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Ask HN: Planning to leave. How best to handle stock options?
132 points by throwaway68080  5 hours ago   85 comments top 25
aguynamedben 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've done this before. Don't underestimate the opportunities that talking with the CEO (and board members) about your situation may present, especially if you're on good terms with the company, have dutifully served for 7 years, and it makes sense for you to move on. Existing friendly investors in the company may be interested in owning more stock in the company and may purchase your stock in a transaction the CEO is okay with. You could explain the tax liability and that you've served dutifully for 7 years, and potentially exercise and sell enough of your options so that you have enough cash on hand to cover the tax liability for your further exercise.

This is all in an ideal situation. How you communicate and play your cards with the CEO will matter a lot.

OliverJones 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It's possible your options expire 90 days after you leave the company's employment, or some such thing. I suspect that's the case. It doesn't make sense to just walk away from those options, though.

Ask the company's CFO or somebody if there's any way they can buy back some of your shares at or near market price. If they can do this, or if they can let you sell them to a third party, you can sell enough shares to raise the cash to cover your tax liability and hang on to the rest.

Or, maybe the company can grant you an exception to the "exercise it or lose it" rule that kicks in when you leave. You won't know unless you ask.

You have some leverage. With the number of shares you have, they'll probably need you to cooperate in any transaction they carry out.

ESOFund is a possibility. But your company has to be a participant. And, they grab some of the upside and a lot of the downside.

At any rate, you probably should get yourself a decent tax accountant (or maybe lawyer) to help you navigate this. It's worth paying for top-drawer advice. That person will know how to recommend an honest EOFund-like broker if that's the route you go.

(Congratulations in advance, by the way!)

not_that_noob 3 hours ago 1 reply      
In your situation, the company holds most of the cards, including if you are allowed to sell your shares to another party. I would talk with an attorney to see how your share docs are structured, and then explore how to work with the company to get value for your shares. For example, they might let you sell to an investor who really wants in. Keep in mind that the funding round valuation is somewhat irrelevant to you, as that was derived from the price of preferred shares, which have more privileges than your (likely) common shares.

The company will be motivated to do the right thing by you, to avoid litigation and spooking current and prospective employees. You might not get all the value you might have hoped for, but likely most.

austenallred 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I know this isn't the advice you're looking for, but since at least $X00,000 (and most likely $X,000,000) is at stake you should definitely talk to a lawyer.
mcfunley 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I was in a similar situation two years ago. I'd advise having both a plan and a backup plan before you pull the trigger on leaving.

This is generally pretty good, if verbose:


Talk to esofund and friends ahead of time, and see what their offers for your company's stock are, and make sure they're acceptable to you if you think you'll have to go that route.

Don't count on definitely being able to sell the stock to finance the taxes. I left after seven years in very good standing (I believed) but when I went to sell the deal was shut down [1]. Luckily I had a backup plan and I was ok [2].

[1] Had a handshake deal with an investor in the company, then the investor went silent on me. When I followed up he said the deal was "just much too small." I reached out to the company for help, and they said they'd actually told him not to buy from me. I never would have known if they hadn't decided to tell me for some reason. The takeaway is that the markets for private company stock tend to be small, and the buyers care more about their relationships with the company than they do about having your shares. Even if the stock terms allow them to buy, and they might not.

[2] However I was trying to sell for roughly double the current (public market) price. The private/public valuation gap is real! Don't put too much stock (haha) in the value at the last tender offer. If you can sell privately at close to that price it's possibly smart.

steven2012 2 hours ago 1 reply      
At this point, if there is no way to sell those shares that you exercise immediately, it makes the most sense to bide your time (EDIT: ie. not leave) and wait for the IPO. It might be 1-2 years, but if it means giving up a millions of dollars, I would just tough it out. Don't think that these opportunities come all the time, this is your chance to make a lifetime's worth of money, you hit the lottery so don't squander this opportunity. 1-2 years more won't be a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
stockaway 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I approached ESOfund in the past, and did not ultimately use them, but not by any fault of theirs. They were very professional, helpful, and knowledgeable about my options and provided very good information about my available choices, even ones that wouldn't benefit them (I did extensive independent research on the decisions available and on their suggestions).

I believe their mission statement is to take the risk for you, which includes AMT if necessary, in exchange for some percentage of your stock to be negotiated. There's no risk in reaching out.

As far as AMT, I believe (off-hand) it's 18% of all income if it would be greater than your existing tax burden. So if you make $100,000 and are currently taxed 30%, your current tax is $30,000. If you exercise stock (where the gain is difference between your equity plan and the value as of the latest 409A, multiplied by the number of options exercised), that counts against AMT.

In this case, $18,000 would be your normal income against AMT, and you could gain another $12,000 in AMT without paying any more. This means gaining approximately $66,000 in value from the exercise without paying additional taxes. You would pay 18% on the rest of the value gain. For another $1,000,000, you'd pay on the order of $180,000.

Note: talk to someone who does this professionally, perhaps a tax attorney, as my word is from memory based on my research from a while ago.

If you believe in your company, or at least believe the stock will be liquid, I absolutely recommend finding a way to exercise your stock. All the better if you don't take a tax burden.

I also found out there's some kind of tax thing where you can preemptively exercise options (at grant time?) which won't be taxed as a gain because the value hasn't changed, then you just get the options as they vest (though it's a little late for that now :P)

zippy 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
I would call the IRS up and ask them what a payment plan would be like for an n million dollar liability, and then weigh whether that scenario is worth the exercise. Because at this point, this is a question of risk tolerance, and risk vs reward.

For some people, a lifetime of debt, no matter what the possible reward, is unbearable, whatever the odds of the outcome. For others, who feel this is their best shot at wealth, and who are comfortable with the risk, it's an easy choice to buy the options.

But yes, get a tax advisor who is familiar with this specific situation (exercising stock in whatever state/country you live in, e.g California) and find out what the various scenarios are.

Anecdote: I and co-workers of mine have been in this scenario. It worked out for some and was a burden for others. Good luck!

jayzalowitz 3 hours ago 2 replies      
At the very least, wait till Jan 1. That gives you an entire year for the stock to become liquid / sell.
ksenzee 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As you say, one possibility is to exercise your options, then sell the shares on the secondary market before IPO. It's worth at least talking to a company like Sharespost about whether those shares would be salable. They can give you an idea of what other employees have sold their pre-IPO shares for, and whether your employer allowed the sale.

I also second the advice about at least waiting until January 1, so you have another year to let the stock mature.

And if ever there were a time to talk to a tax accountant, that time is now.

payne92 1 hour ago 0 replies      
First, talk with a lawyer and an accountant. The at-stake amounts are large enough that's short money.

Second, I'd strongly consider doing some/all of this after Jan 1. That will put your ISO+AMT tax into 2016, which will push your tax bill on this transaction to April 2017. (It may make sense to do a smaller amount before year end, depending on your current AMT situation).

