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Ask HN: What will happen to Google when somebody disrupts AdWords?
25 points by gfaremil  5 hours ago   28 comments top 12
ChuckMcM 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Short answer: As long as the portion isn't dominant in your portfolio, and you re-evaluate it at least twice a year and rebalance, its all good.

Longer answer, looking at Googles rates of return on capital is like watching a very, very, fast train driving along straight track. Google's nominal operating mode burns a lot of money, that burn rate leaves them vulnerable to down turns. What the most likely scenario is not that they get disrupted so much as others meet them at parity but run at an operationally much more efficient way. Say that M$/Bing inexorably creeps up into a neck and neck race with Google in terms of search reach, and the combination pushes down advertising rates. The spending brakes go on at the 'plex, the company changes, the bean counters rise in power beyond reasonable measure, and the company 'flips'. Out go the creative, inventive, people and in come the 'lifers' who know how to make their job look important without actually doing anything. The mechansim which makes this happen is really hard to avoid since from the board room things look fine, even after they aren't fine. And there is a fine balance of disbelief that is held between the employees and their condition that, once disrupted, cannot be re-established. Cisco, HP (Tandem), Sun, and Intel are all places where I've known folks who lived through the flip. Nothing is the same afterwards, if you can't re-invent yourself like Apple did, it gets a lot harder.

That being said, there is (as others point out) usually some time to cover for that.

I cannot stress enough however that financial planning is serious business and you should take your time with it. I believed them when they said if I started putting money in my 401K in 1986 that it would be worth multiple millions by now thanks to the 'miracle' of compound interest. They missed the part about the 'miracle' of the nations worst economic debacle deleting that value in a heartbeat. I don't believe them any more :-(

hardtke 4 hours ago 2 replies      
AdWords is a natural monopoly, so it is unlikely that someone will ever create a successful competing keyword driven advertising network. In order to generate high prices for the search ads, Google needs to have multiple bidders competing against each other for each keyword. Advertisers will only bid if there is lots of inventory to buy (lots of searches on those keywords). 10% of the search market does not generate 10% of search advertising revenue because of this lack of market participants -- on second tier pay-per-click advertising networks whole swaths of keywords are not competitively bid. The Bing-Yahoo search merger was an attempt to address this problem, but it hasn't worked so far according to the most recent financial reports. Google still generates 50% more revenue per search than Microsoft due to the network effects.
pigbucket 3 hours ago 1 reply      
If a company has access to hundreds of millions of profiles, can figure out an effective way of delivering targeted ads, and can effect a fundamental shift in the way most people find content on the web (i.e., a shift from keyword search to social search/sharing), then Google's advertising revenue could fall significantly. The obvious existing threat is Facebook. Facebook ads are not good enough yet, but could be relatively soon. I think the question for Google is whether it can catch up on social before Facebook catches up on search and ad targeting.
ori_b 4 hours ago 3 replies      
What happens when Adwords gets disrupted? Well, first, it will take a long time for the competitor to establish itself. Businesses don't change overnight. Second, even if the competitor manages to steal ALL of Google's income overnight, Google has billions in the bank.

There will be years for them to find a way to recover, or, in the absolute worst case, years for you to reinvest.

hemancuso 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You should be asking yourself not about disruption, but what would happen if GOOG can't figure out how to keep AdWords revenue increasing. Like other commenters note: nobody has ended up disrupting Windows on the desktop, but Microsoft never figured out a new stream of growth to fuel growth in their share price.

If your primary concern is share price growth, look at a smaller cap stock - or try to convince yourself that Android or one of their other projects will ever move the revenue needle.

benologist 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course it's possible - the giants of today aren't always the giants of tomorrow.

But like the other giant corps their demise will be a very slow process with plenty of time and capital to find their next big thing.

dave_sullivan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Not to make a "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers" type argument, but I don't think it's Adwords being disrupted that you should worry about. As long as people use Google to search for things, particularly goods and services, Adwords will be an effective way for businesses of all sizes to reach their target audience at a perfect time (when they're actively searching for what you're selling) and the auction system adwords uses automatically helps maximize profits across different keywords/categories.

That being said, not sure what your investment goals are, but if you're looking for the long term I'd suggest something more along the lines of a few broad ETFs that cover a few different markets, rather than trying to place a bet on only a handful of high flying companies... basically, are you looking to invest or gamble? Either is ok, but they are different...

edit: seeing a couple other comments, I'll admit that adblocking being included automatically in a browser that gains dominant marketshare is something that would be terribly disruptive to a lot of businesses, google included. What's interesting there, is it would essentially destroy a tremendous amount of revenue for large and small companies across many industries without offsetting it with a new profit center. It wouldn't be like cars replacing carriages, it would be like teleporters you can assemble at home with $5 of drugstore components replacing the auto industry. I guess consumers would win, but they'd probably have to start paying for gmail and google maps access...

fanboy123 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Diversification is usually a huge waste of money. It is hard for one company/culture to make money doing lots of things. Be glad they know their niche is ads and that they are doing everything they can to protect their castle (as a shareholder).

Relentlessness will enable them to hold on to their position for longer than other companies would. However, all companies will eventually fall to competitors as t approaches inf.

cjoh 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Google will be in the transportation and shipping business by then.
jefflinwood 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I've wondered this myself - what happens when ad blocking technology becomes integrated into mobile devices, or the general public starts to use it because the newest, shiniest browser now bundles it by default?
mmurph211 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Google will buy them out.
ristretto 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Brain scanning devices that will be used to navigate web browsers. ETA 5 years.
Ask HN: Good Sci-Fi involving CS/InfoTheory?
8 points by mkrecny  3 hours ago   7 comments top 6
andrewcooke 2 hours ago 0 replies      
some of the older greg egan stuff (he was a programmer). i can't remember any titles, but a look at the summaries should make things clear (or his site - http://gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au/)

[edit: ok, so after looking there (ow my eyeballs!) permutation city is one i remember, and there was also a collection of short stories...]

polyfractal 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Anathem by Neal Stephenson is tangentially related to Information Theory. More abstract/concepual math and general philosophy than CS/InfoTheory.

An excellent novel, highly recommended.

Rabidgremlin 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The Vernor Vinge books are excellent...
SamReidHughes 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality has some good CS-related moments.
johnnyo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Have you read Cryptonomicon? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon
keefe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
william gibson...
AMA HN: I launched my profitable startup one year ago today.
30 points by podman  8 hours ago   30 comments top 11
iqster 7 hours ago 1 reply      
NYC is different than the Bay area with respect to moonlighting/IP-ownership issues when you have a full-time job and you do projects. Did you clear this with your employer, were you in a contract that didn't have restrictions, did you hope for the best, etc. ? Thanks for sharing!
djb_hackernews 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What is your infrastructure like? AWS? shared hosting? self hosted?

Are you using any interesting solutions for storage of the video?

Are you using any interesting solutions for streaming the video?

vorador 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Do you have collaborators ? Did you take care of everything or did you outsource some tasks to freelancers (for instance, design, etc.) ?
djb_hackernews 7 hours ago 1 reply      
How did you determine this was a service businesses needed? It appears to me they could do it all on any number of other well known video hosting services.
rosariom 5 hours ago 1 reply      
How long did you wait until you quit your job? Where did the idea come from? Did you outsource the web design?
Swannie 8 hours ago 1 reply      
How long before you were profitable? Have you managed to maintain growth since then?
clark-kent 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What is your technology stack?
jakecarpenter 7 hours ago 2 replies      
How did you get your first customer? How much of your time (%) is marketing vs. sys admin vs. coding vs business?
cynusx 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you funded? Where are you based? How many employees?
adyus 8 hours ago 1 reply      
How long from first line of code to launch? And what were your expenses for that time?

In other words, what was the bootstrap amount you needed?

clark-kent 7 hours ago 1 reply      
How long did it take you from idea to launch?
Ask HN: Have you ever used a software patent as a reference?
3 points by lmarinho  1 hour ago   4 comments top 2
ig1 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
When I was working in finance I used to read patents filed by exchanges so I could figure out how their matching algorithms worked, but never to find out how to solve a particular problem.
marssaxman 1 hour ago 1 reply      
If you read a patent, you or your company becomes liable for triple damages, since it is considered willful infringement. Since you can't know what patents you might already be accidentally "infringing", the sane policy is to avoid reading or learning about any patents. This is explicit policy at many technology companies.
Ask HN: How Long To Stay in Boring Job?
3 points by temp8675309  1 hour ago   2 comments top 2
untog 1 hour ago 0 replies      
By the way you describe the industry, it looks like there aren't a ton of opportunities you find interesting even if you can ignore the transfer restriction.

