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Ask HN: Have any side projects from Show HN gone big?
247 points by farm_code on Dec 5, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 166 comments
Any side projects from Show HN went big in terms of users, revenue or open source etc...

I did not put "Show HN" in the title when I posted Redis here, but an HN post was the first announcement I did.

You probably get this a lot, but I'm going to say it anyway - Thank you for redis, it's an amazing bit of software and I use it in virtually every project.

Not only is it useful, but the source code is pure poetry to read.

Thank you again

Wow I like your POV about things. Ok seriously, thanks a lot, it's great to do something that can be useful. Thanks for using it.

Just to pile on the praise, I've learned more about the C language reading Redis' source code than I've learned from two books, a university course, and dozens of blog posts combined. Keep doing what you're doing, it is an inspiration.

OMG that's awesome. And a bit surprising since Redis internals could be much much better, if we only could care a bit less about memory / CPU / copy-on-write issues, and... a bit more time :-)

Redis is awesome, thanks and now seeing all this praise I'm going to have to go and check out the source code!

I want to second your thanks.

Redis itself is great, but the fact that it keeps getting better is what truly amazes me. There have been features added that I never though I would use, that I find myself building into and on top of later.

As someone who created & maintains an open source project (not nearly as important or popular as redis), thank you for your comment. You'd be surprised how few compliments people get on OSS projects (it seems to be roughly one heartfelt, sincere comment per 20,000 users in my case) and they just make you feel amazing. Seriously, the last one I had made my week.

I just read the about page. Could you help me understand a little more about how it works? It seems like a tool that could replace sessions and cookies, and possibly a browser-based database?

My current project is a tournament-scoring app where I'm using cookies to hold match scores, so that the score won't be lost if the page is refreshed before the match is over and saved to the database. Would redis be appropriate in that context?

I'm not associated with redis, but I do use it daily. It's basically just a really good in memory db. You can use it for almost anything, from job queues, to message brokering, to session storage. Check out the different language clients, find you language of choice and read about how to fire it up and try it out https://redis.io/clients.

I love redis but I would recommend message brokering be done by something built specifically for the task, like rabbit-mq.

Well, yeah of course.

For example Celery supports a large number of message brokers, and a lot of people inexperienced with message passing etc. will use Redis as a broker because they already are familiar with it and running it in production. I myself made that mistake, and have since gotten much better results with the aforementioned change. So while it should seem obvious, theirs a lot of places where it is still accidentally done.

Redis is great for server-side caching to recall data that you normally get from a database often.

If you need client side storage, try jedis (a redis fork in javascript) or lokijs or pouchdb which are all client-side databases.

There's a javascript Redis fork called Jedis? That's extremely confusing as jedis is a common Java Redis client library...

It would be for keeping cookies, sessions and ranks there. I am doing exactly that with Redis and it's ultra fast and easy. Redis has special data structure for what you want to do, it's sorted set, check it out


Thanks for Redis & Load81! And indeed, the source code for Redis is excellent; learnt a lot from read it.

Grazie mille

I was working as a corporate lawyer, and I posted a Show HN [1] before going to lunch one day. I came back and it was at #1, and it stayed there for over 12 hours. This led to a feature in Fast Company [2] and press in over 20 different languages. After winning a couple startup competitions, I quit my day job and now do BeeLine Reader [3] full-time.

We have 70k users on our first-party tools, plus many more on our licensed products. Our tech is licensed by the CA Public Libraries, CNET, Bookshare, and others. Our funding comes from the Intel Edu Accelerator (ICAP) as well as various awards for education and social-impact entrepreneurship [4].

I really appreciate the feedback from the community, which helped me understand what the market opportunity was and what our customer segments are (didn't realize how big edu would be).

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6335784

2: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3018118/can-colored-text-turn-yo...

3: http://www.beelinereader.com

4: see https://stanfordbases.wordpress.com/tag/beeline-reader/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T9g4uy60oc

[updated to add press and award links]

1. Took the test. 2. Was impressed 3. Thought to test for a while 4. Installed Chrome plugin 5. Opened facebook for some random reason 6. Page flickering!? Facebook bug? 7. Scrolled 2 times 8. Got smashed in the face by a full-page ad from Beelinereader 9. Removed plugin and will probably never install again

You really caught me. This is something I could pay for after trying out for a while. Do yourself a favour for christmas and investigate if there is any other way than smashing just recently onboarded users with an ad to raise the awareness of the fact that this is not free.

Thanks though, really, impressive tech.

We're in the middle of completely replacing our UI/UX. Last month we finally got our preferences in the right place (within the B icon instead of in a gear that floats on top of every page), and we're re-doing the onboarding. Now that we've figured out how to get things popping down from the B icon, we won't be taking up the full page anymore.

And just FYI, we don't bombard users with messages all the time—you saw the instructions and upgrade option, and there is only one other message we show this way, which is after the 30-day free trial expires. We know our UI sucks on this, which is why we don't use it to send messages or upsell all the time. Appreciate the feedback, and hope you'll try us again on Chrome, iOS, or Android (which is free, BTW).

Tried this and it looked really interesting, but I didn't keep it because there was no Android support. Do you have an android version yet?

