particular topic, instead of just posting a comment and checking back later like I'd do in one of the sites I mentioned?

Also, how does it deal with spam/abuse/hate speech, etc?

And if it's a start-up, how is going to make money? (I assume ads, so where will it be getting users from?)

1 point by RiderOfGiraffes 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
Test-drive the public API for our real-time prediction market
19 points by jamii 5 hours ago   5 comments top 2
2 points by chasingsparks 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Do you have any more documentation (other than http://smarkets.com/faq/#betting_matching) on your order matching?

I assume it's like any other call market with price (odds) and time precedence, but I'm still curious.

1 point by dtby 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Are all of your gaming activities under the Maltese license?

Sorry if this is too business and non-HN oriented. I will remove this question, if requested.

Ask HN: Recommend some "essays with code" like Norvig's sudoku solver
4 points by jonp 2 hours ago   1 comment top
1 point by jonp 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Clickable links:

Sudoku solver: http://norvig.com/sudoku.html

Spelling corrector: http://norvig.com/spell-correct.html

Ask HN: Is there a design equivalent for HN
4 points by stewsnooze 2 hours ago   3 comments top
2 points by duck 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Maybe http://dribbble.com? I don't have an account, but it seems like that give you what you are looking for and have a niche group as well.
Ask HN: How does Mint.com works?
23 points by grep 6 hours ago   31 comments top 9
12 points by djb_hackernews 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Straight screen scrapin' yo. I worked for a similar startup that collected more detailed information than yodlee/mint, it was a product for financial managers instead of consumers. We collected over a 1mil transactions per night from over 3000 financial institutions. It was no joke. You might think screen scraping is silly but the bottom line is if a bank had an api (OFX, and very few do offer OFX) or formatted data downloads(csv,xls) the data tended to be stale or incorrect. Reasoning behind that is more eyeballs are on the web pages and so bugs/inconsistencies are noticed quicker. There was more of an expectation for the web pages to be accurate.
13 points by pw 6 hours ago 3 replies      
At least prior to their acquisition by Intuit, Mint's backend was powered by Yodlee. This TechCrunch article provides a little background: http://techcrunch.com/2009/09/18/mint-is-yodlees-youtube/
2 points by billybob 4 hours ago 2 replies      
"How do they get the data" doesn't seem mysterious once you give them your logins. "Is this safe and why or why not" is the question I'd be much rather have answered.
1 point by niels_olson 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Last I looked into this, Yodlee's security pages were a good place to start because they have a lot of the key words to look up.


A lot of the "how" is meeting security wickets (physical, application, transport, audit, examination).

3 points by angilly 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not screen-scraping. They use Yodlee and CashEdge.
1 point by smackfu 4 hours ago 1 reply      
They do use Yodlee but you still raise some interesting questions. Should the bank really be allowing access by a third party using stored two-factor credentials?
1 point by grep 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Maybe someone from inDinero could join the conversation?
2 points by gcb 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Did quicken back then also used screen scrapping?
Most banks at the time didn't even had websites.
0 points by hardik 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Think it should be "How mint.com works?" or "How does mint.com work?"
Ask HN: Should I get investment?
8 points by jacksoncarter 5 hours ago   15 comments top 9
3 points by ohashi 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I am curious who the customers for this are? How come you need 250k if the price tag is pretty big at 500/month or 5k/month? Why do you need 250k?

If 250k for to last you 1 year (12 months) =~ 21k /month
or 4 medium business accounts or 40 small biz accounts.

If there was some product adoption like you hint at, I can't see why you would be asking for such a small amount of money.

I feel like you're hiding something... "Everyone who knows about the product thinks it's absolutely amazing." and "I do have paying customers"... so where is the money? Is your pricing/business model flawed and you've had some people try it really cheap but not willing to pay those advertised prices?

Another issue I see is "Customers who can understand it love it." Why don't others understand it? Looking at your site it wasn't exactly clear what it does. Does your mother understand it? How about your grandmother? If you can explain it to them, your target customers shouldn't be a problem.

2 points by michael_dorfman 5 hours ago 1 reply      
If you've got a product with paying customers, and a business plan that shows how an additional $250K in capital will bring you X% growth over Y years, you're definitely in a position to pitch to VC/Angels.

So, make some telephone calls, and set up some appointments with VC/Angels in your local area. Try to avoid the instinct to deliver the pitch over the phone; just paint the picture in broad strokes, and try to get the meeting.

Seriously: what's the problem?

1 point by gyardley 3 hours ago 0 replies      
'Knocking on doors' won't work - that's just not how money is raised. Even if it got you meetings, the amount you need is lower than a Sand Hill Road VC invests. You need angel investors or 'seed stage' funds. Happily, there's lots of those. You also need a warm introduction from someone who knows them. This you can get through a little networking.

'Venture Hacks' is probably the best online 'how to raise money' resource.

2 points by shafqat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you tell us what the product is, there's a much higher likelihood of getting help. In fact, there are people here who might invest. FWIW, I can certainly introduce you to angels/VCs who will take a meeting, but I'd have to know more about your business first. So bottom line: share!
4 points by vgurgov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are looking for just $250k you should rather start with angels. Too small amount for most VCs.
1 point by dmillar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
To start any business you have to take risk. You've gotten this far with your idea, the worst that can happen is they say no. But, now you've got experience pitching to VCs.

Understand that the fear of rejection is just that: fear. It's part of the risk. Sometimes, rejection can be a damn good motivator.

1 point by findm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry, you might have "paying customers" and they might think it's amazing but I'm going to have to disagree with you on your perception of good. I don't quite understand what your product is, does or what problem it's solving or who it's even for and there's no immediate wow-I-get-it-ness to it. Custom Software App builder? Why do I need it? Is it even that? Are you building apps for people? Judging by the language on your site the level of sophistication needed to use your product, the person should be able build it themselves.

I highly doubt that anyone would give you money and why $250,000? how will that accomplish anything? It just seems like a finger in a wind number. Refine your idea then refine it some more. You're getting high on your own idea.

Your website is really off-center when browsed in chrome, try looking at it at 1024 screen.

2 points by SemanticFog 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You should seriously think about finding some advisors before you raise money. The time and expense is well worth the effort.

Set up a board of advisors for your company, and try to get 1-3 successful entrepreneurs in your field (or related fields) to serve on it. Give them a bit of equity. Talk to them individually, but also try to get them all in one room at least once.

You can reach potential advisors through networking events, through service providers like lawyers, and by just emailing them (repeatedly if necessary). You might want to start by hiring a lawyer or accountant who is connected in the community, and asking for help with intros.

Among other things, your board of advisors will help you understand the type of investor that makes sense for you. If you're trying to raise $250K to ramp a business up to a few million/yr, then odds are no one on Sand Hill Rd will be interested. But that doesn't mean it's a bad business -- you just have to look elsewhere for investment.

2 points by davidw 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Now I'm curious what it is.
Ask HN: Have a favourite Web Programing website?
3 points by endergen 2 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: Does having a family makes you less of a startup material?
9 points by k7d 7 hours ago   6 comments top 6
5 points by justinchen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently had a daughter and I've found that there's 2 things going on:

1) I'm generally more focused and efficient when I work since time is more scarce.

2) I'm more motivated now since I've got the little one depending on me. The instinct to provide for another is a powerful one.

1 point by kls 3 hours ago 0 replies      
With a family, freelancing and consulting is your friend. It allows you the flexibility in schedule to pursue ideas and to work with other individuals that are in the start-up arena. You meet a lot of young companies in that line of work and you see a variety of problems. If you find a group who has an idea that you like but they cant provide a paying gig yet, you can scale your freelancing to provide the necessities while allowing you the free time to commit to a project. I freelance and consult for 3-4 days of my week, take weeks off at a time and still do well over 150k a year this gives me time to peruse the back log of ideas that me and two of my close friends have. I have 4 kids, a wife and grandparents that I take care of and I can say without a doubt that I have never felt more secure in my life than when I started freelancing. Well technically that is not true, I had a moderately sizable exit from the sale of a travel company that it gave me a nest egg, but even if that was not there, I would feel more secure than someone else making decisions about my future.

Point being, get out of your day job and into freelancing first. Get to where you are working your 40hr week and another 40hr steady freelancing, this will allow you to build a nest egg while you are making the transition, then when you are getting 40hr a week freelancing and it is steady dump the day job, then start scaling your hours back freelancing until you meet an equilibrium of money to free-time to pursue projects.

