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Ask HN: What job did you leave IT for?
23 points by JerryMouse  2 hours ago   8 comments top 4
martamoreno 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Unless you are close to retirement, the new job you should be seeking is "How do I heal myself". Unless of course you want to go through the rest of your life with your condition...

If school medicine won't help you, you should start looking for some alternate approaches, there are enough out there.

MrLeftHand 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
Do you really need to leave IT just because of these symptoms? There are so many areas to work in.

Anyway, what illness are you talking about here?Boredom?Got stuck in a place where the project sucked the life and general interest out of you?OCD?Depression?Anxiety?

UPDATE: Got good answers about what can cause these symptoms.

If you want to leave IT then try to find jobs that are still challenging your creativity, but don't need huge amount of concentration in the same time. Like becoming a carpenter, professional gardener, etc...

These still make you use your creative side, but rely on more physical work then intellectual.

Keyframe 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
I left for storytelling and film/tv. If anything, it's more taxing, so there's that.
germs12 28 minutes ago 2 replies      
What illness does this?
Ask HN: Why isn't Prolog more popular?
158 points by miguelrochefort  21 hours ago   130 comments top 39
PeterisP 16 hours ago 7 replies      
For me, the big problem with Prolog (and the whole concept of declarative languages) is that the intended benefit requires an unreasonably (or impossibly?) smart compiler.

The concept works when I can declare what I want to be done, and the system does it - and when that happens, Prolog is great, the language is great for declaring what I want to be done.

However, often it happens that the system does it in a way that's somehow horribly inefficient and makes it totally unusable. And then I have to redeclare my requirements in a slightly different way to nudge the system into doing it differently - and this is much harder, then I have to worry about much more moving parts than just my code.

Also, the language is not really well suited for that; if I have to specify how exactly in which order the calculations need to be made, then imperative languages are a much better tool. I'm throwing away all the advantages of Prolog if I have to do this all the time - and in practice I do.

Haskell has a bit of similar problems (though generally not with unexpected speed complexity but unexpected memory complexity through laziness and thunks), but Prolog is much worse in that regard.

mabbo 17 hours ago 9 replies      
My opinion: Humans are good at thinking sequentially, imperatively. Other language paradigms are harder.

That isn't to say that Functional languages (Lisp, Haskell, Scala, etc) aren't as good; frankly, I like them better. There's just a mental gap that has to be crossed and for most developers I've met, that can be challenging. Why do things in a challenging way when I've got Java right here and it works just fine? (straw man, not my own view)

Prolog (logic programming) is a bigger gap, imho. It takes more effort for me to really understand Prolog code. Can do some beautiful things with it, but it's easier to have a few good developers be good at it and put their hard work behind a library/API than it is to have every other developer try to get over that gap.

srpablo 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I have a few ideas, but the main one is that: independent of the language/semantics, languages only really take off because of a "killer app" use case where they are required. Once that's in place, tooling is built to make it much easier to complete projects in.

As a few examples: Objective-C was only popular for years because it was required to write iOS apps. Ditto JavaScript being the only way to write for web. Ruby only got popular after Rails. C++ was the blessed way to write for Windows in the 90's. Java had a giant marketing budget, "write once, run everywhere," and was looking to be the best way to write for the web (lol applets). This isn't a perfect explanation, but in many of these cases, it wasn't about eager-vs-lazy, control flow constructs, variations in type systems, or anything related to what the language offered you, it was primarily necessity to be on the platform of your choice.

After that, tooling evolved, and they became easier to write major projects in. Why write a web app in Erlang when the JVM has every major templating system, an implementation of CommonMark, several high-performance JSON libraries, model validation, several mature build systems, and thousands of Stack Overflow answers?

This makes it hard for languages like Crystal or Nim to take off, but ON TOP OF THAT Prolog is asking its devs to completely change how they approach programming.

What would it take to make Prolog take off? A killer app. Which, in the 80's, looked like it was AI :-p

gillh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Netsil's stream-processor is programmed using Datalog, which is a subset of Prolog.

Our architecture/use-case: At Netsil, stateful packet processing pipelines are written in declarative rules and materialized tables are backed by SQL compatible embedded in-mem DB. Tuples are executed in parallel and parallelism is controlled by specifying context constraints in rules (e.g. packets within same TCP flow should be processed in order). Further, Datalog workflows are distributable by providing "location specifier" in rules -- i.e. Tuples and attributes serialize to protocol buffers and can be sent/received over ZMQ. Also, the materialized tables in Datalog can be made to sync up with Zookeeper, allowing distributed stream processors to do service discovery and so on. It's a pretty sophisticated runtime/compiler, written primarily in C/C++ for optimal performance. The underlying runtime uses a combination of Intel TBB and Boost ASIO.

We are in general big fans of declarative approaches as they have saved us a lot of time, allowing our small team to leapfrog the competition. You can learn more about our architecture here: https://netsil.com/blog/listen-to-your-apis-see-your-apps/

Disclaimer: I am co-founder of Netsil (www.netsil.com).

marcosdumay 17 hours ago 1 reply      
For me, what killed it was the fun of making a simple change to your program and due to a single character mistake insert a bug that turns its run time from O(n) to O(e^e^n).

Besides, deep first recursive searches are easy to write and almost never work well in practice, so even the problems that are greatly represented in Prolog either do not get efficient binaries from the existent Prolog compilers or are easy enough to write in another language that little is lost on the transition (often both).

That said, I do think search based programming is underrated. There ought to be some representation for theorem resolvers that is good for general purpose programming. It's just that nobody found it yet.

athom 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Oddly enough, I was just recently trying to play around with the PortableApps package of SWI Prolog, available here:


It's about the ONLY PortableApp that offers any kind of program development capability beyond text editing, that I could tell. No compilers, no interpreters outside of this and a couple of SQLite packages. Anyway, I pulled this one down, fired it up, and... no worky. I got a console, theoretically I could execute commands, but try and access the help or docs, and it bails out with an error, telling me xpce can't be loaded, because load_foreign_library/1 is not defined? At least half the menu commands failed with the same error, closing out the app in the process. Basically, the app is impossible to use.

So, there's my answer, one that can be applied to many otherwise promising languages. Any system looking to gain traction really needs to go out of its way to Just Work; to make itself readily available, easily installable, immediately functional, and with clear documentation right at hand. You can carry on 'til you're blue in the face about lazy programmers unwilling to learn a simple build-and-install process, but with the ready availability of other environments that generally Just Work, there's really no excuse. At least, that's how I feel about it.

hendzen 13 hours ago 5 replies      
When I tried to use SWI prolog for a toy-task, it failed miserably when dealing with facts that contained numeric expressions. I think if a variant of Prolog was paired with an SMT solver (e.g. Z3) it would be much more relevant today.

For example, when dealing with bitemporal data (common in finance) you might have a set of facts with two date range attributes. Lets simplify by saying we have a set of facts each having a start date and end date. Here is some non-working Prolog that could work if there was such a capability.

 entity('TimeWarner'). ticker(entity('TimeWarner'), 'TWC', date(1999-01-01), date(2014-04-31)). ticker(entity('TimeWarner'), 'AOL', date(2014-05-01), date(9999-01-01)). current_at(ticker(entity(_), _, Start, End), T) :- T @> Start, End @> T. -- find current ticker for Time Warner current_at(ticker(entity('TimeWarner'), _, _), date(2017-05-29)) -- SWI prolog can not unify the above clause!
(The code above is semi-pseudocode - but I did try and fail to make this work some time ago)

Now, it turns out that this sort of exists already, it's called Answer Set programming. There is one implementation out there [0] - but I didn't feel like dredging up an old research project.

[0] - http://potassco.sourceforge.net/

gtycomb 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Its about 15 or so years ago I tried Prolog in an application for analyzing features of images. I remember two things from that 1. Even though concurrency is elegantly described through guards, implementation turned out to to be not that easy, 2. You have to bypass the beauty of pure logical statements in practice (for example see the 'Craft of Prolog' by Richard O'Keefe on optimizing Prolog code). Once we get to this level of writing Prolog code, you find other standard languages and libraries more competitive and practical.
protomyth 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Prolog never had the SQL moment. SQL had IBM, Oracle, and relational databases to back it up and propel it into popularity. Prolog just never had that application. I also believe that the Japanese Fifth Generation Project's failure did a bit to harm the idea of a mainstream Prolog. I was very interested when Borland released Turbo Prolog, but it didn't quite last that long. It also, in its early days, suffered from a bit of Smalltalk vendor syndrome.

..and, sadly, it didn't look like C

// strangely Prolog is listed as a spelling error by Firefox...

moomin 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd argue it can't be done. It basically has features that are best implemented as a library. In fact, the many kanrens (including Clojure's core.logic) demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach. Meanwhile, stuff like GPU-accelerated ML have supplanted it in the natural language processing arena, and functional programming has become the paradigm of choice for theorem provers like Agda.
carvalho 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Prolog is used in IBM Watson, Datalog, and AFAIK in Windows OS.

Prolog is not so popular for general purpose computing since: compilers are inconsistent, compatibility problems, difficult debugging, high maintenance costs, few experts, steep learning curves (my professor joked that the more computer science the student is exposed to, the harder is the mental switch to Prolog).

Prolog remains great for education on logic, NLP parsers, recursion.

danharaj 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Prolog has a beautiful, powerful idea at its core: Resolution. Datalog shines because it doesn't try to overreach and focuses on making this core nimble and expressive in a domain excellently suited to resolution. Prolog tries to be general purpose and is all the worse for it.

Eventually the ideas in Prolog will make their way into a general purpose language where the relationship between the logical components and the algorithmic components of a program is harmonious instead of a constant conflict.

BjoernKW 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It's difficult to get started with Prolog beyond toy examples. Prolog was originally designed for creating linguistic models for use in NLP. Even for this original purpose it isn't exactly easy to use.

When it comes to mundane tasks such as opening a file and reading its contents as a string or accessing databases, things get even more difficult. Technically, this is all possible with Prolog, too. It's just not exactly fun to do so.

miclill 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This is opinion but I think the problems you can express well with a language like prolog are quite special. The problems programmers need to solve every day are better expressed by a language that's closer to human languages. How would you write in prolog that you want it to serve a website? Of course this is possible but probably not in an idiomatic way. Furthermore like with functional languages the performance of the program is harder to predict.
usgroup 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you're into Clojure et al or at least datomic you've probably used some subset of prolog (qua datalog).

Clojure also brings with it logic and relational programming which is likely the go-to choice of the Clojurist for expressing work-flow or permissions management type problems. Not exactly Prolog but it's the same difference.

gonmf 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who has quite the extensive experience with Prolog, I can best summarize that there are some types of programming problems at which it excels: deduction, ordering, discrete constraint problems, etc; and at everything else an imperative language is often simpler to use to achieve the same end result.
cocktailpeanuts 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You would probably realize pretty soon if you try writing anything meaningful with Prolog.

In my experience Prolog is conceptually the coolest, but practically the worst when trying to get anything done.

Basically, writing a program in Prolog is like solving a puzzle. Nobody wants to solve an additional "puzzle" on top of their already existing problem they set out to solve by programming. (Unless they're doing it for fun)

dkersten 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm no expert, but I've tinkered with prolog in the past and with Clojure's core.logic more recently and in my opinion it's because the part of my problems that would be a good fit for prolog make up only a small part of the solutions that I write to solve them. For this reason, something like core.logic is much more interesting and useful because it means I can express the part that is well suited to logic/constraint programming in "prolog" and the parts that are not well suited, can be written in another language more suited to those tasks.

For example, I can write some code in clojure, that, for example, implements a UI which then calls core.logic to do some processing, which then calls some clojure to pull the logic data from a database. If I wanted to use prolog, I'd have to do something like: (other language -> ffi -> prolog -> ffi -> other language) which is usually too much effort for me to bother.

zmonx 18 hours ago 1 reply      
As to the first question: There are several reasons for this. One is rather inherent and can be understood by considering the following analogy:

Java, C, and many other programming languages are like chess: There are many syntactic rules, and by learning them, you already obtain a rough overview of what you can do in principle. You try out these constructs, and get a sense that you have accomplished something, even if it is rather worthless, and more complex tasks are extremely hard to carry out successfully in these languages.

Prolog is more like Go: The syntax is very simple, and there is essentially only a single language element, the logical rule. This means that even if you know, syntactically and semantically, almost everything about the language, you have no idea what to do at first. This can be rather frustrating. From this, beginners easily arrive at the misguided conclusion that the language is useless, or restricted to very specific applications. But it only means they have not grasped its true power and flexibility! Getting to the core of Prolog is hard, and requires systematic guidance.

This inherent difficulty is frequently compounded by a rather ineffective and outdated didactic approach which, at its worst, stresses difficult and mostly superseded procedural aspects over more important declarative principles and more modern solutions like constraints. This easily gives the misguided impression that the language is rather imperative and limited in nature, and again causes many students to dismiss it due to their wrong impressions.

A third reason is found in the implementational complexity: From a user's perspective, a major attraction of Prolog is its ease of use due to the syntactic simplicity, powerful implicit search mechanism, generality of predicates etc. which are features that are rather specific to logic programming languages. The complexity of all this is shifted to the implementation level: In order to make all this both powerful and efficient, the implementation must do many things for you. This means you need, among other things and in no particular order: an efficient garbage collector, JIT indexing, a fitting virtual machine architecture, a fast implementation of unbounded integers, rational numbers, good exception handling, ISO compliance, many goodies like tabling, an efficient implementation of constraints over integers, Boolean variables, Herbrand terms etc. Most of these topics are even now still subject of active research in the logic programming community, with different advantages and trade-offs. Implementing an efficient Prolog system is a project that easily takes 30 to 40 years. In fact, we are only now getting to the point where systems become sufficiently robust and feature-rich to run complex client/server applications for months and years. In such complexities, you find the answer why Prolog isn't more popular yet. It has simply taken a few decades to implement all this in satisfactory ways, and this work is still ongoing. In my view, Prolog is now becoming interesting.

To the second point, Prolog already is a great general-purpose language. You can use it for almost all applications that are currently written in Java and Python, for example. Of course, there are always some features that are worth adding on top or via extensions, and certain tasks would benefit from this. For example, you can add extensions for type checking, and for fast arrays. Various Prolog implementations are already experimenting with such extensions. Many extensions can in fact be implemented via term and goal expansion, a facility that is analogous to macros in Lisp, or via simple reasoning over given programs.

gpcz 18 hours ago 2 replies      
You can answer this question yourself: simply figure out how you'd implement certain types of programs in Prolog. For example: an operating system, a Unix command-line tool, a video game, etc. You'll quickly shake out deficiencies.
killercup 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know about general-purpose, but I've seen Prolog implementations for specific logic problems. Most recently, chalk [1], a Prolog interpreter designed to be used in the Rust compiler's trait system. So I wouldn't say it's not popular, but the areas it's used in are probably not what most programmers deal with every day.

[1]: https://github.com/nikomatsakis/chalk

macintux 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I attended, but can't claim much comprehension of, Chris Martens' talk on logic programming at Strange Loop 2013. If you're interested in the world beyond Prolog, worth a watch.


inputcoffee 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought the same thing till I tried to program in it and I immediately understood.

It is not intuitive, and most programs aren't logical problems in the sense that the prolog can solve. It is highly specialized.

It belongs to an era -- and this era isn't "over" -- when the primary manner of solving AI was symbolic.

nv-vn 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Having tried Prolog for a problem that it's relatively well-suited for, I found that all the advantages Prolog gives fall away very quickly. There's a lot of finicking around with weird organization of your code just to get things to work, despite being "declarative." For example, trying to rely on libraries to solve parts of the problem for you can be really strange because you can be 99% of the way to solving your problem, but not being able to edit/inline that code will create problems. As an example, trying to use a sorting function on an uninitialized list can't really do anything to help you, but if you inline that same code it can fix it because you're declaring properties of the list in-place.
jeffdavis 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You don't use a language, you use a compiler and a runtime.

Maybe prolog has just not found the right context to run in?

scottlocklin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never messed around with it beyond toy problems, but I recall Norvig saying in one of his books that it was trivial to code up NP hard problems in Prolog and other logic constraint languages without realizing that you did so.
FreeFull 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps what is needed is a Prolog-derivative language which is nicer to use. There is a number of declarative languages available, but my personal favourite would be Picat http://picat-lang.org/ A disadvantage of Picat would be though that unlike SWI Prolog, it doesn't have any sort of package management system, and doesn't have a general means of using FFI to call into C libraries.
foolong 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Take a look at ASP (Answer Set Programming)For me it worked a lot better than prolog
pedrorijo91 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I would say the problem is pretty similar to why isn't Haskell more popular?

both have a different/specific (as in non-mainstream) thinking way, and it is not easy to switch from common programming languages to these. and since it isn't easy, most people don't go deeper on them

from a company point of view: if it's hard to find a good Prolog/haskell developer, then they will be more expensive, so they stick with the common Java/C/C#/Python/Ruby/JS stack

YeGoblynQueenne 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Prolog is already a general-purpose language. So is any Turing completelanguage, by definition. Whether it's a "great" such language or not is kindof a personal tastes thing.

As to why it's not more popular, I've thought about this very ofen and I don'thave an answer. What I know for sure is it's never going to become morepopular until people move on from that silly soundbite about its "generalpurpose"-ness, which never made any sense to begin with.

People program "general purpose" stuff in languages that are much worse for"programming in the large" than Prolog. Most of the big operating systems arewritten in C, large swathes of game code is in some assembly language orother, about 60% of enterprise code is in Java and most supercomputing code isin FORTRAN fer chrissake. Not to mention, all of the internet is injavascript, a language that was originally meant just for writing smallsnippets of code to manage buttons and text fields and stuff. You're not goingto tell me that javascript is "general purpose"?

Prolog is already a general-purpose language. All you need to do is have a look at the library section in the Swi-Prolog documentation. Besides the usual suspects (constraint logic, tabling, lambdas and such and of course parsing all possible text-based formats ever in time dt) we find a bunch of diverse libraries:

An http package for all your client/server needs [1]

A library for opening web-pages in a browser in a system-agnostic manner [2]

A library for command-line parsing [3]

An RDF parser and a semantic web library

A package manager [5]

A random numbers generation library

A library for manipulating the Windows registry [7]

A library for solving linear programming problems [8]

A thread pool management library [9]

And a whole lot of support for a bunch of other stuff like corouting, multithreaded applications, a profiler, terminal control, an ODBC interface, an interface to Protocol Buffers, bindings to zlib, GNU readline, and so on and so forth.

In what sense is all that not "general purpose"?


[1] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/doc_for?object=section(%27pa...

[2] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/man?section=www_browser

[3] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/man?section=optparse

[5] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/man?section=prologpack

[7] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/man?section=registry

[8] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/man?section=simplex

[9] http://www.swi-prolog.org/pldoc/man?section=threadpool

lolc 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I couldn't find much use in Prolog when I tried it. At first it was neat how you could express simple problems, then I learned how one used ! for everything else. It felt like instead of working on a solution, I had to work on what the solution isn't.

It's a very specialized system in my view, so there is no hope of it ever becoming general-purpose. But maybe that's because I don't know enough of Prolog.

harperlee 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a particular book that covers Japan's 5th generation fiasco, from a technical point of view?
nmca 14 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the worst things I found during my prolog courses was that authors seemed to conflate "shorten" and "simplify". We had whole exercises dedicated to taking a readable chunk of code and turning it into some godawful one liner.
nickpsecurity 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Look into Mercury language for a take on something that might be more acceptable by mixing logical and functional:


lowbloodsugar 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Because its only first order so its really tedious. So you can say that if a > b and b >c then a > c, but you can't say if a op b and b op c implies a op c then op is transitive.
JabavuAdams 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Because it's more appropriate as an embedded DSL, or low-level on which to create a DSL, than a general programming language?
danmaz74 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Short answer: because intelligence isn't about solving propositional logic.
randomUser1122 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I tried programming in prolog and read some introductionairy books. However, no book talks about how you would define more complex 'types' objects. How would you model the following domain in prolog:

Comment:Attributes: text, points

User:Attributes: name, emailAdress(as a struct of first part, domain, top-level-domain)

Admin(a special user):additional Attributes: set of rights(can delete, can hide, can modify)

Finally, there is an n-1 assocation between Comment and User and I want to make some queries about this domain.

garrybelka 11 hours ago 0 replies      
1.2. There were too many fully incompatible dialects of Prolog. I recall Lisp-like Micro-Prolog. Turbo
Ask HN: How best to model a government programmatically?
17 points by nstj  6 hours ago   21 comments top 13
jwdunne 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I've thought about this one for a while and I keep coming back to modelling actors with a set of behaviours that influences/triggers other behaviours and variable changes (which can then influence other behaviours and variables).

This way a government becomes a set of actors whose behaviours include creation of policy, of which are intended to influence the behaviours of all actors in the governing nation, another set of actors of which the serving government is a proper subset.

Much like democracy 3, recommended below, it'd form one or more graphs, depending on how far one takes it.

My main idea was to simulate an economy independent of current economic models but then simulating government is an integral part of that project.

vkrm 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You could look at Democracy 3 [0] for inspiration, its a game that tries to model a democratic country from the point of view of a candidate.

[0] http://positech.co.uk/democracy3/

randcraw 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I've long thought 'government' was a fascinating topic for computers to tackle, but first I think you need to answer what it is you want to model: 1) the process of government (politicians and politics) or 2) the outcome of government -- the regulation of business and civil activity and international concordances.

I think the US gov't (and many military contractors) have long attempted option 1. The modeling of adversary nations or individuals and anticipation of their behavior using scenarios and war games has been around long before computers. But the number of unknown variables and the unknown state of those that are known has greatly limited the practical value of such efforts, IMHO. Even predicting the binary outcome of presidential elections has shown the weaknesses inherent in endeavors like this.

But how about option 2; could you model the analytical and decision processes that regulate a society toward 'homeostasis'? Probably, though I suspect adjusting the weights to wisely balance the interests, values, and civil rights in corporations, persons, and countries is likely to prove tricky. But could a lot of government's existing processes be effectively modeled by computer or even automated? Absolutely yes, IMHO.

rnabel 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Very broad question but related: this blog [0] discusses how a modelling product was used to simulate the internet backbone. If your aim is real-time reaction modelling of actors, this could theoretically be implemented using such a system.

They have an open beta [1], although building a comprehensive system like that described above seems a very significant task even to a large engineering team.

[0] https://improbable.io/2016/03/24/what-we-found-when-we-simul...

[1] https://spatialos.improbable.io/get-spatialos

(Disclaimer: I have interviewed with and accepted an offer by Improbable)

chubs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The law comes about from many years of precedent based on various ambiguous circumstances, eg it's a bit of a 'bottom up' thing, i'm not sure if a 'top down' approach like this would work for day-to-day laws. Maybe it'd be better for things that don't change much, eg a constitution. Fun thought experiment though!
chid 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'm curious what people here think of Agent Based Modelling.
grizzles 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Your question is too general, and you'd have realized it if you built a toy model. You need to think about what your goals are with the model. If it's to build a replica government in code, then make a start and have at it, no special tech is needed. Just start encoding your data (eg. {"Jaywalking Fee" : "100.00"} into files your model can parse.

Prolog isn't the right tool here, there are no complex dependency chains to reason through, it's not really right for modelling uncertainty, which you will have to accept until you start caring about what parts of the model will need to be high fidelity.

Someone 4 hours ago 0 replies      
There are macro-economic models (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroeconomic_model) that include such things as taxation structure, effect of child benefits on how long parents work, effect of taxation on consumption, effect of export/import restrictions, etc.

AFAIK, some of those models are fairly accurate, but not at the level that physics models are. They also do not include all quantities citizens are interested in, such as pollution levels or effects on commute times, and even if they do, they likely don't do it at small scales (a model may predict that commute times will go down on average if policy P is enacted, but that may not be uniformly across the country)

shabinesh 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is interesting to me. I am thinking loud here. The first thing for me would be to understand from a top level the different departments/ministries have a set of function and they are required to communicate between them to accomplish certain task. So before I could make anything programmatically I could at some level try to model it mathematically. I believe these are processes which ought to communicate, could we think of these as modeled by pi-calculus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%A0-calculus)

I am not sure I am even close enough to what your are asking, but thats my two cents.

hl5 2 hours ago 0 replies      
this-that 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Could this be related?

System Dynamics


lioeters 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps one can start by building a "SimGovernment", a simulation with the major features/structures representing those in real life.
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Ask HN: Ex-Founder. Should I take lowball buyout offer?
145 points by throwaway21121  20 hours ago   150 comments top 39
eldavido 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Ask the CEO whether the investors would buy your shares as part of the funding round. I've seen a company do this. It's a win for everyone. Offer a moderate discount (10-20%) to make it worth their while.

- Company gets to re-concentrate their ownership among active investors/employees, and remove "dead wood" ex-founder with small stake from the cap table. This alone might make it worth their while.

- Investors get shares more cheaply than they otherwise would

- You get cash and get to wash your hands of the company

Where this might get complicated is that you likely own founders' shares/common and the investors are getting shares with a bunch of preferences.

If the latest funding round is $20mil, 5% of that would be 1mil. What's the 409(a) value on the common shares? I doubt the shares would be worth more than 500-600k given the numbers above, so with a 20% discount, you're looking at 400-500k. I have no idea what the headline valuation is but you can probably work something out. Email is in sig if you want to talk.

EDIT: Another option would be to sell a portion, but not all, of your shares as part of the funding round. That might allay any "we can't afford it" concerns from the company while still giving you a bit of upside in case the business is a real home run. Would they take 10% of your position for 100k? That might be a good option.

