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Ask HN: What are some of your recent failures?
72 points by mhrnik on Sept 13, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 113 comments
After asking this question at indie hackers, I would like to know if anyone over here would like to share recent lessons from failures.

Let's celebrate failures & grow.

Oh sweet sweet failures! I'll start. I recently started trying to quit drinking for good, since it slowly turned from a thing that made me all charismatic and happy and jumping around, to a bitter angry man. This change started when I got together with my current girlfriend, since every time we would go out and have a (probably more than one) drink, I would get jealous (I'm very jealous and insecure, working on it) for stupid silly things. Problem is the alcohol made my jealousy amplified by 100x (wish it would do the same with my startup revenue)and I would flip out for nothing. Two weeks ago I promised to my gf and to myself that I would have stopped with this behavior and that I would have drunk less. No need to say, that same night, I drank waay too much and flipped out because she just glanced at another guy and made her cry and leave me there all alone, drunk and stupid. She couldn't take it anymore. Fortunately, the day after we talked about it and I decided to quit drinking cold turkey (Allen Carr's book helped a lot in this- suggested if you're in the same boat). It has been 10 days and I haven't touched a drop of alcohol nor I intend to. Working on my insecurity/jealousy as well. Your turn!

I'm coming up on three years sober this Sunday.

For me the thing that helped the most was the /r/stopdrinking sub on reddit. Reading people's experiences and techniques from all sorts of groups and books, and reading about the triggers and follies of their relapses helped me a lot. Also a place where I could talk about problems related to the sobriety was nice.

If you live in a bigger city or another you may want to look for a craft soda shop. It can be helpful when you go to a friend's where they drink. You'll have your fancy soda so you don't feel left out when they get their fancy beers. Also my 3 go to drinks for bars and such to not feel left out or another are: a mock mojito, ginger beer with a splash of cranberry juice, or a roy rogers(coke with grenadine). In that order. A lot of places can't make a mojito, some places don't have ginger beer or they have super low quality ginger beer, but everywhere has grenadine(which is pomegranate syrup not cherry...) experimenting with mocktails and stuff at home may be a good thing for you depending on what your relationship with alcohol was like.

Also last year for my soberversary I wrote an article on my sobriety and experience in tech if you want to give it a read. A lot of my points above are expanded and there's some good discussion in the comments. https://dev.to/samuraiseoul/alcohol-and-developer-culture-19...

Lastly, if you want to talk or vent or have questions feel free to reach out to me either on here, or using the contacts in the article I linked to above.

I will not drink with you today, good luck and good job on the ten days!

Thank you very much for the tips and insights. If I need help I will reach out or take a look at r/stopdrinking, but rn I feel very confident about this. I finally understood that alcohol literally has 0 upsides, therefore my desire for it is just gone. Again thank you for your time and cheers! Raises a cup of orange juice in the air

This is a success, actually. You know what the problem is and you are doing something about it. One day at a time.

I was drinking to excess in the past few months. Didn’t make it home one night. It’s way more trouble than it is worth and I plan to change my trajectory.

"Didn’t make it home one night." I know what you're talking about man. Check out Allen Carr's books. The one about smoking had me to quit cigarettes almost 1 year ago. The one about alcohol had me to quit it 10 days ago. They are amazing!

Wellbutrin helped me hugely with the craving aspect of relapsing: it's also used as a stop smoking aid and I was lucky enough to have a doctor who decided to try it. I found that once the craving was taken away it took about 6 months for the other pieces to fall into place for me to start to feel comfortable out in social situations while sober, but the amount of personal growth I made over that period of time was huge. I feel like I've finally waken up and started living my life. I was an opponent of pharmaceuticals for a long time but that one worked for me without the side effects you usually hear about with antidepressants. I thought I had tried just about everything to stop drinking and I was close to resigning myself to the kind of life I was living, but this has given me hope. I don't know if it's for everyone but it's working for me.

Try reading Allen Carr's books. They are the best. I quit smoking 11 months ago and drinking 2 weeks ago with his books. They eliminate the desire for the drugs because they nail into your head that those poisons have no upsides whatsoever.

Man, you are so self aware. That is such a huge asset. You may have a genetic predisposition to addiction. Try not to be a "dry drunk" which is a real thing and good luck. Thanks for sharing your situation.

Thank you for the kind words. I personally don't buy at all into the line of thought that says alcohol addiction is genetic. If that was true, one could be an alcoholic without drinking even one beer in his/her life, and die without knowing it. It would mean that, if alcohol was never invented/found, there would still be people with a genetic predisposition to alcohol. Can you tell if a 2 year old is an alcoholic? You see were I'm going. The more you think about this theory (that was never proven and backed by reals studies) , the less it makes sense. The AA are doing a great job at supporting people in need of help, providing them with a group of people to relieve their burden with. But I truly believe that they're based on the wrong assumptions. Again thank you and wish you the best!

