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iPhone vs Android app sales: numbers from an indie developer
168 points by bignoggins  4 hours ago   51 comments top 20
zmmmmm 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks for helping to dispel this myth that has somehow developed that Android users "don't buy apps". I don't know how this idea got so entrenched. You can definitely make an argument that they buy somewhat less, but it's completely misleading to say they never buy any, which is what you will see commonly stated around the net.
dpcan 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree, the bloodbath of "Payment Declined" orders in our order inbox is downright infuriating. This is especially painful when customers email us saying that they purchase apps all the time on Android and their card didn't work only when they tried to order our games.

Agreed, this problem needs to be solved.

avgarrison 3 hours ago 4 replies      
It may be worthwhile for me to chime in here with my own stats, which are far less impressive than bignoggins. I recently ported my iOS app, BridgeBasher, to Android. I took a different route though. Since I had no users on Android, I thought the best thing to do would be to create an ad-based version on Android, mostly because I've heard a lot of people say that Android users are less likely to pay for apps. I decided on using Mobclix for advertising, and here are my stats:

Date - Android / iOS

 8/7/2011 - $2.16 / $142.00

 8/8/2011 - $1.68 / $97.00

 8/9/2011 - $1.15 / $84.00

 8/10/2011 - $1.82 / $76.00

 8/11/2011 - $0.98 / $78.00

 8/12/2011 - $0.57 / $103.00

 8/13/2011 - $0.59 / $88.00

 8/14/2011 - $0.72 / $102.00

 8/15/2011 - $0.43 / $74.00

 8/16/2011 - $0.44 / $75.00

 8/17/2011 - $0.18 / $88.00

Total - $10.54 / $1,007.00

This is obviously comparing apples to oranges, since the iOS version is paid ($0.99) and the Android version is ad revenue only, however given bignoggins success with a paid app on Android, I'm thinking I have made a mistake going the free route on Android.

Pewpewarrows 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad to see actual numbers rather than the usual circle-jerk of "only iOS makes money".
utnick 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting, what kind of marketing are you doing for the app? How are people hearing about it, just market searches?

1000+ downloads of a 2.99 app in the first couple weeks is pretty impressive, well done

rudiger 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Just want to say thanks. I bought the $2.99 iPhone app, and the ease of managing my team has definitely made me a few hundred dollars from bets with our pool over the season.
edawerd 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Regarding #3, I wrote a script that automatically emails the 20% of customers who get their orders declined, asking them to purchase the app directly through me using PayPal. A surprising number of them do. It's not a perfect solution, but at least it recovers some lost revenue. You can have this feature available for your app through http://www.AndroidLicenser.com
baconner 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Another android dev with (much) lower volume here. Curious how you know about errors driving that 20% number. Is there a report somewhere with this detail or is it just inferred from customer emails? The only failures I ever see come through are declined credit cards or the regular cancellations from users who used the 15min refund window.
seancron 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Any reason you didn't include iPad sales? There are also Android tablets, so unless none of your sales are for Honeycomb users it might not be a fair comparison.

I'd also be interested in seeing how it changes when you take into account ad revenue and in-app purchases. Do the numbers stay as close when you add them, or does one platform take the lead?

avgarrison 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting your figures! What did you do to advertise the new app on Android? I have recently ported one of my games from iOS to Android and even though it is free on Android, it is really having trouble getting traction, and this is even after sending an e-mail to 40k people and several hundred dollars in Admob advertising.

Edit: Ah, nevermind, I see you already answered this in your reply to utnick.

stevenwei 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the raw data. We've been considering doing an Android port but were not sure whether the resulting revenue would make it worthwhile. I'm glad to see that the Android paid app market is picking up steam.
sounalath 1 hour ago 1 reply      
just curious, what is the magic formula for high iOS downloads whether paid or free? good graphics? games? how do you go from zero downloads to many with new apps?
switchrodeo720 4 hours ago 3 replies      
It doesn't look like this is a fair comparison. If you ported your app from IOS to Android, then presumably the IOS version has had the opportunity to gain popularity already, which the Android version has not. I'm not a mobile app dev, but I assume that it takes some time before an app can gain popularity and hit it's sales peak.

It may make more sense to compare the first two weeks of IOS sales to the first two weeks of Android sales, even though they'll be different dates. Or, maybe that is what you're comparing and I just missed something.

caseorganic 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks so much for this.

This is helpful information and something I always wanted to see side-by-side. It's also very nice to see that it seems like in some cases it is worth making an Android port, but that you, even as a Java/.NET developer by profession find it more difficult to create a quality app on Android.

haydenevans 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
Simple yet biased answer: Android owners want free apps, iOS users are more willing to pay.
dageshi 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Very useful, thank you, could you keep us updated perhaps? It would be interesting to see how this matures as your app becomes more established in the android marketplace (or if this makes any difference at all).
iaskwhy 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the details. Feel like sharing numbers for the iPad too? Please?
mrpither 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Any plans to add winphone7 version now that it's mango time??
usagi7 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty awesome stats. Great job, man! Good insight.
marquis 3 hours ago 2 replies      
There are huge issues buying content on iTunes. Apple doesn't fix it or tell you, or help you get in touch with the developer to work around it.
Ask HN: Best cloud host?
7 points by ltamake  2 hours ago   4 comments top 4
rawsyntax 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I tend to use heroku's free plan for testing out ideas. I wrote a post detailing how here: http://rawsyntax.com/post/8737142015/host-your-side-project-...
AdamGibbins 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You need to define your interpretation of "cloud host". It varies a lot. Are you looking for a virtual machine host with a decent API? Or are you looking for someone to manage the stack of your software? In which case, what is your stack?
detour 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We've been using dotcloud (https://www.dotcloud.com/) and are quite happy with the results in testing. Haven't gone to production yet though so we'll see how they pan out in the long run.
goshakkk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If project is written in Ruby, take a look at Engine Yard and Heroku (it also supports node.js, Clojure and Java).
Interview Question: Why do you want to leave your company for this job?
3 points by isurfbecause  1 hour ago   7 comments top 5
njharman 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Tell them the truth.

"My current work is boring and stale maintaining intranet web applications. Been doing this for 5 years. I believe I've exhausted all opportunity for growth at current job. I'm looking for a change and a challenge."

davidst 1 hour ago 1 reply      
You just answered it. That's a perfectly fine, honest answer. The interviewer might follow up with a question about trying to get another position within the same company so be prepared to answer that.
matthiasb 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interview is all about honesty. I think there are 2 things you could say. The first reason is that you have been in your current job for a long time and you have learned a lot and became good at it. But it is not giving you any more challenge and growth that you are looking for professionally. Another reason you should think about is why this company is a better company than your current one. There is got to be a reason why this is a better fit for you professionally and personally. It could be what the company stand for, what they sell, or the technology you will be using, you name it.
brianm 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"Ready for something new" is the standard and boring, but fair answer to a totally unfair question.
jamesbrewer 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I have no experience in this area, so you can pretty much ignore any advice that follows.

I think I would be very honest about this question. I would tell the interviewer that my current job bores me and I don't feel intellectually challenge, which is important to me. If the interviewer doesn't understand why this is a problem then this company might not be one I want to work for anyways.

Ask HN: Recommend a book on Machine Learning and/or Graph Theory?
10 points by spxdcz  6 hours ago   6 comments top 6
apsurd 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: I'm a total n00b on this topic.

I'm trying to learn how to classify items as related within a dataset. I know http://directedge.com does this (funded by yc, run by #wheels) so I had a look at their articles which are a helpful beginners intro. http://directededge.com/tech.html

In one of the articles #wheels recommends http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596529321

so I'm going to pick that one up but to be clear I really have no idea if this book addresses graph theory specifically; at this point anything and everything is helpful to me.

pmiller2 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For graph theory, I recommend Doug West's Introduction to Graph Theory. http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Graph-Theory-Douglas-West... It's somewhat expensive, but worth the price. Also, Doug is a cool dude.
mindcrime 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It isn't published yet, but you can get the early access (MEAP) of Machine Learning in Action from Manning:


A good basic graph theory book is:


Depending on exactly what you're trying to do, you might also find some value in something like:


spxdcz 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I realise somebody asked a similar question about Graph Theory books already - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=865749 - but that discussion is two years old, and I was hoping there'd be something newer by now!

Also, I've found this free online (downloadable) book on Graph Theory to be really useful: http://code.google.com/p/graph-theory-algorithms-book/

linhir 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I would suggest Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning by Bishop.
bradleyy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hilary Mason's machine learning video is good:


It's more of a primer, but it seems like most of the other material assumes that you're already a practitioner. It does have enough depth to actually be somewhat proficient after watching it.

Ask HN : Is hacker a good terminology?
5 points by bo_Olean  5 hours ago   8 comments top 4
T_S_ 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not a bad way to discriminate between people based on how much they think about technology. The less informed only see the term when it appears in a bad news headline. Others know there is more that one meaning.

At Hacker Dojo we have experienced this first hand. Once we had a tv crew show up asking about the arrest of some Anonymous members. Nothing at all to do with us. There have been a couple of times we wished the name was the Mountain View Yacht Club.

gharbad 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The term hacker as someone who fiddles with technology out of curiosity predates the negative term for a malicious computer user. I believe it even predates computers.
mkr-hn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
People think a lot of wrong things. It's more productive to inform them when it comes up than it is to change the word you use.
thetabyte 4 hours ago 2 replies      
This will answer all your questions: http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html
If Software Is Eating The World, Why Don't Coders Get Any Respect?
535 points by throwaway37  2 days ago   256 comments top 75
Spyro7 2 days ago  replies      
This is a fantastic post. It is well written, and I agree with many of the authors points. Far from being angry, I think that the majority of people reading here on HN actually appreciate this type of critical analysis, and I think that it is a shame that it had to be posted on a throwaway account. However, I would like to present some alternative viewpoints for a few of the issues brought up in this post.

"As a doctor, however, someone like this - a top professional at the peak of their career - would probably make about $400,000. Partners at big law firms commonly net a million a year. Investment bankers are making several million (post-crash!). Top management consultants easily clear $500,000. Even a top accountant - probably a partner at a big 4 firm - would make two, three, or four times as much."

Hold on a second. What is the point that you are trying to make in this post. You say that you are talking about comparing computer programmers as compared to other highly skilled professionals, but then you narrow your focus to the highest percentile in each category. How many lawyers are partners in a big law firm out of the total number of lawyers? How many of these top management consultants clear $500,000?

The top performers in every industry will always make a salary that is amazingly higher than the median. However, unless you know the exact distributions of the salaries in each industry you can not meaningfully compare top performers. What good is it to know that a certain lawyer makes a million dollars a year without knowing how probable that outcome is relative to some more dreary alternatives.

When I started reading your post, I started reading it with the expectation that you were talking about the general market for programmers. Then about halfway through, it seemed to me that you had switched to talking about the very highest performers in the highly skilled labor market. Well, if that is what we are going to be talking about, then we should focus on it.

Look, the highest performers in the computer programming field are no longer called computer programmers. They are called CEOs and there is a high likelihood that they are very, very well compensated relative to the best performers in many other industries. However, as I said earlier, it is pointless to throw around anecdotes about how this 99.999th percentile individual made millions or this one made billions.

So, let's get back down to earth, and try to find some passably good numbers (not perfect, but better than nothing) to use as comparison points. Let's look at some numbers that may be more relevant with what someone around the 50th percentile would experience. All of the following links display ranges for salaries in each field. No, they are not the best samples available, but they are better than going without any data whatsoever.

Note: As stated on the site - all compensation data shown are gross, national from the 10th to 90th percentile ranges.

Physicians: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/People_with_Jobs_as_Phys...

Note: Physicians must have several years of residency as well as an M.D, so a programmer would already have 5 to 9 years of experience compared to a physician that is just beginning.

Lawyers: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Attorney_%2f_Lawyer/...

Lawyers in the states typically need a J.D. before they can actually begin being a lawyer, and law school is very expensive. I should also note, that the gravy train is slowing down dramatically for lawyers - http://www.economist.com/node/18651114

Software Engineers: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Software_Engineer_%2...

Sr. Software Engineers: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Sr._Software_Enginee...

Sr. Business Analyst: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Sr._Business_Analyst...

System Admins: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=System_Administrator...

Computer Programmers: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Computer_Programmer/...

Management Consultants: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Management_Consultan...

Investment Banking: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Associate_-_Investme...

Accountants: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Accountant/Salary/by...

Sr. Accountant (numbers look a little screwy here): http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Senior_Accountant/Sa...

Looking at those numbers, it does not seem to me that there is anything particularly wrong with computer programming as compared to other highly skilled professions. As a matter of fact, given that one can become a programmer without needing additional certification, it seems to me, at least, that computer programming is a great field to be in.

"What \"programmers can get rich in startups\" really means is \"entrepreneurs can get rich in startups\", whether they're programmers or bricklayers."

What is the percentage of bricklayers that get rich creating a startup? I don't have the number offhand, but I do know that there is no "Silicon Valley equivalent" for bricklayers. If there was really that vibrant of a bricklayer startup industry, then, due to agglomeration, you would expect there to be at least a few geographical areas where there was a high concentration of bricklaying startup business being conducted (think something like Wall Street).

