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The BBB is basically a protection racket with excellent PR.

Get a customer complaint? BBB contacts you to pay for membership. Don't want to pay for membership? You must not care about your customers, so you get an F-. Pay for membership and the score immediately goes up to a B.

But with a name like the "Better Business Bureau", it's no wonder that people get suckered into thinking it's a legitimate organization.

More info: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_customer/2010/12/... https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110919/14221016016/criti...


> Programming, like writing, painting, and music, is chiefly a creative endeavor not a technical one. Practice... will not make you a substantially better programmer. It will just make you more efficient with your tools.

Show me a world-class writer who doesn't obsess about his writing with every waking moment.

Show me a master painter who doesn't paint every single chance she gets.

And show me a music prodigy who hasn't slogged through 15 years of mind-numbing practice every single day.

Only then will I believe that these artists are just getting more "efficient with their tools".

In creative fields, it's even more important that you put in a huge volume of work. That's the only way to connect the dots and create something truly unique.


Consistency my friend. Murakami's routine which involves him running for the first half to the day, then write and then chill with sexy-time Jazz music at time at night and turning in,


I could give you more examples of writers, Joyce Carol Oates , Michael Crichton but same thing basically. Also note that Murakami didn't start writing until 29 and loafed around at the public library chill in' and reading' and at Japanese jazz cafes. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a prodigy and workaholic at 27 for starting so early.

Also in regards to music, others can comment as I'm not an expert. But I've wasted 2 years of my life doodling around scales, ear training and music theory focusing on speed, dexterity and memorization, attempting to learn how to improvise like the greats. That I never taken the time to listen to the groove of the great pieces, sounds wonky but I decided that if I never can become a good musician, at least I could slow down and learn to enjoy the music as opposed to the idea. And I enjoy listening and playing much more now and don't give two-shits about how my solo's sound and just keep playing. And in the small moments of self-delusion inspired by bluesy turns, my own playing gives my deluded mind a self-congratulatory chill to the spine.

And in regards to programming, let's be real. CRUD or iOS apps are not going to change the world. We are like the capitalist work-bees, shoveling digital snow around like escorts shoveling sensual snow. If we are really secure enough to want to dive into our craft, then learn Linux kernel, compilers, advanced algorithms and contribute to the bottom of the stack for a change instead of fluffing snow at the top.


Everything you said was golden, until the last paragraph.

<sarcasm> Picasso really should have stopped faffing about with his silly brushes and gone to work in a canvas factory instead. The world really didn't need another bloody painter. </sarcasm>


I agree.

However, most guitarists get paid to provide pleasant background music at weddings. Making money writing and playing Purple Haze is a (boom-and-bust, drug-induced) outlier. Master artists aren't employees of Paint-o-Corp who get paid salary in exchange for the rights to their creative output (even if it's side-projects).

If we want a sustainable population of healthy, balanced engineers, we need to adjust our expectations for the typical coder.


"we need to adjust our expectations for the typical coder"

Minimum 5 years experience in Rust, Go and ClojureScript.


Roald Dahl is a great example of a prolific author who would write perhaps 4 hours a day and would spend the rest of his time drinking, relaxing, and tending to his farm. As far as I know, a casual pace like that is pretty common among writers - though maybe not to that extreme.

Slogging through 15 years of practice every day is a technical endeavor. If you need to learn how to do something or to master a technical skill, then yes, volume of work will get you there. Code is a tool that is used to create, and I think the quote you selected just serves to underline the difference between learning how to be an effective engineer vs learning how to become an effective technician.

Edit: constant practice is definitely important, but relentlessly working is not.


>And show me a music prodigy who hasn't slogged through 15 years of mind-numbing practice every single day.

Can you really be called a prodigy if you've been practicing every day for 15 years?


I agree that you must put in time to get better, but I think the difference with programming is that more hours does not necessarily result in getting better. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that's no different than the examples you provided. If you practice violin 14 hours a day, will you really be better than you would if you practiced 8 hours a day and spent the other 6 doing other things?

When programmers get beyond a critical daily/weekly threshold, putting in more hours hurts more than it helps. The brain gets tired of solving problems, and when that happens, pushing yourself further is not the answer. The answer is to do something else, especially something involving physical activity, to allow your brain time to recover.

I believe that many programmers fundamentally do not understand this concept, thus they drive themselves crazy trying to push harder and harder. Yes, you may write more lines of code that way, but at what cost?


> Show me a world-class writer who doesn't obsess about his writing with every waking moment.

> Show me a master painter who doesn't paint every single chance she gets.

