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Side projects (antirez.com)
698 points by fcambus on Feb 26, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 236 comments



I'm working on a side project now that will eventually be an open source project. I think it could benefit a lot of people.

My problem is that I have a full time job. When I come home at night I want to cook dinner, run, socialize, drink a beer with a friend, or work on an art project. I don't particularly want to configure Ansible or read the OpenVPN docs.

At most I can get 3-5 hours of productive work per week on this project before I start getting really irritable.

I'm not a terribly skilled web designer so I feel like contract work isn't really a feasible option.

So I'm stuck with a chicken and egg scenario. I could make huge strides on the side project if I got funding to quit my job, but I can't get funding without an already working product.

I've considered quitting my job and diving into it for a few months. I have savings but this seems foolishly risky to me.

Maybe I just need to be more disciplined.

If anyone has been in a similar situation, I would greatly appreciate advice.


> If anyone has been in a similar situation, I would greatly appreciate advice.

You can't have it all. A wife & kids, a full time job, a social life and an open source hacker reputation. Many of the biggest names in open source have none of those other things.


Then the industry should stop expecting people to have open source hacker reputations in order to be considered "good". I'm glaring at you specifically, "Github-is-your-resume" crowd.


Both of these things are profoundly important points. The first being that you cannot "have it all" and the second that putting the expectation out there that you should be a "rockstar" when it comes to open source code encourages unwise choices.

One of the things I noticed at Sun early on it its life were that there were "types" of folks, people who were so invested in their work lives that they had no family (or in many cases lost their family) and people who balanced out family with work. Folks in the latter camp invariably were less well rewarded than those in the former camp. I found myself slipping into that "work is everything camp" and consciously chose not to go there, knowing it would limit the eventual arc of my career. I have never regretted that choice and am still happily married with kids I know and who know me, long after Sun has faded into history.

It was a tough call to make. I talked it over with my wife (we were thinking about kids but didn't have any yet).


Wow. What a great discussion. I'm sad to have missed it.

I have exactly this problem: NOT ENOUGH TIME. Beyond my 40 hr/week programming job, I play or coach football (depending on the season). I'm a hobby artist but I honestly don't do much art anymore due to time constraints. I also joined the competitive Smash scene a while back but realized that I couldn't invest the time it takes to get good.

I completely agree: you can't have it all. You know that college saying: sleep, grade, friends, pick two? Well I chose sleep and grades. (Not to say that I didn't have friends, but I ended up being THAT friend that never really commits to anything. "I'll see if I have time.")

Post-college time is still my greatest struggle. I don't play Smash that much anymore because of time. There a lot of video games that I think, "Man, I could get really good at this game, but I don't have the time for it. Ugh." Right now I'm playing through the Mass Effect series for the second time. ME2 & 3 will probably be the only games I beat in 2015.

I do many of the things mentioned in this thread. Drop off laundry service. I can cook but I've gotten into the terrible habit of eating out. I spend way too much money on food! Most days I'm so mentally drained that I'd honestly rather eat some ramen than plan out a nice meal.

My two best investments in the kitchen are 1) George Foreman Grill, 2) fancy Japanese rice cooker.

I am very much looking forward to medical school this fall where I'll have more flexibility in my schedule.


This is the most impactful thing I've ever read on Hacker News. No sarcasm.

You made me stop and consider my own life and what I do with it. I don't have it all -- in fact, I have that "side project" (open source hacker reputation) that's languished for a long time and I've always felt bad about it. But I have a demanding job, a wife (no kids), and my social life and leisure time is very important to me. But now I've, mostly, made peace with that fact.


+1


Doesn't Linus have all of those?


Because he managed to combine the job, open source work, and to a large extent I expect, social life, into the same thing. That's the chicken and egg problem; you can do it once you 'make it', but getting there is tough without significant sacrifice.


He has a fulltime job? AFAIK, he's independently wealthy these days.


He deserves to be (at least as much as Jobs or Gates). A lot of the internet uses his software


3 words : "not enough time". Simple & efficient answer, i like it :)


2 kids, 3 freelance gigs (full time at this), a couple startups behind me (1 pivoted away, 1 still running). I would love to get 5 hours for an OSX app I really want to build.

You really do have to shut out the rest of your life if you want to make a serious run at a project. When you are cramming a side project into you life, you really can "work" 80 hour weeks. The irritability you're experiencing will probably just get worse.

I'm just starting to learn to cook. I began riding my bike last year. I'm 34. The grass is always greener of course. But it seems like you are enjoying a lot of the things I wish I had made time for earlier.

Maybe shut out the art project. Turn your code into open source and let that be your art for the next few months.


I want to share something here since not having enough time is a theme for me. As the child of immigrants I have a guilt about spending money - overcoming this I'm starting to look as money as a way to buy more time, so I don't feel bad a number of things e.g. getting healthy takeout (I still cook because I like it), having my laundry done for me, even buying software, etc. It's just efficient. I don't know if anyone else struggles with that but I'd like to put that out there. It means I have more time for projects and importantly (because of diminishing returns) more time to relax.


I try to do everything also (to a fault). I'm not first generation, but my wife's family has that mentality very ingrained.

At the moment, I'm lucky enough to have some cash. I can hoard it in the bank, or I can spread it around. You should certainly save and look out for your family. But spending money is part of how capitalism builds a society. Don't feel guilty. Feel good that you can help.


"spending money is part of how capitalism builds a society"

This is a really important point.

I'm currently reading The Rational Optimist (http://www.amazon.com/The-Rational-Optimist-Prosperity-Evolv...) which is about technology, innovation, and economic progress throughout history and one of his major points is that economies progress when people become more reliant on one another so they can focus on their specialty (ex., hire someone to do laundry because your time is most valuable coding). Economies in which people are self-sufficient are by definition less productive and innovative because there's less money flowing around and people are spending less time on the things they are comparatively better at.

It's a slow start but a fantastic read (and a challenging one for a person who likes to be self-sufficient).


God. I had this uncle wouldn't stop talking about how much his time is "worth" and that he has everything done for him if it could be done for less. Even at 15 I asked him if he couldn't have one his interns hang out with us instead.

I still bill 150+ an hour and change my own oil. Living life means doing mundane things for yourself. I wish lots of those rich people who have valuable time would realize that they shouldn't shit for themselves.


Thanks for the link. I'm putting that one on my list.

I like how you said "most valuable". My time isn't any more valuable then someone else's. I'm just most valuable writing code. Someone is else is most valuable cooking. Others are most valuable curing diseases.


A small tangent, but Michael Pollan's "Cooked" makes a reasonable counter-argument.

By delegating everything that we're not "most valuable" at to others, we potentially end up becoming impotent and un-informed, unable to make intelligent decisions outside our area of expertise. Thus we lose our ability to be good citizens.

He specifically makes the point in the context of cooking, something he argues is so fundamental to our survival that it is a skill all humans should have at least some basic ability to do.

Just a thought. :-)

Edit: you can read some of his argument starting on page 20 of the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Cooked-Natural-Transformation-Michael-...

And reviewed here - http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/04/24/michael-pollan-cooke...


I agree with that. It's one of the reasons I'm trying to learn to cook. How can I be so bad at something I do multiple times every single day? It makes you think differently.

"A dash of salt, a pad of butter, cook until brown". None of that means anything to me! I've been coding my whole life. How much is a dash? What shade of brown?

Obviously I'm more into baking :)


Dash=1/8 teaspoon Pad=1 teaspoon Brown=It looks tasty enough to eat

I used to get mad about the lack of precision in many recipes, but I worked through it and adopted the "would I eat it" test for doneness.

It's a matter of experience, and you only get that by doing. Having an experienced mentor can help, but is not necessary, only a willingness to experiment.

Now I embrace the imprecision because it enables creativity without fear.


I used to have this problem to a fault. In my case, it wasn't just about money but also about not trusting other people to do work for me. I have managed to get over this, slowly, but I still get some passive-aggressive shit from my mother and sister about having cleaning and landscaping services.


Love this comment. In a similar vein: like everyone else here, I work the typical 9 to 5 then work on side projects nights & weekends. I agree with the spend money approach! Invest in software to become more efficient, save time avoiding manual tasks. I'm eating healthier nowadays, which means time needed to cook. However, I save some time by using InstaCart to deliver groceries to me. That's huge! Last, taking a good hard look at how you spend time is crucial, beginning with TV watching time. You'd be surprised (I was!) at how much you can get done if you simply watch 1 less show per week, for example.


It's funny, but I'm such a stickler when picking out produce, and even meat selection, that I'd have a hard time trusting someone to pick out my apples, etc... How has this worked out for you?


Sorry, missed your comment. Honestly, it's been tough. Oftentimes they claim that they couldn't find something/store was out of it (not sure I buy that!) or the produce they choose isn't the best. You can add notes to each item in the order, so I've been leveraging that to better effect. for example, next to milk, "farthest expiration date please!". You'd think that would be common sense though :)


Speaking of side projects and learning to cook, I'm working on a side project that helps people learn to cook. Happy to share if interested.


Does it happen to help with the attitude or process of cooking? It's probably the bachelor mentality in me but I honestly just hate cooking. The amount of time (purchase food, prep, cook, clean pots/pans) for a 5 minute meal when I could be, ya know, working on a side project, seems ridiculous. However, I do feel like I could eat a little more natural and better if I did cook more.


As someone who likes to cook but generally doesn't, I feel the problem is how this scales per mouths to feed.

Cooking for 1 or cooking for 5 doesn't involve much increase in the total time (5 sets of eating dishes instead of 1 and slightly larger cookware to clean) and has a slight decrease in price per mouth (buying food items in bulk is cheaper). Now I could cook big meals for just myself to eat 5 times along with buying in bulk, but this means a significant loss in freshness and variety (eating the same meal 5 times a week, 4 of those reheated, and bulk items mean the same core ingredients for multiple weeks). Finally top this off with the notion that more mouths to feed tend to mean more bodies to help cook/clean, and I personally find that this tips the scales to making cooking far less worthwhile when you are doing it by yourself for yourself.


This is how I look at it too. The shopping and transport overhead for ingredients, plus the overhead of time paying bills and stocking a kitchen in the first place is nontrivial also. Basically you need 2 people to make it work nicely, unless you're a foodie or are so used to cooking that you enjoy the shop/cart/unpack/retrieve/prepare/cook/clean cycle as meditation. Three or more is better.


