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Ask HN: Where are all the non-web jobs?
62 points by callinyouin   ago   61 comments top 29
w1ntermute 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Rather than thinking of it as "where are all the non-web jobs," think of it as "where are all the $INDUSTRY jobs?" What are you interested in? The web is just a very popular and successful medium for reaching users, including in finance and gaming.

And if you really want to work in finance or in gaming, then go to meetups or reach out to people in the field with cold emails, asking to just learn more about what they do (rather than immediately flinging your resume at them). You should always be networking long before you start actively looking for your next job.

untog 6 hours ago 2 replies      
The web is basically a UI layer these days. Google are technically a 'web' company but there are a hell of a lot of positions available there that don't involve doing any web programming at all. Same at any decently sized company.

I'm afraid I'll have to pursue a masters or doctoral degree in order to pursue jobs in any area outside of the web.

I'm curious - why would you go to the extent of studying for a masters solely to avoid programming for the web? What is it about the web you dislike so much?

greenyoda 7 hours ago 1 reply      
"I've found very few jobs that aren't web-related. I have seen a handful of embedded programming jobs, but those tend to require a background that I lack (EE or CE, whereas I have a Comp. Sci. degree). My only other prospects seem to be in the financial and gaming industries..."

I haven't looked for a job in a while, so I can't give you great advice on where to look for jobs. But as someone who works on enterprise software, I can tell you that if you're only seeing listings for web programming jobs, you're not seeing the majority of job postings for software developers.

There's a very wide range of software between web application programming and embedded software. Most of the software used by businesses is on the back-end - the web stuff is just the top layer that users use to interact with the systems. For example, think of all the software that runs behind the scenes at Amazon.com: shipping optimization, inventory management, recommending products to users based on purchase history, etc. - none of that is interactive, it's all crunching through data.

A few sources of job leads that you haven't mentioned: (1) lots of companies have job postings on their own web sites; (2) local head hunters may have a broader range of jobs in your area than the major job sites; (3) networking: talk to your friends to see if they have any job openings where they work.

callinyouin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, I didn't think this would get much of a response and I really appreciate all the advice given thus far.

I realize now that I really should have been more specific about a couple of points. First, by "web job" I mostly mean jobs that would be characterized as "full stack". This is what I currently do for a living (enterprise, for a company with 1000+ employees), and from what I can tell this is mostly what's being advertised in job postings. There are many things one could do deep in the depths of some company's back-end that I wouldn't consider a "web job".

As far as what domain I'd rather be working in, that's really the 10 million dollar question. I feel like it's time for me to make a decision and specialize, but I really can't narrow it down to one, single domain. I've taken a machine learning course and really enjoyed that. I did some work with parallel computing in CUDA with a professor while in school and ended up with my name on a paper that made its way into a peer-reviewed journal. I've done a decent amount of hobby game and network programming, hacked a bit on an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, and I've recently been getting into audio DSP stuff. I really like a lot of different things and I'm more than a little afraid to limit myself to one area for the rest of my career.

sgrossman 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't be too discouraged by job postings requiring an EE or CE degree. At my last two companies (a network gear vendor and a hosted VoIP provider), our postings stated EE/CE was preferred for new grads, but what we really needed were folks with systems programming experience and an understanding of the SW/HW interface.

If you've internalized most of your systems classes (OS, computer architecture, compilers, networks, etc) and are comfortable mucking around in C/C++, you're no worse off applying for these jobs than most new EE/CE grads.

aespinoza 6 hours ago 1 reply      
How about Security ? Cylance has more than a couple:

- Senior Automation Engineer: https://cylance.workable.com/jobs/102010

- Senior Software Engineer: https://cylance.workable.com/jobs/74863

- Senior Software Engineer, Windows: https://cylance.workable.com/jobs/182251

All of these positions are for non-web related jobs. I recommend you look at what are the areas you are interested in, and then target companies that have that. Looking for anything non-web is not a good plan. There are a lot of Data Science related jobs that are not Web as well:

- Data Scientist, Analytics (Instagram): https://www.facebook.com/careers/jobs/a0IA000000G3OLOMA3/

alkonaut 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If we include any tier of layered applications (backend m, front end and anything related) in the definition then the web has a big chunk of jobs these days.

Lots of people still do work with regular applications such as desktop software though. Find an industry (engineering/cad, graphics, music, finance, medical, games, ...) and see where their software is made. You don't have to do OS:es or embedded to do non web things. Millions of people pay billions of dollars for special niche software in all industries.

I have successfully managed to stay away from web most of my career and think it's a lot more interesting to do desktop (note: desktop apps that couldn't be web apps are the interesting ones, not desktop apps with crud which would be no more interesting than doing it as a web app) simply because the amount of "algorithm work" is much greater than the proportion of work that is repetitive data input/output/validation. Not to mention the tools on desktop aren't html/css/js.

OopsCriticality 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you taking advantage of your college alumni association? They may have a job board or career counseling; related, you may want to find an alumni meetup in Chicago for networking. The alumni angle can be surprisingly effective.
capitalsigma 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There are OS/systems jobs at most of the big companies (Google, Apple, MS, etc). Really, I'd bet that any company that deals with serious traffic (e.g. Netflix) probably does some kernel hacking.

There are HFT jobs to be had for pure CS folks, too --- especially in Chicago.

ScottBurson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want a job in finance, I think you should apply for a bunch of such jobs, despite your lack of experience. You might well find someone willing to give you a try. Be prepared for long hours.

Otherwise, I think you should pick a specialty within CS to focus on. Distributed systems, perhaps -- they're hot right now and that shows no signs of changing; operating systems, maybe; compilers, maybe. I don't know for a fact that BS-level jobs in these areas exist, but they might. Anyway, decide what you're most interested in, and if you can't get a job in that with a BS, go back to school.

djent 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been wondering whether HN would be interested in having "Hire Me" posts in conjunction with "Who's Hiring" posts. Every time there's a Who's Hiring, I spend a couple hours looking through all the posts. Why not do the opposite? Have companies/recruiters look through our resumes. I'm weary about joining websites like LinkedIn/Monster/etc. Even now, every once in a while HN will get a post along the lines of "I've been out of work/the industry for a while and I don't know how to find a job... here's what I know how to do" and they get a bunch of support.
pdq 7 hours ago 4 replies      
If you want an embedded programming, OS, or firmware job, your best bet is with a hardware/semiconductor company. No, you don't need a masters or doctorate -- a CS degree is just fine. I highly recommend taking a low level job; you learn an amazing amount that is abstracted away at the high-level web/database areas.

Have a look at the big hardware vendors: Qualcomm, Broadcom, Freescale (NXP), Nvidia, Cirrus Logic, Xilinx, Apple, Intel, AMD, etc. Note that you'd probably need to be willing to move to a more hardware-oriented area, including California, Silicon Valley, Austin, Boston, or Portland.

lkrubner 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Up until a year ago, the correct answer to "Where are all the non-web jobs?" was "China".

Stats for the USA from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


1990 Number of Jobs 565,000

2010 Number of Jobs 363,100

2012 Number of Jobs 343,700

All kidding aside, the correct answer is still "China". Computer programming jobs follow employment in manufacturing. If employment in manufacturing is rising in one country, but falling in another, the computer programming jobs will be rising in the first country but falling in the second country.

