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Ask HN: What was your greatest accomplishment in 2016?
173 points by kernelv on Dec 27, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 306 comments
...and what did you learn in the process?

When I was a little kid, I rented out Apollo 13 almost religiously. Kept watching it, admired the guys in mission control (and the astronauts too, of course).

A little later, in April, I sat in mission control and helped launch a spaceship to the ISS.

Along the way, I realized:

Engineering in the real world is maybe 30% calculations and typical "sciency" work, the other 70% is documentation and communicating to people. The day-to-day in the aerospace industry is way different than the way things are taught at school (from an EE perspective). It's impressive to me how much design happens in everyday back-and-forth conversations, versus the common image of "one guy, hard at work, cranking out equations at his desk".

Being smart isn't enough sometimes -- you need to have discipline as well, and even then, there is a considerable amount of luck in the mix. Getting the timing for a presentation, or a forcing a decision at the right time, can make a huge difference in the success of a program. You kind of have to check all three boxes to max out your success counter: smarts, determination, and luck.

> the other 70% is documentation and communicating to people

I still remember my profound sense of shock when I realised software development involved a great deal of communicating with other people and not just cutting code. Fortunately I got over it.

Yeah, I was definitely surprised when I realized that too. And then when you think about it, almost any type of work involving a large number of people working at the same time should have the same dependency of documentation and communication. Being able to work well on a team is a skill that I feel often gets overlooked (or maybe it is just hard to judge in interviews).

> Engineering in the real world is maybe 30% calculations and typical "sciency" work, the other 70% is documentation and communicating to people.

This is why I spend at least time coaching public speaking skills when building engineering teams, nominally in the context of giving tech talks within the team -- followed by specific, actionable, and kind feedback.

Presentation tools exist for good reasons, but are generally disliked because they are seldom used to convey information effectively.

But when you figure out your personal speaking style, and can stand in front of a room and keep them engaged during the course of a presentation... that's a game-changer.

>Engineering in the real world is maybe 30% calculations and typical "sciency" work, the other 70% is documentation and communicating to people.

>Being smart isn't enough sometimes

Congratulations. You've learned two things that some people go their entire lives without understanding.

And I make no hyperbole. Erik Naggum didn't learn this, and he's far from the only one.

It's really something that we should put a greater effort into teaching...

cyanoacry just learned another viewpoint. If you work in a heavily political environment, a process heavy environment, or one in which the "calculations" are not appreciated, then yes, your viewpoint would be to put down the keyboard/slide rule and just communicate. In other environments, actual working results can silence people that are trying to "communicate" their way to success.

True. But in some contexts, communication does matter. A lot.

Some would say that it never matters at all.

After years of R&D, heartache, and rough decisions --- I finally turned my hardware company (http://pavlok.com) profitable! We make technology to break bad habits, wake up earlier, and reduce cravings.

I decided to try to build a hardware company without raising VC --- which is probably one of the hardest decisions you can make. And required about 30 people to make a reality.

But now that we have finally got our manufacturing and supply chain working, I've been building our sales & marketing team --- and I can't wait to see how 2017 progresses :)

And quite a niche.

Just wondering, do you dropship or sell to webshops? Seems quite nice usage of a watch. I also have another proposition which i would like to share / ask.

Is there an email where i can contact you?

maneesh@pavlok.com, of course. I'm better at FB: http://facebook.com/msethi .

We manufacture in Massachusetts and we sell on our own site, Amazon, and as of last week in retail(!!!). We are certainly open to wholesale, whitelabeling, and partnering --- we have a totally open API as well! (http://pavlok.com/api)

Does this have sensors on it? Does it support variable power shocks? Does it support "no shocks for 5 minutes"?

I could see something like this being useful for things like anger management....detect rising heart rate (or some other physiological changes) and give some small warning "calm down, be mindful" shocks.

Another thing I'd like to see on vendor websites like this: a "remind me in <x> months" email signup - I'd like to buy a future version of this with more features, but I don't want to get an annoying email every week advertising other things I'm not interested in.

I've send a pm ( unknown source ;) )


Awesome idea and the website looks great too! Congratulations for bootstrapping a 30 man team!

Does Pavlok have any other automated detection capacities other than wrist to mouth? You might consider making a video on how that works and how to temporarily disable it when eating: if that's the only "magic" feature, I for one would definitely want to see it in action before committing. If you have more magic, I think those features could use more exposure

Yes! We integrate with chrome, rescuetime, and todoist to be a productivity trainer (http://pavlok.com/productivity). We integrate with slack as a team haptic conversation device (http://pavlok.com/slack). We integrate with IFTTT so it zaps me when I text my ex girlfriend, walk into a mcdonalds, or do other trackable stupid stuff (http://pavlok.com/ifttt).

You are right -- we need to make more videos. You can see a lot of our users' stories on our site, or read about it in the NYTimes (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/a-shocking-way-real...)

Wait. I remember you on Shark Tank!

Hehe yea. The most viewed clip in Shark Tank history :p. Thank God I turned down that deal.

The few episodes and clips I have seen of Shark Tank, I always think the deal terms are absolutely terrible for the founders.

That's interesting! Since https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11615687 didn't get attention, we emailed you a repost invite for it.

This is awesome! Can I use this repost link tomorrow? Or does it expire tonight?

Tomorrow will be fine. I suggest adding a comment to the new thread pointing people back to this one, since it's kind of an unusual loop.

Looks like a great product! I'm not a designer the design feels a bit confused between extremely durable, male focused and mass market (lightning bolt, yellow on black) and very tech focused (thin fonts, use of icons.)

I'd love to see an a-b test or a landing page which is more female/fashion focused. I hope you don't take this is an insult, its a very good landing page!

I would LOVE to get your advice on this! We NEED a female-friendly page, and honestly we are just kinda figuring out what we are doing. Any resources, design firms, contacts you might recommend?

Hey I've been a follower for awhile, both you and your brother have been huge influences on my growth mindset. It's amazing to see you posting on HN and I will leave it at this: thank you.

How exactly does it sense something like eating unhealthy food? Or, not eating enough calories in a day?

I got one this year but I'm not really using it. I should really give it a shot

Awesome! You should go through our intro course (in the app) to see the power --- and we now have a new integration with Pavlok Coaches for the New Year! Let me know if you're interested and I can help you make 2017 your best yet :)

Very nice.

Congratulations, looks great.

Thank you!!!

Were on you on shark tank? Sounds/looks familiar.

Yep that was me

2015 was a pretty rough year for our family. A miscarriage, several relationships ending in painful ways, etc... Our motto coming in to 2016 was "Well... it can't get any worse!". Our hubris was 'rewarded'...

In February, my wife was admitted to the hospital, 25 weeks pregnant with twins, because one the babies was not getting enough blood flow through the umbilical cord. The doctors were hoping to get another week or two before his condition deteriorated to the point that delivery was necessary. Things did not go downhill as quickly as expected, and we were able to put off delivery by two months, to 33 weeks (technically one day shy...). While this was a huge blessing, it still meant my wife was in the hospital for two months, leaving my as a 'single parent' of our three year old, while still providing the support my wife needed (spending two months in the hospital is pretty rough on anyone, let alone someone coping with the stress of a high risk pregnancy).

Our sons were born 7 weeks early, weighing 3 lbs, 14 oz, and 1 lb, 13 oz. The bigger one spent three weeks in the NICU, and the smaller one was there for almost two months (coming home just before his original due date). So, at one point, we had a three year old at home, a newborn at home, and a newborn at the hospital (and my wife still recovering from a c-section).

Everyone is doing well now (the little one is lagging behind his 'little' brother (younger by 1 minute), but still within the normal range, and on the right trajectory).

So, my greatest accomplishment was managing to set aside more or less any concern I had for myself and spending every waking minute, for four months, either working or taking care of a family member. In the process I learned just how fortunate I am that, generally speaking, I have a tremendous amount of freedom in how I spend my time. Being in a position where every moment is consumed in the care of others is exhausting, both physically and emotionally.

Our motto for 2017 is "It'll be what it is"... (why tempt fate again?)

Very happy that you and your family made it through all that. Have a great 2017!

Wow, as a Father of a 1.5 year old and hoping to have another this hit me hard. So glad things are are on the up and up for you and the crew

Wow! I hope you will get to have a great 2017 with your family!

Another NICU father here, congrats!


I finally admitted that it was time to start back on antidepressants, and also discovered propranolol (anti-anxiety med); it's changed my life in the most dramatic ways I can imagine.

As of today I weigh 319 lbs -- from a peak of over 400 -- and just a hair over half way to my goal of being at 240 lbs. This is the biggest change I've ever made in my life, and I couldn't be prouder to have come this far.

That's awesome!

