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Show HN: Our little bootstrapped startup is powering CNN's ticker for NYE
110 points by randall  9 hours ago   31 comments top 18
belluchan 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How did you get CNN to know you exist much less use you? Did you have to tell them about your technology stack or do any kind of stability testing? Congratulations!
neebz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You have a team member in Karachi? That made me super happy !

Congratulations !

abstractbill 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice Randall, congrats!
jlees 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Congrats Randall! If you can answer, I'd love to hear a bit more about the unknown-guy-vs-major-broadcaster relationship :) Did you have any issues as such a small company dealing with a big giant like CNN?
eddieroger 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Impressive tech. Congrats on landing CNN, and thanks for the motivation.
nakodari 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As a fellow entrepreneur also running a bootstrapped startup, I have a question regarding the setup of your employees. Do you have offices in NM and Karachi, or do you have employees in these cities who work from home?

What channels and methods did you use to find them?

vyrotek 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice work! Cheers from another Utah startup :)
dtsingletary 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What sort of options do you have for curation, filtering? How do you find the wheat from the chafe?
graupel 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent Randall - congrats!
photorized 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats! How did you get CNN to work with you?
jakecarpenter 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome Randall, keep killing it in 2014!
jjacobson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey Randall! I've heard of Vidpresso! Congrats on the hustle. Team Wediges is super excited for you.
astine 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Great work!
calebhicks 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats Randall. Very cool. Here's to a great 2014.
huslage 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I had this same idea a few years ago after fighting with vizRT about something or other. Chyron was just as bad. Good job for doing it!
taylorhou 7 hours ago 0 replies      
hey Randall! our vision is also to change how video is produced! :p glad to see a fellow mario award winner doing well. we're about to announce a big ass customer as well. let's catch up. we're moving to LA...being in video and all.
asselinpaul 9 hours ago 0 replies      
rohancs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a serious move against someone like Mass Relevance. Super congrats, Randall! Would love to talk sometime :-)
Ask HN: What are your 2014 Predictions?
50 points by ChrisNorstrom  6 hours ago   39 comments top 24
gfodor 4 hours ago 3 replies      
- Stock market correction. Maybe a crash if Murphy's Law holds true and there is a sudden major unwind. Will have genuinely new characteristics. For example, you might see a selloff in "safe" dividend paying stocks and not tech, due to rotation of retirement funds out of stocks into fixed income. Another theory is you might see a panic out of financial stocks again once we see two quarters of downtrending inflation.

- Bitcoin will hit $5k at some point. No bitcoin crash in 2014. Dogecoin gives us a glimpse of the long-term role of cryptocurrencies: not really to buy physical goods, but to send micro-payments to people for micro-services from simple tasks to just making you laugh or giving you insight. As mobile devices permeate our lives (see the iBand below) this form of exchange becomes more natural. This dynamic gains more traction as additional means of "tipping" are made on various sites (though this term may not be the way it is presented.) Twitter might lead the way here, building in a feature that allows you to tip any tweet with bitcoins or maybe even dogecoins, as absurd as that sounds now.

- UST 10yr will close about where it is now, ~3%, maybe lower yield if we see deflation/disinflation. Muni bond crisis is overdone and spreads tighten, regained interest in fixed income for the retirement investment crowd as it becomes clear no inflation is imminent drive rates down. Talking heads start to posit that we're seeing rapidly increased productivity in the economy due to technology, and this means deflation and low GDP for a longer time than we ever thought. Unemployment stays high and talk of a living wage gains traction though is a pipe dream in the US. Rotation out of equities here contributes to the market correction. GLD ends the year down another 10-15%.

- Apple introduces iBand, thin glass wristband that serves as a paired device to your iPhone or iPad. It's a beautiful curved display that wraps around your wrist, and calling it a "watch" seems pretty ridiculous since it is essentially a display surface for apps around your wrist, not some boxed-off tiny square screen encased by a frame and held on by a "dumb" leather or plastic band like the pebble or gear. (The analogy here is blackberry is to iphone as pebble/gear is to iband.) No on-board processors, RAM, or storage, iPhone/iPad does the heavy lifting. Use cases include obvious things like mapping, reading messages, fitness, and maybe payments with integrated touchID. Tim Cook demos FaceTime on the wrist on stage and points how just how insane it is that we have a Dick Tracy watch. Nerds write it off because it lacks features the Pebble has, is too expensive, looks stupid, has poor specs, or can't imagine why they would use it when you can't type on it. Will have a novel charging mechanism, design, or technology that makes it natural and easy to charge when not in use. The motivation for iOS7's focus on depth, layering, and typography and classic print design comes into clearer focus on a small screen which the user views at many different angles in quick glances. Might use gyros to enable fine scrolling control or flick gestures with tilt of the wrist. It's a major blowout hit with huge margins for Apple at a relatively low price point (prob $400 max.) Becomes a major cultural status symbol due to customization options (color, finish, maybe even different options catered to men and women) and is immediately the most visible Apple product a person owns. As such is the most fashion-conscious product Apple has ever created. For people who own the iBand, looking back on a time where they had to dig into their pockets to read a text message seems backwards and ridiculous. Samsung apes it, poorly, in Q1 2015 for Galaxy Gear line. AAPL closes 2014 in mid $800's, low $900's, maybe a 10-15% haircut from there if wider market takes a beating.

- By end of 2014 Obamacare will be generally accepted as a Good Thing as people actually start saving money. More people quit their jobs and start companies in 2014 than expected because they no longer fear having to lose employer insurance. Democrats will be a lock for the midterms. Obama gets 2 years left without obstructionism.

- North Korea status quo maintained. Diplomatic progress on Iran as tensions cool. Ceasefire in Syria created, then broken, then created again.

- Google makes an autonomous vehicle surprise announcement of some sort, or announces a consumer robot, or at least a dev kit for robotics that is a leap forward compared to the status quo today. (No, you won't get your self driving car in 2014, but I think you'll be able to spend money on something from Google that has "Google Robotics" on the side.) Basically at the end of 2014 Google acknowledges it is a robotics company. Glass gets rejected by the youth but finds applications in industry, though this is just starting to become clear by the end of 2014. 2014 is year of the smartband, not the year of the smartlens. (That year will come though, and yes, Apple will break the design challenges first again I think.)

- Momentum continues to build around the Oculus and awareness of its wider implications. The horse will still be in the barn in 2014 but it will be making some serious noise.

looking forward to checking back here in 2015 :)

rdl 5 hours ago 2 replies      
1) Actual international-conflict geopolitical risk will not bubble over in 2014. Stupid saber-rattling in Asia, insurgencies and wars in Africa, but nothing critical.

2) Security/privacy will become something normal people and businesses ask about, and ask fairly superficial questions about, during many transactions (e.g. people are going to stop being fucking morons and just relying on "the cloud" for sensitive data without questioning it; they may still end up using the cloud, but will want to make a more informed choice.)

3) Snowden, Manning, and Assange will remain in the same positions on 31 DEC as they started on 1 JAN. weev will remain in prison. aaronsw

4) Zerocoin will launch, and will be a lot more interesting than Bitcoin to many Bitcoin early adopters. Alternative digital currencies which are NOT purely proof-of-work will also start to be interesting; not necessarily USD backed, but maybe equities, or debt instruments, or whatever. Some may be based on bitcoin. Either Open Transactions or a strippled-of-XRP form of Ripple, or something like it (blinded tokens). BTC/USD will remain between 250 and 2000 on 31 DEC, even if it has excursions. If I had to bet, I'd bet today's price/no net change as the most likely center (the "most likely" single price is of course 0, but plenty of other prices are also likely)

5) Apple will continue to slide into irrelevance; the vanguard of most-technical users will move away from iOS and OSX, if not Apple hardware, due to Apple anti-freedom policies

6) Someone will actually put together a credible packaged solution for secure CPE (wifi-wifi, wifi-ether), secure basebandless pda thing, secure laptop (a modified chromebook or something), server solution, and network services, in a way which can be verified down to the metal, for pro and enterprise/intl sales, at semi-sane price points (i.e. not Crypto AG prices)

7) A non-US location will emerge as a serious startup location specifically due to NSA/USG policies. I'm betting on Germany with German/Swiss arbitrage -- people living/working in Berlin on dev and ops in Switzerland. Maybe other non-EU/EU splits.

8) US mid-term 2014 elections will consist of "fuck the incumbents", independent of political party.

9) Yahoo will continue to slide into doom, and will be revealed to be the biggest collaborator among major non-financial, non-travel, non-carrier companies in the US. Alibaba will remain their only real value.

10) China will start to try to take the "moral high ground" on issues as a counterpoint to the US. It won't be universal, but it will hopefully cause US politicians (and electorate) to rethink things. They may offer to help in Afghanistan post US-withdrawal, in the same way they help in Africa today -- economic support, little political involvement.

igravious 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
A lot of predictions here with a US or tech perspective:

Like the Economist I see the EU succeed in putting more pieces of its banking union in place. This means large EU banks fall under ECB regulation rather than national regulation. This severs one link that exacerbated the crisis but stops short of full fiscal transfers between regions which means more pain for the less resilient economies.

In Europe and the US inequality will continue to grow as nothing has been put into place that reverses the socialism-for-the-rich policies and the part-capture of politics by finance. There will not be another Occupy movement but with unemployment holding stubbornly steady and people unsure whether this is down to the 1% or tech automation expect to see undirected anger at the wealthy and the tech industry.

The centre of economic activity continues to shift to the far east. China stays on course to become the world's largest economy within five years. Chinese companies become more visible globally following the lead of Japan and Korea.

It becomes obvious that higher learning is being radically re-shaped by online courses and content. The current education players (publishers/universities) that do not embrace this new landscape will face hard times. Institutions will only be limited by linguistic boundaries, not (geographical) national ones. Primary and secondary learning unchanged because kids must go to school while parents work and must go to school locally. Pretty good chance that computer programming is adopted as a core skill by more and more regions.

Areas of activity in 2014 will be Space, Solar, Gas, Biotech, Cybercurrencies (rivals to BTC will emerge this year), and the FOSS gets serious about federated (anonymous/pseudonymous/real name) social networks and secure private chat platforms.

In terms of conflict I think we'll get more of the same. War of attrition continues in Israel, settlement activity continues, no progress on peace. No significant development in Syria unless China/Russia do a volte face. Possible internal turmoil in North Korea due to purge and defections - N. Korean regime will eventually collapse as no malevolent dictatorship or tyranny has ever survived as such but calling when is impossible. As the Arab Spring has everything to do with the spread of enlightenment ideals and very little to do with internet technologies expect to see more demonstrations around the region and concessions like allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia and things like this but no government being overthrown. Iran pushes forward with its nuclear program (as do other petroleum states) and finds US/Israel to be implacable, as US withdraws from Afghanistan the likelihood of boots on the ground in Iran increases.

_random_ 1 hour ago 0 replies      
In-app purchases will be absolutely raping user's minds and wallets.

Virtual reality will make a strong come back. Steambox + Oculus combo will be quite popular among hardcore gamers.

There will be a growing disappointment in HTML5 not being able to provide proper mobile experience.

HTML5 spec will not be stabilized.

ancarda 2 hours ago 0 replies      
By the end of 2014, very few people have a smart watch.

Bitcoin continues to become more popular. Many physical places begin supporting the currency.

The UK government will start pushing for the porn block to be enforced for existing subscribers (not just new ones, as is the case now).

Low-end cameras are replaced by smartphones.

Linux's marketshare increases but remains relatively low. Steam OS has varying degrees of success. It's lack of mainstream professional games hinders adoption.

fauigerzigerk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
* There will be a major regulatory crackdown on Bitcoin in most countries due to money laundering concerns.

* It will become apparent that Apple's history is repeating itself. As mobile becomes commoditized, they will refuse to lower their prices and become a luxury niche player sliding slowly into irrelevance.

* Google will announce Go (golang) for Android.

* The U.S enonomy will grow fast at the start of the year and treasury yields will spike making the stock market and ultimately the economy crash. Next recession starting Q4 2014.

karolisd 2 hours ago 0 replies      
1. Apple won't release a new product category (like an iWatch). But they'll do just fine by having the best industrial design and hardware.

2. Bitcoin and other digital currencies will take the world by storm.

3. Google will make a major improvement in AI with Google Now.

4. There will be another SnapChat or Instagram like product that'll make communicating with phones fun in a new way.

5. The internet and social networks will continue to cause social upheaval in authoritarian nations.

6. Facebook will add auto-playing video commercials and people will hate them.

7. Low-end cameras will start dying off rapidly. There will only be phones and high-end professional cameras in the future.

8. As technology automates more and more things, it'll contribute to unemployment of people who are unprepared to be knowledge workers.

9. People will start taking MOOCs a lot more seriously as an alternative to higher education, especially in meritocratic fields. Not a big change in 2014, but it'll be more obvious.

10. TV will start feeling like print media in the face of the internet, it's inevitable.

pshin45 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There will be an exponential increase in Bitcoin pseudo-intellectuals in the media (and everywhere else, of course).
girvo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I predict I'll finish my HP 200LX clone running RetroBSD on the new PIC32 board that just arrived. I get an excellent web developing job working on interesting project(s). I finish my book. :)

And on the whole: 2014, year of the Linux desktop... Hey, I can dream, can't i?

speeq 4 hours ago 0 replies      
SpaceX will do a vertical landing of their Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage on land.
raldi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
xpda 5 hours ago 0 replies      
1. Stock market: up.

2. Economy (U.S. and world): up.

3. Political polarization: up.

4. Stupid-patent lawsuits: up.

5. World violence: down.

rokhayakebe 5 hours ago 0 replies      
We will see a one-man startup/app/product valued/acquired at north of $100M.
abainbridge 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Moore's Law remains halted. Nobody figures out how graphene will help. Programmers continue (see below) to move away from Java in favour of C to claw back some performance.

* See http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index....

notastartup 5 hours ago 1 reply      
- Coup d'tat in North Korea, with civil war between pro-democratic forces and loyalist forces. American, South Korean forces entering North Korea from the DMZ and Chinese troops entering from the Yalu river. North Korea is divided in half. China declares a large buffer zone, forcing South Korea to concede 25% of the peninsula. Japanese Self Defense Force clashes with Chinese Navy in a limited naval/air battle which results in Chinese loss. Both sides declare victory.

- Another dot-com bust. Facebook is delisted from stock exchange after share prices crash and investors lose confidence in rapidly declining user-base. Amazon crashes, Walmart takes over the space left behind by Amazon after being acquired. The idea of valuation from future profits in technology stocks is wiped out with the major market correction. Warren Buffet addresses it in his annual shareholder's meeting.

- United States announces return to the gold standard angering China as the treasury notes become worthless.Global recession many times bigger than the 2008 market crash soon follows.

- Bitcoin is made illegal as it is discovered the Founder of Bitcoin turns out to be Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road. Cryptocurrency is banned in United States and other nations follow.

DanielBMarkham 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
- No major changes in governments monitoring their citizens. Lots of intermittent hoopla. The story slowly fades.

- In the U.S., the Republicans, which have been mostly given up for dead, somehow make a comeback. Mainly because voters have no other choices

- Portable hardware continues to amaze. Tablets, music players, and cell phones are just the beginning

- More startup incubators kick off. At some point, folks realize that while there's not going to be a new SV any time soon, there are going to be a hundred 5% versions in the next few years

- Everybody agrees that Facebook loses it's mojo but has enough momentum that it remains a viable concern -- and will for some time into the future

- The EU continues to skate just ahead of monetary crisis. As the end of the cash infusion appears, investors get nervous. Very nervous.

- Economists continue to argue using calculus, making the rest of us sad that we ever taught calculus to those guys

- Saudi Arabia seriously begins a nuclear program (probably covertly)

- Israel does not strike Iran

- Japan makes it's first steps towards becoming a true regional military power again

- China makes another hamfisted attempt at regional hegemony, continuing to alarm the neighbors

- The politicization of science continues unabated

- Open Science gains a little ground, but not much

- Christmas Tree machines still remain a distant possibility. 3D printing doesn't make huge gains

- Every week we're told of a new amazing discovery in energy -- batteries, solar cells, air storage, thorium reactors, fusion by means of tea kettles. It's always tantalizing, we always say the same things about it on HN -- and it always never amounts to much

- Some major discoveries about cancer are made, probably along the lines of immune system modification as a treatment

Okay, that's all I got. Wonder how many I'll hit on?

kartikt 5 hours ago 2 replies      
People will start switching to Google+
Gustomaximus 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll shoot for;

1) We see a 'start-up' bubble form as sites like we funder open the mass market to VC.

2) Bitcoin has some big peaks and dips but ends the year overall on a reasonable up.

3) The US starts to feel inflationary effects from ongoing quantitive easing.

vitno 5 hours ago 1 reply      
webRTC becomes easily usable and almost fully implemented by the end of 2014.
TheAceOfHearts 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Bitcoin is overtaken by something else.

JavaScript continues to get faster.

Google Glasses gets released and we see them grow quickly, similar to how stuff like the pebble has been growing traction. 2013 was the year of the smartwatch. 2014 will be the year of the smartglasses.

2014 is the year of the Linux desktop with SteamOS!

Houshalter 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I am 100% sure the world will not end again.

Because if it does no one can call me on this prediction.

smtddr 4 hours ago 1 reply      
1. Litecoin to the moon!

2. This guy is going to be very wrong...http://www.businessinsider.com/williams-bitcoin-meltdown-10-... >> I predict that Bitcoin will trade for under $10 a share by the first half of 2014, single digit pricing reflecting its option value as a pure commodity play. Miners/speculators will be best served to acknowledge the meltdown has begun, act quickly and take fleeting profit off the table.

....or, if he turns out to be right I will buy $5,000 worth of BTC and be a millionaire by EOY 2014 when the price spikes back up.

3. Snowden leaks will reveal something super-duper-crazy-out-there; e.g. AIDS invented in a lab or 9/11 really was an inside-job. Something almost beyond believable like that.

4. Blackberry will shutdown, be acquired or start making enterprise security phones. i.e., Blackberry will be to the mobile phone market what box.com is to the file-sharing services market.

cleverbaker 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Micropayments go mainstream.
jbobes 1 hour ago 1 reply      
New Private Cloud era with cloud306.com
Ask HN: Making extra income with books
108 points by 1986v  22 hours ago   43 comments top 29
patio11 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote a book on software conversion optimization last year. It was an expanded, re-edited collection of essays I had previously written on the topic.


I published it through Hyperink, which is not a traditional publisher. They bring the software and editors (plus associated trades) to get the book put together, I brought the words. No advance, more equitable royalties than traditional publishers would offer, and they handle the mechanics of getting it into Amazon and whatnot.

I haven't run the numbers recently but recall selling somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,X00 copies. I haven't done the math on royalty payments for the year, but would ballpark them in the $5k range?

It would be, ahem, extraordinarily difficult to get a traditional publisher to greenlight publishing on as niche a topic. If I had, I would expect them to offer me $5k as an advance, as that is roughly market for first-time non-technical authors. (At the standard prices and royalty rates 2k units would not nearly earn out a $5k advance, which means that absent additional substantial sales I would expect to never receive any royalty payments beyond the $5k advance.)

I didn't publish the book primarily for economic reasons. If I had, I would have done something a bit closer to the Nathan Barry / Brennan Dunn / etc model. Prominent elements thereof: email marketing as a distribution channel, markedly higher prices ($49 vs. $9), multiple tiers (e.g. book @ $49, book + supplementary materials @ $99, book + supplementary materials + some interactive component at $249), and likely self-published 100% because I'd need more control over the pricing / marketing / etc than any publisher would care to allow me to have.