You could freeze part of your leftovers or if you have friends/family/neighbors who cook, you could trade leftovers with them. It's still reheated, but at least you get more variety.


girlfriend and joke how despite being "modern" people we still have pretty traditional division of labor: she cooks, i manage money. it works for us. i agree that it's much better when you have a few people doing the scale-invariant tasks for each other.


Yes, though sometimes in non-obvious ways. For example, cleaning a pan after making pan-sautéed chicken is difficult until you realize you can make a pan sauce and get the pan clean at the same time.

Lessons are broken down into the mise en place steps (which makes preparation simpler). We're working on content now to help with simplifying cleaning, though the general mantra is to clean as you go.

Important metrics for us when creating lessons are number of ingredients required and number of dirty dishes that result. We want you to make things that won't fill a sink with dirty dishes and doesn't require a 30-minute, $100 trip to the grocery store. Satisfying all these requirements are hard and I don't think we've nailed it yet, but it's on our mind constantly.


To anyone that doesn't have a modern dishwasher but has the means to get one, do so!!

Seriously. I spent two years in my current place washing dishes by hand; there was an old dishwasher there that was broken and i thought "ah, don't really need it". When I had some flatmates move in we all chipped in and got a new dishwasher and it's seriously one of the best investments you can ever make.

Cleaning dishes for me now means putting dishes on a shelf, throwing in a tablet, closing a door and pressing a button. An hour later when the wash is done I just open the door and at some point when I feel like it, put the dry and clean dishes away. It does a better job than I ever did at a sink.

I've taken the same approach and recently invested the money in a Botvac to hopefully automate another chore that I just hate doing. So far it's been good too (still in the hand-holding stage, figuring out its trouble spots haha).

EDIT: One more appliance I've grown to not live without is my air-fryer. Think of it as an extremely efficient fan-forced oven that's the perfect size for a meal or two at a time. IMHO it's the perfect oven for a single person or a couple without kids.


It helps me to avoid recipes and instead come up with ideas based on my tastes and the things I have available. Going to the grocery store is then less about "shit, they're out of $ingredient" and more about "wow, the salmon looks really fresh this week". The actual act of cooking is the same--instead of focusing on following and mucking up someone else's recipe, I get to feel creative as I build something based on what sounds interesting. It's kind of like a mini side project.

Alton Brown is probably not an ideal source for recipes for you since he really goes all-out with ingredients and prep, but he's a fun way to learn about the science of cooking. His methods are hacker-ish, and that he doesn't follow same-old-same-old recipes helped me to stop worrying about doing things the "right" way.


Alton Brown is our guiding light for CookAcademy. (Our chef ironically also happened to be on Cutthroat Kitchen!)

Mark Bittman writes about the stages of learning how to cook and you are pretty advanced relative to others. Many of us haven't gotten to the point where we can realistically come up with ideas based on tastes because we don't know how they interact. Generalizing these ideas requires understanding how and why things work, which is exactly why Alton Brown is so useful to so many people. He breaks down the reasoning behind something so that you can generalize it the next time, or in a different dish, or apply a principle to something new altogether.


Exactly! You put that much more eloquently than I could've. I'm glad to hear that you're creating a product that makes that learning philosophy accessible.


That approach sounds like something coming out of experience. I hope to reach that level one day; right now my mind just blocks when it starts thinking about composing ingredients, and I revert back to the two or three recipes I know. I wish I started cooking as a kid, I was less anxious to experiment then.


You can start by putting together a list of ingredients you like. Many of these will be common ingredients for multiple recipes and go together in different ways. Nearly every time I go grocery shopping I get these things because my SO and I like them.

EG: chicken, beef, tomato, onion, peppers, mushroom, cheese, rice, quinoa, pasta, potato, carrot, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, corn, sauce, etc.

Make sure you have a good stock of different spices, salt, and pepper.

Start with something simple like just chicken pasta and each meal add in something from above suited towards your taste. As you run out of ingredients you'll realize you can still make good dishes. If you run out of pasta you can skip it completely or sub it out with quiona.

I often play the "lets see what I can make with what is still in the fridge" game :D


That's the way I started when I first moved out of home - very simply. I still remember wondering how I should cook a steak; how would I know when it was cooked? How do I know what to heat the pan to? Etc....

To go a bit philosophical, you have to lose the fear of engaging with your food and the cooking process. Don't be scared to play with your food while it's cooking. Smell it often, listen to the noises it makes, don't be worried about moving it around the pan and even take notice of how it moves - is it sticking to the pan? Does it seem a little dry? Does it smell good? Start doing this with the simplest of things - some oil in a pan and a steak or sausages, for example.

Don't worry about following recipes to the exact letter all the time, unless you're doing something like baking where the chemistry is more important to get accurate. If your time isn't exact or the temperature is a little off or you use more than a tablespoon of oil, see what happens. See what happens if you add salt, or if you don't. Observe it while it's happening. Don't be scared to taste something off the pan. If it doesn't taste good, ask yourself why? Then ask yourself how you might fix it.

Once you're not afraid to do that, cooking becomes a lot more fun and intuitive. Then you can follow recipes while engaging with them and the food.

I feel like this is something that many people who hate cooking or who are scared of cooking miss. Cooking shouldn't be a "follow the instructions to the letter otherwise one wrong step and boom!" process. Instead it's a highly interactive, very sensory thing.


Thanks for the tip. Yeah, the game of "lets see what I can make with what is still in the fridge" sounds totally fun! :D.


Yeah, you were right in the above comment that that ability does come from having some experience. But the "let's see what's in the fridge" game is a great way to get that experience! You'll undoubtedly mess a few things up, but that's just the process of learning.


It's weird... the more I think about it, the more I ask myself - "it's just like programming, another cool skill to master - why I'm so afraid of experimenting?"...


If I could upvote this a thousand times, I would. The problem, however, is that making a mistake in programming is not so painful. Making a mistake in cooking costs money and is often pretty embarrassing. I can easily see why you'd be more afraid of experimenting here.


Agree strongly RE embarrassing part - for now I just gave up on experimenting while cooking for friends; I tried it once, and they laugh at me ever since. Costs is also a factor, but I notice I'm afraid of experimenting even with small dishes and cheap ingredients the fridge is stocked full of.

I'm starting to realize now that it's just a stupid fear I need to overcome. I'm glad this thread forced me to think more about my attitude towards cooking.


Feel free to write to me privately anytime. I'd love for you to try some of the lessons on CookAcademy and let me know if it helps, too. One thing we're trying to reduce that fear of embarrassment is have a sort of automated helper when you're done. You answer questions about what went wrong and we provide feedback for how to improve it the next time. We also track your progress so you can get a good gauge of where you stand. Are either of those things helpful to you?


As a bachelor I do it like every day, two times per day ;)

(Yes, sometimes is a really hard game.)


I learnt by starting to cook Indian food when I moved here. A lot of Indian food has the same set of spices and similar procedures. Soon I realized that I can experiment with the ingredients and vary the spices to change flavor and it did not have an adverse impact on the final outcome. That caused me to loose the trepidation of experimenting in the kitchen and I do it with all cuisines now. And it has worked out well, cause I generally can manage to put a meal together with whatever is left in the fridge.


Years ago I bought a vegan cookbook, which had week-long recipe plans in it. I'm not vegan, but without the "meat + sauce" or "meat + veg" options the recipes had to be so much more inventive. It gave me some good ideas, a taste for chickpeas, and a willingness to add beans to anything that looks boring.

A flatmate has a book called simply "Saucen" (German for "Sauces") which provides a good basis for many meals.


>> It helps me to avoid recipes and instead come up with ideas based on my tastes and the things I have available.

I've been trying to learn how to cook ever since I moved roughly 3 months ago. My early attempts at replicating others' recipes had paid off decently so I attempted the hack-stuff-together approach on a couple of occasions. It did _not_ go well. :-/

I ended up with a ton of wasted ingredients not to mention the significant amount to time spent in prepping and later, cleaning up.

That said, I agree that (with a bit of experience) this approach to cooking is a lot more fun. As a comment elsewhere on the page says, cooking for yourself could sometimes be a pain (especially after you get home from work) and thinking of it as a side project really helps.


Is it normal in your country/culture/social group not to have much experience cooking? I had a lot of second-hand experience by the time I was 18 from simply watching my parents or other adults, and sometimes being asked to help.

I have some pretty basic recipes I cook if I'm a bit tired from work, I can make them without really thinking (e.g. diced chicken + green beans & cream + pesto.) Fortunately, the nearest shop is about 2 minutes detour from my route home, so I can wander in and buy the things I'm missing.


3 months isn't a long time.

I think one way to build up intuition is to cook a recipe with a very short list of ingredients multiple times, with small variations (like the size of cutting things up or cooking time or whatever).

One thing Good Eats consistently does is talk about whether an ingredient has a functional purpose in a recipe, and what that purpose is. Other cooking resources do that too, but usually not as well.


This right here is exactly right. If the reasoning is mentioned at all, it's usually incidental and not intentional. When we talk about salt in the seasoning step of our pan-sautéed chicken lesson, we wrote: "Salt "brings out the flavor" in chicken by reducing our perception of bitterness in foods. This, in turn, leads to an increased perception of sweet, sour, and umami (savory) flavors."

This is obviously a rather trivial example, but hopefully you see how generalizing this (and similar nuggets of information) can help.


You can see the link to my site elsewhere, but I'd be happy to help more thoroughly if you're interested. The ability to do this is not a reflection of your ability to think creatively but rather that you need to understand why you're using certain things and what effect they will have on your dish.


> The amount of time (purchase food, prep, cook, clean pots/pans) for a 5 minute meal when I could be, ya know, working on a side project, seems ridiculous.

This. That's the primary reason I keep eating unhealthy. Since I started working, I naturally gravitated toward few dishes that basically make themselves - e.g. french fries, boiled/fried sausage, etc. - basically anything I can drop on the stove and leave unattended for some time. Maybe if I started to seriously learn how to cook I'd start to like it, but for now it's something that I need to do to keep myself able to do other things.


I would strongly recommend slow cookers. You can leave it in the morning and get it in the evening. The recipes are straightforward and require little actual cooking knowledge.

Even better you can easily cook large quantities so you're not even cooking every day.

My healthy favorite is slow-cooked stew combined with rice-cooker brown rice/quinoa - both are set on timers so they finish just before we get home - so no reheating.


I second this advice. A slow cooker is really ideal for your use case and can have some dramatically amazing results.

Still, you can't slow cook something like a pan-sautéed chicken breast. But many people, particularly single people, simply don't want to expend the effort for the reward. I have no problem with that; been there, done that.


