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Ask HN: What is the biggest untapped opportunity for startups?
657 points by seahckr on Feb 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 1002 comments
What are some market segments / areas that are ready to be disrupted? If you're a VC, what are some problems you don't see a lot of startups trying to solve?

A marketplace for specialized micro-consulting(30 minutes to an hour).

I've seen plenty of projects that are rife with anti-patterns because a team was unfamiliar with a problem or technology and made a bunch of bad decisions while they were still coming up to speed.

The use-case I envision would fix this. Because it's really a travesty that when we're the least familiar with technologies is when we make some of the most important architectural decisions. And these mistakes could be avoided with questions like "What issues will we run into?" "What patterns should we follow?" "What are good resources to get started?"

For instance I recently joined a project that was built by devs coming up to speed on React. And boy did they abuse Flux, they didn't build a store for every drop-down but it's pretty damn close. However I really think a React Guru could have steered them around this mistake with just 30 minutes of his time.

Obviously the biggest problem is ensuring quality without having to hike rates too much.

I'm the co-founder of Fliffr. We're building a marketplace for services where you can charge by the minute. We have everything from experts in SEO, chefs, personal trainers, Esport professionals. We also have a couple of developers, for example you can contact me for advice on #go #javascript or #ionic. Our goal is to build a service to quickly get in contact with an expert and only paying for the advice you need.

Users can contact our experts through chat and video/voice calls.

Do sign up for Fliffr and try it out, we're on both iOS and Android stores, or visit https://www.fliffr.com . And if you have any feedback I'd love to hear it.

Love the concept, but I can't see this as useful as an App, since pretty much every use case I can think of I'd want to be at my computer for.

I also find it kind of amusing that you're advertising esports advice from a woman who plays on a CS:GO team which can't even compete with a mediocre ESEA-IM team... she might be an absolutely amazing teacher and amazing person to work with, but she isn't good at the game, which really undermines your marketing strategy.

Are the csgo team coaches really good at playing comp. csgo? Dont think its the main quality you need to have to push him forward.You great player but never be able to communicate it to others.But as a good observer with analytical skills you can be great at spotting potential and weakness etc etc

That's something that has been discussed in depth in the pro community for a long time... the conclusion that most team owners have made is that you generally need a coach who can play at a top pro level or has previously played at a top pro level. Obviously the target market here isn't pro teams, but even so, the people who have large amounts of money on the line choose not to hire coaches who have never been very good at the game.

I also have a lot of first-hand experience with this since I taught paid lessons in CS 1.6 way back in the day. Generally the market for lessons is full of mid-tier players who are very dedicated, but don't have the support necessary to improve (ie. a team of players as good as them or a proper coaching system). These players are almost all looking to go pro some day, and want to be able to break through to that level. Since the difference in skill between a Top 1% player and a Pro in CS:GO is so massive, any random competitive player won't be able to give good advice since they are at the same place as the client, and can't understand WHY things are done the way they are among the Pros.

It's worth noting that the Orbit Female CS:GO team isn't even all among the top 1% of players - they went 10-6 in ESEA-Open last season, which is the lowest level of competition which is even sanctioned. Any team that is dedicated and practices, even if they aren't good, will make it through Open at X-4 without much difficulty (I've coached a few teams through this).

We'd love to have you on our platform. Have you considered signing up?

I'm available on danielk at fliffr.com if you have any questions.

I haven't played in a long time (I'm only involved tangentially these days), so I wouldn't be interested, but thanks :)

She is a great coach (I've taken lessons from her) but I get you point. We are partnering with quite a lot of gamers, among them organisations like Denial and Elevate.

Great idea! I have just signed up and added some skills.

However, I am not sure how I should charge. Since you don't have enough people offering the same skills I promote and I presume very low to inexistent demand, there is no price correction at this stage, nor market to begin with :(.

It would be useful if somehow your app could suggest a recommended fee for a given skill.

It looks like a great idea though!

Thanks for signing up!

As you say there isn't much demand, but we are working on it. Thanks for your suggestion on recommending fees :)

Does it support a web-interface? It's not clear from the website.

Not yet, but it is something that we are thinking of adding. Would a web interface be useful to you?

Yes, interacting with a UI on a desktop computer is so much better than using a phone screen.

Cool, thanks for the feedback. If you want me to reach out to you when we have a web interface drop me an email at danielk at fliffr.com

If I'm getting consulting for e.g. code, I'd want to be at my laptop coding away, not stuck with my face in a phone screen.

Software/Devs/Code already have a niche platform for this at: https://codementor.io

I would second this. In terms of software dev, I'd want this application to live the same place that I'm doing the majority of my work -- my desktop.

I like the idea too, but also got lost at no web interface. There are instances where you'd want to screen share and look at code. Slack integration would be kinda cool too.

There are instances where you'd want to screen share and look at code.

Not only "instances," but that seems like a worthwhile business just by itself.

Thanks for the feedback

1 tip to improve your site, include the expertise next to the person.


For example, idgaf their name, let alone their username on a service I dont even use yet. This screen that should tell me everything, tells me nothing.

Best of luck. Promising idea.

I've started offering a service like this[0] for React apps. The response so far has been really good, people love it!

It's exactly how you say it is, by spending some time identifying the biggest issues and then spending an hour with the team I can get them to rally around some easy fixes that'll be valuable for the business long-term.

Developers love it as their bosses finally understand the value of refactoring, and managers love it because they get actionable tips that'll help the business.

Making this a general platform would require a lot of good curation, but nothing impossible. Now you got me thinking…

[0]: https://mxstbr.com/audits/

That looks like a valuable service, but it is slightly different from the micro-consulting the parent mentioned. From your perspective, do you think there would be value in a service that offers this consulting thirty minutes at a time?

30 minutes is quite a short amount of time, especially given that most companies who will pay for consulting are quite far ahead in their projects already and will have a large codebase.

I could see 30 minutes to an hour working out for e.g. a bespoke greenfield codebase setup, but I don't think restricting it to 30 minutes makes a lot of sense.

Please don't call people Gurus. I've had at least three lousy experiences working with people who referred to themselves as Gurus. Some of them didn't even know the dictionary definition of the word. I feel I have dodged a number of bullets since then, by developing a healthy prejudice against self-titled Gurus.


And "visionaries". May be it's just me, but my defenses go up whenever I read a profile with visionary in it.

Thought leaders, ugh.

What about rock stars?


I run away screaming when I see this in somebody's profile.

To be fair, that's because of the throwing stars, though. Everyone should be afraid of Ninjas.

But that's just the thing -- most people referring to themselves as ninjas are designers aspiring to be devs, and they are usually cute chubby smiling guys who tend to stumble on their own feet. Hardly something to be afraid of!


"For instance I recently joined a project that was built by devs coming up to speed on React. And boy did they abuse Flux, they didn't build a store for every drop-down but it's pretty damn close. However I really think a React Guru could have steered them around this mistake with just 30 minutes of his time. "

The trouble here is that the guru or consultant who comes in needs to understand the context of the problem, which can't be done in 30 mins.

we have a lot of architecture consultant companies which provide these services already.

If you microfocused it enough it would work.

Am I doing anything wrong isn't happening in 30 mins. Am I doing anything wrong with React is more than 30 mins. Am I abusing Flux? That sounds doable. videoconference with a live dev plus codebase access.

In a previous career I walked hundreds of consultants thru connecting to the telco WAN and ISP network that employed me, and I can't help you with everything but in 30 minutes I can easily tell you what is wrong with your BGP configuration or your frame relay configuration or your MPLS/ATM connection. At least WRT connecting to that employer, at least WRT connecting 15 years ago. The consultants knew their client networks inside and out, I mostly told them "no do not redistribute via RIP RFC1918 address space to us" or "no you really don't want to send us a 0/0 route" or "you think we'll accept a route for a.b.c.d/27 and you're actually sending it correctly but you not having sent us a LOA means I'm filtering it right out" or "you might want to think about enabling md5 authentication because we have, as our welcome letter you obviously didn't read, clearly explained" and yeah people actually tried stuff like that. Also people with obvious peculiar ideas about how BGP works WRT priority of routes and load balancing and stuff. Could I tell these "network administrator consultants" how to set up MCSE server stuff, well, no, but I sure told a lot of them how to configure Cisco WAN interfaces and how BGP works (or doesn't work)...

You can do a lot in 30 minutes over a narrow enough specialty.

Wouldn't reading a book about React before they started working with it be preferrable?

That's something I've seen getting much worse over the past decade with the proliferation of frameworks. What you call "getting up to speed" is tempting to call "playing with". People work with tools that they have no knowledge of. Learning on the job is good, but I think one should have at least an idea of how the tools are supposed to be used and how they are implemented before doing anything else than throwaways.

I don't know how to fix it really, it more of a cultural thing than a technical. Knowledge must somehow be cool and respected again. Or maybe I'm just getting old and this is really a faster way of building things. I just can't think of any other area where professionals jump to the next tool without even learning the one they use.

> Wouldn't reading a book about React before they started working with it be preferrable?

Great in theory but difficult in practice. Developers rarely ever have the luxury to pick up a book as a means of getting up to speed when there exists online resources like Google and StackOverflow where you can easily find posts that answer your query string(s) verbatim.

But you don't necessarily know what you don't know.

If you don't know enough to ask high quality questions, SO and Google won't help you.

If you're lucky, G will lead you to tuts and repos with useful code.

If you're not, you'll make a ton of stupid beginner mistake and be overdrawn on the technical debt account before you even start.

JavaScript frameworks are rarely ever worth buying a book to get up to speed for. Books like this [0] are a much better time investment as the deep knowledge gained would be useful beyond the currently trending JS framework.

[0] https://github.com/getify/You-Dont-Know-JS

Throwaway, prototype, proof of concept, spike, playing around, whatever you want to call it. In many (most?) businesses, they never get thrown away. They form the basis of the product.

In other words, the thing that makes software so unique and valuable, is the very thing that most organizations don't take advantage of. They think that if you throw it away, you are scrapping something akin to physical materials.

Shame, really.

The problem is that React best practices have changed in the past year alone. Buying a book from say, early 2016 would be useless now.

"For instance I recently joined a project that was built by devs coming up to speed on React. And boy did they abuse Flux, they didn't build a store for every drop-down but it's pretty damn close. However I really think a React Guru could have steered them around this mistake with just 30 minutes of his time."

Problems like this tend to be consequence of team that does not tolerate dissent. E.g. either clique that stamps out dissenters as obviously stupid or dominant individual eager to bully anybody who does not conform to his favorite cool aid. Someone would say that "maybe we are going too far" otherwise.

Consultant wont be able to solve that one in 30 minutes.

This would be great for non-tech too. That is, a marketplace for micro-consultations where I can look up industry-specific consultants. It would have saved me lots of time (months) on several projects I've played with launching over the last few years.

Isn't this kind of http://clarity.fm offers?

That would be cool. I've run into a problem myself of not knowing what technology to use when building a web-shop, but complicated by the fact that users uploaded images to be printed onto their item. Sometimes I just need someone with e-commerce coding experience to talk to me for half an hour or so to let me know what my best options are.

I recently launched my third startup Elastic Byte (https://elasticbyte.net) a DevOps and cloud management company that offers simple monthly plans to design, build, and manage your cloud infrastructure. Pricing is transparent and upfront (which is rare for consulting/service companies) with no long-term contracts and no vendor lock-in.

We specialize in AWS and Google Cloud, and can help with simple LAMP/MEAN stacks all the way to complex multi-region microservice architectures using Terraform, containerization, Kubernetes and beyond.

For tech it could be a nice add-on to Stack Overflow, since they have a reasonable amount of data of people's knowledge/quality and a reputation system

http://www.fiverr.com seems like the current standard for these kinds of tasks. Problem being it's mostly overseas labor and the quality isn't great.

https://hourlynerd.com/ is an interesting model, if a different industry

I'm curious if anything related with teaching CS or how to program would be appelative to people? Something like 1:1 teaching/mentoring..

I teach CS (programming, web development, distributed systems) on a local university, but have been thinking if there would be people interested in having 1:1 access to someone with development and teaching experience, for 30 minutes or 1h..

wasn't google helpouts something like that?


they shut it down.

This just stinks of another way to abuse the talent. If you want to pay someone below-market rates to fix your business's problems, there are already a multitude of race-to-the-bottom "contracting" sites to suit your needs.

Real consulting at market (or even above-market) prices exist for a reason. The kind of people who will spend hours setting up a consult, to only officially charge for 30 minutes, are exactly the kind of people you don't want working for you, for any period of time. You get what you pay for.

I can't for the life of me imagine what an apparently legitimate "micro-consulting" gig would look like, where the talent being hired isn't being asked to overperform for the amount of billing time being requested.

This sounds a bit like both https://clarity.fm/ and https://www.codementor.io/

Long ago I offered a paid answer service for Drupal StackExchange questions via the drupal.org services list and never got anyone asking for the service. Just a data point.

I got this pitched multiple times in the last months. Nobody got the focus right in my opinion because it needs to be open and paid. I would use this from both sides i really see the potential here as well.

This is exactly what Clarity provides - https://clarity.fm/

I think you mean software consulting but Expert360 is a good example for other types of consulting.

I have never used them, but isn't this the model airpair is going after?

Here are a few, and I frequently have these conversations with VCs, albeit biased toward areas I work in:

- Spatiotemporal analytics usually in the context of IoT. Most people currently repurpose cartographic tools for this purpose but the impedance match is poor and the tools are seriously lacking elementary functionality. There is no magic technology here, just exceptional UX/UI and an understanding of the problem domain and tooling requirements.

- IoT database platforms, no one offers a credible solution for this currently. Everyone defines this in terms of what they can do, not in terms of what is required in practice. There are many VCs currently hunting for this product but the problem is one of fundamental tech; you can't solve it using open source backends.

- Also for IoT, ad hoc clusters of compute at the edge being able to cooperate for analytical applications. The future of large-scale data analytics is planetary scale federation for many applications. Significant tech gaps here.

- Remote sensing analytics. Drones and satellites are generating spectacular volumes of this data and no one can usefully analyze data of this type at scale. Today, companies wait weeks for a single analytic output on less than a terabyte of data.

- Population-scale behavioral analytics. Many startups claim to do this but none of them can actually work with relevant data at a scale that would deliver on it despite increasing availability of the necessary data.

- AI based on algorithmic induction tech i.e. not the usual DNN and ML tech everyone calls AI. This is way more interesting if you have a novel approach.

> - AI based on algorithmic induction tech i.e. not the usual DNN and ML tech everyone calls AI. This is way more interesting if you have a novel approach.

I know it's fashionable to hate on deep learning, but algorithm induction is literally what deep learning does.

I would love to read an elaboration on this. There's so much I don't understand about AI.

> AI based on algorithmic induction tech i.e. not the usual DNN and ML tech everyone calls AI. This is way more interesting if you have a novel approach.

Any chance you can elaborate on what you're talking about here?

I think the OP is referring to algorithmic probability. See

[1] R. J. Solomonoff. A formal theory of inductive inference: Parts 1 and 2. Information and Control, 7:1--22 and 224--254, 1964.

[2] R. J. Solomonoff. Complexity-based induction systems: Comparisons and convergence theorems. IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, IT-24:422-432, 1978.

[3] http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Algorithmic_probability

I believe he is referring to AI that can generate new ideas, similar to 'thinking' versus pattern recognition, which is 'I've seen something like that before (during training!).

So AI that can develop algorithms on its own? Basically AI that can write code?

Perhaps he means old-fashioned AI techniques like production-rule systems, knowledge representation, and truth maintenance. If so, and if he's right, that would interest me, since I know how to do those things.

I understood the question as, what makes you think: the current system could be streamlined so easily that I can hardly believe someone hasn't already disrupted the complacent firms extracting rent.

Such a question usually gets answers mostly comprised of work that is extremely boring at first glance. For example, create a system than halves the work to complete documentation for some sort of compliance with regulations.

Every one of these ideas just sounds incredibly interesting to work on. The type that gets a lot of really bright people together on a team (that I'd really want to be on too), yet they might not deliver a product, and possibly even less likely figure out how to monetize it.

Anyway, I'm not developing a friction-reducing product either, but worry about choosing something because it sounds like a rewarding, intellectual challenge.

A lot of that is really really specific for what you do. I think people are generally trying to solve ONE problem rather than creating a solution for the general problem, because usually, a general solution breaks down very very quickly and thus low retention rate.

> Remote sensing analytics. Drones and satellites are generating spectacular volumes of this data and no one can usefully analyze data of this type at scale. Today, companies wait weeks for a single analytic output on less than a terabyte of data.

I am co-founder of tensorflight.com. We do computer vision analytics of drone imagery. Interesting that you mention it, as I thought it's a somewhat obscure market. When we talk to investors in the valley 75%+ have to be educated about why what we do is a viable business.

Please get in touch at kozikow@tensorflight.com if you have any ideas!

Very insightful. In your expert opinion, what are some of the core features / functionality that an IoT database platform should have (that existing solutions or combinations of them on AWS / Google Cloud / Azure don't provide)?

Could you be more specific about the IoT DB issue? What would a credible solution do?

Thanks in advance.

An IoT database requires the intersection of three software capabilities in a single platform, which have varying degrees of accessibility (the technology exists in principle) and none are available in open source currently.

- An exabyte-scale storage engine. Nothing too exotic here technically and a few companies have built them, but the design needs to address continuous data corruption, continuous hardware failure, geo-federation, etc.

- A real-time database kernel that supports very high throughput for mixed workloads. A production kernel of this type doesn't currently exist though several people working in closed source databases understand the necessary computer science in principle; the academic literature is far behind the state-of-the-art. The ability to gracefully shift load and transients between servers under full load with many millions of writes per second is not trivial.

- Native discrete topology operators. Necessary for geospatial analytics, sensor coverages, etc. If you can do it natively in the database kernel, it makes the second requirement easier to achieve since you don't need secondary indexing generally.

Any solution even halfway toward the general solution would be viable. The value possible if you have such a system is hard to overestimate. Companies have paid half a million dollars for the output of a single analytic query on tens of trillions of IoT records; the differentiator was that it was possible to execute such a query at all.

It is extremely high-end and polymathic computer science, but serious valuable if you can make a credible dent in it. And unlike some advanced topics in computer science, there are no epic unsolved theoretical problems you have to solve, though some relevant computer science may be unpublished.

The first two challenges are quite familiar in the financial industry, and kx, with its kdb+ time-series database, is arguably the industry leader. Most people in the open source sector don't pay it much attention, since its proprietary nature and terse APL-inspired syntax [0] lend themselves towards "I'll make my career in this, become a wizard, get Wall Street money, and not be very incentivized to compete with myself by sharing knowledge." To the third question, I'm not sure to what extent it treats topology natively, but kx is certainly positioning themselves as an IoT solution provider [1]. Of course, the cost is likely prohibitive for smaller IoT startups, and more innovation would certainly be good from a supply-demand perspective, but from a technical perspective I'm not sure this is an unsolved problem.

[0] https://a.kx.com/q/d/q.htm

[1] https://kx.com/solutions/utilities/

KX is a leader in what it does but it doesn't really fit the canonical IoT use case, either from a workload or analytics perspective. The challenge is that IoT isn't just temporal, most of the interesting relationships are spatial as well since you are analyzing relationships across sensor and telemetry streams, and the analytics are real-time mixed workloads with ridiculous working set sizes. It isn't their market. They rock the time-series market though.

A good example of an IoT data analytics problem is analyzing a petabyte of drone sensor data, which on a large drone amounts to a few flights worth. Typical raw sources tend to be some combination of hyper-spectral imaging/video and LIDAR. Or RF probability functions e.g. mobile. Or a combination of all of the above because you are fusing multiple sources to reduce the uncertainty for your analysis.

FWIW, the "tens of trillions" of IoT records I mentioned was a real-world example from one of the most famous financial companies. It was a spatial analytic on a polygon model, and a classic IoT data model. If KX solved that particular analysis problem, they would have used it.

kdb is awesome, but very tailored to one-dimensional (time-ordered) data. I've built a couple multi-dimensional array database engines in my time and -- trust me -- it's a really difficult problem to solve. That said, I have a design kicking around for one that meets most of the OP's demands, so if anybody wants to join me...

There's been an explosion in raster data in just the last 5 years. Cheap satellites, cheap drones, and cheap platforms have really turned the firehose to "high". And the resolution on scientific data -- climate and weather model output, astronomy data, particle physics data, seismic data, etc. -- just keeps going up.

This is an area of massive growth for which no existing solution is quite adequate. If I had the time and/or the cash, I'd be diving in head-first.

A friend is working on an IoT problem with two of your three capabilities: storage and analytics. He has voiced similar concerns. (To be fair, he gripes constantly that nothing exists which would work for him, within the budgetary and timing constraints.)

His company provides sensor systems for civil engineering projects. A single large bridge can have sensor packs every 50m or so - per beam. The amount of sensor data coming in for a single municipality or region is already staggering. Vibration and stress analytics are required on a daily basis.

The final requirement, one which you didn't mention, is that this setup should be fairly low maintenance. If you need a team of rocket scientists to operate and just keep it from falling over, the cost structure will be unsustainable.

A service that provided all this in a platform with sane APIs and good BI integration should be making tons of money.

Instead of storing the data and then analyzing it, make it into a stream! eg: collect | analyze | report

During development or if you want to store the raw data you can split the stream. eg: collect | tee >(store) >(anotherAnalyzer) | analyze | report

> budgetary and timing constraints

ain't that the truth

I'd also add, there's a component of streaming analytics that isn't solved either.

One of the points I've tried to make at various companies (we've worked at the same one before) is that streaming solutions and batch solutions need to be fused into a single execution engine.

A streaming system on its own (operating on temporal windows) is not nearly as useful as on that can be joined to a storage engine with data at rest. It also needs to be disk based, so windows can be large, which most people do not want to take on. It also needs to be extremely parallel, and efficient.

Thousands of requests a second per server is not even in the right ball-park (which is lots of current execution engines now). Operating at line rate is generally table stakes IMO. The operations on the stream should be parallelized automatically, up to petabytes a day of input. Humans don't have the necessary context to do the partitioning up front, especially with streams that change.

The issue is (and I've tried to come up with designs to address this, though not in practice), is that co-locating the data at rest, with data that is moving through the system is a tricky problem, especially with complicated joins.

They can be the same engine (and should), but traditional database engines tend to have a problem with streaming queries, since they are just repeatedly executing a query against every new record. They are expressible, just not efficient. There is room to innovate in this space, but most people building these engines either solve the parallelism problem naively, or not at all.

There's also the problem of driving this computation to the edge, which is also something I have a solution for in a way that no one is doing, but have not yet met a company willing to take this level of effort on.

All the points you make about the kernel are apt, as are the points about the distribution algorithms. Also, the protocols used aren't nash safe, so at scale most of these systems become an operational juggling act under pressure.

All streaming systems that I know of do not know enough about the underlying data to gracefully rebalance and co-locate, since they all tend to embody the map/reduce paradigm, which is oblivious to underlying data distribution, at least in current practice.

There is available computer science to solve all these issues, I think some of the spatial algorithms out there can also be applied to the streaming space, especially in join evaluation.

You shared a lot of deep insight here. Thanks.

> something I have a solution for in a way that no one is doing

Is the general direction for this something you can share? 30 years of database literature accumulated a lot of knowledge. It's be a bold claim to say there's something powerful yet non-obvious.

Unfortunately, my employer and team are directly involved in this space. We may not go this way (due to the effort), but its something we may tackle.

It's not necessarily new computer science, just a clever (if I can be so bold) way to tackle edge computing in the context of a streaming engine.

Maybe a general solution just isn't cost effective and may never be cost effective, regardless of how much we bring down actual costs for the resources involved in solving data-intensive problems. The (possible) reason? The performance advantage you gain from tailoring specifics to structural relationships within exceptionally large datasets may just be too large to trade off for some "generalized" solution.

I'm just speculating, of course. I was sort of entertaining your idea and going back and forth between "a sounds-good fantasy" and "No, that would be awesome, why does this not exist?"

Flurry (now part of Yahoo) has experience with IoT storage at that scale (or near it). The "T" just happens to be your phone. Data processing (and staying in business) at that scale is a matter of great teams and solid architecture. This won't be a "service" easily sold to a general audience.

