What are you learning?

post by Viliam_Bur · 2014-09-15T10:50:28.009Z · score: 13 (16 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 128 comments

This is a thread to connect rationalists who are learning the same thing, so they can cooperate.

The "learning" doesn't necessarily mean "I am reading a textbook / learning an online course right now". It can be something you are interested in long-term, and still want to learn more.



Top-level comments contain only the topic to learn. (Plus one comment for "meta" debate.) Only one topic per comment, for easier search. Try to find a reasonable level of specificity: too narrow topic means less people; too wide topic means more people who actually are interested in something different than you are.

Use the second-level comments if you are learning that topic. (Or if you are going to learn it now, not merely in the far future.) Technically, "me too" is okay in this thread, but providing more info is probably more useful. For example: What are you focusing on? What learning materials you use? What is your goal?

Third- and deeper-level comments, that's debate as usual.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2014-09-15T13:16:51.528Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW


comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-15T15:02:14.457Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm working through a group theory / analysis syllabus to remedy my gormlessness with proofs. If anyone else is gormless with proofs, we could form a Remedial Proofs Club, where we all fruitlessly push variables round a page for three quarters of an hour before giving up. It'd be like a secret handshake.

I've also been sitting on the Daniel Solow and Polya books with minimal motivation to work through them. Remedial Proofs Book Club, maybe?

comment by LRS · 2014-09-17T01:59:39.033Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was about to begin trying to work through Elias Zakon's Basic Concepts of Mathematics, available free online at here. My motivations are similar to yours, and the idea of a Remedial Proofs Book Club is attractive to me. I chose this particular text only because it was free online and seemed to be written specifically for people at my level (got a 5 on the Calculus AB AP exam after high school, thought I was hot shit, took a rigorous Calculus course my first of year of college, couldn't do a single problem, cried real tears, traumatized). If you had a strong preference for different source material, I would switch to it if we could work through it together.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2014-09-27T03:54:44.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm down. I need to learn a lot of math, from probability theory, topology, algebra, set theory, whatever it takes to understand univalent foundations. So i'm in it for the long haul. I want to get to the point where I can pass a "prelim".

So, buy both books and proceed from there?

edit: I see you are studying analysis. I bought an elementary analysis text recently and really want to get deeper.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2014-09-15T17:35:25.124Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I want a deep understanding of elliptic curve cryptography. This led me to study algebraic geometry, which led me to study category theory. I think I'm ready to go back to algebraic geometry now.

comment by TheMajor · 2014-09-16T18:46:55.348Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am not sure how comfortable you are with mathematics (and algebra in particular), but my courses in algebraic geometry were among the hardest I have taken so far (and the study of elliptic curves is a specialisation of the study of algebraic geometry). After studying algebra for 4 years I can now finally understand most of the introductory chapter of my book on elliptic curves, though not all of it. Since you want to learn about a specific algorithm rather than all of elliptic curves I think it shouldn't take you the 4/5 years that it is taking me, but be warned that acquiring a deep understanding might prove to be very hard.

comment by devi · 2014-09-16T00:14:28.734Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This sounds like an interesting project. I've studied quite some category theory myself, though mostly from the "oh pretty!" point of view, and dipped my feet into algebraic geometry because it sounded cool. I think that reading algebraic geometry with the sight set on cryptography would be more giving than the general swimming around in its sea that I've done before. So if you want a reading buddy, do tell. A fair warning though: I'm quite time limited these coming months, so will not be able to keep a particularly rapid pace.

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2014-09-15T16:06:49.051Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm studying very basic Lie group theory by working through John Stillwell's Naive Lie Theory. The end-goal in this direction is to acquire the basics of modern differential geometry. If I make it to the end of this book, I've got Janich's Vector Analysis (differential manifolds, differential forms, Stokes' theorem in the modern setting, de Rham cohomology) and Loomis & Sternberg Advanced Calculus (all this and more, starting from basic linear algebra and multivariable calculus in a principed way). Not decided yet which of them I'll try to work through or both.

Independently of this, I would like to refresh probability and acquire statistics in a mathematically rigorous way. I tried Wasserman's All of Statistics that is sometimes recommended, but it's too dry and unmotivating for me. I like the look of David Williams's Weighing the Odds, which seems to be both suitably rigorous and full of illuminating explanations, but I haven't really tried reading it yet.

comment by gjm · 2014-09-15T16:51:53.397Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read Weighing the Odds, but for what (very little) it's worth I attended one course lectured by Williams years ago and I thought he was an outstandingly clear lecturer.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2014-09-27T04:00:30.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm with you on the probability & statistics. I think we might diverge in the end game for that particular result, but that's a long way from here.

So you've done analysis or not(?). I'm with you if you haven't.

comment by somervta · 2014-09-18T05:29:24.704Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to learn Linear Algebra and some automata/computability stuff for courses, and I have basic set theory and logic on the backburner.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2014-09-27T08:03:05.461Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's going on with your linear algebra. What text's are you looking at right now? I am interested in computability, and am working through some set theory right now.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T13:43:01.890Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure this counts as a math problem, but I've been inconsistently playing go for about four years, and my current rank is 13 kyu. In the KGS server I'm username Waleran.

comment by Antisuji · 2014-09-15T16:56:20.753Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't been playing on KGS recently, but if you're interested in a teaching game send me a PM and we can schedule something. I'm around 4k.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-09-15T22:04:41.930Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've been working on relearning calculus, after noticing that I had forgotten most of what I learned in high school. I'm doing this with a text-book someone send me a pdf of (in a bunch of other books for learning about AI). The theory is going pretty well, but I find that I have some trouble actually getting the problems solved. I've been told this would get better with practice.