Other authors on HN have been extraordinarily generous at writing about exactly what is required tactically for successfully marketing books. I'd highly encourage you to read their posts / comments, as they will make it wildly more lucrative for you, if that is part of your reason for writing the book. If you just want the published author merit badge, traditional publishers are a way to get it, and they seem to be totally willing to financially exploit you in return for offering it to you.

lukev 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I have co-authored three books:

Practical Clojure (http://www.apress.com/9781430272311)

ClojureScript: Up and Running (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920025139.do)

Clojure Cookbook (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920029786.do)

Practical Clojure and Clojure Cookbook were/will be available in B&M stores though those are a relatively small fraction of sales. ClojureScript U&R is print-on-demand/ebook only.

In each case I wrote the books because I felt I had something to say, and was qualified enough to say it. Getting published was mostly a matter of being in the right place at the right time, when the publishers were interested in these books, and being introduced to a couple editors via coworkers and open-source acquaintances.

Niche tech books like this are not a good deal from a purely financial perspective. I make some money, but somewhat less than I would contracting for the time I put in to them.

They were very valuable or forcing me to gain mastery of a topic, and they are quite possibly the best thing I've done with respect to my career.

michael_nielsen 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm currently working on my third book, a book about neural networks and deep learning. Here's the first chapter:


It'll be free online once complete, but I raised money with an Indiegogo campaign (about 10k). I'm self-publishing, in part because I wanted full control over the book. This gives me the ability to experiment with in-text videos, and with other tricks. For instance, when a reader clicks on an equation reference in the text, the relevant equation appears in the margin, as a reminder. Clicking on the marginal equation will take you to the context in which the equation originally appeared. This cuts down on tedious back-and-forth.

My two earlier books were both published in the traditional way:

+ A book for general audiences about networked science, "Reinventing Discovery: the New Era of Networked Science": http://www.amazon.com/dp/0691160198 Published by Princeton University Press.

+ A textbook about quantum computing, jointly with Ike Chuang: http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Computation-Information-Annive... Published by Cambridge University Press. No e-book at all when first published (2000)!

Both were written with LaTeX, and included many illustrations. "Reinventing Discovery" was actually rekeyed entirely by the publisher, but the textbook was produced from our LaTeX copy.

Qworg 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'll give a "failure" story.

I was lead author for ebook/print book through Apress - _Hacking the Kinect_ - http://amzn.to/1aljFwQ

It was distributed in stores and online, as well as in ebook form. It has text, graphics, and code.

It generated not much past the initial upfront payment of ~$8000, spread across myself and 3 coauthors.


1) Niche topic, badly addressed. It was pretty hot at the time, but the number of people looking for a intermediate - advanced level text on 3D sensing was not as high as the number of people looking for "cool demo I can type in and make my SparkFun robot drive around a Coke can".

2) Published through agency. I appreciated Apress' work on marketing my book. Everything else I could have handled myself (and probably the marketing too). They also have tough terms - you have to be a knockout (4k+ units[1]) success in the technical book industry to really make money through publishers.

3) Bad print copy. The grayscale used for my book was too dark, blowing away some images. Apress did not want to fix this. I recommend the Kindle version to everyone I can.

Worth it? Yes. It is a great means to open doors and market yourself. Financially worth it? Not through a publisher.

[1] I can't cite this off the top of my head, but that's the number I recall from a few years ago.

mistermcgruff 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I just published a data science book:http://amzn.com/111866146X

I went through Wiley, which is a very traditional, large publisher (my editor is the same as Mitnick's and Schneier's). You seriously limit the royalty rate you're going to get this way, but you're going to extend your reach and marketing ability. So it's a balance, and you need to figure out whether reach or per-book royalties are more important. If you have a small audience and you know you can reach each and every reader yourself (maybe on Twitter or HN or Reddit), then self-publishing may be the way to go.

I chose Wiley, because the audience for my book is broader than most data science books (since it's spreadsheet based), and I wanted to get it in front of your average BI analyst perusing at Barnes and Noble.

The big publisher also did a great job with layout, the book feels great with its matte finish, I had two paid tech editors, a regular editor, a project editor, and a bevy of proofreaders. Big help, that.

But don't be mistaken...the onus is still on you to market the book as well. And it's going to take a lot of marketing to make this a viable career (or even a viable supplement to your income). It's an incredibly taxing way to make a living I'd imagine, and I'm super happy to have a great day job.

Rather, my reason for publishing was that I saw a need for the book, and I knew I could write it. And it took a full year from starting to get it out. So it took a year of hard work, and it'd be a miracle if I cleared twenty grand on it. Not the most lucrative endeavor, but extremely personally satisfying.

To answer some of your other questions, the publisher released in both paper and ebook. Pictures in the book were a real pain in the ass. I spent forever screencapping and re-screencapping spreadsheets. Ugh...

garrettdimon 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I self-published by selling online using Spacebox and Stripe. I only created a PDF, but am working on adding epub and mobi versions, mainly due to requests for a Kindle-friendly version. The book included about a dozen custom diagrams the tied into the text.

Along with the book (http://startsustain.com), about starting and running your own web app, I included a simple project task list and a rather involved spreadsheet for helping to estimate revenue and expenses and easily adjust them to see the impact on revenue. My results might be moderately misleading because this spreadsheet was a significant component of value justifying the price.

The book was all new content, rather than repackaged blog posts, and I sold the package for $99 with occasional sales of $79 and $59. Prior to launch, I built up an announcement list of about 1,600 interested people. I did a poor job marketing to those people beforehand, but instead just sent out a single launch announcement.

It's been available for about 9 months now and sold over 500 copies for a total of about $45,000. I spent about $3,000 up front for cover design and editing.

bdunn 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I self-published both of my books, and originally fulfilled orders through ejunkie but now use Infusionsoft. Revenue is a little over $50k for each book (and growing), and each took about a month to write.

I really look at my book as paid lead gen for my more premium products. Take a look at my annual report for the year which outlines how I funnel customers through my products: http://planscope.io/blog/how-i-changed-the-world-in-2013/

ivan_ah 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Exactly one year ago, I launched my No bullshit guide to math and physics textbook on HN. After good initial traction and good sales, I decided to start a company around the book and work on writing/selling books full time.

- The sales happen mainly through the website http://minireference.com/, which links to the lulu.com for print and gumroad.com for PDF. I also made consignment deals with 4 bookstores to sell the books.

- I have just a PDF-eBook and distribute in only through gumroad.com. Working on getting the epub right, but it is tough with all those equations. Haven't played with Kobo-zon-nobles distribution yet.

- I have a lot of illustrations and diagrams in the book, but not much pictures. Some readers have told me this gives the book a very "dry" look and people would want more visually intensive.

The revenue for this year is ~17k = (9k print, 8k PDF). Hm... I thought it would be more, better do more marketing ;)


Here are some general advice and observation about the business.

1. Self publish. You are not likely to generate lots of sales initially, so keeping good margins is very important. lulu and gumroad are excellent for that.

2. Put in extra effort on copy-editing. A typo in a blog post is excusable, but a typo in a book is considered outrageous by many. You don't want pissed off readers. Also typos make you lose credibility.

3. It takes time. I had written over 100 math/phys tutorials before starting to work on the book and it still took me 1y+ to get it into a decent shape.

4. Have a website. Have a mailing list. Give lots of chapters for free as promo. Last but not least, try to get a swearword in the title ;)

zrail 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I self-published my ebook Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails[1]. I wrote about my experience and income a month after launch on my blog[2] (hn comments[3]). Current total revenue is ~$19k, averaging around $2k per month.

[1]: https://www.petekeen.net/mastering-modern-payments

[2]: https://www.petekeen.net/adventures-in-self-publishing

[3]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6320333

cruise02 21 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a new Stack Exchange Q&A site for ebook publishers and readers. http://ebooks.stackexchange.com/ Once you decide what you want to do, there might be some related information there.
brohee 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Make sure to read Charles Stross' Common Misconception about Publishing, that does a great job of explaining the industry.


robfitz 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The Mom Test book (how to talk to customers when everyone is lying to you)[1] sold roughly $5k in preorders and another $10k since launch ~4 months ago. Probably 50% of that has come from speaking gigs where the event bought a bunch of books instead of paying a speaking fee.

It's on Amazon[2] as a paperback via createspace[3] print-on-demand and as an ebook via gumroad[4]. Both platforms have been great.

It took 10 months part-time from first words on paper until the finished book was in people's hands. Editing was the most painful part and took 3 months. I did the first draft on paper, and the revising in scrivener[5], which also handles exporting to all the ebook formats.

I made illustrations for it, but left them out since the layout was taking more time than it was worth and I wanted to ship it.

Incidentally, I'm also working on a book landing page generator called heylookabook[6] . I'm building in some of the marketing best-practices that I learned from working on my own, so it's there if it's helpful!

[1] http://momtestbook.com[2] http://www.amazon.com/The-Mom-Test-customers-business/dp/149...[3] http://createspace.com[4] http://gum.co/momtest[5] http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php[6] http://heylookabook.com

SuperChihuahua 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Ive published a biography about a guy called Elon Musk (https://leanpub.com/theengineer). I self-published it through leanpub.com. The good thing with leanpub is that their service will automatically generate pdf/epub/mobi files from one main file so you will save time if you need to make a change. The point of leanpub is that you can improve the book as you get feedback from your readers, so my plan is to collect feedback before the big launch at Amazon.

But don't think it's free money - it's still takes a lot of time to write it and it's still difficult to spread the word about the book.

liamcarton 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I wrote The Kubic Kat as a standalone SciFi novella, and decide that it would be best to give this way free, in the hope that it would garner traffic to my start-up website, and interest in escaping surveillance. (http://www.tribalcontact.com)

I put it on Hacker news, but it sank without a trace, and yielded 0 comments, and very few downloads. Facebook, twitter, and Google+ have made up 30% of downloads, and Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/392425) most of the remainder. As long as you are on the front page you get good traction, but discoverability is poor.

Indeed, this is the biggest issue I know of. If you can put the book in front of people you can get good metrics (30% of all views led to downloads). But finding a way to get those views is very hard.

mooreds 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote a book on Cordova CLI (a niche within an niche): https://leanpub.com/developingwithcordovacli/ Cordova is the open source version of PhoneGap, which lets you build mobile apps with js/html/css).

It was an ebook, written with Leanpub (very cool publishing platform for ebooks.

I didn't investigate other distribution platforms; I'm just using leanpub--they take care of all kinds of things (refunds, shopping carts, distributing updates to the ebook if/when I publish them) that I didn't want to. They have a pretty nice royalty structure, but you then have to do the marketing yourself.

I created a couple of graphics myself. I think they add something to technical books.

Income: I think I have made 250 bucks since October. Fun to make some money, but obviously not paying the bills.

One thing I didn't see you mention is: how do you market the book? This is a very important thing to think about. Far more important, in my opinion, than the questions you asked.

robbiea 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm planning on my ebook at the end of january (http://firemeibegyou.com), based on a post I wrote that was #2 on hacker news (Fire Me, I Beg You) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3837264

I am not going with a traditional book format (at least not initially).

It is an ebook, and I will not be using a publisher. I'll be using it on my own website via gumroad. I really got a lot of my motivation from Nathan Barry & Brennan Dunn.

For this book, I"m going with all text.

When I publish it, I'll do a recap of income generated.

*also, the prices on my page are not accurate. I will be changing those shortly. It's just a landing page now.

mhartl 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The Ruby on Rails Tutorial (http://railstutorial.org/) has been a successful product business (six figures per annum), and in fact I've recently taken the core publishing technology and turned it into a platform called Softcover. It's currently in private beta; sign up for an invitation here:


As part of developing Softcover, I plan to write more about the details of making and publishing the Rails Tutorial (including a more detailed discussion of revenue numbers) starting some time next year. Stay tuned.

ptwobrussell 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I took to some time earlier today to share some of my own anecdotal experiences in writing 5 books for O'Reilly Media over the past 5 years in a post entitled "5 Questions for Aspiring Author-Entrepreneurs" - http://wp.me/p3QiJd-53

The questions that I examine are these:

* What are your motives?

* How long will it take?

* To self-publish or not to self-publish?

* Is it a project or a product?

* What is its expected shelf life?

The post is about 2,500 words and the tl;dr is that you should seriously consider thinking of yourself as an author-entrepreneur and thinking of your book as a startup. One other post (from back in August) is also in the book-as-a-startup category and talks about some of the lessons I learned in writing a 2nd Edition of a book that was already somewhat well-established - http://miningthesocialweb.com/category/book-as-a-startup/

Would be glad to chat more if I can be of any help to you. I'm easy enough to find as ptwobrussell just about anywhere.


triberian 22 hours ago 2 replies      
If one does something and he does if often and with passion he definitely has something to write about.

I started writing and finished https://leanpub.com/Privacy_in_Digital-Era still waiting editor to finish and after repairs it goes online.Published are http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFGSB3K and https://leanpub.com/opensourceencryption

Digital editions for now, print is planed and should be available in month or so.

For writing i would recommend https://leanpub.com, great platform you write in markup and it creates .mobi, .epub and .pdf formats.

After that there is publishing and marketing.Main one's are amazon and apple, smashwords, lulu, nook, kobo etc.Marketing is something i still work on ;o)

Established writers get more revenue which is pure logic by itself, one book is not enough.Extra comes with time, good luck.

mast 17 hours ago 0 replies      
For a long time, I had been hearing that bloggers should create ebooks or other "info-products" if they want to generate any meaningful income. As a result, I've recently launched an experiment; a small book with tips for storing fresh fruits and vegetables (http://foodconstrued.com/products/storing-fresh-fruit-and-ve...). Definitely not your typical HN content.

It is a simple downloadable PDF and includes text and photos. I'm currently only selling via e-junkie.

It's been less than a month since I created, so I'm not yet ready to say if the experiment was successful. I found the process of writing enjoyable, so I might try another one this year.

snookca 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote a book a couple years ago called Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS. I self-published in PDF, epub, and mobi formats. I also had the book on Amazon for awhile through the Kindle program and also have it available through pragprog.

I went ebook to start and then added a print version which I print up with a local printer in batches of approximately 500 at a time. I've since had the book translated into French and Japanese.

I've generated approximately $60k in revenue this year alone, not including revenue from Amazon or Pragprog, which were both relatively minimal in comparison.

ozim 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There is http://writers.stackexchange.com/ maybe you can find something interesting there also.
brohee 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Books look more like a marketing tool for a consulting activity to me than a dependable source of revenue. And good books are a labor of love more than anything else.
joachimhs 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I am currently writing Ember.js in Action (http://manning.com/skeie). This book is, of course, through a traditional publishing company. Combined with the fact that this is my first technical book, my royalty rate is pretty low (10%). This is OK, as the book will reach a wider audience that I would on my own! So far, the book is approaching 2000 units in pre-sales (MEAP - Manning Early Access Programme), which make it the 5th most sold Manning MEAP of 2013 :)

I have started work on my next book project, which will be completely free and open sourced. This book will teach JavaScript programming to kids through building a Raspberry Pi powered remote controlled car (or or other vehicle). The content for this book is not yet available online and most of it will be created through a hands on 7-part course that I am teaching during the spring of 2014. You can find a bit more information about this book here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/open-source-programming-bo...

brandg 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I write fiction, which is a totally different beast from the non-fiction stories you'll find here. Also, I self-publish, so that's even more niche. Still, here's the thousand-yard view of sales.

My first book was sold on Amazon, and podcasted for free on Podiobooks.com. The initial sales were enough to make my car payments for about a half year. Around that time, Amazon made some changes to their ranking, and I dropped in sales by about half. Subsequent books have had the same results (big first few months, but only about a hundred or so per month).

The way you make the most of that is by writing more, and all the normal marketing stuff that you can find online (build an audience). I'm a big fan of Podiobooks.com because, even though it's a bear to do a full audiobook for free, their audience is fairly large and devoted.

As art goes, I was lucky in that I met with a Hugo-award-winning artist (Cheyenne Wright, Girl Genius) who liked my work enough to help me out with covers. I commission each work with him, and he's been a great help to me there.

In case you're interested, here are my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Gamblin/e/B003P4CEFM

Procrastes 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I coauthored a book on Radio Frequency Identification[1]

My Co-Author and I probably made about $10,000 each over the years. We would have made more working a minimum wage job during the time we spent writing, but the learning, friendships in the field, public attention and discussions were priceless career builders for each of us.

  * Traditional publisher (online and in stores)  * O'Reilly created the Safari ebook edition  * A large number of graphics
1. Glover, Bill and Bhatt, Himanshu. RFID Essentials. O'Reilly Media 2006. Print, Safari Books online. http://rfidessenstials.com

softworks 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm currently writing a book on Django development. Been working on it for 3 or 4 months with another 3 months to go. It's self published but I hooked up with the guys at RealPython for help with marketing and what not. Currently we are running a kickstarter for the book. The link is:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/721054906/real-python-ad...
DanielBMarkham 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I put together a series on Agile Software Development, basically what to do after you've decided your team needs a ScrumMaster: http://tiny-giant-books.com/scrummaster.htm

Mixed results. I'm happy with the project. It's probably returned somewhere around 5-10k, but it was a LOT of work. For this particular niche and topic, I've decided the communication channel is actually more valuable than the product.

I'll probably go at it again. I have a couple more in the series. The next one will be much more encompassing and the marketing more integrated.

There are some great HN resources for this kind of thing. I think you need something to say first, though. There are a lot of folks who are looking at the money first, the tactics, the strategy, and then the content. That's backwards. The startup ecosystem wants to pitch you the money you could make, then sell you a package of tactics. Not a good road to go down in my opinion.

orionblastar 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote a book on neurochips in 2003. Could not find a publisher to help me publish it. I turned it into a sci-fi novel with a character based on the name of this account. I tried to self-promote my book and writings with that name all over the Internet.

After I could not find a publisher, I self published on Amazon Kindle in 2010 and sold thousands of Kindle books.

In 2013, they had invented a neurochip, and then these cyberpunk, conspiracy, and transhumanist forums would link to my Kindle book as an example of the abuse of a neurochip. I got luck and others started to promote my book for me.

It was so popular that I started up two websites to support the book as a 'company' used in my book for part two:


The main character Orion, works as a programmer for a medical company. He is programming surgical tray tracking software, and then learns his coworker and manager are doing something else with the code. It is being used a track people with neurochips. His coworker poisons him after his manager fires him and he gets suicidal and ends up in a hospital were he meets Karen who had worked on the neurochip to help out her brother who has schizophrenia, but she learned they were using it for something else, so they did the same thing to her that they did to Orion. Orion is mentally ill and Karen is not, and Orion benefits from the neurochip but finds they left in his debugging backdoor in the code and gets in and finds out there is hidden code for death and unconscious functions. The N-Chip law is passed forcing the mentally ill and people with a criminal record to have neurochips implanted into their brains to control they negative thinking and negative behavior. The US government is controlled by a megacorporation who used two shell companies as a front to develop this tech to enslave people, and have something that replaces the smartphones and tablets. First they have a law passed that forces the neurochip on the mentally ill and people with a criminal record to test it out, and later the neruochip 2.0 will come out as a new way to communicate using wireless networks and hearing audio in your head and seeing video (telepathy via technology).

My problem is that I have a mental illness of my own that damaged the language part of my brain and I get past and present tense mixed up and botched some of the dialog and words. It is an original story and has a lot of interest, but I got nobody willing to help me edit it to make it better. It is only a 99 cent short-story and the Atopia Chronicles came out later with smarticles instead of a neruochip that is a better written story.

