- If they are giving you a puzzle, try your best to solve it. Do not be too worried if you can't solve it. Most of them will give you hints. I have been offered jobs when I couldn't solve their puzzles.
- If they're asking about opinionated questions (OSX/Linux/Windows, Git/Hg, Java/C, iOS/Android, etc), they are probably just testing your reasoning. It doesn't matter what you answer as long as you have your reasoning. Telling them you use Hg because your boss told you so is not good. It's always good to have a good lookout on new technologies.
- Go to meetups and talk to people. You will probably find a lot of jobs there. Be open, tell them you are looking for a job.
- Wear a t shirt and jeans. Drink lots of water and maybe a cup of coffee.
If you only need to analyze <1B events at a time, then an old-fashioned relational database is fine. Beyond that, CitusDB, Redshift, and Vertica are analytics databases that might be in your price range.
Bigger mobile publishers will usually consider analytics a core competency and handle it in-house; if you continue to grow you'll quickly reach a point where it's no longer possible to outsource this.
at http://Trak.io we can definitely handle that data volume, all data analysis is done retroactively and in realtime.
Note: However we don't automatically track any events, as we found most people were collecting a ton of garbage event data that they would never use. So you'll need to setup the events to be tracked at the beginning of the integration.
We don't have iOS or Android SDK's, but a raw REST http API (and JS) but we'd be open to discussing what we could sort out to win your business ;)
A/B tests: date vs. date cohort segmentation, event vs. event cohort segmentation, property vs. property segmentation. And groupby (breakdown by) view.
Linear funnels are in progress, but again for an app this size let's talk about what we could do.
The main way we differentiate ourselves from Mixpanel (and similar) is that we're trying to go for as simple interface as possible. Essentially, if analytics tools or reports are complicated, they just wont get used. So we're sticking to a very design-led product which may or may not suit you, depending on what exactly you're looking for.
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat further :)
Hit me up if you would like, my email is in my profile.
For instance, you can define an event as a "Touch on a UIButtonView". Then, we dig into your users' entire past activity to let you instantly segment on that event or include it in funnels. No new code is required.
We haven't publicly launched our Android integration yet, but we should be able to figure something out - ping us at email@example.com. We're flexible on pricing and would love to help.
There's a YC company called Heap Analytics that offers pricing based on monthly unique users. I've never used it but it's the only other thing I can think of.
Love to chat about your requirements -- firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to discuss.
Geographic location, age, gender, education?
What if you install virtual box w/ some free OS (like ubuntu). Store all your personal information within the virtual machine which is configured with a secure login. Then you can leave the laptop unsecured so you can use your other apps to dictate the password to the ubuntu OS for login.
It looks like it may work with any BT device, so even if you don't have a BT-enabled phone, you could get a cheap BT headset or something, and keep it on you.
I'd also like to say that it's great to see you doing so well with technology. I had a quadriplegic friend when I was little (he was an adult) who had a nice setup for the time, but his independence was limited to a few things like Clappers for lights, TV remotes, and such. I sometimes wonder just what crazy things he'd be getting up to if he was still around today with a setup like yours.
Anyone know of anything?
Found one! https://www.keylemon.com/download-other-versions/
It took practice to talk perfectly clearly, but it could be mastered.
Google "throat microphone".
The laptop only being accessible via voice recognition and one button should be enough to render the entire system unusable to casual snoops.
edit: Looks like you can disable/reenable the builtin keyboad/touchpad with terminal commands, so it'd just be a matter of scripting them to voice shortcuts: http://superuser.com/questions/214221/how-can-i-lock-the-mou...
ps: be sure to have a plan B to reboot your laptop while experimenting with this in case it locks out your controls somehow.
Obviously that would take a little feat of memory, or at least some kind of prompt, but you could memorize a poem or something and use that - it would prevent replay attacks.
Or, use an algorithmic password, perhaps one where you do a sum based on the time of day.
All these solutions require some level of coding sadly, but I would have thought it would be something a freelancer could knock up relatively cheaply.
Why not just have the mac autologin and then immediately go into screensaver mode?
At the very least set /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app to open on start
Thinking about solving this programmatically, it wouldn't be too hard to set up a secure locking replacement for a screensaver that would offer a challenge response system to unlock the system without using a password anyone who hears could repeat.
- Figure out how to add a text filter between DragonDictate and your system.
- Program the filter to look for a special sequence, e.g. "cipher_mode"
- When in cipher mode, feed characters through a simple cipher. E.g. A -> C, B -> D, etc. No passerby is going to be able to figure out what you're doing.
- When the filter sees "cipher_mode" again then it stops filtering.
I would suggest writing/getting an app written that runs in fullscreen and looks exactly like an OSX login screen. Bonus points if it can disable multi-tasking shortcuts such as the 3 finger swipe up. The app can be hardcoded to only accept one password - yours. Since the app is running with OSX logged on you can use your usual tools to enter the password.
It goes without saying that this won't fool anyone determined - you can just reboot the laptop to make the app go away. However it should be enough to stop casual passers-by.
Do you have exemples of websites that use technology to facilitate surfing for disabled people , that could be shown as an exemple of good accessibility practice ?
thanks and take care.
I wonder if it could be set to lock at boot unless your phone (or BT headphones or whatever) is nearby.
I doubt this can be all that secure since it can be downloaded from the App Store, I'm pretty sure that means it can be force quit (it could not prevent this key combo since its restricted in the sandbox). It may be just enough.
"Wonder if he could somehow get his one-button clicker to translate morse code into ascii."
Use the Arduino Leonardo to send native keyboard key strokes into the USB port of the Mac - it's robust and works every time - plug and play (once it's been programmed).
The Leonardo could be programmed to listen out for a specific pattern of switching and then send the entire password down the USB cable, or alternatively it could have some simple or complex feedback (lights / tones / onscreen keyboard display on a second mini screen) to allow individual characters/keystrokes to be sent down the USB cable from the Arduino.
I've been making stuff like this in the UK for the charity Scope, and their users - often people who have cerebral palsy. I could potentially make you something and post it over - if you are interested drop me a line.
Goals:1. Securely login to websites.2. Securely unlock a Macbook Pro.
Solutions to (1):A. (1) Can be solved with a password memorization app, once we solve (2).
So let's examine 2.
Solutions to (2):
Seems like there are two parts to this problem: authentication and OS X integration.
OS X has a login API that can be used to build extensions, or since the adversary is unsophisticated we could use an input blocking regular application.
Okay, so the integration piece is possible, and we can flesh that out later. So let's look at authentication.