My answer to your title question is "as long as it takes for you to get a better job". If the situation is as you describe it then no-one would blame you for leaving so soon after starting.

cpeterso 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Working somewhere less than a year is a yellow flag to future employers, but it is not a big problem if you have a reasonable story. If you switch jobs again, you might even consider omitting the defense contractor job from your resume. Not because a short job is bad necessarily, but it would give you more room on your resume to highlight your other work experience (and present a simpler, more linear "story" for busy recruiters reading through tons of resumes).
Ask HN: Links expiring *really* fast ...
2 points by ColinWright  1 hour ago   1 comment top
wmf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I would guess that HN traffic has increased. Time for pg to increase the cache size again.
Ask HN: Rails for Django developers?
2 points by levicampbell  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
geekfactor 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I was in a very similar boat two months ago and went through Michael Hartl's Rails Tutorial (http://railstutorial.org) and found it to be a great resource. You'll be able to get through it pretty quickly with your Django background, you'll learn some good stuff about workflow and testing in the process, and you'll know enough to build your own basic Rails project when you're done (with lots of reference-checks back to Rails Tutorial of course).

I also played with Rails for Zombies but found the pace to be a bit slow with the emphasis on cool multimedia and the simulator.

On the fly github issues (chrome extension)
2 points by mightymike107  2 hours ago   discuss
Show HN: One-Stop inbox for customer communication.
10 points by sebastianhoitz  7 hours ago   6 comments top 3
ColinWright 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Personal opinions - first impressions ...

I hate video - I far prefer a single, elegant diagram with a small amount of text:

| Twitter | ------.
+---------+ \
\ Something here
+----------+ \ to show that
| Facebook | -------------> Suplify Timeline you can easily
+----------+ / search or index
/ in the timeline
+-------+ /
| Email | --------'

I don't care why you did it - I really, really only care about the pain you will take away. Is this an aspirin? Or is it a vitamin? Will you take away pain? Or will you help me work stronger and faster?

Try not to say "Both" - try to be more focussed.

I've not watched the video, and you may answer this there, but how can I find things quickly and easily? Do I search with a text box?

These are my instant reactions, those were my immediate questions, and from your landing page I can't see how to get them answered. I can watch the video, but I have no idea if that will answer my questions. I'd like to see from the page a link or graphic that makes it clear that clicking there really will answer my question(s).

Hope that helps.

sebastianhoitz 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Clickable link: http://suplify.me
ianpurton 5 hours ago 1 reply      

I couldn't see any pricing information. Without that I wouldn't normally sign up to try it out.

Show HN: Liberate â€" Painlessly add user editable content to static HTML webpages
8 points by freshlog  21 hours ago   6 comments top 2
callmeed 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Watching the video, my first thought is that it's very anti-seo (because it looks like you're inserting the dynamic content via JS).

If that's the case, I'd never recommend this for pages/content where seo is critical.

So, as much as I hate WordPressâ€"and I really doâ€"I don't see this as a viable alternative. I need more convincing ...

BTW, I don't want to just pee in your cheerios, so I will admit the actual execution/tech aspect is impressive.

mtogo 19 hours ago 1 reply      
How is this different from remote CMS systems like cushycms and pagelime?
Ask HN: Getting started in server programming
4 points by CJefferson  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
getsat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Learn the differences between select/poll/epoll/kqueue. You don't want to waste time using select() when you're intending to handle lots of concurrent clients or use epoll/kqueue when you have a limited number of connections and care about throughput.

For simple servers, I use Ruby + EventMachine[0], but there's also C++ bindings for it.

Since I use Ruby, I'd simply use Mongrel[1] within my server to serve HTTP docs and all my Ruby data structures can be serialized into JSON by just including a json lib and calling #to_json. I'm sure there's similar embeddable HTTP servers and JSON libs for C++.

  require 'json'
{:numbers => (1..10).to_a, :foo => 'bar'}.to_json
=> "{\"numbers\":[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10],\"foo\":\"bar\"}"

[0] https://github.com/eventmachine/eventmachine/wiki

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongrel_(web_server)

stonemetal 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Since you are familiar with python why not pick up one of the python web frameworks(i.e. Django, flask, pyramid). As far as being afraid of the security aspects, don't be it is just a game. No one will die if your web game is hacked. On the other hand read up on web app security. Since it is something every web app will have to deal with, frameworks try to make securing your app easy.
Ask HN: Hosting trade-offs and options
3 points by CarolineW  1 day ago   7 comments top 2
JoachimSchipper 1 day ago 1 reply      
You'll get better answers if you tell people what you need - lots of capacity, good support, low price, PHP, Rails, Python?
CarolineW 1 day ago 1 reply      
PS: I should add that I'm based in the UK, and would prefer a UK-based company.
Ask HN: What has been your most profitable side/weekend project to date?
161 points by riskish  9 days ago   156 comments top 53
conesus 9 days ago 4 replies      
NewsBlur - http://www.newsblur.com - a visual RSS feed reader with intelligence. I have a few hundred paying users and a few thousands free users. I develop it almost entirely on the train, which I'm on for almost an hour and a half everyday.

It's a ton of work and is profitable in the sense that the hundreds of dollars a month in server costs are just a bit more than covered by the premium users. But otherwise, it did help land me a number of great connections, both in NYC and SF, where I just moved.

I code in the open. NewsBlur is entirely on GitHub: http://github.com/samuelclay. The iPhone app I'm working on is also there, so some folks use it as a way to send me issues, others go so far as to add their own pet features. It's kind of neat to see a community spring up around the code itself.

nonrecursive 9 days ago 2 replies      
Clean Up Your Mess (http://www.visualmess.com/) is just a mini visual design tutorial and not a product, but it was a side project and it's made a few hundred bucks from amazon ads. I did not intend to make money from it, so it was nice surprise that I did.
patio11 9 days ago 1 reply      
Hello World attached to a random number generator.
larsberg 9 days ago 2 replies      
Made a wireless stumbler for iOS in about two days that sold a bit over $100k total.

Admittedly, I spent probably another day in random debugging for version 3-ish of it (just went walkabout in Chicago with a debug build, logging AP details when it had bad behavior). And then ungodly amounts of time answering e-mails and on the phone with the iOS app review team, but that was long after the "weekend project" phase.

Osiris 9 days ago 4 replies      
I only have 1 side project, which is a utility for Windows laptops (a battery meter). It does about $1500 to $2k per month in sales. I've been thinking about expanding it to have a Enterprise (B2B) product.

I'm trying to get another idea I have into a startup, but I haven't been able to get that off the ground.

sahillavingia 9 days ago 7 replies      
Gumroad - http://gumroad.com/ - right now I'm trying to turn it from a million dollar business (current valuation) to a billion dollar one. :)
callmeed 9 days ago 2 replies      
An instructional DVD I made on SEO for wedding photographers and their websites (http://photographyseo.com).

Recorded screen casts and mastered it in iDVD. Did a run of 1,000 at Discmakers for about $900. Sold out the initial run (@ $79 per disc) in under 2 years. Now we just one-off them or give them an option of viewing online.

Looking back (or if I do it again), I would probably do it as just an ebook or online videos to avoid shipping hassles.

Regardless, it's been a fairly easy ~$80k.

(BTW, if any HN folk want to see it for research purposes, let me know)

albertogh 9 days ago 2 replies      
I made an iOS application for reading comics in literally 6 hours. I released it back in May and it's currently earning me ~$1000 a month via ads. Impressions are still increasing by ~25K each day, so profits are likely to increase in the coming months.
CRASCH 9 days ago 1 reply      
I once did a fixed bid contract that was sized by someone else at $150K.

I completed the bulk of the work over three days. I spent about 40 hours on it total including the production roll out.

I most likely could not pull that off again because I had very specific domain knowledge. I knew the software I was modifying and I knew exactly what to do over all of the various systems.

