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Ask HN: How to monitor what happens to device examined at US border?
7 points by PuffinBlue  2 hours ago   4 comments top 2
DamonHD 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If I ever* travel to the US again I shall avoid all of the above by NOT taking my real laptop and phone; I may take fresh ones or buy/borrow while in the US to finesse the issue.

I know it doesn't answer your question directly, and whatever other answers you get may still be applicable to fresh kit brought in.

*In the foreseeable future, with fingerprinting and device scanning and generally treating all visitors as at least a nuisance...

Artlav 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How often does this actually happen? Never been to the states, keep hearing rumors of illegal device searches like that.
Ask HN: Should I create a clone of a popular SaaS with rock-bottom pricing?
356 points by aminmemon  1 day ago   207 comments top 72
codegeek 1 day ago 11 replies      
Good news and bad news for you.

Good news: You want to create something for a market that already exists. Good.

Bad news: You assume that cheaper pricing will make you win. Not even close.

There are tons of SAAS clones out there for every successful saas. Do you know how many Trello clones are out there ? Slack ? What matters is your ability to execute and sell. Cheaper pricing is one small factor that may get you a few clients but in order to run it as a successful business, you will need a lot more things. Some checklist:

- What significant advantage are you offering over existing ones that you are cloning ? Please tell me pricing is not the only differentiator. Most clients won't care. Trust me.

- What is the reputation of your company ? Even if you are starting out, you need to show that people can trust you.

- How easy is your UI/UX ? Are you creating a better clone or a worse clone ?

- Can you win on customer support ? Lot of people want to switch from their current provider due to customer support. Pricing does influence that decision but not a whole lot.

mrspeaker 1 day ago 4 replies      
My semi-related anecdote: I was working in Paris, and we'd frequently go for lunch at a pasta takeout place that was very conveniently located. The food was terrible and overpriced. 10 euro for a small box of pasta with some generic sauce. But there were always long queues of people there, because it was convenient.

One day we were walking there, complaining about it how cheap it must be to make such substandard fare. Someone suggested that we should get out of computer programming and start a pasta place: we'd serve the same shitty pasta and pasta sauce, but charge 5 euro instead of 10. We'd make a killing!

The boss was walking with us and remarked, boss-ly, "Why would you sell something for 5 euro when people are happily paying 10?"

I kicked myself for not even thinking of that.

throwawayAf7jD 1 day ago 2 replies      
Throwaway here. I did this with my startup. There were two major players in the industry and I undercut the cheapest one by 35%. Both are hemorrhaging long time customers to my service in droves. Though the key difference is that the product and customer support is vastly superior (as noted by those that have switched).

Launching with a lower price point allowed me to win over the price comparison shoppers and thus further refine the product. That helped the business grow organically and get in the same conversation as the long time players. It's now making $25k/m and growing a lot faster than I expected.

So to answer your question. Yes you can attract more customers by launching with rock-bottom pricing, but you better make damn sure it's a better overall product. Otherwise you just become the "cheap" option in the customer's minds. It's also important to consider what would happen if one of the competitors reacted by matching your pricing. In my case I tried to estimate their overhead by looking at their office location, number of employees, etc. Then I figured a price that would really put some pressure on their finances should they try to match.

02thoeva 1 day ago 4 replies      
So we launched https://emailoctopus.com around 3 years ago, it was pitched as 10x cheaper than Mailchimp and that's remained our core proposition.

That said, it's very difficult to grow a bootstrapped business when you're not charging much. At the lower end of the market you usually have less committed customers and depending on the SaaS, you may attract less favourable customers. As such we're slowly moving away from pricing being our only unique selling point and beginning to look at differentiating features.

Copying features at a lower price is a fine way to start out as a one-man band and gives you sufficient focus to get it out ther door, however, to grow the business I think you'll need to look bigger.

sonink 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know a friend who did something similar in a 'crowded' SaaS market. He thought it will take him 6 months to make a hundred grands an year - it took him 3 years, but he kept at it.

Now it makes a few hundred grands an year to pay for his nomad vacation lifestyle and he has hired help to grow.

I think growing an existing SaaS is one of the safest business to build online. The market is already proven and you will find a niche over time even if it is not pricing. The most important thing - dont die.

patio11 1 day ago 3 replies      
Name, without looking, the cheapest alternative to Github, or Basecamp, or Trello.

Do you use any of them? No, you don't. Because you do not make decisions primarily based on price.

You may think customers, in aggregate, primarily make decisions based on price. You'd be wrong. You're going up against a lot of empirical economics research conducted by, among others, SaaS companies, where they hire someone to tell them to double the prices and that results in 2X the revenue plus or minus 10%.

Preview of coming attractions for running a SaaS company: at virtually every company, churn rates go up as prices go down, because low prices attract tire kickers, pathological customers, and folks who are loyal only to the thrill of finding a deal. You might think that customers paying $10 are worth 10% of customers paying $100, but it's actually closer to 2~3% once you factor in the elevated churn rates.

Do a SaaS! (Though dabbling in SaaS is, perhaps, hard. Maybe dabble in writing a book about the problem your SaaS would solve. If you can't dabble your way to a book dabbling your way to a SaaS app is harder in every way.) Charge more than you think is reasonable for it. Then, double your prices.

cyberferret 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anecdotal Story: Back in the 90's a colleague of mine had a small company here in Australia that developed a financial forecasting model for larger organisations. They were doing OK, but needed a huge client to really get them on the map.

Then, one day, they received a phone call from one of the 'Big 4' banks in Oz to pitch their software solution to them with a view to the bank taking it on nationwide. This was the 'big one' they were after.

They made their pitch which went well, and my colleague was asked for their licence price, which they up front said was calculated at $50,000 for each state.

The bank thanked them, and they left the pitch meeting, but they never heard back. Months later, my colleague approached the procurement manager who was at the meeting and asked why they didn't get the contract, as they had discounted their licence costs significantly in order to try and get the business - was it still too expensive?

The manager told him: "Actually, we LOVED your solution, which was perfect, BUT we had budgeted $1Million dollars per state for the final software solution. When you said $50K per state, most of our committee members thought that was too cheap, and they had reservations that you would be around for the long haul to support the software, so we voted against you..."

richardw 1 day ago 0 replies      
One issue with attracting customers who are looking for cheapness is that they're very likely what Patio11 calls "pathological customers". To be avoided at all costs.

Read his interview with Ramit Sethi here:


(Look for "How Youre Collecting Pathological Customers And How To Stop")

Having said that, it's an option to attack a market, just be aware of what you're in for. To get reasonable revenue you have to get many more customers. Support loads will be higher. Revenue to support ratio might drive you crazy.

dharmon 1 day ago 2 replies      
While from an engineer's perspective it seems distasteful to do this, from a business perspective it can absolutely make sense.

Low-cost leader can certainly be a sustainable competitive advantage. Think GEICO vs. All State.

A lot depends on the service you are looking at, but I think it's important that low-cost be part of your marketing. Advertise the fact that people shouldn't be "paying for features they don't need" or support they don't need. If you are clear up front that you are cheap for these reasons (and are not afraid to fire customers, or at least tell the more difficult ones they should be using the more expensive service), you can sustain that lead.

Be careful, though. You need to think about why your competitor is able to charge more.

An illustrative example is a program called "Final Draft". They make screenwriting software and have been around a long time. Years ago I was curious after hearing the owner discuss how much they sold, how is this company that makes a niche product able to do so much business? How many active screenwriters could there possibly be?

The answer, I realized, is that their business is not made from working screenwriters, it's made from aspiring screenwriters. Every wannabe knows that the pros use Final Draft, so if you wanna pretend to be a pro, you're gonna spend the $100 to get Final Draft so you can feel fancy. This is an awesome advantage for them, and it means I would have a hard time writing a clone and selling it for even $10. The actual software doesn't matter! It's the feelings it gives.

There are tons of products in the Internet Marketing world that have a similar advantage. If your favorite blogger uses it, you feel like a bigshot so you'll pay up for tons of stuff you don't need as s small-timer.

On the other hand, they may just be charging more because they have hired too many people or are being greedy. Up to you to figure this out.

clairity 1 day ago 0 replies      
i'll say this again: nearly every small business (startup or otherwise) is a marketing problem, not a technology problem. here are just a few things to think about:

* how will people learn your product exists? how much should you pay for this discovery per potential customer?

* what features must you offer for people to want to pay you? how many of these features can you buy vs build?

* how quickly can you get to market, to reduce costs and risk and start learning about the market asap?

* what kinds of people would want your service? why would they choose your version rather than an incumbents'? if price is your only differentiator, then how many features do you need to be a true alternative? how much support and availability do you need to keep customers loyal?

* how do you create enough trust for potential customers to start to rely on your unknown company/product/service?

* how much should you charge? as others have noted, "rock-bottom" is not a great answer. how much value do you generate for your customer, and how much of that do you intend to capture?

* is SaaS the right revenue model for the type of product/service you're building and the customers you're targeting?

* how will you measure satisfaction and engagement, and generate further value to retain customers?

if you're eager to tackle these kinds of questions, go for it! if not, you probably don't want to start a business, because such questions (rather than the tech) will occupy a large part of your day-to-day.

this is why yc's startup school essentially offers a mini-MBA curriculum, rather than a tech-focused one (these questions are also covered in the core marketing class of an MBA program).

throwaway2016a 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes. But only if...

1. You can still afford marketing. Products do not market themselves. For all you know that super expensive SaaS is spending only 10% of their money to run the tech and the other 90% is marketing. (intentionally going to the extreme other end)

2. You have TALKED TO CUSTOMERS and you know that price is a sticking point for them.

- OR -

You have another business and the savings on the monthly bill alone would pay for the R&D and running the product. In which case attracting other customers is just icing on the cake.


Also, side recommendation. If all things considered equal the product is the equivalent. Don't sell it for rock bottom. You don't need to. Sell it for 25% (for example) lower than the competition. You don't need to be rock bottom you just need to come out slightly on top when the customer is doing their decision matrix.

Not to mention physiologically if it is too cheap people wonder why and they think there must be something wrong with it. Which can get you less sales not more.

quizme2000 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is an inversion building in small market Saas pricing. Due to Saas consumers being burned by disappearing or deprecated services, a low or rock-bottom price is a red flag. This is especially true for a Saas services that are business oriented.

If you can deliver a true clone, why not double, triple, or 10x the price? Most Micro or Small Saas are under-priced anyway. You will not be able to snipe a competitor's customers, unless their service is not working, just by having a lower price.

However, if you can clone the service and attract your own customers you should charge more. Revenue will allow you to build out a more valuable/reliable product.

A potential customer will assume the service is more valuable and reliable than the product you cloned simply because it's higher cost.

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Historically cloning a product with rock bottom pricing generally bankrupts the cloner, but cloning a product with rock bottom costs can be a winning strategy.

One of the more interesting situations that entrepreneurs encounter are competitors who are under pricing them but are doing so at the cost of their own margin. The risk is that you can 'win' (capture the market) only to find the more customers you get the more money you lose to the point where you're forced to raise prices or exit the market. Sometimes that choice is made for you by running out of cash.

So the bottom line is this, talking about pricing before you have the business does not make sense. If you can design a SaaS business and accurately cost it out and take a survivable margin and under price most or all offerings in the market, sure go for it. If on the other hand you just have a vague sense that it shouldn't cost as much as it does for this kind of service and so starting to sign up customers at a low price while you build and deploy the service? That is a recipe for disaster every time.

cyberferret 1 day ago 2 replies      
A few people might say that it worked for Borland back in the '80s when they released Turbo Pascal. Most compilers back then were in the vicinity of $1000+, and were complex beasts.

The comes along Borland with a compiler that fitted on a single floppy disk for $69, and it could compile code in the order of 100x faster than the nearest competitor. The rest is history.

But I think that the point people miss was that as well as being less than 1/10th of the price of incumbents, Turbo Pascal ALSO promised a hundred fold increase in performance. If they had brought out a bloated C compiler on a 19 disk installation pack that ran in the same time as the Microsoft C compiler that came on 20 disks, I don't think it would have been game on.

Plus, Borland also swamped all the popular magazines with brash, full page ads that were the antithesis of the staid developer tool ads of the day. As others have pointed out - there are many more things than price which are important.

fab1an 1 day ago 2 replies      
The fundamental equation you need to get right in SaaS (esp in a bootstrapped business) is to have a customer lifetime value that's vastly higher than your customer acquisition costs. Lower prices than your competitors mean that you'll also need to be able to get customers at much lower customer acquisition costs. This is A LOT harder than one might think.

Worse, and contrary to popular opinion, lower pricing _does not_ necessarily mean lower customer acquisition costs in SaaS!

Are you a marketing/growth expert with a proven track record of doing just that? If no, prepare for years of learning a lot of fundamental basics the hard way. If yes, well, do get in touch with me! ;)

Another aspect to consider is that, assuming you're looking at B2B, lower pricing doesn't mean that your product will be more attractive to B2B buyers. If anything, you'll often find that the opposite is true.

lucaspiller 1 day ago 0 replies      
Last year I took over a SaaS from a friend that had rock bottom pricing. It was free and he eventually got fed up of paying the $50/month hosting fees. There are similar services that provide many more features, the only selling point this had is it was free.

Since then I've starting charging new customers and it's just about making enough to cover hosting costs. Thats all I planned to achieve, so in my eyes it's a success :D I've also sunk a good few hundred hours of work into it, so I'm nowhere near breaking even but heh.

However I now have customers paying me between $1 and $21 per month, and honestly it's not really worth the support headache - it was a lot less work when it was free. I could happily ignore users and forget about it, but it's a whole different level when you start charging people.

So can you make a business doing this? Yes, but figure out what you want to achieve from it first. If you plan to quit your day job and earn $X000/month from this, then it's probably not a good idea. If you just want to get some experience running a business and don't value your time, then go ahead.

shubhamjain 1 day ago 1 reply      
Case in Point: Mailerlite [1]. They started as one of the most affordable email marketing software. Even today, I think their pricing beats every other big name out there. Today, I think they have grown to a decently successful bootstrapped business.

I won't say "rock-bottom pricing" is the way to go unless existing solutions are exorbitant but I feel "pricing" is the easiest and safest differentiator. MessageBird doesn't need to create a complex go-to market strategy, they can simply say they are an affordable alternative to Twilio. Amplitude didn't have to pretend that they were better than Mixpanel, only cheaper, especially if you were utilising millions of events.

I also asked this question to a VC who suggested that it can definitely work, notably if it's in commodity markets. If I software is specialised I don't think it makes sense to sell it cheap. But if it's a well-established solution that everyone uses than I don't think there it's bad idea.

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

mmcconnell1618 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's likely that the SaaS you want to clone is far more sophisticated than you think. Even if you clone the features, you still have to clone the customers, marketing, business models, etc.

Is there a niche of customers that use the product you could target with a more unique offering? Find a way to provide more value to the niche. Yes, cheaper offers more value for the same product but there is more money in solving a valuable problem and charging more based on that value.

Competing on price alone is a really tough road to take in business. You end up with everyone losing margin and it is a race to bottom. Only really sophisticated operators can drive cost out of their business fast enough to stay ahead. If you don't want to be the next Walmart, don't compete on lower prices.

ravivyas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Based on my attempt to build a SAAS analytics product and failing, here are my inputs.

- Lower pricing may sound like an entry point. But what ever will allow you to build a competing product, will allows others to compete with you. While we were building our Analytics product, we believed using Google BigQuery and other managed services, we could offer a cheaper analytics product, we would pass all the savings of a managed service to the customer. But then Google release FireBase analytics and made Data studio free, AWS released Pinpoint. While currently they might not have the traction of others, they will gain and pretty much make other's current business models un-viable

- There is no right answers as to why a company will move from one provider to another. I was always under the impression that "better customer service" will get people to move and more importantly stay. But the real fact is, if you have competition, there are going to be multiple reasons. The tendency of "hackers" to find the single "silver bullet" is harmful, in most cases the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

- Most folks who build a startup, don't event thing of branding. Having a known brand is very important in a world where the users almost always self select into SAAS products. I had written a little about it here: https://medium.com/@Ravivyas/abundance-sales-startups-99b42e...

- In most cases basing your startup on a single assumption or theory is a risky prospect. Just being cheaper is not enough, you need to have feature parity, comparable support and a brand.

- Most important point, you need to make money, for that you need to chase people willing to spend money, who are not looking to cut corners. Such customers won't stay long. As an extension, having 1-2 big clients on a customer page is more comforting for a prospect rather than seeing 10-20 who they can't relate too.

yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rock-bottom pricing brings rock-bottom customers. Yet still they will complain that is costs too much. If you paid the rock-bottom customers to use your SaaS, they would complain you pay them too little.
dsugarman 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great question! My opinion is that it's a really bad idea, the cheapest solutions are typically really bad businesses because they have far too little resources to invest in their product and company. Our pricing is always going up because our best customers are the ones who pay us more, not only because we make more money but because they have more resources to invest in their success and they churn less. if you double pricing you need half the number of customers to make the same revenue but you have way less people to make happy.
spo81rty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lots of good comments here but wanted to point out a key point nobody else mentioned.

Price alone won't let you win, but perhaps it might if you are targeting a different market segment.

For my company, our competitors focus on large enterprises. We focus on the small and mid sized companies. Our pricing is lower, our product is simpler too.

Focusing on smaller companies also changes our customer acquisition strategy to be different than our competitors. That was the hardest part to figure out too!

bdcravens 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rock bottom pricing doesn't automatically attract customers; they still have to know about you. What is your marketing budget? If your plan is to just code, and they will come because your price is the cheapest, you will fail.

Additionally, I think you'll be amazed at the time it takes to build something, and the cost to run the infrastructure. The first time you lose someone's data, you're sunk. You're not going to put a SaaS app on a $5 droplet, even if you think that's easy.

So still the same narrative: you might succeed if you can pour several thousands of dollars into it before you make any money, you may have a chance. If you think all you need is a laptop, coffee, and hope, I'd say you may be in trouble.

DanHulton 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nope. You should clone a popular SaaS product, but focus on a specific niche in the greater market and charge more for it, actually.
throwawaySaaS 1 day ago 0 replies      
I run a product team in a relatively mature SaaS business in the infrastructure space. As you probably know, infra is pretty crowded so there's no shortage of competitors. While we had a unique take at slicing out a niche vertical, I wouldn't say what we were doing was entirely novel when we were getting started. So, it's definitely possible to get into an area where there is already product validation.

As for competing on price. You'll quickly discover that if price is the only criteria which you win a deal that these tend to be your worst customers. They use the most of your resources, are least considerate when you screw up (and you will screw up) and don't expand sales necessarily well. When they realize that they can do something cheaper, they will be the first people out the door. That doesn't mean that customers aren't and shouldn't be price conscious. But, you really want to be winning sales based on perceived value, quality and strategic alignment. Your customers should place their loyalty in you by which you build new features in which they pay you more for. By doing so you inherently reduce churn, increase add-on sales, and turn your customers into your greatest marketing asset.

no1youknowz 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I am looking forward to dabble in SaaS. I want to create something for which market already exists. Should I create a clone of any popular SaaS with rock-bottom pricing?

Certainly. Do you have the domain knowledge of why it's already been created? Do you know all the problems it's trying to solve? Do you know other problems it may solve?

That last part is important. Even if you clone an existing app, you may see other uses for it. Now develop that other functionality and you are better than your competitor.

As for rock bottom pricing. Well this will only get you so far. Need to hire support? Can the business now support itself? Nope? Oops, need to raise pricing now.

Also marketing, can the business pay for that and sustain it, to keep on getting new customers? Nope? Oops, now need to determine pricing to support marketing.

> Would I be able attract customers?

Anything can attract potential customers, converting them is another story. You may have rock bottom pricing, but that may actually turn a segment off. Will you still be there in 6 months? What's your stance on privacy? What will you do with my data?

A big thing, is why they should use you, compared to similar saas products.

If I may ask, what is the SaaS product you are looking to clone?

tlogan 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is one important piece here.

If you can offer something for free that "original" requires payment then that approach might work very well - at least as customer acquisition strategy.

That is reason why Trello and Slack are pretty much free. As far as I remember, Gmail did the same: they offered 1GB of free email. That was so much better then my Yahoo which asked me for 9.90 a month for 250MB. So I switched.

But then when you ask users to pay (to upgrade) then 1.99 vs 9.99 vs 19.99 really does not make a lot of difference.

And do not be fooled by "features matters", "support matters", etc. The customer acquisition is the most important part of any (small) business (including SaaS).

theprop 1 day ago 0 replies      
The fundamental problem you have with this plan is that at rock bottom pricing you're not going to earn enough money to pay for customer acquisition. SaaS companies generally need to spend a lot of money to acquire customers.

That said, there are some relatively big, fragmented markets for SaaS like email marketing in which there are at least 15+ companies with at least $10 mn /year in revenues, but most of them are not rock-bottom pricing.

mittermayr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your only main advantage is that you can probably move faster through iterations than the established provider. But also, you've got to do some catching up and then making sure you navigate through the deadly sea of feature-hell. Use the product, understand it, go through forums and talk to users, figure out their pain points. If you find an opportunity, just one niche thing you can help them with, then go all-in on that. It will help get some users interested. They'll say things like, "if you also had X,Z and Y, then we'd be able to switch completely" and that's where you'll likely crash your boat again when conquering the hell that is the sea of possible features once more. It's doable, but it's a lot harder than it may seem at first.
dharness 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that this is a great exercise - especially if you are in it to dabble.

Making a SaaS app requires a lot of creative effort in design, scope, pricing, etc. By copying something that exists you can greatly reduce the cost of design by copying layouts and UX decisions, and focus on learning and coding.

In terms of making money, possibly, a little, but I wouldn't count on it for any substantial income and if you made zero dollars I would not be shocked. It is very difficult to say without knowing the product specifically. I am certain some markets are just begging for a rock bottom pricing clone.

tyingq 1 day ago 0 replies      
If there's a prevailing opinion that the existing popular SaaS is overpriced, you might get some traction. Especially if there's currently little competition.

On the other hand, if you go too low, you won't attract the same customers. You'll get a more miserly crowd that is comparing it to running something themselves on a cheap VPS. They won't be easy to deal with, and will come and go.

I get that being more specific is hard if you're trying to keep the idea to yourself. But, I suspect the answer is very specific to what SaaS you're considering competing against.

kbos87 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two main problems with competing on price that I've experienced -

#1 - As others have mentioned, competing on price will mean that you attract users for whom price is the most important thing. These users are often more fickle, retain at significantly poorer rates, and in my experience, they (counterintuitively) consume more support resources. They also have a substantially lower NPS, which also shines through when they write reviews. Those are some big negatives.

#2 - Pricing your product substantially lower than the pack means that you'll have a very hard time competing with other players in many paid acquisition channels, if you ever intend to. There are plenty of other ways to find customers, but you'll have to rely on channels & audiences with lower intent (as in, people who aren't directly seeking out and already motivated to find what you are selling.)

There are ways to succeed with low cost and free products, but it's a winding path that is far from as obvious as it may seem.

conceptpad 1 day ago 0 replies      
A better idea is to target the design of your SaaS at an underserved segment of the market with deep pockets and charge a premium. Here's your how-to:https://www.amazon.com/What-Customers-Want-Outcome-Driven-Br...
ishwarjha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whether you are making clone of a popular SaaS or building a brand new product, just looking at pricing alone won't help you go anywhere. To make it a success, you need to make1) Interesting to sell - product, features, usability, experience, and availablity are the enablers for making it interesting.2) Interested to buy- you'll need to generate leads, engage with customers, build trust, and develop relationship to find the customer to buy/try-out your product.3) Interested to Pay: your strategy and actions for converting the customer to a paying one.

And this involves a whole lot of thing. Not just pricing, positioning, cloning or copying.

ganesharul 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Clone" What you mean by that?Are you going to duplicate the product?

Doubt it! Not only SAAS in every product there is an open market for alternate product atleast for 'popular products'. Alternate products just clone 'problem statement' and build their own version of the product solution.

In case of popular product, well developed or well defined domain first few steps of solution is going to be same which is unavoidable ex: A car will have four tyres. But, you have all the freedom to change it to be an electric car and make it better. This is how all better products are being made.

