hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    24 Jan 2014 Ask
home   ask   best   5 years ago   
Ask HN: I hate startups, I love HN am I weird?
5 points by nmc  1 hour ago   7 comments top 6
watwut 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Funny enough, I am not anti-capitalist and I do not mind companies earning money.

However, most startups are not really bettering the world and provide rather pretty bad working conditions while the actual job is not all that much more interesting. Half of "need" for dynamism is caused by mismanagement and unmanageable technical debt three months after project started (caused by sleep deprived programmers).

End of rant. Established companies can have pretty bad management too.

copx 1 hour ago 0 replies      
HN was about startups originally. Nowadays most of the items on the front page are general programming/IT stuff. Personally I come here for that. To me HN is a superior alternative to /r/programming, because the comment section here is much more intelligent and civil.
fauigerzigerk 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think you may be overestimating profit as a motivation for startup founders.
blueskin_ 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Not necessarily.

HN is a great news source. I'm definitely anti-communist, but I'm neither skilled nor rich not creative enough to actually found a startup and never intend to. I would theoretically work for one, but first I'd need a large degree of financial stability that is currently missing in my life. I read HN both because I'm interested in how startups function, get funded, get sold and fail,. but also purely as a news source.

futurist 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sorry to be so direct, but HN is rife with shilling, boasting, lying and emo-raging (new word). Sure, there are good articles here from time to time, but take with a healthy dose of salt.
wellboy 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
Startups are not about making money. If you are the entrepreneur behind the startup who is mostly in for the money, your startup will suck in the end and you will shut it down or leave it with a bad feeling.

If you don't give a f about the money and you sincerely want to change the world and make it a better place, then your startup will succeed, be awesome and in the end make your investors more money back.

However, most entrepreneurs don't get that, which is a shame. The ones that get it are the ones that you want to look out for.

Ask HN: Our kickstarter is 38k of 100k funded, with little hope
11 points by eof  5 hours ago   11 comments top 7
schappim 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I had to look at your past submissions to work out what Kickstarter project you were talking about. To my surprise I had actually backed you guys (I wanted to use VMX w/ my Ninja Blocks).

My tips for you:

- Your video is way too long! 7 minutes! If your video is over 2-2.30mins it's too long!

- When you use a simple, coherent story, you make it more likely that people will make a decision or take an action.

- On that note, there was no really strong call to action at the end of the video.

- If you're selling to men (and sadly lets face it you mostly are), your call to action should be done by a woman.

- There is way too much text.

- Rewards tiers are too complex. There needs to be a clear "you should buy this one". Each reward tier description is itself a little essay!

- "VMX Project" isn't a good name. What does VMX mean? It's not memorable. I don't think that 'project' is a positive word. It's the kind of word you'd associate with a charity or shaky cause.

- You need to partner up more. There are other past kickstarter projects that could work really well with your offering.

- There aren't really any social proof points that I can pick up by skimming the page.

- There's no scarcity. Why should I convert?

- You need to show the novelty. How does it differ from other similar but different products like Simple/Open CV etc.

- Going back to social proof, you don't have any media or quotes!

Just my 2c :-)

Please repost your project. It's really quite awesome, it just needs to be marketed better!

bdfh42 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the Kickstarter is clearly a bust - but that might be that the offering is more B2B than B2C.

People who wanted to play around with vision ideas probably funded the Pixy (CMUcam5) by Charmed Labs and Carnegie Mellon.

You need some serious funding so that you can develop demos that can be trialed against a whole range of use cases. As another poster here has said - we need to understand the problems your product solves before we can get excited about it.

iamwithnail 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess it's really unclear to me why I'd want to fund it. It seems kind of interesting, but it's not 'that's-fun-i-want-that-to-play-with' like Pi or Kano or Arduino, and it's not 'shit-that-solves-problem-x-i-have' like some other stuff. I used to work for a crowdfunding platform, and it's a key problem a lot of campaigns had (see: http://spacehive.com/Blog/Details/1042 ). Given you're on a tipping point campaign and haven't reached the 66% target (90% of projects that hit 66% WILL be funded) by now, I'd probably kill it and retarget it.
blueskin_ 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Adding a 'local install' option was probably a good idea, but maybe too late.

The world is seriously scary when controlling your own data is an 'option'.

adamredwoods 4 hours ago 0 replies      
can you use this to identify firearms? repackage and sell it as a security system for schools.

can it be used to find bad products on an assembly line? can it be used to improve a golf swing? can it be used to help the vision impaired? can it be used to count cards at the casino?

syberphunk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Your kickstarter was the VMX Project ?

What I needed to be able to back it, was a concise description of what it was and how I could use it.

I didn't see any of that in a form that I understood. I'm not an uneducated person and I consider myself highly technical (though what that means/is worth to most is debatable).

It didn't pull me in, unfortunately, because ultimately I didn't know what it was.

jkaljundi 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: Do you cold call?
76 points by nahcub  17 hours ago   52 comments top 26
dsr_ 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I get cold-called all the time. Here are the mistakes people make:

1. They waste my time (which is also a waste of their time).

That is, they are selling something that I don't need, generally because they don't know anything about me. If you're cold calling me, you should have read through our company's web site already. It's only fifteen pages or so; you can skip the press releases. You don't know what business I'm in? Why should I bother with you?

2. They are wasting my time.

Frequently I get called by salespeople who don't know what they're selling, except the name of it, a two sentence description that they memorized but don't understand, and they want to set up a meeting. You have a software product? What OS does it run on? Does it have a web interface? You're selling consulting services but you can't describe them because your answer for everything is "we can find people to do that, they are experts!"?

Go away.

3. They are wasting my time.

I already talked to you yesterday, last week, last month or last quarter. We discussed your product or service and it was clear from that phone call that we would never be a good fit for each other. (Your product only runs on Windows. Your service is Exchange consulting. You want to help process our customers' confidential data...)

ThomPete 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In my young years I did telemarketing. It's tough but, one of the best learning experience of my life.

I will repeat this in the end. But learn who you need to talk to. (Don't accept a no from someone who cant say yes) a lot of your time will be spend with finding the right person.

Here is my advice.

1. Write down a sales pitch with some alternatives depending on what the answer is. It should be structured something like this.

Step 1Who you are, who you want to talk to.

Once you reach the person you need to talk to:

Step 2Who you are, why you are calling, what your product do, what your offer to them is (always have some kind of offer like 20% off or something like that)

Step 3Answer questions, write down customer skepticism and learn from it. (you will become better and better at answering these questions and even able to forsee patterns)

Step 4Close the deal, tell exactly what is going to happen next. Follow up with what you promised.

2. Practice this again and again.

3. Make sure your goal is to close something. (either a meeting, sales or sending more info)

4. Create a sales funnel where you places your customers depending on how close they are to a sale.

5. Make sure you understand who you need to talk to (never accept a no from a person who cant say yes)

Rinse and repeat.

Keep in mind cold calling is a numbers game.

blhack 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's very immature of me, and I'll own that, but the number one thing you can do to get me to never, ever do business with your company is to cold call me.

It's just reeks of unprofessionalism, in my opinion. If you don't care about me enough to respect my time, then why on earth would you care about me enough to provide me with a good customer service experience after you've already hooked me?

I've had companies call me before claiming to work at google, claiming that my company isn't doing enough /google something/ and that they can help! If I pay them $foo, then I will be number in the google!

It's really annoying. This is why things like this: http://www.itslenny.com/ which is hilarious, btw) exist.

kaliblack 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Advice: don't cold call hoping to sell. Unlike inbound methods, you have no idea where they are in the buying cycle. It could be years before you close, so don't bother trying.

Instead call to get information. Most people want to help. Ask them questions about things relevant to your service to qualify them. Ask them if they want information about your service and collect an email address. Add them to a nurture campaign so if they ever are looking to buy you're at the top of their list.

I got a marketing assistant to make these type of calls for a couple of weeks with a 60% success rate of getting an email address. In Australia email permission is opt in. I don't know what the conversion rate of the nurture campaign ended up being because I left the company.

graeme 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't do cold calling much, but the few times I've done it have produced almost everything good I've ever achieved professionally has come from a few well targeted cold calls or emails

I'm an LSAT instructor, and author of LSAT explanations. Here's the result of my cold calling

1. I contacted a small company in Toronto that did LSAT and SAT instruction. I'm in Montreal. I called and asked the secretary if they would like to be in Montreal.

She handed me to the founder, who said yes, interviewed me, and I'm still doing work for them. I've traveled the country teaching courses, added new tests to my skillset, and been able to build a private tutoring practice based on things I learned from them.

2. I emailed the guy who runs LSAT Blog, the major blog in my niche. As a result of a few back and forth emails, he asked me if I'd like to write LSAT explanations he could sell.

This led to royalties from him, and manuscripts I later turned into print books, which pay me even more royalties. I now sell the explanations through other online affiliates as well, and turned them into my own site

3. I emailed the founder of another LSAT prep company, just to say hi, after his company experienced a setback.

This led to them bringing me on board for a six month term. I learned a lot, and now they refer me tutoring students.

I think there may be others. But given that these three are 90% of my business success, I probably wouldn't even BE in business if it weren't for cold calls.

The key to all of them was that I was somehow relevant to the people I contacted. They could help me, and I could help them.

The more targeted, the better.

simonbarker87 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"Hi, I'm really not sure who I need to speak to but if I could take 30 seconds to explain who I am and what I'm looking for do you think we could work out if it's worth me speaking to anyone? Would that be ok?"

"Great thanks. My names is X, and my company does Y. Does it sound like there might be someone who it would be good for me to talk to? If it's a no then that is absolutely fine." Then go quiet.

This is the best opener I have used and it gets me a name and my call forwarded 80% of the time - which is the main aim of a cold call, if you're going in with getting a sale in mind it will always feel like a massive mountain.

Also, if in the 30 second explanation you can get something about them in first it works even better. Also, don't go over your 30 seconds.

sdrinf 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I have amnesia / sleeping difficulty (being awake for ~20 hours, then sleep for 10), which means my waking cycles roll around. UK-based sales people, on the other hand, tend to do their cold calls at 10am sharp.

Long story short: when they call me, I'm generally in REM sleep, and have been for a mere 2 hours. After their interruption, I will not be able to sleep back, but will spend the next 10 hours in zombie mode.

I have found a fantastic new way to use this zombie time: looking up legal, and law services, small courts, corporate databases about their company, facebook of their personal, and any and all leveraged counter-offense methods, that will make these companies, and individuals within not exist ever, ever again.

Please for the love of all that is holy, respect TPS's do-not-call lists.

[1] See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6163051 for more

matznerd 16 hours ago 2 replies      
The modern cold call is a cold email. Although I've done straight cold calls and had a small team in the Philippines, a lot of businesses do not like calls (esp. Restaurants and service businesses). There is a great book on cold emails called Predictable Revenue[0]. link: http://www.amazon.com/Predictable-Revenue-Business-Practices...

Edited now that I am on computer to add more detail:

Some of the key points in the book are: -Split sales team into two parts, one group that only sends out opening emails, one set that closes the leads/sets up meetings. Once a meeting is set, the opener passes the prospect onto the closer.-the first email should be three sentences introducing who you are, what you do (can put clients you work with) and what you are looking for (appointment or referral)

I get pitched by a lot of companies, and one company had used this exact pitch on me and out of hundreds they were one of the few to get me to take an appointment call. Months later when I read this book, I recognized their tactic and went back and read the email and it was 100% based on what came out of this book.

[0] edit: misspelled title

wrath 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A company that I started in the early 2000s used cold calling to generate leads. It was very affective to generate solid qualified leads. We were lucky that we go an experience cold caller that trained other younger sales people. Having someone (either an agency or a person in-house) helping you is key to your success.

IMO, a good cold caller will work very hard to get to the right person, if that person exist. They will be committed and relentless to generating the lead for their sales team. They will work on their script to a point where they have answers for most types of questions. They will use the tools that they are provided (e.g. salesforce) to ensure to keep a log of what they've done and their todo list. And they will be in constant contact with the sales team to ensure that all information is provided back to them in a structured manner.

If you think that cold callers are waisting your time, simply try and tell them that you are not interested or point them to a different person who may be interested (if that person exists). There's no point for a caller to place a call to someone who has no interest in buying their offering, that's just a waste of time. Cold callers are "not" telemarketers.

conrey 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, best thing to do is research the hell of them before you make any call or email. Some great articles that I've shared with my team:


logvol 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Definitely. Outbound sales was how we validated our business model before we wrote a single line of code. There is so much you can learn.

Outbound sales, be it cold calls, cold email or warm intros, are very powerful. Keep in mind "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". Don't waste people's time. Ask for permission to speak. Listen.

Recommended reading: Jason Lemkin http://www.quora.com/Jason-M.-Lemkin

How GuideSpark Tripled Revenues Two Years in a Row, Growing to Almost Eight Figures in ARR All Using Outbound Saleshttp://saastr.quora.com/How-GuideSpark-Tripled-Revenues-Two-...

mildtrepidation 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"Potential customers" is a key part of your phrase. If you have someone's contact information and you have some reason to believe they'll be interested in your service, that's a lead.

Without a referral or lead, if you're cold calling, you're calling someone who not only hasn't inquired about your service, but whom you have no reason to believe wants to hear from you. In my opinion, you have no place calling that person. If you choose to do so anyway, it's your responsibility to waste as little of their time as possible in as cordial a manner as you can. Hard sells are absolutely awful.

I only get upset with cold callers that don't quit the first time I say no. No matter how qualified you believe a lead is or how it's been validated/verified, if the person on the other end says no, don't push it. Maybe they'll just keep saying no, but maybe they'll remember you as the pushy jerk whose product/service they'll now never consider.

nimrod4 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is obviously highly dependent on industry, market, product, etc. I do cold e-mail (personal preference vs calling) but within some basic guidelines:

1) Target Potential Customers

Rather than blanket e-mail every person in my industry, I look for people and organizations that are significantly more likely to be receptive to my product. I've segmented my market based on highly-relevant characteristics to increase chances that my e-mail will be well received. The contact may even already be looking for a product like mine. I also keep an eye out for news articles and mentions for people in my space that show they are a relevant lead.

2) Do My Research

Nothing gets deleted faster than a stock e-mail. I research my prospective targets and try to understand what their situation is. What is their reputation in the market, what are they struggling with, and can my product help alleviate any of that? This shows that my e-mail is more than just SPAM and that I'm trying to develop a relationship.

3) Play It Slow and Develop a Relationship

As mentioned in other posts, cold calls can be as much for info as a sales lead. In some markets, its also about developing a relationship that may take a long time to convert. Even if someone's not interested in my product, if I can help them in another way (maybe an intro) I'll do it to keep the conversation going. Maybe down the road they'll return the favor by providing me a rec.

4) Let It Go

Followup is key, but beating someone up is a waste of time. If someone's not interested and doesn't want to be bothered I'll let it go. The last thing I want is to develop a bad reputation or be reported as SPAM.

ErrantX 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Not directly, no. But I work for a company that has a sales department that does cold calls.

Interestingly, organic traffic performs better than cold calling. By a decent margin. But, on the road sales blows both out of the water. Obviously.

So if your looking at marketing strategy, someone on the road might be a good investment (depending on the product and customer base).

bellaccione 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I cold call for a living. By cold calling I mean 40 outbound calls and 15 emails or LinkedIn InMails on a regular outreach day.

Result: 6 figure income on a 70k base, for 4 years.

I also do Customer Development-type emails for my own side business, and for others (as-a-service).

Summary: it works. If you learn how to do it right.

Top tools: Stephan Schiffman's Telesales and Basho Email System.

Also: for cold calling to work you must have something of value, that solves a real pain/problem. Not something ephemeral like an app that, say, splits the dinner bill amongst friends.

pedalpete 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I did a little bit of cold calling when I was running a start-up. It's supposed to be really intimidating, and I have to say that before each call, I'd take a few minutes to warm myself up and think 'the worst they can do is say no'.

However, I went into EVERY call, knowing the person I was calling. I'd research via LinkedIn, and find out everything I could about that person, and the business.

I was amazed at how many times I'd contact somebody and they'd already heard of my business, and were keen to do business with me. At the same time, more often than not, things didn't work out. But as some have said the key is to know what you're selling, and you're not selling your product, you're selling what your product can do for them. Make sure you're able to speak to that. "I thought it would be great if you guys had x,y,z and could do a,b,c for your customers. It would ease problem a for you, and I'd estimate, based on what I know of your company, increased revenues of y".

Make it easy for them, hand them your business on a silver platter. Like I said, most times you won't get the sale, but you'll make more contacts in the industry, they may recommend you to other potential partners, or who knows.

Don't think "I'm going to sell them", think "I'm going to help them".

philmcc 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I decided I wanted to get into independent software development. I found a company ($1mm revenue) I'd done a little bit of business with (unrelated)

I sent them a mockup of what I thought their web-page should be (4 hours of work?), one meeting later I'd locked down a nice 5 figure contract to develop an internal app (they decided they didn't want a web page) and it looks to become an ongoing relationship.

The web page, I later found out, is what really hooked them, despite them not wanting it ultimately.

davecyen 14 hours ago 0 replies      
DON'T:Be scripted.Ask stupid questions that are supposed to be leading, like "Do you want to increase your revenue and cut costs?".Go straight into pitch mode.Call them so often that it pisses them off.

DO:Keep it brief, don't give the full pitch.Ask for 15 minutes on the calendar to explain in more detail.Ask if you caught them at a good time. If not, ask when would be better to call back.Leave a voicemail.Be casual and genuinely excited to talk to them, like hearing from an old friend.Send 3-4 sentence email, both for intro and to follow up ("My voicemail" subject lines get good open rates).Call multiple people at different levels in the organization (and ask if they're the right person to speak to).

arthurquerou 17 hours ago 0 replies      
We do but it doesn't work the same depending on the country.For example, in France (where we were originally based) and Europe, it's pretty effective if we call the company we target and ask for the right person (thank you Linkedin).Though, we recently moved in the US and the first calls we made didn't really work. Some people were even pissed that we called them from nowhere and where wondering how we got their phone numbers.Possibly relevant: We work in mobile advertising
sharemywin 16 hours ago 2 replies      
if your not going to make at least $100/mo ($2000 CLTV) it's probably not going to be cost effective.
bhartzer 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Cold calling can work if you are selling the right thing. But you still have to qualify people ahead of time. If you're selling a domain name, then finding companies that might be interested in buying (like the ones already bidding on the keyword) is a way of qualifying for selling domains.
jp1989 16 hours ago 1 reply      
We're in the extremely early stages our our B2B SaaS business - and cold calling has been extremely effective so far. We've gotten great feedback and battle-tested our hypothesis on "real customers".

Indeed, cold calling will not be a big part of our strategy going forward - but it's a great way to feel out the market.

hdivider 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I've been wondering about this myself. In a typical, successful B2B cold call, how does the conversation actually go?
mindcrime 16 hours ago 1 reply      
It's more "cold email" for us, but yes to some extent. I think some of the keys are to be:

1. brief

2. relevant

3. professional

I think in terms of the cold email pitches I get, and think of which ones I'm willing to consider and which ones I don't. Given that, my thinking is something like this:

Regarding 1 - If you send me a rambling 6,000 word manuscript, I'm not reading it, and I probably will hit "delete" in after about 4 seconds of skimming unless something in there really catches my eye.

Regarding 2 - this may be the most important one. If you spam me with some random crap that has no connection to what I'm doing, and/or anything I need, I'm hitting "delete" pretty much from the get-go. And if you want to sell me something, you need to talk about my needs, not your product or service. And you should have done your research ahead of time. If it's apparent to me that I'm getting something that's the result of a mail-merge run with nothing to hint that you know anything what my company does, where we are, how we operate, etc., guess what? "Delete".