The data processing could become a commodity but the architecture won't be -- its highly tied to your specific industry.

Hi Andrew - What's the status with SpaceCurve?


What are one or two concrete things you'd actually use this for?

As someone that has "repurposed cartographic tools" to analyze spatiotemporal datasets, what specifically do you feel is missing from current tools?

I spent many years repurposing cartographic tools myself. :-)

Three big missing features off the top of my head:

- Insufficiently correct and high precision computational geometry, which compounds with the iterative/recursive nature of many complex sensor analytics. Many people don't notice unless they ground truth their analytic process; I learned this the hard way. For many industries, 1% cumulative computational error is a catastrophic bug for analytics and the reality can be much worse in many common systems.

- Lack of first class tessellation types and operators. Once your data scientists have them, they'll wonder how they lived without them. Such things are completely useless for cartography and therefore don't exist in those platforms.

- High-performance computational geometry. This is particularly noticeable if you work with sensor coverages (like drone data). Your typical cartographic system has serious difficulty joining a few terabytes of complex polygons, but these are tiny data sets for many remote sensing sources. It literally takes weeks or months to run these types of queries. You can optimize this to be much faster but there was no pressing market need in cartography and cartographic systems aren't designed for scale-out generally.

I am late in this conversation, I would like to dig more into the IoT and the needs for tooling for spatial analysis. Could we talk more about the problems you are facing? My email is on the profile page. Thank you!

Interesting! I'll ponder over these; thanks for the insight!

Aren't these addressed by CGAL? Or you mean, you'd want database primitives using CGAL?

Unfortunately CGAL is not suitable, and yes you do need to support it in the underlying representation and database. The litmus test for a suitable computational geometry engine is the ability to do arbitrary ellipsoid computational geometry at something like one part per trillion error, and the ability to compute intersections of very complex polygons on that surface quickly.

On that last point, you can execute an effective denial of service attack on most GIS databases with a well-crafted set of polygons and polygon intersection queries. It doesn't even require malicious intent. (Yet another thing I learned the hard way.)

Any chance you could give an example use-case or three? Sounds fascinating -- I use PostGIS and find it to be slower than I'd like day to day, but it sounds like your uses demand a lot more precision than I have call for.

I am not sure if all those goals can be combined.

For example, the intersection of n polygons could have exponentially many segments. To prevent denial of service, accuracy has to be sacrificed, but "one part per trillion error" sounds hard.

As another example, representing the intersection between two line segments without error requires a data type that has three times as many bits as the x/y components of their endpoints, so rounding has to happen here, too.

The only solution I can come up with that would not have those problems would be to subdivide a plane into grid cells of size one trillionth of whichever unit, rasterize all polygons into it do the Boolean operations at pixel-level, but that would require huge amounts of memory and processing power. And additionally it would be vulnerable to a DOS attack where the attacker sends many very large overlapping rectangles.

Lastly, huge amounts of data would require many computers to be able to work on this problem in parallel, but if an attacker sends only overlapping polygons, parallelization would be very tricky if not impossible.

> Population-scale behavioral analytics. Many startups claim to do this but none of them can actually work with relevant data at a scale that would deliver on it despite increasing availability of the necessary data.

Making Asimov's Psychohistory from Foundation a reality!

Can you clarify what you mean by behavior analytics and why companies eould find that useful?

Think Hari Seldon/psychohistory.

Predicting mid to long-term trends and demographic shifts far enough ahead of time to make investments.

If the data is there, and if we insist that machines need to predict trends for us based on that data, then why do we need to hire analysts for this job?

Sometimes because they are intentionally gatekeeping, as in Half Past Human's conversational delta analysis reports.

Can you expand on the last point?

> no one offers a credible solution

> There are many VCs currently hunting for this product

Implies a difficult problem.

> algorithmic induction tech

Do you mean inference?

Could you describe the applications for these tools?

An economist and a normal person are walking down the street together. The normal person says “Hey, look, there’s a $20 bill on the sidewalk!” The economist replies by saying “That’s impossible- if it were really a $20 bill, it would have been picked up by now.”

This comment is fantastic. I laughed out loud. The ivory tower exists for conservatives and liberals. And the Chicago comment is on point.

I heard someone from U of Chicago School of Economics make the case that Payday lenders should not exist. If you go to U of C you'd know they do exist and they're about 1/4 of a mile off campus if you just left and looked around.

An economist from Chicago

Correct: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient-market_hypothesis

EDIT: FYI, not all pro-Free Market economists believe in EMH, Austrians for instance, have criticized Chicago school for this ridiculous theory.

Nice joke, not trying to be like [1] but this would apply if there were more chances of finding $ 20 bills.

[1] http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi879.htm

I always think there are huge opportunities for growth in intra-EU trade. It's a market with over 500M people and a $17 trillion GDP. While the EU has taken away a lot of trade barriers, language and unfamiliar regulations remain a huge barrier, but also a huge potential for growth.

If a company in California has ample opportunities to sell in Florida (>2000 miles away), why then is it significantly more difficult for a company in Greece to sell in Denmark, which is a much shorter distance.

There is a notable lack of an open European marketplace along the lines of Alibaba. There are many challenges in making that model work for the EU, especially ~24 languages and big cultural differences, but the tech industry is in a good position to overcome such boundaries.

> If a company in California has ample opportunities to sell in Florida (>2000 miles away), why then is it significantly more difficult for a company in Greece to sell in Denmark, which is a much shorter distance.

The US has a federal "interstate commerce clause" which means that individual states cannot regulate trade with other states. The federal government has all the control, which would be like the European Union having control.


The US version is a bit more far-reaching but the Common Market[1] allows me to sell almost anything in any EU country.

Incidentally, Amazon is one such example. If I buy something on the German amazon.de the contract is formed with Amazon EU S.à r.l. in Luxemburg and the goods are often shipped from a Polish warehouse.

The difficulties companies face within the EU are largely language and culture related rather than legal.

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Single_Market

And quite often Amazon will even ship within Europe. Many articles on Amazon UK have a note that delivery will take 2-3 days instead of 1 day, which is always a sign that they ship it from a warehouse somewhere else in Europe (mostly Germany).

And this seems to work for FBA articles as well. But they can handle that due to their own logistic network. Parcels within Europe are still rather expensive, compared to a domestic Parcel. I can still send articles much cheaper from London to Inverness (Scotland) than to Brussels, even though Brussels is closer.

But that's probably just a function of the low B2C trade across borders, which leads to a sparse delivery network.

And the EU has the equivalent:


Are those two equivalent though? As I understand the Schengen Area is about freedom of movement whereas the Commerce Clause is about, well, commerce.

No, they are not really. Schengen is mostly about border controls. For example, Switzerland is in Schengen but they are not part of the EU customs zone, so goods cannot be freely moved across the border (although there are a lot of bilateral treaties to make this easier).

But the EU has their own version of the Commerce Clause, the Common Market.

How would you suggest going about overcoming these differences? I live in the EU. I've thought about this for some time and I can't really think of a scalable approach.

One aspect of the problem is taxes and regulations, which for the most part has to be addressed politically. The different jurisdictions are a cause for friction, too.

The even more significant barrier however is the linguistic and cultural one. It's not sufficient to just translate a say English language website to French in order to start selling in France (and providing proper idiomatic translations for each of the main EU languages is difficult enough). There are cultural differences right down to which website designs are popular in any given EU country at a time. You often can tell where a website is 'located' just by looking at its design.

I've been living in the EU (Croatia) now for three years and I'm honestly baffled that people here think that these are legitimately barriers to trade. As another commenter noted: We're all using GMail and AirBnB and Etsy, despite our "cultural differences".

I think that, in the quest for a cheaper laptop, people won't care much that the product description isn't a grammatically perfect rendering of their local Norwegian subdialect. In fact, I bet a site that mandated English (I know, shudder all you want, but it's true) as the language for sellers would mop up here. Everybody 40 and younger (AKA "your target market") speaks/reads English flawlessly.

Taxes and regulations? Big problem. Totally agree with you. This is probably what's kept Amazon such a bit player in Europe.

Cultural and linguistic differences? Not a major issue.

Taxes and regulations shouldn't be a problem. If you send an article from Croatia to Germany, you won't have to worry about any regulations or taxes that are different from sending it within Croatia. But any non-express parcel will take 3+ days and cost at least 3x as much, which is why people prefer to buy domestic.

Then the opportunity could be creating a company that solves these problems for other companies.

So, a consultancy company then? Which we all know only scales with the number of employees.

Most people in Europe use Gmail, right? So they must already have figured out this stuff.

No, I don't think that's necessary. It immediately seems like a platform specifically designed to support things like EU-wide compliance, marketing, payments and other business functions could potentially be beneficial to a wide variety of businesses.

Selling Gmail (ad's or hosted apps) isn't intra-EU trade (in so far as Google's an American company headquartered in Mountain View, though they do have many offices in the EU).

The implication of a consultancy company is that their work is done ad-hoc and in a one-off fashion, requiring lots of work from the company which stupidly only scales with the number of employees.

Software that successfully automated away the most toilsome parts of the job, allowing a handful of people to support intra-EU between any of the 28 member countries would do quite well.

So, a consultancy company then?


It's actually shocking there's not a EU wide Amazon.

Or telling, perhaps?

Bezos is infamous for his ego, and I think he just doesn't see it.

Actually, I think that this is the chink in Amazon's armor, the bare patch on Smaug's underside.

Only a few European countries have Amazon stores and the brand loyalty for them isn't strong. A single EU store would become quickly popular and has the potential to be bigger than Amazon, given that the EU is larger than the US in market size.

There is, it's Amazon. They're closing in on $20 billion in European sales, growing at double digits, with something like 50,000 employees. If you look at what they're doing in Europe, Amazon is getting more aggressive by the year in terms of expanding and investing there.

I use Amazon in Europa a LOT, but funny enough it is not ONE amazon in EU, it is many - and I have to search for products on all of them, because what is available in amazon.de might not be available in amazon.co.uk. And there are obviously language barriers - and having to do math to convert currencies etc. It is anything but smooth right now - unless you are in one of the countries, that have their own amazon.tld, of course.

I want amazon.eu, where I can filter by products, that can actually be shipped to my EU country - one stop shopping. I would probably stop buying online from local shops in my country entirely.

"I want amazon.eu, where I can filter by products, that can actually be shipped to my EU country"

100 hundred times this! I avoid using Amazon just for their shipping information stupidity - I have to use checkout to be able to see if selected item can be shipped to my country. I find it funny and bizarre that it's easier to order online from China (which is half the World away) than from neighboring countries that belong to the same free trade zone. Ebay has an "EU only" search option, but it's useless as Ebay itself has become smaller Aliexpress cousin with same items and higher prices.

I think most people buy their stuff from amazon.co.uk or if they happen to be in Germany then maybe also amazon.de

The store segmentation is created by amazon themselves and doesn't really make sense.

Exactly. Amazon.de does bot ship the majority of stuff to switzerland. Amazon.it however does but i cant speak italian

You can switch Amazon.de to English from the account settings; is that not the case with Amazon.it?

I think its possible, but product titles and descriptions dont care.

And a small European country like Ireland doesn't get its own Amazon store so they have to rely on Amazon.co.uk, where everything is priced in Sterling (not Euro). Irish customers can't avail of Amazon Prime, shipping times take longer etc. A federated Amazon.eu with a continent-wide distribution network may help. Goods priced in Euro certainly would.

Yeh it's a joke seeing as they are based here. And so many of us have to use Parcel Motel service to send things to Northern Ireland and have it driven down. Surely Amazon can make a little extra margin by doing that itself.

1. Get a pair of really giant hands 2. Repeat the bit "seeing as they are based here" and make really giant air quotes when you say "based" 3. Profit (without tax)

which is ironic, given the size of Amazon investment in Ireland.


Did you try Amazon.de and switch language to English? I'm just wondering.

I guess that different articles and longer delivery times than amazon.co.uk are a reason to prefer the UK version.

I think what the poster was saying is that the major sites are still country-specific, like I moved to Germany and here I use amazon.de, amazon.uk is a different site, so is amazon.fr, etc.

You could most likely make a decent living just handling VAT calculations and registration for companies.

I've been looking into this a bit, but put off by the fact that EU VAT for digital products isnt really being enforced upon US companies, so not sure there is much of a market for it. Also, as a brit I'm not sure how brexit might screw up the business model.

And refunds for ex-EU corps

It's amazing how much you pay for UK products in Germany, way way more than the cost of shipping. Of course that particular opportunity will be gone soon, but I'm sure there are other routes.

The UK is not in the EU (and was never in Schengen), so you pay customs along as well as shipping.

The UK is in the EU, so you shouldn't be paying customs.

Aha, the process of the UK leaving the EU is expected be triggered at the end of next month. Apologies.

And it won't leave for at least another 2 years, longer with a transitional period.

To what extent does the EU need to substantially consolidate language further to become more effective? There are two dozen major languages spoken in the EU. Nearly half of the EU can't communicate well with the other half because they share no common language. How do you get the EU to pursue a standardization of language, such that ~95% of people in the EU are fluent in at least one EU-wide common language (whether Spanish, English or other)?

A large part of the EU population below a certain age is reasonably fluent in English already. It's only a matter of time until that part amounts to 95%.

Still, the language of commerce in a country for the most part is the official language of that country. I'm not sure as to what can be done about that.

Beside the old generation from the former eastern block (who studied Russian instead of English) pretty much everyone speaks enough English to communicate.

I've traveled to EU a lot and even in a country like France I had zero problems getting by.

"I've traveled to EU a lot and even in a country like France I had zero problems getting by."

Only if you travel along established tourist routes. Go to a local marketplace or try to ask for directions in a smaller town and you will find it hard in many EU countries. Yes, in Northern countries even most elders speak English fluently, but in South I have had many situations where finding a single English speaking person was a challenge (notably in Greece and Italy).

I don't believe it. I live in Croatia and everybody under 30 speaks English beautifully. Almost everybody under 40 speaks functional English. Most people under 50 understand commercial English, even if their grammar is shit.

You probably didn't struggle to find an English-speaking person. You struggled to find a person willing to speak English with you. That's a subtle, but important, difference.

Most of my neighbors pretend not to understand English around tourists because it saves them enormous hassle. At first, I was appalled when I realized this. Now, I confess to doing it myself. It gets exhausting answering the same questions from unresourceful tourists over and over again.

Locals don't want to be your tour guide. They just want to enjoy their coffee in peace.

Agreed. English might be a de-facto standard to some extent and many people use it if they have to. But the truth is, people are lazy and most people find it easy to communicate in their mother tongue and tedious to communicate in English.

Look at what happened to facebook when they started offering localized versions, their growth suddenly exploded over here.

I believe this will take a long time, and it certainly is a major barrier.

That language is already English. Most young people can at least read and write basic English.

But that's a political problem. After the UK quits, only Ireland has English as their native language. While it's easiest to use English across the EU, it's not really desired to have a trade language that is different from all major languages spoken.

And in addition to that, even though most young people can communicate well in English doesn't mean they want to shop in an English store. You need to have a very good proficiency (probably C2) to know the English words for all articles you have in your household.

But translating a website shouldn't be a big deal anyway.

I disagree it's a political problem. Or in other words, it's only a problem if you put politics in it.

Let me tell you an old story. I'm spanish. We had in the late 90's a mail list about the Delphi programming environment. Delphi was made by Borland, a private company that had translated the IDE to French and German.

At a certain moment there was a vocal group in the list that very insistently demanded that everybody made a petition to Borland to create a Spanish translation of the IDE (the manuals had already been translated). I didn't care, not only because I had already read every manual when Delphi was released, before they were translated, but also because I believed that any pro should know enough English to move around, instead of depending on the ones that had already done the job.

I tried to stay away from the discusion until a friend tried to force my hand very publicly with the argument that Spanish was no less important than English in culture or number of speakers or quality programmers... the political problem!

So I had to answer the obvious: English was not only important to communicate with English speakers. I can talk with people from Sweden, Russia, Poland, Greece... instead of learning a dozen languages. It's not a matter of what should be, it's a matter of what is!

And that was twenty years ago. Today my teen son has no problem chatting in Minecraft with people all around the world.

About shopping in an English store, they do. Google Translate works great if there's a problem. There is that musical instruments shop that everybody uses and another of bikes, both in Germany. People are used to the English words for that stuff anyway. The difficult thing, even in local shops is hearing many terms translated. What is a "flanger" called in Spanish? No idea. Or a "chorus", etc. We just used that as is. Household stuff are in local stores, no need to shop them online.

Anyway, if you look a little above, you'll see my comment that I think it would be a good idea to create a company that help other companies to operate in a multinational space. I was thinking more on taxes and regulations, but of course decent translations would be nice to have.

Creative tools. Everyone is so obsessed with content consumption tools and making TV out of internet, with deprecating desktop in favor of handhelds where you tap ads and take selfies with dog faces.

For graphics, everyone still use Adobe products which are not that bad but still few had changed in Photoshop and Illustrator from 1991.

For music, DAWs are not that bad and there's no single monopolist like Adobe, but VST system is stinky and stuck in times of Windows 95. People are buying hardware synths (which are just computers running software) only because software on these embedded computers runs reliably, but VSTs crash, freeze every time and require hardware license keys plugged into parallel port. Also, everything inside is complete black magic and every supplier of software pretends that there are super secret algorithms everywhere. Every oscillator and filter is super-secret and super-unique and there's no articles in the open how to design "decent" oscillator and filter. Medival times everywhere.

And these tools should be designed for users, not Entertainment Content Production Corporations.

Your reply is pretty far off base, IMO.

Creative Suite has evolved leaps and bounds since 1991. It has even evolved leaps and bounds in the last 10 years alone. It's strange to me that someone who really uses Adobe's products would say such a thing. Creative Suite is the only one in the game because it's SO good that there isn't a chance for a competitor to step in. They are also constantly adding new tools to the suite at no additional cost.

As for DAWs, I happen to produce music and have used most of the major DAWs over the last 15 years, though I've settled on Ableton Live. I have zero problems with VSTs crashing, and I often run projects with 50+ VSTs running simultaneously. Stolen VSTs can have stability issues, of course. Hardware dongles are also fairly rare. Only a handful of companies use them, and they aren't really a problem at all as long as you aren't in the habit of stealing software. They typically install in the USB port, not the parallel port. Parallel port dongles were used by Steinberg and were phased out long ago.

I'm curious - what DAWs in particular have you used, and which VSTs are you having problems with?

> For graphics, everyone still use Adobe products which are not that bad but still few had changed in Photoshop and Illustrator from 1991.

As a designer I can tell you Serif is doing great things already. Affinity Designer is a solid Illustrator replacement, most of my printed work for clients comes out of that. People are excited about Affinity Photo and Publisher, which are Photoshop and InDesign replacements.

Not to mention UI/UX which is pretty much dominated by Sketch, with very few people using the Adobe equivalent (Xperience Design or whatever it's called).

The biggest issue is compatibility though: the vast majority of teams exchange files in .psd, .ai, .indd which are proprietary formats, so there's lots of reluctance to change and difficulties collaborating if someone uses a different thing. It's a bit like Microsoft Office versus all the other formats, open or not.

My illustrator friend uses manga studios, he loves it:


Manga Studio is quite awesome, one of my favorite pieces of creative software ever. I wish it could be used to make vector art too - then I'd never need anything else.

> People are buying hardware synths (which are just computers running software) only because software on these embedded computers runs reliably, but VSTs crash, freeze every time and require hardware license keys plugged into parallel port.

I only know about guitar pedals, but aren't a good portion of these analog through and through?

Not really. Real true analog gear is pretty rare these days. Even Roland's recreation of their famous TB-303 is using what they call Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) which emulates the original components in software:


A fun true-analog synth which is pretty fun for a reasonable price is the MicroBrute: https://www.arturia.com/products/hardware-synths/microbrute

A friend and I are actively working on innovating in the context of DAWs and music production, we're specifically trying to modernize the discovery and accessibility of plugins. Nice to see DAWs mentioned here - there's a lot that could be improved in the field and we're hoping to tackle several outstanding issues in the near future.

(If anyone's interested, hit the second link in my profile.)

Don't you think it's a bit unethical to collect email addresses with the promise of a download, only to tell the user that the download isn't even available. But hey - thanks for giving us your email!

That's on us, our bad - we intended to put the download up right around when we were finishing the site design but encountered a few last-minute bugs. This fell to the wayside, I'll fix it ASAP!

Random question since you're elbow deep in VST land... Have you seen any plugins taking advantage of GPUs? Seems like they should open up sonic complexity that you can't replicate on current hardware synths.

The audio processing loop wouldn't benefit from using the GPU because we can already hit above audible sample rates. Beefy GPU's are usually noisy too so you don't want one in your rig.

Can you elaborate more? As an Ableton and Push 2 user, I find plugins very easily accessible.

Sure! To clarify, by "accessibility" we're not just talking about the ability to find plugins, but also the price barrier for most higher-end plugins. The former isn't a huge deal (as you mentioned), but there're two sub-problems we're attacking in the latter:

1) From interviewing a lot of producers and plugin developers, our findings show that there's a bit of a vicious cycle with pricing: most hobbyist producers aren't willing to shell out the money for plugins, so they opt to pirate them instead. The plugin developers lose out on a ton of sales, so they hike the prices up to make up for lost revenue. The hobbyist producers continue to see high prices and therefore continue to pirate plugins, and the cycle starts all over again. :)

2) Most paid plugins don't offer trial versions, and when they do, they're always crippled and DRMed in some form or another. When there's no trial, users don't want to make the leap of faith and buy the plugin, and when there is, the aforementioned crippling/DRM can be quite the hindrance.

We're shooting to make the user experience better on both of these fronts by offering a more modern marketplace - you still get a nice store to browse through and read about plugins, but one of EQIP's value adds is the ability to instantly demo the full version of any plugin on the spot right within your session (and our technology's secret sauce prevents anyone from getting their hands on either the plugin or the audio).

The next step in our gameplan is to offer bundled subscriptions for plugins; you might think of Splice's rent-to-own, which is a great offering, but the pricing model is on a per-plugin basis - we're looking at various tiers of affordable pricing for access to X number of plugins depending on the tier. This way, a producer can have unlimited access to several plugins they like for one low cost (and rent-to-own can easily be added to this, we're still working on the pricing for the time being).

I hope that was a helpful brief rundown! There's a lot more to it - if you'd like to chat, you're more than welcome to email me, my email's available at my personal website (also in my profile). :)

There's a lot of cool things happening in the creative tools space. Along with the tools mentioned above, Figma is a good take on how design teams can work together (plus, it's web-based, which is just cool).

Contract Economy: There is still a significant opportunity for a Freelancer/Upwork group to exist. Something that better vets quality while not pushing for Toptal prices. I suspect you'd need to set up physical presence in the likely countries properly vet and control quality but this could easily be covered by a premium for a know quantity vs going to western rates.

Crytpo Currency: There is room for more disruption here. I suspect a currency that is both trackable and backed by a pool of commodities/currencies could be quite popular. Traceable would make theft risk reduced as money could effectively be returned if it is stolen and being backed/hedged by currencies/commodities would help with confidence.

Cargo: I'm surprised we haven't seen electric cargo ships. Even combine solar with sail as winds are favorable. This combined with auto-navigation (at least between ports) seems more easily achievable than cars yet technology is further behind.

Dockable Phone to PC (physical or even better if wireless dock): Surprised no-one has done this well yet. I can image whoever does this with really take ownership of the OS space. I always felt this could be the best route for Microsoft to re-enter the mobile space with force.

I had the same thoughts for the Contract Economy for quite a while.

I'm on a "Startup break", and started a Service Firm. While working with clients, we realized the need to serve a rather underserved section of projects, which are high enough for individual freelancers or even a small team but too low for established agencies - the $100,000 to $1M projects.

We're experimenting with some of our clients and their connections, to work with our service/marketplace where we manage the project end-to-end to make sure it is done, with other vetted teams of designers and developers. It is not 'cheap' but much more economical than traditional Agencies.

