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Ask HN: Idea Sunday
219 points by jw2013 on May 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 199 comments
Kick start the first Idea Sunday of May.

(PLEASE upvote if you like this post to be seen by more people, as someone in the previous Idea Sunday mentioned the post with less points than number of comments will be penalized in ranking. Thanks.)

Ok, when people start racing to post these at midnight, and beg for upvotes, this experiment has jumped the shark. I'm going to bury this post and ask you all not to post more of them.

Only one account (whoishiring) is allowed to make regular feature posts that we don't kill as duplicates. (That's to prevent karma sweepstakes and race conditions.) Should we make this "Idea" thread a regular feature? I've thought about it. I think the answer is no.

Experiments are worth trying, but this one has gone on for a month now and I don't think it has cleared the bar [1]. Having all these ideas in one place makes the whole less than the sum of its parts. The threads seem to have gotten less interesting as they've become more regular.

I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who disagree. But our job is to optimize HN for quality and I don't think the quality is high enough here. Ideas are better in the wild. Let's discuss them as they come up organically, rather than try to organize an idea-fest.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7682938

I agree about the frustration of having multiple threads posted by different people. These threads should be killed.

A once per month thread would be useful to me. Would it be possible to accommodate that?

It seems to me that the ability to merge threads (either automatically or through moderator action) would benefit this, and the problem of multiple posts on the same subject in general.

Although I don't agree with seeing popular, user generated content as a negative, but it's not my sandbox. I think it's at least better than yet another Techcrunch post or ceaseless bickering about class warfare and internecine SV politics.

Also, perhaps these threads should automatically expire weekly.

I'm not adamantly opposed to it, but it seems rote to me. As I've tried to explain, if there isn't a clear 'yes' then the default answer should be 'no'.

I wonder if there's a different path to getting the valuable part of it? It seems to me that instead of rushing to embalm experiments as regular features, we should just do more experiments.

I'd like to see it once a month. Half-baked (and better) ideas getting submitted piecemeal just don't get traction alone.

Perhaps you can just have self-posts with "Idea Sunday" in the title not contribute any karma to the submitter?

A search engine for the legal system. I had sent this idea to YC 2013 and they asked me to submit a video, but I felt I don't have the creds to apply.

Take each section of a country's law and convert it into prolog clauses. Queries can then be run on the legal engine. For defendants it gives you insights on how to build a case and for prosecution it identifies relevant sections and evidence that needs to be provided to have a successful conviction.

The same can be applied to divorce, patents, property etc.

My idea was to use an Erlang map reduce system to help fan out the queries which are dispatched to an underlying Prolog knowledge base (Erlang supports something like Channels/Ports).

I have a bias towards ideas which have a social impact.

The business case is: In a country like India there are over 20 million pending cases in courts.

Imagine both sides of lawyers and the judge all having access to a system like this - cases could be resolved a lot faster and time spent building defense/prosecution would be a significantly smaller.

Implemented right, this could somewhat level the playing field and allow poorer people have access to some sort of legal advice, which today they would not be able to afford. Monetizing the system could be charging for queries as you probe deeper and deeper into the system/advertising for lawyers.

I think commoditizing law has immense potential and should have a very large business potential.

I always wanted to implement and Idea like this as Open Source, but here in India nobody would fund ideas like this. I'm putting it out there as I believe it's time has come.

I would be startled if existing legal code was sufficiently rigorously defined to be encoded into machine-readable forms. I really think it wouldn't work! Someone prove me wrong?

There already exists legal search engines. Notably to me is WestLawNext[0] which has a legal search engine, which I believe is sold to large legal firms. There also seems to be a direct competitor called LexisNexis.


I think this fits part of what you're talking about. In Brazil, there's Vade Mecum, a popular app (some Brazilian tech sites say it's one of the most downloaded local apps) allowing someone to take the law with them. It's searchable, and apparently popular because when a police officer or anyone annoying tries to get away with something illegal, one can just open the app and look up the law regarding whatever is being disputed.


Remember, in the third ("developing" they now say!) world, more often than not, factors like who you know, who just likes you, who you bribe, how you get through the bureaucracy -- are much more important than what the law theoretically says. I'm being euphemistic: a difference between developed and undeveloped countries can be seen in how much the letter or the spirit of the law actually matters.

Take Argentina, a case I know far too well. As INC magazine pointed out, the tax rate on businesses goes up to 108% of your profit. (< http://www.inc.com/magazine/201106/doing-business-in-argenti... >). How's that possible? Here's how: the government purposely passes endless contradictory laws thus ensuring you are always breaking the law, just to survive. (A business can't pay 108% of its money in taxes and still survive!). Therefore, you live in a state of somehow doing something illegal. The result? If the government doesn't like you, they find the illegal thing you're doing (that you have to do, just to survive, since the laws are contradictory and unreasonable, like that 108%), and then punish you for "breaking" the law.

Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games ;)

Conclusion: If you step into the third/developing world, the key isn't what the law actually says -- but _how sh*t gets done in practice_.

Lots of what lawyers and judges do involve interpreting and arguing for a certain interpretation of laws - eg, whether Aero is merely renting an antenna to individual consumers or performing a work publicly to all of them as a whole. Case law also sets all sorts of legal "tests" that involve human judgement (eg proportionate force in response, what a reasonable person would believe). How will your search engine deal with this?

I don't think the tool is meant to be exhaustive just assisting.

I think the base idea is very inspired, but I'd avoid prescribing a technical solution at the beginning and just propose different approaches. The general goal of giving lawyers a formula for inputting a case with a certain grammar and format and getting a useful output of laws and precedence seems amazingly useful.

So at this early stage, I am not talking about replacing lawyers. Their interpretation would still be required. However if there are 5 possible interpretations, the engine should present all 5 possibilities to the lawyer. This will help her prepare for the case better.

Take a look at Castext.com. Not only searchable, but also annotated so non-lawyers like myself have the benefit of someone explaining what it actually means.

