hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    20 Dec 2010 Ask
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1
Ask HN: Is there a fun way to learn Java?
5 points by mistrQ 1 hour ago   5 comments top 4
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5 points by apl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Given that the language itself is so very mundane, I'd recommend implementing a fun and challenging project of your own choice -- in Java, of course. Preferably one that won't consist of plugging framework A into framework B.

Language-centric tutorials won't get you far in Java because there's not much to discover. Python or Scheme or Haskell elicit a "Wow!" every now and then. Java is all about libraries, tools and ecosystem. It's a language that very much disappears behind its immediate surroundings -- counteract that by extensively using the language.

So go and grab that Play!-thing, and build something reasonably awesome.

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1 point by nano81 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
One of my first encounter with Java was in writing silly IRC bots with some friends. Easy and fun.

http://www.jibble.org/pircbot.php

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1 point by kachilous 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
codingbat.com offers online programming exercises in java. Since you already know the basics, it would be a good way to reinforce the skills you've learned.
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-1 point by evo_9 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Yeah it's called c#.
2
Ask HN: Why are YC startups so secretive in Job postings?
66 points by middayc 13 hours ago   58 comments top 10
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65 points by spolsky 11 hours ago 2 replies      
It's a pretty bad strategy for hiring great programmers. Given how many cool, interesting, VC-funded startups are hiring, good developers can work literally anywhere they want. A job description that doesn't reveal the company or at least the general domain is likely to just be ignored. When I started my job board, I had a rule that the company name had to be on the posting. When I let one company avoid this rule by posting as a "stealth startup" I got tons of email complaints and the stealth startup got no applicants.
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20 points by swombat 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Announcing YC funding is a media event that can be leveraged, just like a launch.

They want to make use of that event and release that information at the right time, to make the right kind of splash. Chances are only their closest friends know that they have YC funding, because if it leaked to, say, TechCrunch, they would lose the advantage of being able to announce their YC funding at the most advantageous time for them.

The ideas are obviously not stealth ideas if they have 20m uniques in 6 weeks.

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4 points by webwright 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The question you're asking is, "why does it make sense for YC companies to be in stealth mode?" Sometimes it makes sense to be stealthy, and occasionally you need to hire folks when you're in that state. It's certainly a handicap (as spolsky says elsewhere in this thread, what kind of hotshot would want to interview without knowing ANYTHING about a company?).

Good post on benefits of stealth mode here: http://trada.com/blog/2010/03/31/the-stealth-mode-trada%E2%8...

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8 points by kalvin 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Wow, did the Ask HN on "what is the YC W11 social network startup that's hiring called" get deleted? There were at least a dozen comments on it last night, it was high up the front page, and now I can't find it.
5
4 points by retube 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad someone else feels the same way. My angle is: these ads expect people to give up all their personal details, without revealing any of their own. I'm sure they miss out as a result. (One posting sounded almost spammy - "we're the next big social network" etc etc. No-one's gonna respond to that unless they know who you are, can check a website etc).

Edit: or maybe that's the point - if you don't know who the poster is, you're not worthy of applying.

6
10 points by middayc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Just FYI. This tweet triggered my question

"YCombinator companies are so amazing to work for that they can't be bothered to tell you who they are in a job posting."

https://twitter.com/#!/kneath/status/16366870550548480

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4 points by piramida 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Find it interesting, too. 'We need a dedicated person with lots of experience to work full time with uncertain perspectives on a problem that unknown "we" who probably have done nothing before believe has lots of potential. We will probably have money some time in the future too'.

Maybe they are betting on curiosity? :)

8
3 points by Mz 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe I never learned the secret handshake* or something, because I was a homemaker for eons, but I find all job postings pretty opaque. So I don't see what the big deal is (that some specific piece of info is being left out).

* From what I have read, I am not so sure it's "just me". For example, I've read plenty of anecdotes where someone went in to some field with grand visions only to discover that their visions don't remotely match the day-to-day details of their actual work.

9
2 points by jacquesm 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Because it may be that they are vulnerable to others copying concept and/or giving away hints about the direction they plan to take based on the types of positions they're hiring for.

Playing your cards close to your chest usually does not hurt.

10
1 point by wallflower 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's not a big filter but not mentioning specifics filters out some who lack a sense of curiosity and adventure.
3
Ask HN: How do I make myself more valuable in the Bay Area startup scene?
10 points by upstarrt 4 hours ago   5 comments top 2
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4 points by pg 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Depends on the stage of startup. If you want to work at an established startup, you could probably get a job doing marketing. If, as I'm guessing, you want to work an an early stage startup, there are 3 main things those need, in fairly sharply declining order: hacking, sales, and graphic design. So if you don't want to learn to hack, be good at sales and graphic design. (That "and" was not a typo. It's optimal if one person can do both, the way Alexis did for Reddit.)
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1 point by alain94040 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Super easy. Join a bootstrapped startup for free. If you are any good, you'll do a good job and get noticed.

For instance, go to my co-founders meetup and offer to help the projects you find interesting. You'd be amazed: help is always welcome.

After 6 months, you can have a portfolio of startups and prove that you provide value. That's when you get your next great gig.

4
Show HN: Checkin Map, Facebook Places for iPhone et al.
3 points by nickurban 1 hour ago   discuss
5
Ask HN: Heroku or VPS?
12 points by marcamillion 5 hours ago   5 comments top 4
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1 point by iphoneedbot 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Just get a VPS with an outfit like MediaTemple. You can start off with their cheapest and move up as you need.
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3 points by catlike 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I vote that you roll with Heroku until you feel so comfortable with the Passenger/Nginx/Capistrano that you're frustrated with the amount you're spend at Heroku because you feel like you could do it yourself.

Point is you have enough to worry about, don't get a VPS till you HAVE to.

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1 point by bhousel 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Start off with Heroku. It's free to get started with just 1 dyno, and you don't need to worry about VPS administration or installing Passenger/Nginx/Capistrano. Another benefit, since you will be handling user uploads, is that you can use Amazon S3, since Heroku runs on Amazon's platform. (see http://docs.heroku.com/s3)

You can always move parts of your app off Heroku if you start to outgrow it.

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2 points by amorphid 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a bootstrapper myself and not a techie. After trying to set up a VPS myself, the value of Heroku was a no-brainer. Developer time is expensive, so why have a coder be a sys admin, too? Build on Heroku, and it'll be easy-ish to migrate if you need to.
6
Tell HN: Chicago Holiday Meetup (Help Us Schedule)
27 points by tptacek 7 hours ago   30 comments top 15
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7 points by tptacek 7 hours ago 4 replies      
I vote Wednesday the 29th but am open to alternate suggestions.
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4 points by epochwolf 5 hours ago 0 replies      
27th-29th works for me (I'm in Green Bay, WI, but I'd love to drive down)
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3 points by brandnewlow 5 hours ago 0 replies      
29th or 30th works for me. Publican sounds awesome, never been!
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3 points by maukdaddy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
How early in Jan? I vote Jan 3 since most will be done traveling by that point.

Edit:
Is tomorrow (12/20) too early?

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2 points by acabal 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to come but I have a friend visiting that week, and I don't want to leave her to fend for herself that night :(
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3 points by eddylu 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Want to do this as a grubwith.us meal? We've been talking to the Publican and can schedule the meal for the 29th at 4. This way everyone prepays for their meal, shares a bunch of food, family style, and there's no payment drama at the end.

Let me know and we can set it up.

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2 points by hikari17 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm gone the 28th-30th, unfortunately, so I'd vote for anything before or after that (January 3rd would be ideal.)

Either way, though, welcome to Chicago, Patrick!

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2 points by there 5 hours ago 0 replies      
27th, 29th, or sometime this week all work for me
9
1 point by cosgroveb 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't met any of you Chicago HNers before but I would love to. Next week is best for me and I would also vote for the 29th.
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1 point by kingkilr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So long as it's after tomorrow that's good by me.
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4 points by catlike 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I vote for the Publican, 29th/30th
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3 points by harper 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The 30th works for me. would love to meet up.
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1 point by eduardo_f 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm in. Any day before January 3rd works for me.

PS: tptacek, I'm one of those who emailed ;)

14
1 point by anthonycerra 5 hours ago 0 replies      
30th sounds good. It'll be cool to meet other Chicago HNers.
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1 point by rfzabick 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like to meet Chicago HN folks. The evenings of the 27th through the 29th work for me.
7
Product Development vs Consulting
5 points by Kinit 2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
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1 point by pierrefar 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If it were only a trade off between money vs travel, then it's down to whether you want/can travel 100% of the time. Personally, I don't want to be on the road all the time but would love traveling a bit.

But I suspect this is not the only trade-off you need to be thinking about. Which one brings you more career development or puts on the path you want to be on? Which company has people you would enjoy working with more? Which one has a better culture?

Even on the money front, would working for the product dev firm be a short term lost revenue but in 1-2 years you would be earning a lot more?

2
1 point by gexla 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't say from the details you have given me, but if I were to start a business I would much prefer starting one doing product development rather than consulting. Consulting is a hard business model which doesn't scale very well because you can only sell one hour of your time once. When that hour is gone, it's gone forever. One hour of product development time can be sold as many times as the market can bear. Those hours can be sold while you are sleeping. Meanwhile, the travelling consultant is being run ragged.

I know which business model I prefer, but not sure if that translates to which company I would rather work for. Given all the extra time travelling (and lifestyle restrictions / hardships which go with travelling,) it's possible the product development firm actually pays more for your time.

8
Ask HN: learning web programming vs. tablet programming
35 points by the_gws 14 hours ago   24 comments top 20
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22 points by jacquesm 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I would advise you not to go looking for what others think you should do but to start looking at this from a 'problem oriented perspective'.

Find something that you would like to have but that is not currently available and then build that, that in turn will decide for the platform and associated toolchain.

It is much better that way because you can't really make the case for what is 'better' for an aspiring programmer, web programming, tablet programming or any other 'kind' of programming per se. It all depends on what you want to achieve and programming is just a means to an end.

Also, under the hood all 'kinds' of programming are essentially equal (in spite of many religious arguments to the contrary), it's in the end just a way to very specifically tell a computer what you want it to do and in that respect any programming will serve as a way to get better at every other kind of programming.

The more you do it, the better you get, just like with every other skill.

Good luck!

2
9 points by maxklein 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Go for the tablet using ONLY native Objective C. Don't use PhoneGap.

It will be a good learning experience, you will be able to instantly test the code, and there are no two ways about it. Few hacks or tricky stuff. It's a pretty straightforward platform.

Also, you can easily earn money with this, and the money is purely passive. No server administration, etc. You can finish it, put it in the store and run off for the next year.

Also, you learn about memory management and device constraints.

If you want something even more interesting, consider a use-case like using a tablet to control some hardware (like a lightbulb).

3
6 points by ZeroMinx 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the keyword here is "fun". You're "bored to death". You don't want a programming career that will too bore you to death.

If you don't enjoy web development, do something else. The tablet could be one way to go, but there are many many others, I don't want to give any specific advise, as different people are attracted to different things.

Find something you really enjoy (which in itself could take a long time - if you're not sure now, you could dive into one field for a while, see if it's for you. If not, move on).

It might sound odd (and people might disagree) but I say don't focus on what's business wise. Focus on finding something you love doing.

Best of luck!

4
3 points by aaronblohowiak 13 hours ago 0 replies      
First of all, congrats!!! Most programmers never actually release anything on their own. You should be proud.

>> Well, thinking about the interface and implementing the programming logic was actually fun. And it took 10% of the time. The other 90% was spent fighting with browsers' quirkiness and with Google App Engine (if I skipped GAE I would have fought with sys admin so not better I suppose). And that was teeth-cringing.

welcome to programming. programming is the gentle art of staying sane while dealing with the stupid choices of the programmers that have come before you (when you do this long enough, you will start to appreciate the difficulty in making good programming choices.) the deeper your knowledge of a given stack, the less pain you will experience. What's that old saying? "An expert is someone who has made most of the common mistakes in their field."

Some platforms are better than others, targeting one platform is always easier than targeting multiple platforms with the same codebase.

However, iOS programming is far less instantly-rewarding than web programming. It also requires a deeper understanding of the way computers work, because the resource-constrained device does not play well with high-level languages.