We're Beta Testing it with a small set of clients for now. For those curious, we have a sign-up page at http://www.worksigma.com/

Could you elaborate a bit on this. Looking at the site, I'm not sure how this is different from a traditional Consulting firm.

Our Service/Consulting firm's core focus is UI/UX Designs, and Frontend Engineering. We tend to get quite a bit of incoming work that are not in our core focus. We started working with other partners. We either know these partners or are introduced to us. We interview them, talked to them, worked with them (vetting them).

Our clients know that they can go on a vacation while we work on their projects. They wanted that same experience while working with the partners that we introduced. So, we end up handling the client's project and make sure it gets done via these partners.

Work Sigma is borne out of this patterns, and process that we followed. We want to grow this, formalize it, and be able to provide a good service to clients and make them happy. One of the marketing taglines that we tossed around our team is, "Agency in the Cloud".

btw, A friend told me there is something similar at UpWork - https://www.upwork.com/pro/. This is nice - the market is tested and proven.

> Something that better vets quality while not pushing for Toptal prices.

Why do you think this is possible?

That's pretty much exactly what Toptal or other premium shops like Gigster do: vet remote developers to ensure high quality.

The idea that you can get great developers from India for rock-bottom rates is mostly a fallacy.

Don't know about Gigster but the first step of Toptal's vetting process is about solving algorithmic puzzles. That's probably inevitable because they need something that scales. However it's so different from what developers do at work that its relationship to quality is very weak. Actually, it could be negatively related because I would have excelled at those puzzles at university, exactly when I didn't have the expertise to write good software. And the one or two of times per year when I have to solve a puzzle I take my time and solve it. Maybe slower but the rest of my work is so much better that it more than makes up for that.

Want a better vetting quality? Look at previous work and read code. It doesn't scale unless you put more people at that but maybe somebody can think about an AI for that.

> The idea that you can get great developers from India for rock-bottom rates is mostly a fallacy.

Yes, at rock-bottom rates(< $25/hr), it is. But >$25/hr starts becoming good money for local Indian developers and you can start comparing them to the good developers in the west (>$50/hr).

That's just my opinion having worked in the industry for a while and seen both sides of that market.

I see Toptal as more of a body shop. 10x is the premium provider.

Cargo ships don't have enough free surface area to mount the number of solar panels that would be needed for propulsion. Sails are already being used on a few ships but they only save a small percentage of fuel.

I wouldn't write it off.

There could be could add battery storage to be used during the journey. They could include wind turbines to add further power generation.

Also ships can go slower. In my limited knowledge of boats every extra knot takes significantly extra fuel. If we were bringing multiple power sources 'slow' cargo may be viable. And the has to be other ways to increase this function.

And there is always hybrid. Not all power has to be renewable sources. A solution could start with supplementing diesel driven thrust with some lower cost green power. Given diesel is 70% of shipping operating cost that seems a potential option.

I think the number one obstacle to this is it would be nowhere near viable from the costs perspective.

No one really wants to build cargo ships right now, shipping companies are barely staying afloat right now because there is a glut of cargo capacity.

This technology would need to be cheap enough that it would make sense to retrofit a ship with it... which would probably not be the case for a very long time.

I do think it's a very thought provoking idea however.

I was under the impression that cargo capacity is currently expanding. Maersk is taking delivery of 11 new ships within the next year and a half: http://theloadstar.co.uk/maersk-refines-fleet-second-generat...

I'm under the impression that both are true. There is overcapacity in the shipping market, which drives down prices. Because prices are low, shippers are investing in ever larger (more efficient) vessels, in order to turn a profit. This in turn leads to more overcapacity, which leads to a drive for even larger and more efficient ships.

It's a type of 'tragedy of commons' situation, where every shipping company is making the right decisions from their individual perspective, but collectively they're driving themselves into the ground.

For me this explains the rise of slow-steaming. It makes a lot of sense in this market because it lowers the cost of shipping a container (less fuel), while simultaneously reducing the market capacity (# of containers / year).

Finally, very few shipping companies make money on the major lines (e.g. China to Europe), because it's pure price competition. They're much more likely to make money in places where they have a 'monopoly' on something: e.g. being the only ship that leaves in the next 3 days, or being the only shipper going to a specific location. For example inter-Africa shipping falls in this category.

An additional detail is also the expansion of the panama canal which allowed more and larger ships to travel through it cutting down the travel time for larger cargo ships eliminating a primary advantage of smaller vessels.

However ironically though, these mega vessels are considered with quite a bit of disdain by many in the industry. This link can provide quite the rabbit hole of information. http://www.supplychain247.com/article/state_of_ocean_contain...

> I was under the impression that cargo capacity is currently expanding

Further exacerbating the problem with the glut of cargo capacity.

Those ships were ordered a long time ago.

Norsepower provides modern sails: "a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship."

"When the wind conditions are favourable, Norsepower Rotor Sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions while providing the power needed to maintain speed and voyage time. Rotor sails can be used with new vessels or they can be retrofitted to existing ships."


I love that you posted an 'in the wild' solution. So many people saying this is not possible. And then someone has found a creative way to offer one alternate. Such a good example of dont listen to the nay-sayers if you want to mentally explore something. There are almost always solutions and I'm sure there are more for this one.

No one said it wasn't possible. Clearly, it's possible since ships were wind powered for millenia. The problem is that with very low fuel costs, it's not feasible because the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

Sure sails will be used for some limited applications. But Magnus effect cylinders won't be practical for the majority of cargo ships because they consume valuable deck space and interfere with loading operations. They would only make sense if hydrocarbon fuel becomes much more expensive.

Unfortunately the energy density of batteries is really bad (in the bigger picture) and, besides, we're supposed to be using weight for cargo. Tankers also burn very nasty fuels that can't be used for anything else - so in practice they're very efficient.

There have been cracks at putting "sails" of one form or another on ships but they've always been heavy, relatively ineffective and basically just not worth the hassle.

The speed of a ship is actually quite easy to work out. You find the time/value curve for the cargo and the cost/time for the ship and see where they cross - essentially. The long and short of it is that the lighter and more valuable your cargo is, the faster the ship goes. This is why container ships are much faster than oil tankers.

I've heard that cargo ships are currently prevented from going much slower because of the human crew. Drone ships could help.

The human crew isn't much of a factor in cargo ship speed. Ship owners would be happy to leave their crews out at sea a week longer if it was profitable.

Drone ships won't be practical any time soon because of maintenance problems. Crews spend much of their time at sea performing preventative maintenance, painting, and fixing broken equipment. With a drone ship all of that work would have to be done at the pier which would be far more expensive than paying a crew.

Then why don't they go slower? I would expect many cargoes aren't incredibly time sensitive.

They are already slow steaming on many routes. Ship owners aren't idiots; they have software to perform constrained optimization calculations to figure out the steaming speed which will maximize profit on each leg. This is based on fuel price, crew wages, asset depreciation, delivery contracts, etc.

I wonder if they could use an underwater wing design, similar to this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5SHn0SdXjw). You keep swapping the angle of the wing so it's always pushing forward whether the vessel is moving up or down, but it would be powered by the waves moving the ship. It might be possible to get a slow base load speed for 'free' with a large enough wings

Container ships are already going slower:


I suspect nuclear (be it fission or - someday - fusion) would be much more viable for powering something at that scale in a "post-petroleum" scenario. There already are a couple fission-powered cargo ships out there, IIRC.

The problem is that safe disposal of nuclear fuel is nontrivial.

There are bigger problems with nuclear powered cargo ships than just waste disposal. They would need larger crews of highly trained (more expensive) experts to operate the reactor. Look at how much the US Navy spends to train competent technicians and engineers.

Every nuclear powered ship becomes a prime terrorist target, either to hijack it or destroy it in place and cause a radiological incident. So you also need constant armed security (also expensive).

A more practical way to have "nuclear powered" ships would be to use electric power from land based nuclear plants to manufacture synthetic hydrocarbon liquid fuels, then load that fuel on the ships. Nuclear plants on land are far more cost effective since they can be built much larger to achieve economies of scale on operations and security.

On the subject of highly trained nuclear operators from the Navy, what's the job market look like for those guys after they leave the service? Where else are you going to find a nuclear-powered ship where you can put your experience to work?

Seems like a natural fit. For almost everything in the military, IMO there should be some market in the private space that could use those skills.

Some of them stay 30 years in the service and then retire. Others go to work for civilian nuclear power plants, or the vendors which service and supply them. And there aren't very many trained operators to begin with. The US Navy has <90 nuclear powered vessels (plus a few separate reactors for training and research).

I'd like to add that cargo ships, while being very efficient in terms of how much they can transport over a unit distance given unit energy, require enormous amounts of energy.

See some resources:

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_efficiency_in_transport...

- https://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch8en/conc8en/fuel_c...

Why not have solar modules in a shipping container form factor. (Maybe shorter in height though) and stack those at the top layer when loading the ship.

You could probably even find some ingenious way to run the current through the containers stacked umderneath to route the power. They are made of metal.

Shipping companies don't own the containers. Solar panels would get broken when they were transferred to shore. Panels and cabling would add more weight to the highest level of the cargo stacks: the worst place for ship stability. And even if you covered the entire top level with solar panels it still wouldn't provide enough propulsion power to be worth the expense.

I believe that is why he/she said they haven't seen someone do this well yet...

Absolutely. I've looked at the solutions so far by Ubuntu, MS and Android (Andromium app). None have floated my boat.

I feel its like Palm vs. iPhone. Sure Palm was earlier to market with a reasonable solution, but someone needed to nail it.

How would this look to you?

I was thinking recently that I'd like a liberated Android, found CopperheadOS, but I'm still not sure I'd like to use it on the desktop.

> Dockable Phone to PC

Microsoft has done this already but thanks to their poor marketing and crappy Windows phones, no one even knows about it.

The problem with using sails is speed. On average, cargo ships travel approximately three to four times faster than sailing ships (20 to 24 knots vs. 5 to 8 knots).

I came across this article that said they are often slower, the larger cargo ships at least.


Dockable Phone to PC: I agree there is market there. I was on a project about this some time ago and the limiting factor was all the cable mess that cluttered your desk. Women loved the product because it meant _far_less_ weight on their purses. Both men and women wanted something didn't cluttered their work desks (and I understand them ;-)

Physical space for lounging, socializing, and working. I live in NYC and there's still a striking lack of space that facilitates people getting out of their apartments and doing "whatever." Starbucks popularized the concept of the "third space" (the first two being housing + workplace) and I think there's so much room to improve upon this.

Yep. I've thought about this off and on.

I lived in Taipei for a couple of years. The "third space" is super common there. People would hang out at coffee shops (loads and loads of coffee shops), get "afternoon tea" with friends, or go to a park or even a subway station lobby and socialize.

The Taipei metro even embraced it and set up specific places / spaces for shopping or socializing (that were dual purpose rather than simply being a corridor).

I feel like this is missing in the US, and genuinely miss wandering around with my backpack for a Saturday. It was a load of fun to head out for an early lunch, go find some random coffee shop to "work" (aka "surf the web and people watch"), then find a place for a beverage and maybe go see a movie or have dinner. Those days were genuinely the most fulfilling, especially when I'd run into random acquaintances.

Bringing it back, a river runs through downtown Austin with a great hike / bike trial along it. There aren't really many cafes (I can think of one) along about 10 miles of trail that are good "destinations" to wander toward while enjoying the scenery.

I have always thought it would be neat if there were an isolated stretch of businesses along the river. If Mozart's was on the bank somewhere between Lamar and Congress, it would be a great destination.

There's Alta's Cafe [1] near the Rainey street end of the river. That's just about the only one, however. TBH - since you seem to know the area - what do you think about a coffee stand under the 1st street bridge? [2]

[1] https://www.yelp.com/biz/altas-cafe-austin

[2] https://goo.gl/maps/FALgvtUESnu

I say don't ruin the trails with business. There is something to be said for the absence of someone trying to sell you something. Enjoy some nature in the city, there isn't much of it.

Related: physical space that welcomes the elderly. Loneliness/depression is a huge problem for older people. I think it would really boost wellbeing for these people to participate in something and to see other faces.

Agreed. Interestingly, it seems McDonalds ends up being the physical space that plays this role for a lot of older folks, both in urban areas (Koreans in Queens, NYC) and rural areas (Chris Arnade has done a lot of interesting documenting of this phenomenon).

From what I see, there are plenty of services for people who want to utilize them. Church is a popular one. So are community centers. And a plethora of social clubs. Or a cheap cafeteria. Getting elderly people out of their house and into social situations is the challenge. At some point, VR could have a real impact on this problem space.

Not just the elderly.

I think there will be a growing need for things like this if housing spaces continue to get smaller (and cheaper). I think a service that offers several revenue streams would do well (and able to adapt to a changing market). Perhaps food and necessities could be sold, maybe part entertainment space (part arcade, coffee shop, sports bar, movie theater). Sort of a public living room. Maybe a modern take on the old fraternal clubs.

May be a bit early yet for this though. Would tend to displace other "hang-out" locations and businesses, so might be best to fit in with what's there (bars?), but offer something new and different (so people have an idea to anchor on rather than going entirely new concept).

These are common in immigrant neighborhoods (especially Chinese)—plenty of "clubs" (not dancing clubs) with activities but also just places to hang out.

Bakeries also fit this description in those neighborhoods.

WeWork [1] has done this pretty well and is already open around the country.


That's really marketed as a co-working space -- and while there's nothing wrong with that, I can't imagine using it as a "third-space". I can't imagine telling my friends to meet up there to play a board game or talk philosophy.

This is exactly what spacious.com in NYC is working on, a network of coffee / meeting lounges across the city, inside really nice restaurant dining rooms that are otherwise closed until dinner service. (big disclaimer: I'm the cofounder).

Love it! (Little pricey in my opinion), but I can't tell you how often I've walked in and out of coffee shops just hoping to find an available seat - somewhere around other humans.

Your spaces look amazing! However, why are they closed after 5 and on the weekend? That's about the only time I would want to use a space like this.

Boston's space like this (The Lawn on D) is extremely popular. It's even a running joke that most young people on a dating site/app in Boston have a picture of them at the Lawn on D somewhere in their profile.

I believe it's owned by a local bank, but I don't know if it makes money (or if it's intended to). Entry is free normally, sometimes there are non-free ticketed concerts and a cash bar.

I'd like to see the likes of Airport lounges that are not in the airport. Especially if it could use my priority pass to access them too.

So perhaps a sort of gentleman's club (not that sort) for the younger generation?

I'd love to have an accessible chill out place I could go to just to get some work done, preferably with a good view of something. No music playing, just quiet and the ability to get a coffee and simple food if necessary.

Google Campus in London does this, but isn't that comfortable for long periods (plus it's absolutely packed).

> Gentleman's club

This is what most closely resembles what I want! Of course, in 2017 it'd be for everyone.

We could even be like those strange upper class British clubs that don't allow people to talk to each other.

I'm surprised San Francisco doesn't have a number of these. It seems like exactly the sort of thing SF would have.

Consider a fraternal order like the elks, Mason's or odd fellows. They'd love to have more members and often, despite the name, welcome both sexes.

I use Regus business lounges for this. They have office spaces in most major cities all around the world (at least 15 in San Francisco alone). You pay a reasonable fee per month (around $100, although you can also get free if you look for the right offers) and you basically get access to a lite coworking space, with desks, power outlets, a kitchenette stocked with coffee/tea/snacks, good Wi-Fi, etc. Sometimes people use it for meetings (I've overheard more than a few VC pitches in San Francisco) or just getting things done. I also use it when I'm traveling in a place that doesn't have reliable Wi-Fi or clean water and I need a break to relax and be productive. Western style clean bathrooms in China are good perk as well!

Isn't this just a café?

That's the idea - but most cafes (at least in Boston) can't handle that sort of volume - you're going to get stink eyes if you settle in for more than an hour or two. Wish it was more welcomed (as I've seen more common in Europe / small towns) to be welcome as long as they have seats.

Anti-cafes [1] sidestep this conflict by charging their visitors by the minute and offering unlimited tea, coffee and sweets while they stay there. It is, or it recently was, a hot non-technical business to run in many post-Soviet big cities.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-caf%C3%A9

Not every cafe will accept people working there.

What is a reasonable price to pay for this kind of service, including the coffee if the place requires you to consume it?

There's a cafe near me in Brooklyn that has a nice interior space and free wifi. It's always packed and everyone brings a laptop. Coffee prices are normal if not a bit low for high-end coffee (their coffee is really good). They serve snacks, but not much else. I have no idea how they turn a profit with all the people lounging for hours with a little espresso or cup of tea. There's a morning rush, but it's really small compared to places nearer the subway.

> It's always packed and everyone brings a laptop.

This is the problem with NYC coffee shops. They're place to go talk with a friend for a bit or for a first date. They're not really places to casually hang out all day.

Cool! What's it called?

Sounds like The West

Isn't this just coffee lounges?

Basically Breather?

Doesn't this describe most modern hotel lounges?

I think this is a wrong question, or at least oversimplified view. The real recipe is to be highly qualified on whatever you do and ready to catch an opportunity and ride on an emerging trend. Today the buzzwords are about security, a few years ago it was about services for selfies of teens. On a larger scale there is already biotech bubble and emerging AI bubble, etc.

Basically, the strategy should be to follow the money (the demand) and to love what you do (be above average). This, it seems, the most probable way to get noticed, to get funding (for abilities) and to succeed. The markets are stochastic.

For example, if you ask yourself, how come that such piles of Java crap as Hadoop came to be so popular, the answer would be that the biotech industry has almost unlimited hot money that time and huge demand for big data processing tools, so even such poorly designed and implemented by amateurs crap would be a good-enough tool.

Suppose, I would like to make a similar tool, order of magnitude less wasteful, based on ideas from Plan9, Erlang, based on ZFS, etc, in other works, do it the right way, would I get any funding? No, because there is no real demand for quality solution when a crappy one is OK. There are exceptions, of course, how, for example, nginx became a well-crafted improvement over apache, but this is indeed an exception.

So, go to the valley and keep looking. There, it seems, no other way. The principle is that there must be a strong demand backed by big money (Wall Street investors), so even a half-backed result could be easily sold and re-used to return investments and even make some profit.

Older people.

We live in a rapidly ageing society. Retirees are a large and wealthy demographic. Despite that, tech companies are absolutely woeful at designing products for older users. We don't empathise with their needs. We don't understand how poor eyesight, arthritis or cognitive difficulties can affect UX. There's a huge amount of pent-up demand and excellent opportunities for future growth.

Older people, yes, but a slightly different perspective.

We should be ensuring that our increasingly ageing population is housed, fed, warm, cared for, in touch with friends and relatives, free from pain and depression, has access to medication, and can live with dignity. The elderly should be actively involved in and by their communities.

One day you'll meet your rocking-chair, because that's where we're all heading. It's galling that start-ups and investors seek to service their young selves with apparently little vision regarding the future.

Who's disrupting nursing homes, or dementia care, or care home staffing, or toileting assistance, or end of life depressiom..?

I've been thinking a lot about this recently.

There are certain near-future technologies like self-driving cars and robotic home care that could revolutionise the lives of the old. I think that's a given, but they have a relatively high barrier to entry.

At the other end of the scale there must be pure (or almost pure) software solutions that could help older peoples' lives also.

I've been thinking of Alexa-style AIs that actually perform useful tasks such as pre-screening scam phone calls, alerting the user about important emails, or proactively helping the user perform a bank transaction. This could be useful for everyone, but when an old person can barely read emails, never mind sort important ones from the scams and junk, I think it would be a godsend.

The devil is of course in the detail. As a high-level concept it all sounds great, but how would it actually work? I've been imagining a kind of "meta-OS" that sits on top of the OS and drives it on the user's behalf. Or perhaps it should be more like a netbook, with all the actual content kept in the cloud, and the AI as a thin client dedicated solely to allowing easy access to the data. There are a lot of possible way for this to work, and a huge number of problems to solve...

Your mention of a meta-OS and putting all the content in the cloud made me think of ChromeOS.

Seniors probably don't think about putting all their content in the cloud, don't think about inheritance of their online account, and don't think about their OS either.

Sounds like an opportunity?

Tinder for seniors. The one dating segment where the women significantly outnumber the men.

You're dead on with this. Older users are a potential goldmine but they can be hard customers. Even as I age I see how much harder it is to sell me anything.

I do agree. But what specific areas do you think would be good to target? You mention their poor eyesight and difficult UX, but that doesn't mean we should start creating Facebook or Twitter clones with bigger fonts and easier UX? (or should we?)

> But what specific areas do you think would be good to target?

Almost everything.

Here's an experiment you can try. Stay up for two nights in a row. Have a few drinks. Put on a pair of ear defenders, a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription and a pair of leather gardening gloves. Try to go about your daily life. You'll very quickly see plenty of industries that are ripe for disruption.

The man-made world is overwhelmingly designed by and for the not-yet-disabled. We build overly complex interfaces with too many options and too few affordances. This makes life difficult for everyone, but it can totally exclude people with impairments.

Nobody realised how awful smartphones were until the iPhone arrived. I think that most products and services are just as awful as a Windows Mobile phone circa 2005, but we have become inured to their awfulness. We're drowning in unnecessary complexity, in large part because we don't expect anything better.

It is interesting that you bring up the iPhone as a positive example of better accessibility. I always thought that physical buttons which could quickly become muscle memory and relatively simple function were way more usable for the demographics in question.

One important area is social connections. After you pass 50 years of age the people you're close to begin to die off or become noncommunicative at an ever-growing rate.

Health issues begin to interfere increasingly with opportunities to make new friends--there are increasing numbers of activities that you simply can't do anymore. Isolation increasingly becomes a problem, and isolation is a serious health hazard for older people, affecting mental health and posing a hazard to physical health.

Platforms that make it easier for older people to stay in touch with one another, to meet new people safely, and to develop networks of trust and assistance could make a huge difference in the quality of people's lives.

A good example of this kind of thinking is GoGoGrandparent which is a service that lets older people, who might not understand how to use a smartphone app, use Uber by allowing them to call a number instead.

Hackers rarely think of politics as playing field for startups, so in my mind this one of the biggest untapped opportunity right now. People from both sides are going nuts over Trump politics. That means tons of eyeballs and attention that would be available for the right startups for next 4 years. Things like BuzzFeed and DailyXYZ are going to make a massive killing in terms of ad revenue. At this stage still the real disruptive startup are few and far between. Nice thing is that you might actually end up doing something good and impactful. If Zuck runs for president, may be even big exit ;).

I can think of few ideas right away:

- website that gives stories from other side

- activist website that uses better tactic than "getting signatures"

- know how your congressman votes on each of the vote

- automatic ratings generator for congressman

- news article that only comes from international press

- software for politicians: campaign management, voter management, political ad management etc

I'm doing exactly this, spreading the opportunity to legally own a firearm in Poland (https://braterstwo.eu). It's a Wordpress plugin, php scripts and a bit of legal stuff (creating a NGO, bank account with automatic payment identifications, etc).

It allows lots of people (thousands now) to obtain a permit. Poland has the lowest quantity of firearms in the whole Europe (and one of the lowest in the world). Taking the current mood around us now (terror attacks, war in Ukraine and possibly -- god I hope not -- other eastern countries) and the obvious coolness of legally owning a firearm i think it's a good initiative. Legal owners tend to be more law abiding and more self sufficient. We need role models like that, IMO.

I encourage more programmers to automate stuff that the state messes up. It's a lot of things!

PS. My NGO only helps lawful, sane adults. No felon, no person with mental illness and no kids can obtain a gun permit in Poland.

Poland has the lowest quantity of firearms in Europe and you want to change that? A bit strange yes?

I don't think private firearms are very useful for international conflicts like Ukraine/Russia or to defeat terrorist attacks.

Poland is actually the site of one of the biggest uses of personal firearms in international conflict. The Jews held off the Nazis for about 5 months.


Might have been nice if it happened all across Poland rather than just Warsaw.

Thanks for bringing up this.

This is actually a really good example for why we don't want to ban weapons: Genocides are often perpetrated by the country the victims actually belong to.

Examples: Germany under Nazism, former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, -I'm fairly sure the list goes on.

