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Ask HN: Who isn't in the software industry/not a hacker?
157 points by graham1776 on Aug 8, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 190 comments
I work as an Associate in the commercial real estate industry and wonder how many others like me are out there on HN. Is there a community here like me who have an interest in technology and entrepreneurship but aren't hackers?

I love this site because: A) I get news on average 2-3 days before it makes it's way through the news cycle. B) Technology interests me and I can see what new tech could benefit my industry C) I am a wantrepreneur and like reading about startups, hopefully wanting to start one someday.

Why are you here and what do you get out of the community?

Nuclear engineer here. Definitely not in the software industry, but still do a bit of coding, albeit mostly in Fortran because (most) reactor design software stays pretty far from the bleeding edge.

I come to HN for the startup culture discussions. Even though my field is pretty far from the software/tech field, it's pretty amazing how much of the startup experience remains the same.

For those interested, my startup, Transatomic, is developing a molten salt reactor that's cheaper than coal and (hopefully) as cheap as natural gas, just without the greenhouse gas emissions.

We just closed our first round of VC funding from Peter Thiel and Founders Fund a few days ago. More details here:


Forgive me for leapin in here, but one does not often get the chance to meet nuclear scientists (well on HN it's more likely which is I guess the point)

Anyway - I mentally write off nuclear power from the list of useful alternative sources because of the enormous pre-generation costs, the running costs, the politics of nuclear weaponry and the decommissioning costs (and yes this is almost entirely about traditional reactors)

How do you escape being in the nuclear industry dominated by the above seemingly negative problems - how much of your success is dominated by selling a mousetrap than building a better one?

Seems to have worked out OK for France

I meant the whole "as a startup in the nuclear industry I don't have the backing of an major nation state, I don't have a proven technical track record, I am in an industry with a PR problem only slightly better than chemical weapons and the major reason to exist was to build nukes, which we kind of have plenty now"

How does he play that set of cards? It's no impossible and I do think someone needs to play that hand well, I just wonder - why him, why now? What's his secret sauce?

Sounds really cool. Are there any technical articles/papers available for the public to read on what you're doing? Or are all the details (understandably) under wraps?

Yes, we published our first technical white paper earlier this year. PDF available here:


I'm a mechanical engineer, working in product development. I have an interest in programming to the extent that I can try to automate some tedious tasks, but very little formal training. I'm definitely a long ways from being a "hacker" as its known here.

I agree with all of your reasons for visiting HN. I've mentioned this before on another thread, but the guideline that posts should be "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity"[1] tends to produce a lot of content that I find interesting, and I'm sure there are many more people like us here.

One thing that I will add is that I wish that people posted more non-programming jobs in the monthly Who's Hiring. Even if you just posted the approximate job title it'd be better than omitting it entirely. Every month I control+F>"mechanincal engineer", and there are almost never more than one or two posts, despite the fact that I see some of the same companies posting these positions on different job boards.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Same here, I work in the tech industry doing mechanical design. While I would no longer call the company I work for a startup (we were arguably still one when I started) I still find a lot of the conversation around them interesting. I'd still say I'm a hacker, just in a much more physical sense of the word.

While I don't find the vast majority of the content about programming interesting, there is still enough content here that I do find interesting that other similar websites don't cover.

Woah, my doppelganger!

I work in user acquisition, specifically in SEM (AdWords/Bing). Same reasons here: cursory knowledge of programming I self-taught when trying to automate tasks, but nothing formal. Trying to learn more because I want to go the Product Management route.

This place definitely piques my curiosity in things I sometimes never knew existed. I've been lurking for a few years and can say that I've learned so much more about technology, business, etc. from here that I otherwise wouldn't have (I didn't even know what a PM was before; now I want to be one, heh).

Also echo the desire for non-programming jobs in the Who's Hiring thread, but I guess that's a double-edged sword because if it gets too diverse, it can become like a regular job board and thereby lose its relevance, for employers and employees alike. At the same time, my selfish side wishes it to be so since I would love to work for companies that frequent HN, i.e. more forward-thinking companies doing really cool things (usually).

It's nice to hear from others who share the desire to go the PM route.

I've only recently joined HN, but so far I've found it a valuable source of information and discussion. I've been working at a small startup on the product team (not as the PM) for 3 years. We were acquired in April and now I'm really interested in moving on and getting into a product management role, but I'm unsure of how to break into that "market."

My current location (Greensboro, NC) is probably part of the problem I'm having (I am open to moving). I joined HN to try to glean some intel on where to find PM opportunities and figure out what companies (especially the ones on HN) look for when hiring for those roles (programming ability? MBA required? etc.)

If you have found any good info to share, I'd love to hear.

You don't necessarily have to be able to program to be a Product Manager (I know PMs who don't program). I've also done PM interviews which didn't include anything about programming (the interviews focused more on strategy, functionality and logic/reasoning)

Well it's no wonder you don't find anything if you're searching for "mechanincal engineer"

I'm an artist. I'm engaged in writing and drawing a graphic novel about a robot lady with reality problems.

Reading HN gives me things to mull over regarding my own hesitant steps into the world of promotion, sales, and making a business happen on the web.

Also I used to dabble in programming back in the days of the C64 and Amiga. I will probably never do any major programming projects but I like to keep up with tech news, and this is a decent source for some of that.

Your comic is really awesome but the top 20 or 30 pixels are cut off. Please fix it I want to read!! http://cl.ly/image/2J1h2b0B3C40

Oh yeah I need to tweak some stuff in the style after some other changes, thanks!

edit. Finally got off my ass and did what turned out to be a pretty trivial fix, looks fine for me on safari/ff/chrome now. Thanks for the nudge to deal with it.

Awesome, looking forward to a nice sunday read, thanks! :)

I cannot believe I'm seeing you here! Your Tarot of the Silicon Dawn is one of my absolute favorite Tarot decks I have ever owned (out of 50+). I once typed out an email to you (in 2011) respectfully requesting information about whether or not you would take commission for a possible tattoo design; Alas, this email was never sent. Keep up the great work!


Also the answer to the implied question is PROBABLY no; I really hate doing commissions, and don't need the money from them right now. That said if the idea is something that really feels like a thing only I or about five other people could do justice to, I'll consider it.

I recognized you at "robot lady with reality problems" and I absolutely LOVE your work. Thank you! See you in the future!

For those of us who don't recognize it, can you (or the GP) give us a clue? Titles? Name of series? Some hint?

The series is "Decrypting Rita".


Check the parent's profile, its all in there.

haha thanks! I got cons coming up if you're west coast and want to say hi in the flesh: Rose City, Rainfurrest, Emerald City. I was hoping to do a couple more but I missed some table application deadlines.

I'm an applications engineer working in the semiconductor robotics industry. I make robots run faster and more reliable so that more chips can be made. The software I maintain touches >70% of semiconductor products in the world, and that's only a guess based on our market penetration into a single (significantly) necessary step in the semiconductor manufacturing process.