Btw I use your static site generator for my blog, so thanks for your OSS work!

Oh cool! Glad to hear you've had success with it. I wish there was a list somewhere of Benjen-powered blogs; I often wonder how many folks are actually using it.

That's awesome progress. I would strongly recommend trying a lifting program like strong lifts 5x5. You can start from home & get familiar with the movements you will need to learn with this: http://goo.gl/HnViBp (get the 20lb one) After you're comfortable you'll need to go to a gym where you have access to a squat rack and a bench press.

Strength is something everyone should have. The best way to build it is with bodyweight exercises (push up, squat, pull up, etc) and barbell training (see SL)... with this you can look forward to more than just a declining number on the scale.

I'm super happy for you, both for finding a drug that works for you and for changing your life to fit your vision of yourself. Way to go.

Can you say more about propranolol? Any drawbacks? I didn't think it helped with General anxiety?

It doesn't really work for general anxiety, but I personally have a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety -- racing heart, tightness in the chest, pain, etc -- which mimic (but aren't) cardiac symptoms. The propranolol (once or twice a day) completely cuts these out. When the psychological symptoms of anxiety are too much, I have Xanax I can take as needed, but that's only every other day or two.

The only drawback is that it can make me a bit more tired, but only if I'm already quite exhausted. Outside of that, it's virtually side-effect free for me.

That's awesome! Keep it up :)

Impressive! Congrats

I accepted a job at Rothenberg Ventures in 2016. After discovering numerous breaches of fiduciary duties and wire fraud, I blew the whistle to the SEC.

Lesson learned: Even engineers have to face ethical dilemmas.

That's real courage. Thanks for standing up for what is right and showing that engineers are honor bound to follow ethics.

I discovered something similar this year and as a result my "contract wasn't renewed"....so YMMV in these types of situations.

Thank you.

I started selling online, total sales so far over $300k. Multiple sources, some retail, some wholesale.

What I've learned:

1. Not all rules matter. A large part of my business is stretching certain rules, either from the marketplace, or from the source (e.g. a store that doesn't allow resale). That said, you can't get away with breaking rules unless you have a very good understanding of why the rule exists, who's motivated to uphold it, and generally what the risks are. Don't screw over customers.

2. There's a lot more to be made by taking risks than there is to be lost. I've easily lost over $1k multiple times in various ways, but when I "win" it's to the tune of 10 or 30 times that. Take smart risks, only where the realistic upside justifies it.

3. Be willing to pay for information. There are courses out there in almost any topic. Personally I've largely carved my own path and paid very little , but I'd still recommend courses for others. Also read a lot of whatever free information is out there, and network with people who have more experience.

4. Don't do too many things at once. It will kill you. I've been full time in college and it's extremely tough to balance everything. Delegate as soon as you can afford to, anything others can do that doesn't take a lot of brains pay people to do.

5. Don't be afraid to scale, but do it slowly. My first purchase of over 10k was 6 months after I started, iirc.

(Several of these are probably specific to this kind of business, may not be generally applicable. Startups have a much different road where profitability isn't the most important at first.)

Do you private label any products?


Can you disclose profit?

I don't track it directly, but margins are on average 20% or so. I have items anywhere from 5% to 50% margin.

In an industry obsessed with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) I find this one of the most interesting comments here.

It's very easy to run a report and get gross sales. It's not so easy to track profit. My margins are guesstimated from how much cash I have in the bank versus what I had a year ago, but I've made money in other ways so need to exclude that.

On a per product basis it's relatively easy, but the question is what the average is.

My philosophy is that if you know you're making money, it's not so important to track exactly how much. I'll probably need to adjust that when I file my first tax return next year, though (so not looking forward to it.)

You should blog about this.

I agree, but see #4

A lot of the people I follow in the industry have blogs and alternate income streams outside Amazon/eBay. (Paid lists, software, coaching, paid groups, etc.) Definitely something I want to do but I need to get my business onto maintenance mode first and definitely not happening anytime soon.

My short term goal is consistently 100k/sales a month, and my long term (6-12 months) goal is 250-500k/month.

Feel free to ask me anything here, though.

Thanks. Ill follow up through email after the new year. :)

what product(s) do you sell online? what e-commerce store do you use?

Vast majority Amazon, some on ebay but it's much harder to handle and sales are lower anyway so haven't been devoting a lot of time to it.

Many different products, really whatever sells fast enough with a large enough margin. I've sold things for less than $5 and things for over $1000: generally the cheaper the more it sells.

What margin I want depends on how fast it sells, competition, and some other things, don't have hard and fast rules as of now.

Many categories, from toys to electronics to tools to grocery to beauty. Amazon requires approval for grocery, health, and beauty, so there's typically less competition.

1. how do you decide what to sell?

2. how do you write product descriptions and copy that will attract buyers especially on amazon?

2. I very rarely create product pages or change them. For the most part, I'm listing against existing, popular listings. I have created on occasion (when the last raspberry pi came out, I bought 10 from England and made a listing and sold quickly before others got stock and the price went down. Something I wouldn't do now, not worth the money for the time, did it to learn. I might buy a couple hundred when the next one comes out and outsource fulfillment though.)

Finding items: I look for items that are already selling well, ideally multiple times a day (you can determine this from sales rank and keepa charts, easy to find out how to read them, use google and you'll find many blog posts). Sometimes I'll look at a store and see which items are good for amazon (enough margin, fast selling, etc) and sometimes I'll look at amazon and then try to find items at a store (when I have an item that does well, I'll often look for other items from the same brand or category.)

I use oaxray, a paid tool, costs $100/month to find products. It searches through a webpage and tells you which products are profitable for amazon, then I filter through those. Recently I've begun training employees to use it and make me lists of finds which I then go through.

So you bet on people who will pay a premium to not go to costco, target, walmart....?

1. Not everything is sourced from a store that people can go to. I've gotten a lot of inventory from other countries (think amazon.co.uk selling the same ASIN for half the price), which people won't do and also shipping would raise the price if bought individually.

2. Some stuff is bought on sale, which may be over by the time the item sells

3. Yes, people absolutely pay a premium for not having to go in store. Even stuff I can buy online people often pay more on Amazon. I do a lot of drop shipping from retailers directly to customers.

I landed my dream job 20 years after I decided what and where I wanted.

It took me a lot of time. Battling low self-esteem, giving it up for a while, following the wrong path, surviving after being fired for the first and only time.

I learned perseverance. Once I set my mind on it and worked around distractions, people and my own mind, I got what I truly wanted and I'm loving and learning every single day.

I would love to hear more of this story. Would you care to share more details, or maybe write a blog/medium post on it?

Yes. I just posted an e-mail I sent to someone in order to try and help me make it into a presentation.

Here it is, https://hoffmann.cx/post/after-20-years/.

+1 Same here. Sounds like it would be a very inspiring story.

+1. Eager to hear the story :)

+1 Spill the beans!

That would be interesting to read about this journey. I am pretty much starting my first steps in the same direction, don't know where I'll be but I don't have any other plans or choice.

Thats great !! Congrats....can u share more ?

It was an accomplishment for me but then it became a frustration. I always hated mathematics but I always loved programming, making appls but cool things like algorithms design, data structures are the base of real cool things e.g. programming languages, RDBMS, artificial intelligence, etc. are all mathematics So I enrolled to Mathematics on my local university just to see how it was and I fell in love, I never saw so much perfection with just paper and pencil. I loved calculus it was really funny solving problems, making proofs, etc. I got good scores the first half of the year and I really wanted to continue but then frustration began, the need of money, so I started working and I couldn't go to lectures anymore. Of course I try to keep reading books and solving some excercies but help from professors or extra tips they used to gave us is what I really miss.

I've been reading more math books this year too, and it has been very satisfying. Sometimes you just need a good teacher or enough time.

if you have disposable income, see if you can get private tutoring. An hour of one on one time can be invaluable.

I created a Neo4j (Graph Database) course on Udemy - https://www.udemy.com/neo4j-foundations/?couponCode=HACKERNE... (Please enjoy the hackernews discount!)

The course has an average rating of 4.62 and over 200 students. To date (since end of June), it has made $1182 for me.

This was quite a learning experience - aside from putting the course content together, I found out a lot about recording audio. I tried doing this in Thailand and quickly learnt that I was in a very noisy environment. First there were the echoes of the room itself which I fixed by cramming my microphone in the cupboard in-between blankets and pillows. Then there were the scooters, neighbours, air-conditioning, airplanes! This was a very frustrating experience.

If you ever make a course, make sure you have a nice, quiet recording environment!

I've also learnt that you can make a bit of money from having Udemy promote you, but if you want to make any decent money, you have to promote yourself.