This year, even the Chinese economy is slowing down. But it is important to keep the long-term in mind. Over the last 30 years there has been a dramatic decline in the number of all types of computer programming jobs in the USA.

There is a tiny subset of the industry that is growing, and we associate these with the startups in San Francisco and New York. But so far these startups have not created enough jobs to offset the jobs lost due to other factors.

This suggests that there must be a vast reservoir or programmers who would like programming jobs, but they can't work as programmers because the jobs have disappeared.

If the numbers were smaller, you could argue that the loss of jobs was due to inaccuracies in the way Bureau of Labor gathers statistics. But the drop from 565,000 jobs to 343,700 is too large to be a spurious blip.

probinso 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Find videos from conferences with technologies you are interested in. Watch any / all talks from that conference. Take note of company behind each interesting talk.

If you follow some of these companies on sites like linkedin, keep an eye on other companies you haven't heard of in their 'people also followed' section. (companies that everyone has followed you likely already know about)

jaegerpicker 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So, my company is not in the Chicago area but we are a startup with a decent web presence (ecommerce/pharmacy/brick and mortor shipping/data science) and we have a whole back end team. I'm the manager of the front end engineering team (50% swift/Java, 50% JavaScript very little html/css since we use react.js and are porting existing ext.js) and the backend team writes a ton of rest api's, message queue processors, scheduled processes, and integrates with a bunch of third party api's. We also have a healthy and growing data science team. Point being don't write off a place just because it looks mostly web based.

As a side note if you want to move to Portland Maine, contact me I might have a cool place for you to work. :)

superuser2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
OS kernels, databases, networking and distributed systems primitives, backend business logic services, config management, orchestration, containerization, etc. A sufficiently large organization doing web or mobile service delivery at scale will be working on these things. Look for a "core infrastructure" or "systems engineer" role.

They may ultimately exist in a business's infrastructure to prop up some HTTP endpoints, but you can work on them for years without touching JavaScript/HTML/CSS or even HTTP. (A lot of people are using REST across internal services, but Thrift and friends are popular too.)

Then of course there's native mobile application development.

You might have some more trouble finding traditional non-networked desktop GUI apps to work on.

khedoros 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I found my first job out of college when I met someone at SCALE (Southern CAlifornia Linux Expo), building a backup system for a storage vendor. I expect my next job to come from following someone when they leave the company, or from an in-house recruiter contacting me on LinkedIn. I haven't had a lot of luck on the regular job boards, either.

I've gotten a little attention by contacting locally companies directly, but no success in actually landing an interview or a job. I still think it's worthwhile to get your name out there, even if the only benefit is getting practice in marketing yourself.

PaulHoule 7 hours ago 2 replies      
A lot of business software is developed for the web now.
alanctgardner3 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Reach out to some local companies that look interesting? Job search sites are a pretty poor resource in most cases - you'll do better from referrals within your network. Even cold-calling/emailing/LinkedIn messaging people at interesting local companies and trying to meet with them would be worthwhile. They might not have a role, but they'll have connections in the industry who can help you.

If you don't have any EE experience, it might be worth doing a second degree - graduate or undergrad. EE is pretty different from writing code.

naner 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Look beyond the "standard online outlets".

Reach out to contacts if you have them (friends/mentors from College and your personal life).

If you know specifically what you want to do and you want to stay in your current are, seek out the companies in your area that do this and monitor their job boards and/or reach out to them directly.

You can also try volunteer work, professional comp sci and meetup groups that meet your interests, etc. to expand your network.

Basically try anything you can think of besides just searching online job listing sites, that's the least-effort approach and you'd be lucky to land a desirable job that way.

vidanay 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Contact me. My distinctly non-web company should be hiring a developer right at that same time frame. Western suburbs (Aurora) location.

david dot nay at gee mail dot com

hyperpape 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Even at my company, which does enterprise SAAS with a web front-end, about 20% of the developers do minimal to no front-end work (integrations, document generation, optimization tools for trucking).

That's numerically not great, and we mostly advertise for people who can do web programming, but the positions may exist.

Of course, it depends on what you want to do that's not web programming. Do you just hate the web, or do you have something specific you want to do?

mahyarm 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There is web front end, then there is backend which can be a lot of different things. Ranging from simple CRUD APIs, interesting map routing engines, web search, messaging app servers and so on. There is also mobile, where you can program ios and android apps in many different languages.
Pxtl 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Even if they're web, web companies still have back end work. If it's enterprise, 90% of the job will be interfacing with hoary 3rd party APIs or antediluvian databases. I hope you like XML.
petke 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it depends on the language. As a cpp programmer its easy to find a job. You wont find many web or frontend jobs here. Its mostly backend or stand alone applications.
vonmoltke 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The defense industry has large numbers of such jobs. Of course, that means having to deal with all the crap that comes with government contractors.
beachstartup 7 hours ago 0 replies      
every sizeable company (web or not) has a contingent of developers who don't touch anything frontend-related. these generally fall into the categories of systems automation, data wrangling, or specialized things like machine learning or information retrieval systems (search).

also don't forget about good ol' fashioned systems administration, which is heavily developer-driven now. your job could be to try to code yourself out of a job.

randycupertino 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought ziprecruiter was a scam until I got called in for three interviews from having my resume on there. Might be worth checking out. They were from good firms, too. I was actually shocked that they used zip recruiter!
paulpauper 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I did a search for Walmart jobs in my area ( a large metropolitan area) - zero hiring. With the exception of certain types of jobs, there has been little hiring since 2006 or so. The supply of labor vastly exceeds the demand, for many jobs. We're definitely moving to a 'post-labor' economy, with more 'gig' jobs and fewer salaried ones. In 2011, Mc Donald's had a national hiring day, receiving over a million applications but accepting only 50,000. Too many people, not enough jobs.
Ask HN: Is there an HN type site focused on medical news?
6 points by jonjlee   ago   2 comments top 2
randycupertino 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been looking for this, too. We have reddit.com/r/healthtech which I moderate but it's not that active right now. Trying to make it more active. :)

Also reddit.com/r/medicine but that is kind of more clinicians and less health tech. There's also reddit.com/r/telemedicine.

Personally I wish there was a way to sort HN via topic, so you could get all the medical news easily separated.

(am a telemedicine nurse at a health tech startup)

There's also RockHealth which you can follow on facebook but they kind of feel scammy imo and generally seem to only promote their own companies. Also you can sort by healthtech on techcrunch: http://techcrunch.com/tag/healthtech/

Kinnard 10 hours ago 0 replies      
No, you should build one.
Ask HN: Should I run an API and client on the same server?
4 points by NetOpWibby   ago   4 comments top 2
mod 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It's fine to do that, just compose them in a way where it wouldn't matter if it were another server.

That way it's easier to migrate off later, if needed, and easier to scale as well.

mtmail 8 hours ago 1 reply      
rest-server.py uses the flask framework which just happens to default to localhost:5000. You can run it on any IP address or domain, see http://flask.pocoo.org/docs/0.10/deploying/#deployment

Questions of the kind "how to I do X in programming language Y" are better answered on stackoverflow.