Any solution need product market fit, persistence, best engineering, trust among customers, support, experience etc.,

Spend your time in thinking "How this could be done better?". Then you need not clone any product. Almost all forms of idea is been tried in this world. We should try with our own skill set and experience.

All the best!

hluska 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem with competing on cost is that you end up winning those customers who are most concerned with cost. Consequently, if another competitor that is cheaper than you enters the market, or if an existing competitors changes its pricing, you will end up losing all the customers you just spent $$$ acquiring.

What about building a near clone that is perfectly suited for a use case that isn't particularly well met by the other product?

drchiu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd say go for it.

Many of us who have learned the lesson of competing on pricing learn to do it differently the second time around.

Pricing is one of those things that's hard to understand as not to compete on if you're still new to understanding saas business models.

Until you've experienced some sort of success with a low priced saas, it's hard to see why everyone always say to price it more. Sort of like the matrix, nobody can tell you what it is. You have to see and experience it for yourself.

thefahim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes, this makes sense and is a great way to get started. Once you get your foot in the door, you can start introducing features to differentiate yourself and increase your price. Focus on marketing to price-sensitive customers and keeping them happy month over month.
mmccaff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Consider if you will be fulfilled by selling a commodity.

It's a race to the bottom and unprofitable users often demand the same level of attention and support as ones who pay more.

Also think about hidden costs. The other company might be priced as they are for a reason.

Is it a product where differentiating on price is something that would even matter to the user? The difference in price would be enough to choose you over the competition?

deftturtle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ultimately you will win on the relationship with people. Building trust, delivering service, being friendly, treating them as people and not customers, and doing your best is the right mindset. You can and perhaps should be more expensive in some industries, because you offer better relationships and service.
jfoster 1 day ago 0 replies      
If your thing is an actual viable replacement, why would you charge rock-bottom for it? You would be leaving money on the table.
rvivek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also, remember it will get harder for you & attract a strong team around you if the only mission is to create a cheaper clone. Startups are very tiring over the long run that a strong mission + team is likely the only thing that is going to push you forward.
problems 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a good bet. Many of those popular SaaS companies are run like absolute shit and don't even try to optimize their pricing.

If you can do it at a fraction of the overhead, I'd say go for it as long as you have a way out if it all goes to hell and you have a good idea of the upfront effort level.

sparrish 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would discourage it. Having rock-bottom pricing, you'll not be able to afford to market to the same customers as your higher priced competitors and it will take you a very long time to build your customer base.

If you have other differentiating factors, that changes the equation but all things being equal, lower price isn't enough.

empath75 1 day ago 0 replies      
At the low end, you aren't going to be competing with SaaS providers, you're going to be competing with people who just self host a similar solution that's either open source or they built themselves.

If you think you can knock out a cheap version with a few developers all of your potential customers are going to be thinking the same thing.

wand3r 1 day ago 0 replies      
If this is a pure-play quick money motive; then yes. Make something you care enough about to do a good job; compete on value not price. Then have an exit strategy/timeline: e.g. x amount to get to y traction or pull the plug. If you hit y traction then prep for a small sale on Flippa.
pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't go rock bottom because that signals to prospects that your product is lousy. I would price it below average so that price is not an objection but have at least 1 strong differentiator.
twic 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, and please clone hosted ELK, or some other log handling stack. The current options are crazy expensive.
nurettin 1 day ago 0 replies      
You are on the right traco, however, pricing is not the only aspect people consider when choosing a service. Features are the most important assets that you have. Try using their service and listening to their customers in order to get a feel of what is missing.
kapauldo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes but build the importer first.
kumarski 1 day ago 1 reply      
Only works if you're in a country outside the US.

Developers in the USA have really high salaries because of the INS moat. If you can crack that equation, then you could do a lot.

BrowserStack vs. Others. Sheer number of people you can task to a single problem.

ronreiter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Instead of looking for doing the same thing better and think that would get you customers, I would advise to start from the question "how do I get customers" first, and do that. That's really what you want.
manigandham 1 day ago 0 replies      
Price is rarely what matters, especially for any serious business.

We look at actual value, trust, brand recognition, integrations, quality, longevity, and more, that go beyond a simple price list.

juandazapata 1 day ago 0 replies      
My.02. If your selling point is "I'm cheaper than X", then it doesn't worth it IMO. Think about how you can deliver added value to the solution and maybe you can steal some customers.
drc37 1 day ago 0 replies      
A great book to read to read is the Innovator's Dilemma. It talks about a different industry (steel), but I think it could be applicable.
skdotdan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would try to find a niche within the market of this competitors, and unbundle the set of features that are relevant for this niche, making the product simpler and slightly cheaper.
pnw_hazor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Watch out for patents.

Funded Saas companies will have patents. Avoid triggering trouble by hiding how your service works and try not to copy the look and feel if possible.

fuhrysteve 1 day ago 0 replies      
Price is not a competitive differentiator. Didn't have to go to business school to learn that one!
maxwin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please. If you want to clone something, plz clone ERP like SAP S4/Hana . That will be a lot more useful and lucrative.
dba7dba 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was reading interview with founder of Ghost blog on indiehackers and he said something about pricing that was new to me. He said when he charged more for his product, quality of customers he got improved. Like less silly requests for help. Less demanding. Etc. Rock bottom price may just attract more rock bottom customers.
argimenes 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you have the technical skill - if you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk - then why not?
jamiesonbecker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Price is the least relevant variable.
cerved 1 day ago 1 reply      
Focus on the cost of the problem solved as opposed to the pricing of the solution.
z3t4 1 day ago 0 replies      
when competing in price make sure their product can be replaced by your product without friction. and thay your product is always an option.
Beltiras 1 day ago 0 replies      
Features over pricing to shake up incumbency.
rodolphoarruda 1 day ago 0 replies      
The less you pay, the less you care about it.
homero 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes competition and alternatives are critical
faragon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of course: do it.
stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Read Zero To One.
smilesnd 1 day ago 0 replies      
You need to do a ton of research to make this call. When you look at starting a business even if it is copying and pasting someone else you need to make sure their are certain elements in place for yours to also be successful.

Is the market big enough to support multiple players? If it has a market size of 1 billion dollars then all you need to do is to get roughly 1% to be successful. If the market size is only 1 million dollars then you might be fighting over a small amount of money, and their isn't enough space for any one to grow into a successful business.

Does that other SaaS have one large client that make it possible to stay a float? I have seen a ton of small companies exist just because they have one giant fish making it worth it. I also seen companies crumble because that giant fish decide to leave. If that is the case you might not be able to copy the success the other SaaS has.

Is the SaaS your trying to copy already running at rock-bottom pricing? You might be surprise how much certain things actually cost. Whatever you think it might actually cost to run a copy cat service it is a safe bet to double that amount. Copying someone else idea might give you short cuts, but you don't know everything they learn along the way to get where they are now.

Could you make a better product then the current SaaS? The only way you are going to attract customers to your product is to do it better. Like some of the other comments say having the lowest price also means having some of the worse customers. Their have been post here before about SaaS companies raising their price till the customers that complain the most finally left. If you are at the rock bottom then be prepare for the bottom feeders.

Pricing is a tricky subject that is less logical and more human nature. A human will typically pay more if he feels like he is getting more value peer penny. A human will over spend if it fulfills some strange idea, as making him look important, makes him feel good about him self, or because it easies his mind knowing it is properly done. Here some links about increasing the cost actually benefited them.


My advise build a better product or add more functionality, price it higher then the current SaaS, and make sure you listen to people but never let them control your hand.

Best of luck

frik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pricing page?

Essential $ - Standard $$ - Enterprise (contact us)

or just 14-day-trial and "contact us".

What's your stand on that? What makes more sense to launch a SaaS?

maxsavin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hacker News API page is broken
7 points by DungFu  11 hours ago   3 comments top 3
iamshekhargh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think it has auth, You can still use the API, you can hit https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/topstories.jsonto get the ids of all top stories and then hit em individually to get information about it.
gus_massa 11 hours ago 0 replies      
You can try sending an email to hn@ycombinator.com to get a reply sooner. Sometime this threads are unnoticed.
natejackdev 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you find the answer let me know, because i have been wondering for weeks now.
Ask HN: I need career advice to get out of tech
10 points by JoeCF  8 hours ago   4 comments top 4
akg_67 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As for BS, currying favor, stepping on others, disgusting politics, ... it will be everywhere, doesn't matter tech or any other field, doesn't matter for-profit or non-profit organization, doesn't matter paid or volunteer positions, doesn't matter whether you are employee or business owner....

IMO, trying to run away to something else where none of these "faults" may exist is fool's gold. Learn to play it or ignore it or live with it, that is the only way to keep your physical and mental well being.

fiiv 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I hear you, OP. At my job, I work on building marketing software for large insurance/utility/telecom companies with similar...shall we say disenfranchisement.

Firstly a word of warning - as the user akg_67 has said, there is no escape from the workplace politics. My girlfriend works in non-profits and currently works at one that is trying to clean up supply chains in manufacturing outsourcing countries. A commendable initiative, I think, but her workplace is still full of the same petty stupid games as anywhere else. Her previous one was about teaching girls skills and leadership, but you guessed it, there too she was part of the same crap you're trying to escape.

But if you can overlook that, and want to work for a worthy cause, you will need to network and meet other people who already work in this field. You will need to surround yourself with those people and get into that.

Here's what I would recommend for that, something I am doing myself. Join an org like ImpactHub (there are some in cities all around the world). It's a nice co-working space but also exists to foster sustainable enterprise and bring the community together of social entrepreneurs. They typically try to find connections when you join based on your interests.

Speaking of interests, figure out what you're actually passionate about and what you care about. If you really want to get out and do something worthwhile, then figure out what you consider worthwhile.

Is it the environment? Privacy? Education? Fighting corruption?

Whatever your cause, if you narrow down what you are passionate about perhaps it would be easier to find orgs or people that are like-minded and that share in those causes.

ivan_ah 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to feel like contributing to society, you could consider working with a non-profit like: https://learningequality.org/ or https://www.khanacademy.org/

I'm sure there is still office politics, but the altruistic mission generally keeps it down, as opposed to the pure-profit motive of corporations.

ydidntithnkftht 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Throwaway as well here...

Wow- this is a really close fit for me as well. My resume has started to look like I used it for target practice because I've been jumping around trying to find a better fit.

~12 years of programming here for various companies large and small.

I don't have any advice for you but I would love to work with you on something (not that I would expect that to happen).

Burnout and fatigue is real. Maybe someone else will respond with tips on how to make this more tolerable in the mean time?

My wife and I are thinking about having kids and I'm wondering if that will help me with the "legacy" desire (which is a VERY real thing for me.

Good luck in any case and I look forward to seeing the replies this gets...

Ask HN: Deadbeat Client Owes us 25k What are my options?
40 points by throwawayz  18 hours ago   41 comments top 16
EnderMB 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Alongside hiring a lawyer, a good debt collector can ensure that you get paid sooner rather than later.

Of course, it all depends on why the client isn't paying. If they're legitimately out of money then the likelihood that you won't get paid (or will only get a fraction of what you're owed) increases dramatically. I've been in a position where a client withheld funds when they could easily pay, and a debt collector had the money over to us within the day.

brudgers 16 hours ago 2 replies      
My random advice from the internet, is to make your decisions premised on never seeing the money.

1. The COO did not treat paying you as a priority.

2. The COO normalized non-payment by stating they had not been paid.

3. The company is not even offering pennies on the dollar.

4. The investor has pulled out.

Roughly, your options come down to luck.

1. Maybe the company gets money and decides to pay you and everyone else for work done instead of using the money to grow the company or pay themselves.

2. Maybe the company gets money and you and everyone else who they owe money can sue them and win and the money spent on attorneys turns out to be well spent.

3. Maybe the company files bankruptcy and you pay an attorney to represent you and their is a pile of money so large that even unsecured creditors get paid.

4. Maybe you hire an attorney and successfully litigate a claim and the company has no money.

5. The most likely situation is that the company goes bankruptcy and you never see money no matter what you do. It's the one to plan for.

6. Just move on and find paying work and consider requiring a retainer or other method of billing where non-payment does not hurt so badly.

Good luck.

mattbgates 11 hours ago 1 reply      
First and foremost: STOP ALL ACTIONS UNTIL PAYMENT IS RECEIVED. Make sure you document EVERYTHING and have a document of EVERYTHING. Emails. Chats. Get yourself an attorney who specializes in this. Or if you have ever watched any of the judge shows, you'll definitely see plenty of cases like this. The biggest mistakes people make of losing their case, well actually, I wrote up a list of things to do if you so choose to go the small claims court route: http://www.confessionsoftheprofessions.com/courtroom-televis...
dsacco 17 hours ago 1 reply      
1. Talk to an attorney. Good attorneys will usually be happy to have an initial consultation with you for no cost unless you decide to move forward.

2. The next time a member of the C-Suite in a VC-funded startup calls you to try and draw a false equivalence between them not getting paid and you not getting paid for sympathy points, call them out on it by reminding them 1) that they have equity for that risk, 2) that you don't, and 3) that you're insisting on restitution. Be forthright and assertive about the terms they agreed to in the contract (since you'd been at this, I assume you have contracts in place), but do not be the one to escalate the situation further.

3. Make sure you're communicating in writing everywhere (email is fine). For calls, send follow-up emails summarizing the calls while they're fresh in your memory. Take notes on the calls. Prefer written communication to calls where possible. Record calls if you're in a one-party state (based on another comment, you seem to be).

4. Don't be antagonistic and don't be passive aggressive. Especially don't do anything that makes you feel good emotionally but causes your client to become a more sympathetic party, and potentially sever some of their contractual obligations. For now, consider the remaining invoice balance a loss and be dispassionate about it.

5. Going forward, make sure your contracts have the following clauses, if they do not already: 1) all work is exclusively owned by you until the last invoice has been successfully deposited in your account; 2) invoice payments are required for your time according to the agreed fee schedule regardless of ultimate deliverable completion, while both are true: a) the deliverable is being developed in good faith, and b) neither party has yet provided a clear and explicit communication that the work must pause.

Point 5 is important. If you are working on the project and they do not tell you it needs to pause until mid-way through your next invoice cycle, they are contractually obligated to pay for the time they didn't intend to use but for which they did use and failed to notify you. Even more importantly, the work is not transferred to them until they pay you, which means they legally have nothing until their obligations are paid.

In the worst case scenario under this template, you will not recover your money. On the other hand, they won't have your intellectual property and they won't be able to sell it off to pay other creditors. You should realistically prepare for the possibility that you're never going to see the money your client owes you.

tehwebguy 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Look into filing a breach of contract suit yourself. in my opinion, threatening lawsuits is silly and the only stands to make you look bad but filing one shows that you're serious and puts you at the top of the payables list.

In some venues it's very easy to file cases like this.

RickS 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been through a lesser version. Ended up negotiating a payment plan that got me 4.5k on 7k, which, as these things go, is a huge win. The people saying you're lucky to get 20c on the dollar are dead on.

1) Do not assume that 3.5M is spent. Start inquiring pointedly, then aggressively, about exactly what remains. The odds are good that they're putting they payment of other bills above yours. Your job is to convince them that shorting you is going to hurt them more than shorting hubspot et al.

2) Explore your legal options with an emphasis on publicity. That COO isn't trying very hard. Their tune might change when it's spelled out for them that their mishandling of this situation will come up in the first page of results when their next potential employer googles them.

3) Let them know you're about to wardial every investor in the state. This person wants to raise money? Then it would behoove this person to pay you before you call every shop in town and let them know what's going down. (In reality, the wardialing strategy will do nothing, it's the fear factor that matters here)

4) Do not agree to any delay that isn't contractually backed. They need to pay you SOMETHING upfront, and if they want to talk about paying you later, that ink needs to be dry within 48 hours.

5) Call their landlord (after first warning them that you're about to call their landlord). Let them know that they're about to get run out on, and should start conversations now. (Again, it's not that the landlord is really going to act that fast, it's the gut wrenchingness of FEELING like your landlord is going to act that fast)

Basically, you're to treat this org as a hostile entity, and you are to make every waking moment for them as anxious as possible for as many people as possible. Call their spouse and let them know that the party's over. How much noise can you make, and how much pain can you convince them is headed their way?

If they owe you 25k, your job now is causing them 26+k of pain as acutely as possible. Go for the throat.

Remember, as long as the CEO hasn't sold their car and taken their kid out of private school, it's not that they "can't" pay you, it's that they "won't". There are always options.

And then, next time, for fucks sake, 50% upfront and a compounding non-payment clause. Can't buy food with good intentions.

techjuice 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Your best options is to get an attorney and take them to court to recover your losses. No need to wait, especially for such a large amount of money. Get all your evidence together now so you can take it to an attorney tomorrow morning. If they had intentions on paying you on time they would have set aside your costs so they can be paid on time. Any company that does not do so does not care about paying you on time or staying in agreement with any contracts or other obligations.
hullsean 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's good that communication channels are still open. That's very import.

o Whatever you may feel always be polite with reminders. Do not make them angry or make accusations. It sounds like they're already in a frustrating position.

o remember they have a legal obligation to meet payroll. Next on the list is lights on, heat & rent. After that hosting bill. And then below all of these are vendors. Hopefully you are at the top of the vendor list!

o if they run out of money you may not get paid. That's how it works!

o over the years I only had this happen once. It was $9k, but I subsequently got 2k of that. Still every month like clock work I send "a gentle reminder" of outstanding invoice for $7k. They still respond. So I know if that situation changes in the future I'll be first in line to get paid.

NicoJuicy 13 hours ago 0 replies      
2 years ago a seed round with 3,5 million dollars and you are doing the MVP. Where the hell went the other 3+ million?

I don't think you will get the money, the are red warnings every where. Only release the MVP ( not code) if he asks to, but stop development.

Good luck

cylinder 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Debt collection lawyer. Sometimes a demand letter is all it takes. Defending a clear cut debt in court is irrational and they'll likely settle or no show and you get a default judgment. Which state?
developer2 4 hours ago 1 reply      
You should not be asking HN for advice. I've actually flagged this post for your own good, as it is irresponsible for anyone to even attempt to advise you with specifics, and it would be a huge misstep for you to follow any advice posted here other than "talk to a lawyer, now".

You should have had a lawyer on consult from the beginning, reviewing the initial contract and its payment terms. If the client isn't paying, you need to be talking to your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer and an ironclad contract, the entire situation is a toss-up and there are no guarantees. You can't even refuse to deliver and walk away from this client without a lawyer's determination that you are not breaching contract by doing so. You believe you are the one being wronged. The courts may not agree, and the company could even turn around and sue you for taking their project hostage.

Only your lawyer, with knowledge of your state's laws, a copy of your contract, and an archive of all communications between you and your client, can help. Do not make a single decision based on HN comments, no matter how insightful they seem. If you follow the wrong advice, you could well see yourself in deep legal trouble with ramifications worse than losing the $25,000.

tldr; You should have had a lawyer at the start of this contract. If not, you must get one now. Get a lawyer. Now.

foobarbazetc 15 hours ago 0 replies      
You're likely never going to see that 25k and then you're down that plus lawyer fees.

How overdue is it? If we're talking 30 days then you need to wait a while longer before taking some action.

Threaten to report them to D&B, Experian/Equifax etc. Then if they still haven't paid by 60 or 90 days or whatever talk to a lawyer about the cheapest way to threaten them.

siegel 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Two questions that might help in framing a response:

1) are they already already using the code you developed?

2) if so, in what manner? Is it an in-house tool for them? A platform they are using to provide services? Some sort of code that's further distributed or sublicensed?


unstatusthequo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Attorney on contingency. Or report to credit agencies. or both.
stigo 7 hours ago 1 reply      
STOP! Spend your time and energy on clients that pay.
Tmp_login 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The only way you are getting paid is releasing the MVP asap. Make a new agreement with the COO with some sort of acceptable terms. Attorneys will just take your money $5k ( you likely do not have ) and give you false promises. Your chances of getting anything without the MVP being released is 0. You might even offer to host it yourself.
Ask HN: Hardcore CS jobs in LA?
10 points by boredappdev  15 hours ago   15 comments top 7
FullMtlAlcoholc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want work with a highly trafficked app, Snapchat has their HQ in LA. Last I checked, they're looking for firmware engineers with C experience and also obviously data engineers.
dmlachap 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Spacex, if you're into really hardcore CS jobs.http://www.spacex.com/careers/position/207861
amorphid 9 hours ago 0 replies      
https://indeed.com can be a great way to find stuff like this. For example, search "c++ storage engine" in/around Los Angeles, CA and you'll get a few hits. Tweak keywords as desired.
infamouscow 12 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a surprising number of game companies around LA. You'll get a little (or a lot) of all these things.
Eridrus 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Google has an office in LA and they do some systems level work there.
olivercreashe 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of porn companies needing CS people for their webdev and such.

Good luck!

Keeping algorithm skills fresh?
7 points by kappacoder  10 hours ago   1 comment top
cyorir 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who has tried the TripleByte programming questions, my recommendation is to take a look at HackerRank.

As I recall, the initial TripleByte test is divided into two segments: 1) a series of multiple-choice questions and 2) a couple coding challenges.

The actual coding challenges I got (in that 2nd segment) were not very different from the sorts of challenges you might find at HackerRank; in fact, one of the challenges I got involved the exact same task as a challenge I had solved for a HackerRank test!

I recommend going through HackerRank's algorithm problems, since those will be the most similar to the problems you'll encounter on the TripleByte test (or in any technical interview, really).

They also have a list of "coding interview" challenges that you can work through:


You might even consider taking HackerRank's sample test or applying through HackerRank Jobs as practice.

All of that would help with the second segment of TripleByte's test (writing code), but maybe isn't the best practice for the first segment (multiple choice questions testing code literacy and domain knowledge). I haven't found an appropriate way of preparing for that first segment yet.

Reason for Whatsapp outage?
15 points by ashitlerferad  1 day ago   2 comments top
ericzawo 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been wondering this too. My work monitors trending topics on social media and "whatsapp down" experienced a gigantic bump on Twitter Wednesday we're talking hundreds of thousands of people within minutes. Wish we got a better explanation.
Ask HN: Stories of startup persistence
19 points by exampledotcom  1 day ago   14 comments top 6
pedalpete 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can you give us some details of what your start-ups where? Where you think you may have gone wrong?

I'll give you my details:

1) ZiFiMusic - First start-up was a pandora type music service - taught myself to code, but never got traction and struggled to do a good job at music recommendation. I shut it down after about 6 months.

2) HearWhere - Took the code from the music service and turned it into a concert listing service. HearWhere was the largest database of concerts world-wide and had 25k visits per day (if I recall correctly). Our widget was embedded in Blender's homepage. Sadly, I was never able to make enough money through the affiliate links and I shut it down after 3 years.

3) NextWeeQ - an online staff scheduling system. I spoke to potential customers before building anything, got requirements and built a v1. Gave access to 5 of the companies I had spoken to. Only 1 used it, and stopped using it after a week. Following up, everybody asked for more features, but the site as it was did more than their excel spreadsheet (the existing technology) did, I provided a few of the requested features and continued to wait for usage. They never stared using, always asking for more features. I decided this wasn't a good business to be in.

4) Kitchon - ohhh...kitchon. An app that would sort out the messy timing of figuring out how to cook multiple recipes and have all the food done at the right time. The more I coded, the worse it got. Lots of interest, but I never found a business model, and never got a product into the market (aside from a few alpha tests)

5) Bucket52 - Challenge you to do one interesting/memorable thing every week. Built in one day (Dec 30th) and launched on new years. A nice bit of interest, good feedback and adoption. But, man it was hard for people to complete it! Most users gave up around mid-Feb, which is standard for New Years resolutions I guess. I shut it down at the end of the year.

Current - Doarama - lots of users, industry leading and just starting to monetize.

ChicagoDave 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Still waiting on the big success:

1. Texfyre - Attempt to replace 4th-8th grade textbooks with interactive stories with embedded testing. Was in talks with Gates Foundation, but they pushed towards big publishers instead of start-ups. Bootstrapped then closed in 2013 (6 years).

