You know what you could do in an hour, trivially? Find the person who can say "Hire Taylorlb" and invite them to lunch or coffee. Alternatively, find someone who they trust and get a warm intro like "Still looking for a $FOO? You should talk to Taylorlb."
You can try more exotic ways to break into $TARGET but walking through the open front door is a good place to start. Bonus points: many people competing with you are pathologically unable to find the front door because they think it is cheating.
It might be interesting to buy AdWords on your name so your preferred spiel comes up when people Google you. I'm not sure if it's all that much more effective than just having a decent homepage though.
And my guess is that you'll find this to be a hard sell. I certainly wouldn't try it unless you can find other folks in this line of business who can tell you the ropes, or at least provide the existence proof that it works. If you can't find anyone else, that is a very bad sign.
The first problem is the packaging. It's easier to sell a PHP consultant than a generic "I'm a smart person who can learn your language of choice in a weekend and then hack for you" consultant. It's easier to sell a Drupal consultant than a generic PHP consultant. And it's easier to sell a Drupal consultant who is the world expert on, say, Drupal ecommerce or migrating data into Drupal than it is to sell a generic Drupal consultant.
So starting a consultancy is (surprise, surprise) a lot like starting any business: You need to find product-market fit. The good news, though, is that unlike the startup world you're not racing to find product-market fit: Your product by definition will not scale (if the customer could buy the solution in a $89 box from Google, they obviously wouldn't hire consultants) so you can just find other consultants and clone their product. If the market is at all healthy, those consultants will probably help you clone their product, and thank you for it: A bigger ocean floats all boats, and the others need a steady supply of new blood to help them pay the hotel bills for their industry conferences.
So if there's a market for, e.g., SAS consultants, learn SAS and call yourself a SAS consultant. Is there a well-known standard tool, or up-and-coming-standard tool, in your industry that everyone wants to use but nobody knows how to set up? That's a good candidate for a marketing hook.
I think you've identified your other, larger problems: A) Customers want in-house employees because learning the ins and outs of the customers' data and techniques is a long-term process, and B) everyone is super-secretive, because data is incredibly expensive stuff to acquire and leaking the data at the wrong time is like handing your competitors bundles of thousand-dollar bills. To that I would add problem C): Your target market is either (i) academics, who have relatively little money, relatively long timelines ("I'll request some grant money to pay your consulting fee; I'll let you know in a year if we get accepted"), and access to grad-student labor at below-market rates; or (ii) big companies, which tend to be able to afford in-house staffs, and will do so, because their secrecy concerns are even larger than usual.
There might be a category (iii): small-to-mid-size companies that can't afford an in-house statistician. Maybe you can find and target that market. But it might not be fun: By definition your market doesn't have much money, so they're going to try to hire you at below-market rates; they're going to try to get you to accept grand promises of future wealth in lieu of cash; they're going to nickel-and-dime you every step of the way, risking the quality of the work in the process; and of course there's the exciting possibility that they won't pay you at all. Make friends among the client's clerical staff, and have them keep an ear open for signs of potential bankruptcy. ;)
My suggestion is that you figure out what service the in-house statisticians inside well-funded companies would pay for, and then offer that. Don't try to be the rent-to-own in-house statistician for a company that has no statistician; Instead, offer a service that an in-house statistician would love to have but can't find the time or skill to do on her own. Of course, how does one best learn what in-house statisticians really want? By being one for a while. Take one of those jobs that are throwing themselves at your feet, hold it for a couple of years if you can, and tell yourself that it's market research for your future consulting firm.
Pricing: charge more. Too much work? Raise rates. Repeat until satisfied.
Criteria for success: you'll likely have more understanding than customers of the likely outcomes of engagements, so communicate as best as possible, but ultimately the engagement is a success if they are happy with the outcome and is a failure if they are not. This counsels listening very carefully when they say what worries them, and taking an active role in picking any success metrics.
The reason I think you may have a hard time finding work is that, in my experience, and I believe this to be a widely help opinion, you get far more out of careful feature selection, cleaning, and filtering; and careful hand tooling of algorithms to your domain than out of your raw ML tech. This has been my experience at two companies (no names since there are tools on HN who like to make posts out to be representative of the company, but if you want I'm happy to discuss over email.) The problem then, for you, is that this augurs poorly for hiring external consultants because the hard part is domain specific knowledge and you don't want that to walk out the door. To the extent that people want help setting up common toolkits like R, lucene, elastic search, weka, mahout, vowpal rabbit, etc, there could be lucrative work.
I'm actually pretty curious about this myself. In fact, if you want to discuss offline, drop me an email.
Contracting yourself to others is a startup. It's a business and you do have to do all the other work associated with that. The first step in being successful as a contractor is taking it seriously and recognizing it as a real business.
As for finding the work, I don't know how to help you there. You could take a look through a site like Elance to see how much work there is available there.
