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Watch other people code (castingcode.tv)
318 points by jgeralnik 1956 days ago | hide | past | web | 84 comments | favorite

Am I the only who loathe the current trend of posting things before they are finished?

I am all for the lean approach, but this isn't a minimum viable product (that would be a player and a tagging system to find the language I was interested in) it is a website.

I don't typically mind too much, but this post is misleading. The headline specifically made this sound like it was a working project, not just a photoshopped screenshot.

Bait-and-switch is just as bad a form of linkbait as any other.

It's frustrating that we can't use the product yet, but I'm sure that people's reaction here will go a long way in helping them gauge interest.

Though this is reasonable, I wonder if it's measuring the right thing. Since money isn't involved (as far as I know), people could be entering their email just out of curiosity. It's easy to provide an email for a notification of completion, after which, make a decision to continue with participation or move on entirely.

You get the emails so you can do "Customer Development". You email them back and schedule an interview to learn more about your customers.

It isn't something where you say yes/no based on the number of signups.

So that's what it's been called. Lately I've been having people trying to schedule interviews with me about their service.

It's so incredibly annoying, because it wastes my time, and I get to learn that they are considering charging way way way more than I'd ever want to spent, so I stop using them regardless.

It's like a lose/lose scenario. I get the impression their pitching out different money numbers to try and see response, but when you say something clearly off the wall, I just stop using your service.

I don't want there to be some possibility a month or two down the road that you're going to try and up the price to one of those insane ones you asked me about.

So far for me, "Customer Development" is the single largest turnoff for any application.

Testing pricing isn't usually a big part of interviews unless you are addressing an enterprise market. Also, Customer Development is larger in scope than pricing or interviews:


Thanks for the link to the article. I think that certain people have the time, or are willing to do this for a startup. There's nothing wrong with that.

But I think it's important to not think of it like a sales pitch.

I am getting "Customer Development" calls as if they are a sales pitch. As if it's okay to sort of bully me into trying to respond to the questions, like a sales person refuses to accept no.

This is incredible annoying, and it's good to see where the (good) intentions of this thing come from.


"make sure that you're learning, not selling!"

i think the purpose of these types of "launch pages" is to gauge interest... to see if there's really enough interest to spend the time and effort creating the working system. it's also a great way to create a list of potential beta users. when something is ready, the person running the site can hand out beta codes to people that have signed up, and get real feedback at that point

If it was common on other sites I would be a little annoyed but I think HN is the perfect place for a technique like this since most readers are happy to discuss projects in the idea phase. I for one like having the opportunity to throw in my thoughts at an early stage.

I am relatively new to HN so I've just come to accept it, I would prefer that products were finished, but it's not too big of a deal. Plus, it might give the creators feedback suggesting they shouldn't pursue a project or maybe even that they should invest more time and resources in a project. Either way, we would all benefit from creators being more strategic in their projects.

If the market is not there, then I would hope smart people would spend their time doing something else.

Unfortunately MVP is one of those terms like "pivot" that got out of control. An MVP is "the minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort."


This is a great example of an MVP. If nobody signs up, he knows there is no demand for this product.

This is a great example of a launch page, not an MVP. It's not 'a version of a new product', it's marketing information about a proposed product.

One reason it's a good example of a launch page is that it tells you before you enter your address that the product isn't available yet. Many launch pages these days talk about the non-existent product, ask for your address, and only then tell you the product isn't available. They try to start a business by lying to their prospective customers. I'm glad to see that this one shows integrity by telling the truth about availability.

You don't seem to understand that the 'product' part of MVP requires an actual working product... not a landing page.

Wow. Posting the textbook definition of MVP gets downvoted. The Redditization of Hacker News.

This is not "a version of a new product," it is a screenshot of a version of a new product and a call to action. There is no product to evaluate minimally. Since you like definitions:

viable: Capable of working successfully; feasible: "the proposed investment was economically viable".

A minimum viable product is a product that's capable of working successfully; in this case it's one that potential customers can interact with successfully. This is not a product. This is a "coming soon" page.

I bet I have a better idea for you.

Set up the same thing for watching people design. I don't design much, but I love and learn incredible amounts from watching people design. Could be any format -- web, print, architectural, etc.

Design is inherently more visual, so watching others communicates more and is probably more fun and engaging.

Also I suspect more people design than code so you probably get a bigger audience getting more from it.

