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Show HN: Meet me, I'll buy you coffee (letstalkover.coffee)
427 points by milesokeefe on Nov 11, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 199 comments

I have to say, as someone twice your age, I'm humbled by how many projects you've put out there. Sure, a lot of them are small and simple, but there's something to be said for just doing stuff. I spend too much time agonizing over whether my ideas are good enough, big enough, will make me money, etc. I'd probably learn more and have more fun if I allowed myself the freedom to do small interesting projects without any expectation of what they'll turn into.....

This is something that as someone in my early 20s is trying to fix. I know a lot of people who don't like to work on projects or open source them because they're afraid of being judged and a feeling that everyone is watching you (this is an emotion I had tackled for a while). Once you realize that there aren't many people looking at your projects (if any), and that those who are, will actually help you, is when you start doing more.

This reminds me of two quotes:

- “Fail faster.”

- "If you're going to make a mistake, make it LOUD so we can hear it and correct it."

Yeah, I feel the same way. I realised recently that if I'd spent even a couple of days working on every idea I've had and given up on, I'd know a hell of a lot more than I do today.

I love it! It's interesting, inviting, and shows great initiative.

I don't live in the bay area, but next visit I'll make sure to put this on my schedule.

2 pieces of feedback:

"See more about me here." doesn't do you justice. I didn't even notice it, but I found your website from your hn profile. Once I visited your site, you went from "mildly interesting" to "must meet". Is there some way to make the link to your site more prominent, perhaps with a mini-graphic of your front page a little higher up.

I know this may sound controversial, but "Here's my offer: I buy you a coffee..." and "Free" actually turn me off a little. I've heard this so many times now, I'm practically immune to it. You obviously have much to offer without buying coffee. Anyone should be happy to spend time with you without that. You may actually want to reconsider that offer to stand out from the crowd of posers (who you are obviously not a part of) and allow yourself to stand on your own merits. Don't sell yourself short. You clearly don't need to pay to meet interesting people in the bay area. Something to think about.

Best wishes on this and on your move, Miles. Looking forward to hearing great things about you and hopefully having coffee (dutch treat) soon someday.

I stole the concept from tg3 who made this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6674987

Don't worry though, I got his blessing before making this site.

Never, ever say you stole the concept. Inspired, motivated, encouraged - perhaps?

Especially since you got his blessing!!

I didn't downvote, but one possible reason: you didn't explain why using the verb "steal" is such a big no-no.

Fair point.

- (I think!!) you didn't steal it! My gut says to me you were inspired or motivated or something else. But didn't stolen

- You said you got permission. To me, you don't steal & ask permission

- But the biggest one for me is that you downplay / sell yourself short! Its deprecating and doesn't serve you. In my experience in software, there are plenty of jealous / insecure / destructive people willing to put you down. Don't play into that game!

What you've done is very clever. The concept, + website + the TLD (*.coffee - didn't know that existed)

It's well done!

I don't know who down-voted you but I'd say the word:impact ratio on this comment is particularly high. Gems like this can have a big impact on a young person's career.

Not sure if I've done something wrong here. I've feel like I've been downvoted a few times for innocent remarks.

(I think we are agreeing!)

What should I have said / done?

Nothing. It's a good comment. Sometimes good comments get downvoted initially. It looks like yours recovered into the positive range at least. Try not to take downvotes (especially early ones) personally. It's impossible to induce everyone to take pithy comments in particular exactly the way you intend.

Did you two meet for coffee (perhaps twice, once for each of your sites)?

We haven't yet, I got in touch with him and made the site before I moved to the bay area so it wasn't possible at the time.

But that would be appropriate! I'll try to make it happen.

Thanks for making this comment. The cynic in my was like "I've seen this on hackernews before" but this comment shut up that jerk inside my head.

It's a good idea!

The form at the bottom is a little confusing for several reasons.

1) You say things like "Here's my offer: I buy you a coffee" and "Tell me about your..." but then the form is all "I'm ________ and I'll meet you ______". Notice the change in who I and you refer to?

2) Adding to the confusing of #1, you have an email address placeholder that is not very obviously a placeholder. It is your.email@gmail.com but what if that is actually your gmail account. Perhaps using the classic something@example.com would make it a little more obvious that it is placeholder. It kind of looks like you have put your own email address since this I'm is you if they were all consistent in this section... but they aren't. This is a classic conundrum of web design. (ie, should a site use "your cart" or "my cart" in the nav?)

Having said that, I work in Berkeley and could probably meet up some day. I don't drink coffee though.

I tried to offer a constructive critique for a "Show HN". I sincerely apologize to the offended party. :/

I appreciate the feedback! You can shrug off those downvotes.

You're welcome. Welcome to Berkeley and good luck.

And I don't care about the downvote itself. There are plenty of cases where I know what I'm writing is going to be downvoted because that is what people do to other people with opposing opinions on certain topics. But I am baffled by them when I truly have absolutely no clue about why.

There's a lot of folks in this thread that are posting "go to school" comments without knowing a whole lot about you. I'm sure that from their perspective it's the obvious best advice. I am commenting to say that people who have invested the most valuable years of their life in school tend to spend the rest of their lives hunting for evidence that they made a great decision.

The simple fact is that their answers are more about their own confirmation bias than giving actionable advice.

While it's true that lots of successful people went to college, the simple fact that you taught yourself to code and you're hanging out on Hacker News puts you into a completely different category than 99.9% of people that don't go to college.

I've seen people talk here about ROI on degrees and "the path" and what makes a good student. I've seen far less about how people are highly unlikely to know what they should be doing with the rest of their lives right out of high school. That there's so much focus on 18 year olds paying crazy tuition to get a piece of paper that proves they attended some generic lectures on a generic subject is criminal.

Anyhow, I'm ranting. I'm projecting. I didn't go to college and I have been very successful. It's because I decided early on to feed my intellectual curiosity and give myself permission to fall in love with things that themselves lead to other things. It's way more important that you learn about music and travel and optimize for interesting than push your square peg through a round hole.

That's not to say that you won't ever go. But if you don't think this is the right time, then you are the best person to know that. Just don't be idle; try to imagine that your life will be a series of well executed five year plans.

Don't let yourself get burnt out along the way, it sucks.

What I recommend is that you join a startup and work there for about a year. Then get the hell out of California for a year; I recommend that you go work at a startup in Berlin or Amsterdam for a year. Get a global perspective.

Hacker News is an incredible resource, but it's also really full of people that buy into a California tech ideology that can be self-limiting. It's just one of many lenses through which you can see the world.

Good luck; I'm really excited for you. Just remember: no person has ever been on their deathbed and thought, "man... I wish I'd made fewer interesting decisions".

I thought this was like a match-making service which would pair up people quasi-randomly who lived in the same city.

Is there anything like this? Sets up blind meets / dates with people with similar passions?

I don't know. I'd definitely sign up for a "Meetup with 3-4 random people at coffeehouse in Seattle" thing.

Then you'll love Tea With Strangers (http://teawithstrangers.com) – we're coming to Seattle soon!

random note: because of the favicon I think that you mean the Earl Grey kind of tea, but mentioning a two hour commitment makes me not quite sure that you aren't a British guy saying Dinner.

Signed up!

Same, I also thought it randomly picked a user when you opened the page.

This sounds like YC-worthy idea. Somebody run with it!

HackerCupid when.

Just launched, similar idea for lunch: http://colunchers.com

EDIT: whoa, take it easy, don't overload my VPS instance :-)

EDIT2: fine, I'll do my own Show HN here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8592812

What does clicking "Let's meet" do? I clicked it to find out and it said "Message sent, thanks! I look forward to meeting you."

I, too, look forward to meeting you! But that probably won't happen. Good luck with your experiment, though.

Also, a few things to remember: You're much more valuable than your first employers would have you believe. Don't let that go to your head. Do go to university. I know how eager you are, having been in that position myself, but it's a mistake to drop out of one of the most effective social networks ever devised by humankind. Go for the social experience and the social doors it opens. If you're still not convinced, take a hard look at the background of all of the YC partners and realize that all of them seem to have attended some good schools. While you can make it without university, and you can lead a happy life and do whatever you want and be in the upper 1% of quality of life across all of humanity without attending university, you only get one chance to choose not to follow "The Path," which is high school -> good university (undergrad) -> better university (graduate student) -> learn how to be around rich people and convince them of your way of thinking. Normal people who don't attend university simply don't get this opportunity. Specifically, the opportunity to test out what works and what doesn't, socially, with wealthy people. Why is this important? Well, if you want to do something big, and you don't have any money, wealthy people are by definition the only ones who can help you. Even at absurdly high salaries, it's very hard to save up money to do something that involves hiring other people. Possible, but difficult. So where do you turn? Investors, of course. Except, crap, they're wealthy, and you have no idea how to be around them as equals. But wait, you attended university, and so maybe they have some shared ground with you... Hm, nope, you didn't. Well, of course, your website demonstrates traction, and traction is what matters to an investor. But what else do investors care about? Your team. Where (or whether) you went to university says a lot about you, fortunately or unfortunately.

