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Ask HN: Non-technical people, how did you learn to code?
12 points by freshfey  43 minutes ago   9 comments top 5
phreeza 9 minutes ago 2 replies      
I believe this came up in a previous discussion some days ago, but it bears repeating:

Working with someone/getting personal help from more experienced than yourself is awesome. The trick is not to bother them with (to them) trivial questions, but show that you have put in the work and ask them for their guidance.

Look over experienced coders shoulders any chance you get, and talk to them, to understand their way of thinking. I think this kind of learning has a lot more leverage than doing yet another tutorial.

MikeMacMan 7 minutes ago 1 reply      
I started programming when I was 24 (11 years ago) and working at my first job. A coworker was my mentor early on, and we pair programmed frequently for a couple of months. I read a couple of Wrox Java books and just learned by writing a lot of code and reading as much as I could.

Luckily, I was tasked with developing a whole bunch of forms for a client-server application, which the IDE helped me out with a lot with its WYSIWYG editor, and the programming work was relatively easy (no I/O, no DB access, etc).

The keys for me were:

1. Having a mentor early on

2. Flattening the learning curve with an IDE.

3. Choosing the right project

geoffd 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I taught myself to code at the age of 22 and I am not a math genius by any means. I feel like I'm getting pretty good at it (almost 24 now).

The biggest thing to remember is to have a real problem you're trying to solve with programming. Just going through tutorials isn't going to teach you how to program. And then Google until you figure it out. I found it works best to get something functioning, and then go back and read the documentation or book about why it works how it does.

In my case, I started a company and didn't have the money (or desire) to find a developer to work with. So I sat in front of my computer and struggled through it. I had an actual problem that I wanted to solve.

amorphid 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Learned to code from people better than me who like to teach. Teaching helps me reinforce what I do know. Writing code to solve problems helps keep it interesting.
brackin 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
I want Codecademy to extend their language set and number of courses. This would help me greatly.
Which technology stack to use for car pooling over web and mobile
3 points by szcukg  3 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: 1 minute Survey About Open Source Software in Your Products
34 points by bretthardin  16 hours ago   20 comments top 9
ColinWright 16 hours ago 5 replies      
If you really want people to do this, why do you make them copy and paste the URL into their browser? Why don't you provide a clickable link?

Here, I'll do it for you: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PT56NHC

... and now that I've gone to take the survey, I can't finish it because there is no suitable answer for question 6. Another of the questions I had trouble understanding the distinction between "None" and "0" as answers.

So I gave up.

Good surveys are really quite hard to design, and bad surveys are pretty near useless. It's pretty clear you're asking how much people will pay for something you're thinking of producing, so I suggest you think a lot harder about how you're going to get that information. I'll be very surprised if this survey gives you anything reliable.

kevinherron 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I marked "I only use free tools", but what I really wanted was an option like "This isn't worth paying for".

We do pay for tools we find useful.

mtogo 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It's good etiquette to post the results page with the poll so that it benefits the entire community, not just yourself.
BrandonM 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A metacomment related to question 6: Ubuntu tells us exactly how many packages need to be updated, and the update is as simple as executing a single command. The problem is ensuring that functionality is not broken by things like API or subtle behavior changes. This means that updates end up happening infrequently since they need to be regression tested on a development server before being pushed to production.

If a product could solve that problem (classifying updates and performing code analysis to determine if something could break) it would definitely be worth paying for.

Note also that you're asking the wrong people, and it's going to be hard to ask the right people with an Internet post. The best candidates for this tool are busy founders/CTOs/sysadmins/engineers who don't have time to manage their updates, much less take surveys on Hacker News.

huhtenberg 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Consider making all questions optional and you'll get more people answering.
andrewcooke 13 hours ago 0 replies      
i clicked on the "only free tools", but this is an interesting idea. how are you planning to implement it? a tool that scans our git, hg, svn and cvs repos and tells us what we have would be quite interesting (although there's the obvious hurdle of trusting third party code enough to ever run it).

i work for a small consultancy that builds bespoke solutions using open source code - we have loads of projects, some ancient (cvs!), and i am sure no-one has a clue what versions of what we used when (sure, it's documented for the client, but we don't have our own central list). now perhaps we should be better organised, but i suspect many other companies are in a similar position.

but if we were going to pay for this, how would it help us make money? is the idea that we can approach ex-clients and scare them with lists of security holes? or are they the target clients - perhaps they should be running this code to audit their systems? and that sounds so useful i am surprised that nothing like this already exists...?

JoshTriplett 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Same objection to question 6 that other people have mentioned: I wouldn't pay for a service that tells me about open source software updates (because I keep up with them myself already as part of my usual process of staying informed), but that doesn't mean I don't pay for services in general.
bitops 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree that Question #6, the keystone, is poorly designed.

It should also include the option "I don't know, depends on how useful it is".

I just chose a random answer since that option wasn't there (and the question was required).

rickette 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Only 6 questions, I've seen much worse surveys ;-)
Ask HN: What interests tech people when talking to a non-tech person?
6 points by tamle  9 hours ago   9 comments top 3
evincarofautumn 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Here are a few things that come to mind if you want to start a company with me.

1. Your idea has to be solid. Not just something you're excited about, not just something I can get excited about, but something that's genuinely good. Something that no one has thought of before, or a new edge to a market that hasn't been nailed yet. If I were an investor, I would have to want to invest in us.

2. You have to have a good understanding of the technical challenges involved in making your idea a reality. You should have an idea of what needs to be done so that your hopes aren't completely dashed when I tell you the facts of what it will take.

3. You cannot undervalue your time, or my time. No matter what, I'm taking a risk by working with you. You have to convince me that it will be worth my while, and you know what? You probably have to make it actually worth my while.

4. You have to be willing to accept feedback. If you start with a complete vision of what your company and product are going to be, you will be sorely disappointed when that vision fails to materialise. By taking critique during the development of your idea, you will end up with something better even than the perfection you imagined.

Just my 2¢.

leeHS 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Good questions! I'm actually a tech person who is interested in finding a non-tech person. Trust you? That's tough, because I don't know you yet. So for starter, what have you done? I'm a hacker, so I could give you my tech credentials. You're a hustler (I hope!), so show me your hustling credentials.

Then after that, it's really all about chemistry. Are we going to be able to count on each other when the shit hits the fan...for the 20th time? Because bottom line, if we hook up to pursue a startup, we'll be married.

glimcat 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone who would have made a good tech person, but is devoted to a different domain area.
What's the best time of day/day of week to submit to HN?
7 points by joshuap  11 hours ago   10 comments top 3
jackpirate 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I figure that around noon in the US is the largest traffic, so you will spend less time on the front page as more articles are submitted. But that time is more valuable because more people will see it.

Conversely, if you post at midnight, you will get more time, but the time will be less valuable. So in the end, I think it probably evens out to the same number of users visiting an article.

The trick (not that I'm a big submitter) I would guess is to post things at all hours. I imagine many people have a habbit of only cheching at a certain time. Maybe it's their lunch break, maybe just before going to bed. By posting things at all hours of the day, you can reach all of HN, rather than just the subset that visits only at certain times.

notatoad 11 hours ago 1 reply      
from what i've seen, the traffic on HN seems to be low enough that everything gets a pretty fair shake. things sit in the new queue long enough that no matter when you submit it is going to get seen.

if your submissions aren't doing well, reconsider the content, not the timing ;)

YuriNiyazov 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I once ran a daemon that would hit the frontpage and the new page every 30 minutes over a period of two weeks to answer the exact question you are asking. There weren't any statistically significant trends. Anecdotally, submitting on Fridays is worse than submitting on Mondays.
Ask HN: How to get good at math if you are too bad with math
15 points by throwaway2211  19 hours ago   14 comments top 10
mhd 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm in a similar situation. Mathematics (just like drawing and some languages) is a big item on my Someday/Maybe issue, so I collected some materials but haven't gone through most of them yet. So take the following stuff that was recommended to me cum grano salis.

- George Polya - How to Solve It

Interesting book on proofs and a logical approach to problem solving. Original title was "School of Thinking"…

- Lancelot Hogben - Mathematics for the Millions
- Silvanus P Thompson - Calculus Made Easy

Two older books that came well recommended (have been mentioned in this thread already). Not sure if that's due to the readers or their teachers nostalgia or well founded yet.

- The Manga Guide to Calculus

Erm, yeah. (I did like the Manga Guide to Databases, though)

- Benjamin & Shermer - Secrets of Mental Math

How to do mental arithmetics quickly. Good for igniting the spark and impress your friends…

Also, some book on mathematics by Russian, who employ some different methods in teaching, but I can't find the book nor its title right now, must be in some moving box. (Generally, talk to Russians. They're creepy when it comes to maths and chess)

karlzt 16 hours ago 2 replies      
check out this funny, yet effective, introduction to calculus book from 1914: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33283/33283-pdf.pdf. Richard Feynman used this book and then learned calculus at age 15.
kaybe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want real maths and not just calculating, you'll need to do lots and lots of exercises. It's best if someone more experienced can grade them (it's hard to judge your own proofs), but looking at solutions helps too. You can get books for that (I don't know about ebooks), just ask around and have a look inside (Is there a university with a library nearby? You can try there.), different people need different books.

I like the math part of The Art of Computer Programming (in the first book) by D. Knuth. It has exercises with solutions and, as the name says, is orientated towards maths useful for programming. Plus, it's a good read.
The whole series came highly recommended, but I'm still in the first part, so I can't judge it yet. ^^

phektus 8 hours ago 0 replies      

So head to khanacademy.org, start with algebra and work on all exercises. Then go to the other subjects.

I highly suggest you pick one particular graduate level math subjects and sounds interesting to you and make that your goal.

S4M 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I realized that most people (including me) sometimes fail to understand some maths notions because they don't try enough to understand them. What I mean is that some notions are complicated, really complicated, and often people with good will go straight on doing exercises, hoping that somehow, that will make them understand. So my advice is: dont rush. Try to understand the core principles. There are theorems, try to understand how to prove them. Will the theorems still hold if you remove some hypothesis? What can happen?

Of course the way of learning I suggest is not easy or fast, especially for someone who is busy with a full time job, but I guarantee that if you do it you will build for yourself some solid grounds, and you will feel yourself more intelligent.