I suggest that you learn c, obj-c and cocoa because it will make you a well-rounded programmer. after 6 months, you will then know if you like low-level stuff or web stuff better. if you want to be doing the next thing for 20 more years, it is worth 6 months to determine what fits you best in an empirical way.

Check out http://www.phonegap.com/ you might like it.

p.s. In ui design for the web, put a link to do the thing whenever you talk abotu the thing. for instance, on your home page you say 1. Log in or sign up. you should have those words be the same link as in the upper right. similarly, when you say upload on the left, you could also just have a big upload screen if the user hasnt uploaded any files yet.

5
2 points by zephyrfalcon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Well, thinking about the interface and implementing the programming logic was actually fun. And it took 10% of the time. The other 90% was spent fighting with browsers' quirkiness and with Google App Engine"

Yes, you characterize web development correctly. "The web" is a great idea, but web programming the way is currently is, is an enormous pain in the neck (and I'm putting it mildly). I don't foresee this becoming any better in the near future, because instead of reinventing the browser and the outdated models that come with it, we keep tacking things on to it.

So if your goal is to be "not bored", my advice is to look elsewhere. Well, you may not be bored doing web programming, but you will definitely tear out your hair in frustration, as you already found out. It won't really get any better as you learn more; just more complicated.

(That said, I do have great respect for people who do this for a living. I'm not sure if I would be able to do it for any extended period of time.)

Tablets are a different story, development-wise. It isn't necessarily easier, but it's different, and it's more like "real" programming, rather than figuring out what breaks in which browser and how to fix it, or wasting hours tweaking your CSS. There are drawbacks, however. For starters, your audience is limited. If you want to develop for iOS, you'll have to pay the Apple tax, and go through their approval system if you want your app to show up in the app store. Android imposes fewer restrictions, but it's more in flux, and good tablets that run it are pretty hard to find. All these are things to take into consideration.

Personally I am heading into the direction of tablet programming, although the field isn't very mature yet.

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1 point by grayrest 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Programming for both is hard in different ways. With web programming, you can generally throw together arbitrary designs quickly but once it works, you have the second half of the work ensuring it works everywhere. With device programming, you have an easy path to the platform defaults and a more difficult path to arbitrary designs but (particularly on the iOS devices) once it runs, you're pretty much done.

The hardest part of web programming is getting consistent results out of CSS, particularly since this is generally non-repeatable. The best solution is to use a CSS preprocessor (I recommend sass/compass) and up the abstraction a level so you CAN repeat the solutions.

Javascript is comparatively stable. There are the same number of quirks/variations in the raw browser APIs but the libraries are to the point where they fill in the differences. I don't recommend programming a general use site without a library. Most of the work in building the lib is shimming+testing the differences between browsers, not doing the raw library design+construction.

The trick to client side wizardry is modularization. You need something like Sproutcore, YUI3, Backbone, or Knockout to do modules/KVO otherwise things get out of control as your app size grows. It's a boring trick, but it's the trick. All flashier tricks (and there are hundreds) are easy to copy, you look at the source and pull out the interesting bits.

I'm a devoted frontend developer. Dealing with browser quirks is annoying but I think the web is the healthiest platform available and I like not being a sharecropper.

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4 points by Su-Shee 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Learn both of it. And C is something to know anyways.

Fun in programming is about doing different things, exploring technology and deliver a well-rounded project.

Also, you chose another field which is rather heavy on the GUI side - you will soon realize that ALL GUI done right isn't really something done effortless. It takes much work. Everybody wants to USE good user interface (be it GUI or command line or API-wise) - but few people really like to CREATE them...

And: Web GUI and developing for tablets/touch-based devices are really just two sides of the same medal - what if you need to make a tablet/touch-able Web GUI?

Accept that browsers are strange beasts and get it over with with good frameworks and you'll be fine.

Or choose the middleware or database-side of Web programming - also two good options.

And also learn that "6 months to learn X" literally means nothing in the programming world - there's ALWAYS a "6 months to learn X" ahead of you. Even if you already know a handful of languages very well, have 2 decades of well groomed experience - there's always a subject you know next to nothing about and 6 months isn't really a long period to learn something fundamentally new to you.

Those 6 month will never go away and there is no point you're working yourself up to and then just stop and "be a programmer" :)

8
1 point by EvanMiller 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Learn C, then decide.

1. If you like programming logic puzzles then you will enjoy programming in C. In C, everything is a number, memory address, or byte array. So every "while" loop you write is a new logic puzzle! But seriously, the things that people tend to gripe about (pointers, segfaults, etc.) won't affect you if you are good at logical reasoning and learn your way around a debugger.

2. Learning C will teach you what's going on "under the hood" and make all other programming seem easy. For some reason people like to say the JavaScript or Ruby are great "beginner's languages," but I disagree. I think you should learn to drive stick shift first and then graduate to automatic. Too many people learn automatic and then think stick shift is unnecessary. Then when their friend with a convertible gets drunk at a party, nobody can drive home, and everyone has to sleep on the floor. If you know C, you will be the hero of the party, and if something deep inside the system breaks or there's a seemingly insoluble performance problem, you'll be the guy everyone turns to.

3. I see a number of growth fronts for C programming.

A. Tablet programming. If you're not just writing Babe Alarm Clock apps and want to get the most out of limited hardware, you will want to know C. You might only write 5% of the app in C, but for critical logic paths, it can make the difference between an app that feels like a prototype and one that feels like a magic show.

B. Desktop programming. The Mac App Store will completely change the economics of desktop software development. You'll be able to get a program in people's hands (and money in your bank account) with minimal expenditures on sales or marketing. This opens up a lot of potential for innovation and the creation of new vertical markets that people didn't think existed. Microsoft will probably follow suit with an App Store before long. For desktop programming on Mac or Windows, you will want to know C because:

-- As with tablet programming, sometimes you need to write a critical logic path in C to get the responsiveness that users expect.

-- The number of open-source libraries out there is large and continues to grow. In most cases, knowing C lets you take advantage of them, even if only to write a binding for some other language. In many cases you will be able to write a great program just by slapping a pretty face onto an LGPL library or two.

-- GPU programming (OpenCL, DirectCompute, CUDA) looks to be an area of large potential growth, and as I understand it the APIs look a lot like C. For certain kinds of computations the GPU has 50X the throughput of the CPU. That's like going from a 66 MHz Compaq with a Turbo button to whatever 2GHz workhorse is sitting on your desktop right now. The ramifications for scientific computing are large; many programs designed around a "click and wait" paradigm can be rewritten to be fully interactive. There's a lot of potential for disruptive innovation here.

C. Server programming. The web still has a lot of growing to do, and fast-growing web companies need folks who know C. Most people will tell you that for web programming you just need PHP or whatever, but when the going gets tough, you're going to bust out some C. When I was on the server team at a fast-growing chat company, nominally I just needed to know PHP and Perl, but I found myself needing C in order to: 1. Fix a bug in Memcache that was horking our graphs 2. Fix up the prediction algorithms in RRDtool 3. Write a PHP extension for monitoring CPU time on Windows. I couldn't have done any of those things without knowing C. If you want to be at a company that uses the latest and greatest open-source server technology, at least somebody will need to know C when you run into the programs' problems or limitations.

D. Web programming. This is still several years off, but the Google Native Client is on the horizon:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Native_Client

If it takes off, we're looking at a lot of desktop C/C++ code that will need to be adapted or rewritten to run in web browsers.

4. If you're hoping to be "very well paid" (esp. starting out at age 36) knowing C is a good strategy. First, it sets you apart from the stack of resumes touting Cocoa and jQuery knowledge. Second, knowledge of C is an excellent way to get involved in open-source and have your contributions widely used (and your coding skills validated). As a former boss of mine said, there are basically two paths to the major leagues in software development: first is to go to the right schools and get recruited into the right companies, and the second is to contribute to open-source. The most popular open-source projects are all written in C.

On a personal note, I've had to learn a dozen or so computer languages at various points and I find C to be the most satisfying. It's a difficult language compared to most, but if you know it, like it, and get good at it, you can let other people worry about bullshit like CSS workarounds and concentrate on getting the most out of a computer. Knowing C will seem completely unnecessary as you get started on any idea, but as soon as you start thinking any of these thoughts:

- "I've done everything, but it's still not fast enough"
- "I've done everything, but it still eats too much RAM"
- "If only I could use this library"
- "If only I could use this system call"
- "If only I could fix this bug"

...then if you know C, you will be the hero of your own party.

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2 points by raquo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A big part of the fun of programming IMHO is seeing the results of what you are writing. I try to center my workflow around that " always having my app buildable, working in small increments, changing what feature I work on as soon as it starts to bore me. Being rather new to programming, a lot of common issues can be real problems for me (e.g. xcode build settings). Be sure to standardize your debugging process. What helps me most is starting to write a question on stackoverflow and thinking what people would need ask me (did I check X? What Y returns?).

Regarding your main question, web seems more fun to me (I've done both a bit). You can iterate faster and push updates more often. Surely I hate having to mess with the server, but generally I set it up and need not touch it for another couple months.

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3 points by enoj 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, thanks to software like PhoneGap and Javascript/CSS libraries like jQuery mobile (and many others), writing a "tablet app" is much the same as regular web development.

You can create an app with a native look and feel with pure HTML5/Javascript/CSS, and you can build it as native apps for iPhone and Android, and have it hosted on their app stores with the same codebase.

For platforms that doesn't offer app stores, you can just provide them with an URL to your app so they can use it in a regular browser (also using the same codebase). The development process can also be simplified, since you can do much of the development with a browser, compared to re-compiling for each iteration of development.

There are of course some applications that aren't suitable for being run in a browser, but in many cases you can, and being able to share codebase between all these platforms seems just great.

Arstechnica released their iPad app a month ago, based on HTML5/CSS/Javascript and built with PhoneGap, and they explain very well how and why they did it that way: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/11/introducing-the-ar...

I would definetely learn regular web development, and not lock myself down to a single platform. Especially with these cool tools like Phonegap.

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3 points by newhouseb 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Web programming, specifically taking advantage of all of the APIs HTML5 provides.

All existing tablet devices are very friendly to HTML5 having all being built off of webkit (Android and iOS). So you can kill two birds with one stone and not have to worry about IE compatibility.

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1 point by adriand 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You should start by purchasing a mouth guard, since if Javascript makes your teeth "cringe" then you're going to need it for every other kind of programming you attempt.

What I really mean by that is you're going to need a great deal of patience and perseverance to get good at any kind of programming, and even when you do get good at it, you're still going to end up battling things that have nothing to do with the programming language you choose (like browser compatibility issues, bugs that are other people's fault, bugs that are your fault that take you 7 hours to track down, etc.)

It's easy to enjoy things you are very good at, but to get there, you're also going to have to enjoy not being very good at all.

To answer your original question, if you are seeking to participate in an exciting new field, work on the tablet programming. If you want something where you can accomplish cool things with relatively few headaches, stick with Python but drop GAE and go with "normal" hosting.

13
3 points by petervandijck 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Learn what you are most interested in. If this is gonna be the next 30 years, it really matters little if right now you learn language X or language Y, you'll have to keep learning anyway.
14
2 points by drpancake 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a difficult choice to make because we're at an interesting crossroads in application programming. My gut feeling is that web programming will win in the long-term - there's so much competition between browsers now that the pace of innovation is faster than ever. There's still a long way to go though.

Web programming is great once you surrender to the fact that frameworks are the way to go. At first, yes, it's essentially magic. But once you get experienced and you delve deeper into the framework you can assimilate the (hopefully) insightful design choices made by the developers. If you choose web programming, I would highly recommend the Sencha frameworks: Ext JS 4.0 is out soon and Sencha Touch is looking very promising.

On the other hand: the iOS stack is mature, well thought-out and will teach you good programming practices. It's also where the money is right now - an iPhone/iPad shop I know here in the UK is literally struggling to recruit. I see it as a bubble akin to early web development; a lot of companies jumping on the bandwagon just to have their own 'app'. You've also got to choose whether to learn Android or iOS, which is a whole other discussion!

I'm honestly not sure what to suggest. Personally I'm an experienced web developer learning iOS development and it's been fun so far.

15
1 point by xentronium 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Big share of 'fun' in programming comes from exploration (the other big thing, at least for me, is watching how something cool emerges from vast nothingness of void, even if my creature looks like Frankenstein's monster); be brave and courageous, try everything, have a look and feel of the bleeding edge of technology.

