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I'm torn whenever I hear stuff like this about my high-functioning (non-mentally handicapped) peers struggling out there.

Half of me thinks: How weak.

Don't they get it? It's not about "money" or "jobs". Those are abstractions. You have to create value. What do YOU do that's valuable? Why should someone hire you? Why should someone pay you?

Can't they see? Quit blaming the economy. Quit waiting to be hired. Bring the locus of control inside. Put in on you. Go to the public library and start learning. Make yourself valuable. With enough determination and will, you will find a way. Or you will make one. Less fortunate people than you have done it. Dumber people than you have done it.

That half of me recognizes that the hard work, the learning, the hours I've put in to get traction on a strong path of entrepreneurship wasn't handed to me. It wasn't intuitive. I make sacrifices, I toil, I struggle, but I make it work. Why can't they?

The other half of me wonders: Why do I realize all that? It's a rather meta though. But... I can't tell you honestly why my life fell into place so that I would be so driven. Why my life fell just so, so I would be curious enough to seek out the books, essays, podcasts, and blog posts that have shaped my entrepreneurial character.

Why was I drawn towards the heroes and role models that I was - business and technology leaders, instead of rock-stars or athletes - who inspired me towards a particular path?

Sure, it has taken talent, drive, hard work, and sacrifice to capitalize on the opportunity presented to me. But perhaps it was the greatest luck of all - the lottery of birth - that gave me those gifts in the first place.

I apologize in advance, but I mean every word.

What kind of entitled bullshit is this?

> Quit blaming the economy.

The simple truth is that it's difficult to get money in this economy without either an established job, and established home, or a reserve of cash from which to build something. Just because the tech sector is doing well doesn't mean that all sectors are doing well.

> Quit waiting to be hired.

What do you suggest? He build a company from the public library, while living out of a homeless shelter and eating in soup kitchens?

> Bring the locus of control inside. Put in on you.

I don't even know what this is supposed to mean. It sounds like something you'd hear at a bad self-help seminar.

> Go to the public library and start learning.

The man in this story was trying to get a degree (granted, humanities isn't one of the more employable degrees). He couldn't afford it; a public library is a poor substitute to a school.

> Make yourself valuable.

With what? He is lacking in resources from which to build his future.

> I make sacrifices, I toil, I struggle, but I make it work. Why can't they?

What makes you think they are not? Would you have been able to make it if you had been dropped from college halfway through your bachelors degree with no money? Would you have been able to get VC funding without the contacts you made in college, or even a home address?

Why do you think you're smarter than he is, and not just luckier?


Why do you think you're smarter than he is, and not just luckier?

Did you read his entire comment? Assuming he didn't edit it after your post (and it appears he didn't, since he starts off admitting that half of him feels that way,) he concludes that "maybe I was just luckier."

He admits being torn on the subject, but that doesn't change that many able-bodied, mentally sound people can do more than they're necessarily capable of realizing while in the throes of despair.

"Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps" may not be the sort of advice that someone is able to grasp while depressed, but on the off chance they are able to hear it, it's sound advice. There's little doubt that many people, if not most people in the world could be trying harder than they do. It's also easy to get carried away with being down on your luck.

I don't disagree with many of the points you've made, but they also don't necessarily discount the points of the poster you responded to either. Self-teaching from a library might be a poor substitute for a proper university, but it's still miles and away better than sitting on your ass waiting for your situation to change.

Anyway, I'll apologize as well, because your knee-jerk reaction spurred one of my own, and I don't mean to seem harsh, but I think the criticism to the parent was unnecessary, and I feel like perhaps you missed the part where he bares empathy.

Edit: I completely blew my cool there. I don't think my narrative-voice was yelling, but it was definitely speaking in harsher tones than I like to, and for that, I owe you another apology.

I think I'm generally fed up with how unnecessarily mean HN has become lately, and how knee-jerk everything seems to be. This is me adding on to that, and for that I am genuinely sorry. I would like to ask though (of myself as well), in the future, if you could take 10 seconds and re-read a post before blasting its author, it would make a huge difference over all.


Saying that "maybe I was just luckier" at the end is a pretty lame cop-out after spending the remaining 90% of the comment belittling the person for not being so lucky.

Personally, I see someone who is constantly applying to jobs and working as much as they can in the jobs they are able to get as having hoisted their bootstraps as high as they can reach.

Frankly, if you're looking for mean posts, look at those belittling people in dire straits before blasting those that have the temerity to rise to defend them.


I'm not AVTizzle, and can't speak for the tone and timbre of his post, but I feel like you took it completely out of context, as he appears to question his own feelings on the matter.

Regardless, I was acting out of frustration, and you're of course welcome to read it however you like, however wrong I might feel that it is.


AVTizzle's post was, to me, so ignorant it was bordering on bigotry. So it's not just falcolas who was offended by it.

I tried hard not to respond to it as the hateful screed I felt it was. I had to cut lots from my post before I felt comfortable sending it. But, really, come on. Anyone posting paragraphs of "they just don't work hard enough" and "I took control" in response to personal stories of homelessness is going to get posts from people with different life experiences saying just how wrong that post is.

Re-reading AVTizzle's post now I am still angered by it, but I don't think it's hateful. Just ignorant.

