hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    3 Sep 2011 Ask
home   ask   best   6 years ago   
HN Lament
18 points by DanielBMarkham  7 hours ago   10 comments top 5
ColinWright 6 hours ago 3 replies      
It's not clear to me that people are submitting stuff, not realising that it'll never be read. I wonder if you've conflated having an item flagged dead as opposed to being hell-banned.

The only instances I absolutely know of people being hell-banned were pretty clearly appropriate. When I've occasionally turned on "Show Dead" and looked down the list, I've pretty much agreed with them being inappropriate, off-topic, repeats, or otherwise of little value.

Having said that, I have seen what appear to be instances of vengeful downvoting, and cases where I really haven't understood why something has been flagged, but I've not seen the nastiness you describe.

And even so, I'm no longer finding much to interest me here. That's why I'm doing two things. The first is to create a personalised filter for HN items. That's starting to pay off - I'm seeing mostly stuff that interests me, and less of the - to me - uninteresting.

The second is to create a different place for people that caters more readily to a wide range of interests, while still providing each person with things that they find valuable and interesting. That, too, is starting to work.

If you're interested in either project, reply to me here.



It was some time ago that PG increased the ranking penalty resulting from flags, but certainly it doesn't take many flags for an item to fall quickly from the front page, if indeed it ever gets there.

The problem is that with such a hugely diverse "community" here now, for every submission, there will be a substantial number of people who consider it "off-topic". My concern isn't the topicality, my concern is the complete lack of content or depth of so many items.

revorad 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's largely just a function of growth. There are enough people here now that a tiny tiny fraction of them flagging can easily kill stories. Same problem with random comment downvotes. This will continue to be a problem unless we have categories, but that's also not without its issues.

Meanwhile, what was that picture? :-)

rawsyntax 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A few weeks ago I had an article dead'ed after getting 10 upvotes. And now all my submissions are marked dead seemingly permanently. So what am I todo except stop contributing to HN
ig1 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've started spending more time over at http://www.reddit.com/r/startups/ it's much closer to what HN used to be than HN is now.
chc 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you kind of misunderstand what flagging is and it leads to you fear it unnecessarily. Flagging tends to be used as kind of a downvote, since HN lacks proper downvotes on articles. It reduces a post's ranking and, if flags accumulate much faster than upvotes, will cause the post to be killed. AFAIK, it doesn't ban you, your site or anything else, and certainly doesn't cause a magic hellban out of nowhere.
Ask HN: How to know when to give up on your startup?
3 points by throwaway16185  1 hour ago   2 comments top
hugh3 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Why are you measuring your level of success in uniques per month rather than dollars?

How many dollars are you pulling in? Does it cover your costs? Do you think that more hits per month would be enough to make it cover your costs, or do you need to rethink how you're bringing the cash in?

edit: Don't worry too much about a drop from July to August though! I know it's disappointing, but you can't start thinking that a single setback is a trend.

Ask HN: Why are so many Python Cloud Hosts in Beta?
3 points by RegEx  2 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: Would you read a blog that detailed the rise and fall of a startup?
5 points by manuscreationis  7 hours ago   2 comments top 2
michaeldhopkins 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Overall, it's enjoyable. Sometimes your wording can be a little awkward. Keep it up.
callmeed 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem is blogs are in reverse chronological order, but I want to read it chapter-by-chapter like a story.
Ask HN: New Laptop, No OS, Where To Buy?
3 points by Rhodee  5 hours ago   2 comments top 2
ebiester 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly, computers are cheaper with an OS. The vendors pile junk like 90 day virus subscriptions (that must be renewed) and Microsoft Office instant upgrades on to the computer as to lower the price.

I'd pick something off http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/ and be done with it.

palehose 4 hours ago 0 replies      
eBay, used computers can be just as good as new.
Show HN: teamloopapp.com - team communication and management tool
3 points by akmiller  6 hours ago   2 comments top
pgroves 5 hours ago 1 reply      
1) I don't know much about being on a sports team as an adult or parent, but the site feels snappy so I like it :)

2) It definitely sounds like you're solving a problem a bit more general than just sports teams, so you may be selling yourself short. It sounds like something that could be used for any kind of 'meetup' style organization (where there are some scheduling issues plus some financial issues). I remember needing something like this many times in college when everybody was a part of a million different student organizations. So... you could make the main pitch more general but than have a sports team as your primary case-study.

