Indie Hackers: learn how developers are writing their own paychecks

Cool site, Indie Hackers, shows off the projects that are making software developers money. It is a directory of products and services that developers are offering and shows how much money they are earning. It should be inspirational to any developer, coder or software engineer.

Some of the projects are:

  • Compliance, a daily planning app which made $2500 a month at its peak.
  • Webjay, a music playlist service which its developers $400/month at its peak.

On each project page, it’s a bit of an interview with the developers/founders of the project.

One of the most important questions is “How did ____ make money?”, the founder of Webjay answered that question in this way:

I monetized through banner ads. It was a native format where a sponsor’s music was available for adoption among my users. I also monetized by using my accrued reputation to get better contract work as a programmer.

Eventually I was acquihired by Yahoo. It was much easier to close a deal, because I had no investors. I didn’t get rich, but I got enough to buy a house and dramatically improve my standard of living. I also got a big promotion, from coder to exec, and now make a much better living.

This is a hopeful story, you can hack on a project and make some money through banner ads (without tracking people) and you can use your improved skills to get better contract work. That side project you’re working on could be a real money maker for you even if you don’t make money from it directly.

The Webjay interview is really good, here are some tips that Lucas Gonze offers to other developers/founders:

  • Do things the easy way.
  • Have a razor sharp bullshit filter.
  • No metrics unless you will act on the data. No work that doesn’t matter to users.
  • Be yourself. Be a human.
  • Don’t try to raise money from investors. They will waste your time and your project will die. Be deeply suspicious of anything like YC.
  • Be very careful about lawyers. They have little to offer you.
  • Be tough. Things worth doing are usually hard.

Click here to check out Indie Hackers and see other stories about successful developers.

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Ethical WTF: Telus Health secretly inserted drug vouchers into electronic medical records system

According to the Toronto Star, Telus Health’s EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system offered vouchers for more expensive brand name drugs. This “feature” was enabled in a 2016 software update with many doctors unknowingly activating it.

When doctors would go into the system, vouchers would sit alongside patient information, it would be non-obvious or hidden and it would look like part of the software:

The Star had found that brand name drug companies paid Telus to digitally insert the vouchers so that the prescription is filled with their product instead of the lower-cost generic competitor that pharmacists normally reach for.

What’s troubling is that Telus would send data about usage of the vouchers back to the marketing/advertising companies:

Telus said drug manufacturers paying to have their vouchers in the EMR receive “aggregated and anonymized, province-level statistics” on the total number of vouchers printed off for their products

Continue reading “Ethical WTF: Telus Health secretly inserted drug vouchers into electronic medical records system”

Node.js has forked into Ayo

Ayo (pronounced “eye-oh” or IO) is a fork of the popular Node.js JavaScript runtime. It was created because of a Code of Conduct issue in the Node.js project.

A committee at the Node.js project voted 60% in favour of allowing a developer to stay on with the project. The vote put forward to the committee noted some violations of the Code Of Conduct. The fact there was a vote means that they took the Code of Conduct seriously.

Continue reading “Node.js has forked into Ayo”

About Workplace Anarchy

About Workplace Anarchy

The blog of Guile co-maintainer, Andy Wingo, has a series of blog posts detailing how the Igalia workers’ co-operative works:

This is a very interesting subject as there are few workers’ co-operatives in existence…or maybe there are a lot of them but the problem is they don’t advertise how they do business and they don’t always discuss how they do consensus-based decision making and the inner workings which could help others start their own workers’ co-operative. It’s very easy to find a million books on how to start a capitalist, non-egalitarian workplace, it’s next to impossible to find one on a co-operative.

Continue reading “About Workplace Anarchy”

Canadian spy agency, CSIS, uses illegal bulk data collection to subvert Canadian freedoms

On a beautiful Sunday morning, I have to link to this bit of ugliness on the illegal bulk data collection by the Canadian spy agency, CSIS. Only a handful members of government knew about and it was only revealed because of a court case.

From the article:

Many corporations and government agencies are now gravitating toward so-called big data computer analytics that can predict patterns of future behaviour based upon records about what has happened in the past. Spy agencies are no different, and the centre in question appears to be the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s equivalent of a crystal ball – a place where intelligence analysts attempt to deduce future threats by examining, and re-examining, volumes of data.

Continue reading “Canadian spy agency, CSIS, uses illegal bulk data collection to subvert Canadian freedoms”

Rejecting Software Licenses

Martin Sustrik has written an article about the number of Github repos that have licenses and apparently that number has been declining. Github now lets newly created repositories to insert a license file that has the text of licenses such as the MIT, Apache 2.0 and GPL.

His theory is that more developers just don’t care about licenses anymore and are completely rejecting them and the copyright system that goes along with them.

So, the other possibility is that authors deliberately reject the legal system per se. The reasoning can go as follows: I do care about my peers using my software. I don’t give a damn about whether the lawyers and mega-corporations they work for use it. So, if you are like me and you don’t care about all the intellectual property antics, here’s my project, feel free to use it. If you are the kind of moron who wants to have their legal ass covered, go screw yourself.

Where I think he goes wrong is in stating that this is a more radical position than the Free Software movement’s statement:

Put this way, publishing without license is a much more radical statement than GPL is. Where RMS says: “You can use my stuff if you buy into the idea of free software,” people publishing without license say: “You can use my stuff if you are willing to ignore the law.” It’s a bit like when you want to join mafia and they ask you to beat an innocent bystander to prove your contempt for the rule of law.

This is missing the point. Yes the GPL relies on the existing copyright system of enforcement, but if you aren’t using GPL that’s absolutely fine and is in fact the point of the GPL; that we are creating new free/open source software that can exist *outside* of the realm of our antiquated copyright system. Richard Stallman was keenly aware of this and why he worked on creating a license that can use existing system against itself.

One day we’ll reach a tipping point where it would be stupid to try and copyright a piece of software, absolutely ridiculous, something that’s only done by someone selfish and anti-social. Until that day, however, we have the GPL to protect us from companies that want to lower their costs and take advantage of our labour. The GPL’s point is to use the copyright system against itself.

At this point you can opt out of the copyright system, but it won’t opt of you. The governments of the world, despite our protestations, want to enforce copyright on software. By neglecting to include a license, you’re actually preventing others from using your software and developing it further because your users/developers and the rest of society have bought into copyright law.

This is precisely why it’s important to talk about the GPL and copyleft. One day, all software will be free/open source and we’re getting closer. This is why I’m forking node-oauth, which was under the MIT license and changing it to the GPL3 license. Because I can’t opt out of the copyright system yet, but when we get to that day where we no longer have any copyright laws and enforcement in place, that’s when I’ll remove all the licenses from my code. Continue reading “Rejecting Software Licenses”