Regarding 3 - If you get the name of the company wrong, have shitty grammar and / or spelling, or otherwise send me something that is barely comprehensible, it's going in the bin in the blink of an eye. And being a non-native English speaker isn't going to buy you much of an exception. I'm in America, if you want to do business with me, learn to speak English. Likewise if you're emailing somebody in Spain... learn Spanish. And get somebody to proof read your message that's fluent. I'll tolerate a small amount of sloppiness in terms of grammar and what-have you, but you have to at least make an effort.

So, my theory is... do some research up front, find out as much about the customer as you can up-front. Write something in clear English (or the appropriate language) using proper spelling and grammar. Keep it fairly short, and focus on the customer's needs, situations and problems. But I don't mean to assume they have a certain problem. I mean, phrase things in terms of "We've noticed that companies like yours often have problems like X... We are specialists in X, and I'd like a few moments to find out more about your company and whether or not you are really dealing with X". Something based on the "Core Story" approach put out by Chet Holmes would also be received well (by me anyway) as long as it isn't too long, and is backed up with credible data, etc.

Do that, and I think you have at least a shot. In my case, if you email me like that, I may simply not need whatever it is you're selling... but at least I'll read your email, consider it, and probably even reply. If you send crap, it's going straight to the trash can, often mostly (or completely) unread.

Do this... go through a bunch of the spam you get, and figure out which emails you receive well, and which ones evoke the "delete after four seconds" response. Model your own communications more after the first batch, and don't do whatever the people in the second batch are doing.

Aldo_MX 15 hours ago 0 replies      
My answer is:

  If your product/service can't be explained by e-mail,  I'm not interested in acquiring it. Please remove my number.

smelliot415 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes. Building out a list of pre-qualified contacts, then "cold calling" by means of telephone or email is one of the best ways to get in front of people that your product/service can help. The key is to be respectful of everyone's time and come to the table with something of value. And of course, pushiness or over-persistence is never appreciated. Also, "cold call" doesn't mean "blind call". The sales person should have some notion of the prospect's business, their role in that organization, and exactly where this product or service might fit in.

To those that hate receiving cold calls, remember: most of these sales development folks that call leads are fresh out of school and simply trying to gain a foothold in a hyper-competitive space. Don't let them waste your time if that's what they're doing, but have a heart!

Ask HN: Should I remind users that their card is about to be charged?
59 points by grinnick  23 hours ago   67 comments top 37
dangrossman 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I send the reminder on day 7 of 14. I've tried other schedules, but settled on 7 days as the last automatic mail. By that point in time, everyone's fallen into one of three groups:

1) Those that signed up, set up their accounts and are already getting value out of the service. They don't need the reminder, sending it is just good-will with this group.

2) Those that signed up, decided it wasn't right for them for whatever reason within the first 10 minutes, but didn't take the time to cancel. When they get the reminder and remember they're going to be charged, they cancel at this point. You've avoided the "I forgot to cancel and can't believe you charged me" problems here.

3) Those that signed up, then decided to put off actually using the account they created until later, but do intend to use it. You've reminded them to get to it sooner than later, and they still have a week to try out the service before paying for it.

And always refund customers who cancel right after the first bill. Whether you have the legal right to bill them or not is irrelevant, it's not worth the ill will. Happy ex-customers can become happy customers again in the future.

codegeek 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Please inform the user. It is called "being nice" even though you probably are not legally bound to. In fact, you could very well be within your terms to charge them because that's what free trials are for right ? If I was that user and you sent me the email, I will do these things:

  1. Be really happy that you informed me.   2. Cancel my subscription if i really don't need your service. Renew it *happily* if I want your service.
But the most important thing that will happen is that I will remember you/your company that you employ good practice. If it comes down to choosing b/w you and someone else and the difference is marginal, guess who will I choose ? If a friend asks me for a service similar to yours, guess who will I recommend ? Happy customers (even ex-customer) can help you in many ways even if they are not paying you.

Now, let's look at the other side of it. If you do not email me, you will make some money from me in the short term. But I will ensure that I remember you for the wrong reasons. I will also ensure that if someone asks me about you, I will tell them to stay away. Heck, if I really took it personally, I will even write a hate blog and submit it on HN. Imagine the PR issues you could potentially have.

So be nice and it always comes back to help you. Even if you are not making money from a user in the short term, who knows that user might be able to help you indirectly in securing a lot more users who will pay. May be.

bdunn 22 hours ago 1 reply      
When I collected cards upfront for Planscope, I sent out an email 3 days before their 14 day trial ended. The next email they'd get would be an invoice email when their trial expired, and they'd continue to get these emails each month when they were billed.

When Gmail rolled out tabs, I started getting a lot of people who were unexpectedly billed. My "trial expired emails" were usually lumped into the Promotions tab, which doesn't have as much urgency attached, and thus there was definitely a spike in cancelations after that first invoice (people always see those invoice emails; they sometimes miss the "trial expiring and your card will be billed" emails :-)

When you take cards upfront:

* You'll get much higher trial to paid conversion rates. Mine was about 45%

* You'll get a lot of cancellations after that first bill goes through. If you calculate churn based off of "paid accounts who cancel", it will be artificially inflated. Try tracking it against customers who have paid you at least 2x.

* If you want to make your life a bit easier, automatically refund people who cancel within a given window after their first bill.

* Please don't bill people without sending them an email invoice. It's just wrong.

* Don't stake your business on one-off customers. If someone wants their money back, give it back (within reason, obviously. I'll by default refund the last month.) I've had people come back when they really needed Planscope, refer others, etc. And plus, chargebacks are messy.

I'm no longer collecting cards upfront, and I've finally got MRR growth back on track. I made the mistake of simply changing the signup form / billing code without making heavy modifications to the marketing site and onboarding flow, which caused a huge drop in growth after that change.

andrewingram 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting example I stumbled across:

Match.com typically take your subscription fee every 6 months, they won't remind you before they take the money. They also won't let you unsubscribe immediately after they take the money, they claim that payment is still in progress, even though the money has already been taken. It's not until a few days later that you can unsubscribe. Essentially it seems that they've realised that the most likely time for someone to unsubscribe is immediately after they pay, because with 6 months of membership it's easy to forget that you've even got a subscription unless you're a very active user.

I consider this to be a dark pattern because it plays on people's forgetfulness.

My Rules:

- Give people enough warning before taking payment that they can reasonably be able to decline the transaction. The only real reason someone should miss this warning is if they're taking a long vacation.

- Don't do evil stuff after taking payment to prevent them from unsubscribing from the next payment

- Have a nice buyers remorse window, allowing a user to reverse the transaction that's already occurred.

greenyoda 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd much prefer if you would not take my credit card number at all until I confirm that I want to convert from a free trial to a paying customer. I very rarely sign up for free services that require handing over payment information up front. After all, if you're legitimately offering a free trial, there's no reason you'd actually need my credit card number. If I lose interest in your free service after a few days, I don't want the hassle of having to remember to cancel to avoid a charge. I don't want to have to worry about being charged before the free trial is over (I've never heard of your company, so I don't know if you're honest). It just adds too much useless stress to the process. If I keep my credit card in my pocket, I know I'm in control.

Also, I think that the observation that you get much higher conversion rates from people who provide credit card info up front is debatable. It suffers from survivor bias: you might get a lot more paying customers from the group of potential customers who refused to sign up for your trial because you asked for payment info up front. That could be pushing away 95% of all your potential customers, but you'd never know it.

binarymax 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Warn them and give them a link to unsubscribe easily, but don't miss out on the opportunity to collect a single data point on why they are unsubscribing (checkboxes or buttons for 'Didnt use it', 'Didnt find it useful', 'Too expensive', 'Buggy', etc...
k2enemy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
As many others have mentioned, the "right" thing to do is warn them. Also, if you don't warn them, you are starting to get into "negative option" territory, and you need to be careful about how you disclose this to your customers: http://www.responsemagazine.com/direct-response-marketing/le...
DrJokepu 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is super simple. If you're ok with taking people's money who wouldn't pay for your service otherwise, go ahead and don't send a reminder. If you prefer to only take money from customers who are satisfied enough with your service to pay for it, send a reminder. Only you can decide which type of business you want to run.
martswite 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never understood why any service should need my card details if I'm signing up for a free trial. I now don't sign up to free trials that require payment details up front because, often, there isn't any warning before the trial period ends and a large charge can then get taken.

If I like your service and it's useful to me after the free trial ends I'll sign up and add my payment details.

I'm probably just cynical before my time but I see it as preying on people who are forgetful, to take their money.

In answer to your question though. I'd send a reminder it's polite.

thenduks 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The CC-required-for-trial thing is a form of 'negative option billing' and, IMO, it would be best not to do it. Many companies have stopped (a high profile example: 37signals no longer requires credit cards to signup for Basecamp).

Braintree has a good article on it [1]. In that article are some recommendations for when you must do negative option billing - one of which is to send them a warning 5 days before billing.

[1]: https://www.braintreepayments.com/blog/negative-option

krapp 22 hours ago 0 replies      
>Might be a good way to keep some customers that might have canceled.

Pretty much by definition, if they weren't aware they were going to be charged and would have canceled had they known, they're not 'customers.'

rkalla 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't spend the mental energy to try and figure out if you should be "sneaky" or not -- don't be -- be open and honest, users will remember it, appreciate it and if your product is valuable, your business will grow.

If being sneaky with reminder emails is _what_ makes your business successful, then you are standing in quicksand.

mattmaroon 19 hours ago 0 replies      
My advice: send the notification. It sets the tone of your relationship between yourself and your user. You send that notification (which most companies do not) and you're sending the message that you want to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship with your customers rather than just make a quick dollar.

Yes, you'll make less this way in the short term. Automatically charging but offering a refund if someone is upset will convert more, and automatically charging with no refunds will convert more than that.

But I suspect that if you look five years down the line, setting a good tone between yourself and your users will pay the most. Those who decide not to subscribe immediately are still potential future customers, and know other potential future customers.

japhyr 22 hours ago 0 replies      
If a small percentage of your users end up feeling tricked into having their card charged, it's going to be bad PR. It seems much better to lose some conversions, but keep your integrity.

If it motivates you at all, anyone who cancels after receiving this notification was not likely to be a long-term customer anyway. So all you will be losing is a month's paid service from the people who don't really want to pay for your service. That's not good money to try and hold onto.

I prefer the suggestion by another person that recommends simply disabling the free trial until the person chooses to have their card charged the first time. That seems the most honest way.

rs 18 hours ago 0 replies      
You should send a reminder, even if it's just a few days before you take the charge. It's not just a Good Thing To Do, but it will even reduce the risk of charge-backs.

As your business grows and you take on more payments, you will find there are a small group of your customers who will look at their credit card bill at the end of the month (or months) and just call up the credit card company to charge back items that they don't recognise (due to them not recognising the charge (innocent mistake) or they genuinely didn't use your service and feel "cheated")

On a side note, why do you take CC info at signup ? I've done about 4 SaaS currently live, and not a single one takes CC information upfront, but rather send them a reminder to pay an invoice as their trial reaches it's end.

robhu 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with the other comments that it would be 'nice' to warn them (and give them a 1 click unsubscribe)... but most companies (in the UK) allow you to sign up to free trials online but to unsubscribe you have to call them.

I presume this is because by making the barrier to unsubscribe higher you get fewer people unsubscribe, and probably some people who don't use a service but remain subscribed because they don't notice.

It's also common to require x (where x is 28?) advance notification for unsubscribing, so even when you do so you usually end up paying for another month anyway.

Some services (e.g. The Times Online) give you a free (or reduced price) trial, after which you agree to a 12 / 18 month subscription. This seems even more evil, but I guess they do it because it 'works' and they're about making money rather than being nice.

bhartzer 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Sending them a reminder seems fair. And as dangrossman suggests, sending it on the 7th day is logical. But I would go one step further: take the time to ask the user if they're liking the service and if they have any feedback. I would also remind them in that email that their credit card is going to be charged.
centdev 10 hours ago 0 replies      
We have a similar setup. 15 day trial with cc as per of registration. We sent a few emails in thos 15 days. 1st is the welcome. If they haven't logged in more than once we send another email on day 7 to be sure see the value and if they need help and about their trial. On day 14 we send a reminder about their trial. Day 15 we charge. We will gladly refund the charge up before their 2nd due date.
denizozger 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Let your users know because:

1) Optimizely's bad process is an opportunity for you to have something better. "All our competitors trick you so that's usual and don't be mad at us" kind of attitude is quite mediocre.2) Showing that you care about customers would improve brand loyalty thus keep users and would benefit you in the long run, than a couple of tricky financial profits3) It's the nicer thing to do and you'd keep your integrity.

lauradhamilton 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely warn them. And make it very easy to cancel (e.g., 1 click).
al2o3cr 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, you probably should do this - surprise billing will get you angry didn't-really-want-to-be customers and bad PR.

A nearly-zero-effort way to do this is to listen for the customer.subscription.trial_will_end webhook from Stripe - they'll send it to your app 3 days before the trial ends.

gr2020 21 hours ago 0 replies      
My app has a 7-day trial, and requires a credit card up front. I try not to beat people over the head with a note about an upcoming charge - what I do is, 3 days before the trial ends, I send an email asking how the trial is going, and if they have any questions I can answer.

It serves as a subtle reminder that the trial is about to end, while offering to help at the same time.

johnmurch 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I would recommend a reminder email as more of a curtsy. In terms of tracking/updating CC when they expire or have issues, checkout http://churnbuster.io/ as a way to help with Churn.
guan 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it matter how much the charge is? Personally I would appreciate a reminder of a $100+ charge, but I dont want 2 emails (reminder + receipt) for every $5 recurring charge.
Oculus 22 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're a one man show, keep in mind that all those users sending you emails about unwanted charges create a big customer support overhead. That's time taken away from marketing or improving your product. Instead of wasting their time and your's, just send them a heads up email.
bliti 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you tried offering other plans? Your service seems to be one that people could use in the long term. Maybe 3, 6, and 12 month plans. Do like web hosts, and offer a slight discount (over month-to-month plans) as an incentive. Also, I think $29 is a bit too low for this kind of service. That's less than $360 dollars a year from a customer's marketing budget. Which is nothing.
debacle 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Would you want to be notified? I certainly would.

Linode sends out an invoice email every month, usually a day or so before I see the charge show up. I have no reason to cancel, but I appreciate that they do that.

alphaa 19 hours ago 0 replies      
That's funny. I glanced at the headline and then started writing my comment without reading your post. I started writing about how annoying I found it when Optimizely started billing me after my free trial. Yes, I was using the service, but I hadn't made my mind up about. It's just an opportunity to help people trust you. Send them a reminder 24 hours before "we're going to charge you"...especially for a year of service. Come on!
DominikR 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Are you even allowed to store CC details of your customers on your servers?

I know that you are not forced to be PCI compliant by law, but if you are not and your database is leaked, you will be liable for any damages that result from that leak.

Anyways, I wouldn't ask for CC at signup because your business may come across as untrustworthy or a scam when asking for such data when the user is not buying anything at the moment.

Edit: Sorry my fault, somehow ignored the part of his message stating that he is using Stripe.

PinguTS 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Take an example with Squarespace. No CC details just for the trial and if CC details then just end the trial without going directly into the subscription model.
linuxlizard 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, please!

Even with recurring annual charges (e.g., DropBox), I like getting notification that I'm about to be charged. With new charges after a trial, it's even nicer because it's a reminder that this thing is about to start costing me money. Sometimes I sign up, try it, and then forgot about it (usually something I need occasionally like proXPN).

onion2k 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Warn them.
ctdonath 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy customers bring you more money. Irritated customers go elsewhere.
lgas 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the answer to these types of question is usually pretty easy if you just put yourself in your users' shoes. What would you want the company to do if you were the user. Do that.
etanazir 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Disable the free trial service until they confirm purchase.
mknits 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, of course.
afhsfsfdsss88 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know a person alive that doesn't like having options. I would appreciate just being asked.
Ask HN: Help. I need to go away from here
67 points by watermel0n  1 day ago   96 comments top 57
simias 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Come on, don't be a drama queen, as a european citizen how can you be trapped? You can go work anywhere in Europe without visa.

I'm in France and we're not well renowned for our startup scene, but you can still find something interesting if you look hard enough and build your skillset, either through more boring jobs or the open source "scene".

And if tomorrow I can't find any appealing job in France I'll just move to Germany, the UK or wherever.

The only thing that's stopping you is your fears, your skills and/or your ambitions.

I wish you the best of luck but please try to get a little perspective, there are millions of people who are trapped right now in countries at war.

And without looking for war-torn countries, us people in the IT crowd have it really easy in the job market compared to... well almost anybody else these days in Europe really, possibly with the exception of traders.

edent 1 day ago 3 replies      
There are lots of options - but it's up to you to make them happen.

* Speak to someone. I know you feel like you're alone - but you're not. Find a local tech group and speak to the people there. If you're feeling really down, speak to a mental health professional. It's a great feeling to get something off your chest.

* Find a job in London - or any other UK city. You seem to have good written English and you're a European citizen so shouldn't have any visa issues.

* Start your own consultancy - either work for small local companies or use oDesk and bid for work.

* Take a "day job" and concentrate on your passions in your free time. Grinding away in a Java shop may be dull - but could provide you with enough cash to start an interesting side project.

* Finally, don't worry about starting small. My first job out of university was driving a truck and delivering PCs! A bit shitty, but it provided a springboard to all sorts of interesting work.

Good luck!

ig1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Move to a tech hub in Europe, given you speak English then London would be the obvious option (Berlin might be another option if you want to work for startups). There's also other countries in Europe where you can study post-grad CS in English (e.g. the Netherlands, Sweden, etc.).

If you're interested in getting into the job market there's plenty of tech companies in London who are willing to hire people straight out of university. It might be easier to get into big companies (as they're more willing to provide training and pay for flights, hotels, etc. to bring you over for interviews) than smaller startups though.

jnardiello 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Well, first of all: i'm excited to see so many italians over here. We are a quiet but strong community :)

As most of the people already said: i feel your pain. There are MANY good advices on here and others have already highlighted most of the options you have. I passed (actually, not yet completely) thru a similar situation. When i was your age, i was completely crushed and just said "fuck you" to everything and left for seeking opportunities and a break abroad. It was a mistake. What really happened was that i was out of control and while i found some opportunities, in the mid-term they were just a waste of time and added very little value to my life in terms of knowledge and new opportunities.

1) Leaving Italy and work abroad can be rewarding BUT you need to do it at the right time. First: you need to be REALLY GOOD and competitive in programming. Master your tools and (IMHO) it is very unlikely that you are at the required level right now.

2) Mastering tools does NOT mean to learn how to use Angular or learn about the latest framework. Languages, frameworks and libraries are an implementation detail. To master your tools, you need to be a lot better than that (or you'll just become a coding monkey). Therefore, stick to your university, focus on patterns and learn real coding best practices.

3) Get out of your room. Start to attend to User Groups in your city. Choose something you like (for example, if you are in Milan, i highly recommend you to join us at the PHP User Group or at the Extreme programming user group). You will meet quite-above-average passionate programmers. You will also have the chance to meet inspiring companies that won't think twice hiring you if you put the right amount of effort and are passionate about programming. University IS important, but if you feel crushed and unrewarded by it, consider taking it "easier" and start looking for the right working opportunity. This is the thing that changed completely my life.

4) Don't be afraid to say "F-ck you". Most of the people out there IS just so mediocre, it is a fact. Avoid them, both on the professional and personal levels. Avoid close-to-slavery jobs proposals. Avoid compromises, understand that every time you waste a minute with any of these mediocre situations, you have a minute less to spend on what you like and with whom you love. They don't deserve it. You are a lot better than that.

5) It is true that you are not alone. The vibrant and exciting community is just hidden. There are AMAZING programmers in Italy, i'll be happy to introduce some to you :)

6) Understand that in this moment of your life (if i correctly intended your call for help), you need to recover balance. Balance is the starting point for building great things.