OliverJones 16 hours ago 0 replies      
First of all, you're not an ex-founder. You're a founder. You happen to have moved on to another project.

Second, you're a shareholder of the company. You're a big enough shareholder that they'll ask for your signature on the paperwork when they recapitalize ("raise money").

Third, any variant of "you suck. I don't want anything to do with you." is a poor opening gambit in a negotiation strategy, even it's true.

If I were you I'd ask to sell some, but not all, of your shares into this financing round. You can simply say you need some liquidity. This isn't a bizarre request. They may turn you down, but they won't think the less of you for asking.

If they're raising money on a $40 mill pre-money valuation, that pegs your 5% stake's paper value at 2 megabucks. Selling a quarter of your stake into the round will get you $400K even if you give them a stiff discount. That's more than the $100K. And, you still have some upside if you're wrong about their prospects.

That being said, you're probably right about their prospects. Been there. Done that. Didn't even get a Tshirt.

jacquesm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
If the company is raising money at a valuation in excess of 10 million then your stake is worth at least 500k and possibly much more. If you know the amount that they will raise simply roll your sale into the transaction. If you need to sweeten the pot then do so but as far as strategy is concerned you don't need to sell at all.

The lowball offer is a good indication of how they estimate your negotiation skills.

Waiting a little longer will likely get you a (much) better offer, also consider selling only a part of your shares in case the company strikes it big down the road (made that mistake myself with something that became huge long after I left).

You might get pushback on that last point but that gives you some leverage to raise the price for all of your shares.

late2part 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Don't be a shmuck. Don't sell. Get an attorney, talk with the CEO only through the attorney. Find someone like jacquesm or I can refer you to someone to help you negotiate.

5% of XX,000,000 is at least $500k; you're a fool to take less.

throwaway583028 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Having been through a very similar situation, here are a few ideas:

- Get a good lawyer, it seems expensive, but is cheap compared to getting a bad deal.

- In deciding between cash vs. equity, a useful way to re-frame is "If I had it all in cash now, how much equity would I buy at this price?"

- The CEO has much better knowledge about the company, and an offer to buy may be a signal that there's positive information unknown to you.

In my case, I refused the lowball offer though the amount of cash was tempting, figuring they were making an offer for a reason. A few months later, I was offered 4x the price as part of a funding round. I took it without further negotiation, since that was enough to make a significant lifestyle change.

panda88888 6 hours ago 0 replies      
First and foremost and to re-iterate what many HNers has already said: you are NOT in any way obligated to sell. That said, it is in your best interest to be pragmatic and get the most out of your equity (financial + emotional).

Let the hardball CEO (imo he/she is doing his/her job) know that you are open to finding a mutually beneficial agreement, but you feel the initial offer is not something that entices you to sell. Ask for the term sheet of the funding round, because you need to know what will happen to your 5% stake to evaluate your options.

I recommend viewing this as a business decision/transaction.

Step 1 is to speak to a lawyer and accountant. Get their take on what your equity is worth, the tax implications, and evaluate the impact of the term sheet on your equity if you have it.

Step 2 is to make a decision. How much equity do you want to sell? All, some? For how much? And what are the numbers behind your decision? How much of a discount are you willing to accept? If you want to sell all your stakes, the lawyer/accountant should be able to give you a valuation.

Step 3 is to negotiate. You can do this through your lawyer if you want to avoid mixing business with personal relationships. Work with the CEO if you can, because if you decide to keep some equity, it is also in your best interest that the company completes the funding round successfully.

Step 4 .. Profit!

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no prior experience with this kind of event whatsoever. :)

charlesdm 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Sell at the valuation, e.g. 5% of $XX,000,000. Maybe offer them a 20% discount on the shares if you really want to sell. Otherwise don't sell. Not selling is your leverage, as they clearly want you to sell.
primedteam 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I would work out the difference between the salary at say Google vs what you took during your tenure at the startup then double it because of lack of upside.

Aside: If the co-founder is an HN reader, then they probably know the throwaway account is you. That is going to skew this negotiation.

kirillzubovsky 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Valuation and percentage aside, let me ask you this question -- now that the company is raising another round, where do you think the equity for the new investors is going to come from?

Say the company is trying to take on another 20mil at 100mil valuation, that's 20% of the company that will have to come out from the current shares, i.e. dilute all the current owners of the shares. That means to raise that money right now, the company is going to have to dilute you, but also all other employees and founders and investors. So you will lose ~20% of your shares, in exchange for XX-growth of the paper value of your shares.

Imagine that right now your shares are worth 1 million, but for absolutely no cost to you, those same shares will be worth 20 million tomorrow (minus the 20% that investors end up taking). This is not "exact" math, but it illustrates the point.

You can sit on your shares today, and make a ton of money overnight by doing _nothing_.

If you sell your shares today, for any amount less than what you would get in the above scenario, you're losing money. The hardball-CEO is just going to take your shares, and immediately resell them to new investors at 100X the price.

Unless you absolutely need the 100k today and can't live without it, your best bet is to hold on to the shares and take the gamble on them growing multiples. If the company does great, you win. If the company shuts down, all you lose is x-months worth of salary equivalent. If the company needs to raise more money later, then you can always offer to sell your shares at the later price.

cthulhuology 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I've had this situation happen a few times in my career, my advice is take the money and don't look back. Invest the money, burn it, buy rental properties with it,or go on a trip. It is always better to have a successful exit.
csomar 16 hours ago 1 reply      
$xx million valuation doesn't really matter. How much money are they raising? 1 million? 10 millions? I'm asking because the metric (or the thing you'll eat from) is the money raised not the valuation.
owens99 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the CEO lowballing you because your relationship is adversarial?

If so, you will likely need to break through that emotional barrier to get his cooperation in selling the shares to investors. Assuming his cooperation will make it easier.

drenvuk 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Set up a divesting schedule with regular payments based on the valuation of the company. The longer you're gone the less you have. If you've done work to get the company where it is then it's fair.

I would not take a lump some in most cases.

skynode 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think we have enough information (or even the professional capacity) to advise you wisely for the best expected return. So many unknowns here; for instance,

> what d'you mean by ex-founder and by what corporate action or process did you come to attribute this title to yourself?

> Why have you held your shares till this time?

> Why are you skeptical of the future of the company? D'you have a personal beef with the hardball CEO or is the company really doomed in your opinion?

> Who approached who (I mean you or your hardball CEO) to leave the company? To be clear, did he notify you of their intention to raise money and ask that you sell off or did you hear that they're about to raise money and then decide that you want out?

siegel 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Critical side note, from a tax perspective: Be very careful with the suggestions to have the stock bought back by the company for a 10% or 20% discount off the price in the round.

I assume your 5% stake is common stock. The common stock valuation will not be 10% or 20% less than the preferred price in the round. It'll be more like a 75% discount.

What this means is that even if you have long term capital gains on the appreciation of the stock, that tax rate will (at best) only apply to the delta between the common stock valuation at the time of repurchase and the price at which you bought the stock.

The delta between the common stock valuation at repurchase and the price at which the shares are actually repurchased will be treated, for tax purposes, as an employee bonus. So, it will be taxed like employment income.

Just want you to be aware of what you're potentially getting into, from a tax perspective.

robmay 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Most companies have a Right of First Refusal (ROFR) doc as part of the financing. If you can find someone in the secondary market to buy your shares, the company, if they want them, has to buy them at that price. Finding such a buyer is difficult but still possible. If it's a hot company, a lot of private wealth management groups are looking to package up stocks like this to their clients.
tommynicholas 19 hours ago 1 reply      
If that is less than 1/3rd what your shares would be worth if you sold them as part of the funding round you're not getting fair value. You have to decide whether you want fair value or not, but ~1/3rd the value of the shares in this funding round (assuming those investors got preferred shares, etc) is the low end.

Investors in the round would probably buy your shares for 1/3rd - 2/3rds of their value and you should consider asking if that's an option and then negotiate from there. The only reason to let the company buyout your shares for a lowball offer is if you left the company after a short period of time without proper vesting and you want to do the right thing for the company's sake. Doesn't sound like that's the case.

stretchwithme 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If your 5% at the new valuation is worth a lot more than $100K, I would say don't do it unless you need the money in the near term.

For example, if XX is 10, 5% of $10 million is $500K.

If you do need the money, maybe you should make a counter offer that is a better deal for you.

And don't forget you have to pay income tax this year if you do sell. If you wait, obviously you also delay the tax.

ChuckMcM 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Every offer deserves a counter offer. But if you can put the 100k to use, that is a good option. That is two seed rounds for companies you believe in :-)
tyingq 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Presumably, someone values your 5% higher than that, based on your characterization of the valuation.

People that know better than me: How nuclear an option would it be to ask the investors directly?

sova 9 hours ago 0 replies      
5% of 50M = 2.5M5% of 20M = 1M5% of 10M = 500k5% of 1M = 50k

$100k liquid good if their valuation is less than 2M, otherwise it makes fiscal sense to hold onto it (or sell once it hits open market), unless you think that it is not a reasonable investment.

Really, though, if you are not interested in the future of the company, sell it to someone who is working on it. Figure out what it's worth at valuation and take 20-70% of that, if you need some range parameters. And like I said sentence one: $100k liquid good.

joshuaheard 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You own 5% of the company that is about to be bought for an amount that makes your stake worth $500k minimum. I was in a similar situation once. My mentor at the time told me, "If you have them by the short hairs, pull." We countered for 10x their offer and settled for half of that.
RomanPushkin 19 hours ago 5 replies      
What can you buy for $100K? It's not worth thinking IMO. Keep your 5% and find a job if you need $100K cash.
rgrieselhuber 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally, I'd keep the equity. Would $100K really do much for you in the long term?
hoodoof 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Offer your shares to the investors putting in to the next funding round, at the same valuation. Just make sure you know those terms - don't commit to them blindly.

If you believe in the company, the consider not selling.

If you do not believe in the company then make sure you get this cash - you might end up the only person to actually make money from the company (this happened to me).

venture_lol 17 hours ago 0 replies      
You need hard numbers and intelligence available to only you. Once you have the data, talk to people you trust, then make a decision. If you hold 5%, you have rights, rights to information. Obtain the information, then decide.

As far as a rabbit in your hand now versus 10 in the bushes provided the hunt goes well, consider your own situation and what the 100K would mean. Would you be able obtain a better ROI with 100K in your own hand versus say, staying with the company? Are you young young or young at heart?

Good luck!

RantyDave 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Take it. A real 100k is much more useful than an imaginary couple of million; they probably can't afford any more; there is still a very strong chance they won't succeed (as you noticed); and even if they do the VC will get their liquidity preference out before the founders see a penny, which they may well not do. Take it and move on.
j_s 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: I don't want to be a founder anymore


4 days ago

timcederman 18 hours ago 0 replies      
What do you want? What's the lowest you've asked for that was refused?
endlessvoid94 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you have a board seat? Are you able to sell your shares as part of the new financing?

In that light, are your existing shares worth more than $100k at the current FMV?

chrisgoman 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are skeptical of the company's future, just take the $100k and move on with life.
rokhayakebe 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Absolutely NOT. The least your shares are worth based on the lowest valuation at which they are raising is $500,000. Why take a freaking 80% discount.

Keep your shares and consult with a lawyer who can ensure you are protected further down the line. PLEASE DO THIS.

I will guarantee 100% that the type of people that offer you 20 cents on the dollar (as a founder) are the type of people that will screw you. 100%.

icedchai 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask for more.
shitgoose 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"some moderate success" ???"skeptical of the company's future" ???

take the money and run! learn from mistakes. they will burn through the cash and fold, but you will have a headstart.

horsecaptin 18 hours ago 1 reply      
What about waiting until the funding round is over, and then sell the shares yourself?
the-dude 19 hours ago 1 reply      
stale2002 17 hours ago 0 replies      
My advice: Talk to the board/investors.

The CEO is offering you a price. Other investors will probably be willing to offer you a better price.

I mean, why wouldn't they? They've paid good money to get the shares that they bought. Why wouldn't they want to buy other shares at a cheaper price?

grizzles 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Don't sell. If they are about to raise, then this is the perfect time to sell your shares to investors in the secondary market.

If you offer your stake at any discount, they are irrational if they don't take it. Don't worry if you are bound to a non transfer-ability clause. Getting around that is always possible with a bit of lawyering.

Also get someone else to handle the transaction on your behalf. You don't sound like the best negotiator. No offense intended.

penpapersw 19 hours ago 6 replies      
[EDIT] I suggest looking at your situation from this perspective: $100,000 is a lot of money and can last you and your family over a year in certain places.
Ask HN: IT industry book for an idiot?
10 points by mattnumbe  9 hours ago   5 comments top 3
ptr_void 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Specifying: What are you selling / who are your clients would be helpful. For a list and generic use of different languages, you can just do a search, there's way too many online articles on this.

Example (not super accurate but can give you general ideas): http://carlcheo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/which-program...

laurieg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Learning about different languages and what they are for will give you an extremely superficial understanding of what's going on. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I recommend skimming a book like "Computer Science An Overview" to get a handle on some key ideas an terms. Then you can look at some case studies from from industry to find out about specific technologies. New technologies and buzzwords come all the time, so try not to get too hung up on specifics. Good luck!

My condolences on the sudden job transfer. I work in Japan too and the practice of moving employees to completely different areas of the company every 3 years is one that needs to die quickly.

forgottenacc57 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's OK people don't expect recruiters to know anything.
Ask HN: What are some examples of successful single-person businesses?
609 points by 1ba9115454  1 day ago   258 comments top 58
jasonkester 1 day ago 14 replies      
Careful with your terminology. "Successful" has different meanings for different people.

By my definition, for example, I run the most successful single-person business that I'm aware of. But it doesn't make millions, so it might not meet your definition at all.

My goal was to replace my day job with a software business that required as close to zero attention as possible, so that I could have time to spend on the things that actually matter to me.

The business brings in the equivalent of a nice Senior Developer salary, which is not what most people think of when they imagine a successful Startup. But it lets me work with a bunch of cool tech when I want to, and, more importantly, is automated to the point where Customer Service involves a quick 30 second - 10 minute email sweep over morning coffee. For me, that's a lot more valuable than a few more million dollars in the bank.

The cool thing about running your own business is that you get to decide on your own definition of success.

EDIT: I wrote a bit about how I got into this position, in case anybody is interested. It's not actually all that hard to do:


dhruvkar 1 day ago 2 replies      
Builtwith.com (one employee/founder and a part-time blogger) does an estimated $12M a year [1] assuming a 'few thousand' = 2000 paying customers.

"the Basic at $299 per month for customers that want lists of sites mainly for the purpose of lead generation; Pro at $495 per month, suited more for users that work in an industry using a lot of A/B testing and comparison-type data; and Enterprise at $995 per month, which covers all bases and allows sales teams with multiple people to all use the platform at once. Brewer says that in terms of paying users on the platform there is a few thousand and the split is about 40 percent Basic, 40 percent Pro and 20 percent Enterprise."

Similar thread a while ago [2]


2: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12065355

Edit: specificity and formatting

jimminy 1 day ago 2 replies      
At some point scale will require you to hire, at least a few people, if you're really successful. But two examples that I can think of are Markus Frind (Plenty of Fish) and Markus Persson (Minecraft).


Markus Frind is probably the biggest. He spent 5 years (2003-2008) working on Plenty of Fish, and at that point it was bringing in about $5M/yr and had 3 employees.

When the site sold in 2015 for $575 million it was 70 employees, but he still owned 100% of the company.


Markus Persson would be another possible option, for the first $10-20M that Minecraft brought in he was the only person (aside from a contracted musician). And then for a while after that, it was him and his friend who was hired to manage the business side so he could focus on the programming work.

wriggler 1 day ago 2 replies      
I built and run StoreSlider[1]. It made ~$700,000 in 2016, mainly in affiliate revenue from eBay. Costs are essentially hosting (between two and five $10 Linodes, depending on load).

Took me some effort to built, but it's on autopilot now.

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

russellallen 1 day ago 3 replies      
Your problem will be definitional. The Rock earned ~ $65mm last year. Is he a 'one man company'? I guarantee he's billing through a services entity...

1: https://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2016/08/25/the-...

numbsafari 1 day ago 3 replies      
Isn't Tarsnap[1], by Colin Percival a great example of this? I'm surprised it wasn't the first thing mentioned since he's reasonably active on HN.

1: https://www.tarsnap.com/about.html

xchaotic 1 day ago 2 replies      
How do you define successful single-person? I've been running a one person consultancy for 12 years now, had to retrain quite a bit over the years, sometimes it was so busy that I outsourced pieces of work. It's been good enough that I have a house and no mortgage attached to it, all while spending almost enough time with my family - much more recently.This is what I wanted and I consider that a success in maintaining a work/life balance, working from home and having a good life in general.It's not quite 'fu' money yet, as I still ahve to work for a living, but I working towards that goal.I know a few good people that agree with this point of view - Basecamp/37 signals folks etc.
danieltillett 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now that I am no longer a single employee business (again) I can admit that I ran Mark II of my company on my own doing everything without outsourcing (sales, customer support, development, sysops, UI/UX, website design, copywriting, manuals, SEO, advertising, accounting, etc) making much more than seven figures in profit for quite a few years.

It probably wasnt the wisest idea to stay solo for so long, but the freedom of not having employees made me very reluctant to hire anyone again. The only reason I chose to hire is that the business' growth forced me make the decision to either turn away customers or hire staff. The people I have are great, but I do miss the days of doing everything myself without having to explain why something is important.

chrischen 1 day ago 2 replies      
I built and run Instapainting.com by myself. As of the date of this comment it is still only one employee (me). https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/instapainting

Things like customer support is outsourced to other startups, and of course the artists on the platform don't work for me, but could be if the company was structured differently (it's structured as a marketplace).

joelrunyon 1 day ago 3 replies      

Bootstrapped social networking site doing multiple 5-figures/month.

sudhirj 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's pinboard, maciej still runs it solo, I think.
LeonidBugaev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sidekiq by Mike Perham http://sidekiq.org/

Over 1MM annual revenue https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/sidekiq

siner 1 day ago 1 reply      
Changu 1 day ago 4 replies      
The Flappy Bird creator said he made $50k per day from in app ads. But he pulled the game after a short while. Said because he felt guilty for making people play all day. Would love to know the whole story behind this.
mylh 17 hours ago 2 replies      
We (two python developers) have started a SaaS SEO checker service [1] in February 2017 (took 4 month to develop from 0) and already have paying customers on our business plan. I completely agree with the definition of successful business when you have ability to do what you want when you want. I already have a couple of other websites generating revenue from advertising and all this allowed me to quit daily job 2 years ago. So definitely there are a lot of examples of successful single- (two-) person businesses out there.

[1] https://seocharger.com

hyperpallium 1 day ago 1 reply      
Problem is, "big for one person" is not big enough to be news, relative to all the companies. Once they get big enough for many to hear about them, they have to grown, to handle it. e.g. Notch (Minecraft)

Secondly, the best way to make solid, reliable money is to have a niche, without competition. So, you keep your mouth shut.

You'll probably most likely notice them in small, industry-oriented niches. Or... after they grow larter than one-person.

To give an answer: https://balsamiq.com/products/mockups/

majani 1 day ago 2 replies      
According to porn industry insiders, xvideos is run by a married couple. They are very secretive, but they definitely do millions in revenue annually.
avichalp 1 day ago 0 replies      
We can find few of them here https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses
webstartupper 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised no one has mentioned improvely.com by Dan Grossman.

I think it makes around $40K to $50K per month. Over the last few years, I've seen it grow from around $10K to $50K. That slow steady SaaS growth is pretty inspiring.

speedyapoc 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Not entirely single person, but I run Musi [1] with one partner. We have monthly revenues in the mid six figures with 2-3k a month in expenses.

[1] https://feelthemusi.com

galfarragem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sublime Text was for a long time a single-person business.
sharkhacks 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are a couple of awesome examples: Affiliate Marketer https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/ Patt is awesome, he actually shares his monthly income and expense statements. Started solo and now he hired a bunch of people.

Nathan Barry (http://nathanbarry.com/) the guy who started convertKit https://convertkit.com/

flgb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Daring Fireball by Jon Gruber (https://daringfireball.net).
xiaoma 1 day ago 1 reply      
If Satoshi Nakamoto is still alive and still has access to the coins he mined but never sold, they're already worth billions and the work has changed the world.
dqdo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The most successful one-man business is not in software. I know of a successful mediator. He charges $18000 to $20000 per day and has always been booked for the last 20 years.


rachekalmir 1 day ago 0 replies      

Guy quit his job a year or two ago to develop this full-time and seems to be doing pretty well for himself. I use the client all the time as a developer.

eps 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I recall correctly, IMDB used to be a one-man show for a long time, up to and even after getting acquired by Amazon.
elvirs 19 hours ago 1 reply      
my business:)1.5m annual revenue, 10-15k mobthly profit, built from zero, very proud of it.
anovikov 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know a guy who does arbitrage of porn traffic and he makes $2M a month, already saved up $20M.
wessorh 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Domainers: I've known many on person companies that made tons off parking domains. Seems like this model has run its course.

Farming has done well for my wife, she run her business and feeds a bunch of folks. Find her at the Oakland Grandlake on saturday and Marin civic center on Sunday. She sells plants :)

neals 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google > quora > 10 year old article > https://www.inc.com/magazine/20080901/the-other-number-ones....

But they have staff.

Large single-person startups? https://smallbiztrends.com/2014/07/successful-one-person-sta...

puranjay 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know some affiliate marketers who make $2M+ without any employees.

Apparently, ranking well for certain keywords (mostly web hosting and website builders) can be very, very lucrative.

planetmaker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Working by example may work. And analysing many successful examples may also yield some insight. But make sure to get the full picture: look also at those who fail. They might have tried the very same methods to most degrees. Don't fall for the survivorship bias :) It might be other factors which are truely important than those which seem the obvious ones.
pipio21 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please first define success. You should think about your own values in order to know what is success for you.

I personally know people that made millions from creating software products and companies. But I do know nobody that did(or does it) it alone.

In fact, I "made millions" myself whatever that means starting with software(a million dollars is way less than 10 years ago because of inflation so it is not that much, specially if you life in a expensive place), but I made a hell lot of work and found colleagues along the way.

IMHO you should never focus on money. Money is just a tool for exchanging value. You should focus on creating value, even if at first it gives you little money. Because of innovation dilemma most things that create real value give you very little money first( Do you know how much money the Apple Store did the first year?)

In my opinion your priority should be finding a social circle that will help and understand you. If you have a business that means entrepreneurs. They will understand and support you like no one else. HN is virtual, you need real people around.

For me success is the ability to be free in my life, made my own decisions in my business, I could write on HN, or go climb a mountain when people is working, or travel a new country, or the ability to only invest on business that are ethical for me.

If earning more money means not being free, I will decline the offer, in fact I decline offers every single day. Why should I do it? To become a 80 years old billionaire? To have everybody know me so I have to live isolated against paparazzis or criminals wanting to kidnap my children because they know I am rich?

But your values could be different. Your priorities could be to show off, exert power over other people, of go meet interesting people, or have extreme experiences or send your children to elite schools, whatever is success for you.

BanzaiTokyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suppose there is very little public information about such companies because they have no obligations of sharing it.
tjpnz 1 day ago 1 reply      
This guy uses an AI to write books for Amazon. Note that article is from 2012.


coderholic 22 hours ago 2 replies      
https://ipinfo.io - single person business that does over 250 million API requests a day, and generates good revenue.
starikovs 1 day ago 0 replies      
As for me, I develop https://thestartupway.website/ only by myself but I really cannot tell you if it's a successful business. I have a job of a software engineer and when my friends ask me to make a landing page for them I just use my tool and take a small money from them. It's just for fun for me and it's great that it helps somebody with their needs. So, for me, it's a little success )
lgas 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why discount outsourcing? The book "The E-Myth" argues that you absolutely should outsource everything but your core competency. (And "The 4-hour work week" would argue you should outsource that too)

Does outsourcing somehow diminish success?

DaiPlusPlus 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't think there are any that ever remain a one-person company in practice - even for my own projects I've always needed to outsource or farm-out tasks that aren't a valuable use of my time - e.g. website design or handling customer support. I'm sure there are plenty of de-jure sole-proprietor ships - but I doubt any of them of truly work alone.
magsafe 21 hours ago 0 replies      
https://www.bottomlinehq.comSingle founder/employee, 6-digit revenue, no outside funding.
cyrusmg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nomadlist.com from levels.io
plantain 1 day ago 1 reply      
Plenty of Fish? Exited for billions while still a solo operator
wordpressdev 1 day ago 1 reply      
I made millions from Adsense, not in USD though :)
mingabunga 1 day ago 0 replies      
Top affiliate marketers in the health, wealth, personal development and dating niche make $m per year, some in the 10's of $m.
sudhirj 1 day ago 1 reply      
sleeplesss 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I sell twitter and Instagram followers for 5 years. I made 15000 usd in average ( before tax).
gfiorav 1 day ago 0 replies      
SirLJ 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Stock Trading: no customers, no employees and no investors, check my profile for details on how to start. Good luck!
avemuri 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bitcoin? That is, if Satoshi is a single person
haidrali 1 day ago 1 reply      
Salvatore Sanfilippo: Sole creator and maintainer of Redis

Mike Perham: Sole Developer of SideKiq ( Background tasks processing with Redis) and Inspector (Application infrastructure monitoring, reimagined)

epynonymous 22 hours ago 0 replies      
plenty of fish comes to mind, not sure if it's around anymore, but this was a free dating platform
HeavyStorm 10 hours ago 1 reply      
gumby 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Craigslist is pretty close to a single person operation and it's been pretty successful.

