New Monthly Thread: Bragging

post by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-11T17:50:54.944Z · score: 30 (37 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 147 comments

In an attempt to encourage more people to actually do awesome things (a la instrumental rationality), I am proposing a new monthly thread (can be changed to bi-weekly, should that be demanded). Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining the most awesome thing you've done this month. You may be as blatantly proud of you self as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself the coolest freaking person ever because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.

Remember, however, that this isn't any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread.This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesomest thing they've done all month. not will do. not are working on. have already done. This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.

So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?

147 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by SolveIt · 2013-08-12T02:52:23.009Z · score: 51 (51 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a high school senior. I co-authored a paper with John Conway. It's on pretty unimportant stuff, and hardly serious mathematics, but it's still interesting. And I get an Erdos number of 2!

comment by SolveIt · 2013-08-12T05:59:32.186Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah just three weeks ago. The proofs are all complete and the guy in charge of writing it up should almost be finished. It'll probably take some time to get published though. I met Conway at a maths summer camp in Germany, and he told us students about the Prague clock problem. A friend, a grad student volunteering there, and I worked on the problem for a few days and pretty much solved it, and Conway said we should write a paper together. I was incredibly lucky, of course. Recreational mathematics isn't how one expects to get an Erdos number. It was a wonderful experience, and John Conway is an amazing man. I've never seen anyone that could delight so much in almost trivial mathematics. Kinda explains how he became great.

comment by Dan_Moore · 2013-08-12T13:43:53.129Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It must be this you are referring to. Congratulations!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-12T20:13:26.568Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Congratulations! Will it be published behind a paywall? Any chance that we will get to read it?

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T03:07:31.749Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Did you really co-author that paper just this last month?

Also, an Erdos number of 2? that's... that's just not fair, and I am incredibly jealous.

comment by Dan_Moore · 2013-08-12T13:45:47.362Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As this is the first bragging thread, even if this happened over a month ago, it should be admissible. (Heck, even if it weren't the first bragging thread.)

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T15:17:45.625Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Point conceded. but no doubling up by mentioning this in future bragging threads.

comment by pragmatist · 2013-08-12T05:47:21.018Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's amazing! Could you tell us some more about how this came about?

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-08-11T19:47:51.467Z · score: 35 (37 votes) · LW · GW

I turned down a job offer. Because it didn't pay enough. When my current job will definitely end in December.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T01:31:20.663Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

+1 for doing a genuinely uncomfortable thing. Nice job.

comment by atorm · 2013-08-12T11:51:35.194Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Did you ask for more money?

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-08-12T16:26:57.454Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I did. They made it clear that more money was not on the table.

comment by philh · 2013-08-11T23:17:56.342Z · score: 31 (31 votes) · LW · GW

Probably not the most awesome, but something I have wanted to brag about: at swing dance classes, I've been making an effort to remember people's names. One girl in particular, I forgot her name after getting it twice, but I remembered that it was "eye-something-something". I also remembered that she was Turkish. So I googled for a list of Turkish given names, and per wikipedia, decided she was probably called Aybüke.

I didn't see her for a few weeks, but next time I did, I said "Aybüke, right?", and her reaction was a delightful combination of surprise, pleasedness, and embarassment that she'd forgotten mine.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-08-12T04:15:19.254Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Probably not the most awesome, but something I have wanted to brag about

I like this. I totally think that it makes sense with the intention of this thread to think of the thing you're most proud of.

Similarly, at a CFAR workshop, we were debriefing from CoZE (Comfort Zone Expansion), and the thing I shared that put me most out of my comfort zone wasn't actually the most awesome thing I did.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T02:11:07.092Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not saving the world awesome, but still good, because names are hard.

comment by chaosmage · 2013-08-14T07:26:59.041Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

I formally proposed to the love of my life, and she said yes.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-16T12:19:58.498Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Congratulations!

comment by Prismattic · 2013-08-12T00:40:01.209Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

I ran a mile in 6:40 (I'm 5'10" and 202lb, so this is actually quite a bit more impressive than it sounds).

comment by Vive-ut-Vivas · 2013-08-12T15:40:06.963Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
comment by Prismattic · 2013-08-12T22:22:16.119Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

[I should note here that there's a tradeoff between weightlifting and running. I hurt my back and had to stop doing squats and deadlifts for six weeks, which left my legs a lot less tired for running. Otherwise this record would not have happened.]

I typically run between 2 and 3.5 miles, running a mile at a time as fast as possible, gradually slowing down for a minute and stopping for a minute to get water, then doing the next mile. I run 5 times a week, along with weightlifting and judo. I prefer to run inside, with the treadmill at a slight incline to compensate for it being easier; I have trouble regulating my pace outdoors.

comment by Brillyant · 2013-08-19T21:52:57.232Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nice job on your 6:40 mile!

I'm trying to run a 10:00 1.5 mile by Nov 1. I'm concurrently working to increase my strength and have some bench press goals I'm targeting.

As you mentioned, I've also found running and weight training to be a bit of a tradeoff. I fear the training requirements for each may become detrimental to the other in pursuit of my goals.

Any advice or thoughts on how to get faster and stronger?