Those are just few advices, but they are the core that allowed me to revolutionize for the best my life in the last 6 months. My goal is to give you some very practical and achievable advices. I hope that my feedback somehow helped. If you feel like getting in touch, just write me :) Keep up and be amazing! We live life only once, there's no time for this kind of bad feelings.

kfk 23 hours ago 1 reply      
As Italian myself, I lived almost 5 years ago and I have never looked back. If you want an advise, live. If you can go to US good, otherwise almost any other country would do too.

But you are not trapped... You are what? 23? With a EU Visa. At this age you can take 1 year off and go to a place, any place, that you like and start from there.

Finally, do you actually have a github? If you are studying 10 hrs a day to be "third in your final year", then that's why you are trapped. You are trapped in that terrible Italian way of thinking that grades are all that matters. Get lower grades and go build stuff, get a job, even a "normal" job like a waiter will teach you a lot.

ninh 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: co-founder of a company called Phusion who started the company in his final year of graduating CS... in Enschede, The Netherlands (a city you might have never heard of before, and that I wanted to mention just to underline that it's possible to create a company pretty much anywhere thanks to the internet).

I think what you're struggling with is more of a mentality thing. I used to think I was trapped like you (but then took a macbook to the knee ;-)), but figured out there were a few things I could do about it:

- Complain about it (i.e. stating the obvious) which would not solve my situation.

- Move to the states to found the company there, which would not solve the situation for future generations.

- Try to deal with it somehow, and try to contribute our little share in the hopes of cultivating a local tech industry.

We chose the latter, because we're the adventurous type I guess and would love to see NL get on the map when it comes to tech startups. Even though this arguably has made things a lot harder for us than they needed to be, we learned a lot by doing it this way. The absence of like-minded people was especially hard for us: startups tend to take a lot of time to set up and can be pretty lonely if you don't have people around you that are going through similar stuff as you are. We eventually found a precious few of them in Amsterdam, with whom we regularly have coffee with up till this very day. Now, Italy is a lot larger than the Netherlands so I suspect there are more startups there as well; you just need to find them, perhaps this post will contribute in finding them.

Unless you're on an applied university, from my experience, programming isn't really taught at CS at university level. Instead, the focus is put more teaching you "a way of thinking" and it assumes that you'll pick up things like programming in languages like Python/Ruby, and learn about REST on your own time.

I believe you might have enrolled into university with the wrong set of expectations: during my entire CS curriculum, I've only had 2 programming courses, but they were focussed more on the paradigms than elaborating syntax; the latter things were assumed trivial and had to be figured out on your own time.

It's easy to get caught up in things that an "environment" is doing wrong, and to lose sight in what it does right. Personally, I can't imagine living somewhere else at this moment in my life than the Netherlands for example, where we have pretty good healthcare, affordable universities, and so forth. If you're unable to come up with a list like this, then it might indeed be a good idea to consider moving to another country for a little while and see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side. Shouldn't be too hard as an EU citizen right? :)

CalRobert 1 day ago 2 replies      
Presumably you're an EU citizen. Move to Berlin, London, Dublin, Warsaw, and pick up from there. If your English needs work, work on it. Build your own projects.

I moved from California to Dublin and the startup scene is really good here. You have options.

jalan 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I live in India, and I face the same situation time and again, which you are facing now.

I've come to a conclusion that it's because of Hacker News, the more you see HN, the more you get worried by watching a lot of start-ups growing in front of you, and you can't do nothing but press an upvote button, applauding their success.

What you need to do is close HN and minimize the time you spend on it, instead work on something, start small and don't get depressed easily.

The stories you see on HN are months hard work, they also feel same time and again, but they don't lose hope.

I know my comment is bit harsh and not sympathetic, but IMHO right now you don't need sympathy instead you need motivation.

Work Hard! Good Luck.

dariot 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Junior Italian programmer here. I totally get your point, the thing is here in Italy we're used to a different level of expertise than most of the rest of the world.

I don't know which university you're attending but it's highly likely they're teaching you either useless stuff or useful stuff in a very superficial manner (which will be nowhere near enough for passing a technical interview in the U.S., for example).

As somebody else has already said, one of the best things you can do is to get (very) good at programming. There's a lot of material available on the web for studying on your own and practicing your skills: TopCoder and HackerRank are the first two websites that come to mind. Study hard and practice there, some of the problems you find on those websites are very close to the ones people will ask you during technical interviews. You'll need to be quick and accurate in an interview, so be sure to understand why a certain algorithm/data structure works for a given problem. It's hard and it requires a lot of time, but since you're a student time is on your side (trust me, when you'll be working time will be your most valuable resource).

Another good thing to do IMHO is to practice programming using open source resources such as GitHub: build a nice repo of projects and you'll get noticed. A couple years ago I made a stupidly simple JavaScript program (which I've since deleted) that changed the font size of a text, giving it the shape of a wave, a slope, etc. Very simple, very stupid, but still: I posted it here on HN and I got a couple people watching my GitHub repo. Also, working on personal projects is good for learning programming practices (how to structure code, how to design classes, etc.).

As a final note, it may be hard to believe but there are some nice programming jobs here: you just have to look very hard to find them. Don't settle for the first job offer you get: I know the market is pretty bad here at this moment but still, unless you really (and I do mean really) need the money, keep looking and most important of all, keep practicing. Experience pays off.

You can find some of my contact info on my profile, let me know if you have some questions.

Good luck.

watermel0n 19 hours ago 0 replies      
OP Here.

So I was definitely over-worried.I learned a lot today and was something that I was not expecting at all.

First I would say to everyone that criticized my post: THANKS. Really thank you, because you made me feel better.

I read every comment here and got some useful advices. Also I talked in private with some great people and received lots of emails with great advices.

I really didn't know about the European Startup scene. Lots of people suggested that I should move to London or Berlin. Thing is the internet and web startups are mainly US based that's my kind of trap that I felt.

...Thank you

fisadev 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly, you are living in a first world country, and you are able to live in almost any other first world country without much effort. You could go to germany, UK, france... and being a good developer, I'm sure you will find a nice job in any of them.

So, no, you are not "trapped" as far as I know (based on what you say).

To add a little perspective: there are people in countries at war. And people living in countries where the government doesn't allow them to leave. Haven't you seen the pull request comment everybody was talking about yesterday? (somebody answering a pull request telling he won't be able to work on it because of an ongoing revolution in his country).

I myself live in a country where I can't buy dollars without a special government permission (try to leave the country without any cash...). I can't even buy stuff on the internet without having to sign an affidavit each time, and I'm only allowed do that 2 times a year. That is much closer to be "trapped", and even here, I was able to find a really nice job where I can work on AI, python, and other nice things.

davidw 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm an American in Italy, so while there are things I don't like here, I don't feel 'trapped' - I can always go home.

Go to London or Berlin or something. There are tons of Italians in both places working in tech.

Where do you live in Italy? There are good companies here and there if you look hard.

Say hi if you're ever near Padova, where I live. Offer goes for anyone on HN, for that matter.

Robin_Message 23 hours ago 0 replies      
> apply for a job/internship in the U.S

Definitely apply for a job in the U.K. It's like the U.S., only smaller, nearer, and entirely straightforward for an Italian to get a job here (I assume you are Italian living in Italy. Otherwise, maybe its no easier).

Also, don't despair! You've got plenty of time. If you get a good job that is too easy, then focus on enjoying your passions, then finding ways to get paid for them.

English university: I wouldn't bother. If you've got a degree that's enough. Getting more coding experience and knowing what you're interested in will make a master's more interesting and useful if you do decide to get one.

krumiro79 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm Italian and moved to London 3 years ago. I had a nice 10-min commute permanent job and a mortgage but I was feeling pretty much like you. I decided to escape and spent all my savings (not much really) to move a abroad and experience something different.

I did it for me, for my job, for my family and my future. And I'm doing good (I'm a software dev in a financial company) and I really feel all these efforts were worth it.

I've learnt a lot of things and still learning, but most of all... I'm happy to have left my country to its decline and contribute with my best to UK, which is giving me the opportunity of a better living. I only live once, I can't afford to fix Italy.

I think Italy is still a little treasure chest.... but it's living in the past. My suggestion is to move away as soon as you graduate (or even now if you wish) and go to some other country like Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands or UK. I'm sure you'll be fine.

nmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should not feel trapped. Programming, more than most sectors, grants you the liberty to choose your next job very freely, and to ease your mind about quitting your previous job.

Because: if you are good, people will fight to work with you. So be good.

Then, if you dislike your job, just stash some money and quit. Your savings will easily carry you for the few months you might need to find a really interesting job.

* * *

To sum up:

- You "love programming", so you should enjoy doing it for a living, as long as the project is interesting

- There are lots of interesting projects out there

- Regardless of whether the project is interesting, you will be well-paid

So my advice is: be well-paid for a while, and if you are not interested in the project, just quit. There is plenty of other fish in the sea.

jmngomes 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm in Portugal and understand how you feel, as it's basically the same thing here.

I've also got some experience under my belt that proves to me that, if you want to do something meaningful, you have to start it yourself, otherwise there's a strong poossibility that you'll get trapped in one of the "drone" jobs you mentioned.

But you have another option, that's been mentioned here. There's more world outside of the US. You can start applying to great companies doing cool stuff in the EU (Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Paypal, etc) and you can even get a job now that allows you to build the skills you need to work on one of these companies in a year, if you don't have them already.

The only thing that seems to stand in your way, apparently, is your anxiety about an eventual lack of options, which is understandable.

But you do have options. Actually, being "in computers", you have more options than 90% of the workforce, as there's demand for your skills.

So, just trust yourself, give it a (serious) try.

Start working on getting out, or starting something of your own. Otherwise, I agree that you risk wasting a lot of time and emotional health on a dead end job.

carlob 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a completely different story: I spent 4+ years abroad and I wanted to go back to Italy so badly that I found a remote job.

If you look through my history you'll be able to find a blog post that tells the story. I'm more than willing to tell you more if you want and maybe hook you up for an internship.

mess 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As other have already said, this is not a real problem.So calm down.

Just keep pushing for what you want, whatever it takes, keep pushing.

When I was 15, I was working on a supermarket in Buenos Aires, Argentina in one of the worst and most violent neighbourhoods. I worked there until I was 20. I had a very hard time going from college to work every day, and then to work even more hours and going at night to the university. Working on computers was what I loved and it was impossible there and I felt exactly like you, or worse, with a very deep depression. Fortunately, my parents are Italian and I have an Italian passport, so I moved to Spain (I don't speak much italian) with 2000 euros in my pocket and without any friend/family there. I was 21 Years old and left behind everything I had. After 6 months in Madrid I had new and good friends, a job in at an internet company that I liked a lot, rented my own flat, approved the exams for the university, and a even had girlfriend I still have today.

I used to go to the university during the day, then to sleep 6 horus then and work from 23pm to 7am every day. Now I'm 31 years old, I live in London, work for one of the most important tech companies in the world, earn a lot of money and I don't even put an alarm clock in the morning.I've been very lucky so far too.

Every year I go back to see my family and friends in Buenos Aires. I miss them a LOT. But heck, that's sacrifice you have to do and every time I go there I'm even more proud of the choices I did, the most important ones of my life and I think I did the best thing I could have done.

How much do you want it? Keep pushing until you get what you want.

seffignoz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Italian here as well, graduated few months ago from a MsC., I feel your pain.Was for a full year in USA for an internship, I can say that it has changed my life, and my view on work.

I refused hundreds of Job offers from Italy (even with a decent salary), to chase something abroad. Now I am happily working at one of the top tech companies, in Dublin.

I had a hard time at university. The italian university are broken, seriously, They focus on a lot of theory and zero to no practice.

My personal advice is, to believe in yourself, develop yourself, study new technologies and skills required by the market, find your perfect 'career' path. You won't find hard finding a really good job in Europe or USA if you have the right skills.

P.S. don't accept ANY of the Italian initial offers, look outside, practice with spoken English and send Resum's abroad (Don't be scared about the big companies, they need you more than everybody else, and they are hiring like crazy.)

Don't start working in Italy in a typical "consultancy" job, or you will be stuck forever with a low-wage low-experience job.

merlinsbrain 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Its okay. You've hit a wall. We all do. Proof: medium.com/p/7be937d26bb4

I started talking to people. I started using twitter and IRC and telling people I have no idea about what to do but I want to do a lot. Who would care really, right?

Wrong. Open source is not just code put there on Github for everyone to see.

Open source is a philosophy & community. In particular for me, the Python community stepped up big time.

Bad college? Come to India, we have factories which churn out hundreds and thousands of 'engineers' every year.

Its been 6 months since the post. I'm no awesome programmer, but I can find my way around. I can read 2 Scoops of Django and Pro Django and I'm starting to understand what they're saying. I can code in Python fluently. Good/bad, all subjective. I can build things and I'm happy.

Its not a one time thing. I'm on IRC a few times a week on the Django, scikit-learn and now AngularJS community. I've spoken to crazy programmers and padawans just like you and me.

Get out there, not here. Spend time building.

PS - I'm self taught in machine learning which I was recently making a living off of. On sabbatical now and programming web and mobile when I'm not studying my ML stuff. Re-read, self taught. Its possible! :)

PS 2 - I don't like Java either. But the people I'm collaborating with for ML projects, despite my Python ML experience, want Java. So what do I do? I'm learning AngularJS right now, how do I pick up Java 7/8 after last touching Java 5 in '10 as a student in above mentioned factory?I pick up a book, an open source project and the docs. I learn. Build. And break. It happens.

PS 3 - I'm working on Django REST and AngularJS integration. Thought it would be straightforward, maybe it is, wasn't for me. Let's not fret. Get on IRC, a book, Github open source and play!

-- Cheers from someone who gets ya.I emphasise, I would be nowhere without the people of the community who have taken out time to show me the way.

I'm on twitter, same handle and my email is in my profile. I'm no genius, just a 25yo who knows I haven't seen anything in life yet and am no longer scared of boxes/walls (not that they're easy to overcome, I just don't fret anymore).

weddpros 1 day ago 1 reply      
Alternatives :

- send your resum to uk/ireland/switzerland to get a good paying job where you can sharpen your skills (it's easy to relocate inside Europe)

- start your own business if you're living at your parents AND if you feel like you can be an entrepreneur... focus on international users (so you can host your company somewhere else easily later). It's only risky to start a business if you have something to lose. If you're living at your parents', there's basically no risk.

- get a job, save AS MUCH money as possible, learn as much as you can. Do it for 1 or 2 years, then leave to a sunny paradise (in asia?) where you may want to become an entrepreneur.

But do yourself a favor: don't expect others to be your only chance. YOU are your only chance.

CiaranR 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Like many other have said Europe is on your doorstep. I run and engineering team in London and most of my recent hires have been people emigrating from countries like Spain, Italy and Poland. For most they are coming from backgrounds similar to yours. Our Office is hugely diverse with staff from all over the world. This is the case with most London startups and the are looking looking for talented engineers to join them.

If you are interested check our or jobs page http://busuu.com/jobs or email me on jobs@busuu.com mentioning HN so I know its you

Good luck with the future you are only getting started!

gvdp 2 hours ago 0 replies      
As an Italian expat myself (now an American expat to Europe), having been in the same situation you are now, I'd like to give you my opinion, based on my experience and life (with all the caveats that those two imply).

It sums up in a few steps:

1. Save some money for at least two months of surviving (not living large.. surviving).2. Pick a city among London, Edinburgh, or Amsterdam.Find a cheap place to sleep & eat.3. Book a ticket.4. Pack your bag.5. Move.6. Apply to any job in your field. Do start with internships or entry level jobs.7. Get better at the craft.8. Repeat from step 6, optionally step 2, till you are content.

In short, it's all up to you, so just do it. Seriously.

You are young and in a field wide open. You live in a first world country surrounded by more first world countries. Today is so easy to emigrate that it's ridiculous.By the way, you'll find out that the grass on the other side is not that green.. but that's something that will take time.

I'd like to add two more controversial opinions:

. It's really hard to be an expat. No matter where you're from and which country you go.

. Forget the USA for now. Is not what it used to be, and this coming from someone who went to the US, and is now an American. Go to England or the Netherlands. Germany is good too!


mjhoy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have faith in patience. Good things will come. Stick with what inspires you. What I took from university, I took from two excellent professors out of dozens -- they are who matter (and I did not study CS). Don't grasp for "getting out," dive deeper into what interests you and see what happens naturally. Get involved with a community; open source, hacker meetups, etc. You will know where to go soon enough.
PaulRobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
You're an EU citizen. You shouldn't have a problem getting work in Berlin or London.

There is a ton of work in the UK at the moment, not just in London but also up in Manchester and Leeds. Plenty of people will be happy to pay you a decent living wage if you can show you can work hard and know your stuff.

Good luck.

rudyrigot 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm from France, now based in San Francisco, and the situation in France is similar to the one in Italy; some interesting startups, but you have to "know someone" to get in, and a generally conservative culture that appreciates to compare present to the past, rather than project to the future.

What I can tell you now that I've done what you dream to do: - You're not as stuck as you think you are (even without a visa). The startup scenes are more progressive in London, Berlin or Amsterdam, although not quite as much as in the SF Bay, of course. If I lost my right to be in the US, I would be amazingly disappointed, but I would simply go to one of these cities, and stop worrying about my country being far behind. I only realized this once my plan to get here was on track, so I stayed in Paris far too long, I'm afraid, but you don't have to make that mistake. - You have a decision to make about effort. Legally moving to SF with a job and legally moving to London with a job are both possible things, they just take a different amount of effort. For London, you'll have to make a little money first to make sure you can go from time to time to look for your next life, and to make the big move when the time comes. For the US, you'll have to make far more money first, come here 3 revenue-less months to look for a job, limit yourself to large companies (those that mind visas issues less), be overly patient with people who don't mind abusing your weakness, ... It took me 5 years to make it with this project, and I'm still one of the lucky ones; but I was willing to take a chance, and to keep fighting through the effort. - There's another road that is made possible by the European crisis; it's riskier, but faster: create your own startup. Work a Java dev job at the same time, but find an awesome startup idea, and work on it on your free time. Find time (and money) to come meet investors in SF (save money and time, and make sure you'll have interviews before coming). Investors in the US know that there are no serious investors in France or Italy these days, so they love to meet European entrepreneurs with nice startups, who are willing to move to SF. Once you're well-funded, getting a visa gets much easier.

Get in touch with me if you need help with anything else.

michaelochurch 19 hours ago 0 replies      
You're in the EU, which is not trapped. You're having "grass is greener" syndrome. Americans envy Europeans for their 5 weeks of vacation and high-quality healthcare. (All taken, the EU package is better.) I don't think Europeans have US envy in general, but NYC and the Valley (which are world capitals that happen to be in the US) still have a draw. Even still... I think you're exaggerating the appeal.

Sturgeon's Law: 90 Percent of Everything Is Crap. It's true in Italy, I'd imagine. It's also true in the Valley. For everyone founding an exciting startup, there are hundreds of cubicle drones at places like Oracle. Coming to the US and working in the Valley won't automatically make life amazing.

Anyway, the Valley is a really shitty place (suburban purgatory) to be unless (a) you attend Stanford or (b) you're a venture-funded founder or VC. Without (a) or (b) you're likely to find the same anonymous corporate grind you can find in small-town Pennsylvania (where I originally come from) or a conservative, risk-averse European city.

If you find a specific job in the US then, by all means, come over. But my advice in general would be to find something of quality in the EU; it's probably easier for you, right now, to do that than to find quality in the US. You're not "trapped" just because TechCrunch and Valleywag aren't interested in covering the companies in countries accessible to you (the whole EU, I believe). Anyway, most of those VC darling companies are awful places to work. You probably over-value the Valley startup scene because you read too much HN. Most of the startups in the U.S. (yes, even in the Valley) are also hellish, overly bureaucratic for their size, and dominated by conservative MBA culture.