Ask HN: What technologies would you like to invent?
6 points by 8sigma   ago   9 comments top 6
staunch 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
Everything between where we are and Star Trek. Shuttlepods. Food replicators. Holodecks.
droidist2 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Improved dentistry. "Drill and fill" is so primitive, and it's a shockingly inexact and error-prone discipline.
sidcool 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Artificial blood creation and human organs printing. Kidney damaged? Here's a brand new one. No immunity suppressants required
miguelrochefort 3 hours ago 1 reply      
A 100% better language.

Communication is humanity's bottleneck.

eecks 6 hours ago 0 replies      
ankurdhama 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Space Travel technology that allow humans to explore any part of the universe. Right now we are the frog in the well.
Ask HN: Can someone point to a good Swift repository for example?
11 points by davismwfl   ago   5 comments top 3
wsc981 1 day ago 1 reply      
Apple has a few Swift repo's on their company Github account: https://github.com/apple

Since the Objective-C code of the AFNetworking library was very well written, I expect the Swift version to be of similar quality: https://github.com/Alamofire/Alamofire

Apple also published a Swift book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book-series/swift-programming-se...

hugodahl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Josh Smith has several very good ones on GitHub [1], including one related to the development of a Swift based tic-tac-toe game as an end to end process, which he blogged about [2], which is the first article in the series.

[1]: https://github.com/ijoshsmith

[2]: http://ijoshsmith.com/2015/11/27/developing-tic-tac-toe-in-s...

jamesk_au 1 day ago 0 replies      
Plenty of examples and resources in the Awesome Swift repository:


Ask HN: Good forums to ask/talk about Delphi?
3 points by vram22   ago   2 comments top 2
throwaway230184 5 hours ago 0 replies      
For technical questions (problem solving) StackOverflow has a good number of very active and knowledgable people. For opinions and more general talk, the Google+ community is a good place: https://plus.google.com/communities/103113685381486591754
vram22 9 hours ago 0 replies      
That should be comp dot lang dot star delphi star, above, not delphi in italics, sorry.
Ask HN: A felon has offered to invest in my startup, what are the implications?
14 points by ThownAway   ago   4 comments top 4
davismwfl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would third what you have heard here. A person that never served time for a felony that was not financially focused (e.g. wasn't a crime of dishonesty) would not be excluded from participating in a round of friends and family. Especially with no voting or board seat.

If you are exceptionally concerned have the individual invest via a LLC or separate company, but I doubt any future investors will care either way as they will only be focused on your ability to deliver and as long as that isn't compromised you are good.

There are some restrictions on a felony conviction in the SEC rules but I do not believe you would trigger them by taking funds from the person. IANAL but I believe they only become a factor if the person has a material interest or has a voting/board position in the company.

jeffmould 1 day ago 0 replies      
IANAL, but there is nothing illegal about an investor with a felony record, and there is nothing illegal about having an employee or board member that has a felony conviction. Now with that said, in the case of moral turpitude charges (i.e. fraud, theft, etc..) there could be some push back from investors or the board if the individual is going to have a say in operations or a seat on the board. There could also be pushback if the charge was business related (i.e. they stole from a previous employer, were involved in a investment scheme).

In this case though from what you say, a drug charge, no convictions since, with that much time since conviction, I personally wouldn't even worry about it. If you know the individual well, are willing to go to bat for that individual, and it is a problem for someone else, that is their problem and probably not worth your time fighting over to convince them otherwise. At the friends/family stage though, this level of concern is even further reduced in my opinion.

brudgers 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Investors invest to make money. As outlined, it doesn't sound like it would make a difference beyond providing an excuse. For what it's worth Robert Morris of Morris Worm fame is a YC partner.
edoceo 1 day ago 0 replies      
From my experience, old (>15yr) convictions that didn't require time served are a non-issue. Especially given the recent small business operation.

Investors do care about the group they are investing with. I think you can make a clear case that this party is a low risk.

Ask HN: Who has sold an algorithm and how?
19 points by daniel-cussen   ago   10 comments top 3
secondtimeuse 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In some cases, you can patent a major application for that algorithm and then license that patent. From what I know Larry and Sergey patented PageRank for Web Search. My advisor has patent on a Graph Cuts algorithm for image segmentation, which is licensed by Cornell. If you have a fast matrix multiplication algorithm e.g. for use in Fully Connected layers for Neural Nets. You can patent that application. When FB hired people from NYU to work on deep learning, the acquisition involved getting a fast fourier transform optimized version of convolutional layers. Not sure how big of a component it was.
daniel-cussen 2 days ago 2 replies      
OP here. So one algo I have is fast matrix multiplication algorithm, especially for sparse matrices. Faster asymptotically and in real-time than what's out there, and with better accuracy.
meeper16 2 days ago 3 replies      
Hedge fund algorithm developer here. I've sold a few of these but it's mainly been based on taking 20% of the net profit and largely confined to the financial industry.
Ask HN: Getting back into programming with a hackers mindset?
71 points by facetious   ago   56 comments top 24
super-serial 1 day ago 3 replies      
Coding without purpose is like eating by using a feeding tube. What's the point?

I've done useless projects at school and at work but the point of those projects was to get credentials or money.

If you're doing this for fun, you should start with something you want to make. A game idea, an app idea, a robot that does something. Break the problem into the smallest parts and start with that.

I also hate complicated compiling processes, bloated tools, or anything to do with configuration. But that's just part of software development. You'll have the motivation to plow through that if you really want to build something.

glossyscr 1 day ago 2 replies      
I was in a very similar situation after I spent decades working as an executive totally forgetting my tech skills I had when I was young. Before I reached 20 I wrote an heavy ERP system and few years ago I was even afraid to touch the shell of a bare metal server (which is btw fun and very satisfying, once you got into it you literally feel the power).

Since I love tech and programming I wanted to get back, not to find a tech job or run a tech startup, no I just wanted something to distract myself after work. So I began dipping into random languages, libs & frameworks. Bought books, read tutorial and did crash courses. I chose popular and new tech, stuff that matters and things which frequently pop up on HN. From mobile development over functional languages to the hottest JS front-end libs. I played around but usually after a few days I lost quickly any interest, I didn't know why.

Eventually I found the best way get back again and it's easy: Look for a real problem you have yourself and you want to solve. Just for yourself, just to use it yourself. Once you identified the problem you search for the right tool and everything else comes by itself and before you realize you mastered a heavy language/framework in a few days/weeks.

Without a concrete mission which really must matter to you all efforts to get into any appealing tech such as Swift, ES6, react-redux, Android dev, Go will feel shallow and you'll end up wasting time going through tutorials/books/guides questioning your journey.

headcanon 2 days ago 1 reply      
My suggestion would be to try out Unity 3D - it uses a language similar to Java (C#), allows you to explore the basic AI stuff you seem to be interested in, and with their tutorials you can see the results of your work fairly quickly and you build actual projects from the ground(ish) up. And above all its fun, even if you're not an artist, or you don't come out with a polished game. If you're using windows you get the benefit of an awesome IDE (Visual Studio), but if not you can still get by pretty well, and Jetbrains is set to release a good cross-platform IDE for C# in the near future.
phodo 2 days ago 2 replies      
You can check out "handmade hero"[1] or "handmade quake"[2] on the software, game, c/c++ side. Then, you can try a port to java / android.