Other than that, avoid MUMPS :)

16
1 point by S_A_P 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I say build what interests you, regardless of the platform. That is the only way to stay focused. Building what you think someone may like probably wont work unless you are more disciplined than I...
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1 point by ams6110 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Cobol programming was actually not teeth-cringing at all. Boring, tedious, even mindless... yes. But you were working in a top-to-bottom stack from one vendor, with pretty much one standard set of patterns to learn and follow.
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1 point by forgottenpaswrd 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It depends of what you want to do.

IMHO it is really stupid trying to do what makes old standard programming shine(c, c++,python{this could be used to program web too}) with web programming, as it it not good idea to use old languages to manage documents and information(in which web programming shine).

You will find people that only have experience with one of those camps that will tell you that you only have to know one of them(when you only have a hammer see every problem as a nail.)

So I recommend you: first understand where you want to go, then learn the best tools for getting there, not the other way around.

19
1 point by radu_floricica 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Learning a bit of system administration and renting a vps is probably better long term.

I'd say tablet to the original question, but Android. In time it will spawn a much bigger ecosystem then Apple can or wants.
Java is much cleaner then it's painted, and in time all the jvm languages will be useful on Android.

20
1 point by shoeless 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I suggest trying to learn platforms and technologies that apply broadly, at least to start out. That typically means standards - HTML(5), CSS, Javascript, etc. If you create something of value, you will want it to run on the broadest set of platforms/devices possible.
9
Ask HN: How do you balance college and a startup?
37 points by charlieyan10 22 hours ago   37 comments top 24
1
9 points by jchonphoenix 21 hours ago 1 reply      
It really depends on the University and major. If you're at a university that requires very little work, then you can get by. But if you're at a famously difficult major at a famously difficult university, you can't.

A lot of the more engineering focused universities (MIT, Caltech, CMU) can easily push their students to 80 hours of work a week without the blink of an eye. It's not unheard of the more difficult classes to take 60 hours a week by itself.

At any rate, good luck. I've been desperately trying to balance a startup myself with school :). However, Christmas break (now) is the real furious coding sprint.

2
2 points by kloncks 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm in the same boat, mate. I'm a Junior majoring in Computer Science and Engineering. Lately, I've been getting more and more frustrated at my complete lack of time that I can devote to doing what I actually care about: starting up TextMate and programming.

I've thought about a few options and to be honest, I still don't know what I plan on doing. But it's cathartic for me to think like this.

The way I see it I have a few options. Note that all require some sort of sacrifice:

1. School requires a lot of time because that's the time that's required to achieve high grades. It's not easy to get an A in a course and that often comes with doing a lot of work and assignments. Yet, it's still possible for you to learn what you actually needed to learn from the course while not doing every little tedious exercise. That frees up time.

Example: Last quarter, I had this really awful EE class. I understood the basics of the course, as evidenced by my midterm/final grades (both were 91%, some 20% above class average), yet I didn't bother to do most of the homework. That was 20% of my grade and I got a C+ rather than an A because of it. That's the sacrifice...but on the flip-side, I got a solid headstart on a personal project that I'm really excited to work on.

Second example: There's a little story out there about Zuckerburg when he was creating Facebook. He allegedly had stopped going to class or focusing on his school-work when Facebook started taking off.

2. Consider doing a major besides EE/CS if you already know how to program. That frees up your time and you could easily get work done on your startup on the side with an English or Economics degree.

3. Admit that you can't focus on a startup and get great grades at the same time. Tough-it-out for a few years and start thinking about startups once you graduate. Do things like have a life and having fun now.

4. Consider starting something with a few co-founders to alleviate some of the required invested time.

5. Think small. Don't think of a huge time-consuming idea. You don't have time for that AND getting good grades.

I'd love to talk more. Email's in my profile if you're interested.

3
1 point by cmer 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I was in your situation about 8 years ago. I probably made all the mistakes one can make and hopefully this will help you. Here's a few tips:

- Eat well and exercise 5 days a week. You'll probably think you're too busy for this, but IT HAS TO COME FIRST. It will help you focus and be more productive for school and the startup.

- Have a social life. Entertainment fuels creativity and productivity.

- Don't work ridiculous hours. That was probably my biggest mistake. I thought I was Superman and that I could work 9-2/3am, 7 days a week. That's about ~125 hours a week (including school of course).

It worked out for a while, but I then became extremely tired. People told me I looked like a zombie. I obviously had no social life and had stopped exercising.

The problem with this lifestyle is that it is counter-productive. It works at first, but then you become so exhausted that the more you work, the less productive you are. And the less productive you get, the more frustrated you become and you feel the need to put in even more hours.

Don't get into this vicious circle. It'll kill you. Trust me on this, been there, done that. I burnt out. Don't let it happen to you because it will take you YEARS to recover.

I think the smart way to do it is to plan your weeks properly. Schedule time off to go to the gym, see friends, etc. Schedule work hours and have at least scheduled 1 day off every two weeks. Stick to your schedule. Don't let yourself work ridiculous hours or slack off. Balance is key. It should pay off in the long run.

4
11 points by sukuriant 21 hours ago 2 replies      
This is going to get down-voted, but with that dual major, why are you trying to run a start-up at the same time?
5
7 points by colinsidoti 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Worry about learning instead of your grades. You can get C's and still gain the knowledge you need for your startup. It will cut down significantly on the amount of hours you need to devote to school.
6
3 points by leif 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't. Do one thing and do it well.

If your startup is racing against another company toward a release date, you're going to lose if you can't focus on it 100%. If not, put the startup on hold until you finish school.

7
2 points by JangoSteve 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Have a good understanding of what you want to accomplish with everything you're doing. Have a point. And realize that to do better in one thing, you'll necessarily do worse in the other. And that's OK.

I started RateMyStudentRental as a junior studying Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. I'll just say that I always knew what score I needed on the upcoming test to maintain my minimum desired grade in the class.

8
1 point by kapauldo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Focus on finishing you degree, then do your startup. Statistically, your startup is highly likely to fail, so don't let it screw up your degree.
9
1 point by rdl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I dropped out. It worked out ok for me. (I would have been more likely to try to stick around if I could have afforded tuition, but in retrospect, I wish I'd dropped out a year or two earlier and moved directly to Silicon Valley to work on startups there).
10
2 points by karanbhangui 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I was in EE, and in short, you can't. At my university, CS people had about 20 hours of classes a week. EE people were pushing 40's. It becomes next to impossible to give the focus required to do anything big. My advice would be to get something going during the breaks, and do maintenance during the rest of the term. Or you can drop out like I did if you're really driven and have options or the ability to create options.

There were people who dabbled in startup ideas, but any of my serious colleagues (i.e. the guy who started Kik) all dropped out/took a year off and never went back.

11
1 point by fuzzmeister 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a sophomore in college working on a startup with two other people (one a junior at my school, one who recently graduated), and our model is to work all day every Saturday. We meet up around 10am and code until 7pm or so. I get all of my school work done during the week and on Sunday, and still have time to go out on Saturday night. It can be tough saying no to activities scheduled for Saturday, but this model is definitely the best for my situation.
12
1 point by Zev 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I managed rather badly[1] -- my grades weren't as high as I'd have liked (not that it matters much, I guess). The light was being three classes away from graduation and being able to finish up college part time, remotely. I can't say that I would recommend doing it to anyone else.

I started the semester off with 5 classes (3 art studio classes, one art non-studio and one CS class). I ended up dropping one studio art class and all but ignoring another for most of the semester.

1. In addition to working and class, there was a period where I was in 6 different cities in 8 different Thursday morning/Friday-to-Sunday night/Monday-morning weekends; Rochester (College), NYC (Home), Chicago (Conference), Washington DC (Stewart/Colbert rally), Providence (looking at a college for grad school) and San Francisco (Work + apartment hunting). This traveling didn't exactly help my focus either.

13
1 point by vaksel 21 hours ago 0 replies      
focus

chances are you go to school for 4-6 hours a day at most. Then you have homework etc for another 3-4 hours(hardly). That still leaves you with 7-8 hours a day to work on your startup.

And once you finish coding, there is really no requirement to work 24/7...sure it helps...but chances are early on you'll do X, then wait a week to see the impact...because you just don't have enough traffic to split test with

14
2 points by _ques 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are a few strategies to get by:

1. Double-count your startup as coursework. Enroll only in project-based classes. Spin off each module in your startup as a project -- e.g. Distributed Systems? Write the EC2 part. Databases? Write the Lucene part.

2. Many EE/CS departments offer bschool classes at the 400/500/700 levels. Use these to get startup advice / stay motivated.

3. Take research credits, have entrepreneurship-friendly faculty guide you through the research parts of your startup.

4. Take a semester off, work on things, come back. You'll miss out on social life, but that's a tradeoff you're making.

5. Concentrate your startup work towards the beginning of the semester, switch to coursework at the end.

6. Be hyper-vigilant about course-performance. Since you're technically constantly slacking off, you will often need to perform disaster recovery; e.g. shoot for extra credit, to make up for a midterm you didnt study for, etc.

15
2 points by dtran 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you have a cofounder? Having another person there to push you and make you feel obligated to put in time even when you're swamped with school assignments is crucial. When one of my cofounders and I were working on our startup during senior year of college, we basically treated it like heavy-workload class - we scheduled set hours to get together and work every day or every other day. I didn't want to disappoint my cofounder, so I found time to work on our startup even when PSets and programming assignments were due the next day.
16
1 point by sammville 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a pharmacy student in a top university in the UK, so the workload is pretty daunting. I take time to focus on my books and run my websites. I use the holiday period to build websites and during school period, read my book and run the websites (not build). This method works really well for me.
17
1 point by kingsidharth 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I took a gap year so I could work on my start-up first. You can't do a start0up part-time. Like you can't have babies and be part time with them.

But with dual majors it's going to be even tough for you. Just wondering that if you had to do a start-up, why did you take dual major? And if you had to take dual major - why a startup?

If I were in your shoes I'd at least drop one of those. One of these subject is enough to keep you on your toes anyways. Let alone doing both and then a start-up too. It's better to feel a little bit bad about dropping something now than face failure at all three fronts.

It's time you prioritize. What can you do and forget that you had to even eat? That's how I know what I am passionate about and I know I won't mind doing it even if no results are coming. And that's the calling you should go toward, IMO.

18
1 point by mcarrano 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I am in the same situation.

I'm a Junior majoring in Computer Science and I have several side projects that I have been trying to finish up. However, school work takes up a majority of my time so I rely mostly on my winter/summer break to get the bulk of my personal projects completed.

You might suggest I code on the weekends but that is not a possibility as a majority of the time I have so much homework that I need to dedicate weekends to completing the assignments.

19
2 points by bengl3rt 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Might want to ask Marc Held of Zazu (http://www.getzazu.com/). He's around... Marc? You there? :)
20
1 point by fezzl 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Get grades good enough to keep you in college. Then eliminate all nonsense: partying, extra-curricular activities, recreational sports, etc. and go all-out on your startup, as if you were studying part-time and running a startup full-time.I'm also a junior running a start-up, and I make it a point to dedicate 32-40 hours a week regardless of exams, vacations, etc.
21
1 point by somedays 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Disregard everything else that is draining your energy. Mind you studies and start-up but keep away from all other college activities except couple of them that help you unwind or give you the support you need. After you do this, you should be just fine really!

Abshir

22
1 point by entrepreneurial 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Its really simple as time management. Do 1 task per day/every other day for your startup (maybe 1-3 hours if you can spare) and at the end of 1 month, check your progress. Rinse and Repeat until launch. Then do the same with marketing.
23
1 point by away 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Focus on what needs to get done.
24
-2 points by lefstathiou 21 hours ago 0 replies      
just do it
10
Ask HN: To fight or not to fight piracy?
15 points by albertogh 8 hours ago   31 comments top 12
1
7 points by gommm 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think you should display a message like Panic did before with Transmit when people entered pirated serials.. Don't reprimand but be polite asking them not to pirate your stuff.. The effect you're looking for is for the pirate to feel a bit guilty...

You can then either limit the functionality to a free lite version of the app, or put a time limit for them to try or just disable the app...