2) In my humble opinion, you aren't likely to do anything with photo sharing that hasn't been done before, and it doesn't look like you're very focused on it anyway. If it was me, I wouldn't bother with that aspect.

Language Fatigue
2 points by epicureanideal  7 hours ago   2 comments top 2
bmm6o 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It probably doesn't matter too much unless the company is looking for proficiency in a particular language, and in that case you would know it going in to the interview. When we give a coding problem, we let the candidate choose between C++ and C#, and the problems are such that the language doesn't really make much of a difference; other than minor IO and collections, there aren't any library calls. I prefer not having to explain why a reference to "cout" raises a compiler error (it's in a namespace), but the correctness of the algorithm is way more important.
ggchappell 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not just communicate all this on your resume? More concisely, of course.

Proficient in: A, B, C.

Also have programming experience in: D, E, F.

Disclaimer: I've never been on either side of a resume-based programmer hiring process. Not speaking from experience.

Ask HN: Will my game benefit from being open source?
2 points by Banekin  7 hours ago   2 comments top 2
manuscreationis 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I would recommend, at the very least, trying to contribute to an open source project first, so you can get a sense of how to collaborate with other developers (You don't really mention if you have professional or just personal experience, so i'm assuming the latter). It's actually a very difficult thing, to give up control of your project and place it part ways in the hands of others, and so you might want to experience being on the "Community" side of that fence first.

Just my 2 cents on the issue.

As for how to protect your IP in an open source project, I'm not entirely sure, but I would imagine the right licensing scheme would go a long way, but I'll leave speculation on that to the folks who are more familiar with the ins and outs of the various flavors of open source licensing that exist.

Otherwise, good luck on your game!

jonafato 7 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, it sounds like you'd want to take on a mentor / partner for some sort of profit share. If you describe the game a bit, you might find a few people around here that are willing to help you out.
If Software Is Eating The World, Why Don't Coders Get Any Respect?
548 points by throwaway37  9 days ago   262 comments top 77
Spyro7 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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.

makecheck 9 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.

wladimir 9 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.

bignoggins 9 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.
onan_barbarian 9 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.

BrandonM 9 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.

kenver 9 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.

kemiller 9 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.

olalonde 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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.

shawnjan8 9 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?

pradocchia 9 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.

baltcode 9 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.

mnutt 9 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.
gcv 9 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.

webrakadabra 9 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 9 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.

alexro 9 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.

kayoone 9 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.
tomjen3 9 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.

billconan 9 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 9 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.

HaloZero 9 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.

hxa7241 9 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.

kelleyk 9 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.

arethuza 9 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.

hessenwolf 9 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.

nihilocrat 9 days ago 0 replies      
Because our main job skills do not revolve around self-promotion and manipulation of others.
bglbrg 9 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.
jannes 6 days ago 0 replies      
Programming is art. And artist usually don't get paid too well. Artists either have to be entrepreneurial or very good at their craft in order to get rich.

Like most arts, programming can be learnt by yourself without any teacher, but there are also schools, universities and books for it, if you want to know more about the background and history.

SudarshanP 9 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.

grammaton 9 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.

jmra 9 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 9 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.

mattm 9 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?"

scottjad 9 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.

nivertech 9 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.


seri 9 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?

analyst74 9 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.

rameshnid 9 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.

oldpond 9 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.
perfunctory 9 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.

adamrneary 9 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.


wehriam 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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.

cpeterso 9 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).

vesrin 9 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.

hpguy 8 days 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.

petervandijck 9 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?

h_roark 4 days ago 0 replies      
Architects are the original programmers. They are the master builders who conceive of the built environment that no computer programmer could live without. They fulfill a basic need and (arguably) practice the highest form of art. They complete a level of education comparable to any lawyer and most doctors. Yet even an architect who runs their own successful, mid-size firm would be lucky to turn over $150,000 working 70 hour weeks. Did I mention they take on the liability of life, safety, and well-being of the general public with every decision?