I also believe from this experience that making one online course just isn't worth doing. If you're going to do it, you have to keep doing it. There is a learning curve at the start, and I believe the trick to being successful is to really work on promotion, and do up-sells to other relevant courses from your existing student base.

Thanks for sharing your story!

Maybe you can give some more insights. What would you say is the ratio on "How much Udemy helps to promote your content" and "How do you have to do yourself to promote the content"? Did or Do (maybe they came up in the same time as your course) you have competitors in that topic?

No worries :)

There are courses on the same topic for sure. What I did was I took all the courses out there on Neo4j myself, learnt from all of them, and then created my course based on everything I learnt, and the pitfalls that I personally had come across that weren't detailed in other courses.

With Udemy your revenue breaks down as follows: * Your promotions * Udemy organic * Ad program * Affiliate program * Corporate subscriptions (if your course makes it into this bucket)

90% of my sales so far have come from Udemy's marketing - I have put very little effort into doing promotion myself. With some affiliates (ones Udemy has set up), I get as little as 25% of the revenue generated - and they'll be at heavily discounted amounts anyway - so maybe $2.50 on a $10 sale, others I might get up to 50% of the sale.

So basically, with me doing next to nothing (apart from the odd question - which I get hardly any of), I'm getting about $200 a month on average.

This might seem pretty good, but keep in mind this course took me a seriously long time to build out (like 6 months, with prob half of that working full-time on it), and I can get the equivalent of about $400+ per day contracting.

My plugin for Visual Studio Code is nearing 1000 followers and 200k downloads: https://github.com/VSCodeVim/Vim (Last year it was nearly nonexistent.)

I learned a lot about managing an open source project, but probably the biggest thing was that I learned that even something as uncontentious as a Vim plugin can get a ton of hate online, including from Hacker News. I would hate to be working on a more contentious and visible project.

Ha! Awesome plugin, thanks for working on it.

And don't let the haters get to you! (I know it's hard sometimes), the people enjoying your plugin likely vastly outnumber the haters, but they are usually making stuff, so the haters is all you see, since they're the people that have the time to troll you online.

Thanks! Yeah, every now and then I go around the internet looking for positive quotes about it in order to even the balance. :)

I use your plugin every single day for getting stuff done. Without it I wouldn't even consider using VS Code. Thank you!

My personal achievement is similar, but smaller. Almost reaching 1000 downloads for my extension, but never made something like this before, so I am happy when I receive positive reviews.

I wrote this answer to a similar question a few months ago:

"I'm not dead" probably ranks highly. I am sometimes cast into a tournament against a patient, relentless salesman for death. The problem is, he knows everything about me. Everything. Every thought, every recollection, every secret shame, every regret. Everyone I've ever hurt, how I hurt them, how I let them down, how I failed them.

And he can, in a moment of pain, turn all of those into an impulse that I have to remind myself is just a feeling and even while I do that he's whispering "is it?".

Most of the time I am OK. But I know that I my emotions can just overwhelm me so suddenly and completely that it scares me. I am still learning how to live with me.

He'll probably make his sale in the end.

But I'm alive.

The Bible describes that salesman as a liar and a thief. Remember that. He's a liar! Don't buy what he's selling, because it's a lie.

And he's a thief. He wants to steal everything your future could be, will be, and replace it with nothing.

As a Christian, I can look at those moments of shame and regret, and say "Yes, that was wrong. I failed. I hurt people. But it's forgiven. Paid for. Totally, completely, willingly paid for." And then I can remember, once again, to forgive myself.

But I don't wrestle with the salesman like you do, so I can't claim that it will help you. I think it will, but I can't really say.

Stay alive, friend. Stay alive (and well).

You should be immensely proud of that. I'm glad you're winning that one, and I hope 2017 is even better for you.

I can relate to it, and just remember that salesman is a fucking arsehole who is trying to cheat you out of some pretty awesome moments.

For what it's worth, I'm very glad you're alive and thinking about this stuff friend :) I heavily relate to that overwhelming feeling stemming from meta-emotions.

Awww. When are you coming back to NYC, Kasra?

Also: your profile text is hilariously out of date.

I think sometime in February, I'll definitely message you before I do :) I'll see about updating that hah

No worries. I'll be in Australia for most of Feb, but fingers crossed that we cross paths.

If we keep thinking about the past we will never move forward. Shit happens in our life and a lot of it some it we can control some of it and we can't. It is called destiny my friend. It is not easy to let go of the past but learn to come to understanding that everything happened for a reason. I am sure there are people that loves you and want to share countless moments with you so stay strong fight hard and never give up

> patient, relentless salesman for death.

Tell that fucker to fuck off. You don't have to listen to him. Focus on here and now. The past is gone. Enjoy your life right here right now.

Created a beer bread recipe blog in the hopes that I get big enough that breweries will send me beer. Last month, a brewery decided to send me beers to "play around with". Mission accomplished.

Digging a natural pond was probably the best project of 2016, turning a boring corner of the garden into an incredibly popular area for birds and wildlife with a lot of new visitors. Grafting some trees, making hoshigaki for the first time, and also a relatively decent home brew helped also to deal with an, otherwise, complicated and unstable year.

How much beer are we talking about here? ;)

Small amounts, but it's a first step! This could be a bad thing. I might get fat.

>> in the hopes that I get big enough that breweries will send me beer

That is what I call motivation!

What's the url for the blog?

Casual acquaintance became a friend and almost immediately turned to me for help with 20+ years of drug and alcohol addiction (they were an often-functioning addict, on whom it didn't physically show).

9+ months later, they are still sober.

Unfortunately, the friendship didn't survive. They really pushed my own boundaries, early on, but I hung in there, hoping and waiting per advice for their circumstances and perspective to settle down.

But, while they are no longer using substances, they are still, in my now more informed perspective, using people. Once they had other means of support, they didn't have time for me.

Still hope it all proves to be of benefit to their kids.

As for me, things I really needed to do, this year, nonetheless got placed on hold. This may even have contributed towards negative judgment towards me -- despite my circumstances making all the time I committed to them possible, in the first place.

Lesson learned: Take care of yourself, first. As also observed, ultimately, in the activity and choices of the person I was helping. They certainly took care of themselves -- sometimes at the expense of those around them who were willing to help.

I feel compassion for your situation because I've gone through something similar with a past relationship, and IMO your takeaways are spot on. "Take care of yourself" -- reminds me of a quote from an old man to his wife. "You take care of you for me, and I'll take care of me for you." The best gift we can offer the world is a well-cared for self.

Finally learning, playing, and enjoying a sport - Squash! I have successfully gone from just about 0 activity (aside from walking everywhere - NYC), to playing squash 3+ times a week.

Growing up, I had never had interest (or natural ability) playing sports. Like many here, I'd prefer tooling around on computers, reading, etc. Likely, this became a self-fulfilling prophesy about "not being a sports person".

Well last year, after some thinking of - "if not now, when? When I'm 40?" I went to a gym, bit the bullet, signed up, bought 10 hours of private lessons for squash (first racquetball, but I switched immediately after trying squash once). It is probably some of the most fun I've had in years, maybe decades. Met so many great people, actually feeling fantastic shape for thr first time in my life.

I'm 34, and am actually a "sports person" now. Laughing even saying it in my head. I've used this achievement/habit also to become more of a morning person (by deliberately scheduling games with people at 7 or 8am), and also to do different activities at the gym (e.g. high intensity interval training group classes; running, and even some weight-lifting). It's even propelled me to think more about the food I'm putting into my body, cook more, etc.

If you have never heard of squash, check it out. It's intense (1000+ kcal per hour), easy to learn, low risk of injury compared to other sports, and is often cited as one of the healthiest sports out there. It's tons of fun (even if you're terrible), has a nice long and rewarding learning curve, is very strategic (the chess-like aspect of it appeals to my technical brain), and again - just tons of fun.

A trusted technology friend passed on the advice to try it to me, so I'm passing it on to you all! Try some squashing!

Out of curiosity, why do you prefer squash to racquetball? Im a social rball player myself, never tried squash.

Would love an answer also. Playing racquetball, I love how long the ball lives and I'm iffy about starting squash with the short volley time.

Keep it up!

A couple thoughts here:

- squash: more control over ball placement. Since the ball is fairly "dead", there is more time to think, and there are so many potential "moves" on where to place the ball. I found with rball, a lot of the hits were more instinctual reactions, rather than deliberate placement. Obviously player skill levels on both games vary, and there are some super sniper rball players

- the "tin". Squash has a spot on the front wall which you cannot hit. This is a bit of the secret sauce for squash, as it prevents some of the rball instant kill shots.