A. Use Physical Authentication: Bluetooth, RFID, and Wifi devices come to mind. All of these require purchasing additional hardware. Buying new hardware seems inelegant though, so let's table this option for now.
B. Biometrics: Voice print ID or facial recognition. More promising, but false negative rate is too high, especially for accessibility purposes. Really don't like the idea of a temperamental biometrics program keeping you out of your computer.
C. Speech Recognition: Get voice recognition working on the log in screen. Apple has APIs for dictation and log in. This one seems promising. But then you might need a rotating set of passwords or an algorithmic password,, as others suggested, to keep passers-by from overhearing your password.
One more thought. Is there a way to set up Dragon Dictate as a native input device? If so, Mac lets you access the input device switcher from the log in menu.
I think you might also be able to make use of a kinect or Andriod/iPhone and some eye-tracking.
Also, do you know of these guys? It's where my colleague worked about twenty years ago. http://www.tirrfoundation.org/
This product called "Swifty" (http://www.orin.com/access/swifty/) also takes a switch as input, and can emulate a standard usb keyboard. With VoiceOver enabled in the login screen (Settings->Users->Login Options) this should allow one to login without using the keyboard.
Hope this helps.
Or you could plug an Arduino into the USB port and use it as a keyboard device to send a stream of keypresses when you touch a button (just like a yubikey, except you could put the button anywhere.) The first button press could type in a password to unlock the computer, and the second button press could press a keyboard shortcut to lock it again. Or you could program it to recognize a simple morse code sequence. Let me know if you're interested in that idea, and I would be happy to program one and mail it to you.
I would guess something like this- an arduino hooked up to something you can operate (BigBuddy?). This could then ask you for your PIN code (2 taps, 3 taps, 2 taps)
Once arduino is happy it will quirt a pre-stored key sequence into the USB port, acting as a keyboard, and unlock what you need.
I have no idea if it is really viable but its the best I have.
Read this post about new treatments in China.Spinal Cord injury therapies and medical situation in ChinaMajor spinal surgeries in China. Advances in repair of cord.http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/07/spinal-cord-injury-therapie...
a) How about buying an external Fingerprint reader that's close to your thumb or wearable?There are tools that automatically find windows with input fields.
b) OR, instead of dictating a password, you could hire someone to write software that extracts a fingerprint from your VOICE's characteristics. You would have to train it to diferent types of voices you have (morning voice/tired voice/hoarse voice etc.)
Every person's voice has characteristics that make it unique and cannot be reproduced by another human. Only a computer could do that and that would require a lot of effort to break the unknown algorithm used in your computer first
c) use existing software like this: http://demo.authentify.com/biometric/ or similar. I just googled for voice authentication/fingerprint.
i.e. you spell 'cat' in morse code with your one button. Or whatever. The important thing is that it's something YOU can do, and is likely not anymore easily guessed/caught than someone shoulder surfing someone typing the password on the keyboard.
That said.. I want to point out, you mention this is because you are worried about your PA's that are helping you with things maybe taking liberties you don't want them to. If you don't trust your PA's I think you should work on getting their trust (and vice versa), or look into replacing them with people you trust. If you need help with advocacy around this, reach out to your local Independent Living Center.
If not, I think your best bet is a Bluetooth solution or some hardware token. For instance, an Arduino or Teensy ($20) programmed with your login/master password, and with a small microphone connected would be able to respond to certain voice commands and act as a regular USB keyboard, typing in your pass phrase.
You could also have some software on the Mac to automatically lock the screen or shutdown the computer if the Arduino is removed.
I'm clearly missing something obvious, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to edit and update my original question; can someone put me out of my misery? :-)
-Is the computer turned off or on?
-Do you want toa) protect your computer from being stolen?b) protect your weird fetish from being discovered?c) protect your online banking credentials?
It would take work to get setup again, which may make the NFC setups better.
you should also follow the leap motion device. https://www.leapmotion.com it could enable some facial recognition apps, or new approaches for data entry that are not just voice control.
Also, something like this may make it less desirable to steal, and be another way to mount it to your chair.https://www.stoptheft.com/products/stoplock
How about rigging a bite switch to the ubikey (either directly or via something like a raspberry pi / beagle bone). That's assuming that the only issue with the ubikey is you pressing the button.
Maybe (if it has an rpi) it needs a sequence. Bite. Pause. Bite bite. Pause. Bite. Etc.
I suspect you'd need someone to build it for you but I doubt there is a shortage of capable or willing people here. Sadly, my electronics skills are not up to it :(
I'm always impressed by people with accessibility issues using technology (or whatever is the correct term - sorry if that's at all offensive :( ). I've managed to make one of my apps a lot more useful to blind/partial sighted people after talking to a guy who can't see. It took me about 30 mins, and made the world of difference to him.
also shouldn't be expensive to build... link to the github repothe software can be found here https://github.com/eyewriter/
There's also QuickLock which was/is a workaround to lock OS X quickly without using the screen saver + immediate password requirement. http://www.quicklockapp.com/
Note: I haven't used either, I'm just googling and looking at videos.
Just my two cents!
eg: Is this your mom? (with a picture). Is this your favorite color (a color showing). Is this your phone number? Is this your house? Do you like cheese? Do you like candy crush (ok, no entropy there, the answer is always "yes") .
now, does someone want to make this product?
If my proposed plan for a new "pending" state for comments
works out, we'll just unban most of the accounts that were banned for being garden variety idiots or assholes, and their good comments can be promoted individually by other users.
Incidentally, when a comment is dead, it's not always because the user is banned. E.g. the comment that seems to have set off anigbrowl
was not killed because the user is banned, but because it was a dupe.
When you see stories that are killed rather than comments, it's usually because they've been submitted by sockpuppet rings. There are quite a lot of those accounts on HN now, and many of them are smart enough to mix a variety of other sites in with the sites they're promoting. Benologist, who helped us catch some of them, has more details here:
The ability to upvote dead comments out of oblivion would be useful for commenters.
Edit: as luck would have it that group is submitting a batch right now - http://i.imgur.com/MVvfoaC.png - all those dead accounts (+ aynlaplant, flag to help kill it) are spam though they don't look like it at first glance.
One potential explanation is that false positives (banning a good user) don't bring down overall post quality, false negatives (not banning a bad user) do.
I feel that there's Catch-22 here - so few people browse/upvote in `/new` that one's practically forced to get friends to upvote, but then runs the risk of automated banhammer. More transparency would be great. It's ironic that pg calls for openness in government but governs HN behind closed doors.
ii) Some hellbanned users know they are hellbanned but continue to post anyway
iii) The recent uptick may be connected to the flood of piss-poor threads about politics. I'm not sure. I'd like to see some kind of numbers to confirm that there are more hell-banned users.