Out of interest, I am curious why you need to become better at maths.

tgerhard 19 hours ago 1 reply      
What are you interested in? How in depth are you willing to study? I'm basically in the same boat and recently out of the blue developed a passion for math. I found there are plenty of free books available online. Right now I'm studying combinatorics, but every so often I take a couple of Khan Academy classes on trig. You might also want to check out Project Euler that offers the chance to combine math and programming.
medinism 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I would start with number theory and getting very good at managing numbers in your head. I bought a book "how to calculate quickly" to help me with that. MOst algebra and calculus problems could be solved quite easily by running approximations in your head that solve the equation at hand. I learned this method from prof Feynman in his famous book "you must be joking Mr Feynman"
horofox 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Study algebra and trigonometry fist(basic stuff that you should have studied in high school) then proceed to study calculus. It's REALLY pointless trying to go calculus not knowing proper algebra at least, believe me :P
ekm2 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Visit ArtOf ProblemSolving.com(AOPS).That is the HN of Mathematics.
dataduck 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually help people with this kind of thing for a living, as a personal tutor - drop me a line if you're interested.
Ask HN: iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad rental
3 points by gnok  12 hours ago   2 comments top 2
ig1 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Places like CEX have fixed prices for buying/selling phones, so you could just buy the phones from them and sell them back when you're done.
michaeldwp 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if something like that exists, but I've used http://deviceanywhere.com in the past for Windows Mobile testing. This was before the iPhone, they're still around and have iPhone support, so it may be helpful.

Once I got everything configured, it was pretty sweet. It wasn't hard to setup either.

The one thing is, from what I recall, they were a bit expensive. But they have free trials.

I also found this article that could be useful:


There's a bunch of options for testing without buying a bunch of iOS devices. They also have more DeviceAnywhere-type services listed as well.

I hope this helps.

Ask HN: My side project. Is it useful?
74 points by tomelders  3 days ago   57 comments top 25
fbnt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice tool, good design, UX could be improved, but I like the idea.

   There's not a flight search engine that I know of that
would group those airports together.

Not really, I always use the map feature on SkyScanner, you can see and choose a nearby airport, and you can also check if a direct flight is available.
If there's one thing where your tool is different, is that you can type the name of a random place, but I find hard to believe that people would be so clueless about the place they're going to.

   And two of those airlines (Easyjet, Ryanair) do not show
up on flight search websites

Again, SkyScanner does that, and so does a number of other flight search engines or travel sites such as Expedia, eDreams, lastminute etc. This is simply untrue.

Overall, good job, I don't see why people wouldn't want to use this.

p.s: Should you land in Verona Villafranca, come say hi! I live near there :)

piaskal 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. Nobody ever travels from airport to airport, yet every flight search engine insists that you enter departure and destination airport names instead of places you actually want to go to. How am I supposed to know what airports are nearby a place I've never been before?
Sukotto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, I think it could be really useful.

I'd like it even more if you decrease the focus on the giant map and instead have a little form like

| Leaving from: ______________ |
| |
| Going to: ______________ |
| |
| [Show me] |

Let me put in, for example, Vancouver, Canada and New York City

Show me a mini map for my end points and let the rest of the screen show what flights I can take. Maybe with some controls to let me filter on things like "what car rental my company uses", "time on train from airport to city center".

Let me pick specific airports... but don't force me to.

revorad 3 days ago 1 reply      
Quick criticism. Please take it as points to improve:

The UI is too complicated and confusing. I can't get my head around it. Can you simplify it?

Zooming in and out of the map with the mouse wheel doesn't work.

Too many error messages. Instead of saying "you didn't pick any destination", ask me to pick one from a list or predictive textbox.

Don't show me destinations to which there are no routes. Spending five minutes clicking around to get an error message in the end is no fun.

Don't separate the to and from locations so much visually. Tabs don't feel right for that kind of thing. Anyway, it's just two fields, just show them together.

You didn't completely carry through the concept of going from place to place, rather than airport to airport. When I search for Paris as my destination, you show me a dot on Paris the city, and couple of dots for the airports. My instinct is to click on the dot for the city, not the airports. Let me select the dot for the city.

You could make this really intuitive by getting rid of the text boxes entirely. Let me just click on the map to do everything. Click to select both start and end locations.

bambax 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting; it did show me some airports and airlines I had never heard of, and I might check them out! You definitely should pick it up again!


For some reason "Airlinair" which is a French regional airline, redirects to "Airkenya" which is apparently the national airline of Kenya.

illdave 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think what you've got is pretty cool, but you've got some extremely stiff competition from the likes of Hipmunk, and (as of yesterday) Google: google.com/flights.

I also worry that your unique selling point (the fact that it helps to display hard-to-find airports) is difficult to word in an appealing way - who wants to go to hard-to-find airports? I'm not saying it's impossible though, but I think you'd benefit from finding a good way to word that. Good luck!

rytis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hate 'me too' comments, but this is where I'll jump in - I think it's a great idea, and would have saved me a lot of browsing/googling. Especially useful when you go to less explored areas in Europe, say East Europe, that have unknown airports, unknown airlines.
Possibly two features to add on once the service is up:
- Search for connecting flights
- Have an option to select all airports within X miles.
cool-RR 3 days ago 1 reply      
You've just helped me simplify the itinerary for my upcoming vacation in December! Thanks!
brusch 3 days ago 1 reply      
I found one problem: when I'm searching in my location (Bregenz, Austria) the closest airports would be in Germany (Friedrichshafen or Memmingen) or Switzerland (Zürich, Altenrhein) - but it just shows me the Austrian airports (Innsbruck, Salzburg) altough they are far further away. Otherwise a nice idea.
jonpaul 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really love the idea. But it couldn't find any routes between OMA and CUN. Is this for direct flights only?
davidw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty much completely off topic, but Bassano del Grappa was the first place I went in Italy the first time I came here. Beautiful town and a nice area, with the mountains to the north, and the plains of the Veneto to the south.
billpg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some feedback...

I told the site I wanted to go from Milton Keynes in England to Chattanooga TN. I selected the nearest airports to both (Luton and Lovell Fld) and it told me there were no routes.

Maybe if it would help out by automatically selecting different airports, gradually going farthur out from my selected points until it finds a hit, which in this case would be Gatwick or Heathrow to Atlanta.

Nicknameless 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm generally pretty optimistic but I feel that I should push back against the crowd a little here. Plenty of people say "I'd use it", but who will say "I'll pay for it"?

If you're not in it for the money, are you sure it's the most interesting, inspiring or needed tool/app you could be working on, given that it seems the competition may take care of this need anyway?

I've learnt the hard way that you shouldn't let sunk costs of a project sway your decision to carry on with it.

All the best whatever you decide.

chrislomax 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like it and I didn't find the interface at all confusing. For about 10 seconds I wondered what to do but picked it up

Like it overall, good project to say you have not completed it.

I'm always in a state of whether something is worth doing when someone as big as Google goes into the same sector but I think you are far enough along to make it a useful application.

I presume you monetize the application from airline referrals?

ckluis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hipmunk's visualization is pretty badass... BUT it's one airport to one airport.

If you could draw lines from each starting point to each ending point with a price range of the flights available then you are solving a different problem.

You are visualizing that the trip from Tampa to Hawaii could be much cheaper if I drove to Orlando. If that 2 hour drive saves me $500 per ticket then it might be worth it.

Just a thought.

ShaneOG 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely. I think it's a much needed service, particularly within Europe.
darkxanthos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly you're asking the wrong people. Figure out who your market is and go ask them. That's really hard. I still suck at it nut I'm convinced it's the only way you'll really be successful.
deleo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good one! Like the idea. The UI needs some hard thinking but for a prototype it's very good. If you had a vision to actually make this happen and include all other transport options I think you wouldn't have too much trouble finding someone to throw money your way.
dsulli 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely a cool idea. The best way to fly from Manila to China is on Cebu Pacific. No flight search in the world will tell you that, because Cebu Pacific is a local budget carrier and just advertises locally.
urza 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, this is exactly how I start my search for travel flight - get to know what airlines are flying from one city to another.. this tool would simplify such search a lot! Go for it, make it cool! :)
raivo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks really good for alpha. I like the simple layout.
Being able to visualize the location I'm going from and to and the nearby airports is pretty neat. I haven't seen the competition but this is something I'd use when I travel.
dorn 3 days ago 1 reply      
It determined that I was in Ireland, presented a list of irish airports and will only let me choose them as source and destination. What if i want to fly to or from another country, which in such a small country is far more likely?
joshu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Where do you get the data?
joaovrb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love the idea. Would definitely use it!
pokethat 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is very nice, slick UI.
Ask HN: What % of your job interviewees pass FizzBuzz type questions?
45 points by tomx  1 day ago   108 comments top 27
patio11 22 hours ago 0 replies      
For folks who doubt the numbers people are quoting here: remember, if half the pool can't program to save their lives, guess which half of the pool will still be sending out job applications next week.

At a previous company where, for cultural reasons, lack of programming skill was not a barrier to being hired as a software engineer, approximately half of our software engineers could FizzBuzz. Of our outsourced coders, I'd put the number at one of the twenty I knew, and he would need extensive coaching to make it happen.

Some of these folks were at least moderately productive at tasks which you and I do every day which theoretically happen in an IDE but do not require much abstract thinking, such as changing labels on UI elements, adding new columns to tables (by copy/pasting a line which worked and tweaking it until output matched expectations), and the like.

pixeloution 23 hours ago 4 replies      
Just curious if you expect perfect code on a sheet of paper or give them an IDE and say go for it.

As I remember fizzbuzz (print numbers 1 thru x, then fizz if divisible by 3, buzz if divisible by 5, fizzbuzz if divisible by both)

I did it in a text editor in under a minute. Got two errors because I did it without thinking, fixed it, and had a working solution in 90 seconds. It's taking me longer to write this response.

I can't imagine anyone who writes code daily who couldn't get this right in under 5 minutes given a text editor and a way to run the code, but I could imagine plenty of people who trying to do it on a sheet of paper who would make goofs. And most of those would make good employees.

ericb 23 hours ago 3 replies      
In the actual interview, I find that most give up after spitting out some pseudocode. About 40% have reasonable psuedo code that makes me think they'd get there (but these half-answers don't give me enough confidence to give them a thumbs up).

Actual code that works (and running it from a terminal), we are seeing only about 15% tops maybe lower.

We have started sending a fizzbuzz-ish question, a relatively easy css question, and a word-problem about performance as pre-interview questions through recruiters. This has dropped our resume inflow dramatically and saved a lot of time, but that's depressing in a way.

We are looking for a Rails or PHP dev in waltham (near boston) currently without a lot of luck. The job has a lot of pros, but probably doesn't do itself justice on-paper.

buro9 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that the lower the percentage, the more you need to improve your screening prior to getting the candidate in. It's just wasting your time and theirs.

