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Ask HN: Idea Sunday
249 points by _hoa8 on Apr 20, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 507 comments
Continuing the series! Go...

A small HN experiment. Every Sunday, a thread will be started to share product ideas. Why? Because many people have ideas they will simply not have the time to implement, and many need product ideas to work on.

Why are recipes linear and textual? I'm surprised the recipe-book metaphor sticked with us for that long.

I want a social cooking platform where the only way to represent a recipe is with a diagram.


You're a cooking master? No need to explain you how to make a roux or how to blanch vegetables.

Don't have butter? We'll substitute the step where you need butter by the steps to make it.

Allergic to peanut? These nuts are a good alternative.

Let's build a semantic recipe platform that's not linear and add a functional twist to ingredients (the part where you can substitute an ingredient by the function that returns one).

You'd like "Cooking for Engineers"

For some reason, I find this idea hilarious. It's a great rethinking of the recipe model. It's also a typical engineer idea; it's the kind of idea few people in my environment would come up with.

I like the idea. Creating different recipes with different or optional ingredients. I had been thinking if there is such a tool to experiment and document different recipes. I might also want to branch out from an existing step, make changes and merge back to the original step. BUT at the end - when I actually cook something and don't want to experiment or change the ingredients - I would like to see the recipe in a linear format.

I'm on a side project right now that involves indexing recipes by ingredients and the like, making an api could make the jump to substitutions and other meta-like mods.

Have you tried http://foodpair.com/ ?? it scrapes recipes from different sites and indexes them ingredient and lets you search recipes by just telling it what ingredients you have. You can also click each ingredient in a recipe to find out general substitutions for it (not recipe-specific).

I'm working on an idea that does this but is more generic than just cooking. Look out for the public beta in September.

You should try http://www.caldrono.com/

Wow! I actually would love this. Kinda like an IDE for cooking? Uhmm... would definitely use.

A major pain point in my life is house maintenance and repair. I really miss having a (good) landlord. That's what I want - a single point of contact to manage the upkeep of and fix any issues related to my home.

There's so much friction in the process of finding the various contractors needed to keep a home in good order. First you have to search on craigslist, angieslist, or google for contractors that service your area. Then you play phone tag with each. Then you schedule a time for each to come out and give an estimate, which can be a major interruption to your week. Then you schedule a time for the chosen contractor to actually complete the work. And then you cross your fingers that you chose well, because if you didn't, you'll have an even bigger headache on your hands.

Ideally I would pay a large monthly fee (500-1k) and absolutely everything would be covered. Regular maintenance would simply get done without requiring anything of me. My lawn would get cut when it needs it. My driveway would be cleared when it snows. My gutters would be cleaned as needed. My home would be cleaned twice a month. And so on. When ever anything else needs fixing, I'd have a single point of contact (an app, maybe) where I could open a ticket. I'd then be offered a selection of times when an expert could come fix the issue and after selecting a time that works for me, an expert would actually show up at that time and fix the problem. A little more friction could be removed if I could preselect times when it's acceptable for maintenance personnel to enter my home. Ideally I wouldn't even have to be home. The service would also have permission to deal with my insurance company as needed since that's also a major pain point. They'd cover anything not covered by the insurance. Or perhaps I could do away with my existing home insurance in favor of this full service home insurance company.

To begin the service, someone would have to perform a full home inspection to uncover preexisting issues which wouldn't be covered. The service could help take care of those issues but it'd have to be on an a la carte basis. Once the home was up to snuff, then the monthly fee would kick in and cover any new issues, as well as regular maintenance.

A simpler version of the idea, which wouldn't be as good but would have a lot less risk would be to offer maintenance only: lawn cutting, regular cleanings, ect... I'd still pay good money for that.

Property management companies take care of this for rental units.

Why not just find a good one that operates in your area and pitch the idea to them? Normally they operate for a percentage of rents but I'm sure you could find one who would do it for flat rate.

Your problem with the insurance company thing is you might have to give them Power of Attorney (which you really don't want to do) to make insurance claims on your behalf.

The Property Management company would already have the liability insurance that any company working in this space would need to do this for you.

For some reason I cannot edit my comment so I'll reply again.

I've been researching property management companies in Cincinnati (where I live) and I've come to a few conclusions:

1. There are no good property management companies in Cincinnati. At least, there are no highly reviewed property management companies - only those with negative reviews or no reviews at all.

2. Owners looking to rent their homes might be a great demographic for this idea. While most of the property management companies state that they do regular maintenance checkups, they really aren't incentivized to do so and from the reviews I read they typically don't. They're really only incentivized to keep the renter renting so that they continue to get their cut. As it stands, owners and tenants are often at odds when it comes to "needed" repairs because the property management companies charge the owners $50/hour plus parts for any repairs beyond the most routine of maintenance. Basically the property management companies have stuck themselves between a rock and a hard place where it's almost impossible to make both the owner and tenant happy. If, however, the owners were paying a larger monthly fee that covered all repairs, they'd no longer be at odds with the tenant. Of course, the problem of "tenant abuse" would then fall on us. Hopefully by being proactive with regular maintenance the abuse could be mitigated somewhat.

I'm going to call a few property management companies tomorrow to get a better idea of what exactly is and isn't covered under their plans.

Seeing as though I live in Hilton Head, I'm probably in the ideal market to try a scheme like this (#2).

There are a ton of remote homeowners renting out their property here without using a property manager or without using a good one. Unfortunately the homeowners I mention here tend to be extremely greedy people and don't have property managers because they don't want to pay anyone. They do things like advertise their units have cable TV and free wifi and have the cheapest, worst tier of service and constantly call the cable provider every month trying to get credits for fictional outages.

There's probably some money to be made here but I'm not sure I'd want to be the cog that keeps their greed-machine running.

I actually did come across some of these companies when searching for a one stop solution. I'll call a few and see if any of them are interested in servicing my home. I wonder why they've never tried to tap this additional market. My guess is that they are not equipped to deal with individual home owners, instead preferring to deal with landlords that own multiple properties.

If I could find a good reputable property management company in each city, I wonder if a business could be built around them. I'd be the single point of contact for the home owners, subcontracting the work to the property management companies. Hmm, definitely worth some research.

The problem is that while they charge a flat rate monthly, that doesn't include repairs and one-off charges which get passed on to the landlord. Maybe doing a combination of property management and home warranty would be valuable, but neither industry has the best reputation IMO.

This sounds very attractive to me as someone who just discovered my lawnmower won't start, a tree died over the winter, and 3 sprinklers are busted. I don't have time currently to deal with it.

Could it operate like Uber in a way? This service would attract a lot of handy/service men looking for work. It definitely would need a review system.

As a customer, do you want to take the time to dig through reviews, or would you rather the service "just work". I am in the finishing stages of developing lawncheer, which is a service for lawn and garden work; one of the areas I struggled with, was the trade-off on transparency and the contractor development cycle; ie, lawncheer, handles everything, and there is little interaction between the contractor/customer and we have a big stake in making sure the contractors perform perfectly, or the site just facilitates a transaction, where contractors go through a basic vetting process, but the reviews are what will count. One is obviously much more easily scaled (review functionality is easy to program, onboarding and training is hard).

I guess it depends. Are we talking about a flat fee or is there an opportunity for the contractors to bid for my job? The more involved I am in the process, the less I expect to pay. But I might be fine with accepting individuals who have less experience/reviews if they will accept a lower rate. I do think the goal should be to find a specific contractor who will consistently service my yard. Meaning, I don't think I would be a fan of a new person showing up every week. That sort of thing works fine for a taxi service but I think the trust relationship changes because they're coming to my home.

Interesting; for the time being, my goal is actually the opposite. My goal (at least until data starts coming in more reliably), is to provide you the user w/ repeatable, affordable, and reliable lawn care. If I am doing my job right, the contractors from my customers perspective should be interchangeable; you build a trust relationship with lawncheer, my job is to shield you from any potential disasters. Plan is to do a flat percentage fee, for each mowing, and I will be setting the prices.

Maybe, but there would need to be some way of initially vetting them so that you don't devalue the service by regularly sending unqualified handymen to your customers homes. It's probably not too bad if the person you send to mow the lawn is only so-so, but the person you send to fix the electrical issue better know his stuff.

Also, you need some way to ensure that they actually show up when they say they will which, from my experience, is a 50-50 proposition with most handymen.

It's definitely an interesting approach though and there are probably ways to circumvent the obstacles.

I love this because bootstrapping the concept is far simpler than an infrastructure build out, this is a super-service which can start out by sub-contracting all the individual services.

I am game, when do we start!

update: Some further thoughts on cost.

Looking at what I pay for my home (some of these I use, some I have had quoted; I also factored a monthly cost out of some of these which are quarterly). My home is upper-middle class in the midwest, about 5K square feet on 1/2 acre.

Lawn mowing: $150/mo Lawn treatment: $40/mo Pest control: $35/mo HVAC maintenance: $30/mo House cleaning: $300/mo General maintenance: $100/mo

I would certainly pay a premium for a single end point for managing these services but that last one is the stickler. Some people will never call but you will have those who want a maintenance person for every creaking floorboard, dripping faucet and other little nuance of the home.

I think the idea has lots of merit, would love to know what others think.

I think the main weakness in this business model, which is the same one with condos, is that people don't like to think about the really expensive things that they don't need to pay for regularly. When you need a new furnace/roof/fence/siding/driveway/etc., it's a multiple-$K hit. If you haven't budgeted for it (and I think most people don't), then the tendency will be to put it off for another year or three. I would guess the regular maintenance you outline takes care of perhaps only half the larger long-term upkeep problem. So prompt comprehensive maintenance with a flat monthly rate requires what seem like very high rates and some escrow, and also involves lower margins than it may appear to the customer. You may also become a magnet for customers who have already accrued a lot of "maintenance debt". So maybe you'd just need a long list of major unpredictable maintenance exclusions? Would that still be a satisfactory value proposition?

