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Ask HN: What's your favorite HN post?
692 points by rkhraishi on Sept 14, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 137 comments
Been asked several times but interested to see references to more recent posts.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2158116 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3996652

Here are a few that I quite like, digging up from my bookmarks.

  - #define CTO - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8516777
  - Ask HN: The “I want to do everything but end up doing nothing” dilemma -  https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9049208
  - Ask HN: How to Be a Good Technical Lead? - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10395046
  - Ask HN: When you feel stuck in life - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12143266
  - How to stop feeling lonely - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7044690
  - We only hire the trendiest - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11326940
  - The days are long but the decades are short (my personal favourite post and comments all the time) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9454440


- #define CTO - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8516777

- Ask HN: The “I want to do everything but end up doing nothing” dilemma - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9049208

- Ask HN: How to Be a Good Technical Lead? - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10395046

- Ask HN: When you feel stuck in life - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12143266

- How to stop feeling lonely - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7044690

- We only hire the trendiest - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11326940

- The days are long but the decades are short - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9454440

Thanks for your list! I tried the first link but it is giving a 404. I looked it up in his blog and found this: https://blog.gregbrockman.com/figuring-out-the-cto-role-at-s...

Could you please confirm if this is the same one?

YC post was 688 days ago. date.today() - timedelta(days=688) is 2014-10-27. Blog post you linked was published October 27, 2014. I'm gonna go ahead and say it's the same one!

http://archive.is/IbM9W is the result on the query of the posted URL. Looks to be the same.

yep, it seems the title has changed.

Here are a few more - How to Deploy Software - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11204736

- Ask HN: What's left for early startup engineers as the company grows? - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8881811

- How I wrote a self-hosting C compiler in 40 days - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10731002

- Who Y Combinator Companies Want - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10698009

- Why I quit my dream job at Ubisoft - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10953381

- Ask HN: How do I start being a consultant? (Thomas's comment there is gold!) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4245960

- Request For Research: Basic Income - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10982340&utm_term=comme...

That seems like quite a neat list....thanks !!


We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the HN guidelines.


Your comment history is a stronger indicator of your projection.

Maybe if you went outside instead of leaving mean comments on HN you'd be a nicer person.

uh, really? how do you know what his situation is?

maybe op had a son, or daughter, or parent, or friend, or co-worker, or co-founder, go through loneliness/depression/etc? and these are some of the resources mustered to help?

maybe op was depressed himself, and found a way out, and now wants to help other people?

maybe op is a psychologist or psychiatrist. you know, a professional.

maybe op is venture capitalist with a portfolio run by executives who exhibit these symptoms?

maybe op is a line manager who deals with this issue on his staff reports, or manages "up" to his overworked executives?

what a shame. i expect more from the hn crowd.

This comment still makes me chuckle and its pretty much true: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=287767

So, you're gonna code the whole thing, do the servers and work for sweat equity...

anamax 8 years ago comments

If they don't have the money to pay you, you're not an employee, you're a founder and you get the same deal that they get.

If they balk, suggest that they find another code monkey while you find another biz monkey and let the market decide who ends up with the bananas.

A good biz monkey is worth at least as much as a decent code monkey but a bad biz monkey and a decent code monkey won't do any good. Two sides of the same coin. I recently met a true hustler who I would totally do a completely secure, air tight partnership with as long as it had a shotgun clause.

Yes, you can't trust the good biz monkeys.

    Yes, you can't trust the good biz monkeys.
My experience as well. Sadly, the only really good biz person I know does not share the same values as me. Very intelligent and good at what they do, but they'd fuck you over in a second if that meant them "winning". Don't care for a second what business they're running, as long as it's a money-making business. Whereas I have to feel like I'm working on "important" problems, that person couldn't care less.

Pretty sure that person is sociopathic - at least borderline.

> Don't care for a second what business they're running, as long as it's a money-making business

Thank you, I think I needed to hear this. The person I'm talking to seems exactly like this. While I want to be working on important problems (hell if not important, atleast 'cool' ones), they just want a money making 'thing'.

I've been mulling for a while on how to go ahead with it, but this has made me more than certain our wavelengths do not match even though he's great at connections and selling hard.

My personal strategy is to acknowledge this type of person exists, and act accordingly. This means, unfortunately, not putting too much trust into that person in areas they don't deserve it. You need to evaluate carefully both of your interests. Any divergence is a weak point that could be used against you.

