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Ask HN: Monthly billing software for SaaS site
9 points by soho33  4 hours ago   3 comments top 3
dangrossman 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Start with PayPal, add a merchant account once your volume makes it worthwhile. Billing code is really not hard to write, at least in the beginning when you're not dealing with a lot of special cases yet. With PayPal subscriptions, you basically just need two things -- some code to generate a link to start the subscription (which you can then put in a webpage or redirect to after someone fills out a form), and a script to receive the POST-backs from IPN when subscriptions are created or canceled. And that's all part of their standard service, not the Pro/PayFlow plans with monthly fees... why commit to monthly fees for Chargify or Recurly or anyone before you even have revenue?

I tried the subscription-as-a-service stuff before, with both Spreedly and Recurly, and ended up with just as much work and just as much code, while tying myself to startups that are much less stable than PP. That came back to bite me when Recurly screwed their beta users on plans/pricing and I had to rip out all their code and start over.

bks 3 hours ago 0 replies      
We use stripe.com
therealarmen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I like Recurly a lot. They are somewhat expensive ($70 a month minimum + fees) in comparison to some alternatives, but I've found it to be worth the extra cost.
Ask HN: Open Social Network Systems
4 points by Navarr  3 hours ago   2 comments top 2
milkshakes 3 hours ago 0 replies      
the fewer data formats that one has to use to consume your service, the better. i would advise going with REST + JSON, and i would emphasize that your API will live or die based on its documentation.

here's a video i found useful that lays out the some basic considerations to keep in mind when designing your API:

mindcrime 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you're on the right track, but I'd suggest specifically checking out the Federated Social Web XG:


Join their mailing list and participate (or at least lurk) in those discussions to get a feel for what people are doing in this area.

Ask HN: Recommended Books/Articles on clean code design.
7 points by safetyscissors  6 hours ago   3 comments top 2
swanson 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The first step is to be aware that you aren't writing succinct, manageable code - so you are already making progress :)

I'd recommend these books, mixed with some searching around for best practices for whatever specific framework/language/toolkit you are writing code with.

Clean Code


Refactoring to Patterns


munaf 5 hours ago 1 reply      
How much risk have you taken?
2 points by RuchitGarg  2 hours ago   2 comments top 2
dangrossman 2 hours ago 0 replies      
With a CS degree and a bunch of work I could show off, I don't really consider anything I do a risk. Even if I completely utterly fail at growing my own business, I'm still better off than so many who could be fired at any time and have a much tougher job search than I expect. My mother's sending out resumes every day and never hearing back while recruiters are calling me, and any other competent developer with a resume on the net, all the time.
jeffool 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I borrowed many dozens of thousands in student loans. I did not graduate, and on top of that, let my skills deteriorate.

The come back is something of a work in progress. I think it's in that "getting worse before it gets better" phase of the film. I hope.

I share not because it's an insane story, but because I'd love to hear others' answers.

Ask HN: Which podcasts do you listen to?
12 points by c4urself  11 hours ago   16 comments top 14
m0nastic 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This comes up from time to time, so here are the ones that I subscribe to (and get OCD about making sure I'm caught up on).

There's others that I might listen to here or there, but these are the main ones:

- Informative

After Dark: Overflow from other 5by5 shows. Usually less than a half-hour, frequently funny. Probably not recommended if you don't also listen to the other shows on the network.

Back to Work: Ostensibly a show about getting to what's important with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. If you like Merlin's stuff, you'll like the show. Frequently goes off on tangents, but some of the recurring bits are awesome and hysterical.

Build and Analyze: Marco Arment's show. Also ostensibly about development, but basically topics meander (I think to the show's credit). This was the hardest 5by5 show for me to initially get in to (I think I was initially hesitant because I assumed it was going to be all iOS stuff), but I now enjoy it greatly.

The Critical Path: Horace Dedieu's show. This one snuck up on me, but I really like the way Horace presents information. Probably the least funny show I listen to regularly, but one of the more informative ones.

Exotic Liability: This one should probably be in the entertaining category, as it's a security podcast that very rarely talks about security. Probably not for everyone (not even all security people), but I find it endearing.

The FunctionSource Show: There's only been a couple of episodes of this one, so it might be dead. The first couple episodes have been really really good though. Basically, thoughts on the web, and programming in general. The hosts are great.

Herding Code: This is a fairly recent addition to my list. I'm always looking for an actual good development podcast (that's actually about development), and this one is usually interesting. There's a bunch of hosts though, and I find it really difficult to tell who is talking.

Hypercritical: This has quickly become my favorite podcast. It's just John Siracusa complaining about things, but for some reason, it's much better than that tagline would have you believe. I feel like Siracusa is a kindred spirit, so maybe that's why I look forward to his show as much as I do.

Startalk: Neil Degrasse Tyson's podcast. I shouldn't really have to explain it any more than that.

The Talk Show: The world can be split into people who like Gruber, and people who think he's an asshole. Thankfully, the two aren't mutually exclusive, and I really like listening to his show. In particular, the latest episode (where he might have been celebrating beforehand) is definitely the best of the bunch (and one of my favorite podcasts of all time).

This Developer's Life: Scott Hanselman and Rob Connery talk about things developer-related (but it's not at it's core a technical podcast). I really like this one, they do a great job with it.

- Entertaining

Comedy Bang Bang: Easily the best podcast I listen to. Always hilarious. I'm embarrassed to get so much value out of something that's free. The show is usually a bunch of comedians (some of whom are being interviewed, and some of whom are doing impersonations of characters), but is flat out the funniest thing I've found available in any medium.

Doug Loves Movies: Usually recorded live, and it's a panel of famous people who are interviewed by Doug Benson (the comedian). Episodes are mostly made up of the panel playing a game Doug made up called "The Leonard Maltin Game", which is way more amusing to listen to than it should be.

Geek Friday: This might be dead (or just on hiatus), but it was a show of Dan Benjamin and Faith Corpi talking about geek-related things. Usually very funny.

Gelmania: Bret Gelman is a comedian who I first heard of from his appearances on Comedy Bang Bang. His style is very aggressive (it's part of his act), but I think his show is awesome.

How Did This Get Made?: A bunch of people pick a terrible movie and then talk about it. It's usually really really funny.

improv4humans: A fairly new show. Basically it's recorded improv. They take suggestions on Twitter ahead of time and then construct scenes. So far, they've all been really good (which is more than I can say for most live improv).

Nerdist Writers Panel: This might not be interesting to the public at large, but I find it fascinating (and usually pretty funny). It's a recorded panel of TV writers. They talk about their experiences writing on shows.

The Pod F. Tompkast: Paul F. Tompkins is my favorite part of Comedy Bang Bang, and his podcast is fantastic.

Roderick on the Line: New-ish show with Merlin Mann and John Roderick (musician, and super funny guy). It has no rhyme or reason (which might turn off some, as it meanders), but so far they've all been entertainment gold.

Thrilling Adventure Hour: This is actually a live show in Los Angeles, but they release segments as a podcast. It's billed as "old-timey radio", and most of the segments are fantastic. Specifically, "Beyond Belief" is my favorite.

polyfractal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My job involves a lot of mindless tasks (molecular/cellular neuroscience - culturing cells is much less exciting than you'd think). This affords me plenty of time to listen to podcasts. My favorites in no particular order:


-Motley Fool: http://wiki.fool.com/Motley_Fool_Money_Radio_Show

-Market Foolery: http://wiki.fool.com/MarketFoolery

-EconTalk: http://econtalk.org/

-Planet Money: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/

-American Public Media Marketplace: http://www.marketplace.org/



-Startups for the Rest of Us: http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/

-TechZing: http://techzinglive.com/

-Lifestyle Business Podcast: http://www.lifestylebusinesspodcast.com/

-Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Seminar: http://etl.stanford.edu/

-Coder Talk: http://codertalkshow.com/



-Think: http://www.kera.org/think/

-Caustic Soda: http://www.causticsodapodcast.com/

-Science Magazine: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/multimedia/podcast/

-Astronomy Cast: http://www.astronomycast.com/

-It's All Politics: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/

loganfrederick 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Economics: Russ Robert's EconTalk at http://econtalk.org

Videogames: GamersWithJobs Conference Call: http://gamerswithjobs.com

Sports: Mike and Mike in the Morning Radio Podcast: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/show?showId=mikeandmike

All subscribable via iTunes.

waqf 11 hours ago 1 reply      
When do you people have time to listen to podcasts? Reading blogs/RSS is much less time-intensive.

