hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    20 Oct 2013 Ask
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Ask HN: Please review my MVP: talk2customers.com
3 points by valueprop  46 minutes ago   1 comment top
valueprop 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Homebrew for Linux?
10 points by jalan  4 hours ago   21 comments top 10
cobookman 3 hours ago 2 replies      
The linux package managers are significantly better than homebrew/macports. If you're using Debian or a distro based off of Debian (Ubuntu, CrunchBang, ...etc) then you can use apt-get or aptitude.

If you're using redhat or a distro based off of redhat (Centos, ClearOS, Fedora) then you use the yum package manager.

Finally you have arch linux which uses pacman and yaourt (for non-official packages).

leoh 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The best feature of homebrew, in my opinion, is that it doesn't require sudo for installation of any package -- in fact, it complains if you try to install something with sudo. Contrast that, say, with npm -g. Most npm -g installs will fail without su, unless you are willing to spend a half hour reconfiguring where dependencies install--pretty fucked in my opinion, as you could potentially install something really nasty.

Now, many package managers like apt-get use curated databases for their packages. But in my view, this just is not enough. Homebrew's respect of the user's system is just superior.

grumps 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Why wouldn't you use the package manager that your distro comes with?
Gnewt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
More power to them, but I'm not sure why they're doing this. Pretty much every package manager included in current distributions is more useful than Homebrew. Homebrew only exists to patch a package manager into a system that isn't built with one.
clizzin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually, package managers are core to most Linux distributions! That's been the case long before there was ever Homebrew for OS X. You should almost never have to manually install from source if you're installing anything relatively well-known.

If you're using Debian or Ubuntu, you should use the APT package manager. A good tutorial can be found here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AptGet/Howto

If you're Fedora or Red Hat, you should use yum, which a tool for the RPM package manager. Here is a list of basic yum commands: http://yum.baseurl.org/wiki/YumCommands

You can find more explanations/tutorials if you search using queries like "apt tutorial ubuntu" or "yum tutorial red hat." Hope you get acquainted quickly!

This might raise the question: Why make Homebrew work on Linux if other package managers exist already and work really well? I can think of a couple reasons: 1) fun experimentation, and 2) the fact that Homebrew formulas are Ruby code, which many people find more approachable to write than APT or RPM packages. My opinion is that it would be fun to see Homebrew on Linux, but it's not necessary given that existing package managers work very well, and many developers are willing to do the work of packaging for the rest of us.

aktau 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Though I agree that in most cases package managers fulfill this need perfectly well, there are cases in which homebrew does provide something unique. Which is the reason that I contributed a tiny bit to linuxbrew (reporting bugs and suggesting fixes).

1) You need the newest version (ffmpeg for example is something that is often out of date on linux distros, or what about the latest and greatest gcc or llvm, or...)2) Your distro doesn't have it as a package. Case in point, debian (wheezy) doesn't have ag (the silver searcher). After getting some issues fixed on linuxbrew, I was able to do "brew install ag" on my debian an there it was, a fresh silver surfer.

So I don't agree with most posters claiming or implying that homebrew for linux is useless. The closest (and arguably better) you can get is either Archlinux or Gentoo (of which I prefer Arch, which I used for a long time), but if you don't have free choice of distro, linuxbrew gets you quite far.

laveur 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I personally don't see this useful at all for Linux... however I see this replacing ports on most BSD based systems. Its definitely more modern and easier to maintain. I use homebrew for my Mac's but for all my linux systems I use apt/yum depending on the system. I see no reason to use anything else on them.
susi22 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need the most packages and the quickest then you should use ARCH linux. Otherwise use your package manager (like others have pointed out)
agj 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not clear if you are asking about Homebrew or Macports. If you're asking for a Linux wrapper around Macports, I think you've found it. If you're asking for a cross-platform build system, NetBSD's pkgsrc (http://pkgsrc.org) supports Linux -- though there is no pkgsrc Homebrew equivalent that I know of.
rpedela 3 hours ago 1 reply      
On Ubuntu or Debian? Use apt-get.On RedHat or CentOS? Use yum.

Homebrew replicates the behaviour of Linux package managers for Mac.

Ask HN: In Apple parlance, why is the motherboard called the logic board?
2 points by kunai  1 hour ago   3 comments top 3
marssaxman 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
On the original Macintosh, there were two circuit boards: the "analog board" contained the power supply and CRT driver, while the "logic board" held the microprocessor and all the digital logic.

At the time, "motherboard" was a more general term, describing any arrangement where "daughterboards" plugged into sockets on a "motherboard".

blakdawg 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
Older Macs with built-in monitors had two main circuit boards - a video board and a "logic" board with the CPU, RAM, etc.
daenney 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Because Apple is our mother. She is so much she can hardly be encompassed in something simple as a board with a bunch of chips. But all the logic, the brainpower of her children, is located on such a board. Therefor it's only logical this be called a logic board.
Ask HN: Would it be illegal to make a Pirate-Bay-based application?
6 points by jawerty  4 hours ago   3 comments top 2
garethsprice 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's technically not illegal to link to a site that links to copyrighted material, but there's still the potential for legal challenges to come up - especially if whatever you build is successful.

The RIAA/MPAA etc can ruin your life with an expensive, years-long lawsuit whether you are found guilty in the end or not.

If you really want to make it, make it for fun and release it anonymously.

Historical context:

Napster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napster#Lawsuit

Legal discussion: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c71fa5d9-8380-...

(I am not a lawyer! Get legal advice if you are worried!)

w4 3 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're seriously concerned with the legality (side note: legality in what jurisdiction?) of implementing something like that you should spend a couple hundred bucks and chat with an attorney.

Unhelpful, I know, but it seems like you have legitimate cause for concern, especially if you're located in the US, and HN isn't a source for legal advice regardless of the quality of commenters on the site. This is doubly true since the complexity of your question is likely far greater than you might anticipate, as is often the case with legal concerns, and likely not easily addressed here.

So basically, if you're seriously concerned about legality: consult with an attorney. If you can't, or don't want to, spend the money to do so: don't write the library, or at a minimum don't publically distribute it. And if course, none if this is to be construed as legal advise, yada-yada, etc.

How to destroy someone who hosts stuff at Hetzner dedicated server
130 points by turshija  1 day ago   78 comments top 18
MehdiEG 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It's worth putting this in context. Hetzner provides really beefy dedicated servers for ridiculously low prices [1].

You get great support (always had phone calls answered pretty much instantly and emails answered within a few minutes and all the techs I've dealt with knew what they were doing).

You can issue automated hardware resets and even get a remotely-controlled KVM attached to tweak the BIOS or regain access to your machine if you messed up the networking config (usually only takes a few minutes to get the KVM attached).

Orders for new hardware are also really fast - dealt with within the hour and often in under 15 minutes.

But there's no such thing as a free lunch. If you host at Hetnzer, you have to be aware of the reasons why they're so cheap, namely:

1) The servers are 100% unmanaged. They'll install new hardware for you if you ask them but everything else is up to you.

2) A lot of their hardware is desktop-grade, e.g. Intel Core i7 CPUs and non-ECC RAM. They do have some server-grade hardware in their high-end range however.

3) Their servers are in Germany. So you get quite a bit of latency if accessed from Asia or the West Coast of the US (see [2]).

4) They don't have any DDoS protection. In case of a DDoS, your server will get null-routed (but they tell you first). Again: 100% unmanaged. Up to you to deal with it. I've been lucky enough to not have to deal with a DDoS but my first port of call would probably be CloudFlare it it happened.

Provided that you're happy to do some sys admin, Hetzner is brilliant for a personal server, a CI server or even a prod server for a bootstrapped startup.

For literally next to nothing, you get a really powerful machine that will easily handle big traffic spikes without a breaking a sweat. And dedicated machine means that you get excellent and consistent CPU performance and disk I/O. If and when your startup takes off and you get funding, you can then choose between hiring a sys admin or moving to a more expensive host that offers a more managed setup.

[1] http://www.hetzner.de/en/hosting/produktmatrix/rootserver-pr...

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3898714

metabrew 23 hours ago 6 replies      
IRCCloud had to move off hetzner for this reason. We were continually getting ddos'ed, and hetzner showed no interest in working with us to try and mitigate.

At one point they just suggested we "ask the responsible parties to stop", and closed the ticket.

Now we are on Black Lotus. Expensive, but the regular 50mb-10gbit ddos attacks are mitigated just fine.

spindritf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yup, pretty much. Those attacks have become a real problem because they can be ordered so cheaply and easily that even kids use them in Minecraft feuds. The channel takeovers of the 21st century.

OVH's much more tolerant in that regard (ie. they keep your server online if battered) and all their servers now include a mandatory anti-ddos protection[1]. Unfortunately, they're fighting turn-over and don't accept new orders.

[1] http://forum.ovh.co.uk/showthread.php?t=6661

bolder88 23 hours ago 2 replies      
FWIW, This is fairly standard.

Linode for example will null-route your linode for 24 hours if it's attacked.

It's quite irritating that hosting companies seem to see null-routing as a solution to a DDoS attack.

oellegaard 23 hours ago 2 replies      
So I manage quite a few servers at Hetzner and we were DDOS'ed quite a few times. First, they warn you and if you don't get back to them in 12-24 hours, then they will shut down your server.

Sounds like you were unfortunate, but this is not generally what they do.

patrickg_zill 23 hours ago 5 replies      
If they can detect the DDOS, they should be able to mitigate it, right?

(EDIT: of course Hetzner could choose to mitigate the DDOS by any number of methods - but they choose not to, because they have made a conscious decision based on cost.)

Duckeh 21 hours ago 1 reply      
A lot of the people commenting don't seem to understand how hard it is to fend off such DDoS attacks. You either need some serious infrastructure (cloudflare style) or you need to buy equipment to mitigate attacks (like radware devices) or route it via a DDoS mitigation service (prolexic style). The one thing all these solutions have in common is that they are insanely expensive. People can buy a 1 gigabit DDoS for only a few bucks, whereas mitigating a 1 gigabit DDoS will cost you either $20K+ dollars for a mitigation device or some stupid amount of money to have a service like prolexic mitigate it for you.Services like cloudflare are a whole load cheaper but only provide basic reverse proxy protection and still leave your server vulnerable for attacks directed at it's IP instead of DNS name.

I can't say I've ever heard of Hetzner, but from the comments I'm reading they apparently offer servers for cheap. Bearing in mind how much money DDoS mitigation costs I don't see how they could handle this any other way without having to make some pretty serious investments (which in turn would make their hosting less cheap as the money has to come from somewhere, right?)

level09 23 hours ago 1 reply      
That sucks. I have moved many websites recently from EC2 to Hetzner. what they offer is really impressive and the difference is clear (probably 5x more resources/power for 25% of the Amazon price).

I guess I will still keep the server, but will have to work on a quick migration/failover plan in case I encounter something similar.

I have also started using cloudflare as my default DNS host, so that could also be a possible solution.

codexon 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a forum that sells DDoS attacks. Attacks are much cheaper than protection.


csense 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How can DDoS mitigation devices distinguish between legit and malicious traffic? I'm not a networking expert, but it seems to me that if you're a website hosting a big file like the latest Ubuntu release, a legitimate client will say:

    GET /ubuntu-13.10-server-amd64.iso
and cost you 500 MB of traffic (or however big the ISO file is).

A DDoS is nothing more than thousands or millions of machines saying:

    GET /ubuntu-13.10-server-amd64.iso
How do the solutions others are talking about in this thread (DDoS mitigation provider or specialized hardware) tell the difference between DDoS traffic and legitimate requests?

Qantourisc 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a simple solution and everybody is happy: re-enable it every hour, if DDoS continues, disable again.

Everybody is probably "happy" then: Customer-> their unusable DDoSed server is disconnected, but wasn't reachable anyway. But once the DDoS is over, it's back online.Provider -> they have their traffic routed to null. However, they will have to do some more work to get this working too. And not to mention happier customers.

andrew_wc_brown 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I had to do deal with DDOS attacks in the past and DDOSArrest worked like a charm to mitigate the problem.
ianhawes 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great tip. Does anyone know who Hetzner's largest customers are? Or at least major web services that host with Hetzner?
Demiurge 23 hours ago 2 replies      
well this is good timing, just moved to hetzner last month and server mysteriously went awol yesterday until a reset...
lb0 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, they detect the DDoS, but instead of blocking this they take off the servers?? Sounds ingenious..

Or are they unable to properly detect a DDoS and would also take off a server that hosts a web page mentioned on Hacker News?

How do other hosters handle this situation?

AznHisoka 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Does this apply to servers that do NOT host websites? I host databases in Hetzner that aren't hosted in the same server as the website(they're in another provider)
_s 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Use cloudflare or a similar service provider to mitigate such attacks?
linas 20 hours ago 1 reply      
We had the same problem at Hetzner, the server was attacked on Saturday. We moved out. Hetzner is very cheap and you get what you pay for.
Why we revert to original titles
412 points by pg  2 days ago   220 comments top 86
anon1385 2 days ago 8 replies      
>This would be clearer if we didn't let submitters enter a title-- if our software simply let people submit urls, and retrieved the title from the page. We don't do this because it's too inflexible. Some articles have titles that are too long. In others the subtitle makes a better title.

The problem is you've created a horrible half way house. There is a class of submissions that only make sense or attract interest with a custom title. These generally get reverted to some meaningless title which then prompts a lot of pointless discussion about the title change. If you don't have the man power to review custom titles, and don't trust the community to do it then disallow them other than in the case of manually editing down titles that are too long. It means missing out on a certain class of submissions, but those are mostly a mess these days anyway because they get filled with people talking about the automatic title change and people confused about why the link was submitted and upvoted.

SeoxyS 2 days ago 6 replies      
I think the biggest problem in reverting to original titles is that oftentimes, the original title is not bad, but it only makes sense in the context of the original blog in which it appears. In a social aggregator, it suddenly doesn't make sense anymore.