I know it's an outlier.

cbar_tx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
please don't. we have enough people monetizing junk on the internet. you're trying to skip the most important step.
badkangaroo 1 day ago 0 replies      
symbiosis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
sunstone 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: How did you build business as a freelancer?
12 points by habosa  9 hours ago   3 comments top 3
constantlm 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Software engineer freelancer here. Started freelancing full-time in January 2017 and currently making a decent living, but not yet the salary I used to make. Another freelancer I spoke to recently mentioned it took him two years to reach his former salary.

1/2) Almost all the meaningful work I've done so far has come from my network. I've also picked up some nice jobs from Slack channels.

3) At this point I mostly work alone. I have a client which subcontracts to me and provides me with a project manager, which is amazing. I also know a designer to which I'll outsource design when I think it's needed.

4) This fluctuates wildly for me so I can't really give a specific number.

5) Slightly less at the moment, but would certainly be able to get and probably surpass my former salary with focus and grafting. However, I try and live a more balanced life at the moment as well as work on a side project, so salary isn't my #1 concern.

wayn3 2 hours ago 0 replies      
step 1: call yourself consultant. freelancers are bottom-feeding randos who try to sell to budgetless SMBs.

step 2: you are now running a business. your #1 priority is to sell services, not to actually provide them. sell your skills, outsource as much as possible. just bill extra for design and then hire someone to do the designs.

step 3: ???

step 4: profit

cm2012 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a marketing freelancer, not programmer. I just started but have enough clients that I feel successful.

1) Reached out to my network and said I just became a consultant, posted on LinkedIn, got my first two clients.

2) All from networking and referrals so far. People like the marketing article i put on my website and posted to linkedin.

3) i work from my house. Not alone, usually my dog is with me :)

4) Currently making double per hour what I made at BigCo, around half the hours, so similar salary.

Ask HN: Should I leave my company?
59 points by leojg  21 hours ago   41 comments top 33
danilocesar 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Been there... Without project for a year+ a few years ago. I had the same concerns you're having now.

Being there is soul-sucking, I know, but you have to be proactive and ask for projects to keep showing that you're willing to work, and that you're flexible.

Meanwhile, from my experience my suggestion is: dedicate yourself to opensource. Try to bring some value to your name and maybe company's name if it fits their goal. This can also lead you to new projects.

And the most important advice is: Doesn't matter if you decide to leave or to stay, DO NOT SPEND TIME DOING NOTHING.

jerryr 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As an ex-owner of an outsourcing company, I've been on the other side of this. Without any disrespect intended in asking this, is it possible you've been without a project for so long because you don't have the most flexible skillset?

I can say that, in my company, when business was slower, we would often see the same few people constantly without work because they were either too inexperienced, too limited in their capabilities, or too inflexible in what they were willing to do.

We worked hard to try to give them opportunities--having them shadow more senior engineers on projects (the extra project help also gave our clients more bang for their buck and made us look even better as a group), getting them training, having them work on internal projects, etc. Not all companies will or can go this extra mile to find opportunities for you, but might be receptive if you structure and propose something that uses your down time to your mutual benefit.

If they're not receptive, or if you can't structure something like this in your environment, then you might consider moving on.

Edit: Actually, as others are mentioning, it was also way easier to staff people who were actively involved in the sales phase of a program. Volunteering to do research, prototypes, etc. was a great way for motivated people to help out during this phase. Since they were effectively already working on the program by the time it started, they were usually the ones who would wind up staffed on the program.

lprubin 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you build infrastructure for your company's internal processes or marketing? If so, building something that has a net multiplier on your company is very impressive to employers and shows your value. Do so with a hot new technology you want to learn and it's win win.

As an alternative, use the time to contribute to popular open source projects. That will build yor developer cred and make you more attractive to future employers.

Or take on your own freelance work and get paid double.

dhekimian 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's healthy to worry about your career.

Think about why your current company is keeping you on the payroll. Since it's a business and not a charity, they must believe you're valuable and will have work in the near future in which your skills will be required. If that's not the case then they probably won't keep you on very much longer.

If your employer treats you well and up till now you enjoyed working for them, I suggest you focus on productive ways to help them and keep your job. Remember they've made an investment in onboarding and training you. As others have suggested, working on internal projects or building out sales/training material has a force multiplier effect which makes you even that more valuable to them.

If you don't like working for this employer then go find a new one. From an employer perspective, there is nothing worse than an employee who isn't happy, not being productive and isn't helping the situation. Do everyone a favor and take control of the situation.

Don't forget that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Trading one employer for another isn't always viewed well from an employers perspective.

MrQuincle 18 hours ago 1 reply      
You have the most valuable resource of all: time.

I think if you take a step back you've hundreds of things you could do that you didn't think of.

I'm jealous.

pythonistic 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I had bench time when I was a "consultant." I used it for skills improvement (like learning a new framework or billable service), creating and presenting training materials for formal courses we offered, interviewing candidates, creating white papers, creating internal training materials on new frameworks or new versions, and infrastructure work like pulling cables, setting up hardware, or working on internal tools.

If you're still getting paid, they likely see you as a valuable asset for future projects. It can't hurt to ask if you can help with sales calls to build new skills and relationships, or if there are smaller projects where you can be billable.

dahart 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't feel like this is enough information to give any proper advice, it depends most on factors you haven't outlined.

What is the main reason they're keeping you on, do you think? Are they not paying attention and not accounting for costs, or are they interested in reserving your time and having you owe them some hard work as soon as it's there?

What is your mean reason for staying at this particular company, aside from getting paid to work on pet projects? Are they smart, honest, good people that you're learning from, or is it a paycheck and nothing more?

Have you reached out to your manager and asked for a project repeatedly? Do you have co-workers you can help, even if you're not asked to? What is your main fear, will doing nothing for the company lead to no promotions or less pay or a bad reputation? Will there be repercussions for future jobs if you keep going with this one, or can you get another job easily regardless of what this company thinks about you?

Does getting paid to work on your pet project have more value than working for the company? It's a pretty good deal for you if they don't care about paying for your downtime.

Last time I was in a similar situation, I spent my time doing research and programming competitions. My employer was okay with it, work eventually picked up again and I didn't lose any status in the organization. In the mean time I got to learn a lot, and travel to Spain to present my paper. I had a blast, and I super appreciated the opportunity to explore. I told my employer that, and I worked hard once work picked up, so I walked away with nothing but a positive experience. I was also really lucky.

bollockitis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
During slow periods I would pick a technology I wanted to work with (within reason), and begin working on something I figured would be an improvement on our current systems. I ended up writing a lot valuable stuff that was highly praised but never would have been approved if I had first asked permission.

I did this a few times, not so much to advance my career but because I enjoyed the work and I wanted to learn and be useful. Unfortunately it got me promoted into project management -- which I accepted because I have two young children -- and now I miss my old job.

tunesmith 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, find something else. Some folks are jealous that you're being paid to do nothing, but it really is harmful over the medium and long term. You do have the flexibility to not accept a bad deal, but you should at least be actively looking for something that is clearly better. Part of feeling happy is feeling productive.
kodablah 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Since you are doing nothing, you have time to look for a job IMO. The better question to ask is "Why should I not look for a better job?" If there is no good answer, then you should.
parvatzar 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Utilise this time to learn and prepare for interviews. Its the best time, believe me. You can direct your undivided attention to prepare and interview across different companies as per your skillset. Over time not being in projects or working with real world business problemscan make it hard to get back to the 'zone'. You mentioned pet projects. Collaborate and github to take it to the next level in case you arnt already. This will help you stand out in these interviews. Unless ofcourse if you have been on back to back 'near death march and brutal deadline projects' its good to take some time off. Just my thoughts based on similar moments i have gone through. Cheers and good luck!
vcool07 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it would be wise to try start scouting for opportunities outside of the company. This will also give you a clear picture on what your skills are worth in the current market and if the problem is basically with the company or your profile. If you are not being assigned to any work, it's not really a good sign, so it's better to always keep your options open. Having another offer in hand would also give you some leverage if you want to bring up the topic of unsatisfactory work with your boss in your current role.
ravenstine 17 hours ago 0 replies      
If want someone to give you permission to leave, you don't need that. The question you are asking is its own answer. What you are looking for is not advice but for someone to indirectly assure you that you aren't crazy in feeling this way. I know it sounds harsh for me to point that out, but it's something you should bring into full awareness.

I haven't been in quite the same spot, but I did work for a company that really didn't know what it wanted, so there were long period of either no work or short periods of sudden enthusiasm behind X idea followed by an immediate "no, that's costing us money. kill the project immediately." While it would have done me a disservice to have left the company too soon, I was there for a year before I decided to leave, and even that was too long in retrospect. As others have said, it's soul-sucking and just a waste of time even when you're contently complacent. You have a limited life time and a small supply of creative energy, neither of which your company may deserve. That's just my perspective.

ensiferum 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd say stay, but make sure that if they cut you off quickly you either have some $$$ saved up to sustain yourself or another job prospect to go to.

Anyway, don't worry about your job stagnating. It's just programming... career progression is usually lackluster anyway (don't know your case personally) Also you can always get creative with your CV later on (as you know, work expands to fill the allocated slot).

Think about this you're getting paid to work on your code! What could be better? Just cover your tracks and don't get into any IP dispute over your code ;-)

Edit: If you wanted to use the time for something that could possibly look good on your CV or your employer would appreciate, you can look for some internal software problem to solve, Or make a demo app using your employer's technology stack.

dguaraglia 16 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who's been in a similar situation - being paid to support software that had two minor issues in two long years - I'd say: leave.

You are absolutely right about your career stagnating. Unless you are working on some kick-ass side-project that is making a difference (whether as extra revenue or a useful piece of open source software), you'll probably grow bored and restless. The longer you stay in that state, the longer it'll take you to go back to being functional in a day-to-day team environment. It's not fun.

And always keep in mind: you don't need to make the jump in a vacuum. Use your current situation to your advantage: take your time to find the perfect company for you, with similar compensation and challenging work that'll keep you engage. You won't regret it.

gorbachev 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If my employer paid me to work on my pet projects, and the pet projects involve things that keep me interested and grow my skills in ways that are beneficial to me and my career prospects, I'd stay put.

It'd be a different matter, if you truly weren't doing anything worthwhile or working on something that is not progressing your skills in a good way.

If you can get paid more to do what you do now on your pet projects, I'd obviously jump if I were you. I'd also spend this downtime looking around and potentially getting some practice on interviewing. Put your resume out there, and see if anyone bites. Even if you don't get offers for better jobs, you're getting a good idea of what employers are looking for, and keep your interviewing skills up-to-date.

erikb 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Search for a new job immediately. Be silent and publicly patient, but when nobody watches you continue searching. Stop spending unnecessary money and grow your emergency fund (3, much better 6 months of costs on saving mode).

This kind of situation can turn bad quickly when your bosses start to think why they pay you and how they can use your situation to their advantage in other ways.

It is not a problem as long as another source of money covers your income, but as a coder, how can you know when this source dries out? Timing, knowledge and financial power is against you. Turn away quickly. (speaking from experience if that's not clear enough already)

phantom784 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I was in a similar situation with my first job out of college, except I was basically benched right after being hired - I was never on a project at all. I jumped ship after it was pretty clear that they weren't really trying to find me something to do. It was nice being paid while searching for a job, as I was able to hold out for a better offer.

In retrospect, I suspect that they hired me so that they could say they were hiring Americans to justify getting more visas to bring offshore workers into the states.

opless 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a bunch of great, thought out answers here. Don't TL;DR them.

However asking the question as you have done makes me think that you've already made your mind up (even if you haven't admitted that to yourself yet) and you need validation.

You shouldn't require validation from strangers off the internet, just get up and do something that makes you feel fulfilled. Identify, plan, execute. Your self esteem will thank you. Your SO will thank you, if you have one. The (new) people around you will thank you. That'll be all the validation you need :)

Good luck!

jackyinger 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I would actively seek assignment to a project! At least in the case that you want to stick around and be valued by your employer. I always am searching for more work at work whenever My current project(s) are in a lul. Employers value self motivation.

On the other hand, if none of the work available at your company interests you enough for you to want to pursue it, you probably should be looking for a new job.

Also, I limit my side projects' leakage into the work day to a few peeks into API docs or datasheets, anything more is inviting trouble.

dsmithatx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Depends on your financial situation. If you have no savings then you should start silently finding another job today.

If you can afford to not have this job tomorrow you might try to start your own Gig. Many of us would kill for lot of downtime to start our own company.

I've also had friends who are able to start a new job and work both. This might be questionably legal/ethical depending on how you do it and how well you can keep secrets.

otikik 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I would definitively take this time to hone my axe and get a side project going. Also doing some exercise.

Beware that your contract might include some clause which automatically gives your company ownership of whatever you produce while working for them.

Joeri 17 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're worried about your resume, just use the down time to pad it with new skills.

Maybe something like this?https://www.coursera.org/specializations/scala

yoones 16 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a third solution to your situation: keep your current job and take freelance/remote projects. You make way more money, you have things to do and show, and you can always decide to leave this position if it stagnates.
sharemywin 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I would focus on a side project that challenges your technical skills. I would put those down on my resume as projects at your current company.
jorgemf 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As they are paying you I would do a course or learn anything I wanted to learn. It can be related with your career, so you don't get stuck.
bArray 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Simple, take their money and improve yourself. Spend time doing things that make you happy and content.
gigatexal 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Nope you should leave and find something more stimulating. You can sit around and get paid for doing nothing when you're retired.
FatAmericanDev 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you told your boss you have time to do more? Tell us about your interactions with your direct supervisor.
stpedgwdgfhgdd 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I suggest that you move on. Staying in your current position is not good for your self esteem. It might make you or your brain lazy. This will make it harder to find a new job. And of course there is so much (fun things) to do out there. Take the high road.

Good luck,


timwaagh 18 hours ago 0 replies      
haha thats a perfect opportunity to earn two salaries instead of one. just go do some templates for some client. yes its not allowed. but who is gonna notice.
ydnaclementine 19 hours ago 1 reply      
If you work remote, go for the two full time jobs route
rdiddly 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I challenge the idea that it will be "probably bad in the long term." Because 1) there won't be a long term, and 2) what happens, is up to you.

1) No company can afford to keep you on the payroll indefinitely when you're not generating revenue for them. If (after some amount of time known only to them) they can't put you to work, they will have to let you go.

2) How you chose to spend this time, how well you took advantage of this opportunity currently presented to you, will determine the whole good/bad thing. If you play video games and wait for a phone call, it will be bad. If you do things that get your name out there/increase your visibility, or that increase your skills, or both, it will be good. Ways to accomplish that would include working on open-source projects, creating classes/tutorials for Udemy or the like, going to local networking events or better yet giving presentations at them, and so on. Basically I would act as though you are actively looking for something else, without actually leaving. It needn't be a bad faith thing... who knows, you might end up getting some company interested in you, and having them hire your employer to get your services, thereby getting a new client for your employer.

Ask HN: Moving to Front End Engineering after 10 years in back end, worth it?
34 points by sidcool  1 day ago   30 comments top 13
papaf 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I ended up on a frontend project recently and I am doing my best to get out of it. Its a nightmare.

Imagine a scripting language that you have to compile into another scripting language. Lessons from decades of shared experience completely ignored, terrible IDE support, framework descriptions that are more snakeoil than technical documentation, the worst dependency hell there is with minor updates breaking APIs, and an unhealthy worship of Google and Facebook.

No offence intended to Javascript programmers -- I just don't like frontend development.

wayn3 12 hours ago 1 reply      
If you have 10 years of experience and still think of yourself as "a backend guy", you're doing something massively wrong.

No offense. Your skills should be applicable across the board. You either have a confidence issue or haven't developed skills that are in line with your experience.

There's no reason for you to not be able to " move to front-end ", although I don't get why anyone would want to do that. It's an undocumented mess, dominated by hipsterish framework cults.

This is going to be offensive to the front-end crowd, but if you need a new framework every other month, at some point you have to realise that the underlying technology is garbage and needs to be replaced.

I've gone through the react tutorial multiple times and I still don't get it. I don't get how to build it (webpack info npm or whatever), I don't get how to do things because there is no documentation. And that's not because im slow. Yesterday I picked up ethereum from scratch, evaluated three of their languages and deployed my first smart contract on a 4 hour train ride. And ethereum isn't exactly well documented either.

But try googling react api and enjoy the non-results. Impossible to understand unless you're part of the cult. Requires full immersion. Front-end seems to have gone full retard and citizens of the internet know to never go full retard.

Nothing compares to the mess that is front-end development.

mmosta 20 hours ago 2 replies      
With the rise of single page applications there is immense demand for the rigor and form that seasoned back-end developers can bring to front-end teams.

Immense state trees, webworkers, asynchronous changes, tiered caching, pre-emptive fetching, modularization, optimistic rendering, validation, behavioral analytics, testing and more.

This is all without even getting started on actual presentational aspects.

The pace of the ecosystem in recent years and the immense amount of legacy code (10 years+) that doesn't scale to growing teams/projects is a problem everywhere you look.

The good news is companies looking to bring their front-end up to date are facing the same foreboding sense you have that comes with the unfamiliar.

Fragmentation is coalescing around major frameworks and fringe features from a few years ago are standards today.

It's not too late, understanding the tooling is critical (end-to-end IDE through to the browser and beyond) and will provide you with a solid basis.Follow this up by reading the APIs of major frameworks then pick one (any one, it doesn't matter) and build something with it.

frigg 19 hours ago 1 reply      
From my very limited view in my opinion it's not worth it. There is an abundance of new frameworks and libraries and everybody wants to go for the "new cool thing". Things break a lot, things change fast and you need to always learn new stuff which are not necessarily better. It seem annoying and overkill to keep up with everything in the front-end world. Plus, there are no interesting problems to solve there.
user5994461 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Terrible idea. Stay away from that.

Everything is changing every year, pushed by young people who have no clue what they are doing and don't care about hours and work conditions.

Meanwhile, companies exploit them as much as they can to make new products and get all the returns of their work.

You have access to a much broader set of jobs with Java and Scala.

CodeTheInternet 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Should you gain more experience with front-end, especially Javascript? Yes.

Should you change career paths to front-end? Absolutely not. Front-end is just that; web development. With Java and Ruby experience, you're not stuck to just web development but can branch off into other fields much easier.

bobbytherobot 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it worth it?

From a financial standpoint, it depends. The range that is front-end covers a vast range of talent. A person could be labeled front-end while theming WordPress websites, while another person is also front-end working on a large product where engineering practices are important. In that range, the pay is going to greatly vary: $30k - $250k.

From an enjoyment standpoint, it too depends. If you enjoy solving user facing problems, then front-end is your thing. It isn't just about how to you retrieve the data, but how does the user interact with querying and then reading the results.

The front-end landscape does appear scary, but you need to realize that you are seeing a much wider landscape than you are with Scala and Ruby. Compare the front-end landscape to the data storage landscape. You got MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, Redis, Mongo, Solr, Active Record, Datamapper, Hadoop, etc. If you tried to master all of it and follow every new library that came out, you would go mad. So you focus on a certain area while occasionally looking around. Do the same thing for front-end. Do you want to be working on large-scale applications, then focus on things like React and TypeScript - things meant to solve large-scale issues. If you want to make brochure websites, then focus on jQuery and CSS.

wmil 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I should warn you that employers tend to look at front end skills as an excuse to pay you less.

The upside is that they're much more transferable between companies. Everyone wants to hire experts in their current back end stack, but everyone needs CSS & JS.

wyclif 1 day ago 1 reply      
Front-end is fast moving indeed. I don't have any definitive answers for you, other than to say that in the front-end vs. back-end equation, front-end is lot less stable and is going to require more time keeping up with new developments.
wolco 19 hours ago 0 replies      
A bigger question would be are you willing to take a step back. In your previous role you were probably fairly senior developer. Moving to the frontend you'll probably be more junior are you okay with that change?
bsvalley 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Sure, it's also what we call a fullstack developer ;)
1ba9115454 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I've never understood the split between front end and back end.

Whenever I've assigned web work to developers I assign in terms of functionality and they write front and back. I think this is quicker than trying to communicate between two teams.

But to answer the question, why not. Then you're a full stack developer.

Mayzie 8 hours ago 0 replies      
ITT: Lots of front-end bashing and humour.
Ask HN: What would it take to build the Etsy of Food?
4 points by dawhizkid  9 hours ago   6 comments top 2
RoyTyrell 8 hours ago 1 reply      
You're probably correct that the largest hurdle is food safety and legal issues. I'm not sure about every state, but I know in my state food for sale must be prepared in a legally defined "commercial kitchen" which is only allowed to be used for preparing that food not for home use (i.e. can't use your home kitchen).

Frankly, if the company ran even 1% like Uber in the sense of "maybe we'll ask forgiveness" and just do what they like, people will die.

joeclark77 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I think you first need to explain what "the Etsy of Food" is. What do you have in mind, exactly?
Ask HN: I don't want to be a founder anymore
556 points by throwaway10595  4 days ago   468 comments top 95
throwanem 4 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know directly from any of this, because I am an unlettered redneck with air-cooled teeth and a net worth in the middle four figures. But if I had a serious prospect of ending up with genuine fuck-you money, and all I had to do to get it was keep doing what I was already doing and gut it out for a few more years, then that is precisely what I would do, to the best of my ability.

I get that you're suffering, and I am not without compassion. But the kinds of jobs you're fantasizing about are kinds of jobs I've had. They are not without stress, as you imagine them to be. They are physically wearing and not at all secure, but most of all, the kind of stress that comes with those jobs - more to the point, that comes with those jobs being the best prospect you have - is not a kind of stress that ends, save to give way to something worse.

Your current travail, conversely, certainly will end, and based on what admittedly little I know about how startups work, you have a very real prospect of a great big payoff at the end of it. It would, I think, be the regret of a lifetime to squander that enrichment of all your years in search of a more comfortable day after tomorrow.

webwright 4 days ago 6 replies      
(source: I've twice left my own companies- both companies continued to grow and prosper after I left).

Personally, I'd suck it up and get the sale done, working hard to make the price as front-loaded as possible. Depending on the buyers appetite for you to keep working there you could:

A) Suggest that you're excited to stay with the business, but if they feel there'd be too many chefs in the kitchen and that you should phase out, you'd like to know about that now... i.e. open the door for them to express how critical you are to the deal.

B) If they DO really want you, push hard for a front-loaded deal (i.e. initial payout versus earn out) and then give notice 6 months after the deal closes. You'll leave some (maybe lots) of $ on the table, but who cares. Selling a company isn't indentured servitude. Someone else owning the company might relieve some stress. If it doesn't, punt.

Broadly-- I'm a believer that happiness is generally internal. If you can't find a way to be happy with this job, I suspect you'll have a hard time with a different one. Starting ASAP, I'd make some changes to see if it makes a difference. Get therapy. Try anti-depressants. Shut off your phone at 6pm and don't open your computer. The sky won't fall. Exercise. Meditate. Try psychedelic mushrooms (only half kidding-- there are some studies that one dose positively impacts depression and anxiety). Eat better. Go into work late AM twice a week so you can take a long walk with your wife. Schedule vacations. Go into the woods a lot (exposure to green space helps depression too). I just read that doing tai chi helps with depression. Schedule weekly lunches with friends.

ridgeguy 4 days ago 2 replies      
First, talk this over with your wife. She deserves to know what's going on with you and you need her counsel and strength.

Second, recognize that an acquisition is a change of life - that can certainly make one feel anxious and depressed, no matter how much you may have looked forward to this milestone.

Third, nobody is indispensable. If you died in a car crash today, the company would find a way to continue.

In your place, I'd go through with the acquisition (and do my duty to my investors & employees). When the dust settles (3-6 months), I'd go to my Board of Directors and tell them I need to change roles at the company. That would include dropping all my day-to-day responsibilities and dropping back from full-time. Be explicit that you're on a transition out of the company, and you want it to be orderly (for the company's benefit) and time-limited (for your benefit). When the time expires, leave with thanks and go live your life. Good luck and congratulations!

mabbo 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Each morning for the past couple months, my first thought has been "What could today be like if I didn't work here?". I drift off into exploring what it would be like to work at Wal Mart, or the construction site outside, or as a bagger at a grocery store. It seems so stress free.

Here's the thing- it probably isn't stress free, just different kinds of stress. And you also need to ask yourself whether the feelings are caused by your job and stress, or if they're just coinciding with them.

As many others have said, look into talking to a therapist.

Also, talk to you wife about this! If she was crying the same way, you'd want to know, and you'd want her to trust you enough to tell you. If there's any person you need to be able to open up to, it's your spouse.

chatmasta 4 days ago 8 replies      
Take a vacation, preferably to a beach. Use it to learn what processes at your company are dependent on you. Then when you get back, start documenting and delegating every process until you are no longer a critical dependency. Then take another, longer vacation. Sounds like you need one.
ori_b 4 days ago 3 replies      
Groom someone to take over your role. Be honest with your cofounders, tell them you're feeling burned out and you need to take a step back to keep your sanity.

> The product is just too complicated (tons of domain knowledge required) for someone to come in and take over.

I doubt that this is actually true. It may take them time to ramp up, but you're there to guide them and mentor them.

> Additionally, the product just isn't that interesting (glorified CRUD app) and it's been hard to retain developers.

The fact that you're deeply involved and don't feel that other developers can step in, and at the same time feel like it's a glorified CRUD app hints that you may not be giving other developers enough autonomy or context on the problem.

If they are just working on simple CRUD stuff and have no context, the job is going to suck. But simple CRUD with context could be much more interesting.