JesseAldridge 9 days ago 0 replies      
I've made about $100 in ad revenue over the lifetime of this game:


Almost covered hosting costs!

peteforde 9 days ago 0 replies      
Hampton Catlin (creator of Haml and Sass) was working with us at Unspace when he went home for the weekend and came back having written iWik.

He made $60k or so before ultimately selling it to WikiPedia and becoming their director of mobile development.

Not too shabby!

MattBearman 9 days ago 2 replies      
My most profitable side project is actually my newest - http://bugmuncher.com - it's been live about a week and I'm already quite profitable. Admittedly it's a very low overhead project (costs around $30 / month to run), but so far it's looking good.

I think the reason it's doing better than anything else I've launched is because its my first one that isn't entirely ad supported. My advice to anyone looking to launch a side project is try to go for something people will pay a monthly fee for as opposed ad revenue.

dangrossman 9 days ago 2 replies      
I wrote a WordPress plugin in about 4 hours to run a website listing web hosting company reviews. Simple affiliate stuff. The plugin was generic, it would add star ratings to WordPress comments and display average ratings for the post and such. I used the plugin to run my own site, then also built it a little site to sell to anyone else that wanted it. In 18 months it sold over $200,000 in licenses before I sold rights to the plugin to another individual for $90,000.
petercooper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Back in 2005 I decided to implement a tag-based source code snippets repository over a weekend. Mostly as a way to keep my hand in with Rails. So I did. It went fine and built up over a couple of years to serious traffic but only about $800/mo in Adsense. I sold it to Dzone for low/mid 5 figures and they still run it (but they have proper big name advertisers).
zbruhnke 9 days ago 0 replies      
I started working at what was supposed to be a contract job to fix some computers for a guys business (at the time it was literally just a place that made copies) back in 2007.

I was still in college but me stopping in and telling the guy how much some of these customers having boxes of paper copied could benefit by having them scanned and organized led to me having my own company and employees as a sophomore in College which did just that.

I eventually built a host of sharepoint plugins which sold for a nice exit while I was still in school. I still havent finished school yet, but man did I have some fun with the money lol

ForrestN 9 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com and http://www.contemporaryartvenues.com earn about $2,000 per month, and indirectly generate lots of web design business.
mvkel 9 days ago 1 reply      
I made a very simple iOS gym log app for my own needs and decided to sell it in the App Store. I think I've generated almost $5k in revenue. So, not a 'business', but it certainly paid for my developer account! :)
jarin 9 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, so as far as non-client work goes:

The first iPhone app I ever made was a very simple Shopify app for seeing your orders and checking inventory. I dropped the ball on keeping it up to date because of client work and Shopify ended up buying a competitor to make into the official (free) app, but at its peak it made about $2000/month and up until I pulled it from the App Store a few weeks ago it was making around $300/month.

herrherr 9 days ago 3 replies      
getmetricmail.com creates simple Google Analytics reports and sends them to you as a PDF.
Currently 3000 free users. A handfull pays, so it makes about $100 per month. A good example of Freemium gone wrong.
euroclydon 9 days ago 0 replies      
Cupcake Wrapper Creator. Stats over the first five months:

26,358 Pageviews

4,837 Unique Visitors

235 Trial Users

20 Paying Customers

$283 in Receipts

Over 4000 Designs Created

Over 7,000 PDFs Downloaded

duck 9 days ago 1 reply      
Hacker Newsletter - http://www.hackernewsletter.com

Sold about $1000 worth of advertising so far and have had more than that in donations. Lots of ideas to do more.

ja27 9 days ago 1 reply      
After a football-related post on my personal blog got a surprising amount of search traffic, I threw up a quick Blogger blog with similar posts for a few football teams. The traffic rolled in. I threw on some more and eventually added baseball which was a much bigger source of traffic. Right now baseball season is earning me about $10 a week. I think I've spent less than 30 hours on it total. Not a great return on my time so far but it just keeps cranking away and Google keeps paying me. I've certainly spent more time on projects that have earned zero.
dmpatierno 9 days ago 1 reply      
iScrob - http://iscrob.com - a Last.fm scrobbler for iOS. It's free with ads, or $5 with no ads. I released it almost exactly 1 year ago, and it's averaged about $20/day in revenue since then.

It's unique because there's some trickery involved getting around the strict iOS backgrounding requirements, and most of my competitors haven't done a great job with it.

jdg 9 days ago 0 replies      
Boxcar (http://boxcar.io) started out as a weekend project. The prototype (v1) was literally built in a weekend.

Now we have a great team, have raised a seed round and are killing it in general!

sfalbo 9 days ago 0 replies      
I made a juror selection app for the iPad that generates about $1K / month


wensing 9 days ago 1 reply      
I started Stormpulse purely as a fun hobby project in late 2004. Incorporated in 2007. Can't share revenue numbers, but this year we should be profitable with a team of 5.
dpcan 9 days ago 1 reply      
My android games, hands down.
kevinburke 9 days ago 0 replies      
http://goodmorningcmc.com I sold ad space at the top of the email to students for $5 per day, to about 500 students. Made about $250. I had other motivations than money but it was still nice to earn some back.
phatbyte 9 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.jpictag.com/ A Jquery plugin for image tagging.
It had some cool steady sales for over a year, which gather a reasonable money.
einaregilsson 7 days ago 1 reply      
My current hobby is writing simple cardgames in javascript. Currently I have Hearts - http://www.hearts-cardgame.com , Idiot/Shithead http://www.shithead-cardgame.com and Crazy Eights http://crazyeights-cardgame.com .

Am getting my first payout from Google Adsense this month, about 120 $. Which isn't much, but they're pure client side games, require no maintenance or anything so I'll just keep getting a small check every month :)

diolpah 9 days ago 0 replies      
My current company, which operates a number of ecommerce sites, started out as a side project. It's profitable, but it is no longer a side project, so it does not exactly count.
aeden 9 days ago 1 reply      
I started DNSimple (https://dnsimple.com/) a year ago and it's doing pretty well. It's a side project but I put a lot into it, so it's really like a second job. I currently put all of the money back into it rather than paying myself, so profitable might be pushing it.
chime 9 days ago 3 replies      
I did some stuff one afternoon about 4-5 years ago and it continues to pay my mortgage ever since. It's the goose that lays the golden egg and under no circumstances do I mess with it.
daimyoyo 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great stuff here. Thank you for the inspiration to keep going. As an aside, my only side project that has made me any $ is a blog from which I've earned $0.24. Not enough to withdraw from, but better than nothing.
csomar 9 days ago 0 replies      
I made a few JavaScript scripts that I'm selling on CodeCanyon and the last month I made around $200. I'm thinking of expanding the business, but this time in ThemeForest building WordPress Themes.
ebcase 5 days ago 2 replies      
Domainr -- http://domai.nr/ -- a search engine we built for finding available domain names.

~80% of its revenue is registrar commissions from successful referrals (domain name purchases, hosting, ssl certs, etc.), and the other 20% is from ads (from adpacks.com).

We launched it in 2008, and both traffic and revenue have been growing slowly but steadily ever since. These days it's covering our respective apt rents (in the Bay Area) each month.

Birejji 9 days ago 0 replies      
Birejji - http://birejji.com Was earning $100/day with adsense as a normal chat site (with 2M+ impressions per Month), but adsense banned the site due to "fraudulent clicks" (I've always had a consistent CTR so no idea what happened there). Since then it's turned into a Paid to Chat site.
alexkearns 9 days ago 0 replies      
Tiki-Toki (http://www.tiki-toki.com). Web-based software to create interactive timelines. Launched four months ago. 10,000 sign-ups. About $500 a month in subscription revenue from premium accounts.
yobfountain 8 days ago 0 replies      
For a game hackathon I built an engine/CMS for creating phone-based choose your own adventure stories (http://uchoos.com). It's not actually a commercial product yet but I won $250 from twilio, so it's technically profitable.
prawn 9 days ago 1 reply      
I've got a site collating interior design photos for inspiration. Makes about US$2k+/mo fairly passively from ads. I would spend maybe 10 minutes on it every six or so months.
bearwithclaws 9 days ago 1 reply      
A print magazine that publishes existing online articles.
timsegraves 9 days ago 0 replies      
I've made $40 in pro subscriptions (2) and about $50 in ad revenue from http://www.twistertracker.com While the money isn't yet covering hosting costs I've learned a ton and managed to gain 1500+ free users and 1200+ twitter followers at @twister_tracker.