(And make sure you make estimated payments (plus withholding) for 2016 that exceed 110% of your 2015 bill -- that way, you can kick the final bill all the way to April 2017).

Finally, the penalty for paying late is not THAT bad: given the amount of money, it may make sense to file in April 2017, pay what you can, and work out a payment plan with the IRS. You are not the first to have this scenario happen.

voxy_dale 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I did this exact thing last year, so a couple of things to be aware of. Firstly, many companies will not allow you to sell the shares to another party without their permission. You can talk to them about this but realistically, unless they generally allow this, they are unlikely to make an exception for you since it sets a precedent within the company, but you can try. Might be good to talk to a lawyer about this. Secondly, by exercising you will very probably expose yourself to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). If you don't know what this is, look it up as this can be VERY expensive. So, before doing any of this I would really talk to an accountant and possibly to a lawyer.
zinssmeister 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You can exercise a portion rather than your entire batch of options.

You can possibly arrange with the IRS to pay your tax bill over time.

You can find a buyer that will allow you to sell right after exercise.

phillytom 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Note there are other firms that are in this space as well - Akkadian Ventures, Founders Circle, 137 Ventures, and VSL. That said, I can't speak from experience on any of them.

Having the CEO (and the board) in your corner on this will make the likliehood of a good outcome for you better.

erichurkman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you happen to be at one of the companies that will turn your vested shares into an NSO for 2 - 7 years? For example, Pinterest [0] quite famously started to offer in the last year.

[0] http://www.businessinsider.com/pinterest-stock-options-7-yea...

gyardley 2 hours ago 0 replies      
No experience with ESOfund, but I've worked with brokers before to sell some of my illiquid, private company stock on the secondary market. It really depends on what restrictions have been placed on your stock. If you can sell some of your stock to cover your tax obligations, that's a decent way to go.

E-mail me if you want, I'm happy to chat about the situation / introduce you to the brokers I worked with.

eloisant 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd say don't exercise them if you're not prepared to lose all the money you put in.

Calculate the expected gain in the best base to see if it's worth taking the risk. If there's a chance you become a millionnaire if the company does well, then maybe it's worth the risk. If at best you can do a x2, maybe not.

I've seen tons on company ending up on a low-ball exit (i.e. sold for less than what was invested) and see all common stocks nullified so the investors can recoup some of their loss.

gesman 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Certainly the risk of $X0,000 is here.

"Valued" has no meaning unless the company is publicly traded or there is a qualified exit.

There must be a marketplace to "sell" tax bills for a chunk of options?

jeffmould 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am neither an accountant or lawyer, but this may help:


I can't speak for ESOFund, or similar companies, as I have never used them. My best recommendation would be to talk to a tax accountant and explore your options. You may also consider a secondary market sale now if you are allowed by your company.

rpedela 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Public or private company? Are you able to sell the shares immediately after exercising the options?
seattle_spring 4 hours ago 0 replies      
He will be on the hook for an absolutely huge AMT tax bill.
sjg007 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Are they ISOs or NSOs? If ISOs and you buy in first 30 days then you pay no taxes until you sell (and hold for 2 years from grant date, 1 year after exercise). But check that with an accountant or tax person. If NSOs then you have to pay tax on the gain.
epynonymous 4 hours ago 1 reply      
you'll still take home a large payout even after taxes have been deducted, i would not worry about that, would be more worried about when/if the company either goes public or gets acquired.
ranman 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: A holiday favor, please?
5 points by jason_slack  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
dutchbrit 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
I was thinking about sending one too
t3ra 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Lets do this guys :D going to send one tomorrow :D
Ask HN: Frameworks optimised for PHP 7?
2 points by dutchbrit  48 minutes ago   discuss
Ask HN: C, C++, or Rust which language to learn next?
4 points by backslash_16  1 hour ago   5 comments top 4
jbandela1 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Learn C++. You will have the opportunity to learn low-level features but know how to wrap them up inside highly performant, high-level components.

Rust is interesting, but I think it will remain an interesting language outside the mainstream without any major commercial backers (Mozilla does not count). In addition, C++ is taking a lot of the ideas from Rust and incorporating them along with tooling that will provide 95+% of the value of Rust while still keeping the advantages of C++ (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEx5DNLWGgA)

What is interesting with C++ is that although a lot of vendors are pushing their own languages - Microsoft with C#, Apple with Swift, Google with Go, Facebook with Hack, Mozilla with Rust - they are all deeply involved with C++ because C++ powers their mission-critical code. Another way of putting it would be that despite all the promotion if all of Mozilla's Rust code were eliminated tomorrow nobody would notice, but if all of Mozilla's C++ code were eliminated, it would cease to exist.

Also, C++ is rapidly evolving and by learning Modern C++ 14 now, you can avoid a lot of the mistakes of C++ that were common in the past and write safe, elegant code. C++ is also experiencing a renaissance (see https://www.jetbrains.com/cpp/cpp-today-oreilly/). C++ is now the one high-level language that is natively supported by the system vendor across Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, XBox, and Playstation.

nostrademons 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
Assuming your purpose is learning rather than writing a practical project, I would go in the order of C => C++ => Rust. Each of them builds on concepts of the previous.

It is easier to learn C++ if you already know the distinction between value vs. pointer types, if you're already familiar with C syntax, if you already know how to manage memory manually, and if you already know how to use functions, function pointers, and opaque types to create an API. C will teach you all of those.

It is easier to learn Rust if you already know about RAII, ownership, generics, both run-time and compile-time polymorphism, and move semantics. C++ will teach you all of those (in its C++11 and C++14 variants, at least).

untothebreach 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't think you need to learn C and C++ as a prerequisite for learning Rust, but I still think C is worth learning. The concepts that you would learn with C++ can be learned just as well by learning Rust, so I would skip C++ if I were you.

If you decide to learn Rust, the Book[1] is, I think, the best way for you get started, seeing as you already have experience programming.

1: http://doc.rust-lang.org/book/

tjr 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm currently starting a new project in C++, because various logistics conspire together to make that the ideal choice. If that weren't the case, well, I personally do not like C++ much, though sticking with C++11 style over older C++ paradigms seems like an improvement.

Just picking a low-level systems language for my own fun and edification, I'd still learn C because it is so ubiquitous, but I for one hope that something more like Rust is the future.

Learning Simple Algorithms from Examples
7 points by kkurach  3 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: Web development business workflow?
4 points by botterra  2 hours ago   5 comments top 3
jamesdelaneyie 2 hours ago 1 reply      
1. Take who the client is, think about how much I like the job, how technically hard it is, how long I'd be at it and the deadline they want and a few other variables then pick a figure from the air that seems good.

