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Ask HN: Why does a pizza app know my location and 911 doesn't?
30 points by ponderatul  8 hours ago   25 comments top 10
Someone1234 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I understand the technical limitations.

But here's what I don't understand at all...

Has anyone ever been sailing? On yachts we have radios, but these radios are designed assuming the person operating it might be completely ignorant.

So we have this literal red button, you lift a flap, hold down the button and the radio sends an SOS with complete GPS coordinates and boat name on Channel 16. Then it leaves it on channel 16 so you can describe the emergency.

So back to smartphones, on smartphones we have dialer apps, these apps know when you dial 911. Why in holy heck don't they have a big red button on-screen which when pushed sends your current GPS coordinates USING VOICE over the open line?

Here's what we need to do that:

- Dialer app. CHECK.


- Some kind of UI. CHECK.

- Text to voice system. CHECK.

We have all of the components to roll out a system TODAY which tells 911 via voice where you are calling from. It would almost be free, but we haven't, and nobody is suggesting it.

Everyone is talking about these crazy complicated standards that will, best case, be available in 2021 and cost ungodly amounts. I am talking about using voice which the operator themselves can type in.

Am I mad here? Why isn't this a thing? Why doesn't the dialer even DISPLAY GPS coordinates when you dial 911?

Seriously I bet if someone made this a big deal we could get Apple and Google to sign on almost immediately and this would be available within a year. All smartphones already have all of the prerequisites to do this!

johnhess 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You'd be really surprised how well the humans in a 911 center cope with antiquated technology. Visiting the center in Cambridge, Mass, I watched a dispatcher -- calm enough to almost seem disinterested -- do everything perfectly by being the "human layer" on top of the old system.

She entered scattershot information from a frantic caller, and using a combination of keyboard shortcuts, foot pedals (yes, foot pedals), and stand-up-and-hand-signal-to-a-colleague-while-keying-a-mic, dispatched an ambulance within seconds. Way faster than the caller would ever realize.

You're not just replacing software/hardware, you've also got to make allowances for the humans in the system. Little things make huge differences in those situations, so throwing the old system out is painful. Evolving the current one (as davismwfl pointed out) is challenging for its own reasons.

Doesn't mean it isn't important. Just hard to do.

davismwfl 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So having done a lot of work in the 911 systems for years, I have some first hand experience here.

First, most pizza apps are just that, an app. That app has access to your phones location data through GPS and some even use WiFi location services. Hence it can send a nearly exact position to where you are standing.

Contrast that to the standard phone network and systems ANI/ALI solution, which still does not (completely) support GPS coordinates at this point. In addition, while there were phases (phase I and phase II) of cell phone location compliance put into place by the federal government, most networks and phone companies lagged far behind in implementation of those standards. On top of that, city and county 911 dispatch centers (PSAP and secondary centers) also have to upgrade their phone and CAD integrations to support better location services.

As for why it isn't being disrupted. Simple, looooooooong sales cycles for an extremely limited market that is vigorously defended by the incumbents. Seriously, it isn't rare for a 2-3 year sales cycle for a lot of 911 components and systems. 18 months is about the normal when it involves critical systems with 12 months being probably the fastest you see anything change. Not to mention, the partners you need involved to make a solution work and be palatable to the 911 centers are the exact same companies who want to keep you out of their market, so it isn't easy. Not impossible, just not very probable without seriously deep pockets to support what would likely be a 3-5 year development to first sale. It makes selling to enterprises look like a fast process and cake walk.

db48x 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Because 911 was designed for ordinary landline telephones, before GPS existed, before computers existed. It's just a telephone call, not an app running on your phone.

Granted, it could rely on the software running on your phone to add information for the dispatcher, but not everyone has one, and not everyone who does has the same kind. And that's a good thing!

So it takes standardization, and government regulation. Standardization can work pretty well when there's a nice tight feedback loop with customers who are interested in the results (web browsers, for instance). How many telephone customers would switch phones based on the details of how well the phone supports 911-related features? It's not like we can test them without actually calling 911.

Government regulation can also work, provided you're willing to pay the costs: time and money. Lots of time, and lots of money. In fact, it costs so much for the government to regulate things like this that we end up in this exact situation. Phones have completely changed since the last 911 regulations were updated, requiring telcos to provide location information to 911 when the caller is using a mobile phone. It took years after that regulation was introduced before the telcos were compliant, and before all the local dispatch operations could use the information.

The same would happen today if new regulations were introduced requiring the phone itself to send this information; it would take years for anything to happen. (Though I bet Google and Apple could move faster than the telcos, they've certainly proved to be capable of that.)

And that's all ignoring the inaccuracy of GPS when inside of buildings, the time it takes for the phone to determine the location, etc.

Still, in spite of all of that, now is probably a decent time to start making those changes. It's been long enough since the last updates to the regulations, and new phones are capable enough now, that you'd have a decent chance of getting it done eventually.

underyx 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe a possible solution (and startup idea) would be to have an app for initiating emergency calls, which puts the user into a conference call with an assistant operator at the app's developer company and a 911 dispatcher.

- If the user doesn't know the location, and they have given the app permission to read GPS data the assistant operator could check the phone's location data and chime in with the correct address in the conversation.

- If the user is unable to speak, they could send text messages to the assistant operator, who would relay them to the 911 dispatcher.

- If the user is unable to do anything more than pressing a button, and if they've given the app permission for this, the assistant operator could check the messages or other data on the user's phone to try and find out what the issue is (e.g. domestic violence.)

- The user could initiate a video call with the assistant operator who could theoretically be able to more accurately describe certain issues (assuming they are better trained medically) than the user themselves could.

Jeremy1026 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Because pizza apps use the GPS chip in your phone to get the Lat/Long of your location, and sends it via HTTP(S) to the pizza shop. Currently, cell phones/cell networks aren't able to access the GPS chip on your device and send that data to the receiving party.
Broken_Hippo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It isn't just 911 in the states :: It is similar here in Norway and gives me a bit of worry... if I ever need emergency services, that is. I guess they can look it up, but it takes longer.

Here there is an app that will send that information to 911, without worrying about giving special permissions at the time of the call. I'm not sure why that isn't standard on cell phones everywhere, especially since phones generally come pre-loaded with apps. I know that landlines in the states send the information to 911, so I would think some people much smarter than I would be able to make an interface to go between the two. I suppose that would take some time, given how well the government seems to work together to get important things done these days.

aaron695 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a privacy nightmare. Phone can override all settings and send my location.

Not to say you cant make money off it.

YesThatTom2 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Yet another example of capitalism run amuck letting people die in the name of profits.

The phone companies COULD upgrade to newer technology right now, but that would cost money.


They could wait until it is a crisis and then DEMAND that municipal governments pay for the upgrade.

Which would you do?

Mz 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Because human society values selling pizza more than saving lives. If we really cared, we would have a 911 app as well and it would know exactly where you are if you use it to dial 911. But, nope, we don't actually care that much.

(This is not snark, in case you are wondering.)

Ask HN: What if a SuperPAC sponsored a voting machine bug bounty program?
2 points by WouldntItBeCool  2 hours ago   2 comments top 2
LarryMade2 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Many private funded PACS probably would offer money for expliots.... patching them... well.. depends on how publicly favorable their position is...
savethefuture 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Because if voting mattered, they would not let us vote.
Ask HN: Trying to remember name of startup that did named entity recognition
3 points by hardik988  4 hours ago   1 comment top
Ask HN: 9+ hours too long for interview process?
7 points by victorhugo31337  7 hours ago   4 comments top 4
Spoom 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Cynical alternative: The job is meant exclusively for H1B candidates, and the posting is just so they can say they had no qualified locals.
sharemywin 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't worry about the BS interview. I would imagine at some point they'll talk about thing things you've accomplished and it's important to show confidence and get through the parts of interview you know don't matter that much. If they hire some kid out of college versus someone with experience who tells them they can get up to speed quickly and do the job. Good luck too them. If someone does well on both more power to them, but unlikely. I kept pointing out I could look it up on the internet in 2 seconds.
WorldMaker 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It certainly ignores a lot of human productivity studies that indicate people rarely work at full manual labor productivity past 8 hours and full creative work productivity (including problem solving and often socialization skills) past 4 hours.

It certainly may be the case that they actually are interested in seeing interviewees past such points in a somewhat controlled environment.

Such "gauntlet" interviews seem common among large technology companies and while I think some of it is a semi-intentional attempt to push interviewers to limits to see how they react, I think it's also just as much "everybody else does it" and that continual momentum of existing interview processes. Which is precisely how such hazing processes in organizations get normalized and their problems ignored over the long term. (Yes, pushing someone to the limits of their productivity is strenuous activity and the very definition of hazing.)

rgovind 4 hours ago 0 replies      
May be ask them to split interview into two days. I have done it before and I don't think it negatively impacted anything.
Ask HN: Would you be interested in an open-source Amazon Echo?
13 points by throwawayvoice  11 hours ago   5 comments top 4
drdaeman 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If the idea's a complete autonomous, self-hosted system, then, of course it's interesting.

Especially, if it won't be English-only or, even better, could be taught other languages by a skilled end-user.

askldfhjkasfhd 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You may be interested in this -- Amazon open sources an RPi ALexa system. https://github.com/amzn/alexa-avs-raspberry-pi
taprun 9 hours ago 1 reply      
No. I don't want to have a device listening to everything I say or do.
essofluffy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: What are the best books for learning information security?
4 points by hwhatwhatwhat  6 hours ago   1 comment top
dsacco 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad you asked. This is a list I like to call, "how to become an extremely effective and formidable security engineer."

1. The Web Application Hacker's Handbook

Probably the first book you want to read; this will teach you the core mindset you need for finding security flaws in web applications as well as give a very strong foundation for the different classes of vulnerabilities.

2. The Mobile Application Hacker's Handbook

Good supplement to #1 for application security, obviously focused on mobile apps.

3. The Art of Software Security Assessment

The bible of the security industry. Especially instructive for source code review.

4. Security Engineering (Ron Anderson)

Supplements #3. Very instructive for injecting security into the overall SDLC and designing secure software.

5. The Tangled Web

Excellent historical background and good high level overview of many information security topics. Every engineer should read this, even if they don't work in security.

6. Gray Hat Python

Very hands on, good introduction to aspects of reverse engineering and the typical work an e.g. security consultant will do at a top firm.

7. Practical Malware Analysis

Very good introduction to malware analysis.

8. Practical Reverse Engineering

This book, along with #9 will teach you everything you need to know to effectively reverse engineer software for security-focused analysis.

9. Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering

10. The IDA Pro Book

You'll want this if you have any plan to work with IDA Pro at all, which is the gold standard for decompiling and reversing software.

11. The Shellcoder's Handbook

If you'd like to write exploits after you're done reversing software to find an exploitable bug, this is a good book to pick up.

12. Cryptography Engineering

Very solid and broad introduction to cryptography. Every engineer should read this, even if they don't work in security.

13. Introduction to Modern Cryptography

This book, along with #14 is what you want to read if you're going to work as a cryptographer or cryptanalyst professionally.

14. Handbook of Applied Cryptography


Theoretically, these books should resolve your known-unknowns and your unknown-unknowns. Anyone who reads and works through the list should be capable of designing secure software, finding errors in white and black box source code reviews and finding errors in white and black box penetration tests.

If you're looking to get into this professionally, feel free to contact me if you have any questions and I'll do my best to help.

Ask HN: Who is using Facebook's GraphQL in production?
25 points by pinouchon  16 hours ago   6 comments top 6
brotchie 3 hours ago 0 replies      
We considered it 12 months ago, but there wasn't yet a compelling Python GraphQL backend.

Our architecture has quickly evolved in that direction however: Higher-order React components mediating almost-declarative store accesses with all the back-end fetching, optimistic updating, etc handled transparently by common store logic. All objects within a store are flattened down into an id -> object immutable map with conventions for indicating a given object is loading, loaded, in-error, etc.

We'll be having another serious look at it soon. It will be interesting to see if we'll have an impedance mismatch between how we've built our data model on the backend such that GraphQL isn't a good abstraction. The idea of being able to declaratively express what you want to have in a given React component without having to write any store logic, etc, is super compelling.

harpastum 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks like Artsy.net is using it, according to this blog post from one of their developers: https://ashfurrow.com/blog/lets-steal-other-developers-best-...
brettjurgens 1 hour ago 0 replies      
we use it at Avant
genbit 9 hours ago 0 replies      
still alpha but we using it at priceposts.com
PhrosTT 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody using Falcor?
Ask HN: What's the best tool you used to use that doesn't exist anymore?
317 points by mod50ack  3 days ago   837 comments top 236
skrebbel 2 days ago 14 replies      
Jasc Paint Shop Pro. This tool had the useful half of Illustrator's features and the useful half of Photoshop's, it was blazing fast, and it combined them in a single program so you could mix vector and raster layers. This made it absolutely perfect for web-targeted graphics work. It was the first software I legally bought because it was so good and still affordable (a fraction of the price of Adobe's stuff - something like $200 if i recall correctly).

Corel bought it and turned it into a bloated mess of a photo management tool. IMO they should've just killed Draw and rebranded Paint Shop Pro as the new Draw, it was that much better.

Grue3 2 days ago 16 replies      
Google Reader. There are no replacements that a) update fast enough, and b) allow search for free. I know, I tried all of them.

Firefox had an amazing plugin called "Ubiquity", which was basically like command line for your browser and you could write custom scripts for it. It was seriously better than anything that exists today. They stopped developing it for some reason. Tab Groups is another feature that's now abandoned, despite being superior to everything else that exists.

Forte Agent (free version) - great text Usenet reader, now abandonware.

figushki 2 days ago 3 replies      
Free time. I used to use it to sleep, read books, listen to music, watch movies, play video games, do laundry, exercise, talk to my family, and cook my own food. I can do some of those things on the commute to and from work with apps, but it's not the same as when I had free time. I think google or facebook bought it and quietly obsoleted it in 2006. I'm still looking for a replacement. Someone suggested Activity Blocks or HabitRPG, but they don't work the same.
avar 2 days ago 15 replies      
A few things:

Everything not being 4:3 screens. I found it better for programming than everything being cinematic screens.

Back when monitor manufacturers were racing to make better / higher resolution monitors, instead of just leaving it at 1080p / 4k / whatever the current standard good enough for movies is.

The GMail interface before it started auto-converting the textarea to HTML when edited externally.

Console gaming when it Just Worked. Nowadays when I pop in a game it's update this and update that, long loading times etc.

E-Mail before we lost the "text should be text and not goddamn HTML" war.

frik 2 days ago 5 replies      
Please read it from a consumer perspective about consumer topics: (of course B2B is very different, where other things matter)

* products/software without DRM, always-online, analytics, tracking and spy "features" - bad for consumer personal privacy, and prevents second hand market, products cannot be owned anymore, try buying Windows 10, John Deer tractor, Tesla S without that crap

* Cash money: those Davos attendees started a war against consumers - electronic money transfer is useful, yes, but without cash money everything in daily life can be tracked and you can loose everything over night it's just a digital number after all, state wants negative interest rates ... just a matter of a mouse click, a normal consumer would get a kind of a slave, as we learned from cases like "1984" or various real cases like former state East Germany, while wealthy folks have numerous companies in various countries. Some states already started to limit the amount of cash money one is allowed to carry and eliminated entire cash notes like the 500 EURO note. Some probably fall for the propaganda that it's a way to limit criminals - as if those wouldn't use shell companies and electronic money transfer.

* Erosion of the idea of ownership: some like renting things and consume services, fine, but others prefer owning things like a house, a car, a computer device. And with ownership I mean also the possibility to sell the stuff to someone else and using it without an artificial time limit.

frik 2 days ago 12 replies      
* IBM ThinkPad T41p/60.

Lenovo T410/X210 where still somewhat fine. But these newer ultrabooks nowadays have less powerful specs than 5 year old notebooks. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon isn't bad, but a far cry given it's ultrabook less powerful specs than an 5 year old high end notebook. And these shitty keyboard nowadays, give me back the old keyboard layout like grouped F1-F12 key, better placed Home/PgUp/PgDn/End keys, etc. And an 9 cell battery that stand out on the back side - I want back my 15 hour battery life.

Please please produce the retro Thinkpad, as shown on the Lenovo blog - I want to buy one with high end specs, if it is available in 4:3 even better: http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/retro-thinkpad-time-machine/

* HP EliteBook 2560p.

Those newer EliteBook 820 have cheap plastic and a very crappy hinge with such a small angle. And the very thick edge around the display looks like the designer has gone completely mad. And the specs are lower than a 5 year old notebook. Bring back the older quality in a smaller form factor, or just offer the older device with up-to-date high end hardware.

* Microsoft IntelliMouse and Comfort Mouse 6000

Very good computer mice. (yes I am aware the later had a hardware bug with the middle mouse click but who cares). Their newer keyboard and mouses are all wireless and all with crappy design - designer gone mad. Very sad story. It get's harder and harder to find a suitable good traditional standard quality mouse and keyboard these days, that were so common 15 years ago (and cheap as well). Not everyone needs a gaming device (expensive and last only like 2 years) nor would like to use ultra cheaply made crap for small hands only. The normal products aren't available anymore as it seems.

I hope it doesn't sound too negative, sadly some devices aren't available in a quality we used to have available in mainstream. On the other side, a lot of other things I haven't mentioned got a lot better than what was available some years ago - but it isn't the topic in this discussion.

lettercarrier 2 days ago 4 replies      
The Telephone with Dial Tone and associated Busy Signal. A busy signal meant nobody could contact me; Also, by either not answering the phone or by simply taking the receiver off the hook I controlled interruptions. And, nobody became concerned if they did not hear from me in an hour, 1/2 day, day or even week. And I had no concern if I did not hear from others either in that timeframe.

So the "tool" to maintain privacy was very controllable by me and nobody would think otherwise.

Any Norton productdBase III

jasim 2 days ago 3 replies      
The xBase family of languages/development environments. They are still around - Harbour (open-source multi-platform Clipper implementation) and Ashton-Tate dBase which changed many hands and is now dBase LLC.

They were one of the fastest environments to build business software in till the early 90s. Then Client/Server and Windows happened. Visual Basic and Delphi occupied the niche with support for SQL based databases. xBase tried playing catch-up but by the time they caught up clunkily to GUI programming, the effort was wasted and the Web came around.

This is how xBase was loved:

 This isn't a question or a bug or a complaint. This is just to say that using your prg files from Foxapp, modifying the startup, creating a database, compiling and debugging I created an beautiful working application in 45 minutes today, including the time it took for the client to explain what they wanted in the database. The client was duly impressed, and I marvelled at just how much 2.0 had made programming fun and had increased my potential income. I am now taking on programming jobs that would have been painful in the past, and find that I can afford to do some pro bono work knowing that with Foxpro 2.0 and my distribution package I can whip up a quick database for the church or the school or anybody who just can't afford custom programming. I've been hacking PCs since I bought an Apple at Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto from a couple of kids who were building them in a garage. (In those days they were talking about marketing them as a multilevel, like Amway). I've played with a lot of software, ranging from user-hostile to stuff that curls up on your lap and talks dirty in your ear. But Foxpro 2.0 is something special. What you folks have created is an elegant solution. When you finaly go public, may you all cash out as rich as Bill Gates. Please thank all the Fox folks for me. Charles -- "Letter from a FoxPro admirer". FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software, Kerry Nietz.

hoof_marks 2 days ago 9 replies      
Windows XP and its search feature- Win7 above does not have it.

Yahoo Geocities- simply miss it. and also Yahoo in general. My current yahoo mail is chock a block with spam mails. plus their ads.

Xerox Ventura desktop publishing software- that was cool when book publishing was required.

Motorola T90/91 basic mobile phone. superb and handiest phone used. Current Moto is smart but not unbeatable.

Most importantly old BSNL (India) Landline tariffs- you could talk for hours and still the billing would come per call-wise. Simple unbeatable !!

Non- Microsoft Keyboards- here they are out of market. THe MS keyboards go out of tune/get stuck over time.

Softwares that would never needed to update- These days it is a harassment to see every software on my PC requiring to update. Now its gone to mobile phones. God knows what is it that they do in updates.

Tap water- 2 decades ago we would drink water straight from the tap or just plain filtered. Its impossible now. The water is too contaminated and needs added filtration devices at home/work. or bottled water.

Paper bags at the grocery shop. They've vanished giving place to cheap plastic bags. And many products are now using plastic wrappings that would come with paper ones.

A more silent neighbourhood- these days its high intensity horn blaring.

rsoto 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm gonna echo on Winamp. Now a Linux user, I really miss a real good mp3 player.

Winamp was light, aesthetic and very good on its design. One feature I still miss is the global hotkeys, you could map Ctrl+Shift+Z to go back one song, on any window you were (hence the 'global'). I used to map the Z-X-C-V-B (the default bindings for Previous/Play/Pause/Stop/Next) to the CTRL+Shift+$key binding, and I felt like a wizard. Then there was a search function, with J, that you could also remap to a global hotkey.

Winamp was so good we should have paid for it to prevent a sale to AOL.

DonHopkins 2 days ago 0 replies      
Woz's 6502 disassembler built into the Apple ][ monitor ROM.


This early Apple ][ ad actually mentions it:


Check out pretty APPLE COMPUTER CO logo designed by Ronald Wayne, on this APPLE-I OPERATION MANUAL:


I think I'll print that out and stick it on the back of my MacBook Pro!

Newton --- "A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought --- Alone."


uola 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nokia N9.