I feel totally safe and I'm actually happy knowing that many of my neighbors have weapons. Especially here in Norway were I know there are strict background checks on who gets permits.

(For Americans: What I would do is start cooperating with NRA like Nordic countries has traditionally done with their local equivalents. Work not to prohibit guns but to promote safe storage and safe practices.)

Genocide is an extreme condition and a poor reason to extend gun ownership.

There is a very long list of countries that are doing better than fine and severely restricting gun ownership. Long before it becomes the case that you need guns to defend your space, you may want to take a long hard look at the politics of your community / country.

There is a very long list of countries that are doing better than fine and severely restricting gun ownership.

There are long lists of entities who safely ignore tail risk events - that's true almost by the definition of "tail risk".

That doesn't mean buying a cheap insurance policy against tail risk events is a bad idea.

> cheap insurance policy

in Europe, having guns widely dispersed throughout society would be considered about as expensive as it gets (and far more likely to kill the patient than offer a potential cure under very particular and exceptional conditions)

in Europe, having guns widely dispersed throughout society...

In Europe a number of countries has and has had guns widely dispersed throughout society since forever. A number of those countries are - and have used to be - very peaceful.

Source: Grew up in Europe. Could disassemble an assault rifle since I was a teenager (my father was assigned one as part of extended draft and kept that and a number of rounds at home. At some point he showed me since I was interested. He also used the opportunity to tell me how grateful I should be for peace and how he hoped he would never have to use it for real).

Gun ownership and gun deaths are minimal in Europe compared to the US. There's simply no valid debate to be had on this

>>> in Europe, having guns widely dispersed throughout society...

>> In Europe a number of countries has and has had guns widely dispersed throughout society since forever.

> Gun ownership and gun deaths are minimal in Europe compared to the US.

I think you are moving the goal posts.

> widely dispersed

I assumed it was obvious I was referring to quantity of guns in a society rather how far apart these guns were actually placed.

OK, I guess you misunderstood, I was pointing out that there is actually a large quantity of guns on private hands around Europe.

Do you have any evidence that guns cause any significant amount of harm? I've never seen studies that conclude much of anything.

Also, there are many things significantly more dangerous than guns. Should we ban those things too? If not, why not?


Yeah gun deaths in the US vs EU. (Most people from Europe would consider it a completely stupid conversation to continue this far)

The EU also has far fewer beating deaths, stabbing deaths, etc. Do you attribute that to gun control as well?

I'm aware that Europeans have their own unique culture with their own unique unsupported assumptions and myths. That's not really a substitute for evidence.

Also, you dodged the question of whether we should ban other things that are vastly more dangerous than guns. Weird.


You seem generally confused about the distinction between correlation and causation

You seem generally confused about how reason works.

I provided strong evidence that the causal relationship is {violent tendencies} -> {gun violence, fist violence, knife violence}. Your theory {gun ownership} -> {gun violence} simply does not predict the observed result; it suggests that gun violence should be high, but knife violence should be the same.

That's evidence that your theory is false and mine is true. Though I don't think you really care.

Incidentally, we can find lots of things that Europe has which the US doesn't, and equally well attribute crime differences to that. For example, the US has lots of blacks and Europe doesn't. But I'm guessing you will dodge the question of whether you support the same conclusion in this case as well.

I didn't dodge anything - your whataboutism is in fact dodging so I ignored it

It's hardly fact dodging. I assert that you don't really care about danger, all you care about is banning the cultural expressions of cultures you oppose.

Dodging a question about other dangerous activities that your own culture favors provides strong evidence that you do, in fact, not really care about danger - only winning some culture war.


> Yet more whataboutism and aspergic levels of specious reasoning.

I find this to be quite far away from the ideals of this site:

Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face-to-face conversation. Avoid gratuitous negativity.

When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."

Furthermore, using the name of a medical condition as an insult insults a whole group of unrelated individuals.

> Those two numbers are self-evidently not an unrelated random correlation - yet you seem to be claiming that they somehow are.

We have pointed out to you a number of exceptions that should raise serious doubts about the idea that gun ownership drives gun deaths. If this was the case then several countries in Europe would have similar problems, just on a smaller scale.

IMO you seem to try to brush of the opinions of anyone who disagrees with you as stupid.

That is not good form.

We are trying to argue against you in good faith but I must admit I find it frustrating.


FWIW, here is some more data: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm...

> IMO you seem to try to brush of the opinions of anyone who disagrees with you as stupid.

Well the numbers are overwhelmingly against you and a smart person would stop digging.

Your own figures show that the US is off the charts compared to EU on a) gun ownership b) gun deaths - it's a no brainer and therefore no useful debate on the merits/demerits. (I'm not going to get into US politics and it's really up to them if they want to have more deaths, but even they fall back on 2nd amendment and notions of tradition to try and justify gun ownership.)

> That is not good form.

Form fits the circumstances I'm afraid.

If the lesson of the Warsaw ghetto uprising was that guns make for safety, Poland would not have very low gun possession rates today. I think rather that the lessons learned from WWII was to avoid isolationist policies, push for a more integrated Europe, build more robust institutions and deter wars on the before they start.

I might have chosen wrong arguments, i agree. Most of the people get permits for sports or just collecting. We're not creating another Army or militia. I don't believe that a couple thousands of gun owners, with no disicpline or logistics could change the outcome of any conflict. But having a permit helps with the attitude of readiness and self sufficiency.

The times are right, because many people are researching guns now due to external factors. It's a growing market for such NGO as mine (even though i don't profit off it).

Plus, take into account that US has a very messed up situation with guns, laws and relations between groups of people. Nobody's trying to copy that over here, we have better role models.

No, but they may become extremely useful in times of civil unrest if that were to happen.

> [Firearms] may become extremely useful in times of civil unrest

Not really:

* There is always someone with a bigger gun

* There is always someone who wants to steal your gun/ammo

* There is always a bigger gang that wants to steal your gun

If your solution is to join up with others to make your gang the biggest/best armed and enforcing a monopoly on the use of violence, congratulations, you've either reinvented Warlordism, or in the best case, reinvented the idea of a police force, depending on whether or not the head of the gang answers to a civil authority whose legitimacy comes from something other than "might makes right".

All that said, I don't mean that firearms aren't at all useful, just that they aren't more useful than other important tools. You for a group to be able to defend itself you will find that basics like picks, shovels, sledgehammers, crowbars, hammer and nails, axes and hatchets, saws, ladders, wheelbarrows etc. are all at least as useful as a firearm.

Generally speaking, making the other guy waste his ammo can be a winning strategy.

Literally none of these arguments are valid in case of the actual civil unrest situations which happen, whether it's LA riots of 1992 or Somalia.

Clearly if you're planning to hold a big cache of firearms, then that becomes an incentive for other gangs to go after you, but most of the time, there are plenty of unarmed people out there which present an easier target.

The aim of firearm ownership at the time of civil unrest is to not be an easier target for bad elements. Somehow implying that by owning firearms you become a bigger target than an unarmed household is ridiculously dishonest statement.

> by owning firearms you become a bigger target than an unarmed household

That's overstating my argument.

Let me boil it down further (at the risk of some nuance being lost): Firearms are useful, but not extremely useful.

1) Firearms are not a panacea, and there are plenty of other tools that are at least as important, and a few that are more important. Lack of clean water is a lot more likely to kill you than lack of a firearm.

2) Rather than focusing on personal defense where everyone needs one or more firearms, a better approach is community defense, which at the Dunbar Limit (~ a small village) scale requires at most 1/3 of the firearms, so the resources that the other 2/3 would represent can be spent on other things.

Look I don't disagree with you, but we're talking about a Civil Unrest here (which must account for LA riots style situation), not necessarily a Jericho like situation.

In other words, if you assign a probability of 1 against a Kristallnacht scenario, then nearly all your self-defense effort should be spent on your own security and nothing on community.

On the other hand, if you assign a probability of 1 against a Jericho style scenario where either foreign invaders or neighboring town or an illegitimate federal govt attacks your town then maybe 1/3rd-2/3rd split might work.

The idea is, firearms are possibly the most effective protective measure you can use in all situations, things like clean water preparation might not help you if you're worried about Kristallnacht.

> Look I don't disagree with you, but [...]


Agree to agree to disagree on the remaining point?

P.S. I would recommend you use a generic term such as "false flag" in the future, rather than any specific historical event. There are those for whom those events have personal significance.

I'm not into the 'zombie apocalypse' type scenarios, but you can't be serious in thinking that hammers are as efective as a shotgun.

Plus, note that we only make it easier to get a permit if you're a sane, law-abiding adult.

Looks like you are driven by "coolness of legally owning a firearm". Let me show you what's not cool about owning a firearm: http://www.humanosphere.org/science/2016/06/visualizing-gun-...

For every person you encourage to get firarm, there is a fixed likelyhood that firearm would be used to kill someone innocent. It might be interesting to estimate how many innocent people have to die so you can consider yourself "cool" again. If you are data oriented person and make data based decision, you should be fairly happy with your country's choice. I'm not saying there should be blanket ban. There are certainly situations like you are getting death threats and things like that where you should be allowed to own a firearm however if you adopt US like model, too many innocent lives would be at stack to justify it in any possible way. Civilian firearms used to be mildly effective to fight wars in 1940s. In modern ware fare they are useless.

I accept the risk that some people will die doing something they like, like driving a sports car, skydiving, eating lots of red meat or shooting a gun. It's just life. People die from all things.

US model is fucked beyond recognition and nobody wants to import it. I'm rather talking about the German or French model. Both of those countries have about 10-15 times the number of guns than poland (used for hunting, sports, and so on).

- know how your congressman votes on each of the vote

If anyone from Facebook is reading, this would be a great feature for the site. Imagine following your representatives and getting their votes automatically in your newsfeed.

The real value add here would be an explanation of each piece of legislation. Merely knowing the aye or nay vote isn't very useful without understanding what the resolution is actually doing, and it's usually not obvious to the untrained reader.

> know how your congressman votes on each of the vote

Actually, the opposite may be a better way.

Our representatives votes should be secret for the same reason that the people votes is secret: prevents the voter from being intimidated and from selling his/her vote.

Interesting thought.

You know, you could also just make it illegal to "sell" votes in the way the United States currently allows? Most other Western/Democratic countries figured this out a long, long time ago.

No need to make it illegal. Votes can't be sold because they can't be confirmed (it's anonymous). That's not what they are talking about here. They are talking about representative votes and yes, it is illegal to buy/sell congressional votes. It is also not private, just like every other Western/Democratic representative government.

It's a completely different situation. Their job is to represent the people who elected them. How would you know your representative actually represents you without knowing how they vote?

It would make a great plugin for national news sites, though their internal software teams could build this feature pretty quickly themselves.

In the past six months I've seen an uptick in the number of politically motivated software projects appearing on SocialCoder.org


- CollAction [http://socialcoder.org/9dy]

- Fight Back Wisely [http://socialcoder.org/80s]

- Carpool Vote [http://socialcoder.org/8qv]

Countable is a pretty good app for tracking votes and making it easy to contact your representatives. There are also more straightforward sites that track this information, like govtrack.

https://www.countable.us/ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes

An interesting (long, rambling) read on the subject by someone from the inside: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/dominic-cummings-brexit...

I believe they open sourced some of their software after the campaign too, although not all the sophisticated ad-targeting. The message seems to be that if you target enough misleading ads at underinformed floating voters, you can shift an election.

> - know how your congressman votes on each of the vote

See theyworkforyou.com for the UK, which I believe they're trying to generalise internationally.

> - news article that only comes from international press

This is an interesting one and potentially useful. You want to see press that's not targeted advertising to you. Actually making any money from it (or any media operation) is still hard though. The best way to make money from media is to sell out as hard as possible, which is bad for reporting.

You could also think of a new political party as a startup. Run your own candidates for congress, and run for president yourself.

http://www.allsides.com/ Doesn't have voting stats, but would be a great addition

And a blockchain on information flow so you can easily backtrack fake news to its origin - with one "find origin" click.

This is the sort of thing mysociety.org does pretty well in the uk

Who would pay directly or indirectly for any of these?

Figure out a way to reduce the not-in-San-Francisco penalty for startups.

There are some very good reasons why startups flock to the bay area, including "lots of available talent" and "that's where the VCs are", but there are also problems with being in the bay area -- talent is considerably more expensive (due in part to the cost of housing) and visa issues (particularly under the current presidency) being the first two which come to mind.

If you can find some way to give non-San-Francisco startups the same advantages that San Francisco startups have -- better tools for remote workers, for example, so that companies can easily hire from anywhere rather than needing to be where the largest number of potential employees are found; or something to make VCs interested in investing in companies which aren't within a narrow radius of Sand Hill (since I've never dealt with VCs, I have no idea what such a solution would look like) -- then you'll create a huge amount of value for companies around the world and it should be easy to transfer some of that value into your pockets.

I wonder if this is really solvable by technology and tools?

In my opinion, tools for effective remote working are there. Github, Slack style communication, collaborative project management tools, CI tools in cloud. Design tools could be more collaborative, but it ain't a showstopper. Video conferencing still sucks now and then, but 50 years after the Mother of All Demos, it starts to be usable enough :)

I feel that it is something else, culture issue, that still makes teams that are physically in the same location, to perform more effectively. Fixing work culture to support remote work better is likely the key instead of tech and tools.

And money will follow: when VCs believe that remote teams and remote networking are as effective, they will invest everywhere.

Having worked with mostly remote Devs for the past 5 years as a designer I have some thoughts on this.

1) bandwidth in many parts of the world is still not nearly good enough for high quality video

2) need good inexpensive remote whiteboarding tech. The MS surface TV looks good but too expensive to fit in everyone's remote office

3) initiating remote video should (either for screen sharing or video chat) be immediate, like 3 secs max, zero friction, not something you have to schedule or spend minutes setting up - just like turning your chair to talk to someone sitting next to you in an office

Remote whiteboarding is definitely a pain.

There are a ton of online whiteboard apps, but it's hard to find a good one (know of any?).

Then there's the problem that drawing with a mouse is difficult. It's hard to quickly express ideas as boxes-and-lines without something like a drawing tablet. Wacom makes some low-end ones that are pretty affordable though (like this one[0] for ~$80). Maybe that'd be a good solution, though it does require some practice to get proficient.

[0] http://a.co/du45rQr

Figma is pretty good although for all types of design. It has real-time collaboration and perf is pretty good.

Whiteboarding specifically - don't know of any good ones. It should ideally be a collaborative multi user real time web app (websockets?), support drawing on top of uploaded images, have very large canvases you can zoom/pan, and run together with hangouts/Skype or have VoIP built in. Want to collab on building one? :)

I've used many Wacom tablets - even the cheap ones are good and pretty intuitive - no real learning curve after setup.

Yep, video conferencing still very much sucks. For starters, we need a video chat app that enables eye contact. I think it would be a big deal.

You should take a look at https://catch-eye.com It's a plug-in on top of Skype that let's you make eye contact with the other person

Nice, thanks for the link, will definitely check this out.

If the cameras are above the screen, and the subject is far enough, the eye's angle doesn't matter much.

Why do you say that? It's quite easy to see that the person on the other end isn't making eye contact, even when they think they are, looking straight in your eyes. To me, it seems like they are looking at my tits or something. It matters quite a lot. Also, FPS and resolution.

There's a long, long way to go before video conferencing feels more like an actual face-to-face conversation, and it hasn't really changed much in the past 10 years.

I mean, the main complaint against remote work seems to be that there's still no substitute for an actual face-to-face conversation. That IS a tech problem that CAN be solved with tech. The current tech is woefully inadequate.

I say that because: depending on those factors (and some others like lense type, focus etc) the difference between the angle eye/screen and eye/camera is insignificant...

You just have to draw a schema to understand.

3 to 5 meters is a good distance for a video conference.

Interesting that you think it's insignificant. A lot of group photos are taken at 3 to 5 meters away and it's immediately obvious who's looking directly into the camera and who isn't...

It's not insignificant. Humans are pretty good in determining whether someone is making eye contact or not. At 5 meters, we can easily detect a 10cm deviation in gaze direction [1].

Also, I'd like to be (or feel like I am) much closer than 5 meters when talking with someone.

[1] http://tachilab.org/content/files/publication/tp/imai200604P...

> Fixing work culture to support remote work better is likely the key instead of tech and tools.

To take it even further, is work culture even broken? It seems to me like there's already quite a lot of remote work (at least in tech) for those who make it a top priority. I wonder if the fact that it isn't the default is because most people would rather not work that way? Aside from the obvious social benefit of face to face contact with your coworkers, I find the second order effects very valuable as well - the energy in the office helps keep my excitement about the projects we're working on so I enjoy my work more (and conversely the shared commiseration when the company hits a pitfall is nice too).

Plus the scalability of remote work is dependent on living somewhere where a lot fewer people want to live - if you live in, say, Manhattan and work remotely for an SF company, you're still taking up housing someone at a NY company could be living in. Some people value being near family or nature or something above all else, but generally (by definition) most people want to live where a lot of other people want to live.

So I wonder if the underlying solution is improving cities - something like the city project YC is running, or beating the NIMBYs in places like SF so the city can actually grow to support the startups it has and more, or maybe improving transit so people from further out can commute at least some of the time into cities, etc.

This argument always comes from an non coding managers. I personally think that managers are afraid of their jobs and hence insist to come to office.

:) It is true that many managers are afraid of remote working. Because to make it effective as a manager you have to know how to evaluate the tasks and subtasks and that requires also technical skills. However the modern manager has these skills, remote working is here and it will stay. I believe the ideal teams will have both type of workers.

A related market for some of this tech: remote interviews. I've seen lots of solutions for this: collaborative code editors, hangouts, Skype etc. There are frequently problems with bandwidth and friction with coordination (handoff to other interviewers).

Solution to "frictionless" remote work / collaboration among teams (not just engineers) seems similar to interview problem. The target market may also be distinct (teams don't remote work, but remote interviews are common).

moocs might benefit too?

I wonder if this is really solvable by technology and tools?

I have no idea. The answer might turn out to be a social question of redefining the concept of a "job", for all I know. If the answer was obvious, I'm sure it wouldn't be an untapped opportunity. ;-)

There's nothing quite like sitting next to someone to facilitate the rapid course-corrections that maximize the chances for early-stage startups to thrive. That said, places like New York are growing as hubs of talent where it's possible to assemble talented in-person teams. And niche investors who understand i.e. the advertising/media/fintech spaces can mitigate the lack of Silicon Valley VCs for companies focused there. Silicon Alley is very much a thing on 23rd Street!

That's exactly the opportunity for startups: to create something that is quite like sitting next to someone.

Holograms? Even a half-assed hologram, but with excellent voice would do the trick.

Part of the San Francisco premium seems to be the concentration of M&A dollars from local incumbents who constantly acquire more local talent. I'm an investor in half a dozen startups that would have already been acquired if they were in the Bay Area, but instead struggle to build viable standalone businesses since they are located elsewhere. Perhaps this is part of the reason YC focuses most of its time, money, and effort on local teams. Besides the concentration of resources for those fortunate few who become rocketships, the downside protection on the rest of the portfolio seems much better (in human, not just dollar terms).

In a similar vein as dirtyaura's comment, it's not a technology or tools problem. It's a people and relationships problem.

Successful businesses are built on the backs of relationships. Your product is important, your tech is somewhat important, but THE most important part of a building what many would call a "successful" business is the relationships you create.

It doesn't matter what you're trying to achieve -- convince people to buy your product, convince people to work for your company, convince VCs to give you money, convince Google to buy you -- all of these things may begin on the premise of merit, price, features, value, but they end up based on the relationships built between the people involved.

Deals are closed over drinks. People work for people they enjoy spending time with. VCs invest money in people they trust. Yes, all things in life have exceptions, but the longer you stay in business, the more you realize that businesses are run by people -- they are not opaque fact-driven entities -- and people are social creatures. The actual reason that people in San Francisco still cling to an age-old culture of doing business together in person instead of over Slack is because humans enjoy spending physical time around other humans. Maybe it's communication bandwidth, maybe it's something else, but until VR replaces physical intimacy, there is no perfect substitute.

If you want to succeed outside of San Francisco, begin building the relationships you need to do so. People can claim that Slack, Hangouts, and the phone match the effectiveness of physical presence, but try switching to a permanent long-distance relationship with your significant other. Good luck.

>then you'll create a huge amount of value for companies around the world and it should be easy to transfer some of that value into your pockets.

Corollary: It's probably time for a much wider adoption of bitcoin in tech. To transfer that value from halfway around the world to personal pockets capitalism style, we need crypto to become a primitive member of apps, markets and tech deals, and no longer a big deal.

I'll stick with an in person Paul Graham meeting any day over Go To Meeting or Hololens.

Not necessarily a killer app idea, but:

I think there's an opportunity to redefine the idea of an employee-owned company. A company with an employee stock pool of 100%-- not 10%-- with no opportunities for dilution, non-voting shares, takeovers, or other financial tricks. Early employees would get more stock, but it would curve gently according with the growth the of the company, so that later employees would also end up with a meaningful share.

The company's charter could be codified in plain English, in an easily accessible, version-controlled markdown file. The board would be made up of some combination of elected employees and outside advisers.

This company would be at a serious disadvantage to raise money. It would have to be able to survive on slow, steady growth rather than VC cash infusions. On the other hand, I suspect it would have a big hiring advantage. The trick would be to attract employees who highly value equity but don't want to become founders themselves.

I bet there's a business model out there that exploits both these facets.

I think this is a thing. Registered as cooperatives. Even more liberal as customer owned like REI? Of course it could be they are just really good at selling that 10% stake.

I do agree that is a potentially exciting organization. I think there are some market analysis companies that have significant employee ownership and most profits are returned as dividends to make for a very cooperative atmosphere.

REI is an interesting example. It's a co-op in name, but the employees don't have much representation at the top. (See: http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/07/11/24328725/rei-work...).

There are lots of great companies that are employee-owned (the Winco chain of grocery stores comes to mind), but I'm not aware of any in the tech startup world.

I'd love to know about market research companies with an employee-owned model! If you know of any specifically, let me know. Google doesn't seem to be of much help.

Winco is a privately-held company with an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan). Employees do not have voting rights. This is better than most private companies, but cooperatives provide voting rights in how the company is run which I think is more important.

Communism over an interval instead of a constant.

Fix ads. I think there is a need for a product that allows websites to self-manage their ads, allowing them to handle display, tracking, payment, and client management internally. Imagine being able to get rid of all the third-party ad and tracking scripts on your website in favor of hosting and managing all of it on your own domain, displaying ads that are guaranteed to be relevant and attractive (since you chose them) and setting your own prices.

It's less valuable to advertise a Lego set to a person on a Lego fan site than it is to advertise a car to a person on a Lego fan site who happens to want a car.

I'm a little sceptical of first party content sensitive untargeted advertisement, but we'll see. I also think the people who would block ads would block these too.

See responses to this comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13576611 where people say they will block ads anyway. It's not the tracking. It's not the bandwidth. It's just because it's easy to do.

Wasn't this how independent websites use to work before ad networks such as Google ads took over the internet? Problem with managing your own ads is that it would be very hard to get quality relevant ads if you have a small website, not to forget the overhead involved in maintaining ad space without a dedicated ad server.

You could maybe do a combination? You feed the add network certain information, it feeds your backend ads - but then you serve the ads, etc etc.

Also, I can't help but be struck by the similarity of "mainframes -> PC -> cloud".

How about a blockchain based decentralized ad bidding system. Ping me if interested there are plenty of ideas in this lucrative space.

No email on your profile...

> displaying ads that are guaranteed to be relevant and attractive...

Pretty much all the evils in todays ads are a byproduct of the sellers controlling the ecosystem and focusing on their needs over the buyers.(i.e. selling impressions, focusing on pageviews, not reporting on viewability, monetizing data, etc...) This does two terrible things...this makes your ad placements ineffective for 90% of the legit advertisers and only viable to the bad actors selling pills and other spammy/predatory products.

If you want to really fix ads, you need to put the average buyer in the driver seat, you need to make your monetization accountable to your advertisers bottom line, and you need to collaborate on creative design to be beautiful within your site...

As long as publishers and sellers control the marketplace, we are doomed to have clickbait, fake news, ridiculous cookie tracking, and irrelevant ads.