Also, for those occasions when people insist on delivering information via embedded video only, why don't contemporary embedded players have a "replay at 2x speed" button? I can listen faster than you can talk (and if you actually say something that makes me think, I can find the pause button just fine).

zrail 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The boring basics. Radiolab, Stuff You Should Know, and Planet Money are my go-to podcasts. I can't really stand anything that's too much like talk radio, especially when I'm at the gym (where I listen to podcasts.)
pawn 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't listen to podcasts, but I participate in a weekly podcast...is that bad? It's a videogame podcast if anyone's interested. http://feeds.feedburner.com/gamerhighway
ilconsigliere 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I have to recommend The History of Rome podcast anytime I have an opportunity. Mike Duncan does a great job "storytelling" the history, and is very up front about what should be accepted as relative fact (strong sources) vs. the more uncertain elements from the more questionable sources. It's great if you're driving a lot.


jfaucett 11 hours ago 0 replies      
To get most all my news I listen to the following: (sorry, no English broadcasters except sometimes BBC)

das Computermagazin - B5,
VOA - Voice of America in Spanish,
ciencia al cubo,
Wirtschaft - Deutsche Welle,
Klartext - from sveriges radio,

In case anyone understands German I'd definitely recommend Computermagazin, runs 20 minutes and stays compact (I agree with zrail don't like much blabber, give me the facts )

murz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"Hipster Runoff", it's hilarious.
amwelles 11 hours ago 0 replies      
You Look Nice Today, This American Life, Back to Work, Savage Lovecast. I tend to listen to podcasts on my meal breaks at work and at home for background noise. I can't stand listening to them while I'm actually trying to do work, because I have a hard time paying attention to two things at once.
flpmor 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like "This American Life", it's not related to technology directly but it's sometimes very inspiring about how people do things. Also listen to "Planet Money".
gerad 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're a subscriber, the Economist iPhone / Android app has an audio edition which is quite good.
taphangum 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Tech Zing.
euroclydon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: File/Directory Organization Tips & Hacks
2 points by cobychapple  3 hours ago   discuss
MVP is not alpha
19 points by sontek  16 hours ago   2 comments top 2
bmelton 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree.

If the purpose of the application is met, but the app is otherwise ugly, hard to use or what have you, then you have an MVP.

The point of an MVP, generally, is to determine whether or not there's a market for your application, and whether it actually fills a need.

If you can put out an ugly, half-working application that saves me real, tangible money, then I'm probably going to use it. If there's better-looking or more highly regarded software in the same space, you're out of luck, and shouldn't be launching an MVP... the market's been proven by the competitor. But if it's a new space, in an unproven market, that solves a real problem, then yes, I will accept an app that hasn't "had time to polish the features", so long as the one core feature that I'm using it for works.

jiggity 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's too easy to get caught up in the fad where you see blog posts bragging about launching in 3 hours with a crappy website and bagging their first customer.


(Note: This is all based on my meandering experience. Take it with a grain of salt.)

For me, a MVP tackles a single sub-problem of your targeted userbase and execute the heck out of it. This should be a gem of a small solution you create that is beautiful, usable, and magnificent.

Your goal is to get those initial users to feel that heady emotion (Wonderful word: "frisson"), that sends chills down their backs when they realize what you have created.


Not taking advantage of graphic design is stupid. Remember, when users see that MVP, they don't consciously think, "ok, this site does X, but it has a graphic design quality of Y, but I don't care". They take in the MVP as a whole and they put it through their binary evaluator.

You need to take advantage of everything at your disposal to make sure that evaluator lands on the right side. To do anything less would be doing yourself a disservice.

You don't want to be sitting a few days after sending out the MVP and wondering if people aren't converting because it looks crappy or because its useless.

(A big caveat is if you don't have a designer on your team. At this stage, it is time consuming (and expensive) to hire freelancer designers to render the vision you have in your head. I would try to make do. I come from the school of thought that having a designer cofounder is essential, and better yet, you have a designeer on your founding team.)


Remember, all I am talking about is just one small aspect of the bigger problem you are trying to solve. The bet here is that with your identified subproblem, the costs for producing it will be relatively low (at least compared to the overarching problem you are solving).


It is easier for people to see a tiny, tiny bit of something absolutely wonderful and imagine a lot more of it than it is to see something crappy and imagine something beautiful.


What ends up happening is:

1. Potential users try out the MVP and appreciate its straight up utility.

2. Potential users see the quality and craftsmanship of the tool (even though its tiny) and you start gaining a fanbase. These users expect more wonder from you.

3. It becomes very natural for you to grow out your userbase along with your feature set.

4. You tackle more subproblems with the same amount of polish and voracity and in the end you get a wonderful product with a huge fanbase.


jiggity's personal mvp pathway to new products

Research -> Identification of one pressing subproblem -> Build the heck out of a solution to that subproblem -> Polish, make it beautiful, put in emotive triggers -> MVP release -> Userbase reacts with astonishment -> Identify pressing subproblem #2 -> Built solution for that subproblem -> Polish -> Release -> Use fanbase from earlier iteration to grow much faster -> Repeat

PG: Would you be willing to upload a more current version of news.arc
14 points by thehigherlife  16 hours ago   3 comments top 3
zackzackzack 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think he has stated before, or it has been implied by others, that releasing the source for hacker news might do more harm than good. There is a significant problem with voting rings now from the sounds of it. Hacker News has become a force that can greatly affect business and startups. If the voting ring people had the source, they might be able to find an exploit more easily that allows them to game the system. Clearly that would hurt Hacker News as a whole.

Basically, there are more black hats than white hats who would take a look at the source. YC is too powerful now.

zck 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The latest pg-release is at http://ycombinator.com/arc/arc3.1.tar . It was released "only" two years ago (http://arclanguage.org/item?id=10254 ) and runs on the latest version of racket. The repository you're looking at is an unofficial one that is much more active than pg's releases.
sontek 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you tried looking at the github repo, here: https://github.com/nex3/arc/blob/master/news.arc the latest commit on that was in November 2011
Ask HN: Best book you read in 2011
301 points by kia  3 days ago   289 comments top 162
davidw 2 days ago 3 replies      
Let's see... in no particular order:

* Thinking, Fast and Slow: http://amzn.to/sXQGSR - probably makes my list because I just finished it, and as he says "what you see is all there is" - we're biased towards things that come to mind easily. Actually, it is a pretty good book even looking through all the others I've read.

* 1491: http://amzn.to/uaR0yf - about the Americas prior to the arrival of "Cristoforo Colombo".

* Built to sell: http://amzn.to/ukmyNP - how to create a business that is something that you can sell because it can exist without you. Not quite so relevant to startups working on a product, but some good concepts nonetheless. A good summary is probably just as good as reading the book, as the core concepts are fairly simple.

* Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World: http://amzn.to/tVvltK the history of the world as seen through languages.

* The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East: http://amzn.to/spQCF7 - a look at how the legal systems of 'the west' and the middle east differed and the results those systems led to.

And of course, if you haven't read this one, I think it's a great read:

Start Small, Stay Small: http://amzn.to/v2DHyx - a great guide full of practical advice on "startups for the rest of us".

What I haven't read:

Lean Startups by Eric Ries. Does it contain much practical advice? I get the impression it's a bit on the 'strategic' side without giving you concrete ideas about how to go about doing things.

The Steve Jobs biography. It looks to be so pervasive and widespread that I'm wondering if I can absorb most of the good parts from other people who have read it. I may get it anyway; we'll see.

FWIW, all links contain a referral code to help fuel my reading habit.

bambax 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'd like to mention two books because I can't decide which is greatest (they're very different):

- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (often quoted here, and rightly so; it's short and really really great)

- How to Live, or A life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell (a fantastic take on Montaigne's essays by a contemporary scholar with a refreshing take on everything).