"I think it isn't. I think the country would be better off if MIT computer science students, like their neighbors at Harvard Law School, could dream of growing up to be President. And I think we'd all be better of if computer science wasn't just seen as a major for socially awkward nerds."

I agree completely, and, actually, I agree with many of your other points as well. That's the thing though, when you are talking about programmer respect it seemed as though confused several different "types" of respect - compensation, entrepreneurship, political pull. With regards to the first type of respect (compensation), I disagree with you because the data for compensation suggests that an alternative hypothesis may be true. With regards to the second type (entrepreneurship), I cannot definitively definitively say either way but neither can you because the data needed to compare the numbers of successful entrepreneurs in different industries does not seem to be readily available.

With regards to the third type (political pull), I agree with you, but I think that perhaps their are deeper things. I have some hypothesis:

1. Perhaps the skills that it takes to do well in politics in the U.S. are somewhat orthogonal to the skills that it takes to build a multi-million dollar software firm from nothing and run it? How could an engineer win an election where the campaigning generally consists of 5 second soundbites and smear campaigns?

2. Maybe the problem is the general youth of the industry. The software industry is in its infancy. Maybe, over time, as it grows deeper roots, it will acquire more political power and influence? This is a fairly likely hypothesis.

Finally, I would like to address one last point:

"When the government wants to bring in more workers from overseas - which obviously lowers salaries, and reduces job security - who do they bring in?"

The problem is actually not so obvious:

* Are the programmers entering the country working in the same exact fields and at the same levels of expertise as the programmers that are local? If this is not the case, then the impact on pre-existing salaries would be negligible.

* Are the programmers entering the country located in similar geographical areas to the programmers that are local? If this is not the case, then, again, you are not likely to see much of an impact.

* Do the programmers entering the country require additional training as compared to local programmers? If this is the case, then they would have lower compensation not because they are willing to work for less but because they are being compensated in the form of additional training.

* Is the industry rapidly growing? If this is the case, then it may be conceivable that existing programmers and programmers entering the country would both benefit as the growing industry has room for them both.

* Of course, one can always increase pay through artificial scarcity, but the problem with doing this is that it ends up costing society by resulting in a deadweight loss - consumer and producer benefits that are never obtained due to artificially high market prices.

* There are quite a few other things, but this post is now more than long enough, and I really need to get back to work.

wheels 2 days ago  replies      
There are a lot of very fundamental misunderstandings of economics and labor structures in here. But I'll start with the general objection that you'll run into:

The core of your argument is entitled whining.

Computer programmers can make truckloads of money the same way that everyone else can: by seeking it. If your professional goals are aligned with making money, then your chances of making a lot of money go way up. Top lawyers aren't paid the most because they know the law the best; that's ancillary. They're paid big bucks because they win money for their clients, prevent their clients from losing money and build networks to people that have money to give them. Likewise, programmers who define their goals economically (which broadly includes creating value for users) have nearly unparalleled earning potential.

8 of the 20 richest people in America are (or have been, at least nominally) programmers.

The crux of things is that you don't get rich for being a skilled technician -- and I use that word broadly. Lawyers don't get rich for knowing the law, bankers don't get rich for understanding economics and programmers don't get rich for slinging code. You get rich by creating value (or at least tying yourself at an opportune moment to a benefactor whose goals are so aligned).

The rest of folks are compensated at prevailing market rates for their technical skills -- and incidentally, American programmers are paid better than in almost any other country.

But claiming that "computer programmers don't get respect" is broken on so many levels. First, computer programmers are certainly among the most respected trades. You need to interact with a broader cross-section of society if you believe that not to be the case. Second, the baseline for becoming a programmer isn't very high -- certainly nothing on the order of becoming a doctor or lawyer. The median programmer has jumped over far fewer hurdles than the median doctor or lawyer. (I got my first programming job at 17. I'd have needed another decade of non-trivial training before I'd have been able to get a job as a doctor.) The spectrum is far broader for programmers, and as such, the respect a programmer commands has more to do with their actual status within those ranks than simply being a part of that trade. But again, the spectrum extends up to "richest person in the world", so we're hardly being shafted.

If being respected among the elite is something that you want, align your goals with that. If it's not, enjoy the fact that you're in a trade where even untrained, mediocre practitioners reach the top 10% of American incomes.

patio11 2 days ago 3 replies      
There are many people who sling code who make as much as a doctor or partner at a law firm. More than a few people on HN fit that description, actually.

A partner at a law firm is a businessman first and an individual producer of lawyering second. He has people to do that for him. Many - but not all - ways to do extraordinarily well as a programmer involve becoming a businessman first and a code slinger forty-second. There are many people on HN who run consultancies. If you're unaware how the numbers shake out, ask them what percentage of the money they get came in from billable hours programming and what percentage came from e.g. the delta between what they charge for consultants and what they pay them, or the line-item fees which have no associated hours.

I keep giving this advice: stop calling yourself a programmer. You're right, it is anomalously highly paid and low status. So call yourself something else. If you sling code and make businesses serious money and are sophisticated about extracting that value, you will be quite highly paid indeed.

With regards to social status: most white collar laborers don't really have it. You could be a payroll clerk, so count your blessings. If you want it, either a) find a peer group where you have it or b) use code slinging to achieve something society values. You know how teachers have status? Try the line "I helped X million kids learn to read last year" out some time. (Helpful if it is true, obviously.). Or you can just wait until society moves in the direction of Programming is Sexy. (Not as far fetched as you might think. My girlfriend and her circle of friends loved Social Network. If I had reputational stock I'd be IPOing right now.)

mechanical_fish 2 days ago 1 reply      
Quite a few good replies in this thread already. Let me just add a couple points:

Engineering, done right, is an invisible art. Doctoring and lawyering done right are intensely personal activities, service businesses with one-on-one human attention. Good engineers fade into the background. Engineers make objects and the objects speak for themselves. You probably can't name the engineer who recorded and mixed the sound on your favorite new record. You almost certainly can't name the engineers who designed all your local bridges and rail systems. We don't even know how many people designed, say, the smart cover for the iPad 2. All of this is by design.

Engineers also rip and mix and burn and create things that are the sum total of a lot of individual efforts. I don't even know if I'm the engineer responsible for the test software that tested the wafer that spawned the chip that went into your cell phone that filters the RF frequencies in your cellular radio. There are very good odds that I am: I wrote such software, and last I heard it was still running and my old company is still selling chips. Again, this is how proper engineering works. Many of the best people you'll ever meet work outside the spotlight, quietly making their corner of the system better.

Engineering is a worldbuilding activity. The objects become famous, not us, but even the objects' fame is fleeting. The marvel of one age is the boring infrastructure of the next. But, hey, at least you get to change the world. Fame isn't everything.

nirvana 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think you make several excellent points, and I unexpectedly found myself agreeing with you. I thought $150k was a lot of money, but had never stopped to think about the fact that the other alumni of my school who became doctors are making far more.

I think the reason we're seeing this is that programming has been commoditized quite successfully by an industry that saw they needed programmers but that did not know how to judge the quality of a programmer. Doctors certainly vary greatly in quality, but doctors are unionized after a fashion by the AMA, and they have managed to put into place artificial supply controls (regulation and licensure) that keep incomes higher.

The software development industry has gone the other way- instead of limiting the number of programmers (not necessarily a good thing, but it would boost incomes) we've developed quite a bit of process to try and make programmers interchangeable. I'm talking about much of the "best practice" and even the entire attitude that programmers should not be "lone guns" but part of a homogenous collective of coders. Everything from pair programming to test driven development to code reviews serves the process of making programmers homogenous and interchangeable, and thus more easily replaceable.

I also think that the Legal and Medical and Finance professions have developed for centuries in an environment where they were able to artificially limit the number of practitioners, and artificially boost the "Establishment credibility" that they received. I don't think most politicians are lawyers because lawyers are good leaders, but because lawyers were able to establish that career path as one of their own.

Software development, in contrast, is much newer, and currently is much closer to a free market.

bignoggins 2 days ago 4 replies      
I think one of the reasons programmers are not paid as much is that by and large, we are seen as interchangeable cogs. There are definitely exceptions, but I think the companies that think this way are large enough to set the market rate. For example, I used to work for a large defense company that probably had more software engineers than every startup in the world combined (we hired 10% of all CS graduates in the country every year). The prevailing attitude was to pay as little as they could get away with because there is always some new naive college CS grad to replace those who left.
makecheck 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a programmer I'll comment on why I wouldn't fit into some of the molds you've suggested that programmers might join. (Personal opinion, of course.)

1. As a general rule, I am very unwilling to put up with crap...life is too short. I also want to be productive with the energy I put into something. If you are hired in a technical job, you can reasonably expect to be around competence (and if you're not, you leave). The biggest reason I would never see myself joining Congress, or upper management at some companies, and similar jobs, is this: I can already see who my co-workers would be, and they're horrible people. I've seen what a lot of these clowns are capable of, and you couldn't pay me enough to be the only smart man in the room. It would be day after day of banging my head against the wall and wasting my breath.

I believe that the only way you'll ever see engineers enter these kinds of jobs is if you can simultaneously replace a huge percentage of an organization with new people: the kind of people that engineers can believe in and work effectively with. It has to be appealing from the outside, and right now it just isn't.

2. I enjoy most work. As long as I'm making cool stuff and I can be proud of what I produce, I'm pretty happy. I am more stressed about things that have technical consequences (e.g. somebody pushing for a change that I know will be a long-term negative), than I am about salary.

In other words, if it wasn't so easy to find enjoyable work doing actual programming and the "important" jobs weren't so maddeningly filled with annoying individuals, you probably would see engineers doing other things.

onan_barbarian 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a startling array of claims, which is unfortunate, as there's a reasonable debate to be had here.

Unfortunately, I think starting off with a tl;dr rant, including such howlers as comparing the growth rate of a developing and a developed country isn't the way to get going, not to mention citing Microsoft's current leadership as evidence that programmers can't get anywhere. Erm, I vaguely recall someone else running Microsoft on its way to success... Bill someone?

As an aside, given the vast amount of political crackpottery - plenty of which is in evidence here at HN - among programmers, I have to say that I'm not hugely saddened that congress isn't stuffed with developers.

There's a serious debate to be had here, but not with this wild, ranting start from a throwaway account.

kemiller 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see this mentioned anywhere, but one very important difference between programmers and the other professions is that doctors and lawyers have not only a high bar to entry, but a legal monopoly. There is outsourcing of legal review and radiology, but still not on the scale of programming. There's also the matter that doctors save lives, and lawyers either bring justice to the aggrieved, or keep you out of jail. OK, most of them actually don't do those things, but those are the images we have in our minds, and that's part of what makes them respectable.

If we professionalized and forced anyone calling themselves a programmer to meet a very high bar of competence, things would look pretty different. The median salary would be higher. My guess is that we wouldn't see anything like the dynamism of the startup community. Think of how slow-moving and conservative both medicine and the law are compared to programming. You could argue that that's not a bad thing, but it would certainly be very different.

I would love to see the top programmers get respect for doing what they do, instead of having to become marketers, but I'm just not sure it's how the world works. To make money, you have to convince someone else to give it to you. Most people working in a job only make it linearly because they only have a relationship with one customer. Many more fortunes are made by figuring out how to serve MANY customers than are made by finding a single customer with very deep pockets who needs you badly.

wladimir 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Are programmers top government advisors? Are they national heroes? Do doctors and lawyers and policemen tell their children that, if they work hard and practice, one day they can grow up to be a programmer? No. Obviously not."

No. Because a majority of people don't like software, programmers and automation. They don't see programmers as an example because they don't want it to be this way.

1) They are perceived as eating their jobs. You can explain increased productivity all day, but someone out of a job due to a computer program curses you.

2) It is hard to understand for laymen what they actually do. A doctor's jargon is also hard to understand, but at least solves problems visible to most.

A lot of people are borderline-luddites, others are more compromising and like applied technology as long as it serves them. But very few, I think only scientists and programmers (and the people that get rich from them) actually like where the world is going.

Not that it is possible to stop the software eating the world... It could be that the problem will solve itself, eventually, because the more of the world is 'eaten' by computers and software, the more powerful the people controlling them will be.

kenver 2 days ago 2 replies      
My girlfriend's a finance lawyer for a really big firm, she earns about 50% more than me and I image that in a couple of years will probably earn even more.

To get this she is required to work any weekend clients need her to (even if it means cancelling a planned holiday), any evening they need her to (pretty much all of them) and she has to read boring stuff constantly.

I on the other hand finish work after my 40 hours and go home. If I want to get some extra work I'll ask a couple of contacts if anything is going and go to the cafe with a couple of beers and have some coding fun.

I don't accept that we earn a lot less than other professionals. My pay/hours is certainly comparable to any other professional in the area I work, and I love doing what I do. If I ever earn $500,000 I'm pretty sure the hours I put in will be astronomical, and if that happens I'll probably die before I get to spend the money anyway.

BrandonM 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's really hard to get rich in the world by following an easy path. All things considered (prerequisite education, initial debt, work hours, desirability of everyday work), the average cog-like computer programmer is somewhere close to the top.

If you want to make money, stop whining and go make it. Negotiate a better salary with your company. Find someone with a problem and solve it. Realize an inefficiency in the world and fix it. The people who make money and love life don't do it by lobbying.

