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Ask HN: What book changed your life in 2014?
257 points by petecooper  8 hours ago   223 comments top 125
Evgeny 6 hours ago 3 replies      
For the mind:


A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

Not only a description of the Stoic philosophy, which is, unfortunately, not very well known today, but also a great practical guide to a variety of techniques that can be included into daily activities easily, and will increase happiness.

For the body:


Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength - Steven Low

As I'm growing older (turned 40 last year), I'm no longer inclined to exercise with very heavy weights and was looking into replacing most of the barbell/dumbell exercises in my routine with bodyweight exercise. The book is a great encyclopedia of exercise that can be performed without or with minimal equipment. There are progressions, advice on creating routines, on injury prevention and management and a lot more. There is also a subreddit for those who follow the book http://www.reddit.com/r/overcominggravity

netcan 6 hours ago 2 replies      
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

It's written for writers but is relevant broadly. The message is pretty simple and you don't really need to read the whole book to get it. It's one of those keep-driving-the-message self help-ish books.

Basically the point is to name and shame "resistance," a catch all term for procrastination, fear and everything else that prevents a writer from writing a book. It also applies to starting a startup, a career, a family, an exercise regime Like I said, the point is simple and the information could be conveyed in a short essay.

The reason for the repetition is to actually realize how big a demonic bottleneck this resistance is and that overcoming it will take effort and more importantly, strategy. It's probably going to derail your plans unless you plan for it. Personifying (or demonifying) it is part of the approach.

This is getting further from the book's actual content but the analogy for me is addiction. Say you are an alcoholic. It's not enough to decide to stop drinking, this is a fight. You need to realize that addiction will probably win if you fight stupid. You need a plan to beat addiction. It will fight back. You need to put time and resources into it. Everyone knows this and former alcoholics will start pushing you straight into two things, making sure you realize the scale of the problem and making sure you have a plan. They'll probably recommend AA which gives you a formulaic strategy.

Resistance might not be the bottleneck for everyone, but it is for many. For us, we need to make war on it

david927 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Capital in the Twenty First Century, Thomas Piketty


I've always been a bit embarrassed for the economics profession; it's always seemed to me that it could be where math meets sociology and psychology, but is instead where politics meets unfounded conjecture.

Piketty changed that for me. He does true science here. I read it because I noticed that it has received every superlative you could confer on such a tome. It deserves them all. If you haven't read it yet, start now.

karmacondon 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.

It describes the daily schedule of almost every famous creative person you can think of in a few paragraphs, from Bach to Tesla to Ayn Rand. Peering into the day to day lives of well known people was fascinating, but I was most interested in how efficient they were with their time. Many of the people featured in the book, especially the writers, sat down and worked for only two or three hours a day and often produced only several pages. It really changed my perspective on how creative work gets done. Especially when considering the hn culture of hyperproductivity. it was revealing to see how some of the greatest creative minds of all time respected the limits of their quality mental output.

I've tried to adapt my personal schedule to match some of their habits, and have generally felt better about being able to get a limited amount of creative work done in 24 hours. Come to see a new side of people who's work you know well, stay to get a better understanding of how they created great things.

russnewcomer 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright. A great historical look at Jesus and 1st Century Judaism.

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller. Made me stop and think a lot about how I interact with family and friends that have gone through struggles.

Coders at Work by Peter Seibel. I enjoy learning from the experienced, and Coders At Work is a fantastic walk through the recent history of computing, as told by those who walked through it. I wish there were a true coding focused sequel.

urish 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber.

I'm cautious to say it changed my life, but it definitely changed my view on many things. I'm more aware of the ubiquity and power of debt, and I can no longer take those for granted.

It's an extremely interesting read and has a broader intellectual appeal, elucidating the roots of money, morality, and the roles of markets, nations, and friends with regard to those.

calebm 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Ulysses by James Joyce: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_%28novel%29

For most of my life, I focused on the logical, external, left-brain side of life. I saw little value in art (and even spurned it as something pretentious people did to seem more cultured). And so, I defined myself as logical, left-brain, scientist, etc and rejected the tags: right-brain, artist, etc.

Leading up to reading Ulysses, I had been growing in artistic appreciation, but Ulysses really pushed me over the edge. Prior to Ulysses, I felt I could only admire art as an outsider (because again, I was a left-brainer - I felt that I didnt belong). Ulysses helped me change my very self-image. I am not a left-brainer; I am a human, and art is how we can express and share ourselves with each other.

martythemaniak 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Introduction to Systems Biology - Design Principles of Biological Circuits, by Uri Alon.

It opened my eyes to a whole new field that will become a massive industry over the coming decades. Much like a Systems course in engineering covers recurring design patterns in physical systems (feedback loops, noise filters, pulse generators, etc), this book uses the same approach for biological systems. It is written from an engineer's perspective using engineering language, which for me makes biology much easier to understand.

kitbrennan 4 hours ago 4 replies      
`Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance`

The book looks at what it means to say something has 'quality'.

It didn't teach me any new philosophical methods or theories, but it did make me look at my own work differently and start asking: how can I make something with the highest quality? What compromises that quality? What is a method that leads to the highest quality?

Translating that to my business life: in the startup scene I've scene a lot of startups treat lean as gospel (myself included at one point), and as a result they compromise on the quality that both themselves and their customers are happy with. So I certainly found it useful to have a book that made me think about this.

jmduke 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks like it's my turn to provide the cliche hipster answer:

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruku Murakami:


If you're familiar with Murakami, it's par for the course and considered one of his pivotal novels. If you're not: surrealist, dreamlike modern fiction often centering around ideas of masculinity, post-war fallout, and urban ennui. Incredibly strange and beautiful stuff.

I've read more in 2014 than I have in the past five or so years, but Wind Up Bird Chronicle is the one that has stuck with me the most. Even if it didn't exactly change my morning routine or lead me on the path to riches, I wake up most mornings and its taste is still in my mouth.

(A comparison, if you're familiar with it: Earthbound, less in terms of tone and more in terms of setting. Shigesato Itoi, the writer of Earthbound, actually published a bunch of short stories with Murakami and they've been translated into English: http://letsmeetinadream.blogspot.com/)

michaelvkpdx 3 hours ago 1 reply      
"The Circle", by Dave Eggers. Narrowly edging "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan.

I've been in tech a long time. I came up in the early 90's when the Internet was a tool for collaboration, meeting new people, and taking down the evil bastards.

But since the advent of Facebook, Google, and "pervasive computing", I've been haunted by the sense that what was once good is being perverted in ways that are destroying what makes humanity great. It's always been hard for me to explain that feeling in ways that make sense to those who haven't been part of the wave, whose first computer was an iPhone.

"The Circle" is fabulous because it brings this sensation to life in a way that casual readers can grasp. It's great because it captures what's happening. I only wish it offered a proposed solution that goes beyond living in a bunker.

Honorable mention, for similar reasons, to Mr. Penumbra.

conradfr 6 hours ago 7 replies      
Starting Strength - because this time I actually started lifting instead of just reading it :)

The Pragmatic Programmer - It has been recommended to me by a good developer that is self-taught like me. So far so good. Some things are a bit dated though.

kethinov 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

The book hit me at a particularly receptive moment. I was on an airplane headed to a meeting that easily could have done remotely just as effectively without the excessive time and money cost. Ironically, I read the entire book on the plane.

The book is great at illustrating what types of meetings need to be in person and what types don't, dispelling common myths along the way with solid research.

They concluded that our current default of a compulsory office presence with only occasional remote work permitted is exactly backwards. It should be the opposite. The types of meetings that require you to be in the same room to be collaborative are the exception, not the rule.

It's a truly great book and I recommend all creative professionals read it.

johnnyg 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Caesar's Commentaries, by Julius Gaius Caesar

Teaches that while technology will change and political systems will be distinct and nuanced, the human animal is just about the same.

When I see something that people did then that they still do today, I find that I can predict what a group of people is likely to do in a given situation in the future.

This both blows my mind as things "click" and makes me sad. In either case, I'm better prepared.

rcconf 6 hours ago 2 replies      
The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing.

Learning about the financial system really changed my perspective on how to deal with money in the long term. It has had immediate effects on my life.

I learned about taxation in detail, opened an account on a discount brokerage, changed saving patterns, and have made a portfolio for the next 10 years.

I have a spreadsheet of how much I can spend and componentize my bank cards. One is for bills, another for spending, and the rest are investing accounts. When I get a paycheque, I put how much I need for bills directly into the bill account, the allocated amount for investing in investment accounts, and the rest in my spending account. I know exactly how much I can spend at restaurants and I don't need to do any mental math.

I really feel like learning this at age 22 was life changing and I will be thanking my self in the future.

"Invest early and often" - Jack Bogle

nilkn 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The Road to Reality, by Roger Penrose:


This has been a really refreshing book for me to read. I studied mathematics in college but haven't really exercised that part of my brain since graduating and working as a programmer. Although this book is probably inaccessible to someone without some formal mathematical training, it's still one-of-a-kind. Nobody else of Penrose's stature has ever attempted to go from zero to string theory in a single volume, with all the physics and mathematics explained and very little left out.

For me, it's really been nice to finally satisfy a lifetime of curiosity that had built up about quantum theory. My fascination with it has never been enough to drive me to be a physicist, but it was enough for me to feel uneasy about not really knowing the underlying mathematics.

pwenzel 3 hours ago 1 reply      
"How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" - by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This book has been life-changing with regards to my relationship with my 3-year-old.

It also changed the way I communicate with adults.


jeremyis 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So Good They Can't Ignore You - Cal Newport

He's a CS prof at Georgetown now and wrote this while finishing up his Phd. Gives great and contrarian advice on career strategy snd path - focus on getting good at something (eg protramming. You'll grow to become passionate about it - most likely the things you're passionate about before your career can't be a career (eg sports, gaming). Also talks about deliberate practice and mission oriented careers.

niels_olson 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Greg Caporaso's Introduction to Applied Bioinformatics. Suddenly saw a huge new way to think about code, especially python, and an accessible path to deep, sound thinking about bioinformatics.


a-saleh 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Dungeon World rulebook - http://www.dungeon-world.com/and Vornheim city kit - http://www.lotfp.com/RPG/products/vornheim

Mostly because I always wanted to run a pen&paper rpg, even though I am fairly busy, and this provided a rule-light enough framework to just do that. Especially Vornheim, that shows how to do randomize world building in under a minute :-)

egypturnash 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Decrypting Rita, the graphic novel I've been working on since April 2011.http://egypt.urnash.com/rita/

I made a major mistake in the prepress process and had to eat it, losing all profits from the Kickstarter from the second volume. It has also gotten kind words from more than one Hugo winner. On a productive month, its Patreon is starting to pay about half of my rent; I feel like the push of publicity for the final volume (somewhere around April 2014 if all goes well) will do some pretty interesting things to my career as a comics creator, with my bills quite possibly being paid entirely by the fraction of my fan base that chooses to support me on Patreon somewhere around next winter. Assuming they don't vanish en masse when I start the next project, which will be very different in tone and subject matter...

I know you were mostly looking for books to read. But none of the fiction or non-fiction I've read this year has really done much of anything to my worldview. I think the last one that did that was probably Robert Anton Wilson's Prometheus Rising, which basically turned me into an occasional magician.

vkb 6 hours ago 0 replies      

1)Antifragile by Taleb. It has given me a whole new framework with which to think about the world. He is consistently one of the only "modern thinkers" that I trust, and who delivers no b.s.

2)Confessions of an Economic Hitman by Perkins. Not a new book, and I didn't read it this year, but when I did read it, it made me realize that the world works much differently than I understood it to on the surface, and that you should never trust any business or government at face value.

spython 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Impro" by Keith Johnstone.It may seem like a book on improvisational theater, but is more a collection of notes on interaction between people. Quite eye-opening and empowering. Would recommend to anyone. http://www.amazon.com/Impro-Improvisation-Theatre-Keith-John...
fogus 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I was a voracious reader of programming books prior to reading Stewart Brand's "How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built." However, it was this book that made me (finally) realize that some of the best programming books are not about programming at all. As a result I've cut back drastically on my "language-specific" programming books[1] and have sought programming-relevant books instead.

[1]: And I've made it a personal goal to limit the "language-specific" books to those written before 1995.

zz1 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
JSeymourATL 1 hour ago 0 replies      
An unusually thought-provoking book that's impacted my approach to work & daily habits this year-- The Way of The SEAL, by Mark Divine > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17465530-the-way-of-seal

If you read nothing else, Chapter 2: Develop Front-Sight Focus. Solid, practical advice on directing the win in your mind. Here's a good interview with the author> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_bDMEUF7F8

hvd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
For me it was1.Influence: http://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert...It talks about how the brain has certain preprogrammed sequences for situations.2.Predictably Irrationalhttp://www.amazon.com/Predictably-Irrational-Hidden-Forces-D...Again about the hidden mechanisms with which we make decisions and our reptile brain.
unclesaamm 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami


Hard to do it justice, but here is Patti Smith:


I changed my attitude toward all of my old friends after reading this book. I started calling them more, and trying to be more in their lives. It's amazing how centering books can be, if they catch you in the right mindset. I'll pass on a warning that this book deals with some heavy, serious depression.

Igglyboo 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Gdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Finally got around to reading it and I'm kicking myself for not doing it earlier. I'm honestly considering staying in school and going for a masters or PhD in computer science after reading it(about to graduate and have job in industry lined up).

MrMattWright 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Inspired to do: Connected http://www.amazon.com/Connected-Surprising-Networks-Friends-...

I was utterly amazed by the concept of Social Network Analysis, how emotion travels through a network, how the 6 degrees thing works. Did you know someone you have never met can affect your weight? I was so amazed I started a company building a CRM from the ground up using graph theory. We launch in Q1 2015.

Inspired to be: The seven habits of highly effective people. A great book, which many read and sight. Forcing myself to write about my values and behaviours means you have to live up to them :)I read it once and now I am reading it again with my girlfriend actually doing all the exercises. You can read it in a week but to really take it all in you need to work on it over a lifetime. http://www.wikiwand.com/en/The_Seven_Habits_of_Highly_Effect...

alphaBetaGamma 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Stoner, by John Williams

The story of an average, not very successful literary professor, told with great humanity and tenderness. This does not seem much of a story line, yet I believe this book is so good it will still be read in one hundred years.


MichaelGG 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Blindsight. (Spoiler alert!) Not because it's a great fiction story (it is), but because it introduced me to the concept of Unconscious Intelligence. We take it for granted that "sleeping on a problem" or "going for a walk" can lead us to great ideas and breakthroughs. That's great, ideas do just pop into the mind. But... what created those ideas?

This might be the key to explaining a lot of things. For instance, I read a terrible book about why RSI isn't real, how it's just in my head, by an author that loved Freud. I put it down in disgust. But somehow, that seed of doubt, that explanation that RSI was an unconscious response to other pain... My RSI went away.

(Apologies if this is well known, but it is a novel enough to this 33 yr old that it sends chills down my spine.)

agentultra 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Permutation City by Greg Egan takes the cake this year in fiction. Although a very close second would be the Hardcover Penguin Classic's edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley mainly for it's deftly abridged version and preface which gave a new dimension to the story for me.

Non-fiction would either be Mortality by the late Christopher Hitchens or "On Numbers and Games" by John H. Conway.

shoover 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Shop Class As Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford completely changed and focused how I think about work and mental healthy.

The Accidental Creative and Die Empty by Todd Henry provide excellent tools and background for adding practical discipline to creative work and life in general. As of now I can't prioritize one over the other. Either or both are well worth the time invested.

Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton takes a critical look at how charitable giving and service are done by the modern church and provides a better plan distilled from decades of experience helping troubled neighborhoods in Atlanta.

The Permanent Portfolio by Rowland and Lawson preaches Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio but fills in all the implementation gaps left in Harry's rather thin original.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This classic on what Christians believe cuts as deep today as it did in Lewis's day.

cjjuice 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Enchiridion of Epictetus

Parallel Lives by Plutarch ( Favorites are Cato the Younger and Julius Caesar)

defen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy

Not sure I can explain in an HN post...

encoderer 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The Great Bridge is a phenomenal engineering story (and so much more). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was chilling but I'd read it again. Simply fascinating, written by a western reporter who was actually there.
mgmeyers 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disordershttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/130610.The_Divided_Mind?...

This book helped me get rid of the wrist tendinitis I had for four years prior, in four weeks. It also changed the way I view many of the chronic physical ailments many of us face.

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourselfhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1963638.The_Untethered_S...

A great book about consciousness and awareness that isn't too "froo froo"-y. It definitely has had a profound impact on my relationship to myself and my surroundings.

To Soften the Blowhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16209280-to-soften-the-b...

It's hard to define the impact this book had on me, but it was also profound. It's an autobiography of Lynnie Vessels who's father shot her mother with a shotgun across their dining room table. As depressing as that sounds, it's actually a very inspiring and strangely uplifting book.

salemh 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You AreAlan Wattshttp://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Taboo-Against-Knowing/dp/0679...

It has been a while since a book from even 10 pages in breaks my model of reality a bit.

Just saying "I have a body" as a separation, instead of "I /am/ body" etc.

Very interesting, fun (witty) succinct.

Its my first Alan Watts book, so that could be part of why it hit me nicely.

marcusgarvey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The Open Focus Brain. http://www.amazon.com/The-Open-Focus-Brain-Harnessing-Attent...

"According to Dr. Les Fehmi, a clinical psychologist and researcher, many of us have become stuck in narrow-focus attention: a tense, constricted, survival mode of attention that holds us in a state of chronic stressand which lies at the root of common ailments including anxiety, depression, ADD, stress-related migraines, and more. To improve these conditions, Dr. Fehmi explains that we must learn to return to a relaxed, diffuse, and creative form of attention, which he calls 'Open Focus.'

This highly readable and empowering book offers straightforward explanations and simple exercises on how to shift into a more calm, open style of attention that reduces stress, improves health, and enhances performance."

arthurjj 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Having a 30 minute subway commute I'm looking forward to seeing what suggestions come out of this thread. My two suggestions:

1. Thinking fast and slow - Understanding how we actually think as opposed to how we think we think is a critical skill, especially in a startup. Having a Nobel prize winner explain how the two systems of your brain work together (and can sabotage you) was enlightening and enjoyable. This book helped me understand many aspects of design and sales that had been black boxes for me


2. Art and Fear - This is a book nominally about the relationship between artists and how they go about making art but it is useful for anyone creative. It's about how to go about making when you have errands to run, a deadline, or just don't feel like it. As a dev I found it inspiring


hluska 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have largely been out of fiction the last few years, but in 2014, I made a point of getting back into fiction. Consequently, my 'most important' list of 2014 will be rather heavily weighted towards fiction.

1) Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Not only the best written account of the action in World War I's trenches but also a wonderful account of race in Canada, this book is absolutely beautiful.

2) The Winds of War/War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

If you want to learn the most minute history of WW2, this series is a great way to boost your knowledge. This not only covers the War, but also gives enough background that the rest of the 20th century's history makes more sense.

3) Deep Currents by Valerie Haig-Brown

I read this book on Vancouver Island just a few km from the Haig-Brown house and it changed my views on conservation, the pacific fisheries, and Campbell River (which is where my Dad spent his teenaged years).

* Edited because of fat fingers.

lui8906 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Just looking through my read category on my kindle and realised I haven't read any life changing books in 2014.

Currently reading Javascript and Jquery by Jon Duckett and find his visual style and clear, concise writing perfectly fits how I learn. Could not recommend it enough to any other programming learners.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi is a very simple, straightforward book on personal finance. He advocates having your money automatically distributed into fixed costs, investments and spending money rather than getting bogged down in budgets.

An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson is the first in a trilogy that chronicles America's entrance into World War II in North Africa, all the way to the downfall of the Third Reich. His style is both minutely researched and totally readable. He nails the violence and horror at the front, as well as the incredible scale and logistics of the whole enterprise. I'm now on the second in the trilogy, The Day of Battle.

Last year Thinking Fast and Slow and Antifragile were my highlights - they compliment each other well and both changed my outlook on how the world is organised and how I perceive it.

Thanks to all the other posters, I've added lots of the suggested books to my kindle.

bengali3 4 hours ago 1 reply      
As a dev ultimately wanting to do bigger things:

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling


As a human with a curiosity:

Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes by Charles Seife


dabent 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"The Score Takes Care of Itself" by Bill Walsh: http://www.amazon.com/The-Score-Takes-Care-Itself/dp/1591843...

Jack Dorsey recommended this title at Startup School 2013 and I got around to reading it in 2014. It's also one of the readings for YC's "How to Start a Startup" class: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

I didn't think the leadership notes from a highly successful NFL (American professional football) coach would have much application in the world of technology, but Walsh's insights and discipline can be applied to many different fields. It's changed the way I work as I lead teams and I realize I have a lot more to learn and apply in my day-to-day duties.

"The Score Takes Care of Itself" does get a bit behind-the-scenes in the football world, but if the reader is willing to get past those parts, or better, learn the lessons in some of the stories, there is a lot to be gained.

zo1 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Conflict_of_Visionshttp://www.amazon.com/Conflict-Visions-Ideological-Political...

Really good read, though a bit longish. But that could be due to the fact that I listened to an audio-book of it.

nickdandakis 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The Book - Alan Wattshttp://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Taboo-Against-Knowing/dp/0679...

I sometimes get stuck in a loop of existential questions, and even though I still do, that book taught me how to deal with them better.

j-b 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The Anglican Book of Common Prayer.


andersthue 3 hours ago 0 replies      
When my company was faced with a sudden 40% drop in revenue I saw a way to make a turnaround in "from worst to first" by Gordon Bethune, a book about a $400m turnaround done in 12 months : http://www.amazon.com/From-Worst-First-Continentals-Remarkab...

After getting out on top after my turnaround, Simon Sinek's "Start with why" helped me figure out why I am running my business the way I am, and how I can use that to do even better : http://www.amazon.com/Start-Why-Leaders-Inspire-Everyone/dp/...

mihok 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality - by Edward Frenkelhttp://www.amazon.com/Love-Math-Heart-Hidden-Reality/dp/0465...

Such a great book for people who love math. The end of the book gets a little bit hairy with more complex subjects but it is a great story from Mr Frenkel of going from school to working on the Langlands Project - toted as the rosetta stone for math. Defiantly a must read for anyone who wants to get into mathematics as a career

marvin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Superintelligence" by Nick Bostrom was the most interesting book I read this year. It provides a comprehensive but accessible summary of the research on the ethics and security aspects of prospective general artificial intelligence.

If you have ever enjoyed reading the Lesswrong wiki or any of the readings from MIRI/SIAI, this book provides a really great summary.

ikeboy 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky and the related sequences.
vojant 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Antifragile - This book change my ways of thinking about life. Also this year I've read Black Swan, another great book by the same author.
kunstmord 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller. To be honest, I re-read it, but it had a much more significant impact the second time (I originally considered it to be weaker than "Black Spring" and "Tropic of Cancer", but this time round, due to certain personal circumstances, it resonated with me in a very powerful way his ruminations concerning compassion, interacting with other people, the meaning and value of work and creativity). nfortunately, the only new book I read this year was "The Great Mortality", a pretty interesting but a tad too un-academic account of the Black Plague in Europe. Hopefully, I'll have a lot more time to read in 2015.
devgutt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For me, the most useful book this year was Mindset by Carol Dweck. Simply amazing and mind-blowing.


yogiHacks 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh jeez, this'll be tough. I'll start by saying that Tom Robbins "Still Life with Woodpecker" inspired me in the post-undergraduate world greatly.


Leaving college with such powerful to convictions of social evolution, scientific pragmatism, and the power of Art as a mental practice left me with some hard facets of reality to contend with. This is the struggle of one of the the main characters, Leigh-Cheri. She is a wide eyed idealist who is thoroughly disenfranchised with the way the systems in the world abuse and exploit people.

She meets a mad-bomber outlaw named Woodpecker, a revolutionary with bordering mythical aspirations. Their affair is a wild journey of growth as characters and citizens, not of a royal bloodline or America, but of Earth and the ideas, and actions, which make this world a vibrantly beautiful place.Most important book of the year for me, with close runners up:

"The Nature of Code" by Daniel Shiffman. Excellent book on simulation of the natural, chaotic world in the Processing programming language.http://natureofcode.com/book/

"Nine Kinds of Naked" by Tony Vigorito, which deals with the primacy of synchronicity and numeric harmony in the lives of twirling, interrelated characters.http://www.amazon.com/Nine-Kinds-Naked-Tony-Vigorito/dp/0156...

Good reads everyone!

frequentflyeru 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend The Happiness Advantage. Really changed my outlook on life for the positive.

Author also did a TED talk on the subject called "The Happy Secret To Better Work".



armed10 7 hours ago 1 reply      
For me it's: quiet the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking
technology 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Not really a book but the following post was very insightful, I go back to it frequently


krschultz 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Work - The Hard Things about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. I'm not a startup founder, but I've been in a couple startups. It's really easy to say what the founders should have done (especially in hindsight). This book helped me understand the burden a bit more.

Not Work - River of Time by Jon Swain. It's about Vietnam & Cambodia, and really reminds me to put things in perspective. Change the location from those countries to Syria & Iraq, that's effectively whats going on today. It boggles my mind to think we're here debating container technology and js frameworks when people are dieing in droves around the world. It's cliche, but if you seriously think about it, it's hard to reconcile.

nicklovescode 1 hour ago 0 replies      
On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins - gave me a framework to think about how the mind navigates and learns about the world.
jplahn 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan

I've been negligent towards fiction lately, but I wanted to change that because it's always been my first love. So to do that, I started reading Flanagan's novel. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's the Man Booker Prize winner for 2014, which is more or less the British equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize.

I never thought I'd have any books that could crack into my top 3 or 5 for a while, but this one has done it.

The basis of the book is Australian POWs working on the Death Railway during WWII. The book isn't exclusively told in this setting, but much of the book stems from it.

humpt 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The 4-hour-body changed my life. It changed how I look, how I eat, my health, my self esteem/confidence, my mood. I am a completely different person now.
vargalas 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
bsnape 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win


dbarlett 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande


q-base 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Antifragile or The Obstacle Is The Way - are probably the most influential
soundlab 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Pulse: Understanding the Vital Signs of Your Business

This is a great book for anyone running a bootstrapped business. It is based on the Corelytics software product, which is a financial analysis tool that syncs with Quickbooks to provide trendline, progress against goals, and other real time financial metrics for startups. This gives you a view of where things are headed rather than a "too late" picture in your financials.


mathattack 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't have any life changers, but I throughly enjoyed The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Horowitz. I've been turned off by the soft and cuddly management book industry because it only focuses on the bright side. Real work is hard and dirty, and Horowitz captured it.
guiambros 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Spark, by John J. Ratey, one of the pioneers of studying ADHD and the impact of exercise on the brain.


blwsk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. The story gradually unfurls itself from the first few pages and new layers are constantly being added. It was written a few years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki but seems even more relevant today. It's very short and can be read in a single sitting if one is determined.
rk0567 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Mostly related to mind/happiness/consciousness.

+ Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion - Sam Harris

+ Free Will - Sam Harris

+ Mindfulness in Plain English - Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

gregd 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Two books that aren't mentioned, surprisingly, are:

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz

In my humble opinion, these two books alone, have the ability to change one's life.

franze 5 hours ago 1 reply      
peshkira 4 hours ago 0 replies      

As a non-physisist I always wanted to understand relativity at least to some basic degree. This book was an eye opener...

sumedh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders. Its basically a collection of Buffett's annual reports from 1970 to 2012.