It's a pretty seasonal site so I'm hoping to grow it more next spring with additional features and a better pricing model.

voidfiles 9 days ago 0 replies      
I made http://wacchen.com in a couple of weeks. I have rewritten it a couple times since. I eventually sold it for 7k.
blazzar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just a simple office picture blog for me that earns $200-500 month:
- http://officedesigngallery.com
zvrba 9 days ago 0 replies      
This: http://zvrba.net/software/cspim.html
I didn't get any money for it, but I got a publication on a peer-reviewed conference: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?arnumber=5438...
nait 9 days ago 2 replies      
Apart from contract work, there's currently only one. It's called Snippets (http://www.snippets.eu). It replaces the caps lock key with note taking functionality.
Although I wouldn't call it profitable, still trying to figure out how to get traction.
gschwarzer 9 days ago 0 replies      
I made a silly Mac vs. PC parody video with South Park characters for a college class final project that went viral and made me a few thousand dollars through various ad deals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id_kGL3M5Cg
svigraham 9 days ago 1 reply      
I am building a learning system to feed me only content that is relevant to me.
I blogged here.
duiker101 9 days ago 0 replies      
my 30 minutes project http://hackertyper.net !
akanet 9 days ago 0 replies      
Selling videogame cheat source code to interested cheating websites: a few thousand. Was surprised to find such a robust market for that stuff.
trungonnews 9 days ago 0 replies      

No revenue because my AdSense account was banned a few years back. :(

nam 8 days ago 0 replies      
With some student colleagues we build http://sharedesk.at during last semester. Its a file sharing tool build on node.js
, was fun :)
feint 9 days ago 0 replies      
Ask YC/HN: Optimal state...
5 points by mcgyver  2 days ago   2 comments top
glimcat 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's hard to generalize this. Probably not when you've just started and probably not six years in.

The point is largely to get a kick in the pants and a clearer sense of direction. So you probably want to be far enough along that you've thoroughly explored the issues and made initial attempts at development. You also tend to want a relatively cohesive team that's used to working together.

You can reapply, so "when you get accepted" may be the easiest answer. If nothing else, the application process may help you refine your ideas.

Ask HN: How to visit GooglePlex?
5 points by albertom  2 days ago   discuss
Ask HN: Do you use antivirus on your Mac?
7 points by sheesh  2 days ago   4 comments top 4
frou_dh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have ClamXav installed and do an on-demand scan of the whole drive every so often. I don't have it set to run all the time. Never found anything.
moonlighter 2 days ago 0 replies      
No, I don't. But I'm also fairly responsible and careful what I install, run and so on.
samarudge 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I do on my MacBook (Clam), not on my iMac but all my web traffic is routed through a proxy that does virus scanning. I should probably look at getting some to cover viruses from other places
damoncali 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't even run one on windows. They cause more problems (for me, at least) than they solve.
Alternative to Paypal "Buy buttons" for European-based companies?
28 points by Nicolas___  5 days ago   30 comments top 13
ig1 5 days ago 2 replies      
I did a pretty thorough review of the players in this market, and although there are alternatives they're all worse than Paypal.

The chances of Paypal suspending your account depends a lot of what you're doing with it, if you're operating in the b2b space or if you're selling a product then you shouldn't have any problem.

Most of the companies that have had accounts suspended have tended to be doing non-standard things (asking for donations, acting as payment middle-men, etc.), if you're going to be doing something weird get Paypal to ok it upfront and put a note on your account.

You can also sweep money from Paypal to your bank on a daily basis to minimize the impact.

My second choice after Paypal would be 2co, although 2co have some pretty bizarre requirements on the UI of your purchase screen, which in practice a lot of vendors just ignore. But it made me hesitant about using them.

Depending on the nature of your customer base Amazon or Google payments might work for you as well (but these both require your customers to have an account with the respective provider).

petercooper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sort of. http://www.clickbank.com/ works fine for European vendors (certainly UK, at least) and they have a good affiliate system built-in. The key downside is you must very specifically define your 'products' through them - you can't just set up arbitrary calls to take arbitrary amounts of money, as you can with your PayPal buttons.
yread 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that one will emerge similarly to how Thawte was created to avoid cryptography export restrictions. And the founder could get very rich too and spend the money on something as cool as Ubuntu, too.
hartcw 5 days ago 0 replies      
I run a UK based company, and use three different 'Buy buttons' on my website - that is:
1. Paypal
2. Google Checkout
3. Fast Spring

I've not had any problems with any of them. Paypal and Google Checkout are comparable in price, I think its about 4% cut.

FastSpring is a bit more, about 8% I think, but it has the benefit of handling tax complications - ie. it checks where the seller is, and charges VAT accordingly. Plus it handles currency conversion so the buyer can pay in their local currency.

colin8chSE 5 days ago 1 reply      
For digital goods and subscriptions try Simplified Ecommerce. I'm the founder, here's the basics:


Integrations as easy as PayPal "BuyNow" links, beautiful customizable payment pages, affiliate marketing like ClickBank and recurring subscription billing without any programming or complicated API's.

International companies are welcome and receive weekly settlements via Bank Wire (US companies settle with ACH/ direct debit to their bank account).

You can get started right away without going through the long, complicated pain of applying and qualifying for a merchant account. Then as your business grows if you get a merchant account, the transition is seamless, as easy as submitting your new merchant account credentials. All your integrations, products, subscription plans, affiliate relationships, custom payment pages, data, reporting... stay intact.

and YOUR customers' data is YOURS, securely stored in our PCI level 1 compliant tokenized vault and is fully portable.

I'd love to hear your questions and feedback!


fastspring 4 days ago 0 replies      
FastSpring is all-inclusive and works with companies all over the world. Order pages are translated into 18 languages, end customers can pay using foreign currencies, VAT is properly collected when required, etc. For SaaS services, try SaaSy.com
citricsquid 5 days ago 3 replies      
There's a reason people still use Paypal even after all the horror stories: there is no alternative.
marquis 5 days ago 0 replies      
The horror-stories of Paypal are because of the massive market that this company has. Considering the sheer number of businesses and individuals using this, it's natural that offences get publicised. Personally I have no problem using Paypal at all, and as ig1 notes I'd only expect issues if you fit into a pattern of suspicious activity (sudden large transactions etc).
matthall28 2 days ago 1 reply      
I highly recommend AlertPay.com

It's PayPal minus the pain

grimen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Keep you eyes open on Merchii.com - launching the beta soon. Enables secure e-commerce on any website in a few minutes. The pitch on the site now is not the entire picture.
roberts_vc 5 days ago 0 replies      
vampirechicken 5 days ago 0 replies      
hm2k 5 days ago 0 replies      
You could give coinb.in a go if you wanted to accept via bitcoins rather than USD or EUR.


Ask HN: Full Time Job + Startup. HOW??
11 points by quizbiz  4 days ago   16 comments top 11
dstein 4 days ago 1 reply      
Don't kid yourself. Side projects can be done in your spare time. But a true startup will require full time dedication.
jamesbritt 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's tough. Best advice I've heard, and which works for me when I can apply it, is to pick a set time of day and religiously devote it to your start-up.

I know some comic artists with day jobs, and pretty much every one of them gets up way early and gets drawing before going off to work. If they try to leave it until later life just butts in and it never happens.

Part of this is realizing that you'll have to do without certain things. You will not be able to watch every movie, every TV show, every spots event, etc. you might like to because there just isn't time. (And if not entertainment, then other things.)

It's a sacrifice, it's work, it's hard. If you can, try to arrange your project so that you hit useful, appreciable milestones fairly often. Divide your goals into small, manageable tasks. If you can see progress you'll find more motivation to continue.

And give regular updates here on HN so we can cheer you on.

staunch 4 days ago 0 replies      
"If startup failure were a disease, the CDC would be issuing bulletins warning people to avoid day jobs." -- http://www.paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

This quote matches my personal experience as well as the experience of friends. If you really want to do a startup then do everything you can to work on it full time. Nothing will improve your odds more.

petervandijck 2 days ago 1 reply      
Most tips are about working harder.