I would love to say that you can tell from a CV whether or not they could pass FizzBuzz, but it's not true. I've interviewed MScs and PhDs that could not do FizzBuzz. Seriously.

The phone screener is your friend.

corin_ 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone explain how it is possible for people applying for these jobs to fail?

I dabble in code, but am no where near the level I would have to be to do any job in this area, I mean seriously. Took my two minutes to do it with a pen and paper in PHP, same with in JS, same in bash scripting.

How can anyone who isn't able to do this pretend to even have an interest, yet alone the ability to do the job?

elliottcarlson 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I have used various interview questions, including FizzBuzz, factorials and other questions, and I would say the success rate I saw was about 20%. My personal favorite question is to have someone write a shuffle function without using any built in randomization functions - however most people give up, and others can't follow simple directions and wrap their head around the problem. This particular question had more of a 5 to 10% success rate.
ajuc 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I have question to recruiters:

if job requires "Hibernate" and I've used hibernate in my previous job, but have never configured it from scratch, only tweaked some models, wrote some EJBQL queries - does this count as "knowing Hibernate"? I've also never used Hibernate annotations, becasue we use hbm files, and we have templates to make the, so I'd have problems writing such file from scratch.

Do you check knowledge of required libraries on the blackboard? Do you assume people should know all the corners of such libraries, or do knowing some things and wanting to learn more if it will be needed suffices?

I use at work jboss, hibernate, jbpm, and many other technologies that are often mentioned in job offers, but I don't feel I can say I know them - only the parts that I needed to do the job. Is this considered not enough?

DrJokepu 22 hours ago 0 replies      
In my experience, about one in five (20%) people I get to interview can solve basic programming problems on a whiteboard (in their language of choice). It's really depressing.
cantastoria 23 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm curious what candidates are getting stuck on. Is it the testing for divisibility that's tripping them up?
aplusbi 22 hours ago  replies      
I've never asked FizzBuzz but I do regularly ask coding/algorithm questions. They are usually more difficult than FizzBuzz. I'd say around 80-90% can at least come up with a solution in 45 minutes with some help. Probably less than 10% can come up with a good solution entirely on their own.

I attribute this to two things, first I think our phone screenings work well enough to keep out people who really can't do FizzBuzz, and second that I'm fairly generous during interviews. I often don't expect real code, sometimes I'm satisfied with just a discussion of the algorithm (no white board coding at all). I don't expect code to compile and I even let candidates use undefined "helper" functions (although I usually only allow that if I get the feeling that they could implement them if asked).

* For those that are curious I have two favorite questions - print out all the permutations of a given (ASCII) string and describe a search algorithm for a sorted array that has been split in two and the two pieces have been swapped (i.e. - 4,5,6,7,8,1,2,3).

lrm242 23 hours ago 0 replies      
How are you asking the questions? Good interviewers try to adapt to the person they are interviewing. Depending on how you're asking the programming question, you might want to think about changing it. If, for example, you sit back in your chair and ask someone to go to a whiteboard to write code you should consider that some people simply are not going to respond to that sort of method of answering, even if they are a brilliant programmer.
albedoa 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This post by Jeff Atwood might be of interest to you if you haven't read it:


eftpotrm 23 hours ago 1 reply      
That sort of thing specifically, never actually tested it.

The last test I did help administer was for a VB+SQL job, and the first question was to write an example of a valid INNER JOIN. I'd say at maximum 25% of the candidates could do this.

Improving SNR? I did once have a potential employer get me to do a time-limited online test. If you wanted you could always stick your questions into one of them, so you can at least do the fizzbuzz-level screening without calling them in and sitting them down.

spamizbad 22 hours ago 2 replies      
4 candidates, 2 passed FizzBuzz. Oddly, the two that failed had a Masters in CS (albeit no BS in CS).

Of those that passed: one had Masters in Library Science looking to change careers. The other was a fresh out of college CS major from Illinois State.

Next batch, I think we'll add another trivial question: count the number of vowels (a, e, i, o, u) in a string.

chollida1 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've actually asked this question as a gentle warm up for people, and we achieve around a 90% success rate.

On average it takes people around 5 minutes to do.

We have people do it on a whiteboard to get them standing up and moving.

ColinWright 22 hours ago 0 replies      
We now insist on resumes being accompanied by the answers to set "homework." No answers, no interview.

We get about half our interviewees unable to solve problems that are similar or easier during interview. Whether that's nerves/stress or simply an indication that they got someone else to do the homework for them we don't know.

One candidate even phoned a friend during the coding part of the interview to get some answers. For some jobs he'd be hired, but not for most.

acangiano 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I mostly interview students for hands-on internships. I'd say around 10-20%.
wpeterson 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The percentage of people who can complete a basic coding challenge during interview is more a testament to your phone screening than to the population of candidates.

If you're not weeding out these people with a 10-15 minute phone call you'll waste a lot of your and their time.

minikomi 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow.. This is pretty astonishing. I know this is a majorly skewed, opinionated audience, but do people really not have that much of an interest in what they do?
hga 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The last time I was a part of this activity in a company (1997-8), using similarly rigorous pre-screening, we had about the same results, only 50% of the people we interviewed could program their way out of an (EDIT) wet paper bag.
schulz 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I did a ton of interviewing a few years ago ~ 100 interviews.

I found about 10% nailed it right away with code that would compile and run. These were generally people who had been coding a lot recently.

Half of the rest (say 45% of total) got close: Minor syntax errors, logic errors, stuff that an IDE/non interview situation would have fixed.

45% just spaced. Couldn't right the for loops, conditionals. Couldn't write basic code.

mattdeboard 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish we would run at least some kind of sample problem before hiring people. sigh
davewasthere 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Of people who get to the interview stage, I'd say around %75 at least successfully do the FizzBuzz question on our test.

But we've cherry picked the CVs a little. And probably only interviewed 50 people over the past couple of years. (And hired 5)

mikereedell 22 hours ago 6 replies      
While we don't ask FizzBuzz in particular we have a question my manager asks: If you could fold a piece of paper 50 times, how tall would it be (very rough ballpark figure)?

Our success rate is surprisingly low.

gabyar 22 hours ago 0 replies      
About 80%. Perhaps we're more vigorous with resume screening. Over the last 4 years of interviewing, I've become very good at resume screening.
sungura 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I program a fair bit, have a few Android Apps in the market the problem I see with these type of tests is that I have a very hard time remembering syntax and would therefore have a hard time without an IDE.
EponymousCoward 23 hours ago 0 replies      
10-20% (pathetic really)
Show HN: My midweek project - karmurl
19 points by lancashire  2 days ago   15 comments top 12
ashleyw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love the idea, though: 1) email me when new feedback is received, 2) let me reply to people's feedback, and 3) preferably don't show me sites I've skipped, and definitely don't show me sites I've already given feedback to.

Good work!

freshlog 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm addicted to this, actually finished giving feedback to all 12 sites for review.

Although I've already given feedback within the app, I'll just repeat myself here.

1. It would be great to able to continue a conversation with the person who has given you feedback, right now, you just see the feedback given to you.

2. I think it's important to get to know the person giving you feedback because from there you'll be able to tell whether he is the right type of user for your app.

patd 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://feedbackroulette.com already does something very similar.
mcrittenden 1 day ago 1 reply      
You might want to consider not showing a user a site that he/she has already reviewed (i.e., don't let me review the same site twice).

Great idea and nice simple execution, just reviewed a few sites!

illdave 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great - really good idea, thanks for making it.

Not sure if it's just me, but it doesn't display the full page when showing me someones site to review - it shows the top third and then just grey space (using the latest version of Chrome on a Mac).

jump 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Love your site! I've already gotten back so much useful feedback, thank you! I agree with freshlog, it would be great to converse with the person who has given the feedback.
saurabh 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems perfect. It's small, usable and looks good. It would definitely would be useful for startups.
iaskwhy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Small request: a favicon!

I really like this idea, would use it a lot on the upcoming days.

revorad 2 days ago 1 reply      
What a delightfully simple and useful app. I could use this all day long.

Thanks for making this.

Edit: I keep getting the test site asking me to skip. Maybe you should remove it?

Jasber 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd e-mail users when new review is added. This way users know when to come back to the site and will make it more engaging.
drdoooom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderful little app. I would actually spend some time going through it if I wasn't at work. Speaking of which, is there any process put in place to filter the sites people input?
mapster 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could you put 'how this site works' on the side, so I don't have to click on anything to get this info?
Ask HN: I was asked to leave my job and now I want to work in the US. Advice?
5 points by greenie  1 day ago   4 comments top 3
0x12 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should put up a portfolio of the stuff you've done and apply to a start-up that's already funded for the quickest route to what you want.

Any other path, including funding your own start-up is possible, but harder because you are now out of a job so your runway is very limited.

Every now and then YC funded companies will list jobs, right now on the http://news.ycombinator.com/jobs page there are 7 jobs listed, some of which might fit you well.

brackin 23 hours ago 1 reply      
If you want to work at one of the best startups you have to do more than apply. You should try and pick a strategic place, such as the valley or NYC and attend lots of events there and visit startups. When asked what you're working on you could say just finished working at bla, hacking on this in my spare time but looking to work out here.

So that you're not asking for a job but are signalling that you'd be interested in one. I know people with limited experience being offered jobs at great companies just from these meetings and if they know who you are you've immediately got a far higher chance of getting it.

Luckily it's a good time to apply as there's more of a developer shortage than job shortage in tech. If you're savvy then it's not hard at all. Showing things you've hacked together or a portfolio is more important than ever.

All of this seems like a lot more effort than the normal sending out resumes but it's much better. Also I don't recommend cold calling. Start using Twitter more, follow the founders or people within these startups on Twitter and join in with their conversation, show that you're a meaningful, savvy person. Then you can say "I'm going to be in the Valley, think I could swing by and see what you're working on".

dirkdeman 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Do take notice that you can't just come to the US and work there. Your employer-to-be has to arrange a H-1B visa for you. This can be a drawback, albeit not a big one.
Ask PG: What has changed since you wrote Hackers and Painters in 2004?
233 points by flavio87  6 days ago   85 comments top 12
pg 6 days ago  replies      
I just looked through a copy. There's not much I'd change if I were writing those essays today. Obviously e.g. "A Plan for Spam" is obsolete in the sense that the state of the art has moved way past such techniques. Ditto for "The other Road Ahead." But the rest I'd write much the same today.
m0nastic 6 days ago 5 replies      
As way of a cautious recommendation:

About a year and a half ago, I was stuck for a week away from home traveling for work. Searching for something to read while I was gone, I popped into an Atlanta Barnes and Noble and futilely tried to find some books which were on my Amazon wish list. Of the five or six I looked for, they didn't seem to have any, save for "Hackers and Painters" (which required a storewide manhunt to track down where exactly they had decided to shelve it).