Regarding the main weakness, I think you nailed it. That being said, one could make a pretty convincing argument to the home owner that by participating in such a service, even at a premium, they'd actually save thousands of dollars. By keeping a home well maintained, you can avoid many of the big repairs that you'd otherwise be subject to. Most people don't caulk cracks when they first appear. They don't check their siding and roofing for cracks and leaks on a regular basis. They don't change out their furnace filter every winter. And a 100 other things they should be doing but aren't.

And you're right - people don't budget for the big issues. And that's all the more reason they need a service like this. A monthly, predictable bill is more manageable than a series of big, one time hits.

As for maintenance debt, pricing might need to take into account the age of the various components (roof, fence, siding, ect...). And, of course, any pre-existing conditions (ie. roof needs repaired now) wouldn't be covered at all.

I agree that the correct initial approach would be to bootstrap by sub-contracting out all the work. The trick would be negotiating favorable rates with the contractors and staying on top of things to make sure they do a good job and don't add unnecessary friction for the customers. Once business picked up enough in a city, it might be more profitable and manageable to switch to full time employees.

To start with, you could leave general maintenance off of the list of services performed, perhaps offering those fixes a la carte.

How about it being more of deductible. You would pay a flat fee for each visit of professional except the regular checkups.

It's neat, but I'd be worried about market size. This is a problem that not a lot of people have. Sorry, but for most people, it's not a big deal to call a plumber, and the vast, vast majority of people (at least in the US) clean their own homes.

EDITing my comment to be more constructive:

There could be money in a cloud- or app-based Personal Assistant, but you would really have to focus razor sharp on your target market. Rich people already have PAs and middle class people's time is not scarce enough to justify paying to get chores scheduled. You'd have to zero in on upper-middle folks like doctors and lawyers who aren't particularly rich, but tend to not have time to manage their lives. I still say it's a small market, but if you hit them and your price is right, it might work.

Market size is definitely something that would need to be considered. I agree that the bread and butter would be the upper middle class, but I think you may be underestimating how large of a market that is. There are 115 million homes in the US, with 20% of them earning 100k or more [0]. Only a negligibly small percentage of those make over a million which is the lowest I think you'd have to make to justify the cost of a personal assistant. I also think you're oversimplifying the problem and making an unsafe assumption about how many people have this problem, but I could be wrong about that. It would need to be tested.

House cleaning should probably be an optional add-on, but I think you're underestimating how big of a market that is too. Approximately 10% of households seek outside help with at least some of their household cleaning chores.

[0] http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/16/156688596/what-ame... [1] http://www.housecleaningbiz101.com/CleaningIndustryFacts.htm

> It's neat, but I'd be worried about market size. This is a problem that not a lot of people have. Sorry, but for most people, it's not a big deal to call a plumber, and the vast, vast majority of people (at least in the US) clean their own homes.

I think it would do pretty well throughout West LA. It's not a big deal to call a plumber, but it is a big deal to find a good plumber that you can trust.

Likewise, it's a non-trivial task to simply be aware of the maintenance that should be done around the house, let alone finding time to do it (or, again, finding someone you trust).

Age is more important than economic class when we're talking about potential markets for this idea.

Empty Nesters in their 50's and 60's is where this product needs to be focused. These people usually still work, tend to have more house than they need, have fewer monthly expenses, and aren't able to do run-o-the-mill house maintenance (even if they have the time). They could range anywhere between middle class and upwards.

My parents are firmly middle class, and I could see them wanting something like this.

Empty Nesters are your customers. And it's a growing market (in the US at least).

EDIT: Spelling and grammar.

I really like this idea. It would be great for renters, too, if the services could be opted for a-la carte at a slightly higher rate. For instance, in Boston, I needed someone to help bring over an in-window air conditioner from a friend's apartment and install it properly in a window. I had to spend the better part of an hour vetting different Yelp-style contractor sites, several actual contractors, and calling a few to see whether they'd be interested, available, and affordable. Being able to tap a few buttons on an app that sits somewhere inbetween Uber and Yelp would be amazing.

That said, whatever site mediates this, would potentially need to have 24x7 customer service, a billing platform (with payouts), and potentially some decent liability insurance.

I agree that with some modifications it could work for renters too, perhaps by simply offering things a la carte.

That being said, did you consider Task Rabbit? It seems like they might have been able to help you with your air conditioner install. Or perhaps not if it required a more skilled professional.

Don't forget that at a certain point of client & services, the company will need to be getting bonded contractors.


Another benefit of a successful implementation of this idea is that it could allow for a simple paper trail as evidence of good maintence which, in turn, may allow sellers to command higher prices: similar to vehicle maintenance records.

A friend here in miami does this sort of, his target market is nyc. http://serviceful.com/ check it out. not sure if he is on HN his name is juan chaparro.

In Brazil this is offered by insurance companies (it's called home insurance) for a long time.

Besides covering stuff like fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, theft, etc. they give you free home services like the ones you mentioned (hanging pictures, changing lightbulbs) and offer "emergency" services like locksmith, electrician and glazier.

It's way cheaper than your 500-1k range.

Here's one of the companies that do this: https://www.itau.com.br/seguros/residencial/

This sounded good until you said "insurance companies". If insurance companies in the US had the opportunity, they're likely to do what they did to health care.

That's really interesting. Do you know if they cover the big costs such as when you need to replace a roof or a driveway?

Though the door man (of one's apt. complex) often does things like this for a small fee, too.

I know a loss adjuster who has many years experience with insurance claims who would have exactly the expertise needed to find the right people in all the areas you describe. Largely his skills are used to benefit the insurance company (that he works for) but they could just as easily apply in the customer's favor. I'd recommend targeting prospective employees with that kind of experience.

homejoy.com & handybook.com (and others) could head in this direction?

I agree that this is an idea worth pursuing.

plowz.com is another one. Lots of service providers already being prescreened. Could help that part of the process.

Sounds like you really want a part time personal assistant?

I actually hired a personal assistant a few years back and this was one of the tasks I set them. The problem is that they didn't know any better than I who to hire for each task. That's why a service dedicating to solving this problem would be better. The service would either employee their own qualified service people or they would have a go to list of reputable contractors they could sub-contract out to.

Also, I like the idea of having a company that is invested in maintaining my home because they're on the hook for any issues that arise. They would be incentivized to perform all the regular maintenance tasks that I might neglect.

i would say the major problem is the business model:

relying on subcontracting means your company/service will be judged based on the quality/service performance of 100's of subcontractors and their employees, putting your business at risk once you want to scale.

Just going to throw this one out there. I live in Lisbon, it's tourist-central (I'm from SF and I've never seen so many tourists). Since I see a ton of lost people every single day there should be a way to digitally leave comments on things and places and a free one-stop shop to find such info (like Wikitravel). This info, although having a central repository, should be pushed out to an app that connects to one's phone (in particular, GPS) so that when you need help with figuring out where you are, what statue you're standing in front of, etc, you can open the app and it tell you (no entering anything...only if you want to get to another location).

By entering what you want to do beforehand, the app would know where you are and have a list of places you said you want to go, and tell you how to get to the next closest place, or alert you if one on your list is about to close for the day. Perhaps each city version is done by locals and in case of bad actors, there can be a voting system so the right info goes to the top. Plus, there could be integration with Google Maps so you can see if you're going the right way.

Reddit for real places rather than links? Upvotes and downvotes, comments (with upvotes and downvotes). A search function (that actually works) laid over Google Maps rather than textual links? Interesting.

Yeah, that could very well work. It would need an app, though, and some Google Now-type tech.

There's a guy out of Brazil who has a site called Viagens Maneiras (aka Trip to Brazil) and he goes to different locations in Brazil with his dog and takes pictures and offers info on each place. At the bottom of each location page, he has tips listed. These tips are usually comments by his site visitors (on what to do, what not to miss, etc). Anyways, I'm imagining part of his site but with improved functionality and a redesign.

[1] http://www.triptobrazil.com/

I hadn't visited the site in a long time and it seems to have a few navigational issues (like two-finger scrolling on my track pad required my mouse to be on the text/picture area rather than anywhere on the page).

I thought reddit fixed its search function sometime in, like, 2010. What have you searched for recently that didn't give the results you were looking for?

(sound of crickets)

You are right. I was unjustly unfair, and my information is outdated. As a longtime user of the site, I suppose old biases die hard. Thanks for all you've done to improve things over there.

My friend created an app for digitally leaving comments, wasn't created with tourism in mind but it meets at least some of your criteria: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/footmarkz/id715107924?mt=8

I started on a similar idea in 2006, but wasn't good enough to execute it at the time.

My original idea was that you do it ahead of time. It would have general ideas of how long it takes to complete an activity and would essentially provide you a list of maps relative to your hotel. Then, you'd have that information beforehand on your smartphone so that you could avoid roaming charges (which is an issue for international travel.)

The revenue model was funneling to travel sites and possibly travel agents who could provide more customized itineraries.

But now, with OpenStreetMap, you could have an app on the phone. On top of it, it could use the GPS to figure out where you were and put together a slide show for your friends. You could rate when you were there and provide more feedback later if you wanted -- just a simple thumbs up/thumbs down.

I've resigned myself to never getting around to it -- If I'm to found a company, it's going to be in the b2b arena instead.

I really love this idea. Reddit-ish, but sort by proximity to location as well as quality score. That way, if you are in a densely commented area, you will see comments about your surrounding few meters/yards, but if you are in a less trafficked area you might see comments on your feed about something a few miles/km away, giving you a destination.