And if all else fails, pay more.

dfuhriman 4 days ago 6 replies      
The problem you are experiencing is a result of the lack of systems and processes in your business.

You need to make an important hire- you are missing a systematic. See, creatives like you are awesome at solving problems but hate to have structure and order because it doesn't allow you 100% freedom. But, as a result, you just have 100% creativity/problem solving- which is draining. The worst thing is, you can't even create the order you need to manage these things.

Systematics create structure and order in dynamic environments.

I wrote a book about this and other problems with innovation and how to solve them. It will be published later this year, but happy to provide an advanced copy to help work through seeing the problems you are facing.

The systematics in your business are meant to free you from the ongoing crap that you are experiencing.

bsvalley 4 days ago 6 replies      
There is a huge misunderstanding from people in tech regarding blue collar jobs. You guys are way too naive about what it entails to work at a grocery store or on a construction site.

I've done it a few times during summer while studying CS to pay for my bills. They do shifts from 4am-12pm, or 12pm-8pm, or even night shift... They treat you like a bad kid, you get humiliated 24h/7 by who ever is higher in the "hierarchy". On top of that your body takes a hit since most of these jobs are very physical. You get back home sore, exhausted, sometimes it turns into real health issues like tendonitis, chronic lower back pain, etc. Trust me after 2 months working at a factory you'd hate your life. You'd hate yourself. Some people get stuck in this nasty world for decades...

You-I-we, the tech people, love to think there's a better world out there by lowering the level to its bare minimum. It's actually the opposite effect but you have to experience it to understand what I'm talking about. So go back to work and keep cashing out, or, go fishing on an island.

scottbartell 4 days ago 5 replies      
Are you familiar with the concept of the False dilemma[0]? It seems as if you've limited yourself to an "either/or" situation when in fact there are countless other possible solutions to this problem.

Here are some possible alternatives:

- find a leadership coach and/or mentor

- delegate the parts of your job that you like the least

- find a way to reduce stress in your life (exercise, hobby, etc)

- try professional therapy

- share how you feel with your friends and/or family (maybe even leadership team)

- take a vacation

- work less

- define and respect clear work/life boundaries for yourself

- read about/learn how to manage stress more effectively

- create a project plan for yourself (what do _you_ want to accomplish for _yourself_ in the next 3,6,12 months)

I could go on and on.

Another thing I think that you should ask yourself is: would you really be happier working at WalMart? Is it really this specific job and role that's causing your unhappiness? Is there really nothing you can change to make you job more enjoyable? Is it possible that you're creating your own unhappiness?

From personal experience I highly recommend finding a great leadership coach. I had a leadership coach who really helped me tackle some potentially similar challenges I was having.

If you want to talk more feel free to ping me. Good luck!

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

apohn 4 days ago 0 replies      
The last company I worked for acquired 2-3 companies per year, And it became obvious that in some cases the people who part of the acquisition were burned out and wanted to be free of their responsibilities. But they didn't have the financial wherewithal to just quit and move on.

A lot of them shifted into roles with different but less critical responsibilities. One person basically just turned into an evangelist, meeting customers and painting visions. It wasn't easy for them to keep going, but it's easier to keep going in that type of position because they weren't responsible for keeping the lights on.

I realize this isn't an answer, but maybe this is a way to keep going if you decide to stay with whomever acquires your company.

>The product is just too complicated (tons of domain knowledge required) for someone to come in and take over.

This is a very heavy burden. I was here once as an individual contributor and I ended up in the same state you are in now. It was absolutely awful. Even if somebody can't take over 100%, can they take over 25%?

Also, as others have said, find somebody to talk to. Assuming you have a decent marriage, cry in front of your wife so she knows what's going on. It's hard to move when you feel the whole world is resting on your shoulders.

coreyp_1 4 days ago 4 replies      
You're right: 1 person can't replace you. Can 3? Can 5? You must reorganize, if merely to save your sanity. Hire 1 person and start training them, then hire the next.

For 1 week, write down everything that you do for your company, and then group the like tasks in order to figure out how many/what type of person(people) to hire/train. Start looking for that person, while writing down everything that you do the 2nd week. Rinse and repeat as you go through the month/quarter, and you should develop a better idea of what it will take to replace you.

The LOI writers know that you are doing the job of multiple people, and that you are indispensable, and that's why they want to require you to stay. Make yourself replaceable, and then there would be no need for you to stay. Work from a beach if you want, but take action now to permanently lessen your stress.

Feel free to reach out if you want to talk (or just vent) privately. You can find me through info in my HN profile.

reckoner2 4 days ago 4 replies      
There are professionals out there whose job it is to help out people in situations like yours. Before you make any life changing decisions I would talk to one.

CEO's, Hedgefund Managers, Sport Stars, they all talk to psychologists. Give it a try.

jly 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is minor depression, related to your work. I would emphasize that your thoughts are not irrational or misplaced, no matter how much money is on the table or how the situation might look to an outsider. The fact that you are currently hiding it is also not abnormal. Your mind is unconsciously focusing energy on analysis of your problems and how you might solve them, and you may be on the edge of signaling for help, implied by the crying.

Youre tightly ensnared in an overly restrictive set of obligations. Perhaps its classic burnout from just plain working too much in a demanding role, or perhaps you have new ideas about how to make a living that would require new employment which is restricted by your LOI terms. Perhaps it's something else altogether or a combination of things. In any case, the symptoms are a direct response to these socially-imposed constraints hindering your pursuit of something more appealing, that in your view are beyond conventional means of renegotiation.

It would help immensely to talk with someone - therapist, your wife, etc - and help work through why you are feeling this way and what changes can be made to alleviate the mismatch. There are many good pieces of advice already in the comments here. Just remember that things cannot continue the way they are now without some kind of situational change (not drugs) or your symptoms will only get worse and more debilitating. Good luck.

Lordarminius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have a few thoughts.

First of all it sounds a lot to me like you are suffering from burnout. You need to see someone about this (not necessarily a health professional, perhaps a mentor or confidant, someone accessible, whose opinions you respect)

You have come a long way and achieved something that is not trivial. You are entitled to cash out. I am however wary of the terms you hint at. I would NEVER do a deal where a significant portion of my compensation is dependent on future income from the business I am selling. NEVER.Once the acquirer takes over, decisions are out of your hands and it is his/her prerogative to grow the business or run it down. Why should you tie yourself to such an uncertain future ?My reading of your situation is that you should try to get a deal where you stay on only long enough to transfer your knowledge to your replacement. 1 year is sufficient for that; 4 years essentially makes you a bonded servant.Have you retained the services of a professional to help with the acquisition? If 'No', do so asap.

I mention these points because although your intention is not to stir up a debate about terms of purchase, I think they stand out as potentially significant stressors.

Every field looks green when you are in burn-out-land but resist the temptation to think that dish-washing, bar tending or whatever menial task you presently romanticize, represents a step up from your present condition.I agree with @bsvalley. His answer is on point.

I would talk to the missus. That's what she's there for - moral support; but its difficult to give support to a person who hasn't asked for it.

Finally. I will say congratulations! You are on the last lap of a very difficult race. Not many people get to this point. Don't falter here. The reward for all your effort and sacrifice will be financial freedom, time for leisure and a sense of accomplishment - and maybe opportunity (on much better terms) to become a bartender after all :)

ParameterOne 4 days ago 0 replies      
After astronauts came back from space a lot of them became alcoholics or developed other problems. NASA found that the reason for this is because most of them had only one goal in life, one target, to travel in to space. (what tops that!) With out any other goals they became lost, confused, and depressed. I say stay and take the buyout, and while you are bored in your boring day job chair, start thinking of awesome new goals, big and small, great new things to change your life, make a huge list of them that will keep you going till you are well over a hundred years old.
arkades 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do internet diagnoses, but before you make any career- or life-altering decisions:

You need to meet with a psychiatrist (MD) and be screened for depression.

Being Depressed doesn't feel the way you think it does, and you're throwing up several flags.

Please consider that your emotions right now might not be what you think they are, and that for mild depression (which one often sees in people in stressful life situations), very mild medications can be greatly efficacious.

Please, please take this advice seriously.

- an anonymous health care professional, who's been where you are.

8f2ab37a-ed6c 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a complex issue, but at least as far as your mental health goes: reach out to your doc, get connected with a therapist.

I've been in a very similar situation as a first time founder for over half a decade, and getting professional help to deal with anxiety, burnout and depression was super helpful. I was spending days staring at the screen phasing out, couldn't get out of bed, crying, deriving no pleasure from anything, and all that jazz. This lasted over a year before it got bad enough I had to reach out for help. I was going to either quit and/or accidentally take the company down with me.

No pills involved to fix it in my case, just a lot of techniques and practices prescribed by the therapist that help you keep your sanity over the long term. You can get over it within a couple of months if you are diligent about staying on top of the process.

I suspect that almost every high performer who pushes hard in their career will eventually get to this point, it's normal, you need to learn how to deal with the level of anxiety that these positions can induce. Just like most super successful people have coaches, I think most super successful people have therapists keeping them afloat.

lastofus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think part of the problem is that being a founder of a profitable tech company is painted as the promise land, filled with riches and being the master of your own destiny.

The reality is that it's a job like any other, but with way more stress, hours, responsibility, and people's livelihood depending on you not fucking up.

A big part of the problem is that it is rather difficult to talk about burnout, depression, etc with others as people think you are living the dream. Not to mention, it's expected you keep up appearances as the person steering the ship.

The only way to survive this and keep going is to find people you open up to, to talk things out and work through the shit. It kind of sounds like you are keeping this from your wife, at least in part, which is a big red flag. If you don't feel comfortable sharing everything with your partner in life, who can you talk to for support?

Don't keep on trying to fix this on your own.

masukomi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Once upon a time i was pretty similarly stressed about my situation. I had a good job, and worked with good people, but was just completely burnt out. Based on my personal experience i believe that you will end up destroying yourself, the people you love, and possibly harming your company, with this all consuming depression.

Get out.

For me i spent a month riding my motorcycle across the country. Came back, worked for a little while met a fantastic woman, then quit and spent four months riding our motorcycles from Boston to the bottom of South America. Came back, and started working again. Of course, 6 years later i'm daydreaming about doing it all over again. ;)

When i was young I was the child of an artist. We were pretty effing poor. But, we had food. We had a roof over our heads, and every day my mother worked doing something she loved. We were happy. Money isn't everything.

Now, you've got the compounding aspect of the acquisition and not wanting to screw over your friends/coworkers just because you're depressed as all get-out. You are absolutely wrong that you can't offload your work to someone else (as you noted in the comments). You probably can't hand it over today, but you can start training someone else, and if you're like most people who think that then you're probably overestimating your capabilities and underestimating those of the people around you.

I think you need to get out. Even if you decide to stay, you absolutely need to start offloading your stuff.

Also. talk to your wife more about this, and maybe talk to a psychiatrist. Many of us have aversions to them but they have tools they can offer you to help you work through the more difficult moments until you can get yourself out of this situation in a way that works for you.

sarah180 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Sucking it up" isn't actually an option. You're describing a mental health crisis. Unless other people might literally die (e.g., you're a soldier, police officer, etc) then your job is not worth sacrificing your own life.

Consider another perspective: if you get to the breaking point, which you're near, you're going to leaveeither because you quit or because you wind up in a hospital. You think you're importantbut you are not helping the company if your only options are to quit or die of overwork. Both of those situations end up with 0% of your energy going to the business.

Many people mentioned therapy, which I think is a good idea for everybody. My recommendation is to draw a boundary. Say "here's how much energy I feel comfortable putting in." Then really reflect on how to use that energy in the way that will help the company the most. That might mean hiring or training people. It might mean continuing to do what you do now, but letting more things fall to othersor just letting some things not happen.

You are more valuable to your company if you are healthy and present than if you are unhealthy and quit. When you start to feel "my only option is to quit because I'm too important" you're just indulging in a fantasy of running away.

gdubs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have you ever meditated before? Sometimes in these situations our minds just swirl non-stop and we spend all of our time aganozing over everything that might happened, or has happened.

Meditation can help quiet your mind, and for a lot of people it can lead to being able to appreciate what's happening right now, in this moment.

Nike founder Phil Knight said, "if all you see are problems, you're not thinking straight."

You're probably not getting enough sleep. Perhaps consider taking a day or two to really just rest. No matter how important everything seems, you can almost always take a day or two. In fact, it sounds like you pretty much can't afford not to take a day or two and rest. Really sleep.

I'm a believer in the idea that when we're rested, when our thoughts our quiet, we're able to see the right way forward. When things feel hopeless we're often just burnt, and need to rest.

Phil Jackson, the champion NBA coach wrote a lot about his mediation practice. He had plenty of times in his life were he felt the way you're describing. He said knowing how to breath and quiet his mind saved him from many sleepless nights.

Good luck and remember everything feels better after a solid 8 hours of sleep.

o2l 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have not been a founder of any company so I can't comment on that part. But I can strongly related to this part - "what it would be like to work at Wal Mart, or the construction site outside, or as a bagger at a grocery store"

I am a passionate web developer but a few months ago, I had these exact same thoughts mainly about switching to a low stress job. Later I realised that I needed a break badly and the monotonousness of work ( building some kind of CRUD all day ) for me personally was making my life severely discomforting. So I left the job against everyone's advice and for the next few months I had terrible arguments with my family about this decision. But I was at peace the moment after I left the job and I think it was the right decision, even though my family wants me to regret it.

It's not that you hate what you do, but you definitely need a break and not just like a vacation, but actual handing over of responsibilities to someone else. After a few months, I felt like being back into the business and the optimism for work was back.

So this is probably against what everyone else is advising here but if you don't like it, leave it. Your wife should understand this too, if this is so important to you that it makes you cry. And definitely take up a stress free job for a change. It should help.

As far as leaving the company goes, you might find someone in ranks just below you who could be able enough to take over most aspects of your position.

Let me know, if you think this is a completely wrong advice.

nhod 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would recommend investing in a CEO or Executive Coach. It is lonely at the top even with mentors and spouses. Hiring my CEO Coach years ago was among the best decisions I have ever made on any level. It paid for itself immediately certainly from a financial perspective, but also (and more importantly) from an emotional and mental health perspective. This, in turn, allowed me to see things through new eyes and push through barriers I otherwise was stuck behind. I became a better leader, a better husband, and a better person as a result, and I transformed my life and my company in the process. Not sure if it's kosher or not to push someone's services here but I don't really care; this particular coach changed my life for the better, and I know he could change yours too. Dale Larson at Startup Happiness: https://startuphappiness.com/
wpietri 4 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding hiring somebody for the day-to-day, maybe you'll find this story from another founder useful:


I suggest that you have two kinds of problem: a daily happiness deficit and a long-term happiness debt. Your day-to-day life has been grinding you down for a while.

You'll have to make two kinds of changes. One is to pay down the giant debt. E.g., once you get acquired, take a serious vacation. But the other, the more important one, is to make sure that most days are at least modestly positive for you.

I'd also suggest you find a therapist. You may have to try a few before you find one that's a good match. They can help you figure out whether it's depression or just a reasonable reaction to a bad situation. Either way, they can also help you figure out ways of coping

Think of it like hiring a lawyer: Sure, you could figure all the contracts out yourself, but the lawyer has more training and much more experience. It's the same deal with therapy. A good therapist will be able to see patterns you are missing because they have seen it many times before.

Feel free to email me (contact info in my profile). I'm glad to correspond or talk on the phone if you'd like to discuss this further.

mindcrime 4 days ago 1 reply      
I mean, it's hard to truly know what somebody else is experiencing and to give advice in a situation like that. But if you're that close to an acquisition and if the acquistion stands to make a material difference in your life going forward (like, does it get you to "fu money"), then I'd lean towards "suck it up and stay long enough to cash out". OTOH, if the acquisition gets you, say, enough money for a new car, but not enough to retire, (just to use made up parameters), then maybe it makes sense to just walk away. But even then, I wonder if you'll feel a lot of regret over spending so much time building something, and then walking away right before a big milestone.

Maybe a nice, long vacation would be a good step before making any drastic decisions. Could you arrange to take 3-4 weeks off and go somewhere quiet and relax for a bit before deciding?

endlessvoid94 4 days ago 1 reply      
How big is the company?

You're right to identify this as a hard problem. I've been in your exact shoes before. 100+ person company, the weight is heavy.

The good news is that it's totally possible to get out without wrecking the company's outlook. But it does take a minor amount of time investment. Perhaps it's possible to view it as a new challenge: how to quickly hire or find someone within your org who is capable of taking over your day-to-day responsibilities? Who do people ask for decisions / advice when you're out sick?

Frame it as a promotion for them. Give them a (small) comp bump and a new set of responsibilities that include most (or all) of your existing responsibilities.

Coach them for a quarter, give them enough rope to hang themselves with, give them radically candid feedback, and then you can step away. (Or even go do something else interesting at the company!)

I can go into a lot more detail if you'd like -- please email me. The username in my profile (not my HN handle) at gmail.

Good luck, positive vibes!

P.S. Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqmdLcyES_Q as a jumpstart to getting your org ready for life without you

rbobby 4 days ago 0 replies      
You could be suffering from major depression, aka clinical depression (maybe not... but some of what you said rings that warning bell for me). The crying in the shower is probably the biggest bell ringer for me.

I've known a couple of tech types (one dev, one a pm) that both found out that they were clinically depressed. They've both bounced back from it and are their old selves again.

Major depression is a serious medical issue and can happen to anyone... there's nothing to be ashamed of (and anyone who thinks otherwise is ignorant). Treatment is usually talk therapy and antidepressants (and usually some time away from work... expecting a sick person to be at work while they're undergoing treatment is plain wrong).

Googling "major depression" will show you lots of resources... but talking to your doctor about this is your first step (this can be tough... but you can do it). Don't put that off. Especially don't put that off due to worry about step 2 though N.

So... your 2 options are really 3: See a doctor!

Best of luck (and feel free to reach out and I'll offer what advice/help I can).

agitator 4 days ago 1 reply      
Dude, talk to your wife about it. I feel like I wouldn't get through 50% of the stress in life without having someone who cares about me more than I do to bounce ideas and thoughts off of.
molyss 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't already have professional help (therapy), seek some.

I've experience the hour long crying showers first hand, and I don't wish it to anyone. Don't minimize how you feel, and don't blame/shame yourself. Therapy can be scary and still cary a stigma, but it's basically allowed me to be myself.

I am no founder myself, so I don't pretend to know what you're going through, but I know the symptoms. Let me know if you want to discuss this further

yanilkr 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can relate to the pain. The mind seems to never stop and it seems to be in a perpetual state of anxiety.

I dealt with burnout several times. The only thing that helped me deal with it was turn off electronic devices after certain time of the day and before certain time of the day. No tv, no phone, no laptop, not even your favorite meditation app. Do anything which does not involve electronics or information heavy.

Much other advice about how to deal with such issues over long term are easier said than done. Some of my favorite ideas are

Build sustainability into your engineering, product and sales process. It's like running a marathon. If you run too fast in the beginning, you get tired so easily.

Be less outcome dependent and more discipline driven. If you plan to make incremental progress, you will eventually have something stable and it gets easy to continue. If you need a constant rush of positive outcomes to get you to do something, it does not build resilience to last longer.

threesixandnine 4 days ago 2 replies      
Go work on a contruction site for a few days. You'll be running back to your old 'miserable life', believe you me.

What is it with this romantic view of supposedly stress free jobs of filling shelves with food or digging a hole for a garden tree ( the easiest thing in construction ).

I feel your pain since I get similar feelings as you sometimes but then I remember 20 something me doing roofing and breaking ice on a path with a big ass hammer for tourists to enjoy a walk around the lake. It sucks.

I can only offer you one solution that I would personally do if I were at your place right now... Sell asap and move on.

cathaeichert 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It is always the things we do not have that we crave the most, don't let yourself be fouled by the romantic "when finally this and that will have happened, when finally I work at McDonald's" ideas.

As a psychologist it sounds to me like you're in a serious crisis, a mixture of burn out, depression and lack of meaning. There is no "trick" to magically just "snap out of it". You might find counseling, coaching or therapy useful (especially logotherapy which focuses on finding meaning in life). Please do not just see a GP to get some drugs, antidepressants treat a symptom (namely brain chemistry) but it doesn't solve the underlying Probleme.Just "sucking it up" will not work, please do not mistake mental problems as "oh it's ONLY mental, it's not like I'm REALLY ill" - psychological problems are DEADLY!! Depression on deadly!

From my point of view it would be best not to give up all that you worked for for so long but to find someone you can train in your job and who can help you out. It might look like only you can do this job because it's so complex but it will not all collapse when you find someone to help you out for now, who you can train to learn how you manage stuff. They will learn and they will be able to manage it even though that might seem unrealistic to you at the moment. You NEED to take care of yourself before doing anything else at the moment. Don't go "but I have to be strong now and push through this" ... You will only become more miserable...Many people find it helpful to talk to a counselor to get a clearer picture about what they need now and how they can overcome their current struggle. Feel free to message me on Catharina.eichert@gmx.net if you have any questions, I'm happy to help out if anything I said resonated with you. Kind regards, Catharina

gumby 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've been there. I was unhappy, I left, I felt better. Later I started other businesses.

In my case the threshold is ~200 people; after that I don't really recognize everyone. In once case I was having fun but my wife was miserable.

In all these cases I was glad I left.

Now: if an acquisition truly is imminent, and you can hang on a bit longer, go for it. The buyer will be able to find someone to run the business, perhaps internal, perhaps not. It likely won't happen overnight (unless they have someone in mind already) but some pressure will come off you immediately.

If the acquisition isn't truly imminent you can indeed start looking for someone to run the business. Believe me there are people with domain experience and executional experience you can find. Use an executive headhunter. Have your board members help.

Sounds like burnout. Take it seriously, but it doesn't mean all is lost! Those LOIs are light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh, and consider therapy. You may or may not need drugs, but they probably aren't the first line of therapy. The talk therapy is good, and as a CEO you probably have nobody else to talk to about certain things -- especially if you think you can't talk to your spouse about stuff. Talk therapy is not a sign of weakness -- in fact you sound like the kind of person who has their act together (probably you don't feel like it, but your note says you understand something's not right), and so you probably will benefit a lot from it. Many people in the valley, especially top execs, are in therapy and it helps them a lot.

lunaru 4 days ago 0 replies      
Being a founder is tough and the grind several years in can feel like a heavy burden. However, it sounds like with the LOI, you might be looking at an opportunity that comes with a welcome change of pace.

Directly answering your original question, I would take a serious look at option #2 ("Suck it up and work on the same thing for 2-5 more years").

In my personal experience, I sold my previous company to a much larger company some years back and it was a great change. Even though it was "working on the same thing" for 3 more years, there were new people to meet and new challenges to tackle. After all, humans are a social species and just having a different set of people to interact with can be a much needed change.

You might be thinking you'll be working on the same problems, but really it will be nothing alike. Your work might get better or it might get worse, but I guarantee that you and your company post-acquisition will be experiencing something very different. And I'm not just talking about the money part. That might be very helpful to get you out of this unhappy burnout.

If you need someone to chat with over email about what might be upcoming if you decide to take the deal, feel free to hit me up. Contact info in profile.

brightball 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a little late on this one but I'd echo what many others here have said, find a way to push through to the sale and then talk with the board to first, distribute your workload and/or define an exit strategy.

You're essentially sitting on a lottery ticket and when it hits, you'll have a heck of a lot more free time.

Just looking at this from another perspective, I tried running a contract programming business for a few years that sucked up my life and eventually put me in the hospital at age 30. That business never consistently made money. Contract programming is very much a peaks-and-valleys experience and once you experience that for long enough you end up working like that. You kill yourself on the peaks in hopes to not experience the valleys. When it was over I was so happy to have a 40 hour a week job...it's a vacation by comparison.

Consistency is the key. If you've got something that is generating a steady income, enough that it's profitable enough to be acquired...then it's on you to scale yourself down.

It's also within your ability to do so. I see that you've cited domain specific knowledge. All knowledge can be learned and taught. You might not be able to hire somebody off the street like that, but you can most likely hire a few people and delegate. If the work isn't interesting, then you need to find a way to enhance the experience for people working there. Make the hours creative or the opportunity unique. See if you can find ways to let people experiment or add their own flavor to it. If it's wood-chopping dull, then maybe those creative efforts are better focused on automating the day to day?

Wrote about my experience here if it helps:


throwaway122394 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a founder I can definitely relate.

Everyday driving to/from the office my chest is so tight it feels hard to breath. I constantly think about my old friends that have real weekends, have time for hobbies, and get to leave their work at work.

The main reason I keep going is that I actually enjoy the work. When I take a break I get excited about going back and continuing to build the company.

Having worked landscaping/construction before starting a company, I can say I often think fondly of the simplicity of those jobs. Though when I was there I all I could think about was starting my own company.

You really need to find a way to be happy regardless of what you're doing. That may be by just cutting back on how much you are working, delegating more, and finding meaning outside of work.

jacquesm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, you're about to be acquired. Tough it out, insist on being paid in cash and live long and happily ever after. Simple!

The idea that you are essential to allow the company to be acquired is most likely nonsense, I've yet to meet someone that could not be replaced with some goodwill and hard work to transfer responsibilities. Better that than to have someone that does not really want to work!

twobyfour 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't you want your wife to know?