For the sake of the HN discussion, I'll say that it's a lot easier to use ML/stats consulting as a "sales lubricant" on top of custom software development. The kinds of details you can tease out from most business data aren't usually actionable without some kind of software that "closes the loop" (e.g. a behavioral targeting system for customizing a web experience).
I think the rule of "least surprise" applies; the least surprising thing for a link to do is to not specify a target at all, leaving the behavior up to the browser (where the browser in turn bows to user preferences and user overrides such as contextual menus). For example, on my iPad I already configure my browser so that different-domain links open in new tabs but same-domain links do not, and I set preferences for a reason: because it's my preferred behavior. These are things the web site couldn't possibly know about me, so the web site basically risks annoying me if they try to override my expectations.
If a web site must feel the need to fiddle with "target" (which I personally think they should not), I think the bare minimum they should do is include an icon or some hint next to non-standard links to indicate what will happen when the links are used. This is another thing that browsers could theoretically do by themselves, since they have all the information about link targets at rendering time.
Personally I've been conditioned over the years to expect _blank on blogs so I don't think leaving it in will cause any great tremors in the force. TBH, taking it out probably won't make any real difference anyway. So, er, my point is
The only place where using it makes sense to me is on a web app or sign up / payment page which you don't want the user to accidentally leave and lose the state of.
We're a young company that's so hot, we melt ice in our sleep. Some of our investors even believe we're responsible for global warming. Out hotness is to be expected: our 5 founders hail from top engineering schools, and one even won $5,000 in a single night playing online poker when he was 13 (for reals).
Our users? Cooler than a polar bear's toe nails. Think Tom from MySpace, but even cooler. They're young, they love technology and they all have fat bank accounts. Oh, they're all beautiful people too.
Our trajectory is clear: extreme penetration of a lucrative niche market in Year 1, and world domination in Year 2. We've already grown 500% in our first 2 weeks after launch. See http://yfrog.com/kfu2tcj
We're looking for an awesome Python developer with a big ego and low self-esteem. Someone who knows he's the sheeeeet but doesn't want to prove it at a big company that does lame stuff like QA. Someone who can down a can of Coke and a box of Mentos and then go on to devour a four-course meal of web-scale challenges the likes of which no other startup has ever faced. Seriously.
What do we offer? Put simply, The Life. As an early employee, you'll receive a salary that will enable you to rent a condo in Palo Alto with 3 other startup dude roommates, a huge equity stake that will be massively diluted as we raise new rounds of funding from some of the most respected angels and VCs in the Valley, and the ginormous confidence that comes with knowing you're changing the world one unique visitor at a time.
If you're ready to take your awesomeness to the next level and think you have what it takes to hang, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why we shouldn't laugh at your Github account.
Further, you can tell us what the business is, and what is compelling about it, without giving up the secret sauce. You can even mention the secret sauce without giving up the secret.
EG, if your startup was google: We're building a revolutionary search engine using the social proof inherent in the web to give people results that are far more relevant than Yahoo and Inktomi. There, did I give away the page rank algorithm? No, but I did reveal the compelling advantage that google had: they figured out how to derive social proof from the web... which at the time was unheard of.
Even if that's too revealing.... at least talk about your technology stack. If you write a 500 word essay and the only mentions of technology is that you use "rails/node.js" -- something at first blush seems like not a choice but a pair of choices-- you're being evasive one something you have no reason to be evasive on. "We're using rails to host the primary web app, and node.js to run a really nice realtime updating system, blah blah blah."
You can talk about that... and you are giving candidates an opportunity to know what you're like based on your technology choices and how you talk about technology.
We're an awesome new startup that totally kicks ass and we drink alot of beer and stufzlol.
Anyway, we need a nodejs ninja rockstar bro to chill with us and write some codez.
We aint gunna tell you what we do cuz thats not how we roll but email us at email@example.com==================================================
As they say "it's called work for a reason."
Sure, we all (well, mostly all) want a fun, happy workplace... but if I'm working on something that's mind-numbingly boring, I'm going to zone out and not give a flip about the red-bull and the nerf fights and the after-work LAN parties and all that B.S., in about 2 minutes.
- The people I'll be working with- The product I'll be working on- The job I'll be doing
These posts are way to ambiguous to answer these real questions. The only questions they do answer is that you were good enough to get into YC. If you want someone to apply for the job just cause you are a YC company, tough luck - the applicants are gonna suck big time.
#1) Don't just say what the job title is, be clear on what it means to you. I've had job interviews for a "frontend developer" be anything from a PSD-slicer to a 95% backend coder.
#2) If you want a passionate employee (you do), you need to give enough information about your company so they can tell if it interests them. I could care less what cool technology you use if I don't know whether I'm reforming healthcare or inventing new ways to impose banking fees. You can say what you do without providing any sort of specific information.
