hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    18 Jun 2011 Ask
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12 points by andres  6 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: How much should I charge for a customized program I already wrote?
7 points by eatporktoo  8 hours ago   11 comments top 3
noonespecial 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Remember, how easy it is for you to do it has absolutely nothing to do with what you should charge. How much value it brings to your customer (and how easily that customer could buy that value elsewhere) should determine your price.

If he's going to make a million dollars with it and his only other choice was a $350k corporate license from Oracle, I'd say $300k sounds about right.

kls 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The two factors I see is, can you use the changes as a feature to other customers. If so, I personally would consider doing it at a discounted rate. If it is a total one off then I personally would charge time and materials at the prevailing rate for a freelancer. If he wants a lump sum amount well then you need to master the art of figuring out the maximum amount you can charge for something.
iKnowKungFoo 7 hours ago 2 replies      
You might want to ask this question on http://programmers.stackexchange.com/, then link to the question on HN. I think you'd get more replies there.

$5k might be fair, who knows? $5k total? per store? Does that include future installs?

Are you selling the source code too or just the compiled application?

If you're not selling the source code, are you going to license the software to him based on the number of installations or just give it to him for a specific price? You could sell it on a sliding scale based on the number of installations. If he has 22 locations and 5 installs per store, then have pricing for single installs and discount for a pack of 5 licenses.

You shouldn't give it away cheap just because it "wouldn't be too much trouble". Take into account the impact on business. How much time & money will your software save them? Remember time _is_ money.

Good luck.

Hacker News Job Board?
135 points by jgrahamc  1 day ago   67 comments top 27
mrcharles 1 day ago 1 reply      
Have a field for telecommuting as well. I wouldn't mind switching in to web dev, but I don't want to leave Toronto to do it. Places that would accept telecommuting would make that easier.
jgrahamc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Since there's enthusiasm for this I will set the site up and submit it here. Unless PG cries foul and says he doesn't like me hijacking the HN karma for this purpose.

OK. I built it. Here's the announcement: http://blog.jgc.org/2011/06/usethesource-job-board-for-hacke...

wccrawford 1 day ago 3 replies      
What's the thinking on the limitations? Is this just supposed to make the users think they are part of an elite bunch? Are the employers supposed to think that somehow selects only elite hackers?
stevenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Direct link to jgrahamc's job board: http://jobs.usethesource.com/
adaml_623 1 day ago 0 replies      
Make sure the name of the employer AND the location of the job is a required field.

Give it a try. Worse case scenario is loss of face.

stevelosh 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Would people use this?

I definitely would have when my company was looking for a programmer a month or so ago, and would use it the next time we want to hire someone.

bherms 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm planning on building the reverse soon. Hacker Resumes I guess. If you're looking for a job, you post info about yourself, location, links to all of your relevant info, and select from a few categories. Companies can then browse and see if anyone meets their needs.
ghotli 1 day ago 0 replies      
The jobs threads are already incredibly active on the first of every month. If you want the community to get into this you might try to come up with a way to scrape that data.

Additionally! If you want people to actually remember this thing exists it needs to show up on the front page from time to time. I'd get with whoever is handling the automatic submission of job threads via the whoishiring account to see if you can get the link to your site added into the description field of the monthly threads.



ColinWright 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd certainly register, look at it, and play with it a bit.
arghnoname 1 day ago 0 replies      
In addition to length or karma, you can look at length and karma. Lower length on HN means it takes a higher average karma to post, but not necessarily 200 karma (which I barely have, due to a low posting volume and not being very interesting, despite being here for a long time).
barrkel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Danger: could encourage (more) karma gaming on HN, if such a board actually worked.
themal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Make sure that the name of the employer is a required field. There's so many job websites these days which are dominated by agency ads.
sciurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would find this useful. Having a HN member in good standing submit the job sends a positive signal about the position.

(shameless plug: http://eupathdb.org/ is hiring a front-end developer, see http://bit.ly/kYH9zp for more information)

robinwarren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice idea, and given I've had success hiring through a HN who's Hiring thread in the past I'd very likely use it. I had been working on a job board project of my own (http://www.jobstractor.com) but have struggled with traction to date. I think there's definitely opportunities for better jobs boards and especially for cutting out recruiters from the process. If I can lend a hand let me know and I'll do what I can.
JoachimSchipper 1 day ago 0 replies      
One simplification: try to parse e-mail addresses from the about: box, authenticate via e-mail. Obviously, ask for permission before sending e-mail - some people have employer-(provided/monitored) e-mail.
blumentopf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd welcome such a job board. And it would be wonderful if it won't be just for permanent jobs, but also for contractor jobs.
raarky 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about some kind of "This is an agency!" button in case one somehow manages to get onto the system?
gommm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd definitely use this...
filipcte 1 day ago 0 replies      
HN karma would be a great metric for vetting experience and track-record. It's one of the trickiest things when trying to hire above-average talent.
May I recommend using jobberBase (http://www.jobberbase.com) as a platform? Also open-source, with a great community around it.

Disclaimer: I've built jobberBase, so I'm biased :).

AlexBlom 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is a great idea, and would use it very actively.
What would be good is to get a shared GDOC going so you can capture the e-mails and cities of those interested?

E-mail to keep us all in the loop, and city to make local hiring easier?

troels 1 day ago 1 reply      
When can you have it done by?
wenbert 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you. I've had very good results from HN contacts. I can't wait for this.
alexsherrick 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been hanging around the site for a long time, but I haven't been here for over two years. Is it really necessary to have that long of an account to stop spam? I believe 1 year should at least be fine.
dabeeeenster 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd definitely use this.
kron4eg 1 day ago 3 replies      
"Have at least 200 karma or have been an HN member for more than 2 years" this is too restrictive.
hr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems you really need better filtering tech to keep off the information that is offensive to you. Limiting the amount of information is good how?
snikolic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd use it.
Why I won't be using Groupon again.. A consumer perspective.
189 points by contactdick  4 days ago   167 comments top 42
patio11 4 days ago  replies      
I think you might be overestimating how much insight the waitress has into the business. It may be the case that this was a close, family-held restaurant and they have a daily pow-wow on cost of goods and marketing strategy, but I wouldn't bet that way. My guess? Groupon customers are poor tippers, either from adverse selection or because they either a) attempt to tip with leftover funny-money or b) tip based on the amount they paid rather than the face value. Thus, mentioning you to other waitstaff: they're complaining about prospective tips. ("Gah, I drew another Groupon while you get a good table.")

Put it this way: if you had put twenty quid in her hand when you sat down she would probably have instantly become the most devoted Groupon fan in the world.

cletus 4 days ago 1 reply      
I see 5 problems:

1. An offer for "Pay $X for $Y of Z" have at least anecdotally led to people spending $X+(small number) where a lot of those who offer such deals are expecting more (the Gap was a notable example of this). Perhaps a better model is a capped percentage discount on the bill?

2. Evolving social etiquette of tipping. It may simply be that people are unaware that the right thing to do is probably to tip on the undiscounted price. Or it may simply be that those who are inclined to use Groupons are simply cheap. I expect it's a little of both;

3. No caps on offers is a big problem. It means businesses can't budget what are basically marketing expenses. For this to work you need to be able to track individual offers (so a person can't use the same offer twice). This has the added advantage of you being able to mine this data as you know who used an offer, when they did, what they spent, what other offers they've taken and so on;

4. Businesses seem to resent people using these coupons. This I don't get (other than the complaints of wait staff). It's a marketing expense. If a Coolhaus truck can sit a block away from my office in downtown Manhattan giving out free ice cream sandwiches for several days (raising awareness and creating a lot of good will) then you, as a business, owe yourself this: leave the customer happy. If they're unhappy you've just wasted your marketing spend on them; and

5. Having to ask for the offer upfront is BAD. It's awkward. It leads to at least the suspicion of getting smaller portions or otherwise getting the cheap version. It probably means you'll get worse service. The offer should simply be X% off a bill (max value $Y). Exclude alcohol entirely.

Honestly I expect Groupon to sink into the ocean. Businesses don't seem to like it. Consumers are having mixed experiences. The early investors have been paid off with large F/G rounds. Revenue per customer is decreasing. What Groupon is doing isn't exactly rocket science. I kinda see small investors being left with the bill for all this post-IPO.

It's a shame really because I see such things as a great way to promote a restaurant (which is actually hard).

raganwald 4 days ago 0 replies      
My perspective is that there is a systemic disconnect between what serves the restaurant's interests and what serves the staff's interests. A Groupon promotion may help fill empty seats and sell off perishable inventory, but that may not be a benefit for the staff that work for tips.

This is a massive problem for the consumer, because the promotion is for some specific food and drinks, but not for service. If the restaurant is unable to motivate the staff to like the deal, you may have to negotiate separately ("I know these deals can be a PITA, but we intend to tip on the face value of our meal"). This isn't the customer's fault, of course, and I sympathize with the OP for crossing this restaurant off his list: Why return to a restaurant that doesn't work out how to make their staff happy about the promotion?

A bigger question is whether this is an isolated incident or something to expect when dealing with similar deals. From what I know about the way small restaurants are managed, I would expect this to happen on a fairly regular basis.

One possible solution: The fine print of the deal could levy a 15% gratuity on the face value. Customers who want the freedom to tip less should exercise the freedom to pay the face value of the food and beverages. If I was offered a $100 dinner for two for $40 plus $15 mandatory gratuity, I don't think I'd bark about it.

lucisferre 4 days ago 3 replies      
I wasn't aware tipping was all that common in the UK but here in Canada I would be wary of using Groupon for that exact reason. Personally I find tipping to be a nearly meaningless exercise (nearly because occasionally great service deserves a bit extra). Because I live in a country where we are expected to tip, restaurant owners do (and are allowed to with lower minimum wages) expect to be able to underpay their staff and let them live off tips.

It is to the point where most chains have a tipping system where wait staff tip out to everyone, chefs, bussers, etc so everyone gets a chip at it. If you undertip the wait staff can actually lose money.

I'm tired of being responsible for someone elses paycheck. Most restaurant waitstaff are merely ok, not amazing and not deserving of something extra, nonetheless I feel obligated to pay 15%+ anyways because of the culture.

Worse than this there are many here who despite the tipping culture feel perfectly free to never tip or undertip, leaving the rest of us to make up the difference (how do you think we go from 10% being a normal tip to 15-20%?).

It's for this reason alone and because I know most Groupon users are brutal cheapskates I will probably never take a Groupon for a restaurant. Though one persons advice to tip up front or at least let the waitstaff know you have no intention of only tipping on the remainder is valid and if you are going to get a groupon deal you'd do well to remember that.

What sucks about this whole anecdote is it means owners using Groupon are getting doubly screwed. They are getting one-timer coupon clipper who don't care about the crap service since they are never coming back anyways, and they are getting potential first customers who are not going to come back now because of the bad service. Even worse they will likely get negative word of mouth.

Of course there is a simple solution here, plan ahead and don't mistreat your staff by making them beg for tips. Personally I have zero sympathy for restaurant owners since they themselves are the ones who maintain this bullshit tipping culture.

wccrawford 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's really sad, because it's not only good restaurants that do the Groupon thing. It can be a good way to advertise your business in addition to the standard (boring) ways.

Any restaurant that treats their customers like crap because the customer uses a deal that the restaurant approved is... Well, rude. I don't have much use for rude restaurants. For a lot cheaper, I can cook the food myself, and it's probably as good. Worse, the time spent is about the same, too! And cooking can be fun.

So in the end, what does a restaurant offer me? New dishes, and good service. Most restaurants don't have the former, so that just leaves good service.

The restaurant in this post failed at the only thing they can offer their customers. And all because they made a bad decision. (I'm assuming they think it's bad because of their actions.)

I'm not a Groupon apologist. Some of the tactics I've heard lately are downright dirty, and detrimental to both the restaurant and Groupon both. But it's not inherently a bad thing.

reduxredacted 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to me how many news articles are out lately taking a negative tone toward Groupon. I'm sure that has a lot to do with the upcoming IPO (and I won't be an investor based on the numbers), but I thought I'd share my experience with Groupon, because I've never had anything close to this sort of problem.

We had a $20 for $40 deal at a restaurant owned by a local restauranteur. There were no restrictions other than that the Groupon couldn't be used for the tip, which, on the Groupon indicated that the tip should be made against the total bill because "groupon customers are good tippers" or something like that, I found that statement kinda silly, and I just thought it was common knowledge in the US that you always tip on the pre-discount price.

The place had piqued my interest because it was nearby and it wasn't a chain nor did it appear to be owned by one of the larger businesses that plant unique, but rather predictable, restaurants. That's unusual around here.

There were little/no reviews of this place on Yelp and I can say with certainty that there is no way I would have tried this place at this time were it not for the Groupon. The restaurant was "new", which usually equates to a long line and an unprepared kitchen staff. I have children, and frankly, when there's an opportunity to take my bride out for a night on the town, I'm going to go someplace that I know will be good. Nothing is worse than setting up a date, a baby-sitter, and then getting crappy food/service and overpaying for it. Because of said baby-sitting fees, I also won't venture to a place that's far away. I'd rather spend the money on the meal, not the college kid who sits on my couch and watches TV while the kids sleep.

This place ended up being fantastic. It was also inexpensive even without the Groupon. So to point #1: The only reason I went was because of the discount, but point #2, we've already been back once and even later purchased a $50 gift card for my dad on Father's day. I think a lot of the issues with point #2 have to do with the small business in question. We didn't have any limited "Groupon" menu (and I wouldn't buy a deal that's structured that way ... there would be too much of a temptation for the owner to cheapen it up if they were having a bad Groupon experience), nor were there any alcohol limits (which is really common).