If you plan on putting a time limit, it might make better sense the show that message after maybe 2 or 3 use of the application so that the user has already tested it and likes it.

2
11 points by rick888 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure what your app does, but you could make it more reliant on your servers and require an account.

The app would be a front-end to your service. So even if someone pirated it, it wouldn't matter because they would need an account on your service.

This is how I've started to structure all of my new apps.

It's funny how people still pirate the hell out of $1 or less apps. One of the main excuses from many pirates was that software was "too expensive".

It seems when app developers meet all of the demands of the pirates, they don't stop. They continue with a new set of excuses. This is a clear example as to why you don't negotiate with criminals. They will just bleed you dry.

3
4 points by hsmyers 6 hours ago 1 reply      
In the 80's our company (very small) received a letter from an official/whatever in the German Postal service wondering if he could arrange the purchase of around 5,000 manuals for our software. This came as a enormous surprise in that we had never in fact sold any of our software to any one in Germany! Instead of the predictable reaction of revenge and lawyers, we decided to cut the guy one hell of a deal. We sold him photo ready masters for the manual and a great deal on a site-wide license. There after whenever a new version came out we could count on a tidy chunk of change for the upgrade fee from a source we hadn't even know about. While the situation here is obviously different, the conclusion we came to is what I'd recommend. Calculate the cost of fighting piracy and determine if subtracting that from the cost of improving your product is worth it. We decided that it wasn't We did however pretty much make the same deal open to everyone. Most people like the idea of amnesty particularly if it costs less than the original purchase price!
4
5 points by DanielRibeiro 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This discussion on HN may help you with your decision: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=503959

tl;dr Desktop sw companies are about to discover a variant of Wilde's remark: the only thing worse than being pirated is not being pirated

5
1 point by raquo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you can reliably determine a pirate, maybe you could add some ads to your app conditionally on that. I've heard CTRs are way better in Cydia apps when the developer asks for support (than in App Store).
6
1 point by piramida 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you prorate? I.e. give the pirates the service but on a first-come first served basis, basically allow them to use one server if the capacity allows, if not, display that "free version has limited access". All paid customers are on separate servers, with great service, and your additional costs are minimal.

And pirates can use the app and convert to paid customers once the delays/notifications become a showstopper for them.

7
3 points by mycroftiv 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I believe you should absolutely disable pirated copies, and try to make sure the pirate users know they've been caught. Honesty compels me to mention that my motivation for this is not that I believe it will help your business; it is that I believe the major obstacle to widespread conscious adoption of free, open source software by end users is that piracy of proprietary software is widely tolerated. If proprietary software made more effort to prevent unauthorized copying and use, it would really drive adoption of FOSS.
8
2 points by steveklabnik 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't focus on people who aren't your customers, focus on people who are.
Totally ignore pirates. It's a waste of your time.
9
1 point by entropie 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Dunno what kind of application. But it think you should do it like github & 37signals. Make sure your software is usable for free and add some features for which real customers would pay. Dont work against piracy. Its lots of effort for nothing, because there will always ppl who find a way to crack your software - and, IMHO, thats absolutely okay.

If your app is good enough, it will be pirated, but that means LOTS of ppl get to know about it and, at least, few of them will pay for.

10
1 point by indrora 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Since its an ip(o|a)d app, I'd either a) just not release anymore with a message saying "it was cracked. Goodbye" (Much like some comic artists -> porn of their comic) or b) Tell people who pirate the app to just go pay for the damn thing and bail or c) Just ignore it.
11
1 point by mcarrano 6 hours ago 0 replies      
While I do not know the details of your application such as whether or not ads are displayed.

Is it possible that you display ads to pirated users and no ads to legitimate buyers? I do not have experience with iPhone/iPad development so I am not sure if this is even possible.

12
0 points by zakember 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Try getting paid for ur app using ads instead. Making it free this way for the users would be a win-win situation for all. I don't know if this is possible on iPhone and iPad apps or not, but thats how some jar games on my Nokia phone work, so I'm guessing that should be an option for you too. You could post on your app's website (if u've any) that any interested advertisers can contact you if they wish to advertise using ur app :-)
11
Suggestion for startups - remind us who you are when you email
86 points by FiddlerClamp 1 day ago   14 comments top 10
1
12 points by jambo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Likewise with your company blog. Put a prominent, descriptive link to the main site at the top. It's too common that I have to go to the address bar and remove "blog." to get to the main page. Most people won't do this.
2
4 points by Goladus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very good advice, this should be part of your branding strategy.

And I'd say instead of "XYZ creates and manages..." I'd say a line like this should be a standard link to your login page:

"Create and manage RSS feeds from your facebook streams: [XYZ Login Link]"

3
2 points by geekinthecorner 6 hours ago 0 replies      
And please, just one e-mail. Don't let a rambunctious new marketing type decide "Hey, if we find our inactive users and email them two or three times a week from here on out we'll increase our user base". And make sure your unsubscribe features work.
4
2 points by WillyF 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll add that if you have invite e-mails that people can send to friends, you better explain your startup in the e-mail. I've received invites from legit startups that looked exactly the same as spam invites that I've received.
5
5 points by AdamTReineke 1 day ago 2 replies      
So true. I got an e-mail yesterday with an invite to Crowdbooster. I don't even remember signing up for an invite, let alone what Crowdbooster is, and the e-mail didn't offer any clues at all.
6
1 point by rick_2047 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The first thing we were taught in the business and formal communication class (mandatory for freshmen at my university) is that in the body of an official letter, the first paragraph is essentially a small pitch of your company or product. I found it stupid at first but then in the third lecture I asked the question "But why?" and the professor gave just that reason. Customers and even other business which provide raw materials, tool or purchase your product/service might not remember who you are even if there is a gap of a week in your communication.
7
6 points by david_p 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's the best advice I've read in weeks.
Thank you.
I'm changing this right now for the notification emails of our startup.
8
2 points by ronnix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great advice!

I've always been annoyed by those e-mail invitations to the beta of a service I signed up to many weeks ago, that don't give me any clue to remind me why I cared in the first place...

9
0 points by jaggs 1 day ago 0 replies      
This x 1 million.
10
-1 point by Sukotto 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should also link to any particularly informative HN post about your product.
12
AskHN: Why hasn't open education worked yet?
10 points by wcarss 16 hours ago   9 comments top 8
1
8 points by cperciva 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Education is only half the problem. We also need certification.

Hiring someone who is self-taught has a very high frictional cost -- you need to evaluate what they've taught themselves. I took slightly over 100 hours of final exams as an undergraduate student; what employer wants to spend 100 hours evaluating a potential employee?

2
6 points by dangrossman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Hiring hasn't changed. Without a degree, your resume doesn't get read, so it doesn't matter what knowledge or experience you have. The unemployment rate for those without a college degree is more than 5% higher than the unemployment rate for those with one.
3
3 points by tapiwa 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it is a combination of many things.

a. The curious will always learn. Books have been around for a long time. In the west, the books are cheap/affordable. Still you find many people that cannot be bothered to pick one up and read. Online education material is the same.

b. Most people need structure in their lives. It is very easy to procrastinate with online learning. Very easy. Without a set syllabus, and deadlines, it is far too easy to park the lessons.

That said, I still think online education efforts are if not disruptive, democratising. Individuals who were previously interested in a topic, but could not afford to go to college/private lessons, can now do so.

You still need to get individuals fired up about learning, and learning on their own steam, with no deadlines, and possibly no expectations of certification at the end.

As the old addage says, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

4
1 point by Mz 12 hours ago 0 replies      
IIRC, Andrew Carnegie was largely self-taught at a time when free libraries were basically unheard of. He donated a lot of his wealth to make sure there were free libraries available so that other people (like him) starting from a lower socio-economic class who wanted to get ahead would have the opportunity to be self-taught as well. So perhaps one issue is that "open education" already exists to some degree and is not actually a new thing.

As others here have said, colleges also serve the purpose of certification or accreditation, not just education. If you want a job, a degree is still useful and can be essential for climbing the corporate ladder. There are circumstances under which knowing how to do something has inherent value and where convincing others of your ability is largely irrelevant. Getting a job is not one of those circumstances. Getting a job is all about convincing others you have the know-how and skills, at which point a degree is a short-hand proof of some qualification. That isn't likely to change much.

5
1 point by rick_2047 14 hours ago 0 replies      
In Asian countries (at least) a degree is also a matter of prestige (I also suspect it happens in European countries with their strong culture). When a person has a degree in something useful like engineering, medicine or accounting, they automatically start commanding respect (even if it is not from a good college). While on the other hand, there are a lot of ways to command respect in open and free countries like America. The difference lies in the culture.

Also if you are measuring the success of OCW just by the admissions in colleges then it would be a wrong metric. College is much more than just your studies. Things like networking, employability, easy structure have already been mentioned. One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is Labs. You can easily set up a programming environment, but what about civil engineering, mechanical engineering, bio sciences, economic surveys, medicine, pharmacy? These things require large amounts of money to setup, and cannot be provided in any open way. Furthermore, where will you get willing guides for your research work and such? Refer to my previous comment here,
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1648554

6
2 points by mattgratt 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I found the main benefit of attending a strong undergrad school (Berkeley) was the network you built and the exposure to other quality students. In many ways, more meaningful learning and skill-building occurs outside the lecture hall than within it.
7
1 point by miraj 12 hours ago 0 replies      
i think we will see more experimentation before a few successful models emerge. one of the promising recent initiatives i found is:
Peer 2 Peer University http://www.p2pu.org/

some of their courses are being offered in conjunction with established academic institutions. for example:
http://www.p2pu.org/general/open-journalism-open-web .
even a for-credit course: http://p2pu.org/journalism

i've also posted a separate thread re: P2PU:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2021565

8
1 point by lcargill 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Robin Hanson has about worn this subject out. Education is about social signaling. It became institutionalized when labor began to have surpluses.

For social signaling goods, the cost is the point.

13
Which start-up inspired you most in 2010?
41 points by pennyfiller 1 day ago   50 comments top 30
1
11 points by mmaunder 1 day ago 2 replies      
Groupon. I consulted briefly for them when they were ThePoint.com and I thought their original idea for ThePoint was a really bad one and they were going nowhere. Within a few months they had completely changed their business model and were profitable. Then they became massively profitable and Google wanted to buy them for $4 billion.

What I love about Groupon is that in the world of Google they've proven there is still a huge amount of revenue and profit available online.

They are also showing that revenue still counts for a hell of a lot and that pure growth without profit is not the only strategy and may even be a bad strategy.

I also love that they fly in the face of Google's attitude that software should do everything and the main role of employees is to write software. Groupon is a people company in the sense that people in their business deal directly with their customers (the businesses they market).

Groupon are also targeting a hugely unexplored space which is small to medium local businesses that target local customers. They're doing it with boots on the ground (or at least via a person to person phone call) in each city the launch in. So far "local" has been a cluster of servers in a data center and a group of developers. It feels like Groupon is doing local the way it should be done.

I also love that the Google/Groupon deal didn't work out because I think Google's culture and approach would have killed a wonderful business that we all continue to learn from.

2
4 points by huangm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Foursquare (http://foursquare.com/).

Foursquare's ascension into the mainstream has been incredibly fast & impressive, especially given that on the surface there was little differentiation among all the competing LBS check-in services a year ago.

I think 4SQ is a good case study in the importance of the execution over the idea (a commonly harped on subject in these parts).

4SQ's success also helps to validate NYC as having some distinct advantages for certain types of social media plays.

3
15 points by pchristensen 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's still fresh, but Word Lens blew me and everyone else away this week.
4
7 points by ziadbc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Although its been overexposed in the media, the reality for me is Facebook. Not since Google have we seen a company expand to that magnitude of usage within the wider population.

Facebook was probably the first truly bubble 1.0 company to reach that milestone, and will pave the way for many other companies to do the same.

5
8 points by 3pt14159 1 day ago 1 reply      
Guestlist (guestlistapp.com) partially because I'm privy to some of their internal numbers and partially because they are some of the nicest guys in the whole Toronto tech scene.
6
3 points by rdl 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Wikileaks, since a tiny group of people with limited resources has had such a big impact on politics, media, diplomacy, and war. I don't like or agree with some of what they have done, but they have undeniably changed the world.

Quora, for developing an amazing realtime UI and a great core of startup industry content and community.

