So, I agree that a niche software product you're actually passionate about will help. I happened to be in a fortunate position where a demand existed for a one-off product I had created a while back, all I had to do was fill the void. Customers were already looking to me for it. I feel like a total fucking idiot for not doing it sooner. I could have made probably 3x the money, just guestimating. Find something that inspires you personally, because that is what will push you to completing it.
I got laid off from a startup position that was caving in. I had a small severance to live off of, and had always wanted to build this idea. Unfortunately while at the startup I was also working on a second one on the side (death, I know) so I never really had time to do anything but those two things. Getting laid off was perfect. I sprinted as hard as I possibly could for 3 weeks, designing, coding, and building a sale site with a mini activation server. It was loads of fun. It was also very exciting to look back on those three weeks and realize that I had done a great job making the right decision when hit with a small road block. Asking myself things like, "Where does this fit with the 80/20 rule? Can I launch this feature in a second update a week later? Do I need it at all? Oh, wait, these two features can easily be combined into one. The technology behind the two won't be nearly as cool, but users will probably prefer it." All of that, I feel, is what lead to my success. Getting the product out as soon as possible, without cutting any essential corners. We've all heard it before, but living it was great. I guess I pretty much built my own "nano" startup.
Damnit, now I want to do it again.
Really you need to leverage some kind of skills to go after something either outside the low hanging fruit, or create something that people wouldn't have considered to have a good enough market. Of course there is an element of luck, if you can make some apps and get them to take off, the mobile ad market seems to be like the early web advertising at the moment, probably returning above the mark. Something like this for example: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1870960
If it brings at least $100 a month, I'll work on nine more sites like that to make a grand.
I've done side/hobby projects of both the ad-driven and subscription-driven flavors, and the subscription-driven stuff gets a lot more profitable a lot faster. It does incur additional stress, because you have direct paying customers to take care of, but depending on the nature of the product, it might not need that much support. On the flip side, it's friggin' amazing to watch payments come in on a daily basis, then look back in a week and realize that you've got your rent paid for.
A short list of items that meet this qualification: software, writing (books, novellas, blogs, etc.), digital art, digital photography, music (original), sound of other types (background sounds that can be used in the production of music, for example), designs/instructions (for building something) and a probably a bunch of other stuff. If I missed a big one, please reply to this post with it. You should also be looking for free resources online that you can leverage. Are there free services that you can leverage to make your business easier to manage? Can you do some work (collection or processing) of some freely available data that might give it additional value which you can then extract through sales or in some other way?
Because your goal is to make a living and give yourself some extra freedom, you don't have to overengineer this. This isn't your masterpiece. It doesn't have to be pretty or break new ground necessarily. Don't chrome plate it if you're writing software for it or to support it.
Frankly, I just started taking advantage of this type of business and I feel almost guilty. The code isn't that great. The idea isn't that great. It's not something to write home about in terms of engineering a solution. But it makes me money even if I don't touch it for a month at a time. I'm not living off this business yet, but I am seeing good growth and I see a virtually infinite path to expanding the digitally based offerings of the business (more offerings = more money).
One option during this down market is to purchase rental property, you'll have to do some digging but the most depressed markets are 70% off of their peaks and most pros will tell you it won't drop much more than that (but it's not ZERO risk). You need to crunch the numbers and then renovate and find tenants but I know of a few small investors that own 15-20 rental properties and can generate ~10% margins monthly and you have the potential upside of property appreciation.
If you don't want to deal too much with getting hands on and managing a business, it's conceivable to be pretty low-risk to go with high dividend / low growth blue chip stocks. For example, AT&T is at $29/share right now. It's been paying $.42/share per quarter so about $1.60/year. It'll move around a bit but assume that they won't get screwed when the iPhone goes multi-carrier, you are talking about $1M for 34,483 shares which will pay $13,793/quarter in dividends alone which is $4,597 per month. Assume 40% taxation rate and you're $2,758 post taxes. You can use any finance site to screen for companies with high dividend yields. Keep in mind that high dividend usually means low risk of stock price movement but there is still risk.
Any suggestions for such an app that people here would find useful and willing to pay, say, $10 a month for, that would be small enough to be developed by one guy? I can't think of any ideas off the top of my head.
Anyone have an existing list of competitors? I remember seeing some being promoted here?