I remember it styled links as well as body text which I found pretty annoying.

We do! Our Firefox/Fennec plugin is now available [1] and is free. It's not quite as polished as iOS, since it's our first version.

There's also an epub reader that has integrated BeeLine into their app. It's called ReadMe! [2] and it works with any DRM-free epubs. It's available on Android/iOS.

We do color all body text, including links. To make it clear what is a link, we always underline them. If we reverted links to a fixed color, it would be very distracting—if you've got another idea (or if I'm misunderstanding the question) let me know!

1: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/android/addon/beeline-reade...

2: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.readmei.re...

Neat, I'll give them a go and take another look. It'll take a miracle to get me off MoonReaderPro though!

I can't remember why it bugged me that links were being styled too, just that I was. So I'll drop something in the forum or whatever after I've had another go! :)

we'd love to work with MoonReader also!

I'll drop him a mail to suggest the feature. Might need a lot suggesting with the amount downloaded the app!

He's at moondownload.com if you want to start talking - it gets an amazing amount of updates for an app I thought feature complete about 4 years ago!

I remember this when it happened - and forgot about it... I just took the challenge and love it. Installed. Thank you

Awesome! When we did the Show HN post we only had a lowly bookmarklet, so it was easy to forget. There's now a full-fledged browser plugin, PDF plugin, iOS app, and Android (Firefox) plugin. Our most popular tool, the Chrome extension, will be getting a big update in the next couple weeks, which will enable it to run on many, many more websites automatically. Stay tuned!

I wish Amazon would add something like this to the e-ink Kindles.

yep, it could be done in grayscale, or they could use color e-ink (which exists but hasn't been adopted because it isn't good enough for image reproduction or fast enough for video).

In the meantime, our iPad app [1] and browser plugins [2] integrate with the Kindle Cloud Reader.

1: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beeline-reader/id938026867?m...

2: http://www.beelinereader.com/install

Amazing. This comment must compare to the famous Slashdot takedown of the iPod.

"For a Linux user, 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. "

(Not meant as criticism; we're all horribly naive in hindsight.)

No, I think we could have dismissed that one as ridiculous even back at the time.

What power users need to always remember is how important usability by the uninitiated is when adopting solutions. This is why the market for security products is such a problem - they nearly always necessarily either put a barrier in front of common operations, or expose the user to the risk of losing their data by error, or hand all the difficult bits over to a commercial third party.

It's not amazing at all :) I still struggle to find a reason why should I use dropbox over ftp or any other file repository service. I guess marketing and creating artificial buzz played big role in their success.

I get that many techies can live without Dropbox and it's ilk (myself included), but NOBODY should ever be advocating FTP. It's insure (no encryption - unless you're talking about FTP(E)S, but that introduces it's own issues), it's broken by design (no clear client/server relationship which can cause issues for NATing and filewalls (particularly if running with TLS), output specs depend on the host OS (eg directory listings), no automatic way of differentiating between text and binary data so modern FTP clients have to guess from file extensions (picking the wrong mode will break your files)). ?FTP is outdated - from a bygone era we no longer compute in and thus by modern standard it's become horrible in every conceivable way.

Thankfully we have SFTP which natively supports chroot (not all FTP servers do), key-based logins (more secure) as well as passwords, compression, and no fuzzy callback ports like in FTP. Also sshfs is pretty handy too.

If one needs "anonymous FTP" then you can also throw HTTPS into the list of better solutions: TLS encryption, compression, smarter handling of MIME types, and again no stupid fuzzy callback ports.

I don't often say things this strongly, but FTP should die.

FTP needs no defending -- it was really useful in 1979, but times have changed (e.g. I suspect every machine on the Internet uses an 8-bit byte). One point you wrote surprised me though:

> no clear client/server relationship which can cause issues for NATing and filewalls (particularly if running with TLS)

Really, crocks like NAT and stateful firewalls should die. Layers 4 and below are inherently peer-peer -- the net should not treat endpoints differently (i.e. should not privilege some over others). That simply encourages a "client" or "consumer" mentality in both the technical and social senses.

The thing is while NAT is horrible for what you're saying, it probably did more to improve security than anything else, which wasn't it's primary goal.

I remember what the internet was like when ADSL/cable models first came along. Everyone was getting pwned none stop. Any RCE could easily be applied by scanning a consumers DSL/cable IP pool and you'd be able to hit a very high %age of them.

NAT totally stopped this.

It was the firewalling that stopped those attacks. Granted you could argue that the firewalls only came popular in households because routers were shipped to address a need for NATing but pragmatically we really should have been installing firewalls on our PCs in the pre-router days of the internet.

> The thing is while NAT is horrible for what you're saying, it probably did more to improve security than anything else, which wasn't it's primary goal.

Are you defending NAT? It sounds like a Vietnam era construction: you had to destroy the Internet in order to save it.

We now have a seemingly entrenched tree-structured (i.e. centralized) network again, the very 1960s architecture we tried so hard to get away from.

... and yet billions (?) of dollars are moved around every day using this technology "from a bygone era" (transferring CSV files for ACH transfers, etc.).

