hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    9 Jan 2012 Ask
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Ask HN: Why doesn't this exist? Signing ecommerce transactions.
3 points by SMrF  34 minutes ago   1 comment top
wmf 1 minute ago 0 replies      
The whole credit card pipeline has been optimized to the point that no additional authentication is beneficial. If you want to talk about replacing cards, that's a different story.
Ask HN: Which is a good iPad app for Hacker News
5 points by scorpion032  1 hour ago   1 comment top
zeynalov 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
There is no perfect HN iPad app. I bought all of them but there is only 1 good designed from usability perspective, it's called Hacker News HD for iPad but it crashes after using it non-stop more than 1 hour or so without restarting app. Sometimes you need to delete and reinstall. So I tired of it, now I made a Homescreen bookmark for the website, it's the best way to browse HN.
Ask HN: Best tool for writing an e-book
6 points by mixmax  2 hours ago   13 comments top 8
DanielBMarkham 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Having just wrote a blog last week, "E-books are not easy!" I really can't tell you that it's going to be easy :)

I wrote mine by looking at the EPUB format and setting up gedit and a bash script. Here's a nice guide for all of it: http://www.jedisaber.com/eBooks/Introduction.shtml. Once you run the script, there's a nice little epub-checker over here: http://threepress.org/document/epub-validate/

From there, Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) will load/translate your epub file. Also it will load it to your devices for checking. As much as I like complaining about formats and such, I found this process very similar to writing a website -- lots of xhthml and xml. Nothing too tough.

Once you're done, then there's finding a publisher. Amazon will take a MOBI file, LuLu takes an epub, etc.

There are a zillion details to writing an e-book. If your question is narrowly-targeted at "how do I physically make an e-book" then the answer is not so bad. I did it all from scratch. There are a bunch of third-party tools that will help you also.

svmegatron 31 minutes ago 1 reply      
Boat living high five! My wife and I lived on a boat for the last two years; we're back on land now while we downsize to a smaller boat.

If there's a HNer out there who wants to try this, I have a boat for sale that's fully equipped for liveaboard mobile consulting!

nsfmc 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The best tool is probably whatever you use to make webpages.

epub is basically a simple variant of html that uses xml to deal with chapters and assets. You zip the whole bundle up and rename it and bam! epub!

http://blog.threepress.org/ is probably the best and most useful resource for learning about this sorta thing, half of the stuff is random tech and the other half is stuff to get it done.

another thing: amazon's kindlegen is actually a great resource if you're targeting that platform. You can generate a mobi file pretty easily and their example is actually incredibly resource-rich.

But really, the whole thing is just a webpage wrapper with limited css and no js, so go nuts and have fun.

polyfractal 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've seen Leanpub (http://leanpub.com/) mentioned in the last few ebook threads. If I understand correctly, you write in markdown and save it to a shared Dropbox folder. They handle all the compiling for you.

I'm writing an ebook about nootropics right now and am using Scrivener. It's really great for organizing and rearranging your content. It's an executable, but if you save the files to Dropbox you can work on it anywhere (which has Scrivener installed)

revorad 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
ohgodthecat 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'd say if you like markdown or text files you should take a look at pandoc and using it to convert to your epub see here: http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/epub.html
riskish 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
isn't adobe indesign the most popular choice for this?
ErikRogneby 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Are you looking to sell it on the Amazon Kindle? If so then it will need to be in doc format. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2RYO17T...

If you are comfortable with MS Word, it is available online: http://office.live.com/

I think the most important thing is that whatever you use it be something you are comfortable with.

Show HN: My open source form builder
9 points by hb  4 hours ago   4 comments top 3
combiclickwise 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nicely done. Thanks a lot.
nodata 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool. Does it do validation? I tried creating a number field and entering text but I got no warning.
Show HN: Send an email to push@gitmanual.org or ls-tree@gitmanual.org
24 points by Loic  7 hours ago   4 comments top
philh 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious, is there a significant number of people who need the manual for a git command, but can't do `git help command`?
Ask HN: Early employee salaries for startups in The Netherlands / Europe?
35 points by throwaway1  10 hours ago   26 comments top 9
micheljansen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's rather hard to say and it really depends on the company and your expertise, but expect from €2500 and up (depending on other benefits) for a starter position fresh out of college/university. In the Randstad, I would try to get closer to €3000 out of it, as the cost of living is rather high. Good luck and veel plezier in Nederland ;)
throwaway1 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the comments so far. I should have said (but can't edit that anymore) that I'm also interested in what would be a reasonable percentage of equity to suggest at a meeting.

To expand a little:

- I'm dutch

- I don't have to move

- I have got a wife, kids and a mortgage

- I've got about 15 - 20 years of experience depending on how you look at it. Starting with: 68000 assembler, C, C++, Java, JavaScript, web front-end and back-end, Lisp and now iOS although I'm just getting up to speed with the latter. I've got Open Source projects on GitHub, a blog I post technical things to a couple of times per year. I'm pretty up-to-date on technical things: call me an average HN reader.

I might be giving away too much for a throwaway account now.

wsc981 8 hours ago 1 reply      
As a 30 year old iOS developer working in Rotterdam I earn about 43000 annually with a 40 hour work week. I do believe a should be able to get a bit more, as iOS developers seem quite rare in the Netherlands and I believe lots of companies are looking for good iOS developers. I should explain I'm not working in a startup - I would guess in a startup people would generally be paid worse.

If you understand Dutch, perhaps a good forum to get a better idea what would be an appropriate salary, you should check out the "Werk & Inkomen" sub forum of the Dutch technology website Tweakers.net.

See: http://gathering.tweakers.net/forum/list_messages/1446515/la...

tluyben2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are some really nice jobs; http://forum.nedlinux.nl/viewforum.php?id=14 When friends of mine are job hunting they usually do it here because you know you are going to get a solid tech job for a good ("markt conform" or above) salary.


Interesting projects http://forum.nedlinux.nl/viewtopic.php?id=31844 at least to me). And as far as I have seen, Dutch companies don't really care if you finished any education; usual text is 'HBO of WO denkniveau' (has to reason on college level, roughly translated).

davedx 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Could you give a bit more information about your job title and experience? Also, what sector are you targeting? I've noticed there's lots of financial sector work in IT in the Randstad which can bump up your salary.
sgalonska 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I can tell you how it is in Berlin, Germany. And this is the cheapest city in Europe. Juniors start at around 40k, seniors about 50k anual salary.
tomh- 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Based on your very limited background information: 2500-5000 euro/month excl bonus and other benefits
corkill 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've found two great rules for going into negotiations of any kind:
1. Know exactly what you want and state it.
2. Be prepared to walk away if you don't get it.

You could also try playing equity vs salary off each other. e.g. I usually work for $6000 a month, but if you want I could work for $2000 with 30% equity. Or if you want equity more than salary, I usually work for $10,000 a month but could do it for $1000 a month and 40% equity.

Numbers above are just random. But the idea is to make the option you really want seem MUCH more attractive.

JAVagueArgument 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I think geographical location makes no difference, because If it were me I would ask them for what I was currently on. Not take a pay cut, but not expect an increase either.

With the lack of security in a start up I might also ask for something in my contract which meant if the product/company were successful I would get recognition (financial or otherwise) in relation to my contribution.

Ask HN: 10k+ node _windows_ cluster in AWS?
2 points by leakybucket  3 hours ago   2 comments top
ovechtrick 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I was at Super Computing 11 this past November.

I haven't done it personally. But I saw a demo at the CycleComputing booth that looked pretty slick.

They've brought up to 30,000 linux nodes. Not sure if they have an offering for windows or azure.

There are entire companies being built to solve this problem.

Ask HN: Is there a repository of failed startups (re-usable startups idea)?
75 points by zeratul  1 day ago   38 comments top 20
pud 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wrote a book that describes ~150 venture-backed internet startups that failed in the late 90's.

Many of them had significant users and revenue, but were mismanaged and failed.

I've often thought many of them could be successful today.

"F'd Companies: Spectacular Dot-com Startups"

ChrisNorstrom 1 day ago 1 reply      
I own TheSunsetList.com domain and was planning on using it for this exact purpose. To catalog what has been tried, what mistakes have been made so that they're not made over and over.

If you guy(s) want to, we can team up and colaborate on this and make it happen. Yes crunchbase exists but it describes only the biggest failures and doesn't go into much detail as to why they fell and shut down.

huhtenberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure about a dedicated site, but an entity like YC or TC would be a very good fit for tracking this sort of info, because it is directly related to what they do.

I could contribute a couple of entries, both of which are highly recyclable and I was actually waiting for a way to let other people have a go at them.

asanwal 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's a compilation of 32 startup failure post-mortems which means 32 biz models to take a look at.


Maro 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a deadpooled tag on Crunchbase:


zeratul 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was thinking about a database where (co-)founders would enter the data - a drop-down menus, where possible, for data mining. Something like:

    1. Here is what I was trying to build
2. Here is the source code (link to GitHub?)
3. Here is a screenshot
4. Here is how I wanted to make money
5. Here are my competitors
6. Here is how much I raised money
7. Here are top 5 reasons why I failed
8. ???

Yes, CrunchBase has some of the above and, yes, some founders will put it on their blog. But wouldn't be it so much nicer to have a centralized database that could spit out some analitycs/trends and give guidance to newcomers? The volume of startups will grow. What if some failures are seasonal or can be pick-up and fixed? I think we have a chance for a data driven approach but only if founders are willing to contribute.

EDIT: I suspected that CrunchBase will have some errors and missing info since ANYONE can edit those entries. Maybe there was NO way to have founders enter such data ...

DanBlake 1 day ago 2 replies      
I am working on something that addresses this need exactly. Should have a product out very shortly, been working on it for a few months now as a side project.
ken 1 day ago 2 replies      
You might have trouble getting the codebase. I was employee #2 at a startup that shut down after about 1.5 years, and at the end we sold off everything.