Here's a secret: you don't have to have any education to make good money. My stepmother started breeding German Shepherds when I was a child. She now sells them for $2000+ each, for family pets (http://minternsgermanshepherds.com if you're interested). She didn't even finish high school. She now pays a couple teenagers to help with the laborious task of caring for dozens of dogs.

My brother turned down a pharmacy scholarship to join the Marines. By the time he finished his five year tour-of-duty, he had established himself in the field of performance diesel trucks. He's helping people make 7,200-pound trucks do 10-second quarter miles (think Fast and the Furious). He runs his own garage (http://dieseladdiction.com if you're interested). He gets there at 6 AM and doesn't leave until 5 PM or later. He's booking people a month out because his schedule is so full, and he just keeps raising his rates. He now has two guys working for him and will be looking to hire another soon.

By and large, the people who make lots of money do it by working really hard. They develop their expertise to a point where there are perhaps one or two competitors even close to their level. The product they provide is something that people want and are willing to pay money for. They grow their business beyond themselves and enable others to make a living, too.

I don't want to work that hard. I'm happy to be able to use my expertise to improve my stepmom's or my brother's business operations. I can build them websites, automate some of their clerical tasks, and otherwise support what they do. But I don't lose sight of the fact that they are the ones creating the value in the first place. They put in the hard work to make the lives of thousands of people better in some small way, and I just grease the gears.

People want great pets. People want fast trucks. People don't want computer programs, they want better lives. When programmers actually align themselves with something people want, they do just fine.

If we want to be able to clock in at 10 or 11 and leave by 6 or 7, to enjoy what we do, to avoid taking full ownership of the product, to be generally stress-free, to not take some fucking initiative, then no, sorry to tell you, we're not going to do better than a well-above-average salary. You don't get rich by being lazy.

olalonde 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it all boils down to the fact there's no such thing as free market capitalism in America. All those well respected jobs you mentioned have special privileges provided by the government. Banking, finance, law, accounting and healthcare are heavily regulated industries. They don't have to compete with third world countries nor with Americans without the proper certifications.

Call me a libertarian, but I truly believe there lies the problem.

alsoathrowaway 2 days ago 5 replies      
I think you're misrepresenting a few things, so I'll take a stab at it:

1. Senior software engineers at Google in Mountain View make over $200k all told.

2. Senior software engineer is in the middle of the Google ladder. The bulk of engineers at Google are senior level, so it's not special. The very best engineers make more.

3. You are vastly overstating the salary and difficulty of other fields.

3a. Doctor - You have to go through medical school and residency. Medical school incurs a ton of debt and residency pays shit. The average salary for a doctor in Silicon Valley is $200k.

3b. Investment banking and management consulting - first of all, in these fields, a few people make a ton of money, but most don't make nearly as much. Both of these fields are known for their horrendous hours. I'd rather work 40 hours at $200k than 80 hours at $500k.

4. There are also big winners in the programmer world. People who went to good startups early (Facebook, Google).

5. Many programmers _enjoy_ their work. How many can say the same about investment banking, lawyering, or management consulting?

wyclif 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm partial to some of this, but since others here have covered other problems with your argument, I'll limit myself to one of your points that hasn't been dealt with. You say:

Is it good for the country that Silicon Valley, arguably the best-performing sector of the economy, has next to no influence in politics

Next to no influence in politics? Seriously? All the major software companies (GOOG, MSFT, APPL) spend enormous sums of money on lobbyists to influence the passing of favourable laws in Washington:

[Google] now has 12 lobbyists and lobbying-related professionals on staff here -- more than double the size of the standard corporate lobbying office -- and is continuing to add people.

Its in-house talent includes such veteran government insiders as communications director Robert Boorstin, a speechwriter and foreign policy adviser in the Clinton White House, and Jamie Brown, a White House lobbyist under President Bush.

Google has also hired some heavyweight outside help to lobby, including the Podesta Group, led by Democrat Anthony T. Podesta, and the law firm King & Spalding, led by former Republican senators Daniel R. Coats (Ind.) and Connie Mack (Fla.). To help steer through regulatory approvals in its proposed acquisition of DoubleClick, an online advertising company, Google recently retained the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.


PostOnce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of the mentioned professions, law, accounting, medicine, legally require a degree, a minimum number of years invested in school, continuing education, and a license. Then there are malpractice suits, longer work hours, doctors being on-call, etc. If you fuck up as a doctor, someone dies. If you fuck up as a programmer, you might cost someone some money. Usually nothing happens, you just fix it.

Computer programming is one of the very, very few fields where you can make a lot of money doing very little work without having even a GED.

Plenty of programmers make 80-100k/yr, and a great number of lawyers make less than that. How many state-level attorneys make <70K? You'd be surprised.

In summary, programmers have other advantages than pay, and still get paid rather well considering the low barrier to entry in that profession. My work situation is pretty plum, and I don't exactly have a formidable resume. I'm grateful. If I were aiming to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, I'd still be in school. And in the long term, I'll end up making more than if I pursued one of those paths, I'd wager.

pradocchia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Barriers to entry in programming are still low, and programming itself is still fiercely creative and competitive. Just look at all the languages, frameworks and platforms.

By comparison, law and medicine have long since circled the wagons. It used to be that to be a lawyer, you only needed to pass the bar in your state of practice. Sure, many aspiring lawyers did attend law school, but the profession was not hermetically sealed. Today, you have to pass the bar and have graduated from an accredited law school, at tremendous cost. Same story w/ medicine.

So these $400K salaries do not translate to $400K in value produced. Maybe $100K, maybe $200K, but the remainder is rent-seeking. Meanwhile, your modest salary of $75-150K if anything undervalues your product. And this is good! You have a produced a surplus. You are the engine of progress. Yes the rentiers will take their cut, but the rest returns to society and benefits society.

shawnjan8 2 days ago 3 replies      
Dare I say it... but could part of the problem be a complete lack of unions? Not to suggest every programmer who wants a job needs to join a union, but AFAIK there are very little programming jobs which are part of a union. Here are some thoughts.

The reason hockey players have agents is because the hockey players focus on playing hockey, while the agent focuses on understanding how much value the player brings to the team, and tries to extract at the margin the price a team is willing to play. Likewise with unions, they have negotiators who understand the value that these employees bring, and try to extract how much the company is willing to pay these employees at the margin to still turn acceptable profits.

Programmers do not seem to have this - many program because they enjoy it, and companies take advantage of this fact. I believe many doctors are part of organized unions, as well as other engineering professions. I do not suggest that startups should have unions, but maybe unions should be introduced into companies which employ a large number of software engineers, that way they can worry about coding, and the union can worry about salaries being fair. Thoughts?

baltcode 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the big reasons that lawyers and doctors make a lot more money is because they use regulation and the coercive power of the state for the benefit of their cartel. You are going to get a top of the line lawyer and pay through the nose because your business, freedom, even your life may depend on it. The number of lawyers and doctors is limited to an artificial shortage due to bar exams and number of residency spots. Non-US bar exams and residencies, no matter how qualified, are not recognized. That means a top neurosurgeon from the most prestigious hospital in any country can not practice in the US unless he spends 6+ years in a US residency program.

Now, does that mean that programmers should clamor for more regulation in their trade? Of course not! for one, that would mean that the current lead of the US in the tech industry would be replaced by over-priced, substandard products and harm the culture of innovation and freedom. Instead, if many of these regulations in other areas were brought down, young programmers making 60k won't have to pay exhorbitant sums for simple things like getting a root canal or registering a business or fighting off patent harassment.

gcv 2 days ago 0 replies      
(Lots of great comments in this thread, on all sides of the issue. Bravo, HN!)

One thing to keep in mind when comparing programming to law and medicine: a high-school dropout can be an adequate programmer and earn a good living writing Rails (between 65k and 90k at start, depending on location). Most other high-end white collar jobs require extensive education. A physician has to put himself through college, pre-med, medical school, residency, possibly a fellowship, and only then commands a high income. A 30-year old orthopedic surgery resident making 45k probably isn't thrilled that he has another five years of indentured servitude before he can claim a serious income and start paying off 250k of medical school debt. Law school is similar. Using an MBA to switch careers into finance is similar.

In essence, programming jobs can trade off relatively high income early on for an income which maxes out in the late 20s or early 30s. Law and medicine start with much higher requirements, take much longer to spin up, but have much better-defined career paths leading to higher income.

Entry-level Wall Street jobs (I mean real Wall Street jobs, not IT) work a little differently, in that they do offer excellent income up front and a lucrative career path, but require a degree and high GPA from a top school to get in. So they aren't really representative of an opportunity which most people have.

mnutt 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the many differences between programming and medicine, law, etc is that entry into the latter fields is tightly controlled by governing bodies. Anybody can read a programming book and start working, but only so many law students graduate each year. So in that sense it's not that programmers' salaries are artificially low, it's that those other professions pay artificially well.
webrakadabra 2 days ago 1 reply      
Respect and money are two different things. Armed forces command great respect and little money. Doctors command good respect and earn good money. But Lawyers command little respect but earn lots of money.

Doctors save lives, Soldiers defend lives, Lawyers win you lives, Teachers build lives. All of them impact lives, This is where respect comes from. And Software programmers ? They make software which at best speeds up, accurate up other primary professions. In that sense, Software programmer supports the other primary professions. I say software programming is a support profession.

And then money ? Money comes from the value provided by a profession to people's lives. As of today, Software makes our lives easier but does not add much of a value to life as other primary professions do. Software profession helps but not create/add value to life by itself.

Even for a support profession, It takes time to mature and join the big league of primary professions. Software programming is relative new entrant in league of professions. It can wait until the day it will impact lives in a way we have not known before rather than helping already known ways !

alexro 2 days ago 1 reply      
Software is eating the world and we are part of that world, so software is eating us too!

But unlike lawyers, doctors and bankers we don't have artificial barriers make the industry protected.

kayoone 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doctors, Lawyers etc usually work and bill by the hour. Be a top software consultant and you can make $200k-500k a year as "easy" as those other fields.
Of course its still not easy to make $500k a year, but it also isnt that easy for the other jobs you mentioned.
You need to be really good, have good clients with deep pockets who have lots of work for you and its probably easier to reach that kind of money than with other jobs.
alexro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't you think that the real reason for their prosperity is that doctors, lawyers and bankers create their wealth collectively and sometimes collaboratively robbing people?

They create work for themselves with some hardwared awareness of their needs.

One doctor doesn't do all the job on yourself, sometimes does a bad job on their subject matter and you get to spend thousands to have this fixed.

Lawyers set up laws that everyone needs to follow and you need other lawyers to help you with that.

I don't even start talking about bankers ...

When programmers become congressmen or create a closed industry like medical services then we can talk about wealth y developers.

billconan 2 days ago 2 replies      
agriculture is important, crucial and fundamental to human beings, while farmers don't usually get paid too much.

Maybe lawyers shouldn't get that much money. Sometimes, they just don't contribute to humankind. Look at the patent war.

Maybe programmers are underpaid, But I think someones else are overpaid.

jezclaremurugan 2 days ago 0 replies      
One reason salary is too low for programmers,
a normal engineering grad joining Infosys, TCS, Accenture, Cognizant etc. in India, is paid approx $10,000 and you guys compete with them for jobs.

PS: I am an Indian, working in one of those jobs.

hxa7241 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is a big confusion here between personal credit and objective physical properties.

Software is 'eating the world' because it is the most super-efficient building material ever invented.

You could say the wheel 'ate the world', but not because each person making each wheel is a genius, but because of the general physical properties and value of roundness. The overall benefit is not a matter of individual credit or respect, it is a matter of physics.

We should be paying the total programming workforce for the total (personal) effort required, not the absolute (objective) 'value' returned. The excess of value is gain: you do not need to pay anyone, it is a free gift from physical reality.

Now, whether programmers' pay compares 'fairly' with anyone else is still an open question, but the physical facts of software being great stuff does not (or should not) seem to justify one side or the other.

HaloZero 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think one issue that maybe takes into account is that all the professions mentioned that do have respect (except wall street bankers of course) are professions that directly interact with people.

Software Engineers on the other hand build a product, which faces the user, but you never really get to see the programmer or interact with him. Our impact on society is a second step from the software that we create.

kelleyk 2 days ago 2 replies      
There are a number of points I'd like to disagree with, but to start:

- $150,000 is much less than a top-flight engineer like the one you're describing might make; it's not out of the realm of possibility for what an engineer with a good pedigree might make his first year out of school, if he went to work for a big company.

- The engineer went to school for four/five/six years and then went to work. The doctor who earns $300-400k went through a four-year university degree, four years of medical school, and a residency or fellowship before he started earning money. Some specialists, like neurosurgeons, take at least 11 years after getting their undergraduate degree before they really "get their wings." Not only are their then-substantial salaries offset by the huge delay in getting those salaries (residents make, what, $35k?) but they also have to pay for things like malpractice insurance, which can be in the six-figure range.

nihilocrat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Because our main job skills do not revolve around self-promotion and manipulation of others.
bglbrg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding governance - most ambitious politicians appear to be extroverts. I'm not an engineer but there are many in my family and they're not the most gregarious sort. Is this an inaccurate stereotype? I wonder if despite highly intelligent, moral attributes, our technologists, research scientists, etc. are not attracted to the intense social demands and / or rewards of politics. Are our smart, worthy introverts "opting out?" If so, it's a shame. But on the other hand, no-one will be coming by to tap you on the shoulder for such roles, even my neighborhood councilman has to hustle.
hessenwolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
To the business world, you work in IT. They don't understand the difference between the person who plugs in the monitor and the person who designs their perfectly modularised accounting software landscape.