I know I can put my faith into that particular person for some specifics such as writing business research and collecting market data, for example. But I could not, for example, leave my computer unlocked with that person. Nor would I use their internet connection to do bank stuff. Nor would I discuss certain things in certain rooms of their house. Some things I'm paranoid for, others not. The point is, some people need to be kept in check ;)

Personally, I don't NEED to be working on "important" problems. I am usually aligned with them as far as it comes to making money. But really good biz monkeys understand leverage and are constantly seeking it, even with their partners. This can be toxic and a constant balancing act. I'd be willing to make less money if I could be confident that I'm not going to get my legs cut out from under me.

When the favorites feature was introduced this year, there was mention of maybe aggregating it to see which were the most favorited types of posts. I wonder if enough people have used it since? I use it and find it to be a great filter on top of what I normally upvote.

"RapGenius Growth Hack Exposed" basically solidified the effectiveness of using HN as a complaints forum: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6956658

Ask HN: Just got an innocent man out of prison. What now? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12010760

Aaron Swartz's initial appeal for help: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4529484

And the difficult discussion when someone pointed out that thread after his death: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5056279

I enjoyed this discussion on Margaret Hamilton, particularly because it for me epitomizes how anonymous the comments usually are. I remember reading Peter Norvig's comment about working with her and thinking, "Wow, this HN user must be pretty senior" before I looked at the username https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8735912

edit: In terms of recent, this discussion about "Strange bug workarounds" was just a day ago but had a lot of great laughs in it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12476855

There was first some drama when an earlier post was labeled "How Hacker News saved an innocent man from life in prison" (it got flagged for being an attention-seeking exaggeration). Then followed "I freed an innocent man from prison. Hacker News failed him." which wasn't well received (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11958567)

Google's long-game response to RapGenius: http://imgur.com/a/TLOuX

RapGenius (not genius) is more about the annotations than the actual lyrics.

I just finished reading that Ricky Jay story. Fantastic! I only knew his face from movies but never had a clue about his magic.

That time when John Nagle ("Animats") responded to a comment about Nagle's algorithm in TCP


( - "If I'd still been working on networking at the time, that never would have happened. But I was off doing stuff for a startup called Autodesk."

- "Are you John Nagle, or was that a quote?" )

Remembering, he's also the "little tin god" guy whenever a Python post comes up.

My YC app: Dropbox - Throw away your USB drive https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8863

"you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software."

Yeah... that would have been a lot easier than Dropbox!

That's funny...I always remember the response to the Dropbox post as "Why don't you just use rsync?". Which is something I actually do for things I don't want to put on Dropbox. Not sure how that FTP solution is manageable, though.

It's navigable on the web. Most browsers can navigate through an FTP server.

Ah, I guess I see Dropbox purely as a sync between my multiple computers. I almost never use the web interface. IIRC, Dropbox was announced mostly as a synced file server. It didn't have all of the features that I take for granted now, such as third-party interoperability and public-file sharing.

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

First thing I thought of.

This is great. The HN crowd amusingly isn't the audience most startups should cater to.

At the risk of being off-topic, I hate the fact that many modern entrepreneurs use the hilarious-in-hindsight comments on Dropbox's Show HN as an example on why startups should ignore criticism to be successful. Dropbox is the exception, not the rule. (Additionally, the demographics of HN today in 2016 are much, much different and more technically diverse than in 2007, so the irony would be less likely to be repeated)

I of course agree that you shouldn't ignore criticism. But that's not what quoting that comment is about.

That one particular dropbox comment exemplifies why a large portion of the tech crowd is generally clueless about UX, and about the impact of UX on a product.

It exemplifies why Linux is having such a hard time being relevant on the desktop. Why a technically-superior product will not necessarily win over a well-marketed one. Why ideas and implementations don't matter, execution is key.

It's beautiful and enraging at the same time.

A vocal percentage of the HN crowd assumes you are working on a personal machine with full admin rights, not behind any firewall, and that you have the expertise, spare time and patience to setup and maintain a system.

Ironically these criticisms are largely thrown at consumer apps, while server apps (eg third party monitoring and reporting) rarely cop it at the same level.

A recent example that comes to mind - I'm not affiliated and tbf plenty of comments point out valid use cases - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10289673

Not sure how it was received, but I could imagine Slack being mocked in a similar way by tech people for basically just being an IRC client.