comment by D_Malik · 2014-09-16T21:23:20.007Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My impression is that the conceptual parts of calculus are valuable, but the "here is how to integrate by hand" parts are useless.

comment by AlexSchell · 2014-09-16T03:36:15.822Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I just recently started to learn basic multivariable calculus (using this book + Khan academy etc.) to make progress on my economics self-study (using this magnificent book). This turned out to involve some of relearning of single-variable also, because much of what I learned in college and high school didn't quite stick. What's the book you're using? Are you aware of the best textbooks thread? Why do you want to study calculus?

comment by garabik · 2014-09-15T16:36:23.704Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some statistics, especially confidence interval calculation for hypergeometric and binomial distributions. While not really necessary, adding proper confidence intervals to graphs of population samples of certain natural language phenomena makes the graphs look more professional (and fitting more rigorous).

Learning as in "want to understand what's going on and which equation to use", not as in "being able to derive the equations with paper and pencil without external help".

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-15T16:56:53.308Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-15T21:02:12.657Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm writing a novel about metafiction: Some of the characters are aware that they are fictional, or rather that they live within a simulation where the laws of physics seem to follow a narrative. Unlike other metafiction stories, however, this isn't a comedy and the ontological and practical implications are treated seriously. Also, the main character is basically following timeless decision theory, but since it operates on very different timescales than humans, this has quite strange implications.

I find working on the background, the setting, characters and plot quite easy and captivating, but I hit a writer's block whenever I want to transform my notes into complete chapters. This has reached the point where I have far more notes than actual story.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-15T21:42:40.557Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Outlining is fun, but you just have to sit down and write at a certain point. Accept that the ideas won't be expressed perfectly the first few times. It's just like baking brownies; the best recipe in the world won't make you a tray of chocolaty goodness.

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T07:10:05.385Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I know, but writing is hard :-( Also, I have made it way too hard for myself. It's easy to write notes about the personality of a completely non-human character, as long as you can intellectually understand its reasoning. But once I am forced to actually write its dialog, my head just hits a brick wall. The being is very intelligent and I want this to be rationalist fiction, so I have to think for a very long time just to find out in what exact way it would phrase its requests to maximize the probability of compliance. Writing the voices of the narrators/the administrator AIs of the simulation as they are slowly going insane is not easy, either.

Maybe I'm too perfectionist here. Do you think it's better to write something trashy first and rewrite it later, or is it more efficient to do it right the first time?

comment by LizzardWizzard · 2014-09-18T12:15:27.438Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You can't write your characters more intelligent than you in fact are

comment by Jiro · 2014-09-18T21:24:32.630Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Why? Your characters can have better memory than you, since you are writing things down; this also applies to keeping in memory several steps of something that you personally can't keep in memory. Your characters can take less time to make decisions than you do (since your fiction is not written in realtime). Your characters can notice things that you would miss if you saw them (because since you have defined their world, you already know what things are important to notice without having to notice them yourself). Your characters can have more skills than you have. How does this not ultimately add up to "your characters can be more intelligent than you"?

Of course, you could also cheat and have your character deduce something that he couldn't possibly have really deduced, but that doesn't mean all intelligent characters are examples of such cheating.

comment by LizzardWizzard · 2014-09-19T08:25:01.243Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Damn I didn't talk about running or sky-jumping, only what intelligence covers. I meant that your characters can't have wider worldview and broader mindmap, and although consider WYSIATI (what-you-see-is-all-there-is) principle, applies also to all that you know.

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-18T18:17:23.765Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know, and that is part of what makes this so hard. Thankfully, I have several ways too cheat:

-I can take days thinking of the perfect path of action for what takes seconds in the story.

-The character is a humanoid avatar of a very smart and powerful entity. While it was created with much specialized knowledge, it is still human-like at its core.

But most importantly:

-It's a story about stories and there is an actual narrator-like entity changing the laws of nature. Sometimes, 'because this would make for a better story' is a perfectly valid criterion for choosing actions. The super-human characters are all aware of this and exploit it heavily.

comment by LizzardWizzard · 2014-09-18T18:48:14.194Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh it's sounds promising, i like some kind of metametainfinite leveling stuff

comment by lacker · 2014-09-19T06:49:05.454Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like picking this nonhuman metafictional stuff is a tough way to start writing. Maybe pick something easier just so that you succeed without getting so much writers' block.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-16T16:44:21.799Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I 100% support "write something then rewrite" over "do it right the first time" (which is essentially impossible in fiction writing of any length).

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo?

It's a 'contest' where competitors try to write a 50K word novel in a month.

That's an insane pace, and only a very few of the most prolific and experienced authors can write 50K QUALITY words.

The idea is it forces you to write something, to 'turn off your inner editor', and just write. The experience of writing without anxiety, just with a target, is really nice for most people and results in a creative torrent far exceeding what they'd do in a typical month, even if it's rough around the edges.

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T18:10:15.344Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I heard of NaNoWriMo before. Unfortunately that would be too much for me to handle. I am not a professional writer. I am just doing this in my free time and I just don't have that kind of time, although I think this would definitely be worth checking out if it was during a holiday.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-16T20:55:25.697Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here's the thing: 50,000/30 is 1,666 words a day. 1,666 words a day is a lot, but if you're a good typist you should be able to manage it in about an hour IF you focus on typing no matter what, and not trying to edit as you go. Do you spend an hour on the train commuting? Or watching TV?

Give it a shot, and see how far you get!