It sucks, but there is a major education gap amongst non-techs about what computer people do.

grammaton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Programmers are janitors.

Everyone wants software, but no one really respects the developers. Just like everyone wants a clean building to work in, but no one really respects the janitor.

SudarshanP 2 days ago 0 replies      
The lawyers/MBAs and doctors will be disrupted. This is already happening... Then they will be on the streets. all the low level jobs in Backoffice and law is getting outsourced. So if u r getting into law... u should actually be capable of creating value. Just look at all those industries that Apple Amazon etc are disrupting... No Newspaper also means the news paper does not need expensive lawyers, MBAs etc. Of course you could say Apple,Amazon,Google etc. will need the lawyers MBAs etc. But these few players need far less external help and glue coz they have captured most of the supply chain.

Imagine a device where u put a drop of blood/urine etc and out pops a diagnosis. Imagine a pharma company in a box which synthesizes a medicine on demand using basic raw materials. Then there are diagnostic solutions like IBMs Watson...

Education and healthcare will take much longer than Print/Retail/Music/Advertising/Communications to get disrupted... When these get disrupted, they will hurt more than they needed to coz of enjoying the protectionism.

There will always be demand for Good Doctors/Teachers/Programmers/Lawyers/MBAs... But those whose existence depends solely depends on protectionism or monopolies are going to see their jobs disrupted.

arethuza 2 days ago 0 replies      
"To be one of the highest-paid, most-wanted jobs. It isn't. Why not"

Because the barriers to entry are really low and there is a vast supply of people willing to have a go.

And, I have to say, compared to many fields most development isn't actually that difficult - I suspect a reasonably intelligent and motivated person could probably be trained to do 95% of all development jobs within a year or so.

mattm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anecdotal but I was recently contracting for a place that was developing web software for the first time. Even though I had pretty much wrote all the code on their system with them having hired and gone through 5 other programmers, the comment that caused me to leave was

"Why are we paying this guy when we could just hire someone from high school for $10/hr?"

jmra 2 days ago 0 replies      
The world runs on electricity, education, petrol, food, construction, clothers... what is really happening and what Andreesen should be saying is that now software is totally mainstream, not a hobbie or a hackers thing. And as so, we are part of society. But, you know, most people work in important industries and yet doesn't have the respect they deserve. Think in food supply or water supply, when was the last time you found someone famous related to water suply, which who was awarded and so?
brndnhy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Once the fruits of someone else's labor is a concern, you've lost.

Stay interested and keep working hard.

We're people who build things.

Our fortune is a natural one -- not money and not even respect.

It's that we are getting paid to learn new things every single day.

scottjad 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Given how important [education] is, then, you'd expect [teachers] ... to be one of the highest-paid, most-wanted jobs. It isn't. Why not?

The wages for teachers and programmers are set the same way as the price for any good, e.g. bananas.

Not by vague notions of importance, value, or respect, but by supply or demand.

When people start arguing that foo good (profession) with a low price (wage) is inherently more important than bar good, I think of a person arguing that bananas are more important than apples and should have a higher price, disregarding their supply and demand differences.

seri 2 days ago 0 replies      
The content of the orignal post may be questionable, but I feel it was written in a way that would trigger a heated debate. For that, mission accomplished. There has been many wise comments, but they all choose to take a branch of the post to dig into. Not to blame them, as the question raised here is basically:

    The software industry has huge impact on human lives 
but such impact has not been materialized in terms of
both cash and social status for its practicioners.
True or false?

And it boils down to too many things to talk about all at once. Maybe it would help to break them into sub-topics to make it easier to link the seemingly disconnected but insightful points posted here:

1. Are lawyers and investment bankers overpaid? If they are overpaid, one can't say software engineers are underpaid by comparing to them.

2. So the software industry impacts lives, but is it all positive? Maybe society isn't that much better off with all this digitalization. There is a chance that the total value of the industry is being inflated.

3. Are we concerned that the median and average salaries of software engineers are too low (a), or are we concerned that the elite programmers are not being paid as high as top attorneys (b)? We can solve (a) by raising barriers to entry, much like in other elite fields, but is that a good thing to do? As for (b), elite programmers are now called startup founders. If entrepreneurship is made easier in the software industry, then things seem fair.

4. Now speaking of social status, I think programmers aren't cool because nerds aren't cool, not because they are paid less. Pick a programmer and an accountant with the same salary, and the accountant is more likely to shine in social outings. But if the whole industry raises its average salary, then yes, the social status of being a coder will increase. We are back to the question raised in (3a).

5. About political power, I think this is more of a problem with motivation. To be motivated enough to run for office, you have to be hungry for fame and power. However, it's a good point that the government could benefit from having more top engineers. See a related post: http://lemire.me/blog/archives/2011/08/22/linux-and-the-fina...

6. Is China really on the right track?

nivertech 2 days ago 0 replies      
Software is just automation.
You need to know problem domain to get any respect.

Traders in Hedge Funds will always get more respects than quants.

Physicists and Electronics engineers in Semi industry will always get more respect than software engineers.

Sales guys will get more respect than programmers in companies like EMC or VMWare.


analyst74 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aside from the many good points being raised here. I'd like to add 2 more:

1, in terms of making money, there is a mis-match within programmer world. You earn respect from other programmers by being great programmer, not by making a lot of money. So you are in a hard-spot if you strive to be a great programmer and rich.

While on the other hand, most dentists, lawyers, bankers's status within their own circles are highly related to their financial success.

2, the world of programming does have barrier of entry, not to the general run-of-the-mill programming jobs, but to programming jobs creating high values. You can come off the street and make a website, which don't make you rich, but you can't just start doing financial programming, or work for Google without some proven track record.

oldpond 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting post. I have to agree with you that there is something wrong with our line of business. I think part of the problem is that we are still feeling the affects of the "lights out operations" fad from the nineties. This was when "Big IT" convinced all the companies to automate an outsource. That's when we first became a liability to our companies instead of an asset. Since then there's been a couple of distractions in the IT industry (Y2K, dot.com bubble, and the current get-rich-with-the-cloud phase), but for the most part I still feel business sees us as an unfortunate necessity. My kids have had a keyboard in front of them since they could sit up straight, but neither of them are interested in an IT career. I think we are a lot like plumbers now; everyone wants a flush toilet, but nobody wants to deal with the pipes.
rameshnid 2 days ago 0 replies      
In my opinion, software is a risky business, like hollywood. You probably can act better than Depp but you are struggling because you have not yet been noticed or given an opportunity.

Your best bet is to love doing what you are doing - acting or programming. Also plan your life according to what you are making and be content. Leave the rest to fate.

adamrneary 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that so many of the comments/replies to this post accept the premise that programmers are underpaid and don't get respect.

Everyone I know who writes code is making a hell of a lot more than people who aren't. The people I know at Google aren't making $150k. They are making a lot more and would be making a lot less as a management consultant or a politician or whatever else.

In fact, to say that top management consultants clear $500k is true, but top engineers clear a lot more, both of those industries strike me as massively paid industries.

Then there's banking. Engineers at banks make ridiculous amounts of money just like non-engineers working at investment banks.

Sure, there are engineers working for $60k just like there are management consultants working for $60k.

But I know a lot of unemployed management consultants, and I don't know a single unemployed engineer.

So I think people have raised very interesting thoughts about why doctors make more or less, but I couldn't get past the premise of the article. I think engineers are making a ton of money, and they deserve a ton of money. I think they get a ton of respect, and they deserve it.

Maybe that's just what I'm seeing. But particularly when you then say that teachers are paid more than the average American, I start to wonder who this mythical "average American" is, particularly knowing that my sister is a high school teacher and has to buy her own chalk. She would probably disagree with the article based on all the corvettes and teslas sitting in the Google parking lot.


tomjen3 2 days ago 0 replies      
We don't get any respect because people respect those with power (notoriously not programmers) and those who can put on a good show (sport stars, politicians, celebrities).

Carrying the world on ones shoulders (if that is indeed what programmers do) is not something that gives respect.

hpguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
If everyone visits a restaurant every now and then, why don't waiters get any respect?

If everyone needs a house, why don't builders get any respect?

If everyone needs their streets clean, why don't cleaners get any respect?

If everyone's children need babysitting, why don't baby-sisters get any respect?

If you don't think you receive enough money and respect being a programmer, why don't you do s/t else, being a doctor or management consultant for example?

Why someone has to pay 500K for a job that s/he could hire a H1B person to do at 1/10th the rate?

Comparing job to job is like comparing orange to apple. Let the market decides how much software engineers should earn and are respected. If Adam Smith is correct, the market is pretty good at that.

perfunctory 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Saying there's a "shortage" is economically the same as saying that "we don't want to pay you guys enough to meet the demand for labor".

Indeed, it's like saying that there is a shortage of super yachts for people.

wehriam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin started as software developers and among the richest people in the world. Top tier IT professionals - directors or C level, successful entrepreneurs or finance standouts, all make gobs of money by almost any professional standard.

Software developers have unique opportunities and a culture of meritocracy. (It's hard to imagine a freelance actuary.)

Atropos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of the professions you mentioned like biglaw firms, bankers, management consulting are lucky to operate very high up the "value chain". Look at the Motorola-Google deal: $12,5b purchase prize, and a $2,5 billion fee that Google has to pay Motorola if the deal falls through for any reason. At these high dimensions the exorbitant bankers/lawyers fees are more like a rounding error. Of course you can say it is not "fair" in a higher sense that they get to capture this value, but to say they don't add value is unrealistic as well.
SleepingBear 2 days ago 0 replies      
Overall good post, but I have one problem. You say that because China is run by engineers, it is on the right track. First, economies are very complex and there could be several factors that are causing China's economy to grow, I doubt having leaders as engineers matters too much. The US economy has grown too, and it wasn't run by engineers. Shouldn't we also give the lawyers and politicians in charge credit for the times our economy was growing, instead of grief for what's happening now?

You also say:
"Sure, they have problems with pollution and corruption, but so did the US when we were industrializing. Overall, though, they're on the right track, and the US is not."

If engineers were better leaders than lawyers, wouldn't they be able to industrialize with minimal pollution? Instead, they're industrializing in similar ways that we were.

Also, China seems like a lousy place to live compared to the US with regards to personal freedoms, but I wouldn't go out and say that lawyers care about freedom and engineers want to govern with absolute control.

Sorry if I seem to be focusing on only 5% of the post, I just wanted to get that thought out. All that said, you bring up some very thought provoking points.

ClintonWu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great thought provoking post. I think two sentences in your post truly answer the question "Why Don't Coders Get Any Respect?"

"But for some reason, unlike just about every other profession, programmers seem to have an aversion to asking for more pay and more respectability." and "And I think we'd all be better of if computer science wasn't just seen as a major for socially awkward nerds."

As a non-programmer, I think the perceived lack of communication/influence/negotiation "soft skills" has become the group's reality. Obviously there are exceptions, but the natural tendency is to think programmers are introverts, who don't innately have or haven't been taught the skills involved in negotiating higher salaries and gaining power through office politics/informal communication methods.

Maybe the act of programming in the US creates a natural selection bias towards a certain type of person and maybe that person isn't a natural fit in positions where communication, both formal and informal, is a key requisite. Or maybe the programmer just doesn't care. Either way, I think these skills can be learned to some extent and wouldn't mind seeing more programmers in power positions in companies and in the government.

vesrin 2 days ago 0 replies      
What I don't understand is why you are trying to compare programmers with doctors and lawyers. Why not choose fields that are more closely related and let's see how the average software developer is doing vs. those working in those fields?

For example, let's say, electronics engineer - I would hazard to say that the average software developer is earning higher than the average circuit designer.

Sure, you are saying that software is pervasive in our lives and extremly important - but all software runs on some hardware, which was designed by an electronics engineer.

Engineering and science related careers have never been amongst the top paid jobs in the society we live in - and you could argue for many engineering fields that they are amongst the most important jobs in our current economy (be it construction engineers, automotive, aerospace engineering, energy production, whatever). I don't really see why programmers should earn much more than people working in these fields.

cpeterso 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is dress code a factor? Would you want your lawyer or doctor to have Star Wars toys and Nerf guns in their office?

I propose "Formal Friday", where programmers wear ties and nice shirts (or skirts, as appropriate).

Draconar 1 day ago 0 replies      
It strike me as odd that nobody here talked about happiness and about enjoying her job/work life. I read in some book from Dr. Martin E. P. Selligman that law is the profession in which people are more susceptible to depression and other mental health issues (statistically speaking). So much for your millions and society's appraisal, eh?
petervandijck 2 days ago 1 reply      
One data point: companies that hire programmers seem to work a lot harder at making it a fun/good place to work than companies that hire laywers.