If you invest money directly in the stock market, you must read it. It will teach you investing, accounting, economics, human behavior in a simple words.


rnavarro1 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Functional Programming in Scala: I would say that this changed my professional life.

This book covers lot's of FP concepts in a very simple way, and I bet that anyone that struggles daily with hard-to-maintain OO projects would fall in love with it FP.

superasn 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Programming related: Perl cookbook (helped me to setup my first online business and do what i do today)

Life related: The Power of Habit (didn't skip a single day at gym for 3 months non stop because of what i learned from this book)

acjohnson55 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy by Bill Janeway blew my mind.

It's a tough read, because it assumes a lot of prior knowledge of academic econ and finance. Also, what I would regard as lackluster editing makes comprehension a challenge beyond that. But the content is one of the best descriptions of our economic system, steeped in historical analysis, and finishing with some strong advice on how to address the public vs private enterprise dilemma to address the challenges of tomorrow.

protomyth 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Not in 2014, but I think they are worth reading:

Brad Cox: Superdistribution: Objects as Property on the Electronic Frontier

Brad Cox: Object-Oriented Programming: An Evolutionary Approach

Jason Brennan: Why Not Capitalism?

Leo Brodie: Thinking Forth

mmozuras 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Thinking in Systems - Donella H. Meadows, Diana Wright


SixSigma 6 hours ago 0 replies      
bowditch 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull - Inside look of Pixar's history and impressive culture
timmillwood 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
jimduk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Life and Fate - Vasily Grossman

Russian epic following multiple characters through WW2.

It shows how serious, good people can have very different and legitimate views on life; It characterises some eternal types of criminal or charlatan. It reminds you about fate and about how lucky we are now.

favoriteof 3 hours ago 0 replies      
[plug] We made our site http://favoriteof.com - exactly for this! To figure out what to read next based on recommendations by celebrities (Executives, politicians, actors). For example check out recommendations by Richard Branson, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg here: http://favoriteof.com/entrepreneurs/books/

Looking forward to feedback, and requests!

bengarvey 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Thinking Fast and Slow
epaga 6 hours ago 0 replies      
For me it was "What's Best Next" by Matt Perman.

Refreshing take on productivity, very similar to Getting Things Done and co., however this time tackled from a distinctly Christian perspective, so it may not be for everyone.I enjoyed how he laid a foundation of motivation before he gave a bunch of practical thoughts on how to structure tasks, goals, and so on.

reubensutton 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Zero to One" by Peter Thiel
95014_refugee 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The Fifth Discipline (Senge)

As a systems architect struggling with Conway's Law, this has helped me understand systems-of-people better and given me some simple ways to think about interactions in a more abstract fashion.

shiven 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Audiobook:Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, by Albert Bernstein

Book #1 (Recommended by someone here on HN!)The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growthby Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Book #2Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh

Bdiem 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Lord of the Rings" by Tolkien. Tried to read it for years, but always got distracted by other books (e.g. "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes - found in a HN). Lo! This year, after I purchased a e-book version I finally concluded the quest and cast the ... I mean I read it.
aidenn0 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I odd in that I've never read a book that significantly affected my life?
tdobson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not a new book, but Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh has had a great impact on me.

Fun and easy to read book too. :)

kendallpark 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The Brothers Karamazov
Lambdanaut 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"What do you say after you say hello?"

Transactional analysis is lifechanging. It's weird to me that this book isn't more popular.

stevenmays 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Mastery - Robert Greene

Gives you a guide on how to attain a level of mastery in a domain of knowledge.

bogdansolga 3 hours ago 0 replies      
'Outliers' [1], by Malcolm Gladwell, was the last book which changed the way I look on the world around me

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_%28book%29

Highly recommended

arh68 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt
andrewartajos 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's Steal Like an Artist for me by Austin Kleon. It's such a quick read perfect for my short attention span. It packs so much advice without the fluff.
marmot1101 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Work related: Inspired by Mary Cagan, The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

Non-Work related: The Supreme Gift and Warrior of Light by Coelho.

andrewartajos 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon for me. It's a quick read perfect for my short attention span. It packs a lot of practical advice without the fluff.
crm416 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.

It should be considered required reading these days--couldn't be more timely.

jacobroufa 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The Time Ships, by Stephen Baxter

The depth of his exploration of the human condition through the continuation of H.G. Wells' classic just floored me. My jaw was dropped practically from page one.

pbowyer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.amazon.com/Longing-Know-Esther-Lightcap-Meek/dp/1...Longing To Know - Esther Lightcap Meek

For years I've been stuck with questions like "What does it mean to know?", "What is truth?", "How can I hold an opinion?" and "How can I say what I think is as valid as what somebody else thinks?".

This book does a great job of untangling what it means to know, the limitations of knowing, and doesn't duck the difficult questions.

spix 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Black swan Nicolas Masson taleb
kingmanaz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs.
ftudor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The Beach - Alex Garland ...I'm 42 now, but read this in my late twenties. If you are 18-32 this book will save your life.
mindcrime 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't know that any one book exactly changed my life, but a handfull of titles do stand out in my mind.

Zero To One by Peter Thiel

The Art Of Profitability by Adrian Slywotzky

The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

madao 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Atlas Shrugged - by Ayn Rand
tezza 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The Naked Eye - Charles Saatchi

Outsider - Brian Sewell Autobiography

vegancap 6 hours ago 0 replies      
'For a new Liberty' - Murray Rothbard
tomsun 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Doris Kearns Goodwin.
boothead 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The Trauma of Everyday Life - Mark Epstein

Mindsight - Dan Siegel

Conflict Communications - Rory Miller

dominotw 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I discovered Jiddu Kirshnamurthi in 2014.

My thought patterns have been permanently altered.

ElijahLynn 6 hours ago 0 replies      
* Eat to Live (nutrition)

* The Promise of Sleep (sleep)

* Spark (brain health)

ashwin67 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Born to run-chris mcdougall.The name says it all.
mertnesvat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
ray kurzweil how to create a mind (it helped me to change my point of view to my behaviors for example I stopped to watch reality show started to take a design session for 1 hour everyday etc)
jonnynezbo 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The Alchemist and 1984
mikraft 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Flinch - Julien Smith

Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill

zedshaw 5 hours ago 0 replies      
These actually took me most of 2013 and 2014 to get through:

How To See Color And Paint It - http://www.amazon.com/How-Color-Paint-Arthur-Stern/dp/082302... Taught me how to paint what I see accurately.

Secret Knowledge - http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Knowledge-New-Expanded-Rediscov... Taught me that painters have been using projection for hundreds of years so I'm allowed to use any technology I can get my hands on to make art.

Van Gogh: The Life -- http://www.amazon.com/Van-Gogh-Life-Steven-Naifeh/dp/0375758... Hated this book because the authors (two obnoxious lawyers who happen to be good at research) write about him with zero compassion like he deserved the abuse he received for being different. However, Van Gogh's story is fantastic and inspiring even if it is very tragic.

There's a whole ton of others, but those stand out.

rokhayakebe 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Not 2014, but the Great Books of the Western World.
jack_gott 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The New Class Conflict, Joel Klotkin
Bdiem 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The Making of the
Ask HN: Didn't know I needed this. Now I can't work without it
12 points by nullcode000  4 hours ago   13 comments top 4
davismwfl 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I just went to the site and looked at it.

Your demo is confusing and not very communicative to me. Even after seeing it I couldn't figure out what you were trying to communicate with it.

I think you'd do better to have a video demo showing a specific use case, and explaining better how it works.

Also, Facebook sdk is complaining about an invalid app id.

BTW -- I am on a mac using chrome on the site, if that helps as far as the demo experience.

therealmocker 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Had me interested enough to look at the App store and then I saw a bunch of in-app purchases are required for full functionality. Lost interest at that point. Would rather just pay for an app and not have to worry about unlocking features.
bnb 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Just a quick list:

1. You use the name "snapshots" in the header, yet call it a Snap everywhere else.

2. You don't outright define what a Snap is anywhere on the page. I have to infer what it is from the screenshots and specific, single words you use.

3. Platforms in the header are disjointed. Put both on one side. Information should be modular--the OS X/iOS parts should be close together--so the user doesn't have to look around for it.

debacle 3 hours ago 1 reply      
You're trying to upsell the act of taking a screenshot. From that perspective, you have about thirty seconds of my attention before I close the tab. Your site has a B2B design for a B2C product.
Ask HN: DNS best practices?
7 points by rebootthesystem  4 hours ago   4 comments top 3
skrowl 2 hours ago 1 reply      
DNS is inherently fault tolerant. That's why you can specify more than one NS record (if server A is down, go to server B!) on a domain.

Unfortunately if you use Namecheap's DNS service, you CAN'T specify failover / secondary DNS servers. This has been a known issue for a year & a half that they've failed to address: https://community.namecheap.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5...

ammmir 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Poor man's anycast: Setup a hidden master and push zone updates to multiple slave DNS servers at different providers, which are all registered as your domain's DNS servers (at your registrar).

Actual anycast: Piggy back on a network provider that already announces an anycast network block and "lease" a single IP address. Have lots of time and money? Obtain BGP access, colocate servers, purchase network equipment, etc. and do it all yourself.

A good compromise is to use a DNS provider that offers anycast already, like DNS Made Easy, AWS Route 53, or a number of others at reasonable cost.

otterley 3 hours ago 0 replies      
DDoS protection benefits from an economy of scale (the more network resources you can use to buffer against an adversary, the better). You're better off delegating your service to a third party who's already implemented effective DDoS protection, such as Dynect or UltraDNS.
Is my startup idea solving a real need out there?
3 points by OscarPedroso  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
steeples 1 hour ago 1 reply      
My two cents: Some screenshots of the Dashboard and webapp interface would be nice. I want to sign up - but not knowing what's behind a walled garden login screen is annoying.
mc_hammer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
definitely but you should have a good plan to monetize - at this point an amazon affilliate or a blog of cat pictures can make u 10k/mo so maybe thats a better site. but if you love the idea and the business you should do it for sure :D
Ask HN: How can I remedy scatter brain and information overload?
334 points by coned88  2 days ago   206 comments top 95
antonislav 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Part of the problem is that you don't have time to think deeply about things, because there is to much to think about. The solution is simple: drop almost everything except what is most important to you and allocate plenty of time to for it. (This solution is simple but not easily implemented.)

A good read on this topic is "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr

austenallred 1 day ago 11 replies      
For a long time I felt (and now feel) the same as you. I just wanted to share an experience that, while completely anecdotal, is perhaps atypical, and has been one of the defining experiences of my life.

I got the Internet as a birthday present on my 8th birthday, and pretty much disappeared from normal society for the next few years. The Internet was (and is) fascinating - I could learn anything, interact with people I'd never met with, and, notably, do adult things without anyone doubting me because I was young.

But as I got older, the Internet, and therefore my mind, just got busier. Eventually it was not only random articles and a few chatrooms, but dozens of apps and sites that are programmed to give us a dopamine hit. Being online to me feels like walking around in a casino trying not to gamble.

I don't think I concentrated on one thing for more than 20 minutes for years, and outside of school I didn't have to. So I just convinced myself that school was archaic, skipped as much class as I could, and ended up a mental butterfly. It was working for me.

Except for when I wanted to get stuff done. I probably started learning to program 100 times, but I would get distracted with cat pictures or something, and even though I loved computers more than anything else, I couldn't do much to create with them. I was diagnosed with ADHD, but I didn't really care; I don't think that experience is unique to either me or people who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Then, all of the sudden, I went on a Mormon mission in eastern Ukraine. Two years with 30 minutes of Internet a week (at an Internet club 45 mins away from my apartment). My entire life was structured in a way I never would have structured it in order to get me to concentrate on the things I considered most important for that period of time.

My mind slowed down - in an almost literal sense. I had only finished a couple of books in my entire life before the mission, and on the mission I could easily read the Old Testament for hours on end, paying attention to intricacies of text I never would have realized before.

Then I got home. I jumped on Facebook, and right back into my old habits. My mind was gone for weeks. Not gone in the sense that I wasn't learning anything -- I would pick up tidbits here and there, but I never got deep enough into anything to make any of that learning useful. It terrified me.

So now I spend a lot of time on very strict information diets. I severely limit my time on HN, Reddit, Facebook. I try to keep my reading on a Kindle so the Internet isn't even an option. I would love for someone to create an app (that works) that limits what sites I can use so I can go into "wired in" mode when I'm programming.

In short, don't be afraid to place restrictions on yourself. Let your mind slow down.

hanoz 1 day ago 5 replies      
1. Give up news. Not necessarily Hacker News, although it's an idea, but mainstream newspaper, television, radio etc. news. It's remarkably easy to cut out completely in one fell swoop and can make an enormous difference to your mental real estate. You won't miss it, you won't miss out (the big stuff will find its way to you regardless) and it can actually be an entertaining challenge to be religious about avoiding it in its ambient forms.

2. Beware the rabbit hole. Whenever considering following a tangential link or taking time out from work for some infotainment diversion, fully consider that it carries a risk, which you cannot necessarily assess or control, that it will end up taking you a long way down. Take that first step by all means but in full consideration of the expected (statistically speaking) cost of doing so.

3. Rename your "to read" list "sounded interesting". Come back to it if something on it ever bubbles up from your subconscious as being relevant to the task at hand. Maybe.

4. Meditate, walk, write. These three activities above all others seem most widely recommended as reaping huge rewards in this arena, with a daily dose of around 30 minutes being a typical prescription for each. This is not from any long term personal experience unfortunately, but there's a near certainty at the back of my mind that a regime of these three each day would be transformative for me. A couple of observations on these I can draw from personal experience; the first two activities can be combined; and on the writing, pen and paper is to be recommended, and committing to throw it out at the end of the session is a marvelous cure for writers block.

gravedave 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to have this problem myself, and the main cause, I think, was a lack of direction. Now I have one, and I discard any piece of info that doesn't concern me, instead of trying to read everything because "it may come in handy".

Assange's typical breakfast while in exile? Yeah, whatever. New distributed computing paradigm? Can wait till proven useful. Uber vs. Lyft? Don't care, using neither. Foreign news? Whatever. Someone got harassed by authorities/uber driver/whoever? Nothing I can do about it. Rant about poor customer support? Them's the breaks. "What I learned" articles? Good for them, don't care. Article about some random niche (e.g. most prolific zipper brand)? Will read first paragraph, tops. Inspirational blog post about "the one thing holding you back"? Bleh, probably wrong in my case, we each have our own obstacles.

I still have hobbies and interests, and feed them, but to anything that's not related I don't even give a second look. I ignore everything related to tech I neither currently use nor particularly like, as well as any "lifehack" article (ooh, 0.5s off my showering time!), or an overly opinionated piece (any of these words in the title: incredible, insane, unbelievable, horrible etc. See cracked.com).

Also, nothing by any writers condescending enough to talk about their reader as if they know him/her in their articles ("the reason you...", "you must..", "you know...", "of course, you may..." - no, that may not be the reason I, that may not be what I must, I may or may not know, and of course, maybe I may not).

So the main takeaway, I guess, is to question whether each and every one of those instapaper/pinboard articles really matter to you. I used to be a big hoarder myself, and wondering when I'll get through it all, but I realized I'm doing just fine not doing so. Sure, let them gather up! Have a 100-item, 1000-item, 1000000-item backlog, what of it? You'll have something to do when bored, but until then, leave them be, and don't dare look at how many are there (it doesn't matter, you'll never clear it anyway).

I still hoard BTW, but just because doing so gives me the sense that "I won't be missing anything, I'll get back to it". I won't, of course, but my lizard brain doesn't know that, so shhh!

As for books, just forget about them. Leave that list aside and only look at it when you feel like reading a book and wondering what to pick up next, and never look at how many are left. May be hard at first, but you may eventually learn to just "let go".

Misc techniques I found useful:

Speed reading - read only the first few words of each paragraph, good articles are well-divided in paragraphs, and you can skip the crap. Generally, I skip case studies, unless the subject particularly interests me - the conclusion may be proven flawed in a few years anyway, once a disruptive element will enter the equation - "How could real estate possibly be a bad investment? Look at these case studies showing how reliable an investment it is!".

Shortlist - make a list of interests (not more than 10, including job-related stuff, and be specific. Say "Northbridge", not "IT and stuff..."), discard everything not related.

Next! - if an article keeps repeating the same thing for several paragraphs ("since they're successful", "because they're successful", "have successfully..."), it's a red flag that it probably doesn't have much content, is just filling up a word quota, and may have even given away the conclusion in the title (as a hook for the reader). Skip to the last paragraph, then move on.


Discard the irrelevant, filter your knowledge input, get used to there always being more out there to read, and to being unable to absorb it all. Disregard how much there's left to read ("oh no, 1000 more news items to go!"), and skip over the boring and the trite. Anything that doesn't help you, your family/friends or your career, and anything you cannot do anything about (natural disasters, conflicts in foreign countries - odds are you won't remember these yourself in a couple of years, remember how many other things you'll get to read about until then), you can do without.

spydum 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've had this discussion with many folks, and I've come away with the conclusion: we each have a natural limit to the volume of information we can process in a day.

I personally find that if I read world events/news/major tech sites in the morning, I find my mental capacity a bit strained at work for the rest of the day. If I limit my input in the morning to focused planning of the day, and VERY restricted reading (maybe one article/specific topic, or listen briefly to news radio on the way to work ~25min), I am much more productive and less stressed. It doesn't appear to matter the medium (read/listen/watch).

My theory is, there are only so many topics you can legitimately consume in a day, sort of like a quota system. It should be your primary job to decide in what priority you want to occupy your brain with.

Plenty of other posters mention sort of the same thing: decide what is of VALUE to you, not just interesting. The world is full of interesting information, but if all you do is consume it, what good was it to you? Reserve some time and mental capacity to put that information to use.

lolwutf 1 day ago 1 reply      
My honest answer? I ended up dating someone who was constantly on my case about being forgetful, forgetting names, details, being scatter brained, blah blah blah.

Miraculously, that didn't drive them away and, now, just over a year of dating later, I've noticed I've developed new mental habits to train myself to remember details, in order to avoid the negative reinforcement of my S.O. nagging about my forgetfulness.

And, in practice, these days, I'm quite a bit more effective at identifying what details are relevant, reliably persisting them to memory if needed, and identifying/purging/ignoring irrelevant details, which actually end up getting in the way of storing the important ones (this, of itself, was a problem that, when solved, yielded lots of forward progress for this issue).

Sorry, I'm not sure if this is something you can very effectively optimize for (and maybe shouldn't!... 'seeking partner to help fight scatter brain'), but it's a true story, and one angle, at least. :)

Grepsy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The state you describe sounds very familiar to me. What helped me a great deal was to simply stop drinking coffee.

The first few days after stopping my concentration was completely destroyed, I couldn't focus at all. After about 2 days things started clearing up and I got back my calm and focus.

Most of the people I know consume coffee all day long, every day, and don't seem to be affected in the same way I am. Just thought I'll mention it, in case it might help!

patrickdavey 1 day ago 1 reply      
I cut out reading (24 hour) news this year. I no longer read bbc news, my local papers etc. I figured (and it's true) important things tend to get mentioned (either on HN, or just in conversation etc.)

There's also the idea of the "circle of influence" (i.e. worry / do something with the things you can _actually_ influence, forget about the rest - slightly comes back to the 24 hour news thing for me). Perhaps you might enjoy reading "The 7 Habits of Highly effective people"

Good luck :) You're certainly not alone.

noufalibrahim 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was a time when people gorged. They wisened up and figured out that a certain economy of intake was better for their health.

I think people do the same now with intellectual material. An economy of what you take in is a good thing. It makes you healthier and less worried. There's going to be a lot of stuff that you'll miss but that's okay. Most of it is going to disappear soon given the churn rate of tech. If you do need to indulge, do so in more foundational materials rather than the "library of the week" or "language of the month".

Another thing is to take up a hobby. Something non intellectual. Something physical is good, something artistic is fine too and explore that area on a regular basis - preferably daily. Don't (and this is serious) track all aspects of the hobby as many people do with devices. Stay offline and just lose yourself in the hobby for a while. Don't feel compelled to share every bit of your life social media networks notwithstanding. You should have private compartments that are your own space.

Another useful bit of advice to have a "dry day" once a week. No going online. It's great to get yourself aligned again.

As much as technology has given us, I think it has a dehumanising effect. disconnecting on a regular basis is a good thing. You only gain from it.

rankam 1 day ago 2 replies      
"800 articles I have yet to read...Currently my instapaper account has some 800 articles I have yet to read. Kindle has about 10 books I want to read...pinboard account has about 100 unread article"

The following is just my opinion and I don't mean to be antagonistic. However, IMHO, your issue is that you think that being aware of topics is equivalent to truly understanding those topics. If you were really interested in those 100 unread pinboard articles, you would have read them - you seem to like the idea of knowing about the topics of the articles more than actually understanding the underlying concepts contained in the articles.

Stop trying to "be smart". If you're interested in an article - read it. Right now - try to understand it. If you read it and don't get it, find a writeup on the same topic written by a different person and read that. Continue this until you finally "get it". If you can't take 5-30 minutes out of your day to read something, you're likely not that interested in the topic. Your entire post screams that you don't know what you want to know nor how to manage your time. If you're serious about learning, start learning - and that means not adding another thing to any list until you have crossed off everything of your existing list. Instead of adding things to lists, make an effort to try to check things off of your list that already exists.

At the end of the day, life is all about choices - you can choose to continue to add things to your "to-do" list OR you can choose to start completing the existing tasks on your list.

jhki 2 days ago 4 replies      
I really recommend meditation.

Other than that, you just need to accept that you'll never be able go through it all. And prioritize what's most important to your life. And sometimes just lay it all aside and recharge.

But meditation has really healped me with all of these. And in the end it's quite of a high-quality problem.

felipeerias 1 day ago 0 replies      
I tend to have similar problems, compounded with the fact that I have been working on remote for the most part of the past five years or so. Here are, in no particular order, some of the things that have helped me.

Computer and desk are for work; leisure time should happen somewhere else, using something else. The more time you spend goofing off while in the exact same place where you work, the more likely you are to do it during work hours.

Staring for long hours at a screen can seriously mess up your sleep. If you want to read at night, do it on physical books, an e-book or a reading app with good night-mode (I like Instapaper as well).

When I need to focus and think about a problem, I like to leave the computer aside for a while, take pen and paper, and sketch possible solutions. Depending on your job, it could work for you as well.

Get out of the house. This depends on the person, but I have never really been able to focus when working at home: I always end up going to a cafe or library, as having other people around (even if they are strangers) helps me focus.

When I need to write a long letter or blog post, I often use my iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard. I lay back on a chair/couch, keyboard on my lap and iPad on a table in front of me, out of easy reach. The idea is to get in a comfortable position where the only thing I can do is type.

Finally, one has to accept the fact that it is simply not possible to keep up with the flow of new stuff. We need to prioritise, least we start forgetting the really important things because our minds are too full with cruft, too used to skimming through things without time for reflecting on them.

estrabd 2 days ago 3 replies      
You might be INTP. FInd out and if you are, find a community of them. It helped me.

And to put it succinctly, minimize your information firehoses and reject the notion that you need to keep abreast of everything even if it is not relevant to you.

Purge all of your reading lists and resist building them. If you keep any lists or bookmarks, require that they be things you HAVE read and want to keep as reference for later. I do have a "toread" bookmark folder, but I almost never go back to read things there.

Visit only one or two tech sites a day. For example, I come to HN to the exclusion of almost anything else because it does a good job of showing only relevant things. But I limit this to 3-5 times a week and only when I'm bored. It's a good filter.

Lastly, get a personal project that serves as a good source of challenges. Use it to help decide if you should read about a particular technical topic. You'll find that this serves as a good filter, but at the same time you'll magically seem to read about things relevant to your technical challenges in a surprisingly timely manner.


teekert 1 day ago 2 replies      
Same here.Recently my Moto G broke. It would take 3 weeks to get it fixed and I decided not to have a phone in the mean time. I did this before, people will complain about your poor availability but for me it is only friends, and mostly via Whatsapp. At Work I'm behind my PC mostly and very reachable, I have a desk phone as well so I can call people and I use Skype out...

This experience is always eye opening. It always makes me wonder what the hell I was doing with that smart phone all the time. I just got it back (!after 7 weeks!) and I do 3 days on a battery because I hardly check it. I lost the habbit. I feel much better, when I bike to work I don't have a podcast playing (Twit, No Agenda, yes I miss it, I even burned two No Agendas to a CD for a long car ride, had to dig around the attic for burnable cds :)), I'm not whatsapping during work, not reading long posts on he toilet. I have time to think. Think about what to do, what to learn, how the day will look like. This alleviates a lot of stress, just having a clear and relaxed picture of what your day will look like.

In short: Just stop it. Just Stop overloading your brain. You know exactly what is wrong but you are too weak. Stare out the window, go on walks without your cell phone, quit facebook. The world will not miss you.

I have a very strong feeling that when we stopped being bored, stopped waiting, stopped doing nothing, stopped staring and replaced it with constant consuming of information, we lost something valuable. And indeed, those apps are shortcuts to dopamine release, it is hard to stop. I admit, getting my phone back was like getting a new gadget, but I try to restrain myself from using it. One small trick is to do most thing in the browser, it does not put notifications in your notification area.

By the way, you posted your question here to find an easy way out, to get a tip like: Scratch your left nut for 3 minutes once a day and feel better. But there is no such advice. There is no shortcut. You are going to have to do something radical if you really want change. If you really want change, delete all those accounts, get a dumb phone.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. -Henry David Thoreau

It is hard work.

dyadic 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not at all a silly question, I've experienced the same and, reading the comments, it seems many others have too.

My own problem was being too attracted to novelty, every little bit of information that arrived in front of me was the most important piece of information in the world. But, before I could act on it, the next piece would arrive. This manifested in me having a long lists of books and articles to read, things I wanted to do, things I wanted to learn, and, eventually, dissatisfaction because I couldn't keep up with it all.

I "solved" my own problem by just routing every distraction as it arrived into a look-at-later list. Then when later arrived I'd scan through, decide what was actually worth following up on and just delete the rest. If you do this then you will realise how unimportant most of those distractions were.

Going onwards the key is not to have 10 books and 800 articles and 100 more articles, I'd suggest purging them.Focus on one book, ignore the rest. After you finish that first book then pick one of the rest. If some of the books were just bought on a whim and you don't have the enthusiasm to read then just delete them, it's not a problem, no one will judge you. Delete all of the articles, if they're important enough then you'll see them again.

Afterwards, don't buy any more books until you've finished the ones you have. Notice the difference between not wanting to read a book that you have and wanting to read the one you're thinking about buying. Is it really important? Do you need it now?

With the articles, continue to use Instapaper, it's a great way to avoid the immediate distraction. But only keep a limited amount of things in there. Notice how quickly you add new articles and how quickly you read them. If you're adding faster than you can read then delete the surplus. And if you notice the list becoming unwieldly then delete them all and start again, you won't miss anything, nothing is that important.

The same idea applies to many things, remove the impatience of "now!" and it's easy to view and prioritize them. You'll never be able to do everything, so just do the things that you want most and purge the rest. They're not important, it doesn't matter.

wkmeade2 1 day ago 2 replies      
GTD. GTD = David Allen's book GETTING THINGS DONE which has been mentioned below already. I've lived the splatter-gun-to-focus process that GTD can create, if you stick with GTD. I blog about GTD on and off. Here is my before/after with pictures: http://restartgtd.com/gtd-journey-after/ and, here is my 5 year GTD time lapse of refactored desks and trusted systems: http://restartgtd.com/gtd-time-lapse/
galfarragem 9 hours ago 0 replies      
For some time I used to feel the same as you (and most of people here as I understand). It was not easy but I started an information diet. I never went back.

