hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    28 Nov 2012 Ask
home   ask   best   7 years ago   
Show HN: I built a mockup/prototype/wireframe editor in ten weeks
11 points by chaosprophet  1 hour ago   13 comments top 7
dclaysmith 1 hour ago 0 replies      
smallegan 24 minutes ago 1 reply      
Great work!

One Suggestion: When I have a bunch of objects selected and I choose to align them I think it should probably keep the selected elements relative position to each other and apply the alignment to the entire set of elements vs applying individually to each element causing them to smash up if they are on the same horizontal or vertical axis.

GFischer 1 hour ago 1 reply      
First of all, congratulations for shipping :)

Looks nice :) .My first question when I opened it - does it warn you when you're nearing your localStorage quota?

On the points you mention in your blog - are you certain other wireframe tools don't have collaboration?

Points 2 and 3 are pretty important (especially point 3). If other services don't have version control, and yours does, it's an important one.

The rest of the points don't seem that important to me, but I've barely used any mockup tools.

Lastly, how do you plan to monetize?

Good luck and congrats :)

bartb 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
Fantastic! I've seen a lot of these apps and this one looks really promising. Please, carry on :-)
yuchi 16 minutes ago 1 reply      
Superfast issue: Selecting a color in the label popover, and closing the popover does not close the color popover.
davedx 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
I really like it. Saved for later use. Well done!
tommaxwell 33 minutes ago 1 reply      
Congrats on shipping your first product! It looks very clean and awesome so far.
Show HN: My 2 evening project - Twitter Playback
25 points by nopal  9 hours ago   17 comments top 8
nopal 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Clickable: http://www.twitterplayback.com

Replay of movie commentary: http://www.twitterplayback.com/?q=from%3Aaimeemann+OR+from%3...

Tonight's TV: http://www.twitterplayback.com/?q=dancing%20stars

Social media contest: http://www.twitterplayback.com/?q=%23GOU100

Sports: http://www.twitterplayback.com/?q=%23iubb

The page is (hastily) written using JavaScript, so feel free to take a peek. There's a lot more that can be added to this -- most notably, date ranges, but I think it's pretty fun right now. Oh, and the maximum number of results Twitter will let me have per query is 1500, so keep that in mind.

gojomo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome concept and execution!


• I expected there to be a rollback option, perhaps via the '-' button. (Didn't expect to have sticky varying faster-than-realtime rates instead.)

• A slider/timeline-scrubber would probably be ideal, with indicator ticks everywhere there's an upcoming tweet. Then you can either 'play' real-time, and drag-'seek' to any interesting point forward or back, and fairly easily re-sync to an approximate minute after out-of-band DVR ops. (Also, 'next'/'prev' buttons would be more natural accelerated navigation to me, rather than the steppable-FF-rate.)

• Would benefit from explicit 'permalink'/sharing-of-well-crafted-range-query support. Such permalinks could be decorated with more contextual metadata (eg: name of program).

• Does Hulu work in a frame? (Or more generally: permalink metadata mentioned above could include recommended links to legitimate playback sources.)

• You might let people layer in their own lagged tweets by assisting them in using a hashtag offset convention. For example, "#lizanddick #11-25t0h8m blah blah blah".

There were a few startups attempting to enable synchronous group TV-event watching in past years... but I suspect they all suffered from the rise of DVRs among exactly their online-immersed target audience. Leveraging Twitter and allowing a blend of synchrony or asynchrony might work better.

Good luck!

shail 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I like the idea very much. In fact this could be extremely useful if you tweak it a little bit.

How about instead of waiting and controlling the time speed etc. the app itself keeps playing the tweets along with its duration from the last tweet: "after 2 hours", "after 4 days", "after few mins" etc.

That ways I am never waiting for something to appear instead am constantly engaged.

becojo 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm a bit concerned about the name of your project...

Here is an excerpt from Twitter's branding guidelines:

* Use Twitter in the name of your website, application or product.
* Register a domain containing twitter, misspellings, transliterations or similar variations thereof.

gab008 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I know I'll probably get down-voted - but I have to ask: when will people stop building apps/stuff around twitter and facebook...? It's useless (yes, I know - my opinion).

I can understand that it was fun for you to build, no offence - but I don't see the value in things that piggyback on those two services. There are so many real challenges out there...

There, I had to say it (not impressed).

hayksaakian 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It'd be nice to know what they're watching so you could your actual DVR with the twitter dvr
sanderversluys 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool idea! Can be useful sometimes!
riccardoforina 5 hours ago 0 replies      
That's fun!
Engineer turned Sales Pro, happy to help with Sales Strategy and Execution
8 points by MaxZuckerman  9 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: Log file monitoring tool
8 points by sskates  10 hours ago   4 comments top 4
anonymouz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Not SaaS, but why not simply use logcheck (http://logcheck.org/) ? It's free software, and seems to be doing what you want (check log files against a whitelist of entries, send an email with all lines that don't match)
rileywatkins 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Ratchet.io works well for this. http://ratchet.io/
sskates 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I found two, DataDog and Loggly. Anyone have any experience with them?
kt9 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out http://papertrailapp.com. Awesome service!
Ask HN: How much should I sell my Windows Store App for?
5 points by Ralz  9 hours ago   3 comments top 2
tarekayna 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I did some price experimentation with my app (Blu Graphing Calculator). I ranged from 1.49 to 3.99. I kept every price up for around a week. Here are some of my findings:

- Blu was selling the most at $1.99 but the revenue was the most at 3.99 (sold on average more than half of what I sold at 1.99).

- Interestingly enough, it sold much more at 1.99 than at 1.49

I chose to push back to 1.99 for the time-being to increase the # of users.

OafTobark 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I paid $15 for an iOS version (1Password Pro) so I'd imagine you can try at a higher price point. Worse case scenario, you can drop prices later. Much harder to keep increasing prices if there are a lot of users that take notice later. Try something like $4.99 and see how that does.

If traffic falls, but overall profit is up, thats still okay. You got to do a bit of testing to see what will work best.

Script for clicking Proceed button at Google Play cart every 4sec to buy Nexus
6 points by amima  13 hours ago   4 comments top 3
wmf 13 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a better trick. Tab until the proceed button has keyboard focus, then hold down Enter.
t413 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Legendary. Was working on building this exact kindof thing but you beat me to it. Took 1.5 minutes and it worked.

However, it HAS NO DETECTION OF SUCCESS, there is a popup not a page change. If I did it again I'd save the setInterval() result id and then use clearInterval(thatVar) when it works.

SubFuze 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I made a similar one but instead of waiting 4 seconds, it makes a new request after it sees a new error response: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=XWwm8Sdv
Ask HN: Hosting/server for a startup - Should we think in scalability now?
5 points by pmtarantino  11 hours ago   9 comments top 6
webstartupper 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are just starting out i.e. validating the idea - go with the cheapest and the easiest option which allows you to get the site up and running in front of your users. If this means cheap web hosting (assume you have no experience with a VPS) - then so be it. If you have managed a VPS before, then start with the cheapest VPS (say prgmr or linode). You can always easily scale the VPS until you reach a point where you need a dedicated server.

Best to cross the scaling bridge only when you come to it.

fbuilesv 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you are not really into sysadmin stuff you should try to avoid VPS if possible. It's not hard but you don't want to be learning while you have more important stuff to do. Check out Heroku or AppFog.

Having said that, Softlayer has a program called Softlayer Catalyst where they give you $1000/month in hosting expenses, mentoring and some other stuff. You can read more about it and apply here: http://www.softlayer.com/partners/catalyst

timjahn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
We all need great hosting optimized for scaling if our ideas get crazy popular. But until then, you need something that you don't need to worry about, so you can concentrate on building and testing your product.

We recently switched to PagodaBox, because I have no interest in handling sysadmin stuff at the moment, and I'm loving them (writing a blog post about it soon).

Cross the scaling bridge when you come to it. In the mean time, find something solid that just works for now.

devb0x 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I started on shared hosting, moved to webfaction, but grew into VPS. It's just easier if you want to install software that they probably wont install in shared environments.
LastManStanding 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think there is anything wrong with shared hosted during your early prototype states. I love my low cost shared hosting service Alterhosting.com - these guys go above and beyond the call of duty in support - even fixing my applications sometimes.
jokull 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll recommend Heroku.
Ask HN: Why do many major sites fail W3C's markup validation service?
4 points by nomolurcin  9 hours ago   3 comments top 2
mrkmcknz 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that says more about the validation tool rather than the sites failing it.
redegg 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Modern browsers are tolerable with markup not being perfect.

With me, as long as it works, I don't care.

Ask HN: How do you drive traffic to a startup pre-launch landing page?
4 points by gilmanyu  10 hours ago   3 comments top 3
jokull 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Try to hit the jackpot. Reach out to people with large Twitter followings who might be interested. One tweet can bring in as many hits as you pestering your personal network of people who might not even be the target audience. Also do some Google searches and leave useful comments on blog posts where your product could come in useful. I'm launching a private forum service for example, I google for people asking how to make a forum software configured to be private. Boom, there's me pointing out www.oath.is - my new startup blabla.

Just some ideas.

relaunched 10 hours ago 0 replies      
For all intents and purposes you don't. People that already have substantial followings can drive traffic for you. If you are a normal person, you can grind out signups, but those people will forget who are you by the time you launch.

So, what's a person to do? Well, build a product worth using. Get a few people using it and enable them to spread the word for you.

Good luck!

timjahn 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Use your existing networks. When we had our initial landing page up for matchist (http://matchist.com), my co-founder and I used our networks to spread the word. That consisted of our Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and other personal connections via email.

We also had an existing community from our other company, Entrepreneurs Unpluggd, which was actually our target customer base, so we sent out some emails to them as well.

Ask HN: What is the highest trafficked website run by an individual?
49 points by dumbfounder  18 hours ago   64 comments top 19
noblethrasher 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Hacker News is (was?) mostly run by one person and, about a year ago, was getting over 2.4 million uniques per month and 26 million page views.

Source: http://ycombinator.com/newsnews.html

ry 18 hours ago 5 replies      
Drudge Report


033,621,596 PAST 24 HOURS
1,218,005,142 PAST 31 DAYS
11,345,750,362 PAST YEAR

indiecore 18 hours ago 1 reply      
My gut reaction was 4chan as well and I feel like that's probably true; well, for the English speaking world anyway.
ceslami 18 hours ago 1 reply      
seanlinehan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Twicsy is sort of NSFW for anybody who make check it out. Some naked breasts just popped up on my screen in public. Not exactly an ideal outcome, though not unexpected for a "trending" section on a Twitter picture search engine.
wallawe 18 hours ago 1 reply      
How does Twicsy do revenue wise? I would love to hear the story behind it and how you got to that many users.
stbtrax 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Imgur until somewhat recently was run by an individual.
kayge 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I think Matthew Inman from TheOatmeal.com does pretty well. According to Wiki (not the best source, I know) : "As of 2010, the website got an average of 4.6 million unique visitors and more than 20 million page views a month."
dangrossman 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I run W3Counter which tracks over 100 million page views a month. Every load involves both reading from and writing to a database, and about 50% of the time, dynamic image generation... so no CDNs or response caching.
centdev 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I run a site that generates 300m pvs on mobile web, 100m pvs on desktop with 2.7m uniques every month (I believe this is actually substantially higher but not fully tracked in Google Analytics for some reason).
entropy_ 15 hours ago 1 reply      
They just posted this notice:

Google Play is currently experiencing very high traffic. Nexus 4 is not sold out and will still be available for purchase. Please try again shortly. Thank you for your patience.

There is hope yet

velodrome 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I started a message board service for a few years back. The service had 35-40M pv/mo, 10-12M unique/mo, and more than 1.2M users. Also, the site was in the Alexa 1000 for a few months before it was sold.

I was the only engineer on the project. We had 5-10 volunteers to help support our service (general help, technical support, etc). So, to say I ran the service myself would be a lie.

gprasanth 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I block google analytics, and I think many others too do so(yay! for ghostery).

You probably are getting a little(lot?) more visitors than what ga says.

pbhjpbhj 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Under what definition. Do they need to just run the content, does having [significant] UGC count as being self-run (I'd warrant not [+ what is significant]). Do they have to run it all down to the bare metal or is a managed server environment allowed. What about regular colo'? Does the site have to run it's own DNS.