OpenAds - now OpenX - was this tool for a very long time.

There are a couple of drawbacks. First, it turns out that there's not much money to be made developing that software. Second, it turns out that running it is a lot of work, to the point that it's not worth it for most people. Third, most ad buyers don't want to juggle dozens of small publishers, they want centralization.

But that's exactly what 99% of the Google customers are trying to avoid to do. They don't want to handle the management. They don't want to host the ad management platform. They just want a paycheck after the cut (and after all the legal contracts). They just want a tool that works and everyone is familiar with.

Congratulations, you have just identified the core of the problem. Everybody wants to get paid, but not do any of the work required.

I would think this is the main contributor to why we have shitty ads. Everywhere.

Yes, it's a shitty problem, but it's because the industry is shit. There must have been extensive studies on ad UX but I see little improvements because so many companies just wanted to sell ads to make $$. Take Forbes and similar new sites - freakin' annoying. But NYT ads are good, at least not as distracting as other news sites seen to be.

Since no one wants to host the ad platform on their own, how do you think you will get your idea across? I think what you really meant is build a better ad platform, not self-hosting ad platform.

Buysellads is very close to this, and has been around for a long time. I ran beaconads, their subsidiary, for a short time and the biggest issue is that most ad buys are coming from a handful of massive companies.

Old Navy doesn't want to deal individually with a site that doesn't have 10,000,000 visits/month. So we end up needing an intermediary at the same scale as the big advertisers.

Not saying this can't work at some level, just that there are some big economic forces fighting against scaling a product like this.

Someone posted a different take on display ads on HN recently [0] called http://pleenq.com/

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13327125

One can do that with affiliate advertising to some extent. I don't think it would be easy to use other pricing models since advertisers wouldn't trust small website's metrics. (And large websites already manage their own ads through many different methods.)

Actually I believe the problem is more about relevance...

However I don't see why this problem isn't been solved yet! Just ask what the website is about and serve only ads in the same space would be already a big win...

Also cnaming ad servers do adblocks get useless. Waiting for such a service :3 (and i hope the first good one will have only okish ads)

would be cool

1. Great Noise cancelling headphones are very expensive, because only a rare few companies has managed to do the r&d to create great noise cancellation

But if there we're affordable headphones that are software programmable and act as an app store for noise cancellation algorithms, that would definetly reduce the price.

2. One of the ideal ways to recieve ecommerce packages is on your car's trunk. It's possible to build a smart lock for your car that enables the delivery guy to drop packages.

The hard part is making it cheap, making installation cheap, and designing a rapidly growing business model that grows rapidly.

3. Many restaurant use a combi-ovens to reheat frozen food with great results. Combi ovens are now starting to become cheap($300), most of them for the home.

But what about the workplace , where for some places, frozen food may be a good alternative to restaurant ordering(it may be cheaper, for example), but that will require an affordable multi-meal oven, which doesn't exist yet ?

4. Apache Isis is a great, rapid , domain driven framework for business app development. But it's quite complex. There may an opportunity in synmplifying it and introdcuing it to new users. Maybe in a service based form.

> Great Noise cancelling headphones are very expensive

I think a smart signal processing/soundtech/AI hacker could create a software program that uses a computer's audio to destructively interfere with other sounds in a room. Say there is an annoying mechanical whine coming from outside your bedroom. You position the computer's microphone near your bed, then tell the program to start listening. The program learns the audio pattern of the whine, and then begins to emit an antiwhine that cancels it out.

Noise cancelling headphones work much better and are much easier to do than room level noise-cancellation.

Why? Well, the whole point of noise-cancellation is to create an interference pattern in your ear, that is as similar as possible to the noise in your ear.

The farther you get from your ear that becomes harder, because of the room's acoustics, because of latency, because of the fact your head is moving, etc. And we see that in the results of room level noise cancellation attempts in the past.

My opinions without any real insight into how practical/viable/useful they are:

- PCB prototyping. Board costs are way down but the 2-week turnound time kills a lot of nimbleness that could be gotten from a cheap in house rapid PCB prototyping machine. This has been tried without too much success (Othermill, LPKF, silver paint methods, etc.) imo. Isolation routing by copper ablation might even be a possibility.

- Oligonucleotide synthesis machine. This should be possible at the "hobbyist" level and would start bridging the gap to more accessible DIY bio.

- Resin 3D printing. Resin curing is one of the only methods where it's clean enough to not be hazardous, rapid and has the hope of consistent quality of 3D printing. There are some companies out there that are doing this already, of course, but I believe is still very ripe for innovation.

- DNA sequencing machines. Illumina still has a monopoly on whole genome sequencing. Even cheap genotyping at the consumer/hobbyist level would be a coup.

- Closed loop precision CNC machines. Right now most low-end hobbyist CNC machines are open loop. There's no reason, aside from NRE, that position feedback and other sensors couldn't be added to a host of CNC applications for low-cost CNC machines.

I haven't touched on some of the other electronics markets like pick and place machines that might be much more accessible with machine vision and other enabling technologies. With the DIY bio focused areas, a little infrastructure might enable other areas. For example, one step to solving the common cold might be tracking it's progress through a population, sequencing it as it crops up, seeing how it evolves and cataloging effective treatments. There's also microfluidics and "lab-on-a-chip" technology which seems like it's much more accessible now but it's not something I have a lot of familiarity with.

My opinion is that without open standards, free/libre software and free/libre hardware, all of these are almost a no-go from the start but I think that that opinion is in the minority.

Many of the same things as five years ago.

While it's easy to say IoT, cryptocurrency, or whatever the latest buzzwords happen to be—there's ideas that have been floating around for years which are still viable, it's just that they're hard and require exceptional execution. In that sense, they are almost timeless until implemented correctly.

For example, another comment suggested marketplace/content discovery. That's been an unsolved problem for almost a decade now. Ads are another great example: they've been dishing out human misery for about the same length of time. People hate them, so they use ad blockers, and everyone loses. These aren't new problems or opportunities.

It may be in areas that don't even look unsolved. Pretty sure that a few years ago many people would have declared messaging to be a solved problem. Now it's the white hot center of multi billion dollar tech warfare.

The old shared hosting market is still pretty large. But it is stuck with ancient stuff like cpanel and mostly dominated by stagnant players like EIG, GoDaddy, and the like.

Seems like there's room for a move something like what DigitalOcean did in the VPS space.

I think it's actually being slowly eroded away from different angles. It's niche providers. WordPress being a huge niche, I've been watching it grow from everyone being in the ~$20-30/month range to full on enterprise grade hosting (http://reviewsignal.com/blog/2016/09/14/500month-enterprise-...).

But there's at least a couple dozen providers now who have built WP specific infrastructure at all sorts of price tiers for consumers.

You've also got your SquareSpace/Wix/etc. Shopify. Traditional shared hosting is becoming less necessary in my mind for a lot of use cases because companies are specializing in areas where you would normally say 'just get a shared hosting plan.'

The biggest problem though to completely get rid of the shared hosting space is price. Digital Ocean works because the lack of customer service. Shared hosting needs to have a lot more customer service (or you get EIG). But at the $5/month price point, the economics of it are terrible. The way to get around it is specializing, reducing complexity and issues, which is exactly what I see happening.

Growth is slowing, but that market is still growing.

I would think there's room for some middle ground, like DO, but with more sophisticated self service tools to deploy popular software, install OS patches, and so on. Tools that work for non technical people.

Like a simplified Heroku?

Yes, at a higher level, dumbed down installers with reasonable default settings. Deploying whatever applications are popular at shared hosts, like Wordpress, Drupal, Magento, BBS software, and so forth.

And providing some equivalent to Cpanel for things like OS patches, domain management, SSL certificate management, automated backups, web analytics, file manager, etc. Cpanel's license costs are pretty high...they charge per customer / per month, and so it sets a minimum bar for what you can charge.

If you incorporated additional functionality, you could capture more of the market. What wix.com does, for example.

I'm trying to get into this area...I used to work for EIG and frankly they SUCK. I'm wanting to start an employee co-owned hosting firm that values employee/customer relationships. I think honestly it's not so much the systems/software that matter most for hosting - it's the customer service.

When EIG took over Bluehost the first thing they did was outsourced ALL tickets to India (Hari the CEO's parent's company) - Then he moved chats to India. Then he closed down tickets completely. Chats may eventually be on the chopping block. Then he moved sales to Tempe and promised everyone in Orem that their job wasn't going anywhere. Two months later he announced -- hey sorry I lied, we're all moving to Tempe. You can come w/ us if you move yourself, but here have 1 month pay for severance. I'm pretty sure I just heard that if you work for EIG and don't live in Houston, or Tempe you can count on your Brand closing and moving to one of those two places - they really want to consolidate everything in a bad way.

i envision a company -- where Each employee has a book of business, each employee is also an affiliate and can refer business 24/7 and get commissions for life off anyone they refer. Each employee acts more like an acct rep than actual CSR agent grinding out phone calls left and right. Customer's have a dedicated person they can reach out to with any concerns. There would be very generous ESOP plan, it would be setup a bit like maybe Winco Foods, etc... and other bonuses. Exec pay would be capped at 65x avg salaries. Surpluses left over go into bonus pools and activities for employees, etc..

What you're describing sounds awfully like a worker co-op. Why not just do a worker co-op, instead of designing something that would be trivially easy for your board to steal from the employees the moment it gets traction?

howdy fellow EIG alum! I worked there from '07 to '09 in their Ops department.

Yeah, I've thought about this. I've even run some numbers.

You'd need to combine an ISP and MSP with an add-on like analytics and integrations.

Trouble is, then you're competing with AWS and GCE.

You have what amounts to bare metal through AWS, available by the hour. You can have that today, plus the ability to scale across geographies at the click of a button. Few colos can offer that.

And you are talking about mostly hosting PHP application. For some stacks these stagnant players do not even exist.

The user experience of deploying a Python/Django code to production is so bad in my opinion that I started a shared hosting service focused only on that: https://prodmatic.com

Just clicking on "Keep me informed" without entering any email succeeds!

You need to change the hero image, IMO, it looks very templatey.

I just tried to set something up on DigitalOcean. It's a small website with some PHP (already written), but I'd like the possibility of expanding it with Node later. So I rented a VPS, but setting everything up is such a pain, with all that SSHing and process management and Linux permissions and everything.

Something that allowed me to just throw my site up with the ease of a common shared web host, but also allowed me to do Node with sane permissions etc., would be great.

However, it occurs to me this probably exists, and I just don't know about it.

Maybe that's the untapped opportunity - connecting people with the services that suit them?

Have you tried nearlyfreespeech? http://nearlyfreespeech.net

Yeah, so I've just spent about four hours trying it, and unfortunately it doesn't seem possible. They don't let you set more than one proxy setting for a site, which makes it impossible.

This is actually great, thankyou!

edit: Nope, they don't let you setup a proxy (for Node) and PHP on the same server :( it's one or the other

Maybe something like heroku with multipack will be just what you need.

> Maybe that's the untapped opportunity - connecting people with the services that suit them?

I think Google has that cornered

How about online storage that you will charge me only when I pull data?

I have 20TB of data that I would like to access about 1MB statistically per year (!!) only I don't know which of that 20TB its located. Sure there is AWS and then Glaciar but with my limited knowledge with AWS you need to spin a computer and then set the rules how those files are accessible and it already goes into tens or hundreds of bucks per month. Amazon Glaciar is too expensive to pull data out.

Perhaps I didn't do enough research. If you know company who allows me to cheaply store XX TB in cloud and charge me only per access to it, let me know please.

Do the economics of the task make sense? Is cold storage actually cheaper?

Therein lies the game; the colder your storage, the more redundant copies you need of every block if you want good odds of retrieval. The only way to know a block is still good is to load it and hash it.

> only I don't know which of that 20TB its located

What do you mean by this?

I'm currently running http://bitmash.io, which is a shared hosting service for PHP apps (currently WordPress and Piwik) that handles updates and manages the site for you (but also lets you control it if you'd like). I'd love to hear what sorts of features people want in a shared hosting service.

I use shared hosting too and I got into cPanel like 3 times a year for 2 min each. Sure, it needs to be there but regardless it fills the needs already.

The licensing for the ISPs is atrocious. It's often 1/2 or more of what they are able to charge the customer, total, for the entire hosting package.

Here are my thoughts

1) Free p2p money transfers / gateway to bitcoin or other crypto-currency so that it's more widely adopted

2) Better open bank accounts - allowing open transparent accounting for organizations and companies

3) Solve democracy - better analytical tools for mass discussion, arguments and decision making which will encourage use of facts and science, and discourage politics

4) Human-Machine interfaces - memory augmentation

5) Solve the common cold and influenza

6) Robotics - better batteries, finer motors and sensors - possibly through the usage of biological systems

7) Public access to satellites - realtime security monitoring, crops analytics and forecasting

8) Solve weather or create private air-conditioned jackets ;)

For 3) Solve democracy, a friend showed me pol.is (neat demo of it: https://pol.is/demo/2demo).

Anyway, it's description is..."pol.is brings AI & machine learning to participatory democracy. Scale up outreach in online consultation & get powerful insights that can shape and legitimize policy." It would be amazing if U.S. politics could be grounded in legitimate understanding of each other.

The problem is not making the tools, it's getting everybody to learn and use them.

I'm wondering if some kind of mind-map/graph mashed-up with a wikipedia model and "likes" on each node, can help drive decisions or is it just too naive/simplistic and low adoption

It starts with the issue that most people don't especially like to use computers and will avoid them if they can.

7) there are several companies in this space, https://www.planet.com/ being one, and they're acquiring another one, Terra Bella (formerly Skybox), the deal is on the front page right now: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13573523). There might be more that I don't remember.

Hasn't Johnny Mnemonic taught you anything???

Hundreds of restaurants in the same geographic area will be purchasing ingredients from a variety of different suppliers, based on their need.

If they clubbed together with other local businesses to source common ingredients they could benefit from economies of scale; i.e. instead of 100 restaurants each buying 200 onions, there'd be a bulk order for 20,000 onions; meaning 1 lorry to deliver direct from the supplier(s) rather than multiple vans to cover each supplier/buyer combo.

i.e. Create a platform that would allow suppliers to list what they're selling, buyers to list their needs, and match these up with one another.

  - Group similar suppliers or buyers together geographically to help improve the efficiency of individual orders by making them part of a larger collective order.
  - Add filter options so that when buying people can specify certain criteria (e.g. "I only want potatoes from soil-association approved suppliers").
  - Now people don't buy from suppliers, but rather buy from a service/pool.
  - ...and people don't sell to buyers, but rather sell to the service/pool.
  - This same model works regardless of supplier or buyer size; i.e. benefits both big and small (though the benefits to smaller companies are more significant as they start to get the benefits of scale that the larger ones have anyway).
Though I'd start with restaurants (i.e. to keep the platform focussed / avoid being too broad too soon), this same platform could over time expand for any purchasing interactions.

This is the reason distributors already exist. Almost all restaurants buy almost all of their ingredients through food distributors (or on occasion just the local Costco).

Not saying that there's not room to grow in this area, but it's definitely not the case that restaurants are buying straight from a bunch of individual suppliers, minus restaurants aiming for hyper-local or small batch ingredients.

And the ones that are buying from individual suppliers are doing so for non-economic reasons, e.g. "buying local", or specialised produce variants.

Restaurant Depot, we all go there. At least those of us in proximity of one.

Been trying to do this on a smaller scale (pooling the needs of restaurants in foodparks), and it is horribly difficult. There are so many factors at play (demand changes day to day, spoilage, etc.) Even with software to automate the process, the delivery logistics would be too time consuming for your average restaurant owner to get into.

Don't do this. You will fail. Restaurant managers don't have enough time to get involved in this, many restaurants are in competition with each other, and the existing relationships they have with distributors are very strong. Also, read Peter Thiel's book "Zero to One" -- don't enter highly competitive markets that have low margins.

Restaurant supply chains could be improved by investing in local farmers. Less time and energy spent on transport enables fresher food; and the local money multiplier is a goood thing too. I'm working on something aimed at this.

In LA at least, this is common among high end restaurants. Certain chefs have relationships with specific farmers, or they have food buyers select the best produce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. I suspect most restaurants just buy from normal distributors because it's cheaper though.

I've also noticed this with better restaurants. I think specialist buyers and distributors will continue to serve a role; and so will farmers' markets. But my thought is it's better when shareholders buy-in for a season. The farmer gets more operating capital up-front and spends less time on sales during the harvest, because distributions can be figured out ahead of time.

I recently learned about Jetro which is essentially a Costco for small restaurants and a massive business in this space.

Mostly posting this because I want to see it, but drones to automate residential property inspections. I'm actually thinking about miniature drones that can do internal and external residential inspections. My startup is in property management and a lot of the work a human does could be done by a drone + healthy amount of machine learning on the images captured.

The human element of home inspection is invaluable. That interaction between homeowner (or prospective) and a knowledgeable professional is critical. But drones as tools for that professional could be great.

I think he may have been referring to rental inspections, of the quarterly kind. A pretty standard checklist. "Is there mess, is there mould, is there damage, are there pets and is that allowed?"

For that we need CHAPPIE like humanoids. Which are either packed up on the roof w/ solar charging or in janitor closet.

And then you let a drone fly through a flat every quarter? I think the odds of destroying something in the process are higher than the saved costs.

On another note: Are quarterly rental inspections a thing in the US? Never heard of that, why should my landlord care if I tidy up my apartment?

They're standard practice in Aus, not sure about the US sorry. I agree though, I don't think it would be a flawless plan to use drones for it.

What, specifically, would the drone inspect? The only thing I can imagine a drone being useful for is inspecting the roof and chimney. And that's counting on the home inspector being too lazy too get on a ladder. In fact, most of them just use binoculars and call it a day. You really need a licensed professional who knows the local codes and is experienced enough to know what to look for. I don't see home inspections getting either fully or partially automated any time soon. The value-add just isn't there.

And give Realtors even less to do? /s

I think the biggest problem will be that drones can't open doors or cabinets. You'll still need someone there to look under the sink, go into the basement.

That sounds like pretty much what EagleView is doing: http://www.eagleview.com/

Early in my startup career an investor told me, "There's money everywhere. Where you go, how you get there, and how fast, is dependent on your skills, drive, network, and luck. But there's money everywhere. Never forget that."

For me, the biggest untapped market potential is educational video games (which is why I work on supermathworld.com). The market literally doesn't exist. There are but a handful of educational products that could rightfully be called "games".

I'm not so sure about the "literally doesn't exist" part, schools have been buying educational video games for decades.

25 years ago I played educational games that look conceptually identical to the kind on supermathworld and mathbreakers. I built space stations, launched rockets, battled monsters, and even learned geography and critical reasoning skills to catch the elusive Carmen Sandiego.

Graphics and gaming capabilities were a bit different on the Apple IIe though :)

A friend of mine organizes a conference on educational games which sounds up your alley, check out: http://intentionalplaysummit.com/

Better marketplace discovery systems. Apple's App Store, the Google Play store and Steam all suffer from the same problem: it's very hard for the people who would enjoy your app to find your app. This probably also applies to streaming video and music.

I'm saying it now, apps are on their way out, web only is the future. Everyone is completely sick of installing a stupid app for everything the want to use. Compound that with a billion notifications for all of those apps. With that said Steam does a pretty good. The discovery queues have led me to some great finds, as well as all of the curator lists.

The web has a long time to catch up in terms of technology (iOS has poor support for APIs that would make web apps compete with native) and culture (most businesses don't care that their app is slow and bloated and defer resources to the app).

What do the majority of web apps need, to compete with native apps? 99% of them definitely DO NOT need to be native.

I'd say the one really important thing web is missing is notifications for when your not on the site. I don't really know how a browser could ever implement in a similar fashion.

This already exists, just not fully on mobile yet, but it's coming.



Email, or SMS? Though I don't see why Apples Push Notification Service, can't be opened up for the web side. They are already going through Apple servers correct? Safari has push notifications, let's combine the two.

I'd say that applied to music/videos long before streaming was even a word. Things are much better today.

Isn't that basically what Product Hunt does? I notice when I look for an app that I need, I now search Product Hunt first before checking the App Store.

Contraception. Almost everybody needs it. The current solution of flooding the body with hormones works, but causes side effects.

The pill for men won't make it. My prediction is that we'll have some other non-hormonal contraception within the next 20-30 years, probably invented by a startup that wants to disrupt this billion dollar market.

> The pill for men won't make it.

From what I understand, "they" have already developed this, and trialed it. It worked great, but for many men it had certain undesirable side-effects, and for a very few the side-effects weren't good at all. But for most, it worked well.

The interesting thing? Almost all of the side-effects that were experienced by the men in the study all sounded exactly like the side-effects women experience when they are on "the pill"!

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the reason we don't have a male hormonal-based contraceptive is actually because men can't handle the changes and problems women have been dealing with for decades.

As funny as this anecdote is, the real issue was that it caused a couple of cases of permanent sterility so the scientists were forced to abandon the study.

The whole thing is annoying because I've now seen the whole "lol boys can't handle what girls put themselves through on the pill" from print news, reddit, buzzfeed, my girlfriend's gynecologist, and now hacker news. It would be great if male contraception existed, and lots of men would be fine with the side effects, but permanent sterilization is a whole different ballgame as far as risk factors go.

Agreed, it's a risk factor women won't willingly accept if it was the case with their pills.

Also, ballgame, I see what you did there.

The difference was the the men in the study were experiencing those side effects at an order of magnitude higher than men do, plus there was huge increase in suicides.

The last time I saw this discussed, there was discussion about whether the drugs caused permanent sterilization for a subset of men, and how large the subset might be.

It's also worth noting that the effects of current birth control on women are bad enough that a decent fraction of women can't use one or more methods. There's still substantial room for improvement on the side effects that women face.

Lots of women benefit from the flood of hormones, but this is slightly off topic. The real reason is that it it is impossible to develop any new drug that will be given to healthy people.

The legal and regulatory system basically makes it a losing proposition to make a new contraceptive - you could give sugar pills to everyone and someone will have a bad reaction and the lawyers will sue you into bankruptcy.

> Lots of women benefit from the flood of hormones, but this is slightly off topic

And many more suffer from side effects that they don't even attribute anymore to hormonal contraceptives after years of intake.

Do you think that daily medication for half of the population is acceptable? Because if so, you could also argue that lots of people might benefit from taking happy pills every day.

Taking medication for every little uncomfort might be more accepted in the US, but it doesn't mean that this is a healthy view of the body and the world.

Well until the regulatory situation is fixed then women of child bearing ages who don’t want to get pregnant have two choices: 1. Avoid sex or 2. Take medication [1]. I am not saying this is a good choice, but that is the only choice currently available.

1. There other forms of contraception, but all come with a significant risk of failure compared to the hormonal contraceptives. As a man I would like to have a reliable form of male contraceptive, but the current regulatory environment makes this impossible to sell.

This pill won't because depression and inability to maintain an erection are side effects. But one in future may.

I don't believe daily medication for something stupid like contraception is the solution. I mean, take a good and hard look at the mechanical aspects of human reproduction. Those tubes for semen are a bottleneck, a single point of failure. They're ripe for disruption in an entirely mechanical way ;)

No need to mess with the entire hormone system.

I don't know the current status of this system and if it's viable at all, but check out https://www.bimek.com/

> implying the pill for women doesn't have equally bad side-effects. But they're more likely to take them, because they're the ones that end up pregnant.

> implying the pill for women doesn't have equally bad side-effects.

- I actually wasn't talking about the women's pill at all - you can tell this by reading the post you're replying to.

- But yes, inability to have sex is not a common side effect of the female pill. Which I suspect you also already know.

Have you considered reading the HN guidelines?

In case it isn't clear: yes the female pill causes depression. It may, also, like the recent male pill, cause suicidal thoughts. However the female pill categorically does not prevent coitus, whereas not having an erection does.

Also, the pill for women was the first product and therefore only had to be better than the alternative. A pill for men would be a substitute to the current one for women and would therefore have to show improvement over that. Investing several billion $ just to end up with a drug that has the same side effect taken by the other gender is not a wise investment. Yes, there's the topic of gender equality, but there are already other alternatives that come with less side effects (but are less convenient).