It's great to hear that you quit drinking. I quit for my own reasons and I'm approaching 2 years now. Keep going, it gets easier! :-)

thanks for the support, I really appreciate it :)

kudos man! And good luck :) I haven't drank since uni (about 5 years ago), and don't miss it :) You'll be fine, no worries.

Wow that's amazing! Yeah it's poison and doesn't do you any good. the so-called benefits are a mental illusion.

Check out the Sinclair method for reducing/ resolving drinking problems with a simple medication. It worked for me. From heavy drinking to regular use or even way less than regular use. Recommend 10/10.

I heard of it, thank you. But I live in Italy and to get a prescription for it here it's harder. I read Allen Carr's book and it did the trick for me!

Working on this myself, IWNDWYT

Well, not recent, but a few years ago I deleted the production database of my fathers rental company (whoops). The (manual) backup was a week old. Luckily, all data was still there, but on paper (all signed contracts) so I worked overnight to restore all data from the paper pile.

After this, I built a script that did a backup once a day and made sure I had to go through some extra hoops to connect to the production database from my own dev machine.

All in all, this was a good learning experience.

I hope you also periodically validate your backups with restoration as well - A backup is only good if it can be restored.

This! I've been backing up my Ubuntu machine using DejaDup (built in Ubuntu backups), only to realise - when my machine died - that they don't work. This was stupid on my part.

Talking of deletion...I mistakenly deleted production server, yesterday! I was trying to create some AWS micro instance in Mumbai region which were for some reasons were not accessible. Eventually I had to create a mini instance. So I was terminating all those micro instances and some where by mistake one of my important prod instances got selected and boom.

Though I had an AMI created few months back and it took around 15 mins to get latest code working but yeah I learnt my lesson.

But again I think this is a bad ux from AWS where you can directly terminate any instance without any prompt or warning. I hope they change it some day!

I'd suggest turning termination protection on across production instances as a first solution, and consider some sort of infrastructure as code in the long term.

I know how that feels. Even worse than any program or script, I especially dislike db management tools that just allow you to fire off random queries against the db. On the other hand you always get these little adrenaline rushes every time you do something like that until you can confirm that you actually fired that delete statement on the correct table... or not.

The trick is to execute a BEGIN TRANSACTION, then do whatever you need to, then verify that you've done everything correctly (consider doing this twice). Then, only when you're absolutely certain all is as it should be, do you execute a COMMIT TRANSACTION.

All of this is predicated on the idea that you know exactly what changes you need to make, exactly what state the database should be in afterwards, exactly how to verify this, and also how to check for unintended side-effects.

I suppose the real trick is to avoid having to do this kind of thing in the first place but, as well all know, sometimes that's just not possible.

Oh dear, I know that feeling. It's just a few rows and you've done it a hundred times before. You type in the delete query in a rush and look at it for a minute.. Just to make sure... Well OK: You hit F5 and then it runs... and runs... and runs...

(12'503'450 rows affected)

Oh crap.

That was an example of what could be called a teachable moment. I'm remembering my standout moment as I type, the 'oh no, oh no' as I realised what was happening.

You can avoid accessing the production database entirely, unless you need to alter the structure, by creating a local one - which you've created via the restoration of your last backup.

Most recent: Failed to get out of bed this morning at the time I comited to the night before. I wanted to get up at 8, be at work around 9, got in at 10/11. Fairly recent: I have been doing it like this for three weeks now

My larger failure: I was hired as a contractor/consultant by a major media company earlier this year to help the team develop some cloud based software. I was hired to improve their testing karate. When I started, I was constantly being blocked; all my ideas were rejected and the team kept reverting to they way they had always done it. After 1.5 months the teamleader threw me out. Another team leader was happy take me, there, things were doing great, but I struggled to refactor the mess of TypeScript-AWS-Lambda-Cloud-Crap in a meaningful way.

Not all of it was my fault; the situation there was horrible. But I believe someone more experienced than me, or just someone who doesn't get as emotional as quickly as I do could have handled the situation way better. I feel like a failure.

I am frustrated by the situation, because while it was going on, I felt that I was doing everything right. Not sure what my lesson is.

If you're having trouble getting out of bed, you can try using the 5 second rule to break your brain's patterns and activate the prefrontal cortex. Basically you count down from 5 out loud (saying the numbers aloud is important) and at 1 you just jump out of that damn bed like NASA launching a rocket.