Your personal support network is exactly what you need to be able to lean on to get through stressful times.

mindfulgeek 4 days ago 0 replies      
In my experience, if I am wondering if I am depressed it is because I am, it just happened slowly over time, like a frog boiling in water. I didn't realize it happened until the water was bubling all around me and I was doing things like crying in the bathroom, alone and scared. Please get professional support. Things are much better than they seem. You are on the brink of many founders dreams, but you are stuck in a nightmare. It will go away and you will find joy again. You've already taken your first step in finding it. Good luck. This too shall pass.
thiagooffm 4 days ago 0 replies      
You are overvaluating the wallmart job and thinking it "seems" stress free. The truth is that if you want to do anything at a very competitive level, even packaging goods at the counter, it WILL be stressful.

You could also stop stressing: don't answer the calls, let your business slide and go bankrupt.

Running a business is no easy feat. As you've got that far, you probably know that. You are likely tired because of it, which is normal, everybody gets tired and there's nothing wrong with you or your business.

I think what you need is to perhaps promote someone or get a friend to help you. I don't see how a domain can be so insanely complex and out of reality for everyone. You probably just need someone and that someone to spend enough time with you.

My point with stress is that I don't necessarily own a business anymore and never had as much success as you doing that, I'm not about to cash in some big money which would allow me to follow other passions I have. After some failed startups, I work for a big business and the only thing that changed was the job "security". Instead of having to look for a new job every year or so, now I don't anymore, but it's stressful: I want to do my best.

The same happens when I try to play the guitar, I get also tired, stressed out. Then I give it a pause. As with a business or work, you can't pause, but you can always ask for help.

sharp_heat 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is what happens when you do a startup that you're not truly passionate about. Thank you for this, for making me realize the very real risk of being trapped a few years in.
mst 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you can find a psych/counselor that works for you, that's almost certainly a good idea - but when I hit a point of stress/burnout where I probably should have done that, I was also at the point where I was completely unable to actually make the call to set it up.

After six months of waffling back and forth stressing myself out even worse over the fact that I wasn't doing the obvious thing about it, I concluded that if I was going to manage to do it I'd've done it by now, looked for other options, and suddenly realised that Tianeptine is (a) entirely unscheduled and hence not actively illegal to posess in both the UK and US (b) easily mail orderable from Hong Kong.

Also Tianeptine is acute so if it works for you, you'll be able to tell by a few days in (three in my case). I've been deeply fond of it and far more productive since.

Note to anybody about to reply telling me that's a terrible idea for any of the obvious reasons it could be a terrible idea: Yes, I know, but I was incapable of doing any of the things I should have done to fix it and I had a company and team I was letting down and this worked for me. I am now slowly getting back to a point where I don't feel like I'm letting everybody down, and that's more important to me than pretty much anything else.

carlsborg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Book into a high end beach resort for a week and work from one of those terrace lounges overlooking the water with wifi. Strictly limit the scope of things you will work on. This worked really well to soothe that decision fatigue/burnout feeling for me at least.
sebastianconcpt 4 days ago 0 replies      
A crisis of meaning. Need to understand better the sources of unhappiness. Is just being tired or bored? is being close to burnout? is because you are alone too much on job tasks? All those areas are "workable". I wouldn't hesitate to have a session with a psyche professional to help to dig on those things in an manageable way. Maybe the best outcome is to be acquired, maybe you are close to reach something important and this is your inner resistance.
owens99 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of great advice here on what to do. The one thing I want to add is see a doctor for your depression. It sounds like everything in your business is going well and you should be proud of yourself, yet personally you feel at the lowest point. Burn out is real and happens to most entrepreneurs who go the distance. When you get depressed, your mind focuses on negative memories and situations and you get trapped in a train of negative thought. Even though, almost every negative memory can be thought of in a positive way. There was one time where I felt like you do, and after working on my depression I was able to recognize the negative thoughts in my mind and start to look at them in a different way. Once this happened I felt like a completely new person and was able to look at the same data in a different way that made me feel empowered and hopeful. Depression will destroy you if you don't get it treated. Happiness is a conscious decision and you can recover from your burn out if you shift your perspective.
rbistolfi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hi founder,

I think you are idealizing other jobs because you are suffering in your current position.I am from a development country where many would give it all in exchange of being in your shoes. I don't mean that your problem is not real or important. What I want to say is that you may be missing a lot of positive value because your perspective is narrowed by how you feel. Talk with your wife, you will feel way better, I am sure she will understand and support you. Find professional help, like a therapist. Compensate your day at work with activities that you enjoy, this can do wonders!. Hire someone, maybe not for replacing you because that is too hard, but for helping you with your tasks and having more time for doing things you enjoy.I am sure you will be able to build the strength you need for going through the acquisition an collecting the goodies of the hard work you have done over the years.

I wish you all the best

daniel_levine 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ping me. I know some folks who would probably consider buying the product without forcing you to keep working on it. It's more common than you might think.
thepaulstella 1 day ago 0 replies      
FWIW, as someone who's worked those jobs (hard labor and customer service) for roughly 7 years prior to becoming a full-time programmer, I can assure that those jobs aren't stress free. Quite the opposite, actually. I try my hardest to never take my opportunities for granted and I can't imagine pining for the days of being treated like a low-level grunt of a company. I now have unyielding respect for those working those jobs by not idealizing their "simple" profession.
damm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't really see a problem here; your mind is drifting wandering. Pretty clear that you are restless but it's likely mostly in you.

1. Meditation and taking time out of the day to enjoy your life

2. Take time out of your day to enjoy what you have

3. Remember to take time out of your day to enjoy life for what it is. Not what it can be.

4. Take time out of your day to appreciate your peers and your loved ones. Take them out to dinner or just show how much you appreciate them.

5. Lastly if you really want to quit; you need to setup an exit plan. It's clear you have a few excuses; hell don't we all. Can't find someone to replace you? well if the domain knowledge is high; it's likely needing to be documented and distilled down. Maybe it's too much for 1 person maybe 2 or 3 people could replace you.

Lastly stop assuming life has to be a certain way; it's hard enough with all these assumptions and expectations lumped on us. By beating yourself up you are just doing yourself a disservice.

Don't forget to tell yourself how amazing you are; I mean you are a founder at a company that is not in debt. You could be acquired; you don't have to be a founder forever it sounds like.

Time to take time and celebrate.

nerdy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd encourage you to be transparent with your wife.

Tell her your situation. Ask what she thinks. Discuss options. Execute upon your mutual decision. Do it when you two have time to dig into the details.

Don't rush it but if you're unhappy that's no way to live. I'm leaving my company this summer, my business partner has known for some time. My wife knew first.

Look, I really don't know your situation but you might want to ask yourself why you felt it necessary to hide it from your wife. Can you not be honest with her? Are you trying to protect her? And if so, does it really protect her from anything or just give her a warped perception of the circumstances? Her opinion of this makes way more of a difference than anyone on HN.

Love your wife and be open and honest with her. She's far more important than any business.

leandot 4 days ago 0 replies      
My sincere 2 cents:1) talk to your wife2) get the best deal out of your pending acquisition - highest cash component upfront3) find and train someone to take your place4) at that point check if you are still so unhappy - leave or stay5) do what makes you happy
WarrenBaker 2 days ago 0 replies      
If at all possible, I'd hire someone and gradually teach them the real pain points for you. Don't forget, something you hate may be something that someone else finds to be the coolest challenge! By giving them some things they might like as well as a few of the worst things in your work life, they could thrive and it cuts you some slack. Yes, it may be difficult domain material but people can learn and you may be surprised at how fast and how much of it someone who has a real interest in it can absorb.

One of the reasons you feel completely trapped is that, effectively you are. You need to get one or two people who can start giving you a break. Then you will get perspective and can make reasonable career decisions. When you're trapped, it gets worse and worse and you may just toss all that work to now and walk.

Hire someone, or delegate bits to others (or do both) to get some space from the things that are driving this ideation. You will be much happier and it will buy time to determine what you need to do for you to thrive.

My heart goes out to you!

soneca 4 days ago 0 replies      
Holly shit a lot of weird things being said about the role of the wife. I agree with most of downvotes and wholeheartly agree with sharing with your wife.

Just commenting in a new thread to give a suggestion: have you considered promoting someone to your executive position? A founder stepping down to a "more suited" executive might not hurt the acquisition.

And I would give another thought about hiring someone for the role.

I think "sucking up" is the worst option and leaving without a plan the second worst.

Anyway, I wish you good luck. I am not a founder, but fortunately you can find advice from the right people.

Mikho 3 days ago 0 replies      
What you describe is usually result of being reactive, not proactive in life. When you don't proactively control your life and rather react to other people's agendas, need to always face problems when they already happened, and extinguish fires, you end up exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead plan well ahead and make the world around you stick to your schedule and life rhythm. Being more proactive let you enjoy life much more while predicting fires and troubles well before they happen and, hence, being able to solve them on your own terms.

Definitely it's only one of the reasons and maybe not even the biggest one. This is symptom of bigger disbalance in life that requires more free "me time" time for you, more calming and wondering to decide what's important for you in life, what you want from life.

As an actionable solution I'd recommend 1/ to start meditating. It helps a lot to calm down and enjoy life. Also, 2/ start lead you life by saying more NOs to what's not on your own agenda.

I like a lot Derek Sivers on saying NO: If youre not saying HELL YEAH! about something, say no.https://sivers.org/hellyeah

gadders 4 days ago 0 replies      
Never been a CEO or a founder, but I always thought this was a good read:

"Given this stress, CEOs often make the one of the following two mistakes:

1. They take things too personally

2. They do not take things personally enough

In the first scenario, the CEO takes every issue incredibly seriously and personally and urgently moves to fix it. Given the volume of the issues, this motion usually results in one of two scenarios. If the CEO is outwardly focused, she ends up terrorizing the team to the point where nobody wants to work at the company any more. If the CEO is inwardly focused, she ends up feeling so sick from all of the problems that she can barely make it to work in the morning.

In the second scenario, in order to dampen the pain of the rolling disaster that is the company, the CEO takes a Pollyannaish attitude: its not so bad. In this view, none of the problems are actually that bad and they neednt be dealt with urgently. By rationalizing away the issues, the CEO feels better about herself. The problem is that she doesnt actually fix any of the problems and the employees eventually become quite frustrated that the Chief Executive keeps ignoring the most basic problems and conflicts. Ultimately, the company turns to crap."


burner_qwert 4 days ago 0 replies      
Had something similar, but alone ...

Weekdays: appear strong, I'm responsible for 30 people, nobody can see that I'm vulnerable.

Weekends: massive bingie, parties, alcohol, coke, hookers...

Last year in april after a 4 day weekend I almost died, had to call the ambulance on myself. My legs and arms started to feel numb, couldn't move them, was scary. Called the ambulance, they said that go to the street wait for them, and under no circumstances close my eyes. It was really hard to keep them open, but when I heard the sirens just snaped. Had this thought closing my eyes that I may never open them again. Turns out that I didn't drink enough water, and my blood got so dense that my heart couldn't circulate it. Wake up in the ambulance car still in my street feeling pretty well, bribed them so they say they haven't found me, because I had a big contract signing in 5 hours.

Then I reached out for help, on therapy since. Before that I was thinking about it for long, but how should I choose, etc. Doesn't matter, just went with the first one I found sympathetic online.

The second one is sport, get your self time to move 2-3 times a week, does wonders.

I wish I could say I haven't touched any substances since, but currently I feel much better.

So get therapy and start to move, that worked for me.

daxfohl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Take a trip to the doctor, get some antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication prescribed. They'll level you out so you can focus rationally on getting stuff done without the anxiety. I never had much luck with therapy, but meds worked phenomenally. (And I was very very reluctant to start, fearing long-term effects, but after a few months I was able to come off of them with no problems).

This project sounds like not a big life goal for you, so once you're stable, plan a nice end game. Plan for it to happen sooner rather than later. Think about other life goals you have, and how you can pursue them afterwards. Try to make time for these things. Anti-anxiety meds will help you do this. You regain a lot of time that unconsciously allocated to fretting.

Let good enough be good enough. Try to get the company into a reasonable position but don't feel like it has to be perfect. Downsize a bit if need be. Learn to say No. People's lives are not dependent on your ability to do stuff for them. Focus on those things that create the most value with the least time/stress.

Once you get to this point, you may even decide you like the company enough to stick with it.

DamonHD 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was in a start-up (as an expensive hire) some years ago where each day was horrible, and I thought I was suffering terrible 'flu. The day the board flew in to fire me* and I stepped out into the sunshine the 'flu lifted instantly. Stress not 'flu in other words, which is I suspect is where you are. The crying was probably good, and supports my suggestion!

And when you're that deep in stress it's even more difficult than usual to see a way out, to be rational, to separate the short-term from the long-term.

I wasn't even a founder, and I have been founder of a handful of start-ups now, all with their bad moments.

Can you ease off a bit, get someone else to help out, and get through acquisition? That is, a less binary view than you suggest. I don't think the buyer is likely to want either a dead company or a walking-dead company with a burnt-out founder.

Even the big boys get overwhelmed and stressed out from time to time and have to take a break:



And all these years later he's steered Lloyds back into profit and the UK government just disposed of its final shares, also at a nominal profit.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is probably not an oncoming train.

But you need to give yourself a chance to get some perspective.

*I did point out as a contractor that all they had to do was pay me up to the end of the day and say goodbye and I'd be happy. And I got to leave at noon. Bonus half day. The company did less well, but that's another story...

zeta0134 4 days ago 0 replies      
Throwaway, this sounds like a classic case of burnout, and I don't know how to say this in a way that isn't going to sound rough, so here it is: You're doing your company a disservice by staying in your current state.

If you're unhappy with your work, you won't be passionate about leading a company. Especially through an acquisition, your colleagues are looking at you, a founder, as a leader, and drawing on you for strength. If you can find it within yourself to be that leader, then that's great! In that case, you probably shouldn't also be the lead developer, and given your extensive domain specific knowledge, it sounds like you might be doing too much all at once. I can't know; I'm not in your shoes, so this is all an outsider looking in.

It sounds like for the moment, what you really need is to pull back and relax, take some time for yourself, and recover. Your body only has so much willpower to go around, and if you get in the habit of exhausting that regularly, you'll burn out every time. Figure out if reducing your role at the company will let you continue, and do that if you want. Or, if you need to craft an exit plan, do that as well, and find someone just as passionate as you to fill your shoes. But take care of yourself first!

mrwnmonm 4 days ago 0 replies      
> I drift off into exploring what it would be like to work at Wal Mart, or the construction site outside, or as a bagger at a grocery store. It seems so stress free.

I feel this too, when it comes to programming, there are small number of positions that would makes me happy, but if i would have to deal with CRUD apps, i would prefer a job like you have mentioned.

Now i want a job that i don't care about, that leave my mind in peace, so i would dive in theoretical computer science with a free mind.

inuhj 4 days ago 0 replies      
If it's any consolation I feel the same way. Company is doing 1.6MM/mo in revenue but I haven't been excited about it in over a year. I've put good people in place but I'm tired of getting up everyday and facing the exact same problems we faced 4 years ago. I'm at least 2 years out from acquisition so I'm spending my time trying to develop some satisfying hobbies. I restarted therapy a month ago and that's helping.
ryandrake 4 days ago 0 replies      
> "The product is just too complicated (tons of domain knowledge required) for someone to come in and take over."

This statement is almost certainly not true. Anything can be learned by someone sufficiently motivated. You, yourself, were not born with the knowledge needed to run your company, were you?

> "Additionally, the product just isn't that interesting (glorified CRUD app) and it's been hard to retain developers."

People's motivations are different. Some people want to work on some super-interesting cutting edge product. Fine, you can't offer that, so forget them. Some people will do any job so long as they're rewarded with enough money. If you're about to get acquired, you may find you suddenly have the ability to hire these people. There are also tons of underemployed tech folks out there suffering away as "engineer number 7 from the left" who would love that rare chance to lead a project, move into product management, and/or finally have some ownership stake in what they're working on. They're probably super easy to find too. Just wait in the parking lot of any major tech employer at around 6:30-7:00PM and look for the people walking out the door with sad, exhausted faces :)

lazyjones 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was in a similar situation a few years ago - not as badly burned out and wanting to quit, but having a strong desire to do something else after 17 years(!) on the same project, with me as sole founder and still major developer/"architect". We were also in acquisition talks back then and minor health issues (that turned out to be rather major ones later) didn't help.

What happened next:

* the acquisition - I discussed the possibility of leaving and insisted that the new owners obtain much more than just a slim majority, so I didn't have to worry as much about the future of the company if I left (it would have been annoying to have a major stake and no control, particularly as an opinionated ex-founder). It wasn't easy and my plans certainly didn't affect the price positively, but we found a good solution.

* I left rather quickly (a few months after closing the deal) and nominated a most suitable candidate for CEO who had been in the company for ~12 years. He's not a developer, but he's doing great and the company is thriving. They hardly ever need to ask me things about old code now. In hindsight, everyone is happy that a larger stake changed hands.

So, that's my recommendation based on personal experience. Stick around till the acquisition and make sure you can leave without causing major problems. Good luck! Remember that as a founder, you might misjudge/overrate how much the company actually depends on you.

PS. as for "other plans", life makes its own - I have been mostly dealing with my health issues lately, so it's safe to say I was better off beforehand. C'est la vie...

my_throw_away 3 days ago 0 replies      
A) Make time to de-stress. Force yourself if necessary.

B) Exercise is a good way to de-stress.

C) Start planning how to implement your third option. You need to do this anyway so that you are not a single point of failure. This is good risk mitigation practise. However I don't know enough about pitching/diplomacy/PR to tell you the best way to spin this to acquirers.D) You many need to delegate to multiple other staff, not just one.

E) Once you are de-stressed, you will be better able to judge whether you are able to suck it up as necessary.

F) Personally, I think that if it's only 2 more years, it may be worth sticking out, provided you first implement points A-E above. There is a big difference between 2 years and 5 years. You could give yourself a hard deadline to be out within 2 years, and take steps to make sure that you are not a single point of failure by that time.

rcazangi 4 days ago 0 replies      
First congrats on taking the first step and sharing your pain.

As others have said, this is not uncommon and you're not alone. It has everything to do with your mental health and well being. I've been through something very similar and it basically revolves around burnout, stress, depression, anxiety and some times panic attacks (e.g. crying uncontrollably). While you don't treat those and their root causes, you won't be solving the problem.

Treating means reaching out to experts (psychologist/psychiatrist) and sharing your burden and feelings with others. It's fundamental that you share it with your wife and once you feel more comfortable, with friends. You will notice how that will make you feel lighter and better.

Remember, people care about you and you're not alone. If your current situation is destroying your health, it's not worth it whatever $$$ is involved. Thus, take care of your health first and foremost. In parallel, learn (via therapy, meditation, physical activities, hobbies, etc.) how to deal with tough situations like this - life is full of them. That will not only prepare you for future difficulties but also bring joy and excitement back to your day-to-day work.

manigandham 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why do you think you only have 2 options?

Suck it up, get the sale done (especially when you're so close to improving the lives of your other founders) then take a vacation and recharge.

If you need to quit at that point then do so, but at least you're not taking the rest of the team with you. Would you feel ok if they did the same to you? You signed up for a team sport, hold the line and finish the job.

deepGem 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel your pain. I honestly think you should talk to your wife or your close friends about this. You'll be surprised how people help out when they know you are in distress.

Also, taking on a different activity that involves leadership might greatly help in boosting your morale. What you have done with your company is quite commendable that you should be proud of. If I were you, I would focus all my energies on the company's future post acquisition. To think of ways of growing the company beyond what it is today and see the acquisition as a possible out in that direction, not the end goal in itself might be helpful.You might also want to try to accomplish something in a field that you have no clue about but is not super hard on your brain. For instance, you could learn ballroom or Tango. You could also join a basic mountaineering course. You'll be out in the nature and accomplishing an endurance task. All your energies will be focused away from your day to day mind numbing activities and towards accomplishing a very different goal.

Good luck !

smt88 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have a friend who buys boring SaaS and doesn't require any existing employees to stay on. Send me an email via my HN profile if you want me to put you in touch.
maxander 3 days ago 0 replies      
This thread has become piled high with self-help advice already, and none of us know whether our advice will help any with your own situation, but here's another take; make the best of one advantage you have, which is an endpoint.

Pick a date and say to yourself (and probably also your wife), "on that day, I'm out of this shit job." Maybe with the uncertainty of selling you can't pick an actual day now, but do so as soon as you can, or say "at most X days after the sale." You know you probably aren't going to just quit outright, since the stakes are too high, but if each day is part of a process towards eventual quitting, that'll give it a bit more meaning.

But also, for goodness' sake, take a vacation. The office is going to have to get used to your not being around eventually, why not practice now?

pmarreck 3 days ago 0 replies      
couple thoughts. note: 45 and have seen much drama in my life:

1) At some point you SHOULD try one of those other jobs. Bartending, etc. See how the other side lives. Exercise your freedom and don't feel constrained to do this sort of work (even though the ship currently depends on you right now to keep acting in this role in order not to sink).

2) You should really have a better relationship with your wife. Open up to her in ALL ways, and she might surprise you.

3) I don't understand how the product could not be that interesting AND YET it is just too complicated. People generally find complexity interesting. What am I missing, here?

4) Perhaps you're burnt-out? When's the last time you took a 2 week vacation? You NEED to figure out how to make it possible to disappear for a while. Because your sanity depends on it.

That all said... here is a bro-hug. People obviously find your work valuable. Take solace in that for the time being, at least.

koolba 4 days ago 0 replies      
Take the money and run (figuratively).

Do the acquisition. Presumably there will be some mandatory retention period. Once their check clears, mentally check out and see what happens. Take a vacay, start coming in around 11am, don't answer emails off hours...

One of two things will happen, either the rest of the company will pick up the slack or the whole place will fall apart. Either way your money will be in the bank so who cares right?

philip1209 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with others that you should take some time off, talk to a professional, and try to fix things if possible. That being said . . .

I was in a similar position: last remaining founder having to pick between an acquihire where I'd be locked in to a job I didn't want, or pivot. I had cash in the bank, so I felt obligated to not stop. I talked to my investors, and they said "it's ok to shut down."

The thing to keep in mind is that early-stage investors don't care about 1x or 2x returns - they hope that one or two out of dozens of investments make enough money to return the portfolio.

For me: I chose to shut down [1] and travel for a bit. We open-sourced the code, which made clients happy. I kept my phone in "do not disturb" mode for a solid month after shutting down - it took awhile to decompress. (The shutdown process is still ongoing after 4 months, unfortunately). Feel free to email me if you want to chat.

[1] https://blog.staffjoy.com/staffjoy-is-shutting-down-39f7b5d6...

enknamel 4 days ago 0 replies      
I see many founders manage themselves out of their position. You hire a VP or Director to replace yourself in the day to day and then you transition out to the point where you can just go do whatever you want inside the company. Want to go back to being an individual contributor? Go for it! Want to just do skunkworks projects? Go for it!

There are many routes to happiness while maintaining your company.

yeukhon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hi I agree with a lot of the positive comments here. Take the money ASAP and go on a nice vacation. Do what you afterward. If I were ever a founder and sold off a company with a big check, I would go back to shool, get my master degree, and become an adjunct teaching. I enjoy that more than coding all day. So bite it, talk to your wife, see a therapist (I am depressed myself) and begin to offload your work to someone else. Remember many founders would leave after aqusitions probably felt the same as you ("they come in and want to take over a product I built")

It sounded like you are attached to your work and if so I understand because you were a co-founder. I am also very attached to my work but I am beginning to build up resistance. I just keep reminding myself if at some point I stop finding my job fun and enjoyful, then I need to find an exit, just like I would go home if I haven't slept for teo days.

Find and do the thing(s) you enjoy doing now. You wil be happier.

themantalope 3 days ago 0 replies      
OP, sounds like youre experiencing some real burnout. It's OK, it happens to a lot of people. Couple things to think about.

1) Are there ways you can keep going but change something to help? Going to see a therapist? Taking a short break? Talking about what's going on with your family? When you're stressed it's hard to remember all the support structures out there.

2) You need to ask yourself what is it worth to stay where you are (from a financial point of view). Is it worth a big payout in a few months to a year? Getting acquired is a good way to earn a big pile of FU money quick - and that will buy you all the time to relax and recoup that you need.

Do what you need to do to get better, and dont trash what youve worked hard to build! You can do it! Hope to see you post your success story a few months/years from now!

0x4f3759df 3 days ago 0 replies      
You feel like you have no good options. There are always more options. Take a book-vacation. Get a bunch of biographies and go somewhere by yourself for a weekend and read other people's stories and you will get some perspective that might lead you to discover your options.
SFJulie 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have made a hook in my coder life as a mover.

PRO: It was indeed a breeze and stress free.CON: without social help or illegal secondary activities you don't earn enough to sustain your life (pay rents, food, clothing and that's all).

But, it has been the moment of my life I was the happiest to work everyday.

Maybe that's how you could make a vacation. It helps you forget everything about the business brain washing that is strong in the IT, it clears your head of the noise, and you might come back more efficient, and retaining more employees by sharing their day to day concern of working to make a living and not living to work.

My take is simple, life is too short to not try to live some of your fantasies, some may actually prove to be fruitful.

Simply remember that there is no success in trying if you don't accept you also may fail and be disappointed.

I was lucky, may you be lucky.

smoyer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been in jobs that I've hated and have a fail-safe trick - hire people to do the parts of the job that you hate. There was obviously something that enamored by when you decided to found the start-up. Are you still in love with that technology/solution? Are you sure you don't just hate the increasing management and paperwork duties?

As a founder, you're always going to have to deal with strategic situations (like the sale of the company) but you'd be surprised how much of the day-to-day work you can pawn off on a recent MBA graduate. I'm also wondering if you've come to hate the job because of the work involved with finding a buyer and working towards the sale. It's grueling! But it's also over when the sale is complete.