Well, there's Dante Gabriel Rosetti, who decided one day to give up painting and become a poet. While he is remembered more for his paintings than poetry, his poetry carries with it the essence and soul of his paintings as well as the imagery. He decided to paint with words. I don't think he obsessed about writing all the time. As he put it, though, "A sonnet is a moment's monument."[1]

This gets at what I think is an important point though. All of these creative endeavors require real-world knowledge. Hemmingway went out on adventures. For Tolkein, writing fiction was not his day job (teaching about medieval literature and linguistics, however, was). You can see their respective works that the live of the writer and the other obsessions beyond writing are what make the author.

Similarly with programming, yes, it is a technical endeavor and yes it is a creative one. However just like writing the great works of fiction, these don't come out of nothing. They require a context grounded in other knowledge and experience.

[1] http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~felluga/medievalism/areading.html Note that this was the introductory sonnet to "The House of Life" which chronicals Rosetti falling in love, getting married, coping with his wife's death, and finally finding solace in his religious worldview. The poem, despite its abstract nature is full of classical Greek imagery and something one could probably write volumes about. At the same time, it is an exposition on why he wrote poetry, and it provides the framework for fully understanding the hundred or so sonnets in The House of Life in that way. There are love sonnets, and sonnets which, as he puts it "in Charon's palm it pays the toll to Death" (i.e. allowing the dead and the living to begin to move on).


I love this[1] interview of Eubie Blake by Marian McPartland for many reasons, but the part where he describes how he at 93-years-old still does daily scales on the piano just goes to show the importance of persistent training in artistic endeavors. I'm a lazy bastard, but I'd only be fooling myself if lack of complete dedication to my craft didn't come at a price.

That said, I have no sympathy for a company that expects to hire a Yo-Yo Ma for the salary of an amateur band member.

[1] http://www.npr.org/2012/10/19/123385170/eubie-blake-on-piano...


I think there is a middle ground between the OP and your comment. I agree with you that the best way to get good at programming is to program. But I also agree with the OP that having other hobbies, interests and letting your mind work on different things will also help you. The ideal balance is some mix of side projects and hobbies.


What if there is just another dimension to this?

OP could be wired to be very productive if he doesn't have side projects and instead focuses on hobbies.

yangez's examples (parent of your comment) could be wired to only be very productive if they do nothing but become immersed in their work.

What if some of us can only thrive with imbalance by nature?


So your argument is that the primary difference between geniuses and the rest of schlubs is sheer volume of rote practice? I think you're confusing creativity with tool proficiency.


I don't think programming is that much like painting (more than any other craft), but I do think deliberate practice is at the heart of mastering any craft.

More than putting in a huge volume of work, you have to work hard and deliberately at improving every day. That doesn't take (and can't be sustained) for more than a few hours a day, and all other activity is nowhere near as important for development.


As some sort a of music prodigy according to certain people, I'd say you have a point. I've certainly put in a ridiculous amount of time in music "just for fun".

At the same time, to create something great you do have to stop practicing and go back to what you know best and what inspires you.


Hemmingway wrote for six hours every morning and then went fishing for the rest of the day: http://www.moodymuses.com/2009/02/lessons-from-ernest-heming...


>And show me a music prodigy who hasn't slogged through 15 years of mind-numbing practice every single day.

I think you'll find most music prodigies spend hours lost in playing beautiful music. Very different from mind-numbing.


you omitted a pretty key clause with those ellipses. in its entirety, the quote from the article is clearly targeted at api churn and similar things thrashing everyone's personal caches, not practicing programming in general.


> Rails isn’t just a brick wall, it’s a brick mountain... By the end of the first month, I had literally no idea what was going on.

This is not a brick wall. It's giving up as soon as something gets hard.

Rails is a great example. It has so much behind-the-scenes "magic" that it's really hard to wrap your mind around at first. Back when I was first learning it, my brain felt like it had been filled with cement at the end of every day. I didn't understand it for weeks; I felt like I was just pounding my head on a brick wall over and over. Then, all of a sudden, the fog suddenly parted and it was like being set free. After that, I never had another Rails problem that I couldn't handle.

Everyone that I've ever talked to that has learned Rails - or any other language - has struggled through this initial pain period. The difference is that the successful ones push through it after it stops being fun.

It doesn't only apply to programming either. Everything you ever learn starts with a "brick wall" that you think you'll never get past. Once you suck it up and break through it, you may find that the road is clear from there.


There is no programmer so intelligent and so experienced that there does not exist a framework which makes no damn sense to them.