One thing that can make all the difference is to work less. Cut features ruthlessly. Spend less time on things. Cut down to the bone of what's important to prove your concept, not all the other stuff.

darylteo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in the same boat. Graduated last year, started on my project 3 months ago, and I've barely just got a working prototype up now.

You just have to bite the bullet... work 9 to 5. Then get home, and work some more. Then work weekends.

I've tried several strategies to get myself to be more productive

- block reddit and HN (didn't last long).

- block out all external distractions;use headphones, loud music of choice. For music, try to stick to ambient stuff (classical, techno, things without lyrics). I find that songs with lyrics distracts my train of thought as well.

- have a good environment to work. If you're comfortable you'll fall into the zone a lot easier. Although, if you want to change it up a little, try and find a local coworking meetup group.

- anytime you are not working, be thinking of your business. Your startup has to be your life and soul if you want to go all the way. e.g. when you're showering, sitting on the toilet, commuting, walking or having lunch, before you sleep. On the way home you should be thinking about what you want to accomplish tonight, and aim towards that as soon as you get back.

- talk to people about it. If you're talking to people and they're not convinced, that means: a) your idea sucks and you're deluding yourself, b) your idea may have potential, but you are not confident about it enough to be able to convince other people, or c) your idea is great, but other people don't see it <-- this rarely ever happens. But ultimately, by talking to people, you face objections. Objections are the number 1 crucial factor in selling; you cannot sell someone a product if they don't tell you what they're worried about. So talking to people lets you build up a portfolio of objections that you can counter with solutions, and you'll grow more confident with your idea. More confidence = more enthusiasm and productivity.

Sure your work is going to take a hit... but if you're already working on being self-sufficient, I doubt your job is the last thing you're worried about. (Here I am writing Access VBAs, and Excel macros...)

theitgirl 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am in a similar situation. The start up bug bit me in May. I had several ideas. I picked the one I thought would be easiest.

I thought I would get my beta version out by now but it's been hard. Some changes that I have made that have helped me:

- I do not work more than 40 hours at my work anymore..even if it feels like it's the end of the world. Surprisingly, this has made me more focused at work. I do the same amount of work in a shorter amout of time.

- As other hackers have mentioned, I set up a scheduled time to work on my start-up. Initally, I began with working on the weekends but I was too distracted by other fun things that I could be doing. The times that work best for me are during lunch breaks and before/after work during weekdays.

- I made it clear to my husband that I will be busy during the weekdays but free over the weekends. This way he had no major expections of me over the weekdays. I think getting him Starcraft 2 also helped :P (j/k)

- I wanted to read books about how to start a business, google analytics, etc..I pretty much paid fines to the library without going though a chapter. Then I discovered audio books. I listen to them on my drive to work. I finished 4-hour work week in 2-2 weeks and am onto to another one.

Lessons learned for the future:

- Don't spend too much time designing the site...just get a template that has worked for others.

- Don't have deadlines at the end of the summer. I noticed that I am more busy over the weekends in the summer.

- Don't venture into new technologies if you already have skills that you can do with.

Sometimes, you just have to do both. You'll figure out the way that works best for you. Hang in there.

PonyGumbo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working nights and weekends on a project since December, and will be launching within the next two weeks. I know it's a cliche, but you just have to make time. It's like exercise - sometimes you have to wake up at 6am to get three miles in.
rick888 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's better to save enough money for 6 months to a year, and then quit. This is what I did.

When you work a regular job, it's very difficult to switch your thought process from work to startup. Not to mention the fact that you will pretty much have no free time left over (which I need to be healthy and happy).

I tried to do both..and it just didn't work for me.

keeptrying 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah its tough. Try to at least validate the market your going after. Ie get 10 people to say they will buy your product without actually coding it or coding very little of it.

IF you can do this then you can quit and start it fulltime.

Yes this is much harder than it sounds but by doing so you would have de-risked your business as much as you can by doing it part-time.

donnaware 2 days ago 0 replies      
ya gotta "burn the boats". I have done several side projects and could not keep up. while you are working 20hrs/wk or maybe 40 if you are a super hero, someone else somewhere is working on a competitive project full time and spending probably 3 times as much time as you. so they win.
fezzl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not exactly sure that you're ready to do the startup thing, with behavior like taking up an internship.
Ask HN: Startups and independents, what do you do about health insurance?
10 points by lawnchair_larry  2 days ago   15 comments top 7
veyron 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are a US citizen, you have COBRA coverage. Which can get pricey, but at least its something.

How old are you? My parents health/dental/vision coverage extends to all children until 26, and I think one of the benefits of Obama healthcare overhaul is that all health care plans must cover children until 26.

tirrellp 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have an Anthem Blue Cross (California) family plan. It has a high deductible (7500), and is attached to an HSA. Most normal routine preventative maintenance is covered. My premium is $200/month. I treat this plan as 'major medical' and sock away as much money as possible into the HSA, which I use for EVERYTHING I CAN.

As an interesting side note. I was talking to my doctor, who happens to have the same health insurance as me. He said that I am better off using my HSA in most cases. For example, his practice charges $130 for a routine visit if I pay directly from the HSA. If I charge it to my insurance, its more like $1300. Why? 1, because dealing with insurance, by his own admission, is a PITA, and 2, he will ALWAYS charge the maximum that will be covered by insurance... its how business is done. But for cash (HSA) payments, the administrative overhead is so low and the risk factors for nonpayment (insurance denies the claim, etc) are so low and the A/P cycle is so short, he would rather get paid $130 NOW (on my way out) than get $1300 90 days net IF insurance approves the claim. He said a lot of doctors and dentists do it this way and I should ALWAYS ask 'whats the cash price' because some have tiered rates like he does. Most people don't care that its cheaper to pay cash because for most people, their primary concern is out of pocket expense. Most people would rather charge their insurance $1300 so long as they don't have to pay anything than to pay $130 and not 'overpay' (albeit opaquely)

yummyfajitas 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm taking my chances.

I've already moved halfway around the world (my startup needs cheap labor) and run a much higher risk of death than in the US. Why should I worry about a financial hit on top of death?

(Amusingly, my Mom worried about the Mumbai bombings 150km away from me. In reality, she should worry about me looking the wrong way while crossing the street.)

nhangen 2 days ago 1 reply      
I bought a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan privately. For less than $500, I got full dental and medical, including maternity, for my wife and 3 children.
jmtame 2 days ago 0 replies      
In SF here and just signed up for individual health insurance, HealthNet PPO ($70/month) after getting recommended to an agent through Dave Ramsey's web site. It's a high deductible plan (around $7,500), but the premiums seem low. I personally feel less at risk of being in the hospital; I don't commute right now; I'm a fairly healthy individual. I would have signed up for the Health Savings Account, but it was a bit more expensive. Maybe later.
jbhelms 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you have a Tax ID and at least two people that want the insurance, you can get a small business policy. Just do a google search for brokers.
dlapiduz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to have an international insurance with bupa.com. They are very good and not that expensive but I believe you need to have an address outside the US
Code visualization tools for python
5 points by ms4720  3 days ago   2 comments top
Ask HN: What would you like built on top of the G+ API when it is released?
11 points by adrianwaj  5 days ago   10 comments top 9
joakin 2 days ago 0 replies      
An easier contacts organizer.

Not for tech savvy but for regular people. A relative of mine has recently switched to an android phone and finds a real hassle to complete all contacts and categorize them (as in circles).

A well done contact manager could be of great value.

Also, twitter and posterous publishing to g+ would be great

jjhageman 5 days ago 1 reply      
A way to post on other networks that brings the people reading those posts and their feedback back into G+.