I'm wondering if there's any correlation between idea "quality" and how far down the first supportive comment is or the ratio of positive to negative comments in general.

Here's updated link http://www.drop-dropbox.com/

  About five years ago I imported a kilo of "Neotame" sweetener from a chem factory in Shanghai...

Oh my, that is a great one! The pullout quote doesn't do it justice. Definitely recommend reading the whole thing. It's almost like a Carlos Castaneda story:

> ...a small cloud of powder erupted in front of me and a hazy layer of the stuff settled over the kitchen. Eyes burning and some mild choking from inhaling the cloud, I instantly marveled at how unbelievably sweet the air tasted, and it was delicious.

> ...about 12g of personal (somewhat heavy) usage for two people in that time. Probably nowhere near the LD50.

What a relief! It is probably unlikely to kill half your family.

> I'd sweeten my coffee with polonium-210 if it could be done in Neotame-like quantities.

My favorite is PG's request to limit the fluff and get back to technical discussions like posts about the "Innards of Erlang": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=512145

Which lead to the famous "Erlang Day", making the HN homepage look like this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stilist/3348380060/in/photostr...

Interestingly, this day is what personally introduced me to Erlang, and it's been my primary programming language since.

Brilliant! First good laugh I've had today - thanks for sharing :D

Is pg still active on HN? I can't remember seeing any comments by him in the past year or so...

PG doesn't appear to be active any longer (https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=pg). Looks like 2 comments in the last 2 years (and last post is almost a year ago).

First comment is wonderfully deadpan as well:

> Don't feel bad, you just fell into one of the common traps for first-timers in strong AI/ML. I know some lawyers in Silicon Valley with experience in this sort of thing, and they say that usually by now the code has rewritten itself so many times that the original creator can't even claim partial ownership;...

True -- very similar tone to the parent. conrad24 appears to have been a throwaway account, maybe bo1024 is the author of both?

In that case I'd vote to pardon the sockpuppeteer anyways. :-)

Ooh, forgot about that one.

This is the only HN comment I have bookmarked: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7932261

If we are into comments anyway, the "comeback of all times"[0] is a winner, a reminder to treat all those pseudonymous or even semi-anonymous handles carefully : )


This is my quad-yearly moment to hang my head in shame.

(and full props to @cperciva for being a good sport!)

Don't feel too bad.

I thought "Just the once, though, huh?" was a fantastic duck-and-cover when getting nuked from orbit. I laughed.


You're not reading enough posts these days. I think this I've seen your exchange with Colin referenced at least once a month for the last year.

Is that the rms responding a bit further down on that thread? Great comment either way:

> News.YC does flame wars a whole lot better than the rest of the internet...

This comment, from a parent to the one you have bookmarked, is something every startup should think about if they get traction and start to grow.

> you need to re-evaluate whether you are actually building a company 'culture', or just some random agglomeration of the personality traits of the company's earliest employees.

Am I stupid if I don't understand that post?

It's riffing on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cISYzA36-ZY&t=1m24s

(I "got" what the post was about but took a minute to dig up the actual scene, I didn't know what the item was in the movie)

Wow, that video also has one of the best comments I've seen:

> Slime green, Comic Sans, all caps. Oh my god, it even has clip-art.

Thank you for elaborating, makes sense now :D

Just press "parent" link a number of time and here it is with context:


No, there's zero context.

cperciva and dhouston were working on similar stuff at this time, they cross paths in the comments of the same thread:


I really enjoyed the comments in this thread from one of FedEx's first employees:


Thanks! I remember this now! That is one of the all-time great threads.

Not a post, but a comment.

I can't find it right now, but it lead me to purchase the book "Permutation City" which is now one of my favourite novels because of the way it comings CS, philosophy, and writing that isn't stilted like a lot of the stuff you find in this realm.

The reason I can't find the comment is that there are pages and pages of them that mention Permutation City on Google. See for yourself, Google:

permutation city site:ycombinator.com

> I can't find it right now, but it lead me to purchase the book "Permutation City" which is now one of my favourite novels because of the way it comings CS, philosophy, and writing that isn't stilted like a lot of the stuff you find in this realm.