I read it in my hotel room that night and spent the rest of the week enthralled by the thought of quitting my job and working at a startup (either my own, or someone else's). When I got home, I told my girlfriend that I was possibly in the middle of something, and would need to take the next few weeks to decide if I was about to upend my (our) life. She was understandably nonplussed by this discussion.

Fast-forward a few weeks and I managed to come back down from the ledge. It may have just been the comfort of home, or the general inertia of a content over-priviledged life; but I reverted back to my previous plans, and set aside the fanciful notion of slaying dragons and working at a startup.

So by all means, you should read it. Just be careful about your mindset when you do, lest you also be swept away by notions of ramen dinners and liquidity events. Like a call to the sea, it has the potential to plant itself in your mind and than drive you mad if unheeded. You've been warned.

pushingbits 6 days ago 3 replies      

Probably worth linking to here.

While I enjoy pg's writing and I think the essays convey a good message in spirit, I do think there's quite a substantial populist aspect to some of them.

I'm glad I read all of them, but if I had to choose, I'd probably get On Lisp in deadtree format first.

byrneseyeview 6 days ago 0 replies      
I just reread a bunch of the essays. There is very little that needs updating (and later essays address this).

I get the sense that PG wrote the essays and that book so they could be read many years in the future. Call it a decade for the timely ones, and much more than that for the rest. A few of the updates would be along the lines of "This needs to change from the future tense." For example, this brief review of the iPhone from 2001:

With Web-based software, most users won't have to think about anything except the applications they use. All the messy, changing stuff will be sitting on a server somewhere, maintained by the kind of people who are good at that kind of thing. And so you won't ordinarily need a computer, per se, to use software. All you'll need will be something with a keyboard, a screen, and a Web browser. Maybe it will have wireless Internet access. Maybe it will also be your cell phone. Whatever it is, it will be consumer electronics: something that costs about $200, and that people choose mostly based on how the case looks. You'll pay more for Internet services than you do for the hardware, just as you do now with telephones.

InfinityX0 6 days ago 0 replies      
I put together this 76-point summary of Hackers and Painters on my blog: http://www.rosshudgens.com/thoughts-from-paul-graham/
gabrielroth 6 days ago 0 replies      
The idea from the book that seems most obsolete to me is that a web startup founder could gain a competitive advantage by using Lisp. (Not that a Lisp might not be the best choice, but your competitors are more likely to be using it too, and if they're not they're using something much closer than they were in 2004.)
SwellJoe 6 days ago 0 replies      
I still recommend it and lend it to friends. It's mostly made up of essays from his website, so if you want to avoid spending money, you can get most of the book from simply reading the essays on his site. The age of the essays is not a good reason not to read them, however.
phamilton 6 days ago 1 reply      
For those who don't know, Hackers and Painters is essentially a collection of his essays on paulgraham.com

The essays are great, read them.

Jun8 6 days ago 0 replies      
This book was an epiphany for me! A colleague lended it to me, I started because the title sounded interesting, but I was thinking "here's another cocky all-knowing hacker type giving out cool advice". Boy, was I wrong. I first read the title essay and the truth of it struck me so much I took the day off (not literally, just hid somewhere where I coulnt be found) and finished the whole thing. That was almost three years ago. I've given quite a number of copies as presents and observed similar reactions. I go back and reread parts of the essays every now and then.

A good/bad analogy is a good book (or the good book), most of the advice has very long shelf life.

I created my HN account soon afterwards and applied for YC that winter (rejected). I haven't done much in all this time, though. Books can carry you only so far.

dreamux 6 days ago 1 reply      
I read it a few months back, it's still a good read. PG's blog posts aren't easily dated, as you'll often see posts from 5 years ago linked here on HN.
mathattack 6 days ago 0 replies      
Technology predictions are very tough. (Look at The Road Ahead - missed the Internet ahead) Anything that survived 7 years should be considered a gem that's beyond technology and more about the humanities. (I mean this in the sense of being non-formulaic)
Ask HN: I am wasting so much of time, what can I do?
175 points by ahmedaly  5 days ago   79 comments top 47
cletus 5 days ago 3 replies      
The first question I need to put out there is: are you bored or simply burnt out? This can often masquerade as an inability to concentrate. Fact is, if you like what you do it's a lot easier to just do it.

That being said, many (most?) people benefit (or even need) a relatively distraction-free environment. This means no TV near your computer (particularly relevant if you work from home), stopping distractions from other people and can go so far as cutting yourself off from HN and other prime sources of distraction (there are various programs, plugins and extensions for this kind of thing).

As for distractions from other people, this can take many forms. If you work from home, it means saying that certain time blocks are for work and you're not to be disturbed. It's easy for other people to fall into a pattern where they'll ask you for stuff or to do stuff simply because you're there.

In my case I can't stand people walking around me, particularly behind me. I position my monitors such that I don't really see people walking by and, where possible, position my desk such that no one walks behind me. If that's not possible, I at least ensure I don't have a thoroughfare behind me.

Other people can distract you by asking things they could easily find out themselves. Joel Spolsky talked about this [1] as a reason for giving engineers private offices. It's too easy to ask a colleague "where is X?" when you could find it in 30 seconds thus crashing them out of "the zone".

Headphones help a lot here. Some people are distracted by music. Many will argue they're not. Testing indicates otherwise [2]. Still I find the right music with its distractions, at least for me, tends to trump the distractions of other people so it's still a win. People tend to bother you less when you're wearing headphones (it's a psychological barrier).

There's also a certain "fake it til you make it" aspect here too, which is another way of saying that your inability to focus is the sum of many behaviours. You probably have many bad habits and you need to change them one at a time. Blocking distractions like HN, reddit, etc is one way of doing this.

Another is, well, just grinning and bearing it. This can take you far but could lead to burnout. Part of this is attitude though. If you're stuck doing something uninteresting (or simply an uninteresting phase of something otherwise interesting) finding little challenges and measurable milestones in that can go a long way.

[1]: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html

[2]: http://www.quora.com/Does-listening-to-music-while-programmi...

endymi0n 5 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, so this is gonna be a bit longer, but bear with me, because I think reading this might help you.

I've been exactly where you've been. AND I did almost all the things that people here suggest. Thought I had ADHD and took Ritalin. Thought I had a depression and took Prozac (both of which I definitely cannot recommend, as they screwed badly with my short term memory).

I've tried gazillions of plugins, "hacks", to-do lists and the like, only to see that if you're smart (I assume you are because you're posting here), your subconcious is only smarter. If there's one universal truth I got out of these, it's: You can't shit yourself.

I've personally read Getting Things Done, The Now Habit, Eat That Frog and consumed lots more of self-help from some of the distinguished authors there are, including Tony Robbins, David Allen, Steven Covey, Brian Tracy, Keith Ferrazzi, Leo Babauta etc. (just to name a few).

I can honestly say that all of those books gave me something, some pushed me over the edge for a week, but then I slipped back into procrastination and self-pity. So here's the deal: For some of us, it's just much harder to stay focused on our goals and dreams. All that can and will change, but only with the right leverage, and your missing piece of the puzzle might be a different one that someone else needs. Anyway, I'll be listing the things from all those excellent books above that helped me most (repeating some of the excellent suggestions here), and finishing with my personal missing piece, that I only received a few weeks ago.

So what helps?

- Get rid of your TV if you have it. Completely. That's really just a senseless time-sucker and you won't miss it within a week.

- Babysteps, babysteps, babysteps. Taken from today's Hacker News: "I can not emphasize how important baby steps are. They are the key to avoiding fatal frustration. I have a law that helps define the size of subtasks: DO NOT EVER LEAVE THE COMPUTER IF YOUR PROGRAM DOES NOT RUN." http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2011/09/11/video-game-progr...

- Fighting your urge to "procrastinate" all day long leads to lots of decision fatigue that will make everything just worse: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-fro... . The best way around this is to create habits, as they will get you on autopilot through difficult procrastination situations within a month. Some great thoughts on this from Leo Babauta: http://zenhabits.net/will/
My personal take on this: The key is starting out VERY slow (one habit a month at the most) and keeping your expectations really low. The habit itself needs to survive through all times and is more important than the actual outcome. Example from me: I do exercises right before showering, but the least I do is 5 pushups. That sounds like nothing, and actually it isn't but I do them no matter what - drunk, late, sad, happy. Habits will eventually carry you through everything, but you just stick to them. Suggestions for you: Not reading e-mail after or before a certain time, turning of the computer completely at a certain time. Stuff like that.

- Building on that, affirmations and meditation are extremely powerful as a habit too. I've written an article on this if you're interested: http://www.growinup.org/?p=5

- Gym and sports definitely helps your willpower, as long as you don't discover another way of procrastination in there. It can happen ;-)

- Knowing what you really want. Maybe you know already (I certainly did), but you're too scared and unfocused to really take action.
If you're too scared, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk0hSeQ5s_k
If you're too unfocused, read this: http://focusmanifesto.com/
Anyway, know what you wanna do and where you're going.

- All these things helped me in a way, but the final piece for me comes here as promised. I've had a huge fight with my wife for all kinds of reasons related to my procrastination, and she told me something I've never forgot. I've distilled the essence of what she told me on a paper and I read it every night. Here it is, for you all to read:

"Every time I pray, I feel you falling down this black hole, but I cannot help you. Only YOU can do it. No amount of reading or games or [insert your timesucker here] can fill that emptiness inside of you. So don't do stuff out of an impulse. Do it conciously. Whatever you do, choose to do it and accept the consequences. Don't be guilty about anything anymore - just accept that you made your choice and be responsible. There's no need to lie to yourself. It's just ok. Live, breathe, be gentle. There is one and one way only out of the frustration, anger and depression: Accept your choices. Love yourself. Leave the guild behind and FOLLOW YOUR HEART".

Since then I've been living by it and haven't gone back to bad. Truth is, I HAVE been reading Hacker News and playing a round since then. But I chose to do it because I felt like it. I didn't hide it, I didn't feel guilty about it. Taking responsibility for every single thing that you do sounds harsh, but it helps you grow enormously. Think of it: That way you also reap full honor and appreciation for everything you do. So next time you feel that urge, just do the following: Think about what you're about to do. What will it lead to? Will you accept that outcome and take full responsibility? And then just do it - or not. It works the same way if you're already in the middle of that procrastination mess. The second you see you made an unconcious choice, make a concious one instead. Will you continue - or stop and do something worth it?