(I'm new to running, but have been lifting weights for several years.)

comment by Prismattic · 2013-08-25T22:26:47.192Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I have special expertise that you wouldn't get from a book. The only thing I can say is that the extra half mile you do at the end of your workout, after you think you've given it everything you had, probably provides a disproportionate amount of benefit. Evolutionary just-so story: the body doesn't like to waste resources, but if you push it past its apparent limits, it figures the situation is desperate and maybe you need to be a bit fitter to survive.

comment by AngryParsley · 2013-08-12T11:56:02.905Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

My co-founder and I launched Floobits, a tool for remote pair programming. We'd been soft-launched and were slowly growing through word of mouth, but we hadn't tried to get publicity or told the world that we're a Y Combinator startup.

We got coverage on:

...and a couple other places I've forgotten about.

I also wrote an insubstantial post about getting into YC. It doesn't contain any special hints, just a summary of the journey so far.

Demo day is next week, so maybe I should have waited to post in this thread. :)

comment by Technoguyrob · 2013-08-12T15:06:53.104Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have an Amazon wish list? You are awesome.

comment by AngryParsley · 2013-08-13T18:23:37.042Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I do not. Your praise is more than enough.

Also, I have pretty much everything I want that can be ordered off Amazon.

comment by gothgirl420666 · 2013-08-11T18:50:46.571Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Since I began working out a month and a half or so ago, I've managed to successfully to go the gym every other day, the exceptions being when I hung out with friends and either got too high to go or ended up spending the night at someone's house. The important thing being that at no point did I not go simply because of lack of willpower.

I also finally learned how to lucid dream in the last month and I've had seven or so (short) lucid dreams.

I like this thread idea. I think that bragging about charitable donations should be especially encouraged.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T01:36:23.732Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Personal health habits, I like it.

I love my early morning lucid dreaming myself. I still need to work out the kinks in really controlling them, but even so, they're pretty enjoyable.

As for charity, it should ABSOLUTELY be encouraged. It's a less visceral awesome, of course, but I think we can all shut up and multiply if need be.

comment by iamesco · 2013-08-11T20:19:48.063Z · score: -3 (17 votes) · LW · GW

either got too high to go...

Sounds like a lack of willpower to me.

comment by answer · 2013-08-12T02:41:38.248Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I solved the last 8 digits of 3^^^3 (they're ...64,195,387). Take that ultrafinitists!

comment by Kindly · 2013-08-12T11:47:43.599Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

...62535796399618993967905496638003222348723967018485186439059104575627262464195387.

Boo-yah.

Edit: obviously this was not done by hand. I used Mathematica. Code:

TowerMod[base_, m_] := If[m == 1, 0, PowerMod[base, TowerMod[base, EulerPhi[m]], m]];

TowerMod[3, 10^80]

Edit: this was all done to make up for my distress at only having an Erdos number of 3.

comment by answer · 2013-08-12T18:31:49.051Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Impressive, I didn't think it could be automatized (and even if it could, that it could go so many digits before hitting a computational threshold for large exponentials). My only regret is that I have but 1 upvote to give.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-08-12T15:21:01.976Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is not clear to me why the above code works. In particular, the 10^80 part.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-12T16:03:31.180Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A number mod 10^n yields the last n digits of the number.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-08-12T16:13:54.407Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Aaah. it was just saying how much to output. Phew. I was trying to figure out what 10^80 could have to do with 3^^^3 and failing, hard. So, it's a great relief that the answer is, 'nothing'.

comment by Kindly · 2013-08-12T16:37:59.231Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Technically, I have not used the fact that the number in question is 3^^^3 -- I am treating it as 3^^X, where X is very large. So for huge numbers of digits, this will not give the correct answer, but I don't think it's practical to compute that many digits, in any case.

Should I explain how everything else works?

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-08-12T18:08:54.142Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nah, I just figured that the named functions were something relevant, and I'm satisfied with that level of knowledge at this point.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T02:46:44.764Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I.. just.. WHAT? The last digits are the easiest, of course, BUT STILL. What was your methodology? (because I can't be bothered to think of how to do it myself)

comment by answer · 2013-08-12T02:59:09.947Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I started with some iterated powers of 3 and tried to find patterns. For instance, 3 to an odd (natural number) power is always 3 mod 4, and 3 to the power of (a natural number that's 3 mod 4) always has a 7 in the one's place.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-08-12T04:39:29.730Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I solved the last 8 digits of 3^^^3 (they're ...64,195,387). Take that ultrafinitists!

That's awesome. Why did you do this? (ie. Did you get to publish it someplace...)

comment by answer · 2013-08-12T04:48:33.172Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Partially just to prove it is a real number with real properties, but mostly because I wanted a challenge and wasn't getting it from my current math classes (I'm currently in college, majoring in math). As much as I'd like to say it was to outdo the AI at math (since calculators can't do anything with the number 3^^^3, even take its mod 2), I had to use a calculator for all but the last 3 digits.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-08-12T05:00:53.392Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had to use a calculator for all but the last 3 digits.