I'm not a big fan of FTP and hardly ever use it any more, but it does what it was designed to do and still manages to work pretty well considering how much everything else around it has changed.

Have you seen the list of requirements used for FTPing ACH transfers? It uses TLS (something that isn't part of the original FTP specification - what little of one there was) to transfer PGP encrypted files (something that wasn't even invented when the FTP specification was written) and even with all these extra steps put in there's still a lot of ways the process can easily fall apart. I've spent enough time building systems that interact with these kinds of banking systems to know that using FTP isn't doing themselves any favours. In fact the whole process of working with ACH files is a complete mess and saying ACH still uses FTP doesn't really improve the validity of FTP - it just demonstrates more technology that really should have been depreciated before now.

I'm not the sort of person who advocates new technology for the sake of new technology. I normally get annoyed at the constant reinvention of wheel however some older tech is just bad and FTP is one of those. It got the job done when it was first written but it made a bunch of mistakes along the way. Mistakes we've learned from and have since written a thousand better transfer protocols. So it's about time people laid FTP to rest.

It will when windows file explorer will support sftp out of the box

I gladly pay $100/year to never ever ever EVER have to hear my wife complaining about me losing the pictures of us and the kids. You can't put a price on that my friend. :)

Same reason I pay for iCloud storage on our family account. Peace of mind.

Could I wire up some rsync contraption, sure maybe - would I sleep peacefully? No.

Funnily enough, I wrote a "one-way sync your OneDrive to external disk" tool for my wife to avoid the opposite problem: loss of data due to failures of the paid-for sync solution.

I agree. Having them take care of backups has a lot of worth in my book also

Google photos is better for that.

I don't fully understand the underlying cause, so take this with a pinch of salt... but my girlfriend's father's photo collection almost got wiped out by Google Photos.

After being locked out of his Samsung tablet (supposedly it set itself a lockscreen out of the blue), I checked whether it had backed his photos up on Google Photos, but nothing there... After resetting it (it seems Samsung removed the ability to reset the lockscreen password via your Google account) I assumed that the photos were lost. However upon opening the app we rejoiced when they started appearing. Shortly afterwards, the Google Photos app popped up a message stating that an upgrade was required, after which all of the photos had disappeared again.

The workaround was to reset the tablet, open up Google Photos, wait until the photos had synced and then disconnect from the internet as soon as possible to prevent Google Photos from trying to update itself (the message couldn't be dismissed). My hunch was that the version of Google Photos that shipped with the tablet was very old and they have long-since updated the format for storing photos, hence why they wouldn't show up online?

Methinks you could definitely get in touch with Google about this.

Product support may well actually do what it's supposed to do...

Alternatively, keep the tablet on cotton wool until you see someone mention in here they're from Google, check their profile for contact info and email them directly. Keep doing this until you get a reply back, and get them to poke your issue over to the right department. :P

> get in touch with Google about this


Why didn't you just log into his account on the web and click on photos?

I did. I got a couple of random low-res thumbnails (they were just generic enough that I wasn't sure if they were actually original photos, or Google samples), and that was it – the rest were mysteriously missing.

They were clearly there on the server somewhere, but something was causing them not to be shown on the web, or the latest version of the Google Photos app.

Sure, but I've read a story like this about about pretty much every company. In our house we have our photos in 3 places: the device, remote backup, and local offline backup (external hard drive). 2 is easy, 3 takes a little bit of a routine.

Right, it's why I don't trust these services myself. To be fair, while I say that Google Photos almost wiped his photo collection out, we didn't actually realise that sync had been enabled in the first place. I guess in a funny kind of way it saved his photo collection (otherwise it would have been toast when we reset the device to get past the lock), even if it did make it painstakingly frustrating to retrieve them again.

But one has to make sure they subscribe to the paid plan, because Google offers free unlimited storage only if you let them resize/compress the photos. Which is something I refuse.

Anyway, Dropbox wins on the OS-level integration, which also doubles as a bullshit- and hassle-free way to transfer files between your devices.

But well, at this point I'm a paying customer of both Dropbox and Google because I run out of free-tier storage on both :).

My sister refuses to receives photos by Dropbox because, she says, it's less usable than WeTransfer and it looks like a virus to her. When sitting with her, I noticed:

- Dropbox aggressively suggests to create a new account to recipients,

- She's unknowledgable, so when a popup appears, she assumes it's mandatory. Hence she installed Dropbox without wanting it on her phone and PC and couldn't understand why so many steps are required to download a few photos. Also, "why does it try to upload all my folders ?!?" hence the spammy/virus impression.

- Dropbox sends an Android notification for every upload, which is both annoying and worrying to her, because she doesn't want her private life to go online.

I always assumed the mass went with Dropbox. Turns out the first example I see from that audience thinks it's a virus. Big lesson of user experience here.

I can imagine. My use patterns mostly let me avoid this, but I've seen some of the stuff you've described.

It seems that any good business, in its quest to grow, will eventually start making annoying and user-hostile things. Dropbox definitely was cleaner and better in the past than it is now. It's a story I repeated by company after company - they reach peak quality, and instead of leaving things as they are, they have to "innovate" in more and more crap.