I make a slow-cooker vegetable soup: low-sodium V8 juice with whatever chopped vegetables and beans I feel like / have on hand, typically kidney beans, carrot, onion, mushroom, bok choy, garlic ...

It takes me about a half-hour to chop up the vegetables, but one round makes a lot of soup.


Yeah, you can basically throw some pork, spices, and a beer in a slow cooker and come home to awesome pulled pork that you can eat all week.


I used to do the same thing. I think the best way to get out of that cycle is to start trying to cook something good just 1 day per week. The rest of the week can be trash, but just plan 1 good recipe.

In the beginning, making a new dish takes forever and feels really stressful because it's all unfamiliar, but if you do it enough, it becomes something you can do on autopilot with very little thought or planning. Even having just 2 or 3 autopilot recipes that you've perfected logged in your brain somewhere makes such a huge difference. That doesn't mean you have to cook them every night, but you can at least break up the monotony and unhealthiness of your current meal options.

Plus, at least for me, having a meal that is healthy and actually tastes really good makes me so much more productive when I get back to work.


That's a really poor excuse. Healthy meals can be just as hands off as TV dinners and french fries.

1. chicken breast 2. broccoli 3. noodles 4. some sort of oil 5. salt

Put all of the above in a pan, stir it around, cook (covered or uncovered, play with it) for about 7-13 minutes.

Try different mixtures. Try different lengths of time. You don't even have to watch it unless you're concerned that your range might explode or something.


There are a few services now that deliver a box of ingredients and recipes for $60 or so a week for three meals. Plated, HelloFresh, BlueApron. They really helped us actually cook more, instead of talking about it. It still takes time (30-40 min per meal) but you do learn cooking techniques and you do eat much healthier. And while it seems expensive, we probably go out one less night a week because of it, saving $60 and coming out even.


The pain of going to buy ingredients is a big one for people. I just can't personally see myself spending that on much ingredient delivery, though my wife does get some things delivered from a CSA.

I think there are two other pains wrapped up in why people buy from these services: meal planning and instruction. Meal planning is hard and it helps to just treat it like picking from a menu than creating a plan out of thin air. To some degree these services provide some instruction, though I've heard people get instructional benefits from these to varying degrees. Would be curious to see how the instruction has helped you.


> Meal planning is hard and it helps to just treat it like picking from a menu than creating a plan out of thin air.

Ding ding ding, this is why I subscribe to emeals, there's so much "science" out there about what a meal should be composed of that I'd much rather not deal with it. It's easier to see 14 dinners and choose 7 rather than scout out recipes on my own (resulting in hours lost per week).

As far as instruction, I prefer having the small set of recipes from the service, because it gives me cooking breadth that I would otherwise have not bothered with. As I start encountering meals with similar preparation again and again, I can afford to see how much I can get away with playing with the recipe.


The main benefit is that we are cooking new things a lot more often. Three times a week, from scratch. You get pretty good at small dicing onions, I'll tell you that. Before, it was maybe cooking one time a week from a real recipe, plus pizza, pasta, leftovers, restaurants, and take-out.


Josh's wife here. We actually don't get the CSA food delivered...I pick it up. But I feel the same way. We eat a lot more vegetables and fresh food and it forces us to come up with new recipes to use up ingredients. A few weeks ago we got some chayote, which I had never seen in my life, but we ended up making a really good stew with it.

Even though we aren't getting a meal plan and instructions with our box of meat and produce, it still feels like part of the work is done. I see it as a good in-between option: not as expensive as the meal delivery services and not as much work as just planning and shopping for meals from scratch. I can see how it could be overwhelming for beginners, though, if they receive a bunch of ingredients they aren't familiar with.

I think that's where building the intuition and creative-thinking part of cooking becomes important. We're working on balancing this with CookAcademy -- trying to walk users through the cooking process in great detail, without letting them rely on that detail too much. We hope that teaching them the concepts behind what they're doing and encouraging experimentation will help them eventually rely on their senses and experience rather than relying on timers and measuring cups. To me, cooking feels like much less of a chore when you can get to that point.


Some of those get easier with practice - after a while you have a fully stocked kitchen, and you will develop a set of favorite recipes that you can just pick up what ingredients you need from memory. In essence, "planning" will become less work.

Doing the dishes remains a huge PITA, though.


Cooking is therapeutic :)


Since people expressed interest, my side project is https://cookacademy.com

Happy to offer whatever help I can outside of the site, too.


Do share! I'm interested.


I replied to myself above with the link.


Thanks. I don't even have kids yet. I'm still ~5 years from having little ones I'd imagine. Both of the people working with me on the project have kids, and I admire them (and you) tremendously for fitting everything in.


Once you have children, everything changes. I went from having 5+ hours of free time each day to -5 hours of free time every day. You have to get super efficient with everything in your life. Cut out the things that aren't the most important things. Kids (especially when they're between 0-7 years old) take up an enormous amount of energy and focus.

You'll learn tricks to improve your performance and squeeze more time into the day. But the biggest thing that's worked most for me is staying up later than I normally would prefer. I get a few extra hours for passion projects and still get everything in the day accomplished that I'm required to accomplish.

It's a tough slog. Immensely rewarding, but tough. Prepare yourself for the change in advance so that you don't go through the massive shock I experienced.


I have high hopes that the time I'm investing in my kids will not only benefit them, but long term will benefit me as well.

At 5 my oldest son is doing a lot of small chores around the house. He just passed the tipping point of where I can spend less time giving him directions than it would have taken for me to just do the job myself. I see this scaling over time.

A part of the "playing" that I do with him is building and repairing stuff around the home. He loves it. It takes much longer to complete anything that if I was just doing it myself, but I'm doubling up "play" and "chores" so it works out. For things that he can't help with I try to outsource.

I like some of the ideas of past generations who often viewed kids as resources.


I don't mean to offend, but have you considered what your child might think of you when they grow a bit older and find this comment?


They'll probably thank him for raising him well, and teaching him/her the value of a good work ethic, rather than being spoiled and lazy.


Ideally he won't think anything of it because I've spent so much time with him we're working side by side building his first business by that point.


I'd be careful, the more expectation you load onto a child, the more they push back in the teen years.


Quite true; and it's oddly frustrating to me to notice how much time the pre-kids version of me wasted.

There should be a way to borrow someone else's kids for 6 months or so, force yourself to carve the waste out of your life... and then wait another decade before having your own kids.


Hah, I would have paid for that service. :)


Please, step into my parlor of unsolicited advice for a moment...

will eventually be an open source project.

Lean Software people are right about one thing — you've gotta get software in front of users as quickly as possible. If the project timeline is "work for 6-8 months, then show people" it's possible you built an amazing thing only you know how to use and nobody else really wants.

Release early, release often.

My problem is that I have a full time job. When I come home at night

The simplest hack here: wake up earlier and use your first (and best) 2-3 productive brain hours on your project then go to work. You'll use your best performance (refreshed, alert, not tired) for your project while still not being fired.

I've considered quitting my job and diving into it for a few months. I have savings but this seems foolishly risky to me.

Yeah, that seldom works. Practical advice is: don't quit a job unless your side project is demanding an increasing amount of time and resources from customers/users (meaning: it's becoming successful). Non-practical advise is: screw work, if you're not happy, save money and do what you want.

If anyone has been in a similar situation, I would greatly appreciate advice.

The world isn't HN. You won't be an overnight success. You will fail. Nobody will use what you make. Or, you could be the next person the media starts comparing others against as a measure of unexpected success: "Is this new kid the next bglazer?"


> If the project timeline is "work for 6-8 months, then show people" it's possible you built an amazing thing only you know how to use and nobody else really wants.

This absolutely terrifies me.

> The simplest hack here: wake up earlier and use your first (and best) 2-3 productive brain hours on your project then go to work. You'll use your best performance (refreshed, alert, not tired) for your project while still not being fired.

I really, really enjoy my sleep :). This is certainly very practical advice, but it requires that I'm disciplined enough to go to sleep earlier the preceding night. That's difficult but certainly possible.

> Non-practical advise is: screw work, if you're not happy, save money and do what you want.

It's incredibly tempting. The problem (that actually isn't a problem) is that I enjoy my full-time work as well.

Thank you for the advice!


> I really, really enjoy my sleep :). This is certainly very practical advice, but it requires that I'm disciplined enough to go to sleep earlier the preceding night. That's difficult but certainly possible.

Then work late and sleep in :-) I can't do a lick of useful work before 10 (which isn't great, since my job starts at 8:30), but I can cram 2-3 hours of good stuff in after my kids go to bed every night. Try different times to see when you're at your best. It's worth it to feel like you're making progress on something awesome.

And I've got to echo seiji - just get your product out there as quickly as you can. Let your coworkers look at it. Send it around. It may be that no-one wants to use it in its present form, but just looking at what you're doing may shake loose ideas and directions for the project that never occurred to you. Getting outsiders looking at your work is the difference between building something neat and building something great.


This is 100% my situation with my side project. Understanding that all of these are approximations for a weekday: 12-9: sleep then get kiddo ready then get me ready. 9-5: job. 5-6: transit (ouch). 6-9: family. 9-11: side project (occasional breaks for other stuff, reading, vegging, etc). 11-12: cooldown (sometimes missed).

I show everyone that shows the slightest interest what I'm doing. I make incremental progress then, as a reward, work hard towards specific milestones on my nights off; my wife and I trade nights where we don't have to be a parent and get to go off and play and I often just go to a coffee shop and work on my side project.

My slow progress can be extremely frustrating but I try to offset that with the gratification when I achieve my milestones. I used to doubt that I could be this disciplined until this particular side project; now it's effortless because I'm doing what I want to do and it makes me happy.

And, ultimately, that's what decided it for me: am I doing what makes me happy? That's motivating for me. Not money, not fame. That's why that 6-9 family time is pretty inviolate and I tend to spend all my time with them on the weekends. Ultimately, my family makes me happier than my side project so they get the majority of my time and thought.

But that side project is always waiting to be worked on. ( =


The idea with getting up earlier is that, assuming you're able to get up to do it, you'll get it in that day. If you leave it for the end of the day, or even after work, you might not. I know I've had many days where I've come home from work completely drained, and can't really get myself to do much more than reheat food for dinner. I'd be willing to wager I'm not alone on this.


Not at all :-) What helps me is having enough variety in what needs to be done - coding, marketing, management, planning - that there's always something I'm not totally burned out on.