1 point by dryicerx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't make you any less of startup material at all, it just puts you in a different environment.

The original advice comes because when you're young and single, you are without obligations, nothing to lose, able to take more risks, being naive (which can be good and bad), and being agile both location wise and time wise.

Said that, if you do have a family, I think that has a set of it's own advantages such forcing you to manage time better, likely to go after ventures that are more likely to succeed, and having a family behind you for support.

1 point by exline 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it is a risk factor. I was almost not hired at a startup specifically because the owner was worried about the level of risk I was taking with wife/kids/house etc. That's a good boss to have, one looking out for me. Things turned out fine.

Personally, it does alter the level of risk I'm willing to take. Pre kids, I'd be willing to risk a lot more. Having kids makes me value my time which does force me to be focused. I'm willing to work long hours, but I split the time up. I work until 4-5 and spend time with the family. If there is work to be done, I'm back on after the kids are in bed. This could present a problem at some startups.

1 point by LeBlanc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'll point you to some articles written by people more experienced than I at this:

anti-family: - Jason Friedman

Pro-family: - Vivek Wadhwa

Hope you find these helpful. Good luck!

1 point by Charuru 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's because you're older and is able to manage your time more maturely.

Maybe having people that depends on you makes you more responsible.

Ask HN: My web app is going viral. Now what?
14 points by theli0nheart 22 hours ago   12 comments top 7
1 point by elg0nz 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Get Feedback from your users.
Find ways for them to play more with your site, for example even though reddit is a text only place there are lots of games users play like ITAP or GoneWild or AMA, what you should try to do is find ways for your users to play that kind of games.

Another good example is also Chatroulette where users play games like Tilt your head, Play you a song, show you the bird, etc.

7 points by thetrumanshow 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Do this and feel good about it:

  * Create a leaderboard for your 'cheerleaders' (ie. the most cheery people).

* Let them send eachother virtual gifts. Make all but a few of them free.

Do this and take a pill in order to sleep at night:

  * Automate the creation of 'sad' entries. (Just enough to make your 'cheerleaders' feel important, but not too much, or they will feel spammed)

* Automate the sending of free gifts, send to lots of 'sad' people. Basically, here you're trying to seem like a vibrant gift-giving community.

* Automate the sending of premium gifts, send to only a few 'sad' people. To set a precedent for paid gifts. Be sure to show this on your front page, and somewhere in your app.

* After a real-life user posts a 'sad' entry, immediately redirect them to Facebook to share their sadness, thus increasing the spread.

1 point by sga 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Any updates on the number of visitors?
6 points by icey 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Find a few "cheery" books and products on Amazon and put them on your page with an affiliate link.
2 points by instakill 5 hours ago 0 replies      
In your header banner, remove the .info from the clickable link. It looks spammy.

Put a small border around the paragraph below it so that it looks as if the page has structure to it.

After you cheer someone up, you're sent to a page saying thanks. Make that page automatically redirect the person to the home page after a few seconds.

3 points by adrianwaj 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Make the site as best as possible, given your concept is sound. Check out: http://www.thathigh.com/
Maybe have a follow up section, where users can build a story, leading hopefully to a shared resolution.
1 point by famfam 21 hours ago 1 reply      
High unlikely your app is going "viral". It's probably on the front page of something big. Uhh, can't you look at the referrer logs to find out where?
Ask HN: Any good suggestion for marketing a new startup service?
6 points by bear330 14 hours ago   8 comments top 5
2 points by coryl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
1) Target bloggers who would use your service or write about your service. The trick is finding them, and finding enough of them. Here's what you can try that has had a bit of success for me: You google keywords looking for bloggers who write about competing services. So if you compete with Chargify, you look for "using chargify", "like chargify", "chargify vs", "saas billing" + "chargify". Skim through the search results and titles, look for blogs and click through. You want people who reviewed chargify, signed up for it, compared it to another service, etc. Just copy the URL to your google doc so you can contact them later, build up a list for now. Its best to go through at least 5 google page results, more if your patient.

2) Once you've got a list ready, go through each blog post, read a bit so you can refer to it, or filter if its not relevant. Find the contact page (CTRL + F 'contact'), usually a form or email will be available. Your pitch will look something like, "Hi my name is ____. I saw your blog post about how chargify was _______. I found that a lot of saas app publishers really like how chargify does x well, but were frustrated by (lack of feature, high cost, etc.). I'm actually working on an app that....Do you think this is a service you'd use? If not, thanks for your time. Or if you'd like to blog a review about us, I'd be happy to tell you more."

3) Like all pitches, some will be ignored, some will be interested, some will pay you right away. Reply promptly of course, within hours if possible.

4) You can try repeating the process of finding blogs through Technorati or Google Blogs, though they have their own issues. Technorati only indexes recent blog posts I believe. Google Blog search is filled with spammers.

5) Repeat the cycle by identifying different types of users who might use your product. This can be difficult because you've probably ingrained the ideal target market user into your psyche. It will also depend on the size and diversity of your market in general.

Good luck.

2 points by dmor 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a lot to say about this, depending on your product and your market (which I haven't seen). Here are a couple key thoughts:

* Adwords are great, but spending money before you know what kind of conversion you are able to get from natural SEO isn't a good idea. You can always buy traffic, make sure you have the right funnel first - image it is a pipe you are trying to make as wide and friction-free as possible. I think Adwords works great if you are selling a product similar to something already in the market

* forums, blogs, etc. have a very short lifespan so you should expect you will get peaks from high buzz items (like a post doing well here on HN) and it will trail off after that, if you can retain 5-10% that's great. You have to consistently crank out new relevant content.

2 points by PaulZhao 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This goes more into web marketing, depending on what product you're selling.

If you're looking for just "sales", Adwords is great because you can target very precisely who you want visiting your site, as long as you accumulate enough data to understand what's working and what's not. I currently manage a $150k monthly adwords account. For example, a small/mid sized account could have 20k keywords, out of those, 1k will get clicked on per month, 200 would be the "top 50% traffic" keywords, and out of the 200, maybe 50 will generate sales/leads for you. Those are the things you need to understand on a monthly basis, and as soon as you pick up the pattern for which words are the 200/50, increase bids on the 50 and get rid of the ones you're spending a lot of money on and not converting to sales/leads.

If you're looking for just traffic over a long term, I'd recommend the following:

1. SEO - if you can rank for popular keywords relevant to your site, you'll have new visitors from search engines every day. Depending on your SEO strategy, you can be targeting 5 "top tier keywords" that're tough to rank, or 100 "2nd tier keywords" that requires effort, but not all all-day every-day type efforts. Or you could try to optimize dynamically for hundreds of thousands of product names using good SEO practices on your dynamic pages. Obviously link acquisition is a big part of it as well.

2. Link acquisition - getting a link from a popular spot can cause you a "spike" in traffic for a day or two, and if you can keep writing "link-generating content", you can try to repeat the traffic spike from different sources. There're some "theories" on what type of content people link to, such as breaking news before everyone else, top 10 lists, controversy, useful free tool, etc.

3. Brand awareness - getting your name out so everyone (in your target demographic market) knows your brand name. In that case, I'd recommend buying banners - most work on a CPM basis, which is just a fancy term for "Cost per 1000 banner views". Depending on which source you go with, and how targeted of a website/demographic you want to go with,1000 views of your banner will usually cost you anywhere between 30 cents to $5.

Of course, all this depends on the product/service you provide. If all you do is sell car batteries online, then there's no real reason for people to come back to your site once they buy one.

Good luck,
-- Paul Zhao

2 points by LeBlanc 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It sounds like the problem you are having is user retention. You get people to your site, but they don't end up sticking around to use your tool/service on a daily basis. This means that you do not have a strong enough value proposition (or you are marketing to the wrong people, but more likely the former).

Try to get feedback from the people who tried your website but then left. Repost to the blogs you posted to and try to see what the people who tried it think, and why they didn't up leaving.

Also, make sure your website is solving a real problem. Your site may be 'useful' but unless it solves a problem that currently really really frustrates people, nobody is going to want to spend the effort to go to your site and use your tool unless the problem is solves is really big, and your solution is awesome.

I could give more specific advice if I knew anything about your site. Good luck!