{META} I agree that HN can be needlessly harsh, and I welcome people who work to avoid that. Normal advice is to save a post to drafts and go back to it later for sending. That's not easy on HN - there isn't any save to drafts (unless you use a script or weird text editor interface) and there's pretty big time pressure on posting. The guidelines are a good start to describing acceptable behaviour. I'm not sure about a good way to remind people of them. And recently there have been many 'hot button' ('shallowly, but intensely, interesting') topics, so maybe some over-enthusiastic posting has carried over from those.


And in all fairness, I think that the tone of your response was a hundred times less inflammatory than the post I responded to (and sadly, far less inflammatory than the post of mine you are responding to).

In an ideal world, more HNers would temper their reactions to start crying 'bullshit' and put more effort into treating each other like human beings. If more did exactly as you'd done, HN would be a far better place than it currently is.

AVTizzle's post may or may not meet that definition, as he hasn't responded to clarify his position, but he also isn't speaking directly about a particular person in general, rather, he's speaking about his own mindset about a group of people, and he's been blasted for it.

Thanks for the extra data point -- I'm a little amazed that we interpret the reference post so differently, but I thank you for clarifying.

Regarding the harshness, I didn't mean to imply that I felt this was a very recent phenomenon. And in fact, the HN of many years ago had perhaps far more in the way of pissing matches, but they were more academic in tone. I think it's that precedent that encourages the head-butting we see now, but either because people have 'settled in', or the community standards have lowered, there are less people who can say "No, I think that you're wrong -- here's why," without resorting to pejoratives and insults. I realize how potentially futile change is, but the idealist in me hopes it isn't.


Bigoted against what?


Against the homeless. I'm not sure what your question is.


So nobody can criticize people who are homeless without being labeled a bigot? That doesn't seem productive.


"a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigot)

You can criticize the poor and homeless, but too many completely reject the idea that their struggles can be something other than self-imposed. That rejection turns criticism into bigotry.


We're all walking the tightrope. Its an important part of our mental gymnastics that we regard those who fall as 'deserving it' or at least that its their own fault, that we'll avoid their error. Otherwise we'd all clutch and panic.


No, I think it's far more honest to just clutch and panic.


I didn't get that sense from the OP at all. In fact, they even mentioned that it may be related to luck after all. I'd be more careful about throwing the term "bigot" around in the future if I were you.


About luck: in the final sentence, they mention luck. But even that is just I'm lucky I'm not lazy, I'm lucky I was born with the gift of hard-work and determination, rather than I'm lucky I've avoided the external forces that send people homeless.

They write a long post about how people who are homeless "don't get it".

They say things like "go to the public library", and "quit blaming the economy".

They say things like "I make sacrifices, I toil, I struggle, but I make it work."

I've edited the OP a bit - maybe this explains the bits I concentrated on.

"I can't tell you honestly why [...] I would be so driven. Why [...] I would be curious enough to seek out the books, essays, podcasts, and blog posts that have shaped my entrepreneurial character.

Why was I drawn towards the heroes and role models that I was - business and technology leaders, instead of rock-stars or athletes - who inspired me towards a particular path?"

It feels to me like it's hateful, obnoxious, vile writing. (Other people disagree, and that's fine.) People who are homeless do not have entrepreneurs as role models? People who are homeless do not have intellectual curiosity? The economy has no affect upon a person's ability to gain employment? People who are homeless did not struggle hard to make things work before the rug was pulled?

I sincerely wish AVTizzle never has to experience homelessness. But perhaps they should temper their remarks about homeless people until s/he's met a few or been in that situation.


Well, it seems like a nuanced issue. There are both homeless people who are lazy and unlucky and rich people who are lazy but lucky. I think the OP has a general disdain for lazy people, regardless whether they are rich or homeless. I rather doubt he'd be praising some trust fund baby who's also lazy.


I'd be more careful about checking that the person you're replying to said the thing you're replying to. I was offering a definition and a criteria for distinguishing between criticism of the poor and bigotry against the poor. I haven't called anyone a bigot.


Sorry, my mistake. I'd be more careful about defending someone's poor use of the word "bigot".


I wasn't defending it.


Upon re-reading your post I take back what I said. I was really taking issue with the user who originally called the OP a bigot. Sorry bout that.


All is forgiven.


No, you can criticise people who are homeless.

What you can't do is use your lucky situation to cast all homeless people as feckless, lazy, stupid, inflexible people who deserve to be homeless because they just don't make enough effort.


What would you self-teach yourself at a library that would land you a job later? It might work for programming, but not for that much else? "Hi I'm your new physician, I learnt how to operate reading books in the library" :-)


Since you asked, there are a variety of jobs that fit the criteria of not requiring a college degree and that are learnable from books, practice and practical experience alone.

Sales, Software Development, Blogger, Author, Administrative Assistant, Fire fighter, Telecom engineer, (think Comcast/Verizon installers) Appliance Repair, Personal Trainer, Dietary Advisor, etc.

None of these may be a person's 'ideal' job, but the majority of them pay well and can be gotten with learnable education, practice, or a good interview.


Blogger, author, and administrative assistant do not pay well in the vast majority of cases and cannot be gotten easily -- decently-paid positions in those fields are very competitive.

Sales is usually commission-based.

Fire-fighter requires physical fitness. Appliance repair requires appliances. Personal trainer and dietary advisor... are those even real jobs outside the tiny enclaves of the very rich?