If you haven't already, then don't wait to buy the rest of Greg Egan's œuvre. It was "Quarantine", a lovely plot but arguably one of his weakest stories, that got me into his work, and since then I've found no-one except possibly Ted Chiang (whose work is very different) who comes anywhere near him in the world of hard sci-fi. Almost everything of his is rewarding, and I believe a lot of it was relatively recently (within the last 5 years or so) released as e-books after a long period of unavailability. He also has generous excerpts from selected books and stories at his web-site, and—my favourite—proves his non-fiction science bona fides as a regular contributor on the n-category Café (https://golem.ph.utexas.edu/cgi-bin/MT-3.0/mt-search.cgi?Inc...).

Greg Egan and Iain M Banks don't seem to have equals. Greg's stuff is incredibly hard (in both ways: he says to use a pencil and paper while reading). Iain's stuff is ... uplifting, but still coherent. It's not hard, but it still feels coherent somehow (unlike some books that just start making up weird shit just to put the "fi" in scifi).

My first exposure to Banks was The Wasp Factory, which remains one of the only books that has ever literally nauseated me. It was excellent, but it's been hard for me to pick up another book of his since.

Oh, actually I did read The Business, which introduced me to the delightful question "how do you count to 1000 on your fingers?" (without using 'intermediate storage' like keeping track of 10's in your head). I still use that when teaching elementary number theory.

That means you are in the lucky situation of not having read Use of Weapons yet - I'm jealous. It really is very very good!

Is that your recommended entrée into the Culture universe?

No - definitely not. I would recommend publication order.

No, my advice would be to read the in order of publication.

I think that "The Wasp Factory" is by far his best book. Sometimes unsettling but a great short read.

Did you read Schild's Ladder? It's basically about quantum cellular automata consuming the galaxy.

I think that I have read everything pre-Orthogonal trilogy. (Nothing against the Orthogonal trilogy; I just haven't got to it yet.) If I recall correctly, Schild's Ladder was the first long one I read (after the short-story collection Axiomatic). I liked it a lot, although I think I preferred Distress.

I got into Greg Egan from a StackOverflow post somewhere, where one of the comments referenced Dark Integers.

I piled on along wfn's recommendation of the book here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7267811

The story (https://qntm.org/responsibility) was really fun, and there were good comments too. It's certainly one of my favorite HN posts.

Re: OQ, I don't have a single favorite, but I like whenever the hivemind hashes out what's going on with a big tech issue, like Facebook's post denying complicity in NSA spying.

Yeah, I stumbled upon Greg Egan too in one of the HN posts - I think it was about 'Best Science Fiction Books' or something.

I've never read anything like Greg Egan. While reading 'Diaspora' I could feel my skull expanding - he pushes you to think at a magnitude we're not used to. The last few chapters of Diaspora are something I often read myself to bed.

Could it be the top comment of this somewhat recent post?


It was this HN comment that prompted me to read it, fascinating book. The topic of the post, Boltzmann brain, is also well worth reading into.

Maybe not favorite but "most memorable": "CVE-2014-6271: Remote code execution through bash" [1]

The top comment when I first saw it was, "If you are responsible for the security of any system, this is your immediate, drop-everything priority." [2]

Shellshock just kept going, and going, and for days you didn't know what was coming next. I suppose it's unfair to real PTSD victims to say this, but sometimes I feel like I have a little PTSD from that incident. I can only imagine what people at the center of it were going through.

My favorite blow-by-blow account was David Wheeler's essay [3] [4].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8361574 [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8361871 [3] http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/shellshock.html [4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8428644

I enjoyed it because it was one of those times you realize none of us really know WTF we're doing. Everyone is just pretending they have a good understanding of how things work. Software is just too large to really understand how things are interconnected.

Using a throwaway for an obvious reason, but this post on how to fight debt collectors has literally saved me close to a $100K:


This is my favorite comment of all time, in reply to an, erm, prolific engineer. A great take-down of the cult of vain productivity: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8816010

I can't think of a favorite post... My fav comment was from a few years ago I think? And I can't remember everything, but one commentor said something like "You can't brag unless you won The Award" (the award being some bit deal contest or award. Was it math or programming?) and then the response was something like "Oh yeah, won that when I was 14" (sorry, wish I could remember the details, but the thread was funny)

The legendary "Did you win the Putnam" comeback.


This was the first I thought of too. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35079

"My Livecoding.tv account deletion saga", likely for different reasons than other examples in this thread (enable showdead before reading): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10486476

This isn't recent, but it is my favorite:


That's what I was going to say too, and that makes me the fourth person to say that was their favorite!