You mean you did it manually? You didn't write code to do the grunt work?

comment by answer · 2013-08-12T05:19:41.784Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In the interest of challenging my mental abilities, I used as few resources as possible (and I suck at writing code). It took fewer than 3^^^3 steps, thankfully.

comment by AlexMennen · 2013-08-12T21:01:55.870Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

and I suck at writing code

In that case, you might find writing a program to solve it for you an even better challenge of your mental abilities.

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2013-08-12T07:00:24.490Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Helped my wife as she delivered our child (well, a maternity nurse also participated).

(relevant link)

comment by gwern · 2013-09-01T23:28:11.096Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I have roughly doubled my monthly income. I thank efm, SDr, Ralith, and Burninate for pushing me to increase my price beyond what I would have cowardly accepted.

comment by EvelynM · 2013-09-01T23:36:14.050Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're welcome, gwern.

A worthy adversary helps one to up their game.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-08-12T18:17:22.455Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I taught classes about probability and cognitive biases at the Summer Program for Applied Rationality and Cognition to some of the smartest mathematically talented high school students in the US. The classes I taught together with the rest of the curriculum will hopefully help them be some combination of more rational, more effective, and more reflective.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-08-13T18:59:17.957Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How did they seem to like your classes?

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-08-14T22:57:01.769Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They seemed to like them okay. I'll know more once we solicit feedback at the end of the program.

comment by fluchess · 2013-08-11T22:36:10.972Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I'm an undergraduate student, and I recently completed a holiday research project in computational neuroscience. During the project I found some interesting properties about connection properties in matrices which may not be a currently known.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T01:28:57.248Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Original research? CONGRATU-FREAKIN-LATIONS!

Assuming, of course, that the whole things ends up being something cool.

comment by fluchess · 2013-08-12T02:13:34.505Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks Am in the middle of writing up generalised proof of what I have done.

Work I did was mainly concerned with calculating integrated information for simple neuronal systems.

If I get some time, I could write up my result if people are interested

comment by Technoguyrob · 2013-08-12T15:04:29.886Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am interested. What software did you use? I am trying to learn NEURON but it feels like Fortran and I have trouble navigating around the cobwebs.

comment by fluchess · 2013-08-12T22:23:42.062Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I used Matlab for most of my programming. From what I have read (and seen), Matlab is the most used software for Computational Neuroscience. Almost all of the researchers who used any programming used Matlab, which a few people using C.

comment by Ben_LandauTaylor · 2013-08-13T15:25:01.770Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I've been running a hobby project that's prestigious within my subsubculture, and it became clear that one of the four other people I'd recruited was a bad fit for the job. I convinced him to leave without wounding anyone's feelings, and we're all still on great terms. I'm assigning myself points for (text-based) social skills and for picking awesome friends.

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-08-12T05:49:14.672Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I implemented the Secret Weapon--a productivity system that combines Evernote and GTD--and have been making use of it quite effectively. I also have kept up on my recently started gratitude journal.

In other news, Evernote is simply awesome.

comment by Gimpness · 2013-08-12T08:20:46.020Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You have also lead to me implementing Secret Weapon by mentioning it here.

EDIT:Having now done this for 6 months I can attest to sticking to it and it very much being helpful for both checking on what I have done that day and planning for future days. Will keep doing it

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-08-12T17:27:55.044Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yay! I don't want to wax too positive about it this early on, but I really do feel like it will continue to work wonders for me, especially during the school year.

comment by Dorikka · 2013-08-13T04:21:22.405Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How hard have you pushed this system? As in, how intense was the work required of you during the period in which you tested it?

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-08-13T05:19:24.174Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So far, not too intense, which is why I'm a little hesitant to fully recommend it. I'll have better information once the school year starts.

I like it right now not so much because it helps me be that much more productive, but primarily because it is a very natural extension to the way I already use Evernote. Evernote becomes better the more you do with it and the more you put into it, so a productivity/to-do system that allows me to make use of Evernote's features (tagging, searching, etc.) is great.

comment by Dorikka · 2013-08-13T14:40:27.632Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, okay. Please let me know how this went once it's been pushed a good bit.

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-10-07T06:21:24.445Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is fairly late, but better late than never.

I stopped using this system several weeks ago. It proved to be more effort than it was worth, at least in the context of frequent college assignments and meetings. Since very few of the things that I needed to get done were "assigned" through email, the very cool ability to forward emails to one's Evernote address to automatically convert them to notes did not see much use.

I've since transitioned to a very simple (physical) calendar and planner system, combined with flagging emails which need further attention.

comment by gjm · 2013-10-10T09:05:04.792Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for providing a useful experience report.

Are you still using Evernote for other things, and are you still finding it awesome?

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-10-11T01:26:48.825Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

Yes, definitely. I frequently use Evernote to save online references (one of my notebooks is actually named "(Intellectual) References" and has stuff like academic articles that I later want to refer to) because the ability to tag, comment, and later search these web clips makes bookmarks seem completely useless. I also use Evernote for journaling purposes and as a way to improve exam studying.

Before an exam, I go through my handwritten notes and other class materials and compile a summary in Evernote. This ensures that I have a record of the most important things from my classes (some of which I would otherwise forget), as well as makes studying for a cumulative test easy.

Sorry for the long answer, but yes, I still find Evernote awesome.

comment by gjm · 2013-10-11T12:57:55.358Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for the long answer

(That was two paragraphs. I weep for the future of humanity :-).) Thanks!