No man['s website] is an island.

sayemm 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting post by Markus Frind on just that, "Digital 100, most valuable boot strapped company" - http://plentyoffish.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/digital-100-mos...
joe_bleau 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Drudge report?
Zaheer 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a site that get 1.5 million monthly uniques according to GA as well.
dschiptsov 18 hours ago 0 replies      
ntulip 18 hours ago 3 replies      
okcupid.com was for a long time.
Ask HN: What's the best site to get feedback on code / concepts?
2 points by djtriptych  8 hours ago   discuss
San Francisco Hacker News meetup happening this Thursday
86 points by lowglow  1 day ago   34 comments top 19
hunvreus 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'll be there with 2 colleagues from Shanghai where we've been organizing a HN meetup every month for the past year and a half (http://shanghaihn.org/).
tylermenezes 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice to see these spreading to SF! I used to go to the ones in Seattle. You might want to consider creating an event on Meetup, it's tended to work better for us for recurring events like these should hopefully become.
snikolic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in. Just moved to SF and ready to meet some awesome new folks!
necubi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, got one of the last spots after only 47 minutes. Maybe a larger venue is warranted?
donebizkit 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great. I am in. I just moved to SF and need some community friction.
aclimatt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looking forward to seeing everybody there. How many spots were available?
nthitz 1 day ago 1 reply      
What goes on at these meetups?
nicw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Signed up, looking forward! Managed to get a 'pending' ticket that was dropped by a fellow HNer. Thanks, whoever you are.
DanielRibeiro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great! Being one block away from home/work, there is absolutely no excuse for me not to go.
davecyen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for organizing. Free is very appreciated. Sounds like format/agenda is still in the works, any possibility of posting a rough idea of what to expect before would be sweet.
magicarp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Psyched to meet some HNers in SF!
suyash 1 day ago 1 reply      
Btw can you change the name of FB group from San Francisco to SF Bay Area..since most people don't live in the city but surrounding areas?
nodesocket 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can't make this one, but certainly interested in attending the next.
pdufour 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sweet, just registered.
iwaffles 1 day ago 0 replies      
See you guys there!
suyash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome...more meetups in Bay Area!
lsiebert 1 day ago 0 replies      
Damn, I'm in class then. Next time.
noinput 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looking forward to it!
Any advice to a sw eng who can't remember/be expert on stuff
3 points by blindra  9 hours ago   4 comments top 2
maxdemarzi 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I have the same "problem". I have a terrible memory but can learn new things very fast. I solved my problem by having a technical blog and a metric ton of github projects online.

http://maxdemarzi.com 40 some technical posts)
http://github.com/maxdemarzi almost 100 public and private repos)

Makes it easy to recall how I did something or "re-learn" how to do it.

ppereira 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Try converting quick reference card into a deck for Anki. If an online quick reference is not available, the regular structure of language reference manuals and apis makes it straight-forward to create a card deck for the tool of your choice.
Ask HN: Does anyone know why Hacker News was down today?
10 points by dsr12  21 hours ago   2 comments top 2
nicholassmith 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure if it's the case this time, but from previous comments I've read on here HN is run on minimal hardware and when something does go wrong they reboot it and go from there. I've seen it happen a few times now, depends what time of day you check in.
preinheimer 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: How do you write great sentences, paragraphs, or articles?
123 points by ekpyrotic  2 days ago   78 comments top 44
zedshaw 2 days ago 5 replies      
Try this out:

1. Get the book "Adios Strunk And White". Strunk And White is a horrible book to learn how to actually write English well. It's full of contradictions, has some bad grammar in it, doesn't follow its own advice, and tries to make English a proscriptive language rather than dynamic like it is. The Adios book basically breaks you out of the S&W mode of thinking and gets you thinking about different forms and techniques you can practice without being proscriptive.

2. Do object writing every day. There's a site http://objectwriting.com/ that has some, but you can also hit http://wordnik.com/random to get a random work. You then try to write for 10 minutes about or with that word using all your senses, including your kinetic and sense of self.

3. Blog something every day. Doesn't matter what it is but spend at least 30 minutes writing about something.

4. Learn about story structure. A good book is "The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller" and should fit the coder mind really well. Another book is Joseph Cambell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" to learn core mythical story structures.

5. Study subtext and context. If this paragraph is about what to study, the subtext is that I think most programmers can't write for shit because they're too logical, and the context is I'm telling people this on hacker news. Universally I find programmers terrible at both subtext and context of the written word.

6. Spend all the rest of your time learning to not censor yourself so that you have a voice that's yours, not the voice you think you should have.

7. Margaret Atwood had the best advice about being blocked. Paraphrased it's, "Blockage is either a problem of voice or structure. If it's voice, change who's telling the story. If it's structure, change the opening scene." She's damn right, but what do you expect from Margaret Atwood? Shitty advice?

8. Try writing in one form as if it's another. For example, write prose like it's poetry. Write poetry like its prose.

9. Get better at describing or saying the absurd. Stare at something and then describe it from unique points of view or in bizarre ways.

10. Keep a notebook and write down every idea you have, then try to make it happen. Also a great thing for songs and poems. I should actually do this more.

There ya go.

austingunter 2 days ago 4 replies      
As a person whose core skillset is writing, not programming, I feel more qualified to comment on this particular HN thread than most others which I prefer to demure on.

I love the question about how to write well. It's the craft I've dedicated my life to, and I'm grateful to see a group of really smart people investing time in the skill. It validates the effort I've poured into becoming the writer I am today. Particularly since I've chosen to be a writer in the startup community, which sometimes makes me feel singled out or awash in a sea of programmers :-)

To start, writing is often broken down into discrete rules like Grammar and Syntax as well as Word Choice and Sentence Length, all of which could be summed up as the overall Style of a particular piece of writing. I love the Nabokov quote below because he's one of the all-time greats, and although Hemingway is my favorite author of all time, the critique of leaving things out is valid. One of the supposedly set-in-stone commandments of writing, particularly for the web is to focus on brevity above all else because the audience is presumed to have the attention span of a gnat, particularly when Mark Zuckerburg's mind-melding software is constantly clamoring for your attention and mental processing power...but I digress.

My approach as a writer is to place all of the stylistic and grammatical elements of writing in a distant second place to a thorough understanding of your audience. Understanding who you need your app's content to connect with is the only thing that matters, and will give you all the data you need to write grammatically, and choose the right words, or use synonyms. To put another way, writing is just communication. Good writing only means communicating effectively.

Understanding your audience tells you which rules of grammar your audience don't care about and that you can therefore break.

Have you ver read a sentence on a website that ended a sentence with a preposition and wondered what the hell the writer was on?

Of course, I'm singling out poor grammar in the previous sentence as a way to make a point. I broke a rule simply as a tactic to get your attention, and then point out that if I've got your attention, then my writing style was effective. I can only get your attention if I know what you're paying attention to, because I've done the work to deeply understand what motivates you.

HackerNews is largely a developer audience. Developers are a detail-oriented bunch, and I take that into account whenever I post here. In the above example, by making a calculated error and hiding it in the middle of several paragraphs, I'm essentially leaving my message hidden in plain sight, because I know that most of my readers on this post have spent hours in front of their computers paying attention and even exploiting tiny details as they bend software to their will.

Yep, leaving a preposition at the end of the sentence is grammatically incorrect, and even grates on most people who are detail-oriented for a living. But that actually makes it effective.

If I were writing this the same way I wrote my honors thesis on the Pick-Up Artist Community, I wouldn't have left a single preposition hanging out there. Different audience. My style had to reflect the purpose.

Your style and your message are affected by the following things, in the following order:

1) Your audience - Perform a customer development, or what I call "rhetorical analysis" on your audience to get into their heads. Survey them to develop a profile of who they are and how they want to communicate with them. This is why Ramit Sethi of iwillteachyoutoberich.com is constantly surveying his lists. He finds patterns of language in the responses and uses them in product development and marketing.

2) Your communication medium - Use words differently in email than on Twitter. Write your blog posts differently than your white papers. Consider the constraints of the communication medium and learn to exploit them. For example, Twitter's 140 characters means certain grammar rules are expected to be broken. But there are rules about breaking those rules as well. "U wont git far if u luv 2 tweet lik dis."

3) Your communication mode - a fancy way of analyzing the "genre" of your communication. Basically, what's the feel or the sense of your communication. Different modes in literature are poetry and prose. Different modes in startups are the mode used when you ask for an introduction as when you develop your business plan.

4) Your goals with each communication - what do you actually want to accomplish, and then how can you approach that goal in such a way that it will resonate deeply with your audience, fit into the given medium, and be in line with the context and reader expectations of the communication mode?

Before I sit down to write anything, I mentally (or literally on paper) do a rhetorical analysis of my audience, the medium, and my goals. Here's what I came up with for this comment on HN.

Audience: Hackers, entrepreneurs, startup folks, wantrapreneurs, highly intelligent, subtle, intensely focused and motivated to read long pieces IF they are learning something, LEARNING is a primary motivator, Opinionated and reality-based so high need to provide specific examples to general rhetorical principles, detail-oriented from years of writing code, or simply by birth.

Medium: HackerNews forums. Highly trafficked, vibrant discussions, sometimes full of intense disagreements, an appropriate forum for a larger comment, ONLY if every word is carefully chosen. Brevity would be preferred, but long-form prose will be tolerated if writer managed to be interesting and informative along the way.

Mode: Deductive reasoning, dry and analytical, ethos of "sharing" and "contribution" over "self-aggrandizement" or "self-promotion." Smart, accomplished people sharing what they've learned over the years, contributing insight to the community in one giant effort to support one another's growth. Sometimes hostile to marketing or sales. Beware of trolls...

My goals: To share my strategy to be successful at my craft with a group of fellow startup folks who I admire and am motivated to spend time around. To add my own life experience to the mix in hopes of helping someone become a better writer. To increase my own visibility and prominence in the group over time, and develop a good reputation in the long term. To feel smart (not relevant to writing effectively, but shared in the spirit of honesty).

I could keep writing about this, apparently, since my ideas keep flowing, but this is a monster post already, so I want to simply thank you all if you've managed to read this far. I hope we can talk more in the comments.

diiq 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I write a sentence, I use five stone questions1.

  Does it say what you mean?
Can it be clearer?
Can it more closely match overall tone?
Can it be made more novel?
Can it be made more beautiful (prosody)?

The five priorities at which the questions aim are meaning, clarity (which includes brevity), tone, novelty (avoiding cliche), and prosody (and other aesthetics).

When I've first drafted a sentence, I start from the top of the list, and ask these questions in turn. Asking them forces me to think about an answer; it prevents laziness. As soon as the answer to question suggests a possible change, I make that change, and start again from the top. I repeat until time constraints force me onward.

This is a great process, because if I have very little time, I end up concentrating only on meaning. If I have all the time in the world, I get to also play with the sound of the words, and the play of the tongue.

Questions about meaning, clarity, tone, novelty, and beauty can also be fruitfully applied at paragraph and treatise levels; but my greatest concern is usually for the sentence.

1. http://diiq.org/five_stone_questions.html

c0riander 2 days ago 1 reply      
In high school, I was lucky to have multiple teachers who were sticklers for imparting the essential building blocks of strong writing. We spent a lot of time "in the weeds," rote-learning vocabulary, sentence patterns, paragraph construction, and finally, structures for the expository essay (above and beyond the academic essay we mastered in school.)

The surprising thing, even to someone like me who considers herself a good writer to begin with, was how important working through each "level" of writing was. While I haven't reviewed the foundations in a long time (I probably should), because I spent so much time painstakingly memorizing the contents of each earlier on, I can now write quickly and confidently and usually be pretty close to correct.

Here are some books I'd recommend for each level:

1) Vocabulary - Wordly Wise (the older the version of the book, the better the word lists), such as here: http://www.amazon.com/Wordly-Wise-Book-Kenneth-Hodkinson/dp/...

2) Sentence structure - The Art of Styling Sentences, http://www.amazon.com/The-Styling-Sentences-K-D-Sullivan/dp/...

3) Paragraph construction - Paragraphs and Essays (the part on paragraph construction and patterns is very straightforward, basic, and clear, I don't think it's worth buying the whole book though), http://www.amazon.com/Paragraphs-Essays-With-Integrated-Read...

4) Expository essays - Encounters: Essays for Exploration and Inquiry (this is the textbook NYU uses to teach "Writing the Essay"), http://www.amazon.com/Encounters-Exploration-Inquiry-Pat-Hoy...

danso 2 days ago 0 replies      
You already covered "favour the concrete over the abstract" but I do think "show, don't tell" can't be reiterated enough.

The biggest problem I find when editing other people's writing is the use of redundant assertions, e.g. "The Acme App is blazingly fast", when factual statements will do: "In the same time it took for CompetitorApp to load, the AcmeApp had already performed 2 qunitpleflops of foos"

A harmful side effect of the "tell" approach is the huge amount of time people spend thesaurus-hacking: trying to find different adjectives to say the same thing, over and over.

I know your question is about overall coherency and flow, but unfortunately many writers fail at the basic general rules, which makes it difficult to polish the body of writing as a whole.

For a practical step, I suggest writing the entirety of the piece without adjectives, and perhaps without concern for transitions. If the writing is nonsensicial or uninteresting in its barest form, then the writer should focus on better content. The style is easy to add later.

jasonshen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Write a lot. While it sounds obvious, the fact is that most people find ways to avoid doing the hard work of actually writing. Ideally the writing is public, but better to write in private than not at all.

Read good writing. You need to develop good taste and good taste is developed and refined by reading good writing. Publications like The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review and Esquire have distinct and powerful voices worth studying. Same goes for pg's essays, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Cal Newport.

Edit and revise. I used to hate revising my work. One and done was my motto. But I've learned that it's only through numerous revisions that great writing is born. There's usually opportunity to 2x your writing in the revisions.

Write for your reader. While all writing is in some form, an exercise for the ego, strive as much as possible to write for the benefit of your reader. Remember that they are here to be informed, entertained and moved - focus on doing that and like a compass you'll always move toward great writing.

Good luck!

spenrose 2 days ago 4 replies      
Here is a well-reviewed book on this topic:


From the editorial reviews:

"Telling me to 'Be clear,' " writes Joseph M. Williams in Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, "is like telling me to 'Hit the ball squarely.' I know that. What I don't know is how to do it." If you are ever going to know how to write clearly, it will be after reading Williams' book, which is a rigorous examination of--and lesson in--the elements of fine writing.

verdverm 2 days ago 3 replies      
The article "The Science of Scientific Writing" (www.unc.edu/~haipeng/teaching/sci.pdf) forever change my writing.

It's writing for the unconscious psychology of the reader's expectations. It also has a great list of points to keep in mind while writing.

1. Follow a grammatical subject as soon as possible with its verb.

2. Place in the stress position the "new information" you want the reader to emphasize.

3. Place the person or thing whose "story" a sentence is telling at the beginning of the sentence, in the
topic position.