2. Wizely (current) - Social network of contextual wisdom. API 90% complete, working on security and iOS app. Bootstrapped. (4 years in development and with good reasons for taking my time)

mattbgates 1 day ago 1 reply      
As long as you keep having ideas, keep going. My advice to you: Design and develop it for yourself first and foremost. If it is useful to you, it will be useful to others.

If you design and develop for others, you will be much more disappointed. I usually design things based on my own needs and share them with the world. If no one is using it, I'm using it for myself, at least, so I'm my biggest fan.

I wouldn't say I've had too many failures, although I'm just getting started. However, I've done some testing the past few years and put out some free products out there and tweeted about them only. Then I waited and watched.

In 2015 I created a product called https://mypost.io which allows anyone to have a web page up on the Internet in seconds. It is a very simple blogging / web page creation platform that even lets people use HTML and CSS to design their pages. The test was: Will people find it useful and actually use it? I added OWA so I could see the location of where people were using it from and I've seen people as far as Russia using it.

This let me know at least I was on the right track to creating something useful. I'm sure if I had the funds to really market and advertise my products, I'd be able to push them much further, but the hope for now is that people share it if they find it useful.

While I wouldn't say that I'm monetarily successful at this moment, I did build a popular website, and was able to gain and use that traffic to drive attention towards things I'm doing.

Failure is what eventually leads to success. The reason it keeps getting better for you is because you are learning from your mistakes and constantly changing for the better. If you didn't do that, than I might be more concerned and might tell you its time to call it quits. But your perseverance, ambition, and desire for success is going to work out greatly in your favor when the time comes.

cl42 23 hours ago 0 replies      
What is your definition of "success"?

I have to say, if you've been able to fund your lifestyle in a sustainable way for 15 years, generate an income on your own, etc then you are doing pretty well.

Of course, if your goal is to make a billion dollars then you're not succeeding yet.

Ray Kroc strikes me as a good example of someone who failed many times before finding an opportunity at 50+ years of age and scaling it to become immensely wealthy.

Anyway, curious to hear how you're defining success and happy to share more thoughts!

Mz 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey:


Our founder, Milton Hershey believed in making happiness accessible to all. That belief, along with tremendous passion, perseverance, and vision, helped him grow the Hershey Company, so that millions could enjoy his delicious chocolates.

My recollection is that he tried multiple sweets related businesses before he got something that worked.

According to Wikipedia:

Early years[edit]

After an apprenticeship to a confectioner in 1873, Milton S. Hershey founded a candy shop in Philadelphia. This candy shop was only open for six years, after which Hershey apprenticed with another confectioner in Denver, where he learned to make caramel.[7] After another failed business attempt in New York, Hershey returned to Pennsylvania, where in 1886 he founded the Lancaster Caramel Company. The use of fresh milk in caramels proved successful,[8] and in 1900, after seeing chocolate-making machines for the first time at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Hershey sold his caramel company for $1,000,000[8] (equal to $28,788,000 today), and began to concentrate on chocolate manufacturing, stating to people who questioned him, "Caramels are just a fad, but chocolate is a permanent thing."

In 1896, Milton built a milk-processing plant so he could create and refine a recipe for milk chocolate candies. In 1899, he developed the Hershey process which is less sensitive to milk quality than traditional methods, and in 1900, he began manufacturing Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars, also called Hershey's Bars or Hershey Bars.

I also found JR Simplot's biography inspiring. He quit school at age 14 and hunted wild horses to feed piglets that he got from farmers who were going to kill them rather than feed them because of a glut on the market. He then sold dehydrated onions. He later went into making French fries and became a supplier for McDonald's.



You might also enjoy reading up on the founder of KFC:


jbpetersen 1 day ago 1 reply      
What were each of them in a nutshell?
Ask HN: Looking for the best Phoenix/Elixir/Erlang Tutorials
85 points by patientplatypus  1 day ago   26 comments top 16
juhatl 1 day ago 1 reply      
The series of articles "Writing a Blog Engine in Phoenix and Elixir" [1] can be quite fast-paced at times, but in the end (and far before that, too) you'll have a blog platform that you can use and you'll understand how some of the different Phoenix & Elixir pieces fit together.

For a more thorough experience, however, I would absolutely recommend you to have a look at the books the Elixir community has produced. As you're specifically asking for tutorials (and not other sources for learning), my best recommendation would be Programming Phoenix [2], a book written by the creators of Elixir and Phoenix.

The book is structured so that most of it is focused on building one specific web application, so you can follow along from start to finish and build something far more interesting than just a run-of-the-mill blog (and learn a lot about Elixir and Phoenix in the progress).

[1] https://hackernoon.com/introduction-fe138ac6079d[2] https://pragprog.com/book/phoenix/programming-phoenix

ch4s3 1 day ago 0 replies      
Elixir School is an excellent start[1] How I Start with Jose Valim is good[2]. And you should come to our form[3].




msie 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm currently enjoying this Udemy course: https://www.udemy.com/the-complete-elixir-and-phoenix-bootca... (most of the time you can get it at a huge discount: $10US)

I have the Phoenix PragProg book but I found the tutorial more informative for beginners.

corysama 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should ask https://www.reddit.com/r/elixir/ It's a quiet but nice subbreddit.
kalu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Plataformatec puts out a newsletter called the elixir radar. Check it out here:


di4na 1 day ago 0 replies      

This course is free, recent and take you from beginning to the end.

udayj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is a compiled list of resources for erlang: https://www.tutorack.com/search?subject=erlang and for elixir: https://www.tutorack.com/search?subject=elixir .

Disclaimer - I work at the above service

Can_Not 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't a tutorial, it's a starter kit, and I'd like to see it grow and help people with elixir/phoenix:


hoov 1 day ago 1 reply      
> I am just starting out in web development and am looking for any tutorials on Phoenix/Elixir/Erlang.

While I like Elixir a lot, I'm not sure that it's the best place to start. I'd find an ecosystem that is more stable and has more reliable resources available. Try starting with Rails or Django, maybe.

jodyalbritton 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a good resource on github (Awesome Elixir), here is the link to the tutorials/books section


falava 1 day ago 0 replies      
This video course is just released, with early access pricing:


bananaoomarang 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would echo other comments suggesting you start by learning Rails, but if you really want to learn Elixir/Phoenix first I would probably start by playing with Elixir, since Phoenix obscures a lot of things (similar to Ruby/Rails).

Here's a video which sweeps through some basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBNOavRoNL0

jaequery 1 day ago 1 reply      
im also interested in picking up elixir/phoenix but lately crystal lang have got me even more intrigued.

what sold me was the fact crystal was compatible with most ruby gems.

curious to hear, what do you guys think of crystal?

sotojuan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Go learn Rails or JavaScript first. Lots more resources, examples, and people to code with. Also, learning two languages, a web framework that is different from most, and OTP is a bit too much.
Ask HN: Is there any site outlining the key security concerns for web apps?
13 points by eelliott  1 day ago   6 comments top 3
detaro 1 day ago 1 reply      
sharmi 19 hours ago 0 replies      
A practical security guide for web developers | Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12140477 DevGuide/02-Policies, Standards and Guidelines.md at master OWASP/DevGuide https://github.com/OWASP/DevGuide/blob/master/01-Foundations... Security Engineering - A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/book.html Wiley: The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws, 2nd Edition - Dafydd Stuttard, Marcus Pinto http://as.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118026470... LastPass Security Notice | Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9721212 LastPass Security Notice | The LastPass Blog https://blog.lastpass.com/2015/06/lastpass-security-notice.h... Linux workstation security checklist | Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10134009 KeePass questionable security | Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9727297 SJCL Stanford JavaScript Crypto Library | Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13820722 System design primer https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13823979 wordpress stripe plugins. how secure are they? The Netflix Tech Blog: Netflix Security Monkey on Google Cloud Platform http://techblog.netflix.com/2017/03/netflix-security-monkey-... Quick Start Guide security_monkey 0.6.0 documentation https://securitymonkey.readthedocs.io/en/latest/quickstart.h...https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13862253 Try to get CS 161 University of Berkerly - Highly recommended esp Prof Wagnor or Prof Weaver http://www-inst.cs.berkeley.edu/~cs161/sp16/ Laptop security https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13854625https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/jessy-irwin-on-making-security...

I am sick today. So I couldn't sort the links or format them. Hope it helps you.

Ask HN: Speed of thought vs. speed of speech?
4 points by arikr  18 hours ago   4 comments top 4
tabeth 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's pretty trivial to prove that thinking is faster than speaking -- just read a 200+ word article out loud vs. "in your head" and the difference is clear. The gap in speed will become larger as the overhead behind speaking grows.

The real question is: does it matter? All around me I see people interrupting each other and failing to comprehend what each other is really trying to say due to impatience. Neuralink is interesting, but would probably exacerbate that particular problem.

Artlav 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Thinking is quite a bit faster. I have caught myself altering phrases mid-pronouncing because i was thinking more about it while talking and thought of a better thing to say. In practice that tend to produce garbled words.

You can probably notice similar things yourself if you pay attention, and that's the closest to evidence we can get at the moment due to lack of telepathy or equivalent technology to actually measure these things reliably.

As far as Neuralink goes, assuming it won't be made in the stupidest way possible (reading commands spoken by imaginary voice inside your head), it could be quite a bit faster than hands or speech.

kleer001 15 hours ago 0 replies      
We think in images and sound and taste and smell with emotion and memory. We speak with linear language, inflection, and timing. Obviously thought has a higher bandwidth.

If you're asking for scientific evidence I can assure you there is none. It's like asking if a bread box is bigger than an elephant. No, it's not.

But then again people ask some interesting questions.

olivercreashe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, yes there is.
Ask HN: Is it a waste of time to teach yourself data science without a degree?
175 points by thewarrior  3 days ago   136 comments top 49
itamarst 2 days ago 3 replies      
(copied from answer to another similar question.)

Companies are looking for what you as a candidate can do for them.

Self-study or taking a class signals some level of "I tried to learn this thing." So that's a start.

Even better is "I built X", where X is obviously based on skill you learned. In which case you can omit the class because you have proof of learning, not just trying to learn.

Even better is "I provided business value V to my employer by building X." Because now you're showing how this skill is useful to someone else. So using skill at work is another thing to try.

Ideal is you write the above, but emphasize V (or choose between multiple things you can list) in a way that suggests you can help the needs of the particular company you're applying to.

So there's having the skill (which is good), but there's also how you present it to show it will provide value (also important).

More on the contrast between having engineering skills and marketing yourself here: https://codewithoutrules.com/2017/01/19/specialist-vs-genera...

endymi0n 2 days ago 1 reply      
Don't have a degree myself and about a third of the people I hire also don't have one. Why? Because I don't give anything about them.

I'd say if you don't want to work for a large, respected company first, it's a waste of time. Your degree is your entry ticket to your first job, not more. Later on, you can even work at Google if you want - just make a great product and get acquihired.

Three tips on what you should do instead:

1) BUILD something and show off your skills. Like, continuously. Always have your own challenges, do something about them, put your code online on Github. Host it so it can be seen and played with. Work towards a goal and learn what you need to learn on the side.

2) Focus on applying to companies not listing a degree in their job ad. You'll see there are quite a lot of them.

3) Don't focus on your lack of a degree in any interviews. Don't deny it, but just don't make it seem a deal. Often times, people won't even ask.

imh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have this same non-background and work on the proverbial team of mostly PhD's. Short answer is yes, you can do it. Long answer is that you have to be really, really good to compensate, and getting to that point is absolutely exhausting. It's not about just going through a couple ML courses on coursera. You need to understand statistics, CS, and ML at a really deep level, and that means being good at applied math too. I was lucky to come out of physics and have a solid applied math background anyways, giving me a few years head start on that self study.

If you need structure to go through a few years of coursework on your own, you should go for the degree. If you just want to learn how to put pieces together and not learn how/why they work under the hood, you should opt for something else.

As with most questions about going nontraditional routes, you have to be really good to compensate, and getting really good is constant exhausting work.

quadrature 2 days ago 3 replies      
A good programmer with even just a high level overview of ML and Stats concepts would be an incredibly valuable asset to a data science team. Most ML people are academics who tend to not have good software engineering skills, finding people who master both domains is really hard.

Also to add to that most of the work in ML is feature engineering, data cleaning, testing and building pipelines which all require a good software engineering background.

jorgemf 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can get a job with a portfolio in data science. Just go to kaggle and beat everybody in all competitions. That is worth more than a degree. Companies will try to reach you if you can do it.

But, honestly, I think it is very difficult to learn data science by yourself. Someone with experience teaching you will make a huge difference. Data science is different than programming as in programming you can see step by step what is happening, in data science most of times it either works or doesn't. And you know it after your algorithm has run through all data for at least an hour. It is really hard to learn this way, you need hints that only someone with experience can provide to you. Moreover you can do a lot of mistakes without knowing it, for example, when cleaning the dataset people use the whole dataset to fill gaps and them split it for training and test. It feels right but that it is a huge mistake that invalidates the whole experiment (because you use information from the test set in the train set, to fill the gaps).

NumberCruncher 3 days ago 5 replies      
It depends on how you define "data science".

If you are like AWS and say that using logistic regression is machine learning, then yes, you can teach yourself data science. Learn SQL, read a couple of books on logistic regression, use some open data for building a couple of models. There are many companies where you can have a decent job and an easy living with SQL and logistic regression on your tool belt.

If you say that data science starts with automating stock trading or building the intelligence of self driving cars, than no, you can not teach yourself data science. You will need at least one degree. Or more.

ChemicalWarfare 2 days ago 0 replies      
>> in the real world you won't be allowed anywhere near such a position without having a degree ...

yes, most likely they won't hire you for a "Data Scientist" position, but there are related jobs out there you can be qualified for if you have programming skills and understand DS stuff to some degree.

I've seen setups where a PhD with a "scientist" in his title would act as an architect/co-team lead with a senior engineer running a team of developers.

Someone has to implement DS' ideas after all and unless we're talking a really small team (or a jack of all trades DS) where DS has to write all the code himself - there is a need for developers with "some DS background" in those situations.

dagw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Non of the data scientists I know actually have a degree in data science. They tend to come from either a physics, math or statistic background and have picked up the data science bits of the side.

Also many jobs that aren't data science jobs per se offer many opportunities to do data science type things. Get a job at a company that works with a type of data you find interesting, and that perhaps doesn't have a dedicated in house data scientist, and every time an interesting data related challenge shows up just go "I have a good idea on how we can approach this" (assuming you actually do). Next thing you know people will coming to you with their data science problems and before you know it you have several years of data science experience on your CV.

nilkn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think it's a waste of time. Even if you can't straight-up get a pure data science job, you can still benefit from having this background:

(1) You could focus on building data processing platforms using, e.g., Spark. This will get you very close to the data science folks and you could probably end up doing some interdisciplinary work if you wanted it and demonstrated enough interest and competence. At the very least, people who can build highly scalable data processing systems and who also have a reasonable understanding of how the data is being used are very valuable.

(2) There are lots of companies out there that don't engage in data science/machine learning at all. You could join such a company and represent the push towards developing a data science or ML division or team. If you're successful this could also get you major credit as a manager as well as putting you very close to real-world data scientists and ML projects.

jey 2 days ago 0 replies      
> it seems that in the real world you won't be allowed anywhere near such a position without having a degree in the subject.

I don't have a degree but work as a data scientist at a research institution. I'm self-taught and was originally hired as a software engineer on the basis of my projects and work experience.

It's true that you have to convincingly make the case for your competence, but a bachelor's degree is really at best a certificate of minimal competency in a subject. Its signalling[1] value quickly gets swamped out by actual work experience where you're continually learning and improving. So there's a great hack: just do actual good work and put it on your resume. Your portfolio of work should convey your competence so well that having a degree wouldn't really add anything. (So you can skip the degree, but you'll still have to put in the work.)

Remember that any healthy organization wants to hire for competence at job duties. If some company rejects you for not having a degree because the hiring manager has to cover their ass to upper management instead of optimizing for getting work done, you should really just be glad that you dodged a bullet.

I think what's most important is to keep growing and learning. Pg had it right: "If you're worried that your current job is rotting your brain, it probably is"[2].

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_(economics)

2. http://www.paulgraham.com/gh.html

randcraw 2 days ago 0 replies      
To hit a target, first you have to see it clearly. The term "Data Science" covers a broad collection of jobs, from statistician to machine learning/pattern recognition/AI expert to DBA to business analyst to visualization/animation expert to cloud/cluster/Hadoop expert to general data wrangler.

The skills required for each DS role vary a lot. I wouldn't expect a cloud expert to have learned about the Hadoop stack or HPC workflows in school, at least not to a useful degree. The same goes for DBA or business analyst or data wrangler.

But statistics and ML lie at the other end of the spectrum. These roles require a hierarchy of formal skills that are rarely mastered outside of college. They're expected to keep up with the research literature or formal techniques, which almost always requires the math skills of an engineer or mathematician.

Remember, HR everywhere is technically clueless. If management doesn't tell them the precise set of skills needed for the job, they'll minimize risk and ask for more expertise and experience than is needed -- usually in the form of excess degrees or prestige or buzzwords. The best cure for this is to bypass HR and go straight to a technical manager who knows what s/he wants. That's hardest at large corporations, who tend to outsource their HR needs to the lowest bidder.

At a smaller company, a lack of degree will matter less. If you can convince them you know what they need RIGHT NOW and can learn future material quickly, that's what they want to hear. (That's probably what the bosses of the startup did).

Or if you're targeting a specific project, then if you can show (e.g. via Kaggle or an online portfolio) that you clearly have the needed skills and you're not just a script kiddie, that speaks a lot louder than a mere degree (especially if it's over a decade old).

zengid 2 days ago 0 replies      
As Mike Acton (Data Oriented Design Guru) once said in an interview "I don't care what you learned in school.. I care about what you learned of your own volition" [paraphrased from 1].

It never hurts to learn new things. Another HN poster suggested this channel for beefing up on linear algebra, and I absolutely love it [2].

[1] https://youtu.be/qWJpI2adCcs?t=58m

[2] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlXfTHzgMRUKXD88IdzS1...

daliwali 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hold a degree in mathematics. Small-minded HR drones have told me I'm not qualified to do programming since I'm not formally trained in computer science. I have been doing this since I was a kid.

Don't listen to them. Every professional will at some point in their career be judged by those less capable.

muninn_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
It depends on what else you're doing. If you're a Scala dev and regularly work with something like Spark and Hadoop you could probably find an entry level data science job at a non-FB/Google company because your programming and framework experience are much needed. But if you're just a Java dev and you're taking an Udemy nanodegree or something you would have to know somebody or get very lucky.

It's possible to maybe help another team and sequel that into a data science job internally, but outside, forget it.

jtcond13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Writing a full reply since I don't agree with much of the advice given.

I've worked around/in data science teams at a large BigCo and I think that you're far overestimating the bar here. There aren't enough people to who can write data pipeline code (SQL/Shell/etc.), much less implement and intelligently explain statistical/ML models. Also, the average decision maker here does not understand the difference between 'created model in Pandas' and 'created model with Amazon's ML API'.

The modal background of data scientists in industry is closer to 'Econ BA + knows Python' than 'Artificial Intelligence PhD'. Moreover, the former will still enjoy a remunerative career if (s)he's sufficiently savvy about identifying problems and showing off how they can be solved with technology.

There may be a point in time when companies can't get a return by throwing math-savvy programmers at a problem, but that will be long after you and I have passed from the scene.

EternalData 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of employers still use degrees as a rough proxy for ability and dedication. This may be especially prevalent in data science since the field itself tends to have a lot of Masters/PhDs occupying the field -- which will tend to bias the hiring process towards viewing degrees as a strong positive signal.

With that said, a lot of companies hiring for data science roles fall into the category of software startups -- larger companies like Google or Facebook are looking for specialists who tend to hold degrees. But at smaller companies, you can be more of a generalist and there, the old mantra of "show me what you've built" often applies. You could build out a data science career if you found just the right company.

By no means is it easy, but I wouldn't say it's a waste of your time (unless you have some incredible opportunity cost you're using up).

If you were to go about doing it, I found this blog post that can help you with your plan of attack: https://www.springboard.com/blog/learn-data-science-without-...

dpflan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have experience with this scenario and actually completed Udacity nanodegrees for Machine Learning or Data Science or AI?

Their programs express job placement as a perk of graduation.


Educating for the "jobs of the future" is one of Udacity's goals, data scientist being one of those jobs.

theonemind 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, imagine yourself on the interviewer side of the table. If you have a candidate who genuinely knows more than you, will you honestly turn them away for lack of a degree?

Obviously, you'll have problems getting past HR/filtering processes, and knowing more than whoever interviews you is a high bar.

eljefe6a 2 days ago 0 replies      
I teach data engineering and data science. I've taught at hundreds of companies. Yes, there are self-taught people doing data science in the real world. They're few and far between, but they are out there.

If you're coming from a programming background, I'd suggest becoming a Data Engineer with the goal of becoming a Data Scientist. I've had several students do that. They were general programmers who learned Big Data/data engineering and eventually became more technical Data Scientists. You can start to learn more about the whys here: http://www.jesse-anderson.com/2017/03/what-happens-when-you-....

inputcoffee 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can't answer the question directly, but I will say this: machine learning is a lot of applied math.

Suppose you are setting up a convolutional network to recognize some special object for a company. You will need to understand that math to know what parameters to tweak.

Is it the learning rate? Is it the way you randomized the weights? Is it the activation function?

Although, in fairness, I don't think even a PhD level candidate works out what the reason is likely to be. More than likely they have a few heuristics in their head (oh, it stops learning too soon, let's just drop the learning rate. Oh, it never converges? that activation function can't propagate error and so on).

The point is that you have to know the theory to be useful. It hasn't been worked out. It is very much a living science project. That's the fun of it though.

wellwell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some actual data: in 2012, 70% of employed data scientists had a Master's degree or more


So no, not futile.

Eridrus 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's possible, but definitely challenging. I did exactly this last year and got several offers, including prestigious companies, but I didn't have my pick of jobs as I did before and had to make some trade offs to be doing what I wanted, but it's definitely possible if you're a talented dev.
brownesauce 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would suggest joining an early stage start up and getting involved with anything remotely to do with data science at every opportunity. I joined a small company as an analyst with no programming experience and minimal statistical knowledge. I was a graduate but not in a relevant subject and just taught myself the relevant skills on the side. It was a lot of work but not a waste of time. The programming side of the job can be learnt fairly quickly but the maths and stats side takes longer. I don't think you can really succeed in data science without both. Saying that, you certainly don't have to have a degree to be able to use that knowledge. I did just do a statistics degree though, and it has made the job a lot more pleasurable.
intellectronica 2 days ago 0 replies      
My experience has been that when it comes to the job market _knowing_ stuff is extremely valuable, but _having learnt_ stuff isn't very valuable, unless you have an excellent degree from a top tier university. What this implies is that you should select online study options based on how they contribute to your actual knowledge, rather than how they will appear to employers (in most cases, they will appear like nothing). Once you know enough, build a portfolio of projects to show what you know and look for a job based on that - if you really know how to get stuff done in the field you'll have many options to choose from.
framebit 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a sidenote to your question, you may want to consider Data Engineering. It's not a sexy as ML, but it pays well and it's in high demand because somebody has to pipe all that data around so that the ML folks can do their thing. IMO it's much easier to go from a more traditional software development role into Data Engineering than into something as math-and-theory-heavy as ML because Data Engineering is based in how computers work and some knowledge of algorithmic scaling, not in heavy linear algebra/stats like ML.
wdroz 3 days ago 1 reply      
You can do a "regular" programming job and seeking business cases at your company where data science could help.

After, meet your boss and tell him something like "I can make this process 10-20% faster with a 3 month projects"

If he accept, you will have data science real world experience in your CV and it will increase your weight on the CV stack when you apply for data science jobs.

traviswingo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Teaching yourself anything is definitely not a waste of time.

Don't get so caught up in the "degree."

