Last week someone interviewed me on Huffington Post. This is a copy of the interview.
Original title: Interview with Peter Krumins, The Get Things Done Guy
Welcome, Peter, and thanks for your time! Can you please share something about yourself?
Thanks for inviting me here! I only have 15-20 mins today and I apologize for my rushed answers.
I'm an expert hacker, writer and all around good guy. I love building businesses, monetizing HTTP requests and getting things done. My latest business is Browserling, a cross-browser testing service.
What do you mean by monetizing HTTP requests?
Hah! I mean when you access a web page your browser makes a request to that page. It's called a HTTP request. I like spending days and weeks on-end thinking and optimizing how to turn those into paying customers.
Tell me more about Browserling and how did you start it?
Browserling lets people quickly test their websites in all the web browsers on all the platforms. Every browser works a little bit differently on every platform. To make great websites you've got to test them in a bunch of browsers to make sure your websites work great everywhere. We solve this problem. We provide quick access to all the browsers. You can just go to Browserling's website and get any browser in a few seconds.
I started it in 2011 with my friend James Halliday (also known as substack). We built tech that lets users access virtual machines from their browsers. When we demo'd it, someone randomly on Hacker News said it would be cool to build a cross-browser testing service. So we built it. We raised a seed funding round the same year from some of the top angel investors in Silicon Valley and joined Hackers/Founders, world's largest startup network. Browserling has been growing ever since and we haven't had to raise another round.
We just started going to all the Hackers/Founders events and demo-ing Browserling on my small 11" Macbook Air. People loved the idea and soon the word spread that we're building awesome tech. Jonathan Nelson (founder of Hackers/Founders) then introduced us to a bunch of investors and they loved the idea too and we got funded!
Can you tell us a little more about your current roles and responsibilities?
I'm Browserling's chief-ling. I do all the things a founder has to do. I help to write code, run servers, and talk to customers. One thing I don't do is tell my employees what to do. Everyone's on their own to build great stuff and cumulatively build a great company. I sometimes only give hints on what interesting problems there are to solve.
What else do you do besides Browserling?
Apart from Browserling I like to write books about programming and blogging about programming at catonmat.net, which has become one of world's most subscribed programming blogs.
Why do you call yourself the "get things done guy"?
Someone called me that in another interview and I liked it. I really like breaking bigger problems into smaller sub-tasks, solving those and merging the results back into a solution. I just get it done. Also one of my books, Perl One-Liners, is about getting things done quickly in the command line, which is probably why they called me that.
Which technologies do you currently use?
I use general purpose programming languages, a text editor, a command line, and other UNIX tools. I'm not a fan of new technologies. I solve problems using fundamental tools, tricks and techniques that have been around for decades. The older the tool, the more I like it.
What are your favorite technology conferences?
None. I don't go to conferences. They don't make any sense. I can just watch talks that I'm interested in on YouTube at 2x speed or higher and save days of time.
What are you favorite YouTube channels then?
Mostly science channels, engineering videos and tech talks. I'm subscribed to hundreds of channels. I can't recall the names on the spot. I love nerd humor too. BowserVids is my favorite.
Why do so many startups fail?
Because it's genuinely hard. Here's a comic that I created that illustrates why:
What advice can you give to new entrepreneurs?
Based on my experience:
- Automate stuff away. Make computer programs do the work for you.
- ABC: Always be coding.
- Focus on creating value.
- Be patient! It takes years to succeed.
Thanks for your valuable time Peter and we wish you all the success to Browserling and you!
I just added another 50 tools to Browserling's online programmer tools. This increases the collection from 250 tools to 300. Each tool does just one thing and one thing only. There are no ads, no config options, and no nonsense. Just tools that get things done. All tools are free and all tools work the same way. Press button, get result.
Here are some of the latest additions:
- Web version of printf function
- Convert strings to utf16 bytes
- Convert utf16 bytes to strings
- Replace columns in csv files
- Delete columns in csv files
- Convert csv to text columns
- Conver text columns to csv
- Neatly format and align text columns
- Replace columns in arbitrary separated text column data
- Generate random binary digits
- Generate random octal digits
- Generate random decimal digits
- Generate random hex digits
- Generate random bytes
- Slash-escape strings
- Slash-unescape strings
- Trim text
- Truncate text
- Center text
- Generate bcrypt password hashes
- Test if a bcrypt hash matches a password
- Generate scrypt password hashes
- Test if a scrypt hash matches a password
- Escape json strings
- Unescape json strings
- Validate json strings
- Convert text to morse code
- Convert morse code to text
- Merge two text lists
- Transpose tsv files
- Replace columns in tsv files
- Delete columns in tsv files
Coming up: New user interface for tools, widgets that let you embed tools in your own website, file upload support, and more tools.