The last thing I want is to auto-post a G+ post on Facebook, and trigger an interesting conversation there that I don't participate in. And I don't want to turn G+ into a megaphone where I'm simply talking at people without enabling them to talk back. That's not a conversation.

theitgirl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I use Gmail to take down random thoughts or notes about different business ideas that I have...mainly because of the search functionality. I started using G+ for the same purpose. It would be awesome to be able to search through the different streams.
lion0 3 days ago 0 replies      
A newer better interface... the feed is too hard to read.
A native application for your choice of OS would be nice too.
bennyfreshness 3 days ago 0 replies      
a matchmaker app so my friends can help me actually get a date
namank 5 days ago 0 replies      
Integrate Facebook Like into G+ posts and G+ +1 on FB posts
aherlambang 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am planning to build an iPad app for it, if it hasn't existed yet after the API release
thesorrow 4 days ago 0 replies      
An app that use the sparks feature to suggest new friends :)
Delsonic 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to see a Microsoft Outlook contacts importer.
Loopt has invalid SSL cert?
2 points by hyperberry  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
d0ne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't post the screenshot directly to HN. However, you may be able to contact Loopt on their support page: http://loopt.zendesk.com/forums or via there twitter @loopt
jrsmith1279 1 day ago 0 replies      
It might be that you need to update Safari to get the latest root certificate authorities. I'm on 5.0.5 on 10.6.8 and don't have the problem.
Ask HN: What are some great examples of a Minimum Viable Product?
73 points by Ade_Lack  13 days ago   62 comments top 30
jballanc 13 days ago 2 replies      
The very first iPhone.

I feel like sometimes people confuse Minimum Viable Product with Minimum Sellable Product. That is, MVP is not about building the smallest thing that someone will pay you money for. It's about cutting out all the pieces that might fall onto the 20 side of the Pareto principle. It's about resolving any 50-50 decisions by picking one way and going with it, instead of quibbling over which way is the best ("Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" sort of thing). It's about making every really difficult design decision answer the question "do we really need this feature? right now?".

If I can take you back, you might remember that the first iPhone didn't have a customizable home screen or a unified inbox. It went with "The Web is Your API" instead of native apps. It didn't even have copy-paste!

That said, if someone handed you an original iPhone, it is still very recognizable as an iPhone. It still took YEARS to iterate internally and reach that first model iPhone. From friends who've worked on the iPhone, I've heard there were something like 5 unreleased precursors to the iPad. That's right, the iPhone was actually the MVP of the iPad.

So, MVP doesn't mean you don't have to work at it. It doesn't mean that it won't take a lot of time to develop internally. At CodeConf, Wil Shipley said to think about it as Minimum Viable Awesome. MVP is about recognizing which decisions are best made by the engineers and product managers, and which are best made by the customers. Your MVP shouldn't be the first thing you can charge money for, it should be the first thing you can charge money for and feel proud about.

MattBearman 13 days ago 4 replies      
As we seem to be allowing a personal bias, I'll submit my MVP - http://bugmuncher.com

I've built the minimum in order to get it live in 2 weeks. I've got a HUGE list of features to add in future, including customisation, multiple highlights, automate the subscription process, API, etc.

hundredwatt 13 days ago 1 reply      
A friend of mine sent this to me a few years ago:

"""My favorite video on bootstrapping/minimum viable product:


It's well worth watching the whole thing."""

shabda 13 days ago 0 replies      

"Groupon 1.0 started on a WordPress blog"


dools 13 days ago 1 reply      
Well, I'm obviously pretty biased here because I made it, but I really enjoy using http://cueyoutube.com/

It was a "sunday night" project, and the first thing I've ever done where I thought I did just the right amount of work and no more. It hasn't, like, gone viral or anything but has a few likes and a few people using it - who knows maybe some more will use it.

But it was a great feeling - to really get something useful made, throw it out there and see what happens without investing a whole lot in it.

Another I made earlier this year was http://pickdropapp.com/ which was even less successful than cueyoutube :)

I find that whipping up things like this and just releasing them is a great way of "staying in shape". Releasing software is like a habit and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

To deviate from my shameless self promotion, I would also like to add that I love the story of TKs http://toutapp.com/ - he's actually turned that into a real product now with thousands of users, but he got a lot of validation from his initial MVP release so that's a real success story. He's written about it quite a bit on his blog.

naner 13 days ago 2 replies      
CD Baby just started out with some links to purchase albums IIRC. Derek then manually filled orders and sent items out.
bane 13 days ago 0 replies      
I'll be absolutely shameless and plug our two services, Momentomail and Wormwall (http://www.kymalabs.com). Momentomail is a bit more mature since it's older. But when we first launched it, the entire site wasn't much more than a login page and the "Schedule an email" interface.

We made Lifehacker (after only adding a couple more things) not too long after that.

Wormwall likewise is about as basic a web authoring system as you can get. A WYSIWYG editor and a publish button. Nothing fancy.

We have well over a thousand users now.

wallflower 13 days ago 0 replies      
Launchrock, a service for hosting and tracking launch pages, launched with a launch page


richardw 13 days ago 0 replies      
One of the greatest surely has to be the original Yahoo. Started as the founders' personal list of links. No categories - they only added those later.


user24 13 days ago 0 replies      
The original gameboy. No backlight. No stereo sound. No colour! No game saves.

(edit: although colour would have been ahead of its time, the other features could easily have been scope-creeped into the final product)

siong1987 13 days ago 0 replies      
Square, really simple device with no extra features.
consultutah 13 days ago 1 reply      
Personal bias, but http://chatvoting.com is my latest MVP. There are a ton of features I want to add, but it does exactly what I originally intended.

If you want massively successful MVPs, twitter is probably the king.

adrianscott 13 days ago 0 replies      
I think most great examples of MVP are pretty invisible because you are typically starting off testing it with small groups of users -- just enough to get feedback to move it to the next stage. Otherwise it isn't the M in MVP -- It's not the minimum.

We are big fans of using Dave McClure's Pirate Metrics model... building activation first, then retention, and then going for acquisition, etc.

The first version of CoderBuddy was very minimally-viable compared to where we're at today. It was enough to get something done and to use in workshops. Since then we've analyzed where the biggest bottlenecks are improving activation etc., along the lines of the Pirate Metrics model.

Hope this helps.

orky56 12 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite examples are where the product satisfies its objective (fulfills the customer need) AND does it does it better than the competition (via user experience, number of features, visual design, speed, cheaper). Often people create an MVP that fulfills a customer need but is worse than the competition. Every metric will point toward the fact that the MVP failed since they are based on product market fit (PMF).

HackerNews is a great example.

jwilliams 12 days ago 0 replies      
As has been discussed, MVP can have a varying definition. If you take the minimal part very seriously, one of the products I love to reference is: http://notepad.cc
briggers 13 days ago 0 replies      

(Unless you want a revenue-generating MVP).

robjohnson 13 days ago 0 replies      
If you discuss MVP in terms of Customer Development and the Lean Startup methodology, I think that Eric Ries puts it best by saying that whatever you, as the entrepreneur, think the MVP is, is already WAY too big. Whatever you think the minimum viable features are for your product/service, you should cut it in half - and then do that 2 more times. That's your MVP.
methodin 13 days ago 1 reply      
I've always thought that Instagram was an MVP. I do not have an iPhone, however, so I'm not sure if the app itself follows that mentality or not.
bhousel 13 days ago 0 replies      
tezza 13 days ago 0 replies      
smashing 13 days ago 1 reply      
86-DOS, aka Quick and Dirty Disk Operating System, which was sold to MicroSoft famously, was designed to duplicate C/PM's operating system API's. As the story goes, all the money was in the hardware as software so easy to copy. Look up the history of FCopy on the C64 to see just how prevalent it was on the much higher volume platform of the day, Commodore.
wushupork 13 days ago 0 replies      
Another shameless plug: ShelfLuv.com The original version of ShelfLuv was just instant search for Amazon books - nothing else - wrapped in a pretty UI that was done at a hackathon. It would have stayed just that had people not started using it and validating the idea that there was something there and people valued a better UX for searching books.
csexton 13 days ago 1 reply      
I think my lil mac screen capture app is actually a pretty good example, originally in v1 it only uploaded to imgur and had no UI except for the menu. V2 I added advanced features like a preferences window and history.


While building this I did try hard to focus on what I could do to ship right away, and nothing more. Even for v2 I had to concentrate on limiting the features, which was quite the challenge. At this point, I cant even remember half the things that I needed to implement.

spinlock 13 days ago 0 replies      
Zappos started as a website with pictures of shoes and a price. When someone would order, they would go down to Footlocker, buy the shoes, and ship them off.
ccarella 13 days ago 0 replies      
I consider my service, Subjot as an MVP but we're just starting to move beyond that. Since branching out on my own, its the first product I've built that I'm moving beyond the MVP.