4. Place appropriate "old information" (material already stated in the discourse) in the topic position
for linkage backward and contextualization forward.

5. Articulate the action of every clause or sentence in its verb.

6. In general, provide context for your reader before asking that reader to consider anything new.

7. In general, try to ensure that the relative emphases of the substance coincide with the relative
expectations for emphasis raised by the structure.

qeorge 2 days ago 1 reply      
Buy Dragon Naturally Speaking and start dictating. You can pump out an amazing amount of words when you don't have to write them down.

Then edit your giant pile of words into something better, instead of starting from a blank page.

The more you "write" the better you'll get. This is a hack for writing faster so you can speed up your progress.

mseebach 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are a number of tools available, but as with programming, it's primarily a question of being able to recognize great writing. Once you can recognize great writing, you can more or less just iterate: 1) Write 2) Is it great? (yes) Done (no) Go to 1.

Bad programmers can't recognize good or bad code, so they stop once it works. Same for bad writers.

ot 2 days ago 0 replies      
For an ironic take on rhetorical devices have a look at this blog (in particular the older posts):


Each post is an example of a writing technique... overdone. I find it brilliant in how it manages to be hilarious and insightful at the same time.

gdubs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use short sentences. And break traditional rules. Like using "and" or "but" at the beginning of a sentence. Favor verbs. Avoid superfluous adjectives.

Paragraphs can be brief.

Bring people into your writing, wherever possible. That is, express your ideas through relatable stories involving people, wherever possible.

Many of these tips were yanked from Cliff Stoll, author of "The Cuckoo's Egg". As well as a book called, "The Art of PlainTalk", by Rudolph Flesch. Stoll was responding to criticism that his first book had been ghostwritten -- few could believe the guy could actually write.

Lastly, write frequently. A writing teacher of mine used to have us "free write" every morning for fifteen minutes. That's where you start writing about the first thing that pops in your head, and you don't stop writing until the time is up. Give it a try.

irahul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Basic writing advice:


Macro structure:


Though it inclines towards fiction, I find it useful with non-fiction as well.

yolesaber 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just like with coding, improving your wordcraft is a two-fold process: read and write. If you are reading a lot of quality work from various genres (articles, blog posts, short stories, journalism, poetry et al), you will be constantly learning new words, sentence structures, phrasings, all the tools of writing. Then, by writing a lot you will be able to put these new techniques to use and figure out what works best with your particular approach to writing. I learned to write effective fiction and poetry (I've been published in literary magazines and been invited to read at several events) by close-reading all my inspirations and then practicing writing in their style. Once I got a feel for what made Reverdy "Reverdy", I was able to approach my own work in the same manner which results in magnitudes of improvement.

It is also imperative to constantly be rereading your older work, not only as a measure to see how much you've improved but also as a way to reinforce positive progress. If I can read an article from a few months ago that I wrote and not want to close the browser window immediately, then I consider that a worthy article and it boosts my confidence.

That being said, I have found that flow-charting ideas is good for building up the structural integrity of a piece, especially if it is more on the analytic side. You have assertions (themes, viewpoints) and then linkages between them (facts, observations). By building a flow-chart you can see how they weave and if your implications make sense. A visual overview is very helpful in this regard. It keeps your writing tight and succinct. Again, this is just a personal opinion - the writing process is a difficult and stressful one because there really are no universal "tricks" or approaches to quality, worthwhile work.

wildranter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jakob Nilsen guarantees that if you don't follow these rules only your mom will read your text.

- Use words that make sense to your audience.

- Convey one idea in each paragraph.

- Introduce the paragraph's idea in the first sentence so people can quickly decide whether to read the paragraph.

- Use meaningful headings.

- Highlight keywords.

- Use bullet lists.

- Keep text short, simple, and informal.

- Start text with conclusions, and include a summary of its content.

wallflower 2 days ago 0 replies      
Writing can be dissected analytically but there is always a component of emotional appeal that makes writing connect.

One of the best examples I can think of is the story of Sugru:


To practice writing with emotional appeal, I suggest you practice public speaking. For instance, go to a public forum like a lecture or zoning board meeting where there is a formal Q&A period (with a microphone set up). Listen to the discussion/lecture and wait in line for the mic and attempt to articulate an argument/point of view that is short and draws on a personal story and makes a point.

I also recommend Stephen King's "On Writing"


Good luck!

pdog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Vladimir Nabokov, whose prose style ranks among the best, said: “Style and structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.”

The vast majority of writers and bloggers today use a truncated writing style (perhaps reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway or Raymond Carver).

You can present your ideas like this, clearly and coherently, but the best essays and articles do something more than just articulate ideas.

e12e 2 days ago 1 reply      
The best single source I've come across that helps with writing, is "On Writing Well":


It has plenty of examples and advice on various types of writing.

Beyond that, my advice is to simply read good texts. One starting point would be:


Or, for something newer:


While doing a quick search, I also came across this:


Which seems to be a great starting point.

Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Avoid starting sentences with the same word as a nearby sentence, and paragraphs with the same letter as a nearby paragraph.

Don't make sentences too long. Just start a new one.

Learn how to transpose matter-of-fact statements/paragraphs into witty or memorable text by juxtaposing tones or images on what the reader was expecting. See Michael Lewis's books for an example, or Charles Stross's blog (antipope.org).

brudgers 2 days ago 1 reply      
Short answer, I usually don't.

Longer answer, the more I write on HN the better my writing probably becomes because I get feedback from "my" audience in the form of comments and votes.

Over the past week, I read And So It Goes, a biography of Kurt Vonnegut. He spent fifteen years as a full time writer before Slaughterhouse Five was published. He had been writing press releases for GE before that. He had written for his campus newspaper while in college. He had worked for news bureau. It didn't come overnight.

I don't know much about writing well, but writing better is hard work. I suspect that the 10,000 hour rule applies. When reading PG's latest essay, keep in mind that he has been a published author for nearly twenty years.

Good luck.

antidoh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Put your absolutely most important point at the top.

Make your words, sentences, paragraphs and articles as short and simple as possible. People don't read, they skim.

(Where you used "reiterates," I would have used "repeats" or "gives.")

Read what you write, and move your lips when you do it. A good sentence sounds good.

QuantumGood 2 days ago 0 replies      
An argument must be coherent to the writer too! That often means getting clear on what your most compelling point is.

So it's worth knowing about this phenomenon:

Typically, once a writer warms to their topic, they make their most compelling point. You need to find that point and move it to the beginning of your writing, usually the headline.

For newer writers, it often occurs somewhere around the third paragraph. (Some writing coaches will simply have you delete everything you wrote before that, and open with it.)

For more emotional writers, or folks who are worked up about their topic, it often occurs very near the end.

For experienced writers failing to put their main point in the headline it's in the first sentence or paragraph.

Some writers get used to this phenomenon, write freely, and then simply remove most of what they've written once they realize they're onto their most compelling point.

Read a lot of blog posts, and you'll be amazed how many writers make this oversight, usually consistently in the same way. Learn your own pattern, and you'll learn to find your most compelling point.

rezendi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bona fides / credibility: I'm an award-winning novelist and occasional journalist. (Though I'm also a TechCrunch columnist, which presumably cripples my credibility if you're a knee-jerk hater of all things TC...)

The single best way to improve your writing is to read a lot of great writing. For nonfiction, I recommend, in particular:

- George Orwell
- John McPhee
- Ryszard Kapuscinski
- Gail Collins

The second best way to improve your writing is to learn how to see what is wrong with it. (Or, as Hemingway once said, "The one thing a writer needs most is a first-rate bullshit detector.") Don't focus on writing well, at least not at first. Focus on learning how to read like a first-time reader, and on _editing_ well. In time the writing will follow.

doctorpangloss 2 days ago 0 replies      
For the NYTimes, I write about tech history and history of science. I see 3 common problems with "startup" writing, i.e., the language of young college males:

1. Do not condescend. I immediately broke this rule above"it gets attention, but it doesn't convince. E.g., tweet-length commentary about complex subjects is condescending.

2. Delete rhetoric.

3. Graphics are a good hook, but they rarely explain anything.

ctdonath 2 days ago 1 reply      
Read Stephen King's "On Writing", the chapter "Toolbox".

Stick to the point. People read in soundbites, so don't squander what little time you have their attention.

Don't repeat words, use synonyms.

aidian 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read all the time; write all the time.

As far as 'process', play with different stuff and find what works for you. I find it does help to outline a bit -- but only in the most informal way. I edit better on paper. Hunter Thompson actually typed The Great Gatsby to get a feel for Fitzgerald's rhythms. Fuck around until something fits.

Edit your copy ruthlessly. I will routinely change 90% of my copy between first and final drafts.

Keep your audience in mind: who you're writing for should affect every word.

Write as tight as possible.

teeja 2 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of non-fiction ideas I recall from my (very enjoyable) freshman writing class. Consider as rules-of-thumb.

* Write about what you enjoy writing about. If you're bored it'll probably rub off on readers.

* Begin with a summary of where you're going. (Here's where your hooks go.) This is where you remind yourself what you aim to say ... and, coincidentally, your readers.

* Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. Readers can then scan for interests. We've all got too much to read.

* Memorize Strunk and White. Clear, concise, to the point. Cut out the fat and cut to the chase.

* Notice which writers capture your attention and leave you glad you read them. Learn by tearing apart how they did it. Notice which writers are gasbags ... and tear apart what they're doing wrong.

* When you're done, stop.

ams6110 2 days ago 1 reply      
Get a copy of The Elements of Style. It's like K&R for writing. Then practice. Join a local writing group. Write essays. Keep a journal. Write letters to the editor or guest columns for the local paper. Blog. Etc. Like anything else, the way to learn something is to do it.

Edit: also read a lot, and try to identify writing that resonates with you, and then work out why that is.

Petrushka 2 days ago 1 reply      
KISS. Too much writing in the non-fiction world, whether it be academic, scientific, or related to business, is far too complex for its own good. This is seemingly to overwhelm, to simultaneously weed out and impress those who are not deeply versed in the subject, but in almost no cases is that a positive development. For academia and science, the point of your work should be to encourage knowledge and learning, which complex language in no way helps. In business, the last thing you want to do is assume a level of expertise from a customer, except in very specific and rare circumstances.

I am aware that there are certain fields and types of works that have to use difficult phrasing and structure for the purpose of limiting ambiguity, but often such writing is found in cases where such strictness is not necessary. So, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

P.S. - Not trying to be rude, but your initial post is a great example of writing at a more complex level that is in anyway necessary. Micro- and macrostructure, the usage of an undefined and unnecessary acronym in USP? It doesn't matter whether it is a safe assumption that your audience knows what you are talking about, as you never know when that audience may shift without your knowledge.

orangethirty 2 days ago 0 replies      
You mean how to become a good copywriter? Learn how to sell first. Then its easy as pie.
pmb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Make every sentence work with the whole in moving the reader towards your intended goal.
Kroem3r 2 days ago 0 replies      
Avoid cliches. A cliche being a phrase that is familiar but content-free or even contradictory. Like, "I don't mean to be a jerk, but ..."

This helps tune your focus on making each word participate in creating meaning in the head of your reader.

Also, avoid creative analogies.

Someone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I often use "write it down. Now, edit it so that you have the same content in half the words. Then, repeat that" to make my writing more coherent. A 75% reduction may not be attainable, but aiming for it makes you think about what you want to say and what not, and gets rid of words and phrases that do not provide content.
fidanov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Read successful blogs, books and marketing sites and look how they use words and sentences. Then write, write and write again. Each new sentence your write, the better you will become. There is no shortcut to learn this.
stevewilhelm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Macro advise: read a lot of material similar to what you hope to write. Write a lot, you only get better with practice. Collaborate with a good editor.

Books: The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, Shertzer's The Elements of Grammar, and Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.

idupree 2 days ago 0 replies      
Practice writing that has an observable effect. For example, write Facebook statuses and see who "likes" or "comments" on them. Think about how you write emails and to whom. See what styles and contents tend to be effective. Try different variations.

(Don't draw conclusions too soon; there is a lot of random variation in responses.)

Also I agree with what everyone else recommends. But, in my experience, there's no substitute for these real-world experiments that appear in my day-to-day life.

ph0rcyas 2 days ago 0 replies      

  Give up pursuing eloquence, unless
You can speak as you feel! One's very heart
Must pour it out, with primal powers address
One's hearers and compel them with an art
Deeper than words. Clip and compile, and brew
From the leavings of others your ragout
Of rhetoric, pump from your embers
A few poor sparks that nobody remembers!

mkr-hn 2 days ago 0 replies      

You get better at a craft by doing it until you're good enough to know what you're missing. You'll know what kind of tips to look for at that point.

TreyS 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a great guide to writing clearly/concisely:


rhizome 2 days ago 0 replies      
Step 1: Don't use unexpanded acronyms or anything like "USP."
bobinator30 2 days ago 0 replies      
there are many thoughtful and useful long responses to this question, but I would like to paraphrase the advice my best writing teacher gave me:

to write well, do as much reading and writing as you can.

handstad 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should read the book by Barbara Minto named "The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving." See http://www.barbaraminto.com/textbook.html
evanx 2 days ago 0 replies      
i go with the "less or more" - it might not have more information per se, but more people will read more of it

can you express the same idea using less words for the sentence in question?

can you eliminate or combine sentences/paragraphs to still get the essential point across ?

sacrifice some extra information for the sake of clearer focus

having said that, i like to add non-essential information which is humourous - to keep the reader entertained and engaged

bawjaws 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read great novels of all era's.