- moving towards the ball, rather than ball to you: in squash, you really need to read where the ball is going, and get yourself there. Since the ball is barely bouncy, its not coming back over to you easily. This requires you to move a lot around the court - lots of soccer-like movements, quick sprints, deep lunges & reaches, side movements, etc

- volley-time: you'd be surprised how long they can go! But you're right, its usually shorter. For evenly matched opponent, I generally have really good long intense ralleys, where its feels like a fight to the end - tons of fun.

Other thoughts:

- squash is pretty international (uk, india, france, egypt, colombia, etc) whereas rball is fairly usa-centric

- rball has been reducing in popularity, whereas squash has been increasing. Shouldn't matter too much, but for example in NYC, I found it harder to find rball players (most were older people; courts often un-used); meanwhile, the squash courts were always popping - people of all ages (even kids). Also, I found the rball courts were older and lesser maintained, whereas (many, not all) of the squash courts seem to have been recently renovated. E.g Equinox in NYC has 5 really nice glass squash courts.

I do think both of the sports are tons of fun. Each has their own personality. The instructor I learned from teaches rball and squash. He started with rball - competed nationally, and till plays it - but fell in love with squash as his true love, and only does squash competitively now. Anecdata... give it a try, and give it some time. Took me a few sessions before I really just got hooked, then it was just magic. Best of luck!

I wrote a step-by-step tutorial on SaltStack. In the process, I worked through my psychological hang-ups with writing. For as long as I can remember, writing has always made me feel just this terrible anxiety. It made me want to dig my nails into my skin. Throughout high school and university, had come to view writing as this mysterious process. From literary essays to hypothetical military campaign net assessments to design documents to historical arguments, it seemed that I was never able to write anything (other than internet comments) without at least a minor emotional meltdown. As someone who deeply cares about developer experience and good documentation, As someone who believes in the power of well-written text to convey ideas that meaningfully change people's lives--I was ashamed and frustrated and hated myself.

But I had set out at the end of last year to write this tutorial. In starting a task that wasn't assigned to me by someone else, I could control and understand so much more about it: who the audience was, what its scope was, and what even was its point? I had enough of an understanding of the subject that I could grapple with and explain it. I was able to break it down and start to approach it as just...


It worked.

I got into the habit of approaching it like I approached writing code: just a matter of structuring ideas and reflecting on whether they were understandable to people. At the end, I had a working running product that someone could read and follow and learn from.

I used to have similar hang-ups about writing as well. I'm pretty sure that that stemmed from inadequate instruction about genres of writing and the purpose of writing in my education.

Where education teaches writing to pass a language exam, the purpose often seems to be about showing that "i am very smart" by using obscure words to communicate a pseudo-argument. What I didn't learn was that writing was about conveying information to an audience, and that the audience and the topic determined the primary requirements.

Yea, I think part of my hangup came from not being able to pursuade folks to answer me when I asked "why are we doing this? What is our goal?". It turns out in real life, people appreciate that question a lot more because it keeps FTE time from being ill-spent.

Where is the tutorial? I have a client in the Bay Area looking for SaltStack training. Do you like to train?

I'd taken it down because I was hosting it on a DO box and wanted to save some money. I should get it set up somewhere cheaper like github.io

I would like to get into software training, but I haven't actually configured SaltStack in a real production environment. I've only used it on the prototyping side of a project. My tutorial was focused on giving a basic intro through setting up Django+Postgres+Nginx. I also haven't touched SaltStack since finishing the tutorial because I got a job in London doing ruby and have been focused on that.

I understand. Thanks for getting back to me. I'm still looking for a SaltStack trainer then. :)

After a rough first year when nobody wanted or saw potential on my product, my SaaS (http://boxfactura.com) is profitable, healthy and we have high hopes for 2017.

I learned the hard way to stop focusing on liking everybody, and making better business decisions, especially regarding partners. I have a marketing background, and I knew that saying that «code is easy, marketing is hard», but I didn't know how hard. However, it has been a blast!

Also, this december we open sourced and launched a pull to refresh library[0], which has been a great success!

0: https://github.com/BoxFactura/pulltorefresh.js

Screenwriting. Finally tried my hand, persevered and finished a spec pilot. I thought it was passable. More crucially, that feeling of writing "Fade Out" at the close of my first draft was indescribably joyous. Triumphal. "I can do this" was my mantra. And with full confidence I submitted it to a review process by industry professionals. Believing they would instantly go gaga over it and I'd have an agent shopping it around Hollywood within days.

They massacred it. I don't think anyone got past page 9. The feeling was worse than being told "Sorry, but I just don't love you in that way," after putting all your heart and soul on the line.

But the remorse lasted only an instant. I put that piece of refuse in a drawer for later re-working. Then immediately finished another longer pilot. Incorporating a very obvious yet fundamental change in attitude from "they just will never understand my genius" to "how can I effectively tell this story in the most economical yet artful way so that anyone can relate to it?" The response this time around was much more positive. "Awesome." "Would watch this." The spark had started a flame.

And so in just over four weeks I committed myself without reservation and finished my first full length feature (100pg). The result: through a small cohort of fellow writers I met via stage32 I will now be collaborating on a paid gig for a webseries that starts shooting soon!

What I learned: respect for the process and the craft. Telling a story well (and especially visually) is so much harder than it appears. Heed the advice of your elders and those with experience. And write. Every. Single. Day. Without excuses ;)

I'd wager a sizeable portion of HN possess the desire or idea for a screenplay. We need more accurate portrayals of the hacker ethos in media. As well as sci-fi with some actual science in it. So I highly recommend facing your fear of the blank page because if nothing else, the effort will make you a better writer, and perhaps a better person.

To get inspired start by reading great scripts:


The other day I picked up Ray Bradbury's The Zen of Writing from my bookcase and opened it on a random page.

And happened upon a chapter where he shared how he would write 1000 words a day no matter what.

Congrats, this is excellent. Your emotional journey is likely applicable to most any creative work.

> And write. Every. Single. Day. Without excuses ;)

Well done, and that change in attitude is insanely important (and tough!) to possess.

I bit the bullet and released Gorgonia (https://github.com/chewxy/gorgonia) to the wild. I braced for harsh critiques but it turns out releasing open source software is like running a startup: 90% of the time, nobody cares. Nobody uses it.

Sounds so sad! Dont worry it takes time. You hit a break and you will have more users than you will be able to manage.

Nah I'm not fussed nobody uses my library. I'm a lot more worried about not being able to find customers who are willng to pay.

Helped teach the entry level class for CS at my university (again) with majority of the students scoring in the top 10% of everyone taking the course. My students were only beat out by the honors sections of which the margines were slim.

I had a 26 student class. 9 studens got below a 90% on the final, I think 1 or 2 got below an 80.

I'm also going to stop being a TA this semester. I think I've been a big help to the students but I got offered a position to do real software development at the university. The pay is going to be crappy but it's ham-radio related so it'll be fun.

Teaching students let me actually teach myself better. I found that after breaking stuff down to explain it to my students I better understood it myself.

Out of curiosity, and if you are allowed to, could you elaborate on this ham-radio related project you are working on? I am genuinely curious about what a university might be interested in coding for a ham-radio.

It's going to involve RBN and then physics that go over my head.

I'm just a ham, the people who I'm working for are the more Marconi-esq people doing something important. It is going to involve the total solar eclipse QSO party so I'll see you on the air during that (if you're in the USA)!

I gave away $2M. I know it doesn't sound like an accomplishment but i worked at a place that I really didn't like. I decided to quit my job and not chasing after my unvested shares. Still not sure what to do next but at least I know that money doesn't worth my happiness.

Whoa. How many years would you need to work to unlock that money?

Turning my consultancy (with 3 employees) from being on a slow ramp to bankruptcy to making a nice profit in the last months of the year.

I the process I embraced the fact that I am much better at sales than at programming, I even learned to love to do cold canvas calling!

Do you have any suggestions for resources for someone also looking to do cold canvas calling?

What I did was (not intended) becoming friends with a extremely proficient meeting booker, and through a lot of talks and some coaching he learned me his brilliant techniques.

That is half of it, the rest is understanding (yourself and) people, psychology and being a balanced person.

Feel free to mail me for tips and tricks :)

I ran an ultramarathon (64 miles).

During this time of the year last year I was at a very stressful period at work changing to a new leadership role. I started working out more seriously, and signed up for a half-marathon, that I completed successfully (I had been running occasionally on my own, previously).

As the rewards of physical exercise were kind of immediate and didn't depend on external factors but myself it motivated me to put together a training schedule, and set the goal of finishing an ultra, inspired by some friends. I didn't communicate it to many people but just a few close friends. It was an endurance challenge, and I am very happy to have it accomplished.

Also, my performance review improved.

Great. Maybe I should take running seriously. I am trying to run half marathon for the last year. Hope this year I'll do it.

Quitting cigarettes. Exactly 1 year ago, I decided to quit. Best decision I've ever made.