I would also classify myself as a wantrepreneur. I have a few apps I am currently executing on, but I can only say that my skills in programming for web and mobile are swiftly increasing. This is only the case because HN has convinced me of the certainty of self-enrichment that comes from startups.

I visit HN for the insights into the other tech industry and for non-inflammatory(hah) discussions about current topics. I read comments before I click links, as I typically find the opinions of HN members to be as or more on-topic than the content within the link itself.


It has to be. (former NXE:3350B metro here)

I'm a fighter pilot.

Best place to get news about the trends shaping our world, and muse over natl security implications.

What do you think about replacing most fighter pilots with unmanned drones? Way of the future or will never happen?

I think unmanned systems will augment, rather than replace manned airplanes. In one way of thinking, we've been using drones for decades...a tomahawk missile is an unmanned vehicle with a warhead.

I'm sure this is a dumb question but why is it preferable to have a pilot in the cockpit if you could keep them on the ground?

Compared to a modern fighter jet, drone aircraft are cheap, dumb, and disposable. Satellite control involves many seconds of latency and sometimes communication is lost entirely, especially in bad weather. It is routine and expected for a drone to just lose contact / fail / crash and be written off. You can get away with that since there's no loss of life, but you probably wouldn't want to use a drone to carry a nuclear bomb, for example. You can always just assassinate the Taliban leader tomorrow, but an unidentified or hostile aircraft violating your airspace needs to be dealt with right now.

There is research on planes that could be sent off with orders and not require continuous communication, avoiding some of these issues, but to my knowledge they aren't in widespread "production" use.

An F-18, on the other hand, is an engineering marvel and extremely responsive, agile, and flexible. Pilots can react very quickly to situations and have a realistic chance of winning dogfights with other fighter jets, for example, which drones almost certainly couldn't do.

On the other hand, if all you need to do is assassinate some people in a country without an air force, a drone will do just fine.

But in a dogfight a drone would have one big advantage: ability to withstand much higher G-forces. For now manned fighter pilots have the edge, but I would be surprised if that's still true in 20 years.

When was our last dogfight? Vietnam?

There was a fair bit of dogfighting in the Gulf War, but as with many things in the military, it matters more that you could then that you actually do.

You get this line from Top Gun? LOL.

Seriously naive either way.

I had thought I'd looked it up before but clearly I was mistaken. Luckily superuser2 was here to reduce my naiveté.

Drones are great in permissive environments, but not ready for prime time. Plus they have an astronomical mishap (crash) rate. In Manned airplanes, the pilot can troubleshoot. Also, air to air combat (dogfighting) and aerial tanking can't be done by drones...yet!

That's awesome.

And terrifying...night carrier landings behind the carrier are pure insanity. After Every single one at least one of my legs was shaking uncontrollably!

You really need to mention that you're a navy carrier pilot. In the world of pilots, navy carrier pilots are the heroes.

My hat's off to you, I have the qualifications but have always hesitated to apply to my nation's pilot programme. The sacrifices military personnel make are really extraordinary when viewed from a civilian point of view.

Much respect.

I also work outside IT field (I'm an architect). Before everything I see HN as a place where you have the smartest online community in the world (I think I am not exaggerating) with a very low amount of noise (with some complains from highly tech oriented and nostalgic users forgetting that non-tech people most of times enrich the community), sometimes even with stories/comments/news told in first person (like here) making the knowledge frontiers available to anyone curious enough to dig it.

Thank you HN.


As far as I am concerned, there can never be too many online memoirs about carrier night landings. Please write up your stories for us chairbound types!

"... They are all of the same general shape and internal composition, and when looking down upon them, I couldn’t help but think of flying over suburbs of the US ..."

Listening to CDR Chris Hatfield on the radio yesterday, made this exact observation from space. It's a human pattern that you can see from Australia to the US to Afghanistan ~ http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/a...

"... When I emerged from the near empty Officer’s Mess after our Thanksgiving meal, I wandered up to the hanger bay and was shocked by what I saw. Enlisted sailors, many of whom had spent hours painting the walls, and cleaning the floors to present an image of perfection to our superior, were standing in an endless line hundreds deep waiting to get their meal. A meal that was due to close minutes later. I had never seen a line so long on the ship before. Somewhere the logistics chain failed, and priorities were askew. I did what I could for a few of them, but many still missed out on their meal. As a leader of these men and women, I felt ashamed. As far as I know, General Petraeus didn’t get wind of this – had he, I wonder how it would have turned out. ...."

I'm surprised by this. Non provisioning of the enlisted on a major US celebration. Could be mistaken as a sign of shite leadership. Your descriptions of Petraeus on the other hand speaks the opposite.

Would love to hear a story.

"... Our suspicions were unfounded. Later on the transit home, in the hour of nothing but straight and level fight, we discussed this within our two man crew. The running could have been kids playing as they are wont to do around campfires everywhere. How do you balance the benign with the threatening? ..."


Wow, excellent, incredible stories and writing. Thanks for sharing those.


At the risk of seeming condescending, I'd like to compliment you on your writing: The ability to express one's self so clearly and effectively is rare, though perhaps more common on HN than elsewhere, and the ability to do so as a teenager is rarer still.

Yes, perhaps I draw great conclusions from three sentences, but they are three well-constructed, articulate, and pithy compound sentences. I fancy that I can hear your voice as I read your words, and having a voice is something many writers never achieve.

I strongly recommend that you write every day, even if only for your own purposes and even if you dispose of what you have written. Regardless of your industry or vocation, the ability to express yourself, to express complex thoughts cleanly and clearly, will serve you well the rest of your days.

I'm 31, and my daughter is 14; we're unschoolers and I'm often sharing cool stuff with her that I find on HN. I'm glad to find other teens here, because I keep telling my daughter there ARE people out there who are like her and not into the same dumb mass-market crap. You rock.

I work in infection control in a large urban hospital (microbiology and epidemiology background/education). Computer skills required for my job are basically Word and Excel.

I enjoy the tech startup world and have plans to start my own in the very near future. Currently using various sites to learn to program myself (Codeacademy, Bento, Dash). I think it is important to know what your site is doing and be able to respond to issues.

I have learned so much from this community/site that I hope it will put me on a better path to success. However, the one thing about HN (and this is true of just about any community) that there are people here who are so smart, that I get convinced that I'm not ready to start building my site. I see examples of javascript here for example, and I think "My skills are no where close to that, how can I possible start working on my sites JS."

There is always going to be someone better than you. I'd say just start working on your site's JS, you have no idea how much you'll learn in the process :)

Thanks. I did the same a few years ago when I took a job that required Filemaker development and I had never used the software before (downloaded the free trial before the job). Once you start using something, and you have the knowledge to know where to look for help/answers, you can do quite a bit.