I told you it's gonna be a pretty long post. So you finally arrived here, congratulations. You already took the time to read it - now take the time to do it, and you won't fail anymore. Promise.



acangiano 5 days ago 8 replies      
Consider the following three steps:

1) Pomodoro Technique. Aim for something like 14-18 pomodori per day. (Assuming 25 minutes per pomodoro.) If you do the math you may think "oh that's not much" but you'll be exhausted by the end of it.

2) Install Rescuetime and religiously use it to track how your time is spent during the weekday. Use their "Stay focused" function when you are sprinting on a pomodoro.

3) Get a second device, like a tablet, which you use for surfing, reading, and leisure. Your laptop is no longer for that. It's exclusively for producing and for serious work.

nosse 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been struggling with my studies for years. I was supposed to graduate as civil engineer.

Now I'm finally getting better, but it took several things:

1. Baby steps. Spring 2010 was the first time that I understood that taking less courses means that I have more energy per course. So I started with one, then two, then three. Now I have five ongoing courses at the same time, and I don't (quite) feel overwhelmed. My studies progressed last year at modest speed that is about 1/3 of the speed usually recommended, but my grades improved significantly.

2. Seeing psychologist. She told me about the benefits of taking it easy at first. And my friends didn't have to listen to all of my troubles.

3. Doing something really interesting. I switched to mechanics. I'm particularly into product development. I really don't seem to mind a single course that is not so interesting if it gets me closer my goal (this was actually a big surprise to me).

4. No TV. But movies with friends is a big YES.

5. Getting good IRL friends. I don't feel the need to IRC anymore.

6. Clear shift between work and leisure. If I walk 800 meters to school and spend there 8 hours I can count that I get something done. I might check HN few times, but I just cannot browse the Internet for the whole day.

7. Might seem counterintuitive, but no work on Sundays. Jews we're right. Having at least one day a week when you just don't do anything productive can boost your productivity a lot. And it surprisingly helps to actually have really good time when you're not working, you might think that it drains your energy, but it doesn't.

8. I don't really know if it truly helps or not. But I often think about what I want in life, and how I'm going to get there fastest.

9. For some reason, it seems that getting older helps a little. Maybe it's because you get a stronger feeling about wasting your life.

10. There is no word "should". You either do, or you don't. Sometimes you might do something. Some stuff you haven't yet started, but it's stuff you're going to do, not something that you should do.

11. & 12. Make starting easy for yourself and plan what you're doing. I find it easiest to start by planning. So I plan what I do today and I actually start doing it tomorrow. Planning what I'm going to study tomorrow takes like 30min so it's not a biggie. I feel like I have started so it's easy to continue. And I get sense of control of what I do. Planning counts as doing!

13. Don't ever plan to grind through everything at one go. Those 14 hour work days are going to ruin your motivation to the next job.

14. Get a calendar and a clock. Use them. Then get completely rid of them when you have a day off.

Everything here actually just boils down to three things. Remember to have free time and make it good and remember to plan really well what you're doing.

georgieporgie 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'll repeat what I said the last time this came up: consider that it may be depression. Depression can cause ADHD-like symptoms. It can creep up on you slowly, so you don't even realize you've become depressed. And it can be very, very hard to get out of on your own.

Aside from that, the Pomodoro technique helps me quite a lot. Not only do the 25-minute stretches provide a clear, definite period of focus, getting yourself to think about tasks in 25 minute chunks forces you to more deeply plan how you'll spend your time. Often, we don't get started on tasks because we feel overwhelmed, because we don't have an actual plan or scope. As a side benefit, I'm seeing my time estimation skills getting better as I work on this.

janjan 5 days ago 0 replies      
In a first step you really have to find out _why_ you are wasting time!

I thought for a long time that I am kind of addicted to the internet and that this is the reason I am wasting a lot of time there. Over the years I tried a lot of stuff to cut down consumption but nothing really worked.

What finally helped was the realization that the excessive internet usage is really just a sympton of more underlying problems and not the problem itself . (For example if there is no internet, I use books instead):

I use (and still use) the internet as a way to flee from reality and all its associated problems. Especially at work when I have a difficult project I automatically open the browser to hide from all the problems which comes from the project.

So in order to get to work I have to make a list of smaller task I have to do for this project and then start with the one which is the easiest one because this reduces the likelihood that I distract myself.

Some more infos on my specific situation:


oozcitak 5 days ago 0 replies      
Change your work environment if you can. I lately started working one or two days a week at a friend's office. It worked wonders for me. I have a lot less distractions this way. First of I have no coworkers there. And second, clients call me less, only if it is really important. I suspect this is because they actually need to look up a number to reach me, and that cuts down a lot of noise.
Estragon 5 days ago 0 replies      
1) Sit down in front of your work

2) When you feel like stepping away from your work (which may be immediately), attend to the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations you are experiencing at that moment.

3) Report your findings here.

angdis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Procrastination and not getting work done can be caused MANY different things. There is no way that a few sentences exchanged with strangers will crack this problem.

You have to find the root cause of your problem in your own way. For some that means seeing a counselor or talking to a loved one or mentor who understands you.

pointyhat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of people say "read this", "read that", "following this technique". That's just attaching yourself to the problem in a stronger way.

I say take a holiday somewhere nice and peaceful without a computer or book in sight. Just sit and think. Let the noise in the mind pass.

dageshi 5 days ago 3 replies      
Go Start->Run type in notepad and press enter (or equivalent on your platform)

* begin bullet pointed list

       -break down steps to achieve each bullet point

-some could be as simple as "google xyz"

As dumb as it seems this switches your mind from "meander mode" as I call it to "focus on work mode".

saadmalik01 5 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of great tips here. I'd also suggest taking the time out to talk to your doctor. I was in a similar position as you -- my productivity fell immensely within the last two years. After speaking with my doctor, I was diagnosed with a minor form of ADHD. Now that I'm on some light meds (20mg Ritalin), I feel I can focus better and get more out of my time.
noinput 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's my newest workflow which hasn't totally solved the problem yet substantially helps.

Each morning I wake up, do the dad thing, have a bowl of cereal (food is important) and try my hardest to sort my email on the laptop/phone before heading into my office. Inbox zero is something to be proud of when you can keep it up. When I say sort my day, i mean not only email but take the bigger tasks of the day and block them into my schedule around phone calls, lunch and all. This gives me a clear overview of ONLY what im concerned of for one day, and is very liberating when you've got more than 3-4 things on your plate at any given time.

I start my day by leaving my calendar up on my laptop/device on my desk and focus in 1.5hr chunks on projects at a time. If I have to bump something I will, but try my hardest to stay super focused for that block of time. This means I do not send email from my work machine while in that 1.5hr block (productivity move) nor do I pick up the phone. Voicemail is there for a reason and i can send from my laptop on the side quickly if it's important but code/work stays visible all the time to help me get back into it quicker.

5-10 mins before that 1.5 hr block is over (changes daily of course) I notate where im at and stop working. That's a hard thing when you're on a roll, but it's key to feeling better about focusing. Spend 15 mins to get caught up on email or anything I missed and the last 15 to get up, get a drink, walk outside, etc.

I'm a week into this new routine and it's helped a lot. I stil have the fatigue of having too much with not enough time, but teamed with a whiteboard for the macro level, I really enjoy the day-by-day structure and feel much more accomplished by dinner.

nomdeplume 5 days ago 0 replies      
1) Force yourself into a position where doing your work will seem better than the alternative. Since you are at home, it is automatic for you to surf the internet. If you were working some part-time job where the other alternative would be to chit chat with the 30 year old ladies about their ex-husband, you would naturally adapt and find a way to do something more interesting to you (your work?)

2) Try using a program like VitaminR, http://www.publicspace.net/Vitamin-R/
which acts as a timer to keep you focused. You might find that working becomes a sort of game, and you will be less tempted to abort your work because you can see that you only have 5 min to go.

HSO 5 days ago 0 replies      
While every situation is different, I have some issues with my work style and concentration/focus too. Now I'm 2 weeks into an 8-week meditation program and starting to feel its effect. Without more information and expertise, I think this is a pretty safe bet for you.

Here are some links:



some counterarguments: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/27/health/research/27budd.htm...

I am using (the first few chapters of) "Full Catastrophe Living" with the tapes.

Bon courage!

Deadsunrise 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you do it, stop masturbating and watching porn, it fucks with your head and self discipline. Check http://yourbrainonporn.com and http://www.reddit.com/r/nofap for more info.
stephth 5 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of good comments I think, but before considering all those options, I think the first thing you should try is to push yourself in the "zone" [1]. To me entering the zone can be hard sometimes - my brain is inventing all sorts of distractions, why it does that is still a mystery to me since I love my job - but it's not that hard: I just need to force myself to get in the zone, and I do that by ignoring my desires and by getting started with my tasks. Once I get started, very quickly I'm in the zone, and it's quite easy, natural and mostly enjoyable to stay inside the zone, as long as I avoid interruptions (short breaks every hour or so are good, as long as they are mental rest, like lying down and/or watching the clouds, short breaks are not a good time to read hacker news).

If this fails for you, then it could be a multitude of reasons, and you should consider some of the options recommended here (maybe change your job?).


indrora 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's a few ways I combat this:

* Multiple desktops, each with ONE purpose. Alpha does email (in mutt over ssh) while Beta does web browsing, Delta gives me an IDE and Gamma gives system info.

* My email and my browsing are seperated. This lets me focus on email, then on browsing. Since I do a lot of web development, I run two browsers, Firefox for my normal everyday stuff and Chrome for my development.

* I use a little time-tracker. Teatimers and other such things are great for this. Since I use XFCE a lot of my development machines, I use the "Timer" plugin. The activities I dont want to do for long call 'xscreensaver-command --lock'. It forces me to get up.

* I regularly stand up, walk around, get my mind some more oxygen.

* I keep a todo list in Tomboy. + items are done, - items aren't, ? items are 'do I need to do this today'.

* When on Windows, I use The Guide on a flash drive to do my todo lists. I also keep track of time with a buzzer timer.

* I listen to music which lasts 5 minutes at a time (often chiptunes) which keeps me on task. This is a personal preference.

Your best bet is to sit down, allot yourself X minutes to chekcing email, Y Minutes to check news and the rest is 'work' time. If you start dwadling off on other things, stand up, take a break and just get back to what you have to do.

happyfeet 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used to feel the same way, earlier when I was in a cushy job, waiting to get into my own startup. And I used to search for ways to avoid procrastination, wasting time etc.,

Then I just decided to quit! And got into my own startup. Boy!!! Now I am not finding time to do anything that does not help my goal of building a company ground up. I can see through my own eyes that it is just lack of a passionate goal and a worthy cause that has just tricked my mind into surfing & wasting time on internet.