I think I'm a decent programmer but the scope and complexity of Rails (especially with all the great concepts and practices Hartl introduces simultaneously) is daunting at first. But you just have to keep at it and it eventually clicks. I think I did his tutorial 3 times from scratch before I really started to understand what was going on, and it wasn't until I tried to make a large and complex app that all the features and beautiful organization of Rails began to feel natural. Rails (or Ruby, or any other insanely powerful tool) just takes a long time to really grok, and even longer to master. Smart people are used to getting things quicker than that and that is what makes all of these things so emotionally painful. Our projects don't work and our egos suffer as well.


Exactly. The smart people ego thing. Yikes, that's me. Programming is humbling the shit out of me. It really is a good process.

Just slow down, be patient, expect many failures and false starts. Hell, if I can do this, it seems like I'll be better prepared for all sorts of challenges in life.


> Then, all of a sudden, the fog suddenly parted and it was like being set free. After that, I never had another Rails problem that I couldn't handle.

Pfftt, yeah sure. Everything is perfect in Rails land


Here's an important piece of demographic information for the survey:

> 45% of those surveyed don’t own a device that can read ebooks – this includes both e-readers and smartphones.

So almost half of those polled don't actually have steady access to ebooks. I wonder how the statistics change for a sample who have ready access to both.


>> 45% of those surveyed don’t own a device that can read ebooks – this includes both e-readers and smartphones.

I'd say this is the key variable in the set.

Another example:

>"The only reason I haven’t bought an e-reader is because I love the feeling of holding a book in hand and seeing the creases in the spine when I'm done. It’s like a little trophy."

I was the exact same way -- right down to the explanation as to why I didn't want an ereader. I just loved everything about physical books. The texture, the smell, and, embarrassingly, the vanity of having an apartment filled with books. And then my work bought me an iPad. Everything changed almost immediately.

I absolutely love being able to have an army of books with me at all times. As a guy whose still a student, 95% of my time is spent with technical books. It is absolutely amazing to have everything at my fingertips at all times. I can pull up whatever I feel like studying at any point throughout the day. Few minutes of downtime at work? Maybe I'll read a chapter in my Patterns book. If I'm not feeling that, I just swipe over to Programming in Scala and have some fun. Also, being able to search a book is worth its weight in gold.

That said, there are a few draw backs which irk me. Though, I think these can really be solved with better software.

Firstly, referencing two places in the book at once. How many times have you been reading a textbook and kept your finger in one section while reading another so that you can quickly hop back and forth? Impossible to do quickly with readers. You got to create bookmarks, with each "flip" open the bookmarks, find the one you need, and finally select it to view the page. With physical, all you need to do is flip to where your finger is and presto! Done. The digital equivalent requires multiple taps and a good bit of waiting.

The other drawback is DRM. After a fiasco with Amazon (which I otherwise love), It became clear to me that DRM books are not worth owning. I purchase almost exclusively from O'Reilly due to the fact that they offer a plain old, DRM free PDF. I give them money, then give me the product -- not a licence to use the product under their terms, the actual product for me to do with as I wish. Currently, it's very tough to find all the books I want to read as DRM-free pdfs. I'm doing my best to vote with my wallet, so that means there are many books that I simply don't buy anymore because I like actually owning the things that I purchase.

Other than those caveats, eBooks have completely replaced physical ones for me. The article is kind of pointless given that so few of the people sampled have any actual reference point.


Either many of those 45% don't realize they don't have access to devices that can read ebooks (may not know their iOS/Android device can run Kindle/iBooks/whatever) or this was a really weird sample.

> Twenty-somethings are the leading smartphone users in the U.S., with a full 81% of Americans aged 25 to 34 using the devices. Teens aren’t far behind, with almost 70% of those aged 13 to 17 already using a smartphone.

via http://www.webpronews.com/u-s-smartphone-penetration-hits-64...


Sure, but even more key than that is that this is a question about perception, which can potentially be overcome with education.

How many of the people who say they prefer a physical book have read a complete book using a modern e-reader? How many of them have learned about a book, gone to their e-reader, bought it, and started reading, all within 5 minutes, while sitting in their pajamas, at 11pm? How many have purchased enough e-books that they feel they are carrying a small library in their bag, even though it still only weighs less than a pound.

There are compelling reasons to like an e-reader even if you still really prefer a physical book.


Or they don't really consider smartphones or PCs suitable devices for reading ebooks. I know I'll read an ebook on my smartphone from time to time but if that were all I had, I certainly wouldn't buy ebooks for it. Of course, I think it's also entirely possible that at least some respondents just answered whether they had an ebook reader or not--however the actual question was worded.


I have never used my smartphone to try and read a book, I think most people around me would agree that it would not be a fun experience (most people around me have older smartphones with small screes).

I do own a Kindle, though, but my point is that I think many people don't consider their smartphone a "reading device".