Also, cultivate good email relationships with people from far away that you love and respect.

ShowHN: buddycloud, a distributed social network
62 points by imaginator  22 hours ago   37 comments top 12
imaginator 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Simon (https://demo.buddycloud.org/simon@buddycloud.org) from the buddycloud team here. Happy to answer any questions about the bc architecture or our approach.
e12e 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Very nice, from a quick look this looks closer to my design sketches for an open social network than the earlier contenders.

It wasn't entirely clear from a quick look at the wiki: What is postgresql used for? Metadata on media? How is authentication handled?

Apologies if I overlooked some obvious documentation (I confess I haven't looked at the code).

Are there any good comprehensive design overview documents?

I'd be interested in how much would be needed to (re)implement a stand alone version, running on a single technology for easy low-scale deployment (eg: running xmpp, mediaserver and api(?)-server all on top of nodejs, or via simple go-based servers)?

earroway 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Great idea. Wish the project much success. Once it is further along, my startup will give this product a shot -- in particular the java server integration is of interest to me.

Whenever a module/feature gets completed, please consider creating short how-to docs/videos. This is a consumer oriented product, so friction to deploy should be minimal.

ojr 18 hours ago 1 reply      
The one luring problem with these distributed social network sites are the transparency with the target audience and its creators, most of your most potential audience is not going to care much of how the backend is constructed, rather your users will focus on the design of the app and what they can see, the field of distributed networks is an interesting one and wrangling with apis and libraries is where I feel web programming will be heading for a long time, good luck in your distributed/startup endeavors!
abcd_f 19 hours ago 1 reply      
> ... a magically simple way.

I'm sorry, but the only person who could plausibly pull off "magically" in a product description was Jobs. I would strongly suggest rewording this part so not lose people in the first 3 seconds on the site.

kbateman 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent news, good luck and good progress. Good to see such rapid progress to this release !
juanbyrge 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Are any of my friends on it ?
gbraad 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Simon, great news! Things have moved along since our last talk at FOSDEM. :-
Nux 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Yet another thing nobody will use, but I guess at least it's a nice learning experience for the devs.

Good luck!

flyinRyan 19 hours ago 1 reply      
How will you generate revenue?
adrianwaj 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Any way you can make it more appealing to bitcoiners?
Ask HN: Are you alone in San Francisco on Thanksgiving?
467 points by MediaSquirrel  5 days ago   94 comments top 53
MediaSquirrel 5 days ago 2 replies      
Amazed by the turnout. What an awesome thanksgiving!


kloncks 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is beautiful and shows one of the coolest parts of a great community like Silicon Valley. Thanks for giving back, Matt.

I sincerely hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving!

blhack 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's only a 12 hour drive from Phoenix! I can make it!

(I'm kidding, that would put me in SF around 1:00am -- hanging out in the hackerspace with my girlfriend making stuff instead :) )

rgrieselhuber 5 days ago 0 replies      
Matt is one of the coolest people in the Bay Area and it is definitely worth spending the day with him if you're on your own today.
malandrew 5 days ago 0 replies      
Bummer. I kind of wish I hadn't agree to go to my gf's family's house. I would rather be nerding out.
louwhopley 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not in America, but would really like to know how many people actually asked to join you?

Happy Thanksgiving!

sixQuarks 5 days ago 2 replies      
Very nice of you! on a related note, I'm curious. SwigMe.com seems very interesting, but I would think there are a lot of legal loopholes you need to jump through, no? What happens when teenagers try to order and present a good fake ID at the door?
mladenkovacevic 5 days ago 0 replies      
Happy thanksgiving to you Yanks from the south. What I find cool is that you say you started your entrepreneurial jaunt at 29. I'm 30 and just taking step 0.23 in my self-employment scheme but I often feel like I'm maybe too old to be trying out for this particular team. It's encouraging that it seems it's never too late to just try building something. So thanks for that :
vlokshin 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Kudos to you for posting, Matt.

I just moved to the city (it'll be 1 month tomorrow), but luckily I had great friends waiting for me who I'll be enjoying the evening with.

But the awesomeness of this post almost makes me want to join you regardless haha

zensavona 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is truly awesome, it's so nice to see that (although there is at times bickering) the HN community still is alive at heart.
bravura 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well done, Matt.

We haven't hung out in a while. Let's get together when I come to SF in January.

chrisyeh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Matt is a mensch! Great to see you're continuing to fly the entrepreneurial flag.
hakaaak 5 days ago 0 replies      
Way to go! Good turnout, too!

It makes me sad that all the HN stuff typically appears to revolve around SF and SV area, though. I feel left out. I think the problem is that PG and YC are on that side of the world, and the rest of us get screwed. I'd like to see a map of IPs geoplotted for the last hour, last day, last week, month, year, all time for those hitting HN, those commenting, those with the most karma points, etc. I'd like to feel like it isn't all west coast U.S., NYC, and India.

shanelja 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's a shame this isn't the UK - I'm going to be alone for christmas this year and it would have been cool to spend it with like minded, kind people such as yourself and Gautam.
dmor 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awww Matt, happy thanksgiving - hope get to celebrate with you sometime!
macey 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! That's really cool, Matt. Cheers to helping everyone get a little higher on Maslow's pyramid today.

On that note... Here's a link to donate to the SF food bank's holiday food drive.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

maxwin 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am alone but not in SF. It is really nice of you. You are truly having a great Thanksgiving day.
axyjo 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in Santa Clara, (so I won't be able to come up) but I'd like to help out. Any way I can chip in to the meal?
acoyfellow 5 days ago 0 replies      
You are awesome. Cheers from Pennsylvania!
onedev 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you so much for being an awesome human being. People like you are my motivation.
joshaidan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Let us know how many people show up!
simonebrunozzi 5 days ago 0 replies      
You're so nice Matt. Big hugs to you!

Sometimes I see random acts of kindness (like yours), and they still surprise me.

I bet every one of us did a few, and received a few.

sown 5 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad it takes caltrain 1.5 hours to get up there from SJ. oh well. Thanksfor the offer and happy thanksgiving
richo 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is such an outrageously awesome thing that you have done.


SiVal 5 days ago 0 replies      
One more thing to give thanks for is people like you, Matt.
jeremy_k 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was an awesome event! Just wanted to give a shutout to Matt for hosting all of us. It was great to meet tons of people from around the world who were all in the same position. It really made my day to know this community supports each other so much.
leemor13 5 days ago 1 reply      
Would take you up if I were down there! All the way up in Vancouver, BC but I'll take a raincheck :).
codex_irl 5 days ago 2 replies      
An especially happy Thanksgiving to anyone here from out of town or away from friends & family!
dcope 5 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't apply to me but this is absolutely fantastic. It's great to see people with kind souls doing nice things.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Credit_Swarm 5 days ago 0 replies      
That is super cool. Matt Mireles you have a big heart. You just earned a new customer for Swig
jeduan 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful.

I had a short gig in SF earlier this year and finding this kindness would have definitely helped me make my stay there a more enjoyable experience.

Abrazos from Mexico City.

jmedwards 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is just plain nice. It's not often you get to say than on HN :)
flyingFlyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hope someday, when I visit Silicon Valley, you would host Thanksgiving too. Would love to join you then.

For Now, Happy Thanksgiving from Nepal :)

anandkulkarni 5 days ago 0 replies      
Classy move, Matt! Happy Thanksgiving.
freshbrewedmike 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey Matt-

I just shot you an email- I'm staying near Height and Clayton, and this is my first Thanksgiving alone- How far is it to North Beach ?

betadreamer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow how nice of you. This is why I like HN especially after being pushed around in Walmart :P I would've ping if I was around SF.
schrodinger 5 days ago 0 replies      
You've gotta bring swig me to NYC! I'd use it!
mistrQ 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! I wish I was in SF. Hopefully someone as friendly as you will be doing this in London (UK) next year.
gabriels 5 days ago 0 replies      
Matt, thanks for the invite! Although I wasn't there this is really heartwarming :)
hjay 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's very nice of you, Matt. Wish I was near San Fran!
Have a great time nevertheless.
Xorlev 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible. Great thing you're doing! How about that hospitality. :)
cicloid 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is by far a great gesture!

Kudos Matt!

imran 5 days ago 0 replies      
Although im not in san fransisco this post alone made my day!
jmd_akbar 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's people like you who give me hope about the future of humanity! :)

Thanks and Happy thanksgiving.

PS: I would totally drop by, if i wasn't living about 8000miles away! :D

mailshanx 5 days ago 0 replies      
An awesome gesture. Happy thanksgiving from Singapore!:)
inspiredworlds 5 days ago 0 replies      
awesome idea! wish i could have made it (even though i'm in another part of the world)
prohan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Don't be lazzy make a language like Guido did
arschles 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great gesture dude. Thanks for giving back.
messel 5 days ago 0 replies      
good show Matt, way to celebrate the holiday
viraj_shah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Super cool man. Have a great holiday!
Jngai1297 5 days ago 0 replies      
If only I am in San Francisco..... Have a great thanksgiving!
isacult 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. Kudos to you kind sir.
Goranek 5 days ago 0 replies      
nice marketing..but still remarkable offer
one big PLUS
Thank You HN: From 30 people whose lives you saved
363 points by chaseadam17  6 days ago   55 comments top 34
dos1 6 days ago 1 reply      
Holy shit. I can't remember a time when a website had an immediate impact on me like this. I mean, literally 5 seconds after landing on the site I got what they were trying to do and couldn't click the fund button fast enough. Such a simple idea but maybe that's what makes it so damn brilliant. So cool.

Edit: When I first went to the site 15 minutes ago there were two profiles of people in need of medical care. The total outstanding balance for both treatments was around $650 USD. In just 15 short minutes both treatments have been fully funded according to my inbox. That's just phenomenal, and I bet this story on HN has a lot to do with that!

justjimmy 6 days ago 0 replies      
Your open Google doc is what persuaded me. I've always felt uncomfortable donating to charities - knowing well that my money may never go towards the cause they're touting, but on TV ads, expense accounts, PR Campaigns etc. While some argue it's operation costs but it's just not transparent enough.

Your easy to access and understand table really lifts the veil, as well as your clear separation of Donations going to the patients vs. Donations to the operating costs. I think people are definitely more willing to open their wallets knowing that 100% of the money go towards directly helping the patient.

Definitely suggest setting up a recurring payment option - while some people would love to help out continuously, they may not have the time to read each case (and then having to decide who to help) and come back once in a while(paradox of choice) - just take $100 bucks each month out of my account and let me know how that $100 was spent. Also give the option of deciding a % of the donation go towards operation and a % go towards the patient (like a slider style) so people don't have to feel compelled and work to donate in 2 flows.

And knowing that you guys may have a challenge of getting operation donations, offset it by giving us easy to add social widgets or just a simple graphic to add to our blogs and sites. I have no problem showing it next to my Dribbble and LinkedIn icons knowing that you guys have a really tight budget and may not have PR money. (I think free social advertising works better than those in your face PETA campaigns anyway. Makes us feel like we're directly helping out by displaying it on our sites :D)

ashray 6 days ago 0 replies      
Oh my god! I missed this for a while but .. wait a minute. You're saying that I can find $580 and help save this kid Cesar ?!

Or Alan even ?!

This is absolutely FANTASTIC!! I'm really curious as to how you carry out on the ground execution (getting the money to the family, carrying out the needed medical procedures, etc.) and stuff but I absolutely love the idea. Amazing work guys!

EDIT: Just donated $25 :) Oh yeah, just noticed this. If I click on "Tweet" on the site, the pre-filled tweet says "via @sharethis". You might want to change that to say "via @watsi_org" so that you know when someone shares your stuff =)

EDIT2: Just voted for you at the huffington post thing. Looks like it's close! 51-48 so far :O

EDIT3: GOOD GOING HACKERNEWS :D I just checked the site and:

There are 0 people on Watsi that need your help!

AWESOME!!! (http://watsi.org/fund-treatments)

streeter 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've been following Watsi for a while, and it's great to the continued success. They're currently tied for first in a HuffPo competition to win $10k which would help them reach even more people in need of medical aid. If you want to help them out, you can vote in 10 seconds for them here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/millennial-impact-c...
forgingahead 6 days ago 0 replies      
Clickable to Watsi: http://watsi.org/

Clickable to original thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4424081

sherjilozair 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great work Adam, and the Watsi team!

However, its the time to scale up higher. I came to the website and saw that there were no patients to help. Surely this means that the scouting team should be enlarged. Tie-ups with other NGOs would help, who can provide you details about patients who need help.

Here in India, there is a very reputed hospital called AIIMS, who have subsidized treatment, but still ask for some nominal payment. Also, patients have to buy medicines on their own. Watsi could be a great help to these patients, since the amount of money they require is only nominal, and many times, these patients can't even afford that. Some of these medications would cost as little as $20/month. Partnering up with such institutions would get you a credible list of people needing help, and this list is perfectly aligned to the 'low-cost, high-impact' patients you aim at.

I'm willing to help you with operations in India, if you are willing to expand.

Keep up the great work!

noonespecial 6 days ago 1 reply      
I can't help feeling that there's some of the ingredients needed to create an entirely new form of health insurance in here.

I'm ridiculously glad its working as well as it is. Its like watching the start of an avalanche. You don't really know what exactly is going to happen, but the ground is rumbling and you're sure its going to be huge and exciting.

mtrimpe 6 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on the great work! Just a quick question; have you considered making a WordPress plugin to display today's top causes?

I worked on a project similar to that for Oxfam Novib (Blogsfam) which didn't make it due to organizational friction but won several awards nonetheless.