That's an excellent point. One possible improvement could be control by men of their own reproduction: ie, full contact sex without the possibility of conception if the male does not wish to conceive.

Just wanted to add that, when taking on big-pharma, you should prepare being sued out of principle. There are so many patents in their hands.

Developing drugs is not just about taking on big pharma, it's about the risk of causing long-term harm or death to innocent people. There are very good reasons why there is such a strict regulation around new drugs. They only exist to avoid repetitions of what happened in the past. It's easy to be against big pharma, but we shouldn't forget that they improved our lives quite a bit (not associated in any way with a pharma company).

It would be an incredibly tough fight for sure. I guess this can only be won if there's someone with huge resources doing this more for philantrophic reasons than commercial ones.

Bring certain folk remedies to market.

For example, there are some medical trials indicating, and many folkloric claims, that eating a small but increasing amount of poison ivy, oak or sumac leaf each day will fairly quickly make your body cease to respond badly to contact with those plants.

A 30-day packet of capsules, with successively increasing dosages of urushiol (the irritant in those plants), would likely build up the body's ability to tolerate urushiol. It would make it much easier and safer for the average person to remedy their condition, since, the suggestion that one gather one's own poison oak and preparing it for ingestion appears fraught with peril and leaves most poison ivy victims aghast. Were such a remedy provided in a safe encapsulated form, their fears would abate.

This would be of enormous benefit to homeowners, campers, farmers, gardeners, tree-trimmers, and in short, nearly everyone who goes out into the woods or gardens in the summer. Believe me, this would fly off the shelves once word got around.

Poison ivy sucks.

Yeah. That's going to be one that needs rigorous safety testing. Where are these medical trials? Are they double blind placebo controlled every possible effect (no matter the severity) reported?

Agree on this one 100%. I can't believe how many people depend on prescription drugs in America. I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents knew all kind of tea they could make when someone was sick. The problem is that the tea leaves are not readily available in America.

See this link: http://www.haitiobserver.com/blog/the-magic-of-haitian-remed...

If you're looking for oppportunities in different industries, I send out a daily email filled with short interviews.

I ask about industry problems, and the software that could solve those problems.

You can check it out here:


An example of one of the responses:

"I work in the microbiology field.

One of the things I have to do in the quality control department is to count the number of individual colonies that are streaked on a media. Most of the time the count can go up to the 1000's and the colonies are small and close together.

I would like software that can recognize the individual colonies, like a camera would detect faces, and would automatically count the number of colonies available. This would give more accurate readings for tests and cut down on time.

I would definitely pay for this software."

Great idea! Is there a way to see archived interviews?

Thanks antfarm :)

I'll be setting up a "vault" of sorts in the next few weeks where you can see pretty much all the interviews I have.

I just read this article today and thought a great idea would be to develop a platform for simplifying the process for starting up community credit unions. Kind of like Stripe Atlas but for credit unions. It could benefit a lot of small communities.


Very interesting idea. Pricing seems like the biggest challenge that comes to mind, but maybe there is a good solution.

I think media and content monetisation is a massive opportunity here. Or in other words, finding a way for people to get money from their written content without ads or subscriptions.

This is because the advertising industry is in a bit of a decline at the moment, and it's likely than in a few years things like AdBlock will make many ad funded businesses (like media outlets) completely unsustainable. So if anyone finds a good alternative, it will probably make them rich.

Just... good luck finding said solution, given that we've tried ads, donations, subscriptions and microtransactions and found that all four have major problems as far as getting people to actually use them goes. Still, the opportunity is there for whatever miracle worker figures out a way to make content profitable again.

I wish this was automatic, factored into your browser + existing internet bill. This way the sites you consume the most content on / get the most from naturally get some form of compensation automatically

Note taking done right. Android, iOS, Desktop, Markdown & HTML, easy flat file format, Web clipper, offline and do this all without wasting whitespace (no doc editor like Evernote) and good sync and instant search results. <- NO ONE is doing this! Closest is maybe Google Keep (seriously it's good at some points I'm mentioning).

I use emacs org mode and it's superb (not applicable to general populace, I know). Mobile is not that great, but I always carry ultrabook with me.

I use keep. It is already there on all platforms i use and integrates with other services i use. Plus the location reminder stuff does not drain additional battery.

But honestly since i dont use it anymore i feel better and more relaxed. Relevant stuff i dont forget and irrelevant stuff is irrelevant.

Checkout "Notebooks 8" for iOS. It is the ultimate note taking app.

>> Note taking done right. Android, iOS, Desktop

> Checkout "Notebooks 8" for iOS.

Might be good but misses several requirements :-)

> do this all without wasting whitespace (no doc editor like Evernote)

What do you mean by this? Do you just mean a raw HTML/markdown editor and a rendered view?

I mean that notes (at least for me) tend to be short. What I don't like is that many note taking systems think that a note needs to be edited like e.g. an Email or Word document (the Evernote approach). So when I see e.g. 10 notes I want to see the most of the content of the 10 notes very good and when I go into one note I don't want to see a whole big word processor with one blank sheet. Google Keep is doing a good job there, also not bad is e.g. Tiddlywiki.

Simplenote gives you the ability to take notes in markdown and be able to view the rendered version by swiping right.

Outsourced testing. I can think of a few sites that would pay a pretty penny to have unit, spec, and acceptance-tests written for their pre-existing code.

See https://www.rainforestqa.com/, a YC company. They do some of this.

Was definitely interested, clicked through a bunch and wanted to see pricing and sign up. Unfortunately it's a "contact us for more info" situation, which is really a non-starter as far as I'm concerned.

Thanks for the recommendation though.

The opaque pricing is a sign that they've moved up the market to target enterprise. When a company reaches that stage, it's basically telling you, "if this turns you off, then you won't move the needle for us so we don't want to talk to you."

> "if this turns you off, then you won't move the needle for us so we don't want to talk to you."

Yes. Like Amazon and Google, with their contact us for pricing.

Realistically speaking, it's unlikely that something which provides as much value as essentially replacing QA would be priced transparently.

It's not that big problem for you then.

Rainforest uses human testers, a specialized Amazon Turk. You write a test plan in English that is followed. They can also explore your app and write that test plan in English for you.

I'd love to know of a service that will write the test plans in Selenium or Ghost Inspector etc.

What is the tech stack they use?

From their jobs page[0]:

* Ruby

* Rails

* Grape

* Go

* Redis

* Postgres

* QueueClassic

* GraphQL

* React with redux


* Puppet

* Heroku


0: https://www.rainforestqa.com/jobs/

Incidentally, that's something that I want to offer when expanding my freelance business into QA agency. Would you mind telling me more about what types of services would you see here? I have some ideas of my own, but I'm still struggling with market validation, so input from someone who says they could need it is invaluable!

Devices as designers

Sooner or later (IoT, AR, VR) we will have to let devices (AI) to assembly the final user interface.

I imagine something like this: we designers / developers / UI architects are creating plenty of interconnectable components describing our idea of a product covering all scenarios and use cases.

Then the device will asemmbly the final UI based on the individual user, and the device capability.

For example a watch will display something different than a large digital billboard on a skyscraper.

And everyone of us will see a different design each time we look at a display, based on our individual digital history (Data mining).

The point is predetermined design must be advanced to on-demand, context based, liquid design. We let the big picture be assembled by third party, we focus only to smaller components.

Something like


I think retail can be improved, and even small improvements can have large impacts because of the sheer size of the market: US retail sales are in the $5 trillion range yearly, mostly in brick and mortar.

Specific problems:

1. Why is brick and mortar still so popular, and can any pain points with e-commerce be fixed?

2. E-commerce doesn't work well on cheap items where shipping cost is prohibitive. Different companies have tried to solve this in various ways, with Prime (losing money on cheaper sales in hopes they can reduce logistics cost and drive larger sales) or Jet (directly giving shipping savings for ordering multiple items at once). It will be difficult to compete with Prime, but there has to be an angle that works, Jet found one.

3. Simpler price comparison. I tried to build the feature I thought should exist at https://icanpriceit.com/ as a side project, but didn't spend the time to properly launch it. I hope some startup succeeds in that space, I've been watching https://wikibuy.com/ which is quite similar.

I think there's plenty of room to build the next Amazon or eBay. The fees they charge third party sellers have been going up over time, if a marketplace was willing to accept lower fees at first it could help early growth.

> 1. Why is brick and mortar still so popular, and can any pain points with e-commerce be fixed?

One thing I much prefer B&M shopping for is clothing. Sizing is so wildly variable across brands, and clothing such a tactile thing, that I cannot completely get away from physical storefronts.

That's a good point. I wonder why the big brands have not gotten together to create standardized sizing scheme.

If they did that, they'd have too many sizes. Just look at jeans: most brands carry 100 or so "sizes", not including variations (tight, slim, regular, loose, baggy, tapered, straight, etc). With women, it's even worse because their body types are even more varied. It's easy to end up with 1000+ variations if a store tries to cater to everyone.

Instead brands cater to certain demographics and their sizes are relative to the body types they try to attract. It's unlikely that a woman who regularly buys from NY&Company would expect something at Lane Bryant to fit them.

In Europe they mostly have, but it's still so variable and subjective. For one thing, people are very different sizes, based on your market. I mean, I'm a "large" here (in Europe) but a "medium" in America, presumably because the average American is considerably fatter than a European of similar height.

And tailoring/fashion add another layer of subjectivity. A pair of size 34 jeans are much tighter in Europe than the US, because that's de moda. And there's considerable variation between brands, depending on how they want you to look when you wear their stuff.

In the end, there's just no getting away from the fact that you'll need to try clothes on if you want a good fit.

In what way would they benefit from it? In general, they'd rather encourage ignorance-based brand loyalty. In addition, this way brands can compete on vanity sizing.

"I'm a 12 in Brand X, but an 8 in Brand Y! I'll take Y!"

"Kickstarter" for cities. Housing is unaffordable in desirable cities, but nobody wants to move to less desirable cities, where housing is affordable. Take a city that is desperate for development, like Detroit, and figure out a way for a couple thousand people to "pledge" moving to a dense-ish urban area at a preferential rate.

I think you have cause/effect mixed up a bit. Those cities are only "affordable" because people aren't there.

If a couple thousand people all simultaneously buy into an "affordable dense-ish urban area", that action would make that area un-affordable, and subsequently create all the same displacement/gentrification/nimby problems that follow. Your Detroit example is a good one, the dense-ish urban area now costs around $300-400k, because people already did what you've suggested. Unless your moving into lower-density mostly-suburban-ish areas in Detroit, your not really saving any money anymore.


If your going to "Kickstarter" a city, let's make a brand new one. Find a bunch of empty land (greenfield or brownfield), and build a whole new dense city from scratch on it. This is easy/cheap to do compared to actual urban development (it's how all affordable suburban housing already starts), but just skip the suburb part and go straight from land to tall density, so there's no existing population to harm, no existing zoning issues to fight, no existing infrastructure problems to deal with. Go from nothing to 100% modern on day 1.

You could buy a bunch of land near say (picking a place at random) Hazelwood, Minnesota. Build your city with dense urban environment to start (enforce your own density rules, straight to 5+ story buildings). Fund an expension of light rail, and your just 30 minutes away from MSP airport by train, with direct flights daily to NYC, SFO, and SEA. And your already on I-35 freeway for freight.

There's such a shortage for affordable dense urban housing, that if you could provide affordable density with fast reliable transportation to existing cities (light rail to the closest major airport), your new city would likely fill up quickly, and help make these existing cities more affordable too.

I bet you're always the one in brainstorm meetings that says we need to rewrite everything from scratch, vastly underestimating the amount of work, bug fixes, and tribal knowledge that went into the existing solution in addition to the cost of building a new one.

This would be the modern version of the suburban development fallacy - building neighborhoods to a finished state with no method for organic expansion.

I'm going to use your example of Detroit as my example here. One of the problems with getting people to move into less desirable cities like Detroit is that the less desirable areas are pretty nasty with poor resources, dirty streets and sidewalks, etc. Infrastructure is a joke in many of these neighborhoods, and the city government is still too obsessed with just particular areas for growth because that's where the tax money is. If someone would come up with a way to not just get people to come into the neighborhoods, but to actually clean them up and get city and state government on their side, that would be the real winner.

That's the idea! :)

Aaccurate 3-d scanning of 3d environments - houses, mines you name it. I think the tech is there in your pocket and with good software plus very accurate measurement of location, orientation + panorama/spehrical photo shoots, you could have very high quality recreations of real world areas - which in turn could be explored, modified and enjoyed in VR/AR/MR. For example simulating house refurbishment or furniture purchases, remotely inspecting places to buy/rent/go on holiday.

The tech is mostly there, but I'm too lazy to put it altogether as I know that someone with access to more capital will also attack it, sooner or later, not just startup but IKEA, Airbnb, etc...

BBC's Italy's Invisible Cities used 3D scanning to showcase areas in three Italian cities (Naples, Venice, and Florence). Seeing things mapped in 3D made a world of a difference trying to understand those spaces. It was a great show.


This is a super interesting topic to work on! There's an academic initiative which does exactly this, it's called the Digital Historical Architectural Research and Material Analysis or DHARMA [0] for short (it's at the University of Notre Dame). Figuro3D [1] is a startup (also out of Notre Dame) which borrows a lot from DHARMA and applies it to 3D printing.

[0]: http://architecture.nd.edu/research-publications/dharma/

[1]: http://www.figuro3d.com/

Edit: formatting

Plenty of people working on this: [0] https://matterport.com/ [1] https://structure.io/ [2] https://www.paracosm.io/

This won't be popular on HN: start aggressively patenting anything and everything you can around CRISPR. It's dirt cheap to work with both Cas9 and Cpf1.

Figure out how to use CRISPR to insert or edit genes that we already know help to make some people practically bullet proof when it comes to cholesterol and common cardiovascular problems. Patent everything you can around using CRISPR to fight high cholesterol (the drug market for that is truly massively). Move fast, right now, while most of the pharma giants are asleep at the wheel (most of big pharma is a minimum of five years behind the curve, they always try to buy their way out of it after the fact).

Congratulations, you're now a billionaire.

Sure you can do this. You can also set back the development work on these genes by a long time with someone patenting something they know nothing about just to get rich from it.

Or probably innovation just doesn't happen in the name of fear. Worse because of the patent trolls someone ends up releasing targeted crispr viruses unleashing another black plague

Lithium recycling technology. Electrochemical storage may be a renewable technology to store energy but the raw materials are not infinite.

Cities. The way cities are designed, built, operated. I am actually trying to see if I can build a company around this. It's the biggest challenge I can possibly imagine for me, and I don't know why I haven't given up yet :)

Cities help people connect (in a physical way), and help companies provide goods and services to them in a more efficient way.

However, cities today are maintained, operated, and enlarged based on legacy. I think there are huge inefficiencies, and yet it seems that trying to fix existing ones is a nightmare.

What about NEW ones instead?

I find this extremely interesting. We'll see.

This has been one of my passions too. I recently became a member of Strong Towns, in which we have a slack group to discuss cities.

There are definitely members looking on how it would to start a company based on solving cities' problems.

QM/MM for fighting antibiotic resistant bacteria.


By far (as in, by a mutiple of approximately 10,000) the biggest untapped opportunity is disrupting the geography of worldwide startups, meaning venture capital and so forth. Startups and ideas wither on the vine and shutter (close) due to lack of access to the startup ecosystem on equal terms: these startups often could produce billions in value in their respective markets and then worldwide. Further, this can be bootstrapped as many startups would agree to pay back to the community (through investment at high valuations) in exchange for investment today. You do not need access to billions today to solve this problem tomorrow. This isn't a billion, ten billion, or one hundred billion dollar problem. If you clock back from 2060 to 2017 using a discounted net present value analysis (if you do it correctly) you will find that this is a 10 trillion dollar (today's dollars) segment or in other words the equivalent of not one, ten, or one hundred Airbnb's: but, one thousand of them. (For comparison or as a sanity check on my number, worldwide economic GDP in 2016 was 75 trillion[1] so the number I quote is 14.2% of a single year's GDP - or the total value the world produces in just over 7 weeks. So these 7 weeks of economic output are what I quote as a discounted value from a total market extending over the next 50 years, worldwide, discounted to today. It is a conservative number.)

We live in the dark ages of startup capital investment, and it's as hard to get investment as it was to get an education in the 1400s: you had to be rich, privileged, then go to a center of University learning. Geographically speaking, it is as bad today. Today, you have to go to silicon valley (as in, physically drag your body there) or one of a few other major startup centers (which give much poorer results), then somehow network your way into getting introductions. it is like being a scientist in the fifteenth century. enormous privilege and very difficult to achieve, with no clear path. Disrupting these geographic facts of capital investment and access to the startup and equity culture and markets is massive - when this starts to change, it will completely change the face of the planet in every way, for everyone.

If you want to make the most massive disruption you can make in your lifetime, disrupt the geography of startup ecosystems.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomi...

Political Science & Democracy Management

AFAIK there's little to no innovation in this field aside from the occasional electronic voting machine, whose security may or may not be totally un-hackable.

In a day & age where the internet reaches every home, & there's a web browser in nearly everyone's pocket, it shouldn't be that difficult to effectively discern the will of the people. But we're still depending on manual polling, which as the recent US election has shown, is woefully inaccurate. Why are these still done on the phone? Why do people still have to physically go to a neighborhood voting location? Why are elected officials still allowed to make empty promises while campaigning with no follow-through once they're in office?

These are solvable problems which I'd imagine technology can indeed address.

You're absolutely right! Democracy is critically important, and discerning the will of the governed shouldn't be this hard. It boggles the mind!

Yet, computer security is hard. Like, holy shit, all the problems of physical security combined with all the problems of network security. Decentralized paper balloting limits things to just the relatively-well-understood physical side while limiting the scope for the damage of a breach. It turns out there are distinct advantages to this approach that justify it over something web-based.

Elected officials making empty promises is a social problem. Technology can't help us there.

I disagree that empty promises isn't addressable with technology. Thinking of smart contracts as a potential solution here.

You're right again! Smart contracts are abstractly a perfect fit for ensuring compliance with arbitrary promised behavior.

The current state of affairs is such that smart contracts are viable for things readily machine-verified. This does not apply to all things that might be promised by a politician today. This problem could be resolved by voting, but now we've reintroduced all the problems of politics and reinvented the Sierra Club / NRA / etc.

Additionally, it only matters if voter opinion is swayed by a failure to comply with the contract. At this moment in time, voters generally reserve the right to change their minds at any time and for any reason. It is possible that convincing voters to hang their votes entirely on a smart contract might prove challenging.

I wonder if there's something along the lines of a credit score for public servants out there. This score would probably need to be comprised of several stats, but one of the most important would be a score of all commitments and obligations an individual has per office and how many they've actually done. Another stat that comes to mind is NPS- are voters willing to vote again for this candidate?

Health Insurance / Hospital.

I'm old enough that I now go to the doctor more frequently than I used to and it's a mess. A health insurance company that could reliably allow a user to change their address on a website would be competitive. Having all of your medical procedures and orders accessible through a simple CRUD app would be a threat to a lot of multi-billion dollar companies. It's still all done through phone calls and faxes and there are lots of mistakes and it's hugely inefficient. I went to the ER last year and got 5 different bills from different departments of the same hospital. The online payment portal doesn't work unless you call them to set it up. That's not the hospital network I usually go to - my usual provider is probably worse.

What will improve the medical industry in the US dramatically is transparent pricing.

When both consumers and providers have no idea how much the product or service they are using actually costs, there is no way to control costs (ie competition, delaying the service, using an alternative product/service, etc). Thus our prices have spiraled out of control.

For example, delivering a baby is an incredibly common procedure, known months in advance, but with opaque pricing paid by third parties, there is no incentive to price shop, nor is that straightforward for a consumer to do. The current average price of a routine delivery is over $8k [1].

[1] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/30/costs-of-delivering-babies-va...

> What will improve the medical industry in the US dramatically is transparent pricing.

No. Heavens no. It's way more complex than this. This isn't even on the Top 10 list of reasons American healthcare is a shambles. And it does nothing to explain why healthcare is so much better in every other Western democracy -- even and especially in places where there's less transparency about pricing than in the US.

What will improve medicine in the US is putting everybody in the same risk pool. Every other solution is a losing bet. Stop foisting the old, the poor, the chronically ill, and veterans onto the government rolls while handing the low-risk middle over to for-profit corporations for milking.

The "free market" is a notoriously bad fit for healthcare, which is why no other country does it.

> there is no incentive to price shop,

Again there is NO single item that will solve the "healthcare" issue. Voodoo Free Market ...

You don't price shop. Your OB/GYN has admitting privileges to 1-2 hospitals in the area. You go to the one that your OB/GYN is AT and is closest to you.

When the Anaesthesiologist trainee fucks up your epidural, you're going to whip out your phone to call another ? Not fucking likely. You're passed out at that point.

Fucking Christ people, you have a relationship with your Doctor.

"Come down to Joe's Oil, Tire and Baby Delivery Shop" $19.95 oil changes, $59.95 Baby deliveries. Additional charges may apply. (including emergency room access due to failed deliveries)

Yes and no. Outpatient procedures could and should be price shopped. Do you have a relationship with the lady who draws your blood? The MRI tech? Not usually, or not a strong enough one that would cause changing providers a high friction experience.

Birth is a perfect example to make your point of an existing, usually long term, relationship because of the typical women's health regimen. More usual however is you finding you need a procedure (maybe soon but not emergency), you then ask for a referral to a specialist or ask friends and do google searches to try to get a sense that the specialist isn't a quack. You could price shop at that point. Instead, the system is built upon referrals and kickbacks. Although, kickbacks are illegal now so they form physician groups which is basically a kickback in the form of profit sharing.

> Fucking Christ people, you have a relationship with your Doctor.

No doubt, but please don't fulminate here.

I wonder if this could be address by payment card networks. Level 2 credit card processing adds invoice details to charges, level 3 credit card processing adds line-item details, perhaps a new level for health care information could happen and then signing in at the doctors office would be as simple as swiping a card.

A good native LaTeX editor, with quality on par with modern IDEs (deep understanding of syntax and semantics, intellisense, etc).

What do you think is the intersection of "needs to do a lot of LaTeX" and "pays for software" groups? Honest question.

Why do you think there is a small overlap? The first group is very large (almost all academics in CS/math/physics departments around the world) and is generally affiliated with universities that pay for software.

I didn't really know who the main users would be, that's why I asked :)

Have you seen overleaf.com?

I haven't tried it, but it's not native and that is quite important to me. Maybe if their JavaScript was absolutely on point it would be bearable but I have a bad feeling. Imagine writing C++ or Python for 8 hours a day with nothing but an online IDE.

Fresh air. It's tough to breathe in many cities across the world, especially in Asia.

I'd pay a lot (probably more than I would for my laptop / car) for a tool that would help me breathe fresh air in the midst of a polluted environment.

Of course, a long term solution would involve actually reducing pollution, but there are enough of us suffering from a lack of fresh air, that a short-term solution would be greatly valuable.

You can pay a lot less, and go live in the "country" somewhere. Tons of fresh air out here.

Solved by a guy in England that even offers different flavours!


Collecting boxes and packing materials. Seriously, I am overflowing with pristine boxes and packing material courtesy of Amazon prime. Certainly there has to be a business surrounding the collection of these materials and selling them back to Amazon et. al.

Huh you'd think UPS, etc would offer that service.

Leased CGI sets / models / scenes.

Building full fledged models / generations of popular cities and places and leasing them to film producers. Its cheaper for them to lease than it would be to hire full devs and designers to start from scratch..I know there is some 're-use' in place by these companies such as pixar and disney. Re-use is not what i am talking about though. I am talking about movies like transformers / godzilla / etc which need on point rendering of actual cities and places.

Just a thought I had the other day when reading how film companies were struggling with growing movie budgets and diminishing returns.

Look into games. Imagine some GTA-like game set in actual Chicago, or minimally edited Chicago to remove all trademarks anyway.

Right, I completely forgot about the gaming industry.

Here's my wishlist, not sure if there is a market for it:

- Twitter w/out fake accounts.