Really, there's no reason not to go. Make some reasonably intelligent decisions and you'll have a great time while getting the debt paid off in a reasonable timeframe.

But if you don't go, you may find you'll want to later but never really get the opportunity. Not in the way you once had. Once you depart from The Path, you'll have to beat your way back onto it, surmounting bills and work and all kinds of annoying stuff that people fresh out of highschool don't really have to worry about just yet.

Speaking of bills and debt: whatever you do, don't get into credit card debt. Don't get into credit card debt! I can't emphasize this enough. It's so tempting, but just don't.

Do use a credit card though. Just pay it off every month. Otherwise you may not be able to get services (internet, phone, whatever) at a new apartment, or buy a car. Had it happen to me once, and it sucks. No credit history = unknown risk = "I'm sorry but we will never do business with you."

Kind of an awkward place to end a ramble, but whatever. Maybe some of the ideas might be useful.

Maybe consider leveraging this particular experiment to help you attend one of the local top-tier universities as an undergrad. Ask people if they have any advice on this, and maybe you'll find someone who could help with the admissions process. Who you know matters more than what your highschool history was like, so maybe some strings could be pulled somewhere.

I personally think it depends and here is why:

For me University was my biggest mistake ever and if I could turn the clock around, I would not go to university. It took my most energetic and creative years and put them into useless work. I spent 6 years in University because I started in a terrible one and had to leave and go to Canada to get better education and still I think the University that I went to was terrible and ended up eating all my money, energy and time for a completely useless degree that no one even cares about. My degree was in Software Engineering and I believe if it was something else, it would have been 10 times worse. Maybe I could have used University to build a great Network but due to my introvert nature, I don't think I have succeeded and besides the city where I was in had an ok network.

So all that to say that it depends in my opinion: If you are an introvert and your goal is to be a doctor, a lawyer, a physicist or a researcher or anything similar then University is a great choice. If you are however an introvert and only care about making cool stuffs then be prepared that school will take most of your time and energy and put it into something that has no value or meaning. If you are an extrovert and your goal is to be an entrepreneur then take a major that doesn’t require much work and spend your time building networks and making stuffs.

That’s the way I see it, I may be wrong but my personal life experience has led me to believe that.

University was a pretty big waste of 8 years for me as well.. Some people are just better at learning on their own, and with the number of online resources available, many of them from top-tier universities providing better instruction that you are likely to get at a lower-tier university, I don't think university is the right choice for many aspiring software developers.

I just don't understand you guys - I'm an introvert, and University exposed me to concepts and ideas I NEVER would have sought out on my own. And through that process I was introduced to people I NEVER would have met otherwise. Would I have met people just as awesome as the people I did meet, if I didn't go to school? Maybe, but judging from my friends in high school who didn't take "The Path", I think the answer is no.

I never would have written an OS kernel, I never would have built an ALU (and gained the deeper understanding of computer architecture as a result.) I never would have learned anything about AI.

Can I do those things, without going to school? Yes, absolutely. But I wouldn't have done it, and that's the point. Would I have met awesome mentors without university? Maybe, but maybe not. And the best part is I didn't even have to go out of my way to try and force it to happen. Going to university, it just happened because of who I am (a geek, smart, and a person who cares about good results.) It didn't matter that I was socially awkward, my work spoke for itself and others came to me.

Graduate work is something I never continued on to; once having my bachelor's, I went ahead and charged into Industry. And I'm totally, 100% OK with that choice.

So it makes me wonder - what were you doing for 8 years?

That is why I specified it depends, it depends on personalities, the school, your goals in life and much more. My university for instance was terrible, I think I have spent 30% of my time filling out lab reports because they were so many! Took many courses that made no sense and that I had no interests in. I think perhaps 10 Software Engineering courses were plain repetition, some professors didn't even speak English nor knew what the heck was going on, We didn't get the chance to code much, most concepts were outdated, The network opportunity was very poor, I can keep going lool. I actually had to unlearn many things when I started working.

I'm a type of person that likes to get information and knowledge only when needed so it made absolutely no sense to learn stuffs and fill my head with knowledge without having a specific goal to reach. If my goal was to build an OS, then I would read about OS Kernels and start experimenting otherwise it's irrelevant to me.

For my personality, my goals in life and much more, school was a complete waste and a big regret. So suggesting it to someone else without knowing their goals or personality is dangerous because it could ruin them like it did to many.

I'm not necessarily an introvert, but I didn't gain anything from attending university that helped my career in anyway (besides the CS bachelors degree, which is arguable). I spent 8 years attending school part-time while working in the service-industry. I did very little extracurricular programming, because I was busy with my classes and work. When I graduated (from a mediocre school, with less than a strong GPA), I learned that my degree was not very helpful, and I hadn't learned any of the things that are actually used in the industry.

I've spent the 2 years since graduation teaching myself whatever has caught my interest, and have learned way more applicable to the majority of entry-level/junior-level jobs than I ever did in school.

Did you go to a 'top-tier' school? If so, I'm sure your experience was much different, as the online classes I've taken provided by schools such as Stanford and UC Berkeley have been orders of magnitude better than the ones I took in school.

I did not attend a top-tier school, but I did attend a new school with something to prove. I feel like I got a great education. (University of Northern British Columbia, by the way.)

Same here, really. Although I intentionally avoided most of the non-critical CS classes. I too wrote an OS kernel and all of that, but I made sure to take as many political science, economics, and sociology courses as I could. Learning tech is fine and all, but becoming a well-rounded person is what a degree at a decent (not great, not expensive) school did for me.

Plus, there were girls outside of the CS classes. That didn't hurt.

>What does clicking "Let's meet" do? I clicked it to find out and it said "Message sent, thanks! I look forward to meeting you."

Sorry about that. It's hypocritical of me to implement a system like this instead of just showing my email address. I actually wrote a blog post about why you shouldn't do what I did with this website:


>I, too, look forward to meeting you! But that probably won't happen.

There's a good chance that would've been true had you not made this comment :)

I hope to meet everyone I receive an email from but to be honest I did not expect this to get so much attention. I am used to my projects getting very little to no visitors.


I started typing a long response to this explaining the circumstances around my decision but I've decided against it.

The bottom line is that I've made the decision to not go to university and I'm perfectly happy with that. Not being in college doesn't mean I can't still learn, it just means I have to teach myself, which is what I've always done and will continue to do. People may judge me based on my lack of college degree, I am at peace with that.

Surprisingly, my father is a professor and my mother is a university director, and yet they both support me in what I'm doing. My mother wrote about her feelings on the matter here if you're curious: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthoo...

Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts, I'd love to go over the details with you in person.

>credit card...

The day I turned 18, I signed a lease for an apartment and got a secured credit card, which I use exactly the same as I would a debit card. I still need to get a second credit card to help continue building my credit but I definitely got started as soon as I could.

My credit could be better, but there's not much more than waiting that I can do at this point. Please correct me if I'm wrong about this.

Not to be pedantic but this:

   > Not being in college doesn't mean I can't still learn,
   > it just means I have to teach myself, which is what 
   > I've always done and will continue to do. People may
   > judge me based on my lack of college degree, I am at
   > peace with that.
Like many people fresh out of high school you do not know what college is, or what it is for. The challenge though is that you have this blank spot in your understanding, there is ample evidence that you have this blank spot (lots of people go to college for some reason and the ones who are successful are vastly more likely to have a degree than not have a degree, etc etc.) and yet you choose you own reasoning over that of what you can observe to make your choice.

This particular issue is rampant with really smart kids because of the misconception that college is about learning as opposed to being about thinking. Your learning skills can be quite strong and completely subverted by a lack of thinking skills.

Anyway, it is not up to us to walk the path for you but you did post here so you get advice for free :-)

I just want to know when college became some holy grail of uncovering your true potential. I've been to college. It absolutely and utterly pales in comparison to the knowledge base I'll never have time to consume for free on the internet. As for networking and thinking. I find an IRC channel and a few conferences in a single year introduced me to more like minded people than I met in the whole of my college experience. I'm sure we could all make the argument you get into college what you put into it. The same goes for my preference of meeting people and networking. The difference is I wouldn't be tens of thousands of dollars in the hole if I had known that earlier.

I think the point is that college exposes you to unlike-minded people. You can find plenty of people who share your interests on IRC or Hacker News. You can also find people who don't share your interests on the Internet, but realistically, you won't. The true learning experience of college is that it throws you together with people that you would never hang out with by choice, and so forces you to broaden your perspective.

In practical terms, you will probably never hang out with these people after graduation. Most likely, they will be useless for your career (although you never can be sure - I co-founded my first startup with my floormate from sophomore year). But there's something that changes in your brain when you're forced to re-examine your most basic beliefs from the perspective of someone who doesn't share them, and it's a transferrable skill. You may very well decide that you were right the first time (my goals, strengths, and skills are not hugely different from what I believed in high school), but you see a whole new level of nuance that's missing when everyone around you self-selects into the same groups.