Aramgutang 2 days ago 5 replies      
"The 4-Hour Body", by Tim Ferriss.

Because of that book, within 3 months I went from running completely out of breath after 2 minutes of running, to finishing a half-marathon in 2 hours. And during the prior 3 months, I had lost 15 kilos by following the "slow-carb diet" described in the book.

Reading it seemed to flip a switch in my brain: before, I would think of my body as something I had little control over, while after, I saw it as not only something I had full control over, but as something I could hack. I've also followed up on quite a few of the product recommendations in the book (e.g. Inov-8 trainers, Aqua Sphere goggles, etc), and have yet to be disappointed.

That said, the book does come with a heavy dose of Tim's pointless boasting, half-assed chapters (e.g. the polyphasic sleep or the baseball batting ones), and far more conjecture than a book of that sort should have.

diego 2 days ago 0 replies      
* Thinking Fast, Slow by Daniel Kahneman

* Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

* Slack, by Tom DeMarco (also re-read Peopleware). Both of these books are fundamental to anyone developing software within an organization.

* Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh. It's not fantastic but it's helpful if you are trying to build a business.

* Tribal Leadership - recommended by the above. Not great but interesting.

* Rework - short read, worth the time.

* Managing Humans by Rands - very entertaining, useful if you manage people.

Other stuff I read is not worth mentioning in a "best books" list.

davidwparker 2 days ago 1 reply      
For me, I had a few that I really liked:

* The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell. Probably one of the best books I've read, even for people who don't want to make games, it was really good.

* Business Model Generation by Osterwalder and Pigneur. One of the better business books I've read through. Also one of the most creative.

And I finally read:

* The C Programming Language by K&R. 'nuff said.

nyellin 2 days ago 3 replies      
It isn't a proper book, but Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality was incredible. Don't judge it by the fact that it is a fanfic.
jswinghammer 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me they were:

"An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought" by Murray Rothbard

This was great because of the history lesson packed into a book that's mostly about economics. I didn't realize how libertarian the economic thought of the east was until I read this book. I also appreciated the focus on economics before Adam Smith since I knew only about Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas's contributions prior to reading the book. Rothbard's take-down of Marx was both thorough and satisfying.

"City of God" by Augustine of Hippo

The history lesson here was helpful as was the perspective on how the church should view the state though I should have invested more money in a better version for Kindle. The version I had was filled with grammatical mistakes due to the poor translation to the Kindle format.

Sukotto 2 days ago 2 replies      
lawn 2 days ago 3 replies      
I can't really decide, but here are a few of my favorites.

* Song of Ice and Fire series. I never really liked fantasy but this series is wonderful. The TV-series (Game of Thrones) is okay but a far cry from the books.

* The Pragmatic Programmer. The best programming book I've seen. A must read for programmers I'd say.

* Introduction to Algorithms. Haven't really gone through it but so far it's been great.

lkozma 3 days ago 2 replies      
Best books I read in 2011:

* "Salonica, City of Ghosts" by M.Mazower. Tells the history of Thessaloniki, informative, entertaining, at times nostalgic.

* "The Cauchy-Schwarz Master Class" by J.M.Steele. A guided tour of mathematical inequalities. Very entertaining and readable (for a math book) and extremely well written.

* "Indiscrete Thoughts" by G-C.Rota. Irreverent anecdotes about mathematicians.

* "Black Swan" by N.N.Taleb. Maybe overhyped and at times annoying and pompous, but extremely insightful nevertheless.

AngryParsley 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not tech-related, but my favorite book this year was Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. The book is a collection of stories from North Korean defectors, combined with some history and background info. It's a quick but satisfying read.
michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best book is hard. Best technical book is either:

Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming: http://www.amzn.com/0262220695


Programming in Scala: http://www.amzn.com/0981531644

mcphilip 2 days ago 0 replies      
Prime Obsession : http://amzn.com/0309085497 - a great introduction to the Riemann hypothesis with chapters alternating between the history and impact of the claim, and a dive into the mathematics behind the claim. I have a mediocre background in math (i.e. up through Calculus III in college) but I had no trouble following the chapters explaining the maths behind the hypothesis.

The Undiscovered Self : http://amzn.com/0451217322 - A distillation of much of Carl Jung's lifetime of research in psychology into a short book. The blurb on the book jacket sums it up best: 'In his classic, provocative work, Dr. Carl Jung-one of psychiatry's greatest minds-argues that the future depends on our ability to resist society's mass movements. Only by understanding our unconscious inner nature-"the undiscovered self"-can we gain the self-knowledge that is antithetical to ideological fanaticism.'

alinajaf 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had a fantastic reading year, too much to choose from:

"Cosmos" - Carl Sagan

"Hyperion" + "Fall of Hyperion" - Dan Simmons

"Red Mars" - Kim Stanley Robinson

"The Prince" - Niccolo Machiavelli

wyclif 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Civilization Of The Renaissance In Italy by Jacob Burckhardt:


Pioneering Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt saw the Italian Renaissance as no less than the beginning of the modern world. In this hugely influential work he argues that the Renaissance's creativity, competitiveness, dynasties, great city-states and even its vicious rulers sowed the seeds of a new era. Great book for entrepreneurs, scientists, thinkers, inventors, coders, radicals, and visionaries.

cafard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps best, certainly most depressing (and 20 pages or so to go, but there's time left yet): Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder, http://www.powells.com/s?kw=bloodlands

Very good, long: China Marches West: The Quing Conquest of Central Eurasia by Peter C. Perdue, http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780674057432-0

Odd, interesting, relatively short: Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues by George Berkeley, http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780674057432-0

Techie: Effective Perl Programming by Joseph Hall, http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780321496942-0

metachris 2 days ago 0 replies      
I thoroughly enjoyed Iain M. Banks 'Culture' novels [1] (sci-fi), in particular 'Surface Detail', 'Matter' and 'The Player of Games'.

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

drewblaisdell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman

It made me feel like I'm not thinking enough about everything around me.

jasondrowley 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to be on the receiving end of a great deal of vitriol for saying The Bible and the Koran, but sitting down and reading those two books‚Ä"for the first time in my 21-year existence‚Ä"was a really interesting experience.

I'm not going to turn this into a personal essay. I realized‚Ä"after reading both books with a critical eye‚Ä"that there are a lot of trumped-up claims made about each books' contents that ultimately fail to bear themselves out. But there's a great deal to learn from each, and I say this as a nontheist.

soitgoes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Always on the lookout for a good read. Thanks for posting the question. Through HN I discovered:

"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"

Which I enjoyed very much.

donw 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was so incredibly tempted to put 'Twilight' down and wait for the lynch mob, but then realized that the Reddit color scheme is different.

This year was solely devoted to pleasure reading.

Neal Stephenson's REAMDE was quite good, although I imagine everybody on HN has read it, as Neal is practically a Valley institution.

The original 'Starship Troopers' by Ray Bradbury was also a good read, and easy to miss if you're into more modern science fiction.

retroafroman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shop Class as Soulcraft - Matthew B. Crawford (2009) Non-fiction

This will resonate well with people who enjoy working with their hands. It also has some pretty entertaining anecdotes from the author's personal life, but it's not overly autobiographical. I personally found this one interesting because I've had some similar experiences in life-working on (and driving) an old Volkswagen as a first car, working in the trades, going to college, getting a desk job, and now, thinking perhaps that a desk job isn't for me, as he realized.

armandososa 3 days ago 0 replies      
This year I read again '100 years of solitude' (in spanish, of course) and I enjoyed every bit of it.
codypo 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the fiction side, I absolutely loved Shogun by Clavell. I didn't know what to expect, and I found an epic that was captivating in many ways. I also started Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I realize I'm about 10 years behind everyone else, and I've found it most deserving of all of the hubbub.

With respect to nonfiction, I enjoyed Schroeder's recent biography of Warren Buffett, entitled the Snowball. It was much less of a hagiography than much of what you read on him. He's a fascinating, complex man.

chriseidhof 3 days ago 1 reply      
Status Anxiety - Alain de Botton

It's about how we have come to live in a meritocracy, where your status depends on what you have achieved. Very insightful and readable work by the contemporary philosopher/writer.

powertower 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone once said that 100s of thousands of books have been written to try to express the inexpressible, but only 1 has succeeded... The Book of Mirdad.