All I can say is don't give up writing, get a focus group of beta testers to read your book and find the errors in it before you self-publish it. If I had done that, I'd have a better source of income.

I got someone who wants to turn it into a comic book with his comic book startup, I met him on Reddit, but he cannot find any artists willing to draw the comic and like me he has limited income.

Orion modifies the code in the neurochip to improve his memory and download information off the Internet directly into his memory. There is a lot he can do with the chip I haven't gotten into yet. I've been mentally sick, my father died in 2010, and I got into a deep depression. Best I could do was design some websites to support the book, before I can write part 2. I wrote most of part 2, but Word 2010 crashed and corrupted it, so I had to start over with Libreoffice.

I am helping a few people in my area, all they can afford is a $100 Windows XP laptop without MS-Office so I load LibreOffice or OpenOffice.Org and help them learn it and self-publish to Kindle. So even if you cannot write your own books, at least offer your services to others in your area to help them out with their books. I get mostly English teachers who don't know how a computer works, and I train them to a level of writing on a word processor, printing, and saving in RTF, DOC, and ODT formats and exporting to PDF and uploading the DOC to Kindle, Smashwords, Lulu, Nook/Kobo and others.

Tell HN: Happy New Year
63 points by chirau  8 hours ago   31 comments top 28
jgh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So far people are wishing a productive new year. You know what? Screw that. You deserve a break, HN. Take some time to yourself. Go on a vacation. A long one. Spend some time with your wife. Or husband.

You guys are always so goddamn productive it makes me feel unproductive, and I have a full time job, a side project, and a wife who puts me on a very busy social schedule. For once take it easy and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Seriously HN, sometimes you anger me, sometimes you entertain me, but mostly you guys amaze me and you all deserve a bit of a vacation. Tell your boss I said so.

aegiso 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The autistic coder in me never understood why we paste printf("Happy New Year\n"); readline(); at the top of every conversation during the holidays.

But for once I'll follow protocol. Happy new year, HN!

zdw 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't this have been posted at 0 GMT?

Or has doing time math gone to my brain...

huragok 7 hours ago 0 replies      
To each reader I hope you a productive, hackin' new year!
Moto7451 6 hours ago 0 replies      
No way man, here on the left coast you'll have to tare 2013 out of our cold dead hands!

... for another 60 minutes anyways.

Happy new year!

closedanger 3 hours ago 0 replies      
You have done more to bring us to the fore-front of understanding code and current events. I appreciate greatly you helping me to see the mighty geekAVerse in all it's Glory!
revx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year to you as well :
thisisdallas 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy New Years hackers. Here is to a year full of productivity and learning!
jloughry 6 hours ago 0 replies      
New Year's Resolution: to get the leap year conditional right this time.
YZF 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy New Year. Have more fun this year!
yaddayadda 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's wishing that 2014 is your best year yet!
grogenaut 7 hours ago 0 replies      
HN: Disrupting New Years Day 2014 since New Years Day 2014/01/01:00:01
whyrusleeping 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy New year's everyone! make the best of it!
Reltair 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Let's make the most of 2014!
chirau 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Any 2014 wishes for HN headlines, improvements, milestones, technologies and hacks?
rjim86 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year everyone ..
madisonmay 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Same to you!
Rzor 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy New Year, guys.
pawn 7 hours ago 0 replies      
gnuwilliam 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year, HN! :-)
dragon1st 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy New Year, HN!
Bocker 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy New Year HN :)
rob22 5 hours ago 0 replies      
izolate 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Hacker New Year
cleverbaker 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year!
waitingkuo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year :)
mvista 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year!
slothguy72 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy new year!
Happy New Year Hackers
10 points by JT123  11 hours ago   4 comments top 4
igorsyl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Shenzhen, China
optymizer 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Boston, MA
simlevesque 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Montreal, Canada
65a 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Mountain View, CA
Ask HN: How do you focus?
39 points by infinitebattery  12 hours ago   45 comments top 36
YuriNiyazov 11 hours ago 1 reply      
If I'm having a day where I am not getting much done, I stop trying. I close and leave the laptop and my phone at my desk, take a notebook and a pen, and go to the local library, where I sit down and write for an hour or two a discussion of why I am not getting anything done, and what I can do about it. The next time this happens again, I repeat the process, except I also reread the entry (yes, you need to keep the journal around) from the last time, and see if there's any patterns.

Leaving all your electronics behind, taking an old, analog medium (pen, paper) and going to a place where people are required to be quiet (library, not office, not coffee shop, not co-working space) is essential to the process of figuring out what's distracting you.

sdfjkl 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I remove the distractions. Quit email, IM, IRC, work from home in a quiet place. Few people have my phone number, and they know not to call me unless their hair is on fire. The right kind of music can help too.

If I'm struggling to focus, I do some exercising, go for a walk (sunlight helps) or just take a break away from the work and come back refreshed. If I'm still struggling, I just give up and start again the next day (where possible - deadlines are a good motivator too, but not if overused). If I can't focus because I'm tired, I take a nap. I reserve caffeine for emergencies ("must get this done today") and with a two week cooldown afterwards (you'd be shocked what caffeine can do for you in a pinch if you haven't built up a tolerance from constantly abusing it).

Most importantly, look at what you're doing. I have little trouble focusing on something I want to do. It's the tedious bits that I struggle with, and so if I find something like that, I try to eliminate it as much as possible. This means picking your projects/clients/job carefully, and not rating money as top priority.

euphemize 11 hours ago 1 reply      
No social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I think that's at least half the battle.

Good advice from YuriNiyazov too. "If I'm having a day where I am not getting much done, I stop trying.". I think it's important to pick your battles. You won't be productive 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

kabdib 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I take a walk, or a nap. On a bad day I may try to work on something else for a while.

Really bad days, I find that I've been reading HN or Reddit for hours, serially. Sigh.

My productivity is cyclical. There will be whole weeks where I'm utterly uninspired, I hate the world and it hates me, I don't want to go to work. I try reading. I try to remember that this will pass, and in a week I'll probably be a typing fiend.

I also play the practical joker. No pranks, as such, but leaving little signs around for people to notice is fun. I once wrote profanity in very small letters on the bottom of a hallway-length whiteboard (people were helping with that one). If you can rope one or two other people into a joke, that's fun (creative and only mildly destructive use of superglue, for instance...).

CurrentB 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always found some sort of sound blocking helps me focus, even in relatively quiet environments. I used earplugs almost 24/7 until it started I started having some issues with my ears and realized that's not really a good health practice. Since then I've been experimenting with sound blocking hunting ear muffs and noise isolating/cancelling headphones.

Also many years ago, I discovered this thing called Holosync which is some sort of binaural beats thing that's supposed to help your brain. After just checking the site now it seems really new-agey and psuedosciency and I'm not really sure if I would wholly endorse it. There are a bunch of different meditation "prgrams" that have a strict regimen, but then there's an epilogue CD with two tracks in particular (for Alpha and Theta brainwaves) that I just listen to on repeat and I've found help me immensely. Nothing else I've really experimented with has worked as well.

toufique 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I just don't obsessively check or respond to e-mail anymore.*

Peter Drucker had a great piece of wisdom: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

This implies that before we do anything, we should determine whether it's important enough to do. E-mail let's everyone bypass that filter and gives the world direct access to put unfiltered tasks on your to-do list.

Once I truly internalized that, it became much easier to focus on projects & tasks that I actively deemed important, instead of obsessively checking my inbox subconsciously hoping some life-changing email will appear.

* I still check my e-mail once or twice a day, and flag & act upon any related to my priority projects or people. They rest get left in the inbox unread. Inbox Infinity as opposed to Inbox Zero I suppose. On last count, I had over 2,000 unread e-mails: http://screencast.com/t/EC3VBAxmwM.I think the trick is to not let that bother you. There's no law that says inboxes need to be cleared regularly. It's a remnant behavior from the physical mailboxes overflowed and became unmanageable if left unkempt. However space is practically infinite in the virtual world, and you can search for any e-mail you need in your inbox whenever you need it. Therefore cleaning my inbox seems completely unnecessary. The only kind of cleaning I do is move e-mails to an archive folder every year, which reminds me...

ChristianMarks 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I change jobs. I don't have a Facebook or Twitter account. The televisions were trashed over a decade ago. My home page is my personal KanbanFlow page, modified to follow Mark Forster's Final System. It almost works.

I make sure not to overcommit myself. A study shows that scheduling has to be considered independently of effort, ability and experience. If I am not doing what I think I should be doing, I try to change the environment so that not doing what I should be doing is harder than doing what I should be doing. I don't believe that the exercise of willpower is any kind of solution. Its usefulness is limited largely to the minimum expenditure necessary to operate within the environment one designs to encourage work.

Also, I try to operate on a long time horizon. If something I do isn't going to have a discernible impact 10,000 years from now, I consider whether the opportunity cost is too high.

edo 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Stop trying to focus. Just do, or don't.

It may sound as silly advice; but it's the honest truth.The very fact that you are thinking about focusing when you are trying to focus; precludes you from actually doing it.

It's counter intuitive: Sit behind the work to be done, and truly accept whatever happens. Accept the fact that you might be unfocused or distracted. It's a sign that you aren't ready to work. Don't resist. Just either do, or don't.

joelhooks 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I work from home. We homeschool our 4 kids. My office is in common area in middle of 1700sqft house. I've got level 12 ignoring skills.
jph 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Focus@Will provides streaming music to help you focus -- https://www.focusatwill.com/

TED talk by the founder about focus -- http://www.tedxbrussels.eu/will-henshall/

jbl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
- Only work on something as long as I'm productive on it- When I stop being productive, it goes to the end of list and I pick up the next thing and repeat

For big tasks where procrastination might be more of a problem, I put something like "work on x for 10 minutes" and make it a repeating todo until the due date. That way I don't pressure myself into getting some big component done. I can make myself feel good about consistent progress.

I also found that diligently tracking my time on tasks has helped. Now I have a better sense, more or less, of how long common tasks take and can better gauge the time commitment before starting. Before I had data, I think I put off a lot of things or let myself get distracted because I thought something would take an hour when in fact it only takes 15 minutes.

khitchdee 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Thinking in rhythm can help you focus. You run a clock in your head with a rhythm pattern imposed on it. You create anchors in your short term memory at the start of the rhythm cycle that tell you what you're currently thinking about. If your mind strays while you're working, your thinking clock should keep running. Then you can remember your last anchor and return to that point to re-focus yourself on what you were working on before you strayed. Thinking in rhythm makes you more aware of the temporal aspects of your thinking. Over time, you begin to gain control over when you think.

For a more in depth discussion, see http://bit.ly/JIXwSf

MichaelDickens 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I close all unnecessary applications on my computer and put my work in front of me. If I need to use the Internet, I'll enable LeechBlock (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/leechblock/) (similar extensions exist for Chrome).

If I'm working on something that's particularly hard to focus on, I'll use the Pomodoro technique (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique) to keep my attention from deteriorating.

I make sure not to multitask. Multitasking makes it too easy to get distracted, and people aren't as good at multitasking as they think they are. Instead, I work on one important task at a time.

You may also want to try working in a public space such as a library. When people can see what you're doing, it makes it easier to stay off Facebook.

jlees 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Set a goal to do one small part of it in 5-10 minutes, then the rest usually follows. If it's a real struggle to get that small part done, examine why I 'need' to get it done in the first place. Deadlines are a huge motivator; I find external ones if the task doesn't come with its own.

Also, making tea or a latte before getting down to work can help me focus my mind, over time I've come to associate both of those activities with 'focus time'.

Edit to add: Isolating the task from distractions kind of goes without saying, but I find it helps to frame the distractions as much as the task. Why am I so compelled to go play game X, or read book Y, instead of the task at hand? Going a level deeper and figuring out what your brain's avoiding/being lured by has been really useful for me (especially while dealing with focus issues after a concussion).

kozikow 8 hours ago 0 replies      
My personal list:* Active noise cancelling phones and Mozart seem to help. I notice a big difference. I even don't like classical music, but it seems to help me focus better than other types of music.* Mindfulness meditation tends to help me focus even outside of meditation, especially in tasks that require sitting and thinking for >5 minutes about a problem, like maths or topcoder tasks . It literally makes me realise "oh crap, I am not thinking about the problem I supposed to be thinking". * I muted all sound notifications everywhere. Probably muting visual notifications would help as well.* Pomodoro technique * Get 100 grams of L-theanine with each cup of coffee. L-theanine is natural ingredient found in green tea. It removes jittery effects of coffee, while keeping high alertness. http://www.gwern.net/Nootropics#theanine . Modafinil is good as well.
rudyrigot 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My main distraction is noise, since I mostly work from home, and my home can be a rather noisy place sometimes (I don't live alone). The sound of the TV, for instance, can be anywhere from a nice background presence (like for a documentary) to an impossibility to work (like an action movie that tries very hard to catch your attention).

But one day, I tried this, and boy did it change my life! http://simplynoise.com/

I'm pretty sure this doesn't work for everyone and can get annoying to some people; but for me it was a revelation and solved a problem for good.

128K 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I have ADD/ADHD so it's very difficult. Some things might seem extreme to some people.

GTD - Getting Things Done is an invaluable book/workflow/system. The GTD workflow map helps if you're familiar with the system: http://ideas2followup.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gtd-workfl...

Objective--One thing often overlooked, undervalued, and even stressful is knowing that your focus is correctly directed. (GTD helps) This is a lot harder than it sounds, and usually determined by the most unqualified and biased person for the job; yourself. Mitch Hedberg explains it best: "I play the guitar, I taught myself how to play the guitar, which was a bad decision... because I didn't know how to play it, so I was a shitty teacher. I would never have went to me." Steve Jobs has an amazing technique to stay on top of this: I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Environment--Having literally nothing going on around me. No sounds, music, movies, TV, radio, people, moving objects, windows to stare out of, etc. Even voices in the next room that are basically inaudible distract me.Silence any possible notifications/apps/programs that distract you, and be anal about it. Recreational email/social usage is a time suck, for business purposes 4 hour work week goes into a system for appearing responsive while not being distracted.

Health--Diet and exercise matter. Meditation is important.Breaks are important. Most of the hardest problems I encounter are solved away from the computer.Going outside is very important. Ironically under health, one reason I loved smoking was the excuse to go outside. Without that excuse I have to force myself to remember to go outside, and always find some excuse not to. Find your excuse and/or force yourself.Wake up early.

Other stuff--Multitasking is a killer. If you have to multi-task make sure you move on only once the current task is completely finished/solved, and that you only create tasks that are broken down correctly into solvable chunks that don't require other outside input/action. Tasks that involve using the web should be done with one tab open only, and I try to avoid the habit of creating more tabs like the plague. Once I open more than one tab without fail I suddenly have 10+ tabs open (related to a task), and don't want to shut them for completely illogical reasons. I tell myself "I'll get around to this tab once I'm done over here" which almost never happens.

Self-sabotage is a killer, and can undermine any potential efforts you make. Find out why you're sabotaging yourself. This is a road that most people avoid travelling because it requires finding/embracing your mental/emotional problems, and is therefore best done by an independent third party. ("What mental/emotional problems?" I can hear you asking yourself.) Everyone has them, and it's usually something they'll completely overlook such as fear.

Have barely touched on everything I wanted to, but may extend it to a blog post someday.

timmins 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Lately, it's been a combination of removing distractions like IM, e-mail and the like. Putting on headphons and listening to Coffitivity. Then, I either grab a paper and pencil or tablet and stylus and sketch what I should be designing. I take components and use Vitamin-R (pomodora) and get working. If this seems to fail at any steps, I take a walk around the block with the expectation that there will be no delays when I return.
daemonk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't think about the work and just do it.

Often times you find an excuse to distract yourself because you think the work is tedious and annoying. So stop thinking about how annoying the work is and just do it.

Don't try to manage your tedium, don't use tricks, don't use any systems. Just sit down, tell yourself to stop whining and just attack the work.

Oh and modafinil. :)

lawlypop 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I normally try to get a few cups of coffee into my system, and start making a list of things that are most important to accomplish within the amount of time I have to work for that day. When I have a defined list of objectives, it makes it easier for me to try to cross things off the list. If that fails, I'll end up watching an episode or two of a tv show, playing an instrument or something away from electronics mostly so I'm not staring at the problem I'm blocked on.
ahugon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think going somewhere and having a built-in time limit imposes a "better make this trip productive" mindset that's pretty powerful. For example, I go to the super-quiet room in my school's library for a few reasons (some obvious):

1) It's super quiet -- no talking allowed, cell phones need to be off, so fewer distractions available.

2) Being surrounded by other people who are all getting work done => a good kind of peer pressure / vibe to channel.

3) A built-in time limit (library closes at 5pm) causes me to focus on getting things done so that I can feel like my excursion to the library was a productive one.

4) Somewhat counter-intuitively, switching from double-monitor home setup to single-monitor on-the-go laptop means that while I might not be able to do certain things as efficiently as I would otherwise, I am 100% focused on whatever single window is open on my screen at once!

codezero 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Go somewhere that isn't a regular habit of yours. At home you have certain patterns of behavior, the same at work, your location matters.

Find a neutral ground when you want to focus and use that location or ones like it as a way to both isolate yourself from common distractions of your normal surroundings, as well as to set the scene for your focus.

tunesmith 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Oftentimes inability to focus is because you didn't leave yourself a good starting point. Writers use this trick; they stop for the day when they are sure what comes next. So split it into two - sit down and spend a bit of time doing nothing but orienting - figuring out what you would do next if you were about to do it. Then when you've identified it, go take a break until you feel ready to start again.
jadeddrag 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Block distractions:

sudo bash -c 'echo " news.ycombinator.com" >> /etc/hosts'

nwg 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I set a one hour timer on my phone. The agreement with myself is that i will not stand up, not open a browser for something unrelated, not go to the bathroom, not speak to anyone, not listen to anyone, not do anything but focus on the one task at hand until the timer goes off. This can be planning or actually writing code, but i only work on the task.

By the time the timer goes off, i'm usually pretty immersed. The more i do it the less i use the timer, i just need it to get out of slumps.

And i don't start the timer unless i'm sure i'm ready to commit the hour. Deciding to commit alone helps me get rolling.

philfreo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
JeffL 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Music, Mountain Dew, and a Pomodoro timer. Can't get out of the seat if the timer is ticking.
hvd 6 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.pomodoro.me/ do stuff in chunks of 25 minutes of uninterrupted time.
jedanbik 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wear earplugs next to a running fan or white noise machine.
dharma1 9 hours ago 0 replies      
wake up early. Take a walk when you start getting distracted. Don't multi-task too much. Someties work with one friend in the same physical space on the same thing - you'll have expectations towards each other of seeing new shit getting done.
chromaton 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I find that playing a musical instrument helps calm the mind.
jMyles 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Marijuana and a medium-long walk.
Rhapso 10 hours ago 0 replies      
DragonForce at full blast.
danso 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Before cutting off all your social-media sites (including HN), there's intermediate steps you can take to break the kind of reflexive habits that crop up without discipline:

1. If I just want to limit the temptation to Tweet or post about something on some service, I just log out of it. I might still check the service to read some things, but not being able to participate or respond sharply limits the time I spend on it.

2. If logging out doesn't work because you reflexively log in, due to your password being auto-completed when you visit a website, change your password to your accounts to a long gibberish string and paste it somewhere in a text file. Everytime you want to log in, it's 2 to 3 extra steps to find that password. Usually that's enough for me to not care to try.

