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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Red Hat Teams Up With Microsoft

This is a headline I thought I would never see but the world has really changed with Microsoft seeming to fully embrace open source!

Red Hat is offering support for .NET Core on RHEL and OpenShift, not only that but the version of .NET includes C#, F# and Visual Basic. Red Hat offers enterprise-grade support for .NET now and if a corporation using .NET was hesitant about moving to GNU/Linux, they can enlist the help of Red Hat with that move.

I’ve personally known a few .NET shops that would do well to consider moving to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL); Linux servers are easier to automate and administer than Windows servers. With Red Hat’s support, it becomes even easier.

The KDE Slimbook: a new laptop for users of free/open source software

The KDE Slimbook: a new laptop for users of free/open source software

We’ve covered how to buy a fully loaded Linux laptop before, and now we have another choice! The Odin Group, based in Spain and operating for over 10 years, has created a laptop, the Slimbook, that comes fully loaded with GNU/Linux. The KDE Slimbook version comes with GNU/Linux and the KDE Desktop Environment.

It is a beautiful laptop that weighs in at just under 3 lbs (2.99 lbs, 1.36 kg; for comparison, the Dell XPS 13 laptop weighs around 2.7 lbs). The screen is 1920×1080 LED, a very welcome from the older laptops that were stuck at 1366×720 resolution. The laptop comes in two versions, one has the Intel i5-6200U processor while the other version has the Intel i7-6500U processor. The graphics card is an Intel Graphics HD 520 and the RAM comes in three sizes; 4gb, 8gb or 16gb. Most users will want to go with at least the 8 gb option. Click here to read more about the KDE Slimbook’s hardware.

The price for the base model (4gb RAM, 120GB SSD for storage) is very reasonable, it is 729 Euros for the i5 version, and 849 Euros for the i7 version. This translates to about $858 USD and $999 USD, respectively. Upgrading to 8GB of RAM is an extra 65 Euros while fully loaded with 16GB of RAM is an extra 190 Euros.

Slimbook

My favourite option is that the screen can be changed from LED to Matte. This makes a huge difference when programming near bright and reflective lights. Matte screens are less reflective and easier to read.

What’s interesting is that the KDE Slimbook can apparently be shipped anywhere in the world for a fee of 99 Euros (outside of Europe and aside from any tariffs or other country-specific fees).

Definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a laptop that is running GNU/Linux out of the box.

Open Source Startups: Learn From MySQL’s Pitch Deck

MySQL’s pitch deck is an instructive example of how to pitch a free/open source startup to investors. With this pitch deck they raised $16 million in their Series B round way back in 2003 when it wasn’t so clear to investors that free/open source was the better way to develop software.

I wanted to point out some of the highlights that are especially relevant to startups and why startups that develop proprietary software should consider making their software open source instead.

Continue reading “Open Source Startups: Learn From MySQL’s Pitch Deck”

CRTC to issue decision on video, music streaming services and data plans, net neutrality

CRTC to issue decision on video, music streaming services and data plans. The Canadian telecommunications watchdog will issue a decision today that affects net neutrality.

The definition of net neutrality is (from wikipedia):

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication

The issue is that Videotron in Quebec was not counting a certain streaming service’s data usage against customer’s data cap. This meant if you streamed 300mb of data from the service, it would not count against your 4gb data plan, but if you used a competing service it would count.

That is a direct attack on net neutrality, where an ISP or mobile network provider is directly favouring one service over another, which distorts the free market. We will see today what the CRTC has to say about it.

Why Slack is inappropriate for open source communications

Dave Chaney has written a nice blog post detailing why Slack the chat tool is inappropriate for open source projects to use.

The reasons to prefer something other than Slack for open source project communications are:

  • Slack is closed source
  • Slack requires paid memberships, especially when integrations start to be used
  • Communications within Slack stay within Slack, they cannot be linked to the outside world (that’s a walled-garden, anti-open Web attitude, it makes sense in a corporate setting but not for open source projects).
  • Slack favours real-time communication, even while it tries to promote asynchronous communication

His recommendation?

Instead of closed, synchronous, systems I recommend open source projects stick to asynchronous communication tools that leave a publicly linkable, searchable, url.

The tools that fit this requirement best are; mailing list, issue trackers, and forums.

I’ve mentioned Zulip as an alternative before because it does have some great features and besides, it’s licensed under a free/open source license.

On Hacker News, you can see a lively discussion about this topic.

The lead developer of Zulip chimes in with a thought-provoking response to the blog post, suggesting that Slack isn’t the real problem (though it is a contributor):

…even with “asynchronous” media like email, bug trackers, or forums, often people reply basically immediately (within minutes or maybe hours), just like you can in chat, and it might be hours or days before everyone has a chance to see the conversation and respond.

The problem is that the messages have no organizational structure beyond the channel. In Slack and friends, there’s no easy way to see what _actual conversations_ happened while you were away, and it’s really hard for a channel to discuss multiple things, so conversations either die or become hard to read when someone starts talking about something else. Combined, this means you have to (1) read _everything_ in order to know what happened and (2) be continuously online in order to participate effectively. This may not matter if your community is super low-traffic, but if you have hundreds or thousands of messages being sent daily, this effectively excludes everyone who doesn’t have a LOT of time to spend on the chat community.

The solution in Zulip is to have threads for conversations, and it is possible to view discussions outside of Zulip with public URLs so it isn’t a walled-garden of conversation. Highly recommend checking it out.