Groupon worked great, at least for me, in discovering a new local business. We're planning yet another trip back in two weeks. My bride and I both wrote a thorough Yelp review afterward, we liked the place so much. Is it a good value for that business or would that money have been better spent advertising in other ways? I have no idea/that probably depends on the business. If he's got the working capital to run at a loss for 6 months, I'm willing to bet this place sticks around, provided the food quality doesn't change (the price could go up substantially, and I'd still continue to eat there).

jcromartie 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't use groupon for restaurants or services because I'd probably hate it if I were in their shoes. I think business owners get roped in the same way that artists or programmers do free work because "it'll look great on your portfolio/resume".
ahrens 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the biggest problem is that the staff and sometimes the owners don't understand what is the biggest possible gain - to get people in the door and then blow them away with great service and great products. I guess Groupon and the other giants probably don't tell the companies this enough. If I buy a coupon and get great service (pretty much the opposite of the story above) I would come back and recommend it to my friends. What companies end up doing, is paying through their noses to spread bad reputation about themselves.

If the restaurant would have treated the customers like all the other guests and maybe let them order the more expensive bottle of wine while explaining that it's actually not included (with a smile!) those two guys would have walked out happy and would probably have returned.

Groupon and the other coupon sites is a marketing expense, so treat it like one. You don't put up ads in the magazine with a discount and then scare away the customers when they show up! I don't defend the coupon sites, they seem to take a whole lot of the money for a small benefit. However, if you go into the deal, you might as well make the best of it. They will use the groupon no matter if you're nice or not.

ben1040 4 days ago 1 reply      
A few weeks ago a tapas restaurant in my city ran a Groupon for the second time.

The comments on the deal were nearly universally from people who had purchased the first coupon, and when they tried to redeem them staff at the restaurant treated them like lepers.

I've only bought and used one restaurant Groupon and honestly I didn't really had a problem. Then again I didn't show it until it was time to pay (are you supposed to show it when you order?). It was a $15 coupon and we used it to cover part of a $50 tab for dessert and drinks. I imagine that was probably not the norm, and they likely more often see people who spend only $14 and ask if they can have a dollar in change.

snorkel 4 days ago 2 replies      
No doubt waiters loathe serving Grouponers.
jdietrich 4 days ago 0 replies      
If an established restaurant sees any sense in offering a 60% discount, it's probably already fucked. You said that the restaurant looked dirty and uninviting from the outside. That would be fine if it was part of a successful restaurant's branding, but clearly they're not successful, otherwise they wouldn't be offering a 60% discount.

Groupon is for the most part the small business equivalent of Pets.com losing a buck on every sale and making it up on volume. Anyone who has been in the business for more than five minutes knows that voucher customers convert very poorly to regulars. Given the size of the discount and Groupon's cut, there's no way that this restaurant could be profitably converting, particularly if they're making no effort at all to do so.

Badly run businesses are badly run; Film at eleven.

AndrewWarner 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've found that it's best to show the Groupon when it's time to pay the bill. I know we're supposed to show it when we sit down, but no restaurant has ever complained.
vaksel 4 days ago 2 replies      
that's pretty much the main reason I don't use Groupon etc, if you are so desperate as to use a groupon to promote your business and get raped with all those fees, then chances are the quality of the service will be extremely subpar.

that's why pretty much the only coupon I ever bought was for Amazon.=

ssebro 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had a similar terminal groupon experience: I had meal of really, really bad indian food, at a restaurant I would never have tried otherwise and when I mentioned I was going to use a groupon I was told that my bill now included a 15% non-negotiable "service charge". In fact, my bill was taken back and changed so it was clear that the "tip" was compulsory.
pseudonym 4 days ago 2 replies      
It sounds like a rather depressing experience, and I'm rather sorry to hear that.

That said, would you consider going back after the groupon deal, just on a purely scientific basis, to see what you'd rate it at based off a clean slate? I'm mildly curious about the actual differences when the place actually wants you there, as opposed to "handling" you.

padmanabhan01 4 days ago 1 reply      
Restaurants should either not go for Groupon. If they do, they have no business despising Groupon customers. Doing that makes no sense. It is they who decided to go for it in the first place.
tibbon 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really curious to see which way Groupon goes in the long term. With things like Yelp reenforcing a feedback cycle which directly effects the eating establishment in the long term, it rarely becomes all that great of a deal for the restararaunt or the consumer.
daimyoyo 4 days ago 0 replies      
What this restaurant didn't seem to understand is the fact that groupon is like any other promotion. It's a loss leader that brings in new business. Perhaps the groupon customers wouldn't have been so bratty if the deal had been worded better, but who knows. The thing is that places like restaurants rely on repeat business and word of mouth as their primary sources of customers, and that's what groupon is designed to bring. I think the fault here is not in groupon's hands but the restauranteur.
mstolpm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry to hear about your experience, but to be fair, I have to admit that I personally had just one bad experience in about 25+ visits of restaurants in Germany and Austria due to Groupon and Daily Deals offers. That location turned out to be overcrowded and the staff rude.

The other visits were pleasant or at least we had no complaints afterwards. We DID go back to some of the restaurants (even without coupons) and recommended some to friends. Some others aren't really nearby, so we might not visit them again, but I'd recommend them as well.

However, I first google for reviews of the restaurants/companies before buying a deal. I'd not buy a deal for a restaurant with no or only mediocre reviews. And I present my coupon before ordering - that would have saved you from the bad experience with the first bottle of wine.

Of course, it greatly depends on the restaurant. If they don't plan the Groupon project, they may get overrun shortly after the deal. And the tip problem is already mentioned - so staff isn't always glad about "deals customers." I've even heard discussions with "deals customers" on a neighbor table that insisted of getting money back because their bill was lower than the deal.

Worst I experienced was not with a restaurant but a deal for a walking tour. The company was totally overbooked, promised to provide more dates for tours, but never delivered. Even 6 weeks after the deal, customer service turned out to be great and refunded the deal promptly.

A friend of mine bought a deal from a small photo studio (90% discount) - and yet (about 5 months after the deal) waits for a confirmation for an appointment: "We are fully booked until at least end of next month." Hopefully, the studio will be still in business at the time he gets an appointment (or he gets a full refund).

Its not Groupon or Daily Deal to blame for bad experience, but the business owner. But due to the growing popularity of the deals, places are more likely to get crowded after a deal. And because Groupon and co think that "the more, the better", they approach businesses as well that don't deliver great service all the time or are just unable to handle the amount of deals sold.

rsheridan6 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've used Groupon several times, and I've never had an experience like that. I don't get the feeling that I've been treated differently or badly after showing the Groupon.

>Bad restaurants use Groupon because they have to - and any place that can discount so much for their customers makes me question how ridiculous their prices are to start.

In my experience, the restaurants that use Groupon are mediocre to good. Maybe it's a regional thing, but there are so many restaurants here that even many good restaurants aren't very busy.

xutopia 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had the same experience with a Sushi joint in Montreal.
infinite_snoop 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've just recieved an offer in a Groupon mail listed as:

£69.95 instead of £239.00 - Classic Black Pentax I-10 Digital Camera with Kodak Portable Charger at Teqport

A quick search on Amazon shows it available at £74.98.

chrislomax 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think Groupon suits the purpose if you would be visiting a restaurant that has a usually high amount of coupons or vouchers changing hands. Here in the UK if Franky & Bennys offered the coupon I don't think I would think twice. I think also if it was for somewhere I frequented often and I know the standard of food is good then I would do also.

We had a situation earlier this year with a voucher where the terms were not fully explained, we went to Manchester (England) and sat down in a restaurant called Giraffes. The voucher did not explain that it could not be used before 7pm. It was 1 in the afternoon, I sat there regardless and continued to be ripped out (£8.50 for a breakfast, cheapest thing on menu) and in total paid £40 for some dinner.

In terms of tipping, I generally leave a tip if around 10%, more if the person waiting is really good and a good personality, less if I think they are over acting it to get a higher tip. They don't get anything if the food is crap or over priced. I don't think I have been anywhere recently where I have not used a voucher or coupon, it's not because I am tight, it's simply because they are there. I don't consider myself a bad tipper either.

I know what you mean though about feeling bad about using vouchers or coupons, I feel slightly guilty about it. I think the English culture is slightly different though, I think we don't like confrontation and I feel this goes into that realm.

Stick to voucher cloud, check the terms though properly before sitting down!

bugsy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well I was all set to sympathize, but I don't think it's necessarily unfair that the coupon couldn't be applied to any bottle of wine on the menu.

I do think that if the point of the coupon is to attract new customers, then it is extremely counterproductive and foolish to hide the conditions of the coupon so that people are disappointed, and to treat customers badly for using it. That's just bad management.

shareme 4 days ago 0 replies      
Groupon failures, opportunities:

I see several things...

1. Businesses are not empowered the IT system of groupon should take the grudge work out of tracking groupon deals, educating those who get a groupon offer for business, etc.
2. The group IT system should empower the sales staff to be as flexible as possible in groupon deal runs.

I see is a combination of IT improvements and realizing that you are educating 3 or more distinct group s at once and the IT system has empower that approach.

Whoever, does that will at some point reach the efficiencies Groupon needs to reach to reach profitability as being more effective will all 3 groups means less salesperson time per salesperson per group.

FiddlerClamp 4 days ago 0 replies      
A note about other service industry deals on Groupon:

I've read somewhere of people buying discount coupons for services like haircuts or aesthetics, only to find that when they call for an appointment, couponers have longer waits than non-couponers for scheduling. That alone makes me uneasy.

palebluedot 4 days ago 0 replies      
The whole point of a business (especially restaurant) using Groupon is to gain a repeat customer base. To that end, it would make more sense to give better than normal service to the 'cheap' Grouponers.

For a restaurant, what will cause people to come back is quality & service - so if you are outlaying cash (via discounts) to gain customers, you would think you would go out of your way to gain a repeat customer.

Perhaps this is more of an education for the wait staff, and perhaps the restaurant owners should realize the people using a coupon may not tip well, and make up some of the difference for the wait staff - and emphasis the importance of converting them through service & quality to be repeat customers.

Otherwise - why would the owners do the Groupon at all?

puttsmcfadden 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had a very similar experience at an Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City. Once the server became aware we had a Groupon we were treated poorly. Since that experience, I have resisted the urge to use Groupons as I would like to avoid being treated as an inferior.
cmurdock 4 days ago 0 replies      
As long as you tip based on the non-discounted total I don't see the problem. Unfortunately many probably don't do this, which is why the waitress probably was unhappy to see a groupon customer.
aaronf 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel much more comfortable using a certificate from restaurant.com. They automatically add 18% gratuity to your bill, so that there are no issues with tipping. And they structure deals such that you have to spend a certain amount, e.g. your $25 certificate requires a $35 purchase, ensuring the business makes some money. It's perceived as a gift certificate more than a coupon. Even better, they frequently have sales where $25 certificates are only $2.
toddtimes 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the US Groupon guarantees you'll be satisfied with your experience. If you didn't like the restaurant then tell Groupon and get your £18 back. This restaurant sounds like they did a very bad job of designing and executing their Groupon and it hopefully will end up costing them money and reputation.

Unless that policy isn't in place for Groupon in the UK?


kayhi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the owner could price in lower tips for those that wait on groupon tables. Heck, you could even spin it a bit "at the end of today we will draw a groupon voucher and the waiter gets 50 dollars that served them"
brown9-2 4 days ago 1 reply      
Next time don't mention your voucher until the end of the meal.
witmol 2 days ago 0 replies      
The best quote I heard was from Jon Beros, who is the general manager of Scoopon (which is the leading Groupon equivalent in Australia): "You need to make sure they're treated like a first class customer, not a second class coupon holder."

A friend of mine who owns a beauty salon says Scoopon worked with her to ensure they have capacity to serve the customers they're predicted to get.

P.S: The reason I don't usually tip (in Australia) > we have a minimum wage for wait staff that, on Sundays and public holidays at least, is often higher than my hourly rate on a professional salary.

mrjinx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, 1) I have had both good and bad experiences going to restaurants via Groupon.

And 2) Groupon isn't just for restaurants... If it were then it'd be out of business already. I've gotten Lasik for much cheaper via Groupon and also teeth whitening.

It just so happens that restaurants try Groupons because they're already battling the odds for staying in business.

And seriously, isn't this over 9000 times more effective than burning money on flyers or a commercial? It gets them INTO the restaurant. From there it depends on the restaurant to bring them back in a 2nd time with charm and great food.

So instead of blaming gift cards, coupons or even Groupons, blame management for not using Excel and the staff for not charming potential customers.

biftek 2 days ago 0 replies      
This has nothing to do with tipping. Groupon is a flawed business model.

Consumers who are willing to pay $ for something are not going to be repeat customers who will then pay $$$ for the same thing.

It's a modified pyramid scheme, the only people that benefit are consumers and Groupon it self, even though they are losing money out of their asses.

johninbrooklyn 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have a tipping story about Australia. I was there for two weeks on vacation and took a taxi to the airport to leave the country. The bill came to around $40 Australian and I had 50 Australian dollars. I told the cabbie to keep the change. He almost wrestled me to the ground to give it back. I told him I was leaving Australia and had no reason for 10 Australian dollars and the fees to convert it to US dollars would take 1/2 the money. He finally kept it but I honestly think I hurt his feelings and insulted him by making him take a tip.
eurohacker 4 days ago 0 replies      
imagine a restaurant on a good Sunday where the place is crowded and absolutely all the customers are Groupon coupon users,

the main aim of the waitresses and cooks would be to get the Groupon people - meaning - everybody - out of the restaurant as soon as possible - that goes against all principles of running restaurant business ..