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-08-13T22:14:31.527Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Will do!

comment by pinyaka · 2013-08-15T02:26:01.712Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I skimmed through the methodology there but didn't see anything about how to handle repeating tasks. For instance, if you're trying to train yourself to floss, having a task that automatically comes up every day that you can "check off" can be very helpful. Is there something like that in this GTD implementation?

I have been using a modified GTD system for a few years using ToodleDo (and Remember the Milk before that), and definitely think it's a great system. For me, there was a significant reduction in stress as I came to rely on my task list and calendar to let me know what's what. I still haven't found a really good way to track task dependencies without having to retag every task in a tree (or review the tree after completing each task to change something from "waiting" to "next action").

Keep us posted on how this works out for you.

comment by Suryc11 · 2013-08-15T02:54:18.350Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, I think the "!Daily" sub-tag under the ".When" tag is meant for things like that, i.e., things you're trying to do every day.

Two problems with that, though:

What about repeating tasks that aren't daily? One solution might be to just create another appropriate sub-tag, say, "7-Weekly".

Another problem is that this implementation doesn't really have tasks "automatically come up." You still have to put in the motivation to look through your to-dos; the system just makes it easier by ordering them by several filters, most critically by when you want them done (i.e., the ".When" context tag).

And will do!

comment by palladias · 2013-08-12T19:42:11.807Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I started writing fiction (well, fanfic) again, including a horror sequence that quite upset my beta reader. I used to assume, when I was younger, that I could only write non-fiction, because I wasn't the kind of person who could flesh out a character or engage a reader about people instead of just ideas.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2013-08-12T18:50:58.910Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I reached 1,000 judged predictions on PredictionBook, my business hired three new employees, and I finally achieved a 30 day streak on Duolingo. So there!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-13T11:32:23.484Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I reached 1,000 judged predictions on PredictionBook,

And with excellent calibration, too!

comment by kalium · 2013-08-12T17:56:11.854Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

After using the same terrible, creaky, heavy bicycle for two years because it was free, I finally bought a decent bike. The search process was much less painful than I'd been expecting, and I can go up hills now without having to get off and walk.

I've also started a habit of going for a walk every morning, no exceptions, which seems to be improving my happiness already.

comment by new_throwaway · 2013-08-12T14:58:33.808Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a futures trader. The week before last was my best week at my current company. $150K baby!

comment by shminux · 2013-08-12T20:16:36.571Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Grats! You know, the MIRI's 2013 Summer Matching Challenge is still on, if you need tax deductions :)

comment by Transfuturist · 2013-08-13T15:54:03.539Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Please elaborate. Algorithmic trading?

comment by new_throwaway · 2013-08-13T16:59:19.228Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. I would call it automated futures market making.

comment by gjm · 2013-08-13T18:43:02.697Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I guess the $150k is what you gained for the company. What is the relationship (if any) between this figure (once aggregated over a year, or whatever) and how much they pay you?

comment by new_throwaway · 2013-08-14T12:18:55.146Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I get a percentage. I don't want to disclose specific details of my compensation, even anonymously, but in my industry I have seen anywhere between 25% and 65%. Higher than 65% usually requires putting in your own capital and less than 25% is usually a different situation. There are also a lot of places that do discretionary bonuses rather than fixed percentages, and that can work great, but for me personally it creates a lot of anxiety to not be able to calculate exactly what I'm making.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-11T17:53:37.082Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

META COMMENT THREAD: KEEP ALL META DISCUSSION HERE

Anything you do or don't like about this thread, post here. Feedback fosters improvement.

comment by Omid · 2013-08-14T16:07:37.763Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I just realized that after reading all of these things that I was happy for each person's achievement, and not the slightest bit jealous. I'm not sure why this is, but it's a good thing.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-08-18T15:39:50.555Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure why this is, but it's a good thing.

It is a good thing to belong to a community where similar sentiments can be expected. Now it's like peer pressure on me (and anyone else here) to become more awesome. And we all know how people can change because of the peer pressure.

(Somewhere else, there would be a peer pressure to start smoking or taking drugs, or just to not change.)

comment by derefr · 2013-10-22T02:35:29.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, even knowing that in general I'm not a very jealous person, I was surprised at my own reaction to this thread: I upvoted a far greater proportion of the comments here than I usually do. I guess I'm more compersive than I thought!

comment by luminosity · 2013-08-12T09:30:44.662Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Should it be the coolest thing you've done this month, or cool things you've done this month?

For example, the last two months have been in many ways the most productive of my life, but it's not from any one big thing (well, there are a few big things) so much as a combination of different things. I could put them all in the same post, but then that reduces the motivation this thread delivers.