Bret Victor: Inventing on Principle (vimeo.com) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3591298

Alan Kay has agreed to do an AMA today https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11939851


> The feeling of having a genuinely clean butt gives you the confidence you need to go crush it in the boardroom.

I still laugh about this sometimes.

Have you read some of his other stuff? Like the legendary Alameda-Weekawken Burrito Tunnel?

>"How do you dry your ass off?"

>Wipe once with toilet paper and you're good to go. It's like the best of Eastern and Western civilization, coming together to clean your ass.

This is my current favourite:


Oh, that reminds me of my highest up voted post ever: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3742902 - but I didn't get any karma for it :(

I remember that, it was fun.

Dang it, Now I can't tail-call optimize.

A great overview on recursion!

Totally confused for a second or two. Such is recursion.

I refer to this one as DarkShikari's law: "Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe that they're in good company."


It explains the death of so many communities, and also sorta works for 4chan, despite the perpetual state of undeath that 4chan is in.

1. Ask HN: Urgent connection to Twitter support


The admin of an automated twitter feed alerting followers of rockets launched between Gaza and Israel appeals to HN for help getting in contact with someone at twitter who can relax rate limits on the account to prevent it from being suspended during a sharp escalation of conflict.

2. Einstein and the Great Fed Robbery


Research from nanex using the speed of light to prove that results from a Federal Reserve meeting were leaked early. Ultimately led to policy changes at the Fed.

* There's no speed limit. (The lessons that changed my life.) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=970945

* The Socratic Method: Teaching by Asking Instead of by Telling - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3578807

There's an HN feature for this! In the timestamp line under the title of your favorite story --- and, after clicking the timestamp, in the same place for comments --- click "favorite". HN will bookmark these stories for you, and let other people see them.

I don't have the posts handy, but I very much appreciate patio11 and tpacek's posts on how to bill for consulting. They helped me reduce a lot of stressful administrivia and increase income. One of the handful of times reading internet comments has measurably improved my quality of life.

After using HN search, I suspect you're referring to the comments in this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1679956

Postmodern comment:

My favorite HN post is now this one because it lets me amalgamate all the best posts that I missed.

This one - because it's now a meta aggregator of favorite links. Thanks!

Getting into a PhD program with a low GPA - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1072923

Hacker News Highlights, the Alan Kay edition: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11836832

Here are my (tagged) bookmarks, have fun:


Keep in mind that the timestamps are when the bookmark was created, not the timestamp of the page itself.

I use https://github.com/davidlazar/jotmuch

In pinboard.in[0] you can search for via:hn

(Happy user, otherwise unaffiliated.)

[0]:by our (more or less : ) own idlewords

Right around the time I started reading HN, someone found a timing attack against news.arc and posted a really interesting write up about it:


Bain's Law is a classic. Unfortunately, I don't have the link. The entire thread for SleepSort is great (just google it).

As for more recent stuff, I enjoyed the thread on QuakeWorld (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11934608) (full disclosure, I posted the article, and participated heavily in the thread). And just today, I saw QuineDB (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12492812).

Sorry I couldn't give you something better.

First employee of startup? You are probably getting screwed https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2949323

Some great anecdotes in the comments for Paul Ford's article The Sixth Stage of Grief is Retrocomputing

discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8565459

article: https://medium.com/message/networks-without-networks-7644933...


>. . . And yet: the money guys are offering money. Just swallow your pride, play "Stairway to Heaven"[1] at the wedding, and pretend you've never had crazy eyes when talking about homoiconicity, and the rent will be paid.

> [1]Nothing against the song.

"Running a Software Business on 5 Hours a Week"


Patrick talks about techniques he learned to streamline his business when selling Bingo Card Creator.

I don't know if this is the Raymond Panko, but if it is this is my favourite comment.


Favorite of all time I'm not sure but my favorite today is this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12498230

Simply beautiful!

A day in the life of a startup founder: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4166183

What's your favorite HN post? -https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12496558


I'm browsing from a dumb phone, so searching is too much work, but there was a guy who got into an argument with Colin Percival (spelling might be wrong), and the guy aske Colin a supposedly dismissite question along the lines of "Have you won (major math prize)?" As it happens, Colin had actually won the thing. That was amusing. In my mother tongue, we call such an event "being thrown back to the bottom of the gourd."