Rather than 'fencing' regions then, if it could be done to just sort proximity that way, it would be incredibly useful even while sparsely populated.


The other issue is what occupies people's hands. It's surprising for me to see how many tourists use traditional maps (though, on the flip side, one never knows when someone is looking at a map on their smartphone), and how many people don't ask passers-by questions in order to get help. A dedicated app would mean less happenstance intereaction while abroad but it would also help not waste time (and give more time for more sights to see).

Another HN commenter mentioned offline capability, in this sense it could be like Wikipedia's make an e-book function, where you'd get, in the case of my idea, the pertinent street view photos, together with the right info downloaded to your phone. For ex, "give me top 10 comments on the Mona Lisa, 5 levels deep and for the Moulin Rouge, which I'm more interested in, give me the top 20 comments, 10 levels deep."

If a 'chapter' is to be added while on your trip, because you heard about something new and cool, then all that's needed is a wifi connection to download the right info and add it to the multimedia 'book'.

Have it work offline to avoid massive roaming charges.

Get close to this with BLE beacons at travel points of entry?

I think it's being done by Caterina Fake's current startup: https://findery.com/

I'm not sure, though. The main page isn't clear about what it does exactly, and I haven't created an account.

Yes, I guess it does exactly same thing

I've used the tripadvisour app for this purpose. It can give you a list of attractions nearby.

That said there is definitely something that can be done in that space.

Really enjoy this idea, have implemented a similar prototype last year.

Another useful feature would be suggest me the best food list for the city I should eat.

I think someone made this with augmented reality. Don't remember name of app though, it was a few years ago. It let contributors have their own "streams" so at any given location you can focus on content by a certain user. Like following a tourist trail, or a scavenger hunt. That kinda solves the cluttered comments problem

I was thinking this exact same thing while traveling. Location based wikitravel essentially.

You got it, more than a Reddit-style thing, I think a location based wikitravel is what my original idea was leaning towards.

I always wonder. How do you get people to use these kind of apps? How do you cold start this? For people to use this, you need content. For content, you need people. Chicken and egg.

For geofenced commenting, how would you deal with the "BILLY IS A FAG" problem?

via comment voting


Basically Yelp for transgender surgeons.

I've been working on making the decision as to who I'll get to sculpt new genitals for me, and researching this on the web is a mess - every site comparing them is out of date, triggers my mental sketchy spam site detectors, or both.

It'd be great to be able to go to a nice-looking site and say "all I'm interested in right now is MtF genital surgery", then see doctors who do that, and crowd-sourced reviews if their work. (Other people may be interested in FtM genital surgery, breast augumentation/removal, orichectomy, you get the idea - various manipulations of genitals and secondary gender cues.)

I think there's probably less than a hundred people who offer these kinds of services in the world, so it's not exactly a huge database to worry about.

I feel like this is a symptom of a far larger problem, the need for yelp for medical care in general. Its kind of shitty that there is absolutely no way to quality and price compare medical providers.

Also, good luck with the transition, I have a friend going through something similar, its definitely not an easy thing.

Disclaimer: I work at Yelp.

Yelp started out as finding a referral for doctors, and recently Yelp has added public data to their respective hospital pages:


There is a problem in that in the US at least pricing isn't very transparent, and changes depending on any number of variables. I remember an article a few weeks ago about the problems with doctor reviews online, and especially the inability of doctors to respond because of privacy concerns. I tried to find it but found an older but good article explaining the issue:



Its a start. I feel like zocdoc is good for looking up doctors who take your insurance but because the healthcare system itself is so massively broken, they can't tell you how much a procedure would cost and success rates. I may be wrong though and hope I am.

Assuming you probably want to make a decision before this service exists I wonder if you can't find an advocate. Someone who has been through the process of research, interviews and chose a surgeon themselves and completed the process. I saw a Huffington Post article about Justin Jedlica a while back and he mentioned that he had spent so much time having plastic surgery that he started a business around being a consultant for other people. http://justinjedlica.com/consulting.html. He probably wouldn't be the best resource for you, but I wonder if there is someone else with more relevant experience?

In all honesty, I think you need to spend more time talking with people that have undergone similar decisions in the past than worrying about building a website. Other people will directly tell you about their doctors and help you choose from there.

Consider going to Thailand for this. They've probably got the most experienced MtF genital surgeons in the world.

Why is this comment downvoted? Is it because of the <i> in probably? I've never researched this personally but have heard evidence supporting this from people who have.

This might be fairly simple, but I can't find a good solution - A replacement for Google Groups.

More specifically, a better UI to use Mailing Lists. Perhaps like vBulletin or other advance forum software. Maybe even built-in support in my email client?

For the life of me, I can't find a good way to use Mailing Lists. I don't like receiving 40+ messages every day, but I don't find digest mode good enough either. Google Groups is clunky, and it gives me no good motivation to return to it. The readability is also not all that great imo. The whole ajaxy thing it has going for it is also bad. I want to read static text on a functional and beautiful UI. It's not too much to ask for. :(

Fully agree with you on the clunkiness of Google Groups. Thing is, most other mailing list web interfaces are even worse; not only are they lacking a threaded discussion view like we enjoy here on HN, they often only show one message at a time. And then there's web forum software like vBulletin. Don't even get me started...the pagination...the horror.

It's awful! And I agree with the other commenters that it used to be better. Usenet was better. A threaded mail client is better. HN is better. Reddit is better!

This got me thinking: why don't folks just deploy a reddit instance? It's open source, it's easy to hack, it works. I went ahead and did it myself. As a test, I wrote a little gateway program to import all the postings from that famous old Usenet dump [1], the one Google was so excited to preserve for us in clunky old Google Groups.

This Usenet-in-reddit experiment is surprisingly readable. Some of the formatting tricks and conventions from 30 years ago carried over without needing conversion. However, some things still need cleaning up before this is ready to be shown to the world.

If you're interested in helping out, it's a fun little project. Drop me a line!

[1] http://www.salon.com/2002/01/08/saving_usenet/

In my opinion, discussions were handled better in the old Usenet days. How about running a private NNTP server and use one of the programs that forwards the mailing list to the NNTP server? There are still lots of good NNTP clients out there like XNews

I can't agree more and what I absolutely loved about Usenet discussions was, every reply contains a subject line. And it was expected etiquette to change your subject line if your reply deviates from the parent.

With usenet, I could easily tell what I haven't read and if a branch deviates from what I'm interested in discussing, I can just ignore that entire branch.

I used and loved XNews, and Pan, and SLRN.

Setting up a private NNTP server and getting people to use a Usenet client is going to be a challenge. I haven't looked, but are there any mobile clients?

I find this problem interesting, and I'm not sure what the right way to start solving would be. Is it that you like mailing lists and hate their web interfaces, or you like a forum/bulletin board style system and hate the way it notifies you of new content? I think each has a different solution, I'm just not sure what it is.

I think what I'd want is a forum that emails, but runs so completely off email that you don't have to log in if you so choose -- essentially, a hook on message save to email out if the preference is on, and a smart enough parser on receiving an email to post back to the forum (after email validation and verification, of course). That would be really fun to build, and may be worth some time exploring. If that's a solution you'd like, let me know - I could always use a hacking buddy.

Something like DFeed?

Example: http://forum.dlang.org/ Source: https://github.com/CyberShadow/DFeed

Huh, this actually looks nice!

Have you tried Discourse? It's Jeff Atwood's open source forum software.

I glanced at it when it made some news. I have the same problem with Discourse - unnecessary javascript just to view static text on the web.

Threadable (YC W14) is working on the mailing list problem. http://threadable.com/

They have a walkthrough video here. http://vimeo.com/90926057 Stay with it till the end; it looks like any other forum software until it becomes clear it's all happening over email, without any need for your team to learn a new tool or sign into anything. You can split off new discussions at any time, or make any sublist digest-only.

I like Gmane's interface. Many mailing lists are mirrored over at Gmane, and its "frames and threads" interface gives a nice email client feel.

I'm currently working on a Google groups/Google plus alternative for communicating and sharing information between one another. It's very early beta stages at the moment but maybe worth you checking out https://honbu.io

Take a peek at http://groupbuzz.com , developed by one of my students for just that problem. Its best use case is for paid communities of one kind or another.

If you have the time to help build it, there's one being built here co-op style: https://assemblymade.com/party-box

try codio.io or codio.com, cant remeber url

Build a company around creating a best in class development environment that they can sell to other tech companies. This would involve everything from repository management (on top of git) to build & compilation tooling to automated testing and probably more than that eventually.

Once companies reach a certain scale they inevitably expend some of their resources on building internal development tools. At Foursquare we have 1 person (on a team of ~80) doing this fulltime. Google has spent a ton of effort on this with blaze. Facebook & Twitter have done similar work. But it's all fragmented and it's all reinventing the wheel.

A company should do this right for everyone. If it was good enough I'd happily write very very large checks to use it.

Honestly I think this is what GitHub should be doing, but they don't appear to have their shit together enough to innovate so someone else should do it.

This is actually what I'm trying to do with my product


GitSense is marketed as a Git solution but it's also a proof of concept for a much bigger problem that I'm trying to solve, which I believe will be critical for being able do develop tools that can work in any environment, regardless of size, process, politics, etc.

What is not obvious, which is mostly my fault due to poor marketing, is the tools in GitSense are context aware and adaptable. With GitSense, I can drop it into any enterprise environment and have it work in a way that makes the most sense to them. And what I have learned from developing GitSense, we'll be the basis for creating smarter wikis, bug trackers, continuous build systems, etc.

I'm currently working on a blog post right now that talks about my programmable metadata technology, which demonstrates the benefits of having context aware and adaptable tools.

As a side now, I'm also looking for one or more co-founder to execute this larger vision of mine. So if you are interested in tackling this problem, send me an email. You can find my email in my profile.