[1] https://handmadehero.org[2] http://philipbuuck.com/announcing-handmade-quake

waterlesscloud 2 days ago 1 reply      
I recently got a SDR (software defined radio) USB dongle, and playing with the data you can pull off the radio spectrum feels like my youth with my Color Computer and assembly language somehow. There's plenty of hobbyist code out there to use as a start, and the more you play with it, the more ideas you get for fun projects.

As far as language, Python is my current favorite. It just has the lowest friction by far.

ehudla 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you are looking for cool examples, download Norvig's IPython notebooks and play with them. As a bonus check out this very cool model of economic inequality.


brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
These days, it's so easy to just download a package for a language that there's no reason not to try out just about anything that interests you. Python, J, Scheme, Haskell, Ruby, JavaScript, Even Bash is an option.

It's a hobby, there's no reason to start with the overhead of an industrial grade IDE.

Heck you could just download Emacs and spend a long time writing code in Elisp.

Good luck.

darkmighty 2 days ago 2 replies      

Seems perfect for you (in short notice you should be programming little agents to collect resources and other rudimentary AI). It's great for learning.

mbrundle 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can relate to the experience of finding everything is totally different now to how it was before you took a break. I was a self-taught developer who then took a lengthy gap to do a PhD and postdoc. That ran into a dead end, and after much reflection, I decided I wanted to get back into coding. My blog has several posts about this thought process which may or may not be helpful. To cut a long story short, I did two online boot camps (one on Ruby on Rails, one on Swift iOS). The experience of coding with an experienced mentor that I could bounce questions off was really helpful, and I soon got that buzz for coding back. I'm now into my second coding job (as an image data scientist for a London fashion tech startup) and I'm loving it.

Please feel free to reach out if you think any of my experience could be relevant and you'd like to chat further.

rajacombinator 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Highly recommend using Python for whatever it is you choose to do. It's very fluid from thought to code without the language getting in the way. When you have a reason to pick up other stuff like Android coding, then you can pursue those.
richardboegli 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll probably get modded down or labelled a Microsoft shill, but since you have done VBA, I'd suggest having a look at MS Access. Here is my recommendation to someone else who was looking at what to learn:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9910744

C# using Visual Studio is a great next step as the IDE is first class. Microsoft give it away now free.

eru 2 days ago 1 reply      
The other commenters made some good points about which technology to choose to hack on. I want to add: find some like-minded people and hang out and hack with them.

Offline, face-to-face is best. But even online works better than nothing.

nrjames 1 day ago 1 reply      
I say start with Processing. It's a simplified superset of Java. With strong visual feedback, you'll get up to speed in no time. Very simple IDE. All Java is valid Processing. Also, you can make Android apps with it. It's very closely related to Arduino development, too. www.processing.org. Daniel Shiffman's books are great. Nature of Code is free online.
fibo 1 day ago 0 replies      

welcome back into programming. A lot of things happened since the 1990s :)

If you want to hack on a minimal dataflow engine, written in JavaScript (but the spec is really simple, it could be implemented in any language), take a look at dflow:


by now it can run server side or in a browser, but since it is a really flexible spec it could reach also other contexts like electron apps or AWS lambdas.

mark_l_watson 1 day ago 1 reply      
I bought a Raspberry Pi B recently. You get a Linux system with many pre installed programming languages and an environment intended to get kids/students interested with tinkering with computers.

I even used mine for all of my writing and work for about 5 days. Playing with the Pi brought back some of the freshness of my old hacking/tinkering days.

ehudla 1 day ago 1 reply      
NetLogo is a really easy and fun way to play with ABMs. Once you produce data from your ABM simulation, load it into Jupyter (previously, IPython) or R Studio and explore the data.
logical42 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're not hellbent on Java, I'd give Rails Tutorial a try by Michael Hartl. It gets one up and running fairly quickly, end-to-end, without the complications of learning an IDE.
flipcoder 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are some good recommendations here. You might also be interested in TIS-100.


You solve coding puzzles but in a very limited retro environment.

ShirsenduK 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tryout ESP8266 it comes with hacker happiness.
EliRivers 1 day ago 3 replies      
Cross out the word "hacker", because it's become so used and abused that it's now a filler word; it means something different to everyone. Some people define it as "person who can write a computer program", some people use it in the Stevn LEvy sense, some people use the ESR definition, some people just use it to mean anyone who is unconventional. It has become a phrase that means a different thing to everyone who hears it, without even realising it; much as when a politician says "our common values", and everyone interprets it differently without realising it.

So tell us what mindset you mean, without using the word "hacker".

RadioactiveMan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Look into exercism.io; it's a pretty cool way to solve problems while people provide feedback on your code. Better still, you can review other users' solutions and see how you could have done better.
YashN 1 day ago 0 replies      
Javascript, Python, Elm, Clojurescript, Arduino, FPGAs
chris_wot 1 day ago 0 replies      
It depends on the language (at least, that's what I found). I'm in a similar situation. I am currently working away on LibreOffice code (I'm also between jobs at the moment...) - but I started with them because one day I was reading their source code on OpenGrok, I was looking for the main function and when I found it I thought, "That a bit messy".

Then, for some reason, I setup their build environment on a VM, setup my git client to push to their gerrit and started making some easy changes. I've focussed on the VCL, which is a core component of LibreOffice, and the more I have read the code on OpenGrok the more things pop out at me. So I tend to submit patches.

Right now I'm reading up on how LibreOffice deals with fonts. It's a bit messy, but the code actually can be refactored, so that's what I'm doing! Actually, it's kind of fun. I rather like running doxygen to see what the collaboration diagrams look like after I've changed the class structure :-)

jodrellblank 1 day ago 2 replies      
You want to get straight into coding, but instead what you're doing is posting on a forum for a discussion for recommendations for a tutorial? Are you also scheduling a meeting to discuss the procedure for gathering a committee to plan lunch? ;)

I mean, I don't think you're deliberately being misleading, but it feels a lot like you're saying one thing, yet doing another. Just out of curiosity really, why haven't you already Googled and started - what are you holding off and waiting for? It would take, what, 10 minutes to Google a Java tutorial and open https://repl.it/languages/java and get some text printed, right?

I learn better by experimenting with other peoples code than by a textbook [..] Im looking for recommendations of textbooks


Ask HN: Do you work remotely? Would you use a robot?
6 points by avr   ago   4 comments top 3
jon-wood 19 hours ago 0 replies      
No, at least not without them being drastically cheaper. I don't really see what they offer that I can't get with Slack and Google Hangouts, other than very occasionally not having to ask someone to move the laptop I'm on in a meeting.
sharemywin 1 day ago 0 replies      
who would pay? that's probably the person you should asking first. Would an office pay extra for a tele-presense robot?
hobolord 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: Why don't US oil companies just buy oil from Saudi Arabia?
6 points by rsp1984   ago   5 comments top 5
smt88 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oil is really complicated. It is deeply tied to US foreign policy and all recent military conflicts. Lower foreign oil prices harm US oil producers, but they're awesome for almost every other industry (unless they bought oil futures!) Lower fuel prices also make it easier for people and goods to move more cheaply/freely around in an economy, which is also incredibly good for everyone!