This one, of course. Bookmarked.

This may well get buried and I had to hunt for about 10 min to find it. This post from 3,127 days by fiaz is my all-time favorite HN comment. And I've read hundreds of thousands of comments.


> fiaz 3127 days ago | parent | favorite | on: Ask News.YC: How to re-motivate yourself?

APOLOGIES for making this post so annoyingly long, but I really hope you find value in the words below. -----------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm going to first share a personal experience from my early trading days to illustrate where I'm coming from. I used to wake up at 4:30 am everyday in the Chicago suburbs to beat rush hour traffic and make it into downtown Chicago at 6:30 am. In order to wake up so early, I fell into a habit of sleeping at 9:00 pm and like a robot waking up at 4:30 am. This simple routine was indirectly helpful when things seemed darkest.

For the first six months, I lost money and was ridiculed constantly by other traders who were more successful than me (which was about 20 other guys CONSTANTLY using me as a punching/whipping bag). The only thing that kept me going was the fact that some of the very same traders that would be making wise cracks at me for losing money were some of the most successful people I knew at the time. For better or worse, if I needed a trader to model myself after, it was the same people that were telling me how bad a trader I was - and although I was not open to really hear what they were saying, they were right about my skills in every way (but their feedback was always packaged in some sort of insult).

After racking up some rather hefty losses, I was determined to quit at one point during month four, but because I had a habit of waking up at 4:30 am I simply "forgot" that the night before I told myself I would quit and spare myself further humiliation...by then I was warned that I was now on the red list of traders ready to be cut. Also, my personal savings were starting to approach zero (the base "draw" for house traders was enough to pay for food; you usually make your money on a percentage of your profits, and I was deep in the red at the time).

To say the least, there were many excellent reasons to be "reasonable", forget about my dreams, and quit. After 4 consecutive "failures to quit", I realized that I didn't quit because somewhere deep down I was hanging on to a dream, however remote at that point: that I could somehow be as successful as the other traders that I knew. At the same time I realized that I had hit rock bottom in that I couldn't even succeed in failing! Very tough times indeed...

An interesting point to note here is that although my losses were starting to get very large, the people who were funding me as a trader kept me because I had one redeeming quality: EFFORT, and this helped build tenacity. Other traders who barely traded but had a fraction of my losses were cut much faster because they didn't put forth much effort. They were not willing to take losses and be bold/brave and fight it out; I was willing to take risks, and this saved me from getting cut faster than others.

Slowly I began to reinterpret the constant humiliation I was suffering: perhaps the other traders were right about their "jokes" and there might be something in what they are saying that will help me get out of the red. I also realized that since I had failed at quitting (which was now the ULTIMATE failure), there was no further failure for me and that if I took baby steps they were surely to succeed (this translated into taking smaller trades/profits).

Only after improving upon my abilities as a trader and channeling my energies appropriately did I succeed and earn everybody's respect as a trader (and you have no idea how this made me feel!). I quickly made enough in commissions to be trading my own account, and be successful as an independent trader onward. When I look back at those final months of 1999 (yeah that's right, I was losing huge cash at the end of 1999 when the entire market was going crazy UP!), there was more good than bad even when I was getting my ass handed to me. It's just that I was intentionally creating my own feedback (I'm right everybody else is wrong) instead of seeing the results I was getting (losses/insults) as feedback and information that would help me be successful.

I kind of snicker every time I see somebody ask for feedback on their startup on YC.News only to end up justifying themselves by telling everybody why they did what they did when they get negative feedback, which is the feedback of greatest value. If somebody tells you how crappy your idea is, thank them that they even spent a few brain cycles considering your idea.

The lessons I learned from this that are perhaps relevant to your questions:

- Determine if you believe in yourself to succeed as an individual (I know this sounds odd, but for a moment just examine your thought patterns and your actions and see what message you are sending to yourself; do you listen to the voice that says you can't or are you paying attention to the feedback from your efforts and the results you are getting?)

- Search deep down inside and see if the project you are working on is something you believe in or not. If you can't sell yourself, then you shouldn't bother trying any further...