Just sayin'... compensation isn't logical, and it sure as hell isn't fair.

felipemnoa 9 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 9 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).
Draconar 8 days 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?
gdilla 9 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 9 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 9 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.
factfinder 9 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.
nosnhojn 9 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.
TomGullen 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 2 replies      
HFT programmers earn a lot, so its all about creating value http://j.mp/p6Sl45
vynch 9 days ago 0 replies      
why dont programmers get respect? -> who is John Galt?
known 8 days ago 0 replies      
Writing software != Selling software
mh_ya 9 days ago 0 replies      
China is definitely not on the right track...
gogodream 9 days ago 0 replies      
wingman007 9 days ago 0 replies      
Great article! I totally agree with the points.
rimmjob 9 days ago 0 replies      
you care way too much about what other people think
guillaume_a 9 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 9 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.

iPhone vs Android app sales: numbers from an indie developer
274 points by bignoggins  7 days ago   91 comments top 27
dpcan 7 days 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 7 days ago 6 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Glad to see actual numbers rather than the usual circle-jerk of "only iOS makes money".
edawerd 7 days ago 2 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
zmmmmm 7 days ago 1 reply      
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.
utnick 7 days 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

baconner 7 days 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.
rudiger 7 days 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.
seancron 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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.
switchrodeo720 7 days 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.

alohahacker 6 days ago 1 reply      
you said you are ranking 250ish on android right now.

what is the best way to find your ranking on android? is their a website or tool or did you just go on the market and scroll down and counted till you saw your app?

awesome numbers btw! thanks!!

hello_moto 6 days ago 1 reply      
Do you have any automation test? How's the testing and build infrastructure in both Android and iPhone/iPad?

Would love to be able to automate the build/test/deploy using some sort of continuous integration or something.

dageshi 7 days 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).
sounalath 7 days 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?
g-garron 6 days ago 1 reply      
For 75%, it well worth the effort of porting the app, instead of creating a new one for the iPhone.
jwatte 6 days ago 1 reply      
Taking credit cards is hard. You get random declines from merchant banks all the time. I bet the app store simply doesn't tell you about it.
Not a single decline in 15 months? Hardly likely. 20% of all attempted virtual purchases bouncing sounds not unreasonable if you compare to other markets (pc, game credits, etc)
caseorganic 7 days 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.

g-garron 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this post man, It helped me a lot with this
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2931430 question.
iaskwhy 7 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the details. Feel like sharing numbers for the iPad too? Please?
jtellier 7 days ago 1 reply      
I have actually found my Phone 7 has 4x my android, blackberry, WebOS, and iOS app sales combined.... Probably because the market isn't flooded yet. Android was my lowest, iOS next, then Blackberry, followed by webOS. If you can hit markets people do not yet find viable, that may very well be your key to success.
mrpither 7 days ago 1 reply      
Any plans to add winphone7 version now that it's mango time??
kjbake01 6 days ago 0 replies      
as an iPhone to Android refugee, I'd add that android users are driven more by function rather than magic, and that probably affects the value they place on apps.
usagi7 7 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty awesome stats. Great job, man! Good insight.
haydenevans 7 days ago 1 reply      
Simple yet biased answer: Android owners want free apps, iOS users are more willing to pay.
marquis 7 days ago 3 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: Tool that lets you identify changes an app makes to the disk?
4 points by jfdi  6 hours ago   3 comments top 3
erikig 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are some suggestions:

If you are on *nix you can list all the files that a process is using:
$ lsof -p <PID>,<PID>,<PID>

Then do a diff of the listed files against older versions of the files (e.g from a backup).

On Windows you can use procmon.exe (its a free tool from Microsoft that lists all network, registry and files) and see the updates in realtime.

Hope those work.

dantheta 5 hours ago 0 replies      
strace can do it (Linux). Watch out for "open", "read","write","unlink" in the output - these are some of the filesystem operations.

inotifywatch (from inotify-tools) can show you changes made to files in a particular directory.

wmf 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: How do we get something we can show on our YC application?
13 points by fbuilesv  10 hours ago   10 comments top 4
abbasmehdi 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not related to YC in any way, but why would they take you and tie you down in the Valley when you have so much running around left to do? On the other hand, they might call the banks for you and get you in where you couldn't have. But again you're focusing on Latin America, so I am not sure how much pull they have in that region.

On one hand it seems like you have a very strong application, on the other hand I see them passing on you by saying "they need some more time out there in the wild, we will take them in the next cycle or the one after."

However, they have stated in the past they don't care that much for ideas, they invest in people not any other thing, so I guess if you show to them that you're the right team for this project then they might talk to you.

Either way, nothing is the end, except death or disease, and you seem to be onto something great, so use phones and emails when you can't travel, or just work locally. Grow organically by narrowing your scope and then fueling growth with the cash flows. Easier said than done, I know.