It's certainly possible to get this experience outside of college. But it's much, much harder, because you are looking for something outside of your own conscious awareness. I think one of PG's essays once said "Do whatever seems harder", which is pretty good advice. To that, I'd add "become the people you resent most" - not permanently, but long enough to understand their POV and empathize with them.

> I think the point is that college exposes you to unlike-minded people. You can find plenty of people who share your interests on IRC or Hacker News. You can also find people who don't share your interests on the Internet, but realistically, you won't.

This ‘like-unlike-minded’ categorization seems dubious to me. It can be said as well that college throws together the like-minded (they all felt the need to go to college); and Hacker News throws together the unlike-minded (because vaguely IT-related interests is all we have in common).

> [College] throws you together with people that you would never hang out with by choice, and so forces you to broaden your perspective.

Plausible, though it remains your speculation (you went to college). I don’t see how college is radically different from working in various workplaces with respect to perspective-broadening.

> But there's something that changes in your brain when you're forced to re-examine your most basic beliefs from the perspective of someone who doesn't share them, and it's a transferrable skill.

Related: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2014/11/05/dont-surround-yourself-..., a great essay that expounds on this point.

The true learning experience of college is that it throws you together with people that you would never hang out with by choice, and so forces you to broaden your perspective.

Huh, my take on college is the exact opposite. Public secondary school is where you are together with people who you would never hang out with choice, but are thrown together by accident of birth location. College is where I finally got to live with fellow nerds, have late night bull sessions, join clubs that matched my interests, have crazy dining hall conversations, etc. It was great, I could finally be a normal, fun, social person without having to dumb myself down or hide my intellectual interests. The true value of college, is that you can find groups of similarly ambitious people, and you can feed off of each other and push each other further. Also, you can build lasting bonds that will be helpful over the course of your life.

Quoting two of my best teachers in college on the worth of college:

"What is college for? To make friends."

"College is a way of opening you to see the world in more than black and white."

That's why college only worth when you make it with the right age. Otherwise you'll not have time to make any friends neither openness to change your mindset. College will be a waste of time and resources.

I would say also that college teaches you the why not the how. As an example, you don't need 5 years to draw an house. Few weeks of learning will make you a CAD drafter. But you still need 5 years to explain why did you draw that particular house and be able of making rational choices and not just random ones.

I really resonate with this comment. Like many my college career was mostly 'stuff I already knew' in the sense that I had been playing around with electronics and computers throughout high school. But college gave me an opportunity to hang out with folks who I would not have hung out with were I self selecting the crowd. And that experience allowed me to step outside of my own thinking and see a more nuanced world of alternate views. It also improved my critical thinking skills.

Without going to University (in the UK) I could have continued to learn technical things and be a great geek. I studied Electronic Eng, but I spent most of my time reading literature/classics as well as books about all sorts of things and speaking to lots of types of people. I think this has given me an advantage over a lot of programmers I meet who seem to struggle to relate to "normal" people - you know the people in management, accounting, HR etc...

For me, the most important thing about college was 1) setting aside such a massive block of time to learn, and 2) being in a place with a bunch of other people who were also there mostly to learn. That's not to say it's necessarily worth it for everyone, and depending what you're bringing to it it's certainly possible to fail to get much out of it. I think different groups of people over- and undervalue it, in weird ways.

>>I just want to know when college became some holy grail of uncovering your true potential.

When I did studies here in India, the internet penetration was close to 0. You could visit a library with books, practice paper, pen, and a water bottle and clock record 12 hours straight minus rest room breaks. You could break for tuition classes after wards. And then again work a few hours in the midnight.

This will prep you up for productive work later in life.

The competition is pretty fierce for getting through entrance examinations, and I would say working on hard math and physics problems helps develop your problem solving skills as much as programming does.

>>I've been to college. It absolutely and utterly pales in comparison to the knowledge base I'll never have time to consume for free on the internet.

This depends on how your spent your time in college.

Teach yourself real analysis over the internet. There are people who can, but not nearly as many as can learn it in a decent undergraduate math class. I imagine the same is true for other difficult subjects.

I really recommend MIT's Open Courseware for this. Modern MOOC platforms such as Coursera and edX tend towards the lower level courses and prerequisites are a major problem for anyone looking to do an entire degree. OCW is great though. Motivated learners can go at a minimum of 2x the speed of university classes.

The bigger problem is that not many people want to work through these kinds of courses. Universities motivate students through credentials, but open courseware is really just the people who love the education itself as opposed to the schooling and credentials.

MIT's OCW is fantastic. It's not what I think most people have in mind when they talk about teaching themselves a subject over the internet (especially since many of the classes I'm familiar with have assigned textbooks and homework), but you make a good point.

I disagree with the last two statements, though:

> Universities motivate students through credentials, but open courseware is really just the people who love the education itself as opposed to the schooling and credentials.

Universities also try to motivate students by putting a lot of people who want to learn the same material together at the same time, and by coordinating the pace, readings, etc. It's easier to get motivated to study if all of your friends are studying, whether or not there's a grade involved. It's easier to learn something difficult if you can ask specific questions from other people learning the material (ie classmates) or if you can ask them from an expert (the professor and TAs, ideally).

Believe it or not, students, TAs and professors of physical classes can all be found on the OCW forums. The sheer wealth of discussion is amazing, but the one big drawback is that the higher the level of the course, the less likely a quick response is. In some cases it's better to go to http://math.stackexchange.com/

I totally agree about the textbook part of the equation, too. While I love the automated graders for CS courses on Coursera, I think it's a major, major flaw to de-emphasize textbooks in favor of lectures. It's different for language courses of course, but I've never encountered an engineering course in which lectures were a good use of time compared to working through the book and going to office hours as needed.

Also, before college, one doesn't actually know what is needed to learn for a particular career. A college curriculum provides a guide to what to learn.

> lots of people go to college for some reason and the ones who are successful are vastly more likely to have a degree than not have a degree

I think it would be hard to find self-teachable software devs who are unsuccessful, degree or not.

In my experience you need to wait until you get older. People in their 20's don't seem to have much of a problem, people in their 30's find they lose out on jobs which seem like a great fit, people in their 40's find they don't even get an onsite interview. Sometimes it is a salary thing (capping out regardless of years of experience). I know of three people who are or were in their 40s and went back to school to get their bachelor degrees just so that they can check that box, and like people who realize getting married actually is different than committed living together, so far they have found what they are learning about the process of thinking quite different than what they expected.

I think it depends on how in demand the jobs are. Where I'm at, having no education section on my resume is no barrier. In my late 40s now, moving to a lower-demand state in a few years. Will see if you're right.

A buddy of mine in Chicago who has been working on getting his degree for decades. It does seem more important there.

smart kids because of the misconception that college is about learning as opposed to being about thinking

when you are solving a problem in a startup , you are thinking.. more than you do in a college.

I'm sure you've heard it again and again, but university really isn't about learning topics or skills. Many classes are a waste of time, taught by TAs that might not even grasp the subject they're teaching all that well. I definitely skipped a whole lot of classes and instead spent the time in the library getting lost in the stacks finding random books to read on my own. Once you hit the upper levels and find a major or two with professors you love that changes of course, but it definitely happens more often than most admit.

The main thing you can't replace is everything else, like meeting really smart people that are working on things that are totally foreign to your day to day studies. Maybe you walk into a room at 11pm on a Tuesday because you hear someone listening to music you've never heard before. Or someone brings you to a reading of an author and the discussion makes you reevaluate beliefs you didn't even know you had. Maybe you take a class for a gen-ed that you just know will be terrible but the professor ends up being amazing and becomes a mentor to you. Or maybe you stay up for 24 hours straight with classmates studying for a final and somehow you all ace it even though you really thought solving problem 3 was going to kill you.

It seems like you know that network is important, otherwise you wouldn't be attempting this experiment, but there really is no replacement for spending four years forcing yourself to be exposed to tons of new ideas and people every day.

There's no other time in life you're allowed to do whatever you want surrounded by so many people in the same situation as you. Money can wait.

I must've gone to the wrong college. Mine was like high school except there was even more busy work to do, and it wasn't free. With most kids focused on their phones nowadays, could anywhere be like you say? I suspect those days are over.

There are certainly many institutions that aren't worth attending, especially if you tend to be a highly intelligent autodidact. But if you are that type of person, you'll probably be able to find a great university that will accept you and give you scholarships.

I can't speak to kids being on their phones all day, we only had flip phones when I was in school, but you can make personal choices to avoid those things. I personally made a choice to not live anywhere with a TV, for instance, but there sure were a lot of kids in certain circles wasting away in front them.

Personally, I had a nearly identical experience to grandfather post during my college years.

>There's no other time in life you're allowed to do whatever you want

I'm going to go ahead and dispute that. You don't have to buy in to the rat race

You left off the key part of that sentence.

The point is you're surrounded by other young people voraciously exploring themselves intellectually. It's just a different experience when you try to do college at 30.

Of course you could forge your own path, and I support that, but OP sounded like he was forgoing college in order to go to work to make money. His mother's article was about how he can just make money coding. If he had wrote that he was traveling for 6-12 months to research his first novel I'd have said fantastic, can't wait to read your notes.

