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Ask HN: Is Bill Gates smart?
7 points by roadnottaken 1 hour ago   4 comments top 4
3 points by edw519 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
A colleague of mine is meeting Bill Gates in the near future and is pretty nervous about the interaction...

A colleague of ours (HN name spolsky) met with Bill Gates in the past and was pretty nervous about that interaction:


1 point by smackfu 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
1 point by sz 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
If Math 55 is any indication, yes.
1 point by taphangum 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Yes, very smart. But your friend shouldnt be intimidated. Every good entrepreneur has the potential to make moves as smart or even smarter than Bill Gates did.
Offer HN: Room in Japan
65 points by bemmu 10 hours ago   26 comments top 13
15 points by coryl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
How generous of you, now that's what a community is all about!
5 points by jacquesm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
How I wished I was free to take you up on your offer :)

And what a fantastic thing to do.

5 points by zaidf 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow. Seems like HN has come the full circle with this whole "offer" thing!
1 point by mfalcon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's really great the thing you and many other folks in HN are doing for this community. It makes me really happy to see where HN is going, I really hope to offer something similar in the near future.
2 points by teye 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I'm heading to Japan over Thanksgiving. We talked about visiting Shikoku again, so if I'm in the area I'll drop you a line.

Hope you meet lots of interesting people!

6 points by zackattack 8 hours ago 0 replies      
congratulations on the marriage dude
1 point by geuis 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I spent a week in Tokyo last year from Christmas to New Year's. What an amazing experience. I had originally planned to travel on to Kyoto about halfway through my week, but Tokyo had too much to offer to leave early. I really would love to spend a few days in a more normal (non-hotel, non-Shibuya) setting and travel around.
1 point by PaulJoslin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, I'm almost tempted, I've always wanted to go to Japan and was sad I missed it out when I travelled around the world - I'll have to check the cost of flights out.
2 points by jason_tko 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool. I'm tentatively planning to to Hiroshima this weekend. I'm ok for a place to stay, if you'd like to catch up for a coffee around the area, that'd be great.
2 points by kjell 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm sure you know about couchsurfing.org. You might try hosting a few people. I've had some of the best experiences of my life in situations similar to what you're offering, some with friends or relatives but a lot with couchsurfers. It's a great deal.
1 point by jamesteow 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, I'd love to take you up on this offer. I'm actually planning to fly from Tokyo after visiting Vietnam in December. I'd only stay for a few days.
2 points by taima 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't forget that Tokushima has Awa Odori, one of the biggest festivals in Japan.
1 point by Klonoar 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Huh. How long is this offer good for, do you think?
Is HN only about saying nice things about everything?
68 points by DjDarkman 14 hours ago   104 comments top 50
22 points by jdietrich 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I can only speak of my own personal approach to commenting. I evaluate my own comments by one metric - whether I think my comment will make HN a smarter, more interesting place. I see HN comments less as a forum for chit-chat and more as a venue for a series of short essays on the topic of the original post. I try to avoid making comments of the sort that are satisfying to post but that I would not be interested in reading. If I don't think I'm being reasonably insightful, I don't bother. For every comment I post, there are usually one or two comments on other items that I decided weren't good enough to post.

It seems to me that HN is relatively neutral in terms of your opinion; People here seem to avoid the vice of downvoting based simply on a difference of opinion, at least in my experience. The community generally seems to award karma based on how thoughtful and carefully-constructed your comments are. I have one one occasion been downvoted into oblivion for politely and carefully expressing an opinion that is generally morally unpalatable, but someone came to my defence and I eventually ended up with a small amount of positive karma for the comment.

I think the easiest rule of thumb is to try and be the opposite of cable news. The calmer and more dispassionate your tone, the more detailed and precise you are in your reasoning, the more carefully you reference reliable sources, the better your chances of being strongly upvoted.

34 points by SandB0x 13 hours ago 3 replies      
There's criticism and there's negativity. You seem to be confusing these two things. You can put your point across without snarky comments like:

"Vertical list of applications??? Microsoft what have you been smoking?"

(As we're quoting rap lyrics today) I think that you'll be doing just fine if you relax a little.

68 points by pg 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Based on a cursory look at your comments I would guess the problem is not what you say but how.
20 points by jasonlotito 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Consider your question here

> Is HN only about saying nice things about everything?

This implies fault lies with HN. You make the assumption that you are right (despite your PS).

A better question is:

> I'd like to contribute; can anyone offer advice to improve my comments?

Humility, and no assumption.

Again, here:

> I don't know maybe it's me, maybe I have too radical opinions on stuff.

Again, this is conceited. It's not your 'radicalism.' It's your ego talking.

> I am not saying neither that I'm always right nor that I never deserved the downvote.

But your entire comment suggested that you weren't in the wrong.

> I may be alone in this, but I like expressing my thoughts/feelings, as a matter of fact, most of the time I want to make it really clear that what I say is just my the way I see it.

No, you aren't. You aren't "alone" in this. Rather, your ability to communicate effectively is lacking. Indeed, it's very egotistical. You're focused completely on "your opinion" and frankly, your opinion holds no value.

In all your comments, I see you place a lot of value on your opinion. Your opinion can't be wrong, and it's yours, and you'll share it. But who are you that we should care about your opinion?

This doesn't mean you can't offer opinion. It's just that you need to qualify you opinion with reasoning. You can't just state an opinion and expect everyone to see the wisdom.

Listen, you seem like your interested in providing value here. Disagree with whatever you want. But don't just disagree, explain why you disagree. With examples is best!

Be specific.

Do more than ask pointless questions (especially questions that are answered). Anyone can ask questions.

> Vertical list of applications??? Microsoft what have you been smoking?

Provides no value.

> Vertical list of applications? I'm not sure this will grow well. As users add applications, it will make for a lot of scrolling.

Goes further and provides actual meaning. People might still disagree, but now you've explained your opinion.

You've generated discussion.

Hopefully all of this (thread) helps! =)

13 points by InclinedPlane 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I just took a glance at my recent comments. Most of them are nominally negative (by about 2:1). Most of them have several upvotes, none of them appear to be downvoted.

People on HN enjoy criticism just fine, but they don't particularly enjoy standing next to a spigot of feces. The problem is that vitriol and excessive emotion skews debate. It makes the debate about the emotion itself, rather than about the issue at hand. When people get into a shouting match their brains shut down and people stop arguing rationally (the fight-or-flight response kicks in, blood starts being withdrawn from the extremities and some of the higher brain-function areas, the reptile brain starts taking over, and it becomes much more difficult to admit being wrong or that the other person might be right). This sort of thing is not helpful if the goal is productive rational debate.

6 points by lkrubner 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I wrote about this on my own blog, and someone from Hacker News came and posted a highly critical comment about me. They concluded:

"The reason you were downvoted and will continue to be downvoted is because you don’t discuss topics with any intellectual integrity."

The comment was interesting since it was such a pure, mirror reflection of what the commenter was doing. For instance, they posted anonymously, whereas I always write using my real name, yet they called me a troll. They also accused me of repeating myself, though they had also repeated themselves many times. You can see the comment here:


As the post indicates, I'm feeling ambivalent about Hacker News right now. Sometimes the conversations are really interesting, but there is also a lot of noise. Sometimes I learn a lot by participating in the conversations, but other times I feel like I'm talking to people who have no interest in understanding what I'm trying to say, and who are willing to use downvoting as a method of shouting me down.

I'm ambivalent. I enjoy this forum, but I'm also thinking I should probably invest my energy elsewhere. I've been reading this site for almost 2 years now, and I've learned a great deal, and every day there are interesting new articles posted. All the same, I get bored with conversations where I think the other person isn't really interested in hearing what I might have to say. And no doubt, vice versa, of course - clearly I upset someone, if they were willing to pursue the conversation to my own blog (where I was writing about Hacker News).

11 points by Towle_ 13 hours ago 3 replies      
This is one of several diseases in HackerNews.

There's a whole spectrum of ways to disagree, all of which have value in the right situation. Here, a good portion of that spectrum has been lobbed off in the name of niceness and nothing more. Is it worth it? Decide for yourself. I say nay.

Bonus disease: PG worship. Don't get me wrong, he's a brilliant guy; we're all here (directly or indirectly) because of him. But it goes too far.

28 points by akadien 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Dude, it's karma points on HN. A number on a server somewhere that has no bearing whatsoever on your real life. Have some perspective.
1 point by iuguy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think there's a difference between saying nice things about everything and being polite and constructive in your criticism.

Everyone can be a dick, sometimes. Heck, I'm probably a dick the majority of the time, but I decided a while back to be nicer to people on the Internet. That's part of the reason I upvote people who prove me wrong and thank them for it. If my horizons are expanded, or my assumptions challenged here and they stand on their own two feet then great. If not, then even better - I'm less wrong, so to speak.

The thing about this community is that brings together people like Zed Shaw and Seth Godin, two people I regard as polar opposites, each with their own focus. The people on the Seth side of the fence will be perhaps more likely to be turned off by the Zed Shaws of the world, as is vice versa.

Challenging them is fine and should be encouraged. Giving them grief, less so.

Usually when I read a techcrunch article posted here, I feel as though I die a little inside. Still, people like Gabriel, Patrick, Colin and even Thomas stand out to me as guys that I enjoy reading.

When criticising, it might help to consider the following:

* What does my comment add to the discussion?

* Can my comment be interpreted in a way other than how I intended it? (In which case a rewrite may be in order)

* How will other readers perceive what I write? (as an extension of the last one).

You get out what you put in. If you want to criticise, fine. But please do so in a constructive manner.

Any HN'ers got any more ideas for constructive criticism?

4 points by 8ren 11 hours ago 1 reply      
My observation over a couple of years is that HN is consistently - sometimes boringly - critical. The top comment often is in disagreement with the submission, sometimes focusing on an incidental point, and it can seem that people actually compete to criticise on HN.

Since this is HN, you might consider reading pg's essay how to disagree, and apply it to your comments before adding them: http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html Note that articulate, dispassionate criticism is one of the most difficult skills to master - so don't be discouraged if it takes a while to make progress. It's a valuable skill, and well worth the effort.

tl;dr HN upvotes intellectual disagreement.

3 points by T_S_ 12 hours ago 0 replies      
OK, I bit and looked at your comments. You did grab some upvotes when it was snarky-but-clever, or simultaneously raised a good question. Most other comments are not getting upvotes due to unfiltered venting. Maybe apply a filter. A lot of knee-jerk anti-MS in there. I have similar gut reactions to the keywords MS and Ballmer but I noticed a long time ago that many people (even tech professionals!) did not relate (what are they smoking!?). Maybe try some other topics that allow you to share more concrete knowledge with HN readers.
14 points by wzdd 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fascinating, because there was a post a little while back proposing the opposite effect, titled "the default position of HN is skepticism". Here it is:


3 points by sliverstorm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Take it as a life-lesson. People are more responsive to criticism and opposing opinions when it's expressed in a positive way, even if the core of the message is the same. While it's more satisfying to make clever remarks (believe me, I know), I've literally learned via HN how to craft negative statements in a positive way to get people to listen to me, and I'm sure you can learn the same.

(See what I did there?)

3 points by joshuacc 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Some things you could do to make your critical comments more valuable to the community:

1. Avoid unnecessary profanity.

2. Avoid ridicule and sarcasm, especially when directed at other HNers.

3. Avoid complaining about "trolls" downvoting you. In fact, avoid discussing karma in general.

4. Avoid using emotionally laden terms of disapproval. Instead use direct objective language ("There were rendering artifacts in the rotation effects") or clearly state the subjective aspects of what you are discussing ("Something about the rotation effects rubs me the wrong way.")

5. Be concise and relatively formal in your language.

2 points by johnnygood 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I decided to look through your comment history to see what postings you've been downvoted for. There's a decently common theme. Usually they have flippant remarks and/or curse words.

"Microsoft what have you been smoking?"; "You are so fuckin wrong"; "OMG so much stupidity."; "Windows Phone 7 is a really good vapor-ware. And ridiculous patents + broken patent system are the key to success" (when Windows Phone 7 had already shipped to OEMs); "I guess if they get killed, they had it coming."; "(YAWN) You could have written that code in most languages with most databases years ago!"

We're looking for a level of respect that isn't shown by those phrases. The Hacker News Guidelines (http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) are a good place to start:

* Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation.

It's common to bash people on the internet, but we tend not to like that here. We do disagree here. Recently there was a large thread on Ubercab and whether their service is so ethical and responsible. Lots of people with lots of differing viewpoints were upvoted. They raised issues (rather than just being blindly for or against someone). It was enlightening to see the nuance and insight that lots of different people brought to the discussion and how complex the issue was. You can disagree without attacking a person.

* When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is an idiotic thing to say; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."

Comments that include things like "OMG so much stupidity" just make people feel attacked and defensive. The statement doesn't add to the discussion and just makes things more combative. It's as if you're trying to discourage people from disagreeing with you because you'll call them stupid if they do. "I think this is important to consider"; "OMG, you're just so stupid". It isn't helpful. Plus, there are plenty of places on the internet if your interest is flamewars.

* Resist complaining about being downmodded. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

3 points by brk 12 hours ago 0 replies      
To me it seems that HN has mostly been about content and thoughtful presentation. Not all of my comments are always happy unicorn rainbows, but if I'm presenting an alternative or unpopular opinion I (try) to at least explain my reasoning and logic.

Lame jabs, cheap shots, bad jokes, and vapid comments DO seem to get rightly pounded down.

1 point by kls 10 hours ago 0 replies      
100+ user doesn't like he can simply downvote you irresponsibly

I personally, think the downvote activation should be a combination of length of membership and karma. It does seem that as of late, there has been an increase in "I don't agree with you, so down you go".

I am with you on this one, there is a specific subject I talk about a lot on here "JavaScript based UI's", I have been doing web development since about the day after TBL released Mosaic (That is not an exaggeration) and it is my opinion that the web was broken shortly after we moved from CGI post to server side web frameworks that introduces state.

I think the JavaScript UI's and REST bring web apps back into the original architecture of the web and that they bring us back to the architecture that was started so long ago.

Anyway, I am getting off on a tangent. There are a good deal of developers who disagree with this, some instead of forming a rebuttal use the down arrow as their rebuttal.

For me personally I see it, when used in that context, as a "I don't have a strong rebuttal, so I will try to make you post go away" line of reasoning. I had one guy get so annoyed at me, that he went in and bombed me on any post that he and I did not have an exchange on (you can not down vote if you reply to a post).

To me those kinds of actions are site killers, fortunately for HN, it has not reached a critical mass, and it still has a good deal of intellectuals looking for good conversation. I have just chalked it up to, oh well you take you licks. At the point that all of my post get downvoted then I will know that I have been voted off the island, and that it is time for me to leave, which is fine as the community will not be representative of the people I am looking to interact with. As of yet that is not the case, so I just go with the flow.

3 points by alnayyir 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with what you're saying, and it's been severe enough that I've taken to either not bothering to comment, or simply deleting my comment because HN had apparently deemed it that bereft of value.

The circle-jerk behavior is what is damaging the credibility of the startup scene and it's making it harder for me to convince my fellow programmers that it's the place to be.

I don't think just low karma users are guilty of down-voting in inappropriate situations. I had a discussion with Justin Kan awhile back and he was demonstrating the viewpoint that you're finding problematic.

2 points by Groxx 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems to me a fair number of your non-positive comments have been upvoted. If you dropped a lot, it could be from the / any -4 troll-claiming. Points only display to -4, but they can go much lower.

But yes. Critical comments: frequently upvoted. Non-critical, negative comments: essentially worthless for the sake of discussion, and are frequently downvoted here. Not many other places online, but I think it's part of why the community is in general so much more useful and mature than many others.

5 points by Mithrandir 13 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a bit of a bad psychological effect on HNers: don't say things that might get people angry/to disagree, or your Karma goes down. But there is also a good psychological effect as well: don't say stupid things (like "LOL, wut?"), or you'll get down-voted.

Either way you look at it, there's a bit of good and bad in HN.

1 point by justin_vanw 10 hours ago 0 replies      
You can say quite negative stuff, but it is much harder to get away with trolling outright.

My diatribe against django: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1490415

Me telling some digg engineer that the plan to switch to cassandra was retarded, way back in '09: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=813967

Calling the content of a submitted article 'crap': http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=772693

I guess I might get away with negativity without being modded into oblivion, my secret is that my posts have some sort of information content.

2 points by rwhitman 11 hours ago 0 replies      
As annoyed as I get when I receive downvotes, I think for the most part looking back, the comments were either divisive (and hence got some heated disagreement-based downvotes) or probably justified as downvote-worthy.

For the most part the moderation system works. But it forces you to think very hard about how valuable your comment is.

1 point by T_S_ 12 hours ago 0 replies      
There is definitely style of negative comment that attracts downvotes on HN. If you care about karma, it is usually easy to avoid as many comments in this thread point out.

Unfortunately there is always a temptation with karma systems to use them for "social proof". Social proof is implemented by downvoting opinions you disagree with and vice versa. The only ego-preserving way of dealing with this is to view your minority opinions as "ahead of your time" and resolve to politely keep up the thought leadership.

EDIT: I bit and looked at your comments. Suggestions on the thought leadership appear in another message.

4 points by DjDarkman 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Well I did not expect so many responses. Thanks everyone for both the positive and negative comments, I have read all of them and I will keep them in mind.

BTW: It's not the Karma points that bothered me, it's the grayish color that some of my comments got and that some downvoters just downvote and don't respond.

3 points by Charuru 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I downvote people that I disagree with. It's never because it's too honest or too negative or too rude, I don't care about that. I downvote if I think it's wrong or misinformed.

This applies to nearly every one of your comments on Microsoft.

1 point by lsc 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's very annoying that 100+ karma users could act as really good trolls, they could just go around and downvote everybody without ever loosing karma, but costing the commenter karma.

Really good trolls? does getting downvoted really get you all that riled up? As far as I can tell, once you are over 100 and can downvote, getting more carma does not alter your user experience.

I'd suggest you grow a thicker skin, especially if you want to say mean things on the internet.

1 point by vgurgov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
critics is easy. seriously. give me any topic and i will explain you why its shitty. seriously i can do that, and not just me.

constructive critics is very hard. By cc i mean comments that will not make feel poster like complete idiot, but rather gently stimulate him to rethink something about his idea, and went away with feeling of appreciation of your insightful efforts to help him.

one of my teachers told me: its easy to punch your opponent in the face. its much harder to kindly explain him why is he wrong in his intents, so that after that conversation he would ask you to become his sensei.

1 point by mattmaroon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Nah, you can say all the bad things you want. They just have to be about Microsoft, government, or intellectual property.

Seriously though, nobody likes a negative Nancy. From looking at your comments it isn't that they aren't positive, it's that they are just ranting.

2 points by jamesteow 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've found the contrary. On Reddit, the hivemind is ever present. On HN, generally it's far less prevalent... though it could just be confirmation bias.

Just like Reddit, downvotes should be cast on comments/submissions that don't add anything as opposed to providing an unpopular opinion.

2 points by Mz 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't matter what system you use, it will have good points and bad points. Ultimately, people issues aren't resolved by a better voting system or some such. They are resolved by fostering the right culture, which is somewhat independent of the system.
2 points by catshirt 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Not for nothing, but nearly all of the comments I looked at on your first 2 pages are pretty negative. Not that negativity is always necessarily a bad thing (ironically), but really man, why so angry?
2 points by icco 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know about HN being only a place to say nice things, but I do wish people would explain their downvotes.

If people knew what was wrong with what they were saying, then they wouldn't say it.

2 points by jrockway 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I am constantly negative and I have 22,000 karma points. It must be something else.
2 points by momotomo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Example thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1829049 - the open source campfire submission. People thrashed the UI in this thread but for the best part weren't negative or offensive.

People on HN are happy to pull something apart if it's incorrect, they just do it in an even tempered manner.

Additionally: This isn't reddit or slashdot, a lot of people here are looking to gain funding or contacts, therefore HN has much lower anonymity. Therefore more likely to be civil and appropriate.

1 point by bluesmoon 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I received 3 downvotes for a link to XKCD suggesting that readers lack a sense of humour. No one felt like leaving a comment stating why they downvoted.
1 point by gord 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I mostly agree.

I think we need to accept some false positives [such as foul language] in order to preserve a reasonable level of freedom of speech on HN.

Here I mean freedom of speech in the weak form, ie. that you stop posting something you truly believe, because of fear it will attract down-votes.

Useful ideas/opinions that occur in the long tail may offend some people - but I think HN is too uniform and PC without them.

1 point by volida 13 hours ago 2 replies      
If you are getting downvoted continuesly, why don't you take it as a sign you are indeed say something wrong?

from your comments:

"I found the UI unappealing and the heavy use of rotation effects amateurish."

that is mean, although because it was about Microsoft/Windows Phone 7 as a whole, there is almost zero direct effect on the people who worked on it, and therefore may reduce it's meaness factor by 0.001%, but amateurish and unnapealing? come on, that reveals negative energy.

1 point by SabrinaDent 13 hours ago 0 replies      
You could also decide you're going to say what you think on the topics where you feel you have something of value to add, say it as best you can, and not worry about the karma.

I'm not being snarky. It's a perfectly legitimate way to operate if you're clear that being able to dictate your own header color isn't why you're here. It's OK to opt out of the parts of the system that are not working for you.

1 point by drcode 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I write negative comments all the time and they seem to do fine.
2 points by rokamic 13 hours ago 0 replies      
<blockquote>it's just that the system discourages you to have your own opinion on anything</blockquote>

Please continue to bring your own opinion's to us, for the benefit of all.

Opinion's are cool, but intelligent ideas and lessons-learned are better.

1 point by petervandijck 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think it would be a good sign either if you never get downvoted. And who cares about karma, I mean, really?
1 point by bloomshed 13 hours ago 0 replies      
For any recent applicants to YC, how much does your expectation of contributing to the forum affect the comments and tenor of your posting?

If I were to answer my own question, I would say that I probably focus more energy than I should on sounding more insightful than I normally am and I get frustrated with a lot of the inane types of discussions such as: "What does it mean to be a successful tycoon who conquers the world and what's wrong with people who aren't successful tycoons who take over the world?"

1 point by khatarnaak 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Good way to get KARMA points Mr. DjDarkman, before this discussion his KARMA was ~20-30, now 74 elevated by 55 points.
Nice way to get KARMA points :).
1 point by kingkawn 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There is no cost in a system that has no meaningful value.
1 point by ptarjan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Judging by every article about Facebook recently, I disagree with you.
1 point by ashitvora 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure you will get maximum up votes for this post. :)
-4 points by drdo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I support this thread completely.
-4 points by Oxryly 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, you simpering vole.
-2 points by MountainDrew 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't wanna read your posts no more, you empty-headed animal food-trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

Would you prefer that?

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

-1 point by paulnelligan 13 hours ago 2 replies      
y'know a few downvotes are not the end of the world either. The most downvotes I've ever seen anyone get never exceeds 4. I've seen hundreds of upvotes for some submissions. So if you're worried about the karma, just post something interesting. Guaranteed you'll get your karma back AND still have the freedom to criticize something if you feel the need.
Why hasn't any VPN StartUp used the PR Hype of Firesheep to promote itself?
5 points by andreasklinger 2 hours ago   1 comment top
1 point by mayank 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Because the problem is trivially solvable if the companies in question bump all traffic to SSL, which they hopefully will do en masse now.
Offer HN: free design work.
53 points by sahillavingia 15 hours ago   48 comments top 31
16 points by SkyMarshal 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Africa Nutrition Society - http://answeb.org/

I'm doing pro-bono work for them to move their flat html to a CMS so the people running the organization can update news, events, calendar, etc. on their own without need for tech support, but am still just evaluating CMS's and hosts (probably gonna be Django-cms or Vosao on GAE for the amazing price point).

Their flat html site was designed by a company in UK, but is not as modern looking as it could be, and the information architecture is busy imho. They don't have all the content available for it yet either, but had to make it public for their annual African Nutritional Epidemiology conference in early October. It's also all table-based, and converting the non-tabular elements to div/span something I'd like to do, but getting it converted over to a CMS is a higher priority.

I've got my hands full getting the backend up and running and would love to have a review by a pro web designer. In addition to being able to blog about it, I'd be happy to include 'Design by Sahillavingia' at the bottom and introduce you (via email at least) to the organization principals.

3 points by jacquesm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey Sahil,

I'd very much like to take you up on your offer of doing design work but I would feel embarrassed to see you do it for free which means I can not enter in this round.

But if after you're done doing this really fantastically nice thing you feel you still have energy left over to do one more site and get paid for it then let me know, email in my profile.



1 point by sjs382 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
9 points by ronnier 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://ihackernews.com - HackerNews for iPhone/Android/Mobile phones.
6 points by kareemm 14 hours ago 3 replies      
cool post :)

we just redesigned http://www.easycalapp.com - a frustration-free booking calendar for solo entrepreneurs - but we need a sales page.

8 points by neilkod 14 hours ago 2 replies      
http://www.mymomjust.com and http://www.mydadjust.com. Using hadoop/pig, I searched through my 620-million strong twitter archive for all tweets containing "My Mom/Dad Just....." The results are hilarious. It's just a single-page site and could be some low-hanging design fruit.
3 points by michaelfairley 14 hours ago 1 reply      
http://remembersaurus.com - My recently launched webapp, and also my first attempt at making something look decent on the web.
4 points by lyime 14 hours ago 2 replies      
http://mugasha.com We make it really easy to listen to long DJ sets. Best place for listening to electronic dance music.
3 points by samdalton 11 hours ago 0 replies      

Fair trade is an industry that places emphasis on the producers of goods, rather than the distributors of them. A group of people in Auckland, New Zealand, are donating their time and resources to try and convert Auckland to be a fair trade city. With a population of over 1M people, this would make a significant difference to the lives of many producers in developing areas.

I've been managing social media and IT for the group, but we've yet to find a good design for our branding. The website above is a temporary page with some basic information, however as you can see it's nothing flash.

The entire project is coming from community efforts, so this would fit us perfectly, and if we're successful in our goal, many people around the world will benefit.

1 point by happybuy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm looking to produce a few banner ads for our new startup: http://www.happybuy.com/

Would be interested in an outsiders thoughts on the best creative to express the idea of the site and have banner-ad viewers turn into active users.

My initial thought would be to simply have different banner ads highlighting a product along with its price graph. It quickly shows the utility of the site and how you can save money by knowing the best time to buy. Turning product info such as:


into a mini-banner ad could provide some insight, more so than a simple brand focused ad.

1 point by rfugger 7 hours ago 0 replies      
http://ripplepay.com/ - It's a monetary system that works in a peer-to-peer credit network rather than the hierarchical banking network. See http://ripple-project.org/.

It's been a project of mine for five years now, and I'm working on a rewrite and need a new design.

3 points by nowarninglabel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.staticbuzz.com/ - Implementation of Q&A site model, done in the Drupal cms. Bonus, if this is picked, I'll make your design into a theme and contribute it back to drupal.org where the ArrayShift install profile is still in need of a good default theme. (*Note: The is site is hardly used, but I've actually used it many times to showcase what Drupal can do)
2 points by revoltingx 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm struggling to design a decent toolbar location for an RPG Maker type website.