Keep up with that man! On Jan 9 it will be 3 years since I stopped and I have never felt better!

I landed a great job as an iOS developer at a great startup in Toronto.

I accomplished this by building a unique iOS game that uses animated gifs for jigsaw puzzles. I wrote the app several times, and after giving it enough time, I was able to incorporate functional and generic programming concepts to reduce my code down to less than 1,000 lines.

I also ditched my resume because I didn't have substantial previous experience developing software (just 3 months) nor a degree of any sort. I just took videos of all my apps and put them up on a dead simple github pages site: https://danielhhooper.github.io

I interviewed and accepted an offer the following week.

Hey I really need some help I am in a similar situation and was wondering if I can get some advice on getting a job. I just have questions regarding what to put on my portfolio page like you did, and also what was the interview like? What sort of questions did they ask.

Hey! Email me at danielhhooper @ gmail dot com I would be glad to help you.

I released a fairly major project (a research-oriented workbench for graph manipulation) in a state of comparitive usability: https://github.com/blackhole89/graphicdepictions

The main takeaway for me was that, unless you can tap into a preexisting pool of demand, grabbing people's attention is as hard and effort-consuming, if not more so, than actually solving a problem. One-on-one, I always had an easy time convincing people I knew that the program is useful for them, but simply throwing it out there and hoping someone would notice it was unexpectedly fruitless.

I am working on a networking algorithm and think this would be useful for testing and visualizing algorithms. But I had to look into the source and then the screenshots folder to figure out what this actually did.

You just have to develop some skills on how to better communicate your work to people. Everyone has this problem unless they develop the skills. Here's some things you should work on for promoting this project:

- User brainstorming. What kinds of people would find this tool helpful. I'll start off your list with 'anyone doing node algorithms, e.g. mesh networking, video game AI'

- Googlefu. Find these users across the web using Google's special operators. Note what kind of sites and communities they are a part of.

- Community reachout. Go to those communities and figure out how to communicate. If it's a blog or content site, could be as simple as leaving comments to more involved like writing posts.

Well, there's a README.md (that includes the screenshots) that Github displays under the repository listing, but I suppose there are sufficiently many files in the repository that not everyone would automatically be inclined to even scroll far enough down...

Visualising algorithms is an interesting angle I have largely neglected so far, since it's pretty different from the purpose I originally built the program for. I could try adding some more examples in the spirit of the sandpile model from the animated GIF, like pathfinding or selfish routing. Thanks for the suggestion!

I quit my job to spend more time with my family.

This was very difficult for me. I love working, but I'd been doing startups for a little more than a decade, and startups require lots of attention. When I had my first child 2 years ago, I thought I could do both. I was wrong.

My family and I moved to the wife's home country where it is very cheap and I'm spending 6 months just being "dad." In my downtime, I'm working on some residual income side projects (I've already got one going that brings in $2k a month).

It's an inflection point in my life. Truly unknown future. When I go back to the workforce, what lies ahead?

PS - I also lost 8kg. :)

Thinking about doing the same myself. I've realized I am just not happy in this job with my current company.

Was it difficult to work on the side products without a set schedule like a full time job provides?

There was about a week of total chaos, but once I got my home office setup, it was like I was back on the saddle.

Having a kid also provides a set schedule - nap time, play time, etc. Those typically happen at the same time every day.

I am in technology, so must be you. Though I really find it hard to get any such work (projects) that you said you finally were able to get. Any help on how i can do same for me?

Closing all my loose tights, burning all bridges, finishing my toxic relationship, putting my startup into the grave, moving countries, finding my second half, traveling around Europe, settling down finally to start a new life and a new project in January.

Sounds like a great reset. Congrats (wo)man

Honestly, Making it to the end. 2016 had been a rough year all round for people as well as for me personally.

Technically speaking I learned a few things, like Ray marching and distance field stuff, but nothing much I can point to and say "I did that."

I'm still here though, I made a few friends, I made and drunk some cider.

If I am on a good enough footing to make 2017 better, I'll take that.

To learn and teach React and Redux were my greatest accomplishments in 2016.

Very late in 2015 I started to learn React. I did a lot of JavaScript before, read a lot about React, but never used it before. Early in 2016 I wrote my first application in React and Redux - a SoundCloud Client (source: https://github.com/rwieruch/favesound-redux , live: http://www.favesound.de).

I wanted to share the joy of learning, the joy of applying the learnings, the joy of building an own application. That's why I started to write about it (http://www.robinwieruch.de/the-soundcloud-client-in-react-re...).

I didn't expect the enormous positive feedback. I continued to share my learnings. Eventually I found myself in the position to teach a bit about React and its ecosystem on my website.

Finally I wrote an eBook: The Road to learn React (http://www.robinwieruch.de/the-road-to-learn-react/). Again the feedback of the community was overwhelming. In the end I very much hope that it helps people to get started in React like I did. At this moment I improve the material whenever I can.

Besides of programming, I learned a lot about writing and teaching itself during the process. Still I try to improve my skills by reading books like "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser.

Yep, ditto. I went from learning about React and Redux myself, to trying to share what I've learned, to actually being something of an expert on them. (The fact that some people actually want to know what I have to say is still _really_ amusing to me :) )

I've spent the last year+ hanging out in the Reactiflux chat rooms, and apparently have consistently been the top contributor by message volume every month - and not by small margins, either ([0]). At a conservative estimate of 3 people helped a night, that's somewhere over 1000 people I've helped there, which is pretty cool.

In March-ish, I created a links list for tutorials, articles, and other resources related to React and Redux ([1]). I've continued to add links on a weekly basis, and that list recently hit 5500 stars. I've also maintained a Redux addons catalog ([2]), which just hit 1500 stars.

I wrote two major sections for the Redux docs: the FAQ page ([3]), and the "Structuring Reducers" how-to/recipe section ([4]). Those have been very well received. As a result, Dan Abramov added me as a contributor to the Redux repo, and eventually handed the keys to me and Tim Dorr as the official maintainers. I also helped offer advice and critiques for Jim Bolla as he built the new React-Redux v5 implementation ([5])

Finally, I started up a dev blog, where I've been writing about use of React and Redux ([6]). In particular, I've been writing a tutorial series called "Practical Redux" ([7]), which is intended to demonstrate some useful techniques I've come up with in the context of a sample app that's _not_ yet another TodoMVC clone :) I also wrote a recap of how I got involved in Redux in the first place ([8]).

So yeah, it's been a pretty crazy last year, but I love being able to help people learn how to use React and Redux.

[0] https://twitter.com/reactiflux/status/743880425576103936

[1] https://github.com/markerikson/react-redux-links

[2] https://github.com/markerikson/redux-ecosystem-links

[3] http://redux.js.org/docs/FAQ.html

[4] http://redux.js.org/docs/recipes/StructuringReducers.html

[5] https://github.com/reactjs/react-redux/pull/416

[6] http://blog.isquaredsoftware.com/

[7] http://blog.isquaredsoftware.com/series/practical-redux

[8] http://blog.isquaredsoftware.com/2016/09/how-i-got-here-my-j...

Wrote a web scrapper backend and mobile app as frontend to scrap my university online portal to check if any lecturer announced class replacement / cancellation and send notification to the mobile app if there is any class replacement/cancellation. The original goal is because of laziness to check the online portal. I have learnt Ruby, Rails, Linux server setup, Nginx configuration and iOS (Objective-C) from scratch during the development.

The app spread in the campus with word of mouth and gained 2000 monthly active users in the first two months. University found out and sent me a cease and desist letter and then later implement recaptcha on their online portal login form.

Thanks to this app I managed to get a decent paying job as an iOS developer. Kinda wild ride

Haha.. same old story, every time you write a scraper, they hit back with captcha. :)

Launched a bootstrapped farm management software product in June (https://www.harvestprofit.com).

Recently eclipsed $100k in ARR as a solopreneur. Goal is $1 million in 2017 and to hire a full-time dev and a couple support staff.

My biggest lesson is that email marketing is the real deal.

Did you have farming experience before launching this app? How'd you come up with the idea?

It is good to see someone in the same business area. I am working on similar idea but in india.

I made an electronic musical instrument:


I've done a lot of regular programming and some basic electronics, but never a project that involved getting a microcontroller to talk to a bunch of ICs. So, I learned a lot about how electronic components don't necessarily behave the way I expect them to. I also learned a lot about what can be done by using MIDI in ways it wasn't meant to be used.

That's an amazingly unique project that now has my wheels spinning for 2017!

Thanks; any details you want to share about what you'd like to build?