I've met individuals with graduate degrees in computer science (i know OP asked for data science, but the overall point here applies to any field) that didn't hold a candle to self taught developers. If you're actually passionate and interested about something, you will become extremely well-versed in it. On the other hand, if you're not excited about data science, a degree with probably benefit you more than without one since it will force you to learn the topic.

In a nutshell, it's up to you to make yourself valuable and present that value to the world - a degree is just a shortcut for recruiters to filter on, but you can skip recruiters and talk to anyone in any company.

venture_lol 2 days ago 0 replies      
With data science, do you mean data science as in learning the tools, the software behind data science? That's like learning any technologies or tools.

Along this line, you would just be a "tech", not a "scientist" That's not to say you won't be real well compensated.

Data Science as in you are someone able to make sense of the myriads of conflicting data, derive pattern, synthesize bits and bytes into action plans, there is no degree in that :)

As an example on this line of thought, people may win the Nobel prize in Economics even though they may have no idea on how to use Excel :)

iamacynic 2 days ago 1 reply      
i fell into an ML consulting gig that was very lucrative once.

something to ponder: you just have to know enough to actually deliver on something management wants, and know more about it than everyone else at the company.

xchip 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lets try! For example this the math behind a 2x2 neural network:


It is computing the derivatives of the error with respect to the weights.

If you feel comfortable reading that then you are good to go.

thekthuser 2 days ago 0 replies      
Most data scientists dont have formal data science training. Most of the ones that go through our free fellowship (https://www.thedataincubator.com/fellowship.html - warning, I work at TDI) have STEM backgrounds and still land data science jobs at places like LinkedIn, EBay, Amazon, Capital One, Facebook, etc
iaw 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's harder but still feasible to obtain a job in data science, after the first job things will roll a lot quicker.

What a self-taught DS would need to do in order for me to feel comfortable hiring them is have a public body of work that I find impressive.

There are a huge number of publicly available datasets packed full of interesting information. Someone that shows they can do the work with a few findings on their github would be equivalent to a degree on a resume.

tmaly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think if you really want to get into the field, self study can be great. Yes you could learn some of the frameworks and libraries out there, but I think you will miss the bigger picture if you do not grasp the fundamentals.

Even brushing up on probability and linear algebra has benefits. Your learning a skill set that you can use in other areas of life. Heck, if you have kids or will have kids someday, you will have the knowledge to teach them valuable skills.

j7ake 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just think about how much better you need to be than someone with actual credentials (e.g. PhD in machine learning and real presentable experience) and then assess whether you are good enough to compete with them.

If you don't know how good you are relative to the competition with PhDs, then it would be worth it to have a discussion with people who have a taste for the field.

dansman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Break dow the word "data science" into non bull shit terms, actionable items, and you will see how achievable it actually is.
rvivek 2 days ago 0 replies      
What I've seen is that more and more companies just care about skills rather than degree. Self-teaching requires a lot of tenacity and most hiring managers would love this soft skill as well. Skills-based hiring is the future. If you can build real-world projects and demonstrate your skills, you should have a good shot.
usgroup 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not a waste of time but you'll need to be entrepreneurial to get a job without a higher degrees at the moment . In a few years time you'll be able to nail a job in DS simply because it'll likely be more pervasive in every day SaaS products and it'll become yet another thing you do as a dev that isn't strictly part of your job title.
DrNuke 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bum on a seat using the Python free tools as a blackbox and the internet as a reference then? In most business cases it would work just fine but employers want to buy the most they can in advance, that's why degrees as a filter. Your best shot is showing up with one or more interesting, unheard case studies to gain attention.
Pandabob 2 days ago 3 replies      
On a related topic, I'm graduating with a master's in (computational) physics, and am already incredibly insecure about not having a PhD as many of the data science positions seem to prefer those.

Would a four year PhD, let's say in ML, be a worthwhile investment from a data science career point of view?

michaelalexis 2 days ago 0 replies      
anecdotal, but Jesse Anderson is a world class big data expert, former Cloudera, etc. and my understanding is he is entirely self taught: http://www.jesse-anderson.com/
Mz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect it depends in part on where you want to apply. Generally speaking, large corporations and government entities tend to want formal credentials, like degrees. This may be less true of smaller or newer operations.
Bedon292 2 days ago 1 reply      
To tag on to this question a little bit. If someone wanted to teach themselves, even without the purpose of getting a job. What books / references would be recommended?

I saw a mention to David Barber's book in one of the threads here, but what else?

dpflan 2 days ago 0 replies      
How do you plan to study? Have you created your own curriculum or will you be following one you've found?

Like this Open Source Data Science Masters: http://datasciencemasters.org/

orasis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Machine learning is the new electricity. There will be tons of positions available.
badjasper 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have been working software and IT engineering for almost 35 years. I'm self taught and, never took a college course until about 5 years ago. I have not been out of work for many years now and, the reason for that is the fact that most companies desire people who can hit the ground running. College degrees and books are fine for getting the basics but, what you learn in college is FAR different than what is in the real world. Companies want people who have been in the trenches and learned with "Trial by fire".

If you want to get a start as a self educated person in IT then, learn what you can on your own and then reach out to contracting firms. Get a few entry level contract gigs under your belt in order to pad your resume with some experience and then move up the ladder.

darkxanthos 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a lead data scientist and I don't have a degree. I do have programming/technical chops though which helped a ton.
ElijahLynn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing is a waste of time so long as you learn from it.
rezashirazian 2 days ago 0 replies      
Learning something you like is never a waste of time.
qubex 3 days ago 3 replies      
You seem to assume that the only use for knowledge is garnering employment: this is patently false, as you could easily learn something and apply it for your own pleasure in the non-professional domain.

P.S. It's called statistics.

Ask HN: What was Python 1 like?
14 points by kensai  1 day ago   7 comments top 4
tjalfi 1 day ago 2 replies      
https://www.python.org/download/releases/early/ has a tarball of Python 0.9.1. Andrew Dalke got it to compile on OS X and documented his changes in README.reconstructed.

The following is an excerpt from README.reconstructed.

Some quick differences from modern Python I found whenusing the resulting binary:

 - classes must have the (), as in class Spam(): pass - There is no '__init__' function for instances. The classes in the library by convention use 'Create()' and that must be explicitly called. - The library code does not consistently use 'self'. - Only single quote strings 'like this' are allowed. "Double quoted" strings are not allowed.
Edited to add some details from README.reconstructed and credit the porter.

zubat 1 day ago 0 replies      
It barely registered for me at the time that Python had changed. But using it back then, it felt quite a bit similar between late 1.x and early 2.x, just with creature comforts gradually appearing and bulking up the language:

No decorators

Old-style classes(a distinction that makes almost no difference if you are using the class as a simple container with no inherited methods).

List comprehensions appeared in 2.0 and I struggled to grasp them for a little while.

The runtime might not have supported any cyclical reference collection(or I was just unaware at that point, being a student).

No iterators (2.1) or generators (2.2)

Python 1 to 2 was a simple transition, as it didn't do much to reassess the language's basics.

euccastro 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember no big changes, nor any breaking changes, from Python 1.5.2 to Python 2. The major version bump was mostly a marketing move. At that time, a 1.x.y version number didn't look mature enough for some companies.
Ask HN: How many are 30+ years and still active programmers?
32 points by bootcat  3 hours ago   51 comments top 40
mcv 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The myth that after 30 your career as a programmer is over, is really stupid and utterly false. In my experience, it only really started after 30. I'm 43 now and doing better than ever.

Experience counts for a lot.

I don't contribute a whole lot to open source projects (there's the occasional fix for an issue I run into), but that too has nothing to do with age.

It is true that in university, open source is a great way to get involved in something big and build up experience, and you've got a lot more time for it than when you get a life with kids, but plenty of big name open source developers are well over 30. It works best when you can work on it as part of your job.

RickJWagner 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
I mis-read the question. I thought you were asking who has been programming for 30 years, not who was older than 30.

I'm 52 and have been at it professionally for 27 years. I still think it's the best job for me.

Advice to those without that many years: The temptation to go into management will periodically arise. Advice I got once: "In management, they nip at you from the top and they nip at you from the bottom." Meaning that in programming, you only have to please those above you on the ladder. When you're in management, you have to please those above you AND those below you.

buserror 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Over 45 and still program for work, for fun, and for profit!

Started at 12yo too... I've written a lot of code, and will continue to add to the pile until they pry my keyboard from my dead, cold fingers!

gtirloni 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The fact that this is a relevant question in our industry scares me (I have similar concerns, not criticizing OP).
rsto 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm 38, work as a contractor and my long-term client pays 100% of my time to work on their open-source tech stack. All my contributions are public on Github, starting from early prototyping.

When I work on personal projects, I contribute to open-source when I find something to fix in the libraries I am using. But that's just a side effect, not a decision to do extra open-source work in my free time.

kelnos 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm just shy of 36, and have definitely found that my taste for non-work programming has dropped sharply in the past decade. The last time I would consider myself an active OSS contributor was when I was 28 (Xfce core maintainer for the 5 years prior).

I'm not really sure what changed. I'm unmarried (though not single), and have no kids, so family is not a consideration for me when it comes to allocating my time. While I certainly have several non-programming hobbies that take up my time, I wouldn't say I have enough such that they'd prohibit OSS contributions.

Perhaps at this point I just treat programming as a professional skill, something that I want to be paid for, and while I certainly make use of a ton of OSS, I feel I "paid that back" in my 20s much more than most OSS users ever do? Possibly.

> How to you manage personal life, work and contributions ?

I don't think this question is any different than a general time management question. Everyone has various priorities in their life, and the level of priority determines how much time you'll devote. If you're a professional programmer with a family and a social life, and believe making OSS contributions is higher on your priority list than doing other things, then you just end up making time for OSS contributions. Having family members who support you helps a lot (since I'd imagine in most cases they won't be directly involved in it).

I think a big component of regret is just wanting to do more things than we physically have time to do. So we prioritize, and some things get dropped. We feel bad about the things that get dropped, because that's human nature, but that's just something we have to learn to be ok with.

iampoul 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Might just be me, but thats a pretty odd question, do you expect programmers to retire after 30 ?
mdomans 1 hour ago 1 reply      
31, professionally since being 20. I think many people mistake that programming is a young man's job. Yet I found out that over time, as I aged, married and had a child - I got better in my work.

Many argue that programming is an art, while I'd say that begin professional is 99% of the job. And usually you get better with being professional with age. You tend to consider more factors, you start to understand the value of homework and managing work-life balance.

In my opinion getting older only grows your experience and in many cases grows you as a better person. Therefore, there really is use for old people in this business :)

efoto 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I program for 33 years, do it five days a week and love it. There are so many areas and if you change one every five or so years it's not boring at all. I'm 56 if you're curious.
hellified 2 hours ago 1 reply      
46, still in the game, though I admit the design portion holds much more fascination for me these days. To the OPs point, I do experience a great deal of pressure to head towards management every time I switch jobs. My rational is that when I get to the point where I can't absorb the minutiae, but can still see the big picture, maybe it's time for me to push the keyboard away and manage. Haven't gotten there yet (that I know of).
vkazanov 1 hour ago 1 reply      

It's my 12s anniversary as a professional programmer. Did work on all kinds of projects: a hugely popular online game, a search engine, all kinds of smaller projects. Love programming more than ever.

Couple of noticeable age-related factors:

1. As a proud father I have to be very careful when planning my spare time. For example, I mostly do hobby projects early in the morning now.

2. Got my first serious RSI-related trauma recently. Younger programmers, please, start caring about your hands as early as possible!

mark_ellul 2 hours ago 0 replies      
39, Software Engineer and still actively programming. Having 2 children makes it hard to do any other contributions apart from being a Dad.
taylodl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Oh good grief. At 30 you're just getting started. By that time you're able to separate the wheat from the chaff and spot bullshit a mile away.

As far as contributing to open source I contribute fixes and minor enhancements to the projects I actually use. I don't go looking for an opportunity to contribute I just use something and notice "that ain't quite right" and look into what the problem is and then contact the author. Sometimes the author requests my proposed fix, other times they don't as they have something else planned.

Anyway I recently turned fifty and I'm still going strong.

Jaruzel 1 hour ago 0 replies      

I'm not a professional programmer (although I did start my career as one), but have released various bits of software over the years[1].

- It's harder to find time on any personal projects when you have small kids. Mine's now at Uni, so lots more free time for 'my stuff'. Wasn't so in my 30s though.

- My official job is as a Technical Architect. As such, I'm in front of a PC all day and I always insist on having Visual Studio installed, so I can 'test' stuff. In reality, I'm always working on little coding side projects whenever I need a change of 'brain-work' for an hour or so.


[1] The most recent being: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14206309

ElCapitanMarkla 2 hours ago 0 replies      
30, been in full time web development since finishing Uni 10 years ago. Worked from home for the last 4 years and currently have a sprog on the way. Minimal OS contributions but I do spend a few hours each week working on personal programming type projects.
shdon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
38, and it's pretty much the only thing I'm any good at. I work about 30 hours per week at the office, and do the rest at home or in the weekend. Some weeks that means I work only 30 hours, other weeks it can be 80+ hours. There's a huge amount of flexibility in this, which makes work-life balance a non-issue. Apart from the occasional pull-request, bug report, or comments on HN and Stack Overflow, there's not a lot of contributions I have the opportunity to do, but that has more to do with personal circumstances than with work or age.
mysterydip 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm 35, and while my career has oscillated between dev and sysadmin, my hobby/passion has always been coding, specifically games. Most never see release due to time and having too many itchy ideas to scratch.

I've done a little open source but mostly shy away because I just want to code, not get into meta-arguments over style or whatnot. Not saying every project has that issue specifically, but I don't have time to sift through and find "compatible" communities to contribute to that are also doing projects I find interesting.

kenver 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there are any other professions, other than pro sports people, where this would be a reasonable question to ask.

In most professions experience is desired, in fact I'd go so far as to say you only start becoming decent at your profession at that age.

This sort of question really makes me want to rage at anyone who thinks it's unusual or shouldn't be the case!

I'm 35 and a much better programmer than I was at 11.

jlebrech 2 hours ago 0 replies      
34, won't quit till i'm 60 (but as a business owner eventually)
pan69 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm 44. When I'm not working on bootstrapping my own SaaS, I contract for other startups around town. It can be tough being a one-man-band sometimes.

I contribute to various small open source projects from time to time. I recently ported an ACL library from PHP to JavaScript:


amcrouch 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This smacks more of "I am married with kids, a full-time job and a severe lack of time".

If that is the case then you just need to grab time as and when you can. You will find you can find half an hour a day at least. The limited time will help you focus. I find I get up early or stay up late to make time for this.

twunde 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My last job, between 50-75% of the programmers were 30+, with the oldest being over 70. There are a lot of older programmers, especially in the suburbs. Some will chase the new things like React and NodeJS while others are happy to use older tools like PHP, Python, or Perl. And of course there may be one or two that love COBAL but everyone I've met is willing to learn new tech.
stuaxo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
39 and no idea what I would do if this was not my career. Having an active social life makes it hard to do much programming outside of work, but do manage occasionally. Submit code to open source projects as I use them at work, which might make me a fly-by committer, but may be better than nothing.

Get some nice chunks of free time by contracting and taking chunks of time inbetween, though I guess this could change once kids come into the story.

Artlav 2 hours ago 0 replies      
At 30. Active, never contributed much having been burned several times early on.

For me programming is akin to a work of art, so i keep doing various projects for my own fun.

Not sure how one can become "inactive", barring a disabling accident.

siddboots 2 hours ago 0 replies      
32 and writing more code than ever. I've gone gradually from very basic data analysis in excel at the start of my career, to today, utility scale power simulation, probabilistic modelling, and enterprise ETL stuff using a combination of python and clojure.

I also run weekly data analysis workshops with my staff, where I get to teach junior analysts and engineers how to think Bayesian, and how to replace Excel with Pandas.

Having the time of my life at work :)

vitorbaptistaa 1 hour ago 0 replies      
31 years here, married, no kids. Still active, working full time as a dev (100% on FLOSS projects). Recently I got a tech lead position on a small team, which was a nice change that brought a plethora of new and interesting challenges.

I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

bjornedstrom 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm 32 and program mostly in my spare time. At work I've gravitated more towards more "senior" style of work, like technical leadership and program management. I feel I have more impact doing that, than being the one who actually do the programming.
maleck13 1 hour ago 0 replies      
36 still code occasionally in work but do a lot of future planning, technical direction and leadership work. Experience is a huge benefit and I love having experienced people on my teams. I do a lot of side projects and open source
naveensky 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For once I thought you meant 30+ of programming experience. I am 32 and still program on daily basis. I do not see any reason to quit or code less, infact given a chance I would like to code more.
pulse7 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You will be active programmer as long as you have passion doing that. Passion has no age limit! And there are many companies looking for passionate programmers...
magnat 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I was going to say that 30+ years of experience as a programmer isn't that uncommon. Then I've read comments...
duke360 1 hour ago 0 replies      
i'm 37, I still code (for my side projects) but less than i was used to few years ago, i'm not married, i have no child / pets, but i live with my GF (since 3 years) i'm talking about coding in my free time, not on "work hour"

i think if you add child to the equation the code time drop rapidly to zero

noir_lord 2 hours ago 0 replies      
37, just in the process of switching back to been a programmer for someone else (rather than working for myself).

Really looking forwards to it.

s_kilk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm hitting 30 this year, and just had a kid.

Still going strong.

adrianN 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm 30. I'm the youngest person in my team.
russianator 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Over 40 and still active, whatever that means :D
staticelf 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am 27, have no kids but the code I write outside of work tends to be more focused on my private projects. Some is open source, but far from all of it.
rullelito 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Over 30, still active, not in OS though.
Hates_ 2 hours ago 0 replies      
36 and still going strong!
dmoreno 2 hours ago 0 replies      
37 and love it.
Ask HN: What to say on an interview for a Junior position?
6 points by soneca  22 hours ago   6 comments top 5
camhenlin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that, for junior positions, I am more interested in hearing about passion for the craft of software development, and for someone who is excited to learn new things. To exhibit that, I'd expect one to be able to talk about new technologies they've been working with, things that they enjoy about said tech, and projects that they've been working on to help them learn and grow.

For interviewing for the remote jobs specifically, as an interviewer I recommend the following: Do everything you can to be in the most quiet environment possible. Do everything that you can to have the best internet connection possible. Got roommates? Ask them to not be home. Have a couple pandora streams going around the house for ambience? Shut them off, they're a waste of bandwidth. Next, you may be asked to share your screen at some point. Clear everything remotely offensive or even noteworthy. Don't have a model posing on a sports car as your background image, don't have a bunch of links to porn sites or torrent sites or whatever in your favorites bar on your browser, and no hugely cluttered messes of files with crazy file names, etc. Last, kill all the distractions: shut off your phone, smart watch, and kill all of the background IM notifications on your computer.

Good luck!

1ba9115454 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's best if you can to get them talking about what they are looking for. Sometimes people have agendas they want to fill.
scmoore 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I've interviewed a handful of people for junior positions, so take this with a grain of salt. I usually look for:

* Basic coding ability -- maybe a couple simple whiteboard questions, or walk through some code

* Able to learn things -- talking about past projects, interesting things they've learned, ask them to explain their past work to me (doesn't have to be tech)

* Able to ask decent questions -- Unfortunately I don't have a good standard for this, but generally I like candidates that can form a straightforward question about the role, the company, the tech stack, really anything.

Basically for a junior position, I am not looking for someone who will deliver a lot of value on day 1. Instead I am looking for someone who is curious, learns quickly, and can learn the necessary skills to deliver value later. A quick learner will be great in a year, a slow learner or someone who doesn't care to learn will not.

Good luck!

byoung2 21 hours ago 0 replies      
All tech interview advice out there talks about algorithms and whiteboards

Even senior positions I've applied for don't ask these questions all the time. I've gotten them maybe 25% of the time overall, with the majority at hip startups (e.g Whisper), not big companies (e.g. Clearchannel, CAA).

olivercreashe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Say: hello, good to meet you <shake hand>. My name is <your name> and I am applying for a junior position.

Then look at them in the eyes and let them speak in return.

And so on and so forth.

Good luck!

Ask HN: Google Doc email virus?
479 points by eof  4 days ago   209 comments top 58
ademarre 4 days ago 4 replies      
I reported this attack vector to Google back in 2012. They awarded a modest bounty, and then a few months later I heard this:

> "We're deploying some abuse detection and reactive measures to deal with impostors that might try to abuse this sort of attack. Given this, we do not intend to perform validation that the URL matches the branding information."

That last part was in reference to one of my proposed mitigations, which they chose not to implement.

Here's the discussion on the IETF OAuth WG mailing list from that same time period: https://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/oauth/current/msg07625...

mailinatorguy 4 days ago 5 replies      
Mailinator here:

Yes, we sent the inbox to a blackhole but keep in mind, Mailinator does not and can not actually "Send" any email.

It's a receive-only service. As always, any email "from" @mailinator.com has had it's reply-to forged (which is pretty trivial).

Also - even before we blackholed the email, it's unlikely any email in that inbox (i.e. hhhh..) was read. Each box has a 50 email limit (FIFO) which was immediately overwhelmed. You couldn't click fast enough between seeing the inbox list and clicking an email.

Mailinator is simply a "receiver" in all of this but we have no indication our servers were otherwise involved.

jakob223 4 days ago 4 replies      
EDIT: According to a Google representative on the reddit thread, this application is now blocked. If your account was affected, you no longer need to do anything.

If you fell for this, changing your password is not the right solution - you want to log into your google account and remove permissions from the application.

https://myaccount.google.com/permissions?pli=1 should show a list of apps connected to your account.

Also, if you fell for this, you sent a bunch of emails to people like the one you received, so maybe tell them not to click.

hemancuso 4 days ago 4 replies      
It's a pretty nasty one, since it uses their standard OAuth flow with an app "Google Docs" to have users grant full access to their email and contacts.

1. I can't believe Google doesn't have basic filters to disallow developers from registering an app named "Google Docs"

2. Perhaps there should be some more validation/limits associated with allowing apps on the platform that can gain full access to email. A secure email account is the One True Source of authentication in the digital world. Google should make it way harder for people to get tricked into granting full access to their inbox.

btym 4 days ago 1 reply      
I love how simple this worm is. They haven't exploited any security holes (other that looking like Docs), it literally just asks for full access to your email address.
aub3bhat 4 days ago 0 replies      
Its a malicious OAuth client (multiple clients?) that calls itself "Google Docs" and fooled user into giving access to read emails, while pretending to show as if it was needed by GDocs itself to access a Document, enabling launch of among other things password resets on other websites.

the root problem seems to be that the identity of OAuth Servers is not authenticated/clearly shown, i.e. a malicious app can claim that its name is Google Docs even though it is not endorsed by Google.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are running any website that has "Reset my password" it might be used by attacker, since even though the attacker does not have access to password, the attacker had access to email inbox. Thus the email password reset flow will allow attacker to compromise other websites that rely on Gmail account for password resets.



philip1209 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, Hired.com appears to have emailed all of their users about this. Must be spreadinq quickly. Note that they advise compromised users to change their password - which other comments indicate does not solve the issue.

Below is the Hired notification.


Important: Email Phishing Alert

Hi <first name>,

It has come to our attention that some of our users may have been hit with a Google Docs phishing scam. It appears that this scam has been spreading throughout the internet today, and is not isolated to Hired or our customers and candidates. If you want more information, you can read about it here[1] or here[2].

If you receive a Hired email that says that someone from Hired has shared a Google Doc with you, please validate with the sender before clicking the link or doing anything else.

If you think your account may have been compromised, be sure to change your password immediately.

We apologize for this interruption to your day. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks, The Hired team

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/3/15534768/google-docs-phish...

[2] https://gizmodo.com/a-huge-and-dangerously-convincing-google...

yurisagalov 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like this is fairly widespread.

This is what the attack actually looks like: https://twitter.com/zachlatta/status/859843151757955072

sudom82 4 days ago 4 replies      
Source code of the worm: https://pastebin.com/raw/EKdKamFq

Edit: How I got this:

Someone on reddit went to their site when it wasn't down, and downloaded the files linked in the page's HTML. I just posted it here.