Here's a snapshot: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Vtq6sCdzyKs/TMUub_v3L9I/AAAAAAAAAG...

1 point by andrewacove 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.getaquirk.com/ Ties your social network accounts (FB, Twitter, 4SQ) to a QR code. Scan to connect.

Main focus is on getting users past the home page to sign up for the service. What's there still doesn't do a good enough job convincing the users why they should sign up.

The next problem is getting users to actually connect through the service. Channeling users to download a scanner app and download their QR code is probably the next major step.

2 points by phamilton 15 hours ago 1 reply      
2 points by simonk 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.rhinoaccounting.com - Web based accounting software
2 points by csomar 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm building an HTML5 Video Player. I would be interested in a nice and custom carcass for it. (That is the buttons, progress bar, volume...)
1 point by mattmiller 14 hours ago 0 replies      

It is a Facebook app that lets Realtors shows their listings. I have tried to make it presentable, but I usually end up doing tasks that are more fun and let the design suffer. Thanks!

3 points by mr_november 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://peerlove.com - web based employee recognition
1 point by casabian 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm doing a project in which I live in a different neighborhood in New York City with different people every week. I guess I'd rather see this go to the Africa nutrition society but I'd love to improve the site and do some cool things with maps / linking to specific posts.

The site is on tumblr right now at http://thenycnomad.tumblr.com.


2 points by perucoder 14 hours ago 0 replies      

Please help! I'm always hard on my own designs but I dont think my current one is good at all. My product is a meeting management web app.

1 point by Nogwater 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.SpellingThing.com/ - Web based spelling practice app. I'm clearly not a designer and would love some help.
1 point by cosjef 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Startup Weekend Atlanta (Start Atlanta)! We are planning the 3rd annual startup weekend in Atlanta. We have a base Wordpress site up, and need some graphic design help. The more pressing need is for a logo. The event will be held at the Georgia Tech ATDC in January 2011. Our team of 6 has no graphic design expertise, and we will otherwise have to pay for the design work out of sponsorship dollars. The upside for you is getting your design in front of Atlanta's entrepreneurship community. Sound like a win-win?
2 points by anthonyc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
CityReporter - http://plus1lab.com/about-cityreporter

It's a service for state and local governments to improve their customer service relationship with their citizens. It implements the Open311 GeoReport v2 API, meaning the data is open and Free.

We could really use a nice theme for the web administration interface! I have no idea if that fits within your 5 allotted hours though.

1 point by zaidf 14 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by klbarry 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I work in sustainable fashion. We have a designer, but he is busy with other projects. I would love an infographic to help me put the facts on the fashion industry and pollution/waste etc in an easy to read and visually interesting format for lay people.
1 point by lappet 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A Geography Quiz app! The maps are from the CIA Factbook and there are some countries no one is ever heard of :)
1 point by techbio 13 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.ampnote.com/ - Guitars and Gear, Mostly Text
1 point by daleathan 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Hello Sahil,

Excellent offer, I hope you have fun creating and blogging about the process.

I would like to suggest creating a logo for the Gramps project [1] (a Genealogy Program) which I just found a few days ago and in a reply to me one the developers mentioned that they have "No real official logo."[2] and from the looks of the project they could use a new wiki template[3].

Please consider upvoting to help improve the project.

[1] - http://gramps-project.org/
[2] - http://goo.gl/JDN1
[3] - http://www.gramps-project.org/wiki

1 point by kenneth_reitz 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm writing a new todo application that runs and syncs on ALL platforms: Fin.


-4 points by taggstr 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Pick this one.
Ask HN: How do you tune your life?
96 points by DeusExMachina 1 day ago   38 comments top 17
1 point by skowmunk 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
It would depend on what I am tuning my life for at a particular period fo time.

Earlier, I used to tune my life with the purpose of filling two of my biggest bottlnecks to reaching my dreams, experience(/knowledge) and money.

I used to work long hours at my regular job to learn as fast and as much as I could. Then I used to go to another city on the weekends to do weekend work and make more money as future capital.

My way of living also used to be dead cheap (it still is, but with a different focus though). For a year earlier, I used to live in a 10' by 8' bedroom with just an airbed and the rest of the room filled with the all the rest of my belongings.

I also stopped cooking and became dependent on cheap, lean frozen foods from walmart and ethnic stores. In my view, when doing two jobs, the cooking and cleaning is an utter waste of life and time that can be better spent acquiring knowledge, including how to make money.

Later, I started a company while working fulltime. Then I started tuning my life to let me do that. Cut down social life and other thigns to a bare minimum, still lived cheap provided it didn't cut my ability to what I had to do, cut down the earlier weekend job.

Now I spend time learning stuff that would enable me to run my company better, execute ideas better, reaching out to my friends who might be insterested in joining what I am doing.

i still dont' cook and clean, waste of time especially when you know how to eat cheap. The airbed burst a few years ago, now I sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor - good way to remind I haven't reached my dreams yet and not oversleep too!

24 points by mantas 1 day ago 1 reply      
I had a bad burnout this summer. I literally couldn't stand looking at any code. Although 4 weeks trip with no access to computers - only new cities, mountains and heavy metal gigs - fixed me.

I've two big problems. First is I work from home. So sometimes I work 12-16 hours a day. By "work" I mean I sit in front of my laptop, but it doesn't mean I'm productive. Second problem is that being INTJ, I don't have much friends, so I usually end up staying at home for days (and coding most of the time) until I run out of groceries.

After I got back from my "sanity trip", I started doing several things to avoid burnout.

- Cycling. Used to do 30+ kilos almnost every day. Now it's getting cold here, so I do few short rides a week.

- Walking. If I'm not cycling, I try to get out of the house every day. Just to wander in downtown or get rolls from a bakery 15 minutes away.

- Eating out. I occasionally go for lunch with friends working nearby.

- Limiting my hours at keyboard. I moved most of my reading to Kindle, either in bed or outside. Previously, even after work-hours I was slipping from reading back to work easily. Kindle helps to avoid this.

- Meeting with friends at least once a week. Even if you think you don't have friends, try calling people you know and ask them out. There's a big chance that they have nothing to do as well :)

- Heavy metal. This helps me stay sane A LOT. Listening to records is good. Live shows are even better. After a nice (well, nice in metal way) gig I've energy for whole week. If you don't like heavy metal, listen to rock, classic, jazz or whatever you like. Listen not while working, but truly listen to music. And go to live shows. That's where music becomes Music.

So far, so good. I'm putting in less hours, but delivering more.

13 points by zatara 1 day ago 2 replies      
This reminds me a lot what I used to do before and it inevitably led to burnout and disaster. So I will be straightforward with you, STOP trying to fix yourself like you were one of the problems you like to hack on. You already have a very good life, but it is not a matter of what you do, it is about how you do it. Just let go off your need for control.

I discovered that what I needed was good nurturing. Good people. Good food. Good books. Good sleep. Good exercise. Good solitude. Good work (something you do for the love of it, not for some illusionary reward).

If you do it, you will see that all the discipline and things that you need will just come into your life. This is how children do (field-tested) and there is NO reason why we should do it differently. You are NOT a problem to be solved!

8 points by utoku 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't think I am really in 'tune' (by your definition) as I would like to be, but to be in harmony with your surroundings and environment, I think you need to observe them first and then decide on advantages and disadvantages and how you can change them.

For me, the realization was couple of things. After years of work in a small company that declared the biggest growth in Turkey, I joined up a startup only to see how it can fail in this country. After that, I have been freelancing for the last year, with the long term hopes of getting myself in the SF area. So I think hopes do help. I told the three employer offers I got last month that I would like to work remote from home office, two of which accepted. I took one of the jobs, subletted my house in the busiest part of Istanbul and moved south to the Mediterranean coast. I practiced Aikido three days a week while I was in Istanbul. Now they are asking me to teach it here, since I seem to be the highest level in the region. I like swimming, and I can do it here for free instead of paying lots of cash to a gym with a pool in Istanbul.

So in order to 'retune', I chose the way to change things drastically. Everything is not settled yet, and moving things around has not made me productive at all, and I should really be coding instead of responding to this but how did this happen:

- I realized I had to change somethings completely. Turkey is becoming a one city (Istanbul) country and I started to hate that fact. I started to hate the fact that everyone feels like they can only make money in that one city in the country. Like the rest of the country is just a hinterland serving that city. I like the city, but I think it is now at the edge of madness.

- I am now 36, and all those ideas are going to die if I don't do something about it.

- I don't enjoy working for other people's ideas anymore when I don't believe in them.

- Noticing that even my U.S. Computer Science education wasn't up to par, and I had to retrain myself, which is an ongoing effort.

- I get paid 3 times less than a U.S. programmer. Though it also means I can find programmers cheap here in case I need to hire them, I have trouble finding capable programmers that also get things done.

- There are no programmers my age that I know of. Well OK, I know one, and I am currently working for him.

- The need to start my own company and projects some time.

- If the programmer minds are meeting in the SF area, I should be there as well.

- I felt like I had to get rid of some of the strange loops in my life. My girlfriend (with whom I ended up leaving each other) warned that the loops are in the mind and I'll take them along to anywhere I go. This also has truth in it.

- The realization that I don't hack anymore. Even my hobby projects have turned into dull events.

So I decided I will make my own bay area first, however fake, and work from there. Thus I moved.

- I made a "field test" first to see if it would actually work. Basically. on my off month, I came here and worked on my hobby projects. I found that I was less stressful and more productive. What I didn't figure out was that this project was something different, and hobby projects always are fun. Boring projects can be harder to do on the country side.

- I have no proper networking to be really freelancing. Basically it is just that previous people that I worked with that like to give me work. This might not work since I won't be meeting anyone in the industry from here. But that is ok. I think I can build up my network from the net. Or move somewhere else. Or die trying.

So basically now I got my own view of a bay, looking west from my rented house. Hopefully I will get some work done today. So I changed it all. And I am all out of tune, because starts are a delicate points in time.

Another thing, before I did this, I was telling everyone that I was going to do it. Move south, work freelance from home. I told it to so many people, so often, and it became a reality. Basically writing it here also is a step in that direction.

6 points by metamemetics 1 day ago 3 replies      
>dishwasher for dishes

The trick to doing less dishes is not using a dishwasher but to have less dishes. If you're not a family of 4 you don't need to dirty 4 plates. Put only 1 of each thing in your main cabinet and the extras in a separate cabinet. Wash them by hand after using.

Also for productivity, use timers like WorkRave http://www.workrave.org . Taking breaks is a key to getting stuff done. The harder the problem and the more you have avoided it and let it build up, the more frequent the breaks you will need to tackle it.

Also if you use todo list, the most important thing to right next to each task is an estimate of the time it will take to complete. As soon as I did this I realized I how notoriously bad I was at estimating the time it takes to complete certain tasks and improved.

10 points by thibaut_barrere 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me the best way to tune my life has been to hack it completely.

My wife and I saved money while learning to create projects on our own + start working remotely too (gradually).

We then moved to the country-side so that we can take better advantage of what we had earned. We can currently sustain between 5 and 8 years of doing whatever we like (after buying a house, which we consider), so we own the most part of our time.

This basically translates into a lot more time for hacking/projects/marketing, but also time with kid, cooking, yoga, music etc.

16 points by Tichy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Just a note: it is not normal to lose a lot of time talking to your landlord. I rent, and I haven't spoken to my landlord in a year. Also, you can get a cleaner for a rented apartment, too?

Still, maybe if you have bought a house, at least you don't have to worry about it anymore. On the other hand, sometimes I have the impression that people who own actually worry MORE. That's also what Greenspun said, or so I seem to remember (can't find the blog entry right now).

5 points by JofArnold 1 day ago 2 replies      
Your rules are great. Obviously different things work for different people, but this is what I do:

1/ I'm nomadic. This means I don't have household things to worry about which frees a LOT of time. No washing-up for me :)

2/ I work 8am to 9pm Monday-Saturday with a 2 hour break for lunch and a 1hr trip to the gym

3/ I take regular walks and use our app (which I won't advertise here) to stay active.

4/ During the evenings (9-11:30) I write music, play L4D2 with friends, go to the pub, watch cartoons and draw.

5/ SUNDAY - KEY POINT #1: I go walkabout. I go for a 10-20mile walk along the beaches and cliffs of South England. I eat in pubs, drink a couple of real ales now-and-then... maybe have a nice coffee somewhere... maybe read a book. I never work that day. If I work just once, I can guarantee I will burn out within a fortnight.

6/ SUNDAY - KEY POINT #2: During my walkabout I spend at least 2 hours thinking about life - in particular what's important to me, what truly drives me and how I can add value during my short time on earth. I think about my family, my friends and how I can do the best for them without burning myself out.

7/ Every-so-often a take a few extra hours (even days) out to spend quality time with family and friends. Because 6 always shows that 5 and 4 are not enough ;)

Point 6 is utterly important IMO - everyone should spend an hour or two meditating on what is truly important to them.

5 points by vaksel 1 day ago 1 reply      
btw, chances are, that buying a house will actually be more of a time sink and hassle, compared to an apartment.
2 points by petercooper 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't, and since I stopped trying, my life has been a lot smoother. Instead, I play to my strengths and weaknesses. If I'm feeling hyper and in the zone, I'll work as much as possible. If I feel crap and need a week or two of barely doing anything, I'll do that. Incredibly self indulgent, but it works far better than the years of trying to have a system or "rules." This is only possible because I run my own business, though.
2 points by eof 1 day ago 1 reply      
wake up, weed, tea, something in my stomach.. hn.. code code code. hn, code code, something in stomach, weed, tea, code, tea, weed, code, tea, hang out with friends

i moved out to the country to spend more time coding because it was too easy to be distracted living downtown.

i basically didn't work or do anything productive for 5 years so i don't mind working a lot for a while

3 points by tomwalker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have taken time out of my profession to start a company, and I am still involved with a charitable organisation and my personal learning.

Day to day I use to do lists to ensure that I have a daily focus, but once a month I write down whats important to me and preen anything that isnt.

I also have a strong, supportive partner. I only met her 9 months ago and I was already well into the startup. She has been a god send.

2 points by nithyad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Being uber conscious about health, I spend some bit of my time cooking everyday. I would love to outsource this or find a healthy eat-out option. Since I only work on my start-up, there isn't much of a juggling.

Wake up at 6
Have tea
Read a bit
Make and eat breakfast
Be at work by 9 (it's a 5min walk to my work place)
work till 12.30
Have lunch n a short break
Start work again by 2.30
Work till 7
Gym for an hr
Shower n dine
Read/ TV/ Movie
Get to bed by 11

No gym on wednesday evenings. I seem to crave for a break mid week than weekend. I go to a pub/ movie or meet friends Wednesday evenings. I work Saturdays. Stay out late in the evenings. Wake up a lil late on Sunday. I take an hour or two out on a Sunday for my hobbies.

working out religiously, listening to the music of your choice and eating healthy will help you avoid a burn-out.

2 points by peter_severin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your schedule looks similar to mine.

- I wake up at 5 and go to bed at 9.

- I also work from home so I don't waste time on commute.

- I run for 1 hour every 2 or 3 days and do some exercises in other days.

- I cook a lot at home. Eat lots of salads and fruits.

- All errands are reduced to minimum. Very few things now can't be done using internet. Strange thing about your landlord. I haven't seen mine in months.

- I usually work during weekends. Then I make longer 2-3 week breaks once every 2 months to compensate. My day job is flexible enough to allow it.

- I don't own lots of stuff so things are easy to take care of around home.

2 points by sp4rki 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Food. Eat healthy. That alone has changed my life. If you eat healthy it's a whole lot less probable that you'll experience burnout because you tend to to feel better about yourself and have more energy to spare.
2 points by illuminatus31 1 day ago 0 replies      
My weekdays:

8-9: drink coffee, walk dog

9-12: code

12-1:30: hit the gym or afternoon hike with said dog.

1:30-5: code

5-7: Read HN/news/talk with friends

7-9: Smoke pot, code or watch some HBO & unwind

9-12: Bowl of cereal, fall asleep around midnight

Wash, rinse, repeat

1 point by corprew 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I work really hard on my side projects in the winter, and enjoy the summers. There are only so many summers in one's life and it's good imho to enjoy them.
Ask HN: Do the big tech companies know their competitors' plans?
7 points by lunchbox 6 hours ago   2 comments top 2
3 points by scrrr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Here in Germany there's a rumor that when Mercedes launches a new car-model, the next day it's in the parking lot of BMW where the engineers are taking it apart completely to see what is new at Mercedes.

In fact, when they make a new car, they send one to BMW, Audi, Volkswagen etc. and expect them to do the same in return. As if saying: "You're going to do it anyway, so here, have one."

I assume something similar might be going on at big tech companies such as Sony or Microsoft. But I do not think they know what their competitors are planning for next year other than observing what trends are currently hot and what new technologies are becoming available.

1 point by iuguy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't forget that Apple and Google work together, as do Apple and Microsoft. So they will know some of each others' roadmaps, quite legitimately.
Ask HN: Page99Test.com - Would you submit to YC?
12 points by LanceJones 9 hours ago   17 comments top 10
2 points by PaulJoslin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I also agree with a few others. The fact that I clicked 'start reading' and then got a login / sign up window appear - I instantly just shut the page down.
It really needs some form of demo for me to see what I will experience before signing up.

An even better model would be to allow anyone to read, but limit only registered users to be able to comment or rate. Allowing any visitor to browse and read pages.

Although ultimately to get initial traction / users perhaps remove the need to login at all unless you are submitting your work.

You speak of monetization and I would imagine the obvious routes would be through affiliate schemes with the eventual book publishers or 'premium' services for book publishers that want their book to get 'tested' by the most people / essentially top of the list.

With both of those options there is no requirement for a typical 'visitor' who is reading / ranking books to have to register or login at all.

2 points by jamesteow 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to give kudos to your designer. This is probably the most well-executed web design I've seen on YC in the short time I've been participating. I like all the small details. And the overall feel is the warmth of a book, something that I think it really hard to execute on a digital medium without being cheesy.

One tiny thing: On the sign up overlay, the input box margins seem tighter on the right than the rest. This is what I mean: http://i.imgur.com/iD8TL.png I wouldn't be so particular if I didn't think the rest of the wasn't already looking so good.

It'd also be nice (though not overly essential) if the logos denoting where you were mentioned were clickable so that I could read the writeups.

Otherwise, great work and I wish your team success.

1 point by joshuacc 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Beautiful site.

Unfortunately, the background took 45 seconds to download on a slowish DSL connection, and was very distracting as it progressively loaded. That's not surprising, considering that the PNG is 3MB. You can definitely improve the responsiveness here.

I like the concept quite a bit, but wonder how useful it will be if used according to the "page 99 rule." Unless you're wanting sentence or paragraph level evaluation I'm not sure that the feedback would be all that helpful. By page 99, any fuller evaluation would depend on knowing the contents of pages 1-98.

For instance, a reader sees page 99 full of things like "Thou art a despicable knave, wench!" Reader sends feedback saying, "The language is really awkward, even for a Tolkienesque fantasy." What the reader missed, though, is that page 99 is part of the school play written by a DnD fanatic teacher and is absolutely hilarious in context.

I'm definitely not writing off the concept, but would hope that there is a way to add more context to the page.

Also, the domain bugs me a bit. Is page99.com available? Seems more memorable and less spammy to me.

2 points by thewordpainter 8 hours ago 1 reply      
good work, lance & co.

a couple initial thoughts:

-fivesecondtest was the first thing that came to mind when i checked it out (before reading your blurb) so glad to see you guys aware of the market.

-as opposed to "rating" initial impressions, i'd focus on the oft-used phrase, "initial impressions mean everything" as a part of the pitch.

-is there any way to delay the signup proces for after an initial look? i think a number of people who would otherwise be willing to check it out are turned off by having to sign up for another site off the bat (and i imagine a number of the HN community would agree with the sentiment)

-i think goodreads & lulu would provide great opportunities to leverage their existing communities...maybe future partnership with the latter?

hope that helps!


4 points by davidedicillo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by decadentcactus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing that bugs me is the "As Written About By.." bit. This is more for any site that does it and not yours in particular. But it just has a bunch of logos there, I can't read what they said about it either. You could put any logo there you want and I wouldn't be able to verify it. I checked for a testimonials sorta page but there didn't seem to be one either.

Just a personal annoyance since I've seen a lot of sites do it, just show a bunch of logos, or link to the homepage (say of the Guardian) without letting me read the review.

2 points by fleitz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Why are you debating about applying?

Just apply if you don't get accepted then you know that YC isn't interested, maybe someone else is.

Why do I need to sign up to start reading?
The page IS stunning, but it takes a long time to load.
Instead of a feedback form, have you considered just having a next page button?

1 point by davidedicillo 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I love everything about it: concept, design, execution. The only thing that really bothers me is the domain.
1 point by suliamansaleh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
i think its amazing, i love the name, with the quote that compliments it, the design and the idea is unique and catchy, and with 3 co-founders, i think y combinator will love you, they hate single founders, you see, definately apply.

p.s. theres a huge market for authors on the web, as to what ive seen anway

1 point by tpr1m 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Great idea and killer design, to say to least.
Ask HN: Rails or Django?
41 points by vital101 23 hours ago   54 comments top 31
6 points by larrykubin 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Jobs, Adoption, and Community - plenty of adoption of both, but I've seen more Rails opportunities than Django

Scalability - you'll be fine with either

Fun - Rails

After completing a bunch of PHP projects, I recently completed a project for a client where I spent about 6 months with Django. It was fine and I'm glad I did it, but I can't say I would call it "fun". There were a few points that I found painful. The django admin is customizable and for certain types of apps, it works well. But I wanted my clients to use it to manage data in a legacy database. The inspectdb command was cool and generated models for me along with some data management forms. However, getting the forms to work in ways that matched the workflow of my clients was difficult. I found myself wanting to do things like a "reverse" inline -- there were several things that I couldn't figure out and StackOverflow searches didn't reveal good solutions. On my next django project, I decided not to use the admin because it took me longer to figure out how to customize it then it did to just use ModelForms outside of the admin. I haven't found many of the contrib apps to be all that useful or flexible.

And for reporting, some of the more complicated queries just didn't work well with the ORM, and I found myself doing ugly things to avoid writing SQL (I know Django doesn't prevent you from writing raw SQL).

I just didn't get the same "fun" feeling I did when I first developed a Rails app, first grabbed a Vimeo API or flickr gem off of Github, and first pushed it up to Heroku and saw it magically work. And I didn't feel like I was any more productive than I was with PHP -- the main benefits were that 1) my code was more readable and 2) it led me to another opportunity in a completely different area that involves writing python -- but rather than Django, I get to work with Twisted, and this has expanded my horizons greatly.

8 points by ibejoeb 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I do both; they're both worthy of your time to investigate. I've had more success with Django. They both offer roughly the same thing, but when it comes to taking something live and handling significant traffic, I find it's easier to go out of the box with Django. That is, when the plain vanilla is no longer sufficient, Rails, as a matter of course, fights you. I appreciate the "we know better" paradigm that it operates under because it can teach and enforce some pretty good practices. Although I speak only for myself, I've had many conversations with some very experienced folks, and I've felt like we were on the same page.

Also: if you're already comfortable with Cake, the jump to Rails is probably quite short. I'll bet you become very productive on it very quickly.

The Python job market in New York is hot, and Django is very popular. I don't see too much other than Rails opportunities for those that bring Ruby knowledge, but there is certainly enough Rails work to keep you busy. The upside is that there are lots of CMS and infrastructure stuff that is Ruby based, but they tend to be products in their own right rather than tools to hack on. In my opinion, Rails carries Ruby in the market. Without Rails, Ruby would probably fade back into relative obscurity.

7 points by mikeryan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I like both languages and frameworks and honestly I don't think either has a huge edge of the other on any of the criteria you're looking at.

In general however I prefer Python as a language and Rails as a framework.

I think Rails is hands down the best architected and easy to use framework out there. I think Python is one of the most well curated and thought out languages. I should say this, I doubt I would have every learned Ruby if not for Rails (though its my "go to" language now for simple scripts, having replaced Perl), I'm pretty sure I'd have learnt Python at some point regardless of Django.

5 points by risotto 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I've done a lot of Django, Rails and PHP. The choice always depends on what your app looks like.

If your app has a lot of non-user facing CRUD (i.e. a CMS or publishing app), Django offers some incredible shortcuts with the built-in admin app.

I also think Python is a better systems programming language (i.e. calling out to unix during web stuff), due to it's scientific background.

Otherwise RoR and Django are roughly the same MVC frameworks -- opinionated conventions about models with a database abstraction layer, and views and controllers (templates and views in Django terms).

Likewise, Ruby and Python are roughly the same -- object oriented scripting languages.

But for your specific questions, I'd say Rails wins by a long shot. There are a lot more Rails companies/jobs in the Bay area (though more Python than Ruby jobs, again because of science). Rails 3 shows the community is still going strong.

Sinatra is the most fun for simple web services and it integrates with Rails no problem.

And most importantly, you can use Heroku for Ruby deployment, which is an incredible short cut for launching a site and its impossible to go back to being a sys-admin once you realize it's not necessary.

4 points by runjake 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't a complaint, because although some may be tired of this question being asked, I personally enjoy the subject being brought up a lot, because of the new perspectives and quick pace of development for each project, but you'll find a lot of additional insight by back searching for "Rails vs Django", too.

There is no right answer, and you can't go wrong with either. Try both, run through _many_ tutorials for each, and decide.

Remember that everything sucks. Find the one that sucks less for you.

I'm still more productive and knowledgeable in Python/Django, but find Ruby/Rails/Sinatra more fun, and I enjoy the new ways of thinking it causes in this old Perl programmer.


I'm still trying to grasp many of the concepts in Ruby, and the rapid pace of development and prevalence of trends is daunting. Many things in the Ruby world are hackish and/or poorly documented. I question DHH's wisdom.

For Python, the indenting thing still bugs the bejeebus out of me. I'm not a trendy kind of guy, but it is a bit too untrendy to me.

They're both great, overall, though. Find the one that matches you, because nobody else can decide that for you.

3 points by rufugee 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I just returned to Rails after a brief stint with Django. I was working on a stackoverflow-ish site and wanted to make use of an existing OS project if possible. Django has OSQA, and Rails has Shapado. Shapado would've naturally been the better choice for me, but they use MongoDB and at the time I started the project, I questioned the wisdom of that decision. Learning Django (since I already know python) and using OSQA seemed like the better option, as it would allow me to use my beloved PostgreSQL.

Bias warning...I've used Rails for far too long now, so it's very familiar to me and I'm comfortable with it. That said, here's the heavily opinionated and subjective reasons why I'm back:

* urls.py - the python regular expression syntax makes your route definitions very ugly as they grow. I find Rails' route DSL much more intuitive.

* Lack of model-level validation - OSQA uses Form objects to validate models rather than letting the models validate themselves (as Rails does). In OSQA, the Form objects are rather heavily bound to the UI interaction, so if you need to create models outside of the web app itself (I did) it gets painful. I kept having to hack these form objects to get them to validate properly. I've been told that Django now provides model-level validation, but OSQA doesn't use them (for now).