How intrusive would the developer environment have to be? We're a "host your own REST service" development shop so deploying and testing your own GitHub repo is done with a dashboard from a web page. In our eyes, everything outside of code development and code hosting should take place in a web page complemented with command line tools for advanced control.

The feedback we have heard is the editor of choice is near-and-dear to a developer and would be difficult to force a new tool on anyone to edit code. Code hosting has a good solution with GitHub too. Which leaves testing and deployment up to the platform. Since we focus on giving two free REST services for publishing your own Jobs we put the deployment and testing into our web dashboard (and cli tool). Testing a REST API is easy and already integrated into our dashboard similar to Postman. The only code a developer has to write is a Job which is just 3 simple parts (inputs, outputs, and tasks). For us we wanted the .Net debugging power for every developer from our dashboard so we built it to identify tests that fail validation based off your test inputs and outputs versus your test's expected outputs.

Let me know what you think here's our beta vision based off our feedback for quickly developing and deploying REST API services for your own Jobs: https://flowstacks.com/developer/


I hear microsoft's suite integrates well with each other to achieve that. But alas, that's just for .NET

But what's wrong with IntelliJ?? We use it for Java EE and it works pretty darn well. Repository Management, Local server management, Compilation/deployment, it has everything and its executed pretty well. Although i suppose it's restricted to java...

How about Phabricator- http://phabricator.org/

That's part of the puzzle, but it's (AFAIK) mostly for code review and bug tracking. I'm very much interested in the build tooling & automated testing (& probably also deployment) pieces.

This stuff is still in beta and not generally useful, but we have Harbormaster (Build/CI), Drydock (software resource management) and Releeph (release management) in the pipeline.

Hmm, would Atlassian count?

Atlassian's product line suffers from the disjoint problem, which makes sense since they bought most of their products from other companies. To tackle this problem, you really have to have a unified base that all your tools are built on and it has to be flexible enough to work with any possible process and workflow.

My GitSense product is very similar to their fisheye product and due to how my system was built, I can actually integrate better with their own product line than fisheye can.

Thing is, "best in class" means different things to different people (and companies).

E.g., which PC platform is best in class? OS X, Windows or one of the flavors of Linux?

I agree that this is a potential problem. Is it possible to making something flexible enough to fit the individual needs of lots of different companies? I feel like it should be, but I certainly don't know for sure.

You mean nitrous.io?

An IDE for ideas. Intellisense for thoughts.

For those of you who develop using powerful IDEs (such as Visual Studio, Eclipse, ...), it's hard to imagine going back to a basic notepad.

Most people, most of the time, don't write software. They exchange ideas, express wishes, share their feelings. And to do that, they use tools that are not more powerful than a basic notepad.

This forces them to be explicit, to explain what they mean, to repeat ideas, to think linearly.

I believe it's time for the average person to have access to tools that are just as expressive (if not more) than the ones developers have been using for years. It's time to break the speech metaphor and develop a completely new way to communicate. It's time for a UI-driven, computer-assisted, general-purpose language.

What I suggest we build is an IDE for ideas. Intellisense for thoughts.

It's called Emacs. :)

More seriously, what would this IDE have in it?

Have you seen Scrivener? That's what many of my friends both in academia and in fiction use. What does it have that you would expect otherwise?

Interesting idea, but could you elaborate on the practical side of this?

Here's my take on this, in the form a ramble:

Intellisense works really well for code because there's a finite set of, for instance, methods you can call on a certain object - so I'm assuming you mean something that's more than just autocompletion.

I'm not really sure language on its own is powerful enough to handle ideas. When I think of organising thoughts and ideas I normally think of a mind map type of thing.

However, mind map software is too restrictive in terms of what you can create. A sheet of paper + pen is an excellent tool for noting down ideas and thoughts, but paper is finite and ink is irreversible: you can't move around/delete stuff.

I also sometimes have trouble with situations where idea A and idea B are related, but are situated at two completely ends of a mind map graph. So this might mean dispensing with two-dimensional mind maps entirely, but I struggle to imagine a non-annoying way of displaying a mind map in 3D.

"sometimes have trouble with situations where idea A and idea B are related, but are situated at two completely ends of a mind map"

Freemind has an arrow that can jump branches. Also you can drag A to B, flip a branch up, down, to either side, etc. No such thing as opposite ends. Also I think you can hyperlink A to B.

"Thought" might be a better term than "ideas". The purpose of such a tool is not to brainstorm, but to communicate.

We communicate using natural languages. If you check Twitter, you'll see people write down all kind of thoughts and information. But this information is not semantic, and only a human (or NLP) can make sense of what is said.

When people communicate, it's either to make a statement about the past ("I ate sushis"), about the present ("I'm in Las Vegas"), or about the future ("I want to watch Terminator 2").

The past and present (which actually are the same) are simple declaration about reality. The future is all about wishes and intents.

Of course, you could add another dimension/mode (reality/fiction). In fiction, past/present could be "I wish Hitler wasn't born" and the future could be "I want to work at Google". In reality, you would say "Dinosaurs existed" (past/present) and "There will be an hurricane tomorrow" (future). The difference is that the future is no longer a wish, but a prediction (as we're dealing with reality).

I want people to be able to communicate the following ideas without just relying on boring text:

- The Lego Movie was great.

- I want to be in NYC by noon.

- I'm interested in Bitcoin.

- Lock my house's doors.

- I want to wake up at 7AM every monday.

- I'd love to attent to the next Metallica concert in Barcelona.

- It's rainy in Vancouver.

- Where is my car?

- Turn on the oven to high.

The above statements should be purely semantic. I should be able to click on "Metallica" and get more information about them. I should be able to click on "event" and see where and when it takes place. I should be able to click on "car" and see exactly what car he's referring to. I want statements to be elevated to a level where they have meaning, and that text only is a single representation of these ideas.

You're in Vancouver? You won't see "It's rainy in Vancouver". You'll see "It's rainy (here)". If you don't know what Bitcoin is, you might see "John Doe is interested in [insert a short summary about what Bitcoin is]". If you're metallica, you'll probably see "3723 people want to see you in Barcelona". If you're the oven, you'll probably understand "Heat up to 500 F".

Now, the above statements are simple and don't show why someone would need an IDE for thoughts (NLP + manual confirmation would be enough in many cases). But people shouldn't limit what they think to 140 characters either. They should be able to express complex ideas such as (a product review):

    "iphone" -> "Do you mean iPhone 5S ..." -> Yes

    "display" -> "Are you referring to the display of the iPhone ..." -> Yes

    - Glossy
    - Cracked
    - Too Dim             ->     Yes
    - _____________

As you can see above, it's not easy to express complex interactions with text. But the idea is that you can input any keyword representing a "thing" (object, attribute, value), and continue adding nodes by searching for them with keywords until you have the elements you want to refer to. Then, you can drag relations between them and see suggestions based on likeliness and what not. It would of course infer things based on past statements and what it knows about you.

When writing a product review, people don't always know where to start, and often repeat things that other have said. By being able to refer to specific aspects of a product, see what others have said and confirm/infirm their statement (upvote/downvote), as well as build on top of it is probably a better way to converge meaning than to ask potential buyers to read through all of them manually. Maybe this should have his own idea thread.

Basically, I want a semantic version of Twitter that can suggest me things I can say about things I want to talk about, and let me endorse an existing statement instead of repeating it.

I see it doing reverse stemming so that the nouns and verbs in the AST are more simple, like annotating verbs and nouns with a temporal tag.

You type in english, and it generates an AST on the fly. This would allow conversations to line up and be searchable by content rather than just text.

If the software isn't continually improved I could see it dumbing down the grammar that the group uses. It could enforce a defacto double-speak.

Another nice side effect, is that you could search by concept. I find this very very difficult with current search tools.

That's the plan.

That's what we're building with our startup germ.io [http://germ.io] - as a product to help you log your ideas, evolve them with more detailed sub-ideas, and move them through incubation to execution.

Why? I think the key is exactly what you've said - to think linearly. Ideas often mushroom to end us up in a place drastically different from where we started, so the end result is not really linear. But we need to think about the next step in an idea linearly if we ever want to get something done. That is where mind maps (non-linear all the way) and traditional task-based tools (too linear) fall short.

Check out what we have at germ.io, signup and if you'd like in on what we're building right now just ding me a message.

There is probably an interesting opportunity in this idea and many ways to execute it. There are also existing products trying to address the problem. DEVONthink and Scrivener come to mind - both seem to have customers, but they are not what my dream product in this area is... In my daily routine I use Moleskine with two colour pens where I put both textual notes and many sketches and diagrams. The act of noting down what I learn/think is helpful in remembering it, but I would love a digital version of such 'idea journal' with all the modern tagging, searching, indexing, filtering and editing digital options!

Isn't Google's instant answer - I don't use Google anymore, so my terminology might be wrong, what I mean by "instant answer" is the auto suggestion on the search box - the equivalent of intellisense (or at least auto completion) for ideas?

From my perspective (automotive product development), this is called 'system design' or even 'product development'. We start from a use case, idea, feature 'want', whatever, and we move both up and down from the idea to arrive at customer use models(up) or requirements (down).

The documents for this development start to look like hierarchies with many cross-dependencies (the solution starts to 'fall-out'). For example, if the 'want' were "I want to make routine repairs easier for customers" we'd work up to different customer use models such as "Customer is notified on head unit radio that timing belt routine maintenance is suggested" to functional objectives (or functional requirements) "Customer shall be notified of suggested maintenance 1000 miles, 500 miles, and 100 miles before timing belt suggested maintenance" to non-functional requirements "Head unit connected cell shall notify timing belt status every hour" to performance specifications "Connected cell shall meet 3G bandwidth specifications for xMbps when within xmile range of cell tower with x specification" that then get tested to our test flow requirements.