Consider this title:

    A New Beginning
In the context of the PHP blog, it might indicate a change of direction of the project, a change of leadership, etc. It's a decently sensible title. On a social aggregator like HN, it is much less useful, even if printed next to a small (php.net).

We'd be better off if we let the submitted change it to:

    PHP project changes direction, elects new leader

bambax 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Titles are common property. The person who happens to submit something first shouldn't thereby get the right to choose the title for everyone else.

This is a strange statement.

To me, a submitter is an editor, not a robot stumbling on an interesting article by pure chance. As an editor, the submitter makes a decision about when to submit a link (the time of day matter a lot), and, yes, about how to present the link.

Every day there are posts that make it to the front page, thanks to an interesting spin in the title, and when suddenly the title gets reverted to the plain original version we wonder what this is doing on the front page.

It's also strange to state that what users complain about in an ongoing fashion, is "not that big a deal".

Anyway, there would be a simple solution to this: when the title is changed by moderators, save the submitter's title, and show both versions (one under the other, one smaller than the other).

I wrote a little script that does just that (it saves every new submission, and then when called on the page, checks if the title changed and if yes, adds the original title as a subtitle); it worked fine until HN switched to https.

I'll re-release it as a browser extension soon if anyone's interested.

anigbrowl 2 days ago 2 replies      
We do sometimes change titles from the original when the original title is egregious linkbait

Indeed, but the guidelines (as they currently stand) do ask people to edit both linkbait and titles with gratuitous information (like 10 amazing ways to get your blog post featured on Hacker News). Granted, people will sometimes editorialize (injecting their opinion into titles) or put outright incorrect information in titles, but we already have a good flagging mechanism to deal with this, not to mention people's ability to comment on title abuse.

The problem is that a lot of worthy articles are given shitty titles by publishers - the title of an article is very often not what an author intended, but what an editor decided would draw more eyeballs. This is particularly a problem for science articles, where the article deals with some interesting but typically slightly obscure discovery, but the title is pure linkbait. For example, some weeks back I submitted a post about the rather surprising discovery of polypropolene on one of Saturn's moons by a NASA probe; the title on the article was 'common household plastic found in space' which makes it sound like someone had accidentally dumped a bunch of spoons out of the ISS (and which led to the top comment being a moan about the crappy title, calling me out for not changing it - in fact I had, but the mods had reverted it). The web is awash in linkbaity titles, and they tend to be either misleading or to obscure the aspect of the news that's 'of interest to hackers.'

I think the policy should be to trust members. If some HN users persistently editorialize or supply misleading titles, then they'll be flagged and lose credibility or get banned, dependent on how deliberate and egregious their title abuse. Members who submit informative titles will correspondingly be promoted. The karma/user identity system functions perfectly adequately in this respect. I agree that moderators ought to focus on moderating discussion (and reducing the prevalence of mean or stupid comments); reverting titles seems like a pointless distraction from that task.

ddlatham 2 days ago 0 replies      
The person who happens to submit something first shouldn't thereby get the right to choose the title for everyone else.

To throw another idea in to the mix of interesting ones proposed here already:

When someone submits the same URL with a different title than a previous submission, allow them to see the set of submitted titles for that submission and upvote the best title. The highest voted title (with some smoothing logic to avoid back-and-forth flips) is the visible one.

This way submitters can use better titles than the original, but instead of the first submitter determining the title it is decided by the group of submitters. It would also decrease the work for the moderators.

j_baker 2 days ago 2 replies      
You know, it seems like the solution here is to be able to distinguish the original title and the submitter's commentary about the title. To borrow from another comment in this post, something like:

    A new beginning
...could become:

    A new beginning (PHP elects new leader)
It's tempting to say "Titles shouldn't include commentary", but I think that there are valid times where the submitter should submit commentary. Otherwise, we just end up rewarding people for duplicating the same content with a more linkbaity title. You can imagine a techcrunch article that just quotes the original, but has the title "PHP Implodes as Leader Steps Down".

comex 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing is that even if the original title is what "the author intended" on a blog where (a) it will usually be accompanied by some or all of the text and (b) context about who the author is is evident from the rest of the site, in my opinion many of them are essentially meaningless out of context - anecdotally, especially for more personal posts where a descriptive title or anything that seems like SEO might seem too formal. When posts are modified to these titles on the HN front page, readers are left to click either due to domain recognition (which isn't always there) or mere curiosity, without a clue what they'll find at the link. This is unfair, since the post may be highly interesting yet has to compete with many other posts with better titles. Not that big a deal, but when you're actively going out reverting titles of popular posts, IMHO, it would be better to add some basic context if easily available.
clarkmoody 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the most helpful title additions is the (YEAR), for older articles. This gives nice context for the reader, before clicking the article.
bowlofpetunias 1 day ago 0 replies      
Missing the point IMHO. Changing the title isn't the problem. Lack of transparency is. That's what causing the complaints and conspiracy theories.

Which BTW is also a form of being "mean" (especially when the same opaqueness is applied to harsher forms of moderation), so if the increase of mean comments is a high priority, you may want to consider setting the tone.

Anonymous moderation without transparency feels an awful lot like bullying.

HN has grown to a point where most users have no clue who "pg" is, and what his motives are for running this forum. You're the wizard behind the curtain. I don't think you're gonna solve the issues of a growing community by keeping it that way.

smegel 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Titles on HN are not self-expression the way comments are. Titles are common property. The person who happens to submit something first shouldn't thereby get the right to choose the title for everyone else.

Your assuming that the original "title" is relevant to the point of the submission. Or that there even exists a "title" in a meaningful way. People might be making a submission reflection some content in an article that does not relate to the title, or where the title would be misleading or irrelevant.

A title might not be "comment", but it is part of the submission - why shouldn't the OP have the right to set the context of discussion? It's not like it prevents others from raising different point in the comments.

> The only option is to revert to the original title, which is at least what the author intended.

The original author didn't intend for their article to be shared and discussed on HN. And why their "intent" is terribly important in the first place escapes me somewhat.

> the increasing prevalence of mean and stupid comments has a much higher priority than the fact that authors' original titles are not maximally informative.

Yet you obviously do care enough to apply this policy in a forceful and unwarranted way. Why not just leave it then, and provide a "report editorialization" button so poorly worded or sensationalized titles can be brought to the mods attention, just like bad comments.

You think you are improving HN with this policy but your not, or just don't care about the holistic value of a submission, including it's title, to the culture of HN. Which is rather sad.

gojomo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Easiest solution (more eyes, no new development):

Give more people title-edit privs, but set an expected-behavior standard that to edit, you are expected to (a) read the article; and (b) emphasize informativeness over either editorial-spin or originalism. Right now the "defaulting to original is always OK" rule is encouraging attentional abuse (by both mods and readers).

Far-out solution (some development/assessment needed):

Allow alternate titles to coexist; have a separate voting tournament between them.

I understand PG's priorities, but the Scylla and Charybdis of bad-submitted-titles and bad-original-titles is wasting a lot of readers' time, and biasing followup discussions in a more ignorant and acrimonious direction. (Bad titles feed into PG's 'much higher priority' as well: they are the 'broken windows' indicating that no one is watching the store. If no one has time to help get titles right, who's going to curate the much more numerous and twisty threads?)

Great titles are an art and a gift to readers. Improving titles is a major opportunity for the social news web. Empires like Drudge and HuffPo have been built on pulling out buried ledes from elsewhere, sometimes abusively but very often to the reader's benefit. HN should be open to innovation here.

(BTW, the twitter account @HuffPoSpoilers is a thing of beauty in this space, much larger than just a joke. It takes the HuffPo interest-piquing titling the one necessary step further, removing the tease and delivering the payoff all at once. It Is The Future.)

lmm 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The only way we can tell if a newly created title is accurate is to read the article, and we're not about to read every article submitted to HN. The only option is to revert to the original title, which is at least what the author intended.

So do it automatically then. It's ridiculous to say "we can't do this automatically because that would be too inflexible... so we'll get human moderators to blindly follow a process without thinking instead".

What happens now is that users put a lot of thought into a good title for the page they're submitting, and then a mod comes along and just trashes it. It should not be surprising that this upsets people.

molecule 2 days ago 1 reply      
It would be appreciated if the moderators would make an attempt to not obscure information when choosing to modify titles, e.g.:

> The new title, "Leaving Twitter", is much less descriptive than the previous one, "Nathan Marz is leaving Twitter". Could someone please change it back?


lifeformed 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why not just mention that on the submit page? I had no idea this was a rule. The submit page doesn't say anything about using the original title.
eevilspock 2 days ago 2 replies      
Many comments herein make good cases for changed titles. Titles are extremely important as they are the content of the front page, and along with rank are how we users decide what to read.

Here's a solution:

  1. Allow submitter to optionally change the title.  2. Use the changed title, but on the comments page display     the original title near it.   3. Display up/down-vote buttons next to both titles.  4. Dynamically swap titles based on (Karma-weight?) votes.
In other words, let the community drive the moderation as it already does for other things. It's imperfect as there is still a first submitter advantage, but it will work at least 80% of the time for 20% of the complexity.

lisper 2 days ago 2 replies      
You could make everyone happy by adding a comment field to the submission form so that the submitter could add their own sub-title.
Fuzzwah 2 days ago 2 replies      
Thank you for clearing this up.

Has it been considered having a subtitle showing [previously titled: xxx] or some such when a title is edited?

Or possibly relying on a flagging feature along the lines of "misleading or editorialized title"? Rather than just changing all/most titles?

cbhl 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe we could change the social norm on HN, rather than seek a technical solution.

Users who think that the original title is a poor fit for Hacker News can create a post on (say) their own blog with the desired title, a brief summary, and a link to the original article and context -- similar to "reblogging" on Tumblr and such sites. Then, they submit their "reblog" page to Hacker News.

If the new title is indeed more useful than the original title, the "reblogged" post should get more clicks, upvotes, and comments than the original submission, and because the "author's original title" on the reblogged post is the editorialized title, reverting to the "original title" does the right thing (in the eyes of the submitter). And if it isn't a helpful title, the link just falls off of newest like every other link that get submitted.


bambax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why changing titles ("reverting") is annoying: it doesn't matter if titles are reverted for new posts, but it matters for posts we have already seen/read/commented on, because it changes the name of things.

The problem is not moral or editorial; it's like when your kid misplaces your touthbrush in the bathroom or your cleaning lady rearranges your desk. It's a cognitive strain. A little thing, yes, but upsetting.

So the rule should be that titles can't be "reverted" after a certain number of points or after they've reached the front page (and yet it's the opposite that happens; reversion seems to address the most popular things first).

YuriNiyazov 2 days ago 1 reply      
This might've been covered elsewhere, but - with regards to increasing meanness and stupidity on the site: have you considered just adding a line of text under the comment field that says something like "reminder: don't say things that you wouldn't say to a person's face in real life"?
mcherm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think that this is the best policy for creating useful and clear titles on the Hacker News site.

But I REALLY appreciate your making this post to explain the policy and the reasons behind it. I can go along with this even if I don't think it's the best policy, and now I can understand the reasoning behind it. The openness of explaining the policy and the reasons for it are a big improvement. Thank you.

tzs 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The only way we can tell if a newly created title is accurate is to read the article, and we're not about to read every article submitted to HN. The only option is to revert to the original title, which is at least what the author intended.

To revert to the original title, you have to at least read the original title, don't you? Sometimes it is evident just from the original title itself, without looking at the content of the article, that the submitter's title was better. For example, when John Graham-Cumming shut down his blog, the submitter took the title of jgc's blog entry, which was something generic like "Shutting down my blog", and simply added who it was, so it because something lie "John Graham-Cumming: Shutting down my blog".

It would be nice if the mods could at least let that kind of submitted title survive.

trendspotter 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem with your logic is that not every URL has a meaningful title.

There are a lot of times websites that are not optimized and use titles that sometimes are as self-explanatory as "home".I have discovered news websites that don't have a title for each of their articles, even larger sites like pehub.com didn't have titles until they fixed it only some weeks ago.

So this is going to be more horrible than editorialized headlines.

After thinking about it, here is a easy solution:

In addition to discussions, allow titles to be flagged by the community. Example below:

  submission X by kdzsb 22 minutes ago | flag title | flag discussion | 9 comments
Moderators would simply edit the few flagged bad titles. Rather than having them to watch all titles (old rules) or no titles at all (new rules).

chavesn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Speaking of which, can we talk about some great ideas I have for a new place to store our bicycles?
T-hawk 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's also the question of, what actually counts as the title of a web page?

There's at least three options: the HTML <title>, the URL, and some line of large text within the page. And of course there could be many headings or subheadings within the page. Some of the discussions about changing titles arise when the submitter chooses one of those and a moderator changes it to another.

Is it worth looking into improving conflict resolution here? Should moderators know to look at the HTML title and keep it if it's better than an in-page title?

huhtenberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
As many before me have suggested - please preserve original titles and have a profile option to choose between them and moderated versions. Unless I am missing something obvious this is dead simple to do and it will resolve this issue once and for all.
mattmaroon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Totally agree. Most people here are smart, we don't need submitters editorializing, which is usually what title changes are.
DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
> the increasing prevalence of mean and stupid comments has a much higher priority than the fact that authors' original titles are not maximally informative.

Give a small number of trusted users a "mega downvote" - it takes a comment to -2 with a single click.

(Just for clarity: I don't want this button. I'd be a terrible person to give it to.)

bentcorner 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't complain about changing titles, but now that we're here: I don't mind them all too much, except when the submission comments are tied to the title some way (e.g., a submission's title reflects a commentary on a small part of a larger article). If the submission title were to change to match the article's title, the context of the comments are lost.

Maybe keep the submission title as a title attribute on the href? I have no idea what that does to SEO (or if anyone cares).