Sazzy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had a similar situation with Living Social and a deal booked for English Tea in London. They had tables available right up until the point I said I had a coupon, they then told me they were fully booked, past the date of the voucher. Complained but only ever got 1 out of the 2 vouchers purchased (at £21 each) refunded.
visava 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe we need a site ( or a yelp feature ) where Groupon experiences are reviewed
mikbetk 4 days ago 4 replies      
Do you really not understand why the waitress's demeanor changed the moment you mentioned using a coupon? Seriously?

You know wait staff live on tips right? You know that people who use coupons are notoriously bad tippers right? There are very, very few people who feel they got a deal so leave a bigger tip. Most leave a tip based on what they paid, not on what the meal should have cost and people that use coupons tip at the bottom of the scale to begin with.

vaoinwie 4 days ago 2 replies      
i think you're missing that the entire point of "tapas" restaurants is to rip you off in the first place.

"how can we get someone to pay for their entire meal as appetizers?"

some MBA student got a good grade for that one

Feedback on alpha product: Acceptly
2 points by mattmuns  10 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: VPS for Dummies?
2 points by calebhicks  12 hours ago   3 comments top 3
sixtofour 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone's different, you may find some of this useful to you.

Linode and Slicehost both have excellent documentation, forums and other resources, all publicly available whether you're a customer or not.



StackScripts, ready-made scripts to set up a box: http://www.linode.com/stackscripts/

Using Linux on your Linode - Linux System Administration: http://library.linode.com/using-linux/administration-basics


Ubuntu help for various releases: https://help.ubuntu.com/

11.04 Desktop, Server and Installation help: https://help.ubuntu.com/11.04/index.html

11.04 Ubuntu Server Guide: https://help.ubuntu.com/11.04/serverguide/C/index.html

20 Linux System Monitoring Tools Every SysAdmin Should Know: http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/top-linux-monitoring-tools.htm...

The Linux System Administrator's Guid: http://tldp.org/LDP/sag/html/index.html

Linux Administration Made Easy: http://tldp.org/LDP/lame/LAME/linux-admin-made-easy/index.ht...

Linux Newbie Administrator Guide: http://lnag.sourceforge.net/

Shell Programming for Beginners: http://ontwik.com/linux/shell-programming-for-beginners/

man bash (i.e, read the man page)

Bash Reference Manual: http://www.gnu.org/software/bash/manual/bashref.html

Linux Security Basics (particularly the bits on no root login, and locking down ssh): http://library.linode.com/security/basics

kitcar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
if you have never SSH'd into anything before, I would recommend running a VPS and your shared hosting accounts in parallel until you get a better handle on Linux, then migrate your sites from shared hosting at that time.

Although I haven't checked recently, from memory as far as pricing goes, slicehost $ > linode $ > prgmr.com. Prgmr is true do it yourself though, so if your a complete linux newbie you may want to go the middle ground and get linode.com, and use the slicehost tutorials to get it up and running

idleworx 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I would highly recommend slicehost.com as a VPS host and they have a great library of tutorials (particularly helpful for linux newbies) http://articles.slicehost.com/.

Even if you don't get an account with them, you'll probably find the tutorials very useful.

Help Protect the World from Patent Litigation. Meet the IP Collective.
9 points by guiseppecalzone  12 hours ago   3 comments top
MostAwesomeDude 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Why should I support this instead of OIN?
Tell HN: Our experience with Groupon
534 points by joeguilmette  3 days ago   106 comments top 29
patio11 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for writing this.

Edit to add value: "Same-day" special + email list of people with confirmed willingness to pay money and get pushed out of a perfectly good airplane = a win. Presumably your costs are pretty much fixed after making the decision to do a jump, so you could hit that mailing list with a special promotion multiple times per year. It's a Tuesday, congratulations, have 20% off if we push you out of an airplane, etc.

ssharp 3 days ago 2 replies      
It seems like you worked out a lot of the positives and negatives that Groupon brings and strategized around them. How much of this planning was done from inside your business and how much was done/consulting on by Groupon reps?

Was the 30% breakage specific to your business, or was that quoted by Groupon reps as an average? I'd have to think that a Groupon for something that requires specific scheduling and booking would have higher breakage than something like food coupon.

I haven't spent too much time thinking about how Groupon effects small business, but it seems like businesses like yours are in the best position to really benefit. Jumping out of a plane is an experience, and one you're probably not used to doing. Seeing that show up in your email may spark the idea of jumping out of a plane. Since it's somewhat novel, your customers are more likely to take advantage of upsales. It's also a thrilling experience, so the customers will be pumped up on adrenalin, and more likely to be sold apparel afterwards. Did Groupon customers fall in line with normal % of customers buying apparel or did they differ?

I can really see the value to both the customers and your business in running a Groupon. However, as a consumer, I'm not going to go skydiving once a day. I'm not going to go once a week. I'm probably not going to get into trying out these adventure activities with any substantial frequency. Groupon can't just load up on these things and still provide intriguing daily deals. It seems like they have to have a mix of businesses, and some of these businesses are either not capable of strategizing around a Groupon, doing the proper measuring and acting intelligently on it, or their business model simply doesn't mix with Groupon. It's these people that are going to be most vocal with their Groupon experience and drive the bad press. Without real data (which we'll never have) we can only speculate on anecdotal reports. Even so, I see much more value in your account than another person complaining about how Groupon screwed them, or someone just running with the assumption that Groupon is railroading every small business who will talk with them.

geekfactor 3 days ago 2 replies      
That said, I feel that all of the Groupon horror stories floating around are from businesses that would be in trouble regardless.

I would love to find out that your experience is more typical for Groupon customers, but it strikes me that there is a bit of selection bias at play here. The fact that you are posting this on HN, with 3 years/700+ karma here, suggests you might take a more analytical approach to assessing the Groupon opportunity and building a business model to make it work for you. I doubt this is typical of the small B&M business owner that Groupon sells to.

Congratulations, though, on your success and thanks for the write-up.

andrewljohnson 3 days ago 3 replies      
I am glad it worked out for you, but I find the practice of raising prices so you can claim a discount to be abhorrent - I hope businesses don't do it to me more than I think. This is the same scam that happens in every mall jewelry store.

I guess the big question is did you make the price increase "to all customers" permanent, or is that part of the Groupon song and dance? If you just do it during Groupons, then while it may work, it's deceptive. You're not helping any customer in any way by perpetrating your "discount." It might be good for the bottom line, but the tactic is all about fleecing the sheep.

This is another business tale that I'll chalk up as an argument against Groupon. At least it tells me I need to get dirty to use Groupon effectively. I think Rocky over at TechCrunch is spot on - Groupon isn't run by evil people, but it's set up to be gray and shady by nature. It's Conway's Law brought to life.

pitdesi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for this... really interesting.

I just went skydiving for the first time last week and used a Groupon. It was fun but I wasn't immediately hooked and wanting to go again.

I paid $109 for a 15k jump that is normally $209. I bought it about a year ago (Used it because Groupon was about to expire). The facility was so packed that I had to reserve my time far in advance. (They sold 4,500 groupons the day I bought)

They tried some upselling, in the form of a video and a 2nd jump at a discounted price. The video was an additional $90, which I declined, and the 2nd jump was a "discounted" $125. This seemed kind of silly to me, as I'd only paid $109 the first time around. In the end, I wasn't upsold, so I'm presuming they lost some money on me. They also didn't collect my email address or anything. I think in the end the value you derive from a daily deal is very dependent on your ability to be smart about it (via upsells, social media, etc.).

Can you share a bit about the economics of a skydiving facility? I got the impression that the skydivers were paid per jump.

One other thought is that if I were to do it again - I've seen several Groupons for other skydiving facilities... I'd probably just buy another Groupon for another place... new view, etc. Maybe I'm in the minority but I think getting people to come back is tough when there is so much pressure from other deals.

hristov 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very interesting. I think you had a small benefit because in skydiving there is a lot of things to upsell. Skydiving is such a huge, scary and adrenaline filled event in most people's lives that even the cheapest coupon hunter will have a desire to buy something to commemorate it and show it to his friends.

BTW what is breakage? Is that when people get scared and refuse to jump?

TamDenholm 3 days ago 2 replies      
It seems the direct result of groupon can cripple you, much like a the slashdot/digg/reddit/HN effect for a website, but if you know how to harness the instant surge and spread it around to cross sell other products and peripheral promotions, you can ride the wave successfully.
sh1mmer 3 days ago 0 replies      
This fall exactly into my thinking about Groupon Economics.

#1 this is not a commodity business like say food
#2 customers that purchase because it's a discount wouldn't be likely to purchase otherwise, and it's hard for them to find another supplier
#3 treating groupon as a way to bag 1st time customers and then treating them specifically as customers that _need_ upsell is the way to create repeat business

Since people are paying for entertainment, specifically something non-typical and hobby-like it works. Especially because this business took the effort to create conversion and up-sell opportunities.

pasbesoin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious in the approximate breakdown of your expenses between other expenses and your own labor. Also, what portion of the former are fixed versus variable -- incurred "by the planeload", as it were.

I've wondered whether the businesses that can fare better with Groupon tend to be those where labor is a greater part of their expense, and where the business owners -- especially for a small business -- can effectively trade their own labor at lower compensation -- as a hourly rate or absolutely -- in return for the increased business that Groupon generates (which then provides, they must hope, a longer term marketing payoff).

Also, where expenses are variable and there is not a large fixed overhead that must be met, regardless.

Once you introduce staff labor and physical products with hard margins as larger components in the equation, it seems to me that there's less buffer with which to adapt for a mis-calculation of the effects that a Groupon or similar experience will create.

And fixed expenses have to be covered, regardless, leaving thin margins perhaps insufficient.

As you mention, you also have significant additional revenue from add-ons. And your experience, inherently, probably generates a tremendous emotional boost that in turn helps to move those.

I appreciate your detailed description and explanation of how it has worked for you. It provides some good food for thought.

neovive 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very interesting. Most of the Groupon customer stories I have read thus far are from lower-margin merchants such as restaurants. Since Groupon customers likely skip the upsells (wine, appetizers and desserts), restaurants seem to be less positive about their experience in general. They need to focus more on converting Groupons into returning (full price) customers to generate positive returns.
pbreit 3 days ago 2 replies      
Amen to hear a voice of reason among all the complainers. Groupon is just another tool available to business owners and when properly used can contribute to the bottom line. No one ever said running a business was easy. No one ever said your vendors should do all your work for you. And it's completely insane that people are now complaining about too many customers? Holy cow what is this world coming to!

That said, I think the jury is still out on how much longevity the daily deals have. I suspect they will eventually take their place next to Sunday coupons as an important but not overwhelming tool for certain types of businesses.

RobIsIT 3 days ago 0 replies      
Groupon (and their clones) have created a brand new style of sales. This new sales niche hasn't been properly researched, tested or evaluated. Groupon simply went full out, launched and is learning as they go.

I would be very interested in a category-by-category analysis of the effect that Groupons have.

With this data, we could figure out what types of businesses and specifically what types of deals work best for those businesses. Then, we could expand on this knowledge by creating new products, services and perhaps even entire businesses around this model.

Until we have this data and these conclusions, stories like this are anecdotal and even entertaining, but they don't represent an understanding of this new niche.

tatsuke95 3 days ago 2 replies      
Thanks for writing this up. Not much positive coming from the Groupon front of late. That said:

> In advance of the Groupon we raised our 10k price to $169 so that the discount percentage was higher.

I think most people assumed this was happening, but to have it said in plain English is a bit disturbing. It's deliberately deceiving the customer, and is accepted as a strategy. Is that sustainable?

jjcm 3 days ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, what percentage of people never redeemed their groupon purchase?
browser411 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome detailed write-up. Any chance I could ask you a question about this offline? My email is browser411 at yahoo. Thanks!
lefstathiou 3 days ago 0 replies      
>>...so based on this standard we would get around $50-60 for each Groupon (the TOS precludes us from talking details, so I am not going to say what our margin was)....The cost: Groupon is expensive. If someone buys a Groupon and jumps without buying anything else, we lose about $20...

Well that settles what your margin is...

kungfu71186 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like this post. A lot of businesses complain about groupon saying they take a lot of money. But groupon isn't so much about making money in that sense. It's about advertising. I've seen businesses say they lost $1500 on a groupon deal or whatever, well that is the cost of advertising. It just varies from business to business. You do hope customers return though, and if you have a good business i don't see a problem with that. I rarely buy groupons, i only buy when i want to try a business out. I am a customer that is willing to return my business if your business is good to me.

I do understand there are a lot of bad customers too, but you just have to deal with it. Too bad groupon doesn't have a way to flag customers or at least have the right to refuse their groupon and just give them a refund.

Sounds like you used groupon the way it was supposed to be used. So good for you. Can you say what your business is? I'd like to try to skydive, so i'd be willing to support you. I live in arizona, so i know there are a lot of skydiving places here.

arctangent 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the way you have described your business it seems like you are one of the high-markup enterprises that will (always) benefit from getting large numbers of customers through the door, even at a much lower price than you normally charge.

(I'm not making a judgement on your pricing, just pointing out the obvious.)

riams 3 days ago 2 replies      
How high was cannibalization, i.e. existing customers using the Groupon deal instead of paying full price?
benatkin 3 days ago 2 replies      
> That said, I feel that all of the Groupon horror stories floating around are from businesses that would be in trouble regardless.