Good luck my friends!

earlyriser 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Why just Latin America. I'm in Canada and I'm tired of using Paypal as the most developer friendly gateway. WePay is only for USA, BrainTree also and Stripe is still in beta and will be focused on USA.
If you could develop something like that for Canada I guess you will have hundreds of developers interested. Beside that you can exclude the complexity of taking many countries and banks.
fbuilesv 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Needless to say, if you're in Latin America and you can't find a payment gateway to cover your weekend project or your new startup, we'd love to talk to you. Feel free to write me at federico@mheroin.com
ig1 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How much capital do you need (roughly) ?

If you've got customers willing to pay for it why not get a loan/investment from them ?

Ask HN: Would you hire someone whose very smart but annoying?
9 points by whenisayUH  13 hours ago   19 comments top 19
JacobAldridge 12 hours ago 0 replies      
No. The suggestion I give all my clients is to first pass every potential recruit through a 'Family Photo Fit' - ie, will they fit in with the rest of your team. If not, then their skills, relationships, intelligence etc won't have a chance to be leveraged.

I think Branson has written about 'hiring for attitude, training for skills' which is along the same vein.

Annoying team members are bad. If you have a bad performer who is disruptive, it's bad for your business; if you have a good performer who is disruptive, it is many multiples worse as their behavious starts to become accepted by others who want to also perform at their level.

But definitely be open about the 'non-match' on your organisation's culture - there are possibly other businesses there where he would fit better, and at least it gives him a chance at become more aware of those hardwired elements.

kstenerud 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The most important question is: How will he affect office morale?

A hotshot employee is great and all, but if his personality problems negatively affect the rest of your crew, it's a net loss. Bad attitudes are infectious.

philiphodgen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Personal experience: no. It damages the entire team. I've seen how team morale improves when such a person departs.

Talked to a friend today who is way, way good at polo (the horse type). The head guy at his stable picks players (in South America) as follows: (1) he asks around for "nice" people. (2) he goes and watches them play. (3) he extends offers. Screening for potential members of the team happens in that order.

aspir 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hire him on a 90 day trial period. Pay him for those 90 days, of course, but after that time, that's when you should know if his technical skills outbalance the "annoying factor." He may be a great guy once you get to know him, and he also may the be best engineer you've ever hired, but you never know.
peterwwillis 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Regardless of your decision, I would ask that you find a polite way to inform this candidate what you think of his personality. Even if you don't accept him it will help him learn to control his abrasiveness so he will have less difficulty trying to find work.

That said, if you're already having doubts it's probably not meant to be. If he were just working from home or something it wouldn't be much of an issue, but people who work together daily need to not hate each other =)

beagle3 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I once, as a manager, had the most brilliant employee, who did not shower regularly. Others didn't want to work with him. When all development could go through version control, it worked fine; When there was need for interactive team work, it didn't work at all.

Depends on how work flows in your organization, I guess.

michaeldhopkins 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It depends whether your culture is passive or one with some teeth that will challenge this guy. If your culture is too weak to confront him, then don't let him in.
drfloob 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Being consistently loud and annoying are indications that this person doesn't adapt well to his surroundings, especially if everyone around him seems displeased. It may be a sign of poor overall judgement.

It may also be that this person was nervous when you interviewed him, and didn't have the forethought to say "I get loud and annoying when I'm really nervous, it will pass."

My advice: test him out. If he is truly great, and you really need a truly great developer, and the annoying bits don't go away: isolate him from your team, manage him closely, and keep him happy.

bo_Olean 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Not at all.

He is not just smart. Smart people with annoying behavior are over-smart.
Why you are killing your time on someone who would make fun of your company vision too?