Mel Robbins is the one to credit for this, there's more information here: https://melrobbins.com/blog/the-5-second-rule/

> I was hired as a contractor/consultant by a major media company earlier this year to help the team develop some cloud based software. I was hired to improve their testing karate. When I started, I was constantly being blocked;

I'm going on a bit of a tangent here but this statement highlights some big problems in our industry. To me, being hired as a contractor/consultant means being hired to a job which satisfies some very specific requirements, not to be a butt in a seat on retainer to perform any immediate task which happens to come up.

As a contractor/consultant it seems the best approach would be to demand specific, well defined interfaces and use cases and to provide a solution which adheres to those interfaces and satisfies those use cases. If done right, your solution should be verifiable with acceptance testing. If the solution you provide meets those requirements you've fulfilled your end of the contract. The client is free to do whatever they'd like with that solution based on other criteria not in the contract. Based off your work, they're free to hire you for more work or not.

All this to say, don't get down on yourself. It sounds like there's an expectation mismatch between you and your client. It sounds like what you were expecting is closer to what I've described and what the client was expecting was another body to be on retainer for an hourly rate.

You are probably thinking of "consultants" and not consultants. Consultants comes in, fixes a problem, maybe educate employees about the problem and then leave.

Take management consultants, their main job is mostly to go in and fix other managers messes and possible educate them so it wont happen again or get them replaced.

Software consultants can often have very similar roles, a company have a problem with producing software, they take in a consultant to fix the issue because they themselves don't know how, the consultant comes in and fixes the issue and in the best case educates your workers so they can handle these issues themselves in the future. This is what a company typically wants when they hire a consultant to fix a problem, not a person who only solves already well defined problems.

Example: You have a new cloud based solution but prod is often broken, you hire a consultant to flesh out your deployment strategy to make it more robust, he comes in, creates a basic deployment strategy and shows your team how it works and how to add more tests to it, then he leaves. Production failures go down and your team is now stronger as a result. This is an ideal software consultant.

Of course you also have "consultants" who are just normal employees with less legal rights, those are more like what you are talking about.

I'm gonna guess that you have less than 10 years experience? I sounds like you do. My suggestion anyway is to read or re-read the book peopleware by DeMarco. It will help you build distance between you (the internal emotional you) and problems.

It's most important lesson is that there are no evil people which sounds trite but when you read the rest of the book you get the point.

I've read it quite a few times over my career.

Good luck.

Agree, Reading may help you improve your thinking process and help you understand that it's fine if you don't fulfil your or other expectations from you.

> After 1.5 months the teamleader threw me out.

Cant help poor management a month and a half is not enough to get any idea of a persons abilities or help them fit in.

> but I struggled to refactor the mess of TypeScript-AWS-Lambda-Cloud-Crap in a meaningful way.

Any one would be on tilt after the team leader situation, don't worry about it, if it doesn't work out here, there are other places to work, it's just a job.

Please read the book "The School for Gods" by Author "Stefano D'anna"

I once put adding the recipients for an email to the wrong loop which meant if you were the last user in the database you would receive the email 10.000 times if there were 10.000 users. If you were the user before 9999 times etc.. only the first user that signed up received it once (my test account). So I only found out when the client called me that all their mandrill credits had ran out in a few seconds.

In startup failures: didn’t listen to my gut feeling and let my cofounder pile on more features and quibble about the design for a year before validating a single feature with a potential customer. We didn’t make it with that one...

haha the first one is funny. About the second one, yes it's important to talk to users as soon as possible.

I spent 3 years building a complex statistical model in Stan, only to double its performance with a trivial linear regression.

The growth is realizing that sometimes variance in the data means that really cool model/code you want to write isn't useful, and there's always a trade-off between elegance and utility (if the two aren't in fact opposites)

Ha, this is a great reflection. In a different domain I had a similar experience - working for about 2 years on an unmanned vehicle design I thought was revolutionary, only for a colleage to review the design and point out that reverting to a traditional propulsion engine increases performance by a factor of 2. I felt like a balloon deflating; alas life goes on.

I suppose the lesson learned is avoid working in a vacuum of a project for long stretches and instead ask for a variety of consult from colleagues early and regularly.

That's a good remark as well: we didn't have effective iterations with feedback, just long arcs of speculative changes.

What do you think was the cause of the underperformance of your Stan model?

Wow that's harsh! How did you feel when you realized it?

Relieved actually, because it allowed to meet an overdue performance deadline.