Perhaps programming is just more fun?

felipemnoa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Plumbers and Garbage Man don't get much respect either, even though they are very important functions and everybody needs them.
josepsanzcamp 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's true and false for me. I think the main problem lies in ourselves. We must go around with their heads held high and announcing to the whole world: we are a programmer. The real problem is that we ourselves, the programmers, do not see the value of our work. Thanks to the doctors, people do not die and are cured of their diseases. Well, thanks to the programmers, computers can run programs, and increasingly, higher quality. I have programmers friends that his dream is an MBA or something else required to climb in the profession. To my mind, I think are wrong. They tell me that not want to be 50 years old and continuing with writting code. I differ from them because if I want to be 50 years and still write code. I understand that the first change require that we change our work perspective. It's needed to understand that programmer it's an inportant piece of the current society. Without programmers, a lot of companies die directly. The programmers, are currently working the lines of the future and they are the responsible of stablish and maintain the social status. It's important understand that only the programmers can do the programmer work and must appraise the done work. Until the programmers don't understand that programmer work it's important, serious, complex, with responsibility, that requires constantly study, then the society does not change the view of the programmers. It's our work demostrate the importance of our work, the value of our thoughts and our contributions to the society (as the doctor that cure the diseases).
gdilla 2 days ago 0 replies      
A simplified view is supply and demand. There's only like 600 major league baseball players and their average salary is 4mm. Rare group to get into. There's fewer doctors than engineers or coders. And it's not like you can jump on elance and have someone remove your tonsils. And with greater supply comes greater variability in skill and salary.
beezee 2 days ago 0 replies      
One major flaw with comparing programmers to doctors and lawyers is that there's no acknowledgement of liability. It is far more often the case that a lousy lawyer or doctor puts lives at risk than it is a lousy programmer does, and liability is one of the most justified determinants for compensation.
Joshim5 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is nothing stopping MIT graduates from having government positions. The PM of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, is a graduate of MIT.
nosnhojn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think there are some good points here but I always find the premise behind posts/articles/arguments like this a little silly. I don't think there's any correlation between respect and salary. And getting too caught up in what others think of you and your work is effort/thought/time wasted. Pick a career you like, do it well and respect yourself. If you get more out of it than that, great, but don't expect any more than that. Setting out on a "quest for respect" is more than likely going to end in disappointment regardless of whether you're a doctor, lawyer, engineer, bricklayer or some poor, poor programmer.
factfinder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Work hard and replace all those professionals with robots. But make sure that the robots are under your control. At that time all of the payments will go to the computer professionals.
TomGullen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Supply and demand, can't really say much else. That's usually the biggest driver for wages and something you have neglected to recognise.
entrepreneurial 2 days ago 1 reply      
You have to earn respect no matter what profession your in. Zuckerberg is a Coder. Sergey and Larry, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, etc.
r15habh 2 days ago 2 replies      
HFT programmers earn a lot, so its all about creating value http://j.mp/p6Sl45
known 1 day ago 0 replies      
Writing software != Selling software
mh_ya 2 days ago 0 replies      
China is definitely not on the right track...
gogodream 1 day ago 0 replies      
wingman007 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article! I totally agree with the points.
rimmjob 2 days ago 0 replies      
you care way too much about what other people think
vynch 2 days ago 0 replies      
why dont programmers get respect? -> who is John Galt?
guillaume_a 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yakedee yak yak. Typical software engineer soapbox rant, all about ego boosting.

If you want the life of a rockstar or an investment banker, go do that instead.

BasDirks 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a doctor, however, someone like this - a top professional at the peak of their career - would probably make about $400,000.

Yes, but doctors have the most important skills I can think of. Don't think so? I'll come ask again when one of your family members gets cancer.

Coding and hacking have yet to grow to anywhere near their potential awesomeness.

Ask HN: Advice for interviewing/first time hiring
4 points by benologist  5 hours ago   3 comments top 2
ecaroth 2 hours ago 0 replies      
1) Make sure your personalities meld - I hired people multiple times for their coding chops when we didn't necessarily 'jive' and it made working with them over a long period pretty painful, especially when brainstorming or doing stuff like critique

2) Make a test with problems unique to your space - aka if you write scheduling software, have the test use some date/time functions or if you write a search engine have them write a simple DOM tree parser. Nothing crazy complicated, but enough to give you an idea of what they are made of. Let them take the test home to complete, then give them feedback about their answers after they return it and see if/what changes they make in response to your feedback. This gives you a good idea if they are willing to adapt and learn in your problem space, and if they can take constructive feedback.

bo_Olean 5 hours ago 1 reply      
My 2 cents:

1.Do not hire devs without taking a test.

2.Hire developers for their "skills" and not for your affiliations with them.

3.Hire someone who is self learning and knows type of product/platform you are working on.

Why you may ask:

1. Test measures the work speed and efficiency

2. Respect people for their skills not for your relationship with them (eg. friend, relative etc..)

3. So that you won't waste time giving them keywords to Google.

Ask HN: What happened to the flagging option?
5 points by chollida1  7 hours ago   4 comments top 3
allenbrunson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I read a comment from pg once that he "grades" flags based on how many articles you flag that actually do end up being killed. So it stands to reason that if you only flag honest-to-god spam, which almost always gets killed, then you'll get a high "grade" for your flags. But if you flag stuff that you think is merely off-topic, that mostly does not get killed, it just languishes with low points. So those flags would be counted against you. I of course have no inside knowledge about this. He may have changed the code since then.

For what it's worth, I go through /newest about once a day and flag only honest-to-god spam, typically three or four at a time. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, and I can still flag stuff.

ColinWright 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've heard that there is a detector for excessive flagging. I used also to go the "newest" and flag all the spam, and be a bit aggressive about keeping HN on topic, but I don't any more. There are literally dozens of posts that I see that should be flagged because, in essence, they are content-free. They contain nothing to make you think - really think.


But I don't flag much any more. If you want it back, no doubt you can email PG. Be brief and to the point - he usually responds quickly to sensible requests.

bartonfink 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's still here. I think you're on target when you guess that you may have flagged too much. I doubt it's a serious offence - you'll probably get the option to flag back in a little while.
Ask HN: Which open-source Ruby project to take part in?
2 points by goshakkk  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
jamesbritt 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What do you use in regular development? What itch needs scratching? Best to help out on something where you're a user and feel motivated to improve things.

Also, pretty much every project needs help with documentation, especially Ruby itself. One way to improve your Ruby-fu is to read the Ruby source code and write (or add to) the documentation. (This is more needed for the standard library than the core stuff.)

Warning: Not a single person on the planet thinks this is sexy. However, better docs will help make everyone using Ruby better at it; think of as lever that can move the world.

gharbad 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Show HN: subscription flowers (to keep the significant other happy)
5 points by paulsingh  6 hours ago   5 comments top 4
arkitaip 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't criticism of your service per see, but wouldn't scheduling flower delivery take out some of the magic and fun of receiving flowers? Maybe you could add some randomness so that the flowers are delivered within a interval instead of always 30 days apart?

Did you do some research to figure out the MVP?

I understand that you're in the MVP phase right now but what are your plans wrt to the web design? The current one is very generic. Maybe some kind of flower shop design?

I like the idea of the rookie plan :) How does your email reminder look like? I'm betting you made it easy to sign up for one of the other two plans, maybe even offering a rebate on the first delivery of roses?

You might want to align the plan boxes on /pricing as "rookie" is shorter than the others.

Tawheed 6 hours ago 0 replies      
joshuacc 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Love the concept. And I especially appreciate that you've got a free plan available.

One question: Why does the Anniversary Date field ask for a year? I'd expect it to refer only to day and month. Otherwise it's not an "anniversary" date but a "special date that I want to remember the anniversary of"

Also, after trying to sign up, I got the standard Heroku error page: http://screensnapr.com/v/IfIjVS.png

hartard 4 hours ago 0 replies      

I built a similar service for a [humorous] weekend project.

What do I need to research & understand to negotiate equity?
7 points by planckscnst  10 hours ago   5 comments top 2
robfitz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
First off, it strongly benefits both sides to reach the 'correct' agreement here. If you over-negotiate and get too much equity, the CEO is duty-bound to fire you once they realize their blunder, since it's irresponsible to the other stakeholders not to. Similarly, if you are given too little, you'll come to begrudge them and quit, significantly hurting them.

If you started with any salary at all, you don't have a good argument for a founder-sized chunk. An early, key engineer is going to be somewhere in the 2%-10% range.

If you started without salary, and thus took founder-style risk, you might be playing more in the 5-20% space.

For the overall company breakdown, You can assume the structure is something like 10-25% employees/option pool, 75-90% founders.

For example, the founders might choose to give 5% to each of 2 key engineers, leave another 10% to spread among all future employees & advisors, and divide 80% between the founders.

Vesting is a clear "yes", for everyone on the team including the founders. Founders & employees should be on a 4 year vest with a 1 year cliff (if you get fired or leave within the first year you get nothing, at the end of year 1 you get 25% of the equity you are entitled to, and then another 1/48th of the total each month from then on).

The vesting thing is more like... if the founders don't do it, you don't want to work for them because they're clueless. So you should insist on it because otherwise the company isn't being run properly. If the founders don't vest themselves, quit immediately because they are mis-aligning themselves with the future of the company.

You always talk about equity in %, not a # of shares. Companies can be started with an arbitrary number of shares (my last one had 7 million, some go with 10 million, some 100,000). # of shares is totally meaningless -- talk in percent ownership. Founders saying "And you get 20,000 shares!" are trying to trick you.

My advice here is to make yourself a mock cap table, and try to play with how you would set it up to keep everyone properly incentivized, as if you were an outside board member wanting it all to run smoothly.

So assuming there are 3 founders (1 of whom is the engineer), plus you, plus 4 other engineers, you might end up with something like this (where you are the high-value engineer):

Founders: 75% (30/25/20), Current engineers: 15% (8/2/2/2/1), Future Pool: 10%

damoncali 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Talk to a tax accountant now - before you take any stock/options. You need to understand the tax and cash flow consequences of options. If you don't plan this right, you can wind up with a huge tax bill and no money to pay it with. To make things worse, if the stock then goes to zero, you'll still have to pay the taxes, even though you never saw a cent.

Negotiate vesting. Negotiate triggers (what happens if you get acquired/fired/relocated). Negotiate the length of time you have to exercise options after you no longer work there.

As for how much? As much as you can get. It's that simple.

Show HN: A simple social "Magic 8 Ball" app - Eight
3 points by safetyscissors  12 hours ago   2 comments top 2
bmelton 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"This webpage is not available"
safetyscissors 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry folks. Here is the alternative link: eightapp.heroku.com
How the NASDAQ data center prepared for Hurricane Irene
2 points by veyron  9 hours ago   1 comment top
ewams 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah yes, contracts, a fake warm and fuzzy. So what happens at 72 hours and one minute when neither of your suppliers can get to your location because the roads are blocked?

Or they have no employees because they are taking care of their families or even injured from the storm?

Or they oversubscribed their service and don't have enough fuel?

Or it is commandeered for the greater good?

Many a company have relied on "contracts" and used them as assurance that a service will be available only to be shown otherwise.

Ask HN: What does a hacker house need?
2 points by vaf  10 hours ago   2 comments top 2
ecaroth 2 hours ago 0 replies      
seating, USB hubs, lots of fridge space, tons of can koozies, a whiteboard, some ancient used video game systems (including a gameboy in the bathroom), and some good coffee-table reading materials like a subscription to wired, entrepreneur mag, etc
bmelton 8 hours ago 0 replies      
1) Other hackers

2) LOTS of seating

3) Bandwidth / Access Points

4) Mini-fridges (makes it easier to enforce a BYOB)

5) Power, power, power.

Download.com wrapping downloads
155 points by forgotAgain  5 days ago   32 comments top 13
acangiano 4 days ago 1 reply      
My guess: Microsoft was probably ecstatic about this. Until it becomes a PR headache (it's just about to start). At that point, Microsoft will probably condemn this as misleading and something they don't endorse. They'll probably cut them off from whatever referral program they are currently on.
latch 4 days ago 1 reply      
There'll be a backlash. Microsoft will kill the program and claim that "Microsoft relies on a number of 3rd parties for its marketing. In this case, the 3rd party acted without consulting Microsoft and as soon as Microsoft was made aware of the issue, they cancelled the program"
georgieporgie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Assuming you have a piece of software which is supported by bundled toolbar installation, does this mean that Download.com effectively steals your slice of the pie?

(not that I advocate toolbar bundling, but it is one way that some apps make money)

tajddin 4 days ago 1 reply      
This really does seem like a violation. We develop enterprise help desk software and also offer it via Download.com and didn't receive a notification of this change.

It doesn't exactly look great on our software that a toolbar is installed alongside it -- especially for a professional business product.

fomojola 4 days ago 1 reply      
The upsell is here! They'll expose your direct download link to people who are registered. Who registers for download.com?!?!

And, if you pay them for the privilege of hosting your content with them, they'll let you opt out of it. This is how they try and make money.

Take your software down: its 2011, you can distribute yourself, cut out the middle man, and (unless you're getting 20000 downloads a day) still not pay very much for it.

ars 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if you could bundle an uninstaller into your package - just for them. They install some adware, you uninstall it right after.
bradleyland 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised this doesn't violate the license of many of the applications available on Download.com. Time to abandon ship?
tlrobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this even legal? Did you give them permission to distribute your software?
ggchappell 4 days ago 2 replies      
(1) I really appreciate this post & discussion. It has been clear for a long time that lots of website owners pay little or no attention to the experiences customers have with fulfillment providers (and Download.com is fulfillment, in the larger sense). It's time to hold people accountable for this kind of thing.