I don't know the answer to your question, but I did some research and will also speculate. I could be totally wrong.

I don't believe there's a tariff on oil imports in the US. So why don't US oil companies buy foreign oil? Probably because the infrastructure required to move and store oil is incredibly expensive, and because the oil buyers could just go straight to the source.

The amount of oil that would have to be purchased in order to increase prices again is totally astronomical. I imagine most oil companies prefer to have low storage costs and therefore try to avoid overproducing, which means they probably don't have massive amounts of unused storage space.

whip_lash 1 day ago 0 replies      
OPEC produces 33 million barrels of oil a day. You know how big an oil barrel is. I'm not sure how much American companies would have to buy and store to significantly affect the price, but lakes full, at vast storage costs.

According to your article Dow bought "hundreds of thousands of pounds" of bromine and based on a quick Google search a pound of bromine is about the size of a pill bottle. So one warehouse full.

ap3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Their operations have costs: loans, operating costs, and they have to at least get a return.

If they stop pumping oil tey are down to zero. What funds do they use to buy up the world's oil? Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia will just keep dumping oil while still taking in profits

DOW was able to buy up all the bromine - today the oil will just keep flowing

DrScump 20 hours ago 0 replies      
To be refined... where?

Oil refineries have to be configured for a given class of crude. Prudhoe Bay differs from shale-derived, etc.

Arabian "light sweet crude" is the easiest to refine, but it still means differing processes.

falsestprophet 1 day ago 0 replies      
One would store a commodity if one thought it could be sold at a higher price in the future.

Companies across the globe are storing oil including on parked tankers. Here is some data for US storage: https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/supply/weekly/

However, crude and distillate storage capacity is much smaller than consumption and production.

Ask HN: Does anyone know of a REST API for monthly precipitation in the US?
3 points by ob1gman   ago   2 comments top
Ask HN: Why is Azure so expensive?
63 points by tuyguntn   ago   63 comments top 19
nextweek2 1 day ago 3 replies      
Because its aimed at enterprises that have Microsoft OS's and applications. Those buyers are used to paying a premium and know they don't have to retrain staff.

You need to consider that the bulk of developers are actually using the Microsoft platform. For the most part they aren't interested in the free software community. Linux VMs are not an option for a lot of corporate tasks.

That is of course changing and probably the main driver for Microsoft being more open.

thomas11 1 day ago 0 replies      
Azure just recently announced price reductions to be competitive with AWS. The blog post has some interesting links.https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/helping-azure-custome...

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft.

yulaow 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can just say that Azure and AWS cost more than Google Cloud because Google Cloud has the worst customer support I ever saw.
tyingq 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is Azure more expensive? I can't tell, in any simple way.

Is there a place that offers some simple apples-to-apples comparison for typical use cases? All three require complex calculators that account for bandwidth use, ip addresses, etc.

Edit: I do see some tools after searching some, but they are all flawed a bit because the three providers don't all offer the same thing. Azure's 2 core machines start with significantly more RAM than Google or AWS, so it's not a great comparison. The tools don't make that sort of mismatch easy to see.

tuyguntn 1 day ago 3 replies      
Comparison (not exactly apples-to-apples):

~3-4Gb RAM: Azure (2cores, >100$/month), Google (1core, ~25$), AWS (37$, or compute optimized 75$)

high memory 13-14Gb: Azure (>246$), Google (~63$), AWS (16Gb, >172$)


UPD: Thanks to tyingq, Azure 3-4Gb RAM (2cores, starting from 70$)

OrionSeven 1 day ago 0 replies      
For our use case (fairly standard windows setup, sql server, about 8 VM's in total) Azure was less expensive, more so after we setup and saw true costs. We run our dev and test environments there and were able to get faster hardware & more storage for less as well (about 10% less for about 20% more). But again, that's a pure windows setup, comparing other components gets tricky because of different pricing models.
cldellow 1 day ago 1 reply      
We recently explored putting about 25 of our VMs in Azure.

For our workloads, Azure is a worse deal. Broadly, we found that compared to EC2 instance types, you paid a slight premium of 20% or so to get 2x the RAM and 100s of gigs of ephemeral SSD storage (vs little or no SSD storage), while taking a perhaps 30% hit in CPU performance.

It's not terrible, and depending on your workload, might be better than EC2. I'm personally very partial to Amazon's spot instances and t2 family types, neither of which Azure offers.

Even so, compute only represents ~25% of our AWS bill. For enterprises who have significant Windows/AD investment, Azure might be a no brainer from an ops cost point of view.

sargun 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wont talk to the benefits of using Azure versus AWS versus Google Cloud, but Azure's sales model is a bit different.

If you're looking at Azure, and on HN, my guess is you're probably a startup, in which case you want to look into Microsoft Bizspark (https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark). This drastically changes Azure prices. If you're a larger company, Azure is all about enterprise sales, and bundling. If you buy multiple Azure services along with Windows, and O365, the Azure part is dirt cheap.

forgottenacc56 1 day ago 0 replies      
Setting aside the cost which I thought similar for Linux.....

If you are running Linux , azure works really well. Give it a try if you can set aside your bias.

forgottenacc56 1 day ago 0 replies      
This post should be flagged.

The OP needs to quantify the statement about azure being expensive or else it will just sound like anti-Microsoft fud.

pshyco 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So expensive? Can you please provide some data / your usage to back you statement?
polskibus 1 day ago 3 replies      
As far as I understand Microsoft licensing, in normal VPS + Windows solution you would have to pay Windows Server CALs for each user connecting to your web app on that server (even if you dont use windows authentication).

In Azure, MS frees you from that CAL charge.

I would be grateful if someone could confirm or reject this licensing issue - I heard it once from a MS employee but perhaps he misunderstood the thing about VPS somehow?

outside1234 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is more expensive? The pricing seems on par with Amazon.
TheSwordsman 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a good question. I don't know of one.

There are some issues I've seen while trying to run systems there. Some of the network configuration there is very strange, and I've seen some crazy performance issues. Their API is very painful to use as well. Lastly, they run an agent on your node that can gain someone root access (worse than Linode's ability for someone to do that). Finally, their control panel has a basically unlimited session lifetime. I don't think I've had to log in once within the past 60 days.

I've found that systems running in Azure reliably perform worse than AWS. Systems in Azure with about the same CPU and RAM have worse performance by anywhere from 2x to 10x. I'm using this based on seeing things like GC run times in both Go and the JVM. The systems report 0.00% CPU steal, no idea where the bottleneck is.

Their network also leaves some to be desired. One of the biggest pain points is that they drop ICMP Echo / Echo Reply on the edge of the network. So doing network troubleshooting across the WAN is challenging. Another issue is that they seem to often either drop or de-prioritize UDP packets within their Fresno location. This causes some issues with software that uses UDP for communication. With that are the weird, and confusing, mix-match between NetworkSecurityGroups and Endpoints, with only one of them being configurable in the UI.