> Logic is immaturity weaving its nets of gossamer wherewith it aims to catch the behemoth of knowledge. Logic is a crutch for the cripple; but a burden for the swift of foot; and a greater burden for the winged.

Most people will read two pages of this book and hand it back. But that's their failure, not the books'.

If you read the above quote, and don't get its true meaning, don't get this book, it will read as pure nonsense.

The true meaning is that we (the cripple, all of us) use logic (a tool, the crutch) to help us (which is good), but at some point in time (after you've mastered logic) you reach an understand that there is no right or wrong, no point in progress or success, that the universe does not care about any of this, and that logic now holds you back (from enlightenment).

Using logic, you can be a scholar, even a philosopher, but you'll never reach enlightenment.

Now watch the truly crippled downvote this away.

nonrecursive 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Bridge of Birds" by Barry Hughart was great. It's a hilarious "detective" novel set in a fictional ancient China. One of the two main characters is an 80 year old sage with a drinking problem and the ability to con almost anybody. The pace never slows and it always has you wondering what'll happen next.

Technically, I'd say "Land of Lisp" has been the most fun and the most rewarding.

abhaga 2 days ago 2 replies      
"To Kill a Mocking Bird", "Logicomix" in English.

A play called "Andha Yug" (The Age of Darkness) in Hindi. English translation is also available for those interested. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0198065221/

wr1472 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've read a lot of books this year, some have already been mentioned (eg. Gawande, Gombrich). I've been devouring the Game of Thrones books since summer, and as no one has mentioned it yet, I'll point it out.
erikpukinskis 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin. It really challenged many of my beliefs about the underpinnings of society. Quite relevant in the year of Occupy Wall Street as well. Feminist Science Fiction for the win.
pinaceae 2 days ago 0 replies      
Politics: The Gamble by Thomas E. Ricks

Economics: How Markets Fail by John Cassidy

Fiction: read through the works of Jo Nesbo, Dennis Lehane, Don Winslow and Stieg Larrsson - all of them recommendable

sathishmanohar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started listening to audio books very recently, so some of these books might be old to you.

* Predictably Irrational - How Humans behave and why.

* 4 hour work week - About how to earn money to live not live to earn money

* Made to stick - How to convey ideas in a way others will remember

* Lean Startup - How to build products using continuous innovation

* Guerrilla Marketing - Basic Marketing principles in 30 days

* Rework - Myth Buster for Internet/Tech companies

* Outsider Edge - Condensed History and reasoning for success of self-made billionaires

* Linus Torvalds - Just for Fun - About Linus Torvalds

Ebooks ( haven't finished reading yet, but they are great so far )

* Getting thing Done - Management principle for knowledge workers by David Allen

* Agile Development - Building Rails apps using agile methodology

I can't believe I've finished 8 books in 2011, long live audio books.

pplante 3 days ago 1 reply      
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

A scary tale about the collapse of the various markets across the globe. I constantly had to keep checking to see if the book was from the fiction section. The stories are so far out there it seemed unreal.

tlammens 2 days ago 1 reply      
Born to run by Christopher McDougall

Read it in the beginning of this year when I was starting to run, very inspiring. And look, I'm still running!

pauljonas 2 days ago 0 replies      
* The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States by Gordon Wood ‚Ä" an outstanding collection of essays on the creation of America. They range in chronology from the 1960s until the present time and explore themes like Roman (founders all big devotees and disciples of Cato, Cicero, etc.‚Ķ able to recite lines and relished in theater enactments) influence on the founders, the "radicalism" of Paine and Jefferson, the American brew of Enlightenment, monarchy v. democracy (democracy simply had no historical precedent, except for the brief, crude and flawed Athenian model thousands of years earlier), democracy v. republic, etc.‚Ķ

* Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig

* Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives by David Wilson Sloan ‚Ä" ‚Ķjargon is toned down for a universal audience, and appeal is made that evolution should be broadly applied, and not just confined to the biology domain. 36 chapters, after a gentle introduction, tilt from specific path carving experiments to general queries on religion, morals, human nature.

* Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber ‚Ä" Anthropologist shreds sacred classical "economics" cows on markets, debt, capitalism, etc.‚Ķ ‚Ķhard not to see things after taking in this fantastic research.

* Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos ‚Ä"¬†Christian anarchism has been around for at least as long as ‚Äúsecular‚ÄĚ anarchism. The existing literature cites Leo Tolstoy as its most famous (sometimes even as the only) proponent, but there are many others, such as Jacques Ellul, Vernard Eller, Dave Andrews or the people associated with the Catholic Worker movement. Both individually and collectively, these Christian anarchists offer a compelling critique of the state, the church and the economy based on numerous passages from the New Testament. Yet despite the relevance and growth of this literature, no generic study bringing together these different thinkers or reflecting on their contribution has been published to date, because such work involves meticulous searching, compiling and structuring of countless different texts and sources, not all of which are easily accessed. This book, however, provides precisely such a study, and thereby presents Christian anarchism to both the wider public and the wider academic community.

* To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey by Parker Palmer ‚Ä"¬†‚Ķan eloquent inquiry into "obedience of truth", what it means to educate and to be educated, that to love is "to know" and "to know" is to love. That it is about asking questions and inciting an inner fire, not about authoritarian objectivism or subjective "everyone has their own truth" relativism.

zavulon 2 days ago 0 replies      
E-Myth revisited


I've read it early in the year, and it made me think about my business in a totally new way. Way too many parts me had me nodding sadly "yes, this happens to me too". A must for any business owners

pencilcode 2 days ago 1 reply      
Code by Charles Petzold. It's made me think about computers in another light. AND to be amazed at how simple things (input/output, on/off) can add up to really big and complex systems.
bherms 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not tech related, but I loved Devil in the White City by Larson and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig.

Also, I reread Rework about 3 times this year. Always a good and quick read.

yock 2 days ago 1 reply      
Re-read a classic fiction, Treasure Island by Stephenson.

Of the non-fiction I read, and completed, this year, Endurance: Shackelton's Incredible Voyage by Lansing.

Nick_C 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anathem - Neal Stephenson. Recommended here last year, it blew my mind in a similar way to Name of the Rose but with a sci-fi theme.

Dr Zhivago - Boris Pasternak. If you have not read any of the Russians, give this a go. Initially it is not easy, like all Russian literature, but the wonderfully poetic images and lyricism keep drawing you back. Easily my favourite for the year.

Cardinal 2 days ago 0 replies      
It has to be Java Concurrency in Practice. Even though it has Java in its name I think every programmer should read this.

Other books I absolutely loved are Effective Java 2 and Programming Interviews Exposed. I'm waiting for Amazon to ship me the second edition of the latter.

Hackers and Painters is a classic I default to whenever I'm looking for inspiration.

iamandrus 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It's a really good book for starting entrepreneurs.
alrex021 2 days ago 0 replies      
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

Peter Singer introduced and popularized the term "speciesism" in the book that is often referred to as the bible of the animal rights movement.

juanre 2 days ago 2 replies      
Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow". It's a great account of things we know about how the mind works, with amazing insights.
mindcrime 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm... there have been a few, and I'd have to look through my "read books stack" to remind myself exactly which ones fell into 2011 and not prior years... but offhand, I'd mention:


Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson

Zero History - William Gibson

11/22/63 - Stephen King

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss


Ghost in the Wires - Kevin Mitnick

The Elegant Universe - Brian Greene

The Trouble With Physics - Lee Smolin

Not Even Wrong - Peter Woit

The Lean Startup - Eric Ries

Blue Ocean Strategy - W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Built To Last - Jim Collins

Business Model Generation - Alexander Osterwalder

Started, but unfinished, may yet make the list:

Simulacra and Simulation - Jean Baudrillard

Reamde - Neal Stephenson

The Fabric of the Cosmos - Brian Greene

Confusion 2 days ago 0 replies      
Professionally, The Art of Project Management did the most for me.

Privately, general-fiction-wise, The Wind-up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami did the most for me.