(2) Microsoft has been associated with sleazy stuff for years. I'm thinking of the installation of all kinds of nonsense software when you buy "Microsoft Windows" pre-installed. I doubt this issue is the kind of thing they consider a problem. Sad, but true.

jgmmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I cant find this issue with any of the software the company I work for sells via download.com, it looks like people who pay CNET millions of dollars per year are not affected.
scamsover 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's called "OpenInstall", see openinstall.com - after looking up the domain owner, old owners, servers and registration of the company as well as multiple addresses, I found it is the same company responsible for this:

"Viveli" or "GameTheory" are the company names, see comments on Cutts page. According to the posting, they even lost ties to their former toolbar partners Zugo.com because Bing.com shut them down for forced installs (like on Bright.com or on CNET).

http://www.openinstall.com/aboutus.html - seems like most of them are former founders of "FreeCause", a toolbar company that hides installs under the false impression of charitable donations.

The person behind it is Eduardo Vivas, who just opened up his new startup Bright.com, which is Co-Reg scam, if you look at the getsatisfaction.com support requests this becomes very clear. Sign up people, send them to education affiliate offers, cold call them from a call-center and have them download a toolbar to get access to job postings.


Ask HN: My skills are aging. Where can I go to try to keep up?
10 points by michaelcampbell  1 day ago   11 comments top 6
ragmondo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's the cruel harsh fact that you need to know: You are not going to "keep up".

Years ago, you might have been able to remember every parameter to your favourite 20 shell or windows commands. Probably even the difference between the differing version of that operating system. However, if you're anything like me, one of your browser pages is permanently on stackoverflow or j2se docs or pydocs etc etc, as I just can't remember the fluff (heh).

But here's the good news. You don't have to keep up. You don't need to know the 200+ different ways of sorting a list. You just need to know that different ways exist. Then .. JFGI ! You don't need to know what version of java or python feature xyz was added or deprecated... JFGI !

My answer to any interview that has the question "what is the output of the following program?" is always "Well let's ask the computer - that's far better at this kind of thing than me and it will take a lot less time!". I remember someone asking me about self-modifying C-code and what the output would be. I said "one dead programmer - because if I ever met someone who wrote code like that I would shoot them dead for leaving such a mess".

Don't learn the fluff, the parameters, the options, the function names, the versions. Learn how to find them.

struppi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did you read "The passionate programmer - creating a remarkable career in software development"? I really loved that book, it contains a lot of practical tips and advice for how to improve your skills (among other things).

I read books on the commute to work (on the train) so this time feels less wasted. I especially liked:
- Implementing lean software development
- Implementing scrum
- Domain Driven Desing
- Head first rails
- The leaders guide to radical management
- Presentation zen

This is not only technical stuff, but I think the non-technical books are important too - they give you context and perspective.

cshipley 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think learning as much as you can about everything is possible, or even necessary.

Instead, play leap-frog. Make an educated guess about where some portion of the industry is going to evolve and start learning those skills _before_ they becomes uber popular. Then after 4 or so years, do it again.

I did this recently (within the last 18 months) and jumped into mobile development. That decision now allows me to freelance from home making just as much money if I were in a cubicle.

anujkk 1 day ago 0 replies      
As per my knowledge these technologies are currently being used and are in demand according to type of application:

A)Large Enterprise Applications - .Net/Java(J2EE)

B)Web application

1)Server Side - Python+Django/Ruby+Rails/PHP+CodeIgnitor/node.js

2)Client Side - HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript/Ajax Libraries like jQuery, Yui, Closure/backbone.js

3)Database : MySQL and any noSQL database like mongodb

C)Mobile Application

1)For iPhone - Objective-C

2)For Android - Android SDK/Java

D)Web APIs - Facebook,Twitter,Google,Google+(when available) and Amazon Web Services

E)Desktop Application - Large companies like google, yahoo, etc still stick to C++/Visual C++ but in general C# is also a decent choice.

Keep checking sites like HN, Stack Overflow, Quora, Reddit etc and be genuinely interested about whats happening in technology and startup space. Who are the emerging startups and which technologies they are using..etc stuff.

Try to learn one technology per month in weekends.

I would also suggest you to read two books from 37signals - Getting Real and ReWork.

brudgers 1 day ago 1 reply      
>"I was humbled at a job interview yesterday almost to the point of a beat-down"

Sounds like a workplace to avoid - either because it is part of the corporate culture or they didn't bother reading your CV (malice or incompetence take your pick).

kls 1 day ago 1 reply      
Learn a REST API, JavaScript, Objective-C/iPhone and Android. If you do people will beat down your door. It is where the market is heading. What they all have in common is the client manages the UI and REST is your link to the programmable web.
Ask HN: OK, I've started-up, now how do I continue-up?
10 points by luvcraft  1 day ago   10 comments top 4
olegious 1 day ago 1 reply      
1. make a list of all popular video game blogs and sites that cover the world of gaming.

2. contact the bloggers, site owners, writers, etc. on that list telling them about the site and what a great tool it could be for their users (hype it up)- your goal is to get mentioned on as many of them as possible. You can even ask to guest post on some gaming blogs- something like "how i turned my gaming passion into a startup."

3. since you didn't include a link to your site, i don't know if you've already done this- but make sure your site is easily sharable across all the social networks (FB like button, Google +1 button, etc).

4. run a contest for your existing users- offer them a giftcard to gamestop or amazon or something, the user that brings in the most sign ups (you can give them unique referral codes) in X time wins. For $100-200 you can have cheap user driven marketing.

good luck

pkamb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a 'social' thing that will require many users to be successful. Thus POST A LINK.
dchuk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
spend some time getting a fresh design on that site, and show off much more of the social activity on it. Make it look REALLY busy and active, so new users will want to jump in and participate.

Then I'd recommend some forum marketing personally, go get active on a few major gaming forums and use a signature link to your site. Forum marketing is very underrated but can be very lucrative if done actively. Plus you get to participate in forums you're already interested in (hopefully) so it barely feels like work

abbasmehdi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Think I can help, get in touch.
What do you think about this Idea?
3 points by wasifaleem30  23 hours ago   4 comments top 3
thaumaturgy 22 hours ago 1 reply      
If I understand you correctly -- and I'm not sure that I do -- you could be positioning yourself to be at the forefront of the computer industry as it gradually shifts into a more virtualized state.

1: I don't think you're clear yet on what you're imagining. Have you tried drawing it out, writing it down, mocking it up? Written any actual code yet?

2: There are likely a huge number of challenges you haven't fully considered yet, from scalability to document compatibility to organization to UI ... and on and on. This would be a large undertaking to execute well. How would you handle the huge number of people with poor/nonexistent "broadband" in the U.S.?

3: There are also likely already a number of people already working on this. (My company is working on something similar, though not as advanced as what you seem to be proposing.) So, you'll have to get moving! Early bird gets the worm! :-)

4: Don't be afraid to reinvent the wheel. If my extensive experience with computer-using novices has taught me anything, it's that there is a huge opportunity to throw out everything about current UI and start over with something much more "human". For example: get rid of folders entirely. They're a horrible idea, always were; they're a holdover from a simpler time. People have a terrible time with folders. They download pictures from their camera and have no idea where they've gone; they accidentally open up "My Computer" and get lost immediately; they misplace documents all the time; they can't organize them at all. How would you handle this differently?

I'd love to see something cool like this.

bmelton 9 hours ago 0 replies      
So, on the one hand, I read this as a buzz-laden attempt to find the holy grail of programming.

"Highly complex yet simple to use" is a very major challenge on its own.

"Cross-platform non-resource-hogging simple native app" is another very major challenge.

If you can build ANY app that meets those criteria and does it well, it's likely to succeed. Ignoring the idea of the app altogether, go tackle a problem in a domain you have familiarity with and kick its ass. Ignore existing competitors, as the above-referenced feature set will destroy them.

As for the idea itself, what's different about this than something like "GoToMyPC"?

vicngtor 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you write this in point form? I don't understand a single thing you are getting at
Dear procrastinator
544 points by edo  11 days ago   139 comments top 57
silverbax88 11 days ago  replies      
I'm sorry to disagree, but I do. My own battle with procrastination is completely due to laziness. No one likes to do difficult things, and sometimes even things we kind of enjoy. The reality is that we, as humans, never procrastinate when we really, really want something. Not once in my life did I have to "trick" myself into playing a video game a few extra minutes or watch a big basketball game.

In short, we accomplish what we want to accomplish (meaning, the 'fun' stuff), unless we push ourselves.

joshklein 11 days ago 2 replies      
There is not a singular cause for procrastination. I've mentioned it many times on HN, but I think it's again relevant to recommend "Procrastination" by Burka & Yuen.[1]

Half the book is spent helping you investigate the root cause or causes of your procrastination, which can include fear about control (losing OR gaining it), as well as fear of success, fear of failure, fear of separation, fear of attachment. They discuss the influence of family and culture, gender, and the role of ADD & executive dysfunction.

The second half of the book is a practical guide to coping with your procrastination and habitualizing better behaviors.

If you're serious about procrastination, my only advice is to listen to the experimentally & research-backed psychiatrists.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Procrastination-Why-You-What-About/dp/...

toddmorey 11 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not lazy, I'm not too proud to do mundane things, and I don't feel others control my life. (How would that last perspective explain procrastinating on a personal project like a painting?) I didn't understand procrastination until I understood it from this perspective (and I imagine a lot of the folks on HN are similar): I procrastinate because I'm a perfectionist. If it's not finished, it can't be judged. There's more I can tweak! Once something is turned in, published, or launched, it stands as an example of my best effort. It wears my name. And that scares the hell out of me.
janjan 11 days ago 6 replies      
This is not true for myself at all!

Actually I think in my case all the stuff you read about procrastination does not really aplly to my procrastination:

I think I am one of the worlds worst procastinators and it took me about 10 years to figure out what might be the main reason for my behaviour. It has nothing to with all the stuff you read in all these procrastination books. It's not about the fear of failing, it's not about the fear of winning, it's not some kind of rebellion against some outside force as you pointed out. It's something completly different:

I never learned to do (unpleasant) stuff!

When I look back on my childhood now, it's very obvious what went wrong: I grew up as a very very spoiled kid which never had to do anything "unpleasant". Did not want to clean up my room? No problem. Did not want to help my parents with preparing lunch? no problem. Did not want to do homework? no problem.

From all those years growing up I can remember only one occasion at which my mother tried to force me to do something. But since I was already 12 or so that this time, she gave up after 10 minutes.

I never learned to endure the "stress" or "pain" of all those unpleasant things I have to do (washing clothing, cooking, ...) so it's very hard for me to do them intstead of just browsing the internet and get instant satisfaction.

In combination with some above average intelligence and a very big portion of luck I was still able to study with good grades and I'm currently in my second year of a PhD thesis. For me it's hell on earth! Giving lectures, preparing papers, filling out forms, applying for grants, ... I postpone all of this stuff all the time not because I am afraid i could not do them or because they are pushed on me from the outside. I postpone them because I never learned to actually _do_ unpleasant stuff.

Does this makes sense? English is not my first language and the topic is quite hard to describe.

TeMPOraL 11 days ago 1 reply      

That actually resonates with me much better than anything I've read on procrastination so far. I am burning lot of my mental cycles on thinking about my own procrastination, and it crossed my mind that when I start to do things that I'm (in broad sense) forced to - by my boss, lecturer or even myself, I feel like loosing some kind of self-awareness, control of my life... I never pin-pointed the feeling exactly, but it resonates closely with what you wrote.

Also, I'm so used to my personal GTD-like productivity management methods that I sometimes feel I'm not able to think or work without using pen & paper or Emacs for organizing my thoughts. Now, the thing I'm worried about is that it doesn't really feel like I have 'boosted my cognitive skills' or whatever - it feels like I'm so handicaped that I can't think without help of external tools. I look around and see people (that look) smarter and more successful than me, and they don't seem to be using any productivity tricks at all. Maybe it's [something]-bias [1], but it gets me really worried. Anyone on HN felt something similar?

[1] - need to catch up with LessWrong on that ;).

petenixey 11 days ago 0 replies      
HN will never see a more eminently clickable post than one titled, "Dear Procrastinator"
munchhausen 11 days ago 1 reply      
"The reason why human-beings procrastinate is to feel in control of their life."

Agree completely. Having said this, your suggested solution is incredibly hard to put into practice for many procrastinators out there.

I have bills to pay and a family to support, and working for the Man seems like the only option, at the moment, to meet my financial obligations. I don't particularly enjoy my day job, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to. To maintain an illusion that I am not just a slave tied to a very short leash, I procrastinate. Ignoring my email inbox full of pending tasks and spending the day outside in the sunshine instead can feel very liberating, but obviously it doesn't solve anything, and doesn't get me a step closer to greater freedom.

"life as a sequence of awesomely fun and exciting things" sounds great, but the reality is that only a very small percentage of people are lucky enough to lead this kind of life.

lionhearted 11 days ago 1 reply      
Great post.

Relevant tactical point:

Replace "I have to" with "I choose to" and "I should" with "Would I like to?"