The last thing is their API and the SDK (at least Ruby). Their API is an XML behemoth with incorrect documentation (e.g., the example URL using a wrong path in the docs), and severe performance problems. There are times where the API takes over a minute to respond to a request, sometimes taking longer to respond with an HTTP 500. Their Ruby SDK, at least, isn't so much as an SDK as a library that's meant to be consumed via IRB.

Lastly, the nodes all run an agent called WALinuxAgent. This allows Azure to take action on your node without your approval. It can also do things like add new users to your node, and give then full sudo access. This is also done without a reboot, so you have no indicator that someone just took this action on your system. Scary!

I've also seen this agent get weird responses from the endpoints it talks to causing it to think it should reprovision your node. It proceeds to then rewrite your SSH host keys, vomit an exception, and then exit. It's brilliant.

Trying to get help from support is impossible. I've had issues with the quality of the responses given, but also issues with them just never responding to open issues. AWS's support team should be commended in comparison.

craigvn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it even relevant? You need to work out how much your hosting costs as a percentage of your overall expenses. In my business it is less than 5% running on Azure. I could convert to AWS and save a bit and it might be 4%, hardly worth the effort. If you have hosting costing > 10% then you have bigger issue, not enough revenue, or terribly inefficient software.
yuhong 1 day ago 0 replies      
hkmurakami 1 day ago 0 replies      
My guess is that they are selling to existing MS stack install bases hat are much more price agnostic.
aclatuts 1 day ago 1 reply      
Azure/Google is definitely more expensive but that is probably because they don't treat their employees like crap.https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10065243
hayksaakian 1 day ago 1 reply      
if you need windows VMs it's alright
Ask HN: What book changed your life in 2015?
26 points by anildigital   ago   11 comments top 9
elbasti 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Note: I am an atheist, but "Jesus and The Disinherited"[0] was a very influential book for me. I read it after seeing this review[1] by Chris Blattman, social scientist at columbia.

It helped me understand the relationship between fear, oppression, hatred and crime.

It also gave me renewed disdain for the evangelical (as in, spreading of gospel) european and american tradition, a disdain which is probably shared by the author.

Before reading the book, I had never really "understood" Martin Luther King Jr. How could it be morally right to want to integrate, forgive and even love one's oppressors? I feel like I have a better understanding of the civil rights movement in the US, and perhaps a slightly more optimistic view of the future.

[0]: http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Disinherited-Howard-Thurman/dp/0...[1]: https://chrisblattman.com/2015/09/29/fear-and-what-a-centuri...

cconcepts 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Cost Of Discipleship by Deitrich Boenhoffer. Being aware and committed to something bigger than myself rather then trying to find the next thing to make money and potentially become, as Tim Ferriss calls it, another fat guy in a red BMW.

These individuals have riches just as we say that we have a fever when really the fever has us. Seneca

jaksdhkj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Victor Frankl's, "Man's Search for Meaning". Title says it all. An incredible book that shares an incredible perspective. Helps me get perspective while providing insight so that it doesn't all seem pointless.
perseusprime11 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The good gut really changed our lifestyle. Lot of good advice that is actionable with sound research. I try to not use antibiotics, drink kefir in my juices, eat more wheat bran in my diet. Amazing how corporate America has eliminated most of the fiber from our foods. Must read for anyone who wants to improve their lifestyle. It starts with the gut!
Sol2Sol 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I had pretty much given up on the self help genre but a comment left by a poster on Youtube video led me to the book. Something about the title grabbed me and I read not only The Power of Now but 3 of his other books as well over a 3 week period in December - all of which strongly resonated with me. I live my life - really each present moment - differently because of Tolle's teaching. So my life changing books for 2015 - all by Eckhart Tolle were:

The Power of Now;Practicing the Power of Now;Stillness Speaks;A New Earth

eswat 1 day ago 0 replies      
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine.

The last few months of 2014 and the first couple of months in 2015 - when Canadian winter SAD and the stress of starting a new business kicked in - really did me in mentally and I was going through a severe bout with depression.

This book was recommended to me by a friend and founder. It gave me the tools I needed to deal with the ongoing BS life tends to throw at you. Amazing how powerful and still highly applicable a mindset developed centuries ago can be today.

firebones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Steven Pressfield's "Turning Pro" got me out of a rut. I usually don't go for this type of book, but it is more or less a couple of hour read and it helped me establish a better mindset that I've been able to build upon.

It really reminded me of the Admiral McRaven speech about making your bed, which is occasionally quoted here:

> If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another, he said.

montbonnot 1 day ago 0 replies      
none... my life is unchanged.
DyslexicAtheist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Antifragile by N. N. Taleb
Three lines to crash Safari for good
7 points by oliverfriedmann   ago   3 comments top 2
blackrose 1 day ago 1 reply      
It does some funny things in WebKit for sure. Messes up other JS in Chrome too: https://html.house/edit/ecf7pczv.html
oliverfriedmann 1 day ago 0 replies      
Submitted a bug report to Apple / Safari.
Ask HN: Is there a webcast for the SpaceX Jason-3 launch tomorrow?
7 points by heraclez   ago   4 comments top 3
zackboe 20 hours ago 0 replies      
They've scheduled a YouTube stream and r/SpaceX's live thread as already started


jeffpalmer 1 day ago 1 reply      
I got a Livestream notification about it.

Here is a link to the Livestream Event: http://livestream.com/spacex/events/4695903

agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Previous link was http://spacex.com/webcast/

No guarantees though

Ask HN: What Products/Segments need an open source Alternative?
10 points by bhanu423   ago   3 comments top 3
japhyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I believe almost everything in the public education "stack" should be open. That would go a long way toward equalizing the opportunities available to students and staff in public schools. There is plenty of funding available for education-related products, but most of that is steered toward private companies. The quality of these products is often abysmal, particularly in the UI/ UX area and interoperability.
e19293001 1 day ago 0 replies      
A free software implementation of SystemVerilog for hardware guys. Hardware development is rapidly growing and the ways to over come its complexity in verification all requires proprietary software tools.
Jemaclus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most of the things I can think of are firmware, like for tractors, thermostats, hearing aids, etc. Things that are generally so proprietary that it's hurting the industries.
Ask HN: Best books/resources on technical writing?
33 points by philippnagel   ago   10 comments top 7
panorama 3 days ago 1 reply      
A friend of mine just published this[1], which is a quick read and inexpensive (free on Kindle Unlimited apparently). I'm not sure if I'm allowed to out where he works but he's the real deal.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Technical-Writing-Introduction-...

0xdeadbeefbabe 3 days ago 0 replies      
This could be a contender for best, at least, the manuals referenced here are better than most: http://www.helpscribe.com/2008/12/great-examples-of-technica...
kushti 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good article + links on how to write a research paper: (Write good papers - Daniel Lemire) http://lemire.me/blog/rules-to-write-a-good-research-paper/
schmalliso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone else linked to Write the Docs, but that conference is awesome and full of great tech writing advice.