Groupon, for breakout mass market commercial success from basically obscurity.

7
7 points by apollo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Groupon, because they found a simple multi-billion dollar business hiding in plain sight.
8
6 points by DevX101 1 day ago 2 replies      
HipMunk. They demonstrated that design & UI really matters.
9
9 points by emilepetrone 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kickstarter - I can post a project, and potentially get thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars...without loosing equity?! Game changer.
10
5 points by thushan 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't know if they are a startup or an offshoot of someone else's already existing technology, but the group behind WorldLens (QuestVisual) have my votes. Yes maybe I'm saying that in light of this week's release being on my mind, but I think they have some wicked cool technology. Shockingly wicked if I say so myself. Hipmunk would be my vote for second.
11
3 points by olalonde 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hunch (http://www.hunch.com) for tackling a very hard problem (recommendations) and being pretty good at it.
12
1 point by kapauldo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
feefighters. Real business model, solves a real problem.
13
6 points by DenisM 1 day ago 1 reply      
My own. Doubled the revenue and will do it again next year.
14
3 points by YuriNiyazov 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Heroku, because their comparatively monstrous exit fully validated the YC model.
15
6 points by bayareaguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dropbox, because it solves a real problem my family has.
16
24 points by jaxtapose 1 day ago 2 replies      
MineCraft
17
2 points by olalonde 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sencha (http://www.sencha.com/) is doing very well and innovating in a cut throat industry.
18
2 points by revorad 1 day ago 0 replies      
When it comes to inspiration, it's hard for me to name any startup other than YCombinator, even in 2010.
19
3 points by yaknow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quora (http://www.quora.com) has assembled a community of brilliant people who inspire me daily. Q&A done right - hope it stays this good!
20
2 points by vaksel 1 day ago 0 replies      
probably groupon, they had huge growth in 2010
21
1 point by ztan 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Y Combinator probably does not count as a startup. But I'd still have to say YC has been the most inspiring company for me in 2010. Seeing PG talk at startup school about why right now is the best time to do a startup had a large impact on me. I'd argue that currently having the YC stamp of approval for a web/tech startup has more value and credibility than any other single incubator/funder out there. And its probably one of the best things that can happen for an early stage tech startup.
22
2 points by dshankar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quora or Groupon.

Quora because it provides an extremely high-quality Q&A community.

Groupon simply because of the crazy growth and insane amount of revenue/profit they generated.

23
2 points by jakerocheleau 1 day ago 0 replies      
The branding behind Foursquare has been amazing (http://foursquare.com/)

Not to mention the power they have with mobile apps on all major OS'

24
1 point by Ras_ 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Rovio Mobile: Angry Birds.

For popularizing phone gaming. Having franchise potential in other platforms and even past games.

25
1 point by intdev 5 hours ago 0 replies      
AirBnB's story was pretty inspiring.
26
1 point by kapauldo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Fee
27
1 point by henry81 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't think of a specific start-up that has inspired me.

What has inspired me is the explosion in the sheer number of high quality apps/gadgets/tools/etc. that are actually innovative.

28
1 point by marksp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whapee (http://whapee.com) as they bring back the old-school account free internet and keep privacy on location based services.
29
1 point by hapholiday 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of course Groupon is amazing and Word Lens is jaw-dropiing but I really am fond of intersect.com because it is such a good idea.
30
1 point by mconnors 22 hours ago 0 replies      
messagehop.com is a pretty awesome idea.
14
Ask HN: The ranking algorithm in 'the social network'
36 points by sdave 1 day ago   10 comments top 3
1
12 points by adammcnamara 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's called the Elo Rating System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elo_rating_system).

From the article, it's used to rank the relative skill of two players. It was created for chess, but I believe underpins most competitive ranking today including Xbox LIVE.

2
3 points by piramida 1 day ago 1 reply      
Also I found interesting that the geek students considered this trivial formula a revelation. Does fall out of the context of the brilliant hacker culture :) When we needed a ranking system several years ago, I came up with this in half an hour, then figured out it already exists, is called Elo, and used everywhere, so we just copied their coefficients.
3
1 point by alphaoverlord 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was an interesting statistics/modelling competition on Kaggle for different approaches to chess ranking.

http://kaggle.com/chess

15
Tell HN: Doing a PhD is good
66 points by Loic 1 day ago   60 comments top 13
1
32 points by kgo 1 day ago 3 replies      
Tell HN: It's your fucking life, do what the fuck makes you happy.

If you find being an undergrad painful and you're bored to tears, and you're only doing it is because your parents and peers tell you you'll end up as a janitor without that piece of paper, and you're literally itching to get into the 'real world', drop the fuck out and work on that startup.

If you're fascinated with Viking Poetry, and it's all you can think about, and people are telling you what a waste of money that Viking Poetry PhD is, tell them to fuck off and get that PhD anyway.

If you wanna be an actor, move to NY or LA, get a job as a waiter, and bust your fucking ass working on your craft. Don't stay at home and get that HR degree from University of Phoenix.

Both this post and the "X isn't worth it in the long run" articles it's responding to make the same mistakes. Assuming everyone has the same path in life. I think ultimately, deep down, all the posters want you to chase YOUR dream. But instead they take their dreams or their choices and find evidence prove to themselves that it's the right choice. And it probably is the right choice for them. It may or may not be the right choice for you.

As long as you're making the choices because that's what you really want, and not out of fear, they're the right choices. So yeah, if the only reason you didn't go to college was because your high-school sweetheart was a year younger, you made the wrong choice.

Why am I a software professional? Not because it pays well, but that sure helps. It's because I used to sit mesmerized in front of a computer typing in code from magazines, amazed that they followed my commands. It's because even before I had a computer to type the code into, I used to read the same code listings in the books, fascinated by them, even though I couldn't even run them. I didn't read the Economist's list of hot-fucking-jobs-for-the-next-ten-years and pick the top item on the list.

2
5 points by _delirium 1 day ago 4 replies      
As an American PhD student currently finishing up and moving to a European faculty job, I was quite surprised at #2. Typical pay for a CS PhD student in the U.S. is somewhere in the $16k-24k range. In Denmark, it's $45k!

(I clearly did things backwards, because the opposite is true of faculty pay.)

3
4 points by jlees 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anecdotally (why my PhD turned out to be a bad idea):

1. I got a supervisor who gave her students a lot of freedom but it worked entirely the wrong way.

2. The UK doesn't pay well.

3. I didn't get any money for conference travel as my PhD stipend was a grant from my college.

4. Yeah, this is the fun one - you're doing a highly research focused degree and finding somewhere that actually has a foot in the real world, in the exact area you want to study and build a startup around, is difficult. But if you can pull it off, I'm sure it could work.

I got a lot of credit for starting a startup around my PhD topic - but I was forced to do so because I simply couldn't continue working on this stuff in academia any more, as it was too applied for my university.

4
11 points by dshankar 1 day ago 1 reply      
"at the end of your PhD, you can have your product nearly ready and you will be able to charge your customers more in thousands of Dollars than in $9 per month."

PhD vs non-PhD does not determine whether you charge $1000/mo or $9/mo. It's what you actually build with your talent.

A PhD building a mobile service is still limited by the economics everybody else faces.

5
1 point by sedachv 1 day ago 1 reply      
The thing about doing a PhD in CS today is that from reading about all the famous people who did PhDs in the US in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, it seems they were much better off. ARPA/DARPA funding was plentiful, industrial research labs were at their peak, commercial firms seem to have been hungry for consulting. I forgot where I read it, but someone was writing about how their PhD advisor wanted his students to spend half their time consulting at commercial firms outside the university.

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of this, maybe it is just the opinion of the successful and/or lucky people who had a good time and wrote about it, I would love for people to confirm or deny this perception. But the contrast with people I know who are/were doing their PhDs today is night and day.

"Starving grad student" is an accurate stereotype. I really can't see myself spending 5 years earning barely $30k a year, busting my ass TAing undergrads, dealing with publishing deadlines and BS from the supervisor and university (you'd be surprised at the amount of people who end up with asshole supervisors!), practically begging for grants. I don't know any PhD candidates who regularly do consulting, or anyone who has a comfortable annual income. And the stress is crazy. I don't know why anyone would do this to themselves.

To add insult to injury, I know I'm making the same or more money than many people my age (or a year or two older, I'm 25) straight out of CS PhD programs.

If I want to hack on interesting R&D projects, I can do that as Free Software in my spare time (which I do). The contrast is I have actual users instead of papers to submit. If I had to write an interesting system for a dissertation, I'm practically guaranteed that no one will use it because everyone knows that software that comes out of academia is shit.

So, what's the point?

6
1 point by citricsquid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't the real answer that it's different for everyone? Doing any sort of degree just because is surely wrong, especially in the way you suggest. Taking funding for a PHD and then working on a startup and moving into that once you're qualified probably isn't what those who are funding it intended on you doing... I guess that's what being a hacker is, playing the system, but it feels morally wrong to me when there are limited funding options etc etc etc
7
1 point by JeanPierre 1 day ago 0 replies      
A warning before you simply look at just how much every single country pays for PhDs: Living in Europe, especially Scandinavia, cost usually a lot more than living in the States. You should take this into account when you decide where to take your PhD.

As a little tips if you're interested in taking a PhD in Norway: They discuss whether to halve the amount of PhD-positions and double the pay or not. If this happens, it will be very reasonable to take a PhD here. If this does not happen, I would not recommend taking a PhD "for the money", because prices here are skyhigh.

8
3 points by rywang 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is easier to acquire specialized skills in computer vision and machine learning in grad school than in industry. I've also personally had a good experience incubating technology during my PhD, although this depends on your advisor and your country. The PhD programs in the US are usually longer than the EU (6 versus 3 or 4 years), but typically provide more freedom and less pressure to publish constantly.
9
2 points by crocowhile 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know about CS but if you are thinking of doing a PhD in the biomedical field, do it only if you are really really really attracted by the idea of doing research and knowing that there is about 1 academic job for every 10-15 people who start PhD. Competition is fierce, pay is miserable, be sure you are in love with the job.
10
1 point by vitobcn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really don't get this type of statements (and I am referring both to this article and the opposite one that also got to front page today).

Doing a PhD is neither good nor bad. There is just no right choice for everybody. Some people will rather pursue one, some others will rather avoid higher education and go for other endeavors. It is just an individual decision which will turn out good for some and bad for others.

Personally, I didn't see the point for one and decided to graduate just with an MSc, but I have many friends with PhDs and in hindsight they are fully satisfied with their decisions.

11
1 point by tluyben2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tell NH: don't worry about money so much and if you do want to waste time thinking/talking about money and the making thereof, don't do a PhD.
12
1 point by snow_mac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do you have a PhD?
13
-4 points by amichail 1 day ago 8 replies      
Your brain doesn't last forever. A PhD will make it harder to succeed because your brain will have deteriorated somewhat by the time you finish it.

Try comparing programmers at ages 20 vs 30.

16
Help me. My job killed my enthusiasm.
8 points by frodo01 1 day ago   6 comments top 6
1
1 point by hasenj 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> Why should I do anything worthy?

Because your future doesn't rely on you having a job now, it relies on you continually improving and sharpening your skills. Does your current job give you that? No, it does the opposite; it kills you. By getting out of it, you're doing your future self a favor.

I was kinda half-way there. I just quit my day job last week.

First advice: don't rush back into hacking. Give yourself sometime to cool off, just lay back and relax (metaphorically). Do whatever things you enjoy in life, maybe your thing is watching shows/movies, reading books, going out, get into something interesting like music, martial arts, whatever.

> But I can't feel that it matters. I have a job that pays me well. Why should I do more? I'm terrified that I've lost my answer to that question.

1. Your job is rotting your brain. I think you already know that.

2. You don't have to have a startup idea that works to quit. It's not about having a particular idea. It's about hacking and solving problems.

I'm sure you can regain your enthusiasm after some relaxation time, and when you do, just hack on stuff, don't worry about having to do any real project.

"Real stuff" comes when you just casually go about solving problems.

At the very least, by working on problems you find interesting, in your own time, you can refresh your hacking muscles, gain experience, get more stuff to put on your resume, and then find a better job.

2
2 points by dwc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been there. Several times, actually. A few things that may apply to you...