It really, really, really works.

Instead of, "I have to take out the garbage" - "I choose to take out the garbage." (Or alternatively, "I choose not to" - that's okay too, if you choose to do it that way.)

wisty 11 days ago 0 replies      
Procrastination has many causes. I expect this is because humans haven't often needed to motivate themselves, as they have often been motivated by fear and hunger. Above $5 or $10 a day, basic nutrition and shelter is not an issue.

Here's a few reasons why I think some people procrastinate. Mix and match:

- The need to feel control.
- Some urge to punish or test someone (a parent?)

- Perfectionism (high standards, the need to over-achieve, or egotism), or a fear of being judged. If it's not done, nobody has to see your crappy work.

- Laziness. Sometimes an issue for people who can pass without working.

- Habit. See all the above.

- Dopamine addiction. The internet has given rise to the junk food equivalent of achievement.

- Unrealistic expectations, leading to a lack of motivation. Sorry, but they lied when they said the course / job you are getting into is the most important one in the world. They say that about every course / job.

makeramen 11 days ago 1 reply      
Very well written Edo, thanks! While I disagree that this applies to all cases of procrastination, it definitely applies to many, and was very eye (and mind) opening to read.

Curious if you have other writings posted anywhere? I'd love to read more about your thoughts on other topics.

peteretep 11 days ago 1 reply      
http://www.amazon.com/Self-Discipline-10-Days-Thinking-Doing... <-- this book pretty much sorted out my procrastination problem
gwern 11 days ago 0 replies      
> The reason why human-beings procrastinate is to feel in control of their life. The act of rebelling against an oppressor, an authorative figure telling you what to do, is your way of regaining mastery over your own fate.

The academic literature disagrees that procrastination is about rebelling, and 'efficacy' is only one factor; see http://lesswrong.com/lw/3w3/how_to_beat_procrastination/ and especially its reference section (Luke is great about jailbreaking PDFs and hosting them; I'm slowly reading through those specific PDFs).

jodrellblank 11 days ago 1 reply      
That doesn't seem to answer anything. If human beings procrastinate to feel in control, what of soldiers? They can be happy and fulfilled, work damn hard, and be only doing exactly what they are told.

The next question, for you perhaps, is "what do you fear so much about the idea of not being in control of your life?"

juliano_q 11 days ago 0 replies      
I think the OP argument makes a lot of sense. When I was young, my mother often asked (not exactly gently) to do some tasks and many times I refused just because I was obligated.

In the school and in the college it was exactly the same behavior, I refused to study but when I found an interesting topic outside the college (like programming) I had a lot of will to study it by myself. I never really learned anything in the school class, I am 100% autodidact. The single fact that I was obligated to learn something made me completly ignore that stuff.

ThomPete 11 days ago 1 reply      
I think you are replacing one extreme claim with another.

Becoming better at something means that either your body or your brain have to do do something that it's not used to and doesn't feel comfortable with. It doesn't matter how much you love what you do it's still going to feel harder and thus there are a million other things you would rather do.

When I were young I practiced the guitar 10 hours a day for a long period of time. I loved (and still love) music but it was hard even with this love for my field.

If I wanted to I could simply have been playing things that I already knew. Playing around and not getting any better.

But to become better at something you need to get the discipline to get on with it and that will "hurt".

There are no easy ways to become better.

user24 11 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is such good advice. You're right, I'm constantly having stern talks with myself about being a mature, clever guy and so why the heck am I wasting time, etc etc. Thankyou.
ctdonath 11 days ago 0 replies      
"The act of rebelling against an oppressor, an authorative figure telling you what to do, is your way of regaining mastery over your own fate."

Surely you jest.

Oh, sure, some people will procrastinate as rebellion.

Just as sure, some people procrastinate a simple matter of choosing from a menu: choosing steak over fish is for some a simple preference, not weighed down with rebellion against diet or splurging against budget. At a given moment I have the choice to do interesting thing X or less interesting thing Y; I choose X not out of the oppression of why Y is an option at all, but just because it is what I would rather do.

You may struggle against authority an procrastinate as an act of rebellion. Others because it's just what they would rather do.

hasenj 11 days ago 0 replies      
The other day I tried to use "LazyMeter". I got a few things done using it, but I felt extremely uncomfortable. The feeling was familiar: the same feeling I had in my previous job. I felt suffocated and deprived.
camperman 11 days ago 0 replies      
Of all the anti-procrastinating advice I've ever read, this is the most succinct and the most helpful. Thank you.
WilhelmJ 11 days ago 0 replies      
There are tons of interesting books I bought, but I have kept on procrastinating reading, since I know that I can always read them later. That feeling IMHO - that I own something and can process it later - is major cause of procrastination for me.

same way my browser windows are a mess with 70+ tabs open. Most of them are only open because the content is too interesting to close and I am too lazy to read!

olalonde 11 days ago 0 replies      
Reading all these comments, I'm starting to believe that something like Alcohol Anonymous would not be a bad idea for chronic procrastinators... Procrastinators Anonymous?
lists 11 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested in exploring the ascetic dimension of procrastination.

That may ring the wrong religious bells but the problem of procrastination in the West was first of all, and there's a lot of documentation surrounding this, a religious problem. Saint Jerome is the first to directly speak of idleness but it's even there in Paul's letters: How do you secure a base of pagans for your Judaic sect in a world swimming with very similar cults and mythologies? Keep em busy with your sect.

This is related to the consistent demand for communal surveillance stretching throgh all the church fathers; everyone should make sure everyone else is busy being faithful. So I wonder how and at what point that discussion of procrastination transforms into the modern formulation?

stray 11 days ago 0 replies      
Note to self: read this article in your copious free time...
sireat 11 days ago 0 replies      
The OP's point is a good one but it is not the whole story. People procrastinate for various reasons, as others have already attested.

Personally, I found a simple habit cured me of 50% of HN and Reddit addiction and let me work on things I had procrastinated for a long time:

First thing when I do every morning when I sit down at a computer is e-mail a simple TODO list to myself and also send a report of what I did on yesterdays TODO list.

This e-mail is very simple, a few items and simple descriptions. Only caveat is making the items "actionable" that is something you can do, not something you can just try or consider.

Also, if I do not complete every item on the list, I do not beat myself over it.

This takes a few minutes of time and was very easy to make a habit of using a Don't Break a Chain technique. After a week or so, it doesn't feel forced at all anymore.

Jach 11 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, sometimes you can't just think your way out of it.

Hopefully one day we'll have a repeatable, very high success method of letting people get work done when they consciously desire it.

RobertHubert 10 days ago 0 replies      
First off, Nice post. But I disagree slightly out of experience from my own toils with procrastination. I find that I, among many other humans simply want to remain in a state of comfort, whatever that means to each person. Every little thing that deviates one from constant comfort becomes a bump in the state of mind, this bump can be smoothed out in 1 of 2 ways, You can do what you should do, the task at hand, or you can put it off in exchange for a moment of instant gratification, or some distraction action. Now in behavioral theory, there is much less mental strife or tension involve in procrastination (initially), and if the competitor action to inaction a mentally or physically longer journey requiring more energy to complete, the natural response would be the shortest of the two. Instant gratification is powerful! Its a tug-of-war calculation between actions, we will do whatever we can do that's easier or more enjoyable unless we fear the outcome of inaction so much so that it out-ways the positives of the other. We are fundamentally powerless against this. For all you fellow entrepreneurs out there, we simply love building things more than anything else. My procrastination for example consists of working on projects or prototyping a new app. I will default to that when countered with options of going to the movies, eating out, or playing video games. One could argue however that fear of failure motivates one above all others to strive for success.
Just my 2 cents.
culturengine 11 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. Many great things can be achieved with a short burst of energy/focus, but these things are often temporary and unsustainable, which is why the Man Up approach gets trumped by the I Will Continue To Do Better approach once real life kicks in.
Killah911 11 days ago 0 replies      
Just got done reading "The Now Habit", and the book concurs with this prognosis. The book also suggest several ways to tackle these issues that cause procrastination. Anybody have any recommendations/pitfalls from "The Now Habit"?
adimitrov 11 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Procrastinator,

Go read up on the topic of procrastination, because it's actually an interesting field of research within psychology. I know you want to, because that way, you can procrastinate even more!

I'm appalled that nobody has yet mentioned http://procrastination.ca " home of the Uni Ottawa procrastination research group. Also home of the excellent iProcrastinate podcast: http://iprocrastinate.libsyn.com/

It turns out that procrastination is an immensely complex and multi-faceted issue, and no one single solution is going to help everybody. I like the OPs advice, but don't think it applies to every procrastinator! Also, it might be the right advice for you if you want to combat your procrastination, but it won't help you combat other "bad" aspects of your psyche, and eventually, you're going to fall into your old habits.

I'm talking out of experience here: I originally went to a psychiatrist because my life wasn't working out anymore (it was really that general.) Several (mostly inconclusive) diagnoses and 2 years of psychotherapy later, I feel like I'm finally starting to grasp why and how my life went wrong.

Not everybody who procrastinates has serious mental issues. But just as a hint: if, for a prolonged period of time, say, a year, you aren't able to get back on track, or you aren't able to fulfill your dreams or expectations, try a therapist, if you can afford it. (I happen to live in a country with free health care, so I didn't have to deal with that, gladly.)

horofox 10 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, I know the problem:

It's with our right hemisphere, it's the one of you that is creative, that had hopes as a child to really do something useful for the world, the one that is out of control, seeks freedom.

The thing is that you aren't doing art/music(that's what people frequently do with it) and art/music is well known as freedom, what you are probably doing is:

A stupid startup to proove yourself, make some money and shit. Even if you own twitter or facebook, it's still shit compared to art, believe me. It's shit.

If you were doing something that would eradicate some sickness in africa and would save millions of people or had anything altruist in it, i doubt your heart wouldn't be pumping from the second you started.

Believe me, it's because what you do is shit, your brain knows and it wants to free you from this bullshit.

I don't procrastinate to wash dishes for my girlfriend, no matter how much it's boring, i fucking love her. But you know, if i had to wash it for ME, i would procrastinate all day. You need love.

umjames 11 days ago 0 replies      
What about scheduling some time (daily or weekly) for doing the things that you would normally consider your procrastination activity? Has anyone here tried that? How did it work out? The more details you can provide, the better.
aterimperator 11 days ago 0 replies      
I like how this meshes with Cal Newport's ideas on procrastination. As I understand it, he views procrastination as the mind's natural tendency to avoid things it doesn't trust: that crappy plan you came up with for getting that project done? Yeah, you don't trust it, so why would you actually try to implement it?
amorphid 11 days ago 0 replies      
I have two forms of procrastination:

1. Virtual procrastination. This happens when I want to achieve more than I can physically do. The end of the work week is here, yet I don't have the sense to just let go and pick it up again next week. I feel burdened by my inability to complete the surplus tasks.

2. Vanilla procrastination. I hired an assistant. She helps me stay on track. I am a fan of this.

qaexl 11 days ago 0 replies      
I've had similar, fleeting thoughts brewing for a while. Seeing this stated together like this crystallized it. Thanks for sharing.
samspot 9 days ago 0 replies      
When I procrastinate, it is quite often a task I do want to accomplish for whatever reason. But I put it off because I'm tired, just don't feel like it, etc. The authority figure you refer to is the voice of wisdom telling me that if I don't go ahead and do it, I will regret it later (this figure is right 99% of the time).

My personality is a high 'C' (for compliance), meaning that I have an appreciation for authority. I think your original essay misses the fact that we all have different personalities and motivations.

vetleen 11 days ago 1 reply      
VERY rarely do I stop and think "Wow. I was worng!" This is one of those times. GJ!
mcritz 11 days ago 1 reply      
I'll finish reading this article later.
Sthorpe 11 days ago 0 replies      
The simple truth about procrastination is that it happens because you delay your happiness. The act that you are procrastinating or putting off is motivated by a risk of your final reward.
prawn 11 days ago 0 replies      
I procrastinate because I can get away with it. Any solution for me is derived entirely from that.
Arias 11 days ago 0 replies      
This is the first time I've heard someone speak of procrastination in this light, have to say its impressive. "Regaining mastery of your own fate" makes almost too much sense haha. It's eerily true, kid throwing the tantrum is a good example. We don't feel like doing it, but ;now we have to, so we build up stress and despise the fact that we have to. Very good advice!
olh 11 days ago 0 replies      
tldr: "The reason why human-beings procrastinate is to feel in control of their life."

The other parts are contradictions.

al-king 11 days ago 0 replies      
Dead on! Thinking in terms of "choosing" to do things rather than "needing" to do things has really helped me recently.
ailon 11 days ago 0 replies      
Next task - start listening to the way I talk to myself. I'm going to get to it right after I check the twitter. Honest!
sdoctor 10 days ago 0 replies      
amazing. eloquently describes some Truth I've been banging my head against the wall trying to explain to people but not able to find the words. It's the same dichotomy of inner-authority and genuine-self that drives people to force themselves to diet and then cheat on their diets etc
jamesrom 11 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Mind: Blown. What a great insight.