The right question to ask is 'how do I become a GOOD coder?' -- the answer there is also straightforward, but time consuming: Spend ten years writing code. (Five years is enough to be employable, but it takes another five before you stop being "that guy who wrote all the bugs we keep on finding".)
There really aren't any shortcuts, no matter what booksellers try to make you think.
A good way to start if it's just you, is to learn the style of other good programmers. Concentrate on one area and one language only. Each language has it's known/preferred dialects. If you jump around too much you'll get confused. This is where posting stuff to GitHub or similar helps - other people in that language will review and if they like what they see, branch and contribute.
In your situation, just concentrate on what you need to do. You can get great guidance on StackOverflow about almost any problem you need to solve, and I'd strongly suggest you do that until you get to the point where the answers there are similar to what you'd intended to to.
2) Code simple programs.
3) Publish them somewhere (GitHub or similar.)
4) Help out on already existing projects (Bug reports, patches, etc.)
5) Code better and bigger programs
Sounds like you're doing it right already (heh, like I'm an expert!)
Good luck! :)
- Need to get the examples included with Monkeybars (http://monkeybars.org) up to date, so I'll likely clean up one or two, and see how annoying that is. I suspect what's broken for one is broken for all.
- Started playing with using Monkeybars to talk to my Kinect; data manipulation is too slow in JRuby, so I will explore Mirah as a nicer alternative to using Java when speed is needed.
- I'm due to give a preso at the next AZ Hackers meeting (http://azhackers.com) so I have to do something with my Lilypad Arduino. Been hitting a wall on Bluetooth, so might just have an accelerometer drive some blinky lights. (Ultimately I want this to drive some OSC-friendly apps.)
After that, I'll be hacking on it some more.
My somewhat unrealistic goal is to build a profitable web app completely on heroku's free level of hosting. I'm not even sure I'm going to buy a domain name, I might just try to get a catchy bit.ly or tinyurl address.
I'll also be spending some time with the Programming Scala book, and probably fiddling around with Twitter's FlockDB ( https://github.com/twitter/flockdb/ ) a little.
I also have the TI Launchpad that I still haven't done anything with.
I hate LA even more now.
What platforms are your target - the "etc" you mention? Blackberry? Blackberry is still huge but by iPhone and Android standards they are hardly smartphones. How about WP7? Interesting but so far tiny.
Next question: what kind of app? If its games, you use C/C++ and OpenGL for Android and iPhone.
Personally, I use C# and manage core business logic libraries with platform-specific user interfaces in Silverlight, MonoTouch and MonoDroid. I have a client who wants Android and later Blackberry, so for that we do the Android version in "normal" java so we can share libs with Blackberry in the future.
There's an excellent review and comparison between the two, on StackOverflow: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1482586/comparison-betwee...
For applications there are a couple of iOS/Android solutions such as Appcelerator or Phonegap
It's been a week or so with no follow-up, so probably not in.
But, I love this movement of successful companies giving back to the startup community. Good press, good business, good will with future customers.
MailChimp rocks. Good luck to everyone that applied.
I think both MailChimp and Twilio did really well in this aspect to give back to the community.
What did they say?
It accepts doc, docx, and pdf and does export to HTML. I'm unsure about what the API rate limit is, though. The FAQs suggest that it can be raised by using a premier account.
Think of HN as an exercise in MVP and YAGNI.
The benefit is that because HN/YC is such a small, focused niche site if it became a full-fledged social network, all of the members would become much closer in the online community.
I may be a bit overly cynical. http://i.imgur.com/zP5fa.jpg
If you want to change something, then it's up to you to do it. It's hard work, but it can be done. Plus, we will never agree with you (because there is too big a range of views to ever be put under a name like we).
2) You are very wrong about the change that has happened.
In the 2004 election Howard Dean was the early favorite for the Democratic primaries because of his huge internet following. In the 2008 election Barak Obama won the democratic nomination and the presidency on a campaign mostly financed by individual donations over the internet. In the 2010 mid-term elections Tea-Party backed Republicans won a huge number of seats based on the Tea Party organizing support on the internet.
3) Change happens in the small. If you want to change everything, find one, small, specific thing and work at it every day until you change it. You'd be surprised at how much else you'd change along the way.
You cannot change anything until you understand the cause of your problems.