> I really, really enjoy my sleep :). This is certainly very practical advice, but it requires that I'm disciplined enough to go to sleep earlier the preceding night. That's difficult but certainly possible.

I think most people can relate. :)

I grew up with 8AM class throughout my childhood, so waking up at 7AM was a life-long habit when I got to college. And then I dropped it completely — I started sleeping from after 4AM until noon or so whenever I could.

At some point that got balanced out by more 8AM classes (and 5AM coffee shop shifts, but that's another story), but after college I fell into the less-than-ideal pattern again.

What worked in the end was simply setting the alarm clock and getting up, even when that meant I was effectively a zombie for a few consecutive days. At some point my body started giving up and going to bed at 10PM became the norm. These days it's anywhere between 9PM and 11PM on average, with a 6AM alarm clock even on the weekends. I spend my mornings either at the gym or doing something else productive (like side projects). Evenings are reserved for relaxation.


I have started many side-projects but left them half way, because i got bored or something else caught my eye. But with my latest project[0] I am following a simple philosophy by John Resig, "Write code every day"[1]. Even if i write code for 30 mins, it's okay. By following this i am always in touch with the project. It has helped me a lot in being disciplined.

[0]: https://github.com/smurfpandey/mysqlweb

[1]: http://ejohn.org/blog/write-code-every-day/


I've been in this situation for as long as I can think of. But lately I've found something which is working for the time being.

I don't use my car to commute to office. It takes 25 minutes via public transport (one way), so I use that time and build all the complex logic/data structure/algos in that time for my hobby project.

Cooking doesn't break my mental loop. So I keep thinking & solving things regarding my hobby project while cooking. (I also cook for my office lunch almost daily)

Most of the labour work (putting up CRUD forms or repeatable things, some graphics work etc) I do mostly on weekends when I don't have to use much brain but just keep moving things which are important.

Things are much better now than before. Even still my hobby project is slow moving but I can see it moving further.


BART never has seats. So I waste about 2 hours a day standing and doing nothing of value :(. Very jealous you get to program then.


I like to fill my commute time listening to technical presentations and interviews. I can't say I've accomplished anything that way. But, it has expanded my awareness of current tech and practices far outside of my 9-5.

Currently listening to: Functional Geekery, Mostly Erlang, the Lean Startup conferences and Giant Robots Smashing into Other Giant Robots.


I think people sometimes underestimate the increased efficiency of simply switching from driving to public transit (if you're able to). Even if public transit takes slightly longer, you're winning.

40 minutes on public transit getting working done or 30 min driving, completely wasted time?


My experience is I am more focused while on public transit because I feel a sense of urgency. "I am gonna be interrupted in N mins and I need to finish X". It works sort of like pomodoro technique I guess. Utilizing those time slots is key to achieving side goals (or our real goals?) in a busy life. :-D


Same here. A combination of the urgency and complete disconnect from everything else (no internet, etc).

I find I get some of my most focused, solid work done on the L.


Thanks. Unfortunately public transit is non-existent where I live. I'd love to spend my commute time working on the project rather than hoping that a distracted uninsured driver doesn't smash into me.

I do enjoy thinking about the project while cooking.

Good luck on your project!


Obviously moving can be a big deal, but IMO you should seriously consider it. You have a problem with available time, and commuting by car is a massive time sink. It's pretty insane how much "human capacity" is wasted this way!


The grass isn't always that green on the other side. Commuting on the nyc subway is no place to get work done, just as stressful and/or boring as driving, and despite the numerous and comprehensive lines commute times are still as bad as many drives.


The only way to do it is to have a job where you can complete the work in less than 5 hours a day. Preferably one that gives you the freedom to leave early/come in late so long as you're doing well on your work.

No one actually works 8 hours a day and comes home to work 4 hours sustainably. I couldn't see someone doing that for more than two months without getting burned out.


This is very interesting. I'm not sure how my company culture would tolerate my leaving early, but it does seem like the most practical option for actually getting work done.

I feel like I probably have enough autonomy to do this, but it's tricky business.


Actually I have been able to do this pretty easily, but its probably because I commute an hour and a half each way to work on a train. So I get 3 hours a day to work on things I want to work on.


This has been my problem. I have spent my entire career at government contractors, so I need to record 40 hours of butt-in-seat time every week in order to make the auditors happy, regardless of the actual work done. That makes my days 10 hours from when I walk out the door to when I walk back through it, sometimes less if I spend less than an hour at lunch.


I've been doing that for 3+ years now. If you truly enjoy what you are doing in your side project it can work. If not, perhaps you are just doing it for the money?


> My problem is that I have a full time job

The tyranny of the 40+ hour work week. Why is it that so few people are willing and/or able to negotiate working fewer hours in a week, for example 6 hours a day or 4 days in a week?

Is it fear of being fired for making such a request? Are the employers so powerful and the employees in such a weak bargaining position?

Or the fear of having to take a pay cut? Maybe people get used to too expensive life styles instead of keeping living frugally when the money starts rolling in. They're then in the fragile position of not being able to afford a slight reduction in income.

It's kind of sad that there is not a lot more individual variation in working hours, when people are simultaneously lamenting their lack of free time.


> Is it fear of being fired for making such a request? Are the employers so powerful and the employees in such a weak bargaining position?

Frankly, yes. I would be literally the only person I know who has such an arrangement.

Have you negotiated reduced hours? If so, I'd be interested in hearing your experience.


> Frankly, yes. I would be literally the only person I know who has such an arrangement.

Yeah, I guess the norm is too strongly ingrained, and employers like to keep it that way. If there was a "free" labour market you'd expect more variation, as it can't be right that the standard amount of working hours are perfect fit for everyone. Ditto with number of vacation days in a year, etc - in an ideal world it would all be negotiated based on individual preference. The status quo causes symptoms such as rush hour traffic, overly expensive flights and hotels as everyone goes on vacation at the same time, and people who are wealthy in monetary terms but starved of leisure time. It seems like this often leads to making up for it through overconsumption - to spend the extra income that the full time worker might not really need to satisfy his basic needs and wants.

Unfortunately I haven't made such attempts, and I'm currently a freelance contractor which already means I have more spare time when I want as I decide myself how many hours I work. I know about ex-colleagues who negotiated a four day working week for a commensurate reduction in salary, though that was in Norway.


I did the quit and focus thing. It ended up working out, but just barely. I was underwater for a while and my marriage about to fall apart.. I'm not sure I'd recommend the same path even though it did have a happy ending (co-founder of a well funded startup, a cash bonus that wiped out my worst debt, and my wife and I are back on good terms).

Wish I had better advice, but it is a hard problem. If you only have 3-5 hours per week, perhaps you should consider going to meetups instead, and networking outside of your existing communities? You might get more results out of that, or find an opportunity you are willing to leave your current job for.


That sounded like your wife was going to leave you because you were underwater doing what you wanted, and she changed her mind because you were solvent again. If that's case, assuming you already knew the kind of person you were married to, the quit-and-focus option was quite a gamble. I'm glad it paid out.


No, that would be an incorrect reference: it wasn’t about money issues at all. Not directly.

You see, when you are bootstrapping your revenue is contingent on making deliverables, getting customers (or in my case, donors), and otherwise doing time consuming work. Once you have depleted your savings and maxed out your credit cards, then you really start to feel the life-or-death, make-it-or-die pressure. At every given moment there is permeating risk that if you don’t push this update, if you don’t win that customer/donor, if you don’t make such a looming deadline, you will fail. And failure means the bank taking your house, losing all credit for 7 years, being unable to put food on the table, living on the street, and—let’s face it—owning up to defeat.

If that weren’t complicated enough, my wife started her second pregnancy at exactly the same time. Every moment that I was asking my wife how her day was, what the doctor had told her, playing with our other toddler, cooking dinner, or generally just being present was progress not being made towards that deadline, that customer, or a completed product.

There’s a pressure and a mentality here not too dissimilar from the gambler that keeps betting double-or-nothing with exponentially increasing risk, chasing the Martingale of success. Before long your entire life is on the table, and you’re rolling the dice. I made it to that point… and then rolled a natural 20. I got lucky. Sure, I “made my own luck” in the sense that a positive outcome was only possible because of all that work I’d put in. But possible does not mean probable, and the upward-trending outcome I am currently enjoying was very, very low probability. I got lucky, and I recognize that.

But a year ago? I was deep in a hole and doubling down, while totally ignoring other responsibilities and being unavailable to my wife, daughter, and newborn child. I was trading time now for an imagined future, at terrible odds. I think it was her who had more reason to wonder what kind of person she was married to, and I am eternally grateful that she stayed long enough to make it through.

We’re now well funded, making waves, and gathering customers. I’m pulling a steady paycheck and have wiped out the worst of my bad debt. I have a good comp plan with not insignificant equity. But with the information available to me at the outset, I don’t think I would make the same decisions again. I certainly wouldn't recommend someone else to do something so foolhardy. Some things are just not worth risking, no matter the reward.


"Or work on an art project"

Well, you might want to ask yourself if this project is really something you want to work on. That is, do you love it? If you'd rather be working on an art project, why not do that?

There's that famous Steve Jobs quote that goes something like, "you only make great things when you love what you do."


I'm in a very similar situation -- got a pretty decent open source project out (a mad 2-week programming project over a Christmas holiday vacation). But I'll be darned if I can find time to work on it now (how does the average person find 5 hours a day to watch tv?)

But here's what I'm starting to do now -- I set an alarm to make sure I remember to leave the office at 4:30 pm, instead of squeezing in that extra bit of work (or slacking off). That gets me a bit of a jump on the evening, instead of leaving work at 6:30 or so. Seems to be helping a bit.


> how does the average person find 5 hours a day to watch tv?

Watching TV is passive, which means you can do it while doing other things. I watch it while cooking, cleaning the house, doing the dishes, and other similar manual and low-cognition activities. In fact, I can't just sit and watch TV for very long.


Sounds like a scheduling issue to me, you either have to go full tit and code for 3-5 hours a night, every night, or you dont see progress.

That is the wrong way to tackle the problem, and you probably know it.

Attempt to set aside 30minutes to an hour a night to work on it, but no more, and you have to stop yourself from working more.

This is the only way I found worked for me. You dont have to set time every day (that part just helped in my case, I need consistency to build a habbit)


I've had a similar issue, and decided to treat it like a hobby - too risky to see as a job, but too interesting to ignore.