Great thread idea, by the way.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T15:14:27.851Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

hm.. A'd like "coolest thing", but as an encouraging factor, any awesome things, cumulative or otherwise, should be fine.

comment by Dan_Moore · 2013-08-15T13:18:28.777Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like that this thread provides an incentive to finish a project so that you can brag about it.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-08-12T04:24:31.939Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is generally a good policy not to talk about plans unless you're specifically looking for feedback/help/advice with them. It's hard, but I've been trying to avoid saying "I've been thinking about doing XYZ". There've been a few instances I can think of where this has prompted me to:

  • take action when I probably otherwise would have waited
  • framed my desire to talk about it as "do you have any ideas?"
comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T01:44:43.472Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've had an idea that should encourage more awesome: REWARDS. Now, I don't currently have much expendable income (Though I expect that to change soon, while also expecting that expectation to be false.), but I suspect $50 given to the top commenter (after a several days wait) could make for some nice incentives. Thoughts on that?

Communal donations to the reward pool could ease my personal burden, and increase the scope of the prize as the scope of participation also increases.

note: I'm not doling out rewards for this thread, but I may implement something in future threads.

edit: I'm offering you money and getting negative feedback because of it... cool. :D

comment by Ben_LandauTaylor · 2013-08-12T04:17:04.533Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I expect cash rewards would mostly encourage lying.

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T15:10:16.079Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

top comment gets money donated to charity of their choice, unless proven (to MY satisfaction) that they really actually did what they say they did.

Of course, I'm reconsidering the reward plan anyway, as I now consider the overjustification effect to be potential problem. (Thanks to this comment)

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2013-08-12T05:49:50.732Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Should we worry about the overjustification effect with this? Or creating incentives for social and technical hacking when the site doesn't seem to have a great deal of moderator resources for counteracting either?

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T15:13:59.837Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You're right. I've now got new information. Excuse me while I go try and discard my idea, and rethink the potential benefits of rewards again.

comment by Nornagest · 2013-08-14T22:48:41.036Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds like a fantastic way to expose perverse incentives in the karma system, but there are probably cheaper ways of doing so.

comment by khafra · 2013-08-12T13:53:43.619Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think bragging is its own reward, and that giving cash would cancel out the intrinsic reward.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-12T05:05:59.230Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Top commenter by karma or some other way?

comment by wedrifid · 2013-08-12T06:54:51.697Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Top commenter by karma or some other way?

Opinion of the person giving the money seems reasonable.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-08-19T23:49:37.454Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Two entries for me. 1) Got a new job that's actually in my field. (Finally, after five years of looking) 2) Found a girl who's as big of a nerd as I am, and started dating her. Things are going really well so far, easily better than any past relationship.

comment by Baughn · 2013-08-17T12:07:18.251Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I built an aquarium that is, by observation, a sufficiently stable ecosystem that it can go without maintenance for a month with no apparent degradation.

Also I convinced a fire eel to curl up in my hand while waiting for earthworms.

comment by luminosity · 2013-08-12T09:39:35.754Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Many individual changes, several of them big and important in their own right (see my Meta thread comment ), but the big one is just keeping track of things I want to do, portioning out ambitious goals to hit for particular days, managing to hit all or most of these, reviewing why I couldn't hit them all when I didn't and doing a weekly review of which of the bigger goals I should attempt to tackle over the week ahead.

For example, I've hit the income threshold where it's cheaper for me to have private health insurance than not, so that was put on my list of things to do after finishing moving to Sydney, pulled off once I was set up, turned into goals over a few days of finding out more information in general, researching specific plans, picking one, and signing up for it. Each of these was just one bullet point of several on my list to accomplish for that day.

I've gone from being somewhat bored at home, casting around for videogames that inspired me to actually play them, about 3 months ago, to being occupied up until I go to bed every night of the week working on longer term projects for myself.

comment by J_Taylor · 2013-08-23T22:38:33.560Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I donated to the Against Malaria Foundation, which is GiveWell's top charity.

Here is a link for those who wish to do likewise:

http://www.againstmalaria.com/

comment by iamesco · 2013-08-11T18:48:28.637Z · score: 7 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I learnt that Cologne and Koln are the same city; beat that.

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2013-08-12T07:03:22.402Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

My go-to example in that area is when I learned, at the young impressionable age of 30, that raisins are really dried grapes and not separate other kind of fruit.

comment by palladias · 2013-08-13T18:50:23.591Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Mitochondria are real was pretty shocking in 9th grade bio. (I'd read A Wind in the Door)

comment by Alicorn · 2013-08-13T19:32:57.265Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I was really confused when mitochondria were real but farandolae were not.

comment by komponisto · 2013-08-12T08:37:40.264Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Also, Munich and München (which has always bothered me, because "Munich" looks German enough already).

comment by summerstay · 2013-08-21T13:45:26.197Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I turned in my PhD dissertation. Here's the title and first paragraph of the abstract:

PRODUCTIVE VISION: METHODS FOR AUTOMATED IMAGE COMPREHENSION

Image comprehension is the ability to summarize, translate, and answer basic questions about images. Using original techniques for scene object parsing, material labeling, and activity recognition, a system can gather information about the objects and actions in a scene. When this information is integrated into a deep knowledge base capable of inference, the system becomes capable of performing tasks that, when performed by students, are considered by educators to demonstrate comprehension.