- a marketplace that uses Facebook as a vehicle for engagement/promotion but which operates independently.

- Secure SMS for 2FA tokens

- Android w/out Play Services

- Schema-based email

- Stripe for the rest of the World

For me, I desperately need "Stripe for the rest of the World".

Is Stripe Atlas not an option where you are based?

Sometimes you need Stripe for a side project or stuff like that. Atlas is focused in large corporations and, besides, you have to pay to be incorporated.

There is bitcoin.

The high volatility and past problems with exchanges make it basically unusable for anyone without deeper knowledge in the field.

Also, it'll take a few seconds to pay via credit card, whereas converting the money on your account to bitcoins in the sellers account can easily take several hours.

Anything 2FA related to cell phone networks needs to die. You are relying on the security of the cell carrier, which is not a safe bet.

Yep, but it's still better than not using a second factor at all. It all heavily depends on your threat model. I don't think Yubikeys scale to the general population, carrying around something on your keyring is a hard sell for many. (But if you've got your PGP private keys on it, too, etc, it's a fantastic tool/toy for nerds!)

There is a middle ground truefactor.io

>- Android w/out Play Services

this is China

- Android w/out Play Services

This is easy, I've done this for years. Install LineageOS without Google Apps, use F-Droid.

> Android w/out Play Services

Check out CopperheadOS

I see an opportunity for a continuous delivery platform , if you notice on stackshare people use Jira(trello) , github , gitter(slack) and travis/jenkins for their work , so much of context switching happens navigating(working) the tools. The idea here is to build one platform which will have all of this in Tabs and available to the teams in a hosted manner. So when one delivers code , the next tab he should be able to see a CI build kicked off and the following tab a docker container which is ready to host the built new code commit for QA.

Perhaps instead of reinventing each tool that already does well in its own space, one could build a platform that allows users to link all these tools (if API is available) and customize with their own workflow and dashboard. I wonder if there's anything similar already existing yet? I feel in some big corps they may have developed their own proprietary homegrown tools for these.

I totally see the value in this, but the tools that do each individual component are very sophisticated. Either you rebuild all that functionality, or you strip them down, or you just have them work together. We are all in the third phase because the needs around each tool are so complex that people need the complicated software in each piece and they want to mix and match.

GitLab is doing this. They currently have:

- Issue tracking (jira)

- Issue kanban (trello)

- Git repository

- Chat, via bundled Mattermost (gitter/slack)

- CI (jenkins)

- Docker registry

Plus, they're planning on adding even more features. We have a self-hosted instance at work and I use it for pretty much everything other than email and actually writing code.

Thanks, this is exactly what we're doing. The complete scope is detailed on https://about.gitlab.com/direction/#scope

By the way, we see Mattermost as an alternative for Slack but not for Gitter. One is team chat and the other is 'project' chat with different requirements.

This is excellent to hear all this awesome work being done by gitLab. I was even more impressed by them recently when they admitted the production data loss and restore (such humility is rare these days). one wonders why they shouldn't rebrand and give a more apt name, at the outset you wont know they offer so much

The name doesn't help with that but I think renaming it would be a huge time sink for our customers, users, and ourselves.

Mattermost is the one thing listed above that I don't use. What do you see as the differences between team and project chat? I've always seen Gitter as chat with one room per repo; on the other hand, I've also never had a team chat.

We see Gitter as more of a place than a product. It's a community (single network) where anyone can participate in just about anything. It's about connecting developers around the world to one another through the medium of chat.

Sure it can do similar things to Slack/MatterMost, but that's not the intention of what we're trying to do with it.

Project chat is easier to enter. Anyone can join.

Does that really add that much more value over and above essentially the same setup except the tabs are implemented by your browser on different web pages?

It does , because this is one platform with fully inter operable work item, build number, change set id , deployment server integration readily available , if you notice the individual tools, they come from different org's and have different way of working , except that they have a rest API exposed for you to integrate any other tool in a limited way. Its like when a developer makes one line of code change , he or she can use this platform to shepherd the change into production in a fully automated manner and take responsibility for the same.

Provide a paid subscription to Android updates for old popular phones. Don't add new features (unless it's easy), just make sure they remain secure.

Phones are lasting longer and longer, the main reason to get a new one is no longer that it's too slow, it's the lack of updates. It's very wasteful.

The problem here is that the people who are actually aware and concerned about security updates (or lack thereof) are the technologically literate who upgrade to a new phone fairly frequently.

The target market that you want to secure is generally either unaware of or apathetic towards security concerns (until they get hit).

But the people who are knowledgeable also give recommendations to their friends and family who want something that just works.

If you can buy a 1-2 year old phone for $100-$200 (without contract) and pay an extra $10 per year to receive security updates, that's a pretty good deal.

My recommendations to use full disk encryption etc go ignored.

Wow, i could definitely see this as a viable business model for LineageOS (previously Cyanogen) I wonder if they ever considered it.

Figure out some way to reliably get an IP connection between two any devices without help from a central server or service. Kill Skype, etc.

It is impossible to set up a peer-to-peer connection between two devices on symmetric NAT, often used by mobile carriers (or at least it was last time I looked into doing so a few years ago). A STUN server can be used to initiate between other forms of NAT, and TURN can act as a passive full-time intermediary, but there's no way to avoid some sort of central server in many cases.

Since then mobile carriers have started doing IPv6 in a big way.

I understand that T-Mobile supports handset to handset IPv6 connections. So that's a place to start.

The stock market (ready for disruption).

There is a new generation of investors who are not interested in the 'old stock market' but who are instead looking for equity investment that can offer the efficiency, integrity and anonymity that cryptocurrency provides.

A good example for anonymous investments are bearer bonds. They're illegal in most countries (in their purest form) because they're a prime tool for money laundering. It won't be different for any other anonymous investment.

Also, stock markets are by far more efficient than bitcoin, especially when it comes to larger investments. A reason why algo traders are so widespread is because it's extremely cheap to buy/sell stocks if you're an institutional.

The lawyers may take issue with that one. Anonymous equity seems rather far-fetched.

Replacing real estate agents and brokers.

Most of the value they provide can be replaced by (or already is) technology. The only thing keeping them afloat is regulation.

People are trying to do this in the UK with businesses like Purple Bricks.

Given the aggregators exist (in the UK, Zoopla & RightMove are our Zillow) that's where all the eyeballs are and how people find properties. You can then list your own property there.

Before I started Gitter, I nearly went into exactly this space, but there are a few negatives:

1. People are generally bad at sales 2. People are generally bad at negotiating 3. People are generally afraid of complex paperwork

Sure, the system can help with these things and maybe nobody has nailed this yet because there are a few companies trying in this space and nobody seems to be coming out on top.

Opendoor seems promising- company buys houses from sellers to sell to buyers. Guarantee of a sale seems more important than maximizing return, so they've experienced success in quite a few markets in the Southwest

Disrupting that industry would be tough. Zillow came close, but the industry in general is so protective that anything perceived as a minor threat is blackballed. My bro-in-law RE agent bashes Zillow all the time.

I think baby steps are essential. A good first step is a broker-licensed startup with self-serve/AI agents. Why do I need an agent to look at houses when I can just find a house myself? The listing side can remote-unlock a house for me to look at. The buyer then keeps most of the commission.

Would the unique value proposition for the buyer to use this new service be that they would get a rebate on purchasing this house through this new service?

Perhaps at first, but the eventual goal is to get rid of the expensive commissions altogether.

Many countries can't participate on iOS, Play, Amazon, Stripe etc. People in many countries jump through hoops just to use e.g. PayPal.

Apple recently removed apps from Iranian developers who were circumventing restrictions by pretending to be from another country.

Millions of other developers can't participate in online markets we take for granted, unless someone facilitates it for them.

I believe there are three good indicators to look at:

- Infrastructure, these can also be called enablers. E.g. fiber accelerates Internet usage, AWS drastically accelerates SaaS businesses. Over time this acceleration will also happen in e.g. biotech and such introductions are to look for. If the infrastructure is missing, its likely gonna take some more time. Success stories in this category would be Spotify, Netflix and most apps.

- Accumulators is similar to a network effect. Information, money, users and customers are orbiting certain networks and companies. These instances are in their domains black holes and it's mostly a bad idea trying to restrain or compete. The opportunity is to harness the momentum. A success story in this category would be Buzzfeed.

- Automation, we are living in the golden age of automation. Essentially it's just to evaluate all repetitive tasks finding those with the highest value to the lowest investment.

Adding to this, we often see a pattern of Innovation -> Commoditization -> Aggregation.

Cloud computing is currently in the commoditization phase. The next step is aggregation.

There will be an opportunity for a company that successfully "abstracts away" the many different cloud providers, creating a single interface to a computing marketplace with supply spanning all providers.

There are a few companies trying to do this that I've seen. Can't remember the names offhand, but I know packet.net partners with one of them to sell their excess capacity.

1. Capsule-style rooms for <$200/month

2. Ketogenic diet cafeterias

3. Semantic programming + smart contracts + automated UI design

4. Social score (trust, reliability, predictability)

5. Mechanical Turk / AI powered object recognition

There was a Black Mirror episode called Nosedive that partially covered the topic of Social Score.


Out of curiosity how would your "Social Score" suggestion differ from Klout?

Anything related to lucid dreams? Think of the ability to utilize the 8 hours of sleep for something productive or recreational. It will take atleast a decade before VR catches up with the level of detail you get in lucid dreams. Something that makes them more accessible for people, so that everyone could get this "me time" every night would be amazing.

If you want to try, just keep on asking yourself if you are awake throughout the day. Try reading something, it's difficult to read something on dreams. Or try using electricity switches, they normally don't work in a dream. Sooner or later you would find while doing this that you are in a dream. From there, sky is literally the limit. Imagine whatever you want, fly across mountains, travel in spaceships, etc. till the time you wake up.

Lucid dreaming is not part of normal sleep cycle. It reduces deep sleep time and most people report that after long time with lucid dreams they feel exhausted and they feel like they haven't slept at all. So, in the longterm it is harmful.

Imagine if you had a nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a desalination plant on it. You could sail from country to country and fill 'em up with fresh water.

It may not be able to produce more water than a single city requires:

Charleston, SC uses 50 million gallons of water per day*

For reference, that's about 75 Olympic size pools (at 660,000 gallons per).

* source: https://sc.water.usgs.gov/infodata/wateruse.html

Well I wasn't thinking about pulling up to a US city, more like Chad, Somalia, etc. They'd be thrilled with 1 gallon per head per day.

How is an aircraft carrier going to get to Chad?


Person to person IT support. A service where I could get help with my computer, but not from a company that tries to sell me junk software. I let a person with IT skills connect to my pc while interacting by chat or microphone, I pay them by time spent helping me.

There's MouseSquad or local IT. A lot of computer problems tend to be more hardware or require reboot or physically attaching disks/usb to the machine for troubleshooting.

Mousesquad has shutdown, that's the first google result. I don't see results for localit related to computer.

About your comment, imagine that the app can know my location, and pair me with a local expert, if the expert has to go to the other person home to fix their computer the price increases.

I meant geek squad at best buy. I still remember the old mouse squad learning program (but not entirely dead it's just launched with a different initiative). Thanks for correcting.

Do you see the name "Best buy", how can I work for geeksquad? I mean something more like Uber, where everybody that knows how to drive can become a taxi driver in an hour.

I understand your focus here, but I'm not sure how you'd establish consumer confidence. Driving at least comes with a state issued certificate that you are capable of driving the car, and it's a bare minimum requirement. Obviously other factors will come into what makes a good taxi driver, but the bare essentials can be quickly verified.

I'm not sure what equivalent you could have for computer service to provide the same baseline of consumer trust; peek on craigslist and you'll find dozens of computer service postings for even a small town, and in large cities it gets even bigger. I agree that it's probably an area that could benefit from a loosely centralized provider, but adoption seems like it will be very difficult.

"I'm not sure what equivalent you could have for computer service to provide the same baseline of consumer trust"

Have you heard of IT certifications?, each vendor provides certifications based of their technologies, Microsoft has a lot of different certification programs.

If the client only wants to know the basic usage of a program, the service could pair it with another person not certified. If it's a company requiring for help or a developer in their home, he could request for "advanced service" and then a certified person could help in the specific field of the problem.

You can have a reputation system, with badges that determine how the person has being helpful, reviews from the clients etc.

I am not sure where you live, but "become a taxi driver in an hour" is not even remotely possible.

You need a TLC license, at least in NY. Insurance, exams and getting a car. Uber in NY requires TLC. Some other states in US are more relaxed.

BestBuy could extend their GeekSquad service by incorporating other vendors into the service line. Half of computer problems require physical touch of the computer. I guess what you wanted to do is to turn SuperUser on stackexchange into a paid subscription, allowing people to pay a few $$ to do remote help, and a platform for people to sell their computer help service.

Dispersion of research. I find that research and knowledge derived from it, could be shared much more effectively with industry / the public.

Legal tech is ripe. E-discovery is what everyone is paying attention to, but no one has got it right so far. Additionally there are many other areas with opportunities that aren't getting as much attention. Basically take on anything LexNex is doing now.

Build cheaper houses

The main reason 'housing' is getting more expensive is zoning regulations + limited supply of land in desirable areas. You can still find cheap houses in places that not many people want to live in.

Someone tried to do this in Boston by hiring Maine residents to build the components and then shipping the components down to be put in place. The permit was rejected in part because it was taking away local jobs and in part because it would change the character of the neighborhood.

The value of homes is mostly in the land. 600k house? the land is 350k, construction materials and labor comes in at 150-200, 50-100k left over is margin for the developer.

Yeah. Does anybody know why walls for houses aren't built in factories (with electrical, plumbing, insulation, etc already inside)?

Yes! From first principles, one look at materials cost to build a home leaves one with the feeling that prices could potentially be cut by an order of magnitude.

A truly customizable browser for power users. Kind of like Firefox is currently, but not about to render most of its useful add-ons obsolete.

A light field projector so we can get sharp images projected on any surface in any lighting. That would be huge for all types of applications that hinge on projectors. Imagine smart boards but in any area projected from all types of objects.

Design refugee-camps. Many of them gonna be needed in 25 years.

Like pop-up city/shelters?

I thought about "temporary" cities that are actually gonna stay.

How to do efficiently provide medical services. How to lay it out so that violence won't spread etc.

A better DVR for cord cutters. The Tivo has a ridiculous monthly fee, and the Tablo is garbage. HDHomerun's DVR software is decent, but in its current form I don't see it as something I'd sell to my grandparents.

What's the use case? Recording over the air programming?

None of these are all that flashy, but one could probably find a nice niche:

- Most bars/restaurants still use Aloha for point of sale system. Surely someone can update this concept.

- A kitchen inventory system that doesn't rely on manual data entry, but rather barcode readers and electronic weight sensors to maintain an up to date kitchen inventory.

- In biotech, the state of off-the-shelf LIMS (laboratory information management systems) is pitiful. Granted, it's a tough problem to generalize, but every solution out there is clunky.

- A UI builder platform for non-frontend-devs to create interfaces to REST APIs through drag-and-drop form elements.

Mechanical Turk for Programming tasks would be great to see.

Me and a friend of mine built something similar (think Upwork + StackOverflow) as a side project a while back - https://www.ladr.io/

Unfortunately we couldn't put in as much time back then. But I am thinking of picking up the project again. Any feedback would be appreciated.


Biggest: largest, most ambitious, most lucrative, riskiest, highest impact? I have one that meets all of those criteria. Ditch legacy and redefine one language/OS to rule them all. Give app stores the middle finger. Throw the web browser away. Throw away antiquated build systems. Create a universal, minimal, extensible, and sensible layout and rendering engine. Create an imperative language as fast as c yet portable at the code level. Oh, and expect no one to invest in your madness. :) Be Steve Jobs and throw away the floppy disk and CD ROM before anyone else.

OK, so say you do that. What advantages do you think you could realize through this ground up rewrite?

Look at the millions of complaints filed about HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc. There is huge room for improvement in the way we write native and web applications - the fact that we still make a distinction signals its own problem. We can do better, and there will always be room for more innovation and improvement.

'From the ground up' doesn't always equate better. In this case, why not just innovate and improve on the tools that are already in use?

I agree. Similarly, keeping around tech with several decades of built-up cruft can also hurt your cause when you are trying to build an elegant, concise, and predictable system. :) You can keep putting a new coat of paint on 1950 Ferrari, even regularly changing out its parts, but it will never match something designed from the ground up with modern tech. The web browser, by nature of its spontaneous birth, ill-thought-out design, and insistence on backwards compatibility places many bent nails in the foundation. Adding on new layers to an old thing almost inevitably results in leaky abstraction.

I have projects that are 10 years old. The code isn't unusable, but I know I can do better. Sometimes adapting the old code just makes it ugly, hard to maintain, and error prone. So when it makes sense, I usually start fresh.

ML in CRUD apps. Doesn't have to be fancy, doesn't have to be sophisticated. I think you could do a lot to make basic business tasks more efficient with some basic decision trees.



Function as a service (like AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions and Azure Functions) for Ruby. None of these natively support Ruby ^1 ^2. It's mind boggling that this is the case, especially considering how many Rails/Sinatra apps there are!

^1 Sure there is hacks for getting Ruby running on them, but no native support

^2 Yes I know about Ironworker, from iron.io, but they're going a dockerized and up market and don't even display pricing any more. :(


Please don't do this here.

While we seek out new areas that are ripe for disruption, I'm particularly excited about what MapD is doing using GPUs in analytics.

Disclaimer: I don't work for MapD.

Simplify worldwide taxing, company creation, money routing?

That is not a technology problem. Every tried to get a law passed?

What about a unified interface which takes into account each sub-jurisdiction's arcane rules and gives you advice how to handle things?

Of course you would be paying to keep the product up to date with local laws.

That sounds like a good idea, but don't underestimate just how complex law and tax is in each country. You need hundreds of lawyers to sift through this. There are so many law and accounting consultants for a reason.

I once met an SAP-contractor who was paid 5 digit amounts for implementing 1000 loc modules that was required because a tiny paragraph of some pension-law in a single country was updated.

TV's that work. I have the most god awful rats nest of cables in the corner of my living room - someone needs to make the iMac of TV's.

I'm hoping it will be voice application development. I think it will take off once the 3rd platform announces. It will be Siri or Cortana.

A global VOIP service that is based on open standards. Or an open social network, also based on open standards. Both should be extensible.

> A global VOIP service that is based on open standards.

Is SIP [1] not open?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_Initiation_Protocol

SIP is open, but none uses it :/ That's why I feel pushing for open standards is the key: it will allow you to install any voip app as long as it is compatible (follows the open standards).

It's unbelievable that we are moving to 100% Internet area, regular phones are deprecated, yet we are full of Silos. Skype user can't call Google hangouts user, Facebook user can't talk to Twitter user.

Imagine what would happen if we had the same issues with our phone lines. The last real open service we created as a humanity is email. At least SMTP still works.

diasporafoundation.org and elgg.org are open social networks that can be tweaked to once specific requirements and can be hosted on a digitalOcean droplet for example.

A binary, pre-parsed version of HTML with its smartphone browser. Maybe with python scripting?

Anyway something that would make the web on phones great.

On a philosophical level, what you are asking for is what Google's AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) was designed to solve except that this will leave us with a web much broken than how we started.

Broken, why?

Wonder what could change in the areas of online recruitment and candidate sourcing? It's a nice business because the business demand is always there - just provide the candidates. Still after Indeed/Simplyhired and Glassdoor, no major innovation besides some niche engineer scraping/sourcing tech. WHat could be done there?

I think there are some pretty cool things that can be done here. A lot of organizations follow similar structures. Engineer -> Lead Engineer -> Director of Engineering -> Senior Director, etc. Since they follow similar patterns / needs, humans also follow patterns as well, engineers looking to move up into management or deeper into engineering as 1-2 years pass. Matching these two up can be done by scraping / ML.

At the end of the day recruiting is all about matching the right candidate with the right job. Right candidate = one who has the skills and motivation (wanting to move up, work for specific types of companies). Right job = organization that is heading into that phase / requesting it.

I'm not a recruiter, but I have a startup for matching candidates and jobs on criteria other than what appears on resumes and LinkedIn, but it's hard to get much candidate volume. Even if (a huge "if") I'm right, and this is a much better way to match, it doesn't mean the world will change form what's "working" (or at least familiar) and adapt a new approach. Internal recruiters are often extremely busy and lots of new startups do a nice job of streamlining their work.

Sounds like the classic 10x problem. Switching costs are so high that your solution needs to be 10x and/or you find an underserved piece of the market to start

I'm not a VC, but I see this huge thing: Popularizing large-scale opportunities.

I mean, there is a huge amount of investments that small and medium business all around the world do not do because they don't have enough scale to get a good ROI from them. And they most often lack that scale because there's a labor cost within that investment that doesn't vary with business size. If you reduced the non-elastic labor cost, you'd normally open up a market that grows exponentially with that cost reduction.

Now, there are all kinds of ways to go after this. In theory, that's the most obvious huge application of an AI, but there are simpler avenues for that, like standardizing things, mass-selling things that currently require personalization, creating high productivity tools, or just pushing some prices down and hoping for the best (what may be the greatest way to spend VC money).

Going to be devil's advocate here, but if a business has to be large scale to have a good ROI, then it should be reworking its business plan so that it profits at smaller scales. We can't just simply pump capital into all businesses assuming they will actually profit at a higher scale -> That's the "if you build it, they will come" philosophy, and we have plenty of examples of that not working.


This is a bit broad, but essentially there are issues that we have in society that end up costing tax payers, and individuals a lot of money, or are simply really inefficient. Education is one such thing, but you could also branch out into other issues such as theft, health care, environmental issues.

You can see that there are certain companies that are helping to tackle these issues in various roundabout ways, but I believe that there is big opportunity here, and it's kind of easy to quantify these issues, which makes it easy to sell solutions.

Sorry if this sounds very broad and generic, but I promise if you sit on this idea, and take just a single societal issue, once you start to dig a bit deeper you'll see opportunities jump out.

> Education [...] health care, environmental issues.

All of those are public goods/tragedy of the commons issues operating in highly political regulated environments. Very difficult for a startup to make a difference there in a way that can make a return.

Theft on the other hand is gradually being diminished by technology: the same omnisurveillance of always-on IoT devices makes it easier to remote-brick them or find their location if they're stolen. The problem shifts to hacking and ransomware.

The barriers in place are reasons why they're good areas to innovate.

It may be difficult, but that's all part of the game.

Also on theft - not everything is an iPhone, and I don't believe tracking is very prevalent just yet. There's plenty of opportunity here that's currently left untouched. I'm less thinking about petty crime and more about burglaries / theft of high value goods (boats, cars etc).

I think the field of 'Agriculture' is untapped and can be / should be more advanced

Politics. Current technologies allow implementation of direct democracy. people can cast their votes on every matter to their representatives. It can simply start with a voting app for smaller institutions and eventually transform the congress as we know it.

Food. So much waste in transport, spoilage, excess out of season consumption, etc. Also a very effective means of direct charity. We are trying a new approach at http://8-food.com/

A method for semiconductor startups, especially in analog to tape out on the leading nodes.

Things that could expedite this:

Better affordable EDA tools (maybe even open source? startups that succeed and become self-sufficient would pay big bucks for customization and support). Especially for analog!

Some sort of business model which pays for masks, such as perhaps taking a percentage of the money in exchange for a MLM mask. This could be something that a mask work company does. Another related but orthogonal startup idea(albeit much harder than an app like snapchat)would be to develop a maskless lithography technique for cutting edge nodes, such as electron beam lithography.

Easy, personal access to cloud computing. I have a macbook and am pretty satisfied with it. But a problem is, that in order to learn data-science/deep learning i need a beefy GPU/CPU and everything else. I could buy a desktop, but i am a student and not much at home, also in the age of cloud computing this seems silly. Also the upfront investment for a student is not negligible.

I want really easy, flexible instances that are super, super simple to activate. Something like click website -> click start GPU with tensorflow preinstalled -> upload & run my python.

Ideally per minute-billing and super, super simple to set-up and ssh into.

