Favourite Quotations (in no particular order)
If you spend the next twenty years of your life, you could do something like a Michael Angelo painting, would it be worth it? Of course it would. It would be worth it for that one thing. For things to be worthwhile, they should be difficult.
For every power user that writes in asking for a feature, there’s one new user (and ten potential users) that felt the opposite way.
When you’re evaluating potential features, part of your role is to be an advocate for the long tail of users that won’t yet advocate for themselves.
Your users are experts at using your product, not building, supporting, or maintaining it.
Every feature added creates an implicit and perpetual contract with your users. A contract that obligates you to maintain, support, and build around that feature in every subsequent release.
Planning turns a chaotic mass of concerns into an organized sequence
— Martin E. P. Seligman
If it's not a hell yes! It's a hell no!
— Melanie V. Eusebe
Don't overthink it. Get started. Do it with passion. And have fun.
— Edwina Dunn
I didn't work this hard for you to do the same thing I did. I worked this hard so that you can surpass me in every kind of way.
— Mother of Melanie V. Eusebe
[People] want to work with someone who gives them confidence. They want to work with people who understand what is expected and have a plan to get it done. And they want to trust that if things are off track, the first person they will hear it from is the person who owns it. They want to be told "Everyone chill the f**ck out, I got this".
The most fundamental unit of collaboration is two people.
"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time."
— Blaise Pascal
"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late."
— Reid Hoffman
Education is free. You pay for the packaging.
There are a lot of things I miss, but having someone in my life who shares the same passions and interests as me is near the top of the list
I like new ideas & old wines. New software & old books. Water fountains & fountain pens. New discoveries & old friends.
cleaning up my apartment because i'd be pretty embarrassed if i died and they found it in this state
Graph your growth
People don't buy products; they buy better versions of themselves. There's a difference between "Check out our product" and "Check out what you can do with our product".
Good code is the result from rewriting it over and over again. The process of creating it is very similar to producing good writing.
Some educators, who are quick to say "These students just don't want to learn”, should instead be saying "I suck at my job”.
Why yes, I get to allocate my time as I see fit these days, how did you guess?
Make new mistakes. There is no glamour in repeating old mistakes.
“I don't want to earn my living, I want to live.”
— Oscar Wilde
"Where do you find the time?" You don't find time, you make it.
How much do software companies spend on software? In absolute numbers, a lot. Relative to revs/other costs, rounding error.
When you try and make everything stand out, nothing stands out.
Best advice I got when I entered academia: "We're all smart. Distinguish yourself by being kind."
Every company hires UX designers. They just may not realize the people they’re hiring will inevitably define their product or service's UX.
Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.
To get people to try something new, don't lead with the benefits of change. Open with the bad things that will happen if they don't.
— Adam Grant
Start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it.
— Steve Jobs (video)
Don't solve the problem you're given, figure out what the real problem is.
Don't define yourself by your title or career — be willing to learn and do everything, no matter how large or small.
—unknown (Garry Tan?)
Constantly re-evaluate. Does this process add value? Is what we're doing creating happiness, or causing unhappiness?
Never commit to memory what can be easily looked up
80% of success is showing up.
There is no real difference between work and play – it’s all living.
Theory and practice sometimes clash. And when that happens, theory loses. Every single time.
Nobody should start to undertake a large project. You start with a small trivial project, and you should never expect it to get large. If you do, you'll just overdesign and generally think it is more important than it likely is at that stage. Or worse, you might be scared away by the sheer size of the work you envision. So start small, and think about the details. Don't think about some big picture and fancy design. If it doesn't solve some fairly immediate need, it's almost certainly over-designed. And don't expect people to jump in and help you. That's not how these things work. You need to get something half-way useful first, and then others will say "hey, that almost works for me", and they'll get involved in the project.
Talk is cheap. Show me the code.
Our strategy is to find bottlenecks by hitting them. That may sound irresponsible, but in practice it's the way most complex systems get optimized.
Our whole thing is about making big things happen with small teams. You don't need all these layers of red tape and bureaucracy and formal process to get things done. In fact, being smaller has its advantages.
You can get to the top by competing with others; you stay on top by competing with yourself.
The code should tell you how, the comments should tell you why.
Go wild, fork the project, and prove your point. Show everybody that you can make improvements.
The enemy of knowledge isn't ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.