3. If you're on Chrome, StayFocusd is a great plugin:


You give it a list of sites to blacklist, which you can either limit the total time you spend on them or completely block them for an hour or two.


After that are longer term things...The Pomodoro technique is good...I use a static white noise app on my iPod and time it for 20-30 minutes, during which I don't even switch away from my coding environment for any reason (except for an emergency stack overflow lookup)

And meditation...it's hard to get into at first, but if you set a time for something short, like 5 to 10 minutes, it's not too hard to ease into. It's a great way to start off the morning because its a short, relaxing exercise involving discipline.

greesil 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Ear plugs, then gun-range earmuffs over that.
wilbertliu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wake up insanely early in the morning
Ask HN: How to increase self-discipline as a self-employed person?
311 points by desushil  3 days ago   116 comments top 43
awjr 2 days ago 14 replies      
Been working from home from the end of 1999 on and off up until the middle of 2012.

1) This http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGg1567fzTY almost posted anonymously). Deal with it :)

2) If you have a family or a partner. Just because you are at home does not mean "can you just put on a wash". Build rules into engaging with the family. You are working. You are not to be disturbed. If you choose to 'come out' of your office and engage with the family then that is your choice. Emergencies are acceptable interruptions ;)

3) Make an office. The kitchen table is not a great space. A spare room, an office in the garden. Some place where you can just be professional. Avoid having the office in your bedroom. You need a room you can lock.

4) Exercise. Seriously this is huge. Too easy to slob out. If you get up and work at 6am, then go to the gym at 9. Do something. Make sure people you work with KNOW this is your routine. Make it a routine. Get out of the house and do something. Do not buy an exercise machine and stay locked in the house. Clear your mind, stay fit, and go out and see the world around you. Don't like Gyms? Go running, swimming or, my favourite, cycling (it clears the mind and you can easily cover 10 miles while solving a difficult problem).

5) Get a dog :) Best decision I ever made. Get's you out and walking. You meet other people and mine keeps my feet warm. Oh and she's very good at solving technical issues. Sounds mad, but sometimes just talking about a problem to her makes it work for me (and makes me look less stupid when I have to discuss the problem with work colleagues).

6) Eat well. You have the time to make great food. Use it. Learn to cook great food.

7) Pomodoro method. Some like it some don't. (I'm not a fan.) I prefer things like coffitivity. If things start going south, try it. It's a decent rule system.

8) Skype. If there is a group of you working together, just skype each other and carry on working.

9) Socialise. Suddenly this is huge. Find local interest groups. Go to meetups. Get involved. You won't realise it, but you can get your head down and 3 months later you haven't seen anyone recently, cos y'know, work. Join clubs. Do stuff. Give yourself a reason to not be working in the evenings.

10) Monthly team days. Once a month get together and have a hackathon. Go get drunk. Be a team.

11) Use trello. I mean REALLY use it. A complicated example here http://community.uservoice.com/blog/trello-google-docs-produ... but build your own work flows that work with your team. Don't be afraid to tear down your process and start again AND most importantly, EVERYBODY buys in. Don't be the only person using a project tool. You will fail.

12) If you end up doing a 16 hour day, recognise you've done two days work. Have a reward. Go see a museum. Have a long lie in. Finish early and go for a ride. See (1) ;).

13) Have fun. Be comfortable in working on your own. Give it 6 months. See how it feels. Don't like it, then move on.

14) I may have mentioned this...exercise. Get out and do some every day. No excuse.

15) Requirements management. It's a pain to do, but clients try and be sneaky. Avoid fixed price unless you KNOW exactly what it is they want. Most don't and even those that do, change their minds. Your fixed price contract MUST include a change in requirements clause and what happens when they do. You will invoke it.

16) If your client is haggling over local sales tax....walk away. Imagine the pain you will go through haggling over signing each feature off.

17) Have payment milestones.

Right must go walk the dog :)

EvanMiller 2 days ago 5 replies      
I have to challenge the premise that most of the responders have taken, which is that working on a daily schedule is "better".

On the contrary, I find that my work habits are a lot like yours -- and I think that's a good thing! Sometimes I will be possessed by a coding demon and crank out work for days (weeks?) on end. Other times I will putter around watching TV or brainstorming ideas.

For me the whole point of being self-employed was to NOT have to show up to an office (or home office) and work 9-5 every single day. A creative human brain is a rare and marvelous creature, and we understand very little about how it works. I think the best thing to do is to let it run around and work when it feels like working, or read a book when it feels like reading a book. I personally find my creativity withers away under a strict work regimen.

If your work is not creative and you're just grinding it out for money every day, then by all means, follow the advice in the other posts. But if your work requires imagination and making unexpected mental connections, then don't worry too much about "efficiency". As long as you're thinking about something related to work most of the time, over the long run your real productivity will exceed that of all those poor saps who measure output as a function of mindless hours in front of a computer.

Embracing your "lazy" side requires a certain amount of courage, but if you can make ends meet while doing it, you'll be happier and end up doing better creative work. In any event, don't worry too much about how most people say they do things. Do what feels right to you. Good luck!

enobrev 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've successfully worked from home as a developer since 2001, most of which was in a 450 square foot apartment with roommates in a very noisy part of Brooklyn. Now I'm in a far more comfortable 2 bedroom with a view in Seattle with a separate bedroom as an office (and a door!), but my career was defined in that tiny shoebox of apartment.

First and foremost, boundaries are necessary. This is both for you and for the people around you. You don't have to explicitly work 8 hours in a row every day, but whenever it is that you choose to work every day, disruptions should be completely closed off.

This means if you have roommates, they need to know that when you're working, you're not listening and impossible to distract. For me, this has proven far more difficult with significant others who have lived with me. I have lost a couple long term relationships with women who did not understand this, and the woman with whom I'm now engaged not only appreciates this this very important invisible wall, but helps me maintain it.

Same goes for other outside distractions. It would be weird if your friends dropped into your 9-5 job and sat on the couch, cracked a beer and started playing video games, or if they called your office line every 20 minutes to try to convince you to head out for whatever might be going on. This same limitation needs to be set at your home. If necessary, maintain a separate lines of communication between work and personal life (phone, IM, skype, email, etc) to make sure that while you're working, you can concentrate on only communicating with work associates, and the opposite is just as important - when you're enjoying your life, leave work to your office space.

And if your home office is in a distracting neighborhood (as mine very much was when I was living in Brooklyn), turn some music on, wear some headphones, find a coffee shop, or rent some office space somewhere quieter. Depending on where you are, it's not difficult to find a company that happens to have an extra desk or two and is willing to rent one out at a fair price.

Give yourself a great office space that you look forward to spending your days in. Mine was a corner of a room that was sometimes also a bedroom and sometimes also a living room. But it was the most well kept at all times. Three monitors, a quiet and fast computer, a comfortable chair, interesting art on my wall, a great keyboard and mouse, a relatively clean desk, a decent coffee maker, great stereo system, studio-quality headphones, high speed expensive internet, and a giant roll of paper with some markers that I could brainstorm or play with whenever necessary.

I've read some other great responses here about exercise, and eating right and so on. I agree with all of the above, but I didn't bother with such things until the past 5 years. I never exercised, I worked stupidly long hours (occasionally 36 hour days), I ate crap, I partied at all hours, and I'd never set a schedule. I began changing a lot of that in the past five years or so. I now limit myself to 16 hours in a day (but usually keep my limit to 8) and I exercise more and I eat better. But I do those things because I turned 30 and realized 9 years of random debauchery and no exercise do not do much for ones health and figure. I'd be a liar if I told you I did that during the most crucially defining portion of my remote career.

As for the Real Motivation. All of the above and all the advice in this thread, and all the advice I've read elsewhere (and mostly ignored) about remote working have no competition with this one single point. What has motivated me more than anything in the world: Challenging Work at High wages. I always needed at least one of the two or the project would definitely fail, but having both ensured that I'd always find the time, energy, and space to get the work done well, efficiently, with great communication. The office space didn't matter. The noise didn't matter. The schedule _Definitely_ didn't matter. I was unstoppable provided I had Work that I couldn't possibly tear myself away from and a sizable check at the starting and finish lines to help keep my life in order.

Good luck.

was_hellbanned 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Unlike my previous job where I had to work 9-6 ... sometime I work for a continuous 16 hours and then sometime I find myself I haven't looked at that project in the last two days ..."

I think that's actually really natural, and mimics the patters people were in before industrialization.

Even when I was doing corporate work, that's very much how I ended up actually getting things done. Sometimes it takes hours and hours to wrap my head around some API and make the mental connections, at which point I'll just keep coding until I run out of juice (typically the point when I realize I'm just making errors, coding in circles, and resorting to random edits). The annoying thing in the corporate world is that you can't just spend most of the next day in bed, or on a hike. Instead, I'd work extremely hard one day, then slack off and browse the Internet the next two days, and maybe fix some trivial bug for the sake of a logged checkin.

In my current system, I would say my most valuable habits are:

1) Cardio. My goal is to do 15 - 30 minutes of HIIT every morning. In reality, I end up doing it a few time per week. :-) Honestly, nothing gets me energized and motivated like doing consistent cardio. Two weeks of 30 minutes every day? No depression, constant motivation, sex drive, etc. Incidentally, forcing yourself to do this somewhat uncomfortable act regularly is itself a way to develop discipline.

2) Pomodoros. Once you start forcing yourself to work in focused intervals, you start to realize that you don't actually work that much every day, which is rather liberating.

3) Task estimation. I break down tasks by the number of anticipated hours, then check off every Pomodoro (effectively 1/2 hour) next to the task. Ineffective estimation has been both massively demotivating and very eye-opening. My estimation and attention to detail in analysis has improved significantly from forcing myself to do this. It's also easier to force myself "into the mood" for coding when I'm actually reasonably sure that I only have to do 1.5 hours of work, then I can go play.

4) Block all attention drains in my hosts file. HN, Reddit, etc.

mikemaney 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked from home for the past 6+ years. I started with several of the routine recommendations below (all good). What I've found over time, however, is that the routine route is -- in most cases -- simply a transfer of traditional office culture to a work environment that is anything but.

My recommendation: embrace flexibility.

Man-made time constraints are no longer part of your world (outside of deadlines). Technology no longer requires that you are chained to a desk. Shake things up to stay fresh. Don't let yourself think 9-5, 5 days. Your life is now 24x7, 365 and you are in control of how you use those hours.

That said, there are some spot-on recommendations here by others based on my experience:

* Exercise. I've taken calls on 50mi bike rides and from roadside taverns. Helps to have a buddy you can draft off during the calls.

* Nutrition. Laptop on counter. Work. Cook.

* Standing desk. You'll find yourself moving around a lot more rather than slouching in a chair and never leaving your monitor. On that, if you have the means, spread devices around your house. Mix up your screen time.

* Get up early. This one took some time, but is perhaps the biggest thing you can do. It jumpstarts everything.

* Sunday night scheduling. I believe it was Tim Ferris' 4-hour workweek that started this. Sunday night, write down what you want/must accomplish over the next week. When it's done, it's done. Doesn't matter whether it's Tuesday or Sunday.

* IM. IM. IM. Some see random IM conversations as interruptions to be avoided. They aren't. They are your watercooler, your vent, your muse. Embrace them.

Good luck! It's a great adventure.

lisper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maintaining self-discipline while being self-employed is related to but not quite the same as maintaining self-discipline while working from home. My advice would be to achieve clarity on which of those two is really the issue, and if it's the latter, then do one of two things:

1. Find a co-working space and go there to work.

2. Failing that, mark the start and end of your work day in some semi-formal way. When I was managing a team of people working from home I instituted the following policy, which seemed to work really well: when you decide it's time to "show up" for work, send an email to the team saying, "I'm in", and a one or two sentence description of what you're working on that day. When you're done for the day, send another email saying, "I'm out" and another one or two sentence description of what you actually managed to get done. Just that little bit of structure made a huge difference. If you don't have a team, then collect a group of other self-employed-working-from-home people to be mutually accountable to. Even just sending such an email to yourself might help. The act of actually writing things down activates different neural pathways than just thinking about things and so makes a difference in your mindset.

edw519 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is what has worked for me for 28 years:

1. Establish a standard daily routine. Follow it every day, Monday thru Friday, without exception. This is the key. This is what you must do every day, whether you feel like it or not. Weekends can be different.

Mine (yours should be whatever works best for you):

  06:00 - work out  07:00 - breakfast at desk, email, internet  07:30 - start work, short break every hour  12:00 - lunch (at desk or go out)  13:00 - continue work, short break every hour  17:00 - start nightly crons, LOGOFF!  17:00 to 20:00 - dinner, family  20:00 to 22:00 - my time, including logging back in
2. Have a dedicated work space. The desk & computer should be used ONLY FOR WORK. If you can, have a second computer for personal. Your work computer should be in a separate room with a door that closes.

3. DO NOT surf the internet, text, chat, or use the cell phone (except for work)! This is absolutely critical. If you break this rule, you will never have a boundary between work and !work.

4. Before you go to sleep write down exactly what the first thing you're going to work on the next day. The rest will follow.

(EDIT: Check out all of the responses in this thread. Most of them are excellent. Especially note all of the things that are repeated.)

auctiontheory 2 days ago 0 replies      
Suggestions from my own experience:

1) Set written goals: quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. I have a pre-printed "form" that I populate with my goals. Then I check them off at the end of a period (day, week, etc.), grade myself, and make notes about what worked, what didn't and what I learned. Save these in a binder so you can see your progress, or lack thereof.

2) Use Pomodoro or HoursTracker or some other app that works for you. Observing how many (few) hours I was productively working was eye-opening.

3) Reward yourself. The idea is, work shouldn't stretch on "indefinitely" - then you have little psychological incentive to complete.

4) Separate your workspace from your living space, even if it is only a desk that you use solely for work.

5) Use StickK or some other form of commitment contract.

6) Use SelfControl or other internet-limiting app. Watch out for blocking Google URLs though - block youtube, and you can end up blocking Google Drive.

7) In the beginning, overinvest in setting up systems and tracking to discover what really works for you. Getting a good system going will easily pay for itself in efficiency gains.

thelogos 2 days ago 2 replies      
Many people have already recommended exercise, but I would advise you not to jog or lift high rep.

Why? It's repetitive and time consuming. It also doesn't do anything for your testosterone level.

If you're a guy, you have to keep your testosterone high and that means short burst of high intensity exercise.

That's the #1 priority. It will increase your willpower and ability to cope with stress. It'll also lessen the pain of social isolation.

You're going to be socially isolated no matter what. Working at a coffee shop doesn't matter because you'll most likely won't spend your time talking to people.

Testosterone will also keep you from packing on the fat, which is really easy to do when you work at home.

My solution to this is eating healthy and stimulants.

Caffeine and nicotine patch will reduce your appetite significantly. I feel no desire to snack between meals.

It will also keep you focus and motivated. They're much more sustainable in the long run than prescription stimulants.

Lastly, take fish oil and vitamin d3. This is not optional. Most people's diet don't contain enough fish oil, the inflammation will bring on depression and sap your mental strength. Same for vitamin d3, most of us aren't exactly outdoor creature.

vmsmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started working for myself from home earlier this year. Although it's great in many ways, there are several challenges.

As you have noted, the lack of an external structure is a big one. Here's what I do...

First, I map out a long-term timeline, which is generally a season (spring, summer, autumn, winter). I identify goals, objectives, events, etc., and map them out in a simple open source PM software package.

Second, each week -- usually late Friday afternoon or Saturday -- I take the broad project plan stuff and create a more detailed plan for the next week.

Finally, at the end of each day I write a very detailed list of things I am going to do the next day. This includes work stuff, but also anything else: chores, exercise, etc.

When I get up in the morning, I look at my list for that day, and tackle it. Round about 5:00 pm I review the list and make the next day's list, and at 5:30 I treat myself to a Manhattan and some good music. Then it's dinner and whatever.

I also journal my work-related stuff in iPython notebook, and I keep an accounting of my hours in an Excel spreadsheet.

All that keeps me focused.

It's also important to provide yourself some relief. When you first start working like this, you realize how much time is spent at a normal work place not really working. In a normal work place there are meetings, water cooler chats, and so on. So it's important not to think that you must be productive for eight solid hours a day, because in most work environments you aren't. I plan on some reduced amount of productive time, and factor in what I call buffer time. After, say, 90 straight minutes of work, I might take a 10 - 15 minute walk around the neighborhood just to clear my mind and get my blood flowing.

That's what works for me.

TL;DR: Make a detailed daily list of things to do, and do them. Balance the list, and reward yourself at the end of each successful day.

robbiea 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been through the same exact situation and was able to get out of it. There are a lot of great tips here that detail how to organize your schedule tactically, but I'll give you a little different insight on how to convince yourself to adjust and work a schedule that is better for you.

#1) Recognize that the reason you are looking at other projects is because you feel free or unleashed from your full-time job and now all of the creative restrictions that you had are now gone. So, this is you acting up because NOW you have the chance to do something that you want to do, even though you still are busy with this new remote gig. You are dreaming, which is great. This is normal, and from my experience almost never goes away.

#2) Recognize that the work you are getting paid for now is your #1 priority. Dreams come second. You still have a boss, even if your boss is your friend. Anything you do outside of this work, your friend could care less. Do not lose insight of that.

#3) If you do start a new "side" project, make sure you finish it. I ran into many issues where I would start a new project, get people involved and then never finish it. It was by far the worst feeling I've ever had in my life.

#4) None of these tactical schedules that people mentioned below will work if you don't know why you continue to do browse new projects or sit down and watch multiple seasons of sitcoms. This took me about 8 months to figure out, so you have some time to go :). What is your longterm goal? To make money enough money to live comfortable or to become Oprah successful?

#5) Get help right away. By help, I just mean other people that have been through a similar situation and that you can ask for honest feedback from. Obviously this HN post is a fantastic start. Find someone you can call up directly.

If you need more insight (or anyone else on this thread), my contact info is in my profile.

SkyMarshal 2 days ago 0 replies      
>and then sometime I find myself I haven't looked at that project in the last two days as I spent it by browsing random projects on the internet, working on other things, watching multiple seasons of sitcoms or just brainstorming about product ideas that I can build in future!

Start by cutting out the truly wasteful things, like watching TV. Throw your TV in the trash (seriously), or first thing every morning get out of the house and go work in a library or coffee shop for five hours or so.

The other things you mention are part of the creative process - browsing other projects on github or wherever for ideas, brainstorming, working on other projects (eg decluttering your todo list).

If you break your main project down into component parts and estimate it, that will give you some baseline/benchmark as to the rate of progress you should be making on it. Assume a 9-5 workday and no more than 5hrs of actual work on the project per day. If you're roughly keeping up with that by working odd irregular hours (16hr sprints, 2 days off, etc), then you're in good shape. Otherwise it will give you an idea of how much more you need to reallocate to your main project.

ISeemToBeAVerb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I struggled for a long time when I started working from home. I tried all kinds of things, but what ended up working best for me was treating it like I would any other job.

I get up and go to work at the same time every day. I take time off for lunch, and I quit at 6:00 PM every day (assuming I don't have any pressing deadlines).

That's not to say I don't allow myself any benefits of working from home. I'll take a long lunch with a friend every now and again, but I try not to let my routine slide over an extended period of time.

It's also important to set a precedent early on about what disturbances you're willing to tolerate, if any. I handle distractions the same way I would at an office. If it's an emergency, I deal with it. If it's not, I politely remind the offender that I'm in the middle of work and then I get back to it.

As far as temptations go, I think it depends on what your vices are. That being said, controlling your environment is the easiest way to limit your temptations.