Hey – working on a startup in the space and am very interested in talking with somebody working in infection control. If it's of interest, please send me an email (in my profile).

And would love to hear your plans too!

I'll second anmonteiro90.

Just a few points. Put your work in a version control system (optimally Mercurial or Git), study the request-response cycle for a few hours (no need to get very deep, but understand what programs are involved in your site, and how to configure them), and yeah, do it.

I'm a management consultant. When hackers (Michael O'Church, for instance) write about "MBA Culture" as opposed to "Hacker Culture" - well, I'm in the center of the MBAs.

Why do I read HN? Mostly, because I like and enjoy working in the technology space (defined broadly) and hope to build a career in tech. HN is great at giving me a view over the other side of the fence.

Do you agree with what Michael O'Church says about MBA culture? I've read a whole lot of his side of the argument but very little from somebody 'in the center of the MBAs'.

I'm so glad someone asked this. I'm originally an industrial designer, and ended up in advertising. I spent ten years in advertising, and recently resigned to take a step back and work out what's next. I can code, but I'm definitely not a professional dev.

I've been reading HN for around 5 years. I'm here because I love technology, and love seeing what people are doing with it. Outside a few email lists and Twitter, there's no other site/source that I've stuck with for so long.

What do I get out of it? Aside from always learning new things (I have very little use for lambda calculus or univariate linear regression in my life, yet because of HN I know a lot about both). I spend a lot of my time now working with / mentoring / investing in Melbourne-based startups, and the comments and links I read on HN give me perspectives and thinking and experiences from a global startup community that I wouldn't always have access to.

Of course those opinions and perspectives and experiences are almost always skewed, this place is a filter bubble, but if you keep the bias in mind it's a phenomenally efficient filter of quality information and thinking.

I'm an analyst at a hedge fund, I have a job as a generalist so I look at pretty much every asset class/geography/industry.

Historically have done very little investing in tech, but I'm interested in it and HN is a good way to keep up with the industry.

I look at startups as businesses or industries where the rate of change is much faster than normal. I think as an investor you're really a student of business and that makes startups a really fascinating area to observe.

HN readers like yourself are a big plus, it lends the site diversity. There is also a fairly big age range.

I would definitely agree with point A.

The odd gem, like [0].

Advice or pointers from other HN readers.

I do not work in the software industry, but I would call myself a hacker.

The term "hacker" can be interpreted in imaginative ways, I wouldn't be surprised to find hackers in your area of work.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7388576

Agronomist by training. Have done a number of things including project management for a company doing public works construction projects for around 10 years. Been programming as a hobby since late teens and have no formal CS education.

Recently I took a job as a web developer (I know... career path isn't in my vocabulary, I just do what interests me at the time and let the chips fall where they may). It's my first real programming job.

I built some SAAS applications for farms which I maintain and plan to expand in the future. These apps showed what I can do and helped me land my current full time job.

I'm a big bad patent attorney (please be kind). I have a computing engineering degree and like to do a little iOS coding in my free time. I like keeping up on what's happening in the tech industry.

Government affairs staffer working in Sacramento politics. My field is education but I like to keep tabs on technology and start ups who almost always end up in the legislative realm eventually.

One fight I've been watching with interest in the CA legislature is the anti-Uber/Lyft legislation currently pending. We're in the last three weeks of session now and I'm very interested to see where that ends up and whether Gov. Brown signs it. There's nothing more fun than watching a policy fight you don't have a dog in.

I am a pharmacist living in a small town of 35-40k people in Northern Greece and my ruby code, which I try to put together in my spare time, is kinda silly :-) do I need to say more? :-p

For me HN is a view in the dream-land of the cool kids :-) I love it! Also the most high-quality discussions/views I read on tech or even politics often come from HN.

Haha. Fancy seeing your post again :)

Same here hehehehe :-)

I'm a stay-at-home dad. Last year I was a math teacher. The last time I worked a "tech" job was in grad school nearly a decade ago, assisting my department's IT manager.

I'm here because I like to learn about things. Not just products/services that I found out about from here that helped me in life (airbnb, hipmunk, leaky, freelancer) but simply ideas (I've learned relevant things about religion, games, science, warfare, education, driving, the basic income, and so on.)

I'm also here because my wife is a hacker and I like to be aware of what she's reading and thinking about.

I'm 21 years old student of hungarian philology. I'm absolutely fascinated with all the new technologies and (mainly) software startups that are presented here; maybe I chose wrong path in my life but I'm obsessed with Hungary and learning so there's that.

I hope Hacker News will grow big.

I'm a consulting actuary.

What am I doing here? I've been programming since I was 11 and still do it often. You have to as an actuary.

Besides I have some web skills and I'm using to build a startup doing risk management for farmers. In this startup I'm responsible for the whole stack.

Also an actuary. Consulted at one time but work at a company now. I started programming around the same age and also use it for work. We all do SQL but I am the only one doing general purpose coding at my company.

Also have web skills (the coincidences just keep coming). I do a few things on the side and am contemplating a bootstrapped startup soonish. For example, I did everything but the logo on this site: http://tvsift.com/

I'm an actuary as well! I would dispute GP that "as an actuary you have to program". The overwhelming majority of actuaries I know barely know how to use VBA. I quit chasing a career in Comp Sci at uni (I started programming at a very young age, and always wanted to be a software engineer) to switch to actuarial science, but now, even though I'm a Fellow, I've quit my job to go into entrepreneurship. I think that being an actuary places us very well to go into startups that take advantage of our analytic and risk management skill set. With the amount of data being collected, that means about 90% of startups.

I can't argue with your experiences and I guess I have been living in a bubble. With all the legacy data we have (the company started using IT in the 60s and the coverages are until the end of life... AS/400 is still in active use) data munging is a task in itself.

I fully agree with your last sentence! May I ask what you're working on?

May I ask how big your company is? I'm quite surprised to hear you're the only one that codes. In our risk modeling of 15, 10 code daily.

If I understand correctly tvsift shows were you can find streaming services for a particular Tv-series, am I right?

Looks well done, I like the filter. Unfortunately for me the links below the series are not working for me on iPad (latest iOS).

I'm also an actuary, but do some coding in my own time. I'm primarily here due to interest on current technology and programming trends and generally interesting articles.

Our team does a lot of analysis programming in R rather than taking the more common Excel/VBA approach. This allows common practices in software development such as version control tools (and the collaboration they can help with), testing, deployment strategies, etc, to be a major part of the usual workflow that would otherwise be missing from the usual speadsheet world so exposure to HN helps promote this in my mind as good practice.

The main draw of HN for me is the consistently high quality of posts and comments. I can be sure that were I to see the same content posted across general news sites, or other aggregators such as Reddit, then HN would be the only place I'd care to look and be certain that I'd also be learning plenty (often more than the original article) from the HN comments alone.