A few days ago I updated to a new version of Go and noticed a perf regression on one of the programs for a cloudspanner backup. A really bad regression, so I thought the update must have changed something to cause this, and started to debug it.

After a few hours, and help of a colleague, we figured out the issue. I wasn't using the companies wired connection but instead was using the much slower wifi..

Oh man, this reminds me. Trying to debug/work in changes for a web app and refreshing the production server instead of looking at localhost. Wondering why my changes are not working. It's taken over a half hour sometimes before realizing I'm looking at the wrong domain.

Last week.

Updating DNSSEC infrastructure for a bunch of zones we manage. As part of that update I added extra DS* records at the parent zones. We were using SHA-256 and since our new signer generated SHA-384 signatures as well I included them. All nice and standard. Our tests were all good. dnsviz.net said everything was good, but... It turns out the version of Unbound that was included in older versions of Ubuntu and Redhat can't handle SHA-384 DS records and instead of ignoring them like they are supposed to simply fail validation.

Naturally those obsolete nameservers are in use by fun people like Comcast who proceeded to drop lookups for the entire zone. This particular zone was the major commercial zone for a small country ie. co.tld. Around a million subdomains.

Fortunately it this was a subdomain inside a country so we could get the SHA-384 signatures dropped at the parent quickly, but yeah tracking down the problem was ... Lets just say it was a bad day.

I wonder if I can put "I broke the internet" on my CV?

--- * English for everyone who doesn't speak DNSSEC: DNSSEC is kind of like SSL but for DNS. A DS (Delegation Signer) record is a hash that goes in the parent zone so that resolvers can verify you are using the correct DNSKEYs. Its kind of like X509 certificates in reverse.

DNSSEC is VERY complicated and brittle with many ways to hurt yourself.

Can I ask why your organization bothers with DNSSEC, when virtually nobody in the industry does? Can I take a wild guess that you're located somewhere in Europe? DNSSEC is a dead letter in the US.

We're a backend registry operator. ICANN requires it for the new generic TLDs and all the ccTLDs we support expect the same "best practice".

ICANN that wonderful organization that requires us to have TLSA records for our RDAP servers even though browser support out the box is zero.

You have my deep sympathies.

I was laid off from a middle manager position , I was with a H1-B like Visa (not in the US) the only chance to stay in my host country was to open a business and get an investor visa. I did that with a business partner, the business went down, my partner fled with the remaining money and now the government is giving me 2 months to leave since I am not longer and investor. Good times. I have always coded so I am moving into that direction. So although this is not a thread for that, if you are looking for a Rails or Phoenix guy please reach to me. I work with Python too.

Which host country? People on HN might be inclined to help.

It does not matter now, because I need to leave in 2 months tops otherwise I will be deported. I am planning to move to the Americas south cone (Argentina or Brazil) so it is preferable an opportunity there or remote than in my current host country.

Don't sweat it. My brother in law was in a similar position (education instead of work though), and is now doing very well for himself.

I too am in a similar situation. Got made redundant after working for a company for 2 and a half years. Decided to start my own business and go forward as a contractor.

It's no more or less secure than being full-time nowadays since I've been made redundant 3 times now and all because of money issues.

I failed to start a business that would provide reliable income post-military enlistment. I tried for maybe six good years a few ideas: investing in real estate, running facebook ads for business, and building routers were some of my best projects with foreseeable upside and a runway towards sustainability. I failed to focus on just one or two core products and this - combined with my active duty work schedule- really made it difficult to see each project through the tough parts.

Its not a total failure; I have a steady career with great benefits that I can retire from in ten more years (total of 20) with a pension. I've learned to focus on my core competencies which has of course catapulted my progress in the selected field. I miss my side projects but I know now that I really can't do everything at once.

I am not sure how hard is for you to not start side project again but you can start with small steps.

I've been really struggling with my weight for the past few years. It has gotten to a point where it's affecting my social life and my mental health. I've always been fairly introverted and shy, but nowadays I find myself sitting at home wishing I was out with friends, or wishing someone would text me.

I'm a fairly active gym-goer, but I have incredibly bad eating habits, so instead of losing, or just maintaining weight, I've been slowly gaining it. This combined with my general shyness and low confidence, has caused me to just cancel social events, and stay home. And of course eat fast food to compensate. I'm struggling with sleep, and I'm at a point where I don't care much for work anymore (I've been arriving late, and leaving early for the past few months). I realize I'm borderline depressed, and my best guess is that my weight is the major cause of this.