An existing solution that solves some of the issues, like searching cases, you raised: Indian Kanoon [1]

[1] http://indiankanoon.org/

There was a company doing that in their first class. http://www.sonyalabs.com/ (not up anymore).

I've thought along similar lines, but with a slightly different intent: to refactor existing sets of law. I started off thinking about trying to improve & streamline the law, but eventually realized there might actually be a market as a analytical tool for lobbyists. In any case, trying to build a useful constraint system or search engine, etc. out of human-muddled laws sounds very messy and fun from a programmer's point of view. The actual legal aspects might be intractable, but I'll leave the naysaying to the lawyers. :)

YC S13: Casetext is similar

A/B testing for the masses.

Here's an example: Say a someone is deciding which shirt to wear. They whip out their smartphone, launch the A/B app, takes a picture of themselves wearing each of two shirts. Within 30 seconds, they have an answer of which shirt hundreds of people liked better. While they're waiting for the reply, they're prompted to rate other people's pictures. This is as simple as seeing two pictures and tapping the one that they like more.

The number of use cases is endless. You could be shopping for eyeglasses and trying to figure out which look better - just try on both right there in the store and get a response from the A/B app.

It's not limited to fashion, as people could use it for any subjective comparison.

This is actually pretty interesting. I think many people have thought of a product along these lines and, as mentioned by others, there have been several versions of this tried.

I think the key is in the constraints you have outlined.

Obviously it's a mobile app. You take two pics and post. You then vote on other's ABs. Every vote you make on someone else's AB earns you a vote on your own. If you want a bunch of opinions on your AB you keep voting on other's. You can post to your social networks to get your friend's opinions as well. Maybe it ties into the social APIs and reads comments to extract out votes for A or B. Maybe some viral growth potential there.

I like this. I might use actually use it. Wondering if it is important to be able to choose a target segment of voters for your own AB or if the classification of "human" is good enough in most cases.

I've thought about segmenting as well. For example, teenagers don't want to rate pictures of grandmothers all day -- they want to see people their own age. You could segment it by age and region for starters.

I mentioned this idea to a client some time ago, exactly like this. Each vote gives you a vote on your own pictures. It was not in the scope of the product but I do still like the idea.

There is a strong assumption here that you could encourage hundreds of people to express their opinion on this someone's shirts.

The value for the poster is clear; what is the value for the voter?

Every time someone uses the service, they spend 30 seconds rating other people's images. There can be a countdown (i.e. rate 10 more to see your results).

It would also be important to make it very fast. Cache all the images before the voter gets there, and send the results asynchronously so they don't need to wait. One could easily do a rating in less than a second. It's all snap judgements.

I'm just some guy, you know? But this sounds awesome to me. Maybe the trick, compared with Fashism (really?), which seems to have been about feedback on your Fashion more generally and pickfu which seems to address feedback more generally, the trick would be to really narrow it down.

To just an app for two photos, which is better, and let people make of it what they will. Would need decent facebook integration, so you can ask your friends, not just random strangers.

One of my friends started a website that mostly fits what you're describing: http://www.pickfu.com/

It does seem somewhat similar. However Pickfu is going for written feedback from a one (or a small number) of people, whereas the A/B testing idea would simply compare two photos and aggregate the results within seconds.

Pickfu also charges for their service, which I don't think would work for someone wanting to simply choose their wardrobe. It'd have to monetize in other ways (ads, or charging for getting gender/age breakdowns of the results, more results, allowing to compare more than 2 photos, etc.)

>within seconds

This is the part I don't understand. You would need to have a whole lot of scale and incentive for people to give their feedback this fast and often. Jelly can take a while to get a response, for instance.

Every time you upload your own photos, you are forced to rate other people's photos before you get your own response. This is the incentive.

Rating photos is very fast -- just look at two photos and tap one. All network lag can be eliminated by pre-caching the images. I'd bet the average rating speed is one per second (it's all snap judgements).

As long as the app has 30+ people using it at every moment of the day, you'll always get a response of at least 30 responses within 30 seconds. Plus I suspect people would enjoy voting and would spend time doing it even while not waiting on their own response, meaning you'd get more than you put in.

You don't want to force people to do anything, otherwise it skews the results. Force someone to vote for 30 seconds, or to vote 10 times, and they'll just sit there tapping the first picture until they reach their target. You'll get lots of votes, they'll just be useless.

I think you'd get enough votes if the app was in the right format. It would have to be like hot or not, where you have 2 photos, pick one, and instantly get another 2 photos along with the results from the first set. This gets people trapped in the just one more click mindset.

Focus it on fashion and clothing, people will vote to see more photos, to judge the outfits of others (a lot of people enjoy doing this for fun), and to get inspiration for themselves.

Also, allow users to select what gender and age groups can vote on their photo.

they'll just sit there tapping the first picture until they reach their target. You'll get lots of votes, they'll just be useless.

Some people would do this, but as long as you randomize the order of the pictures their data won't alter the winner since each image would get an even number of bad votes.

You can also detect when people are doing this and start throwing out their votes, or just don't even prompt them to vote and show them ads instead. I'm pretty sure this would be a minority, since most people would understand that they want to get real results for their own photos, so they need to give real votes to other photos.

You could offset the "tap the first picture" effect by e.g. randomizing the order the pictures are shown, weighting the votes of serial "top clickers" less, etc.

Then you're just applying random votes, instead of actual votes.

For example, something that should be 15-2 votes, ends up being 95-82. You'll be applying a large number of votes to both sides, and pushing everything towards a 50/50 rating. This doesn't help anyone, the goal is A/B testing, and you're making it more difficult to get accurate data. 15-2 shows a lot of promise for A, but then you add 80 random votes to both sides, and 95-82 seems like a tie.