I used to do this a few years ago when I was in London. When you have 5 minutes to wait for the next tube there wasn't much else to do as there was no wifi then :)


My assumption is that the actual question in the survey didn't mention smart phones.

(And, to be honest, I never use my smartphone to read e-books.)


And then you exclude the 70% of 16-24 year olds that don't even regularly read, and have no use for either ebooks or paper books...


> When the Internet bubble burst, the company underwent rocky times. By 2000, [the founder] was gone from the company, as were four other members of his founding team.

> For the next decade, Bloodhound recovered and slowly grew, raising seven more rounds of financing. In April 2011, the company was sold for $82.5 million.

11 years is a long time. How much do they think they deserved?


My thinking is a little different than most of those who have commented...probably because I'm a bootstrapper.

After reading all of these comments - my thought process goes like this: If the founders output from 11 years ago is worthless, why isn't the investors' money from 11 years ago equally worthless?

If the founders' sweat equity didn't create value, the early VC money didn't either. Should the early VC's lose their investment, or just the founders?

I'm not naive, I understand that these deals are structured this way...I'm just saying that the structure is bullshit (imo).


That's not quite right. It's unclear how much total the VCs put in, at least from the article. But it sounds like they continued to fund the company while the founders' involvement ceased over 10 years ago.

"For the next decade, Bloodhound recovered and slowly grew, raising seven more rounds of financing." <-- if the insiders participated in follow-on rounds they stayed involved all the way through. Once again, that's what seems to be indicated but it isn't spelled out.


Right. The founders were there five years, then pushed out during the dotcom crash, then the company made a substantial “pivot” (in the same field, but the product being offered and created by the founders was gone, and new ones introduced).

Two years after the founders are gone, the company begins to make money again.

Then 11 years, the company is sold for a lot of money.

And the founders feel they are entitled to a large chunk of that, despite their non-involvement in operation of the company and their diluted ownership (unsurprising, but common with multiple rounds of financing that they were in favor of).

It’s worth noting that many of the founders claims have been dismissed as egregious, lacking in evidence and otherwise.


There's a problem in asking "How much did they deserve?" because there are so many hard to answer questions.

- Did they uncover some unique IP, or was the exit the work of subsequent management?

- How much did the VCs influence the exit?

- Did the founders trade downside protection for more upside?

It's hard to know the answers.


I guess in five years they worked harder than the investors in 16, since well workers work while investors put money on the table.


Employee compensation is absolutely not associated with the value of the work the employee does.

Instead, it's associated with the best replacement that the company could find.

If Joe makes $2M a year for a company and gets paid $150k but Steve can do the same work at the same level for $100k, Joe's out and Steve's in. The initial $2M of value doesn't matter, except to lower the chance that a replacement could outperform you.

Cynical and unfair? Sure. That's how it works, though. Start your own company if you don't like it.


That's an interesting calculation.

Using that formula, how would management like to compensate Joe given the following:

* Steve is hired for $100k

* A year passes

* The company starts to lose money, let's say down to $1.5M a year.

* It is decided that Joe's industry knowledge - and only Joe's knowledge - had been making extra money for the company. It was some non-transferrable knowledge.

* Aside from the previous caveat, Steve and Joe had precisely the same skillset

* Joe is happily employed somewhere else for $150k


That's a broken model for many reasons. For one is that it replacement omits or undervalues the cost to acquire and retrain a replacement to being a) competent in the context of the position, and longer term b) being truly integrated into the company and able to bring deeper value to the business.

Time to a) can be short, particularly if the candidate is a good fit, but time to b) is typically three years. Early in my career, I took a little offense when a manager once told me that it would take three years to become useful. After some discussion, that wasn't a comment about my technical ability or level of work (they were actually very happy about that), but it was just a realistic timeline to get to b), the point that they could throw about anything at me and I could reliably pull resources and people together to get things done for the company in an independent and cost-effective manner. Depending on the work, time to (b) could be shorter or longer, but it's surprisingly long - longer than many want to admit to themselves. Over the years, I've looked at people in companies through this lens, and three years is typical.

Companies with an employee "replacement cost" model often have churn rates so employees stay with the company well below (b).

The "replacement cost" model also leads unwillingness to invest in employees, either by explicit training, or on the job training anticipating increased responsibilities. After all, they might be gone soon and we just have to go shopping for a replacement.

Longer term employees (typically the mid-level management) are then stuck because they're managing details that they really wouldn't otherwise need to, masking time to take care of problems that they would otherwise should be the sole owners of.

They're both subtle outgrowths of undervaluing people, leading to company underperformance.


Note that the corrections you propose still have nothing to do with the value that the employee produces. They just adjust the replacement cost to something more realistic.