If you really don't want to though, turning off your inner editor and pushing yourself to get some words down is still important.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-15T16:57:27.687Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm making an effort to read more fiction, read about writing fiction, critique others' amateur fiction, and write my own.

comment by Baughn · 2014-09-15T17:13:10.136Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ditto, more or less.

Have you ever visited Sufficient Velocity?

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-15T17:19:09.464Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Looking at it, it seems fanfiction focused, but very active. What would you say about it?

I intend to do NaNoWriMo, and their forums are great during contest time.

comment by Baughn · 2014-09-17T11:18:01.618Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a diverse crowd. You get the critics you ask for, more or less, and it depends on the kind of story you're writing; people will read the stories they like, so there's self-selection there. You can for example compare the discussion I got here with the more typically shallow analysis here.

It's absolutely focused on fanfiction, but that hasn't stopped people from posting originals, usually to great success.

Mostly, the keys to success are:

  • State up-front that you'd appreciate real C&C, otherwise it's likely to turn into a bit of an echo chamber. Depending on the kind of story; quests naturally cause more discussion. (But also have a smaller base audience.)
  • Write reasonably well, about interesting subjects. The bar is low, but it's there, and original fiction has a higher bar.
  • Sticking a link in your signature and posting in other threads always helps. If you like reading, you should be able to find something to read there, somewhere, so that'll go naturally.

On that note, why not write fanfiction? It's fun. :P

comment by FiftyTwo · 2014-09-21T00:23:50.247Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am specifically practicing writing non-fiction, in the form of articles/blog posts. Any advice specific to non-fiction would be welcome.

So far I've found that rushing out a short article is better than obsessing over it.

comment by zedzed · 2014-09-16T09:30:27.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm currently a beta for In Fire Forged, thanks to an EY recommendation. Going over someone else's writing with a fine-tooth comb, looking to correct anything that's subperfect turns out to be an excellent way of improving. Also, we have a truly fantastic beta community (6 betas plus the original author); I've learned lots from them too. We're not looking for more betas, but if you're at a level where you're not getting better by writing your own stuff (ie. you can see that your writing isn't as good as you'd like, but can't make it better because your writing level is too low, and you can't level up since you effectively can't edit your own writing because your writing level is too low...), I could probably get you on the team. PM me if interested.

Also, I'm taking a writing course, but it's certainly not helping and may even be making me a worse writer. It's also, unfortunately, very required. In general, I'm extremely skeptical about improving writing in anything vaguely resembling a traditional classroom (putting the words down initially is an individual process, and improving a draft starts breaking down past 3 editors at a time; I've had several top-tier writing teachers and still haven't seen an effective way to teach writing to a class), so take that as a data point about where to not look to learn writing.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-17T23:23:42.390Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, but it sounds like you have enough beta readers, and I don't know the source material.

But I do some critiques on /r/destructivereaders, and I know of many other websites that offer similar reciprocal critiquing schemes.

As far as writing courses, they're at least a good commitment device, and you might meet other people who can be good to know long-term. For people whose discipline and self-reflection are aided by a structured setting, they should help. For others, maybe not.

comment by Andy_McKenzie · 2014-09-16T00:48:46.167Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Andy_McKenzie · 2014-09-16T00:49:28.586Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm studying and trying to learn about Alzheimers disease: the causes and potential therapies. Please get in touch if you are interested in this as well, or aging more generally.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:40:20.152Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Personal Devlopment

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T15:44:12.057Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Last night, for the first time in my 31 years of life, I had a second date. Thank you, OKCupid matching algorithm.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-15T16:54:57.112Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

On the subject of OKCupid...

Conferring with other LWers at the last London meetup, I seemed to enjoy a disproportionately large amount of success with OKCupid given my modest looks and overall questionable value as a human being. Over the ~18 non-continuous months I was actively using OKCupid in London, I went on dates with at least 30 different women, many of which had positive outcomes of one form or another. Others present seemed to think this was quite a lot.

I don't think I have any particularly great expertise on the subject, and it seems likely I just found whatever worked for me, but I would like to offer myself up as a resource for anyone who wants to mine my experience for useful information.

comment by gwillen · 2014-09-16T00:33:35.490Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am considering using OKCupid "seriously" for the first time; I've had an account for years but mostly for entertainment, with no profile.

I would definitely be interested in trying to understand how you were so successful.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-16T12:32:35.645Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Some observations of my OKC experiences:

A big factor was being in London. I've lived in various other UK towns and cities, and London is the only place OKCupid "worked", in the sense of being a semi-reliable place to obtain a date, with a high rate of turnover in the pool of available matches. By way of comparison, in about 18 months of online dating in Birmingham, (the UK's second-largest city), I went on maybe half a dozen dates.

Age was probably also a salient feature. I was 29-30 at the time, and had a sliding window of 26-32 on ages of prospective matches. I imagine the numbers were probably in my favour as far as site demographics were concerned.

Speaking to other people, I seemed to have enjoyed a large number of 99% matches, even for London. I'd expect to log into my account and see around 15-20 99% matches, which I gather is also unusual. I almost exclusively dated high 90% matches. I didn't engage in any clever strategy for answering questions, though I did answer a lot (> 1000). I do wonder if there are some particularly discriminate questions that most men answer "incorrectly", and I happened to fall on the right side of them.

(My take on the OKCupid matching algorithm is that it's sensitive but not very selective. People who you get on well with will probably be high matches, but people who are high matches won't necessarily be people you get on well with. A disproportionate number of 99% matches were tied to groups in my existing social network.)

I'm pretty sure my comparative advantage on the dating market is a combination of eloquence and dirty-mindedness. There seems to be a large subset of women who I match highly with who really appreciate the ability to subtly encode filth in language. This probably carries well over text-based communications and may account for some of my relative success.