Well, I didn't really outline a specific approach, I was just trying to suggest that there are techniques you could apply to the data after collection to solve the problem without modifying the fundamental premise of the app. For example if you "weighted the votes of the serial top clickers less" in addition to randomizing the order of the pictures shown, then when all of your serial top clicker votes count as 0.1 instead of 1 then suddenly your 95-82 might move closer to the 15-2 and leave you with something like 25-12 which isn't as clear as 15-2 but is clearly significant.

Instead of showing the user 95-82, or 25-12 you tell the user "others prefered shirt A 2-to-1 or shirt b 66% to 33% or whatever might be appropriate.

Anyway, again, I'n not suggesting any particular techniques are the right ones, just that there (almost certainly) viable techniques available to mitigate the problem.

For example, something that should be 15-2 votes, ends up being 95-82.

It's all in the presentation. If you just highlight one image and stamp "WINNER" next to it, most people won't even look at the numbers. Crowning a winner is more important than being scientifically accurate.

>Then you're just applying random votes, instead of actual votes.

I suppose the question then becomes: will the end user notice or care if the votes are random? Do the votes need to come from humans at all?

There was a startup that followed your example called Fashism. (yes, really)

It received venture capital, but died a painful death.


Interesting. Sounds like it does share some ideas, but with a different goal. This blurb says it was trying to get people to complete for a spot on a leaderboard, whereas A/B testing is about helping people make every-day decisions.

I think the leaderboard was the original idea, but then they later pivoted.


That's closer! But the devil is in the details. They have you looking at one image, reading the question, and rating up/down and even commenting. In the image, they have a full body shot, with simply "Does this work?" Does what work? The glasses, the shoes, the dress?

This takes a lot more effort than simply tapping one of two photos without reading anything. A/B responses can be given in less than a second. It's all snap judgements -- no reading is necessary.

Disturbing naming ethos. Not even Demi Moore charming backing them up could stand that.

Suddenly... #HopeInHumanityRestored

It's limited to pictures of people, but MyBestFace sounds like what you're describing. https://www.okcupid.com/mybestface

You're right, the methodology is similar, just for different goals. That one is trying to figure out which picture to use for your profile, whereas this app is trying to help you in making every-day decisions such as what to wear or what to buy. A key element is the response time -- I'm not sure how fast this service gets you an answer but I'm assuming it's not within seconds.

Well, their slow response time is presumably because that's the best they can do.... how would you improve on it?

The idea as I presented it would require a certain amount of traction to get started. It only would take about a second to look at two photos and tap one, so assuming 30+ people are using it at any given moment, you could get 30 votes within 30 seconds.

Mybestface uses a really small number of responses.

I'd pay to use something that gave me a sample of 500 or 1000 responses.

There (was) an app for that. They were around for a few years based out of NYC but it looks like they didn't get much traction.


This sounds a lot like what http://thumb.it/ does. It works pretty well actually and the responses are within a couple minutes

It does sound similar. Just from watching the video, it looks like thumb.it just has up/down votes on one image, with optional additional feedback.

The advantage of having two images is the voter doesn't even need to read a description or know what part of the image they're supposed to up/down vote. They should be able to easily see the difference between the two and just make a snap decision in less than a second. Not having to read text makes it more fun, I would think, and also provides a lot more results for the picture-taker.

What happens if both of them are told they are bad? (or you are just not very attractive)

Voters just select which picture is better, so the only thing being tested is the difference between the two photos.

Eating two turds is worse than eating one turd. I'd rather not eat any turds at all.

A service that sits between my bank account and subscription services that only accepts charges that I've preapproved.

This would let me keep track of the services that I have so I don't end up with subscriptions to sites or services that I've forgotten about. It would also let me revoke permission to charge the account at any time. No need to cancel a card if one won't cancel or changes the fees--you just revoke their permission individually.

Bank of America has this - it's called shopsafe. You create temporary credit cards with fixed spending limits. You can cancel a individual number at any time.

That's awesome. I wish Chase had that.

A gym I was part of required me to send my plastic barcode / keyfab to a PO Box in order to cancel my subscription. Kind of ridiculous. I'm pretty sure they'd continually charge me and send me to collections if the charges just got denied. Something to think about - canceling contractual subscriptions may require more than just a failed credit card.

There are two different things - contract cancellation and access to your account. They can be changed independently, and should be. Subscription contract usually does not transfer ownership, so you still own your account and should be able to deny its usage to anyone. It could be breach of contract but then they could use collections, courts, etc. to resolve it - that's different business.

Direct Debit in the UK does this. You can cancel any instruction at any time, usually through your online banking where all instructions and charges are listed.

It is widespread and the norm for subscriptions.

In Israel, the same arrangement exists. I was very surprised when I learned that in the US you give to the company your account number and they basically can initiate money pulls any time they like and the bank does not have a list where you say who is approved and who is not. That seems to be kind of backwards and insecure. I know there are probably ample reasons for that but I'd feel much better if it was arranged like that. Paypal and Amazon Payments and other systems like this provide partial solutions but why banks wouldn't do that? Looks like something that belongs there.

Same here in Portugal. And we also have free virtual CCs with predefined limits.

Or sits between any charge, sends you alerts and genuinely manages fraud risk better than banks. Also provides community information on chargebacks. Basically, a service that works for the consumer rather than the companies paying the fees. Uses contextual advertising based on what you are buying.

Recently I found a service like that. I haven't tested it but they claim to mask cards- https://dnt.abine.com/#premiumreg

The features look nice, but they don't really say WHAT they do or how they do it. Could someone fill me in?

Zach here from Abine (we make the Masked Cards). If you use our browser extension you can make disposable credit cards for your transactions right from online checkout pages. The best way to use a Masked Card is to create it for the exact amount of the transaction once you know the total. Then when you use it, the card instantly becomes worthless. In this way it works like a gift card.

We also have iPhone and Android app's where you can create these Masked Cards in stores as you're about to check out. Cashiers just need to be willing to type in the 16 digit # and expiration, which they usually are fine with.