1 point by pwim 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems the site mentioned in the article, http://www.korekt.me/, suffered from the same problem. It looks like they have given up. To build a successful service is a lot of work, and takes quite some time.
Ask HN: any recommendations for asset management?
4 points by hyuen 9 hours ago   discuss
Mountain View Hacker House - One room available
14 points by jmtame 1 day ago   1 comment top
2 points by quadhome 1 day ago 0 replies      
Non Software Startups
6 points by Gianteye 9 hours ago   1 comment top
3 points by stretchwithme 9 hours ago 0 replies      
my company Deep Therapeutics is working on automating massage for physical therapy. And there will be software involved too. Right now its one man and a vision.
The Impossible Function (a C puzzler)
4 points by phaedrus 10 hours ago   3 comments top 2
1 point by sajid 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You may be able to do it like this:

    typedef int *func_ptr;

Declare a function:

    func_ptr some_func(func_ptr);

Call a function (recursive example):

    some_func((func_ptr) &some_func);

1 point by mfukar 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Could you indent the function definition (without the typedef), please? It is near impossible to read.
Reddit Search now powered by IndexTank - our product
23 points by diego 22 hours ago   5 comments top 4
2 points by macca321 21 hours ago 1 reply      
cool. I was thinking about setting up a hosted lucene thing after watching my friend trying to get solr to do 'did you mean searches' - of course I didn't do it so kudos to you!

The thing is, you're going to have to be very clear about QOS, future pricing, vendor lockin etc. before you can get people with established businesses to sign up to it.

1 point by HyprMusic 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Did you have to convince them or did they come to you?
1 point by jhaddon 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Hacker Houses with Vacancy?
20 points by jacoblyles 18 hours ago   8 comments top 6
1 point by dnsworks 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Jacob, stick in the peninsula or south bay, San Francisco is frustratingly expensive with a really broken housing market. The last 2 months of my life have been devoted to finding the right apartment, and I think I'm leaving San Francisco because of it (and I've been in SF for 10 years). Your life will be easier if you don't try to do anything cool but accept that the only reason you're in the bay area it to succeed in business and leave.
3 points by ether 17 hours ago 1 reply      
What is a hacker house? I even visited that site http://hackerhouse.bluwiki.com and googled it, but not much explanation.
1 point by arram 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey Jacob,

SF-HH here. We're full up, but you're welcome to crash for a few days while you're looking for a place. My email's in the profile.

1 point by jakek 12 hours ago 0 replies      
From http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1533796 :

The Mountain View Hacker House has a room opening up August 15th, if you're interested (or know someone interested) please contact jake@noteleaf.com. Thanks!

1 point by iamwil 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey jacob, the Mountain View HH has an opening. email jake at noteleaf.com
Ask HN: Why are there so few apps being built with JSP?
36 points by idleworx 1 day ago   84 comments top 31
19 points by 10ren 1 day ago 1 reply      
My opinion. It's partly because teams who do webapps tend to be small, young and agile. First, prejudices: they prefer new things (Java is old); they dislike the environment that is Java's home (big enterprise) and the practices and personalities types that go with it (perfectionistic, professional, conservative).

Second, real reasons: Java is verbose and statically typed, and therefore it takes more work to make changes - it is slower to develop in and less flexible/agile. These things really count when you want to try out an idea; and when you need to adapt it. There's also a community effect, where all those early adopters are working with Ruby/Python, that's the platform cool stuff gets developed for (eg. sinatra, github, haml).

Technically, it's possible to write a sinatra in Java (I have; using annotations for urls); but who would use it? I actually love Java myself, including its static typing, and use it in my startup. But when I've played with Ruby - even as a novice without knowing the tricks - I found it much quicker to develop in, and the code easier to understand because less cluttered. It's probably not as reliable; and the code doesn't run as fast; but these things just don't matter for prototypes and early versions.

15 points by iamelgringo 23 hours ago 4 replies      
For me, it's purely emotional.

My last class at Uni 2 years ago was a survey of web dev technologies. We built sites using ASP.NET, Perl, PHP and JSP. Java and asp.net were tied for worst experience ever. Setup and configuration of the Java stack was 2/3rds of the project. And, that's after taking 2 years of Java in school. Setting up a Java stack on a Ubuntu or a Windows box was equally as painful for me at the time.

My experience at school as made me loathe to try anything Java related. And, while I love the idea of the jvm, I have a pretty visceral emotional reaction to anything java related. I know it's wrong, but I can't even bring myself to do the installation required to mess around with Clojure or Scala.

I get the same vibe from a number of young developers I come across at Hackers and Founders SV meetups that have recently graduated from school. Someone mentions Java at our meetups and everyone at the table groans.

Python and Ruby are essentially lingua franca here in Silicon Valley startup culture, with C and C++ mixed in for speed. I've settled on Python/Django for day to day dev work.

In my case, even though Clojure and Scala look really sexy. The thought of installing a jvm based development environment makes me break out into a cold sweat. If I'm going to play around with a "sexy" language to learn stuff I'm going to play with Haskell, Erlang, or O'Caml, just to avoid using the jvm.

13 points by roam 1 day ago 3 replies      
I prefer scripting languages over a pure Java stack simply because I can reload the page and see what's happening with the new code. Yes, you can use JRebel, hook up a debugger and tweak settings to get some hot code replacement, but they've always failed me at one point or another, resulting in hours of fun. The compile-check-fix-compile cycle gets under my skin, especially when you're using frameworks and libraries that take a minute to bootstrap.

The JSTL is not a factor in speeding up development. A lot of people even prefer a Velocity or Freemarker template engine when they are using Java. And I've never worked with MyBatis but have done plenty of projects with Hibernate/JPA and let me tell you: I've often come at a point in a project where I was wondering how much time I had saved by not writing the easy SQL queries and how much time I had lost by trying to work around some random restriction in the Hibernate API. For all the "hate" Django's ORM gets, I've never run into the same obstacles.

With all that said, the Play! framework addresses a lot of these issues and is a lot more fun to work with.

12 points by mindcrime 1 day ago 0 replies      
From what I've seen/heard, I think the lack of cheap hosting was one of the biggest things that kept Java from catching on as a preferred platform for the kinds of webapps that you see people building with PHP and/or RoR. That problem has, IMO, been mitigated somewhat by the emergence of cheap VPS providers... now hosting is hosting, and what you run on your server is entirely up to you. But by the time cheap VPS's became commonplace, it had become "cool" to hate Java. And, to be fair, there is a little more of a learning curve to get started with Java and most of the Java based webapp stacks, compared to, say, RoR or whatever.

Also, to be fair, other platforms have "caught up" to what were some of the early advantages of Java. For example, at one time I would have cited JMS and the easy accessibility of async messaging from Java as a big advantage. But now there are a bazillion messaging systems and most (if not all) of the major ones have easy to use client libraries in Perl, Python, Ruby, etc.

OTOH, Groovy/Grails brings a lot of the advantages of a RoR type framework to a JVM based ecosystem, as does Rails on JRuby, so more and more things are evolving to where the various platforms are approaching parity.

6 points by samdk 23 hours ago 2 replies      
The biggest problem with Java webapp development, in my opinion, is its ridiculous obsession with XML. I can't count the number of hours I've wasted debugging obscure errors only to discover that I had a minor syntax error in my XML configuration files. In a framework like Rails, 90% of what I have to specify in those XML config files is assumed by default anyway, and almost all of the rest is done as Ruby code, which means I get actually intelligent errors when something is wrong.

Basically, it seems to me like Java web development uses XML as a dynamic programming language when they're trying to do something Java's not well-suited for. The issue is that XML has absolutely no type-checking at all, and so you end up with errors that make absolutely no sense when the only issues you have are simple typos.

The problem is even worse because you seem to end up having to specify the same information in so many different places, and having mistakes in just one of those will prevent anything from working.

I am sure there are ways around this, but the whole point is that if you're using a framework like Rails, you don't need to deal with any of this. It all just works, and having wasted months of time on Java web dev, I want to deal with a system that just works, not a system that requires ten or twenty kludgey three- and four-letter band-aids to get it to behave intelligently.

4 points by lukev 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually, there are far more apps being built on various Java stacks than the alternatives - it's just that the people using them collect a paycheck and go home at 5 rather than blogging about it. The heavyweight, large business and government market is almost exclusively Java

Also, lots of people judge Java frameworks based on monstrosities like J2EE, Struts or Spring. But there are several very nice, truly lightweight Java frameworks, and even more for alternative JVM languages. The Java stack often does suck, but it doesn't have to suck.

5 points by mark_l_watson 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Although I use Rails for most web apps that I do now, there was a period from about 11 years ago to about 5 years ago that JSP was the sweet spot for me. I would put a lot of embedded Java in JSPs, and as an app matured, I migrated the code to custom tag libraries (easy to write once you have everything working in JSPs).