There are several things you can do with hellbanned posts. You could check the user's post history and try to work out what got them banned, and then send them an email to let them know they're banned. That's one reason why it's important for people to have an email in their "about me" section of their profile.
It might be worth-while investigating a tweak, because it seems HN is reluctant to flag and downvote poor content, and that might be because HN users are reluctant to cause a hellban.
It also bothers me that downvoted posts have lighter/more transparent text. It makes it really hard to read, and most downvoted posts are interesting to read, so it's damaging to my eyes to have to read those posts with some weird text editing on it.
TempleOS 27 minutes ago
God is perfectly just. Niggers deserve hell. Hell is the absence of God.God says... by_the_way no_more_tears middle_class thats_just_wrong little_buddy test_pilot not_in_my_wildest_dreams this_might_end_badly catastrophe husband good talk_to_my_lawyer ohh_thank_you thats_right au_revoir so_let_it_be_done off_the_record like_like experts ridiculous
I reported it to info@yc, two days ago, but I didn't get any answer.
I had always been a fan of this site and try to join in a discussion once in a while to be part of a community. It really ruined my day when I found out I had been banned. I felt betrayed and lost my 100+ karma.
Because there is no 'disagree' people down vote.
Does PG have a policy against this? I seen people point out that so-and-so was hellbanned before and never noticed any repurcussions and I have also seen people repost useful comments from users who were hell banned.
Or do you think "the trouble" stems from the word hacker in the site name?
how do I check whether my account is banned?
All net forums have owners, and almost all have defacto restricted topics - things the owners simply won't allow.In many cases, one of the restricted topics is what well known 'cultural entity' the owners are members of.
What does differ is the degree of sneakiness in what's forbidden, and the methods used to enforce the restrictions.
In a few cases it's forthright - there's a FAQ listing forbidden topics; you say what you're not supposed to, and you're banned. But that's rare. It's more often the case that forbidden topics are so forbidden that they aren't even mentioned in the rules as forbidden. And the site's operation is structured to provide means of quietly removing offending comments from public view.
It's all about controlling the perception of common public opinion, while avoiding being seen to do so. There are many tricks used.
In almost all sites, there are cliques of semi-official mods, with the power to remove/alter what's visible. The Wikipedia global warmist clique being a prime example. Even when the clique isn't officially part of the site's control system, Megaphone-like back-channel organization makes very powerful manipulation via mass down-voting and pile-on criticism possible.Then there's the HB Gary-esque 'multiple personas' methods, by which groups of paid shills can exert far more web influence than they should be able to.
But what's really disturbing, is when forums that pretend to be open and politically unbiased, are structured to provide hidden methods of control - and they are clearly using them.
For instance, on reddit the '500 visible post limit' provides a way of vanishing politically unwelcome posts. On 4chan, the ephemeral nature of everything makes it easy to vanish posts faster than they otherwise would.
With ycombinator I thought the control method was pretty obvious, and I'd experienced it myself. Make any mention of anything related to 'topic-Y', and get instantly downvoted into the negatives. OK, I could live with that. It's a pity, but then hardly anything unique in this sadly upside-down, tiny-dot ruled world.
Now it turns out... that ycombinator is also applying 'holo-net' techniques?Am I understanding this right? A hellbanned person sees their own posts appearing normally, but they are hidden to everyone else (unless they turn on 'showdead' - and now I have to go find out how to do that.)
You know, that's a _very_ immoral and deceptive facility to implement in a forum.It almost reminds me of... stereotypical behavioral characteristics of... something I can't mention here, for fear of being hellbanned.
My gradually recovered vote count is now 54. I expect it to now suddenly go negative. Again.
I hope you guys realize that free, open and unrestricted public debate is crucial to the maintenance of civilization? And that deploying means of distorting and controlling debate will achieve only one thing in the end - the collapse of civilization into a hell of violence and insanity. It takes time, but it's inevitable. Special interest groups, whether ideological or ethnic, are never capable of acting rationally in the interests of the greater good. They always behave like drowning persons - strangling those who are keeping things afloat.
Of course, whether certain special interest groups actually want to bring down civilization - that's a fair question.
Telecommuting doesn't have to be the easy way out. Remember that really important projects like the Linux kernel are developed by remote developers collaborating.
Also, theres no great rush to change the world. The world is changing faster than ever due to a renaissance created by the internet and other technologies.
The only rush is if you want to grab riches from the process, but it will happen whether or not you participate. If you don't want riches, the rational strategy is not to adopt a work lifestyle that will stress your body and take years off your life.
Also remember that you are a developer and that you can work more efficiently than almost any other type of worker by leveraging technology and automation.
Remember that you can create something far more valuable by yourself in one day in 2013 than a team of developers could in a month in the 90's by capitalizing on the vast treasure of open source software available to you today for free.
That said, some of the most amazing things and friendships arise from adversity, and don't be surprised if you never have the same experiences as people who went out on the sharp end and did the hard, rushed thing.
Ultimately, do what you think you'll enjoy most--and don't regret it, whatever that turns out to be.
EDIT: Minor quibble with one thing you said--No one wants to take time to analyze a problem before pouncing on it."
Usually a thorough analysis is not worth it, especially if the assumptions and models backing the problem are based in business; these can change, and then you are left with no code and a fascinating insight into a present which no longer exists.
If you're doing a problem set or working through SICP, sure, but at the end of the day, real artists ship.
I'm also going to point you to http://www.paulgraham.com/todo.html. I think that essay is very applicable to living life well.
My advice to anyone else considering self-publishing:
* Start with Amazon KDP and CreateSpace. Both services are easy and fast. It's the quickest way to test an idea.
* Be prepared to iterate quickly based on reader feedback.
* Consider paying $100 or $200 for a decent cover. You can find designers lurking around the online writing communities (such as kboards.com for fiction) or hire someone on oDesk. Make sure they have experience designing book covers, which will save time and frustration.
* Have someone proof your manuscript. I see lots of writers who skip this step, and suffer in the ratings and reviews as a result.
* Have a cover blurb and Amazon description that grabs people. Also, make sure that readers can easily find out about you, either through the product listing page (which Amazon grabs from Amazon Author Central) or your own product website.
* If you want to use other platforms, Apple's iBookstore seems most promising. It's hard to set up, though. "iTunes Producer" is a very rough piece of software. However, if you've worked on iOS apps in the past at least you will be familiar with iTunes Connect, which is used to set pricing and monitor sales.
* I have sold many PDFs, but I am not sure how that would work for fiction. I started with e-junkie but switched to Gumroad (3) which has a much better interface.