Good luck!

Jare 4 days ago 0 replies      
Let me add my voice to those already suggesting a therapist. There are a number of options you can take for each of the many things that are piling up in your head and heart, but I believe the only one that is non-negotiable is this one. Let me describe one possible way this may work for you:

- It will feel weird to open up to a stranger, and in the very beginning it may ADD to your stress; you will find reasons to cancel the session. Don't.

- It will level up quickly and after a few sessions, you will likely start to see improvements. The sessions may still feel a burden, but by now you know you do not cancel or skip them.

- Don't expect your entire outlook and days to be wholesome better, you may still have crisis like you described - the important thing is that you will also have more moments of energy and positive thinking. Use those highs to prepare your mind and agenda for the lows.

Other thoughts that may help:

- Making yourself less necessary may not be tactically wise right before the acquisition, but rest assured, afterwards it WILL be. Under stress time may pass too slowly, but it does pass, and you will get there.

- One or two trusted and loving family members may offer excellent emotional support, without the day-to-day baggage that may have made you feel you needed to hide from your wife. They will love you no matter your mistakes and weaknesses.

- A good friend you can talk to that has no ties to anything else that worries you - no direct link to your work or family. They can offer an objective point of view and help you plan, strategize and clarify the situations you face. And their mere presence will remind you that you are not alone, that you are worthy by who you are and how you are.

- I can't tell you how to involve your wife in your current plight. Ideally she could be one or more of the above, but life is not perfect. If you don't feel you can fully do it, do what you can and figure it out (possibly with marriage counsel) after you are feeling better and with less weight on your shoulders.

- Find some activity, even if it is infrequent or short, that is yours and yours only, and absolutely enjoyable for you. A TV show, a hobby, gym, swimming, a game, writing. Keep your support group 100% in the loop so they can help you keep it at a healthy level (they ensure that you do it, but they don't let you escape into it and neglect your "real" life).

All the best.

Mz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Several comments here say, essentially, "talk to someone to help you deal with your feelings." All well fine and good, but I will suggest you try to find a sounding board. Feelings come from somewhere. While there can be value in venting to get that part out of the way, if all you do is vent and get emotional support but you don't do any problem solving, it is sort of like drinking or taking drugs to deal with your problems. It is just sort of this feel good experience that bleeds off the big feelings and that's about it. And then you still have to face all this crap anyway.

But a good sounding board can help you hammer out why things aren't working and what might be done about them. They won't make your decisions for you nor tell you what to do. A good sounding board listens a lot and comments a little and makes thought provoking comments. They do a bit of reframing. They give you some perspective.

It can be a huge sanity saver to have a good sounding board to run things past. This is much, much, much more valuable than a psychologist or crying on the shoulder of a friend or loved one. Sometimes friends or loved ones can play the role of sounding board, but that isn't guaranteed.

I don't know how you can find a good sounding board. But I think this would do more for you than talking just to vent about the stress. I agree that you need very much to talk with someone, but not just to blow off steam. You need to be able to go "AAAARGH!!!! The Whatsit is NOT fucking working AGAIN for the third fucking time this fucking week" and have someone say "So, with that much downtime, would it make sense to buy a second Whatsit? Would having two of them eliminate one of the major sources of stress in your life?" or even "So, explain to me what a Whatsit does. Why is this such an enormous source of stress for you?" and then in the course of explaining its role in the business, you have some epiphany about how things work and why you keep tripping over X, Y and Z issues.

timwaagh 4 days ago 0 replies      
two - five years isn't much if you're going to be rich. unhappiness is part of life. and when you get rich enough, just quit. because you will be able to.

if you're not going to be rich in any case then the answer is simple: you should quit. let it die. i know there is emotional investment, but there is no reason to continue to be unhappy. get another job you like better. assuming you need to get another job:

construction is not stress free. its not normal work, its labour. its risky. people develop physical problems. but yes i understand the appeal. diy'ing is fun. construction could be fun as well if you have the talent for it.

retail pays enough for kids, not adults with a house. so although it could be chill that is not really an option.

finally i recommend having some people around you to distract you from your worries. roommates. a loving wife. whatever you can get.

congerous 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been there. A ton of good advice is on this thread. You need to try to influence your internal state chemically if you want to stay on track. Exercise, medication, meditation, eating and sleeping healthy are all helpful. It's also good to reconnect with people that matter to you: family, friends, etc. If you're closing the deal, and the money is significant, just think what you could do for them, or for other people who need help. And find ways to spend more time with them, because our lives are defined by our relationships. You could say your self exists to the extent that your in conversation with people who understand you. So go find with and be with them. It'll help you refuel.
ge96 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't that funny the grass is greener thing... washing plates might seem stress free, but you're the dog of the kitchen... have to deal with people's shit. Everybody throws the word "sorry" around.

I'm just speaking my experience as a guy on the shit-end of the stick haha by my own doing. If you're at this level/credibility why do some shit job. I realize you said stress free but being a drone/laborer sucks I'd like to lobotomize myself to escape from reality sometimes.

Going on someone's thought of "died in a car crash... continue..." maybe once you're acquired someone can take over your role after you train them/and be a consultant. I wouldn't know I only dream to be where you are at this point in my life cycle.

omarish 4 days ago 0 replies      
> The product is just too complicated (tons of domain knowledge required) for someone to come in and take over.

Are you sure about this, beyond a reasonable doubt? Reading your post, this sounded to me like the kind of story I sometimes tell myself to boost my self-esteem when I feel like I'm in a bind.

If you are in fact irreplaceable, that means you're unique and one-of-a-kind. Feels good, doesn't it? Everything is hard, but at least you're valuable and unique.

At the same time, if you're actually replicable, that means you might not be as unique as you think you are in this situation, but fortunately by admitting that, you're on the way to solving the problem.

It sounds like you're in a generally good situation, and maybe there's someone smart and ambitious out there who would be willing to step up and help you make yourself redundant?

Good luck!

ravimalik20 3 days ago 0 replies      

Have you considered the possibility that what you are facing is probably because of depression? I know, you would say that the work is the cause of depression.

Either way, you should seek medical help for it. I have seen people waste away because of depression, my grandmother for one.

It would be much better once your depression is under control and you'd be able to make a better decision. There is one thing thatI learned growing up, "Never make a decision when your head isn't straight". You'd be able to make a better decision once you are free of the burden of depression. Trust me, and see a doctor for depression. There's nothing bad about it.

fipar 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry you're going through a bad time. Some things I can say:

- I think your wife needs to know. I have never taken a big decision like a job change without consulting my wife. We're in this together, and if I wanted to not have to share this decisions with someone else, I would have stayed single. Please don't take this as an attack, I am not judging you. I'm pretty sure you don't want her to know so you don't stress her, but you too are in this together, and there's no need for you to go through this problem alone.

- I think you may have a partial view of those jobs you mention. It's quite likely that a bagger at a grocery store does not suffer the stress you have at his or her job, but the pay is also much less, and the stress may come at other parts of life (for example, if that job forces him or her to live in a bad, dangerous neighborhood). Construction? working outside must be very hard in the middle of the winter or the summer, for example. I think it's good that you consider other options if being a founder is burning you out, but you don't need to go to the other extreme.

- You and your family are the ones to decide if quitting is a good option. Don't worry about the company in that case. You are entitled to pursue your own happiness, and people who work for startups (I know, I have) are or should be aware that failure is one of the options, usually the most likely one. So please don't feel like you need to put up with something that makes you supremely unhappy so that the company stays afloat.

So my summary is: Find what is best for you and your family, don't worry about the company if you really feel that unhappy, and if you do quit, if finances allow, take a short break and then don't go for the first thing that comes your way. You are smart enough to have started a company and getting it close to an acquisition. That's something I was never able to do, so I say 1) hats off to you, and 2) you won't have trouble finding a good job once you're ready to do that.

Good luck.

nish1500 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was in the same position sometime back.

I was convinced that chasing startup money and fame was some objective form of happiness. The chase never made me happy.

Luckily, I woke up before I made any hires. My startup is still profitable, but it's more of a lifestyle business now. I work enough to make sure the profits don't fall.

I use my time to travel the world, live out of a backpack, make friends, do shit that scares me. Still struggling with the last part.

Last month I volunteered at a not-for-profit pay-as-you-go restaurant taking orders and cleaning tables and it made me the happiest I have been in almost a year.

I am also exploring my other passions - fitness, food, nutrition.

You know best what you need to do. I thought I'd share what I did.

rubicon33 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really quite curious - At such a pivotal stage in the entrepreneurship life, one where you're having more success than most, you're still unhappy?

If I were in your situation, feeling the way you feel at this moment, it would be an indicator that something is VERY wrong with my life. But if that were the case, it would have been wrong for a long time, and I would have just been ignoring it.

I can't help but wonder if that's what's going on here with you. At the Nth hour, on the precipice of outstanding success, you're peaking in unhappiness. The correlation is likely not a coincidence. It's an unhappiness in you that has been there for a long time, and the more you continue to ignore it, the more it will rob you of your life.

Find peace, my friend. It may mean enormous life changes.

whistlerbrk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can you negotiate as part of the acquisition a sabbatical, frame it as you've been at it for so long that stepping away for a minute would help clear your mind and focus you on the road ahead with new better ideas.

Take like 6 weeks, hard travel and exercise, eat well, relax. Don't use email.

contingencies 4 days ago 0 replies      
Execute on the LOIs pronto and get paid external help, preferably from the acquirers. If you say its urgent they should jump. It's in their interest.


1. Even if in the very worst case the result is a slightly lower price, that's way less important than your health.

2. Life balance is a real thing, burnout is a real thing, they cannot be ignored indefinitely.

3. You work hard and they obviously value you and your team's achievements, which means they also can relate to the situation.

4. Don't feel shameful in admitting your limits, we all have them.

5. Acquirers will work with you to hand over responsibilities in a way that works for your situation. Remember from their perspective that, since every acquisition is different, complexity of handover is actually normal and expected.

_notme 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel your pain, I'm not a founder, but I also work in tech as a developer and sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a bartender or waiter. I have a friend who works as a waiter and always seems to be on vacation in some exotic part of the world. Makes me wonder how he can afford to do that and I can't?

I realised I needed to do 2 things:1/ Figure out what you REALLY want to do.2/ Figure out how your work life can support it. Is your work life not supporting it? Figure out what you need to change to make it get there.

For me, that meant switching jobs to something that allows remote work and unlimited vacation and organising my work day so that I can just put in 8-5 and leave work at the door.

Also, try taking an open-ended vacation. Don't make any plans, just get the time off and do what feels right.

Grustaf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Since your company seems quite mature, it's got to be possible for you to find someone you can help run day to day. Even if you have to be there 80% in the start it's a win, and you can slowly ramp it down to say 20%.

The aqcuirint company probably don't expect you to be super passionate after their takeover, so they shouldn't object. Even if they do, the worst that could happen is probably that they knock off a chunk of your earnout package, you'll probably make much more than if you simply leave now.

If money is not the issue at all then you should definitely leave as soon as you can. There is absolutely no point in being miserable if it doesn't pay off big time. You already did something awesome, be proud of that and move on with good conscience!

Baobei 4 days ago 0 replies      
Consider to take a break for 2 weeks, rather than resigning, replacing yourself or talking to your wife. After 2 weeks you may feel less burnt out and see things more clearly. You can get medication (and I for one can confirm it does work) but ideally that's to get you out of the rut not a permanent solution. It's possible that your lack of passion for this idea, combined with how much time and dedication it takes is making you feel this way. Your mind/body doesn't understand the inherent contradiction. I'm married to my cofounder and it's hard to be honest when one is feeling weak, but hiding stuff damages your intimacy and closeness. Protect that, it's worth more than your company.
TallGuyShort 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the third option of hiring someone to do your day to day really was impossible, this would never end. I would strongly recommend getting someone to come on board and start trying to take off some of the load / get up to speed. It might take a long time but either you're going to quit and ruin it anyway, it's going to kill you and that'll ruin it anyway, or that has to happen eventually. Start now. I get why it's hard: attracting someone who's committed, getting the incentives right for them to not feel the same way in 2 years, etc. But it's really worth focusing on attacking those specific issues as soon as you feel up to it. Even if the person just takes over some QA work / automation / simpler features and fixes, etc. Doesn't necessarily require an unreasonable amount of domain knowledge but if it frees up a couple of hours a day for you, you could take a hike in the mornings and stop feeling like crying about what you're not experiencing every day (or whatever it is you'd love to do instead of work).

More immediately - it sounds like you need a vacation. I've been there with the whole fantasizing-about-walmart-construction-sites-and-grocery-stores but it's a dead-end in the long-run. Every job will wear on you and come with it's own set of hardship. Mentally less stressful? Possibly. But think of the very different set of people you'll interact with - possibly a huge culture shock. Think of what a bad day at work might look like at a construction site. In the rain and cold, a little physically injured, maybe having to deal with a client that's trying to screw your crew over on the contract? Probably making less money? And dealing with all the comes with? It's not much of a greener pasture once you get into it. I would bet what you're really in need of is a break and a change of scenery for a little while. If you can make that happen (and again - you need to or this is all destined for failure at some point), try that and see how you feel when you come back.

By all means keep talking to people who have been there to get input - probably a lot of us on HN. Don't take all of it as gospel, but you're definitely not the only person to go through this, and you won't be the only person to figure out a way through it.

robg 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with stress is the physiology is fundamentally fight or flight. No surprise you are seeing flight, esp after several years of fight. You're also likely suffering from burnout (extensive, prolonged stress). The most important consideration is taking rest and recovery seriously, not on weekends, every day and throughout the day. Find moments to cherish, take walks outside, exercise more, get good sleep, quit using alcohol and start eating better. The brain is an organic computer, connected to every organ in the body and yours is running low on juice. You can't make good decisions right now, your brain is compromised by a health condition. Finding calm should be your priority toward inner peace.
Ask HN: Why does Reddit search suck so much?
20 points by 0x00_  16 hours ago   11 comments top 3
lacker 11 hours ago 1 reply      
In general, people are trained by Google to expect a lot out of a search. On Google you can phrase a search in a number of ways that don't precisely map to how the ideal content phrases it, and still figure it out. This works because Google has a massive amount of data - data from searches about what words are generally synonyms of other words, data from other pages on the internet that link to the target page, and data about what past searchers have done.

When you do a site-specific search, or a search on an internal corporate site, much of this data is often totally absent. So it may just not be possible to build a search with as high a quality as you expect, on that corpus, with modern technology.

Source: I don't know anything about Reddit search specifically but I was formerly a search expert and I am pretty sure this is what's going on here.

soulchild37 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I use http://searchreddit.net/ to search reddit since I discovered this site in IndieHackers, its fast and matching reasonably.
marcofiset 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Maybe you think it sucks, but it's still much better than no search at all. Looking at you HN.
Ask HN: Which external monitor do you use?
6 points by waqasaday  12 hours ago   4 comments top 4
stephenr 3 hours ago 0 replies      
this resource on PPI for retina/non retina may be useful https://bjango.com/articles/macexternaldisplays/
kevinherron 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What's your budget? "Much" is relative.

At work I hook my MBP up to a Dell P2415Q 4K monitor. It's nice because 4K at that size runs well at "Retina" scaling.

At home I have the LG Ultra Fine 5K, but that's a 27".

jharohit 9 hours ago 0 replies      
HP 23es - awesome design, great contrast, colors and viewing angles and very reasonable price.
akulbe 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Dell UP3216Q
Ask HN: Does anyone use Nim language in production?
180 points by sharmi  2 days ago   79 comments top 9
dom96 2 days ago 5 replies      
Judging by the upvotes there is a lot of interest in hearing answers to this question and yet there are few comments so far. I will share my thoughts but keep in mind that I am (extremely) biased as I am one of the core Nim devs.

> How has your experience been compared to your previous tech?

Previous to using Nim I was primarily using Python. This was a few years ago now, but recently I was working on a project in Python and found myself yearning for Nim. There were multiple reasons for this, but what stuck with me was how much I missed static typing. The Python project used type hints which I found rather awkward to use (of course the fact that we didn't enforce their use didn't help, but it felt like such a half-baked solution). Dependencies very often required multiple guesses and searches through stack overflow to get working. And the resulting program was slow.

As far as I'm concerned, Nim is Python done right. It produces fast dependency-free binaries and has a strong type system with support for generics.

Of course, that isn't to say that Nim is a perfect language (but then what is). For example, JetBrains has done a brilliant job with PyCharm. Nim could use a good IDE like PyCharm and with its strong typing it has the potential to work even better.

> How mature is the standard library?

To be honest the standard library does need some work. In the next release we do plan on making some breaking changes, but we always lean on the side of keeping compatibility even though Nim is still pre-1.0. Of course, sometimes this is not possible.

> How abundant are third party libraries?

Not as abundant as I would like. Great news is that you can help change that :)

The Nimble package manager is still relatively new, but you can get a pretty good idea of the third party libraries available by looking at the package list repo[1].

Hope that helps. Please feel free to AMA, I'd love to introduce you to our community.

1 - https://github.com/nim-lang/packages/blob/master/packages.js...

girvo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I did, and do at my new place of work too. Usually for tooling, automation, etc. As of 0.17, I'm quite happy with the standard library, though I still think the Futures impl needs a bit of work.

I'm now using it extensively for a confidential computing and block chain project, which is quite exciting.

nimmer 2 days ago 1 reply      
> How has your experience been compared to your previous tech?

Having used Python, Go, C, Perl, Java, Nim is a breeze to code in. Occasionally the compiler glitches and you have to delete nimcache. Very rarely it fails to compile something and you have to rewrite few lines differently. Not an issue. Build frequently to avoid any surprise.

> How mature is the standard library?

Not that much: it lacks examples and helper procedures that you would expect, yet I still feel more productive with Nim than other languages.

> How abundant are third party libraries?

Look at the packages. Most of the basic stuff it's there. For small and medium projects it's usually not an issue, occasionally I have to wrap functions from a C library.

If you are looking for big, fancy libraries like Pandas and Sklearn, they are just not there. Use Nim for tool and services instead.

PudgePacket 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not myself personally, but I know this game was written with nim: https://impbox.itch.io/vektor2089.
throwaway7645 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've just started writing a few scripts I'd normally use Python for (no production) and have been impressed with the speed and binary sizes. Nim in Action (book) is really good and what is missing to get the beginner started. I'd like to see a PyCharm like IDE for Nim as well, but Vim seems to work well.
jboy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, my startup Object AI uses Nim code in production. We have in-house implementations of machine learning, computer vision & image processing code in Nim, using a library called "Nim-Pymod" to integrate with Python's Numpy: https://github.com/jboy/nim-pymod

(As you can see, I was one of the authors of that library in a previous startup. We haven't worked on Nim-Pymod in a while, alas -- I've been focused on the new startup! -- but Nim-Pymod is sufficient for our needs right now.)

Our webserver main-loops are in Python; our number-crunching ML/CV/img-proc code is Python extension modules written in Nim.

As a C++ & Python programmer, I'm a huge fan of Nim, which to me combines the best of both languages (such as Python's clear, concise syntax & built-in collection types, with C++'s powerful generics & zero-cost abstractions), with some treats from other languages mixed in (such as Lisp-like macros and some Ruby-like syntax). I find Nim much more readable than C or C++, especially for Numpy integration. I also find Nim much more efficient to code in than C or C++ (in terms of programmer time).

And Nim is a very extensible language, which enables Nim-Pymod to be more than just a wrapper. For example:

1. Nim-Pymod uses Nim macros (which are like optionally-typed Lisp macros rather than text-munging C preprocessor macros) to auto-generate the C boilerplate functions around our Nim code to create Python extension modules.

2. Nim-Pymod provides statically-typed C++-like iterators to access the Numpy arrays; these iterators include automatic inline checks to catch the usual subtle array-access errors. Nim macros are themselves Nim code, which can be controlled via globals, which in turn can be set by compiler directives; by compiling the Nim code in "production" mode rather than "debug" mode after testing, we can switch off the slowest of these checks to get back to direct-access speed without needing to make any code changes. (And of course Nim's static typing catches type errors at compilation time regardless of the compilation mode.)

3. Nim exceptions have an informative stack trace like Python exceptions do, and Nim-Pymod converts Nim exceptions into Python exceptions at the interface, preserving the stack trace, meaning you have a Python stack trace all the way back to the exact location in your Nim code.

Earlier on in our development of Nim-Pymod, there were some occasional headaches with Nim due to its in-development status. Occasionally the Nim syntax would change slightly and that would break our code (boo). We've also debugged a few problems in the Nim standard library. I suppose these problems are an unfortunate consequence of Nim having a small set of core devs contributing their time (rather than being supported by Microsoft, Sun, Google or Mozilla). Fortunately, these problems seem to have stabilised by now.

The Nim standard library is reasonably large, somewhere between C++ STL (data structures & algos) & Python stdlib (task-specific functionality). I recall that the stdlib could use some standardisation for uniformity, but I haven't been watching it closely for the last year or so.

Third party libraries are not abundant, aside from a handful of prolific Nim community-members who have produced dozens of fantastic libraries (eg, https://github.com/def- , https://github.com/dom96 , https://github.com/fowlmouth , https://github.com/yglukhov ).

I'm happy to answer any other questions about using Nim in production!

u2227 2 days ago 0 replies      
One outsourcing company named Xored have choosen Nim as their primary language few years ago, at least that is what a company owner have declared.
boduh 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those using Nim: how is the compile speed?
galfarragem 2 days ago 2 replies      
Noob question: differences between Nim and Crystal?
Ask HN: Can we enumerate FOSS chat, messaging, voip and collaboration software?
17 points by dmos62  1 day ago   7 comments top 4
PaulHoule 1 day ago 1 reply      
Long lists of "chat" applications that are open source or not are the main problem I have with those applications. The dominant theme in this space is that unlike email or the web, no standard has emerged, so there are always new things like "Facebook Instant Messenger" that seem to be "AOL Instant Messenger 0.999999 or 1.000001" but aren't compatible.

If you are involved with a few work projects, family, open source projects, etc. you have to have ten or so communications apps open, deal with the overhead on startup, software updates, overhead while it is running, all the various foibles of these things.

mobitar 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Privacytools.io (https://privacytools.io) has a good collection. A lot of privacy software is FOSS.

Standard Notes (https://standardnotes.org) is up there which is a free open-source encrypted notes app that I work on.

khedoros1 1 day ago 1 reply      
That seems like a very broad request. Are you looking for clients? Servers? Self-hosted web solutions? Just names of protocols? Say that I spent a few minutes listing off every piece of related software that I can think of. What's the purpose and benefit?
Ask HN: How could YouTube know about friend's heart attack?
5 points by throwawayB1937  13 hours ago   3 comments top 2
watmough 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Ok, so quite interesting to look at how all this works:

Top of this page: https://slack.com/privacy-policy

Information we collect and receive1. Customer Data

Content and information submitted by users to the Services is referred to in this policy as Customer Data. As further explained below, Customer Data is controlled by the organization or other third party that created the team (the Customer). Where Slack collects or processes Customer Data, it does so on behalf of the Customer. Here are some examples of Customer Data (but keep in mind they are only examples and there may be others): messages (including those in channels and direct messages), pictures, videos, edits to messages or deleted messages, and other types of files. A user may also choose to enter information into their profile, such as first and last name, job, a photo and a phone number.

And somewhat lower down:

Sharing and DisclosureThere are times when information described in this privacy policy may be shared by Slack. This section discusses only how Slack may share such information. Customers determine their own policies for the sharing and disclosure of Customer Data. Slack does not control how Customers or their third parties choose to share or disclose Customer Data.

1. Customer Data

Slack may share Customer Data in accordance with our agreement with the Customer and the Customers instructions, including:

With third party service providers and agents. We may engage third party companies or individuals to process Customer Data.With affiliates. We may engage affiliates in our corporate group to process Customer Data.With third party integrations. Slack may, acting on our Customers behalf, share Customer Data with the provider of an integration added by Customer. Slack is not responsible for how the provider of an integration may collect, use, and share Customer Data.

In short, it pretty much looks like they can do what the heck they want with anything you type in.

cm2012 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Google knows who your friends are, they probably gave off a lot of signals. Also maybe similar ip or geolocation.
Ask HN: What is the current state of open-source face recognition?
29 points by boramalper  1 day ago   2 comments top
lovelearning 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have used OpenCV's face detection and recognition capabilities for a couple of projects - home security system using Odroid and IR camera modules, a side project for cat recognition, testing low-res cheap USB cameras in low lighting - and have become fairly familiar with its gotchas.

Its weak area currently is the accuracy of face detection. Before recognizing the identity of a face,you have to first find the positions of faces in an image.

OpenCV provides multiple algorithms for this - cascades of weak classifiers likes Haar cascades, Local Binary Pattern cascades, Histogram of Gradients cascades -and a number of pretrained models of frontal and profile human faces for each of those algorithms. There's even a frontal cat face model!But all of them suffer from high false positives or false negatives depending on subject distance and ambient lighting levels. The cat model has trouble with even the slightest of angles.

So face alignment is a mandatory pre-processing step with OpenCV's models. But OpenCV doesn't provide any end-to-end alignment routines - it's all upto you to write the alignment code. The dlib library has all that built in.

Coming to OpenCV face recognition, it provides 3 approaches - eigen faces, fischer faces and LBPH faces. Its docs explain the shortcomings of each well. In theory, LBPH should give the best accuracy, but I consistently found Fischer giving the highest among the three. Recognition too requires considerable preprocessing - left and right histogram equilization, cropping out hair and neck areas, etc.All the pre-processing makes dataset preparation cumbersome. But it does work okish - 65 to 75 percent accuracy - with smallish datasets of just 20 frontal faces per person.