No clue. Just came across it a few days ago. Maybe they have a trial? Definitely an interesting space to be in.

BillGuard does something similar - it checks your online credit statement, and notifies you when a suspicious charge appears.

Up voted .. karma grab, yeah, but I was just looking for this.

I was looking for it too. I posted it so it would help others. Not necessarily for karma. :)

"please", a command-line interface for natural language commands. So, like Siri, but for your terminal. Ie:

  $ please push the changes i've made today to the master repo
  $ please archive this directory into foo.zip
  $ please clone the bootstrap repo from github
  $ please find any files under ~/ matching 'foo-*.txt' and containing 'bar'
Sure, all of these can be expressed using CLI tools we have today, but isn't it time we had an interface layer that abstracts away all of the fiddly switches and just did what we said?

It would offer a pluggable interface for extending its capability and vocabulary.

I'd wager that ANY person who actually uses CLI tools to do things does not want, nor need, to write full sentences to do these things. Everyone that uses CLI tools always says they do so because it is the fastest way possible to do X. That point becomes moot once you have to write sentences.

I don't know - I live in the terminal, and I definitively wouldn't use it for regular commands (sed, grep, tar, etc), but if it was smart enough, I could see myself using it for software that I rarely use and which has complicated options.

For example, I'd rather type

  please convert movie.avi to h264 at 720p with subtitles from movie.srt 
than having to read the man page of avconv each time.

Bonus points if it could print the translated command before running it - it'd double as a learning tool.

Or even if it'd only output the translate command line. Like a better apropos. A nice idea for sure.

That is an excellent idea! Make it cross platform, and able to install missing tools, combine it with speech to text and you would be able to talk to any device regardless of the software installed on the device.

    please open presentation X from my dropbox


Nice! Starred, and I'll check it out.

A service combining the flexibility and ease of use of a CMS site (Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc) with the speed and security of a static HTML site.

The CMS version would be a private site (not accessible by the general public) which is compiled into a static HTML site which is publicly accessible.

There should be a way to deal with formerly dynamic elements, such as contact/comment forms, site search, etc. (possibly using third party APIs)

There also should be a way to deal with updates to the CMS version of the site, so that these changes are detected, compiled and processed into the static version of the site.

This might also be similar to what you're looking for? http://jekyllrb.com/

EDIT: Oh sorry, I didn't realize that Prose was based on Jekyll! I guess this suggestion is a bit redundant, but this way you don't need Github if you have your own server, I guess.

I'm currently working on a Haskell web framework that allows one to easily define all of the possible values dynamic content can take, generate all permutations of content (assuming the values are finite), and load them all into an in-memory cache to be fired off, pre-baked. Inspired by the idea of a pure function -- that is, a function that is given the same arguments should always return the same result (and have no side effects).

More general than a CMS, but the idea is similar.

I think Movable Type does this http://movabletype.org/

I'm not sure if this fits all your needs but there seems to be at least some meaningful overlap:


These solutions seem to, kinda, take a stab at the concept, but what we're really after is something way simpler. Think a simple text field into which you type a URL. Then this service would visit, crawl and compile the entire site into a static HTML site (with options to enhance the final version of the static site).

This would have to work independently of the platform used to build the original site and ideally the service would also provide a means of getting the newly created static site onto it's hosting platform (be it Dropbox, Digital Ocean or whatever other platform you want to host the static site).

wget --convert-links -r http://www.gnu.org/ -o gnulog ?

Httrack does this.

Yep, they do. However not as a service. With Httrack, I'd need to download their software first, and then run it whenever the site's been updated. I'd like a online service that handles it all for me.

It would be trivially easy to put the front end on HT track.

It's been on my mind to create a WP plugin which allows you to upload a static version of the entire site to another location. Do you think that would do the trick?

It kinda would, however it would be limited to Wordpress. I'd like something that works with whatever CMS/platform the site's build on.

Are you thinking of something similar to http://cloudcannon.com/?

No, not really. CloudCannon allows you to build static websites on Dropbox (if I'm not mistaken). What I'm after is means of building and maintaing a site using your CMS of choice (Wordpress, Drupal, etc) and then have this site compiled into a static HTML site (on request or using some sort of timer/interval) and uploaded to wherever I'm planning to host it.

Looking to get away from the speed and security issues of CMS based sites but still having the flexibility and ease of use when building/maintaining a site. Basically using any CMS to build and deploy static HTML web sites.

Maybe try looking into Grow? http://preview.growsdk.org/

Although Grow looks very cool, it doesn't allow me to use any given CMS (Wordpress, Drupal, etc) to build static HTML sites.

I'm building a service that's something like that. Ping me if you are interested in a demo hi @ !dotfinity! . !eu!

DNS for the Post Office.

When you move to a new home or office, you can keep the same "Postal Domain Name", but change the address associated to it. Once.

Not sure how to convince all the big entities to use it, but it could catch on if you could convince some smaller companies to allow users to use it in their account settings.

Any ideas what are the integration methods at the sender sides? They'd obviously need to collect the new id number and automatically find the current address.

I'd also wonder if financial institutions can use such a service at all, they probably have some stringent requirements to change the address of a person and are obligated to keep an address on record (at least in Israel they are).

A way to do this could be to use a kind of proxy address. That way you would not have to convince every postal service to adopt some new system. The problem with that, of cause, is that it most likely would take you mail much longer to arrive, and you have another 3rd party (4th party?) service provider involved to potentially make mistakes and compromise security.

I've seen similar ideas to this (central location to change/update all your addresses on file) over the years. I decided to just hack my own solution to the problem since I move and travel a lot and it became a pain point long ago rather than wait around for a viable solution to come forward.

Can you explain What was your solution/hack?

Isn't that what your own name does? I guess the point here is a database lookup before the mail is delivered.

> Isn't that what your own name does?

I've never heard of anyone being able to send mail to a person using only their name on an envelope.