This is a brilliant suggestion. I've seen countless posts here on "how should I learn design?". When I think about learning to design, I want to learn the process of a good designer, not just theory or tricks. For example, I learnt a lot more design from this post and video than other stuff:



The hipmunk character creation video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYEQpwduyPU ) was helpful and entertaining to watch (I picked up a few tips). Being entertaining and helpful is what any video aiming to teach has to work toward. And the video needs to be long enough to get the concepts across, and no more.

This would need some good editing. When I'm working on a website design, it can take some time for the finished version to come together. There's quite a lot of experimenting, tweaking, undoing etc... going on.

Nice idea though.

That is all part of the design process, I'm not sure why you would edit it out.

Gotta edit out when you check HN =P

I had an idea a few years ago to create a tv show -- basically The Iron Chef but for designers. Two design teams would have a limited time to design a logo or web page or restaurant menu or commercial. They'd have to meet separately with the client so you'd see their human interaction.

Plus we would create an online community around it for people to trade ideas.

I told a director friend who had sold several shows and he loved the idea. We wrote up a treatment and started pitching it.

Then the recession hit and no one was interested in new show ideas.

We still have the treatment. Maybe one day...

Glennz Tees is always awesome http://vimeo.com/channels/glennz

Good idea. As part of the recording stream, it would be nice if the mouse clicks and keypresses were somehow documented (and maybe presented in sync with the video as an overlay or beneath the video?) which would allow the viewer to figure out exactly what the person did and how they did it.

Once the platform is up for watching people code, it could be easily generalized to other fields as long as the work gets done on a computer.

Well, there's already http://showMeDo.com which is really great. Covers lots of programming and related functions like using IDEs like Eclipse and editors like Vim. There's also tutorial episodes on design like suggested by a commenter before. No Photoshop or the rest of the Adobe CS suite however, all F/LOSS like GIMP and Inkscape. I'm actually practicing by learning from Eric Florenzo's playlist on Django here[1]. The only problem with ShowMeDo is that lots of the material is dated (and that's not necessarily a problem always!) and there isn't much new content. The site was busy 07-09 but unfortunately seems to have been forgotten.

I hope castingcode.tv doesn't fall to this problem, as this is a really great and useful way to learn lots of computer skills.

There's the commercial solution by PeepCode[2] with excellent quality pieces by the crew there. The material there is much more up to date and consistent in quality standards. It's not as huge an offering, but it's certainly a lot. I'd also definitely recommend them to anyone who enjoys this style of learning.

The last and probably most accessible solution out there right now are the Youtube playlists and video series in this format. The quality there is a little hit and run, with some series excellent and others so-so. The target audience is almost always for the beginner, but that shouldn't dissuade those more advanced from perusing a vim tut to brush up on new tricks.

[1] http://showmedo.com/videotutorials/video?name=3360000&fr...

[2] http://peepcode.com/

I hate video tutorials. They're far too slow compared to just reading something.

Watching someone code is different, though. It's not prepared in advance, it doesn't have them trying to be a braggart and show you some clever thing they know, and you actually get to see their process as they go from idea to software.

Another good option is destroy-all-software [1]. Very cheap too.

[1] https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/screencasts

This looks awesome.

For some reason I've never seen ShowMeDo but what a great site. Thanks for sharing this. As the "business" guy I keep learning about new technologies and taught myself to program using various books and sites.

Haha, funny coincidence; because of this and also because I just wanted to try out, I recorded my working sessions of the last days and uploaded them to Youtube.




I guess most of it is pretty boring but I cannot really tell Maybe also because the first two are without sound; the last one is with system audio mostly playing music (and thus blocked in Germany :)); another one will be uploaded soon will be with audio from my mic but I am not really saying that much.

I, for myself, really like watching other people coding.

Btw., I was working on https://github.com/albertz/ChromeWebApps. :)

I think it is a good idea, but..

(1) do you really want to do it live? Why not do it the youtube way? Store the videos, rate them, comment with videos, etc.

(2) you could instead of making true videos split it into 2 parts. Making a video, and attach a text area to it so users can copy/paste your code. One could see the changes live.

(3) I guess this works hard if you want to present an SDK. Maybe you could turn the editable fields into text areas? At least the main one. Kind of a layer over the video.

I signed up for the email, but I hope most people will just code and give a few comments, rather than trying to explain every single thing they are doing. It just makes it boring. Code as fast as you can, and keep the comments to a minimum.

Watching Notch was amazing. He did it perfectly. There were times during the first few hours that I fast forwarded, but only when he was experimenting. And it was never for long.

It would be awesome if you could also somehow download a VM that you could run that would match the environment and then replay the coding session, pausing it to poke around when needed.