This isn't the full source code. There was another PHP file visible on their website that unfortunately isn't visible anymore.

coleca 4 days ago 1 reply      
Considering how easy it would be to filter this out, why has Google allowed it to continue spreading within their own email network? Obviously they have no control over what goes on outside of Gmail/G Suite, but inside their own network, they should be able to setup a basic filter to stop anything TO: hhhhhhh@mailinator or whatever it is. I received this email (but did not click the link) in my Gmail account from another Gmail user, so it never left the Google network. From the reports here it looks like it is still spreading even though Google disabled the app.

With all of Google's machine learning expertise, how is it that this got past all of their SPAM detectors? It took me 2 seconds to hover over the link and see it was a crazy link that ended up at a domain called google.pro. Really? One of the world's largest and most advanced email systems couldn't figure that out?

alexlongterm 4 days ago 0 replies      
We wrote a guide for google suite admins on how to lock down their domain. Oauth and phishing are major threats and google could do much more here https://medium.com/@longtermsec/more-tips-for-securing-your-...
jmcdiesel 4 days ago 0 replies      
I work for a fortune 500 (wont disclose) but we just shut off email for our entire organization due to this...
rst 4 days ago 0 replies      
slrz 4 days ago 2 replies      
Hi, I'm Google Docs. Would you please grant me access to your Google account so that I can read, send, delete and manage your mail, as well as manage your contacts?
aaronmiler 4 days ago 1 reply      
Our support team is getting spammed a lot from our customers. We're in the education space, and it's spreading pretty quick.

On initial inspection the URL looks harmless, but it's got some malicious params in there, mainly

It appears to request read/send access to your email, and then spam all your contacts

gigabo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Reported as a service disruption on the status dashboard:

> We're investigating reports of an issue with Google Drive. We will provide more information shortly.


wjke2i9 4 days ago 0 replies      
Things like this are bound to happen when you have centralized systems controlling everything with full control of the information (no zero-knowledge storage like email/document/communication encryption). You're essentially trusting one third party provider with everything in your life/business/organization.
seanp2k2 4 days ago 0 replies      
sergiotapia 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just received one as well. Source is Hired.com - according to them:



Hi Sergio,

It has come to our attention that some of our users may have been hit with a Google Docs phishing scam. It appears that this scam has been spreading throughout the internet today, and is not isolated to Hired or our customers and candidates. If you want more information, you can read about it here or here.

If you receive a Hired email that says that someone from Hired has shared a Google Doc with you, please validate with the sender before clicking the link or doing anything else.

If you think your account may have been compromised, be sure to change your password immediately.

We apologize for this interruption to your day. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks, The Hired team

M1233mjm 4 days ago 0 replies      
When can we expect a public statement regarding the phishing scam and the fallout? We all know it used our accounts to forward itself to everyone in our contact lists, but what about our emails? Have those also been forwarded/harvested? We need to know this to know how to react.
mrpound 4 days ago 1 reply      
Same here. Several emails so far from different seemingly random companies and individuals with clearly malicious Google Docs requests w/ a suspicious param in the oauth request in the link:


yeboi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's an interesting case that I encountered (~1:20pm maybe):

1) I clicked on the link on my phone's email app. It looked super believable since it was coming from a person I was expecting a Google Doc invite from. I allowed access to "Google Docs" and then the page hit a 502 gateway error.

2) I tried it again on my computer by logging in, and this time, when the page was loading (after I allowed access), I saw the website was not legitimate (based on the url) SO I immediately closed the tab.

Here's the interesting part: None of my contacts got a "Google Docs" invite from me - meaning I didn't "send" any mail. Any idea how I can see if the person behind this has my emails too via API requests?

wmblaettler 3 days ago 0 replies      
To see the list of apps connected to your Google Account: https://myaccount.google.com/permissions
packetized 4 days ago 0 replies      
Eagerly awaiting the response from Cloudflare detailing their response, since all of the domains associated with this so far appear to have been hosted with them, or at least fronted by their service.
choxi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I got one from "DocuSign": https://twitter.com/choxi/status/844949531896655872

The link went to a page that looked like Google Docs and asked for my Google login, but I noticed the domain was wrong so I didn't sign in. I tried the link again today and it looks like Chrome does flag it as a phishing site now.

AdmiralAsshat 4 days ago 0 replies      
My brother called me about 15 minutes ago to tell me this hit his student e-mail as well.

I'd be curious at the postmortem how quickly this thing spread.

EdwardMSmith 4 days ago 1 reply      
Feels like "I love you" all over again.
codedokode 4 days ago 0 replies      
As we saw one should not let users decide who can get access to their email account. Users are easily fooled. Google should review all applications wanting such access manually.

Though this is unrelated to the topic I think it would be good if Google reviewed apps permissions in Google Play too because users are bad at this.

os400 3 days ago 0 replies      
G Suite customers have been asking for the ability to whitelist OAuth clients/scopes for their domains for years, for this exact reason. So far, Google hasn't really given a shit.

I guess that might finally change now.

discreditable 4 days ago 0 replies      
G Suite admins: you can check for compromise by going to Reports > Token in the admin panel. A compromise looks like this: https://i.imgur.com/Dm0NNTn.png
_pergosausage 4 days ago 1 reply      
The very same thing happened at my university. The sender is hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com
TimButterfield 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is also a Docusign phish email going around. I received a couple of them yesterday from mail2world, though signed by [company name].onmicrosoft.com for that user's business email address. They purported to be from people I knew.
ethn 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just received one of these as well. They seem to get their targets by compromising a single user and then by monitoring the people who are viewing the same Google Docs as the infected victim had in the past.
garyfirestorm 4 days ago 2 replies      
This happened to me. An unknown person from my organization shared a Google doc. I didn't open it, and replied by saying 'what is this about?'. He said he didn't send any gdocs :|
Clubber 4 days ago 1 reply      
The bad thing about centralized internet is it makes some mail servers much juicer targets than the decentralized mail servers of old.

I decided gmail wasn't for me when I read they harvested your emails for ads. 1GB in 2004 sounded so enticing too!

If you are technically savvy and have access to a static IP, I highly recommend setting up postfix/dovecot and registering a domain. It's fairly straight forward for technical people. You can have it setup, soup to nuts in an hour or two. There's online docs everywhere.

It's probably not going to be as secure as a gmail, but it's a much smaller target. Most internet providers will give you a static for an extra $5 or so.

jaimehrubiks 4 days ago 0 replies      
The only tricky thing is not seeing these weird permissions. Google may block naming an app "Google Docs" but someone could always trick it with "Google Docs." or whatever
spydum 4 days ago 0 replies      
Next up, prepare for the inbox onslaught of every CASB provider hawking their wares and telling you all about the googpocalypse and how they are uniquely prepared to solve it!
aaronmiler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just checked the malicious link again.

It looks like Google removed (at least one of) their access tokens

Checked the URL containing:


cloudaphant 4 days ago 1 reply      
Any clues what this was trying to do? I suppose we have to wait for Google to publicise what went on once OAuth had been granted.
Markoff 4 days ago 0 replies      
so what should i tell my mom to avoid her Gmail being hacked in future same way? (it wasn't hacked since they had only English language audience this time)

don't click on unknown links which take you to Google login page and never approve access to your data in any dialog?

sleepychu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there mitigation against deploying exactly this attack another way?
killa_kyle 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is burning through our office right now. emailing all clients! diablo!
d2kx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah @SwiftOnSecurity warned about this, lots of people/orgs affected
cassie942 2 days ago 0 replies      
there was a warning may 4 about a massive google doc phising scam check on.digg.com/2py2k5g
mathattack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I got a few, then it died. Perhaps Google now recognizes this as spam.
caydo00n 4 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone know how far spread this is? it just Hit our school emails
cassie942 2 days ago 0 replies      
warning may 4 of massive google docs phising scam check on.digg.com/2py2k5g
pmcpinto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I received it too
sudom82 4 days ago 1 reply      
edit: accidentally double posted

double edit:1. replied in above comment.2. dunno. first time using HN, accidentally submitted twice when I was on comment posting cooldown I guess.

MediaSquirrel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Same here
patmcguire 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, it's all over.
petervandijck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, same here.
ownc 3 days ago 0 replies      
My teacher said not to open this email.
pinaceae 4 days ago 0 replies      
amazing how large this is, our company just a massive wave of those. all from "internal" addresses.
ben_jones 4 days ago 0 replies      
We have an entire generation that's been trained by big tech companies to instantly click agree, share, like, etc., buttons. This is only going to get worse.
Ask HN: Critique my company
50 points by asbestoshft  2 days ago   72 comments top 47
johnwheeler 2 days ago 3 replies      
Your developers are smart - they don't want to shake the tree. They know that even though you say you want constructive criticism, there's a good chance you'll resent them for giving it to you, so they take the safe road.

Ask the ones who leave, but wait 5 months until they're comfortably settled into new employment. You can bet they'll give it to you straight, but you might not like that either.

reckoner2 2 days ago 3 replies      
How much time are you giving them to prepare an answer?

If a senior member of the company scheduled a meeting and then asked me on the spot what I would improve about the company I wouldn't be able to give any good ideas.

If instead they sent me a note saying that in three days they would like to meet with me for twenty minutes, and that during this time they would like to hear my thoughts so far about working for the company and to please think about ways in which you think the company can improve. I would be able to provide many ideas in this scenario.

brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
My suspicion is that the silence reflects the company culture (and perhaps the larger culture depending on where the company operates). Some elements that may be in play (but I am imagining based on very little information):

1. The formality of the process.

2. A lack of previous informal conversations. The first time the boss shows up in a new hire's office, a good strategy is often to keep one's mouth shut.

3. Only asking new hires. A sophisticated new hire may realize that they do not know the big picture. Other new hires may not want to throw their team 'under the bus'.

4. The homegrown Google docs and in-house libraries are all "somebody's baby". And if they were a priority problem, then the founders would have fixed them. They haven't, so what is the point in mentioning something that obviously will not change.

My random internet advice:

1. Come up with a real plan to fix the problems everyone knows about.

2. Ask everyone how to improve the process, not just new hires.

3. Build a culture of trust.

Good luck.

rezrovs 2 days ago 0 replies      
A previous CEO used to hold breakfasts once a month. It was really informal with a mix of people and a wide variety of work related topics got discussed. We could ask him things and he could ask us things. The setting made it really good for breaking down that communication barrier between juniors and The Boss.
dugmartin 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about giving your new hires a few mostly blank pages with a letterhead of "My first two weeks WTF moments...". On day one give it to them and let them know you will take them out to dinner in two weeks to talk about what they write down. Let them know it is really valuable to you to have fresh sets of eyes on company processes and that there will be no negative repercussions. I'd then give them a few examples of what you would like to know.

Given all that I still think you won't get much feedback until you've done this a while and the current employees let the new hires know that there are no issues with them telling you that things are wrong.

meterplech 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am not the founder of my company, but I ask the same thing of new hires (it's probably easier to give ideas to the non-founder). One thing that has worked well for me has been to say "One of my favorite things to hear from a new hire is what we could be doing better. You have the perspective of someone who has been elsewhere and have fresh eyes, and don't just accept things that aren't working. One example of something that isn't working is X. Another is Y. Besides those, can you think of other ways we can make the company better?"

That way you start by being self-critical, which makes people feel more open to complaining.

Btw, remember if you ask this... you have to follow through to _fix_ some of these problems or you can lose trust. Only ask if you really do want to hear feedback and action on some of them.

aphextron 2 days ago 2 replies      
Feedback needs to be anonymous or it will always be worthless. Few people have the courage to point out even blatant truths to their employer. Just set up an email that anyone can submit to anonymously.
AshWills 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's great that you set time aside to have a 1-to-1 with new hires but I personally think a few weeks is too soon to be asking new hires that particular question. Not to mention it also depends on personaility types; you may have an employee who is fairly comfortable answering that sort of question with complete honesty. But more often that not, you will find that they probably haven't had chance to get up-to-speed with their work environment or gain a thorough understanding of how the dev team operates.

You would probably get more benefit by asking questions that are more related to company culture, such as, how they're settling into the team, how they find the team morale/company culture, who in the team has provided them the most value so far. Those type of questions would hopefully help the new hire understand that you care about the culture at the company and also helps build a more personal relationship, which consequently will build trust between you and your employees to allow them to truthfully answer your initial question a few months later when they are more embedded into the team.

Definitely keep up the regular engagements with new hires though, despite not necessarily receiving the answers you're looking for.

mixmastamyk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked at a few places where the products were mature and sophisticated enough that it too me six months to get a handle on them and start to become truly productive on implementing improvements. Before that time I felt like a deer in the headlights.

Sounds like what is happening here.

chrisbennet 2 days ago 0 replies      
I could see that if you were hiring inexperienced developers but it seems pretty strange otherwise.

[1] Are you hiring from a pool of developers who used processes/tools that are the same or inferior to what your company is using? In other words, your company is already excelling compared to their previous experiences.

[2] Could you be hiring from a pool of developers who have been previously conditioned or selected to "keep their heads down"? From the outside looking in, the finance world seems pretty rough and tumble. The geek/nerd response to being with a bunch of jocks is be to stay quite. [I'm a geek/nerd in case that can be taken the wrong way.]

[3] Lastly, honest feedback requires either anonymity or trust. Trust is tough. A single case of a guy getting marched out by security when he told his manager "I'm not happy with my salary." trumps all the other times a manager tells someone, "If you're not happy, come see me." Heck, seeing someone marched out by security for any reason destroys pretty much any trust in management. If your new hire worked a place like that before, it's understandable that he might be reticent to trust his new company.

Mz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since you are one of the founders, you are a 900 pound gorilla. You asking them to their face is you putting them on the spot. This is not likely to go good places.

I submitted ideas at BigCo to their Bright Ideas program and basically got rejection letters and felt crapped on. Expecting me to not only see that something could be improved, but also provide a fully formed solution that would pass muster politically was probably just an exercise in how to make new people feel like they don't belong at all.

Let me suggest you come up with something like a suggestion box or constructive feedback box where you can at least hear "I see a problem with X and my (possibly off the cuff solution would be Y" so you are getting some kind of feedback.

Good communication is incredibly hard, much harder than most people seem to appreciate. Actual good communication tends to be a long, drawn out process. You need to foster the first step here of "I just want to hear what you think is going badly" and that requires trust, assurances that it won't bite them in the butt and willingness to really listen and take it seriously. All of that is extremely, incredibly hard to do. If you, as one of the founders, cringes or winces because someone said something not nice about your baby, you can expect that no one will want to say anything again. You will need to really work at making people feel not only okay but actively good about pointing out problem areas.

This runs against the grain for the vast majority of social experience that the vast majority of people have. "Don't rock the boat" is pretty deeply ingrained in most people. "Don't question authority" is another biggie. It is incredibly hard to convince people you really and truly want to hear how you can improve things.

So, start with finding some method other than one of the founders getting all up in their face to try to give them a safe and welcome path for tossing out ideas. Because this is not it.

itamarst 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are different skill trees developers can have:

1. Implementation skills: can implement a solution, e.g. knows C++.

2. Problem solving: given a problem, can come up with a solution. "We need an API for X" -> can come up with a design for the API.

3. Identifying problems: can notice problems exist.

4. Teamwork.

(Probably other skill trees as well.)

Assuming confidence, trust and culture aren't an issue, it may just be the developers you're hiring lack the relevant skills to identify problems.

These skills are rarely if ever taught explicitly, so many programmers get by with just implementation skills, or just implementation and problem solving skills. As you realize, though, problem solving and even more so identifying problems are key to productivity (https://codewithoutrules.com/2016/08/25/the-01x-programmer/).

Maybe you should consider teaching these skills, or change hiring process to screen for them, or both.

snarf21 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like one or both things is not true. Your developers think that the tools work well enough and the system is stable enough that they don't think there is a need for arbitrary changes, meaning only you think there are issues.

Or, they don't really feel comfortable giving feedback about how to make it better. Maybe they already make such a good salary that they are afraid to risk it. In this case they are disincentivized from actually giving you the feedback.

Have you tried doing a hackathon week? No normal work except system operations but have everyone work on a new feature or streamlining of an existing process. Have you tried offering bonus for people who offer up new ideas and plans to improve the software and processes?

nqzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
i suspect you're hiring the "wrong" type of developers. since you took the leap and founded a company, i'm assuming that you're fairly aggressive and at least at one point were willing to think outside the box. the developers you're hiring may be technically strong, but they likely don't have that same mentality. my gut is that "c++ work on windows and linux ... financial" is going to filter for this pretty strongly

this may be exactly what you need for development, but it'd probably be healthy to bring in some more precocious elements ... maybe as interns so you're not committed to a culture shift

tmaly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think if you had a way for all new hires to submit questions they have while learning the system, this would be a better way to go.

Let them know you are building a manual to help other new hires. Maybe even let Senior people add questions or answer it. This would be sort of like an internal StackOverFlow for just your company, but organize it as a manual.

So instead of them trying to identify what you should be doing better, they just inherently point out where they are getting tripped up in your process.

The only other similar thing that comes to mind is how Tim Ferris wrote about this method of maintaining a FAQ to automate the customer service process in the 4 Hour Work Week.

Helmet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Put yourself in their shoes. You're the founder of this company, it's your baby that I'm sure you're very passionate about and proud of, and you just sat down a relatively new employee and asked them to critique your company.

There's an enormous amount of perceived risk on their end as they have nothing really to gain, and everything to lose.

And I say perceived because it sounds like you're a good guy and are genuinely seeking honest feedback, but they don't know that, to them this whole thing might be a shit test and if they say the wrong thing they could get on your, the founders, bad side.

ccvannorman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have always felt like I would appreciate candor in people talking to me about my business. But every time I have offered constructive criticism it has not benefited me. So I stopped doing it.

Not sure what the solution is, but I feel like building a culture around "best ideas win" and rewarding the process of coming up with improvements and implementing them could be good. You could seed this at first with improvements you were already trying, but when people see "Hey, Joe Schmoe came up with this great idea and now we do it" would be a boon to your improvement culture.

swsieber 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fix one of your known issues. Announce you're fixing one of your known issues because you're hoping to improve the company. Make sure that it actually improves stuff, not just checking a box (ie. don't use a ticket tracking solution that's actually worse than your google docs).

I think employees at that point would be more willing to offer up requests for improvement.

Maybe do your issue tracking first, and set aside some thing (story points if your agile, time per week/month, etc), visibly there for process/structure/tool improvement in the issue tracking.

nzmsv 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's little point in complaining about stuff if it's never going to get fixed. That just labels one a complainer. Try rephrasing the question like this: if you could take 1-3 months away from your regular job to fix something in our infrastructure or codebase, what would it be? Then you can follow up by actually letting people do this. And there is no reason to limit this to new hires. Plenty of frustrations come up over time.
dharmon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Be glad you hired savvy employees. Anyone who comes into a new company and starts enumerating everything they are doing wrong is a fool who will have poor career longevity. That's how we end up with shitty tech blogs from people who keep insisting they have the answers if just somebody will listen (cough Michael O'Church cough).

You need to put something concrete behind your words. One off-the-top-of-my-head suggestion: Have a few current engineers start working on some of your known problems as part of their responsibilities. It doesn't have to be 100% their job, just a "kaizen" approach is ok (improve some small part each time they use it). Let them know it will be part of their evaluations.

Now when you ask new employees point to these examples: "John noticed our tracking system was crummy and important issues were slipping through the cracks, so we offered to let him be in charge of re-vamping it."

Obviously you'll have to manage what you allow them to improve, and who gets to work on it. This idea isn't perfect, of course, but the idea is to show them you are serious about these suggestions.

X% of management is aligning incentives (X is some large number). Think about how to incentivize them to give the information you want, and how to remove disincentives. Money and responsibility / autonomy are the most basic incentives.

hluska 2 days ago 0 replies      
How senior are your hires in terms of experience? And, if your hires range from new grads to developers with 10+ years of experience, do you notice any difference between the two cohorts in terms of how much feedback they'll give?

I'm a sample of one, but when I was 25, I would have tons of feedback after my first couple of weeks in a company. Much of it was bad as I hadn't been there long enough to know why things were as they were.

Now that I'm 40, it takes more time before I have any meaningful feedback. I'm more comfortable with what I don't know, so consequently, I'm more comfortable reserving judgement until I know a little more of why things are.

That said, I have a couple of ideas:

1.) Schedule the 'feedback' session more than a few weeks into their job.

2.) Give your new hires some time to prepare. I think it's best to assume that individual contributors feel uncomfortable with spontaneous, candid conversations until they prove otherwise.

3.) Have you considered trying an anonymous feedback system and comparing the results?

azylman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just giving them a few weeks at the company before asking seems like a problem. After only a few weeks, they probably don't have enough experience to answer with anything other than their own biases.

For example: you call out your Google Docs tracking system as something that should be obvious. But that's probably not obvious after only a few weeks. Some companies (especially smaller companies) can get by totally fine with that, and if you've only been at a company for a few weeks, you don't know what kind of company you're at. If they tell you that your Google Docs tracking system is bad, they're probably just reacting to it being different than what they had before.

Anyone who responds with a long list of grievances after only a few weeks is probably the type of engineer that you _don't_ want on your team: it probably means that they're unwilling to evaluate problems and solutions within the current context.

TheAlchemist 2 days ago 0 replies      
You're asking the right question, but I suppose not in a right way. From my experience you need to show them that it's the company culture to challenge things in a smart and constructive way. To do that, you do nothing very formal, just sit your best guys with the newcomer, explaining how things works and why. And sometimes, criticizing the current stuff, but not in a authoritarian way - something like we know we can do better, just nothing really worked well or we didn't have time but now we do.

That way it feels much more like -> we have something we could do better, and the guys are trying to improve that, let's do that with them. While 'critique' immediately feels negative and kind of creates a barrier.

rb808 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its great to hear you asking about such things because normally no one asks and its a huge waste of experience.

I'd say a few weeks in a short time to get up to speed. The biggest problem is that lots of places are "different" and not just "better". Often I'd like to do things the way I did at my previous job but that could just be unnecessary - taking time to change and breaking everyone elses process.

I would ask more specific questions. Like if you want to improve CD - ask the guy what tool they used in their previous job and how well did it work.

Someone else mentioned monthly informal chats I'd agree. Over a beer after work you can talk about old companies and what your employees miss about them.

solipsism 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with those suggesting you might want to look at your company culture. If, when you look around, you don't see a multitude of people working on improving every facet of your process, then you may have built a "heads down, don't rock the boat, worry about now screwing up my own job" kind of company. This mindset will pervade the management chain. And it will be a huge impediment to growth.

If in fact that's what you've got, you need a massive change. Promote based on demonstrated positive impact to the entire company. Encourage risk takers, discourage blame. The people you want working for you would never work at the kind of company I describe above.

dmlittle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember hearing about a CEO that was unable to get any feedback from the board of directors until the phrasing of the question asked shifted from criticism/feedback to advice.

People are worried of giving criticism because you're effectively asking them to rate/evaluate your performance. However, when you ask for advice you're either asking what the other person would do in your shoes or you give them an opportunity to boast about their knowledge. While the end goal is the same, at a psychological level, the perceived reason for the question is different.

highd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Make sure to really spend a lot of time explaining your setup. It's really easy for interviewees to nod and say sure even if you're going too fast for them.

Remember it's stuff you've seen everyday for 14 years, and these people have seen it for maybe 20 minutes. I'd suggest giving them some flow charts / high-level info either in advance or with 20 minutes of quiet time on-site.

The only people I'd expect to respond in the current setting would:

 1) Have really high natural intelligence to pick everything up super fast, 2) Be really confident in their skills in the relevant disciplines, and 3) Be really confident you'd take feedback constructively

zhte415 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use an external agency to give truly anonymous 360 degree feedback for everyone in the organisation.

This can get you get to the roots of problems. Take their advice on administering.

From what you stated, it sounds like the company is in a hierarchy power structure where others don't want to stick their head out too much.

At only 20 people, to have this problem sounds like a problem. Getting an external consultant to do some investigation seems to make sense.

JSeymourATL 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Or I'm not asking it the right way?