>>What does clicking "Let's meet" do? I clicked it to find out and it said "Message sent, thanks! I look forward to meeting you."

> Sorry about that. It's hypocritical of me to implement a system like this instead of just showing my email address. I actually wrote a blog post about why you shouldn't do what I did with this website:


I disagree. On most computers that I have ever used, clicking an e-mail link will open a setup process for the default email client. Most users I have ever encountered do not know what to do with that prompt.

There's a lot of talk about "fixing" email, but I've yet to see anyone tackling this problem in a serious fashion. Since websites can't expect mailto: links working for their visitors, they have to put up forms.

But more to the point: I think it is quite obvious what is gonna happen when one submit the form on your website: The website owner gets informed about my email address and what time I'm interested in meeting.

Whether this information is conveyed by SMS, Whatsapp, e-mail, some internal e-ticketing system is completely irrelevant to the user.

PS: I don't know how miles.codes is supposed to look, but it looks horrible in Firefox on Ubuntu. Images are jiggling, text is unreadable, links are not clickable where you'd expect to be able to click.

Good for you, man. Don't let all these cynical Hacker News people get you down or discourage you. They are all whining and complaining about the mistakes they made. If you don't do what you feel convicted about, and just do what others "advise" you to do... you'll one day become the same cynical person they are.

But you are choosing to do what you are passionate about. So keep fighting!

Thanks, I appreciate the support :)

I don't know why everyone is lecturing you about not going to college, especially not understanding your personal circumstances. If I were looking at your resume for my startup, the "Oh, he's a great programmer who has been building things since he was four" would outweighs the potential, "Oh, he has a CS degree from Stanford" so much the latter wouldn't even move the needle.

I'm probably biased, being a college dropout myself, but the employers who weigh those credentials more highly than raw ability or skill set are probably not the ones you want to work for anyway. And let's be honest -- at least right now, it's a programmer's market. You could tie a sign around your neck that says, "I've been programming since I was four and am looking for a job," spend the day walking around San Francisco, and probably have a job offer by the end of the day.

It's probably also valuable to hear about college from a dropout's experience. I went for three years, and I hated every minute of it. Every. Single. Minute. I went to a highly respected/ranked private University, admittedly not something Ivy League, and while I definitely learned a lot and met some cool people, I speculate I would have learned more and faster had I jumped headfirst into startups during those years. I wouldn't have taken a Shakespeare class, but that's just one of the many trade-offs you have to make.

I was a couple semesters away from graduation, and was half pulled out by a startup taking off and half just couldn't handle it anymore. Half of college was excruciatingly slow and boring, and 1/4 was worthless. I don't say "worthless" in the, "When am I going to use this in my job/real life" sense, but in the "This is busywork and everyone in this room, including the Professor, knows it." The last 1/4 was solid. I won't pretend like college had nothing to offer - I just wonder how much I would have learned had I used 4/4 of my time effectively instead of 1/4.

TL;DR - do whatever you want to, and don't let the hivemind of HN convince you otherwise. But I didn't have to tell you that.

Now let's meet up and get coffee next time I'm in the Valley :)

Your mother's blog post is mostly about salary, which seems to be beside the point. There's more to life than money.

If your long-term goals include (or will ever include) "Start my own company," the odds are overwhelmingly not in your favor. First, when you're in university, you have a unique opportunity to become known as the smartest person in the class, and thus build a ridiculously valuable network. But you could do that at work too, right? Well, not really. There are legal issues at play: it's not so easy to just pack up with a coworker and start your own company. California makes this easier, but it's still hairy. Whereas you almost never have to worry about that as a student. Plus, your student network will be gigantic in comparison to a network you can build from work alone.

Someday you'll be old, and without a degree you'll be doubly vulnerable to ageism. If you're not a manager by then, you may be out of a job. While it's nice to think you'd be retired by then, reality has a funny way of making that unlikely. In particular, if you meet someone and fall in love, your finances and other ambitions tend to become affected.

You may be interested that I once interviewed at Justin TV, which eventually transformed into Twitch and was recently sold for a lot of money. Maybe I would've had an equity stake, maybe not. I didn't make the cut. Official reason for passing on me? Kan met with me and said that his investors recommended they not hire anyone without a degree when they were in such early stages. Now, that could have just been a convenient social excuse; at the time I remember not really demonstrating enough value during the interview stage, otherwise I'm sure that wouldn't have stopped them. On the other hand, if I was a borderline "hire" with a degree, then maybe that would have been enough to push me into the zone of "Let's try this person out and see how he does," which would have let me demonstrate my abilities directly, rather than by solving interview puzzles like "how would you implement a way to evaluate 2 + 3 = 5?" (At the time, being self-taught, I wasn't very versed in lexers, parsers, etc, so I had to flub my way through that particular question.)

You can have a wonderful life without a degree, but the vast majority of startups are started by people who went through universities. You know how Sam Altman has given a series of wonderful lectures at Stanford? Pg has also written at length about universities and startups:


I've claimed that the recipe is a great university near a town smart people like. If you set up those conditions within the US, startups will form as inevitably as water droplets condense on a cold piece of metal.

I've been operating under the assumption that you moved out to SF to go live the startup dream. The fact is, that dream is much less likely when you haven't attended university. It's unlikely in terms of raw statistics (I'm personally aware of only a few people who have made a successful startup without having been through university, tptacek being one of the notable counterexamples) and in terms of your network. As a student, you're a potential founder. As an employee, usually you're going to remain an employee.

Isn't it interesting that Loopt was objectively not as big of a success as once was hoped, but Sam still succeeded brilliantly from it? I wonder if his network had anything to do with that, or the fact that he attended a top-tier university?

By the way, if you don't really care about starting a startup, please just disregard everything I've said, since your current path may in fact be optimal, as your parents noted. But if you're going the startup route... Well, "the rest of your life" is a long, long time, yet you only have a very narrow timeframe to reconsider. I hope I'm wrong, though!

One of the most important points that I don't think I stressed enough, which took me a long time to fully accept, is that university isn't really about learning. Not when it comes to software. Yes, your education will be well-rounded and you'll have a much deeper knowledge of architecture and theory and etc, but the primary value to you as a potential founder is the network and the social acceptance that comes from attending a top tier university. Prestige. It's lame to an extent, and maybe someday the world will be different, but that day likely won't be in the next decade, which is the timeframe you care about the most.

Also, consider this: All of the opportunities before you now will still be there, enhanced, after university. Ever play poker? It's probably best to follow the path of highest EV. There's almost no way that university is anything but the highest EV in this situation.

I wish you the best of luck. I apologize for coming across as negative.

You make good, valid points.

My perspective is that as a student, I don't stand out. My grades/ECs/etc are not very exceptional. However, as a "rogue" (for lack of a better term) developer, I do stand out. I started making websites in 4th grade, I've worked professionally as a developer since a year after I was legally able to have a job at all, I have an entrepreneurial spirit, I have a history of shipping software, etc. Read that in the least egotistical tone you can (if at all possible) please; I'm walking imposter syndrome in reality.

I'd really like to continue this conversation right now but I think it'll stretch out too long, can we pick back up at this point in person? I'll email you right after I post this.

>I apologize for coming across as negative

I also struggle with wording what I say to sound positive, but you have nothing to worry about, your tone has been very neutral.

EDIT: I sent an email to the address in your profile, if that's not your current email, please tell me so I can send it to the right one.

> My perspective is that as a student, I don't stand out. My grades/ECs/etc are not very exceptional.

I was such a student in high school; ok grades, but nothing that would get me into Stanford (I applied; they rejected me). Then I went to college (at UCSD), and suddenly the entire world turned around. In high school, being good meant mostly skills that had nothing to do with subject matter. In college, being good meant being good at CS, which (hey!) I was actually good at. So almost overnight, I became one of the top students in my cohort, and one of the most well-known in my year in the department. I am now a Ph.D. student at Stanford (yes, the irony...).

Admittedly, I never followed the path from high school straight to working, so I wouldn't know if something similar is possible there, and maybe it is. But I wouldn't underestimate the social network effects that others have talked about here. Standing out in your major has substantially more impact in college than it does in high school.

I want to be clear up front that this isn't really a comment for you, but a more general comment for any students reading it. FWIW, I teach at a university, but this is just my own opinion and others might disagree.

> My perspective is that as a student, I don't stand out. My grades/ECs/etc are not very exceptional. However, as a "rogue" (for lack of a better term) developer, I do stand out.

It is easy to stand out as a student: attend lecture every day, show up early and sit in the front row, prepare for the lectures by reading the assigned and optional readings in advance, ask questions that help you deepen your understanding of the material (not questions that are designed to "show off," if your understanding of the material is much deeper than what the class covers, don't be an asshole, but do ask questions before and after lecture), and use the resources the class has made available to you to understand the subject as well as you can.

I've had students "stand out" despite getting Cs on all the tests, because they've clearly busted their ass to get a C and had a good attitude about it. I've also had completely anonymous students get As.