My information diet (in case of being helpful for somebody):

general news websites and newspapers - None. If it is important you'll know about it by somebody or it will be on HN top 10.

hacker news - Top 10 articles of the last day [1].

specific news (in my case, javascript) - Weekly digest email [2].

twitter - Once a day, no tweeting and following only 10 accounts. Probably still too much.

facebook and email - Once a day. Probably still too much.

skype - Just by appointment.

smartphone - I don't have one. A basic phone is enough (unless I'm traveling; maps and gps are really useful).

tv - Just by appointment (ex: watch a sport event, specific TV show, etc).

To organize myself I use Secretweapon (GTD for evernote) [3] and Folder-system [4].

[1] http://www.daemonology.net/hn-daily/

[2] http://javascriptweekly.com/

[3] http://www.thesecretweapon.org/

[4] https://github.com/we-build-dreams/folder-system

dschiptsov 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are many good answers, like Vipassana, Dzongchen, even Yoga - any of derivatives of Upanishads and Buddha's insights. The problems is that for most people it means nothing, or just a mythology, so they dismiss it with a first mention.

This could be rationalized, because, like it is with every "good idea" in the world, "other people" piled up such mountains of nonsense, and pushed that nonsense using the best manipulative techniques available to humanity, that some people developed an aversion, like for ads. You could think of teachings of various prophets or programming paradigms, economics or even physics and medicine - crowds of idiots ruined and discredited everything.

The essence of most of eastern "spiritual traditions" is remarkably straightforward - "stay alone and use your own brain". It is that simple. The difference is only in wording . Some traditions call it "primordial awareness", some call it "our true nature", others call it "god within" or "That" or "Tao" - it is not important. Like they said "Truth is one (it points back to us - to "our nature") the wise call it by different names".

So, stay alone and use (develop) your own brain. It doesn't mean some radical bullshit like going in a desert. Rather it is more like Kerouac's "On the road", which is about being an observer of what is. Kerouac, by the way, didn't get Buddhism - he mere confused himself with that popular Tibetan folklore, but he was intuitive practitioner.

Another example could be like this - stop reading all that nonsense in internet - blogs, forums, HN and do read one or two great books, like SICP or PAIP or watch a serious course, like CS61A on youtube. These courses and books are for developing your own understanding of fundamental principles. Then you would see what piles of nonsense are 99% of these internet postings.

So, the answer is not go to Vipassana retreat (btw, "retreat" means solitude (to avoid distractions), so all these groups is mere business) or to turn off all the electronic devices. It means to stop paying attention to blah-blah-blah around you (that's why ancient sages went to forests or mountains) and develop yourself.

Basically, it is about using (focus) your own awareness the way children before age of 4-5 do, before their minds would be polluted by piles of words and artificial, wrong concepts they learn from others. This ability of "direct observation and knowledge extraction" which is the very essence of so-called "our human nature" is, roughly, what they worship in Dzongchen.

All the answers are thousands years old.

Oh, by the way, two-three weeks in a solitude easy trekking in Nepal (Annapurna Circuit trek or Jiri-Gokyo trek) makes wonders. You could "realize" how good it is to be alone most of the time.

molszanski 1 day ago 1 reply      
coned88, I am pretty surprised with you situation. You have done a marvelous job on self diagnosing the trouble, but you dont see the solution. In most cases understanding and describing the problem is by far the hardest part. So you are 90% ready to solve the issue.

Disclaimer: you are a smart person, so I will use a couple of thinking shortcuts. Just so you know. You dont want to read a book, dont you? (:First of all, lets handle this:>One of which is directed to what I am actively doing and one below it which seems to process information in a never ending manner.

# Thought flies

Buzzing in your head, right? Those thoughts are like flies. They fly around, sometimes they sit quietly, sometimes they come back and sabotage everything. You cant rest properly, you cant work. It hurts us because of context and task switching costs.

This drains yourbrain mana and we have roughly 3-4hours of highly productive brain activity per day. And there is only way to stop this leak: kill those flies. The best way to handle this is by dumping everything on paper. Even better, on a single page. A3, anyone? Reading books, articles, tasks, meetings with friends, everything. Directed graphs (a form of amind map) IMO works best.

And when you finish it, stuff suddenly becomesmanageable. This will help you to get rid of the big issues. Small ones hurt also.

To get rid of the small ones, you have to have a Single Point of Truth. A place where you store stuff. Your head is not the right place for it. If you are doing some work or enjoying a movie and suddenly a fly-thought comes and distracts you from working or resting, just write it and forget about it.

# IRL techniques

There are some tools/techniques I use to handle 90% of thoughts, issues:

Home related tasks: Wunderlist. Tax documents, shopping lists goes there. If it is not there it doesnt exit.

Work related tasks: Asana. If it is not there, it just doesn't exit. Simple as that.

Online articles: There 2 types. Might be useful later or must read it now. If I just want to store I use Evernote page save or Instapaper and archive. If I want to read it I simply read it or send to Instapaper. Then I just read them in bulk on Kindle.

Email: I use Gmail and Mailbox. First of all Gmail. I really use Archive a lot. If I have read what I have or replied I hit Archive and forget about it. With Mailbox it is even better. If I want to postpone messages I simply snooze them a day or week. Often, they get outdated quickly and then I just archive them. Empty mailbox > empty head. I never a have a thought fly about email. I know that everything I need will be there when I open or want to open it. For any thought fly there is a compartment. Sometimes you just put it on hold and place it on your corkboard and sometimes you just dump it into a giant, searchable archive.

So in a nutshell, you just have to clean your head and move stuff to another storage vehicle. Even the best mind memory is nothing compared to a pen and paper.

# Filtering

The second thing you should think about is filtering. I would recommend reading a small article about Theory of constraints or you can go wild and read (it is a one evening book) The Goal by M. Goldratt. Shrinking a whole book into your case: you cant have more incoming stuff (articles, ideas) than you process. Otherwise, you will have a huge traffic jam in your head. And adding more items is the worst thing you can do.

So you can just cut off the supply of new and just process the old stuff. Or just get rid of that. We are all information hoarders. But there is a secret: a world will not break if we just purge some stuff. Less is more.

Good Luck!

traviswingo 1 day ago 1 reply      
First of all, purge all the articles. They might be a little outdated and redundant now anyways.

But, I can understand and relate exactly to what you're going through. The only difference (imo) is that my over-active mind has actually led to some pretty bad anxiety that I'm just recently being able to cope with and manage. I was at a point about a year ago where there was so much stuff happening around me and so many things I was constantly trying to process (work, school, private projects, potential startup ideas, relationships, family, etc.) that I would end up in the hospital from panic attacks, seemingly from information overload.

What i did to cope was seek therapy - and I actually only did that for about five sessions until something clicked. I've since been able to simply prioritize things in my mind and ignore things I deemed irrelevant. This has helped immensely. Also, I've taken up meditation to really train my brain into not getting so distracted so I can focus on only one thing at a time when I need to.

You're definitely not alone here. We've spent our entire lives consuming information at a level that we're not actually designed for, it'll take some time to train yourself to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.

charlespwd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't remember from whom I read/heard this from, I think it's from Rob Walling in "Start small, stay small", but what resonated with me was the following:

1. Put yourself on an information diet, and

2. Filter out any reading that you cannot turn into an actionable item.

For instance, I have pocket open right now. There's an article named "Cache is the new RAM". I just removed it. Why? Yes. It is interesting. But the information cannot be translated into something of value with respect to what I do.

Believe me, you won't miss out on the things you forgot existed.

j_lev 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Always late to the party, I had the following two thoughts on the walk to work this morning:

1) "shows to watch" - just delete these and reclaim the time. TV shows and movies are in a new golden age, and if they don't continue to get better then you'll still have the "old" ones from now.

2) When I feel like I'm consuming too much media I remind myself of Stephen Covey's bit on Production vs Production Capacity, and that spending too much time on Production Capacity is just as bad as spending too much time on Production. There reaches a point where you have to start applying your knowledge and just getting the work done.

jimfleming 2 days ago 1 reply      
Write it all down.

What do you need to do? What do you want to do? What things don't really matter to you?

Organize it on paper or whatever medium makes sense. I like OneNote and Trello. I've found its one of the easiest ways to remove those thoughts from the back of my mind is to put them someplace actionable and consistent. A stream of consciousness todo list isn't very productive.

With regards to instapaper or readability, either:

a) Treat it as a bookmarking service, not a read-later service. Then reference it when a topic comes of importance to what you wrote down above or you're just bored.

b) Clear out all 800 articles and start over, possibly being more selective or auto-clearing them monthly.

These are both things the brain does naturally, pruning through attention and focus and long-term storage for future reference :)

EDIT: Formatting

Umn55 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Decline of the West

OSWALD SPENGLER BELIEVED that he stood at the cusp of a new wave of historical thinking. Whereas in the past, historians had been content to gather facts, chart broad cultural movements, and take the flow of time as consisting of events that were causally related, Spengler had a vision that made these circumstances not merely existent, but necessary. The "morphology of culture" that Spengler conceived made history not merely a past, but a destiny, for each culture contained within it an essence that inevitably must reveal itself. As he states in his introduction,

Each Culture has its own possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen, decay, and never return. There is not one sculpture, one painting, one mathematics, but many. Each is in its deepest essence different from the others, each limited in duration and self-contained....

Spengler felt that this insight must force historians to approach their work in an entirely different light. For he did not believe that a developing culture borrowed or integrated values or systems from past ones, at least not in their true nature. Each is working out its own unique being, and if, for example, the Greeks borrowed certain mathematical concepts from the Egyptians, it was with an entirely different understanding of what they meant and what they were for. To Spengler, each culture in the world's history had it's own unique "soil" in which to develop and grow. The physical terrain, proximity of neighbors, natural resources, and other factors influence the manner in which the "seed" of the inhabiting people unfolds not only geographically but also socially and economically. This, coupled with the unique temporal period and particular population of each great culture, serves to produce a social organism that is distinct from all others, just as one variety of plant is distinct from the rest.

However, Spengler maintained that the underlying pattern that each followed could be revealed through analysis, especially through studying the art, music, and architecture of each and discovering analogues.

I hope to show that without exception all great creations and forms in religion, art, politics, social life, economy and science appear, fulfill themselves, and die down contemporaneously in all the cultures; that the inner structure of one corresponds strictly with that of all others; that there is not a single phenomenon of deep physiognomic importance in the record of one for which we could not find a counterpart in the record of every other; and that this counterpart is to be found under a characteristic form and in a perfectly definite chronological position.


journeeman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Relax, it's okay. :-) I went through the same thing. I realized that it is neither possible nor important to know a lot of stuff. It is more important and a much more satisfying experience to follow one's own interests and learn what one needs to in the process, as this kind of knowledge stays with you and does not clutter your mind. Knowing stuff is not at all as important as being able to apply logic and ask the right questions in any context.

If possible, try to work on something of interest that will take time, focus and patience to achieve, like a painting or writing poetry or coding something way beyond your current skill level. That would help your mind to calm down and focus. Hope this helps.

lucaspiller 1 day ago 1 reply      
I used to be similar and here is what I do now:

- Avoid the news. 99% is rubbish and the other 1% isn't going to have any effect on you. If anything is important enough you'll hear about it anyway (from talking to people, Facebook, etc). I only read HN and a few Reddits regularly now, but even most of that is rubbish. If you hear about a news topic that is interesting to you, sure go read into it, but you aren't going to gain anything from constantly checking the news 'just in case' you miss something.

- Don't care about TV / movies / books / articles. Nothing you read / watch is going to dramatically change your life, so don't feel you are missing out. Again the good stuff will bubble up to you somehow. (Don't care doesn't mean don't consume, I still take a break to watch shows and movies every so often, but I don't do it religiously). After Google Reader shutdown I didn't bother finding a replacement and I don't feel any less of it now.

- Meditation. There are lots of different branches of meditation, rather than focusing on a single problem the one I do has you focus on thinking about nothing. You just need to observe any thoughts instead of following them, and eventually your mind will be silent. It's leads to greater mindfulness which means being present in the moment rather than thinking about the past or future.

iron_codex 1 day ago 1 reply      
( Continued From Below -> Sorry again for the length)

You have to be tough. You say you want an opinion? You like to communicate with people and discuss things? You want to be well established in your beliefs and thoughts? Start with being well established in your actions and your own thought process. As it seems to hold contradicting opinions to what you believe needs to be focused on or done.

I too was diagnosed with ADHD. I was scattered. I felt lost in an open world of activities as well as information. I tried management techniques, I tried meditation, I tried mini vacations (which are never unjustified by the way). I tried everything. I disappointed with my foundation and control of my life.

I even allowed myself to endorse taking Adderall. Which actually did more harm than good because I soon realized that yes...yes I'm hyper focused, I'm hyper focused installing yet a new program I don't need. I'm hyper focused digesting yet another topic that I only meant to glance at to start with. I'm hyper focused doing the exact same habits and mistakes that I did to start with! How has that happened?

It happens because at the end of the day regardless of the method you try to use to maintain control there is only one truth. You are either doing what you need to do, or you ALLOW yourself to be distracted. Its a binary truth. It's on or off, and guess what? It's all up to YOU. Not a meditational leader, not a friend, not a spouse, and not an article...not even this comment. It will never be up to anyone other than yourself and the development of the ability to take a thought or a physical distraction at the moment it presents itself and eliminating it entirely. Truly saying NO! NO! NO! Repeatedly in your mind louder than the thought fighting for your attention. You've seen that move "Yes! Man" starring Jim Carrey most likely I would say. In the movie a man encounters a program developed to expand his mind and opportunities by simply saying "Yes" to them. How convenient it turned out for him. He went on a romantic adventure filled with spoiling homeless men with material possessions, late night dance clubs under the ambience of exotically non-rhyming music, experienced the spectacle activity called "Running Photography", and fell in love. Take a cue from that movie if you feel much too spread out and instead of allowing your mind to say "Yes! Man" to each new thought and ambition that presents itself force your mind to say "No! Man" without any other option.

Be a man, be a NO man. Be grounded in your actions and thoughts and train that habit and nature. It takes a while but it can and will happen because physiologically as a human you are designed to adapt. You can undo all those years of allowing your mind to say yes to everything the internet and the world had to offer. Realistically it may take just as long in a worst case scenario to un-train those habits and force them out with the mindset you really want. But in the training process you will actually be having an immediate effect from the very first time you say NO in your mind and eliminate an adversary. So that by the time you feel you have sharp and well-honed mindset you set out to achieve you in-directly demolished every other little thing on your life list as a result.

That's all I can offer. Again I say it might not be the optimal method for anyone in the world except myself. However the logic odd's and chance say thats not true, and who knows it just might be for you after all...or you whoever may have stumbled upon this comment 73 clicks later in browsing Hacker News, you who meant to come online strictly for Christmas shopping only as it is last minute once again this year, or you who have no idea how you got here to this final sentence in the first place.


MichaelGG 1 day ago 1 reply      
My mind is the same way inside. It's never quiet, and it's terribly annoying.

To start, minimize intake. When I tried to stay on top of things, I found it weighed me down, limited productivity, and didn't _really_ help. Skimming topics is almost as useful as actually reading them. The benefit there is that you acquire a lot of assorted bits of background info, which might come in handy. But you don't need to deep dive and worry about getting through all the material. Just knowing it's there is enough. And even then, consider limiting the scope.

The whole "being informed, having an opinion, arguing" -- it's really not productive. I look back over all my HN interactions, and the vast majority of it isn't really productive. Your opinions don't matter, and nor do the arguments. If I spent the time I've wasted saying shit on HN doing something useful (even reading fiction books), it'd have been better spent. (Now reading threads I've learned a lot, and getting some of my statements corrected has been useful.) But there must be some low-level psychological drive, since here I am. Mostly it comes from periods of boredom or depression, where I can't get over the initial impulse to work. Eliezer covers it here[1].

When I've taken HN breaks for extended periods of time, and I don't fill in that gap with another "news" source, I start to feel more peaceful, focused, content.

1: http://lesswrong.com/lw/3kv/working_hurts_less_than_procrast...

jib 1 day ago 2 replies      
For me: Pick some system for dealing with stuff. I dont think it much matters which one you do as long as you have one and it isnt based on stuff actively being in your brain. Mine is inbox 0/4Ds whatever you want to call it, with me allowing myself to put tasks for me in there.

Most of those systems focus on aggressive prioritization and removing lists of tasks from your mind and moving them to paper.

Be aggressive about not storing stuff anywhere else. I used to have 10+ items that I semi-actively thought about - now I've reached a point where I have nothing at all loaded as "I must think about this/remember this/do this" - that stuff is all written down.

After that its just practice and repetition. Any time "I should do X" pops up, write it down in your system, or say "thats ok, I have it written down in the system" if you already have.

Doing this isnt all good - there are times that I miss having a long list spinning in the back of my head. It means you need to load the list actively if you're actually going to have discussions about what you are planning to do. Its weird in the start to go "Uh I have no idea, let me check" if you're asked what you're doing today/this week or asked if you have some great ideas about random topic X. But its overall a lot more effective to be focused on whatever you are actually doing rather than what you could be doing.

wallflower 2 days ago 1 reply      
The sad reality is that even if you read a book a week or a book every few days, you would never be able to read the top X books. Life is about choices; you will have to choose.

You already know who you are. Focus on relationships and finding out about who people are.

An old adage: people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Meditation will help you. If you don't already do it - volunteer your time and skills. Especially to teach those who might not be as confident as you.

Good luck!

mmcconnell1618 1 day ago 1 reply      
It sounds like you've already realized you're drinking from a fire hose. There is no possible way to consume all information. It is being generated far faster than you could even hope to consume in many lifetimes.

Since you can't be informed about everything all the time pick a topic or two that you are deeply interested in learning more about (or keeping up to date). Then enjoy the fact that you can tune out the fear stations (CNN, Fox News, etc.) and concentrate on your specialty. Because most other people won't know nearly as much as you about your selected topics you may be perceived as far more informed than others.

I get a weekly business magazine and used to be vigilant about reading every article every week. Now I just skim the headlines and dig into something if it's interesting. I'll even throw out a previous week's magazine if a new one arrives. Anything important enough from the old issue will be in the new one.

The other advice that I can give is to pick the most important item/article and put 100% of your energy to accomplishing your goal by a specific deadline. Then move onto the next goal. My brain is much happier processing in serial instead of parallel.

CodeWriter23 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Shift your focus to being a problem solver, not a retainer of a massive knowledge bank. Then go solve a problem. A singular problem. Lather, rinse, repeat.
karmacondon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently realized that I was taking in a large amount of information every day but retaining very little of it. Between HN and Reddit, I would "learn" dozens of things each day and end up not getting a lot of value out of it. While this is tangential to the problem that you're having, I can definitely empathize.

Two things that I'm trying out now:

1) Write down things that you learn each day and review them weekly. I find this helps me to filter out a lot of the extraneous information and focus in on things that could be useful in the future.

2) Monthly or bi-monthly focus on one specific skill or area of knowledge. Out of all the things I could read/watch/listen to, I try to concentrate on things that relate to one thing that can make me better. Bookmark or save interesting things that you come across, but limit your attention to just books or articles about one topic for the rest of December and January. The other stuff will still be there when you come back to it.

The tl;dr is to write out your goals and come up with a plan to achieve them. Focus on one and set aside time each day to make incremental progress. Everything else will take care of itself.

nrivadeneira 1 day ago 0 replies      
This works really well for me:

1) Meditation in the form of working out: The key here is the meditation. Having regular times that you clear your mind and focus on nothing but what you're doing helps focus in other areas of life. My personal preference is intense exercise with headphones in. The music gives a harmonic rhythm that helps drown out any other thoughts and prevents my mind from wandering. Lifting heavy weights gives me something to focus intensely on and not think about the outside world. It's also extremely important to not bring your phone to the gym or watch the TVs at the gym.

2) Systematically externalizing your thoughts: I find that my thoughts feel more cluttered and disjointed the more I try to keep in my head at once. It's important to find a good and reliable system for organizing and managing everything that might occur in your head on your computer. For example, I use OmniFocus to manage anything that I might want to do ever - small tasks to big long-term goals. I use Pocket to save any reading that I want to do later. I use YNAB to budget and manage my money. I use Evernote for any random notes that I have for myself. I use Google Calendar to schedule any event that might need my attention. By utilizing tools to augment your brain capacity, you can effectively offload a lot of the processing you would normally do. It's important that you use these systems regularly otherwise they'll atrophy and you'll go back to keeping everything in your head.

Houshalter 1 day ago 1 reply      
I worry that the people who really have the answer to this probably aren't going to see this or post a comment.
mbrock 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yes, just purge them. Why not?

I sometimes use my brother's computer and simply close all of his open tabs, and he always thanks me.

You say you're not anxious... But I'd think more about that angle. What you describe sounds like a form of anxiety. You can be anxious and still be able to sleep.

Information doesn't have to be painful or exhausting. Why do you feel like this information is a burden? Why do you hesitate to declare a jubilee and just clear your Instapaper?

How do you relax? What are your habits like?

Maybe you're focusing your problem-solving energy on fixing this info overload problem, when what's actually bothering you is something missing in the other parts of your life?

I know what you're talking about, but I also quite clearly see how I've previously rushed to blame info overload. Actually, my ability to let info just be what it iswithout it causing anxiety or unhappinessseems to depend crucially on other factors.

neltnerb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bare minimum, don't visit news websites of any kind. They're designed to attract clicks and be sensational and make you think it matters. Really, almost no news story has any impact on your life. You would be exactly as happy and able to live your life without knowing anything about the story.

Anything truly important you'll hear about from other people. If you want, get a subscription to the atlantic or something where they have long form articles that are well researched and most importantly... delayed from the events. The delay puts things into a perspective that makes it much easier not to get drawn into feeling a need to "keep up". The story, if it's worth knowing about, will still be a story in a month.

frevd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Building lists for reading later is the same as having all the world's information at hand, which the internet makes very easy. And it is literally unfiltered, too. It's of no real value to collect for later, and sadly, consuming information without need (practical use) might be entertaining, but won't be remembered by your brain, aka waste of time.

A tendency to consume for distraction might indicate a burnout as well. In a certain age or after too much monotonic work this is a common auto-reaction, to keep us sane supposedly. Do something different.

While meditating can be calming, I suggest physical activity, helped me at least, it is amazing what a little running (every day) can do. And in general - ignore all the trash information, there is too much available these days - stick to what you need to achieve goals (provided you have set those already).

iron_codex 1 day ago 1 reply      
Read your questions, skimmed the comments and decided I'd share a technique for life management. A warning, it is a very, very long comment and I apologize sincerely. This matter is just a personally experienced one and I possess strong opinions regarding it.

You do not have to read it, and I cannot make you do so, but I highly suggest that you do. The information I provide may not be for everyone. I understand this. It may not be for you. That's okay. But as for my own and personal journey it has proven itself time to time to the point that I now longer look for a solution as it has proven it's effectiveness time and time again.

The biggest suggestion I can offer you is to consider what my father taught me at a very young age and continues to do so even now in my mid-twenties.

Be a man.

It's as simple as that. What does "Being a man" entail you ask? It means being TOUGH. It means to see a problem and instead of ignoring or denying you accept that you DO have a problem on hand.

That's the first step. The first step is to always take the first step in solving that problem. Let's look at an example, any volunteers? Oh wait, why not you? You browse all these comments that provide you with multiple methods that can "solve" or remedy your problem throughout the day and night, you go to Google to search up on a few of them that stand out. Dissatisfied you come back and browse more ways, then its back to Google....then before you know it you've went 20 links in to 20 different websites over the course of a few days. It is then you have a new problem. You get overwhelmed with the different ways to go about it and all the little details involved with each one. Now we have gone from the pot to the kettle.There is a reason for this. It is because the core problem is not what we expose ourselves to, it is what we allow our minds to waste it's time processing whether directly exposed or as the result of a thought itself. You said you felt like you had a layer in your mind that knows what you need to do, and a separate layer that is absorbing everything around you and filing it away regardless of what you are doing. Therefore the most effective result of any method you try for fixing your issue should have the ultimate result of COMPILING both of those layers into ONE which allows you to truly absorb everything about whatever it is you are doing at that very moment. What I have to do personally will sound a bit odd. I have had to become cold in nature. Allowing my mind to only process the things that I have decided need to be done for the day. I accept no other information. I mentally, and sometimes verbally, say NO to any outside influence that would deter me from what I set out to accomplish. Over time your mind will be honed to the point where you truly do feel a sense of control over the direction of your life. (Disclaimer: I do however allow myself exceptions for the things that directly and sometimes indirectly affect any of the core components in life: Health, Family, Spirituality, and Financials. If a decision I say no to can either really affect one of those in a negative way, or if saying no to taking an unexpected opportunity could truly benefit one of those core components immediately or in the long run I take make that decision on the spot based upon that criteria and importance.)

Let's look at an example situation for how important it is to have a well-developed mental toughness and the ability to say NO.

You wake up, its 8am and you decide its time for you to have your breakfast. You read an article and digest it for a few minutes or even debate it for a few minutes with a companion. We're doing good so far it's been 15 minutes no upsets we are well on our way to getting what needs done today.

Now our mind reflects upon our agenda for the day which we liberally emptied onto paper last night. We look down this list of things we have to do and while we are sitting there suddenly a single word, let's say "word document" if we have to type a paper that day, on the list stands out to us in our mind and triggers a wonderment over something related to that. We think to ourselves "I wonder if Open Office software has greater advantages over Microsoft word?". After pondering about that relation we decide to research it a little. We fire up the laptop to do a little quick research to just satisfy curiosity. Well what do you know, Open Office really has established a rival status in the word processing enterprise. We should give that a spin. So you start the download, run through the install impatiently as you know you need to leave soon to attend to your list of things to do. That's okay Open Office is going to simplify some of the things I do so it's going to save me time in the long run.

After installing the software we fire it up to check it out. Oh pretty neat! We browse the tools, definitely got some handy tools for what I need done. We decide to create a document just for fun and testing. File -> New Document -> Clickety Clack Clickety Clack we've got a short little paragraph about how awesome Open Document is in a matter of minutes. Aha! Thats very nice...hey wait! Lets make an agenda to prettify what I've wrote on paper. Everybody knows a professional looking agenda makes you want to accomplish these things more just as a large sparkling trophy will oust a smiley sticker any day of the week.We realize we need to save some time, so we decide to outsource the document template to one prebuilt and just fill it on in. So back to the file menu it is, then we realize the selection of good agenda templates is much too limited. Ah, I know we will just Google up one real quick. So that we do. About 5 sites and 72 clicks later we have a template to suit our taste. We begin our transfer of the crumply paper agenda to a beautiful little digital one that will soon be on crisp white paper. We spell check in case anyone peaks, punctuate in case anyone cares, and tweak the fonts a bit for readability. We look at the time, its after 11am. We justify that with the fact that having this new and beautiful agenda will help us get things done. We print and admire our fine creation. While we sit that at the table admiring our warm from the printer agenda...a specific word on that paper stands out to us in our mind...and we ponder something related to it...