First, you had it right in the sentence prior to this one. Your experience is enough of an outlier that it doesn't apply to most Groupon experiences. Second, isn't Groupon supposed to help businesses that are in trouble?

panacea 3 days ago 2 replies      
Your business is perfect for the Groupon firehose attention.

I maintain that it doesn't work for restaurants though.

ljlolel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does nobody here realize that while Groupon may work for a skydiving facility, the market size for something like this is tiny overall. It's literally a once in a lifetime activity, maybe a few times but certainly not regularly. Groupon's valuation is based on revenues from billions of dollars of restauarant and other unsustainable industries.
LogicMedia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing your story! Great to hears different business owners experiences with Groupon.

One of our clients who operates a semi-private golf course ran a Groupon earlier this season and had great experience with it. It definitely generated a different type of a customer, or at least not the type of clientele they generally experience.

Basically, as a result Groupon allowed them to draw and market their golf course to a completely different target market. The only catch is, trying to convert the one time Groupon customer into a long term returning player or even try to up-sell them with Club Membership.

Groupon can be very costly, especially if your business model isn't a good fit for it. But just like any other marketing, running a proper business and cost analysis can determine if Groupon is the right fit. Otherwise you might become another example of Groupon disaster story.

redsparrow 2 days ago 1 reply      
So Groupon has been good for you, and so far you've been good for Groupon. I'm wondering what you think your long-term relationship with Groupon is going to look like.

A lot of the negative press over Groupon lately has been that they aren't building a moat and that all this money that they're spending to build a customer base is being wasted. Now that you've had a few positive experiences with them, do you expect to continue doing business with them? Is it safe to assume you'll be running another promotion at the end of this summer?

I'm also curious about how much loyalty they've gained. If another group buying site came along with a better offer (taking customer-base and margins into account), would you hesitate to switch?

CLaRGe 2 days ago 0 replies      
It really sounds like Groupon is no magic bullet. You still have to run your business. Everything you did in response to the Groupon experience (higher traffic looking for a loss leading offer) is what any solid business would (should) do in response to a loss leading promotion.
nbertram 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting to hear that you aren't the only DZ to experience this. hehe thanks for Groupon my final AFF jumps are harder to schedule at my local DZ (MB, Canada) due to all the Tandems generated from Groupon ;p
siganakis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm clearly in the minority, but I'm not sure I would really be that attracted discounted sky-diving. If I ever try it, I want it to be with some delta force or SAS guy who is VERY well paid.
craigtheriac 3 days ago 0 replies      
great write-up! are you tracking how many groupons repeat after that first jump? i'd be curious what the repeat business looks like from this group
monagandhi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for sharing your experience :)

In my view, ability to connect with your customers post-experience was a home run!

From what I have read most small businesses do not have the necessary infrastructure to do that. Curious to know what technologies did you use to capture that?

Also, did you have cases where customers tried to reuse their groupons?

Ask HN: Why all the secrecy around the job postings?
10 points by blhack  1 day ago   6 comments top 4
citricsquid 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've always assumed secrecy is from companies who do not want coverage yet. Techcrunch etc. get their panties in a bunch over new companies and stay "relevant" by covering them, so when a new company appears and it's poised to get attention in the future tech sites want to report on it NOW, except for a company it's crucial you get reported on at the right time, you get the traffic when your product is ready for the "general public". We all know they browse sites like HN and reddit looking for stories, they're not going to sit on their hands when they see a potential story.

Tl:dr; my assumption is to avoid tech sites reporting on them until they choose to be reported on.

ig1 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Most of the post are from YC companies that haven't publicly announced that they're part of YC, hence the secrecy. Often they'll want to announce the YC connection as part of a press release as it helps them get press coverage, and they don't want to lose that advantage.
abbasmehdi 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are hiding something from someone. That "someone" could be a) competition (unlikely), b) future investors (most likely), c) applicants (unlikely because if I talked to them I'd ask "what do you do" and the cat is out of the bag), d) No reason (maybe). e) press (unlikely - everything can be done under embargo).
b0o 1 day ago 2 replies      
would you post a link to such job postings?

one reason some may not want to post would be bc they are startups and they dont want others to copy their business. i am in such a business and it would hurt me greatly if others started doing what i do and lose my "monopoly". In addition, it would increase the chances of a decrease in valuation should someone wish to acquire the company.

Ask HN: Advice for a young, self-taught programmer
134 points by godarderik  5 days ago   73 comments top 50
patio11 5 days ago 2 replies      
A minor heresy: most valuable programming involves a lot more gluing together libraries than it involves classical algorithms. You can go years in industry without ever seeing anything more complex than a hash table, and you don't even need to know why hash tables work, really. (And sorting? Sorting gets done by calling list.sort(), not by coding a merge sort.)

1) The way to go from "dabbling" to "proficient" is to ship software. It doesn't have to be amazing software. Entire industries are built on very non-amazing software. You will learn more from writing and supporting 1 real application than you will from a hundred tutorials.

You are, from the perspective of 99% of people in the world, a magician. Other people solve their problems by hand, by paper, by process, etc. You can conjure demons, speak arcane words to them, and the problems just go away. Find someone with a problem that they think is a Really Big Deal because they are not on speaking terms with any demons. Speak to demons for them. Get their money. You'll learn a lot from the process -- in particular, how little speaking to demons is actually required of a demon-speaker.

2) Study CS in college. Study something else, too. Your career prospects will not be dominated by your programming ability. Restated for emphasis: your career prospects will not be dominated by your programming ability. If you get really good at one hard thing plus programming, you're pretty much set for life (if that is your goal), since the intersection of the sets "can do This Particular Hard Thing" and "can program" will be only a handful of people.

3) The really useful engineering classes are the ones that teach you how to interact with other people, in particular, how to interact with people who are not engineers. People who are not engineers control most decisions you want made in your favor. Look for courses like Technical Writing or Communication For Geeks or whatever and make a special effort to take those versus learning e.g. how to build microcomputers out of NAND gates.

mechanical_fish 5 days ago 0 replies      
The glory of being in your position is that you really can't make a mistake here. I'll dispense some random suggestions.

-- it takes a ridiculous amount of time to do something that seems so easy.

Yes, this is a sign that you are doing it right. ;) Programming always takes a ridiculous amount of time. The only saving grace is that, once the program is done, a ridiculous number of people will be able to use it a ridiculous number of times. So, if you find that you're not motivated to finish stuff, you need customers. Customers are very motivational, and not just because they give you money. Happy customers are very morale-boosting.

-- The reason why you can know HTML, CSS, JS, and Python and still do not feel that you know web programming is that none of those things is a database. The database is the important part of web programming. Everything else is frosting. Try SQL for Web Nerds:


It's getting more dated by the second, half the links are broken, and you will not want to actually use Oracle (try Postgres instead, or do what everyone else does and use MySQL with InnoDB) but I know of nothing more readable and certainly nothing cheaper; most published books on SQL are drier than dirt, and I fear that the online tutorials may be all syntax and no substance. Then maybe look at a framework or two. Other folks have recommended Django, or you could look at Rails. Nothing glues all the parts together like a framework.

-- There is nothing wrong with teaching yourself basic CS before you get to Stanford. You will not run out of potentially interesting things to study at Stanford -- either you can study more advanced CS, or you can (hint! hint!) study something that is not CS, like science or other branches of math. If you like reading SICP and CLRS for fun, by all means read SICP and CLRS for fun. Don't neglect other potentially fun things, though.

-- If you find that you know language syntax and simple statements but don't know how a whole app goes together, find someone else's app and tinker with that. Read other people's apps, take them apart, fix bugs in them, find bugs in them.

-- Find someone else to work with. Get some small but honest jobs on an online consulting site and fix other people's code. Join an open-source project and hack on stuff with a community. The Drupal project is always looking for people... (/shameless plug)

astrofinch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Your personality seems similar to the one I had at 15. Here's what I wish I had told myself.

All of your problems stem from your internal ape perceiving itself to be at the bottom of the social hierarchy. For example, right after sharing that you made $21K in a programming contest at age 15, you immediately downplay your accomplishment.

You are part of the "careful, pessimistic thinker" class of nerd--the kind of nerd who could write space shuttle software for NASA. Most people are overconfident in their beliefs and overrate themselves, but not you. (It's a pretty good sign that my diagnosis is accurate if you find yourself instinctively denying its truth. Overconfident people rarely think they might be overconfident.)

Being a careful, pessimistic thinker has pros and cons. Your model of the world will be better than average, and you'll have a good idea of where its holes are. On the other hand, your psychological health will be below average since you instinctively scrutinize everything looking for flaws--including yourself.

There's a lot to say about how to fix this problem. Fortunately, I've managed to fix it in myself, and I now have really good psychological health (procrastinating very rarely) while still being able to scrutinize everything I do and figure out how I can do it better. (In fact, my scrutinizing instinct was actually pretty useful for improving my psychological health once I learned to apply it properly.)

I read a good quote by a psychologist the other day: "Several times a day, notice that you're basically alright." http://dirtsimple.org/ is probably a good blog to read. It's by the same guy who wrote Python's easy_install, who had this problem and largely solved it. I'd also love to give anyone who thinks they have this problem advice and coaching--feel free to contact me at [my username] at gmail dot com. (I'd probably blog about this if I knew I had one loyal reader, so exchanging email with other folks who have this problem would be great.)

Jd 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I was 15 (1997) I was pretty decent in C/C++, Java, Pascal, and HTML/CSS. There weren't really webapps yet, or at least any way to deploy them, and not any way I knew of to work remotely or ask questions of other programmers like there is today -- so I didn't make much money at it and ended up working bagging groceries at my local supermarket instead. So definitely you have a huge heads up on my generation just by what you have. Simply asking this question (including the useful advice I'm sure other HN contributors will offer you) is a great step forward for you and a huge one for mankind.

I think the most important thing for you to do, however, is follow your passion. If you are passionate about math, complicated computer science questions, creating apps that make people happy, or something else. My pops strongly pushed me toward MIT but I ended going somewhere else and doing something other than engineering that I ended up finding a lot more passion for and that, even though I haven't (yet!) made a gazillion dollars in silicon valley, I've learned a few other human languages and enriched myself in a number of other ways.

So my advice more generally is don't be super narrow if you don't want to be. Get out there and experience the world and other things if you are excited about that. Don't worry about making a flashy web app, unless you have a vision that requires a flashy web app to be executed upon. There are a lot of people in this world doing a lot of different things.

Anyways, it may be true that your ideas suck. Ideas can be big (usually they also require large teams for implementation) or small (and potentially growing from an existing need you have yourself or an observed need of a community -- e.g. no apps for cats on iOS). If you need an idea, observe a community, know a market, ask people more specific questions, then execute.

Do you need to make money? If so, how much? That's a good question to ask yourself now since there is often a tradeoff between coding for cash and pursuing other interesting problems (things like Project Euler certainly don't hurt either way).

However, potentially the most useful piece of advice I have for you is go social. I didn't do that myself until later in my career, but I found it helps tremendously. Find a project that you are excited about and start contributing code (even if it is a very minor way). Your code will get better much faster if other people are reading it and esp. if other people who know what good code looks like critique it. In fact, probably the folks who contribute to such projects will be more valuable critics than profs at Stanford or wherever else you end up (not that it isn't a bad idea to get a good education, but remember that's not all there is to the world).

Good luck!

mpk 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Another option would be for me to learn about data structures and algorithms

I wouldn't call this an option, but it also doesn't mean you have to spend the next year doing nothing but this. I would recommend spending a few days getting the basics under your belt and figuring out the more advanced stuff when you encounter it (and trust me - you will, they're everywhere).

You already understand how apps work and how you build them so if you're unsure what project to tackle next I'd highly recommend picking up Django (because you already know python) and building some web app that just seems interesting to you. It'll give you some server-side experience, expose you to databases and the HTTP protocol (which everyone on the web should know - it's not that complicated but having worked with it really gives you a different picture of the web).

It'll also give you a working knowledge of browsers, AJAX, HTML5, etc which are always useful skills to have. You might even find yourself going back to apps this way by using Phonegap which allows you to write cross-device apps using web technologies (though the process isn't as easy as the website makes it appear).

Basically just work on expanding your knowledge until you find a project that fits and then dive deep into that.

Also, it's all hard work and everybody faces those problems, don't let it get you down.

atakan_gurkan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Did you consider learning biology?

You sound smart and comfortable with solving problems with a computer, yet you do not seem to be satisfied with developing applications for people to use in everyday life. Perhaps your calling is to develop computer programs to solve scientific problems. I am extrapolating from my experience here. I am an astrophysicist and do simulations for studying problems in stellar dynamics. It is really fun, but sometimes I wish I had the background in biology to have the option to switch to that field, since there seems to be tons of interesting problems and really smart guys there; in particular in molecular biology and in brain research. I think if I knew what I know now when I finished high school I would go for biology and not physics (this does not mean I regret my choice though, I do not), or at least take a few biology courses.

Unfortunately I cannot recommend many books. The only decent biology book I have is "The Molecular Biology of the Cell" by Alberts et al. It is really good. I have the feeling others here can make better/more recommendations if you ask. This is not necessarily an engaging book.

Good luck!

csomar 5 days ago 3 replies      
Hi. I might be able to give you some advice. It's centered around

You are too young and inexperienced to make money.

I don't mean you can't make money... actually you did, but it's not the right thing to do now. Focus on learning instead. When I was your age, I was interested in making money and I worked hard building websites but not learning how to build them correctly (the kind of collecting stuff and making them work together). I made some money, however that money didn't really last and my experience/knowledge didn't get so far.