It's still about minimizing expenditure to bring in a certain amount of profit.


If, because of the replacement cost model, you don't spend time and some effort to get and keep well integrated employees, the business misses out on deeper value the employees could bring. Further, those deep-value employees can handle more issues, freeing higher level management to focus on bigger, higher value issues. I think that has a lot of relevance, but then I think a lot of companies miss out on expanding value when they're focused on squeezing costs.


>Cynical and unfair? Sure. That's how it works, though.

That's how it doesn't work. Except if you sell bricks or something.

In the IT industry it's a surefire way to replace loyal and precious employess with talentless slobs, while you're thinking you're getting a better deal for your company.


And now your company is full of bottom-dollar workers who just nominally fulfill management's probably quite flawed idea of what the work requires.


> I have a friend who brags that he busts his * 60 hours a week driving a Coca-Cola delivery truck. Congratulations, I work 35 and make twice as much as he does.

This is a straw man. The point is that if you worked 50 vs 35 hours at the same job, you'd simply get more done - even considering diminishing returns.

There's a reason many hugely successful people are notorious workaholics - see Elon Musk, Oprah, Marissa Meyer, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, etc. One of the simplest advantages that you can get is to just put in more hours than the next guy. No new-age "find-yourself" touchy-feely work-life balance talk will change that.


See, if working extra hours at your job will actually make you rich and/or influential, or if you just plain enjoy the heck out of your job, then you have a very good reason to do it.

But I've also seen people put in 50-60 hours at a job where others put in 40 and get paid basically the same salary, without any increased possibility of promotion either. They were basically workaholics for the sake of it, or for appearances, not for any concrete benefit. I think what they got was a feeling of moral superiority for working the hardest (even though they didn't necessarily get more actual work done), as well as a sense of security that they wouldn't be the first on the chopping block when the next round of layoffs came (not necessarily true).

It's not a straw man, I know people who do this in real life. I think of it as cargo culting for career success.


I work this kind of hours right now, but I think you're wrong about the motives for most people. I don't care about security (not thinking of staying in the long term, no wife/kids to support) and I see no moral superiority in working more. But I do get strong pressure from above to stay late (X is urgent, "you're not leaving the office before Y is done", team calls being scheduled after hours regularly, etc), and there's always the social pressure. It feels bad going home early when I know teammates have to stay behind to finish their stuff.


Yeah, if it's just the culture of the place, then of course there is strong social pressure and guilt-tripping that compels you to stay late like the others do. If you go against an organizational culture of staying late, your coworkers will likely resent you, your boss will think you are lazy or insubordinate, and you are probably going to be the proverbial nail that sticks out and gets hammered down. Better to just put up or leave.

I was referring to cases where it isn't necessarily the norm of the organization to stay late every day, but a few people do it anyway, for their own reasons.

Another possibility--their home life sucks and they would rather be at the office anyway. Sad, but sometimes true.


> The point is that if you worked 50 vs 35 hours at the same job, you'd simply get more done - > even considering diminishing returns.

Not to the best of my knowledge. It is worth remembering that the 40 hour workweek was introduced by Henry Ford in 1926 not because he was a bleeding heart liberal, but in order to increase productivity. More hours don't necessarily equal more work done. [1]

For modern non-mechanical jobs, the maximum productivity threshold may be even lower. For some types of jobs, productivity can even decrease: after a certain point, programmers will write sloppier code with more defects; the additional LOCs don't help because you're now creating additional work to remove these defects.

That doesn't mean that there aren't exceptions; just like there are people who have a natural talent to identify prime numbers, there are people who can sustain a high level of productivity over a large number of hours worked.

I also note that corporate leaders operate under different constraints: for them, availability may matter more than personal productivity.

Unrelated to productivity is the health issue: Consistently working long hours is bad for your health in a number of ways [2,3].

[1] http://www.salon.com/2012/03/14/bring_back_the_40_hour_work_...

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/04/long.work.hours.hea...

[3] http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/25/health/working-overtime-do...


Elon Musk, Oprah, Marissa Meyer, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey -- these are people who have been wildly over-compensated for their time. (Not that they don't deserve what they get, but they make huge amounts of money.) They work because they want to, and if they didn't they could retire tomorrow and live like kings/queens for the rest of their lives. Odds are, you're not in this camp. And never will be.

(And sometimes I wonder: Are all of these top-tier people workaholics? Or is that a myth that's sometimes created to both justify the amount of compensation they receive and to promote workaholism in their employees? Also: Is it easier to seem like a workaholic if you've got huge piles of cash to pay other people to actualize your visions for you?)