When the company's culture rewards those who don't make mistakes rather than those that are bold and try new stuff (therefore making some mistakes), then not rocking the boat is institutionalized. New things are not tried, as they are too risky, and anything old that becomes a liability must be quickly fixed or gotten rid of.
Success is waking up happy in the morning and doing something you are passionate about every day.
Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
No matter how determined you are, it's hard not to be influenced by the people around you. It's not so much that you do whatever a city expects of you, but that you get discouraged when no one around you cares about the same things you do.
Quiet people have the loudest minds.
Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats—just by a little. Except for a few outliers at the top and bottom, the behavior of almost everyone is driven by two opposing motivations. On the one hand, we want to benefit from cheating and get as much money and glory as possible; on the other hand, we want to view ourselves as honest, honorable people. Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society.
I did what I loved, even though most of the time it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing and seemed counterproductive. The point is emphatically not that you should neglect everything else in order to program; it’s that you should figure out what makes you want to neglect everything else, and do that. It might be video games, it might be repairing cars, it might be starting companies, it might be raising a family. Whatever it is, find it and do it.
Having strong opinions is different from having an opinion on everything.
Being in a place full of opinionated people is nice, so long as those people are able to discuss their opinions rationally and are okay with not getting their way every time."
—samdk (from HN)
Out of all the different directions a design could go. The best one is the one that gets finished and ships.
I am a hybrid addicted to two things: freedom and passion. Lack of either drives me away, whether it's from a project, a freelance gig or a job.
I am an eternal student of the game; my nature for being a jack-of-all-trades allowing me to overcome any challenge put in front of me. I might not be the perfect choice for a specific challenge, but I will always persevere.
Luck is a skill I cherish. Ambition runs through my veins.
Someday I'll succeed, but I'm a bit busy making sure the people I care about do.
It's fucking land-grab time so get all of the fucking land you can get.
—Chamath Palihapitiya (on user growth at FB)
The biggest risk is not taking any risks.
The only reason you should be an entrepreneur is because that’s the only way the idea will come into the world.
You know somebody has been sucked into the competitive myopia when they start using sports or war metaphors. Sports and war are competitive enterprises. If somebody hits three home runs against you in the top of the inning, your job is to go hit four home runs in the bottom of the inning.
But business, politics, intellectual life and most other realms are not like that. In most realms, if somebody hits three home runs against you in one inning, you have the option of picking up your equipment and inventing a different game. You don’t have to compete; you can invent.
The thing is: school is nothing like the real world. It teaches you how to deal with school.
School is a very weird, twisted little society where none of the work has any real point, there's no source of purpose other than pure social approval, and everybody is either the same age or an authority figure.
The strategies you use for dealing with difficult people in the real world are completely different from what you have to do in school. Same goes for how to find friends, or how to decide what to do.
That's precisely why everyone is always saying 'it will get better after you get out of high school'. Because the conditions in school are not at all representative of the rest of your life.
—ef4 (from HN)
I've been in tech for 30 years and I've had all sorts of levels of compensation, failures and successes. Always the differentiators have been: The people I work with, the passion I feel for the problems we are trying to solve, and the acknowledgement I get for my contribution.
The best answers don't have to answer the question.
I run as fast as I can if I meet someone who doesn't care who they're hiring. I'd rather be rejected than work for someone who doesn't appreciate my work.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
Don't worry about the future. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
The value of a piece of information is proportional to the chance that you will act on it times the benefit of acting on it.
The question of whether a computer can think is equivalent to the question of whether a submarine can swim.
— E. Dijkstra
Continuously reevaluate what you're spending your time on, and make sure your work has impact. Impact is a universal value. If you stay aware of that objective and don’t expect someone else to always prioritize your tasks for you, then you’ll be successful.
The genius is always puzzled by answers, it is the fool who is satisfied by them.
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.
If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only the mind. If you think shy, you act shy. If you think confident you act confident. Therefore never let shyness conquer your mind.
—Arfa Karim Randhawa
If you won't take responsibility when things go badly, you give up the right to take credit when things go well.
Stop trying to tell children what to think — let them learn how to think instead.
As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
Age is not an accomplishment, and youth is not a sin.