* ORM - I find ActiveRecord to be a much cleaner and intuitive ORM.

* Django's template language - I don't work with designers, so I don't need to be hobbled by a template language that is limited by design. I know you can use other template engines, but I was working with what OSQA provided, so I was stuck.

* Community - the Rails community in general is more active.

* Language preference - at the end of the day, Ruby just feels more natural and clean to me. You could attribute this to familiarity, but I actually knew python long before I knew ruby. I do like python, but tend to "think" in ruby.

I re-assessed my progress after a month and realized I was just not reaching the same level of productivity I was used to. I decided to switch course and learn MongoDB, which was probably the decision I should've made to begin with, and my productivity instantly improved. I was able to move the features I'd created in Django over within a few nights of focused effort, and I couldn't be happier with Shapado (and, surprisingly, mongodb).

This is simply my experience. If it were a completely new project, my experience might've been different. YMMV.

6 points by ubernostrum 20 hours ago 0 replies      

Do a tutorial in each language, it'll take you a day at most. Then pick a framework that matches the language you liked better.

8 points by LeBlanc 21 hours ago 0 replies      
If you go searching around for comparisons between the two, keep in mind that Rails just released v3 which is significantly different and improved over versions 2.
2 points by hoop 19 hours ago 1 reply      
There are plenty of reasons why you should use Django or Rails over the other, but I rather discuss why maybe you shouldn't use Django. I haven't used Rails, so I will not be discussing that side of the coin.

Django is a wonderful framework as long as you work inside the box. There's a large enough of a community for support, plenty of documentation, and alot of the pieces for a website are already written for you and work just fine.

Where Django seems to break down is:

1. When you upgrade Django, or
2. When you start customizing Django

With just about every release of Django, something breaks. Thankfully, these changes are usually outlined in the release notes, but this often results (from what I've seen) in projects running on fairly old versions of Django because nobody wants to break a working website or app by upgrading their framework. Where I come from (sysadmin turned web dev,) you don't want to run outdated software and you don't want things to break. With Django, you're constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Theoretically, you can write all the middleware, decorators, backend authentication modules, etc you want and plug it into Django and have it work flawlessly; however, this isn't always the case in practice. This blog post from one person explains their gripes with extending ,and eventually replacing, Django: http://blog.brandonbloom.name/2009/08/dropping-django.html

It's important to keep in mind that Django was ultimately developed for news websites. This makes it a great framework for building CMSes, blogs, etc but causes it to break down when you start moving outside of that use case.

(Also, FWIW, Django doesn't natively support schema migrations, although their are tools such as "South" that implement this functionality.)

I think that if you're interested in using a Python-based like framework, you should also consider Pylons and Tornado.

4 points by iuguy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
You already have some python experience, I'd say give Django a try. It's not hard to get a simple app up and running, and if you already understand the underlying language basics you'll find it even easier.
3 points by jordanmessina 20 hours ago 0 replies      
As everyone else said, both is best. If you're looking for which one to get started with first, I've always felt that Django has a less steep learning curve.

Check out what's generated for you when initially starting a rails app: http://twitpic.com/30sz41
vs. a Django app: http://twitpic.com/30szgk

I think Django is a little less overwhelming for beginners.

2 points by jbarham 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem domain you're working in is also important. For example, if you're doing heavy duty number crunching for finance or image processing, Python has NumPy, for which AFAIK there is no equivalent for Ruby.

Then again at very large scale you don't want to restrict yourself to one language in which case you can lash together various components using a distributed job scheduler like Gearman (http://gearman.org/).

3 points by flacon 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As a professional Rails developer, I will try to answer all your points from a pro rails point of view. Granted, I have dabbled with Django and found it satisfying also.

* Adoption - Rails is being heavily adopted, especially with the startup community, but also state agencies, hospitals etc.

* Community - Rails has a strong community of core devs, plugins devs, conferences, books etc.

* Jobs - Tons of Jobs in my experience. We have a hard time finding good Rails/Ruby devs. I have checked the market, seems like there are plenty of Rails jobs across the country. Check out: http://jobs.37signals.com/

* Scalability - Yes, Rails can scale. Check out: http://rails100.pbworks.com/Alexa+Rankings Ever heard of Hulu, JustinTV or Big Cartell?

* Fun - Ruby was designed for programmer happiness

3 points by poink 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Adoption: Rails is bigger. Both are healthy, and neither is going anywhere.

Community: These are roughly equivalent. The Rails community is probably significantly larger, but there's more than enough activity and information coming from both to keep you plenty satisfied.

Jobs: It's easier to find a Rails job.

Scalability: You can scale both. Both frameworks are pretty heavyweight, but they're also both designed with scaling in mind (e.g. decent caching is built in).

Fun: If you like CakePHP, then assuming you don't just irrationally hate Python or Ruby you should feel right at home with either one.

Full disclosure: I do Rails for a living.

2 points by carterac 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The one factor I haven't seen mentioned so far is that Python has more math and science libraries. So if those kind of problems interest you, that is worth considering.

On a semi-related note, at Art.sy we use Zend, a PHP framework, for our web app (all our AI is in a separate Java service). We've found Zend to be great and I've noticed that large companies like AppNexus, NextJump, and (initially) Facebook use Zend too. Yet I've never seen it mentioned on HN. Curious if anyone can explain this.

2 points by roder 22 hours ago 1 reply      
You should just learn both (and more). You shouldn't isolate yourself to 1 language, you should learn as many as you can, because the diversity and understanding will make you a better programmer. It's not like that Python or Ruby are that different from each other anyhow.
1 point by carbon8 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Regarding jobs for each framework, there are far more Rails jobs than Django jobs: http://news.ycombinator.com/x?fnid=JBPFd8i2nk.

For me, I periodically use Django for content-centric sites with standard CRUD operations primarily performed by a small number of privileged users, but I prefer Rails and Sinatra for most projects. I prefer the Ruby web development ecosystem, with libraries like Haml, Sass and Compass.

2 points by kenneth_reitz 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is more of a decision between languages rather than Frameworks.

I'm a passionate Pythonist with a deep respect for Ruby. I personally find Python to be extremely elegant in both syntax and paradigm, but Ruby is the next thing I'd use if Python were to disappear today.

In my experience, Python generally has more backend libraries and tools, while Ruby has more frontend. Of course, there are hundreds of exceptions to this, but the premise of what I'm saying is this: Python developers tend to come from other unixy backgrounds, and Ruby devs often are web-centric.

As far as the frameworks themselves are concerned, Rails has a bit more magic "convention over configuration", while in Python "explicit is better than implicit", so Django is a little more engineer-friendly.

I highly recommend you read the Zen of Python to see if the language is a good fit for you: http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0020/

Something to keep in mind.

2 points by robwgibbons 16 hours ago 0 replies      
After considering all of the angles, we chose Django over Rails. At the end of the day, the biggest difference between the two is the languages they're each based on. And at the end of the day, we prefer Python over Ruby. This is for a number of reasons, including massive community and commercial support, libraries, etc.

This is not to say RoR is not awesome, it's mostly a preference of language.

1 point by keokilee 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who has a passing knowledge of both, I also find that I like Python more than Ruby but I like Rails more than Django. The main reason is that the Rails community is larger and more active than the Django community.

That said, it depends on your needs. Rails has a slightly steeper learning curve than Django (mostly because there are a ton of helpers and options in the API). If you want something that will get you started quickly, I'd go with Django. Later on, you'll have to do a lot of Django hacking to get some things that come for free in Rails.

1 point by ig1 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm just learning Rails now, and while I still prefer Python over Ruby, Rails is more fun and I'm feeling I'm getting more done with less effort.

On the other hand I think Django is simpler to understand in-depth, with Rails I feel like a lot of it is magic and it'll take a lot more work to understand how it works (but it isn't stopping me being productive with it).

1 point by AdamN 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I picked Django because:

* The documentation was better than Rails
* Python is more useful outside of Django than Ruby is outside of Rails
* The Python syntax seemed easier to read

Since then, I've become a big fan of Django and Python. With that said, plenty of smart people are using Rails. I agree with some of the other commenters that you should do the tutorial for each framework before deciding.

As for jobs, both Rails and Django have tons of open positions available and hot startups using them.

1 point by mattculbreth 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The correct answer of course is "both". There are many similarities between the languages and the frameworks, and there are good job opportunities for each.

Go do a side project with one of them and release it. Then go do another side project with the other and release that. Then go get a job or contract with one or the other. You'll be able to say you've used each, you'll be able to give pros and cons to each, etc.

0 points by danieldon 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Honestly, I think these "Ask HN: X vs X?" posts should be strongly discouraged here. The Rails vs Django threads get posted at least once a month, often more frequently, and it's beyond tiresome. They already get flagged and killed half the time, but people still post in them as if it's totally normal to have the same question posted week after week.

Edit: Instead of downvoting, explain why you think this same discussion needs to be rehashed month after month, sometimes week after week. When it comes to other topics we have no problem reminding people to search HN rather than ask the same questions repeatedly.

5 points by richardhenry 19 hours ago 0 replies      
For smaller projects, I'd wholly recommend Flask over Pylons or web.py: http://flask.pocoo.org/

I'd even say consider Flask for larger projects if you have patience, a good head for package/module layouts, and are after a really "no fluff" framework.

Tie it up to Nginx using Gunicorn: http://gunicorn.org/

(Here's the instructions in the Flask docs: http://flask.pocoo.org/docs/deploying/others/#gunicorn)

You will get some killer, low memory performance (many times smaller memory footprint than Django) out of that setup.

1 point by zimro 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried (and still working) with both languages that power the respective frameworks, and from my own opinion they are the same. I've been in your situation too and the best way to find what framework suits you is to go and try them, build something.

I wont respond to your question as I've a little more inclination to Ruby/Rails than Pyhton and I don't want to influence your decision, you should really try them both and find by yourself.

1 point by codyguy 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Gaining followers might not be the right metric to follow. A stable framework might not gain followers at the same rate as a hyped up shiny-new-thing.

Since you say you are "bored", why not try both out for a day or two and see what's more "fun" to you?

1 point by honza 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not familiar with Rails, but in Django you are 100% tied to SQL databases. There are some efforts to make talk to NoSQL databases (like App Engine). Google actually gave up those efforts.

In Rails, I believe the database backend can be either. Look at Twitter - their using Cassandra.

0 points by taphangum 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I would stick with PHP and try codeigniter. Going down the 'Rails' or 'Django' path. Ultimately just gives you a new toy.
I wouldn't say it was worth it. But that depends on what your goals are.

Ruby is a nice language though. I do all my non-web stuff in that.

I highly recommend Peter Cooper's Book: Beginning Ruby, Link:http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Ruby-Novice-Professional/dp/..., if you'd like to get started with it.

0 points by shabda 21 hours ago 0 replies      
-3 points by thdn 21 hours ago 0 replies      
go Django you wont regret
Ask HN: Buying domains for side projects
46 points by ramanujam 21 hours ago   55 comments top 26
9 points by there 18 hours ago 0 replies      
i have a personal domain (jcs.org) and i just create a subdomain for a new project. it lets me put it online quickly and it also means i'm not tied to the name if i want to change it.

sometimes i finish a project and it never moves (http://metra.jcs.org/) because i can't find an appropriate domain name.

though as someone else suggested, try http://hntrades.com/ to buy/sell/trade unused domain names.

5 points by byoung2 21 hours ago 5 replies      
It's funny I had this exact conversation with a coworker just this morning. The company we work for has a portfolio of nearly 1 million domain names, and most of them point to simple placeholder pages with ads.

I personally own about 50 domain names...most that I bought with the intention of using for a specific project that never materialized. With a handful of them I paid a writer in the Philippines to write a dozen articles for each, and I threw together simple wordpress sites with RSS autoposting and they make about $10/mo each, which pays for the renewal fees for all of the other domains.

I suppose in theory I could register 1000 domain names and repeat the process of paying for content, setting up wordpress RSS autoposting, and possibly make $10,000 a month, but I never seem to get around to it, and there's the possibility that it won't be as profitable as I think.

6 points by bryanh 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmmmm, I have 49 domains. That's costing me $400 a year. I'd say a good two dozen are active(ish). They just seem to accumulate...
6 points by Andrew_Quentin 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I must say, when I was doing some domain research, I though to myself more than once : "this is, this is criminal".

These were domains dealings with quite serious subjects and just seeing them sitting there full of ads, making it so very much difficult for me to acquire, absolute gorgeous domain names, just felt not only immoral but purely and simply criminal.

Of course I got over it and moved onto domains which were available and suitable and just as good, but, and this is not to you personally but companies who buy such domains names en mass hopping to profit, simply, find a way to make money which allows you to get sleep at night.

10 points by sammcd 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I recently instituted a "no domains after midnight" rule. I've dodged a few bullets with that one.
3 points by profquail 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the important thing is to have some measure of self-control; if you buy a domain for a project, promise yourself that you won't buy another until you've either: (a) built the project, or (b) sold/traded the domain or otherwise used it in some gainful way.

Disclaimer: I've got a bunch of domains that I purchased for personal projects and never got around to. But at some point, I realized I was just wasting money and promised myself not to buy any more until I finished at least one of the projects.

3 points by irons 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't really consider it a negative for my years-old untapped ideas to cost me a token amount of money per annum. If my unused twitter accounts did the same, I'd probably have a few more active projects, or a few fewer dormant ones.
3 points by arn 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm going to be a little contrary and say you should register as many as you can when u can.

I have over 300 domains, but the value in a good domain is well worth the cost over the years. TouchArcade.com is one I picked up before I had a solid plan for its use. Now it's annual revenue dwarfs the "wasted" money on domains.

3 points by kilian 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently evaluated all the domains I had accrued, took a critical look at all the apps I wanted to built for them and at what state they were in (if at all) and decided to ditch 50% of them.

It felt ...liberating. :)

1 point by ljf 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm the same, currently just have 3 though - om.gd - we.gd and whi.im - things planned for all of them, but am also interested in getting something going with them sooner than latter. Very interesting the money some people are making from links and basic content... hum...

Tempted to work up some decent ideas into ebooks, and have sites specific to each - just making sure they don't look spammy/rubbish. No point if they do.

6 points by bobbywilson0 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I only register the domain for a year, and if it expires in the year without me doing anything I let it go. I mean, it's been an entire year.
3 points by patrickryan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've encountered this same problem multiple times.

The fix: don't buy the domain until you are ready to launch the project. This allows you to build without having to adapt your project to a domain name. It's much easier to find a domain that describes your project after it has been completed. It also saves you money if you never carry out your grand ideas.

2 points by sriramk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm shaking my head right now. Literally 5 seconds before checking out the HN home page right now, I just finished the checkout process for yet another sideproject domain :)
2 points by johns 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone just released this last week: http://hntrades.com Post your domains there and get something for them.
3 points by borismus 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I am totally guilty of buying domains for side projects and then not following through.

I own 17 domains, 5 of which are currently actively hosting meaningful content or webapps. I went through a scrub of the ones that are unused, and realized that I need to let some go.

Here's a list of ones I'm letting expire. If you have a meaningful project idea for one of them let me know.


1 point by uptown 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm just like you. But I've started winding down my portfolio of ones I know I'll never get around to building. The interesting thing for me has been to see some businesses spring up with the same concepts for which my domain names were bought. That's happened with more than a few of my domain names.

I've also been fortunate to have a couple of my domains result in unsolicited bids ... generating enough profit to cover the carrying costs for the 20 still in my portfolio. Just got a completely unexpected offer for one last night.

2 points by thibaut_barrere 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I never start by buying the domain. Instead I spend a bit of time to write down the concept, see if it sticks.

It's only later that I look for a name for the project itself, and I buy the domain at the same time (it's a kind of whois brainstorming).

1 point by cliveholloway 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You post a large update in a place where you value your integrity stating that the goal you were going to achieve will be accomplished by a certain date (that appears reasonable).

In my case, it was to tweet that we'd be selling our latest discs (http://twitter.com/Thisoneisonus/status/27176693962) on a certain date, and then coding through the night a couple of days before because I didn't want to look like an idiot to our 5,000 obsessive Twitter followers :D

2 points by wisty 20 hours ago 1 reply      
You can use a subdomain of your personal website for testing. There will still be a good domain name available when the project is ready to launch.
3 points by bkorte 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I've stopped myself from buying domains for projects. I also force myself to let a domain expire if I don't use it within a year. It's extra motivation to shit or get off the pot.
1 point by robwgibbons 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I consider the purchase price of a new domain to be the first, and one of the best, barriers when vetting new ideas.

If I come up with a sweet idea, I sit on it. If after a few weeks the idea is still burning a hole in my pocket, I'll purchase the domain.

1 point by Isofarro 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've managed to accumulate about 150 domains, almost all of them were bought with an idea in mind (quite a lot are duplicates/complements/variants to the main idea).

This year I listed all of the ones that didn't have websites yet on sedo, and set all of them to a couple of hundred pounds each buy-it-now. The idea is that either I focus on building an idea quickly, or risk that someone who thinks he has a better idea than me snaps the domain name up in the meantime.

Hasn't worked. But, so far three of those domains have been sold, so that essentially covers all my domain name renewal fees this year.

Perhaps I should drop the prices to increase the pressure on myself.

1 point by jeffwidman 18 hours ago 0 replies      
For every three domains I buy, I probably keep one longer htan a year. And only half of those stay longer than two years (1/6). But those that last longer than two years are generally gonna stay around for a while--I bought them because I like the name, not because of a project sitting in my mind. Eg, AffinityScore.com just has a nice ring to it and would make a nice social ranking product or services business. (If you google "Affinity score" it's most often used by people describing EdgeRank...)
1 point by iworkforthem 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to buy tons of domains for all the ideas I have or planned to do in the future. The problem is ... most of the time, I could never get around to work on it. Either because one idea took up more time then expected, etc. Now I will just register domain once I'm almost ready to launch.

Looking at the rate startup fail, I guess it's quite alright to not get the domain I want. If things do work out, I can always rebrand it later.

1 point by mrschwabe 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone just emailed me today about one of these 'side project' domain names.

Back when I was a business noob I would register domains for just about any bright idea. It got expensive.

What I do now for those, 'on the shelf domains', is simply a white page with an email and a brief message explaining the domain is for sale.

A few inquiries so far, nothing much, we'll see how today's negotiation pans out.

1 point by curt 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually I have 5 domains left that are all 6-7 letters and make really sounding words. Bought them 6 years ago, holding on to them and use them whenever I start up a new company.
Ask HN: Do CS students enjoy C anymore?
56 points by davidu 19 hours ago   93 comments top 62
10 points by larsberg 18 hours ago 7 replies      
Many universities now offer a course using the Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective book (http://csapp.cs.cmu.edu/index.html). This is a fantastic book, focusing on nit-picky assembly and C-level work -- all the foundational stuff for an operating systems or compilers class, even if you never go on to one. Having TA'd this class the last few years, I find most students really enjoy it.

In fact, I think most of the HN crowd would greatly enjoy the "bomb lab" (http://csapp.cs.cmu.edu/public/1e/labs.html -- you can read the writeup but not get the source). The idea is that you have a binary and have to use gdb and some nice dumping tools to "defuse" a bunch of stages of the program, each with increasing difficulty. It's a fabulous exercise, and really makes students pick up a deep appreciation for stepping through assembly and data structures that are just lying around in memory.

11 points by elbenshira 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a CS student. Do I enjoy C? Yes, I enjoy C much more than C++ or x86. But why would I use C when Python or Java will suffice for most things? Of course, I pulled out C for OS and C++ for graphics and robotics, but most of what I do does not require being this close to the hardware.

I find C to be an elegant language. But we have so many other things to worry about, like the algorithms, data structures, security, concurrency, etc. If a language can help me with things like memory leaking and segfaults, then of course I'll go with that language over C. I have so many other things to focus on.

2 points by strlen 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Look for schools that teach primarily in C. At least when I was a student, Santa Clara University (Computer Science and Engineering department, then two departments: "Computer Science/Math" and "Computer Engineering") did that (with the exception of one Haskell-based course and several courses which gave students a choice of language to use). Not sure if it's still the case.

My local community college (where I started) - De Anza College did that as well. I am sure there are many others, just they may not be the most well known ones.

Not all the top graduates will want to go into systems programming, however. Great chunk of user-level systems programming (e.g., network services, distributed systems) is also being done in languages other than C. I suspect, many no longer view having real-world C experience (as opposed to just knowing it) as imperative for their career.

That said, I am not sure exactly what level of C proficiency are you looking for. I am guessing, strong knowledge of UNIX Systems Programming (IPC, interfacing with the VM, etc...) and BSD sockets? You can only learn this through experience and/or working meticulously, through Richard Stevens' books (I _highly_ recommend the former, even if you don't intend to touch C again). You can't expect to hire people with that knowledge straight out of college, but you can hire students with "good C programming ability and strong understanding of operating systems internals, who are interested in learning systems/network programming" (to put in terms of a job description) i.e., they should know what producer/consume problem is, but they may not always know all about UNIX signals, IPC mechanisms and the Linux VM.


Others have suggested to look for students who took an operating systems course. That's likely the best bet.

9 points by metamemetics 18 hours ago 1 reply      
You could hire Computer Engineering instead of Computer Science majors, they usually all know C well even if they practiced it in relation to hardware\embedded systems.

[at UIUC everyone does C++ Data Structures, but CS starts with Java, CE starts with C ]

13 points by smackfu 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Did anyone ever enjoy writing C, especially data structures?

Here is what I remember from college:


Segmentation fault.

12 points by phamilton 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Computer Engineers love C. We build embedded systems in it, write an RTOS, optimize code for cache coherency, reverse engineer binary bombs, develop for FPGAs. More C means less assembly.

We love this stuff.

4 points by barmstrong 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's becoming less common just like programmers who love assembly language are becoming less common.

The entire history of CS could be summed up as a move towards higher and higher levels of abstraction. They still expose you to assembly language in good CS programs as sort of a history lesson or to give you a deeper understanding of how it works underneath, but that doesn't mean people actually want to use it.

C is of course nowhere near as far along that path as assembly language, but it's a spectrum and seems to moving in that direction.

2 points by _delirium 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It's been a long time since it had a large role in CS curricula outside of operating systems / embedded stuff, I think. The intro classes when I was a freshman (2000) were transitioning to Java, but from Pascal, not C. The industry-focused classes (software engineering, etc.) all used C++.

I think I would personally have disliked C if college were my first introduction to it, because I associated it with curmudgeonly systems professors and a sort of harder-core-than-thou attitude. But for some odd reason I had already learned C in high school (I think I picked it randomly), and it's a perfectly enjoyable language to use, without the cultural baggage. You can even write things other than schedulers in it!

2 points by russell_h 17 hours ago 0 replies      
We (I'm a senior at Oregon State University) use C in classes more than any other language and I, for one, love it. I know a lot of students don't, but most of them at least have some idea whats going on.

Also the ECE ("Electrical and Computer Engineering") students here (and probably elsewhere) use a lot of C, so that might be something else to look into, although they're mostly familiar with embedded environments.

Maybe this goes without saying, but no one here (to my knowledge) gets very in-depth into a lot of stuff you might take for granted, for example I haven't met a single student (or many professors) who is familiar with mmap(). There are a lot of really smart students who could probably work out great with a few months of real-world experience and mentoring, but students who could sit down and work on production C code right out of graduation are probably less than 1 in 100.

2 points by Locke1689 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Apparently most CS is taught in Java and Python these days, with one or two courses in algorithms or operating systems. There seems to be only a few classes where C is involved.

These are bad schools. I'm really not willing to compromise on this statement.

Is this because teachers don't like teaching in C? Or because students prefer the speed of development of a language like Python or Java? Where are the students who do like C? Where can I find those guys (and girls)?

It's because C and systems are inherently hard and cannot be made... not. When your libraries are limitless your programming exercises can be made as trivial as possible.

I also always choose C if companies let me choose my language during interviews. I can fit the entire C language and its libraries into my brain all at once with no reference manuals.

C++? I don't think I could get everything even if I had the specification and Bjarne himself standing next to me.

1 point by mgrouchy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure where you find these people, generally you will find the small subset of students who do projects outside of class work generally work on the web because these are things that can be most easily shared with peers.

In my university, we did mostly Java(that was the "teaching language" that is used), I only did 3 courses that were primarily taught in C and there were only around 2 more courses that required C.

So what generally happens to most CS students is that they teach you Java in your first year and then any course where they tell you to use whatever language you prefer they choose Java, because thats what they are comfortable with and they have assignment/project deadlines looming, so they don't feel they have time to experiment in a new language.

Your best bet is to hire workterm/Internship students whom you can Train. It might seem like a waste, but its a real cheap way to get an idea of how good the person is, you get them early enough to train some bad habits out of them(if they exist) and evaluate whether they would be a good fit for your company. They also may accomplish something awesome along the way?

I did a 16 month internship before I graduated from University(which was really an 8 month extended to 16 month), most students like myself set up these internships in a way that after the internship they only have 1 semester of classes remaining, so they can ideally work part time with the company they internet with for that final 4 months and hopefully turn their internship into a fulltime Job upon completion.

1 point by tseabrooks 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm 26 and finished my M.S. in CompSci a couple years ago. All of my friends I graduated with from my under grad Love writing C and C++. Most of us ended up in jobs doing C and/or C++ for a living. I think a lot of this has to do with our 'upbringing'...

We went to a super small university (1500 people) and we got to do summer internships and independent study course work with one of our professors writing/modifying embedded wireless drivers in NetBSD. This resulted in a group of students that were more proficient at reading and understanding huge bodies of existing code when compared to students I've TA'd and worked with. This also means we all enjoy working in C (Though honestly most of us prefer C++). We work in jobs like embedded GPS devices. Embedded development for Televisions. Jet engine test software. Embedded signal / sensor processing and integration. It's only now, later on in life, that I realize most of the other people in these fields with us aren't CS guys but rather CE or EE.

Find a student, just 1, that is really into this and then find more students from his university... It's likely the environment / layout of the university's program is largely responsible.

3 points by leif 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Come to Stony Brook, and talk to Erez Zadok. He is the creator of unionfs, he teaches (undergrad) Advanced Systems Programming in UNIX/C, and (grad) Operating Systems, and runs a lab devoted to (mostly) Linux filesystems. NetApp, Data Domain, and other high-profile storage companies (maybe you know Riverbed?) regularly hire his students for their knowledge of operating systems and C.

His class is why I love C, and you'll find many more like me if you come talk to him.

4 points by catechu 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Students who've taken systems programming classes (e.g. Operating Systems) would be your best bet -- in my experience, most low-level programming is shafted to those classes, except in the cases where a professor arbitrarily requires C, which doesn't necessarily happen in algorithms classes either.

But even better would be to find students who hack on open-source projects written in C (e.g. Linux-related efforts) -- that's much more representative of a graduating student's ability to be productive using C. There are a lot of students working on such projects, and it might be worth starting there.