Why? 68% of all registered users visited Subjot last week. Our total number of users are still small (private beta) but our engagement is very high.

It's in private beta but you can use this code to check it out if you are interested - http://sjot.it/nXM96E

coreymaass 13 days ago 0 replies      
Since we're including our personal projects :-) I built the Birdy over a weekend. http://thebirdy.com A couple weeks have gone by and it's going strong with hundreds of users. I've added a few features, and fixed a few bugs, but otherwise, it's as I built it.
8maki 13 days ago 0 replies      
The controller of family computer from Nintendo.
theitgirl 13 days ago 2 replies      
This is great. I have been trying to figure out what a MVP is. Is a landing page with a description of your product and a sign up form considered a MVP?
smashing 13 days ago 1 reply      
So, did we do your homework for you?
Ask HN: How do I improve user engagement on a photo site?
5 points by PaulHoule  3 days ago   4 comments top 2
Joakal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with prpon. Your site gives a craigslist feel. Not even a wiki feel.

Look at one of your similar competitors: http://www.flickr.com/ They have a calls to action as you scroll down with a final "Still not convinced? Take the Flickr Tour!".

If I refer a friend to your website, what are they going to do? They'll act confused as there's no steps or where to start. In fact, they see all these categories and get overwhelmed. I then noticed there's step-by-step instructions but it's surrounded by all those hyperlinks. You need to emphasise it more. Take a note of Flickr.

So you're appealing to designers or people with creativity? Your website doesn't look creative. Look up website inspirations. Copy a few websites that you like, then try creating your own.

SEO issue, why are you redirecting to /o/pictures as main directory? It should always be http://ookaboo.com/ in URL if I go to it. You will encounter issues as well future linking issues if people bookmark it and you didn't sufficiently re-direct it due to a backend or some kind of change.

prpon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seriously my friend, that site needs some design love.
I am no design guru here but that site desperately needs a designer.

Here are a few things I would suggest:

1. Search box at the top to search images.
2. slide show of random images front and center.
3. A call to action button to upload images.
4. scrollable or scrolling categories.

You pretty much have everything I said, but nothing stands out.

Ask HN: Am I at a disadvantage for not attending Stanford, MIT, etc?
28 points by Brewer  3 days ago   60 comments top 24
vessenes 3 days ago 2 replies      
I graduated from Brown University in 1997, and I majored in Math, not Computer Science.

Every so often a "Is an Ivy worth it / what's my degree situation going to matter?" conversation comes up online, here's my take on your question.

In short, in my experience, it matters, in the following ways:

a) Social Networks. The social networks you build at an Ivy / MIT / Stanford / U of C will be more nationally useful. In any given city outside their zone, they will not matter as much as the local "good" University, though. For example, right now, I live in Seattle -- going to the University of Washington would have opened many more doors than my Brown degree does here. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and to some extent Stanford transcend this dynamic, and are usually more valuable than even a pretty good local school; this is because the alums in town will tend to be significantly more influential.

b) Peers. IF (and this is a big IF for many who wonder about going to a given 'great' university that's not accepted them), you would have been an intellectual peer with people at your dream institution, you will have a correspondingly tougher time finding peers at the not-top-tier University. I have heard, many times, statements from second and third tier University attendees that their experience contradicts this; people are challenged, smart, etc. etc. at their local University. Out of curiosity for a while, I would interview transfers from other schools to Brown / MIT / Harvard, and 100% of the time they indicated that the other school was significantly less challenging, and offered far fewer peers.

Now, a counterpoint -- for a while, I was a member of the Young Entrepreneur's Network. Simplified member qualification: You had to own a majority of a business with more than $1mm in revenue to join. I met roughly one hundred fellow CEOs in this group for the couple of years I was in it; only one had an Ivy league education. I met no 'name' MBAs in this group.

The next step up, Young President's Organization has, I'm told, a few more MBAs, but I didn't qualify, so I can't confirm this.

To kick ass at business, you DON'T NEED TO GO TO A GREAT SCHOOL, in fact, in general, awesome success at real-world business ownership is contraindicated by an Ivy / top-tier education.

Of course, here on HN, we know that success fundraising an angel round in Silicon Valley is highly correlated with having a great technical degree, but it's even more highly correlated with executing in an awesome way.

If you want to do a great job starting businesses, learn to execute, and go crazy, don't worry about the rest.

On the other hand, if you want the network, intellectual challenge, and peer group and are sure you'll be unhappy anywhere else, there's a simple solution:

a) Get all A's at your current university

b) Start applying to your chosen university; reach out to professors doing interesting research, and work the admissions group. "I'm having trouble finding researchers at my University who can give me enough interesting work in X area, Professor so-and-so and I have corresponded, and I'd like to transfer." This speaks so much more than high school grades/SATs... Believe me. A recommendation from a professor that you're 'topping out' with would also work nicely. They'll want to help, in the best case.

The slightly less rock-star version is: crush your undergraduate, crush your test scores, do good senior year research, find some good grad programs, crush your GREs, and go to the grad school you want to go to. That's where you're going to spend a long time if you're serious about academia anyway.

On the other hand, if you can't get those kind of results at University of Newfoundland right now, I think you should relax -- you would not do well at MIT. I promise you. Put it out of your head, and go kick ass at business; it's significantly easier than excelling in academia at MIT.

patio11 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pick someone you admire.

Do you admire them for their degree?

Do you admire them for their first job out of college?

If the answers are "No" and "No", then you probably shouldn't be worried all that much.

There are fields, times, and places in which one's academic pedigree opens or closes doors which are hugely relevant to one's career success. You are in a very fortunate field, time, and place in this regard.

P.S. Of all the people I admire in tech, the only one whose undergraduate education I'm aware of has no degree at all, and I only know that because he's sensitive about it and brought it up. Similarly, I'll bet you that probably 99.8% of the people who know me professionally, including everybody who has ever written me a check, could not tell you where I went to school.

colinsidoti 3 days ago 1 reply      
I went to MIT for EECS and left on voluntary withdrawal after three semesters. There were two highlights of my application to MIT: 1. I was the first person to make online, real-time games for the iPhone (pre App Store with AJAX). 2. I held a full time developer job for two summers in a row, and part time two days per week during the school year between.

Once I got to MIT, I learned that my grades and SAT scores were below most of my peers. I had no "hook", and those two points above are really the only unique things I could attribute my success to.

The kicker is, I did those two things without MIT, and you could do cool things without MIT too. Nothing I did was particularly hard, they just took a lot of work.

You say you "don't have the option to attend MIT", but you're wrong. You don't have the option to start MIT with kids the same age as you. I'm willing to bet that if you went out and built some cool things, MIT would be happy to offer you admission. But don't build things because you want to get into MIT, build things because you want to build them, I promise they can tell the difference.

But this brings up an even bigger question. If you're able to build things that are so cool that they could get you into MIT, would you really still want to go to MIT to get an education? Or would you rather continue building cool things?

To answer your question more directly: No, your not at a disadvantage. You're in a different place, but you can still go wherever you want.

Shenglong 3 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't really make a difference either way; it's not like you can change where you went for school. With that being said, I'm assuming you're defining "advantage" to mean being hired. If that's the case, you always have two steps to overcome:

1. Getting known

2. Proving yourself

The only part this may hurt you, is #1 - but that's easily overcome by attending conferences, and generally networking. If you missed CUTC (http://www.cutc.ca) this year, make sure to keep up to date with it and go next year. We had quite a few companies from software to consulting attend, with the primary motivation of recruiting. Typically the best students across Canada come (although Atlantic Canada is under represented), and companies have found it to be a very effective recruiting ground - since they actually get to meet students for minimal cost.

If you're graduating, you probably can't attend, but if you're looking for a full-time job and you're a good programmer, send me an email and I'll connect you to where I'm currently working (it'll be up to you to impress them).

TrevorBurnham 3 days ago 1 reply      
Short answer: The disadvantage is temporary.

I went to Carleton College in Minnesota. It does well in liberal arts college rankings, but it's not well-known. In fact, my Y Combinator interview began with pg asking me, "You're Canadian?" (He was thinking of Carleton University.)