I'm one of the earlier users of Dropbox, so I still have a "Public" folder with an ability to create direct links to uploaded files. They've turned this feature off for new accounts some time ago - I guess because people started using Dropbox as a CDN. Still, it's one of its most useful features for me. I use the "Public" folder almost every time I want to transfer some files people - it lets the recipient avoid all that popups and captive forms bullshit.

I have 1/2 TB of pictures kids pic, videos from cell phone, SLR etc backup to multiple HDD. If everyone put 1/2 TB or more to google, can google backend really handle that, if so for how long?

Also need to consider how long it will take me to download back those pic once they decide to shutdown the "free" service.

> If everyone put 1/2 TB or more to google, can google backend really handle that, if so for how long?

Not everyone is going to do that though (anytime soon anyway) so that's not a real concern. It's like asking when gmail first launched "okay but what if EVERYONE uses the full gigabyte?"

I'll answer in reverse order:

> Also need to consider how long it will take me to download back those pic once they decide to shutdown the "free" service.

This is an incredibly good point, both in terms of bandwidth considerations (particularly their ratelimiting) and in terms of products randomly disappearing with limited takeout windows.

FWIW, https://get.google.com/albumarchive/<G+ UID> will net you takeout archives of your image albums. Incidentally this works with any Google account that doesn't have public photo access turned off, and is rather fun to play with (as is the site: search operator :D)


> can google backend really handle that, if so for how long?

YouTube used to officially report that 300 hours are uploaded per minute, back in 2014. http://tubularinsights.com/hours-minute-uploaded-youtube/ says we're likely at 700hr/min now.

OK. (Been wanting to do this math for a while, actually...) Let's see. This is all back-of-the-envelope and I wouldn't mind some more concrete numbers to work with!

YT reencodes all videos into several formats.

I'm looking at http://youtu.be/1tQ5XwvjPmA, which is 1:20:58 long. It was uploaded fairly recently so has the full complement of encodings. I see:

- 5 DASH audio bitrates: 51k (27.53MB), 66k (31.93MB), and 120k (58.02MB) for clients that can decode OPUS, 89k Vorbis (46.67MB), and 132k M4A (73.16MB)

- 6 DASH video sizes in both WebM/MP4 (so 12 total formats): 256x144 (43.09MB / 63.54MB); 426x240 (39.79MB / 140.34MB); 640x360 (71.80MB / 122.65MB); 854x480 (118.37MB / 266.00MB); 1280x720 (234.63MB / 548.81MB); and 1920x1080 (463.04MB / 1.05GB). (Yes, WebM is amazing compared to MP4.)

- Three legacy video formats: 176x144 3GP (39.51MB), 320x180 3GP (116.05MB), 640x360 WebM (211.30MB), 640x360 MP4 (205.97MB), and 1280x720 MP4 (621.68MB).

So, for this standard, 30fps 1080p video, YouTube is actually storing... 4.51GB of data. Huh! Nice.

If this video is 1h20m, 1-(60/80) means I should subtract 25% from 4.51, and I get 3.38GB for one hour of video.

OK. Taking that figure of 700 hours... that's 2366GB (2.31TB) per minute :)

In other words YouTube needs to find disk capacity for 39.42GB of data every second.

I'm not sure how to multiply by an increasing gradient with a back-of-the-envelope calculation, so I'll punt and pretend it was 700 hours/min all the way back to 2014, so the past 2 years. Quite inaccurate, but possibly still interesting:

(2.31 * (1024^4)) * 12 * 365 * 2 = 22249277495024025.60

Uhh.... that's... ah. 22PB. Err, 19.76PB to be precise.

This is for the boring 30fps-and-under 1080p videos out there. Not the 60fps, 2K/4K/8K (!), 360° and similar stuff, and there's an increasing pile of that being uploaded.

22 PB = total Youtube data need for last two year.

1/2 TB per user (like me)

22PB = 44,000 users.

Google need 1000 times that space in their data centers to handle 44 million users.

Also, I might think those 1/2 TB of data are very valuable, But only a few of them are interesting to a few of my friends, family members. They are probably very hard to monetize. Even for myself, I only browse them may a few times every a few years.

If I am a PM for such product and try to propose to Alphabet to build 1000 new youtube size data center to handle only 44 millions users, I would have hard time to justify it.

FWIW, I'm not familiar with how and where the Internet Archive gets their funding, but in 2014 they had 50PB of storage (https://archive.org/web/petabox.php). So IA can manage 50PB as a small-to-medium private company. (Incidentally they've been running since '99.)

As for BackBlaze, also a medium-large business, they're now storing... https://www.backblaze.com/blog/200-petabytes-of-customer-dat...

Both IA and BackBlaze are private/nontraded, which means have they have lower operating capital. Diskspace is simply not that expensive now.

There's a guy on a DC++ filesharing server (find a server list - it's one of the biggest ones) who has been sharing 400TB of data for some time. Speaking of DC++, most newer clients show the total shared data for all users connected to the server you're on, and that number on some of those larger servers is usually 1-2PB.

I also saw a guy on reddit a while back who was in exactly the right place at the right time when his workplace was upgrading, and he now has a nice $200/mo electricity bill in the form of, you guessed it, 400TB of diskspace. I'm not sure if he got it all for free, but I think he may have.