2. Word of mouth or chatting to people in person.

3. Fuck no. Faster for me to build a custom site than to wrangle with someone's theme that's been built for the lowest common denominator.

4. A good SEO setup is included in the cost, but I don't write the headlines, meta desc, etc. If I am, that's extra.

Agency for 2 years, Freelance for about 5 in total.

nilmonibasak 2 hours ago 0 replies      
1. For projects pricing time and your hourly rate. 2. Getting projects try elance.com/freelancer.com/guru.com 3. Depending on your clients.
brudgers 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Your English is fine and learning is an important part of Hacker News.
Ask HN: How did you determine if you and cofounder could work together?
2 points by a_lifters_life  3 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN: How does Apple and other companies prevent leaks?
4 points by mkristian  4 hours ago   3 comments top 2
runjake 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Strict compartmentalization.

In Apple's case, this is well-documented in several public articles and books, such as the Jobs biographies and any of the "expose" articles that come out the week of a new iPhone release.

mydpy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Game development companies do not allow cell phones. Email encryption and monitoring. Disabling USB ports and other means of transmitting digital content. Strict compartmentalization with a rigid organization structure.
Tell HN: Peter Roberts, immigration lawyer for YC, will do an AMA this Friday
150 points by dang  23 hours ago   21 comments top 12
guillegette 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to hear at least the basics for a non-US/Canadian citizen:1. you get an interview with YC, which visa should I get? B1/B2? purpose of travel?2. you get into YC for 3 months, again, what kind of visa? purpose of travel?3. you get +$1M in seed round, how do you stay?4. you get $5M in series A, how do I live there?


supervillain 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't have a bachelor's degree, Asian and already 13 years out of college, now a family man and going back to college to get my degree is not an option (since I'm working to provide for my family), is there a possibility for me to work or start a company in the US?
patcon 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope someone asks about cruise ships situated in international waters. I love it when serious people entertain crazy ideas, and I feel like Peter must have thoughts on that
ukd1 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This is pretty sensitive, any chance of you taking anonymous questions and posting them, or should ppl just make a throw-away?
cjbarber 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Peter Roberts is fantastically helpful, for what it's worth. I expect that this will be great.
kemitchell 20 hours ago 0 replies      
> He has a long record of success in difficult cases and is good at explaining things.

Make sure he gets to read that. Warms a lawyer's heart.

hpagey 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope someone asks about ppl starting and working for their own companies on B1/B2 visas.
elvinyung 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it literally impossible for a Canadian without a bachelor's degree to work at or start a company in the US?
pavornyoh 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome.. Looking forward to it.
sudhirj 12 hours ago 1 reply      
So where will the AMA happen? Is there already a link up or will it be posted on HN when it starts?
canadiancreed 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Sweet it starts as soon as I get off work to boot.
haydenlee 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Much appreciated!
Tell HN: New Uber user, Saturday night surge $200 to get home
8 points by hoodoof  22 hours ago   16 comments top 4
arnold_palmur 6 hours ago 0 replies      
May or may not be relevant, but if I recall correctly, you can actually inquire with Uber whether or not your driver took the most optimal route, in which case they will refund you the difference.
davismwfl 22 hours ago 1 reply      
So I like to look at it a different way, not to say $200 doesn't hurt either way.

But my thought is what would a DUI have cost me, or worse, what damage could I have done to someone else or their family. $200 feels wrong until I say damn, I am home safe, no one got hurt and yea it might suck a little but way cheaper then a lawyer or living with hurting someone else. Just a thought.

horofox 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess Uber isn't good in every city and location. Maybe a good idea would be to research about the cheapest way you go back home after having a great night before you get drunk.
Albright 22 hours ago 1 reply      
How much would it have cost you for a standard taxi?
Ask HN: What do I do with my written book?
4 points by graham1776  2 hours ago   5 comments top 2
JSeymourATL 20 minutes ago 1 reply      
>I have written an advice/career book...

You didn't mention 'why' you wrote this book. Was there a particular goal in mind? We're you trying to help a specific type of person?

You might find some useful take-aways from Tim Ferriss on the subject of publishing> http://fourhourworkweek.com/tag/self-publishing/

Albright 2 hours ago 1 reply      
A standard self-published e-book model, which sort of combines many of the options you mention above, is along these lines.

First, put the e-book up on Gumroad and/or Amazon or the like, or set up an e-commerce site to sell it yourself (better margins; more work). Also set up a mailing list through MailChimp or the like.

Set up a site about the book, with a blog. Publish a few articles in the blog on the same content that your book is about (but not articles directly from the book itself; you don't want people who buy the book to feel ripped off). In the site's sidebar and at the end of each article, prompt people for their email address to receive a sample chapter of the book and sign up for a mailing list to receive new articles about the topic directly to their inbox for free. Now, as you continue to add new blog posts to the site - twice every month or so - publish them to the mailing list as well.

Finally, end each blog post/mailing list article with a call to action to buy the book. The article will establish your expertise on the subject, and as they're added to your site, will build up your SEO and start driving traffic from search terms related to your topic.

Eventually, if people are interested in your book, write another one. Hey, now you've got a voluntary mailing list full of people interested in your topic to advertise your new book to - it should have much better sales initially than your first one.

Wash, rinse, repeat. I haven't actually done this myself, but it seems to work for a lot of people.

How safe is it to contribute code to privacy/security tools like Tor?
7 points by ayjz  1 day ago   3 comments top 2
atmosx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Allegedly the NSA tried to spy[1] a Tor developer in the past. That said, I believe that contributing to such a product would figure nicely on any CV.

[1] https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140124/10564825981/nsa-i...

x0rz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tor is still mostly funded by US govt, why would they publicly harass you with contributing?

Only advice if you fear any backlash is to contribute Anonymously. Using Tor and a unique nickname.

Ask HN: How to start solving binary challenges in a CTF
8 points by raven_stark  1 day ago   4 comments top 4
kiloreux 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since you already know how to use GDB and you're familiar with Assembly, Now i don't know how much Assembly you know, but you need to know how programs execute in memory, (stack , heap , syscalls.....), and once you have that clear in your mind, try to draw a map of thoughts about the logic of execution of this binary (it will be pretty simple, since it's generally small programs), look for the points and weaknesses in the logic that you might attack, one tool i use frequently is [0]peda, also using some visual gdb extension would be really helpful for you instead of checking and looking every time on how registers change values, sometimes a little knowledge about how compilers work and the OS you're working on will be really helpful although the binaries are independent in most cases, but extra knowledge is always useful.[0]https://github.com/longld/peda
ismailamca 5 hours ago 0 replies      
if you are comfortable with gdb go with it or else i generally prefer hexdump, objdump and radare2 over gdb (for linux pwnables). i really like radare2, and ctfs generally come with radare nowadays.

however, i think, the most important thing about cracking challenges is your knowledge, you need to learn the paltforms, the architecture, possible vulnerabilities and exploitation of all. so you may benefit reading some vulnzines like phrack and valhalla, some vxforums or papers from exploit-db. also there are very nice books where you can learn basic exploitation techniques(shellcoders handbook, hacking the art of exploitation, etc...). these may be useful if you really have the basic aspects, if you aren't comfortable with shell(bash, sh, zsh, etc..) you should get comfortable with them at the begining.

also you need to learn some c and another scripting language(like python, perl, ruby, lua etc...) for effective cracking (in *nixes).

and don't use windows, it makes you lazy.

also you can take these courses, that would be a marvelous start http://www.opensecuritytraining.info/

<IMPORTANT!> before starting these please ask yourself, why do you do this to yourself? go and get a (girl|boy)friend instead of this. the security field is such a H! hole and endless.