    Our team does a lot of analysis programming in R rather than taking the more 
    common Excel/VBA approach. This allows common practices in software development 
    such as version control tools (and the collaboration they can help with), 
    testing, deployment strategies, etc, to be a major part of the usual workflow 
    that would otherwise be missing from the usual speadsheet world so 
    exposure to HN helps promote this in my mind as good practice.
One nice trick your average actuary won't come up with is recursively exporting all your VBA code. The model I'm building is one big .xlsm referencing .xla's referencing other .xla's. By selecting the .xlsm in the VBA IDE we can export all code to a folder (with sub folders for every part) and put this in version control.

Unfortunately, unit testing remains difficult in Basic. I try to control the problems caused by a lack of test by regularly regressing the enormous amounts of output we have. If things that shouldn't change, change we know we have a problem. Of course, this testing can be automated.

Also a consulting actuary, here for the same reason as you. The number of actuaries replying here is pretty remarkable given the extremely small size of the profession.

As far as I know there is exactly one credentialed actuary working in any capacity in SV, but that number can only go up in the future.

What does an actuary do? And what programming do you do?

What an actuary does depends, other replies indicate that actuaries don't do as much programming as I thought they did. However, I do a lot. At the moment I'm mainly responsible for building a large cash flow model (40k lines of VBA).

I'm an electrical/computer engineer. Coding/CS is only an auxiliary interest for me.

Same deal. HN exposes me to some CS stuff. Also important, the EE/CE community is small, and I share many general interests with the CS community, so I jump on the CS news bandwagon.

I'm a high school student (to be entering my senior year). I would definitely not call myself a hacker by any means, and while I am very passionate about math and science, at the moment, I would first and foremost identify myself as a jazz bassist (however, his may be due to the fact that I am currently at the Berklee college of contemporary music, studying in their five-week summer program). I have in the past ventured a bit into programming, but not very seriously, and my biggest achievement was probably a roguelike written in brainf*ck that I abandoned half-way through. Although I am very passionate about jazz, I intend to pursue a career in science (though I am not sure exactly what). I use HN because I can easily find many math/science/technology related articles that I find very interesting. Also, I find that the articles and posts on here tend to give me a different perspective on a situation than one might find elsewhere.

I'm a pharmacist, but since my boss knows I'm good with computers, she put me to manage the IT systems used by the pharmacy department. This role is well-defined and there is at least one full-time staff in each public hospital here doing this, but no software development knowledge is required because there is a layer of IT consultants that supports us on very technical things (e.g. server provisioning, network configuration, integration). What I do is mainly defining requirements and provide content (both clinical and non-clinical).

I see HN as a way to keep up with IT in general - especially that all my other colleagues talk about totally different kinds of news. I find discussions well-balanced most of the time, and sometimes wonder "what do HN commenters say?" when I get to a news using other routes.

Yes I am a wantrepreneur, if there is such a word. It's pretty cool to (have the perception of) knowing two industries and try to piece them up together.

Didn't think I would see another pharmacist on here. Sounds like you're somewhat into informatics. I got a first year residency that had a PGY2 in informatics. I decided that I'm in too much debt to be collecting that much interest for another two years.

I used to have an interest in programming when I was in undergrad (engineering major), but I started to get out of the 'scene', for lack of a better word after I was accepted into pharmacy school...

I was on reddit way back when programming was a main subreddit and eventually moved to this site when the comments and content when to hell.

I am a doctor working in a pharmaceutical company. I used to code before starting medical school. Still do. Here mostly for the scene, the point of views and the people. I love the posters here and the feeling of community. It motivates me to keep trying new things.

(I count myself as a hacker. I code and maintain a number of (poor quality) projects.)

I'm a Registered Architect working on Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States. I've wanted to be an Architect for as long as I can remember.

I write software(originally PC based and now web based) to make my life easier. I started coding Basic at a very young age. It came naturally to me. I took a C++ class in high school, but aside from that I'm completely self taught.

I'm here because I'm fascinated by the industry and the people. You can't get a better cross section of what is happening in this industry then on this site.

Also, maybe one day I'll develop a product that is useful to me and useful to others. So having some background on start-ups could help, right?

I'm a sound designer who currently works at Shakespeare in the Park, also in NYC. I'm absolutely fascinated by the Hudson yards project. What exactly is your involvement in that project?

> I write software(originally PC based and now web based) to make my life easier.

That sounds cool can you expand?

I'm a researcher I guess. I'm doing my Post-Master's in renewable energy economics and market analysis at a DOE lab. I use Python pretty much every day, so there are plenty of things here that are relevant to my working life. I've just always loved tech, and have a few app and game ideas (like most people) whose many skeletons, design docs, and outlines litter my harddrives and commonplace book. Although I also do spend a fair amount of time reading and writing policy analysis.

I wouldn't consider myself 100% not a hacker though. My weekend list is to get some webscraping done to support a future project, and check out Home Depot for materials to build a cold-brewing setup.

I almost took a position doing something similar. There are some fascinating projects going on at the DOE labs.

I'm a quant trader working at a hedge fund. I write a lot of code, but not in the same way that I think most people here think about code. A lot of it is hacky Matlab scripts to test some new research idea. Some of it is hand-crafted C that implements some numerical routine that we need to call a few billion times. Occasionally I throw something together in Python to do some web scraping or parsing task, but that's becoming rarer nowadays.

I come to HN because I enjoy coding, and the level of discussion is still probably the best out of any online community I know of (excepting a few very specialized ones... the r/haskell community comes to mind).

I'm an economist who builds Fed stress test models for a bank.

But I hack too, it's fun.

What's the most interesting thing you've learned? (Looked up your papers, thanks for publishing!)

That the word "boondock" comes from Tagalog, and likely entered the English lexicon in the early 20th century as a result of the Spanish-American war.

(I'm not sure what aspect of learning you're curious about).

I operate an small non-profit burlesque museum, but I used to work as a manager/lead tech of a IT consulting and training company. I left tech because the stress was making me ill, but I actually miss it.

I would like to hear where your museum is.

If you have any website or else

I'm a geochemistry PhD student working on volcanoes, but I have several website projects, of which climbshare.com is the most recent. HN has alerted me to some useful new web technologies.

Climbshare is wonderful! I've resorted to the Android Photosphere function for capturing entire boulders, but a true 3d model is infinitely better.

I'd love to know if you're doing this with LIDAR, or reconstruction from 2d images.

How would I go about submitting climb data (mostly boulder problems) to your site? What data do you need,and in what formats?

Hey, another geo! I'm guessing you're at New Mexico Tech? (Basing that on the San Lorenzo Unconformity outcrop shown on climbshare... At any rate, you've clearly been out there, even if you're not at NMT.)

On a side note, with climbshare, are you using lidar scans, or are you reconstructing the 3D geometry from photos? Either way, it's quite impressive!

