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No, because I think we didn’t know what we were doing. I think the hallmark of a really good entrepreneur is that you’re not really going to build one specific company. The goal — at least the way I think about entrepreneurship — is you realize one day that you can’t really work for anyone else. You have to start your own thing.

— Max Levchin

— Founders at Work

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2011.03.31 Thursday ACHK

History 4

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History seems to me so important that it’s misleading to treat it as a mere field of study. Another way to describe it is all the data we have so far.

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Among other things, studying history gives one confidence that there are good ideas waiting to be discovered right under our noses.

— Paul Graham

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2011.03.15 Tuesday ACHK

ANSI Common LISP

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ANSI Common LISP (by Paul Graham) was the book I borrowed for a Machine Intelligence course project in 2000. My memory was that the author was called “Paul something”. I thought that Paul was the one who had invented LISP.

No. It should be John McCarthy.

Later on, during my teaching-in-high-school period, by a Wikipedia biography, I realized that that Paul was not as great as I thought, because he was not the one who had invented LISP.

However, now, I regard him as one of my five most important teachers.

— Me@2010.03.08

— Me@2011.03.14

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2011.03.14 Monday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Startup, go ahead!

Startup 6

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In an essay I wrote a couple years ago I advised graduating seniors to work for a couple years for another company before starting their own. I’d modify that now. Work for another company if you want to, but only for a small one, and if you want to start your own startup, go ahead.

— Paul Graham

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2011.03.04 Friday ACHK

Startup 5

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There are two types of startup ideas: those that grow organically out of your own life, and those that you decide, from afar, are going to be necessary to some class of users other than you.

There are ideas that obvious lying around now. The reason you’re overlooking them is the same reason you’d have overlooked the idea of building Facebook in 2004: organic startup ideas usually don’t seem like startup ideas at first.

— Paul Graham

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2011.02.25 Friday ACHK

Extremists

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And founders and early employees of startups, meanwhile, are like the Birkenstock-wearing weirdos of Berkeley: though a tiny minority of the population, they’re the ones living as humans are meant to. In an artificial world, only extremists live naturally.

— Paul Graham

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2011.02.20 Sunday ACHK

Slicing up the universe

Halcyon Days 2

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There were so many creative things happening back then with computer games. Almost every new game that came out was a new way of slicing up the universe.

— Marc Goodman

– Halcyon Days (book)

– James Hague

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2011.02.17 Thursday ACHK

Building your own brand

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Ultimately, you have to decide which is more important — building your own brand, or building the brand of the website you’re contributing to? While these two concepts are not necessarily opposed, I strongly urge everyone reading this to err on the side of building your own brand whenever possible. Websites tend to come and go; the only sensible long term strategy is to invest in something that’s guaranteed to be around for the rest of your life: you.

— Are You a Digital Sharecropper?

— programming and human factors

— by Jeff Atwood

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2011.02.13 Sunday ACHK

Nerd 4

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I thought it would be useful if I explained what a nerd was. What I came up with was: someone who doesn’t expend any effort on marketing himself.

A nerd, in other words, is someone who concentrates on substance. So what’s the connection between nerds and technology? Roughly that you can’t fool mother nature. In technical matters, you have to get the right answers.

— Paul Graham

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2011.02.09 Wednesday ACHK

Aircraft

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One of the mistakes novice pilots make is overcontrolling the aircraft: applying corrections too vigorously, so the aircraft oscillates about the desired configuration instead of approaching it asymptotically. It seems probable that investors have till now on average been overcontrolling their portfolio companies. In a lot of startups, the biggest source of stress for the founders is not competitors but investors.

— Paul Graham

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2011.02.07 Monday ACHK

Large organization

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Or rather, a large organization could only avoid slowing down if they avoided tree structure. And since human nature limits the size of group that can work together, the only way I can imagine for larger groups to avoid tree structure would be to have no structure: to have each group actually be independent, and to work together the way components of a market economy do.

— Paul Graham

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2011.01.28 Friday ACHK

Intolerance for ugliness

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Intolerance for ugliness is not in itself enough. You have to understand a field well before you develop a good nose for what needs fixing. You have to do your homework. But as you become expert in a field, you’ll start to hear little voices saying, What a hack! There must be a better way. Don’t ignore those voices. Cultivate them. The recipe for great work is: very exacting taste, plus the ability to gratify it.

— Paul Graham

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2011.01.21 Friday ACHK

Evil begets stupidity

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But the other reason programmers are fussy, I think, is that evil begets stupidity. An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work. And it’s not fun for a smart person to work in a place where the best ideas aren’t the ones that win. I think the reason Google embraced “Don’t be evil” so eagerly was not so much to impress the outside world as to inoculate themselves against arrogance.

— Paul Graham

Perhaps worst of all, Microsoft is no longer considered the cool or cutting-edge place to work. There has been a steady exit of its best and brightest.

Not everything that has gone wrong at Microsoft is due to internecine warfare. Part of the problem is a historic preference to develop (highly profitable) software without undertaking (highly risky) hardware.

It’s not an accident that almost all the executives in charge of Microsoft’s music, e-books, phone, online, search and tablet efforts over the past decade have left.

— Microsoft’s Creative Destruction, By Dick Brass, New York Times

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2011.01.14 Friday ACHK

Good design

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Good design is timeless. Strangely enough, if you want to make something that will appeal to future generations, one way to do it is to try to appeal to past generations. It’s hard to guess what the future will be like, but we can be sure it will be like the past in caring nothing for present fashions. So if you can make something that appeals to people today and would also have appealed to people in 1500, there is a good chance it will appeal to people in 2500.

— Paul Graham

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2011.01.07 Friday ACHK