The structure of political systems determines the range of possible outcomes. We have a political system that structurally has an unusually large number of veto points (compared to similar western nations). The result is that change is slow and the system is resistant to external forces. In addition, we have a system that systematically overrepresents the interests of rural counties.
There is a relatively "easy" way to fix the second problem: states with large populations should start splitting into multiple states. But due to status quo bias such "simple" changes are unlikely to ever happen. Fixing the veto points problem is harder still: it is wired into the fabric of American governance.
" Decisions are not made with the best interest of constituents in mind. "think about the polling systems that are still in place. they call up landlines -- LANDLINES! the only people that are being sampled are our grandparents...
"And despite services like Facebook and Twitter many of us feel like we don't have a voice. "government hasn't exactly integrated social software/services. one of these days...
"So my question to the smartest people in the room is, how can this be better? "i think one of the biggest issues is the epidemic of groupthink/influence that is plastered all over politics. if opinions were submitted behind an anonymous software, i think a lot of the problems would be mitigated.
we've actually got the chief of staff for the majority WHIP in GA approaching his government friends about leveraging our ranking software to address many of the issues you mentioned. happy to speak more about it with you outside of HN as we're just beginning to explore the space & the potential impact.
I can't help but think that if the world needs another social network (something I am not sure of in the first place) that one niche that needs to be filled is "useful social network;" something for professionals who are looking to get work done. Yeah, LinkedIn touches on that, but seems to be more about cataloging connections than about collaborating with people.
Anyway, what - in you guys' mind - would make a site (say, Tumblr) "hip and cool" where Facebook isn't?
Cross those bridges when you get there. I don't see this leverage you keep referring to. They restructure businesses all the time. Having the right incorporation doesn't make your startup/idea/business any better, so why don't you focus on improving those things?
A C-corp makes more sense at a certain scale and when targeting specific types of investors, but an LLC can accept investment from new members. The terms would ordinarily be incorporated into an operating agreement.
LLC's can operate at a large scale...Chrysler is one.
Back then, the orthodoxy was an odd kind of left coast right-wing politics. You know, the young people who've never worked a real job and think Ayn Rand is really awesome, but they don't hate gays or mexicans.
If you went against that orthodoxy back then, you'd get viciously downvoted.
It seems that the politics of HN is much more diverse and tolerant now, and you can actually express the opinion that there might be some drawbacks of an extreme inequality of wealth.
The best answer I've seen to this question is "you are no longer a startup when the supplies cabinet is locked."
I have been very pleased with my own work. I syndicated my startup by hand and got over 50 reviews, mentions, tweets, and backlinks. I got a few hundred visitors and a handful of signups. But it took me awhile and it was godawful boring. I wish I had met the Magical MoFo earlier! My fingers would be less withered and my hair less grey.
That won't help with previously stolen content, but they won't be able to continue doing that in the future.
Also, this works as an interim workaround until one figures out where to send the cease-and-desist letter. ;)
You could try sending the webhost a DMCA takedown notice notifying them that 1whp.com is displaying your copyrighted content. Although any host that displays Adwords (with a "Dont forget to check out the competition before deciding on us :)" message that probably violates Google's TOS) is pretty spammy themselves, and they appear to be Australian so probably aren't too fussed about US copyright legislation.
Or remove the splog's reason for existence by sending the DMCA takedown notice to Google...
and add links in your content linking previews your own articles. After all.. free links for you
As far as serving junk content to that IP, its a waste of time. As your blog gets more popular you'll start getting more and more people ripping your content. The time you spend trying to beat these guys is better used elsewhere.
My advice, get a few high quality links going to your domain, this will come naturally over time. It will really let the search engines know which domain is the authority and which domains are just stealing content.
You offer a incentive to testers there and they give you feedback on you app. I've used it a couple of times with really good results.
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.
A few things that made me enjoy Java more:
â€˘ Use an IDE Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA or NetBeans. Vim can't handle things like automatic imports and serious refactorings like "extract method."
â€˘ Use packages liberally. Start your project inside `com.mistrq.myproject` and make a good, semantic hierarchy.
â€˘ Write applications with Guice. Program to interfaces and bind concrete classes at runtime. Dependency injection lets you easily turn a giant, hard-to-comprehend project into manageable chunks.
â€˘Â Be liberal with interfaces. Sure, we had a lot of single implementations for interfaces, but using Guice made it trivial to swap out implementations for experimentation.