Amadou 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a real basic UX suggestion - put the rule about using the original title right there above the title: field on the submission page.

That way at least no one is surprised that their brilliantly composed title was changed and won't feel like it is a personal affront because they forgot about a non-obvious rule that they probably only run into a couple of times a year, if that.

ollysb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can thin of whole host of reasons that a different title makes sense. Maybe the article's relevant to an ongoing debate on HN, perhaps only a particular detail in the article makes it relevant to HN, see comments for others. I can't remember seeing a single occasion where reverting the title has been an improvement. HN is a pretty smart crowd, the evidence is that they're pretty constrained with titles but change them where it makes sense, can't we just be trusted to get on with it?
rajivtiru 2 days ago 1 reply      
I know HuffPo A/B tests their titles to see which one gets better metrics and changes/sensationalizes their titles that way.

I do realize we don't see many articles from HuffPo on here, just putting this info out there. http://www.niemanlab.org/2009/10/how-the-huffington-post-use...

smackfu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, this post is a good example of a title that makes sense on this site, but becomes ambiguous when taken out of context. Who is the "we" if you don't know the post is by pg?
doki_pen 1 day ago 0 replies      
My biggest pet peeve with HN 2013 vs. HN <2012 is the article titles. There used to be a strong culture of never editorializing and always letting people know what they are clicking. Lately I have no idea what the article is about by it's title. Many are even link baity. It makes it much harder to skim through the list of titles for something I may find interesting.
marvin 1 day ago 1 reply      
This thread is full of comments debating the merits of editorializing titles. I think a lot more would be gained by spending that same energy debating solutions to the more pressing issue also highlighted by pg: Methods to reduce the number of mean, dismissive, stupid or downright incorrect comments.

Maybe not quite as sexy, but much more constructive towards the goal of having a good online community.

malandrew 2 days ago 0 replies      
Any particular policy on titles where Betteridge's Law applies? I asked about this yesterday because almost all such posts become flame wars that are exemplar of the commentary we don't want on HN. When the title drops the level of discourse it should be addressed.


benologist 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a genuine shame to destroy submissions that don't include vital context in their titles because they weren't written for external sites, and to make it impossible to submit and discuss why something is interesting or highlight part of an article rather than whatever the title spotlights.

Text submissions with a link in the comments might be a nice solution for people who don't want to contribute to what is essentially a manual RSS reader.

wbond 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that would make this issue so much less annoying is if a guid was added to each item in the RSS. That way users wouldn't see the same article multiple times as the title keeps getting edited.
mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would seem like the issue here is the trade-off between having full time admins, versus a simpler and less perfect title system. It's ok to argue for "Let's go for perfect" but if you're not paying for the admins, it's tough to make that claim.

I'm ok with the current system. HN is a free service without ads. I'll take "Good but not Perfect" titles as the price.

shill 1 day ago 0 replies      
An easy solution to the title problem is to display the original title (if changed) in small text under the new title on the comment page.
nmcfarl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another option involving scraping, but allowing some human intervention, would be to have a default title - and have a new, and optional "edit the title" page for submitters.

This would hopefully decrease the number of edited titles as they would be more effort to enter - and would let the mods revert them with the click of a button as they could compare titles without reading articles.

phaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Its really sad that you took the time to write this explanation, when a significant percentage of the folks who responded to it don't even seem to have read it.

They just went right back to arguing their positions in a manner that doesn't even begin to respond to the points that you made.

Sure, some of them clearly did read it, but I think they are outnumbered by the people who either didn't read it or didn't understand.

It would be great if they took your advice and refocused their efforts on coming up with a solution to this:

>the increasing prevalence of mean and stupid comments

It would be a tough problem to solve, but it would make HN a much stronger community, and a much better place to hang out.

danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
I agree that this policy is sensible from a process standpoint. However, it does end up penalizing the writers who are bad at SEO, or just don't care...and at the same time, it rewards the sites that do cynically partake in link bait titles, all the while being little more than blogspam.

I think my problem is that when a headline is clearly too vague and someone adds a non adjectivey headline, the mods go out of their way to revert it, doing a disservice to everyone. If monitoring titles is a burden, then it seems like it'd be less work in these cases to leave the clarified titles...the community is usually good about flagging it.

Also, do HN mods revert to headline or the title tag? That is, can submitters choose from either (this is significant for most New Yorker articles, which have very short heds by properly descriptive title tags)

smtddr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This makes plenty of sense.

Either stick with this strategy or do what Digg.com is doing these days; a main title and the little subtext thing that they almost always use for a one-liner joke, but sometimes for serious commentary/secondary-title.

nonchalance 2 days ago 2 replies      
> we're not about to read every article submitted to HN.

How many articles reach the front page per day? I'd imagine it is a small percentage of the total

farmdawgnation 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think there would be fewer complaints about this practice if the submit page explained this intent.
cs02rm0 1 day ago 0 replies      
> This would be clearer if we didn't let submitters enter a title-- if our software simply let people submit urls, and retrieved the title from the page. We don't do this because it's too inflexible.

The hard and fast rule software would use is too inflexible, ok, I'm with you.

> The only way we can tell if a newly created title is accurate is to read the article, and we're not about to read every article submitted to HN. The only option is to revert to the original title, which is at least what the author intended.

But the hard and fast rule of a moderator that won't read an article is all good. Hmmn.

pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 0 replies      
>It's true that when submitters change titles, their new titles often contain more information than the article's original title. But a significant percentage of the extra information added in this way is false. The only way we can tell if a newly created title is accurate is to read the article, and we're not about to read every article submitted to HN. The only option is to revert to the original title, which is at least what the author intended. //

This doesn't make sense.

If the extra info added to the title is false, how did the moderator know without reading the article? If they didn't read the article what basis do they have to revert the title? If they did read the article then we shouldn't be getting issues like the "leaving twitter" reversion unless it's a mistake in a moderation interface or something.

Seems like a crazy way to do moderation - gather user submitted title, assume those titles are wrong and revert them, then return to the title and re-instate when there's objections.

There's sub-optimal and then there's eating soup with a fork.

sparktherapy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many of the titles that I wish were re-phrased were titles from mainstream news outlets. Good original content tends to be headed with good titles.
jfoster 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that people devote time to complaints and conspiracy theories about this. I've noticed that technically inclined people tend to get sucked into things and devote disproportionate amounts of time into them. Disproportionate to their life priorities and the return they see on that investment of time. I used to do it as well. I think I overcame it by just being more conscious about how I was using my time, and whether the thing I was spending time on was important enough.

For example, if HN have spelled out that they're not changing this and they are to be believed, then the ROI of protesting it is approximately 0.

kefs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Change titles all you want, but remove the user attribution at that point. Do not attribute words to people who have no say in modifying/deleting those words. This is stupid simple.
fluxon 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad this was posted; transparency is good, even if it's transparency onto a policy dictating an imperfect solution to an insolvable problem. If I had my way, every title would still link to the original article, but it would also have a CSS context menu (rightclick to see) showing the full original title AND a permalink to this post or its equivalent in the FAQ.
smackfu 2 days ago 0 replies      
> But we don't. Moderating HN is no one's full time job.

I've always wondered who is changing the titles. Is there a bot? Or is someone really checking every single post to make sure the title is accurate? That just seems like classic busywork.

josephlord 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could software and voting solve the problem rather than moderators?

Initial title as set by first submitter. If there are multiple submissions an "Other titles" link appears on the comments page otherwise there should be a "Suggest title" link. On the suggest/other titles page it should be possible to suggest titles, vote on them and possibly even discuss them. The highest voted title (possibly needing n more votes than the current one) would appear as the main title.

This would keep the title the property of the community and allow it to reflect the views of those who have read the article rather than requiring moderator time.

ahoge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just add a note [1] right below the title field.

There is very little stuff on that submit page. If there are 1-2 sentences, people will read them.

[1] E.g.: "The title must be the bare title of the linked article. Do not editorialize the title unless it's too long or lacking context."

bluecalm 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about allowing up/down voted on titles (turning downvote rights on for everybody). If the title collects too many downvotes in relation to upvotes then the submitter collects negative karma and the moderators are notified about bad title. That would be less work for moderators and pointless changes would be reduced as well.
DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps one of the many plug in authors just needs to create the HN Enhancement Suite, and include "Suggested title" or "extra information" tool tips for HN titles.

(As well as an 80 char guide for the title submission box).

jack-r-abbit 2 days ago 0 replies      
You missed an opportunity to push people to the Bookmarklet: http://ycombinator.com/bookmarklet.html Perhaps this would help the issue. Not sure.
saraid216 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. A draconian policy of deliberate misinformation justified by a lack of resources and disinterest in consideration. That just tanked all the respect I had for you, pg.
jules 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let other people suggest alternative titles and let the community vote on the best title! Less work for you and you get good titles and the first person to submit the story doesn't have special privilege.
TrainedMonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I view HM news page my screen is 90% empty space. Why not add an option to display both original title and author title? This way everyone could set their preference (Original only/Custom only/Both - with additional option of which one to display first).

When a person pastes URL into box, how hard can it be to follow that URL and parse original title? This way people won't even have to input more fields.

gabriel34 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps giving the person who posted the link a privileged comment of sorts would help lessen the dissatisfaction with such changes.When people send a link to HN they also want to express their opinion on the matter and believe they have a right to a privileged attention because they were the ones who thought the article meant enough to post here.On the other hand there is the fact that comments are also community-vetted. If OP has a nice, insightful point of view his comments would be upvoted, and he would have the advantage of being the first commenter.I changed my mind midway through writing this. Nonetheless I'll post it because I believe the discussion on what really bugs people about the title changes is in order.
Houshalter 16 hours ago 0 replies      
HN titles are absolutely awful. Many titles on the front page are vague and contain little if any information at all on what they link to. Many are vague or simply misleading. I'll take editorializing over no information content whatsoever any day.

And you can always de-editorialize it or make it a neutral statement wikipedia style, rather than changing it to random words that may or may not make sense in context of the article (which we haven't read yet.)

gcb0 1 day ago 0 replies      
As someone already called out, by email, about this... i think a more effective solution would be to, you know, SAY that on the submission screen.

if all you give me is a TITLE field which cancels the text field, i may feel inclined to replace one with another.

cam_l 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sure, on the other hand pg could give a little more trust to the community and crowd-source a fix. Institute, for example, a flag and a vote on articles which have had a name change. Just spitballing, but if they did not meet a certain vote number and a certain percentage within a certain timeframe, then by all means change it back!

Clearly, right or wrong, people give a shit about this, and telling them they shouldn't is obviously producing a lot more pointless meta-conversations than just fixing it. I am sure someone would even offer to give pg a hand to implement it if he asked nicely.

raldi 2 days ago 0 replies      
If automatic fetching of titles is good enough to do a few minutes after submission, why isn't it good enough to do at the moment of submission?
marze 1 day ago 0 replies      
Feedback: allow users to rate/upvote the title itself, and if it gets bad ratings, look to change it.

Also, users could get karma bonus for well up voted title.

tumes 2 days ago 0 replies      
I get the intention, and this is gonna sound kind of reductive and shitty, but there's no social contract on the internet. If you built it this way, you gotta put in the moderation/engineering work, tighten it down, or quit your bitching.
EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
It might be fun to introduce some crowdsourced summary or reputation based summary of a title. This way HNers can see if they want to read the whole thing.

Also would be cool to introduce tags and let people follow those tags.

mtdewcmu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another option would be to treat different titles as different entries, and let the better-titled links get voted to the top. But the current system seems to already work pretty well. If it means more effort is expended in moderation, I submit that that effort is probably not a waste. Better editing makes better reading.
wallunit 2 days ago 0 replies      
What would be if you would let different users post the same URL with different titles. And at some point merge all posts with the same URL together, using the title of the highest voted post. That way, everything that reaches the frontpage, will have a title approved by the community.
johnlbevan2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Have the system automatically populate the title, but allow it to be overridden. Make overriding this default painful (e.g. after submission you have to open the thread, click edit, enter the new title, and give a reason for the change - then 5 community members with over 1K kudos need to vote yes to approve this change). Most people will fall into line in not changing the titles, but you have the flexibility and take the pain in the rare cases when it's needed.
iterationx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not just have two titles, the original and the modified one below, if someone feels the need to modify it.
deanly 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to experiment with scraping the <title> tag of the linked webpage. This is what Quora does for links in questions, answers, and comments.

I love the way that HN shows the top domain of the linked site. Very elegant, and something that Quora (arguably) should implement.

nedwin 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post seems a lot more rational/fair when you read it in PG's voice.
meemoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why don't you just scrape the actual title, and force people to take a few steps to change it if they feel like it needs changing?
gall 2 days ago 1 reply      
The distinction between comments and link titles feels a little false because there's no obligation to link to the root of the primary source document chain, if there even is a canonical primary source for a given story. A submitter could legitimately wrap a link in a thin blog post on their own site and achieve the same effect.
yeukhon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I will continue to say the article "Hacking the Olympic" is not informative and misleading. It is by far the worst title I have ever seen on HN. That title does not convey the story, only to capture people's attention and read the actual story. This is an example moderation must take place. Such practice is almost like a crime.

I hate to be an opposition, but I am making a valid, legitimate criticism here and I think the mass here should think about that more often than just go ahead and say "good job and good luck!"

garrison 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The only option is to revert to the original title, which is at least what the author intended.

This is true when linking to blogs, but frequently in the media it is the editor of a publication, not the article's author, that chooses the title.

jasonlingx 1 day ago 0 replies      
> If we had infinite attention to spend on moderation, we could read every article and decide whether each user-created title was better than the original title. But we don't. Moderating HN is no one's full time job.