I'm in sales (network monitoring, deep packet inspection and security). I've tried code bootcamps six or seven times, but coding isn't for me, talking is my thing. As you said, the frontpage is the day after tomorrows news in my industry. Just because I read HN, it seems I'm very well informed. Besides that I'm a failed entrepeneur (closed shop after 2 years, now mostly wantrepeneur/idea-guy ;)) and I enjoy reading succes stories of others.

Im a project manager in customer support. I have a science (chemistry/physics/computer science) background, but I never worked with it professionally. The only programming I do is purely casual.

I enjoy reading about new tech and business - I like the mix of that and other general interest stories. Mostly I come here for the comments - I read comments before most articles, and I tend to only read the articles if there is a good discussion around them.

I'm a historian? Maybe? I've taken to calling myself a security anthropologist lately. I study the history of security, talk about it, write about it, think about it endlessly.

I love this community. I've had amazing conversations in the comments and taken a few of those to email or twitter as well. I know that I would eventually see most of what I read here elsewhere, but this is the only place on the internet where I read the comments.

I am an analytical chemist.

Currently I have a company that provides R&D and Manufacture services for salons that want to launch their own label of hair products.

Hello George,

nice to see a chemist, especially one who managed to claim some market share on his own! With hard/wetware, it is not so easy to get your own company going.. and would love to have my own company.

I am a chemist, with a Phd in the field of polymer chemistry, thin films and biomaterials. I did a fair share of small molecule synthesis, polymerizations, simulations and analytics (QPCR, surface plasmons, etc).

PM me, please.

Graduate student who does code but in a non-cs field, I use this site to stay in the know about tech, which has practical value for job interviews.

I'm a neuroscience PhD student, similar deal - I write a lot of code (matlab, python) and find it an enjoyable hobby and potential non-academic career path.

Same, but English literature PhD student keeping an eye on being employable in the future if tenure disappears. Generally find myself writing Python as a hobby or for my dissertation.

I'm in tech, as a sort of sysadmin / strategist, not a developer which based on the HN polls I've seen puts me in a small minority. Though, I'm fast approaching the halfway point of a CS degree as an adult student.

I can't recall exactly how I stumbled on HN, but I stick around for the discussion. I regularly learn things on HN as opposed to merely learning of things as I might with other sharing sites.

I was about to say community instead of discussion above, but I actually have a pretty negative association with that word as it seems to entail a monoculture which HN isn't - at least not in the ways that matter to me.

Specifically, it seems possible to speak freely on HN (for the most part) without being buried or banned in short order.

I was enamored with the heavy startup culture on HN for a while, but what I've gleaned suggests to me that if I'm ever to partake it probably won't be as an employee. If anything, a founder hoping to leverage domain-specific knowledge and personal network in creating a long term business.

I'm a professor of information systems (MIS) and, although I like to think of myself as a hacker, I'm probably not. I was a web developer years ago (1995-2001) and continue to program various things on hobby projects and in my research (some social science simulations in R and Python).

My main teaching is a capstone project course for IS undergrads, which started out as a traditional project management (PMBOK) course, and has evolved into a more practical exploration of software development from version control, to scrum, to testing, to DevOps. Hacker News has been a great source of ideas for what to explore in class.

The worst thing about my job is that I have no time to become really good at anything, instead having to be a dabbler in a hundred different things. (Or maybe that just means I'm a "full stack" guy? Heh.) The best thing about my job is that I have a couple hundred students come through my classes each year, so I can assign them to try these things out and I can see how they work.

I'm not in the software industry per se, but was. Up until last August I was running my own software development company that had just taken a big hit when our biggest client pulled out with no real warning.

Fast forward to today, I'm now a qualified secondary school teacher in the UK, teaching Business, Computing and Japanese. I get the urge to come back to full-time programming from time to time, but genuinely love being out of 'burnout' mode.

I really enjoy coming here because I still love keeping on top of tech and entrepreneur news, want to stay ahead of the curve, and hey, you never know, I might find a company that is looking to 'disrupt' secondary education in a way that I 100% believe in. Haven't seen it yet, but some companies are getting close (Khan Academy, looking at you!).

It also keeps me from spiraling into my "I'm not doing enough!" mentality that I have for myself, and inspires the wantrepreneur side of me.

Product designer / engineer - having said that I have been writing software as a hobby since I was about 7 or 8 years old (I'm 35 now). I see knowing about software, electronics and "technology" as a general knowledge, in the same way that I can speak and read.

Hacker News is a fantastic community, filled with rational, clever and moderate contributors who write stuff which is a a pleasure to read and learn from.

The rest of the popular web seems in thrall by the new stuff and doesn't see things quite so rationally. Its not easy to pull the wool over the eyes of the HN crowd. I love that kind of interaction, where people have a level of understanding that allows genuine technical merit to be apparent.

My new full time job is designing machines to keep sick people alive whilst their bodies are repaired. Something I'd never thought of doing 10 months ago when I worked in consultancy.

I'm a physics PhD student, working on experimental quantum computing. My day-to-day work varies a huge amount, but can generally consist of cleanroom nanofabricaton, circuit design, data processing, machining, and experimental design.

I consider consumer technology one of my hobbies, and hackernews lets me keep up with the latest trends in software engineering. I've always been particularly fascinated with technological forces that can have big impacts on the world at large, and new uses/trends in software have played a huge role in that. I like to think that hackernews keeps me grounded to what's the latest and greatest in the world where the "big things" can impact people on a much shorter timescale than the work I currently do. I plan to go into the tech industry when I graduate, and I'm highly considering an internship next summer.

I'm here because I find the various news and discussions about assorted programming languages fascinating. I often find, either posted directly to the site or in the comments, new resources which help me learn more about the languages and technologies I either use or have a passing interest in. A happy side effect is that I gain an understanding of what my numerous friends who make their living by programming are talking about!

I don't particularly care about startups, but then, the beauty of this site is that I don't have to! There's enough here that I find myself perusing the RSS feed and culling stories that, if I had enough time available, I might be interested in. For those articles that I do select, however, I usually read through the associated comment threads, as I find the various opinions and clarifications most enlightening!

I'm a chemical engineer, working on my PhD currently. My research is in molecular dynamics (I get to use supercomputers like Titan), so I learn a lot about high-performance computing and programming from HN. Really though, I like this site for the high-quality discourse compared to other websites.

I've never had a tech job. Right now, I don't even have a job. I had always worked in service fields - my last 8 years or so was spent as a supervisor in a pharmacy. Right now, I moved across an ocean and start language/civics classes next week. I guess I'm a student, then?

I read here because I am interested in technology. I like to see where things are headed. I see hope in many of the articles and have strange future views (spouse got me interested in the Singularity movement... 30 years, they say). I have considered starting a business, and can apply much of the things I read.