1 point by whimsy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a senior CS undergrad at UCSC.

C is used often here in upper divisions for Algorithms, Compilers, and Operating Systems at the very least. I suspect it's used anywhere that theory is deemed very important, because it forces you to understand the theory.

Personally, I don't like coding in it, though I think it's very important to learn in it - it forces you to learn how to do many things at the level of memory management. Learning how to make linked lists in C taught me a lot, for example, and ensuring that my program had no memory leaks also taught me a lot.

On the other hand, this is 2010 and there are programming languages that do memory management for you. Managing memory when you're doing relatively abstract stuff (in most cases) isn't fun OR elegant - it's just tedious. jdietrich talks about this some in another contemporary thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1830120

Therefore, I prefer Python - I don't want to program embedded systems.


Right now, I'm of the opinion that I ought to be language agnostic. However, I'm also of the opinion that I should know at least two programming languages very well:

I should know one high level language to Get Stuff Done quickly without worrying about tedious stuff like memory management - in these cases, performance is a secondary concern; modern computers are very powerful, and it's much more cost effective to simply write it quickly. Compilers are much better than I am at optimization, and they can do a lot, so why not leave it to them? For this, I've selected Python; I'm working on getting familiar with its many libraries.

I should also know one low-level language for things where performance is critically important, and it's worthwhile to take the extra time to calculate things like that. For this, I'm currently using C, but I plan on switching to Lisp.

1 point by xyzzyz 16 hours ago 0 replies      
They teach quite a lot of languages at my university. You can choose between Pascal and OCaml for the first programming course. Half a year later, you are supposed to write middle sized projects in Delphi and Java. Second-year student learns C++, and then chooses between further C++, Python, C# or CUDA/OpenCL classes. C is used in Operating Systems courses, Oracle and PostgreSQL on Databases, PHP, Javascript (JQuery) and Python (Django) on Web Applications. Prolog, Smalltalk and Haskell are used in Compilers classes. Students use language of choice on Team Programming Project.

These are all obligatory, one can additionally attend optional courses on Prolog, Dylan, Common Lisp and some other I do not recall now.

So yeah, learning C better would take time needed for all these courses and thus would narrow one's view. From my experience, most people do not like to use C for anything other than Algorithms classes, and even then they are more likely to use C + STL than plain C. Those who do can take Advanced Operating Systems classes and tinker with Linux kernel, or Microcontroller Programming.

1 point by jbarham 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Even when I studied CS in the mid-90's at the University of Toronto, taking a course in C programming was optional, either as part of a survey of languages course, or in the upper level OS courses where C is still the obvious choice.

Otherwise, writing C programs has been called a "historical reenactment" (http://research.swtch.com/2008/03/rotating-hashes.html) and I think for most working programmers this is accurate.

It helps to know some C or C++ if you're using scripting languages like Python or Ruby in order to wrap 3rd party C libraries, but wrapper generators like SWIG will do 99% of the work for you, and what little C code you might have to write by hand doesn't need to be particularly fluent or idiomatic.

1 point by thedangler 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed it. Now i'm working for a web company and have lost touch with it. Really want to get back into it.
1 point by doki_pen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned C as my first language when I was young. I would never say that I was good at it. I've written a few Ruby extensions in C, but nothing I would be proud to show people. I've also hacked a few Linux drivers, but nothing to write home about. Very trivial stuff like adding vendorIds or applying patches that required some work.

I like C, but I haven't invested much time in it because it seems that the job market isn't that good for C programmers. Maybe I'm completely mistaken, but it seems like I couldn't hope to compete with a lot of the guys who have been doing it for 10+ years. I wouldn't even feel comfortable applying for a position that was primarily C.

That said, if someone offered me a job that was primarily C I wouldn't definitely consider it. And I'm sure if they have the patients, I would end up being a good team member. But web development is where my experience lies and it is where I will continue to pursue jobs. As a self taught programmer, the barrier to entry with web development seemed much lower when I was starting out. Again, that could be my own misconception.

1 point by mdwrigh2 18 hours ago 0 replies      
As a Junior in CSC right now, and while I have to say the speed of development in languages like Python and Ruby really appeals to me, I do enjoy C development as well. Unfortunately I usually have to optimize for development time rather than anything else, so outside of a few classes (for example, Algorithms, were execution time was a competition), I end up picking the "highest"-level language. But I think most schools are avoiding C, outside of specific classes (whose goal is to teach C or something C related), because students get caught up in the complexity of C, and the difficulty of debugging it vs. a memory managed language, so they'd rather just avoid it and focus the class on the topic it's supposed to cover.

On the other hand, I know a few people who want to solely work in C because it allows them so much control over how things work, and they're capable of understanding how each and every call they make will basically function. You typically have to look pretty hard for these people specifically, but I find the ones I know are some of the best programmers around. If you're curious about getting in touch with some (I know at least two that I would /highly/ recommend, are looking for summer internships), ping me at mdwrigh2@ncsu.edu

3 points by sid0 18 hours ago 0 replies      
At my college every CS student is expected to pick C up on his own time. I knew how to program in C long before I entered college -- however, I really dislike non-GC environments in general.
1 point by Jach 18 hours ago 0 replies      
My college teaches nothing but C, C++, and Assembly. (Okay, they do have an Actionscript class for designers and encourage messing with Lua...) Fortunately for me I've drunk the high-level kool-aid in web design and application dev for a long time, have read about half of SICP, and so I really prefer Python (or another high level language) over C or C++. But I don't mind C... c89 bugs me with its quirks (I really like "for(int i = 0;)", c99 is fairly enjoyable, more so than C++. C++ is psychotic; I really don't know why you would start a new project in that language...

In my side Python projects, if I need speed, I'll write that part in C and compile it to an SO and call it from Python. Nice and painless, easy to port by just compiling 32-bit, 64-bit, dlls and if I care Mac's thing, more enjoyable than pseudo-pythonic libs like pyrex.

I'd suggest looking for computer engineering students if you want people that know C. I'm in the CE program here, but it's almost as much CS as it is CE.

1 point by vivekn 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am an EE student but with a lot of interest in CS . I personally am no big fan of C,despite the fact that most of the courses are in C . It is kind of cool when working on compilers or embedded systems but for anything else I would any day prefer something like Python or Haskell - the speed of development and the fun involved being the two main reasons.
1 point by Rantenki 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There are some people that enjoy being tied up and whipped too, and those who wear "hair-shirts" to show that they are noble for all their suffering.

More than enjoying C as a language, you should find people who can identify when it is, or is not, the correct tool for the job. If you hire people solely because they enjoy C, you may find that "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

Putting my money where my mouth is, I have written more C++ in the last month than during the previous decade, because I am doing a lot of node.js work. I am writing code in C++ that speeds up or makes possible the things I want to do in Node. Nothing more.

2 points by hendler 18 hours ago 0 replies      
As a teaching language, I did enjoy C. I didn't know C when I was studying CS, and until then I used higher level languages that did all sorts of inexplicable things. C was the one layer above assembly that made sense, and helped highlight when something was really a hardware issue versus an algorithmic issue. (eg. limitations of mmap and fseek in relation to database performance)

For production, I wish I had the time or need to optimize code I write, but too often, a server upgrade and reconfiguration is sufficient. At least I depend on some one else writing something great in C (linux, nginx, etc).

Been looking at GoLang and Clang to make the experience a little less painful.

1 point by jdoliner 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a very recent graduate and I enjoy using C. C was used in almost every class I took in college. Normally these days I use C++ but I still tend to default to Cesque solutions. It's nice having a language that you can fit in your head all at the same time (or pretty close). If you guys are desperate to hire C programmers I can give you a small tip that pretty much any CS undergrad from UChicago should have learned to like C by graduation.
1 point by arghnoname 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Some Universities require more classes in C than others. You could go to the course listings of Universities you might like to recruit from and go after graduates from those programs.

With one decent CS school that I am aware of, the University of Maryland used to require (until last semester or so) all CS graduates to take two lower level classes which are taught in C (with some asm). Now it is just one course. I don't know whether or not students enjoyed it, though I think it is unfortunate that they are dropping one of the two courses (actually combining both into one course.)

I think part of why there is this move away from C is some students (rightfully) complain that they may never need to explicitly use it, and Universities figure they can teach the concepts with other languages. I believe that lower level languages should be taught, but I understand why not everyone agrees with me.

1 point by tialys 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I carry around my copy of K&R like it's my bible. Learning C really opened up programming in general for me. I love it. Here at school though, we're never required to write pure C code. We learn C++ (as it's own class! Yuck.) and use it for data structures, but other than that it's not required anywhere either. It's all Java and Python, and most people here can't be bothered to learn a new language. I've probably got more to learn about C before I'm at the level of the people you hire, but if you think you might be hiring in May, I'll be graduating soon! ;)
1 point by InclinedPlane 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Part of the problem is that colleges don't think of software engineering as important, because it's all about "computer science" (not that they teach that very well either). The result is that students end up missing out on a lot of important skills necessary for programming effectively. Skills that are more necessary in C because it's filled with so many different ways to cut off your own arms and legs if you aren't careful. If schools taught better practices and conventions to students they'd probably be plenty happy with C.
1 point by younata 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Freshman in CS here.
I came in knowing python and C. My uni teaches java for the first three classes (luckily I tested out of the first class), then we're taught c++. We have an OS class that (should, I haven't looked into it) uses C, probably c++.

I personally love C. It's a much smaller language than java, the libraries actually make sense (reading input into a string comes with stdio, as opposed to having to import java.util.Scanner).

I also feel that everything I'm asked to do in java, I can easily do in C with less code. However, this is because I'm more familiar with C than I am with java.

1 point by _corbett 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I first started programming in college (late bloomer) and learned lisp, python, java, ruby and a smattering of other languages in class/internships and have taught java at the intro level. Java is a difficult language IMO to teach as a first programming language as concepts are often obscured by syntax, and I imagine the same to be true to an even greater extent for C.

I did a bit of lower level stuff for OS/algorithms courses in undergrad but first did C/C++ extensively during my Master's and now my PhD (and Objective C for side projects but that's another story). I love the C/C++ work I do as when I write in C/C++ vs. say python speed is the key issue so I'm doing much more work on algorithm design and parallelization.

For a new grad if they are into the work and a partially seasoned programmer, they'll learn on the job if they don't hack C already.

1 point by javanix 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved C when I was in college. Unfortunately, the university I attended had a CS department that required both a lot of time, and Java for most coursework, so I didn't get to do it enough. Hence, applying for jobs with C in mind wasn't really an option unless I could impress upon someone my desire to learn it.
2 points by timthorn 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Try looking for Electronic Engineering grads. I may be a few years out of date, but it certainly used to be the case in my experience that they get more C level coding than those from the CS world.
1 point by scumola 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I've written a bunch of PHP, Perl, SQL stuff, but always down-shift into C or C++ (mostly C though) when performance or command-line tools need to be efficient. I wrote a multi-threadded crawler in C because using perl or shell scripts wrapped with xargs is not very efficient. I love working with C mainly because I grew up writing C code and I find it very convenient. I have a favorite debugger. I love using linked lists. I think that constructing a complex in-memory data structure to make a program run efficiently is an art form. Also, I believe that using BerkeleyDB is also a much better option for a database from a programming aspect. BerkeleyDB (like C) has been around for ever, it's fast, it has low-overhead, and it does things just as good as any other key/value database (if not better because it's so mature). Using older, more proven technologies is slowly becoming my overall programming philosophy. I'm not a new graduate, but I still feel that these methodologies are much better in many circumstances than the newer tools that are all the rage when performance and reliability are an issue. Sometimes, I even re-code regexps using pcre in C to make them fast if they're a bottleneck so I can squeeze some more performance out of my code. When I'm prototyping something, I still revert back to perl or php though - they're great for quick and dirty tasks still.
2 points by icco 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a computer science student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Our department is very focused on C, and we do a lot of embeded and Operating Systems level C. I love it as a language, and I think that is partially due to the amount we use it in our classes.
1 point by elai 13 hours ago 0 replies      
At my university, C is used when applicable, like graphics or OS courses. Some courses are Java, my compilers course uses C# (you make compiler for a subset of C#, c-flat, as part of course), others use a variety of languages. A lot of guys that are into iPhone development will know C from Objective-C.

C is nice, but you feel the datedness of the standard libraries, some basic operations such as string manipulation and what not is more work and verbosity than it should be.

5 points by cprussin 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Come to Virginia Tech. Our entire linux/unix user's group is C crazy, we have a resume CD, and most of us are pretty intelligent people.
1 point by rscott 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I enjoy it and I graduated less than a year ago, though I am an EE, not CS grad. Perhaps look at the CE/EE crowd a bit more in depth. Where I went to school (large Big-10 engineering program), we were required at least one C course, with more as electives.
1 point by vishaldpatel 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked C! =). I finished my undergrad in 2006 - also went to community college before finishing my degree. I learned C in community college - it was a prerequisite to all other programing classes (unlike university, where I wrote all my algorithms assignments in python).

We also learned C# later on in college, and there was always this, "this new thing is nice and shiny but C rocks" feeling among a lot of people in my class.

Also, most of the people (since it was community college) weren't your typical, "I've always wanted to be a computer programmer/scientist/engineer" types.

1 point by meinhimmel 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Engineering courses give a basic overview of writing in C, but that's about it at my school. I haven't taken those courses since I'm not an engineering major, but I helped my friends with the material.

Most of my programming courses are taught in Java. I've brought it up to the faculty though about moving us away from being a Java school. The issue that they presented was that the teachers may not be as familiar with C/C++ as they are with Java. My reasoning behind all of it being that Java is not a good learning language since it adds too much abstraction to get a good idea for what your code is actually doing (i.e. memory).

It doesn't particularly matter though as students who are interested in programming will learn what they want on the side.

For your situation though, I'd avoid people who classify themselves as being a 'Java/Python/C programmer'. There are too many languages and too many problems to limit yourself to merely one or two languages. A good programmer will be familiar with at least a few languages and be able to pick up a new language/framework quickly. Basically it breaks down to simply finding someone who has an interest in programming.

Also, I like C.

1 point by andylei 15 hours ago 0 replies      
harvard's intro CS class is still taught in C. most of the CS majors there who do systems related stuff write in and enjoy C.
1 point by jonafato 18 hours ago 0 replies      
My university uses Java as the main teaching language. A few courses down the line (OS, Security) tend to use C, but it does certainly depend on the instructor. It seems to me that instructors shy away from C when they know students will likely have little experience with it. They don't want to be bothered with teaching students what a pointer is because it will take away from the actual material of the course.

That said, I personally enjoy using C when it seems to be appropriate. I would much rather write a piece of OS code in C and drop it into a linux distro than using Java to do something that would rarely be used in the real world. I've had problems with C that I wouldn't in a language like python, but if the task is better suited for C, I'd rather work through those problems and learn because of it. My personal opinion of students not learning C because it's hard is that they don't belong in a CS program. If you won't take the time to learn the best tool for the job, you won't do the job right, and no one will have benefitted because of it.

1 point by gte910h 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Georgia Tech still teaches a 2nd year course on C:

CS 2110 - Computer Organiz&Program
An introduction to basic computer hardware, machine language, assembly language, and C programming.

4.000 Credit Hours
3.000 Lecture hours
3.000 Lab hours

Course Attributes:
Tech Elect CS, Engr, &Sciences

2 points by balgarath 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Long-time lurker, this is my first post to HN.

My school(Tennessee Technological University, graduated a year and a half ago) still requires a semester of C/C++...there were a couple other classes where you needed to know it to interpret the professor's example code, but were allowed to code in other languages if you wanted. I enjoy C, but feel more proficient in other languages as far as getting things done quickly. I guess I just don't use C enough to keep a good grasp of it.

I think students would get more benefit out of being forced to only use C(and assembly?) for the first couple years. It would help them get a better understanding of what the higher-level languages have going on under the hood.

I've been doing web development(Ruby) the past few years. I've played around with extending Ruby with C, but not much.

If you are looking to hire, I might be interested...its about time for a change-up in my life.

2 points by BuckToBid 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I just had an submission hit the front page the other day where I explained how moving from PHP/Apache to C saved my bacon. I'm 26 and have not been out of school that long.

I would look for schools who start their students in C or even C++ right off the bat. I know some people who took intro to programming in Java and would never learn C now, not sure why.

1 point by merijnv 16 hours ago 0 replies      
MSc CS student here.

As some others have mentioned, I love doing stuff in C. However, I'm also keenly aware of its pitfalls and shortcomings. As such I prefer to do most my stuff in higher level languages like Python and Haskell only dropping to C for speedy data structures (if profiling proofs it necessary) or for convenience when doing low level OS code.

However, I know a lot of my fellow students have an extreme dislike for C and only wanting to program in languages like Java/C#, even languages like Python and Ruby seem under represented.

The students who seem to appreciate systems level code and C seem to be a minority in my university. Which of course means there is more competition to hire these students when it comes to people looking for C developers.

1 point by jhferris3 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a CS student over in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon. While the intro courses are currently in java (and transitioning to an in-house pared-down C) Our 2nd year systems course is taught in C using the "Computer Systems:A programmers perspective" book (its actually written here), and our OS class is in C, while the other upper level systems electives use C++ for the most part. Come out to CMU and you'll find plenty of C lovers and systems hackers. Our OS class kicks your ass when it comes to OS level stuff and use of C/pointers/stuff. I don't know anyone who got B or better in that class and came out of it a novice with respect to C.
2 points by adamrichardson 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a CS student in my last semester and in my operating systems class we have been required to do all of our assignments in C, we also are targeting minix. This has really given me a love for C and made me much more comfortable with programming in any language. C skills are a must!
1 point by zacwitte 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I enjoy C because I like strongly typed languages, explicit code as apposed to ambiguous typeless languages. I haven't, however, found many companies hiring C programmers. I've been working for web startups in San Francisco for a while and have talked with a lot of developers at events and it seems to me that there is less and less focus on optimization in general, which is why there is less interest in C. The fact is that C becomes less relevant by the day. Rails and python developers are in high demand - C not so much.
1 point by jchonphoenix 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I go to Carnegie Mellon. I extremely enjoy C. The best programmers at CMU enjoy C. Granted, I'd rather program in Python, but I still really really like C as a language and use it whenever I can.
1 point by thwarted 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I took C the last semester it was offered for CSC101 before the university switched to C++. That was 1994.
1 point by freshrap6 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think students aren't offered the opportunity to see what a language like C can do for them. Their are plenty of examples of cool webapps and mobile apps out there for them to see. C isn't sexy anymore. I enjoy C because I like working close to the machine level, without having to do assembly. Not a lot of people want to code up apps for hardware anymore. It's all about webapps and mobile apps right now, and this is what they see.
1 point by eqdw 17 hours ago 0 replies      
My university loves Java. C is taught in a few low-level courses but it's not typical. Hell, within 10 years I bet they stop even teaching pointers.

I really like C. Sure it's not as sleek and sexy as Ruby (My uni uses ruby over python), but, it's fast, and it does what you tell it, and nothing more. I actually am really interested in low level systems programming, but unfortunately it's not easy to get experience on that short of being employed in it.

1 point by staktrace 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The Software Engineering program at the University of Waterloo (where I did my undergrad and am currently doing my masters). One of their first-term courses (CS 137) is in C. They used to have Java, but apparently the powers that be decided C was a better language to get started with. Although for your real question - where to find a graduate who enjoys writing in C - I don't have a general answer. I know that personally I enjoy writing clean C more than most languages.
1 point by pyeek 16 hours ago 0 replies      
One issue I don't see raised in the comments so far is the fact that OO seem to be all the rage (at least when you're a college student anyway) and often you move onto C++ or Java fairly early in the curriculum.

I love coding in C and my first job out of college was C for mobile devices. I have since moved to web programming and rarely use C directly (closest I get is Imagemagick with bindings)

1 point by drdo 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it very odd that CS graduates don't know C.
I don't find it odd that people don't enjoy programming in C.

At my univ the introductory programming course is taught using Scheme but there are plenty of course that use C, such as Algorithms and Data Structures and Operating Systems. Hell we even have a course that uses assembly (Computer Architecture).
This is all on the undergrad degree.

1 point by z0r 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There's quite a bit of C / C++ in the curriculum at Waterloo, although many of the courses that accept assignments in C++ also accept Java submissions so I don't know the actual breakdown of what students choose to submit most of their code in. I chose to write all my assignments in C (or very minimal C++) whenever possible. I might be a sick individual though.
1 point by fshaun 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"CS" is broad; targeting specialties within the program may work better. I used tons of C for operating systems and networking lab courses, but I had friends focusing on (for instance) HCI or AI who rarely touched it.

Also consider looking at physics and aero-astro majors. Lots of embedded or algorithmic work, so I hypothesize lower level languages like C are more common.

2 points by goalieca 17 hours ago 0 replies      
try hiring electrical/computer engineering students. C is a high level language for us :P
1 point by mcarrano 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a student at Stevens Institute of Technology...

As an introductory language, you are taught Java but when you move up to higher level courses such as Algorithms, Data Structures, etc you will us C.

I've also taught myself C++ and I prefer it over C but I have no issue working in any language provided I learn the syntax.

1 point by jlao 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Current CMU student here. All students are required to 15-123 (Introduction to C & Unix), 15-213 (Introduction to Systems) and another low level systems course of your choice (which to my knowledge almost all require C and/or x86 assembly).
-2 points by wmil 18 hours ago 0 replies      
These days C is a hard language to learn. The best way to learn a new language is to start a small project in it.

C isn't really appropriate for most small projects.

Ask HN: Who Plays Go?
130 points by thangalin 2 days ago   94 comments top 42
28 points by Kilimanjaro 2 days ago 2 replies      
Your intro read like prose. In a few short paragraphs I felt I was reading a novel.

You have the touch. Are you a professional writer?

6 points by nandemo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do not play go. Just stay away it from it. I started to play go in Brazil while in high school and got addicted to it. Eventually I came to Japan to play go (I won't disclose the details because it'd be really embarrassing).

Later I came to Japan to study Computer Go in grad school. I planned to to stay for 2~3 years. It's been 7 years now. I don't play go anymore, but I do harder stuff (karaoke, clubbing, etc). It's been a sort of gateway drug for me.

PS: by the way, the reason an American 2-dan can slaughter a Japanese 2-dan is simply because the scales are different, mainly due to inflation in Japanese ranks. If you're AGA 2-dan (or say, European 1-dan) you should really upgrade yourself to 4-dan when coming to Japan.

11 points by kia 2 days ago 0 replies      
By the way Go is one of the most challenging games for AI:


7 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was once 11 kyu and improving, but I realised I was getting totally absorbed in the game. As a latent obsessive compulsive I gave it up. I'm pretty sure it was the right choice, but I retain deep respect and admiration for the game. Far, far better than chess.

Deep down I wish I still played ...

6 points by mark_l_watson 2 days ago 1 reply      
In the late 1970s I played both the women's world champion, and a year later the South Korean national champion in exhibition games. They both mentioned that I was about 2 kyu but experience getting bruised up by an 2 dan amateur makes me think that my rating is less than that - so I would not be a good opponent for you.

My older brother taught me to play when I was eight, and we played fairly equally for about 10 years, Then, within a year's time, I was consistently giving him 9 stones.

Also in the late 1970s, I wrote a Go playing program I called Honnibo Warrior which played poorly. I sold it cheaply for the Apple II (written in UCSD Pascal) and actually made some real money selling the source code.

4 points by gjm11 2 days ago 1 reply      
I play, but not nearly often enough. I'm probably somewhere around 12k, far below thangalin's level. If there is any such thing as objective quality in board games, go is objectively the best game anyone has come up with yet. Wonderful, wonderful game. But also dangerously addictive. The fact that it's basically impossible to play a quick game doesn't help.
7 points by sams99 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used to be 2-4k but had trouble holding 5k* on igs a few years ago. If I started playing now I would probably struggle holding 8k.

Life, my daughter, 2 personal projects and work got in the way.

I miss the social aspect of Go, I find the internet incarnations are too sterile. I love having a tea and a chat while playing, I spend enough time staring at the screen.

Would probably play again if I found the right group.

Pushing the upper kyus would require way too much work than I am willing to commit at the moment to the game.

Love Go, it is truly eye opening.

Talking about smoke, my Go teacher "Mr No" used to smoke 200 cigarettes a day in Go clubs in Korea.

6 points by edanm 2 days ago 5 replies      
I've never played, but I'd be happy if someone could point me to the best place to learn.
3 points by cageface 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a fascinating game but coding seems to fatigue the same bits of my brain that coding does, so I spend my recreational time doing things a bit more brainless, like Warcraft.
3 points by Morendil 2 days ago 1 reply      
Stuck at 2kyu on KGS for two years, I've set the game aside temporarily, until my life situation is such that I can immerse myself in serious study. Love the game - got half a shelf of books including Invincible.

There's a saying, "Go is life". Learning the game will tell you an incredible amount about yourself, about determinism and chance and skill, about depth and limits and building knowledge and passing on knowledge.

For a software person there is a lot to learn about complexity and patterns. There are deep lessons about not fooling yourself, about the idea that a strategy for success emerges in surprising ways from ridiculously simple rules and facts of the underlying material.

There isn't much of a gap between Go's simple rules (alternating play, capture, ko) and software's fundamental elements (sequence, iteration, choice) in terms of simplicity, and likewise these simple rules combine to yield complexities that challenge the best human minds.

1 point by justinweiss 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just started playing casually earlier this year and I'm about 13-15k on DGS. I really liked the players on KGS, but it's hard for me to find an hour or two of totally uninterrupted time. DGS is so perfect for the slow pace I like to play that I wrote an iPhone client for it: http://dgs.uberweiss.net

When I started playing, it was frustrating and confusing. Now, it's still frustrating and confusing, but it's also so much fun.

4 points by kapilkaisare 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was entranced with go via "Hikaru No Go", a Japanese anime about a boy who discovers the game through a spirit seeking the elusive 'hand of God'. I am currently at 9 kyu but am trying to better my game.

Unfortunately there aren't too many Go players where I am, and this makes Go as a point of social focus difficult, as it often is in chess over here.

2 points by gcao 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hi thangalin,

Nice to see your post about Go. I'm from China and have been playing Go for more than 20 years. I started to play in high school and improved a lot in college. My current ranking is AGA 5~6D. I don't play very often recently except play turn-based games on my own web site (www.go-cool.org).

Because of my addiction to the game, I even created a variation of Go, Daoqi, which removes border of Go board and makes all positions have same importance. This new game gives players a new and different enjoyment.

I'm also a programmer and have spent a lot of time on side projects. I created a Javascript based game viewer (github.com/gcao/jsgameviewer), a Ruby on Rails application which integrates with a Go forum (http://www.go-cool.org/app)

Like I said, I'm happy to see your post and comments from fellow Go players. Hope I can play with you one day.

5 points by swah 1 day ago 3 replies      
Care to explain why your level decreases without practice?
1 point by philh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm philh on kgs, but these days I mostly play in person at my university club. One consequence of this is that I don't really know my rank. We have our own ladder, on which I'm currently 15.5k, but it tends to underrank people as compared to KGS. I'm probably not above 10k.