Privately, SF-wise, three books by Kurt Vonnegut: Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-five and The Sirens of Titan

ElliotH 2 days ago 0 replies      
It took me 2010 as well as 2011, but I really enjoyed Godel, Escher Bach now I've finally got through it. It's hard going, but I can't think of a book that chnaged what I think about the world as much as that book has.
veidr 2 days ago 0 replies      
My choice is Spin, a novel by Robert Charles Wilson (2005).

This is IMO the very best kind of sci-fi: a plausible, scientifically grounded story about interesting people experiencing some fascinating shit.

Wilson is a great writer, too; I hadn't heard of him previously, but have since read a bunch of his works.

(As an aside, there has never been a year in my life where the best book of the year for me was a nonfiction title. Am I weird?)


dudurocha 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice thread! My favorite books this year were:

The power of Less: http://amzn.to/t4umWo . It discuss how you can simplify your life. It give many practical advices, and is good for all kinds of people. The message in the book is " be aware and simplify".

Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky. By Sarah Lacy, former writer fo techcrunch. http://amzn.to/vMJwhR. It show how the entrepreneurship and startups are going around the world. As a brazilian reader, I find the picture of brazil very accurate, so the rest of the world must be accurate too. It's a good resource for anyone wanting to understand and know the startup community in countries like India, China, Brazil, Indonesia and others.

If you want to write, by brenda Ueland ,http://amzn.to/w5gQyz: It's a nice book about the craftsmanship of writing. It's a bit 'philosophic' book, but also give a little practical advice. It's and old book, don't be amazed when it refer to the typewriter. And it's very cheap, only 3,99.

And to finish, time warrior, by steve chandler. http://amzn.to/vNBawK If you want a book to beat procrastination, and other modern plagues, this is the book. very practical advice, the book has more then 100 tips. Every should read it.

Thats my favorite books of this year, apart of the ones everyone has talked about, like Steve Jobs bio, Lean Startup, and others startup world books.

motxilo 3 days ago 1 reply      
"A little history of the world" by E.H. Gombrich. I've never been too enthusiastic about History in general, but I couldn't put this book down until finished.
CoffeeDregs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best book every year since I read it every year: The Tree of Knowledge. Given how grounded I am in computers, it's important to know what it is to be human. The book starts with simple micro biology and ends by explaining the biological foundation of love. it's the only book I've read that literally changed the way I see the works (and if you read the book you'll know that I mean "literally" in the most literal sense).

It's a difficult book, but some excellent reading guides exist do I highly recommend giving it a read.

babebridou 2 days ago 0 replies      
I often got back to Playing to Win by David Sirlin - http://www.sirlin.net/ptw/

Though it's certainly aimed at competitive gaming, I also use it at times as an inspiration for my business. It helps whenever I need to take a second look and play the devil's advocate about my own decisions. Reading it also earned me an extremely effective weapon against procrastination.

joshz 2 days ago 0 replies      
The one I've enjoyed the most, was probably "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" but additionally read a couple that kept being mentioned on here:

* A Random Walk Down Wall Street

* Predictably Irrational

* Black Swan

* Blink

and enjoyed those too. I've also read "How To Make Friends and Influence People" and started "Lords of Finance" but never finished.

meow 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read "Wheel of time" series by Robert Jordan this year. The books in this series are just so addictive.. wasn't able to stop till I read all thirteen books :)
jvandenbroeck 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, old but definitely worth the read. Changes the way you look at things.
bumbledraven 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quite possibly the best book I ever read in my life came out in 2011: The Beginning of Infinity by quantum physicist David Deutsch. http://amzn.to/mSTNCn

It talks about the kinds of ideas that lead to progress in human societies and those that lead to stagnation. I believe Deutsch is, in this book, the first philosopher to actually explain why science works as well as it does. I wish I could do justice to this book in a short review, but instead I can only urge everyone reading this to give it a shot. Read the first chapter, and you'll know you have to read the rest.

beagle3 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Left in the dark" - a theory about how our mind works. It is either crackpot or one of the most amazing discoveries of the last few decades. Hard to tell which, but it is a very interesting read regardless.


lvillani 2 days ago 0 replies      
- "Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship" by Robert C. Martin

- "Physics for Future Presidents" by Richard Muller

Not really a book but I found the "MIT Guide to Lock Picking" an interesting read.

kd5bjo 2 days ago 0 replies      
* The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

* Dune, by Frank Herbert

rhizome31 3 days ago 1 reply      
Tech: Code by Charles Petzold

Novel: Invisible by Paul Auster

Essay: Après la démocratie (French) by Emmanuel Todd

libraryatnight 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick -- Fascinating to have some insight into Dick's thinking and attempts to understand his experiences. The book isn't really something to just sit down and read cover to cover, but more to explore and move around in, but if you love Philip K. Dick it's awesome.
rahulrg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I enjoyed James Gleick's The Information. Wonderful book from one of the best science writers around.
bmcleod 2 days ago 1 reply      
Poor Economics - Changed my views on some areas of how to combat poverty and poor education. As well as relating a huge amount a detail regarding the unexpected ways people with different backgrounds behave.
gwern 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pinker's _Better Angels_. Mind-blowingly detailed and thorough.
dejv 2 days ago 1 reply      
Speaking of business books: Growing a business (old but still valid and great) and Setting the Table.

Speaking of fiction I want to recommend Neil Gainman The Graveyard Book

bogdand 3 days ago 2 replies      
Victor Hugo ~ Les Misérables
Maro 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Art of Readable Code

Best book on software engineering in a good while.

nodemaker 2 days ago 0 replies      
The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind - Julian Jaynes

Very Powerful Read!

chad_oliver 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just finished reading "The Origin of Political Order", which was recommended by Venkatesh Rao. It's refreshing to read an overview of world history that doesn't focus on kings and kingdoms, but rather on the underlying causes. This book covers some dense material, but remains readable at all times. Highly recommended.
sandal 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Penguin and the Leviathan. It is an interesting mix of science and anecdotal evidence which hints that most people, most of the time, would actually benefit more from cooperative behavior than they would from competitive behavior.


yannickt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Solar Trillions, by Tony Seba. The book makes a strong case for seven market opportunities for solar energy. A great read that got me interested in clean tech.
maeon3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Audio book for Tim Sanders, the Likeability Factor.


I listened to this twice, and applied everything he said to do in my life. I went from a lonely programmer to an extrovert in 18 months. He put Extroversion into words a programmer can understand, as lists of instructions. Now i have so many friends I have to prioritize time with them.

train_robber 3 days ago 0 replies      
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
bulte-rs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best read for me is actually a non-tech book; the Dutch "Hoe hoort het eigenlijk" (roughly translated as: "how it should be done") which is considered "the Dutch Etiquette Bible". There is not enough courtesy and etiquette in this world.

That, and I really liked SICP (finally got off the shelf).

szcukg 3 days ago 2 replies      
A song of Ice and Fire series
adnam 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber, an anthropoligical look at the history of money, morality and the nature of debt.
jberryman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everything and More - David Foster Wallace

It's a book on the history of math, focused around the story of math's struggle to deal with infinity. There's really nothing like it. (okay, technically I still haven't finished it, but it's still 2011)

jlarocco 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing most HN readers won't be too interested in this list, but here goes:

Instant Karma: The Heart & Soul of a Ski Bum

Wild Snow: 54 Classic Ski and Snowboard Descents of North America

Roof of the Rockies: A History of Colorado Mountaineering

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

Computational Geometry: Algorithms and Applications

zachwill 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought Designers Don't Read was great (don't let the name fool you). It's basically an art director's take on advertising and design with bits of history and insights thrown in: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581156650
serverdude 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The Moral Landscape" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143917122X/) by Sam Harris

The book discusses how science can be used to deal with questions on morality.

miles_matthias 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rework. Also, "The Long Run" by Matt Long. Mr. Long wrote a book about his experience as a NYC firefighter who, a few days after qualifying for the Boston marathon, got run over by a bus while riding his bike and literally got split in half up to his chest. Almost two years later, he ran the New York City marathon and went on to do the ironman. Insanely great story and the book is a good read. His story was inspiring to never give up.
mashmac2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Man's Search For Meaning by Victor Frankel.