It might be an interesting addition to your platform...

clicks 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is so, so awesome. You made the right choice to quit your job for this. :)

I am really really looking forward to see this become big. Kudos to you for building this thing. I should also note that you've made a beautiful site as well, I can't find any faults in it by any aspect. I wish you much success.

jacquesm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Every now and the something comes along that is a real game changer. The internet was such a thing and it in turn engendered with web, which gave us WikiPedia, the Khan Academy and now this. What a super concept!

I hope you guys will be able to avoid the various pitfalls and traps that other charities seem to fall in to (where it becomes more about them than about those they help), by the looks of it you will be in excellent shape in that department.

Edit: you've covered this in the faq, but you may want to make it more plain, your donations are tax deductible, you might want to emphasize that. Especially for corporations that's a big thing, and it could get you corporate sponsors willing to name you. I know you're peer-to-peer but don't underestimate corporate dollars and riding their PR machine for free.

ars 6 days ago 3 replies      
Since everything is fully funded you should give people the option of funding in advance.

Be open about it of course, and send them an email as soon as you know who the money is going to.

Also give people the option of getting an email when there is someone in need. (To avoid annoying people perhaps limit the email to the next 3 people, then stop sending them for a user specified time.)

nodata 6 days ago 1 reply      
Your website is excellent, I've helped five people so far.

Just two suggestions:

1. Please give me a way to view who I have helped. A followup story would be great too.

2. Please give me a way to find out about new people

toomuchtodo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Do you have a way yet to charge on a recurring basis? #shutUpTakeMyCreditCardAndChargeItMonthly
kainteriors 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful idea being executed completely by volunteers. It can be a game changer for those in impoverished countries. You can help out even more by voting in the Huffington Post IgniteGood contest. Watsi has a 50% chance of winning $10,000.00. Please vote for them so they can continue doing this amazing work. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/millennial-impact-c...
rdl 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, that's a pretty great site.

You should make it easier for people to give bigger gifts -- to do so people need your tax ID and address info, so they can set you as beneficiary for 401ks (if you die before collecting), etc. And most people don't know anything about this, so maybe a 1-pg on "how to save 10 lives for free*" or something.

Also, a lot of people donate specifically before the end of the (tax) year, so a focused campaign in December would make a lot of sense.

If you possibly can, get reviewed by Givewell.

adrianwaj 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem would be verifying that the people are real, they have the claimed illnesses, they get the claimed treatment, it's the right treatment, they ask for the right amount, have the claimed outcomes and checking where remaining money goes.
yesimahuman 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great work guys. I agree with the other comments, I just felt something powerful as soon as I hit the landing page, and just had to donate (and I don't do that much).

It's amazing that just 10 minutes ago Cesar needed $500 and now he's fully funded. Keep up the awesome work!

thomasilk 6 days ago 0 replies      
It literally takes half a second to get what the site does and how to help. Brilliant.

I'd put the mailing list or something similar more prominently above the fold, because more people would regularly return if they'd get a weekly or monthly email with success stories and new profiles/stories that still need funding.

F.e. currently every project is fully funded and I almost fear forgetting about the site.

Anyway great project if you need someone to help with some marketing ideas or anything else from time to time (of course for free), send me a mail (me[at]ilkthomas[dot]com). I'd love to help.

HyprMusic 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is such a brilliant idea, and looking at the site now everyone is fully funded. And major kudos for taking the risk of quitting your day job to head such a great non-profit. If you ever need any extra dev hands, I'll happily help any way I can.
farmdawgnation 6 days ago 1 reply      
I just tried to access the site and got a Heroku error page. Looks like you guys are under some significant load? This is an excellent idea.

I'm left to wonder how well this idea would transplant to a country like the United States. Everyone has varying degrees on Obama's healthcare act depending on where you fall on the political spectrum - but wouldn't it make the entire conversation moot if the private sector were able to fund stuff like this?

What about directly funding and putting a face to the efforts of someone who is homeless finding a job? Plenty of people give to organizations like Goodwill and United Way, but you very rarely get to have a picture put with where your dollars are going. There would be a lot of details to work out, and the idea is certainly ambitious - but if Watsi is able to succeed this much then hey, someone should give it a shot.

So much good is happening here. You guys are brilliant, and I'm thankful for people like you. Cheers.

andreyf 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well done! Support for Google Checkout and Amazon Payments will help a lot, I think.
ryanteo 3 days ago 0 replies      
If there are any plans to expand to Asia, I would be happy to bounce ideas. I think this is a fantastic idea. I have been involved in healthcare startups (co-founded one) for the last 2 years in Singapore, so this is extremely interesting to me.
keeptrying 6 days ago 0 replies      
You guys rock man!

I would love to meet you guys if you are in SF. This is the kind of deep impact stuff that I want to be doing or at least sponsoring.

brackin 6 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats, this is really awesome. We're building a crowd-funding site in the charity space. Where one can fund a project directly and relieve updates on project progress. So that your money is going directly to help.
vimarshk 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am a student at USC. I could not do much on the financial side of it but I sure did spread the word on Twitter and other channels. I e-mailed them about the awesome work they were doing and told them that I would help them from the technology side if they required me. Then I got a reply back from Chase (co-founder) himself. In life very seldom you get a chance to do something meaningful, they are doing it! Hats off. Go Watsi!!
baggers 6 days ago 0 replies      
@chaseadam It would be quite nice to have an option to use this in a gittip sort of way.
Also how do you go about finding people to donate to? I have contacts with a Ugandan Hospital and I'm sure others here have have worked on the ground with folks that would love to link up with you guys.
Thanks for your awesome work and good luck
woodsier 6 days ago 0 replies      
You guys are absolute heroes. The concept behind this site is amazing. Well done.
hosh 6 days ago 0 replies      
Gratitude is never too corny for Thanksgiving. And thanks for putting the platform together :-)
nickbarone 6 days ago 0 replies      
Woah @ prefunding-treatement. Brilliant! I hope it scales - It can, I think, if you keep momentum.
aioprisan 6 days ago 0 replies      
you should build widgets so that others can embed the top stories from your site and get distributed exposure, I'm sure it would provide sustained exposure.
gauchosteph 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here's to another 30 more!
fblp 6 days ago 0 replies      
795 donations so far totalling $28,515
killingmichael 6 days ago 0 replies      
chase - this is great :) if you're up for it, we would be happy to donate some iOS time to the mobile app.
rxooo 6 days ago 0 replies      
We did it Reddit!
Help HN: The Exhaustive List of App Monetization Methods (w/Links!!)
16 points by Terpaholic  1 day ago   4 comments top 2
creativeone 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Tap2print (http://www.tap2print.com) Custom API to allow for printing and fulfillment of almost anything from content in your app.
Terpaholic 1 day ago 1 reply      
I had difficulty monetizing my app and gathered a lot of links I think might be useful to other people. Let's build the best list of ways to monetize apps! I'll update this list regularly with info from the comments.


Free To User

1) Ad Networks (Banner Ads)

2) Affiliate and CPA (Pay When User Installs Other App)

Cost To User

3) Paid Apps (Charge upfront for the app)

4) In-App-Purchase Approaches (Currency, Unlocking Features, Freemium)

5) Subscription (Recurring Data Updates, SAAS)


6) Facebook

7) Sponsors (Dedicated advertisers)

8) Email Lists (Alternative monetization method)

9) Merchandise (Works if the app has strong characters)

10) ?? Coming Soon ??

1. Ad Networks

Please share your experiences so this can become an ordered list with the best at the top.

1) TapJoy (http://developers.tapjoy.com/boost-your-revenue/)

2) AdMob (http://www.google.com/ads/admob/)

3) iAds (http://advertising.apple.com/developers/)

4) Adfonic (http://adfonic.com/mobile-advertising-services/publishers/)

5) Smaato (http://www.smaato.com/developers/)

6) InMobi (http://www.inmobi.com/developers/)

7) LeadBolt (http://www.leadbolt.com/developers.php)

8) Millenial Media (http://www.millennialmedia.com/monetize/)

9) MobYD (http://www.mobyd.com/Developers)

10) Trademob (http://www.trademob.com/)

11) Madvertise (http://madvertise.com/en/)

12) BuzzCity (http://www.buzzcity.com/f/pubdev)

13) AdModa (http://www.admoda.com/?page_id=26)

14) Mojiva (http://www.mojiva.com/mobile-advertising/monetize-your-mobil...)

15) Hunt Mobile Ads (http://www.huntmads.com/soy-un-developer)

16) Greystripe (http://www.greystripe.com/)

17) Madhouse (http://www.madhouse.cn/en/)

18) Jumptap (http://www.jumptap.com/developers/)

19) Mobile Theory (http://mobiletheory.com/developers/)

20) Microsoft Mobile Advertising (http://advertising.microsoft.com/mobile)

21) xAd (http://www.xad.com/publisher)

22) YP (AT&T) (http://corporate.yp.com/)

23) Tapgage (http://www.tapgage.com/)

24) Aditic (http://www.aditic.com/index.php/en/publishers.html)

25) iPhone Alliance (http://www.iphonealliance.com/)

26) Mobclix (http://www.mobclix.com/developers-faqs.html)

27) Vdopia (http://mobile.vdopia.com/)

28) Zumobi (http://www.zumobi.com/)

2. Affiliate / CPA Networks

1) MobPartner (http://www.mobpartner.com/en)

2) Sponsormob (http://www.sponsormob.com/en/publishers/)

3) Vizu (http://www.vizu.com/index.htm)

3. Paid Apps

1) The user pays upfront for the full app, usually at $0.99 or $1.99.

2) It has been shown that price and revenue do not always correlate precisely and you should experiment with various price points. Anchor it with the highest price point and put it on various levels of discount to test out sales.

4. In App Purchase (IAP) Approaches

1) Currency - Have a virtual currency used to buy boosters and perform other actions. The user can earn currency in-game or purchase more via IAP for faster results. Examples: Farmville's currency

2) Energy - The user gets a certain amount of actions per energy, and the energy replenishes at a certain rate. Items can be used to replenish the energy, and the items can be bought via currency funded via IAP.

3) Unlocking Features - Have premium features such as extra levels or assistance unlockable via IAP. Examples: Angry Birds's Eagle

4) Chips - Another take on currency, for casino type games. Examples: Zynga's Poker

5) Freemium - Similar to unlocking features, except the basic app is always free

6) Subscription - Covered in section 5, can be paid for via IAP or externally (such as Dropbox)

5. Subscription

1) Live Data Feed - Have the user pay a monthly fee in return for up to date data (Newspaper subscriptions, Manazine subscriptions, Stock Ticker Data)

2) Pay Per Data Usage - Have the user pay a recurring fee depending on how much they use (Examples: Dropbox)

3) Software As a Service - Pay for usage of the software as-you-go. I haven't seen a full SAAS mobile app yet but I think TaskRabbit is a close example.

6. Facebook

1)Facebook Approved Ad Providers(http://developers.facebook.com/adproviders/)

2)Facebook Currency Purchases (Example: FarmVille)

7. Sponsors

1) This involves finding third party sponsors and placing them individually in the app. Example: You have an app about tennis, and instead of placing ad-network ads you find a tennis racket retailer willing to pay you $X per month or $Y per click through to their site

8. Email Lists

1) Promote Paid Products - Get paid on traffic/conversion or promote your own paid products

2) Drive Traffic to a Website for Conversions/Ad revenue

9. Merchandise

1) Angry Birds has plushies and other merchandise

2) Imgur has shirts

3) Starcrafts turned a YouTube video series into t-shirts and plushies with memorable characters

4) Sell other people's merchandise for affiliate sales (Special version of category 2, Affiliate networks)Sources and Useful Articles:






Ask HN: How do you secure your preferred web or app stack?
3 points by SkyMarshal  18 hours ago   1 comment top
mike-cardwell 17 hours ago 0 replies      
First of all, run it under it's own dedicated uid to minimise the damage if it does get compromised. Make it so that that uid doesn't have write access to any of the web space, including the files making up that web application. Stick a web application firewall in front of it, like mod_security for Apache. Always keep it patched up to date, including any plugins. Make sure you follow any relevant RSS based changelogs, blogs, mailing lists or Twitter streams etc so you're informed of any security problems.
Ask HN: Dribbble for programmers
3 points by joshuahornby  18 hours ago   2 comments top
netxm 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: Know of a hacker in Cambridge or Boston who wants a bookstore?
107 points by mankins  3 days ago   99 comments top 54
eob 3 days ago 4 replies      
Trying to think creatively here...

Could you try to capitalize on the fact that you're right in between two enormous populations of PhD students and professors who are eager to both give talks and learn more?

Maybe you could support micro-publishing of books, or collections of interesting papers, for local distribution around Kendall/Harvard. Kind of like academic blogging but on paper.

Or you could host themed nights where a few academics give talks about why Subject X is interesting, and then you tell the audience they can buy/order books on Subject X from you at the end (and please do, it's how you pay for the free talk).

Also, I live right near Inman. You guys have the "Refrigerator Repairs" sign (or something like it) above your store, right? Hard honesty, from someone whose walked by many times and never gone in: the Refrigerator sign made me think you were a) too lazy to put up a sign for your store, or b) trying to be ironically lazy, which I think isn't a positive vibe to send to society. Either way, I transferred these impressions onto my expectations about the product waiting inside for me, and passed by every time. Perhaps that is a silly reason not to enter a book store, but at least it is a data point for you to consider.