TL;DR: go with radare, and crack this challenges first >> https://exploit-exercises.com/

hatsunearu 1 day ago 0 replies      

nuff said. Hands on exercises through MSP430 hackmes. Only problem is that it won't hold your hand through it other than the first one, and you may need to read online solutions to kinda get the hang of it.

That's how I learned ASM RE, and I tried x86 hackme's in a hackathon and I came out first. I have completed less than 10 microcorruption challenges. So there's that.

ryan-c 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like IO from http://smashthestack.org/ - IOARM is also a lot of fun.
Ask HN: What are the recruitment tools/plugins used by startups?
4 points by himanshuy  1 day ago   3 comments top 3
Peroni 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I implement workable.com at every single company I work/consult with. It's insanely easy to use, incredibly intuitive and makes life so much easier for everyone involved in the hiring process.

I despise LinkedIn however it's still the largest database of professionals out there so I pay for a 'recruiter lite' account which is quite useful.

connectifier.com/search is great for saving time in trying to extract an individuals contact info.

Gild.com is insanely expensive but a decent investment if you're hiring a significant number of people.

gender-decoder.katmatfield.com is a wonderful (free) resource to help you ensure your job adverts are using universally appealing language.

charliehr.com is a great, lite-HR system that allows you to manage all of your documentation, holidays and payroll details in one place, and it's free.

twiangulate.com/search/ is quite useful for discovering potentially interesting people on twitter.

brianchu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In terms of ATS's (Applicant Tracking Systems), I've heard lots of recruiters like lever.co
aprdm 1 day ago 0 replies      
www.hackerrank.comthey just send a link for a test there
I'll pay $5.99 a month for Mailbox
24 points by shubhamgoel  1 day ago   5 comments top 3
avitzurel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I had the same naive thought today.

Perhaps Dropbox will open source the project and the community can keep developing features and maintaining it.

It doesn't matter how much you are going to pay, someone paid more (Dropbox) and now they want exclusivity on the garbage can they are going to put this in.

I would love to see more companies shutting down services open sourcing them, but it's a lot of work and once you decide to shut something down you want to also cut the losses.

minimaxir 1 day ago 1 reply      
Mailbox is not an open source project you can just throw money at to keep alive.
mattmireles 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Mailbox alternatives for iPhone?
2 points by GFuller  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
nurazem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Outlook for iPhone seems to have all the features of Mailbox:


kelt 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A collection on Product Hunt/@collinmathilde


Ask HN: What are the best books that changed your life in 2015?
7 points by tequila_shot  1 day ago   7 comments top 7
vincentbarr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Asking a book to change one's life within the course of a year seems like a tall order.

That said I recommend Chade-Meng Tan's 'Search Inside Yourself'[0].

Chade-Meng Tan began his career at Google as software engineer and later transitioned to teach a course that this book describes on emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and self-awareness. Allegedly, the course was quite popular at Google. I highly recommend the book.

[0] http://www.amazon.com/Search-Inside-Yourself-Unexpected-Achi...

colund 12 hours ago 0 replies      
How Google Works

- Gives interesting insights in the healthy values at Google.

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

- Interesting discussions about correct/incorrect interpretations of data/statistics.

Black Hat Python

- Gives short code examples of what can be possible to do.

Programming Collective Intelligence

- Outdated but very inspiring hands on examples of ML in Python

bluenotebook 1 day ago 0 replies      
Harry Potter and Methods of Rationality. A lot of concepts from CS are used, but it spans across a wide variety of intellectually stimulating topics.
danieljoonlee 1 day ago 0 replies      

It has completely changed my thought process and helped me with self-realization.

Not CS relevant, however an interesting read.

brudgers 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Beyond contributing to the change in my thinking over the past year, I'm not going to suggest that any of these books changed my life in the way that the Bhagavad Gita or Leviathan or Foucault's Pendulum might. Particularly since these are Computer Science related per the RFP. Anyway:

1. Art of Computer Programming: Combinatorial Algorithms, Volume 4a. This stuff is hard. It's harder than I can imagine. [It's worth noting that this probably clarifies my definition of "read", since I've only read a little bit of it so far and only really grokked a little bit of what I read].

2. Programming Clojure made me make sense of the truth underlying the joke "Clojure is just a Java library".

3. The Art of Unix Programming [1] made me understand my experience living through the transition from MSDos to twenty years of Windows and think about what I had lost and missed and how my understanding of software and design had been shaped. It also helped gain better intuitions when using Linux. [2]

4. Starting Forth [3] because Forth is worth learning. It's worth learning because it changed the way I think about programming languages.

5. The Art and Science of Smalltalk [4] for the same reasons as Forth, only more so. After reading about Smalltalk, I felt I began to understand the "Why" of Ruby. Ruby became many times richer with the context.

6. The weird one is The RSpec Book: Behavior Driven Development with RSpec, Cucumber and Friends. It's also the one that changed my thinking the most [caveat: it's also the most recently read]. I saw someone's "port" of RSpec to Clojure [6] and had saw the Turing Tarpit swallow Lisp. Until then, my smug weeniness didn't allow for the possibility. But implementing an internal DSL for RSpec missed the beauty of RSpec's design. I saw Lisp through the eyes of it's detractors. It's a case where Lisp's parentheses make an elegant idea grotesque.[7]

7. [Bonus] The C Standard Library. Trigonometric values are produced via the dark arts.

[1]: http://catb.org/esr/writings/taoup/html/

[2]: Please note, I am not anti-Windows or anti-Microsoft. There are tradeoffs all around.

[3]: http://www.forth.com/starting-forth/

[4]: http://sdmeta.gforge.inria.fr/FreeBooks/Art/artAdded17418618...

[5]: http://www.thriftbooks.com/

[6]: https://github.com/slagyr/speclj

[7]: Please don't get me wrong. I don't dislike Lisp. I'm not arguing that the repository is typical, or that anyone else should find RSpec's design attractive. What I saw was that as an internal DSL, RSpec's design baby goes out with the Ruby bathwater in the land of Clojure internal DSL's.