The "more linuxy" Nokia Android competitor that was released late and dead on arrival (in terms of ecosystem), but was still years ahead of Android in many ways and fundamentally better in others.


rcarmo 2 days ago 6 replies      
The Psion Series 3 handhelds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_Series_3

A (tiny, but) usable, physical keyboard on a device that lasted _ages_, fit into a suit pocket and was eminently practical. The age of the PDA is long gone (heck, I'm typing this on an iPad mini), but we still haven't caught up with some of its best bits.

Razengan 2 days ago 4 replies      
Deluxe Paint: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluxe_Paint

ArtGem was a nice spiritual successor but sadly it's gone too: http://www.rlvision.com/artgem_about.asp

rcarmo 2 days ago 2 replies      
Graffiti on Palm handhelds. I owned the original PalmPilot and a couple of other models up to the Vx, and can still write Graffiti faster than I can type on a touch screen.

Discounting the Newton (which I tested but didn't own), there still isn't anything else that even came close in terms of practical "handwriting", and even though there's an Android keyboard that does Graffiti, ACCESS is sitting on the IP and has done nothing with it.

I'd forego a non-critical bit of my anatomy to have Graffiti on iOS with a decent stylus. Not even the MyScript keyboards come close.

RobertKerans 2 days ago 2 replies      
Macromedia Freehand, in particular deleting bezier points but keeping the shape intact (ie simplifying).

Illustrator still hasn't quite caught up. For any illustration, it's useful to have as few control points as possible. This is particularly useful when making SVGs for the web; it renders faster, and an ability to hand edit the SVG is useful for animation etc. Every font design package has this feature; Illustrator, even now, has nothing that does anything close to the same degree of accuracy. Occasionally they'll roll out an improvement in 'simplify', but I find it staggering that they can't just implement what is a fairly simple feature.

cperciva 2 days ago 5 replies      
Chrome, the fast, stable, and lightweight alternative to Firefox.

I don't know quite where it went off the rails...

Sanddancer 2 days ago 2 replies      
Crossties. It was a relational desktop for Windows 3.1 which could replace progman and allow you to set up associations with projects, contacts, etc -- for example, opening up someone's contact info would pull up the documents you were working on for them, etc. 20 years later, we still really don't have anything that can provide that sort of context on the desktop, or even worse, we don't have those kinds of relationships available for our phones.
kschua 2 days ago 1 reply      
Norton Utilities 8.0 and Norton Commander.

I loved the DiskEditor which enabled me to recover lost files by manipulating the FAT table, hack byte codes to bypass copy protection in the days when copy protection was done by reading in bad sectors in floppy disks.

Norton Commander for the ease of use to navigate file system in DOS days. I use TotalCommander now which is the best $40 I ever spent.

kriro 2 days ago 3 replies      
Borland stuff.

Some websites (author died, they faded away/are not the bleeding edge any more etc.). A good example would be the old Searchlores website (http://search.lores.eu/indexo.htm)...apparently the original domain is now owned by some marketing company. Yikes.

ishanr 2 days ago 2 replies      
Web pages without javascript. Even now I try to use the web without it as much as I can. So smooth and nice everything is.
rcarmo 2 days ago 1 reply      
XMPP. Yeah, I know technically it still exists, but having 8 different chat clients installed on my phone is ridiculous.
zevv 2 days ago 6 replies      
A phone with a proper SSH client and a real keyboard; I have owned and loved (in this order) the Nokia E71 and N900, HTC Desire Z, Motorola Droid 4 and Photon Q. But now I am out of options, as there are no worthy successors to any of these devices. Modern phones and tablets are not about production, but only about consuming. A lot of thought goes into the output devices, but the only input device - the touchscreen - is not enough to get real work done.

I still find typing on a touchscreen cumbersome, especially entry of special characters is a hassle. This makes managing remote systems or programming very hard to do.

anexprogrammer 2 days ago 3 replies      
Logitech Mouseman+


Best ergonomic mouse ever made. Fitted my hand perfectly. The extreme slant looks terrible but works far better than every handed mouse I've used in the 20 years since. There was a matching trackball if you preferred that.

Unlike every modern Logitech mouse made it did not break after a short life. It was thrown away because it was old school marble instead of laser. Lasted years in great condition.

Use that design with modern sensor, sell me one for 150, I'd buy it.

purerandomness 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lopster, a GTK+ file sharing client using the OpenNap protocol (which was built after the original Napster (which has nothing to do with today's Napster) protocol)

You could download songs in 320kbps mp3 quality, you actually owned the tracks.

You could discover home-made remixes of completely unknown artists, which could happen to be truly amazing, and which then got lost forever after the downfall of the OpenNap servers.

You had an insta-search feature where you typed something in a search box, and the track list actually filtered immediately.

I miss all of this and I would pay so much money (even monthly) if something like that came up again.

Yes, it was illegal, and you have streaming services like Deezer and Spotify today, but try searching for Adele. There's no point if you have to have 2-3 sources to listen to your favourite music. The movie industry is repeating the same fragmentation faults of the music industry. There's still no legal way to stream or download your favourite music and movies.

You have music communities like Soundcloud, but artists need to pay money to make their work public (laughably unaffordable if you're, say, in Romania) and the sheer amount of work went forever extinct, just like what happened to Grooveshark.

You could search your library, and the library would filter your results instantly by the letter you've just typed. This is impossible with today's SPA platforms. Not a single competitor does sub strig filtering, and by the time your AJAX request hits the server, you're already 20ms over the time the results would have been shown in Lopster.

There was a golden time when those Napszter clones were alive, anyone remembering WinMX? I'm delighted Soulseek survived until today, i'll see what's left from the legacy.

mrlyc 2 days ago 2 replies      
PC Outline. It's a DOS-based outliner. In 1986, my manager said "Here, you're organised. You'll like this" and he was right - I did. So much so that I bought my own copy. I still use it every day in a DOSBox DOS emulator on Windows 7 and Linux. I use it for passwords, todo and done lists, keeping track of work done for clients, functional decomposition, shopping lists and the steps for configuring and compiling the Linux kernel.
reitanqild 2 days ago 3 replies      
The internet when it was all web sites and I just learned about google.

Just before everyone and their dog got a "blog" and way before Facebook and Twitter.

ge0rg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Turbo Vision. It was the most sophisticated text mode UI ever created, with a stunning love to the little details (at least in Turbo Pascal 7).

Today it would still make sense for server applications, but the C++ port was rather horrible and nobody is still using Pascal :(

mangeletti 2 days ago 1 reply      
Adobe Fireworks.

Technically, it still exists. But, it's been abandoned for years, so it no longer "exists" than any more than the bytes of any other defunct program.

Sketch is far superior to Fireworks, so it no longer matters, but the abandonment of Fireworks actually caused me to completely stop designing websites, for years. It was too painful to use anything else, so I just gave up on it and started using Bootstrap to "design" sites.

krick 2 days ago 0 replies      
Internet free from government officials and old people. And all other bad things (like facebook) that did happen to it later.

From more recent times there was some nice hardware 5-10 years ago. All netbooks and such. Nokia N900. Simple portable music players, with sole purpose of playing music stored locally on it.

rcarmo 2 days ago 3 replies      
PageMaker: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_PageMaker

I used it to typeset nearly all of my academic work until I was forced to switch to Word by peer pressure. Adobe made a complete hash of it, and none of those files are readable anymore.

singularity2001 2 days ago 2 replies      
Action Replay

You could freeze the whole system (e.g. game) with the push of a button, increase your lives and resume ...


davidw 2 days ago 1 reply      
Open source guy: pretty much everything I was using in 1996 is still around, but better.
sgtnasty 2 days ago 1 reply      
A/UX Commando

"A/UX includes a utility called Commando (similar to a tool of the same name included with Macintosh Programmer's Workshop) to assist users with entering Unix commands. Opening a Unix executable file from the Finder opens a dialog box that allows the user to choose command-line options for the program using standard controls such as radio buttons and check boxes, and display the resulting command line argument for the user before executing the command or program."

4ad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Film cameras, they certainly still exist, but very few people use them anymore. And the ones still manufactured are either marketed as jewellery, or are crazy expensive.

My 100-50 year old family photos are sharper and better than pictures taken today with phones and cheap cameras. And expensive cameras are expensive and heavy.

At first I was very happy when the so called mirrorless camera appeared, but I was just too optimistic; the good ones are more expensive than an average DSLR, and lenses are still too big. Not to mention that they are full of bullshit software that will stop working in the future and batteries last a day or less. My DSLR battery lasts weeks/months and my film cameras (the ones that need a battery, most don't) last for many years.

Laptops with 4:3 (or 5:4) screens. For large screens (over 27''), I don't care as much about the aspect ratio, but for small screens is matters a lot. I'm looking forward to the ThinkPad Retro, but it will probably be a non-interesting heavy brick. We'll see.

antaviana 2 days ago 2 replies      
The iPad 1.It was great for web browsing but nowadays it dies when opening most web pages with advertising.
exDM69 2 days ago 1 reply      
For something completely different... a brace and bit hand drill for woodworking. It's almost impossible to find new drill bits that would fit the two jaw chuck, which doesn't have enough force to clamp on to a round bit with friction only.

A cordless drill is nice but not very accurate, useful for holes and screws, not for removing waste in joinery.

simonw 2 days ago 1 reply      
DabbleDB was a truly unique take on a refactorable, easy-to-use webapp database. It was aqui-hired by Twitter and shut down a few years ago.

I feel like AirTable is a worthy spiritual successor today.

Geekette 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yahoo Pipes. Meticulously remixed, filtered, etc RSS feeds rendered useless with no viable alternative to date. Curses to Yahoo, especially whoever made the decision to kill it.
elvicherrera 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you consider kazaa a tool, then kazaa. It was like limewire but a little older. This was one of the best programs ive ever used. It allowed for p2p transfers also. RIP Kazaa
realo 2 days ago 8 replies      
RPN HP calculators: HP29C (my first one) and HP41C (did university with it).

A long time ago, some demon soul from hell decided to kill them product lines. The world never was the same, afterwards.

hollander 2 days ago 6 replies      
Writing, with a pen.

I never do it anymore, but it worked great until I got a PC, a Psion 5, and especially after my first Macbook. Since then I barely write with a pen, and if I do it's cramped.

nirav72 2 days ago 1 reply      
I miss all those old school RTS games like Total Annihilation, Command and Conquer series, Age of Empires etc. No one really makes decent RTS games now.

Also miss all the pre-bittorrent P2P clients.

pavanlimo 2 days ago 10 replies      
Google Reader
johnx123-up 2 days ago 3 replies      
1. Delphi and its community2. OptiPerl http://www.xarka.com/optiperl/features.html

Though both are still available, not in use.

mehrzad 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm worried that DownThemAll and other major add-ons will be abandoned with Firefox's changes soon.
danieldk 2 days ago 2 replies      
Turbo Pascal

It had an awesome IDE, debugger, and help.

tedmiston 3 days ago 2 replies      
Attention span
chx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reveal Codes from WordPerfect. I am just typing text now, thanks god, but if I needed to format it, just a few years ago I needed to, I am so, so lost.
ivank 2 days ago 1 reply      
New laptops with a column of [Home] [PgUp] [PgDn] [End] keys on the right side of the keyboard, instead of nothing (or a numpad).
clarry 2 days ago 2 replies      
I miss my 19" 4:3 CRT monitor that did 1600x1200 @ 85Hz.

I want to play doom with it again. No matter what you do, upscaling a low resolution game to high resolution flat display just doesn't look good. Whereas a CRT, even a high end one, could switch to a low resolution mode and look crisp without turning the pixels into huge squares.

I see that "crt shaders" are popular today, but to me they all look like they're trying to replicate the look of a NES hooked up to a shitty old television. It's completely different from a high resolution computer display.

aslushnikov 2 days ago 1 reply      

Back in the days, when the service unified different messengers in a single web interface, also providing a handy history search.

raverbashing 2 days ago 1 reply      
A tiny DOS era tool called list.com

It was similar to less, but could show hex data, etc

It would eat any file for breakfast and display/page it without a hitch

wycx 2 days ago 2 replies      
4DOS. Tab complete in DOS!

Wikipedia says its now open source.


samwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Macrimedia (Adobe) Fireworks

Perfect mix of a bitmap and vector editor for ui and web design. Nothing since comes close, scetch is trying but isn't there yet...

spriggan3 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google Reader

Fireworks ( a image editor for web designers )

Livemesh ( which was way better than one drive, it could sync your entire computer in the cloud ).

logicuce 2 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft My Phonehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Phone

It would even backup my SMSes and let me search through them in an online interface. But then MS decided to shut it down within few months of me buying a phone because of this particular feature.

Well, MS does it often.

mindcrime 3 days ago 1 reply      
OS/2 (ok, technically it does kinda-sorta still exist, but for all practical purposes it's dead)
Zolomon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I miss Google Talk with the lightweight client for Windows.It was snappy and it just worked.
Alcarinquo 2 days ago 3 replies      
Good old PalmOS handhelds, such as Palm Treo 650 or Palm Centro. I still use Centro these days, but there is nothing on the market to replace it with.
rman666 3 days ago 2 replies      
MacProject and HyperCard
whatnotests 2 days ago 2 replies      

No, really. JavaScript hasn't quite caught up to what was possible ten years ago.

I'm tire of waiting for browsers to agree on video formats and protocols.

Sometimes a benevolent dictator really is better.

codezero 2 days ago 1 reply      
I quite miss webOS and my Palm Pre. The swipe area off screen was a great way to interact with the UI without reaching up to the touchscreen.

There was a lot to like about webOS in general too. It's too bad they came to market so late and sold to HP.

iqonik 2 days ago 1 reply      
techbio 2 days ago 4 replies      
tomcam 2 days ago 1 reply      
Visual Basic 3.0Any version of Turbo Pascal or Delphi.dBase II.
herval 2 days ago 1 reply      
Eudora! Never got used to any other desktop email client after it.

Also: Google Reader and Google Buzz, the proto-Facebook for me

bjelkeman-again 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interleaf, an electronic document application that did (nearly) everything Word does but better. Repaginate a 2000 page document, according to rules that you know will not place graphics hanging halfway off the page? Create a table of contents in seconds across several books? Lisp extension language? It was very good. All before Windows 2, and on UNIX workstations. The current document creation tools just make me want to cry.
m0rdecai 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Bing Travel - specifically the price predictor tool.
nekitamo 2 days ago 3 replies      
exabrial 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ethernet port on my god damn macbook 'pro'!!!!!
pknerd 2 days ago 2 replies      
Borland's Turbo C and Pascal
psbon 2 days ago 0 replies      
PageMaker, FreeHand & HyperCard!
todd8 2 days ago 0 replies      
Javelin comes to mind, but I used it in the 1980's [1]. There must be some better example; it seems strange to me that I can't think of anything else more recent.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javelin_Software

programmarchy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apportable. Amazing tool that compiled Obj-C to Android targets, and had stubs to bridge iOS frameworks to Android. Sounds impossible but it actually worked, really well. They had limited support for UIKit, and it worked flawlessly with Cocos2d so was great for porting games. They were starting to integrate with SpriteBuilder, a nice open source scene editor for Cocos2d but once Apportable pulled their support that community disappeared overnight.

Pretty sure they got acquired by Google, who are taking engineering in a new direction with a new project named Flutter that uses Dart as the source language, which is totally useless for porting over existing Obj-C code bases. Too bad, so sad.

qw 2 days ago 1 reply      
YUI library.

It was a very nice CSS and Javascript framework that was much easier to use for complex UIs than the competition. It had lots of good UI components with an integrated event and data source system.

One example is the data table. I haven't found anything better since, and most are not even comparable

therealmarv 2 days ago 1 reply      
ACDsee (a fast picture viewer) without any DB or clunky UI attached.
hartator 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think Macromedia Fireworks is one of most underated software. Since Adobe bought them, they let the software slowly died.
outericky 3 days ago 0 replies      
ReplayTV. I was able to record TV, and easily transfer shows to my networked computer for later consumption. I still have all the Good Eats episodes from 15 years ago.
paralelogram 2 days ago 2 replies      
RSS, Usenet newsgroups, netbooks, 4:3 CRT monitors, GNOME 2.x, non-BitTorrent file sharing networks.
lanestp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Q-BASIC. Just basic programming without any bloat or garbage. I feel sorry for kids now. Foisted on to Python or Java right away even the modern basics are bloated.
colllectorof 2 days ago 0 replies      

- ASUS MyPal (which I have and it still works) had much better battery life than any of the smartphones I ever owned.

- It had a consistent interface that wasn't a confusing clusterfuck of random shapes and expectations.

- The hardware was durable and extensible through compact flash slot.

- I could install software on it without going to a centralize store or going through some elaborate jailbreak. And while there wasn't a million free apps for it, there were good free apps, and finding them was actually easier than finding something on Google Play.

thirdreplicator 2 days ago 4 replies      
matt_morgan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Going way back, the easy answer for me is the Paradox desktop database from Borland. I used it in DOS in 1990; Windows kind of killed it. It was amazingly easy to build apps in it.


Although reading that page I see that it still exists!? So maybe it doesn't qualify for this question.

[Edit: I see the dBase/FoxPro family mentioned down below. Same idea, roughly. Also great.]

hyperpallium 2 days ago 1 reply      
Java before Oracle.
CapTVK 2 days ago 0 replies      
Turbo/fastloaders for the Commodore C64 Datassette.


And just be glad you don't have to use these anymore.

Loading programs from cassette was a pain. A game from tape could take 15-30 mins! Fast-loaders that could speed up loading by a factor of 10 were a godsend in those days.

vram22 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Turbo Pascal (mentioned by many in this thread).

I'll third or fourth or n'th Turbo Pascal and Turbo C (and a few other Borland products over time). (I know about their corporate issues and pivots, yes.)

TP 3.x: Under 40 KB .COM size (not MB, not .EXE). Blazingly fast WordStar compatible editor and true compiler (created .COM files) in that size.

Had a lot of fun working on it, and created one of my first freelance projects using it (started, somewhat unusually, as a freelancer, and then went on to jobs).

therealmarv 2 days ago 3 replies      
Total Commander (yes it's still available and still great but I'm not using Windows anymore, now OS X). I even miss Windows Explorer... I will never get in love with Finder on OS X.. most horrible File Manager ever. Finder is like a punishment for everybody switching to OS X (I want copy&paste and folders first everywhere, gosh). Thunar on XFCE was also ok. At least ForkLift nowadays helps me not to be angry at my Mac ;)
lisper 2 days ago 2 replies      
OS X Snow Leopard.
rosstex 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lazarus Form Recovery.

I suppose it still "exists" in that you can download it from the Chrome store, but all traces of its development have been wiped and it'll eventually die away.

jeffeld 2 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft Quick-Help

Circa 1990, a DOS TSR (remember those?) that when you pressed Alt+H (I think) popped up help for the API call at the cursor (usually OS/2 or Win16).

lewisjoe 2 days ago 0 replies      

Did the job well. Worked amazingly fast with slow internet. Very reliable.

Then Google Hangouts happened.

AlphaGeekZulu 2 days ago 0 replies      
All-purpose disc calculator.

Used it during my time as a typesetter to mass-calculate values based on a scaling factor. Soo much faster than an electronic calculator!Disc calculators have not completely vanished, they are still being made for specific purposes like aviation. But all-purpose disc calculators need to have a huge diameter and smooth mechanics to work nicely and I only seem to find them as antiquities on ebay.

gerbilly 2 days ago 1 reply      
IMB Model M keyboard [1]

[1] http://clickykeyboards.com/

tszming 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google Reader, Google Notebook, Google My Track, Delicious
rch 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Rpad is an interactive, web-based analysis program. Rpad pages are interactive workbook-type sheets based on R" ~2009


acrophiliac 2 days ago 0 replies      
WordPerfect. A wordprocessor that used the user interface metaphor of a typewriter, and therefore behaved consistent with what people expect when they perform text formatting operations. Unlike modern word processors that use some strange object metaphor that never formats things the way I expect.
mbfg 2 days ago 0 replies      
TMON - Terminal Monitor for early Macintoshes. It was like you were touching the hardware of the machine. I'm probably one of the few that wrote a set of plugins for TMON for doing all kinds of crazy stuff to make debugging awesome. Loved it so much, named my dog after it.
ScottBurson 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Lisp Machine.
Arwill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sygate Personal Firewall. It had a simple interface, nothing flashy. It was possible to simply define custom firewall rules. It was a Windows program, yet it felt like it had so much control as what a Linux firewall would. It just worked and was quick. Then it got bought up by Symantec and was killed off.
asdf4life 2 days ago 1 reply      
hackbinary 2 days ago 1 reply      
list, a DOS text file browser by Vernon D. Buerg. Anyone know where I can get a copy?
ChrisDutrow 2 days ago 1 reply      
Cool Edit 96
milesf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I miss my Amiga.
bsenftner 2 days ago 0 replies      
I miss MacDraw, and don't see it here. Visio or Gliffy.com is the closest I know of. Just an object level graphics tool, where items placed on the page are forever re-editable, groupable, and very easy to make flow charts, and application diagrams.
leptoniscool 2 days ago 1 reply      
Windows 7 UI
Atwood 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Netbus. Full transparency, I did not check nested to see if someone already said this.
dcuthbertson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I prefer a trackball to a mouse, and the one I liked best was the Microsoft Trackball Explorer. I liked that I could control the trackball with my fingers and use my thumb for the wheel and buttons. Pointing is much more precise that way.
mattbee 2 days ago 2 replies      
Zap, the text editor for RISC OS - http://zap.tartarus.org/

(not that it's not still available, just that I can't justify working on a RISC OS system for the last ... 16 years :) ).