#3) Sarcasm online can be very easily misinterpreted. I suggest being upfront and professional in any job posting but if you must use some kind of sarcasm, be sure to note it.
Note: This is by no means a complete list, simply some reoccurring issues I've seen during my recent job search.Edit: Formatting.
My company is hiring:
We do e-commerce where people can set up their own fashion boutique -- we have a massive catalog full of top-tier designer products. We have made incredible partnerships with brands, the fashion industry, etc. People who set up stores facilitate social shopping via their store and make a small commission per sale. If you don't get why this is cool b/c you wear sweatpants or the same pair of jeans, that's OK, I have data to show you.
Our site, www.styleowner.com is solid on the backend but needs a lot of frontend love. If you like backbone.js, web standards, etc., come join us and help make it one of the best sites on the web. Backend developers wanted too however. We use Ruby, Sinatra, DataMapper, Node, Redis and more. Interest in IOS is also a plus.
We're hiring for 2-3 positions. We are looking to make some key hires right now and the goal is a superb team.
If you're in San Fran let me meet with you over coffee or beers and show you our codebase, tell you in incredible detail what we're working on, etc. I'd also like to see some of your code. The goal is to give you an idea if you want to work on our app and what that would entail over at least the next few months.
We're funded by Accel, have great investors, etc. The only challenge has been in tech hiring b/c if you're good you probably already have a job you enjoy. So give it a shot and meet us and see what you think.
Putting together an awesome engineering team is our #1 priority. We're in the stage where we're making key hires and ramping up.
You also have to consider that many of these YC companies are young, small and inexperienced, regardless of their job descriptions, so take it with a grain of salt before you commit to anyone. These guys could pivot at any given moment, change technology stack on a dime (just happened to me), fire you because you don't fit in, etc.
If you're looking to hire someone by posting a public job description, why are you unwilling to say who you are?
The older and more experienced I get, the more the notion of "secret companies" (aka stealth mode) seems absurd. The CIA might need to keep secrets. A web technology company does not. Like another poster said, nobody's suggesting that you have to reveal your deepest darkest technology special sauce in your job posting.
But why not at least reveal the name and nature of your business? It's fairly relevant.
Young company looking for C++ programmers to help create a small fraction of the functionality provided by a Bloomberg terminal for a small fraction of the price of a Bloomberg terminal. Financial knowledge appreciated, but not required.
NOTE: If I had more than a few hours a week to work on such a thing, and I didn't have a large amount of student debt, then this would be a posting I would eventually like to make. For now, the above is only meant to serve as an example of how I think a job posting should read.
The "Summer 2011 YC company seeks CoffeeScript drinking frontend engineer" post seems very generic to me. It's nice that they mention the industry they're working in, but otherwise, I didn't pick up on much differentiation in the job description from other companies looking to fill a similar role (and the post nearly admits that itself, at the end).
I was trying to be a bit more diplomatic but my feeling was the same. It serves no purpose to be so discrete all the time.
Seriously though, whoever started the whole rockstar/ninja thing should be punished. This is programming. Forget sex, drugs, rock-n-roll and throwing stars. I want to work with people who always know where their towel is.
Replace god in this expression by gays, Allah, children, science, music, bits or whatever and you may experience the same feeling I had. And it doesn't provide any useful and constructive information to the main point.
CouchDB is rock solid, and has a very nice map-reduce setup (allowing your aggregations to update themselves quite quickly as underlying data changes), but the documentation is very bare, and it's not very fast (somewhere between 50 updates per second, to 3000 updates per second, depending on how you do things).
I have also played around with Sinatra for a hobby project but did not dig deep into it.
As most of the work I do is Java related, I have to say I'm impressed with Spring Roo it's got serious potential.
If he's smart and dedicated, I recommend SICP, but it's fairly difficult (and assumes things like exposure to calculus): http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book.html
Think Python is a bit easier, but still good: http://greenteapress.com/thinkpython/thinkpython.pdf
By far the best to start is: http://learnpythonthehardway.org/
To learn programming with PHP he should head to the PHP manual. http://www.php.net/manual/en/
To learn C or C++ I suggest on reading the standards, even though they might be somewhat hard to understand, but they have the best information available on those languages.
For C http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/WG14/www/docs/n1256.pdfFor C++ http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/papers/2010/n309...
I think with some courage any physical job will do (edit: the one actually curing not worsening your health problems), because as hackers we learn to not give up and not be distracted by failures. Thus, I'd choose an occupation usually done in a nice healthy environment - like carpentry.
Of course, you will start from a zero level and will earn funny small amount of bucks. But I guess it's not the point (and you will probably don't need much, assuming you don't have a family dependent on you).
I really think physical working is so underrated. It builds your constitution slowly but in a way that cannot be achieved in a gym, because it happens in a natural way, not artificially.
