Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged quora in Nov

Filters: Month: Nov × quora ×


What should be my strategy to become a tech entrepreneur?

Go and work for an early-stage startup. Pick well and you’ll learn a ridiculous amount in a very short space of time: excellent preparation for later striking out on your own.

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What is the best way to setup a conference website for a barcamp?

Since BarCamps are arranged by the attendees, I personally think the wiki-style schedule editing we support at Lanyrd makes it an ideal fit. Speakers can attach their slides to their session pages afterwards.

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PostgreSQL: How can I store images in a database? What existing products makes it easy for a user to upload photos into a general database?

As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to store images in a database. This is due to the large amount of space they take up, which can affect database read performance and will greatly increases the size of your backups, making them both take longer and cost more to store.

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Why doesn’t xkcd site have social media share options?

My guess: he probably thinks they are a bit tacky.

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How can I find info on startup companies in stealth mode in a particular market segment before they launch?

The whole point of stealth mode is to prevent you from doing this. That said, if you make sure you’re well connected with entrepreneurs and investors in that particular space you’ll increase your chances of hearing about things before they launch.

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What are ways to avoid getting discouraged while searching for a job as a software developer?

Do you have any programming side-projects? If not, I suggest starting one. You’ll learn a bunch, it will impress interviewers (and help you pull ahead of other candidates) and it will help you build confidence in your own skills.

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What’s your opinion on sharing your presentation slides (online for anyone to access) after speaking at an event where eventgoers paid to hear you (and others) speak?

I think sharing slides is almost always the best thing for everyone:

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Is there a compilation of all of Paul Graham’s essays available online?

Yes: his website. http://www.paulgraham.com/articl...

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What are some ways that brought your proficiency of CSS to another level?

An exercise I found useful when I first learned CSS was to implement CSS versions of the designs of popular sites. This was back when most sites still used tables for layout.

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How can I invest in pre-IPO companies like Quora, Github, etc?

Get to know the founders and investors and see if you can get involved in a future funding round. If you don’t have at least a few hundred thousand dollars to invest you probably won’t get very far though, an even if you do you’d better have more than just money to bring to the table—these rounds are often over-subscribed which means the company can pick the very best out of a number of investors.

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How long does it usually take you to prepare a presentation?

Damian Conway (one of the best technical presenters I’ve ever seen, who also runs amazing tutorials on giving great talks) says “to produce really top-class presentations, budget at least ten to twenty hours per hour of speaking”.

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How did The Voice implement Twitter voting?

You don’t need full firehouse access to implement this—you can use the statuses/filter API to get a feed of tweets that match a specific hash tag: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api...

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What’s my shot at getting into YC or TechStars NY if I am applying from outside the US, alone with both business experience and technical skills?

I’d say your chances are significantly higher than the average application, for both of those programs. Go apply already!

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Does the Google Maps API let you remove details of the map such as street names to focus on pins on the map?

Yes—you can do this with map styles (which allow you to set the visibility if road labels, among other things): http://developers.google.com/map...

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Is there any way to generate thumbnails of web links like Facebook generates when we paste a link in status or comment?

There are a bunch of services that can do this. I’ve successfully used http://url2png.com/ for this in the past.

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Why can’t I do style=“padding: 20px” and a border in the same div?

You can’t have two style attributes on the same element—but you can have two styles rules inside the same attribute. Try this instead:

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How many YC companies have tech co-founders?

Ballpark guess based on my experience in YC: over 90% of YC companies have the technical capability within the founding team to at least ship their MVP. YC is really good at taking technical teams and teaching them the business side of things.

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What are tips for keeping website up on Black Friday? (due to large number of hits)

Serve as much of your site as possible using Varnish, and/or consider a dynamic content CDN such as www.fastly.com

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What’s best the site to visit to START building a website?

There are two ways to approach this: you can try and learn HTML yourself, or you can use tools that will help you build websites quickly without needing to code.

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Is there a website or app that helps you track what you have completed each day?

I’ve tried a few solutions for this. Surprisingly the one that has stuck for me is Evernote—I keep a different document for each week (I tried a document per day but that was annoying to update, and meant I didn’t look at my older notes as often) and each day I add a new header at the top of the document for that day. Being able to link through to other notes from my day summaries is useful too.

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What are the key insights in mastering SQL queries?

You may find this article useful (despite the list-o-matic name): 10 Easy Steps to a Complete Understanding of SQL—I’ve been using SQL for years but I found that some of the concepts explained there helped firm up my fundamental understanding of how to use it effectively.

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Can top VCs hire almost any employee they want for their portfolio companies?

There’s little a VC can do to convince someone to go and work for one of their portfolio companies that the company couldn’t do itself. They might hear about good candidates through their networks, but that candidate will still have plenty of other opportunities to chose from.

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Can you postpone Y Combinator after being accepted?

I don’t think there’s an official policy on this, but I think I’ve heard of it happening so I imagine it’s handled on a case-by-case basis. You should talk to YC about your situation ASAP.

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What are some tips for a successful Ignite talk?

Practice. All public speaking can be improved by repetitive practice, but this is especially important for ignite talks. The one-slide-every-15-seconds format is extremely unforgiving—if you haven’t nailed it, in private, speaking out loud at a sensible pace there’s no chance you’ll be able to keep up with the slides when you are on stage.

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Is it worth it to give up equity in a seed stage company for something other than money? E.g. access to multiple consultants/mentors, as well as regional angel and vc groups?

Yes, but not very much equity. It’s reasonably common to give small (less than 1%) stock grants to members of your advisory board for example.

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What is the equivalent of fuckedcompany today?

The TechCrunch deadpool, but it’s not nearly as fun. http://techcrunch.com/tag/deadpool/

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Wrapping block elements in anchor tags? I know this wasn’t valid markup in HTML4 but has this changed or is the only option through JS?

This is a new thing in HTML5: “Block-level” links in HTML5

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Which online platform can you recommend for organizing group trips? I’ve review startups that tried to build that, but failed a lot. Anything you can recommend that you used or use continuously?

TripIt has worked extremely well for me for trips with up to 9 people.

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Why do so many London based SAAS startups only price in dollars?

UK customers are used to paying for some things in dollars. US customers are likely to be very uncomfortable paying for something in a foreign currency. So if you are only going to support one currency at first, it makes sense to pick dollars.

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NoSQL: What is the “best” solution for storing high volumes of structured data?

On the right setup, PostgreSQL can handle petabytes. There are also commercial vendors such as Greenplum that offer data warehouse solutions built on a modified version of PostgreSQL.

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