I made service that allows anyone with a domain to create their own private email server in less than 10 minutes: https://sealmail.net/

Using Postfix, Dovecot and PostgreSQL, you can read your mail securely via IMAPS on your phone and your desktop mail client. If your account gets hacked, you can just SSH into the server and reset your password yourself. No more getting locked out of your email account in an endless GMail password reset loop (https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/gmail/HjW2Pj5...)

Forgot the 'learn' part of it. Well here it is:

Where there's a will there's a way. I kept getting stuck at different points trying to automate things. I kept persevering because I figure anything a human can tell a machine to do, it should be able to do it by itself somehow. I managed to jump over all the roadblocks and achieve a reliable way to recreate a mail server (which is a real pain) altogether with SSL certificates included.

I see some people giving it a try; thank you!

If you have any trouble please email me with feedback at the email listed on the homepage.

People don't seem to make it past the DNS records though. Don't know if it's because they just looking around or they're having trouble. The DNS A record at a minimum is needed for SSL certs to be installed correctly. Even google hasn't been able to automate that part away :)

This is great. Is your backend open source? Could you share more about how it compares to mailinabox? [1]

[1] https://github.com/mail-in-a-box/mailinabox


Backend is not open source, but I'm thinking of shipping a front-end for server owners to administer their accounts. Have to figure out the security part of it though. I was thinking client side SSL certs. As to how it compares to mailinabox, this is pretty much the same, although it's lightweight with the bare minimum of Spamassassin, and anti-virus and supporting mail server software. Also, it 'makes' the box for you, rather than having you find your own hosting solution.

Sold a company.

I learned A LOT in the process, main one being that you should keep meticulous and separate records for anything that has the chance of being spun off. The company I sold grew out of my freelancing but was separate with a separate name. Unwiring the financials as well as the logins and everything else was a headache. It also looks better to your buyer if you can quickly produce accurate records on sales. I had to back-track and re-calculate several times, leading to more back-and-forth than was necessary.

Similarly, I sold the IP of a game I developed: http://tinyurl.com/sale-of-ip

It was hard to let go, but had to because of personal debt. A bit more backstory here: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=bc7fdf29a4610b493fd5b278...

- Finally cracking the partition function (with a tiny bitsy hint tbh) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_(number_theory)#Part...

- Understanding prolog/non determinism.

ps: I hope you all can enjoy prolog extreme beauty and concision one day if not the case already. It's not at all perfect but so tiny yet so grand.

Many great stories here already.

Mine biggest accomplishment (probably of my life) was turning our almost bankrupted company into profit just in 4 short months [0].

I learned many great things, but the most important lesson is that if you treat your employees with respect and you don't hide things from them, they will stick around and help you to push through. Without them, I would have nothing today.

[0] https://medium.com/@synopsi/from-near-bankruptcy-to-profitab...

I learned that putting more pressure on myself wasn't working, that there isn't a linear relationship between pressure and results. Instead, there is what I call a sweet spot, beyond which more pressure decreases results instead of increasing them.

This. Elon Musk is quoted (?) as saying "If you work 100 hours while others work 40 per week, you can do in 3 months what they do in a year." But the truth is that overwork leads to unproductive work, burnout, and loss of passion.

I'm definitely most effective when I'm happy. If I overwork myself, I quickly get into a negative feedback loop of "never being caught up and satisfied with work."

I learned to internalize the idea of keeping myself happy (stable work/life) first, as in the long run this is the most effective situation.

Finished a multiple-year quest to complete a marathon or longer distance in all 50 US states by finishing in Hawaii in January.

Oddly enough, what I learned is that the type of shape I was in to run/walk a marathon slowly on back-to-back weekends (or even back-to-back days) was actually not all that great.

I switched my exercise focus to building up muscle mass, and getting faster at shorter running distances, and started running with some free running groups in Austin. Much faster now, and in much better shape. I was able to drop 55 pounds (210->155) and keep it off.

I finally went on the round-the-world backpacking trip I've been dreaming about since I was a kid watching National Geographic. It was surreal, hard, beautiful, smelly, and everything I ever hoped it would be.

Growing up poor and growing into a lot of family responsibility made me think it was never going to happen for me, but I made it happen, and now I feel freer even in my day-to-day life.

welcome to china

Creating a budget and sticking to it.

Although it sounds like a burden, it actually freed me from a lot of stress. I broke out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, allowing me to invest and even set up emergency funds that helped pay off an auto accident I got into.

Most importantly though, I've gained a lot of self-confidence. If I got fired or laid off today, the last thing I'd have to worry about is paying my bills because I'm prepared to handle this scenario. So I've started making more bold decisions at work like saying "no" to overtime or responsibilities I don't want to take on, which has further improved my quality of life.

I can't recommend budgeting enough.

I've tried to do this for years but never been able to figure out how it works in practice. My wife and I have settled on just looking at our accounts every week and seeing that we have enough buffer, but I really feel like there is some skill that is missing.

It wasn't until I really grokked YNAB's methodology[1] that I got out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, saved up for an emergency fund, and begun seriously paying off school loans. Their 4 rules and their app have changed my financial life. Like atarian said, having a budget really does free you.

[1]: https://www.youneedabudget.com/method/

I don't know if I have ever really lived paycheque to paycheque though. I've pretty much always been in the situation where I was able to cover a surprise $500 expense. My level of spare cash has fluctuated pretty wildly from $500 to $3,000 though and my long-term savings should be higher.

Pretty small fish compared to everyone else in the thread, but outside of work, I'm pretty happy I published my first actually useful open source project: https://github.com/underyx/structlog-pretty

Congrats mate. My first github.com project made me very proud

Built a (Rails) platform for discussing research with my cofounder: https://www.projectcredo.com

Example: https://www.projectcredo.com/wsf246/the-best-research-on-ant...

Source: https://github.com/projectcredo/projectcredo/

To be honest, it's the first notable project that I've shipped.

I learned that I have a lot to learn, even if I'm comfortable with the stack. It's interesting balancing the migration between what we know right now and where we want to be. For instance, jQuery -> Vue -> SPA (?) + API.

We're also learning Docker, testing (frontend and backend, and CI / deployment. We've got a long ways to go, but I think if we're patient, we can figure out a solid foundation.

Those files you linked to are not public.

I climbed Kilimanjaro and got selected to JavaOne as speaker!

The climbing experience was richer than I thought:

- Full trust and obey my guide, Alex is a great guide.

- Planning and equipment are the key for success.

JavaOne experience:

- Presentation skills

- Great network of contacts

- Tons of knowledge

- Built and released an ORM https://github.com/fractaltech/tabel

- Became an expert at node.js, postgres, react, and react-native

- One of my open source libs hit 1500+ monthly downloads on npm

- Built a product http://flowapp.fractaltech.in/

- Managed to score 2 customers for the product

- Developed basic understanding of machine-learning

Had the 2nd largest Pokémon Go group in Belgium and did paid events with it in theme parks ( we were the first ones that did it)

Launched my first webshop ( which is actually quite fun) in a niche ( 500 € / month profits), which is nice.

Otherwhise, work overload made me quite agitated on the end of the year. But i'll get through it.

Getting married and getting my PhD in the span of 30 days!

Hear hear! Congratulations and well done!

I also did the same thing several years ago (defended my PhD thesis and got married within the same month), and it was insanely harder than it looks. I don't recommend anybody go through the dual stresses of writing their dissertation while simultaneously planning a wedding.

I married my wife within a month of her receiving her MD. I believe I was more stressed about wedding planning than she was about medicine at the time. That said, surgical residency is no picnic.

Running a small online business with profit at Brazil in the middle of our worst economic crisis ever

Started my "dream job" at Google in January and fought through a very steep learning curve towards being a fullstack engineer there. I learned our team's frontend in AngularJS (despite no frontend experience nor any idea how different JS is written inside of Google), webserver in Java, backend in C++ and data pipeline in Go (with tangential previous experience in JS & Java and none in the other two). Add on that the myriad configuration languages and SQL-ish dialects and tools and it has been a pretty heavy year all around, I'm glad I'm still standing.

As someone applying for a front-end position and made it all the way to the on-site, doing the on-site interview soon. Can you explain to me what you mean with js being "so different" inside of Google?

Also that sounds like you learned A LOT. How does that affect your work/life balance?

None of this will show up in your interview, but:

- Strongly typed everything. I get it now, I really do, but I was resistant to compiled and strongly typed Javascript at first and didn't like writing JSDOCs all the time, I'd say 30-40% of my development / code review time came from those issues. - goog.struct.* instead of <normal JS way on StackOverflow>. There are a ton of internal libraries that improve on basic JS objects and have different APIs than the standard library. So you get used to using the internal version of Map/Array/Set etc., plus a lot of binding, etc. Basically the whole "Stack Overflow the question and adapt the answer" strategy doesn't work quite as well inside here. There's also a fragmentation of front end frameworks, so there isn't a lot of deep documentation or examples in any given framework. - Readability. Once you've gotten code review from your team members someone with "readability" has to approve your code as conforming to the Google style guide. If no one on your team has readability in the language you are working in (which happens) then you get bogged down in lengthy back and forths which can be stressful when you're under shipping deadlines. Definitely one of my least favorite parts since I prefer to hack a solution together and refine it afterwards.