Even if you transition over to a career as a bike messenger, the odds are pretty good that an alternative career will require you to spend a significant amount of time sitting, either in conference rooms or in front of a computer.
Although I have yet to take the plunge, I hear nothing but good things from people who have transitioned to standing desks (one example: http://lifehacker.com/5735528/why-and-how-i-switched-to-a-st...).
 I'm sure sitting on a bike is better for you than sitting on a chair, discounting potential concerns like being run over by a car.
Assuming they are RSI related:
I highly recommend "Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries" by Sharon Butler
RSI cannot be cured but it can be managed. For those of you who are fortunate to be able to take keyboard input for granted, please be wary of any soreness or minor pain. Over time, pain and soreness can become chronic. The bright side is dealing with RSI forces you to realize that you cannot take your career for granted; it gives you perspective.
Good luck! Be wary of magic solutions, something may not work for you.
Changing careers is not as black and white as most careers require significant computer work. You cannot escape computers in this modern age. Get the best help that you can, surgery is not a magic cure
Essentially tours/activites/travel type of jobs.
1. Hiking tour guide.2. Give Kiteboarding lessons.3. Scuba instructor. 4. Travel Writer who goes to different points of the earth and writes about them. 5. Gym trainer.6. Heli Ski tour operator.
These might seem out there and the pay will be lousy - but I know quite a few kiteboarding instructors and they are some of the fittest and happiest people I have ever known. I'm eventually going to end up like this I think - right after I try founding a few startups. I recently quit my job to start my own startup. (Still in the cycle of customer development).
They have happiness in their soul except when theres no wind and no waves then they become painful to hang around :). But with respect to their health - I dont think I've seen a healthier bunch.
For what it's worth, here is what I suggest: switch to a stand up desk for any computing tasks. I cobbled together an ugly ad hoc one and I could never go back.
Also, while you deliberate over what your new profession will be, get a job in retail or sales. The pay will suck but you'll be on your feet and interacting with human beings.
I wish you success!
* Electrician and especially low-voltage electrician. Find someone to take you on first, then get into the apprenticeship program. You get paid while you learn. Low-voltage sounds especially interesting, since it's things like wiring up alarm system, and less risk of electrocuting yourself. Wiring up alarm systems sounds more hacker-ish than any paid programming job I've had. Pretty much all electrician work involves a significant amount of problem solving.
* Welding. In particular, deep sea welding, sounds... interesting. It has potential for a very good salary, though it will involve significant risk management and probably a lot of time spent away from home and family.
* Trucking. It sounds less appealing with modern trucking organizations, but if you like driving, it might be doable. Years ago, I recall reading about a British IT guy that switched to trucking who absolutely loved it.
* Physical trainer. This one is probably great if computer-related physical issues have created a passion for fitness in you. I suspect these careers will be even harder going forward, if the economy continues to drag.
* Accounting, lawyering. These exacerbate the same physical issues. Lawyering is pretty dead now, what with way too many graduates.
* Teaching. You can try to teach English overseas to dabble in it and see if you like it.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I've had a few drinks. ;-)
My basic goal with an alternate career is to get exposure to new business opportunities. For example, something seemingly silly like working at a prison might allow you insight into a whole new industry, where you could write niche software and potentially earn a lot of income. Nothing will ever make me stop thinking, "aha! I could solve that with some code..."
- Finance - May require another degree but it's an easy transition. The math shouldn't be too hard. It can be in the treasury dept, risk, anything with modeling.
- Marketing analysis - you would be surprised how much Math is involved in getting a tube of Crest to your cabinet.
- Teaching - most cs folks know enough math to teach it. Many states are so desperate for math teachers that they don't require an education degree.
In the end, don't worry. Programming is one of the hardest intellectual tasks out there. Other fields will seem easy in comparison.
That is actually a natural progression for a lot of people in our field. I, personally, don't want to be a developer when I am 35, and I am already being tasked with more and more of the duties of the roles I mentioned above, and I like it. Have you been tasked with of the duties of other roles that are less development-oriented? Did you like it?
If your sole reason for wanting to switch really is your health issues, find out what professions leverage your previous technical knowledge, and further refine that list depending on which roles will work with your health issues. On a side note, it seems that most professional careers these days require that you sit a computer for long periods of times: lawyers, engineers of all fields, accountants, and finance professionals, etc. So keep that in mind.
Ultimately, you get one body, so make your health your first priority. And you only get one life so make sure you're doing what you want to do. Good luck.
Step 2) Get some (more) people to use it. Get their feedback.
Step 3) Improve product based on feedback.
Step 4) Go to Step 2.
Minor caveat: I found the typography of the book lacking and the design of the many diagrams to be very confusing. I'm hope these things issues are fixed in the next edition. This shouldn't discourage you from buying this book.