Finnucane 3 days ago 3 replies      
logiczero 2 days ago 4 replies      
ILoveMonads 2 days ago 1 reply      
1. Metrowerks.

2. Turbo Pascal for Windows (which I guess became Delphi)

3. C-Terp

oferzelig 2 days ago 0 replies      
HP Deskjet 690c Printer - I think the last ink jet printer of the "old" age, before printers started to be manufactured using really cheap materials in order to make the real profit from ink.
mhw 2 days ago 1 reply      
Computer Concepts Impression Publisher. Basically a desktop publishing application comparable to FrameMaker, in handwritten ARM assembly language and running in 4Mb of RAM. Word still doesn't approach it's ease of use.
a3n 2 days ago 0 replies      
The mail environment in which you could practically run MH https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MH_Message_Handling_System

The tool is still around, but I long ago knuckled under to rich email, and I really like imap, at home and at my provider.

But I so loved the MH environment of separate commands that ran in the terminal, and that you could easily use all the existing unix utilities because your messages were just text files.

copperx 2 days ago 0 replies      
The 68hc11 microcontroller for teaching/learning assembly language. It was such a simple architecture and instruction set.

The MSP430 is OK but the instruction set isn't as simple.

lsiebert 3 days ago 1 reply      
Springnote was like evernote but automatically categorized things in a smarter way from the browser. I could add a page with an isbn and it would let me add it as a book with all the details looked up, not as a webpage.
AdamJacobMuller 2 days ago 0 replies      
RedEye IR controller.

Made by a company called ThinkFlood that unfortunately has since gone out of business, it was a rack mount box (I had/have the pro) that operates as a centralized, multi-room, IR+Serial+Relay controller. Really simple to get started with, but, amazingly powerful with a built-in Lua scripting engine and an API to remotely control things. Apps on iOS/Android and a fully-featured web interface.

It has been about 2 years and I've still not found anything that I like more than this box to automate my home theatre (I'm still using it).

jonbaer 2 days ago 0 replies      
nik61 2 days ago 0 replies      
PC Outline (PCO) was very good in its day. I was using it under DOS in 1985 and some people are still using it today in a Windows DOS box. It gave me the opportunity to move over from a long-form prose approach to 'writing things down' to something far more concise and well-structured. Nowadays the Outliner functionality space is very full of product but it seems that PCO itself led nowhere.
atrn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sabre C aka Centerline C and later Centreline ObjectCenter (C++). Best C debugging environment I've ever used. I ported the X11R3 server to some custom h/w using it.
johngossman 2 days ago 1 reply      
CygnusEd editor for Amiga. Thanks Bruce
sly010 2 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft Excel 200x on Windows. Everything else (Google Spsheet, Numbers, etc.) is slower with less features, more bugs, and no keyboard bindings.
Glench 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yahoo pipes
tech2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Directory Opus (prior to DOpus 5 when it all got a bit "special"). Two panes, amazing file recognition, I've missed it ever since.
shade23 2 days ago 1 reply      
This[1].It was one of the best chrome store extensions which would directly take you to the relevant text while using Google Search.But it was shut down because of the drain in advertising revenue.Thank you Google!


sprior 2 days ago 0 replies      
There used to be a disk cloning tool called Ghost which was written by an independent developer (I think named Ghostsoft) and amazingly useful in the late 90's. They were bought by Symantec who turned it into more of a backup tool - useful, but not the same thing.
catwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
Greplin (YC W10). It pivoted to Cue then shut down. I haven't found anything else to answer "I know I have read about that, but where?" as well.
marczellm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google Desktop. For the single feature of 'hit Ctrl Ctrl and google search'.

So I kept the installer and I still have it running on my Windows 8 and 10 boxes.

ungzd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Livejournal. Now completely unusable, servers being down for days, political propaganda ads covering half of screen, and almost no real people using it (only spammers and political scam).
juanscv92 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sunrise. It's the best calendar I've ever used and the only one I tolerate on Windows, and now Microsoft still hasn't given us decent replacement.
haroldweber23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Writely. Worked very well to write together. Then Google bought and integrated into its ecology and changed its name to Google Docs. If you do not like the Google monopoly, like me, and do not like their collaboration with the NSA and the US foreign policy, Google Docs is no option. Writely should have stayed independent. Shame on their founders and the VCs.
based2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Fujaba (without eclipse) - From UML to Java and Back Again

KPT Bryce (Kai Krause)

Apple Newton handwriting recognition

Apple ResEdit



Artoemius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pre-iOS 7 Notes and the old iOS UI look in general.
0x4a42 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nothing Real Shake, which was bought (and killed) by Apple. It was the best video compositing app on the market at that time.
Joeri 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ecco Pro outliner. Technically it still runs on w10, but the various glitches forced me to onenote.

I also really miss my nt4 system: office 95, delphi 3, coreldraw 5, photoshop 5, netscape 4. Despite having only a 233 mhz cpu and 128 megs of RAM that system seemed more responsive and easier to use than my current pc's, and it did everything i needed it to.

damian2000 2 days ago 1 reply      
tkjef 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glad to see so many others liked Adobe Fireworks as much as me.

It was my go to for web image editing. As well as prototyping with clickable pdfs.

prawn 1 day ago 0 replies      
CFStudio (big brother of HomeSite). Probably used it for 10+ years without an update until switching to OS X and having to find an alternative. Eventually settled on Sublime.
coreymaass 2 days ago 1 reply      
There was a music "tracker" called Jeskola Buzz tracker. I used it to write music for 8 years. It was the perfect mix between DAW and experimental tool. It technically still exists, but the source had been lost for ages before I even started using it. It was buggy, and PC-only.
fabiobruna 2 days ago 2 replies      
Amarok 1.4
yeukhon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Turntable.fm... all those college late nights.
brandonmenc 2 days ago 0 replies      
spacemanmatt 1 day ago 0 replies      

It was modem/terminal emulation software that Just Worked. It also had a built-in C-like scripting language. I loved it.

MindTwister 2 days ago 0 replies      
Logitech Cordless Optical TrackMan

I have no idea why they made it wireless, it ate batteries like crazy, but its still the best trackball I've ever owned.

Having the ball at your middle and ring finger gave better control than the thumb driven ones.

You can still get it on places like amazon, but at a ridiculous price, 10-20 times what it originally retailed for.

RGamma 2 days ago 0 replies      
The GoogleCL command line tools I used to upload large YT videos from my RPi overnight. With a change in Google's authentication mechanism they stopped working and were abandoned.

Now that I look for them, apparently there exists a fork. Might test that out.

techdragon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yahoo Pipes
YuriNiyazov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Borland C++
jhallenworld 2 days ago 0 replies      
Old DOS OrCAD- it's a full screen schematic capture program with best mouse usage. To scroll large schematics you just move past the screen edge. Also the macro system was excellent. I've not found a more productive capture program.
angry_octet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cricket Graph. The best graphing programming I've ever used.http://macintoshgarden.org/apps/cricket-graph-iii
wotwot42 2 days ago 0 replies      
borland turbo pascal/c IDE that does most everything one needs for programming in one SIMPLE AND SMALL application.

dbaseIV and the possibility to create a db application + its menus/gui in short time without having to import 100+ kitchen sinks.

gearoidoc 2 days ago 1 reply      
DragonDrop - miss it on a daily basis :(


cauthonLuck 1 day ago 0 replies      
pentadactyl add-on for firefox. Allows you to browse like you were using vim and allows you to script anything you do on the web.Vimperator isn't nearly as powerful and all the chrome options aren't even worth mentioning.
john-foley 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kedit. The 'all' command is unbeatable for looking at large log files and quickly moving around a file. Many editors have a similar feature but none do it better or nearly as fast as Kedit.
covercash 2 days ago 0 replies      
VisualHub - super simple video converter

Songza - they had some great curation and introduced me to a lot of new music

Starsiege: TRIBES - while not a tool, the amount of enjoyment I got from this game is rivaled only by Goldeneye and MarioKart with friends on n64

cholze 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really miss Bump, the app to share contacts/files/photos with a gesture to a person next to you.

I have never found a similar experience again (Apple has Airdrop, NFC on Android, etc.) but nothing works platform independent.

austinjp 2 days ago 1 reply      
bitwize 2 days ago 1 reply      
Autodesk Animator. That program was the tits back in the day; and I used it to re-create scenes from Ren & Stimpy as well as make my own animations.

Yes, I know there was an open-source release. I couldn't get it to work.

microbie 2 days ago 0 replies      
Norton Commander
smoyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
ARRL Radio Designer ... it was great for designing complex wideband and narrowband filters. And it would run Monte-Carlo simulations that let you estimate yields based on the component tolerances.
fishanz 2 days ago 1 reply      
laxatives 2 days ago 0 replies      
Waze before the acquisition.
fiatmoney 2 days ago 0 replies      
WinAmp - still around, but basically abandonware. Still haven't found anything on the Linux side that comes close to it for managing huge media libraries.
anaxag0ras 2 days ago 1 reply      
gggggggg 2 days ago 0 replies      
The touchpad and webos. Both dead on arrival, bit still a mile better that ios, android and win phone in terms of base ui, ux and os.
ghubbard 2 days ago 1 reply      
IWantSandy - An email-based automated personal assistant.
LeicaLatte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mechanical apple keyboard.

The new flat ones don't help with RSI at all.

joshmarinacci 2 days ago 1 reply      
iTunes. It's become a mess. In the old days it was so simple to manage an MP3 archive. It would even properly export ID3 tags.

These days what I want is an MP3 archive in the cloud.Hold my mp3s, not your pre-licensed copies with differentmetadata. Stream my mp3s to any app, with an API. I don't want your mp3 store. I don't want your crappy Spotify clone. I just want my mp3s in the cloud.

I'd pay for this. Anyone else?

kawera 2 days ago 0 replies      
Powermarks, a brilliantly simple bookmarks manager for Windows, kind of "Notational Velocity for bookmarks" - both share basically the same UI/UX.
t482 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Nokia N900

FoxPro/Lotus Approach/Delphi

X24 Thinkpad



Lotus Notes 3.x

_jomo 2 days ago 1 reply      
HTML5 music streaming websites such as Grooveshark or rdio
yegle 2 days ago 0 replies      

It allowed me to play War3 with my friends in a LAN with decent frame rate.

gaius 2 days ago 0 replies      
VAX/VMS. A joy both to program on and to administer.
bufordsharkley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I loved GOOG411 before it was sunsetted (and revealed to be mostly a data-gathering venture). For when it worked, it was just magic--
babo 2 days ago 0 replies      
SGI Workstations like Indigo2 or Indy. They were heavy and noisy beasts but for me it was a flawless experience to work with.
skaragianis 2 days ago 1 reply      
XTree Gold anyone???
inanutshellus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Firebug, before FireFox 30.

Developer Tools (and the skin-of-developer-tools that is Firebug 2) are markedly inferior. From breakpoint- and file-management to the functional limitations and missing features around dom management... I miss the Firebug that died in FireFox 29.


Here's what I'd like DevTools to do:

* Make a breakpoints view, not one embedded into a massive list of unsorted (or sorted-by-load-date I guess?!) files that changes over time. If that can't be done (or is against the design philosophy of DevTools), letting me choose the sort order would be nice (e.g. recently-viewed files first, or files with breakpoints, etc ..... and uh, remembering those files and/or settings through refreshes would be fantastic... I miss it from Firebug 2). It's nice because after/during refreshes the breakpoint view lets you pull up the file the second it's loaded, instead of scrolling around in the file list until you find it.

* Make it a LOT more obvious when DevTools is stopped at a breakpoint.

* DevTools doesn't handle initial focus the way Firebug does. As in, when you pull up Firebug via the selection icon--oh, DevTools needs that selection icon for the toolbar--it goes straight to the dom node you selected.

* Make DevTools stop crashing. It stops working. Constantly. The console will just stop printing output, and the DOM view just stops displaying HTML, requiring a browser restart. (When this happens, if you, say, pull up the console and type "1" and hit enter, usually the console echos "1" back to you. When you're in this state, it's not echoed back, though, oddly, some script messages still pop in.)

* Make "debugger" start working again. There are some places where--for who knows what reason--both Firebug and DevTools have ignored breakpoints I've put in, and I've been able to get around it in Firebug by explicitly putting in "debugger;" into my code. You definitely know you're in deep kimchi when you need "debugger;".

Also, for one of my websites, it can't load the source. It just shows "eval" as the filenames over and over with nothing in them. Firebug 2 loads it just fine.

If I use the browser too long, the Inspector and Console tabs go blank.

Oh, and DevTools often doesn't honor my breakpoints. They "slide" down to the next line DevTools thinks it can actually stop on. Sometimes, once I restart my browser they'll work again.

For another, as a time-saver I put breakpoints on lines that /will/ be valid when I refresh (saves me from having to refresh the file twice), so it'd be grand if it simply honored the line i clicked rather than "sliding" down to the next valid one.

mkoryak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Newzbin + sabnzbdPiracy has never been so easy
tezza 2 days ago 0 replies      
SmartDraw 6 - I have a VMWare Fusion image just to run it.

Later versions were disastrous

Microsoft X6 Keyboard - Fantastic keyboard with removable number pad. Not made any more

anonymoushn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to use a multi-protocol IM client with a nice history search feature. The history search was like Google Instant but actually instant.
Ankaios 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Logitech Trackman Marble FX trackball.

I still use it every day, but I won't be able to replace it when it breaks.

clumsysmurf 2 days ago 0 replies      
NCD - Norton Change Directory. Using OSX now.
tegeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
I loved the Macromedia Fireworks.
ChikkaChiChi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Palm Pre. IMO in was the best mobile tool form factor and the best OS out of the bunch.
gadders 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Google Picasa - not fully gone yet, but abandoned. It's not fancy, but for importing and storing your photos locally it did a great job.

VB 6 or earlier, before it got .net-ed.

I was never a user myself, but surprised someone hasn't mentioned Lotus Agenda...

5555624 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lotus Magellan
known 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Kernel is my new home
waddabadoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
MultiEdit, dos version
fidz 2 days ago 0 replies      
IcoFX. It got its function done right: creating icon.

It was free. Now it isn't.

pbreit 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google Reader
p0nce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Turbo Pascal
SFJulie 2 days ago 1 reply      
norton commander & pctools
MaysonL 2 days ago 0 replies      
Head-per-track discs, although SSDs are a reasonable approximation.
snarfy 2 days ago 1 reply      
typon 2 days ago 0 replies      
My favourite video transcoder which was also GPU accelerated: Badaboom
bkmn 2 days ago 0 replies      
The BeBox
ianwalter 2 days ago 0 replies      
AOLPress - The best WYSIWYG editor of its time.
Moto7451 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ta-da Lists as a stand alone product. Now it's part of Basecamp.
smcguirk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ready Set Go and MacDraft both were essential tools in the day.
dpweb 2 days ago 0 replies      
VB6, Microsoft Money.
smcguirk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ready Set Go loved this desk top program on Mac and MacDraft
freetonik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Picasa and Google Notes
samstave 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pathminder for DOS 1988

Finder is a joke compared to this tool

fillskills 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google Hello
shen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apple Aperture.
hudell 2 days ago 1 reply      
Windows Live Writer
skaragianis 2 days ago 0 replies      
XTree Gold anyone?
cheez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Norton commander
davidp670 2 days ago 0 replies      
roflchoppa 2 days ago 0 replies      
zorpner 2 days ago 1 reply      
Albert Yale's (RIP) Telnet Scripting Tool.
starfire 2 days ago 0 replies      
sharjeel 2 days ago 3 replies      
MS Paint: I've yet to find a photo tool that'll load instantly and let me crop or resize with the most minimal clicks.
sjclemmy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The younger, more attractive me.
RP_Joe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Opera browser before Chromium.
DiThi 2 days ago 0 replies      
KDE 3.5
febed 2 days ago 0 replies      
SnadBoy's Revelation
basicplus2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Xtree Gold
austinjp 2 days ago 0 replies      
vskarine 2 days ago 0 replies      
alok-g 2 days ago 0 replies      
Old Google Maps.
bitdiddle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Symbolics workstation
crshults 2 days ago 0 replies      
Iguana labs 8051 burner
intrasight 2 days ago 0 replies      
My teak wood dish drainer. It broke last week after 24 years of use.
mkhpalm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Federated XMPP
homero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Xp and thinkpad
CodeWriter23 2 days ago 0 replies      
HP 16c
mirimir 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lotus Agenda
rlonstein 2 days ago 0 replies      
savrajsingh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Artoemius 2 days ago 0 replies      
MS-DOS 6.x
a_imho 2 days ago 1 reply      
Browsers without bloat.
baidoct 2 days ago 0 replies      
Internet Explorer
neelkadia 2 days ago 0 replies      
TaiFood 3 days ago 1 reply      
Common sense.
Ask HN: How do you use Amazon Echo?
78 points by trapped  1 day ago   109 comments top 49
oogali 1 day ago 2 replies      
Initially, my wife and I just used it for weather, music, and to occasionally order an Uber.

But we just had a newborn, so I built a custom skill for us to serve as log of our son's activities. So our primary use is now that.


- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CqBmjxOFCQ

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHaTUm9sQpM

The first custom skill I wrote that calls out to an API to do CNAM (caller ID) lookups. So when I get calls from a weird number, I can quickly get the corresponding name (if there is one). This was mainly an exercise to see how Alexa/Echo would pronounce various names and abbreviations.

jordanarseno 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wrote a custom skill so I can say "Alexa, ask the bus stop, when is the next bus?" ... and she responds "x minutes" for the bus-stop outside my house. I use it everyday - such a time saver!
schappim 1 day ago 3 replies      
I live in Australia and imported an Echo.

AFAIK Amazon only sells the Echo in the US, and a lot of the functionality is locked to the US, this makes it unusable for certain tasks (like dealing with time, dates, calendars and alarms).

The Echo won't let you change it's timezone to an Australian one (hacks like setting a timezone to one of the US military bases around the world no longer work).

So with the Echo assuming I'm living somewhere in the US, what do I use it for?

- Telling the time. Having said all the above, I do use it for telling the time, but I need to say "Alexa, what's the time in Sydney Australia?"

- Finding out the weather "Alexa, What's the weather like in Sydney Australia?"

- Controlling the Lights. "Alexa turn on the lights?"

- Reporting Revenue from Shopify (I've built a custom app) "Alexa, ask Shopify what were the sales?"

I'd love to hear more from others outside the US as to how they use their Echo!

BrentOzar 1 day ago 3 replies      
Kitchen appliance, basically. Timer, play music, listen to news, add stuff to my shopping list.

The kitchen is the perfect spot for it because my phone and tablet are usually in the living room or on their chargers in my bedroom, and Siri doesn't work anywhere near as well in a big, noisy area like a kitchen. The microphone is so much more accurate and reliable than the Apple Watch on my wrist (which doesn't say much, because the Watch is so bad at this sort of thing.)

dcosson 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have the echo hooked up to a Harmony Hub[0], it's a universal remote that controls devices via IR or wifi that the echo can trigger via IFTTT. The Harmony Hub UX is annoyingly overdesigned IMO which makes it more complicated than it should be, but it still works pretty well. I can use it to turn up/down the volume of the tv, hit pause on the Apple TV when I get up to do something, turn on/off the fan if I get hot/cold, etc.

The TV use is pretty neat since it takes so many clicks to navigate those menus. I'm hoping the echo will integrate natively with Apple TV or Fire TV, it would be sweet to be able to say "Alexa, play the latest Game of Thrones" and have it just start.

[0] http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/harmony-hub

moritzplassnig 1 day ago 0 replies      
Main reason why I bought it was to use my phone less at home.

Main use cases: * Managing my shopping list (not necessarily for ordering on Amazon) while I'm in the kitchen and/or cooking * Calendar/Newsflash/Weather in the morning * Timer for cooking/workouts * Ordering an Uber (main reason why I use primarily Uber vs. Lyft because there's no Lyft skill right now) * Switching lights on/off (WeMo)

Would use it more if there would be (good/easy to use) skills: * Public transportation arrival/departure times * Controlling my Sonos (I know the workaround but a better integration would be awesome)

ohazi 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't. I think people who do are crazy.
curiousDog 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have the echo. For me, the annoying part is when you play music at a slightly loud volume, it can't hear you anymore. So i have to physically go up to the device (I didn't buy the remote). Other than that, I also use it to add household items to my shopping list.
WesleyJohnson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Same as was most everyone else has listed: kitchen timer, play music, occasionally ask her the time. A new skill was recently released that lets you control your alarm.com system and I have Vivint (ugh) which is backed by Alarm.com so it works. I've played with that a bit, but not as much I'd like. Oh and shopping list from time to time, but the mobile app is terrible so it's not much fun to use once you're actually in the store and trying to shop.
mrcabada 1 day ago 1 reply      
I connected the Echo to my home automation startup API to control my entire home. I can ask her stuff like:

- Control the lights, TV, AC, or smart device in the house.

- Is anyone in the swimming pool? (I'm processing CCTV cameras)

- Who's home? (Geo-fencing and OpenWRT Wi-Fi data)

- Where is the people in the house? (I'm doing indoor locationing with RSSI signals)

Is fun and I keep adding cool stuff on it.

jhwhite 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish there was a seamless assistant from place to place.

Home -> Car -> Work. But I wind up using Echo at home, Siri or OK Google in the car (depending on what I'm doing), and nothing at work.

I use my Echo to play music. I uploaded my music collection to Amazon Music for $25/year and also have some Prime playlists.

