I didn’t know how to do anything. I didn’t know how to build a website, or write HTML, or use Photoshop, or set up an email list. I didn’t want to learn much either.
As far as I can tell this is the only way to start a startup. You don’t decide to start one, you just do. It’s all you’re doing anyway, so you might as well call it a startup.
We named our startup Y Combinator because we tried to base everything on recursive functions. Also because it was the only two-word phrase we could find that began with Y and had no bad associations.
I called my mom every day from 7:30am to 8am PST because she worked in a San Francisco office building and that was when I knew she’d be at work (she lives on the east coast). She’d pick up and say “what did you break now?”
I think what we were hoping for was a repeat of the early days at Viaweb, when we’d have a new exciting customer every day.
It turns out that starting startups is harder than people think. It’s not something you can just decide to do one morning over coffee. The first customer for any given startup is likely
While the above views are generally accurate, a little more attention to the original _________ used by those early programmers would reveal what made them so productive. The coders of the 1940s and 1950s did not have advanced electronics or high-speed computers at their disposal. Instead, they had pencils and paper.
The use of pencil and paper may seem _________ by current standards, but it was actually an important innovation at that time. Most of the work on the earliest computers was done on punched cards, which were difficult to write on and prone to error. A programmer who made a mistake when writing a program would have to fill out an entire deck of these cards over again — a tedious process that could take several hours.
In 1947 Grace Hopper, then a young Navy officer working as a _________ in the new field of electronic computing, began using pencil and paper for debugging programs written for the Mark II computer. (The story goes that she discovered this use for pencils after one of her colleagues used one to find an actual moth trapped in the machine.) Because Hopper’s method was so much faster than punching new cards, she soon convinced her supervisors to embrace the practice. This became known as “desk-checking,” and it spread
How to use a pencil.
How to hold a pencil.
Hold a pencil with the tip pointing towards your shoulder, so that it’s at a slight angle rather than straight up and down. If you hold your pencil straight up and down, you’ll be moving your entire forearm to write instead of just your hand, which is much less efficient. Your hand will also rest on the paper more, which may smudge your writing.
How to write with a pencil.
Place the lead point just above the baseline of writing (the line where letters like “o” or “q” appear in writing), but below the top line. Write at a 45 degree angle as you would when using standard ballpoint pen or rollerball pen ink. Try not to press too hard as this causes lead breakage, even if you are using mechanical pencils. The harder you press, the more often you will have to sharpen your pencil, and if you are using wooden pencils it will cause the wood to splinter and break off around the tip.
Here’s how to pencil code in one minute.
Get a pencil.
Open your text editor.
Write some code.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that when people ask what I do, I have trouble answering.
This is a problem, because if you can’t explain what you do in simple terms, no one will understand it. And if no one understands it, you probably won’t get much work.
Furthermore, as a programmer you should be able to explain what you do to anyone who can use a computer. If you can’t explain it to your grandmother, there’s something wrong with either your explanation or your work.
The trouble is that computers are so different from the things most people know about that they find it hard to see the parallels. Here are some questions I’ve been asked:
What happens if the power goes out?
How does it remember things when I turn it off?
How does it really work?
Imagine a graphite pencil. Pencils are made up of a core and several distinct metal components. The most important of these is the ferrule, which holds the eraser onto the pencil. A second major component is the metal “clasp,” which is used to hold the ferrule onto the pencil core. The third main component is the ferrule cap, located at the top of the pencil, used to keep the eraser from falling off and to help protect it from damage.
In order to make a pencil that can be used for writing, you need to add a fourth component: a lead-containing polymer called polyethylene (PE). PE is an inert compound that does not react with other substances. It has been shown to be nontoxic; there have been no recorded cases of toxicity from exposure to polyethylene. It is also extremely durable; if you drop a pencil from any height, it will break before it bends or cracks.
The polyethylene in a pencil is typically made up of three layers: one layer contains the lead; another layer contains graphite; and a third layer contains carbon black (a sooty substance). Each layer has different properties and serves different purposes. The lead layer helps protect your hand as you write
The best way to make something users love is to get a prototype in front of them and refine it based on their reactions. I’ve also found that when I write code, it’s easier to change the code later if I haven’t gotten too clever. When you’re in the middle of writing some code, and you’re thinking “oh this is clever, no one will ever have to change this”, that’s a sign you should take a step back and think about how hard it would be if someone else had to edit it or if you came back to it in six months.
The reason great hackers prefer Python to Java is not because they’re better programmers, but because they’re working on more ambitious projects.
What matters is not ideas, but the people who have them. Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can’t save bad people.