I've read 37signals' books but they are less practical, more about high level business principles and the ideology of business of software that 37signals adheres to. Maybe you will find the stuff inspiring and guiding.http://37signals.com/rework/http://gettingreal.37signals.com/
You can view our senior services here: http://www.thumbtack.com/browse/family/seniors/
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
There are literally hundreds of providers to choose from. callwithus.com seems to have really good termination rates (http://www.callwithus.com/showrates) and I use them for calling mobiles in Europe. They don't support inbound calls, but there are other providers for that.
You can get free SIP clients for any other platform: Mac, Linux, or Windows.
However, you should be aware that unlike with Skype the SIP packets between your phone and your provider aren't encrypted. So if you use this on a public WiFi, everyone with sufficient skills would be able to listen to your call.
They offer various levels of quality, so be sure to try it a couple of times first... Majority of the providers seem to be only resellers - many of them not understanding the technology behind it, so if you care about good support, check if you're looking at a reseller or an actual provider.
If you want to call internationally a lot using local providers, you are very likely to run into issues with quality, callerid presentation, availability. Solving those is quite tricky and it's sometimes easier to get another account in the country you're calling to, rather than fighting the issue with your current company.
(sorry for not giving any specific examples, but in my experience there's no optimal global solution - spend some time trying to find out what works for you)
I've been using the Android native SIP client with an asterisk box and it works really well. Be aware though that it doesn't allow you to make calls over cell data, but rather limits you to making/receiving calls on Wifi only.
In terms of upstream providers the only one I know of in Europe is Blueface as a few of my friends at home in Ireland use them in their homes
 - http://www.blueface.ie/residential.aspx
Then there's another thing called Fring, which seems to be mostly a group chatting application but allows you to call normal phones too. Has video chat, which seems to be the main thing they're promoting, and an Android client.
I can't recommend either of them - as I said, I just used google to find them - but they seem like they might work for you.
One potential issue with SIP is that you might have issues behind some firewalls. Not sure how big a deal that is in practice while traveling (I think its probably fine). If not it might be useful to use Asterisk+IAX. I'm not sure what Android clients exist for IAX.
I ended up building an Asterisk box on EC2 EU-WEST-1 (Ireland), which, at ~20ms from sip.voxbeam.com, doesn't add a ton of latency. It works fine on a Micro instance, which is free for a year if you don't already have an AWS account.
will give you a comparative of a lot of VoIP provider, which usually can provide you a DID.
For the video side, what I'm doing with more or less luck is to use the Jingle protocol, used by Google Talk, on Asterisk.This one is doing a gateway.So depending on what is available on each side, the video functionalities are rather video SIP to video SIP, video SIP to Jingle or Jingle to Jingle.
I'll post soon an article on my blog to explain how to do so.
Even though you have no problem getting started initially, the label of procrastination applies. Here is my summary of the book:
Book: The Procrastination Equation, Piers Steel (psychologist), 2011
Procrastinators suffer from
* weak impulse control * lack of persistence * lack of work discipline * lack of time management skill * inability to work methodically
(expectancy * value) / (impulsiveness * delay) * The numerator is Expected Utility Theory in economics * Expectancy is the perceived likelihood of reward or success * Value is the perceived value of the reward * Delay is the perceived delay in receiving the reward * Impulsiveness is the tendency to (irrationally) pursue immediate reward instead
* the prefrontal cortex is late to develop in humans, impulse control develops slowly in children * adults with damage to the prefrontal cortex may be markedly more impulsive
* Proximity to temptation is a major factor in impulsiveness (low barriers to gratification) * Variable schedule of reinforcement causes a robust response
Expectancy - optimism, expectation of success
* too much pessimism causes procrastination low expectation of success keeps us from starting * too much optimism causes procrastination unrealistic ease of success may delay starting until the last moment
* success spirals - progressive series of successes build confidence (e.g. earning scout badges). regularly stretching your limits is important to teach yourself confidence in your ability to tackle something difficult * vicarious victory - relating to someone's success story, finding inspiration in books, movies, inspirational speakers, joining a group of inspirational people * wish fulfillment - visualization of success and contrasting with where you are now. Visualization that only focuses on the goal may drain motivation to complete the necessary steps. As you visualize attaining the goal and then contrasting the current situation, maintain your optimism so that you can translate this visualization into a plan of action. * Plan for the worst, hope for the best - develop strategies to recover from falling back into old habits. Anticipate temptations and find ways to counter them.