If there is no time to read, then don't moderate?

nmbdesign 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes sense, thanks.
X4 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're worried about title originality, why don't you write a scraper instead of asking for people to submit urls manually? Would be more efficient. But, If you care about real people posting stuff, then they should be allowed submit whatever they see appropriate. To mitigate the frustration, I think you could allow urls to be posted multiple times with a specific scientifically backed grace period of "n-hours" until no more duplicates are allowed. People can still up-vote the titles they like best and the winner takes all, making the other titles appear like collapsed sub-captions below the main-title. Hope you understand what I mean. This would solve two problems at once. A) Custom title's, no censorship. B) Valuable data about winning-titles, that can be used to train a stochastic model to predict the best titles. How you use the data from B) is up to you.

I mean people aren't stupid enough to change the Title of the "Higgs Boson" to "Bananas".Sorry, if this comes over wrong. I respect you and this is just critics on your software's policies.

johns 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is there a length limit?
otikik 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree 100% with this.
samstave 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not have a submission look like this:

[Submitters reader-enticing paraphrase title]

{Original title, in smaller text/diff font}

ffrryuu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Making a living selling software components, not SaaS?
105 points by bonf  1 day ago   42 comments top 19
davidjgraph 1 day ago 1 reply      
We have sold a JavaScript component as our sole source of revenue for about 4 years now, having started selling it 8 years ago.

We've played around in the SaaS market, in end-user apps that use the component, but we've never found anything that makes even remotely the amount we make from selling the component. A lot of people think SaaS is easier, I personally find it x10 harder.

We ended up gaining far more benefit from giving away the SaaS products as a means of marketing the component.

The thing with the component market is the revenue is far more an "amplification" of the economic environment. You're at the bottom of the food chain, you need new development projects to be started to be considered. Development projects are expensive. In late 2008, budgets were slashed, our component sales probably dropped 80%.

SaaS is much more stable revenue-wise. But on the flip-side, in 2007 when the going was good, sales just soared, it's not only downturns that you feel in the component market.

My advice would be

- focus on building a cash buffer as soon as possible, doing so was the only reason we're still here.

- aim for the Enterprise market, forget three figures a license sales. That level means the component is too simple, something open source will come along and kill you.

- The component market is better for margins and good salaries. The SaaS market generally scales better. Which you choose probably depends what you want to do with the business in the medium and long term.

6ren 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to. The problem was I aimed at a component that was useful as a fixed standard (not always changing, upgrading etc). So, you can guess how this story ends...

I accomplished this. But it was by definition a stationary target, and competitors (in this case, open source) largely caught up. But worse, I lost interest, because I was no longer "the only/best in the world" at it.

Success: I not only made enough to live on, I made enough to invest in index funds giving a return that was itself enough to live on, and "retire" (for small values of retire, i.e. a student-level lifestyle - "ramen retirement"). Business began in 2000, able to retire in 2004 or so IIRC. Have lived off the business/investments since then.

  lessons learned:
- Automating sales (credit card etc) is a pain to setup, but is helpful for both you and customers. But for my case, about 30% of buyers still needed some contact for the sale (I'm not counting technical help). Sometimes to negotiate on specific issues, sometimes they didn't fit the sales process, maybe sometimes they just wanted reassurance that someone was there.

- I tried to make it too much a business; if I'd stayed truer to my roots, it might have been OK. If you have an open-source version (or, at least, free), it starves off the competition, leaving them with no oxygen to get started, because no one needs it, they get no interest. And everyone's happy, which actually is very important for one's personal happiness too.

- I actually made a lot of money selling to the enterprise; but I hated it. Like, it really really got to me. In one particular sale, there was 5-6 months of negotiation, admin, international tax laws, etc. Ugh. And it all feels dishonest, pointless, and interacting with people who aren't competent because aren't interested and don't care. (the standard story of a developer dealing with business issues). So, you can do it this way, if you keep going up-market. The enterprise likes old stuff, that is trusted, field-tested, known etc.

- turns out I don't enjoy making a fixed standard. There's beauty in it as a business model; but for a technologist, the fun part is making it (and for me, supporting and debugging was also fun). But when it's all done, all working perfectly, it stops being fun. It's a funny old world.

- the underlying factor is that progress marches on. It's good for the world, and it's fun to participate. But not so good for a self-sustaining business with a competitive moat (Warren Buffett likes candy, chewing gum, soft-drink, bricks, furniture etc - stuff that doesn't change fast). You have to keep investing in it - developing new features, new products, new users (analogous to the capital investment required by the cotton mills of Berkshire Hathaway, making them a terrible investment). But this is all OK, if it's fun for you. And it can be.

reboog711 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do you want to hear about failures?

I tried; with Flextras ( http://www.flextras.com ). I wanted to build a set of UI Components which would extend Adobe's Flex Framework. For various reasons it was a failure; and I shut down the "commercial" portion of the company in January of this year.

At the time I launched the business; Flash was still viable and Adobe was pumping a lot of money into growing Flex--which was basically "Flash for programmers". Adobe was trying to grow the user base for Flex to a million developers and I wanted to get in early and ride the wave, so to speak. I thought there would be a market for high quality components that extended the Flex Framework and Adobe stated they wanted to focus on the tooling and infrastructure while leaving components to third parties. I thought I was in a good spot.

When I was preparing to launch Flextras, I was planning for a 70% drop in income [compared to consulting rates] and hoped it would grow from there. I ended up with a 90% drop in income; so that hurt a bit.

We launched with a single component, and the first year only had one sale, and all my energy was spent on building out our Calendar component. [which took a year and I threw everything out and restarted from scratch 3 times because I decided the API/implementation wouldn't provide enough flexibility].

I think it was in our second year released the Calendar component and an AutoComplete component. A "Spark" Version of our AutoComplete came out later to integrate w/ Flex's new component model. Then we released some mobile components. We were growing from our "first year" revenue and averaged about $10K per year before shutting down. The business was growing, but very slowly. Then Adobe had some bad PR mishaps and sales stopped overnight.

I could go on and on about problems and mistakes I made along the way.

I focused on the wrong things--I think I spent three months creating transitions on our Calendar component. Business users don't care about such things [although I got a lot of 'hey cool' during demos]. During this development time; the new version of Flex came out [a point release] which broke all of that work.

The model of selling individual components is inherently flawed. It does not present recurring revenue. I hoped to combat this by releasing a lot of products; unfortunately that didn't happen for a variety of reasons. Components took longer to build than I anticipated [especially the Calendar].

We should have had a package of some sort [one price gets everything we built]. We should have had a subscription [one yearly price gets everything we built; plus everything we will build]. My attempt to switch our business model was a colossal failure on many levels.

I covered quite a bit of the business failures in a presentation called "How to Fail Fantastically" at the 360|Stack conference ( http://vimeopro.com/360conferences/360stack-2013/video/72773... ).

pytrin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm one of the co-founders at Binpress (http://www.binpress.com), which is marketplace for commercial open-source projects. Unlike Codecanyon, which someone else mentioned in this thread, our focus is on professional development and components that are more than simple scripts. Cocoacontrols (https://www.cocoacontrols.com/) is another good example, with some of their commercial components doing very well.

We have several developers making SV comparable salaries from publishing on our platform (in the 100k$ range annually). I believe this can be a huge market - if you look at companies selling licenses to code or SDK binaries, there's quite a few who built very profitable businesses around it.

Very well known examples of companies selling code licenses include MySQL and Magento (through their enterprise versions), though they provide complete solutions and not components. Gravity Forms (http://www.gravityforms.com/) a wordpress plug-in, is another good example - it generated millions in revenue if you trust their installation counter.

6ren 1 day ago 0 replies      
People making money selling software components:http://www.componentsource.com/index.htmlhttp://bfo.com/purchasingfaq.jsphttp://www.chilkatsoft.com/purchase2.asp

Discussion (though might be dying): http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/?biz

Withholding Tax (if you are non-US, selling to US)"Components" are taxed at 5%; "desktop tools" (like compilers, editors, IDEs etc) are taxed at 0%. The tax is an admin hassle all round, so this is one plus for not selling components. (NB: this is an oversimplification, there's tax treaties, 30% tax if not under a treaty, byzantine IRS forms, tax rulings on the definition of "royalty" for components, etc).

ASIDE an idea: "Software Components as a Service". That is, it's in the cloud and paid for like a SaaS; but the service it provides is not an end-point (like an API to a business), but a transformation - the kind of thing you'd normally call a library for. e.g. text->pdf. Sounds inefficient, but you co-host with AWS/dropbox/heroku/GoogleApps etc so bandwidth is fast and free. (Alt: let the customer install a copy in the cloud, but you charge like a SaaS business model - an advantage for them is they can expense it monthly, not taxed like a capital purchase).

I've seen some evidence of this, in the form of cloud integration services e.g. http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/us/en/castiron-cloud... 2010), but it's still mostly about integrating end-points, not the bits in between.

loumf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I run product development for a toolkit company that exited to a public company in 2011.

Our .NET and Java toolkits sustain a 25 person division with healthy margins and decent growth.

The keys have been:

* make something valuable and charge enough for it so that you can offer great support. If you charge $500, you lose money if anyone calls you -- instead you should want people to call you -- so, charge enough money to make that worthwhile.

* have ways that make the engagement scale. Meaning, it's ok if an average deal is 5-10k, but if someone gets a lot of value, you should want that to scale up to 100k or more

* you can charge like a Saas for things that are not delivered like Saas, and some people prefer it. Meaning, we sell .NET assemblies (not a hosted service), but you can pay xx,000/year for it if you want unlimited deployment.

* You have two segments (broadly) -- companies that make software for themselves -- companies that sell software. They have different needs and get value in different ways -- think about segmentation to price appropriately.

You will be competing against free -- so you need to deliver value. Don't look for markets with no free alternatives. I compete against a ton of open-source very well. We're better and we have support.

WA 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do not make money from software components, but when I browse http://codecanyon.net, I find a few developers who seem to be doing relatively well. They basically sell more or less sophisticated scripts.

You could regard themes for WordPress as software components. Or theme frameworks such as Genesis (studiopress.com).

The really successful ones (such as Genesis) seem to bundle software components with something like subscriptions to future updates, a paid membership site, additional content like ebooks, live seminars, training, support etc. to get additional income streams and be able to upsell or cross-sell customers.

Game engines or mobile development frameworks (KendoUI, Sencha) that can be licensed also fall under selling software components. Again, the successful ones seem to offer additional resources or they sell their components in a one-year-license model, where customers have to renew the license every year. That would be more or less the same as SaaS in terms of recurring revenue and keeping customers in the loop.

rachelandrew 1 day ago 1 reply      
We sell a downloadable, self hosted CMS (http://grabaperch.com). We launched it as a side product of our consultancy business just over four years ago and by the beginning of this year we stopped taking on client work as the income from Perch has essentially replaced that of a successful consultancy, so it is possible.

We don't have recurring revenue as such, a license is a one-off purchase and includes all support, first party addons etc. However our customers tend to be web designers buying a license for each project. If we do a good job they want to use Perch for more than one project!

Growth was slow and steady, I think the toughest part was when we were 50% client work and 50% Perch, as we had customer support making it hard to get on with client projects and we really just wanted to be working on Perch!

QuantumDoja 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm a developer, I remember one time I needed to have a particular piece of functionality in an app. I could have built it, but I found that someone was selling what I wanted for $3.00 on the internet, it was a no-brainer. I paid with something like gumroad, downloaded and plugged it in within a matter of minutes, vs the few hours I would have spent writing/debugging.
mjn 1 day ago 0 replies      
One angle is selling plugins to popular creative software. Not quite "the old way", since they are standardized components and sold somewhat more like apps are, but it's a way of selling software components. Photoshop plugins, VST plugins for audio applications, and plugins for the Unity game engine are three fairly active markets I know of.

Another strategy, though from what I can tell with declining popularity, is to write a GPL-licensed open-source library, and then sell proprietary licenses to companies who prefer those terms. Two random examples: http://www.juce.com/documentation/commercial-licensing http://www.cgal.org/license.html

alecsmart1 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a buyer, here are a couple of software I've bought-

- vBulletin forum (http://vbulletin.com) for the base of my site- CometChat (http://cometchat.com) for adding Facebook like chat to the site- Kayako (http://kayako.com) for support tickets and issues

The advantage I found with self-hosted software is that its one-time. I pay for it and I don't have to worry about a monthly billing. Similar software in SaaS model would cost me about $70-$100 per month. Eventually these costs start adding up. In one-time, I know that my investment is around $500-$800 or so. But that's all then. I can use the software for years without an issue.

quaffapint 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been selling a php self-hosted ad server, mySimpleAds, at http://wwww.clippersoft.net for years, which makes some side money. I recently launched a SaaS version at http://mysimpleads.com .

For the little bit the SaaS has been up, people still seem to like the self-hosted version. So, I guess it really depends upon the product and your target customer. There's some things that some people just prefer to host on their own :-).

unreal37 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wordpress templates are just "components" that can't function alone if you think about it.
libca 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am running Component Owl (http://www.componentowl.com/) for about three years.

The original idea was to create top-notch WinForms and WPF controls (.NET visual components). However, developing single great WinForms or WPF control is pretty challenging task.One need excellent knowledge about the framework and tools. It is much more than programming and deployment. It is also about knowing dark internals of the platform you use.

For example, the greatest challenge was doing seamless Visual Studio integration. Most users didn't know how to add a component to their software. They assumed it will "just appear" in Visual Studio Toolbox window and they just click on it and start using it.

Furthermore, most of my customers haven't just bought the component. They required some adjustments and features here and there. They also needed assistance with implementing the component even though we provided thorough documentation with code samples.

Because of the above reasons, I am currently orienting more on niche components and leaving all the buttons, combos, calendars and other typical controls to big players.

edragoev 18 hours ago 0 replies      
We made some decent money with our library however since we live in very expensive area I do some consulting as well.

If you are single and live in not so expensive place making software components could be a viable business. Just chose something that will not become obsolete in 2 or 3 years.