For me, internet browsing was by far my biggest time-suck so I used an app called "Self-Control" to block access to sites I waste time on. I don't need to use it anymore, but it helped a lot in the beginning.

I also used to do crazy stuff like unplug my electronics to keep myself from watching TV or playing games. Taking the time to plug everything back in was usually enough to remind me I shouldn't be doing this right now.

Really, It just takes a bit of experimentation to get the ideal routine down. Took me over a year, but now I'm super productive.

dCole 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well based on the fact that you posted this question you've already figured out one of the most important things about working for yourself and that is.....

Everyone needs to be managed. It's now simply up to you to manage yourself given that you have nobody to answer to anymore (at least in theory).

The next thing is then realizing that there is no one correct way of dealing with these issues commonly faced by entrepreneurs. Everyone is different and therefore everyone will have different strategies or techniques that work for them as an individual. You really just need to read up, get feedback from others (like you're currently doing), and try a bunch of things to see what works for you.

With that said, here are some general rules that I feel apply regardless of many of the variables that exist.

1) Have a dedicated workspace. I lock the door to ensure that my wife and daughter don't interrupt me. I took crap for this early on but as I explained to my wife....when I was still working at my old job she didn't have the luxury of walking into my office and interrupting me whenever she wanted so there is no need for her to have that luxury now.

2) Keep your work space clean. I struggle with this one and it's easy to let things get out of control. I find that when my office is a mess I want to spend less time in there and I'm more likely to plop my ass on the couch and get sucked into non-productive activity. Taking 5 mins to do regular cleanups prevents your desk from building up and getting overwhelming.

3) Create habits. Humans are habitual by nature. Take notes on how you are spending your time for a week and you will notice patterns. Make a schedule every morning and allocate a certain amount of time for the things you regularly focus on every day and that will help you avoid getting lost in something (like reading HN or TC) for hours before realizing what happened. Also, if you have multiple clients/projects that you have to give daily attention to then work on them in blocks of hours to help make the limited time you have to focus un them more efficient. It will also make tracking your time a hell of a lot easier.

4) Remember that things change. Regardless of what it is...it is bound to change. You just need to be cognizant of that fact and be able and willing to adapt. When I started working from home I was single and could work however long I wanted to, sleep whenever, etc. Now I'm married with a daughter and life just doesn't work like that anymore. My schedule obviously had to change in order to effectively incorporate the new changes into my life. I just had to adapt and go through a new period of trial and error to see what worked best.

Good luck working through it all and just remember to regularly schedule some time to review where you are spending your time and how you can improve.

apunic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Your real problem lies somewhere else: You lack motivation because your work lacks a long-term perspective. Being a freelancer who sells his personal time is not what you intrinsically aimed for. You need something which is it worth to stay home alone and this is not being a mercenary selling his time for money. And the goal can not be just 'to work from home and being free' either, you goal must be way bigger and 'working from home' is a means to an end.

Once you work on something big structuring the day with all good things like exercise, good food, socializing comes by itself and you won't need a dog or any other mumbo-jumbo, though Pomodoro comes sometimes handy just to get started and getting shit done since some procrastination always happens.

This is my experience from working home for the first years of my company (which was the most productive time of my life).

jakobe 2 days ago 3 replies      
One thing to note is that being self-employed doesn't mean you need to work from home. I always had trouble staying focused at home, and since I have kids working from home is almost impossible for me.

I now rent a desk in a shared office, and I work regular hours. I work 9-4 four days a week. I leave my laptop at work, so I can't do anything except answer the occasional email from home (when the kids let me).

It makes a tremendous difference. When I'm home, I often think of something I want to fix, but since I can't work at home, I have to wait until the next day. When I arrive at the office, I'm already eagerly waiting to get started and most times don't even think about checking HN.

(It doesn't always work. Sometimes I still have trouble focussing, but that was the same when I worked a "normal" job)

ak39 2 days ago 0 replies      
In my experience I've noticed that lack of discipline is related to two things (both of them subconscious). Lack of discipline strikes me when:

1. I can easily predict what the end goal of any of my current project is ... and it is less than what I want for myself. So I procrastinate the inevitable. As if delaying it will somehow miraculously make it worthwhile after some time has passed. Waiting for an epiphany to salvage the fait accompli?? I am not sure. This is all of course subconscious. I don't like where my current project is leading me to so I watch sitcoms or come to give unsolicited HN advice. (Not really)

2. I subconsciously avoid facing my burn-rate. Burn-rate is a function of time and can be both direct financial (material) as well as opportunity costs. Facing it is single most terrifying thing for me. My unfounded fear is that it paralyses me. On the contrary.

The solution to 1 is to write down a single page or picture of where your current project fits into your bigger goals. If I can see this type of plan clearly for my current (boring) project and its global context is something I am easily reminded of regularly, I galvanise into action - no matter how boring.

Promising a deadline to your client is also a good way to work towards it. Nothing like a nagging email or phone message asking about your progress to get your arse into action.

The solution to 2 is to keep sight of your overheads by again writing a single page of your costs (burn-rate) as a function of time. And there's always a burn-rate. Planning for 3-6 months in my case seems sufficient. Make a poster of this and stick it where you can't miss it.

Hope that helps you too.

mailarchis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I struggled through the same thing for couple of months. Few things that helped me get back on track

1. Define your working hours and stick to it. Setup alarms and go to work at same time of the day every day.

2. Designated working place - If you are working from your home, try to setup a place in your house that you will use only for work. Don't use it for anything else. The way it worked for me was when I got to that place, I used to switch into work time mode and when I got out of it, I will switch back personal time mode.

3. Log your hours - Use something like toggl to log your hours for yourself. Track your working hours and if you are falling on the short end, you will make up for it by working on weekends. But eventually you will try logging consistently your work hours.

In the end, its matter of creating a habit.

VLM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Feel like you're on call? Here's one small clearly defined task, get this thing done so I can get back to living?

I've done the on-call / pager thing, and although I work in an office environment with flex time, I've been stuck working in the house due to blizzards and such, so I have some experience with this. Also lots of on line classes.

It might be a total drag, but break down the project into "couple hour" pager / cell phone / emergency feel of tasks, then knock out exactly one task, then go live for a little while. Exercise, or cook/eat, or socialize or whatever, then "pretend" you just got a page and have to work the next task.

I've been on call before, so social issues WRT working at home have not been an issue. You're not "working at home" you "got a call from work"; no one else need know "the call" was just another regular project mismanagement conversation or watercooler gossip.

No need to simulate it down to the point of random alarms on the phone, but if you have to, then do it.

rglover 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working from home for the last 2.5 years and the biggest lesson I've learned is to embrace the ebb and flow. Keep a schedule, of course, but if you have a day where you can't focus and get things done: don't beat yourself up. When this happens to me, I try to dedicate my energy to something else like reading, writing, or setting up a meeting with a friend.

Seriously, it's extremely easy to kill yourself working from home. An office provides certain boundaries that are not available at home. Defining these early in your at home career is important if you don't want to bum yourself out.

fit2rule 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its almost impossible to have self-discipline if there is nobody else around to observe it. The #1 thing that I have found useful, when I've been a self-employed worker, has been to have someone else around to talk to about my progress, or lack thereof, over time.

For many, this can be as simple as having a partner who looks out for you and checks in on you, making sure that you're not playing games or whatever distractions tickle your fancy. It could be having a close friend or associate who knows you are a self-worker and who takes a regular interest in your life and actions.

Without another human being around, its very difficult to be self-disciplined. This is just one of those quandries of life - things get a lot easier when you've got someone, anyone, impartial or otherwise, with whom to discuss your daily progress.

strictfp 2 days ago 0 replies      
A plan works wonders. Try applying SCRUM on yourself. Set up sprint goals and find someone to demo for, so that you feel the preassure. Also, expose yourself. Angle your screen so that someone else can see what you're doing, so that you feel ashamed when procrastinating. If you have noone else, angle towards the street or share your screen with a partner or something. Have a schedule. Use different logins for work and leasure. I use another wm without distractionware running. Find someone to discuss your approaches with. Working alone increases risk of getting stuck. Planning also helps here. Regularly meet your parners in person, a good time is for demos. Make promises for next time. Stick by your promises. Never over-promise, never under-deliver.
yojo 2 days ago 0 replies      
In my experience the times where I find I've done something that "feels" productive but isn't (e.g. browsing projects on the internet, working on other things) are times where I feel stuck on my main task. This could be due to lack of clarity, or because there is a step that is boring/uninteresting/tedious.

The best advice I can give is that when you find yourself unwilling to do the work, break the work down into concrete, bite-sized steps. Then do the first one, then do the next one, and you'll get it done. If you can't do one of the steps because you're blocked, figure out the steps to get unblocked, write those down, and do the first one.

The other thing I've found that helps is to set a clear schedule. The rhythm of the office helps get things done. I still wake up to an alarm at 8, I have a coffee at 10 and 2, and lunch is at noon. My wife comes home around 6, and I try to make sure I'm done at 6:30. I occasionally break all of these rules if I'm in the zone and really getting a lot done. If that happens, I give myself more time off later/the next day to ensure I'm always on a sustainable pace.

If you're already stuck in a distraction quagmire, try to recognize it, and set an alarm for 30 minutes. When the alarm goes off, go back to work. If you still can't work, go take a walk and try again.

kristiandupont 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a tough one. I made a collection of tips and stuff here: http://procrastotherapy.com/
k-mcgrady 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a huge problem for me. The best solution I have found is to schedule every thing. I look ahead at the next week and what I need to get done and then schedule it in Google Calendar. I name the events 'Coding (Project Name)'. Typically I do a longer 4-6 hour session in the mornings and focus on projects that have a lot to be done on them still. In the afternoons I schedule a 2-3 hour session and work on projects that I'm finishing up on and doing minor work on. I'm a huge procrastinator ("watching multiple seasons of sitcoms" really rings true with me!) but this has helped me quite a bit.
laurenstill 2 days ago 0 replies      
A while back I quit my 9-5 and started working on a number of consulting/projects on a rotating basis.

One of the things I did in addition to having dedicated work space and clear boundaries was to assign projects on a per-day basis. Most of my contracts are longer-term grant projects where I'm committed to 10 hr/week or so.

Monday = local hardware projectTues = DirectTrustWens = Dignity Healthetc...

I make sure the companies I'm working with understand what their dedicated day is, and have a clear time line of deliverables. This gives me enough urgency on a day to day basis to prevent falling into the trap of "taking care of it later."

I also have a set time for general email first thing in the morning, in addition to break times where I can cook, clean and work on dinner. I know some would say that's a horrible break, but I'd rather do it mid day that at 9pm (as I would when I commuted).

The other thing was removing the tv in the office. I was surprised and how distracting it was, considering I never paid attention to it. I now use use music as background/white noise.

And I can't recommend a pet partner enough, just lock them out during concalls least you earn a reputation of being "that cat lady in policy."

kriro 2 days ago 0 replies      
1) A dedicated "work room" with few distractions is the single best suggestion I can think of. You can clock in and clock out and feel more like working.

2) Try to get up early in the morning as always (if that's an issue for you)...just having a less slackish schedule helps a ton.

3) There's tons of self help stuff out there but I think the two that help me get stuff done the most are:

- Get some notebook and every day write down the date and one big item, two medium ones and a three small ones you want to get done for the day (1-2-3) if in doubt make it LESS. Get into the habit of markering the stuff you work on and crossing it off when it's done.

- Seinfeld method (google it) for stuff you want to do every day. Basically get a calender sheet for the month, print it, hang it somewhere and put down an X when you've done what you wanted. Try not breaking the chain. You can actually practice discipline by doing some random task each day like this (I did it with "go for a 10 minute walk").

Hope that helps, being self employed is a skill that can be learned (imo). The way I look at it wandering off and getting interested in other stuff is my main problem. Everytime I "catch myself" I note it and pat myself on the back for having done one "rep". This can be reading a book and thinking about something else and not remembering what you just read or randomly checking hacker news or clicking on your mail client.[my experience comes from being a poker pro for a bit which is even worse than other self employed jobs because you don't work for anyone and the time you put in directly maps to income...and if you put in bad time it often maps to negative income :D]

ido 2 days ago 0 replies      
I try to restrict/minimize internet distractions between 10am and 6pm. That means I strive to only check emails in the morning and evening, no facebook/twitter/reddit/HN/etc.

I still have my ipod on do-not-disturb mode so that occasionally I can press the power button and see if there are any gmail notifications, but most of the time I can tell from the subject line that I can safely ignore said emails. If it's important I log in to gmail (with gtalk turned off) ust to answer the important email and then close it again.

atmosx 2 days ago 1 reply      
All you need to know is here[1]. It's called the "The Art of Self Discipline" and Brian Tracey is probably one of the best examples of self-discipline.

Don't listen to this once. Listen to this Once every three days. If you manage to put in your life 1/10 of what is discussed in this audiobook, you'll see radical changes taking place very very quickly.

I listen to this at least 1 every month by now, while running. I have bought the audiobook two years ago. I still listen to this and keeps me up-to-speed when I feel like not doing things I should do.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjEDr7enw-c

lbrent 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some things I have not found mentioned yet:

1) Changing places inside the house (or moving out to the garden if the weather allows it) sometimes really helps me to beat the monotony. I do have a special workplace reserved though where I spend most of my time.

2) Exercise has already been mentioned. Running works best for me, because it is done outdoors and therefore kills two birds with one stone (three if you have a dog).

3) Another thing that has made a big difference for me was starting a regular meditation practice. I have since noticed that it makes it much easier for me to control my focus and handle distracting thoughts. And there seems to be at least some evidence that I am not alone in this:http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to...Intensive Meditation Training Improves Perceptual Discrimination and Sustained Attention: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/21/6/829.abstract

4) Include relaxing activities on your daily agenda. Letting go is important for your wellbeing and therefore your work performance. Make room for it and allow yourself to enjoy it without feeling bad about it.

tgflynn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend using a time tracking app of some kind. The goal isn't to produce timesheets for your clients, just for you personally to keep track of how much time you spend working on projects.

For this to be helpful you need to be very conscientious about using it. When you are clocked in you shouldn't be doing anything but project related work.

One disadvantage of this is that it's easy to forget to clock out.

nnnnnn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I posted this before.. but here are some things I do to stay on task (or at least try!)


* Sleep ... 7.5 to 8 hrs, no more no less

* Wake up at 8/9 to maximize hours of sunlight

* Lift weights 4+ times per week... the four hrs you spend in the gym will be made up for with 10 hrs of productivity throughout the week

* Healthy diet (high protein, low carbs, low sugar, fresh food)



* Avoid HN

* Start working right when you get up

* Answer emails / do other menial tasks when tired

* Get rid of all notifications: phone silent/vibrate, no Gmail/fb/twitter notifications outside of the platform itself

ThomPete 2 days ago 0 replies      
Discipline comes from routine.

Here is a possible routine.

1) Wake up at 7 at the latest

2) Take a shower

3) Get dressed

4) Eat breakfast

5) Read mails and news

6) Join #startups on freenode to have some company

7) Say good morning to everyone there (I am blackwhite)

8) Start working

9) Have lunch

10) Back to work

11) Stop at anytime between 5-7

12) have dinner.

13) Procrastinate some more or do some more work.

14) Get to bed at 12 the latest.

Rinse and repeat....

philfreo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Turn this baby on at 9am for 8 hours: http://selfcontrolapp.com
davemel37 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find adding my to do tasks to my calendar assigning time blocks to specific tasks makes it much easier to just do the work and much harder to waste time. Another method is assigning a specific amount of time to a task. And setting a stopwatch and taking a break when that time is up prevents me from taking more time than needed for projects.
avalaunch 2 days ago 0 replies      
awjr did a great job answering your question. I just want to add 2 more things that help me:

1. Get out of the house to work, at least occasionally. I find I'm often most productive working in a coffee shop or at a Panera Bread type restaurant (no waiters, free wifi).

2. Don't quit immediately after finishing off a feature. Start working on a new feature and then quit for the day. This one is big. Whenever I do this, I find my mind continuously returning to the new problem and coming up with ideas on how to solve it. At that point getting back to work the next day is easier than not.

Finally don't stress out too much about what hours you work. Sometimes I work in the morning. Sometimes I work at night. I work around spending time with my son, which is what makes me happiest. That's the best part of being self employed - having a flexible schedule that let's you maximize all of the activities you enjoy most.

amorphid 2 days ago 0 replies      
Formerly self employed here. One trick that worked for me, which was inspired by some book w/ a tomato on the cover...

1. Set a timer for 25 minutes.

2. Work until the timer goes off.

3. Take a short break, 5 minutes or so.

4. Repeat :)

What I did was determine how many hours I wanted to work total, usually 40 hours. Then I'd shoot for 80% efficiency, so I'd try to work hardcore for 32 hours. Divide 32 hours by 25 minutes (32 * 60 / 25), and I'd work that many blocks of time.

I found it really helped me focus. It also helped me separate my work time from personal time. It also... well, it helped a lot.

You can play with the numbers to find a pattern that works best for you.

shamp00 1 day ago 0 replies      
I spent 15 years working from home. Everyone I know who worked successfully from home had some sort of trick to get into work-mode.

I always went out for coffee first thing. While I was out my apartment would magically transform into my office and I would come back 20 minutes later ready to work.

I know a guy who always put on a suit and tie even though he was at home because it got him into the right frame of mind. Whatever works. You might say the whole point of working from home is NOT wearing a tie. But if you can't find a way to work well from home, you will eventually have to admit failure and go back to working from an office.

Tell you what though: once you find your start-the-day trick and you feel you are working productively, you'll have to find a similar reverse-trick to get out of work-mode at the end of the day.

easy_rider 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing that really helps me is music. Some people like the coffee shop sounds. I don't. I'm the type you see sitting in the office with headphones on all the time, listening to fast music, and really feeling wired in. At home I often forget to put on some music, because I don't get distracted by people. But without music I find myself looking at youtube etc.When I have music on it puts me in the right mindset, and start producing to the beat (be it drum, be it machine ;)
mdmarra 2 days ago 0 replies      
You could always work exclusively from a cruise ship. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6697416
dschiptsov 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just love what you do, then you could experience what they call "flow" and, indeed, will need some self-discipline to remember to eat and sleep and exercise.) Self-control is mostly for struggling with boredom or fatigue.
thallukrish 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually don't believe in a rigid system office like. In fact you are self employed because you don't want to be part of a process machine called the office. You figure out what is right for you. If you feel you are reading a lot of web, then go back do some work. If you feel you have cracked a problem after lot of hours of work, go and chill out doing some thing else. If you feel you are doing a hybrid of browsing the web which is not work related and coding then turn off the internet. I do a mix of all of these. I feel it is ok to be a bit fluidic but only with the end goal what you are working on in the mind. I mean mostly to creative work - something that you are creating on your own from home rather than a customer paid work which I feel the first comment is good enough to follow. If you are creative, be relaxed and keep thinking on the space you work on, keep diverting your attention from any disturbance and keep going at it...that's the formula
adidash 2 days ago  replies      
Great tips already! I have been working from home for the past year or so. In between got into the habit of spending time on HN, reddit, techmeme and was kind of addicted to random browsing. Went on like this for 3 months. The lack of any real output hit me after that and ended up taking the following steps. Not perfect but have helped me come a long way.

What works for me:

1) Create a separate work profile on my mac.

2) Block sites you think are not helping you in your work but eating into your time.

3) Write down just one big action item for the day (has to be done today)

Zerigo terminates annual plans mid-way to jack rates 19x
15 points by pardner  19 hours ago   16 comments top 8
enko 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Got the email as well. I would be looking at a new price of $456/yr, up from my current $39/yr. Needless to say that is totally unacceptable.