Did you frame the conversation in advance with the new hire? Tell them - I want you to make a critical assesment of everything we do. We'll meet again in a month's time. I'll be looking for specific, actionable ideas on how we can do things faster/better/smarter. What would it take to grow 10%?

If new ideas your desired outcome-- formalize the process with a Quarterly Brainstorm/Review pulling together thoughts from the entire team. Then select the top 2-3 to work on. The process helps foster a culture of strategic thinking and innovation.

Spooky23 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Prior to starting the company I worked at six different companies and outside of the first one, my first real programming job, I would always have lots of ideas in the first few weeks about how things could be improved. Some of my ideas were bad because I just didn't understand what was going on well enough but I like to think that some of them had merit.

Did you go to one of the company founders with problems and solutions?

I would be very wary of such an ask unless I had a pre-existing relationship with the person asking the question. You also may have folks telling your new guys to STFU.

segmondy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Start by critizing yourself. What I do before asking this question is point out our known flaws.

Hey, we have some issues here and here, this is how we are working towards improving it. For example, we could be doing a better job at writing documentation, etc, etc. What I love about having new developer join us is the new ideas they could bring on board, we are open minded to learning and getting better, from what you have seen so far, what can we do to improve? What should we try?

cgrusden 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hire me, I'll tell you - short of that, keep asking like a broken record at the end of every week. At some point they might break down and tell you -

Here's how I implemented what you're asking to my company:I would first ask how they are doing and how the project is going. And then I would ask if theres anything we could improve - the first few times, nothing. After that, they would tell me improvements (finally)

alanmackenzie 2 days ago 0 replies      
Work on making people feel safe with the situation before asking for direct feedback.

A few examples of how this could be done:

 Give them more than a few weeks to get comfortable with you and the company culture. Give concrete examples of things that have improved due to employee feedback.
It's hard to offer better advice through a HN post but easy to observe in person. Perhaps you can hire an external consultant to help or ask a mentor or advisor to fill this role by spending a few days in your office.

kohanz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think for many people, especially junior to mid-level hires, a few weeks is not enough time to achieve the familiarity, credibility, and just general sense of belonging to feel comfortable sharing genuine critiques. I would expect only senior-level developers with a lot of experience and confidence, would feel secure in their responses at that stage (and even then, it depends on how receptive your culture feels). If you want genuine feedback at this early stage, have you thought about enabling it anonymously?
philippz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use a very simple tool to give feedback.This is how we collect feedback (internal and external): https://www.stomt.com/stomt

And it creates a great feedback culture as i can give feedback as a normal user or anonymously and i can even vote anonymously. The simplicity reduces the perceived effort and makes it more likely that someone gives feedback. The optional anonymity takes out the fear.

(Disclosure: I work for STOMT)

fwefwwfe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Managers always seem quick-witted enough to come up with justifications for anything, sometimes even preemptively declaring they don't want to hear about subject X. So why would I point out obvious things? And why not ask the other devs? You have lot more of them. Plus a week is pretty early. You could ask them every month or every other month.
cweagans 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you have that meeting, let them know that there is an anonymous suggestion box in some public location and that you really, genuinely want to know what can be improved. They may not tell you to your face, but maybe if there was some anonymous way to handle suggestions, that might be more effective?
bjornlouser 2 days ago 0 replies      
"There are even some pretty obvious flaws..."

List those on a piece of paper and have the new developer add one item.

rejschaap 2 days ago 0 replies      
The question is pretty big. There are so many things that could be improved on so many levels of your organisation. Where to start? Did you try asking more specific questions?

How about building up a relationship with the people first by having regular one-on-ones?

zeeshanm 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing to note why you'd always have all these ideas and others don't is because you're a founder and they are programmers. It takes a certain level of conviction to voice your ideas. Not every programmer has that conviction.
apris 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth" I don't usually speak up because i'm too afraid that the other person might not take it constructively. Create an anon survey, that might help. It always does :)
orbz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have you tried being self deprecating a bit? I've found that ripping on yourself/the company a bit will show them you're not afraid of the truth and will loosen some inhibitions.
blacksmythe 2 days ago 0 replies      

 >> Any ideas how we can get feedback from our new developers on how to improve?
Hire outspoken developers. Dan Luu would be an excellent choice:


maverick_iceman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't you run anonymous surveys so that employees can give feedback without fear of repercussions?
pvaldes 2 days ago 0 replies      
You probably need an independent critic that do not has nothing to lose in the process.
bvi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Come up with a way for them to provide anonymous feedback.
i336_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some random thoughts from someone who is not in the industry but has read too much HN:

The devs in question may have real issues with confidence. Straightforwardly saying up front that their feedback is hands-down not going to get them fired or affect their position or compensation may help a lot here. Explaining how to give feedback, eg by focusing on objective criticism and avoiding personal attacks (and similar common-sense sentiment) may also help.

It may also be useful to think back to when you'd just started at the six companies you mention, and spend some time remembering the mindset you had - in particular the divide that was present between the ideas you had and the difficulty, if any, that you had with actually sharing these ideas. For these new hires this same exact situation is playing out with your employees.

Maybe the company culture could focus more strongly on feedback from the start, instead of abruptly posing the question a few weeks in. It should be integrated into the onboarding, possibly be part of the hiring, etc etc, so that new hires associate "$company == feedback". That may help with the intimidation factor.

Hopefully an approach like this results in a steady stream of feedback from the start.

You're right that ideas developed when adjusting can sometimes have a kind of 20/20 clear vision, but that they can also be bad because they don't fully grasp all the implementation details or culture or whatnot.

It may be a good idea to wait two months+, or until the person in question is consistently producing output, not much surprises them and they seem almost bored, to start looking at some of the less likely-sounding tidbits that come back. I can tell you that if you waited say six weeks before asking me anything I likely would not spit out any useful metrics due to nerves and the newness of everything.

One idea that could be interesting is to start a feedback page somewhere (perhaps a wiki page - or a Docs document everyone can edit would be a start), and add everything you can think of. The hope here is that since there's a bug list, a) there's now an already-started thing so people don't have to overcome that intertia, and b) people will go "wow, this is fairly scathing" and won't feel so bad adding to it. :P

I was also wondering about making feedback anonymous; this could be a good last-resort, but I wouldn't immediately try this: "oh, that was me" is too likely to come out at the most (needlessly) awkward of moments, it promotes a "you can't be honest" mentality (!!!!!!!!), etc. Like I said, very last resort, not recommended.

This topic reminds me of the "customers don't know what they want" problem - asking customers directly what they want in terms of new features or improvements can sometimes simply not produce actionable results, or result in false leads that can take an extremely long time (and in some unfortunate circumstances a lot of money) to discover aren't the core issues. Figuring out how to find the core issues can be tricky. (I unfortunately don't remember where on here that I read about this, but I do remember there not being any simple solutions; if anyone has any links I wouldn't mind remembering!)

Ask HN: What are people using Steve Ballmer's USAFacts dataset for?
7 points by arikr  1 day ago   1 comment top
olivercreashe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I've seen people choking the rooster with it, and doing some cool machine lesrning with it to see how much they can mine for bitcoin a la Martha Stewart meets James Bond.


Ask HN: How do I go about making a coding camp for kids?
5 points by neil_macintyre  1 day ago   5 comments top 3
primitivesuave 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have been running coding camps for kids for the last 5 years (techlabeducation.com). It's a highly rewarding experience and when executed correctly, can be very lucrative. To answer your questions:

1. Find a location that is not well-served. There are hundreds of coding camps in Silicon Valley, and you'd have a difficult time marketing. I have a friend who started a coding camp in a more remote city of around 100,000 people - he had the only technology camp (every other summer program was an art, music, or outdoor camp) and had no issues with convincing the local library to rent him space, or profitably run the camp. Most importantly, he provided an experience to kids who would otherwise not get one.

2. Don't try to build your own tools until you are sure you can deliver them. We promised a bunch of online videos to parents about 2 years ago, before I realized it takes around an hour of work for each minute of final video. Just like with any business, see what tools are already out there (there are many) before building your own. One of the most successful tools to come out of my summer program was pythonroom.com, which is now used in schools around the world.

3. You can find free curriculum online for any subject you cover. A good idea is to write down an exact lesson plan for each class you want to teach in a Google Doc so you can easily share it with any instructors you hire.

4. It's a full time job to get any business started. You're not going to have much success starting a camp at this point since most kids are already signed up, but it's a great project for next year and I'm sure you can have a profitable summer camp up for the summer before you go to college.

5. The experience was great and gave me tremendous insight into education technology. If I had to do it again, I would try to automate the customer acquisition process and keep overhead as low as possible.

Send me an email at keshav@techlabeducation.com if you have any more questions!

thejteam 1 day ago 0 replies      
Make sure to contact the pertinent government office in your area that regulates child care. Summer camps, even those for middle schoolers, generally fall under their umbrella. Get all of the certifications you need and know what the requirements are for your instructors. Make sure your location will meet all of their requirements.

If possible, avoid this by teaming with a center that already has these certifications.

babyrainbow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Leave the kids alone...
Ask HN: Teams using AWS, are your i3 instances dying at abnormal rates?
21 points by caffeineninja  2 days ago   2 comments top
DelaneyM 2 days ago 1 reply      

We've had a mix of ~40 t2.u & c4.l instances running for a year with no downtime. Our i3.4xl has fully borked twice (memorable when we lose the ephemeral drives and need to reconstitute the analytics data).

Though it will be much more expensive and less performant, we're moving the system to an RDB-backed c4 soon for reliability, the people time to recover is too expensive.

Ask HN: Did your life as a parent affected your life as a developer?
159 points by johngorse  3 days ago   128 comments top 64
linkregister 3 days ago 1 reply      
As your kids get older, and especially when they enter school, a large part of the evening will be spent by them doing homework. Their weekends will be spent more with friends and doing activities (organized sports, etc). You'll have more time to yourself.

In the meantime, enjoy your family time because your kids won't always want to spend all their free time with you (they'll have friends and hobbies to compete with you).

Make sure to exercise. So many on HN experience health problems that originate from inadequate exercise. 30 minutes per day should be sufficient.

8 1/2 hours of sleep per night seems to be an hour longer than what I would expect would be necessary, but if you're getting woken up by a baby then that is good time budgeting.

kemiller2002 3 days ago 3 replies      
Having kids taught me how to use every spare minute I have. I'm a single parent with 2 kids, so I have no back up to take care of them if I am busy with something else. Half of my free time is spent with my kids, so I have to make everything else count. My process looks a little chaotic, but I carefully plan out what I'm going to do, and when I need to do it by. My entire day is on a mental schedule. Unless I deliberately want to, I waste very little in "screwing around." Everything is mentally prioritized and evaluated.

Having kids emphasized what I already learned in the food industry, don't do silly extraneous tasks ever, and do things as fast as possible without compromising what I do. I rarely wait and do one thing at a time when I'm trying to get stuff done. For example, I'm normally cooking one meal and prepping the kids lunch at the same time.

Unless I absolutely need a break, I don't watch T.V. idly. It maybe in the background, but I'm normally only half paying attention. I turn on CC so I can read the text, and half listen. Watch videos to learn something? You can read (I've heard 4 times) faster than watching a video, so I almost always take that route. The one thing I don't do is listen to podcasts in the car. That is reserved for NPR to catch up on world news.

Most of the time when people want to meet dealing with business, I demand an agenda, then I decide if it's worth it. I've been known to be ruthless at work with this. I focus my life around things like this.

bryarcanium 3 days ago 1 reply      
My partner and I pretend we're divorced.

We noticed before we had our first that our friends who were divorced with kids actually got out once in a while, because they shared custody. So we have what amounts to an oncall schedule - certain days I'm 100% in charge of kiddo, certain days he is. There's some exceptions for commute stuff - daycare is closer to my work- but this means you sleep in on your weekend day off, and you can schedule nights to game and hang out with friends, etc.

Most of the time we aren't out; kiddo is fun. But the difference between hanging out with a kid and being in charge of them getting their needs met is pretty significant.

Re: commute, I'm hauling the kiddo in with me on my bicycle, dropping her off at daycare, and heading to my work. It's exercise and commute together and I love it. It's about 40 minutes one way, so I have to be careful about not over training, but it's awesome otherwise.

Edit: We also do side projects on our off nights. And we pay people to clean/do the yard work, which also does a lot for free time.

nosequel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Same boat. Here's me:

 1. My side project is my life. I don't use the computer at all outside of work. I play with the kids, do stuff around the house, spend time with my wife. 2. I moved to being remote full time after killing myself commuting in SoCal. My enjoyment of life has increased tremendously. 3. Like others have said, I don't waste any time. I read Twitter/HN when I'm taking a 15 break in the morning and in the afternoon, but otherwise I work when at work. 4. I pick up new technologies while at work. Part of why we are paid so much is we have to stay on top of what is the latest and greatest best practices. This is like Doctors reading medical journals for their particular area of practice. 
Overall, you don't get to do your kids over again. If you miss something it is gone. There is no undo/redo cycle. Everything else for me is secondary.

mystique 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is my story basically for many years. I've found having side project is even tougher as a mom than a dad (SO has been better at carving time for himself than me).

What I've found works is to be consistently working on same side project over time, dedicate some me-time and set small goals. Instead of trying too many new things, stick to same side project for months at a time. Also "book" a few hours every 2-3 weeks for myself and go work at a Starbucks instead of staying home. Finally set small achievable goals; what I would want to do in 1 day, spread that over a month.

meheleventyone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Full time working with two young kids aged nine months and three years. I'm lucky my commute is a fifteen minute walk. Most days I wake up between 6-7 depending on the youngest. Our kindergarten is right next door so I drop the eldest there on the way to work. Usually work 0820-1620. Pick up the eldest on the way home. Then cook or watch the kids whilst my partner cooks. Hopefully both kids are in bed and asleep by 2030-2100. Spend an hour chilling with my partner then bed.

I've only really managed side projects during my paternity leave whilst the baby was sleeping or during a period of gardening leave. That's more than prior to kids as I spent most of my free time climbing, skiing and going out. We also rebuilt our house last winter and finished the interior off over the past year. This spring/summer my 'side project' is a lot of manual labour sorting out our garden.

I've always learnt new stuff at work and have been lucky enough to get work that has been pretty new and different each time which obviously helps a lot.

unfocused 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm like you - full time job, wife (who also works full time), 2 kids under age of 6. I too am tired some nights but some things have changed (for the better):

1. Changed jobs to a balanced work/life job. 2. No longer a developer, but still in IT.3. 12 minute walking commute (no buses, cars, or bikes)4. Moved downtown - smaller house than most people, but as noted in #3, walking commute to pretty much everything.5. My side projects are my kids, as they are very young and are not independent by any means. I've dabbled in tiny project which was python to grab Scotch prices. But that was 6 hours. So yeah, not much time. Also, my "heritage" home is a bottomless pit of maintenance, but kind of fun as the kids get involved.

I would say either you work remote, or work from home 1 day a week if you really like your current job. Is it possible to find a closer job? You can gain at least 1.5 to 2 hours hours a day right there.

kerrsclyde 3 days ago 0 replies      
You have to accept that your lifestyle is going to change. It really kicked in with me when my kids started school, the evenings became shorter and now with them as teenagers there is basically no time between them going to bed and me turning in.

I cut down my workload dramatically to spend more time with them and I don't regret it for a minute, they grow up so fast. I look at pictures only taken a couple of years ago and the change in them is vast.

You might look to commute less but working at home just didn't work for me, kids get home at 3:30pm and forget trying to concentrate after that. I can still find time in the mornings before they get up at 7:30 if I need it.

Enjoy the ride, for me (and we're all different) my family is more important than any side project.

vbsteven 3 days ago 6 replies      
Try to get rid of the commute. That's two wasted hours every day.

I have a similar 1hour commute but I only need to be in the office 1 day a week. On the other 4 days I get up at the same time (5:30-6:00am) and I work on my side projects until 8am when I bring my daughter to school and my home-work day starts.

ddorian43 3 days ago 1 reply      
1. Be good. 2. Be good enough to remote. 3. Move to someplace cheap (or be born there). 4. Work remote part-time while making a killing at the same time(compared to local). 5. Profit time with your new/current procured family.

My plan basically. Only step 5 to go.

roryisok 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like a few others here, I also work remote. Zero commute makes a big big difference. It means you can step away from work and instantly be at home. It also means you can see the wife and kids during coffee breaks. Also, instead of sitting in a canteen for your lunch hour you can spend it with the family. In my case, I'm lucky enough to live close to the sea so when the weather is good we can spend lunch on the beach.

I work on side projects in the evenings, and at the weekends. Having kids has impacted free-time, as it always will. In order to maximise productive time, I gave up video-games entirely.

up_and_up 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, I have 3 kids, 8,6, and 3.

> I commute every day 1 hour in each direction.

I know some people are stuck in this situation but I would really recommend finding something closer or getting a fully remote job.

I have had a 100% remote job for the past 5 years and it has made all the difference. I wake up, get the kids breakfast and then head over to the standing desk and get to work. Since we homeschool I always eat lunch and dinner with my kids. Working remotely is the only way this would be possible.

> where do you take time for your side projects or studying new technologies

I do this mainly on the job now, currently learning/implementing Terraform and studying for AWS exams. Take on new challenges at work etc. I also freelance, where I am exposed new tech and challenges.

> full stack developer

There are tons of remote jobs for that skillset, I really encourage you to look elsewhere.

indytechcook 3 days ago 0 replies      
The phrase "Having kids changes everything" is true.

I have 3 kids (8, 4 and 2). When I reflect on the past 8 years my most enjoyable experiences have been first with the kids, wife and friends.

I took steps to work from home after my first child was born. This has allowed me to work at a high demand start up and spend quality time with my family. Now I get to take "wrestle breaks." Best 20 minutes of my day.

Kids coupled with dieing grandparents help you to think about the big picture. I will not be one of those people on their deathbed wishing I spent more time with my family. Know what you have before you lose it.

ashark 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have three young kids. My experience has been:

1) sleep (a normal amount, not extra)

2) being an OK parent

3) a house that is almost always fairly clean

4) side projects/learning

5) friends

6) a relationship with your partner/spouse that's doing OK

7) actual solo leisure time

Pick four. :-/

[EDIT] Oh, and "staying halfway in shape" comes out of your "actual solo leisure time" hours or possibly "friends" hours if you have the right kind of friends for that.

jarpschop 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sorry for asking the pessimistic question, by no means do i intend to be a troll, but don't you think that it is irresponsible bringing children in to a world where you can't even take the free evenings after working 8+ hours and giving your best? (because you need to "stay competitive or something"). The developer culture of living to work (instead of the other way around) and being totally cool about it is something that still surprises me. I understand that you like coding (me too), but not having time to do anything else (not even raise a kid, watching a movie, reading a book or just resting) appears to you as something completely normal. I simply don't get that ideology (i mean, is like a type of slavery where the slave's hobby is precisely and just what he/she does for work). I say it as someone studying computer engineering.
abeyer 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know that everyone's situation is different, but I really don't get people who accept that kind of commute time unless it's something you want or you have no other options. (I know people who like to drive and get their only "alone time" in the car on the commute, so it works for them, but they tend to be the exception.)

If you value your time at $100/hr (probably low end of the spectrum for a skilled dev in most of the US), that comes to an opportunity cost of $4,000/month you're losing to driving back and forth. And that doesn't even start to account for the actual costs of driving, nor the mental energy of dealing with doing it. (I want to bang my head against the steering wheel after 30 mins in traffic, and then spend at least twice as long decompressing and not productive after that.)

I know that's very different than $4k cash for most people, but it's worth thinking about

watty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Having kids greatly reduced my free-time to work on side projects (or actual work). Getting married reduced my ability to move anywhere anytime or take risks freely. Buying a house with endless projects has also reduced my free time. If I was single and without children I'd probably be making more money at a different company. But I wouldn't be as happy.

Every choice that reduces your time spent developing affects your life as a developer. It doesn't mean you can't be a rockstar as a single dad with 5 kids but it may be harder. Ultimately you have to balance things that make you happy and work.

snadal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Father of two (aged 4 and 5) and running an small company of 14 developers.

Before they were born, I always reserved some tasks for weekends, and spend several hours coding at night during workdays.

It took me almost three years to realise that this was absolutely not compatible with family. I used to "steal" sleep time instead of family time, so I ended sleeping between 2 and 4 hours a day.Even productivity was good, I was always tired and in bad mood.

While it was really difficult to change long term habits, I work now from 9.00 to 17.30 with 15 minutes commute time, I dedicate most of my non working time to my kids and wife, and I am now a extremely happy person, and also the people closer to me :)

And productivity has grown because I can focus on the really important things, both at home and at work.

souprock 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have 10 kids, soon to be 11, and I homeschool.

So... that's how open source projects go to die, and the major reason why I no longer maintain procps. This was painful, but family comes first.

The concept of "quality time" is broken. You can't squeeze life into a few spare moments here and there, and you mostly can't schedule it. You have to live it, being there for the skinned knees that can happen at any moment. There is no substitute for being available.

Side projects are limited to things that can be done with kids. That changes as they grow.

Studying new technology is something I can do at work. I help invent it actually, and I dig into a wide variety of things, so that's fine. Maybe it is different for web developers; ouch if that is the case. I do low-level stuff.

A big difference is that I don't live or work in a "proper" city and haven't since I got married. I tend to live in the sort of place that is borderline big enough for a commercial airport, with perhaps 33,000 to 100,000 people at a density that is well below anything in the Bay Area. This lets me afford to live near work, and it means that there is little traffic. By car, my worst 1-way commute was 15 minutes. It's now about 3 minutes.

Compared to your hour-long commute, that 3 minutes is pretty much a rounding error. It's like I get an extra 10 hours of life per week. You have at most 4 hours for family on weekdays. Imagine if you had 6 hours instead.

I get that big-city life has more entertainment, but you don't seem to have time to take advantage of it.

gallamine 3 days ago 0 replies      
My family is my side-project, and I have to work daily to be content with that.

Which is to say, I give up side-projects in favor of them.

n1vz3r 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have two kids, one 6 years old, and another 4 months old. Since I cannot spend more time in the office, I'm required to be more productive. I discovered "less is more" principle this way - by putting in less time, I actually achieve more. Also, at home, ususally I have at most one hour to spend coding my semi-hobby project. And this way, I discovered that it can be a very productive hour. Another upside of having constantly inquiring "explain me like I'm five"-type son is that content of my brain's RAM is instantly swapped out several minutes after I pick him at kindergarten. Bottom line: I rest better; spend less time; I'm more productive. (and earn more money)
achou 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm a founder looking for ways to make my next startup family-friendly. I'm a parent of two sons in SF so I know what it's like. A grab bag of ideas so far:

- Allow parents to bring babies to work (0-6mo)

- Locate in suburbs where parents live instead of in the city

- Hire remote employees who work from home

- Establish a culture of taking an office break around 4-5pm then resume at 8pm for a couple hours

- Do social events during the day instead of after hours

- Suspend email delivery certain hours, such as 4-8pm, and on weekends until Sunday afternoon

- Same as above for real-time chat for most employees (some exceptions for things like sales)

- As an exception to above, have on-call schedules planned way in advance

- Flexibility on holidays to help synchronize with school schedules

Other thoughts?

batter 3 days ago 0 replies      
When you have no time for your family they become someone's else side/main project. Sometimes it's good. But mostly - not. That's why i don't have side projects besides my family.
feistypharit 3 days ago 0 replies      
I moved from full-time to stay at home dad with some consulting and side projects on the side. Family is #1, everything else is secondary. However, wife works, is well paid, and is a national expert in her field. We're In the Midwest.

Kids are essentially another full time job, with varied and unpredictable overtime.

itsoggy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have children with communication and social issues (ASD).

My side projects have changed from web apps things to:

Learning makaton.

Making and laminating pictures (PECS) so my youngest can use them to communicate.

Attending various classes relating to ASD.

Fixing IT and Telecoms for the various local charity organisations that support us.

You just have to play the hand your delt the best you can.

zer00eyz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, I'm going to make a suggestion that others may find silly and may not work for you...

You have two hours a day where you can't do anything but drive and think.