LifeQuestioner 1 day ago 0 replies      
Myth of Sanity. Not CS relevant though, sorry.
Ask HN: Anyone recommend any _weekly_ news sources?
5 points by EleventhSun  1 day ago   5 comments top 5
nkurz 1 day ago 0 replies      
HN actually offers its own "best" list of stories that works well on a weekly basis: https://news.ycombinator.com/best
chei0aiV 1 day ago 0 replies      
rayalez 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use http://www.hndigest.com, it sends me a weekly newsletter of the most upvoted HN articles. It's really great.
mcculley 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Economist.
giaour 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The New Yorker.
Ask HN: How would you convince someone to hire you without your resume?
5 points by nikunjness  2 days ago   10 comments top 7
gesman 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The conversation need to start from the other end. Them approaching you personally to be hired.

This does not mean being spammed by AMZN or GOOG or other recruiters.This means being approached by hiring manager or higher.

seanccox 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I scored a job doing investigative due diligence by threatening the hiring manager's family.

I didn't know I was being interviewed, we were just two people seated alongside one another at a wedding reception, having pleasant casual conversation. She made me feel totally at ease, complimented my suit, laughed at my jokes, and was really inquisitive about me. After an hour of answering her questions, I began to notice that she wasn't answering any of mine. She would subtly bring the conversation back around to me. In isolation, it never felt evasive, but the pattern of doing so did.

So, I casually commented that she must have been a middle child to be so adept in conversation. She smiled and indicated that, in fact, she had just one younger brother. To which I responded: "And now I know you have a younger brother, so why don't you tell me what this interview is all about."

After collecting her jaw from the floor, she offered me a job.

I guess you can file that under being approached by them first, but I thought y'all might enjoy the story.

brd 2 days ago 1 reply      
When you're getting hired you're just selling someone on the idea of you. You just need to create a signal that you're worth the purchase. There is nothing magic about a resume other than it's the most typical way an employee sells themselves. Other signals of your worth could be recommendations, credentials, publications, intelligent conversation, etc.

I prefer the "meet and greet" approach to job hunting. If we have a good conversation about their needs and how I'd satisfy them, I'm inclined to feel a little insulted when a resume is asked for.

marvy 13 hours ago 0 replies      
You might have noticed a few triblebyte blog posts on the front page lately. They don't do resumes. (Of course, you have to be ok with YC companies, or else they're not much use to you.)
cbhl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Word of mouth.

My first job: my high school CS teacher knew I was good with computers anecdotally. (He heard second-hand from another staff member that I had looked at another student's buggy code, written in a language I had never seen before, and identified and fixed the bug in a few minutes, before I had ever taken a formal CS class at the high school.) One of the teacher's former students had a small business that was hiring people to do some one-off data entry work over winter break and asked if I wanted to give it a go. (I said yes.)

Boss liked my work ethic, and offered to hire me back the following summer to work on their C#/ASP.NET code base (even though I'd never coded C# in my life).

JSeymourATL 1 day ago 0 replies      
Show a keen interest in the individuals problems, priorities, and mission-- share ideas on how you can help assist them. Gitomer has a good piece on Buyer's (Hiring Executive) Motivations > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1w-BX8jMJQ
rainmaking 1 day ago 0 replies      
Demonstrate relevant skill.
Ask HN: Can I use TensorFlow without knowing even Elementary Algebra?
4 points by sanosuke  2 days ago   2 comments top 2
auxym 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure you could, if needed pick up specific things as you go from the web or a used copy of a good basic linalg textbook.
Irishsteve 2 days ago 0 replies      
You could. At some point you will hit a limit, but you could go pretty far solving known problems out there solely by following tutorials.
Ask HN: What business/tech inspires you? what excites you?
4 points by hoodoof  1 day ago   3 comments top 3
hanniabu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Light field technology


thoughtpalette 1 day ago 0 replies      
Virtual Reality. Super excited about 2016.
a_lifters_life 1 day ago 0 replies      
Machine Learning, AI, NLP
Ask HN: Best task management tool for non-developers?
2 points by brd  1 day ago   6 comments top 4
shostack 1 day ago 1 reply      
Trello, Asana, Basecamp, etc.

Having spent a lot of time assessing my team's needs and trying to figure out a solution that works, I'd add that picking a tool is the easy part.

Since most of these tools are very flexible in how you use them, without enforcing incredibly strict workflows/process of their own, the really tough part is defining your own workflow/process. The even tougher part is getting people to actually follow that.

A task management tool is only as effective as it is religiously used by all involved. The moment a project conversation gets side-barred into an email thread, communication gets scattered and is no longer consolidated. Someone consistenly forgets to update their project status every time something changes? Suddenly others are out of the loop, and others stop updating project status because it that seems to be acceptable.

While you don't want to be a control freak about this stuff, it is critical to make sure any user is committed to using it religiously. It is also important to make sure the process is clearly defined in a simple, SHORT, and easy to find list somewhere. Expect lots of questions on edge cases for "how do we handle X," and think of good ways to give friendly reminders to those who forget to do something, and less-friendly reminders to those who are frequent offenders.

TurboHaskal 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't bother. Non developers always end up resorting to Email.
edimaudo 1 day ago 0 replies      
First of don't go for tools first. Develop a strategy for process flow and then look for tools that meet your needs.
coderKen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pivotal Tracker, has a free tier
Ask HN: As a non-engineer, should I join a startup because it uses Clojure?
5 points by formerpedude  2 days ago   12 comments top 11
marshray 2 days ago 0 replies      
In my experience, the highest "times 10" productivity comes when developers are motivated and passionate about the work they are doing. (Along with having a baseline of skill of course.)

Great developers can be passionate about niche languages and in the short term it could be a recruiting tool for exceptional developers. But you have to balance that against the fact that if your chosen language is too far outside most other developers' experience you're greatly reducing the pool from which you can hire.

Let's say somehow you are able to find a team of five truly energetic self-managing Clojure developers. Yes, I would back that team if they were up against 25 average developers and associated managers.

But then how're you gonna scale? You can't just take normal developers, teach them Clojure, and expect them to get Clojure fever the same way your group of self-selected experts had. I mean, they are professionals and they will learn it, but you will end up with an ordinary development team simply using a uncommon language.

You cannot beat regression-to-the-mean simply by choosing a different development toolchain. You can only beat it by hiring the right people, often those who tend to fall through the cracks of traditional HR processes, and letting them recommend the tools.

dkersten 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very much a Clojure enthusiast and run the local Clojure user group.

But, as a non-engineer, I don't think it really affects you enough to factor into the equation.

1) Will Clojure provide a competitive advantage in terms of cost savings and productivity?

Maybe. If they're experienced at Clojure and are good engineers to begin with. But its not likely enough to base your decision on.