I don't specifically know what happened to the source code but last I heard there were companies interested in it. Nobody that was going to do exactly what we were trying to do, but companies who could make use of a decent codebase if they could get it on the cheap. They would have gotten a few years of work for significantly less money (and time) than it'd cost them to build it themselves.

steveplace 1 day ago 0 replies      
Better angle: compile a list of companies that have been acquired by goog/msft/fbook and so on.

Luckily wikipedia has done the work for you:


And so on.

kogir 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd be very careful about trying to "resurrect" failed start-up ideas like this.

Unless you're one of very few people, you can't effectively solve a problem you don't have personally. If you try and things start to look like they're working, someone who actually has the problem and knows all the details can pop up and wipe you out.

Also, the reasons why start-ups fail are not always obvious. In many cases, what appears to be a good idea really isn't for reasons that only the prior founders understand. Without exact knowledge of the past, you're very likely to fall into the same trap that killed the previous start-up.

damian2000 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was an awesome site during the early 2000's dot com crash called fuckedcompany.com - the company I worked for at the time was listed ("SmartWORLD" - it went bust on sept 12, 2001). The fuckedcompany.com site is now inactive, but you can check out the list of snapshots on the wayback machine here ...


<=== this is all the 2001 snapshots ... note lots of activity in the last 3 months of the year.

Here's the home page from Nov 30, 2001 for example.

The archive link on the home page works ok for some more write ups.

adamtmca 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I were you I would be more interested in companies that were started, got some traction and sold out for low double digit millions only to be shut down by their acquirer.

Fflick, for example, was a really interesting idea and seemed to be getting some play - now it's gone. Dodgeball -> Foursquare, etc.

Edit: Whoops - I didn't read the OP closely. I thought you were only looking for ideas/ business models, but obviously this would not work for codebases.

adrianwaj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good question. And it could lead to the possibility to resurrect a site: in code, in name or in users.

I would crosscheck crunchbase against the underlying domains, and not rely on the deadpool tag. Also, check the site stats the profiles show.

Take livekick for example: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/livekick

You could also look at tweet activity: last to and last from. (and last blog post)

You could call the site Life Support.

rmorrison 1 day ago 0 replies      
You're probably better off going after proven, successful ideas than failed ones. Friendster, MySpace, TiVo, Palm pilot, Blackberry, Alta vista, were all up and dominated their markets when a new competitor took over.

The value is more in the execution than the idea.

mahmud 1 day ago 0 replies      
FuckedCompany.com was the place to be. Also the chapter on the dotcom bubble in A Random Walk Down Wallstreet has a nice selection ;-
nc 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if there was a site built ontop of CrunchBase to document failures, reasons & any other insight.
kamakazizuru 1 day ago 0 replies      
try crunchbase? I know the German equivalent of crunchbase has a list of "failed" startups as well.
alexradu 1 day ago 0 replies      
For mobile apps, keep an eye out for Apptopia (http://apptopia.com/)
aen1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a decent start-up idea
Show HN: www.sopajs.org - simple SOPA banner for your website
11 points by CoffeeDregs  22 hours ago   5 comments top 2
projectmeshnet 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Why Godaddy?


[edit: your github link is misspelled]

https://github.com/sopajs/sopajs FTFY

olajayi 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome start!
Ask HN: Oops, I just sold my startup to a piano company. Now what?
147 points by dangrover  4 days ago   71 comments top 51
breckinloggins 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you don't mind me saying, it sounds to me like you've come into more money and success than you've ever had and now you're feeling guilty about it. You SEE yourself as a guy who works and creates stuff, not a capitalist on a yacht; but, when you glance at your accounts, your mind is telling you that you are, in fact, a fat capitalist on a yacht telling everyone down below to row.

This is creating guilt and cognitive dissonance.

But that isn't you. The amount of zeroes on a bank statement does not a man make. The reason you went out looking for jobs even though you didn't need them is not because you were bored. It's because you wanted to convince others (yourself, really) that you haven't let success go to your head.

Well, I can tell by your post that you haven't let it go to your head. And you know what, it probably won't. Those people who get rich and then turn into complete douche-nozzles... guess what? They were douche-nozzles to begin with! Money tends to amplify one's personality, not alter it.

So relax!

Give yourself permission to:

- Buy that car or boat or whatever you've always wanted. Just keep the Tercel ;-)

- Travel, explore, learn, teach, whatever. If money is no object, the first thing I'd love to do is drive trucks for 6 months or so. The next thing would be to get my PhD. Do what you've always wanted to do if you didn't have to work... because you don't.

- Create! Use your coding skills for yourself. If you don't have the urge to write code, don't. But if you do, don't worry if it doesn't have a market or an exit strategy, just write it and feel good. Share it. You'll enjoy it again.

Bottom line: you have worked hard, developed a great product, saw it through to a nice exit, and are in a position to enjoy the fruits of your success. We at HN hereby give you permission to do so ;-)

eykanal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding the comment you received of "If you can code, then you can only code. Forever.", you need to work on your own branding. If people are getting that impression of you, it's likely because that's the part of your work that you most focused on when originally speaking with them, intentionally or unintentionally. It's up to YOU to set what your public image is.

Case in point: I recently graduated from grad school with a PhD in biomedical engineering. I had known all along that I wasn't a competitive candidate for employment in the BioE industry for a number of years, and I had always dreaded having to find a job as one. However, through a stroke of coincidence, I landed a very short-term job as a data scientist, and I realized that my marketing myself as a "BioE" simply because that was my degree was only hurting myself. I completely changed my resume--still entirely true, but focusing on different skills and directed to a different audience--and applied to different positions. I'm now working for a large bank as a quantitative analyst, and I'm enjoying it tremendously.

If you go in speaking about how you designed and managed a website, people will see you as a code monkey. If you go in talking about how you came up with a business model, raised funding, managed numerous teams of developers and supporting staff, and eventually sold the company for a profit, I imagine that conversations would go a lot differently.

yan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Dan, I remember seeing your story those 1394 days ago (only to join a few days later) and it's amazing to see what you've accomplished.

I've been working on trying to get out and do other interesting things around that aren't tech-related, mostly outdoor and alpine-related. NY area isn't exactly the outdoor paradise that some other places are, but I'm working on getting some like-minded people together to get away from the glare of displays. Get in touch with me if you're interested.

edit: If anyone else is interested, please feel free to get in touch.

keiferski 4 days ago 0 replies      
Read the classics. Learn how to paint/draw/sculpt. Travel to random places. Keep a journal on what you want to do with your future.

After a few years of the above, you should have a much better idea as to what you want. Jumping from one intense startup to another (or into a random job) won't give you time to sit back and reflect.

joshu 4 days ago 1 reply      
You need to take a long break. At least six months. I did this after my yahoo term was up and I needed it.
solutionyogi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Dan, I am really surprised that anyone would treat you as code monkey.

I think you should get in touch with Patrick (patio11) and Thomas (tptacek) and get some tips on you how can pitch yourself better.

And yes, as a piano beginner, I love your app. :)

aaronwhite 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't need the money, take time off. When I left the last startup I co-founded, I decided to set an arbitrary "1 whole year" date, during which time I would explore my own projects, hear about other peoples new ideas, and talk to existing larger startups (Dropbox, etc). But I wouldn't allow myself to commit to anything until about a year was over. It's too easy to be come enamored w/ half-baked ideas, and I wanted to make sure the next one was meaningful and had a high probability of success. Long story short, I learned a ton during that year, turned down some great options, and eventually chose the BEST of all possible options. (Starting a meaningful company w/ killer co-founders, gaining traction, and having a blast)

If you have the chance, give yourself the space! It'll be worth it.

zyphlar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Also, as an entrepreneur you've officially graduated beyond the resume/interview/application process. The only people who fully appreciate those entrepreneurial skills are other business owners and executives; if you come in and ask me for a job coding awesome stuff, I'm mostly going to care about your code skill because someone else is handling the promotion, design, and management.

Of course you could work in a small business where having lots of diverse skills is valued, but you'll probably be vastly underpaid and overworked.

Sounds like you want to be appreciated though. Offer to work for free! If you don't need the money, help someone you identify with. Give back, pay it forward, whatever. You'll have a great time, learn a lot, and make new friends for whatever happens next.

billpatrianakos 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds to me like you already answered your own question. It also sounds like you might be second guessing yourself and need some reassurance. That's alright, we're only human.

If I were you, I'd take a good long break. Regroup for a third of it and relax. Then do some solo tinkering and see if anything gets you excited. Maybe you'll want to go another round with a new business at that point, maybe not.

Join another team only if you think you can handle not being the top dog. Make sure that whatever position you get, you're happy with the amount of control you have while still keeping in mind that this is someone else's baby you're caring for now. If all that's a good fit and agreeable then continue on that path. If not, do your own thing.

As for being type-cast as Engineer-Only, well, it's tricky... maybe you should leave out the part where you know how to code. You don't have to tell people you're a programmer right away. Get into the area of the business you'd like most before mentioning your other skills. Definitely mention your other skills, just not right off the bat.

Other than that I'd say congratulations, you seem like you're doing very well and have luxuries that a lot of us (me too) are striving for. It's awesome to see people like you who want to keep going round after round in entrepreneurship. Its people like you who prove that when you something out of love, not money, you truly succeed. Hopefully I helped. Good luck to you!

rokhayakebe 4 days ago 1 reply      
1) Start advising small time entrepreneurs full time. Full time. You can join an incubator and do this, or you can simply do it alone.

2) When you are ready to do another startup you will just know it.

Edit: We spend our lifetime surviving, catching up, trying to make it. Once we make it, we realize that we never learned how to just live.

a_a_r_o_n 4 days ago 0 replies      
People see you as a coder because they're hiring a coder. They're not prepared to see anything except what they're focusing on. If you don't want to be seen as a coder, don't go to those interviews.