The interesting thing is this design follows a 'V' engineering model [1] and the documents and requirements do not always have the best correspondence. In fact, the user models can sometimes be captured in Microsoft Word whereas the technical specifications can be captured in DOORs. Also, the use case is not clearly delineated to a performance specification 100% of the time. In large organizations it's difficult to communicate requirements and development milestones if this correspondence isn't clearly drawn. e.g. An executive that manages user experience (UX) may not understand why technology X is in the vehicle and what it gives them. This can lead to communication issues.

So, I believe the IDE for ideas has a data structure that is hierarchical and the IDE resembles an FPGA IDE feature such as Xilinx ISE RTL schematic. In this RTL schematic, the designer can show a 'black box' such as 'My CPU Design'. The black box can be double-clicked to show black boxes that make up 'My CPU Design' such as Instruction Memory, Data Memory, a program counter, an ALU, etc... Furthermore the user can click Instruction Memory to see which FPGA elements make up Instruction Memory, etc.

In such a way, different team members in product development can see different levels of abstraction according to their own interests and responsibilities. The user model can be the top-level 'black box'. A manager can double-click the black box to see which features create the use case. The manager can further double-click the feature set to see which functional objectives create the features, etc. This would be possible all the way down to performance requirements and can even include data for 'validation' and 'verification' activities (e.g. This is the feature I wanted, are all the functional objectives that make up the feature set fully validated?).

Anyway, that would be my ideal IDE for ideas. The IDE would be cross-functional and many people could have input for multiple user models that drive the initial feature 'want'. This IDE could even help control costs of large systems "Which feature set is driving the most cost?".

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-Model

I second the need for something like this. This kind of tool can be used for clearly communicating scope and even aid estimation of timelines because it shows all the complexity.

Cool that you agree. Are your projects structured similarly?

When I worked in the defense industry doing development using the waterfall software process methodology, we did stuff that fit the V-model. We used DOORS / Excel for requirements tracking, wrote long design documents, and had a QA person who wrote lots of HTML test documentation with clearly defined acceptance test procedures. All of these tools don't talk to each other.

An IDE like this could be applicable to any multi-month project with sufficient requirements complexity.

It's funny that defense and automotive are so similar in terms of tool chains for requirements.

I like this IDE from an engineer standpoint, but I think the killer app will be automatic report-outs. I wouldn't have to spend hours making status updates in powerpoint for every type of audience in the corporation.

I'd enjoy chipping away at this project. Have you started on anything?

I've been talking about it for years. I have not done anything.

My friends has started a startup around this, feel free to visit germ.io

Sounds like a mindmap, try Freemind.

A file naming convention (lightweight markup) that would allow us to store structured (meta)data right inside file names. Obviously inspired by Markdown and CSV.

We could then build lean, database-less asset management applications, while the user data (i.e. the files and their metadata) would always be portable, across platforms.

Take for example:

  J.M.W. Turner | Rain, Steam and Speed | ···· 1844.jpg
  W. Blake ···· | Newton ·············· | 1795–1805.jpg
as compared to the clutter we now must deal with:


My practical use case: take snapshots of my incoming receipts, bills, etc., name the jpgs using the proposed file naming convention (including fields for VAT, net amount, etc.), put them in Dropbox, build a parser and accompanying GUI to edit file names (and their corresponding metadata; have total amounts etc. being calculated in real time), drop a link to that (web app) interface to my accountant.

It’s just an idea for HN Idea Sunday; I did a somewhat more detailed write-up:


I like this. I've often had a similar issue in computational physics when handling lots of different calculation input/output files with variations in parameters. I've tended to automatically generate directory hierarchies, e.g.





but some standard way of expressing it in the file name would be great, and nicer to parse out later. There are filesystems that allow metadata, but I've never seen one really being used for that purpose. You could make some associated command line tools that are equivalent to 'ls' that allow splitting/slicing the files down different parameters.

Take a look at hdf5.

Thanks, I'll take a look, but it seems like I'd have to change the format of the files, right? Unfortunately that's not really feasible, since their format is determined by the scientific codes I use -- that's why I was attracted to the idea of using the file name. I can, however, have a go at HDF5 for code that I write myself.

You'd be interested in the Be File System (from BeOS / Haiku) for inspiration:


It has support for database-like extended file attributes, which can be custom attributes!

For example, a `person` file would have all of the normal fields you'd expect from an address book as file attributes: http://www.birdhouse.org/beos/byte/24-scripting_the_bfs/ https://www.haiku-os.org/docs/userguide/en/attributes.html

Technical: http://www.letterp.com/~dbg/practical-file-system-design.pdf

Though you seem to be against specific file systems due to non-portability and that is understandable.

I love this idea. I rely too much on custom file naming conventions, and I always end up ditching applications for managing file metadata (for example Calibre for ebooks or several others for photos and music) because using `find` covers most of the use cases and organizing the metadata takes much time.

MetaData is already built-in to most modern file systems. On OSX (HFS Plus) you have the xattr command, and there are things for ext2, ext3, XFS, ReiserFS...

Sure, but it’s neither portable across platforms, nor user friendly (for non-techies).

Imagine managing a collection of photos (or a mixed collection of multiple file formats, like scans of receipts, and pdfs with invoices) in something like Dropbox: no access to hidden low-level metadata blocks, etc., let alone easy editing. Not to speak of cross-platform support.

File names are always visible and editable, and they’re easily parsable.

I discussed such objections here: https://gist.github.com/rhythmus/11118629#problem-metadata-p...

+1 to this idea. Organizing photos, I would like to impart date taken, location, and context (e.g., 2014-04-29; San Francisco, CA (or geolocation); "California trip"). And I'm sure other people would love other types of metadata associated with photos. And that's just image files... plenty of other metadata-needy situations (e.g., the receipts you mentioned; I have a similar problem too).

You can just put this in the EXIF data block of the image. File explorers like Windows Explorer show this meta data just like any other meta data about the file like file size.

Sell anything in a snap.

1. Find something you want to sell

2. Snap a picture (or a short video)

3. Tap "list for sale"

4. Let mechanical turk + computer vision identify the object

5. Let the system pick a value (based on sales history, location, demand)

6. Contact the seller when a serious buyer made a deposit

7. Proceed to demo + sale

I shouldn't have to write down any spec when selling something as ubiquitous as an Xbox 360. I shouldn't have to go through 100 different ways to describe an iPhone 4S when looking to buy one.

Delegating item identification to a third party is how you reduce the friction of listing items for sale and improve semantics.

And to think that this system only applies to selling items is naive. The possibilities are endless.

This is precisely what a company called Sold used to do before their acquisition:


It's an interesting system to build, though, and there is money to be made. The very first version of my startup was something that was pretty much the same system, but we focused on offloading liquidation inventory. Some things that you will likely discover along the path

1. If you use eBay as your dataset, you are pretty much SOL. Their lack of rigorous moderation in terms of their image style guide makes computer vision really, really difficult to carry out. Using SIFT image features from the same exact images, I only got about a ~75% accuracy because eBay users tend to slap all types of random extra things onto their images. I can't imagine you'd have much success trying to use CV for identifying (with sufficient accuracy) consumer electronics in consumer supplied photos. I can't speak for Mechanical Turk... We wound up modifying our tech strategy such that we didn't need high accuracy in identifying other listings.

2. Product versions dramatically alter product value, but are just about impossible to figure out without being explicitly provided that data by the person holding the product.

3. Unless you own your own sales channel, you will be beholden to the marketplaces to offload the inventory in. In my case, we automated the process of selling on both eBay and Amazon. We were reading in data from multiple wholesalers (dropshippers), which had catalogs full of an arbitrary assortment of products... Which means we wound up listing weapons, sexual objects, etc. We got dinged pretty bad by eBay for these things (though, turns out batons sell really well on eBay). Eventually we pretty much got banned from both marketplaces for listing violations + bad fulfillment speed. We couldn't control the shipping speed of our dropshippers (we had no bargaining power), which I attribute to killing that section of the business.

As somebody who actually built the same system that you're describing (sans being an open marketplace, which actually makes it more difficult), I can say that you're in for a rough fight. Pretty epic watching an ebay store run itself, though...

Already done:



I didn't get much interest so I didn't bother building it :)

I built a prototype too: thingsy.co

It finds all the pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #forsale, post them on Craigslist, and contact the seller through Instagram when a buyer emails the Craigslist contact info.

Craigslist killed it.

there is a lot of activity in this sector right now, including some VC funded startups, the approach they are taking is to grab instagram #forsale pics then post it on their own storefront site

Really? Do you have any example?

Cool thanks!

It is a nice idea, but in your two simple cases the photo would be of a "ubiquitous" Xbox 360 and a iPhone 4S. But it could be of an iPhone 4 and in the case of the Xbox the date of manufacture really matters. The older model that _will_ one day die on the owner are worth less. And then there isn't any mention of how much space you have on them. But above all a photo might not indicate if the device actually works...

Would you be mad if your barely used unlocked 64GB iPhone 4S was sold as a non-working locked 8GB iPhone 4 and they send you a check for $10?

Most people don't know much details about things they own. They don't know the model of their router, they don't know the CPU in their laptop, they don't know the version number of their phone OS. What do they do? They usually turn the thing upside down (or go to the "device info" section) and find the data there. Snapping a picture or the sticker on your fridge/dvd/lawnmower is probably quicker than writing it by hand.

If the user can see these informations, he can take a picture of it. If he can't, well most people probably wouldn't know either.

Also, nothing stops you from taking a short video of the item and saying additional information out loud.

I love this idea because I think this is a huge win-win for both buyers, sellers, and efficiency (more stuff gets used, less gets tossed).