(Basically it is computer vision combined with Cyc.)

comment by somervta · 2013-08-11T19:46:03.014Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I am beeminding 'meta' improvements - things which I can implement that will increase my ability to do other things. (for example - using beeminder would be one, although not one of the ones I have been counting. Rationality improvements would count, although depending on how broadly you interpret it, there are things which are not explicit rationality improvements, like getting a working GTD system). The beeminder is currently committing me to a new idea or formal implementation of an idea every two days.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-08-12T04:18:58.982Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Can you give a few examples of new ideas and formal implementations? I'm just curious what the typical size of the every-other-day item is.

comment by somervta · 2013-08-12T12:10:37.117Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

First: +1 for asking for examples!

The 'ideas' can range from fairly vague;

  • 'find 'some way to stop using games on phone as a distraction'

to more specific;

  • 'nail down a GTD system, focusing on ease of modification in response to strategics reviews',

  • 'integrate all my uses of to-do and time-planning software into a single tool/piece of software".

(other examples:

  • 'find some way to store meta ideas and increase them',

  • 'Find a reliable [I've had problems with blockers being too easy to circumvent, I don't want to screw around with deeper modifications to OS etc and I'm often on university computers anyway] way to stop myself using facebook at certain times/days')

The point there is just to keep thinking about "what can be done to improve" and to encourage writing down 'clever ideas' that have no obvious next-action.

'Formal Implementations' are more like "this is exactly what I'm going to do/try":

  • 'use backup-to-computer app and software to store savedata, then uninstall games' [this is the only one so far where I fulfilled the idea but not the F.I - I couldn't get backup apps to work, and I ended up uninstalling without concern for savegame data],

  • 'Use an ical port to get all my uni timetable data into Gcal and use Google's text message reminders to duplicate the fact that I'd moderately trained myself to pay attention to that style of reminder. Copy important lists into Gcal, experiment with Gcal's todos, and set aside time to copy important data from other services.'

    (the FI versions of other examples:

  • "Use separate Trello lists to represent levels of precision and integrate with beeminder",

  • "Get a friend to create half of my facebook password [half to prevent them having access], give them instructions on when I can use it, [starting with when I ask and ramping up if that doesn't work] and turn on email notifications of anything I need to keep track of").

Also, implementations always have a next-action associated with them. (for example:

  • copying savedata - locate in filesystem, [didn't work: maybe backup apps?]

  • Look for beeminder integration that can work like notes.

  • (Fix problem with FB access if I ask a friend to help, figure out whether cutting facebook semi-permanently is worth it - use Goal Discernment [my alternative name for Goal Factoring. I already had a cognitive tool that I'd called 'Factoring', and I didn't want the work of switching my mental habits])

Sometimes the next actions lead to a modification of the implementation rather than a result, which is fine, and sometimes they lead to doing something that doesn't fully satisfy the implementation/idea, but I record those also (like for the facebook - I haven't actually done it yet because I'm not sure if it's too radical, but I quit all the facebook debate groups I frequented.)

The trello in question is here, although not all of the info is on there - next actions and problem specifications I still keep in my head (somehting to change? the NAs anyway).

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-08-12T18:43:18.145Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm curious what your pre-existing Factoring tool is.

comment by somervta · 2013-08-12T23:01:42.495Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's not really a tool - that's just what I used to call breaking up a task into subcomponents in a sort of 'next-action-chain'. You know - I've got an assignment due, but instead of worrying about the whole assignment, it turns into

read chapter 9 -> read this paper -> scratch out an outline -> fill in arguments file ->decide which arguments I'm going to focus on...

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-12T23:34:14.845Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Get a friend to create half of my facebook password

Gurer'f gur “sbetbg lbhe cnffjbeq” yvax, naq hasbeghangryl jvgu Snprobbx lbh pna'g punatr lbhe r-znvy gb n snxr bar orpnhfr vg'q nfx lbh sbe pbasvezngvba gurer. (Ohg n qvfcbfnoyr rznvy nqqerff zvtug fbyir gung.)

(These days I just use a ridiculously long password, and log out of Facebook anywhere except on my laptop, where I have LeechBlock installed.)

comment by westward · 2013-08-14T20:34:41.867Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I use a randomly generated password from LastPass. I have no idea what it is, so I can only access it from my laptop (with the Firefox LastPass Add-on). That combined with LeechBlock is pretty effective.

I could go to the LastPass site on another machine, I suppose. But I do store other, more important passwords on LastPass and don't want to expose those. And it takes only nominal inconvenience to prevent me from jumping into FB.

comment by somervta · 2013-08-12T23:48:36.361Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

can I ask why this is rot13'd? I don't want to read it and find out that it breaks the placebo efffect or something, which was my first thought of why it might be.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-13T09:50:22.229Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It describes a way to escape a precommitment, which certain people in certain situations might be better off not knowing.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-08-13T09:58:13.679Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It describes a way to escape a precommitment, which certain people in certain situations might be better off not knowing.

I rather suspect that most people have encountered 'forgot my password' links before.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-13T10:11:21.214Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but it might not have occurred to them to use them in that situation.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2013-08-12T18:42:40.603Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

'Find a reliable [I've had problems with blockers being too easy to circumvent, I don't want to screw around with deeper modifications to OS etc and I'm often on university computers anyway] way to stop myself using facebook at certain times/days')

If your problem can actually be isolated to facebook, it might be possible to write an app that enacts some sort of negative consequence based on how much time you spend on facebook, regardless of where you spend it.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-08-15T06:52:38.775Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I wrote a 2+1D special relativity simulator. It takes a Flatland spacetime volume in a rest frame and shifts it into a moving frame.