If you work hard at the class and are also any good at the subject, you'll stand out even more. And, just in case you need this advice later (this is actually for you, Miles), you can actually pull this off without being enrolled at the university and can probably hustle/charm your way into enrollment at Berkeley if you ever decide you need it. The same thing applies: take classes you're interested in (through UC's extension education program), show up, work hard, and engage with the Prof. Undergrad enrollment numbers can make that tricky, but that's literally how I got into grad school. (UC extension program and all...)

But Berkeley's great. Have fun!

Can Confirm that it is insanely easy to hustle your way into berkeley. I had a friend or two do while I was there.

In the meantime, there's no need to not follow along, and there's no need for enrollment through extension (and with no added work for the teaching staff).

the intro websites archives are at: 1) http://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs61a/archives 2) http://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs61b/archives 3) http://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs61c/archives

the current semester is at http://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs61a/ and so on.

If you click through you should notice that all the readings and lecture notes and assignments are totally publicly viewable. the only thing standing between you and doing that whole class on your own (minus, the final) is your will power. At least one semester of the courses are at webcast.berkeley.edu or on youtube. Again, totally public.

If you really want to, you can even attend lecture since berkeley is an open campus and no one will check to see what you're doing there. Be warned, though, the classes are really impacted right now, so you might not even get a seat.

The only downside to doing it this way is that you don't get official credit. If you really want that, you could take it via extension, but I highly doubt they'll let you in since even declared majors are having all sorts of trouble signing up for classes (the intro series went from like 300 students to >1200 per semester in like 2 years, so they are having some growth issues :).

If you're better as a rogue than as a student, that's like 10x the time to work on being a student. The real world? It sucks, and brilliant rogues are frequently punished shortly after saving the day. You've got 40-50 years after school to learn those lessons. Go to school for the experience while you're young enough to do it. Learn some philosophy, history, art or music while you're at it.

> Your mother's blog post is mostly about salary, which seems to be beside the point. There's more to life than money.

Actually, it's not, it does bring up salary as one point but that's hardly the gist. Some quotes:

> Is the push for everyone to earn a bachelor’s degree so ubiquitous, that we’ve completely lost sight of the outcome of earning the degree?

> "What if what’s really at stake is not choosing which college, but declaring self-sufficiency? What if, instead of teaching young children that if they study hard they’ll have a chance to go the college of their dreams, we taught them that starting today, you will be responsible for your future?"

I thought it was quite a good post. To possible readers, don't avoid clicking based on this dismissive comment.

I like the analogy with poker.

College has the best odds of increasing the odds on having a rich life (not only money-wise). That makes it the rational choice. Anyway we live in freedom so everybody has the right of making the irrational choice and own it. Odds are just odds, not results, you can also win with a lower odd (just look around, the world is full of exceptions. The best exception I remember is Tadao Ando [1]; He didn't go to college and got a Prizker prize for Architecture).

Don't mistake dropping-out college for skipping college. Zuckerberg or Gates didn't skip college they drop-out when they hit (and recognized) a huge sweet-spot/opportunity. Staying in college would just decrease their odds. They also made the rational choice. You (probably) are not doing it.

[1] http://www.pritzkerprize.com/1995/bio

The difference is that they dropped out of ivy league colleges.

I didn't take the actions necessary to be able to attend an ivy league school and drop out of it.

>They also made the rational choice. You (probably) are not doing it.

I don't feel like spending the time it would take to explain why my choice was rational. The gist is that a lot of consideration was put into making that decision and I'm confident I made the right one.

> without a degree you'll be doubly vulnerable to ageism

Yeah, that advice applies in this day and age. In 40 years a degree will be entirely irrelevant.

I had a terrible experience with college. I am a lifelong learner and extremely enthusastic, and my time spent in college were both my least productive and totally reduced my confidence in my abilities as I didn't conform with the "department way". I came out of it with a degree and debt free, but I know many people who had worse as well as better experiences. I am now learning civil engineering on the job (materials engineering was my major) and I have a passion for the practical applied sciences (my wife is an assistant winemaker and I took the entire courseload with her start to finish, just couldnt realistically afford to have two of us make a career in it). We aren't even big wine drinkers but it is really an extremely rewarding and suprisingly complex systems engineering challenge to make fine wine. If you are interested in anything I mentioned feel free to contact me

I'm in an extremely similar position to you Miles, and don't worry about college. I just turned 22 and all of my friends are graduating college while I'm making bank because I jumped into the industry early rather than throwing my money at school.

The college route works for many, but I feel like I get along with people better that decide they're more fit to rough it and teach themselves.

You know what's better at making you a social network of industry peers than college? The actual industry.

Get an entry level position and work your way up, while spending your free time to develop your skills.

I'm in WA right now but I'm taking a road trip while working remote this winter. I'll be in the Bay Area for a short period in January and will send you an email for the coffee request if you're not inundated with acquaintances by that time haha.

> I'm in an extremely similar position to you Miles, and don't worry about college. I just turned 22 and all of my friends are graduating college while I'm making bank because I jumped into the industry early rather than throwing my money at school.

The long-term impact of not having a degree, by and large, doesn't appear to really show up until your 30's or 40's. It makes continuing in a technical role progressively harder (because it's one area where you negatively stand out to the rest of the candidates passing by) and makes moving into management much harder because, like it or not, things like MBAs are still effective signaling tools for moving into management (and also teach you a lot, but on HN the idea of an MBA having useful lessons to teach is considered madness, so disregard that as you will). Getting there is much, much harder without a degree, and going back for that first degree is by all accounts really hard when you're already in the real world.

> You know what's better at making you a social network of industry peers than college? The actual industry.

The point isn't to have a social network of industry peers. It's to have a social network of people who are not industry peers. I like many people I know in the industry--but I don't go to them when I need to know about law or business or deep-magic political science (it has come up more than you think).

"but it's a mistake to drop out of one of the most effective social networks ever devised by humankind." Listen to this guy, he is giving you great advice!

I think you'll find that your lack of degree is almost inconsequential. A few job doors will close and otherwise it'll likely be a non-issue.

I have to disagree. At some point in your 30-40 year career you may well want to leave the start-up treadmill and join a big company. At that point you'll hit HR pay-grade limits based on your degree (or lack thereof). Big companies do sexy work too. You'll also be un-attractive to start-ups once you get over 40 because, well, you're old and they're not.

Have a friend in his 40s having to plough through a degree (while holding down a full time job, and family duties) for just this reason.

Once while applying for a major company I asked if my lack of degree was an issue, since it was supposedly a requirement. The interviewer said "Our CEO is a college drop-out. We don't care!" When the OP needs to work for Big Corp., he could apply to jobs that say "degree or equivalent experience". There are thousands of them.

A degree is nice to have, but for the price plus opportunity cost (perhaps $200K for the OP) it may be a net negative.

I too have a 40-something friend finishing his degree. He does feel it would have helped his career.

> The bottom line is that I've made the decision to not go to university and I'm perfectly happy with that.

Yes, you're happy with it, now. People are always happier and more apt to do something that has immediate gains than something that is far off in the future.

> Not being in college doesn't mean I can't still learn, it just means I have to teach myself,

You realize the purpose of teachers is to inform you of things so you don't have to figure them out yourself, right? It takes a lot longer to accumulate the knowledge by yourself. People have already figured complicated things out, and they can tell you in a minute, versus you spending hours/days/weeks trying to come to the same conclusion.

> which is what I've always done and will continue to do. People may judge me based on my lack of college degree, I am at peace with that.

Nobody will judge you on a lack of a college degree. If anything, people will think you are more amazing for never going to college, but that's beside the point. A degree has nothing to do with going to college. Forget the degree. Actually, go to college and then drop out. Yes, i'm actually telling you not to get a degree, but still to go to college.

> Surprisingly, my father is a professor and my mother is a university director, and yet they both support me in what I'm doing. My mother wrote about her feelings on the matter here if you're curious:

My parents also supported me, but probably because they thought they had no way to force me to go. Honestly, this was a big mistake on their part.


I never went to college, and started working for myself about the same age as you. I've since hit a wall several times in terms of professional advancement because I never got a CS degree. But it's not the degree that held me back, it's the lack of academic knowledge about computer science, security/crypto and other topics. How was I supposed to know I needed to explain in a job interview the big-O notation advantages of one algorithm over another? How was I supposed to know I needed to know how to draw a flow chart of the architecture of a network application?

Could I have been studying CS every week of my life throughout my career to eventually build up the knowledge equivalent of a degree? Sure. But who the fuck wants to study every week of their life? That's why college is only (about) four years: you burn up that studying time all at once so you don't have to stretch it out for the rest of your life.

Then there's the personal/social aspect, where my personal growth was stunted for many years from not having a group of my peers to interact with on a daily basis. I also lacked perspective from not learning multiple subjects such as art, history, foreign language, economics, philosophy, psychology, etc. I've accumulated a lot of knowledge over the last 10 years, but still lack so much because I never went to college.