If you end up in a job that's "bureaucratic" after college, fine. Learn what you can. Use it as an opportunity to learn about people and how they work together. Figure out why it sucks. Keep the technical skills sharp and continue getting better at solving problems. Expect it to take years before any of this pays off. That's how it is for most people in the real world.

Good luck.

smoyer 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Take a look at Balsamiq ... a startup in Italy that definitely doesn't suck. And I'm guessing that Peldi can point you to others.

Note: It doesn't mean you have to stay

oscardelben 23 hours ago 0 replies      
You can go to the US with a J1 visa until you finish your studies but it's hard. I would suggest finding something in London or Berlin first. There is also lots of remote work too. Personally, what I did to get out of there is creating an online identity (github, LinkedIn) and after a while you will start receiving offers. I'd also recommend applying to the hiring threads here on hn. That worked pretty well for me in the past.
maratd 23 hours ago 0 replies      
> I tried to look away, apply for a job/internship in the U.S. but the reason is always the same: visas are hell. I would do anything to get my way out.

You did say you're willing to do anything, right?

There are a lot of good suggestions on here and this is far from your best one ... but there are a lot of American women your age in Italy. You get an American girlfriend, marry her, that's an automatic path to US citizenship. Be genuine, obviously, and don't get involved with her just for this, but it would be a nice bonus for you if you did.

ses 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I hear you on the lack of focus on modern technologies in universities - but the same is true here in the UK for the most part. It's understandable with the European economy being the way it is, and some countries really suffering, you would want to find a better life elsewhere.

One of the problems is that you will find many of the 'enterprise' jobs that you feel will trap you are commonplace in a lots of countries - certainly here in the UK and I'm sure in America also. There are more jobs in startups in the USA but not so many as you might be hoping (even if you could get a VISA). My point is the grass is not always greener on the other side.

You may actually have more success and find what you are looking for in upcoming 'developing countries' such as Mexico if you are considering all locations.

Whatever happens best of luck and I hope you find a profession you are happy with.

kroger 23 hours ago 0 replies      
As people mentioned, as an EU citizen, you can move to another European country (much easier than moving to the USA).

Since you are a student, you may want to enroll in the Erasmus Programme [1] and use it as a stepping stone.

Also, I'm curious to know where you are in Italy. Does it make sense to move to bigger cities like Milano or Roma? You'll have a better chance to meet like-minded people in a bigger city (for instance, there is a Python meetup in Milano [2]). If this makes sense, you may use this a stepping stone before moving abroad. (bigger cities are also good to meet people from other countries living in Italy, as they may help you with contacts, etc)

[1] http://www.erasmusprogramme.com[2] http://www.meetup.com/Python-Milano/events/160502642/

rwissmann 1 day ago 0 replies      
The easiest short-term solution is to work for or intern with a great company in Europe for a while, most likely in London. Your best options are a brand name tech company - Google, Palantir, Microsoft, etc. - well connected start-up - Spotify, GoCardless, Transferwise, etc. - or a technology-driven hedge fund. If you are a really good programmer there will be plenty of people happy to hire you. We have a real shortage of tech talent here. You can always transfer to the US later or get hired at a US company happy to sponsor a visa based on those credentials.

It might be worth talking to some good tech recruiters in London. Depends a bit on your background and how much of your university course you have left.

andretti1977 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm an italian 36 years old computer engineer...i understand your complaints and agree with you quite on every thing you said but you don't need to go away (even if it wouldn't be a bad idea at all). Three years ago, after working as an employee (my skills regarded most j2ee) i started working as a freelance: i grew my skills (now android, iOS, a lot of web-related technologies and languages) knew a lot of people, solved a lot of different clients needs through my skills. if you want you can freelance and you will be able to improve yourself and live a bettere life even if you live here in italy, even if we have unacceptable tax levels and burocracy.
nikolak 20 hours ago 0 replies      
You can go and work in any EU country and you're trapped!!?? Jesus Christ.

> I tried to look away, apply for a job/internship in the U.S. but the reason is always the same: visas are hell. I would do anything to get my way out.

Just a random suggestion, since you'd do anything to get out, but have you considered perhaps (I know it sounds really crazy, but hear me out) applying for jobs that aren't in US?

ggurgone 23 hours ago 0 replies      
For me the easiest way to escape from Italy was through AIESEC, a worldwide student-run organization which sends you abroad for an internship.

I ended up working in Denmark, but as far as I remember there where plenty of big corporates (like Google, IBM, Microsoft) in the network, looking for interns.

Other than that, you should definitely focus on networking, blogging, side projects/open source.

Try not to apply via the regular channels, go and find connection (i.e. actual employees) that can recommend you to recruiters

workhere-io 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Come to Denmark. We need more programmers, and as a EU citizen you have the right to work here. Everyone speaks English here. http://www.it-jobbank.dk//?lang=en
1_player 23 hours ago 0 replies      
As a fellow Italian who's recently moved to London (from Milan) and managed to escape the 9am-6pm cycle, let me summarize my last few years with these tips:

- Get into freelancing. It's gonna be hard, you won't get rich with it (at least in Italy) but it's much less stressful.

- Find some nice remote work on oDesk/Elance/whatever, possibly long term. I found a great client USA-based which I've been working with for the last 18 months, and it's still going well. Try to do some consulting work for a local company a few days per week to have a comfortable income. I was being paid 7/h as an employee, and 27/h as a consultant afterwards, in the exact same company)

- Make yourself necessary for the clients you're working with.

- Move. London's a great idea, it's more expensive than Italy but not so much as one would think (compared to Milan for example). You however _need_ to be fluent in English, if you don't want to work as a waiter as many Italians here do.

I hope this helps a bit. PM me if you wanna talk about it.

EDIT: grammar

jschmitz28 20 hours ago 0 replies      
> I have a strong passion for algorithms, data structure and complexity analysis.

Good news: You sound like a great fit as an interview passer for any large tech company in the United States.

flueedo 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I read all other comments, nothing much for me to add. Except for: If you feel that you need to leave asap, to put distance between you and your home city, just so you don't feel so trapped anymore and can maybe think more clearly, then consider that there isn't such a requirement to only move after you've been hired by some great company. Go to Berlin or some other northern big city and get any job that will pay your rent while you search for a job you really want. For example a night job as a waiter while you hunt for interviews, remote programming work,freelances,etc during the day.
markusian 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have studied in Italy too and, even if I didn't have a big passion for programming as you did, I see your point.

Apart from English University, think also about coming to study in Denmark, in particular where I'm studying now, at DTU (Technical University of Denmark).

Here the Startup scene is very vibrant and the University itself is very keen on the entreprenurial scene, with a lot of possibilities for student that want to open their own companies.

On the other side, the lectures are very practical, so you could apply your bachelor background in more close-to-real-life projects. You'll also work quite often in groups, as in a real job, and the bureaucracy does not exists. You call the teachers by name, they answer emails (!), you know the date of the exam since the beginning of the semester, and you have a variety of courses you can choose from, creating your own personalized study plan.

Aaand, student jobs are quite easy to get here for Computer Science students, and the wages are quite good, even comparing them with the high cost of living.

Think about it ;)

meerita 4 hours ago 0 replies      
That's because you didn't born in Argentina. It is way worse.
hKIgB645HG 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't read all the other comments here but being an MsC. student from Switzerland that graduated recently, I can try to give you some hints. Since you started your studies 3 years ago, you most likely did not yet start your Masters degree. I would recommend you to apply at some other good university in Europe (maybe England or Switzerland) since getting a visa will be much easier. We had plenty of foreign students at the EPFL. My university also had pretty good connections with universities in the US (I did an exchange year at CMU for example).If you want to directly go for a startup, I have read that Berlin has quite an active scene in that respect. Switzerland has basically not much to offer in terms of interesting startups (although you can get very good support from universities and even the government, as far as I know).Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about studying in Switzerland.
phantom_oracle 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Fuck moving. If the area in Italy you're living in has Mediterranean weather, that beats any job.

You can now live and exist on the Internet entirely.

Start a company (register in HK or somewhere where tax isn't a bitch), hire grads like yourself. Create a community.

You may never become a billionaire with a fad product, but I personally think that bootstrapped tech firms that grow normally are the better firms (37signals and that ilk).

Besides, if its always 27 degrees and you've got some exotic location (near a beach), other Europeans will be drawn to your company and you'll end up hiring the best from Berlin and London (both of which have shitty winters).

filpen 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Fellow Italian here, started working in Germany 5 years ago right after my B.Sc. in CS, will be moving to Paris in March. I have not been working for a startup, but if you love programming there are plenty of cool things to do.

I know what it means to feel isolated, but as you noticed you are only isolated "locally", online you can find plenty of like-minded people. Keep applying in the US if you wish, but you should know we have a lot of opportunities here in Europe as well.

I have no concrete lead for you, my professional network in Germany is limited and the companies I know require some knowledge of German, but feel free to contact me on twitter, would love to have a chat (username is the same as here).

jrm2k6 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is worth a post on HN with the title containing the word help. As another HN user from France said, you are an EU citizen, you can move everywhere.

There are so many countries except the obvious one with a growing startup scene.

- Scandinavia in general.- Estonia is one of the european country with the biggest number of startup.- UK is easy to access, Germany too.

Visas for the US are hard to get that's true. You are not even working yet, give you some time, learn more, build a network, contribute, and you will get noticed (and get away from your "hell").

alphabetam 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't have to go to San Franscisco to get into a startup. There are a lot of them in London and Berlin, and you - as an EU citizen - will have zero issues with the visa there.

Besides, university is not about getting ready for a job: it's about learning how to learn.

sdegutis 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's just me, but the tone (especially in the title) plus the prominence on the main page made me think this was something more urgent and serious, like someone trying to get out of an abusive situation.
enricosada 19 hours ago 0 replies      
i am from Milan, you can go to user groups ( like http://milano-xpug.pbworks.com http://www.webdebs.org/ ) or hacker spaces ( see http://www.talentgarden.it/it/ ). Lot of people here with experience, if you need advice.There are also A LOT of free conferences ( http://www.agileday.it/ http://2013.jsday.it/ http://rubyday.it/ http://www.communitydays.it/ http://2013.nosqlday.it/ ) where you can talk with italian (and expat) developers. From there you can choose, europe is an easy target ( in berlin, london there are a lot of italians )
dimfisch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, ...Lots of cool places in Europe where startups are sprouting fast, and no visa needed for Italian citizens.
Void_ 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Getting a J1 Visa if you're a student is not hard at all. You can have an internship up to 12 months.
duiker101 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Do like me, come to Cambridge UK. No visas, lots of jobs and an amazing city. We also have a quite big Italian community.
kifki 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know it's hard. I know that you think that everything sucks, because I used to think that, too. But there is passionate people around you, there are good companies, there is an interesting work. You have just to go and find them. Network and things will go better, I promise.
andersthue 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Just met an Italian programmer here in Denmark, they just moved!

You can too!

debacle 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't you go almost anywhere else in the EU?
andrew76 19 hours ago 0 replies      
mh, how do you create a package with maven 2? How do you write the proper pom.xml? And do you create the .tar.gz

Hope that this will help...

Tell HN: Planned Maintenance Jan 23 1-5 AM PST
84 points by kogir  1 day ago   54 comments top 14
tptacek 1 day ago 5 replies      
Whoah, new noticeboard feature. I like it! It harmonizes with my topcolor.

I object to labeling "Tweaking our storage configuration a bit" as "details", though. ;)

kogir 1 day ago 0 replies      
I promise to do a post-mortem (with details), but from my perspective the issues that began on Jan 6th are ongoing. It's all I've been working on since then.

Once I get a break I'll write a blog post about it, and try the Matasano/Square and Stripe CTFs :)

k0mplex 1 day ago 5 replies      
While you're tweaking things, mind increasing the font size? I typically zoom in, but then the up arrows get pixelated. Such problems!
beefsack 1 day ago 0 replies      
For easy conversion to your own local time: http://localtime.io/#?d=Jan%2023%201-5%20AM%20PST
lucb1e 1 day ago 3 replies      
So what's PST? Why can't we all use UTC/GMT+/-x so we all understand?
cmelbye 1 day ago 0 replies      
How much karma do we need to change the color of the announcements bar?
frozenport 1 day ago 0 replies      
What kind of storage requirements does HN have? I would expect everything to fit snuggly in 32GB of ram.
hglaser 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for spending so much time on this. We appreciate it.
alttab 1 day ago 1 reply      
What, no zero downtime DB deployments?
jmathai 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't believe they're finally fixing the pagination bugs! Super excited.
TrainedMonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are these redesigned backup or improving recovery speed related changes by any chance?
bane 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good luck!
henrygrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
good luck, it's a commendable thing that you're doing.
krishnakarki 1 day ago 0 replies      
good luck
Ask HN: Resources to learn JavaScript in 2014?
12 points by codegeek  17 hours ago   12 comments top 11
user_235711 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I second JavaScript: The Good Parts[1]. It is very well-written and very dense, so you can read and reread it multiple times, each time gathering something new. Along with that I would recommend the Mozilla Developer Network JavaScript reference[2].

[1] http://www.amazon.com/JavaScript-Good-Parts-Douglas-Crockfor...

[2] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Refe...

wturner 1 hour ago 0 replies      

Object orientated Javascript and inheritance explained well:


3minus1 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Crockford's "Javascript: the Good Parts" is what you want. It's short, well-written and introduces a lot of ideas that get you thinking about js on a higher level. It was actually a pretty influential book in getting people to start respecting javascript as a proper language in its own right.

I'd also recommend javascript weekly for articles and news to keep you on the cutting edge.

htilford 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Among my favorites is http://eloquentjavascript.net/, which is a bit dated but still worth going through. The second edition is a work in progress which current to 2014 and could use your feedback since you're the target audience http://eloquentjavascript.net/2nd_edition/preview/
malandrew 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Eloquent JavaScript for new developers

Crockford's JavaScript The Good Parts for developers coming from another language.

Functional JavaScript by Fogus is excellent and can be read after either.

usablecode 13 hours ago 0 replies      
To understand Crockford's language, you need to know javascript basics well.I'd suggest to grab a copy of "Object-Oriented JavaScript" by Stoyan Stefanov.http://www.packtpub.com/object-oriented-javascript/book

and also follow MDN: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript

neduma 5 hours ago 0 replies      

    http://superherojs.com/    dailyjs.com

_random_ 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This will be handy: http://wtfjs.com.
bking 16 hours ago 0 replies      
www.codeacademy.com is a pretty good fundamentals. They also have a community of "advanced" developers with user generated problems to solve once you get past the fundamentals.
jacktandrew 14 hours ago 0 replies      
http://jsbooks.revolunet.com is a great resource for book lovers.
Ask HN: Any interest in a modern QBasic?
9 points by sdegutis  20 hours ago   11 comments top 7
bliti 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
How old is he? I have a 11 year old niece, and she is learning Javacript (using code combat and codecademy) and Python at a good pace.
phren0logy 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Before you go too far, have you checked out http://racket-lang.org/ ?

Dr. Racket is pretty darn good, and racket is a reasonable language. Plus, I think someone over there is still chipping away at http://www.pyret.org/

suprjami 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I have also yearned for my simplistic old Basic days, but I think it's more nostalgia than an actual void in computing which needs to be filled.

I don't know how old your son is, but I think he'd be better served by learning something relevant and extensible, than some custom language intended to him from scary programming. The Python and editor idea was good, though it doesn't necessarily have to be Python.

He's got you there so if he wanders into some "dark corner" of the language it's not like he's screwed and without help. That was my major impediment to learning programming as a child, not having someone there to explain things. I was 6 years old and got stuck on the concept of an array and my progress ground a halt. Later on I found a friend who could explain harder things like structs and enums and this made programming much easier.

So, just show him tools and be there when he has questions is my best advice.

VPrime 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you looked at something like the iPad app codea? http://twolivesleft.com/CodeaIt uses LUA for the scripting language, and a really nice IDE.

We also did something similar, except it is all visual programming (I know you said you are not interested in visual).. Its called GamePress (http://www.gamepressapp.com), free iPad app check it out :)

gus_massa 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Have you tried FreeBasic + FBide? http://www.freebasic.net/

It's almost compatible with QB, but it lacks some of the debugging facilities.

My favorite feature was stop-edit-and-continue. I still miss it, but its very difficult to implement in a compiled language.

cunninghamd 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Couldn't you just wire up a graphics library in Python, and give him a Sublime Text editor configured so that CTRL+B runs his python script? I'm not sure reinventing the wheel on this one makes sense, considering the power and simplicity of some of the environments out there, PLUS, python would provide him with real-world skills.
adamredwoods 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Rather than QBasic, I would like to suggest Monkey-x http://monkey-x.com

it has a great toolchain, built-in IDE, and supports many, many platforms (Desktop, iOS, android, HTML5, others). The syntax is more modern, and is being used in many commercial games.

Offer HN: I will work for free this Wednesday in So Paulo or REMOTE
4 points by just_testing  16 hours ago   4 comments top 3
benjaminlewis 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hey Tiago,

Always great to hear from other Sao Paulo-based people on here. Hit me up @ Ben@4vets.com.br

seven 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Let me make this clickable: http://a.fancyresu.me

Really fancy! :)

abuiles 9 hours ago 0 replies      
hey man, send me an email builes.adolfo@gmail.com if you want to grab a coffee.
Corporate dev job or startup tech support?
8 points by ataleb52  17 hours ago   12 comments top 8
avenger123 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Take the corporate job. The upside when you decide to move on from the corporate job will be so much greater. You might have fun but at the end of the day you will be known as a tech support guy with a company that is barely recognized by anyone.

With the corporate job, you'll have the tile software engineer and you get as good as you want. Once you move on you'll have a lot more jobs to move on to.

It's a sad reality that if you stay small company for a lot of your early career you tend to stay small company for the rest. That's a generalization but it's not far from the truth.

With the corporate job, lets say you are talking about IBM Global Services or Accenture, you'll have the opportunity to apply to interesting roles across Fortune 1000 and Fortune 500 companies without them blinking since you come from a known and reputable place. If you want to go work small company after that, then no harm done, you still can.

soneca 12 hours ago 1 reply      
... he also gave me some of the best advice I've ever received. Trying to decide whether to major in psychology or art history, I had gone to his office to see what he thought. He squinted and lowered his head. "Is this a hard choice for you?" he demanded. Yes! I cried. "Oh," he said, springing back cheerfully. "In that case, it doesn't matter. If it's a hard decision, then there's always lots to be said on both sides, so either choice is likely to be good on its way. Hard choices are always unimportant."

Adam Gopnik about Albert Bregman, professor at McGill University, on http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/01/28/130128fa_fact_...

mrjatx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I absolutely despise working for large corps but this seems like a no brainer. They're paying to teach you to become a Software Engineer?

It's not like this is a life or death decision. If you don't enjoy the job down the road you can quit and go do tech support for thousands of other companies. Thousands of other companies will not hire you and teach you to become a Software Engineer. When I hire developers, unless they're interns, I hire them because they already are Software Engineers.

jhwhite 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It depends on where I saw my career going. Was I more interested in learning java or going the product route.

It's also obviously a question of culture. Which would you thrive in?

Me personally? I'm not sure what you mean by product support, but if you mean something like help desk/tech support for a product they make then I can't go that route. I've done it before and I was absolutely miserable.

Between the two choices you gave I'd have to choose the corporate firm and learn java even though I'd probably be more interested at the startup in a different position.

deadfall 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I faced one issue with choosing between the two. Startups won't hire junior level people or people without extensive knowledge about the technologies they are using. With most startups they all have very different "stacks" so it is hard to catch up on the all technologies. Startups are trying to get a product up and running quickly for investors or create more value to get more customers. I interviewed at startups that I would love to have worked at and showed knowhow but was never sent an offer. I now work at a huge company with way more flexibility in the projects and time constraints. I love bigger companies as a software engineer for the learning experiences. Needless to say take risks when you are young and have nothing to lose (paraphrasing Steve Jobs).