As the comments have pointed out the difficulty is accurately identifying items.

With used books you don't have that problem because every book has an ISBN number so you can easily identify any book. That's enabled a robust used book market.

So maybe the business isn't the end product, maybe the business is an intermediate step, the equivalent to ISBN numbers for everything.

The business I'm thinking of is QR tags for everything. The QR code allows the owner to simply scan the QR code when they want to sell their stuff.

You'd have to work with OEMs. The pitch to the OEMs is that a QR code that allows the item to be identified and easily resold enhances the resale value, thus enhancing the initial value of the item.

Yes. I quickly realised that the business is indeed the item identification mechanism. I used to call the idea "Facebook for Things", where everything has a profile.

Part of the idea was to identify stuff, and then send people a QR code so that they could refer to physical item with a simple scan.

Want to find someone that can repair that particular guitar? Scan it, pick "Find repairman" (or any other contextual action), and you're set.

Insurance backlog, selling, lending, sharing, hands-on trial (before buying online), lost & found, quick review, ownership history, package tracking, user's manual, community hacks and mods, 3D print a case/accessory, buy related accessories, brag, home automation, etc. Once you can refer to a specific item precisely (knowing everything about it), the sky's the limit.

I looked at existing barcodes you can find on some items, but they're rather limited. Recognizing games, music, movies and books is easy. But that's quickly becoming all digital.

I like the idea, but would love to see it taken a couple steps further. To me, the biggest issue with selling things online is dealing with the people who are interested in purchasing them. I have had less than stellar experiences with both eBay and Craigslist. I would love something like an expanded Gazelle that was not just electronics. Perhaps even with physical locations for things like furniture, exercise equipment etc. The company could then either sell on consignment, charge storage, or more riskily buy and try to sell at a higher price point. I have a spare bedroom filled with crap I would love to be rid of but dread dealing with.

I too have had less than stellar experiences on both eBay and Craigslist. The last time I tried selling on Craigslist I listed a brand new lamp, unopened in box. I included all the manufacturer's pictures and details (dimensions, weight, ect...). I received an email the next day from a lady interesting in purchasing it. She asked if we could make the exchange in a Walmart parking lot (in retrospect, that should have a warning sign). 5 minutes after the agreed upon meeting time I received a text that she was running late but would be there any minute. 15 minutes later she arrived and instead of apologizing for wasting my time by running late she insisted on opening the box before purchasing it. I refused since I was worried this would lower the value if she chose not to purchase it. She was being stubborn though so I eventually acquiesced. At this point I really just wanted to offload the lamp and go home. Upon inspection she said that she was sorry but wouldn't be buying it because it was smaller than she thought it would be, never mind the fact that I included the dimensions in the listing. As I was about to drive away, she offered me half of the agreed upon price. Why she suddenly wanted it again despite it being too small I'll never know as I immediately sped away.

Like you, I have a lot of stuff I'd like to sell. What I want: a company to send me pre-labeled and pre-paid shipping containers that I then fill with my stuff and leave on my front porch (safe, rural neighborhood) to be picked up. Every week or so they pay me until everything is sold - minus a commission so that our interests are aligned to get as much as possible for each item. I can't seem to find a service that makes it that easy though.

Oh, and that lamp? Amusingly, I took the lamp back to Home Depot where I had bought it new 3 years earlier. I had no receipt and I told them honestly how long ago it was originally purchased. None the less they offered me a full store credit. The catch was that they no longer carried that brand of lamp and hadn't for over 2 years. In fact, it had been so long since they last sold the lamp that they didn't have pricing information on it in their database. Since they couldn't determine how much I paid, they instead gave me store credit equal to that of a lamp they currently had in stock that we agreed was comparable. I was so impressed by their generous return policy that I promised to one day spread the word of how awesome they are.

sounds similar to offerup (http://www.offerupnow.com)

there is a startup doing this and launching soon, can't track down the link of their site right now

Web filter. I love F1 and there is a race today, so I can't look at 99% of the internet as they will show the result. I will watch the race later when the kids have gone to bed.

This problem is so big that i have to avoid facebook becaue they also show trending news.

So a filter that filters F1 or any selectable sports news. Then when i turn it off after watching the race the filter shows me a list of what news it found and filtered for me.

Added extra, while i'm watching the race it could show me tweets in real time, but back shifted so as to make sense with the race.

My football loving buddie also agrees he'd pay for this filter.

I have exactly the same dilemma (but because I download the coverage from back home in the UK rather than suffer the terrible American coverage).

I thought about building a proxy but simple name-blocking is too broad given names like "Button", and some headlines don't contain other easily matched patterns like "grand prix". EG "Button wins thrilling battle" or "Williams duo take epic one-two"

Is our coverage really that bad? Afaik we all watch the same feed so I guess it's down to commentary? I like Hobbs, cool old racer. Will Buxton on the other hand...

I don't have HBO, so filtering all Game of Thrones references every Sunday and Monday would be fantastic.

Not sure I'd pay for that service since it's probably easier to just pay for HBO and watch it "live" like everyone else.

I thought the same thing, but unfortunately a lot of spoilers come in the form of images. Or maybe fortunately, since it adds an interesting layer of complexity to this idea.


Sometimes, I wonder if there really are cats and dogs messing around with computers...

I feel your pain. I try to watch the race live when I can but waking up at 3 AM is not going to happen even then I fell asleep with 5 to go last night. Might be a way for governments to monetize their net nanny infrastructure, provide "FAAS" an IIB (Ignorance is Bliss) Filter as a Service. In your specific case it might work well to declare Sunday a tech free day during F1 season, no spoilers and more time for the kids.

I suppose a Chrome/firefox plugin can take care of the text. Just hide any text that might seem relevant to the filter. But yeah, as someone said, the problem will be in pictures. Also, it won't work 100%, as often, there is no direct spoiler but things that allude to something which you can then infer or guess. So how to apply the filter against those types of messages?

Interesting nonetheless. :)

I'm working on this right now - see http://myproxy.bloko.me:1337/#url=http%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.... for a quick demo. It's kind of janky at the moment, but it's improving fast.

BTW, I just switched things over to port 80, so that link is now http://myproxy.bloko.me/#url=http%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2...

> Added extra, while i'm watching the race it could show me tweets in real time, but back shifted so as to make sense with the race.

I wrote that years ago, and I read last year that a kid had won a hackathon with this. I think some of the TV apps do this?

I never updated the code for the new Twitter API, could fish it out but it wasn't that hard to write really.

Can you do this with a simple squid reverse proxy into which you simply add in the names of the 22 drivers, then set a cron job so that the reverse proxy only runs with the f1 deny list on race weekends? Sure the results won't affect the radio/tv but it just might work for f1.

That sounds like the job for a GreaseMonkey script :)

Unlike "Who is hiring?" posts, which are ephemeral, "Idea Sunday" posts continue being useful for a long time. Therefore, consider posting a link at the end of each one allowing readers to jump to the previous one.

A bit lame maybe but here it goes:

The "Ready for Battle alarm clock". An alarm clock that wakes you up with your favourite quotes from video games or movies such as:

- Rise and shine, Mister Freeman. Rise and... shine. Not that I... wish to imply you have been sleeping on the job. No one is more deserving of a rest, and all the effort in the world would have gone to waste until... well, let's just say your hour has... come again. (or part of this one).

- It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and I'm all outta gum

This idea would work best when you always wear your Google Glass like device. Then the audio can be combined with a nice visual of for instance the G-Man.

For now, without the glass integration, it's easy to do make this with your own phone. A nice service could be to personalize the message, i.e. "Wake up Mr. Bootvis...".

The big problem here is that just copying these audio samples isn't allowed and so it will be hard to build a company out of this.

The right man at the wrong place makes all the difference!! ;)

that would be cool, but wearing glasses while sleeping is not recommended.

Contacts and cochlear implants.

Contacts are worse (..other than the ones you can sleep in). Seriously though, sleeping with your alarm clock makes it too easy to snooze anyway - we should just project the image and go hologram later. :)

micro-projector to cast the image on your ceiling

I've been sitting on this gem for a while. I present to you: The Bruce Wayne Gap Year.

Wealthy people with desires to become Batman can more-or-less do so.

First they sign a waiver and an NDA, removing any liability from the Bruce Wayne Gap Year company. Then they'll pay the company tens of thousands of dollars to pay for what is to come.

They'll be put into a real criminal gang [1], and taken around the world getting involved in all sorts of illegal [2] activities.

Sooner or later they'll be subtly led to the Himalayas, where they'll join a monastery, lead a simple life of celibacy and minimalism and slowly learn to meditate and fully understand themselves and their body.

After a while, they'll be groomed by a man [3] claiming to be working for a mysterious and powerful leader of a guild of assassins, and taught all kinds of martial arts over months and months, culminating in a complex battle which determines their eligibility. At that point, they will be asked to do something their morals will not allow (this will be determined in a psychological screening), and end up betraying and destroying [4] the guild.

Then they return home, better for the experience.

It can't fail. A friend of mine also suggested it be re-implemented for all sorts of action hero/film type situations. James Bond, Die Hard, Rambo, etc. It's essentially a very expensive, realistic roleplaying experience.

[1]: Actually, very highly paid and well-trained actors. We don't tell them that though.

[2]: Mostly not illegal, but they're made to believe that these things are illegal. Some things will be borderline (they may accidentally end up threatening people who are not part of the ruse, for example), hence the NDA.

[3]: Also an actor. A very good, very well paid actor. Possibly we'll just get Liam Neeson, and he'll act so well that he'll convince them that he's not Liam Neeson.

[4]: Not really. The martial artists will never be allowed to be worse than the client, and will also be stunt-trained and capable of faking death.