If anyone's interested in a game, I can play most evenings, British time.

3 points by igravious 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi thangalin,

I'm "grooviest" on KGS. I'm only 7 kyu so you'll need to up-skill me to 1 dan so I can give you a nice game (hint hint). My relationship with Go is turbulent. Currently we are in an addictive (God, it's sooo addictive) phase and she is breaking my heart. My one regret in life is that I was 30 years old before I learned how to play. All those wasted years playing chess. sigh I recently moved from my native land of Ireland to snowy central Finland and one of the first things I did was find me a Go club - hello the Tengen Go Club of Jyväskylä, nice people all round.

1 point by marze 1 day ago 0 replies      
For the vast majority of games people play, there exists a computer opponent that can beat just about anyone.

Go is an exception. Even a moderately experienced amateur can beat the best computer opponent easily. I think this says something about the richness of the game.

1 point by adewale 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I play as 'adewale' on KGS and I'm currently a 9 kyu. Although, as you can see: http://www.gokgs.com/servlet/graph/adewale-en_US.png , my ranking tends to fluctuate.
2 points by sz 2 days ago 2 replies      
I learned how to play in Taiwan and it's become my favorite board game.

I'm not very good though. Do you have any suggestions for improving?

1 point by timdellinger 1 day ago 0 replies      
Guilty as charged: I'm a go player.

Not currently active, unless you count the occasional game against Many Faces Of Go (igowin) on the iPad.

1 point by ericlavigne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just found out that Go is a popular game among Clojure programmers. This is how the speakers at the first Clojure conference celebrated the night before the conference.


1 point by spot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to play a lot on NNGS and the Palo Alto Go Club in ~98 but now I just teach. Sticking with the f2f version :)

I was into the game enough that when I had a free week in a Japan, I spent it playing every day at a club.

1 point by clvv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I lived in China during my childhood, and one of the things that I was involuntary involved in was playing Go, my parents simply made me do it. Despite the fact that I didn't really like it, I still kept learning it for several year. And by the time when I finally convinced my parents that I was not going to or even want to be a professional Go player, I was amateur 4 dan by Chinese standard, and I was about 10 years old. I stopped playing since then, but I can still pick it up and play once in a while, maybe with a skill level of around 2 dan I guess. Look back from now, Go looks interesting, but when I was forced to learn it at the age of 7, it was all boring and dull.
1 point by enki 2 days ago 0 replies      
there's a go club in soma. we're meeting at twitter every wednesday at 8am but have been thinking of moving a more accessible time and location and call it @somagoclub. anyone interested? (soma, san francisco)
2 points by hasenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've taken some interest in it and sometimes try to play against the computer, but I'm horribly bad at it.
1 point by moconnor 2 days ago 0 replies      
I play (well, I have played) and agree it's an amazing, beautiful game like no other.

I only reached around 10 kyu though; don't have the time for it these days.

1 point by cies 2 days ago 0 replies      
i play it. it's my favorite board game: i'd say it is the best example of a well designed game :)

though i do not play it online.

my dad thought me how to play it at the age of 8. for some time i played it at a go club, but that never really caught on. now i play with a couple of friends or with my dad.

1 point by realitygrill 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got to about 2kyu on KGS and was very addicted. Getting beyond this apparently required me to seriously dedicate myself to studying, though, and I had to deal with my normal life. So I haven't played in over a year.

I hope to start playing again sometime.

1 point by Xurinos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone know where I can play Capture Go at multiple levels? That is, single capture, 2-capture, 3-capture, etc? 9x9 and larger boards?
1 point by Tarks 1 day ago 0 replies      
I play, can't even remember how I heard of it but my girlfriend and I learned together a few months ago, I've just got another friend hooked on it too. Having SmartGo Kifu on the iPad and the free go Client from Pandanet has made it easier to learn.

Funny thing is, a co-worker caught me playing it, then while he was slaughtering me in a lunchbreak another couple of guys came out of the woodwork too ^_^

I find it very cool that there's just one piece that can be used for everything.

2 points by spacemanaki 2 days ago 0 replies      
This whole thread makes me want to start learning how to play again. I don't think I have played more than about half a dozen games but it is by far the on of the most compelling games I've encountered.
1 point by muloka 1 day ago 0 replies      
I always thought this would be a great game to teach to under privileged youth and the homeless.

Its also relatively easy to put together a makeshift go board. At most all one needs is white and black paint, brushes, rocks, a piece of plywood or plastic, and something straight to make the lines.

You could even teach them how to make their own board and pieces.

1 point by lukas 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been getting a little more back into go lately. Online games are hard for me for some reason and I like to play slower than most people on kgs.

Back when I was active I was an AGA 5dan (probably 6dan in japan). If anyone in SF wants an in-person game I'd love to play - shoot me an email at lukas@crowdflower.com. Our office has a couple learning go players and our janitor might be around 1 dan.

2 points by kgosser 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've tried to pick it up, have not found any clubs or anything in Milwaukee, so I've had to play via computer. Due to that, I haven't been able to pick it up as much as I'd like.
1 point by matth 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was working on this for a while: yayforgo.com.

I got a new job and just couldn't focus on it. Bummer!

Anyone want the source code?

1 point by seigenblues 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hey thangalin! I remember seeing you on KGS a few years ago. I'm. About 2-3d on kgs and would be happy for a game.

Also, if any go players in CA are interested, next years US Go Congress will be in Santa Barbara, 1st week in August!

1 point by krschmidt 1 day ago 0 replies      
I sometimes hop on KGS, but I'm very rusty. Probably ~17k. Wonderful game. I teach it to the kids in my programming class whenever we have a few moments of free time (usually day before Thanksgiving, etc).
1 point by RBerenguel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never went beyond 14-12 kyu. I still want to improve, but life is always getting in the way (also, I get pretty nervous when playing and it is discouraging). But I also love the game.
1 point by MK5 2 days ago 0 replies      
I started playing Go at 4 with dad and played a while of IGS (the Panda net thing) and got pretty high (around 2D). But felt in love with Starcraft which is for me, GO+Chess and in real time :p
1 point by epynonymous 1 day ago 0 replies      
my dad and uncle are fanaticso, send me your contact information, i'll hook you two up.
1 point by jedediah 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm jedediah on KGS, and would welcome any game, though I'm a meager ~20k, as I've just started playing.
1 point by Willwhatley 1 day ago 0 replies      
9k KGS.

Same question as OP, but addressed to kyu players-?

Ask HN: Why do Hacker News, Reddit, not show the users that voted?
4 points by suliamansaleh 9 hours ago   10 comments top 4
2 points by pg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a social choice. It wouldn't be difficult technically. Historically the origin of the custom may be slashdot.
1 point by makecheck 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Occasionally, a single comment can get over 100 points. The site may not want to keep track of that many links to a single post. (Not that I know why it works the way it does, but this seems like a good technical reason for it.)
2 points by brudgers 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Anonymous voting reduces quid pro quo, vendettas and other sorts of unproductive behaviour.
1 point by ashitvora 8 hours ago 0 replies      
May be they want to keep things simple.

You anyways don't know other users unlike facebook where most of the people liking and commenting on your status are your fiends.

More features they have, more complex it is for users and developers have to maintain it.

Ask HN: Should I put my github profile on my Resume?
10 points by lukesandberg 15 hours ago   11 comments top 11
1 point by iuguy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely. If you have one on your CV I'll check it out, and it gives me things to discuss with you in the interview that you'll be more comfortable with.
1 point by cheald 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The company I work for is currently looking for a Rails developer, and I'm first-line in the screening process. A Github profile is a huge plus, and if there's good code in there and/or decent open source activity, it's a major, major bonus.
3 points by devmonk 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes! And there are other HN threads with similar questions:


1 point by josegonzalez 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes. That is how I got my current job, and exactly how freelance hirers decide they want to work with me.

My theory is that for a developer, a LinkedIn profile is less useful because it basically just states who you know and what you focus on. Twitter accounts show nothing other than that you exist. You likely want to hide your Facebook - my boss was not my friend until after he hired me ;)

A github account is so much more than a blog. A great one need not have many repositories, nor many followers. It just needs to show that you:

- Can Program

- Document your code

- Use version control well (or at all)

- Love to program

A github account is an easy way for non-designers and non-frontend developers to have a portfolio of their past work. It's also a great way to exercise your mind outside of work.

Nota bene: Make sure you legally can write open source. YMMV, but state law might actually back that silly form you signed when you were hired. It helps when your open source code has nothing to do with your actual job.

1 point by ary 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely. At worst it adds another dimension to who you are and what you can do, at best it might let you sail past tedious technical quizzing.

See also: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1708328

2 points by kineticac 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For hiring, sometimes I just want to see the candidate's github account and tech blog. That will say more than the old school resumes.
2 points by msbmsb 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely. Many professions have some kind of portfolio of previous work to demonstrate to a potential employer. Since it's common in the development field to not be able to show any source code you have written from a prior company, any kind of visible open source code you might have should definitely be on a software developer's resume.
1 point by symkat 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Any contributions to Open Source Projects, your own projects that you've released, and notable contributions should be shared. Similar to how a designer has a portfolio. If you have a tech-related blog you might want to include that as well (but not your personal ranting and raving blog about how sad you are and that your kitty is ignoring you again.) That's just creepy.
1 point by drdo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If i were a prospective employer, i would definitely find that a plus.
1 point by JerryH 15 hours ago 0 replies      
For sure, I did : www.metalcat.net

Even though I've just opened an account and there is nothing on there yet, though I link to all things that are me

1 point by jmathai 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It depends on how good your code is ;)
Ask HN: Just how bad is the Valley economy
14 points by willheim 20 hours ago   16 comments top 5
7 points by mechanical_fish 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to work at a fab in Fremont. It was one of several Silicon Valley fabs that are now no longer operating in the Valley. Its owner at the time, Agilent, cut eight to nine thousand jobs in the early 2000s:


Last year Agilent, which is still a big area employer, cut another 2700 people:


It is worth remembering that Silicon Valley's first name is "silicon" for a reason. The area made its name with hardware and fabs. The folks in the area who are fifty and sixty years old are proportionally more likely to have extensive experience in hardware and fabs than in web development, and many of the fabs are closing down. Moreover, because it took a lot of people to run a fab -- more in the past than today -- there are a lot of those people.

Yes, life here on HN is great, but that's because of the tiny sample size. For example, what is the total number of people who have been employed at any YC startup over the last decade? I bet it doesn't add up to eight thousand people.

So it depends on your skills. If you want a job running a lithography tool on a production line your job prospects are different than if you want a job writing Ruby apps for a YC startup.

1 point by iamelgringo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
From Mountain View to San Francisco, there are dozens of startups that have gotten funded in the last 9 months. I'd be willing to be there will be another 3-4 dozen that get funded by the end of the year.

The vast majority of those startups are Web/Mobile/Social/Gaming startups. Take 100 startups with $500k in the bank looking for one two three (web/mobile/flash) developers and you have a rough idea of what the hiring market is like in SF. Add Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Yelp and Google starting to compete more heavily for engineers, and you'll start to see why recruitment is going to get a lot tougher in the next year or two for startups.

From Mountain View South to San Jose and in the East Bay, the startups have traditionally been more hardware/silicon oriented. Those industries have been consolidating a lot, and those companies have been laying off people. It's people that come from those industries that have gotten laid off.

The 60 minutes episode talked about the San Jose area, and if you read the article [1], it primarily talks about older workers who were in PR, office managers, personnel, etc...

All that to say, is that after we get funded, we're going to be staying in San Jose. Office space is cheaper, housing is cheaper. It's a lot easier to get around by car. There's parking for less than $20/3 hours. And, there's a lot of experienced talent that's looking for work.

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/10/21/60minutes/main6978...

14 points by pg 20 hours ago 6 replies      
What? The biggest problem startups we've funded have is hiring.
3 points by beunick 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I saw the piece as well.. pretty depressing. A start-up migth not have the money to hire an old qualified PhD... I am not if an old qualified PhD will be interested either..
Almost feels like we have 2 worlds in the valley
Ask HN: What books or blogs do you suggest to manage a team of techies
22 points by jamram82 1 day ago   15 comments top 9
9 points by Zev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Rands. At the very least, his blog: http://randsinrepose.com. But, his book - Managing Humans - is great as well: http://www.managinghumans.com.
4 points by alanthonyc 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should read Drive, by Dan Pink.

It's not a management book, per se, but it's great for gaining undersanding into why people work and what truly motivates them.

EDIT: His talk at the TED conference:


4 points by tkaemming 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Mythical Man Month — it's a fairly popular read, and it's topic lies somewhere between managing projects and managing people and focuses on the "human element" of software engineering: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month
3 points by MaysonL 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gerald Weinberg's The Psychology of Computer Programming is a classic, well worth reading. Also second the recommendations for The Mythical Man Month and Peopleware
10 points by nevster 1 day ago 2 replies      
Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
1 point by petervandijck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Christina Wodtke's Blueprints for the web http://amzn.to/cTDimh is about information architecture, but is full of tangential wisdom about managing web teams. I learnt more this book than from other books that are actually about managing teams.
2 points by aaronblohowiak 1 day ago 1 reply      
you manage products, you lead people.
1 point by BANSAL 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me Paul Graham's essay are real worth inspiration and teachings. I just follow his essay more than any other readings. I prefer to explore you his essays, can give you a nice insight. http://www.purchase.com/blog/fundraising/3-tips-for-startup-...
this is here his essays you can find. http://paulgraham.com/
2 points by anonymouslambda 1 day ago 0 replies      

Scroll down, check out the articles in the "Reading Lists" column.

Tell HN: Developers get in free at co-founders meetup in Mountain View
8 points by alain94040 13 hours ago   11 comments top 2
2 points by jluxenberg 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm based in Seattle. If I happen to be in the bay area that night, would I be welcome at the meetup? Or are most looking for a local co-founder?
1 point by bloomshed 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I need a cofounder in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. I have a vision but I can't code. I'm looking to bring in a developer looking for a big project. Let's discuss.
Offer HN: Will Work For Karma
193 points by todayiamme 1 day ago   62 comments top 23
34 points by metamemetics 1 day ago 1 reply      
Also, if you are an HNer and see a "Rate my X" post in the new section, be sure to give feedback. I usually upvote everyone of those I see even if I dislike the idea behind the website\service linked. After all, they are asking for criticism! Otherwise they slide off quick and I don't see anyone else commenting on them. Most people are here for commentary, but support all creators.
22 points by Jun8 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the first "Offer HN" submission I've ever seen, it may be the first one even, so double thanks: one for your offer, the other for (hopefully) starting this trend.
4 points by EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just want to say this is an awesome post. I like it :)

Well, if you'd like, check out http://youmixer.com and tell me what you would improve about it to make it viral. I'm working on another project right now, but I'm always curious how I could have made youmixer better.

You can just reply on here if you want to keep your anonymity.

4 points by dawie 1 day ago 3 replies      
I just asked for help with http://tabtrick.com/

Thanks for offering your help. I am sure good things will come to you!

3 points by steveplace 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've got a new product, it's had some success, but my copy is an abomination. I'd love some feedback-- the site is earningstrades.com


2 points by todayiamme 1 day ago 0 replies      

Thanks for the awesome response and you don't need to ask for help. I'm the one offering it. If I don't reply to your mail soon then don't worry. It's just that I have an awesome bunch of people to help and I my hands can work only so fast.

Thank you so much.

2 points by danielnicollet 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd love your feedback on our copy and overall message at http://commerce.exorbyte.com - thx! (infous AT exorbyte.com)
You'll get more than Karma if you can help us!
1 point by happybuy 1 day ago 2 replies      
I did a "Rate my Startup" post for my startup (http://www.happybuy.com/) a little while back that didn't get much traction:


Would be great if you had any feedback on the site you could provide. Although not purely writing, any experience or advice on how to improve its SEO would be most appreciated as the current search traffic is low.

Thank you for helping out other HN'ers.

2 points by jamiequint 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case OP runs out of cycles I'd suggest people try out http://wordspa.com I've had good experiences there in the past.
2 points by atestu 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I just sent you an email asking for help for http://watchth.is/

Thanks in advance!

4 points by perucoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great idea! I just sent you an email to review my site at http://www.maziesoftware.com/
8 points by atomical 1 day ago 2 replies      
Who are you?
2 points by Dylanlacey 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't need your help. However, it takes a big person to offer to help randomly, for nothing other then intangibles, so well done for that.

I hope you get lots of neat stuff to do ^_^

3 points by JarekS2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just sent you an email - we need help with http://disqourse.com - a lot of help! :)

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

3 points by jagtesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi, I'd be very grateful to you for your feedback and thoughts on http://grep42.com.

Thanks! :-)

2 points by Kudose 1 day ago 0 replies      
I could really use some help with pitches and how to deal with potential customers when you are the founder. I am trying to kick off my startup, http://www.quintre.com , but worry about getting overwhelmed and flat out rejected at every turn.
2 points by omfut 1 day ago 0 replies      
thats something i have never seen on HN. You must be really starting a new trend for others to follow. Bravo!
2 points by base 1 day ago 1 reply      
I sent you a message asking for feedback on http://vendder.com

Would love to hear what you have to say


3 points by trizk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very generous. Hats off to you man.
1 point by bobfunk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow - this is an amazing offer. I'm sure you must be swamped in work already, so expect a "no time anymore answer", but I'll send you a request for help on documentation for http://www.webpop.com
2 points by grease 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just asked for help with http://recruiterbox.com/
Thanks for this!
1 point by babo 1 day ago 0 replies      
You mean karma in HM terms?
0 points by tripntale 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Just sent you an email to review http://www.tripntale.com. Thankyouverymuch!
After 4 years of self-funded coding marathons I feel "finished", care to talk?
364 points by exhaustedhacker 4 days ago   183 comments top 78
157 points by jdietrich 4 days ago replies      
You seem to have been terribly misled. Only very rarely do products sell themselves. 99% of the time, the product is largely incidental to the sales process. Your idea doesn't matter one jot, what matters is how well you can connect to customers and really sell to them.

Let me tell you about a fine English gentleman by the name of Joe Ades, now sadly no longer with us. Joe wore Savile Row suits and lived in a three-bedroomed apartment on Park Avenue. He spent most nights at the Café Pierre with his wife, sharing a bottle of his usual - Veuve Clicquot champagne. You might assume that Joe was a banker or an executive, but in fact Joe sold potato peelers on the street for $5 each, four for $20.

I urge you, I implore you, I beg you, stop what you're doing and watch Joe in action - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCUct4NlxE0

That is what business looks like. Sometimes, once in a million, you luck upon a product so amazing the world beats a path to your door. For most of us, the best we can hope for is to be some chump with a thousand boxes of vegetable peelers. Anybody can sit out on the street with a box of peelers, but Joe sold them. Joe made his peelers sing, he made them seem like magic. He took a humble piece of stamped metal and created theatre. He did something so simple and strange and wonderful that people would buy a fistful of his peelers, just so they could tell their friends about this little Englishman they saw in Union Square.

Look at the Fortune 500, tell me what you see. I see grocery stores, drugstores, oil companies, banks, a funny little concern that sells sugar water. I see a whole lot of hard work and very few great ideas.

Forget about striking it big with a great idea, it's just as childish and naïve as imagining that the tape you're recording in your garage is going to make you a rockstar. Get out there and talk to customers. Find out what they need, what annoys them, what excites them. Build the roughest, ugliest piece of crap that you can possibly call a product. If you're not ashamed of it, you've spent too long on it. Try and sell it. Some people will say "I'm not buying that piece of crap, it doesn't even do X". If X isn't stupid, implement X. Some people, bizarrely, will say "yes, I will buy your piece of crap". It is then and only then that you are actually developing a product. Until you've got a customer, it's just an expensive hobby. Paying customer number one is what makes it a product.

110 points by tptacek 4 days ago 3 replies      
Why are you paying so much attention to your "launch day"? It's an entrepreneurial myth that there is a mighty "launch" that sets the tone of your business. When was Twitter "launched"? When was Carbonmade "launched"? When was Balsamiq "launched"? Or SquareSpace, MailChimp, or Fog Creek? Sure, they "launched", but who cared?

You are building a business. It does not spring from your forehead like Athena, or get pooped out of your pet Nibbler like Dark Matter on Futurama. Listen to what everyone else here has to say. Sure, pick something with favorable long-tail SEO dynamics. Sure, pick something with a viral loop. Sure, build yourself a tribe.

But then, for god's sake, pick something you can stick with, nurture, protect, and grow over the long run. That thing you don't have, that you keep calling "a fucking great idea"? Most of us call it "a winning lottery ticket". Stop thinking about playing the lottery. Get back to work.

70 points by rwhitman 4 days ago 5 replies      
I totally hear your frustration. I've become incredibly burned out on launching startups / small products that flop.

I'd say one thing - Techcrunch is definitely NOT the only game in town for PR. They are very fickle and clique-y. There are huge startups that never made a dent in TC. PR is all about building buzz from the ground up, exclusives are a load of crap and mostly reserved for established players anyhow.

If you're not getting any coverage from anywhere, yes maybe there's something at the core that isn't compelling (and you need to talk to customers / users first to determine that), but chances are you aren't spending enough time sending fun personal emails to lower-level bloggers and journalists. If you aren't in the elite old-boys club, you shouldn't be focused on approaching the journalists who are.

But PR and "viral" launches are hard work. The idea of the massively hockey-stick organic viral launch is largely a myth propagated by a few outliers (aka survivor bias).

And good PR does not make a success, either. I've built 2 things that made big PR splashes (everything BUT TC haha) and neither landed me either fame or fortune. The one product was blogged about by the New York freakin Times, and it never achieved escape velocity. PR isn't a long-term marketing strategy. Its a one-time high and believe me the downslope doesn't feel good either

Honestly, there are 2 types of folks who make it: the lucky ones, and the persistent ones. Its hard as hell (and heck I haven't beaten it yet) but you have to ignore the burnout and be one of the persistent ones

24 points by webwright 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think the big thing that you're missing is that "great execution" doesn't end at building a great product. And PR is not a marketing strategy.

If you want to avoid this experience again, choose an idea that:

1) Has a broad-content SEO strategy (think StackOverflow and Yelp). New/valuable content gets created every day.

2) Has a channel for "buying" customers with economics that work. Plenty of people make adwords work. Plenty of others can afford salespeople. Find a market where people are succeeding at buying customers and compete in it.

3) Has a viral loop. Think Farmville or Groupon. Why is it in your customers best interest to evangelize your product? They can be motivated by psychology or $.

4) Create a "tribe". Read up on Seth Godin. Look at Joel Spolsky, 37Signals, etc. They sell good (NOT great) products because they've accumulated followers and evangelists.

It's not about a "great idea". Well, it can be. But look at all of the shitty products that are minting money! You can aim for a "addictive/amazing" product (and should), but it better be backed by sound customer acquisition economics for the (likely) case that your product is merely good.

About your launch day: You expect to blow it out on launch day? That's not a reasonable expectation. It's a marathon not a 100 yard dash.

edit: TechCrunch should not be a goal. At YC there's a word for the period after TechCrunch coverage... "The trough of despair". It's the period of time after TC where your traffic flatlines and you realize that TC isn't a springboard to anything-- it's just the first step (if you're lucky) on a really long slog to building a business.

17 points by dasil003 4 days ago 1 reply      
Let me echo the sentiments that TC isn't worth jack shit. I am at a startup now that has been slogging it out for 3 years, slowly meeting people in the industry, doing deals, and building traction with the product one day at a time. We've received a lot of press in various forms, the only ones that generated any lasting traffic were partnerships with big names. The general news coverage (blog and print) was pretty worthless, with TC ranking near the bottom. That might not be true for tech-centric products like Twitter where the service itself is disproportionately useful to tech bloggers like Arrington and Scoble, and thus they gush all over the product for months on end with utter disregard for the uselessness of the product outside their own niche, but it's true for most products. The bottom line is there are lots of ways to get the word out about your product, and media coverage is not anywhere near the best one.

The first thing you need to do is make your product compelling. There is a reason for all the talk about rapid iteration, minimum viable product, and the lean startup; creating a compelling product is hard. There is no formula for it, and customers are infuriatingly fickle. It's hard enough with established markets for things people really need (eg. food, toiletries, houses, cell phones), but when you're creating something brand new there's this huge hurdle to get people to understand how it fits into their life. There's no telling what will make something compelling, so you need to just put something out and iterate on it. Get 5 customers, get 10 customers. If these people find your product compelling and can give you real world feedback and evangelize the product, that is worth more than 50,000 visits from bored TCers who spend 5 minutes then jump to the next story.

36 points by apsurd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Read up on how TC traffic is not all it's cracked up to be.
Stop caring about TechCrunch.

You are doing it backwards.
Start with the market first. Your idea is only as good as it applies to the market it serves. You should not have spent 60k on a developer, you should have spent it leveraging a way to talk to your proposed customers.

Yes I agree, shit products get sold all day every day and rake in billions. But you see the product may be shit BECAUSE everything else is so much more important. The system, the sales force, the production line, the logistics, the tracking. I love Mcdonald's. Nah not their food, their system.

I know you are just venting and now may not be the best time to say "you are doing it wrong", but well, it actually is the best time.

You are doing it wrong.
I know because I've done it wrong for a long time too!
I actually am more of a programmer than a business guy but its kind of funny... "I want to run a business" kind of entails that we think more like business men and less like programmers.

Best of luck to you.
STOP doing shit that doesn't work and doesn't matter.

24 points by mrkurt 4 days ago 1 reply      
From the "completely random advice" category: you should share how you're feeling with your wife. Optimism is good and healthy, but that's one of those partnerships that can be really helpful... if you let it.

I recently benefited from just that - I was debating applying to YC, decided not to due to our family situation (just bought a house, adopting one kid, fostering 2 others, own an annoying poodle) and my wife said "hey, you know what, give it a shot. We'll make it work".

11 points by michaelchisari 4 days ago 2 replies      
This may not work for you, but it may work for others: There's a joker in the pack that exists for those of us who don't have the capital (social or economic) to build a company simply off of an idea.

Open source your software, generalize it, and push it so that anyone can set it up. Make it easy to install, and make it do what it says it can do really well.

Sure, it's not the best way to get rich. I've been working on the open source social networking software, Appleseed, for about 6 years now, and it's been a massive effort with very little financial gain. But your measure of success can change, you can subvert the typical questions of press and fame and fortune that have come to define success, and see success in other ways.

And it's not perfect. I had been working on Appleseed for half a decade when Diaspora managed to raise $200k on the same idea by having the connections and press I couldn't get. But in the world of open source, there is still a level of meritocracy that you don't see in the start-up world: Either your software works, or it doesn't, and they may have had $200k, but I had 13 years of professional experience, and a 6 year head start, and when you're measured in code, hype can only get you so far.

You may even see your open source software put the fear of God into that mediocre LA competitor with all the press and venture capital, which just personally would make me feel better.

The one thing my father always said that I had to relearn with life experience is "it's not about what you know, it's about who you know". It's a very frustrating truism, but there are ways to sidestep it. It just requires some creativity and willingness to play outside of the rules.