I use her to find what day a date is on, like what day is June 16th. (Did this once to double check the end date for something).

I use Echo to check the weather before I leave every morning. I ask the time ALL THE TIME. I use her when I'm cooking for unit conversions. And I've set timers with the Echo quite a few times. I've got one going now actually.

I also got some Philips Hue lights and use Alexa to turn my lights on and off. I want to get a Trackr since it has an Alexa integration so I can find my keys.

I also set up IFTTT and have a trigger for Alexa to call my phone so I can find it when I lose it.

Do I like the Echo? YES. I'm considering giving one as a Christmas present this year.

guiambros 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nobody said yet, so here's mine: "Guess the Number" [1].

My 4 year-old loves it. He learned to count to 100 and got a lot better in understanding higher/lower numbers by playing GTN with Alexa.

It quickly became our favorite pastime when outside; we now turns on who'll be Alexa :)

[1] http://echoskillstore.com/Games/Guess-The-Number/76

(ps: unfortunately it's buggy as hell. I'm considering developing a new one, just to fix it)

jraines 1 day ago 2 replies      
every morning I say, "Alexa, news" and that's pretty much it. Occasionally I ask for the weather (for which I still have to specify the city, because Alexa doesn't understand "Set my home [location] to [current city]". Once I used it to order a whisk, which was pretty cool, I'll admit.

If I have a question which I think a voice assistant could answer, I pick up my phone and use the Google app 100% of the time because it is so much better than Alexa it's not funny. It regularly outperforms my expectations, where Alexa regularly underperforms them.

bilalq 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been meaning to expand Alexa's abilities to be more tailored to my life, but in the meantime, these are the things I use:

 * Light control through Philips Hue: "Alexa, turn on lamps", "Alexa, dim hallway lights to 50%" * Assistance when cooking: "Alexa, start a 5 minute timer", "Alexa, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?", "Alexa how many grams are in an ounce?" * Entertainment control through Logitech Harmony Hub & IFTTT: "Alexa, trigger Netflix", "Alexa, trigger FireTV", "Alexa, trigger shutdown" * Getting ready: "Alexa, how's the weather?", "Alexa, will it rain tomorrow?" * Easy music controls: "Alexa, play some music", "Alexa, play songs by Imagine Dragons", "Alexa turn it [up|down]" * Enabling laziness: * When I wake up but don't want to open my eyes: "Alexa, what time is it?" * When I'm already in bed and want to close lights, TV, etc...: "Alexa trigger naptime"
Things I wish I could do (and probably could do if I spent the time to make it so):

 * Control colors/scenes on my Hue lights: "Alexa, set the scene to warm", "Alexa, set the scene to variety" * Use fine-grained controls on my TV and devices: "Alexa, play Daredevil on Netflix", "Alexa, turn down the TV volume by 5"

markbao 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't do smart home, which seems to be the main use for it instead, I use a simple remote control to turn on/off my lights, which is way easier for me than saying "Alexa turn on bedroom light" and waiting for it (I've tried this and unplugged the smart outlet the next day).

I only use it for two things:

Weather and sometimes news in the morning as I'm getting ready.

As a Spotify player that I can control from my sofa / bed / elsewhere through Spotify Connect, so basically a quasi-Sonos.

Other than that, I haven't really found any good uses for it.

7ewis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not made by me, but someone in my office created a Lambda function, so we can ask Alexa if a meeting room is free, and it links into the Google Calendar API to check.

It then uses a library to say how long until it is free in a human like way.

You can also ask it to find if any rooms are free in the building, and most importantly if the pool table is in use or not! As well as that, there is even a web cam above the table that counts the balls, and can tell you who is winning!

echelon 1 day ago 2 replies      
I use it to set alarms, control my lighting, and check the weather. I find it kind of useless for music since it doesn't have a lot of the bands I listen to (it only plays "samples"), and it usually cycles the worst tracks first for some reason. I wish it would integrate with Google Play or have a non-Cloud (ie. local network) API. I've written my own home automation gateway (turn on the tv, set mood lighting, control blinds), but I'm unwilling to open it up to Amazon's cloud.
epaulson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Weather, kitchen timer/alarm to start something at a specific time, control a few LIFX bulbs, the common household shopping list, a bluetooth speaker. Occasional sports scores.

The microphone is really good and I can talk to it from a room over, so it's the sort of thing I can ask it about the weather as I'm walking to the door to put the leash on the dog and not break my stride.

I wish the Amazon shopping list had a better API, because I'd like to use that list for things outside of the Echo app.

philip1209 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have an Echo Dot in my bedroom. Here's what I use it for:

1) Lights - all of my lights are on WeMo switches. They turn on automatically at sunrise (note - they're energy-efficient LEDs), and they turn off automatically at 10:30. Whenever I want them on or off outside of this pattern, I use Alexa.

2) Music - I used to use Chromecast Audio on my speakers, but it took so long to connect - get phone, open spotify, find playlist, connect to speakers over network (after realizing phone wasn't on wifi and had to be reconnected), then hitting play. With Echo, I just say "Play <foo> on Spotify" and it works. This functionality is good for mornings when I'm not specific about music, but does not work well when there is a specific album you want to listen to. (Side note - I also use the sleep timer to automatically turn off music if I'm listening to something before sleep).

3) Alarm - I prefer using Echo over my phone to wake up in the morning.

4) Calendar - I listen to my schedule for the day while getting dressed.

ethank 1 day ago 0 replies      
My son uses it to answer random trivia questions. See: https://twitter.com/ethank/status/730809136972079105

Of note: for a great hardware product, it has terrible software.

jstx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use it for kitchen related lookups, timers, and music. The music selection sucks, so I often end up just connecting my phone via bluetooth.

My only custom use was to write a WOL task that targets my Steam Machine so I can turn it on without leaving the couch. The machine is a frankenstein, so it doesn't have any fancy IR receiver or whatever people typically use to remotely turn on a game console.

jorde 1 day ago 0 replies      
I never got into the habit of using Siri as it requires more interaction and voice recognition success rate with my light accent is somewhere around 75%.

Echo on the other hand is awesome and picks up commands way better and knows more answers. My regular use cases are limited to timers, alarms, listening podcasts and dimming lights with Philips Hue.

I wrote my own skill to return arriving bus schedules. It was surprisingly easy with Lambda and I open sourced the code with a tutorial: https://github.com/jorilallo/muni-alexa-skill Disclaimer: code is somewhat sloppy as I wrote it in ~1h based on Amazon's tutorials :)

When it comes to skills, the Alexa app is horrible: very flaky and buggy, clearly Cortana (not native) and there's basically no discovery for skills. There's some great reddit threads where people list good skills.

thebeefytaco 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have an Echo as well as an Echo dot.

I use it mainly for managing smarthome devices, which is great. I control all the lights with it (Phillips Hue), as well as my AC/heating (Sensibo), remote controls (Harmony), outlets, and just about anything on IFTTT too.

It also manages my timers & alarms (which are also linked to my lighting system), music (great speakers on this thing), to-do list, and is useful for other random tasks you might google, e.g. kitchen measurement conversions.

It's really useful to me as is, but will get a lot better once custom skills are allowed to run in the background. It can also be kind of frustrating when Alexa doesn't hear you properly or do what you want, but yelling "ALEXA, SHUT THE FUCK UP!" and having it work, is quite satisfying.

n8henrie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use mine much more than I expected. The number one thing I love is Pandora integration -- ours is outside the kitchen, so virtually every day I can holler for it to put on an appropriate Pandora station (with both hands dirty / full of dishes) or for it to set a timer.

I also updated a Python script that emulates Belkin Wemo devices so I can control HomeAssistant and various http enabled home automation devices around the house. For anyone interested: https://github.com/n8henrie/Fauxmo

sashk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've got Echo sitting on my desk. Sometimes I ask her how much gas left in the car (via Automatic). Weather. Asking to remind me something only to remember next day that that thing is called "timer". When remember what I need to say, I'll ask her to set temperature on my ecobee to one I want.

As to Siri - I use it slightly more:

 - tell my wife I'm on my way. - ask my wife what to buy in the grocery store. - wake me up tomorrow at 5am - delete all alarms
and many many more.

To sum up: since I don't use Google much, Echo is mostly useless to me. I can't do much with it, and getting mostly "Sorry I could not understand your question."

partycoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
For timers and alarms: waking up, setting a time limit to an activity (e.g: reading), cooking, taking breaks or 15 min naps. ("Alexa, set a timer for 15 min", "Alexa, wake me up at 7 am").

I live near a stadium and traffic is heavily affected by it, so you can ask when is the next game to have an idea of how much traffic is going to be ("Alexa, when is the next <team name> game").

Also, weather. "Alexa, weather forecast".

You can connect it with your google calendar. "Alexa, when is my next event".

You can also order a cab from Uber, order a pizza from Domino, and other things.

In alexa.amazon.com there's a section called "Things to try". That can also answer this question.

ilamont 1 day ago 0 replies      
In order of use:

- Timer

- Play specific radio programs or stations

- Play music I've uploaded or stuff on Prime

- Check weather

- Check upcoming calendar appointments

- Ask for definitions/encyclopedia entries (the logic is good ... I once asked how old Reagan was at the beginning of his first term and got the correct range)

- Checking game times or if a local team is playing that day

- Ask about local traffic conditions

I don't use the shopping list feature. I don't like opening the Alexa app, and my wife and I split shopping duties according to destination store.

I've looked at the IFTTT scripts but did not see any that looked appealing or useful for us.

I would love to see phone/messaging capabilities built into the Echo.

erikcw 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use it to play white noise to soothe my newborn (hands free control is a great benefit when the baby is crying!).

Other than that, lots of use from the kitchen. As a timer, to listen to music, control my Hue lighting....

I also coded up a custom Skill to control my Anova via a little Bluetooth proxy I wrote[1].

[1] https://github.com/erikcw/pycirculate

payne92 1 day ago 0 replies      
Primary: fancy kitchen timer.
wkrause 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote a skill that lets me ask what tech events are coming up, or are on a given day. Took half a day, and most of that time was spent figuring out aws lambda for the first time and writing the scraper for the event list I was pulling from. Now before I leave for work I can ask if anything is happening tonight.
jackcarter 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use it for exactly 3 things:

* Weather (do I need a jacket or umbrella?)

* Music (I never used Prime Music before)

* Checking how long until my train arrives. This is by far the most useful application for me; I use it every morning. I bought the Echo so that I could develop a Chicago train app (CTA Tracker), but there seems to be one for every major city now.

meatsock 1 day ago 0 replies      
it's a good solution to listening to the radio for me, it'll tune in any fm or am station by call letters, so i can keep up with news and everything. its great to be able to tune in more than just the local stations. a young relative loves to hear new jokes on echo as well.
late2part 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use it to play music, set timers when cooking or when we need to leave, games for the kids, to spell words, ask what time it is in other time zones/cities, and to help enrich Amazon's passive listening analysis of my life so they can provide me with better shopping experience.
darrenkopp 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's excellent if you have kids friend's coming over. We used to have to keep track of who had to go home when, but now they just come in, say "set an alarm for <time>" and go off and play.
matchagaucho 1 day ago 0 replies      
A typical day:

"Alexa, what's on my calendar?" (Integrated with Google cal)

"Alexa, how is the commute?"

"Alexa, when do the Warriors play next?"

"Alexa, set an alarm for 7:30pm"

"Alexa, how much wood does a woodchuck chuck?"

mpdehaan2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm, I have yet to explore any of the skills, but need to.

I tell it to control my Hue lights, and ask it jokes, and occasionally ask it for the weather - though Dark Sky is a lot better for weather data.

So it's not used a ton really.

dlevine 1 day ago 0 replies      
I set a lot of kitchen timers and alarms. I also use it to play music.

It seems to work pretty well for my use cases. With alarms and timers, the accuracy is about 100%. With music, it's maybe 70%.

igotsideas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Music, timer, weather, lights, alarm, sport scores & schedules.
dominotw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Music in bathroom .


Sleep music on timer at bedtime.

Traffic conditions before I leave for work .

News while I brush my teeth.

pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mostly music, timers and weather. I don't use the questioning very much. I'd like to use it for talk radio/podcasts with something like Antenna Radio.
kogir 1 day ago 0 replies      
I listen to my flash briefing (news podcasts/summaries) every morning, and occasionally reorder bulk items like paper towels and toilet paper.
veeragoni 1 day ago 0 replies      
npr, baby rhymes, control nest, some skills occasionally, as a bluetooth speaker at parties, weather forecast, find nearby places
seereadhack 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sort of disappointed that no one uses Alexa to practice their poetry declamation.
gourneau 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use it with WeMos to toggle lights in my house. I lot more fun than using light switches :)
smackfu 1 day ago 0 replies      
One that I haven't seen mentioned: "Alexa, how do you spell X?"
malloryerik 23 hours ago 1 reply      
How does it do with non-native accents?
ajaimk 1 day ago 0 replies      
All the lights in my apartment and alarm clock.
consto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not at all
deftnerd 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Hiding your affiliate code to Amazon using their link shortener doesn't make it OK. That kind of behavior is typically not welcome on HN.
Help! SAAS revenue dropping 50% month on month. 3rd month, numbers look scary.
13 points by hnTerebi  16 hours ago   16 comments top 12
saluki 12 hours ago 0 replies      
First sign up for a subscription with a live card make sure signups are still working properly.

Setup a plan to renew on a live card tomorrow, make sure that's working.

Setup tracking on which users visit your cancellation page but don't cancel. Setup a page to view this in your dashboard. Email each one personally and ask them how their experience is going see if they have any questions or have suggestions to improve your app make it more valuable to them.

Adding a required text box on the cancellation page asking why they are leaving is a good way to get feedback.

Personally email every user you can, start with cancellations say "Just reaching out to see if there is a reason you cancelled and are there any improvements I can make to make the application better? Any feedback you can provide would be appreciated".

Next email new signups to see how their experience is going.

Check all your domains, browse through your funnel make sure signups are working nothing is broken on the site.

Test out your app run through with a new account as a user and make sure things are working properly.

Check error logs any issues users could be seeing.

Check your traffic, organic search rank and make sure you haven't fallen out of favor with Google. (Investigate your typical traffic sources/analytics).

Add code to start tracking logins, how users are using your SaaS to see if you can see which users are active or maybe active then drop off. Follow up with them see if you can help.

Good luck turning the ship around.

codegeek 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of the things to look for:

1. ACQUISITION: Has the number of new clients that you gain gone down significantly ? If yes, look into your current sales and marketing channels. For example, if you used to get a lot of inbound marketing (through search engine etc), check if your search engine rankings has taken a bit hit suddenly. Has google penalized you suddenly ? Have you lost some key backlinks or referrals that were providing you significant traffic and conversions before ? For outbound marketing, have you lost a key resource on your team ?

2. ATTRITION: If you are losing "current" clients at a significantly higher rate, talk to them directly when they cancel. Has something changed in your SAAS suddenly ? Did you drop a major feature ? Has your customer support changed a lot compared to 3 months ago ? Has a new competitor come up or an existing competitor is getting your current clients to join them instead ?

3. BUSINESS DOMAIN: Do you do business in a specific domain that is perhaps seasonal ? Is it possible that you may have a slower business during certain times of the year ? Just throwing this out as well.

Find answers to these questions above and I am sure you will get an idea of where things are going wrong.

nanis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
There is one question you must answer first:


Your application may not have changed, but the environment in which it operates may have. Is there a new alternative in that space? Don't limit your attention just to things that look exactly like yours: Consider everything that might conceivably be used instead of it.

Or, are there new legal requirements which your product fails to satisfy? Or, did the legal requirement that necessitated the use of your product disappear?

Also, given that this is recurring revenue, I am assuming you have a customer database, and you know who cancelled subscriptions. Do consider contacting a random sample of them and asking straight up if they would mind telling you why they stopped using it, and how they think you could improve the product to best serve their needs.

Also, order of magnitude would be helpful here: Did 30 customers cancel? 300? 3,000? ... 30,000,000?

karterk 15 hours ago 1 reply      
You can't reverse the trend if you don't know why exactly it's happening.

First talk to those who are cancelling to find out why. For e.g. add a mandatory field on the cancellation form that asks them to describe why they are quitting you service.

ruyi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Need a lot more info. You need to find data that answers the following questions:1. Any major changes/events within the past 6 months? (or, is your product still as good as it was 6 months ago?)2. Any new competitors? Any existing competitor had a major update/upgrade on their product?3. How is the industry your product serves doing?4. Any (strategy or metrics) changes on marketing?5. How are your customers doing?

Also, it helps a lot to schedule some calls with customers who left.

WhatIsThisIm12 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Query your database for all active users, print list of emails. Transfer list to text editor. Paste into BCC field of email. Ask them what they want.
citizens 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Are your original subscribers credit cards expiring?

Any failing webhooks preventing invoices from being charged?

MalcolmDiggs 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like you need data, and lots of it. Here's a good place to start: http://www.amazon.com/Lean-Analytics-Better-Startup-Faster/d...
_____s 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The first thing I'd do is e-mail people who are cancelling and ask them the reason. Upselling current customers doesn't really stop the churn, and a 50% drop rate means there's something seriously wrong. Asking people nicely will get you a lot of answers, especially when there are so many people cancelling.
ckluis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
1 - what do your analytics show?

2 - do you have something like intercom.io installed to message customers based on usage?

3 - call customers who are leaving and ask why? ask if you can fix it (if valid) and ask if you can offer them something to stay

4 - I hope by re-start you do not mean - you stopped marketing. It should never stop and always evolve.

ig1 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Call your (ex-)customers and ask them.
tmaly 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you tried to collect some exit data from customers that are leaving your service?

Maybe they are going to something else? Maybe they are not seeing the benefit?

Doing a simple single multiple choice question would give you some more perspective.

Ask HN: Languages for safety-critical embedded work?
12 points by randomacct44  1 day ago   21 comments top 12
danielvf 1 day ago 1 reply      
1. If you are developing for the ESP8266, your current choices are C, Lua, and Arduino. So you are pretty much using C by default.

2. The automotive industry has a standard for safety critical C code. It's called MISRA C. A few of the rules are stupid, but others will save you worlds of issues. You have to buy the PDF from the committee's website for about 15 bucks, but it's worth reading and mostly following.

3. If you are actually writing medical or flight control software, you cannot depend on a single proccesor or computer. Perfect software is not enough. Airliners have three separate computers, each containing three different processor architecture processors, each processor running code compiled on a different compiler, and all checking each others work. SpaceX runs at least five separate embedded linux computers for any critical systems. These communicate in such a way that they can tolerate even malicious actions by any two computers. Google "byzantine fault tolarance"

burfog 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't overlook the fact that lots of bug-finding tools support plain old C best. Yes yes, it needs them more, but... at least the tools exist!

Get all the tools. There are free tools like "sparse", a tool Linus wrote for his kernel. There are expensive tools like Coverity. Get them all. Use them all.

Build your code with all the warnings enabled. Use multiple compilers, even if they don't compile for your target.

Tomte 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Depends on the field. Aeronautics and reactor control seem to use "safer languages" like Ada quite a bit.

In factory automation I have only ever seen C, and AFAIK automotive is the same (they seem to be more open to C++, though).

Most of safety-critical development (as I know it -- again, no satelites or nuclear stuff) is documentation, testing and FMEAs. Quite a bit of "patterns" or procedures, as well, like memory testing in the background, redundant variables, cross checks between controllers, plausibility checks etc.

But very, very little focus on saner programming languages.

viraptor 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ada is known for those kind of applications. Very restrictive types / contracts make it a good choice.

Of course a lot of safety critical stuff is still written in C or C++. They may not be perfect, but they're not terrible choices.

kognate 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Power Of 10 is a good place to start.


The summary would be:

Use vanilla C with some rules about things like memory, testing, and recursion. Testing and static analysis are your friends.

superboum 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to go further, you might be interested by proving your software and formal method, something like the B-Method ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-Method

Unfortunately, I only know their name and never use it.

jotux 11 hours ago 0 replies      
probinso 23 hours ago 0 replies      
+10 points for Ada. Great language. Barnes book is a great resources
technion 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a tangent, but Wikipedia says this about that chip:

 The ESP8266 is a low-cost Wi-Fi chip with full TCP/IP stack and microcontroller capability produced by Shanghai-based Chinese manufacturer, Espressif.
Am I alone in the concern that in a safety critical environment, the phrase "low cost" should be more of a concern than the choice of language?

samfisher83 1 day ago 0 replies      
I work on industrial control and we typically just use C.
spraak 1 day ago 1 reply      
Really out of my realm but maybe Rust?
Ask HN: What graphical user interface do you wish had a command line interface?
7 points by yanokwa  17 hours ago   13 comments top 6
brudgers 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Web browsers. For example if I'm on Hacker News and want to visit the "Ask" page, my options are a mouse or navigating to the URL bar and hand editing the text. Why can't I just type "ask" and go there?
runT1ME 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Chat. I did a proof of concept a while back (on my github) that wasn't quite usable day to day, but it'd be nice to check and see if I had any new messages from the command line without having to drop back to my very busy, distracting, "UI" desktop space.
wodenokoto 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Not graphical, but i wish i could skip talking and just text with siri.
id122015 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice question. Did you re-ask the question on purpose ?I think there are many that I'd like. I use OSX now, and I'm wondering what I will replace the Dock/Sidebar/bookmarks when the life of my Macbook will end and I will only use the command line.
KingMob 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure this qualifies, but I wish Alfred App had deeper command-line integration.
sharemywin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
don't forget api interface.
Ask HN: What command line interface do you wish had a graphical user interface?
6 points by yanokwa  17 hours ago   13 comments top 6
e1ven 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I really wish my terminal/bash had mouse integration..