The interview process is really bad at getting front end engineers, in my opinion. I think the best way to get hired as a front end engineer is to be really good at algorithms and data structures. I was essentially a data engineer on my last 3 jobs and picked all of the front end stuff up on the fly. It would have been much easier if I had known any framework before I came here and hit the ground running.

I think it was a lot to learn but it seems to be expected around here. Work/life balance has been a big struggle with me this year, the perks are insane and it makes it really easy to stay late. I think if you really want to get ahead and climb the ladder at Google you'd better be young, single, and unattached.

Best of luck on your interview, it's a wonderful and strange place.

Thanks for your answers! My recruiter told me the front-end engineering interview is a bit different and would also focus on HTML/CSS. I guess it's still going to be algorithm heavy hm?

But yes, focusing really heavily on algorithms. I still have a couple of weeks to work my way through "Cracking the Code interview". Practicing a few hours a day on my whiteboard! :)

As someone who did an on-site, I wouldn't worry too much about that. 95% of your interview is going to be on your whiteboard skills solving algorithm-heavy problems. Spend as much time as you can practicing for that.

even for front-end? My recruiter stressed it would "not be as algorithm heavy" and would be focused on HTML/CSS as well.

But yes. I'm working my way through cracking the code interview with my own whiteboard at home :)

Technically I was brought in for mobile/ios, but I was asked almost nothing about my mobile experience. It was pretty much just whiteboard question after whiteboard question and then a (do you have any questions for me?) at the end of each one-on-one.

I don't trust what recruiters tell me for preparation much anymore after a recruiter told me "oh, don't worry, they're desperate for people, they just need people with any programming experience!" for the Mortal Kombat team, and on the phone interview they grilled me about 3D graphics (I had only made 2D games at that point), giggled quietly at my unprepared answers, and told me they weren't interested while still on the phone call. I would have done much better if I had brushed up, but I was lulled into a false sense of security by that recruiter.

I published a book, and I've read 171 books so far this year. I think all the reading has made me more confident in daily life. A nice side effect of the confidence is I'm more okay with making mistakes.

Any book (or 3!) in particular out of the 171 that had the most impact?

The best book hands down was "Evicted", and I'd recommend it to anyone.

I actually wrote a blog post about my favorite books, I feel like HN folks would like the "math" and "relevant today" sections:


wow. I am such a loser :/

Finally followed my dreams of leaving my home state. So I quit my corporate job that I hated, left Louisiana and moved to California taking a epic road trip across country in the process, then arrived and got more or less the job of my dreams a couple months later. Been a pretty interesting ride so far out here.

How were the months in between you reached California and got a job. I am in one same phase except changing the state. How did you pau for expenses?

Depends on your need for creature comforts. I am ok with alternative living situations like crashing on couches, tents, and in the back of my car. I have kind of a no debt policy and my bills were almost zero without rent so my savings went a really long way. :) Get a gym for showers. No one ever said adventures were supposed to be comfortable! Life is too short to be trapped by materialism!

Go for it!

Professionally speaking, the 1.0 release of gRPC for ObjC. I think I learnt to be less conservative to offer public API surface. The porcelain / plumbing approach of Git looks like a good architecture to try.

Personally, I became a homeowner. Some learning! But I don't want to spoil the fun for anybody.

Realizing that I couldn't have a day job + a real passionate side project. Quit that day job, realized while contracting that I was probably undercharging for compensation, and currently bootstrapping that side project into a startup. Wish me luck, etc.

One of my websites was featured in brutalistwebsites.com Quite a big surprise since I'm a self taught designer.

What I've learnt is to avoid the hype and trust your gut. Don't go with the flow, the 99%, you'll get nowhere.

The content of that website is something very meta and I'm writing it since 2006. I thought only robots will read it. This makes me think secondary values are more important than the day job you do and think is the most important.

Never thought there are real designers on hn. What was the site?

I went from an 11 to 6 handicap in golf, which took a lot of practice, patience, research and self improvement. Golf is one of those games that you cannot easily double your improvement without the strong will to improve. It also requires focus and improvement is several areas at once to post good score. Having a good fundamental full swing is necessary for hitting tee and approach shots in regulation (36 total shots), but putting makes up 50% of for remaining shots in regulation (2 putts per hole = 36 total). Putting improvement is the easiest for high handicap players who 3 and 4 putt a lot, but obviously shows diminishing returns for better players. Therefore short game was critical for improving given I don't hit all greens in regulation and must make "up and down" with a 1-putt to make a lot more pars. For 2017, I look to better track my strokes gained statistics which will tell me specific areas to practice on. The HN crowd may find strokes gained stats interesting. http://www.pgatour.com/stats/academicdata/shotlink.html

I regained my intellectual curiosity.

Since then I've taken up personal projects again (like a set of interactive economic model solvers for students), and really gotten to love the process of learning again.

I've also finally truly figured out what field I want to get in to, while it won't be easy to break in to quantitative in finance it at least gives me a direction to take my studies and an end goal of where I'm aiming to be soon.

I turned mathbreakers.com (a download game) into supermathworld.com (an online game), with the added bonus of making our internal game building tools a part of the software.

I learned that it's difficult to sail across the pacific in a rowboat. Meaning, even though your startup aspirations may be wild, it's important to have the right timing and right team to move forwards -- going with blind energy leads to waste and burnout.

I've tinkered with side projects for a long time, but I finally finished one to the point where people can use it.

This is a search engine for lectures; one of the great things is this is something my family can understand and use.


I've been really happy with the response so far (The Next Web & Lifehacker wrote nice articles about this)

Being part of a team that built the 1st open hardware satellite that also happens to be the 1st satellite made in Greece (https://upsat.gr)

I learned that through hard and passionate work we managed to create something that seemed impossible to do in a country like Greece. Seems like it's not.

Now with a March 16th launch date we will be launching on ISS.

A big one for me was to finally put a product out that I've created http://www.curie.me/.

I never was able to finish anything. With Curie it's also an important one for me, and probably because of that I was so determinated do finish it. One of the biggest reasons was that I knew that the product could help other prevent having the same back problems as I had.

I worked on Curie with 3 other co-founders for nearly 1,5 years now after hours, but we never had the energy or time to get it done. Because I was feeling that my teammates didn't put so much effort in it I finally decided after a couple of month trying to motivate them to let them go. As you can imagine it was really hard to do that, and I felt in a kind of depression about that I knew I needed to be make Curie happen.

Now it's in open beta and soon we'll be launching a chrome extension.

I don't know about greatest accomplishment.

I'm still alive and I think this year I would have made $1,000.00 at most as a freelance web developer. I should add I was working full time as a factory worker for a bit(for the most part till I became unemployed again).

I was working at a factory. Maybe if I'm lucky I get hired at a tech position.

I launched a site which I think I will work on for at least a few years: https://senzu.io/

Looks like a great project. With best of intentions, I just want to say that I liked the style (maybe just the fonts) better before enabling javascript. Seemed cleaner and more professional/credible.

That's good feedback. Are you just not a fan of the font? What do you think is wrong with it

I think it's the ratio of font to non-font on my screen becoming too high, looking messy. Or too much text looking too important. Anyway, the effect is exaggerated on my rather big screen with rather low resolution (22" 1680x1050). Looking again on a 15" 1920x1080 ... I actually prefer the webfont. Consider my criticism withdrawn.

Launched the public beta for WhenHub https://www.whenhub.com and mobile app. It's a SAAS app that lets you tell stories with time. You create a rich-media schedule of events and then embed it as a visualization on web or FB where it can be viewed, then optionally time-shifted and added to calendar. The mobile app uses geostreaming to answer the question "when will each person arrive" for any scenario where multiple people are meeting up.

It has been an interesting journey grappling with creating a responsive, embeddable, interactive JS player on front-end while dealing with the idiosyncracies of iCal and Google calendar synch on the backend.

I learned how to work well with a distributed remote team and get a product released.

I honestly don't know, which means I need to journal more.

… I started to keep a paper journal this year. Maybe that is my greatest accomplishment?

Started a company from concept stage on a minimal budget, achieved functional UX walkthrough, team build-out, office space acquisition and fit-out, lots of research, multiple hardware iterations, multiple hardware prototype iterations, acquired multiple interested investors willing to commit funds exceeding total capital investment to date.