Try to stay positive, looks like you have a good idea what the issues are which means you can plan to make it better. Ideally you should do your best to find someone who can help by simply talking these issues though, ideally face to face. It looks to me that it's food that's the problem rather than your weight, so why not look at that first. With a longer term view; try to reverse that trend of weight slowly going on, to weight slowly going off. Things that worked for me are intermittent fasting (mostly because it's easier to follow than diets), and some rules around processed food. Try to go with foods with under 5 ingredients, prioritising foods that are low in sugars or flours (wheat, cornflour, etc). If you slip, don't sweat it, just get back to it as soon as you can.

Thanks, my weight is the aftermath of the unhealthy food, and I do consider it my biggest problem. I constantly feel embarrassed when doing things, I feel shy when meeting new people, constantly wondering whether they're judging me on my weight or not. I've been trying for years to eat healthier, tried intermittent fasting as well. Usually it works for a few days, and then I screw it up over the weekend. I think that constant failure is having a negative impact on everything else too.

I do IF weekdays only, as I know I'll screw it up weekends. It's not as effective as if I did it every day obviously, but it's still better than not doing it at all!

How old are you? Check for Low T

I'm nearing 30 soon.

My life mostly.

I'm 34, have a GED, have a bankruptcy, do not have a degree, do not have some sort of skill where I might be able to get around not having a degree like some sort of CS skills, I basically make a little less each year due to inflation and increase in insurance costs not being higher than the tiny merit based increase my employer gives, I've never had a relationship as an adult, I'm repeatedly denied jobs because of lack of degree and/or my bankruptcy and/or the fact my job doesn't really transfer to anything else and I've been doing it for 13 years, I can't afford to even contribute enough to my 401k to get the full employer match.

Even someone, with considerable means that told me thier success is purely due to luck (and obviously through chances they've been given by mentors), told me that they are sorry/find it unfortunate that a degree is treated as a de facto dues card... yet the past 2 companies they've ran, require degrees for their entry level work and when I flat out asked for any job that could give me new experience, asked to take a chance on me, I got an "I'm real busy right now, but I'd love to work together some day".

I could try and get a degree, but I don't test well and while I'm quite intelligent school was always difficult for me. So taking out tens of thousands of dollars of loans and spending my free time doing something I'll almost certainly hate and/or be frustrated by, just to bury myself in debt for the second time in my life and graduate around 40 to compete against 20-22 year old people for entry level jobs in a new field with my fancy piece of financed paper... doesn't sound very smart, does it?

In literally hundreds of appplications in the past 3 years I've had 3 interviews, 2 of them declined and the 3rd I declined when they told me the starting pay was a 5$ and change less than I make an hour now and less than 4$ above minimum wage. Doing roughly what I already do, just for freight on ships instead of planes.


Basically my life is a complete failure. If I dropped dead today my mother, that lives with me, would notice and honestly that's probably it. I'm a wholly replaceable cog in a machine.

(obligatory disclaimer: not suicidal, just honest and mostly defeated).

Hey, Ryan, thanks for sharing. It's hard. I have some thoughts--you didn't ask for feedback, so feel free to ignore. Also feel free to contact me via my profile address. No, I won't be selling your anything or trying to make money off you. But man, do I understand hard times.

I anticipated being in your position when I was younger and my technique has worked repeatedly. I'm about twice your age and was never denied a job due to lack of a degree. That includes a stint as a full time employee at the original Really Big Tech Company.

My path has always been the same: get really good (top 80%, not top 1%) at something most people aren't good at. That way I can get a job regardless of my requirements. Back in my day that was assembly, systems programming in C, and the Windows API. Obviously not where you want to be today.

As I see it, you have some great resources. You're willing to be a little humble, you have a place to stay, you've got brains.

Have you considered contacting a few recruiters to see what they're looking for, then taking the time to acquire and/or sharpen your skills? These days I'm guessing it's something like C#, Python, maybe Go, but I'm spitballing. Point is, you still have plenty of time to get super strong at something. It may take a year, but it'd be better to earn $75K in 2 years at a job in Minnesota than languish at a dead end gig now.

Another reason to get excellent at something is it imparts a confidence that makes you more attractive. I'm fat and ugly but I pay attention to people. Being a good programmer and a rewarding listener meant I never, ever had trouble meeting awesome women

My very best to you. That can't have been fun to share.

>Have you considered contacting a few recruiters to see what they're looking for, then taking the time to acquire and/or sharpen your skills? These days I'm guessing it's something like C#, Python, maybe Go, but I'm spitballing. Point is, you still have plenty of time to get super strong at something. It may take a year, but it'd be better to earn $75K in 2 years at a job in Minnesota than languish at a dead end gig now.