Am I the only one who thinks this might be incredibly boring? Seriously, over the course of say, a 10 hour coding day, how many inspired, exciting, or even interesting moments are there? That is alot of 'dead air'... This feels like an Onion satire on the popularization of 'geek'

You've got to think outside of the box a bit. They could use this for remote interviews that entail live problem solving. It could really help cut down the number of candidates that require in-person interviews if they live in another state.

That just sounds like a different product. I wouldn't want anyone to be able to pop in and watch my interview.

Also, are you sure that it does already exist?

I think we'll end up with some planned and edited screencasts, and some "live coding" streams that are great (with 95% of the live streams being dull.) So there would probably need to be some kind of reputation system or way to look for coders who happen to be interesting in this format.

There are some really good screencasts out there -- I watched some of Kent Beck's Test Driven Development videos and learned way more than I did from the book. (http://pragprog.com/screencasts/v-kbtdd/test-driven-developm...)

The point isn't to sit and watch a 10-hour coding session. Even if such lengthy things are available, I imagine the most benefit would come from just watching a random 5 minutes of a bunch of different people's styles and learning from their basic approaches.

Great idea! When I watched that livestreaming from Notch, I thought about this and I almost bought the domain name http://watchmecode.net. I am curious to see how well this is going to be executed!

I watched a little bit of Notch's thing, it was fun. And for a more in depth topic, it could certainly be a great way to learn.

On the other hand I've come across 1-2 minute YouTube videos several times when googling how to use some specific API call, and I find it aggravating when all I really need is one little code snippet. I know how to type or copy 'n paste. I don't need to watch someone else do it. All I want most of the time is a well commented, nicely highlighted, code view on someone's blog (StackOverflow and github are just fine too!)

Maybe I'm just old or old fashioned.

I can definitely see this as more of a 'watch me code something cool' idea rather than wanting to learn how to solve a specific problem. A lot of the benefit of being able to watch the streams is to see people get their questions answered during the cast, that relate to what the caster was broadcasting at the time.

Now you have to record/stream while you build this. Looking forward to it!

My only gripe is that its not available now hehe.

I read the headline and was like "score, I want me some of that pie" and clicked on the link only to discover they aren't ready to launch yet.

Really excited though, hope it takes off for them. I think it would be a great way of not only learning to program better/differently but also to expose yourself to different programming styles.

This is a great idea.

Here's a 8h-1m time lapse of somebody implementing Snake3D in Clojure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHARNkMi5Lg

Time lapse could be a way of getting an overview of the session, and then 'zooming' into the bit you're interested in, like when you say 'wait! how did you do that!'. Perhaps this could be implemented as a scalable timeline scrollbar.

The timeline could include comments like Soundcloud so people can ask and answer how to do something when and where they see it.

The stream should include keystrokes and mouse gestures as well as video. There should also be links to things like dotfiles on github.

If the recording/uploading process can snapshot the process tree of the window it is recording, this could be used to automatically tag the video (e.g. vim editing Clojure code on Windows, Illustrator on Mac), which would be nice for subscribing to feeds of tags.

An interesting point of reflection this poses to developers is 'am I doing something that other people would care to watch?'.

I like the motivational factors a site like this poses, challenges you to become an expert at something, and when you are coding live, forces you to stay focused on the task at hand. Looking forward to the launch.

Interesting detail: I saw this link in an email I got very recently about VimConf. At the bottom it says "Copyright 30 Cubits LLC"—the contact email at 30 Cubits' page[1] is for Joey, I'd assume it's the same Joey as the guy behind VimConf. Man's on a roll!

[1] http://30cubits.com/

Actually, I assumed that VimConf was a great marketing strategy for castingcode.tv - am I wrong to think that the product came first and then the conference idea?

The beard confirms. Great ideas indeed.

You may want to build it like soundcloud so that viewers can add their own comments at certain points in the video.

I second this idea, however I think it would be better to rotate through the comments as they reach points in the video rather than have a cluster of icons on a timeline that you have to hover to read the comment.

I really do like this idea, not because it does anything new (as other's have mentioned it's easy to do this on plenty of existing venues like youtube), it's more to do with the community you could build around this. If you could find a simple way to match users with coding sessions that are relevant to them, you'll have no problem building a community. You absolutely must allow videos to be stored (not just watched live), indexed, commented on, rated, tagged, etc if you want to make this useful, imho.