Thing is I wouldn't even mind paying a little bit more, I know $39/yr is pretty cheap. $60/yr would be fine, or even more maybe. But $456/yr is not fine at all and it baffles me why they would even attempt this. Did it occur to no-one to ask, hm, do you think our customers will mind us jacking the price 10-fold or higher?

Looking into a switch to dnsmadeeasy. Even if they reverse course, I'll probably change now, since Zerigo management has obviously gone mad and I no longer trust them to run a service I rely on.

dangrossman 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a reason not to use the DNS provided free by reliable web hosts (Rackspace, Softlayer, Linode, etc)? Or is everyone in this discussion hosting with Amazon and the like that doesn't provide that?
pardner 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Looking hard at dnsmadeeasy... Anyone using them as primary DNS? Basic specs look good: $60/YR for 25 domains ... supports zone imports... uptime guarantee.
trafficlight 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Yep. Time to do something different.

I just did this last year when another DNS provider pulled the same shit.

denishennessy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
They charged me $39 for annual service 4 days ago. Then today they mailed me to tell me that the 'new' rate was $756/year and I would have to pay the extra or cancel the service.
StuntPope 15 hours ago 1 reply      

Yes, I'm biased, but still. We're less money, anycast deployed (Zerigo until now is/was not), zonefile importer, REST API, full integration to Amazon Route 53 via easyRoute53, etc etc.

Prices starting at $149/year for 10 domains.

Add failover / host monitoring: $299/year, 10 domains

whichdan 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Did they offer a refund, or just credit?
rychdev 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I JUST upgraded from free to DNS Essentials a couple days ago. I've notified Zerigo billing that I consider the change a cancellation of my service agreement "without a determination of misuse" as defined by their own terms of service, and have requested a full refund back to my card on file. We'll see how that goes.

So where is everybody moving? Any reasonably priced DNS providers that don't suck?

Ask HN: What would it take for you to switch to Python 3?
6 points by rectangletangle  12 hours ago   8 comments top 8
iposbeforehoes 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is going to sound sad, but I can't figure out how to install Python 3 and run a script with a single package.

Seriously. I've programmed for 5 years, studied CS, and I really don't understand how to do it.

I have a Mac Book Pro Retina, so it ships with 2.7. I write Ruby in various versions via RVM, and I have no idea what version of Node I use, but I use it a lot.

Over the Holiday I decided to try to port some Node services to Python (mainly because they are analytics projects and I'd like to start using Python for analytics and "data science" ). And I struck out. Bad. Using Homebrew to install Python 3[.3] and no success with virtualenv and Pip. At best I get a pip-3.3 to install and crash anytime I try to install a package.

I would love to convert these services to Python 3. In fact, I'll regret not doing so. But at this point, it really isn't worth my time trying to figure it out. Once I accepted installing my packages via 2.7, I was able to convert the services (with tests!) over a long weekend.

I did a fair amount of research through Google and Stack Overflow, and each confirmed my suspicion that this process is shit.

I just saw a tweet by @holman where he described a friend saying 'how can ruby be such an easy language but be so hard to install?' And asserted that our industry still sucks (and in my opinion Ruby in any incarnation is infinitely easier than Python).

He is so right.

trothamel 12 hours ago 0 replies      
More time?

A problem is that time I spend porting to Python 3 is time I don't spend adding features to my application. I'm probably going to bite the bullet this year and port. But it's likely to cause problems (just because I'm modifying debugged code), without providing a lot of benefit to the people who use my code.

treeform 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Issue is python3 is not that much better then python2. Simply make it much better:

1. 64 bit psyco (http://psyco.sourceforge.net/) OR another JIT compiler that is just as good. Maybe Cython like optional typing support.

2. Greenlet like networking in core that we don't have to dance around. Maybe asyncio does it.

3. Tons of people proclaiming how much better py3 is. Frankly it might be there I just don't know. We need peer pressure.

davvid 12 hours ago 0 replies      
From the CG camp: Getting The Foundry (Nuke), Autodesk (Maya), and SideFX (Houdini) to ship support for both Python2 and Python3 would help.
Rhapso 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Reverse compatibility.
jardaroh 12 hours ago 0 replies      
more OSes to ship with python3 as default would help.I guess another thing that would help is to change the narrative, even just a year ago python3 was said to be bleeding edge and if you wanted to make something production ready you should go with python2, so I did. Basically, sell python3 better to both existing and new users.
jbeja 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Until Kivy or Flask do not support python 3 i will not switch :p
pockethook 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Big Data Software, What's in it?
2 points by notastartup  5 hours ago   discuss
Is Tokaido dead?
6 points by wakaflaka  14 hours ago   2 comments top 2
msbarnett 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Yehuda Katz's response to this same question 7 days ago on twitter:


I'm sure if you followed up with him he could provide more details. The sub-project tokaido-build seems active and unblocked.

gumby 13 hours ago 0 replies      
As with the Greek gods in the Martian Chronicles: the answer to your question is indubitably no, since you, at least, still have interest in it and since the source is available on github. However it is apparently comatose. All you need do is start working on the code and it will magically spring back to life.

One of the many advantages of open source.

However: why did you ask on HN and not ask the lead developer directly?

Ask HN: The most important thing you learned in 2013?
3 points by sam1r  9 hours ago   5 comments top 4
usablebytes 7 hours ago 1 reply      
1) Right and Wrong are just perspectives

2) True happiness is in doing what you really enjoy and being in control of yourself all the time

3) There are always more unfortunate around you

4) World is full of irrational behavior; but good part is you got choices

5) One-thing-at-a-time is a myth; you can do what you believe you can

6) No matter how bad it looks, convincing most of the people is mere wastage of time; they hear what they want to hear

7) Reading is an unpleasant process for majority and so is easy explanation

8) Working hard is fine only when you're learning

9) Business is all about minimizing the risks - contradictory to the general belief

10) The universe doesn't give a flying fuck about you. So go out there and live the life the way you dream of.

santhoshthepro 9 hours ago 0 replies      
1. With purpose comes passion. With passion comes Enthusiasm. So We need to set a purpose for the whole year. My passion for 2013 was to train atleast 1000 students on technology.

I ended up training 1315 Students and 40 Teachers in Java, Android and other latest technology. My purpose of 2014 is to create lasting impact through my work. (author a book, fitness, Instructor for online course)

Here is my blogpost of my learnings and events in 2013: http://santhoshthepro.in/snapshot-2013-a-year-of-giving

read 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Constraint is no less important than freedom.
mindcrime 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned that events (conferences) are a good place to find leads for the kind of business I'm in.

Also, I discovered "Complexity Economics"[1] this year, and that has changed my world-view in many ways and has given me a lot of ideas and inspiration.

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

Ask HN: Share a learning & a happy moment from your startup in 2013
15 points by jyothi  1 day ago   12 comments top 10
jasonkester 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Happy, unexpected moment: Added a stupidly expensive "Enterprise" pricing tier as a polite way of declining business from users who were taking up too many resources to bother trying to service.

And people started buying it.

georgespencer 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Learning: if you ask your users to help you improve your product they will give you bad ideas. If you ask them to tell you stories about what keeps them up at night they will give you gold.

Happy moment: growing way faster than we did the year before. Rentify now transacts with more landlords than nearly every brick and mortar letting agent in the UK.

lshemesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Best moment: Tutorialize getting its first paying customer

Learning: If you're going to use a technology like MongoDB make sure you're using it the way it was intended to be used.

jyothi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Learning: Single Focus. Speed. We digressed a bit and we lost the game both ends a bit. Wish we had focused on one thing.

Happy Moment: We were 17 people and we went out for a trip from the company, stayed in a good resort, had a time-off. It made me happy to think back from where it started.

edit: going by what I said on the post - one liners. removed rest.

JoeAltmaier 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Quality experience translates into repeat customers and steady growth. Not features; not highly-paid sales teams; not flashy design. Just support the customers you have with good empathetic skilled staff, beef up the quality of your pipes and codecs, make the on-boarding experience clean and clear, and the customers get on board.
kranner 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Localization matters for mobile apps.

addendum: this might be even more true for niche apps. My $5 iOS app sells way more in non-US/non-English stores.

pardner 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Hitting ramen profitability and being able to click the "donate" button on many of the gems and plugins that helped us get there.
collin128 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Testing a new hypothesis after 18 months that resulted in 5 new paying customers AND an exciting new direction for our startup.
Kiro 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Remove the PS.
moootPoint 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The heart warming satisfaction of convincing my company to use unit tests, and seeing them come online for the first time.
Happy New 2014 Year
13 points by hippich  1 day ago   1 comment top
dome82 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Same to you! Have a wonderful 2014!
Which are the best osdev tutorials?
7 points by slynux  18 hours ago   3 comments top 2
dindresto 18 hours ago 0 replies      
So far, I've found the one by James Molloy quite good: http://www.jamesmolloy.co.uk/tutorial_html/

If you have a Raspberry Pi, you might consider reading http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/projects/raspberrypi/tutorials/os/Note though that the one for the Pi only scratches the surface. Topics like memory management or task scheduling are not included.

Happy New Year from Europe
3 points by dutchbrit  11 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: What book changed your life in 2013?
189 points by fraqed  3 days ago   174 comments top 40
Evgeny 3 days ago 10 replies      
It's hard to choose a single book, as I've read (or listened to) a number of books this year.

I'll choose Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow (http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman-ebo...).

The way it changed my life was to make me actually think more about the way my mind operates, the decisions I make and the way these decisions affect my life. As a consequence, there were a few books I read later that were loosely related to this one in the way that they all refer to the way people think.

Barry Schwartz - The Paradox of Choice

Steven Pinker - How the Mind Works

Nassim Taleb - The Black Swan; and Fooled by Randomness

Leonard Mlodinov - The Drunkard's Walk (quite similar to Fooled by Randomness)

Carol Dweck - Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Neil Postman / Andrew Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death

Rolf Dobelli - The Art of Thinking Clearly (just started)

On my reading list now:

Quiet by Susan Cain - mentioned already

The Better Angels of Our Nature - Steven Pinker

Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs and Steel

Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash

Jared Diamond - The World Until Yesterday

Also, did not quite change my life, but very recommended:

Neal Stephenson - Anathem.

You may have to struggle through the beginning, but as soon as I understood the way the world he devised operates, I was thrilled completely.

rickdale 3 days ago 1 reply      
Two years ago I was lucky enough to read a comment here about the 4 Hour Body and how it changed someones life. I downloaded it and read it that night. Lost 50lbs. Never looked back.

This year the book that shaped my year has to be The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter. Great read, teaches you how to motivate yourself to get shit done. Has worked really well for me.


city41 3 days ago 1 reply      
Quiet by Susan Cain

This book profoundly affected me because she convinced me that many of my mannerisms and preferences are completely normal, and even positive. She also confirmed a lot of my suspicions that open offices, group work and the like are not as beneficial as they may seem.

Her TED talk[0] hits most of the major points in her book. If you enjoyed that, her book is a must read.

[0] -- http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts....

shill 3 days ago 0 replies      
I picked up a copy of 'The End of Faith' by Sam Harris at an airport bookstore several years ago. My first thought was "let's see what this atheist asshole has to say." Reading the book completely changed my views on religion and religious tolerance. More importantly, the experience encouraged me to be more proactive in seeking out opposing viewpoints.
incision 3 days ago 1 reply      
Given the criteria, this would come closest:

* A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0195374614/

Honorable Mention:

* Anything You Want - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00506NRBS

* On Intelligence - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003J4VE5Y/

* Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00555X8OA/



Patrick_Devine 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read a significant amount of fiction and non-fiction in 2013, including books on founding start-ups, marketing, psychology, english lit (even Shakespeare, Dickens and Jane Austin), and sci-fi.

Surprisingly (at least to me), the most interesting and profound was an obscure sci-fi book called Permutation City by Greg Egan. It was surprising because it was written in 1994 and pretty much nails HPC and cloud computing. It also plays on the ideas of intelligence, consciousness, artificial life and longevity, all of which I think we're right on the precipice of making some pretty significant inroads within the next decade.

The cloud computing aspect of the novel though really blew me away. Most parts seem almost like throw away paragraphs which help support the plot, but you don't have to squint very hard to see the similarities between it and something like the Amazon Spot Market. For me, in 1994, I couldn't even imagine cloud computing. The PC was so completely dominant at the time (I had a 486DX2-50) and the internet might as well have not existed for most people. The web consisted of a handful of sites and only a few people had even heard of NCSA Mosaic.

I realize others might not find this profound, but for me, working in cloud infrastructure and virtualization, it really struck a chord.

toddh 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Life's Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos by Peter M. Hoffmann

Just an amazing book giving what seems like the secret details how of the world works at a physical level.

"Thus, the nanoscale is truly special. Only at the nanoscale is the thermal energy of the right magnitude to allow the formation of complex molecular structures and assist the spontaneous transformation of different energy forms (mechanical, electrical, chemical) into one another. Moreover, the conjunction of energy scales allows for the self-assembly, adaptability, and spontaneous motion needed to make a living being. The nanoscale is the only scale at which machines can work completely autonomously. To jump into action, nanoscale machines just need a little push. And this push is provided by thermal energy of the molecular storm."

"At the nanoscale, nothing can escape the molecular storm. As Astumian and Hnggi point out, every molecular machine in our bodies is hit by a fast-moving water molecule about every 1013 seconds. Each collision delivers on average 4.3 1021 joules of energy (the energy is determined by the product of Boltzmanns constant and body temperature measured in degree Kelvin). This translates into an average power input of more than 108 watts. Remember that a molecular machine generates only about 1016 watts in power."

"Where do molecules obtain the needed activation energy? From the molecular storm! The impetus needed to make it across the transition state is provided by small, fast molecules (typically water molecules) fortuitously colliding with the reacting molecules to give them the right push. If lucky, the push causes the molecules to snap into their new shapes. Of course, not every colliding water molecule will have enough energy or hit the reacting molecules in the right way. Chemical reactions take time we have to wait for the right push to come along, and the higher the activation energy needed, the more time it takes, as higher-energy collisions are much less frequent than low-energy collisions."

blendergasket 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think "The Kingdom of God is Within You" by Tolstoy was the most life changing book I read this year.

It made me start thinking about the idea of sin, which I haven't given much thought about before since I was not raised as a Christian and do not identify myself as one. But sin is such a powerful concept for understanding my own weakness and shortcomings and the evils that come about when I let them control my life.

It is also a very powerful message against the corruption of Church and State and the necessity of peaceful rebellion against these corruptions if they do not allow the living of a Christian life.

lpolovets 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read about a book a week this year, and the one that I loved most was "Give and Take" by Adam Grant. The book discusses two opposite approaches to work and life: being a taker (where you always try to use people and situations to your advantage) and being a giver (where you try to help others out before yourself). The book included a nice combination of anecdotes and research that all pointed to giving being a more effective road to success than taking. The first half of the book is spent building a compelling case for the main thesis (i.e. that giving is better); the second half talks about a few pitfalls that should be avoided and offers tips on how to be a more effective giver. Some of the lessons that I learned included tips for learning when I'm being taken advantage of and tips on how to keep from burning out on generosity.

I loved the combination of research + practical applicability and I think the book encapsulates many parts of the startup/tech community where people will help others -- even strangers -- very generously. I've given (no pun intended) about half a dozen copies of this book as gifts to friends.

grimtrigger 3 days ago 2 replies      
"The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion"

If you're like me and love debates, this book is awesome. It'll show you how to find common ground and understand implicit values behind arguments.

Link for the lazy (non-affiliate): http://www.amazon.com/The-Righteous-Mind-Politics-Religion/d...

trentnix 3 days ago 4 replies      
How to Win Friends and Influence People

I had avoided this one for years due to its age and because reading it seemed to imply one has no friends and no influence. It gets long-winded in parts with a few too many examples, but it's excellent. Definitely something everyone should read once, no matter what type of job or lifestyle one leads.

egypturnash 3 days ago 0 replies      
[The one I self-published](http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/52397119/decrypting-rita...).

It's the second volume of three. The change is still ongoing; book 1 has garnered me some new fans at the top of the comics game, some cool short-form opportunities, and some tentative little beginnings of nibbles from publishers. I figure bringing book 2 to cons will keep that going; I'm pretty confident that by the time I run out of copies of book 3 and want to publish an omnibus, I'll have someone interested in taking care of that and the distribution for me.

Oh, wait, you want books we read, not any books, huh? I'd have to say [The Primal Blueprint](https://www.amazon.com/dp/0982207786?tag=egypurna-20&camp=0&...), which got me seriously thinking about what I put in my body and how I use it. I've been backsliding from the fabulous shape I was in during the year I was taking burlesque class, and while I haven't gotten it back, reducing my carb intake and trying to regularly remind myself to just run around for the hell of it! has been keeping things mostly under control.

I mean, I've actually started eating salads, made from awesome locally-produced ingredients that actually have flavor. I still eat a decent amount of junk, I'm nowhere near following a hardcore Primal diet, but I'm doing better than I was a couple years ago.

Nekorosu 3 days ago 0 replies      
The book is Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships. It's a book from the creator of emotionally focused therapy which is based on the insights brought by the attachment theory.

The attachment theory was completely new to me and it let me have a new look on the way I act in the close relationships. It cut a lot of shame I had about the way I act when the relationships didn't go the right way.The rest of the book related to the therapy itself was good too. It shifted my focus from solving relationship problems the rational way (it didn't work out) to something more aware of the emotional reality of the process.

In the end I feel like I perceive all the interhuman relations a little bit different then I did before.

neilk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Most of what I read is related to startups or economics, but for the short list of change-my-life books:

This year I read a lot about what you might loosely call the Paleo movement / anti-carbs and sugar movement. The New Evolution Diet, The Primal Blueprint, books by Gary Taubes, and so on. I think this is going to change how I eat and exercise forever.

The Gift of Imperfection and other works by Bren Brown. Lately this is being promoted by Oprah, which isn't usually a good sign. I think it stands apart because it's not theory or poetry; it's based on some solid research on what people living more productive and satisfying lives are actually doing. If nothing else, her books have made me a better friend when my friends are in pain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

curiouslurker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Understanding Michael Porter on Strategy by Magretta. Porter is a well known thinker on business strategy but most people misunderstand him. He has also been derided because his own company (Monitor) failed but his work in strategy still remains the best.

This book by one of his former students and proteges lays it out clearly. Too many people don't really know what strategy is about. The bottom line is that if you have a strategy it should show up in your profits and the examples/case studies of Southwest, Ikea and Zara are really insightful. If you are serious about business or entrepreneurship this book is a must read.

davidw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looking through my list, none jumps out as a 'life changer':


Although there are several good ones there:

* Nathan Barry's Authority: http://blog.liberwriter.com/2013/11/21/nathan-barrys-authori...

* Worthless, Impossible and Stupid: http://davids-book-reviews.blogspot.it/2013/09/worthless-imp... - not one for the ages, but I thought his take on entrepreneurship was interesting.

* http://davids-book-reviews.blogspot.it/2013/08/pathfinder-jo... - biography of John Fremont. Interesting guy in an interesting period of American history.