You would have a unique "ID" which you can assign to any physical address. This is all you ever give out. If you move, you update one record, and your mail will come to the right place.

I see what you are saying and I like it a lot. I think you would still need a way to have people discover the current state you live in. One thing that comes to mind is taxes that differ per state. If I told amazon to ship my package to bob@foo.bar they would still need to know where I live.

You give Amazon your ID number. They do a lookup on the ID when you place an order to receive the current mailing address. It would apply to everything, so you give all of your friends and family your mailing ID. Anytime they want to send you something, they run a lookup on the ID (enter it into a website) and get your current address.

It's similar to a website. If HN moves to another server, everyone doesn't have to update their bookmarks to point to a new IP address. Instead, they visit the same URL as always, and it automatically sends everyone to the new IP.

I think it would only work if the USPTO was in on it, instead of forcing everyone to look up the address. It should still be publicly available (for the Amazon case, and such), but not required just to send something.

Interestingly enough a colleague of mine managed to send a post card to himself from a different country using only his email address as identifier. Of course the email address was on the form

<his nickname>@<division>.<company>.<country>

so it should have been fairly easy to route.

Isn't this just the concept of having a PO box?

If you like the movie reviews on The Incomparable podcast (the recent WarGames episode, for instance), perhaps you'll agree with me that there should be a web site/app that offers full-length, fan-created movie commentaries that can be played while viewing the movie.

Business model should probably be subscription (who wants spot ads thrown into the middle of their movies?) or something simple like $1 per commentary. The service should seek out talent to create the commentary tracks and pay them for their work.

I don't know about movies (maybe) but for sports this sounds like a great idea; instead of listening to the same old commentators you could have your friends or inspired amateurs, or famous people or who knows who? commenting on the game.

Some kind of youtube-soundcloud-twitter mashup with a strong focus on realtime.

Not sure how it should work but there should be potential.

I like the sports idea. The question is where do you get the content from.

not that interesting. It distracts the focus from the content. plus there are tons of such stuff people do on youtube.

What's stopping us from making something like http://www.yankodesign.com/2013/01/29/best-keyboard-ever/? Samsung came out with a phone in 2010 with an e-ink keyboard (Samsung Zeal). Are there any unsolved obstacles preventing this kind of keyboard from becoming a reality?

I would imagine such a keyboard, even at a $300 price point, would be massively more successful than the Optimus Maximus ever was.

To entice users even more, it could probably be made water resistant by not including any ports and using appropriate switches. It could come with a USB-powered inductive charging matt that you place the keyboard on top of to charge.

One problem. People what spend $300 on a keyboard are quite familiar with computers. This is the same group of people that types and uses shortcuts without ever looking at their keyboard, so the benefit is highly reduced.

The main benefit of e-ink is that the display only needs to be powered when you change the content. This enables you to greatly conserve battery life much more than the active displays on that Razer keyboard allow (if it was wireless).

From the description, it seems like the keys do not use displays and only the interface on the right uses displays.

That is one insane prince! (£229)

A website that allows maintainers of open-source projects to flag/create tickets where it would be helpful for others to help out.

I personally want to make more OSS contributions, but often I find it hard to find projects where I can contribute meaningfully. Meaning specifically that they are projects that have problems that match my expertise, are actively maintained (my patches will be appreciated), and have unresolved tickets where assistance would be useful (they are looking for outside help).

I imagine there are at-least some OSS maintainers who would like to recruit more contributors as well, and a site that would help match both would be beneficial for everyone.

Get started: https://openhatch.org/ :-)

An online organizational space for HOA's. It would allow HOA members to view the budget, see the monthly meeting agenda, file proxy votes, see any open issues, and vote on board members.

I have the feeling (based on personal experience) that some HOA managers prefer to operate in obscurity, so it may be tough to market.

I rented a house in a gated, golf-course development last year and my neighbor asked me to build something like this (he was on the board).

I think it could work–could be tough to sell, though.

Damn good idea, but as you suggest I can't see the managers being too keen on it.

I saw a suggestion on reddit once that you can canvas your neighborhood to get proxy votes for any HOA meeting. Using the proxies, you can bring forth a motion, second it with one of the proxies, and then (typically) win the vote. So the marketing campaign could push this idea to frustrated HOA members.

My idea is to make Idea Sunday and Screenshot Saturday monthly posts instead of weekly. Maybe the second weekend of each month so as not to crowd the hiring/freelance posts at the start of the month?

Also have them posted by an "official" account so it doesn't turn into a karma grab.

I was inspired by Marc Andreessen's post this weekend about news/journalism [1]. So, here's my idea for an editorial news site:

The site would be called "5 ON 5"

and every post would be based on a current news topic. In each post, 2 writers/bloggers would argue opposing views of the topic (point/counterpoint). BUT each argument must be written in a BuzzFeed listicle style format. For example:

5 ON 5: UKRAINE "5 reasons Obama needs to stay out of the Ukraine/Russia crisis" vs. "5 things Obama needs to do for Ukraine right now"


5 ON 5: FACEBOOK F8 CONFERENCE "You should put Facebook's anonymous login in your app. Here's 5 reasons why." vs. "5 reasons Facebook's new anonymous login is bad for developers"

I like it because it could work for any news category, it could be for analysis and prognostication, you could presumably get great guest writers, and it's "smart" spin on the viral crap BuzzFeed/Gawker puts out.

[1] http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/marc-andreese...

An issue tracker for freelancers and small teams that is designed to be used collaboratively with clients, without burdening clients with unnecessary detail.

Clients see a list of user stories or other deliverables and can discuss, and file issues and bugs against them. Developers can track their own bugs, finer-grained tasks and issues privately. These two sides of the software are linked for the developer, i.e. as a developer I can add detail and break down a client request into smaller stories without exposing the client to the gritty details, and keep track of which client request(s) different issues and stories are related to. Also useful for filing issues the client doesn't need to know about, say, bugs I find before they do :)

The problem this solves is that I have to maintain two issue trackers, one focused on user stories and features (usually a google spreadsheet), and another for more technical tasks and bugs (usually pivotal tracker). I want to keep it all in one place. I would be surprised if this doesn't already exist, but I haven't been able to find it.