It's simple, but it's the first self-driven project I've ever completed, and it's also in a sense the first bit of "real physics" I've done.

(Next month: porting it to C from Java, so that I can actually run the thing without crashing my computer.)

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2013-08-18T15:45:58.532Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Something like this?

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-08-18T20:11:43.726Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

... yes. Exactly like that.

Oh well. It's good physics/programming practice, and I have a generalized way to put sprites into the sim so customizability is nice.

Oh, and thanks for showing me that - grumpiness about nothing-new-ness aside, that's actually a really awesome game.

comment by Baughn · 2013-08-20T17:14:55.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Next month: porting it to C from Java, so that I can actually run the thing without crashing my computer.

This should never happen; C should not be able to crash your computer, any more than Java. Ignoring considerations such as Java being the devil's kimchi...

Do you want to talk about it?

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-08-20T20:52:59.193Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

From Java, to C, not the other way around. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm basically brute-forcing this in favor of accuracy: I'm populating a 1000x1000x2000 volume with world-paths and doing Lorentz transforms on the lot.

I'm pretty sure researchers deal with millions of data points all the time, so I don't think this is unreasonable, but then I'm also new to serious programming as I noted above, so who knows.

comment by Baughn · 2013-08-21T00:32:48.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1000x1000x2000 is.. hm two gigabytes at one byte per point, so probably at least eight, and possibly more depending on Java types and what exactly you're storing.

You probably want some form of sparse array, or something more suited to the problem at hand.

It shouldn't be possible to crash your computer by running out of memory (it'll just kill the program instead), but it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference when swap gets involved.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-08-21T01:32:32.889Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I'm using a sparse array all right - I "only" have to deal with, oh, 10,000,000 actual voxels. And to be fair, I was being colloquial, not accurate (in retrospect that was foolish on a site so closely linked to AI research) - JVM just threw an OutOfMemoryException and exited gracefully.

comment by gattsuru · 2013-08-21T02:14:53.891Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It'll vary depending on JVM and Java version and Operating System, but a modern 32-bit Windows environment will default to a maximum heap size of 1/4th of total available memory or 256 MB, and even a 64-bit Windows or Linux server-mode Java environment usually defaults to only one or two GB. With 'only' 10 million voxels, those defaults only give you 200 bytes per voxel in the best-case scenario (and 25.6 bytes per voxel in a plausible scenario), which can be deceptively easy to overfill.

You can change that with the -Xmx option when initiating the JVM in order to use more available RAM, which may at least buy you additional time. Software profilers will also let you get a better idea of how much space you're allocating, as well.

If you want the system to be growable beyond the current point, you probably need a better way to compartmentalize the design and work on smaller subsets individually, though.

comment by gattsuru · 2013-08-20T21:15:57.872Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Barring poorly configured operating systems or pointer arithmetic, you shouldn't be /able/ to run into situations where your computer (rather than the program) crashes -- modern OS and language design focuses on preventing this errors, because they're often tied to attacks on the operating system. That's actually more true with Java and similar languages like C#, where direct memory access is hard, than in C.

That said, you are talking a 2-billion-deep set. The program itself is likely to run out of available memory space (or fail a m_alloc silently, causing something later to go terribly wrong) in a 32-bit Windows mode. Default java virtual machine settings also usually trend to significantly less memory than even that. You may want to test it in a smaller volume first.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-08-21T01:33:56.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It works fine in a smaller volume (and see cousin, I'm using a sparse array already so I only have to deal with about 10 million voxels in the final project.) I'm switching to Java because I'm pretty sure my computer can handle the data, so long as I'm not doing anything else in the meantime.

comment by Prismattic · 2013-08-25T22:39:50.391Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I finished the Super Spartan Virginia race. Veterans of other similar contests said this was the most insanely grueling course they'd ever seen. There was very little running involved, because the only flat areas were near the obstacle challenges. Everything else was either long hikes up ~30 degree slopes or scaling mud-slicked rocks/woods, alternating with trying not die by impalement descending similar terrain or 45-degree slopes. Sometimes carrying logs around with you, etc. All of my limbs are currently covered in lacerations and contusions. (I'm not giving my precise finishing time for anonymity reasons, but I was in the middle of the pack.)

This was not quite the most psychologically difficult thing I've ever done, but it was by far the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. I got through this by having the self-that-experiences maintain the mantra that the self-that-remembers was going to think this was awesome the next day (a correct prediction).

But if you want to hear about true inspiration and motivation -- let me take a moment to salute the Wounded Warrior team, whose intact members completed this race in gas masks while taking turns carrying their triple-amputee comrade on their back.

(Sorry for bragging twice in one month, but this puts my previous accomplishment to shame.)

comment by Thomas · 2013-08-12T06:51:24.682Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've calculated that the atoms in the center of the Sun are not fast enough to escape the Sun's gravity even from its surface, let alone from its center.

And published it in my blog.

Not that it is a discovery of any kind, just another eyeopener how bad is our intuition.