* If you started 4 projects you obviously still have desire. Don't push yourself. Maybe just keep tabs on interesting things, or maybe poke around in a new language, or look into anything you're curious about without any commitments.

* Even a really good day job in programming can take away energy for side/personal projects. In fact, the better the job the less mental energy I have left for my own stuff. I wish it were different, but I've mostly come to accept it.

* The world is full of small things that you can do to make your life better. When you find something repetitive in your life, consider writing something to take care of it. Doing small things to keep busy and improve your life is a nice way to get the joy back. Keep it small and simple to start, so you're not face with a big project you don't have the enthusiasm to complete. Do things you can finish quickly.

Good luck!

3
2 points by ecommando 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hear ya.

#1 Do something else - It's time to take a break. Do something completely different, unrelated to programming.

If you're like me, and it sounds like you might be, that's what it takes to make the mind miss what it knows best, and you'll soon find yourself coming up with ideas around what your doing, and chomping at the bit to dive into the technical aspects of them.

#2 Take it slow - small projects, small victories. Set your goals very low and achieve each one as a stepping stone.

If you have the ability, funds, and time, do some traveling. If not, do a lot of reading... fiction, and NO HN. Seeing other people do stuff (most of which is inane and inconsequential) only makes one feel impatient. Disconnect completely for a week or two and let your body and mind rest.

Cheers!

4
1 point by iworkforthem 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Why dun you completed your four pet projects?

I'm sure if you complete these projects, you will feel adrenaline again. It is quite clear that money is not something that make you tick. Making things does, and when you are not able to deliver/get it, your interest dwindle... Quit thinking, and complete those projects.

5
2 points by smharris65 23 hours ago 0 replies      
A long time ago something about computers sparked your interest and curiosity. You followed that spark maybe not even knowing where it would take you. Now the "real" world doesn't care about that spark, but they CANNOT put it out. Only you can. Go way back and find that time in the beginning that started it all. Re-connect with your first experience. That's what got you this far and it's what will keep you going. It's what I always focus on, and this is my twentieth year as a software developer.
6
1 point by calebmpeterson 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Hang in there. I'll second the advice to find something else you love and do that for a while instead of programming. If you like reading (a lot), try Robert Jordan's A Wheel of Time. Learn a little about cooking. Learn a little about playing a musical instrument; the bass is good - you don't have to be good at all to have fun playing along with your favorite bands.

Otherwise learn something new and unrelated to your day job but still in the programming realm. Learn Erlang or JavaScript. Make sure it has a REPL - the Chrome console is a great REPL for JS. Have fun with it! Don't worry about making something of "value" just make something small that's only purpose is to make you smile.

Hang in there; you'll get through this season.

17
Ask HN: How many of you grew up with entrepreneurial parents?
11 points by elai 1 day ago   8 comments top 8
1
3 points by jdg 1 day ago 0 replies      
My father owned a real estate company, an ISP and a CLEC while growing up. All turned into lifestyle businesses, even though they were meant to be big exits in their respective industries.

* I learned that you're up some years and down others. The trick is to just keep pushing forward.

* Some people have it, others don't.

* You won't be able to recognize whether you have it or not, until you're actually doing it.

* Marry the right person (and make sure they have health insurance that covers you and your family).

* Keep your personal expenses low and maintain the ability to live off of your partners salary while you're bootstrapping, if that's the path you take.

Bonuses:

* You get to have great discussions around the business every time you're together.

* You're able to lean on your dad (or mom) and ask for advice about what they would do in particular situations. Basically a built in mentor.

* You have a #1 fan that in some ways are living their own dreams through you. And they actually "get" what you're doing.

You have to be careful though that you don't fall into some of the same traps that they may have. As a great example: the typical small business mindset is to never, ever give up equity. For what we do here, it's silly to think that way. Equity is another tool in your toolbox, and should be used when appropriate.

2
4 points by olalonde 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quite the opposite. My parents are both professors in social sciences and are mostly disgusted with capitalism. Sometimes I wish I was born in an entrepreneurial friendly background but I guess I have the benefit of having seen both sides of the table. Plus, I have some interesting debates with them once in a while :)
3
2 points by Mz 1 day ago 0 replies      
My dad started a sewing machine repair store when I was a kid. I don't know too much. I think he worked for someone else for a time and/or worked from home and decided to open a shop. Once he opened a shop, then my mom, who sews, got involved as well and it became a place where they also sold patterns and material and sewing supplies. I don't think they ever did very well and I think they really couldn't get on the same page. There also weren't the resources there are today for assisting small businesses. The store eventually folded. My mom brought home leftover material, thread, patterns, etc and stocked her sewing room with them and spent years using up some of that stuff.

My mom also took in sewing at home for years and years and later became self-employed as a cleaning lady. Her skills were in high enough demand that when my dad went through chemo about 16 years ago and she had to mostly be home to care for him, she could make one phone call and have work on her terms for the hour or two she had available on some afternoon when he was doing well enough to be left alone briefly. This helped them enormously. I think my mom fundamentally has better business sense than my dad. She also sometimes sews stuff (or did a few years back) for my cousin's gift shop, to help support their success.

4
1 point by mbenjaminsmith 13 hours ago 0 replies      
My father had an aircraft building/rebuilding business for most of my childhood. One of the earliest photos of me was me sitting on the nose cone of a BD-5 with a screwdriver in my hand. One of my brothers started his own business when he was 16 (I was 5 - 6) and was very successful for his age. My mother ran an upholstery business for many years and most of her family were entrepreneurs.

I guess what I learned from that is a business is a series of ups and downs but at the end of the day it's always more satisfying to do your own thing. I started my first business in college and founded my first 'real' one at 25. While I don't think there's anything wrong with working for other people, I can say I'm hardwired to start new things and I'm sure my childhood had a lot to do with that.

5
1 point by mindcrime 21 hours ago 0 replies      
My dad was definitely entrepreneurial, but he wasn't a technology guy at all. The businesses he ran when I was a kid included: running a pulpwood truck, cutting down trees and hauling logs to the mills; building docks and bulkheads for people with houses on the water; building a selling crab traps; running a dump truck, hauling fill dirt and doing ground grading / leveling / etc; running a small-time shrimping operation, and uh, probably a couple more I'm forgetting. He never made it "big time" doing any of the above, although he would sometimes go years at a time making it OK doing one of those things, but he always wound up going back to a "day job." Then, after hurting his back on the job and being forced to more or less retire, he started a business doing cement pouring / finishing, and that's the one where he kinda "made it." He is very well established now doing that and makes pretty good living at it.

So yeah, watching my dad as a kid definitely taught me something about persistence and the value of hard-work; and certainly contributed to my desire to do my own thing.

6
2 points by tzm 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My mother and father were successful musicians in their early life. Since then, my mother inherited a jewelry store from her father (who built it from scratch in 1945). My father owns a restaurant and motorcycle store. His father owned a very large elevator company, who sold it and retired. My mother's father's father was a self taught dentist. (I still have his study books from his early years). My father's father's father was a musician who was tough as nails on his kids. They played the Grand Ol' Opry back in the day.

I have to say, my entire family tree is filled with entrepreneurs. That is all I know.

7
1 point by avkumar2 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I grew up watching my dad work his ass off day after day in a corporate setting. I always admired how passionate he was about his work. Hes 52 now and the CTO and supply-chain head for one of the large pharma giants.

He is gona quit the next month to launch his own venture because he doesn't feel a sense of satisfaction with what he has done.

I just graduated from college and this just reaffirms my thinking - I want to do more than walk the path other people have laid out for you. Just not satisfying enough!

8
2 points by neworbit 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry - parents were both in exceedingly regulated industries (medical and telecommunications)
18
Ask HN: How do you begin to build your new project?
30 points by cmontgomeryb 1 day ago   16 comments top 8
1
8 points by cubicle67 1 day ago 2 replies      
I work full time, so my projects are done in evenings, on the train etc.

I have an A4 sketch book and pencil I carry with me pretty much everywhere. Ages before i start coding, I'll be sketching out idea after idea for the project; everything from screen layouts, data flow, bits of text (If a good idea for some working comes up), names, db design etc. I've tried doing this stuff in software, but nothing comes close to pencil+paper for me

These drawings/notes aren't means as permanent artefacts, but rather as an aid to helping me think through the idea and flesh it out. As I build up the idea I spend a lot of time playing with it in my head (I'm very visual and seem to have a good ability to mentally model things)

When I have a few hours free, I'll start coding, but then often only until I find the next thing I hadn't considered and then I'll head back to the sketchbook.

When coding, I start with the back end process first. I also use Rails, but I'll build my models first, and I make them so I can control them completely from the console. I don't start building the UI until I'm happy with the way everything sits together.

Then, once things are nicely underway and most of the major problems are sorted out I'll lose interest and start on something new (actually, at any one time I've usually got a minimum of 3-4 project somewhere in their lifecycle between initial enthusiasm to abandonment)

2
3 points by ra 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's how I get started:

1. Write down succinctly who it's for and what problem it solves.

2. Write scattered thoughts down on a notepad, discuss with stakeholders, consider variations on solutions.

3. Inevitably you end up with a feature list, but try to abstract those to "customer benefits", refactor your feature list.

4. Capture this list in a text file under version control.

5. Draft a data model on paper / in an editor (using ORM, ERD or whatever you are comfortable with), then walk possible use cases against the data model.

6. Make changes to the model until it works for every use case considered (And I mean EVERY use case, NOW is the time to play with your data model).

7. Once that seems OK, I sketch (on paper) then build (in code) the UI for the simplest AND the hardest use case.

8. All of that takes relatively little time, yet gives you a pretty good starting point without any wireframe or data modelling tools.

9. Show it to someone (i.e. do a demo); it won't work as expected.

10. Refactor and iterate. When the initial use case is working (demonstrated to some one else), built a prioritised list of new capabilities for your software.

... now we're started.

3
3 points by thecombjelly 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it actually depends on the language that you use. When I used languages based off C, that didn't lend as well to rapid prototyping, that didn't have a good repl; I would do a lot of design work on paper. I usually ended up over engineering things with this approach though.

Now that I think and write in Lisp, I find it is a much better approach to draw up one or two UI frames and then code up the UI with hard coded data. Then I just slowly build the hard coded data out and the actual app in. I don't actual engineer much at all. I just let it flow out. This leads to a much more efficient design process in terms of the time to quality ratio.

It also seems to me that every time I try to program bottom up on paper, I do a terrible job at it. It works much better when I have actual code.

4
2 points by dkubb 1 day ago 2 replies      
I know you were asking about design, but the first thing I usually do with a new project (usually commit #2) is to make sure the deployment process works.

Then I usually setup a CI service that runs the specs on each commit, and deploys to a staging/demo server automatically if they pass.

The reason I do this first is that deployment becomes more difficult the further into the project you get. It's easier to work through deployment issues incrementally rather than just before launch, or when you want to demo the app to someone outside.

5
1 point by thibaut_barrere 1 day ago 0 replies      
My current workflow for homegrown projects:

- brainstorming in a mindmap (for ideas); I keep it for as long the project goes

- sketches on paper

- once the ideas get clearer, I use acunote to create iterations/sprints (only what's really planned in there)

6
1 point by petervandijck 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few pieces of paper that contain classes, some UI screens, some other bits and pieces, stuck to the wall above my monitor.

Alternatively, a big whiteboard with all that stuff next to my monitor.

Purpose is to have all the reference material available for glancing at during coding.

7
2 points by apedley 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting how everyone builds their model's first.

I used to but found it less rework if you build the GUI first. That way you build your model knowing exactly what is required.

But I too use pen and paper. Nothing quite compares to it, just yet anyway :)

8
1 point by nikcub 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most recent wireframing tool I have used is Google Docs. Search the templates for 'wireframing' - there are a lot of good template sets for the task (browser buttons, iPhone, etc.)

See: http://mortenjust.com/2010/04/19/a-wireframe-kit-for-google-...