It was recommended by several friends, and I finally got around to reading it. Helped, along with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to work through my personal thought process. Highly recommended.

hello_moto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Personally for me The Bible is and has always been. I'm not a religious fanatics but The Bible has taught me how to live life no matter how hard life is so that's good enough for me.

Lately I've been reading old books as well from Og Mandino. Ditto with technical books: books from the 70's, 80's, 90's are quite good. The rest are... "OK".

anatoly 3 days ago 1 reply      

  * Anne Tyler, Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant
* Gene Wolfe, Peace
* Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

tyohn 2 days ago 0 replies      
What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly - I highly recommend reading this book. The title describes what the book is about ~ as a hacker it might just make you rethink everything you do.
yurylifshits 2 days ago 0 replies      
Onward by Howard Schultz

Howard has returned to CEO post at Starbucks just before the crisis of 2008. A great story about turnaround effort.

wqfeng 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it necessary to be books published in 2011? If not, Calculus Made Easy is the best book I read in 2011.
freshfey 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger" by Peter Bevelin. Excellent read.
dimmuborgir 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography" by Julian Young.
mickeyben 2 days ago 0 replies      
Night train to lisbon - Pascal Mercier

It's about a professor who quits his job and his country to explore the life of an author he just discovered.

nickhould 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. Founders At Work. Biographical - "Entrepreneurship stories at it's best"
2. Rework. Business-Book - "Think your business different"
3. Into Thin Air. Biographical . "An Everest Expedition Turn Wrong"
4. I Was Blind But Now I see. Biographical. "Leave Your Job, Start Your Business. Make Your Money Work For You, Don't Work For Your Money"
5. Anything You Want. Biographical. "Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what's not working. "
jasondrowley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers
It's about a "resident humanist" at a research institution who makes an improbable bet with a computer scientist/AI researcher. For people in tech, it's a fantastic read.
MengYuanLong 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am loving this thread. There are so many wonderful suggestions.

My personal additions (though I know they are not obscure):

Down and Out in Disneyland - Cory Doctorow (This was gifted by a friend and really inspired me to make some significant changes in my life. That includes the decision to learn to code and escape the user end of the spectrum.)

Procrastination- Jane B. Burka , Lenora M. Yuen (This book has fundamentally altered my introspective conclusions. That is to say, I am now more aware of times when I am procrastinating and the impact it has on my life.)

This year was a great year for reading and I hope to read even more next year.

drumdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're a self-consciously hip music snob like me, two works of fiction you will enjoy are:

Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

alisey 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Picturing the Uncertain World" by Howard Wainer.

- World record improves linearly for over 50 years, for how long will the trend continue?

- Is it OK not to rescore erroneously high SAT scores?

- Why among examinees who get the same SAT score White examinees do better on easy items, whereas Black examinees do better on hard items?

- How comes that areas with the lowest and the highest kidney cancer death rate are rural areas?

rasmus4200 2 days ago 0 replies      
The War of Art

Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles.

Many books mentioned here are good, this is the only I haven't seen referenced. But this one book really helped me deal with resistance and get stuff done. Seth Godin is a big fan and references it a lot in his material.

Steven Pressfield also wrote 'The Legend of Bagger Vance' and Gates of Fire (Spartan 300 kind of book but way deeper).

aba_sababa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Consider the Lobster - essays by DFW

Startup Nation - discourse on startups in Israel

Tempo - narrative strategy by Venkatesh Rao - REALLY good read, distilled and full of gold

ntkachov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Design for Hackers by David Kadavy. Besides being informative it was really really interesting to read. Really opened my eyes to a lot of the things designers do deliberately and not just because "its pretty".
fduran 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life"

"The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin"

"The toilet paper entrepreneur"

"The lean startup"

"Anything you want"

svec 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Accelerando" by Charles Stross. I think this was the third time I read it. There will be a 4th, and a 5th, ...

It's a very interesting idea of how "The Singularity" might look.

rimantas 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Lila" (http://www.amazon.com/Lila-Inquiry-Morals-Robert-Pirsig/dp/0... ) gave me most food for thought this year.
schnaars 2 days ago 0 replies      
In no order:
- Word Catcher - http://amzn.to/s1Ykku
- The Postmortal - http://amzn.to/rpaQyL
- Moonwalking with Einstein - http://amzn.to/tDkRkY
- The Post American World - http://amzn.to/4ex38B
xn--ls8h 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Go the F--k to Sleep", by Adam Mansbach. It's a great book that's helped me much in my personal life. I used to have trouble falling asleep at night, often finding myself worrying about issues that had come up during the day, and being unable to put work away when I needed to sleep. Since reading it, I've found that I can put away these fears and problems far better than I could before. I highly recommend it to anyone who has trouble sleeping from time to time.
momo-reina 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov
Orion series by Ben Bova
Stranger in a Stange Land, Farnham's Freehold by Robert Heinlein
davee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
tmeasday 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey guys, just made a little Bindle of some of the choices you've made, for those of you who like a more visual perspective: http://bindle.me/bindles/298.

My contribution:

"Devices and Desires" by KJ Parker: An interesting fantasy book that is centered around an engineer---his unique take on complex human situations might appeal to the more analytical amongst us.

vm 2 days ago 2 replies      
* Steve Jobs biography. I couldn't put it down and I'm shocked there aren't more fans on HN

For those who liked Malkiel's Random Walk, read:

* Ben Graham's Intelligent Investor

* Philip Fisher's Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
They counter Malkiel's thesis (yup, he's wrong) and Warren Buffet credits both men for teaching him how to invest. True classics.

christiangenco 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Incognito - The Secret Lives of the Brain" (http://amzn.com/0307377334) blew me away. Very interesting read on the current understanding of how the brain/consciousness work and the implications of these models on free will, etc.

I've now given it as a present no less than 4 times and counting.

teja1990 2 days ago 1 reply      
Mine are :

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, I just love this book!

Greatest Trade Ever by Gregory Zuckerman.

And I read manga , so include One Piece as well :D

mcdowall 2 days ago 0 replies      
The 33 by Jonathan Franklin, but aside from that, most of the recommendations by Derek Sivers.
fcardinaux 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Enchantment", by Guy Kawasaki

"Rework", by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

"Web Design for Developers", by Brian P. Hogan

"Scalability Rules", by Martin L. Abbott and Michael T. Fisher

zooz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Incognito: The Secret Lives of The Brain - David Eagleman.

A much recommended read.


navan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Wheelan, Charles

Economics explained in the most intuitive way.

On a related note I started an account at goodreads.com at the start of this year. It is great for keeping track of what you read and to find books for future reading.

pilap82 3 days ago 0 replies      
Open Services Innovation from Henry Chesbrough
cpt1138 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lean Startup, got it for X-MAS.
samaraga 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Godel,Escher,Bach by Douglas Hofstadter.
bolu 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Emperor of All Maladies - spectacular journey into the history of the disease. Filled with great human stories of discovery, and also taught me a ton about the currently understood biology of cancer.
david927 3 days ago 0 replies      
Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"
obtu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Declare, by Tim Powers. Very well-written and convincing, considering the subject matter (a spy thriller with elements of horror).
g3orge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Linux in a nutshell.
Best book for Linux noobs and pros.
makatiguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd have to recommend "Holy War" by Nigel Cliff.

Great read about how one little tiny country (Portugal)in Europe ended being the first colonial power through their dominance of the seas, spice trade and their desire to see Islam vanquished.

markkat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August.
naithemilkman 2 days ago 1 reply      
a bit late to the party but ender's game for fiction, gantz for manga, founders at work for non fiction
kgosser 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The Information" by James Gleick
vilts 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength" by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.