Now I regret the time that I have spent on that. If I spent it on learning a programming language or a framework, I'll be able to do some freelancing in the side with a higher rate. That's my advice: Go and learn something. It can be a programming language (C#.net, ruby on rails, PHP...), networking (DNS, Active directory...), finance, cryptography...

Anything that you are interested on. Don't take tutorials. Read a book. Or may be a couple of books and add some more. Delve into the topic you select. Become an expert in your field. Know the ins and outs and inner workings of it. Be an active member in related communities. Get a portfolio.

By the time you are 20 (and that's 5 years!). You'll have an amazing experience. You can at that time choose whether to work for $100/hour or to run your own startup or may be take CS in Standford. The point is: You are free to choose and you have something invaluable in your brain: The knowledge and the experience.

If I took that road when I was 15, I might be in a completely other life... and it would be a lot better and more engaging.

evanlong 5 days ago 0 replies      
"it is difficult for me to pick up new technologies" - This is true for everyone. It doesn't just happen. The more you learn the easier it will get. For example once you know the basics of UI programming on one platform the skills are transferable. The first time you do UI programming you try and figure out things like: controls, events, things that handle events, etc. But when you go to the new platform you understand those concepts and are just learning how to think about it using different APIs.

In terms of learning all the things you said were good. One thing is to just build something that solves your problem. So you are 15 lets see problems I had at 15 that could have user a software: jobs I had in high school had schedules that somebody did in excel. People were always rearranging their schedules. Things getting reprinted. So that might be a problem you could solve. Though, it sounds boring right? But my point is look around at problems you have and solve those because it's easier to see what the end result is like, work towards it and learn things on the way to getting to the goal.

Have you seen some apps in the AppStore though? Lots of crap. Lots of good. Many are mediocre. So I wouldn't worry too much about building a crappy app because it will likely be better than most. Just make sure it solves your problem even if it's make a game to be entertained. Many of the apps that are "great" are not one person. They are a few designers and developers who have years of experience behind them.

The whole webos thing, good job, but you are right (and mature) to recognize that making a buck quick buck won't always last. So building up other skills is important. That way when an opportunity arises you can jump at it fully prepared. At the same time if you like webOS and enjoy developing for it why not continue? In 2006 Cocoa programming wasn't really the cool thing.

As for algorithms, Project Euler and ACM Programming problem sets are good. ACM problems can be quite difficult so don't get discouraged. Most professionals I know would struggle with them. So they are by no means something that have to be mastered in order to be successful but doing so would not hurt. As for getting a head start on college keep in mind many people enter college not knowing how to program (and many leave that way). So you'll learn the math behind the algorithms in school but how to program them you'll have to teach yourself and/or learn from others.


1. You won't make money without hard, boring, and dirty work

2. It is unlikely a single individual is behind many of the toys, gadgets, apps and things we love in life. A team of people is far more likely.

3. http://norvig.com/21-days.html - Because learning doesn't happen overnight. Getting really good at something takes time. Lots of time in fact.

puls 5 days ago 1 reply      
Whoa there. Hold on just a minute and take a step back.

You're 15 years old, you made $21k making apps on webOS. You have four or five languages under your belt. By anybody's metrics, you're doing really really well. Awesomely, in fact. Even though "awesomely" really isn't a word.

Don't worry about it. Just keep exploring, and you'll run in to fun stuff that will continue to expand your horizons.

One thought that hasn't come up here yet is to get involved with the most intriguing open-source project of your choice. Get some experience programming on a team, and you'll not only have a chance to learn from others, but you'll also be able to expand your own portfolio without having to worry about validating ideas.

But the best thing you can give yourself is an open mind and a shot of confidence. Also: get in touch with the Teens in Tech guys. They're awesome.

M1573RMU74710N 1 day ago 0 replies      
How are you on computing in general? Are you VERY knowledgeable about the operating system you use? What about other operating systems? Know anything about their inner workings?

If you plan to be a professional programmer a working knowledge of Linux can be very valuable...in some cases a necessity. Ditto for Windows.

In terms of your "hitting the wall" in programming, I'd say seriously consider contributing to an open source project.

This will allow you a good opportunity to both study a (possibly large) code-base, and write code as well. It will force you to become more familiar with some of the processes of software development. You might have to work with other people, use a bug tracker, learn an unfamiliar build system, use an unfamiliar revision control system, etc.

Start small. Pick project that is open about needing help. Learn about the project. Hang out in the IRC a bit, or message board. Ask some questions. Answer some questions. Help track down bugs. Eventually find a feature/bug you can implement/fix and do it.

From your description, it sounds like you're in a good place. You've been doing well, and now it's just a question of finding new ways to challenge yourself. There will be setbacks here and there, but as long as you keep plugging away at it you'll be fine.

One last piece of advice I would offer is to make sure you also take time to enjoy other things besides programming. You're young and you don't get those years back.

spc476 5 days ago 0 replies      
First off, if you know C and C++, then you should realize that C is not C++ and really, the two should be considered completely different langauges (C99 has enough semantic differences from C++ that you no longer can compile C99 code under a C++ compiler). With that said:

1. Learn C. Pick up the K&R book and work through it. C is the backbone for most everything these days (Unix, Perl, Python, Ruby, etc, all written in C). It will give you a feel for how the computer works at the lowest level (unless you really want to learn Assembly, which I would recommend eventually). Skip C++ for now. It's very difficult to learn the entirety of the langauge and everybody uses different subsets of C++ (and C++ is a language you can pick up when you need it).

Also, learning C will give you a solid grounding in imperative (procedural) languages.

I would also recommend learning a functional language, either Haskel or Erlang (Haskel is a more "pure" functional language, but Erlang has probably more commercial use, even if it's a bit less "pure"). You don't have to learn this like C, but enough to be comfortable with thinking "functional". It'll help you programming even in non-functional languages.

I would also recommend learning an object oriented language (but not C++)---either Java (more practical these days, if a bit verbose) or Smalltalk (not the original object oriented language (that distinction goes to Simula) but probably the first pure object oriented language).

Don't worry now about making money, nor about reinventing the wheel. At this stage, you should be reinventing the wheel, if only to gain a deeper understanding of the trade-offs in programming. This skill will also help you evaluate which libraries are useful under certain circumstances.

As for keeping your interest, have you thought of making a game? Even a simple game like Space Invaders (even a text-only version is useful) or Tetris is simple enough to finish in a few days, yet significantly non-trivial enough to see how differences in implementation affect the resulting program.

But if you want a real mind-blowing experience, try implementing the language Forth. There are useful implementations of Forth in a little of 2k worth of code (okay, written in Assembly) so it's not a difficult language to implement, but it's amazing just how powerful Forth is (think of it as the poor man's Lisp).

sixtofour 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is a lot of good advice here, both specific and general. You'll want to consider which of it is most relevant to you, but if you pick any path pointed to from this thread you won't go far wrong, and you're already on the right track.

So, one specific observation and some general observations.

"Additionally, I also want to get into Stanford, and knowing things like this would help me be ahead."

You're doing many good things, but they may or may not be visible to the admissions process. If you want to get into Stanford or similar, talk to your school counselor and/or the admissions office of Stanford and other schools, and make sure you're doing everything they say you need to do to prepare the groundwork for application and admission. Don't assume anything here, find out for sure and execute.

Time spent on data structures and algorithms is NOT time wasted, but you may or may not need to spend much time on it now. You'll eventually need it later. Don't sweat it, and don't write it off. It would be good to survey it so you know where to jump in if you suddenly need it.

You say you get bored with tutorials and then want to jump in and write something, but then you feel you don't learn the tutorial's subject. Jump in and write something, that's great. But maybe spend a small part of your time to complete or skim the tutorial, or to study the actual thing in more depth. This is some of the tedious but necessary work required to master things.

You say you don't feel you can write competitive phone or web apps. Maybe, but who cares? There's an old saying in computer science: you build the first one to throw away. The idea is you may not really understand the problem until you've come up with a solution. The first solution may suck, but you've gained valuable insight for implementing an actual good solution.

Except for luck, you'll need to write an app or two to really understand what it takes to write a good app. Doing that will also give you ideas on what to write next, and how to do it. So go ahead, write crap, the next one(s) will be great.

Related, here's Ira Glass (producer of This American Life) on Storytelling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loxJ3FtCJJA . This gets posted on HN once in awhile.

He's speaking as an accomplished and experienced radio producer, giving advice to young reporter/producers just starting out. The key is part 3, although you should watch them all, they're each only a few minutes long. But in part 3, he points out that the young video producer (or programmer, chef, whatever) has really good taste but not much experience. He knows that what he's producing isn't great, and may be crap, in fact his taste is so good he can see without a doubt that his efforts have some crap in them. That's you. But you have to go through the body of work that includes crap, until you reach the point that you have the chops to wield your taste effectively.

So, don't avoid the crap, you have to do it to get to the non-crap. Another way to put it: perfection is the enemy of the good. Lucky you, you'll produce your crap before you have a Pointy Haired Boss.

Finally, you seem really focused and driven. That's fabulous, great. But don't be too focused. Learn to enjoy yourself and the world. Get out in the world. Be The Most Interesting Man in the World. This is a great time to be alive, especially if you live in a developed country. Be very open to lots of different experiences, different people, different ideas. Go places and do things. Experiences and people are what you'll remember and treasure, not code. People are what will pull you through the suck, not code. Improve the world with code (please, do), but enjoy the world too.

ZackOfAllTrades 5 days ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer:I am not on your level nor was I in the past. I am a 20 year old student who hasn't really accomplished much compared to what you have done. You sound like you are rocketing towards being established as a prodigy of sorts. Way to go!

What's going through my head: "I really want to give him some meaningful advice. This kid seems really neat, he is obviously going to do neat things. I want to make an impact on his life because I want him to succeed."

And I think that is what is going to go through everyone's heads here. It doesn't matter who they are or what they do: they want to see you succeed. And I think that sort of thing will carry over to whatever you try. People will want to see you succeed because you are so rare and so different and stand out so much from everything else in people's lives.

At this point, whatever you want to do, people will want to help you out and make sure that it happens. If you talk about your problems or struggles, people will come out of nowhere and help you out. If you want to learn a particular technology, email the people who made it with your story. If you want to "do" a startup, email some startup ceo's for advice and you will get some amazing advice. All you need to do is decide, and people will show up to lay out the red carpet.

Most normal people, like me, want to help you out but have no idea how to do it. I have had a hard time typing this because I keep thinking of advice to give you that probably wouldn't help. I want to say something profound to you but I have nothing much to add to what has been said here. I think the thing you should do is just pick something, anything, and start doing it. For you, things will probably line up amazingly well. People want to help you.

cj 5 days ago 1 reply      
We should get in touch. I'm a 19 y/o frontend guy working on a video education startup (my co-founder is a Peter Thiel fellow).

Lets see if there's a way we can help you out :)


dlo 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you are unfamiliar with the tale of the nine blind men and the elephant, be sure to look it up. [1] While I don't disagree with most of the advice already given, I don't think the advice given thus far paints a complete picture. For example, much of it is certainly good career advice but not so good if you are interested in computer science for its own sake.

One project I wish I started when I was, say, 11 is developing all the software for some hardware. This includes the OS, the compilers, the network stack, the browser, the email client, the application server, etc. Of course, everything might be a little simple, but this is very much akin to how a car enthusiast might spend his/her free time re-building the engine of a classic car. This is a 5- to 10-year project that I would have perhaps completed by now had I started at 15!

Also, I wonder if you'd be interested in doing computer science research rather than writing applications. There's a broad range of topics to choose from: robotics, operating systems, program analysis, graphics, and many, many more! Indeed, one of the reasons to go to a place like Stanford is that there is a lot of opportunity to perform research as an undergraduate. (Do a search for "stanford curis".) As for money, many researchers at Stanford, and indeed the very professors you will take classes from (e.g. Engler, Lam, Rosenblum, Ousterhout, ...), have successfully started companies based on their research.

If you are interested, I can make time later to get into more details, but my main point is to keep in mind that an elephant is not its tusk, its tail, its trunk, etc., but rather the collection of it all!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

chromium 5 days ago 0 replies      
16 year old here, and I know exactly what you mean!

I've been-there done that, with the kinds of things your talking about... I've released iPhone apps, dabbled into web development, done JS, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, Java, C#, Objective-C, and lots of other things.

My advice is, this is a great point of opportunity in your life- you're living at home, your expenses (room & board) are being paid for, and you're not yet responsible for having job. It's ok to feel satisfied piddling around different platforms and languages, because this is a great time to explore things without worrying about making money.

Eventually, you'll probably find something that you're really interested in- and learn everything you can about that. The things you're learning now WILL be useful later on, I can tell you this from personal experience as a college student.

Since we're more or less the same age, we should communicate! Feel free to send me an email (grahamrexford@gmail.com) to talk, or even if you want help with something, I might be able to assist.

thisisnotmyname 5 days ago 2 replies      
Sounds like you're doing great - you're miles ahead of where I was at 15, that's for sure. I think you need a mentor. Look to open source, local universities, etc. I've heard good things about the google summer of code.
joelhooks 5 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of book suggestions:

Fowler's "Passionate Programmer"[1] and Uncle Bob Martin's "Clean Coder"[2] are both excellent books on making a career out of writing software. Not specific to a particular tech, but both quick interesting reads that contain lots of nuggets of great advice.

Good luck on your journey. I'm sending this link to my 13yr old son. He's been exploring Ruby and Processing.