And down again the rabbit hole do we go, as we lack the self-control and fine-tuned ability of saying NO. We lack being tough enough to say, "You know what maybe open office can help we will have to find out tonight when we have what we set out to do done." Or even cutting the though off at the knees as soon as it appears in our mind and strongly saying "I cannot think about that right now." Letting that thought dissolve through sheer intent. Not accepting or allowing its presence any longer, getting up from that table and walking out that door at 8:30am instead of looking up at 11:30am and realizing that even though we have accomplished something new, and even somewhat related to the things we do on the daily basis we have never advanced any closer to having what needs to be done than when we started 3 hours ago.

Further down the road after this process repeats itself over and over through the years, and we go to clock in at our subpar job of help desk support we pause...and our mind for an instant reflects upon our situation of being nowhere near where we expected to be at such an older age. We process this thought further and remember all of the little moments we had a choice between an option that would have taken us farther then we are now and one that took us in circles but seemed a lot more interesting at that single moment in time, and we are faced with the reality that we chose the interesting circle more than we should have. A lot more.


parley 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some advices in this post are related to restrictive tooling and some are related to adjusting ones attitude. Whereas I used to rely on the former, nowadays I find the latter brings a completely different (and better) kind of calm.

This article [0] is one of the best ways I've ever seen it put, and I think both the culling and surrender parts it mentions are very important - not just one of them.

Inner calm is so important. Like countless others in this post have said: Try meditation, and give it time. It can be an important piece of the puzzle of silencing those voices.

Good luck.

[0] The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/04/21/135508305/the-...

ivanhoe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have the same problem, at some point you stop having time to read all that, you just collect the information for the sake of collecting it. It's actually a kind of hoarding disorder, and in my experience the similar measures can be applied:

- Learn to prioritize important vs useless info

- Impose yourself a limit on time/amount of data daily

- To support the above set some offline time to do something else, something useful and relaxing

- Organize your data and just delete all that you know you will never have time to read

- Learn to accept that you will never know everything, it's impossible, so it's not a big deal if you miss some info. No, really, no big deal at all. Relax :)

g0v 1 day ago 0 replies      
You are your own worst enemy.

[edit] After reading my post again it seems pretty scatter-brained, I guess that's appropriate in some way.

Back in 2011 I decided that I would teach myself all this great computer science stuff and work in information security. Apart from the fact that security in itself is an advanced topic, I had given myself a very long-term goal without realizing it.

It wasn't until a few months of research that I realized how truly enormous computer science as a topic really was. The moment I realized this I remember sitting back in my chair and thinking "fuck". So, I started with fundamentals and went from there. Thus far I've learned enough to hold my own and have the confidence that I can make it in information security once I get there.

I can't tell you how many articles, blog posts, and comment threads I read about being productive. Books I've put on my list to read and am currently reading (about 4 right now) is virtually always growing. It wasn't until the last month or so that I realized a pattern in my behavior; I will focus intensely on one thing for a variable period of time and then lose interest in it.

A few tactics against myself that have proven useful:

- Blocks all websites that waste my time between the hours of 0800-2200.

- Uninstall all games and their respective clients (done this many times).

- Keep work/studies on screen/desk 24/7; the idea here is to have to stare at what you're supposed to be doing right now, as you do not do it.

I still procrastinate terribly and go around my own countermeasures on a regular basis, but I've improved nonetheless. Hang tough buddy, you're only fighting yourself so identify your weaknesses and exploit them.

GHFigs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Change up your metaphor. Sometimes it's best to think of your "stuff" as a stack to go through sequentially, sometimes a library to collect and browse, sometimes transactions to be budgeted on some kind of ledger of your time and attention, etc.

When you find a metaphor that works for you, the "rules" become rather intuitive. Lately I think of my information consumption habit as something of a diet: Eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full. Stock only enough food for your anticipated needs. Favor nutritious foods. When possible, share meals with friends and family.

AndyJPartridge 2 days ago 0 replies      
I could have written that.

I'm in a (some would say privileged but it isn't) situation where money just falls into my bank with little effort by myself. (Shareholdings.)

I am at a total loss as to which of the many "hobbies" I have surrounding me that I should educate myself with each day. I'm learning about 100's of things from Lego lighting projects to basic electronics right now; I don't know where to dabble next.

The way out, I feel, is to sell many things, leave my phone at home, don't connect to WiFi after 8pm at home - and try and just Be.

mihok 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can completely relate, Often I find that I wish I had a minoritory report style HUD in my eyes/brain to allow me to sort, append and edit things I think about. My mind is racing. There is so much information available, so many people sharing things that I want to read, intend to, but never get to. It's hard, and I sympathize with the OP. The best advice I can give is that of all the things I've learned its dont be hard on yourself, take baby steps, and build positive habits... There IS too much information out there, impossible to consume in any normal manner. Dont be afraid to let go of some information (at least for me, it feels like I'm already letting go because of the overload/) A lot of the time, some of these things are more temporary than others. Try to start to focus on the things that are highest priority, most interesting to you, and have the most relevance to you as you are now. If this is troubling, the question becomes more of a priority focus than an overload of information. Otherwise, it just becomes a diligence and habit problem. Along with this is also a problem with letting go with information. The fact is, that its impossible to learn all the things right now. So focus on what is relevant to you, take baby steps, read every chance you get but dont burn yourself out. You can override this information overload.
fsloth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fellow scatter brain here. I don't know if more anecdotal stories will help in any sense but at least we're not alone it seems :)

I also have tons of articles and books I have not read. But - they are all limited to few specific areas. I have this scatter brain mode and focus mode. As I focus on specific things I realize that the trove of stuff I've gathered from the scattery moments are actually really valuable since they usually cover material part of my current brief obsession.

I really did not see this going anywhere five years ago but now I realize I've actually built up a quite a good reference library and accidentally have an improved mental picture where all the bits and pieces fit.

So - my anecdotal advice - I've found it really reassuring to have a few specific goals in form of plausible future stories of self improvement and as I scour the interenets in search of trivia in my scattery moment I've succeeded in building this firewall to suppress my collector instincts. I ask myself - does this plausibly fit anywhere in my current "self improvement stories" - and if they do, I just go wild. But I file them with librarian pedantry and when the whim of focus comes I know where to look.

I've managed to collect plausible study paths in several unrelated fields and actually managed to follow a few of them - at a really slow pace, though.

ghantila 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I had the same problem. I solved it by trimming down to one thing and doing, learning and reading about only that one thing.

Remember: Jack of all trades is a master of none.

You want to do everything or do just one thing and be a master in it?

I'd say, try following Google's Philosophy #2https://www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/philosophy/

davelnewton 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Ten books queued on the Kindle would be a blessing :(
orasis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Meditate every day. Start with 2 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes.

The book, "Mindfulness in Plain English" is a great place to start.

Good luck!

threatofrain 1 day ago 0 replies      
Delete until you have a quantity you can handle. Most articles collected over the web are too piecemeal or disconnected. A bookmarking tool ends up collecting a messy assemblage of to-do's.

Also, a lot of places signal golden information, but they're mostly junk. Nobody will ever admit that they deliver too much junk; everyone wants to say that they are worth your attention.

Pay attention to the gold-per-junk ratio as you read a textbook. As you move to a specific technical sub-Reddit. As you scan Hacker News headlines. As you look up questions on Stack Overflow. For my specific case, that mental exercise has informed me to ditch Reddit, and to only look at Hacker News when filtered to the top 10/20 (because Hacker News is only sometimes good, but majority distraction), and to save no more than a handful of authoritative or systematically comprehensive guides to information per subject matter. I don't read any news at all outside of this.

I also pay attention to what I know. I think about what information has carried over time as a tool in my kit, and how little that is. A lot of information over the web won't make it into your kit. This has guided my decision on what to delete from my life.

JoeAltmaier 1 day ago 0 replies      
Strangely, and Organizer can help. Software or hardware (calendar notebook), just writing stuff down in a timely helps relax. I know what I have to do today; tomorrow will take care of itself. And I have that written down, so I don't have to keep juggling it in my head.

800 articles is just a couple a day for a year. I know, more keep getting added. But some get stale too; some get skimmed and turn out to be not what you wanted. Its not about the number; its about the rate.

I need time to clear my head of ALL the stuff. During commute, or before bed, or brunch on Sunday - as long as I have respite, I can deal.

bbaisley 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've gone through that. What you need to do is some time management techniques. One of the most important is prioritization. It's great that you want to read all those articles, but set a time frame after which they are no longer relevant.At the start of every day make sure you have a list of tasks that you MUST get done. Do those first, nothing else. Aside from getting things done, it will give you a sense of accomplishment. For longer term tasks/projects I right the top 3-5 on post-it notes and put them in an area I see them every day. A constant reminder that those are my priorities.Most of this is based on the Daily Planner technique by Brendan Brushard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLYwz3JUsLwBe aggressive about purging. If it's really important, it will come up again. Also, remember that email is someone else's to do list for you, not your to do list.
codewithcheese 1 day ago 0 replies      
Meditation can be a powerful tool for dealing with information overload and reduce stress. Even just spending a few minutes to consciously be still and clear your mind can help.

Kevin Dewalt explains it better than I can.http://kevindewalt.com/2013/07/28/8-ways-meditation-makes-yo...

weinzierl 1 day ago 0 replies      

    Bastian had shown the lion the inscription on the     reverse side of the Gem. "What do you suppose it     means?" he asked. "'DO WHAT YOU WISH.' That must mean I     can do anything I feel like. Don't you think so?"    All at once Grograman's face looked alarmingly grave,      and his eyes glowed.    "No," he said in his deep, rumbling voice. "It means     that you must do what you really and truly want. And     nothing is more difficult."    "What I really and truly want? What do you mean by     that?"    "It's your own deepest secret and you yourself don't     know it."

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
You are not alone, AFAICT everyone has hit this at one time or another. People like to think, and communications have made it easier than ever to think about a lot of different things. I expect it is the mental equivalent of 'free candy' which is to say that for many people if there is a source of free food nearby that is stocked with lots of things they like, they eat way too much and get fat. When we think too much we get distracted. Thinking about it that way helps lead to a solution, goals, and recognizing your distraction for what it is, treats. [1]

My technique is to set a timer and work on something while that timer is set, and when it goes off I can reward myself with a peek at the distractions. I fool myself into not being tempted by the distractions because the timer will tell me when I can enjoy them, that leaves me as focused as I can be on the problem at hand.

[1] He says while typing on HN while he should be fixing code.

runbun 1 day ago 0 replies      
1) Step away from the Internet for 2 weeks. Limit yourself to 30 minutes a day for essentials.

2) Get a lot more sleep. Sleep is needed to give your brain time to process and organize.

3) During the two weeks, pick a single book and read it. This will help train your mind to concentrate on one task.

You will feel much better after 2 weeks and will then be in a better position to reevaluate your browsing habits.

thibaut_barrere 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of people get trapped into this these days.

You have no commitment to read these articles. They should serve you, not the other way round.

I would personally purge everything and stop using pinboard/instapaper for a while.

Try to unsubcribe to as many newsletters as you can as well, it definitely helps.

corford 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quick practical advice that works for me (a guy with 300+ books on my Amazon wishlist that I'm blatantly never going to buy and read):

Stay off reddit & google news, check HN in the afternoon/evening and not first thing in the morning, save Product Hunt for the weekends and mentally check yourself whenever you land on a wikipedia article so you see the rabbit hole before you jump (you can still jump down it on occasion, just be aware you're doing it). Another commenter mentioned renaming your "to read" list to "sounded interesting" - that's awesome too and something I'm going to go do right now.

hagope 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here are a few things I'm trying and it seems to be working well:- Delete Facebook account- Block time wasters using browser extension (reddit, news sites etc)- Block these sites also on my wifi router- Keep a daily log of all the habits I want to build/break (actually I've hacked a rails app to do this, it only runs on my machine tho :)

I've whitelisted only a few time wasting sites (HN and Twitter) but generally I don't read news articles anymore, I just get news in chunks from Twitter (good enough for me).

snarfy 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I like to be informed.

It sounds like you need to be informed and that you'll be unhappy if you aren't.

Now if you replace 'informed' in the above sentence with anything else (e.g. cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, sex, etc) you'll notice it sounds like an addiction, because it is. Anything that makes you feel good can be addictive, and learning new things feels good.

wonjun 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been trying to find an efficient way to deal with this, and the trick is to decide what the most important thing is at any given moment for you. When you are fairly sure what that is, let's say it's an article or a book, you have to finish what you set out to do initially before another interesting thing gets your attention. The cost of context switching is very high, and you have to really pick out what matters to you. If you can take the time to think about it, there will be things that you want to dive into more depth than others. Once you are able to reach a certain level of expertise on a topic, I find it becomes easier to concentrate on few things (signal) and ignore the rest (noise).
danielflopes 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use a page on a tool like OneNote or Evernote to write every day the notes that pop up on my head, or interesting information I read. Then, during 1hour of the weekend, I grab that page and a) trash the info that actually doesn't matter b) save the info that I think it's useful, in a certain section (Startup ideas; Biz Dev strategies; etc)

I also use Pocket to save articles to read later, but overtime I became more agressive in filtering what to read. If I don't feel to read it, I just trash it. Now it's kind of a habit. (I still do have articles saved in Pocket from several weeks before. But they are MUCH less.)

useful 1 day ago 1 reply      
I rock climb because when you are in fight or flight, you don't think about anything but that next hold. It lets me reset and turn off everything else for a short time. Participating in endurance sports gives me time to think to myself and prioritize/concentrate what I want to do during the rest of the day. A list of daily goals helps when I'm really overloaded.

I also don't watch TV and I've removed most infinite scroll apps from my phone.

hoggle 1 day ago 2 replies      
You should try David Allen's GTD system. I'm pretty angry at myself for not having tried to understand and apply it earlier (had been reading about it for many years before..) it really is a great holistic concept to give structure to your most precious finite resources (brain, time).

Also delete your RSS reader, loopback HN and other "educational" sites to localhost (subscribe to http://www.hndigest.com instead) and try to get back into reading books again.

Good luck!

coliveira 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is my view: there is a lot of information that is unnecessary if you know the basics. Take for example mathematics: if you learn well the basics of analysis, number theory, geometry, and combinatorics, everything else is noise that you can pick up if needed. Learn philosophy and you will see that most new ideas are not really new anyway. Read the classics. These are the basics that give you perspective so that you don't need to read every scrap of "new" information out there, and concentrate only on what you need.
w_t_payne 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't hold myself up as an example to follow, but I tend to go in cycles ... spending some time obsessively skim-reading lots of technical writing (to the detriment of my wife and children) ... then bashing away at work and trying to calm my stress enough to be productive (also to the detriment of my wife and children) ... then spending some time in an exhausted stupor, then waking up and beginning the cycle again. It's not a very organised life, but I do manage to get some things done (although not as much as I should/could/might).
smokel 2 days ago 1 reply      
People may give you the advice to determine what is relevant to you, and then focus on that. Unfortunately, finding out what is important requires wisdom, and this will make you want to read books and papers again.

With respect to this paradoxical situation, I found reading the Tao Te Ching very interesting. It suggests that you should stop focussing on wisdom and simply accept that things will go one way or the other. This might give you some rest.

If taoism is a bridge too far, then you may want to get started in meditation or mindfulness.

sordina 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dedicate set blocks of time to read novels. Only on Sundays for example. It doesn't matter what the book is, as long as it's fiction. It can be trashy but fun stuff like The Davinci Code... In fact, the lighter the better to start with. The important thing is that you read them from start to finish. This resets scatter brain. No joke. Physical books are the best way as well, since a Kindle lets you get distracted too easily. Just grab a book and go to the park.
cyanbane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got to a similar point about 2-3 years ago. Whenever I have a task that I need to focus on I go into what I call "5 minute mode". From :00-:05 of the hour I am free to check email/twitter, call someone back, find articles to mark for reading later, etc (Dopamine hits). Then :06-:59 = "in the zone" time.

This gets harder in an office environment, but usually some headphones, a don't bother sign, and shutting down all communication channels get's it into other people's heads.

m52go 2 days ago 1 reply      
I bet you could be more informed and successful in your career by reading only a small portion of all the content you have picked out.

Anything vital you do miss on will come to you through the social network you could be building instead of reading through all this stuff.

Moreover, reading more won't give you a point of view. It'll only give you others' points of views. Only you can create your own point of view.

bnjs 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a real problem that many people experience and it's only getting bigger. I'm developing a solution for myself and soon opening it to others. You can get in touch with me on Twitter (@bnjs) if you're interested in joining a closed beta.
seekingcharlie 1 day ago 0 replies      
To me, it sounds like your problem is that everything that you have at this very moment, isn't enough. Thus, you feel like you have to look out into the world to fill yourself.

I agree with others, I would definitely recommend you try to meditate several times a week. Start at 15 mins every day & work your way up.

Also, exercise more!

PSeitz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Identify the sites which consume a lot of time without beeing worth the time and then don't visit them anymore. For me it was facebook and all classical news pages.
drawkbox 1 day ago 1 reply      
Rescuetime, notes/documents for offloading and this talk helps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAwDWe7OIF8 John Cleese on Creativity and the Open and Closed mode). Basically you are on Open too much.
meesterdude 1 day ago 1 reply      
there are only so many waking hours in the day. If you want to read articles and books that time has to come from somewhere else, or be doing while you do something already (like use the bathroom).

Also you need a system, that's NOT your brain, that you can trust to hold all this stuff. All the todos and things to watch and priorities and life goals. That way you're free to think about other things. I ended up building a web platform to help me manage it all, but I do not recommend the same path. Still, you may find there is software out there that works for you that can help you offload all this stuff into. GTD is a popular methodology and it has plenty of good tips (like capturing everything) that are hugely beneficial even of themselves.

jmtame 1 day ago 2 replies      
I know that feeling. Check out this book, which talks a lot about focus and discipline: http://www.amazon.com/The-Practicing-Mind-Developing-Discipl...
readme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Keep them, but don't think of it as a reading list. Think of it as a database of things you've created which might be worth reading.

You can't learn a million things at once, you've got to pick a topic and focus.

vijaykumar13 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good observation, I think most of us under the same situation with varying degrees of effect.Time to do meditation more regularly, and start building more self control for Internet and some other things ;-
ramgorur 1 day ago 0 replies      
simple, believe in these facts --

fact 1. sturgeon's law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon%27s_law), [strugeon's law is actually recursive]

fact 2. You can't enjoy all the interesting things in the universe in a given time instance, so if you feel you are missing something let it go.

fact 3. there is no difference between facebook and public toilet.

PSeitz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Identify the sites which are not worth the time and stop browsing them. For me it was facebook and all classical news pages.
ponyous 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have no answer, but I found this really interesting, since we are one of the first generations with this problem. We are yet to determine the best way to solve this, which will probably be very interesting!
merlinsbrain 1 day ago 1 reply      
Turning off my phone between 8pm-8am forces me to look elsewhere for entertainment/reading. I've been using my kindle more and sleeping better.Sometimes the simple things work.
pragone 1 day ago 1 reply      
Writer it all down. Read GTD, getting the required software, and stick to it. Most important step for you would be a complete brain dump.
nether 1 day ago 1 reply      
Meditate, go on 5-10 hour hikes, and put down the screens.
sysk 2 days ago 2 replies      
Perhaps this could be of some inspiration? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dudeism
brador 1 day ago 0 replies      
Imagine what your life would be like if you never saved those 800 articles. Feel happier? Go delete them.
andybak 1 day ago 0 replies      
Go to your doctor and ask to be tested for undiagnosed Adult ADHD.
gpanger 1 day ago 1 reply      
Meditate every day. I like the Calm app.
w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah, I'm the same. It stresses me the hell out.
dunk010 1 day ago 1 reply      
By stopping reading Hacker News.
bra-ket 1 day ago 1 reply      
cancel your Internet account for good and return the modem
dm03514 1 day ago 1 reply      
jqm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Decide what the ultimate purpose is, then prune accordingly.You don't need to, and you can't, know or do everything. So in order to succeed, you need focus. How can you get it?

Accept. Don't try to control. Observe without judgement. (But always observe). That is to say, stay aware of your thoughts and feelings as you compute. Stay aware of your body, your breath. Check in on yourself as much as you can. How are you feeling? What excites you? What do you really want to do?

By taking this attitude you see begin to see the instincts that lead to action. When you begin to understand connections, you will gain a degree of control.

curiously 1 day ago 1 reply      
it is overloading your brain because they are not essential, need to know information that you are forcing down your own throat.

If the information is not urgent enough for you to know at that moment then it's not worth it. As time passes so does the value of the information.

This is entirely controllable and one must stop falling to the prey of information greed.

websurfshop 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's my advice if you want peace.

"And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Eccl. 12:12-14

On the pronunciation of IIFE
2 points by mikesigs  2 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: Who's using AWS Lambda and what are you using it for?
8 points by Stoo  6 hours ago   1 comment top
trcollinson 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a workflow within an application that includes image processing in various ways (resize, artifact reduction, region of interest, facial placement, person recognition). I have been doing this using a queueing system previously and some custom workflow, the process is actually rather complicated in order to make it cost effective. I have a new solution using Lambda instead of my previous process. So far it's working quite well.
Ask HN: What project management software/service are you using?
3 points by 1986v  7 hours ago   3 comments top 3
n0body 6 hours ago 0 replies      
at $work we're using redmine, it's not great, but it works and does 99% of everything we need.

for personal projects, i use trac, because it's easy to setup and works, although again it's not great. especially so if there's a team of people using it instead of 1.

my personal favourite would be bugzilla, although it's a pita to set up, and doesn't have repo integration (or didn't last time i looked) which is a shame.

i've also used basecamp before, was not a fan.

the thing to remember is, all project management stuff sucks, so find something that does most of what you want and work around the bits it doesn't do

junto 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I personally use Trello. Two of my clients use JIRA.

I actually like both. They both are targeted at the Agile crowd, but you can use them however you want, as far as I can see.

sergiotapia 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Taiga. It has everything JIRA has and is 100% free.
Ask HN: Why do Hackers always (it seems) go after Sony?
9 points by desouzt  7 hours ago   4 comments top 3
junto 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ok, here are just two items of recent history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootki... and https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/11/sonys_drm_roo...

  In the days after the rootkits were exposed, Thomas Hesse, president of  Sony's global digital business, was quoted on NPR as saying, "Users don't  know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"

  Credit card data was encrypted, but Sony admitted that other user information  was not encrypted at the time of the intrusion.[44][58] The Daily Telegraph  reported that "If the provider stores passwords unencrypted, then it's very  easy for somebody else  not just an external attacker, but members of staff  or contractors working on Sony's site  to get access and discover those passwords,  potentially using them for nefarious means."[59] On May 2, Sony clarified the   "unencrypted" status of users' passwords, stating that:[60]  While the passwords that were stored were not encrypted, they were transformed  using a cryptographic hash function. There is a difference between these two types  of security measures which is why we said the passwords had not been encrypted.   But I want to be very clear that the passwords were not stored in our database in   cleartext form.
Bottom line is that Sony haven't helped themselves in the last few years. Whilst they build pretty good hardware, building software systems (especially to support things like the Playstation) isn't their fort. Worse is that when they do screw up, they are arrogant and disrespectful to their customers.

Their arrogance has irked a generation of hackers and script kiddies, who see Sony as a carte blanche target. The recent hack shows both their arrogance and negligent attitude to the security of their customer and private company data. Investors should be punishing Sony and calling for the heads of the board.

debacle 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Hackers are always going after everyone. A lot of the vulnerability detection is automated, so really if you are vulnerable it's only a matter of time before you are exploited, and if you are a juicy target that timeframe is probably hours, not days.

Sony just seems to have more high-profile cases than others. Media companies tend to have a pretty devil-may-care relationship with security, and Sony has also done a few things in the past to earn people's ire.

fiberloptic 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If you read the news, others have been hacked too like Home Depot, Target, etc.

Perhaps it is you focusing on Sony that is the issue, since others are getting hacked as well?

Why does PayPal have so many bugs and security issues?
6 points by marco1  1 day ago   5 comments top 4
debacle 6 hours ago 0 replies      
* PayPal is the most comprehensive payment integration solution on the Internet. That brings a lot of complexity.

* They also make money on relatively low fees. That requires good cost controls.

* They're no longer a prestigious company to work at. They pay a bit higher than standard because it's harder to recruit talent.

* Once you get to a certain size and complexity, especially in the financial world, changing things becomes terrifying.

MalcolmDiggs 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I've wondered this myself.

My hunch is that an unusually large amount of the their talent/engineering resources are tied up fighting fraud and abuse...leaving a skeleton crew to do all things front-end.

Again, just a hunch though.

yuhong 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember the days when David Marcus was the CEO, then he left the company, and now they are finally planning a break-up from eBay.
striking 1 day ago 1 reply      
Two reasons, to me:

* "Move fast and break things" mentality that made it big is now making it bad

* Peter Thiel isn't as much of a genius as he thinks he is (although he is pretty smart in some respects, sometimes he's completely wrong, akin to some modern-day Aristotle) and the attitude of the founders of a company creates the culture as it grows

I Don't Agree That There Really Is a Tech Worker Shortage
49 points by MichaelCrawford  1 day ago   137 comments top 18
dalke 1 day ago 4 replies      
If you do an HN search for "shortage" you'll see many links, to things like:

http://math-blog.com/2014/03/10/stem-shortage-claims-and-fac... - which points out that it's not "difficult for employers and potential employees", giving an example of how Facebook decided to not employ the people who became the founders of WhatsApp, then paid $19 billion for their company a few years later.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-myth... - titled "The Myth of America's Tech-Talent Shortage: And what it should mean for immigration reform."

If you want the economic details, you might look at at http://www.epi.org/files/2013/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-... , which (among many things) points out that two people get a STEM degree for each STEM job available.

The general conclusion is that there is no shortage, and that complaints by various large businesses about a lack of trained people is a strategy to pay lower wages and spend less on training. This has been known for over a decade. Eg, http://www.cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/articles/2005/back130... concludes """Overwhelmingly, the H-1B program is used to import workers at the very bottom of the wage scale. The wide gap between wages for U.S. workers and H-1B workers helps explain why industry demand for H-1B workers is so high and why the annual visa quotas are being exhausted.

Many in industry have called for an increase in the number of H-1B visas, citing the early exhaustion of the cap as reflective of widespread need for skilled workers. However, the fact that very few H-1B workers are earning salaries as high as U.S. workers in the same profession would seem to refute that claim, and should make lawmakers wary of increasing the H-1B quota. The exhaustion of the H-1B quota may reflect employers' interest in lowering labor costs or widespread fraud rather than an insufficient number of visas."""

HN comments include those of https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8656028 , https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7372574 , https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3689383 , https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5804016 and more .. again, search HN for "shortage".

ryanackley 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here is an alternate point of view. I recently went through the process of hiring a programmer. I probably interviewed 30 candidates. All of them had the required knowledge and experience listed on their CV's. Guess how many could write a simple program in the language of their choice? Exactly 3.

Yes, there are many people with the right credentials. In my own personal experience, many of these people can't do the work. They either don't really enjoy what they do or they simply aren't smart enough. They got into this field because of the money.

Htsthbjig 1 day ago 4 replies      
"I know lots of engineers who are unable to find work."

I don't. Probably your definition of "engineer" is different from mine.

"Another problem is that us engineers are expected to have real-world, paid experience in whatever technology the hiring company uses"

Generalization and obviously not true. I have a company, I don't care about paid experience, in fact we hired lots of people from open source projects, or directly from University with no experience at all.

"At one time, a college degree and a demonstrable grasp of computing technology was all one needed. Companies were happy to train. No longer."

During the dotcom bubble anyone that could click a button was hired. But it was a bubble.

The better demonstration of grasping computing technology is actually having done something with a computer.