Take some time off. You'll come up with ideas about your work and life that would never happen if you were head down leading a specific life and working on a specific thing. Let your mind wander. We have ideas overnight and in the shower because our brains are wired to take advantage of that.

thaumaturgy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I went through something sort-of-kind-of similar almost ten years ago. I got a good full-time job as a programmer/sysadmin before I was even out of high school, moved across the country and got another job with a large corporation where I became one of their lead techs while working on a few other projects for them. I made more money than I knew what to do with and I should have been happy.

But, I kept getting more and more unhappy instead, and finally decided that I needed to do something really different. I decided that I'd had it too easy, so I was going to set out to make life really hard for a while. (I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All the same, I'd do it all over again even if I knew.)

Anyway, I left the computer industry entirely, moved back across country, tried to become a forest service ranger and ended up becoming a climbing instructor after having a few other odd jobs. I was broke, but happy. I returned to the tech industry several years later and now I'm much more comfortable with it and well-balanced.

You have resources and you sound like you're a lot smarter than I was, so you could probably do something similar without the kind of hardships I experienced. If you're not sure of what you want to do next, then go out and experience the world in a completely different way until you find the next thing you want to do. Go and do things you've never done before, then come back and start another company.

The main thing with this advice is just to make sure that you don't do nothing -- make sure you keep pushing yourself to do something every day. But I doubt that you'll really have that problem from the sounds of it.

sshumaker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Having weathered the autonomy of running your own company, you're probably no longer going to be happy just writing code for someone else. In a way, running a startup tends to ruin you as an employee.

Take a break. Meet with a lot of people, and see what they're working on. After a while, one of them might click with you, or you can start brainstorming and developing your own ideas. Try to look for a co-founder. And if you'd like to do an incubator, consider applying to YC, as you yourself suggested. They have batches twice a year, so you have plenty of time to figure out what you'd like to work on next.

jballanc 3 days ago 0 replies      
A friend hit a rut a little while back. He had a few apps in the app store, but wasn't advancing at his day job and couldn't quite get a team together for a startup (I'm partly to blame there...). So, he moved.

To Nicaragua.

Now, he's gotten a group of friends and a couple of local college kids together and he's developing an app to promote tourism in the area. Because of the differences in standard of living, he's got a nicer place than before, goes out for dinner with friends regularly, and is still managing to save a bit. From our conversations, it seems like he's really enjoying the change of pace and the different culture.

So, my recommendation would be to move. Far, far away. There has probably never been a better time to be a programmer in a developing market. Brazil, Argentina, Chille all seem to have rapidly growing developer communities. India is still struggling to break out of being labeled "that place to outsource stuff", and Russia, while significantly hampered by corruption, is still managing to spawn a handful of tech startups. There is eastern Europe/former Soviet republics, where I know a number of western Europe startups are looking to expand to.

Finally, if none of the rest of that tickles your fancy, try Ushahidi: http://ushahidi.com/ . If you have enough money that you don't need to worry about a specific salary, or if you are even wealthy enough to work for free, these guys seems like they might just be able to change the world (or at least Africa). Could be fun...

joshu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Also, drop me a line if you want to brainstorm or introductions.
timdellinger 3 days ago 0 replies      
"They don't realize that, in addition to engineering, I actually..."

(1) If they don't realize those things, then you've written your resume and cover letter all wrong, and you're selling yourself in interviews all wrong. Even if you spent most of your time writing code, de-emphasize that aspect of your accomplishments and sell the other aspects.

(2) Perhaps you're talking to the wrong "They", i.e. you're applying for the wrong jobs.

(3) If you're looking to work for a company larger than your startup (which is likely), then think about the parts of your work at the startup that you enjoyed the most and want to do more of. In larger companies, people tend to have roles that are more specialized instead of being jack-of-all-trades. Pursue opportunities and market yourself around the specialty you want to do more of. Tell people "I enjoyed doing X and was successful at it, and I really want to develop my skills in that area."

nitrogen 3 days ago 0 replies      
A digital sheet music app/store is something I dreamed of creating even before the iPad was revealed (along with many other geek musicians, I'm sure). Congrats on succeeding with the idea. Since there's not much value left in keeping an already-executed idea to myself:

  May 13, 2008

I want to make a piano music stand that integrates a 19" or 24"
widescreen LCD with built-in sheet music display software. This
would allow a pianist to access a large library of music without
having to store it all or risk damage to fragile printed music.
This display could also be linked to a MIDI or other playback
and recording system to evaluate the correctness of a
performance, quickly transform a performance into printed music,
or control the parameters of a synthesized piano. The stand
would be designed to accommodate printed music in front of the
LCD display. A reflective display from Pixel Qi would be the
coolest, with more of a paper look. It would be really cool to
work with Bosendorfer to have the system integrated into their
player pianos.

The display could serve as a useful educational tool by grading
performance as mentioned previously, by masking out parts of a
piece to aid memorization, and by presenting
video/animated/automated lessons to a student. It could also
include teleconferencing software/hardware to allow remote
education. If the piano includes a clutch to detach the keys
from the hammers, it might be able to be used as a software

The system could also be used to provide prerecorded or
automatically generated accompaniment for a solo pianist.

But what should a person who wants to take a break and get some broader experience but is tainted with an engineering background do? Is the only option for me to just suck it up, gather the courage, and commit to striking it on my own with another idea? Have any of you ever been at a similar crossroads after exiting something?

Now... I almost never indulge in unprompted self promotion, but tongue-in-cheek and at the risk of sounding like an overconfident idiot (heck, I know this will make me sound like an idiot), you should work with me on my "big idea": http://www.nitrogenlogic.com/.

roguecoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you looked around Boston? I haven't seen as much of that attitude here, including in my own company. Otherwise I'd be in trouble ;-) At least, I suggest not taking NYC as representative of the entire East Coast.

As for suggestions, I'd say find a project you like working on and do it. I hate writing code that will never be used, and find it much harder than writing code to solve a need. However, that doesn't necessarily mean "a job": there are lots of non-profits that have ideas for computer programs, open source projects with bugs waiting or kids you might know who'd love a game from Uncle Dan.

If you miss collaboration, try applying all the skills you developed with regards to people and organization to building a for-fun project team. Look around for teenagers who are bored: organize a robotics team or volunteer with a summer technology program. Check out user groups and find non-employment-related coding friends. Reach out to people who might not already be in nerd-y spaces too; maybe you could start a during-school-hours meet up for stay at home parents.

Just because you aren't working for money doesn't mean you can't contribute to projects that will be used and have real-world value. Many of the programs we use every day never made anyone a penny.

jey 4 days ago 1 reply      
> But the thing that bugs me about this is that nobody seems to think that I'm anything more than a code monkey. They don't realize that, in addition to engineering, I actually started something new, managed the product, a whole team, did a fair bit of design, promotion/press, successfully exited, all sorts of stuff that doesn't really fall under "Objective-C developer." Not exactly covered in the Stanford course. I'm not usually so arrogant, but it's frustrating.

Do you market yourself that way? You have to tell people what they're supposed to see you as, and then they'll decide whether it's true or if you're just pulling their leg.

That said, I agree with the other posters and think you should definitely take a break and allow yourself to drift into the next big thing.

jneal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's my advice. You don't have to have a new gig lined up immediately after you leave your current one. Take a little bit of time off. You probably need a little relaxation and little time to think and be creative again. I promise you new ideas will come in due time. If people are looking for a developer, and you have developer skills, they are going to hit you from that point and ignore the rest. In due time you will gain that same passion you had before but for a new idea and you'll be right back where you were only with a bunch more experience than you had before so things can only get better.
dangrover 3 days ago 0 replies      
I should clarify: I neglected to mention that I've accepted a job at an agency in NYC doing some (pretty cool) iOS projects. I'm not sure why I did that so soon, given all I've said here, but I figured I'd give it a fair try, turn around some projects for them, and see if it gives me new perspective.

They gave me a very strong offer and pitched me on the idea that some people leave and come back, and that that's okay (within reason), so I think that's what made the decision.

I posted this today not because I was thinking of skipping out, but because I know that it's not the real next step for me 1-2 years down the road, and I could really benefit from the HN perspective. Thanks to everyone who has posted their comments/contacted me!

mladenkovacevic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I had your problems :)
But actually as a "wanna-be" entrepreneur I am probably more qualified to answer your question since I probably spend more time than I should fantasizing about what I would do with my free time if I somehow managed to escape the black-holeish gravitational pull of a 9-5.

In terms of my own goals I would try becoming better at things that I currently don't have time to work on. And this of course is different for each individual. Personally, I'd paint :)

I would also share my knowledge with whoever was willing to listen. The skills and experience behind your success is something that I'm sure thousands of less-experienced entrepreneurs would kill to have access to. Invariably you will meet new people, hear new ideas, and this in itself should prove very satisfying. It might even give you that extra bit of inspiration you need to restart your own next big project.

kinkora 3 days ago 0 replies      
Firstly, Congrats! You're in a position that most of us can only dream of. :)

Ok, so now you need to pay attention to articles like this:

- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1383376

- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2275643

- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=398597

- http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/azgs6/iama_guy_who_sol...

- http://philip.greenspun.com/materialism/early-retirement/

- http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-to-do-with-you...

Hope these articles were give you some insight. Again, congrats and lighten up! There is more to life than working.

geuis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Take a cooking class. Or buy a bunch of ingredients and just start playing. For me, this works well because its an alternate way to be creative and lets me work with my hands. Nice way to step back from coding all the time.
mahyarm 4 days ago 0 replies      
"If you can code, then you can only code. Forever."

There are sets of programmers complaining about being forced into management if they want to progress any further with their career, so that is not necessarily true.