Going to a school with name rec is certainly a plus. And if you're in the startup world, that goes double for MIT and Stanfordâ€"not only do they have outstanding CS and engineering programs, but they also have an extraordinarily entrepreneurial culture. If you tell a venture capitalist that you went to MIT, for instance, that's a strong indicator that you "get it" as an entrepreneur. It's neither necessary nor sufficient to get them to write a check, but it pretty much answers two of the questions every potential investor has: "Is this guy smart?" and "Does this guy understand how startups work?" If you went to a no-name school, you've got to find another way to answer those questions.

Just remember: Once you've actually done something, that defines you far more than what school you went to. I didn't lose my shot at Y Combinator because pg hadn't heard of my school; I lost it because my team hadn't built anything before. If we'd been Stanford grad students rather than University of Michigan grad students, maybe that would've helped. But you know what would've helped more? Having ever deployed an app worth using, or developed a popular open-source project, or written a book on a programming language (say, CoffeeScript).

In short: "Make something people want." Aspire to do something noteworthy enough that you can introduce yourself as "Hi, I'm the creator of so-and-so." At that point, no one will care which school you went to.

simonsarris 3 days ago 2 replies      
People aren't going to wonder whether or not the CS program at your university is a joke if they haven't heard of the place. They just won't think about it.

They'll move on to wondering what you have done during your school years and beyond.

What do you have to show for your education? Just the piece of paper? Did you make anything while in school? Help any professors? Write any articles? Start any clubs? Contribute to open source projects?

Tangible evidence of being good is always better than intangible evidence. A degree is neat, but real-things-done is far better.

jinushaun 3 days ago 1 reply      
In my experience in the tech industry, experience counts much more than a degree. When I'm hiring, I ignore the education section. The industry is full of self-taught programmers who were programming since middle school. Most computer science freshmen came in already knowing how to code well and getting a degree is just a formality--a check box. In that case, why should their education even factor in the job market?

And if you don't have work experience to speak of, make something! A website, an iPhone app, code hosted on GitHub, etc, speaks volumes. In all honesty, I'm more likely to hire based on that than your resume.

kls 3 days ago 0 replies      
No it will not, the thing about those schools is not the degree it is the people. The value of those schools are that a lot of bright people are in them, generally with a lot of free time. There is an opportunity while at school to really work on something revolutionary and potentially launch it. It has nothing to do with the degree and everything to do with the environment. That is what universities used to be about. So the only thing you missed out on was an opportunity to possibly be at the spark of an opportunity so what life goes on.

I have a degree from the University of Phoenix, I have been a CTO at 3 companies and an executive at Marriott. One of the companies we sold to Hotels.com and the other we sold to the largest travel conglomerate in the world. I got the degree because when one of the companies I was a CTO at was acquired, the executives in the new company where required to have a degree. Some companies actually put artificial ceilings on promotions where one must have a degree. They don't care who it is from it just has to be a degree, kind of stupid but some times you just have to play ball. Anyways a degree is the last thing on the list that gets you a job, if it is the first thing then you should probably reconsider your employer because they care more about looking good than building quality software.

I got to where I am fixing problems, generating millions of dollars and saving people money, do that and doors open themselves. The only thing a degree did for me was make me a good public speaker. UOP makes you give a speech at the end of ever class. Toastmasters would have saved me a lot of money.

brg 3 days ago 0 replies      
The answer is yes, until you are accomplished as either a founder or a maker.

If you are going to work for yourself, you will be hampered by having no history and not having developed a well connected support network. You will not be given the benefit of the doubt, and it will be hard to get doors to open for you. That will change if you provide a product that investors can understand.

If you are planning on working for a larger company based outside of your region, you will have a hard time getting passed HR prescreens and manager resume shuffles.

If you are graduating, your best bet is either to head to Toronto or Silicon Valley and start your own company, or go to graduate school in hopes of taking an internship at Google, Microsoft, or IBM. After you have a single large company on your resume, you'll be fine.

alain94040 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, there is a "club", and no, you are not part of it.

This will hurt you for a few years. But, it's really only about what you are about to achieve: become a great developer, build amazing things, and nothing else will matter. Can you be the best? Ignore the degree and try.

Degrees, in the end, are just like floaties: they guarantee you won't drown, but they don't win Olympics.

hsmyers 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure about Stanford, but much of the information that MIT would impart is available on-line for free. Cherry-pick the course offerings and fold them into what ever program you are currently attending. Ultimately none of the 'paper' will keep your job even though in those shallow circumstances it may get you a job. What you know and what you learn combined with what you make will be the key in your continuation as a developer. Think of it this way, it is almost a cliche that there are two ways into a job---one through the front door through HR and one through the backdoor through the people who you will actual work with. The second group seldom gives a damn about 'paper'---you take it from there :) @TrevorBurnham---I remember Carleton fondly although it was damn cold in the winter. Likewise certain people took a really dim view to physical contact in the common area when I came for a visit :)
grayrest 3 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't really make a difference past your first job. GPA is the same unless you're trying for a government job. The most common thing I'm asked these days is what's on my github account.
zemanel 3 days ago 0 replies      
i'm was born on a humble family, away for a major city and don't even have a degree in CS. Started on development on a time where i [hardly] had access to the internet on a 56k modem and only got my own pc at like 20y old (i'm 30) and [decent/broadband] internet access at like 25.

If your goal is a major job and your attended school isn't cutting it, there are better ways that an MIT degree and awesome/very rewarding jobs on that path. Open source development for example. Companies like Google and others, pick up talents that contribute to open source projects. That also allows you to build real world experience and exponentially improve your skills, because a major pitfall is believing that a degree in CS is an end, instead of just another step on the way.

spinlock 3 days ago 0 replies      
FYI - the most incompetent engineer I've ever worked with went to MIT. Plus, college is about a lot more than learning technical skills. One of the very true things about life is that they guys who make A's in college make good professors. But, the guys who make B's make a lot of money ... for the guys who make C's.
nostrademons 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes. But it's a disadvantage you can overcome.
allenc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking as a UC Berkeley grad w/ many coworkers who weren't from UCB/Stanford (which is common in SV companies), having the school on your resume makes it easier to get noticed from recruiters, but it's just one of many factors considered to "get in the door".

I've seen more companies look for other publicly visible areas of code output:
- Github/Stack Overflow/Quora
- Blogs/social sites like HN, reddit at times
- Open source projects

Internships or experience at well-regarded companies also helps a lot, and once you get through one of these avenues it's easier to keep the ball rolling and get introductions to the hot companies in our industry.

Of course, you still have to pass the interview, regardless of which university you studied in. =)

brudgers 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, relatively speaking you are at a disadvantage. Absolutely, you are highly advantaged because you live in a prosperous country and attend an accredited university.
damoncali 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes. But so are 99.9% of the rest of us. Get on with it.

By the way, it's not the education that's better.

pawelwentpawel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was wondering how the good universities from across the Europe (particulary from UK) are being perceived in US. Places like Edinburgh University for example, even though they are very good, are way lower in ranks than the american schools.

The same funny thing happens with the technology intitutes from eastern europe. Some technical degrees are horribly demanding and produce some great engineers, but still are very low in the world-wide ranks.

paradox95 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes you are. But you can beat it. I didn't go to a good school. In fact I went to an awful school. But I am an engineer at good start up in the Valley and doing very well.

Are you in the Bay?

mcarrano 3 days ago 0 replies      
You are only at a disadvantage if you don't make the most of your time.

I am still in school and while all the interviews I have had for internships tested my school knowledge the big question they always asked was... "What have you done?".

They want to make sure you are capable of getting things done and that is really what matters.

hobonumber1 3 days ago 1 reply      
It may be easier for an MIT or Stanford graduate to get into the field just through the university's reputation and contacts that they have, but after 2-3 years in the industry, I really think your work will show your credentials better than your alma mater.
pokoleo 3 days ago 2 replies      
If it appears that you need/want a better education/etc, come to UW.

We've got a killer CS/Math program (one of the best in Canada?), and there are pink ties autographed by Bill Gates in the Math department.

socialist_coder 3 days ago 0 replies      
College dropout here and I'm doing just fine. School matters naught if you're smart.
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