And of course, you never know, if your open source software gains traction, you might find it easier to start a company from there, since you'll have gained respect, notoriety, and social connections from that work.

19 points by froo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm no marketing expert, but you don't need to get on TC for your company to get traction.

I've tried in the past like you to get on TC and I was unsuccessful. The truth is I tried sending emails to all the "big name" blogs and nada.

I learned a different approach very quickly. I found that if you approach the "small" blogs, they're much more open to covering you. Then using that small amount of coverage as leverage, you approach more well known blogs.

Doing that, I managed to go from not hearing from TC in one week, to having the top story on Yahoo UK's homepage for an entire day the next.

It wasn't easy, it was a shit ton of emails that I wrote, all carefully crafted and targeted to each individual blogger I approached.

In a month the site went from idea, to launch, to 440k uniques (racking up 2.6 million pageviews) to being sold off for quite a tidy profit given it had a very short shelf life.


Anyway, my advice would be to not to give up, just change tactics and approach the smaller guys first, build a solid foundation and work your way from there.

Also, take my advice with a grain of salt as I mentioned I'm no marketing genius.

15 points by jamesjyu 4 days ago 1 reply      
"so after about a year of coding we still managed to pull off a nice and usable MVP"

"In just 8 months without any funding we went from zero to a beautiful system, signed up a couple of early customers by attending local meetups and events, and prepared for a Big Day."

That is your first and foremost problem. You cannot go into a cave and develop your product with no significant marketing or at least a soft launch. You're going to end up building the wrong thing (or even worse, find out the idea was crap all along).

You need to launch an MVP ASAP. And a lot of times, that MVP is only just a landing page (with no other functionality)! If you don't get any signups or excitement, that is reason to pause.

9 points by olalonde 4 days ago 1 reply      

My impression is that a lot of comments are just restatements of the usual clichés: "get the first paying customer", "luck vs perseverance", "minimum viable product", "execution vs great ideas", etc.

As someone who has already asked this kind of question on HN, that type of cookie-cutter advice really isn't helpful at all (assuming you have been following HN for a while).

We need more specific, actionable advice. Here is mine:


Grab a copy of "The Four Steps to the Epiphany"[1] by Steven Blank and apply his methodology. It's broadly a "How-to" guide on discovering who your customers are, what they really want and how to make them buy. According to your story, it seems you are focusing too much on getting PR when you really should go out your office and talk with your customers directly (instead of via TC).

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Four-Steps-Epiphany-Steven-Blank/dp/09...

6 points by petercooper 4 days ago 1 reply      
[..] just start a blog. Nope, that's also not for you. Because blogging is a nearly full-time occupation, so don't expect to gain readership with that little precious time you have left from coding your product and working your day job. Successful blogs are written by well-funded competitors who don't have to code 18 hours a day and have capital to keep staff on payroll to blog/tweet/whatever and make as much attention-grabbing noise as possible.

True for you and many others but not a universal truth by a long shot. Blogging is far from a time consuming activity if you're both a reasonable writer and neck deep in the subject matter. Let's just take an example that sat on the front page of HN for most of today:


232 words. And as my own blog was on the front page a similar length of time today, I'm confident they got at least 2000 pageviews from that (I got 5000) and I know I've seen several posts of theirs do well here. Yet if you check their blog, they have several posts per month at most, none are very long or technical.

Other startups like SeatGeek and MailChimp nail the blogging in a similar way. There's no way they're not getting some serious exposure with them, yet it seems in most cases it's regular techs updating the blog and not some team of "noise" generating PR flacks.

9 points by Sukotto 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think you covered all my personal fears about starting my own app.

[edit] Wait. You missed having yourself or your family getting sick. Or maybe you live someplace with socialized health care.

8 points by trevelyan 4 days ago 2 replies      
Hmmm.... my business has always been in the same boat in terms of press, although we are a niche product and so grow essentially through word of mouth. That said... improving the product usually trumps getting an article written in the long run. And never spend more than 40 minutes writing an email.

My suggestions for AdSense would be to spend $500 at once rather than trickling the money out. This gives Google enough knowledge of your conversion rates that you can switch to pay-per-conversion. Bear in mind that you also have to be ruthless about excluding websites where you aren't going to get any conversions during your pay-per-click period. So track your spend daily and exclude-exclude-exclude sites that don't convert. I don't know if you've done this, but it basically halved our advertising costs and turned us from advertising at a loss into advertising more or less at cost (perhaps profitably assuming word of mouth, etc.).

Good luck!

6 points by greendestiny 4 days ago 0 replies      
Launch day smaunch day, its not a launch until you get the publicity you want. When TC ignores you, have another launch day. Unless your startup is aimed at startups the TC crowd is mostly people who want to spectate your success, not use your product. There will be a bunch of sites that do cater to people who would be interested in what you do (ie lifehacker for productivity etc) focus on those. Have another launch day with those sites, with HN and reddit.

If that doesn't work iterate and launch again.

16 points by aheilbut 4 days ago 1 reply      
What is it? If you don't tell anyone, nobody is going to know.
5 points by ed 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hey man, that sucks. But you picked a great place to rant -- most of us have been in this boat before :-)

FWIW, word-of-mouth marketing usually feels like a total crapshoot. Topical, often trivial ideas seem to do the best. And honestly Techcrunch doesn't help as much as you may think. They're good for a spike of 5-10k users, but much more important is your willingness to support an unpopular product for another 6-12 months. Because it will be unpopular. :-p

You might not feel comfortable linking to your company here but I'd love to see what you're working on. I put my email address in my profile, maybe I can offer some feedback.

5 points by marknutter 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the location app war that's been going on for the last couple of years. All you would ever hear about on Techcrunch was Foursquare Foursquare Foursquare, but all along a little app called MyTown was blowing away Foursquare's numbers. Don't get caught up in the hype of TC and Silicon Valley.
5 points by dools 4 days ago 1 reply      
When I get killed by the funding game in Silicon Valley, I like to look to 37signals for inspiration. I, too, live in an area where it's much harder to get funded.

I also have a wife and a baby. And she feels my highs and lows as much as I do.

The excitement of a new idea and the let-downs when things don't explode into a fervour of web 2.0 money madness. But we do okay - I work from home and we have enough money to get by and we're pretty happy. That's enough! That's okay! You don't need to be a billionaire to be happy and doing okay! (Disclaimer: yes, I would like to be a billionaire :)

I've got a few ideas: whatwhere.com.au is a search engine that's going nowhere at the moment, smsmyride.com let's you TXT people by number plate, smscard.com.au lets you call overseas from your mobile phone, 8centsms.com let's you send SMS from the web and decalcms.com which is my YC app, is a fantastic content management system that is proving really hard to sell!! They mostly look crap - we're working on the design etc. and it's hard.

It takes a long time to get something right when you're funding it yourself. Working Software is self funded. We're not a design company - workingsoftware.com.au is my business - we do a lot of backend work so it's hard to pay for good design (although I've recently employed a design/html guy full time and we're working on improve our "brand").

But we do consulting and pay the bills (most months :) and gradually we're moving towards productisation.

And that's how 37 signals did it - and you know what? They've been around for TEN YEARS. And although they started getting some press pretty early on it's not like they've been the masters forever, they just kept working on it.

My advice to you is: sure it's good to apply for YC, sure it's good to have ideas and build things - but don't put all your eggs in one basket. Focus on what you can achieve for very little outlay, do that, see what happens, then change it and keep on keeping on.

Also - employ someone to work with you, or find a partner. It makes a world of difference when you're not doing it all alone. I have 2 full time employees now - 1 coder and 1 HTML/design guy, and a part-time book-keeper. I work with others in partnerships as much as I can. I'm very open to collaboration and always talking to people about my business and striking up relationships.

Just because you don't get funded DOESN'T MEAN THE END OF ANYTHING. You just need to work out a business model where you can pay for 2 days of innovation with 3 days of billable time, and that's how you get somewhere.

Sure, I applied to YC, I'd love to get funded. We could build things way faster that way. But if I don't get funded, hell it's just back to business as usual.

You don't need that boom and bust mentality - good things happen to those who work and wait, just as much as those that have meteoric rises to fame.

There are plenty of examples of admirable people who have received success early and late in their careers in ALL fields. Examples of people who have lost it all after being on the highest of highs, examples of people who work hard their entire lives and never see ANY recognition!!

All you can do is love what you do enough that, if it works it works, and if it doesn't it doesn't. Make sure you save some money, make sure you enjoy the ride, make sure you're working to a realistic schedule and that you set time limits on your hours and that sort of thing.

The way I see people talking about it on YC and vids etc. is: you get funded or you go get a job. That's not necessarily the case, so don't lose heart: you can make money and be happy without Silicon Valley funding :)

3 points by iuguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
You'll have to excuse me, but screw techcrunch (or rather your idea of what techcrunch will do for you).

Your launch is not the be all and end all, it's the beginning of a long hard slog. Look at the likes of Bingo Card Creator and Balsamiq. Why would Bingo Card Creator belong on TechCrunch? Rather than focusing on one site, you need to work on a long term plan to raise profile within your target market. The last thing you want is a load of uninterested visitors looking for the thing between now and the next big thing. If you business is relevant to it and it's ready, the likes of TechCrunch will come to you. In the meantime focus on the niches within your target market.

For example, my company sells two things - Penetration Testing and Incident Response. We're very, very good at it, but not many people know about us in our target markets because we (some might say) foolishly were a little bashful about promoting ourselves. Some of that was a product of size and structure, but most of it was that we were taking the wrong approach. We've picked a niche (GCSX CoCo Health Checks - I know, interesting stuff right?) and have started marketing it offline and online. Have a look at http://www.mandalorian.com/services/penetration-testing/gcsx... - That's one A/B tested page for one niche (GCSX CoCo Testing) within a niche (Penetration Testing) within a niche (Information Security). We're a B2B consultancy so we tend not to do things like blogging (at least so far) as it has the potential to be a time sink. Instead we focus on winning business in a target sector or niche, which is what you should be doing.

Our campaign has an initial ramp period, sustained promotion for a reasonable period and then will enter a business as usual setup. Persistence and testing is what will get you the results your after, Not Michael Arrington.

7 points by zatara 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I think that HN is too self-centered. The fact is that HN, Reddit, TC, et al. are places where geeks/nerds/hackers go to. I personally enjoy all of them, but unless my product focus on this market, I would never waste my time worrying about being covered in them. If you make bingo stuff (à la patio11), you should be trying to reach out to those customers and just forget about TC. Part of the "make-something-people-want" involves putting aside your own personal filters and prejudices.
14 points by DannoHung 4 days ago 1 reply      
So, uh, you're on the front page of HN now... Shy aren't you selling us on your thingy?
24 points by imasr 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have any advice for you, but don't forget you did manage to launch a product, twice!
To me that's amazing.
3 points by metamemetics 4 days ago 0 replies      
>We applied to YC (rejected by email), studied "how to pitch to TC"

You can't count on a blessing from above. Those are venues for pitching to investors, not pitching to users. You gotta go ground up with forums, blogs, twitter, email.

Create quotas for yourself of the minimum number of people you talk to on each per day about your site. Signup for lots of forums, start posting in said forums. Seriously don't underestimate forums, they are still big because they are the ideal many-to-many venue of communication surrounding one topic. These are communities that are clearly labeled. You know instantly what kind of users are on there and how to cater your marketing to them. Although forums tend to be around more physical goods and concerns, if your application domain is productivity or something more abstract start hitting up bloggers non-stop.

6 points by gallerytungsten 4 days ago 0 replies      
The first thing that comes to mind is, did you do any customer development? http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/2008/11/what-is-custome...

In your story, I didn't see anything about sales efforts beyond "signed up a couple of early customers." Perhaps that was the missing link. It seems you relied on PR tactics, rather than finding, choosing, and closing customer deals one by one.

5 points by ericz 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Oh, about scalas, clojures and rubies - they really, really don't matter."

This is the only thing here I agree with.

TC is rather useless in the grand scheme of things. If not being able to get on TC is your marketing strategy then you need to rethink it.

Much of PR is about having the right connections. This doesn't mean you must have grabbed a beer with Arrington before but just having met and chatted briefly with a writer irl is helpful in getting PR

3 points by darklajid 4 days ago 0 replies      
My reaction is twofold.

First, and foremost, I feel with you. I (never stepped out of a "normal" job so far) admire all you guys that have the balls to try that, to risk your savings for something you consider a chance to move something big.
There are quite some stories about failures here, but usually they are presented as "lessons". Your post, emotionally, seems to be more like a resignation.[1]
That's why I want to wish you all the best.

The second reaction is kind of twisted/evil: I wonder if "I'm a solo founder, didn't go to Stanford, in my mid 30s" is enough to basically identify you to the right people - i.e. YC. I'm not even sure if that would be something you want (Trying to advertise for your idea once more) or not (Missing that fact while venting)..

1: English isn't my native tongue either, and text sucks for emotional conversations anyway. I might be wrong.

8 points by dgreensp 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Great execution" means business execution, not programming execution.

You don't need TechCrunch's permission to launch a successful company, which is basically just as difficult if you get it.

5 points by Mz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would suggest that you take more of a look at yourself rather than at your business per se to try to figure out why this isn't clicking. You have to be the seed out of which the business grows. All that stuff "out there" needs to be the air and water and so forth where it can take root and grow, but it grows out of you. So maybe you are what you need to understand better.

Good luck.

4 points by benologist 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure when it happened but some time mid/late this year I realized TC, YC, funding etc .... none of it really matters. I've written the big blogs, been rejected from YC, had a couple nice investor guys tell me how imperative it is I have a cofounder.

None of that stuff dictates what is successful, and most of them are wrong most of the time for the negligible % of startups they touch. It'd be nice to have that coverage or that network or that money, but all that really matters is you, your product and your users/customers.

3 points by cubicle67 4 days ago 1 reply      
Now you've got me intrigued; is your first product still up and running? I'd love to see it if possible

As for TechCrunch, that seems brutal that they can hold you hostage like that

1 point by Mz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something I have been thinking about is a quote from an old TV show something like:

"Though a tree that falls in a forest and is not heard makes no sound, still, it falls."

I would suggest you stop worrying about press and worry about reaching individuals users. Word of mouth and all that. For inspiration, you might read the story here behind this guy's business:


(I saw this on HN somewhere previously. Thanks to whomever posted it before me.)

I am very much doing the grass-roots thing for one of my projects. I get a lot of flack and relatively little positive response. I actively discourage people from heaping public praise upon me because it causes nothing but trouble. I am frequently discouraged. But the humble, reaching out to the people approach I am taking is gradually working whereas attention-mongering never did anything but backfire and alienate people. Whatever you are doing is unlikely to be as touchy a topic as what I am doing, so you probably don't need to bend over backwards to avoid "good press" when it does come. You may just need to look for other means to validate that you are getting somewhere. Press is not everything.

Good luck with this.

5 points by mg1313 4 days ago 1 reply      
No wonder nobody noticed you...if your native language is not English, if your name sounds strange and if you are not living in US (read Silicon Valley) then good luck! Because you need a ton to get PR, investors and all that stuff.

Unfortunately, that's how it works and if somebody says it's not true they are not belonging in your category.

2 points by chipsy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in the same position - and I think most people are - of "can't force my idea onto the market." Completing the entire product cycle seems to rank higher for me than "the idea" or "the execution," as it affords a chance to clear the slate, see the project's history in an honest light and use that to motivate the next strategy decision.

Each time I ship something, I'm discovering that I could have cut things down much further than I did and saved (months/weeks/days) of effort, and just wasn't ready to believe it in the planning stages.

Plus, moving fast gives me more opportunities to work on marketing skills and gain some real experience there. Project artifacts have zero real value until someone is using them, so the marketing effort is a way to mitigate risk, and shouldn't be an "oh my god did we get it right?" shuttle-launching kind of experience. If you feel like it's a shuttle launch, you may have taken on too much risk(for a web app).

3 points by bandhunt 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. A mvp shouldn't take 8 months. You need to launch faster and you need to talk to your customers before, during and always.
2. TC doesn't matter much. I've received 2 posts and about 4000 visits for each post and only a handful of real users from those visits - you need a good product.
3. The initial idea doesn't matter that much. You probably won't start with the best idea. Iterate, iterate, iterate to the best product and idea.

It's not easy. Good luck!! Hope you stick with it.

3 points by joeag 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think all you really need to do is solve an identified problem that the customer will pay for. The rest is just a matter of how big your business will get and how fast and that depends on market size, competition and execution.

To get early customers I like the domino theory that Clayton Christensen first described in his book Crossing the Chasm (assuming you have built a product that solves an actual, difficult to solve customer problem that is worth paying for):

1. Start with one (paying customer), that customer then;
2. Gives a testimonial that you can use to sell other similar customers and;
3. Actually provides you names (and sometimes even actual referrals) of other customers you can sell to.

As you build reference customers it gets easier to sell to other customers because now you start to get a rep as a must have in that particular industry.

Nowhere in your posting do I see anything about "we have X number of customers" or "we worked with X number of customers when developing our product". If you spent $60k plus your own time developing a product before showing it to any customers it's possible that there is no need for the product, and that more than anything may be why you are not getting the response you want from either investors, "journalists" or customers.

I know how this can happen, I've been there myself! (It seemed like a good idea when we started building it, how come nobody wants to buy?)

3 points by speleding 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just like to add a little contrasting experience, note our paths start out similar:
- I left a (very) high paying consulting position
- I'm not in the US
- Coded up a great product & launched
- Nothing happened, very little attention on blogs
- Several very well funded US competitors appear, get lots of press
- A year later I'm still adding features, starting to gain a little traction, but making barely enough to live off
- Two years later, I'm making a lot of money and product is doing really well, representatives in 6 countries, triple digit growth

I think the main think I noticed was that OTHER startups getting funded was actually good for ME, since it validated the product and people started to google around for alternatives. They made the beginner mistakes I already passed. Only sales I did was $10 a day on adwords, just to get some traffic going.

So: don't give up too soon.

7 points by skilesare 4 days ago 0 replies      
So new mac book air yesterday. Today the MS phone launches. And VCs put up 250M for new social start ups and you're wondering why you didn't get any pub? I'd launch again tomorrow. Keep launching it until it catches on.
14 points by delano 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't stop now!
2 points by jarsj 4 days ago 0 replies      
You just sound like me. I had the best job. I am not in the valley. My first year in the woods saw me splitting with my co-founder, going into debt and not to mention that my first idea never took off. My current idea has seen 3 YC rejects, 2 TC50 reject, 2 year of me working on it alone and a very recent blasting on the YC. I wonder if my idea will give up on me first.

I disagree that me and you should give up. We have learned more from our failures that most entrepreneurs would have learned for their short-lasting success. It's time to introspect, write down a list of todos that will make your product better, talk to a bunch of users and see why they are hating your product and get back to coding.

You are just in mid-30s and you are going to live for atleast 50 more years. Hang in there for a decade.

2 points by christopherslee 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hang in there man.

What's touched upon in various ways in all the comments is that "PR" and "Media Coverage" is not the end all be all. In fact the successfully software startups I know STILL email individual potential customers on a daily basis.

I think one of the great myths of the internet is that you should just create a product, throw it up on the internet with some SEO and AdWords and the customers will come. Sure it might work for a few people, but by and large you are still growing a business. And you often grow a business one person at a time, hopefully later you can learn to scale sales.

Often what is missing from people's MVP's and business plans is how are you going to very specifically market to your target customers, and what the cost of customer acquisition is. If you can't identify a way to find your target customer, you're going to have a problem. Again, I don't think general SEO and SEM is going to work.

Don't give up on your idea, start emailing people. 50, 100 people a day. Convert them one at a time. If your business idea is not specifically just some sexy piece of technology, direct mail may work too (if you don't also have to educate people on why they need your product.)

Journalist want to write about what's hot, not about what is a potentially decent idea in a decent market. They want to talk about iphones, ipads, and facebook, and the latest jargon.

Anyways, start finding your target customers and email them. Don't worry about email campaign tools and crazy stuff, just starting email or calling them one at a time. Building a web based software business doesn't mean you can just skip sales.

1 point by astrodust 3 days ago 0 replies      
Although I'm a big fan of great ideas, in the grand scheme of things they don't really matter, not if you're trying to build a business.

What matters is customers, and you get customers because they know about you, and they learn about you through marketing.

To rephrase what you're emphasizing:

"Market the fuck out of your great idea"

Be everywhere, talk to everyone, always be selling. Don't be "viral", be invasive. Show up, pitch, and close. Get deals not by word of mouth, but by being there.

Make noise. Create spectacle. Generate exposure.

People forget that things like Twitter are not only products, but platforms that literally market themselves. Marketing is baked into their idea. Facebook went "viral" only because it capitalized on people's inherent narcissism. Most products don't have this luxury.

Always be promoting.

Too many companies have failed simply because they forgot to tell people about what they were doing.

4 points by chailatte 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cheer up, guy. Techcrunch front page doesn't guarantee success at all....remember that 90% of startups fail. So there's no possible way that all those startups Techcrunch reported on succeeded. From your story, it doesn't sound like you persisted with your first startup, which may be why it failed.
1 point by talbina 2 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by mahmud 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's time to white-label, or offer referrals my friend. Throw the marketers a bone. Put that fucker on Clickbank and CJ and offer 50% commissions. No one has to know you're white-labeling it; keep the customizable version off of your main brand, but don't write a LINE of code until you have someone willing to pay for a license.
1 point by jhrobert 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Good names"


Truth is your product probably didn't have a great "good name".

See starting at 5:18 in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzJmTCYmo9g -- that's about the subprime market. hilarious.

So, as the video demonstrates: no fucking great idea can challenge a really great "good name"

To make my point, let's put an example (me). Take a commodity idea. Say "a wiki". And then name it "SimplyWiki", or, adding some trickery, "SimpliWiki".

Now your get a great "good name" and it is the only thing that really matters.


Well... some persistence is good too, as mentioned before, so... keep trying and remember to have fun, it's easier to persist in doing fun things.

1 point by owkaye 2 days ago 0 replies      
Posts like these are just a waste of time. If you're not willing to provide the details so we actually know what company / product / service you're talking about how can we offer any credible advice?

Sure, it's easy to say "focus on the business" and "don't give up" but maybe what you're doing is a losing proposition from the beginning -- and maybe you SHOULD give up!

Who knows, maybe you should have given up before you ever started? It's hard to say without knowing any real facts ... :(

4 points by bobbywilson0 4 days ago 1 reply      
You wanted an audience, now you have one.
Make something of it.
1 point by trizk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some of us have been there, and others are still there. Reading your post I imagine your start-ups were missing the key ingredient: Connections. It is likely that the well connected mediocre start-ups got press and funding because they knew people.

While there will always be the silver spoon fed types who really "know" people, you can go a long way networking and being social. Not social networking. Get off your machine and go to events, conferences, where-ever the action is and make friends with people who can help you, and presumably who you can help too.

I know it is really hard to shift focus from the product and socialize, especially as a single founder. You have grown so accustomed to the efficiency of the Internet that any offline PR or networking seems like a grand old waste of time. I am guilty of that too. But I realize that many entrepreneurs have a competitive advantage by virtue of their social connections. Whether it be in the form of an introduction to a venture capitalist at a party or lunch with a tech journalist.

So I suggest you don't throw in the towel just yet. You now have a product. And obviously a supportive wife after four years. Drop the code for awhile. Step back and reassess where you are focusing your energy to steer your company towards a brighter future. It is not an easy or short road to follow. But if you really want it, you will get there.

1 point by chanux 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear ExhaustedHacker,

Sad to hear your story. But that how it is down here on earth. No one cares. Really.

You should forget about TC, YC and 'a big launch'. You should've just launched. Do whatever you can to let the world know about your product. I think HN is a good place, and proggit too. I know you did that once. But perhaps it's the third attempt is the one that's gonna make the difference. The second, if we are lucky (I said 'we', you are not alone :))

So launch. Have faith in yourself. Give it some time. I wish you very good luck.

1 point by wpeterson 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of two important things:

The #1 thing you need to do is find a way to sustain yourself and your energy through the long slog - Paul Graham's "How Not to Die"

The #2 thing you need to do is build relationships with customers and understand who's problem you're solving and how you're going to do it.

Figuring out how to make forward progress is easier than figuring out how not to give up and how to get anyone to give a shit.

1 point by abijlani 3 days ago 0 replies      
Overnight success is a myth. You can read tons of articles on how companies took years of trying to reach the success and adulation that they now receive. In most cases it takes them years of sweat and persistence to become an overnight success. Of course there are the rare ones that hit it on the first go but that would be equivalent to winning the lottery versus having to work hard at making your millions. Don't give up now or ever and some day just maybe some day you will become that overnight success.
1 point by kevinelliott 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hang in there! Don't stop now! So many startups fail because the founder(s) get burned out and quit early. Of the many success stories I have read, you always hear that they pushed through at the very end when they were feeling like it was a failure, and it became a success.

Sometimes success is just on the other side of the fail mountain.

1 point by RockyMcNuts 3 days ago 0 replies      
In real estate, it's "location, location, location".

In VC it's "team, market, product".

In most cases people are happy to give you their reason why they think it's not such a great investment.

You might want to go back to people's reasons for rejection and make sure you took away the right lessons learned.

If there's some underlying oddball reason they're unable to articulate clearly, like you didn't pass due diligence because they have you confused with a mass murderer of the same name, or the reasons are otherwise it might help to work with an intermediary who is familiar with the VC process. Either your experience should put you in touch with possible mentors/board of advisors, or as a last resort you could give someone with a record of success a stake contingent on getting you over whatever hurdle is blocking you.

2 points by ndl 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just starting now. I'm glad you posted this. There's much survivor bias in the startup community.

It's not the sound but the silence that bothers me. Constantly wondering whether a lack of responses indicates that something is wrong (requiring a pivot), or that I haven't stayed the course long enough for my current strategy to pay off.

1 point by ericn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a "successful entrepreneur", but I have failed quite a bit.

Your biggest problem: taking eight months to "launch". If it's not sellable after a week, why spend eight months on it? You should start making money as soon as possible.

That means making the simplest, fastest-to-develop product and putting it out there. Don't change a thing until you have paying customers giving you feedback. If that day never comes, move on, and take your savings with you.

1 point by SemanticFog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Building product != Building business

If you want to build a business, then you need a real plan for sales and marketing. Doing these well is just as hard as writing code. It takes a lot of careful thought, and it often takes money.

Even if you got your one-time appearance in TC, you'd find it wasn't enough. You need a sustainable strategy for acquiring customers. You need to calculate that the money you get from each customer is ultimately more than it costs to acquire them. Depending on your market, you may need a lot of money up-front to build a sustainable business.

These things don't take care of themselves. There's no simple one-time solution like showing up on TechCrunch. If you want a business, you have to build it.

1 point by jcromartie 3 days ago 1 reply      
You know you're not doing your PR situation any favors by withholding your product's name.
1 point by retube 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is probably my favourite post & thread on HN to date. There's some great comments here, so I wont repeat stuff. But I would suggest hiring a PR agency. The right agency will get you a great ROI.
2 points by rokamic 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, great job on your second product launch. I will put money on your turning a profit within 18 more product launches.
Check out Gabriel Weinburg's:
My history of (mostly failed) side projects and startups
1 point by aberkowitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Getting on TC and into YC involve people doing things for you. You're blaming your lack of motivation on them.