Marketing is tough. One thing you can do once you have a print version through CreateSpace or another service, join Goodreads (a social network for people who love to read) and set up a Goodreads Giveaway (4) (a contest for your book that Goodreads runs -- usually a few hundred people sign up, and you have to send out 10 or 20 copies to winners that GR selects). It's free to set up, but you'll have to purchase and send out copies of the book to the winners of the giveaway. The advantages of this: Readers often write reviews, which are seen by other GR members. Many other people will put the book on their "to-read" list, and some will go out and buy the book right away because they don't want to wait to see if they won a copy.
1) Don't write in a vacuum. Build an audience of people who want to buy (double points if you presell to them), and deliver value to them once a week in the form of takeaways from chapters you've just written, thoughts you have on the subject, etc.
2) "It's a comedy book" means you're likely selling to consumers, and it's pretty hard to explain the value (e.g. why someone should pay you for your book) when you're selling to a consumer.
3) Don't promote the book, promote blog posts that reinforce what you're writing that end with a call-to-action to join a mailing list.
4) I'd usually say setup multiple packages, but again, I'm not sure if that'd work for a consumer product.
Selling my e-book on Amazon (http://snook.ca/archives/writing/selling-ebook-on-amazon)
How you can make a million writing your own e-book (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2040044/Kind...)
How to Write and Promote New York Times Bestsellers: Tim Ferriss and Jack Canfield (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/09/01/how-to-write...)
How to (Really) Make $1,000,000 Selling E-Books Real-World Case Studies (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/04/04/how-to-make-...)
How I Used Hacker News to Sell My eBook (http://rubysnippets.com/2013/04/26/how-i-used-hacker-news-to...)
An eBook pricing model that resulted in $100,000 in sales (http://blog.asmartbear.com/selling-ebook.html)
5 rules to sell thousands of copies of your ebook (http://mir.aculo.us/2012/10/20/5-rules-to-sell-thousands-of-...)
I've played in the completely self-controlled arena and more mainstream platforms (Amazon, Kobo, etc), and am happy to answer any questions you might have :)
Broad advice: Think very carefully about what you hope to achieve with your book. If you want to build a brand/platform/business/audience long-term, put out some free work to start, and show people what you're capable of. If you're looking to make a living from this book, publish some smaller works (blogs or short ebooks) first, to give people that sample, and build up a small list.
Treat your readers with respect, but don't take all advice given (filter!). Don't over-advertise. Do your best to incentivize sharing of your message and work without straying into over-marketing territory.
Recognize that you'll make a lot more money publishing yourself (through something like Gumroad or e-junkie), but you can get more organic traffic through a platform like Amazon (and there are MANY pros and cons to both paths). Also recognize that you can play in both arenas: use Amazon to gain new readers, and have other work available outside their ecosystem.
Remember, too, that there are still things that Big Six publishers (and their smaller, traditional publishing counterparts) do really well, and ideally indie authors don't see the publishing world as 'us' and 'them' just two sides of the same coin. You can build up a library of work that you indie publish, and then seek a traditional contract and have more control over the process (having an existing audience to leverage), and the negotiations (they provide prestige that can get you in places that are otherwise difficult to get your book, like airport bookstores, and PR materials that can help you get on talk shows and such some people still won't consider you a pro author until you've got a Penguin or HarperCollins logo on the spine of something you've written).
(Also: Consider the phrase 'indie published' over 'self published,' as the latter tends to imply the equivalent of a garage band, while the former implies something more akin to indie films or indie music personal preference, but something to note when you're telling people how your book is published).
Again, happy to expand on any of this if you want to reply here, or shoot me an email colin at exilelifestyle dot com
Best of luck whichever path you end up taking!
His timeline is.
- Hermit, single guy, writes and gets three books published in the 80s
- He Marries
- Purchases a pop culture / comic book / store of awesomeness
- Can't keep writing and keep up his business and his family, so he quits writing
- The business expands (Sports Card Bubble, Pog Bubble, some other bubbles) opening 3 other locations
- The business contracts (bubbles pop)
- Focues on making one location super solid
- Gets his business dialed in
- Finally pays off all his debt, store is doing really well
- Works two days a week at the store, hires solid employees
- Devotes other remaing days to writing books
- Has been publishing ebooks
- Has tried to go the traditional publishing route
- The dude has been around the block
- He writes at least one blog post a day (he has been doing this for 5+ years)
- He shares A LOT about what he is doing (store front business, book writing strategy, business strategy)
- He has hired artists
- He has hired an editor
The one warning I'll give, is a lot of the time his blog is him processing. You really are reading the guy's journal. So it may feel he repeats himself. I personally enjoy existing in the guy's head. It is a different type of blog. One where you eventually see him work stuff out and you almost get that "AHAH!" moment with him.
I really respect Duncan. I'd tell anyone interested in either business or writing to follow the guy.
I used the Leanpub platform, which is more targeted toward technical writers, though it provides a great number of conveniences if you're writing something that is published in piecemeal.
I think the general advice is...get known. If you are self publishing, then you are on your own in terms of promotion. Put together a list of bloggers/sites who might be interested in reviewing your work and send it out. Create your own micro-site devoted to the book and publish excerpts that you think might stand on their own and generate interest.
Self-publishing is only easier in the sense that it is easy to put something out there. It doesn't make it any easier to get discovered or be successful
I've been working on it for a few months after reading Nathan Barry's excellent book Authority. Based on that I started a mailing list right away and have collected a few hundred email addresses that I can market to.
I can't say I have any concrete advice (bdunn's advice sounds great, though). Best of luck to you!
I'm currently writing a book about neural networks and deep learning. Ideally I'd like to make the book freely available online, with paid ebook and hard copy versions. But I'm uncertain about the impact a free online version will have on sales revenue. Anyone with much hard evidence? Or suggestions for how to make a reasonable amount of money, while keeping the book freely available?