If you have a hobby and part of the pleasure of the hobby is the end result, then I'd suggest carving time out daily to work on it like exercise. Even an hour a day and 2 hours on each weekend would triple the time you've put into it to date.

That said, if you enjoy doing other things more, I wouldn't sweat it.


I'm with you on this and will hungrily lap up any advice on the subject.

I write code that can't be open sourced for work, but want to contribute to OSS projects. But dammit, at the end of the day or week of coding all the time for my full time job, it is hard as well to sit down in front of the screen again without going mad.

Life, kids, wife, non-coding hobbies, coding hobbies -- whirlwind of competition for my time. Ugh.


I'm in the same boat. All programming effort was for work and no time for side projects. Until recently. I've started making projects open source by default and committing something at least once a day no matter how insignificant. This has kept my motivation going and hard to find an excuse not to fix or add this one little bug or feature. README file clearly states its alpha work in progress so others know what to expect. Something about putting your work out there that makes you want to maintain and improve upon.

Good luck, start small, make a few commits.

Oh, and if not open source software, try getting minimum product out so you can feel that sense of obligation to improve and develop further


I was exactly where you were and it didn't work for me. In my opinion the only way to build something substantial enough that is worth selling is to quit your job. If you put your whole mind to something you can accomplish exponentially more than being scattered about. I think a more realistic approach is to put all of your effort into saving money via a job, and then all of your effort into your own business. Jack of all trades, master of none and all that. Again that's my opinion YMMV. Whatever you are doing make sure you are enjoying it otherwise what's the point?


What I do is to sometimes take a 'sanity day' to sit at home or in a library and get some serious work done. 9-5 (or whatever) just like work. You even get to sleep in instead of commuting. I realize that this is partially because I've been lucky to have jobs where taking one day won't be a vacation/sick-day disaster-overreach.


Wife and 2 kids with full time job here, trying to build a side project currently worth approx $1-2k/month. If you're not prepared to spend the hard hours to build it up, you're not going to succeed. Suck it up if you believe in it. Sorry to be so harsh, but most people don't get fairy tale success stories.


I can completely empathize. I have a family, and so it takes even more effort to create the time and find the space to make things happen.

I just launched a game into the App Store. The journey was incredible, and filled with joy, sweat, and tears.

I've written about what I've gone through. It might be helpful for you. A small caution... these are relatively long posts, but hopefully they are enjoyable, insightful, and personally beneficial for you.

My experiences with what I felt while developing the game:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8888070

An older post that I wrote about work, embracing the grind, and driving through.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7076143

I wish you every success.

P.S. I figured I should do a TL;DR since those posts are even more epic in length than I realized, so I snagged some salient points:

1. You may look at your project and think, "I'm never going to make it. I'll never finish." Please, I urge you to set these thoughts aside and push through. Think about the analogy of building a wall. A wall is built one brick at a time. Watch a mason build a wall one day. You will observe that he or she lays one brick at a time.

This is how you have to view your project. Sure, it would be amazing to have an entire day, every day to devote to your project. However, the reality is that most of us simply do not have that luxury. So, strive to think of it as a mason: lay one brick at a time, and eventually the wall will be built. Every character that you type into Xcode, Visual Studio, etc. turns into a keyword, a variable name, etc... that subsequently turns into a line. Those lines build up, day by day, and before you know it, you have a program, and you look back and think, "Wow, why did I ever think I could not finish?"

2. You have to fight. This is paramount. I will say it again... you have to fight! What I mean here is fighting by engaging your Will. Engage your will to get up, to get moving. Engage your will to eat right, to exercise and go to bed on time so that you have the energy to get up and bring it.

3. You never know where your work will take you. Do not forget that, you have to dream it first in your mind before you can see it in your life. And to see it in your life, you must work. You may not be able to see things clearly now, but you never know what doors could open for you that you did not even know existed.

4. I find that I read this story at least once a month; it's just incredibly encouraging to me:

http://whatshihsaid.com/2013/02/26/ang-lee-a-never-ending-dr...


Thank you Arjuna! Congratulations on publishing your game.

From your linked post:

> Even the people around you won't understand the mental suffering that you are silently muscling through; you, torn between two worlds as the aforementioned autonomic function pushes and strains you to your personal limits. You measure the day's progress in centimeters rather than meters. You will either summit, or freeze to death on the mountain in your boots; the summit in sight, but just out of reach. Which-ever event happens, you feel alone, either way, because no one is carrying the sheer weight of The Vision than you. It is all you. It has only ever been you. There is no one to save you.

I snapped and yelled at my girlfriend the other day because I felt like she didn't understand the work I was putting into the project and the stress it caused me. That was definitely a low point for me.


Thanks!

I understand. From my experience, the most important items here are:

1. Keep the lines of communication open in your relationship. Sometimes, these feelings and lack-of-understanding that she is expressing may be because you are out of sync with her needs (i.e., she may feel like your work is taking precedence over your relationship and her). I know that finding balance is easier said than done, but, I feel the secret may be in:

2. Strive to carve out time to work in the early-morning or late-evening, whichever works best for your relationship. That way, you can attempt to perform a, "separation of concerns", if you will, in your life. This will serve to reduce the impact of your side project on your relationship. You may find that she is more understanding if you have a set schedule of working that is balanced and low-impact on your quality time together. Plus, with a set-schedule, your focus, stress-levels, and output will be better, because you will be working in a more balanced way.

Hope that helps. I know it's tough for creatives like us to find balance, as we work during the day at the mine, then try to create time for our side projects while juggling exercise, relationships, family, etc.


Are you in a position to negotiate four days/week with your employer?


It can be tough to stay motivated while working alone. If you're happy to share the success with other people you could build it with the help of the assembly.com community.


Well, you can hire someone to work on it for you.

You can upload the project to github and try to get people to help you for free.


Same boat here, IAmA designer, PM if you need anything!


I believe that the solution could be to try to find collaboration in a liquid organization like ttps://assembly.com. I think that it's a good model exchanging labour ( instead of funding ) for shares. I haven't joined any of these projects yet for two reasons: I am not excited by the one already available and was focused until 1 month ago on my new app for iPhone which unluckily is not going well from a sales perspective even if the little feedback from users is positive. Good luck with your venture.


I hope this question isn't too forward - but my main question is 'how did you afford to do this?'

I have had plenty of fun little side projects (some finished some not), but my main project is my salaried position. Aside from being independently wealthy, how can one create and maintain a long term open source project as a full time job. Consulting on the side? Donations? Something else?

P.S. Thanks for Redis :)


Unfortunately I've no good answer for your question, since I'm sponsored by Pivotal, but if we consider the percentage of open source software created, only a small percentage is sponsored. Many developers simply do it for free, as I did it in the first year of Redis developments, because I had an alternative stream of money to pay the bills. So, my point of view, is that the IT ecosystem is broken and IT companies are leveraging a huge value from OSS without providing enough back to pay developments of more OSS. It is one of the biggest injustices currently happening in the "rich world", but there is no easy fix.


I've been broadly thinking about ways to take a bite out of this challenge. I've visited a couple of 1% for the planet[1] companies and been really inspired by what I've seen. In short, these companies pledge 1% of revenue to environmental causes. As the company scales it has a massive effect on their culture. I visited New Belgium Brewing (makers of Fat Tire) for instance, and a huge number of their employees are solely responsible for thoughtfully putting that money into action and funneling it into worthy causes. Imagine the impact that a double-digit percentage of the workforce of your successful company whose job it is to stand up for the things you decided were important _besides profit_. It's really incredible.

I really like the idea of setting up guard-rails like this to embody cultural values early on in ways that keep the organization accountable to them at scale and I wonder if something similar could help OSS. It's not hard to imagine a similarly structured pledge being adopted by companies and being popular with developers. It could be structured in hours or money, executed with developer time, donations, or hosting OSS developers like Stripe has done.

If I allow myself the thought exercise of what happens if something like this started to see adoption, I imagine we'd see projects beginning to license themselves favorably to companies who make this pledge in a variety of ways.

At any rate. That's roughly what I've been noodling around with regard to this problem.

[1] http://onepercentfortheplanet.org/ and I highly recommend Yvon Chouinard's book Let My People Go Surfing, which was where I was first exposed to the idea http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/let-my-people-go-surfing...


I've visited a couple of 1% for the planet[1] companies and been really inspired by what I've seen. In short, these companies pledge 1% of revenue to environmental causes.

Interesting approach, but I bet those companies also aren't high growth tech startups/companies. The only goal at a growing tech company is reduce costs, increase revenue. They aren't looking for new ways to pay for things they legally get for free.

My favorite example is Redis at Twitter: Twitter has over 30,000 Redis servers deployed around the world using a total of over 500 terabytes of RAM (half a petabyte!), and they certainly have no interesting in paying for Redis. If Redis were typical "commercial software" licensed per-core or per-other-shennigans, they'd be paying over $70 million per year for Redis.

(Redis is a unique position because the core dev team of Redis has always been small so it's easier to measure the direct exploitation involved versus other projects with thousands of amorphous developers like Linux or Hadoop or Apache.)

Many open source projects are essentially corporate welfare. We work, make products companies use to make money/become more efficient/grow faster, the companies use the software for free to get richer, then nobody contributes back any of the gains.


I do want to argue the point. :)

The strange miracle of open source software is that when companies use something like Redis to make a lot of money, they end up investing in it, they contribute work to the project, and the community does gain from their contributions. In other words, the whole point of OSS is that exactly the thing you say never happens, happens all the time.

Most open source development is commercial.

To take an example from my day job: Bloomberg (the financial media giant) sponsored Andy Wingo (of Igalia, that guy is a genius) to contribute support for ES6 generators to both Mozilla's JS engine and Chrome's. An example of his amazing work:

http://wingolog.org/archives/2014/11/14/generators-in-firefo...

Companies use all things to get richer. That's the operating principle of companies. The competing model to open source is commercial software, in which the company owning the software has a monopoly over it and uses it to get richer... and the companies licensing it still use it to get richer.

In corporate welfare, the money given to companies is taken from someone else's pocket. Open source software is cheap because it eliminates the artificial costs of copyright monopolies.


In other words, the whole point of OSS is that exactly the thing you say never happens, happens all the time.

It's a matter of project scale too. Nobody cares about exploiting Hadoop because it's millions of lines of low quality code written by thousands of day-job developers.

But, if a project is clearly the work of, say, 2-5 individual developers, it's easier to see how those individuals are creating much more value than anybody is possibly compensating them for.