We are in the PDF space that is quite crowded but still much better than Flash (for example) that is becoming less and less relevant.

If I had to start today I would probably look for some security related stuff.

watersco 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a counter-example. I built an OSX application for remotely tailing logs on servers (http://www.remotetailapp.com/). Originally I did it to scratch and itch when I was administering a bunch of servers over SSH. I added Heroku log support when I started working on a Heroku project. I had dreams that it might grow into a self-sustaining side project, but it hasn't really taken off. The key lesson that I learnt is that the technology just solves part of the problem. Just because it is downloadable software rather than SaaS doesn't mean that you don't need to put effort into marketing and sales.
fbm 1 day ago 0 replies      
We sell a self hosted PHP app: http://teampasswordmanager.com. Sales went up this June when we released V2 (bootstrap based UI, more features). We're now adding more features and trying to keep up with requests from our users.
Ask HN: Free books database
3 points by aberatiu  6 hours ago   5 comments top 3
m_ram 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
Try http://openmetadata.lib.harvard.edu/bibdata

It's free, downloadable, and has records on almost 13 million items. Just going by the API (http://dp.la/dev/wiki/Item_API), it looks like it has the information that you need.

skidoo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Project Gutenberg is my personal favorite:


Internet Issues in the US - Possible Backbone Issue
82 points by JohnTHaller  1 day ago   45 comments top 16
raiyu 1 day ago 0 replies      
We can confirm that there are large issues on Level3's network we've had to pull them from the routing mix until they get everything resolved and stabilized.

Thanks,Moiseycofounder DigitalOcean

apaprocki 1 day ago 6 replies      
Too funny -- I diagnosed this to L3 on my home net this morning and I found myself saying "I wonder if anyone else has this issue?". When it comes to the backbone providers there is no Twitter account or status.level3.net or status.theinternet. Hard to do when everything is decentralized. I usually go hit NANOG when stuff like this happens but you're not guaranteed to find something real time there.
JohnTHaller 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to Internet Pulse, the Level 3 issues seem to be solved as of 11:03am. Still showing a slow connection between AT&T to Cogent and AT&T to SBC.http://www.internetpulse.net/

I am still unable to reach any of the above sites/networks via my Time Warner Cable connection, though.

elliottcarlson 1 day ago 1 reply      
While most of these services have now been rerouted via Above Net etc, some ISPs such as Time Warner (in NY at least) still seem to be routing via Level3 and unable to get to a lot of destinations.
superuser2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't there a website that shows a giant table of all the Tier 1 providers and the current ping latency and packet loss between them? I've been unable to find this again... does anyone have a link?
patrickg_zill 1 day ago 0 replies      
Level3 is in the midst of grooming/updating/changing some of their fiber connections.

One Level3 DC I have servers in, was served out of Baltimore, MD ; but in the last few weeks they changed it to be served out of NYC. By "served" I mean that the actual huge-Cisco that the fiber terminated to, was in Baltimore.

Very glad to have moved out of Level3, actually :)

tux 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought this is only associated with my routers "DNS Amplified DDoS vulnerability" on Asus RT-N56U router when using Level3 DNS " and" but after upgrading my firmware the issue continued. So I've changed my DNS to " and" google dns and everything started working normal for me. Good to know that this is not just me ^_^
korphol 1 day ago 0 replies      
Usually the looking glass for each tier 1 provider will give you a good idea I can see http://lookingglass.level3.net/ is down now.


dec0dedab0de 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have to remember to check HN before driving in to work when a bunch of people call me about outages.
JohnTHaller 1 day ago 0 replies      
As of 1pm EDT, I can now reach Rackspace, Facebook, Hotmail, Github, Digital Ocean, etc.
pinkmist 1 day ago 1 reply      
These issues have been around for at least a couple of weeks now. I too have been monitoring Internet Pulse and what I see is not only Level 3 puking on a regular basis but several of the other backbones also. Quite honestly, it's either a gross lack of competence or the feds are beginning to condition the net as they are in the military.~Ginn
gesman 1 day ago 0 replies      
My dedicated server went on to serving data as dialup modem speed and provider said it was optic fiber issues on their end.That seemed to be fixed later on.
neals 1 day ago 2 replies      
what is a level 3?
TimHordern 1 day ago 0 replies      
We're beginning to see sites come back up on our TWC connection.
zebra 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe NSA filter overload?
JohnTHaller 1 day ago 2 replies      
11 out of 37 routers down as of 11am EDT.http://www.internettrafficreport.com/namerica.htm
Dear undergraduate hacker
50 points by koof  22 hours ago   28 comments top 16
cecilpl 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting thoughts. As a professional software engineer (~7 years working) I disagree on a few points.

> Nobody cares that you work at a prestigious tech company that gives you ~cool benefits~.

If you're taking a job to impress other people, you're doing it wrong. The only people that really care about where you've worked are future employers.

> These projects were frighteningly representative of what work-life is.

Fairly true, except in the workplace you can count on other people to be marginally competent. In some cases the code is great, and in some cases it's awful. But in the vast majority of cases what counts is not whether it's "good" or not, but whether it works.

> There is little intellectual satisfaction to be had from contorting bytes.

Maybe you're referring to something else, but I find the process of constructing something functional to be immensely satisfying.

> Learning new programming languages is extremely fun at first but exasperating and repetitive after a while.

Never gets old for me. There's always something new and unique in each language.

> but it seems to be having very little impact on my life.

The more money I make, the more I can save, which means the faster I can become financially independent. Although I do enjoy my job, I wouldn't do it for free. I want to spread my time out across all my hobbies rather than tying 40 hours a week to one job in particular.

> If you get into a deep discussion about programming and you're surprised by how many things you know that you don't care about, really consider what that means.

Good point. It probably means you don't really care about programming in general. I love the fact that I know the quirks of python generators, or C++ keywords. I just love understanding systems in their entirely, from top to bottom.

> Find something you're actually passionate about and use programming to do cool things in that area.

Couldn't have said it better.

> Entitlement, lack of compassion, materialism, and (surprisingly) anti-intellectualism is the norm.

I haven't found this to be true at all. Intellectual pursuits are very commonplace in my tech workplace.

pfisch 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess I don't understand because...

1. You don't really have to work for anybody so you can sort of do whatever you want. The costs associated with starting a software related business are almost zero. That is basically not true in any other field.

2. Programming isn't an end in itself unless you want it to be. People learn to wood work in order to make things, just like people learn to program in order to make things. I have mostly never learned anything CS related unless I specifically needed to learn about the relevant topic in order to make something, or check the security of it, or try and learn a faster way to make it. With the exception of some of the higher math stuff this method will teach you nearly everything you really need to know. It sounds like you have already taken up through linear algebra so the math part is covered.

So if you hate making things than I guess CS isn't for you. But right now I would say programming skills allow you to make more things in a wider variety of areas than any other skill set.

No one is forcing you to make a stupid app. You could be doing microcontroller programming in a subset of C or even assembly if you want to be involved in making almost every modern device. You could try and make something like google glass, or the oculus, or a lifesaving medical device. You could involve yourself in the world of 3d printing. You could do molecular simulations to push science forward. You could make videogames. You could work with bitcoins. You could probably work on rocketships if you hit gradschool for maybe 2 years.

You can start a business if you want and do more of the client facing stuff.

With programming the possibilities are really open right now.

danpalmer 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's good to hear you're finding why you aren't happy in your work, and figuring out what to do, I wish you the best of luck and hope you find something you really love.

However I must admit, this is what I love. I like CS because it's like 'math with a practical/creative edge', and the experience I've had working as a software developer at 3 companies so far has only confirmed to me that this is what it's all about. I tend to choose companies with interesting problems to solve, and that's what I enjoy doing.

I enjoy working with other developers, both at university and in industry, on projects, and collaborating on problem solving. There are many aspects of the startup culture that I've seen myself, or read about, that I don't like, but I don't feel like I have to work in that area. When I get deep into discussions about programming, I'm surprised how many things I do care about, and often surprised when I find out that some of my peers don't care about them. I don't care about the cool benefits, I just want to work with amazing people, on interesting projects, and earn enough to not worry, and from what I've seen, I don't think I'm going to have a problem with that.

Students should read this warning, but if you do, and it doesn't ring true with you, don't feel worried about 'burning out' or losing interest, keep doing what you love.

lelandbatey 20 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone currently pursuing a CS degree, thanks for writing this advice out. Here's my initial judgement:

1. You were never really in love with this discipline

2. You thought that things would "get better" as time passed

I'm not totally sure I won't end up feeling like you do, but I do think my odds are good.

I know that I love CS, really love it. Everything, from gluing libraries together, to understand the beautiful math behind it all. From the lowest levels of gates and electricity to the most abstract applications, I find it sublimely beautiful! I spend almost all my time thinking about programming, thinking about problems, wondering how I can do different things. Every day I learn about something (or many things) that expand my knowledge and add to the parts of this elegant world I can already understand.

Something I realized pretty recently is:

    I'm really lucky to have something that I want to spend every day working on.    Almost no one else gets that, especially so early in their life.
I honestly hope I can spend all my life doing this, because it's what I love.

khyryk 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Computer science seems like the dominant choice for me when faced with a decision mostly based on ignorance, in the terminology of decision theory. (It's at least as good as any other option and is better in at least some areas.) I enjoy the benefits of more course freedom than engineering and relatively good job prospects. If it turns out that I despise coding for a job, I can change directions via grad school as I'll be taking more mathematics courses than the minimum requirements; moreover, it may be the case that I would've hated doing X for a job for most X, but it's not practical to actually try most X before arriving at a more definite conclusion.
asdfologist 21 hours ago 1 reply      
While I agree that you need to think deeply before making career choices, I disagree that you're necessarily on the wrong track if you end up in a job that you find boring/meaningless. It's normal for people to discover that all the decent job opportunities open to them have some serious cons (especially in a bad economy with fewer options), and it's often a matter of picking the least of all evils.

In other words, you may dislike your programming job, but you may not necessarily find a career track that'll make you any happier. Best of luck in your search though.

mileszim 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry to hear you had this struggle to identify with what you like, but you seem like you've worked it out to some degree. It sounds like you just didn't enjoy CS and got stuck in the field. That's fine, but it's not indicative of the field as a whole. If you hate something fundamentally, you find everything about it wrong in your mind.

With that being said, a lot of your remarks about bad parts of the industry are subjective at best, and just seem like an artifact of the situation you were in. I love CS, and do it as a hobby, and have not had anywhere near the same kind of experience you have had. I had a contemplative period like this as well, but figured out that we do the things we're interested in and enjoy whether we realize it or not. If you do something as a hobby, chances are you like doing that thing.

In any case, good luck on your quest to do something you enjoy better!

sliverstorm 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not really sure I need as much money as I'm making to be comfortable. At some point I just became addicted to comparing salaries at various companies/jobs, but it seems to be having very little impact on my life.

There was a study a little while back that found on average, increased salary leads to increased happiness, but the growth in happiness stops around $70k.

Now, inflate that number a little to account for cost of living in the Bay Area (where many HN readers live), but I believe it. Once you can afford the important things, further increases do not bring the same compelling quality-of-life improvements as (for example) being able to afford a comfortable domicile and a reliable vehicle.

msutherl 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I dropped out of CS in the first year, switching to design, and it was a great decision for me. I did make the mistake of trying to work as a UX designer and programmer for a year after school, and thanks to that I share all of your misgivings about the industry, but after a lot of searching and networking, I've been able to carve out a career for myself on the periphery of the tech industry that suits me well.

I'm sorry to hear you didn't make more of your university education, but don't discount the value of the skills you learned. Even if you don't end up being a programmer, you will hereafter always be able to speak with, collaborate with, manage, and direct a class of powerful wizards who manipulate the flow of information in society. This can be a powerful asset for you in whatever other career you end up building. Think of it as a superpower that will give you a distinct advantage in the world.

If you want to chat about this stuff, feel free to send me an email: skiptracer at gmail.

erikj54 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Your post focuses on what others are saying. Why are you so worried about why everyone else likes CS? "You can't stand the idea of making something so meaningless". Get out of the valley, people all over the world are using software and technology to solve real problems. If you are looking to "do what you love", why not instead focus on the impacts of your contributions....you seem to highlight this as important. Here is a neat project to apply for: http://codeforamerica.org/. OR go teach CS to other students in High School: http://www.teachforamerica.org/.

Your experience underlines a post I wrote recently about the underlying topic that exists here. People seem to concentrate on end goals, vs process. If you think you will start enjoying writing software, you probably never will. You won't wake up and suddenly find a new language that inspires you. In my experience it is the people that enjoy process, and challenges in the CS discipline that truly succeed. An appreciation for process, details and the ability to work in many different areas is something I cherish.

I would step back for a while. You might find that you do enjoy things more than you realize. Time away from something, doing something else can trigger a greater appreciation. Take a step back. You might also take a look at the alternatives. While you mention briefly the idea that you should "do what you love", I might be careful with that statement. Society has lied to you that it is always possible to do this.

anaphor 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why I'm doing mostly stuff unrelated to CS in school (linguistics, philosopy, etc..). I don't feel it's a good use of my time to take useless courses, though I am thinking of double majoring in CS and Linguistics. I agree with the OP about startups, they're mostly dull, stressfull, and immoral, and I have worked at one that was probably better than most and still found it basically immoral because of how they wanted to treat user data.
rajacombinator 21 hours ago 1 reply      
My advice to you is this: find a way to focus on the positive in life, not the negative. Your post seethes with negativity, resentment, and a false sense of superiority. If you take that attitude into whatever you do next, you'll probably find yourself in the same situation.
ACow_Adonis 20 hours ago 1 reply      
It resonates for me. I started university in computer science. I even got relatively good grades for that first year, but I decided I had to change, and ended up doing economics and philosophy (both of which have their own problems worthy of another thread).