* http://davids-book-reviews.blogspot.it/2013/02/innovation-an... - Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Drucker. Still a very relevant book in a lot of ways.

jmduke 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like I get to be the first one to throw out a fiction book:

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.

vermasque 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've listened to a few books this year (Audible saves me time), but I read/listened to a book that actually changed my life in the summer of 2012 (close enough). I had wanted to become an entrepreneur, but then I read The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco. He described some of the things that I really don't want to do deal with: hiring non-engineer employees, using the services of lawyers, marketing, and other business responsibilities. It wasn't that I hadn't heard these themes before, but he said it in a way that made me recognize what I don't want. I just want to be a great engineer. I didn't give up on a dream; I found a better one.
aaron695 3 days ago 1 reply      
Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge, 2007

Random review -http://boingboing.net/2007/11/28/vinges-brilliant-rai.html

Fiction, near future. Not a biggie but an easy read and changed my opinion on possible futures.

radex 3 days ago 2 replies      
The one that made the biggest impression (and, hopefully, impact) on me was definitely The Power of Habit. tl;dr: on a fundamental level, habits of all sorts shape much of our days and lives. It's like setting up automation scripts it takes some time, but makes your life better and easier once you do. And they're like a sharp knife a powerful tool, but be careful not to cut yourself. Good habits make you do things right without any effort, bad habits will ruin you. The book shows you how.
jjindev 3 days ago 3 replies      
I suspect this will be a long-tail answer, but what the heck:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

It is not a perfect book, but it did get me running, and in that sense literally changed my life.

rangibaby 3 days ago 0 replies      
Quien Fuckin Sabe by Patrick Carlin (brother of George). Lots of funny anecdotes and thoughts from someone who has lived a very full life.
sciguy77 3 days ago 0 replies      
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Read it twice now, absolutely fantastic.
Thiz 3 days ago 1 reply      
- Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard

- Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

then couldn't stop reading all there is to read at Mises.org

arash_milani 3 days ago 0 replies      
What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More SuccessfulBy Marshall Goldsmith

I came to realize that sometimes to improve your teams' performance you don't need another tip to add into the behavior of the team members. actually the problem with mature team members is not that they don't know what to do; The problem is that they don't know what to STOP doing. And there is another thing that makes the situation even worse: Most of the time the team member who hurts others in the team don't realize that. But everyone in the room knows that something is wrong as the heat in the room rises. And this heat raise certainly will affect the team overall performance and unity. So this is a serious business.

msutherl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of The Thing One Sees, on Robert Irwin's life: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0520256093?tag=morgasuthe-20

Many lessons in discipline, joy, and taking time to see.

bcbrown 3 days ago 1 reply      
Data Intensive Text Processing with MapReduce. It was a key reason I got my current job, which is my dream job at this point in my career.
pearjuice 3 days ago 0 replies      
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Such an immense story about love, friendship and the evil in all of us.

kaiwen1 2 days ago 0 replies      
A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian. This book has completely changed the way I approach interactions with people of faith. It's an incredibly important, useful and practical book.


dcolgan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Test-Driven Web Development with Python.

Very well written and engaging. The prerelease version is available free online at http://chimera.labs.oreilly.com/books/1234000000754. I've known for a long time that I wanted to do unit testing on my web dev projects but never really understood the how part. I'm almost done with the book, and am super excited to try TDD on my projects now.

petarb 3 days ago 1 reply      
How to Win Friends and Influence People

I was skeptical at first due to how old the book is but the advice is truely everlasting and extremely effective.

eudoxus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Godel, Escher, Bach - [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del,_Escher,_Bach](http:...

Made me view, and think about every day to day problem or decision making in a completely new light.

infinotize 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have to name two in a tie: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and Masters of Doom by David Kushner. Both Jobs and John Carmack have been huge sources of inspiration since I've read these books, and in very different ways. And that effect has lasted long since I finished the books, which is rare.
lukifer 3 days ago 2 replies      
Not a book, but a blog: Kevin Simler's exploration of consciousness, sacred experiences, and the sociological underpinnings of religion has turned my rationalist materialist perspective inside-out.


vowelless 3 days ago 1 reply      
If I were to choose one that benefitted me the most, directly, I would pick "33 Strategies of War" by Robert Greene.
psibi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Real World Haskell

This book has completely changed my view on programming. Also now I appreciate the whole functional paradigm concepts.

gmuslera 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read a lot of books this year, a lot that were great. But the one that gave me a stronger impression in my real life and the future of it is Accelerando, from Charles Stross (you can read it here http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/accelera... or buy it from amazon).

The always increasing rate of change in technology, from a close and foreseable future to a not so far away but almost not recognizable one made me rethink how fast are things changing now, and how much they will change pretty soon. Probably we won't get "there", but got the impression that a lot will change the next 1, 5 and 10 years.

daphneokeefe 3 days ago 1 reply      
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big -- Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame)

Super Rich -- Russell Simmons (hip-hop magnate)

Choose Yourself -- James Altucher

Edit: forgot about Walt Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs

plainOldText 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think there's just a single book that changed my life, however there's this one book that changed my perspective on procrastination and personal productivity. And being more productive can be pretty life changing IMHO. The book's name is The Now Habit, BTW.
Wonnk13 3 days ago  replies      
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Took me about five months and I already want to reread it. Brilliant masterpiece. Read it right after my friend's suicide and help me think about my own addiction to success.
How can I verify whether my new laptop has been tampered?
6 points by ds9  22 hours ago   9 comments top 4
runjake 18 hours ago 0 replies      
You can't really verify for sure. Well, unless they did something and goofed. You would need a team of experts to examine everything from the various firmwares and microcontrollers and microcode to the OEM "tamper-proof" labels, which can almost assuredly be counterfeited and placed by NSA.

It would be less work to just maintain multiple computers for separate, distinct tasks (eg. one for browsing Al Jazeera, one for PressTV, etc).

Oh, you'll also want separate Internet connections in highly diverse geographic locations (lots of plane tickets? no, those can be tied back. Tor? Nope, that's just pseudonymous. Multiple VPN connections? Who knows anymore.

Some additional thoughts:

1) Who's to say all Thinkpads (or whatever) aren't backdoored from the factory, perhaps without Lenovo's knowledge?

2) Perhaps buying your gear off of Craigslist from someone who is in a demographic highly unlikely to get the attention of NSA (eg. a white, blonde, college girl who doesn't follow politics, activism, or world news). See if she'll throw in some glitter nail polish.

See what I'm getting at? It's futile.

flueedo 20 hours ago 1 reply      
My suggestion is that you ask this question at security.stackexchange.com , also browse the website for similar questions already answered.

My answer: A laptop usually can trivially be taken apart completely and then put back together without any signs of the operation remaining, internally or externally. Same thing with smartphones. Checking BIOS integrity usually isn't possible without specialised physical tools.

grumps 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Not sure this plausible. You'd need clarity to all the sourced parts and entire supply chain and logistical chain. Then complete oversight over the assembly and logistics. I'm guessing that backdoors are really inserted at the firmware level (in most cases) and therefore you'd need the ability to flash new firmware with valid signatures and checksums straight from the manufacturer but you'd probably want an independent audit of said firmware.
dvdand 22 hours ago 2 replies      
This article might be helpful for what you are looking for...http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/12/better-data-securit...
Ask HN: Skype, but properly peer-to-peer?
91 points by ColinWright  4 days ago   75 comments top 38
tommoor 3 days ago 3 replies      
I've been working with WebRTC for a year now building Sqwiggle (https://www.sqwiggle.com) - In my experience I can tell you two things,

- It's not really possible to go entirely peer-to-peer as many networks do not allow for this communication to happen. You would have constant issues with calls not being able to connect. Some centralised service is required for signaling, STUN and TURN which costs money and uses significant amounts of bandwidth.

- Even if you do go peer-to-peer with WebRTC the quality would still be improved by going through a central server (less upstream bandwidth required) [edit: when more than 2 participants]

If you're interested in helping to tackle these problems, we're hiring ;-)

lazyjones 3 days ago 4 replies      
This should work with WebRTC (http://www.webrtc.org/) using the reference app: https://apprtc.appspot.com/

It should enable you to connect 2 browsers (e.g. Chrome and Firefox), all you need is to transmit the ID of the chat ("r" parameter from the chat URL you will get) to the peer, or the full URL.

It keeps amazing me that we do not have simple JS solutions for this, when projects like Chatroulette can be built in "2 days 2 nights" according to the author.

(by the way, here is WebRTC support for other browsers: https://code.google.com/p/webrtc4all/)

binarymax 4 days ago 1 reply      
A long list to go through, but this might be a good place to start. Hopefully it has what you need:


daveid 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am currently working on an in-browser peer-to-peer chat/audio/video application. It's a work in progress at the moment, but you can take a look: https://github.com/Gargron/baron

As a desktop app, there's Jitsi, which works with XMPP and SIP accounts.

phaer 4 days ago 0 replies      
SIP + ZRTP. Jitsi and SFLPhone are decent clients, the people at ostel.co are working on some infrastructure to ease the usage of encrypted, decentralized VOIP but most public SIP providers should work your use case.
frik 3 days ago 3 replies      
I am searching for an WebRTC server app (open source) that I can run on my webserver.

All these WebRTC guys want me to use their pay-for-use web services.

I found only EasyRTC that sort of worked https://github.com/priologic/easyrtc

Can someone suggest Node.js or PHP (with libevent) implementations of WebRTC server apps?

aurora72 4 days ago 1 reply      
This reminded me Richard Stallman's notes about the newly emerged Cloud Computing. He defined the CC as untrustable and advised to avoid.

I'd suggest IP Telephones. Most of them are capable of making direct P2P connections without even any VoIP server. They only need an external STUN server to arrange the NAT configuration if you use the IP Phone behind a NAT router (which is almost always the case) There are many free and realiable STUNS servers running on the Internet or you can construct your own.

lnanek2 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've used the webrtc project people link here as well, but it is worth pointing out that Skype has an API. I'm not even a Windows programmer in general, but it only took me an afternoon to write a tiny app for a Mom's five year old that just calls Mom immediately and automatically as soon as it is started and has a locked preferences page for setting everything up.
songzme 1 day ago 0 replies      
I built a site for super simple video chat originally to demo our company's product to clients. Its made to be easily accessible and used with ease. The more we used the app, the more we've come to appreciate its simplicity and our company now uses it to communicate with each other and between our offices around the world. Hope you will find this useful: https://opentokrtc.com
mikemoka 3 days ago 0 replies      
you should keep track of this one probably


throwawaykf03 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your title is different from your question. If you're concerned about direct P2P connections, last I checked, Skype still sends voice traffic directly to the peer. I had checked some months ago using a packet sniffer while talking with a known peer. I'm on a mobile device so I can't confirm now, but looking at my wireless router admin console, I still see the UPnP ports Skype has mapped for itself.

However if you want to avoid integration with the Microsoft universe (which should be opt-out IIRC, though I haven't installed Skype on Windows in ages), you may need to look elsewhere. I was about to suggest Google Hangouts, but that's just inviting integration with another universe :-)

WebRTC-based solutions may be a decent option long term, but I'm not convinced they'll work as well as Skype or Hangout, because its NAT traversal is somewhat limited, so some peers may be unreachable, especially if corporate networks are involved. Skype and most P2P software perform a lot of hacks to get past NATs. Hangout, AFAIK, doesn't have these problems as it is server-based.

donnfelker 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of WebRTC and SIP technology. Chris Matthieu built something like this which is now http://www.Twelephone.com. But here you have to log in with your twitter account. Not 100% "I own everything" type of model but a lot less invasive, IMO.
bitwize 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just use Skype.

It's been my experience that the way to technological bliss is through reducing friction by using what everyone else is using.

For voice and video over IP, that's Skype.

pant 4 days ago 1 reply      

Webrtc is here with p2p transmission of the camera + microphone (or files of course). I think it's time for all of us to move to p2p solutions that will come.

ShirsenduK 3 days ago 0 replies      
With google's free STUN servers its quite possible to build services which do this.https://github.com/cjb/serverless-webrtc/And the mozilla projects. But it will be some work. The price of privacy. :)
acd 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would suggest WEBRTC via premade service you make sure there are Firefox/Chrome browser on his computer and point to url. Properly peer-to-peer.


malditogeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
https://apprtc.appspot.com/ and https://appear.in are probably the most KISS Skype alternatives out there. Of course, built on top of WebRTC.

I've been working myself on an open source alternative http://vmux.co code: https://github.com/malditogeek/vmux) but it requires a Twitter account to log in which my pose a problem to your dad. (The upcoming version will allow you to use it without an account tho)

To the people that want to host their own "skype alternatives" have in mind that it's not just serving the HTML+JS. WebRTC needs a way to bootstrap the P2P connection, the so called signaling, vmux provides a signaling mechanism using websockets but you'll still need a STUN server (I'm using the Google's one) and optionally a TURN server to relay users behind crazy NATs.

JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sococo.com has a team communications app. Not exactly made for family calls, but works fine. Free. Disclaimer: I work at Sococo. And phone calls run P2P and are encrypted. Unless your bandwidth is exceeded; then it runs through a multiplexing 'media node' that operates like a router.

Video, doc sharing, chat, multiple people sharing all that or splitting up into groups or pairs - all by clicking around a map.

tomtheengineer 3 days ago 0 replies      
At https://vline.com we provide a free WebRTC-based video chat service. It doesn't require any registration or installs and is built on top of our developer platform: https://vline.com/developer/.
adamantium 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't tell about WebRTC or browser-based. When it comes to software, I've tried everything from the Wikipedia list and some more.

Most are either too buggy (Linphone) or closed source (many) or not multiplatform (so you can't talk to WindowsXP-user grandfather or vice-versa) or development stopped (Twinkle) or has no encryption (Ekiga).

The only one who passed was Jitsi.

It has more than 10 years of development, it's free / open source, very usable, multiplatform. It also accepts encrypted voice over XMPP, not only over SIP.

Look here - https://jitsi.org/Main/Features

ryanweal 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've had mixed results with Voip and reading some of the comments here just turned me on to STUN and TURN.

See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MWYw0fltr0 which explains the causes behind reliability problems.

I have thought about running my own server to manage my NATted voip calls and knowing ice/stun/turn will help has now led me to this: http://www.rtcquickstart.org/introduction

I'm thinking I might try to implement this. Voip on my mobile phone would be great, but I've had my hopes dashed before...

stephenson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Try https://hu.tt/ works great
benbristow 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know some people from 4chan's /g/ and some other people are working on an encrypted de-centralized Skype alternative called 'Tox'. You might want to help with the project.
htilford 3 days ago 0 replies      
Skype but properly peer-to-peer was pretty much the theme of realtime conf this year take a look at this video: http://vimeo.com/77289728 They demo a federated video chat.
stoical 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mumble is the only one that springs to mind: http://mumble.sourceforge.net/Its designed more for chat rooms but may be suitable.
adamantium 3 days ago 0 replies      
ColinWright's question is about computer-to-computer calls.

His question is similar to one I've asked recently: Skype replacement for phone-to-computer and computer-to-phone (Skype-in and Skype-out numbers).

Can you please chip in if you know more?https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6921672

fosap 3 days ago 0 replies      
PavlovsCat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does this look as good to you as it does to me? https://jitsi.org
javipas 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good alternative IMHO https://meetings.io/features
tuned 3 days ago 1 reply      
You can try http://appear.inIt's a browser based video-voice-chat client.
jaggs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Use the Skype Desktop version instead -


no sign in needed.

shervinshaikh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Check out Hutt (http://hu.tt/).

No account needed and you can instantly start video chatting with anyone who has a modern browser.

gte910h 3 days ago 0 replies      
lakesta 3 days ago 0 replies      
We use Oovoo, its still centralized but we like it more than Skype. Its like the poor mans skype but its honestly better for voip.
f_salmon 3 days ago 1 reply      
RetroShare has VoIP and is:

- 100% distributed / peer-to-peer

- public key encrypted

- open source


csense 3 days ago 0 replies      

    sudo apt-get install linphone

mknits 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use https://appear.in based on webRTC.
spazzpp2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Try https://palava.tv/

It's open-source WebRTC.

Ask HN: What did you make this year?
9 points by adambard  1 day ago   19 comments top 16
jere 1 day ago 2 replies      
Awesome. I love the idea of wagr. It's like an informal LongBets. Kudos on learnx also. My list is not so impressive, but here goes:

-I made a wilderness survival game for 7DRL 2013. http://humbit.com/rogue/ It's not for everyone, but it did make a "Best of 2013" list for roguelikes.

-I made my own static site generator in PHP that uses S3/cloudfront. Because why not. The result is a fast blog I think looks great. http://jere.in

-I made Autumn.js, a library for hashing keys to colors. https://github.com/nluqo/autumn

-I just finished up (and am desperately looking for feedback on) http://letspaste.com/ a gaming screenshot site. I think this is a really neat idea, but I'm not sure if anyone gets it yet. It did teach me about a few JS libraries though: packery and hopscotch

My goal for 2014 is to start writing things people actually need/want and to get off of Dreamhost ASAP (yea I know).

wturner 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I made a bunch of little inane things as a precursor to a gargantuan project idea I have that will take me years to complete, and after which flops will inevitably incentivize me to jump off a large cliff.



japhyr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I started an open resource for people interested in teaching and learning Python: http://introtopython.org

This year I hope to bring the project to a level such that people brand new to programming can go from hello world to completing their first games and simple web apps. I aim to make the project section useful for experienced programmers who want a clear explanation of how to build interesting projects in Python.

It's on github: http://github.com/ehmatthes/intro_programming

zachlatta 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked on Football Heroes, our first iOS application. It's an arcade football games for mobile devices. We're really excited by the progress it's made in the store so far. We currently have over 800,000 downloads and have been in the top 5 overall. We're looking forward to seeing where we will take it in the future!


krapp 1 day ago 0 replies      
almost everything I made is here:https://github.com/kennethrapp

and herehttp://profiles.wordpress.org/kennethrapp/

and here is an example of something i've been messing with this all semester:http://precis.gopagoda.com?url=https://news.ycombinator.com/...

None of it is brilliant or groundbreaking and almost none of it has made me a dime.

I also have two semesters of Java and C++ projects which should probably never see the light of day and a forum/HN clone in Laravel which does work but has been put on the back burner for months and months, and my own site which is currently running a half-arsed attempt at a custom PHP framework.

So yeah.

rajeevk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made (ported) Android version of my iOS app Lekh Diagram.


This is (free on Android and paid on iOS) sketch recognition diagramming app.

helen842000 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I created CalCal (http://gum.co/IEMpg)It's a dual timeline printable calendar.

It's something I've used myself for a while now and I created it as a digital download to learn more about validating an idea, selling digital products & marketing them.

mcarrano 1 day ago 0 replies      
I did not have the opportunity to work on my own projects much this year.

I am going into 2014 strong as I just released an Android application that I will continue to improve in the coming months...


wsieroci 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I made http://metrics11.com It helps you find profitable keywords for your website which you can use to increase search traffic to your website.
mahadazad 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made many full fledged website scripts this year. Which are very unique.


have a look

jcchin41 1 day ago 0 replies      
Working on my very first web app! I'm an aerospace engineer looking to get into web development.

-PushPlan, a group decision making app: https://pushplan.meteor.com/huddles/pBpn7KJ7jtAqNbNrJ

(A better way for groups to brainstorm ideas and schedule events.)

yiggydyang 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I made PocketSuite (http://PocketSuite.io). It is an easy way for busy people to send invoices, accept payments, book appointments, and stay in touch while on the go.
namecast 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've recommended learnxinyminutes.com to tons of people, I even showed it to my landlord when I was visiting Thailand. Very cool project.