So, my suggestion for you would be to take up a goal worthy of you. If you want to continue in the same job revisit your goal and one that is extremely challenging as if you are running your own company and not working for another one. Good luck!

Hyena 5 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of comments, but I didn't notice any questions. It would be ineffective to prescribe a solution based on what is said because there is not much information. All the proposals here seem to be for a problem diagnosed in the commenter.

Where do you work? (industry, firm size, position, geographic location, etc.)

What are your coworkers like? Do you enjoy being around them?

Has the problem come up lately or has this been ongoing? Did it start with a current project? Office organization? For as long as you remember in your life?

What are the consequences going forward? What have they been in the past?

How old are you?

antoinevg 5 days ago 3 replies      
It's counterintuitive but try reducing the amount of work you take on until you start seeing a reduction in the amount of time you spend procrastinating.
gte910h 5 days ago 0 replies      
Think about an emergency vacation. Will fix things to just get away from it, no internet connectivity, etc. I love short cruises for this.
Sindrome 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems that your issue is not that you are easily distracted or undisciplined, but you are lacking the drive to work. You should try thinking about what you are working for. Are you working to support your family? Build something that will change the world? If you don't have something to work for, then it's no surprise that you are not motivated.

If I'm wrong and you are just easily distracted, then consider getting rescue time. I used a similar iPhone app to condition myself to work for most of the day. After a few weeks I would feel not feel accomplished if I didn't see in my reporting that I worked for the allotted period that day.

amorphid 5 days ago 0 replies      
First, there is nothing wrong with you. I, and it sounds many in HN, have similar time management issues, and I choose to believe we all rock more than not.

Second, you've chosen a path that aggravates your seemingly short attention span. I was in a similar situation, working alone and producing very little. After much trial and error, including trying therapy, medication, and numerous self management techniques, hiring an assistant proved to be the simplest solution.

My assistant helps with everything not directly related to what I do to generate value. She schedules appointments, nags me, runs errands, and a wide variety of more complex things. It took some practice getting used to working with her, but my productivity shot through the roof my and more than covered the costs of paying her. The most important part is that she works right beside me, and I sublet a small office space for this reason.

My email is in my profile if you want more info.

nuiloa 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is probably the best thing I've read on the subject:


Not sure of the original source, but it's just a paragraph or so, easier than reading a whole book. Some discussion of it on reddit here: http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/h7cce/the_purpose...

nikcub 5 days ago 0 replies      
find a partner to work with. many people can't work on their own and need somebody to work with and spur on etc.

don't stress about it - happens to everybody

badclient 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is it a chronic problem or something more recent?

If you are thinking a lot and have unresolved issues in your mind, get a notepad and write out everything EXACTLY as your mind is thinking of them. You don't have to do any analysis just because you are writing. Keep writing until you have nothing else to write about. You should find yourself thinking a lot less about those unresolved issues now that you've taken inventory of them by writing.

firefoxman1 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is an amazing (short) book called "Self Discipline in 10 Days" helped me get over a few of those inevitable slumps/burnout periods and prevented them for the most part since then.

Here are a few ZenHabits articles that help too:

andreavaccari 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just stumbled upon this interesting article on HBR: How to become a great finisher.


Rather than thinking in terms of how much time you do or should work, set your objectives and make sure to finish what you started.

kurtm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Forgive the plug, but give my blog a visit. I've been using it to document my struggle with procrastination and perfectionism since the beginning of the year. The main reason I put it out there was so what I've learned could benefit someone else. Drop me a comment if you find any of it useful.
Here is the link: http://www.itneversleeps.net
orochimaru 5 days ago 0 replies      
You have to find new things that excite you. Maybe switching IDEs ? Working on Visual Studio all the time ? Try Notepad++. Working on windows all the time ? Try linux/mac.

Working on Classical OOP languages (c++, java) all the time ? Try prototypal oop languages like JS/Lua.

Working on too much higher level/web application stuff ? Delve into the linux kernel.

If none of these work, take a break. By break, I mean ABSOLUTELY no computers at all. NO BOOKS either. Go off to play some ping pong, go to a movie, or better - go someplace where you don't do ANYTHING for around 1 week except roaming and watching nature or any kind of beauty.

Maybe it's 1 week, maybe it's 2 - but if you really enjoy hacking - you will find yourself raring to get back to your PC and begin hacking away after this break.

gte910h 5 days ago 0 replies      
Read 2 books:

1.Getting things Done

2.The Now Habit

If it's just getting mired up in what to do, the first will help

If you have agreed to do silly things, the second one will.

ct 5 days ago 0 replies      
Before you go to sleep write down on a post it note ONE thing you want to get done and put it on your monitor. Tomorrow first thing work on that ONE thing and get it done. After a while add one more additional thing to have TWO things to get done tomorrow. And finally once you've mastered completing two things a day, add another for a max of THREE things. Good luck!
mattm 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was recently in the same position.

I was bored and not doing what I really wanted to do. I was suppressing my dreams and taking the safe (and boring) path.

toblender 4 days ago 0 replies      
Read the book "War of Art". What you are experiencing is "resistance".


stretchwithme 5 days ago 0 replies      
Create a new pattern to replace some of the patterns you want to change.

Changing an existing pattern is much harder than starting a new one. Strong associations in your brain link things together.

Creating new pathways may not be as easy as following old ones, but is more flexible. And it helps keep your brain young.

Mz 5 days ago 0 replies      
My standard answer for these type questions: Look to your health. Eat right, exercise, consider that you may have hidden health issues. Getting healthier has done a lot for my ability to focus, be productive and all that.

Best of luck.

ahmedaly 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey guys... thanks to all of you for these great tips..
I started to use http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ since yesterday, and it put me under pressure that I have a TO DO list, that I must finish on time.

I never used such an app before, which is very important to remind that you have something to do.

Luff 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've always had trouble finishing projects, no matter if it's for school, work or hobby. When I run out of interesting problems, I just stop caring.

The easiest way I'm able to finish things is by working with others. People I care about, and who in turn cares about getting the work done. I.e. caring by proxy. [1]

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

whichdan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Are you in a position to set better deadlines? If you know you can work X hours per day, try to schedule around that, rather than assuming you can suddenly work X + 2 hours per day.
dadads 5 days ago 0 replies      
It is possible that you either secretly don't like the work that you are doing, or that you secretly don't believe you are capable of completing the work.
lwat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Study Buddhism - you'll stop worrying about it.
Yxven 5 days ago 0 replies      
I downloaded the leechblock plugin for firefox to block certain websites during working hours. Now, whenever I load hacker news (or whatever) during working hours it forwards me to a failure motivational poster. It has actually helped me a lot.
adam_albrecht 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you're on a Mac, check out Self-Control. Great application.


schiptsov 5 days ago 0 replies      
$ sudo apt-get remove firefox chromium pidgin telepathy ekiga skype ^_^

update: the situation you describe indicates that you just don't like your job. You have no joy in doing what you're supposed to do. So, consider the possibility of changing your job to something you're really like and enjoy.

pknerd 5 days ago 0 replies      
Read EAT THAT FROG by Brain Tracy, it would surely change your life.
ivix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Try shifting your work hours. I find i get much more done late at night. It might not be healthy, but it works in a pinch.
Ask HN: Can I help you be more awesome today? (No strings. Inquire within.)
27 points by mikegreenberg  22 hours ago   66 comments top 20
pitdesi 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Mike - this is really awesome of you to do.
Current need: We're launching a payment gateway, called Samurai (http://feefighters.com/samurai) next week. Unlike other gateways (Authorize.net, Braintree, Cybersource, etc) is that it's modern (not clunky), super developer friendly, and cheap. Also other things, like you can route payments intelligently and it'll emulate other gateways. We have over 40 users in the beta- it is doing thousands of transactions per day successfully, and our beta customers love it.

We want to make the launch a success but don't have much planned other than an HN post. Ideas? (I'll drop you a line with a beta invite so you can see it too... anyone else who wants one can drop me a line to move up but please fill out this form beforehand https://docs.google.com/a/transfs.com/spreadsheet/viewform?f...)

We could use your help in thinking about how to gain customer traction... Any tips/thoughts you have would be useful and much appreciated.

mcrittenden 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I would appreciate any feedback on your idea for the direction to take my file hosting site http://fileslap.com. Sales have been slow (though lots of people are using the free account) and I've been considering trying to find a niche to target with it. Does any industry or space come to your mind that could benefit from a service like http://fileslap.com?
mrbonner 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi Mike,
In my career as a software engineer I've spent a lot of time with front-end technology. I admit not an artistic person but whenever I go I tend to be the guy who knows more about html,css,javascript than anybody else in the team. So I often end up coding the UI as well.
Not that I hate coding UI stuff but I think I am not an artistic person -> I can't be a great UI developer.
I'd like to hear from your opinion for reluctant UI developers out there.
rheide 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you. I am awesome enough.
Omnipresent 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I would like some insight into the design/look&feel of my site: http://citybee.heroku.com

I plan to change the deal page that currently looks like livingsocial. Also, I'd like some external thoughts on whether or not to pursue the daily deal site. We plan to give the deal for free, customer pays the merchant direclty, we charge the customer in the end a 15% of all total sales and we further commit to spend 50% of that 15% to sponsor an event at their location. This event will act as a promotional event where our site's users can come for free. This way we are further helping the businesses to build their brands.

adriand 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Hey Mike, thanks for the offer. I want to start selling more consulting services in addition to web development services at my company. I wrote a draft that describes those services today and I would love to have you review my draft and tell me how you would change it. This ought to take less than 10 minutes. If you're in, email me at adrianduyzer [at] gmail.
chetane07 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Mike, thank you for taking time to answer. I made a website (http://www.letschattr.com) which lets Facebook users anonymously chat with other random users wanting to connect. My question is how do I go about launching such a website, where I need a minimum amount of people simultaneously on it to work?
Random_Person 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Actually, I have a stupid question that I've been afraid to ask because... well... I dunno actually. I suppose because with a few minutes of Googling, I could figure it out. But, here goes anyways:

I'm actually in the market for becoming more awesome. I just sold my first Board/Card game to a publisher, and it's time for me to start working on my brand. What I need: a space on the internet.

I'm currently teaching myself HTML/CSS so I can code up a site. What I need, but haven't even started figuring out:

-what is my best option for registering my domain name? namecheap comes up a lot... I'd like whois obfuscation as I don't have an actual business location/phone.