The main complaint seems to be "offering things for free then expecting good things to happen" doesn't work. So the only solution is "offer things for free and also provide support/services/hosting/accoutrement to companies with big pockets."

The trick is: how do you incentive companies to pay in the first place? There's the mongodb model: market, popularize, and aggressively sell broken software so people must buy support or else nothing works at all, or there's the RedHat model: target big companies and become their source of trust/knowledge for complicated things the buying company doesn't want to manage/understand themselves.

It can be difficult to sell highly popular, non-broken, simple software. It works, people use it, there are no problems, so, why pay, even when it runs your multi-billion dollar company (especially when the free support resolves all issues in less than 20 minutes anyway)?


But, if a project is clearly the work of, say, 2-5 individual developers, it's easier to see how those individuals are creating much more value than anybody is possibly compensating them for.

I think this is true of anything worth doing.

I like your characterization of the mongodb model and the RedHat model. (I don't see anything wrong with RedHat's model, by the way. More power to them.)

But your complaint would have made a lot more sense fifteen years ago. Now there are a lot of other models. There are even other models that work really nicely!

There are consultancies, like Igalia. Some companies hire open source developers because they use the project and want to make sure active development continues (antirez's day job might be an example of this; at a guess that's why Google once hired GvR, the creator of Python). Some use OSS projects as a recruiting tool; smart ones use it as a signal of quality in hiring. If you selectively hire engineers with OSS on their resumes, you are unwittingly paying returns to OSS development.

Companies can also use OSS to reduce the cost of external efforts that are strategically important to them, and they can win a developer mindshare benefit from doing so. This is why Microsoft open-sourced the .NET platform (under a good license!).

I'm no VC but the bazaar seems healthier financially than it's ever been.


the bazaar seems healthier financially than it's ever been.

Well, it's the difference between getting paid (salary, fixed, no logical incentive to grow/improve) versus getting paid (percentages of benefit, the more benefit you create the more you make, growing non-linearly with your actual output).

All of this is really just complaining around the fact it's not easy to reap rewards proportional to the benefit of software without creating a company and all the overhead required therein.

Another great example: memcached. It's well known facebook uses memcached heavily. The creator of memcached doesn't see any benefit from their usage of his software. Modern high-growth, multi-billion dollar companies are built on top of the work of individuals they don't even attempt to compensate.

Some of these arguments also apply to modern exploitation of musicians a la spotify/steal-my-music-ify, etc.


Well, it's the difference between getting paid (salary, fixed, no logical incentive to grow/improve) versus getting paid (percentages of benefit, the more benefit you create the more you make, growing non-linearly with your actual output).

(postlude)

It occurred to me this morning that even in theory, market economies don't pay to the seller a percentage of the buyer's benefit. They never do: it's not how they work. The full area under the demand curve, above the line indicating price, accrues to the buyer. Buyers that get a very great benefit (tangible or intangible) out of buying a pencil, a gallon of gas, or a computer generally pay the same price as those for whom the benefit is very slim; and there is no limit to that benefit.

This is mostly beside your point, I know. I just thought it was a nice idea, worth sharing.


That's pretty much exactly the point. I think this is a commitment that probably ought to be baked in from the beginning, before a company scales. It's hard for a large company to make a commitment like this commensurate with it's size without making the commitment early and scaling it along with everything else.

As for size, NBB is the second largest craft brewer in the country and Patagonia is a very large player in outdoor apparel.

>The only goal at a growing tech company is reduce costs, increase revenue.

Right. Fuck that, because that's not actually (ever) really the goal. Money's always a means to some end, so another way of looking at this is to put a stake in some particular end that you want to share with everyone at the company. That's culture. Culture is shared values, and this is a way to make culture measurable and something the organization is held accountable for over time.

Yet another way to look at this is what happens if when Larry and Sergey decided on "Don't be Evil" someone told them "That's adorable, but why don't you think harder about how to turn this into something measurable".


I don't want to argue your point and you should read heavily into the "tragedy of the commons" problem that plagues many open source communities, but companies can give back in many ways, in terms of bug fixes, features and improvements to the projects they use (at least wise companies do).

In Twitter's case, we've also contributed to the Redis ecosystem via twemproxy: https://github.com/twitter/twemproxy

Twemproxy helps scale some of the traffic for the top websites in the world: https://github.com/twitter/twemproxy#users


can give back in many ways

The standard way society compensates persons for useful goods and services is by exchanging currency, not by bartering favors or by saying "look! we made a billion dollars using your software, here, have these free 40 lines of code as a bug fix. thx."

Unrelated note: every time I see these (needlessly?) optimized string compare statements, I fall out of my chair laughing and/or crying: https://github.com/twitter/twemproxy/blob/a36fdae2a8a3c166d9...


The standard way people indicate to society that they would like to exchange currency is by setting a price for their product.

It doesn't seem particularly fair to say "here world, use my open source project for free," and then get mad that people use it for free.

And in fact, I don't think antirez is saying that. It looks to me like other people, who didn't build Redis in the first place, are the ones saying that.


I guess what I'm saying is, I don't see how your (or anyone's) interests would be served by the cost of Redis being a lot higher.


Open source software succeeds because there's no friction for trying new things. So, initial cost will always be zero. People love seeing their software used for new things, so nobody wants to prevent adoption. At the same time, nobody wants to support billion dollar companies for free. It's a perverse inversion of incentives.

Redis gets feature requests from companies all the time (implement X! It'll save us from lots of complexity and internal support time!), but they don't want to pay for it. Redis also gets support requests from big companies (where employees have already exited or sold stock back or are out buying Teslas), and I get to answer their questions for free too. I'm really happy Redis is running your multibillion dollar company and I'm certainly happy you see no irony in asking for free support when your company is visibly hemorrhaging idle cash. Sometimes you just have to say http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fupm&defid=54....


ideally, what you want to say is "here's my software; if you need a good, free solution you're welcome to use it. however, if you're making millions off a stack that my work is essential to, i would like a share".

cory doctorow has made a similar argument about copyright and the absurdity of one-size-fits-all:

> We're trying to retrofit the rules that governed multi-stage rocket ships (huge publishing conglomerates) to cover the activity of pedestrians (people who post quotes from books on their personal blogs). And the pedestrians aren't buying it: they hear that they need a law degree to safely quote from their favourite TV show and they assume that the system is irredeemably broken and not worth attending to at all.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/jan/26/copyright-...


> Many open source projects are essentially corporate welfare.

You say "many", implying not all. What differentiates the "corporate welfare" category of OSS in your mind?

> We work, make products companies use to make money/become more efficient/grow faster, the companies use the software for free to get richer, then nobody contributes back any of the gains.

It seems more complex than that to me. I contribute to OSS, but I also owe my career to OSS. I learned to program using an OS language, an OS database, an OS editor, etc, and still use such tools. I never would have started learning if all that had cost money. So the "welfare" goes to companies, but also to individuals, who may come back and contribute.

Companies have also hired me based on my OSS contributions, which incentivizes me to do more.

"We give, they get" is oversimplified, at least in my case. I got, I gave, I got more, I continue giving.


History repeats itself, this book needs to come back in style...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ragged-Trousered_Philanthro...


Salesforce follows a “1-1-1 model”[1], where 1% of the company's product, equity and time is pledged to improve communities around the world, and they're the definition of a high-growth tech company.

[1]: http://www.salesforcefoundation.org/about-us/


I agree. Let's close this issue: https://github.com/ABISprotocol/ABIS/issues/1


> the IT ecosystem is broken and IT companies are leveraging a huge value from OSS without providing enough back to pay developments of more OSS.

This!

Not only IT companies but VC's and startup entrepreneurs all rave about how fast and easy it is to develop and get a MVP out the door these days compared to year ago.

What % of their tech stock is OSS that they leveraging for FREE?! Not only that but if you run into a bug, you can even submit an issue ticket directly on github and get a dev to respond and potentially fix your issue for FREE!

Obviously, the pure technology is not the sum of startup execution, but I wonder how many of these people made huge $$$ without donating a nickle to the OSS projects that provided the backbone of their entire technology stack!


Glad to hear that it is sponsored - I did not know that. I agree with your points on the injustice, but with OSS it is hard to have it both ways. Lots of innovation comes from using OSS as building blocks by folks just starting out, who cannot afford it. Maybe we need more vocal social stigma against large profitable companies who built their company on free software and who don't give back. I've seen a couple good things happen recently though - with GPG and FreeBSD. Hopefully it is the beginning of a trend.


Pivotal is arguably a grand experiment to try to build an eventual RedHat-sized revenue stream on open source through subscription pricing. It's $300m now, and everything is open source or just was announced will be open sourced this year. Most of it in house R&D, some like Redis is sponsored patronage.

What's interesting is that most enterprises don't really want to freeride - they don't have the knowledge or legal will (indemnity) to go it alone, plus have esoteric requirements that usually don't lead to good open source projects and will pay for proprietary add-ins.

The main free riders are startups that couldn't afford a subscription anyway (until they scale and want help), along with service/cloud providers that are at such enormous scale and have such a large braintrust that they can go it alone. These are the organizations IMO (the Googles of the world) that really need to sponsor individuals and OSS foundations to avoid a tragedy (like GPG or even OpenSSL).


I think many people agree that hireing in IT is kind of broken. I think many people in the business world understand PR/marketing budgets. I'd position FLOSS spending as a way to open a marketing channel to potential employees.

The good players that give back need to be recognized and praised.

[I honestly have a hard time understanding why bigish companies that use/rely on the software don't just give 50k to the GPG developer or sponsor OpenBSD etc. which can be great PR while they can spend similar sums on somewhat silly PR campaigns. I guess "IT people" generally don't have much input when it comes to PR...even outisde of signaling that you're a cool employer it's genuine good PR for (tech) companies]


patio11 has a good suggestion in this article (see the last section "A Brief Meditation on OSS") - http://www.kalzumeus.com/2015/01/28/design-and-implementatio...


This seems to be the way that commercial Wordpress themes are sold. 100% GPL licensed, but sold in the normal way. eg http://crowdfavorite.com/carrington-build/docs/faq/#license. It seems to be working.


Yeah, that's a great point, but due to the unique "sponsorship" arrangement of Redis, Redis isn't actually allowed to accept money from anybody else for anything.

It's a tradeoff between "stable" income and "potentially unlimited" income, and Redis is still in the "stable" column.


That still relies on the company, or people therein being not quite economically rational: free riding is cheaper. Unless of course everyone does it and the good in question is then underprovisioned. It is certainly worth a try, though!