> Elon Musk, Oprah, Marissa Meyer, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey

Not to be a cynic, but except in the case of Bill Gates, it's not clear these people were not cases of being in the right place at the right time more than any specific brilliance.


It's not exactly Hacker News' oeuvre, but Oprah's story is pretty much the definition of "hustle". She climbed the ranks from radio DJ to assistant producer to assistant reporter to co-anchor to local morning show to national morning show with alarming celerity.

(I can't stand daytime television, but I think her position was won through a lot more than being at the right place at the right time.)


That's basically what I mean. There are so many other factors involved. "Overwork = Bill Gates" is just about as meaningful as "Dropping out of school = Bill Gates." Maybe! But probably not.


I like that, you frequently hear "You just need to work hard", never "First thing you do is drop out of school".

May Bill need to work harder because he dropped out? Without any context the "work harder" does automatically mean that you'll succeed, nor that it's worth the effort.

David Heinemeier had a beautiful talk about being happy with a million dollars, rather aiming for the billion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CDXJ6bMkMY


But where does that end? We decide the 8 hour work week isn't productive enough, even though worker productivity has skyrocketed, so we go to 10, then we decide 10 hour days are for socialist pussies and go to 12 hour days, then eventually we are calling people lazy for sleeping and ridiculing them for not dragging concrete blocks for a .0000001% holding Elon Musk's Mars Miner corporation. I mean at some point life has to be about being happy versus maximizing the profitability of the company you work for...


Social norms are a pendulum that swings back and forth every 100 years or so. At one end is 6 hours a day or 30 hrs a week, at the other end is work/sleep/repeat. Any less and a society can't function, any more and a person will physically break.

Individually, you get the same shake every free man has had since the beginning. You climb the mountain until you don't feel like climbing anymore. Maybe you're hurt, maybe you're tired, maybe you've found a nice plateau with a wonderful view.

Meanwhile around you, above you and below you - others scamper up the same mountain.

'Twas ever thus.


> Any less and a society can't function

I disagree with this. There is simply less work to be done than there used to be, what with automated factories and powerful computers. We've somehow turned this into an "unemployment crisis", when by rights it ought to be a huge boon that means everyone can work less.


There are diminishing returns. You could easily have eight people each working a one-hour shift on an assembly line once they all know the task, but writing code that way would be absurd--they'd waste almost all the time explaining how they intend to proceed with what they only just started on.


That's a pretty silly strawman. It would obviously be a better idea to work fewer months out of the year, or weeks out of the month, or days out of the week. How long a single session of work is is probably the least important variable.


I'm not saying everyone has to work long hours. I'm just saying that the few people who do will have an obvious advantage. It's up to each person to figure out if that's what they want.


Yes, but that advantage is based on appearance and not results.

That's contract to every hacker ethic I know.


It doesn't need to end. It is "work life choice" not "work life balance.

Choosing to spend more of your time to a task will generally return a better results. Now choose your own adventure and determine where you want those results, friends/startup/employer/family/fitness or whatever else you value.


Also, let me point out:

Of all of the people in this country who overwork themselves, the percentage who became billionaire titans-of-industry is, for all intents and purposes, zero.

Millions (or tens-of-millions) of Americans overwork. There's one Bill Gates.


No, but I'll overwork myself in my 20s to have 5 million in my 30s, much more achievable.


Maybe! But I think the savvier approach would be to learn how to create wealth without overwork. For what it's worth, I spent many years overworking, nose-to-the-grindstone, trying to make as much as possible, etc. Had a series of panic attacks. Forced myself to lay off the gas pedal and work smarter. Actually make more money now than I did then. And I'm much happier and more relaxed. And I probably do better work.


> you'd simply get more done

So Fucking What?

This, you, are the problem OP is talking about. Productivity and "work" are not even close to what should be societal priorities.


Straw man indeed. Driving a truck may be about the limit of his per-hour productivity, so putting in hours is how he increases his earnings. Working smarter may net quadruple the per-hour earnings; question then is whether one is content with living on twice the income of the trucker, or whether expending more hours to net even more income is desirable. The trucker is working at his capacity (both in time and productivity per time unit), so perhaps some bragging is in order; given the productivity potential of the author, is not working the 25-hour difference laudable or squandering opportunity for earning more? It's a choice of balancing earning vs non-earning activities, and given the resources & goals of each, both may be laudable.


The point is that if you worked 50 vs 35 hours at the same job

But isn't that, in many ways, the point? We need to optimize every hour of our life, because life (and in particular youth) really is short.

If I choose to spend my life cutting grass with a pair of nail clippers, I can absolutely get more done spending 60 hours versus 35 hours. But you know, I'd rather pull out the driving lawn mower. That should be all of our goals.