Another idea: what if you provided a nice binding service for graduating PhD students. Package up all your papers and thesis together into a nice volume to show the kids one day. I know you can do this online, but you would provide nice Harvard and MIT themed leather book jackets with some stock material about the school or department history, along with a thicker page for the student to put some photos in from that time period. I would pay $100 for this. Maybe $200 if it was really nice. There's no class ring for PhD students, but this would make a similarly nostalgic memento.

pdinoto 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Matt, this is Pablo from Argentina (the one that inherited your espresso machine).

Glad to see you are pursuing new ventures, sad to see the bookstore did not reach a sustainable point.

I think there is project that you may know, or not. Not sure if what they are doing is actually applicable to your bookstore, but nevertheless it has many ideas that may be interesting to you or the brave soul that continues with Lorem Ipsum. It is called "Orsai" (a word derived from soccer term off-side)

Back in late 2010, a writer and famous argentinean blogger living in Spain, Hernan Casciari, got some money from his "blog-novel-developed-into-book-and-then-into-a-play" and decided to make his dream come true and do something incredible: To publish a 100% ad-free literary magazine, on real paper, with the best printing quality, only featuring writers and artists he and his lifelong friend "Chiri" admired. It would cost like 15 sunday papers, and they would make the whole magazine available as DRM-free PDF download some weeks after its paper release.

Crazy, indeed. At the very same moment, the book industry was claiming Internet was destroying the paper book and making culture die by piracy: "people do not pay for cultural goods", they said.

But, against all odds Hernan did it, and published all 4 issues as promised. Readers bought the magazine in 10-packs and then re-distributed them to friends. They barely made even that year.

So in 2012, they tweaked the concept with a subscription model, and got 5500+ subscribers who paid in advance about USD 90 for a 6-issue yearlong subscription. With that model, they printed 6 beautifully made magazines, with some interviews that were unique and outstanding quality in all contents. The authors were very well paid, and the subscription model allowed for stories to span the whole year. A complete success.

NO ONE IN THE MIDDLE, is their motto.

I have been, in fact, a "Orsai distributor" this year. So people came to my place, and without knowing me they gave me about USD 90 to have their magazines every 2 months... The distribution became a great way to meet people, as in last issues we simply gathered on a small cultural center and had informal and interesting meetings with drinks and food.

This whole concept derived into a editorial company being created, one where the authors get 50% of the street price of EACH BOOK SOLD, together with a list of buyer´s email addresses to entice authors into one to one contact with their readers.

And finally, the related point: It derived into a bar in San Telmo: "Bar Orsai".

San Telmo, a trendish Buenos Aires area, is the right place to enact what they call "un bar para borrachos que leen" (spanish for "A bar for book-reading boozers").

So the place looks like a pub, with tables and a -hum-, a bar. For reasons that are more related to who were early into the project, it is known for its pizzas, so technically it is a pizzeria. But I am sure that if Hernan Casciari had a NASCAR racing friends, the place may have been a car repair shop.

The place is not a bookstore, it is not a cultural center or art gallery. It is not a theater either. But it is all of these at the same time. One night, an author comes to read his new book, the following night a renowned artist draws in one table for everybody there to see. There are magazines and books for sell. So you can order a fugazzeta, a beer, and a book.

It is not a new concept, but what it is new is how it came to be. The other way around: blog -> community -> books -> play based on the book -> literary magazine -> stronger community -> editorial -> bar to get community together.

It was born on the web in 2001. It is now a brick and mortar place.
You had a brick a mortar store which was "web enabled".
Looks like a closed circle to me. Perhaps the answer to have Lorem Ipsum stay opened is to leverage this "people with love for reading will love a place to meet and have fun".

If your spanish is still as good as when you were around, take a peek:
http://www.editorialorsai.com. Watch the video, which resumes the whole story.

Un abrazo!

wheaties 3 days ago 2 replies      
Someone else IS innovating. They're printing out of print books for a tidy fee. What's remarkable is that so many books are unavailable once they've run. That is publishers are incentived to destroy rather than keep books which don't immediately sell due to tax laws.

Research that and look around at other book stores. You'll find the one doing it.


swalsh 3 days ago 3 replies      
If I want to buy a book, i'll go to Amazon and buy it. With kindle, i'll have it in 10 seconds. If its not available on Kindle with Prime i'll have it next day. You can't compete with Amazon. So its not worth trying.

If you want to run a remarkable book store today, don't sell books. That's a loosing battle. This is where i'd start if I was trying to think of ways to innovate in this space. I'm sure you're familiar with Porter square books. They for instance have built a pretty remarkable community around the store with book clubs etc.

Other then that, i'd like to say good luck! I live in Boston, so i'll try to visit the next time i'm in the neighborhood.

anateus 3 days ago 2 replies      
When it comes to physical stores, the general rule is "location location location", and just based on having lived near Cambridge for a decade and spent most of my time there Inman Sq just feels like a suboptimal location for a bookstore.

This is assuming of course that a problem is getting more traffic. I don't know if that's an issue, or if the problem is the "conversion rate". It would be interesting to find out what's working and what isn't, but don't know if you're inclined to share further. Myself I'm not in a position to take over, but I sure can provide free advice :>

I've always dreamed of hybrid book store/coffee shops. Perhaps ones that sell subscription access, becoming for-pay lending libraries with a book inventory that adjusts to patron demands. That way you have recurring revenue off each customer, and you can hope people sign up for it like they do for gym memberships and then don't show :)

yamanory 2 days ago 0 replies      
My parents have run a bookstore for 30 years, and I spent most of my late elementary school years and all of high school running it after school and on the weekends. It was and still is a very large (100,000 books) bookstore and now also a full restaurant (restaurant downstairs, bookstore upstairs -- in a 6,000 square foot space). Now, I work in tech.

Like your store, they also sell on Amazon, ABE Books, Alibris, etc. however, the majority of their revenue comes from people browsing in-store.

I'm not from Boston and haven't been to Lorem Ipsum but I have read that it's a great store based on reviews online.

But before thinking about fresh ideas, I'm curious to know where the problem stems from: are you not able to get enough people through your doors? are they browsing but not buying? what type of profit margin do you have on books generally (obviously this will differ depending on the type of book, etc)? Also, what is the demographic like where your store is located -- are there readers who will come in and buy a stack of books?

I truly believe there will continue to be a market for physical books, especially used, out-of-print, rare and aesthetically beautiful books that you crave to touch (ie. photography, cooking, art, etc.).

Despite working in tech, being 26, and having 3 iPads in my possession, I will continue to buy tangible books for that immersive, tangible experience.

What is dying, in my opinion, is this concept of going to a bookstore to find a particular item. The future of bookstores lies in the serendipitous discovery, particularly of books that offer some sort of aesthetic value, out-of-print, rare, etc. rather than rushing out to a local bookstore to buy the latest Stephen King, which will be consumed over a weekend.

Anyway, my point is that while yes, fresh ideas can tweak the ability to drive traffic, I think it's worth investigating those fundamental questions and whether you're well located to attract those with the disposable income who can spend $100 impulsively, that you're maximizing your profit margin, and whether you have the right stock that will covert browsers into buyers and attract people to come back.

Also think about opening up a coffee shop or something else that people will come to regularly to serve as a sort of lead generator to get people in the door. It could also be a book club, event, musician, etc. It doesn't need to generate much profit -- it needs to get people in the door who will then browse and buy books which, if planned properly, should have a VERY high profit margin (even while offering what look like bargain prices to customers).

Good luck and please hang in there! I hope next time I'm in Boston to be able to come and visit.

makmanalp 3 days ago 0 replies      
My god ... I love Lorem Ipsum. Every damn time I get into inman, I pay a visit there. Thank you for introducing me into zines and having an awesome CS/Math/Sci section. All your books are so damn well curated.

I wish could help more directly, but I'm steadily approaching broke and determined to be working full-time on my own project till my money runs out.

In any case, I'd love to buy you a coffee / tea / beer / whatever and just chat with you for an hour, your pick of time and place. Best case, you could refine some of my crazy ideas. Worst case, you'll have had an hour break. What's there to lose? E-mail is in my profile! :)

keithwinstein 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love Lorem Ipsum and remember when you guys moved a few years ago. (I used to live literally across the street.) I enjoyed buying used books at your store and that you would sometimes haggle over the price. But I doubt I have spent more than $80 there.

I don't know anything about the bookstore business except that it is tough. I was sad when Quantum Books closed, and their books were a lot more expensive than yours, and they were right next to MIT and sold a lot of textbooks to students.

Do you know the proprietors of Brookline Booksmith or Harvard Bookstore? I assume they are still making it, and maybe there are some ideas or principles here that would help that you guys could learn. They have a lot of readings and signings and events that I imagine help get people in the stores.

(I do sort-of-know Ken and Frenchie, the proprietors of the "banned in Boston" outdoor free book table that sometimes sets up in Harvard Square, but I'm guessing that introduction would not help you...)

wcarss 3 days ago 0 replies      
My idea is to run "sponsored book clubs".

You sell a popular or interesting book at a slight discount for the duration of the book club run. (Maybe a discount just for members who paid an up-front fee?) You do a weekly discussion group, one per chapter of the book. Run multiple books per week, catering to different crowds (e.g. ultra technical vs old sci-fi). Set up some reasonable video and audio equipment, experiment with the format, and try to capture the "sitting around with a group of smart people" feel.

While the club is running, make those videos available online with a discussion forum (also experiment here -- with one topic per chapter, or posts grouped by smart tags or something). After the club has run, you sell a "book club" package for every book you've done this for. Sell it at a reasonably higher price with a DVD of the discussion sessions and an archive of the forum session. In a year, you'll end up with a hopefully rabid community and a reputation, as well as a growing catalogue of copyrighted material which makes your products unique and justifies a higher price.

The core idea here has come up repeatedly: membership in a community is important. Having a place to go feel like a hacker or just a smart person and meet other smart people is wonderful. You should sell that; the books are just an excuse. Heck, you could even just try running a paid-membership library.

edit: reading back over my message, some different themes also stuck out: minimum products, iterating, and pivoting. The ideas I proposed are really a loose collection of possibly money-generating schemes built around community and creating value. You can quickly start doing any (or all) of these, then iterating and pivoting as necessary. This is the common small business pattern: start a few small projects, see what's drawing people and money, then regularly optimize according to your senses of what you need most at the moment.

jacksonh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have you thought about adding coworking space? I would kill for a bookstore environment with coffee and decent chairs. As it is, I do most of my work in a Barnes and Noble, and my back hates me for it.
fratis 3 days ago 2 replies      
Any chance you'd consider making book sales a smaller part of what your store does in favor of other sources of revenue? One of the few things brick-and-mortar shops can do that Amazon still can't is bring people together, to Be A Place. You can.

A few ideas to consider along those lines, either individually or as smaller pieces of a larger concept:

- Become a hacker/student-centric coffee shop that enables freelancers, et al, to work in a less frenetic environment than Starbucks

- (Not sure how big your space is, but) Build a small stage (or not) and host local singers and poets as well as professor and/or student talks

- Become a resource for finding hard-to-get books and charge a premium for it

- Host book sales, etc., for the local universities where students can buy/sell from each other, then give a small discount on books students are searching for but can't find at the sale

Not sure how intent you are on maintaining the store's identity as a Place That Sells Books, but you have a lot of options, I think, if you want to go in another direction altogether " or even partly.

drags 3 days ago 1 reply      
This doesn't help pay the bills, but I lived right down the street from you a couple years back and loved your bookstore.

Have you looked into textbooks? There's a lot of money in the textbook market right now (for a variety of reasons). Won't help your storefront business, but could help on the internet side. I work in the industry; feel free to email if you want to chat more about the textbook side of the industry :)

benjaminlotan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hi. i am interested in speaking with you. My company has been looking for interesting projects in the physical space to take on... and we are currently amassing books for a library... Can you give me your email address or email me at Ben @ socialprintstudio.com
Looking forward to speaking!


johnrgrace 1 day ago 0 replies      
One small bookstore I know that is doing well is Borderland Books in San Francisco.

Borderlands is hyperfocused. I'd suggest you need to be MORE focused, your stock is spread out. I'd suggest you drop every area you're not amazing with.

You need instore events that draws in the people who read your new more focused stock. Borderlands has a constant stream of author readings, signing etc. that bring people into their store.

I can't tell if you're doing this, but you need to be selling outside of your bookstore at trade shows, speaker events etc. When the Grand Rapids economic club has a speaker who has written a book, our local store has a table full of them for sale and clears $3-800 per event in sales.

Borderlands made a fundraising appeal to their customers a few years ago. The pitch was invest in us with a Gift Certificate that can't be redeemed for a year, but got a discount when used. It gave them a nice slug of working capital while they were expanding and more than a few customers dedided to simply hold onto the certificates to support the store they loved.

You also really need to take a sharp look at you business, figure out what bits contribute and what parts don't. Some basic business analysis can often do wonders for a business.

wyclif 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you sent an email to Philip Greenspun? He definitely has the connections in Cambridge to people who may be interested in this or could help. He's probably bought books from Lorem Ipsum in the past: http://philip.greenspun.com/
cllns 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have you considered running it as a co-op? I think odds are low one person (or entity) would want to buy it outright, but you might be able to get 100 people to buy a stake of it. Just a thought!