My subjective experience of dating on OKCupid seems to be similar to everyone else, in the "seriously, fuck OKCupid" sense. I would regularly compose thoughtful messages to interesting-sounding women only to get no response, which was disappointing and downheartening. (I do have quite a bit of sympathy for the women on OKCupid in this regard, but that's a whole other essay). This seems to be a fixed experience of being a dude on OKC. I have no idea how much effort I put in compared to other people, or even how to go about quantifying it, but this might be a factor.

Patterns of actually going on dates were very much Feast or Famine. Sometimes I'd go for months without any responses. Sometimes I'd have an elaborate scheduling nightmare. On a couple of occasions I got to second-date territory with two women simultaneously, which was a novel experience for someone who spent his formative years pretending to be mythical creatures and developing strong opinions on which starships were the best. There was a particularly gruelling stretch in early 2012 where I'd just come back from a date and didn't have another one in the calendar, and it felt like I'd gotten out of some sort of debt.

The most sensible approach seemed to be treating the whole process as a way to meet new friends, who happened to be single women who hadn't ruled out sleeping with me. In this regard OKCupid was pretty successful. A little under half of the women I met I maintain some sort of social contact with, even if it's just the occasional bit of banter on Facebook. Eight or so are people I'll actively hit up for social activity, and a couple I'd consider good friends. Romantic outcomes were mixed, but generally positive: a few brief casual affairs, one ongoing long-term relationship and one ongoing intermittent play partner.

After a recent event where I encountered someone I'd been on an OKCupid date with way back in 2011, but didn't remember where I knew them from, I went to the effort of listing every date I could remember to make sure it didn't happen again. This was surprisingly difficult. The number currently stands at thirty women, but there could easily be a couple I don't remember. Prior to making the list, I somehow had the idea that I'd been on quite a few "bad dates", but looking over them, there was only one I'd describe as bad, and a few I'd describe as so-so. The dates themselves were overwhelmingly positive, but I think the overall process can be quite draining.

I think I'm out of observations for now.

comment by blacktrance · 2014-09-17T11:02:18.548Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'd expect to log into my account and see around 15-20 99% matches, which I gather is also unusual. I almost exclusively dated high 90% matches. I didn't engage in any clever strategy for answering questions, though I did answer a lot (> 1000).

The more questions you answer, the more 99% matches you get. If you and another person have given the same answer to many questions, OkCupid tends to overestimate your compatibility.

One idea to avoid this is to first answer a thousand questions, see which ones are marked as Unacceptable most often, and then delete all of your answers and answer only those questions and the ones you consider particularly important.

comment by gwillen · 2014-09-17T00:00:04.183Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, that is extremely helpful and thorough. Thank you very much for the time you spent writing that.

one ongoing long-term relationship and one ongoing intermittent play partner

Can I infer poly from that? I would expect that would reduce the field quite a bit, and introduce a lot of complications into the process, if that were the case while one was looking on OKC. (There's a Chrome extension to highlight people's answers to a handful of poly-compatibility questions; I found the hit rate for positive answers to be middling.)

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-17T09:58:12.359Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Monogamish" is probably a better description. My girlfriend and I are ostensibly polyamorous, but mostly we're just busy.

A significant proportion of my OKCupid matches were polyvangelists back when I was still quite skeptical of it. A couple of years ago I went to a "99% Party", where the two hosts (themselves 99% matches) invited all their 99% OKC matches, and each guest was allowed to bring a 99%-matching plus-one. That was a surreal experience. There was obviously some selection for extroversion and people who could turn up to a stranger's house in Islington on a week night, but I learned that my OKCupid matching-space neighbours were a lot more pro-poly, soapbox left-wing and literary than I was.

comment by henryaj · 2014-09-19T10:29:04.339Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting stuff. I've not had a great deal of success with OkC, but I tend to get bored of the dating site cycle – the few dates I've been on haven't been very exciting, and I tend to prefer meeting people in person (like at parties) as I find that more immediately engaging and exciting.

Could you link to your OkC profile? It'd be interesting to have a look at!

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-19T11:37:51.176Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I ended up retiring the profile I went on all the dates with, because I didn't think it was getting me enough dates. It also went through a couple of complete rewrites over the period in question.

I do actually have a pretty coherent personal theory of how OKCupid profiles should be constructed, but I'd be hesitant to evangelise about it, because it's probably just optimised for being me.

comment by hg00 · 2014-09-16T04:09:30.619Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Let's hear it!

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:50:46.261Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't have that much luck with OKC. The matching is quite OK, but the pool to too small in Germany and my predisposion (4 children) makes it difficult. I did find friends that way though.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-09-18T16:15:57.892Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The matching is quite OK, but the pool to too small in Germany

There may be some other online dating site that's more popular there. Here in Italy there are very few people on OkC, nearly none of whom outside major cities, and most of whom foreigners only staying in Italy one or two semesters, but Badoo is much more popular.

(BTW, this week I am in Germany, and it looks like all advertising on all web pages and Android apps thinks I should try out Lovoo (never mind I'm already in a monogamous relationship, and never mind I'm leaving tomorrow anyway), so you might want to check that out.)

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-18T19:59:55.390Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know of some other platforms and tried one for a short time. I liked the OKC approach and bet on that. Maybe I'll try other later. But Lovoo really looks like the wrong audience.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T15:55:41.509Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This date was with an 81% match, the highest personality match in my city that was also attractive (higher matches turned out to be unappealing to my tastes).