You also basically described the movie The Game (with Michael Douglas). If you haven't seen it I suggest you check it out.

I always thought this was a cool idea. I'd imagine this couldn't effectively be done for less than a couple hundred thousand considering the number of people who would have to be working on this full time.

Great movie recommendation, thanks!

As for the full-time-ness? Yeah, totally. I think there's something to be said for big, serious roleplaying games which effectively can take up your entire life for a certain amount of time, and I think a lot of people would do it.

In some scenarios, it could be cheaper to do since you could involve multiple people in the same experience.

Reminds me of The Game movie [1]. Try not to read any spoilers if you haven't seen it yet.

[1]: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119174/

Wealthy people who are in a physical condition to do this, don't have time.

Wealthy people who have time, don't have health.

And those who have both, won't even talk to you.

Mainly because they are already Batman.

Could this be built on top of current virtual reality hardware/software?

Edit: I have a friend who made LOADS of money filming couples who wanted to do their own version of adult movies. So I am sure there is a market for something like this.

This has potential , especially if you do it with the Matrix .

Good idea. The Matrix is definitely on the list of available experiences.

EDIT: If you take the red pill, you get to live Neo's life when he was still Thomas Anderson, go to his job and do all the stuff he would do. It'd be hilariously boring.

I think you mean the blue pill? If I remember correctly, the blue pill was the return to normal while the red pill was the "trace program"

Yep, right you are. I looked it up on Google and read the summary, and I guess I must've mis-read it. When I went to the Wikipedia page [0] it in fact says:

The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix, therefore living the "illusion of ignorance", while the red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the real world, therefore living the "truth of reality".

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

Airbnb, but paid with labor.

Many travelers are short on cash but would love to trade services for a night's stay. Me, I would be happy to host a guest for free provided they did my dishes or laundry.

Many homeowners, especially empty-nesters, have homes with plenty of space that they still have to maintain. This would provide benefits to both parties.

hm, this could have some legal / human rights issues potentially.

So does Airbnb...

afaik, airbnb requests that the travelers pay using fiat money, not labor.

This sounds a lot like a home/urban oriented WWOFing (http://www.wwoof.net/) and a bit like CouchSurfing.

so a mix between couchsurfing.org and airbnb.com?

Here's what I want: A cheap text ssh terminal with wifi,or cellular, nice keyboard hardware, with extremely long battery life (or solar powered), which i can just throw it in my car and forget it. Whenever I am away of my computer I can always log in to my cloud server and write codes or do some quick fixes.

This should be possible with a Kindle. The basic Kindle costs $50 or so. And it is a fork of Android. And has a month of battery life. There are some Kindle-roots [Search "root a kindle"]. Would something like this work for you? The keyboard will still be the kindle-keyboard.

The other option is a cheap ipad with a bluetooth keyboard. If you turn off all the unnecessary apps and notifications and put it on airplane mode - it should last a couple of weeks. You turn it on only when you need it. You will still need to get an ssh app [many available].

The basic Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite don't use Android. It's only the higher end models like Kindle Fire that use the Android fork.

At least one developer dumped his MacBook and switched to an iPad + Linode server for at least a year:


I have been wondering if Chromebooks could be useful for this purpose...

Could you use a (smart) phone?

Most modern smartphones do not hace physical keyboard, and my Kindle has spoiled me to think that anything less than a month is not “long battery life”.

That's my dream.

There's a lot of parallel conversations on Reddit / HN / etc. for various articles.

Would about pulling high rated, top-level conversations from multiple sources for a quick digest? Sort of like Google News for commentary.

As someone who often appreciates the comments as much or more than the content - yes! I often come across articles in places other than Reddit or HN and wish I could do a "reverse lookup" to see where it might have been submitted just so I can read the comments.

There's a Chrome add-on which uses the Algolia API to do this. It adds a pop-out side bar showing the HN comments for the page/article you're currently reading. You must be on the page submitted, rather than on a comments page, though.

Sometimes I'll follow a Google News link to a good article, then hit "Back" and look forward to reading the reddit/HN comments only to realize I was led there by Google News and there are no comments.

Idea: Tree of knowledge

Ever been interested in a topic that once you google you end up with explanations(quite often on wikipedia) that rely on foundational knowledge you didn't even know you should have? And then you started working your way back by googling things you didn't know until you hit something you do know and from that point you try to inch your way forward to the original topic just to get discouraged a few hours in? I know I have and it's a pain!

A well built knowledge map that would graph the relationships between different topics in a field would help alleviate this problem. Take for example linear algebra. You've heard about this fancy thing called singular value decomposition but barely know what a matrix is. You type SVD into a search box, and it generates a breadth first tree with all the topics you need to know to be able to understand SVD up to a certain depth. And then you just work from the leafs that you do understand up to the topic you are interested. This saves hours or sometimes days of just trying to understand the ordering in which you should be learning things. It essentially builds a curriculum for the user on the fly for a topic they are interested.

I would propose this as a community wiki so knowledge maps could be crowdsourced and curated as they would be time consuming and difficult to build for a single person. Would also suggest adding the ability to let users create accounts and mark off topics they feel confident they know.

Potential problems: The two big problems with this idea are 1) generating a proper knowledge map: There will be ambiguities in the edges and even the nodes of a map. Sometimes (often) you will need to be clever how you organize the information. For example, your have a dependency listing like: Matrix <- Rotation Matrix, but in reality it might be better to have something like Matrix <- Linear Transform <- Rotation Matrix. Linear transforms would act as an intermediary node for rotation, scaling, shearing, w/e.

2) a topics can be studied in different frameworks: E.g. linear algebra can be studied with or without using vector spaces. Once again, deciding how to create the knowledge graph will be difficult.

Solution: Have multiple types of edges. You can have edges to signify hard dependencies, soft dependencies, generalizations, and extensions. Maybe other types of edges. You will still need to be clever, but having a way to signify the relationship between topics will help resolve the problem.

This (Metacademy) was just posted today: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7617683

Excited to see where it goes!

I think this is great. the biggest usability problem with Wikipedia for me is that I use it as a primer on a topic that I don't know about, but for some reason it is still stuck with the encyclopedia metaphor.

Academic subjects on Wikipedia are close to useless, if your goal is to actually gain a comprehensive knowledge of the subject.

I experimented with something along these lines by attempting to build a threaded layout between sites based on outbound links, hoping that (for blog posts and articles) this would tend to generate a nice set of references back to original sources, etc.

The result (http://precis.gopagoda.com/url/https://news.ycombinator.com/...) still doesn't entirely work right, partly because my implementation is still pretty poor and because I could see how flawed the premise was after I actually tried it - if you try it you'll find a lot of 'threads' wind up at spam links or twitter and facebook inside of a couple of levels.

Still, I think this is a problem worth solving. Good luck with it.

Metacademy ( http://www.metacademy.org/ ) is exactly what you described. The website gives a concept map and each concept has links to free educational resources. Here's the concept map for SVD: http://www.metacademy.org/graphs/concepts/singular_value_dec...

You can read a bit about the ideas behind Metacademy here: http://hunch.net/?p=2714

Take a look at a recent project of mine, which begins to implement this idea. The approach uses Wikipedia to help find 'related' and 'prerequisite' concepts for generating a curriculum.

I wrote a quick article about it, here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7511837 https://medium.com/p/b45429ef49e4

...And the supporting code: https://github.com/pjama/wikigraph

You mean something like this


but for all knowledge?

Yes, but as a wiki and with the additional edge information + breadth first listing as I mentioned. It doesn't have to be as finely split up as this one but maybe it should.

I have to say I'm really impressed by their progress since the last time I checked their knowledge map (~2 years ago).

Had this very probably on Friday - wanted to learn more about what was new with the SpaceX launch and ended up spending a couple hours on Wikipedia.

You reminded me of something that does exactly this for machine learning. I posted it on the front page of HN (Metacademy).

I'm working on a project called Pointers (ptrs.io) that is exactly this.

FYI I'm getting an SSL error on that domain using Chrome 34.0.1847.116 on Mac OS X 10.9.2

(the site's not up yet)

A kind of task rabbit that will connect expats ( who don't speak the language) with locals. The idea is that the local will help the expat in small tasks like understanding an insurance policy, housing contract, employment receipt.

Sounds interesting!

But would the company be able to build brand? First, to find expats would be somewhat difficult as they tend to blend in! Second, the company would need to be careful which people they hired, so they might be able to start at the top end of the market (high rates, high quality service) and work down from there...

That gives me the idea that it could start from an already existing service-oriented company, whether that's landscaping, security, legal services, accounting, etc. and they could just add translation and a more taskrabbit-like approach (phone app, etc.)

Yea you got a point. However, I think you should pay a small fee, let's say 10 euros for the help. I used to live in the netherlands and it happened to me many times that I didnt understand contracts, bills, etc and I got tired to ask friends/coworkers to help me with that. I would pay a small fee to have an external part to do it. I think it would work better targetting high skilled expats in European cities with lot of them where the native language is not English like Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin.

== Dying Skills, Lost Tech ==

I knew a chap who could roof a home with Cotswold stone. He knew how the stone was quarried (but he didn't do that bit) and how it was made into roof tiles (but he didn't do that bit very often) and he knew how to roof a house using those tiles. There are not that many people who can do that anymore.

There's a meme about the NASA Saturn V rockets that says we've lost the paperwork and thus re-making them would be cery hard, and could involve rediscovering technology.

The Domesday project is sometimes used as an example of digital obselesance http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Domesday_Project

And here's an example of someone looking for Cray software and code and documentation https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3464546

So, this would be a site that interviews people (using crowdsourced interviews) to glean information about how they do or did things, and why, with video if possible of them demonstrating the techniques and equipment and methods.