When computers filled a room it was impossible for people to code on their own. Now you could find people with college degree AND experience writing software for others or for their own.

"yet one cannot get a job writing Swift code, unless one already has PAID Swift experience on one's resume."

This is your belief not reality.

"It's not enough to just read a book."

Of course. Programming is not about reading books. The better programmer is not the one who reads the most books.

In fact, I consider books obsolete. Everybody in my company has free Lynda accounts.

bigtimber 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is only a shortage of cheap / entry level tech workers. There are plenty of experienced and over-qualified tech workers, but most short-sighted employers don't value older employees.
MichaelCrawford 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I seem to have struck a chord with this post. A lot more comments than I expected, and sixty points added to my karma.

Thank you for helping me reach an important decision. For some time now I've been puzzling over the idea of offering a consulting service in which I would screen resumes for a fee. After a chat with a friend who is a manager with an eCommerce startup, I've decided to pursue it.

I didn't have a clue as to how to get started. He suggested I do it for free for a little while, to build my reputation. That's what I'm going to do.

I expect it would help to register a domain for this specific service, rather than use the rather eccentric website I presently have. I don't know yet what the domain will be. I need to catch some ZZZs, so I'll deal with it tomorrow.

I mentioned this in one of my comments below. Someone pointed out that background check services already do this. Actually I would be quite different from a background check, in that I would screen resumes _before_ the interviews, so you don't have to interview clearly unqualified candidates.

Also I'd be looking into their technical qualifications, not their criminal record or record histories.

This is just what headhunters are supposed to do. It's not that they couldn't screen resumes - but they don't.

-- Mike

option_greek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Assuming there is no tech shortage and companies are indeed looking for cheaper labor, how do we explain these offers (It's placement season in India and its raining offers). These seem to be well above the average pay for software developers (considering they are under graduates fresh out of college). Of course all have to first participate in the H1B lottery for them to enter US.




kellyfj 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been in a hiring manager role (tech lead / manager) for almost 14 years and this has always been true: Lots of knowledge out there - but the ability to write a basic function cleanly and correctly is rare.

There are tons of people with credentials and good looking resumes but my experience is that less than 1 in 5 of them can code a Fibonacci function let alone FizzBuzz. I don't care if it's iterative or recursive as long as it's right.

I think the core issue is the CS courses emphasize knowledge WAY TOO MUCH over experience of writing tons of code on a team. In addition, resumes have WAY too much noise compared to signal - that's why people's networks (and tools like GitHub) are so important.

I've also been in organizations where teams hired people I passed on (they did multiple interviews in our org) and those that did not pass the Fibonacci test not only bombed in their organizations but also hired MORE bad programmers and they all got RIFfed. Those that pass the Fibonacci test do pretty darn good on my teams.

Amazing how a simple programming test can be such a solid predictor . . .

I also screen for other things - knowledge, good communication skills and if they have a good sense of their own abilities. It also blows my mind how super confident kids walk in expecting to nail an interview - but again can't code a simple function to save their lives.

But Fibonacci continues to blow my mind - so simple and yet so hard. Just add two variables in a loop . . .

BTW I have found in general women are generally better programmers than men as a percentage of those interviewed.

netcan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Shortage is a tricky political term. Reality doesn't work like that. X positions and Y candidates. It depends on the quality of candidates and salary. Better programmers, and companies can hire more. Higher salaries and more people will become programmers.

That said, 2 counter points.

First point is the speed the profession has been expanding. Programming is and has been (barring the dotcom bubble burst) an area of fast growing demand. In many tech fields that aren't so fast growing, "experienced" means 10+ years. There are more working professionals with over 20 years experience than those under 5. The distribution of experience levels you will find among mining engineers is the normal one, not the one you find among software engineers where 36 year olds with 15 years of experience are the grizzled vets. Technical jobs for people with under 2-3 experience is always tricky.

Google, Facebook, etc are new companies. They're full of software developers. 10-25 years ago they didn't exists and neither did those jobs. Its hard to believe that in this environment there wouldn't be a shortage.

Second point is that the problems you mention are a cost of doing business, part of reality. Whether the shortage could theoretically be solved by improved job-candidate matching is not really relevant unless it can be solved practically. Same for on-the-job training. A company that needs to hire really fast, is small, etc. can't train on the job very easily. On the job training is also less compatible with the shorter cycles in today's world. People average shorter stints at companies. The "shortage" makes job hopping more viable and beneficial. Startups have very short horizons for which they are trying to solve problems. Etc.

If you take some of the relatively established and unchanging professions like Law or medicine, they have a long and well established way of apprenticing young professionals. That gets built up over generations when things stay the same. In a fast paced world like software, it's not as easy.

Anyway my point is that saying there is not shortage because it could theoretically be relived by optimisations that there is very little way of doing... it's semantics.

skrebbel 1 day ago 2 replies      
Job markets, even in tech, are quite tied to geography. From which area and perspective are you writing this? Knowing might help us discuss this subject better.

I live in the Netherlands, where programmer salaries are way lower than in silicon valley, but I don't know of a single half-competent programmer without a job.

All the hiring managers are complaining here just as you describe, but the net effect is that everybody gets hired. Even the mediocre folks (note: I'm not referring to skill as in "decades of Swift experience" but "competent engineer, quick learner").

Maybe the exploded salaries of the bay area take away any financial space an employer might have for on-the-job training? People still have to create more value than they cost.

(note, I hope this is not the case, because I think programmers are grossly underpaid here in the Netherlands)

computerjunkie 1 day ago 2 replies      
>>> when a new technology is introduced, one is _immediately_ required to know about it before getting a job where that technology will be used.

Well Said. I too am in a similar position you have explained. I have a Computer Science college degree (graduated in November) and I have been applying to junior/graduate level jobs that have inflated expectations of what a regular graduate should know (especially technologies).

All these claims of tech worker shortages recruiters talk about is hard to believe. I think there is a communication breakdown with companies and education centers breakdowns when it comes recruitment.

lafar6502 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm afraid there's a shortage of good programmers, with proper education in computer science, understanding of how the OS and programs interact, knowing how to use at least one programming language proficiently, fluent in algorithms and data structures - i mean people who know their tools and know what they're doing. Instead we've got lots of excited, half-educated but enthusiastic ctrl-c/ctrl-v specialists, doing whatever they think is right/necessary and not even realizing how broken their products are (or how much better they could be if their authors were a bit more knowledgeable)
bobosha 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing that continues to amaze me about the people claiming there is no tech worker shortage, their typical argument - "if only the tech industry paid enough...."

That is a self-contradictory proposition if ever there is one. What is that this supposed talented programmer wannabes do, if they are in a position not to take a 100K+ salary?

More importantly, if indeed there is such talent and you know how to run a company profitably paying this supposed talent the salary you assume...then why aren't you doing it?

You have a perfect arbitrage opportunity, and by your own admission - FB, Google, MS etc. are all "greedy" and only care about their bottom-line. So if you can demonstrate that hiring "American" programmers at 200K+ salaries and deliver high-quality code (better than those crappy Indian outfits), all the luck to you!

Why aren't you all doing it? Be the change you want.

alexggordon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is it that there either has to be a shortage or abundance or tech workers? I think as of now the stream of Tech workers is adequately filling seats.

Tech is one of those fields that ends up a lot like dating. You know there's people out there that could re-write your whole system overnight--the "rockstars". Because of this I get the feeling that people are turning down tons of job applications just because they feel the applicants aren't "rockstar-y" enough.

I think the experience mentioned here also holds true. Companies want people that can get the ball rolling, but also underestimate how much training can help. At my current company, I'm probably at a training, that is beneficial to myself, at least once a week. I know I'm an outlier, but tying this all together, I think hiring managers are to the point where they're expecting too much from applicants, while undershooting the ability of even the mediocre applicants.

mabbo 1 day ago 3 replies      
Not all tech workers are equal.

My company does not care what language you know, or technology you use- we want people who are smart, capable of working with any technology. And we want the very best of those people, without lowering the quality bar for the sake of having people in seats.

We will let people go while we also are hiring for open positions on the same team if we realize the person isn't s good fit after all. I have little job security, but I work with only fantastic people. It's a deal I'm happy with. The pay is nice, and I never feel like the smartest in the room.

There are lots of companies like this. We have to complete with them for those top tier people. And we frequently find those good people outside of America.

The result? They often come work in our non-USA offices. That's one less job that would have existed in America, with the salary of it being taxed in America. It's a loss for the USA.

MichaelCrawford 1 day ago 0 replies      
From time to time I'll see a job posted on Craigslist or the like that says "We only want applicants with Computer Science degrees from Berkeley, MIT or Stanford".

I myself have a Physics degree from the University of California Santa Cruz - "Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp".

Despite that, I quite commonly find that I'm a better, or more productive coder than colleagues with CS degrees from those schools.

Just because you have a degree, it doesn't mean that you have a clue.

And just because your degree is from a school that no one has ever heard of, it doesn't mean that you're ignorant.

pjmlp 1 day ago 2 replies      
Fully agree.

Recently discussing this issue among friends, not one of them could get hired for specific positions, even though they knew the required technologies.

All got the same excuse, the said technologies were being used in side projects, not on their main job.

ninjakeyboard 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is no shortage of work. There is a drought of talented engineers though. Most of them are terrible.
freshflowers 1 day ago 1 reply      
> At one time, a college degree and a demonstrable grasp of computing technology was all one needed.

Yep, and that turned out to be a fucking disaster. So we learned how to filter for programming skills, and the results were utterly depressing. The vast majority of those "engineers who are unable to find work" couldn't code their way out of a paper bag.

That applies to the majority of applicants unless we start filtering for actual proven experience. Trying to find someone inexperienced who's worth investing in training is a truly depressing exercise most smaller companies really can't afford.

Is it really that much to ask that an unemployed engineer who wants a job coding in language X makes a bit of an effort to learn the language by themselves? Employers really don't expect 'paid' experience in something that's brand new, but what they do expect is self-motivation. If you're only willing to learn X when your boss tells you, you're either going to be a pain to work with or you're covering up for your lack of skill.

You only learn a language really well over years. That's your paid on-the-job-training. All most hiring managers look for is some sign of skill and motivation.

Not to mention the reality that the "cult of new", as we see it on HN and in the start-up scene really fucks over most non-startup employers. Most developers don't stick with any company for more than two or three years because they want green field projects in the latest sexy language and framework, not maintain "boring legacy code" (we're talking code no more than two years old...) in a stack that's just been declared harmful, crap or whatever by the HN hipster engineering in-crowd.

So you train someone, invest time in someone, allow them to learn from costly mistakes on real world projects, and just when they are at the peek of their knowledge and productivity, they fuck off again. Regardless of how well they get paid and treated.

We bitch a lot about employers not investing in training, but the flip side is that we have actively contributed to a culture of zero loyalty.

As far as I can tell, there is a real scarcity of actually talented engineers, but employees and employers are stuck in some destructive loop that just makes the problem a thousand times worse.

Ask HN: Could a completely free web service without ads generate any revenue?
13 points by kiraken  10 hours ago   21 comments top 9
bejuizb123 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I was actually wondering about something similar to this for a different venture (say something like Uber).

What we need to have is a constant source of income (through donations or other mechanisms). The expenditure will be of two types, Capex and Opex. Capex costs can be covered by the donations, as for Opex, the primary issue is of support and maintenance. For this, my thought was to use either something like MTurk for non-tech activities and something along the lines of open source software development for tech activities.

I think, the world may need such a kind of open model for businesses, a self-sustaining entity.

kowdermeister 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask them to donate something (up to them) from their first salary if the manage to find a job through your platform.
lovelearning 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Not sure what type of content you have in mind, but you could insert relevant affiliate links in the content. Just because people are unemployed does not mean they don't buy educational books, educational courses, training books, motivational books, tools, electronics and many other things online.
z1mm32m4n 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It's worth noting that Duolingo is an example of a free web service without ads that generates a profit. In their case, they've crowdsourced the process of translating actual web pages while teaching people new languages.

Depending on the nature of your site, perhaps you could take advantage of a similar crowdsourcing scenario?

mooktakim 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Depending on what you build, you could get away with using free tier on a lot of hosting solutions, like Heroku.

In the past I've used Heroku for some charity websites, and they've been running well for years. If you do it well (caching etc), you could handle a lot of traffic with the free tier.

agiledevers 7 hours ago 0 replies      
We were investigating this too. We found a very interesting way by using client resources. The JavaScript of the client making heavy operations for other people (ie computing proof of work for bitcoins or similar).
pestaa 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Accept donations. State your costs transparently. Contact a lawyer to get the paperwork done.
joeclark77 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There is another side to your market -- the job board whose customers are not the unemployed but rather the companies who want to hire them. You could charge companies or recruitment agencies for "premium listings" while allowing them to post basic want ads for free.

The other way to profit, I suppose, is to use the knowledge and data gained from the app and leverage it into some kind of personal income. For example, maybe you run an employment agency of your own, and draw on the site's database for leads. The app continues to be free, and you are just cherry picking the best from it.

adultSwim 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Get a grant
Ask HN: How's working in the Silicon Valley today?
30 points by askee  1 day ago   22 comments top 7
silverpikezero 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Longtime lurker, never posted on HN before. I am a mid-career software engineer working for a hardware company.

I don't live in the Palo Alto area and SF itself, because the cost of living is incredibly high. They are nice places for sure, and the social scenes there are more developed. You will have to pay to play there though.

Housing is very expensive, rents are very expensive. I see it as a tax on job portability. The important upside is that SV is the center of the universe for interesting computer science work. I have lived in several other places, and if you want to prioritize your career, and I am certain SV is the place to do it.

I am what is probably now considered "old-skool" (e.g. C++, semiconductors). There are still many opportunities in this space. Mail email me at ynka8+z1i2opfxuvoo@sharklasers.com if you are interested in talking about a job opportunity; the startup I work for is hiring.

I don't like the typical SV startup culture, I find it pretentious and too youthful. The HBO series Silicon Valley is more accurate I think than the general public realizes. That's a bit ironic since I work for a startup right now. :P I find that older engineers make much better decisions, and I'm pleased to be able to work with late-career heavy-hitters in my current company. It makes for a much more stable work environment, and our biz-dev prospects are more realistic than the social media rocket-ship blastoff overnight model.

nmjohn 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I would say first, it depends on your personal life.

Depending on where you're coming from, moving a family out here may be a challenge. If it's just you I absolutely would recommend it, if not I still would recommend it, but there just are far more considerations to think about.

How many hours you'd work tends to have a wide range. All the current responses suggest insane hours are guaranteed. I probably work between 40-50 hours a week. The week before our last big feature release it was probably 60 or so, but that is the exception not the rule. This is going to depend entirely on the stage of the company you work for and the company itself.

As for salary, I make about 60-70% more than I would have if I stayed in the midwest. I also would be making 30% more if I was working for a big company as opposed to a startup, though with substantially less equity. That being said, I pay 2-2.5x for my apartment than I would have paid back home. However I can walk to work and have my groceries delivered - thus don't have a car payment, car insurance, etc, so it is somewhat evened out. At the end of the day, I make enough to have plenty to live on.

The biggest thing for me though is the atmosphere, not just where I work, but in general - tech is the norm and walking down the street (at least in soma) I frequently hear people talking about database performance, or whether AWS is worth the price, or about a new library being released that makes doing X easier. I love it - for the first time in my life I'm surrounded by people who are as passionate (and often even more so) about the same things I am, it's something I don't think you can really get anywhere else. And is absolutely worth whatever the difference between what my net income after expenses is here as opposed to the midwest.

anw 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I've lived in a few major metro areas, so I'll take a shot at helping you. I'm interested in seeing if anybody else has run into these things happening to them, as well.

Coming from a background in CS, you have a definite advantage. There are a lot of tech companies out here, but I would not limit myself to that if I were you. There are plenty of opportunities where tech is an overlap with the actual focus of a company. Try not to get stuck in a particular mindset about what job you'll do, especially if you are just finishing your PhD and stepping into the "real world".

The Valley (I'm including all of the SF Bay Area, as well), is a great place, with a lot to offer. However, it can be a hard and cold place, especially if you don't know anybody out here.

Unless you're traveling along El Camino Real, or going into the center of cities, traveling is a pain. Services such as the Caltrain have limited stops at certain locations, and stop running at 10:30pm or midnight (depending on the direction). Muni can be packed and pass by usual stops if there isn't enough room (ususally will only happen around Chinatown and Northbeach areas). And BART is... a topic for another day.

This has given rise to Uber and Lyft providing a great convenience, but one in which you pay for. Sometimes having excessive multipliers on the usual fare you're charged. Taking an Uber in SF during a Giant's game day will see a spike in fare, for example.

The culture is its own thing. Having lived in Chicago and NYC, I've had my share of interaction with enough people. People in the valley are very friendly and very helpfulup front. Rather than not talking to you, or brushing you off, people will act very excited to meet you and talk with you. However, do not take this as them having an actual interest in you, or anything about you. This lone difference had made it difficult for me to actually understand who is a friend, and who is not out here.

Related to that, the dating scene out here is the same, from my experience. A lot of girls I've dated out here are looking for a guy who has a particular "thing". Whether that be he teaches yoga, has a dog, does art in the park, something they can tell their friends about. In NYC my experience has been a bit better. Girls seemed to be more attracted to me based on my personality, and "charm" for lack of a better word. I didn't feel the need to have a "thing" going on, just me being me.

Housing and where you live greatly alter your enjoyment. This also depends on what you want to do.

If you're looking for night life, you should definitely live in SF, Palo Alto, or San Jose. Anywhere else limits you to particular metros, or how much money you're willing to shell out for an Uber. There is a lot going on at any time in those 3 places, that finding groups, meetups, events, will be a great place to socialize.

Housing is expensive. Very expensive. But it's not terrible. A lot of companies take into consideration housing, so your paycheck will reflect being able to afford to live.

Your paycheck might look like a lot at $120,000, but it's not. Between rent, taxes, food, travel, you'll be living well, but not as well as some might think.

It's a good place to live, especially if you're in your 20's and want to further your career, and love technology. Outside of that, it's just another place with its own quirks.

Cuyacap 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I moved out to Silicon Valley a little over two years ago. My experience with the area has had its positives and negatives, but it has mostly been negative.

I worked in QA for a little over a year at a startup in Mountain View. Firstly, the hours were horrible. I was consistently working twelve hours a day during the week and at least four hours a day one day per weekend. This was finally pared back after I and another member of the QA team started to complain about the hours. Neither the pay nor the equity I received was really fair for the amount of work I put in.

Furthermore, whenever I attempted to advance my skills beyond the QA position, I was blocked again and again. I was only allowed to commit code after I got fed up with an issue, fixed it myself, and basically begged a developer to look at it. It was a two-line fix; however, most of the developers assumed I couldn't write code properly simply because I didn't have a CS background.

Lastly, it was the management layer directly above that finally made me decide to quit. My manager and one of the developers I worked with consistently had this annoying feud going on between them. I was always stuck in the middle of it. All I wanted to do was to complete my job and go home without a headache. Towards the end, that became impossible.

So, if you want to work long hours for horrible compensation, to be pigeonholed into a position and never be allowed to grow your skills, and to be surrounded by people who cannot seem to grow up, then come to Silicon Valley and try your hand at being part of something that may or may not become the next greatest company.

alain94040 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's just say Silicon Valley has the most opportunities, which means that if you don't like your current job (bad boss, long hours), you can find something better quite easily.
sfbayguy 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Life is hell as it is too expensive and traffic is bad. Eighty hours is minimal if you work for a small shop. Pay is subjective..it is all about sucking up rather than merit.

Valley has been long dead.

DanielBMarkham 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've worked all over the U.S., and oddly enough, am now only working in SV. Been here about 3 months.

Single? Young? Do it in a heartbeat. Get as much experience doing various things as you can. In the right spot, you can't beat the experience here. I'll also second what the others said about culture: go walking around downtown Mountain View or Palo Alto sometime and just listen to the chit-chat. Very cool stuff.

Older? Married with kids? Heck if I'd want to do it. Those same really cool 20-something masters-of-the-universe are probably also a major pain to have to deal with. Yeah, it'd be cool to bump into somebody in an elevator and start discussing NoSQL. No, it wouldn't be cool to go to some function like a PTA meeting or some meeting of the city council and have dozens of upper-income dweebs with little experience in conflict resolution.

I would also be very careful that you're not getting screwed over by a young startup that's going to crash and burn and take you with it -- or become one of the drones for one of the super huge companies. The sweet spot is between those two extremes. I imagine it would be extremely easy to wake up in two years and find you've lost a huge chunk of your life with little to show for it. Don't do that.

Ask HN: Where have the comments gone?
7 points by krmtl  11 hours ago   2 comments top
r721 10 hours ago 1 reply      
They were probably transferred to this discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8693767
Ask HN: Where do you find airfare special deals?
2 points by kp02  10 hours ago   2 comments top 2
joshschreuder 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Have had success in the past using Flightfox (http://www.flightfox.com) where you get a 'pro' to find you a cheap flight (for a fee). Have used it twice and both times they found a cheaper flight than I could with the difference being greater than the fee.

Most recently I travelled Melbourne to NYC and they found if I booked an unrelated flight between Manchester and London, the overall cost of the routes I was travelling was much lower, even when paying for an extra ticket I wasn't going to use (though I'm still not entirely sure why)

I also read recently about Skiplagged (https://skiplagged.com/) which finds flights from A - B - C which are cheaper than those simply A - B. If you are only travelling A - B this will be cheaper and you just don't hop on the flight from B - C. They're getting sued by United so obviously someone doesn't like what they're doing.

As for specifically deals, I use OzBargain (http://www.ozbargain.com.au) though this is obviously Australian focused.

Miner_anonym 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It might be interesting to you "Hack: VPN and Proxy for Saving Money on Online Booking of Hotels and Airplane Tickets" https://privatoria.net/blog/hack-vpn-and-proxy-for-saving-mo...
Ask HN: Whats convenient way save webpages with links for offline reading?
6 points by smaksi  18 hours ago   5 comments top 4
justintbassett 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I like to wget, because you can easily automate and customize it. Here's the man page: http://www.gnu.org/software/wget/manual/wget.html
arvin 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Use HTTrack, this tool can grab a webpage and the links in that page.


LukeFitzpatrick 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is what I do. I have the Pages App on my iPad. I copy and paste anything into it that I want to continue to read, reference or check it out later on. I only use this app for this purpose. I also created a reading list on Quora too, but I've only just started using this feature. If there is a specific app for this, let me know, I'd use it.
Freedom of Information needs your help
15 points by mgalka  1 day ago   1 comment top
Ask HN: Examples of profitable little free web tools?
217 points by xyby  4 days ago   121 comments top 39
bensmiley 4 days ago 3 replies      
A few years ago I was getting into iOS audio development and I started blogging about CoreAudio. My website started getting some traffic so thought I'd put together a really comprehensive tutorial on how to play MIDI files on iOS. I started selling it on my site for around $19.99 and started making a couple of hundred dollars per month. Then one of the founders of http://www.binpress.com reached out to me and asked if I'd consider putting my component on their site. I decided to go for it and with the added exposure it started bringing in around $400 - $500 per month. Then I decided to spend my spare time making components to save other developers time on common tasks. I developed a piano plugin and then a chat component (http://www.binpress.com/app/chat-messaging-sdk-for-ios/1644). The chat component did really well so over time I built it up - currently it brings in about $2k per month in sales and loads of consulting work. Because of the chat component, I was approached by the Founders of Firebase because they wanted to shut down an online chat service they had called Envolve. They asked if I'd be prepared to make an alternative service and take on their customer base. I took on the project and developed a new chat called Chatcat (http://chatcat.io). Currently, I'm making about $4 - 5k per month in passive revenue from Binpress and the chat. On top of that I can easily make another $5k in freelance work. I'd definitely recommend this as a low risk path to generating a really stable passive revenue.
patio11 4 days ago 2 replies      
I hate having to be vague here, but suffice it to say there exist a few developers-oriented web applications which did one small thing well apiece. One day, a Silicon Valley company tired of paying $500 per lead to AdWords just sent them bolt-out-of-the-blue offers. Suffice it to say that the numbers involved were fat yearly salaries for nights-and-weekends style projects.

If you want to catch a bolt out of the blue, getting together a coherent commercially valuable audience increases your chances. That said: the easiest and best way to make money is to make something people want and trade it to them for money. If you're smart enough to build something that 50k web developers use every month then turning that into six figures is straightforward.

P.S. "They do not offer enough value to charge for" is a solvable problem, either by adding value or by using equivalent engineering time to build solutions to problems that matter to people with money. I mean, it's not like BCC's for loop and random number generator are a commandingly high bar of technical prowess to justify the $29.95 price tag.

ralphholzmann 4 days ago 4 replies      
I created sendtodropbox.com (email attachments to Dropbox) as a side project about 3 years ago. After the initial prototype, two-ish rewrites, and monetizing it with a freemium model, it's now got 1100 paying subscribers and brought in $20k in revenue this year. I did the whole thing myself (aside from the website template design, which a buddy of mine helped out with). This doesn't technically fall under the "informative value" category, but going solo on a project to make it profitable is definitely possible.
ada1981 4 days ago 1 reply      
About 7 years ago I invented and patented CreditCovers : "skins for credit cards". They are widely regarded in marketing circles as the single most effective way to start an offline conversation about a brand - called a "new dawn in viral marketing" by BusinessWeek.

CreditCovers.com is a near fully automated business at this point. I set up a deal with a factory in Brooklyn to handle print / pack / ship and wrote software to handle batching orders to them daily and updating customers.

Also, I created a DIY tool for people to customize their own which cut down on tons of e-mails of people asking for custom covers and having to do graphic work. http://creditcovers.com/DIY

It's been cool. Ton's of press, customers include people like Google, Ben Cohen - founder of Ben & Jerry's, celebs, Obama, etc.

Because CreditCovers are so effective, our single greatest marketing tool is just to give them away which always results in a positive ROI on referrals.. So that said, anyone who wants one with their start-up logo / dog / gf / mom / whatever on it can go get one... Use code 'hackernews' to get $10 off an order and get one free. (You will have to create it yourself using our tool at creditcovers.com/DIY - there are photoshop templates as well)

Also - we have a generous affiliate program of 50% if you'd like to partner on either 1 off or bulk sales - hit us up. order@creditcovers.com

wallflower 4 days ago 3 replies      
The general formula is you have to nurture and build your own community. Quality over quantity. There are many examples of people aggregating and filtering content (http://iosdevweekly.com) to producing content (basically all sites from the smallest blog up to BuzzFeed). The metric if there is one is how engaged your community is. Do they open your regular cadence newsletter? Do your current readers forward your newsletters? You can game social media all you want and in the end the real thing is are you providing value to people in the community you are contributing to/part of. All those people who sell 2,000 books with a single email spent hundreds of hours growing their email list one by one. It is easy to write one blog post that goes viral. And to get them to come back and read what your write next - that is harder.

Grow your community, give back, deliver something unique that you can provide on a regular basis.

The reality is you don't own anything if you work for a company. But if you have 100 or 1000 mailing list opens - that is all yours.

The rhetorical question is do you want to make $12,000 a year or $120k/year. The catch hear is $120k is salaried and NOT geometrically scalable while the $12k refers to your own sales/ad revenue. That what you own and have built is scalable.

It is all about influence and/or providing what people want.

ginkgotree 4 days ago 2 replies      
I just sealed a deal yesterday, making mid-3 figure /month revenue with a sponsor for a weekend project of mine: http://hacker.surf

HackerSurf launched a few days ago on HN, and sat on the front page for about 12 hours. Here's a recap on how it all went down here: http://scotthasbrouck.com/8000-uniques-from-weekend-node-js-...