Words can't describe how well this resonates with me.

bobx11 11 days ago 0 replies      
The Now Habit is a book that explains that exact idea... I do procrastinate a bit less after reading that book.
toblender 11 days ago 0 replies      
Or you are simply experience "Resistance" as mentioned in the "War of Art".


trucious 11 days ago 0 replies      
So true. This was exactly my way of dealing with the deadlines in college.
doctororange 11 days ago 0 replies      
I put this together a few years ago with some similar insights... http://antiprocrastinator.com/
bo_Olean 11 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Edo,

Since you directly addressed me,

thanks for the insight. Do share more.




MushiD 11 days ago 0 replies      
Ashamed when I read something and learn that I'm causing these perceived issues all myself.
Thanx good post
tryitnow 11 days ago 0 replies      
I find that preventing myself from reading HN works wonders for reducing procrastination.
jrisg 11 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a procrastinator, I'm an anticipation junkie.
dreamisnot 11 days ago 0 replies      
I think that procrastinating is beliving there is an easier way to reach your real goals. If your real goal is to enjoy and do nothing procrastinating is the right way to go.
pknerd 11 days ago 0 replies      
Usually I procrastinate when I don't have a clear goal or not sure about it.
asdf3334 11 days ago 0 replies      
There is a colon where a semicolon belongs, and a semicolon where a colon belongs.
Jebdm 11 days ago 2 replies      
[citation needed]
Ask HN: Suggest me ideas for my weekend project in python.
6 points by anujkk  1 day ago   8 comments top 5
wlievens 1 day ago 1 reply      
A multiplayer roguelike in the browser. Javascript on the frontend, python on the backend.
DanBealeC 1 day ago 0 replies      
Markov Chain toy - grab some text as input (a file or a text box); allow the user to select whether they want to operate on words or letters; allow the user to select what 'depth' they wish to use (two word groups, three word groups, etc.); generate your probability tables; then spit out some output text.

being able to mash more than one text source might be nice.

bonus points if a user could just point the tool to a webpage to generate 'parody' version.

DanBealeC 1 day ago 0 replies      
A zero-player game (see also Progress Quest) but instead of dungeon crawling try Car race simulation. A ZPG version of gran turismo or forza would be awesome.

The player would start with some cash; they could either then let the ZPG run, or they could have limited input such as buying the first car. The ZPG would then do motoring tests, racking up badges for passing, and then gaining licences, and then enter races.

luvcraft 1 day ago 0 replies      
A web-based, text-only usenet reader modeled after Google groups (tree threading, favoriting of threads, robust search), but more reliable and with the ability to ignore trolls and spammers. An additional, streamlined, "mobile" option would be a big plus. :)
Egregore 1 day ago 1 reply      
A tool to fight corruption, it might allow to publish information anonymously, or to map bureaucrats and measure their efficiency, for example how much time it takes to process some documents.
Ask HN: On which project you're working right now?
18 points by anujkk  1 day ago   31 comments top 17
PedroCandeias 1 day ago 1 reply      
Right now I'm consulting (got to update my profile) for a client in the rent-a-car business. On the side, I'm still chipping away at a new version of threddie, my little chat/brainstorm app. All of it in the familiar lamp stack.

I'm also trying to find the time to go through Zed's Learn Python the Hard Way.

david927 1 day ago 2 replies      
A database that looks and acts like a spreadsheet. You can say Person.Name or you can say Person.A5. Every cell can itself be another spreadsheet/table. So you can query Person.A5.C3 or Person.Kids.Age. A query of :"Ahoj" will get any instances of that value in O(1) in any column of any table.

Each query/command is a single HTTP GET request. The spreadsheet is all done in pure canvas, and there's a JS equivalent for the backend, so it can work off-line and synch up.

amccloud 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://pixelcloud.com A simple way for design teams to collaborate and share what they're working on. :)

The stack: Python, Django, Backbone.js, MySQL, Solr, Redis, Nginx, Gunicorn.

The integration between Django and Backbone.js was a b*tch. I'll hopefully be osing two small apps that make it a breeze for others.

dmm 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have two big projects: a parallel raster(map) reprojector that does some interesting resampling and a semantic web representation of the nation's geospatial datasets.
joshfinnie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am working on Version 2 of BeerLedge.com. Now that Untappd has become more popular I am trying to work through some code where I can differentiate myself.

It started as an exercise to learn python (using the Flask micro-framework), but I have really fallen for the idea and love working on it.

gaius 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a little project I call Operation Foothold, which is about removing blockers to enterprise adoption of OCaml. So far I have useful Oracle bindings, and have started work on a Coherence binding. This project is briefly on-hold while I re-learn C++... More on my blog at http://gaiustech.wordpress.com/
solost 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am working on http://www.shallwecoupon.com - I launched it last month and am continuing to work on the finish of the site (I still have about 600 logos to update) before I go back and start adding incrimental functionality.

It took 30 days to build and implement, I am pretty please with the results so far. Thoughts?

dchuk 20 hours ago 1 reply      
1) Building and growing the most kickass SEO research and competition analysis tool on the market: http://serpiq.com

2) (attempting to) Revive a forum for SaaS builders I started a few months back: http://www.saasaholics.com

mannicken 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Porting of some C++ network code for a client.

http://olekbeluga.com/notepad/notebook_mockup.html as a hobby.

mcrittenden 1 day ago 1 reply      
http://fileslap.com - a file sharing site. Adding features, mostly.
rudasn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am working on a video bookmarking site http://mytubemarks.com (beta) and examining the possibilities for a new type of a classifieds website.

What are you working on?

BenSchaechter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Working on http://gopollgo.com -- would love any and all feedback!
blazzar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just about to release my first little site http://reviewport.net (holding/basic info page at the mo)

LAMP stack - never touched any of them before building this and the only ever other code I wrote was a little ASP about 10 years ago (when I say little it was one recruitment site). So this has been a real learning experience.

struppi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Data visualization in .NET for a client (I'm a freelancer). http://gclimbing.com (written in Java with a custom web framework) and my blog as side projects. I also want to start another little side project, either in Ruby on Rails (I want to learn it) or in Java - not sure yet.
callmeed 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cilantro: "about.me for restaurants"
ttpva 1 day ago 0 replies      
Right now I'm totally focused on what we like to call "ZenDesk for voice" - http://talkdeskapp.com
Egregore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm doing an ExtJs (a rich JavaScript framework) project right now.
Show HN: DailyScreenshot - track the visual evolution of any website
8 points by lamby  2 days ago   8 comments top 5
reemrevnivek 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats on your launch!

First things first: I'd like to see some examples of tracked sites: The BBC News one would be a good example.

A thought: The aliasing on the free plan is annoying. PNG has multiple quality levels. Defaulting to JPEG for the free plan hurts both you (in terms of storage size) and your users, probably more than necessary. Use high compression on the free plan, and minimal compression on the paid ones.

Feedback: I'm not sure whether I can or can not share the URLs of my channels without compromising my account. A "Publish" mechanism to generate a public URL for a date range would be great. Also, the calendar interface is unexpected, I think I'd rather have a slideshow.

metachris 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. I hope you are comparing the images to see if it has changed, and only save each changed site once. Besides reducing the amount of data to store it will also be more usable for the users.
lamby 2 days ago 0 replies      
eminkel 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the idea is great, would it benefit you to allow a general query of screenshots over X days on say Google to see how the product works, rather than having to force a sign up?
p0larboy 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you dun mind me asking, what tech did you use to capture the screenshot? I need to screenshot webpage for my client programmatically and I'm kinda lost
Ask HN: What books have changed the way you think?
14 points by chunky1994  2 days ago   13 comments top 13
salemh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reality Tansurfing 1: The Space of Variations
"Choosing" your own reality, positive mind frames, philosophy and actionable steps for goal attainment (no "Secret" wish fulfillment).

" Some of Zeeland's techniques are very simple and practical; e.g. his methods of combining rational thinking with intuition for making practical decisions. Other "tools" require a high degree of control over one's thoughts and/or emotions.
Zeeland also advocates reducing the amount of mental self-talk in favour of listening to one's intuition, which has some similarity with the teachings of Eckhart Tolle [[2]]."

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
This novel has been of great help to me and family with recent deaths. Overall life outlook, happiness, and the like.

Enders Game
I have read this novel over 15 years roughly 8 times. I get more, and a different perspective (which is interesting just examining my own reaction to re-reads based on my life and age at reading / re-reading).

Prometheus Rising
"Hacking" reality, your mind, alternate viewpoints of reality and "living" accordingly (or not :D)

Pandora's Star
Fascinating "space opera" wherein humanity masters worm-hole technology (and space colonization), ever lasting life (downloading / uploading) and a lovely read with a dose of astrophysics (though, the number of plot lines and characters gets far too muddled much of the time, symptomatic of Hamilton's books). Great "look" at a potential future of these potential advancements.

Science fiction novel set in near-future based on new advanced in neuroscience; psychopath / serial killer thriller (one night read)on the brain as a chemical machine (and free-will arguments) with brutal thriller violence. This sticks with you for a number of weeks. Sending this to my sister was reacted with "it was really good, fascinating..why the f* did you send this to me?"

The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing, Book 1)
Fantasy, philosophy, linguistics in Magic..dark, dark and a very old world. Brilliant, the best fantasy series this decade.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
From dirt (literally), to one of the richest men in history, a genius accountant, inventor, process engineer, capitalist, competitive monster (crusher), also spawning much of modern medicine research centers (while he himself was a more holistic man who distrusted "modern medicine). An incredible biography (oft cited by other novels on various Baron's / dynastic biographies) on the idiocyncrocies and the incredible desire for wealth and power, while abhoring lavish displays of wealth. From his rise, to consolidation, to "war" with the Rothschilds to the ultimate breakup of Standard Oil.

1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire: Expanded Edition
Sam Wyly, on building businesses to last, 15-20 years to "flip" or keep. Nuggets of wisdom for all industries and verticals.

noahth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of books have influenced me over time, but these are some of the books that have a lot of influence over my current mindset:

Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid - Douglas Hofstadter

Imagined Communities - Benedict Anderson

Historical Capitalism - Immanuel Wallerstein

Young Man Luther - Erik Erikson

tedkimble 2 days ago 0 replies      
Manuel DeLanda - Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy


katherinehague 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Flowers for Algernon. It made me realize that my greatest fear is to leave the world and have it be as though I had never existed at all. I don't necessarily think that was the moral, but it is certainly what lasted with me the longest.
njharman 2 days ago 0 replies      
The translations vary greatly. (from making it sound like new age mumbo jumbo, to mystic mumbo jumbo, to a profound philosophy), need to find one that's right for you.

"The C Programming Language" by K&R (I read this very young 12-13, it's life changing aspects probably had a lot to do with my age)

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

adamtmca 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Capitalism and Freedom - Milton Friedman
timanzo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thinking Clearly: A Guide to Critical Reasoning
the_decider 2 days ago 0 replies      
Brothers Karamazov
Gravity's Rainbow
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanance
actionbrandon 2 days ago 0 replies      
fooled by randomness - nassim taleb.

his books get progressively worse, but this one is excellent

manicbovine 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found "Man's Search for Meaning" at exactly the right time in my life. It changed my life, but this might have more to do with the timing.
mbenjaminsmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Moral Animal - Robert Wright
chrismackintosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
hyperspace - michio kaku
planetcohen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Carol Dweck: Mindset
I authored a Mobile Payments Ecosystem Study
2 points by Cherian_Abraham  1 day ago   discuss
Ask HN: What are some of the technical lessons learned at creating a start up?
7 points by pp33  2 days ago   2 comments top
robfitz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was a hacker edged into the biz/sales role (we had 2 other, stronger tech guys on the team). So this is my perspective from watching (and building pieces of) the tech over 3ish years.

Code quality matters. We did enterprise sales across several products, and it got to the point where making minor tweaks to the older products to close a sale was a complete nightmare.

You probably don't need to rewrite it. In most cases I've seen, re-writing (e.g. switching technologies) is some sort of pathological denial about delaying the admission that nobody wants the product.

The importance of scalability depends on your channel. We spent a lot of time building in scalability, which was important for an advertising company (we couldn't close sales w/out scale guarantees), but might not be important for a word-of-mouth app.

Build an admin dashboard. A good one. You're losing countless weeks if the CTO is a bottleneck for deploys and minor database tweaks.

I wish we'd used a modern web framework. I didn't write any of the server side code, but our development felt particularly sluggish there.

Check for plugins and tools before writing it. Some of the stuff we wrote from scratch was 2x commenting systems, 2x moderation systems, 3x analytics & charting systems, and a widget sharing wrapper. Writing some of those in-house was correct, but we did it somewhat compulsively.

Think long-term. We wrote some widgets in Flash, then switched to Flex because development was slow. But for our ultimate vision, we needed <10kb widget sizes, so we had to switch back to Flash a year later. Since the core of our product was in that widget's UI, it was a non-trivial rewrite.

Write a stupid version of the UI first. A major UI overhaul delayed the rest of a key deploy for ~3 months. Starting with a quick v1 UI which copied twitter would have allowed the UI/UX guys to do things properly without the server team screaming at them every day.

Shipping makes people happy. If you have an API, get people writing (& launching) little apps which use it. Have them own those apps personally and keep them on their personal githubs/portfolios. If you are playing in an industry, encourage people to make 1-2 day apps, separate from your product but wthin the same space. You'll stumble across some gold.

       cached 27 August 2011 00:05:01 GMT