When you hire, hire someone so that you would want to pay them more
every month for their work/involvement in your organization.

brudgers 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Depends on how important social skills are to the position. An annoying person probably shouldn't be making initial contact with potential clients. On the other hand, if they are part of a team of smart annoying people whose job is to sit in the dark and write code, why not?
throwawayme174 7 hours ago 0 replies      
From the point of view of someone who is much like the candidate you interviewed(could be him too!) here are some factors you need to consider before making a decision.

a) What is the size of the team that he is going to be collaborating with when writing code...If its just him or a team of two people..He could be an asset since annoying people are mostly very confident and motivated and when working alone they can be very very productive (Case in point:Linus Torvalds).But then that works the other way too.

b) Is someone smart going to be mentoring him...I feel like he needs a mentor or someone who he can learn from...the annoying attitude is mostly just a defence mechanism...once you can prove that he has something to learn from you or his boss his annoying behaviour will most likely go away.(Case in Point:Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting).

c) The culture of your company...Are you a company where you focus more on stability or you focus more on creating ....As the Steve Jobs says in the movie ,Pirates of the Silicon Valley,"Creation is messy".....and needless to say people who dont give a fuck about the status quo or what you think about them are an essential part of that mess.

d) "Not sure if feedback to him would change those things (they're hardwired/part of his personality)"...I dont know if this is an assumption you are making or this is part of the question.....Feedback to him could certainly change things...especially if you point out to him what parts of his behaviour are annoying in particular and why exactly is that counter-productive to the company and himself too.Smart people are also reasonable and if you have good enough reasons to support your suggestions he will acquiesce and will respect you for your candor.

EDIT1: Grammar
EDIT2:I just got a rejection email from the company I interviewed at.So I deleted the personal note.The other points still hold.Good luck!

koopajah 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've done my last internship in a small startup in Paris where the 3 developers did not get along at all. Everyone was eating separately, they were not speaking to each other during the day except to talk about the project specifically and it was really hard to integrate. The software was working and was pretty good but who knows where they would have been if they all had the same goals and shared a lot except just work.
In most of the interviews of startup founders I've seen (especially in the book startups open sourced) it really seems that culture, getting along, etc. is really vital for most of the startups to succeed.

On the other hand, in bigger company, hiring someone really smart can be done even if he is annoying because he will be one in a hundred or more.

buntar 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is how would try to solve the dilemma:

- Can he really make a (qualitative) difference, or ships he just faster and a little more elegant?

- If yes, hire him and let him work wherever he wants but in your office (at home, an external office, ...). Communicate via email.

- if no I would'nt hire him simply because it takes energy to digest annoying behavior. So it will have a slight negative effect on my personal performance. It will be a zero sum game.

brianl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Do not hire as employee. The collective cost of dealing with the annoyance will far outweigh the geek's contribution.

However, consider hiring him as an on-call "consultant" for "special projects" in case the team falls behind schedule. It might motivate them to get ahead. :)

TMK 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Only problem I see is. Does he talk more than work?
Mijay 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this hire critical in terms of timing? If yes, then I would go with the other's suggestions of doing a trial period. Provide feedback and positive reinforcement.

If no, then I would absolutely hit the pool again and find someone who's both a technical and culture fit. This post might be helpful for you: http://actionablebooks.com/culture-fit-whatever-that-means/

Also, how big is your team? If it's small enough that this person would throw off the flow and stick out like a sore thumb, then I would say no again.

Good luck!

ericwsbrooke 12 hours ago 0 replies      
No I would not hire them, if I was convinced it was hardwired. A bad fit in the case of your team, would mean your happiness and thus your productivity for the whole team would go down. Also in terms of culture, values and brand you could be sending a bad message to your team and anyone outside that has to work or interact with them.

I should declare an interest my startup (Professional You) is building a system to help you find your perfect boss, as our data shows that if you like your boss you are happier and more productive and if you trust them you are will take the occasional risk and thus be more innovative..

tobylane 13 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are sure he can be kept on task by whoever is in charge of him, and he won't affect others then I'd say something like you're on probation, please act gently and kindly.
webbruce 9 hours ago 0 replies      
No. Everyone is replaceable, find another.
Ask HN: Is a designer 'technical'?
2 points by gerds  6 hours ago   1 comment top
limedaring 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a designer myself and I don't consider myself a "technical" founder (though I will use the term "semi-technical". I feel that in order to be considered a technical founder, you should have mastery of programming and servers and all those super-technical details " HTML/CSS/Design don't cut it.
Ask HN: Is it really worth it to join AngelList?
6 points by Macshot  12 hours ago   7 comments top 3
mrchess 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel like you haven't even done any research on AL at all. Have even opened it up in a browser or read a little about it? You say you want to go the "old fashioned" way through networking... well AL is networking -- it is a social-network for investors.