—Robert A. Heinlein
The best programmers can solve a given problem in a tenth the time. But what if the problem isn't given? In programming, as in many fields, the hard part isn't solving problems, but deciding what problems to solve. Imagination is hard to measure, but in practice it dominates the kind of productivity that's measured in lines of code.
We live in the computer age, a world increasingly shaped by programmers.
Why do kids who can't master high school end up as some of the most powerful people in the world?
A really competent programmer should be puzzle-minded and very fond of clever tricks; programming is nothing more than optimizing the efficiency of the computational process, in one direction or the other.
—Edsger W. Dijkstra
As long as there were no machines, programming was no problem at all; when we had a few weak computers, programming became a mild problem, and now we have gigantic computers, programming had become an equally gigantic problem. In this sense the electronic industry has not solved a single problem, it has only created them, it has created the problem of using its products.
—Edsger W. Dijkstra
They silence their [design] doubts by observing how many of these machines have been sold, and derive from that observation the false sense of security that, after all, the design cannot have been that bad. But upon closer inspection, that line of defense has the same convincing strength as the argument that cigarette smoking must be healthy because so many people do it.
—Edsger W. Dijkstra
This is the essential broader point—as a programmer you must have a series of wins, every single day. It is the Deus Ex Machina of hacker success. It is what makes you eager for the next feature, and the next after that. And a large team is poison to small wins. The nature of large teams is such that even when you do have wins, they come after long, tiresome and disproportionately many hurdles. And this takes all the wind out of them. Often when I shipped a feature it felt more like relief than euphoria.
—Dhanji Prasanna (on Google Wave)
What is vitally important is to make sure that you can guarantee constant improvement. There is time to play, there is time to analyze.
For statements that are impossible to verify, from a rationalist standpoint, they are better off not even being made. Because they cannot be verified, it is impossible to assert one statement over a similar-but-conflicting one. All unverifiable statements are equally worthless in rational debate, reasoned thinking, explanatory review, and strategy.
Beneath my wings are many winds.
It's fanaticism that is the enemy. It is not religion. Fanaticism is any ideology, and lack of tolerance is when you get danger.
The most exceptional students are not the most busy; they’re the most focused.
I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.
You don't need to make money from code to make money thanks to code.
Correlation does not imply causation.
I will not die. It's the world that will end.
Upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future.
The truth is not for all, but only for those who seek it.
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.
Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
Man's unique reward is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself.
Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death.
Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.
From the smallest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from one attribute of man - the function of his reasoning mind.
when you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.
—why the lucky stiff
We’re in the most ridiculous industry on earth. You can whip something up in a few hours and before you know it, people around the world will be using it. That is insane.
No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.
—Caltech's Honor Code
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
—R. P. Feynman
You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
It’s your curiosity and enthusiasm that will get you noticed and make your life interesting.
Real intelligence is about finding yourself in situations that you’ve never been in before but that have some abstract principles in common with your experience, and using that abstract knowledge to reason productively in the new situation.
There is no use going somewhere if you are not going to enjoy the trip.
Education is a self-organising system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon.
I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.
—Richard Feynman (deathbed confession)
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.
Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations.
I haven't gone to a better place, or a worse one. I haven't gone anyplace, because Derek doesn't exist anymore. As soon as my body stopped functioning, and the neurons in my brain ceased firing, I made a remarkable transformation: from a living organism to a corpse, like a flower or a mouse that didn't make it through a particularly frosty night. The evidence is clear that once I died, it was over.
So I was unafraid of death—of the moment itself—and of what came afterwards, which was (and is) nothing. As I did all along, I remained somewhat afraid of the process of dying, of increasing weakness and fatigue, of pain, of becoming less and less of myself as I got there.
—Derek K. Miller (as he awaits his near death)
I too am not a religious man and my view on the afterlife are pretty much the same as Derek's, but how nice it would be, to be wrong.
—Colin Meeks (on Derek Miller's death)
There are two men in each one of us: the scientist, he who starts with a clear field and desires to rise to the knowledge of Nature through observations, experimentation and reasoning, and the man of sentiment, the man of belief, the man who mourns his dead friend, and who cannot, alas, prove that he will see them again, but who believes that he will, and lives in the hope.
Junior graduate students think senior graduate students are smarter, but they’re not: they simply have more practice.
Senior graduate students think junior professors are smarter, but they’re not: they simply have more practice.
And so on.