Also, I find the site interesting. The articles work for me. And I'm not all that scared to read the comments - I don't often lose a little hope for humanity when I read them because the community has a brain :)

Another PhD student, in computational neuroscience (modeling of thalamocortical circuits). The difference between the level of code-sharing and code community between general purpose software and scientific software is just astounding. In computational neuro-modeling at least (as opposed to very intensive bio-analysis like genomics), there's incredibly little sharing of code or interchangeability, outside of [ModelDB](http://senselab.med.yale.edu/ModelDB/), although I've heard systems biology-modeling (like with CellML) is in a better state.

I love this site for many reasons, e.g. searching "site:ycombinator.com <search term>" is one of the best sources of finding modern opinions on languages, libraries, the state of coding in certain places, and most of all some of the best opinions on what can act as good introductory materials on anything software/langs (in addition to stackoverflow).

It's nice to have a finger on different tech scenes and where people, sometimes, are willing to call each other on BS. Oppositely, it's cool to see posts about a product/service and see that the actual company actively responds to comments here in a lively fashion.

One of the biggest reasons for me has been seeing whenever's the occasional open academia article or movement starting to spawn, whether it be open access, open data (e.g. [dat](http://dat-data.com/)), or my favorite, open code. There's an unbelievable amount of reinventing the software wheel that goes on with a ton of PhDs, and the FOSS community proves that doesn't have to be the case. Trying to take the lessons it's learned to the sphere of science is something that an increasing amount of people are thankfully interested in, and this site is one of the only ways I've heard about initiatives in that regard - most notably, [Mozilla Science Lab](http://mozillascience.org/)

I'm working on innovation in education as part of a small team working independently within a moderately large organization. I ended up here while reading about different lean startup methods. I dabble in client-side coding to make some prototypes, but certainly don't consider myself a programmer or hacker (unless you count the times I ferociously enter passwords in a sad attempt to obtain access to our own systems).

I get stories and perspective. I love reading a story, having my own take, then jumping in the comments to see how others view the same information. There are so many lessons I would rather learn from someone else rather than from my own experience...that's why I'm here.

Also, thanks for posting something I am qualified to answer, it prompted me to finally stop lurking.

I'm a pathologist. I code for a hobby. Building a software product slowly in my spare time.

I'm a high schooler/coder, but I like to think of myself as a hacker. I dropped by to make the case that being in the software industry and being a 'hacker' are not correlated very strongly. The hacker culture revolves around code because the culture likes code, but the culture itself has a deeper significance than the ability to make a photo-sharing site or something. See http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/meaning-of-hack.html

Anyhow, for the sake of adding to discussion: I browse HN for the interesting links, especially reading others' blogs, and the distinct lack of memes you find on other link-sharing sites like Reddit.

I'm an artist (well, a student really) with an interest in mathematics and computer science abstractions. I like to create work related to and inspired by technology. Given how important these fields of knowledge have become I believe that creating artwork from them is an important way to reflect on the state of contemporary society. I guess I do consider myself a bit of a hacker (I design my own circuit boards and write my own software for my projects), but I'm not really affiliated with the tech community outside of the internet and mostly hang out with other artists.

edit: I guess it kind of goes without saying, but what I get out of HN in particular is a combination of keeping my foot in technology and reading interesting news.

I'am part a hypnotist, performer , fire breather , bouncer, and part tech guy and other jobs notably as a fixer in the underground in paris.

For me a hacker is someone who see something and want to mod it , dig in it. A hacker is someone who is curious and is active and don't take things for what they are given for. And a hacker is also someone who doubt. There are mechanical hacker, even grandma tips are hack for me. So it would be more relevant to ask who is not a tech guy. Or consider himself / herself a techguy.

Hn give me interesting inside and news. And it's always good to be on the edge than other people on different subject. I always have one day or two in advance for the news to other people thanks to HN.

I'm an experimental physics PhD student. I'm not much of a coder, but I'd probably consider myself a hardware hacker. I'm interested in finding a job in high-tech product R&D and enjoy learning about the startup community.

I guess I'm on the fringe of the tech industry. I work as a systems analyst in the IT department of a logistics company.

My primary job is not to write code or develop applications, but being able to write scripts and small utility applications really comes in handy when analyzing data. I write lots and lots of SQL and regular expressions for work, I do tons of grepping / sedding and am quite comfortable with bash, but I don't consider that coding.

Programming is also as a hobby for me, I have some side projects which are mostly Python and JS stuff, and a little Java. I also have an interest in functional languages. So there's loads of interesting content for me hear.

I'm an evolutionary biologist - using bioinformatics and genomics tools to understand how genes underly the evolution of social behavior evolves in ants and bees [http://yannick.poulet.org]. Doing this definitely requires a lot of hacking. Some of us call it genome hacking. Now I'm at Queen Mary U London since 2.5 years where I've been given the opportunity to start my own research lab.

I read HN because starting up a research lab is similar to starting a company (team size; project focus; use of cutting edge tech for analysis, development & collaboration).

I'm an acoustical consultant. I mainly work with architects during the design and construction of schools, offices, and other public spaces. If you're in northwest US and work for a large tech firm, chances are someone in my group has worked on your space--designing interior acoustic environments and keeping obtrusive noises out.

I'm also a wantrepreneur with a vision to create better calculation tools for architectural acoustics and noise control. I enjoy seeing new JS libraries on here that help fill in those puzzle pieces and reading the perspectives of others on political and cultural topics.

I'm a 16 year old kid in Sydney who's just finishing school. The extend of my "Hacking" is a few small Java/C programs that I write when I need to do something, and don't want to do it by hand.

I'm a hacker, as in I'm employed in Information Security. The other use for the word "hacker". I spend much of my days doing pentests, malware study, and forensic analysis for a multi-national. Lately, with some inspiration from HN, I've started into Python to replace or augment what little I script in Bash to help with my work.

I was drawn here because of the name, became disappointed that it was hacking in the sense of coding, stayed because I have nothing better to read. Since Paul Graham has his own forums, I wish Bruce Schneier or Brian Krebs had their own for people like me.

I'm just interested in people who are interested in things, if that makes sense.

I dabble in a variety of things... was generally into technology all my life (at various times being light or heavy into programming, hardware, software, any number of things); have a degree in math; work as an editor; freelance doing technical helpdesk work for Wordpress plugins; and just generally like reading new things and hearing from smart people, which is why I'm here.

Also, I've read HN for a couple years now, and this thread is the first one that prompted me to comment. I've really enjoyed reading it!

I've been in IT since 1999 or so, when the high school I was attending recognized my skills and hired me on as a part of a student lead admin team. Myself and 4-5 friends ran the network with a single adult sysadmin. Since then I have branched out to linux admin in my spare time, but have only worked in MS shops. I'm currently working for a propane company as their windows admin and helpdesk monk.. guy.

I don't know a line of code, know a bit of security, but am always interested in how things work and what kind of WiFi is being run in my neighborhood, so I consider myself a hacker.