Every so often I'll be deeply embedded in a command, and want to go back and edit an earlier part of it. With KB shortcuts I can go to the beginning/end, or forward/back one 'word' at a time, but sometimes it'd be nice to just say 'put the cursor HERE.'

LeoSolaris 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Pipes. It may sound a little odd, but I wish I could automatically pass results from one GUI program to an unrelated one in that sort of hassle-free way.
stevekemp 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm toying with the idea of writing a GUI on top of my console-based mail-client. This would be interesting to experiment with, because I'd probably decouple the UI from the back-end, allowing others to experiment with unusual layouts and options.

The downside is that GUI stuff is hard to do right, and I'm not really sure I could force myself to complete the job. I just don't like any of the existing (linux) mail-clients.

crispytx 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I run cPanel (Graphical User Interface Linux Server Administration) on my Virtual Private Server and just love it. It makes things so much easier. I can just focus on programming, and not system administration. So to answer your question: I wish every hosting option had something like cPanel!
Artlav 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Git, without a question.There is the TortoiseGit on Windows which makes Git USABLE.On *nix there is nothing even remotely as good, unfortunately.
twotavol 16 hours ago 0 replies      

I want to be able to do some basic stuff quickly without having to search for what I need to copy and paste into the CLI or read a bunch of docs. The gui should make things like converting between formats, cropping, stitching, etc straightforward.

Ask HN: Is there a reasonable, actually integrated Web IDE out there?
48 points by dakami  1 day ago   36 comments top 21
mevile 1 day ago 3 replies      
If you set up a node.js project with Webstorm through the Webstorm UI and deploy with a plugin or built in feature you've pretty much get the most fully integrated IDE there is for node projects. It has testing built in, debugging inside the IDE, dynamic updates your browser, supports a ton of JavaScript libraries and npm as well as React and ES6/ES7 syntax. There's nothing else really like it.

IntelliJ based browsers haven't been slow in a long time, but they're even faster now, just be sure you exclude node_modules and library directories by right clicking them and things will move pretty quickly.

sytse 1 day ago 0 replies      
You probably mean for web projects. If you mean a browser based IDE instead your options are Koding, Nitrous.io, Cloud9, CodeAnywhere, Codio, and CodeEnvy (that is into Eclipse Che). We're integrating Koding with GitLab to give a very integrated workflow https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/issues/12759
d--b 1 day ago 1 reply      
Visual Studio and Webstorm are the most complete I'd say. Surely you can use Eclipse or IntelliJ (with kotlyn).


Wait, when you say "web ide", do you mean "to make web projects" or do you mean "web-based ide"?

parisk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hi dakami,

I think that SourceLair (https://www.sourcelair.com) could fit your needs.

It let's you work on Node.js web applications in your browser and write both client side (including React JSX) and server side JavaScript.

You also get an HTTPS public URL (subdomain) that works out of the box with Node.js, while it integrates with Git and GitHub in order to collaborate and lets you deploy your projects to Heroku with a single click.

You can try it out for free at https://www.sourcelair.com.

Disclaimer: I am one of the people who co-founded and built SourceLair.

daurnimator 1 day ago 1 reply      
TylerJewell 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would encourage you to check out Eclipse Che and Eclipse Orion. Eclipse Che will let you set up your own hosted workspace. Eclipse Orion is embedded within Che and provides language extensions for JavaScript and Web development. The technology are platform-centric, so there is a lot of embedded use by vendors packaging new products. They are the platform for SAP Hana, Samsung ARTIK IDE, OpenShift IDE, VSTS. There are various other projects happening within the Cisco, Salesforce, Mongo, Go, C++, SAS communities. Che and Orion have hosted versions run by Codenvy & Eclipse, respectively. Both services are free on the hosted front. I am the project leader for Che & CEO of Codenvy.
ivan_burazin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi Guys, I am the cofounder of Codeanywhere.com , so I can't say we are the best, but I would definitely appreciate it if you tried us out. We use Codeanywhere to actually build Codeanywhere; frontend, backend and even mobile. Also I always love to hear feedback.
zmmmmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you can overlook the RAM consumption and occasional slowness, Eclipse is actually a pretty amazing tool as an integrated platform. I routinely edit client side, server side, HTML, CSS and multiple back end languages (python, PHP, Groovy) all in a single integrated setup including integrated debugging etc. I think for single language stuff there's nearly always something better, but at pulling it together I don't know anything as good as Eclipse (probably Visual Studio might be but I have not used recent versions in that capacity).
cellis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sublime Text 3 with a build system ( I simply press cmd+b to run a standalone javascript file there on the spot in ST3 ), and node-debug to debug standalone scripts (from the command line with iTerm). Works amazingly.

Everything else, command line. I used to be the biggest IDE fan ( had my Eclipse kitted out with 4GB allocated, all the hotkeys, etc ), but I don't do Java or AS3 programming anymore and even though sometimes i still find myself missing certain types of autocompletion, I've started to become jaded on the concept of IDEs as the command line is just so much more versatile and memory efficient. Sublime Text and the command line are really all you need these days, unless you're doing C#/C++ ( in which case I'd suggest Visual Studio ) or iphone native (Xcode obvi).

oxdigital 1 day ago 0 replies      
Although their focus has shifted to education, Codio is my favourite Web IDE


dochtman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe have a look at this Mozilla stuff?


ccvannorman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I once met someone named James Robey who was working on dom algebra, an os that works entirely out of html dom tags (no javascript). I saw him use a working demo of it online, but it may have evaporated.. feel free to google! ;-]
spdegabrielle 1 day ago 0 replies      
ganomi 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a free alternative to let's say WebStorm i have been using NetBeans for some time. It integrates HTML, JS, Angular and CSS in a usable way and has many plugins (browser js debugging, nodejs). It is worth a try.
dafrankenstein2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Though its not an IDE, you can try using Visual Studio Code. This is free, open source and works in both Windows and Linux and have plugins available.Moreover, it itself is built using Javascript.
TimJRobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have you used Cloud9? It sounds like exactly what you're looking for. If you have and didn't like it what was it missing? (I work for Cloud9)
adelarsq 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use Vim for everything, since Web development until server side, actually for Node, Java, Rust and Python.
devsquid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Web Storm owns :)
mozumder 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use XCode to edit JS/HTML/CSS for front-end and Python for back-end, all with Git integration.
probinso 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Who productively writes code on their smartphone? How?
94 points by ruffrey  2 days ago   61 comments top 29
greenspot 2 days ago 6 replies      
I do.

iPhone 6 + Prompt (a SSH client) + tmux + Neovim/Vim + a remote dev server

for Android phones use JuiceSHH instead Prompt

Usually I use a notebook sshing to my dev server but when I am on the go and get good ideas I immediately try them on mobile before getting home. With tmux I am still in the same session having easy access to all windows and panes. Vim's key bindings are the best way to use an editor on a phone anyway. All very satisfying and not much slower. Sometimes when I need to go to bed and still want to play around with the code the same: I tinker a bit more till I fall asleep.

Or today: I read about a new JS NLP library on my phone I want to quickly test: I just start Prompt and type "npm i nlp_compromise", fire up Vim and play around.

I am quite fast with the iPhone keyboard and I think the reason is that I use the keyboard in general without any assistance, so no spellchecking, prediction, etc. Just the plain keyboard and after a while using it like this you get super good and fast (it took some weeks though). The keyboard of the iPhone is also one of its features I like most: it's extremely responsive and never lagging.

Prompt extends the iPhone keyboard well: you get Ctrl, Alt, Tab and more keys nearby and aesthetically very similar which I like. Prompt is quite slick and iPhone's iTerm.

So, it's not about doing entire projects from A to Z on your phone but it can get ultra productive when your are away from your computer and get those 'shower thoughts' you haven't gotten for three hours sitting in front of the screen. Then a phone as a devkit comes quite handy.

feklar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Through a browser like MIT's iCampus XTutor or custom made backend server interp/compiler with browser access http://icampustutor.csail.mit.edu/6.001-public/

I had the crazy idea once that since Facebook's Internet.org was available in developing countries I could create a simple curriculum by finding freely distributable teaching material and make it into a phone based course where you could learn both math and how to script your own device, instantly test your answers like edx/XTutor, analyze other apps or modify other apps behavior ect by practicing with an interpreter running on your phone using lambda native. I never got around to trying it but if the free tier for Internet.org lets you run javascript on any facebook page you could create 'Facebook Technical Insitutute' by calling out to a server like XTutor to return results (which is likely blocked for free tier access) or just using a basic interpreter (lambdanative.org) on the device.

You would also probably need to write your own in app keyboard to make typing (),#,',[],/ ect easier or buy an external keyboard. Other than my insane idea of FB school I've never tried to be productive on a phone beyond ssh into a remote server to fix something.

sunir 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use textastic, a Bluetooth keyboard, Dash for documentation and I plan on using the workingcopy app for git. I tried a lot of code editors. textastic is the best.

My goal was to code offline from my iphone. I was motivated from a trip to Jamaica to chill out. I don't code for work anymore as I have ended up in marketing. But I started coding since I was 4 and I miss it a lot. So I figured it would be fun.

I am coding a React app. There is no good (ie fast, keyboard friendly, functional UX on mobile screen) firebug for mobile despite the built in firebug extension in textastic. So I built my own error trap, JavaScript console and element picker. I can open source them sooner than later if you want. I was planning to do this over the summer.

tluyben2 2 days ago 1 reply      
I write a lot of code on the OpenPandora which is about the size of a smartphone and runs a full version Linux (Debian in my case). Especially when travelling a lot I like it much better than carrying a laptop with all the cables around. I have been working on an environment to work productively on my smartphones but that proves to be a lot harder. Textual input is just not very nice so it needs something different which I think I figured out for some cases; general programming though I am not sure about. When I really have to, it is faster to just talk into whatsapp/wechat and send those snippets to my colleagues who turn that into code and debug it.

Hopefully this year I will have a Pyra (which actually can double as smartphone) and hopefully I will have progressed with my 'visual IDE'.

Edit: what surprises me is that not more people are working on this; we have more touch devices than anything and more (aspiring) programmers than ever; there is a market and a greater good there.

sourcd 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does it count if display is a VR gear and input device is a detachable keyboard ?



jasonjei 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find that doing code reviews are helpful on the phone. I often catch things that I don't on the desktop because the screen is so focused. However, I find writing code on the smartphone screen so clumsy that I only do it in emergencies no matter the tool (and my favorite tool is usually some SSH app and then using vim to make changes). My SSH server has docker installed so I can test the changes via Safari via Cisco IPSec. However, multitasking on iOS is still painful (always live in the fear of my SSH connection being closed by iOS).
kanzure 2 days ago 0 replies      
jdi 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A good advice is to always use tmux or screen in your ssh session, just in case your ssh connection drops out.

I also use Hacker's Keyboard on Android, but on tablets I sometimes don't find it comfortable when I would like to type with my thumbs. Does anyone know a good alternative/solution for tablets?

Some time ago, I ran into a series of posts where someone used an iPad, a bluetooth keyboard and a Linode server to do work. It's not exactly smartphone-"have everything in your pocket" purism, but it's close enough.

These are the 2 blogposts related to that:http://yieldthought.com/post/12239282034/swapped-my-macbook-...http://yieldthought.com/post/31857050698/ipad-linode-1-year-...

It's also nice to see 2 other blogposts of his on the same subject:http://yieldthought.com/post/42450188171/working-in-the-clou...http://yieldthought.com/post/60180703528/microsoft-surface-v...

benologist 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been thinking a lot about how I can reach device independence, for me the biggest missing component right now is the web inspectors in desktop browsers.

But there's other issues too that will need to be fixed. When I plug my tablet into my screen Firefox's menu stuff takes about 1/3 of my monitor with no way to adjust the resolution and no way to go fullscreen in the browser.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11685845 might become pretty awesome, there's a myriad of traditional-ish browser-based IDEs available too.

meeper16 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the big differences between software engineers and everyone else is that we type 100wpm and until we are able to do this on a phone, they remain largely useless to me unless I'm a bind and need SSH access and the command line.

On another interesting note, it seems the internet continues to be designed around people that just don't know how to type.

a-saleh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure if counts, but I have used 7 inch nexus 7 + bt keyboard to write my diploma thesis in latex.

The writing experience was decent, and I liked how few distractions I got when writing.

Was even able to do corectures without the bt-keyboard, combination of Vim-touch and thumb-keyboard (that has easier access to braces) made it reasonably possible.

highd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was toying with a little android tablet (Samsung) and a bluetooth keyboard for a while. I basically just ssh'd somewhere and used vim mostly. I had some keybinding issues, but the principle was sound. With the case it's all about the size of a book, so pretty reasonable to just carry around.
cdevs 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just quick bug fixes or the one time I wrote a parsing script for work while waiting on jury duty. Wrote 150 lines of parsing csv and MySQL inserts and it took about the 4 hours I was sitting around...never again if I can avoid it. Should have brought a laptop.
abhi3 2 days ago 1 reply      
A tiny chromebook would cost half of an iPhone and be much more productive for coding on the go.
jspaetzel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't write code on my smartphone but I do some planning work on it. Basically any editor will do that can sync to a pc, I use a combination of Journey & Google Keep currently.

My workflow is essentially to think through the problems im going to encounter, make lists of everything, define naming for things that have to be thought through. (All these things are easy to do on a phone) So when I go to actually write the code I can just reference my document and essentially only write the logic on a computer.

mamcx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use http://www.textasticapp.com/, http://omz-software.com/pythonista/ on iPad and haven't find a trouble on the write part. Is ok with touch and decent with a keyboard.

The trouble is the lack of feedback. Pythonista can run the script, but if for example I need to edit a django project I'm out of luck.

With ssh + VIM/Emac this could work, but then I find it harder (and I don't like, don't wanna learn that!) even for basic stuff (specially, without a keyboard). Some people are sucesfully with it.

My dream is that textastic/pythonista or similar integrate SSH and the ability to run commands against a server, and have the source sync on save.

projectramo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you mean with a foldable keyboard? Typing is the hard part. I would be all thumbs on a smartphone
pgbovine 2 days ago 3 replies      
i've never seen this done successfully. what's your motivation for doing this? so that you can code on the go? why not get a tiny laptop?
metatribal 2 days ago 0 replies      
I develop an SaaS and a couple of apps as well as some webdev contracting work. I frequently work from the road on either an iPad via Coda or on Android using Termux and neovim. I always use an external BT keyboard. Works very well.
codecamper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not writing code, but learning a lot with mobile. I put relevant HN articles into pocket & then take frequent walks. Google TTS reads the articles for me. Pretty good, but that robo voice does get annoying after a while.

I can listen also to podcasts / video courses.

shaftway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've done AIDE on a tablet. It'd be cramped on a phone, but possible. It pairs very nicely with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse (or wired even, with the right cable). It was pretty awesome on the old Asus Transformer line, and if you're rooted it's pretty fully functional.
warcher 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can do some remote server management on the phone, but that's about it. And depending on the circumstances, can be a very, very useful thing to be able to do if you find yourself out living, you know, your real life and the server catches fire.
rcarmo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been known to do commits from http://workingcopyapp.com from both my iPad and my iPhone. Works better than you'd think, really.
Spooky23 2 days ago 0 replies      
iPhone with some cheapo Bluetooth keyboard and an Anker iPad stand.

It works pretty good for looking at on-call issues.

For travel I had to get some work done at a conference and decided to skip my usual stuff try out a larger display. I used an HDMI cable and a hotel TV with my little keyboard and stand. It worked pretty ok!

I used VDI to do business-y stuff, and prompt to do UNIX stuff. It worked well, but I wouldn't want to do it every day. The lack of a good mouse style interface is limiting.

tmaly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use my phone but only for wifi tether on train. I program on a macbook pro. Iterm2 is my best tool
dalacv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have you tried Coda on the iPhone?
lowlevel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cathode, ssh, vi.
Giorgi 2 days ago 0 replies      
More like - why?
Qantourisc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bluetooth Laser keyboard ?
What is your opinion on syntax-coloring of code?
4 points by vram22  8 hours ago   11 comments top 7
davismwfl 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Syntax highlighting is good overall, the best is having some sane defaults and the IDE/environment allowing the user to make tweaks to it. I personally don't like dark schemes and prefer the white backgrounds now.

I never thought of the color blind side of it till I read Finnucane's point, but the ability to tweak the colors mostly would solve that I guess.

I also really like that most editors are starting to highlight local, global, class members/parameters/variables all subtly different. It makes identifying them even easier. However, having that type of highlighting doesn't remove the need for good naming (and coding) standards to make it easy to distinguish proper scope etc.

bediger4000 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I turn it off and on. Sometimes, syntax coloring can be of benefit, like mismatched single- and double-quotes un-terminated strings. Other times, the colors make things less clear, and I turn it off. Vim's C syntax coloring is an example of the latter.

As a side note, if you're looking at PHP malware, which is almost always in a single long, long line, syntax coloring can be quite time consuming.

partisan 7 hours ago 1 reply      
As opposed to not coloring it? I am for syntax highlighting. Those particular colors you see on the site are a little bit harsh, but maybe because of the bold/font weight.

I use the default dark color scheme on Visual Studio and while the colors are a little muted, they feel easier on the eyes.

Finnucane 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I have red-green color blindness, so it's a problem. Dark red on black is bad, green with yellow or brown is bad, shades of blue and purple can be hard to distinguish. Yellow on black good, bright red on light background good.
bbody 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I am not quite sure which part of it you are asking about. However in general I find syntax highlighting useful, helps quickly get the gist of code. I am indifferent on colors, as long as they are consistent.
vram22 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I realized that I did not make the question clear enough. I meant : "Do you prefer or not prefer syntax-coloring (vs. monochromatic B/W or W/B)?"
vram22 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks to all those who comment.
Ask HN: Is it smart to fundraise on the heels of major press coverage?
10 points by gnicholas  1 day ago   5 comments top 2
twunde 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Fundraising is almost always a timesink so you'll need to decide whether it's worth the time and effort versus spending that time on customer acquisition and corporate partnerships. Good press and corporate partnerships will certainly help in raising a new round if you choose to do so. There should be greater investor interest, and if the good press continues while you're raising the round it may help in closing the round. VCs and other investors like to be validated and good press will make it easier to sell partners on the investment.

As an aside, a potential corporate partner could be Benchmark Education. They focus on literacy K-5th grade.

samfisher83 1 day ago 1 reply      
what is your startup
Ask HN: What good books have you read in 2016?
33 points by ddxv  1 day ago   28 comments top 23
pramodbiligiri 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Deep Work" by Cal Newport. He emphasizes the need for deep intellectual work to prosper in the knowledge economy and suggests ways to practice getting to that level of work.

It is part rumination and part self help. I highly recommend it.

javipas 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm finally starting to read "Don Quixote". A good way to celebrate the 400 anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes (and Shakespeare). Disclaimer: I'm Spanish, so it's about time :)

Available in English for free through Project Gutenberg


And for Spanish readers like me, here it is in several electronic formats:


ohazi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Avogadro Corp: The Singularity is Closer than it Appears by William Hertling, as well as the other three books in the series.


executesorder66 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm still reading it but: Small Wars, Far Away Places. [0]

It's about how after WW2 lots of the empires started crumbling and how that affected the smaller countries of the world. It is very well researched, and incredibly interesting.

[0] http://www.amazon.com/Small-Wars-Far-Away-Places/dp/02307523...

brotchie 1 day ago 0 replies      
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel - Mohsin Hamid. This is my book of choice for the year: I read it cover-to-cover in a single day. Refreshingly written in second-person perspective, totally engaging.

Finally read the Zones of Thought series by Vernor Vinge. Love his slight twist on physics that allows for for both post-singularity tech and low-tech to exist in the same universe.

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (second book in the Remembrance of Earth's Past translated from Mandarin) had a bit of a slow start, but really built up to a good finale.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future - Ashlee Vance. Good read and made me really appreciate what Elon has done through financially to get Tesla and SpaceX up.

adam419 1 day ago 0 replies      
Currently reading: "The Information - A History, A Theory, a Flood"

I like it so far.

DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
Still mostly reading childrens books.

This is not my hat: https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Not-Hat-Jon-Klassen/dp/1406353...

Black dog: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Dog-Levi-Pinfold/dp/184877052...

FArTHER: https://www.amazon.co.uk/FArTHER-Grahame-Baker-Smith/dp/1848... Sadly this book uses a stupid font. Other than that it's lovely.)

Pirate Diary: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pirate-Diary-Journal-Jake-Carpenter...

I get these from the CILIP Kate Greenaway award. Once you know the name of the writer, or illustrator, or even publisher, you can usually find more good books. http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway.php

CILIP is a UK librarian organisation. The US equivalent award is probably something like the Caldecott Medal: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmeda...

panic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design by Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores. Highly recommended if you're interested in how people interact with computers (and how computers interact with people, and how both interact with the world in general). http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Computers-Cognition-Foun...
therealasdf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Currently reading "Utopia for Realists"https://www.amazon.com/Utopia-Realists-Universal-Borders-Wor...

An interesting big picture look at the world. It questions what we understand and do about work and life.

exolymph 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed Brian Krebs' Spam Nation and I think it would appeal to the HN crowd. http://www.amazon.com/Spam-Nation-Organized-Cybercrimefrom-E...
TheAlchemist 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

Great book about the way humans think.

massung 1 day ago 0 replies      
Gettysburg The Final Fury by Bruce Catton.