What nobody told me when I was younger was that your youth is the best time for you to 'waste' your time with school, with travel, with learning inane skills/trades, with romance, whatever. You should waste your youth as much as you can on doing the things that will be rewarding later on. I can sum up the reason you should go to college in one word: exposure. Nowhere in your life will you ever find a place where is it easier to be exposed to the variety of knowledge and culture and people than in college.

Don't work. Do anything you can to avoid work. You'll be working for the rest of your life.


Some more reflections:

I have a couple of good friends, and some of them have many friends. I ask them, where did you make these friends? "In college, of course." I have friends who are married. Where did they meet their wife? "In college, of course." I have friends who play music, or used to be in bands. Where did they learn to play? [..] I know people who draw amazing portraits when they're bored. Where did they learn to draw? [..] I know people who have done every drug under the sun, and have a wider view of cognition, of reality, of authority. Where did they get the drugs, and who did they have fun doing them with? [..]

Steve Jobs dropped out of college after six months, but kept auditing creative classes. At a commencement address he gave at Stanford, he said: "If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts."

Oops, I wasted my 20s learning to juggle, kayak, climb, mountain bike, travelling, speaking Spanish. Drinking and having fun. It was probably worth it!

I'm planning to waste my late 30s having fun with my wife and child. I program and learn when I can!

For a different perspective, I'm a self-taught developer, designer, and business consultant who left college after a year and didn't even begin learning to program until 21. I'm 29 now, and I pretty much feel that the world is my oyster. Clients who attended Ivy league universities pay me large amounts of money to solve their problems (they never ask where or whether I went to college, just whether I can fix their problems), I have a huge number of valuable connections (including investors and people who know plenty of investors), and I feel generally highly respected for my achievements and skills, which aren't really even that impressive on the HN scale. If I wanted a full time job (I don't), I could have my pick of dozens of great companies.

I honestly believe that straying from The Path, as you put it, is why I'm in a good position now. It's been challenging at times, but it ensured that I didn't just settle for whatever inertia threw my way. If I didn't make something of myself, no one was going to give me a free pass based on the prestige of my degree, so it forced me to make something of myself, and instead of ending up with some safe and boring post along The Path, I've learned skills that allow me to make my own Path and walk it on my own terms. I think I'm a better person for it.

I'm really interested in how you managed to start out on yourself. Care to share your story?

When I was 19 I managed to get a developer job at a medium-sized german dating site. I'm 22 now, still working on the said dating site, so my experience is pretty niche and limited and so are my connections. I'm actually pretty strong programming-wise (PHP and JavaScript professionally and Clojure(Script) and Go on the side.) But I completely lack any experience with business and design other than reading HN and blogs.

My goal is to get into freelancing/consulting the way patio11 describes it: make thing-X which will make/safe client-Y Z-amount-of-money. The challenge for me is:

- how to get experience in making thing-X without having the connections to get client-Y

- how to get client-Y without having the experience in making thing-X

What worked for me is simply learning as much as I could and keeping an eye out for opportunities to turn pure tech engagements into more business-focused and value-based projects. Once you start looking, you realize they are plentiful. Even just being a good programmer who can evaluate features and prioritize based on business value puts you way way way ahead. If you're reading a lot of patio's writing, you're probably on the right track. It can take some time to make the transition, but it will happen if you keep at it.

If you don't have non-compete clause, you should try to use your niche experience to build your own dating service.

I'm in a similar situation right now. 22 and just finished college and I want to hone my programming skills for the next 10 years.

May I ask how did you get into the position you are in today? How much time did you spend programming a day? What was you approach (work through a book, or pick a project and execute in language x)? Did you have a side job while you were teach yourself programming?

Your response will be much appreciated.

Don't listen to this guy, you don't need a degree (unless you're trying to be a doctor or lawyer). Most people are better off with a degree in the same sense that most people are better off taking an offer from Google over pursuing a startup, but neither choice is unequivocally better than the other. Going to university is obviously the safer route, but not necessarily the best choice for you. And you can always go to university later in life if you want.

Most people who espouse the necessity of a degree completely neglect the opportunity cost of obtaining one. Even if you pick one of the more practical majors (eg. computer science), you're spending 4 years and paying anywhere from $30-200k to learn information, much of it outdated and useless to employers/you, that you could learn for free online or at a job.

Of course if you're going to dick around and do nothing for 4 years, it's probably better to go to school. But it's very well possible that the 4 years of experience you get will put you in a much better position than a useless liberal arts grad with a fancy piece of paper and $50k in debt. It'll certainly force you to be more self-starting and entrepreneurial.

There will always be hiring managers who automatically filter you out because you don't have a degree. That just means you need to (1) develop an impressive portfolio/resume (2) create a strong network (3) be entrepreneurial. None of these require a degree.

Good luck. If I were in the Bay Area, I might take you up on that offer.

Don't listen to this guy. From personal experience I can tell you that each degree you get will fetch you a positive ROI. A very high multiple over several years. Sure you can skip school and hope to be a startup millionaire. But you can also buy lottery and hope to hit the jackpot. If you are looking for better odds at a successful life, go to school.

Listen to this guy, but listen to everyone else, too.

There are all sorts of ways you can improve your odds apart from going to school. There are a lot of things that you can read that will point you in the right direction. There are a lot of interesting things that you can work on.

I never went to University or College or whatever you want to call it, and I've had to turn down multiple good job offers to stick with the great one. I'm halfway around the world from SF, but I would be very happy to chat with you, Miles. Hit me up.

Going to college actually works. And yes that start up can wait. Don't expect yourself to remain young forever. People have to make all kinds of decisions in various parts of their life. And 'lets do a start up' isn't always a answer to all those questions.

College education/Degree are a universal filter criteria, trying to prove the whole world wrong isn't going to work, unless you are Einstein. Plus if you are not a US citizen and wish to relocate to US, getting a degree has other added advantages for visa related purposes.

And guess what. The very start ups of today won't be hiring your no-degree, whole night awake dorm room hackers. They will be explicitly looking out for some one with a degree. Heck you would be yourself doing that once your very own start up grows to some size.

Going by the age related discrimination, and how much lottery factor exists in the start up industry.

Getting a degree might be a very good idea.

Say you need to build an iOS app. Are you going to hire a guy with a CS degree, or a guy with 4 years experience building iOS apps and the portfolio to back it up?

I'm not saying that skipping college is a smarter choice (for most people it's not), just that it depends on your situation.

Personally I would hire some one with 4 years experience. But, programmers don't make decisions. Decisions are made by hiring managers, HR's and other people to whom these kind of things matter.

How about the guy with the CS degree AND 4 years experience building IOS apps?

Back when I worked at Boeing, there were the techs and the engineers. They worked side by side, often doing the same thing. The engineers had degrees, dressed differently, and got paid more. The techs would say that they were doing the same job, why weren't they paid the same?

The pragmatic answer is the engineers could do the math to analyze the design, the techs could not. I've never seen anyone learn math on the job. They'll learn everything else but the math.

A huge part of an engineering curriculum is math and how to apply it to solve problems. Every engineering exam I had, no matter what the course was ostensibly about, was math.

The math I learned during my computer science degree has never been of the slightest use to me. The math I've actually needed, I've learned on the job from online references.

Hmm, maybe you're just really smart but I find your statement a little hard to believe. All of my mathematics education has been invaluable in coming up with approximate solutions that are easy to implement and provide good enough answer that can then be refined further. The only reason I can do this is because I spent a bunch of time studying real analysis and wrapping my head around what it really means to approximate one function with another one that is close enough and has enough structure to make certain arguments simpler.

Similarly the time I spent learning formal logical systems, differential geometry, category theory, abstract algebra, etc. might not be directly applicable but the thought patterns and problem solving techniques I developed studying those subjects are invaluable in pretty much all my day to day activities as a programmer. Being able to think on a slightly higher plane of abstraction and then lowering a solution on the higher plane to something more concrete is an extremely valuable skill that I don't know how you can learn and develop any other way.

I majored in math. If you're doing full-stack web dev (what this guy seems to be doing), it's useless. You'd only need math if you were doing something like machine learning or computer graphics. And like I said, there's nothing you learn in school that you can't learn online. Math classes especially tend to be taught straight from the textbook.

Learning how to use calculus to solve engineering problems doesn't come from a math book, it comes from engineering classes.

Not knowing math can shut you out from many forms of programming such as (as you suggested) graphics programming.

> there's nothing you learn in school that you can't learn online

That's pedantically correct, and I'm sure such people do exist, but I've simply never encountered one in 35 years of working in the industry.

There's nothing pedantic about it. Out of all the internships/jobs I've had, the far majority of anything I ever did was learned on the job. Often it was without much help or direction, and thus I was forced to teach myself. Although school definitely has its advantages, a huge drawback is that it gets you accustomed to being hand-holded through everything, rather than forcing you to being autodidactic and independent.

It's been said, and is my experience as well, that college teaches you how to learn. You majored in math, evidently in college, so you had that benefit as well.

Possible or not, I still don't know anyone who learned math outside of college.

College didn't teach me how to learn. Working a job where I was forced to learn (because my paycheck and the company itself depended on it) taught me how to learn. In the real world, there's no answer key, and no professors or TAs handholding you.