19
Tell HN : A blog for hackdays, side projects and grassroots startups
10 points by thehodge 1 day ago   3 comments top 3
1
1 point by thehodge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Live Link http://thinkstartups.com/ or you can find us on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/thinkstartups :)
2
1 point by lukeinth 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I think its a great idea. I've enjoyed being part of the FB group for people hacking on november / monthly projects. The more community and exposure we can build the better it is for everyone hacking on projects. Have followed on twitter, look forward to reading more.
3
1 point by templaedhel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the articles you have, and the idea of covering hack days, because I am always looking for those. The site seems nice and the content is good, keep it up and you have me hooked.
20
Where to start a start-up?
6 points by zwikki 23 hours ago   4 comments top 3
1
2 points by JayNeely 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Go to wherever most other people are creating startups. "Where" does matter. Having a community of peers to learn from, a talent pool to recruit from, and a local community to gain initial users from is essential.

Go to or start a meetup group for startup / technology people in your area: http://www.meetup.com/cities/de/berlin/

Keep an eye out for the next BarCamp you could attend: http://barcamp.org/w/page/402984/FrontPage#Germany

Get on twitter and connect with other people interested in startups: http://twitter.com/#!/startupcamp_de/followers

Best of luck!

2
1 point by minalecs 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not a question of where but more like how. Just start.. if you're missing technical hire local, outsource, pitch your idea to technical people at meetups or read books and figure out how you can do as minimal as possible on your skill level to get it going.
3
1 point by dorianj 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Wherever you are. If you find yourself unable to find the things you need in your area (peers, people to hire, etc), then move.

But getting yourself in the right mindset and creating a burning passion that this is what you want to be doing -- this is top priority.

21
Ask HN: How to invest 100k?
9 points by Kungfu 1 day ago   11 comments top 6
1
1 point by garply 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Invest in what you understand the best.
2
1 point by dataminer 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I invest in antiques toys, watches and watch parts and some metal by buying antique silver coins and gold coins. With advent of ebay, antiques have become quite liquid. However, just as with any other investment vehicle, antiques require due diligence and knowledge of the market. I have almost doubled the investment in current year. This year's home run was three sets of Rolex Submariner 6536 watch parts sold for $6000 which were bought for $400.

My biggest loss was a Rolex Moonphase Watch I bought on ebay for $14000 last year, which turned out to be a very good fake and even confused a couple of Christies Specialists. So I learned my biggest lesson, if it is too good to be true walk away. Rolex Moonphase in Steel Case with Black Dial usually goes for > $250000 and I should have known better before paying $14000 for it.

Here is my advice on investing your money, start slow, study your market, keep a diverse portfolio, target 10-15% per year return, if you reach that you are already ahead of inflation and increasing your networth. With practice you will get better at it.

Getting good at investing takes time and effort, but its well worth it, for me antiques were a hobby which turned into good investments, for you it might be stocks, land, startups, commodities etc. But same principles apply to all of them, you have to be passionate about your investments, know your market, learn from your mistakes, never put all eggs in one basket and walk away if its too good to be true.

3
3 points by dshankar 1 day ago 3 replies      
In my opinion, 100k is too little for real estate/rent.

I would put 60k in risky, short-term investments such as early-stage startups and some Wall Street funds. The rest 40k would go into long-term safe bets.

4
2 points by stephenbez 1 day ago 0 replies      
When do you plan on using the money?
The answer will be different if you need to spend it in 2 years or if this is saving for your retirement in 30 years.

What is your risk tolerance?

What other sorts of investments do you already have?

If it was me, and it was a long term investment, I'd put it in a S&P 500 Index fund.

https://personal.vanguard.com/us/FundsSnapshot?FundId=0540&#... this fund has a 0.07% expense ratio)

5
1 point by iworkforthem 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I would say with 100k you can looking at investing in startups. Think YC also invest some 13k on each startup entrepreneur, I guess you can work along that line.
6
0 points by dedward 1 day ago 0 replies      
Today,I would keep it liquid, in safe banks, possibly SOME in actual gold (no I'm not a gold freak). A foreign bank with better reserve policies might not be a bad idea. Maybe some Euros or some other currency as a hedge, but that's it.
Not to sound too paranoid - just put it in a bank or two that have decent financials, within FDIC limits.

Stay out of the risk game for a bit.

Then plan to spend the next 48-36 months watching and studying the real-estate market, and stay out of debt. When the shit hits the fan and prices hit rock bottom, those with liquidity will be king.

Right now is not the best time on dumping money into risky investments (unless you really are prepared to take that risk - dumping 60k into really risky startups is more likely to cause you to lose 60k than anything else. it's called risk for a reason)

22
Ask HN: Hacking each others Apps / Websites?
8 points by tommoor 1 day ago   discuss
23
Ask HN: What skills $100/hour - $200k/year
22 points by simplyJump 1 day ago   19 comments top 11
1
3 points by maxawaytoolong 1 day ago 0 replies      
In order to make 200K as a $100/hr contractor, you need to be continually employed at that rate. The consistent employment is the hard part.

In my experience one can make $100/hr+ as an iPhone contractor, but only in small chunks. It's getting harder, too, because there are now plenty of good-enough people who will charge less. Python + Javascript is hard, because there are loads of good people who will work full time for far less.

One rule of thumb I've found for maximizing contract rates, is that the best paying jobs are usually with huge rich non-technical companies that are kind of internally screwed up and are trying to solve their software problems by throwing money at them.

Thus, the best bet for making $200K as a contractor is to do something kind of horrible, like being a consultant at a bank or oil company fixing up a botched Oracle Financials install, or something like that. The other option, if you have a clearance, is doing defense contracting. (However, typically if you have the right clearance, you'd know about that option already.)

2
3 points by gexla 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Quotes from your post...

"After that I calculated I'll need a 200k/year job in the south east (think that makes 400k/year in the west)."

"If coding can't get me that, what type of consulting can I do which gets paid that much."

So, which is it that you are looking for? A job? Or consulting / contracting? The two are very different. Because you mentioned Python and Javascript together, I'm assuming you are looking to be a web developer. You would be unlikely to find a job paying 200K in web development. You will need to look into something that has demand but scarcity as well.

You can hit those rates as a contract web developer, but translating that gig into a 200K year depends on your management / marketing abilities. Personally, I wouldn't even want to attempt it if my lifestyle requirements were 200K per year. You will need to time to build up a client base and you may not be able to charge $100 / hour right away. More likely you would have to start somewhere around $50 - $80 / hour and work your way up from there.

3
2 points by coffee 1 day ago 0 replies      
hmmm... I have two perspectives to contribute to this question.

1) Do not think in terms of dollars per hour. Instead, think in terms of a full time job that pays 200k per year. Then go to places such as glassdoor.com and look up who's getting paid that yearly salary and move forward from there.

2) Take the skills you've accumulated, the 1st & 2nd loves you desire to incorporate, and start your own business. The way I see it, if you're quick, you will have two iterations to get a successful product out the door & profitable - one year per business idea.

If it were me, I would attack the latter as you have far more control, and a far bigger upside than your $200k/year goal.

4
3 points by gte910h 1 day ago 2 replies      
iPhone consulting can get into the range (as does embedded work in general). But it's not a sure thing by any means.

Objective C feels much more pythonic in execution than C or C++ does. (I too prefer python)

5
3 points by david_shaw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, it's not so easy as to say "I want $x per year with this wide skill set, what should I do?"

If you love Python and Javascript, that leads me to believe that you're into nice looking scripts and web development. Have you looked into Django?

I'm not really sure what to tell you other than do what you love, and hone your skills. If you can become specialized in a specific area of coding, even better.

It's not a piece of cake to go out and earn $200k/year, but with determination and a sharp mind it is definitely possible. Unfortunately, nothing HN can tell you will really move that a long.

Good luck!

6
3 points by bobx11 1 day ago 1 reply      
200/hr is standard for a few business oriented developer technologies. The technologies are typically boring and unpleasant to work with and you have to actually talk to business users (something devs usually hate). It may not be the technology so much as the ability to understand what business people mean when they are talking. If you like Python (which I do too) you may want to try doing some Django IT projects on contract to get some references and build a business from there. Boring, but a pretty common business model.
7
2 points by olalonde 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm personally sharpening my tools for "big data" and "augmented reality" but it's a gamble, which is inevitable if you want to make the big bucks in this industry.
8
3 points by base 1 day ago 0 replies      
contractors for highly expensive business software can go above that (example: SAP, Oracle Retail etc
9
2 points by neworbit 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Consistently? Take a quant job in Chicago or NYC (or London). I'm sure there's groups outside those cities as well, but I don't know the southeast well enough to say WHERE.
10
-2 points by r0h4n 1 day ago 0 replies      
tried trolling?
11
-1 point by HeyLaughingBoy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Negotiation.
24
Ask HN: How can a programmer learn graphic design from the ground up?
67 points by tianyicui 4 days ago   57 comments top 25
1
8 points by astrodust 4 days ago 1 reply      
A large part of becoming a better designer is in studying the design of others so you can recognize what design actually is. It's in deconstructing things to identify what techniques were used, what layouts were employed, what the rationale might have been behind various decisions along the way.

It cannot be over-stated how important it is to be able to recognize design in order to be a designer. While you won't need to be able to identify typefaces at a glance, you should be able to understand the fundamentals. You should be able to identify short-comings and be able to think up ways to remedy that. Like programming, a lot of design is problem solving in the context of many constraints.

The other part is simply doing it. Design things. Constantly. Make up logos. Work with type. Whip up experimental layouts and see how they work, look for faults, and try to fix them. Re-design sites you're familiar with, even if you're simply re-implementing them, so as to understand how they work. The way you gain experience is by exploring and doing.

Everyone focuses on tools as part of their problem. "If only I knew Photoshop better, I'd be an amazing designer," they say. This presumes that Photoshop does the designing for you, which of course it doesn't. You can see work from people who think it does where they've turned on every filter, used every plugin, and exercised each font in their "500 Free Fonts and Clip-Art" collection.

Obviously you will need to learn some tools. I'd advocate picking a few that will get you the furthest along and learn them well. Instead of knowing a bit of Illustrator and a bit of Photoshop, choose one and double down. You can also do a lot of designing with a pencil and paper if you know CSS well enough.

If you're intending to be involved in a start-up, being multi-talented is essential. Unlike large organizations where there's formal departments, you'll often be wearing a dizzying number of hats. You'll be the designer-programmer-customer-support-cleaning-staff-accounts-receivable person and then your partner might be the sales-testing-tech-writer-photographer-blogger person. Rarely do you get to focus on just one thing.

Knowing even a little bit of design can help get you started more quickly, get you further along in projects without having to engage an outside designer, and will make your efforts come across more clearly.

Design is, after all, not just about pretty pictures but about presentation and communication.

2
6 points by keeptrying 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in the same position as you. And I've been trying to do this without much sucess. And then I found this book and it really has the very basics down pat:

http://www.amazon.com/Non-Designers-Design-Book-Robin-Willia...

After you finish that, you'll be able to put together great wireframes and layouts.

For the color part I'm reading a book on color theory. The very first thing I learnt in this book was that there is a reason that beginners cant work with color - because they cant "see" true color. This takes a while - google for "Color constancy"

These are the very basic steps that I wish someone had pointed me to ... everyhting else builds up from here.

3
6 points by ookblah 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is just my $.02. I believe the best way to learn is by imitating. Go on every CSS/Design Inspiration (dribbble, forrst, ilvdsgn) site you can and see what is appealing to you and then try to duplicate it in your own time. Analyze ones that everyone thinks are "cool" and figure out what makes them so. Look up articles on color theory, spacing, typography.

It might sound lame just copying a design (note: I don't mean rip then release it, this is just for your own benefit), but by picking it apart you'll slowly be creating building blocks for you to do your own stuff.

4
3 points by silentgroove 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been a designer for 7 years now, and one of the things I did when I was first starting out was find examples of designs I liked and attempt to copy them very precisely. (Should go without saying that this is a practice exercise, not suggesting to rip off others work). The exercise did a few things for me:

- helped me learn new software (learned bezier curves by copying the starbucks logo)
- forced me to be really attentive to the details of design
- got me in the physical habit of making good looking things
- let me focus first on the mechanics before implementing my own ideas
- forced me to find examples of design to look at

I think this is akin to reading someone elses code when learning a new programming language. It is also a great way to study art, drawing by hand others great works. In graphic design, I would focus more on understanding typography and composition (what things are emphasized and how, I.e. scale, color, space) than on learning to draw. You can be a great designer with rudimentary drawing skills.

5
3 points by ivanzhao 4 days ago 0 replies      
If graphic design is the makeup, then typography is the bone. You should start with the bone, and I can't recommend enough of this book:
http://www.amazon.ca/Elements-Typographic-Style-Robert-Bring...