I'd do a gap-year style explore the world if you've never done one. Go to all of the major continents and regions, and don't stick only to the developed countries. It will broaden your perspective.

bh42222 4 days ago 0 replies      
I actually started something new, managed the product, a whole team, did a fair bit of design, promotion/press, successfully exited, all sorts of stuff that doesn't really fall under "Objective-C developer."

You would be perfect for a startup where that skill and experience mix is often desperately needed. But you are burned out. (Which is OK as long as you don't stay burned out.)

So do you want to teach? Join something like Y combinator but as an advisor. (Can you join without dropping most of your financial gain? Can you drop a big chunk and still have enough left to be comfortable?)

How about go into a wildly different filed, something you have a kernel of interest in but have never worked in, forest management, trapeze artists, C++ developer.
(One of those suggestion was a joke.)

Or travel. (Just enjoy life for a while!)

chriseidhof 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you're going to travel, come to Europe! It can be really refreshing to get to know some new cultures. There's so much to see here. I'll give you a tour of Berlin if you're in the area. And I agree with the other people: take a break. Don't feel guilty about not having goals for a few months or a year. In the end, a high quality of life is very important for enjoying life, and if you're going to start too quickly while not having recovered there are chances you won't enjoy it.
andrewfelix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Take a holiday bro. Grab a notebook(paper) and some nice pens and spend 2 weeks in a foreign country without any specific goals.
bry 3 days ago 0 replies      
"For some reason, the logic on the east coast, and even in a lot of SV is, 'If you can code, then you can only code. Forever.'"

Unfortunately, that's not only an east coast thing. It seems to be related to the size of the company. The larger the company, the more they seem to feel/act that way :/

bryanh 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you have the runway, bum around. Take the time and enjoy it. Work on what interests you. And don't let yourself be jerked around by some false "engineering background" stigma, you are clearly a kick ass hacker. Hack away. Good things will come (again).
yurylifshits 3 days ago 0 replies      
Open a physical space, like coworking place or hacker community center.

It puts you at the center of community, gives you tons of new contacts and entertains you a lot.

roobeast 4 days ago 0 replies      
Take a year and go travel. Set aside an amount for a healthy runway when you return, then you will have better clarity if you want to start something new or go work on someone else's idea. There are many companies that segment the workforce into "can code" and mba/product people. Try not to work for one of those places. You can find someplace that values both skills in an individual however it may take a while.
fowkswe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sublet your apartment, go to South America (Beunos Aires) while its warm. Drink coffee, eat steak and figure out your next move. More ideas will come.
andyleclair 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I had some advice for you, Dan, but I don't. I'm just leaving this comment to say congrats to my old roommate. You're the man now, dog!
2pasc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Agree with most of the comments here - taking time off, traveling, getting inspired again by things you like might be the best. Then you could consider meeting people and seeing if you can help people out - as an advisor to get your energy and ideas back to full mode.
I would love to discuss with you about your experience with the sheet music store for iPad - contact me if you can
code_devil 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you are not hurting for money(which I doubt), I would suggest taking a nice break, travel, pursue some other skills like new language(Spanish, Portuguese), photography, cooking, volunteering, adventure sports. It will recharge you and maybe along the path you will find some interesting problems you could solve, for an instance a software solution for a problem that exists in some foreign country but you dont see the same problem in US.
astrodust 4 days ago 0 replies      
Go on a sabbatical. Don't just drive into something else without a chance to decompress, learn from what you've just accomplished, and find a new direction you can be just as passionate about.

How long does this take? Depends on your personality.

louhong 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dan, congrats, you've accomplished quite a bit. I'll echo what others are saying and suggest taking an extended break to recharge. Visit some new places and try some new thing but most importantly, I'd also suggest reinforcing your existing relationships and to try to make some new ones. I've found that doing so increases the amount of ideas and opportunities you'll have. Figure out what your runway and burn rate is so that you're not pressured to just 'find something'. best of luck!
13rules 4 days ago 0 replies      
Love your app! Purchased it a long time ago ... thought it was well polished and easy to use. Not surprising that you got bought out!

I agree with the others that say take an extended time off. Travel, read, pursue some new hobbies, do some things you have always wanted to do, etc, etc. Let your brain relax and enjoy life ... without a doubt that time spent will lead to something great down the road. Something much better than if you dive into something new right now.

Congrats again!

stbullard 4 days ago 1 reply      
Have you considered working out of a coworking space for a while?

There are a ton here in NYC: most are single-founder friendly, treat engineers like people, and provide exactly the kind of energetic atmosphere you say you're looking for - and you might just run into an opportunity that interests you.

joshu 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to hear more about the contract issues.
jaequery 3 days ago 0 replies      
i was exactly in your shoes. i sold a company as a single founder and after i sold it, it felt good and left a big void in my life that i tried to fill with other new ideas but was never quite the same. i think part of this reason is that, when you have a successful business, you know every little aspect of it to the point that other businesses doesn't hit it to your heart. but once your next business takes off, it'll be all the same. it's just a matter of time.
jseims 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been in your situation.

What worked for me is I just hacked on fun personal projects. Like "hmm, that's a new API, let's try it out". I did it for fun, not to achieve a larger goal.

And gradually ideas would pop up, like "now that works, I wonder what if I also combined it with this..." and after a few months larger ideas started coalescing.

Given that you've had some success, you probably should look for something that resonates more strongly as "you're passionate about it" vs. "it can make money".

And once you have an idea that could develop into a real product, all your experience starting a company becomes highly valuable. Don't just be a code monkey for someone else :)

petervandijck 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of the incubators/VC/.. would love to have you advice their companies. Perhaps get connected with them and bring the idea up.

Good way to start is by giving some talks in the startup circuit.

Aqua_Geek 4 days ago 0 replies      
> But what should a person who wants to take a break and get some broader experience [...] do?

What kind of broader experience are you looking for?

lazyBilly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm deeply skeptical of business types lately, which is why my buddies and I started our own company, sans suits. Maybe finding another group of misfit technicians would be more your speed. If you are interviewing for a job under a biz-dev cat whose only useful purpose is going to meetings, doing high-level idea and strategy work, and generally steering the boat, they're not going to be structurally inclined to invite you to get up in their business. (Which is where the real power in an organization lies, unfortunately.)
lrobb 4 days ago 0 replies      
"... nobody seems to think that I'm anything more than a code monkey"

Are you talking to the wrong people?

I realized something similar when going through tech interviews with a company (in a field I knew well) and none of the dev managers could tell me anything about their products competitive landscape... The team leads were completely unfamiliar with their competitor's features.

TYPE_FASTER 4 days ago 0 replies      
What kind of jobs are you applying to? Are you applying to be a product manager then they start grilling you on code? The people want you to code is because that's what they need. Look at what your resume is conveying and only apply for positions you're really interested in. Try taking the specific technical experience off your resume and submit it to a few positions.
VuongN 4 days ago 0 replies      
Take a break. Volunteer your times and do things you wouldn't have done or never had time to do before. Life is funny in that if you keep on walking, you'll end up somewhere surprising :) Good luck.
iamgilesbowkett 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'll add my voice to the "take a break" chorus. On the marketing problem -- people seeing you as a code monkey -- you could look for product development or project management jobs, and say "oh yes btw also I can code," but you're better off filing that away for future reference and travelling for a while. It's good to have a life!
zachmayer 1 day ago 0 replies      
A break probably isn't a bad idea
Ask HN: What's your experience with remote working? as employees/employers?
86 points by fgblanch  4 days ago   97 comments top 40
JonAtkinson 4 days ago 6 replies      
I'm an employer.

Quick background: We're a small Django consultancy/web app development company based in the UK. 7 people, all remote, split as three developers, one frontend dev, one designer, one sales, one administrator. I'm a developer/managing director.

Our experience with remote working has been largely very positive.

- It keeps our overheads very low. I think that when we remove our staff wage bill, our operating expenses are about £200 a month, which is mainly service subscriptions. If we accommodated everyone in an office, we'd be looking at spending at LEAST £3000/month on rent alone. This cash being available has meant that we can expand the company quickly, pay developers well, and still afford to take the team out to conferences and the occasional get-together and night out.

- Remote working means that your processes and working practices need to extremely well defined from the outset. All our interactions are online, so clear, unambiguous communication and good project organisation and management are essential. Of course, there is an overhead in this level of communication that might not be necessary if we were colocated, but I think that overall it benefits us.

- We are also able to expand our hiring pool. We've recently taken on a freelancer in Poland part-time (we knew him from when he lived in the UK), and we're not making adjustments to suit him; we're already well adapted.

- The tools which exist make up for a great deal of the shortcomings of remote working (we use Skype, Trello and HipChat mainly, with the occasional VNC/Skype screenshare session). This is a huge contrast to even a couple of years ago,

The disadvantages are almost entirely human factors:

- I think it's easy to 'hide' from the team if a developer is having a problem (either with their code, or their motivation). It's easy to coast through an unproductive day and there is often a delay in the other team members realising that a project is falling behind schedule.

- Sometimes working remotely can feel isolating. A few of our developers who live near to each other sometimes meet up at one location and work for a day, and I get feedback that everyone feels refreshed after. We have quarterly 'get together days', where we talk mainly about strategy and review our processes and performance, but I think we need to start having 'work together days', just to keep the morale and motivation high.

Vivtek 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've worked remotely since 1995.

The main problem was, is, and shall ever be communication - but that's the same if you're face-to-face. I actually communicate better via email and forum than face-to-face, so remote work is good for me.

Especially in freelancing situations, it's a natural fit for how people like to do business; you have to organize yourself more carefully than if you were simply sitting next to your customer, but that's not actually all that onerous.

I wouldn't go back to commuting for anything. Life's too short.

hopeless 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've worked as a (semi-)remote employee for the past 2.5 years for a HUGE multinational software company. Here's a braindump of experiences:

- I work in Ireland and my colleagues are in the US. The time zone difference is generally handy because I can work in the mornings and they come online around 1:30pm. So my afternoons (or their mornings) are when meetings and scrum calls happen. I don't attend any meetings outside my core work hours, and I'm rarely even asked to. I'm not sure a wider timezone difference would be suitable

- I actually work from a subsidiary office so I have people to get lunch with, even though I don't have any work contact with them.