[1] http://pragprog.com/titles/cfcar2/the-passionate-programmer
[2] http://www.amazon.com/Clean-Coder-Conduct-Professional-Progr...

T-R 5 days ago 0 replies      
I want to give some concrete, actionable advice, because when I hit a similar roadblock, I didn't know where to go for advice, and ended up not getting anywhere for a good while. What finally got me where I wanted to be was learning Design Patterns, but there are other ways to get there, too.

When I started out, I mostly focused on the UI, and then hacked together whatever was behind it. Because my focus was on non-portable code, I spent inordinate amounts of time digging through library documentation, so progress felt really slow.

Design Patterns solidified my understanding of OOP, but more importantly, it helped me focus on the parts of my programs that were device/OS/Framework independent. This was helpful because it meant digging through documentation was the last step, instead of the first. My code was more readable and more testable, so I had an easier time planning, making changes, and finding bugs, which meant I was more productive.

You'd get similar mileage out of learning Test Driven Development or Functional Programming - they all emphasize similar concepts that will boost both your understanding and your productivity. Aside from that, they're all very practical (more so than algorithms), and more or less language agnostic, so if you're programming, they'll help you no matter where you go from here.

japherwocky 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think you're at the phase where you need practice and experience mostly. Either get a job on a team that's cranking out projects, or go freelance and ship a few dozen sites. You'll start to get some insight into the bigger problems around handling clients, cash flow, project management, etc.

I'd also recommend tornadoweb.org - there are some nice demos included using moderately complex javascript in the browser and python on the server. I'm thinking in particular of the chat demo, which was invaluable for me in understanding how ajax apps work.

Really though, you need to just ship a few projects; the frustrations will clear up and you'll be more accurate in estimating how long things should take.

Tinned_Tuna 5 days ago 0 replies      
You don't learn French just by trying to write letters and articles in a vacuum, you learn by reading articles, letters and books in French.

Similarly, to become very proficient with code, read other people's code. Read code written with the help of a framework, read code written in Python, try to read some in a functional language, try to read some C for an embedded system (FreeRTOS, perhaps?).

But similarly, don't just read. You need to be practicing your writing of code too. Write small things, an AVL or Red-Black tree in C, a small web server in Python, an IRC bot in Objective-C are all semi-decent pedagogical projects. You don't need to devote your life to a small project, just knock it out over the course of a couple of weeks to become familiar with the idioms.

Investigate asymptotic complexity, basic data structures (Arrays vs. Linked lists, Hash Tables vs. Binary Trees (balanced and unbalanced), various methods of queuing, stacks), you'll need to know the standard algorithms (binary search, various sorting algorithms, some search algorithms, etc.)

The only way to improve is to continually try to improve. Write code, read code, read books, try to implement the ideas from the books. AI, compiler design and implementation, functional programming, hardware (all the way down to signal processing and digital electronics, see if you can't design a programmable analogue computer!)

jinfiesto 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can sympathize with your situation. When I started programming, I felt the same way and had similar experiences. What changed? I read SICP. Programming hasn't been the same since.
koko775 4 days ago 0 replies      
Re: Android vs. iPhone, Android has quite a few quirks and if you're looking to avoid getting mired in confusing details of the system, I would steer clear (the UI layout system in particular can be pretty arcane, but there are other flaws as well). It's easier, and in my opinion, more fun to ship something with iOS. I recommend it highly over the Android SDK.

(I do Android and iOS for a living)

46Bit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can definitely associate with you on the learning side of things. The way I've come up with to do things is to, when I get an idea, sketch down a plan for an app/piece of code/whatever on some paper, draw up a basic design if it'll be needed, and file it away for when I next learn an applicable language.

For instance I've got notes and a basic UI for a smallish app called For A Bigger Screen ready for when I dive back in ROR. The advantage of something like this is that I actually feel I'm learning something, and get the same kind of impetus to continue out of it.

kyledr 5 days ago 0 replies      
This brings me back about 8 years when I was learning similar things in the wake of the dot com crash. I will go ahead and say that further learning of languages and whatnot at your age is not necessary. If it's fun, go for it. But being well rounded by exposing yourself to things outside of technology will help flex your idea muscle (brain). Steeping yourself in tech is not the best way to come up with ideas. When I want ideas, I walk around and pay attention to how the people around me use technology and how they could better use it. Just chatting with people will help greatly. Soft skills will help you in life just as much as hard skills. Attempting to learn the sum of a college education from 15-18 is going to be harder than with the help of profs/TAs, you will miss things, and you may find yourself bored once in college (I did). So unless your goal is to be the obnoxious kid in the front row who knows all the material already, or if your goal is to do undergrad research (a better one), I wouldn't worry so much.

Once something cool does hit you, you'll find building it easier and more fun than any work or learning exercise.

random42 5 days ago 0 replies      
You are doing good. Dont over-complicate things, and keep having fun along the ride.

If you need any advice/opinion regarding programming or software development, feel free to e-mail.

mcs 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would say all successful engineers and aspiring entrepreneurs need to know the basis upon which we program today. Where we came from with assembly, why so many people wrote blocking code vs using event-driven programming, even though we've known that to be the most efficient way to handle IO for nearly 30 years, and the general human nature of technology and economics revolving around that. Working at a startup that is transparent about it's business relations is the most engaging and thrilling way to pick that up, of course. Knowing the broadest amount of relevant technology, and how to apply it to help people solve problems, is the most fulfilling (and coincidentally the fastest way to accumulate large amounts of money).

If you're familiar with some of the heavy hitting problems in computer science right now, such as vertically scalable architecture, garbage collection, how difficult it is to debug multithreaded applications, you might want to check out Node.JS, as it is my #1 bet for large adoption of engineers in the near future. It's the first project of it's kind, in the age of GitHub, that can really be called a trending software platform. It allows you to do very rapid iteration of development, without having the hassle of how to handle large amounts of IO and other problems that will make you bang your head against your desk with if you were using other systems.

Above all though, the most interesting projects for you to work are probably what you would learn the most from.

btcoal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. I think you and I are in very similar positions. Although you've got a decade headstart on me: Win. I would say our interests and current set of skills overlap quite a bit, this is what I'm doing to get to the next level:

- Find a mentor. This is really important. IRC + StackOverflow is a good substitute, but you need somebody who you can go to with your dumbest questions and who has infinite patience.

- Pick something you think is cool and copy it. Wholesale. Don't even worry about doing it well, just get it to work. I made a couple HN clones for different domains just to see how it works.

- Take a break from programming and get a different hobby. Preferably something that makes you work with your hands (metal-working, cooking, painting (PG FTW) are good).

- Take a theoretical CS course at a local university. It will really help elevate your thinking about computation and problem solving.

Hope that was at all coherent/helpful. Good luck!

Jarred 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't fully expect you to see this, as there are 40+ comments ahead of me, but I hope I can help you out a bit.

I'm a lot like you, I've messed with C#, Python, Ruby, C, C++, Javascript, and several more. I know the syntax of them well-enough, but I don't actually know them that well. I learned Python somewhat through a class back in 2007 (College for Kids at DVC). I learned C# last year because I liked the drag-and-drop GUI editor with Visual Studio. I sat in at a lower-division class last summer at UCDavis (ECS30) that taught the beginnings of C. The summer before that I went to a summer camp that taught the basics of C++. All of these different experiences taught me different programming languages, but I find the best way to learn is by making something that you want to make.

I'm making something that let's students find out what their homework is online, do it, turn it in, and check their grades; all while making the teacher's job easier. This is teaching me faster and more than I have ever learned from any class. If you want something interesting this summer to learn on then feel free to email me jarred@jantire.com

veyron 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would suggest reading K&R (C Programming Language) as it's concise, clean, and should at least help you in developing a proper mindset for understanding programming languages
charlesdm 5 days ago 0 replies      

Do you have any preferences? I started out with doing web related stuff and in the end I noticed that I preferred lower level stuff such as C/C++.

I was in a similar position as you a couple of years ago (21 now) and I would say focus on learning more about programming. But, build stuff that is a challenge so you learn new stuff every time.

If you're pretty smart, you should have plenty of spare time. I loved high school because it was pretty much the only time where I had unlimited time to hack on stuff.

As for what to do next, tutorials can only get you so far. I'd say try out some languages and once you decide what you like most then get an (e)book that explains the basics of the language; there are usually good threads on stackoverflow as to which books to get.

Khroma 5 days ago 1 reply      
Not to be rude but I'd like to ask you for advice.

I'm fourteen, and I'm in a similar situation, although worse at programming. All I know is web, and some low level. Neither very well. The best thing I've made is probably a fancy pastebin (for plain text) in Sinatra.

Here's my advice (question later):

From the part about fearing that your ideas suck, you should ask someone and see what others think of it. They probably aren't that bad. You need confidence within reason.

With web programming, don't start with Django. Sinatra is good for practicing and getting used to moving data, so I would recommend web.py (the equivalent for Python), just because it's like Sinatra (disclaimer: I've never used web.py).

I got confused by SQL and SQLAlchemy. I like MongoDB better. It's easier, in my opinion.

Once you want to do something complicated, beyond a pastebin, then move to Django.

Learn CSS and design and something like Illustrator (logos, background images). I used to open up Firebug/Inspector, select something from a web page, and see what came up. Then I tried to duplicate it. Probably not the best way though...

Here's my question (to everyone, not just you):

What should I do to make the most out of my time?

I have the opposite feeling with algorithms and data structures. They feel like a waste of time when I could be making something, but that's just my delusion probably.

We can continue this over email.

Edit: don't stress over learning something that takes too much time. There's no rush. Also, web programming is useful because you could provide a service/subscription. That is, you make a mobile app which works with a web site/central server.

ohashi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Have fun. It seems like you're trying to learn things you really aren't that interested in and solving problems you don't care about. My advice, play. Build things you want to, for yourself. You will get better doing something you love rather than learning to hate something you were once passionate about because you're trying to do everything everyone else expects you to do.
cel 5 days ago 0 replies      
My small recommendation, as a just-graduated high school student with similar interests:

Self-study for the AP Computer Science AB exam.

Read through a Barron's review book and do the review questions as you go. It should be fun and easy, and you'll get college credit! (Stanford will give you advanced placement if you get a 4 or 5 on the test.)

When I did this, in tenth grade, it taught me at least 3 things:

Basic data structure and algorithms, like you mentioned. Useful.

OOP. This helped me become better able to manage complexity, and get to the point where I could develop 1500+ line web apps.

Java. I actually applied the concepts I was learning to JavaScript instead, and got away with never compiling any Java. (Java did come in handy later though, when I wanted to hack on some Minecraft plugins!) Many things are less straightforward in JS though (like OOP), and will require more outside reading.

As I studied APCS, I became more and more into JavaScript. Lately, I've been working with CouchDB, which is a database and web server that lets you build entire web apps with just HTML, CSS, and JS. CouchDB could serve as the "glue" that you're looking for!

arianvp 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm 16 myself, self-taught etc.

Just enjoy the programming, don't care so much about the result, but just enjoy the process.
I myself have great trouble doing serious projects, but I just love reading articles on programming and gaining more knowledge. Just try to find exciting things, for example, search how bootloaders work, try to write one yourself, fail, learn assembly, try again. etc etc. Just scout the web, look for fun things, try them out and enjoy your time! Don't worry about not making any kind of progress as in real projects, those will come later, they really will.

Now just say to yourself: I'm going to learn assembly, I wanna check out shellcode, what is this nodeJS all about, what does IOCP mean, what's better, proactor/reactor.

All these things you can learn are fun to do, even if they don't have a bigger purpose. the only purpose is to gain knowledge in as much fields as you can, so you can use them later when they are most desired.

Have fun programming/hacking/learning/exploring


shareme 5 days ago 0 replies      
First, I was like you at 15 having picked up programming
before I had attended a formal CS class..my first program was a grading/counselor tracking program for my high school.

Second, you should have not problem picking up android given your iOS, C++ and python skills. Java is a little different but not that hard, just fancy OOP C+ with a smalltalk type bias.

Some of the CS areas that you want to explore could be picked up if you build a game engine or contribute to one in the iOS or Android area.

Third, you are self editing your self to much!

nicklovescode 5 days ago 0 replies      
disclaimer: I'm 18, self taught, and have been working professionally for several companies and universities(Stanford included) since I was about 12. I'm a Thiel Fellow now(http://20under20.org search "nick")

Find a co-founder and build a product. It doesn't have to be anything world changing, but make it something substantial. Waking up to work on something and seeing daily or weekly progress is incredibly fulfilling, and having someone to work with on a long term project is an experience everyone should have.

Who knows, it might become something. My first project(web app) took a summer of fulltime work, made absolutely no money, but got millions of views, and taught me a ton.

This kind of dedication is also something that colleges love(especially Stanford), if that's one of your ultimate goals.

tsunamifury 5 days ago 0 replies      
Find a problem, solve it with a program. Try to do it yourself, and every time you run into a barrier look it up. At your age, don't worry about mastering code by specific languages -- those syntax concepts will come in time as your mind grows. Right now focusing on playing with problems and solutions.
7a1c9427 5 days ago 1 reply      
While you may not appreciate this now, and may seem 'left of field' particularly on HN, consider learning something else. By that I mean learn a foreign language, learn (more?) maths do something academic not related to programming.

You seem to be a smart person there is so much more you can do with your life that is outside the technology industry but you need to lay the groundwork now to open doors for yourself in the future.

Don't forget the programming though but think of it as more of a hobby not a career. And if in five years time you still want to make a life from it you still can. Don't start making big decisions about your life now, have fun enjoy yourself and stay open-minded.