So technical stuff out of the way:* don't use MSWord (probably obvious), but it is way easier if you write in UTF8 with basic mark-up for italics. Markdown is great.* create an epub and then think about Kindle. You want to be everywhere. You need both formats so (Amazon is your primary target market) but it's easier on everybody if Kindle formatting comes second.* eReader specs are all over the map -- it's like a throw back to the browser incompatibilities from 10 years ago -- so clean mark-up is vital. If you want your book to look good on as many devices as possible, don't use a conversion meatgrinder (like calibre) to create files. Do look carefully at lean pub.com or pressbooks.com, especially if you don't need your hand held in this area.* you will need to buy an ISBN, either directly or through a third party
Editing* you need an editor -- your wife, your neighbour, a freelancer -- somebody needs to edit your work. Don't be fooled otherwise, even if you write a blogpost a day and have for the last two years. Good editors will catch problems with tone, spot areas that are confusing, and generally shape the work. This is especially important because writing down complex thoughts is hard. A lot of people think they have a book in them, when really they just a magazine-length article or a blog post or an idea for a tumblr. A good editor will call BS on your ambitions.* proofreading is not editing. Have someone that isn't you or your editor look over your work before you publish
Selling and Marketing* If you are going to spend any money what so ever on your project, spend it on the cover. Self-publishing is plagued by terrible covers and even pro designers trip up when they try to approach ebook images. Do yourself a favour and hire a real book designer. If you can't afford it upfront, publish first and then redesign the cover later.* You want to be on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes, and (maybe) Google Play. You can take this upon yourself or get help from a service like SmashWords or Bookbaby.com* And of course sell on your own site and through your own newsletters using shopify or the like.* Again, it should be obvious your book is not going to sell itself.
All that said, the hardest thing is the writing so get to it.
It's relatively straightforward to get freelance proof-reading and cover design. You could use something like LaTeX to layout the book and if the market you are targeting is relatively niche then you can market it at least as effectively as a publisher, by using a blog / website.
How much hassle do you want? How much money do you want? Is there a publisher who wants to publish your book? Do you have a ready made market?
I've self-published a book on a niche topic. I used Lightning Source, a print on demand company. They expect you to give them everything print-ready. Some print on demand companies like CreateSpace will hold your hand a bit more.
Personally, I enjoyed learning all the things that were needed to get my book into print. It's also nice to make much more per book (~70% or the cover price rather than ~10%).
It's meant to be something of an adjunct to some other in-the-works books. These other books (one about hacking the XBox Kinect, the other about the Leap Motion) make use of OSC, and I didn't want them to become bloated or sidelined by an explanation of OSC, especially for people who may not need it.
One of my goals is to keep the books short, on-topic, and to the point (hence "just the best parts").
Some advice: Know the limitations of your publishing formats. I started out writing the book on the Web, only to learn that HTML that works nicely in a full-size browser can end up as crap when rendered for epub.
Yesterday I did a giveaway of my book because it was my birthday. I think that did more to get attention for the book than anything else. (I'm leaving the free download in place for a few hours more if folks here want to grab it.)
People often say you need to promote the book with blog posts and stuff. I agree, but what it means is you are, in a way, now writing two books (or something). There's not just the work to create the book, there's the work to create the material to promote the book.
I've made the book available online as well, but even then it's hard to get attention. I've started doing some screencasts of some of my OSC software.
Bottom line is I tend to write because I enjoy it and I want to make certain information available to people. I want to see more artists get comfortable with technology. Ideally, though, I can manage some decent return on my time so I can continue doing it.
Hope you find something helpful there.
Good luck, whichever route you choose.
- Spend a lot of effort on designing the cover, as you can't easily change it afterwards and it makes a big difference to whether or not people will buy your book.
- Proof read it thoroughly multiple times (and get someone else to proof read it as well if you're not 100% confident in your own spelling/grammar).
- Don't expect to sell many copies unless you do a bunch of marketing yourself.
Draft (http://draftin.com) is pretty good for this, but not designed for larger scale projects like ebooks.
Leanpub is awesome for distributing early / unfinished copies and opening the doors for feedback, but as far as I know, does not have any built in tools for collecting and integrating feedback or edits (gramatical, writing structure, etc).
They basically share a Dropbox folder with you and let you edit your book in Markdown. For me this means that I'm easily able to work with my normal text editing tools rather than learning something completely new. When I want to publish/preview a new version, I just log into their site and hit the appropriate button, which will autogenerate the PDF, epub and mobi files, putting them in the shared Dropbox folder.
The other nice thing about them is that they will let you start selling your book while it is still in progress, so you can get feedback from real customers about what they would like to see in the book.
Jasmine Testing: A Cloak & Dagger Guide: https://leanpub.com/jasmine-testing
Use this to avoid scams:
Best of luck!
I did a printing of the book and am selling the physical version on Amazon Advantage. Advantage takes a 55% cut of the List Price, and handles all shipping, ordering, etc. I just have to send them inventory when needed.
The program works, but so far in my experience it's a huge pain in the ass. They send out Purchase Orders when they need more inventory and it's pretty unpredictable (an order could be 4 copies or 900, which means shipping really changes my COGS). They also "lost" a shipment of 800 books that took them a month to find. So I wouldn't recommend Amazon Advantage unless there isn't another option.
I recently released the 4th edition of my Java AI book on leanpub.com https://leanpub.com/javaai and in a few weeks the 3rd edition of my "Loving Common Lisp. The Saavy Programmer's Secret Weapon" will be released.
Leanpub.com pays 90% royalties, minus a $0.50 handling charge so you might be pleasantly surprised how much money you can earn.
I wrote a post about some of the things I learned from it: http://korban.net/2013/04/10000-in-sales-of-my-c-book-easier...
Two things I can say (also discussed in the post above): I wouldn't go with a traditional publisher now (with the exception of Pragmatic Programmers), and marketing isn't as hard as I thought, but it's definitely a long term effort.
I'm so new to it don't feel I can give any authoritative advice. I have sold copies. I have not hit the lottery. But it's a great feeling of accomplishment. Feel free to ping me via the email addr in my HN profile.
My next book will be technical, on Software Performance and Scalability. Then switch back to a sequel to DSPR.
The main thing I learned is that if you need to sell your book for more than $10 (if it's aimed at a vertical market) split it into multiple $10 books or you'll be screwed by Amazon (which gives lower royalties for books between $10 and $20 than for $10 books). I ended up only selling my book through Apple and Lulu (and BN but that's useless).
Another problem is I've found most of the epub tools I've used to be fairly awful. Were I doing it over again I'd probably write the whole book in markdown and convert it to epub using scripts.
I found it to be a great resource for finding information as well as people to do the cover and/or formatting of the eBook.
Yes I have one out... :)
Here's an example of a graphic novel self published, initial print run crowd funded. A Possibly useful example.
Jason Brubaker developed a following for years by blog, showing the actual pages and process for creating his intended book. Then he took his community to kickstarter to fund the initial print run, and initial orders too, and initial publicity beyond his blog (aside from guest posts at other comic author blogs). He's done a second one book the same way, too.
The book: reMind
His fundraising story:"Grassroots Funding with Kickstarter.com"http://www.remindblog.com/2010/10/14/grassroots-funding-with...
Here are few quick tips:
1) Build your audience beforehand (email, social) as it will power your sales once you launch your book.