- Things are usually scheduled around a US working day so, for example, nightly builds were scheduled to run in the early morning so they hadn't finished by the time I started work. And then I'd be trying to download them just as the corporate network start to get saturated by the US employees starting work.

- My line manager is here in the office but functional managers are in the US. This creates odd situations where I can phone-in sick but my teammates don't get informed. Or where my annual review is done in the US but the salary/bonus must come out of an Irish budget.

- "Ramping-up" on the product was pretty hard because if I got stuck in the mornings I had to wait until the afternoon to get some answers. Once that product learning curve is over and you become more autonomous it's much easier.

- There can initially be some resentment from US employees that their jobs are going to Ireland (an uncomfortable truth) and it can be difficult for me to know that an experience engineer has been "resource actioned" because I'm <1/2 the price. Particularly if they've helped train me up on the source code etc ;-(

- Many of my US colleagues are also remote / working from home but this is actively being discouraged. If fact, we all (US in-office, US working-from-home, and me in Ireland) had to attend a rather tactless meeting which listed the disadvantages to remote working: poor career progression, no management visibility, loneliness, poor team cohesion, communication problems etc. It's not like this was my choice!

- Tools: primarily email, instant messaging and regular conference calls. We also have get defect and version control notifications by email.

- I think things would be easier in a non-corporate setting because we'd have the flexibility to choose better tools: something campfire-ish, Git, some visual story planning / Kanban board, perhaps video conferencing over Skype, ambient webcams so you can see each other etc.

- I'm not sure if I'm a typical programmer: I dislike making phone calls and generally prefer to talk face-to-face with people. You get to pick up on subtle little clues (are they bored? are they stressed? are the busy? are they saying yes but only reluctantly?) which are lost in non-visual mediums.

Edit: I work in a very quiet open-plan office and this makes phone calls much harder. Ideally remote workers should have a private office so they are comfortable speaking on the phone. Particularly important if you want to conduct annual reviews over the phone!

- Having said all that, I'm seriously considering moving into remote freelancing or trying to find a permanent remote position but most job sites are focused on location-centric jobs. Any good pointers?

andrewcooke 4 days ago 1 reply      
i work for american companies from abroad (i am english, but live in chile). i have worked for a small-ish startup (about a dozen employees) and a technical consultancy (similar size). before that i had worked with a team split across two locations (usa and chile); before that i worked from england for a company in scotland (after working locally - moving south pushed me into my first remote job).

i am not convinced that the problems are any worse than working locally, to be honest. the problems may be different, but it's still true that a good manager makes life easier, and that a bad manager can be worked around.

so i would say that if you have an experienced employee that you trust (as i hope i am!) then it's not a big deal. and inexperienced people that you don't trust are still a crap-shoot - remote working doesn't change that.

any way of working has its own issues. if you're competent you can solve them; it's your job to do so. if you can't, working locally will only make the misery local.

i guess maybe people want specific advice anyway. the most important thing is that you (as employee) need to force feed status to your employer. there's no feeling worse in the world than hearing "so what have you been doing?". meeting up physically once a year or so is also a good idea. weekly teleconferences help. that's all as obvious as it sounds, which brings me back to my original point...

[ps and personally, i love it. the peace and freedom are great. good pay (compared to local market) is a bonus.]

[pps an observation that might be illuminating - i just realised that half my computer screen is devoted to communication. i have a text console on the left, with (ascii) mail in the current tab; on the right i have an open chat window; in the middle is eclipse). the web browser alt/tabs over eclipse and chat.]

binarymax 4 days ago 0 replies      
I both work remotely, and manage remote employees. I have about 6 years experience doing this.

For employees: You need to set your own rules, stick by them, and have a great work ethic, otherwise you will fail.

For managers: You need to find employees that don't need to be micromanaged, and stick to the notes above, otherwise you will fail.

edit: I should mention that I love working remote. I can't imaging myself going back into an office anytime soon.

earl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Working as a data scientist with a remote boss: communication was much more difficult. No telephony or software solution came close to standing on front of a shared whiteboard. Which sucks, because I really wish it did. Maybe what we need is actual <$5k shared whiteboards.

The biggest win I've seen is with ops teams. I hope I'm not betraying any confidences, but a previous employer had an international ops team so as the americans were going to bed the ukranians came on. It made ops a lot less shitty -- I do not like being tired, it makes me cranky and pissed. The issues may still be annoying but at least you aren't being screwed by bad software at 3am, etc.

supar 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was able to work remotely (exclusively) for 2.5 years from 2004-2007. I was able to live in two different, beautiful places, and moving was a non issue. My work schedule was totally random - I would wake up whenever I wanted and simply skip "work" days at random going to hike, but despite this it was, in terms of output, one of the most productive periods of my life.

However, after that period I simply decided to quit, because of the totally absent social life. Now I waste 2 hours a day in commute and waste time in useless meetings setup by some random executive. I'm also paid less comparatively, and have more expenses. I still wouldn't go back. I now discuss openly and face-to-face with great colleagues, work with great problems together, share great ideas, etc. Choosing a good job is so much more important.

I would still happily work remotely one, two days a week. Just for the convenience. Or maybe in small periods throughout the year. Still, I will never work remotely again.

During the period I worked remotely, I was able to knew/meet a lot other people that worked remotely all the time (some since the '90!). We all had, more or less, the same problem: we all scored incredible amounts of hours (compared to normal workers) despite the absence of both work pressure and schedule. We tended to be a bit extremists in quality (of course, you had all the time to think about the best solution), which wouldn't work well with normal colleagues that had to struggle with time constraints. I didn't understand that at the time. Because of your derailed work schedule, you generally tend to be less social even if you have good social contacts. In the end it's a self-inflicting problem: you are less active socially, you dedicate more time to your work, etc etc. It's actually quite difficult to find balance. I couldn't in the end.

Employers should take note, because working remotely sorta-implies a very dedicated person. Being able to work without any social pressure is difficult if the worker is not a motivated person. Un-motivated persons will basically quit by themselves after just weeks (I saw it happening a lot).

It also boggles my mind that employers (and this happens mostly in EU) still don't grasp that concept. Regulating work hours, presence, etc is stupid unless your job is depending on a regulated schedule itself. People slack right in front of the monitor all the time. Allowing people to work from home it very beneficial: it actually increases the production (less time wasted in commute, colleagues, etc). But of course, it really depends on the people that you hire, and how willing are you to thrust these people.

Swizec 4 days ago 4 replies      
I work remotely as a freelancer and my experience has been nothing but awesome.

I'm from the CET timezone and the people I usually work with are either in PST or EST so there's a 6 to 8 hour time difference. Here are some of the benefits I've observed:

- I'm a night owl, so I can directly communicate with the people paying me

- even though I like long mornings, I still have at least 5 hours to work before employers wake up (makes for efficient-er communication because I already know what I need)

- the US is full of cool startups working with technologies I actively follow and take an interest in. (locally I've been smashed into teams still on svn ... on new projects)

- sad but true, in Slovenia nobody pays you the next day after sending an invoice, you are legally mandated to allow up to 14 days for payment and everyone takes that way too seriously (and often even overshooting) - US people have so far always paid me the day after invoicing

allenbrunson 4 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of years ago, I was working for a very bureaucratic company in a low-walled cube, being forced to ignore unpleasant distractions around me, and I hated the commute. I was one of their more productive developers, so I asked them to let me work from home. They sort of went for it: they agreed to two days in the office, three at home. I really enjoyed those three days at home, and I was way more productive. I eventually had to quit that place, because it just got too horrible, but I've been trying to get another remote job ever since. In the last few months, I finally succeeded.

I got myself hooked up with a contracting company. They find iOS jobs for me to do, then subcontract my time to other companies. And I get to work from home 100 percent. I had to take a severe pay cut to make it happen, but for me, it's worth it.

I enjoy that I can make a better environment for myself than any office I've ever worked in. I have lots of space, a window, a door that closes, and a huge Apple monitor. A whole bunch of quality-of-life things I couldn't ever convince employers to give me. I can take an hour off here or there to take a nap or walk the dog. And there's no commute. Eventually, I can move somewhere cheap, to make the most of my income. This is the life for me.

I admit that there are inherent communication problems. As other people have mentioned, you have to be a fiercely determined self-starter to make this work. But looking back on it now, the stuff typical employers expect you to go through -- for me, there is no comparison. You'll have to pry my remote job from my cold, dead fingers.

toddmorey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like distributed teams because they force you really figure out communication and your team processes. It's hard work, but the reward for getting it right is that you have access to talent all over the world.

That said, I think the experience varies based on your situation. I'd be careful signing up to be the first or only remote worker. You'll find you miss out on a lot of the conversations where decisions happen; people can forget to dial you in or bring you up to speed. Don't underestimate how much work you'll have to do to keep the communication flowing. Working remote is a lot easier on a team that has other remote workers.

rglover 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've had both excellent and terrible experiences. Ultimately, the biggest issue I've run into is companies and individuals who are frightened by the concept of breaking the mold that is sitting in an office for eight hours a day (for whatever reason, not doing that either places you into the "lazy" or "destined to be a failure" pile).

In addition to this, two other problems are: the failure for managers to coordinate and oversee "virtual" employees and the inability for those remote workers to communicate effectively.

From the management perspective, you have to be comfortable with not being able to walk over to someone's desk at the drop of a hat. There's definitely a change in cadence that takes some getting used to, but some people just hate the idea of not being able to walk across the room and chat (nothing wrong with that).