Really good book about willpower, mental fatigue, dieting, working etc. Lots of nice examples and tips to improve different aspects of your life.

pardner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Game Theory At work by James Miller is a great non-mathematical description of key game theory and how to apply it in real life. I consider it to be a must-read for any entrepreneur.
ptabatt 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The God Delusion" - Dawkins

Very blunt and mean. But also convincing...

rcamera 2 days ago 0 replies      
Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. Highly recommended for anyone who has discipline problems, it is really inspiring, one of the top 3 books I've read. It tells the history of the real samurai named Miyamoto Musashi.
mikecsh 3 days ago 0 replies      
On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins
daniel_iversen 2 days ago 0 replies      
In no particular order, the best ones I read this year on top of my mind are:
- enchantment by guy kawasaki
- rework by 37signals
- the prince (machiavelli?)
- the 4 hour work week (ferris?)
SanjeevSharma 2 days ago 0 replies      
I posted my list in this recent blog post: http://dundat.com/blog/2011/11/30/a-wannabe-founder/
alexanderberman 2 days ago 0 replies      
In no particular order:

* Boomerang by Michael Lewis

* Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

* The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

* The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

aestetix_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tied between "The Once and Future King" by T. H. White and "The Baroque Cycle" (yes, all three volumes) by Neal Stephenson.
ljy 2 days ago 0 replies      
- The 4 Hours Work Week (Tim Ferriss)
- The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)
Santas 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
sdoering 2 days ago 1 reply      
Two (fiction) Books, I really read in one piece:

Deamon & Freedom from Daniel Suarez

Non Fiction:

Black Swan - N.N. Taleb
Anything you want - Derek Sivers

ncarroll 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fiction: The Poisionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Non-Fiction: Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up, by Patricia Ryan Madison.

Edited for formatting

capkutay 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd say it's a tie between 2 books by Jonathan Safran Foer:

"Everything is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close".

pradheap 1 day ago 0 replies      
'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer' by Siddhartha Mukherjee
pknerd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Eat That Frog by Brain Tracy. An excellent read to get rid of procrastination.
bleakgadfly 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship" by Uncle Bob.
laironald 3 days ago 0 replies      
"No Higher Honor" - Condoleeza Rice. An amazingly accomplished person that is humble enough to analyze her own thinking process.
mosjeff 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

Completely changed the way I think about success and my future.

arank 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1986) from Carl Sagan.
studiomohawk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke.
autumn_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised I'm not seeing more 1Q84 here.
linuxrulz 3 days ago 1 reply      
API Design for C++ - Martin Reddy
brettweaverio 2 days ago 0 replies      
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

The Lean Startup - Eric Reis

Rework - 37signals

vishaldpatel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Chapterhouse Dune.
martinvanaken 2 days ago 0 replies      
For work : Rework, from 37signals. Fresh, opinionated and funny.

For leisure : A Dance with Dragons, from Georges R.R. Martin "Game of Thrones" series (the HBO version is superb, but do not miss the books either).

james-fend 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Fast Lane by MJ Demarco

You won't regret it.

alanav 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Physics of the Impossible" by Michio Kaku
amrnt 3 days ago 0 replies      
forkrulassail 2 days ago 0 replies      
Neuropath - R Scott Bakker.
deStab 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
mtimur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tangled Web by Michal Zalewski.
djb10401 2 days ago 0 replies      
I read a lot this year. Catch-22 was hilarious, insightful, and my personal favorite.
dkberktas 3 days ago 0 replies      
"How We Decide" from John Lehrer
kurtvarner 3 days ago 0 replies      
Second the Lean Startup
largepuma 3 days ago 0 replies      
My choice is "Hackers and Painters" in Chinese edition, though it is first pressed in 2004.
omarchowdhury 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rene Guenon's Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta

Bhagavad Gita - Recension by William Quan Judge

Did WakeMate fold?
10 points by lutorm  14 hours ago   4 comments top 3
spking 14 hours ago 1 reply      
From 12 hours ago: "Hi everyone! Think we had a data overload! Hit a snag in going back online due to the holidays. Hoping tomorrow, will update everyone then!"
spydertennis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey guys, website just went down temporarily. Think we had a data overload. Should be back up tonight, will continue sending out further updates via twitter!
dwrowe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Not according to their Twitter feed. https://twitter.com/#!/wakemate

Not a customer though, so I don't know for sure.

Ask HN: What's a great email deliverability service?
17 points by _sentient  17 hours ago   22 comments top 13
old-gregg 17 hours ago 1 reply      
http://mailgun.net - we're not just yet another email deliverability service, we are a fully featured ESP for apps: our servers aren't simple senders, they can host mailboxes, handle replies and bounce mail as well. If you do everything right, all your mail will go to Inbox.

Full disclaimer: I am one of the cofounders.

stevelosh 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I've only tried Postmark ( http://postmarkapp.com/ ), but they've always done exactly what I needed with no problems so I never bothered looking elsewhere. Their Python library is great (they even have a Django email backend for it).

If they don't have a wrapper library for your particular language, their web service is simple enough that you can write your own in less than a hundred lines: https://github.com/sjl/clojure-postmark/blob/master/src/post...

(I'm not affiliated with Postmark, I'm just a happy customer)

nixme 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Mailgun (http://mailgun.net/). The guys over there care a lot about email and deliverability. Their support is prompt and always helpful. Can't recommend them enough.

(I'm not affiliated, just really pleased with their service).

raghus 17 hours ago 2 replies      
SendGrid (http://sendgrid.com). My app's email needs are more modest (in the several thousands per month rather than the millions) but I've never ever had to worry one minute about an email not reaching the recipient since I went with SendGrid.

(Not affiliated with them - just a happy customer)

juddlyon 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Sendgrid is fantastic. Well-documented, easy-to-use, and full-featured. We recently set it up for a client and were impressed with the stats in particular.

Postmark looks nice too. I'd be inclined to trust my money to the same crew that runs Beanstalk.

SoftwareMaven 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems like a good read to ask a question I have: my app needs to be able to send mail as the user of the app. I would prefer not to get SMTP credentials from users. I know SMTP will allow an envelope to be written by somebody else, but it is also a flag for spam. Is there a way (links would be great) to not be flagged as spam? Do third party mailers support this?
KenCochrane 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I have used socketlabs.com and sendgrid.com, they are about the same in features and price. Amazon SES is still fairly new and doesn't have all the same features, but is much cheaper.

If you want to get on the email whitelists you might want to check out returnpath.net or SuretyMail.com

jontas 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Sailthru (https://www.sailthru.com/) is a good one. API is easy to use and they offer a level of analytics that is far more advanced than what most other companies can offer.

Disclaimer: I am not a Sailthru employee but I have done a number of integrations for clients of theirs.

ricofish 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's some other deatails on our mail..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3ftheAFHjQ

    Ideal for high volume (bulk) or single (transactional) email
Connect from SMTP or API
Intelligent queuing & message delivery
RepCheck reputation monitoring tool
Open, read and click tracking
Self-adjusted throttling by ISP
Dedicated IP(s) available
SPF/Domain Key Creation Tool
Spam complaint & bounce reporting
Suppression Lists for each user
24/7 tech support
Account management
Global deliverability monitoring

csmcdermott 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I've set up AuthSMTP (http://www.authsmtp.com/) for a number of sites, and they've been super reliable. I don't think they have an API or anything fancy, but they are extremely cheap at low volumes.
tobias_herkula 16 hours ago 0 replies      
if you can handle your amount of mail, set up spf and working rdns records for your sending domain, implement dkim and use returnpath. no need for an esp if you don't need advanced reporting and campaign management features...

i'm a deliverability manager for an european esp...

SePP 17 hours ago 1 reply      
We use sendgrid and are pretty happy with deliverability rates (we have our own dedicated IP with them). I know postmark and amazon SES offer similar features but never used them.
chrisgo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Mailgun is great!
Ask HN: Possible to take automatic screenshot of webpage at same time each day?
6 points by bengalu  14 hours ago   6 comments top 6
veidr 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It'd be dead easy with PhantomJS. A script to do it would look something like:


    p = new WebPage()

p.open "http://example.com/whatever", (status) ->
console.log "‚ėÜ„ÄÄLOAD STATUS: #{status}"
p.render "/Users/Shared/screenshot.png"


If you want to get fancy, you can code your script to render only a subregion of the page. Phantom can automate pretty much anything you can do yourself with a browser.


dre_lesa 13 hours ago 0 replies      
if you can't find it and you need it. ...MAKE it! ,or pay some one to make it and monetize it. anyway the links given should be good.
cl8ton 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Not quite a snapshot but diphur.com checks each hour 24/7 for changes and presents you with what only changed.
instakill 13 hours ago 0 replies      
check out url2png
JulianMiller520 13 hours ago 0 replies      
would love this!
Ask HN: Bluehost went down for me for half a day -- is that normal?
4 points by uberc  18 hours ago   9 comments top 5
bmelton 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't speak for BlueHost, but bad neighbors are hard to deal with in pure 'shared hosting' environments, and are regrettably unpredictable, and hence harder to mitigate against.