You should read more about AL. But in short, yes, you should use it. It is much easier to find investors, and if you win one over, it is easier to extend out from their personal networks as well. I'd also recommend you start reading venturehacks.com.

idanb 11 hours ago 1 reply      
AngelList is an amazing resource that can really not only get you funding, but also provide you with some really amazing connections and even friendships! There is a really great investment community on that site and in general a really great culture as well.

With that said, you need to be aware that going online, setting up an AngelList account and spamming investors won't get you anywhere either. I think AngelList is a tool and it's up to you how to use it. Combined with "old fashioned" networking AngelList makes it much easier to get a seed round (or series financing) together.

You just want to make sure that, if nothing else, the investors you contact on AngelList have at least heard of you somewhat, or someone they know has. You can meet them by trying to go to events where these people are speaking or hanging out. Talk to them about your start up, maybe set up a coffee date. Once you've talked a few people (don't even mention fundraising at first!) then drop the hint that you guys are looking to raise some money. AngelList will then provide the gears, but you've always got to be the engine!

ig1 11 hours ago 1 reply      
What's your reason not to join AngelList ? - there's nothing stopping you both using AngelList and get investment from elsewhere as well.
Ask HN: Which is better? Python or Ruby
2 points by aberatiu  9 hours ago   4 comments top 4
petercooper 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I disclaim I'm a Ruby nut, but all four apply to both. They both have qualities that can be seen as pros or cons by their respective fans. You'd need to be more specific with your requirements.

It is no big deal to learn enough of each to make a reasonable comparison in several hours.

ryanto 4 hours ago 0 replies      
which is better: a hammer or a screw driver?
moozeek 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess the logical correct answer would be: Yes
0x0x0x 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you like whitespace? ;)
Ask HN: How do I know I'm ready for an internship?
6 points by jamesbrewer  17 hours ago   10 comments top 7
JesseAldridge 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Just apply and find out. Honestly, you may well end up making a fool of yourself -- but at least you'll have an answer. Fear/ego is a pretty poor excuse for not trying. I'm saying this as someone who has bombed a couple of coding interviews recently. It's frustrating and embarrassing, but you just pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and move on. If nothing else, coding interviews are great learning experiences.
Wilduck 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's how to not make a fool of yourself on the day of your interview: Don't have the first contact with the company be the day of your interview.

What I mean is, make sure that you've talked to people in the company. Like others have suggested, talk to people outside of the HR department. If you need a suggestion for how to go about contacting them, I've had a lot of success with finding someone who works there, sending them an email with a subject "What's happening at <company name> this summer?" Inside the email, include a sentence about why their company is cool, a sentence about why you'd like to work/intern for them, and then ask them if they might have a place for you.

Not only have emails like this been well received, they give you the chance to craft your initial conversation with a company, and talk to many more companies than going through HR would allow.

In my experience I had a much higher response rate than I expected, and while many weren't looking for anyone, a follow up email asking if they knew anyone who was hiring often produced another lead or two. Best of luck.

wisty 16 hours ago 1 reply      
You don't need any projects or open-source commitments to get a job, let alone an internship. Just find a company that you think is interesting, and ask around. If it's a small company, they might not have a formal internship program, and you might get a job just by having the initiative to ask. Companies are always in a war for talent.

Be aware, companies are not monolithic entities. There's the "functional departments" (HR, accounting), and they are easy to find. But they are useless for making contacts. If the core business is IT (and you really want to be in an IT shop, not just plugging in people's network cards) then you need to get onto the project managers (or just project workers) in the company. HR is a waste of time, unless you must talk to them. Google, LinkedIn, the companies website, email, and a phone are your friends. Find someone who looks like a developer, email, then follow up with a call. It never hurts to ask.

If you want to do a demo project (and while you might not need it, but it won't hurt), tell us your skills, and I'm sure someone will suggest a reasonable "Hello world"y project you could do. It doesn't have to be revolutionary, or even good. Just enough to show you know how to get stuff working.

xuki 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The last thing I want to do is show up for an interview and make a complete fool of myself.

Do this now so you know where you are, instead of finding it years from now when being interviewed for a real job. The sooner the better.

damoncali 14 hours ago 0 replies      
1. Just do it and ignore your fear. Fear is what holds us back.

2. It takes less than a day to come up with a project. For example, I built a facebook tab CMS in about 5 hours, and it's a pretty cool little demo. Is it a big deal? No. It's not even enough to compete with the plethora of $5/month offerings already on the market. But does it demonstrate some basic skills? Absolutely. Take a saturday and write something simple. Make it work well (FINISH IT), and you'll be surprised at how much credibility it gets you. In fact, make your own facebook tab CMS. It doesn't have to be clever - it just has to be real.

plunchete 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As others said, don't be afraid, just try it.