A code review tool specifically for Golang projects based on many of the contribution guidelines listed here http://golang.org/doc/contribute.html

A few months ago when I made some contributions to Go I realized I like their code review process and tools much more than the typical GitHub PR workflow.

Collapse this for HN. I know this is redditty, but I sorely need it when I see an idea that spans a conversation longer than the page. Can't even tell by indent if I have got to the next idea. Sort by new would be nice as well so I can look for new ideas posted.


It does the job (and some more nice features) pretty well.

This was discussed a couple weeks ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7606310

Long story short, there's browser extensions for this.

I created a bookmarklet many years ago that does this and a little bit more: https://github.com/cosmok/HackerNews_Sorter

It looks like there's already a Chrome extension for this - "Hacker News Collapse".

VRCoin. It's a blockchain that simultaneously doubles as storage for items a decentralized virtual space. You require the coin to store/remove items from the space [namecoin for coordinates essentially]. I think once VR takes off there's going to be a desire for a virtual world that's not owned by any one specific entity. The blockchain acts as decentralized storage as well as spam control, so people don't just place dicks everywhere (or rather it would be costly to do so).

An MMO where all content is created by players using a wiki-like interface. Editing privilege is tied to a "creation skill" that levels up with each approved editing action.

Worldbuilding as a game mechanic could be amazing. I have this totally evidenced belief that there are tons of people who are master worldbuilders and are poor at writing fiction/narrative or dislike doing so. I'd love to find a way to open up content creation to such a demographic.

Didn't Neal Stephenson try something like this? Google is failing me on this, but I swear he tried doing some wiki based community built world.

I believe you may be thinking of the The Mongoliad[0], which was a communal narrative effort he founded/was in involved in. I'm not totally sure of the original format of the storybuilding process, but I do know they are now available as ebooks.

[0] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mongoliad (Wikipedia because I think it better explains the nature of the project than the homepage)

I daydream about this periodically, but I can't quite picture how the community keeps the game rules balanced enough for there to be a game

Second Life is like this. It works well, but the tool set could always be more improved and focused on MMO.

A/B testing for physical products, making hardware more agile.

Market validation and iterative development for hardware can take a long time. Product developers are jealous of the fast iterations involved with software development. I've recently learned that despite being lower quality, people value the novelty of 3D printed goods. And we know that consumers value co-creation [1].

We know that early adopters tend to be early adopters of multiple kinds of technology. So if your user base for a new physical product also largely have 3D printers, you could bring your users into your prototyping process. Send out 2+ versions of your product without them knowing which version they received.

You can ask for feedback within 2 days of pushing out a design with real users. From the feedback you can start a new iteration, which you can then push out to your users as a tangible update within a week. You could even pay for the small cost of material used.

This platform could start with STL files, and then in the future use a common 3D printing API such as the one we're building called PrintToPeer. Early adopters would even be incentivized to get a 3D printer to be a part of the development cycle of new products.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IKEA_effect

A few Idea Sundays ago I suggested an idea [1] for a location-based city guide for tourists (with comment voting and based on discoverability).

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7617048

Here's another such idea (based on finding answers)...


A clean, dead-simple search engine that connects to information from Q&A data about the city you're in. So it's a Q&A site (again, with comment voting) regarding tourist-type questions and answers. The user can ask a new question ahead of their trip and hope for answers but the real use case is where the Q&A database is extensive enough that most questions are asked and answered already.

Ex. - Enter the Paris section. Type in the search field "hours Louvre" and the first and best answer would be the opening and closing times of the famous museum. No other clutter on the page.

Ex. 2 - If GPS-enabled, type in "bus Louvre" and it'd bring up the most relevant answer. "Take the 765. Every 30 min. Next one at 9am."

Short, sweet and simple. Only thing is, it'd need a Wikipedia-style editor allowing for corrections when answer is no longer current.

Relational binary data serialization.

Cap'n Proto is a great piece of engineering that got quite a lot of things right. (For those who aren't familiar, Cap'n Proto is a data serialization format that is able to be very fast by encoding data in the same way modern processors encode data normally - with fixed width data types and pointers.) I think it would be nice to have a data serialization protocol that uses the same general concepts, but addresses a couple limitations in that format, including:

- Cap'n Proto doesn't allow you to edit messages in a robust way. You can't change the size of a list/string in a message, you can't replace one object with another without leaking "garbage", etc. The data model is simply not designed with fast editing in mind. - The data model is document based so it is inconvenient or impossible to capture certain kinds of relationships with a schema.

My idea is to address these limitations using the battle tested relational model and the massive amount of knowledge that's been accumulated about how to efficiently implement relational systems. In this serialization format, a message would be a veritable relational dataset, complete with a schema and multiple tables. Messages would be organized into pages, each page representing a node in a b tree, as in a normal rdbms. You can add, edit, and delete rows as necessary, and just send the binary encoding of the database over the wire directly. The utility of this system is obvious: a client could, for example, read an entire database from one server, add a row to a table (without parsing the rest of the message, which are in other tables on other pages), and forward the new database directly to another server. Being able to quickly edit even large datasets in this way would be a huge boon.

I'm starting to work on a marketing tool which will be a combination of displaying popups like Bounce Exchange(http://bounceexchange.com/) and Tweetganic(http://www.tweetganic.com/) or http://snip.ly/.

Currently Social Media Management tools like Hootsuite provide a link shortner so it's relatively easier for them to integrate a service like http://snip.ly/ however they don't.

The product I'm thinking to create will allow anyone to manage, split test their pop ups and promote themselves using a service like snip.ly. An analytics module will accompany the product so all the data can be meaningfully used to enhance the campaigns.