People enjoy different things. Like sitting at the bar, everyone can name their poison. Some people like KDE, some like Gnome, but we all drink Linux.
The world is supposed to be waiting, and when you do something great, they should rush out and welcome it. But the fact is everyone is busy with their own work.
To properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal.
Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.
Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement.
Now them same bushes that we played in are covered up in pavement.
What if we picked the wrong religion? Every day we're just making God madder and madder.
The best in the world simplify complex subjects; the most common make the simple complex.
If you don't bend over backwards, you don't do science!
—Prof. Metrovic (Astronomy @ BrockU)
If you have everything, you have everything to lose.
To be original is to be in some way distinct to others. Hence, to be original is to violate equality.
sometimes you need to be with the person who makes you smile even if it means waiting
— M. D. Acciani
I no longer read Stephen King novels, I now read C code.
Whatever is impermanent is dukkha.
It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
The things you own end up owning you.
Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the seniormost levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them. And I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.
Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.
Nothing at Facebook is somebody else's problem.
The act of creating the work is as important as the work itself because we are a culture of hackers, makers, builders.
—Steven Heller (?)
Ultimately, our constant dissatisfaction with the way things are becomes the driving force behind everything we do.
EVERYTHING IS DESIGNED. FEW THINGS ARE DESIGNED WELL.
Asking is a moment's embarrassment... Not asking is a lifelong regret.
Redesigning is dangerous. When you change people's habits and workflows need to adjust, people lose their knowledge of how things work. So when you redesign, you better have a good reason for it.
Technical debt can scar your software and designs and force you to redesign. Redesigns can provide perspective and allow you to refocus.
The second-most important thing you can do is improve user experience. The first most important thing is to find a behavioral insight and shift it to a new domain.
In business, you don't have to be right. You just have to be less wrong than your competitors.
An enormous amount of time in business should be spent butterfly effect hunting. Looking for little things that can have a big impact. These things tend to get delegated to people without much power. Instead, this is where the most experimentation should happen and where the highest tolerance for errors should be.
The biggest things to improve the human condition are found in the smallest design tweaks.
The human brain hates to be in a state of uncertainty. Give feedback that provides a clear sense of certainty quickly and drives further use. The real innovation in Uber (car services) is the elimination of uncertainty. Find other places where you can reduce uncertainty.
Find small UX improvements and extract the physiological insights, then apply to something different.
Allow people to make choices in the order they prefer.
Stop listening to their advice, and only listen to their stories. Every regret I have in business is because I took somebody else's advice.
—Philip Kaplan (pud)
For a creative person, happiness isn't whether you made the right or wrong decision, it's that you made your decision and followed your vision.
—Philip Kaplan (pud)
I thought it might be fun to see how far I could get, and I quit my job that week.
—Philip Kaplan (pud)
A good engineer has a track record of — repeat after me — increasing revenue or decreasing costs.
Co-workers and bosses are not usually your friends: You will spend a lot of time with co-workers. You may eventually become close friends with some of them, but in general, you will move on in three years and aside from maintaining cordial relations you will not go out of your way to invite them over to dinner. They will treat you in exactly the same way. You should be a good person to everyone you meet — it is the moral thing to do, and as a sidenote will really help your networking — but do not be under the delusion that everyone is your friend.
You probably don’t want to be first employee for a startup. Be the last co-founder instead.
Once upon a time I would have described myself as “Slightly below average” in programming skill. I have since learned that I had a radically skewed impression of the skill distribution, that programming skill is not what people actually optimize for, and that modesty is against my interests. These days if you ask me how good of a programmer I am I will start telling you stories about how I have programmed systems which helped millions of kids learn to read or which provably made companies millions. The question of where I am on the bell curve matters to no one, so why bother worrying about it?
If it ain’t fun, it ain’t for me, because if then I take it, I’ll botch it, and I don’t like that.
Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus, concentrate the mind. That's why they work in many cases. When you see the goal right there and zoom straight to it. But for some problems, that don't have a single set of rules, and no clear solution, that narrow focus doesn't work.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
—Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.
— Steve Jobs
An organization’s taste is the way the organization makes design decisions.
If the decisions are bold, opinionated, and cohesive — we tend to say the organization has taste. But if any of these are missing, we tend to label the entire organization as lacking taste.
— Kyle Neath
— Sam Altman