Similarly, maybe it could have a future as a not-for-profit entity?

anonymousDan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was in a really cool bookstore in Broadstairs in England recently that doubles as a pub. The building was originally a church (hence its name - The Chapel: http://www.pubsandbeer.co.uk/index.php?ID=P&pub=3021 ), then a bookstore, and now a hybrid bookstore/cafe/pub. During the day it felt like a cafe/wine bar, with people sitting around having coffee or wine & cheese while reading books/newspapers. At night it felt more like a pub (albeit a fairly chilled out one). They had loads of local beers - they even had live music. Could you go for something similar?
caixa 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm the founder of Litographs.com and I live around the block from Lorem Ipsum. Have you thought about selling literary t-shirts, posters, etc.?


jhc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two random ideas:

- Is there any kind of alliance to be had with Albertine Press? ( http://albertinepress.com/about.html ) I'm not sure what the angle would be exactly, but they're just a few blocks away, and might have equipment and expertise that would allow for a more interesting kind of print-on-demand than the Espresso printer. And if bookstores are increasingly becoming fellow travelers with letterpress printers and vinyl shops and so on, maybe there are strategies in common.

- Others have mentioned affiliate fees. If book stores are no longer efficient ways to store and deliver books, but are still great ways to look at and play with and explore books, is it possible to fully transition to a book showroom instead of store? How would the business change if you were no longer thinking in terms of inventory, but only in terms of sample copies? You obtain exactly one copy of the very best books that fit comfortably in your space; the customer collects ones they like; and then they're scanned at the front desk, searched online, and the cheapest available copies of the quality they request are shipped to their address. So customers are getting Amazon prices (or better, because you might be better at running the search than they are), but the experience of discovering physical books. You could pay for it either with affiliate fees, if there's a program that works, or with a surcharge.

If you went down that path, your focus on the supply side would change from acquiring second-hand books, to finding really interesting ways to discover books. For example, shelves where you can flip through the top-ten favorite books of Bill Clinton, or Neil Gaiman, or Natalie Portman, or David Foster Wallace. Cyberpunk shelf curated by Neil Stephenson (with a blurb taped inside each cover if he'll write one!). Law & Tech shelf curated by Larry Lessig. Books by TED presenters. Make it so poking around the store is itself a learning experience.

Good luck -- I hope you manage to find someone, and their ideas are better than mine.

kennethcwilbur 16 hours ago 0 replies      
See: the Last Bookstore in downtown LA.

It opened in 2009 and has expanded several times. It now sells 100,000 used books at $1 each in 16,000 square feet. It is already the largest independent bookseller in southern california.

There are so many books that they are organized by color in some sections. The variety within a shelf is just bizarre. Like the opposite of Google search results.

It feels like a tourist destination or an art installation. It's a remarkable experience.

nicholassmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was chatting with my Dad about how hard it is for indie retailers to compete with the Internet, but its doable. You're not selling a product anymore, you're selling an experience. The product is cheaper elsewhere so focus on giving the customer a reason to come in, book clubs, readings, comfy chairs, group spaces and so on. Books are an important part of our culture but going against Amazon now is nigh on impossible for, but Amazon sucks for discovery and recommendations so there's still scope.
xefer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Porter Square Books has a good model. The owner sublets a part of the store to a coffee shop business, so they have guaranteed income and a steady supply of casual browsers.

Harvard Square Books can't be making money with rhat custom printer. I've never seen that thing in operation. It must be the delivery model he has in place that you might want to consider.

Crispy_tacos 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Cater to the gaming community, host gaming nights.

Partner with schools or professors to have students buy school texts only available at your store.

Reconfigure your space to include a living quarters for visiting lecturers or artists. Have them earn their keep by leading discussions or giving a reading.

Have a large used and new graphic novel section. Buy used graphic novels at 33% cost or 50% credit.

Organize your bookshelves using the Library of Congress Classification System.

Get a housecat, name it something amazingly cute, the tweet advertisement for sales from POV of the cat using funny catspeak.

Invest in an outside sitting area or patio style backyard.

Rent out half of your store space to the United States Post Office.

Good Luck!

cafard 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Washington, DC, the independent stores that hang on have a defined community. Kramerbooks at Dupont Circle has the young urban types mostly (I'm probably twice the age of at least a third of people I see in it). Politics and Prose has the settled folk of Chevy Chase and Forest Hills, with their children. Bridge Street Books on the edge of Georgetown--I don't get there often enough to judge, but would guess it to be nearer the Kramerbooks demographic, though the stock makes me wonder. (There are also used bookstores that seem to stay in business.)

So who is your audience? Have you the room to provide a place where people can gather to sip a coffee and use your WiFi, buy their NY Times from you, do the occasional impulse buy? I would emphasize this last. Of the last ten books I've bought, the majority have been unplanned purchases, something on a shelf (Kramerbooks, Second Story) or a table (a local church bazaar) that I didn't know I wanted till I saw it.

timofei7 2 days ago 0 replies      
I too was originally confused by the "Refrigerator Repairs" sign! :-)

I've been working on a model for a bookstore for a couple of years. The key is attracting people to the space. Repeatedly. And once you have them there offer rewards for reading and buying books. If I'm in your bookstore drinking a delicious coffee and munching on a stuffed croissant and you offer a discount on the very book I've been meaning to read for a while, I'll buy it.

The space is filled with books, smells amazing (that sacred dusty book smell mixed with bakery and coffee smells), has comfy seating, games to play, plenty of plugs (charge for electricity rather than wifi), free fresh baked cookies(on the spot wafflecookies) with any purchase of a book (cannot be purchased separately!). There are various intellectual events, reading marathons, contests, and talks that attract interesting people. It's a space you want to be in, to bring your friends to, and you keep spending money there.

It's more than just a bookstore or a cafe or a co-working space though. It's a place that promotes books and reading, connecting people intellectually. A "membership" offers various rewards but also frictionlessly offers reading suggestions and also communal reading/commenting. Not necessarily a reading club... If you are proud of the books you've read and/or have an interesting opinion/interpretation or have questions, a common discussion space/online/app interaction space helps make this easy and comfortable for any level of socializing.

I and two of my close friends (we're all CS people) have been looking for opportunities to try our ideas out, and to learn about others' experiences. Looks like you've had a great response here but if you're still looking for ideas / a group of people with a lot of energy and ideas, let me know, I'm always in the area at some cafe or another! :-)

sag47 3 days ago 3 replies      
Have you perhaps considered a book scanner? You can then sell books and for an additional fee turn the book into a DRM free PDF the user can read electronically. You don't sell digital copies online just give the reader the book they bought in store. This way the reader can read the book physically or by a tablet.
Andrea2s1 3 days ago 2 replies      
Have you considered branching out into related areas, like games? I'm talking European-style and other board games and similar... things where physical location still matters.
rdrey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to walk into (South African) bookstores to buy Wired's UK edition and browse books for a while until I know what else I'd like to read.

At that point I write down the book's title and later download it for my Kindle. I've often thought that bookstores should have QR-codes with amazon referral links that make my purchases easier.

Sure, a referral isn't as much income as a physical book sale, but I really can't amass any more "real" books, since I want to stay mobile. I'm sure I'm not the only one using bookstores just for their coffee shop and easier browsing.

EthanHeilman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Lorem Ipsum is fantastic, it would be so sad to lose you.

* Anything I can do to help the store? Other than buy things, which I've bought quite a bit form lorem Ipsum.

Mophilo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that the store needs to add big ticket items in its reinvention. I'm thinking...futons. And, affordable, cool, cozy chairs, maybe desks, and lamps. Items that college students, for instance, always need for dorms, new apartments. Anything at or slightly above IKEA quality and around that price range could generate sales, especially with delivery service. Local artisans could provide cool pillows, pictures, linens--not a whole lot, but really well curated. The "showroom" is where people can sit and read the books, attend cozy events. This is what I would want to try, if I were you... but, very best of luck, in any case! --Maureen E.
helen842000 3 days ago 0 replies      
Surely there are lots of ways your book store could continue to innovate. You may need to move beyond being just a book store to something more social & digital but maybe that's what it will take. People are using book shops in a different kind of way now. It used to be that the local book store was quicker, while with online sales you had to wait a few days but it was cheaper. Now you can have any book in front of you, including a free sample chapter 24/7.

I still love to support my local independent book shop but I'm reading more than ever now but the last 5 books I read weren't even in printed format. It's time to compete in a different way.

piratebroadcast 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am a huge fan of your store. My suggestions:
1-Sell shirts and other physical things
2- My favotire thing about your store is that the cool stuff is easy to see.. Its curated. Well done.
3-Interact more with local entrepreneurs, and people like the Artisans Asylum. Maybe teach classes there.
4-Writing workshops?
5-Buy a MakerBot 3D printer and charge the public to use it?
6- That Egg machine is amazing. Someone should make a documentary about that.
7- Model after the Trident in Boston... Sell coffee, set up some wifi, and turn the store into a place where smart people want to hang out.
weisser 3 days ago 0 replies      
Many used books are not all that appealing on Amazon since they do not include free shipping. If you can get close to those prices but people only have to drop by the store rather than pay for inefficient shipping (it's usually not two day like most are used to with Prime) it could be compelling. The hardest thing of course is building awareness of your offering. I've never been to your store but have heard great things. Why have I never been? Well I live in Boston and I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought a book in a bookstore. I suppose I'm not your target customer and I think the challenge will be indetifying precisely who that is and considering if they are enough to run a sustainable business.

I think labors of love can be foolish but at the same time I have the utmost respect for them. Best of luck. I will be stopping in sometime soon.

hyuuu 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have been wondering about this. Online stores such as Amazon are killing the bookstores all over the world, obviously bookstores cant compete in price, however, one thing that I think will make bookstores stay, that is, if they stop selling books. Obviously, they cant compete in price, however, what if they start selling atmospheres?

Imagine having a membership to a place filled with books, and you can read all you want. Go inside the place, sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee, pick any book you like. You can even bring your laptop and work, it's like having a gym membership, but for your brain.

What do you guys think?

dj_perl 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Invite Google to take a stake in your project. It could be the first showcase featuring Google Glass. Every customer who wants them, is loaned a pair of Google Glasses during their visit. Just imagine the kinds of specialty apps you could offer! Imagine the kind of positive publicity this could generate for both companies! Invest in a Google Glass developer's kit & whip up a prototype to show Google when you pitch this to them. I hope you live on, as the first AR bookstore!
nicolaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Offer access to one of these as a service? http://hackaday.com/2012/11/16/google-books-team-open-source...
jfburke619 1 day ago 0 replies      
Matt -

I too am a fan of bookstores and used bookstores have much more cachet than the surviving big box stores. The trick is to encourage your patrons to financially support the place that they love. I would be interested in exploring the opportunity further. I have been involved in the purchase, sale and turnaround of several businesses. Each of those processes is daunting in its own right. To be faced with a transfer and a turnaround concurrently will be difficult but not impossible. If you are interested in an exploratory conversation, I would be glad to do so as well. I would be interested on several levels including as a buyer, partner with others or as a consultant. My email is jfburke619@gmail.com

Good luck,

kevinr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm. Just thinking out loud here.

What seems to be working for Pandemonium, just down the street, is event and community space -- for them it's board and collectible card games. For Porter Square Books, it's some combination of having a coffee shop and events (readings etc).

Providing shared experiences in the physical world is something Amazon can't (yet) do.

(Adding a coffee shop might be enough -- based on the number popping up and thriving in Boston recently it seems that we have a nigh-infinite demand for them. 1369 could use some competition, right?)

sethish 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm part of the p.irateship hackerspace, and we're just down the street from Lorem Ipsum on Somerville Ave. I would like to talk about a few different possibilities with you. My email is seth at sethish.com
msabalau 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hmmm, I don't have any immediate ideas, but will spread the word to others in the community who may be interested.
shanbady 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am interested. I live within walking distance of the store and am an avid tech extraordinaire/hacker who would hate to see it go down. Why not open it up for hackathons and tech meetups in the area? I know there are plenty of tech groups that are constantly looking for space to host their meetups and hackathons.
evoxed 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in NYC now too, but I'd like to email you when I get home. Can I find your address somewhere?
kimura 3 days ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend turning it into a co-work space. I'd be interested in working out of that space if you do. Look at 1369 cafe a few doors down you'd notice that people just don't go there just for coffee. People are always on their laptop trying to get some work done. I'd be willing to partner with you if you want to go that direction. Drop me a line.
hansc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess a good idea might be to ask at a local succsefull bookstore (NYC in your case): Just walk in and tell you have a bookstore in Boston and ask how it's gooing and what worked best for them?

Other idea is to ask at a book(store) forum.

Good luck!

jermaink 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that Trident Booksellers gives a very good idea how you can run and think a bookstore above a bookstore. Try that in a different way - some ideas here are a good start.
prism 2 days ago 0 replies      
As several people have mentioned, I feel like the major win of using a local bookstore as opposed to Amazon is the social space it provides. I remember reading somewhere that in NYC bookstores were becoming places were smart single people could meet other smart single people.

Perhaps you could view books as a reason to be there, but not what you sell. A relaxed, wifi-heavy, comfy chair social space where you make your margins off selling coffee and sandwiches. Maybe even let people read the books without buying them. Keep a conversation going. Have visiting authors come and hang out. Like a cross between a library and a Starbucks.

anjchang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely optimizing the book enjoyment experience is promising (having cafes, book signings, etc). I think one part of quality book discovery is curating really hard to find, but awesome books. How many people would pilgrimage to a store to hear Noam Chomsky speak on language, or a Kennedy talk about politics, or one of Dr. King's descendents speak on racial relations and buy books? There are a lot of really great books that could be augmented by having more conversation around them. People would definitely pay high prices for books that are rare and insightful and the stories around those books.
bluekite2000 2 days ago 0 replies      
I suggest you donate all the books and start another business. Keeping a brick and mortar bookstore is an uphill battle and it is better to cut the loss sooner rather than later.
freshsisyphus 2 days ago 0 replies      
You could get an hp5500 (maybe there are other ones out there, this was the best a couple years back), and provide color service with simple binding options. With some clever color management, a photobook that I pressed on this got several best photo book of the year awards at photo-eye. The downshot is that there are too many online services that do this sort of stuff these days so you would have to become a creative hub / print shop for people to congregate.
elisemoussa 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, I do! @elisemoussa on Twitter, an EdTech entrepreneur based in Cambridge :)
cwallardo1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi. I'm interested in meeting you and would like to help you assess the viability of these ideas to create a plan moving forward. I'm a serial entrepreneur/artist/community organizer and I would like to help you transition lorem ipsum. I may be able to take it over, depending on what we learn together. My email is cwallardo at g mail dotcom.
samuraiforhire 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to help with this project and need, and I have experience as a former bookstore owner and small business consultant. Please contact me at samuraiforhire@gmail.com.