P.S. I worked at a consultant software firm and it was the worst. I pretty much worked by myself going to clients then coming back. No team atmosphere to spread knowledge and challenges with.

htilford 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Unless you really need the money, it's always best to find the position where you will grow more. What skills will you pick up at the consulting firm? What skills will you pick up at the startup?
wlmeldmanfloch 12 hours ago 0 replies      
dude, listen up, I had a similar situation and went with the small startup. BAD MOVE. you're going to be expendable. Doing some time at megacorp-x yet learning production level java does not sound like a bad move (my alternative was not as cool)
sjg007 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Become a software engineer.
Ask HN: Do you run a SAAS app?
12 points by sheff  1 day ago   13 comments top 8
seven 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I just started to work a bit more on my side project Template2pdf (http://template2pdf.com/). It is an API to enable developers to produce nice PDFs out of templates that their customers can modify on their own.

It runs on Debian with ruby/rails, java, postgresql and some system tools.

I also do some work on a SAAS to build wireless hotspot systems. I don't own anything of it, but is an interesting field once you hit scalability problems. We use all kinds of technology but the core components would be linux/freebsd, freeradius, postgresql and ruby.

jlsync 5 hours ago 1 reply      
My primary focus is running these two SAAS apps

http://rotaville.com/ - employee scheduling, rosters, rota management

http://Big.first.name/ - print awesome name badges for your event

These apps are built on a mixture of technologies including Rails, postgresql and backbone.js

nlp 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm just finishing up work on a foreign exchange data platform:


The client is JavaScript and SVG.

Backend is Nginx, Java, and C++.

veesahni 12 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.SupportFu.com is my primary focus.

Backbone, Ruby, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Redis. Everything lives in EC2

MeoMix420 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I work on a YouTube music player for Chrome as a side-project: http://streamus.com/. It has done reasonably well for itself - 14k users and a 4.8/5 in the store.

I think my front-end is pretty standard: jQuery, jQuery UI, jQuery Transit, qTip2, Backbone, Backbone Marionette, Lo-Dash, Jasmine.

Back-end is all Microsoft-land because I was more comfortable building it in C#. NHibernate (ORM), AutoFac (Dependency Injection), AutoMapper (DTO<->Domain object mapper), NUnit (Test). Database is MSSQL. It's hosted by AppHarbor: https://appharbor.com/

NameNickHN 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I run an online appointment scheduling software (http://www.appointmind.com/). The software stack is PHP and MySQL on Ubuntu. I do this alongside my my freelancer job.
0mbre 12 hours ago 0 replies      
About to launch Nota (http://nota.io/), a feedback/bug tracking tool for web apps. Code base is mostly front end (Backbone) but some PHP (laravel) on the backend as well as some nodeJS.
ashokvarma2 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I run a Saas app called ReportGarden(http://reportgarden.com). It is currently my primary focus.

Our stack includes Rails+Postgresql+Delayed jobs+Pusher

Ask HN: What do you use for online backup?
2 points by error54  10 hours ago   7 comments top 7
ctb_mg 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
rdiff-backup + rsync.net for a simple mirror;duplicity + rsync.net for backups
MichaelTieso 9 hours ago 0 replies      
BackBlaze here. Unlimited storage and can include external drives. Big fan and have been using it for years.
goochtek 1 hour ago 0 replies      
__DarkBlue 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon Glacier with the Arq desktop client.
girasquid 9 hours ago 0 replies      
gedn 8 hours ago 0 replies      
edwhitesell 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Are there any good voice controlled mouse actions for OSx
2 points by rememberlenny  10 hours ago   discuss
Your best passive income? (2014)
350 points by kirk21  3 days ago   394 comments top 94
dangrossman 3 days ago 11 replies      
Not much has changed since the last thread. Improvely (https://www.improvely.com) is still in the 5-digit monthly RR range and growing, and I do no outbound marketing other than some PPC ads that don't need much active management. Everything that can be automated has been automated (onboarding, lifecycle mails, dunning mails for billing issues, etc), leaving me free to spend all my time on support and improving the product.

Two things that fit the "passive" mentality that have been picking up steam recently:

1) I offer an affiliate program with a revenue share commission (upfront bonus plus 10% of the referred customer's payments for a year). A couple of my best customers have become my best affiliates, recommending the product on industry blogs they write for regularly. It doesn't get better than having excited customers marketing your product for you. In the early days the affiliate program wasn't doing much at all, now it's a meaningful contributor to subscriber growth.

2) I've been running Improvely long enough now (just over a year) that some of the clients are growing their businesses significantly. I've got quite a few marketing agencies on board, and they're picking up new clients and adding them to their accounts. As their business grows, and their usage grows, they upgrade to plans with higher usage limits. Same customer base, higher revenue per customer. In the beginning, a new customer was worth $30ish per month. Today that's over $70/m per customer on average.

nickfox 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have been working on my Google Map Gps Cell Phone Tracker for several years now. Recently, I updated the project to include tracking for Android, IOS, Windows Phone and Java Me/J2ME phones. The project allows you to track a phone periodically (every 1, 5 or however number of minutes) and display them in real time on Google maps.

You can also save routes and display them later. I use google adsense on my website and also on youtube. I have been averaging about $600 per month in revenue. Now that I have done this update (which took a few months), I suspect that my adsense income is going to increase dramatically. If you want to learn more about my project, here is the landing page:


I'm 53 now and I've been a software contractor for the past 17 years. Because of the economy and my age, I was having an increasingly difficult time getting contracts. It's hard to compete with young programmers who can work a lot faster than you and at a much cheaper rate. So I decided it was time to step out on my own. It has been very challenging, a little frightening (ok, a lot frightening), but I am making slow progress.

Today, I was very happy to find out that my project was nominated for "Project of the Month" on Sourceforge. It's been downloaded about 8000 times in the past 4 days and has gotten 24 5-star reviews. If you have an account with Sourceforge and have the time to look at my project, would you please vote for me if you feel it's worth it?


Thank you. I appreciate the help and let me know if you have any questions.

eo34 3 days ago 3 replies      
A few years ago, I wanted to build an oscilloscope in my pocket, so I went ahead and did it. Then I wanted a spectrum analyzer, and then an equalizer.

1) oScope an oscilloscope in your pocket. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oscope/id344345859?mt=8

2) Octave a real-time audio analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/octave-an-rta-for-the-iphone...

3) Fourier a spectrum analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fourier/id386084557?mt=8

I built all of these for fun in college, and I've occasionally updated them afterwards. The only thing I do now is answer a few emails a week.I've since gone back to grad school, but the yearly income has not changed, and approaches my stipend (low 5-digit).

What's been really neat is how people have found unexpected ways to use the apps. Sound engineers for halls and communities use Octave to set up the sound for concerts. Teachers use oScope to help kids understand how sound is composed of moving pressure waves of air, and how pitch is the frequency of these waves. Also, oScope had a tiny cameo in the show Homeland, as a "fancy science-looking analyzer tool for spying on people" (uncredited, unfortunately).

gmays 2 days ago 5 replies      
For me it's still residential real estate.

Between 2010 and 2012 or so I picked up some condos here in San Diego at short sale for about 1/3 of what their price was a few years earlier. I get about 1.5% of their purchase price every month in rent. At the same time, the property values have appreciated so the rents are starting to increase as well.

The longest I've had any of them vacant was about two weeks and that was only during the time I was replacing carpet, appliances, furnace, painting walls, fixing stuff, etc.

To make it completely passive I have a property manager (I live in the area, but I value my time). That along with HOA fees and real estate taxes eat into my bottom line, but combined it's only about 1/5 of the monthly rent.

These properties allowed me to quit my job, self-fund my company, and I'm actually putting money away every month. Go figure.

I'm not a real estate expert, but if you have any basic questions feel free to get in touch (contact info is in my profile). As background, I bought my first house at 21 and owned 5 homes by the time I was 27 (I'm 29 now). I was in the military until a few months ago, so I didn't make a whole lot, but I'm pretty good with money and invested wisely. I didn't grow up with much, so I learned what not to do with money. I'm also pretty deliberate about how I spend my money, which is different than being frugal.

r4pha 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'm making negative 15 USD/month hosting two side projects:

http://srctree.net - A pastebin with version controlhttp://blocksim.net - A poor man's online simulink-like thingy

I am aware that there is a _lot_ of room for improvement in both services, but the fact that nobody uses it at all is not very motivational.

driverdan 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm currently earning around $45-60 a day mining cryptocurrencies with a little over $5000 in hardware. Once setup it's completely passive.

Edit: ROI could be improved a bit on this too since I intentionally bought hardware that was good to experiment with rather than optimizing ROI.

simonhamp 2 days ago 6 replies      
I run Built With Bootstrap (http://builtwithbootstrap.com). It's making 4 figures a month at the moment.

It's mostly passive income as I spend no more than a few hours per week actually working on the site. Though I spend considerably more monitoring the stats and feeds etc etc

My biggest win with this site is the extremely low cost to run it - something I want to talk about more if anyone's interested. My only real regular cost is the domain name! Pretty phenomenal for a site that continues to attract thousands of visitors per day :) a model I'm proud of and hopefully can continue!

But of course, all standing on the shoulders of giants! Many thanks has to go to far more talented people than me... both for the site's foundations and it's popularity.

taigeair 2 days ago 2 replies      
Current passive income for me - blog and niche sites with articles (ads e.g. http://www.flagshipstorelondon.com/), e-commerce business (sales), ETFs (investments), and teaching a skill.

Flagship stores - I went around taking pictures of the best of the best stores for the top retail brands in London and made a directory. Created page on Blogger.

Ecommerce business is my best passive income. It's a physical product I really wanted so I made it. It's a map of London but made in the historic style. http://www.wellingtonstravel.com

I still need to spend time on it because I am customer service, legal, accounting, finance, marketing, IT, R&D, and operations. I have outsourced manufacturing and fulfillment to someone I found on https://sortedlocal.com/ and Amazon's FBA. It's great because it's more money and something I'm passionate about but it definitely takes 5-7 hours a week.

The teaching one is interesting in particular because it leverages your strengths, improves your communication, and is probably something you really enjoy since you took the time to get good at it (i.e. sailing, swimming, kettlebell workouts, or even English). I wrote a post about teaching English (http://www.taigeair.com/websites-to-help-you-teach-english-o...) for people who complained they couldn't find a job so did nothing all day, but they could be teaching a special skill which is what I did when I became unemployed. I learned code, created a few websites, interviewed, and taught swimming.

And rental income is good but definitely, not very passive...

Lastly, I'm developing a really cool website for helping people sleep which I can see being profitable.

I'd like to hear how much time you spent or are spending on these side projects. Also I heard babies are a time and money sink. So I'd be interested in hearing about people doing side projects/passive income with kids.

viach 3 days ago 8 replies      
I've got a job where i do almost nothing. It's my passive income.
starik36 3 days ago 2 replies      
A stupid app, called That's Not Funny, that I wrote in 2008 or so to teach myself Android programming (when v1 came out) continues to make around $40 a month from ads.


I wrote it, released it, then to my surprise, it got a pretty massive amount of downloads. Over the years, I've updated it to new versions of the OS, but very minimal work.

Not a lot of money, but it wasn't a whole lot of effort either. It covers the internet bill.

zrail 3 days ago 1 reply      
My book "Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails" continues to sell well, in the $2k range per month. It's not exactly passive, though, as I write blog posts and develop other related content in the same theme.


erikb 2 days ago 5 replies      
Why does everybody list books, webapps and mobile apps as passive income? I hope you created them yourself. Then they are not passive income but a product. Like every product they have a lifetime, then you need a new product. Therefore you actually have a first or second active business and not a passive income. "Passive income" is rent for condos you own, or having shares in your friend's profitable business that yields dividends etc. or did I completely misunderstand the meaning of that word?
drewolbrich 3 days ago 10 replies      
My iOS app that teaches you what a tesseract is and lets you manipulate it in 3D and 4D.


It blows my mind that people still find out about this app and happily buy it every day even though it occupies such a small geeky niche.

galfarragem 3 days ago 0 replies      
50/month with adsense and amazon affiliates. It demands from me 5 minutes each day (or 4-5 hours each month, so it is not exactly passive...). It's a niche blog about architectural models: http://archimodels.info that I started as a hobby to learn about web development. I know that i'm near the bottom in the hierarchy of passive income but anyway I'm leaving my 2 cents.


- I agree with cdaven. Good content is better than SEO, but you only take the fruits 1-2 years later. Use your expertise. It is much easier/faster/more rewarding if you blog about something you are an expert.

- Adsense is ugly but is the fastest way to monetise a blog. I was making 15/month before adsense and now I have slightly less traffic. Text ads or images ads? If you have an text intensive blog go for image ads and for an image intensive blog go for text ads.

marban 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you're looking for some dropshipping insights (which the OP's link suggests), here's a nice story:http://www.ecommercefuel.com/selling-an-ecommerce-store/
vrikis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know this isn't entirely passive, but I occasionally rent my spare room on AirBnB. I'm quite clear that it's a basic room and if they use the kitchen etc. they need to clean up after themselves - this isn't a hotel I'm running... So there's basically no work to do other than cleaning the bedsheets, which I do as part of cleaning my bedsheets anyway... I do this for a maximum of 1week/month, which gets me roughly 4000/year and since it's tax exempt in Scotland (under lodger laws), it's the easiest money I've ever made.
TeeWEE 3 days ago 3 replies      
I created the app 3dweapons for Android about 2 1/2 years ago. (http://www.3dweapons.net) The free version was downloaded >1.7 million times. The paid version around 8k times.

I added adds from multiple sources (mopub, admob etc) and in app purchases.

For the paid app: In the top months (2 years ago) I made around 800 euro. But it dropped to 90 euro per month currently.For in app purchases: I am making 30 euro per month currently.For ads: Making about 200 euro per month currently.

guard-of-terra 3 days ago 3 replies      
Owning a flat in Moscow and renting it out? Easily 1000$/mo. You can live in Thailand on that money.
earlz 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first source of passive income came this year. It's an app for rooting (and then fixing some problems on) a modem used for U-Verse(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.earlz.nvg5...). I've only made a handful of $100 bills with it, but the extra income is welcome.

The amount of work I've actually had to do was really quite little. I had to do initial development, and then fix some bugs. Then, it just sat there and brought in $5-20 a day. Eventually AT&T patched the original exploit I used for root access so I had to do research and development to find a new one and implement it, which took about 2 weeks or so. And since then, it's just been sitting there bringing in bits of money. I plan on adding some often requested features over the next month though

Also, I provided the app only for convenience. The information on how to root the modem for free is published freely on my blog, I just provide the app because I know that the steps required are too complicated for many people

qeorge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Making $2-300/month off Android apps (AdMob). Despite best efforts, this is dominated by a soundboard app. Not what I expected, but we'll take it!

Internet yellow pages, www.ablocal.com, doing quite well. Can't disclose metrics, but it makes more than you probably would guess.

Domain sales - again can't disclose specifics, but in the $xx,xxx range this year from domains. Not a huge portfolio, but some good ones.

And we just launched Gold Plugins (last Friday), a membership club for our premium WordPress plugins. Hoping it will become a good vehicle, although we do pride ourselves on awesome support, so not that passive. Previously, we were selling these plugins separately, for about $1k/month. No stats on the membership system yet.

Gold Plugins: http://goldplugins.com/

I have some others, but nothing that's making enough money to be interesting! I'll add more if I think of them; we have a bunch of random properties.

cdaven 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a quite simple web site with some calculators for taxes and stuff, that I originally built in 2007. The Google AdSense and affiliate income has grown from about $1000 per year to almost $1000 per month.

It is "passive" in the sense that I respond to the occasional e-mail (once a month), update the data once a year, and add another calculator when I feel like it.

A few years back, I was in the same position with another (online casual gaming) website, that I sold for 2.5x the yearly revenue. Looking back, I should probably have kept that site as well.

Pro tip: quality content beats SEO in the long run. Be the tortoise.

joliss 2 days ago 2 replies      
My free-to-play Solitaire web app, at http://www.solitr.com/.

It's making a bit over $1,000 in monthly ad revenue. Traffic is at ~3k dailies.

I did this as a weekend project 2 years ago, and at some point migrated my blog to it to pick up DomainRank. Other than that I've mostly left it alone.

nkuttler 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oh well, it's hardly an income but I created a rhyming dictionary years ago where one adsense container pays for all my personal hosting bills. http://rhymebox.com/ http://rhymebox.de/
runn1ng 3 days ago 1 reply      
It will sound banal, but Bitcoins I bought year-and-something ago.
quaffapint 2 days ago 0 replies      
Created a PHP ad server 'mySimpleAds' at http://www.clippersoft.net and continue to maintain support it. Brings in some money monthly to help with credit card bills. I get some referals from SO and the like, but also spend $ on Adwords. Last year created a hosted SAAS version at http://mysimpleads.com, but hasn't really taken off.

As always with my products - marketing and getting more people to see them is always a big problem. Once they use them, customers like them - it's getting them to the site to even see them.

I'm in the process of re-writing mySimpleAds and adding in a bunch of stuff, but I don't know if it will still be stuck in neutral and not bring in the folks. I'll also plan to write more products, figuring maybe that will bring people in.

tarball 2 days ago 1 reply      
At first I started with a Blogspot with a bunch of cat gifs and a couple of Google ads. Once I earned enough money to buy a domain name for this project, I bought http://catgifpage.com and designed a cheap-but-fun interface for the visitors I targeted.

As I am more a dog person, I decided one year (and about 1000) later to open http://doggifpage.com. It increased a bit my incomes but not so much. As you may know, the Internet loves cats, cats and cats!In 2013, I earned almost 4000 for about 10 fun hours of gif gathering!

I have some plans for 2014 but I want to keep this project fun and certainly not time-consuming.

dpiers 2 days ago 1 reply      
I made 10.35 BTC from mining dogecoins for the last month.
yummyfajitas 2 days ago 0 replies      
I make some passive income off affiliate link blogs. Not a lot, varies widely per month.

I've been making extra cash lately by running bandit algorithms to optimize the click through rate, basically choosing the optimal call to action. I've got a wordpress plugin which does that automatically which I've just made public:


frankydp 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have been running a simple career site for Marines for the last 2 years, and have now slowly grown to capture about half the Marine Corps monthly. It slowly drags in $400 a month and has been creeping up to the 5k mailing list mark. I work on it about a day a month, if that.
nader 3 days ago 2 replies      
Income is often called passive but essentially there is always something you need to do, monitor, improve or change in order to keep cash flow steady. If you don't, your income will decrease over time until reaching zero. It is surely easier to maintain "passive income" than to start from scratch.
elliottkember 2 days ago 1 reply      
Running Hammer for Mac (hammerformac.com), our web-development OSX app. On a good day we might hit $100+ profit (after Apple's cut). Some days we don't get anything. It's rewarding to know that people are using it.
scotty79 3 days ago 3 replies      
Few bitcoin Antminers. They are paying as much as I'll be earning at my new job I'm starting with the beginning of the February. I basically cloned myself in terms of income by buying them. They should pay for themselves in 3-4 months. I'm not sure if that's passive income or capital gain though.
knorc 2 days ago 1 reply      
A website promoting ebooks about seduction : http://www.ebookseduction.com/ in french, english version coming soon)It's not a big business but it is good pocket money considering it takes me few hours of work per month.
sirbrad 3 days ago 2 replies      
I created and sold Stickonspy (http://stickonspy.com) just after mid last year. The initial month I launched it did pretty well as the NSA news was still a pretty big deal. All in all it's made me < 1k but it's been great fun to build and ship a product from scratch. I've shipped to around 12 countries too which is cool. I also spent no money on marketing.