Audio notes are your friend, take them while your in the car.

What I find when I do this is that I don't really need to reference the notes after I take them! After reading this article ( http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/pointing-and-calling-ja... ) I think I understand why now.

When I get the time to work on my own stuff I find that I'm much more efficient with it than I would be if I was just sitting down to stare at a screen, and I can accomplish a lot in 15-20 minutes a day on side projects, or research, or ....

DharmaSoldat 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a newish dad and full stack dev. I've found that what's been most effective for me, aside from spending (admittedly, far too much) time coding in the evenings before sleep, is making a concerted effort to share whole-day responsibility of the kids on weekends. I'll take the kids on one day, my wife will take the kids on another day. We trade off during the week too so we can both have large stretches of uninterrupted time.

Exercise (and for me, meditation) are important balancers too - don't neglect them for the sake of coding, you'll find that you just get burnt out.

__d 3 days ago 1 reply      
I get up at 5:30am, shower, eat, and start at 6am. Work until 5pm, and then pick up my kid from daycare. Bath, cook dinner, kid's bedtime at 8pm. Do another 2-3 hours work.

Work from home, so no commute. Work 6-8am Thursday, and then rest of the day off to look after the kid. Usually do a couple of hours on a weekend night, depending on what my partner's doing.

I try to do side-projects, learn new stuff, etc, at nights. It doesn't work too well because I'm exhausted.

I switched to remote hourly contracting so I'd be able to take the Thursday off, but trying to fit in a full week's work on the other days is exhausting. Losing the commute was great; the social isolation and loss of work/home separation sucks.

I think it's just tough.

thatwebdude 2 days ago 0 replies      
Before I had kids my time management was absolute crap; so getting this together was key, and nearly made my days 25 or 26 hours long.

Your schedule seems about right. There's definitely worse ones out there. Assuming you have young kids, they will become more independent with time to allow you to have time back for yourself.

My schedule is nearly identical; although I do have to admit I'm about an hour later than you for everything.

To become a semi-successful parent (is that even a thing? We'll see in 18 years) who still gets shit done I've learned to simply utilize every idle moment. It allows me about an hour of extra time for something during the weekdays, and makes my weekends more efficient. I tend to sacrifice my own sleep when I really need more time for something and it usually works out okay, as long as I don't make it a habit for the week (or I'll feel sick, tired, or just unwilling to over-perform).

Right now, I'm going through a home renovation, so the process is slow but it's considered my "side-project". The nice thing about it is that I can involve my kids in it to keep them occupied and still get a little bit of something done.

For keeping up with tech, my pace at work is slow enough that I can continuously evolve the software I write with new technologies and best practices. Before I started where I'm at, I was at a much more fast-pace place which was fun and exciting; but absolutely damning to my home life because of all the other stuff I've got going on. (And nothing angers Mrs. and Kids more than coming home at 8 or 9pm frequently).

mrbonner 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had the same thoughts as you do now regarding not having enough time for my development career. My advise: spend as much time as you can with your kid! You will not be able to replay those moment when he/she grows up.
noir_lord 3 days ago 0 replies      
My GF and her little boy moved in with me recently, that was a shock to the system, I knew on a conceptual level how much time kids took but damn was I underestimating the effort required.

I try to keep him entertained as much as possible so that she gets some time for herself even its just a soak in the bath while we play xbox or something.

It's been fun and hardworking but I dont regret it either.

Fortunately they share custody so it's usually half week here, half week at his dads.

That recharge time is important and something a lot of parents never get.

laughfactory 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even without your insane commute, your description of your life sounds like mine. I'm a data scientist by trade, married, and father of three young ones (5, 2, and 4 months). My side project is writing (I've always wanted to be a published author), and it drives me looney always being so tapped out and exhausted. I try to enjoy family life while they're young because I know they'll become more independent as they get older, but man, when I'm too tired to do anything when my "alone time" rolls around after I get the older kids to bed, and when it seems my wife and I rarely get 1:1 time, it really makes me cranky and resentful. So the writing doesn't get done, and neither does any continuing education.

What I'm trying out is getting to bed earlier (hey, if I'm too tired to do the things I value then maybe I should just sleep!), and I'm starting to exercise. I've been told that exercise helps 1) sleep better, 2) feel better, and 3) gives you more energy. We'll see how it goes!

But yeah, try to figure out a way out of that commute. Some people are able to turn their commute into productive time, but I never had the knack. My understanding is that this phase is just that, a phase, and as the kids get older it will get easier in some ways.

ryanwaggoner 3 days ago 0 replies      
Being self employed has made things a lot easier for me, but two years into having kids, I'm still trying to break the bad habit of thinking "I'll get it done tonight / this weekend."

My wife and I do split things up in ways that make it easier. So we each have a morning off, a weeknight off, and we split the weekends so we each get 1-2 blocks of 4 hours. This is obviously a luxury that is easier with two parents, one kid, etc.

As my daughter turns two, I'm amazed at how quickly her personality is emerging and developing. I've spent a lot of time thinking abou a blog post I read years ago by some founder or investor who pointed out that you really only get about a decade with your kids. From toddler to early teen years where their lives start to diverge and they have their own need for independence. That really drove home the point that this is an incredibly fleeting time, and I have to pay attention and be present, because once it's gone, it's gone forever.

lucidlive 3 days ago 0 replies      
My life is close to yours. I have 2 young kids but I work from home. But here's how I swing it: I wake up at 4:00am and work till about 6am when my kids wake up. Then I'm back at it at 7am when my wife takes over with kids. I then work till anytime between 3pm and 5pm.

That's about 10 to 12 hours a day. It's a lot but I'm usually working on contract or my own business so I love my work.

I don't really believe in side projects. I believe in taking a plunge.

fusiongyro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Your biggest problem is your 2 hour commute. Move closer to work or find a job closer to your house and you'll have a huge increase in free time and energy.
ak39 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was my life till 2011 when I renegotiated my contract to work mornings only (5 hours). That gave me afternoons off with benefit of stress-free commute home.

It wasn't easy to get the arrangement but I started off with two days of the week at first and then upped it to all five days.

If you can tolerate reduction in income, that's a respectable arrangement to start off with.

agentultra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Partner, 2 kids, full time job. I get home, play with the kids, wash them and put them to bed. I usually work on side projects most evenings and spend an evening or two a week with my SO.

I usually budget 3 - 4 nights a week to side projects.

I saved most of my time by choosing to work remote/close-to-home. I don't make as much as some of my friends who live in the big city or out on the West coast. However I get to wake up at a reasonable hour, walk my kids to school, and stop by the caf on my way to work to catch up on the local gossip.

From about 8 - 11, 3... sometimes 4 nights a week I work on my side projects. I used to do more open source stuff but right now I'm working on a book [0] and testing the waters with a GraphQL service [1]. I've also committed myself to recording one, short, album a month.

It sounds like a lot but I guess being a parent I've learned to juggle and be effective with what little time I have. I tend to pre-plan my activities and force them into habits, rituals that sort of thing.

Some days I'm too exhausted. But that's ok. Take a little time off and go to bed early.

dyarosla 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just a comment on your side project: replacing the font would help tremendously.

Super hard to read through listings in a font not suited for legibility.

torte 3 days ago 0 replies      
Of course it affects my life. Now obviously the rest of the day and most of the weekend is either spend at work or home with my son (he is 3, so still needs more attention than older kids).

On the other side, I was never really into side projects in the evenings, simply because I needed that time to cool off and relax a bit. Without that time I would quickly burn out. The best is (and if you can) is to make your "side project" your day job.

The question is still if it actually affected me as a developer in the sense that I can not do the work anymore? No, it did not. I leave work earlier but that's pretty much it. I don't feel less productive than before. Actually I even think I am more productive since the time is more limited. It is all about what you make of it I believe.

godot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having gotten married recently, things have already changed quite a bit, before even having kids. I have a similar job and commute as you do.

I also recently had the opportunity to change jobs and made it a point to join a place that doesn't believe in working long hours and staying late. (I used to work in an infamous place for long hours, then I left that to cofound my own startup which was again long hours even if more flexible.) My team here is totally fine with my 9:30-6:00 schedule with working from home 1 day of the week. This is currently how I balance it. I predict having kids will throw a wrench at this scheduling again and I'll have to re-adjust. As for side projects, it's pretty much fitting it in spare minutes on the train commute, when the wife showers, etc.

buf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was the CTO of a series-A backed startup. My entire life changed when I had my kid, and I decided to quit my job and live cheaply in eastern Europe for about 6 months. You can read about it here: https://medium.com/@buf/experimenting-with-retirement-ef6ab0... tl;dr - I retired, and it was amazing.

Since, I've come back to the States and I think I've figured out a good balance. I work remotely now, so I can spend time with the family and watch the kid grow daily. Sure, I won't be a CTO anymore the next few years, but it gives me time to take on a reasonable amount of work.

I think I'll do this for a few more years.

mixmastamyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not much time, eh? ;-)

Well, I see one obvious thing to cut without sacrificing your work or children, and that is the commute. Get yourself a gig that you can walk/bike in a short amount of time. Choose it well and you'll get exercise too.

Now, I know what you're thinking right now, I can't! Because of X, Y, and Z. Sure, understood in the short term. But, ask yourself where you want to be in a year or two?

If you start looking now, you can find a closer or remote job, or move home to be near a great job---over the medium term. Want to know how I know? Because, I've been doing it for twenty years. So when people say, "oh, I couldn't possibly" BS is called quickly. Good luck.

rapsacnz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your commute is costing you around 10K per year, just for direct costs such as car and fuel.Then you have indirect costs such as: -lost time which you can probably put a dollar figure on (esp if you are using some of that time for a side project that may one day have value)Then finally there are the intangible costs: -lower fitness, meaning more sickness, more medical bills. -a less fullfilling relationship with your wife and kids -stress of the commute, also contributing to poor health.

Basically you should go to your boss, if possible and ask to work from home - you could even take a 10K pay cut and it would make no difference financially.

I've worked from home for 10+ years and it's great. You should do it if at all possible.

xLFC 2 days ago 0 replies      
IMO the silver bullet is to find a job that eliminates your need for side projects and studying new technologies. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's definitely not impossible.
jaboutboul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Forget about developing and side projects. How do people keep up with learning new things and staying on top of things. Its very hard to learn new tools, frameworks or even stay current in 30min/night, and when youre not exhausted.
hosh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I work remote at an early-stage startup. My wife recently regained custody of her 12-year-old daughter. Our daughter is on the Autism spectrum, and when combined with emotional issues and an entitlement attitude, this has not only consumed my time, but my wife's as well. It's a full-time job for two parents.

My "side projects" encompasses more than than software programming -- martial arts, meditation, biking, etc. I used to be able to do a lot of things, but I can't anymore. My step-daughter comes home around 15:30 and it tends to go on until around 21:30. More if there was a meltdown or some sort of family drama (which, in the past few months have happened frequently, but thankfully, is trending less now). I've had to take over getting her up in the morning -- both my wife and my wife's mother have had significant trouble getting her out of bed, showered, dressed and ready for school. Likewise for getting ready for bed.

I've had to accept that my life and lifestyle has changed. (I thought I was prepared for it; I wasn't). I've had to work through a lot of things myself, including periodic, arising feelings of resentment that is toxic to a child growing up. The meditation helps, but ultimately, I had to accept change and the fact that I am not as in control of my life as I used to be.

I had also been working with her a lot on homework -- to stop doing her math and reading like she is mashing buttons while playing a video game. I quickly found that there are even more basic wisdom and skills that my daughter never learned: what it means to be a part of a community; what responsibility means; what respect and speaking respectfully means. We've also been trying to wean her off of the meds and learn how to process her emotions.

Over time, I've been coaching her through different things. Our current theme is "organization" -- how to organize her time, how to organize her things, how to check things off a list by herself instead of "mashing buttons" (she has a tendency to try something to quickly satisfy what she perceives as what my wife or I wants instead of thinking things through, or methodically checking through things). The idea is to transfer more and more responsibility for herself to her rather than helicopter parenting and enabling this attitude of "parents are service providers". It takes time, it's bearing fruit, and this process goes at its own pace.

And yeah, at the end of the night, I'm exhausted too.

Some five years back, I got into an internet flame-war with someone about this. He was working 60-hour weeks with kids, trapped in his job, and I was talking about side-projects. I was single with a lot of mobility. Joke's on me.

petercooper 3 days ago 0 replies      
I get a lot done. Having more responsibilities means I focus more and dilly-dally less. I focus on what's important. What I lose in hours, I gain in ambition and focus.
wheaties 3 days ago 0 replies      
From 5:30am-9pm my hours are for work, commute, family and chores. My wife usually falls asleep at 9:30-10. If I feel rested, I'll hack for 30min-1hr most nights.

On the weekend, we both make sure the other has "my time." It's important. I used to get 2hrs+ a night to hack. My productivity at work wasn't nearly as good as it is now. I don't miss it. I like family life way more. My life as a developer has never been better.

billdueber 3 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of parents really, really like having kids. The ROI on having children is, for them, so self-evident that they don't really think about it. But that's not true for everyone, esp. if you were old enough to be pretty fully-formed by the time you became a father. Kids come at a huge cost. You're exhausted from dealing with them, and in the meantime you're probably not exercising, and you're eating like crap, and, inevitably, just plain getting older.

Step 1 is to reconcile your ideal of who you'll be in the future -- what job, how smart, how influential, etc. -- with the resources actually available to you now. I had to downshift considerably.

Your kids aren't going away, and you're not going to be able to sustain what you're doing now until they get old enough. You need to make a change, and soon, because if you don't you're going to end up wondering how and why you mortgaged your life to your goddamn kids.

I have three boys: 5, 8, and 10. For my first six years of having kids, every time someone told me to "enjoy them while you can" I wanted to punch that person in the throat. I knew they were right, but there are days when that's just not even in the realm of possibility.

There are a lot of parents who are tired, and sick of walking on dropped cereal, and miss being able to pick an actual restaurant that serves actual grown-up food. But there's also a huge societal more to not talk about it, or to aways end with something like, "But it's so worth it," or "It's the hardest job I've ever loved," especially for women. But while it's almost certainly "worth it" for the majority of parents the majority of the time, there are going to be days when it's just NOT.

The clich is that "The years are short, but the days are long." It's true. In hindsight, the fact that I have a ten-year-old seems insane -- how could it have been ten years? What the hell have I been doing for the last decade? Do I even remember life before kids -- what it was like to just have a wife, to set my own schedule?

At the same time, every night at 6:30pm I find myself asking, "How can it only be 6:30?"

I spent a good number of years just basically resenting the crap out of my boys, which is about as healthy as you might guess. I hated dealing with my kids, hating myself for hating dealing with my kids, and knew I'd hate myself later for not enjoying the young-kid experience while I could. I, my kids, and my wife all suffered.

Now I've got therapy and some drugs and a CPAP, and things are better. Not every day, but most days. Well, many days.

Kids completely take over your life, at least for a while, and it's almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your job -- your JOB -- is to figure out how to enjoy them now so that the sacrifices are worth it to you.

rvanmil 3 days ago 0 replies      
I struggled with this for a while too, but I quickly realized spending time with the family is a lot more fun than side projects.

Also, I'm surprised no one has suggested daylighting [1] yet, it can be a reasonable option if your employer pays you to deliver instead of keeping a chair warm for 8 hours.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14217849

pfarnsworth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, same here. Having kids completely destroyed my productivity. I now understand why people like to spend money on apps like Farmville, because it's mindless and you don't feel stress. I feel the same way with reading reddit and HN at night, because I'm too tired to think about reading. If I pick up a book, I'll fall asleep within about 15 mins. So it's hard.
misterbwong 3 days ago 0 replies      

1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize,

2. You'll never have enough time.

3. Timeshift and batch up tasks

4. Trade money for time.

Father of 2 kids (3 and 6mo) here. RUTHLESS prioritization has been critical in helping me reach my goals. Having the two kiddos has taught me to be absolutely ruthless and efficient with my time. Prioritization is the key and saying no is something you need to get used to. I'm a people-pleaser at heart so this has been a difficult transition but, after accepting that I can't say yes to everyone and everything, I've been able to make more progress towards my goals.

There aren't enough hours in the day to do all that you want. Period. You need to take a hard look at every single activity you do and decide whether it's worth spending time on. If something isn't in the Top 3 of your priorities for the day, drop it and don't even consider it. Trying to do everything ends up wasting time because you end up having to half-ass everything. Time is precious.

Timeshift and batch tasks. Pre-plan what you can so that you can be present for whatever it is you are doing. Meal plan your week in advance so you don't waste time deciding what to cook. Decide on what you're going to wear for the week in advance to speed up your morning routine. Have your kids do the same (mine actually likes it).

Learn to delegate to trade money for time, at least temporarily, if you have the resources. Hire a gardener, hire a house cleaner, hire a VA, outsource any tasks that can be outsourced. Deliver food if necessary. If I said you could buy an extra hour a day for $20, would you? I certainly would (and do).

Side note: HUGE props to the single parents out there. Don't think I could handle two w/o my (awesome!) SO.

sunpazed 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have three kids under 5 years, and I've been more productive than ever. Mostly due to the fact that my wife and I aren't spending time socialising after hours or on the weekend.

Once the kids are in bed, there's not much to do on a Friday or Saturday night. As a result, in the last 5 years I've built and launched several small side-projects.

fivestar 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can do that indefinitely, or until you suffer a psychotic break. Either way, you'll be fine.
bsvalley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yep. That's why when you reach this milestone, you ain't care about the name of a company, if the product is hot or not. All you care about are

- ability to work from home

- not too competitive environment (otherwise you'd get put aside by young people)

- good health coverage

j_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
Related discussion 2 months ago:

Ask HN: Developers with kids, how do you skill up? | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13816627

naviehuynh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am not in such situation (yet), but if I were you, I would probably learn new technologies just for fun. Side projects require some level of commitment to yield results, which is admittedly hard when you have kids already.
tmaly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have the option to take the train to work, so that gives me a solid 2 hours a day to hack on my side project.

I would have to say my time hacking on a project is more focused with kids. You have to be if you want to get things done.

bsvalley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lifecycle of a software engineer:

10-20 years old = if Zuckerberg then stop here, else:

20-30 years old = Best perk, best company, best project

30-40 years old = Work from home, short commute, less work

40-60 years old = QA or maintain legacy code

thatwebdude 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe this side project obsession we all have stems from most things being easy to us? Too many people trying to be Tony Stark?
TYPE_FASTER 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some nights I work on something else from 8/9pm to 11pm/12am. Other nights I recover. Weekends are tough to get time.
Steeeve 3 days ago 1 reply      
I keep reading about software developers who sleep every night and work 8 hour days. Both are completely foreign concepts to me.
peterarmstrong 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pro-tip: Figure out a way to work from home some days. You'd save 2-3 hours. Give one to your company and one to yourself.
brockers 3 days ago 0 replies      
If it didn't then you are probably doing one or the other wrong.
Ask HN: What is your home media PC setup?
25 points by joshwcomeau  11 hours ago   42 comments top 31
jason_slack 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Mac Mini with a Drobo (30tb raw space - 6tb x 5). I have it setup with double redundancy so the space is about 12tb less. Currently using about 11tb. This Mac Mini also does other things like web hosting, file sharing, XCode build, cache, Software Update, etc.

Apple TV and iOS devices to view the content.

I have iTunes content from about 2007 along with DVD's I own that I have ripped

cdubzzz 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
RPi w/RetroPi, which also integrates Kodi, and a 4TB USB-powered hard drive. Also two 8bitdo SNES style controllers for gaming and controlling Kodi. They are wonderful.

I only recently added Kodi to RPi and it's really nice. I used to have two 2GB MyBook drives with external power and they were very bulky. I would hook them up to my Bluray player with it's massively shitty interface. The new drive is maybe a quarter the size of one of them and Kodi is beyond simple to use.

ja27 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Plex server on an old i3 laptop with a broken screen and some external USB disks.

Plays in the Plex app or browser on everyone's devices, AppleTV, Fire TV Stick, Vizio TV, etc.

devonkim 8 hours ago 0 replies      
You can give Plex a try if you have a number of lightweight clients you'd like to consume your media through. There's several competing media servers with different priorities but Plex is rather dominant nowadays if you don't mind spending a little money for some conveniences.

I've used Plex in a VM and a ZFS based NAS for nearly 4 years now and have had relatively few problems. I've used Android, iOS, Windows, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and MacOS clients all with decently usable results. The hardest thing to deal with in Plex is mostly about sizing your server for the amount of transcoded streams you'll need. With Kodi, this concern is mostly relegated to the client. While mobile computing capabilities have gotten greater the fundamental problem I ran into for years was that no one device will play everything correctly besides a PC. As such, a transcoding server from a PC (even though Plex has several server options including nVidia Shield and some NAS devices) makes the most sense for compatibility across all random media files you could obtain online. Otherwise, your network transfer speed matters still just like with Kodi and a lot of people's wireless setups are just really bad that get glossed over when using streaming native media like from Amazon and Netflix.

trelliscoded 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I just have a windows 10 machine plugged into the TV. I have a server farm upstairs with plenty of storage for archives of TV shows if I want them, but these days I can get pretty much anything I want from one of the streaming services online.

I also have a glass table between the couch and the TV, so a dark field mouse is required if I'm doing anything that needs a real mouse. For everything else I just use a wireless keyboard/trackpad combo from Logitech.

pjc50 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Mini PC: http://www.gearbest.com/tv-box-mini-pc/pp_376410.html (not especially fast but it will just about do 4k)

I have a slightly different requirement: I want to

a) watch and record broadcast TV

b) watch youtube/iplayer/amazon

c) watch other random TV and streaming websites (Eurovision selection shows, my wife is a huge fan)

This leads to Windows, and the best solution for recording TV there actually seems to be Windows Media Centre ("ehome"). Unfortunately this is 7 only, so I'm going to try installing a version that's been hacked by the community to run on Win10.

Most of the HTPC software seems to have PVR as an afterthought, where it's either very hard to set up or unreliable. I never want to see tvheadend's web interface again.

la_fayette 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I tried to have a good and not expensive approach on that. So in my opinion i have a quite conservative setting.

I have a raspberry pi 3 with osmc installed via noobs at startup. Additionally I bought a DVB-S USB Stick (http://sundtek.com/shop/Digital-TV-Sticks/Sundtek-SkyTV-Ulti...) for germany. A standard TV is connected via HDMI. I use a KODI android app as a remote control.

Additionally I have bought 1 TB NAS on ebay in the cellar which is connected via network cable to the wifi router.

Without TV I had total cost of approximately 300

I have connected all music services (soundcloud, etc), all mediathek services of german and austria television providers. Also youtube and vimeo. Everything works great and was extremely low cost, i would say.

zamalek 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hardware: NAS, Raspberry Pi 2, Logitech diNovo, PC.

Software: Kodi+Exodus, Plex, Moonlight (+ Steam on the PC).

I do everything that the Pi can do directly on the Pi (which is a lot). For every other purpose (including games), I stream from my PC with Steam in-home streaming.

swalladge 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I have an Intel NUC set up with Kodi (formerly XBMC) on linux. Able to connect to remote samba shares for serving media, kodi has plenty of extensions and features so you can use it with youtube, radio streams, weather, photos, etc. when not watching video. Also the NUC I have has an IR receiver so a normal tv remote can be used to control kodi (big plus).

Another thing that's nice about setting up a full computer over an android based media device is that you have a fairly decent computer directly connected to the tv to use when/if you have to.

nailer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I've had a variety of XBMC, Plex, Windows Media Center (hacked to run on Windows 10 and with a variety of mods), various multichannel TV tuners, cable card readers, DLNA devices, dinovo mini keyboards, reprogrammable remotes, etc.

I currently use an Amazon Fire TV, as fighting an endless war with content creators to steal their content is a waste of my time (I also really like the voice search on the Fire devices).

I pay for films, and most TV, but steal Game of Thrones since, bizarrely, it's not available in full HD via Sky's app. In that case, I play it via DLNA.

rcalafato 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Synology 1513+ running Plex Server and a FireTV Box stuck to every TV in the house. All of my media is stored on the Synology (5x 4TB drives).