Hope I was able to clearly explain my idea. Would detail out some more if anyone is interested.

Think about how many cool videos are made with the Go Pro. Snowboarding videos, skydiving videos, etc.

Now think about how cool it would be to have the type of frozen fly-around video that you see in moves like The Matrix. In fact, it should be super easy to create such a thing. Instead of just a photo, why can't we have a frozen moment in time, virtually in 3d?

In fact, I first thought of this idea in terms of wedding photography (an industry in need of a lot of innovation, btw.)

What I propose is a "string of cameras" that you can easily place anywhere, and will simultaneously shoot a photo. All of those photos are then instantly turned into a video.

Cameras have become low-cost enough that a product like this could be produced at a mass market price. Yes, it is a niche product, but so is the Go Pro. But, the best argument for this idea is that it would be really damn fun to play with one.

Someone, please steal this idea. All I ask is that you make it happen.

This came to my mind when I read your post (360 pics taken with many phones): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD26Mrf1mck

Here is a very good example of the use of what you are describing: http://bigfreeze.com/demo/

It'd be pretty sweet combined with something like Oculus.

Food inventory for the ordinary home. A synced cross platform app that allows a normal home to monitor: 1)What food has been bought? 2)What the expiration date is? Warnings when food is going out of date. 3)What meals can be made based on the food “in stock”?

I hate throwing away food and often buy food I already have or that my girlfriend has bought. I have been trying to think of ways to monitor what food is at home and to reduce the amount of food wastage in our home.

I think an app that allows you to scan shopping receipts, the contents of which are automatically loaded into a database and synced across multiple apps would be very useful.

It could be monetized using the freemium model, e.g. more complex functionality the more you pay and also by integrating with online shopping engines such as instacart.

Any feedback on this greatly appreciated.

I've thought about something similar but get hung up on data entry. How do you make it not miserable to get food purchase data into the app, given that food doesn't have an RFID tag in it, and not everything (produce) has a barcode? I like the receipt idea - partner with grocery stores to print a qr-code with a machine readable list of items and (maybe) expiration dates. Having to do any kind of manual scan on each item I bring home from the store feels like too much behavior change to become part of my everyday routine. Maybe there's an opportunity to do it for institutional kitchens where inventory is required by default?

It would be fun to build the fitbit and basis integrations. Also, Randall Munroe offered a different approach: http://xkcd.com/1109/ :)

Yes, data entry is the gap. I have been thinking about that and it seems like there are a number of solutions that would allow you to read the text from a photo, vivino.com is an example of an app that does this very well with wine labels. I wonder if you could take a high quality photo of the receipt and the app would add the contents of the receipt to the db based on this? I know its not going to be seamless and may take a bit of manual work at the beginning. Partnering with a grocery store or multiple when the solution picks up traction could also simplify things significantly.

A browser-based chat where the messages are encrypted in the browser so that only the conversation participants can see the messages but not the server, it's just storing them. The messages would be encoded by AES and the key exchange can be done with RSA. The database would store the encription key for every user for every conversation but encrypted with for example the user's password or RSA private key, and the private key would be also encrypted the same way, and when these keys are needed, the server sends them to the browser, the javascript decodes them with the user's account password and voilá. So it would be a browser-based Skype with Mega-like encryption.

Something like https://crypto.cat/ ?

Supports multiparty OTR, etc.

Server doesn't see message contents. Ephemeral key exchange via OTR (hence supports perfect forward secrecy), though of course there's always the problem of trusting the fingerprint, i.e. someone (e.g. the server) can just MitM the whole thing.

So ideally, one should verify the OTR fingerprints of the other parties via some secondary channel.

You can also run the server on your own infrastructure.


> key exchange can be done with RSA

any particular reason for RSA, and not ECDH key exchange?

[hrr, can't edit my own message anymore, it seems]

errata: mpOTR (as implemented by cryptocat) does not seem to support PFS right now, which is quite a big deal.


With the growth of electronic commerce and mobile commerce, fraud is going to be a factor for all businesses that have a web presence. Online fraud takes a variety of forms but charge-backs appear to be the most preventable. Using a multi-layer strategy of various prevention and detection methods (fraud scoring model, device profiling, new type of authentication), merchants install a plug-in and do not have to worry about monitoring transactions for fraud.

Based on a few sources, fraud has been staying around 1% of e-commerce revenues.

A single site that aggregates and live demo or video demo of open source projects...

Skimming through and reading each open source project to figure out exactly what it does or having to read code, install it, or run it in some form just to get a better idea is a pain in the ass (personal opinion). It would be awesome to have a way to go through projects fast and _see_ what they're about before starring at their repo. Reading descriptions is not as awesome as seeing the product when possible.

A site to discover content using an algorithm that ignores metrics we have begun to game (likes and viewings) and instead builds rankings based on pairwise comparisons.

Would allow discovery of new good content that hasn't employed growth hacks and will also differentiate between equally rated content.

https://aeolipyle.co (algorithm complete -- need to find good use for it.)

Many recommendation services rank contents based on its actual content relevance (not just on likes/retweets). For instance, Prismatic (http://getprismatic.com) used clustering to group contents of similar topics, which does pairwise comparison between documents (as you mentioned).

I'm curious: pairwise comparisons of what? It's not clear to me what your algorithm does.

After you view content (ideally immutable content like a film, music, books or computer games) -- when you offer to rate you are instead promoted on how it faired vs a previous experience. "You've just seen Terminator 2 -- how is it compared to The Matrix?)

In terms of algorithm it's got around issues of merging incomplete Condorcet elections (as not everyone will compare or rank every item) and clustering.

Turning these partial elections into a single order ranking.

If I understand correctly, this sounds like an idea that I've been thinking about for a little while.