I'd say my time - which was evenings after work - investment was around 3-4 days initially and then fulfilling orders is simply writing a customers address and posting the stickers - which if the demand was bigger I'd probably outsource.

It's been great. I've learnt a shit tonne & the conversations it started has given me an idea for a similar product which I'll be focusing on very soon!

ZanderEarth32 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've got an iOS app that I'm lucky if I get a sale or two a day. It was really more of a project to teach myself how to build iOS apps and be an accompaniment to an ebook my GF wrote that sells fairly well. I guess technically it hasn't 'made' any money since we're still in the red when factoring in the cost of the icon design, Apple dev account, etc.

I'm currently working on an app that is aimed at kids that should encourage them to write more and be creative. Hoping to get more traction with that.

kirk21 3 days ago 1 reply      
1) Selling Elon Musk t-shirts: http://www.zazzle.com/elonmuskspacemanDid not make that much but was great fun.

2) Helping my artistic friends selling their products. If you want to sell designer products, you can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1dmyfzRwBbpcKAyRplHs0i2RMqsC...

smartician 2 days ago 0 replies      
Earning low three figures with my Android apps[1]. Haven't touched them since August, so I guess that counts as passive income. It's even still building momemtum[2], so maybe if I had spent some money on marketing it would have grown faster?

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Smartician

[2] https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1/15...

rmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Made some custom maps based on OpenStreetMap designed for reading on the Kindle. Have made about ~100 so far, but there's a lot more I could do.


The books themselves: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digita...

Judson 2 days ago 2 replies      
I may have posted about this before, but http://askjud.com, a simple trick that you can play on your friends makes around $300/mo.

Its hosted on github, and costs $8/yr for the domain name.

dejv 3 days ago 1 reply      
I had created http://notationtraining.com in 2010 when I was learning how to play piano. I did update this project few times, but otherwise it is completely on its own. It makes only about 300 USD/month but I am quite happy with it as I am not doing anything to promote it or anything else.
easy_rider 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have great expectations of my DogeCoins!
cerberusss 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bought the app Sleep Cycle Calculator from its previous owner. Completely redid the interface for iOS 7, and I'm now finishing up a version with a custom UIView.

I paid a designer to completely redo the interface, but then iOS 7 happened. Lost a lot of customers with the transition, because I had to throw away the new design and start again.


elbear 2 days ago 1 reply      
At the end of 2013 I launched http://www.comedylib.com/. It's a site with curated Youtube videos of comedians, comedy shows and comedy movies.

I built this out of my passion for comedy and because I wanted to have only comedy videos in one place and not the mix that Youtube offers. It's not making any money yet, but I haven't put much effort into promoting it so far.

weavie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a trading simulator app for iOS. It's not a huge earner, but does give me some pocket money. It's not exactly passive either since I still develop on it, but I would probably be doing it anyway - the fact people buy it is just a bonus.


aoakenfo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I make $0.70 cents (1 sale) every month from my iOS puzzle game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simpl/id672601351?ls=1&mt=8

In a few months I'll be able to buy myself a coffee! =)

iluvmylife 2 days ago 0 replies      
I made a super simple paid Android app with a list of interesting Physics Puzzles (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boredominn...). Took a month to make and now it is completely passive. Brings in some spare change with zero maintenance (~$50/month).

I built this in 2011 to learn app development (its a webapp built using PhoneGap). Took about a month of evening/weekend work to push out, and most of that time was consumed by collecting and creating interesting puzzles. It was featured on Google Play's Top Paid Educational Games leaderboard for a while, and that contributed to a spike in income. That apart, I haven't done/don't know of any viable means to promote it.

someotheridiot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rebrickable (http://rebrickable.com) shows you what you can build with your existing LEGO collection, including hundreds of fan contributed designs. Not truly passive as I work on it every day.
sgribley 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm going to toss this out there - I've considered building an affiliate site in the porn space. I've looked at a couple API's and it looks easy. However, I have never built anything in this space - I just hear that there's money to be made so have been tempted. Let the flogging begin!
mhoad 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just in the middle of getting this up (was a way of teaching myself Rails) that works as an Affiliate style site for gadgets and cool gift ideas. http://fmhgifts.com/
jbrooksuk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing as of yet. I used to receive donations from my blog and some Windows programs I've written: http://www.softpedia.com/developer/James-Brooks-12392.html but that seems to have dried up. I probably generated 100~ from all donations.

I'm now working on several iOS (http://james.brooks.so/contare-my-first-ios-app/) applications (paid) however I do intend to offer free versions with iAds.

I've also got an Android app on the Play Store that's made me a few quid; https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jbrooksuk....

Apart from my iOS applications now, I intend to develop some SaaS apps that I can use to generate some more income.

rk0567 3 days ago 0 replies      
$100+/mo (through adsense and affiliate programs) from http://assembleyourpc.net - a simple tool for assembling pc online. I spend 1-2 hours per month on some tweaks/updates.
rajeevk 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first Android app: Scratchpad https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avabodh.sc...

I made it to learn Android development. It took me total of 5 days: 2 days to learn basic android stuff then next two days to develop this app and on last day creating dev account and publishing on Android store.

After publishing I forgot the password of signing key I used, so I never updated this app except for a description change. Initially there was almost no revenue but it increased over the time as the download count increased. After two year(of publishing), it is giving me around $70/per month through ads (admob).

gearoidoc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hipster CEO - a tech startup sim. 6.5k downloads at $2.99 in the past 3 months.


acconrad 2 days ago 1 reply      
I bring in 5-7k a year DJing and personal training. They're technically "work" but I'm literally getting paid to live out my hobbies I already do for myself, which to me is passive income. I would, however, like to turn a programming side project into something that's passive income.
heumn 3 days ago 1 reply      
My app and side project "lolipop". An "instagram for gifs and funny images"-niche app. 100k + downloads.

Gotten hugely popular in Norway. Released a revamped iOS 7 version to the US last week (?). Things are going slow over there. Not even reached 1000 downloads.

Traffic always spike during 23:00 - 03:00 when kids should be sleeping... 99% of users lurk and browse reddit/9gag/imgur some contribute (no account needed for browsing).

Link for the lazy:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lolipop-funny-images-gifs/id...

vcherubini 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a book titled "Expert PHP Deployments" on how to deploy any PHP application using Vagrant, Capistrano, and Phing.


It hasn't made me rich, but it usually sells about a copy a day. I love that it's entirely passive. I wrote it, published it, and it just sits there on my website making money.

It's also been a good way to build a list of people who would be interested in other things I make.

PS. Use coupon code "hn" for $2 off if you're interested.

sovok 2 days ago 0 replies      
A silly project for playing with Unicode (s l) and ASCII Art. About 900 visits per day, 10 per month income. Almost pays for the server.


parax 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote a sci-fi short novel that received a good feedback (surprisingly not at Amazon, where nobody has reviewed it). It's placed at the iBookstore and the Kindle store, and it sells some units from time to time:



NateG 2 days ago 1 reply      
I created a web game called Pit of War (http://www.pitofwar.com) about three years ago and it has been generating enough monthly income to pay all my bills and affords me the ability to travel and live anywhere I like. It isn't completely passive but that is because I choose to add new features and updates. It is a niche game but the Internet is a big place with lots of people. :) Books like The Long Tail and The Curve have taught me that you don't need to have the #1 product in an industry to make a good living.
napolux 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have 2 iOS apps that are selling something like 5 copies per day each.

One is an iOS text clipboard manager (with iCloud sync) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/copycopy-clipboard-manager/i...

The other one, for the lazy students in the italian market, is a database you can use also offline of recaps from books you study in school, with in app purchases..https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iriassunti-riassunti-di-ital...

They are both in the 4/5 star ratings

kelu124 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've had www.rickshawart.org for a now.. two years. Not making a lot of money, still a no-loss project, and a ethical, profit-sharing one =)

The structure is a tad special in that we have no fixed costs (apart from the hosting part).

Any feedback of course is appreciated - that's really niche, and we're wondering how to move forward when our product is that special.

tempestn 3 days ago 1 reply      
SearchTempest.com got to the point where it was my main gig about 5 years ago, although it's since leveled off. Like anything, you end up being pretty active if you want to continue making that "passive" income. :
yozhik 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.dicerealm.com makes me minus $5 per month, but it was mostly an experiment to validate some of the advice from Start Small Stay Small (http://www.amazon.com/Start-Small-Stay-Developers-Launching-...), which is a fantastic book.
qzervaas 3 days ago 0 replies      
I made this PHP library about 5 years ago:


Probably make 2-3 sales/yr which is always a nice surprise. It comes up first when you Google "escapianet php"

I also wrote a PHP book in 2007. I still get royalty cheques, although they've almost approached 0 - the last quarter was about $30 ;)

Most of my income now is from app sales.

xsNzgw8 3 days ago 1 reply      
http://pressbulgaria.com - it is a SaaS for sending press release to the media. This tool gives the citizens a lot of power to ring the alarm on certain problems. Also my customers use it as channel for promoting books, exhibition, events, etc

We have a tor hidden service for anonymous submissions. We offer free service for whistleblowers, that want to stay anonymous (and can't pay us).

mmayberry 2 days ago 2 replies      
I own/operate a luxury resale business that specializes in high end womens fashion, art, cars, and collectibles. My only time expense is picking up the items... everything else I have automated. On a good month I can clear $10K+ and on a bad month $2-3K. I do all this without any advertising and the primary selling point of my business is thats its discreet and anonymous.
podviaznikov 2 days ago 0 replies      
My gf did couple of CSS animations(icons, js components etc) over the years. Then we published them to Envato marketplace and got some monthly income around 100USD per month.See link (referral): http://themeforest.net/item/animated-404-or-maintainance-pag...
mephju 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent more than some time to create a Shopify admin app for Android, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopify.ad.... It's up and running and generates already some money each month (60$ - 100$). Zero marketing, just Google Play.I wanted the app to be so much better than it is right now but unfortunately Shopify will release their own Android app soon which will render my app useless. It's quite devastating. So I consider this endeavor a failure. Now I am on the lookout for a new project idea. I think I will stay in the ecommerce realm since I like it very much and think it's easier to make money with merchants than with ordinary consumers. In case anyone would like to team up, my email is in my profile ;)
peacemaker 2 days ago 1 reply      
I make about $400 a month quite passively by selling software with Envato. Just the occasional comment and email which takes 5 - 10 minutes a day at most.I also sell a beginners book on creating and selling WordPress plugins which only sells one or two a week.

I have a bunch of cool stuff out there but my biggest weakness is marketing. I can never seem to drive enough targeted traffic to my projects.

namigop 3 days ago 1 reply      
I started wcfstorm (http://www.wcfstorm.com) about 4 years ago. I started out with just 1 product and has now added 2 more. The income is pretty nice. It usually exceeds my monthly salary. I love it when some stackoverflow users recommend it to others when a question gets posted about WCF testing.
vuzum 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let's see. There's a few somewhat passive channels for us.

We just launched our product Blogvio (http://www.blogvio.com) which is yet break even. Right now we're only partnering with platforms to white label our Editor and widgets, but we'll soon release a pricing plan for all users of the website.

Our 2008 marketplace Flabell (http://www.flabell.com) (flash products... I know) is still going strong, although we too think Flash is dead. People still buy those components, so we still provide support for them. We stopped advertising though a few years back. :-)

Same goes for our Flash Components on ActiveDen, these still sell a couple of hundreds every month. So it's still passive income after 6yrs+. :)

harvestmoon 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wrote a book on adult ADHD. I published it 3.5 years ago, and it brought in $75 last month.

It used to bring in more, but some people wrote very negative reviews which were upvoted, so its sales dropped.

I don't feel too bad because many people who read it say it is unusually helpful and accessible.

AJay17 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not much to mine, but they seem to be doing pretty well.

http://www.thingsunder15.com and http://www.myfancysauce.com

than 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Random Amazon Product Generator brings in enough for a small book purchase every few weeks. It's still mostly for my own amusement. (http://thanland.com/projects/random-amazon/)
bernatfp 2 days ago 0 replies      
At the moment I only have a source of passive income, which is through mining Litecoin with a couple miners I have.
davidpaulkrug 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently started a jobs site that makes about 10 dollars a day in affiliate revenue and adsense. Rolling out a network of them.


firstplanthendo 2 days ago 2 replies      
Somewhat different area, but earns me around $300 a month- Churning credit cards for rewards. So called award/travel hacking. 2 new credit cards per calendar quarter, conservatively estimate each signup bonus is worth $600 (if you know how to redeem them, usually that means for travel).

Have to live in the U.S. and have good credit to do it, but Ive been at it for a few years now and havent paid for airfares or barely any lodging costs on almost all my travel. Working on an online class that teaches how to do it, looking to sell that for some real passive income.

alain34 2 days ago 0 replies      
https://www.bankaccountchecker.com enable the validation of UK bank account (web app and API). It is not making loads of money but I get enough traffic to pay for summer holiday. I often get request for the logic behind the API. the sort code file is also selling well.I have created another saas service at http://www.conceptuel.co.uk/burnDown/ but there is not enough demand to make it a profitable passive income.
jesalg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not nearly as successful as some of the other guys here but I have couple of avenues for passive income:

1) I make a few bucks a month off my reddit client: http://www.ruddl.com - I pay $0 for hosting on Heroku so I'm more or less net positive.

2) I also make a few bucks off my blog in tips: http://jes.al/blog/

I'm working on ideas for a SaaS product or even a book to add to that list.

johnydepp 3 days ago 2 replies      
easymovet 2 days ago 1 reply      
donniefitz2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent 10 minutes creating this coffee mug and I've made about $80 selling them over the past year on Zazzle. I plan to add more soon. http://www.zazzle.com/go_away_im_coding_coffee_mug-168224001...
xiphias 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bitcoin :-)
yasith 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have an Android app that's use to find local bus times for my area. It makes around 150$ per month after optimizing AbMob ads. It generated around 50$ per month at first.
nonsens3 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have just released http://selfstream.io - a platform for event organizers to host and live stream their events. Right now making a negative $25 for hosting, without counting a small ad campaign on Google Adwords.
LaurentGh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'll try to start an ecommerce for France, following the other ones who specialize themselves in just one kind of well made product, like socks (www.archiduchesse.com), or underpants (www.leslipfrancais.fr).Coming soon ;)
mokkol 3 days ago 1 reply      
Im currently building a client proposal service specially for designers: http://nusii.com

Not getting much passive income yet but I hope 2014 will be our year :-)

blakerson 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Music Virtual University (http://www.musivu.co) does four-figure sales+RR monthly, a year after starting and just working nights/weekends.
meerita 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading all the comments made me think the only passive income I ever had was my blog. Trough my blog I've got all the consulting opportunities and made quite a lot.
ankit70 2 days ago 1 reply      
I make around $200/month from my crappy articles at http://ankitkumar.in and affiliate marketing.
foxhop 2 days ago 0 replies      
most of the comments relate more to residual income not passive income. I think passive income is mostly a fallacy and the only thing that comes to mind is saving accounts and bonds.
leoplct 2 days ago 0 replies      
I made -20$/month hosting


delpino73 2 days ago 0 replies      
I run a couple of language learning sites. Doesn't make me rich but pays the rent. :)


burning 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: What's the easiest way to get started modding Quake2 or similar?
5 points by sdegutis  22 hours ago   9 comments top 6
thenomad 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It's been a looooong time since I fiddled with the Quake 2 source, but I remember the basics.

1) Yep, it's easiest to compile on Windows, I think. Not sure about Linux, but I recall that the projects were Visual Studio based.

2) I don't think you'll find replacements for the official data files. The easiest way to get hold of the official ones is to buy Quake 2 on Steam, which is instant, then download the data there. Alternatively it's also available to buy on Amazon, still.

bliti 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related:

There is a game based on Quake Arena called Urban Terror. It has a good community of modders that help others learn how to modify the game. If you do not have too much luck with Quake2, you could look into this as as well. Good luck hacking.

replax 18 hours ago 0 replies      
You could also try to go into developing/modding a game called Xonotic. while it's based on the Q3 engine, it looks really good and has an active developer community! it's fantastic really :)


blakerson 21 hours ago 1 reply      
For assets (data files), I recommend buying the game. Steam would work well since you'd get instant gratification and everything would already be patched - don't forget, Q2 dates back to well before automated patching in games. Admittedly, it's unlikely assets themselves got patched, but it could pop up as an issue after you compiled your own source.

There are community-made data files, and these were called "total conversions" since all assets - models, textures, sound, maps - were original. You could go find those, but they often had original game code as well so you'd be effectively playing a different game at that point.

phantom_oracle 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Use a VM to try running it on Linux or Win. Ideally, if it is C, I would go with Linux.

The best way I would get started is by trying something as simple as making my player move twice as fast as all the rest.

It sounds simple in theory, but it is complex and a great way to break things while getting your feet wet.

If you can read the code and understand what each piece does, it isn't very tough to make mods. If you find it confusing, coding weird things and watching it break is a good way to experiment.

DanBC 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The post is grey because all threads posted to HN are like that. Is that what you mean?
Show HN: Streamus - An open-source Chrome extension for managing YouTube music
4 points by MeoMix420  19 hours ago   2 comments top 2
MeoMix420 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Alrighty. Well, I'm disappointed nobody has any questions, but hope to continue to improve the software and maybe someone will take interest another day. :)
neduma 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Like it so far..
Ask HN: What are the most inspirational blog posts you've ever read?
131 points by fromdoon  5 days ago   53 comments top 41
stiff 5 days ago 1 reply      
Mostly not blog posts, but for the last years I tend to revisit the same resources over and over again for inspiration:

- "You and your research" by Hamming, and his video lectures which expand on topics in the original talk:



- "On teaching mathematics" by V. I. Arnold:


- "Undergraduation" by Paul Graham


- "Learn and relearn your field", and many others in the same category, by Terrence Tao


- Steve Jobs Stanford commencement address:


- All articles on programming by Peter Norvig:


smoyer 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's not a blog post, but I think Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" is perhaps the most inspirational "thing" I've found on the Internet:


JoshTriplett 4 days ago 0 replies      
"I won't be able to answer all your questions. Rather, I can show you how to be lost productively, and how to become comfortable not knowing things and teaching yourself." -- David Humphrey, Mozilla developer, http://vocamus.net/dave/?p=60

It's one of the most valuable skills you'll need to excel in a technical field, and when mentoring others its one of the most critical skills to impart.

christiangenco 5 days ago 1 reply      
Mr. Money Mustache's account of how he retired at age 30: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-...
brudgers 4 days ago 2 replies      
I Assume I am Below Average

Derek Sivers: http://sivers.org/below-average

tbirdz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years by Peter Norvig: http://norvig.com/21-days.html
Red_Tarsius 4 days ago 0 replies      
Kejia Zhu (http://kzhu.net/does-life-end-at-35.html) helped me to get through the delusional obsession for quick success. I gave it to read to all my friends and it's definitely a must for all HN folks.

The good ol' Raymond's How to Become a Hacker (http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html) will teach you the Hacker attitude, which you can apply to anything. It doesn't matter whether you're a programmer or not, either way you'll benefit from it.

"1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.

2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.

3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.

4. Freedom is good.

5. Attitude is no substitute for competence."

A Handymans Toolbox (http://ninjasandrobots.com/a-handymans-toolbox) taught me not to always chase the hot new tech and be confident in my skills. It may be common sense, but it's also well written and straight to the point.

Lastly, the following posts are all about traveling and/or alternative lifestyles. They show different POVs, but are all equally inspirational.

- http://alexwarren.co.uk/2013/06/27/how-i-live-and-how-i-work...

- http://jake-jorgovan.com/blog/remote

- https://medium.com/better-humans/6620882dde89

- http://blog.alexmaccaw.com/how-to-travel-around-the-world-fo...

ek 4 days ago 0 replies      
Microcosmographia Academica http://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/people/staff/iau/cornford/cornford....

It's not quite a blog post, but it's as close as one might have come in 1908.