There's a reason many hugely successful people are notorious workaholics - see Elon Musk, Oprah, Marissa Meyer, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, etc.

This is cargo culting. These people are often "workaholics" because they are highly successful. And in many cases it's hard to even attribute whether it's work or pleasure, because many business heads "put in the hours" that they do because it essentially becomes their recreation: I doubt any of them lie in bed dreading going to "work".

And ultimately that is the dream of all of us, isn't it? To eventually be in a place where we are effectively choosing everything we do, and where our work is completely rewarding and self-satisfying? In no universe can you compare that to putting in more time at a job you don't enjoy.


> If I choose to spend my life cutting grass with a pair of nail clippers, I can absolutely get more done spending 60 hours versus 35 hours. But you know, I'd rather pull out the driving lawn mower. That should be all of our goals.

That's a bit of a straw man there. Yes, you can get more done using a riding lawnmower compared to the folks using clippers. However, once you're using a riding lawnmower you can get more done by putting more hours in.

Putting more hours in just to put more hours in isn't a good thing (otherwise doing it with clippers would be an optimal solution). Putting in more hours because it lets you accomplish more is, in many cases, a good thing.


That's a bit of a straw man there.

It isn't a strawman, though you may be interpreting the comment in a different manner: Proudly boasting about excessive work if you haven't optimized your efforts is not something to consider an accomplishment. Yet it is absolutely common throughout the Western world.

I've always been a "slacker" in the sense that I like to live a varied life. That means when I work I accomplish the most with the least. Many, many people make no such attempt: Thinking back to coworkers back when I was an employee sort, the sorts that did the heroic hours and had the endless late nights by and large accomplished very little, because the metric that they were rewarded on -- at least in their own self-evaluation -- was effort.

So the guy cutting the grass might boast about clipping his yard with nail clippers, just as the developer talking about their 90 hour work weeks spends 88 of them surfing Reddit. This is endemic, and the result is very low productivity because the results aren't measured, the perceived effort is.


The blog post was built on a bs argument. Apples and Oranges. Desk job versus physical labor. I guess we could argue since someone who works as a developer makes more per hour than someone at McDonalds they are making better use of their time.

You pull your own hyperbole as well.

Being successful does not make you a workaholic, and being a workaholic does not make your successful. I know more than enough workaholics who are because that is exactly what they enjoy. They work sixty hours because it keeps them occupied. It fulfills them.

The blog fails for the same reason your failing, your comparing yourself to others instead of your own goals. Your goals and your ability to meet or exceed them are what matters. How someone else does that does not, never has and never will. Some do it to push themselves, far too many do it to feel superior. Both are wrong.


I think you will find discussions on boards like HN more fulfilling if you avoid trying to personalize every statement. I don't argue against the hard working meme for self-interest -- I'm a rather successful independent software developer / consultant, and I spent half my day today enjoying coding while lying in a hammock.


That's a very common argument and I agree it has merit. I think though that it's extremely dependent on what kind of work you do.

For example were you to program for 50-60+ hours a week consistently, your total output would be lower than a guy who worked only 40 hours, and by quite a big margin too. It's counter intuitive, but it's rather well documented and I think a lot of hardworking folks will recognize it from own experience.

Another downside is it's easy to neglect strategic outlook, when you are overworked and thus have your tunnel vision set on operations.


Working twice as hard to do twice as much grunt work (especially someone else's grunt work) is a gigantic waste of time. If the boss gives a shit, he'll hire more people.

As far as I'm concerned, if I have to work more than 40 hours to earn my keep, that means the work is of marginal importance and we should really be discussing either (a) hiring more people to handle this glut of grunt work, or (b) not doing it, focusing instead on higher-yield stuff. A programmer's salary is low enough in comparison to value-add that 15 hours per week is break-even, unless the work being assigned is of unusually low importance. So a 60-hour mandate is a sign that we're making up for a lack of strategy through sheer effort, and that never works out in the long run.

On the other hand, working twice as hard to learn twice as fast (or to have twice as good an insight into what it worth working on) is a different story. That can be worth it, because it often ends up making huge differences. If you think of a skill set as an asset, the difference between 10% per year and 5% per year, taken out over 30 years, is that one portfolio does 4.32x and the other does 17.45x-- massive difference. Also, knowledge's time value is such that one might have to work hard (at least in spurts) to get and use the high-yield knowledge.


how about the guy who owns a 200 person business who lives in a giant house, has a fleet of vehicles, servants, and doesn't work that hard because he built his business over the course of 20 years?

he's rich too, you've just never heard of him because he didn't work so hard as to become famous


> There's a reason many hugely successful people are notorious workaholics

I'd imagine that part of the reason they can be workaholics is that they are hugely successful people. The type of work you do plays a huge rule in how much work you can do.