2) Try to do guest blogs and get reviews from other bloggers on your book. Send them free copies etc.
3) Launching is easy but holding the revenue steady requires a lot of work so plan to spend some time post-launch to promote your book.
*) To optimize revenue think about several pricing options.
Feel free to contact me maris[at]sellfy for more info!
A copy editor will challenge your sentence structures, paragraphs, overall flow, and much more.
Compare what you wrote before the copy editor did their work, versus after - you'll see a big difference.
Note that copy editing is often an iterative process - so you'll work with the editor as you complete your revisions.
Yet in the end it is your book, so you don't have to follow the copy editor's suggestions if you think you're right/know your topic more than he or she does/etc.
PS: I created this tool, let me know if you need any help.
I answered a question on Quora about this general topic a while back.
No 3rd party app needed.
If your mouse does not have a middle click button, buy one. It is a godsend.
If not, re-map one of your mouse buttons to be a Button-3. I often remap the forward button to Button 3. How often would you want to go forward to a page after you've gone back?
To get to the comments.
I believe you have just identified a product niche. Quick hackers, lets get on it!
I don't have any product recommendations but I do have a question: What exact features are you looking for in a team password management product?
Keep in mind that construction licensing laws are local and state laws and thus Federal construction projects are exempt, so scanning through license records will not provide a complete list.
As a practical matter, many Federal projects are specialized, and the contractors who perform the work don't take on other types of projects, so the companies are not well known.
Top it all off with some projects being handled without bid, or added as change orders to existing projects or simply classified and never even published.
My recommendation would be to find a domain expert, I only know what I know because I've been with firms that don't pursue that sort of work architecturally based on the reasons I mentioned. Though I did once interview with URS Griner for a position that was focused on DoD work. We were not a good fit.
Anyway, good luck.
As I got older, I looked for and found great friends outside of school, friends I made through tech meetups and my job (friends of friends as well). I now have about 10 close friends who I try to talk to at least once a week and schedule some sort of way to get together. I have a few friends with whom I go out to eat with at least once a month and others who I try to go to meet ups/events with.
If you are looking for friends in your area, I would suggest using http://atthepool.com and http://highlig.ht. You can meet some cool people that way.
Once you find a couple awesome friends, schedule dinner or lunch with them on the first/last day of every month, that way you have something to look forward to and you know for sure that you will see your friends at least once a month.
Hope this helps!
Friendship is not based on having something in common or having meaningful conversation. It's much deeper than that. When my friends and I get together, we don't talked about our achievements or failures. We just talked about whatever there is to talked about. Most of it is nothing interesting. We just enjoy the company of each other with a couple of beers and pizza.
As we grow older out commitments change. We get married, start a business and so on. We have responsibilities. We don't get to hang out often but our friendship remains.
Try working with an executive coach - I work with Bryan Franklin. It's easier for you to develop leadership and management skills than it is for an outsider to really grok your business and share your vision.
Regarding the marketing role, be sure to get the right kind of marketer: https://medium.com/on-startups/1308a8f17137
Most of all: go slow on executive hires. There are a lot of "good talkers" out there. An empty seat is better than the wrong person.
from what we've seen and what we've heard, basically starting at $1 million/year in revenues, you will hit a serious new set of problems (some call these inflection points) at every doubling thereafter (i.e., 2M, 4M, 8M, 16M)
obviously there are exceptions (some businesses are simply born to be able to handle massive amounts of revenue in a flat manner) but basically, every time a business doubles, the problems change. this doesn't mean you're incompetent, or that you lack skills.
First, I can completely appreciate your mentality. When the software company I founded was at about $650,000 in annual revenue, I was convinced that it was time to bring in a seasoned leader who knew how to take the business to the next level because I, as a first-time entrepreneur, had certainly not done it before.
In retrospect, that mentality was a mistake. The truth is that you understand the business better than anyone else and there is no magical skill or talent that someone else can bring to the table that will so fundamentally improve things.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you transfer responsibility to "better" executive that they can do a better job. That person will bring their own strengths/weaknesses to the table. They will need to rely on a team to make up for their handicaps just as you are looking to do.
In this situation, I recommend the following:
- First, clearly identify exactly what issues are vexing you. If it seems like "everything" or "things are just overwhelming" then make a list of just the most important issues.
- Then pick 1 or 2 or 3 that you can actually focus on solving. You can't do more than that at once, but imagine how much impact fixing your top 3 issues will make on the business! In fact, you should try to quantify how much money you are losing or missing out on by not resolving these issues to give yourself a sense of what you should budget to solve them
- Then block out or delegate everything else, and focus 100% of your creative energies on how you can resolve these issues. Use any and all resources available to you, including friends, consultants, or even Hacker News ;-) If you don't even know where to begin on an issue, then find an expert for THAT ISSUE (which is different than finding a new CEO).
- Then keep at it, keep refining your ideas, listen to your intuition, and push through until you make progress.
I made the mistake of thinking other businesspeople were "better" than me or more talented than I am. The truth is you just need to know what your strengths/weaknesses are. Then lean on the team around you or new people to help you fill in the weaknesses.
Hope this helps,
I'm going to write you a longer email tonight. My wife and I run Cheergram (http://cheergram.com) and we've always admired what you've done at SPS. We had pretty good success with Instagram cards last holiday season and now we're looking into other kinds of cards, invitations, artwork and prints. We're also doing some wedding-focused stuff (think hashtag + prints/books).
Maybe there's a way we can share ideas, work together, or even join forces. I do all our development and it sounds like we have a similar tech stack. I also have some connections in the print industry.
No matter what, keep it up and I agree with most of the commenters here.
In addition to some executive coaches, who will help you grow personally, it seems you need some good advisors who can help you with the problems that you're facing. Some of these could have experience with technical issues you're facing, while others could have managerial and supply chain experience.It wasn't clear from your website if you have any advisory board or not.
NOTE: there is a very big difference between board of directors and advisory board, what you need at the moment is advisory board, don't give out board of director seats unnecessarily unless you raise a VC round of funding or go IPO :).
By getting a good set of advisors you will be able to fill the immediate gap in your skills/experience that you're facing and may even decide if any of those (or their referrals) need to be hired, if at all, for executive positions.
Now how you find advisors is non-trivial so I will advise you to look for people with experience in your industry and domain, and contact them. Even if their companies seem to be mildly competing at times, you'll be surprised how many people will meet with you over coffee and might have recommendations. If you decide to have a person come on as an advisor, don't give them any compensation till they start providing value. If someone comes on very strongly and will only help if compensated, then perhaps that is not the right person.