For me part of the lure of JSP apps was that I really liked Tomcat as a development and deployment platform. For apps that needed a lot of background processing, I started work threads in servlet init methods, and liked having everything in one JVM.

I had one app running without restart for several years until my customer's admins let the server run out of free disk space. I am not at all confident of a Rails app running for 3 to 4 years with no restarts.

To answer your question: I might still choose JSP for high volume web apps. For apps with a modest number of users, Rails makes more sense for me.

3 points by garyrichardson 1 day ago 2 replies      
On the low end, I've always thought java has a significant disadvantage: memory footprint. In particular, this is compared to PHP/Perl/RoR/etc.

When you start your java app you pre-allocate all the memory you're going to need for the process' lifetime. This could be 512MB, this could be 2GB+, but it's never small. And this is unaffected by your initial traffic volume. It's the same for 0.001 hits/sec or 5 hits/sec.

On the other hand, if you drop a bunch of PHP scripts on a server, Apache only uses the memory it needs. Sure, you may have some pain scaling it later, but to get up and running you can get a cheap server and run your code.

Also, while I have your attention, have you ever tried installing an enterprise java webapp? It's not like you can pile a bunch of them into one JVM on a machine. I run confluence/jira/bamboo. Each has it's own requirements and basically need to run in their own tomcat servers tuned with their own settings. It's a huge PITA and eats up a ton of memory.

5 points by Tichy 1 day ago 5 replies      
Just to set up one of the Java frameworks you list is already a lot of work and a lot of wrangling of XML.

Without frameworks, it is probably OK if you already have a working web.xml. I used to just copy my working web.xml and modify it. Good luck if you want to create a working web.xml from scratch, though. The specification for a proper web.xml is a PDF with several 100 pages (last time I looked, a couple of years ago), and to parse it you basically need a scanner for XML specification files in your brain.

That is only for creating the working web.xml. Specifications for JSP and JSTL are several hundred pages on top of that.

3 points by narrator 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a Java developer in my day to day work but I'll give a few reasons:

1. The memory footprint of the JVM is significantly larger for a similar app vs. PHP. Also, it requires a lot of tricky JVM option tweaking to get it to work in anything less than about 512mb.

2. The build environment is really heavy weight and complicated. Maven seemed crazy at first though working with it for a while finally got me used to it. It's still crazy complicated compared to rails/python.

3. Lack of code reloading when you hit refresh. JavaRebel fixes this, for a price.

4. Java code is really verbose. You have to become an expert at a lot of IDE features before you can get decent productivity. You absolutely cannot use a simple text editor or anything less than one of the big 3 IDEs (Eclipse, Net Beans, Intellij) and get anywhere.

The future is bright though for the JVM. I have started to work more with Scala/Lift lately and I am really blown away at how fast and powerful it is compared to traditional Java development.

4 points by arete 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't speak for PHP but if you follow the usual Rails conventions for db structure, URL layouts, etc then it takes significantly less time to build (and maintain) a Rails site vs Java EE.

Simply collecting all of your Java libraries, frameworks, dependencies, etc and getting them running in your app server can take days. Minor changes like adding a db column can end up touching nearly every layer.

All these costs do have benefits. Java ORMs generate much more efficient queries than ActiveRecord, have more flexible querying, and better fit into existing schemas; JSP engines can render tens of thousands of pages per second; Java app servers are easily clustered; and much more. But most of that isn't something small or medium web apps use, so why pay the price?

3 points by neovive 1 day ago 1 reply      
From my own experience of working with Java/JSP at work and PHP for side projects (I'm also learning Python), it comes down to developer productivity -- rapid application development, deployment speed and developer experience. For most small- to medium-size projects, you can achieve the same results in Java, PHP, Python, Ruby and even ASP, but the journey towards completion varies greatly across languages and tools.

IMHO deployment on the Java stack is not as fun. Time spent configuring Tomcat, Ant, and compiling code adds-up, especially for a basic web app or prototype. The Java stack also has a larger learning curve for beginners.

However, if you work on "enterprise" applications, especially ERP, finance and banking, Java is currently the lingua franca.

1 point by sethg 23 hours ago 0 replies      
One can make a case that when a team of developers uses JSP in the context of the entire Java EE stack, it gets certain advantages that outweigh the overhead of developing and maintaining all of JEE’s moving parts. My last experience with JEE was pretty horrific (portlets! Java Faces! madness!), so I am not eager to try this again, but at least an argument can be made in favor of JEE for certain applications.

If you take away the rest of the stack and are just using JSPs... why bother? I have found a certain comfort zone using Django and I’m not going to switch to a different framework or language just because it’s possible; I would want to know why that alternative gives me a significant advantage over what I’m doing now.

2 points by tzs 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to write desktop apps and also do drivers and VxDs for Windows. One of the things I strongly disliked about that work is that you are working in an environment where there is a huge amount of infrastructure that you are intimately dependent upon and that is hidden from you.

Java brings that kind of thing to the server, and I want no part of it.

1 point by sqrt17 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually, you can code very nice lightweight apps using an embedded servlet container like Jetty, a JSP library, and an ORM (MyBatis or Hibernate). Which is kind of like the idea of a microframework.

I've used it for a demo I've made (some NLP stuff in Java that needed a web frontend, but where running it under Tomcat would have been like the tail wagging the dog) and it worked quite well.

I guess that all the people who want a microframework to get small things done efficiently have moved away from Java at this point, appalled by the whole J2EE circus. And once you have something as elaborate as the J2EE stack as it's meant to be, JSPs are not a good fit, because they don't enforce a separation between presentation and business logic.

5 points by jefft 23 hours ago 0 replies      
IMHO the answer is here in this thread... which would you choose?

a) php
b) rails
c) Java + JSP/Servlets/JSTL/Tiles/Struts/Spring/JSF/Play/Wicket/GWT/Stripes/Tapestry/WebObjects

3 points by rryyan 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I think Java and its plethora of frameworks makes new developers feel overwhelmed. Python clearly has Django, Ruby clearly has Rails, Java has... what? Struts? Spring? Tiles? Servlets? JSPs? Tag libraries? Where do you start?

To an outsider, it feels like there is a mountain of material to wade through before you can really get going with a Java webapp; for Python and Ruby, the perceived barrier to entry is much lower.

2 points by jedwhite 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Try out Google App Engine's Java support and the Eclipse plug-in, and if you're after a Java framework check out GWT.

I love Python and work in it almost entirely now, but previously worked with Java (yes I know the joke about them being the same with the whitespace re-arranged).

GAE gets rid of most of the configuration and scaling pain. Plus it's free to get started. There are some limitations, but essentially it makes deploying Java web apps a snap.


2 points by tomjen3 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Because it is an abomination - it has less power than most of the other template frameworks available for Python and Ruby, and the tag libraries require mountains of XML if you want to write your own.

Now the basic servlet idea is pretty damn nice, and once you have your code written final deployment isn't that bad.

1 point by kp212 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I know that Fleaflicker which was posted here was a java based app. So they are out there, but I think more of them are from the 2000-2003 time frame. Has anyone here gone from the Java Stack to RoR? What would you recommend to anyone making that transition? I want to make my next project a "learn a new lang" web project. I fairly strong understanding of the Java MVC(Spring, Struts 1), and DB transactional frameworks(Spring JDBC, Hibernate) and wonder what I should be reading for a transition?
1 point by noodle 22 hours ago 0 replies      
i do java at work, and ruby/python/php at home. for me, its simple.

java and its frameworks are too bureaucratic. getting things done requires too much. in an enterprise environment with lots of developers, this is good. in an agile, rapid development type of environment with a small handful of people, this is bad.

the closest thing that i've come across that made me want to consider java apps development is grails.