If you plan to start with OpenCV for face capabilities, I suggest using dlib instead.

I haven't used OpenBR but eyeballing the code tells me it too uses OpenCV face APIs underneath and another library named stasm which has face alignment capabilities similar to dlib but using OpenCV. OpenBR seems to make building preprocessing pipelines easier using its own DSL - that should reduce the trial and error time significantly.But it doesn't add any new algorithm.

I haven't used OpenFace but looked into it in the past. It uses dlib for face detection and alignment,and then uses deep convolutional neural network for feature extraction and recognition instead of eigen, fischer or LBPH. These convolutional features are likely to do a better job than OpenCV's cascade features. I'm not sure about the ideal training dataset size though.

Generally, in such cases where a dataset is likely to be small due to practical restrictions,the preferred deep learning approach is transfer learning where a large pretrained model like ImageNet is used for initial layers and only the last few layers are retrained on the user's face dataset.

I've used deep object detection frameworks like YOLO and ResNet R-CNN in other contexts, and found them to be good for person detection. I think a deep object detection trained on faces to output face positions combined with deep face recognition is the best combination. FaceNet does exactly that (https://github.com/davidsandberg/facenet) and is probably the best one right now.

All said, identity recognition in our brains is actually multimodal (face, body, gait, voice, gesture, etc). AFAIK, all the existing stacks support only frontal face recognition with some tolerance for transformations, and none of them support even recognition using profile face images, let alone multimodal identity recognition.

Ask HN: The best free alternative to MS Word?
3 points by happy-go-lucky  17 hours ago   9 comments top 8
ogfomk 8 hours ago 0 replies      
LibreOffice is outstanding. I've used it since 1999 when it was Star Office. You can write anything and export to PDF easily. You can also share your work with MS Office users. Writing business letters is a simple discipline. Content and simplicity go hand in hand. LibreOffice will also work for you on Windows or Linux. Finally anyone who claims LibreOffice is dated probably doesn't know that humans have been writing for 4 thousand years and we have never had it so good as we do now!
gpresot 12 hours ago 0 replies      
My experience with Libreoffice is a bit dated (2 years), so take with a pinch of salt. If you don't need to work on the document with MS word (or do not need to exchange it with somebody using MS word) then Libreoffice Writer is more than fine. It will do whatever MSW does, with equal quality (I found that formatting was getting screwed when passing documents between the two). Also, because I use MSW so often at work, I got used to the ribbon menu, and LO menu looks outdated (to me). Apple's Pages is all you need if you are on Mac (and I have found it to be more compatible than LO with MS Word). Conversely, if you need to edit the document with other people (e.g. some school group work) Google Docs is hard to beat. Edit: typos.
SamReidHughes 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Dude there's LibreOffice, Google Docs, Apple's Pages app, maybe some others. Why don't you try each of them and see how you like them?
mhh__ 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you can stomach learning to use it, although it's much simpler (IMO) at scale!, LaTeX is very nice. https://www.sharelatex.com/ is even nicer.
DanBC 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Without knowing what you use it for it's impossible to say.

If it's just general word processing there are a few that are very good.

atmosx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Libre Office, Google Docs and AbiWord are fine.
neurobot 12 hours ago 0 replies      
wps office, despite they're also offer the premium.
tomohawk 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: What is your take on being a better writer?
34 points by anacleto  2 days ago   57 comments top 26
zitterbewegung 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have been using hacker news comments to improve my writing and I get instant feedback. After awhile I had ideas that were big enough to write blog posts. From my experience in writing poetry is you must keep writing to really get good . Another thing is that about 10% or less of what you write is going to be any good. And 1% is going to be acceptable. Life isn't like college where your performance is judged on each piece of writing. Your job is to maximize that 1% so you just have to keep writing so you have enough exceptional pieces of writing and then you will be a better writer .
dang 2 days ago 4 replies      
I think the best writers actually enjoy writing. pg told me that to him an unwritten essay is like an uneaten piece of cake. I realized that that feeling is foreign to me and I'd probably be a better writer if I liked it more.
bevan 2 days ago 3 replies      
Read the first few chapters of On Writing Well.

Omit needless words. There's a page in Stephen King's autobiography "On Writing" where he shows an editor's comments on an article he wrote as a teenager. Half of the words are crossed out. Remembering that example improved my writing significantly.

Also, understand that writing is an iterative process. It can take 5-6 passes to craft a good sentence.

Insanity 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just as others before me have mentioned here, to be a better writer you'll need to put in time doing it. In addition to a lot of writing, I believe reading will also help in making you a better writer.

I by no means can call myself good at writing, but I do learn from books I've read and try to apply what I 'discover' in my own writing. Find an author you like, read up on his works and see how he writes. If you like his works, chances are you like his writing style and it might match what you're hoping to create.

Mz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good communication takes the effort of at least two parties: one "talking" (or writing) and one "listening" (or reading in good faith). Good writing is honed by finding some means to get your writing read and get some kind of feedback on how effectively it is conveying your message. You can't develop as a writer without that feedback.

In school, you get it from your teachers, but I was surprised to learn that what I learned about writing in school really was just scratching the surface. I have learned a lot more from talking with people online in forums like HN, blogging and doing paid freelance writing. I am still struggling to get real traction with my blogs. Although there is a long history of my comments in forums getting ridiculous overreactions from people, it has been surprisingly hard to translate that into meaningful engagement with my blog writing.

Writing is about communicating. Good grammar and all that matter, but it matters more that you have something you need to convey for some reason. Writing is merely the means to convey it. And that is wherein the work lies.

ellius 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to dump a laundry list of reading, but these all helped me tremendously:

1. Politics and the English Language (Orwell) 2. The Age of the Essay (Graham). 3. On Writing (Stephen King) 4. On Writing Well (Zinsser)5. The Elements of Style (Strunk and White)6. Essential English for Journalists, Editors, and Writers (Evans)

JoshCole 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hyperbolic? Being a better writer is useless...

I think the context that prefaces the question betrays a misunderstanding.

When you really start digging into crafting messages, you start finding out things like the medium you work in actually changes how you should structure your message. Famous examples of why this should be done exist, like the first presidential debate that was both televised and broadcast on the radio. People who saw the television thought one candidate had won the debate. People who listened thought the other had won.

Twitter as a medium promotes a certain kind of content. Learning to be a better writer isn't going to change that. If the goal of learning to be a better writer is to prevent some sort of decline in writing as seen on Twitter? Don't learn more about writing.

There are so many different kinds of writing and being better at one doesn't mean you will be better at another. So really you're safe learning most of writing. Unfortunately, you're bound to run across ideas like using a hook to attract attention as quickly as possible.

Then you run the risk of joining the hyperbolic tweeters.

itamarst 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. You need to write in a way that addresses your goals within the context of a particular situation. I review a good book on the subject here: https://codewithoutrules.com/2016/06/15/writing-book/

2. You need to understand the idea of style: there are multiple styles, each with its own set of assumptions about how you address the reader, what "truth" is, etc.. "Clear and Simple as the Truth" is a great book about the idea of multiple styles, and one particular style (the classic one).

3. Learn the practical style, which is suitable for many business writing situations. "Style: basics of clarity and grace" by Williams and Colomb is great book on the topic.

smacktoward 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are two steps required to become a better writer.

1. Read. Read everything. Read omnivorously. Read fiction and non-fiction, books and newspapers and magazines and Web sites. Read works by live authors and dead ones. Read stuff you wouldn't normally read. Part of developing your own voice is learning to hear the music in other peoples'.

2. Write. Write constantly. Write little notes and long essays. Write stories. Write a journal. Write down what happened to you today and what you dreamed last night. Write for an audience (even if it doesn't exist yet) and write for yourself. Writing is the process of trying on new voices until you find the one that fits you best. The only way to find the one that fits is to try on a lot that don't.

awinter-py 2 days ago 0 replies      
Direct experience leads to relevance. Have you ever read a piece of fiction or journalism and been like 'this person lived this and is sharing the experience'? Half of the creative process is identifying familiar, personal things you take for granted that others will find useful.

Effective writers (from farm-content buzzfeed to copywriter bill bernbach to pulitzer-winning journalist bill dedman) distill the most relevant events they've personally seen into a structure that coneveys the experience in order.

The delightful parody version of this is 'write what you know' in george lucas in love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0olm8478DE (and every writing manual). But the reason this line shows up everywhere is that it's a good first step.

Also, spend only 30% of your time on the first draft. It's seldom any good. Cultivate editors you trust who can work with you and meet you at the right stage. Writer Julian Fellowes talks about 'editing stages' in the first minute of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RSYT2gQFlQ.

bdcravens 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are you talking about style, grammar or ethics? Hyperbolic tweets and biased content marketing can be written well, communicating exactly what the author intended.
Maro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really good, short book that you will learn a lot from and can apply the next day when writing emails.

HBR Guide to Better Business Writing


Also, in general all "HBR Guide to _____" books are awesome.

ktaylor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Writing takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to just gain basic competency, let alone master. You have to put in a lot of butt-in-seat time.

Though I've gotten paid to write for a technology website, I am not a strong writer. But, I currently spend about 10 hours a week writing for my blog and other mediums and am continuously trying to get better.

Assuming one is putting in the time and effort, the next thing that will most quickly speed improvement is having an editor or other competent reviewer provide critical feedback, including on grammar, structure, and style. Then, keep rewriting a piece until you are no longer unhappy with it.

kabdib 2 days ago 0 replies      
Practice regularly and non-trivially for a long period of time. Figure on years. (Joe Haldeman recommends writing 1,000 words a day for ten years).

Find an honest editor, someone who will give you objective feedback and correct your mistakes.

I wrote a bunch and thought I was pretty good at technical documentation, and hey, I've got this blog I maintain [well, less now]. Then a real editor got hold of an effort of mine and it came back to me with many, many corrections. And you know, it was a LOT better; I couldn't argue with any of it.

And I know that Strunk and White is out of style, but I still recommend it.

ErrantX 2 days ago 0 replies      
Write a lot.

Have people read it; especially people with no incentive to just "be nice about it".

Write a lot.

A great tip to improve your writing is that sentences of varied length seem more natural.

Write a lot.

Ignore most of the rules. You stick to most rules by default but breaking them is what can make a piece excellent.

Write a lot.

Get great at research. Unless you are writing about yourself, your life or your experiences then you will need data to make the work come to life.

Write a lot.

Remember the 10,00 hour rule. To be great at something takes work and practice. So find a way to practice regularly and daily. I spent ~10 years writing Wikipedia articles.

vikingcaffiene 2 days ago 0 replies      
Being able to effectively communicate ideas via written word is crucial in technical fields. It's not even about blog posts or tweeting -although that's perfectly valid. We work in thoughts and ideas and they don't exist if we can't accurately describe them.

If anyone is interested in writing better non fiction I recommend "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser. It's compact and full of easy wins that one can translate quickly into their day to day written correspondence etc.

pjc50 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is subject- and field-specific. Years ago someone pointed me at http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~pam/papers/goodwriting.h... on legal writing, which contains two excellent first points: "1) Have a point" and "2) Get to the point".

Technical writing is a genre all its own.

inputcoffee 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. Revise

2. Practice

3. Turn off the TV, and social media

(You can apply this to a lot of other things)

Not sure what you mean by "take" though. I think it is both good and important, if that is what you were asking.

raamdev 2 days ago 1 reply      
I started a habit of writing 1,000 words every single day with the intention of improving my writing. I've written at least 1,000 words every single day for the past 291 days (okay, I missed one day at day 264). The writing has been in a private journal, not on public blog, although I've published hundreds of thousands of words to my blog over the past 15 years, just not much in the past few years.

I'd say the greatest insight that I've had from writing 1,000 words every single day for nearly the past year has been that simply writing 1,000 words every single day is not enough to foster real improvement. The habit definitely helps you overcome the initial resistance that you might feel towards getting started, and if you're not already good at typing or transferring thoughts in your head into words on the screen, I'm sure it helps with that too, but there comes a point at which, if you actually want to continue growing and becoming a better writer, you need a goal other than "write every day".

For me, the act of writing something that I intend to publish, to share with others, forces me to work on the writing, to tweak it, to think about how it can be made better, to question its clarity, to question the value of what I'm sharing. If what I'm intending to share contains a story, then knowing that it's going to be shared forces me to work on storycraft, to think about how someone else is going to interpret what I wrote. None of that happens naturally when you write privately, when your only goal is to see the word counter pass 1,000.

I've found that the greatest advancements in my own writing have come when I was blogging regularly (comparing posts from one year to another makes this very obvious). Whenever I've stopped blogging regularly for long periods of time, I find that my writing stops improving, even if the overall amount of writing I'm doing on a regular basis doesn't change that much (e.g., Slack messages, comments like these, etc.).

I'm not saying that you cannot improve as a writer when you write privately, just that improvement requires working toward specific goals that you know will challenge you to improve. Write a haiku. Write a short story. Look up from your laptop, find an object, and then try to write 1,000 words describing that object in as fine detail as possible. Do the same thing with an emotion that you've felt. And if you can, share what you write. Even if others don't give you feedback, the very knowledge that somebody, somewhere, will likely be judging your writing will cause you to subconsciously work a little harder to write better, to rewrite and to edit (which is the work that actually produces good writing).

ams6110 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reading a lot of good writers, and trying to notice and understand why they are good.

I think that's what has helped me the most. Sure a few rules of thumb such as "omit needless words" and "eschew obfuscation" but mostly just reading a lot.

wj 2 days ago 2 replies      
Like others I do not feel as if I understand the question and feel as if the question could have been phrased better by a better writer.

Do I think writing is important? Yes. I automatically disqualify a job candidate if their writing is poor.

Do I think writing skills have gone down? Yes. However this did not happen recently. I noticed it in 1997-1998 as my younger brother's generation starting to spend more time using instant messaging on the computer than they were doing their homework.

Do my views represent society at large? I am afraid they do not. I am continually flabbergasted by the comments that I see on YouTube and on news websites. In my opinion either schools are failing us or society is. Either way it has become clear that people are rewarded in the communities they deem important by being confrontational and derogatory without formulating and conveying a proper argument.

theparanoid 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to get ahead, write persuasively. Cialdini's book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" is good for technique.
falsedan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Say what you mean; lead with the idea you want to communicate; don't waste peoples' time.

edit: always be practicing, revising, improving.

anjalik 2 days ago 0 replies      
How much do they even teach this in school?
mythrwy 2 days ago 0 replies      
That is aint's all that gol danged importunt?
platz 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand the premise/motivation of the question.
Ask HN: How to Hire a Designer from Dribble?
55 points by justboxing  2 days ago   29 comments top 16
owens99 2 days ago 5 replies      
The UI of your project does NOT need work IMO. It looks great, functional, and you should be able to bring lot's of revenue in with the current design (assuming the site solves a problem). Your time will probably be better spent doing marketing, user testing and customer interviews.
didgeoridoo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Those people are wrong. Your UI is perfectly serviceable and does not need work at this stage. Do not waste your money on polishing the very decent UI you have it's unlikely to move the needle compared to other efforts like sales & marketing.

Source: I'm a designer.

franciscop 2 days ago 1 reply      
Quick tips:

- Icon in the nav should be 2x the final size and scaled down for high resolutions screens. If possible use SVG as that will scale ad infinitum.

- The search appears broken in Firefox, the culprit seems to be the "v" (down arrow). For testing several browsers I recommend https://www.browserstack.com/

- You are missing the "Apply now" inside each individual job, which is IMO the best place to put it.

- I would make the country flags a bit smaller. Maybe put them side by side in a continuous way in a more compact way.

Otherwise, as others said, it looks perfectly fine for a launch. And it also seems like a really useful service.

seales 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations on shipping! I rather like the UI.

Few quick thoughts

1. I don't like navigating back to the main page to search

* Example: http://imgur.com/XuZSrSR (no search bar here)

2. If a field is not populated, consider not displaying it

* Example: http://imgur.com/9b6UIUv

3. Some pages don't go anywhere meaningful

* http://visaok.in/press

* Sign in / register

* http://visaok.in/not_a_real_page (=> http://imgur.com/Qhue840)

4. Search doesn't handle some input; I get an error page

* Example: http://visaok.in/jobs/search?q=%3Ch1%3Etest%3C%2Fh1%3E

brogrammernot 2 days ago 0 replies      
You have essentially a listing site for Visa friendly jobs.

Your UI/UX is fine.

Similar website to yours - Craigslist.com and their UI is awful.

Focus on how you'll make money, how you can improve the product offering and other things people suggested.

ninohanif 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know how to hire designers from Dribbble, but I would like to suggest you few things. But first, your UI is not okay, you need to fix them.

1. On copywriting: I don't understand your copywriting, for example: "Top Visa Sponsor Countries", "74 Jobs United States". Hmmm, what? Also, I don't understand some words, like: "sought-after" without dictionary (this is my third language). Remember, when you're writing, any words that you have to see from dictionary is the wrong words.

2. On typography: grey text on white background is pretty, but hard to read. Why do you write them? Right, for people to read. Imagine how painful it is for people with color blind or low vision. And pay attention to hierarchy.

3. On elements: we like to see something that looks neat. Remember: 1) Order and balance. If you use padding top 1em, it's better if you also use padding bottom 1em. 2) Space and group. Orange and apple should be in the same group. Dog and cat. Then, add space to tell people that they're not the same group: fruit and animal. Visit learndesignprinciples.com for quick read.

4. On icons: why Facebook, Twitter, G+, and YouTube at the top? But why LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube at the bottom? Why without text and with text? Remember consistency. Oh, and why hamburger menu? It's not like the cart icon that people already understand without copy.

5. On color: looks like you use three colors for link. Hmmm? Blue, black, and grey. Why? I suggest just blue. Remember, consistency. Why blue and red buttons? Lastly, don't rely on colors, remember color blind and low vision.

Well, I can write more if you want, but I think you understand. And yes, don't spend too much money for designers. Even Buffett doesn't like to spend money to hire designer (berkshirehathaway.com). Here's my suggestions:

1. Learn design, for fun. Because why not. I am self-taught designer. It's easier to learn design than programming. I am currently learning JavaScript, and it's hard. Design is not that hard.

2. If you want a quick solutions: visit some wonderful websites. Then, you take the most wonderful elements (header, button, footer, etc.), combine them to your project.

For more: where to read? NNGroup, UIE, Usability Post, etc. People? Jakob Nielsen, Jared Spool, Don Norman, etc.

sixQuarks 2 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with the others, the usability is fine the way it is, I like that it's not cluttered, and it's easy to browse around.

What you really need is a good copywriter. Someone who will ask you the right questions to find out who your users are, what their pain-points and needs are, and then create copy that will pique their interest and guide them on what they should do on your site.

That will be much better money spent.

OoTheNigerian 2 days ago 1 reply      
Finally, I get to be an "expert" on Hacker News :).

I have hired a number of great designers from dribbble some of which went on to work in places like Apple.

First step: Get Dribbble pro for $25. It'd worth it.

Step 2: first search for designers based on a similar project. In my 1st case I used keywords like "music" "Spotify" "player" etc. In yours, you can use "classifieds", "Craigslist" "Job Board" etc. People would charge lower if they are doing similar stuff they've done before, or have sampled similar ideas.

Step 3: Based on budget, filter for

A. Designers from everywhere apart from US and UK. For. Skills, people have to charge based on their living expenses and based on what they can get in their vicinity.

B. Solo Designers Available for work

South Africa, Some of Western and Eastern Europe (Holland, Belgium, Poland, Romania etc) have an abundance of great affordable designers.

Step 3: Open up a spreadsheet for up to 30 designers with style you like and put up their names and email addresses. Follow. Them so you know who you've contacted.

Step 4: Sent out individual messages. Some have their emails listed. Some you need to contact via Dribbble.

The email has to be brief an to the point. People.

My email was like this.

--Subject : Are you available for Freelance

Message: Hi Name.

Great work on Dribbble. Are you available for freelance? What's your rate? I have a well detailed out project that would need design help.

I hope to hear from you.

(you can add, that you're a developer so working with you will be straightforward)


Quotes are high because people budget for project creep. Being clear can reduce your budget by 30%.

Step 5: Based on response rate (expect ~50%) filter out. Thank those who are beyond your budget. Sometimes they ask for the progect scope and their total may be lower. For me, I focused on people that charged max of $40/hour. I usually negotiate by showing all the wire framed pages to be designed and getting my quote.

Step 6 : Rinse and Repeat until you get what you're looking for.

Note: Your site looks very good especially as a v1. Focus on traction first. Like others have said you "maybe" need some UX work.

I'm not a designer and do product for my startup and usually do the recruiting. Feel free to contact me. (email in profile)

PS: Put your website on this thread so people can check it out.

symfony_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Design looks fine to me.Got an error after clicking on 'C#' on the homepage, might want to look into that? :)
edpichler 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really liked your website. I also think you don't need to redesign for a while.
meerab 2 days ago 0 replies      
Visually, the middle content looks too bold and over the top compared with header and footer. But the UI looks intuitive. Can you share what technology stack you used (backend and frontend) to build it?
snowc0de 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the UI is fine, but the UX could use some work.
pan69 2 days ago 0 replies      
You do not need a "better" design. Visually it looks just fine. Focus on the functionality and marketing instead.
dabber 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have you looked on UpWork?

I don't have any experience hiring there but it may be worth a shot.

ng12 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why Dribbble? Sites like Upwork seem better suited for your needs.
pololee 2 days ago 1 reply      
you mean dribbble :)
Ask HN: What Happened to the Startup School MOOC?
81 points by Suncho  1 day ago   8 comments top 4
sandslash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry about that. There were a few technical difficulties this week that delayed our lecture releases. Alan Kay's second lecture will be up again asap this coming week, with our new lecture as well.
wonderous 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the email that was sent out by YC:


DATE: Sun, May 28, 2017 at 12:53 PM (Pacific Time)

SUBJECT: Announcement: Startup School Delay in Videos This Week


Startup School Delay in Videos This Week

Hi all,

We apologize for the lack of videos this week. We ran into quite a few technical difficulties with video editing/publishing, so this past week's lectures will be delayed until the coming week.

In addition, Alan Kay wanted to update a few parts of his lecture slides, so his second lecture will be back up this coming week as well.


robomartin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have to say I was initially excited about Startup School but that wore off pretty quickly. This "school" amounts to a bunch of interviews with a bunch of company founders. That's fine, but these are not much more than the history of these folks and their business yet, in my opinion, don't deliver much in the way of actionable value. And, as an aside, if I have to sit through five more minutes of up-talk I'll have to slice my veins (say that in up-talk).

I am not saying this to be mean. I just don't think this effort has delivered actionable value. Years ago I subscribed to Mixergy. The site is about interviewing successful entrepreneurs and delivering usable wisdom in the process. I have to say the difference could not be greater. Mixergy interviews are genuinely useful, something I cannot say about Startup School. Beyond that, the site has hundreds of interviews across every imaginable topic. I have no relation whatsoever to Mixergy other than having been a subscriber for a couple of years and thinking of going back.

pinpeliponni 1 day ago 1 reply      
Unrelated, but also check out http://schoolofherring.com/videos/ for some general leadership lessons.
Ask HN: What portfolio items are most impressive to you when hiring developers?
67 points by nullundefined  4 days ago   32 comments top 10
kasey_junk 3 days ago 2 replies      
The best devs I know dont have portfolio pieces. They tend to work on problems that the people employing them pay a lot of money to prevent being public.

So for me portfolios are for junior devs & graduate students looking to leave academia. Therefore, I look for things that are uncommon in those environments, engineering over theory, documentation & tests over novelty.

Note: if I were hiring for a researcher the above would not be true.

indescions_2017 3 days ago 1 reply      
Look for "fit & finish" in a completed app. There is an old saying: "we're 90% done, now all we have to do is the remaining 90%!" I like to see that polish. It implies an understanding of the craft that is required, attention to detail, good debugging skills and an appreciation of human-centric design principles.
corobo 4 days ago 2 replies      
Anything at all relevant to the role - same language, same functionality at least.

Ideally things like good tests, good code structure, personally I'd also like to see a stable language choice too - if you're jumping from one language to the next to the next I'll probably assume you're going to want to rewrite everything in the new hotness every other week and that's a pain in the arse.

Associated blog posts that explain how your code works and why though? I'd put your name to the top of the "get this person in" list on the spot

camhenlin 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I like to see projects that people are obviously passionate about. A project that someone worked on with passion is likely to be some of their best work and best ideas melded together. If the output of that is good, they're probably worth giving a shot.
softwarefounder 1 day ago 0 replies      

i.e. Have you successfully implemented a good OAuth[2] security system? Can you explain the difference between JWTs, and session auth? Why choose one over the other. Talk to me about SSL a little bit, even at a high-level. How do you secure APIs? Talk to me about how you encrypt passwords, and sensative data.

Have you had to deal with PCI DSS?

This is one of the differences between "I'm a developer who has maintained a simple CRUD app" and "I'm a senior developer who can build a secure system".

Or in other words, authentication separates the men from the boys.

agitator 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like seeing personal projects that solve interesting problems, and that show that the person really considered the use cases and application of their project (UX design, functionality, etc.). There are good engineers, and then there are engineers that focus on why/who they are doing the engineer and I think that's really important, especially in a startup setting where people need to be intelligent self starters and hold themselves to high standards without having someone breathing down their neck.
sodafountan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like to see lots of personal projects, the more complete and fleshed out the better, it shows you have a passion for the craft. I'm also slightly biased in favor of people without a college degree like myself, but I certainly wouldn't hold a degree against anyone.

so my most impressive candidate would be someone without a degree and quite a few very complete and well polished personal projects.

edoceo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anything that has shipped.