I'm not much of a reader. I like short, concise, non-fiction, and this was perfect! Highly recommended.

If anyone can recommend similar books for me, please do.

superflit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know it is not "productivity" but I had a real good time reading was "Dungeon Hacks: How NetHack, Angband, and Other Roguelikes Changed the Course of Video Games" [1]

It talks about the creation of rogue games (rogue, nethack, adom) and its authors and co-authors.

Well written made me play nethack again. So your productivity will decrease :)

[1] - http://amzn.to/1spSott

Futurebot 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Listen, Liberal!" by Thomas Frank. A must-read if you care about politics in America
shoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Picketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century".

If you have an interest in inequality of wealth and income, particularly how it has evolved over the last hundred years or so in some developed countries, it is certainly worth a read.

mindcrime 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reading The Meaning of Science by Tim Lewens right now. It's an introductory "Philosophy of Science" book, and I'm enjoying it so far. Up to where I'm at now, the author has covered Karl Popper and his falsification oriented framework, and Thomas Kuhn and the "scientific revolution / paradigm shift" model.

A couple of other ones from this year that stand out to me:

Disrupted by Dan "Fake Steve Jobs" Lyons

It's Not The Big That Eat The Small, It's The Fast That Eat The Slow by Jason Jennings

In terms of fiction, this years haul includes:

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

The Last Mile by David Baldacci

ddxv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I will add a couple books I've read so far in 2016, both of which are not from 2016:

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. This book was an unexpectedly amazing overview of the history, current status and possible future of human beings.

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I put this off because I'm not very interested in medicine. It was a mistake, this is one of the most well written non fiction books I've ever read.

brudgers 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reread Blood Meridian. The newness of good books twenty years later is one of the benefits of getting older.
monroepe 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I started the Wheel of Time series and am currently through book 3 and I am loving it.
neilsharma 1 day ago 1 reply      
"This changes everything" by Naomi Klein. It's a very well-written, liberal book on climate policy failures written by an investigative journalist.

I think it was written in 2014, so it doesn't cover the latest trends in fracking or solar. I didn't know anything about the climate industry coming from a silicon valley background, so this was an ingestible yet detailed primer.

tmaly 1 day ago 0 replies      
Linchpin by Seth Godin. cool take on why we need to all be artists instead of cogs in a machine.
drikerf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Letters from a StoicGetting RealCambodia NoirVagabonding

All great reads!

willbank 1 day ago 0 replies      
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom, one of the leading minds analysing and developing AI as it relates to human civilisation.
Is there any evidence that, in the long run, startups are net job generators?
3 points by azuajef  19 hours ago   10 comments top 4
alain94040 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely. Remember that startups include the hugely successful ones. If Google and Facebook had been started in Spain instead of the US, do you think Spain would have more jobs now?
tmaly 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember around the year 2000, there was a newspaper clipping about a guy that had received an award. It might have been a nobel prize, but I cannot remember now.

He essentially proved that mergers and acquisitions destroyed jobs. Yes this seems intuitive, but he backed it up with proof.

Large companies are ingrained in their industry, and when you see them in the news, it is usually related to mergers and acquisitions.

So if larger companies do not create jobs, who creates them then?

I would say it is successful startups. Are they net job generators, I do not have any data to prove or disprove that. But I can say that new innovation provides more opportunities for job creation.

id122015 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the books are balanced. First the startups generate jobs. Next "government intervention" imposes a minimum wage, and startups replace half of work-force with.. technology. Like it just happened recently in the USA with some food chain as I've heard.
informatimago 18 hours ago 4 replies      
For programmers, obviously. For steel workers, or taxi drivers, definitely not.
Ask HN: Do I have to go through recruiters nowadays, how do you find new jobs?
184 points by minionslave  5 days ago   143 comments top 50
Jemaclus 5 days ago 7 replies      
I despise recruiters with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, so I try to avoid them as much as possible. That leaves me (and you) with a few viable options:

1) Use a matching service like interviewing.io or TripleByte to get connected directly with companies. (Effectiveness: Questionable but promising)

2) Use a job listing site like Indeed.com to find positions that you're interested in applying to. (Effectiveness: It works, but is like throwing mud on a wall to see what sticks -- hard and not very lucrative.)

3) Use Indeed / AngelList / whatever to find companies that are hiring, then use LinkedIn or some other method to find the hiring manager directly. Email them directly with your resume and cover letter (since it's effectively a cold-call, make that cover letter damned impressive). (Effectiveness: works great, in my experience)

4) Use your network. Email old bosses and coworkers and let them know you're on the market. If you've left a good impression, they'll usually be more than happy to do whatever they can to get you into good companies. (Effectiveness: fantastic, assuming you have a network in the first place.)

There are tons of other ways, but those are the strategies I've used. In the mean time, study up for your technical interviews. Good luck!

rubidium 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's how I did it.

I emailed any technical contact I could find at all the interesting companies in my city. I was following up all these emails with phone calls when I could get a number.

I found a blog article interviewing one of the researchers (call him Bob) at "Company A".

I sent this email that eventually led to my job:

Hello Bob,I've been researching [Company A] and came across this article from [BLOG SITE] that featured some of your work. I'm quite impressed with your assessment of the need for better data analysis tools in the [AREA OF RESEARCH], and the work you get to do in that area interests me. I found from your linkedin profile that part of your current research with the Company A Research Group is on [technical area I talk about below].

My recent PhD work at [University] involved a number of overlaps with your current work, both in technology ([short example]) and modeling physical processes ([short example]).

I am now looking for industry jobs in [City]. The Company A Research Group may be a good fit, but first I would like to learn more about what you do. Can you meet for coffee to discuss?

Best regards, -[my name]

He responded and asked for a resume. After further conversations, it turned out they didn't have room in their group (headcount freeze in their department) but we found another group at the company that needed someone with my skills. I was then "the guy Bob knows" during the interviews (which helped) and landed the job.

codegeek 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good Recruiters are out there but they are like needle in a haystack. It is tough to know good ones but when they do come, make sure they are in your rolodex

Having said that, I have found a couple of ways of finding jobs that I want:

Approach 1. Decide a company that you want to work for. Go to their careers page if they have one and then find a relevant position. Then go to Linkedin and search for "HR <company name>" in linkedin and try to find an HR contact in that company. Send them a short email that you are interested in that specific position. You never know and they may just connect you to the right hiring manager (has happened to me). BUT the trick is that you need to write effective and precise email. Don't send generic "I need a job" type of email.

Approach 2: Go to sites like indeed.com and shortlist a list of relevant jobs you like. They may not provide a direct HR/hiring manager contact but it could be a recruiter. That's ok for starters. Now take some of the keywords from that job posting and run a google search on the exact words. You may be surprised to get a direct listing from a company's career page. Now go back to Approach 1. (Done this as well)

Approach 3: The "good" recruiter can be very useful if you have found one. Then just go through them as it will be worth your time (done this as well)

Rinse and repeat.

peteretep 5 days ago 6 replies      
Hi, I'm a recruiter.

Look for job aggregators like Adzuna, Indeed, etc, which scrape all jobs on the web. When you see results, it should be easy to work out which jobs are posted by recruiters, and which have been posted directly by the company.

In my (massively biased) experience, you are better off applying for a position when you've been put forward by a recruiter:

* The recruiter knows what the client's salary range is, and wants you to get paid as much as possible (as the role is commission based) - they'll be able to make sure you're getting a good deal out of the client

* The recruiter is a professional sales person, and will chase the hiring manager for feedback, technical interviews, etc etc, in a way that as a direct candidate you'll come across as too pushy if you do yourself

* The recruiter will genuinely have a good view of other similar jobs you may not have found that you'd be a good match for.

* The recruiter will get much much more candid feedback about you than you'll ever get directly from the client

... and a whole bunch of other factors.

wtvanhest 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am not a software engineer, but I am in finance with a solid resume. I say this because I am still a desirable candidate, but I probably receive about 1/10th the recruiter mail that you receive.

I am interviewing today with a great company, and meeting with another great company on Friday and I have a bunch of leads in the pipeline for next week. Here is my advice:

1) Figure out what companies and specific roles you want to work for.

2) Make sure you have your resume tailored to those roles and make sure you know how to answer the technical questions related to those openings.

3) Reach out to 1st, and 2nd connections to companies that interest you and ask to grab a coffee to learn more about the role.

4) If you are personable and seem like a good fit, they will ask what you are interested in and they will help make introductions. When possible, ask to meet someone else in the company closer to the role you are interested in. For example, if your friend works in sales, but you are in engineering, ask for an intro to someone in engineering. This is important because that other person will be better at vetting you.

5) You will enter the formal interview process with people already liking you and wanting you to succeed. You just walk in, have a good time and answer the technical questions.

6) Negotiate an offer.

6) When you get there, be a good person, help people out, build relationships and do great work. 5 years down the road, you will have more connections and more opportunities.

Don't make the mistake of letting leads come to you. That is how you end up in so/so companies and situations. Go after what you want.

doeshelooklikea 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a recruiter I can tell you all that I work my ass of to not be like 98% of everyone else in the business. Thankfully, I just have to not be a knob and I generally stand out.

Most agency recruiters are a pain in the ass because they are not actually recruitment professionals. Sounds odd, I know, but having worked for a few firms I can tell you that many will hire SALES people rather than folks who actually want to recruit, let alone have a clue as to what the f*ck it is.

If you want to try and figure if a recruiter is going to be a tool or not, look them up or ask them what their job is. Do the do business development and account management as well as recruit? If so, ask them which half the like better. Should be a neat chat.

Bigger recruitment companies will always claim to be HR Consulting/Service firms in all their media and PR propaganda, when internally, they hammer home that they are sales companies first. I worked for one of the largest recruitment firms in the world and that is EXACTLY how they operate.

Small/mid-sized agencies tend to offer a better candidate experience because their staff aren't focused on KPIs and arbitrary activities to keep their bosses off their backs. Instead, those firms just care about closing business and doing it well so the big firms don't kick the shit out of them.

In general, most recruiters are shit. I've been headhunted more than once and man oh man has it been painful. But I've engaged in the process because the opportunity at hand was worth the nonsense. Not pursuing an opportunity because a recruiter is an idiot is cutting your nose to spite your face.

ChuckMcM 5 days ago 1 reply      
One of the actual uses for LinkedIn.

Generally you probably want to work for people you like and respect. If you know some people like that, then finding out how to reach them on LinkedIn is a good way to let them know you are interested in working with them.

Sometimes they won't be interested in working with you, its a fact of life and you have to let that go. Sometimes they are open to the idea but they don't have any budget. And sometimes they will get you interviewed and move you over right away.

If you are in the "any job but this one" mode, you are at a disadvantage. If you don't know what you want to be doing then people will have a harder time knowing if you would work out well in their position. Its painful when there is a job available but you know it isn't what you really want to be doing, do you suck it up and work there because its a job? do you turn them down? Depending on your financial status it can be a very tough call.

When folks ask me "should I look for a new job?" I have two pieces of advice regardless, one is that you should always be considering new opportunities, and two you should think about what you jobs you like doing while you are not under pressure (say being unemployed) because it helps you be more honest with yourself on what you like and don't like.

Recruiters can sometimes get your name in front of a manager at a company you want to work for when you don't know anyone there. But generally their value is more to hiring managers than the people they represent.

vinceguidry 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like to go through a recruiter because I hate managing a job search myself. I build up relationships with four or five recruiters, and they simply send me opportunities, and then I just talk to them and go on interviews. I do not have to follow up or devote any conscious attention at all to the process.

Corporate hiring is a massive shit show and I consider recruiters to be an incredibly useful sanity saving device. People that want to deal with corporations directly, I just have to ask, why in the world would you want to do that? So annoying.

Imagine you worked in any other profession than coding. Having someone else manage your job search is an unimaginable luxury. When I talk to my non-coding friends, and they ask how many hours I've devoted to a job search, they're amazed and jealous when I tell them about my recruiter-enabled workflow.

klenwell 5 days ago 1 reply      
How common is it for recruiters to "inject" themselves into the process? I ask this for a couple reasons.

I interviewed for a position a while back where the person interviewing me at the end asked, "What firm sent you again? Was it Firm A?" when I had been sent by someone with Firm B. I'll also get contacted by recruiters from different firms for the same position.

There have also been a couple cases recently where I've been submitted for a position by a recruiter, interviewed with a company, and got a pass or didn't hear back at all. And then I'll see the position show up a couple weeks later on a site like StackOverflow Careers. I got the impression that a recruiter jumped on an opening they came across and just kind of threw me in there and the company hiring decided they weren't getting much in return for the potential money they'd be laying out. I was pretty well qualified for one of these positions, so I wondered if they wouldn't have been more enthusiastic if there hadn't been a recruiter between us.

My conclusion after about a year of working with a number of recruiters in my area (Southern California) is that the industry is dominated by a few big firms (I refer to CyberCoders as the McDonald's of recruiters, but that may be being too generous) and has a lot of turnover. I suspect they have most their success placing more junior developers in less critical let's-get-this-seat-filled kind of positions. I've come across a few that I would call real professionals. Unfortunately, they always seems to be focused in areas or locations that don't line up with my own.

I still look at a number of recruiters emails each week. But now I only respond if I am convinced that they have an actual working relationship with the company they claim to be representing and aren't just trying to win some race against the rest of the rodentalia out there.

I also put together a page on my wiki for Recruiters to which immediately I refer them any time I am contacted:


This has been helpful in quickly filtering out the most callow practitioners.

zpoley 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've also received a ton of recruiter spam, but leave my profile on LinkedIn as other's have mentioned to see what happens. The worst part right now, is how untargetd most inbound recruiter cold-calls are - for skills that I don't have or don't want to acquire, in locations I wouldn't even consider, or at companies that I have no interest in.

We're working on this problem at Paysa [1], trying to enable employees to find and be alerted about relevant jobs that match your skillset as they become available, in your desired locations, and meeting the pay requirements that you specify.

We're also interested in helping to solve the matching and communication problem, by putting candidates directly in contact with companies that they're interested to work with - in positions that actually match their skillsets, pay their market value, and further their careers.

Check out our salary and experience based jobs search at https://www.paysa.com/jobs, and sign up to receive job alerts as we find new jobs that match your skills/experience and meet your target criteria - around location, and salary expectations.

The comments in this thread are really interesting. I'd love to hear any more feedback/thoughts about what we at Paysa could do to provide the best job matching and communication experience from the candidate side. Feel free to email at zach at paysa.com any time.

[1] https://www.paysa.com

OpenDrapery 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really surprised that more companies aren't open about their intangibles that set them apart. Why can't I search for jobs based on location, dress code, office layout? Because I want to wear jeans, have a short commute, and sit in a private office. Or at least not a godforsaken open office layout. When it comes to internal line of business apps, let's face it, most of the work is the same. It's the individuals that you'll be working with + aforementioned intangibles that differentiate.
m0th87 5 days ago 0 replies      
I know most job boards are pretty noisy, but there are a few that are really good. Depending on the city/industry you're interested in, there's likely a niche board - including HN itself.

I'm at The Muse (YC W12) - I think we have a pretty good selection of jobs as well, especially in NYC/SF: https://www.themuse.com/jobs?job_category%5B%5D=Engineering&...

Feel free to email me too if you're looking for something specific, I'm happy to help. yusuf @ our site's domain.

pc86 5 days ago 4 replies      
Disclaimer: I've used recruiters to find every job I've had other than the first one.

> I'd rather talk to a company directly.

Why? What benefit do you get from that? You're not like to negotiate a higher salary than you would without the recruiter, and you're not in a better position to get hired either (over the total spend of an employee's lifespan the recruiter commission is a drop in the bucket). Some companies I've worked for place candidates they receive through external recruiters higher than self-selected candidates because they've already presumably gone through some sort of screening process.

A good recruiter will understand what you're looking for and won't put crap in front of you. That doesn't mean you'll get the perfect hand-picked job, and they'll probably challenge you on some of your assumptions, but if you're a .NET developer they're not going to try to get you to take a PHP job.

But here's how I generally go about looking for a new job:

1. Email bosses I've had who I would want to work for again and let them know I'm on the market. Just a quick "Hi _______, I wanted to let you know I'm ready for a change from my current environment. If you hear of anything I'd love to take you out to lunch and discuss the opportunity." LPT: They will buy the lunch 95 out of 100 times :)

2. Email recruiters I've used in the past and send them an updated Word resume, salary/commute requirements, and what I want v. my current job (bigger, smaller, different sector, whatever).

3. If I'm very gung ho I will go on Ladders, Indeed, etc but the above typically hasn't taken very long to find something.

Colin_M 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm constantly being contacted through LinkedIn by recruiters who clearly haven't actually read my profile - they'll say they've read it and then say that they think I'd be perfect for the Senior Developer position they're hiring for, when my profile clearly has me as a student looking for entry -level positions. When I respond, or when they call me, I tell them my actual qualifications and they say that they'll definitely contact me in the future. To date I have not heard from a single one of them again.
white-flame 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you get an email about an interesting position from a headhunter that doesn't seem to be very knowledgable, you can often google parts of the job description and find the direct posting from the client. You don't have any agreement with the recruiter, so you're free to take whatever path to application that you choose.

It's the same thing with searching listings on Dice or wherever, especially if you see multiple organizations posting for the same job.

I simply don't see any value add to 99% of the recruiters out there. So many of them just keyword match and are unqualified to actually vet the candidates, and give the clients terrible lists. A company's own HR department can post the listings onto Dice or do LinkedIn searches just like the headhunters do, for FAR lower cost than going through an organization.

I have zero problem with bypassing the headhunters via a bit more web searching.

PaulHoule 5 days ago 3 replies      
A counterpoint to that is that if a company is hiring a recruiter they are serious about hiring somebody.

There are some places where they bring in a huge number of candidates, interview them, and then never hire anyone. For instance, at a local Uni, they had a position open for 2.5 yrs.

If there is a recruiter involved there is a sense of urgency at least.

untog 5 days ago 0 replies      
I also absolutely despise recruiters, after having deleted my LinkedIn profile and answering every e-mail with "please remove me from your database" I think I'm finally free of the spam.

When I am looking for a new job, I try to think about where I actually want to work. One of the core issues I have with recruiters is that I am a developer to be placed in a development role, when in reality I have a set of wants and needs in a job that I'm sometimes not even aware of myself until I read a description and see the part that sticks out like a sore thumb to me. So, my advice is don't go looking for any old job, find the company/companies you'd like to work for and check what vacancies they have. If none, pay attention to what events etc. people from that company go to and make a point of meeting them.

googletazer 5 days ago 2 replies      
Googling "the name of the company you're interested in + careers" usually does that. Or you can go on linkedin and search for internal recruiters from that company, but you'll be wasting time.
katpas 5 days ago 0 replies      
Find a company that you want to work for and then go on the site and read through the company blog. Hopefully those posts will be authored by someone and not just the 'company'. Then find that person on social media (twitter/google/linkedin) and use that to reach out to them via email or twitter (not everyone reads their linkedin because of the spam) referencing something interesting they've been working on. That's an effective way to get an 'in' if you don't have a network there already.

Also find out if they're hosting any events or speaking at any and attend. The process is a lot easier once you've actually met someone who works there.

Though I'm a developer now I got my last job in Sales/VC when I went to see the founder speak at an event, he intro'd me to the hiring manager who rejected me initially as I didn't have a start-up network (the job was finding start-ups deal-flow for funding). I got that job as I said I could create a network in 3 days and proved it.


I agree with you about the spam. I've been gradually disabling my Linkedin as a result.

jbob2000 5 days ago 0 replies      
The key with recruiters is to find one that is like you. Read their messages and if they say something that "hits on something" for you, then go with that one. Trust your gut!

The benefit of a recruiter is that you won't have to do the whole "meet for coffee" thing, where the company does an initial check to make sure you don't have any crazy red flags. With a recruiter, you "meet for coffee" once, he vets you (or tells you you have a big red flag), and then does your leg work.

A recruiter is also your negotiator. The money they make is dependant on your salary, so it's in their best interest to get you the highest salary possible. I suck at negotiating, so I really appreciate this aspect of recruiters.

And if you picked the right recruiter and they are open with you, they can really help cut through the bullshit that are most job postings. They'll say things like "This posting says X, but I talked to the CTO and he really just needs someone to take a functional spec and build an interface out of it".

Without a recruiter, you'll need your wits about you, lest you end up being deceived by a flowery job posting. And you'll need to have confidence and a firm understanding of your abilities so you can negotiate a good salary. You'll have to pour through job sites and you'll submit the same application form over and over and over... It's tiring.

squeekwull 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'll throw in my recent experience:

Rewind 2 years, looking for a more-legit DB dev job, coming out of a hybrid client-facing analytical role, with somewhat light dev work.

Resume is up in all the usual spots (Indeed, Dice, etc) get a call from a Tech recruiter asking if I was interested in a position paying nearly 2x what I was making. Jumped on it, and less than 24 hours later I was hired. I've come to see now that that was a HUGE red flag. The interviews were non-technical, among many other things.

Fast forward to this last month, workplace is horriffic, no process, no management, all the worst things. But I do have 2 more years exp in DB dev, so it's time to start looking again.

Put resume back up on the usual sites, this time I also put it up on a smaller, more focused site here in CO: builtincolorado.com which is aimed at start-up and post-start-up IT jobs.

Had a few interviews through companies I found there. Tons of calls/emails from recruiters, nothing catches my eye. Found a company thru BiC, and they go through a recruiter for a lot of their tech screening.