Essentially, you do binary search-insertion into a list, where the comparison function is a prompt to the user asking "Is A better than B?" (If it's too difficult to judge "betterness" between two items, you could just as easily swap in a different comparison. "Is A funnier than B?")

One thing that people always ask when I mention this is: "What if A and B are equal?" Well, then you answer no, because A is not better than B. If your answers are consistent, then A and B will end up next to each other in the list.

yup -- I believe this is a better user experience in terms of capturing ratings (by capitalising on the availability heuristic)

What you're describing technically would work when each person compares every item (and would fall into the domain of condorcet methods).

However in practice the election becomes a graph (rather than list or x/y table) with cyclical dependencies and conflicting comparisons -- it becomes quite hard to resolve -- but it can be.

I envisioned starting with an empty list, and populating it with the user's comparisons as they come in. That way, you don't have to deal with unrated items.

Cyclical/conflicting comparisons are a function of faulty users, the algorithm can't take the blame for that! ;)

Created an opensource plugin architecture for currently Chrome, but can be Firefox as well. Consists of repositories and plugins you can enable and disable. These plugins will add extra functionality to an existing website, or change layout for example. https://github.com/dutchcoders/eight-spice-chrome

A Google-reader like service for your YouTube channels subscriptions. I'd like to have a list of videos from my subscriptions I can turn into a video magazine I can e.g. watch each Sunday.

It's super annoying that to keep up with your subscriptions on YouTube you have to click on each channel and manually work out which videos you've seen and which you haven't.

You can subscribe to Youtube feeds with any RSS reader. I've been doing it for a long time now. The built-in Youtube subscription blows hardcore.

- a "Prezi-like" software for software documentation. You can navigate, zoom out to the project specs, zoom in for the code;

- think about how google maps show you the time a given route would take in the current traffic. What I want is the possibility to see what the time would be in a future date and time, based on historical data (no, google maps does not have this);

this, but for diagrams

With StackTray (opensource) you can manage all your EC2 instances from the OSX statusbar. Currently only Amazon AWS is supported, but planning to extend with PaaS, but also DigitalOceaan, Google Compute Engine and Azure. https://github.com/dutchcoders/stacktray

A site with free, open, community driven practice problems and solutions. Sort of like a wikipedia for questions. I could imagine this being a key ingredient in the future of OER. Would be cool to see something like this integrated with http://metacademy.org

Don't the stack exchange sites already serve for something like this?

I think his focus was on the "practice" in "practice problems and solutions. I can't really practice problems on SE.

Good point, actively contributing answers certainly helps practice a skill area. But I can't imagine thinking, "I need to practice tree traversal algorithms: to Stack Overflow!"

Nice! Can I create questions myself? Also, is it only CS?

I bought "thecoffeeprophecy.com" On a whim a while ago... Suggestions so far have included a straight to kindle thriller, tripadvisor for coffee shops, and a service where I cover myself in coffee grounds on webcam and predict things for people. Suggestions welcome...

Predict, based on the spread rate of Starbucks franchises, how long it will take for a new Starbucks, closer to your home than the current nearest, will be built.

I'd like some way to listen to Hacker News.

I know that's ambiguous, and I'm not sure how it'd be implemented. But I often listen to podcasts when working from home and often wish for a way to consume Hacker News in the same way.

a16z has a great podcast. It's not listening to HN, but it's in the same spirit =)

I'd love the LeechBlock extension for Firefox to be recreated as a Mac application. There are similar distraction-blocking tools but none that allow you to set time-based rules for the blocking to take place.

An anonymous linkedin My only interaction with other people if it there's a business/freelance opportunity. Invite only and where names appear when the deal is real.

I continue to keep this updated over time: https://github.com/samelawrence/ideas

A Bitcoin like protocol for sending/receiving real money (USD, INR). Why to pay 2% to banks and card processors when we can use blockchain for the same.

Hack Raid - world of warcraft raids meet hackathon. Visual raid management tools allows raid leader to manage teams on quick projects to prove out interesting hacks that could form the basis of real companies. Contributors pick from raids they want to join based on the merit the leadership and idea. Time period for raid is compressed but very focused.

You're early for a Sunday.

Nope, it's been almost five hours since 00:00 UTC :)

Not everyone lives in the Bay ;) But I see you're from WashU (howdy from Arkansas!), so I guess it was still early for you. We should all just go by UTC, I guess.

Unless you're in the east

A service that sits on top of/aggregates sports clips and learns from the clips that I watch/view/like/share to determine if a sports clip is relevant for me, irregardless of source (even if just providing links to third parties).

Not sure why I was down-voted on this. I assume someone is doing this and isn't looking for competition? ;)

A payment form that supports subscriptions and one time payments. It has options for taxes and it comes in English French and Spanish. Moonclerk but with taxes and languages. Chargify with a beautiful form and languages.

A stackexchange like site for personal finance.

You mean like the personal finance Stack Exchange site?


You mean something like http://money.stackexchange.com/? :)

Hacker news 2.0

An actual tech news column with reporters and a sleek website and or maybe a podcast here and there

I mean seriously why hasn't that happened yet

The reason it hasn't happened yet is because that's a full time job, the initial costs are high for AV, the profit margins are razor-thin. (or, at the least, the money a person with the skills to write quality tech journalism would always be far less than the money they could earn by applying the tech skills for technical tasks)

Aren't you just describing VentureBeat and TechCrunch, etc?

I would contribute to this, both in terms of donating to see this happen but also to the content and/or the community. Silly as it sounds, my least favorite thing about HN is the startup content---i don't care about agile this or lean that or pivoting or whatever, I'm interested in people "hacking" on passion projects, making cool tools, and breaking stuff.

A meta-data file over VLC player where people can add additional information about a movie so that others watching the movie can skip right to that part. Say, a movie has a few funny scenes, or action or even sex, and you only are bothered to watch those parts. Then you can use this file to see at which time period these scenes exist in the movie, and jump right into it.

Not exactly a startup idea, but something that can be useful, eh?

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