If you run an open project on GitHub I'll also look at your wiki and issues, to evaluate communication.

20years 3 days ago 1 reply      
Something that has shipped, acquired customers and made money. Those things are more impressive to me than what framework, programming language, etc. you used.
lastofus 3 days ago 1 reply      
Something with a vibrant community built up around it is most impressive to me. It shows a degree of communication and management, not to mention marketing.

Otherwise, most github repos are not that impressive as I have no idea how long it took to write (did it take a few months to write something most devs could write in a few days?), or if the candidate even wrote it at all.

Ask HN: Why does SNAP need 1,859 employees?
46 points by newyearnewyou  3 days ago   25 comments top 11
jamesmishra 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Snapchat does a few different things now:

- hardware design

- computer vision

- iOS, Android, and server development

- content production -- shooting video, writing scripts, etc.

- selling advertising -- they need many account managers and salespeople for this

and then there is HR, Legal, and Finance to support the aforementioned orgs.

For a company like Snap, 1,859 employees is pretty small. At this time of writing, Uber has somewhere around 12,000 and Facebook has about 18,000.

tyingq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Judging by their jobs page, it's uber-specialization and the natural tendency of job preservation.

For example, there's these four jobs: Character Artist/Bitmoji, Illustrator/Bitmoji, Product Design/Bitmoji, Technical Lead/Bitmoji

No idea how many people already work on it. But there will be four more. And they will find ways to justify their existence, and grow the size of the group so that their relative importance versus other products gives enough internal power.

ExactoKnight 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's the iron law of oligarchy at work. I struggle to find many tech companies outside of the big four that didn't begin to decline long term post-IPO.
adamb_ 3 days ago 2 replies      
Compared to the # of users -- i.e. orders of magnitude greater -- that's a pretty reasonably-sized team.
Endy 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sorry, but do you mean SNAP as in SnapChat, or do you mean SNAP as in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program? Either one has good reason to have a sizable team.
1ba9115454 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's like when you watch a film and the credits roll by at the end. There seems to be hundreds of people involved and I often think maybe they could have gotten away with a few actors and a cameraman.
panic 3 days ago 0 replies      
They don't need that many employees. Every team wants to hire more people for various reasons, so more people will be hired as long as there is budget for it.
Sevii 2 days ago 0 replies      
Building the core platform maybe took 100. Optimizing the platform to make money probably takes 1000+.
forgottenacc57 3 days ago 2 replies      
Because you don't get a big valuation without the appearance of being big.
riffic 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's just how bubbles work.
Ask HN: Tools that can notify us when our REST API call fails
10 points by black_blood  1 day ago   10 comments top 8
dmlittle 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You can use Pingdom[1] to make regular requests over a period of time and have it alert you whenever it fails. I would also suggest an error reporting tool such as Sentry[2] to keep track of common errors and why a request might have failed.

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

[2] https://sentry.io/

jamesmishra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Runscope (https://www.runscope.com/) is a service that does this. The founder, John Sheehan, was an early Twilio employee and he lives and breathes developer APIs.
fiiv 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of possibilities as to why it's failing. For debugging error codes, it is easy - you can attach something to your error handling code, or in some frameworks you can just install a module/gem/etc that sends your error data off to a service like NewRelic or Opbeat (there's tons of these providers). Using these kinds of things you can understand not just the stack traces of errors but sometimes also the data the user submitted. You can also set up your own infrastructure that does the same, of course.

For timeouts, it may be tougher to do. If you use some kind of reverse proxy to spread the load to instances of your API, then this might be a nice place to start investigating your problems, and there is where you're going to want some tooling. If you're using Node.js, it could be possible the code for a specific endpoint does not send a response (maybe only under certain circumstances) - so you will need to debug that particular aspect of it and ensure that a response is sent, otherwise timeouts will happen.

As for actually sending test requests to your API, the difficultly with this method is that if, for example, you're posting a new user and your tool posts once every 5 mins, then you will have 12 garbage users after an hour. Not to mention that you will need to write a test for each error possibility as well, since it could be that a validation error is causing the timeout. So for this it probably makes sense to write a test suite, and include a test for each of the possible scenarios, or paths through your code.

cdnsteve 1 day ago 0 replies      
For something simple you could just catch the error and write to your logs. If you're using something like Papertrail you can setup filters to watch for and alert you of specific events like API failure. It can notify you via email, Slack or other things. Then you can simply login to papertrail and review the logs, hopefully with messaging that includes why it failed so you can investigate.
creichert 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Assertible (https://assertible.com) can do this. Designed to be a simple API testing solution with flexible automation and monitoring. Disclaimer - I am a founder.
jlengrand 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug, for something simple and visual we built Servsup a while ago.


It's fully open source

whatnotests 1 day ago 0 replies      
StatusCake is nice. Also Zabbix.
Avalaxy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe something like pingdom?
Ask HN: As a developer, how do you capture domain knowledge from your users?
11 points by castdoctor  1 day ago   3 comments top 3
pattrn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I released a mobile application about ten months ago. By far, I've gotten the best feedback through the feedback feature I built into the app. It's a simple dropdown menu, accessible from any screen, that allows the user to send feedback directly to my email. In addition to this, I talk to my users. These two techniques have given me an overwhelming amount of domain knowledge to build.

Just reaching out and talking to people works wonders and takes almost no effort, so I never had to automate any of it.

parvatzar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Exploring and debugging the business layer app code end to end and documenting insights or calculation formulae. The next step is to talk to business in case there are bug or feature requests. This is when i can fill in the gaps in my knowledge and sometimes even to confirm if what executes in the code maps with what users intend. I believe beyond tools its a combination of human interaction and the art of debugging. Building an overall picture of the business process and flows is not entirely possible in real world of client support as most of us havent written the code we work with. However, I can say that understanding the business process and the problems being solved by the code is what makes software dev a passion more than a profession and enable us developers to seek the roads to our own entrepreneurial ventures.
bbcbasic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the biggest problems are no the lack of a tool to do this, but in the skill in soliciting this information from other people. Especially if those users are on the other side of the world.

To answer your question we use JIRA to capture issues and Confluence to document requirements. But this probably wouldn't be any better than any competing system and is just an organisational choice based on typical business reasons.

Something that I might find useful is a way to link up a "requirement" from a user through to a spec, to design, to code, to the test plan to test it for full tractability. Often we see rules in code and have no idea why that rule is there, but it has to be preserved just in case it was important and was a requirement of the user!

Ask HN: What is your most impressive hackathon project?
113 points by Windson  4 days ago   86 comments top 37
franciscop 4 days ago 2 replies      
I won a NASA world competition by building a Heads Up Display (AR) and motion tracking software in ~36h with a classmate. Around 1 year before the Hololens and similar solutions existed.

As my classmate and I were talking through Skype the night before the competition started, I looked through my window and could see the stars. However, I could also see my face dimly lit from my laptop screen overlapping. So it came to me that it was a great way of making a HUD for a prototype.

We got to it and built the prototype from scratch. It took a lot of work and resourcefulness, rushing to get a webcam from friends that would work a Sunday morning (in Spain that year shops were closed on Sundays). Then we used several languages I already knew, if I remember correctly: HTML, CSS, PHP as the HUD display was actually a webpage, Processing for hand tracking and C++ for Arduino. I made the whole software part and my classmate the hardware+electronics. There were some more things like sensors and stuff that we made.

For the local phase we made it theatrical starting with the moon landing audio and the lights off, with me entering wearing the helmet and barely able to breathe and my classmate with the laptop and cables. Connect the projector and a screen appears. I'm sweating, but I point with my finger at a part of the screen and it correctly reads where and displays the info real-time. The same for the other 4 points and I can feel truly happy inside that it is working.

After winning the local one we rushed to get votes since we got into the People's Choice category and we had a strong battle against Macedonia's team. They were Trending Topic for most of the week the contest was happening in their whole country while in Spain it was all about football and celebs and we just made it into regional newspapers at that point. Another team also used bots but of course NASA people detected it. We won in the end, visited Cape Canaveral and saw a rocket launch.

One of the best moments (of my life) was when I came to class after winning the whole thing and everyone stood up and started clapping.

Here is the project, https://2014.spaceappschallenge.org/project/space-helmet/(yes, for the video we used a fishtank and printed GoPros as props)

Many edits: added extra info and details, sorry for the long post.

ollerac 4 days ago 5 replies      

Our team of 3 won the first Node Knockout by a slim margin with this realtime, multiplayer, pixel formation game.

Edit: Thank you for your positive feedback! Send me suggestions and ideas if you have any.

Tip: press spacebar.

awjr 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd spent an intense week coding so was feeling a bit burnt out with a hangover. So decided to create a tube map of Bath Cycle Routes with the help of one other on the day.

Many iterations later the map and the process through which the map is created is being used nationally and internationally. I've done workshops. Spoken at national conferences. The local tourist office hands it out. It's going to be in next months local authority magazine. Even had enquiries from local authorities to make these for them.

It's up for a local award in innovation (will find out in June if I've won).https://cyclebath.org.uk/2017/05/11/finalist-creative-bath-a...

Something that was a "meh really do not want to code today" hack has turned into a bit of a monster.

I think it would be good to automate how these maps are created, but there really is an artform to making them work well and require an immense amount of local knowledge and public consultation.

throwaway_beerz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I drank beers and chilled for a week while people were burning out coding for free. That's the most impressive thing I've done at an hackaton. I code 24/7 from Monday to Friday for the same company, sometimes on the weekends too. They said hackatons are optional so I took a break and was fresh the next Monday at the office ;)
nailer 4 days ago 0 replies      
"How can mirrors be real if eyes aren't real?" - Jaden Smith

I made a Chrome Extension that blocks eyes: https://vimeo.com/90351144

If someone runs a dumb ideas hackathon in London, my next plans are either:

- Song lyrics to nineties powerpoint presentation converter, with lots of bullets and stock photos, and timed transitions

- A computer vision and Mortal Kombat-style announcer for pissing the shit off toilet seats

emdowling 4 days ago 1 reply      
I built a digital bank for refugees that would allow them to set up a bank account, move their funds for safe keeping and also store documents securely. Authentication happened entirely through a 6 digit code and facial and voice recognition through use of video. The idea was that refugees or other displaced persons would be able to access their documents and funds through any device, so that they could easily establish their identity and life in a new country.

The other aspect was location verification. Working with NGOs, you could use this authentication method to let displaced persons login at certified locations. This solves two big issues:

1. Family member tracking. Red Cross and other organisations spend millions of dollars each year tracing where family members ended up. It is quite common for families to be split - reuniting them is a multi-year, labour intensive job. Solving that would do the world a whole lot of good.

2. Journey verification. When assessing refugee visa status, governments spend a lot of time trying to verify what journey a particular person took to get there to prove that they are legitimately a refugee. If a refugee could irrefutably prove their journey, then it would dramatically cut down on visa processing times.

We won that hackathon - I just wish I had time to develop it more. Tried to find who to talk to but the idea of using technology to solve the refugee crisis seems a little outlandish to traditional NGOs who (rightly so) place a lot of emphasis on food and shelter over apps.

codefined 4 days ago 3 replies      
My team (5 others) and I built an application that would help you revise or learn a subject by testing you about it, where that subject could be anything, from mathematics to Shakespeare.

It worked by scraping the top 1000 Bing results and then scraping several levels deep from each of the results to generate a "map" of knowledge. This in turn could be used to ask the user questions, generated fill-in-the-blanks, matchups & whatever else you could think up.

It worked after the five-day hackathon, which was truly surprising, but unfortunately, it used too much computing power so we never released it to the world.

ganeshkrishnan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have been to couple of hackathons. My second favorite is

WikiNomad: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wikinomad , https://www.wikinomad.com

I improved on this after the hackathon too.

My personal favorite was predicting depression before it occurs in a person using just his cellphone. We worked on Stanford thesis that was able to predict depression based on the number of wifi points a user connected to variances to the wifi points.

We increased the data points to GPS, wake times, bluetooth connections, text sentiment analysis and amount of facebook + instagram apps usage and using neural networks trained to classify a user as depressed with a probability value.

sideproject 4 days ago 0 replies      
I created "SideProjectors" - a marketplace for developers and entrepreneurs to buy and sell their side projects (and also you can show your side projects off too!).


It won second prize sponsored by Freelancer at a local hackathon. That was almost 4 or 5 years ago now. I've improved the site a few times since then and it's still going quite strong! :)

qrv3w 4 days ago 1 reply      
A Harry Potter style "Maruauder's Map" which tracks people in a business/location in real-time. [1]

[1] https://github.com/schollz/find-maraudersmap

bjelkeman-again 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not mine, but my now colleagues attended a World Bank supported hackathon [1] and created the prototype for a water quality testing kit for smartphones, Caddisfly [2]. It ended up becoming a product which essentially gives you very close to lab results from an inexpensive and easy to operate field kit.

I normally consider hackathons a questionable way to engage the tech community. In my opinion they seldom lead to anything sustainable and set the wrong expectations. [3]

Disclosure: I helped finance the continued product development through our organisational work.

[1] http://www.techsangam.com/2011/11/08/my-thoughts-on-bangalor...

[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716...

[3] https://www.citylab.com/life/2013/07/are-hackathons-stupid/6...

yeldarb 4 days ago 0 replies      
My devpost profile: https://devpost.com/yeldarb

I tend to work solo at Hackathons.

My favorite project was a presentation remote for Google Glass[1]. You could control your presentation with the touch bar on the side of the glasses, see your current slide in the HUD, and it also included a timer so you could make sure you didn't run over your talk's time limit.

Second favorite was Cardwolla[2]. A system where you could register your credit card and your dwolla account and a corresponding API for websites. If user and site had both opted in to taking dwolla it would route around the credit card system using the dwolla api to avoid to avoid the 2.7% credit card processing fees.

[1] https://devpost.com/software/presentation-remote-for-google-...

[2] https://devpost.com/software/cardwolla

samort7 4 days ago 1 reply      
Attended my first hackathon last month. We built "Spitter". It speaks twitter! You subscribe to someone's twitter account through it and whenever they tweet, you'll get a phone call and an automated voice will read out the tweet to you. Was really cool/creepy the next morning when we started getting calls with a robot reading Trump tweets about Obamacare to us!
zopf 4 days ago 0 replies      
I made a thing that turns my Instagram posts into ambient soundscapes by understanding the content of the images, searching for relevant sounds, and mixing them into looped audio scenes.

It was made for the Monthly Music Hackathon in NYC held at Spotify, but it ended up being not terribly musical and more about just fun with audio and convnets :)


Oh yeah! And for another instance of the same meetup, I teamed up with a guy who was great with audio synthesis, and I hooked up an Arduino and a gyroscope and microphone to my drumstick, and we made a wireless throat-singing, spatially-aware percussion instrument:


nishs 4 days ago 2 replies      
A real-time voice-based lyrics suggester, in a web browser. Similar to a karaoke machine, but the rhyming words are generated based on your most recent word.


AaronLasseigne 4 days ago 0 replies      
The company I worked at did a 2 week long hackathon. Another developer and I built a Ruby gem that creates service objects which integrate nicely into the Rail ecosystem. It was a bunch of fun and over time it ended up becoming a big part of our codebase. We open sourced it and it's done pretty well (https://github.com/orgsync/active_interaction). In fact, I was at a conference and met a guy who's company was using it. It was really cool to run into someone benefiting from my work.
Glench 4 days ago 0 replies      
Screamy Bird A clone of Flappy Bird but instead of tapping on the screen to make the bird flap you scream at your phone. http://glench.com/ScreamyBird (Works best in Firefox for larger devices) I made this for the SF Stupid Shit No One Needs & Terrible Ideas Hackathon: https://stupidhackathon.github.io/
matt_m 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I'm not sure a technically impressive hackathon project is a plus past a certain point.

Not everyone follows the rules of the hackathon and works only during the time period. I was on a team that was a finalist at one of the startup festivals and won a few thousand dollars. Talking with the prize sponsor afterwards, they said something along the lines of "you don't have to pretend you did this all at the hackathon, I know how these things work". When they realized that we did, I think they were disappointed!

It worked out for us that time, but in most hackathons they don't have time to vet all the projects thoroughly, and if you do too much there will be a strong suspicion that you are cheating and just using it as a pseudo startup pitch and that can be held against you.

If you want to win, I think the best strategy for productive teams is to do more than one project since it's hard to know what any particular judge will like.

Anyway, to answer the question, the most impressive was probably a UI layout app (Mac) that synced the layout in real time with native iOS and Android apps using native widgets (this was before react native was popular). Where it was only a 24 hour hackathon and I ended up doing all 3 apps from scratch. I'm still pleased about getting horizontal and vertical snap alignment in! I'm sure the judges (reasonably) thought it was not from scratch but it can be fun to push once in a while, and people you hack with will know you did it.

It's best not to take it too seriously though. Rather than be impressive, it's probably better to be creative and do lots of stuff (and have fun too!).

runnr_az 4 days ago 0 replies      
Emoji Domain registration: https://xn--i-7iq.ws

Not particularly popular on HackerNews for whatever reason, it was the type of thing where I finished my project at 2:00 AM and when I woke up at 6:00 am to get it together to do my demo, it was already getting tons of traffic.

It got writeups in Fortune, CNET, Lifehacker, and DailyMail over the course of the next week.

drej 4 days ago 1 reply      
We built a bunch of stuff at this non-profit, which would host us every Monday evening and let us hack away using their data and code. I call this 'recurring hackathons' and it was the best thing ever, because we got to plan longer term, we could, but didn't have to, attend regularly, there was collaboration with an in-house expert, a lot of knowledge sharing, ...

As for regular hackathons... a lot has been said in this thread already.

drizzzler 4 days ago 0 replies      
paddywack12 4 days ago 1 reply      
My team won a bank-sponsored hackathon and a $15,000 prize because 4 days before it started, I came across this Reddit thread:https://www.reddit.com/r/Lightbulb/comments/43ljd4/a_virtual...

We built a tamagotchi-like app called Piggly that would let you feed and take care of it using money from your bank account. However, instead of treating it like an in-app purchase, the money goes from your chequing account into savings or investments (you decide).

The server is still up if anyone would like to try it:

You can Register with any 6 digit number.

Cymen 4 days ago 0 replies      
While at Mattermark, I made their Google Chrome extension in a two day Hackathon. That code was shipped and is right now their current chrome extension (it looks like there were minor changes since then). In all fairness, the designer had already done mockups so there wasn't a lot of back and forth on how it should work.

You can see an animated image of it here:


I was a bit disappointed we shipped Hackathon code instead of doing it as part of normal product development. There were issues in the product development cycle and in reality, the end result was good so such is life.

bwasti 4 days ago 0 replies      

We made a video chat app that ran in the terminal. Didn't win but went kinda viral. We later polished it up

chrisa 4 days ago 0 replies      
We won first place at an IoT hackathon with a "Smart Locker" project. You could unlock the locker (via bluetooth) with your phone to check out a piece of equipment, and the app would show you who had which piece of equipment checked out.

I wrote up how I built the React Native app part in under 24 hours: https://nanohop.com/2017/04/25/how-we-built-a-react-native-a...

It was really neat seeing the hardware and software come together in only a day!

vocatus_gate 4 days ago 0 replies      
Either Tron, a small one-off hacky script I made to automate the annoying process of cleaning up an infected Windows computer and which unexpectedly spiraled into a major open-source project:


or...this bad boy:


Hideous but it worked.

billconan 4 days ago 0 replies      
An augemented reality app for google glass to learn writing Chinese characters.


This won us the first prize for a google glass hackathon.

subcosmos 4 days ago 0 replies      
I attended a machine learning hackathon and built a food-recognition model in caffe that eventually became a mobile food logging app. Discussed here over a year ago : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11712751

Now that we're in the post SeeFood hotdog/nothotdog era, things have changed ;)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJsOA4Zl6Io

GroupsOne 3 days ago 0 replies      
Two projects I can name with. 1. Whatsapp , facebook group finder. http://groupsone.com/2. Chrome extension for Indian railways tatkal booking website. http://www.spotjourney.com/

Just love them.

subsidd 4 days ago 0 replies      
My friend and I built a safety bracelet for women which had a GPS, GPRS chip and an inbuilt pepperspray which when sprayed triggered an alarm to volunteers nearby through the app.
sb8244 4 days ago 0 replies      
I never built anything crazy tech-focused at a hackathon, rather focus on a problem or product idea and flesh it out. This has worked well.

On that note, I would say that using Gimbal beacons to power a walking tour app was something that people responded really well to. From a tech side, I had to write some adapters for ionic that I had never done before. It worked surprisingly well

drdre2001 4 days ago 0 replies      
I made a compiler for IBM's Quantum Computer:https://github.com/vtomole/aubree. It's my most impressive hackathon project because it's the only one that I still work on post-hackathon.
deathspin 4 days ago 1 reply      
garysieling 4 days ago 0 replies      
I built a simple code search engine at a Solr conference - https://github.com/garysieling/solr-git
penteston 4 days ago 0 replies      
I organized in Azerbaijan CTF http://ctf.hackathonazerbaijan.org
gue5t 4 days ago 5 replies      
In general hackathons are based on the idea of programming as producing objects/products/services (which all decay over time), rather than seeing programming as the act of codifying understanding of a formal (or informal) system into an executable representation (which its users continue updating to match their mental model for as long as they find it useful). The purpose of many hackathons being "build apps/widgets on top of our service for us!" presupposes the former view.

Looking at programming this way is harmful to all of us (because it encourages us to spend time building things designed to decay out from under their users, or that could be built as contributions to open-source libraries, but which wouldn't be a "startup idea", "product" or "mvp" anymore), and it would be nice if folks in this thread took a moment to step back from the things they've built (which are fun and useful, most of the time!) to think about working on ideas as contributions to open-source infrastructure libraries rather than standalone programs or services.

Programming toys is fun; programming universally accessible, near-permanent extensions to human capability is exhilarating.

I'd like to pre-empt the response of "people should be able to write apps and toys and services if they want!". Of course they can. I just want to make sure people have considered an alternative point of view, since it's easy to never step outside apps culture.

beeks10 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: What are some must read books for computer programmers?
10 points by apexkid  14 hours ago   4 comments top 4
mindcrime 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Gosh, there's so many. But these come to mind:

1. Neuromancer - William Gibson

2. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

3. Hackers - Heroes of the Computer Revolution - Steven Levy

4. How to Measure Anything - Douglas Hubbard

5. Godel, Escher, Bach - Douglas Hofstadter

6. The Pragmatic Programmer - Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas

7. The Soul of a New Machine - Tracy Kidder

8. Code - Charles Petzold

9. The Shockwave Rider - John Brunner

10. Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We BecomeBook - Peter Morville

11. Don't Make Me Think - Steve Krug

12. The Design of Everyday Things - Donald A. Norman

13. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering - Fred Brooks

14. Decline and Fall of the American Programmer - Ed Yourdon

15. Cube Farm - Bill Blunden

16. The Philip K. Dick Reader

17. The Cuckoo's Egg - Clifford Stoll

18. The Prince - Niccol Machiavelli

19. The 48 Laws of Power - Robert Greene

20. The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross

21. Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System - Bill Gates

shubhamjain 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic but around a month back, I curated all Hacker News book related threads on a web page[1]. There have been multiple discussion related to technical books; lots of awesome recommendations.

[1]: https://stuff.shubhamjain.co/hn-book-threads/

WalterSear 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a bit of a how long is a piece of string question.

However, here are a bunch of articles regarding papers every programmer should read:



code_Whisperer 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Some choice fiction:

Daemon, by Daniel Suarez

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Gold Bug Variations, by Richard Powers

Galatea 2.2, by Richard Powers

Off to Be the Wizard, by Scott Meyer

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Neuromancer, by William Gibson

The Adolescence Of P-1, by Thomas J. Ryan (from when I was just a kid)

Is Free Market Good for Public?
12 points by tai_hn  2 days ago   9 comments top 2
tai_hn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some people seem to believe that markets need to be free. They are against interference of the government to dictate what participants can or cannot do. This concept of a free market generally leads the privatization of the governmental function. They think therefore its best to deregulate as much as possible.

I have to say that this is a ridiculous idea considering unfairness in our society.

It is a proven fact that most rich people are rich for the simple reason that they were born into a rich family, while most poor people will remain poor throughout their lives simply because they were born into a poor family. Imagine the world where education, healthcare, public safety, criminal justice, national security and immigration are all up for sale(although its already happening in some countries...). This makes our level of inequality worse than ever because the more money can buy, the more affluence matters.

What we need to do is not to discuss about the extreme logic between libertarianism and conservatism, but to decide what money should and should NOT be able to buy.

Seems to me that free market believer doesn't realize that there IS a regulation that they value because they take its legitimacy for granted. For example, there are many things that we are not allowed to trade. Human slaves, human organs, electoral votes, government job and legal decisions, university places or uncertified medicines although they were legal before.

On top of drawing the boundary of the market, government needs to design the rule to prevent corporations from behaving unethically. History tells us that corporation behave unethically without interference of the government. Actually, we have been fighting for that. Thanks to our ancestors, in a labor market, it is not allowed to have a child labor, and a minimum wage is protected by the government.

People who believe in free market merely oversimplify things to make it easy to understand for them. What we truly need is a market with well-designed rules.

bbcbasic 1 day ago 0 replies      
In a truly free market with no government interference there would be no fiat currency, no tax, no property laws, no central banks etc. The capitalists would hate it.

Not saying I'd advocate that scenario.

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