(I argue and hope that it does provide productivity advantages for a variety of reasons, but I wouldn't be confident enough of this to base your decision on)

2) Will Clojure provide a hiring advantage because engineers are excited to work with it?

Maybe. Are there excited Clojure enthusiasts in your area who want to work on it? In my own experience, this may very well be true - I interact with a lot of enthusiastic programmers hoping for a job using Clojure in the user group. But, again, I'm not sure this is proven enough to base your decision on. Again, in my experience, the global Clojure community is exceptionally skilled and talented and have good sensibilities about what makes good, understandable, solid code and all Clojure developers I have spoken to are very happy writing Clojure. So if you can tap into these people, then that is definitely a positive for the company, but I'm not sure it will make or break the company.

Bottom-line is that Clojure is unlikely to be a top 3 contributing cause for success or failure, so, as a non-engineer who doesn't get any personal satisfaction from the language, I don't think it should be a major factor in your decision.

horofox 22 hours ago 0 replies      
No. This is not an advantage.

Any average developer can probably write something in Ruby/Rails at least 2x faster(in developing time) than the best clojurist alive if the startup in question is a web app / mobile app. And this matters for a startup, time to market.

If the startup has a very complex business domain, needs some deep data science to be done, machine learning or some sort of thing, it might be a good indicative that they use clojure, but there's like 10.000 things that you should care before if they use clojure.

There's a lot of companies that are about raising money, picking a weird stack, hiring a bunch of hipsters and then running out of money and closing operation. I know people who are programmers that know that the company product sucks and just stick to the company because of the tech stack. As non-founding engineers don't get that much stock options it seems a good idea to work for a company with some fun stack that pays well enough even though you think the product is shit.

As you aren't a programmer, you should look for companies where you see that the business makes sense. Tech tools rarely end up as a big market advantage.

What makes all the difference is having great managers, board, C-level, culture... and of course, a decent business model. With a competent team, good business model the team will apply a tech stack that is good enough to solve the situations at hand a move the company forward. And this won't evolve just one programming language, just as you can't create a big company just doing advertising, or just having only finance people. You need all kind of skillsets and this also applies to tech.

Clojure? Last concern.

tshtf 2 days ago 0 replies      
> An intriguing opportunity lies at a startup whose CEO keeps pitching me on the fact his company uses Closure, which is supposedly a hot new language? He claims Closure will provide a material competitive advantage because of potential cost savings.


And I think you mean Clojure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clojure

Joof 1 day ago 0 replies      
As much as I want to say yes (I would be horribly excited to work with Clojure) it seems to be something of questionable value to a non-engineer.

Depending on the application there is probably a productivity advantage and you're certain to find a small number of very talented engineers. After that you may have to train engineers. If its a more interesting / profitable project you can expand the hiring pool by looking globally. Famously, Jane Street uses OCaml and it works out well for them.

I'd say yes in two scenarios, if you want a smaller team (and dont need to scale up too much in number of engineers; although you can switch languages later if the company begins to succeed) or if you have a more specialized project that benefits from the language and probably needs more of an academic background.

auganov 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's definitely a common sentiment in the LISP community. It's probably valid if your tech is not linked to some platform/language/env that doesn't work well with Clojure.

I'd say the main argument against it, is that a decade ago the divide between LISPs and stacic languages (basically the mainstream at the time) was indeed huge. While today if you don't use a LISP you're probably going to go with a fairly dynamic and functional language anyways.

I'd only be wary if he has an absolutely religious conviction it's true. If it's an educated bet then it's fine in my book.

veryluckyxyz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use of Clojure in and of itself is not likely an indicator of anything.

In some cases, choice of tech-stack can provide competitive advantage.

You could ask the CEO for specifics on competitive advantage Clojure provide and evaluate for yourself if it actually does.

gus_massa 2 days ago 1 reply      
Clojure is a nice language, but it's not magic.

Other unrelated questions:

Are they going to pay you at market rate? (Are they going to pay you??)

How much equity would you get? (My usual joke is that if it's more than 20% you are a cofounder and if it's less than 2% you are an employee.)

dudul 2 days ago 0 replies      
1) It may. Depending on the problem they are trying to solve.

2) It will have some appealing for some developers yes, but the pool of talent will be smaller than a more mainstream language

xsmasher 1 day ago 0 replies      
You already have the necessary experience to answer this question. The people and the business are more important than the technology.

Using Clojure will not prevent the CEO from turning out to be a maniac and hothead.

o_nate 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hahaha... This post made my day.
Ask HN: Wouldn't a Who is hiring thread requiring a salary range be nice?
78 points by beeboop  7 days ago   11 comments top 3
hwstar 5 days ago 0 replies      
1. If the job market and economy were better, then salary would be less of an issue, and the strength of the candidate would be more of an issue.

2.If salary offers are ridiculously low side, this usually indicates that there are problems with money in the company,or that company is offering something which will substitute for the low salary (really cool tech, everyone wants to work there, remote work, perks, etc.) Recently, it is mostly been the former.

3. Worldwide talent availability and competition from multinational corporations has made the engineering job market less lucrative in the US for engineers.

jke348 7 days ago 1 reply      
The only people who won't post salaries are those who are scared it will be so low it will scare people away. They all think "oh, you will like working here so much you won't even mind when we low ball you!"99% of jobs have a budget. Just post your budget...
kspaans 7 days ago 0 replies      
From the Sept 2015 thread, someone posted some JS that will let you search all of the comments. They give an example using wildcards that makes it easier to search for numbers.


Ask HN: Mailbox alternatives for OS X?
5 points by cjbarber  2 days ago   11 comments top 9
speg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I switched from Mailbox to Inbox a few months ago. Glad I did!

There is no desktop app, and the settings aren't as customizable but the bundling feature makes up for that.

avitzurel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Right now I am using Airmail and I'm pretty happy about it.I have about 4 email accounts and it works well.

The shortcuts are Gmail compliant so you can use whatever you are used for with motion/archive/delete and more.

I've used Postbox, MailPlane3, Mailbox, Mail and a lot of others, Airmail is the best one so far.

_neil 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a bummer. Despite how incredibly buggy Mailbox is on OS X, it was still my favorite client since Sparrow. I might give Nylas[0] a try.