So you want rollapp to add some kind of python IDE. Could happen. Works well enough with emacs. Price is not too ridiculous. You'd have to work top down and given some sort of python IDE you'd need to install your tensorflow stuff.

Going bottom up a lot of people for a very long time (decade+ now) have been using services like linode as a personal server, here's your ubuntu install now now put "whatever" on it and run it remotely.

Doesn't Google Cloud Compute do exactly this? Go to gcc website, log in, click new instance, pick machine/specs, ssh into it.

Amazon, Google and IBM are all tackling this quite well. Not really startup territory.

However, and I have done some work in this space, perhaps providing simple-to-use services built on top of these and offering them to non-technical folks would be a good business model?

A while back I looked at a (HN formed?) startup www.paperspace.io which offered something similar. Ended up not using it due to security requirements as I wanted to host a proprietary process on it but I loved the concept.

AWS is 90% of the way there already

I think Agricultural sector in India is largely untapped by startup revolution despite being a major force in IT & Software development. It is very very tough nut to crack and majority of farmers in India are not very educated.


Half of the energy used every day, worldwide, is used on transportation (cars, trains etc.). But is this energy well spent? I have seen first-hand, and so have you, that people spend their mornings unhappily commuting to work, school etc.

This needs to be changed, and given how fast technology has been advancing in recent years - change is coming sooner rather than later when it comes to transportation.

Great question by the way, have a look through YC's RFC list. https://www.ycombinator.com/rfs/#vrar

I think there are a lot of grants start-ups could take advantage of. In particular there is one about promoting farmer's markets (note you basically have to be a non-profit entity to apply)


And I noticed all of the previous winners were other farmer's markets managers expanded their current market. It would be nice to see some new way of helping the underserved community get food.

So examples I've seen are ideas are mini markets at bus stops.

We need to simplify the whole lifecycle of data management. It is still considerably complex. We'll see an accelerated revolution in other areas such as machine learning when this simplification is complete.

I am not sure what kind of data and what kind of data management you are referring to. But from my own perspective, data management is not always a technology problem. Data management should be addressed top-down, with business owning the data quality. Technology should be used to help identify and correct data issues.

'Top-down' is actually why data management is still the way it is. Our handling of the primitives (think bottom-up approach) that build up to how things are structured at the higher level is still subpar at best, resulting in the massive inconsistencies, scaling issues and data integrity problems we face daily. Neurons (near-atomic components), from the biological sciences are still being compared analogously with more complex data structures in computing, raw grapes and wine style. Per being a technology problem, the question was about area/market segment requiring a breath of fresh air, not particularly what technology needs to be deployed.

Top-down means the top is responsible for data quality's failure. Engineering can only build what the business anticipated to get, but in the end, human needs to be the one driving the mandate. When you are looking at enterprise data management, with many data format and global business, with many legacy systems in place, data management is not possible without a full commitment from the top. Heads of each business division has to be responsible for the shit their department produced. Whenever engineering shouts "data management" the business will just leave that to the engineering folks to build automated system, but who is actually looking after the data? Machines doesn't know what they are doing - someone is coding the expectation, that's all. But data management is dynamic. You can't just have an engineer shouts "this stinks". The business needs to own the shout and the mandate.

Data management is a hard problem because most of the companies have different requirements and culture, that's why many "data-driven" companies try to build their in-house own analytics solution. In order to address this problem, we're working on an open-source data analytics platform that let's you to collect data from anywhere and manage it easily with our cloud. Unlike many other analytics services, it solves ETL, data warehouse and BI problem transparently to you so that you can customize them for your needs. It stores your data in optimized format with a schema and allows you to query your data with both SQL and complex behavioral analytics queries via RESTFul API. Check it out: https://github.com/rakam-io/rakam

That is a wish that has been there since 50 years, yet nobody was able to solve it. There's just no golden rule for managing data. Even if you find smart ways to manage much of it, there will always be exceptions.

Some sort of sonar/x-ray to see what's in the ground before digging. Ever wanted to make a hole and then you hit a big rock ... Or when plowing down fiber, or for calculating the costs for doing so.

You must mean something cheap, portable, relatively small, etc - because ground penetrating radar is a thing:


I could see something that could be "attached" to a cell phone (via bluetooth or such), attached to a stick or such (like a metal detector) - would be useful. Sonar would probably be the cheapest way, but the power requirements would be fairly large (at least as much as what's needed for a fish-finder, I would imagine).

Hmm - gotta give some thought to this!

Doesn't seem like that many groups have really both studied the existing AGI research _and_ are seriously trying to apply the latest NN developments like GANs to (virtually) embodied AGI.

This isn't really a startup idea, this is more of a basic research idea, and one that's years away at that.

No group studies AI because it's an unproductive use of research time, and also it's hard to write proposals to raise funding when the goal is ambiguously defined.

Anti-gravity and permanent batteries.

The utilities industry, industrial IoT, smart grids, and "Industry 4.0"...These will be the next innovation areas in my opinion.

Traditional blogging.

Hence why we're working on improving the blogging experience that hasn't changed and/or improved much in almost 2 decades.

Our "manifesto" explains it in full here: http://blogenhancement.com/?to=manifesto

I'm going to say the obvious: VR. Really, there will be an explosion in VR sells and when it happens it will be too late to be there. I don't think it's going to be a fluff this time, we just need the right killer application and I know what's going to be.

The big question is where is money in VR (except for entertainment).


I can't resist

"By wearing this standard ear-bud headphone, modified with a small piezoelectric sensor, the user can control their phone solely with their neural impulses. Point, click, drag, even type...all using only brainwaves.Think it...and it happens."

I would contest if it's untapped.

Silicon Valley?

Small and Regional government decision making and administration tools.

-- Geo-spatial -- Tax analysis -- Real property automation (a dozen different workflows) -- Permit automation and analysis(multiple workflows) -- Licensing automation and analysis

ChatBots: One big opportunity that i can see is the rise of chatbots on popular messaging platforms. It is going to bring the tech advances to a lot more people in a much easier way.

Question: I've seen a large amount of hype around chat bots, but is there any evidence that "normal" people really use these for anything more than novelty, excluding the realm of Amazon echo et al.

Completely anecdotal - a non-programmer at my work used a chat bot provided by their ISP to help them with some internet connectivity problems. I was surprised too.

I might postulate that programmers have more of an aversion to chatbots than the general public. Presumably because we tried one of the famous general purpose ones at some point - then were disappointed when we failed to make it understand why humans cry and why it is something they could never do.

Chat bots would make new and prospective customers FAQs/enquiries easier for lots of small businesses, especially in emerging markets where a large swath of people are coming online for the first time via their mobile phones.

Many of these users are not that familiar with the WWW aspect of the Internet; Facebook and Whatsapps is really the Internet for them.

I'm not sure if this would pass a security review, but occasionally I've had some issue with a bank or credit card account, I've then used the chat-based technical support, and the conversation was very straightforward.

I could definitely see chatbots becoming advanced enough to handle "I'm locked out of my account and need some part of it reset" type questions within the next 3 - 5 years. I could even see it being superior to the current experience (right now there are significant delays after each thing I say to the customer service person, presumably because they're handling multiple chat windows simultaneously).

True P2P social networking. No ads since there will be little infra to support. Solves major privacy concerns when data is decentralized and not monetized.

House service/maintenance/repair. Severe lack of professionalism and customer-service-orientedness there. Serious disruption needed.


What do you mean?

It's a concrete example, where the rubber hits the road, that facilitates commerce and exchange, used the world over.


Some ideas:

1) Post-quantum encryption.

2) Desalination.

3) Storing kynetic energy.

4) Echo/acoustic mapping (inspired in bats) system for blind people.

5) Quantum computer chips operating at room temperature.


Desalination is definitely a big one, innovation here may be needed to head off major ecological/humanitarian catastrophes.

Desalination itself isn't hard, keeping it affordable is.

Between ill-advised agricultural ventures in the past few decades and clumsy regulation here in the GCC, groundwater deposits are draining frighteningly fast. Desalination is just too expensive as it is since it's directly linked to hydrocarbon prices and deposits.

The maritime industry specifically bunker fuel

Use blockchain

Handheld (spectrometry?) scanner for food - check for most common cases of mold, toxins, contaminants.

Check this one https://www.consumerphysics.com/, I already have one.

Does this give an accurate calorie count just by visually scanning food


New web browser that is legacy tech compatible (i.e. HTML, JS, CSS) but also natively supports new options for scripting and styling. I feel like JS/CSS in particular are just not what we should settle for. We've grown accustom to working with them but I think there is a lot of possibility for better front-end technology in the future.

Multiplying the value of bitcoin.

iPhone was released 10 years ago. We have insanely more capable screens, cpu:s, gpu:s, sensors. Find what's next and you will make a dent in the universe.

Interesting that no-one here mentions fake news.

Stop paying high rent and move out of the city center. This not only saves the business money but every single employee that also doesn't have to pay high rent.

help large inefficient organizations reinvent their structure

such a great qn. what about health intervention for elderly?

Airbnb for clothes.

Uber shoes.

It's higher fashion, which is perhaps the limiting factor, but Rent the Runway was "Airbnb for clothes" pretty well: https://www.renttherunway.com/

international markets.

The leading cause of death is cardiovascular disease. >90% of these cases can be attributed to an overweight population. It's not an easy problem to solve, but there has to be a way to fix it. Lots of calorie counting apps, activity trackers, motivational reminder apps, etc. Obesity is very complicated, but there are three basic facts:

1. Calories in, calories out is the golden rule.

2. The vast majority of calories come from carbohydrates.

3. Carbohydrates activate addictive dopaminergic pathways (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/pdf/nih...)

People overeat because food is easy to access, and it provides a short-term, immediate chemical reward. External rewards often need to be introduced to break this vicious cycle. Hobbies, relationships, career achievements, etc. can function as alternative rewards. Perhaps there is a way for technology to provide short-term rewards in lieu of eating?

Calories in, calories out is not the golden rule, and this has been scientifically proven false.

Also, hilarious adventure I went on once: I ate 4000 calories of bacon a day and nothing else for a month... ended up cutting it off a little early because I was losing weight too quickly.

Your second and third points however are scientifically supported, but do not confuse this with "obesity is complicated." It is not how many calories you eat, it is where they come from.

I used to weigh 340 pounds, I went strictly Paleo, did not increase caloric burn, did not decrease caloric intake in any meaningful way, hit 214 in a year, and then continued dropping; roughly 2000 calories a day and not a lot of exercise (was afraid of joint damage due to weighing so much).

You've provided almost no information, but at 340 lbs it's possible your TDEE was more than 4000 calories/day, meaning it's possible you went on a reduced calorie diet with your bacon strategy. Without more information, your anecdote is useless, and even with more information it's still just an anecdote.

Also, Paleo, like any similar structured diet, is just a trick to get you to ingest fewer calories.

And I'm going to piggy back on the [citation needed] about calories in/out being scientifically disproven.

[1] https://mytdee.com/#gender=male&yr=30&cm=182.9&kg=154.2&bfp=...

While not the OP, there is research demonstrating that the blood glucose and insulin response to various carbohydrate sources is highly specific to the individual. In the study I'm thinking of, some people were given cookies, others were given bananas (among other things). The responses weren't consistent at all.

As for calories in/out being a simplification, while it is mostly true, the tricky bit is that calories out actually varies wildly with the foods you eat. Your body's hormonal milieu changes very significantly with what you eat, and that has a massive impact on your biochemistry. Additionally, the microbes in your gut have certain food preferences, and they can metabolize a significant fraction of the calories you eat. Thus, hormonal shifts and rate of microbial metabolism can spike your "calories out" far above what would be predicted by BMR and activity level (and the reverse is unfortunately true as well).

I think this is what people are missing. The laws of thermodynamics are not being violated with these various diets, and like you mentioned, for certain individuals their metabolism is being increased.

This suggests something tech could actually help with.

Since each person has a different gut microfauna, if we had a system to measure my gut and compute what foods would be good for me, we could design custom diets for each person.

I agree with you to an extent. However, none of this changes the fact that consistent exercise increases the rate of metabolism significantly and generally leads to better mental and physical health. It also doesn't change the fact that eating at a caloric deficit will always lead to weight loss. A caloric deficit alone is not enough for one to reduce to a healthy weight as they may also be losing large amounts of muscle mass. Conclusion: Consistent exercise and a well-balanced diet are still the best ways to become healthy and maintain health.

But it's not that simple -- "eating at a caloric deficit" isn't a constant thing. You can eat less, but your metabolism might drop even further, so eating less calories can lead to weight gain, or a loss of muscle mass that is more than made up for by a gain in fat. And plenty of research shows that exercise is, for most people, counterproductive for weight loss because they wind up eating afterwards than the calories they burn. Yes, exercise leads to general better health, but that's a very different goal from losing weight.

>"eating at a caloric deficit" isn't a constant thing. You can eat less, but your metabolism might drop even further

This exactly why I mentioned consistent exercise. Exercise will speed up your metabolism as it causes the breakdown of muscle mass and other tissues which then need to be repaired and improved by your body. You can push exercise even further by buying into linear progression and training your body to rebuild itself in order to adapt to your training regimen.

>research shows that exercise is, for most people, counterproductive for weight loss because they wind up eating afterwards than the calories they burn

This is not an argument against my position. This is caused by a lack of discipline. Also, eating after exercise can be a good thing. The effects of a heavy weight lifting session will linger for several days and burn far more calories than the actual session itself. The muscle that was damaged during the training session needs high quality nutrients to be rebuilt. I, for one, usually eat a philly cheese steak or hamburger if I have a really intense training session because I know I need the fat and protein. People seem to think that exercise is a means to burn calories. It is not. Exercise is a means to an end. For some people, it's strength, for others it may be rock climbing. For others still, it may be for general health.

>Yes, exercise leads to general better health, but that's a very different goal from losing weight

My argument is that losing weight is a means to becoming healthy. You cannot become healthy without a well balanced diet AND consistent exercise. If your goal is simply to lose weight, exercise will aid you in that endeavor AS LONG AS your diet is in order.

Becoming healthy is not a diet. It's not going to the gym once a week. Becoming healthy is a lifestyle choice and not everyone has the foresight and discipline to do it. If someone doesn't have that discipline and self control, that's fine. Just done blame it on genetic issues or confusion. Say it like it is, you're(general you) just lazy. And that's OK.

Oh no, not the "starvation effect" nonsense again. That's been thoroughly debunked.

No, it hasn't, which is why yoyo dieting is so harmful and why refeeding people with anorexia is done so carefully.

Anorexia treatment has zero relevance to the vast majority of overweight people who need to eat much less to lose weight.

Robert Lustig[0] and Gary Taubes[1] are excellent places to start to understand that obesity is not simply about 'calories in/calories out'. Lustig has a now-infamous talk that surveys the research.[2]

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lustig [1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Taubes [2]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Relevant short video from the Documentary "FatHead" that talks a little bit about what Gary Taubes is talking about in his book. The effects of carb/sugar and the insulin response that causes fat storage. https://youtu.be/mNYlIcXynwE

It's free on Amazon Prime Video if anyone wants to watch it. I'm still only halfway through it though, so if he suddenly says we should just eat helium at the end I'm sorry. :P

Well...as of today it's no longer part of prime video. :/ But you can sign up for a 7 day trial of the extra subscription for documentaries that allows you to watch it and then cancel.

> Also, Paleo, like any similar structured diet, is just a trick to get you to ingest fewer calories.

I wouldn't classify as a trick per se but a awareness that manufacturers tend to pack processed foods with a lot more addictive items to sell more.

For example, a lot of food has added sugar under many different names. This was to add "taste" when everything went to "non" or "low" fat.

I see Paleo and its ilk to be a pull back from the processed food direction.

There's nothing special about Paleo except that for some people it's easier to restrict total calories by cutting out the things that Paleo cuts out.

By that logic, I consider Paleo to be a trick. Not in the dishonest "deceive" sense, but rather in the card trick sense, or the "one neat trick" life-hack sense.

There is a lot more to diets than calories.

Like nutrition.

To add on to this, my understanding is that technically "calories in, calories out" is correct in the sense that weight gain/loss depends on the net caloric intake for your body. But your base metabolic rate, and as a result your daily energy expenditure, is affected by many different things, including the composition of the calories and the timing of the consumption. Insulin plays a major role in weight gain/loss, and simple carbohydrates have a tendency to spike it.

This is the hard thing about the "calories in/calories out" statement, it's accurate for a specific thing: the calories of energy in a burnable form available to your body/the direct burned calories as a combination of RMR and exertion.

The issue of course is that we use it in the context of different kinds of food and a simplistic assumption about how effective we are at converting a calorie in each into a burnable form.

2000 calories of energy from custard will be processed, stored and used differently than 2000 calories of energy from chicken.

Exactly, no breakdown of thermodynamics needed, any calories not efficiently processed into usable energy will be emitted as waste.

Or ... Stored. Which is the problem.

If we really did eliminate the excess, nobody would be overweight.

No thermodynamics needed to disprove it, but we probably need something more complicated than thermodynamics to get a good picture of the real balance.

Nothing more complicated than a scale in your bathroom is needed. Check daily and see if you lose weight with whatever combination of food/activity/metabolism you have going on. If you somehow gain or lose weight, eat accordingly.

Using the scale is great if you understand proper nutrient timing and partitioning. What if you don't know the basics of nutrition though? Where do I cut from? What can I add in that will assist with satiety but still reduce overall energy absorbed? Where do I go to understand that these are questions that need to be asked in the first place?

I agree. I think the problem stems from how we determine the caloric content[0] of a food stuff. We add the known caloric content of its ingredients, which we determine by burning them. This is probably just not a good model for how the body uses food.

[0] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-food-manuf...

> Calories in, calories out is not the golden rule, and this has been scientifically proven false.

That's an extreme statement you definitely need to provide source for. I read a lot of scientific journals on the subject and have never heard anything like that.

It is technically not incorrect, but incomplete.

We know there is conservation of mass and energy in nature. Any chemical engineer can write mass and energy balance equations that represent this conservation.

Calories in = Calories out is an simplified form of a more complex energy balance equation that looks something like this:

(Enthalpy in) - (Enthalpy out) + (Heat/Energy crossing boundary) - (Work) = (Change in Internal Energy/Accumulation)

... plus a few more equations that represent component energy balances.

Calories in = Calories out makes some naive assumptions and neglects all the internal biochemical reactions, and hence presents a skewed picture of the thermodynamics.

I'll agree with you if the equation is stated like this:

(Enthalpy in) - (Enthalpy out) + (Heat/Energy crossing boundary) - (Work) - (Change in Internal Energy/Accumulation) = 0

But when you state it like you did, there's an implication that the left hand side are the causal factors and that(Change in internal energy/accumulation) is the effect coming out of those causal factors. The problem is that there are many people with deranged metabolisms where their bodies are hormonally imbalanced to increased internal energy accumulation, which then by necessity disrupt the rest of the equation by either raising food intake or reducing energy expenditure.

Strictly speaking, equations (note, not functions) represent equality between LHS and RHS, so there is no causality implied.

According to this paper, this is not true. The weight is exhaled as CO2.


>> Most people believed that fat is converted to energy or heat, which violates the law of conservation of mass. We suspect this misconception is caused by the “energy in/energy out” mantra and the focus on energy production in university biochemistry courses.

Enthalpy (note, not energy) is an extensive property, and is proportional to the mass/size of the system, so mass is already accounted for. CO2's enthalpy can be represented in the same equation.

The energy balance equation is a fundamental thermodynamic equation. It is inherently coupled with mass balance equations. If we didn't get this right, we wouldn't have been able to design chemical reactors all these years.

Unfortunately because enthalpy is a more abstract concept, it isn't very appealing to folks who like simplifications like calories in = calories out. It is, however, the correct concept.

Actually, this is the main subject of 'Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It' (https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Get-Fat-About/dp/0307474259) and the book refers to several scientific studies to support its claim.

Thanks! Ordering the book now.

This lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Basically it says that the metabolic mechanism of fructose is different from other forms of nutrition. Our bodies have no good ways to break it down without harming ourselves. The long term effects of eating fructose are comparable to long term alcohol drinking. I assume nobody would say that calories from alcohol are the same as other food sources?

Based on all of the responses to this comment I can see how someone would be completely confused on what they need to do to lose weight.

While admitting the rest of this thread is bonkers, I'll explicitly list the formula you should follow right now (science is always evolving): Change in Body Stores = (Actual Calories In - Calories Not Absorbed) - (Resting Metabolic Rate + Thermic Effect of Eating + Physical Activity + Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)

This is the more nuanced formula of calories in, calories out. Changing one variable in that equation can have an effect on the rest of the equation, which is why it appears calories is not equal to calories out. You can read about each variable here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage.

I should note that this program is published in scientific journals: http://www.invent-journal.com/article/S2214-7829(16)30006-9/... http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11764-016-0582-z http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/osp4.98/abstract

"Calories Not Absorbed" really got me thinking. While a food is labeled with their potential calories - the amount actually extracted from the food by your gut will vary significantly based on the composition of the food. The bioavailability of calories for example in a cookie versus some fibrous raw vegetable are going to differ significantly, being absorbed at different rates and to differing degrees of completeness.

Here is an interesting article with an important take away: "In general, it seems that the more processed foods are the more they actually give us the number of calories we see on the box" https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-hidden-t...

I found this recently [1] suggesting that 15-18% of calories from peanuts are excreted. It's probably more for me since they give me digestive problems and that's what made me curios about the subject too.

So I guess eating processed food vs food that's hard to digest actually matters a decent bit if you're counting calories (10-15% of your calories is not insignificant - that's almost half of what you're trying to cut on a calorie restriction diet)


Calories not absorbed has also made me think about diets like the raw food diet. Eating raw uncooked vegetables is going to reduce the calories you absorb while taking up more volume in your stomach.

I think it's really obvious that you can eat even 5000 calories a day, and under certain circumstances, not gain weight.

However, if you eat 1000 calories or less, it's impossible not to lose weight. Unless you know someone who can synthesize energy to live and move out of thin air......

That lethargy you feel when you diet is your body's metabolism slowing, and it also results in you being less active. If your metabolism totally crashed and as a result you felt so bad you didn't do much other than sit around, you might not lose weight on a 1k cal diet.

Sure, but there is a point where you are taking in less than you are using. Maybe I should have said 500kcal instead. It doesn't matter if your boby absorbs 100% of that, or 20%, or if it's all organic veggies or potato chips or straight up lard - it's just not enough to live on, and you will lose weight.

There are two problems with this diet:

1.) You will underperform in work and life in general. You will be constantly tired, appear lazy to employer (practically speaking be lazy) and will make slower stupider decisions. You may end up weighting less, but will have hard time to keep up at work.

2.) Your body will adapt and become much more efficient in extracting calories from food - people who lost weight through fasting tend to gain weight very quick. Most of them can not keep the weight long term. That practically means you gain weight first time there is longer stressful period in work or life - when all your focus goes to project you are working on o family care or whatever.

3.) You do not eat just for calories - you need also various proteins, vitamins and what not. You are damaging your body by not giving it what it needs more then by being slightly overweight.

Yes, people who don't eat at all loose weight, but there is price to pay on their health and performance. It is true that western people tend to eat way more calories then necessary, but "just eat small portions till you have target weight" advice does not work long term.

> this has been scientifically proven false.

[Citation Needed]

You'd think that if it has been scientifically proven false, it'd be one of the biggest discoveries of the century - The Human Body, A Perpetual Motion Machine! Energy from Nothing!

No wonder the robots decided to use us for batteries.

> Calories in, calories out is not the golden rule, and this has been scientifically proven false.

Citation, please.

It isn't so much that calories in/out is false, as the equation of "calories eaten - (activity + bmr) = weight change" that is false. The food you eat has a massive impact on your biochemistry (and thus your metabolic rate), and microbial metabolism also varies significantly depending on the substrate you provide them.

Watch "Food Inc" where this has been discussed in detail. http://dailyburn.com/life/health/diet-truth-calories-countin...

The beginning of the article linked says "if you usually consume 2,500 calories a day and then cut back to 1,600 calories, you’re going to lose weight from that 900-calorie daily deficit — even if all you ate was potato chips. But you won’t be healthy and you most likely won’t be able to keep the pounds off."