Nobody learns math outside of college because nobody needs to (of course there are exceptions).

I think you're missing the point of what a good education provides. No one says it provides real world experience. What it provides is the ability to think thoroughly and rigorously about things you might not have any actual first-hand experience with. Most people lack that ability and the only way I know of acquiring it is to go to an educational institution and bang your head against hard problems. You will not get this kind of opportunity anywhere outside of an educational institution. The problems you face at work and what could be termed as the industry are of a different kind and flavor and don't exercise the same kind of mental muscle.

> Not in the way you once had. Once you depart from The Path, you'll have to beat your way back onto it, surmounting bills and work and all kinds of annoying stuff that people fresh out of highschool don't really have to worry about just yet.

On the other hand, it is precisely that sort of horrible obstacle that will harden your "student resolve" into star-fusion-iron.

> On the other hand, it is precisely that sort of horrible obstacle that will harden your "student resolve" into star-fusion-iron.

Maybe, but probably not. More often I see people like this ending up bitter and resentful, sometimes so much so that they're painfully difficult to work with. It's actually pretty sad - a lot of these people are genuinely intelligent, but feeling like you've been wronged can be a powerful force.

Yes. This is true. And these people are hard to help. Best for youth to listen to age and stay on the path---but given the youth's life experience, all the evidence says to not do this. So, as youth do, they will stray. But there can be a positive seed in the bitter fruit.

> What does clicking "Let's meet" do?

There are actually some (well camouflaged) text inputs above the button where you're supposed to enter your email address and rendezvous preferences.

Yes, because these days raw clarity and functionality most often take a backseat to cute design.

I've been using the web since its inception, and I had no idea that your.email@gmail.com was a placeholder in a text input box. Furthermore, I had assumed that the "Wednesday.." placeholder on the 2nd input field was in fact some sort of auto-generated next free opening. Only now after reading your note about camouflage did I go back to the page and realize what he was trying to do. Sigh.

>Yes, because these days raw clarity and functionality most often take a backseat to cute design.

I've been having some serious difficulty with this lately. It seems in the last few months many sites i use have gotten redesigns that make them less functional and more "cute" (i guess)

Discover Card just redesigned their site to put their offers you can save on your card in GIANT boxes that you have to, get this, scroll horizontally. So rather than quickly parsing a list to see which offers i want, i have to scroll horizontally (can't use a scroll wheel), see about 5 offers, then click "view more," see 5 more, "view more..." Repeat. Takes 5x as long to go through! I... am probably just getting old but... i don't get it... why make a site so much less functional?

Myself, I haven't been using the web since inception... only for 18 years.

> I've been using the web since its inception,

Interesting. Maybe that's your problem? I haven't been using the internet since it's inception, and I had no problem understanding what the text boxes where. Yes, I thought the time field was going to be a dropdown, but I quickly adapted when I realised it's a free text input

> Really, there's no reason not to go.

What if he can't afford it?

Since he's a part time webdev, I'm not sure there's any way this could be true for his situation. Besides, aid and loans were made for that.

I'm a full time developer now actually. But yes you are right, money was not holding me back from attending college.

It makes sense if you can gather the skills necessary previously to start working a developer right out of mandated schooling. If you continue on your current path, you'll have 4+ years of developer experience and a network of business professionals for finding your next gig should you need it.

And who knows, maybe you'll make good money for four or five years as a developer, and then decide that you'd rather be an accountant, or lawyer, or do something else professionally - and go to school for that thing. And if you do, you'll be the prime candidate wherever you go - because when you combine the developer skill set with another industry skill set, it is like having cheat-mode enabled.

One of the big posts up top talks about the network OP will miss out without college.

Let's analyze.

Which dev will be more experienced: 4 years of full time dev work or fresh out of college?

Who will be more financially stable?

Who will have a larger network in the valley?

Who will be more employable?

Who will be earning more exactly four years from now?

Which one will have less debt?

Which one would perhaps even have savings?

It's past the time I can edit my comment, but I agree with your post (you've basically stated what I attempted to, in a much clearer fashion.)

4 years of full time dev work is far more valuable career wise than the average 4 years of college.

He could do a rough cost benefit analysis. The break-even time could be very long, considering opportunity cost. Also college could be like prison when you're self-taught.

I am a self directed learner and school has always felt like a prison to me.

Not going to college was the best decision I ever made. It lead me down a path of international travel, professional skydiving and web development. Had I gone to college none of those things would have happened and I'd have been saddled with debt.

Also, you say don't get a credit card, but then talk about grad school. I'd rather ring up $5000 of debt traveling than $200000 getting through head school.

If you were looking at grad schools that charged you six figures then nobody wants you in their grad school.

I could not disagree more. Going to university was possibly the worst mistake of my life. What an enormous waste of time to say nothing of money. I have not witnessed any special social experience at any university or college. People are the same there as anywhere else. Unless your profession absolutely requires a university granted certification, do not waste your time.

This is all great advice but something I don't understand is the relationship between going to university and meeting rich people. Is going to university really a rich-only thing there?

I didn't get the impression that Miles is naive to these things or that he was soliciting this sort of advice from internet strangers. Far from it in fact.

It looks like he knows exactly what he's doing and is very passionate about creating things. I got the impression he is looking to branch out and create value, have a good time with other people. If I was in S.F. Bay, I'd meet up and see what he has to say.

I agree. Half of the best software developers I know have university or college degrees. The rest do not. One of the best ones I know is a high-school dropout. In fact, so is my business partner. I value what I learned in college but it's not for everyone and when I hire people, I hire them based on what they can do.

Good luck to you and if you're ever looking to have coffee with someone in the industry in southern Ontario near Toronto (Hamilton to be precise) feel free to drop me a line.

Thank you for the kind words! It feels really good to hear support like this.

best luck man. keep on building, your work speaks for itself

It probably sents an email with the blank filled in without validation.

Nope, pretty basic server side validation in PHP:

     filter_var($_POST['email'], FILTER_SANITIZE_EMAIL)

"FILTER_SANITIZE_EMAIL" doesn't do any validation. That only filters.

Which is what I want. It prevents attacks but allows me to see the odd non-email stuff people submit.


How people feel about the "going to college" question is usually just a reflection of their own experiences and nothing more. You can't live life twice.

IF you want to be a doctor/lawyer/etc where a degree is required, then by all means you must go to school.

For anything where only results matter (for example, the open source software world) no one will care one way or the other what you do.

A lot of things will fall in between. Some doors will open, some will close. It's impossible for anyone to say which is a better choice.

Certainly, no matter what, there is no pressing need to go to school NOW. School will still be there in a year. Or two. Or even 20 if you find a reason to go later in your life.

The only thing you should avoid at all costs is wasting time. If you're skipping school to get high and play video games (doesn't sound like you!) then you are going to pay a heavy price as the years slip by. Be sure to make use of the time you "save"!

Good luck!

This guy is silicon valley's dream. Self re-locating, driven and talented, and young enough to pay peanuts in salary. You late twenty-somethings have an expiration date now.

you forgot to add: "and from a wealthy enough background to never have to worry about taking risks"

I didn't want to bring that up on HN for fear of facing some backlash, but my wife and I were having that very same discussion just now.

I won't dismiss whatever risks he took to get to where he is. That said, I am guessing he can still get that free education through his parents employment if he ever needed to and it must make things a lot less stressful knowing that the risk is not quite so great.

I always reflect back on my interviews. Whenever I went for an interview, but had a decent job that I could stay at, I KILLED. Then, those few times when I was dying to get out of my situation, I lost some of my confidence and charm and bravado and those were the times I didn't get the job. It honestly helps (me) to take risks when there is a cushy landing if you fail.

Hi Miles, I really like the page and the idea behind!

Do you know www.startuptravels.com? There's approximately 42 entrepreneurs at the moment of writing in the bay area who'd like to meet other entrepreneurs for a coffee and a chat.

Direct link to the SF search: http://www.startuptravels.com/search?location=San%20Francisc...

Edit: If anyone wants to show a little support. Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8592850

Very cool. I've been doing this for about 3 years in Las Vegas for the VegasTech community. It is definitely a great way to meet other people and it keeps you from getting too focused on your own thing and not getting other perspectives.

I've also signed up for startuptravels as it looks to be a great way to create conversations.

I'd like to think i'm a relatively successful 20 year old.

I left high-school and jump straight into a front-end dev role at a branding agency.

Two years on I'm not building a creative agency, hireable anywhere and I have a business network that most people would kill for.

I think that what you're doing is great but you'll do better by getting some business cards made, going to events and networking with every single person you can. That relaxed environment usually yields for more exciting and organic business relationships. Simultaneously, work hard in places that are versatile in their offering. You'll get broader and ultimately more valuable experience rather than taking a higher paying job somewhere where you're not growing properly.

Also I recommend you jump into some fast-paced, crazy work at an agency before you move into a product focused team.

Your page is way too tall for the amount of information you put. And the most important stuff is at the bottom.

Thanks for the feedback.