2 points by nirav 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Three reasons I can think of, in order of time to get things done:

1. Availability, ease of use of Java based hosting provider

2. Time from writing code to live deployments

3. Lack of agile frameworks like rails, django or any other php framework (hot code reload etc.).

4 points by paolomaffei 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It takes you 10 periods of time in JSP to do what you can do in PHP in 1 period of time.
2 points by smitjel 21 hours ago 0 replies      
You're asking this question on a site that is "startup focused" which means they aren't going to have a team of 20 developers churning out java byte code...they're going to be using more modern, dynamic languages like Python and Ruby because the popular full-stack frameworks that are behind Python and Ruby are better suited to get ideas off the ground as opposed to the monolithic JEE stack.
3 points by grandalf 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I find javadoc very ugly and annoying to look at. Dumb reason, I know but I can't get past it.
2 points by dkberktas 21 hours ago 0 replies      
-steep learning curve compared to rails, django, grails, etc
- lots of configuration (I mean a lot, no convention over configuration)
- application servers are not easy, tomcat can be a nightmare in term of rapid deployment/undeploy routines, just think about heroku on the other hand
1 point by drivebyacct2 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I actually have come to enjoy java servers/services this summer at my internship, but there is no way in hell I'll ever do anything with JSP, ever.
1 point by thenduks 22 hours ago 2 replies      
A few major reasons:

- The verbosity of Java wears on me very quickly.

- I can't stand working in an IDE.

- Documentation is abysmal.

- I'm not familiar with the ecosystem (so I don't know what to use and when -- What's 'Struts'? What's 'Tiles'?) and there doesn't seem to be a place to learn.

1 point by msencenb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't speak for everyone but the reasoning behind my choice of php is 3 fold 1) Ease of set-up 2) I'm simply more comfortable with php 3) Better online resources / documentation

In the end it came down to picking a language I was comfortable in and could start moving forward the fastest with.

1 point by keefe 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My server is in java and I hate jsp's. I prefer rest with json and a thickish client. imho jsps muddy mvc design.
1 point by ww520 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's the competency barrier.
Ask HN: Open source iPhone tethering app?
4 points by tworats 14 hours ago   2 comments top
1 point by gojomo 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: So i am down to Ext.js or Sproutcore
3 points by EasyCompany 13 hours ago   5 comments top 2
1 point by pixelcort 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Haven't looked at Ext.js lately, but SproutCore has a pretty solid client-side ORM, as well as excellent KVO/KVB and a useful computed property system (think of them as observable getter/setter functions that appear like any other property from the outside).

The view layer is okay, although it takes some time getting used to. It does, however, focus heavily on performance, which you mentioned is important.

Regarding versions of SproutCore, I'd highly recommend sticking to keeping up to date with the master branch on GitHub. The released version (1.0) is missing some nice performance and bug fixes found in the master branch. There is also another branch that is focusing on a new theme and view rendering system but I haven't looked at it recently.

For documentation, docs.sproutcore.com is nice, but nothing beats reading the source code for this framework. There's also the mailing list and #sproutcore on IRC.

1 point by japanesejay 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I use dojo toolkit for our web app development. In the past, we've evaluated YUI and ext.js too. All are great frameworks but it all depends what you are doing and how comfortable you are working with js. If its simple widgety stuff, maybe even jquery would be sufficient?

Also take a look at cappuccino.org. They have an interesting approach in web app development.

Good luck!

Ask HN: Is Posterous too Ambitious (specifically: Flickr)
5 points by ebun 16 hours ago   7 comments top 3
1 point by duck 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think so. Flickr is great for a lot of people, but is great for everyone that currently uses it? No. It doesn't have the personal touch that a tumblr type site has nor the flexibility. Plus you are locked in (I haven't used Flickr in a long time, but maybe it is more open now?) with it.

Posterous and Tumblr (my favorite of the two) have made blogs about as easy as using Twitter (or Facebook) and there is a lot of market for them to go after.

1 point by jakarta 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't see anything too wrong with their approach. It's basically:

heads I win, tails I don't lose much.

1 point by sabj 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not? I think Posterous is right to go for everyone (just about) and as a user I appreciate that.

I wish TweetDeck had posterous support :( and I wish there was better integration into my Android world.

Ask HN: What is the most important field of CS for startups?
11 points by gfr 23 hours ago   9 comments top 4
3 points by dutchrapley 23 hours ago 2 replies      
There is no spoon, there is no important, silver bullet field. There is no golden standard formula creating a successful startup.

In math, 4+4=8. But, not just 4+4. You can arrive at at the same outcome in several other ways: 1+1+1+5, 2+6, 10-2, etc. When creating a startup, you want success, but there is no clear cut path to the solution.

What's important? Identify a problem. Work at it like a puzzle and create a solution. But, create a crappy solution and employ your customers to help drive the direction of your product. Don't be a yes man and don't be afraid to say no to feature suggestions.

Be passionate. If you're not passionate about building something, you'll lose motivation. If you're not motivated, find another problem and work on building a solution for that one.

Trying to come up with what is the most important field is a very open ended question. You could spend a year learning a field/technology/programming langauge and then find out you don't need it. Build something with what you know. Don't prematurely learn something. Learn enough to get started and then only learn more when you need to.

If you think you need to learn a certain field in order to get started, you're procrastinating. You'll find yourself in an endless loop of "I'll start, but only when I start learning or have mastered X."

1 point by dutchrapley 4 hours ago 1 reply      
When I first read your post, I didn't see the second question. I interpreted the first as, "What is it important to know for startups in order to be successful?" Then you state your second question as, "Which field of CS do you think that with a little more time will result in the largest number of new innovative startups?" My answer to this isn't specific to CS, but IT as a whole. The next big breakthroughs are going to come from the field of nano technologies. In this space, you will see some innovative startups.
2 points by Travis 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I suppose the obvious answer would be large scale data analysis. Distributed programming of statistical and learning algorithms.

So, less emphasis on theoretical math, more on applied statistics. Distributed computing. Experience in huge data sets and the infrastructure technologies to analyze them.

1 point by CyberFonic 17 hours ago 1 reply      
MBSE: Model Based Software Engineering

You also need in-depth understanding of a specific application domain, your choice, but it should be one that interests you because you are going to be involved for a long time.

Startups succeed on the basis of solving a problem that is big enough and common enough to get lots of clients who are willing to pay heaps. Do yourself a favour, read up Steve Blank's customer development process if you haven't already done so.

Ask HN: Quitting Job in a month. Whats next?
5 points by Jig 19 hours ago   9 comments top 4
1 point by nreece 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Just curious, how did you conduct a market survey and what made you conclude that there's no demand for a personal expense tracking site?
1 point by lovskogen 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Why are you quitting without a (good) idea?
1 point by mathgladiator 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd spend a month making an iPhone app... :/
1 point by daniellemc1 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey - what are you skills? We are looking for a CTO!
Ask HN: Loosing Faith - the startup killer
58 points by rmoriz 2 days ago   45 comments top 24
6 points by edw519 2 days ago 3 replies      
Imagine this title: "Our 8 year old still crawls because we gave up teaching her to walk"

Absurd, huh? Not really. It's the same thing.

People walk because their parents absolutely, positively would not give up teaching them to walk. It's that simple. We need more of that thinking when it comes to "raising our businesses".

When I hear about people starting businesses and failing, I wonder if it's because (a) the business never had a chance or (b) they gave up too soon. I suspect it's a lot more (b) they most people would admit.

I think the secret to not giving up is finding a cause that's just about as important as teaching your child how to walk. This depends upon how your hard work will benefit others, not on how cool it is, how much fun it would be, or how much money it will make. You will have to succeed because of those who are depending on you just like your child depends upon you to teach them to walk.

10 points by lionhearted 2 days ago 1 reply      
Get some cash. It's a real spur to action.

One time I had a project that was dragging on forever, I was trying to develop a product for an existing business but I kept missing my self-imposed deadlines. 1/3rd of the way in I'd realize I want to approach it a different way and throw away everything tangible I had and re-start. I did that twice. It was dragging on forever.

Then I hand-coded a crappy html sales page and started taking preorders at half price. Got like 60 of them. So, my most loyal customers have given me money just on my word. I promised it would get to them within whatever timeframe.

Now there was no going back, no perfectionism, just had to work my ass off to get it out. And I did! Towards the end I was so burnt out and delirious from all the work and energy drinks and lack of sleep that I actually paid two freelancers from Elance to clean up some of the rough edges on my work, since I knew what was wrong, but I was too broken to fix it myself. But it got out! (Actually, it was two weeks late - I apologized profusely, gave out some free stuffs, and made the second deadline I promised)

After that I had a product that generated some sales for a couple years, so that was awesome. Get some cash. It motivates on many levels. It's like the military commander burning his ships behind him - now there's no retreat, you've got to go forth and conquer, because it's the only way out. Except, unlike burning ships, cash is cool and useful and you can spend it on things, even using the cash you got to help pay to deliver your new product or service. Magnificent thing, cash. Get some. Huge motivator.