This would be a teeny bit like the Endangered Language Project. http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/about/

There would need to be some way to control for truth and accuracy[1] and also some suggestions for what is a good interview.

[1] my dad used to tell quite a few lies. One of these (well, one set) was about his diabetes diagnosis and treatment. He claimed he had been diagnosed as a child while still at school, and that he had to sharpen his syringe on the stone floor. Utter cobblers, but somehow it found its way to an academic site. I sent them a polite email and they made their disclaimers about uncorroborated etc a bit clearer.

This sounds similar to the BBC Mastercrafts series:


It came highly recommended to me, and the six episodes are sitting on my disk, but I haven't gotten around to watching any yet.

A system to compose and track drug/supplement stacks, regimen and diets.

Transforming yourself has never been more accessible than it is today. We have access to so much information and so many resources that there's rarely any valid excuse not to become what you want to be. The problem is that the whole process can be overwhelming, and finding what works for you requires discipline and dedication. Most results don't happen overnight, and the only way to get through months of imperceptible progress is to have a clear plan, track everything, and learn from others.

I've seen all kinds of people in all kinds of context attempting to share some regimen with others. You will find that on Oprah, in books, at the gym, at your doctors, on forums, etc. That's all fine, but why do they still have to write down the name of the product, the brand, the posology, the side-effects, their interactions, everything by hand? Wouldn't it be easier for them to write them down with a tool that understands what the regimen means, and easier for us to add them to our own regimen in a single click?

Once the system understands what I (and others) want to achieve, how I progress and exactly what I do to reach it, only good things can come out of it. It can learn (machine learning, correlation finding), it can recommend tweaks, it can help me acquire products, it can reward me, etc.

How hard is it to set-up a database of all drugs/supplements/vitamins, and let people semantically fill the why, what, when and how?

I don't think there's a lack of niches either:

- Bodybuilding

- Cognitive enhancement (nootropics)

- Weight loss

- Hair loss

- Skin care

- Allergies

- Acne

- Long distance running

- Diets (vegan, paleo)

- Chronic disease

- Life extension

I've been looking into a very similar idea. There's a fair amount of prior art in this area, but I feel that no one has nailed it by including the right level of data sharing and practitioner motivation in a way that lets the ecosystem learn from experimentation and improve while not running afoul of HIPPA. If you're interested in exploring the idea more lets connect : http://www.linkedin.com/in/loganhenriquez/

I'm responsible for purchasing our computer equipment for our startup. Every time I make a purchase on our company (@MakeSpace) credit card, I have to remember to send an email to our accountants (record the purchase as an asset, depreciation for taxes, etc).

More importantly, it's hard to keep track of what equipment was given to each employee. I imagine at a larger company this would be handled by an IT department, but sub 50 people I'm doing this on a spreadsheet myself. Would love a simple web app to record serial # of machine, receipt (that I could upload PDF), date purchased, employee, etc.

Happily would pay monthly SaaS. Please message me if anyone knows of this type of product. I'd happily be your first customer if you want to build it.

edit: Happy Easter!

At Silk, we dogfood our own product for this purpose, as part of our internal knowledge base site. Here's a step-by-step for setting it up:

Register for an account.

Follow the little tutorial balloons to create your first collection: "Employees." Create some basic employee pages.

Create another collection, "Equipment," with pages named after serial numbers, and add some facts: perhaps "Used By," "Purchase Date," and "Type."

This will probably take no more than a couple of minutes. What you get is a wiki-like site with permissions; an easy way to create and present charts, distributions, overviews, etc; and a newsfeed showing fact changes, like "Owner changed to X from Y."

Once you see how the product works, you can upload your existing data as CSV. You will need to upload existing receipts by hand, or use our API (we can help you with this).

Example queries that you can build trivially with the "explore" view, and then store on a page or embed:

- Equipment with "Used By" nonempty, grouped by memory amount

- Table of equipment with owner, price, date purchased

- Pie chart of equipment's memory size distribution

Check out https://www.silk.co/teams and write an email if you want some help setting it up. Or send me a message.

Someone can sell/make you a tool for that however you can also do it yourself with a simple Google Docs spreadsheet. Your accountant will understand it as will anyone else that has to maintain it. You get versioning built in so you can see who has changed what. Plus you can make it read only.

Regarding the receipts, have a folder and just give the receipts a simple date-supplier-what-for filename. You could probably paste the hyperlinks into your spreadsheet if you could be bothered. If you can't then they are easy enough to find.

"you can do it yourself with a simple Google Doc"

Isn't this how ZeroCater got started?

The features for this (act 2) make it very interesting. Imagine one slick sell to post to CL / Ebay.

I'd like it if the buyer could add a note to credit card purchases - that show up in the monthly bill. PO number is the most obvious thing to add. But for your typical customer you might also want to add "lunch with mom" or anything.

This is less about expense tracking than it is about actually keeping track of all the equipment we've purchased for our startup.

If you google "asset management software" you should have tons to choose from.

So, whats wrong with the spreadsheet?

First couple of results should do what you want: https://starthq.com/apps/search?q=assets

I'm not positive, but perhaps expensify would suit your needs?


More along the lines of an application that would do inventory management:


I've been googling but can't find anything

Most of the enterprise applications that do inventory management (Spiceworks, Altiris, etc.) have clients that run on your network that can poll the hardware for detailed specifics. They track the logged-on user, the serial number, the BIOS date, etc. Obviously some do this better than others (I have yet to see one that does networked printers, projectors, smart TVs, etc).

What would you pay for this service, annually? What are the features you would find most useful?

  Forward an email receipt to yourcompanyA87y5@trackmyreceipts.com and have it auto-create a purchase record
  Upload a PDF invoice or receipt
  Manually create a purchase
  Track purchase orders
  Enter serial numbers
  Track depreciation
  Produce reports of in-service equipment
  Enter a comment about deployed location (e.g. John Smith, or Board Room)
  Track service history?
Inventory management is a big topic. It sounds like you want a niche product, or that you perhaps need to look at some of the players in the space.

There's a clear gap in my mind between enterprise and SMB. I don't need the features of a Spiceworks (yet). Look at what Resumator did (big space but found the 'niche' to allow the CEO/COO to act like head of HR).

All the Features you mentioned, plus multi user access (for bookkeeper / accountants).

I'd pay $3-500 annually (maybe do something like $X per device > 5 devices).

Asset tracking software is probably more along the lines of what you're looking for.

Have any suggestions?

I could build this in Rails in like, a day.

please do! hit me up sam at makespace dot com. and i'd be the first to pay

[X-post from the previous Idea Sunday thread that didn't make it to the front page: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7616132]

Idea: Git-story, a website that generates summary narratives from git commit histories and other github data.

Here's a brain-dump with some ideas for the specifics:

Use foreshadowing: "It all started with one person, X, spending months to gradually build what would one day become Y, a project forked by hundreds and starred by thousands."

When someone makes their first contribution to a project give them a brief introduction, like a shorter version of http://osrc.dfm.io/

Use sentiment analysis on commit messages to say things like "Frustrations mount as...", "the developers rejoice after..."

When people work on multiple concurrent branches use use phrases like: Meanwhile, X and Y toil away on the new Z feature.

Use the time between commits to chunk them into single sentences/paragraphs. Also, add comments if the project goes dormant, or if there is a spike in development.

Use keywords in commit messages like merge, revert, resolve to generate events in the story.

When bugs are resolved look for linked issues and use the age of the bug and number of comments to say thinks like "X finally fixed the controversial Y bug"

Neat idea. It's a bit like that facebook auto-generated video, but for github.

Include a decent plugin architecture, and you could get lots of contributions to add in data from everyone's pet CI system, bugtracker, download counter, etc.

[actually, if you started with something like Rails, you could launch versions from old code, take screenshots, and stitch together a video]

Relevant xkcd http://xkcd.com/1296/

A tablet (iPad or Android) game which is designed to be used while exercising.

Use ANT or Bluetooth 4.0LE to tie into a treadmill, bike, or other exercise equipment to get output measurements (speed); ideally, find some devices which allow two way commands (not common at all right now).

Networked games against other people, or vs. computer or past personal performance. The interesting part is a "use while running" interface for the touchscreen, requiring inputs (using gross motor skills, not fine control) to do things in-game while retaining performance. Or maybe use audio output for instructions (i.e. "press the blue button, then the red, then the green" while keeping heart BPM above 130, and targets moving on screen.

Current “Idea Sunday” thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7616132 (14 points, 7 hours ago, 22 comments)

That (earlier) thread has now been killed.

I frequently wonder if there is a place on the planet I'd be happier in. The idea is a site that allows me to select a wide variety of attributes and then search for places in the world that match those attributes. For attributes that I only care about only generally, I'd be able to select from a broad category. For those that I care a lot about, I'd be able to drill in to highly granular selections.

For example, I may only care that: : Government = Democracy

But for climate, something a little more specific: : Climate : Rainfall < 200 cm : Climate : Snowfall = 0 cm

And then something really granular: : Sports & Leisure : Adventure Sports : Sky Diving < 50 km

Major categories might include: • Climate • Geography • Demographics • Government • Infrastructure • Security • Entertainment • Recreation • Culture • Education • Economy

It could be marketed as a branded plugin for company web sites in travel, real estate and jobs. They'd pay for clicks and then use the results to market their services.

I've found sites that offer this, but none have been quite what I wanted. One requires you to enter the locations you think you'd like and then helps you decide. Another was pretty close, but only covered the USA.

> One requires you to enter the locations you think you'd like and then helps you decide.

That's because after accounting for the number of places and the parameters, doing this efficiently is almost impossible (kinda like NP).

I would like the same service for jobs I might enjoy.

They have this. It's called 'any job search engine out there'. They all let you put in these search parameters to get back jobs that meet your criteria.

I would love this, too.

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