I've no interest whatsoever in programming. I tinkered enough back in the day on MUDs and in a programming vocational class in high school that I know it is absolutely not for me. Even hammering out some really simple QBASIC games from scratch was incredibly frustrating for me.

As far as recruiters in general, I tried to use one a few years ago. They got my an interview, at a company with 4 employees in the US where I was told during the interview "IF we hire you, we do not provide insurance, my wife works at Eli Lilly so I am covered under her insurance" and it was a significant pay cut to do the same thing I do now and when I told them in the interview I would not be open to an offer I never heard from the recruiter again.

From my impression recruiters mostly want programmers or people with MBAs for placing in lower-level corporate positions, at least these are the sorts I've found in Google queries but perhaps I just don't know what I should be searching for.

It's not a programming thing in particular. Based on the odds I mentioned programming but my point is, you've got what you need to move ahead. My strategy is to figure out a saleable skill you can tolerate, then work your tail off until you're better than most people at it.

There are a zillion recruiters out there, but I'd respectfully suggest that your best bet would be to listen to what they need, not worry how one got you a particularly lousy offer. Most people are bad at what they do.

I'll not bother you again but I wanted to know you're heard, and not completely alone.

Do you have time to do things outside of work? For example running with a club of people or something. I just wonder if you are able to do things on the side that are real and difficult goals but that you can achieve on your own (though possibly after a lot of work). This obviously wouldn’t make your career life any better but you might have other things going on that would lead you not to describe life as a failure.

> This obviously wouldn’t make your career life any better but you might have other things going on that would lead you not to describe life as a failure.

I have my religious pursuits and what not but by failure I mostly mean I have no meaningful connections. All of my friends are married and/or married with children, I don't have much family left alive, I've got my mother living with me until she dies which could be tomorrow or might be another 20 years which puts a bit of a damper on pursuing romantic interests and at my age most women are divorced with multiple children and don't have much free time and aren't really open to the idea of pursuing something where someone's retired mother would be moving in with them.

Yes I've got a comfortable place to sleep and food to eat and what not but my job is something OCR & 'dumb' AI will eventually largely automate, I have no intimate (in a non sexual sense) connections like I did in school because everyone is busy with their families now, I've just got a house plant which has entirely overtaken the kitchen bar and is now spilling over onto the floor and my stuffed animal Bun from my first Easter that I tell good night every night as he sits on a book shelf in his dotage.

My legacy, as it stands, is a blog that will disappear 1-12 months after I die and a frail old man of a purple anthropomorphic rabbit.

I would still recommend something similar to my original post. Try to find pursuits that are your own but do them within the context of a group where you can build friendships. I think that sports clubs are great for and especially running since there's really no bar to entry (hell many of the clubs are jokingly called drinking groups with running problems), but it could really be something else. No matter what if you want that social side of things you're going to have to go out there and build it up yourself. It's not actually some crazy impossible task; there are in fact huge numbers of people exactly like you whose friends have left/gotten busy. But you do need to go out there and take the first steps.

Getting a job at a huge megacorp has shown to be a failure for me.


At my previous job - a small firm - I spent 8 hours actually working, each day. At my new job I am doing bureaucracy all days long, and very little actual work. Sometimes I come home without actually having had any real work done for the entire day.

I flipped out after maybe 3-4 weeks, because Not Doing Actual Work turns out to be extremely stressful for me. I felt guilty for not achieving anything.

But no one cares. This is "normal" at my new job. I brought it up with my boss and told him how I felt. I also told him that, I can not stay at this job for too long, since it will in the long run be really bad for my career. If I don't write code, I will eventually become bad at it. Weirdly, he said that he understood and thought that more of my coworkers need to realize this, before it's too late for them.

So now I am planning my escape. I am a bit worried that only working for this company like 8-10 months will look bad at my CV... I have not decided how long I should stay.

> So now I am planning my escape. I am a bit worried that only working for this company like 8-10 months will look bad at my CV.

Don't worry about it. If your entire CV were full of jobs where you've spent < 12 months (contracting aside), it would a red flag. The odd one here or there doesn't matter: everyone has a job that doesn't work out/isn't for them from time to time.

(Also, I too have worked for a megacorp - as a contractor - and it, quite literally, nearly drove me off the rails. I lasted 8 months. Who knew that getting next to nothing done, and being paid for it, could be so stressful? But it really is. You're not wrong about it being bad for your career either. I don't have loads of data, but I have found that developers who've spent too long in that kind of environment don't do so well in our selection process so, if anything, leaving after a short time will only be a positive for your career.)

During my time at a FAANG this was my exact experience, I became a worse engineer because of it.