I'm a PhD student, doing research in fundamental theoretical physics. My tastes are eclectic (my undergrad degree was in electrical engineering), so among other things I'm interested in FOSS, computer science, tech and random bits of news and worthy reading material that pops up on HN. I'm also mildly interested in the culture in startups and how skilled workers motivate themselves and bootstrap -- I guess a lot of such soft knowledge would translate to a wide variety of situations (eg: academic research).

And oh, did I forget to mention the static-blog-generator-pr0n? :P

Statistician by title, more of a project manager supervising data collection on a large scale. I aspire to code, mostly like this site because there is interesting material and reddit feels always the same.

I'm a lawyer, with a split practice between IP lit and tech trans, and tried some modest entrepreneurial ventures pre-law school that ended up failing, and I read HN for largely the same reasons.

HN is a fascinating place to read where I can get my daily share of IT wisdom. IT development is shaping a big part of the world we live and it is important to see how everything evolves.

I have a small translation/localization company in the middle on Japan and I use as much free software as I can and try to promote them the most I can in the translation community. I learned a bit of basic, pascal, assembly in the 80's and when programming your calculator was the coolest thing you could do in High School.

not sure if there is a community (at the moment?), but there is a wealth of under-the-radar type stuff which is interesting for those outside of the biz (i.e. military).

there seems to be about a 60/40 split between straight tech/programming stuff and more general/non-technical information in a pleasantly-mixed churn. i find HN to be a good motivator to look at other fields through a "hacker" lens and think in an architectural/programming/entrepreneurial/system-level manner.

I started reading this 4-5 years ago when I was an investment banker. It's a genuine source for information and I like that.

Since then I've taught myself to code and founded a startup.

I work in technical production and fabrication for a sports marketing agency. We build unique consumer experiences for our major sportswear client. I look to HN for ideas and inspiration that I can use to fill the gap from ideas to implementation. For example gamification of a shoe try on experience, to show the consumer the performance of the product. HN is my go to for a way to pass meetings. Always interested in collaborating if anyone has any ideas in this domain.

I'm a math prof, my research is in applied & computational math, mainly dynamical systems and numerical methods. I do a fair bit of coding in my work (and studied CS/AI as an undergrad before getting PhD in math), and am interested in many of the topics that get posted here -- programming languages, technology & society, advances in the sciences, etc. I also have many friends in the software industry, and have a passing interest in startup culture.

I'm an applied mathematician, working on my PhD at the moment. I do a good deal of programming(HPC) but I wouldn't consider myself quite at the level of a hacker.

I'm an economics professor. I have to program for my research, my hobby is studying programming languages, and entrepreneurship is pretty important for the economy.

I'm a fan of economic professors.

I'm a structural engineer (PhD sounds awkward to say but seems relevant here) doing research on buildings and earthquakes/fires. I have always been competent/interested in programming style hacking, but resistant to moving away from the physical engineering world too much.

I hang around HN because I am interested in the hacking/innovation mindset that is popular here especially as it could be tied into the structural/mechanical world.

I'm a recent high school graduate. I got turned on to this by my comp sci teacher, I'll be going to university in a week for computer science, so I'm bending the rules because I'm not in the software industry yet.

I totally agree with A, B, and C, but I also really enjoy just the interesting articles I wouldn't find elsewhere. Here I can actually learn as opposed to school (Can I use that as a verb? I can break the rules if I want!).

Masters student doing botany/pedology.

Here because of reason A from OP, but also because I am always keeping an eye out for new tools I can use for data analysis in my thesis.

Biz dev / creative marketing guy here. Startup co-founder and consultant. Absolutely love this place...skip the super technical threads because marketing.

I do continuous improvement projects (using Green Belt Six Sigma training) in my day job.

Trying to get a travel focused startup off the ground (http://www.planitwide.com).

Been fascinated with all things tech for a while and am constantly in awe of people who can build stuff. I also firmly believe that inspiration comes from the most random sources and HN fits the bill for both of these things.

I've tried to be a programmer a couple of times. Now I can blame mitigating factors, but frankly, I think it's likely I won't go back.

I'm mostly an office worker and make crafts at home that I sell online - most boring daytime endeavour yet. I too am a "wantrepreneur" and I'm thinking of getting something started soon. Nothing "tech" though.

From the community, I get a surprising amount of non-tech/hacker news, stories and comments and new insights about life and work that I didn't imagine otherwise.

Online Marketing Manager. Marketing and advertising stuff here can be pretty useful. Mostly I stay for the decently intelligent discussion.

I actually work in arts and entertainment! You can see the most recent project that I managed here: http://artalliance.com

So why would someone artistically-minded come to HN? Because the world is changing--in law, in technology, etc. And being on top of that is ALWAYS helpful, especially with such a knowledgeable community.

There are many definitions of hacker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Hacker_Manifesto

Wark defines hacking 'as an “abstraction”, the construction of different and unrelated matters into previously unrealized relations. Hackers produce new conceptions, perceptions and sensations hacked out of raw data. Everything and anything is a code for the hacker to hack, be it “programming, language, poetic language, math, or music, curves or colourings” [3] and once hacked, they create the possibility for new things to enter the world. What they create is not necessarily “great”, or “even good”, but new, in the areas of culture, art, science, and philosophy or “in any production of knowledge where data can be extracted from it.” Wark argues that (new) information comes from the hack. It doesn’t matter if you are a computer programmer, a philosopher, a teacher, a musician, a physicist, if you essentially produce new information - it’s a hack [1]. In this sense, hackers are creators and they bring new ideas into the world. The aim of the book is to highlight the origins, purpose and efforts by this emerging hacker class, who produce new; concepts, perceptions, and sensations out of the stuff of raw data.'

I've literally never heard a musician , mathematician or engineer refer to themselves as a "hacker" or anyone outside of computing for that matter.

A jazz musician might easily fit the definition of a hacker, but still might be more likely to describe him/herself as "a cat who can blow".

Neither have I, but I find myself recognizing hacker traits in musicians, mathematicians, lawyers, chefs, spangers, legislators, tech recruiters, modern bohemians, and grant writers.

These are all people that reason about systems. The systems and the tools vary, but the process doesn't.

But is it reasonable to term it "hacking", there's a certain arrogance in trying to apply one's own wording in a way that suggests a particular type of person (a particular type of programmer) as the ideal.

When lawyers start coming up to us and saying "I see what you did there!", let's ask them what they call it. :) Meanwhile...

Actually, the closest term I've come across personally is "systems thinking". (A phrase with its own splendid, storied history, by the way!)

You will soon. This itself is a hack ;)

I am in procurement and warehouse management in the oil and gas industry.

I don't really know why I'm here. I worked with Kale for several years and found him to be an interesting redneck. His actual name is Cooter, which he prefers to be called. Most of this stuff is over my head, but I do find interesting things to read from time to time.

I'm an industrial-organizational psychologist. I design selection systems, HR programs designs at affecting outcomes (like attrition) and do the data analysis relevant to those ends.