I also have one of the less used PCs in the house running Plex Server, and we connect to that for viewing Plex Channels (basically, plugins that front-end NBC.com, ABC.com, and a bunch of other services) to take some of the transcoding load off the Synology.

I have a lifetime subscription to Plex.tv and LOVE the service. The only thing I'd like to improve about my set up is the processor in the Synology, which is too slow to transcode on the fly so I have to target my encodes to my current hardware and rerip when my clients get more capable.

squarefoot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Raspberry PI 3 plus LibreElec.Cheap, consumes a lot less than a PC and plays everything I can throw at it. I would definitely use different boards for non video related tasks, but in this context the RPi still is the one to go for non trivial reasons such as full CEC support and video acceleration.

The home NAS is a MiniITX board with multiple SATA ports and NAS4Free.

mavidser 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Raspberry Pi 3 running OSMC. Connect an external HDD and plug it to your TV. I use Yatse on Android to control it. It also doubles up as a NAS if you want to watch movies on other devices.
nsouto 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My setup is based on Roku devices connected to a Freenas server with 12x 3Tb HDD on a RaidZ2 setup to store all the media which is then served through Plex Media Server. It works very well and I've had no problems with this setup aside from a hard drive dying on me every once in a while.

Plex also has an option to use Google Drive or Dropbox and others as a storage medium through their new (although only for the premium Plex Pass holders) Plex Cloud (it's also possible to roll your own though, i've written about it here: https://nunosouto.com/blog/how-to-install-plex-cloud)

qerim 3 hours ago 2 replies      
HP Microserver Gen8 with:

> Debian 8

> Xeon E3-1260L

> 12 GB RAM

> 120GB SSD (OS), 2 x 3TB WD RED (Data), 2 x 4TB HGST (Movies/TV Shows)

> Plex (Movies, TV Shows, Music, Photos)

> CouchPotato (Movie Downloading)

> Transmission (Torrents)

> CrashPlan (backups)

> Raspberry Pi Camera Streams (samba share)

> + more stuff

All these applications run in their own docker containers. I used to do local web development in a virtual machine, now it all sits on this server. Love it and it works 'magically'.

Connected to the TV is a Quad-core android TV Box.

fuzzygroup 5 hours ago 1 reply      
All my flat panel TVs have Roku 3 boxes (I don't see the need for 4K video since most of my content isn't 4K). I took a 2010 15" MacBook running 3 versions of OSX behind Seira and that runs Plex Media Server. This setup gives us easy access to Netflix, Amazon Prime as well as local content sourced from DVDs we own. Plex also lets us share videos created from our phones as well but that's probably its weakest feature.
mmanfrin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Shield TV. Hands down the best steamer you can get. And on top of the streaming benefits, the game stream function is legitimately good. Input lag was not really noticable, even when playing something like rocket league. When I bought it, I went from three devices (Kodi box, Chromecast, Fire TV) to one.
jlebrech 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Android TV with Plex and Kodi, and a Mac with Plex server installed. I really need a Plex capable NAS to not have to wake up my mac.
PebblesHD 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It used to be a 5m HDMI cable from my workstation to my TV with super+p bound to output all to HDMI. Worked reasonably well but became cumbersome when I wanted to use my PC whilst playing media. Currently, I have a tiny Linux box running in my media unit with a Plex client and a Plex server running on my NAS to store everything. Everything is now controlled from a Bluetooth remote for the interface so it's generally pretty resilient. So far the only issue has been transcoding and playing back >1080p media, struggles a bit to keep up, but I suspect the atom in the NAS is as much to blame as the Linux box. Kodi/XBMC could work well in this case as a client as long as sharing was properly configured from Plex server.
abrookewood 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty simple: XBMC/Kodi on Amazon FireTV, connected to Samba share running on my NAS (Ubuntu with ZFS running on HP Microserver). Kodi pretty much plays anything.
Gustomaximus 8 hours ago 0 replies      
2 Roku's and an old laptop running plex. I'd like to move to a central setup with general file storage at some point. Potentially even tie in to be more of a home hub with power tracking etc.

A deal-breaker would be losing remotes that Roku offer (or similar alternatives) as they make media viewing simple and easy for adults, kids and guests alike.

dagw 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally I'm using a Playstation 3 and Plex. Maybe not the most sexy of solutions, but it's cheap, has worked flawlessly for years and I can even play games on it if the mood takes me.
pilooch 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Rasp3 running openelec / kodi, never looked back. All Open Source, not snooping on you :)
jazzdog 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple TV and a Mac that I use to stream movies to the Apple TV.
jdmoreira 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I just have the latest Apple Tv
drKarl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A 2010 Mac mini connected to the TV and Logitech keyboard with trackpad
MihailBurduja 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Raspberry Pi 3 + OSMC (Kodi) + 2 HDD connected to the router.
tony-allan 6 hours ago 0 replies      
TV -- Raspberry Pi 2 / Raspbian / Kodi -- 3TB disk

Remote control with Kodi iOS apps.

murxmaster 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I like MythTV: a client/server based TV-Recording application. Very good at planning recordings, avoiding conflicts etc. MythTv ss able to handle multiple sources (Cable, Satellit, IP-TV, DVB ... , to play DVD and much more.
cyberjunkie 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Raspberry Pi 2 running OpenELEC (Kodi), with a large USB HDD attached. It doubles as my NAS.
dominotw 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Kernel Devs, how did you get started?
18 points by zabana  2 days ago   3 comments top 3
Artlav 1 day ago 0 replies      
Once upon a time a kid me realized that anything he put in autoexec.bat gets executed when the computer boots. Soon after i figured out how to do branching and input and made a start-menu-of-a-sorts thingy. It only went downhill from there.

In other words, it just so happened that my first programming project and interest turned out to be an OS. Took me about 6 years and 12 attempts to actually succeed at making a usable one.

Eventually that interest driven my choice of department in the late university, and the OS i made was shown off at my first job interview. I got the job, and that's how i got to writing Linux drivers and kernel tweaks for high-performance (mid-TOP500-ish level) machines for a few years.

malux85 1 day ago 0 replies      
Around 2000-ish I had a USB webcam that didn't work. I could already code in C, so I learnt the USB subsystem, then onto kernel drivers, then into filesystems when I decided to write a FAT32 implementation (for learning)
SunnySkies 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Huh, I was assigned to Windows km development for my first ever internship. I had a decent amount of winternal and cpp experience, but it really is a different ball park and made me a much better computer scientist.
Ask HN: LinkedIn got my Google Contacts how do they do that?
45 points by tlogan  2 days ago   18 comments top 13
jmathai 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's not required for you to give LinkedIn access to your contacts for them to know you're connected with someone else.

* Your friend may have given LinkedIn access to their contacts and now LinkedIn will start spamming you to connect with them.

* You have a friend-a and friend-b who both gave LinkedIn access to their contacts. You're in friend-a's contacts but not in friend-b's. LinkedIn can assume there's higher than random chance that you know friend-b. LinkedIn will probably try to spam both of you to connect with one another. Why not, right?

* You have a friend-a and friend-b and friend-c who all gave LinkedIn access to their contacts and you're on all 3 but none of them are in each others. LinkedIn will probably try and spam all 4 of you to add each other.

There's prolly plenty more and a team at LinkedIn focusing on just this. Anyone else care to add clever ways to infer connections?

gregschlom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of these people may have allowed LinkedIn to scan _their_ contacts and you were one of them.
tyingq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Other commenters mentioned it could have been constructed in the reverse direction.

But, they did have some dark patterns you might have missed: https://medium.com/@danrschlosser/linkedin-dark-patterns-3ae...

tlogan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think I figured out this. I'm occasionally using outlook on my iPhone to access my Gmail. And Microsoft owns LinkedIn so this makes complete sense ...
aphextron 2 days ago 0 replies      
You must have unwittingly opted in at some point. Linkedin is really scammy when it comes to harvesting people's contacts and sending nonstop notifications. They prompt you to add all your device and email contacts at every chance they get.
JacobiX 2 days ago 0 replies      
They can use other people's contact lists (users on LinkedIn who shared their contacts) and you surely will be on some of them.
Nanite 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also their definition of "google contacts" is extremely broad. During the time I allowed LinkedIn access to gmail contacts, I suddenly noticed a ton of my neighbors in my building being suggested to connect to. People I never had any direct mail conversations with. Turns out our tenant mailing list was sent out once by accident as CC vs BCC, so it seems even the CC field contents count as "contacts".
rdlecler1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I gave LinkedIn access to my contacts. What they also did was to send an email referencing every sender email I use (and I use several dozen all from our corporate domain), effectively spaming new and existing contacts with the same request. They also seem to have sent emails to any email that's ever been on a thread... won't be doing that again...
jaimex2 2 days ago 0 replies      
CyanogenMod/Lineage Android roms have a nice feature called privacy guard. I always use it on all social media apps because I know they pull my contacts and upload them.

The feature basically just gives back empty results when the app tries to access, I wish it just fed it back garbage made up accounts.

Spooky23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Outlook has a connector to LinkedIn that can get mysteriously enabled.
sepbot 2 days ago 0 replies      
They got my contacts because several years ago my Android phone upgraded to a new version that had removed the privacy guard feature. OTA, never again.
fragmede 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also, considering that bit about unroll.me that came out recently, are there any (non-linked-in) apps that you've authorized to see your contacts? Those services may have sold your address book to LinkedIn.
I_am_neo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Don't use what you don't trust
Ask HN: Is there any mature development platform for Augument Reality?
7 points by sammyjiang  2 days ago   2 comments top 2
JimmyAustin 1 day ago 0 replies      
For proper AR, Hololens is close to your only bet.

For Pokemon Go style, I think Unity might be the best option, but I don't take my word for it.

shusson 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about Android or iOS?
Ask HN: How much have you saved for retirement?
37 points by whitefish  21 hours ago   49 comments top 17
super-serial 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Nothing... because methane in the arctic will end human civilization by then. http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html?m=1

It makes more sense to take big risks with money and then use any big payoffs to help geoengineering efforts or prepare for living in a bunker. That may sound silly but some rich people are already doing that:http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/30/doomsday-prep-f...

whack 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe the guideline is that in order to enjoy a $X/year retirement income (adjusted annually for inflation), you need a nest egg of $25X. So if you'd like to retire with $100k/year, $2.5M would do it. And even less if you are willing to factor in social security income.

If you adopt a buy-and-hold investment strategy over the course of 20-30 years, with a good mix of index funds, the above should be easily within reach.

bsvalley 17 hours ago 2 replies      
If you live in a place like the Bay Area, the best retirement plan involves these 4 steps:

1. Owning a home in the Bay Area by the time you retire. No mortgage, no rent. Just bills.

2. Sell that place when you retire in order to move to a cheaper location. Use whatever's left from the sale of your home as an income for the rest of your life. Let's take a $800K home for example, if you make $150K per year, you may qualify after 2-3 years by saving as much cash as you can for a down payment. That house/condo might be worth 1.5 to 2 million dollars in 30 years from now, who knows? Despite the inflation, if you sale it for say $1.5, after tax and real estate fee you might end up with $1.2 net. This is not income money. You could then buy a $500K house somewhere cheap, then use the remaining $700K as part of your retirement money, which brings in $35K net per year for 20 years. This is roughly the equivalent of $50K gross income per year.

3. Make sure to add a little bit in your personal saving account every month, even if it's $100-$500 it's fair enough on a 30 year period.

4. Make sure you add up a little bit in your 401K.

The combination of all 4 will maximize your retirement while leaving in your own place. Real estate in a place like the Bay Area is the best investment because of the location. It doesn't matter if it's a tiny 1 bedroom in San Francisco or a crappy old house in South Bay, it will hold its value over the years and will most likely help you moving to a cheaper place with a lot of cash in hands.

DamonHD 20 hours ago 1 reply      
In the UK the (usual) limit you can have in your pension fund is now 1m.

I would expect to have about 20 times whatever I wanted to live on per year, and that yearly amount would high enough above what I know is enough to be comfortable. The state pension should kick in something too.

However, I don't expect to completely retire at any point though legally I currently could in only 5 years' time (then another 10 years or so to state pension age). So if I'm not doing a reasonable amount of work and keeping my brain active at 70 I would be disappointed.

kolijila 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm 24 and have 10k in Wealthsimple because I can't be bothered to learn more about how to manage my investments myself right now (and I've been a dumbass with money for the past 6 years).

WS tells me I'll have ~$5,222,649 when I'm 65 if I continually add $5k/mo to my invesments.

They say "We include your scheduled contributions into this projection and assume a return of 5.1-5.45% on stocks and 0.74-1.05% on bonds after 0.5% fees. The impact of taxes is not included. Actual returns may differ."

My ideal plan is to have ~$600k+ in investments and withdraw 1-2%/yr to cover food costs. I'm looking at some 200-300 acre stretches of land for around $150k~ in Canada where I plan to build a house myself. Looking to hookup solar and for a freshwater lake to be running through the land. The goal is to self sustain for however long I need to so I can think and work on my hobbies without the overhead of rent/career.

I feel like trying to scrape together an hour or two here and there for a hobby doesn't do anything for me because I'm working on things that require large stretches of uninterrupted time over the span of weeks/months.

cbanek 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm 35, and have been saving for retirement and maxing out my 401(k) ever since I started working. I don't think I'll ever have 4 million dollars in my retirement account, but I think (hope?) I'll be fine.

I think it's the numbers that are suspect in this analysis.

1. The calculator asks for your salary, then uses your current salary to determine your need for money in retirement. If you're saving 20% of your salary, then really you are only living on 80%, and that 80% should be used as your 'living expenses money'.

(fine print of calculator: We then assume you can live comfortably off of 85% of your pre-retirement income. So if you earn $100,000 the year you retire, we estimate you will need $85,000 during the first year of retirement.

I think it should be at least 85% of what you're not saving. For example, if you're making 100k, saving 20k, then really you should take 85% of 80k, which is 68 - not 85.

Also costs change as you get older. While you may spend more for health care, you hopefully won't have to pay rent, for raising children, etc.

Finally, they seem to say they want to take all the money and purchase an annuity. It seems like as soon as you retire, your money stops growing (other than for inflation) because of the annuity, but if you kept that money growing while you were retired, it would probably be even less.

Really the big trouble is you can't rely on ever increasing markets with some 7% yearly rate of return. It could be higher, it could be lower. If it's lower for a long time, basically the US retirement systems (both 401k and pension) are in huge trouble.

closeparen 16 hours ago 1 reply      
$0. I'm focused on building a six-month emergency fund first.

I don't need anything approaching 100% income replacement, as it would make no sense to pay exorbitant rent for proximity to jobs as a retiree.

I doubt I'll save enough over my lifetime (outside of 401k) to scratch a down payment on a Bay Area 1-bedroom condo, but it'll be more than sufficient to buy a palace for cash anywhere else the moment I don't need to live here anymore.

(I have worked in Midwestern IT cost centers, never again).

cm2012 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Less than 2% of the US will ever see anything near $4 million in their bank account.

Most people would consider it a LOT to save $20k a year, which would be well under a million by retirement.

Artlav 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> Ballpark, you make about $100k a year in your 20s

I'm green with envy... With that much money i could have probably retire right now at 30, and i'm half way there.

Then again, i live in a country with free medicine, free education, no lawyers, a recently-ended oversupply of housing leaving me with 1.5 apartments and a house from grand-grand parents who "moved on", and all bills and necessities coverable by about $2k a year, so i'm not sure if i have a right to be envious.

More to the point, i keep the money scattered around - foreign currencies, gold, crypto, etc, to avoid losing all at once and staying ahead of the inflation. I don't expect to ever become a millionaire, barring a lucky investment or something.

warsharks 17 hours ago 0 replies      
absolutely zero, i have very little chance of surviving to retirement age and even if i do i cant imagine id have any desire to not carry on working, its not like im a bricklayer, chances are ill still be able to type and as long as i can do that ill be working
mikestew 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This blog post says as a Software Engineer working in the US you should have $4 Million in savings to have the same income, in retirement, as a fresh software engineer

Fidelity is always telling me I need some ungodly amount of money saved in order to continue the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed. I don't need that much. Here's what my current income pays for that won't be an issue in retirement:

1. Maxed out 401K at $18K/year. The wife's doing the same.

2. $3K a month paid to mortgage principal, in addition to the house payment. (It is financially unwise to pay down a 2.5% loan quickly, but I'm not retiring with a house payment.)

3. Commuting expenses.

4. A hell of a lot more eating out than I plan to do in retirement.

5. My current tax rate. A lower tax rate in retirement is the whole basis of the appeal of tax-deferred accounts.

And let me give you some anecdata to work with as you ponder your starvation in retirement: my parents. Mom just bought a brand new Corvette last year. Dad is talking about a new $65K truck to replace the one they bought just a few years ago. The just bought a new $35K fifth wheel camper this year. A large, long-paid-off house on six acres in Florida. Lots of camping trips, which means feeding that hungry diesel truck that's pulling that fifth wheel, and camp spots with hook-ups ain't cheap. Maybe it's not how kings live, but I'd have no problem with the lifestyle. They're in their 70s now, I don't see the money running out any time soon.

And they retired in their 50s with about a million dollars.

You'll need $4 million if you still hold a mortgage in the Bay Area and you're stilling hitting the $EXPENSIVE_NIGHT_SPOT thrice a week, while having Uber Eats delivery your dinner every night. Which you won't be doing when you're 55 or 65 if you have any sense. Which means you don't need anywhere near $4 million.

To get to answering your question, I plan a minimum of $1 million, and a max of $2 million, when we retire. We're not going to continue to live in Redmond, WA, I don't think. Taxes are pretty good, IMO, but we'll sell the Redmond house and buy something in, say, Bellingham and pocket the difference. I have absolutely no reason to believe we'll be anything other than just fine and dandy. Especially considering that the median person of our mid-50s age has less than a tenth of our current savings, and you don't see masses of retired people starving in the streets, do you?

Eridrus 20 hours ago 1 reply      
That's a bit of an odd analysis.

The biggest chunk of my income is eaten up by taxes and rent. Once you've retired and your only income is from long term capital gains, taxes are much less of an issue and hopefully you've purchased a home so you don't need to rent. It also ignores social security, which based on the quick calculator at ssa.gov seems to be not an insubstantial amount, though I get that people don't want to count on that.

On the flip side, it completely ignores inflation which may mean that while your savings may be very large compared to how much you need to live today, they may not be adequate 30-40 years from now.

Without a good estimate for what your expenses will actually be, the number you "need" turns out to be complete nonsense IMO.

cko 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> When you do pay taxes on the money in retirement, your tax rate will likely be lower.

The only reason it will be lower is if income is lower.

Some people say to not contribute more than the match, because you end up paying more taxes in retirement (taxed as income) than if you just ate the taxes first and paid capital gains on it later.

bko 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm too young to consider my savings as retirement, but I created a handy spreadsheet that allows you to estimate how much you'll have by the time you retire.


Feel free to point out bugs or copy and add features.

TheAdamAndChe 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm 23. I have a goal of $2.4 million dollars by age 60. I currently have $4.3k saved. I'm having trouble meeting my goals because I am having trouble finding work. I live in the third largest city in my state, but it's not a city positively affected by globalization, so unemployment is high and wages are low. I can't move because my wife has a career started here. Such is life.
ksherlock 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Something to consider: assume you make $100,000 and you max out (~$18,000) your 401K. Are you going to be saving $18,000 a year for retirement when you're retired?
sotojuan 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Not much, paying loans first. Should be finished with that in two years (age 25).
Ask HN: Should I go full time in my main job?
5 points by simopaa  2 days ago   6 comments top 2
brudgers 1 day ago 2 replies      
Random advice from the internet:

Get a full time job and build your professional network and learn from more experienced people and gain experience within a business. Doing what you are doing now is not growing. And since you will be doing less than you are doing now because you will not be in school, it might even be the opposite of growing.

Keep in mind, zero hour contracts have a low net present value. 6/hrs per day should be discounted by the probability that the contract is gone in two months...perhaps without warning and perhaps without final payment.

 And companies that contract with students often replace graduating students with current students because their practice is Using Student Contractors.
Finally, it makes sense to look at employment opportunities beyond your partner in the current contract. That may vastly increase your professional network, opportunities to learn, and your diversity of business experience.

Good luck.

paktek123 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd say do whatever you are comfortable with. If you enjoy your current setup, why change it unless you have to ?
Ask HN: What was your product's biggest marketing win?
27 points by mijustin  3 days ago   15 comments top 10
JoshDoody 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have had two pretty big wins.

Pretty easy (results in days): Answering questions on Quora was a relatively easy, quick win. I answered a question on salary negotiation or job interviews every day for a month, and immediately saw a lot more interest in my site.

Harder (results in 90+ days): A focus on SEO has really paid off. SEO takes a while to build up, but once it's built up, it's pretty reliable traffic source. That means I can spend time working to offer more value to visitors so they'll stick around and come back later.

paulmatthijs 3 days ago 0 replies      
We reached out to everyone that ever did a review of a direct competitor within the last 4 years - we were very much last-to-market.

About 10% actually did a review of us on launch which gaves us a major boost. However, the ones that reviewed us a few months later are those with a long tail.

Reach out to those that love good products. Even if they have a small audience, it all adds up in the end.

spencerfry 3 days ago 0 replies      
Biggest marketing win for https://www.withcoach.com/ has been using our own product to create and promote free content.

Since Coach is an online course platform, we're not only giving people a demo of our product, but we're also providing value through content.

For example, we giveaway a free eBook on selling more online courses & digital products: https://coach.withcoach.com/level-up-your-sales

We also run a free email course on launching your next digital products in 10 days: https://coach.withcoach.com/10-day-product-bootcamp

Both have driven thousands of leads to our product.

jasonkester 3 days ago 1 reply      
limedaring 3 days ago 0 replies      
For https://hellowebapp.com, it was running Kickstarter campaigns to promote the books. It's a really effective way to do a "pre-order" campaign for the book, start a lot of conversations, and start building my email list (not to mention getting a chunk of money that replaced a traditional advance a publisher could give.)

For https://weddinglovely.com, I work with small businesses and running the weddings blog has been our biggest marketing win. Our businesses send us content, which we publish, getting traffic and also cementing our relationship with the submitting business. We've also started getting significant affiliate revenue ($2k+ mo) from past articles we've written.

mijustin 3 days ago 0 replies      
OP here. These answers are great! Feels like content marketing is a big winner so far.

If you'd rather not comment on this thread, I've also created a quick survey here:


d_evyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I set up a small product and self assessment tool for https://compassofdesign.com validating my target audience.

About 20% of my visible audience took part in the assessment and/or bought the product. I got a really good vibe of the people that are most likely to engage and who I should be focusing on.

Surprisingly, people that my content is reaching are further along in their journey than I had intended on reaching out to.

This has been my biggest result so far from my efforts

thomasrw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Writing, blog posts on https://thomasroest.com/ that lead people to https://linuxforwebdevelopers.co/
pryelluw 2 days ago 0 replies      
B2B here: Cold everything. Then put them on a drip to keep warm if nothing happens quickly.

Be active not reactive.

codegeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yep. Inbound marketing. Let people find you. That is the most qualified lead ever.
Ask HN: Alt coins are going up, how many of you are investing and in which coin?
6 points by techaddict009  18 hours ago   5 comments top 4
Artlav 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Altcoins are like pokemon - just collect 'em all.

Drop $1000 into each with an original idea, $100 into each that sounds legit and $10 into each of the remaining ones (ignoring the ones which are just a fork with a couple lines of code changed).

Don't worry about fixing that time machine - as sad as not doing it a few months ago feels, it's not really making any difference in the long run (aka "Dollar-Cost Averaging").

As usual, standard rules apply - never invest money you can't afford to lose, scale the amounts stated above to fit your disposable income, etc.

thecupisblue 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If looking to invest, be careful, there is a lot of pump'n'dump schemes going on in the crypto world.
techaddict009 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Also many are running ICO example: http://ico.encryptotel.com/
twobyfour 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Investing? Or speculating?
       cached 8 May 2017 12:05:01 GMT