â€˘ Write tests. Use whatever's popular for unit tests right now, and check out EasyMock for amazingly-easy creation of mock objects.
Java is simply not a "fun" language! If you're a student and looking for a job, knowing the language basics is enough, no one hiring out of school will expect you to be an expert. Much more important to know the OO principles it's supposedly based on.
I know Java better than I think I do. It's all the libraries and frameworks that I need to become familiar with.
(trust me, it's fun and you can steadily see your progress)
Omnigraffle isn't specifically a wireframing tool, but is very popular with Mac and iPad users.
Axure RP is also popular, but its price tag seems steep compared to what it delivers to individual designers.
I've considered ForeUI for the cases where I want to be able to build interactive prototypes, as well as CogTool for when I've wanted to measure tasks, but have not actually used either.
I recently did a set of wireframes in iMockups for iPad and was exceedingly disappointed in its visual style, the way the tools and interactions worked and the export functionality. I would not recommend it.
The functionality I'm missing is:
- Motion design. I need to prototype interactivity, reactions, button animations, movement, and no "wireframing" tool lets me do this.
- Complex documentation generation. I need to be able design wireframes and then break them down into components and output multiple types of documentation for the different teams that will be using them, in formats that can be emailed and read on iPhones and on Windows. Comprehensive docs for management are not as useful as targeted component-describing docs for implementers, and vice-versa.
- Hosted integration for artists and engineers. The graphic designers' comprehensive layouts become the source of truth for the design after my hand-off, because there's no easy way to flip back and forth between a wireframe and a design, nor between broken-apart, reusable visual components and their art. I also want developer IDE integration so technical teams can annotate the wireframes and animations with implementation details, so the documents stay "live" throughout the entire production workflow.
Programs like Balsamiq try to imitate sketching. (pen and paper is faster)
What's the slickest option out there?
I don't think I would worry about it too much unless I started getting lots of these emails.
Btw, just send you a new one.
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]"
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...
I hate them. Why? Because the entire point of social bookmarking is to find things you find interesting, not things that you find unique. That little arrow to the left of the title means "I found this link interesting. I think other people will find it interesting as well."
It absolutely does not mean "This link is unique. Nobody has seen it before." If that were the point, we could just pipe RSS feeds into the URL submitter, couldn't we?
The very fact that links are appearing on the front page means that a lot of people haven't seen them yet. It means that they got some utility out of reading them, and it means that they thought others would too.
Sometimes, dupes are good. I don't remember who said it, but that Louis CK interview that gets posted every once in a while, where he is talking about how we're surrounded by wonderful technology and yet nobody cares, they said something to the effect of "I wouldn't care if this was stickied to the top of the page and everybody had to watch it every single day before they post. He is making an excellent point."
Now, I think this is a bit excessive, but the point stands. It isn't about being unique, it is about being good.
It almost felt petty, that you were scolding the submitter for submitting content that had already been submitted. The comments section of Hacker News is one of the last places on the web that has not been hammered with noise.
I would be somewhat interested in how you solved this problem automatically though.
I also think you should work on the bot's politeness. It's easy to perceive the waltzing in of a bot that says nothing but â€śThis submission has ended up with the points and commentsâ€ť and provides a link as rude. Technically, sure, that sentence is not or at least not overtly negative but it is easy to perceive it as such.
I would formulate the bot's phrases consciously positive, showing that your intent is not to be smug about submitters of dupes but that you just want to help, you just want to provide a service.
I think it would be more useful if integrated with HN at the submission phase. Seeing something is a dupe of something else after its already on the frontpage seems too late.
My claim was that HN should bake in a "dup" button that let users flag duplicate posts, not with the goal of removing dups, but with the goal of cross-referencing them (and possibly sharing karma or some other idea). I won't recap the whole thing here, but I find DupDetector an interesting complement to those ideas.
I've been seeing an increasing number of duplicates myself, including entries using the same URL with an octothorpe added at the end -- a pretty obvious ploy, in my mind.
When HN started up, it was about the conversation. If someone else had already posted a link, great: People just joined in the conversation there if they had something to say. From my perspective, it saved the time of having to post it. And, in that I was often learning as much or more from the conversation on HN than from the links themselves, I was happy to find that conversation focused in one thread.