The thing is, free riding isn't necessarily cheaper for anyone.

When you're depending on the software in question, it being underfunded might mean you're not getting the quality and features that would pay off in multiples for you. You could be sitting on a pile of bugs, or your dependency could be abandoned at your expense. These things happen all the time in open source land and it's a tragedy.

I'm not convinced that freeriding is really rational at all. I would however grant that it's both easy and lazy.


Obviously it depends on the circumstances. There are cases where it's so important to you that you might as well pay up, free riding or not.


you don't have to look far to see how true your words are - there've been multiple security fiascos pretty much directly caused by what you describe and hopefully things like http://www.linuxfoundation.org/programs/core-infrastructure-... will start appearing. one can hope there will be a time when such initiatives will happen proactively instead of in response to a disaster...


> IT companies are leveraging a huge value from OSS without providing enough back to pay developments of more OSS. It is one of the biggest injustices currently happening in the "rich world", but there is no easy fix.

GPL?


Making everything virally GPL doesn't solve the problem of nobody paying for open source development.

I actually think if everything out there was GPL'd, it would make it even more difficult to build businesses and make money from open source software, because you couldn't use open source in a proprietary project if you so chose.

I think instead we need a set of incentives in which it's a terrible idea to use software, open source or not, without sharing a fair slice of the value you're getting with the author(s). How to actually implement this is left as an exercise for the reader.


> it would make it even more difficult to build businesses and make money from open source software

Yes, isn't that kind of the point?


Not in the slightest. If people are able to get paid for what they do, they're able to invest quite a bit more time and attention to doing it. Ideally, people could get paid for their development of software based on how useful others find it, without the collapse of value that comes from artificially making it scarce. There's nothing that guarantees that's a reachable ideal, though...


What about dual licensing? People who don't pay get GPL, while those who pay get BSD/MIT?


Then one person pays, gets BSD/MIT code, and shares it freely.

So, if you set the cost of BSD/MIT code for each release enough for one sale to fund the whole cost of the release, it might work.


I'm not sure it makes sense to have your second non-GPL license be BSD/MIT; wouldn't it be better to make it some proprietary license, licensing it specifically to the customer who pays for it?

But anyway; in my limited anecdotal experience, I don't know that all companies would bother sharing the BSD/MIT code anyway. They tend to be occupied doing their own work, not redistributing whatever open source software components they got from somewhere else.

Some companies might; but the point is that, I think that, no, they would not necessarily pay for it and then share it with everyone else.


They have to maintain it too if they want other people to use it. Red Hat and CentOS comes to mind. Nobody can run OSS RHEL without doing the same work the CentOS people are doing.


> They have to maintain it too if they want other people to use it.

Sure, but BSD/MIT projects can sell premium proprietary derivatives and services to fund both the open source and proprietary parts of the project -- heck, a company planning to do the proprietary aspects could buy the BSD/MIT license to the project and contribute that to a community project, and then contribute some staff development time to the open parts of the project while also building a proprietary derivative (see, e.g., EnterpriseDB and PostgreSQL.) And, the people that are likely to do that are the most likely to spend money to get a BSD/MIT license for something with a free GPL license, since they would actually have a financial interest which would justify the cost.


Traditionally, dual licensing works with GPL plus a "regular old commercial" license to integrate the library (it's usually a library) into the proprietary code.

It's a viable model for some things, like libraries; not so much for others.

Funding open source is a tricky problem. It is, in some ways, a 'public good' in the economics sense:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good


If you make a dual license GPL/commercial product, how will any other people contribute? Wouldn't they have to agree that their contribution has GPL + whatever commercial licence the project maintainer sells to some company later?


Exactly, they have to assign copyright to you/your company.


No, they just need to give you a sub-licensable license. It might sound like the same, but it means they can still use their own work as they wish (and give out other licenses), unlike copyright assignment.


> think if everything out there was GPL'd, it would make it even more difficult ... because you couldn't use open source in a proprietary project.

If everything was GPL'ed, there would not be any proprietary projects. Everything would be GPL'ed.


As someone who likes the GPL and supports the idea that all software should be Free, the thing that bothers me about it is how "closed" it is to projects based on other Free licenses.

GPL projects "take" from BSD/MIT/Apache/etc projects (in the form of libraries, supporting software, etc) and only give back with conditions they can't accept.

You can say it's on them, for choosing the license they chose, they accepted that this could happen, but on the other hand, isn't that exactly what we're criticizing companies for?


The aim of the GPL is to ensure that the recipient of a program has the right, from a legal stand point, to obtain and modify its source code and redistribute the result under the same license.

The FSF is hostile to proprietary software and criticize liberal licenses because they don't provide these guaranties.


I understand that, but while the FSF might criticize liberal licenses, both GNU and many other GPL projects use code under those licenses, while their code is closed to the original projects. That's what bothers me.


And by choosing liberal licenses, those original projects have indicated that they're fine with that. Seriously, I don't see the problem.

If you don't want people to use your code without making their changes available to you, license it under the GPL. That's what the GPL is for. Criticizing GPL projects for the fact that some projects are not GPL seems an odd way to spend your outrage budget.


I'm not outraged. I'm torn over the ethics of my personal creations and contributions to GPL-licensed projects.

And I don't agree that choosing a license means the authors are necessarily fine with their code being used in such a way - it might just mean they don't believe in using (copyright) law to enforce it.

And even if they are fine with my activity, that still doesn't mean I must be OK doing it. As an analogy, I wouldn't sell tobacco, despite the buyers actually wanting to buy it.


A copyright license is the tool used by authors to tell the world how they want their code to be used. If someone publicly state that they like vanilla ice cream, but personally don't, then their public statement is silly.

If someone do not believe in using copyright law and dislike those who do, they should act accordingly and not deal with proprietary companies at all. Those are the majority users of copyright law in the software industry, as the number of GPL law suits vs proprietary ones is several order smaller.


If someone do not believe in using copyright law and dislike those who do, they should act accordingly and not deal with proprietary companies at all.

Sure. But that still doesn't resolve my dilemma, it just narrows it down.

Is it legitimate to take code published under a liberal license by someone who doesn't deal with proprietary companies at all and use it in a GPL project, knowing that it prevents the original project from using that derived code?


No, because thanks to GPL the code is available.

LLVM is a great project and brought the possibility of .NET/Java tooling to C and C++, but just check the amount of GPU shader drivers, Swift and some embedded compilers for examples of companies abusing BSD/MIT/Apache/etc projects.


> LLVM is a great project and brought the possibility of .NET/Java tooling to C and C++, but just check the amount of GPU shader drivers, Swift and some embedded compilers for examples of companies abusing BSD/MIT/Apache/etc projects.

Its not "abuse" to do something the license is designed to permit. Not everyone -- and particularly not everyone who chooses non-copyleft free software licenses for their projects -- agrees that the reciprocal obligations enshrined in the GPL represent fundamental moral obligations that exist without the GPL and that violation of them is "abuse" in the absence of a agreed requirement, e.g. contained in a license, to adhere to them.


On the other hand, consider the following: Emscripten, Numba, Julia, Rust, Pyston, Pure, Polly, Mono-LLVM, ghc -fllvm, Terra, ... and those are just the ones I can think of in a few seconds. Several of these have the potential for huge impact over the next decade, and nearly all of them would have been significantly less viable either using GCC tooling (due to license-driven architectural decisions) or building a backend from scratch.

LLVM is known for being rather ruthless with their API refactorings. This has the twin advantages of keeping the code quality very high, and giving people an extra incentive to contribute upstream (e.g. the PS4 compiler backend). I won't go so far as to say this is intentional, but it does represent a rather amusing way to discourage users from keeping everything in-house.


Code under the Microsoft Reference Source License is also available, but would you not consider it an abuse if, say, Microsoft made a LLVM-based language under that license?

The code being available is only useful if you can use it, and my point is that projects under most FOSS licenses can't use GPL-licensed code, which only takes without giving back in a usable form.


AGPL


as someone who works on a lot of side projects: figure out where most of your free time goes and decide if you can sacrifice the hours you spend on those activities for side projects... and then actually do it.

I watch very little TV. I have only a couple of friends that I see every few months max. I don't go to meetups, I don't use social media and I don't play a lot of video games. I can hardly stand to see a day go by without creating something however small it might be.

I don't celebrate holidays and don't see family very often either. That helps a ton - I worked through Christmas and NYE last year while everyone else was partying... and then I switched to a side project on the weekend.

I also have a sleep schedule that makes most people cringe: go to sleep anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30pm, get up anywhere between 4:00am and 6:30am.

All that said, I think its incredibly important to switch off for days at a time every couple of weeks or months and break all the rules. Watch TV all day on a Friday or something.

Edit Sorry, I misread your question: "how can one create and maintain a long term open source project as a full time job"

That's something I have been working towards and haven't succeeded at yet. I'm leaving my comment up in case it helps anyone though.


Whoa. Giving up friends & holidays for your side project is a really bad idea. Don't do this. Your side project is not worth being alone & unhappy for.

I'm guilty of working Christmas & New Year, I'm guilty of ditching friends' parties to work on side projects. It rarely gets you further ahead on your project anyway, and can do more damage than you realize to friendships. You have to practice your social skills regularly, and friendships are harder to make the older you get. If you don't put in the time with your friends they'll eventually lose interest in you & move on. Neither of you will really understand each other.

Partying may seem frivolous (and it often is), but it's also a key way of getting to know people & bonding with them. Social media can also be a way to keep up with what's important in the lives of your friends and understanding their interests. Both have their uses.

Giving up TV & video games is a good idea, and if your friends are addicts or lazy or negative then it's a good idea to find better friends. But remember that things you create are ultimately for other people, and it's important that you understand people so you can create better things for them. Code is such a small part of any project, a lot of it involves wetware. Some of your best opportunities will come from the friends you make and the people you meet.

Apologies for the rant, but please take it from someone who's been there & learned a lesson.


Good advice for most, but I was raised without holidays due to my birth religion. Now I'm a dirty atheist with no attachment (spiritual or traditional) to holidays and I have to admit that I really like it that way.

The lack of family is imposed, not chosen (see above: left strict birth religion).

The lack of friends is somewhat chosen, somewhat imposed. my best friend and his fiance move to another country recently, another good friend started dating a celebrity and moved to the west coast, and most of the other people whom I considered friends sort of just faded away.

I do live with my girlfriend though (who is also a happy shut in - we met randomly on the internet a year ago) - so I'm not in complete seclusion.