* create a chain of goals that helps connect less pleasurable tasks to the ultimate desired goal * frame goals positively, rather than goals of avoiding something negative * make games out of tasks - avoid boredom * justify tasks by connecting them to your goals * recognize your available energy, and plan around it - schedule difficult tasks for your morning and mid-day peak performance (likely between 10 and 2) * commit to a regular schedule of exercise and sleep * snack as needed - avoid hunger * make sleep predictable, with a regular wind-down routine * respect your limitations * as an antidote to task avoidance, identify and do related tasks that are less intimidating - whittle down the main task until it is less intimidating * reward yourself for accomplishments
* identify and put temptations out of reach * satisfy your needs first before they become a distraction. * schedule your leisure time ahead - work harder knowing your leisure is ensured * add disincentives to your temptations, a penalty - e.g. a personal tax for infractions * mentally contaminate temptations, making them seem less attractive in your mind * eliminate cues that trigger temptation - e.g. keep your workspace clean
* specific is redundant with both measurable and time-anchored * attainable is redundant with realistic * missing key concepts that are important to effective goals
* challenging (expectancy not too high - too easy) * meaningful (high value) * framed in specific terms so that you know when you have to achieve them - what you have to do and when you have to be done * if long-term, then broken down into a series of short-term objectives. particularly daunting goals should start with a small goal to kick off. * organized into routines that occur regularly at the same time and place. A predictable work schedule is important.
In fact this is a fairly typical problem of people working alone and with no external feedback. Things like killing a day to decide how to name a temporary variable is a bane of lonely programmer. Next time when you are starting on a new project, make sure you get a supporter or an adopter. The more the merrier, but one should do. This creates a feeling of being accountable to someone and it tremendously helps to make the milestones... which is another thing - having milestones that you cannot afford to miss is golden. This allows breaking out of that stupid loop of obsessing over details that do not matter (while burning out mentally) and keep a larger view of the project in mind at all times. For example, knowing that you are getting someone's blog coverage in two weeks is a sure way to not only get the beta in its best polished state (of the decade :)), but also to redo the website and what not. Productivity jumps by the orders of magnitude.
Between the techniques and what nots I find the most useful thing is writing thoughts down. Say you are working on a project, and currently dealing with a feature A of a module B of a web interface, which is in turn just a smaller part of the whole thing. And then you realize that there is that one other thing that absolutely needs to be done and not forgotten. Write it down. Getting it out of one's head and onto a paper helps freeing up idle cycles that brain would otherwise spend worrying about not forgetting this thought. There is a big, heavily commercialized theory built on top of this simple idea - GTD or Get Things Done - but that's all cruft. Just get Things for iPhone and it should be enough.
So, yeah... I hear you, and (a) it is typical (b) you need firm goals you truly commit to. That's it.
(edit) If you consider chemicals, then no, you don't want them. If you really really really desperate, try modafinil. Very sparingly, like once a month, just to jump-start the productivity and get things rolling.
I also like starting projects more than finishing them.
I think writing down your ideas will help solidify them. I find from experience that the more I write about my ideas, the more likely they are to come to fruition.
This is not exactly a new idea, but I think it doesn't apply equally to all people.
You're the type of person who likes starting projects more than finishing them. This has implications about how your brain works or generally on how you think. Not everyone is like that, some people prefer to finish projects they already have, and it's not a matter of some acquired discipline either.
If you're like me, your ideas might seem scattered, you jump from one idea to the next, one day you think "man wouldn't it be awesome to build an app that does X!" then two days later, you feel constrained, and want to explore other ideas. So you jump to some other project or idea. Exploring various ideas seems very exciting, that's why you feel a bit drained if you spend a lot of time on just one idea.
When your ideas are scattered like that, you need to work on polishing them and flushing them out. The best way is either writing about them, or talking to other people about them. If you're introverted, writing about them is probably easier, and even better perhaps.
This next bit might be controversial, but if you like starting projects more than finishing them, your personality might be xNTP on the Myers-Briggs indicator, which (the next bit is even more controversial) means you have "extraverted intuition". This basically means the same thing I said above: your ideas are all over the place, only when you express them do you get to solidify them and get a better picture.
I too get a thrill from starting a new project because it's still just a dream but seems acheivable. There's probably some cogsci reason for this, dopamine levels and so on. And when the project starts to drag on you're not getting that dopamine hit anymore and so you get an urge to start a new project to get that rush again.
What you need to do is learn to get a thrill from completing milestones. Being able to cross off one of the tasks on that whiteboard feels awfully damned good. I keep the crossed off tasks on the board for a while because I find that thrill of completing it lasts for a while and keeps me motivated to cross off the next one.
Also, do some research and consider vitamin therapy. There may be a brain chemistry issue that may be very treatable with aggressive nutrition.