Would you say, that 15 million K hot proton is too slow to escape the Sun's gravity?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-12T23:16:01.041Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Huh: Unless I've botched something:

  • kT for T = 15 MK is about 1.3 keV;

  • GmM/R for m = 938 MeV/c², M = 2e30 kg and R = 700,000 km is about 1.0 keV

(In retrospect, it's not surprising they would be the same order of magnitude, as per the virial theorem.)

(In the above I'm implicitly bragging about remembering the mass and radius of the Sun off the top of my head (everyone working in my field knows the proton mass anyway so that's not bragworthy), but I didn't learn them last month, so that doesn't count.)

comment by GeraldMonroe · 2013-08-14T18:35:57.999Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why is there a solar wind, then?

comment by Thomas · 2013-08-15T07:31:06.203Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Those particles of solar wind don't wander away from the Sun by the Brownian motion. They are ejected in Solar storms by electromagnetism. When many billion hydrogen atoms or rather ions conspire just in a right way, they can launch one of their own to the stars. The energy contribution of them many is needed, to accelerate just one.

Sometimes, a rock is ejected to the outer space by a volcano on Earth. That doesn't mean, the rocks here are that fast, 10 or more kilometers per second. But when a lot of rocks conspire in a just right way, one of them may be launched with such a speed from the Earth.

On the other hand, hydrogen molecules from Earth do wander away by the Brownian motion alone. 50 kilograms of them every second, according to Wikipedia, are fast enough to evaporate. And a few kilos of helium evaporates away from our planet every second as well.

Sun's gravity is too strong to permit a noticeable leak of this kind. Hydrogen atoms/ions on its surface are not that hot, that an observable fraction of them would gain the escape velocity. Paradoxically, on Earth they are!

That the Earth is loosing its mass I wrote something here.

I guess the Sun is gaining mass. Still.

comment by Locaha · 2013-08-12T16:08:18.117Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure there are no atoms in the center of the sun. it's all plasma.

So speed of what exactly did you calculate? Electrons, protons, helium nuclei? Can 15 million K hot electron escape?

comment by Thomas · 2013-08-12T16:38:17.139Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The mass difference between a hydrogen atom and a proton is very small. None of them has enough speed.

Heavier isotopes (deuterium and tritium (nuclei)) are even slower.

So are all helium isotopes, so are all other elements. Even slower than a single proton!

Okay?

comment by Locaha · 2013-08-12T16:47:35.448Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What about the electrons? :-)

comment by Thomas · 2013-08-12T17:57:18.259Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Electrons are faster than the escaping velocity is.

But they can't escape alone. Electromagnetism prevents that. Except for a negligible minority, maybe.

comment by Locaha · 2013-08-12T19:12:01.205Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

OK, but I thought that in this thought experiment you ignore electromagnetism. Otherwise you'd have to concede that a lot of particles do reach escape velocity, in a form of solar wind. :-)

comment by Thomas · 2013-08-13T05:54:46.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are right here on something important. Atoms couldn't be much, much smaller than they are. Otherwise not only the stars, but our planet had been evaporated, long ago.

comment by feanor1600 · 2013-08-27T22:26:32.673Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Got my dissertation proposal approved.

First paragraph: This dissertation continues the tradition of identifying the unintended consequences of the US health insurance system. Its main contribution is to estimate the size of the distortions caused by the employer-based system and regulations intended to fix it, while using methods that are more novel and appropriate than those of previous work.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-12T15:55:21.720Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Since everyone else is talking about research, I suppose I should mention that my first article was accepted to Inverse Problems and Imaging. The preprint has been on arXiv for a while.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-09-06T04:46:55.834Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Someone was having trouble finding good resources for learning Nemeth (the braille format specialized for mathematics); ancient books, programs only available on 3.5floppies, screen reader unfriendly unicode tables, etc. So I wrote a quick guide in roughly half an hour that, according to the person needing such a guide, is actually pretty useful. If I want to go into bragging mode, I seem to have single-handedly half-assed Nemeth into the twenty-first century. (This reenforces my idea that a blindness organization that's actually based out of the 21st century would be extremely useful, and I'd totally try to start one if I had the necessary skills to organize people better at some of the involved tasks than I am. Besides, making learning Nemeth more accessible to a modern audience isn't going to do much if braille technology is still horribly impractical.)

comment by Rukifellth · 2013-08-12T21:05:07.960Z · score: -10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I ate a bowl of nails for breakfast this morning!

comment by Joshua_Blaine · 2013-08-12T21:34:05.143Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

You've now been marked as having tier 4 human usefulness by Clippy the Paperclip Maximizing AI due to the (now increased) iron content of your otherwise useless & fleshy body. The nano-swarm is on its way now.

You may prepare for processing as you see fit.

comment by Rukifellth · 2013-08-12T21:46:32.164Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Think I'll wash that down with a hot steaming cup of gallium.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-08-12T23:13:08.545Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By nails, do you mean the little metal things for attaching pieces of hard material together? If so, could you give a little context - I would expect someone to die of doing that. Did you perhaps blend them?

comment by Rukifellth · 2013-08-13T02:13:34.815Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did you perhaps blend them?

No, I ate them totally raw of processing or additives.