> things you create are ultimately for other people, and it's important that you understand people so you can create better things for them.

This is an excellent point, thank you for it.


This post is nearly a mirror image of myself! I tend to relax on the major holidays (xmas and nye), but everything else is the same. My brain is constantly working on some problem that is of interest to me. I have time to do side projects because that is what I do for fun.

I have the same sleep schedule as you (I work in Cambridge, MA but live West of 495), although I'm not sure if I'd voluntarily choose it. Working alone in the mornings is quite productive though.

And I second the sentiment "it's important to switch off for days at a time."

I expect much of this will change when kids come along though. ;-)


I have a ten year old daughter - nothing has changed yet, she's as bad as i am ;)


That's fantastic. Gives me hope! :)


Your point is related, though.

Your side projects cannot become your main income if you have no side projects.

To make time for side projects, you need to weigh the importance of having them, to you, and trim out other less important things from your life.

This is a worthy exercise even if you decide to skip doing the side projects entirely.


Maybe we should turn our open source projects into businesses? At least make it clear we're open to taking money for extra features and/or support?

I mean, I have a whole list of projects I would like to support in a meaningful way through a subscription for some service, but it seems finding a way to do this is itself a hoop to jump through. Even if I'm super benevolent maybe I'm not willing to do HR/accounting work in order to exercise my benevolence.

I know about Gittip and the like, but if you're a business (the only kind of entity with meaningful money to throw at this problem), you'd rather have a clearcut way to pay for a service, not a platform for dropping pennies.


Assembly(.com) is the place for working on or participating in open source projects. I met their evangelist at an event and heard about the model. Your contribution will turn into 'points' which are basically equities.

I am still not convinced all ideas fit in that model e.g a mobile app shouldn't be open sourced because other people can release your product as well, yet a library/framework probably doesn't have a direct business model.


Maybe we should turn our open source projects into businesses? At least make it clear we're open to taking money for extra features and/or support?

In the past few years, that's become the stable way of generating returns on open source software. But "OSS-as-company" is still a huge leap for any given single popular developer since it takes much more dedication (company+sales+taxes+accounting+employees) and long-term planning than just creating+improving+maintaining code alone.


It'd be interesting to see a more general software section for Patreon.com. Maybe patrons could get support, prioritized features, etc?


It doesn't work for desktop software for example.


Isn't taking money for extra features in desktop software the oldest trick in the book?

Either way I don't think the problem is one of individual users not paying for their apps. I think the major problem is that of huge companies who get business value from the code use it to make money and give back nothing in return.


As proprietary software yes, but the moment you have something free with source code available, why should I pay you for it?

This is why most successful desktop open source desktop software, actually live from another sources of funding, but it hardly created the same changes as with developer tools.


>but the moment you have something free with source code available, why should I pay you for it?

People bought the paid version of xchat for some reason. Don't assume the customer is that smart.


Thanks for Redis. It has come a long way over the last six years. Looking forward for your "few side projects for the next years" to come.


Rather than start a new thread, I'll add my congratulations here.

Congratulations, Antirez!


I have a full time job, and a 3y/o kid. Get up at 7am and take him to school at 8:30am. Get to work at 9:30am or so. Get home around 6pm. Give my son a bath, we all have dinner and my son is in bed somewhere between 8 and 9pm. I then spend ~2 hours on my side project, in bed somewhere between 11pm and 12am. I train twice a week so this pattern happens three days out of 5.

On weekends I can often negotiate up to 4 hours to myself. Progress isn't too slow, and I keep my sanity.


The site is not responsive for me, here is a cached copy: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...


Yea, it is indeed not responsive. But I think Antirez is affording his time more on his "side projects" rather than making it responsive.


Not sure what is happening, probably Apache mod proxy is not configured well enough, since the machine is idle, and the Ruby process serving the requests is idle as well...

EDIT: Btw current deployment is "ruby app.rb" + Apache mod_proxy. Not stellar...

EDIT2: Problem found, was running via WEBrick since Mongrel was uninstalled for error from the server.


I think he means not 'responding', not complaining the website doesn't resize for different screen sizes (responsive).


Responsive meant that before the graphics design crowd took it over.


I'm a huge fan of LOAD81, its been a very interesting too for a few things .. one thing I've used it for is to view system statistics, akin to a poor mans gnuplot. Its also been valuable in teaching my 7-year old about computing - the ease with which you can bang out a program to draw stuff is very appealing. So count me as a LOAD81 fan, antirez .. its one of your side projects that gets regular use around our house!


Companies have long sponsored (or hired) individuals to work on FLOSS, but I think we could go a lot further. If we could make it part of the culture of (scaling) companies / funding ecosystems to say "when we reach X revenue, we're going to hire /sponsor 5 people to work on FLOSS stuff full time." Obviously, these companies will have more incentive to sponsor people who work on software they use heavily (which should stay the first priority, as it makes a lot of sense), but it'd be great to take it to the next level and have them hire people who work on useful / popular software that they don't use everyday (directly) or doesn't have much to do with their bottom line. This could include 'adjunct' software work like package repository maintainers and writers of documentation for these projects.

If it wasn't one-offs and outliers, but just something that companies did as part of getting big, we'd have a lot less need for periodic emergency fundraisers, and fewer stories about "important software X that's about to lose its sole maintainer(s)."


My situation is getting bad enough that even my wife is complaining that I don't spend enough time with them (her and my son). I have a full time job with SAP, I also have regular consulting work on my own which I have been doing since I graduated from university, and lately I've started working on a number of products that I strongly believe in.

I've started applying a bit of scrum in my own work where in I have a Trello board with my backlog, my plan for the current sprint, what is done and what is deployed (for demo). This allows me to focus and not jump around developing endless streams of features. I set a side a chunk of time (w/ adequate negotiations with my wife) where in I blitz through my tasks for the current sprint. It also helps that my wife is a project manager in her day job so she understands my Trello board.

I find that this setup is the most effective for me, of course YMMV. For my consulting work I normally have 1 ongoing project at a time and usually a few in the RFP type of stage where in I'm still in discussions with clients.


I would like to highlight dump1090, the ADS-B encoder. It has become a "must-have" for RTL-SDR enthusiasts.

It is small, simple, and works great.


dump1090 is great.


I have a hard time focusing on side projects for very long. At any one point in time I'm usually working on 3 or 4 different projects. Then I get burned out and do something that isn't programming instead, like write a book.

Ironically, the only "side-project" I've finished is a book and not code (https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/M0X7KAS29H5Q) Makes me wonder if I'm cut out to be an entrepreneur or even an developer if I can't dedicate all my free time to coding.


Does anyone have any suggestions for promoting an open source project? I hate mentioning my side project on various forums, even if it is topical -- it makes me feel spammy. I thought about taking out some ads once I add in a few more "enterprise" type features, and was hoping that some open-source focused sites would have a discount on advertising open source projects using unsold ad inventory. I'd also like to find someone to work with that can point out deficiencies in the project web site, or general improvements/features I should add.


-Tutorials & Examples -Extensive documentation

Sure, these are boring things to work on, but in my experience these are what have let separate a mature project that I can see works from a less mature project that may introduce even more bugs and maintenance.


Put a screencast up on YouTube? I guess it depends what it is, but 8~10 minute videos can be pretty thorough.


I'm another believer that focussing in 1 thing is overestimated.

"There’s a myth when it comes to what we’ve been taught about focus. Doing only 1 thing isn’t focusing. It’s essentially just doing 1 thing. Following a course of action until completion is FOCUS" - Hodan Ibrahim

Interesting related read: http://www.psychotactics.com/blog/psychological-marketing-my...


I struggle to focus on more than one thing, in programming and in life, one thing is intensely the single focus of all my passion and energy until one day it is not.


Maybe it's hard to measure what exactly is the 1 thing. In my typical day in my early stage project, I still have to code a few hours per day in addition to managing design work, doing initial marketing strategy and testing some campaigns, talking to customers, investors and mentors and making lots of decisions.

I still spend around 40mins in stuff from my previous startup which I'm not officially in operations anymore, but still have to help with some things.

On top of all that, I created a side project and built a team to run it and will be doing only mentoring, and this can be a great help to my oficial project.

So, I'm not saying this is the ideal setup... Of course a lot will change once the company starts to grow and we are able to hire more people, but I can say at the end of the day I'm pretty happy with my production and already thinking about the next day of work.


I've got a side project. And chances are it will never make any real money. But I opted to do it because I know its a pain in the butt to make, and if I don't likely no one else will (or at least do a good job).

Nicely edited, free, organized CS videos. I'm opening sourcing my education: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nyzl3pVXp4


My side project is an escape from my real job where process, politics, and domain experts outside of their domain prevent progress...


I think the key is that you have to dogfood your own side projects. I have a project that I've been building over the last, oh, 9 years. I haven't worked on it exclusively during that time, but I keep going back to it and tweaking it, making it better, etc., because I actually use it in just about everything.


I am curious whether it gets more and more (legally) tricky for employees of large tech-companies to have side-projects.

For example, if I am working at Google/Amazon/Microsoft. What side projects won't get me into legal problems?

Can I work on search, email, virtualization, etc. without being in conflict of interest?


I agree with his sentiment. Working on side projects keeps this career interesting. During the most boring, most soul-sucking projects of my corporate jobs, being able to accomplish projects on the side reminded me of why I am excited to be building software in the first place.


You're spot on about using side projects as positive distractions. When you are working alone on a significant project, at some point you're not going to be as motivated to work on it, that's where other side projects can be helpful.


Sicilian pride! Antirez is an amazing guy and the OS community is indebted to him for Redis.


Every major source of my income over the past ten years has started as a side project. Not a single one came out of a deliberate effort to build something big but began as a mere experiment for the fun of it.


For those interested, Salvatore will present Disque at the next dotScale conference in Paris, on June 8: http://www.dotscale.io


I need some advice. How other great people find the ideas for side project? I would greatly appreciate if any one help me to know how other get some cool ideas.


Don't start with an idea, start with a problem. Work on fixing the problem. Grow from there.


Brilliant - "because in order to have a long term engagement, you need a long term alternative to explore new things."


Is there a list of companies and the people they hired/sponsor to maintain FLOSS stuff?


Life is more than work. Make time for the ideas and people you love.


"Side projects are the projects making your bigger projects possible"

Amen.


Many congrats for the excellent work with Redis


IMHO if you are not hacking on a few side projects you are missing out on learning new things. I love side projects they keep my work and personal life super fresh.


Thank you sir.


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