For some strange reason, OKCupid thinks my best matches are in Oregon, Ontario, and Belgium. I wonder whether I should move.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T16:03:02.209Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Did you optimize your match score? 81% doesn't sound a lot. You can increase your visibility without reducing your honesty by applying the techniques of this guy:


Note that you don't need to scratch OKC. Just apply adaptive boosts (weigh safe bets higher) and don't answer ambiguous questions or questions where you expect mismatches (except if they are important for you).

This brought me out of the ~70% range into the >95% range without any lying.

comment by Flipnash · 2014-09-17T10:07:13.330Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Apparently, it boils down to visibility. Answering the least amount of questions that are compatible with the class of women that you are interested in while still maintaining high match percentage. (Apparently each answer is a potential mismatch) This supposedly leads to a high match which means you will turn up in their searches more often. Then visiting thousands of profiles. (The example used a script to do it automatically.)They will see that you visited. Some will be intrigued enough to visit you back, of those, some might send a message. It is probably worth it to send a message to visitors anyway.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-17T19:14:25.519Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. One could summarize it that way.

Clicking thru profiles didn't net me any messages though. Probably not enough as there are only a limited number (~10 >95%) in my vicinity. But I did get nice messages from three 99%-matches across the globe.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T18:02:31.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have answered 500+ personality questions, avoiding those with badly designed answers and those that are too saucy. The website says my highest possible match is around 99.7%.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T18:51:52.101Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And your highest match in your area is?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T19:00:32.558Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are a couple of 96%.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-09-15T16:56:29.678Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that article describes an approach that's not-exactly-honest. Also, note that while he had lots of dates, most weren't very good. He was genuinely reducing the quality of his matches.

A milder, one-account approach is probably reasonable.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T18:50:14.362Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think that article describes an approach that's not-exactly-honest.

Well. Yes. But then I'd guess that most dating by many people is not-exactly-honest.

while he had lots of dates, most weren't very good. He was genuinely reducing the quality of his matches.

I don't think so. I put significant thought into estimating how many dates (by my current measure conversions with >1000 words count as dates) are needed to find someone who clicks (meaning emotional response/infatuation). The OKC questions only ensure lifestyle-compatibility but not physical attributes and 'chemistry' which are mostly orthogonal. Thus one doesn't get around the 25-100 needed dates (except if you accept non-clicking).

A milder, one-account approach is probably reasonable.

I agree.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-23T17:19:11.201Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just take a woman who's vegan and has a principle not to be in a relationship with any person who eats meat. Take a new atheists and a believing Christian.

I don't think so. I put significant thought into estimating how many dates (by my current measure conversions with >1000 words count as dates) are needed to find someone who clicks (meaning emotional response/infatuation).

I personally don't really believe that "clicking" is mostly a matter of matching but a process of a mating procedure.

If a human goes through a certain process he feels an emotional response. That process is not easy to engineer. However in the somato-psycho education there are a bunch of practitioners who feel more physical intimacy (=chemistry) with their clients than the feel with their romantic partners.

Practically for myself opening up myself and not screwing up somewhere along the process is a lot harder than creating initial "chemistry".

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:47:38.983Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm using The Charisma Myth, Neil Strauss' Rules of the Game, Nonviolent Communication, some other books and quite some LW posts to improve my social skills with good results. Apparently I made quite a good impression on my last job. I'm careful to clearly use only non-dark techniques (I avoid any that involve lies; The Game actually involves lots) and to stay authentic.

comment by Emile · 2014-09-16T20:33:06.609Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nice, do you have any specific tips? If I wanted to add say the five most useful tips you've got, which would they be? Or the five most useful concepts?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-16T21:32:05.573Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My Anki decks spits out:

  • Take a stance. Take space. Take a breath. Take your time. Keep still. - This projecting self-confidence via posture was the first thing that I can clearly say worked. I use my fencing stance as a base.

  • Don't nod often or vigorously.

  • Consider your clothing. The color of clothing apparently signals something:

    • Red: ambition or passion. Useful to wake up an audience.

    • Black means you're serious, and won't take no for an answer.

    • Blue: trust. The darker the shade, the deeper the trust it elicits. <-- I prefer this.

    • Gray: quintessential color of neutrality in business and politics.

  • Practical Charisma: Before important events warm-up. Free time. Spend time with people supporting your. Positive athmosphere (music).

Recently I tried to apply an exercise from The Charisma Myth to project more benevolence: Imagine the people around you with angel wings and striving to achieve good. It almost always makes me smile so I will definitely continue it as it also improves my spirits. It actually brought back some positive stance which I think declined a bit in the last year(s). Whether I actually do project more benevolence I can't say (yet).

comment by henryaj · 2014-09-21T15:58:04.147Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How do you Ankify knowledge like that? Or, to be specific, what's on the other side of those cards in Anki?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-21T20:22:08.417Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I make cloze texts involving the habit.


  • Front: You should take...

  • Back: a breath, a stance, take up space, take your time and keep stil

But for me the remembering of the text is less important than to be reminded of the habit at all. There wouldn't have to be page B. I'd just rate how well I did the habit. The cloze is just a quick check of how well I remember the key instructions.

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-15T21:20:29.631Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I use a program I wrote over the last couple of months to improve my productivity and enforce habits in myself via conditioning. Whenever I hear of an interesting productivity trick or a useful habit, I add it to the program. So far, I think it's working, but there is so much overhead because of the sheer quantity of near-useless tricks that it will take some pruning before it actually becomes a strong net win.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T21:27:50.243Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder in which way you add the tricks. Could you give an example?

I started an Anki deck for habits and tricks which reminds me of the tricks (cloze-style).