So it's not a money problem; it's a space problem and a power problem. This is why flash storage is so interesting, it generates less heat and can be packed somewhat more densely, and it uses less power too. Once Flash-vs-platter hits the 49%/51% in terms of relative cost things are going to get interesting.

At the moment the major retailers are just doing simple things like firmware customizations to run their disks at lower speeds (for nearline storage) or start up with the disk off and stuff like that. Facebook's cold storage datacenters also use Reed-Solomon encoding instead of RAID/ZFS for redundancy at less used space.

I actually do think Google have actually done the kinds of allocations you speak of, using thin provisioning; after all, literally every new Google account gets 15GB of diskspace! And then there's sync profile data, whatever internal metadata is associated with the account (such as your search history), etc, that needs to be stored too.

I fully believe Google have multiple exabyte-scale datacenters. If they don't I'll be genuinely surprised.

Using thin provisioning (which is ultimately just "how much are they really using, and how can we encourage them not to use more than X") is how they manage it.

So you're right - actually provisioning enough free storage for these users would definitely be an unpleasant task. But they carefully balance what everyone uses with what they have available.

This kind of high quality, high effort comment is why I love this site so much. Thanks for crunching the numbers and making me drop my jaw at the amount of data.

Just upvoting you doesn't suffice today.

Or to look at it another way, not even 20% of a single AWS snowmobile: https://aws.amazon.com/snowmobile/

Of course, they presumably need to duplicate it for redundancy too, so maybe a full 2/3s of one!

So long as Google decides to keep the service operating, maybe.

Yes, but Dropbox isn't even profitable yet.

Every time this topic comes up, which is reasonably often, I like to link to this: http://www.michaelrwolfe.com/2013/10/19/why-is-dropbox-more-...

Which is funny because 'a folder, that syncs' is what the Windows 95 briefcase was for.

It was nice. And they ditched it for Offline Folders, which was "a folder that syncs, until it breaks all the time".

And in the meantime, here's Joel Spolsky in 2008:

“Imagine all your devices—PCs, and soon Macs and mobile phones—working together to give you anywhere access to the information you care about.” And what is this Windows Live Mesh? It’s a way to synchronize files.

Jeez, we’ve had that forever. When did the first sync web sites start coming out? 1999? There were a million versions. xdrive, mydrive, idrive, youdrive, wealldrive for ice cream. Nobody cared then and nobody cares now, because synchronizing files is just not a killer application. I’m sorry. It seems like it should be. But it’s not. Damn, they just finished building something called Windows Live FolderShare and I haven’t exactly noticed a stampede to that. I’ll bet you’ve never even heard of it. [..] this so called synchronization problem is just not an actual problem, it’s a fun programming exercise that you’re doing because it’s just hard enough to be interesting but not so hard that you can’t figure it out.


And now Microsoft is ditching Offline Folders which break a lot, for Work Folders - folders that sync over HTTPS, without a local hidden cache.

Also, I don't remember names, but there were similar 3rd party paid services in late 90s - and they also had virtual disks integrated in Windows.

>ftp or any other file repository service

Dropbox is a success because millions of people don't know the meaning of the words you just wrote. This is even hinted at int he application itself: "Dropbox is kind of like taking the best elements of subversion, trac and rsync and making them "just work" for the average individual or team."

Explain FTP to your mom and see how long it takes them to figure out how to do it. Also how can you FTP from an iPhone? How do you have local copies on multiple device stay in sync? How do you share a link to your file to a third party?

I'm talking about normal people and not experienced engineers.

I did, and dad uses this to share files with friends, privately (I had eventually built a tiny Flask app that does access checks and serves same files over HTTP). It's just a network-connected external drive to him.

Maybe you can't, and that's fine. For me, being able to work on stuff on one machine, then jump over to another one of my machines and it's just there is hugely valuable. The backup element is kinda secondary but nice to have.

This is exactly why I use Dropbox. Backing up, sharing files with others may one day be handy sure.

Having files on all of my devices without the effort is why I pay them whatever their monthly fee is.

Comfort. The reason is comfort.

Dropbox replaced USB sticks for transporting miscellanious files for me. The less I need to do my own admin stuff the better (it's not productive, and it's not my core competence).

The point being most users are not power users. They just want stuff that they can get to work in 5 mins after a quick download. That's what a lot of geeks that have geeky solutions don't get. No one wants to do anything, they just want their cake for free preferably and they will pay money to eat it.

I am a power user and I still want the 5 minutes after a quick download, the two aren't exclusive and there is too much (IMO) pride in the 'this is difficult to use so I'm special for knowing how to use it'.

I spend way too much time bashing heads with the rest of the software ecosystem these days.

Heck I'm an engineer and I wouldn't want to setup a SFTP server to replace my Google Drive account

The Slashdot takedown wasn't naivety, it was CmdrTaco's honest opinion of the iPod. It's absurd the way he's portrayed to be making some sort of market prediction.


On the other hand this comment from the same thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8917

> My suggestion is to drop the "Throw away your USB drive" tag line and use something else

Heh. I started using Dropbox much later than this tagline and the first thing I did after installing was to stop using USB drives.