Learned mostly in the areas of mechanical engineering, robotics, manufacturing, materials science, product design, Solidworks. Refreshed electronics knowledge.

Oh yeah, and quit smoking a couple of times ;)

That sounds very interesting. Care to share what you're working on?

http://8-food.com/ - network of wholly owned, automated food preparation and retail service locations. Basically, robot chefs inside vending machines initially targeted at mainland China that produce custom food from fresh ingredients, the logistical system behind it and customer experience in front.

PS. I really liked your "VR Meditation app" idea, maybe a little ahead of its time but I am sure that it would work well with those brainwave sensor things that keep almost coming out...

This awesome. I've always wanted smarter vending machines. I would really love to stay in china for a couple of months and work on a hardware startup.

I built my first major side project / application - https://www.artpip.com/. It's a free app for setting fine art as your desktop background.

It was a real culmination of what I've leart over the last few years and it was satisfying to actually produce and ship a finished product. I also leart A LOT about the world of art during the process which has been amazing. The feedback I've had from users has made it all worth it.

Really nice concept

After quitting a job with a lot of commute time in it, and having failed to monetize a side project, I finally landed a teaching position on a local technical university.

I always loved learning and teaching, and a side effect of this is that now I've regained the curiosity I always had about the fundamentals of our industry (I've a CS PhD). So now I'm back reading about the fundamentals of electricity and building 8-bit digital adders with basic AND/OR/XOR logic gates [0].

There's still lots of fundamental things that I want to re-learn, and for 2017 I'm thinking on writing a book about learning programming from exercises (with just enough theoretical concepts) starting from flow-charts and pseudocode, up-to some basic algorithms / abstract data structures/types (probably using Python). My idea is that there are lots of students out there that could benefit of learning how to program by solving focused exercises and learn enough about algorithms and structures to feel capable of doing more complex things (i.e, not feel the "impostor" syndrome).

[0] - https://www.amazon.com/Code-Language-Computer-Hardware-Softw...

I realised searchcode server https://searchcode.com/product/ and started to make some sales.

What did I learn? You would not believe what people commit to their source control. Gigabyte text files, millions of files in a single directory, files with the immutable bit set etc... Some of the most bizarre things I would have never encountered.

My defensive programming skills when file processing have improved greatly as a result.

I wrote some code that solved a problem I had.

Sure, it was small, and far from the biggest thing I've written, but it was really and legitimately useful, and actually helped me with a real problem that I had. Most of my code is just oddball projects and weird experiments. It felt good to make something and see the effect right away.

It taught me that in the future I'd need to make my projects more immidiately applicable to Real Life. It makes them more interesting, even if the actual code is fairly banal.


2016 was another miserable year filled with 24/7 intrusive/harassing/distressing thoughts and physical pain/discomfort that left me unable to do anything but sit around being harassed.

I'll be 31 soon, and thus far have spent the last 6+ years sitting around in this state unable to do anything, work, think, etc.

Others say it's some sort of mental illness, but I say I'm a Targeted Individual (ie, someone did/is-doing this to me).

You are targeted.

To whom it may concern: you're not very good at it.

I finally wrote a book. This book is about how to break into consulting, and it's addressed specifically to programmers. I feel like people were always asking me about how to break into consulting so I just sat down and knocked out a book over the course of four to six weeks. Details and an exclusive discount for the HN community is available in my profile.

Also, I learned conversational Swedish and traveled to Stockholm twice. Fun times!

Just picked up the book. A friend and I are looking to start our own software dev agency in 2017, which will probably be closer to consulting work in the beginning. I look forward to giving your book a read.

Thank you for your business! Let me know if you have any questions and send me an email if you want to hang in the Slack channel.

Giving talks at meetups is a great way to build credibility (and attract clients) for a software agency or consultant. In the book, I give a step-by-step formula for building a pipeline of scheduled talks.

Congratulations and thanks! Just bought it.

Thank you for the congratulations! I am grateful for your business. The books in your profile are awesome; I hope to rate one day. Please do send feedback..

1. During 2nd half of the year I've finally started to work with two open source projects from scratch (I've planned one, but 2nd has come to my mind couple weeks ago).

2. Yesterday I've finally managed to restart my blog.

3. I've learnt my little kid couple nice stuff.

4. Despite the fact I was overworked in December and started to work on side projects mentioned above, I've managed to spend more time with my family.

Looking forward what next year will look like :)

Launched my time tracker, Qbserve[0] and learned that even a huge boost from being in HN top posts doesn't help to reach press or bloggers "automatically".

Gaining visibility even in a relatively small market like Mac apps is a huge effort and nobody cares about you and your product on its own.

[0]: https://qotoqot.com/qbserve/

Published my first e-book -- https://leanpub.com/data-engineers-manual -- and made my first sales. 37 paying customers so far, and I just got my first "review" (an encouraging tweet) the other day. Not bad for doing zero marketing and promotion. It has encouraged me to do more of the same.

2016 was awful, just awful. My parent's home burned down (luckily they had good insurance), my startup failed (no VC investment in sight, no bank would give us a loan, my co-founders went separate ways, etc) and now with 27 years I had to find a "real job" (was in academia before the startup) in another city where I have to pay a huge rent for a shitty apartment. Then, two days ago, the consulting firm where I working just gave me notice that they can't pay salaries to everyone in January so the last two guys getting in have to go. Nice xmas gift...

Now I don't know what to do, it's so hard to find a job in this country. I'm taking MOOCs about data science and python because there are so many job listings for such positions but who will hire a forensic anthropologist? I was lucky enough to get into this job and now there's nothing for me in the horizon.

i decided to face the fact that i'm trans, which threw a huge wrench in my startup plans, but it turned out to be for the best. i'm learning a lot about self-care that i'm hoping will help me be a more effective entrepreneur in the long run (i.e. less prone to burnout). my quality of life has skyrocketed.

Survived another year of struggle to stay on top of ordinary life.

I feel you! I've been struggling with fatigue so to me getting through some days is an achievement. In bed at 7pm is awesome.

Started the year by "flipping the final switch" on our months-long migration from colo-hosted system to EC2. The final operation was to promote our secondary in EC2 to primary, and point all read-write systems there before restarting the entire stack. (It was bit of an anti-climax.)

Then proceeded to work on and push through any pending changes that allowed us to pass three separate audits.

Towards end of the year, finally hosted the first meetup at our office.

As to what I learned:

1) Implicit couplings are incredibly easy to introduce, even with designs that were explicitly set to avoid them.

2) Auditors mean well but rarely have a wider technical background. In gambling industry they are also terrified of running production systems in the cloud. Architectural decisions must be paired with what amounts to a PR effort aimed at third parties.

3) Organising even a casual event is a lot of invisible work.

Ran sf half marathon after having bad knee pain for kast 2 years. I clocked in at 2hr 40 min...very proud moment.

I wrote a concatenative Donald Trump text to speech engine [1]. It kind of sounds like garbage right now since I rushed to complete it before the election--I had no idea he'd win. I read lots of literature on speech and linguistics, synthesis algorithms, and more. I also had to curate a large sample of Trump speech.

I wrote the backend in Rust, so I was able to learn quite a bit more about Rust in the process.

Since Trump won the election, I'll devote some time in Q1 2017 to improving the voice quality. I'm especially interested in applying deep learning techniques to generating a larger n-phone data set.

My second largest accomplishment will be what I'm going to pull off for New Year's, but that's a surprise. It involves multiple watts of lasers, though. :)

[1] http://jungle.horse

"It involves multiple watts of lasers, though."

It never fails to amaze me that if you can prove you gave the FAA the legally required minimum 30 days warning you can do anything up to death star experiments and they can't say boo about it, but skipping the paperwork and trying to beg forgiveness after the fact is like a dozen separate felonies, so be careful. Assuming you're doing what I'd do with many watts of lasers, LOL.

Learning Tango. Or should I say, starting to learn it -- it takes a couple of years of sucking at it to become bearable for a leader.

It is an incredibly deep and rich discipline which invites me to multi-dimensional mastery: kinesthetic, emotional, sexuality/boundaries, musicality, finding place in a complex multilayered society and communities, relationship to learning/failure/frustration, intimacy, discipline... and more. It is incredibly beautiful and complex, difficult and rewarding.

Mastery with infinite possibilities and thus no ceiling. No graduation :)

I'm fortunate to have found a school that approaches it in a profoundly deep and felt way, and has redefined teaching in the process.

I feel extremely grateful. It's changed my attitude toward leadership, relationships, music and community. What a gift.

Awesome. May I ask which school is this? I am trying to find a great school/tutor for Salsa in NYC.

Oxygentango in Los Angeles. Www.oxygentqngo.com

Can't recommend them enough, they know what they're doing.


The URL in my previous post had a typo.

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