This recruiter is completely different than the previous one. Actual assessment testing, recruiters who've working in the field for years. Process took about 5-6 weeks.

So all in all, recruiters aren't always bad, but many are. And like some have pointed out, many have conflicts of interest in trying to just fill positions. The company I was hired by only uses them for tech screening, and doesn't to CTH, which I think helps lessen the conflict of interest, and only uses this recruiting company because they bring quality candidates. The moment they cease providing that, I don't doubt they'd use another screener or do it all themselves.

Communitivity 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is strange advice, but the best advice I can give: don't be looking for a job - instead look to help interesting people, to get to know them, and to establish lasting relationships.

These people will get to know you, will find out about jobs you might like way before the recruiters do, or before they are posted on job sites, sometimes even before they're announced. They'll know, and want, to let you know about the jobs too, and you'll do the same for them.

This strategy has worked very well for me, and I've built a network of amazing friendly people in the process.

The trick to this strategy is to always be connecting (nod to Glengarry Glen Ross there), before you ever are in need of a job. If you are in need of one and haven't done that, then I'd advise like others have here and try to leverage what network you have.

MrFoof 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a question for the recruiters in this thread: When someone is rejected for being "too senior for the role", what are the actual reasons?

I ask this as someone who's been dealt that card 10 times in the past few months. I've got a good idea as to what the actual reasons might be, but looking for confirmation. Thanks.

brettlangdon 5 days ago 1 reply      
Disclaimer: I am a software engineer at Underdog.io.

There are a lot of platforms nowadays that help to remove the "middleman" of external recruiters. Underdog.io, Hired, Vettery, InterviewJet, and others. These platforms typically are working to connect companies and candidates together directly by removing the "find and apply to each company individually" type approach. Instead they accept candidate applications, put them through their own internal approval process, and then, if selected, present them to companies to then make the decision if they want to talk to the candidates directly. In my opinion is approach is a much nicer and less stressful process for candidates.

blairanderson 5 days ago 0 replies      
It is a numbers game.

You will be falsely rejected from some companies.

You will be falsely accepted from some companies.

I got my current job by applying on their jobs page.

h1srf 5 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of people here are harping on ineffective recruiters but it really depends on the industry. As a programmer in finance, pretty much no one posts job openings. Sell-side may but buy-side definitely doesn't. Using your network or going through a recruiter are the only real avenues to finding a job in this industry. Outside of new college grads, I've never met anyone that was hired from applying for a job directly through a company's site.
quaffapint 5 days ago 0 replies      
I saw a job listed by a third-party recruiter that sounded interesting. Problem is they won't give me more information until I meet with them, which would take an hour+ train ride, missing work, and expense. This isn't even the hiring company just some random job board like recruiting company. I tried googling around for the company itself, but don't have enough to go on.Anyone run into this?
probinso 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have found that most sites that promise matching to many possible positions have a two way signal-noise problems. You are likely to get too many recruiters; and companies are likely to get too many applicants.

1) Find a conference that videos presentations in a domain that you are interested in. Apply to companies that represent speakers for topics that you are interested in. (also gives you material to talk about in interview)

2) As you find interesting companies, select the ones that you have never heard of, and find them on sites like linkedin. Use tool to find similar companies (this is useless for large and well known companies).

3) Of the 'match maker' sites I've used, Craigslist is surprisingly good (this may be location specific). Some of my most interesting interviews were from random craigslist jobs.

I would be interested in knowing companies' strategies for handling the flood of applicatants to "HN: Who's Hiring"

sebringj 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are good recruiters but they tend to be the ones that are working directly for the said company and are paid via a placement fee one-time or simply salaried. The worst ones tend to be the middle-man recruiting firm that claims to be a tech firm and just takes hourly off the top and has no technical understanding of anything. That's like having two bosses where the recruiting firm is not involved enough to even know what's going on from your perspective and is just there to annoy you with bro speak. There is no value there other than the initial placement. I hope there is a general revolt to that among tech workers as we don't need this and it hurts the companies hiring through them as the workers will not want to stay in that situation long term. My friends from India seem to have to put up with the worst ones imaginable.

I use LinkedIn as a self-advertising tool explicitly listing I am a consultant corp-to-corp which definitely reduces the amount of bullshit.

GordyMD 5 days ago 0 replies      
CTO of Workshape.io here - we are a hiring platform for software engineers that's primary focus is matching developers to opportunities based on your passions and how you want to spend your time in your next role. When you match with a position you interface directly with someone at the company without any mediating through recruiters. Added bonus: there is no need for uploading your resume/CV!

With 2 of the founders being developers we can relate to the level of recruiter spam in this space and so we created Workshape.io to cut through the noise and make meaningful intorductions between developer and company based on shared requirements.

We have about 200 postings on the site right now spread across the globe, but mainly concentrated in Europe. That said though, we do cater for people seeking remote work + relocation so if you fall under that remit then you may find us even more useful.

Would love for you to check us out and would welcome any feedback.

edwcar13 4 days ago 0 replies      
Recruiters are probably the worst thing on the planet. Because besides interviewing with them, giving them all your info, you still have to do all the communication with the company. I recommend this, recruiters are kind of an evil you have to live with. So allow yourself one recruiting company that has a good bearing in the area. I.e. you meet them in an office that they own and not at a star bucks because it's a one man show.

Then uses sites like indeed.com, venturefizz.com, or apply directly to the company. Use hired.com if you got a nice fancy resume for them to show off, but avoid it if you are strictly entry level.

The troublesome part is that only recruiting companies can get you in to startups that are still in stealth mode or too small to hire someone just for recruiting and hr.

SerLava 3 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of companies post their job listings on their own site, then stick the same descriptions on recruiters' sites.

The job posting sites often seem to mix it up and purposely anonymize these job descriptions, but they're pretty lazy. You can google little unique sounding bits of the description and find the actual company.

emilburzo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug: I made a search frontend for the monthly "Who is hiring?" threads that are here on HN


It might help you in finding some favorable leads.

kinai 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just write to the companies you find interesting. I once got a job offer just because I mailed a in depth review/my thoughts to some CTO (I was not even looking for a job). Rare but happens + you stick out
drelihan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Call up your friends and tell them you are looking for a new gig. Your peers will likely make better matches and more meaningful intros to companies you'd actually want to work for than recruiters.
mocko 5 days ago 1 reply      
In the UK there's something seriously wrong with the IT jobs market. On the job sites (TotalJobs is my go-to example) literally 99% of DevOps positions on any given day are being advertised through recruitment agencies. I was forced to deal with them for years and the majority are either incompetent or shady. I wrote an essay on this (https://mocko.org.uk/b/2015/10/14/dont-feed-the-beast-the-gr...) a few months ago detailing some of the appalling behaviour I've seen from recruitment agencies on the London tech scene and in the ensuing HN debate people raised equally harrowing examples of their own.

What's wrong with this? Well, from my perspective it's now basically impossible to land a job without either knowing the people hiring (i.e. networking, something we nerds are bad at) or lining the pockets of some talentless parasite who's found a way to insert himself into a high-value transaction.

The "only work with the ones you like" argument people often respond with completely misses the point. I believe it's based upon a misapprehension of the dynamic - nerds see "agent" in their job title and assume something like a literary agent, someone with incentives aligned with their own who'll pimp them around a variety of potential employers. The truth, however, is that agents aggressively pursue companies for leads (I've been on the hiring side too and had dozens of calls a day) and some actively threaten companies ("use us or we'll poach all your staff") into using their services. The social engineering they use to navigate the corporate phone system to reach decision makers can be quite ingenious. Companies with the backbone to say no are sadly rare, so from the the applicant's side if you see a job advertised and if you want it, you have no choice but to to kiss the agent's ass for an introduction to the employer.

This rent-seeking behaviour generally nets the agent a sum equivalent to the first few months of the applicant's salary or 10-20% of their contract rate for as long as they stay there. The only real service the agent offers in return for this is spamming nerds who they'd like to apply (as happened to the OP) and weeding out obviously bad applicants to save the employer's time.

Since writing that essay I've flat-out refused to have anything to do with recruitment agencies. Internal recruiters are fine (hey, if you're hiring a lot that's totally a specialised job) but I take the use of a recruitment agency as a sign that an employer either 1) gave in to an agency's aggressive sales tactics or 2) has a reputation so poor that putting their name on job ad actively discourages the best candidates.

In short - most recruitment agencies (at least on the London scene) are dishonest, greedy, target-driven parasites. They aren't your friend and the more you feed these people the worse the market gets.

Just say no.

sharemywin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interviews can be a little easier for contracting because there's a 6-12 month interview called the contract. If you work with the right recruiting company I think it can work out pretty good.
AaronLasseigne 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you have the time, go to local meetups. They can help you build a solid network and often have information about employers looking to hire. My last two jobs came from networking in this way.
vs2370 5 days ago 0 replies      
i agree. that was part of the inspiration behind https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11441183 . I am making progress on the product but primarily i think linkedin is biased towards serving recruiters better than users.

At the very least there should be a way to filter out good recruiters from the bad ones. I hate to say but more like a review system where you can rate your interaction with a recruiter.

collyw 5 days ago 0 replies      
Stack Overflow Careers.LinkedIn.Glassdoor sends me emails - seems similar content to what comes up on LinkedIn.The Python Meetup group here in Barcelona often has jobs posted to the mailing list. Jobserve used to be the one to use in the UK, but I haven't lived there for a while. Infojobs in Spain.

Many years ago a recruiter contacted me about a job for a well known Investment Bank, we had the usual bullshit conversation and never got back to me. I applied directly and got a job.

icanhasfay 5 days ago 0 replies      
A little late to the party but I just recently created a job board that aims for organizing the tech job market. https://www.zeroinjobs.com

I know it's a bit misaligned with the ask in the thread but thought it could be a good resources for job seekers. Personally got sick of creating pseudo regex's on job search sites.

nvarsj 4 days ago 0 replies      
> What's the procedure for getting a new job without going through external recruiters?

Same as always, networking :). Go to meet ups, go to conferences, talk at conferences. Do this for a while and your network will grow fast, and you'll be skipping technical interviews even. It's not quite practical for a lot of people but that's the breaks.

mmanfrin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Even though it's technically a 'recruiter', Hired.com is pretty painless. The main point I appreciated is that it was not terribly pushy. They asked that you respond to offers, but that's about it.

I havent gotten a job through them, I'm still 100% through friends/excoworkers, but the process was nice and I did get offers (and a friend did land a job through them).

xando 5 days ago 0 replies      
A while ago I wrote something called https://whoishiring.io is an aggregator for IT jobs, it has decent IT amount of job posts (~15000) including HN's "Who is Hiring?" which you start with btw.

But as it was mentioned couple of times here: Indeed, Glassdoor, Adzuna are good places to visit as well.

DrNuke 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mileage may vary but recruiters fill a networking gap and are useful to outsiders for getting a foot in the door.
Tiks 5 days ago 0 replies      
You can also try company bots on CodeFights : https://codefights.com/bots if you win and apply your information gets submitted to respective companies directly.
Chris2048 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some companies require a recruiter. I'm a contractor, and my contract is with the recruiter, not their client. This is through my own company, with its own insurance etc.
rygine 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you want a job at a startup, contact a recruiter/talent partner at a VC firm. You will have more interviews than you know what to do with.
tedmiston 4 days ago 0 replies      
AngelList is great and it's (part of) how I got my current position.
jwmoz 5 days ago 1 reply      
I actually just posted this http://weworkcontract.com/ for London contract jobs aggregated from job boards (and recruiters).
Ask HN: What's your workflow for simple side projects?
24 points by fratlas  2 days ago   14 comments top 11
WalterSear 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a bunch of boilerplate repos.



I'm going to publish a React/Aframe version and one with a server tomorrow.

EDIT: probably not tomorrow, but in the next few days for sure :)

probinso 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's changed over the years, but presently I use GitHub for Source control and pull down to a Raspberry Pi for hosting. Then I connect using Dynamic DNS.

If it's something that I can do completely in markdown, then I just hosted on GitHub

rajnp 20 hours ago 0 replies      
If it is static webpages, S3 hosting.
garhirunrat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quick and easy project for me I use just HTML, jQuery. Host on AWS S3. Upload via S3 console.

If it's a big one. I use Play Framework and React. Host on EC2. Upload is depend on project.

insin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use this to generate new project skeletons and handle all the dev/test/build tooling:


I just use GitHub pages for static project hosting. Surge, or something similar, would probably be more convenient.

pigpigs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just wrote out a boilerplate for side projects https://github.com/zweicoder/react-redux-express-boilerplate

Normally I host it on DigitalOcean

rayalez 1 day ago 0 replies      
Simple html and CSS, Zurb Foundation(super convenient, has all the elements I need, takes care of 80% of the design), deploy to Digital Ocean, serve with nginx.

Just made myself a homepage like this:


dontJudge 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Super efficient?Just upload content to production. I remember at my first job they pressed an "up" arrow button once content looked good in their browsers.

Super duper efficient? Develop on prod.

jsegura 1 day ago 0 replies      
For deploys I use PubStorm (www.pubstorm.com). Super easy and straightforward deploys for static sites.
tmaly 1 day ago 1 reply      
at a meta level, I plan everything the night before.my time is short, so I need to optimize productivity.
lollipop25 1 day ago 0 replies      

- HTML: Vanilla

- CSS: Bootstrap 4 (SCSS) + node-sass

- JS: Any framework (ES6) + Rollup + Babel


- Repo: GitLab

- Host: GitLab Pages

- CI: GitLab CI

Ask HN: Good books on managing finances?
13 points by bgar  1 day ago   10 comments top 10
liamcardenas 1 day ago 0 replies      
I personally loved "The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing"

The Boglehead philosophy gives one a sense of humility in a world that's driven by hype and market timing. If we are to believe that financial markets are more-or-less efficient, then it stands to reason that you won't be able to consistently pick stocks that perform better than market averages. It teaches you how to grow your wealth in the long run by investing in low fee, unmanaged index funds. It also talks about how to invest in a tax-efficient manner and how to spend/invest appropriate amounts of your income. All around its the best primer to finance that I have read.

Huppie 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a good started book is "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" by Ramit Sethi [0]. It contains all the basics you need and you can expand from there.

The One Page Financial Plan [1] as kokonotu points out is also a good one.

Further more, I'd recommend thinking about what you want to achieve with money. Ramit will tell you to enjoy life and save enough for later, I personally think the amount of money we (can) earn as software engineers can be used to buy a lot more 'free time' than most people think, allowing us to 'retire' (travel the world programming, building open source software, or whatever you like...) way earlier than most people. If you're interested in that kind of think you could have a look into Mr Money Mustache's blog [3] for instance. (Disclaimer: Some people might think he's a bit extreme, if you're that kind of person just try to pick up some of the good parts/habits and you'll be way ahead of the curve.)




JacobAldridge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two books I read at about your stage that helped me enormously:

1) Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Look, it's a parable told by the author stretching the truth, and in the 20 years since it was written Kiyosaki has likely done some shady things. But much like Richest Man in Babylon (also told as parables, though more obviously so) it's a good introduction to thinking about money working for you, not the other way around.

2) Money Secrets of the Rich by John Burley (http://www.moneysecretsoftherich.com/). Ignore the link bait title. Unfortunately, it looks like it hasn't been updated in a few years (it pre-dates Obamacare, for example, which if you're in the US possibly negates my next comment).

I found this both practical and relevant - one chapter on tax actually linked me to a form I could submit as a low-income earner (student) which entitled me to a government rebate of $150 - the people at the office I submitted it to hadn't even heard of it, but it paid for the book 5 times over! There are some useful chapters on investing, but most of the value is understanding common traps like car-financing, insurance, spending too much on stuff etc etc with actual website links and so on. I bought a copy for each of my siblings as they started work as well.

MalcolmDiggs 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The two authors that have helped me the most are Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. They disagree about some things:

Dave hates credit, doesn't think you need a credit score. Suze suggests ways to boost your credit score, and thinks that's important.

Dave says to save up a 6-month emergency fund only after you pay off your debt, Suze says save up an 8-month emergency fund ASAP.

A few other smaller differences. Dave has specific steps you can take, Suze is more general advice.

I'd recommend reading them both and combining their programs into something that works for you.

Dave Ramsey's main book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Total-Money-Makeover-Financial/dp/...

Or the audiobook: http://www.audible.com/pd/Business/The-Total-Money-Makeover-...

Suze Orman's main book: http://www.amazon.com/Money-Class-Create-Future-Deserve/dp/0...

Or the audiobook: http://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/The-Money-Class-A...

... Also, if you like Dave Ramsey's style, he has a daily call-in radio show you can listen to for free online/stitcher/itunes

krmmalik 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The Secrets Of the Millionaire Mind by T.Harv Eker was a complete game changer for me. I spent the last several years looking for something as good as this. I also highly recommended signing up to YNABs free 9-day email course once you have read about the "jar system" in the book.
fiftyacorn 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you need two books - one on budgeting, and one on investing.

I cant recommend a budgeting one but would recommend bogleheads, as suggested by liamcardenas. Another book worth reading, although heavier is the Intelligent Investor. I read the annotated version and its similar advice to bogleheads. If you really get into investing read Warren Buffetts shareholder letters

hoof_marks 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Firstly, the two best investments you could start with are Mutual funds and Bank Term Deposits. With mutual funds choose the fund house first and then their scheme.

As far as books are concerned I'd always fall back on 'The Intelligent Investor' by Ben Graham. Another handy book is 'One up on wall street' Peter Lynch.

Although investment runs concurrently with tax breaks. So if you find a good book informing on where the income tax credits and breaks are allowed etc. it would be handy.

The important thing in spending is to be unrestrained when it comes to a subject close to your heart. The best things come with a price to pay.

kokonotu 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I found The One Page Financial Plan to be simple and easy (and very short) introduction to manage my money.


11thEarlOfMar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see a list as well.

The challenge with such a book is that your financial goals change as your life transpires. Ones 'financial journey' through life can take many paths that are some times deliberately chosen and sometimes chosen for you.

There are of course some basics:

- spend less tha you earn

- invest the difference ('in what?'is one of life choice questions!)

- learn what you can, which you are trying to do now!

mattm 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Richest Man in Babylon is one of the first ones I read. It provides you more with an overview rather than specifics but it would be a good one to start with.
Ask HN: If you could restart your current project, what would you do different?
5 points by hoodoof  9 hours ago   5 comments top 4
zeemonkee3 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I might have written my last project in Python rather than Go. Go is a great language in its niche, but it's overkill for a run-of-the-mill web CRUD API on a low-traffic site. Flask or Django would have got the project done in half the time. The front end was in React, which was fun, but I was still climbing the learning curve and made a few mistakes I wouldn't have made today.
hoodoof 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My project is built with ReactJS. I'd have started with TypeScript I think. I'd like to switch but I bet there would be enough errors and pain not warrant the change at this point.

Everything else is pretty much OK.

theoneone 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Write it in ember instead of php
nibs 9 hours ago 0 replies      
vanilla Node.JS instead of Meteor, Vue.js instead of Blaze
Ask dang: How many HN comments per day do you read?
118 points by andreygrehov  6 days ago   99 comments top 13
crusso 6 days ago 2 replies      
While we're at it - thanks, Dang. You do a lot of hard work keeping HN a place worth visiting. I even appreciated the time or two you corrected me personally.

The comments sections of most online forums are about useless and I know that places like HN don't stay this way by accident.

dang 6 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not sure. Probably a few hundred.
maxxxxx 6 days ago 5 replies      
I sometimes read only the comments and not the article. I think that's a bad thing :-(
jnpatel 6 days ago 1 reply      
also: do you use any special tools to help monitor comments, or just https://news.ycombinator.com/newcomments ?
lexhaynes 4 days ago 0 replies      
I often read the comments first, and then read the article. I love comments sections in general (Gawker, Gothamist, NYT come to mind in terms of decent commenters), but I've never learned as much as in the HN comments section.

I probably read ~500 comments a day on HN.

Reedx 6 days ago 3 replies      
A lot.

I actually optimize for the comments, heh. I open HN links in new tabs and then wait a day or two for the discussion to complete before reading through them. So I don't end up refreshing for new comments or re-reading the same ones.

There are a couple downsides to this though: One, I generally miss the window for participation. Two, my browser is perpetually filled with dozens of HN tabs.

CM30 6 days ago 0 replies      
Depends if anything controversial has been posted that day. Some topics I read get hundreds of comments, some get about 3. So I guess it depends on whether there's a political war going on or some giant controversy in internet land, or whether anyone's staying reasonable for a few days or so.
probinso 6 days ago 0 replies      
CaiGengYang 3 days ago 0 replies      
Depends on my mood ... probably about 10 per day
anon987 6 days ago 2 replies      
Less and less.

Too often comment chains devolve into nitpicking, pedantry, and into off-topic discussion where two people fight tooth and nail for Internet Points.

From a technical perspective I get little or nothing from them, and from a discussion standpoint there's little reason for me to spend my time watching people nitpick each other over things that nobody in the community cares about.

askafriend 6 days ago 0 replies      
Millions, or so it feels that way.
tgb 6 days ago 1 reply      
He reads only one HN comment per day, but it is always the correct one.
smeyer 6 days ago 2 replies      
From the guidelines:

>Please don't post on HN to ask or tell us something (e.g. to ask us questions about Y Combinator, or to ask or complain about moderation). If you want to say something to us, please send it to hn@ycombinator.com.

This may not specifically fall in that category, but you may still want to email if you don't get your answer here.