Good luck!

josephmosby 5 days ago 0 replies      
You mentioned you know HTML, CSS, JS and Python. Have you looked into Django? That's a great tie-in of those skills in a single web programming framework. Seeing how Django brings them all together might inspire you toward some app programming.
jdthomas 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's some good advice elsewhere on this thread so I will not repeat any.

The only thing I would add is that if you enjoy webos development; I think there may actually be many good opportunities there. The reason I say this is that there is a shortage of good apps. So yeah you are in a smaller market, but you have a market that is untapped and not as saturated as iOS/Android. Also, it seems HP finally has some new products out/about to come out (Veer, TouchPad, Pre3, etc.).

Anyway, you are young; do what you enjoy now there is plenty of time to learn the theory side of things in University.

mfn 5 days ago 2 replies      
One of the things you could do is try and intern at a tech company during the summer. The main benefit is that you'll be able to see how different technologies are usually put together to make a product, and will also learn some useful professional software development practices along the way which may become handy in the future in case you ever decide to do a startup.

Since you're not in college yet this may be slightly difficult, but as long as you have put together a portfolio of interesting things you've worked on (which you clearly have), it shouldn't be a problem.

safetyscissors 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Everything else just feels like gluing together libraries that won't help me at all in the future"

Don't be discouraged by this. Although it may be easy to use existing libraries and existing tools it does give you some insight on how they are structured and how people have designed them. I have been using cocos2d for a game that I have been creating and I have come to know and love some parts of it but have found some flaws in its design and some areas where it needs improvement. If it wasn't for the library I wouldn't have a working product by now. See using libraries as a way to give leverage your ideas and not re-invent the wheel in the process.

Overall, I think you are in a way better place than most 15yr olds and some older people (like me). I was in the same position as you at your age and I was scared I wasn't making the right decision. You have a lot of knowledge of the tech and know the right tools to build upon your ideas. I say don't worry about the intricacies right now and I suggest that you just keep on building new things and see it as a great learning process. Learn the basics and the rest will just follow. Make mistakes and just relax. You're still young!

If you ever need some inspiration: http://my.opera.com/adrnlnrsh/blog/show.dml/11402771

JBerlinsky 5 days ago 0 replies      
Shoot me an email when you get the chance (in profile). I started young, too, and while I'm certainly not "prodigy-aged" at this point, I rather enjoy conversing about being a young programmer :)
Thetawaves 4 days ago 0 replies      
The best thing is to write as much as possible. Pick up as many projects as you can, design and recreate everything you have read about in computer science literature. Keep coding fun and do it as much as possible. Find the reference material used to teach computer science courses (there are standard books for many areas). READ READ READ. Diversify your knowledge into areas you find interesting. All you need is diligence.

You may find that by the time you're in your early 20s you are light years ahead of your peers.

shahedkhan30 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey email me: shahedkhan30@gmail.com
I'm 16 years old, and own a start-up, would like to give you more info about it!
Vanheist 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dude I think you arent seeing the forest through the trees...

Yea your e smart and you are making money at a young age. but if you want to be doing * really * cool stuff after and during college, immerse yourself in the big problems. Learn to write code that helps our space program. Do coding summer projects for the government . Find a leisure activity you enjoy and find how to make it better by coding. Just an idea.

squealingrat 5 days ago 0 replies      
i'm 16 and am on the other side of your world, still loving technology, but avoiding programming in favor of the design/content/consulting side... i've joined sparkmuse.com in hopes of finding someone to partner with me, but i think i'd probably have more success if i had programming knowledge. if you want to build something, i'd suggest checking that out. shoot me an email- m at squealingrat.org- i'd like to talk with you about what you've created.
rimmjob 4 days ago 1 reply      
you are light years ahead of everybody else. you could fall asleep for 5 years and you'd still be ahead.
noduerme 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd just say, think of the cool big project you want to do first and just let that dictate which technology you use to solve it.
Ask HN: Help to make a good video to tell the startup story?
3 points by iworkforthem  22 hours ago   6 comments top 2
steventruong 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Grumo Media did that video as a gift to Hipmunk. They do videos for startups. You can check out their site here: http://grumomedia.com/
massarog 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You can also check out http://explainabl.es
Tell HN: PG on Bloomberg TV today at 3
5 points by hzay  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
abbasmehdi 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I like his energy and clarity. The money people @bloomberg weren't getting it but knew he was right.
Ask HN / Review my startup: Clipik
6 points by lemalife  1 day ago   2 comments top
win_ini 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do you manage the freelance editors? Have you made a proprietary system to help manage the images and video files?
Ask HN: Obstacles to entering the B2B market?
4 points by lhnn  1 day ago   discuss
Ask HN: How much time did you invest in your startup until ramen profitable?
73 points by clyfe  5 days ago   39 comments top 19
jasonkester 5 days ago 1 reply      
Depends on what level of ramenability you're setting your bar at. Here are some of my milestones for S3stat:

6 months: Regularly covering server expenses (which were ~$50-100/month at that point).

18 months: Would have paid for me to live nicely on the beach in Thailand.

30 months: Would cover my rent (and nothing else) at a nice apartment in a major city.

40 months: Passed the monthly take-home pay from my first job out of college.

That's for a SaaS subscription product that I built with the explicit goal of having a low-level income stream that I didn't have to put much time into. Early on, there were periods where I worked 80 hours or more per month to get the infrastructure ticking away to my satisfaction. These days, it requires maybe six hours of my attention each month.

So I guess the answer to your question is: longer than you think. But once you're there, it's pretty nice.

dangrossman 5 days ago 2 replies      
About a week. Back in January 2004 I bought a domain, a design template and set up a copy of the free osCommerce shopping cart. I created packages of advertising services, put them in the store, then started posting on webmaster forums with advertising sections, and participating in the forums with the site in my signature. Total time from idea to working website was two days.

I got 5 orders the first day, a couple the next, a few more the next day, then I started advertising on search engines. Sales exploded. Over $100,000 by the end of the year... which is a lot of $10 sales!

I was simply buying up different types of ad space at wholesale rates from various networks/services, then packaging it in smaller chunks for individual site owners in the $10-40 range. The site paid for itself in its first week. A few years later and net profit, rather than revenue, was past six figures as well.

I'm not so much in that business anymore, but it was my first entrepreneurial endeavor beyond slapping ads on articles I'd written, so I was proud of that success. I later replicated the story several times with products that were income-you-could-live-on-full-time from the day the websites went live.

I really need to do it again, too. I've since sold off those businesses to pay for two college degrees, then for a new car and downpayment on a home... while my current freemium+premium services bring in enough to cover the mortgage, I need to get back into product building to get some money in the bank again.

patio11 5 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose I theoretically could have bought all my ramen with bingo profits after about 2.5 ~ 3 years, although a) I kept working at the job for another year, b) actually doing that would have resulted in an "interesting" discussion with Immigration, and c) you probably shouldn't use this as a comparable since I was very, very part-time on things.
spencerfry 5 days ago 2 replies      
All bootstrapped:

1 year for ramen profitable for 3 founders;

3 years for full-time job for 3 founders;

4 1/2 years for hiring 1st and 2nd employee;

5 years for hiring 3rd employee;

5 1/2 years for hiring 4th, 5th, and 6th employee (present day).

Re: http://carbonmade.com

joelg87 5 days ago 2 replies      
Short answer: 5 months with my new startup (to reach about $1500/mo revenue).

Longer answer: I've completely immersed myself in startups for around 3 years and spent a full 1.5 years on a startup which never reached ramen profitability nor got funding. I don't think I'd have been able to reach ramen profitability in 5 months without the learning I did in the previous one.

erikstarck 5 days ago 1 reply      
Related question: how much faster can you do it if you quit your dayjob and do the startup full time? Is it worth the added risk?
dangravell 5 days ago 0 replies      
1.5 yrs part time for my work on bliss, of which a little over one year was with a commercially available product. Once RP, I went full time.

This was aided by both shrinking my outgoings as well as growing revenue. I cut out as many monthly outgoings as possible, went PAYG with my mobile phone, stopped spending daft amounts of money on wine... You've got to work out what's more important - cable television or your startup?

damoncali 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://trackjumper.com took almost a year to break even. Had I been working on it full time, it would have happened much sooner.
erikpukinskis 5 days ago 0 replies      
2.5 years and counting, for better or worse!
powertower 5 days ago 0 replies      
This greatly depends on your experience level, how much work you put in every day, the type of business you are in, you're personal situation, and quite a few other factors.

If you're at the top of your game (you know what you are doing - have experience of 5-10+ years), I would say if the income does not come in after 3-6 months, you're wasting time and effort.

Otherwise it could take years to get things right before you find out that the market for your idea is not there.

preinheimer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Probably around 8 months - 1 year for us (https://wonderproxy.com). My co-founder and I were both employed full time elsewhere so we used revenue to expand constantly, becoming profitable wasn't on our short to-do list.
DenisM 5 days ago 0 replies      
5 months for my iPhone app. I broke ground in May 2009, released in Sept, and the money became ramenable around Nov, after I fixed the glaring bugs.
steventruong 5 days ago 0 replies      
First startup, within 30 days (or less) we had revenue and profit to sustain cost. Currently working on finding next idea so nothing yet.
beeeph 5 days ago 1 reply      
My startups first iOS game, Quotiac, was making ~$7/day within two days of making it on to the App Store. It took me about three months of full time development (programming + asset creation) to get there. My monthly expenses at the time were nil, so every penny earned was considered profit.


westiseast 5 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting question, thanks for posting. I'm selling Chinese tea (a physical product sold online), so it's different from these SaaS guys, but it's about 3 months from launch and covered 1/3rd costs, but about 6 months since first line of code.
jeffrieger 5 days ago 0 replies      
Breakdown for freshtemp (firmware/hardware/software)

10 months full time (80 hrs/week) - first customer ($200/mth)

This time includes learning YUI to build the frontend (2 months)

Hiring consultant to build the backend (3 months)

Testing and building hardware (7 months)

This was done with less than 40K of cash, financed through myself and family.

Maro 5 days ago 0 replies      
18 months for Scalien.
azsromej 5 days ago 0 replies      
nearly a year of writing iOS apps
hrasm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Why do YC-backed companies post anonymous job postings?
9 points by waterside81  2 days ago   4 comments top 2
simonk 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the last few times this came up, these companies have not announced that they have been funded by YC and when they do it will probably make TechCrunch. They want that coverage when they have something to show, not just a hiring now page.
curt 2 days ago 1 reply      
While most of the time people overvalue secrecy, if you're entering a market where a competitor could quickly move in on your target market and make your entrance more difficult there are definite reasons for keeping quiet.Also if your launch strategy hinges on a unified PR campaign you need to keep everything below the radar.
Ask HN: How do I find a good software/web IP attorney?
4 points by cvm  1 day ago   2 comments top
jimlast 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't think you have to find someone necessarily with a heavy software background. I would think it's more important to find someone with a lot of IP experience that knows a little about software than vice-versa.
Ask HN: Should I go to college?
3 points by joshmlewis  1 day ago   5 comments top 5
michaelpinto 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you go to college it will give you more options and opportunities over the long run " and frankly the longer you wait the less your chances are of going. Also if you study what you love it will open other doors that can't be opened at a job (unless perhaps you're working with a room full of Phds at Google). Unless you think the dot.com that you're working for now is the next Google -- or unless your parents are very wealthy (in which case opportunities aren't an issue) it would be a very prudent idea to go to college.
keeptrying 1 day ago 0 replies      
Go to college. I've seen guys who didn't and they have very narrow focus and don't know any other fields other than their own little field - deep as it may be.

College let's you try different things. It gives you a chance to explore subjects and fields in a way that no other opportunity will easily provide.

maxdemarzi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I deferred school until the Spring semester (starting January) and ended up working for IBM for about 7 months right out of high school. Went back to work for them every summer.

Other people I know stretched the 4 years out to 5 or 6 and worked while they studied (stick with Tuesday and Thursday only classes).

veyron 1 day ago 0 replies      
"making more money than I've ever made." <-- may I ask how much are you making now?

At the end of the day, if you are making a ton of money and have a very realistic shot of making enough to retire in the next two to four years, then it may make sense to continue at the startup for a year.

I think the question is phrased wrong, because it seems like you are asking "Should I go to college now or wait a year?" And that answer really depends on the prospects of the company.

pspeter3 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's ok to wait a year if you really intend to go to college afterwards. College provides a lot of learning outside the classroom and the experience you gain there working with other people and learning from them could benefit you down the road.
Ask HN: MentorHour - What do you think about my idea
6 points by Omnipresent  2 days ago   3 comments top 2
Slmnhq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Several issues that I would like to highlight:

Skillshare is just one competitor - there are several startups doing similar things. Do more research about competitive landscape.

Furthermore, you will also be competing with not-for-profits (khanacademy) and institutions (MIT Open Courseware, StanfordU on iTunes, etc) which offer free knowledge. Free is hard to beat.

Lack of a laser-focus: define a niche market of 'learners' seeking a particular kind of knowledge.

Lack of a value proposition: Read your pitch and ask yourself 'So What?'. Repeat as many times as necessary to refine your pitch until it resonates with your audience immediately.

If your idea is going to be built around attracting celebrity mentors or subject matter / industry experts then that's a very big challenge. What's your plan of attack for that?

I could go on, but I hope you get the point that what you are describing is a generic idea. You need to spend more time researching and refining it before anybody could provide you with any meaningful feedback about pursuing it as a business venture.

jwilberding 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the general idea, however I would consider focusing it more on being a brainstorming session rather than a lecture. As a Ph.D. student, all my interesting conversations have been with my advisor and other faculty, usually over beers or some other informal setting. I generally don't get inspired during lectures. They are more or less to develop a base of knowledge, not to generate ideas.