[0] https://www.nylas.com/n1

goralph 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've basically tried them all, and the latest Airmail client works the best for me. It's fast, no lag in the animations, does what I want it to do, and even looks decent.
microman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use Postbox but I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has used both Postbox and Airmail to see if they prefer one over the other?
sjs382 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use Airmail and I like it, though my usage doesn't require anything out of the ordinary, beyond having different mailboxes for different accounts.
tbrock 1 day ago 0 replies      
I still miss sparrow. It felt so much lighter weight than airmail on OSX.
cjbarber 2 days ago 1 reply      
This seems especially relevant now that Mailbox is officially being shut down on Feb 26.
kishansundar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Airmail 2
Ask HN: Using VPN I get captcha'd by Google search for what reason?
3 points by perlpimp  2 days ago   9 comments top 4
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shared IP, inhuman number of queries per second. And an IP which is associated with a hosting provider (AWS, Azure, Etc) and thus unlikely to be a user endpoint. Lots of scripted searches are identified on those two data points.
detaro 2 days ago 2 replies      

Too many different users from one IP

the VPN provider uses IP space from their hosting provider and normal users normally don't have IPs from a range where you'd expect servers

Someone ran bots from the same IP range (hosting provider)

kbenson 1 day ago 0 replies      
My pet guess would be that the VPN provider is anonymizing cookies for you in some way to provide more secure browsing, and it's causing Google to be a bit leery that you might be trying to automate searches through them. Whether this is feasibly possible or not also depends on your VPN config, given Google's use of HTTPS everywhere.
digitaloracle86 2 days ago 0 replies      
We had this issue in the office, as we are dealing with many types of malware and viruses we were sure that we have some kind of bot in the network, we traced some queries to google from one VM, than killed it and the requests started coming from other VM and so on.

Eventually we were able to pinpoint this to specific toolbar that was bombing Google with PageRank requests.

After removing this toolbar- all went back to normal, so perhaps some users that using the same VPN provider are using some sort of tool and abusing google.

ROS developers and lovers: What are your greatest challenges working with ROS?
2 points by proboter  2 days ago   1 comment top
borplk 1 day ago 0 replies      
My problem with ROS is my MTR is not reaching my KPM correctly. How do I plug the CPT so I can get KPM connectivity back in my ROS? (!)
Ask HN: Do you find reading increasingly challenging?
55 points by readchallenged  3 days ago   46 comments top 27
d23 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm worried about our attention spans as humans. Mine has certainly gone down. When I was a kid and the internet was less popular and showy, I used to read long-form articles and message boards and do actual reading. Now there's so much content out there it seems to be genuinely hard to not just look for the next "quick fix" in the form of a funny or insightful comment. Reading even a 20 minute article doesn't seem to be the norm anymore.

God only knows how bad this is going to be for kids that are now growing up with youtube.

such_a_casual 3 days ago 1 reply      
I find that the kind of people who are "squeezed for time" are always "squeezed for time". You make time for the things you need to make time for, just like everyone else.

That nonsense aside, I was doing what you're doing until I learned an important lesson. I found that I will not gain anything of value by reading quickly and inattentively. If I am spending my time skimming articles, forum posts, stack overflow, without doing something like taking notes, I'm just teaching my brain that most information is useless to me. The sooner I learned that lesson, the sooner I was back to reading books.

sclangdon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think it's because you're squeezed for time, but more that you're sense of time has changed.

You're probably used to extracting information you want in a very short period of time via sites like StackOverflow or Wikipedia or whatever. If you're like me, when you encounter something that isn't going to give you the gold quickly, you probably move on to something that will.

You're used to the quick turnaround, so when something takes longer it makes you feel like you're squeezed for time.

For example, I have plenty of physical programming books. A lot of the time I know that the answer I seek is in one of those books. Sometimes I even know which book and the location in that book. But guess what? I still go to StackOverflow first because it's quicker and someone will have already summarized the book. I'm so used to getting information quickly, that actually having to look for it is unthinkable. It _feels_ like I don't have enough time to read the book myself, but that's really not true at all.

Shorel 3 days ago 2 replies      
Get a Kindle.

I started reading again when it became a lot more convenient, thanks to the kindle.

I think I finished reading all the Wheel of Time books because of the convenience of the kindle (it gets boring around book eight, before a well deserved end).

Paper books are heavy and expensive.

It doesn't work for all books, as it is not a good PDF reader, but for anything that's more text than graphics or layout, it's a huge improvement.

brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
My experience is that my motivation for consuming books is cyclic. Part of it is due to other interests and commitments...I read almost nothing for pleasure during grad school and then spent what felt like every non-working moment reading for the next year. Then there have been two periods where I read The Economist cover to cover every week. The first was two years the second was one...well almost or maybe most of one.

That sort of hits on the other major reason for cyclic reading. My tastes and interests change. Sometimes the right book comes along at the wrong time...and sometimes the same right book comes along twice, by which I mean that one of the interesting things about getting older is that rereading books is not rereading the same book. The greater narrative of which it is a part has changed as I have changed.

One of the other features of getting older is that not finishing a book doesn't bother me anymore. I'm ok if a book doesn't speak to me or stops speaking to me. I enjoy finishing books, but don't see not doing so as quite the moral failing I once did. Maybe I'll come back. Maybe it wasn't that good. Maybe it's overdue. Reading for pleasure is supposed to be pleasurable and the suffering of a hard book or long book or a challenging book has to be worth it, and making it worth it is the author's responsibility, not mine.

Anyway, not having time is the biggest constraint, e.g. currently the time slot that I had been using to read is being used to journal. It's a tradeoff.

Good luck.

cpncrunch 3 days ago 0 replies      
No, I don't have any trouble reading (I'm 42).

I think your comment about "squeezed for time" probably explains it. You're probably slightly stressed or burned out through working too long hours. All the evidence suggests that working too many hours is detrimental to productivity, and your inability to focus seems to be proof that your productivity is suffering.

Try relaxing more and reducing your working hours.

stdbrouw 3 days ago 1 reply      
It is certainly possible that you have lost the ability to focus, but why not try this much more straightforward explanation first: you didn't like the last couple of books you've read, which is why had trouble finishing them. It is absolutely not uncommon to go from "ugh, I'm not in the mood for this book" to "hmm, this story just doesn't seem to be going anywhere" to "well I could've written something twice as good as this" before hitting on a book that aligns with what you're interested in reading at that very moment. Try to read something different. Follow recommendations from other people. Don't read something because you feel you have to.
verganileonardo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I did two things:1) Create (initially, force) a routine: everytime, read for 30~60 minutes before you sleep. Do that even if it is late and you're tired.

2) Try to use small moments of free time. As an example, if I have more than 30 minutes of free time, I read some pages of a book.

If you stop to think about it, you are probably going to remember recurring moments in which you had 30~ minutes of free time. Instead of using it to read Hacker News or browse Facebook, read something. Commuting is a great example.

sold 3 days ago 0 replies      
I set up an alarm clock for "detox" every day. I turn off my computer, silence the mobile phone and do nothing but read for hour or two. Resist any temptation to check email.

I've enjoyed this article that was recently on HN http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/opinion/sunday/addicted-to...

Scarblac 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the subject of Nicholas Carr's _The Shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains_.