Also, internships are there to learn, nobody expects you being a guru, they expect someone with passion and a hard worker.

Good luck!

noeltock 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Think that depends heavily on your age (pre-college, during, after?). If you're already getting that higher education, you'll want to get the ball rolling on just crushing it and learning as much as you can, maybe even release something small on github. At the stage you're at, the only thing you can be doing is shipping.
Show HN: Anonymous, web-based bookmarking
4 points by vail130  19 hours ago   8 comments top 3
mooism2 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Clicky link: http://www.anomarks.com

If I don't have to sign up, why do I need a password?

nurik 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like the idea. What do you think about a bookmarking site similar to google+? or maybe an add on? Wouldn't it be a neat feature to just "pull" the urls into "bookmarking-circles"?
user9756 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't use Google or Delicious for my bookmark but I liked your implementation as it doesn't require me to sign up.
Offer HN: FREE: I'll make your first 10 cold calls
43 points by jayliew  3 days ago   11 comments top 7
mikeknoop 3 days ago 1 reply      
Out of sheer curiosity, are there any companies that actually do this (abstracted cold-calling) and take a commission on converted leads?
jayliew 3 days ago 0 replies      
Forgot to add:

What I get out of this: I get to cust-dev & hustle for you - that is my prize. If you want to pay me, I won't say no to money :)

That's it. I'm not looking for a job. Or new ideas. Everything is private & confidential. I stake my real life reputation on it.

alexro 2 days ago 1 reply      
For how long your offer is valid? I'd like to give it a hit in about a month or two. And, can you hint on the area you are comfortable making calls in, i.e. whole country or a state. Thanks!
Joakal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very helpful, but unfortunately I won't need cold calls for a while. Do you have any good materials I could read in my spare time?
markhall 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks Jay for your contributions to the HN community. I sent you an email. I would love to talk further about it. Thanks
rjain 2 days ago 0 replies      
interesting offer - will definitely send you a message once we launch:)
TristanKromer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Go Jay go!
Ask HN: So if you're not developing with accessibility in mind...
3 points by aufklarung  21 hours ago   4 comments top 3
jasonkester 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Same reason we don't zombie-proof our houses. There are plenty of things to worry about that actually have the potential to happen. Why waste time worrying about things that won't?
nailer 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Also it's easier to create browser technology to change the appearance of sites to match an individual's needs rather than all websites to change to meet a generalized set of accessibility guidelines which may not affect all disabled people and which may harm abled users.
davewasthere 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's easy enough to develop an accessible site, then progressively enhance it. The benefits of having it well written in that way has more benefits than just pure accessibility (SEO goodness comes to mind).

In certain sectors, accessible sites is mandatory already.

Ask HN : Suggestions for Writing Background jobs
2 points by mabid  18 hours ago   7 comments top 2
drKarl 18 hours ago 1 reply      
If you know java and scala, I would recommend you to give Play framework a try. It is extremely simple and fast to set up and develop with, plus it uses Quartz scheduler library for the jobs.


Alternatively you could simply use Quartz alone.


ColinWright 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It would be polite to put to least a hint of your question in the title so people know what it's about.
Storing all necessary data in the URL
8 points by matthaeus  1 day ago   5 comments top 4
cheald 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I did something similar with a side project a little while back --

If you pull up http://shadowcraft.mmo-mumble.com/us/cenarion-circle/adrine/ you'll notice that all the state gets pushed onto the URL. This is actually a (very big) JSON data structure, packed into an array (to strip key data) and, where possible, with numbers compressed as base62. The whole thing is then deflated and base64-encoded. In that example up there, I have about 2kb of data compressed into 316 bytes. The URL is a bit ugly, but it means you can pass around the entire state in the URL.

mooism2 1 day ago 0 replies      
As an aside, there is a web safe variant of base 64 encoding you could use if you feel hex encoding produces excessively long urls.


Joakal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Be aware of URL limits [0]. Try to find out exactly what encoding is acceptable in major browsers too.

[0] http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/HTTP-414-Way-Too-Fing-Long.a...