They are. Personal trainers typically work at gyms and are 'for hire'. Dietary advisors are probably less common, but I was just looking for a few example fields for things you could learn from the library, for which I think that fits the bill.

You're not wrong that there are barriers to these jobs, but that's true of anything. As IT professionals, we're used to seeing "minimum 10 years practical experience + portfolio + FizzBuzz tests" as job requirements, but almost every job has some barrier to entry, whether it be related experience, references or what have you.

Construction jobs (in boom times) are more plentiful, but require physical fitness, tools and the ability to be handy. Pizza delivery generally requires a vehicle, insurance, a clean driving record, etc.

There is no magical place that people can go to become employed, but I tried to pick fields that had learnable skill sets or (in the case of the first few, definitely sales) jobs where one's pluck and enthusiasm could go a long way towards landing. I've worked with a LOT of salespeople over the years, and it's all personality-based at the entry levels, if you can convince the person to give you the job, you can get the job. It isn't until one tries to progress in sales that past performance even becomes that big a deal.


Could pickup some more standard IT skills which would help you doing admin type work?


Carpentry? Sewing?


Carpentry learned in a library! Wow, no wonder that people make ignorant "just pick yourself up by your bootstraps"-type comments. Complete and utter disconnection from reality.


Tell us, what are the things you could learn at a library that could translate into earning income?


I don't recall saying there was anything that you could learn in a library that would translate into earning income. Though if I were in a situation where that was my only option, I'd personally pick web programming. That probably has the lowest barrier to entry of anything you could actually learn by just reading a book.


Would you hire a carpenter who had 0 experience but had read a lot of books at the library when you could alternatively hire a carpenter with actual experience?


Is sewing still a viable source of income? There are a few shops where I live, but they all seem to be run by old people with immigrant background (no offense, it just might indicate that they are willing to work for little money).

Carpentry takes years to learn the official way where I live. And you need tools.


It's the AVTizzle's that make things difficult for the young people in the article. He's right about one thing: it's not about money or jobs. It's about attitude.

The top poster has the right attitude.

But many people who are in a position to help others cannot because, while they may be able to manage many things, they cannot manage to adopt the right attitude. They will never be generous. They will never help the less fortunate.

I don't know how to define success in the general sense that it is often used in the context of careers (As the great New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint asked: What is Success?), but in my view generous people are successful. They have succeeded in adopting the right attitude.


Who are you to define the "right" attitude? And how do you know that AVTizzle isn't a generous person who doesn't help the less fortunate?

_“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ― Aristotle_

Considering your place in the world, why you are more/less fortunate then others and your purpose in life is as natural as breathing for people. To be able to see validity in both sides of the coin signals to me that AVTizzle is likely an individual who is very generous in life. I don't know him/her personally but your assertions sound completely misplaced and simply projections of what you think someone is like onto AVTizzle.


The "right" attitude is an expression, a figure of speech. There is no universal definition. It is a way of stating an opinion of approval. But many people might agree on a similar definition based on a set of facts. Some might disagree. It's up to you, not me.

As for AVTizzle, you could be right. Then again you could be wrong. He wrote what he wrote. He chose a certain tone. I interpreted what he wrote. And I drew conclusions about his attitude.

As one would do with any comment, such as the top one.

You can either agree or disagree with my conclusions. As I can with yours.

Regardless of whether my mind is educated, I've followed Aristotle's idea. I've entertained the thoughts in your comment, however I do not accept them.


i could not have said it better myself. even if he is smarter and not just luckier, so what? the fact of the matter is, in sheer production terms it's becoming increasingly unnecessary for everyone to have a job; it's just that the "working and 'making your own way' is the only right/moral/ethical/deserving way to live" mentality is so deeply ingrained in people that they are unwilling to face up to the fact.


I am in this exact age group, and my circumstances are almost similar. I got lucky, my family is very close knit so I'm able to live with my mother, and up to 3 relatives have given me opportunities to move in if my mother couldn't handle me playing parasite.

I made the dumb mistake of going to a small private college for CS. There were only 2 professors in the department and at most around 8 seniors, so we had an insanely good professor to student ratio. Problem is, the career center had no connections in the tech industry and as a result I have been trying to solo my way into a software job having graduated in 3 years with my bachelors with a 3.3 gpa and no internships since the year I was planning to have one in the summer, I found out I could graduate early so I took the chance.

Then I found out almost every intern opportunity requires an active .edu email or some other validation to show you are an active student. So I'm in the awkward position where I'm working on FOSS projects whenever I can, while playing homemaker for my mother to "earn my keep", and trying to get a leg in.

But the real getter is that I am not some rock star coder. I'm not really good at it, at all. I don't have great recall of the myriad of algorithms (I know what A* is, but would have to Google a proper implementation). Same with with a spline or a rope. If I write software, I usually end up spending a few hours on ~300 lines just debugging it into a working state with a standard library reference open the whole time. I understand the languages I use - I can write regexes, I know locks, etc, but I usually just hit some gap in my knowledge snag that gets me caught up for a while. For example, I was trying to use Python subprocess to do some calls into nvidia-settings and various other fan controllers(I was writing a script to intelligently control my machines fans since the default Linux fan controls kind of suck). Took me 3 hours to figure out that the best way to get standard out was to use subprocess.check_output because temp files as pipes didn't work (at least for me).