Ask HN: What are the optimal layout and Desired CV Characteristics?
4 points by dimitrieh  1 day ago   2 comments top 2
axvk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
- Edit your resume for each role that you apply to. You don't know how many resumes I get for XYZ developer that don't have language XYZ in their resume at all.

- The perfect resume shows that you held nice long positions with very small or no gaps.

- Make it sound like you were somebody important in these positions. Make it feel like you made decisions for the company that were important.

- Side projects are always nice. Shows that you have an interest in your field.

- Leading or line height is good for readability.

- If your resume is more than one page then it better be very impressive and really need to be that long.

- Design is always a plus in everything you do, but can hurt you if done incorrectly.

- Have a few people review your resume for typos.

probinso 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that it just matters that you think about it. I reviewed a lot of resumes where nobody thought about it and they get difficult to read.

Although I do think that this is a personal bias, I definitely always notice (and appreciate) when somebody uses LaTex.

I guess it may depend on how new you are to the industry, and how many disconnected projects from your work history you have, but I do suggest having a project section. This way you can list things you've accomplished without needing to associate them with a class or company. I however discourage detailed descriptions of these projects. Titles should be eye caching and be used for inspiration of talking points during the interview. I don't see this on many resumes, but I have gained much benefit during the interview process in having a better idea of what I may be asked.

Ask HN: Options Trading Platforms and Resources
8 points by kposehn  2 days ago   2 comments top 2
ottocoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
1. Interactive Brokers.IB's interface is not my favorite (I liked Options House in this regard) but is exactly what I need from a pricing perspective.

My experience is likely limited compared to yours. I focused originally on covered calls, with some occasionally speculative short-term bets. I was very successful using Options House for about a year or so. It turned out to be mostly dumb luck and ultimately more or less broke even. After some analysis that wasn't too bad considering all of the commissions I had to pay. I've since re-evaluated my strategy, resigned myself to believing that I'm likely not going to beat the index, and only actively trade with "entertainment levels" of money. The minimum to open an account with Interactive Brokers may be high (or maybe not for you, depending on your situation) but just because you need an amount to deposit doesn't mean you have expose that full amount to whatever strategy you have planned.

Definitely check the numbers (and interface) for yourself. One "gotcha" is the data-access fees (some are waived with activity). My time-horizon for my current strategy is typically in the 3-6 month range so I can't offer much advice on the IB bells and whistle - which are many (Yahoo Finance checked once a day is sufficient for my needs). I currently only use options as protective puts on volatility based short sells.

I hope more people respond since I'm genuinely curious as well!

BWStearns 1 day ago 0 replies      
Regarding the platform I looked into Interactive Brokers before deciding on eTrade. Their API setup requires running a local trading station and doesn't seem to be terribly easy to code against. After seeing eTrade's docs I was pretty well sold.

Quantopian has a pretty active community, but I get the impression that by and large trading is not as open and communal a space as coding is.

Ask HN: Which hackers do you look up to the most?
38 points by qqwerz  4 days ago   36 comments top 29
noir_lord 4 days ago 1 reply      
Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.

She wrote the first compiler which she was assured couldn't be done after already doing it, she rose to the top of a male dominated field and did it on merit, she took a leave from Vasser to join WAVES (womens volunteer corp during WWII) as a junior lieutenant, refused to retire and ended up a Read Admiral.

Ada gets a lot of respect as the 'first' female programmer but Hopper is at least as significant imo.

> The most important thing I've accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, 'Do you think we can do this?' I say, "Try it." And I back 'em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir 'em up at intervals so they don't forget to take chances

jrcii 4 days ago 1 reply      
Leslie Lamport. There are a dozen larger than life programmers out there, but reading his biography I was struck with a kind of resigned sorrow at the concrete expression of a certain ideal life that I always wanted for myself and know I'll never achieve. BS from MIT at an absurd age, math PhD, goes on to write TLA+ which is a marvel of sophistication. Turing Award.

The king kind of has to be Dennis Ritchie in my mind, I can't think of code that's more influential in general and definitely in my life than C and Unix.

I like Rich Hickey a lot, what he's done and judging from his talks his personality.

More obscure but this guy Fabrice Bellard is an animal, he puts out this insane amount of sophisticated code like, oh btw guys here's a fully working LTE stack.

hello_newman 4 days ago 0 replies      
For me personally, there has been no one more inspiring to me than DHH. Brilliant, a true hacker at heart, opinionated, entrepreneurial, and I also happen to share his stance on starting a business vs playing the startup lottery.

I'd also extend my admiration for the core rails team as well. A decade plus strong, and they still make beautiful software.

dividual 4 days ago 1 reply      
I respect any hacker who gave up playing the game years ago because they realized just how insecure everything was, yet became comfortable with this (Read 'everything is broken' by Quinn Norton, and watch some of Haroon Meer's talks).

It's a kind of comfort that comes with years of hacking, and the quality of their work is unmistakeable. Look at Vinay Gupta's work on Ethereum. He openly states how much he distrusts Intel and X86 and is doing public speaking to wake others up about this. Also any person working on open hardware, or Trusted platform modules are worth watching.

fatimafouda 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz, not just for his programming skills, but also for never giving up on his fight to make knowledge opensource (See the Guirella Open Access Manifesto)

Other programmers I look up to are:

Tim Berners-Lee

Linus Torvalds

John Carmack

cloudjacker 4 days ago 1 reply      

Its impressive how such brash egoism has allowed him to monetize his hacks and general tinkering. Leaving modesty reserved for the poor and hobbyists taking up space in the garage.

nekopa 4 days ago 0 replies      
don knuth.

Besides from his talent, I love the fact that he is still working on a project that will never be finished -TAOCP.

I look up to him as a hacker, not an academic, in the way that hackers scratch an itch and write something cool. His itch was typesetting, so he just nonchalantly created tex. Using a methodology (literate programming) he created to scratch a previous itch.

Plus he likes to compose music (great hackers hack across domains)

dorfuss 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Bisqwit, of course, but gosh, there is so much great talent around.


NetStrikeForce 4 days ago 0 replies      
All the people involved in the Debian project. The world would be so different without them.
JustSomeNobody 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll note a few of the very first ones. There's a couple modern ones, but I think the ones that influenced me earlier are more important, so I'll stop there.

Jim Butterfield: The very first programmer I looked up to. I learned a lot reading his code.

Michael Tischer: PC Intern author. That book was very influential for me. I have this crazy drive to know how things work and that book explained a lot to me.

Michael Abrash: My assembly language skills owed[0] a lot to his writing.

John Carmack: How could he not be on anyone's list?

[0] Past tense; I don't write anything in assembly anymore.

sgillen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Steve Wozniak is a good one. He basically designed the entirety of the Apple I and Apple II. My favorite anecdote is that to this day he doesn't really understand how the Apple IIs color screen works.
EliRivers 4 days ago 0 replies      
Greenblatt, Gosper, Woz, Draper (Captain Crunch), Roberta Williams, Stallman.

If you're reading this and you haven't read Levy's "Hackers", stop reading this and do so.

Also Brendan Gregg. He's really good at what he does, he clearly loves doing it, and everything he learns about doing it he tells everyone else as fast as he can. He's a demonstration of the hacker ethic.

xufi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Dennis Ritchie. The father of UNIX. He's had a impact of how I've come understand UNIX to be today.
haidrali 20 hours ago 0 replies      
For me I look up to Salvatore Sanfilippo aka antirez is best programmer, he wrote Redis
mindcrime 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, so many to choose from. But I'd include folks like:

Bjarne Stroustrup

Dennis Ritchie

Rob Pike

Alan Kay

Alan Cox

Linus Torvalds

Margaret Hamilton

Kevin Mitnick

Richard Stallman

Paul Graham

Robert T. Morris

frou_dh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I admire Rich Hickey, especially as a communicator of ideas about programming. After he released Clojure, he went on a rampage of one fantastic presentation after another.
pizza 3 days ago 0 replies      
Samy Kamkar!

Here is a video where he demonstrates how to open garage doors with a wireless Mattel toy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSSRaIU9_Vc

He also wrote that one XSS worm for myspace several years ago. Hi Samy, in case you happen to read this ;)

mod50ack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bill Joy. Say what you will of what became of Sun, but the guy knew his stuff. Wrote the original vi, plus a whole lot of the rest of BSD, undeniably influential to anybody who uses a NIX system today (whether it be BSD or not)
decasteve 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure if they'd be considered hackers but visionaries that have paved the way for hackers by enabling the computing we have today:

J.C.R. LickLider

Vannevar Bush

It's worth going back and reading what they wrote/said. Every hacker should know these names.

exolymph 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like Steve Klabnik a lot.
tropo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Eric S. Raymond

terminals, version control, NTP... all ugly old things that MUST WORK

bjourne 3 days ago 0 replies      
Martin v Lwis, Joe Groff, Thomas Nagy, Armin Ronacher, RhodiumToad and lots, lots, lots more.
herbst 3 days ago 0 replies      
As DHH was already mentioned, i want to throw Aaron Patterson, Linda Luikas and Sam Aaron in the mix.
mfalcon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Gabriel Weinberg (duckduckgo) and Andrej Karpathy
fosco 4 days ago 1 reply      
Zero Cool andAlec Sadler.
probinso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Moxie Marlinspike
erac1e 3 days ago 0 replies      
Julian Assange.
pinewurst 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dan Bernstein
Ask HN: What are the best practices for hiring software engineers?
18 points by adamgamble  3 days ago   20 comments top 8
MalcolmDiggs 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Generally speaking: You need someone you trust, who is at (or above) the level you're hiring for, to screen candidates for you. Just put them in the same room together and let them have a conversation for an hour or two.

A non-technical person screening a technical person is generally not a good idea. It doesn't matter what prepackaged barrage of tests you put them through, or what saas product you make them sign up for. Most engineers know how to sound like they know what they're talking about, and how to craft their past experiences to sound relevant to your position. Only another engineer can tell if all that talk is meaningful or not.

This leaves many startups in a rough position: How does a CEO screen their tech co-founder? How do front-end developers screen a backend guy? And this is where your network comes in. Call in favors, ask around. Find someone who is employed doing the job you're hiring for (or ideally a more senior version of it), and ask them to do the screen for you. Don't give in to the temptation to screen them yourself (if you're not technical), there's really no point in it.

lsiebert 3 days ago 0 replies      
Small companies don't have to filter thousands of candidates, and can innovate around how they hire. They have to be like moneyball.

Big companies whiteboard because that's how it started, everyone who works there knows how to whiteboard, and you can argue that it's correlated with skills used in development. They don't have time to pair program. They can afford to throw away people who could be good based on their arbitrary metrics.

Startups can make innovating around hiring a selling point to candidates. They can talk to candidates about what sort of process would best demonstrate their skills and be in their comfort zone. They can look at non traditional candidates based on github accounts or OS contributions. They want people who can deliver.

Google's hiring innovations are more likely to be small steps. By being agile, startups can get ahead of them.

As to what best practices are, behavioral interviews that ask people what they would do in a particular situation are correlated with job skills. So is actual work, so paying someone to work for you, or perhaps even volunteering to help them with something by pairing, may give you insight into them.

bitshepherd 3 days ago 0 replies      
One former employer tested prospective hires by handing them a print-out of a script, nothing too fancy, just some shell script, and ask them to explain what the script did and if there were any errors.

If one can read the language, and know what it does, the errors are pretty obvious. If the prospect doesn't know it, they're not able to talk to it, and the bullshit meter goes off pretty quick if they try faking it.

z3t4 3 days ago 2 replies      
Take your candidate to a computer, ask the programmer what he/she is working on. Have the candidate sit down and continue the work for ten minutes. If it works, hire him/her.
zer00eyz 3 days ago 3 replies      
A) Give them a "take away" project... or bring them into the office to DO a project. Make it simple. Have them write "login". Don't be specific, tell them the exercise meant to be vague. Tell them that there are some things they may want to "hint at" or be a skeleton. If they are back end, you want just the api... front end just the UI (they can create static json for responses). Do they encrypt, did they leave hooks in for password reset, were they writing code that was going to be hard to I18N?

The white board is a terrible way to get a sense of a persons ability to code. Does your design team ask candidates to come in and "design" on the whiteboard? Why would you pull an engineer that far out of context to see what they do.

I have seen interviewers bring in "code samples", sometimes with bugs in them. "Read this and tell me what you think it does" becomes a great question, or what is this for. Syntax highlighted code printed in color may speed this exercise along but isn't required.

References help, but really your calling someone they expect to give them a golden review. Linked in is your friend here, some "outreach" may get you a different perspective than the people they have listed.

B)Short of someone being lazy, or unwilling to learn, there is more than a bit of bullshit in "corporate culture". There have been several occasions in my career where I heard that my immediate boss didn't want to hire me as I would be a "bad culture fit", usually followed by a promotion. Culture is code for "status quo".

Lastly: Talk to your HR department about terminating bad employees after 90 days. No matter what you do, sometimes you just get it wrong, and getting that person out is better than dragging it out.

EDIT: I should have mentioned that rather than focus on "culture" you should be finding out if the person cares about your product.

ruraljuror 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have been very happy with coderpad.io to do remote coding interviews.
clbecker 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my experiences working with developers, theres only a few issues that have made an employee difficult to work with. Most of it is around personality, motivation, and communication. Its rare that I have a difficult time working with someone because they lack certain skills (but do have the motivation to learn them), and for all of the devs Ive gotten to know and work with over the years, I feel like a detailed review of their previous work experience would have told us enough about their skills.

Good things to check for:

how open minded are they? - Do they stubbornly stick with a certain way of doing things?- How readily will they apply someone elses feedback?- Do they insist on doing things their way?- Do they think all code written by others is crap? - How much do they bristle at someone elses code style vs working with it?

How well can they communicate with non-technical people?- How do they talk about their interactions with product managers/marketing/sales/customer service/etc?- Do they blame any issues on customers or colleagues being "idiots"?

Can they talk through a past problem they solved?Can they talk through the whole context of a problem they solved?- do they understand the customer problem they were solving and why it was important?- can they speak to multiple approaches that were considered and what their drawbacks were? - A great one is, did they go down a wrong path and learn something?

- Some other things to assess are - do they focus on the right problems to solve? Do they have a history of building systems that are more complicated than they need to be? Do they over-optimize areas where its not necessary or do they have a sense of where potential bottlenecks might lie; how to find them; when the right time is to worry about them?

If they can talk through a past problem they solved in detail, thats a super great sign. The more detail they can get into and help you understand, the better. If they just start gushing technical details, theyre either nervous, or they had a very siloed role in developing the solution. I personally prefer engineers who can get invested in the context of a problem.

When it comes to coding in an interview Ive found that very simple coding problems can surface all the info I need about their coding proficiency. - if the problem is simple, theyll be able to just stream the code from their head on either a whiteboard or a machine.- experienced developers will even manage to talk through edge cases and workarounds - if they struggle with this challenge, then theyre not going to do better with a more complicated problem. - for experienced devs Ill want to see that theyre proficient with the syntax of at least one language (if they dont remember a specific method name, thats ok - problems that can be solved by a google search shouldnt be held against them)

- springing a complex coding question in front of them and expecting a perfect solution on the spot is a lot to ask for. Real solutions to complex problems will be debated and built upon by multiple people. If you go through this exercise, focus on how they tackle the discussion itself.

- I avoid brain teasers and puzzles. Theres plenty of good developers who can solve a real-world problem well but suck at solving technical brain teasers.

- In any interview, its important to take notice of how nervous the interviewee is. Some people may be able to handle interviews better than others. When youre nitpicking their answers later on, keep this in mind. Some candidates might blank out on an otherwise simple problem; some might ramble on and seem disorganized. Ive seen too many candidates get turned down because of a few specific details they mishandled due to nerves.

jerven 3 days ago 1 reply      
Our process is a bit different from what is common in the rest of industry.

We do 3 things of which the first 2 are standard.

* CV screen* Phone screen, asking what, why, what is missing on CV* Interview -> starting by a presentation done by the candidate, then classic discussion/interview

The 3rd step is what is uncommon, we always ask a potential candidate to present a bit of code. Their own if possible, open source otherwise. The candidate selects the code and makes a small presentation powerpoint style or walk through.

We always learn a lot of this. What code was selected? What do they like/dislike about. Do they have opinions, and do they consider tradeoffs are they willing to read other peoples code?

I think that for us, having some kind of taste in code and be willing to work with and improve code written by others is a crucial part of our job. We can't afford rewrites, we are willing to do migrations.

For the interviewing team it is always nice to have such a small presentation because we always learn something new. It is never a waste of time! The candidates seem to enjoy it too because they have something concrete to talk about. In our very limited sample since doing this we have had less stuttering/sweating by potentials. White board coding just didn't work for us.

Then of course we have the 15 minute selling of the organisation/job to the candidate. No point in interviewing a great candidate and then lose them because you can't sell them on working for you. For that reason one of the developers will be waiting at reception for the candidate, and will walk them in, offer a coffee/thee/water show the conference room and tries to make the candidate as comfortable/relaxed as possible. Key is we try to show to the candidate that we appreciate their time.

For a candidate, you will not spend more than 3 hours total in the process. 30 minutes phone screen. 60 minutes interview with some extra time60 minutes admin/contract details

Between each step there is a go no go decision and we normally make that the same day.

A no-go in the phone call might be 6 years of experience but never used CVS/Git or similar. Interview no-go tends to be voicing out loud that you are not willing to dig into a problem. e.g. DB perf issue, won't touch it DBA job.

Contract issues is when we can't afford you ;(

Of course we hire once every 18 months on average because we are a small team working on a very stable project.

Of course this is under Swiss law so there will be a probationary period but we have not used it in the last 10 years and I hope that continues. There is at will employment here but as in the US what is 'at will' can become a very expensive legal issue if not handled well. Also the negative morale on a small team on letting people go without a clear why is terrible.

Thing is we don't have 100's of candidates nor 10's of positions so what works for us might not work for you.So we tend to get 50 CV's, with 10 potentials, and 2 clear candidates in that pile.

Of yes, we always check at least one of the character references people put on their CV. But never someone in their current work environment (unless we know that will be OK, e.g. people leaving due to fixed term contracts at research institutes)

And the Wrongest Description of TensorFlow Goes To
10 points by snorkel  3 days ago   discuss
Ask HN: Will e-ink laptops be a thing soon, or ever?
19 points by Kluny  3 days ago   25 comments top 10
jonbruner 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's a stripped-down, e-ink word processor similar to what you're describing called Freewrite (https://getfreewrite.com/). It launched on Kickstarter as Hemingwrite a couple of years ago. It's got an e-ink display and syncs documents over WiFi.

I think the real selling point is a distraction-free venue for writing, but the e-ink display could be a plus as well.

dragonwriter 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the problem is that e-ink (and similar, e-ink itself is, IIRC, a particular brand) displays are slow (and possibly power-intensive) to update. They are excellent for their optimized uses, where updates are (compared to typical laptop displays) infrequent, but perhaps not otherwise.

I know there has been work on faster and color e-ink (etc.) displays, but I don't know that there is much progress toward the point where they would make sense for general workloads.

GrumpyYoungMan 3 days ago 2 replies      
The closest thing to what you're looking for would be the Dasung 13" e-ink monitor (http://dasung.com.cn) plus some sort of ultrabook. (Yes, I acknowledge that their web site looks incredibly sketchy but, insofar as I know, it is a real product.) I believe their most recent production run is sold out though, according to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dasungtech).

A review can be found at http://the-digital-reader.com/2015/07/10/one-week-with-dasun...

(Disclaimer: I'm neither affiliated with Dasung nor a customer.)

f_allwein 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, that might be nice to have. The One Laptop Per Child laptop (XO) had a dual-mode display with a "Reflective (backlight off) monochrome mode for low-power use in sunlight" [1]. Does not seem to have caught on though. Wasn't the same, but as far as I remember, it was alright.

I guess the majority of users would not want a greyscale display (or at least manufacturers think so).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO

alok-g 2 days ago 1 reply      
About me: I have spent nearly a decade researching a display technology (Qualcomm's mirasol) more capable than E-ink in terms of colors and refresh speed.

Both an e-ink screen and an emissive display like an LCD is basically sending light to your eyes. If the brightness, viewing angle, surface reflection, contrast, etc. match between the two, then one cannot be better than the other.

The most practical solution at least for now is to use emissive displays with wide viewing angle, anti-reflective coatings, matte finish, and with appropriately adjusted brightness, contrast, and also font sizes. All of these seemingly small factors matter.

Try this experiment: Apply a white background on the emissive screen, and now put a blank printer paper in the front of half of the screen. If the screen looks too bright as compared to the paper (good chance it will), you need to get its brightness down still more!

I cannot find anymore, but there was a post on Hacker News of someone making an LCD image look indistinguishable from a printed photo in a frame.

chatmasta 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a video from someone who got vim to work on an e-ink display:


id122015 3 days ago 0 replies      
i asked this question many years ago. +1 Count me in. The best thing is to be proactive and start making the list of people who want such a device. For me even just the monitor is enough, not need to wait for a full laptop. next time when they crowdfund a new project we will be ready to act.
rwallace 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can't you get the same result with off-the-shelf hardware by turning down the brightness? Like, change the background color in your editor from (255,255,255) to something dimmer?
vanattab 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know of a ultra low power lightweight laptop. I am dreaming of someday working remotely while backpacking and would like a small laptop I could charge off solar panels.
mbrock 2 days ago 0 replies      
You could also research e-ink Android tablets with USB/Bluetooth for the keyboard. (I looked at some a year ago, but I forgot their names.)
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