6 points by 10ren 2 days ago 1 reply      
"finished" is a dangerous concept.

I'm not clear on what you mean by "losing faith in the product". Do you mean that you stopped believing that it had any value whatsoever; or that any/enough customers would ever like it; or that you lost faith in your own ability to accomplish it? Or do you just mean that... you ran out of motivation?

The key idea is not that "it takes time", but for it not to take time. In other words, to get something done ASAP. I'm talking like 2 hours, not 2 weeks or 2 months.

esr said to launch a product you need something that (a) runs; and (b) has a promise that it can be turned into something really cool in the near future. It's code + words. Note: this means that the thing that runs is not really cool. [many others also state this idea, but I really like esr's formulation]

For motivation in general (not just for launch), the same thing is true: you want to get something that works ASAP. Fred Brooks says of this style of incremental development: I was stunned by the electrifying effect on team morale of that first picture on the screen, that first running system.

I wrote the first version of my product in 2 hours (though I'd been thinking about it for a couple of weeks; and it took a 9 hour day to write the website). This isn't because I'm some great coder, but because the product was that simple. It wasn't "finished". It took a year before the first sale, and eventually I made enough to retire (for small values of retire).

tl;dr release before it's ready.

5 points by SMrF 2 days ago 0 replies      
"But usually after two to four weeks, the project just fails. We've lost faith in it."

Well there's your problem. Assuming you are working part time, two to four weeks is not even remotely enough time to build even the simplest of businesses. Note I'm not talking about building an application, which you could complete in 3-4 weeks, I'm talking about building a business.

I would guess a more reasonable timeline for starting something in your spare time would be about 6 months until you get your first revenue, (or more likely your first 'pivot' because you finally have enough data to realize your idea sucks). I wouldn't be surprised if it took longer. So, whatever you choose to do, try to ask yourself if you are willing to spend most of your spare time for the next year working on it before you even see any money. As soon as you start passing ideas through this filter, I think you'll find more success.

Any more optimistic timeline is a time fantasy.

Side note: this is in my opinion the problem with starting something on the side. It's far too slow. Sometimes it looks like I'm going to be 30 before I make a dime! I think I could cut down this cycle to 2-3 months to my first 'pivot' if I was full time. In other words I think working full time would move things along 4X as fast. Add a competent cofounder and you could probably almost double that.

6 points by pavlov 2 days ago 1 reply      
But usually after two to four weeks, the project just fails.

2-4 weeks? I've been working on my current project for five years... And I still don't know whether it's really going anywhere :(

But maybe I'll find out soon. My project's latest iteration is slated for release this week, after nearly two years of development.

5 points by PaulJoslin 2 days ago 0 replies      
One reason I believe for this could be because often in these cases your project is a 'side' bootstrapped thing.

This causes the lack of motivation / reduces the chances of reaching success for a few reasons.

- The first is that you do not need it to succeed.

Don't get me wrong, you would love it to succeed and make money, however you are most likely doing it after your day job and the reality is, you've not risked enough to 'HAVE' to succeed. Therefore it is very easy to fail / decide to try again when things get tough or haven't yet been as successful as you had hoped.

- Another key reason is that, while bootstrapping time is tight.
You find you spend hours / days / weeks / months of your spare time on something (while working full time at a job) and the reality is, you just burn out / want free time again. This is not unreasonable, especially if you have a family to look after, or your health is being affected.

- Ultimately every idea goes through a dip, 'a hard' section.
The fun idea / initial build has started (if you're a software developer like me, this is the best part), but now you must focus on the other elements such as sales / marketing / support, etc. We can easily diagnose and fix a problem in our code if our product is running inefficiently, but it's often far harder for us hackers to say exactly why the traffic is not pouring in, why the traffic is not converting to user sign ups or why the sales aren't increasing. At this point we think how much fun it would be to work on another exciting idea, doing the fun part again.

- Finally (I already realise this is quite an essay), the idea may not have been so great to start with.
It is a common thing to have 'great' ideas, which at first seem brilliant, but after a week seem weak. I always try to give any idea I have at least 3 days of thought before jumping in. Similarly I always ask other people for their thoughts and whether they would use this service?

Ultimately, there is nothing more demotivating than working on a project realising that no one actually wants it.

16 points by davidw 2 days ago 2 replies      
(BTW it's probably "losing faith" that you meant to write)
2 points by tom_ilsinszki 2 days ago 0 replies      
"But how?"
We, startup people, are visionaries. We see possibilities in things that don't even exist yet. We envision our company as the next Google, and ourself as the next Steve Jobs. There is however a really long period of time, where you just have to be like a wind-mill and grind all day (mostly alone). Grinding requires a whole different mindset than envisioning. You need to switch modes in your brain and must find a way to enjoy the small activities, in other to make it.

How to enjoy grinding?
Get absorbed in the daily small tasks and focus on them completely. Our brains are built up in a way, that it's impossible for us not to enjoy ourselves, if we really focus on a single task. Multitasking really kills the flow experience, so it's good to to avoid multitasking whenever possible.

Have a grand strategy and know where you want to be in life. Review your strategy every one or two weeks. Look at the week ahead, and the week just passing. Is there an activities you should focus on? Look for small improvements.

Track your resources (time and money). How much time and money do you spend on certain activities (you think you know, but you have no idea without actually tracking it). There are time tracking apps (eg. Eternity for iPhone), that could help. Look at your spendings (again time and money) each day and find things, that you could do better / things that you shouldn't do / things that you should do instead.

There are a million things that might work for you, but the bottom line is to find a way to enjoy the grinding process.

3 points by jorangreef 2 days ago 0 replies      
Setting out to build "a passive income business" is a recipe for disaster. There is no substitute for intelligent work. Business exists to serve the community, not to maximize shareholder equity. The responsibility of business is to ensure that prices are kept decreasing, and that quality and wages are kept increasing. Focus on the right motivation and the proper methods and profits will follow. Here is a true saying: "he who is faithful in small things, will be entrusted with greater things".


Ecclesiastes - http://bit.ly/bFJruK

Proverbs - http://bit.ly/aJpmva

Henry Ford's autobiography My Life And Work - http://bit.ly/9fZkFG

2 points by daveungerer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some people convince themselves that they ought to start their own project, because it's the "right" thing to do. But deep down, it's not what they actually want to do. If you give up on a project after only 2 to 4 few weeks, it's likely that you're one of those people.

It's not all bad news though. You need to revisit your motivation for doing your own project. Money alone is rarely enough to offset the emotional drain of doing so. And as I said above, neither is doing it just because society values individuals who pull it off / go the effort of at least trying. Ambition for the sake of ambition won't cut it.

Find something you're passionate about. Change the world, change people's lives, or change a very tiny part of the lives of many people. Find a competitor who has stopped innovating because they have a monopoly on a market and fight tooth and nail to break their monopoly by providing a superior service. Pick a fight and don't back down. People don't give up after 2 to 4 weeks if they're passionate about something.

1 point by jacquesm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think you're simply suffering from not having found the right idea yet. It's like building a fire. You start off with a match (idea), then you put some paper around it (first demo, businessplan), then you add kindling (launch, release). Now you add some wood (real effort, making the user experience 'good enough' for real work). If at this point the fire does not sustain itself it will burn out because the cost of continuing to tend a dying fire is too high. If on the other the fire starts to make it's own wind (like a real fire does) and starts to consume more and more resources because that's what it needs you'll be too busy to notice the years flash by and holding on to it without crashing it.

So keep on building fires, one day you'll hit one right out of the park as long as you learn from previous fires and why they died out.

1 point by chegra 2 days ago 1 reply      
This happens to me alot. Let me see how do I deal with this.

Firstly, it maybe my personality- Resource Investigator then
secondary Plant. Both type of of personalities are creative but get bored of things pretty quickly. Working along side a Sharper generally solves this problem. For more about belbin have a read: http://www.teambuilding.co.uk/belbin-team-role.html

If I'm by myself. I generally make the time scale large. Like right now, I'm trying to read a 373 page book. I could read it in a day. But instead, I am going to do it over 4 days. So generally, I expand my expected time for success. I talk about it in this post: http://chegra.posterous.com/consistently-underperforming

Also, when I'm finished a small task, I announce it on my twitter and facebook. The likes and the comments generally boost motivations. So, maybe like every two days I have some kind of news to report on what I'm doing.
Like, I finish my low fidelity mockup design. I try as much as possible not to mention the future, it decreases your motivation for getting stuff done. Apparently, the brain rewards you for just saying you are going to do it and your friends too, hence no incentives to complete the task. So, do it afterwards and obtain the rewards from there.