I also like a whole host of articles from Matt Might's blog. I think my favorites are

12 resolutions for grad students


and Responding to peer review


One last essay that I have enjoyed, also too old to be a blog post, is W.M. Turski's "I was a computer". It's here on Elsevier but fortunately it looks to be open access.


Sandman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice


manojlds 5 days ago 0 replies      
How to be more Productive, by Aaron Swartz - http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/productivity
nashequilibrium 5 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.chrissiewellington.org/blog/taking-the-plunge/Because i didn't know what was to come next and whether she would be successful. A snippet from the first blogpost:

"Could I be as good as them, if not better? Had I fulfilled my potential, or did I have more to give? Had I pushed my mind and body to the limit? If not, what were those limits? What stars was I capable of grabbing? Without giving it a shot I would never know. I never want to look back and say what if."

evolve2k 5 days ago 0 replies      
"POOR, POOR CHILD. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. Programming is Hard"http://writing.bryanwoods4e.com/1-poor-poor-child

A brilliant article which lets you know that coding is hard cause it's hard not cause you are stupid and that something can be hard and fun at the same time.

I share this with every new coder I help out.

Morendil 5 days ago 0 replies      
But Y would I want to do a thing like this? http://weblog.raganwald.com/2007/02/but-y-would-i-want-to-do...
rsoto 4 days ago 0 replies      
A few of them:

- Blueberry pancakes and battleships http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/05/blueberry-pa...

- This Is All Your App Is: a Collection of Tiny Details http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/05/this-is-all-your-ap...

- The Personality Layer http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/07/18/the-personal...

- Asking Questions beats Giving Advice http://insideintercom.io/asking-questions-versus-giving-advi...

namzo 4 days ago 1 reply      
guiambros 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Lessons from Habitat" [1], by Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer.

Not inspirational in the strict sense, but it's amazing to see a paper written more than 20 years ago and still with so many applicable insights in terms of psychology in gaming and virtual worlds. I keep going back and re-reading every couple of years.

[1] http://www.crockford.com/ec/lessons.html

hkmurakami 4 days ago 1 reply      
ilamparithi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Almost all of Paul Graham's essays. Especially

How to Make Wealth - http://paulgraham.com/wealth.htmlHow to Do What You Love - http://paulgraham.com/love.htmlInequality and Risk - http://paulgraham.com/inequality.html

and Paul Buchheit's

My startup path - http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.in/2007/03/my-startup-path.html(I have actually printed a hard copy of this and have it my wallet. This is what finally convinced me to join a startup.)

raldi 5 days ago 0 replies      
A Tale of Two Bridges: http://hintjens.com/blog:16
narenrulz 5 days ago 0 replies      
nader 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Don't half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing", i.e. "Kill early and often, keeping it alive is not good enough":


zackboe 3 days ago 0 replies      
"how to blog about code and give zero fucks" by Garann Means


3stripe 5 days ago 0 replies      
How to be the luckiest guy in the planet, in 4 easy steps


giis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Gustavo Duarte : Lucky to be a Programmer http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/lucky-to-be-a-programme...
deependersingla 4 days ago 0 replies      
Its about story of YC incubated startup Zerocater founder, everytime I read this it makes me more stronger to work more hard.http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/06/how-i-started-zerocater/
tinger54 4 days ago 1 reply      
McKenna said a lot of kooky stuff but this one really speaks to me.


andersthue 4 days ago 0 replies      
How to Deal With Crappy People


Made my life easier

asselinpaul 5 days ago 0 replies      
I always like to re-read these: http://worrydream.com/
rett12 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why you will fail to have a great career by Larry Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKHTawgyKWQ
trumbitta2 5 days ago 0 replies      
The bits about creating and shipping products by Nathan Barry and Amy Hoy
PavlovsCat 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure about "most inspiring", but this was the first time something on the internet blew my mind: http://www.arachnoid.com/lutusp/symbols.html
mindcrime 4 days ago 0 replies      
pg's How Not To Die essay:


pmarca's The Only Thing That Matters post:


Pretty much everything Steve Blank has written on Customer Development:


Mark Cuban on How To Get Rich:


Mark Cuban on Success & Motivation:


Jamie Zawinski's Groupware Bad post:


wellboy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: What is your current pet project?
22 points by sdegutis  2 days ago   31 comments top 21
dangrossman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm playing with home automation/control. I integrated "smart" devices from 6 different vendors into a webapp with voice control that I run on wall-mounted tablets throughout the house [1]. From any room, I can say things like "dim the lights", "lock the front door", "turn up the heat" or "launch netflix on the living room TV". And, because I'm a bit of a Trekkie, the computer talks back. [2]

1: http://i.imgur.com/sduLRv6.jpg

2: http://www.lcarscom.net/sounds.htm

MeoMix420 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I make this sweet Google Chrome extension for fun in my spare time: http://streamus.com It's a YouTube music player that I find more useful than Spotify b/c it integrates well with the browser. I've put 16 months of nights/weekends into it. It has 14k users, 4.8/5 in the web store and is completely open-source:




I find it fun for a TON of reasons. I'm learning a lot more about programming than I ever had in the past. This is the first time I've ever been super interested in absorbing material because it has a great impact upon me.

I get messages from people all around the world every day saying thanks for the work. That feeling is super rewarding -- more so than a paycheck. I've had to bust out Google Translator to try and decipher messages and hold conversations, had people tell me their dreams of getting to America or even something as simple as just being excited to talk to the developer. It's really great.

Finally, it solves a problem I was having and for that I am stoked! I went from having tons of bookmarks organizing music on YouTube to having a much more friendly interface for storing and listening to the music.

voltagex_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
To teach myself Python "properly", I've been slowly writing a script that posts to Github's Gists - I'm finding it more and more useful as a note taking utility so I wrote something that lets me pipe input into it and get a URL out.


Python is just nice to code in, and I find it a lot easier to start a project in than C#, which is my day job.

The other thing I've been doing is getting into reverse engineering of embedded devices - http://blog.voltagex.org/bdplayer.html and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6997623

I also buy far, far too many tiny devices like Raspberry Pis and Cubieboards.

I think between experimenting with and reversing tiny linux-running devices (I'm looking at you, consumer router manufacturers) I'll find a new career direction, but at the moment it's a good challenge and a glorious time and money sink.

krapp 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been having a lot of fun playing around with site scraping. Which probably sounds weird and lame but the challenge of building stuff from metadata has been interesting, and seeing how context behaves between linked sites. Here is an example, which builds a threaded feed from outbound links (still not quite ready for prime time): http://precis.gopagoda.com/url/https://news.ycombinator.com/...

Also i'm cloning HN in Laravel. Most of the basics work but i've got nothing online to show yet. I find it fun because I like imaging how the structure of the site might affect the way people communicate and use it.

andrewhillman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Mines a real "pet" project. I installed a bluetooth signal/sensor in my dogs harness, put an infrared sensor strip on backdoor and hacked together something like twillo for notifications. When I let him outside, I know when he is back at the door because his motion gets picked up by the sensor and a text message gets fired off to say "Woof. Let me in. Love Simon." This didn't take me long to build and it gets the job done. Still refining. It's all good fun... COST: under $19 for all electronics.
BWStearns 2 days ago 0 replies      
Building a citation manager (for like research papers and stuff) that maintains a central list of all sources, authors, and publications cited and also helps manage paper/project level stuff for the individual level. Hoping that the central list makes it easier to keep the db clean and also provides the user with some benefit by being able to just look stuff up instead of typing it in.
Oculus 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm currently working on an programming contest judge[1] written in Node, that uses Docker to run submitted programs in.

1: https://github.com/EmilS/OnlineJudge

Nicholas_C 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm using Twilio, PythonAnywhere, and Google Directions API to send myself texts when my commute length is longer than a specified tolerance, then sending texts with commute lengths for alternate routes if they are shorter. Currently gathering commute length data to make my commute length tolerances dependent on an average commute length for that workday plus a specified percentage above that.

Also playing around with Flask and other APIs as well as building a blog in Django.

tectonic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Recently, I've been having run working on Huginn (https://github.com/cantino/huginn) and BeeLine Reader (http://www.beelinereader.com). Both are tools that augment people's abilities, which is one of my current interests.
Jaberrwocky 1 day ago 0 replies      
My son and I have been working on our hobby site http://CutRateGamer.com for the last two years. We both love PC games and were always on the lookout for great deals.

The site started out as a simple blog, but, being a lazy programmer, manually looking for deals got old quick; so I decided to automate as much as I possibly could. We are at the point were the site almost runs itself.

It has been a great excuse to try out new technology, keep my skills sharp, learn marketing, teach my son programming and what goes into running a website.

Good stuff.

japhyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I teach an intro programming class in Python each fall, and this fall I started an open project to help my students learn Python: http://introtopython.org

It's progressing steadily, and people seem to be responding positively to the first project, a tutorial about plotting geospatial data using matplotlib and Basemap: http://introtopython.org/visualization_earthquakes.html

The whole project is on github: https://github.com/ehmatthes/intro_programming

PS I just accidentally ended a 132-day github streak, mostly focused on this project. I stared watching a movie with my wife last night, and at the end of the movie I looked at the clock and realized I forgot to make a commit before 11pm. No matter, it was never about the streak anyway. :)

jbrooksuk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm teaching myself Obj-C, one of my apps[1] has made it to the store and whilst I continue to learn, I'll be pushing improvements to it. I've just pushed another app that'll hopefully make it to the store - the simplest QR Code Scanner ever.

1. http://james.brooks.so/contare-my-first-ios-app/

JamieLewis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently building ghostream (https://github.com/ghostream/ghostream) - it is a data stream processing framework. Having used numerous commercial ones (most notably IBM's Streams), and building various other part-frameworks (i.e. for time and budget reasons focussed on one particular thing) I has an itch to build an open source one (while storm and samza are definitely related, I feel they fall into a slightly different category - I'm all about the streams :) )

It is still in very active development - but the base is solidifying and the new test framework is starting to shape up nicely.

I have already started dog-fooding it in my other personal projects - the most visual of which can be seen here: http://jamielewis.me.uk/posts/2013-11-03-Mapping-Earthquakes...

talmir 2 days ago 1 reply      
My group of close friends and I meet up once a week to slay dragons (yes, we are nerds). I was unimpressed by the character sheet offerings available online so I ended up creating my own for fun. It is running on flask, postgres and knockout.
sdegutis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working on implementing my first Lisp compiler and virtual machine. My last Lisp was a simple inefficient AST interpreter, so this seems like the next step up.
stevekemp 2 days ago 1 reply      
A console-based mail-client, with integrated Lua scripting:



kalagan 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.trackersound.com/I'm working on a website where people can track the artists and bands they like in order to be notified when a new album/EP is released. It's like Songkick or BandsInTown but for albums instead of concerts.It's still work in progress and I'm also looking for a new website name.
borgchick 2 days ago 1 reply      
Playing around with making projects with Arduino + sensors, it's fun because there is so much you can do with the Arduino platform these days. The hardware course in university was a rush through, and I never really had time to experiment on my own with it (the real learning). So now, I get to do it with the Arduino, which makes it SO much easier (and cheaper) than it use to be.
CmonDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
Applying actor model to a game engine.
snkcld 1 day ago 0 replies      

easy embedded neo4j, via jruby!

Ask HN: Using Python for large, distributed system
6 points by tostitos1979  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
inerte 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tests, tests, tests, the larger the scope the better. Some people call it functional, some called it acceptance, some call it End To End. Test what your end users are going to do, either that last API call or browsers with Selenium.

It actually doesn't matter if your language is dynamically typed. Unit testing and functional tests are pretty big in the Java world, which gave birth to the JUnit framework family and Selenium, and many others. It's a matter of not allowing things that should be working a long time ago, ever breaking with any new commit.

aq91 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pylint, pychecker and yes: lots of unit tests.
Show HN: Redditpoll.com A simple polling application I made for Reddit
12 points by hiby007  1 day ago   5 comments top 3
lycidas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good stuff. I like how quick it is to make and post a question.
techaddict009 1 day ago 1 reply      
Aha that's really great..

I have been using HN and Reddit since long. And I really felt that this feature was lacking.

Tell HN: Server Status
263 points by kogir  8 days ago   discuss
barrkel 7 days ago 2 replies      
By tolerating the loss of two disks, do you mean raidz2 or do you mean 3-way mirror?

Raidz2 is not fast. In fact, it is slow. Also, it is less reliable than a two way mirror in most configurations, because recovering from a disk loss requires reading the entirety of every other disk, whereas recovering from loss in a mirror requires reading the entirety of one disk. The multiplication of the probabilities don't work out particularly well as you scale up in disk count (even taking into account that raidz2 tolerates a disk failure mid-recovery). And mirroring is much faster, since it can distribute seeks across multiple disks, something raidz2 cannot do. Raidz2 essentially synchronizes the spindles on all disks.

Raidz2 is more or less suitable for archival-style storage where you can't afford the space loss from mirroring. For example, I have an 11 disk raidz2 array in my home NAS, spread across two separate PCIe x8 8-port 6Gbps SAS/SATA cards, and don't usually see read or write speeds for files[1] exceeding 200MB/sec. The drives individually are capable of over 100MB/sec - in a non-raidz2 setup, I'd be potentially seeing over 1GB/sec on reads of large contiguous files.

Personally I'm going to move to multiple 4-disk raid10 vdevs. I can afford the space loss, and the performance characteristics are much better.

[1] Scrub speeds are higher, but not really relevant to FS performance.

makmanalp 7 days ago 4 replies      
The trend I'm noticing is people mentioning that if only HN was moved to <insert-cloud-provider>, problems would go away.

Instead of doing that, they probably dropped a bit more than a thousand dollars on a box, and are probably saving thousands in costs per year. This is money coming out of someone's pocket.

This site is here, and it's a charity, being provided free of cost, to you. Who cares if HN is down for a few hours? Seriously? Has anyone been hurt because of this, yet?

whalesalad 7 days ago 2 replies      
There's a lot of tuning that can be done on a ZFS setup to improve performance. I'm not a pro, so others will have more feedback and knowledge, but some things off the top of my head to get you started:

Add a flash memory based (SSD) ZIL or L2ARC or both to the box. That'll help improve read/write performance. I believe the ZIL (ZFS intent log) is used to cache during writes, and the L2ARC is used during reads.

You might want to look into disabling atime, so that the pool isn't wasting energy keeping access times on files up to date. Not sure if this is relevant with the architecture of HN or not. This can be done with

    zfs set atime=off srv/ycombinator
Finally, ZFS needs a LOT of memory to be a happy camper. Like 3-5GB of RAM per TB of storage.

I actually think you'll probably have a lot of fun with ZFS tuning, if that's the problem with news.yc. FreeBSD's page is pretty detailed: https://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFSTuningGuide

cincinnatus 7 days ago 15 replies      
I'm sure it has been asked many times before, but I'd love to hear the latest thinking... Why in 2013 is HN still running on bespoke hardware and software? If a startup came to you with this sort of legacy thinking you'd laugh them out of the room.
hartator 8 days ago 0 replies      
Not really related but any update on releasing the HN code again?

[the current release is pretty old: https://github.com/wting/hackernews]

JayNeely 7 days ago 0 replies      
Being the sysadmin on a site frequented by sysadmins has to be frustrating at times.

Thanks for all you do!

conorh 7 days ago 0 replies      
Have you thought about perhaps open sourcing the server setup scripts for HN? I'd love (and I'm sure many others here) to help with the configuration. Perhaps a github repo for some chef recipies that people could work on given the current servers?
nmc 8 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the info!

Out of curiosity, do you have an idea about the source of the corruption problems?

ishener 7 days ago 6 replies      
may i ask where are the machines hosted? is that on AWS? if not, why don't you move to a more reliable hosting, like AWS?
lsc 7 days ago 0 replies      
Are you bottlenecking on high iowait? or something else?

just one random bit to try... Obviously, I have no insight into your system and I'm not saying I know more than you or anything, but I've been seeing more situations lately where I had massive latency but reasonable throughput and the disks mostly looked okay wrt. smart, and I mostly just wanted to write about it:

[lsc@mcgrigor ~]$ sudo iostat -x /dev/sda /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sddLinux 2.6.18-371.3.1.el5xen (mcgrigor.prgmr.com) 01/16/2014

avg-cpu: %user %nice %system %iowait %steal %idle

           0.00    0.00    0.05    0.02    0.00   99.93
Device: rrqm/s wrqm/s r/s w/s rsec/s wsec/s avgrq-sz avgqu-sz await svctm %util

sda 0.70 75.11 35.66 1.38 4568.62 611.67 139.85 0.36 9.61 0.53 1.95

sdb 0.46 75.10 35.62 1.39 4566.77 611.67 139.89 0.22 5.89 0.45 1.66

sdc 0.80 75.14 35.63 1.35 4569.63 611.63 140.10 0.64 17.18 0.57 2.10

sdd 0.46 75.09 35.62 1.40 4566.60 611.63 139.87 0.13 3.47 0.40 1.49

(this is a new server built out of older disks that appears to have the problem. It's not so bad that I get significant iowait when idle, but if you try to do anything, you are in a world of hurt.)

Check out the await value. re-do the same command with a '1' after /dev/sdd and it will repeat every second. If sdd consistently has a much worse await, it is what is killing your RAID. Drop the drive from the raid. If performance is better, replace the drive. If performance is worse (and with raid z2, it should be worse if you killed the drive) the drive was fine.

(Of course you want to do the usual check with smart and the like before this)

The interesting part of this failure mode that I have seen is that /throughput/ isn't that much worse than healthy. You get reasonable speeds on your dd tests. but latency makes the whole thing unusable.

erkkie 7 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me I'm still looking for a (pki?-)encrypted zfs snapshots as a backup service, /wink-wink @anyone

Hoping the box has ECC ram, otherwise zfs, too, can be unreliable (http://research.cs.wisc.edu/adsl/Publications/zfs-corruption...)

Goladus 7 days ago 1 reply      
I've been reading this site regularly for almost 7 years. 6-Jan-2014 is the only downtime I remember, and it was really a very minor inconvenience. Sucks about the data loss though, always hard to own that when doing system administration. Thanks for the explanation.
shawn-butler 7 days ago 0 replies      
Using DTrace to profile zfs:


I'm sure other more experienced DTrace users can offer tips but I remember reading this book and learning a lot. And I believe all the referenced scripts were open source and available.

richardw 7 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the update. No worries, it's just a news message board and no businesses are hurt when it's down. I quite enjoy seeing how these things are solved and I'm sure all will be forgiven if you post a meaty post-mortem.
rrpadhy 7 days ago  replies      
I am curious to know the server configuration, architecture and the number of hits it is getting.

If someone does offer a new software architecture, and hosting, would people be open to move hackernews there?

Ask PG: How would you fill out a YC application with YC as your idea?
156 points by trysomething  6 days ago   discuss
mlchild 6 days ago 4 replies      
Apologies in advance to Sam AltmanI know writing HN comments is not work. But I had fun answering! Back to the code._____________________________________________________________

Tell us in one or two sentences something about each founder that shows he or she is an "animal," in the sense described in How to Start a Startup.

Paul and Robert built the first SaaS company, Viaweb, which allowed users to build their own stores on the web. It became Yahoo Stores after its acquisition.

Jessica is an excellent writer, marketing whiz and is already working on the idea for our second major producta one-day version of our summer program in which a number of successful founders give talks to prospective hacker-founders. We think this will inspire even more of the kind of companies we like to invest in.

Trevor built a robot that duplicated the Segways functionality in a weekend using off-the-shelf parts.

Tell us in one or two sentences something about each founder that shows a high level of ability.

Trevor is working on the first self-balancing bipedal robot. Its almost ready.

Robert discovered buffer overflow, which helped bring the internet into the mainstream press.

Jessica managed a highly successful rebranding of the investment bank Adams Harkness as VP of marketing.