I've had similar problems in the past with Dreamhost and its ilk.

For a little more money, you can switch out to Linode which is at least VM-based instead of fully-shared platform, but the tradeoff is that it is more expensive, and you also have to administer your own services. It's also possible that you lose some of the burstability of a shared hosting platform as the caps are hard caps.

ohashi 18 hours ago 1 reply      
BlueHost doesn't rate all that badly on the shared hosting chart (I am tracking this data - they are 6 out of 19 among some of largest providers). That sort of behavior sounds like crap, but it happens to most of them because of the nature of shared hosting. I am not sure that half a day to get a SQL load under control is normal though. I've had hosts just suspend my account right away when I go over or they kill the offending script.
sgricci 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Had similar experiences with DreamHost, the server load avg was 13!!! nearly all the time. For 20$/mo, I got a linode and have never looked back.
steventruong 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This can happen with any shared hosting environment. Bluehost is no exception.
Ask HN: Stackmob/Parse/Kinvey-like FOSS project?
3 points by backendpupil  11 hours ago   5 comments top 2
bmelton 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The answer, as best I can tell, is to use Linode and their 'StackScripts' deployment process.[1]

I just checked, and there's a stack for Apache, MySQL and Ruby [2], or this one[3], which is an Nginx config with Passenger.

It won't write the code for you, but you can have a StackScript deployed in almost no time at all, and Linode is a great host that is reasonably priced. It doesn't automatically scale like some other cloud solutions, but with StackScripts, git, and a load balancer StackScripted box in front of them, you can scale out pretty easily.

[1] - http://www.linode.com/stackscripts/
[2] - http://www.linode.com/stackscripts/view/?StackScriptID=207
[3] - http://www.linode.com/stackscripts/view/?StackScriptID=1291

aespinoza 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Why do you want to maintain your own web stack?

I ask this, because my start-up is building a BaaS and we are testing our idea, where our main hypothesis is that developers don't want to host/maintain these services, they just want to be able to create them and use them.

If you really aren't interested in setting up the environment to perform logic, access a DB and serve JSON, then why look for something that isn't hosted?

Whatever framework and/tools you find, you still need to maintain right?

Ask HN: The most interesting/weird interview question you've been asked?
5 points by lowglow  15 hours ago   6 comments top 3
lowglow 11 hours ago 1 reply      

Imagine that you have a non-session-persisting load balancer in front of
a cluster of web servers (n >= 3). Since this load balancer doesn't
direct requests in any persistent fashion, a user making subsequent
requests may be directed to any of the servers available in the cluster
in a non-deterministic manner. In your application, you need to handle
image uploads from users, and as soon as the upload is finished, you
need to show the user their uploaded image. This creates a problem for
you because after an upload, the load balancer may direct the user to a
web server which does not have the users recently uploaded image
resulting in a 404 Not Found for the image request and a poor user

In the current system, an rsync process runs every 5 minutes and copies
uploaded images around to each server so that every server has every
file, eventually. This isn't a very optimal solution because users may
not see their uploaded images for up to 5 minutes depending on which
server they are connecting to for any given request and it forces every
server to have a copy of every image uploaded, which may not be the most
scalable solution.

Assuming you could not modify the load balancer, how would you redesign
or fix this system so that files are uploaded in a way that it doesn't
matter which server in a cluster a user connects to in order to be able
to satisfy a request for the file? There are many ways to solve this
problem. Please describe one or more ways and discuss the pros and cons
of your solution(s). If your solution is very simple (not a bad thing),
consider offering a couple alternate solutions so we have a strong
understanding of how you evaluate and approach problems.


My Response:

Basically that this was poor architecture and didn't make sense. They shouldn't be using their web servers as a file store. They didn't like that.

kls 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I was recently asked given a variable amount of parameters passed into a JavaScript function how would you sum all of the parameters. My answer was I would not write JavaScript code like that, and would fire anyone on my team that did. Needless to say I did not get the job, nor did I want it. I have been critical of this type of interviewing for a long time. Trick questions and magic code really provide little insight to the value of a candidate. Further most interviewers do not have the clinical background to even interpret the results as many of these questions are based off of psychological tests. It's a cargo cult mentality and reflects poorly on an organization.
damoncali 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"If you were a piece of fruit, would you rather be one still on the tree or one that had fallen to the ground?"
Ask HN: Playing the role of a "jack of all trades" in a self-funded startup
5 points by praveenaj  17 hours ago   8 comments top 3
billpatrianakos 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a one man shop and I'm into 2 startups. I have no staff and until yesterday I didn't even have any techie friends that I could count on to even advise me or do me small favors or even network. I'm one year in and my first startup is growing tremendously. Now with my second one I'm in the same position as you - just starting it.

So yes, you can do just fine on your own. The question is should you? Employees cost money and should probably be out of the question until you see some traction. If you really need some help I would say either get a partner (someone who is in it with you whose income depends on his work just as much as yours. No fixed salary, he gets the same deal as you with some revenue sharing deal - that's one difference between an employee and a partner) or you outsource any work you can't do yourself or need quicker.

Other than that you really don't need a second person if you don't want one. I can tell you from experience that working solo can really suck. I just closed out my first year and I know that if I had a partner or some other support that I could have grown the business exponentially. Having other people around pushes you, motivates you, let's you blow off steam, destress, etc. it's always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. They can be very valuable and get you thinking in ways you wouldn't have before.

Flying solo is hard but there's no reason you can't. Having people to work with can be a valuable luxury but don't be fooled by what everyone says, flying solo is not a recipe for failure. Not even close.

dangrossman 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There have been numerous solo founder startups funded by YC. Some of them were successful.

I've been making a living doing what you describe (idea -> design&code -> customer support&marketing) on my own for most of my life... I was 14 when I launched my first profitable website, I'm 27 now and support some 100k users myself.

If you're aiming to be a world-changing business, you'll eventually be hiring other people. I'm satisfied dealing with my couple hundred new customers a month, which I can support on my own, and who support my lifestyle.

steventruong 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Your image logo dude looks pixelated.

So far I have been able to plan and launch the "magic page" for my new startup on my own.

Magic page as in LaunchRock? I have no clue what you mean here. I also have no clue how to answer your question in regards to your approach as it basically doesn't say anything. Its super vague.

As for can't afford to partner up with another co-founder, that also makes no sense. If you partner with someone, why would you need to pay them. Why would your bootstrapped money earned from 99designs matter? Unless you were talking about "hiring" someone.

Ask HN: What flavor of Linux do you run in the cloud and why?
5 points by brettweaverio  18 hours ago   5 comments top 3
bmelton 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I've got a few servers personally that I run, all are either Debian or Ubuntu. That's what I run on my laptop and desktop, so it makes it easier for me to develop locally.

With virtualenv, github, fabric, etc., deploying isn't as much of a challenge as it used to be, but I like to keep it as straightforward as possible.

For the day job, we use RedHat Enterprise, because our target market is enterprise, and that's the most widely accepted Enterprise Linux distro in the enterprise.

I'm not a particularly big fan of RH-based distros, but I vastly prefer RH to Solaris or Windows, so I count my blessings.

jeramey 15 hours ago 0 replies      
At my day job, we run CentOS 5 on EC2 instead of Amazon Linux because we actually run a hybrid local-node/EC2-cluster and it is easier to verify software builds on a single platform rather than two of them. The distribution we use actually doesn't matter a whole lot, though, as long as it is consistent between what we can install locally and what we can install on EC2. Our choice is actually constrained by what Amazon offers for the node types we primarily use (cc1.4xlarge).
timClicks 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu, largely because I came to Linux via Ubuntu and understand its idioms. Over time, I've noticed that documentation for most open source projects includes Ubuntu, which helps.
       cached 30 December 2011 10:05:01 GMT