I spent three hours digging through my build system to figure out why the compiler couldn't find a header file named 'blahblah .h'

I haven't been able to motivate myself to finish several projects that are 90-95% done.

Same. But I found a loophole in my mind. I make a second phase. By expanding the project scope and targets even more, you are required to finish the first phase bugs and fixes.

The only problem is you now have the second phase only 90% completed. Here comes phase 3 ...

I really struggle with this too. Victory, or at least the finish line, is in sight, and most of the hard work is done, but what's left is fiddly and annoying - probably time-consuming and boring too - and I just run out of mojo. My current battle is painting my house: the woodwork, in particular, just gets me down. I should be doing that rather than writing this comment.

The last 5-10% takes up 90% of your time :(

I’ve been building a forum. The software part is done, I worked for like 9 months on and off to get it deployed, and now I just don’t have the motivation to do the work involved in building the community.

This reminds me of why you don't make your own game engine when you are building a game. You'll spend months or years working on exactly what isn't a game.

You built a forum, that's great. If you set out to build a forum, you succeeded. If you set out to build a community, you just wasted a bunch of time on doing something only loosely related at best.

So the question is, what did you actually set out to do? If you are considering this a failure, then you can turn it into a success by releasing the forum software for others to use.

> This reminds me of why you don't make your own game engine when you are building a game. You'll spend months or years working on exactly what isn't a game.

I've done exactly this. It was a really good game engine - sprites, animation, LUA scripting, and everything. But once I had it running the original inspiration for the game was gone.

I learned a lot in the process so I don't count it as wasted time.

More recently,I built a my own static site generator like everyone else and their dogs. I guess I really never finished it but it is feature complete enough to do exactly what I need even if nobody else is ever going to use it. Like the gp's forum software, that is a kind of success.

I set out to build a product I would want to use from scratch. I succeeded in that I deployed a web app that does everything it's supposed to do (More or less a Metafilter clone). This is the first thing I've ever put on the internet, and I definitely learned a huge amount (my day job is in ML and most of my side projects are data/stats/ML related). I guess the answer is that I set out to do both. I did one, and have been dragging my feet on the other.

Sounds so glass-half-empty. In my book you succeeded at one of your goals. :)

Could you generalize the forum software and get other people to make community forums based on your software (ie. sell it), instead of you doing it yourself?

I once was changing the pricing for the primary subscription product for all 8000+ users registered in our CMS, and accidentally resumed the subscription and charged 300+ customers $75 who had cancelled the plan months or even years ago.

The payment platform's API's `updatePlan` function had an optional flag for `reactivateSubscriptionAndBillImmediately` with default value of `true`, as it turns out.

I had to stay up till 6AM writing a script to detect all of them, refund their money, send an apology email with some free credit, and cancel their subscriptions, and also write a note to my cofounders outlining the situation so they could crisis manage while I was out cold.

After which I wrote an angry email to the billing platform (probably harsher than they deserved given I didn't test their API appropriately on our dev instance). To their credit, they promptly changed the default. They were a young company and apparently not that many clients had used that API endpoint before.

It resulted in some very angry customers threatening to cite us to various business practice enforcement bodies around the world, but all in all some floor-sweeping profuse apologies and prompt action laid concerns to rest and no harm was done.

Past winter, I had to deploy a new version of a package that was used by a lot of our applications (at least 5 apps, some for our customers, and some internal ones).

Because it was a "simple" package, we did not have any deployment system ready, and deploying was just SSH/SCP commands that created a directory with the package version and upload my dist. I forgot to bump the package version, and ended up wiping a working and in-use package. The problem is that this package can only work up to a specific angular version (which wasn't set in the package.json, so my build installed the wrong one), therefore the only thing that our applications were producing was a blank page.

And because I had wiped the original package, I had no way to know which angular version we needed, and we had to find a cached version to get it, by reading the angular license comment in the minified code. The shittiest 5 mins of my life, even though I'm sure no one noticed it.

What I learned from this : don't speak with someone else while deploying, huge focus loss.

PS : The company is an ISP.

More like a decade of failures really, resulting mostly from hard addiction to drugs and drinking that led to a failed suicide attempt in 2017. Still recovering from it. Initially there was hatred and resentment towards people who "saved" me, but I can see why people would do it for their fellow human, especially as time goes by. I'm 30 now and starting over...

You are the most free when you have nothing to lose. A failed suicide attempt can be thought of as that Every Single Moment from that point in life is a Bonus.

I know because I was there :) I should have died a few years ago, but didnt. Not giving a fsck and also being adventurous is a nice combo.