Paul is the author of On Lisp (1993) and ANSI Common Lisp (1995). (Have you ever tried programming in Lisp?)

For founders who are hackers: what cool things have you built?(Extra points for urls of demos or screenshots.)

Trevorhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EunicycleRobert and Paulhttp://ycombinator.com/viaweb/Paulhttp://www.paulgraham.com/arc.html

How long have you known one another and how did you meet?

Several years, mostly at school. [Ed. note: ???]

What is your company going to make?

A summer school for young, inexperienced hackers that are interested in starting a company but lack early-stage funding.

The founders will meet with us once a week for dinner, during which a speaker from the technology industry will answer questions and speak from hard-won experience.

If your project is software, what OS(es) and language(s) will you use, and why?


If you've already started working on it, how long have you been working and how many lines of code (if applicable) have you written?

A few monthsmost of the work has been planning the program, the code for the site is fairly simple.

If you have an online demo, what's the url? (Big extra points for this.)


How long will it take before you have a prototype? A beta? A version 1 you can charge for?

Once this application process concludes, the beta should be ready for launch.

How will you partition the work this summer; who will work on what?

All partners will help select companies and advise from past experience. Paul and Robert have more experience with investors and shepherding small companies through the necessary phases towards becoming big ones. Jessica has experience with marketing, branding, and working with large companies. Trevor is a hardware/software savant and is running a growing company of his own.

If you already have a business plan, what's the url? (Don't send us your business plan. Put it on a server and tell us the url. Ascii text preferred. Don't password protect it.)


How will you make money? Who will your customers be, how many are there, and how will they hear about you?

Our basic assumption is that young founders can succeed in building startups with good advising and seed capital. Given our average investment is $18k for 6% of 8 companies, just once company has to be worth $2.4 million for us to break even.

Well advertise in the computer science departments of prominent universities (e.g. Harvard, MIT) to recruit hackers who are looking for an alternative summer job to working at a big company.

Will you do price discrimination?

Well give slightly more money to larger groups, although we suppose thats investment discrimination.

Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

Obvious investment-side competitors are early-stage VC firms, who have more money and the trappings of success. Were banking on them ignoring our target group of early founders.

The competitors were really afraid of are competitors for these hackers time and attention. Fast-growing tech companies, graduate school, and even cushy jobs at big companies might have more superficial appeal. We need to make sure the most promising companies follow through on their potential.

Who will lose most if you succeed? (This need not be a competitor; TV networks have been hurt by email.)

Likely those very same competitors for our founders attention. Google and graduate CS programs might lose some great hackers, although we think in the long run theyll do better if younger programmers see the potential to start companies. The big losers will be the R&D/quant trading/IT/etc. departments at ossified giant companiestheyll lose the kind of brilliant people they use to bury in back offices.

Which companies, in order, are most likely to buy you?


What do you know about your business that other companies in it just don't get?

Young, inexperienced founders can start massively successful companies. They dont need much money or trainingjust seed capital and a push in the right direction.

What's new about what you're doing?

Our focus on such early-stage companies and our plan to invest and work with these companies in batches are both quite novel. Most funds operate asynchronously and make much larger investments in much later-stage companies.

Why would it be hard for someone else to duplicate?

We have experience in starting companies from the ground up and insight into what matters (people, making something people want, thriftiness) and what doesnt (market size, the initial idea, professionalism, having an office, etc.)

Have you made any discoveries you consider patentable?

We think we move fast enough to not need patents.

What might go wrong? (This is a test of imagination, not confidence.)

Perhaps all of the startups will fail. Perhaps the founders will go back to school and the companies stagnate. Perhaps founders do actually need experience at a real job to succeed in business. Perhaps Bill Gates and Larry and Sergey are true needles in the haystack and we wont be able to find hackers who could be huge successes.

But we dont think so.

If you're already incorporated, when were you? Who are the shareholders and what percent of the company do each own? If youve had funding, how much, at what valuation(s)?


If you're not incorporated yet, please list the percent of the company you plan to give each founder, and anyone else you plan to give stock to. (This question is more for you than us.)

[Ed. note: ???]

If you'll have expenses beyond the living costs of your founders, Internet access, server rental, etc., what will they be?

Space to hold our dinners, the food, and the investment money, of course.

Describe, in one sentence each, any companies any of you have started before. If they failed, why? (We consider failed companies valuable experience too.)

Paul and Robert founded Artix, which let art galleries go online. This failed (reason below) but became Viaweb, which allowed people to build their own web stores.

Trevor started Anybots, which has developed several wheel-based self-balancing robots and is closing on a bipedal robot.

If you could trade a 100% chance of $1 million for a 10% chance of a larger amount, how large would it have to be? Answer for each founder. (There is no right answer.)

Lets go with the cold mathematical answer and say $10 million.

If your startup seems at the end of the summer to have a good chance of making you rich, which of the founders would be likely to commit to continue working on it full time over the next couple years?

All of us.

Which of the founders would still want to be working for this company in 10 years, if it were successful, and which would rather sell out earlier and do something else? (Again, no right answer.)

All of us [Ed. note: just one year left!].

Are any of the founders covered by noncompetes or intellectual property agreements that overlap with your project? Will any be under consulting contracts this summer?


Was any of your code written by someone who is not one of your founders? If so, how can you safely use it? (Open source is ok of course.)


Will any of the founders have other jobs, responsibilities, or consulting work this summer?


Tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered, and who discovered it. (The answer need not be remotely related to your project.)

Paul and Robert discovered that art galleries didnt want to go online in 1995. This may not seem surprising now, but it was to us then!

What else would you have asked if you were us?

Theres a joke here somewhere.

Aqueous 6 days ago 1 reply      
Dear founders of Y Combinator,

We regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you a spot in this year's Y Combinator class. Do not take it personally. It does not reflect poorly on the quality of your company, "Y Combinator," or its founding idea. We received a huge number of compelling applications this year. Unfortunately, there just weren't enough spots to go around, so we had to make some difficult choices. As a result, we were unable to admit "Y Combinator" to this year's Y Combinator batch. Please do not be discouraged. Many fantastic ideas like 'Y Combinator' were also not admitted. In fact, we strongly encourage 'Y Combinator' to apply again next year!


Paul Graham

Y Combinator

philip1209 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the Jeff Bezos philosophy of writing a press release as the project proposal.
keketiko 6 days ago 2 replies      
How would you fill out a "Ask HN" submission asking HN how pg would fill out a YC application with YC as his idea?
vbv 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think it would be even better if it was for Viaweb.
redtexture 5 days ago 0 replies      
If this is your aim, you should have a disposable sum of money amounting to around 10 million US Dollars available to devote this project that you don't mind losing entirely. The potential of losing all of your money is a mind game you must deal with.

You don't need to fill out any damn application, nor do you need a badge to go ahead and do this right now.

Paul Graham reluctantly came to the conclusion that he could afford to go ahead and finance this idea and did. He didn't know he could do this until went ahead and did it. You could look it up. Here.

Do you have what it takes? OK then, get going.

javajosh 6 days ago 0 replies      
If pg actually answers this for any other reason than to see me eat my shorts, I'll eat my shorts.
d0m 6 days ago 1 reply      
He wouldn't tell you. However, he would connect with the right people and sneak his way in.
dutchbrit 5 days ago 1 reply      
Filling in an application to a VC wanting to be a VC? Doesn't make any sense.
nichochar 6 days ago 0 replies      
goldenkey 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is just silly considering that YC grew out of a sustained and developed system, not some silly one-off idea.
Stay on top of Github pull requests with Trailer.app
21 points by mezis  1 day ago   19 comments top 11
otikik 23 hours ago 2 replies      
For pull requests, I go to https://github.com/dashboard/pulls/

For comments, I go to https://github.com/notifications

Maybe if I had hundreds of pull requests per week I would need something more elaborate, but for my current situation it's enough.

I never check my email for these.

basil 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is awesome, well done!

I just wanted to chime in and say I like your approach of just focusing on pull requests. There's another app I know of that just focuses on creating issues (http://issuepostapp.com).

I happen to be the author of another GitHub Issues client (http://neat.io/bee/github-issues-client.html) which is aimed at the other end of the spectrum: to be full-featured.

Great to see all these different approaches for different workflows.

davidslv 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm very happy to use this app to be honest this just improved a lot how we keep track of our PR's across all the repositories that we currently have.
istvanp 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I like it! Some suggestions:

- Make the Pref / About etc. submenu an expandable item from the main menu instead of requiring an extra click (I know you were going for minimalism but it's not that intuitive)

- In the pref window list all the sorting options instead of adding a toggle for reversing direction

- Prompt to create or enter a token immediately on first run

- Auto load project list if there is no cache of it

jbranchaud 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice app. Looks clean and straight-forward to use and I like the name! Also, thanks for open sourcing!!

Only question, why just pull requests and not all GitHub issue activity?

jamiecurle 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like this, PR's are a crucial part of my workflow and they are one of the few notifications that I actually don't mind getting.
buf 1 day ago 1 reply      
This app will do wonders for my team. Thanks a lot. This is great.
dominotw 23 hours ago 1 reply      
> This application requires OS X 10.9 or later.


jvandyke 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is amazing guys! Thank you so much, it's exactly what our team needed.
marcusmitchell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Simple and great. Many thanks for this. Working in a large team and being able to keep on top of current PRs has just been made a great deal easier. (Y)
tadejm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice! Will certainly give it a go!
Ask HN: I quit. What should I do now?
2 points by relampago  16 hours ago   2 comments top
declandewet 16 hours ago 1 reply      
That all depends on what you want to do, which direction you wish to go in. Do you want to start your own company? Do you want to settle for a stable job? Do you want to study? Asking other people what you should do will be of no benefit to you if you do not provide the context of where you wish to be headed. I could have very easily decided to troll this thread and written a reply that told you to spend the last of your money on fine Scotch, but instead I wrote this.

If you want to start a business, then start one. If it's a software business, learn to code however you want or do not learn to code at all. You already know marketing, you already have experience in a startup environment, the only key things to follow now would be to find a product idea and iterate, iterate, iterate.

Note that I said "find" a product idea and not "think of a product idea". Thinking of one is a waste of time, because that requires that you spend valuable time finding a target market and then more time finding product/market fit through market evaluation & validation. Rather find an industry of easily contactable people, and ask them what pains them about their job. By doing so, you will have identified a problem as well as the market validation of the solution to that problem. From there you can come up with a product, which you can use to wireframe. Discuss the idea with your chosen businesses, get their feedback and ask if they would pay for it. Verbal financial commitment = done. Some might even invest. All that's left to do is hire the people to build it and the rest is all up to your skills and experience.

If you want to instead study, rather than create your own startup - heed this warning: You get what you pay for. That being said, you can easily learn material online, as a degree in tech is not necessarily important in tech (you're already qualified, and that is at least something that puts you ahead of many others). I wouldn't recommend sound design and music production - all of my DJ friends (amateur or professional) don't even have a day of high-school level musical education to their names. Some have a knack for it, others don't.

If you just want to pay the bills, then get a job. I've found that asking previous employers for a simple paragraph of how, in any way, I benefited the company - and use that in a resume under your the work history section, does help get you that little bit farther.

What you should NOT do under any circumstance is delay. You are not getting any younger and money don't grow on trees - get up, get out, and do something to get you back in the system.

Offer HN: Free lunch for your office this week in SF
40 points by jmhamel  3 days ago   19 comments top 13
_sentient 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, were we located in SF we would definitely be down.

Just a side note. I'm not sure how much work you've put into the website, but that white text against a light blue background is very hard to read. The form could stand some optimization too, unless this is just a MVP for you guys while you work on the back end/fulfillment side.

hansy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Always down for free food. Email sent.
MaxGabriel 3 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think of your competition, which I imagine are ZeroCater and Cater2Me?
mauricio-OH 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hey People Food, some feedback on your post:

- 300 heads? the word "people" is in your startup name and you just called people "heads". Not nice.

- "Catering" probably kills this for most readers. Catering is used with "events". I'm sure you would deliver as long as a company orders what 2 or more? 3 or more? Just phrase it like that so that anyone in a startup feels empowered to submit their company.

- Your ask is weak. I'd filter for the ideal customer of yours: startups with 5+ (whatever) people and also what the limit is - will you give meals for free to every single company that emails you? or just 5-7? and that's how many free lunches? and per company? I'd be specific. First come first serve? etc.

- Send you (the founder) an email at support @ ?? not personal

Please don't misunderstand me, this sounds awesome. It's just that how it's written right now it seems a bit rushed and prone for disappointed HN readers :)

esusatyo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hope you'll scale up to other big cities with very expensive lunches.
jmhamel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for all the support - just digging in to all of your lovely emails :)
blbraverman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, seems like a cool idea. I'm Ben from URX (ben at urx dot com). We're in South Park and we'll happily grub down.
Lita 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey! We were just looking at you guys for our office lunch last week. We'd love to give you guys a try.

We're: Woopra, inc.650 5th St Ste 402San Francisco, CA 94107

And we've got 7 hungry people who'd love to use you guys.


ksibilia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey we are totally interested! Love your idea!

Name: The Pact, INCAddress: 2111 Mission St (at 17th and mission)# People: 14 or 15Lunch days/times: Mondays and Fridays around 1230

We would love to use you guys! Please write back to kayla@pactapp.com

ameliashuja 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amelia Shuja Ops Manager at Skycatch I can be reached at 415-994-5850 or amelia@skycatch.com we have 9 people to serve on Thursday lunch. Our address is 1355 Market St 94103, please contact me to discuss further.Thanks!
songzme 3 days ago 0 replies      
Free food! Thank you, emailed
mzuvella 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing how fast this space heated up.
caffeineninja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Email sent!
Possibly fake Kiva loans
15 points by fisadev  21 hours ago   14 comments top 7
brianleb 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks to me like there are just two women with children in Sierra Leone that run little shops that sell similar items.

I'm sure Kiva has several templates that they use to post loans - you don't think they write each one by hand, do you?

mef 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Could it not just be that there are a lot of people in similar situations getting loans through Kiva and to save time a template is used for the loan description?
xutopia 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see anything bad about that The text looks the same but those seem to be very different people and shops. The Kiva personnel look for certain types of people to lend money to in order to do economic development and sometimes copy and pasting a bit of text best explains to us from afar what they're going to do with the money.

You'd be surprised how many people need to specifically purchase "cigarettes, drinks, and soap" to expand their business.

xenophanes 21 hours ago 2 replies      
According to those pages, they want more than an average year of income for a person in that area, to buy inventory. Isn't that too much inventory to buy all at once?

And yeah it looks like there was a shared template for both of these.

jpasmore 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Search Query "loan in order to purchase cigarettes, drinks, and soap to expand her business"

1. Helping Through Kiva - Surigao Internet Marketingwww.surigaointernetmarketing.com/.../helping-through-kiva?view...id...Posseh requires a loan in order to purchase cigarettes, drinks, and soap to expand her business. She hopes that the extra income from this loan will allow her to ...

2. Helping Through Kiva - Surigao Internet Marketingwww.surigaointernetmarketing.com/.../helping-through-kiva?view...id...Kadie requires a loan in order to purchase cigarettes, drinks, and soap to expand her business for resale. She hopes that the extra income from this loan will ...

3. Adama - EmmausChurches.orgwww.emmauschurches.org/index.php?option=com_jfmicro...Adama requires a loan in order to purchase cigarettes, drinks and soap to expand her business. She hopes that the extra income from this loan will allow her to ...

4. Wakibi - Microkrediet aan Mbalu, Sierra Leonewww.wakibi.nl/2-657214/Translate this pageJan 14, 2014 - Mbalu requires a loan in order to purchase cigarettes, drinks and soap to expand her business. She hopes that the extra income from this loan ...

5. <> Hawakivajapan.org/entrepreneurs/?k_guid=654331Translate this pageHawa requires a loan in order to purchase cigarettes, drinks and soap to expand her business. She hopes that the extra income from this loan will allow her to ...

looks like a template

infecto 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Lets not forget that Kiva profiles are there purely as a way to entice the individual to lend. The money just goes in aggregate to the local lending org. The profile you see is mostly a gimmick.
gabemart 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Who writes the profiles? Is it possible that a field partner of Kiva writes the profiles? That might explain the similarity. They might well i) use a template to create the text, and ii) seek out loan candidates who match a very specific set of criteria. That might explain the similarities.
Using Lyft share link you can pull all names of users
4 points by mauerbac  1 day ago   1 comment top
steveklabnik 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should probably report this to Lyft directly.
Ask HN: Is anyone else here frustrated by HN's flamewar detector?
14 points by md224  1 day ago   3 comments top 3
crazygringo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yup, I agree completely. I've seen this happen several times to particularly interesting stories over the past couple months. It's particularly annoying because it's "sneaky" -- no indication that a story is dead, it just suddenly jumps to the third page and stops receiving upvotes.

It feels an awful lot like a "child-proof" or "sanitized" version of HN, almost a kind of "censorship for your own good", which seems contrarian to the independent hacker spirit.

I can understand if a badge next to the comments link showed up ("warning: controversial") or something, but this kind of sneaky-censorship just feels underhanded. An interesting conversation gets going, people are making valuable points, and then... everything's just dead.

tobylane 23 hours ago 0 replies      
>Are flamewars really that dangerous?

Yes, according to the site owner. Once that is out of the way the rest of the facts slot into obvious places and the detector does what it should be doing.

>This seems to be the equivalent of slaughtering animals to prevent the spread of disease.

Foot and mouth had 2000 cases, 10m slaughtered to prevent it. I was well aware of it at the time and the prevention was agreed with even by the people losing out (farmers). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_United_Kingdom_foot-and-mo...

ScottWhigham 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are you sure it was the flame war detector and not people flagging the story?
Quick tip for developers who use OS X
1076 points by gargarplex  10 days ago   discuss
juanre 10 days ago 12 replies      
Bash, running in your terminal, understands both the Emacs and the Vi commands. By default is Emacs, so you can C-a (control-a) for beginning of line, C-p to go back in command line history, or C-r to search it.

I prefer the Vi mode, though. Add to your .bashrc

set -o vi

Then you can press escape to go from input mode to normal mode; there k will take you to the previous line in command line history, j to the next line, ^ and $ to the beginning and end of the line, /something will search something back.

Editing is really fast; move by words with w (forward) and b (backward), do cw to replace a word, r to replace a letter, i to go back to input. It will remember the last editing command, just as Vi, and repeat it when you press . in normal mode.

guelo 10 days ago  replies      
After making the switch to OS X in the last couple years after living in Linux and Windows before that, I think it's objective to say that keyboard shortcuts in OS X are much worse in both ease of use and consistency across applications.
Ask HN: Boilerplate SaaS app for Python?
7 points by notastartup  2 days ago   5 comments top 3
codegeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I mostly use flask. I have not come across a complete SAAS boilerplate in flask but you can probbaly put one together by using some of these great flask extensions:

    Flask-Security [0] . Takes care of the following:              Session based authentication        Role management        Password encryption        Basic HTTP authentication        Token based authentication        Token based account activation (optional)        Token based password recovery / resetting (optional)        User registration (optional)        Login tracking (optional)        JSON/Ajax Support    Many of these features are made possible by integrating various Flask extensions and libraries. They include:        Flask-Login        Flask-Mail        Flask-Principal        Flask-Script        Flask-WTF        itsdangerous        passlib    Additionally, it assumes youll be using a common library for your database connections and model definitions. Flask-Security supports the following Flask extensions out of the box for data persistence:        Flask-SQLAlchemy        Flask-MongoEngine        Flask-Peewee    Using stripe with Flask [1]: Follow this guide on stripe's docs. 
[0] http://pythonhosted.org/Flask-Security/

[1] https://stripe.com/docs/checkout/guides/flask

WettowelReactor 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you looked at web2py (http://www.web2py.com/)
       cached 24 January 2014 13:05:02 GMT