-who should I register my DNS with? Do I buy this in a package when I register the domain?

-since I'm doing plain HTML, should I look at a host that offers basic web-hosting or a vps for future proofing? Who should I go with for hosting?

-I'm expecting a very small amount of traffic. Should I just go with a service that does all of this on the cheap?

It's almost crunch time for me to start doing press releases... so, I've been putting this lesson off until after I have a site coded. Thanks!

diolpah 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you for offering this valuable service. I was quite surprised to see this.

Do you have any suggestions for improving the customer experience on http://www.ties.com/ ?

civilian 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Could you do a code review of ~140 lines of python code?
civilianjones <at> gmail.com
(I've already submitted the code as part of a technical interview-- but if there are any mistakes or tough questions, I'd like to be ready to talk about them.)
revorad 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Mike, thanks very much for this kind offer, really appreciated.

Could you please have a quick play with my new site http://giniji.com? I would like you to answer a few simple questions:

  How fast/slow/responsive is the site for you?

Is it clear what it's for?

Would you recommend it to a friend?
If yes, why?
If not, why not?

Thanks a ton!

jawns 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Mike,

Would you mind giving a shout-out to Correlated (http://www.correlated.org) on your social networks?

jfsantos 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I think I have a little problem with focus. I've recently graduated, and I'm very interested in a lot of different areas. For some of them, the interest is because that area is fun, for others it is because it will look good on my resumé. It's not that I could not make a career based on the things that are fun, but sometimes it looks more risky.

The problem is that I oscillate my focus through all these areas. You can't exactly call it focus :) It is hard to develop further in one area or another.

Do you have any advice for me? Thanks!

CharlieA 22 hours ago 3 replies      
I'd be totally rapped if you could help me get some more people to come experience wicked beats with me at my new turntable.fm-like site: Vye VJ -- (http://vyemusic.com/vj/#/Astral-Hellcat/) -- or even if you just check it out yourself :)

Any feedback you have on the idea/design/execution would be incredibly helpful and greatly appreciated also.

HN Post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3004684

consultutah 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Could you suggest some ways to improve the first impression of http://testplanmanagement.com?
gdhillon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Mike, Could you please provide some feedback on our landing page (http://www.diglig.com). Mainly looking for advise on does our landing page explains the idea and what are your thoughts on the UI design look/fell. What would you suggest on improving it.


oppositionradio 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Can you share a few thoughts about trends that are coming macro or micro which we all should be watching both for disruption and opportunity? Within tech, broader socio-economic changes, global changes etc? To help us better "future proof" ourselves and our passions.
Macshot 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Could you tell us what you think about the concept behind NoBadGift.com (kickstarter for gifts and events) and flaws you can see in our approach. Also any suggestions for our home page to draw in users. Thanks a lot
brianbreslin 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome. Was just talking to mike about this last night over beers.
Hisoka 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Do you think almost everything about modern society is unfit for humans? (granted, we have medicine, and other benefits, I know)

1) The stuff we eat isn't meant for us to digest (junk food, fast food).

2) Food was scarce in caveman days so overeating wasn't detrimental. Now food is abundant, and more tempting, so it leads to obesity

3) We don't need to hunt for our food, and sit for 8 hours a day.

4) We live in crammed cities, everyone is a stranger, and everything seems impersonal. Back then we lived in a tribe, or close community and everyone depended on each other for survival.

5) Temptations are all around us, from sex to alcohol, drugs, food, etc, which puts a strain on our willpower. In the past, such temptations weren't present, so the dopamine rush we get from having sex, or eating food just allowed us to survive. Now, it leads to cheating on partners, overeating, etc.

Your views?

UPDATE: Not sure why I'm being downvoted. I'm not being intentionally negative, or anything. He asked if anyone wanted help, and I need arguably the MOST help out of all the people asking questions. I'm pretty depressed about the state of the world and want to know what I can do to change that.

Ask HN: Incubator offers $150,000 for 40% equity
4 points by websirnik  1 day ago   5 comments top 5
wisty 1 day ago 0 replies      
How many people do they expect you to employee? What pay would you typically get in Russia? How much would they let you pay yourself?

40% seems a bit steep, but if you are also getting an OK (below market, but not terrible) salary for working on the project, then it sounds great (unless there are some legal traps). If they want you to hire dozens of staff, and everyone lives off ramen and the hope that some VP will be interested in funding the next step (for a huge chunk of the remaining equity), then it's not so great.

ig1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds similar to hackfwd, where the amount they give you is essentially to pay founder salaries while they build a prototype. They take a big chunk of the company but in exchange take away the risk for someone leaving a job to create a company.
ohashi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know very little about the russian startup scene but I thought Mail.ru was one of the most successful online companies there?
ash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your link to Farminers is wrong. Should be http://farminers.com
realschool 1 day ago 0 replies      
Moscow is one of, if not the most expensive cities in Europe.
O'reilly *Free to Choose* - Save 50% on All Ebooks & Videos (code B2SDEAL)
11 points by nkassis  1 day ago   discuss
Ask HN: the "startup" look
3 points by coolpalm  23 hours ago   5 comments top 2
randy99 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Have you thought about building first version with Bootstrap from twitter?
msencenb 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Another great resource to get an MVP up and running is http://themeforest.net
Ask HN: What happened to the YCreject class?
17 points by ericelias  2 days ago   1 comment top
cbs 2 days ago 0 replies      
They're now Tenacity Wrox, and announced cull.tv Monday.
Ask HN: Is your business a company or a product?
6 points by typicalrunt  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
relaunched 1 day ago 0 replies      
When you are early, you should only have one product and your name should be synonymous with it, unless you want to spend every encounter explaining the distinction. That doesn't include the numerous people (press, investors, potential hires, potential customers / biz partners) that will have your business card and not associate your company name with the product they used.

From my experience, startups can work on one thing at a time (and that's hard enough). The more difficult you make it for someone to associate your company with your product, the worse off you will be. You can always change your company name later.

dmk23 1 day ago 0 replies      
By definition a "product" is not a "business". A business is a company that has products that bring in revenue.

Businesses that scale tend to have multiple products, so tying product name to company name could restrict your positioning going forward.

Ask HN: recommendations for temporary office space in SF?
7 points by lemming  1 day ago   3 comments top 2
vrikhter 1 day ago 1 reply      
How many people are in your group? Do you need private offices or are you ok working in an open environment with use of a conference room when necessary? How long do you need it for?

I'm personally at Nextspace (http://www.nextspace.us) and really love it. Its on 2nd and Market. There are a few other co-working spaces that are much better than Regus in the area:

- http://www.sandboxsuites.com/ (multiple locations in SF)

- http://www.rocket-space.com/

- http://wework.com/ not sure if they're opened yet)

- http://bayarea.the-hub.net/public/space__Hub%20SoMa.html

Also check out (http://www.loosecubes.com/) for companies renting out extra space in their office.

Email me if you have questions about NextSpace.

lee337 1 day ago 0 replies      
If Oakland is an option for you then check out http://techliminal.com
How I manage my Hacker News addiction
2 points by begriffs  19 hours ago   3 comments top 2
dirkdeman 17 hours ago 1 reply      
A few years ago I developed a bad case of obsessive compulsive procastination. Since then I use the pomodoro technique religiously. It works great for me, but the last thing I want is a cluttered mailbox full of articles or links. It would freak me out...
Killah911 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Turn your "maxvisits" in your profile down, that's a built in method in hacker news :
Ask HN: Is the jobs section broken?
11 points by dlevine  2 days ago   1 comment top
dbattaglia 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if the "who's hiring" posts for each month would show up there too.
Ask HN: Manufacturing small electronic devices?
10 points by epicviking  2 days ago   5 comments top 3
curt 2 days ago 0 replies      
My specialty is creating consumer electronics and web/mobile applications that seamlessly integrate. Have quite a lot of experience with this. Check out my blog, it's in my profile, wrote a popular article here on HN (it's also on my blog) on how to and the tools to use when designing, prototyping, and manufacturing consumer electronics. If you have further questions feel free to email me, done it enough I can usually figure out what you'll need to do pretty fast.
Rantenki 2 days ago 1 reply      
Depends on your margins. Companies like Enigma (used them, happy, not affiliated in any way) can do turnkey manufacturing and take away the supply chain/procurement headaches. OTOH, if you can handle procurement and manufacturing internally, or co-ordinate multiple vendors and do final assembly in house, you can save cash (if everything goes perfectly).

Enigma: http://www.enigmacorp.com/ was good to me, YMMV.

I have tried to go the in-house route as well, and got KILLED on procurement. Without existing relationships, I had multi-month leadtimes on a lot of parts. Again, YMMV.

revorad 2 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of device do you need? You'll have to give more details to get a useful answer.

Get in touch with some people whose electronics products got funded on Kickstarter. Also have a look on http://www.quirky.com.

Proposal: Linear Algebra Study Group
47 points by gruseom  3 days ago   61 comments top 30
tzs 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be best to do this somewhere that supports MathJax (http://www.mathjax.org/). HN does not, which could make it awkward to discuss math in an HN thread.

There are three reasonable ways to add MathJax support to a site.

1. Get the site owner to do it. The site owner simply has to toss in a script tag that loads MathJax from the MathJax CDN and sets some configuration options. Someone would need to convince PG that this is worthwhile. (I've done some timing tests, and MathJax doesn't seen to cause any noticeable performance problems when used on pages that contain no math. Any decent browser caches the script so load time of the script is not a problem).

2. The user can use a Greasemonkey script to load it, for browses that support Greasemonkey scripts. Here's an example that loads MathJax on Reddit: http://userscripts.org/scripts/review/108770. This could trivially be modified to work on HN instead of Reddit.

3. Safari doesn't support Greasemonkey scripts. There is a Safari plugin to add that functionality, but it does not work very well. I wrote a Safari extension to load MathJax (or Tex The World, discussed below) on Reddit: https://github.com/tzs/Reddit-Math-Display-for-Safari. This could easily be modified to work on HN instead of Reddit.

On Reddit, in /r/math, the convention is to use LaTeX delimited by [; and ;] to mark math, and to use a script called Tex The World to render it (http://thewe.net/tex/). That script finds the math, and sends it off to CodeCogs.com where it is rendered and an image is returned for display. This occasionally causes problems due to the load on CodeCogs.

To work around this, someone has a hacked version of the that script (link available in the sidebar on /r/math) that uses the Google Chart API to render small equations and does some kind of caching.