3 points by Cmccann7 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you are not talking about "missing market or lack of customer acceptance" I am assuming you haven't gotten one of your products in the hands of your end customer.

I would suggest building a very simple feature set that you an launch quickly (MVP in startup terms) or even a quick mockup and ask your end customer (or who you think your customer is) what they think of it.

If you have a prototype a customer wants then you will be excited. Set some deadlines, targets, goals, and really execute on it.

That's my 2 cents.

1 point by snitko 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad to hear this happens to someone else, haha.
For me the biggest challenge was not to release the product though, but to keep working on it when no one is using it yet. Anyway, I think it's basically the same question of motivation.

I was thinking about writing a short post on this. I suspect this whole agile culture with releasing crappy version 1 and iterating may be misleading for some people. For example, I've never heard of authors iterating their fiction book - they write it and sell it. If they don't sell right away, they may sell it later, so it's not an immediate failure. I think maybe this, at least partially, may be applied to the software world. Games and iPhone apps pretty much fall into this model. But maybe webapps could somehow do the same. The point is, I see nothing really wrong with this attitude of working hard for some time, but not wanting to continue to invest your time and energy into the product after its release. It maybe be good for some products, but bad for other. The real problem is the current trend towards iterations and continuous development, which may fool some people and make them unhappy.

1 point by bootload 2 days ago 0 replies      
"... We've failed not because nobody wanted our product. Or because of missing programming skills. We've failed because we've lost faith in our product! ..."

Faith in product or self?

I think you are right to question the ratio of HN articles readers obsess over at the expense of psychology. You want to build something, but first you have to overcome many hurdles. Somewhere along on the way the balance of motivation and flexibility that keeps hackers working on projects gets out of whack, code stops getting written and your project dies.

Overcoming obstacles is what it's all about. If you avoid signs of failure [0] you have a better chance of completing the project. This of course doesn't mean the project is worthy of being called a product. Users just might not like what you have to offer. Not completing the project/product is the quickest way to failure. There are no easy answers here. Keep moving forward.

[0] Reading this motivates me to finish an article I've been planning on failure. Here's some patterns of failure I've noticed ~ http://seldomlogical.com/2009/08/12/10-signs-of-failure

1 point by dejb 2 days ago 1 reply      
You haven't even made it to 'fail'. If you are losing faith during initial development then how do you expect to get through the really tough part of selling / promoting it after release? If you are serious about this then just find a way to get to something released. Otherwise you'll never know if you enjoy or excel at the main challenge of a startup. The only other option is to treat it as a hobby.
1 point by clistctrl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have this, but not because I "Lose Faith" its more of a race between me finishing a project, and me getting the idea for the next greatest thing and wanting to work on that. At the moment I have 3 projects I'm juggling. I work on each rotating between them each week. Its a terrible way to work.
1 point by ziadbc 2 days ago 0 replies      
One issue is that you probably created something that had a discrete 'idea' behind it. I find if you just start coding 'the project' but aren't constrained by a specific idea, but remaining in the same codebase, it is liberating and allows you to cross the 4 week gap. 37signals talked about this when creating basecamp, they mastered a small messaging app first. These days probably half of all web apps could start that way.
1 point by ThomPete 2 days ago 1 reply      
The problem is that you need to accept that you are a starter not a finisher.

You loose not faith but interest as soon as you realize that you could actually do this and here comes the important part *if you wanted to!

So if you want to do something about it, you need to make sure that once you have established the groundwork someone else will take over the nitty gritty of finishing.

1 point by jayroh 2 days ago 0 replies      
The timing of this question couldn't be better because I think I know something that might help give you perspective.

Go out to the library, or borders, barnes and nobles (or digitally) and buy this book - http://www.amazon.com/War-Art-Through-Creative-Battles/dp/04.... It's called the War of Art, and a really short read, 150'ish pages (but actually more along the lines of 75 pages). A friend of mine loaned me his copy and it's definitely pulled me up from the doldrums I've been in recently to get some perspective. I suffer from pretty much the same thing and succumb to that resistance, or what other people sometimes call the "lizard brain", in getting something DONE. It's HARD.

Honestly - just read the book. It'll help. I promise.

1 point by NickSmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
Losing faith is a form of procrastination, and procrastination is a way of not experiencing some feeling that for some reason we are unwilling to experience. As a general rule we procrastinate because we are scared of the results we would get if did not procrastinate.

In a roundabout way the feelings we are unwilling to experience end up running our life. So maybe it would be a good thing for you to take the quiet time to discover what is beneath the behaviour you abhor.

One way to do this is to ask yourself what is it that you would lose, or tightly held belief that would be invalidated, if you were incredibly successful. And then rather than try to answer this question with reason or your intellect, just write a page or two without thinking, and see what comes up.

Good luck!

1 point by robryan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe the idea to get you started is something very simple, it's possible that your searching for ambitious products and big market gaps where something you can fit into a month of development can break even and get the ball rolling.
1 point by parlin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I recognize this as well. After a few side projects running out of interests from my side, while still liked but my early users, I also started to question why.

I found the biggest motivator is user feedback. Especially positive ones.. It makes me stay up late to get another thing implemented or fixed etc.

If I would run out of encouragement from users or people around me for a while, I think that is when I lose interest.

1 point by adamilardi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Losing faith will kill a startup. Having faith in a bad product can be more disastrous.
HN: Hire me. For free.
101 points by ehsanul 3 days ago   60 comments top 20
121 points by mattm 3 days ago 4 replies      
A couple months ago I wanted to get rid of an old Dell printer. My uncle gave it to me for free so I thought I would just give it away for free on Craigslist. I had a total of 9 people contact me saying they were interested in it. Many people expressed skepticism and asked "Does it work?" and "Why are you giving it away for free?" Out of those 9 people that contacted me saying they were interested, 0 actually showed up to pick it up. One person even asked me if I could "deliver" it to their house as they "really wanted it" but were too sick to come pick it up. I wasted so much time dealing with these people.

After realising this wasn't working, I re-listed it for $5 and the first person who contacted me actually came and picked it up without any issues.

46 points by moron4hire 3 days ago 3 replies      
Suggestion: if you don't care about compensation, join an open source project. There are dozens of projects out there with crappy project sites. Completely revamping their public facing can draw in significantly more people (I know I've skipped past a few projects because I couldn't make immediate sense out of their site). You'll have the same effect that you're looking for here, without having to wait around for someone else to give you permission.
11 points by lionhearted 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have you read this? -


It's about consulting, but it applies to freelancing as well. Good discussion of rates and what people really want in terms of service and deliverables when they hire you. Very good article, there's been discussion here on HN about it too if you go to searchyc.com.

Other things to think about: Elance, Odesk, Rentacoder, or other sites that let you make some cash would be smart to look into, and look at OSS for an option to do some interesting work with smart people.

12 points by mquander 3 days ago 5 replies      
I have to ask, why not go somewhere that isn't full of bored programmers to offer free programming labor? It seems like you would be more likely to find someone who could really use your work literally anywhere else.
6 points by kaens 3 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by vegashacker 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be worried about legal ownership issues with this. If someone just writes code for you and says, "Here you go, it's free" I'm not sure that would really work. There has to be a contract in place (right?), and can contracts be "for free"? I guess this could be structured as an internship, but I read here awhile ago that those are being cracked down upon in the US.

Here's one idea: Have ehansul write and open source code that would be helpful to you. That way there are no ownership issues.

3 points by Tawheed 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why not just build something of your own and put it out there as a product?

See http://www.tawheedkader.com/2010/04/how-i-used-heroku-chargi... for inspiration.

5 points by KoZeN 3 days ago 1 reply      

There are tons of opportunities that you can take on even if you have nothing in your portfolio.
Do what you do but earn some cash doing it.

Good luck.

3 points by NickNYC242 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is an awesome, disruptive, and unconventional idea. Sure, you could go to elance or any other board and do any "normal" work, but here at HN you're likely to find some interesting ideas, and by making this free, it's also likely that you'll get the weird, interesting, and just maybe highly-lucrative stuff. Good luck - if I can come up with a cool concept I'll drop you a line.
1 point by alain94040 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't you volunteer your time to one of the projects listed on http://fairsoftware.net/startup-ideas-software-web-iphone ? That would go a long way to build your portfolio.
2 points by ivenkys 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really a good and potentially very disruptive idea. It would be interesting to how far he can take this and monetize this.