Good example, though aren't Show HN posts usually non-YCs?

I believe the post was prior to Dropbox doing YC.

The title of the post says My YC app: Dropbox - Throw away your USB drive ...

> 3. It does not seem very "viral" or income-generating. I know this is premature at this point, but without charging users for the service, is it reasonable to expect to make money off of this?

Somewhat related, it wasn't Show HN but show YC that turned my side-project into a business. YC's Application has the question "what have you hacked that wasn't a computer". That question compelled me to create a hack that converted a cheap ($10 in some cases) bluetooth headset into a garage door opener compatible with any smartphone. It didn't even require an App. I posted a Youtube video and then submitted my eventually rejected YC application. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cAtso2tzMo

So many people watched that video they started asking me to sell the fully assembled project. Soon a polite C & D -ish letter from Samsung forced me to stop selling until I made my own hardware which I did in November of 2014.

5 years later I still have growth and sales. Next year I hope to make an enterprise version that would allow shipping companies to leave packages in your garage when you aren't home. I'll be sure to post that on Show HN. Regardless I owe YC a lot of gratitude as just the process of applying changed my life.

> ... would allow shipping companies to leave packages in your garage when you aren't home.

I wouldn't expect them to actually do that. Between the girlfriend and myself, we get a lot of packages. They usually leave them by the garage door because it's easier / closer. We've told them before they can leave them inside the (unlocked) garage but the general response is "we can't".

Agreed. I'll focus on smaller delivery companies and services at first that have a direct relationship with their customers.

Long term it isn't clear how to initiate a relationship with the largest shippers. It's possible I'll spend years calling into those accounts with nothing to show for it.

I've usually found it more effective to go to a tradeshow where they might show up. They're usually in an exploring and deal making mentality at the shows, and usually at least one senior person is present. A lot of deals get started at tradeshows.

This isn't exactly a software project, but I posted in a "What are you working on?" thread three years ago about my book, Statistics Done Wrong: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6619796

Someone posted it on the front page soon after: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6675843

Now it's a book published by No Starch, has sold 25,000 copies, and has been translated into German, Korean, and Chinese: https://www.statisticsdonewrong.com/

I doubt I would have finished as soon as I did without that initial attention to spur me on, and wouldn't have been able to wrangle up as much attention without that chance post on HN blowing up and bringing me visitors. (It ended up posted on Boing Boing, Metafilter, and various other places too.)

Now I'm a year or two from finishing a PhD in statistics and wondering if there's another book I need to write, or perhaps a second edition -- doing actual statistical work with real scientists makes the points in my book even more clear to me, and the need even clearer.

Looks like a great book! I think I'll have to buy a copy.

It's interesting that you found the attention the HN post brought helped you focus and finish the book.

Lately, I've been trying to pay more attention to the Show HN section of the site, giving upvotes to interesting projects and commenting or asking questions where I can.

I think that lots of us here could improve the HN community by giving more attention to Show HN posts, even for projects that seem easy or mundane to those of us who have been developers for a while.

The simpler projects might be the ones where encouragement helps the most. Without that kind of encouragement from more experienced developers 7 years ago, I probably wouldn't have a software career right now at all.

I did a Show HN for Resumonk back in 2012: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3934370

I was in college then and found making a well-formatted resume a huge pain when I was applying for internships. I met my Co-Founder also via that particular post and went full time on it after passing out of college.

We are bootstrapped, pay ourselves well and work remotely. Not sure if that qualifies as a 'big' success, but we receive these kind of comments from our users that make us super happy - https://www.resumonk.com/testimonials

Related discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12030863

I did a Show HN for Roll20 right after launching: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4532754

We now have almost 2 million users and a small team working on it full-time. I definitely originally thought it would only be a side project...

I just sent that link to a dozen people and am already trying to get my scattered-over-the-globe circle of high school friends to agree to a reunion of our Shadowrun group.

Hadn't heard of your site so far. Cannot believe it. Thank you so much!

Aw maaaan... I really hope one day I actually get to play a (pen-and-paper) game of Shadowrun. I can't believe it's been so long and it's still never happened X-)

Most comic book and games stores have boards where you can search for groups. Craigslist maybe too? It's not such an uncommon hobby and if you find no group to join you could always start your own!

Go for it. It's such fun.

As an avid D&Der thank you for roll20. I'm a designer and there is probably a lot that I would like to clean up UX wise, but it's invaluable in many ways. I love so much that it exists.

I love roll20! You've created a phenomenal product


Hey, pretty neat idea. These screenshots look impressive.

Thank you.

Moqups: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4222992

We're still bootstrapped and fairly small (< 25 employees including the founders). We've grown organically to about 1 million users since then. The feedback we've got on our submission back then gave us enough courage to go from just a pet side-project to a full time business, so Big Thanks HN! That day was one of the happiest days in the history of our business.

We really like using Moqups here. We've architected, wireframed, and sold some big projects because of it. :)

Thanks for letting us know! We're happy to hear that.