Sorry to hear this, and hope that you're starting to do better. Glad to hear that it sounds like there are folks in your life to support you.

I wrote a video synthesizer based on the idea behind cha/ves, but used an Arduino to generate the oscillator waves that control the VGA pins. I used an Arduino Uno that was laying around. It ended up spending most of the time just reading the MIDI data. It could do about 10 "pixels" per screen refresh. It was neat to see how slow the code I wrote was though, if I accidentally added a modulo or divide operation I would get half as many pixels onto the screen. Too bad the Arduino standard library uses % for serial buffer checking, random, and other features.. it made some cool glitches but was just too slow. Moving on to a raspberry pi and working through the book of shaders now.

I'm a pre-final year undergrad failing to get a research internship in Computer Vision/Deep Learning/Information Retrieval abroad(I'm from India) because of poor grades(GPA 6/10). I have won Kaggle Medal, various deep learning/machine learning Hackathons, got a job(Data Scientist) offer by the end of sophomore year and a few interview calls in the last 5 months all from great start-ups. They all didn't knew I was a still student or God knows why they approached. Still nothing is helping.

I don't know how to approach the next two years. I don't wanna work in industry at least for now and enroll in a MS program.

this is more of a humble brag than a failure

My current venture is has been a week away from insolvency for the past 6 months.

I had the opportunity to receive relevant angel investment to my newly born startup if I could find a cofounder (the investor asked me to not be a solo founder).

The person that I chose was a close friend that I’ve worked with before, but deep down I knew he wasn’t really entrepreneurial material.

In the end, he accepted, just to turn around and say “no” when we got the term sheet to sign (“it’s just too much work for me”). The investor aborted the offer.

I’ve made a bad choice because he was my friend and I valued that above the business parameters. It was a terrible mistake.

I failed starting running. I failed getting into my preferable school and disappointed my family I failed getting a gf this year also (3 months left we all going to make it)

The last one is more likely to happen and things work out better when it isn't an explicit goal.

I failed to start an IG video channel talking about starting your own contracting business. Released two or three videos and then just stopped, and probably won't go back.

However, I have now started a Youtube channel for vlogging which is one of my old loves. I had a vlogging channel in 2006 and stopped because of bullies and life getting in the way. Feel like I'm getting my creative side back which has been a revelation for me.

Most recent: trying to convince my superior to throw away our old Java monoliths (still running on Java5/6) and start from scratch with other technology than Java, in a cloud-native manner. Still, my superior is a super Java-fan and has summoned fears about changing everything, because people who worked on those monoliths are long gone from company.

yes, I know, but from scratch in the sense of porting the portions of code in another environment and at same time using unit tests and code coverage tool to isolate the parts and adapt to a better architecture.

Bit of advice I've found that the easiest way to introduce a new technology is to use it on something that is isolated and not totally critical first.

emotional thinking > practical thinking

As a technology director succumbed to the (product) managements wish for new functionalities over the scalability.

Now we have a lot of useful and legitimately needed functionality and unscalable system.

Make sure that you always measure and present the numbers of your systems abilities along with new product features to the management.

It is a very tricky balance. Hard to master. Communicate!

I've been failing to grow. I feel stagnant at my current job and yearn for greener pastures. Bad habits prevent me from being productive in my spare time. Very little action is being taken to improve my situation and I feel like a slave to the habits I've cultivated.

Plenty of failures. Too many to count.

I tried to create a blogging platform called Readology but I knew that with other commitments (day job, family) I needed a business partner to really get it off the ground.

I couldn't devote all the required time to it so I've stopped it now.

Partner in tow, I am working on something else though.

I had a lot of failures since my company switched to Azure AKS... losing clusters, losing API server=crashing operators and so much more... Lesson in : don't go with AKS !

I was writing a series about ecoterrorist sorcerers but then I started a tough contract at work that took all my energy away

The MVP was promising tho

I've been trying to customize emacs into a useful editor for weeks now.

This sounds like the start of a Zen Koan.

A master approaches an apprentice, the master has a software engineering project for them both to work on, and tells the apprentice to make it clear when they were ready to start.

Weeks pass and the apprentice never says anything, but just hacks away at their own machine.

The master asks them why they aren't ready, and the apprentice replies, "We'll be ready once we've customized vim/emacs into a useful editor. But don't blame me for the delay, you have just installed stock vim/emacs, you haven't even started your customization", the master replied "I've already finished".

Then the apprentice was enlightened.

The key to the success lock is the unsuccessful experience.

I couldn't think of something to write here. That was probably the most recent one. I have lots of others, though.

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