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T06:43:19.880Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is a levelling system. Every minute of work gives one experience point, with a bonus if it was done with the pomodoro technique. The program also contains a Todo list, which I use for everything. In this list, there is a section on habits. This section is filled with repeating tasks. Each evening, I tick off all the habits I kept that day. For each habit I don't tick off, I get a small experience drain the next morning. This encourages me to keep every habit, so that I can keep the daily experience drain to a minimum. Avoiding this negative reinforcement works very well as a motivator, and seeing the number for tomorrow's experience drain go down whenever I tick off a task also serves as positive reinforcement as well.

comment by free_rip · 2014-09-16T08:31:31.320Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds similar to HabitRPG - missing out on daily/weekly habits there lose you 'health' and doing them/doing your to-dos/habits such as a certain amount of work you get experience, which lets you level up.

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T12:08:07.362Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, it's pretty similar. I think their idea of making the punishment affect a separate health bar rather than reducing the experience directly may actually be better. I should try that out some time. Unlike HabitRPG (I think?) my program is also a todo list, though. I use it for organizing my tasks and any task that I don't finish in time costs experience, just like failing a habit. This helps to prevent procrastination.

comment by Emile · 2014-09-16T20:31:38.654Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

HabitRPG can also work as a todo list.

comment by free_rip · 2014-09-17T00:05:48.136Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, although it hasn't yet implemented losing health if you don't meet it by a deadline - it's on the list of improvements to come, though. @Florian_Dietz, if you were interested in using what HabitRPG already has and implementing that functionality there, I'm sure a lot of people would be very grateful!

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-17T14:03:30.906Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Implement what functionality where? I don't think I'm going to start working for that company just because this feature is interesting :-) As for my own program, I changed it to use a health bar today, but that is of no use to anyone else, since the program is not designed to be easily usable by other people. I always find it terrible to consider that large companies have so many interdependencies that they take months to implement (and verify and test) what took an hour for my primitive program.

comment by free_rip · 2014-09-17T23:22:22.158Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

HabitRPG is completely open-source, and has very little actual staff (I think about 3 currently). Contributing to HabitRPG has more info (scroll down to 'Coders: Web and Mobile') - basically the philosophy is 'if you want something changed, go in and change it'. I thought you might like the app in general, and by adding that feature be able to get everything out of it you do with your own app, while helping lots of other people at the same time.

Fair enough - it does require more testing, and if you've got one going that works for you that's great :-)

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2014-09-16T03:55:17.941Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am re-learning negotiating by teaching it.

Max L.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:36:49.101Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:39:34.082Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm using the Ultimate Geography Anki Deck to complete my knowledge of countries.

I was motivated to do so my this LW Comment::

A few months ago I started using the Ultimate Geography Anki deck after performing quite abysmally on some silly geography quiz that was doing the rounds on Facebook. I now know where all the damn countries are, like an informed citizen of the world. This has proven itself very useful in a variety of ways, not least of which is in reading other material with a geographical backdrop.

This I fully second. Knowing some lesser known *istan countries has already been helpful in GJP.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-31T19:07:21.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am not learning geography myself, but if you see any application of Bayesian reasoning to a well-defined problem or a process, please write about your experience!

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T07:14:11.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T07:16:38.287Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I took a few university courses, but ultimately I found it more efficient to just browse wikipedia for its lists of heuristics and biases. Then of course there is the book 'Thinking Fast and Slow', which is just great.

What other sources can you recommend?

comment by zedzed · 2014-09-16T09:45:30.768Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

University courses != helpful. Textbooks, on the other hand, are the fastest way of inputting knowledge into your head.

If you're interested in heuristics and biases, maybe try Heuristics and Biases.

Consider fishing for unknown unknowns, ie. "things I didn't even know existed to study but, having become aware that they exist, believe I really benefit from learning." I'd start with the list of best textbooks. From there, fish through OCW's list of psych courses (these typically come with a textbook recommendation, and MIT tends to use good textbooks). This should keep you busy for a while.

Personal recommendations: I've taken a psychopharmacology course which, while I didn't find the nootropic recommendations I was looking for, has been tons of help in other places in my life, particularly at the doctor's (much lower inferential distance!) and being able to think intelligently about drugs (can't recommend a good textbook, though). I have a personal interest in learning and found Make It Stick helpful, although a bit filler-heavy. The Brain That Change Itself is a wonderful read about neuroplasticity. The Seven Sins of Memory is good.

comment by Florian_Dietz · 2014-09-16T12:04:23.120Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, these look really useful. I will definitely have a look at them.

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-09-15T15:19:54.241Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

History of Ideas

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-09-15T16:14:15.492Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Reading Nature's God, by Matthew Stewart. Stewart argues that many of the American Revolutionary figures held a particular world view at odds with what we would consider orthodox Christianity, with roots going back to Epicurus, and transmitted to them via Giordano Bruno, Spinoza, Locke and other figures from the rationalist period leading up to what we call the Enlightenment. Stewart studied many of the original writings from the period, and he says he found references to what he calls"space aliens" everywhere, even in the freethought book published by the relatively unlettered Vermont hillbilly Ethan Allen. The Revolutionary figures who wrote down their thoughts on the matter took the Epicurean doctrine of the infinite universe and the plurality of worlds seriously, and they postulated that these other worlds must have rational species similar to humans living on them, even if they had no way to observe them.

I don't see how this differs from the Christian belief in the unobservable, populated realms of heaven and hell; yet the advocates of this extraterrestrial belief apparently considered it "rational" by the standards of the time. These speculations might have influenced Joseph Smith a couple generations later when he came up with the Kolob doctrine in Mormonism. Despite the Enlightenment culture of the Revolutionary generation, Americans became more conventionally religious in the early 19th Century.