Also, by typography I don't just mean fonts, but also the layout, the structure, the readability, etc.

6
2 points by petercooper 4 days ago 1 reply      
There's an HNer writing a book on this very topic based on soke blog posts they wrote. I can't remember who it is, alas, but hopefully this will remind someone who can follow up with some links..
7
2 points by ygtckr 4 days ago 1 reply      
If I were you, I would be inspired from http://www.cgsociety.org/ http://abduzeedo.com/ http://blog.drawn.ca/ http://www.logodesignlove.com/ http://www.davidairey.com/ http://www.helveticbrands.ch/blog/ and will try to create my ideas first on paper with pencil and then digitize them with proper technology, searching for tutorials like the ones on tuts network http://tutsplus.com/ CG Society is a great place to immerse yourself with graphic design.

But I think that if you want to learn graphic design just to create your own design and logo, I would say don't bother. You can easily hire a designer to do that for you and it would be cost effective. Just learn to distinguish good design from the bad and learn to effectively communicate the ideas you have.

8
1 point by thechangelog 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had found Andy Rutledge's archive (http://www.andyrutledge.com/) to be a really great introduction to design. The 'Practice' section in his archive has some really great introductions, especially his articles on perception.

This one is a good place to start: http://www.andyrutledge.com/gestalt-principles-1-figure-grou...

9
1 point by Dramatize 3 days ago 0 replies      
All you need to remember is form follows function.

This means creating a UI that's easy to use, if you do that then people don't really care about how it looks.

Look and Pinboard.com or Instapaper.com. People love the businesses even though the sites aren't pretty.

You would get more benefit from learning about how people interact with websites. Sites like useit.com are useful.

10
1 point by petercooper 3 days ago 0 replies      
11
1 point by noahc 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are two issues here. Learning how to design and learning the tools of design.

I took two digital art classes in college. You could tell who struggled with design and who struggled with the tools. The kids who struggled with the design piece had really crappy images. The ones who struggled with the tools had really simple images.

You can learn either/or or both. I focus on really simple design because I don't know photoshop, css, xhtml, etc well enough to pull off complicated designs. However, using simple tools like size, layout, and color you can do a lot.

I recommend getting started with blueprint css framework and going from there. You'll learn more about design than the tools, but you'll also pick up some css.

As far as self-learning vs mentor/teacher goes. You need feedback. If you can get feedback while self-learning it can work. I know there are some websites out there that can help you with that.

12
2 points by lojack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd highly suggest reading "Don't Make Me Think"

http://www.amazon.com/Think-Common-Sense-Approach-Usability/...

It's more of a usability book, but it covers some visual aspects to design. Beyond that it comes down to reading, practicing, critiquing and being critiqued. Any time you visit a new website think to yourself: what looks good, what looks bad, what is intuitive, and what doesn't make sense.

13
1 point by blahblahblah 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of things that can be learned effectively from books, but I don't think graphic design is one of them. Books can help, but one of the key skills in graphic design is having an internal sense of how a variety of different people with different viewpoints will react to a particular design. I think that skill is best learned through class discussions and the critiques of your peers.
14
1 point by venturebros 4 days ago 1 reply      
#1 HTML and CSS are not programming languages.

#2 you cannot learn how to draw by using CSS. CSS has nothing to do with any of that .

Onwards, I am not artistic at all. I made the mistake of going to an art school and it made me hate art even more. I came to the realization I will never ever be able to create mindblowing amazing websites kind of like what you see featured here http://www.thecssawards.com/ and many other sites. I was not born with artistic talent it is something you have to be born with not something you learn.

Once I came to the conclusion that I suck as an artist I started to mimic. I mimic other designs and change them up a bit. I learned that it is best for me to keep in a grid instead of breaking out of it (do a search for web grid systems). This has helped me a lot I went from designing websites that looked like they were in the 90s to something more up to date. My sites still look kind of tempalatey but they still have a customized feel to them.

I also use free UI elements on my sites you can find tons of them online. For logos I do the same thing I do with websites find logos I like and mimic with my own styling.

15
1 point by twfarland 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've gone in almost the opposite direction, I studied fine arts and have been steadily moving into dev over the last few years.

I find it inevitable that I study a new thing in terms of what I studied before. So I approached programming with an aesthetics/communication mindset.

If you are going the other way, you mind find it useful to approach design via quite formal subjects like proportion, symmetry, colour theory, and user behaviour. These have syntax and grammar, like any programming language.

Don't worry about photoshop or whatever. Don't focus on 'drawing graphics,' but on usability. Your programming background will serve you well in that.

What and I trying to day? Basically, you're probably already further down the path to designerhood than you might think, since you're a practical person who needs to communicate and handle complex systems.

16
1 point by varikin 4 days ago 2 replies      
I had a long answer but HN died for me.

The short answer, take a drawing class to learn the fundamentals of how to draw. From there, start drawing those ideas you have, but can't implement.

17
1 point by cgopalan 4 days ago 1 reply      
"I want to learn graphic design, both for my current projects and for my future startup (same reason with the suggestion that "non-technical" person should learn to code)"

Theres really no strong reason that a non-technical person should know how to code. Which means you do have to get back to the question - why do you want to learn graphic design?
If you feel that you want to learn it just so you can do that for your start-up, realize that its not necessary. You can definitely get those things done for reasonable price through sites like 99designs (reasonable even for a start-up budget).
IMHO, the best reason to learn graphic design (like most other skills) is because you WANT to do graphic design. In that scenario, how soon you pick it up will not be a factor, which is the way it should be.

18
1 point by harrybr 3 days ago 0 replies      
A developer like yourself would benefit far more by focusing on UI Design than the far broader area of Graphic Design. You don't need to design logos. You do need to be able to design bare-bones interfaces well.
19
2 points by redmar 4 days ago 1 reply      
I found this (free) book really useful: http://designingfortheweb.co.uk/book/index.php
20
1 point by thereddestruby 4 days ago 1 reply      
To answer your questions:

1) The same way a programmer learned to program.

2) Yes. As practice, draw from real life everyday.

3) If you want.

4) If you want.

5) I recommend reading Drawing on the Right Hand Side of the brain, Don't Make Me Think, and Design of Everyday Things to start.

6) Whatever you feel works best for you.

21
1 point by juiceandjuice 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been inspired by stuff from Josef Muller-Brockmann. I'm not a graphic artist, but I'm getting this book when I get a chance:
http://www.amazon.com/Systems-Graphic-Systeme-Visuele-Gestal...
22
1 point by iterationx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Play around with GIMP is simple to learn.
23
0 points by badmash69 4 days ago 7 replies      
As one programmer to another -- don't do it. Programmers can never learn the ART of graphic design from books. B

Graphic design is a black art -- for most programmers; you could end up spending a whole day trying to create a 32x32 icon and still hate it. I have wasted many afternoons cussing at my own design work.

My advise is to get really good at a web framework in a language of your choice and create code that separates logic from presentation. Leave the design work to the pros.

24
1 point by ldargin 4 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend learning by working with a graphic artist on a small project. In return, you can teach him/her some programming.
25
-3 points by phomer 4 days ago 2 replies      
Programming and Graphic Design are opposites. Logic, reason and lots of self-discipline makes for good programmers. Art on the other hand is grounded in emotion and perception. It's more about escaping discipline, while allowing yourself to get in touch with some inner irrational being (so that you don't mess up the design with logic and symbols). Art touches you, while programmers build things. Graphic Design in some sense, is just the industrialization of Art for specific purposes (although often less emotional).

It's best to realize that a good Graphic Designer can outrun a programmer in the same way that a good programmer can outrun someone that can't think logically, although some programmers seem oblivious to this. If you need good Graphic Design, it is best to hire a professional that is well suited to the task.

If you really want to try to bridge the two worlds, then a degree in Graphic Design is a good idea. Drawing, painting and photography are also good hobbies that can help you develop an aesthetic. A good reference to start with (and explain why logic and rules fail) is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It's an old classic, but helps in understanding how our brains interfere with our perceptions.

25
Ask HN: Review my Browsable REST API Design
4 points by qixxiq 1 day ago   discuss
26
Tell HN: I'm writing the European version of Founders at Work
11 points by filipcte 3 days ago   4 comments top 2
1
1 point by revorad 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great idea. Have you considered blooking it? I mean publishing interviews as you do them one at a time on a blog and putting them together in book form in the end. I really think writing and publishing books in the traditional way is completely out of sync with how people read now. I say this having just finished writing a book in the old way.
2
1 point by daleharvey 3 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds like a really interesting project, Ill be interested in hearing updates as you go along, a domain / twitter account would be useful.
28
Recommended Reading
5 points by jdritz 1 day ago   3 comments top 3
1
1 point by blurry 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If scalability is relevant to your product, this is an accessible classic:

http://www.amazon.com/Building-Scalable-Web-Sites-Applicatio...

2
2 points by greenlblue 23 hours ago 0 replies      
"Code" by Charles Petzold is a wonderful book about how computers work and it covers pretty much everything but in a way that is accessible to anyone who understand basic algebra.
3
1 point by kunjaan 17 hours ago 0 replies      
>basics of the tech side

This is a very vague target.

Do you want basics on web development? networking? computer science? programming language? managing softwares? databases description? survey of computer science?

29
Grayscale to increase your productivity
7 points by jpadvo 1 day ago   15 comments top 12
1
2 points by WillyF 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oddly enough, before reading this I randomly decided to change from a background image to just a gray background. I also cleaned up my desktop, and I did feel some sort of difference in terms of productivity. I'm as up to date on e-mail as I have been in a very long time, but it could also be because I'm going on vacation for two weeks tomorrow.
2
2 points by mryan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm, interesting. My monitor (Samsung P2770) has a menu option to enable grayscale, which I have just switched on. I am not sure that I could use this permanently but it does seem to be easier on the eyes. The icon in my taskbar that is currently flashing away is certainly less distracting.

However... my vim colour scheme is now useless, and I am about to review some mockups from a web designer, so this might be a short experiment.

3
1 point by alexqgb 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's true. I've replaced most of the icons in my dock with subdued, low-contrast versions. I really appreciate not having a bunch of fruit salad cluttering up the bottom of the screen. Occasionally I'll launch something that doesn't have a custom icon, and it'll stand out in the most distracting way.
4
1 point by electromagnetic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do a lot on a netbook, so I changed to having a hiding start menu rather than an ever present. It was more for viewing space, but I actually found myself less distracted afterwards.
5
1 point by eswat 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been using the Graphite appearance for OSX and using a neutral grey background as my desktop for a while now"I don't keep stuff on my desktop either. Really helps dull out the noise around my windows when using the monitor (I prefer not to have windows maximized in this case).
6
1 point by mathgladiator 18 hours ago 0 replies      
For windows + nVidia, you can turn "digital vibrance" down all the way and it will be grayscale.
7
0 points by sorbus 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I don't have any evidence for this, just a hunch. If you can confirm or debunk this, please do!"

So, are you actually trying it yourself? If so, you should have at least anecdotal evidence. If not, not only is your idea worthless but you're not standing behind it.

Yes, I am being rather harsh. Perhaps it's because I've never found myself becoming distracted from what I'm working on by a brightly colored icon.

8
1 point by dwc 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is one of many reasons I use a tiling window manager (scrotwm). It doesn't set out to make everything gray, but it ends up having pretty much that effect when the screen is tiled with xterms and there's no wallpaper, desktop icons, taskbar, etc. Why use only color to help focus when you can use a WM that's designed with focus in mind?
9
1 point by sielskr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to grayscale my browser while leaving Emacs in color.

Actually, I'd pay good money for a grayscale version of Firefox.

10
1 point by _ques 1 day ago 1 reply      
After turning Grayscale on, it took me 2x the time to go back and disable it, because i was looking for the "blue" icon and had a hard time distinguishing between all the icons.

Color helps in _saving_ me time as well -- so let's not forget that :)

11
1 point by hagridlove 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting idea, I am going to try it out just to see if it changes how I work (for better or worse). If you are using an nvidia card you can go to the card properties and turn the digital vibrance down to 0 to get a gray image.
12
1 point by sgt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why NeXT developers were so productive in the early years.
       cached 20 December 2010 01:02:01 GMT