If Intel, GE, or Mircosoft hired a consultant to advise them on the right move, the vast majority of people on HN would scream bloody-murder and speak about it as a perfect example of big-business and its stupidity. What hypocrisy!
Ben, the reality is that you clearly have moved past Steve Blank's description of a start-up; you have found a working business model. Now, the challenge is to find out if that business model is something that can last for 5 years or 50. No one on this board has run a successful company for 50 years. Thus, everyone, definitely including myself, is well out of their league.
However, since entering the old school world of finance, I have realized that there are many men and women who are twice our age who would be able to give you great advice. You need adult supervision and that is OK. You don't know how to hire an executive (i.e. adult supervision). Thus, you should first find someone who can help you find adult supervision. A great place to start is in the 'boring' industries: finance and manufacturing. Find a wise advisor who can help you find an executive to lead.
You are no longer a start-up. Running a post-start-up company like a start-up will kill it as quickly as running a start-up like a Fortune 500.
Why not continue to innovate your successful bootstrapped business?
The most important thing for you to consider is whether or not you actually want to compete with the major players in the field. It sounds like you are doing well managing your boutique operation, and frankly, based on what you've provided it sounds like you are killing it. Boutique operations often destroy their larger competitors, and are far more nimble to have the next best thing that becomes popular and doesn't require "funding" to generate revenue.
Yes, you could hire a new CEO to help track down funding and manage all the acquisition inquiries that you've received. But, if you have a successful bootstrapped business that is generating profits, why would you want to deviate from your current course?
Basic takeaway is not to add structure until it's painfully obvious that you need it. If you hire a VP or CxO from a large firm, he's going to staff you up like a large firm, and you can't afford that yet.
Perhaps you need some mentors, or just folks you are comfortable talking to -- perhaps other founders?
As an angel investor I have found that the one of the things I am called on the most to do is just let people talk stuff out. I don't feel like it is very useful but people really like it.
There's a chapter in SF: http://eoaccess.eonetwork.org/SanFrancisco/Pages/default.asp...
pat yourself on the back and get yourself some local angels on board. they get to wet their beacon and you reap the rewards of a business coach.
Concerning your scaling pains, lots of people probably already do some form of what you're trying to do; you may do better to assimilate/enfranchise them rather than competing.
I know you guys can do it. I've seen what you do and I'm impressed. Keep truckin'!
Gotta agree with most of the comments here -- I think it's incredibly hard to find someone who's "been there before" who can walk in and actually do it for you in a CEO role. I've spent some time looking + asking others in similar situations.
That said, and though I strongly prefer moving people up from the inside, I think there IS opportunity for finding people who can bring specific areas of expertise, like fundraising+connections, building a sales team, leading a tech team.
And I think there's a lot to be gained in finding a strong mentor or group of entrepreneurs in similar situations to act as a sounding board. I can't help with the former, but perhaps the latter. Let's hang again, soon.
PS - The sharks will all want to be CEO and talk about comp before they've tried out your service...they're easy to flush out.
I can't comment on how you should proceed going forward, but to echo the other comments, you've obviously been doing something right. Hopefully this post will put you in touch with the right people.
No useful advice... except, stay extremely clear on who you are, don't compromise even a little on that. "An empty seat is better" is a corollary.
Your bound to get some great advice and gain some valuable insight.
So while it's a nice idea, in practice it doesn't work very well for voice. Texting seems to be OK.
I have been using my iphone with skype as the phone and just a data sim, it works okay but IP telephony is not as reliable as normal cellular telephony but I can live with it.
In my country (denmark) there are no real options for SMS texting without a normal SIM card (no ip based receiving of sms messages) so unfortunately that made the thing a no go for me.
Web access is good (I don't have an iPhone... most of my friends have androids if they have a smartphone. :)
Make the checkout ID the barcode or a barcode... So you can scan the book, this could be different than the ISBN. Also a tool to create self-generated barcode labels for items that don't have any barcodes (I preferred 1.75 x .5" labels... I used TCPDF to make em, told folks to print the label sheets with "scaling off", no printer/label alignment woes then.) With barcodes you can enter the patron first, then rapid scan each item to check out, or when checking in just scan in the items.
You use patron number to checkout should have a facility to search by name... as mentioned get the checkout person's credentials once and then check out the items till done.
Book info is sparse, if you have over 30 books you want to have some search properties and categorization. Maybe tags so you can do searches to locate your vampire western novels... :-) Also if you ware having friends access your library is there some public facing url they can use to browse the owner's library on-line?
Item location, when you get into the several hundred you should have a field for filing location - Dewey decimal is one (though I don't like it myself) give am a 10 or 12 character field and some ideas on how to categorize thier library (i.e. never describe a specific location 3rd shelf, instead, say cookbooks...)...
I would put button on checkout to temporarily adjust loan duration, most friends might get the normal 14 days, other might need more (or less)
Checkout record/reciept, so people have a copy of what they borrowed... or so patrons can sign that they borrowed stuff and lender could take em to small claims if they don't return (some private collections are pretty costly).. if you get into value, purchase/replacement cost.
A general limitless notes field for both for patrons and items would always be welcome... (this would be only viewable by the owner, not in the public search thing I was mentioning previously)
Patron contact info - so you can shoot of an email or call them. If email maybe add a facility to auto-generate a past due notice.
That's it off the top of my head. Nice start.
Second, consider adding a 1-line elevator pitch under your tagline. "Online Library Management System" is a good start but it is a bit vague - library of what? Managing how? Try to write a 1-sentence phrase, packed with specific language, directly addressing the pain point(s) and how you are solving them. Something like some of the text in your About/FAQ sections.
Third, the cover-swish feature is neat, but the "COVERSWISH" title is hard to grok on first glance. Consider a plain easy-to-parse title.
Fourth, your "Detailed Book Information" section does not show very detailed information.
Overall pretty slick, but again I am not a librarian and their worldview is different enough from ours that I recommend you spend lots of time with them. :)
- It looks _really_ great. I'm not super familiar with the interfaces that librarians have to use, but I can't imagine it looks or feels as nice as this. When the kinks are worked out, I can definitely see this being great.
- Upon first login, I'm REALLY confused. This first dashboard is way overwhelming. Perhaps a tutorial on first run, or don't show the widgets unless there's some data.
- There should definitely be a way to import books. There may be a standard library format, if not use CSV. Almost all libraries will already have a system that does this. The only way you will convince them to change is if the migration process is easy.
- The rows in the catalog view widget seem to get big enough to fill the widget. When you don't have many books, it looks weird. Probably better to set these as a fixed height.
- Make the entire row for a book clickable. The whole row gets a cursor icon, but only clicking the text takes me to the next page.