In a nutshell, he argues that our brain gets better at things that we do a lot, and worse at things we used to do a lot but now do a lot less. Reading is not different from any other activity in that sense.

And many people nowadays don't read many long, hard books anymore, and instead quickly skim short articles and then switch to the next.

So we get better at quickly getting bits of information from short articles, and worse at staying focused for an hour on the same demanding text.

I find it hard to argue with.

ilamont 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am in the same boat as the OP. Loved reading when I was younger, everything from newspapers to novels.

What I find myself doing now with most long-form Web or mobile content, as well as printed magazines and newspapers, is skimming to get the basic facts or quotes and then moving on. I just don't have the time or attention to stay focused anymore.

As for books (fiction and nonfiction), I find myself skimming when I using the Kindle. The Kindle Fire is even worse because of the easy access to other distractions. For printed books I can focus but I have found my threshold for abandoning a book is much lower. I did this recently with a novel by an author I used to love; I just felt the characters in the new novel were wooden and I noticed some basic editing errors. I returned the book to the library after about 40 or 50 pages.

As for the reasons behind this: I am not a programmer so for me the issue is not related to dealing with short lines of code. I think it is a combination of information overload, easy access to screens, and training our minds (through exposure to text messages, tweets, online updates, short video clips, etc.) to prefer condensed communication.

The trend makes me uncomfortable, but on the other hand, I also see it as part of the evolution of media and society. If we look back through history, we can see how other new media had a similar impact. Newspapers, film, and television changed styles of writing and peoples' preferences for reading materials and storytelling. Then, as now, there was great discomfort in the way media and storytelling evolved. A 1961 speech by the then-chairman of the FCC called television a "vast wasteland." If you go further back, there was negative reaction to the introduction of radio, the use of photos in newspapers, and even opera, which was seen by 17th-century British intellectuals as "chromatic torture." There has been a lot of thoughtful expository writing about this; if you are interested (and can manage to read an entire book) I recommend checking out Mitchell Stephens "The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word" (1) and Walter Ong's "Orality and Literacy" (2). They are somewhat dated now, but I think they really documented important transitions from antiquity to the end of the 20th century.

1. https://www.nyu.edu/classes/stephens/rise%20of%20the%20image...

2. http://www.amazon.com/Orality-Literacy-Anniversary-Edition-A...

akbarnama 2 days ago 0 replies      
I too had not read much in 2014; physical books. This year I decided to read physical books and have been able to read quite a few.

I would suggest reading some books from 'A Very Short Introduction' series. Each topic is written by an expert in that field; and is about 130-150 pages. I have read books on Marx, Foucault, The History of Life. Next up is Metaphysics; followed by Logic, Planets and Fractals. I am enjoying reading these in a cafe!

Mz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am sometimes genuinely busy and have trouble finishing articles and what not that I would like to finish because of that. But a lot of the trouble I had with reading was health related. I have serious respiratory problems and reading paper anything causes me problems. I now do almost all my reading online and I expect to go the kindle route for books at some point in the future. I am healthier these days and I can occasionally pick up a paper book and read it, but I do better using an electronic device.

You might look into taking a few supplements or improving the quality of your diet. We tend to become deficient in certain things as we get older and this can reduce our ability to focus. Reversing the deficiencies I suffered has helped me get my brain back, at least somewhat. It's not like I can calculate math problems faster than you can type them into a calculator these days like I once could, but I do function better than I did when I was really ill.

Walk more, eat better, consider switching to a kindle reader. Perhaps it is health related, as it largely was for me.

Best of luck.

ddw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I made a conscious decision a few months ago to decrease the number of online articles I read. I realized that I wasn't finishing most of them (and most people don't) and if I wasn't learning any relevant to me then they were basically trivia.

I've concentrated more on slimming down my book shelves by getting to all of those books that I always wanted to. I'm finding them more illuminating and enjoyable than any short article. I find them more likely to change my viewpoint than any catchy article could because someone dedicated months, if not years, to put their work out there.

As far as finding time, unless you're busy from when you wake up into when your head is back on the pillow you can find time for what you feel is important enough. For me I've cut scrolling through articles and social media for something more substantial.

t3ra 2 days ago 0 replies      
So it would not be a good idea to wait for someone to just summerize this on medium?

Jokes apart ; attention span going down is certainly a concern but do you think we all are getting way more lazier? Shortcuts, one line stack overflow answers, instant results and 2 min quick fix tutorials are not just killing attention spans but also making us lazy and bad developers.

oxplot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never liked reading books cover to cover and still don't. But I find that new (or different to the usual) quiet environments make it a lot easier to concentrate. For me the public library is one of those places. I put my phone on silent and can read for few hours at a time. I can even read more when I sit in the bathroom, than I do on my regular chair at my desk.

It works the same for me with sleeping. Whenever I start being uncomfortable on my bed, I switch to sofa for a while.

mydpy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also, it's frustrating in any leisure activity where I'm actively 'consuming' media, I find myself 'project managing' that consumption - what I mean is, for video games, I can only play 3 games at any given time and I can't add any from my queue into the rotation until I've finished one.
CM30 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kind of, though in my case it's more that the internet and video games simply grab my attention more than books. I mean, if I have nothing else to do, I can read fine, but if it's between that and say, Super Smash Bros... well, I'm probably not gonna be able to focus on the book.
thelogicbar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am 24 and became like this from age 18 until recently. I felt like an old man. In my case it was caused by undiagnosed Celiac Disease. You may get value from looking into CD, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, or other food intolerances or allergies.
vinceyuan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did you spend too much time on your phone? When many people have nothing to do, they just check cell phones. It's not good.

If you want to read, read paper books or read on kindle. Don't read on your phone.

mydpy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spend my leisure time on other things - mostly if not exclusively gaming - because I do so much reading professionally.
carsongross 3 days ago 0 replies      

I have a hard time finishing articles and, even, comments.

It's a very bad situation.

dkraft 1 day ago 0 replies      
I only skimmed through these responses. same.
edoceo 2 days ago 0 replies      
No, I still by paper books and then share them with network. I block time for reading. I don't read stories. Biz books, code books only.
forgottenacc56 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes definitely. I am become deliterised.
aprdm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes because of Netflix :(
EGreg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: How to be a great sysadmin?
6 points by user321  3 days ago   7 comments top 5
debatable000 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd start by learning how to search - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9419877.
debacle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sysadmins have to learn about more abortive technologies and know about them sooner than most programmers. They have to have knowledge of stuff that should have been deprecated a long time ago and they have to know why to say yes, no, or maybe when they're asked to do something new.

Reading, assessing, and learning are massively important skills.

atmosx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently[1] by running a firewall or configuring servers to accept connections only from where they should, gets instantly to the top 30%.
AI Scheduler for Slack teams
2 points by yjmin  2 days ago   discuss
       cached 9 December 2015 21:05:02 GMT