See you next time!
This is part seven of my 100 favorite programming, mathematics, physics and science books.
Quick intro for anyone joining: I've been collecting interesting books for more than 15 years. I'm interested only in books that push thinking and challenge what I already know. I also like fun books that teach you something new in a unique way. And I like books that focus deeply on one and only one topic. I hate average books and would never recommend such books. My recommendations have no affiliate links or garbage. Just awesome books that I truly enjoy.
This time I'm sharing my favorite books about math, number theory, cryptography, programming, and visual proofs.
Part of my bookshelf.
Here are the next five books.
31. Reciprocity Laws: From Euler to Eisenstein
Holy crap! Another amazing book that rarely anyone knows. This book covers one specific topic, just the way I like it. This book is all about history and development of reciprocity laws in terms of algebraic number theory. It covers it all. Quadratic, cubic, quartic, sextic, octic rational and Eistenstein's reciprocity laws, their proofs, extensions and applications. I understand maybe 10% of what's in this book as number theory isn't my specialty but I'd love to give it a 100% and just work through it. I really like books that focus on a single subject and take wild journeys into unknown.
Chapter on Gauss's Last Entry caught my attention. It's the last entry in Gauss's diary. The author uses Gauss's last entry to show connection between biquadratic reciprocity, elliptic curves, zeta functions and Weil conjectures. Super advanced stuff and I only know some of these words.
Gauss's last entry (in Latin; mouse over for English.)
This book stops with Eistenstein's reciprocity law. The author also says there will be the 2nd volume that will start with Artin's reciprocity law and cover latest developments that have happened in the last 20 years. I'm waiting eagerly.
Author: Franz Lemmermeyer.
32. The Design and Evolution of C++
In mid 2000s I was super obsessed with C and C++ programming languages. At one point I decided to become a C++ language lawyer. That's a person who knows ins and outs of the standard and also the history of the language. I spent half a year reading this book. A chapter or two every month until I finished it. I took many pages of notes, memorized every single most important detail. This is how my notes look. I can now quickly review the entire book in half an hour.
But then I decided that being a language lawyer would be too boring and didn't fit my mindset and lifestyle and I dropped the whole idea of becoming a C++ language lawyer.
Overall this is a great book by Bjarne Stroustroup, the creator of C++ language. He tells the history of C++ since day one. Get this book if you want to know why C++ is the way it is, how it's historically connected with C, and how it's made.
Author: Bjarne Stroustrup.
33. The Practice of Programming
Another classic book for beginners and journeymen. Very similar to Bentley's Programming Pearls (and More Programming Pearls) that I covered in part one. This book teaches you how to write good code. There are two ways to write good code, read this book in a few days, and write good code, or spend 10 years writing random code and coming up with these same principles - simplicity, clarity, generality and automation.
And to be honest, I love this book because I've special feelings for Kernighan (and other Unix giants.) Kernighan? Add to cart and checkout!
Kernighan also recently wrote The Go Programming Language book. I'm not going to read it but guess what he used for typesetting?
troff! I can also say that I'll buy any and all books written today that are typeset in troff. Without knowing the author. Anyone who uses troff knows what they're doing. I'll actually write one of my own next books in troff.
Author: Brian Kernighan, Rob Pike.
34. Algebraic Aspects of Cryptography
In part four I recommended Neil's A Course in Number Theory and Cryptography. I said "I love two of his books. This is one of them. I'll keep the other book secret until the next part of the series." Well here it is.
Koblitz is my favorite author. He's not only a badass and inventor of elliptic curve cryptography but also a great writer. As I said early in the series, I hate textbooks. But not Koblitz's textbooks. His textbooks are not really textbooks. Koblitz knows exactly what to explain and how to explain and always gives good and relevant examples. This book gives brief refresher to algebra and then introduces hidden monomial cryptosystems, combinatorial-algebraic cryptosystems, and hyperelliptic cryptosystems (as well as elliptic-cruve systems). I hadn't heard about these systems before and that's what also made me excited about this book. It's not like some other boring stupid cryptography books that derive RSA for the 5000th time.
This book is also written mostly in definition-theorem-proof-example-exercise-answer style, which is one of the quickest ways to learn something.
Author: Neal I. Koblitz.