Reading Stewart's book made me wonder why more of the Enlightenment figures with resources didn't try to secure their gains. They managed to lock in their political ideas to some extent in the U.S. Constitution, of course. Thomas Jefferson worked to establish the University of Virginia to teach Enlightenment values. And the French immigrant banker and trader Stephen Girard, who also read Enlightenment books and named his merchant ships Voltaire and Rousseau, left his fortune in trust to establish a secular school for orphans. But other Enlightenment figures with money, like Voltaire himself and the Baron d'Holbach, didn't think of doing this to improve the odds of making the Enlightenment sustainable. If they couldn't have done this in France for political reasons, they certainly had the ability to send money to other countries, and even to the early United States, with instructions to carry on the Enlightenment project.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T15:23:59.519Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I recently discovered that a question which had obsessed me during my entire life, and which I had never been able to put into words, is actually being studied by a philosophy professor. I'm currently reading his paper, "Against egalitarianism" (no socioeconomic implications intended; it's about theory of consciousness).

comment by ZankerH · 2014-09-15T14:29:03.486Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW


comment by TylerJay · 2014-09-15T16:16:55.176Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Currently enrolled in:

  • Cryptography - Coursera (Stanford)
  • Computational Investing - Coursera (Georgia Tech)
  • R Programming - Coursera (Johns Hopkins' Data Science Specialization)

Also, submitted my application to Georgia Tech's Online Master of Science in Computer Science program for Spring 2015

comment by FiftyTwo · 2014-09-21T00:25:11.064Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Still working my way through the Ruby codeacademy course

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-03T20:42:12.167Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've just started it (9% complete).

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-09-15T22:07:41.983Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm doing "Learning Python the Hard Way". The first part was a slog, but rather easy. I've finally reached boolean logic, so I hope things will get more interesting now.

comment by adamzerner · 2014-09-15T16:04:04.270Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Javascript, MEAN stack, SQL, RegEx, Git... I just started Fullstack Academy today, see here for more info on the curriculum.

Once it's over I want to learn more about algorithms and data structures and stuff.

comment by ZankerH · 2014-09-15T14:31:57.841Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Haskell. I know C, Python, Octave and some Java, but this is my first encounter with a functional programming language. I went through the introduction at learn you a haskell, now I'm trying to translate some of my previous simpler projects and mostly using the haskell wiki and stackexchange for help as I go along.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-09-17T03:43:12.477Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Working through the Odin project, about a half hour a day.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-09-15T10:51:40.630Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mobile game programming

comment by Emile · 2014-09-16T20:35:57.622Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Come on, that's like a super specific category, how would you expect people to have stuff to put in there!

... anyway, I've been prototyping game mechanics in AngularJS and more generally learning about that framework, so I can use it to make/prototype web-based or mobile games. I haven't been putting huge amount of time in it yet though.

comment by Roxolan · 2014-09-18T10:58:57.062Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Working on my first serious project using AndEngine (a game that's a cross between Recettear and Night Shift). The joy of puzzling code out without any documentation. I'm at the stage where I can display the shop and have customers come in and wobble around, without there being any actual gameplay.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-09-15T10:57:11.738Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am interested in both Android Java programming and Unity programming.

I already did a very simple demo "Relax Bubbles", now I am working on Sudoku. The next project will be a simple 3D game in Unity, which already provides the physics and 3D, so I just have to design some levels.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-09-15T10:51:25.991Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

META (anything other than a specific topic to learn)

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-15T12:07:23.198Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've been involved in a few LW learning cooperation efforts, and it's been my experience that they rarely lead to anything. These have mostly taken the form "hey, we're all learning [subject]! Let's make a discussion group and discuss it", and very little discussion actually takes place.

I'd be keen to hear if anyone has the opposite experience, and what form their cooperation took.

comment by tkadlubo · 2014-09-15T12:23:21.537Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

One big example of a successful study project is the LessWrong Study Hall, which is still active 1.5 years after it was started.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-09-15T12:57:38.445Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My experience of the Study Hall was extremely positive, but I wasn't really counting it as a cooperative learning effort since the participants are generally working on diverse areas rather than discussing a common subject.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-09-17T03:53:59.394Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This seems to be the nature of internet groups in general... most people just don't have the ability to commit to something for long term with no external incentives and weak social ties. I've tried numerous colearning, masterminds, etc. and it's always a struggle.

Even my coaching clients who I give twenty bucks to every time they make a meeting often take 2-3 MONTHS before they can start to do this with anything resembling consistetency.

That being said, here's what I've found helps:

  1. Text reminders 15 minutes before every meeting to every person who should show up.
  2. Create carrots and sticks using beeminder, habitrpg, or lift as a group.
  3. Ping participants through facebook or text one or two times throughout the week with something interesting related to the topic of the group to keep the group top of mind.
  4. Create real life bonds otuside of the "let's talk about what we learned" dynamic.
comment by sullyj3 · 2015-07-31T18:00:37.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a solution could be to create stronger social ties; video chat? Could be good for asking each other for help and maybe progress reports for accountability and positive reinforcement.

comment by sullyj3 · 2015-07-31T17:46:05.421Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As an interested denizen of 2015, It might be cool to make this a regular (say, monthly?) thread, with a tag for the archive.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T12:20:08.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


comment by DanielFilan · 2014-09-15T12:33:42.413Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Learning German atm via Duolingo + Anki, already speak Esperanto and am reasonably good at Japanese.