If you want to advertise, learn to advertise. If you cannot and will not learn to advertise, hire an expert to do it for you. Don't make hurdles into an excuse to fail.

2 points by cooper78 3 days ago 0 replies      
Check out Brian Pipa (Teenormous) on Mixergy about 35m20s into the interview... great example of persistence when dealing with competition (Gary Vee) who were getting big coverage on TC etc. PR coverage on these sites isn't the be all and end all. If your market isn't other tech people / very early adopters that kind of coverage is fairly irrelevant...
4 points by geekam 4 days ago 0 replies      
ok, I am really depressed after reading this.
1 point by petervandijck 4 days ago 0 replies      
No advice here either. Let me know if you want an outside product review though, email in sig. If you're product is awesome, you should be able to have it do well.
2 points by jiganti 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hi exhaustedhacker. Please shoot me an email, I'd like to talk to you.
1 point by dennisgorelik 4 days ago 0 replies      
1) Don't be afraid to attach your name to your startup. If you are embarrassed about your startup -- why should other people be interested in it?

2) Do not sacrifice other promotion opportunities for Tech Crunch. It kills startups that keep it in a stealth mode.

1 point by chr15 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Have a fucking great idea"

Everybody thinks their idea is great. Even you thought your idea was great, right? You might be better off trying to growing your personal brand in addition to launching a company. If you have a name for yourself, it should be easier to get YC's and TC's attention.I'm sure if one of the famous HNers launched something, people would notice (and they have)

1 point by eljaco 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes (usually) it's all about marketing and getting your name out. Posting a link to your site here, there, everywhere (especially on a post about a product launch.) Talk to people about it, get feedback and build a community that gets emotionally attached to the product. You're done with the "hard" part, now it's all about increasing your luck by mingling and networking. Good luck!
1 point by senaddizdar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I learned one rule as bootstrapped entrepreneur: 30-30-30-10.

30% is product (programming - product must not suck),
30% is marketing,
30% is sales and
10% is luck (there is always some luck).

That is how it is. Yeah that is cliché.

And don't give up.

2 points by bdclimber14 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great story... inspiring actually. I always thought I was the only one in your shoes.
1 point by donniefitz2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well said. I feel your pain. Hope you feel better now. It's good to vent.
1 point by rebooter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Print these two lines in large type and post them on wall you can see every day:

Your focus becomes your reality.

Never get in your own way.

So: What do you want your reality to be? Focus on it. Figure out how to get there. Never give up.

And, don't get in your own way by becoming your own worst enemy and defeating yourself mentally before your competitors.

I've made a lot of money over the years and have also lot is all to the point of going bankrupt twice (as in, having to file bankruptcy, rinso, everything gone). Still, I would not change any of it. Not one bit. Either this is in your bloodstream or it isn't.

1 point by mike_esspe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Easy answer to your frustration: you should try to code the project, that can be bootstrapped.
1 point by mikerosoftx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stop worrying about the press - watch the airbnb startup school video and listen t othe advice he was given: go to your customers, build the base from them.


1 point by known 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you're not paying for the service, you are the product, not the customer.
1 point by ralleab 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you build something truly good, it will get popular. I don't understand why you care so deeply about TC and YC. Simply telling your friends and get them to tell their friends and talk about it when you can should get you far if it truly is an awesome product.
1 point by frexcel 4 days ago 0 replies      
wow...from the heart.
-4 points by dan_sim 4 days ago 0 replies      
col-de-sac should have been cul-de-sac

you see, I just made a HN-style comment. Draw your own conclusions.

Ask HN: anyone using the new MacBook Air as your main development machine?
71 points by acl 2 days ago   105 comments top 26
14 points by jdietrich 2 days ago 3 replies      
If your current machine has a magnetic hard drive, even the bottom-end Air will feel incredibly fast by merit of its SSD. Check out how quickly it'll boot:


As has been pointed out, compile speed isn't necessarily CPU-bound and some compilation tasks are quicker on a slow machine with a faster drive. CPU performance is much less important than most people think.

Screen size is a more difficult issue, as so much depends on your development approach. I'm increasingly inclined to think that my large display may actually hinder my productivity, as it seems to facilitate distraction and procrastination. I seem to feel less bad about procrastinating if I have my text editor open. I'm giving very serious thought to replacing my 17" MBP with an 11" Air and a Kindle DX. A lot of writers use a full-screen text editor like WriteRoom, or even a typewriter, so there's a lot to be said for minimalist, low-distraction tools.

28 points by frisco 2 days ago 2 replies      
So my main development machine is a cluster of servers behind a firewall. Therefore, it doesn't matter what my thin client's specs are: I typically develop from a 15" MBP, but since all it's running locally is ssh / sshfs / sftp and a browser, it totally doesn't matter. A future of living and working in the cloud? The machine is literally named the "Air".
1 point by lutorm 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
The ultimate test: How long does it take to do a full Fink rebuild on it?
11 points by jrockway 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is kind of a vague question. Do you mean "is the keyboard good enough to type on"? Do you mean "is it good for me to stare down at a weird angle for 8 hours a day"? Do you mean "is it easy to upgrade the hardware when I want to"?

If that's what you mean, no laptop is going to be acceptable. Laptop keyboards are crap. Laptop ergonomics are crap. Laptop expandability is crap.

If the question is, "does Ruby run on 2.13GHz dual core machines", the answer is yes.

I like to work from not-my-desk once in a while, so I have a small netbook for that. But honestly, it's so much nicer to work at a properly ergonomic workspace that I rarely do this -- only for hackathons and the like. If I am by myself, I am in front of a proper workstation.

(I also don't like the "well, just ssh from your laptop to a server" approach that others are mentioning. I can feel the latency. If I run Emacs over ssh or X to another machine, I notice the key lag. If I edit files on a remote file system, I feel the latency for operations like "git status" and even saving. Perhaps I am just very picky.)

17 points by joshstrike 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using a last-revision 2.13 Ghz Air (SSD) as my dev box and only computer for a year and a half. I love it. It's the best mac I've ever had (and my 10th since 1992). I do a fair amount of graphics work as well as code, and it's suitable for that - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You can't walk into a Costco or Sam's Club without seeing labels I designed on my Air. And for coding, it's a dream. The ONLY reason I'd be a bit averse to getting the new one is it's no faster than mine; with the SSD, "2Gb" of RAM is really never a limit since the drive is basically lightning fast anyway; and the new one doesn't have a backlit keyboard, which is bad because I don't stop coding when it gets dark.

I'm an expatriate and live on the road; I'm literally never anywhere without my laptop, not even for five minutes, so the weight and form factors are critical. And I don't use my computer for entertainment, and don't care about having a DVD drive, etc. I do all my development with Flex, Dreamweaver, Dashcode and a LAMP stack, so my needs may not match those of desktop app devs. But for me it's really been ideal.

3 points by Yaggo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't own an Air, but the idea is tempting. I have 27" iMac and old 13" black MacBook, and while I really enjoy my workstation with the former¹, I've found myself to work on the MacBook more oftenly – as a laptop, it's always with me, and because of its SSD, it is even faster in many daily tasks than the iMac with quad cores and octa gigs of RAM.

I'm fascinated by the minimalistic concept of the Air. I don't need zillion USB/FW ports, optical drive, 500+ gigs of disk, user replaceable components (every machine will be outdated as professional tool in few years anyway). I just need good keyboard (check), wifi (check), good all-around performance without bottlenecks (SSD, check), solid construction (check) and enough screen estate (not sure if 1440x900 is enough – I would love to see 15" Air with 1680x1050 screen).

[1] http://picasaweb.google.com/jaakko.holster/HomeOffice?authke...

4 points by martingordon 2 days ago 0 replies      
My initial response was going to be "No", but that would have been a snap response based on my previous prejudices on the MacBook Air.

I'm currently doing all of my development (iOS, web and Java) on a 2 year old 13" 2.4GHz Aluminum MacBook and it's been fine. Compared to my MacBook, the new MacBook Air has a slightly lower clock speed processor with twice as much L2 cache, an ultrafast hard disk and probably a better video chip (GeForce 320M compared to my 9400M) and a higher-resolution screen.

I say go for it.

6 points by mike463 2 days ago 4 replies      
Who develops on a laptop? Do you ignore ergonomics? This stuff will catch up with you (at the end of the day, and over your lifetime).

I'm healthier and lots more productive on a desktop with a keyboard, mouse and large screen (all at the correct heights and distances).

2 points by losvedir 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is my question, too! I want one...

Wil Shipley blogged a couple years ago here:

about developing his Delicious Library app on his Air. The post itself is a bit much, but there's an addendum at the bottom with some compile stats. Namely, the Air (because he got an SSD) compiled Delicious Library faster than his Macbook Pro.

But I would love to hear others' experience developing on an Air, since that's what I'm considering now, too. This Stack Overflow post:

mentions that Xcode can't autocomplete well on an old air, but I think it might be because it has a balls-slow 4200 rpm hard drive.

The only thing that concerns me is the processor. What things tax the CPU?

3 points by santry 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using a previous generation MacBook Air (1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 128GB SSD) for web dev work for 18 months or so. It's great for everything _except_ browser testing in VMWare. The 2GB of RAM just doesn't cut it when I need to fire up Windows to test in IE or, god forbid, the BlackBerry simulator for email testing.
2 points by mgunes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have experience and/or info regarding how the Air would compare to the 15 and 17 inch MBPs for more design-oriented (I'm leaving that vague on purpose) work? It's hard to find definitive display specs, so it's hard to anticipate what color accuracy and response times would be like.
4 points by jonhendry 2 days ago 0 replies      
By boss uses the prior-version Air for some development: Xcode, Matlab.

He's a patient guy.

1 point by tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
My 2.4GHz MacBook has been feeling sluggish lately... so I just ordered a 1.6GHz MBA. I expect it will actually feel faster for many tasks due to the SSD and 4GB of RAM (current MB has 2GB), but I'll let you know...
2 points by DougBTX 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use a 13" 2006 MacBook + a 22" screen for development of my toy iPhone apps, and I'm looking to upgrade to the Air. Developing just on the 13" screen works, but I like to have the simulator and the console on the 13" and keep the code on the 22". It's tricky to fit the iPad simulator on either screen though.
3 points by bazookaaa 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I'm able to use a Dell mini 10v as my primary web and Xcode development machine, I'm positive you'd be just fine on an Air. ;)
1 point by stevenp 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really want to get one of the new Airs but my main issue is that developing for the iPhone using the iPhone 4 simulator takes up 724x1044 all by itself. I know it scales down, but it still sucks to have so few pixels. I went to the store today and felt up the 11" though, and it is so amazing and futuristic that I can't stand it. I'll probably end up getting either the 11" or 13", even though I don't need either. :)
2 points by akulbe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a Mid-2009 17" MBP with 8GB of RAM in it, and one of the Seagate Momentus XT drives in it.

Since I'm already accustomed to the weight, and carrying a book or too with me all the time, or my iPad... weight argument is moot.

I'd get more benefit, and it'd be cheaper... to just upgrade my current setup with a 512GB SSD, rather than going with a current model Air.

(because I wouldn't be buying anything but a fully-loaded top model)

It's too wimpy with the stock setup, imo.

1 point by arnaudsj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been using a Macbook Air 2nd gen 1.86Ghz/2G/128GB SSD for 2+ years as main station along with a 23", then 27" screen. It has not slowed down my productivity at all but instead increased it! Being so portable let's you work anywhere, I carry it everywhere, even on the eliptical walker it's great to catch up on twitter feed or watch a video!

With a higher rez screen, greater battery, more memory & larger permanent storage, I can only imagine the new ones are even more suited to become your main development machine (and you won't be going back once you tasted it ;)

4 points by willlangford 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see why not. I use a Lenovo x201 as my main machine with zero issues.
1 point by jawee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I mainly just keep everything open in screen on my server so I can pull it open on any machine. I usually just alt-tab between a browser (usually Opera) and my terminator. I can just as easily work on Dell Mini 9 (well the keyboard layout of extra keys sucks for most coding) as my desktop as my laptop.. I just can't do the screen -x and split the window up as nicely. But seeing as the Air has such a nice screen resolution and a full keyboard, I see no reason why it couldn't work.
1 point by cparedes 2 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't used the Air and I don't plan on using one in the near future. I currently use a 2006 MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM.

Why not use the Air?

I need a ton of RAM. I'm actually currently limited because I need to spin up VM's on my local machine (for various reasons, often to test out, say, PXE booting in a confined environment.) If I wasn't in the business of testing systems vs. software stacks, then I'd be all over the Air.

1 point by rickmb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not yet, since my MacBook is still relatively new. But the last few MacBooks I bought where already deliberately on the low end, so yeah, my next main machine is likely to be an Air.

It kind of depends on my working environment at any given time (lots of time on the go or sitting behind a desk with an external screen), but power will definitely not be an issue.

1 point by midnightmonster 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's the minimum you'd use for iPad development?
1 point by Tyrant505 2 days ago 0 replies      
I currently use a pre-unibody 2.4ghz mbp 15"(love the keys) and when seeing the slimness and form of the newer Mbps, I'd really consider getting the 17" ! The tradeoffs seem worth it! I'm waiting till this one kicks it..
1 point by MisterWebz 2 days ago 5 replies      
What about the screen size? Is a 13 inch screen suitable for development?
-2 points by kenneth_reitz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: Facebook emails as facebookmail.com. Should I?
9 points by srgseg 23 hours ago   11 comments top 7
2 points by ugh 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I panicked a little bit when I received an obvious spam message (my mail program thought so, too) from this strange facebookmail.com domain that had all this personal information about me. (How does some random spammer know who is a friend of mine?)

That panic didn’t last that long (I have some capacity for logical deduction and Google helped) but I do think that it’s not really a very clever idea to send out your mail from a domain you are not normally using. There might be technical reasons but I think the user experience is just not great. I’m not sure, though. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice.

2 points by ajg1977 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you're over thinking things. Worry about it if/when it becomes an issue.

And if it is already an issue, providing more details about the type and quantity of emails you are sending, and the blocking you are experiencing, will help you get better answers.

1 point by user24 16 hours ago 1 reply      
All the purported reasons for FB doing this seem topsy turvy to me. Sacrificing the experience of the majority for the sake of the minority.

I mean, why not use @startupmail.com for your personal addresses and have your app use @startup.com? You can set up aliases like fred@startup.com so the obvious guess-address still works, but this way your users don't end up asking "is this legit?", your corp emails still won't get blocked for spam, etc.

I really dislike the UI of sending app related emails from a different domain. It's an ugly solution to what may be a non-problem, and if there really is a need to separate corp from app addresses, treat your app as the number one priority. Use gmail for your corp correspondence if you have to.

1 point by terrellm 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My guess is that Facebook uses separate domains to ensure their company email accounts don't end up with spam issues due to the overhead of sending out all the notifications for their users.

I've got dozens of "your friends are waiting for you on Facebook" notifications to email addresses that are not even linked on Facebook. I can see where people would mark these as spam.

Also given the less savvy end of the computer user spectrum, I can see where people will just click 'spam' as a quicker alternative to clicking delete and then 'Yes I want to delete'

Finally with the sheer volume of notifications generated, I can see where some overly sensitive mail servers may block the sending domain for too many messages.

2 points by byoung2 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Another good reason to have a separate domain is so that your main mail servers don't get overloaded with bounce messages, people hitting reply, etc.
1 point by tam7t 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Whenever I get any account information emails from "facebookmail.com" I spend 10 minutes trying to figure out if it's a phishing attempt. My opinion: Just use your real domain or if you must a subdomain, ie notify@mailer.startup.com.
1 point by executive 20 hours ago 1 reply      
use SendGrid
Tell HN: Never change your twitter username. It's broken.
6 points by skbohra123 1 day ago   discuss
Ask HN: How do you secure yourself on public WiFi?
80 points by whyleyc 1 day ago   70 comments top 32
12 points by ax0n 23 hours ago 1 reply      
My long answer is here: http://www.h-i-r.net/2008/08/defcon-paranoia.html

The short answer: I back up my data. I encrypt all sensitive data on my laptop and don't access it in uncontrolled environments. I tunnel everything (usually with OpenSSH Dynamic Proxy) and then I run a firewall ruleset on my laptop that: 1) Permits tunneling to my server, 2) Permits anything on localhost, 3) Blocks all other incoming or outgoing traffic. Meaning if some program (Pidgin for example) isn't going through the tunnel, it can't even connect out.

It's worth mentioning that I usually operate this way all the time, whether I'm in a risky environment like DefCon or HOPE conferences, or my favorite small coffee shop. Tools like ProxySwitcher, small shell scripts, network locations and stuff that others have mentioned can be used by moderately-savvy folks to make the tunnel setup as painless as possible.

9 points by theBobMcCormick 22 hours ago 4 replies      
I guess my question would be: What additional threat do you thing public wifi poses, as opposed to any other internet access? IMHO, you have to assume that any unencrypted traffic over the internet could be sniffed, etc.

The only additional threats I can see would be threats against your PC directly, rather than your traffic.

Am I wrong?

7 points by carbon8 23 hours ago 2 replies      
For the past 4 or 5 years I've been using SSH tunneling. I set up a location in OS X network preferences using the exact technique described in this comment http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1828631. I usually tunnel through my router at home which runs DD-WRT. I use SSH Tunnel manager to manage the tunnel http://projects.tynsoe.org/en/stm/.

Once it's set up, all you need to do is switch your network location to the tunnel location before you leave the house, then when you want to get online, press the button for the appropriate tunnel in SSH Tunnel Manager.

5 points by jsz0 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Usually I just avoid using public wifi. Tethering is practical enough these days. Worse case I have a few VPN endpoints to fall back on but if I'm going to be using HTTPS sites I don't even bother connecting.
16 points by yogsototh 1 day ago 2 replies      
What I do:

I have a reachable personnal computer with an ssh server. Then on my local machine I do:

    ssh -D 9050 username@host

Then in your web browser you should simply use localhost:9050 as SOCKS proxy. Now you're safe about the WiFi sniffers.

I made a short post about this:


5 points by runjake 21 hours ago 1 reply      
SSH, with SOCKS tunneling (and the FoxyProxy extension with Firefox, although I normally use Google Chrome). Works on Windows/Mac OS X/Linux. Note that this doesn't necessarily fix DNS sniffing and whatnot.

If I was paranoid, I'd bother to set up a VPN and use that.

If I'm extremely paranoid, I use Tor (which may have some security concerns).

5 points by ronnier 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I loaded Tomato on my Linksys router, then enabled SSH. I proxy through that when on public wifi. This is the best method for me because my Linksys router is always on and uses very little power.

It's also setup so I can use remote desktop through the proxy to my desktop at home. I wrote up some instructions on how I did it here:


3 points by epochwolf 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Easy, I open up a terminal and type:


It's a script which fires up an openvpn connection to a vps I have.

Getting openvpn working took about a day of hacking around on my vps and my mac. (just read the openvpn tutorial and follow the steps.) I still haven't gotten openvpn working on Windows but it's not something I've never needed.

5 points by scraplab 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I use an L2TP/IPSEC VPN on a Linode VPS. It works great with OS X and iOS devices - I've not tried anything else. There's a simple toggle switch on iOS in Settings to activate the VPN, or a one-click menu item in OSX.

It's pretty easy to set up, if you're comfortable with Linux. I'm using it on Ubuntu 9.10, and I followed the guide here:


6 points by retroafroman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a very cheap, small, Linux VPS for ssh tunneling via SOCKS proxy. It's a couple bucks a month, and it can also host my blog/app prototype/whatever when I get around to putting it up.
1 point by symesc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I use Witopia from Canada.

In addition to helping secure my connection to the Internet at all times, it enables access to online services that are otherwise unavailable.

These services include BBC iPlayer out of the UK, and Hulu and other streaming services from the US, like sporting events.

I have found Witopia to be extremely reliable and fast.

I recommend their service.

3 points by mitchellhislop 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a marcopolo setting on my mac that, if none of my usual networks are found, fires up an ssh tunnel to a vps I have just for that, and turns on my socks proxy.

This takes me remembering to do it out of the equation

1 point by iuguy 20 hours ago 0 replies      
For quick and dirty connections out, I use PuTTY to Set up a dynamic local SSH tunnel to a host of mine on the Internet. Then I use the tunnel as a SOCKS proxy. It's fairly straightforward to set up.

For remote access and Internet access over wifi for non-SOCKSable stuff I use Strongswan. I have a small scale darknet set up with it (just me and a few friends) so it's already there for me, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you know your stuff.

2 points by whyleyc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ideally I'd rather not have to configure my own VPN server, but if I have to then so be it.
1 point by gaoshan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I give an example of my quick and dirty solution here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1828631

For more robust solutions I set up my own openvpn instance on a home server which I can use that from any coffee shop and I have a Witopia account (which I use when abroad as they have servers all over the world which speeds things up a bunch). I make the greatest use of Witopia from within China as they have servers in Hong Kong.

1 point by PStamatiou 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I use a simple OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec provider + client app on OS X. Minimal setup and I can switch it on/off easily. I reviewed the one I use earlier this year, though this it now outdated because at the time they didn't offer OpenVPN and that was my biggest beef with it: http://paulstamatiou.com/how-toreview-surf-securely-with-vyp...
3 points by ez77 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there any standard, bird's-eye-view references on IT security?
2 points by zaa 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I bought a cheap VPS at linode.com, installed and configured pptpd and set up a PPTP connection to the VPS on my mac (using standard Network Preferences panel).
When I need a secure connection I just connect over PPTP to the VPS. This enables pretty secure connection from the place with wireless access to the VPS for all tcp protocols (http, smtp, etc).
1 point by ez77 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Conceptually, why do all options involve a server? If I somehow can securely "tunnel" to my server, I first have to tunnel through the WiFi hotspot, right? Am I not free to browse, safely, after securing this first step? (Sorry for the vagueness... This is as far as I understand these concepts.)
1 point by EvanK 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't do anything unencrypted (no sites that don't support ssl, no ftp or telnet, etc). If I absolutely have to do something potentially insecure, I set up an ssh tunnel through my vps slice...I tend to avoid this if possible, because its both a pain-in-the-ass and very slow.
1 point by tomfakes 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a different approach to this problem - Take your home network with you!

I recently signed up for Clearwire's CLEAR service. They have a MiFi component that does "4G" with fallback to 3G if necessary. This gives me up to about 3MBs, with portability (up to 3 hours on battery). There is no data limit for "4G", and you get 5GB per month on the 3G fallback network.

Anywhere I travel inside the US, I'm using my home network, and isolated from public networks.

1 point by mukyu 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I ssh to one of my servers with -D to make a tunnel available via SOCKS5. I could have ssh make a tun device instead, but I'm normally only using git, ssh, tsock'd irssi, or a web browser through SOCKS.
2 points by chip 22 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who don't want to setup their own vpn, you can try hotspotshield. It's free but they display a ad frame as you browse.

I setup vpn on my dd-wrt router.

1 point by poink 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I used a FreeBSD box to setup Racoon and friends and wound up with a pretty decent setup that used certificates for logging in and was compatible with the built in OS X VPN support (L2TP + IPSec). The resulting solution is painless enough to deal with that I use it whenever I'm on wifi, even at home.

You pay the price with a pretty complicated setup (assuming you're not already an IPSec guru, which I certainly am not), though.

3 points by grotos 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I own iPod Touch and I often check my email at university (through both Safari and Mail.app). Is there any good solution for iOS devices?
1 point by lhnn 23 hours ago 0 replies      
As a side note: Facebook has SSL access, but Facebook Chat doesn't work with it.

I use HTTPS Everywhere, and for any sites that don't use SSL (cough SLASHDOT cough) I just use non-standard passwords and take the risk, and be aware that what I say over unencrypted IM might be intercepted (though it's unlikely).

1 point by m0shen 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I run a http://www.pfsense.com/ firewall w/ VPN server and proxy enabled at home. My portable system is setup to deny everything that doesn't hit the proxy.

Very similar to ax0ns setup.

1 point by shin_lao 22 hours ago 0 replies      
VPN to our OpenBSD box.
1 point by jmreid 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been trying out sshutttle <http://github.com/apenwarr/sshuttle>. It only tunnels TCP traffic, so you still have DNS and UDP traffic on the local network.
1 point by petdog 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Other than ssh tunneling, I tried http://vyprvpn.com when it was offered together with giganews, and it was pretty fast, if a bit costly.
1 point by lacerus 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I use and recommend ipredator.se, the piratebay VPN, for 5 EUR per month.
1 point by sundar22in 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Runnig a proxy from home which uses HTTPS might help.
Ask HN: How to parse emails like TripIt?
7 points by paulsingh 14 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1 point by Travis 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Most likely they wrote their own parsing library. I'm not aware of any out there, but it's pretty trivial to write code that will login to an IMAP system and parse messages.
1 point by ashleyreddy 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote one for my startup paperhater.com
Just using regexp.
Ask HN: Best Pretty Web Font Solutions?
14 points by biznickman 18 hours ago   6 comments top 2
8 points by tdupree 16 hours ago 4 replies      
You don't have to use a service like Typekit to use a pretty webfont. The advantage Typekit has is that it gives you access to a lot of font choices to use (which you wouldn't otherwise have access to) and hosts/serves up the fonts for you.

Sites not using Typekit are most likely just using their own @font-face solution and hosting the fonts on their own server (which can also be a faster solution than loading in 3rd party font solutions).

Never use fonts and just hope a user might have it. It's not too hard to roll your own solution for serving up pretty fonts using @font-face. You will need to read up on it to learn the ins and outs, and what sort of goofy idiosyncrasies exits that you need to deal with.

I would recommend using the @font-face generator from fontsquirrel.com (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fontface/generator). This helps you take a font you want to use and prepare it for the web, creating all the different font file types, as well as creating the css you need to use to embed the font for use.

When you use the font, be sure to use it as part of a font-family, so that you can plan what fonts to use as a fallback in case your @font-face declarations don't work out.

Understand that your font will be rendered differently between various browsers and operating systems. Sometimes using a css declaration like text-shadow (text-shadow: #FFF 0px 0px 1px;), and matching the text-shadow color to the background color the text is on, can help smooth out jaggies on the rendered font (works well for webkit browsers), YMMV. Definitely check out how your font looks in all the major browsers, as well as different OS platforms. For instance, I have found Windows XP to render some @font-face fonts much worse than say Windows 7.

Just know that things aren't quite perfect yet with @font-face, so think long and hard about using it in a production environment, and really test all platforms, browsers, etc to see how it looks. Understand how your choice to use a custom font might hurt readability for large blocks of small-sized text (like a blog post) because of rendering issues. Also, Remember to use custom fonts responsibly, you really shouldn't need more than 1 (2 max) custom fonts on a page. Some people get a little carried away.