I'd recommend NOT using either of these. The author of TeX The World stopped work on it quite a while ago. There's no licensing information on the site so it is not clear if anyone else can take it over, and by using an external service to render the math it is fragile.

MathJax seems to be the best approach. That's what they are using at mathoverlow and math.stackexchange.com. Note that if MathJax is loaded by the page itself, rather than by an extension, then it works great on iOS and most other major mobile web devices, in addition to pretty much all major desktop browsers, without the need for the end user to do anything special.

tptacek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Chapter ever two weeks plus exercises sounds simple, doable, reasonable. Let's do it that way.

Once we feel like we've picked our book, let's decide on a date to start; 2 weeks from that date, one of us will just post a "STUDY HN:" post for the first chapter.

We can figure out the formalities, like, what do those threads look like, once we get started. :)

aamar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interested; please include me. Once the book arrives I'll have to confirm I can make the time.

In terms of how: I was part of a terrific, useful "HN reads SICP" group a while back (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=428248, couple of us made it through to the end). In that case the meeting place was simple (irc) and we generally linked to our answers on pastebin/github/personal site which supported whichever features we needed it to. An HN thread per "meeting" could work similarly as a hub.

It is probably useful for each person to chime in separately, e.g. "I agree that this is the right answer" or "I also have this confusion", despite this not being ordinary HN etiquette. That allows us to know how many people are participating and evaluating answers, which is difficult, especially given hidden comment points.

endian 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems one can get the International Edition of the 4th edition from Abe Books at a greatly reduced price:


silentbicycle 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm interested, except I recently bought his _Introduction to Linear Algebra_ (to go with his opencourseware). I'll probably eavesdrop and do the exercises in that one instead.
michaelchisari 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is a great idea, although I don't know if I'm a good candidate for it, since I never officially got past a Pre-Calculus level.

I recently decided in the past couple weeks to go through Khan Academy from the very beginning (simple arithmetic! :), and run through every one of their exercises. I'm moving pretty fast through all the refresher courses, and I'm amazed at what I've retained (and disappointed at what I've lost).

I've completed 113 out of 171 exercises in my off hours in the past couple weeks, and once I've gotten through them all, I'm going to run through MIT 18.01 Single Variable Calculus, 18.02 Multi-Variable Calculus, and 18.03 Differential Equations.

From there, I was planning on doing MIT 18.06 Linear Algebra, so even though I don't think it would work out for me to jump in to a group like this without the proper background, I'll be following the progress of things closely.

In fact, the idea of HN being a platform for self-directed group education is a brilliant one. While there are already websites focused on that, I know we're all impressed enough by the HN readership that there is an obvious advantage of organizing it here. Hopefully this experiment can work for other areas of study as well.

ebiester 3 days ago 2 replies      
Which textbook are we talking about? Timing isn't perfect for me, but I'm willing to at least try until everything catches up with me.
nkurz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to be involved (email in profile).

Are there significant differences between editions? For those not employed by Thomas, the 4th edition is a expensive book even when used. The 3rd, by contrast, has many affordable used copies available. And are the international versions identical?

ivan_ah 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Time to trade in a few hours of internet
> downtime and actually learn something.


Some tools I can recommend are
dokuwiki with jsMath plugin
and etherpad for live collaboration/note-taking

http://piratepad.net/sj8l1FIUIK --> I started one pad for this project.

If someone is willing to setup a public dokuwiki on their server, I can provide examples of latex code for matrices and vectors.

dthakur 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in; I have the book; Is the next checkpoint on Sep 27 (Chapter 1)?

With 8 chapters, this will stretch past Dec, is this correct?

mquander 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll get on board; I need to relearn this. Email in profile.
marshray 3 days ago 1 reply      
Count me in. I already have Strang's textbook and have watched some of his lectures.

However, I was quite impressed with a few minutes of Khan Academy I watched the other day. I don't know what the dependency chain is for their L.A. modules but that site seems to have some good metadata and group organization tools.

timgluz 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about OpenStudy studygroup for MIT linear algebra course?
tsycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in for this. A chapter every 2 weeks sounds like a good pace without any unnecessary pressure.
How do we coordinate? @gruseom, would you like to take the lead?
ajdecon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea, I'm in. Time to go get Strang...
notaddicted 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm interested! please find my email in my profile.
skeptical 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yesterday I pushed a tiny javascript algebra on github. I'll just leave the link here:

It might be useful for you guys to check solutions and such.

trenthauck 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would definitely be interested in this. Use it everyday for stats, but would like to get better at the fundamentals.

I think for it to be most efficient, we should use the book that coincides w/ the MIT lectures.

ejanus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am in! I live very far from Amazon.com and I don't have Kindle. Is there a place to source the book's pdf version?
mavelikara 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to join this.
biofox 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in. Does it matter which edition we use?

As for notation and sharing images, this is a great tool... provided you know LaTeX (which is worth learning anyway):


mwhooker 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in. Though I don't think HN is the place to run the study group.
szcukg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in. I have the 3rd edition of this book
ecruz3 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm interested in participating.
jcarden 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm game. Where do we sign up ?
seandevine 3 days ago 1 reply      
That sounds good to me. Here in Chicago? If we need a location, my office and apartment building are options...
cranil 3 days ago 0 replies      
if you're relearning, you should use Horn and Johnson's Matrix Analysis IMO
mkl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in, probably.
Ask HN: What issue tracker do you use?
4 points by imperialWicket  1 day ago   3 comments top 3
rickette 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Jira + GreenHopper. So far the best issue tracker i've worked with. Former professional experience includes Mantis, ClearQuest (bleh) and StarTeam.

I do understand that some people may be overwhelmed by Jira the first time around. It has quite a few bells and whistles. But when the number of issues grow (and it will) you'll be glad those bells are available.

Jira is quite flexible. Do invest some time in tweaking your workflows but don't overreact by introducing 20+ issue types, 30+ issue states and 100+ roles.

saiko-chriskun 1 day ago 0 replies      
Internally we use github (haven't tried many others, honestly, just integrates well and gets the job done.)

Publicly we use tenderapp. Always loved their design and UX flow.

edmarferreira 1 day ago 0 replies      
We are using the github issue tracker. It's not powerful but is easy to use and free ( if you already using github for git hosting )
Ask HN: What happens to a CA when their certificates are revoked (re. DigiNotar)
2 points by aj  1 day ago   discuss
Ask HN: Which Android phone do you recommend?
6 points by olalonde  2 days ago   4 comments top 4
metachris 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend either the Samsung Galaxy S2 or the Google Nexus S. Both are the new generation with great display and performance.
nextparadigms 2 days ago 0 replies      
Samsung Galaxy S2 if you want one right away.
goombastic 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want good price to features ratio along with a Cyanogen port, try the Motorola Defy. Nice screen, tough, waterproof, and light. It has a high res screen (265 dpi, I think...) as well unlike a lot of the cheap androids out there. Sadly, the device sports 2.1 android. But, I've seen Gingerbread run on it. Motorola recently released the Defy+ as well.
2AM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Samsung Galaxy S2, unless you can wait another month or so for Ice Cream Sandwich.
Get a YCNYC invite? Add yourself to this attendee list.
44 points by nicksergeant  5 days ago   24 comments top 13
cmer 5 days ago 2 replies      
Concurrency problems and formatting errors make this list very hard to use IMO. At the moment, the formatting is completely broken.

I have made a password-protected Google Doc spreadsheet. I think it's a better choice than Writeboard since it supports multiple users and there's no risk of breaking somebody else's entry.

Here's the link:

http://thinfi.com/7ir -- Password is the same

Let me know if you think this is a good idea or not.

cemregr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hint: sender first name is inside the sender's email address, not the name that appears in the email client.
brk 5 days ago 2 replies      
Does anybody know exactly where this is being held? I am debating vs. flying or driving (from Boston), and possibly staying overnight.

If anyone else is coming from Boston, let me know, maybe a carpool would be more efficient (we can take my car).

danest 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am creating a twitter list. https://twitter.com/#!/danest/ycnyc ping me to add you to it/follow it. Currently adding people from the documents
evlapix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Poll: Your YCNYC application response?


cmer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I added an "elevator pitch" column, would be great if everybody filled it out. Makes it easier to know what everybody's doing.
cmer 5 days ago 1 reply      
Can we kill the Writeboard to avoid confusion?
swatthatfly 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm coming from Montreal, anybody else driving? I'm willing to car share if you're driving.
picardo 5 days ago 1 reply      
does anyone know where the meetup is going to be? there was no address in the email or the website.
hammerbrostime 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does it mean anything to have received an invite at this point? Its unclear to me if everyone who requested an invite received one.

Also, with the title "YCNYC", it sounds like this is going to be a NYC based funding cycle, but all the online literature still points to the West Coast. Where are they planning on holding this funding cycle?

Omni5cience 5 days ago 0 replies      
Bah, why is it that I always miss this kind of stuff until it's too late
technology 5 days ago 0 replies      
what is the password
I dont understand what you said in pwd
sethbannon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Must be a better way!
Ask HN: Why do so many startups simply depend on FB alone, for the login?
9 points by vijayr  3 days ago   6 comments top 4
ig1 3 days ago 1 reply      
Because developer time is incredibly valuable to startups, the amount of users who don't want to use facebook/google/etc is relatively small so it's not worth spending the extra time to implement.

I think you underestimate the complexity of managing your own auth. It takes a lot longer than a couple of hours to do it right. Testing alone would take longer than that. Authentication is one of the most important part of many apps, it's not something you should be skimping on or doing in a hurry. It's much better to pass it off to a third-party until you have the time and resources to do it correctly.

(here's a bunch of things you might not have considered: password resets, https, stopping spam bots creating accounts, users changing email addresses, etc.)

arkitaip 3 days ago 0 replies      
The absurd part is that some developers believe that account creation is difficult/hard for users who are very sophisticated early adopters and privacy conscious.
harel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Auth, regardless of how long it takes should be built in your app, not farmed to 3rd parties. First fundamental building block of any app and its still, by far, NOT the most complicated part of any website. Farming out auth to facebook or Google should be an optional extra, not a mandatory process. I do have a Facebook account but I rarely want to link it to anything else. I'm still upset with StackOverflow for forcing me to use a Google account to log in as I use google Apps which are not yet deemed Google Accounts.
j_col 3 days ago 0 replies      
> It'll hardly take a couple of hours to write a simple login script, no?

Completely agree, makes sense to do the simple thing first, then optionally add auth from other services later. Given that I recently nuked my Facebook account for example, having Facebook-only auth on a site effectively blocks me and others like me from signing up (never a good thing).

       cached 17 September 2011 14:05:01 GMT