comment by garabik · 2014-09-15T15:51:50.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Spanish. Though I am making half a year pause by now due to increased workload. I tried (as an experiment) small group lessons taught by a native speaker, and it really bumped forward my communication skills. Though I have been slowed down a lot by a lack of accessible Spanish language TV. I plan on investigating habssvpvny fngryyvgr cnl GI erprcgvba.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-15T14:30:20.615Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm learning French via Duolingo, Anki and UnlockYourBrain.

comment by Emile · 2014-09-16T20:49:56.941Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I speak (some) Chinese, but I've always had a problem with remembering tones. So I found a list of characters sorted by frequency, wrote a python script to parse it and massage it a bit to generate an anki deck of "character -> pronunciation (definition)" mappings (and for characters that have several pronunciation, it's "character (definition) -> pronunciation"; so far I've been reviewing that deck for the past couple of months, but as it has several thousand entries it'll be years before I'm done with it (if I feel like it's getting old I'll stop reviewing it). When I encounter a character I don't know how to write I also add it back as a separate entry in another deck.

For studying German and Japanese, I have a Grooveshark playlist with a few Disney songs, and I also have some google docs with the lyrics which I occasionally read/try to translate (I haven't put much time in this apart from listening to the songs while I work; I haven't entered anything into Anki yet).

We used to have a regular German lunch on thursday at work, but the organizers quit and nobody picked up; I would usually add a few entries to Anki each time (and I still review them). I might organize a Japanese lunch eventually.

I have a "Mafalda" comic book in Spanish in the restroom, along with a Spanish-French dictionary, and usually read one strip (looking up unknown words) each time. Nothing in Anki, and I don't study any Spanish outside of that.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:34:06.129Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Out of curiosity and because of the interest of my brother who has gift for languages we started to learn E-minimal. As its name suggests it is a quite minimal artificial language suitable for studying language properties. Above all it is small enough to aquire it quickly for real use.

I have created an Anki deck for E-minimal to learn the language and succeeded to aquire the complete vocabulary and grammar within about 50 hours (according to Anki). I'm relatively fluent in writing by now (I exchange mails with my brother in it).

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-15T15:54:19.631Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

E-minimal looks interesting. Can you estimate how many speaker the language has at the moment? Are there websites or mailing lists in which people use the language to communicate with each other?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:58:40.167Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are no speakers that I know of. I tried to contact the author to get permission to distribute the Anki-deck but didn't get a reply.

I is mentioned some places on the web, so it is not completely dead, e.g.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-15T16:17:31.105Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What made you decide for E-minimal? Esperanto is the most commonly used constructed language and even if you don't like it for many sloppy design issues, Interlingua seems well designed and has actual speaker and therefore even it's own Wikipedia.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T18:42:15.899Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My aim is not the learn a spoken language and to use it for significant communication. e-minimal is interesting precisely because of its minimalistic and compositional nature. Building on 'primitives' founded in science.

I have an interest in computer linguistics and having a toy language exposes some of the difficulties of aquiring a language more clearly than a real natural language does.

I don't want to invest lots of days in learning a real language. E-minmal being small but sufficiently complete allowed me to get away with minimal effort.

comment by Salemicus · 2014-09-15T14:30:38.528Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am improving my Arabic via private lessons. I have tried this several times over the years; I'm still not very good.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T12:20:43.403Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some years ago I started Japanese, but the kanjis have been a nightmare.

comment by DanielFilan · 2014-09-15T12:37:50.043Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You might be interested in Remembering the Kanji, a guide to using mnemonics to systematically memorise the meaning of all the kanji. I found it helpful while reinforcing it with flashcards + going to high school Japanese class. Wikipedia page for Remembering the Kanji

comment by Micaiah_Chang · 2014-09-16T04:00:08.100Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Along the lines of Remembering the Kanji, but significantly more entertaining is KanjiDamage, which features more yo momma jokes than necessary for learning Japanese, but is moderately entertaining and also provides example compound words and usage.

It also has a premade deck for Anki, if you wish to overcome the initial overwhelming barrier of having to make them. Inferior to making them yourself, as the cards tend to be too dense, but better than loafing around.

Incidentally, even if you do not end up using it, check out the Dupes Appendix which disambiguate homonyms which are also synonyms.

If you plan to practice by reading web pages, I highly recommend Rikaisama for Firefox and Rikaikun for Chrome.

These extensions automatically give definitions upon mousing over Japanese text. Highly useful as a way of eliminating the trivial inconvenience of lookup. I will warn you that EDICT translations (the default back end to rikai) tends to give a very incomplete and sometimes misleading definition of a word (seldom used meanings of a word are presented alongside the common ones without differentiation) but it's still better than nothing. I would advise moving onto a Japanese-Japanese dictionary as soon as possible (probably a year or so down the line depending on commitment).

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T13:58:12.813Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have all 3 volumes. I need the discipline to sit and open them.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-15T15:58:02.861Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nick Winter's skritter is optimised spaced repetition learning for kanjis. In contrast to using an Anki deck skritter also teaches you how to draw the characters.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-15T15:36:06.715Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Found free Anki decks for Japanese: https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/japanese and in particular Kanji: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/2455367092

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-09-15T12:21:00.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm also interested in Dutch.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-09-15T13:34:21.979Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Native Dutch speaker here. Hit me up if you need to practice or have questions. My girlfriend just graduated as a high school teacher (with Dutch as one of her specialties ) and I'm sure she'd help me out with any question I'm unable to answer.

comment by btrettel · 2015-07-29T00:33:03.080Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested in learning German and Russian to translate technical literature. I started working through an old German book I bought in high school while simultaneously going through a large Anki deck, but I had to stop due to lack of time. Still reviewing what I covered, though.