On the communication side, quite unfortunately, many people fail to communicate well (i.e. poor writing skills, lack of articulation in speech, etc.). Save for a decent amount of training, this is probably the hardest aspect of remote employment to deal with. If you can't talk the talk and explain yourself properly, you're pretty much useless to who you're working with.

Great question.

nigma 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked remotely as a consultant doing full-stack web app development for over 3 years. Before that and after graduating I had a nice full-time office job for about 1 year.

The decision to replace a stable job with an uncertain entrepreneurial environment required a huge mental change from me (something that's due to local culture aspects), but the opportunity to simply work on what I like doing became irresistible at some point.

As far as the pros and cons of working remotely are concerned, I think the biggest advantage is that the projects I work on now are infinitely more interesting that any local job I could find. I like to learn and every new project brings new challenges.

I also like to travel and business trips have been a great opportunity to visit many places in Europe and US.

The downside is that if you are a consultant/freelancer targeting foreign market you have to be prepared for idle time in you business. The fact that you have several offers now doesn't mean you will have any 3 months later. It's good to have a contingency plan.

Also, if you are self-employed you have to deal with bureaucracy and accountants. For many companies it's just easier to work with people that issue invoices rather than going through a process of hiring foreigners. The overhead depends on the country you are living in and sometimes can be a real distraction. Outsource as much of that as you can.

Another thing that is a bit frustrating is that many companies back out when they hear I'm interested in working remotely, even though they are unable to find engineers on the local market and I can provide them with comparable if not better service. I've made the mental change, now it's time for you. My only tip is: hire managers of one [1].

[1] http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1430-hire-managers-of-one

sgdesign 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a freelance designer and I've worked remotely almost my whole career. For example, I've successfully worked remotely for Hipmunk on and off for the past year.

I'll be honest, things do move faster when you're in the same room. But if they haven't replaced me with an on-site designer yet, I'm guessing that means the benefits of working with the right person outweigh the disadvantages of working remotely.

So it's been a very positive experience for me so far, especially since if I didn't work remotely, my only two choices would be A) move to the US (which I can't) or B) work only for French companies (which I don't want to ;).

And the only tools I use are Skype and email, I like keeping things simple, and I like that both tools force you to only talk to one person at a time, it makes things a lot easier.

I also use CloudApp (http://getcloudapp.com) for easy file sharing, it's especially useful combined with Skype to quickly share my progress since it lets you upload images straight from Photoshop and copies the URL to the clipboard automatically.

thhaar 4 days ago 1 reply      
Freelance translator here. 4 years working at home in a few countries for companies around Europe.

. Perhaps it is largely personality based, but I've always enjoyed it. Deadlines keep me on track and side-projects fill the spare working capacity. So work does get done and, as others have said, more besides.

. Productivity is not a problem, especially when you learn to down-tools when you feel you need to, rather than waiting for your set break times. You'll probably find yourself working more efficiently.

. Socially you do need to adjust, and make the most of opportunities to meet other freelancers/people where possible. I initially missed the office banter, but less so with time. As with most things, if you accept it will be different and don't resist that, it should be easier.

. As mentioned elsewhere, those around you at home will indeed sometimes forget that your body and mind are often separated (i.e. body at home, mind at work). Prepare to have many thought-bubbles burst, unless you have a good home-office solution. A semi-hack for this problem is to simply take more notes.

. Energy wise, if you care, I've seen studies for and against the savings made by remote working. Heating 25 whole houses in winter compared to a single office, for instance, doesn't guarantee an energy reduction. But then there would be 25 times less CO2 emissions. Swings and roundabouts. Never really been a key issue for me, but perhaps worth consideration.

I'm now moving into a more involved 'startup-style' phase this year, with no deadlines to keep me on track and no team around me I'm going to have to adapt to a new style of remote working. Tips welcome!

fredBuddemeyer 4 days ago 0 replies      
our companies bigredwire and littleBiggy are 100% remote worker based. the only person left in our office is the accountant who just seems to like it better. a cupla observations:

set meeting times are a substitute for proximity. and audio works better than video. instant messaging is perfect for the times in-between as it creates a presence and has a very flexible protocol between users.

asynchronous development is very, very helpful. dependencies between people that are physically separated is considerably more difficult. this is a tough one to learn but brings its own strengths.

not only do we hire contractors from all over the world but even our full time employees are able to live "in orbit", moving around the planet with the freedom of backpackers. they are tied only to their computer.

freedom is a substitute for pay. once you get to a certain point of income you prefer freedom. i dont know anyone here that could go back to the world of offices; it seems so involuntary, like indentured servitude.

maxer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I work remote as a developer- mainly doing web based stuff

.No IT jobs locally that i like to work for (mainly high stress financial based IT jobs)
.Choose where I work from- I could work from home but I rent a desk in a communal office to be around other developers/entrepreneurs
.communication is cheap- use skype
.if this contract doesnt work out i feel i could move on to something easier rather than being a full time employee in an office
.Never met my boss :)

.Spec gets lost- without proper procedures i find myself sitting doing nothing as boss is nowhere to be seen
.you cant nag someone when ya see them. i.e. if your waiting on an email you cant shout across the room at them - you have to lift the phone or get them on skype.

overall i enjoy the experience and some of my main issues are more internal issues- but remote working is made so easy now with the likes of gmail, pivotaltracker, skype, dropbox and google docs

edit- some of the other comments say it can be quite lonely- i work in a communal office and i go to the gym every night after office hours just to get out of the office or away from home

cgopalan 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am an employee of a company based in Virginia but work from home in Rochester NY. Been only doing this since last December, but I am loving it and will have a hard time going back to commuting.

Lots of people with prior telecommuting experience warned me about issues like isolation, putting on weight (because of proximity to food) and lack of discipline. Now after telecommuting, I feel that I have none of these issues. I have friends that I play tennis with or meet up occasionally for drinks, and I feel that more than makes up for the lack of social interaction. Regarding food, I used to eat out when I commuted so now I have more control over what I eat being at home. Lack of discipline is a problem only when you see it as a lack of discipline. I have moments when I want to stop work and read HN, do a tutorial etc. This actually helps me getting back to work in an hour or two with fresher focus on the problem.

All in all, I believe remote work is the future. The so-called benefits of an "impromptu technical discussion in the hallway" might seem nice, but in terms of getting things done, it has no advantages over interacting remotely.
Its really a puzzle why more companies don't adopt this.

thibaut_barrere 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working almost exclusively remotely for 1.5 year (2 weeks on site in 2011) and I really like it as a freelancer. My clients are happy too :)

Just like setting a price, requiring remote work filters out the clients I would not enjoy working with. People with remote working habits I've worked with tend to be good at communicating, sharing issues (even psychological ones), giving visibility overall etc. Otherwise you're in trouble.

So yes: the future is now - if you wish :)

pdenya 4 days ago 0 replies      
I worked remotely from a home office for 2 years while commuting in monthly (about a 3 hour trip each way). I really enjoyed working from home and miss it now.

There were no communication issues or isolation things for me but that might come with more time. My wife would just leave me alone to work, if she needed something that could wait she'd just IM me and there were never any 'watch the kids for 30 minutes while I run to the store' kind of moments. It was great to be able to spend my breaks with my family.

The only issue I had with working from home is that it's more difficult to get to know new co-workers.

lucian2k 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working remotely (on and off) for a total of about 6 years. I live in Eastern Europe and worked for UK/US companies. Most good and bad things are in here, some already mentioned. So here goes the good:

- differences in culture that allow you to communicate your ideas and gain trust faster than in a local company (such situations: adoption of agile methodologies are way behind in local companies still stuck with waterfall when compared to US ones);
- better pay compared to local deals;
- work with international teams connects you to the pulse of a market you would otherwise only "observe" from a distance and maybe think the people running those sites/businesses have an extra "something";

... and bad:
- (depending on your location and legislation) all overseas employers I worked with are NOT willing to pay social insurances that are paid by a local employer (this having the right to medical services and retirement income)
- the "what have you been working on" syndrom: for managers that have little or no tracking in place BUT do like to "be in touch" and micro manage;
- no paid official events: I had a unfortunate event in my family, my father passed away, and had to take 5 days off - did not get paid for it. Local legislation specifies that the employer has to pay 5 working days in such events (also for weddings and child birth). This might variate depending on your local legislation;


harel 4 days ago 0 replies      
A few years a go I co founded start-up in the US while living in the UK. The other two founders both lived in the west coast, and I worked remotely. In the beginning it was fairly straight forward as it was only the three of us and another contractor from Russia. I developed the app, the contractor developed a component we needed and the other two were busy getting the business side together.
When we got funded things got more serious as suddenly our little startup became a bigger company with offices and employees etc. I would basically do a 9-6 work day, and the Americans would clock on at around 5-5:30PM. We'd have a little overlap to talk about what's new over skype and I'll clock off. That was the theory of it but in practice I ended up chatting to them on skype at various hours as they sometimes needed information from me. This worked OK for me but I personally like being in an office and interacting with people. You become a recluse when you spend your days cooped up at home. Having said that, today I still try to do at least one day of home working to keep a balance between home and office.

The main problem I found in remote working are distractions from family, kids etc (who forget you're physically at home but mentally you're not), and a side effect to that problem is that because you sometimes get gaps in your workday you end up stretching the day into the night, blurring the boundary between home and work time.

smackfu 4 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the main issues are timezones and phone costs. Timezones, because no one will respect your hours if they don't conform to US ones. Phone costs, because people still have hour long teleconferences and those minutes add up. Skype is ok if the quality is good... if not, no one is sympathetic and just says "can you find a better phone?"

The main general issues with telecommuting is that when someone says "I'm sure you've heard about Project X", you haven't.

hcayless 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working from home as part of a distributed team for the last 3 years. It's great. You do have to be disciplined and intentional about a bunch of things that are more likely to happen naturally in a collocated environment, but that becomes a habit pretty quickly.