Some free fonts you can use online. NOTE: Always check the font license to see if you are allowed to use it on your site. If you plan to make a profit on your site, always check to see if the font can be used commercially!:



Recommended reading (these should help you get in the head space of what you need to do, and what the @font-face landscape looks like right now):





1 point by tdupree 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure why your comment got killed, but you're welcome! I had been looking into using @font-face for a while but didn't get the chance until just recently. It's kind of a moving target right now so I'm happy to pass on what I have picked up in trying it out. I'm using Museo Sans (http://www.josbuivenga.demon.nl/museosans.html) right now for a site and its going pretty well. That font seems to render decently across various browsers/OS.
Ask HN: How much did it cost to setup the legal foundations for your startup?
21 points by yoseph 23 hours ago   8 comments top 8
1 point by Gibbon 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no affiliation with this site, or any experience with their services, but Pinsky Law in Toronto is offering several promotions for startups right now: http://www.pinskylaw.ca/News/startup_legal_package.htm there are several more promotions for trademarks, IP etc.

Also take a look through their site, lots of information there for you.

2 points by erohead 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Waterloo, Ontario startup chiming in.

Incorporated for $200(ish) online with Industry Canada. Very simple process. To do our term sheet/NDA/employment agreements we turned to James Smith from Labarge Weinstein (Ottawa). Excellent startup lawyer who travels all over Canada. No upfront costs for the minor paperwork, he's into building longterm relationships.

1 point by rachnaspace 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Incorporation in US would cost between $200 - $400.

The other stuff you mentioned come under Formation Services package (fixed fee) offered by most startup law firms - the fee for this generally ranges between $3K - $5K. And you can negotiate to defer this fee with most of the law firms, until one of these triggers occur - funding, or revenue, or exit.

3 points by emreas 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Our total costs for all the initial docs from Silicon Valley lawyers were $2,000. I have seen costs range from $2,000 up to $15,000 (the higher range was usually because fees were deferred until fundraising or more IP was involved).
2 points by simonk 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Vancouver here.

$15,000 - incorporation, shareholders agreement, minor angel investment, and employment agreements.

3 points by phlux 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Orrick offers startups a package that costs nothing until they raise 500K+ in funding, and then they take their fee.
1 point by babeKnuth 16 hours ago 0 replies      
anyone know of the main differences between setting up in the usa vs canada? is it better to set up in one or the other (if you're coming from the canadian side)?

anyone set up shop in both?

1 point by arpan888 14 hours ago 0 replies      
ours was about 2K. although, they overbilled us at nearly 3K so make sure you get estimates in writing.
Ask HN: Help, Investor wants money back in 7 days "Or else"
71 points by anon0264 1 day ago   72 comments top 26
133 points by pg 1 day ago 3 replies      
Things seem past repair. Get a good lawyer, and do what they advise.

You probably don't need to worry about the guy starting a competing company. If he does it will fail.

21 points by ankeshk 1 day ago 2 replies      
Time to become a bit Machiavellian - even if its not in your DNA. What are this persons weak points?

1. Hire a good lawyer and get good advice. The best defense is a good offense and all that.

Make sure he has no ability to use company funds. Cancel his company debit / credit card if he received one as a director of sales. Send an official letter by registered post letting him know that he does not have the ability to authorize expenses above $100 or so.

Then follow your lawyer's advice on firing him from the sales position.

Make sure your lawyer communicates the non-compete part with him properly - so that he realizes that if he leaves now, he won't be able to profit from the idea at all - and its better to stay with you and earn 22% of the pie than go for 100% and get a big fight on his hands that he will most likely lose.

2. > The person had a large rolodex in a segment of our market.

This tells us that the person's reputation can be adversely affected. Threat of bad press could maybe get him in line.

Also, it would be a good idea to find at least one or two common connections and try making them mediators.

3. This is the stick. You need to offer him a carrot too.

Make him an offer: he does not work with you. He retains his shares and plays a role as an investor. He gives up the board seat - and remains a silent investor. He gives you a connection / letter of referral for all the contacts he is sitting on - for a flat fee. No vesting of shares.

Position this "getting a fee for writing a letter of introduction to his connections" - as the carrot. A lot depends on how you phrase it.

4. Start contacting other investors who could maybe buy this person's share out. I doubt if you can find and close someone in 7 days, but the sooner you start looking, the better.

28 points by cperciva 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anytime we push back on these issues they again threaten to suit

Sometimes threats are just threats. When I was starting Tarsnap, I spoke to an "angel" investor who, when it became clear that we wouldn't reach a deal, threatened to sue me to recover his "expenses" associated with considering an investment. A few months ago I got an email from an "inventor" threatening to sue me for infringing on his patent application.

In both cases, I responded that I thought they'd be laughed out of court; and I haven't heard from either since.

32 points by drats 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am sorry, but this is so convoluted and there is so much money is at stake that if you haven't hired a lawyer by now you are certifiably insane. A couple of things are for sure, you and your business partners were a) not equipped to detect/vet a loony b) were not able to handle them c) did an ask HN in a situation that obviously calls for a lawyer. I am sorry but you are seriously lacking business skills. After this is finished you need to either learn from your mistakes or better yet put out for, and vet very very carefully from multiple references and past performance, a serious business oriented partner because this rambling post with tens of thousands of dollars at stake just screams clueless.
21 points by dotBen 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is one of those "Ask HN's" where the ONLY helpful + useful answer is: "get a lawyer" and nothing more.

HN'ers all mean well, but few-to-none of us are lawyers. I've seen examples where many well-meaning geeks (I'm one too) have up-voted an answer to a legal question that is actually incorrect or not the best course of action.

Always take legal advice from a lawyer over the advice of 100 geeks. If the amount of money we're talking about here is $400k then you must have had a lawyer involved to do the deal so go back to them seeing as they are familiar (and should have put provisions in for this kind of outcome).

14 points by mattmaroon 1 day ago 1 reply      
I cringe every time I see something like this posted here. I know you're probably freaking out (I would be in your spot) and desperate, but asking an internet community what to do in a situation like this is like asking a guy on Chatroullette "I have a stabbing pain in my chest, what should I do?"

Do yourself a favor and ignore every piece of advice that isn't "talk to a good lawyer". Except the piece of advice that says you should ignore every piece of advice and talk to a lawyer. Or that second one.

Now my head hurts. What should I do?

6 points by metamemetics 1 day ago 1 reply      
Casually start giving "guy" the impression you have been always been talking to lawyers since the beginning even if you haven't. You need to start methodically slipping in mysterious phrases like "me and original cofounder Y's attornies", even if you are talking about how everything will work out without lawyers, you have to convey to him that you've secretly been talking to lawyers about him since the beginning and are actually a few steps ahead of him in a secret master plan in which he is the loser. He is gaming you.

Also, humor is life's great defuser. If you can figure out how to make him laugh at least a couple times in the next few weeks, it will be a surprisingly huge aid.

[ Even though this is at the unavoidably SERIOUS BUSINESS aka lawyer point, you need to get meta, make light of the situation, don't jump through the hoops he creates for you. His train of thought is carrying you and your business and it's headed to bye-bye camp. DERAIL this train in anyway possible, even if it involves providing framed motivational posters of LOLcats for his new office. Also, consider getting him drunk at some point if possible. ]

3 points by anigbrowl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who provided the agreements this person signed, and structured the company for you? You have been in existence 3 years, you say, and going by the numbers you mention the company is capitalized to the tune of about $2 million. I find it hard to believe you don't already have an attorney, and that said attorney would not have given you a professional referral if some unforeseen circumstance made it impossible to advise you. Or that you have run the company for this long, and had serious problems over the last 2 months, without being aware that this is the sort of stuff lawyers do for a living.

It can't be a cash question, you could get an hour of excellent legal advice for $1000 even in a big city.

Also (and this applies to all legal 411 queries on HN), where is the firm incorporated/located? Rules vary across different US states, and there are lots of HN folk who are not in the USA at all. I'm only guessing you're American when I mention 4 numbers, for all I know you could be in Uzbekistan. Even if I was a lawyer, how would I know which rules govern your case, or whether I was close enough to offer assistance?

And why don't you have a throwaway email address in case someone can give you an exact answer or refer you to a report of an identical case? Depending on the nature of your business, it might even be appropriate to involve the police based on the story you tell.

the "right" thing to do is to suit them, but that is not our DNA, and would jeopardize the company we have now

I'm having trouble taking this seriously.

8 points by Br1c3 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stop contact.

Like others have said you need to get a lawyer pronto.

Direct all communication through you new lawyer, or with your lawyer present.

Some things to discuss with your lawyer:

1.Nature of the investment?

2.What terms did you and the investor agree to in writing?

3.Termination of employment, don’t just fire him w/o talking
with your lawyer.

4.His unauthorized hires, purchases.

2 points by dinkumthinkum 1 day ago 0 replies      
Talk to a lawyer immediately. Now, this doesn't mean you need to go out and hire the most expensive firm you can find; be reasonable and talk to a few different firms and really utilize any free initial consultations. Stop communicating with this person about anything legal until you have gotten counsel. I mean, if this person brings up legal matters, just tell them you can't talk about it. Don't offer any more deals. Definitely, do not do anything at all to make it seem as if you admit wrongdoing. Again, talk to some lawyers and do not have any more conversations with the person about possible resolutions, deals, etc without getting consultation. Don't let the other party know anything about what you are planning. Perhaps you can file some sort of suit, at least file a complaint that may make the person give up and go away, which is what I think you really want. He can't force you to come up with 400K in 7 days. He'd have to file a complaint, you would need to get served, and then you'd have time to respond. From that point, you can file all kinds of things. Don't be scared or emotional, get off HN and get to the calling law firms. Cheer up, people like this usually lose. :)
4 points by martinkallstrom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Get the most reputable lawyer you can find and afford (firm with known name) and force the other part into structured negotiations. Don't go to Hacker News for advice. Advice is worth nothing, proper procedure is everything. At this point you can easily make a mistake and become accountable.
1 point by wisty 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I also feel like the 30K spent on their salaries should be deducted from the buyback."


They have no right to ask for their investement back. They have offered to sell you all their shares for 400k within a week. You have made a counter offer, which they rejected.

You can give them a lower offer (370k, by the end of the year), but they can refuse.

Realistically, you might have to offer a bit more, as their investement has grown.

You can hit them with a suit if you want - they acted with apparent, but not actual authority. From wikipedia: "If the agent has acted without actual authority, but the principal is nevertheless bound because the agent had apparent authority, the agent is liable to indemnify the principal for any resulting loss or damage."

So you can ask them to pay you damages for anything they did without the right approval. You'll need a lawyer to do this.

You might want to ask them what charges they are thinking about making. There might be some minority investor rights they can sue over? But I'd ask a lawyer before doing this - I suspect this could force their hand, which you might not want to do.

Whatever the case, you want to buy them out, and make sure all the documentation for this is in good order.

1 point by Scott_MacGregor 14 hours ago 0 replies      
You might want to talk to your company attorney about the possibility of the company buying back his shares by executing a note for the balance, rather than all cash. Maybe talk about the possibility of having the note come due upon some particular event, such as replacing the investor with another investor of equal or greater value. If the investor is hesitant to go for that option, you could talk to your attorney about the possibility of having the company make payments towards the note balance on some other future event as laid out on a timetable.

If you look in the Attorney engagement letter it probably has language about their duty is to represent the interests of the company only, and not the founders, shareholders, officers or other individuals or entities associated with the Company.

It seems like he wants to willingly pull out as employee and investor/board member, as long as he gets his investment back. So working out a solution for the payment for the shares (with the help of the company Attorney) might get the ball rolling on a solution for you guys.

Good luck with this.

5 points by malandrew 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone maintain a blacklist of "nightmare" people to do startup business with?

Seems like this guy is a surefire candidate to be included in such a list.

1 point by iuguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having been in a similar situation in the past, albeit without the stock all I can say is lawyer up. Nobody on HN is going to be in a position to give you valid advice. You need to see a real lawyer, not Internet bush-lawyers.

It does look to me like you need to determine what your objectives are for the situation. From my point of view, if you can stomach it, kicking them out of the board is a top priority. I wouldn't worry too much about the shares as long as you can live with them being a silent (albeit voting) investor. If you're going to buy them out, make sure it's on your terms and doesn't put too much strain on the company.

2 points by stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
As others have advised, I would contact a good lawyer asap. And then consider deleting this post if that's possible. Your adversary may find it and use what you've said here against you. If not the details, he may use the fact that you've said it in this forum. Again, a lawyer would be a better advisor on that too.
1 point by bretpiatt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Like most of the others have said, "get a lawyer" though I'd actually get two -- first, an employment lawyer to handle the termination as Director of Sales and -- second, an investment lawyer, to explain your options there. Don't assume one lawyer is going to be able to be great at both.
1 point by dminor 1 day ago 0 replies      
After you get a lawyer, stop stressing out about it. These ordeals may seem like the end of the world the first time you go through them, but they always resolve themselves eventually, and the end result is rarely dire.
1 point by trevelyan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Off-topic, but congratulations on growing a business where you'll be able to pay back such a large amount of money on basically zero notice (and I mean raising over $200k... by the end of the year).
1 point by sp4rki 1 day ago 1 reply      
Food for thought, they signed a Non-Compete and NDA agreement. They can't directly compete with you and if they do you better sue them like your life depends on it. Also, as it was said by another poster, you are agreeing that you did something wrong, not legally I presume, but it certainly makes you look bad.

In any case. Get A Laywer

1 point by csomar 1 day ago 0 replies      
His only way is to get a lawyer, however, I find this post helpful. This can show new comers the problems that they can face with investors and therefore take caution.
1 point by drallison 1 day ago 0 replies      
Get a good lawyer from a major firm; you'll need a depth of skills not available in a small firm. Collect all relevant paperwork. Document everything. Write memos to "the file", keep notes. Don't delay.
1 point by redwoods 1 day ago 0 replies      
1. Keep the investment, assuming the shareholders agreement provides for this. Do not jeopardise your cash position for the emotional convenience.
2. Instruct a lawyer to commence filing suit for breach of employment contract. This usually sobers up aggressive types.
3. Tenaciously and repeatedly communicate this persons breaches to them whenever they accuse you. Do not admit wrongdoing.
1 point by goatforce5 1 day ago 0 replies      
Doing the right thing isn't in your DNA?
0 points by eof 1 day ago 1 reply      
OP, Get a lawyer and sue for damages.
-1 point by gasull 1 day ago 4 replies      
IANAL, but AFAIK returning money means, legally, that you agree that you did something wrong, therefore if you return the money the investor might be able to sue you with further litigation.
If David Heinemeier Hansson Was a Tech Recruiter...
8 points by danielhodgins 19 hours ago   5 comments top 4
1 point by scottyallen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Treat potential candidates like people, rather than interchangeable pegs that you try and fit in whatever square hole you're trying to fill at the moment.

This means:

- Spend time to build real connections and relationships with the people you're trying to recruit. Find out what the look for in a job, and if you none of your clients fit the bill, say so point blank, but that you'll get back to them when you find one that does.

- Build a tribe (in the Seth Godin sense of the word). Build a group of people that look to you about finding jobs and hiring. Organize events that get lots of smart technical people together, that isn't just a recruiting event. Think about the 37 signals blog and the conferences they've organized. Think Super Happy Dev House.

- Don't cold call. Speaking personally, I'm much more likely to talk to you if you email me. Aggressive phone calls are a major turn off. If you must call, don't call before 10am in my time zone.

- Being open about the companies and positions you're trying to fill. No caginess about what the company is, and being open about any potential downsides you know of.

- Don't recruit for companies you don't believe in.

- Know what you're talking about technically. This means not recruiting people for positions that don't match the experience they list on their resume. It means not recruiting them for positions they're highly unlikely to be interested in, based on past positions.

In general, recruit people like you would want to be recruited. In the short term, this will likely be less effective than more traditional approaches. In the long run, as you start building a network and reputation for integrity, I bet it's significantly more effective.

1 point by albahk 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been on the receiving end of these machine gun emails from recruiters and I've noticed something that is so obvious it may be redundant to say it here.

The recruiters receive details of a job-opening from a company (hey, we're hiring), calculate how much the fee will be to them (OMG $20k!!) and then proceeds to cast a wide net by spamming twitter, email, cold-calling, linkedin etc to get as many CV's as possible then cut the list down and try to get them into interviews. Its driven by the payoff because if a recruiter does their job amazingly well, then they place you in a good job and you never need them again... companies on the other hand are always reruiting so better to help the company.

...the problem is all those people who sent in their CV and didn't make the first cut are naively under the assumption that you are proactively searching for an opportunity that can help nurture their dreams/desires and provide room to grow in a new role etc etc. Rubbish.

I don't know the answer, but thats my take on the situation - based on experience of going through the system a few times with different recruiters.

2 points by iamdave 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Note: this comment contains implicit perspective

While 37s makes wonderful products, this post reminds me that time and time again DHH has a habit I dislike: thinking his opinion is the hole in which every puzzle piece can fit. There are times where his team brings out some outstanding, accurate and worthy information, this is not one of them.

What would a 37s recruiting agency look like? I couldn't tell you-but I can tell you, from the perspective of someone who actively executes virtual recruiting services for startups across the landscape, it wouldn't be a very good one.


He exhibits the very ignorance he's railing against in this blog post: assuming all recruiters are as clueless as this one for sending a shotgun blasted email to any candidate that stands a remote chance of replying, by sending a shotgun blast signal to the industry that he clearly does not understand by saying they're all the same.

1 point by wdewind 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's pretty obvious what to do. If you operate your business with respect for the industry and take it seriously you will be good. Otherwise you will not. It's kind of that simple. Recruiting isn't really a tough job on its own, kinda just the amount of effort you bring to the table.
Ask HN: is it better to let investors find you?
9 points by startupdream 19 hours ago   4 comments top 2
2 points by curt 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you mean just sitting on your ass, no.

On the other hand if you meant going to parties and events where you actively talk to potential investors or using PR and marketing to build buzz about your company. Then not engaging in a hard sell and instead letting them say they are interested, yes.

0 points by Br1c3 15 hours ago 1 reply      
No, and here's why.

It's not going to happen. Your not going to get investors coming to you. It just doesn't work that way. One of the first things an investor is going to ask you is who else are you working with, talking to or looking to take investments from? If your answer is no one, you came to us. That's a HUGE red flag, especially with the barrier to investors evaporating before our very eyes. RE:(incubators, anglelist, etc)

The only way investors will come to you is if you:

1. Have had a successful exit at another startup you've founded. In which case you probably have a decent group of investors you worked with before so not going to back to them would be counter productive.

2. Your traction/PR is HUGE. (In which case, you should be focusing on becoming profitable. Why take investment if you've already achieved EPIC traction?) I'd also argue it's unlikely you got to this point w/o some kind of outside investment. If you did then you don't need investors.

Ask HN: Any desperate things you did just to keep your startup alive?
65 points by twidlit 2 days ago   45 comments top 17
18 points by zbruhnke 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I started my first software related company at 21 (almost 3 years ago) I had already had some small successes in other businesses, and had a fairly strong customer base to start because of contacts I had made. So I went out hired employees bought copy machines, set up an office etc. But after the 6th pay period (3 months in) I paid all my employees and I had $3.62 left in the company bank account with several unpaid invoices from clients who I did not know very well, since we were working mainly for law firms and they are famous for not paying in a timely manner I did not know what to do.

I went and took an evening job at "geek squad" for $13 hour and started selling cars at a friends car lot on the weekends in a city about 50 miles away so none of my employees would know we were struggling. Often times over those next few months I was paying my employees from money I had earned working those two jobs which none of my employees even knew I had.

I eventually started researching effective ways to collect past due bills and I was harsh and even lost a few customers in my collection tactics, but ultimately learned a great deal about the types of customers I did and did not want which allowed me to realize that having tons of business was not necessarily as good as simply having a smaller, loyal customer base who pays their bills and respects your work.

I can recall one conversation where I was speaking to an attorney's secretary and she told me that after talking to "John" Aka the attorney in question, he simply did not have the money to pay the bill, but he "would get it paid as soon as possible" to which I quickly popped off "Well why don't you tell John that if he doesn't have the money he needs to stop parking his Aston Martin in front of my office."

luckily for me, my young hot headedness paid off and I received a hand delivered check the very next day.

While I struggled for some time to come and eventually spent my entire savings paying my employees salaries the business did eventually succeed and go on to be very sustainable.

When selling the company to a large firm out of Charlotte, NC I was even able to negotiate terms allowing all my employees to keep their same grade of pay for at least 2 years after the sale (they were all on salary and paid above market rate) While I worked harder in those 19 moths than I ever had in my life it was the most fulfilling time that I have ever been through and it shaped the me into the person I am today.

7 points by jamiequint 1 day ago 0 replies      
We arbitraged Facebook application development when the platform was brand new. I had developed some applications in the first few weeks platform was out, and had done some early work on the predecessor to rFacebook. I used these examples and some well placed adwords ads to drive customers to us. The phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting apps, many calling just to waste our time, but a fair number of solid leads. We hired competent subcontractors to do the development and most of the product management (so we could spend time coding for our startup). This turned out to be a mistake as our subcontractors tried to steal a client from us behind our backs. This of course was against both our contract with the client and our subcontractors.

However, our client was a hedge fund manager with an in house attorney who kept trying to convince me that because of my age (I was 21 at the time) I had no idea what I was doing and was being unethical for subcontracting work. He refused to pay and threatened to have his in house attorney waste enough of our lawyers time to make it unfeasible for us to pursue litigation (we didn't have a lawyers fees clause in our contract in case of disputes). After a lot of back and forth, he ended up settling for 50% of the contract amount ($12.5k IIRC) and we didn't pay anything to our subcontractors as a result of their breach of contract. The $12.5k plus some other purely advisory (non-development) work we did paid for us to stop arbitraging consulting (which was great since we didn't have any subcontractors anymore since we fired them) and to live on for the rest of the summer and work on our startup.

We raised money from YC right before that money ran out.

17 points by bl4k 1 day ago 1 reply      

(If you are not familiar with the story, in a last-ditched effort to save his car company, De Lorean attempted to traffic a large amount of cocaine. Turned out the seller was a federal agent. That is dedication)

23 points by cal5k 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, took the last $5000 in the company's bank account to Vegas so they could afford to make the ~$30k fuel payment they needed to stay in business. Turned out pretty well for him ;-)
16 points by LoonyPandora 1 day ago 0 replies      
I went on the "super noodle diet" - Which consisted of eating 2 packets of instant noodles per day, seasoned with lots of pepper to make it seem more filling. As a treat on a Sunday I had a 99p pizza too! I paid for this with the contents of my penny jar. When that had run out, I survived for another week on cornflakes with golden syrup instead of milk, which were the only things I had in my cupboard.

I lost ~30lbs in the 2 months I was doing this. In the end the startup failed, I swallowed my pride and got my old job back, the one I'd left a year previous to work full time on my startup.

5 points by Udo 1 day ago 0 replies      
That was about ten years ago. For a while there, we did pretty good: hovering stable at around 10 employees, mostly custom web projects for advertising agencies. One day we took on a very nice-sounding project for a local manufacturing company. One company-year flowed into the project, we did almost nothing else. At the end, the project was canceled and they wanted their money back because they were on the brink of bankruptcy (a move that despite our contract was OK'ed by German courts).

It all went downhill from there, but I still hung on for a few months. Didn't want to fire anyone. I took out crazy loans to keep this lead balloon afloat, but there was really no turning around. And it pretty much ruined my life.

It's a cautionary tale, really. I should have allowed this company to fail at a time when I still could have walked away without some serious damage. The company was done. It had no product, burned-out employees and no prospects. I wouldn't make that mistake again today. The lesson here being that desperation is never a good sign. When you're doing a startup, what you want is hunger and euphoria. Not desperation.

3 points by old-gregg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ha, we didn't consider selling cereal since we're not good at it. :-) So, when we needed money we decided to stick to what we knew best and started another service-oriented, and therefore instantly profitable, startup: http://buildasandcastle.com
10 points by benologist 1 day ago 2 replies      
I live in a little house in one of the poorest countries in the Americas, making Flash games every now and then to fund me and my startup.

If I was back home (AU) then I couldn't have come anywhere near as far as I have - my cost of living here is like $500/month. I'm able to devote a tremendous amount of time to my startup.

8 points by ceredona 1 day ago 2 replies      
I went on a few 24 hour online poker binges to pay the rent. I won a lot, but had to borrow money from my parents because it took over a week to cash-out.

Also drove to Foxwoods to play poker once with my co-founder when we were particularly desperate. We only had enough money for one buy-in ($300). Figured that if I was asking my parents for money again, asking for an extra $300 was worth the risk, if I had a chance to win and not ask for anything.

Bill also took random jobs on Craigslist (helping people set up pod-casts, writing papers for wealthy foreign students, etc.)

I taught the LSAT and did "law school admission consulting" which basically translated to helping people write personal statements.

2 points by lrm242 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the early days of my first company my co-founder ran into visa issues. He was a British national and post-September 11 his H1B was coming due. At the time the company couldn't sponsor him due to prevailing wage issues so he had to leave the country. Within the span of 2 months I moved from Austin, TX to Sydney, Australia with my co-founder and his family. When I arrived I had no where to live, nothing (living w/ my co-founder was not really possible, mostly because he had four kids and adding a fifth would have driven everyone insane). I initially setup in a hotel and eventually found an apartment. We did it so we could continue to press forward knowing that such a large separation of distance would effectively kill the company. My girlfriend (now wife) stayed behind in Texas. I lived in Sydney on a tourist visa, leaving every 3 months and re-entering. I lived off my credit card and whatever hardware I could sell on eBay. This lasted for about 9 months. After we had made enough progress I came back and about 6 months later we had our first round of venture financing. When we got the check I had about $500 in my bank account.

Only now can I really look back at that time and appreciate what a huge opportunity it was. Most people only have one shot in life to take infinite risk. Eventually life kicks in and you have to start making more measured decisions. However, even with the huge amount of risk I took back then it almost certainly would not have been possible had it not been for my very supportive family and girlfriend. I knew that no matter what happened I could always go home and tell them I gave it my best shot and life would go on.

3 points by edanm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Haven't done it myself, but I'm guessing most startups can and do take on consulting/outsourcing gigs for side money.
2 points by nailer 1 day ago 1 reply      
Someone who is a member of a lesser known six person startup (the other five of which Im sure are lovely people) took some front end development work from me, then dissappeared off the face of the earth - no Skype, no email, no phone calls - before the product could be completed, without warning. The guy is otherwise a nice person, but I get the feeling he was desperate for the cash and did a bad thing.
3 points by techbio 1 day ago 1 reply      
Built a MFA (made-for-adsense) site: http://www.snapspans.com/


3 points by uurayan 1 day ago 1 reply      
The AirBnB cereal boxes is more genius than desperate. I consider desperate things like the Zappos story where Tony literally sold everything he owned to keep the business afloat.
3 points by japherwocky 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hot dogs and peanut butter burritos.
1 point by edge17 1 day ago 0 replies      
if anyone's curious what the post is referring to,


starts @23:00 or so

1 point by kirpekar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I coached tennis for some extra money on the side.
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