I was going for the "narrative" style design for this, I intentionally didn't put all the information "above the fold" like the original site did:


In my not-a-good-designer opinion, Trey's page makes a mistake with the high-contrast, heavily shadowed photo and the darkness of the background.

UX people should step in to correct me if needed: to me it feels that a human face trumps about everything else on a webpage; the attention shoots to it and our sensibilities adjust to the lighting on the face. That leaves me sitting in a small dark box looking out of a round hole, and the lighting/contrast information from the coffee video gets rejected as incoherent.

It was actually quite interesting to have the two of them to compare.

I hope you have taken him up on his offer of coffee! It would be the gentlemanly thing to do.

I prefer that original website. It makes it much clearer what's going on.

I prefer Miles' "narrative" style. :)

I know somebody who did something like this in St. Louis and was quite successful:


It helped build her network, find a new job, and meet people doing cool things.

Seeing this website reminds me of myself. I too have been building computer stuff since I was a 5th grader. I was going to study CS in college. After I was rejected by my dream school, I went on to study economics and mathematics instead, because it was the one of the best program that my school offered.

I've seen your projects and they speak for your passion. I think it's amazing that you are doing what you are doing. I'm not going to lecture you about whether to go to college or not. College has its merits and demerits. All I can say is keep up the good work!

This is an awesome networking hack! If you're looking to "meet" a bunch of employers, check out Hired - http://join.hired.com/x/WF25Mp. We placed someone with a very similar background to you (18 years old, web dev) a while ago. Everyone loved him, they'd be excited to meet you too.

Side note, I'd be happy to chat over coffee and discuss the valley, opportunities, and how to not get screwed over, regardless of your interest in Hired.

I'm surprised, a couple of guys I know went on Hired in the bay area and it said there weren't enough jobs at this time.

They aged out.

This is a great idea.

I really wish we had half the community community you guys have, here in Aberdeen, Scotland. You could throw a rock and hit a tech guy in SF. Here, the only groups of any prominence are MS .Net groups.

I've been struggling to find or build such a network here. I'm an open source, Linux, Python type of guy and feel I don't fit in the myopic tech culture here. I'd emigrate to SF in a heartbeat.

Good luck networking, I reckon you'll do alright. If you ever visit Scotland, hit me up!

Have you tried http://aberlug.org.uk/ or https://opentechcalendar.co.uk/group/ or http://www.meetup.com/Aberdeen-Python-Meetup?

(not having a go, I have the same problem (sometimes) in Australia)

(Disclaimer: I'm cofounder)

I'd recommend also giving http://www.startuptravels.com/ a go, we're not a huge crowd yet, but we've got a few entrepreneurs in Australia, and the responsiveness and willingness to meet new people amongst our users has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

No one near me. Can I register as a non-startup tech?

Edit: Ah, I don't use LinkedIn.

@voltagex_ Definitely. We believe that entrepreneurial spirit is more a state of mind, than what you might be doing on a daily basis.

Edit: Ah, bummer. I believe that's a +1 for native signup! :) Also, which city are you living in?

Native / StackExchange / GitHub / Google might hit the other part of your target market.

I'm in Canberra.

Thanks! Aberlug seems dead (I've visited the IRC channel and it seems pretty inactive). I didn't know about the two other sites, so thanks for the leads.

Hired just opened in the UK! Check us out - just London so far, but we'll be expanding. One of the key things for us is supporting the local tech community. http://join.hired.com/x/vn2ki8

I suspect this is just a ploy to get to the top post on HN which is surely of more value than this webpage in and of itself...so congrats I guess.

Great idea. Just a heads up, the email validation in your index.js isn't functioning; it accepts any arbitrary string (or none at all).

I didn't bother with any validation client-side, I have the email validation happen on the back end only.

In retrospect, I should have placed the inputs in an actual <form> element so that Chrome's email validation would take effect.

No worries! As someone only a couple years older than you, I have to say, congrats on making the move out there. It seems like you've got a lot of passion and commitment; wish I was in the Berkeley to take you up on the coffee.

It's not broken; it's an intentional form of user validation.

It's marked as an email field, and if you enter a random string, it replies "Message sent!". Not trying to be pedantic or critical, I just figured he'd want to know if his goal was actually to gather emails.

Thanks for letting me know, I always appreciate input like this.

Although in this case, not validating the emails client-side just means I have to validate emails after I receive them. Which is actually good in a way, I like seeing when people send stuff like "DROPTABLEuser" or "'SHOWPROCESSLIST'1=1", it's kind of a fun curiosity I suppose.

Hey Miles, we have Mission Hackers meetup this Wednesday. Come join us tomorrow: https://www.facebook.com/events/1549813885231948/

Everyone else is welcome too! We are a group of hackers and entrepreneurs who get together in Mission District, work on our own projects and have fun.

I tried this with burritos last year. The results were mixed. I got a lot of great people, but even with screening, I had a ton of very weird characters come through because I got some press on it.

I found a lot of people just wanted a free burrito. Not a problem, but not the community I hoped to build out of the experiment.

Needless to say I had put on about 20lbs in burritos.

[edit] sent you an email! :)

You are gonna go far kid, scratch that adult. Keep those hands firmly gripped on the wheel, noone else driving it but you.

I've went more or less a similar route as you. I've met people who swear by going to university. Many who went and dropped out. Others like myself who didn't go.

We're all in roughly the same spots not far from some imaginary standard deviation.

Best of luck with this interesting idea. How do you vet the people you intend to meet? Do you get any spam or trolls?

I love that you have overandoverrickandmortyadventures.com! I just binge watched season 1 and checked every domain name; surprisingly there are a few mentioned in the show that are still unclaimed (I think one was mentioned by the fake door salesman in a later episode where they watch interdimensional television)

Thanks! I really appreciate the praise, some of my friends didn't get it.

It was fun being able to register a domain and have the site for it done before the DNS finished propagating. Plus the whole site, favicon and all, is just one file which is 3kb unzipped:


Good for you! I'm from the South and moved out here without knowing anyone before. I would love to meet you and hear how things are going. I would be happy to introduce you to people too. Included my email when I responded to your web app but my personal email is listed in my profile. Coffee is on me though ;P

This would be cool as a generic tool, like a 1:1 version of Meetup. Which I guess is what dating websites are, but explicitly focused on just talking one time with an interesting person about stuff they are really excited about over coffee instead of dating.

I would like to have coffee with interesting people from time to time.

You can basically ignore any life advice you're being given on this thread - you've got your head screwed on better than anyone here. Keep doing what you're doing; you're doing it all right.

I'm not in SF, but if you're ever in the UK (London/Cambridge) feel free to look me up.

Pretty cool stuff, dude. I filled out the form (which, I assume, sent you an email). I'll be around Berkeley in January, so if you like chatting about science stuff, then that could be fun. You have really good initiative (especially normalized for age).

The college experience for most Millenials can fit into 14 lines of JavaScript: https://twitter.com/freecodecamp/status/531824655573602304

Many commented about the merits of college already. I'm just going to say college life was great. There's more to life than money and professional success. If you have the opportunity, go through college and experience the social benefits.

While the main website is very aesthetic...


- this is not a particularly good design. Project descriptions are hardly readable and it looks plain ugly, to be frank

Might be too late, but would be cool to show off your dev schools by adding some sort of slot/budget feature that shows how many cups (or money left) you have open for people to "book."

Your Meet me at "noon" placeholder got cut off (reads "no" right now). Had to pull up the trusty inspector to resize the input element to see the full word... Otherwise awesome!

If you're one of those strange people who do social networking, this approach is really cool. I like it :) I'll let you know when I'm in the vicinity.

Have you thought about letting other people put up subdirectories/subdomains on this site? It'd be really useful for a friend of mine (in Australia)

F the haters, you're clearly doing something right.

Very impressive Miles !

You should speak to Sahil http://sahillavingia.com/

Wish you all the very best !

I like the .coffee domain. Nice get. Although, with 190+ points, "I'll buy you coffee" might get a bit expensive.

I don't doubt it will, but I think it'll fetch a pretty good ROI.

I'd love to take you up on this, but I'm afraid I'm thousands of "Miles" away.

Sorry I had to.

Nice Rick and Morty site on your portfolio!

http://miles.codes/ doesn’t work well in Firefox, by the way.

My bad, I need to get better at testing on environments that I don't use personally.

I take chrome for granted and know that that's a very bad thing (re: the IE6 era v2.0).

Neat! Just remember that it's not just who you know--it's what you know! You'll go far.

This got a laugh out of me :)

Pretty impressed you make an account just for this.

Welcome to California.

How are you marketing this page?

I posted it here, then tweeted this HN post to my measly 134 followers.

I also have this site linked to on my personal site, http://miles.codes. But my personal site doesn't get much traffic so I don't think that had any effect.

I've really done no marketing besides posting here and on Twitter. It's just luck and how you phrase the title I think. For example, I posted this link for the first time a few days ago with the the title "I'll buy you coffee" and it only got 2 upvotes.

go to college, dont miss your chance to have sex with human women

beautiful website, by the way!

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