We've changed the product quite a bit in response to the huge projects that our users create on our design platform. Nevertheless, we've also faced quite a few engineering issues in respect to browser performance and real time backend data synchronization.

Its a wonderful tool! If you could shed some light on the stack used in the editor.

Thanks! It's mostly vanilla JS and the Ractive framework for the editor UI.

I'm so happy the good bits of CoffeeScript are now part of vanilla JavaScript and we no longer need compilers for frontend work.

Oh wait ...

We never did and CoffeeScript had no good parts.

Destructuring assignment, arrow functions, shorthand variable syntax in object literals are some examples of good Coffee Script features that made it into ES6

To approach it from a slightly less tongue-in-cheek angle, my main point was that pre-compilation was never strictly necessary. I'm currently using Typescript as it seems to add significant enough value for me to warrant the extra complexity of pre-compilation, but I do think that's quite a big ask. Coffeescript has always seemed very much about conforming to developer syntax preferences, rather than adding functionally useful features.

ES6 arrow-functions add some behavioral change (this assignment) and make some callback patterns more readable ([].map, etc.) but are definitely overused and making a lot of recent code less readable as a result.

Whether destructuring makes code more or less readable is highly contextual and debatable. It does seem to fall well on the wrong end of the "Enabling" side of the "Software Dev Attitude"[0] to me insofar as it definitely allows developers to create very "clever" code at the cost of readability.

Shorthand is shorthand.

Generally speaking - like pre-compilation - these syntactical sugars may be a net positive for some, but they're far from groundbreaking in terms of adding value.

[0] http://martinfowler.com/bliki/SoftwareDevelopmentAttitude.ht...

Destructuring is nice when used with Promises:

    ]).then(([settings, data]) => {
      // do whatever

Who is using CoffeeScripts these days apart from github ? I like CoffeeScript but I am sad it did not get the momentum.

Lots of Rails developers. I made a conscious decision to introduce CoffeeScript at me work some years ago, because my experience had been that when back-end programmers dabble in Javascript ("The front-ender is busy, but hey, this seems simple enough. I'll just do it myself"), they make horrible messes because they are unfamiliar with all off vanilla JS's quirks and design mistakes (implicit global, to name one). CoffeeScript protects them from making these kind of mistakes/

I am a backend developer working in Ruby. As a senior programmer I sometimes have to help juniors on the frontend side. When I need to write frontend JS, I still often write Coffeescript, compile it and copy paste the resulting JS as "my code". I haven't had the time to look in ES6 and newer JS technologies, but at least I know that the JS I provide follows most good practices.

I'd like to reply to both of you. I like CoffeeScript mainly because it's so similar to Ruby and convenient to use. I have not thought about using the "raw generated js". How does it work for you ?

What if you would choose to work with something like React or Ember ?

Not shure about your definition of big but https://www.ghostnoteapp.com is doing pretty well. Living in NY with a family being the sole provider it doesent work, but had we moved somewhere less expensive it probably could and i am growing both rev, userbase and product

Here is the original Show HN.


I posted an Ask HN to review my side project PCPartPicker about six years ago. Got great feedback and things grew from there. I went full-time, had to hire employees, etc. Not big like Dropbox, but we made it over the hump self-funded and without taking investment.


PCPartPicker is the a very unique product with a great community and I've benefited quite a lot from it in the past and hope to continue doing so. Thanks a lot for making this.

That's by far the most useful site I could find to compare, choose and find where to buy "bang for the buck" PC parts. Many thanks for the site.

Wow. Use it from time to time. Great site and very useful. I had no idea that it came from here. I think I first saw it linked via reddit. Thanks!!

Thanks for building this fantastic site, I use it all the time! What's your business model?

Glad you like it! We make money through affiliate deals with the retailers we list.

Yep, I posted about Webflow's submission in a similar thread a while back: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12032849

Not a show hn, but 2048 went pretty big. I don't know if this was the starting point or not; https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7373566

Obligatory mention that 2048 is just a variation of Threes. http://asherv.com/threes/

That was a really cool game. Thanks!

So you pivoted from link-shortening to actual content, interesting.

In my industry (reselling) a lot of people use gumroad to sell information, anything from product leads to guides to bulk lists for scanning (for online arbitrage) to chrome extensions. I did it myself briefly and made around $250, but I'm sure people are making a lot more than that.

It's just an incredibly useful tool even for technical people who could set up a store, still saves time.

Edit: the SSL cert on https://help.gumroad.com is expired for 3 months. You should fix that.

http://greaterskies.com, back in 2011 (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3066684), personalized high-resolution maps of the sky as seen from a place and at a time.

Amazing how time passes. It's been more than 10 years since I started, and it is still my side project and not big by HN standards. But it is making now many times over what I make in my day job as an engineer in Cambridge, and it's been featured in The Guardian Christmas gift list this year.

Fairly certain that Segment (https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/segment-io#/entity) debuted on HN. The original business was failing, but they decided to give it a last shot and posted their open-sourced code from v1.

You can hear Peter talk about it with Aaron Harris here: https://soundcloud.com/akharris/startup-school-radio-episode...

In 2011 I did a Show HN for a project called StorageRoom (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2616041) and got some interesting feedback.