35. Proofs Without Words III
I love this series! In part four I recommended Proofs Without Words I and Proofs Without Words II. Roger Nelsen, the author, just published the third book in this series. The third book contains another 100+ elegant proofs. There is almost no text in the book, just proofs that will make you think hard. Proofs in this book are divided in several categories: geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, analytic geometry, inequalities, integers, integer sums, infinite series, and other proofs.
Reciprocal Pythagorean Theorem.
I've only figured out about a dozen proofs and this is still one of my favorite hobbies as I love visual proofs so much. I even started an article series on catonmat called Visual Math Friday where I was explaining visual proofs but I didn't get too far as I realized I was just duplicating these books and wasn't creating much value.
Author: Roger B. Nelsen.
See you next time!
Let me know in the comments what your favorite books are and what you like about them. If you like this series, you can follow my posts you can subscribe to my blog and/or follow me on twitter and/or do nothing.
Yesterday I was interviewed on Coder Intros. This is a copy of the interview. Coder Intros showcases coders as awesome yet real and flawed human beings, so that others can become interested and invested in coding.
a wild pkrumins in its natural habitat.
What is your coding specialty?
I have many, and Linux system programming is one of them.
Who is your current employer?
I'm my own employer. I'm the CEO of my own company, Browserling, a cross-browser testing company.
What is your earliest coding memory?
Writing tiny applications in Visual Basic when I was like 10 years old. They were very simple, like adding two numbers together or converting text to ascii.
Did you go to school for computer science?
No. I didn't go to college for computer science. College is the stupidest place you can go to for any kind of education. Completely outdated concept in the modern world.
What was your process like of learning to code?
I started using computers when I was 6 years old. I would go to my mom's work and use the computers there. I loved everything about them. I got hooked and I just kept learning more and more about them.
What percentage of you is motivated by money?
100% directly or indirectly. I've too many projects going on and all of them need ever increasing funding. Also I'm not stopping until my personal wealth is in 10 digits.
At what age did you realize that you could make money from coding?
At the age of 12 I was creating websites for people. I charged like $10 an hour or maybe $10 per website.
If you had unlimited time, resources and knowledge what would you create?
I would have a team of scientists study time on a quantum scale. I would want to figure out answers to the questions: what is time? can we stop it? can we reverse it?
Then I would have that same team see if we can extract one bit of information from the future. I read an article about some crazy stuff where at a quantum scale that is possible. So why not study it? It would be the most powerful discovery. A single bit from the future is all you need.
I would also want to team up with Musk and help people, including myself, go to Mars and to other planets. Oh and next I would want to study reverse aging and longevity. I would give Aubrey de Grey billions of dollars to build a team that would stop aging and reverse it.
Oh and also creating a superhuman race. And more, like creating super dense pills filled with nutrients that you swallow and that dissolves throughout the day slowly so you don't have to waste time eating.
If you couldn't live in the US, what country would you live in?
I don't know. I don't like to go anywhere.
What state would you want to live in?
Only California so I could network and hang out with my Hackers & Founders friends. They have a huge network.
How did you get started with Hackers & Founders?
I went to a Hackers & Founders event where I ran into Jonathan Nelson, the founder. It just so happened that he had been reading my blog and the rest is history.
Do you still write on your blog? Why did you start it?
Yes, I still work on my blog. I started it because I had so much knowledge and I wanted to share it with the world.
What is your natural sleep cycle?
I stay up for as long as I want and I sleep for as long as I want. I don't operate on Earth's schedule - I operate on my own 26 or 28 hour cycle. I like to work late at night and around the clock.
What languages do you use?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into coding?
Start with interactive tutorials like the ones from Code Academy. Don't read books, do the interactive tutorials. Reading a book from cover to cover will not make you a programmer. You'll be a smartass theoretician and won't be able to write a single line of code. If you do the interactive stuff you will really learn how to apply what you just learned. Once you've 5 years of coding behind your belt read a book or two to learn some theory but not too much. Theory is hacker's worst enemy.
Do you think everyone has the ability to learn to code?
Yes, but to get really good you have to start at a really young age. The skills you learn at an early age become second nature. At a later age it's much harder. I mean you can learn to code but you'll never have the same mental agility nor general computer aptitude if you learn at age 20 or 30 compared to someone who started at 10.
If you could describe yourself in three words what would they be?
Hard working, motivated, and curious.
What is your primary value?
My integrity is my primary value. I deliver what I say I will deliver. If I make a promise to you, I will fulfill that promise.
Are you happy?
Has your hair always been as fantastic as it is currently?
Want to be interviewed?
If you want to be interviewed or know any great software developers, fill this form to get them interviewed.
See you next time!