Best of luck.
so now i'm doing exactly the advice i'm giving you, except with about half resolve and double the complexityâ€"advice is easier to give than to follow. i'm asking for help from the few who believe in me. here's an episode of a podcast that i've found catharticâ€" http://5by5.tv/b2w/7 â€"it doesn't get anything done, but it has gotten me thinking and laughing at least. listen to it while doing dishes or yardwork.
as for medicationâ€"i was diagnosed with depression and it ended up being vitamin d deficiency. also, yoga helps.
here on HN is an entertaining presentation by mike lee (http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Making-Apps-That-Dont-Suc...) in which he talks about selling everything to work for will shipley for one year without pay. so if none of my advice suits youâ€"do something crazy that propels you in the direction you want to go.
a) this isn't how it should work
b) this isn't how it normally works
c) they'll work to improve it
Hard to ask for too much more
"Leaky (YC S11) is Hipmunk for Car Insurance"
I honestly don't care if your new company is "* (YC S11) Is The Facebook for Unicorns," since it really tells me nothing. I have to figure out what a Hipmonk is before I can understand what they do. Hold on while I call the Dalai Lama to ask about the difference between a monk and a hipmonk.
Of the YC S11 batch with announcements up, it seems the Snapjoy folks are doing it right (from the front page):
"Snapjoy (YC S11) Will Organize Your Photos For You"
Now the Snapjoy announcement above provides concise and useful information about what they could do for me, the potential customer.
I'm usually quite pleased with what comes out of YC. That said, in this competitive market, I don't think that being nice (just because) helps anyone the week after launch.
I personally look forward to the day HN tears apart my project so I can say I truly learned something.
Has the culture around here gotten so hostile that a "be nice" request is needed?
Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.
To those startups who do not fight with valor? You will be subject to the mob, as was Airbnb. Even the Emperor will not be able to silence the cries for blood!
Startups... I salute you.
LET THE LAUNCHES BEGIN!
As for launching around the same time, I'm of the opinion that if your own (non-YC) startup is good enough, it will stand alongside, or even above some of the YC guys and perhaps "cash in" on the startup fervour around at the time.
With very few exceptions, I enjoy seeing what the YC crowd releases, but isn't this going a bit to far? Aren't we the perfect audience to provide constructive criticism? On the other hand, if you're asking us to be empathetic at the same time, I couldn't agree more.
no sense in wasting the launch PR boost when everyone is getting swarmed with pitches
Just maybe? The VC industry is going to wake up and go back to value investing - not FOMO throwing cash at everything, no matter the price
But Dave McLure says it's business as usual
Does that happen due to being flagged too many times or some other reason?
Hmm. The past 48 hours a lot of sites have been slow for me: HN, Salon, FARK, ...
I figured I was getting Cox'd. http://cox.com
nm, here it is: http://www.pcworld.com/article/237616/baseball_bat_sales_ris...
Capacity planning, they say :)
Don't worry about karma anyway. There are some people who will downvote you even if you're completely right. Don't delete it if it's really contributing to the thread. Some people disagree with reality.
Attempting to be helpful to the best of my ability. Ever since I first saw this I was doing my best to resist the temptation to suggest you must have stood too close to me at some point. But such humor is often a good way to get into trouble.
Best of luck figuring this out and, if you do, hey, give me a holler and let me know what the answer is.
Graze.com has been doing a recommendation-engine driven snack delivery service for several years now (they raised a $2.5m VC round from Octopus and DFJ) and are making revenues in the high millions.
Graze have a pretty proven business model by this stage, but given they only operate in the UK there's obviously the potential for someone to clone their business in other countries.
One suggestion: change the look of your site. Add pictures of candies. Make my eyes burn from the hot neon colors. Turn up the fun dial on the design!
"In statistics, particularly in the design of sequential experiments, a multi-armed bandit takes its name from a traditional slot machine (one-armed bandit). Multiple levers are considered in the motivating applications in statistics. When pulled, each lever provides a reward drawn from a distribution associated with that specific lever. The objective of the gambler is to maximize the sum of rewards earned through a sequence of lever pulls.
In practice, multi-armed bandits have been used to model the problem of managing research projects in a large organization, like a science foundation or a pharmaceutical company. Given its fixed budget, the problem is to allocate resources among the competing projects, whose properties are only partially known now but may be better understood as time passes.
In the early versions of the multi-armed bandit problem, the gambler has no initial knowledge about the levers. The crucial tradeoff the gambler faces at each trial is between "exploitation" of the lever that has the highest expected payoff and "exploration" to get more information about the expected payoffs of the other levers."
"[...] Îµ-greedy is probably the simplest and the most widely used strategy to solve the bandit problem and was first described by Watkins . The Îµ-greedy strategy consists of choosing a random lever with Îµ-frequency, and otherwise choosing the lever with the highest estimated mean, the estimation being based on the rewards observed thus far. Îµ must be in the open interval (0, 1) and its choice is left to the user. Methods that imply a binary distinction between exploitation (the greedy choice) and exploration (uniform probability over a set of levers) are known as semi-uniform methods."
I'm not trying to be flippant; I don't think spending the huge amount of time learning how to hack code is for everyone, especially if you don't have professors, TAs or bosses breathing down your neck to get stuff done.
If you're really motivated, ship something (anything!) that is used by someone other than you.