So all my interviews so far have basically gone the same way - I don't produce perfect code from memory, and as a result I don't get consideration (there are more reasons than that, but I get the impression), especially without any past employment experience and only 2 personal projects (which are really just scripts) across github and gitorious. I also have an awful personality most people can't relate to - I'm an introverted cynic. Even if I can try to fake behavior around others I always crack and act like myself again at some point. I have a really hard time making small talk and being chummy, for example.

So I can relate to the large portion of the population that isn't an Elon Musk super-genius entrepreneur or some John Carmack coding god whose every line of code reads like prose that five hundred years from now professors will read off to CS students like Shakespeare. I'm not even particularly average, because I have very little concrete experience - I just have a gigabyte of source files for homework and projects from school, a few commits to various FOSS projects that changed a line or two. I'm trying to make something I can show off but I lack the imagination to come up with something novel that I can realistically build by myself in a month or two (since I'm always worried I might end up just like the kids in this article, out on the street).

Sorry for the rant, I just feel like the guy two posts up is kind of lucky to be talented.


Why even bother with internship? I think this kind of system where you have to work for free just sucks...

Also it sounds to me as if you are actually a pretty good programmer. Not many people would be able to stand debugging their code for hours. And frankly, I think it is normal that it takes this long to get a complex algorithm running. That is why in most programmer jobs, you don't implement any fancy algorithms at all. You use libraries for that, and only do primitive CRUD operations using some framework.

Personally I would have to Google A* again, too, and I have never heard of "rope". Spline only rings a bell, I think it is used in graphics programming, but I wouldn't know what algorithm is behind it.

Reading further, I think you are also picking tasks that are too hard, like hacking around with NVidia device drivers? Why not experiment with a nicer and cleaner environment like HTML5? I must admit your choosing NVidia device drivers would seem a bit like a red flag to me, like a failure of judgement - why would you pick something horrible like that. Which is of course a bit insane, because we need mad hackers to drive forward technology. I am just saying...

But I think you underestimate your coding skill by a wide, wide stretch. Most people couldn't even begin to hack on NVidia device drivers. (Or maybe not device drivers - not sure what you were trying to do, but it sounds like low level stuff).

Wondering what you would charge for implementing a small project?


`nvidia-settings` is a commandline utility to control graphic card configuration. It's used to set things like SyncToVBlank, FSAA level, Vibrance, multihead positioning, and even GPU and Fan speed, since you can also query temperature.

Hacking the original nvidia drivers is pretty much impossible, they are closed source after all :)

One of the first things I've implmeented when I learned programming was mapping ACPI events of multimedia buttons to various calls to XMMS. Having something physical to relate to while coding is a big help for me, and makes a lot of sense. I assume that's one of the reasons a lot of people get arduino, rPi, beagleboard, etc... If it moves or interacts with the environment, it's easier to wrap your head around it, and more rewarding when you get it to behave as you want it to.


> Hacking the original nvidia drivers is pretty much impossible, they are closed source after all :)

You don't just open binaries in hex readers and see the program running before you like Neo in the Matrix? :P


> But I think you underestimate your coding skill by a wide, wide stretch. Most people couldn't even begin to hack on NVidia device drivers. (Or maybe not device drivers - not sure what you were trying to do, but it sounds like low level stuff).

It isn't hacking device drivers, its just using the binds to control the fans and monitor temperatures on gpus from nvidia-settings. It is the nvidia frontend configurator for the proprietary driver. That is why I brought it up, it really is just these two lines:

nvidia-settings -q gpucoretemp nvidia-settings -a [gpu:0]/GPUFanControlState=1 -a [fan:0]/GPUCurrentFanSpeed={}

But they weren't even the problem, I'm talking about a python standard library implementation of what is effectively execVP in Python. I tried a half dozen ways to get standard out from that thing. Makes me feel dumb.

> Why not experiment with a nicer and cleaner environment like HTML5?

I struggle a lot with CSS for one. I can't remember all the different modifiers on tags, I don't remember hex colors, and I keep messing up ids, selectors, and classes syntax when I try it. I'd get to know Bootstrap if push came to shove on that front. I'm pretty fine with html, understand the syntax enough that the Mozilla Developer Pages + a lot of Google lets me structure a web page well enough. I've done some Django to try to build up my resume, but never built anything real serious on it besides tutorials mainly due to that lack of imagination for the "what novel thing can I make that is really useful?" problem. Worst of all is the most I've done in Javascript was the Code Academy track and the Jquery track. So I can read JSON and do the most basic JS stuff, but my interactions in a web app barely go beyond GetElementByID.

> Wondering what you would charge for implementing a small project?

I have no idea. I currently make some side cash just playing tech support in my town. I have never even tried contract work, mainly on the basis I have no portfolio of real serious projects besides school ones. I've only been out of school for a few months, and usually spent my summers taking classes to graduate early (I did try applying for Summer of Code my Sophomore year, but I can't blame my applicantee for thinking rewriting a garbage collector in a new language might be a little much for someone who had less than 6 months experience with C).