Now I should state that swapping out of CS does not mean I no longer work with computers/programming. On the contrary, now I can use it to whip up solutions in every other field that most of those practitioners can't, and if there's one thing working with economists/mathematicians/statisticians/scientists teaches you, its that they can't program something efficiently to save themselves. In my darker moments I wonder whether all the supercomputer hardware at CERN/Universities/Government/Corporates is just bad algorithms/code that runs 5000 times slower on hardware 500 times faster...anyway...

I got out of CS at uni because it was very clear that the university was there for an industry. I loved the systems/art of programming, so I imagine it was a bit like going along and enrolling in a painting course with hopes of doing the Sistine chapel, only to find that most of "painting" was actually about how to cover the side of a skyscraper or a house. Same words, even very similar mediums...different realities. Not why I started working with computers.

Two other aspects come to mind. The first: the hyper-capitalism/money-making/app-writing/insecure ego/self-help-you-can-too!/superficial/start-up culture. I realise that hacker news is part of y-combinator, which is also part of american culture (yes, i went there), so you're going to get a lot of suck up children who really just want to be rich/popular/important, but my god I can't think of a more brain-dead boring topic filled with so many repugnant people. Is there anywhere that's like hacker news with the whole start-up/get rich quick element removed? Cause that would be lovely :P

And the second is that anyone who thinks that university or work is going to magically lead to or remove you from some sort of otherwise compelling or fulfilling life is smoking some powerful crack. Work is work, and its going to pretty much suck, and a lot of the labour-as-meaning-of-life-protestant-work-ethic-consume-be-rich-go-into-debt is basically social indoctrination to provide a nice supplicant workforce.

Life's big and complicated. Stress over the fact that you've got a lot of control over what you want from life, which means you can do a lot of things that other people say you shouldn't. But don't stress over notions that studying X at university/working at company X is going to lead you to ruin or fill you with regrets. Its really not that important in the grand scheme of things...

yitchelle 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like that you are deeply unhappy about your work situation. Sorry.

I truly love what I am doing as I am making a difference in the work that I do, and I know of others in the same boat as I am.

One advice, get the F*CK out of there and actively find something that you like doing. I am guessing that you are in your mid-20s. This means that you still have plenty of "runway" in your life to explore other things to do. Explore before that "runway" shortens to 0.

Good luck!

Shidash 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The suggestion about finding another area and using programming in that area is very good. If you want to do that, it is probably worth looking into interdisciplinary, joint, or independent majors. These make it possible to still study some CS and other areas without double majoring. Unlike most majors, you might also be able to avoid classes that are useless. Most schools seem to have a major along these lines.

I did this with an independent major in civic technology. It included a lot of CS (enough to get a good foundation plus more advanced classes in applicable areas), political science, statistics, civic media, and some sociology and social philosophy. The major was much more interesting to me than pure CS. I also learned a lot about the specific area I'm now working in from multiple angles, far more than if I had just been studying other fields in my spare time.

jamesjporter 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems like a really expansive way to say don't do something if you don't enjoy it, which I think is good advice for anyone, not just undergraduate hackers.
Hacking the Olympics
167 points by jbaudanza  4 days ago   70 comments top 19
gamblor956 3 days ago 4 replies      
The hubris of the poster and his friend is offensive on its face.

Athletes do not make it to the Olympics through "brute force." Exercise is the least part of Olympic training. Olympic-caliber athletes spend years practicing their specific discipline(s), developing everything from the mechanics of their movement to the interplay of their body with the environment.

Cross-country skiing isn't just something you can "pick up" a few months before the Games and hope to have a shot. It is a grueling physically demanding sport that requires tremendous endurance, technical, and mental preparation.

Also--simply being a citizen of a low-population country is not sufficient to qualify for the Olympics (winter or summer). The Olympics are a competition for the best athletes in the sport--novelty acts don't just get to waltz in. Prior to each Olympics, each sport sets forth the qualifying standards (time, place in qualifying races, etc.). Even the Jamaican bobsled team had to qualify for the Olympics.

notahacker 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is cool, but I'm surprised it's not much more difficult in skiing even Olympics since the IOC have been trying to stamp out no-hopers ever since Britain's "Eddie the Eagle" became legendary for his amateurish ski-jump attempts.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_%22The_Eagle%22_Edwards

Eddie was a much more accomplished athlete than the Congoese swimmer who could barely get the end of the pool, and probably a better skier than your friend, but the IOC took a dim view of enthusiastic amateurs hurtling down ski-slopes in front of millions of viewers that were genuinely pleased just to see him survive the jump, and introduced qualification requirements. I'm surprised they haven't introduced them for dangerous sports like the luge as well. At least your friend had the sense to pick cross country skiing

The way to get an Olympic medal is to be naturally gifted and train every day from teens onwards, like one of my brother's friends did...

I still regret not learning to play handball in approx 2010 since the Great Britain felt compelled to enter a team at their home Olympics despite it being about the only sport British people don't play.

jamesbondini 4 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of Philip Boit.

In 1996, Nike decided on a sports experiment / PR stunt - it would pay for two Kenyan long distance runners, Philip Kimely Boit and Henry Bitok, to train in cross-country skiing for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The two Kenyans have never skiied before in their lives - heck, they've never even seen snow until they arrived in Finland to train.

Bitok never qualified for the race, but Boit did. He cross-country skiied in the 10-kilometer classic in Nagano ... and came in dead last. The awards ceremony for the race had to be delayed because the winner, Norwegian cross-country skier and legend in the sport Bjrn Dhlie, insisted on waiting 20 minutes for Boit to cross the finish line so he could cheer Boit on!

evanjacobs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Kathryn Bertine wrote a book and a series of articles for ESPN in which she tried to do something very similar. After trying several sports, she settled on cycling and gained citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis.

More about her story at:http://espn.go.com/espnw/blogs/training/article/6177784/kath...

adrianh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Paul is awesome, and this is going to make a great documentary movie, whatever happens in the end. :) I believe he has a film crew following him around.
oskarth 4 days ago 1 reply      
andzt 4 days ago 2 replies      
While I think this is really interesting, I do think it's slightly disrespectful of the sport and the Olympic games in general. Good luck getting rocked at the Olympics Paul!
veenix 4 days ago 0 replies      
richardlblair 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some coworkers and I were talking about this exact same thing. In the last Winter Olympics Jon Montgomery won a gold metal in skeleton. In his interview he admitted that he wanted to be an Olympian, and that skeleton seemed like a way he could accomplish that. It's clever, very clever.
emanrr83 4 days ago 0 replies      
anybody can get on television if they really want to. an Olympian, so what? as someone who truly enjoys sports this is more annoying than anything. if he happened to be from Colombia, and had intentions to work hard an compete in cross country skiing it would be a great story. this is a mockery. also, real athletes change citizenship all the time to 'hack' for money/fame/international glory/sponsorships, this is nothing new.
jstalin 4 days ago 1 reply      
How does one just become a citizen of Columbia??
drewmate 3 days ago 4 replies      
If he became a Colombian citizen, doesn't that mean he has voluntarily given up his U.S. citizenship? If he was born a US citizen, he just gave up one of the most valuable things anyone could have (and he got for free) just to pursue some pipe dream that still may not be realized. Talk about selling your birthright for a mess of pottage.
001sky 4 days ago 2 replies      
This led him to narrow it down to 4 sports of Bobsled, Luge, Downhill Skiing and Cross-Country Skiing.
stefek99 3 days ago 0 replies      
For me the accomplishment is to get Youtube username: http://www.youtube.com/user/paul/aboutJoined 25 Apr 2005

You were planning it all life long :)

Nicholas_C 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love this. Very cool.
blaalz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bravo good Paul
raudaskoski 4 days ago 0 replies      
The story is like from a movie
artag 4 days ago 0 replies      
go Paul!!
yeukhon 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why is the tile called "Hacking"? It seems like everyone came here to hear some hacking but instead we get a story of someone trying to become an Olympian.
Ask HN: What is the best advice you have ever given to someone?
5 points by lydiahan  22 hours ago   4 comments top 4
rpedela 3 hours ago 0 replies      
How about the best advice I ever received? Here it goes...

Focus on becoming the best at something. In ten years, you will be the best (or one of the best). Then all that other stuff many people focus on will just happen naturally: fame, fortune, etc.

justintocci 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't help it, I have to answer this.

It was maybe ten years ago. My boss was selling his company. He described to me that it was a multi step sale.

Now, I had read a blog post by Robert Cringely that talked about how companies steal corporations by devaluing stock after the initial sale so that sellers miss out on most of the money they were planning on getting. I had read it maybe a few months prior and was sketchy on the details but bells and whistles were going off in my head.

I told him he should read this blog post, I'd go find it and send it right over. Then the most amazing thing happened.

I want to point out, this was the best job I'd ever had. He was, by far, the best boss I'd ever had. Unlike any other person I had ever worked for he gave me a lot of autonomy and I made him a lot of money in a very short time.

So I was kind of surprised. Rather than say, "hey, send it over", he instead began to explain to me that there was a contract, that they couldn't change the contract after the fact, etc. I said ok, that I didn't really recall the details in the article, maybe he should read it.

That's when he said no. I was very surprised and disappointed but it only lasted a minute. I'm a type A personality so I sent it to him anyway.

Much later I learned that they had agreed on three equal payments in the millions. The first payment was paid as agreed. The next was a couple hundred thousand. The last was zero.

The formula was in the contract and couldn't be changed. In fact, the purchasers only had control over one number in the formula. If you aren't strong in algebra let me just tell you outright what that means.

The purchasers had total control over the formula.

My boss had a great lawyer that didn't realize this or tell him. Maybe because he only gets paid if the deal happens.

They had a highly paid business broker who surely knew this but didn't say anything because he only gets paid if the deal happens.

Anyway, probably my worst business day ever since I obviously caused my boss to lose way more than I ever benefitted him. And unfortunately, I still have credibility problems. I would love some good advise on that!

dome82 19 hours ago 0 replies      
"Use as much time as possible with the people you love and enjoy these moments. Life is short."
notduncansmith 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"Delete system32"
Storage servers, market research
6 points by dcc1  1 day ago   2 comments top
Joyfield 1 day ago 1 reply      
You should probably hint on a price range.
Ask HN: My startup is launching in a few weeks and I'm terrified. Advice?
4 points by namlem  1 day ago   8 comments top 6
redtexture 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There is nothing wrong with allowing it to become visible before announcing it to the world. Or perhaps a private beta for a few weeks may give the opportunity to fix some things before being crushed by a thousand visitors all at once.

All of which is to say, you can make it visible now, to a small population, in preparation for more to come.

philiphodgen 1 day ago 1 reply      
"We are making rookie mistakes"...

You are.

"Won't be able to put out fires effectively enough."

You won't.

So what. Launch. This is your first day at pre-kindergarten. There is a long way to go. And pre-k is fun. Ask anyone who has gone through it.

lydiahan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Make sure you and your co-founders have found a product that truly solves a user pain or need. I like to follow the Lean LaunchPad method of interviewing at least 10 potential users each week (minimum). It shouldn't be hard, heck, it is actually very fun because you end up learning things about your product from actual users. Here's the trick that my co-founders and I do: every time we pay for a service (eat at restaurant, buy groceries, etc), we always make it a goal to interview 1 person. Try it out! You will better understand your users AND if you truly have a product that amazes your users, just develop and you will see results. Good luck on your venture!
tgoldberg 16 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who just launched a startup a week ago, the best advice I can give is to just go for it! You're always going to have bugs, want to squeeze more functionality in, make it look cleaner, etc. The reality is that you'll probably learn more about your product, users, and infrastructure capabilities in your first week post-launch then you will have in the past ten months. It can be a terrifying experience unleashing your product to the world, but it's also an exciting one. Finish up the last few tasks, launch it, and celebrate your accomplishment....then get back to work :
jbobes 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Same here with http://cloud306.comJust the gateway is missing..
sharemywin 1 day ago 0 replies      
hopefully scaling issues are your biggest problem. most sites problem is not enough visitors. the other problem is financing it until it's big enough to make money. assuming advertising is your revenue model. digital point is advertising 1 cpm which is $1 for a 1000 pageviews.
Ask HN: what is the best laptop for a web development?
3 points by ericthegoodking  19 hours ago   22 comments top 8
27182818284 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Probably the MacBook Air, and when you're at a desk, another monitor for it.

I got the Macbook Pro Retina and I'm not sure if it was worth the extra dollars and the very small amount of extra weight. I think I would be fine with an Air. In fact, if I did it over, I'd get the Air and then spend a little bit more along with the difference in price to create a nicer desktop machine.

hackula1 17 hours ago 0 replies      
For me, mbpr 13 is a really good balance between usability and portability. I was Thinkpad + linux for years, but I find the mbp hardware feels a bit sturdier, compared to other options in the same price range. The main contender for me was the Thinkpad Carbon, but I liked the feel of the mbp keyboard and trackpad a bit better (The latest TP has weird rounded keys).
hardwaresofton 18 hours ago 0 replies      
So I personally ran into this problem a while ago -- I posted something along the lines of "why do people develop on macbook airs", trying to decide which computer to purchase.

For me, it was between the Zenbook and the Macbook Air.

To be honest, the first thing I would do on a Zenbook is put Linux on it (I just can't develop in Windows any more, I don't know if something is wrong with me, but everything just feels wrong when I try). I reasoned this way:

1. If I ever decide to do iOS, the Macbook is a plus

2. It's UNIX-compatible, and pretty much a hop, skip and some GNU tools from linux.

3. If you really want to, there's pretty well tested software for putting windows on it.

Then I went on craigslist and bought a $500 Macbook Air (10"), and have been happy with my decision ever since.