Word Up! by Marcia Riefer Johnston (http://www.amazon.ca/Write-Powerful-Sentences-Paragraphs-Eve...) is also solid for improving the quality of your writing. The book itself is a bit precious, though.

How to make sense of any mess by Abby Covert is great for organizing (which is a big part of tech writing for me). Available on Amazon and now also at http://www.howtomakesenseofanymess.com/

niels_olson 3 days ago 1 reply      
* Strunk and White

* Chicago Manual of Style

* NASA Technical Report Writing (Technical Memorandum 105419 (1))

(1) A personal favorite: http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/1993001...

realcr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I once read a text by Steve Losh about how to write documentation, and I learned much from it.

I'm on a device with a glass interface so it's too difficult to get the link, but you can just google it.

Ask HN: Where to go to learn Modern C?
13 points by ghrifter   ago   7 comments top 3
rchiniquy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been writing C on and off for 27 years or so and I still enjoyed this book from the list on your stackoverflow link:

21st Century C - Ben Klemenshttp://www.amazon.com/dp/1449327141/?tag=stackoverfl08-20

You asked about "Modern C" and that caught my eye. Most instructional resources on C focus on facts about C without putting them into perspective as to which C era they belong to. "21st Century C" takes an explicitly modern perspective, is opinionated as to which aspects of C you can postpone or ignore, and provides updates for people (like me) who have mostly been familiar with K&R or C89. I found it a really fun read and would definitely recommend it as #1 for your question about "Modern C".

As to if you should learn C, I am super opinionated but I think C still has a lot of value, even for someone who doesn't describe themselves as "full-stack". The reasons are obvious: the kernel is written in C, libc is written in C, the webserver serving your web application is almost definitely written in C, but if it isn't, the compiler that compiles the language it is written in is almost definitely written in C (hats off to Golang for getting off their C compiler). Despite its flaws, I love C.

loumf 2 days ago 2 replies      
K&R is an easy read and it will give you the basics if you want to go further. Just realize that modern production C is different and don't copy-paste this code into real things (they are glossing over a lot of details -- especially with regards to safety).

Next, I'd try "C the Hard Way" which is just as beginner, but is an attempt to make C programs safer (and expose you to some of the glossed over details)

DyslexicAtheist 1 day ago 0 replies      
learning C the hard way is good.stay away from udemy for many reasons. they have been trending here with many bad news recently and are shady
Who handles conversion rate optimization where you work?
3 points by nathanlippi   ago   2 comments top
ig1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Generally at most companies past a certain size it's done by a product manager (who might sit in marketing/product/tech) and often via a tool like optimizely rather than direct engineering.
Ask HN: What is your favorite tech prank?
16 points by ternbot   ago   40 comments top 30
OrionSeven 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A few favorites we've done:

1) Placing an an Annoy-a-Tron (small devices randomly emits a sound) right above someone's computer under their desk. Employee goes nuts trying to figure out how a virus got on their system and tech support tears the system down trying to figure it out.

2) Hooking up a small air horn to an office chair, so that when someone sits down (and depresses slightly the pneumatic seat height leg) the airhorn goes off scaring the crap out of the seatee. This one happened to me, holy crap...

3) A classic, there's always a hunt-and-packer typist in the office. Switch a few keys on their keyboard.

4) Or a modern take of the key-switch, cover their keyboard with hello kitty stickers.

5) Place not one but three annoy-a-trons around a desk.

6) If someone has a combo wireless keyboard and mouse, but doesn't use one of the two, get out the piece they're not using and randomly press buttons or move the mouse about for some 'phantom wireless problems'.

7) If someone leaves their station unlocked, send a quick group mail offering to buy coffee for the team (or beer, or pizza, etc).

Stoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Round-robin email spoofing. Set up an array of people to email, each person in the array sends an email to the next person saying "Can you come over when you've got a minute, please", last person in the array sends to the first.

Watch as everyone in the office gets up and goes over to each other's desks.

thisisdallas 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I was in high school, I realized I could use the dos net send command to send any computer a pop up message.

First message: "Initiating mandatory inappropriate content scan"Second message: "Inappropriate content found...adding to log."Third message: "More inappropriate content found...adding to log."Fifth message: "User ID and Name added to log. Transferring to central administration offices."

The look on some people's face was priceless haha.

Soon they got wise to my ways and the gig was up.

I then found some Novell app that was installed on every computer that allowed the exact same thing but made it even easier! I think there was a list of names that I could select and then send a message. That didn't last long though. It was soon too blocked.

Any teachers out there? Don't let your students get bored.

Edit: I also just remembered each student had a personal network drive that they could access on any computer. Each student got something like 250mb or something like that. When you logged in as normal, you could obviously only access your drive and no one else's drive. I can't remember how but I figured out how to access other people's drive. The great thing was, I had read/write access :/ I could put anything in anyone's shared drive.

Come to think about that...I was a turd in high school.

zygotic12 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Got a tech friend who always carries a tool-kit? Place a large screw under their chair when they step out and casually point it out on their return. Watch as they dismantle chair.
firebones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh, man. Some of these are old school, some I participated in, some I heard about.

1) Homegrown, pre-internet, pre-SMTP homegrown email system in the early days. Engineer colleagues spoof an email from CEO, put nice guy on notice that CEO was hopping mad about his product and would be by late that evening to check on some issue, forcing the guy to stay there most of the night in terror.

2) Hunt and peck typer for a team lead/manager at the dawn of the PC era. Reports pry the keycaps off his IBM keyboard, swap the M & N. He types memos. "This computer is screwed up--these memos have all the m's and n's swapped! I think the PC is going bad" Colleague, a touch typer, sits down and says "Let me try." He types the memo flawlessly. "Works for me!" Eventually the touch typist gets bored of having to "fix" the PC with his magic touch and mercy is finally shown.

3) PR1MOS system. CS001 student walks out of computer lab, fails to log out. Edit login script to call itself on next login. Log out. That was really mean and probably pissed a lot of people off.

4) Sending bells to people's terminal sessions. Randomly. But only when they weren't paying attention. Cube farm fun.

How many of these things from the past would likely be grounds for termination/expulsion these days?

tehwebguy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Extremely targeted Facebook ads. It will cost you like $10.00 but you might have credit from some hosting plan or email promo anyway

Also sent a fake "Exteme Marketing" Pizza Hut promo email to a colleague a few years back. It looked mostly normal but had lines like "BEST FUCKING PIZZA EVER"

jayrobin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Setting the desktop background to a screenshot of the desktop, then hiding all the icons and the start bar.
zem 2 days ago 0 replies      
way back in the day, a friend found a keyboard that had an extra "reset" key on it - it sent the ctrl-alt-delete sequence when pressed. he promptly bought one, sanded off the "reset" label and carefully lettered "ANY" on to the key. he then waited till the beginning of the college year and sneaked it into the freshman computer lab, then found a machine in the back corner of the room and sat back to wait.

sure enough, a kid comes in, sits down on the machine, goes through the login sequence, then hits the "press any key to continue" prompt. he scans the keyboard, finds the "any" key, and presses it. computer promptly reboots. kid waits, login screen comes back up, he goes through the sequence, hits any ...

he finally went to find the lab attendant TA, at which point my friend quickly swapped the keyboard back. so when the TA got there, everything just worked, and when it came to hitting "any key" there was of course no "any" key to be hit, and the TA explained what to do.