- Deep linking doesn't work
- When I add a book manually, the ID doesn't seem to stick. I entered "22222", and now I can't find that anywhere.
- CoverSwish is really cheesy. Technology for the sake of technology.
- There seems to be an image field on books, but I can't find where to upload an image
- The whole app is _really_ slow. Currently I'm hung and can't get back in. I guess I'll end my review here.
Props on all your work. Since you've asked, I would say you should wait on using real bitcoins.
My guess (and this is no more than a guess) is that the difference is primarily cultural.
There is an acceptance in the US that technical skills are a core part of value creation, and as a result developers tend to be more tightly integrated into the "business". In a mild feedback loop, this in turn causes US developer culture to orient more towards the business, to the extent that developer and management roles and responsibilities start to overlap. (I am, of course, generalising. My experience is with the NYC startup scene, and so is not likely to be generally applicable).
By contrast, the boundary between the front and back ends of the business is more distinct in the UK. In part, this is due to the slightly more introverted/passive/geeky technical culture in the UK, which tends to reduce the involvement of technical staff in the management process. In part, it is also due to the attitude of the "business" - which tends to value the sales process as the key part of value creation - with technical staff tending to be seen more as an overhead than as the engine of the business. In extreme cases, this can manifest itself as an extremely derogatory attitude towards developers. "Glorified typists" was a phrase that I came across once - although fortunately this is a rare extreme.
So, my guess is that IT salaries are lower in Europe than in the US because developers in Europe have less autonomy and are less integrated into business decision making, partly as a result of an introverted and passive developer culture, whereas in the US, greater interaction between developers and management drives an increased perception of the value of technical skills, and a greater role in business decision making.
Are your data sets comparing apples to oranges? If you're looking at IT salaries in one place (network admins, db admins, help desk) and R&D salaries in another (software engineers, QA, product managers) you could easily get different results.
I'm aware that the UK tends to use "IT" for all things computer related, so it seems very easy to get mixed data when crossing the atlantic.
(Most likely the differences are due to the many differences in taxes, holiday/vacation, ability to hire & fire, etc between countries).
There was no difference when you take tax,rent and holidays into consideration (10 - 15 days vs 25 - 28)
This didn't include any bonus / equity / perks
Do you generate the images in the app and upload it to your servers or on your server & download the image to the app?
Are you able to give a bit more detail on your backend stack and the reasons for your choice or technologies?
Will this stay Android only or are you planning on porting it?
- parsed locations from an html file and stored them in a list
- parsed them into this url: 'https://maps.google.com/maps?q=%s' % (location)
-parsed the html for an address
-parsed the address into this url: 'https://maps.google.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=%s&sen... % (address)
-parse the coordinates
I used it to get oil refineries in the united states and it worked pretty well i can put it on github if you would like.
It probably can also be done between the front-end and back-end with a little bit of trickery (the calls to google on the front-end, POST'ed html processing on the back from the front-end), so that users ip is using the service and not the servers.
You get 100k free requests per month and then it's $15 per 100k.
Their APIs are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Summary:It's the love child of eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook.7,200 users since January 2013. Currently making around $550/m in AdSense revenue. Growth has stabilized. Roughly 20,000 pageviews a day from 3k visitors.
Stack: LAMP + CodeIgniter, Saas, Coffeescript and jQuery.
skype: gr33nw00d, email: email@example.com
I'm selling http://diglig.com. Diglig is a context aware task management application which consolidates all of users events from calendars, emails and social networks at one centralized location and then it makes smart recommendations on how to complete their tasks.
Our efforts were recognized by one of the YCombinators competitor and we were offered $40k of seed money. However, due to circumstances at that time we were unable to take the offer. Since then my partner moved out of state due to job change and I had a kid, so no more time to work on it.
Find a big problem (it just happens that dating is one) and fix it. Don't plan on getting in YC (or any other incubator) or being successful simply because you picked something off one of pg's lists. I'd say the most important qualities of an entrepreneur is to be in tune with these problems without getting any sort of external guidance. It's not a good thing when someone comes on HN and posts a post-mortem about their YC experience beginning by citing an RFS or one of pg's "idea" essays. Personally, I think that some RFSs from 2009 (http://ycombinator.com/rfs.html) are downright silly -- 5 and 3 in particular. Moral of the story: find something you're passionate about -- a problem, a niche, etc. -- and build something to fix it. If it happens to fit into one of the RFSs or pg's ideas, oh well, good for you I guess.
Everthing old is new again... and some ideas that seem old haven't actually been completed yet. Other ideas seem to fail, but only because they are "before their time".
With that in mind, I'd suggest going back and reading the writings of people like Doug Enbelbart, Ted Nelson and other computing pioneers (and not just computing pioneers, really, but any great thinkers. How about Nicola Tesla, for example?) and look for places where they proposed amazing things years or decades ago, that still don't exist, or don't exist as fully as they could. On that same basic note, go back in time and re-read some old issues of Infoworld, Computer World, Information Week, Business 2.0, Red Herring, Fast Company or Wired from the late 90's or early 2000's and mine for "before their time" ideas that might be ripe for a second shot.
Hanging around hackerspaces is also a great way to gain exposure to a constant stream of interesting ideas and approaches.
Full disclosure: Our demo and Altair BASIC was a way to develop native iPhone apps in the cloud, from a tablet or other device. We wanted to expand to Android apps, and eventually be a general cloud compile/debug/run service.
"What's the best way to make a web site if you're a real estate agent, or a restaurant, or a lawyer? There still don't seem to be canonical answers. "
There is a huge opportunity here not for a site builder so much as a way for those types of businesses (and other businesses) to keep their site current and fresh once it is built. None of the existing options work that well with this demographic. Either to juvenile or to many features and options and a learning curve. Fix that and the world will beat a path to your door.
Start small with this. Solve the issue of how I know what the specials are from the local sushi takeout restaurant that I visit a several times per month. Then move to other restaurants. Make it dead simple for the busy owner to get me that info. Even if it means simply shooting a picture of the special board and getting it to a single page site that you host in the cloud.
I'll make the bold claim that we haven't yet seen this "morph" in media. The blog concept is now staid yet Buzzfeed is the most innovative publisher we have. And they are just re-branding the advertorial as "native advertising."
The only changes I've seen lately are larger and more diverse media to accompany text. Not a substantially new product as far as I can tell.
Does the email replacement sound like a support ticket system to anyone else?
Not even keywords on domains or URLs matter as much anymore after Google's Panda. Agencies are snake oil vendors and a great way to waste time and money.
I started out reading highrankings.com - they are a whitehat seo proponent. Just been following white hat all along and Google has rewarded me throughout.