A small example of a small project leading to recurring revenue. I'm writing another blog post for tomorrow on going from launch to solid revenue in 48 hours, I'll followup here with it.

rk0567 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'm making ~ $100 per month from this little tool [0] I created over weekend.

[0] http://portchecker.co/

brucehart 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if this site qualifies as "small" enough, but I think Ken Pomeroy does pretty well with his site kenpom.com. He takes college basketball box scores, runs a cron job that does some mathematical analysis and puts the results on his site. He has built the site out in the last few years, but there are still only a handful of dyanmically generated pages on his site (rankings, team stats, player stats, game stats). A subscription to his site costs $20/year and I would guess he has several thousand subscribers (myself included).
facepalm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not an Adsense specialist at all, but I suggest you might give it a little time. Adsense learns how to improve the value of your ads because it understands your visitors better over time. My Adsense income has increased 600% over time without me doing anything (still a small site, not enough to pay the rent, but nice extra). Of course other factors than just Adsense learning might have influenced it, too (ie more competition on ads or whatever), but still - my experience has been good.
bengali3 4 days ago 0 replies      
FYI If you haven't seen it check out this github list & discussion about web business models: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8073732
bsima 4 days ago 2 replies      
Adam Bard's recent work is a good example: http://adambard.com

As is Kevin Lynagh's http://keminglabs.com - He also made Denizen (I think) https://getdenizen.com/

I have no idea if any of these are profitable, but at least you get some ideas. Searching "site:news.ycombinator.com microbusiness" also brings up some good examples, for instance: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7367243

a3n 4 days ago 0 replies      
One way to make money from an activity is to sell products and services to people doing the activity. Supply companies in Denver probably were more consistently profitable, and their owners and employees probably lived longer, than the miners who stopped in on their way into the mountains to dig for gold, silver and lead.

Use your experience with what you do to create books and other resources for people who might like to do what you do.

Create a hosting service that is structured to support that community really well.


shanecleveland 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm certainly nowhere near making a living, but I have a few simple tools that generate adsense income. The sites generate international shipping documents. It was something I needed myself. Targeting businesses in a small niche helps with the per-click value and organic search rankings, I believe. So I don't need a huge number of visitors.

I feel good about actually providing value. And they are useful tools for me and I make a little money (about $150/month).

I've made a few consumer-oriented tools, including a baby name site, a meat temperature guide and office football pool site. I have not generated enough traffic to make ads worthwhile, but I suspect the pay-off would be low anyway. These sites would require thousands of visitors a day, and it would take a lot of legwork to generate that sort of traffic.

A few others that I use regularly that I did not make:https://identitysafe.norton.com/password-generator/http://www.freeformatter.com/csv-to-xml-converter.htmlhttps://www.xml-sitemaps.com

grimtrigger 4 days ago 1 reply      
Since you have traffic, you could work on monetizing in other ways than adsense. Think of a product that visitors might be interested in and try to sell them that.
kyriakos 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm on the same boat regarding adsense you need a lot of traffic or extremely profitable keywords to make any substantial income.I read recently on a similar Ask HN that https://www.conferencebadge.com/ is making a good income, and it can be considered 'little' I presume but they actually charge for their product/service.
tomek_zemla 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some tools lend themselves to starting small and expanding through add-ons, pro features or alternative versions. The example that comes to my mind is GreenSock (http://greensock.com) which started as small, simple Flash (ActionScript) library, but evolved into a large set of animation related libraries and plug-ins covering also HTML5 (JavaScript) and offering various licences starting from free to commercial/paid.

I don't know the internal details, but I have used it on multiple occasions over the years and the impression I get is that it evolved from a free, personal side project into more professional product and company. I suspect that the creator also gets commissioned projects as additional revenue stream. And judging from its consistent evolution over the years it must bring profits that justify working on it!

ohashi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Depends on what you think of as free/small. My startup, http://reviewsignal.com is a free service people can use to look up web hosting companies. it's automatically tracking all the tweets about major hosts and publishing the results. It's profitable and free, but was a lot of works (not sure how small it really is). I've also built a lot of tools closer to what you're describing, things like http://listmanipulator.com and http://domainling.com but none of the smaller projects come anywhere close to being a sustainable living.
kiraken 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why not gather all your products under one roof? Create a website that gathers all the other tools, choose a theme for it and everything, then start taking donations or charging small amounts of money for a monthly subscription to all your products or paid accounts that to use some extra tools
gesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote this Wordpress Bitcoin plugin for fun:


Eventually got about ~15 BTC worth of donations.Free version is fully functional, paid version allows very detailed performance configurations for serious stores.

Making about $300+ sales per month on it, fully passively (in $$$ and BTC as well)

davidw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Incidentally, for those interested in this sort of thing, http://discuss.bootstrapped.fm/ has a laser-focus on bootstrapped startups that makes for a very pleasant site.
davidw 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have a history of sites like that too. None of them ever made any money. I finally bit the bullet and started working on one site that does something that I charge money for: http://www.liberwriter.com

It's not perfect in a lot of ways - no recurring revenue - but it's done way better than any of those fun projects ever have, in terms of making money. I've also learned a lot more because I have real customers that get angry if things go wrong, or are very happy when things go right because I'm solving something that's a real problem for them.

davemel37 4 days ago 1 reply      
If the tools are useful enough to attract backlinks, you might want to find a company that's audience would find value in your tools, and sell it to them as an seo strategy. Here's the simple formula...

1. Content Development: Build a linkable asset (content or tools that people are compelled to share). 2. Outreach: Develop a targeting list of people who would likely link to your tool, and nurture a relationship with them. 3. Get Rich.

Packaged right, to the right company, you can probably charge $5k-$20k for the tool and another $5k/Month for outreach.

3zzy 4 days ago 0 replies      
A little CSS formatter tool I developed - http://procssor.com now part of MaxCDN). The Mac app was profitable before I sold it 2yrs ago.
HeyLaughingBoy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps instead of assuming that they don't offer enough value to charge, you could spend some time figuring out who would value them enough to pay for them.

e.g., when will the sun rise in city x -> send me an email 5 minutes before the sun rises in city x (because I told my girlfriend who's working overseas that I'd call her when the sun came up).

There is probably value in what you're doing. The trick is to find out who values it, for how much, and how can they pay you a possibly tiny amount with low payment overhead.

dejv 4 days ago 2 replies      
I do run small website called Notation Training http://notationtraining.com it is up and running for about three years and is doing quite good. I do run AdSense there, making around 200 USD/month and then I am selling premium version for $4 which quite some people buys as well. I guess I could be more aggressive with selling the premium version, but I am quite ok with it. There is very little maintenance going to this product and it makes quite nice extra money for me.
jonweber 3 days ago 0 replies      
I built a pretty thorough tax calculator tool at http://www.tax-rates.org/income-tax-calculator. Building it was a great experience, and I monetize it with ads and affiliate links during the tax season. It was certainly worth the time put in, and I am currently exploring options for expanding it into a paid app.
HeyLaughingBoy 4 days ago 2 replies      
Along these lines, I have a small app I want to improve and monetize. Problem is that the value is pretty low and it's doubtful that it would ever rise above $5/use (and that's really pushing it!) and it would be very occasional use. Is PayPal the best I can hope for with low sales volumes and low sales amounts?

Are there recommended forms of micropayments/low overhead payments available at the moment?

sideproject 3 days ago 1 reply      
We are building "Create your own HackerNews"


We are not charging yet, but planning to quite soon. Plenty of users so far with interest in paying. Not entirely sure how we'll go, but we're pretty sure it'll bring in some profit (or fingers crossed!)

minhajuddin 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have built a few free products too. I use them to advertise my sisterly paid products. A few of my free products: https://getsimpleform.com/, http://redirectapp.com/

You could try accepting donations or use it to build your portfolio for consultancy projects.

edoceo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I just started a document conversion API. Its only making $20/mo now but I think I can build to $2k/mo after a little more refinement and some advertising steps. But this is not make a living money. Combined with some freelancing gigs and other SaaS things it becomes living money.

The biggest upside is the stable revenue which allow you to be even more creative.

davyjones 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have made about 100 USD from pgxplorer. The site is in a bit of a limbo after my server crashed and I got a bit busy with dayjob. But looking to inject a couple of booster shots and also working on pg as a service platform as we speak.
someotheridiot 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://rebrickable.com - a tool to show you what LEGO sets you can build with the parts you have. It has a large collection of fan made creations, all with building instructions.
ryanrodemoyer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Without any experience doing what you're doing, I would say listen to what your users tell you. Review their emails and they'll tell you all you need to know about what they are looking for (enhancements maybe)? Learn to build a premium model after what they are asking for.
mite-mitreski 4 days ago 1 reply      
Balsamiq, Tarsnap are not in the same category as Bingo Card Creator.
adventured 4 days ago 1 reply      
As someone else mentioned, the only method I've seen work is either a niche with very high CPM rates, or to garner a lot of traffic.

On the ton of traffic side, there are a lot of examples, but Google has nuked countless of those over time.

eg: http://www.markosweb.com/

They were once one of the top ~1,000 sites in the world, and that site was generating over a million dollars per year via AdSense. They'd show up for nearly any search for a random domain / site in google. A lot of sites were using that domain info technique to spam traffic (they'd show things like pagerank, alexa rank, estimated value, blah blah).

Well that concept is still functional, just not as lucrative. Today you can find "sites like X" sites that are plentiful in the serps. There is still a lot of traffic in it.

Some presently still successful examples (some are spammy, some are less so; Google has hit some of these hard this year; if you asked most of these sites, they'd claim they're valuable tools):









davidfm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Could you offer api's to your tools or offer them as widgets for other websites to use and charge for that?
davemel37 4 days ago 3 replies      
Ask for donations and see what happens? You might be shocked by the money that comes in.
alexsh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Did you try bitcoin donations instead of ads?
2511 4 days ago 0 replies      
Google easily answers a lot of these questions. for ex: When will the sun rise today in city X. it works even for a small village in India
Ask HN: Successful marketing channels/forms for your startup/side project?
8 points by ericthegoodking  1 day ago   2 comments top
JacobAldridge 21 hours ago 1 reply      
If you haven't already, I can recommend reading the book Traction - http://tractionbook.com

Gabriel and Justin have done a good job of not just identifying marketing channels loaded with successful case studies, but providing the business framework for testing them on an ongoing basis to keep "moving the needle".

Ask HN: Who uses Chaos Monkey?
5 points by bennetthi  22 hours ago   8 comments top 4
romanhn 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Chaos Monkey is great, but it may be more pragmatic to start by injecting failures manually, rather than through an automated process. We do this with Failure Fridays at PagerDuty - https://blog.pagerduty.com/2013/11/failure-friday-at-pagerdu....
hacknat 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Forget Chaos Monkey, who's using Chaos Kong? That's what I want to know ;
bob917 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I use Chaos Monkey 3 times a day.
Which is easy to learn iOS development or android development
5 points by acronmace  1 day ago   4 comments top 4
ianhirschfeld 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Coming from web development (Rails), I started learning Swift this August with no previous background in Objective-C. I've found it to be fairly straightforward to pick up. I learned the basics in about a month and am approaching release of a production level app within the next month or so.

I have never tried Android dev though, so I can't compare to that.

0942v8653 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
In my experience: iOS is a bit easier, as long as you're using Objective-C, but not by much. Learning one doesn't necessarily help you learn the other.
runjake 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Neither is easy. Or conversely, both are about equally difficult.

Also, it's not so much the languages that are the steep learning curve, but the frameworks.

gsands 19 hours ago 0 replies      
similar learning curve with both -- with either one your learning will be split between learning language constructs (Obj-C/Swift or Java), app architecture (iOS and Android both have unique ways of doing common things), and the ecosystem library (Cocoa Touch or Android).
'tab', a new command-line utility for processing tabular text files seriously
9 points by otabdeveloper  1 day ago   1 comment top
bob917 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Great tool. A small tip for fellow dyslexic users. Create an alias named bat.
Do you actually enjoy working?
24 points by rifung  2 days ago   23 comments top 15
dubin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Cal Newport has a great book on the topic: "So Good They Can't Ignore you" [1]. Might be worth taking a look at, or at least Derek Sivers's book notes on it [2]

Particularly of interest might be his discussion of Self-Determination theory [3]. According to SDT, motivation requires autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In the workplace, this translates to have control over your work, being good at your work, and being connected to co-workers.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Good-They-Cant-Ignore-You-ebook/dp/B00...

[2] https://sivers.org/book/SoGood

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination_theory

zooso 2 days ago 1 reply      
Empirically, most people that I know that really enjoy their work tried many things until they settled on something.

My advice to you: be a journeyman instead of a factory worker. It's a long process and has a lot to do with luck but I think if you are really after doing work that you love, then thats the way to go

You can't possibly expect that you fall in love with your first job but most likely you will find something interesting about it, use that as a clue to switch to different things until you find something you like. During this search you yourself change and the things you thought are interesting would not be interesting anymore.

Working on a side projects is another way but until you start doing them as a full time jobs you can't say whether thats what you like to do.

Like most good things in life, this also comes with a combination of effort, experimentation, and luck.

Bahamut 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love working at my craft - it's fun solving various UI/UX problems as a frontend engineer, and implementing fun animations. I also enjoy mentoring people, helping people with their careers.

I left a prestigious PhD program in math after 4 years in part due to disinterest (and the other part being complicated personal issues), and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve - life in the military gives you appreciation for just about anything else. It was hard finding regular work, but after spending some time teaching myself how to code & build websites, I lucked into the field. I was just thankful enough for finding a job with a career track.

For me, dialing back my personal expectations of doing a high cloud in the sky accomplishment helped me become happy with my life.

Perhaps this is what is causing you to not like your job, although only you can answer this question.

mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I usually enjoy my work a great deal.

I worked as an employee for 20+ years, and almost always worked only 32 hours (getting full benefits). I took Mondays off. Four day work weeks were worth a 20% salary cut.

For the last 15 years I have mostly been an independent consultant. I am basically retired now, working a max of 8 or 9 hours a week, but when I was not retired I still tried to limit my average work week to about 25 hours.

I don't think that I could enjoy any job if I had to work 50 or 60 hours a week.

As to your question: if you view work as helping people, when you do get work tasks that are less fun, just concentrate on the fact that you are helping people.

rnovak 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are we talking about 'jobs', or 'career'? When I was in school, I worked as a Night Stock, Insurance Agent, bunch of other minor stuff, hated it all.

But, as a software architect, I absolutely love every day. I never wake up in the morning going "oh man, I have to work today". Sometimes I don't like how loud my office is (Open Office floorplan), and some of the people I work with.

Otherwise, for the past 5 years or so, I've loved almost every minute. I would do what I'm doing for free, and I get paid relatively well to do it, how could I complain?

smt88 2 days ago 0 replies      
13% of people like going to work; 24% are disengaged, like you are[1].

I've met very, very few people who like their first job. It's called "work" for a reason. People are paying you to do it because no one likes it enough to do it for free[2].

If you can get a job that fits you better, go for it. If not, make the best of it. Make time for something you love to do every day. Find interesting people at your company to learn from.

You said yourself that you rarely use your CS degree. Guess what? Programming for corporations is rarely a lofty, scientific endeavor. It's quick, dirty, and has far more to do with people than it does with technology.

Eventually you'll be experienced and respected enough that you can move more toward what you want to do. There are more scientific/tech-focused startups that would be closer to what you studied in college. For now, you just need to "pay your dues" -- show people you excel at things even when you don't want to do them and that you can do it with a smile on your face.

1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-leadership/wp/2013/10...

2. The FOSS movement could be described as "people who like programming enough to do it for free" but few people at corporations are doing what they do. They're applying generic technology to specific applications.

kmt_technical 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's natural to think once you finish school you'll settle into a job doing what you learned in school, however, that's not always how it works. Sometimes you have to dabble a little, experience other things and then decide. For some, it's different. I have family members who graduated MIT and immediately went to work for a high profile tech company in his field of study. Me...took me quite a while to land my niche job. There's nothing wrong with what you're experiencing. Enjoy the experience!
seekingcharlie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love my job & it doesn't really feel like "work" for me. I see this as both a bad & good thing - I work long (70+) hours, weekends etc & it's not because I'm expected to, it's just because that's what is fun for me.

I had a couple of jobs before this though & I didn't feel this way about them. I agree with others that I believe you have to trial different things before you find what it is that you truly want to do.

And for what it's worth, I don't really know that I use a whole tonne of my CS degree either, particularly in my day-to-day. Are you working as a developer now? I mean, not everyone that does CS, ends up as a dev, so I wouldn't be scared to try other roles. Having a technical background is a valuable foundation for any role really.

Martin67321 22 hours ago 0 replies      
To my mind in your case it's definitely too early to quit your job just because you are not enjoying it at the moment. I think everybody that left university or school struggles at the beginning of his/her professionell career. To identify parts that you like in your job you should maybe compare it to other jobs. Ones you found out about the advantages your job offers you might be more enjoying it ;)
nlx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love my work, I worked lots of jobs I hated; until I decided fuck it, and started applying for work in the job I always wanted to do (but never thought I had enough education for. Never been happier, not in my entire life.
HeyLaughingBoy 2 days ago 1 reply      
The company is well respected for what? Profitability? Product quality? Good work environment?

All that doesn't matter if the company is not a good fit for you and that's what I get from your post. You and the company (or at least what you're tasked with doing) don't mesh well.

No, its not the way life should be. Life is too short for you to be miserable at work. Most people don't actually enjoy their jobs, but it shouldn't be a chore either.

cm2012 1 day ago 0 replies      
My work is as good as it gets. Extremely flexible hours, under 45 hours a week, I choose my own projects, my boss is amazing, the company is brilliant, etc. I would still rather not work given the choice!
rjbwork 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have found out that a lot of businesses simply don't have interesting or hard problems to solve. There are problems to solve, and it can be fun to solve them on a one by one basis, but the overall problems that need solving are not interesting. My internship and first job were like that. My current one is not.
idoh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really enjoy what I'm doing, it is definitely achievable. You weren't brought into the world to toil at a job you don't like. Having a job isn't like school, it is much more open ended. If you are motivated, opportunistic, and believe in the possibility, you can eventually get what you want.
kostyk 2 days ago 0 replies      
most jobs in my experience are like that ;((
Ask HN: Where do I find a good developer?
10 points by zeynalov  1 day ago   14 comments top 9
patio11 1 day ago 1 reply      
Have you worked with a freelancer before who produced exceptional work? If so, ask them to do the work or recommend a friend with availability to do the work. Great freelancers are cheap, reliable, and available: pick any two.

If you're wondering why clients like you meeting developers like your previous contractor is virtually an inevitable outcome of freelancing sites, I recommend reading "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism." It was published in the 70s and basically won the authors a Nobel Prize. The example they use is about used cars, but it maps fairly directly to freelancing sites.

haidrali 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am from Pakistan also, can't say anything about that developer but can surely help you finding a top class developer

-> There are monthly post on Hacker News with the namesWho is hiring ? (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8681040) you can post you requirements for a developer with REMOTE option i am sure the quality of developers at HN is much more then those freelancing websites

-> There is also a monthly post with the name Who want to get Hire ? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8681043you can also pick your required developer from above link

Hope it might helps youThanks

foxpc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Most of the websites are swamped with Indian developers, sadly. And they're usually the cheapest ones. So while I'm not saying that Indian developers are bad, they're kind of taking the online market with the cheapest and usually, not the best quality options.

Kind of offtopic, but if you're still looking for a developer, I'm sure I could help you with my services. I have commented on a recent "Freelancer?.." and you can find my email there.

sjs382 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You could definitely send me an email to discuss the project. If I cant take on the project, I'm glad to recommend someone who can. My email is in my profile.
striking 1 day ago 1 reply      
It sounds like you should sit down and find the "developer within." That is to say, become technical. Just because a dev is from India/Pakistan/Turkmenistan doesn't mean they're bad developers; that being said, if you don't think they do quality work, either provide a big enough salary that people want to work for you, or learn it yourself.

You say "I could do it myself in one day" but then immediately say you're "non-technical." Sounds a little fishy.

lastofus 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How much are you realistically looking to spend on the services of a developer? Without knowing this, it's impossible to recommend the best value for the buck.
MalcolmDiggs 11 hours ago 0 replies      
For bigger projects: referrals are really the only way to go.

For smaller projects: spread out the risk. Chop your project into digestible chunks, and hire 5-7 devs in parallel to chip away at it (one little chunk given to each dev at a time). Eventually narrow it down (based on their performance) to just one or 2 devs.

Jeremy1026 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one of your best bets is to shoot me an email. (Email in profile)

Shameless plug

mc_hammer 1 day ago 1 reply      
yea just try a few until you get 2 or 3 that always deliver.

you can try some sort of screening process; have them give code examples, answer 10 questions in chat (that arent really on google, it gets tricky when the answers are on google); or screenshare and have them show u some of their code and explain a few lines what it does...

pakistan is not the greatest country to outsource from, you will have better luck with south american countries and asian countries

Ask HN: If you open source some code, are you responsible for maintaining it?
47 points by egonschiele  1 day ago   55 comments top 22
jrochkind1 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would just put that clearly and prominently in the readme.

"Released open source in case this code is useful to you, but there will be no support, no further releases, no bugfixes, and no response to issues. If you find this code useful and would like to modify it, please feel free to fork it."

[I forget if Github lets you turn off 'Issues' entirely, but if it does, do so.]

This way people know what they're getting into when they use the code. You have no _obligation_ to do anything, and it's better to share the code as examples for others trying to do the same thing than to keep it private because you don't want to support it.

But people may assume the code is supported, and regardless of what they assume, they can make a better decision on whether to use it or not (and use it how), if they know it's unsupported, and it is the right thing to do to let them know up front. If I found useful code, but knew it was 'abandonware', I might or might not choose to use it anyway, but that knowledge would effect my decision.

If you have code that you released without making that clear, and _have_ been supporting half-heartedly anyway (setting some expectations), well, contrary to what I predict will be the HN consensus, I think you do have some responsibility to your users. But you still aren't trapped forever in indentured servitude. Wind it down gracefully, maybe find someone else to take it over (have you accepted a pull request from anyone ever? if so, that person is a good candidate :) ), maybe keep responding to issues for a little while after you make the announcement that it will soon be abandonware. Or if you're completely burned out on it and just don't have time, then stop cold turkey if you have to, but post in the README what you're doing. (Don't delete the repo, that would be very rude to current users).

thibauts 1 day ago 2 replies      
There's one thing you're responsible for that I don't see mentioned here : potentially wasting a name from the global namespace.

There are too many abandoned projects that took the easy to remember / cool names. At a smaller scale and as an exemple, nowadays if you want to implement a protocol and publish it on NPM there is 99% chances the name is taken and the implementation is poor. Too many people thrown away quick hacks only to leave them die. People willing to work and invest time in proper implementations may end up discouraged and give up trying to publish or even coding them.

Names are the scarcest resource of all. My point of view is that when you take a name you take with it the responsibility of not wasting the cognitive paths associated with it. This is not a small responsibility at all, in my humble opinion.

It probably doesn't apply to the example you gave. Just took the opportunity to voice my concern.

svisser 1 day ago 0 replies      
Open sourcing some code means making it available under a license. That's it. No further promises are made by you.

So you're free to add a notice that you won't maintain it and that people are free to fork it and maintain it under another name.

Or you could maintain it if you think it's good for your career and/or you simply enjoy doing it.

thomasfoster96 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, for that particular repository the README still encourages pull requests, so while that's still there I'd probably expect you to maintain the project. If you turned issues off and put in the README that you had stopped maintaining the project I'd think that would be enough.

Really, I think once you open source something you should be prepared to maintain it for perhaps somewhere between 3-6 months at a minimum. If it's popular, I'd expect you to maintain it while it's still relatively popular and people are regularly sending pull requests and reporting issues.

If the repo is still popular, I'd think that you'd probably have to hand it over to someone else if you're not going to look after it. If it's less popular, a simple note in the README should be fine.

alain94040 1 day ago 2 replies      
You have no formal responsibility. No obligation. If someone complains to you about fixing bugs, they are welcome to fix them themselves. That's what open source is for. Anyone can fix issues without having to wait for the creator.
DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can hand it off to other people to maintain if it's something you don't want to do.

Other people can fork it if they are unsatisfied with what you're doing.

Please don't allow it to cause you any stress! Many quiet users are just grateful that devs release stuff.

stonogo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've never seen a programmer be held responsible for maintaining code.

I've seen them paid to do it. I've seen them do it because they want to. I've never (ever) seen any of them do it because someone else told them they had to.

warp 1 day ago 1 reply      
TL;DR You have no responsibility to keep coding, but you do have a responsibility to transition the project to a new maintainer if someone sufficiently competent volunteers.

As many others have already mentioned, it is very useful to clarify in the README what the status of the project is.

Something I would like to add is that if someone else comes along who offers to take over maintenance, that is a useful thing which you should probably accept, and then you should update your README to point to the new official maintainer. You can also explicitly mention in the README that the project is looking for a new maintainer, which to me always seems a bit friendlier than just stating you've abandoned the project.

Even if you don't officially pick a new maintainer for your project, if a couple of forks spring up on github consider linking to them from your README if they still seem active after a couple of months.

nodesocket 1 day ago 0 replies      
Begin rant:

I'm going to be the one who says it. I am frankly tired of the sense of developer entitlement. We get so much amazing and great work from people, yet it never seems to be enough for some. They bitch about semantic details, style choices, lack of support, and yet refuse to pay for quality services. Instead, they cockily spout "...why would I pay for that when I can just code it myself?"

I think this mentality is what separates these sort of developers from entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs will pay for services happily that make their lives and business easier and improved, while entitled developers will just "hate" on the technical merits or "poo poo" the language, framework, or design decisions.

On to the OPs question, no you don't have a responsibility to maintain anything you give away to the community.

nirvdrum 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it depends on how you go about it. If you just make it available and from the outset make it known that's what you're doing, then I think it's fair game. If, on the other hand, you spent time convincing people to use it and then just abandon it, I think that's kind of a jerk move. I see this happen a lot with freelancers using open source as a means to drum up clients.
jijojv 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please don't turn off issues so people wanting to try your code are aware of bugs. Just say it's unsupported.
ams6110 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would say that if anyone is obligated to maintain the code is is the people who are using it and benefiting from your initial work. (Not using "obligated" in the literal sense, more to mean "ought to").
qwerta 1 day ago 0 replies      
No, you are not. But it boils down to what you advertise.

Perhaps declare in readme that project is unmantained and disable Issues on such project (no emails). Also declare how much hours/month you are willing to put into maintenance. And finally use separate email for OS activity, public email generates a lot of spam (viagra etc)

I actually build my living around one such abandoned project. Original idea was great, but it needed some TLC to make it usable.

egonschiele 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the suggestions HN! I added a note to the top of the README and will try to wrap up existing issues. I won't delete the repo from github.
username223 1 day ago 0 replies      
You have a responsibility to your own reputation. When you publish some source, are you trying to help other developers, or are you just making a public online backup? If the former, then do so; if the latter, then just be clear what you're doing. Put "I'm just dumping this on the 'net" in the README, and people can take it for what it's worth (nothing, probably).
dustinfarris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mentioning the state of the project in the README is useful. Additionally, you could selectively reach out to some of your users and offer them GitHub's "collaborator" status. This enables them to accept pull requests, push to master, etc.. That way your code can be maintained by people with a current interest in it.
josegonzalez 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can turn off issues and wikis on github repositories and force people to file pull requests to fix issues if you'd like.
Mikeb85 1 day ago 0 replies      
You have no responsibility. If people want bugs fixed, they can fork it and do it themselves...
kazinator 1 day ago 1 reply      
You don't have responsibility to maintain, but the copyright holders of the code are potentially open to liability.