If I could go to site, search for "best way to write a y combinator in c++" or something similar and get videos showing people doing just that but sorted by user rating, I would be a happy boy! I love when other users do the hard work of telling me what's good and what isn't. :)

That's right. Use that lambda expression. Right there.

As a researcher who studies how software gets produced this is a potential goldmine. This has the ability to offer significant insight in to how programmers work in their native environment.

I was just wishing for this. Sign me up! I hope this becomes a reality. I'd love to stream while I work. I just need to figure out a way to keep things like our api and secret keys private.

I agree, there has to be a feature so that when a particular sequence of characters gets entered, the screen blurs it out. But even then, it would take many other people using it, and the functionality working, for me to trust it.

Or a private button to push in order to be off air for a while.

The most common problem with code casts is the visual quality of the code window. How do you plan on improving that?

I think mine would need an R18 rating when I go into swearing fits at the .net framework and permission issues :P

Ha! "Why won't this work!!!" Endless alt-tabbing for googling stuff, I know because I do it too!

Notch had thousands of people at one time, watching him code and justin.tv cost him 14k? I hope you can find a way...

I wonder who would pay to watch linus pull in git requests :)

This would be amazing for teaching people how to code.. step by step lessons with a verbal explanation on top of the visual aids and real code on a real ui..

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure how beneficial it would be. There is a segment of the population who does learn better this way, but not everyone. I suspect that this would be more beneficial for extreme beginners than people who have experience.

It could be very useful if he could convince some great hackers to submit screencasts to his website.

For example imagine looking over Alan Kay's shoulder as he creates a program. I think I'd learn lots of new things if I watched something like that.

This is actually something PeepCode is doing with the "Play By Play" series.


Funny I just live blogged submitting our iPhone app last night and it was a lot fun. Thumbs up on this!


Nice idea - I'll be watching to see how this one pans out.

Just signed up for the notification.

I don't think I dare to use it. I usually code and Command-Tab to HN quite often, that would be annoying for people who watch me. On a positive side, that could force me to focus.

This looks pretty cool, but why can't we just get a channel for it on justintv or twitchtv?

Yes, but as I've picked those bash and vim tips, I'd like to see someone hacking on a largish, real world project.

Perhaps the coder would be given a random bug and you would see the process from he reading the bug until the patch lands. That I would pay.

Software as performance art?

just curious, why do they have a tracking gif in their confirmation email?

the creator of this site used http://kickofflabs.com to create the landing page. this service tracks how many people visit the site, sign up, open the email, respond, etc etc etc in order to give accurate and informative reports about the interest that has been generated.

I Love the idea.

I've grown the most as a programmer literally kneeling or standing behind the shoulder of programmers with 5 to 8 years more experience than I had. Those hours I spent in that position was more beneficial than hours sitting in expensive classes, hours spent debugging, hours spent reading, hours spent building new programs... combined.

The speed of great content delivery by watching someone much better than you code can be overwhelming. If the gap in experience is too large, it is like trying to show calculus to a monkey. He's not going to get it, and it will get bored. There needs to be a common ground to transmit common ideas, analogies, and new knowledge. The viewer has to put in a huge effort to keep up.

There needs to be feedback from the viewer to say: "Hey stop, what is this devil magic you are doing right there". And the presenter can stop and explain how this is muscle memory to him.

I agree. It isn't just pure programming that I have learned either. It is learning more about tools, different apps, different workflows, and new debugging tips. Also, I don't think the experience matters. Someone fresh out of school may have a new trick to teach me or a 20 year veteran has an old school trick I never new.

Yes, it is often the non-programming tricks that allow me to be a more productive programmer. Watching other programmers use a few powerful commands in vim, plus a cool flag for grep I didn't know about, plus how to efficiently organize things in directories to quickly find things, etc. All these little tricks I learned from a couple programmers my first year probably doubled my productivity as a programmer.

So basically, watching people solve problems?

I think all you need are good channel descriptions, that way a novice who knows a little Python can choose to watch a stream of someone with 3-4 years Python experience rather than someone with 20 years of C experience doing linux kernel hacking.

Maybe it would be an idea to add a comment system to the viewer component. So at a given time in the cast you could put in a question, asking what the heck was the point of this or that, and someone else could answer you (perhaps the person originally submitting the cast, but presumably other people might answer as well),

It is really disruptive having to explain something from "muscle memory" in logical terms. That said, a good programmer should always be able to explain what they are doing to another capable peer.

Years of experience as a quality gauge is an interesting choice. Just from anecdotal experience or simplification?

er cant you just share your screen in skype?

Do they do a naked version?

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