The best thing about it is that we have people on the team (myself included) who are experts we just wouldn't have been able to get if relocation was a requirement. I think this is the killer feature of telework-enabled jobs.

The problems, in my view, mainly have to do with trust and communication. With remote employees, you can't just drop by to check in on them"you have to do it over chat, skype, etc., and the same goes for communication between team members. I think a lot of employers have a sort of mental block they can't get past over this.

When I was hired, I was told I'd be visiting our offices once a quarter to check in. I think this was just worry about how a remote employee would work out. In practice, they found pretty quickly that I could be trusted to get things done, and I've never been summoned for such a "check-in" visit with my boss. We do have periodic in-person sprints where team members get together in person, and these are very important and productive times.

tren 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm also an employer, I pretty much exclusively use oDesk.

I believe outsourcing will begin to play an increasingly large role in how society operates due to changes in work/life balance, increasing internet speed and availability, and the number of people working office jobs.

My experience with outsourcing has overwhelmingly been positive, however there's definitely an art to hiring a good employee. Some people who want to work freelance really shouldn't, they need too much direction or micromanagement, even if they're quite good at what they do. It brings a lot of value when your employees can think for themselves, most of the overhead of outsourcing is keeping on top of people.

One thing that people don't consider when hiring remote workers is the experience that can come with it. I've hired people who are experts in PPC. They have used screensharing to walk me through what they're doing while simultaneously delivering value to my company. I believe there is market for this type of remote training in the near future.

Incidentally, I had heard of hacker news but never read it, one of my outsourced employees really got me onto it. He's a designer from California. More than happy to share more detail if people are interested.

pknerd 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am not a associated with some remote company but I have done freelancing on project basis as well contractual terms. I have got clients from sites like vWorker.com as well as they come to me directly by making search and landed on my home page.

I have worked for people in US, most of the time, people in UK,spain and even in China. A few years back I used to work for EasyGroup which is(was) quite popular due to different ventures.

Overall my experience is good. I got burnt too when few clients did not pay me and ran away. I also experienced some cool things that clients became friends. one of them even hosted my personal site free of cost on their server so free domain and machine for my home site(adnansiddiqi.com). hehe

pxtreme75 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm running a small startup with employees all around Greece (yes, Greece). We've always been this way. We work with Skype for communication, SVN to synchronize code and specific weekly targets to keep everyone on track. So far it was a very positive experience and certainly comes with less overhead.

However, as the company grows I can see that there are certain shortcomings on distant working. The previous comments did a good job describing many of them. You certainly need self-motivated, oriented people - otherwise you will spend too much time on project management. Knowing them from previous projects is a must otherwise it might be a good thing to pay them a visit for some friendly talk (and a few beers) every few months.

As a side note: isn't a unique privilege to work from wherever you want, at your own hours and without constant meetings? I really love technology...

phzbOx 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's hard to work remotely if the company is not willing to adapt to it. In my experience, remote working is better when lots of employees are doing it (like github for instance).
tbod 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have worked remotely for 6 years - in one case working for a UK company and living in Australia. Once you get the hang of it (especially as an engineer) it is significantly more productive. BUT it does take the right sort of mindset - I am self-disciplined in terms of starting hours, I do not get distracted by things around me.

Of course the downside though is that the work/life line gets significantly blurred. At least working at a office when finishing work I 'finished' working remotely it doesn't work like that.. just will finish this one last thing then I will stop... and I don't.. I have a family now so its great to be near to see them grow up... but sometimes families still don't get the fact you are 'working' can you just drop so and so off to school etc...

Pieces 4 days ago 0 replies      
Remote employee here: Been that way since I started out of college about a year and a half ago. The majority of the developers, client support and analysts for my company are remote. Probably 50~ people. The founder, as far as I can tell wanted this kind of environment when he started it, so remote communication has been built into the work flow. We have an internal Jabber sever and IP phones. Any collaboration is done through that. We also have our own ticket/project management software.

It has been a completely positive experience for me, but as others have mentioned it takes a large amount of discipline. It is really easy to get distracted and basically lose a day.

dev_Gabriel 4 days ago 0 replies      
I live in a huge city(São Paulo) and just like most of big cities the traffic here is terrible. And it's just getting worse.
Nowadays I work really close to my home, so I don't have problems with it. But I remember of taking 2 hours to go to work, 2 hours to come back. And when it rains...well, it gets much worse. It's terrible.

Working as a remote employee full time is something I need to achieve.
I think I haven't found the right opportunities yet or maybe I'm looking for them at the wrong places.

bodegajed 4 days ago 3 replies      
I am a remote cakephp developer from the Philippines. I have been at the most productive stage of my career. I do invest to make my work the highest possible quality. A home office so I can concentrate, I buy new equipment (iMac 24") and I have two internet connections.

My main problem right now is getting burned out. I stay at home most of the time and it is quite depressing sometimes.

veverkap 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been on both sides. As an employer, I've had no problem with it. As long as the people that you hire are self-motivated enough, it will work out. But that makes hiring a bit more challenging.

As an employee, I enjoyed the freedom and trust that my employer gave me. I had the same issues others have mentioned with feeling isolated, but managed to alleviate that by going to conferences and meetups. Keeping involved in the local community is important.

asarazan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I worked at a small video game startup (at our peak we were around 10 full-timers).

Both our Design and Art directors worked remotely from other states. It was NOT a productive situation.

It did, however, teach me that design is something that happens organically, and in collaboration over lunch, beers, etc. It can't be handed down from somebody hundreds of miles away to implement.

The same for art direction to a large degree.

lshevtsov 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a remote Ruby developer. Most of our team is on-site.

My main problem is: online communication makes discussion much more complicated than face-to-face, so you don't contribute as much ideas when people brainstorm or otherwise solve creative problems. If you have a lot of ideas, that can be depressing.

I visit the office several times a year, mostly to share thoughts and socialize.

nehalmehta 4 days ago 0 replies      
It has been awesome experience for me. I have been working as remote consultant since at least 2 years. And with all tools available right now, I think it is best time to execute anything from anywhere. I think besides different time zone world is really flat.
ssgrfk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Its entirely up to the people. I've hired 3 contractors for remote work in my life. the first one, on 'mates rates' left the job half done which taught me the lesson: pay people what they're worth. The 2nd + 3rd have been great so far. Communication is key.
zuzur 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working remotely from France for French, US and UK based companies since 2002, and one thing that I feel has been overlooked in this thread is the importance of the setup for a telecommuter.

If she doesn't have a quite, separate room with appropriate IT equipment (UPS, printer, backup drives, etc) and furniture (desk, proper chair on which you can sit for hours, etc), the telecommuting project is doomed from the start.

some of the companies i've worked for gave allowance to help setting up your home office and it was plain great. My telecommuting was a personal choice, so i invested a lot to buy my own equipement and never regretted it for a minute.

cbaykam 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am an Employee. Working since 2004 and love what I'm doing. I had pretty bad experience in some of my prior jobs because of choosing the wrong employer or the project for me. The most common mistake was getting short term contracts for immediate need of money.

But after a while I learned how to choose teams and projects too. Preferring long term contracts with the longest elimination process. An interview some trial tasks and even an IQ or math test really makes me feel comfortable about the company I am going to work with.

Well good teams always pays less, but you learn a lot. This keeps my hourly price rising since 2009 in every project.

Currently working in a team in which we have decent work hours, great developers and scrum meetings twice a week.

oompaloompa 4 days ago 0 replies      
Collaboration. I've noticed over the past weeks that most of the job postings on various sites require on-site working, and it's because of the (mostly justified) need to be able to have a more personal connection to the worker. It has it's great merits, of course, but an employee would usually prefer remote work due to its perks, such as being able to fart where you sit, and not commute to work in what you foresaw from your childhood as a Ferrari.
fgblanch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Any experience as remote employers?
How do you avoid this trap in learning?
5 points by zukhan  1 day ago   4 comments top 4
karterk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have a goal based learning approach. Tie your learning directly to a project that you are intending to finish. That way - your learning has some end goal and does not become an end in itself. Also, aggregate what you want to read before hand and sort them into related things and read them together.
kls 1 day ago 0 replies      
Organize interesting information on subjects that you are not immediately working on. Use a product like Evernote and to organize the different pieces of information into groups on the same topic. They when you are done with the current subject that you are trying to get you head around you can move on to the next one and pull back up all those old interesting bits of information on the subject.
chrisbennet 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's only a problem if it is keeping you from some goal. Example: If you're doing a research report on a certain president and you find yourself reading up on a dozen other interesting presidents, well that's a problem because it keeps you from finishing your report.
On the other hand, if you are interested in genetic algorithms and you wind up reading about real genetics, epigentics and then Dawkin's book "The Selfish Gene", I don't see how that is bad.
nodemaker 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The book "Moonwalking with Einstein" by Joshua Foyer has some really good insight about how to retain more of what you learn!
Ask HN: Apple closes one eye for Flud duplicated apps?
2 points by kentnguyen  16 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: Do you have business insurance as a freelancer?
7 points by chsonnu  1 day ago   1 comment top
bigohms 1 day ago 0 replies      
We have a corp policy now but when I first started out I did pick up E&O as well as a couple other little coverages. Contracts (larger ones) require them and conducting events (trade shows, conferences) do as well. Shouldn't cost too much.
Ask HN: Downvoting comments you disapprove?
14 points by sirwitti  2 days ago   17 comments top 7
geuis 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem is that most people that left comments on that story basically jumped on the "I won't hire a woman" comment at the beginning and only focused on that. The article was really not about that.

What the author was trying to express is how the laws in Hungary make it very difficult for an entrepreneur to start a company. He goes on, at length and in much detail, to clearly express the many ways that its un-economical for him to go down the route of trying to start a company or to hire more employees if he is running a company now.

So to your question about being downvoted, I might be able to provide an answer.