- ANY attention you get for your efforts is good attention. If you get LOTS of negative feedback, then be grateful - you've jumped the first hurdle of getting people to give a damn about what you are doing! :)

- There is responsibility and accountability that goes with both success and failure. You need to be ready for both because they can be equally painful in equal ways. The amount of accountability that comes with success can be more unbearable than the accountability that accompanies failure. I personally know of some very talented people who enjoyed phenomenal initial success only to find just as fast that they were in over their heads.

- The more you resist the possibility of failure then you are less likely to recognize possibilities that will help you succeed. If you are afraid to fail, then most certainly you are afraid to succeed. This sounds counterintuitive but it's based upon the fact that fear makes your mind less supple and less responsive to the changes that will push you out of the game - or conversely it will lessen the impulse to jump on the opportunities you need to succeed.

- The results you get has everything to do with your users/market and less to do with you as an individual; it's sometimes hard to separate these two. See the other side of the equation and what side you are on before trying to solve it. Don't ever think you are above the feedback of your users...EVER!

- Don't have expectations (this is just setting yourself up for failure). Because you are starting out you may not know what is best to help you succeed - ESPECIALLY if you're lacking motivation. Keep in mind that whatever results you get from your efforts will lead to more possibilities (in the form of additional information).

- Have some behavioral "context" within which to exercise discipline and structure. Seek to grow your efforts within this context. My context was my sleep schedule. It was a routine that was so ingrained that my drive had a laser focus. This might not work for some, but it worked for me.

Finally, I will add that in my opinion failing hard and fast is MUCH better than failing slowly. The faster you know for certain something isn't going to work out, the sooner you can cut your losses and move on to your next idea. When you eventually succeed, you will look back at all the times you were quick to cut your losses and get to where you are...


Please do NOT contact me asking for advice in trading/investing. This is a VERY personal thing, and it has everything to do with who you are, NOT with how much information you have, or which tools you use, or who you know.


Dear Lumber yard 1 point by daniel-cussen 3348 days ago | hide | past | web | 1 comment | favorite | yes | maybe | no

Dear Sirs,

I write to solicit; we sell termites. We provide termite adoption services for lumberyards.

While termite adoption may sound terrible at first blush, we believe it to be adviseable. The termites can dispose of wracked beams without requiring burning. The termites can also eliminate small pieces of discarded wood, and partly take care of cleaning the sawing site in your stead. They can also easily consume stockpiles that are no longer useful. This may be especially valuable in sight of the housing downturn in your area and subsequent inventory surpluses you may be dealing with. Any surplus inventory you give to the termites will largely be metabolized by the termites, and therefore decrease in volume. From a practical point of view, a termite nest can perform in your lumber yard the task it performs in nature; that of a recycler. At this point you can exploint the large amount of fertilizer left over and sell it.

You are in a position at which you can begin to sell natural fertilizer easily. Consumers relate your core business to fixing homes. You provide beams for home improvement purposes, and while that segment of the housing market is falling, the gardening market is holding up because desperate sellers will try to improve the curb appeal of their house in order to finally sell their house. This means home sellers are improving their gardens, which involves the use of fertilizer. As the housing downturn has affected your core business for the worse, why not hedge these losses by entering the fertilizer market?

Not only will termites reduce costs and expand your business, they will also provide excellent public relations. Ecology is in these days; Whole Foods can charge about twice the usual price for its products solely because they are organic. This despite any evidence the food the sell is actually better in any way. Many consumers may want to reduce their carbon footprint. By buying your fertilizer, they effectively stop about half of the carbon in a plank from reaching the atmosphere. This will provide cheap and novel marketing for both your core business and your fertilizer business.

We'll be the first to acknowledge that termites pose a serious risk to wood. They can devastate a home if left unattended for a few years. A simple "moat" around the termite's designated space will be able to effectively stop the termites from harming the good wood. In doing so, you will showcase your expertise in handling lumber and the confidence you have in your abilities. You may be able to sell termite control sprays in the process.

At Intermite, we believe adopting a nest will be an excellent way to help your core lumber business. For an up-front set-up fee of $449.00, we offer the delivery and installation and setup of a termite nest in your lumberyard.

A nest costs $450.00 plus tax. This fee includes includes delivery and installation. We offer related products such as custom fertilizer bags,

Regards, Intermite

This post is my favourite HN post.

This one.

I don't have a link but: "I'll often drop down to node.js if I really need to be close to the metal" is one of my favorites.

Couldn't tell you. Can't search.

This one. //infinite loop

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