For me: I re-built Namecast (https://www.namecast.net) this year. It allows you to manage your DNS using Git and GitHub.

garrettdreyfus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made a cool python script to tear away the unneeded parts of your CSS libraries. check it out at https://github.com/garrettdreyfus/Libstripper.
sbooks 1 day ago 0 replies      
TrackMyDrive.com, simple mileage tracking done from your smartphone or online. Spent most of 2013 improving the iPhone app.
pjd7 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great how many customers have gotten on AddressBin? I am working on something similar.
zerigo.com spend annual prepay in 2 weeks, demand customers pay again.
2 points by denishennessy  14 hours ago   1 comment top
lingben 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I am an ex-zerigo client. Now happily with DNSmadeeasy.com arguably the best value for money provider out there right now. Their speeds are unparalleled. Their customer support top notch and fast. And the prices are actually much cheaper than zerigo!

check out their speed comparison's here:http://www.solvedns.com/dns-comparison/

If I were you, I'd do a credit card chargeback and move on.

Ask HN: What are your big plans for 2014?
5 points by gghootch  1 day ago   14 comments top 13
gghootch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Last year's thread:

1. Continue on the path of graduating cum laude --

2. Publish three academic papers -- due to an error on my side, this only became two :-(

3. Get a job --

4. Start a side project which actually has a chance of making some money -- well, this never happened...

5. Find the woman of my dreams -- thought I had found her, got rejected for a superficial reason, called her out on it, rejected her, met her again months later but felt I was too busy doing 1 & 2 to invest time in her. She's got a boyfriend now.


============This Year=============

1. Graduate before september so I can start my PhD position.

2. Date more.

3. Move to a better place.

Should be doable, no?

jbrooksuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
1. Do more freelancing.

2. Actually start going to the gym and continue bouldering.

3. Release my SaaS (again). First release completely borked because I was reliant on a mate doing the work he said he would. He half arsed it and stuff broke. I learnt to check everything!

4. See more of the world. Last year I travelled to Jamaica and Antigua through my employer :)

EliRivers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finish redecorating the spare room. I started in July and there's only about 20% wall left to paint.

Alright, finish is too big for just one year. I'll cut myself a deal; at least hoover the carpet in there.

mcintyre1994 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In no particular order.

1) Exercise more

2) Get at least one internship

3) Find and make something people want

4) Make it worth my parent's while to have me home again next Christmas :)

5) Learn a new language (been playing with German on Duolingo)

inovica 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have set just one goal for a new business venture (although I have others) which is to hit $50k/month by this time next year. I'm just working this new years eve on the steps required to achieve this.

Let me also wish everyone who reads this a prosperous 2014. Hope you achieve what you are aiming for

visakanv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope to write at least 300,000 words. Everything else kinda stems from that, or is contingent on that. (I'll need to sleep better, etc.
vorador 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to release a usable version of my webmail app, Kite (http://khamidou.github.io/kite)
collyw 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Write a standalone app based on something I have done at work. See if it makes any money, if not use it as a decent example of what I can do - most freelance gigs seem to expect you to have an example of your work. All my stuff is in house.
dinosaurs 1 day ago 0 replies      
- Write more. (started my blog yesterday, I hope I'll be able to continue writing for it.)

- Get a new job.

- Exercise more. (and don't give up as easily..)

- Move to another city

travisleestreet 1 day ago 1 reply      
- Write a sci-fi book- Start a pickled food business (kimchi)- Double my 2013 income
dome82 1 day ago 0 replies      
- Write more- Get a little better in what I do daily- Exercise more - Buy a house- Travel more
CatsoCatsoCatso 1 day ago 0 replies      
Get a new job, I'm getting paid the square root of naff all in my current work.
iSloth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Try pass the Cisco CCIE v5 certification.
Ask HN: cheap reliable host for Wordpress blog
2 points by sergioschuler  16 hours ago   4 comments top 3
flavmartins 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Webfaction! You can't go wrong. It's screaming fast with it's fine tuned nginx servers, 512MB so it's more than most shared hosting environments will give you for applications.

I'm a big Wordpress blogger and run http://winthecustomer.com. I've been offered several free VPS accounts from various hosting companies in exchange for a plug for their services but after testing them out, I end up sticking with my PAID shared hosting account with Webfaction.

I've been a HUGE fan for 4+ years now. $7 mo. is the best $7 of hosting you can buy and better than others that cost $20+ per month.

NOTE: Webfaction doesn't gimmick you with "unlimited" crap with their hosting accounts. When others offer "unlimited" they really should included about a million * next to that. I used to work in Web hosting and know for a fact that after several gigs of space or bandwidth usage, they'll kick you out and force you to upgrade or find another host.

rb2e 15 hours ago 0 replies      
In the past for WordPress, I've found TigerTech.net quite good for reliable, shared hosting. They are helpful too if you have problems.
t0 16 hours ago 0 replies      
AWS (or similar) so you can switch to a bigger instance when you have a traffic spike.

Or just use Cloudflare.

Are my friends and family crazy?
4 points by darbor  1 day ago   14 comments top 5
mudil 1 day ago 1 reply      
Look, Rob, I agree with the most important statement in business: Ideas are easy. Its the execution of ideas that's difficult. And nobody is going to do the execution for you. Sorry, but I think there will be no partner. You'll have to do everything: from running the server and hiring developers on Odesk, to marketing and social. People that have partners have done something before, and they have partners because these partners know that they are getting in bed with someone who has been tested before. Ideas are cheap, hence you will get no partners for now. Keep working on your idea, start implementing it, and then, and only then, you'll find the right person or company to help you build this thing.
idoh 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey Rob, distribution is key. Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram are some of the most engaging and sticky platforms out there. If your target market does not even use those, then what chance do you have of that market finding and using what you are planning on building?
slugslog 1 day ago 0 replies      
learning coding or outsourcing the dev work both seem like non-starters to me. It's not just about getting some prototype built and walking away with it to the market. Any first attempt will be half baked at best. How do you iterate after? how do even measure if whatever you built is even working? what is reasonable traction to be had?

taking a step back though, before plunging headlong into this journey, I would seriously consider all the steps between thinking about the prototype and the 'godzillions' to be had. Just like with almost every other startup, the initial reaction to your prototype/MVC is going to be that the market doesn't care (shocker!)..maybe you get lucky and get some traction. The data you get will be clear as mud. Would you persist and continue with iterations to uncover the real market fit?

also, it doesn't matter if you are tech savvy yourself. are you at least completely comfortable working with a strong tech person without letting them completely run the show? If you are unsure, I would recommend going to a few local tech conferences/meetups and get to know the people. Maybe you'll come away with an arrangement where someone talented is willing to work part time on your time for some equity.

take your time finding the right partnership arrangement; don't worry too much about the fact that you have this brilliant idea someone else will beat you to it.

macarthy12 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ideas are easy. Its the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats. Sue Grafton, author
mindcrime 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm sure most of you all have heard or read about the poor guy who pissed off his kids college fund on a pipe dream but I can't and won't let that happen to me

Good, don't do that. Web-based applications can be developed fairly inexpensively, especially if you were willing to learn to code yourself. Otherwise, try to spend other people's money (but with the caveat about being careful about how much equity you give up if you get this thing going and start raising money).

Another thing you have to consider... if you want this built, you have three realistic options:

1. Learn to code, and do it yourself, at least through the initial stages.

2. Subcontract the work to somebody on a pure "work for hire" basis

3. Bring in a co-founder who receives a share of the equity in exchange for building the site.

In many ways, (3) above is the most attractive, but in this case, you face an interesting conundrum... you have an idea, but a potential co-founder is going to ask what else you can bring to the table? If you aren't going to code, what are you going to do? If all you have is the idea, and the other person(s) have to do all the work, they are (rightly, IMO) going to want the lion's share of the equity. You, as the originator of the idea, may not be so comfortable with such an arrangement.

Given that, unless you have some money you are comfortable spending on option (2), I seriously recommend considering (1). It wouldn't be the first time a non-technical person learned to code and built their own prototype and then used that to work their way forward... once you have a prototype, you're in strong shape to seek a co-founder or outside investment.

All of that said, if you want to subcontract the work out to somebody, feel free to shoot me an email. I might be able to help you find somebody.

Ask HN: What has been surprisingly effective in improving your business?
8 points by nirmel  2 days ago   3 comments top 3
jf22 2 days ago 0 replies      
We signed up to go to a industry related conference as a vendor.

Had low expectations and lost money but the conference was insanely valuable.

First because we had the chance to talk to customers for days straight. We refined our sales pitch, heard objections and concerns, learned about new features people cared about and more.

Second because everybody really rallied around the conference deadline and we got so much work done to prepare for the conference it really skyrocketed our momentum and productivity.

slaxman 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. cheap low level marketing campigns such as distributing flyers or putting up posters work well at the start

2. lesser the features your product has more customers love it.

3. taking an office space is much larger expense than it appears at the start thanks to travel time, travel cost, utility bills, eating out at restaurants, etc. work from home as much as possible.

loopsicle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Concentrating on absolutely ONE GOAL at a time. Crucial for lean growers grasping at a MVP.
Ask HN: How much money is enough?
11 points by anonymousexit  2 days ago   21 comments top 10
mililani 2 days ago 1 reply      
I actually retired at age 40 with less than 700k. My wife and I own a house. We both moved back to Canada, so we don't worry about health care costs. And, we really don't spend money on much. I figured our food/living costs comes out to $1000 a month. We don't have kids or any other big expenses. We're pretty frugal too. Anyways, it all depends. Some will tell you 7 million. That's fucking absurd. If that was true, hardly ANYONE in the US would be able to retire. Others will probably tell you 5 million, which I still find absurd. Anyways, regardless of what people on here will say, you already sound like someone who is indecisive. I've noticed that people who are always searching for their answers from others will never be satisfied by them.
sdesol 2 days ago 3 replies      
Probably 7 million after taxes. The first million will buy you a decent house. The next million will let you buy other materialistic goods and/or give away. The next 5 million can go into a very safe savings account which will net you 6 figures a year in interest.

With 7 million, you should be set for life with a decent lifestyle.

hansy 2 days ago 1 reply      
When related to happiness, some have said (annually) $75,000: http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2012/07/27/how-muc...

Others claim $161,0000: http://www.cnbc.com/id/50027184

There was a good study about diminishing marginal utility of wealth I read a while back. I'll see if I can find and post it. Don't quote me on this, but I think $5M was a good number.

mswen 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is the future potential of the business?

Do you personally have what it takes to lead it to that potential?

Are you a starter, who gets bored after the technically hard parts are solved?

Would the proceeds, if invested in a combination of bonds and dividend bearing stocks, provide an annual income that you could live on in a modest manner for the rest of your life? By this I don't mean SF, NY or London but a nice location with a more modest cost of living.

If you are getting bored and the exit would provide you a base salary for the rest of your life so that you could explore other new ventures ... I would take the exit.

In the end no one but you can really decide but these are some of the questions I would ask myself.

joshmlewis 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you first started the company, was your goal to be an exit or to keep running the company? If it was an exit, and this chance will give you enough money to live on a comfortable salary for 10 years, I would take it.
memracom 2 days ago 1 reply      
Don't forget to factor your age into the equation. The more years you have left to invest and/or earn more, the less you really need. And don't forget to think about your skill with money too. The younger you are, the longer time you will have to avoid wasting away your fortune. If you are smart with money then you will need less than someone who is not.
fananta 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's always just one more dollar. I think you have to consider the opportunity costs involved with the exit versus the potential financial upside. The right number is the amount for which you are comfortable to part with your current business.
onedev 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are you in the business of disappearing photos by any chance?
AlleyTrotter 2 days ago 0 replies      
When the only thing the 'company' has to offer you is:

A corner office with two windows

A private toilet/shower

A wet bar

A kitchenette

Because you already have all the money.

arisAlexis 1 day ago 0 replies      
you should think about life extension and plan things not for the common 100 but much longer if you are thinking of not working again.

in a general sense, id like to have as much money as needed to travel every month for two weeks to some nice destination without super luxury

Ask HN: How do you generate fake data?
5 points by bpedro  1 day ago   9 comments top 4
S4M 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to have an R script to generate csv's containing random time series. I could specify the frequency of the time series to my functions.
bliti 1 day ago 1 reply      
When you say fake data, what do you mean exactly? What type of data do you need faked?
penguinlinux 1 day ago 1 reply      
you can find datasets online and customize them for your application or needs?

What exactly are you trying to accomplish what kind of data are you looking to reproduce.

Ask HN: Can we Form a New Constitutional Congress?
3 points by gremlinsinc  1 day ago   discuss
Sent $10,701.03 to Coinbase. Still missing bitcoins.
323 points by permanence  13 days ago   133 comments top 19
znowi 13 days ago 6 replies      
When it takes a public outcry on HN for a company to do their job, I no longer deal with such a company. Simple as that. I don't care if you raised $25 million - if you can't treat your users fairly, you deserve neither.
sheetjs 12 days ago 1 reply      
The same class of problems (questions regarding account balance, money taken out but BTC missing, support went dark) happened earlier this year and there was another front page conversation: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5427985

Sadly, it seems that the key takeaway (the importance of customer support) was lost upon the Coinbase staff. Based on the last response, its clear that they have not learned their lesson.

I recommend pulling all money and BTC out of Coinbase before the next crisis. And I say "next crisis" because there is no indication that steps were taken to rectify the underlying issues here. For example, as speculated in both threads, do they need to move off of MongoDB?

swombat 13 days ago 1 reply      
"I don't have the ability to forward this to the CEO"?

Fix that even before fixing the reconciliations...

kjackson2012 13 days ago 3 replies      
Why are people even posting on HN? The easy answer is do an ACH chargeback and be done with it. Do it quickly as well since the price has plummeted. Don't even bother with contacting customer support.
streptomycin 12 days ago 3 replies      
Just a fun anecdote to throw in:

I never bought through Coinbase, but I did sell some coins there recently for like $7k. They deposited the $7k in my bank account twice, and then a few days later took the extra $7k back.

So although ultimately it all worked out fine, they do seem to be ridiculously reckless in their dealings with thousands of dollars. I can't imagine my bank doing something like that. Made me very wary of dealing with Coinbase in the future.

untitledwiz 13 days ago 2 replies      
Well then, third post in week or so, I see HN has become the official support system for Coinbase ...
brandon272 12 days ago 2 replies      
Assuming this post is legitimate, what kind of organization of that size (an article published today indicates that there are 8 employees!) has a hierarchy and culture where if an individual working in a customer support role sees something wrong they have no way of communicating with the CEO?

Scary, if true.

aidanlister 13 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else get the creepy feeling that this is mgrunin posting to stroke his own ego?

"That guy must have been one of our extremely high volume VIP users or something in order for something like that to have happened."

That just does not sound right. And it's not the first time he's tried a sockpuppet account [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6930297

jamestnz 13 days ago 1 reply      
"I'm not sure how that guy got the CEO of the company to intercede on his behalf"

Well, he did so by raising a public fuss about it, that much seems obvious. The OP of this thread seems (quite reasonably) to be attempting to achieve the same outcome by the same method.

Taking this OPs claims at face value, it seems like the support person quoted was trying to be helpful (or at least empathetic). Unfortunately, on a basic customer-service level, the response fails spectacularly.

I fail to believe that a company such as coinbase would neglect to have some mechanism where staffers can escalate support tickets (as is apparently being claimed). Jeez, it doesnt even have to go directly to the CEO skipping all intermediate steps: just bump it up the chain!

That CEO intervention should be necessary to achieve basic customer satisfaction is crazy to begin with. Either empower the hierarchy to solve problems, or give them access to someone who can.

OP did you try emailing brian@coinbase.com directly? (Im not revealing any information here that a quick googling doesnt).

ziko 13 days ago 0 replies      
Hi, <name> from Coinbase here. Sorry for the delay on that - definitely not the customer experience we are striving for.

<some phone shit right here>

Edit: <we actually did our job and made it work. we also gave you 0.01% on top!>

sergiotapia 12 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately this is a trend for Coinbase: http://www.reddit.com/r/CoinBase/comments/1t6326/customer_su...

Just don't use them and protect your hard earned money.

patrickg_zill 13 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, that is pretty surprising.

First thing in support is, YOU are the face of the company as far as the person you are in contact with, can see.

Second thing is, if you don't know, don't guess; tell them you will check into X and get back to them about it.

Third, empathize with the person - wouldn't you be worried over the disposition of $10K if you took it out of your bank account and then had problems getting what you ordered?

barmstrong 12 days ago 2 replies      
Coinbase founder here. We'll reach out via email to discuss the details of this case with you.
Saus 13 days ago 0 replies      
The problem what I have is 'fairness' (not just Coinbase, mostly all companies with customer service).

OP tried to solve it without making a fuss, without causing trouble for CoinBase but they couldn't help him and they didn't want to help him. Now he is creating negative press (exactly what you don't want) and see the response from last night. CEO probably comes in and saves the day.

The problem is that the people who 'behave' will get shafted, and those who seek 'social media' will get a prompt resolution.

That is a disappointing trend that with Twitter/Facebook only became worse (before those it was mostly threatening with consumer advocate programs on TV). Try it yourself, send an e-mail and a tweet to a company. E-mail gets a reply within 48h, twitter within 1h. Companies are creating their own monster this way....

codebolt 13 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly why I'm not buying bitcoins in the current dip. Counterparty risk on the exchanges.


permanence 12 days ago 0 replies      
UPDATE: I've been in touch with Coinbase support and they've corrected the larger of the two transactions in question. I'm still waiting on the second transaction to be fixed. I'm still missing some bitcoins from transactions that are well beyond complete (more than a week old, ACH withdrawal completed and marked as complete in coinbase).
rdxm 13 days ago 0 replies      
Ever wonder why there are not 100 different exchanges out there providing services to the equities/options/bond markets??? Simple, it's fairly costly and complicated to 1) meet regulatory requirements, 2) achieve a level of liquidity/transaction volume to make the exchange viable, and 3) take business away from the incumbents...

moreover, as soon as you attach the word 'exchange' to your service you immediately set an expectation in the consumers mind that you will provide a similar level of service/liquidity as that which they would receive if they were working with a real exchange operator.

coinbase currently lists a team which has zero experience in the exchange operations world. the closest they come is a guy who did some foreign exchange trading at GS.

net-net they have a looooooong way to go to get to being a viable exchange in the traditional sense of the word. and that's before you get to the whole topic of whether or not bitcoin is really something that will be a viable exchange model asset. that has yet to be tested outside of a very, very small base (relatively) of ecosystem participants..

jnardiello 13 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like Coinbase wasn't able to create a viable and sustainable process. To me, they will just fail as long as their processes become scalable. Surely i won't deal with them anytime soon :)
colanderman 12 days ago  replies      
1. Chargeback.

2. Better Business Bureau.

3. Federal Trade Commission.

4. Lawyer/lawsuit.

All of these are better options than whining on some Internet forum.

Ask HN: What new skill do you want to learn in 2014?
16 points by gs7  4 days ago   8 comments top 7
younata 4 days ago 1 reply      
Front-end design. I can make a beautiful back-end, but what does it matter to anyone but fellow hackers if a front-end end-user thing doesn't look good, is useful to beginners, but is also useful to those who've been around the block a bit?
bjourne 3 days ago 0 replies      
Enough mathematics to understand Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. It's probably an unrealistic goal but I'm trying.
doomrobo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nimrod, German, efficient functional programming, algorithmic analysis & design, and analytic number theory
mknits 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want to develop apps for FirefoxOS and UbuntuOS.
britknight 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ruby on Rails and Obj-C/iOS
thenerdfiles 4 days ago 0 replies      
Scheme and Pharo Smalltalk; Spanish.
sideproject 4 days ago 0 replies      
       cached 1 January 2014 13:05:01 GMT