One problem is that my tools experience is practically non-existent. I know and have read lots of books, read some code samples and projects, read a lot of dev blogs, on a lot of languages - mainly because I like all the different paradigms. So I can look at C, C++, D, Python, C#, Java, Javascript, Bash, Regexes, SQL, and even a smidgen of Perl and Haskell, and understand what is going on, write something easy. But since I haven't landed a job yet in any major discipline, and because I am mainly interested in the lower level stuff, I haven't really specialized enough to tackle contract work. I imagine I'm around a hundred or so development hours away in any one language from being able to truly sell myself as a candidate for such.

I'm currently implementing keyboard shortcuts in Firefox Mobile for hardware keyboards, if you want an example of what I'm doing. I use my TF700 a lot on the go, and with the keyboard dock it is annoying not to have a lot of the desktop shortcut functionality. I just started today though, but I found the implementation of keybinds from desktop Firefox, and once I find the skeleton keybinds they already have in mobile (they do have a few) I'll just port over the major ones that are missing, with a check to only use them when a physical keyboard is in use. But that might take a week to flesh out, commit, etc. And when you are an unemployed college graduate, a week is a lot, and that is small!


"I tried a half dozen ways to get standard out from that thing. Makes me feel dumb."

Sometimes real world programming is annoying like that. I still stand by my point: you seem to be able to autonomously dig through API documentations and look up algorithms on Google. That makes you a good programmer.

"I can't remember all the different modifiers on tags, I don't remember hex colors, and I keep messing up ids, selectors, and classes syntax when I try it."

All these things can be looked up, also I think it is good to keep CSS hacking to a minimum (don't apply too many tricks). Using something like Bootstrap should eliminate most of the need for that?

I think we will wake up in some time and realize that with CSS we have created on of the most unwieldy programming constructs ever. Once they'll introduce scripting (which is planned I think), it will be real hell. The problem is that everything has so many intractable side effects.

As for contracting: I know the feeling of not knowing anything well enough to sell yourself as a specialist. I think the solution could be to just take on a small project (like a web site) and not be too specific about the technology.

Firefox Mobile keyboard: see, most people wouldn't even know how to start doing that kind of thing.


I'm in the same boat. 2 yr degree and 3 yrs experience (one employer). Reading through your comment I imagine that many people are in this boat. The part that is most frustrating around HN is it seems like everyone has ideas and is a rock star and many successes and jobs are falling from the sky.

It can be discouraging when you have none of that. Most discouraging is when people say things like "Just move here and you'll have jobs flung at you daily!" Relocating isn't something I can do on a whim.

I know that given the chance I can excel but no employers want to give it. It seems almost like a fix when the same positions are left open week after week but you've already been turned down (with and/or without an interview).

For me ideas are hard to come by so what I've been doing is finding things that annoy me as I do them. Can I do anything about that? Most of the time I can't but recently I've stumbled onto a couple ideas that I can.

So this post is slightly relevant: I believe many people, including some of the ones that seem to have it all figured out, are just like us. Continuing to learn and having to research to get things to work; not machines.

Edit: nobody here has said this but many times it's the tone I read it in.


3 years experince sounds like a lot from this side of the fence. Every rejection letter mentions the lack of any industry experience.

> It seems almost like a fix when the same positions are left open week after week but you've already been turned down (with and/or without an interview).

I have gotten the impression after about a hundred cover letters that a lot of these open positions are not meant to be filled by candidates fit for them, but they exist as HR's always available gap for the rock star with 10 years experience in every language to come and apply for so they can get a third the salary they can get elsewhere. Like they just leave positions open in case a genius feels dumb enough to take it.

> For me ideas are hard to come by so what I've been doing is finding things that annoy me as I do them. Can I do anything about that? Most of the time I can't but recently I've stumbled onto a couple ideas that I can.

I mentioned in another post but I do the same. Currently am implementing desktop keybinds in Firefox Mobile if you have a hardware keyboard connected, since I use my tablet + keyboard a lot and having no ctrl-t, ctrl-w, etc is annoying. Started today on that project :)


I agree 3 years is more than many. A pitfall is it was with a small company so everything I learned (I learned a lot on the job) was the way they ran things and going from what the more experienced programmers said a lot of that was not how things ran elsewhere.

Even with 3 years though it seems that companies now want 5+ or more (it always seems out of reach).

Good luck with your project! What you described is completely foreign to me and I would feel much more lost than you I'm sure (more of a web but not mobile yet guy).


I wouldn't worry too much about web vs mobile. Give it 5 years and mobile browsers (on Android at least, the other two platforms are in lockdown) will be beefy enough to run webgl + html5 applications so I imagine a lot of people will start switching from apps to bookmarks of their favorite games.

Especially if internet service (and in particular the wireless) in the US gets less shitty.


"It seems almost like a fix when the same positions are left open week after week but you've already been turned down (with and/or without an interview)."

I've heard that some companies even post fake job offerings because it makes them look good economically (look, we are growing and can't hire fast enough).

What about going to networking events and user groups and reaching out there?


I've heard that a lot of it has to do with "We have to advertise the position but someone on the inside is moving up." or something like that.

I've been meaning to look into meetups but haven't had much success in finding anything in my area. I did find a Ruby one recently that I could go to but I know nothing about it. Where I live it doesn't seem there are many (if any) for developers. Starting my own is just my idea of a worst nightmare.

When I get done with the projects I've picked up lately I will look into it some more as a lot of times it isn't about how well you could do the job but who you know that can get you the job.