When you open source something, you have to make sure it has a clear license which includes legal disclaimers of warranty and liability. For instance take a look at the disclaimers in the GPL and BSD licenses.

As far as maintenance goes, you have no contractual obligation to anyone to fix anything for them, if you aren't being paid.

ripb 1 day ago 0 replies      
>At my company, we depend on a lot of open-source technologies. We expect that someone will keep rails up to date, fix security vulnerabilities etc.

That's a pretty terrible, and indeed entitled, attitude to hold I must say.

>I haven't used it in a while (I don't make many presentations) but I still keep getting and responding to bug reports. What's my responsibility here? I am happy to open source my code, but I don't want the extra work of maintaining something I rarely use.

Then don't. Invite others to collaborate and submit patches themselves.

johncoltrane 1 day ago 6 replies      
If you don't plan to maintain your code what you did is not "open sourcing": it is merely a source code "release". "Open source" means "welcome", if you don't mean it, don't say it.

If you are tired of maintaining your old project just put a tar.gz of the last stable release up on your own site and let it die or be used. Or, at the very least, disable GitHub's issue tracker.

Advice: how to monetize a website with 30,000 page views per month?
6 points by plg  2 days ago   9 comments top 7
davismwfl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Other than ads. Find a couple of the most common questions/issues and those that get the most action and turn that into an ebook where you can offer advice, and show the various opinions and details around each different methodology etc.

If you are getting newbie's coming to the site that are either new to the language or new to the industry or just having common issues, ebooks, subscriptions and training are a fairly easy way to monetize.

You could also collect say 50 best useful tips and sell that as an ebook. Go through all the content on the site and collect these into an organized training manual basically. Its a FAQ in ebook form. Or maybe do a architecture practices, design practices and intro ebooks etc, all based on the content you have.

Also, you could give a small ebook away to increase conversions on getting people's email addresses. Then get a newsletter setup that you can offer services to the list, or use it again to sell ebooks, training etc. You may already have setup the email list, but just in case you haven't yet gone that way. You can work with partners then to monetize the list where you will not rent or sell your list but if someone presents you with a good solid topic or service you will market it to your list and you will get paid to do that. You just have to be picky about what you send to the email subscribers and not abuse that responsibility or your opt-outs will destroy the list real fast.

Last idea, going back to the newbies, you could offer a 3-6 month initial training service where they pay monthly for weekly tips, training and assistance while they are getting started. Of course I am making a ton of assumptions with this idea.

I am just shooting ideas out of my head, so they may be totally off base for your situation, as your question is pretty broad without a link to the site to understand what you already do.

dpweb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't waste time with donations.

With ads you would be targeting about $150/mo or $5/cpm with US visitors, maybe 25-50% of that internationally. So, you could try to sell something on the site, and if you don't make that much - go for the ads.

I would do adsense and not waste time with the other ad networks unless you had time to try different ones out and find one that yields better than that..

chatmasta 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Developers are a notoriously hard-to-monetize crowd, and more developers have adblockers installed than any other demographic. So I would avoid normal advertisements.

Here's what you need to do:

1) Collect email addresses

2) Sell things to the email addresses. Books come to mind.

e.g. "Want to hear my recommendations for programming books? Leave your email."

Or, as another commenter suggested, write a book yourself.

Also put some amazon affiliate links to books somewhere on the site.

LukeFitzpatrick 1 day ago 0 replies      
You could possibly offer referrals to other Bitcoin sites and charge a fee. Some sites offer Bitcoin wallets, others can predict the market market. I know of one Bitcoin site which has a 90% accuracy on prediction.

I'd say, safety of Bitcoin will become a big thing later on with quantum computing on the rise.

Checkout Meetup.com in you local area. I live in Seoul, it has regular meet ups about Bitcoin. If you attend this, you should be able to get some ideas.

Best of luck! I think I saw your post on Quora.

M-S-B 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps a CTA to up-sell an e-book with useful pro information?
bobsadinook 2 days ago 1 reply      
first, what is your site address? make donate with Paypal available

Your visitor should coming from US,Russia,German or western

consider to use flattr.com and Google adsense(many developer use it)

Ask HN: Winter reading + other activities for a stronger 2015
9 points by petecooper  9 days ago   discuss
a3n 9 days ago 1 reply      
"I will readily admit that although I can do a bunch of things well, I don't excel at one thing; rather, I haven't yet found that thing."

No book recs, but when I read that sentence I immediately thought: pick something that you would really like to excel in, and then immerse yourself in it. Don't worry too much about what you pick, because you aren't committing to that one thing exclusively for life.

Go from making simple toy-like items to really significant work products. DON'T be reluctant to start small; an immense ambitious project at the beginning can be daunting to the point of discouragement. Lots of silly inconsequential things lets you focus on the subject, rather than any artificial constraints on direction that a real project/product might impose.

Connect with whatever physical or virtual community is available for that subject and your circumstances.

Eventually make something that you want everyone to see and use, either as consumers of your thing or as producers using your thing to produce their thing. (I obviously don't know what your thing is. :) Write a Show HN post when you have something.

It's really thrilling to feel like you're devouring everything you can find on a subject, and it feels really nice when other people use what you made.

thret 9 days ago 1 reply      
www.codecademy.com is okay I feel. I imagine you will want to get into websites/mobile apps, that kind of thing?

The truth is, the programming books I read in the beginning are all out of date now, I wouldn't know what to recommend today. However, I fondly recommend The Art Of Computer Programming by Knuth if you have a lot of time and no fear. Converting an algorithm from MIX to your language of choice is a good way to ensure you understand them both.

For depression, brain wiring, state of mind - maybe Gdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. It is quirky, stimulating and altogether delightful.

macmac 9 days ago 1 reply      
Instead of reading I would suggest:

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt5Qv9tUObI then begin to meditate.

Ask HN: How or where to begin learning mathematics from first principles?
325 points by smtucker  4 days ago   122 comments top 64
nicklaf 4 days ago 5 replies      
I absolutely, positively second the recommendation of "Real Mathematical Analysis" by Charles Pugh (don't miss the advice he relates from his colleague, on pages 9&10, with the heading "Metaphor and Analogy", which could easily form the basis for a dissertation on the psychology of mathematical intuition and inspiration). Pugh does an exquisite, uncommonly good job of avoiding a pitfall that >99.9% of mathematics authors fall into, making it more or less impossible for one to genuinely understand mathematics outside of a university. What pedagogy is it that Pugh (and Spivak) care enough to get right, where nearly all others fail? It is this: Pugh has carefully crafted his book into what I'd call a 'mind expansion tool': almost everything there is crafted to be read, internalized, and meditated on. By contrast, almost all other mathematics books read like a laundry list of theorems and proofs, with some discussion inserted as an afterthought.

Let me tell you a dirty secret about mathematics textbooks: almost all of them are highly flawed and incomplete dialogs between the author and the supposed reader. The reason for this: the first and foremost purpose of almost all mathematics textbooks is to organize the AUTHOR'S conception of the subject (not the student's!), for the primary purpose of TEACHING a course on the subject. In other words, the book's primary purpose is NOT to be read directly. A given mathematics textbook represents a model of the way in which the author (casually) BELIEVES students of your level might try to reason about the subject, whereas in reality, the author has so long ago advanced beyond your level that s/he cannot even remember how difficult it was when s/he first learned the subject.

If you attempt to read most mathematics texts directly, outside the context of a university course (and without having already gained a true understanding of mathematics), you will almost certainly reach a stage in your reading in which you have internalized a certain amount of verbiage (say, some theorems, maybe a proof or two, and some light discussion, with the pretense that the abstractions introduced are 'useful' for some unknown reason). Certainly, you are asked to do some problems at the end of the section, and this is in fact a somewhat reliable way to reach some kind of personal discovery, and hopefully at least some mild enlightenment about just what the section was really about. (A good textbook will have highly instructive problems; however, the difficulty is, it is virtually impossible to know just how worthy of your time they will be before you spend hours working on them.)

However, even at university, I almost NEVER resorted to reading the textbook: careful attention paid to the lecture, copious notes, regular attendance of office hours, and most of all, intense thought about the problems SPECIFICALLY given (and hopefully invented) by the lecturer were all that I was ever inclined to pursue (and all that I ever needed to succeed). If I read the textbook at all, it was only ever sought as a reference, or to fill in the gaps of a lecture which I failed to understand completely. Which is precisely the reason most math texts read so poorly: they are supplementary material for university courses.

Despite vouching for it, I do not recommend you only read Pugh--at least not right away, and not from cover-to-cover. If you must start from scratch, please start with Spivak's "Calculus", which is similarly excellent in directly addressing the pedagogical needs of an autodidactical learner. Please note that by far the most thing to learn when studying mathematics is something that is impossible to encapsulate in any specific result; I am talking about "mathematical maturity". If you only do a one or two problems in all of Spivak, but spend several hours thinking deeply about a specific aspect of a problem or passage that leads you to have new, creative thoughts, you will have learned more than you could have by merely working through it in a mindless fashion.

If you do intend to make it through a significant chunk of Spivak, be prepared to spend an enormous amount of time at it. There are many, many difficult problems in it. In addition, you should be spending time and effort not only writing down the steps of your proofs, but trying to come to grips with the very definitions you are working with. In mathematics, definitions and assumptions are most important--and they are certainly more important than clever tricks. This is why graduate students in mathematics have to learn their subjects over again--most undergraduate subjects do not do a precise or complete enough job of completely stating all definitions needed to make the theory entirely clear.

The greatest mathematician of the 20th century, Alexander Grothendieck (who recently passed away), was as productive as he was because of his uncanny skill in inventing definitions of mathematical objects which put the problem in a broader context. Raw mathematical power is available to mathematicians to the extent that they allow the context of ANY given problem which they attempt to expand in their mind, until it connects with the relevant intuition. Once this inspiration strikes, the answer becomes easy. To Grothendieck, solving a problem was more a test of his ability to create a useful theory, than an end to itself. This speaks volumes to the value of thinking abstractly and creatively, rather than just trying out hoards of problems and expecting things to magically line up in your brain, hoping for an answer to pop out. There are generally two kinds of problems in mathematics: those which simply require organizing the essential definitions and required theorems until the answer is obvious, and those which need a fundamentally new idea. In neither case will you be able to 'plug and chug'. A great deal of harm is done to students of mathematics in grade school, because the subjects are invariably taught by non-mathematicians, in a highly non-mathematical way--in fact, in a way that is antithetical to the very core of the subject. Please google and read Paul Lockhart's essay titled "A Mathematician's Lament" to see if you really understand just what mathematics is (or if deleterious notions from your schooldays are continuing to blind you from the simple beauty of pure mathematics). I will add as well the recommendation that you read G.H. Hardy's essay, "A Mathematician's Apology".

Learning mathematics is so incredibly difficult for the novice because it is almost impossible to teach this process. One must fail over and over again. I cannot lie: mathematics will be probably be difficult and unnatural for everybody except those who allow themselves enough time to commit to thinking freely and creatively about it, until a point of 'accelerating returns' is reached. Attempting to proceed directly to applied problems will invariably fail. The counter-intuitive truth about applied mathematics is that studying pure mathematics is in fact far more practical than attempting to think about the problem directly. This is because an understanding of pure mathematics gives you the ability to CREATE. Alfred Whitehead said: "'Necessity is the mother of invention' is a silly proverb. 'Necessity is the mother of futile dodges' is much nearer the truth."

I'll also leave you with a relevant quote from the great expository writer and mathematician Paul Halmos: "What does it take to be [a mathematician]? I think I know the answer: you have to be born right, you must continually strive to become perfect, you must love mathematics more than anything else, you must work at it hard and without stop, and you must never give up."

And another, in which he tells you how you should read a mathematics text: "Don't just read it; fight it! Ask your own questions, look for your own examples, discover your own proofs. Is the hypothesis necessary? Is the converse true? What happens in the classical special case? What about the degenerate cases? Where does the proof use the hypothesis?"

I have heard professional mathematicians express themselves the difficulty that even they have in maintaining the attention span required to read a traditionally written, unmotivated mathematics textbook. One such mathematician said that he skipped directly to the theorems, and attempted to discover a proof for himself. This is another secret to mathematics: it is always better to invent proofs yourself than to read the ones given in the text. This may be counter-productive in the early stages of your learning, but it is something you should continuously challenge yourself to attempt. If the first steps of a proof do not come to mind automatically, cover up the proof given in the text, except for the first few words. Then try to prove it again from scratch, with the knowledge that the objects being used in just that initial part might be part of one possible proof. Repeat as necessary, until you have either discovered a proof for yourself, or you have uncovered the entire proof given in the text. In either case, you will have thought long and hard enough to never forget the definitions and ideas needed to write the proof you end up with, even if you forget the proof itself. Later, you will only remember the essential idea. Then, it is an excellent exercise to attempt to work out the details again.

tel 4 days ago 4 replies      
There is no royal road to math.

There are instead, roughly, between 4 and 50 branches of mathematics which each start and "end" in different places with different goals and philosophies and styles.

What makes this all "math" is that almost inexplicably these branches tread the same ground over and over. Which is to say: learning one branch can dramatically improve your ability to understand another branch. Learning several builds your "mathematical intuition" all together.

In order to learn more math you will most likely want to choose one of these branches and study it intensely. You will not want to start from first principles to begin. Nobody does, it's too complex. Instead, you should seek to understand some set of "introductory core ideas" from that branch.

In order to study any branch you will need to learn the language of mathematics: logic, theorems and proofs. Essentially, this is a language you can think in and speak. Without it, you will be incapable of carefully expressing the kind of sophisticated ideas math is founded upon.

Fortunately, programming is an application in logic. If you can program a computer you're between 1/3rd and 2/3rds of the way to understanding mathematical logic well-enough to begin to understand mathematical argument. That said, you will not yet know enough. There are books which teach this language directly (Velleman's How to Prove It, perhaps) and there is an entire field of study of this language. Usually, however, you just learn by doing. Certain branches are more amenable to this learning of the logical language than others.

One thing to note about the logical language that would be told to you by any teacher but is only mentioned in a few books is that it is not much like English in that you can just listen to or read something in the logical language and have it immediately form a cogent picture in your mind. Mathematical language is a language of action---you MUST complete proofs, often on your own, in order to have grasped what was being said. This doesn't mean there isn't value in skimming a math book and reading the results without doing the proofs. Indeed, that's often a great first pass through a book! But think of doing that like reading the Cliff's Notes for a great work of literature. You might be able to talk about it a little bit, but you certainly haven't understood the material.

One final note with respect to learning any branchwhere you start is critical. Often, even the simplest reviews of the material of one branch of mathematics will assume "basic, working knowledge" of many other branches. This is done in order to accelerate learning for those who possess that working knowledgeit takes advantage of the frequent crossover properties from one branch of mathematics to another. Finding resources which do this minimally will be important to begin... but you will probably not succeed entirely. Sometimes, you just have to read a math book and walk away from it without being too much the wiser, but recognizing that there was some technique from another field you could learn to unlock a deeper understanding.


Some major fields of mathematics are:

1. Algebra. This is like and unlike what you may call algebra today. It is the study of how things are built and decomposed. Indeed, it notes that many "things" can be described entirely in terms of how they are built and decomposed. It is often a good place to begin for programmers as it espouses a way of thinking about the world not dissimilar to the way we model domains in while programming. Some books include Algebra: Chapter 0 by Aluffi and Algebra by MacLane.

2. Combinatorics. This is the study of "counting", but counting far more complex than anything meant by that word in normal usage. It is often a first field of study for teaching people how to read and speak proofs and theorems and therefore is well recommended. It is also where the subfield of graph theory (mostly) lies which makes it more readily accessible to programmers with an algorithms background. I can recommend West's Introduction to Graph Theory, but only with the caveat that it is incredibly dry and boring---you will get out of it what you put into practicing the proofs and nothing more.

3. Topology. This is the study of what it means for one thing to be "near" another. Similarly, it is the study of what it means to be "smooth". It's a somewhat more abstract topic than the others, but in modern mathematics it holds a privileged role as its theorems tend to have surprising and powerful consequences elsewhere in mathematics. I don't know any good introductory material here---perhaps Munkres' Topology.

4. Calculus and Analysis. This is the study of "smooth things". It is often the culminating point of American high school mathematics curricula because it has strong relationship with basic physics. Due to this interplay, it's a remarkably well-studied field with applications throughout applied mathematics, physics, and engineering. It is also the first "analyst's" field I've mentioned so far. Essentially, there are two broad styles of reasoning in mathematics, the "algebraicist's" and the "analyst's". Some people find that they love one much more than the other. The best intro book I know is Spivak's Calculus.

5. Set Theory. This is, on its surface, the study of "sets" which are, often, the most basic mathematical structure from which all others arise. You should study it eventually at this level to improve your mathematical fluency---it's a bit like learning colloquial English as compared to just formal English. More deeply, it is a historical account of the philosophical effort to figure out what the absolute basis of mathematics is---a study of foundations. To understand Set theory at this level is far more challenging, but instrumental for understanding some pieces of Logic. This can therefore be a very useful branch of study for the computer scientist investigating mathematics. I don't know a good introductory book, unfortunately.

6. Number Theory. This is, unlike the others above excepting "surface" Set theory, a branch which arises from studying the properties of a single, extremely interesting mathematical object: the integers. Probably the most obvious feature of this field is the idea that numbers can be decomposed into "atomic" pieces called prime numbers. That idea is studied generally in algebra, but the properties of prime numbers escape many of the general techniques. I don't know a good introductory book, unfortunately.

7. Measure Theory and Probability Theory. Measure theory is the study of the "substance" of things. It generalizes notions like length, weight, and volume letting you build and compare them in any circumstance. Furthermore, if you bound your measure, e.g. declare that "all things in the universe, together, weigh exactly 1 unit", then you get probability theory---the basis of statistics and a form of logical reasoning in its own right. I don't know a good introductory book, unfortunately.

8. Linear Algebra. A much more "applied" field than some of the others, but one that's surprisingly deep. It studies the idea of "simple" relationships between "spaces". These are tackled in general in (general) algebra, but linear algebra has vast application in the real world. It's also the most direct place to study matrices which are vastly important algebraic tools. I don't know a good introductory book, unfortunately.

9. Logic. A much more philosophical field at one end and an intensely algebraic field at the other. Logic establishes notions of "reasoning" and "judgement" and attempts to state which are "valid" for use as a mathematical language. Type Theory is closely related and is vital for the development of modern programming languages, so that might be an interesting connection. I don't know a good introductory book, unfortunately.


Hopefully, some of the ideas above are interesting on their surface. Truly understanding whether one is interesting or not is necessarily an exercise in getting your feet a little wet, though: you will have to dive in just a bit. You should also try to understand your goals of learning mathematics---do you seek beauty, power, or application? Different branches will be appealing based on your goals.

Anticipate studying mathematics forever. All of humankind together appears to be on the path of studying it forever---you personally will never see its end. What this means is that you must either decide to make it a hobby, a profession, or to consciously leave some (many) doors unopened. Mathematics is a universal roach motel for the curious.

But all that said, mathematics is the most beautiful human discovery. It probably always will be. It permeates our world such that the skills learned studying mathematics will eke out and provide value in any logical concern you undertake.

Good luck.

WallWextra 4 days ago 4 replies      
I got started on "real" math with Spivak's Calculus. Some people start with Topology by Munkres, which is not a difficult book but is very abstract and rigorous so makes a good introduction. If you feel like you have ok calculus chops, maybe Real Mathematical Analysis by Charles Pugh. Other good books are Linear Algebra Done Right by Axler, or the linear algebra book by Friedberg, Insel, and Spence. Maybe even learn linear algebra first. It's so useful.

Do plenty of exercises in every chapter, and read carefully. Count on about an hour per page (no joke). Plenty of math courses have their problem sets published, so you can google a course which uses your chosen book and just do the exercises they were assigned.

If you don't feel comfortable with basic algebra and other high school math, there's Khan Academy, and some books sold to homeschoolers called Saxon Math.

If you haven't had a course in calculus before, maybe you should skim a more intuitive book before or alongside reading Spivak. I don't know of any firsthand, but I heard Calculus for the Practical Man is good. Scans are freely available online (actually, of all these books) and Feynman famously learned calculus from it when he was 12.

hal9000xp 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had the same problem with math. There are two books which changed my mindset forever:



The first one is the general book about math. It's a classical book.

The second one is Donald Knuth's book written specifically for computer science guys.

brudgers 4 days ago 0 replies      
If one takes the view that mathematics is naught but a set axioms and some conventions for replacement, then the use of Euclidean or Riemannian space simply becomes a choice based on the problem one wishes to investigate...neither is wrong. We pick the axioms and the rules, if they're interesting and reasonably consistent, it's mathematics.

The first principle of learning mathematics is that the notation describing idea `M{n}` depends on an understanding of some notation describing idea `M{n-1}. That's why there is some sense in which "first principles" of mathematics makes sense. In the end, learning mathematics is a long haul - the academically elite of the world normally spend twelve years just getting to the point of completing a first calculus course before heading off to university.

Of course, there isn't really an explicit ordering to the notation. This despite our ordering of the school-boy educational system. Out in the adult world, mathematicians, engineers, scientists, etc. just grab whatever notation is convenient for thinking about the problem they are trying to solve. Thus, it is common for separate domains to have wildly different underlying abstractions for a common mathematical concept: ie. two problems which are reducible to each other by manipulating notation using replacement.

What this means is that there's no meaningful reason to derive the domain specific language [notation] of cryptography and antenna design simultaneously from Peano arithmetic...sure there's a formalism, but it's a Turing tarpit equivalent to building Facebook's infrastructure in Brainfuck. Starting from first principles is a task for mathematicians of Russel's and Whitehead's calibers. For a novice, it constitutes a rookie mistake; keeping in mind that the problem Gdel found with Principia Mathematica is foundational to computer science.

The philosopher CS Pierce's criticism of Descartes Meditations can be elevator pitched as: enquiry begins where and when we have the doubt, not later after we have travelled to some starting point. The base case for extending our knowledge is our current knowledge; creating better working conditions and unlearning poor habits of mind are part of the task.

If the enquiry grows out of knowledge in computing, it is impossible to start anywhere but from computing. Getting to the "No! I want to start over here!" place is part of the enquiry and a sham exercise.

All of which is to preface two suggestions:

+ Knuth's Art of Computer Programming presents a lot of mathematics in a context relevant to people with an interest in computing. Volume I starts off with mathematics, Volume II is all about numbers, Volumes III and IV are loaded with geometry and the algebraic equivalents of things we think about geometrically.

+ Iverson's Math for the Layman and other works are useful for introducing the importance of notation and tying it to computing. [Disclaimer: I'm currently in love with J, and posting the following link was where I started this comment]. http://www.cs.trinity.edu/About/The_Courses/cs301/math-for-t...

+ Because notions of computability are implicit in mathematics, automata theory is another vector for linking knowledge of computing to an increased understanding of mathematics.

Good luck.

maroonblazer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I found myself in a similar situation about a year ago and while I've made a lot of progress I still have a long way to go. Here's what I've found useful:

Precalculus, Coursera, https://www.coursera.org/course/precalculus

"Precalculus Mathematics In A Nutshell", George F. Simmons, http://www.amazon.com/Precalculus-Mathematics-Nutshell-Geome...

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to Calculus", Michael Spivak, http://www.amazon.com/Hitchhikers-Guide-Calculus-Michael-Spi...




jpfr 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wanting to learn mathematics from "first principles" brought a lot of comments from graduate-level mathematicians. While their advice applies very much for mathematics students, I can't recommend going down that road for engineering types.

In mathematics, everything is connected. One can build up a specific topic from first principles only. But with a too narrow focus one looses these lovely connections between different fields that allow to change the perspective on how we think about problems.

I was in a similar situation some 2 years ago. Try "Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Forms" by Hubbard and Hubbard. You will not be disappointed. Yes, you get (enough) rigor and a lot of first principles mathematics. Nonetheless, the authors have found a lovely way to integrate a wealth of important results from many fields into a coherent text that has one goals: letting you understand the connections and letting you solve the problems.

gtani 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very similar question: http://www.reddit.com/r/compsci/comments/2notz5/how_do_you_p...

(with a good answers regarding Khan Academy, Polya "How to Prove", lamar.edu, math.stackexchange.com, universityofreddit.com, lots of online curriculums from different universities, curricula aimed at data science (Prob/stats, linear algebra, calculus). These're good listings of resources for precalc and for data science:





The threshold question are,

- can you locate like minded folks to bootstrap a study group, or tutor(s) who are willing to devote time?

- (if you're in US/Canada) how about community colleges by you, in a lot of places they're still well funded and will efficiently pull you up to first year college calculus and linear algebra, and maybe further

- What level of high school / college math did you last attain, because reviewing to that level shouldn't be too stressful. At least, in my very biased view of math education.

uonyx 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Methods of Mathematics Applied to Calculus, Probability, and Statistics by Hamming is an excellent and rigorous introduction text.


westoncb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was in a very similar situation. The thing that helped me the most was getting an understanding of what it is mathematicians are trying to do and what their methods are. "What is Mathematics?" ended up being pretty pivotal (as another poster mentioned), though the topics did seem pretty random to me when going through it at first. The introductory material to "The Princeton Companion to Mathematics" is an excellent compass for orienting yourself. That introductory portion is about 120 pages, though it's a huge book (well over 1000 pages) and the rest of it probably won't be too useful to you for a while (but at the same time, those intro essays were invaluable). I'd second Axler's "Linear Algebra Done Right" as a nice early (yet pretty serious, despite the title) book. Linear algebra is used all over the place, and the way it's addressed in that book you'll learn something about creating mathematical systems rather than merely how to use some existing system. It also helped me understand what's interesting and why in mathematics to read in philosophy of mathematics and math history, and popularizations, etc. "Men of Mathematics" is quite good, as are "Gdel's Proof" and "Mathematics and the Imagination."

Once I was immersed in it for a while, I started getting into more CS related mathematics: things in computation theory, programming language theory, category theory--and I would spend a lot of time reading networks of wikipedia math articles from basically random starting points inspired by something I read. Didn't understand much to start with, but I'm glad I did it and I find them indispensable now.

I think it's of the utmost importance to go into it with an understanding that you SHOULD feel lost and confused for quite a while--but trust in your mind to sort it out with a little persistence, and things will start coming together. If you find yourself avoiding math, finding it unpleasant and something you 'just can't do,' check out Carol Dweck's 'Self-Theories.' Good luck!

haxiomic 4 days ago 2 replies      
Try http://www.khanacademy.org free), their math series starts from basic arithmetic and walks all the way through to undergrad-level mathematics.

I personally preferred khanacademy to my math teaching at school and it's been handy during my degree.

For more advanced stuff i've found Stanford's online courses (https://www.youtube.com/user/StanfordUniversity/playlists) and MIT OpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm) to have the best material for Physics

jvvw 4 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect there is some confusion here by the use of 'first principles' in the title. As a former mathematician when I see 'first principles' I think of axiomatic approaches to mathematics and the study of subjects like analysis, algebra and geometry from those first principles. I suspect however that what you want is good ground in the foundations of mathematics necessary to understand common applications of mathematics, which is quite different.