Good luck! :)
My second piece of advice is to find a problem, ideally a bunch of problems, that you want to solve and that programming can help you solve. Solve them. Definition of problem: something to solve. ;P e.g. a program that prints the Bottles of Beer lyrics out, increase the start number until you can crash/slow down your computer or server, build a blog website, image gallery, video game with PyGame, or in text, native QT app calculator, project Euler math problems, robots, whatever. The key is you have to have a desire to work on whatever you're working on. When you lose that desire for your current project, procrastinate by switching to a different project.
My third piece of advice is to learn how to use the git source control manager and interfacing with GitHub. Then troll some Python repositories ( https://github.com/search?type=Repositories&language=... ), find some with an open issues list and an issue that isn't assigned to a particular person, fix the issue if you want/can, and submit a pull request. Now you can say you've contributed to open source software!
Edit: if you really have no ideas of your own, which I'd find hard to believe, you can do a small project I've been meaning to get around to for a while so I can blog about it. (I blog mostly to my past self.) Implement a clone of the game Pong three times in an imperative, Object-Oriented, and functional style of programming.
If they're just copying you, continue to innovate. If one of them actually manages to come up with a good idea, steal it.
Above all, realize that the idea itself is not sufficient. The value lies in you, not the idea. You have to deliver a better product.
I can understand your being upset by the wholesale copying.
Sometimes the competitor can't actually deliver on what they promise: if you contact them, you could offer them affiliate marketing fees for sending traffic to your site (which presumably can deliver on what it promises).
You can probably report the ODesk job offer to ODesk. Their policies / Terms of Service probably include something like "Don't post jobs which constitute intellectual property infringement."
Lastly, you could just be the best in your category, and beat your competitors regardless of their shady tactics.
Clone them back - what are they doing that inspires you or you haven't thought of?
Call them out on your blog.
Find where they are leaving comments around the web and call them out.
2. Focus on your what you're doing and innovate
3. Market better and faster
Best of luck...
I am not sure about your website because I don't see the link, but if it's something you can patent, then you should do it, then you can sue. :)
If so, build a credit score. It'll take you 10-20 hours and make you thousands of dollars.
Easiest way from a scratch: Go into your bank, deposit money into a CD, get a secured loan against that CD.
Doing this correctly will make you lots later. I just got a couple new AMEX cards with 75,000 membership reward point signing bonuses each. Those can be used for $750 in statement credits. Yes, American Express just gave me $1,500 for signing up for new cards with them. Seriously. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for illustrative purposes. Get a credit score. You in 5 years will thank me for making/saving you thousands of dollars.
1) Build a network: I'd say that the valuable thing I have done is build a network. Attend industry conferences and events in your area, and become engrained in the startup community. Your age is an advantage, it gets you noticed, and means almost anyone will take a meeting with you. Put yourself in lots of situations that scare you, you'll look back and wonder what the big deal was. The best opportunities come when you're you're at the right place at the right time.
2) Learn to program: I'm 'non-technical', having just finished a degree in business marketing. Only recently have I really started making an effort to learn to program (mostly ruby), but I wish I had done it much earlier. Its important even if you never want to be a developer that you have a strong understanding of how things work and what's possible. Its also frustrating not to have the skills to have an idea and create a prototype, without spending your life savings or bringing on a partner.
3) Seize Opportunities: Early on I wasn't too particular about what opportunities I helped out with, if it got me excited, I was in. This mentality let me try a lot of different things and helped me learn better time management. You'll learn what you like and what you don't like. Don't be afraid to get in over your head.
Best of luck!
"I have a huge passion for the web and learning new things."
That's exactly what you should focus on. What catches your eye? Read up on the why's and what-for's of each faction of web reality, from data storage to real-time GUI processes. See what you think is most exciting, or which elements of the "real world" you want to be a part of, and see how technology helps them do their work better.
I hope you continue the path you are on: whatever direction you take, you will be ahead of the many around you that don't have that Passion. Match your work to your passion, and you can not help but excel-
In short: Stanford stands out in my mind as head-and-shoulders above the rest. After that, UC Berkeley.
If you shift to engineering (moreso than an entrepreneurship focus) MIT and Carnegie Mellon both have programs with good reputations.
Princeton, Harvard, and Yale also have great reputations, but I'm not sure how much of that comes from entrepreneurship in particular, and how much is just from their Ivy League aura in general.
Keep in mind that if you're into tech you'll get an advantage from a campus like MIT or Stanford. And it may not be a bad idea to visit a campus...
I like the idea. You should promote it on Reddit. The idea of throwing together a quick ad-hoc playlist is a needed one - This just appears to need some work. (Get a designer)
That seems like it'd lead to an HN that consisted mainly of discussion of things that're already being discussed elsewhere. To avoid that, some decoupling of communities so that what's at the top of HN is primarily driven internally is good, imo. But, perhaps there's a better way than devaluing externally driven votes.