I'll echo other people's sentiment in that it sounds like you actually probably are a very good programmer, but just a very harsh critic of yourself. That can be a good thing because it can vault you ahead of other people who have falsely inflated opinions of themselves, but it can also be a bad thing because it will prevent you from putting yourself out there.


> I don't even know what this is supposed to mean. It sounds like something you'd hear at a bad self-help seminar.

The locus of control is a psychology term[0]: "referring to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them."

I've had many peers growing up who had an entirely different attitude from me regarding what was within an individual's control and what was not. Many people hide behind the circumstances that they have been dealt without acknowledging that it is possible to change them. They simply give up and choose to see no path forward.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control


But do you realize that this (subjective) locus of control is also, at least to a degree, part of your skill set. I have problems with statements like 'they give up and choose to see no path forward', because it seems to imply that somehow they're lazy, or dumb, or whatever. It's a step away from 'poor people are poor because they're lazy'.

I am very 'entrepreneurially-inclined', but I have no illusion that this is all my choice or doing. I just happened to have certain personality traits, and the right ones have been developed through my unconventional upbringing and schooling.

I understand what you are saying, but for some people pointing this out doesn't do much. They need to be taught and encouraged to understand that they have more control than they think.


On waiting to be hired: if market doesn't need my skills I can either wait for market to change... or I can work on my skills.

If you have no other options, learning in public library will get you much further than doing nothing and pitying yourself.

Parent post concludes with similar thought as yours: maybe he was just luckier at birth. Being better educated, feeling smarter and more driven might all be consequence of that.


> On waiting to be hired: if market doesn't need my skills I can either wait for market to change... or I can work on my skills.

True. However, it is impractical to learn many valuable skills from a library (particularly a busy library where regular access to a computer is unlikely). A library is really good at one thing in particular - teaching you to think. It's not so good at teaching you to weld, to be an EMT, a dental assistant, or even to be a secretary. All of things require either a employer willing to teach you as they pay you (which is sadly uncommon anymore), or some form of formal education (which costs money).

I'm not saying that you should give up and not work on your skills, I'm just pointing out that it's not that easy.

> Parent post concludes with similar thought as yours: maybe he was just luckier at birth. Being better educated, feeling smarter and more driven might all be consequence of that.

It probably doesn't hurt. It's also easy to look on hardships you have not personally endured and say "If you only did this..."


I grew up in a developing country in a small town, I had to drop out of high school since it was becoming unaffordable, with access to a small library where most of the books weren't even in English. I learned electronics from those books, but most of it covered PNP transistors which were rare instead of NPN transistors which I could easily strip from old broken radios. I learned about computers from those books, and taught myself programming, where the books were mostly about the Commodore 64 and I was learning BASIC while the world out there was using PCs with C and Pascal. I taught myself enough to assemble my first PC from broken parts, and developed enough skills to allow me to move to a city, then to move to the UK, and other countries.

Was I lucky, or better educated? I also have that question of why do people who live in developed first world countries with free high school education and large libraries (containing books in the best language for information, and computers) don't see themselves as extremely lucky already. Why, with the massive head start they have that I didn't have, don't they go and make something of themselves and their lives?


Because they don't have destitution motivating them to grab on by the skin of your teeth to any income whatsoever.

But, I want to note, that's a good thing. One of my college classmates is a severely messed-up person from being raised by abusively money-hungry and careerist upwardly-mobile parents from India. Having the fire of destitution in your belly is how you breed Goldman Sachs investment bankers, not good citizens of a developed society.


I agree that it can be a really bad thing. Just as your upbringing can influence you to become curious, willing to learn and self-motivated, it can also teach you the wrong kind of motivation. I have seen people come from a background where wealth was considered more important than anything, where opportunism and exploitation are acceptable means to a materialist goal, and saw these people turn out as criminals and con men.


> Having the fire of destitution in your belly is how you breed Goldman Sachs investment bankers, not good citizens of a developed society.

no way. Its greed and not destitution that breeds these investment bankers to exploit whatever they can to make money.


But that's the issue. People who grow up poor learn to be greedy.


You will discover a wealth of wisdom when you get the answer to this question: "Don't they get it?"

Of all the things I have chosen to do in my life, by far the most challenging has been raising kids. I cannot tell you how many times I wished I had some super power like telepathy to convey a concept directly into their brains because words just weren't cutting it. The whole idea of taking the locus of control and bringing it inside (love that btw) is what I wanted to teach, and sometimes it gets lost in the "You could make this happen, why don't you?!" Your kids have to be confident enough to know that their failures aren't a reflection on their worth, but not so confident that they push the failure outside and into a place where they can deny an ability to change it.

Once it 'clicks' the world changes, before it clicks you're adrift in the white water rapids of life. Once you 'get it' you realize you don't have to stop the river you just have to exert the necessary force to navigate around the hazards, before that all you can think is that "nothing can stop this river, its going to kill me!"

I haven't a freakin' clue how to teach that.


Agreed. I have an eleven year old daughter, and I'm constantly quoting the movie version of Alfred Pennyworth to her, in the perennial hope that some day it will just click.

"And why do we fall Master Bruce?" "So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

I like to think that I've done well, letting her get into programs that she finds worthwhile, hoping that she'll apply herself in a way I never did at her age. It's painful watching children fall in and out of like with things when they realize how much work is involved, but having given her exposure to enough things, I've found that when she can grasp onto the kernel of something she truly enjoys, it's a lot easier for her to overlook the effort involved.