0xdeadc0de 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: What do you think is broken?
5 points by illdave  1 day ago   2 comments top
wavephorm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Dropbox-style file syncing is a transitional technology. They won't be around in 10 years unless they reinvent themselves. The reason is, personal computers are being phased out. That means local filesystems are going to move online where a service like Dropbox becomes redundant.

What's broken is the personal computer. It was wrong form the start. Thin client computing is already back en vogue, just now we call it tablets/smartphones and cloud.

Show HN: A search engine for your browsing history
4 points by _grrr  1 day ago   3 comments top 2
qxb 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think you should emphasise that the browsing history is stored remotely. That looks to be the main advantage for me, because for Chrome users at least, the inbuilt history search is already very powerful. (As an example, I visited your site, then hit Cmd-Y and searched for 'italian restaurant' and it came up straight away.)

Google Account users can already activate Web History to get a similar service. Not everyone is a Google Account holder, of course. Does your service offer any additional features to Google's offering? What about a different privacy policy? For a service that will essentially store all my browsing history I found that section in particular a little sparse.

Ask HN: Programming to Game Programming?
9 points by sockey  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
Zolomon 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://gamedev.stackexchange.com - this website is great for finding answers to question you haven't asked yet!

http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=votes - here is a collection of awesome questions to begin with getting solutions for.

http://gamedev.net - here is another great website with everything you can ever need, check out the forums and article archive!

http://gamasutra.com - professionals hang out here.

http://www.gpwiki.org/index.php/Main_Page - here is another great wiki filled with good use.

You're in for a joy ride. Prepare to devour information like never before.

By the way, you'll learn best by just doing, so join in on http://www.ludumdare.com and other indie gamedev competitions! Use Google, it's your greatest resource.

I can recommend XNA with C# if you're on Windows, or PyGame if you're using Python (there are equally good platforms for any language you pick, don't worry about it - the same methodologies apply to them all (more or less)). Start simple and then go on to the harder stuff once you really feel like you've grasped the fundamentals. I love this question: http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/854/what-are-good...

Remember, the biggest thing you can do wrong right now is trying to write the next-gen MMORPG. Scale after you've got something working. And while building your game, you will have your engine (common question, common pitfall).

Good luck!

stonemetal 1 day ago 0 replies      
where do I go from here? This question is unanswerable without a destination in mind. So where do you want to go? What kind of games do you want to make, AAA vs indie, puzzle, action, RPGs? If you want to go AAA pick one thing and do it really, really well. If you want to make indie games you will do a lot of everything learn it all. Web games pretty much require HTML, CSS, JS and something server side. Non web games not so much, unless you are making the game's website as well.

Probably the easiest place to get started would be desktop based 2d puzzle games.

Ask HN: What would be the perfect web analytics tool for your startup?
6 points by rokhrastnik  1 day ago   6 comments top 2
staunch 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Mixpanel and KISSMetrics are both on to the right idea I think, but neither of them are hitting it out of the park as far as I'm concerned.

I've used both, but just rolled my own system.

ig1 1 day ago 2 replies      
One that treated my website as a business as opposed to a collection of webpages.

For example I run a job board, the metrics I care about are how often candidates come back to look for new jobs, how many candidates look at each job, how many apply to each job, how this is related to the skill sets for that job, etc.

Technically I can (and do) get this data out of google analytics using a combination of regexes, custom variable and custom segments and a little voodoo. But it's essentially a hack.

Google Analytics feels like I'm using Atari Basic where page urls are line numbers, when in actuality I want to be writing in Python and be talking about business objects.

I want a web analytic system where I can tell it about my business objects. If a user goes to a job page I want to be able to stick some javascript in my page which goes analytics(object="job", action="view", id="232") and then lets me do sophisticated analysis on user behaviour.

I don't want web analytics, I want business intelligence for the web.

Ask HN: I'd love some feedback on my draft site (lickbit.com)
5 points by contactdick  1 day ago   5 comments top 2
ColinWright 1 day ago 2 replies      
Surely "purchase of you" should be "purchase for you".

And it's in interesting idea, certainly, but I'm deeply reluctant to give poeple my email address, let alone enter into an agreement with them to transfer money, bitcoins or physical goods.

You might have trouble getting over that.

Clickable: http://lickbit.com/

revorad 1 day ago 1 reply      
You need a bit more selling to convince people to put in their details. A simple picture or video of how it works, with an FAQ would be nice.
       cached 3 September 2011 04:05:01 GMT