Especially when you consider this:

> The point is that if you worked 50 vs 35 hours at the same job, you'd simply get more done

Is not something you can bank on.


What's with all these startups taking so much design inspiration from Stripe?




Stripe is a hit with developers because of their easy API and great documentation. It's not a surprise that other "by techies for techies" API startups are taking inspiration from a leader in the industry.


What's the problem with it?


Let's not forget https://infraprint.com. They're the Stripe for printing.


My thoughts exactly.


> One possible opportunity is to get the legal system and governments involved in this so as to require an adequate level of merchant support.

I wince every time someone proclaims the government should step in to regulate something that is obviously none of their business. That's the easy way out, and it hurts everyone in the long run.


This seems self contradictory. One of the government's jobs is consumer protection and regulation. If support is deemed to be a required thing, why shouldn't it fall under that scope?

This just seems like the normal knee jerk reaction from the right half of the political spectrum that says all regulation is bad.


You may disagree, but it's not self contradictory to think that it's not the government's role to regulate business in this way.


If you start asking for customer support as part of regulation, you massively raise the entrance costs for other companies.


This is an easy problem to avoid: just have the regulation only kick in when you bring in a certain amount of revenue.

PayPal did $1.5 billion in revenues in Q1 2013. So you could draw a line at $1bn/year, say, which would be more than high enough to leave out any reasonable definition of a "startup" while still covering established market leaders.


It's an easy problem to talk about avoiding, sure. We can see an obvious failure mode, so we just won't do that. But it won't be you doing it in the first place, you won't have that sort of authority. You've got to think what sort of person's going to be giving you what you ask for, what sort of terms they're likely to impose.

The person doing it won't always have an incentive to avoid the same things that you or I might think of as undesirable. The last thing you want to do is to ask for something, be one of a selection of competing viewpoints on it, and then get the Cthulhu version imposed on you.

Can you get rules that make sense out of a system? Sure. But the tendency is that you won't - at least not without a threat that forces a uniformity of interest upon the system.


You're assuming that "the system" is something that has no inputs to affect the behavior of "the person doing it". Which is wrong. There are plenty of points in the rulemaking process (see https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaki...) where those in the startup community could ask for a more targeted rule, if such a rule were being considered. And given how no politician wants to be tagged as being against job creation at the moment, I have to think it'd be an easy sell to convince them that a more narrowly targeted rule would be in everybody's best interest.

"The system" doesn't need to have "uniformity of interest" in order to make sensible things come out of it; you just need to be willing to make your voice heard within it, and to accept that you may have to compromise a bit from your ideal outcome in order to get other interests to come along.


x100. Plus, I'll believe the government can regulate good customer service into companies the day I don't dread going to the DMV.


Look at MySQL as an example of regulation not being for support.


I don't see much about consumer protection in the Constitution, the definitive document of the "government's jobs".

It doesn't mean that there isn't some authority there, but it's silly to act like there is a mandate so explicit that we can legislate things like "make your customers happy within 48 hours of initial contact or the American people will exert physical force against you", which is essentially what people ask for when they say that Google doesn't offer "adequate" service. The proposed laws may not say that verbatim, but that's the idea they'll attempt to convey in typically myopic, broken, unworkable legalese, and to which all companies in the U.S. will have to adhere.

I believe there is a reasonable case for governmental standards and penalties relative to things like food or building safety, but "you must have X customer service agents per customer accessible by phone at least 12 hours per day once you reach $100k in revenue", or whatever, is really pushing it. Why do we believe it's reasonable to get the government involved in such minor, everyday living things? We like what Google gives us, but don't like something about the way it's implemented, so instead of working within the market we go whine to our legislators and ask them to force Google to do what we want? The fact that anyone even considers that does not bode well for the future of capitalism.


Are you really trying to say that "commerce" is none of the government's business?


Look at how well government intervention helped airlines improve support.


Over the past 50 years, the government has significantly deregulated the airline industry.

Is my sarcasmometer broken?


Would have let the banks and oil industries not be regulated?


It would be helpful if there was a way to show the reasoning behind deleted submissions. Like a quick note on [dead] pages that explains why it was killed, just like you did here. That way, people won't keep resubmitting the same story over and over, which makes it easier on everyone.


"if there was a way to show the reasoning behind deleted submissions"

I don't know why they don't do this but I can see why they might not do this.

By stating a reason you then invite questions around the decision and waste time in addressing those questions. By not stating a reason many decisions like this will simply go unquestioned in a "nothing to see here move along" kind of way.


However, as this post illustrates, not posting a reason also invites questions around why the post was deleted.



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