It is also a chance to informally reinforce or learn new concepts about specific points of your ideas while you are discussing them back and forth.

To me, that is what a mentor does. Not help you understand a tutorial or what not.

Free SQL dump with 200 million tweets from 13 million users
96 points by calufa  9 days ago   35 comments top 14
jdvolz 9 days ago 0 replies      
Calufa, next time you're in Vegas, send me a message and we'll get a beer. Thank you. You just made something I'm doing vastly more awesome.
sethish 9 days ago 4 replies      
Twitter changed their ToS to explicitly disallow distributing twitter dumps like this: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/the-end-of-twapperkeep...

I was a part of the webecology project (and 140kit.com, both of which gave large twitter datasets to researchers.

StavrosK 9 days ago 0 replies      
ck2 9 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, how many days back does it go?

Twitter search still only goes back 10 days in 2011, so how deep is this data?

calufa 9 days ago 0 replies      
import to mysql:

bunzip2 < my_database.sql.bz2 | mysql -h localhost -u root -p my_database

aonic 9 days ago 2 replies      
Thanks! More interested in the scraper.. is it open-source? If yes, where can we download it? If not, can you write about your experience in building it?
JeeyoungKim 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anybody want to share MD5 hash of the file? I'm trying to decompress this file, and I'm keep getting an error.
JeeyoungKim 8 days ago 0 replies      
Hey guys, what would be the most sane way to work with this dataset? If it's 173GB, it's probably hard to load it up in a single machine.
nametoremember 6 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, I just saw this. I would have liked to use it. How can Twitter make you take it down when it is all public information anyway?
laprise 9 days ago 0 replies      
Neat ! here some tips for creating a kick ass graph visualization: http://www.martinlaprise.info/2010/02/15/visualize-your-own-...
juiceandjuice 9 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, I just downloaded that whole archive in a minute.
calufa 9 days ago 1 reply      
8maki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh it's awesome dump. Are these mainly from US?
chrisjsmith 9 days ago 1 reply      
All that is meaningless chatter between people and information about bathroom habits. Perhaps if we pooled that distributed effort into something constructive, the world would be a better place.
Ask HN: Supporting my startup with side gig - need advice
5 points by Rhodee  2 days ago   discuss
How can I A/B test my salon's website to increase real world traffic?
5 points by bdickason  2 days ago   10 comments top 5
necenzurat 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
did you tried foursquare specials, hotpot and all of the online to offline tools?
hammock 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are you just looking for a way to measure? A couple ideas:

Printable coupons redeemable only in-store

Promo code that people say at the register

Reply cards that ask how did you hear about us

ippisl 2 days ago 1 reply      
simple ways :
1. use different phone numbers , and measure calls.

2. show the phone number/numbers only on a specific page , and measure conversions to that page. this is a reasonable approximation for calls,

more complex:
google "call tracking" , many providers offer tools.

paraschopra 1 day ago 0 replies      
We have numerous case studies online: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/case-studies.php

I am sure some of them will be relevant to you.

damoncali 2 days ago 1 reply      
Use different phone numbers / email accounts to track conversions. I'd be shocked if you had enough traffic to do meaningful AB testing, however.
MongoDB comparison and Experience
3 points by pejman  1 day ago   4 comments top
andrewguenther 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you are looking to do anything with mobile applications, I would recommend CouchDB. CouchBase has a version of it that includes Android and iOS libraries for automatic sync.

I know you are asking about Mongo, but I feel like this might be helpful.

Ask HN: Starting your day at office
3 points by royalghost  1 day ago   5 comments top 3
PoundSterling 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I'm working an early shift, then chances are I won't have time before I have to leave, but if I'm starting later then I can waste a good hour or two just clicking about while I wake up. I don't spend much time using a computer once I'm at work but that's definitely for the best considering how little work I get done at home when I'm sat in front of one.
andrewguenther 1 day ago 0 replies      
I spend maybe half an hour in the morning, and then a portion of my lunch break typically.
baconface 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love having a solid hour for this, but can't always make it happen.
Open-source Patent Troll
31 points by azoff  6 days ago   21 comments top 15
wavesplash 6 days ago 1 reply      
Issued patent != patent pending. Patent pending has no legal standing and is non-defensible. It just means something was submitted and may or may not be approved sometime in the future (possibly years from now). Talk to a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure they'll tell you to ignore him. If the troll in question hasn't actually submitted a patent you could sue for damages.

If you were hit with an actual patent claim, the first question you ask is what is the patent # and which specific claims are they referencing. Then go back to any referenced patents and see if the claims are unique to the new patent. Of the unique claims then you can make a case if your product infringes or not.

gnok 6 days ago 0 replies      
Please do this the right way. Any issue concerning IP and claims of infringement or violation of rights requires due diligence on both sides. At a very minimum, you should read the transcript of Andrew Tridgell's talk on patent defense at http://news.swpat.org/2010/03/transcript-tridgell-patents.

That your software is open-source is entirely orthogonal to the issue of infringement.

ceejayoz 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone tried out RazDog.com? It's basically an entire site as a JavaScript carousel - if anyone can dig up info on the pending patent it should be incredibly easy to shoot down with prior art.

Horrific usability, too.

sorbus 6 days ago 1 reply      
So, they have pending patents. And they think that your software is infringing on those pending patents. Those pending patents, which, being pending, have not yet been granted, and are therefor useless as far as litigation goes. Which makes your existing software prior art. Hmm.

Depending on how you're feeling, either tell the guy to fuck off, or try to get those (pending) patents invalidated.

noonespecial 6 days ago 1 reply      
Don't ignore him! Its would be a very good thing if you'd just call him and explain the prior art to him and gently steer him toward not wasting his time and money pursuing a patent that won't be granted.

Of course you might head off the serendipitous granting of a ridiculous patent that might fall into the hands of a real troll ala Lodsys later. If he refuses to listen to reason, you might look into sending the prior art to the patent office in reference to his application.

tvon 6 days ago 0 replies      
That you write OSS is fairly irrelevant to the situation, so far as I can tell. IANAL, granted.
wkearney99 6 days ago 0 replies      
Also note it's a crime to claim patent pending without an actual patent in the process. Of which there would be a number. They really frown on making false patent claims.
woodall 6 days ago 1 reply      
Have you read over the afore mentioned patent?
sukuriant 6 days ago 0 replies      
IANAL, but it may be good to get the patents he claims to have claim to, and discuss this with a lawyer.
lynxed 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a patent lawyer, but from what I can pull up from my patent law class notes:
Troll is quite possibly blocked by the public use doctrine. Anything that's been in public use without being patented for a year or more goes into the public domain (35 usc 102(b) for anyone who cares). If he filed on or after June 23, 2010, he failed.
cperciva 6 days ago 0 replies      
I had an email along these lines last year -- someone accusing me of violating his patent application.

Just junk it.

madmaze 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is where the discussion comes in about whether or not to abolish software patents. It is disgusting that patent trolls go after OpenSource.
azoff 4 days ago 0 replies      
UPDATE: Mr. Troll decided to email me again today, slightly different tone:



There are several options available to you along with an opportunity for you and or your company to make some money regarding your software. Please call me by Wednesday at [ Mr. Troll Hotline ].


[ Mr. Troll ]


azoff 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, thanks for all the feedback.

I'm happy there are others who have dealt with this before. I hate to sound like a bleeding heart, but it is really sad that any troll can effectively axe an open-sourced project like this. I really hope that it won't come to litigation.

dools 6 days ago 0 replies      
"In fact, the most common reaction we hear is Wow! literally."

Strike 2, RazDog.

Ask HN: Possible to recover from being a frustrated mediocrity for 30+ years?
16 points by throwaway1729  4 days ago   12 comments top 10
noonespecial 4 days ago 1 reply      
I do about three hours of work in a month, seriously...I'm floating along on some contracts but It's only a matter of time before I'm found out.

I've had a few extended periods like this now (I'm only mid 30's myself). I guess I have/had a different perspective. I called these times "success".

I do admit, it is a drink best consumed in moderation. I worked my ass off to get those contracts that allowed me to float, but before long, I forgot that initial effort and started to unconsciously believe that I'd lucked into the whole thing, was an impostor and would soon be exposed.

A few things that helped:

Every once in a while I'd go up to the corporate headquarters of my biggest contract and have a look around. It only took a few minutes to realize that my few hours per month were giving them more value than the paper-tied tps-report generating slackers they paid $75k gave them working full time. Even if I was the goof I felt myself in my darkest imaginations, they were still getting their money's worth.

I volunteered. I found some places that needed help desperately, and I was the smartest guy in the room, and I helped out.

I networked. I found some places where I was the dumbest guy in the room and I learned everything I could.

There are two universal truths(1) no matter where you are in your journey. There are people much smarter and more motivated than you and there are people much dumber and less motivated than you. I found that putting myself in situations where I could feel the gradient and my place on it was tremendously motivating.

(1) If you happen to be Donald Knuth or Chuck Norris, you should probably just ignore this whole section.

latch 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find healthy people have more energy and are more focused. This always leads to more motivation. Do you eat well? Exercise daily? Sleep properly? I still think those are the three fundamental aspects of productivity/happiness. Of course this is a generalization - we all know fat programmers who are hugely (hahaha) successful. This shouldn't be controversial, the relationship between poor health and poor productivity is well established. Of course, you need to be honest with yourself, I've known some stupidly unhealthy people who thought they were really healthy.

More specifically to programming, we all learn differently. Some like books, some like videos, some are more hands on. Ultimately, you need to find what works for you, and spend the time and do it. There's no quick fix/easy solution. You need to spend time and get it done. I'd suggest small quick projects so that you get the benefit of iterating and learning quickly. If you aren't creative, contribute to something that interets you. Otherwise, pick something that'll solve a real problem you have and go for it. Even something as simple as documenting, you know, through a blog, your process can help.

wisty 4 days ago 0 replies      
How are you able to work 30 hours a week? Are you lucky to be in some kind of management position, or do you have some valuable skill that could be productised?

As for motivation ... it's like a muscle. You can't lift 150 pounds if you've been lying in bed all day for a year. Don't expect to work a 12 hour day, either. Just get better.

staunch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Change your environment. Get a job working for a really demanding (but intelligent/thoughtful) person.

Someone who's sort of Steve Jobs meets the drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket.

Someone who will demand you push yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

Even a few months of working for someone like this can have an amazing effect on a person. Kind of like when you see someone come back from a military boot camp.

Definitely not the only way, but it really does work.

argus 4 days ago 0 replies      
Motivation has two dimensions: goal attractiveness, goal expectancy.

Goal attractiveness is basically how much do you want it and goal expectancy is how much you believe you can attain the goal.

As you can see they are two perpendicular forces which directly affect the direction your motivation/dedication towards attaining goals are pointing.

I don't know you, but a common problem many people face is that they look at the world around them and focus on other people's achievements and wish for the same. The only problem is on the motivation dimensions their scales get way tipped over..

As an example, you may look at what is happening on HN and wish for what Andrew Mason is doing with Groupon or Zuckerberg has achieved with FB. The issue is that while that goal is extremely attractive the expectancy of you achieving it is very negative and so the motivation vector ends up pointing in the negative direction.

Developing this argument as I go along, I would therefore say that the correct approach is to take stock of what your current strengths are, what your challenges are and strategize a plan. Namely one that sets you up with small bite sized goals which are positively geared for your current situation and continually update the goal statuses. Maybe have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and half yearly goals and work on them.

THEREFORE, you can definitely change, you just need to have realistic goals and discipline to tough it out.

keiferski 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stop focusing on the results (being accomplished, getting things done, etc.) and learn to enjoy the process. Don't worry about working so you can enjoy a reward; learn to enjoy the work itself (or find something else that you do enjoy).

Life's too short to waste time today for a potential reward tomorrow.

evangineer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Find other people's projects and/or ventures that you genuinely believe in and can honestly contribute and commit to. Then get stuck in. By doing this, you will build up your skills and more importantly build up your work habits.
elb0w 4 days ago 0 replies      
Time and Experience should not go hand and hand, so dont let that stress you out. I have worked with some devs in their 40+ that are horrible.

It seems like you know what you want, you are just afraid to try and lack the motivation.

My advice, step away from the computer for a couple hours a day. Take a walk or do some exercise, you would be amazed at how much that changes your mindset for the better.

Unfortunately there is no magic words of advice or book you can read to solve your problems. Sometimes you just need to man up, put the cards on the table and do what needs to get done.

Best of luck, hang in there.

abbasmehdi 3 days ago 0 replies      
You haven't found your passion, something worth dying for. Like they say, you only start living once you start living outside of yourself.
johnny22 4 days ago 1 reply      
Assumption: I bet you'd step up the plate if somebody actually depended on you.

EDIT: i don't mean have kids :)

Ask HN: is our 10% conversion rate typical for launchrock?
8 points by petervandijck  4 days ago   3 comments top 2
jaymstr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, I'm one of the LaunchRock founders.

I'll let you know a dirty little secret. We're not currently filtering bots from our own stats, so it's even higher than that. Since the current app is mostly what we built over a few weeks after our Startup Weekend, it's missing a few details like that.

We're adding filtering in the next version of the app which we'll be opening to the public.

socialmediaking 3 days ago 0 replies      
never used launchrock, but 10% conversion for anything is good.
       cached 18 June 2011 04:05:01 GMT