It is also a difficult question to answer without some context of your current mathematical understanding. Do you know any calculus? Any linear algebra? If you don't, those would be good places to start as they underpin many areas with applications of mathematics. Bear in mind too that Mathematics is a huge subject in that even if you take to it naturally, you're not going to acquire a breadth and level of understanding without a fair amount of study. Looking back I probably put a lot of hours in my youth into really understanding linear algebra fully for example to the level that I could teach it at a high-ranking university, and that was with the help of people whom I could pester with my questions and the incentive of exams to take.

The other approach is to look at the areas you want to understand and then work out what topics you need to study to fully understand them. Cryptography is worlds away from electromagnetism for example. Looking at cryptography, are you interested in public key cryptography or symmetric key cryptography? If the former, then you need to start learning number theory and if the latter, knowing some statistics is probably more relevant.

infinity 4 days ago 0 replies      
One way to approach your wishes to learn "mathematics from first principles" is to see modern mathematics as the study and application of formal systems:


A formal system has several components:

An alphabet of symbols from which sequences or strings of symbols are constructed. Some of these strings of symbols can be well-formed according to some formal grammar, which is the next component.

Next we have a collection of basic assumptions, called axioms, which are supposed to reflect the obvious truths about whatever we want to formalize in the formal system.

And then we have some rules of inference. They allow us to derive conclusions from premises. An example would be the rule of modus ponens: If we have "If A then B" and "A", we can conclude "B".

An example of a formal system is ZFC set theory which can be regarded as a formalization of one concept, the concept of a set:

We take "classical predicate logic" as a background formal system, it already has logical symbols, like symbols for AND, OR and "IF ... THEN ..." and quantifiers "FOR ALL ..." and "THERE EXISTS ...".

We enhance this logic with one non-logical symbol, the binary element-of-symbol . With it we want to express the idea that something is an element of something, for example x y is supposed to mean that x is an element of y.

Of course this is a bit simplified, but now we can build expressions (with symbols from the alphabet, according to the grammar for logical formulas plus the element symbol) which talk about the element-of-relationship between individuals.

Next, we sit together at a round table and discuss which properties about sets and element-of or membership of a set we see as self-evident - there is room for discussion and there can be many different intuitions.

For example, as in ZFC set theory, we may want to have some existence axioms. They guarantee us that in this formal system certain objects do exist. An example is the axiom of the empty set: There exists a set which has no elements. This statement can be written in our formal language.

Other axioms may have a more constructive meaning. Instead of telling us that something exists, they say that given the existence of some objects we know the existence of further objects. An example would be the axiom of set unions: Given some arbitrary sets A and B, there exists a set C, which contains all the members of A and all the members of B as its elements. Another axiom asserts the existence of an unordered pair of any two given sets, from this we can define the concept of an ordered pair, which is very important.

ZFC is one example of a set theory, there are many different set theories. You could exchange classical logic with intuitionistic logic and arrive at some formal system for intuitionistic or constructive set theory. You can drop certain axioms, because maybe they do not appear as self-evident to you (for example the axiom of choice, which contributes the "C" in ZFC, is not accepted by some people). You may add further axioms to arrive at a possibly stronger theory.

One interesting aspect about set theory is that the concept of set is very powerful and expressive, because many concepts from modern mathematics can be build up from sets: natural numbers 0,1,2,3,... can be constructed from the empty set, functions can be represented through ordered pairs of sets. Sometimes set theory is regarded as "the foundation of all mathematics", but feel free to disagree! Just because natural numbers can be modelled as sets it is not certain that natural numbers are indeed sets.

The basic pattern above is the formalization of an intuitive or natural concept, something from everyday life. We try to capture the essentials of this concept within a formal system. And then we can use the deductive power of the formal system to arrive at new and hopefully interesting conclusions about whatever we wanted to formalize. These conclusions are theorems. Not all theorems are interesting, some are even confusing, paradox and disppointing. Formalization is used to arrive at new insights about the original concept. Interesting in this context is Carnap and his idea of explication of inexact prescientific concepts:


What I want to express with this is that it is really possible to start your journey into mathematics at a beginning.

ivan_ah 4 days ago 1 reply      
I recommend you start with a review of all the topics from high school math which are not clear to you, e.g. functions, solving equations, geometry, and algebra. This may take some time, but it's totally worth it. Building your math knowledge is like building a house---you want to start from a solid foundation.

Next, the traditional "pillars" of STEM are calculus and mechanics. Calculus will beef-up your skills for understanding and manipulating function. Mechanics is important because it teaches you about modelling real-world phenomena with mathematical equations.

Perhaps of even greater importance are the subjects of probability and linear algebra. Probabilistic reasoning and linear algebra techniques (e.g. eigendecomposition) are used for many applications.

RE problems, I think you should reconsider your stance about that. It is very easy to fall into the "I learned lots of cool stuff today" trap, where you think you're making progress, but actually you haven't integrating the knowledge fully. Solving problems usually will put you outside of your comfort zone and force you to rethink concepts and to form new "paths" between them. That's what you want---ideally the math concepts in your mind to be a fully connected graph. Speaking of graphs, here's a concept map from my book that shows (a subset of) the links between concepts from high school math, physics, calculus, and linear algebra: http://minireference.com/static/tutorials/conceptmap.pdf

Good luck with your studies!

chris_wot 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is what I've read so far (I've been starting from first principles). Basically, I've been reading through the series "Humungous Book of x Problems", having read (and about to read) the following:

1. Humungous Book of Basic Math and Pre-Algebra Problems

2. Humungous Book of Algebra Problems (still actually going through this)

3. Humungous Book of Trigonometry Problems (up to vectors)

4. Will be reading Humungous book of Calculus Problems soon and then the Humungous Book of Geometry Problems.

I know this sounds slanted, but I'm a big fan of these books. However, I also had to do what you did with Trigonometry - one of the extremely irritating things is that nobody teaches you why the names are sine, cosine, tangent, cotangent, secant and cosecant. For me, I had to go to do some elementary research and draw the lines on a circle to understand that sine was "gap" or "bow" (corruption of the original Arabic), tangent was based on tangens (to touch) and secant was based on secans (to cut). Once I worked that out, actually everything started to get rather a lot easier. Sure wish I'd had easy Internet access in high-school and a more adventurous intellect!

learnstats2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked with several adult learners on this but almost no adult is able to learn math just for fun - unless they have a project or crucial examination to work towards. But, you do have a project. You should use that.

I think you're mistaken that your existing tactics won't get you further. This is how most people learn, by trying things out and building on them until they understand what works and what doesn't - standing on the shoulders of giants.

For practical purposes, your satisfactory solutions are a great piece of learning and the start of your understanding. You're maybe experiencing some discomfort about it, but that's normal. Keep going!

P.S. You said "from first principles", which has a specific meaning in math. It's a kind of philosophical ideal in math that you start from nothing (forget about high school math) and carefully and precisely build the subject of mathematics on top. Some of the answers here picked up on that phrase, but it probably isn't relevant to the other interests you mentioned - to do programming or electronics, you will want to build on the knowledge that you have learned already.

mathgenius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect the real answer to your question is "in your own head, and with your own pen and paper." Amazingly, you cannot learn mathematics from reading books. Especially the abstract stuff. It is just too opaque. Not until you start to manipulate the symbols yourself, in your own way, does it start to make sense. Having said that, I would still like to recommend a book to read :-) This is big-boy maths (i am not shitting you), explained with cartoons and a bazillion examples from things like sensor networks, robotics, pattern recognition, electromagnetism, it goes on and on. Just published, but also available for free. I bought several copies. It blows my mind that a mathematician took the time to explain these advanced topics to the mere mortals:

"Elemantary Applied Topology", Robert Ghrist.http://www.math.upenn.edu/~ghrist/notes.html

Although you probably need to have some idea of multi-variate calculus (and linear algebra) before you get started.

SEJeff 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in a not too different situation from yourself as a self taught developer. I spent about 6 months and taught myself most of the mathematics concepts I forgot or never tried hard enough to learn from the Khan Academy. Their mathematics tutorials are excellent.


alfiedotwtf 4 days ago 0 replies      
First principles? You're not going to beat:

It starts with defining what a set is, then builds up from there while being completely contained. No knowledge is assumed and could be enjoyed by someone with high school maths.

tiler 4 days ago 1 reply      
On where to start => I'd start by getting a very solid grasp of graph theory. It is the bedrock of many algorithms and along the way you'll learn all kinds of useful mathematical notation, but in a way that should be easier for you to pick up than plain old 'pure-math.' I've found the following series of videos presented by Donald Knuth, aka The Christmas Tree Lectures, to be incredibly informative and inspirational [1].

Another area of math that you need to know for C.S. related activities is linear algebra. To get started I'd recommend reading 'Coding the Matrix' by Phillip Klein.

[1] => https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoROMvodv4rNMsVRnSJ44...

azmenthe 4 days ago 3 replies      
I wanted to give some recommendations before I hijacked your thread with my own question but I was going to suggest What is Mathematics, How to Prove it and Naive Set Theory which have already have been mentioned.

I'm actually in a related situation in which I'm competent in analysis (bachelors in physics) but I struggle with all the category theory inspired design patterns in functional programming.

Every book/article I've tried to read is either far too mathematical and so is disconnected from programming or is too close to programming and lacking in general foundations (ie: a monad is a burrito).

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions!

Tinned_Tuna 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would highly recommend reading:

  - A Course of Pure Mathematics (G. H. Hardy). I read this before I started my undergrad in CS/Maths. Free Online.  - University Calculus (Hass, et. al.). This was reading for my first year, and continued to be useful throughout. Expensive.  - A Book of Abstract Algebra (Charles C. Pinter). I read this after my degree, but boy, do I wish I'd had it _during_ my degree. Fairly cheap.  - Linear Algebra Done Right (Sheldon Axler). Moderately priced.
I can't remember which of the texts I had on Number Theory were good at this point, but I do remember that it was quite hard to locate one which was tractable. There's a whole heap of fields which I chose to avoid (woo for joint degree!) but now I kinda regret it -- although I wouldn't have easily given up any of the comp. sci. modules I did...

I would always recommend working through Hardy first, regardless of what else you do.

I don't know of any good websites for this stuff. You may be able to find reading lists on public-facing university module/course web pages, which will help bolster this list.

It may be cheaper to buy access to your local uni's library than try to buy all of the above books. The uni I attended is around 70 a year for a non-student.

Your best bet is to get a notebook and the book that interests you most and work through that book, then the next, and so on. If you get stuck, as someone with a maths degree what the heck's going on :-p

dil8 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have found the below links excellent pathways to mastering mathematics. I actually was in the same place as you and started with Spivak Calculus. Now I am back at school studying mathematics :P



spc476 4 days ago 1 reply      
I found "Mathematics for the Millions" (http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Million-Master-Magic-Numbe...) to be a very interesting read. It goes through the history of math, how it was discovered and used, from ancient Egypt (geometry) to the 1600s (Calculus) and shows the progression of thought.
plinkplonk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Learn how to prove theorems. "How to Prove It" by Velleman is the best book for this (imho). (Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/How-Prove-It-Structured-Approach/dp/05...)

More good advice at http://scattered-thoughts.net/blog/2014/11/15/humans-should-...

brandonmenc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Mathematics: Its Content, Methods and Meaning by Aleksandrov, Kolmogorov, and Lavrent'ev


Covers something like three years of an undergraduate degree in mathematics. Lots of words - but that text is used to develop an understanding of the concepts and images. Considered a masterpiece. An enjoyable read.

RohanAlexander 4 days ago 0 replies      
'The Nature and Origins of Modern Mathematics: an Elementary Introduction' could be a nice complement to the suggestions already here. It's very much first principles, but in a comprehensive and interesting way. You can download it here:http://cupid.economics.uq.edu.au/mclennan/NatureOrigins/natu...
senderista 2 days ago 0 replies      
It presupposes a certain degree of mathematical maturity, but Robert Geroch's _Mathematical Physics_ (don't let the title fool you!) has the most intuitive explanations (with diagrams) I've ever seen of definitions, concepts, and proofs. It's roughly at the first-year grad level, but is almost completely self-contained, and uses category theory to motivate the entire organization of the book (whatever object is being treated in the current chapter generally has a forgetful functor to an object in the previous chapter).
tfont 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a beautiful post! I'm loving what I am reading and the suggestions seem quite insightful :]

I am not sure if any of the following books were recommendation already:

- Carl B. Boyer - A History of Mathematics- William Dunham - Journey Through Genius- Philip J. Davi & Reuben Hersh - The Mathematical Experience- Martin Aigner & Gnter M. Ziegler - Proofs from the Book- Imre Lakatos - Proofs and Refutations- Robert M. Young - Excursions in Calculus: An Interplay of the Continuous and the Discrete- Courant & Robbins - What is Mathematics?- George Plya - How to Solve It- Morris Kline - Klines Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty

More or less a general deep understanding of Mathematics but will definitely give you a boost in a direction that you will favor.

jckt 4 days ago 1 reply      
You seem quite resourceful so you might enjoy MetaMath[1]. This is, in my opinion, literally learning mathematics from first principles. Well, it's not really learning mathematics (insofar that lot of the concepts won't be particularly novel), but it's really showing you the "first principles" of mathematics, and how you can build that up into other stuff.

If you feel like MetaMath is your kinda thing, do visit the FAQ; it's quite good (and virtually required reading if you're going to do this alone).

Admittedly, it's not going to give you the tools suited for solving problems of antenna designs, or enlighten you about electromagnetism, but if you're into just pure recreational mathematics, it's worth a look.

[1] http://us.metamath.org/index.html

rankam 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you are looking for calculus one resources, Jim Fowler's Calculus One Coursera course is great, IMHO. I watched the videos at 2x speed (I found he speaks very slow, which can be great at times) and was able to complete it in a couple of weeks. The best part was that it didn't seem like he tried to "dumb it down". I would also recommend reading one of the many books others have suggested while taking the course - I've found that I learn much better when I hear topics explained in different ways and from different perspectives. Best of luck!


j2kun 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is a shameless plug for my own blog, [Math Programming](http://jeremykun.com/). The difficulty ranges in how much mathematical background you need, but there are also some primers aimed at programmers, starting from this [essay](http://jeremykun.com/2013/02/08/why-there-is-no-hitchhikers-...).

I'd really love feedback from you on what you found approachable and what you found unapproachable.

iyogeshjoshi 4 days ago 0 replies      
here I also found this website http://codingmath.com where they only teaches you math and how to apply it to program i found it very interesting. you should give it a try too.
CurtMonash 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite first-year calculus text by far is Michael Spivak's Calculus. When I was in school in the 1970s, he was by common consensus THE great and differentiated writer of math books -- but that was based on a small sample size, and Calculus is the only one that should be in this discussion.

There were a lot of other books back then that I think of as likely to have been the best in their time, but those were all more in the vein of texts for classes that I just happened to feel served me well.

saintx 4 days ago 0 replies      
"A Source Book in Mathematics" by David Eugene Smith. ISBN 0486646904.

Short description:The writings of Newton, Leibniz, Pascal, Riemann, Bernoulli, and others in a comprehensive selection of 125 treatises dating from the Renaissance to the late 19th century most unavailable elsewhere. Grouped in five sections: Number; Algebra; Geometry; Probability; and Calculus, Functions, and Quaternions. Includes a biographical-historical introduction for each article.

cwhy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Other people have given very good suggestions. But just mention that there is not any first principles for mathematics, that is an active area for research for pure math.

There are a lot of layers of mathematics, the deeper you get, the more difficult it becomes. But for normal applications (like antenna design, machine learning, electromagnetism, cryptography etc), you don't need to get to the deepest level, which are mostly proofs for a formulation of the whole mathematics framework.

playing_colours 4 days ago 0 replies      
Many people here advised Algebra Done Right by Sheldon Axler. There is 3rd edition of this book available now in electronic form, and paper books will be available in a week. They are just beautiful, colour: http://www.springer.com/mathematics/algebra/book/978-3-319-1... .
ArkyBeagle 4 days ago 2 replies      
There is some distance from this to antenna design, electromagnetism, etc, but I think you have to be fluent in proofs to actually follow along on those. Math is a big subject; ymmv.

A Transition to Advanced Mathematics by Douglas Smith (Author), Maurice Eggen (Author), Richard St. Andre (Author)

ISBN-13: 978-0495562023 ISBN-10: 0495562025 Edition: 7th

It shows up on Abebooks which could help with the price. It's a small book, exceedingly well-crafted and worth every nickel.

timwaagh 4 days ago 0 replies      
you will need time. lots of time. I dont think its worth it.

you need to start off with- logic and set theory. an introduction to proofs (level 0). something on (proofs in) classical geometry.- then linear algebra. (level 1)- group theory (fe Joe Armstrongs book) and an introductory (real, single-variate) analysis course. also probability theory (I'd recommend Meester's book) (level 2)- calculus, rings & galois theory, topology (fe Munkres) (level 3)- complex analysis, (and other stuff I didnt even pass) (level 4)

I'd recommend buying one book at a time and working through the entire thing, all the problems. It can quickly become too difficult if you try paralellize. But it can actually be a good experience to do one thing well.

oh yeah. the payoff of this stuff isnt very good. take it from a guy coding php for 10 euro / hour. so another warning not to do this.

Calculus is usually taught early because physicists need to know it as well but it depends on other things so if you do this early you will not really understand.

phonon 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would check out

Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers by Jan Gullberg

Beautiful book, goes from the counting numbers to partial differential equations. It's also a delight to read.

I would start that as a survey of mathematical concepts, and then move on to a good math engineering/physics textbook, like Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences by Mary L. Boas

jeremyis 4 days ago 0 replies      
I went from being a below average math student in high school to a really good one and it started by reading this text book and doing the problems in the back: http://www.amazon.com/Stewart-Redlin-Watsons-College-Algebra...
rajeshpillai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apart from all the great replies, here, do try out http://betterexplained.com/ (Many things are free here, you wont' be at a loss, checking this site).

It has some nice aha! moments in math study.

begriffs 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you really want to go back to first principles, try "Foundations of Analysis" by Edmund Landau. It builds the integers, fractions, Dedekind cuts, and the real and complex numbers from scratch.

It's totally rigorous and starts from, "the ability to read English and to think logically -- no high-school mathematics, and certainly no advanced mathematics."

sudorank 4 days ago 0 replies      
I started to learn maths again in university. The library was a great place to learn the history of it (I started to get into the history of Encryption)

As for learning how to do stuff with maths. I'm a huge fan of being taught it - then again i'm the sort of learner who really gains when showed how to do something and then left to practice.

TimSchumann 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all." - Pierre-Simon Laplace

Seriously though, 'Euler: The Master of Us All' by William Dunham was the book that got it going for me. Good mix of history, narrative and mathematics. Really great read.

As an aside, it's absolutely fascinating to learn how much we don't know about maths.

kikowi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am also interested in getting better at math, especially algorithmic type of math. I though about playing TopCoder arena, which focuses on algorithmic problems and often requires a lot of math. What do you guys think about this approach? Is it realistic to solve those problems with google as primary resource of knowledge and get better at algorithmic math?
galeos 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can recommend 'Who is Fourier?' By the Transnational College of Lex. It assumes very little prior knowledge and introduces the reader to, among others, the concepts of trigonometry, calculus, imaginary numbers, logarithms and Fourier analysis.

I wish I'd known about this book when I was studying maths at school.

amathstudent 4 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps you might enjoy an essay I wrote on this very topic, based on my experiences of learning math on my own for 5 years: https://medium.com/@amathstudent/learning-math-on-your-own-3...
mathattack 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a bit of a divergence, but a fun way to practice what you learn is Project Euler, which will link it to your programming. https://projecteuler.net/ It's more of an applied problem set of increasing difficulty than learning from first principles though.
amdcpus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always buy my books from amazon. You should try them out.http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_tl?ie=UTF...
ryanlbrown 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm trying to do this too right now. I've found this course on real analysis to be very helpful (I suggest watching it sped up though):


sekon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for putting this question. I too hope to do this someday .. I am stuck with knowing what are the fundamental topics so that i can apply what i learn to as many domain as i see fit, with minimal learning of basic concepts.I have unfortunately not made that much headway.
doublewhy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stanford has a great online course titled "How to Learn Math". It doesn't answer your question directly, but explains what approach should you take to learn math effectively. Course is very short, just 6 lessons by 20 minutes each.
pmalynin 4 days ago 0 replies      
For those whore are still in University, consider taking a proof-based calculus course, the methods and rigor you learn there will help you learn more. The same can be said for a proof based linear algebra course, which for programmers is even more useful.
blablabla123 4 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised to not read it here yet, but if you are really serious about it, read the Bourbaki books: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Bourbaki
paraboul 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in 3D programming, you want to learn linear algebra.

An excellent book that can teach you the basics (from trigonometry to advanced linear algebra) is "3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development".

dominotw 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think programming or electronics require you have advanced mathematical knowledge. Can you cite an example of things you got stumped on?
barry-cotter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Betterexplained.com has many very good intuitive explanations of mathematical concepts. Elements by the publishers of Dragonbox will give you reasonable intuition for geometry. If you just want to use calculus Silvanus P. Thom(p?)son's Calculus Made Easy is excellent. Linear Algebra Done Right and LAD Wrong are both good books. LADW is free, legally.

The Art of Problem Solving series of books are uniformly excellent.

iyogeshjoshi 4 days ago 0 replies      
you can visit http://functionspace.org or Khanacademy.org both side provide amazing stuff like video lectures, materials, articles etc for all level starting from very beginner to advance to Experts. Good luck :
humility 2 days ago 0 replies      
one of the best of hacker news!
Datsundere 4 days ago 0 replies      
you should do courses on coursera.
graycat 4 days ago 0 replies      
Take the standard path.

High School

Algebra I

Plane geometry (with emphasis on proofs)

Algebra II


Solid geometry (if can get a course in it --terrific for intuition and techniquesin 3D)


Analytic geometry (conic sections)

Calculus I and II

Linear algebra

Linear algebra II, Halmos, Finite DimensionalVector Spaces (baby version of Hilbert spacetheory)

Advanced calculus, e.g., baby Rudin, Principlesof Mathematical Analysis -- nice treatmentof Fourier series, good for signals in electronicengineering. The first chapters are about continuity, uniform continuity, andcompactness which are the main tools usedto prove the sufficient conditions for theRiemann integral to exist. At the end Rudinshows that the Riemann integral exists if and only if the function is continuouseverywhere but on a set of measure zero.But what Rudin does there at the beginningwith metric spaces is more general thanhe needs for the Riemann integral but isimportant later in more general treatmentsin analysis. Rudin does sequences andseries because they are standard ways todefine and work with some of the importantspecial functions, especially the exponentialand sine and cosine further on in the book.The material in the back on exterior algebra is for peopleinterested in differential geometry, especiallyfor relativity theory.

Ordinary differential equations, e.g.,Coddington, a beautifully written book,Coddington and Levinson ismuch more advanced) -- now can do basicAC circuit theory like eating ice cream.

Advanced calculus from one or several more traditionalbooks, e.g., the old MIT favorite Hildebrand,Advanced Calculus for Applications,Fleming, Functions of Several Variables,Buck, Advanced Calculus -- can now lookat Maxwell's equations and understand at leastthe math. And can work with the gradientfor steepest descent in the maximum likelihoodapproach to machine learning.

Maybe take a detour into differential geometryso that can see why Rudin, Fleming, etc. doexterior algebra, and why Halmos does multi-linearalgebra, and then will have a starton general relativity.

Royden, Real Analysis. So willlearn measure theory, crucial forgood work in probability and stochasticprocesses, and get a start on functionalanalysis (vector spaces where each pointis a function -- good way to see how to usesome functions to approximate others).Also will learn about linear operatorsand, thus, get a solid foundation forlinear systems in signal processing andmore.

Rudin, Real and Complex Analysis,at least the first, real, half.Here will get a good start onthe Fourier transform.

Breiman, Probability -- beautifullywritten, even fun to read. Measuretheory based probability. If that is too big a step up in probability,then take a fast pass through someelementary treatment of probabilityand statistics and then get back toBreiman for the real stuff. Willfinally see what the heck a randomvariable really is and cover the importantcases of convergence and the importantclassic limit theorems. Will understandconditioning, the Radon-Nikodym theorem(von Neumann's proof is in Rudin, R&CA),conditioning, the Markov assumption,and martingales and the astoundingmartingale convergence theorem and the martingale inequality, the strongestin mathematics. So will see thatwith random variables, can look forindependence, Markov dependence, andcovariance dependence, and theseforms of dependence, common inpractice, can lead to approximation,estimation, etc.

Now will be able to understand EEtreatments of second order stationarystochastic processes, digital filtering,power spectral estimation, etc.

Stochastic processes, e.g., Karatzas and Shreve. Brownian Motionand Stochastic Calculus. Now canget started on mathematical finance.

But there are many side trips availablein numerical methods, linear programming,Lagrange multipliers (a surprisingly general technique), integer programming(a way to see the importance ofP versus NP), mathematical statistics,partial differential equations, mathematical finance, etc.

For some ice cream, Luenberger, Optimizationby Vector Space Methods or how to learnto love the Hahn-Banach theorem and useit to become rich, famous, and popularwith girls!

bobsadinook 4 days ago 1 reply      




good luck!

Plough_Jogger 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've had the exact same question.
Ask HN: I have 8 months of video advertising in Japan. Ideas on what to display?
13 points by harisenbon  3 days ago   10 comments top 9
junto 5 hours ago 0 replies      
- Create a set of puzzles

- Use each ad spot to advertise a website link

- Each website has a puzzle

- You need to solve each puzzle to get the the final answer

- The winner is the first person to fill in their details, and maybe upload a photo or video

- The last advertising spot shows that video/photo

richsherwood 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would say do something that either a) becomes an integral part of people's day. Something they look forward to seeing every day. Who knows. That could be as simple as inspirational quotes to some gimmick that people will love. Or b) something cryptic. A puzzle like someone else mentioned. One that that's a lot of people involved and creates a lot of buzz. I am not sure what your resources are like but perhaps you could offer a prize at the end. That will have the added benefit of creating some buzz for your company if you so choose to brand yourself with this. Have some fun with this. You could always sell the space but if you're intent on avoiding that then I commend you and wish I was in your position because you could definitely do something awesome with this opportunity.
Jeremy1026 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd sell it. You could probably get a couple hundred per day, more if you really pushed it.
crazypyro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Display a different computer error every day.

Bonus points for the most archaic programs' error screens.

JacobAldridge 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are (roughly) 192 countries in the world.

It's a bit of an effort, but you could find an interesting fact[1] about each one, overlay on a creative commons photos from that country (or the national flag; or a map), and share the rest of the world with daily commuters. You'll even have a few days left at the end - maybe add a similar concept for each Japanese Prefecture.

[1] Or some statistics. Or even some simple phrases ("Good morning"; "have a nice day") in the local language.

pauleddie 2 days ago 0 replies      

(a) Teach a new english word each day.

(b) advertise yourself/services

(c) Read a storey

8 months = ~243 days = ~1 hour of reading you could do, maybe a public domain short story

endemic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some self promotion might be in order. I like the idea of a "word of the day" sort of blurb, but of course with your face and website.

Otherwise, a sub-lease (so to speak) could be nice as well.

junto 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about some wonderful cryptic set of puzzles, where you provide website links that have new puzzles they have to solve before they can continue the puzzle.
joezydeco 2 days ago 0 replies      
Write an app that sells 100x100 pixel blocks or animated GIFs?
       cached 8 December 2014 21:05:02 GMT