An HR guy* and a social scientist! I could make an easy punching bag.

*More on the strategy and data-analysis end, less on administration. I barely know what HR Generalists do.

I am putting together a site that catalogs all the benefits a company can offer their employees, can I run it by you to see what you think?

Nuclear engineer by formal education, mostly self-taught in the realm of computing. Enough to get an internship at Cisco during college. Here for all the same reasons OP is, with the addition that the community is by far one of the most enriching and rewarding to be a part of, even if I wind up lurking most of the time.

MBA-to-be here. I am into computers since early childhood. Mainly, I enjoy topics on Programming (especially python), Linux and entrepreneurship even though chances are I'll always suck at the first two items (though I am good enough to use them as "secret weapons" occasionally) and never do the latter.

I'm a business analyst for large office furniture manufacturer. I have an interest in the startup culture and enjoy trying out new technologies. This site gives me the chance to be an early adopter for many new technologies. While also providing me insights on all things that are a part of the hacker life.

Non technical startup founder. Used to write PHP for a living and now I spend all day in (interesting) meetings.

I am an epidemiologist -- currently working as a research director in academia and spending most of my time working in R. I originally got on here to look at a project my brother had done. I stay on because I find it very interesting to see how the tech crowd interprets health and population studies.

I am 32 and in Software Sales. I am busting my butt to get into the software industry through coursera, edx, udacity, books and side projects. I come here for learning resources that are often posted and to keep my ear to the ground on what is happening in the tech/start up space.

Evil corporate lawyer.... love code, algorithms, new tech, and insightful commentary. HATE advertising.

I bounce around back and forth in and out of the software industry. I haven't really been a hacker for at least a decade. When I'm in the software industry it's usually more as some kind of management role.

I'm usually here for the news and generally high quality discussion.

software isn't an industry, it's a way of life.

I'm a sound engineer, working mainly in Indie film with some electronic music and instrument design on the side. Working in film requires wearing a lot of hats so I'm conversant with most aspects of film development/production. Also, frustrated law student.

Copywriter. Long time lurker. Interested in startups and online business models and strategy.

I'm an IT director with a focus on the digital workplace & advanced tech R&D (e.g. flying quadcopters around a factory to do real time process inspections). So, not the software industry, but still a lot of software stuff.

Former Product Manager. Currently a strategy consultant in IT space. On my way into bootstrapping something and HN gives me the inspiration, knowledge etc., Also, looking to get back into Product Management someday.

I'm a senior scientist at a biotech company. I do engage in some software development now, but my formal training is as a bench scientist. I read HN because I enjoy the intelligent topics and conversations.

Finance / Acquisitions guy... I'm like 3M.. I don't make things but I can make things better.. Can't code a lick but understand how to develop frameworks into profit generating entities.

What kind of companies/entities do you work with?

I study psychology. I have a masters in computer science and I am amazed every day anew how much of my old skill is very usefull within other domains. I don't label myself a hacker.

I'm an recent high school graduate. I come here because, despite high test scores, I don't know what I want to do with my life, and I feel like being here might help me.

You don't have to decide what to do with your life you know. In fact, you kinda can't. Sure, you might decide something now, but then 20-year-old you could just as easily say "Well, fuck it. I'm going to drive across the country and marry her."

Suppose you had 2 years, what would you want to do? What would you want to have done and set yourself up to do?

What do you like? What was the most exciting thing you did in the last two years?

Hmm. I have a hard time naming specifics. I enjoy math when I understand it, but I have the hardest time in Calculus of any of my classes. I was near the best in my class in Biology and Chemistry but I didn't really enjoy them- if I did I probably would have gone to the larger UC than the smaller liberal arts school I'm going to attend. Everything else was a mixed bag. I enjoy writing when it's on something I'm interested about, I dislike it when it's rote, but what I'm interested in is usually fleeting. That tends to apply to motivation too. I can get aroused for a lot of work in one case, and in another similar case I can't be bothered.

I guess my favorite piece of work in the last two years was a project in regular economics. We were divided into groups and ordered to create a business model in report style. We created Fatoline.

Fatoline was dreamed up in response to an unsustainable America. This unsustainability is rooted in the suburban commute lifestyle- people drive everywhere, consuming vast amounts of gasoline and gaining weight. The Fatoline company has two public fronts, its liposuction service and its gasoline service. We take the fatty liposuctioned tissue, put it through some huge centrifuges, introduce some modified lipases (modified through science magic) and heat and boom, we have gasoline, which is sold through our other front. This keeps the automobiles running, the people skinny, and keeps the suburban structure of the U.S. stable. Only now, instead of nasty foreign oil coming in, we have the wholesome, local fat-conversion company keeping our lifestyle afloat.

Unfortunately, after crunching the numbers, it turned out that for this system to work, each person would have to produce some obscene amount of fat each year, somewhere in the thousands or ten thousands. No matter though. Once we figure out how to get people to be able to get that big, the dream is definitely alive.

I guess I liked the project because it involved a little bit of everything.

I'm a legal assistant for a mid-size law firm that mostly caters to other small- and medium-sized businesses. I basically just enjoy the topics discussed here.

I'm a student.I come here for passing the time.

Just a digital marketer here (and twice failed entrepreneur). Still looking for the one that will solve a real and profitable problem.

Just wanted to give thanks to the OP for posting this :)

I never dreamed of the response that I got, so glad for HN. Thanks to everyone who responded :)

I'm not sure why I missed this thread; it's almost literally made for me ;-)

I'm not a hacker but I'm here today because.... I sell SaaS. I work in aviation, which on the commercial side of the organization is as enthusiast-driven and fly-by-the-seat of the pants hacky as tech companies (but with suits). I'm interested in alternative finance - more as a to get money to people that most need it than out of any delusional desire to get rich off it - and have a degree in economics. I built my first website in 2000 but my side projects exist more in my head than in source control. I like to write, but don't blog, not least because I've a sneaking suspicion the sum total of all the time spent by all the visitors to my blog would be less than the time I spent writing it. Nobody is reading this either :). I even read sometimes read articles on the joy of Clojure or Go or Haskell and try to understand why people get excited about monads. I have a latent* desire to start a startup, and went to a startup meet yesterday to deny being interested in starting a startup

HN is a fascinating place mainly because it is one of the most diverse communities of incredibly intelligent people on the web.

The level of discourse is usually high while covering a very broad range of subjects. Subject specific communities still exceed HN competency in their respective domains, but nowhere that I've found covers such a diverse range of topics with a relatively high competence.

Unfortunately there are still some very obvious biases regarding certain subjects, but at least the community entertains other points of view.

Although I'm an engineer by training, HN has led me to explore many domains to which I wouldn't otherwise have been exposed. Furthermore, there are some incredible individuals here who I'd never run into otherwise, and discussions with them are extremely satisfying.

Overall a great community, though sometimes limited by the bias of its origins.

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