I responded to a similar comment as your original, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3436365. It got 16 upvotes. To me, that indicates that lots of people who read my comment agreed with me and my understanding of the article, i.e. not being about women but about over-reaching laws in Hungary.

Your comment was in the vein of talking about the women/older person angle. Seeing that many similar comments were also being downvoted, it seems logical that is partly why yours was too.

Also, your comment asks an open-ended question that isn't directly related to the intent of the original article. Questions in comments are fine, but its best if they stay oriented towards points related to the topic. In this case, work/life balance versus the effects of extensive government regulation on business.

gjulianm 1 day ago 2 replies      
Negative votes (or down votes) are the worst thing ever invented. Their purpose is punishing comments (or news, or whatever) which are bad: spam, rude, unrelated... But, instead, people use them for punishing ideas they don't agree with.

I write in somewhat big blog with a considerable number of comments, and I see this everyday. A pretty good comment gets downvoted (and, in the end, hidden) only for not agreeing with some idea. Comments also get downvoted because some people don't like the commenter.

I think negative votes should be removed. You only have a "vote" button: you like the comment, you vote it. Don't like the comment? Ignore it. Of course, I would add instead a "report" button, so you can still manage spam and rude comments.

brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most downvotes are editorial feedback - they mean something along the lines of your point was not clearly communicated, your argument was unsound, or the comment did not contribute positively toward the dialog.

Sometimes downvotes are for disagreement. Particularly when the comment is contrary to someone's agenda.

If the former is the case, consider revising or deleting your post to address the issue; if the latter, consider the source [it's the internet].

BTW, it's pretty much always bad form to complain about downvotes on HN.

tzs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I try to counter the inappropriate down votes. I use a user style sheet to change the color of down voted comments from the hard to read grays to an easy to see red. This makes down voted comments really stand out.

Then, unless they are offensive or just plain stupid, I up vote them even if don't agree with them or think they are particularly noteworthy, just to try to counter the down votes.

bdfh42 1 day ago 2 replies      
Probably because they are Reddit users who think downvoting is normal behavior. Keep doing what you are doing (upvote the good stuff, ignore the majority of comments and [perhaps] downvote rude and spam comments) and maybe they will go away again...
cmelbye 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the karma threshold for downvoting is these days. Maybe it needs a bump.
GFKjunior 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just don't like how only select members have the ability to downvote.

If downvoting exists on the forum all members should be able to do so. imo

Ask HN - market segmentation books and tips?
6 points by cpinto  1 day ago   discuss
Ask HN: Your experiences building several startups at the same time
20 points by zeynalov  2 days ago   29 comments top 17
hsuresh 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is almost always better to work on them one after the other. I am currently bootstrapping my startup through consulting/freelancing. Even though i try to restrict my consulting work to about 20 hrs/week, there is always spillovers. But the biggest problem is that of a context-switch. It is just not easy, at least to me, to quickly switch from a consulting gig to my own startup effort. One of the 2 always suffers.
yuvadam 2 days ago 2 replies      
Most people cannot do more than one full-blown startup at the same time.

What I personally find myself doing is dealing with several different projects on varying levels of intensity. So I have one startup that takes most of my time, and then some side projects that are either limited in time, or fall into the weekend project category, or just projects I like dealing with in my spare time, with no time pressure (and no ambitious goals).

But more than one 'real' startup? Don't go there.

billpatrianakos 2 days ago 1 reply      
Who do you think you are? Jack Dorsey? If you like 16 hour days and have a chip on your shoulder then go for it. But in all seriousness here, I wouldn't advise you to do this. One is more than enough. I'd hate to read about you here in a few years in an article about you snapped under all the pressure.

Focus. We all have a million great ideas but it's incredibly rare to be able to execute on more than one of them successfully let alone a single idea successfully. One is enough and if you have some extra passion to burn off well then that's why god created side projects. I won't give you advice on how to get through more than one startup as I believe it would hurt you (or anyone) more than it would help.

There's only one Jack Dorsey. Remember that.

biznickman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a post on this last night (published this morning) http://nickoneill.com/the-most-common-way-entrepreneurs-kill... ... my main conclusion is that running multiple startups at the same time is a great way to kill your startups. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule (e.g. Jack Dorsey) but until you have a company that has a massive team that can support your business on an ongoing basis, it's not likely to work.
seanmccann 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unless you have a lot of capital, it's not about preference, it's about reality. The more you work on, the more you spread yourself thin. The more you work on, the less likely anything is going to succeed. If you want something to really take off, you need to pick one.

There should be one idea that really jumps out at you above the rest. If not then maybe you haven't found anything big enough yet. In that case it may be helpful to simultaneously explore multiple ideas. But pick only one eventually.

JayInt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting question.

As someone who is working full-time and working on 2 start-ups (one with far more commitment) I know what it is to take one too much as an entrepreneur.

The first thought is a warning! Burnout! If you choose to go full-time and a startup you're going to hit a wall. Naturally if you do more than one startup you just hit it faster...

So the issue is commitment. My advise would be to divide your week into blocks of commitment for each project. In my case Mon,Wed,Fri,Sun using 4 hour blocks per dsy for startup A. Tues, Thurs of 4 hour blocks on startup B (Saturday is a much needed recovery day, normally resulting in a much deserved hangover).

Another consideration is how you work...

For example I am an 80/80 person. I work 80% and play 80%, the important part is that i'm never 100% at one time so have that buffer to avoid burnout... you have to find a balance between the minimum required effort to have a successful company and your own personal space (even work-a-holics sleep, generally on the keyboard)

As you have experience with startups i'm surprised you've so easily embraced another two projects. However that intimates that you know how to divide you time between them... It would be interesting to see a blog post from you in 6 months to discover if you were able manage both and how the progression/success of each respectively influenced your commitment in them.

hmahncke 2 days ago 0 replies      
You answered your own question - if you're too busy to manage the issues around your first startup, adding more startups will contribute to making the first one fail.

As many HN threads point out, ideas are easy, but building companies, finding customers, and product/market fit are all hard and need a team's full focus.

fatalerrorx3 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm currently working on a startup that's attempting to solve a very big problem, and it sucks up all of my time at the momment.. I wouldn't even begin to think about taking on anything else at this point. I also want the project to succeed as well, and I know that in order for that to happen (I'm currently the only developer) I need to be working on it almost all the time -- I even work on it on weekends because the work is intriguing...we haven't yet launched but it takes all my time developing what basically can be considered a brand new web platform from scratch
shailu76 2 days ago 0 replies      
Totally understand the temptation of working on various ideas and solving interesting problems. I dealt with this in my past life. Its hard enough to do 1 start up at a time. Doing 2 or 3 takes a lot. Though i see this with positives and negatives

working on multiple ideas will keep your creative flowing. it helps to connect the dots that you may not even realize. Keeps you going on mandane tasks on 1 start up because you may have something interesting going on the other project.

you cant give your best to any of the ideas. all ideas may suffer from your lack of energy. You may keep working on interesting stuff and put off uninteresting stuff forever. and we know there is plenty of "uninteresting stuff" in any project.

my 2 cents.

rokhayakebe 2 days ago 1 reply      
How much work did it take to make your first startup successful? Now what do you think the outcome would've been had you only invested half or a third of your time, ressources into it?
ithought 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like Aaron's post on this topic-

I currently work at 6 startups, 12 hour shifts, over 24 days per month. The 2 main startups I spend 48 hours per week at. The other 4 take up 36 hours per week. One is very profitable and I use it to fund the others. However, I don't think this is a smart strategy at all. I'm just wasting money but having fun intellectual pursuits.

ww520 2 days ago 0 replies      
Starting on multiple help if they are similar and you can share resources between them, like design/arch/code/services/hardware. It's difficult to context switch between project/product with the same efficiency. I found it easier to devote one week or two weeks on one and then switch to another.
glimcat 2 days ago 0 replies      
The "log jam" effect tends to mean that your inefficiency goes exponentially with the number of projects you're trying to juggle (where "projects" are anything which regularly requests time).
inestyne 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not really the workload but the brain overload. Right now I have a paying gig which I try to work on but not think about maybe a 3rd of the time. The rest of my time and mental energy goes into my one startup. I had a couple side startups but I had to let them go. My mind was trying to think about all of them at once!
playhard 2 days ago 1 reply      
Jack Dorsey is the right guy to answer this.
petervandijck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dries is running Acquia and Mollom, 2 startups in effect, started around the same time. I think he delegates really well.
exess1 2 days ago 1 reply      
Im currently working on 3 concurrently. The main thing is that I have good teams surrounding me on all 3. If you have QUALITY people surrounding you, you can accomplish a lot
Ask HN: What is the best Economics read?
3 points by uast23  1 day ago   7 comments top 5
ahsanhilal 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It really depends on what level of Economics understanding you currently possess. For a complete newbie to economics, I would definitely recommend:


It is a solid book, and you cannot go wrong with it. However, if you want a more thorough understanding of economics, with the mathematics laid out etc. then there are other more advanced economics text for that. Also, I think, given the topics you highlighted, you want to understand more about Macroeconomics, as such these MIT lectures might help:


Also, remember is Economics, like in any subject, there is wide diversity of viewpoints. The best way to choose a side, I feel, is to really look deep into the a topic, delve a bit into the math and make informed decisions as to what gels with your point of view. Ping me if you need any more resources

a_a_r_o_n 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Investopedia has tutorials, including a small handful on economics. A quick way to get oriented before studying further and deeper.


coryl 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure if you're into it, but an entry level economics class at your local college / university. You'll learn how to draw supply and demand curves, different ways of calculating GDP, how oligopolies and monopolies curves look, etc.
SuperChihuahua 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it is Economics in one lesson you should begin with. Its available for free here: http://mises.org/books/economics_in_one_lesson_hazlitt.pdf

It's a classic and easy to read.

brudgers 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Economist magazine.
       cached 9 January 2012 20:05:01 GMT