I am going to take him up on his offer. I have specific requirements and i have a working prototype of the same , it would be interesting to see what he makes of it (provided of course he takes me up on it.)

1 point by HeyLaughingBoy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dude, if you have no experience and are willing to work for free, at least go on RentACoder or whatever it's called these days and bid really low on a few projects that interest you.

Trust me, someone will bite. That place is the Grand Central of bottom feeders.

3 points by xutopia 3 days ago 0 replies      
Offer your help to non-profits instead. They can give you tax credits for it. So even if they don't pay you cash you can pay less income tax at the end of the year.
1 point by ehsanul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone: I'm sorry if you've emailed me and I'm taking more than an hour to reply now. It's taking me a little time to evaluate all the requests I'm getting.

More requests are welcome, but I am unlikely to be able to actually do more until later. If you contact me though, when I am done with the work I take up now, I can start with yours. You'll get a reply from me regardless of course.

2 points by vindicated 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a good idea. Not for everyone of course, one size doesn't fit all.

Often just having a deadline for doing something is enough motivation to actually do it. I find myself procrastinating on personal projects, while I can finish (or at least get close to finishing) projects with clear deadlines pretty much on time.

1 point by JesseAldridge 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about you make a clone of OkCupid, but instead of finding dates people use it to find co-founders? That's something I, and I think a lot of other people, would like to see.
1 point by joeld42 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good idea and I wish you luck with it.

Another great way to build your portfolio is to approach local non-profits and ask to volunteer to make web apps or website improvements for them. There is almost always a way to make a big difference.

1 point by Random_Person 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm hoping to launch an online comic one day soon and could sure use some automation software to build each new page for me and make sure the links aren't broke. I'd also like to have a forum with voting similar to HN or Reddit.
1 point by pizzaman 3 days ago 0 replies      
i bet you can find some small idea somewhere and create your own project, it will be a lot more fun and that way you'll learn easier too.
-4 points by giantfuzzypanda 3 days ago 0 replies      
inb4 OP becomes overwhelmed and explodes
Ask HN: Resources for finding short term projects?
57 points by skullsplitter 4 days ago   25 comments top 13
5 points by jayliew 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://djangogigs.com/ has worked out well for me
3 points by philfreo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd stay away from elance and other similar sites if I were you. Focus on getting your name out there as a freelancer in certain niche communities (Django, for instance) rather than competing mostly on price for any kind of work.
2 points by eldavido 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone in a similar position, I can offer a few tips.

First, realize that the search process is totally different from a job hunt. Good tech companies hire for talent, not skills. However, developing talent into something comercially useful isn't a short-term proposition. Unless you have extensive project management experience/have shipped several impressive things, your best bet is to become expert at a particular skill/tool, and sell that expertise, than being a good "back-end developer".

You need to get comfortable around non-techies. This means: explaining how your contribution reduces expenses/increases revenue, realizing the client often doesn't know, or frankly give a damn about the technical merits of the project ("python? you mean, like, the snake?"), and that you'll have to network a lot with non-technical people. Tech people might be a source of referrals, but most of them default to "building" vs "buying" (paying you) to get the job done.

Get off the internet. Seriously. Business-to-business commerce is still very telephone, referral, and relationship-driven. Elands, craigslist, etc. puts you head-to-head against undeniable idiots, offshore guys whose cost of living is about 1/10th that of oakland

2 points by jkent 3 days ago 0 replies      
Various websites exist to connect project creators and programmers. You'll pick up work if you dig around.

www.elance.com (better fixed jobs)
www.vworker.com (better by the hour)
www.ifreelance.com (don't know it well)
www.scriptlance.com (smaller?)

2 points by awt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Checkout the gigs section in craiglist. There are lots of short term projects there. You never know what will happen...
3 points by skullsplitter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great suggestions, thanks everyone! Ill give those a shot (esp. the area specific ones such as djangogigs.com) and report what worked and didn't work for me.
2 points by stevenbrianhall 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've had some good luck with http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com. It requires a subscription (< $10/month) and you can cancel and re-subscribe at will.
3 points by gigafemtonano 3 days ago 2 replies      
These fine folks give $1,000 for small projects on a monthly basis: http://awesomefoundation.org
1 point by coderholic 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://jobs.plasis.co.uk aggregates freelance jobs from 9 different job boards. programmermeetdesigner.com is also good.
1 point by skullsplitter 3 days ago 0 replies      
This thread is really inspiring. I havent found anything yet (only posted this morning :) but Im feeling confident that something cool will turn up out of all of the linked resources. The craigslist gigs idea seems like it has potential. For some reason I never considered it.
1 point by endtime 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where are you located?
2 points by sscheper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meeting people.
1 point by BSierakowski 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm currently working on a project devoted to hooking up devs and developers based on projects that they want to work on - what sort of work are you looking for? Have an academic interest in what sort of criteria you're using to choose what to work on.
Ask HN: What makes Ruby so great?
3 points by f1gm3nt 1 day ago   10 comments top 6
5 points by jamesbritt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Spend a week learning it and see what you think. Play with the metaprogramming, runtime code creation, and dynamic method invocation, and see if it floats your boat.

(Try this article I wrote for DevX: http://www.devx.com/RubySpecialReport/Article/34502

I tried to give an example that would show off some of the nicer things in Ruby.)

After trying the language, if you don't like it, don't use it, and stop reading Ruby articles.

BTW, anything that claims "Blub is so awesome, you should use it," but doesn't explain why, isn't worth the time of day. Ignore them.

It's unfortunate that there are some people who gush over Ruby like it was their first high school crush, but so what? Try a variety of languages, find one or two that suit you, learn them well, and go make stuff.

Code talks, bullshit walks.

1 point by pedalpete 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm with you on the Ruby fans seem like Apple fans.

Based on your comment about web programming, you are talking about Ruby on Rails which is the web framework for the Ruby language.

I've just gone back to learning RoR after trying it a few years ago. I'm normally a PHP programmer, but have been playing with some RoR with MongoDB stuff.

My take on it coming from a regular LAMP is that RoR has lots of gems (packages) that are easy to install and use.

The code generators get you up and running really quickly, though I'm not actually a fan of most generators.

RoR applications have a rather specific structure. I think it is deeper than MVC, as there are naming conventions for functions, variables/collections, etc.

The structure is good because it is fairly easy to back-trace through somebody else's code to see what they've done.

What I'm finding really challenging is that there are so many small details that are hidden from the code.

For instance, in RoR, 'render' is like an include file, but you don't actually have to type the name of the file or where it exists. Based on the naming schemes and structure of RoR it gets the variable/collection and file name because everything has the same name.

What I haven't found is a place where it explains what RoR is doing, so you know that when you have an error, this is why.

I think we are just supposed to blindly follow the 'it just works' mantra, which has never really worked for me with Apple, and I'm barely holding it together with RoR.

As far as documentation goes, it is tough to beat PHP. The documentation is really good, and the language/framework doesn't do the work for you, so you build a page, put something into the db, get it out, put it on this page, call it from that page, etc. You build your own structure so you know where things are and how things work.

The tutorials I've seen keep going through the very same basic stuff of getting RoR to build crud operations for you, or how to change a view. But getting into the meat of RoR is proving to be much more difficult.

1 point by toadytim 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ruby is toast, now that we have node.js you can do just about everything with JavaScript alone.
1 point by fragmede 1 day ago 0 replies      

Prior to Ruby on Rails, most people's exposure to web dev was PHP. Go from doing PHP by hand for the simplest CRUD based pages, to the magic of Rails that magically does half the work for the same page. That magic gained the language not just converts, but fans on the level of Apple fans.

There are other choices these days, but thats where the fandom originates from.

1 point by minalecs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Although Ruby is a very productive language, I think its more about the community. Its moving incredibly fast, and the people in the community are doing really awesome things right now. Resources for programmers are abundant.
1 point by masnick 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the perspective of someone who is looking for a first programming language or a language that is dead simple to use for basic tasks, I think Ruby is a great choice.

I think this is primarily because the syntax can be very intuitive, especially compared to something like perl. Ruby code is generally readable even to someone who doesn't know Ruby (there are some exceptions of course, as Ruby can be very terse in the right hands).

There are also a ridiculous number of gems that are easy to install and use. Need to do document classification? There's a gem for that (classifier). Need to access a database and want to do it through Ruby objects? There's a gem for that (sequel).

       cached 22 July 2010 17:41:19 GMT