I should also note that I do most of my programming on my desktop.

phaus 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 is out. It starts at ~1100 and has a 13" 3200x1800 screen. Early reviews say they improved every aspect of the original Yoga. It weighs a hair over 3 lbs, has a Haswell processor, up to 8GB ram, and gets about 6 hours of battery life. The battery life isn't stellar for a Haswell ultrabook, but the absolutely amazing screen uses more power than a lower-res one would.

As another option, the Thinkpad T440s just launched. It has an option for a 1080p IPS, weighs about 3.5 lbs, and has a hot-swappable battery.

Lenovo also has really good Linux support.

Systemic33 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I picked the ASUS Zenbook UX31A when it arrived june last year, it's very similar to Apple MBA, but has 1080p.

The next gen of it is the ASUS Zenbook UX301 [1] with the insane resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 on a 13" IPS touchscreen.It's bundled with Windows, but Linux runs very well on them.Mine has been running linux since last christmas. Price is equivalent to the MBA.

[1] http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/04/asus-zenbook-ux301-hands-...

mrjoelkemp 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Macbook air. Beautiful tools create beautiful products.
elclanrs 18 hours ago 0 replies      
ASUS Zenbooks are great, very light, solid aluminum build, 1080p IPS matte panel, 6+ hours battery life. I'm quite happy with mine.
NeverWinter 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Depends on your budget. Will you commute? I'm personally using a Samsung 9 Series which is very lightweight. Plays well with linux as well, no driver-issues what so ever.

Second choice would probably be Lenovo's newer generation IdeaPad, then again it's really about what you're personally looking for and what setting you'll be using it in.

Can someone make Paul Graham's essays into an audio book?
8 points by Ian999  1 day ago   4 comments top 2
sfrechtling 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have you tried text to speech? - that might be a quick compromise. A very quick Google found http://www.yakitome.com./tts/text_to_speech
ScottWhigham 1 day ago 1 reply      
What am I missing here? At first (and third) glance, this seems pedantic, unthinking, and yes, lazy. In the time it took you to think of this idea and write this post, you could've recorded half of one into your phone's voice memo thing, couldn't you? Then you'd have it twice - once while you recorded it and once when you listened to it.

Besides, there is copyright to be concerned with - maybe pg doesn't want some random 3rd party releasing his works in any format. Who knows - maybe behind the scenes he's already had this idea, has hired a VO actor, and is doing it already.

Ask HN: How habits work? hacking habits advice
5 points by shire  13 hours ago   5 comments top 5
sillysaurus2 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, it's uncomfortable trying a new habit.

The reason to be motivated to replace your habits is probably because if you don't, you'll hate yourself for it. But that's liable to trigger feelings of fear rather than of positivity.

It all depends who you are and what you like. What makes you tick. For me, reading through DaVinci's notebook has a way of driving me to be productive in my own life.

Most of the self-help material is unfortunately useless, probably because what works for other people usually wont' work for you.

The best advice is probably to try a bunch of different things and see what works. If you keep trying different things, statistically you will find something that works, because it's very unlikely that nothing will work for you.

cliffcrosland 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Nick Winter describes an interesting approach to building habits and reaching goals in his ebook, "The Motivation Hacker" (http://www.amazon.com/The-Motivation-Hacker-Nick-Winter-eboo...).

He talks about using overwhelming pre-commitment as a way to force yourself to adopt a habit or reach a goal. Try to set up an environment where your success is over-ensured. Rather than tell a few friends that you'll stop smoking, destroy all of your cigarettes, pledge hundreds of dollars on Beeminder that you won't indulge in the habit, ask people to publicly shame you if you relapse, find and use the absolute best treatments and programs in the world for quitting, etc. Attack the habit with overwhelming force, much more than is probably necessary to overcome it. Doing so makes it easier to win.

klaut 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The new habit you want to introduce should be a small thing (maybe a tiny component of a bigger change you want). And you always have to set a trigger for it and celebrate once you do it... Stupid example: I want to introduce flossing my teeth, so i start with a tiny habit - flossing just one tooth right before i start brushing my teeth. The trigger is something I already do every day and it already is my habit - brushing my teeh. So, everytime i go to the bathroom with the aim to brush my teeth, I imediately remember that I'll floss one tooth. And after I do it, I congratulate myslef for doing it (a celebration).

Important - you can't start with 25 habits you want to change. You will fail if you do. Start with 2 - 3 really tiny ones.

You might want to try tiny habit exercise: http://tinyhabits.com/join/

And you alsow might find this book helpful understanding how habits work:http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Habit-What-Business/dp/14000...

jboynyc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I know this may seem outdated, but Aristotle's Ethics may be a good place to start: http://www.iep.utm.edu/aris-eth/#H1
Kanbab 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The Power of Habit, great book, just finished it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400069289?ie=UTF8&camp=213...
Ask HN: Smartest thing you've ever done?
10 points by vinchuco  1 day ago   13 comments top 8
knappador 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did a micro-architecture directed-study in highschool covering the MIPS architecture, MIPS assembly execution, implementation of many fundamental components such as latches, MUX's, ALU's etc, pipelines, caches, and many other topics of how machines execute programs.

To this day, I wind up drilling through several layers of abstraction and run-times naturally simply by having intuition that there is no other way for data to get from point A to point B without it being expressed in registers, atomic instructions, and abstractions that can be built on top of them. I use it to understand theoretical explanations of Turing machines, automatons, fastest implementations of algorithms, buffer overflow exploits, language implementations, data models, OS's, threads, processes, memory addressing, intrinsics, tail-recursion optimizations, JIT's, GC's, objects, C++ vtables...it goes on. Probably anything I will ever study always seems capable of mapping back to a problem space where Jump-and-load has to exist and cache coherency completely breaks down when playing with threads that compete for writes without locks.

The course was entirely optional. I was done about half-way through the semester and continued reading the course textbook until I had at least brushed across every part of it. Compared to other subjects of fundamental happenings, such as boot loaders in Linux, studying micro-architecture completely blows open the doors to your long-term capability to problem solve in any space in computing without the slightest question of what happens in the end.

In programming communities, as the original knowledge becomes boiled down into maxims and the maxims get repeated without the original discussion, people start parroting the whole argument against early-optimization or complaining about how scripting languages have no type-safety or how impure functions have side-effects and don't have reliable return values. It's very convenient to build your knowledge on the fulcrum of every community teeter-totter, the sheet-metal of every bike-shed, the fundamental logic from which all abstractions are born and all abstractions can be decomposed. Micro-architecture is the axiom space of programming. If you understand micro-architecture, it will give you a path of understanding into anything you will ever encounter in programming.

I had studied a lot of anecdotal micro-architecture when following the AMD Intel competitive race when it was at its hottest and reading tons of articles on overclocking and pondering how north-bridges and south-bridges might work, but taking the course basically paved the way for everything else I've done in computing since, much more-so than the C++ intro and OOP classes I took. Languages seem to have no foundation without some micro-architecture experience. You think that there might be some magical way to do X that you simply can't see through the abstractions. After studying micro-architecture, the magic is gone. Everything magic after that is how you abstract those ideas on top of each other.

meerita 1 day ago 0 replies      
It may sound silly, but the smartest thing I've ever done was: to start writing.

When I've finished my studies and I was working, I've realized I've could not write with an acceptable level. I mean, I knew my language, knew the words but I could not compose anything interesting. All stories, emails and other texts were equally difficult to read, full of grammar errors and many times I lost the argument points.

That's when I started a blog, and secretly to write everyday, until I improved to a level I've never imagined. My blog became so popular that open the professional world. With that I went to Europe and other countries.

japhyr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I went to PyCon this year and last year.

I have taught high school math and science for about 15 years now. My father was a software engineer in the 70's and 80's, so I had played with programming all my life. When my father passed away a few years ago, I went through his computer and saw the programs he'd been working on for years, which would never see any actual use. I decided then and there to take my own programming more seriously, and try to do something more meaningful with it.

I was incredibly intimidated to go to a professional programming conference as a non-professional programmer. I couldn't believe how positive the experience was. The first year I went to PyCon I got a clear sense that I could do something meaningful. The second year I made all kinds of connections that I continue to build on, and I have a couple really meaningful projects started.

Short version: Going to PyCon helped me jump-start a second career, and makes me a much better teacher as well.

bloodorange 1 day ago 0 replies      
Marrying the right person.
thecodemonkey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Starting to tinker with programming at a very young age.
toddrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quitting the military to make significantly less money doing something I loved.
unimpressive 1 day ago 1 reply      
Installed Linux.
smalleat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dropped out of college.
Ask HN: Do rich kids learn programming?
5 points by designium  1 day ago   7 comments top 6
arn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Strange question.

Of course "most" programmers come from middle class or lower, as "most" people are probably in your definition of middle/lower class.

What's your definition of "rich"?

If you consider "rich" to be in excess of $100 million net worth, and private jets and stuff like that, then ya, maybe @nick2 is right.

If you consider "rich" to be in excess of $200k/year salary, and up to $10 million net worth... guessing there isn't a huge trend one way or the other. But the general bias is probably towards the middle/upper class vs people who are in the very lower class. Since having some resources (internet, computer, education) is needed.

wglb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bill Gates was from a well-off family.
31reasons 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe they do as long as it makes them understand the world and business they are in, not for becoming a programmer unless thats what they want to do.
nick2 1 day ago 1 reply      
No, it would be a waste of time. When you have the money you can hire a programmer to do it better and faster than you can ever do it. Programming is a skill that takes many years to become really good at.
dave809 1 day ago 0 replies      
A poll would probably work better for this
Irishsteve 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because pcs used to be expensive?
Ask HN: I have no problems to solve
15 points by jkaykin  1 day ago   13 comments top 8
georgemcbay 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the problem is that you just aren't thinking about things hard enough* or just lack enough motivation to really follow-through, which is a separate (primarily non-technical) issue to solve. You would be unique in the world if you really had no problems that could be solved/helped with technology.

However, despite the common wisdom of scratching our own itches, when I'm working on outside hobby projects I often find it more interesting to solve other people's problems because it is more of a learning experience. Find a lab scientist or a teacher or a rapper (Jay-Z alone has 99 problems), and engage them in figuring out what problems they have that can be solved by technology. You are likely to learn a lot about what they do, which is cool, and you'll be more motivated by having a collaborator to work with on solving that person's problems. This may even serve you well commercially, if you care, because you can more easily find underserved niches. Every programmer wants to write a code editor, not every programmer wants to write networked, collaborative curriculum planning software.

[* Or perhaps you are thinking of them too hard. Sometimes it is good to just constantly be asking yourself if there is a better way to be doing whatever it is you are currently doing as opposed to sitting down and having some fruitless "brainstorming" session where you are trying to analyze what your problems are out of context.]

thecooluser 1 day ago 0 replies      
I faced this issue myself. Then I realised something:

I wasn't striving for anything.

People face problems when they have an ambition. They want to get from A to B and the process in-between is often messy so they use software or information to make it less messy.

What I'd suggest, then, is to start picking up hobbies for the sake of having hobbies. I started going to the gym, for instance, and have thought of much better ways to create a workout tracker.

I started writing novels a couple of years ago and have the insight into making a better application for novelists.

When I started traveling, that also sparked ideas.

Stop thinking about solving a problem. You should really focus on giving yourself problems. Be a beginner again. Create an imbalance in your life, then resolve it.


shawnreilly 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have quite the opposite problem, too many problems to solve, and not enough time/resources to build everything. I figured I could describe my thought process, and maybe it will help you come up with ideas too. It's a pretty basic three step process; 1. choose a topic (or industry, or domain, or space, or whatever you want to call it) that you personally enjoy, or have deep knowledge/experience. 2. on a white board, write down all the different aspects or components that comprise whatever topic you choose, and next to each component, write down a person or role that's associated with each component. 3. take each association you've built and look for two things from the person's and/or role's perspective; within the context of the topic, look for a pain point and/or a new capability. In my opinion, the key is being able to rationalize things from other people's perspectives. Building the associations is a good exercise that will get the brainstorming going. Choosing a topic you personally enjoy or have deep knowledge/experience will provide you with insights and unique perspectives that you can leverage to build something of value. Some of my best ideas were the result of correlating these insights and perspectives with the pain points and/or capabilities identified above. Hopefully this thought process will help you come up with some killer ideas!

Regarding the problem I'm experiencing, I've been experimenting with a new approach that is similar to the Idealab approach used by Bill Gross. Understanding the effectiveness of focusing on one project at a time, this experimental approach is to validate ideas, protect their IP, and then build teams to execute independently. So while I work on one Project at a time, the team(s) I've built can execute other Projects (and resulting Products/Businesses). The value that I'm providing is the validation of each idea with potential customers, as well as the protection of any associated IP (via patents). The team would, of course, own the majority of each Business and I would take a small percentage. The way I see it, an approach like this is great because of two reasons; one, it's great practice for me in terms of team-building and customer validation. two, I get to watch these crazy ideas be executed, resulting in new Products that would make life better for everyone (me included!). It will be interesting to see how this works out! If you would be interested in checking out some of these Projects, let me know!

artas_bartas 1 day ago 0 replies      
One simple way to find new problems is to follow the advice once given by Deep Throat: "Follow the money!"

What I mean is look into your own spending patterns (or those of your friends/ parents/ neighbours/ colleagues) and ask yourself why does something cost as much as it does? Can it be made more cheaper? Or if it is already cheap, can the difference consumer saves be used for some meaningful, complementary services/items?