I'm not sure how, but I'd like to see the site steered back in that direction, if possible. (I have a few half-baked "ideas", but PG and crew have already demonstrated themselves to be more insightful than me -- in my own mind.)
I do think identifying the HN member behind DupDetector might be a benefit, to demonstrate their investment in the community and therefore, in my mind at least, credibility. Yes, I see the email address now, and I half remember off the top of my head whose domain that is. But I might have been a bit more supportive if I knew who was behind it and that they had an established, positive history with HN.
Anyway, just my 2Â˘; spend them before you need a wheelbarrow full.
The functionality is imho highly desirable, but a more dynamic solution (regularly updating the number of comments, for instance) would be a better implementation.
Change the focus from strict dupe-finding to "add additional context to the article people are already looking at." Copy some data about the comments, note the age of the previous discussions, even reproduce the highest-rated comment. These things will give it a more positive/helpful image.
If you post a link, and it exists, it simply flags: here's all the posts that already have this link. Do you still want to proceed?
Gives you the choice of jumping into the existing discussions or re-posting (eg, if the old subs are years out of date)
Disagreeing with something is no reason to down vote a comment. I'm only at ~100 karma, but I'm not waiting to get to 500 to down vote people I disagree with. Disagreement spurs discussion. It'd be pretty boring if everyone agreed on everything.
Since you have to be "qualified" to use the down vote, it should be reserved for instances where the user is not being a respectful fellow hacker.
All that being said, maybe you can include a line saying "Just a bot doing research" before it lists the duplicates.
I wonder what people would make of you using your 'real' account with a note that it's a robot posting. On some sites this would be considered karma whoring, but maybe here it would get a better response?
Dups that are distant in time are more complex. One aspect is thatpeople might not have seen the previous stroy - so it would be good to show it again. Another aspect is that the previous discussion is lost, leading to the same points being repeated, instead of (possibly) being built upon - so it would be better to resurrect the previous submission and therefore discussion.
One solution is to detect and combine dups, but enable them to launch the story fresh, if sufficient time has passed.
There is in fact already a discrete implementation of this: stories over a year old (I think that's the period) can be resubmitted as a new story. So I'm suggesting a continuous version of this idea, where the "newness" of a story gradually increases, til it becomes completely new after a year. "Newness" could be implemented with a factor on the story-score. This would enable old stories (and their discussions) to return to the front-page.
In the sense of an interesting hack, it was fun and pragmatic. Thanks for doing it. But it seems that the community doesn't see the need for the service.
Then, what is it?
I think you have not been clear enough about what you achieved.
my 0.02 c
A popular valuation method is to use a multiple of average recent monthly profit. Depending on how much work it is to run your site, you might get 5-15 times recent monthly profit.
Also, if you send me some numbers, such as traffic, customers, revenue, and such, I'll probably make you an offer.
Control + Alt + T; ssh user host; emacs -nw
Only Firefox for now, due to the editor UI. If you'd like to help integrate Skywriter/Bespin, I'd love to collaborate. The code is here: https://github.com/niryariv/weblets
I'm always amazed at what can be found on wikipedia.
It's as easy as writing your code (in your browser), launch the compilation process in their systems (cloud) and automatically downloading the resulting binary file, which can be easily transfered to the device by drag&drop, since it's recognized as a usb storage device.
I got mine for free a while back and it took me few minutes to develop a simple multi-threaded application to control a few LEDs and Servos.
It still baffles me that Google hasn't tackled this already.
Supports: C C++ D Haskell Lua OCaml PHP Perl Plain Text Python Ruby Scheme Tcl
Its not a complete IDE, but its a nice web dev sandbox.
It gives you a great mix of html/css editors with a Coda/Espresso style CSS design tools and a bunch of other advantages that developing in the browser brings you.
The beta's there for sign up if you fancy giving it a spin.
PS - FireFox only at the mo. but Chrome support is hot on its heels.
James Law @ Buildor
Assuming you've done good work, you'll get a contact and a built-in recommendation.
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.
Good post on benefits of stealth mode here: http://trada.com/blog/2010/03/31/the-stealth-mode-trada%E2%8...
"YCombinator companies are so amazing to work for that they can't be bothered to tell you who they are in a job posting."
Edit: or maybe that's the point - if you don't know who the poster is, you're not worthy of applying.
Maybe they are betting on curiosity? :)
* 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.
Playing your cards close to your chest usually does not hurt.