Tim Huggins

creativeone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you tried to advertise your inventory on Google AdWords?
girl2k 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd consider becoming a publisher, branding the store as an intellectual space of a particular sort (you decide). Have events, become a hub. Publishing is wide open, jump in.
Ask HN: Do you zoom in to read webpages?
9 points by tokenadult  1 day ago   15 comments top 13
pasbesoin 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a few bookmarklets munged up that singly or in various combinations disable, override, and/or adjust style including font, text size, text color, background color, etc.

A click or two, and I have a readable page -- without pumping my browsing history through a third party.

P.S. Google "bookmarklet", look for the old but last I checked (a while ago) still highly ranked site from... Joe, I think, and copy and adjust the relevant bookmarklets as desired.

The suggestions here to simply disable styles, via one or another built in mechanism or extension, are also useful.

P.P.S. For traditional on-screen reading, MS's Georgia and Verdana fonts are your friends. Pay attention as well to leading, and in some cases kerning.

Let me know if you want to see an (ugly) example bookmarklet -- they are very simple and safety is verified in a 5 second glance at them.

P.P.P.S. [I know...] s/Joe/Jesse/


Though mine differ somewhat from what's there.

inetsee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I frequently use Evernote's Clearly extension in the Chrome browser. I like Clearly better than Readability. Clearly both resizes the text, but also removes most of the ads. Sometimes it removes some images that belong with the content, but it's the best extension I've found for dealing with the current crop of websites with profoundly tiny text.
jiaaro 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use safari, and I use the "two-finger double-tap" all the time, which works the same as double-tap on iOS (zooms in so the double-tapped content takes the full width of the screen/browser)

I'm 26 years old, but I'm only going to read one thing at a time anyway, so why not make it easier on my eyes?

antidoh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mid fifties. I do sometimes zoom for size, but more often I end up turning off styles (Firefox: alt-V-Y-Nv) to work around the beautiful but unreadable low contrast text that many sites use. Your post right here on HN is a minor offender, where the text of an original post is lighter colored than the responses. But that's mostly readable; the web is full of cute, unreadable text, which I'm sure took a lot of work to get just right.
grumps 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny, I have this problem specifically on my laptop since its a 15" screen with a 1080P screen. I got extremely annoyed over the weekend while I was trying to read documentation on my laptop for Django. I ended up giving up and not reading and switched to using my ipad the next day. Dumb, irritating etc.
27182818284 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sometimes. More often now I use something like Readability to not only change the sizes, but also the typography and page layout at the same time.
teeja 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember when web design was a topic. Hasn't been for a few years, and it shows.

I don't zoom my laptop-sized screen much; I usually have to run my minimum font-size at 20. Works fine on about 3/4 of pages; so long as I'm maintaing proper posture.

Poorly-designed pages use lots of small, fixed-size DIVs to segregate spoonfuls of text; because of my font-size they spill text all over. Worse still are the pages that use color:#666 or higher; I just turn away. Printers have turned to that, no doubt to save the cost of ink; otherwise it's a measure of the sanity of the producer.

kode4fun 1 day ago 0 replies      
- I use GC as well so I don't zoom in. However, on my phone I do.
jamesjguthrie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't usually zoom in on Windows but I almost always have to on any phone or tablet.
YoAdrian 1 day ago 0 replies      
I zoom all over on the iPad or use the built-in browser reading mode. Also on my work laptop when I'm confined to just the laptop screen. I have Readability installed on Chrome, but I use it more often to de-clutter the article I'm trying to read than just to resize the font.
factorialboy 1 day ago 0 replies      
28 m - I zoom in or out depending on the monitor / display device I'm using.
Randgalt 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a zoomer. I either do CMD+ to increase font size or, sometimes, do the Mac zoom screen thing (control two fingers)
yaers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes I zoom all the time for reading webpages. Ctrl++++ 4 times.
Ask HN: Advice from Hardware hackers
6 points by Jonovono  1 day ago   5 comments top 3
yossilac 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was somewhat involved in two projects, one which was a physical object (but no electronics) that failed on Kickstarter, the other had electronics but was abandoned before even reaching Kickstarter.

So while I can't comment on how to succeed, at least I could offer some insights on how to fail ;)

First of all - it's hard. I'm not saying software is easy, but it's harder to pull off a HW project with just a couple of hours on the weekends. It's also much more expensive. The two projects I was referring to failed because the team just couldn't allocate enough time to really push it forward. By the time the Kickstarter campaign launched, everyone was already exhausted, and just didn't have enough "juice" left to push the marketing portion.

But enough about failures, let's talk hardware development.

Note on the Memoto page how their working prototype looks. It's a whole bunch of different boards linked together with cables. That's a good way to start - you can find many "evaluation boards" for pretty much any component you could think of. In this case, they have a camera board, a GPS board, a processor board and an antenna all hobbled together.

Evaluation boards cost much more than the actual component (could be ~$100 for a EVB of a component that costs just pennies), but it's still much much cheaper than developing a custom pcb.

So you order what you need, and make it work. Than, it's just a matter of shrinking it down, and cost reduction. You either hire some freelance engineer who will take all the schematics of all the EVB's you're using, and redesign just the portions you need (normally you'll just be using a small subset of each EVB), or (depending on the overall size, etc.) you could find a couple of tiny modules you just need to connect with a smaller custom pcb. It's always a good idea to browse alibaba.com, and many of the vendors there will even modify their products to you if the order is large enough.

After you have the working prototype, but before you start spending money on shrinking it down, you may want to get an industrial designer to do a mockup of how the product will look. When you have a working prototype and a mockup, you can get funding (Kickstarter, for example).

Note, that investors (via Kickstarter or not) will want to know exactly how much it will cost to manufacture, so you have to do all the design and manufacture "leg work", just to get the numbers right. This is rather tedious, but a necessity.

orangethirty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Build it and they might come. With hardware, the best way to convince someone to buy or fund your gizmo is to have them play with it.
kode4fun 1 day ago 1 reply      
- I think the best way to get into hardware, is to work on DIY/Electronic Projects (like you plan on doing).

- To go from prototype to completed product, requires alot of patience and resilience. Do you plan on using PCBs as well? If you do, do you know about OrCad or Eagle?

- I'll like to work with you, (if you don't mind).

Ask HN: Review my startup PaySimply
7 points by paysimply  1 day ago   8 comments top 4
donebizkit 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to sound forward but what's your background? What's your experience in mobile payment? It's hard to convince someone to put credit card info without giving much info about the company.
bonzoq 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My first impression is that your website looks very unprofessional. I wouldn't trust a payment company with a website like this. However this can be quickly fixed, if you don't have much experience with frontend development someone else needs to help you.
Wajeez 1 day ago 1 reply      
Few quick tips:
Who are you? What company runs this website? Who are the founders / their background, previous projects, what type of support they bring to this website? what guarantee is given to users, who is already using this app, what does he / she say about it?

Also, how about using anything related to money in your logo?


paysimply 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: What Are Some Good GitHub "Contributing" Examples?
19 points by pessimism  2 days ago   10 comments top 7
notmyname 2 days ago 1 reply      
We just added a CONTRIBUTING file to OpenStack Swift (and I believe the other OpenStack projects are getting one soon): https://github.com/openstack/swift/commit/fdf55c2817c9a457de....

The odd thing about OpenStack (from a GitHub perspective) is that the OpenStack development process doesn't use GitHub's issues or pull requests. This has been documented on the OpenStack wiki, but that info is now also in our CONTRIBUTING file. Our file is an example of something to share with potential contributors to point them in the right direction.

vitovito 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Contributing" is a project by bradfitz specifically to explain how to contribute to projects, and to collect those explanations.


On Github at: https://github.com/bradfitz/contributing

dunstenloopy 2 days ago 0 replies      
It took me ages that you mean a file called CONTRIBUTING at the root of your project repository. It just looked like you were shouting.
robinho364 2 days ago 0 replies      
I support that "Perhaps we could look into creating a CONTRIBUTING Bootstrap as a default template for writing your GitHub contribution guidelines".
I am a new developer who have been using github for only a few month. At the beginning, I even don't know how to use the "git" to manage my repository. It really takes me some days to learn it.
Ask HN: Review my startup VoxBox
11 points by voxboxapp  1 day ago   4 comments top 2
kilian 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very easy to use! I would love an upload-to-soundcloud function as well as non-destructive dubbing (and the ability to remove and redo bad dubs).

Some sort of visual representation of the soundwave, like the soundcloud-app does, is also incredibly useful to get a general idea of what you just recorded.

mnicole 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good to see more music apps! I assume this isn't the first time you've been asked this, but how does this differ from http://loopyapp.com/? I've been using Loopy for awhile and love how intuitive it [generally] is but I do wish there were some more features on top of just the recording/basic editing tools.
Show HN: Addfs - A richer file explorer for the web
2 points by pillvin  20 hours ago   2 comments top 2
corentino 16 hours ago 0 replies      

I don't see the value your proposing. I've various cloud storage account and they don't need to be ruled as one. Each of them have a dedicated purpose and they may stay appart from each other.

your website is no good. I should understand what you're proposing in a second. And most importantly, the colors you choosed is like 20 years old ! Take a tour to https://kuler.adobe.com you'll find some nice and beautiful fancy color package !

Your name is hard to remember and doesn't tell anything about your product.

To conclude, I would say I don't know if you're on the good road for succes, I don't need this service but hey look ! there's plenty people on internet !

factorialboy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the name. I may use it, I'd like to see a screenshot / screencast / video before I sign in with my credentials.
Ask HN: Why does AirBnb need 800+ employees?
10 points by iwaffles  2 days ago   7 comments top 6
moocow01 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hear these types of questions about many web companies from time to time in that the assumptions is you just need a small bundle of folks to run the website but in reality when a business gains traction the website is just the tip of the iceberg in many cases. The number of employees needed can snowball as the business starts to take off... legal teams, finance, accounting, QA, HR, BAs, management, ops, etc - it all adds up to usually more than one would assume. Additionally the customer facing product can be a very small part of the overall tech solution in that developing needed internal tools and systems can require large numbers of employees.

Typically your biggest numbers are going to come from sales folks / account managers in that, as an example, if the business model allows for a sales rep to sustainably bring in 200k on an 100k salary you most likely are going to hire as many as you can get. Groupon is a good example of this in action although it obviously has not been as successful as they would like.

itsprofitbaron 1 day ago 0 replies      
First of all I don't think AirBnB currently has too many employees & when they were 85 employees they were adding 2-3 employees per day[1] Likewise their team has also grown due to a couple of acquisitions/acquihires " Crashpadder, Accoleo and DailyBooth.

The reason why AirBnB needs a team of 800+ employees is because, they're trying to expand as quickly as possible into as many countries as they can " leveraging the growth they already have there. For example they have 20,000 properties listed in Asia[2] & are focusing heavily on increasing this number & have just opened offices over there.

The [2] post also highlights some of the reason for the number of employees as each location requires, “a team of dedicated local customer support agents and a hotline for queries” due to AirBnB offering 24/7 support to its users.
As well as having, local customer support agents who help the company provide 24/7, AirBnB also requires: Management, Finance, Accounting, Legal (Recently they hired David Hantman from Yahoo[3] to help tackle some of their regulatory issues), Human Resources, Business Development, Customer Support, Other Operational Staff etc alongside their developers to build out the company & leverage the market opportunity.

[1] http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/05/25/airbnb-is-growing-fast...

[2] http://thenextweb.com/asia/2012/11/21/airbnb-targets-2-milli...

[3] http://allthingsd.com/20121015/yahoo-loses-government-relati...

johnrgrace 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because once you get big enough it makes sense to have specialists working on small parts of the business. Those specialists all should be creating more value than their cost.

Just think about the credit card side of the business.
- They should have one person who's whole job is to make sure their interchange charges are as low as possible.
- They likely have a lot of float, money from where customers have paid for stays upfront that they hold onto until the housing providers get paid. If a billion dollars flow through their hands a year and they pay 15 days after the recieve the money, there is $41 million in float that someone needs to invest for the short term.
- An entire team of people likely has to deal with credit card fraud.

Any webish company past a revenue range is going to have these issues to deal with.

27182818284 1 day ago 0 replies      
In addition to what others have mentioned, something that came to my mind is that they're also big enough to have people lobbying for legislation against them in multiple places. That's going to require extra people if for nothing else but to be liaisons to the lawyers and anti-lobbyists.
andrewhillman 2 days ago 0 replies      
they dont really need 800 employees. they just dont know which of the 80% of employees are the productive ones. They could cut 20% with ease but it's really hard to determine who isn't needed. As business scales it gets really tough to figure out who is needed and isn't. All growing companies face this. Companies should focus on being leaner.
damian2000 2 days ago 1 reply      
Worldwide representatives/salespersons in each country where they have a presence?
E.g. http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/11/airbnb-officially-lands-in...
       cached 28 November 2012 13:05:02 GMT