Thinking this way can reveal many interesting and unexpected answers and the best thing is that this quest takes you out of your room, since you have to follow the money trail and understand how different businesses work. Doing that as an outsider is likely to spark many interesting thoughts.

dudus 1 day ago 0 replies      
If not having problems is a problem to you maybe you can start there.
benologist 1 day ago 0 replies      
You need to look at the more discrete problems you face - there's probably lots of things you do that take 100x longer than they should because they haven't been automated or optimized for today's world.
namuol 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm. I just posted this Ask HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6574962
japhyr 1 day ago 2 replies      
What do you do besides programming? Most of the projects I end up taking on come out of my non-programming interests.
MongoDB vs. Cassandra - What's your choice?
3 points by robabbott  1 day ago   1 comment top
hansgru 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> MongoDB vs. Cassandra

None. We use OrientDB http://www.orientdb.org/ (it supports more than one "storage" mode: http://nosql-database.org/ )

On the plus side, it's Java based (without native stuff), so it can run existing production machines where mongo can't be compiled (Sparc, HP, etc).

Another nice advantage is the support for SQL syntax, so for existing teams, the DB people won't feel left out :).

Https Google Search Redirecting to http in Iran
3 points by sepent  1 day ago   1 comment top
mike-cardwell 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you use the HTTPS-Everywhere Firefox addon it will protect you from this.
Ask HN: Best Text Adventure games?
18 points by tomrod  3 days ago   11 comments top 10
BryantD 3 days ago 0 replies      
The old stuff is fun, but I've gotta recommend the newer efforts for really high quality text adventure. The current interactive fiction subculture is doing some pretty keen stuff, both novel and retro-flavored.

I think Emily Short's list of recommended IF (http://emshort.wordpress.com/how-to-play/reading-if/) is very good since it breaks up games by category. Nick Monfort also has some good recommendations (http://nickm.com/if/rec.html).

Personally, if you're looking for the old time feel, I would recommend:

Anchorhead (big, Cthulhoid, genuinely chilling in places): http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=op0uw1gn1tjqmjt7Christminster (puzzle-oriented, very tough): http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=fq26p07f48ckfrorCurses (puzzle-oriented, great setting, time travel): http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=plvzam05bmz3enh8

How to play these: http://www.ifwiki.org/index.php/FAQ#How_can_I_download_and_p...Easy entry point: http://pr-if.org/play/

Splendor 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know if this counts but: http://adarkroom.doublespeakgames.com/
impendia 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend Gateway and Gateway II, based on Frederik Pohl's science fiction series.

There's graphics and sound, but the interface is classic text adventure.

32bitkid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Deadline http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadline_(video_game)

Easily one of the best detective games ever created, and also my favorite Infocom game. Time passes as the game goes by, things happen in the game world independent of the player, multiple-endings, its got it all.

mproud 3 days ago 0 replies      
If youre feeling adventurous (zing!) consider looking at games developed out of the interactive fiction compo: http://ifcomp.org
Vaskivo 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you feel like going "neo-retro", try some modern text adventures / interactive fiction http://www.ifwiki.org/index.php/Recommended_games
LarryMade2 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Pawn, Guild of Thieves and Knight Orc were pretty fun to play... Of course the classic Zork Series and other Infocom games.
airza 3 days ago 0 replies      
A Mind Forever Voyaging
agjones 3 days ago 0 replies      
HellMOO (http://www.hellmoo.org) is a fun MUD I've played on and off over the years. If you're in to post-apocalyptic scenarios and pop culture references, this game is for you.
Balantine 3 days ago 0 replies      

Of course this is a MUD and not a standalone game.

"Where Roleplay and Tactics Collide" -- highly addictive, beware!

How do I follow through on my projects??
12 points by zxcvvcxz  2 days ago   13 comments top 9
ScottWhigham 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does this sound like you?

You pick a project that sounds fun to work on and solve. After two months of working on it, you got "close enough" that in your brain you'd already done the work and solved the problem. You don't finish it because "implementation" is just rote, boring stuff at this point. You enjoyed the problem solving aspect and, now that you need to create documentation or finalize/polish your work, it's boring and tedious.

If that sounds like you, I can empathize - that was me for a decade. It turned out, in the end, that I wasn't picking interesting enough projects - I was choosing projects that could have been resolved in two months + one month of boring work.

Solution: quit screwing around on pansy projects and do something big.

canterburry 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote a blog post about all my past failed projects:http://founderbynight.tumblr.com/

I have had the same problems and I think the main challenge to getting them done was:

1. Completely agree with ScottWhigham...I had solved the problem in my head so it wasn't a challenge anymore

2. Didn't do enough research about existing solutions, companies so I got discouraged when I discovered better solutions

3 I didn't think it was a good enough project/solution to begin with so I wasn't motivated to finish

4. I had a very good job that I enjoyed so I really didn't need to get the project finished

My current project (http://www.pixtulate.com) I really believe in, I love what it does, how simple it is and how many designers it can help. That drives me every night....I feel like I am finally working on something truly useful.

27182818284 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been in your position a lot. I think the problem is with the M in your MVP. Narrow it down. It sounds like you're producing M+VP where M+ means more than minimum. Once I figured that out, I was able to do a lot more, faster.

I think this happens to a lot of people because it is really hard to take the M seriously until you start to see the Minimums of other now successful companies. The MVP for Reddit looked like hell (No offense kn0thing et al :-) and people forget that time when Facebook didn't even have a wall to write on.

jlengrand 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like I can reuse an old comment on mine for this :)

4 points by jlengrand 153 days ago | link | parent | on: Ask HN: Why can't I get started?

In the past year and a half, I started at least a different dozen projects. None of them is finished, or in a "correct" state. I would start something, to stop it half way through in order to start something else. I would sit on the computer to work, and start gaming a few minutes later. . .But lately, within 3 weeks, I popped up my first android application on the store; without any prior knowledge on database, webscrapping or anything else I needed to build the app.The difference? The users. A friend of mine called me saying : Hey, I do that every morning, and the current way of doing it is a pain. I am sure you can do something for me.And magically enough, I got motivated, working my arse off to get the first version finished. Since it is on the market, I got 60 recurring users and growing. And this keeps me motivated. I put hours on the project, just because I get feedback.So the conclusion: Do something that someone asked you to. Get your users first, start working afterwards. Don't be alone.If you don't have users, then join a project that has already started, in order to code with someone and get some interaction.I think that for a good 90% of us, what keeps up working is the passion for solving problems others have.Hope this helps :)

The updated version is that I am currently having 700 daily users, everyone is really happy on the store (4.47/5) and I keep working on it daily.

Hope this helps :)

chidevguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've dealt with this same problem for many years as well. Recently I just completed a side project (http://www.randolunch.com) for the first time ever.

Three things really helped me get it to the finish line:

1) I listed out all the possible features of the project, then marked only the features I absolutely couldn't launch without as MVP. I used https://workflowy.com/ to do this because I liked the hierarchical structure and the ability to cross off features as I implemented them. Whenever I worked on my project I'd have workflowy open in one of the browser tabs.

2) If I didn't feel like working on the project I'd open up the feature list, pick one of the simplest items, and implement it. I found that if I started writing even just a few lines of code it was enough to motivate me to keep at it for hours. This was especially helpful as I got closer and closer to the finish line.

3) As others have mentioned here, launch your project as early as you can, even when you still feel "embarrassed" by it, and tell people about it! Looking on Google Analytics and seeing even just a handful of people using my site was incredibly motivating! It made me want to continue improving the site just so that those few people would have a better experience.

captainbenises 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone is gonna give you advise on finishing and tenacity.

Have you thought of the opposite viewpoint - that it seemed like a promising idea, but once you fleshed it out you found out there's reasons why no one else is doing it?

I'd say you're doing it exactly right, keep working on projects, find out if they're dead ends or not, then move onto the next one.

If you want to improve your process, make sure you focus on prototyping and UI, and not worry about stuff like scaling.

Also - opensource your half-done projects on github, so you can have them as resume pieces.

teni 2 days ago 0 replies      
As hackers advance it is easy for them to lose sense of what is difficult, useful or plain stupid. I think this is because hackers usually set themselves on a quest to conquer ...xyz and once that is in sight all the hacking fun seems gone. Here is what I do:

1. I already know who would use my product before I build. They are not asking, "Do I need that?" but they are asking "When do I get that?".

2. As I develop, I am more likely to leave things out than to add anything to it.

Always remember:

  "Perfection is not the absence of what can be added but of what can be taken away"

thearn4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Easiest way is to get partners (or at least followers) on a project, if you can. It definitely helps motivate me to keep working on things after the initial drive wears down.
irina_z 1 day ago 0 replies      
Join a mastermind group with few people that strive for the same thing you want to achieve. The single best decision I've done in terms of pushing my project forward. Every 2 weeks the three of us meet and share progress. It's a great form of both accountability and motivation. I feel super eager to work on my project for days after the hangout.
Ask HN: What is the best way to save links for later?
7 points by adrian_pop  2 days ago   9 comments top 8
aufreak3 1 day ago 0 replies      
- Print to PDF. With articles from online magazines, choosing "Print" to get all pages on page and then Print to PDF is my current preferred snapshotting. It is easily searched using spotlight on my mac.

- Instapaper still works well for me.

- Of late I've also been using archive.is to snapshot pages. This is useful for article permalinks to cite for research, in case the original url disappears or its content changes after the conclusion of said research.

kineticfocus 2 days ago 0 replies      
For firefox: http://maf.mozdev.org/ ...saves sites into a single 'MAFF' file, adds MHT Support to the browser

...and it's open source ('hg clone http://hg.mozdev.org/maf/' )

stevejalim 2 days ago 1 reply      
Tried an archival account at http://pinboard.in ?
zalew 2 days ago 0 replies      
rootsofallevil 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just rolled my own to just save the URL and then convert it to a mobi file using Calibre.

I guess it could be easily edited to do the conversion there and then, rather than wait, which is what it does at the moment.

It will also email the converted ebooks to your kindle, so every 2 weeks i realize that i find too many things interesting to read.

bdevine 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're not aware of it, wget[1] allows you to save pages, whole sites, file types, etc.

[1] http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2009/09/the-ultimate-wget-downlo...

swGooF 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://kippt.com might be a good site to look at. They store the website contents on the kippt site.
bprager 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use Readability "Read later" a lot. Plug-ins for almost any browser.
Ask HN: Managing Side Projects with Full Time Job?
5 points by flylib  1 day ago   5 comments top 5
murtza 1 day ago 0 replies      
kylequest 1 day ago 0 replies      
You'll need to make sure you set boundaries for your full time job otherwise they tend to claim all of your personal time, which is no easy task.

If you area really lucky and if your side project/startup involves open source code you might be able to work on the code (at least, part time) at your full time job. It's not always possible though because some companies might not even let you open source your code.

lydiahan 1 day ago 0 replies      
First things first, talk to your significant other about this. You will end up spending weekday evenings and weekends dedicated to a side project. If you are able to get support at home, then make sure you make the best use of your time (as I am sure you will). The trick is to figure out what milestones you want to hit in the beginning of each week, estimate the amount of time it will take, and spread out the work to each day of the week. Use a calendar or scheduler of some sort because it will keep you on track!
namuol 1 day ago 0 replies      
I tried and wound up with RSI.

I quit my office job after a year of saving, and I'm about to launch the project I've been working on full-time (and plenty more) since I quit. I did have a few small gigs to keep me afloat, during that time, though.

meerita 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Side projects have no deadlines. If you deadline you will have troubles with your current job.
Ask HN: Is there an open source license that prohibits binary distribution?
4 points by aviraldg  1 day ago   4 comments top 3
andridk 1 day ago 0 replies      
You could just trademark the name and forbid its' use on the App store. That way, any 3rd party binary would have to use another name, thus not confusing anyone.
alecsmart1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can you please elaborate what you are looking to achieve?
mobiplayer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wasn't this the "issue" with qmail and djbdns?
Ask HN: Simplification of multiple payment processors?
5 points by namuol  1 day ago   3 comments top 2
LeBlanc 1 day ago 1 reply      
ActiveMerchant is a good one for Rails: http://activemerchant.org/

There are a few for Django, but none that I know of that have the full range that ActiveMerchant does.

Another option is to look for processors with an iframe solution like Stripe Checkout or WePay Iframe Checkout (I think PayPal used to have one but they may have killed it). The nice thing about these solutions is that they take care of 100% of the payment form and annoying stuff like AVS, luhn validation, error response handling, etc.

Good luck! Payments is hard.

namuol 1 day ago 0 replies      
Other thoughts: A good example of the sort an ideal end-result would be how something like the Humble Bundle handles payments.
Ask HN: Can you help me choose a JS framework?
5 points by brfox  1 day ago   5 comments top 5
poissonpie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another vote for AngularJS. It is simply awesome.

You'll have a couple of hurdles when working with Django because they both use {{ }}. Using the Django {% verbating %} to enclose your Angular worked well for me. Also if you rely on $resource in Angular, it removes slashes from urls so sometimes it's easier to resort to $http or escape your slashes.

Couple of references:




mjhea0 6 hours ago 0 replies      
i also have a background in python - django and flask - as well as data analysis. i am currently learning node at the moment. powerful stuff. javascript front and back. i couple it with express.

i am getting ready to draft a blog post on working with node/express/ajax which you may be interested in.

a buddy of mine uses the same setup for all his phonegap apps. they not only look amazing, but they are fairly easy to put together.

best of luck.

SEJeff 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you know jQuery well, you will be right at home with knockout. If you want to learn a slightly "better" way with a much steeper learning curve, build it with angularjs. Angular was built essentially to prevent the callback hell you get in large jquery peojexts
brandoncordell 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been dabbling in Ember.js, and with version 1.0 it's really coming together. I highly recommend at least checking it out. Now, it seems to be aligned with Rails as far as conventions and ideology, so I don't know if being a Python/django guy would be a hinderance.

Good luck! The landscape of javascript frameworks is MASSIVE.

ericthegoodking 1 day ago 0 replies      

The good-Great framework-You will get things done quickly once you know how to use itThe Bad-It has a huge learning curve, expect to spend few weeks before getting used.

Writing a Library for Building Mongo Aggregations
2 points by rschmukler  1 day ago   discuss
       cached 20 October 2013 20:05:01 GMT