It doesn't fix the fact that some things aren't worth trying for (especially eating her Spinach, though that one's obviously not crucial), but then you have to overlook that y'know, she's eleven, and if I'm honest with myself, she's a million times better at applying herself than I ever was at her age.

The only thing I've found that works is when there are crises, we try to collectively break down the problem into its smallest component parts, and deal with them in very small chunks. Another very useful tool has been the "Destination Imagination" program -- I don't know how old your kids are, or whether the program is available in your school district, but it is, specifically, an unstructured lesson in getting kids to learn creative problem solving through small, focused problems that they are challenged to solve (like how to most efficiently roll golf balls into a bucket on the other side of the room using a broom, two chairs, a pack of bendy straws, etc.)

Having been a judge for DI, I can assure you that the children came up with a variety of solutions I never would have fathomed, to varying (but often impressive) degrees of success.


I'm still single, and not kids.

Will it work if kids are given some lesson by sending through hard experience?

Lets say I tell the kid I will give him a buck extra for a buck he saves. How would the kid go about it?


I've always tried to give my kids as many different experiences as I can, when they were young I tried to set things up so that we could fail together at things, and then work through them. It was important that they learn that failure is a way to learn how to not fail. Ignorance is just a signal that there is something else to learn. Pain is nature's way of saying "Hey, reconsider carefully what you are doing or just did."

But every kid is different, so the only advice I can really give is this; Understand that your kids are learning all the time, be mindful and deliberate in your interactions.


"With enough determination and will, you will find a way"

This line of thinking is very dangerous and patently false. You need to bone up on how much one's socioeconomic class affect your chances at doing anything. Besides which, your suggestion does nothing about addressing how to enable people to be productive, it just says that you try and be better than those around you, which even if that works, still leaves all the people you beat to suffer and become a drag on society as a whole. It also completely avoids answering the question of why this is even happening in the first place.

Let me ask you this, would you have the same suggestion to someone who is homeless in India? If you've been to India you'd see how ignorant your thinking is. Why do you people think that the US is some magical place where dreams and wishes come true if you just work hard enough? It's the bullshit the politicians feed us to make you all think we're all millionaires in waiting. This is why we're all going to hell in a hand basket. You need to start taking more responsibility for our fellow citizens. You want to live a place where it's just up to the individual to "make it", go to the developing world and see how much you like it. The reason it's better in the West is because we all share, or at least used to, a similar standard of living. This homelessness in the youth affects you whether you like it or not. You won't like it very much when your town is crawling with them and unemployment is double digits. I can tell you now that your shitty advice and self aggrandizing will be of no help.

"I can't tell you honestly why my life fell into place so that I would be so driven"

Your arrogance is breathtaking. Maybe if the street people start sucking Steve Job's cock the way you do they'll get a clue and start really sacrificing so they too can get ahead.

My best wish for you is that you fail miserably at everything you do so you'll get the chance to put your money where your mouth is, and work your way up to the top as you eat out of a garbage can and sleep under a bridge. When you do that, come back and I'll issue an apology.


Wow, why don't you eat shit? His entire post was lamenting the fact that he is ignorant, why do you have to berate him over it?


How weak.

Of course, the weak are to be looked down upon!

May John Galt bless the boot of your heel as you crush those idiots who haven't figured out what DO they do that's valuable.

I'll be thinking of you next time I toss a Rails book at a homeless person and tell them to stop whining.


For anyone in the Rand camp (I know I was), realize that even if people wanted to become the future workhorses of the World, a good quarter of us are ill either physically or at various parts of our lives mentally. It is a bit unreasonable to demand that people not be human...


Tell me about your life. Supportive parents? Good school? College paid for? I can't imagine anyone other than a person who's definition of adversity includes "having to study really hard" making a post so sickeningly lacking in basic human empathy.


The only issue I have with your first argument is that the majority of the people doing the hiring have no idea how to readily determine someones value. Often times they fall back on the easily quantifiable such as school, employment, and in our industry technical qualifications. Even at that few are able to administer even the barest of sniff tests to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Otherwise I don't really disagree with you.


You think about them: "How weak." They think about you: "How lucky." You're both somewhere between half correct and entirely correct.

> Quit blaming the economy.

> With enough determination and will, you will find a way. Or you will make one.

You seem awfully certain of that. I can't help but wonder if this view derives primarily from confirmation bias or if it represents an accurate appraisal of the market. I think your conclusion holds with regard to the tech sector (most of us probably do) but I'm much less convinced that it generalizes. There's no cosmic entity guaranteeing that "a way" is present, only the economy. It's pointless to argue over the particular combination of self-reliant traits and opportunity that leads to success, but ignoring the correlation between the economy, opportunity, and success, is obnoxious and leads to short-sighted and self-serving policy positions.

> it has taken talent, drive, hard work, and sacrifice to capitalize on the opportunity presented to me.

See, here's the problem: there's a positive feedback loop between opportunity and success and down at the "no success" (poor) end of the spectrum the availability of opportunity is strongly determined by the economy. Talent takes time and resources to develop, drive takes resources to exploit, and hard work has no inherent value. You can't capitalize on something you you don't have. For the poor, acquiring resources means having a job, and it's possible for the conditions around that to be shitty enough to inhibit progress along self-determined directions even for the most driven of individuals. Nobody would argue that Chinese wage-slaves or starving African children are simply failing to capitalize on readily available opportunities. For less extreme examples of opportunity deprivation, less extreme conclusions still hold.