Five years, a name change and a complete rewrite later Contentful (https://www.contentful.com) has raised a Series B (total funding close to $20m), got ~100 employees and customers ranging from Jack in the Box, over Nike to Urban Outfitters.

It's been a wild ride, and it doesn't look like it's going to be over anytime soon :)

Yes, we immediately got picked up by an SF accelerator, then I was able to raise a seed round from billionaire investors Tim Draper and Marc Benioff of Salesforce. Then hired a team, got an MVP out to developers and gained a ton of traction, and now we're about to launch our stable/production-ready release!

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9076558 For our Open Source Firebase: http://gun.js.org/ !

Cloudcraft: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10722942

Show HN was the first place I posted about it, almost exactly one year ago. Today it is doing very well, used by companies large and small to visualize their AWS environments.

Don't know what your definition of 'big' is, but my open source project webhook got some attention after posting Show HN: https://github.com/adnanh/webhook

Anything >0 is better than 0... :-)

Countly started as a hobby like 4 years ago and it was open source (still is, most parts). Now it tracks more than 11K Android apps according to Mobbo.com, which makes Countly #7 the most used mobile analytics platform. Team is still small (<15), bootstrapped and added a lot more features on top till then. Roughly 1900 stars pn Github. Not bad ;)


Instapainting.com. And I've been showing HN ever since.

I launched SideProjectBook.com on HN. It ended up netting ~$15K that month, not sure if that is considered "big."

I do like how SideProjectBook.com uses gumroad.com (which is 3 posts above this one at the time of writing) to sell the book. It's like a family in here.

Don't know if we count as big yet, but we're doing very very well: https://www.tinfoilsecurity.com

I really don't like the onboarding process so far.

- Typed in a URL to get a free scan

- Needed to create an account

- Needed to confirm my email

- Needed to verify my site ownership

- Got a mail that my site is "borderline insecure". When I click on the link, I'm redirected to the "create an account view"

- Created a new account that opened in a half cropped Iframe displaying some error message I can't read.

This is where I finally gave up.

It says that "Your website is BORDERLINE UNSAFE" after a while even if you leave the account form blank and just keep the page opened in a background tab.

Better yet, it probably does that for any URL – see c8g's comment about Google, i've tried HN and a few of my own sites, all with the same results. Even tried to give it it's own address, but it "is not permitted".

So I thought that maybe it just displays that message after some timeout without doing any actual checks, bit like these sketchy fake antivirus sites. But nope – when i point it to a subdomain with access_log enabled, i see it actually makes a bunch of requests. So maybe they just have such high standards that the entire web is "borderline unsafe" from their point of view.

The scan we run from the homepage is a rudimentary scan that only scans for client-side vulnerabilities, since we can't scan for server-side issues until you've verified ownership. As a result, we can't give you a clean bill of health until you've run a full scan, which is why you see that. If you verify ownership, you'll see any issues we found and be able to run a full scan which can give you a clean bill of health if it doesn't find anything.

I'm not using your app but I assume it's not as clear as your comment based on upthread posts. You might want to modify the app to show both client and server side results with server saying "unknown: must verify ownership first." That would eliminate the confusion.

This is good feedback. Thanks.

It's a company entirely focused on web security.

Even with no conflicts of interest at all, it's obvious that they would have higher security standards than anybody else out there.

Sorry about the bad experience! It's definitely not typical or what we want.

You shouldn't have had to make a second account - that's the odd part. You do have to confirm your email, and we can't show you results until you've verified ownership, for legal reasons.

If you shoot me an email, I can definitely take a look at what happened with the account creation issues and fix it for you.

Just tried it on https://beetle.email and got spammed with new signup notifications.

You might want to put a warning on there saying that it will submit any forms it can find a LOT.

Also, on the waiting screen, while it's running tests, I filled in the form and it's had an iframe drama.


Thanks for the feedback. We will try to make that clearer - it does look for vulnerabilities anywhere it can.

And thanks for the info on the iFrame - I'll look into that as well.

Haven't checked how you're doing responsive layout but it's not working on FF mobile on my device, just FYI.

I've literally never tried FF on mobile, and never known anyone to use it, heh.

I'll definitely test that.

what is the meaning of "Your website is BORDERLINE UNSAFE" i used http://www.gogle.com [http://google.com is not allowed.]

See above.

Also, please don't scan sites that aren't your own - you won't be able to see results anyway.

Why bother scanning before ownership is verified then?

So that you can get the process started, since scanning can take a significant amount of time, potentially.

I think it's along the same lines of "Your browser is LEAKING your IP ADDRESS!!!1".

CertSimple was announced with a 'Show HN' post ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9210908 ) that led to its first paying customer. We did around 12K GBP in revenue last month and have Travis CI, CrowdCube, and Motley Fool as customers.

Virwire: https://virwire.com

Did a Show HN a few months ago, got very little 'comment' attention but still got a ton of new mobile users who have grown into a solid base. This was the only promotion to date.

Small bootstrapped team, Virwire is PoC of crowd curated news for millennials.

itch.io: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5445029

I don't know where the big cutoff is, but it's been going strong for the past 3.5 years. There are just under 50k games on it now https://itch.io

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