(epilogue: my friend's reputation had preceded him, the TA figured out he had something to do with it, and came by later to ask "how did you make that guy think there was an 'any' key?", and offer to buy the keyboard when let in on the joke)

ice303 2 days ago 0 replies      
back in the days of MS-DOS, using ansi.sys, I made a small .bat (and then converted to .com) file that would swap the Space bar ascii code for the 255 code (that provided an empy space). I renamed that small .com file also to ALT+255.com (making it look like " .com") and made it invisible.In the end of the autexec.bat file, I type the name of the executable file (" "). you could not see that there was anything there.My friends would go insane becase everytime they pressed space bar, the screen would indeed output a space, but it would always give an invalid directory error. It was so fun to watch.

Another prank, was a very bad one I admit.With the help of a friend, we made a fake Quake 1 loader. While it was outputting a lot of cool techno jibberjabber to the screen, it was running on the background a deltree /y c:\. > nul

This was a bad one, but hey. It was the time of Anarchy cookbook, and floppy disk bombs, and all those crazy things :)Cheers

such_a_casual 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a prank sound that makes it sound like someone is knocking if you're wearing headphones. Casual mode is to just send them a link with a picture that plays the sound. But if you wana be a baller, shot caller, one can write a script to detect if someone's headphones are in and play the sound at random intervals.
archimedespi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Adding `echo echo >> ~/.bashrc` to somebody's bashrc.

This will make the terminal scroll more and more as bash sessions are started.

However, people get used to this since it happens gradually, and eventually will go nuts trying to figure out why there terminal takes forever to start (it's scrolling pages upon pages).

perishabledave 2 days ago 0 replies      
Plug in a wireless mouse dongle to a non visible USB port. Move the mouse in slight random movements when they are using it.

Change the keyboard mapping.

Back in the 90's was installing black orfice on a friends computer, though they didn't appreciate that. ;)

poops 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was a dirty mouse program that would get installed anytime someone had their computer unlocked. Every few minutes you'd hear someone get pissed off and banging their mouse on the desk.

Another one we did was take a screenshot of a 404 page, and then randomly show that instead of the site that they were working on, but only for their IP.

A quick and easy one was to just crank someone's speakers all the way up, for the next time they play music.

hacknat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Install `sl` on everyone's machine. `sl -al` FTW.

Edit:cf http://man.cx/sl(6)

Gustomaximus 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few years back some friends and I made an April fools video about a new browser feature. Every now and again we'd get colleagues around the company let us know someone had mentioned it, without realising it as a fake, as their 'favorite feature' in job interviews.


apryldelancey 2 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite is a fictional one from "The Office" television show in the US. The one where Jim created a program that changed Dwight's name to diapers every time Dwight tried to type his name on his computer! I've been waiting for the chance to do a similar prank
DrScump 3 days ago 0 replies      
ASCII terminals often had a "status line" (25th line, typically) on which escape sequences could be used to display content that would not scroll off.

So, you just edit your target's ,profile (or .cshrc or .kshrc) to echo the appropriate escape sequence to greet that party with the message of your choice upon login.

arkadiyt 3 days ago 1 reply      
alias ls='echo Segmentation Fault'
lovelearning 2 days ago 1 reply      
Tell anybody who has a computer problem to just press ctrl+shift+f13.
lnk2w 3 days ago 0 replies      
Back when chrome had the startup overlay option (1 ~ 2 years ago) I changed the homepage of a friend's notebook to a male escort service website.
relaunched 1 day ago 0 replies      
Switch the keyboard to Dvorak.
jhallenworld 3 days ago 0 replies      
Aim the light sensor at the light it's controlling. Extra points if the light is outside a bedroom window :-)
flignats 3 days ago 0 replies      
Update a popular desktop icon's properties to shut down or restart the computer when clicked.
ghrifter 2 days ago 0 replies      
open up command prompt (or shell if mac) on my less tech-savvy friends computer. Then type in some commands


 dir netstat -b systeminfo

They usually freak out thinking that I'm hacking them. I act like I am too.

CyrilBoh 2 days ago 0 replies      
ctrl + alt + down (or maybe up)

Turns the screen upside down and quite a number of people don't know how to do it.

Another one is enabling scroll especially for someone who is working in Excel.

tmaly 3 days ago 0 replies      
wired a camera flash unit up to my dorm room's white board marker. gave people quite a jolt
ljk 3 days ago 0 replies      
a piece of paper under optical mouse
BorisMelnik 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can't go wrong with Alt+f4
muzani 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ctrl+Shift+W on a browser.
dmarlow 3 days ago 0 replies      
CTRL + alt + down
Ask HN: What countries is it impossible to accept payments from?
2 points by GigabyteCoin   ago   3 comments top 3
zhte415 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're dealing with payments, check embargo and money laundering regulations from first hand sources, don't second-guess what another website is doing.

International transfer of funds done wrong could get you into incredible 'I need a lawyer' territory very quickly.

BTW, Visa does not issue credit cards, Visa partners do. And they certainly do and work in most of the countries you listed.

jeffmould 2 days ago 0 replies      
First, I think you misread the Stripe global page. There is still restrictions on countries there.

Second, IANAL, but if you are a US-based company you may run into restrictions with accepting payments from customers in embargoed countries (i.e. Iran, Syria, etc...).

heraclez 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any country that does not have a credit card / online banking system, which represents easily a quarter of the world's countries.

However you may have people who live in those countries, with dual citizenships/also live abroad, that make purchases from within those countries.

AWS Blip?
5 points by edoceo   ago   2 comments top 2
ranrub 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had ELB issues all week - might be related to a change in their scaling policies.
chippy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe, twitter seems to be in trouble also
Ask HN: Is it illegal to tell someone that you quit a company?
11 points by caretStick   ago   14 comments top 4
alain94040 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, it sounds like your issue is not really a legal one. No reasonable company sues an ex-employee for telling someone else that they have quit.

There must be some bad blood here, or some underlying issue that is causing your ex-employer to freak out. Worry about that. If your ex-boss is some crazy paranoid, that's the problem right there. No amount of legal argument will make a difference.

ig1 1 day ago 1 reply      

Unless you have something bizarre in your contract it's unlikely they could sue. Unless specifically stated the fact that you quit wouldn't be counted as company confidential information. Further more given the person you told is a board member of the company it's not clear that anything you told them could breach confidentiality.

Normally most companies have a clause specifically saying you can't claim to work for them after you leave the company.

zer00eyz 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I'm now threatened with legal action"

You didn't elaborate on HOW you were threatened. If you don't get it in writing it didn't really happen. If it was a phone call follow up with an email to make things clear. You might find you get a fast retraction.

Your employment status is a fact that isn't proprietary, so it would be hard to argue that it should remain confidential, but that depends on the terms of your agreement.

In the end, you need a lawyer, not HN.

GFK_of_xmaspast 3 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe you should ask on the Lawyer News message board instead.
       cached 18 January 2016 05:05:01 GMT