Just because the tech sector is in a fairly rosy position right now doesn't mean we should bury our heads in the sand and pretend like our victories are due to "superiority of drive" or "understanding of value". We should fight to increase the amount of opportunity available to society's poorest members. Sometimes this means offering resources necessary for "bootstrapping". Other times it means chopping down barriers to entry by punishing anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior. I don't believe our society does nearly enough of either.

I know that your post wasn't advocating a political position and was instead observing that a certain attitude is best for self-development. HOWEVER, I see way too many people who get drunk on the combination of this attitude with confirmation bias and then proceed to take the short-sighted and self-serving policy positions I mentioned earlier. End rant.


> But perhaps it was the greatest luck of all

It's a shame you buried this at the end of your post. It's also a shame that you don't appear to recognise that a life, any life, perhaps your life, can be destroyed by that same luck.

It takes surprisingly little to make a person homeless. Until someone's been in that situation they find it hard to understand why it's so hard.


Wow. Not to get personal, but you're a douchebag.


No offense taken.


Sometimes I think like the first half of what you describe. Surely, if you really want something and have a decent head on your shoulders, you can obtain it.

The problem is, sometimes you just don't understand. I have no concept of hard work, having largely coasted through high school and even maybe even more so in college. Were I homeless, I wouldn't know where to begin "creating value".

Fortunately, I'm employed as a software developer now. I stopped coasting and take my job seriously. Were I driven, I bet I would be an employer (or self-employed) rather than an employee. But then I also could make my savings work to avoid becoming homeless when not earning much money.


Just to push a point about the effect of luck:

> But then I also could make my savings work to avoid becoming homeless when not earning much money.

You've taken reasonable steps to avoid homelessness.

What happens if someone pushes a software bug out to your bank?



It's easy to think "I would cope if I had no access to my bank accounts for three weeks" but until you've faced it it's hard to understand how tough it can be.

And for some people the consequences were a few extra days in jail:



I think some people take AVTizzles comment or, as I see it, flow of thought too harshly. My interpretation of his comment is that he is not giving a statement or preaching about the true way (tm) of doing things Right.

I feel that he did a honest attempt to understand why it is so that at the same time there is capable young people sleeping on the streets and capable young people donating $500 million to charity? Why this world is like that? Some people seem to get angry when someone is trying to find out the reason why as if they'd have the answers. We all know that shooting the messenger does not help. Is is some kind of self-blame in works what drives people to a sort of resentment presented in some of the replies?


Thank you for understanding.


I know how you feel. I count my lucky stars that I consider Elon Musk a role model and Kim Kardashian a fat-assed clown.


I'm with you on this. I dropped out of high school because it was becoming hard for my parents to support me, and there was certainly never going to be any money for university education. This is in a developing country, where English wasn't even my first language. Yet, I've always had this curiosity that made me want to learn, and want to better myself and my life. I've moved between countries and started from scratch a few times, having to make opportunities for myself. I think I've been lucky to not be stupid, but I'm also wondering if my upbringing didn't help a lot more than I thought. My mother took me to the library a lot as a kid, and my father was never good with money or appeared hard working or ambitious, but he was always knowledgeable or able to explain things very well and a rational manner. I was left to my own devices and guided to take responsibility for my own well being and figure things out for myself. Maybe that was it, I don't know.


You got the "luck" part right. The rest, the "other half" you spoke of first, is solid gold bullshit.

We can talk about hard work and smarts all you want. You can even bring up outliers—cases where people have pulled themselves up from hardship and succeeded anyway. But they are not statistically supported. The truth is that the better upbringing you've had, the more opportunities you have had to improve yourself and your abilities, and the larger support network you have, the more likely it is you will succeed.

It really is that simple. It is situational. Purge your mind of the bullshit, because it is incorrect flawed logic.


Honestly, I often think the same sort of way. Blaming the economy doesn't do anything useful, even if it is at fault. The thing you can control most is yourself, so often you whip that. It does seem really strange to me sometimes when I see people having trouble finding work, but they won't relocate or other things that are simply meaningless to me. They do often have less resources to make themselves valuable, though. I had a computer and lots of free time to program constantly my whole life. Someone working fastfood who likes to socialize and smoke in their free time would have to give a lot up, or not even be able to afford to spend time learning even if they wanted to. Most of them don't want to give up their going out at night, or watching TV or whatever anyway. Oh, well, everyone has their own values. You can try to explain to them that they have extra variables and knobs they can spin when they get desperate enough to want to change at least.


I'm 33 and remember when I was in high school, there was a trend growing in the grades below me to reward all students, no matter whether they achieved anything or not. "Participation awards" became the hot new thing. I honestly wonder if this has had an impact on that generation just after me.


It's not a given that there is always something valuable to do. And even if you start some venture, success is not a given either. I agree with not giving up, but what if you need money right now, to eat and get a roof above your head? Starting some venture that creates value might take a while, too, and require some capital which you don't have.


This is so well put and exactly how I feel.


I see you've never heard the term overproduction before.


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