Comment by Big Tony on (briefly) RaDVaC and SMTM, two things we should be doing · 2022-01-18T04:58:04.967Z · LW · GW

Having not apparently the energy to write this longly, I write it shortly instead, that it be written at all.


Just a comment on writing for understandability — compare Benjamin Franklin, writing in 1750:

I have already made this paper too long, for which I must crave pardon, not having now time to make it shorter.

Shorter is (almost always) better, please don't write things longly just for the sake of it!

Comment by Big Tony on Business Writing Example #2 · 2021-12-22T04:02:50.147Z · LW · GW

These business writing emails are great.

I do agree though that they tend to be examples of customer service (assisting a customer to place an order), rather than sales (generating interest in ordering).

Don't make the mistake of thinking that all sales is "manipulative, high-pressure sales!". This appears to be a mental stumbling block for many technical-type people.

Here's a fictional, non-strawman example of sales activity:

I sell steel manifolds (blocks of steel with 'pipelines' cut out).
A lot of potential customers don't use manifolds in their manufacturing equipment, they use plastic pipes to transfer fluids... these are prone to breaking, and causing production delays.
Switching to a steel manifold is a larger cost upfront, but will keep them operating seamlessly for many years with no issues... saving them time and money.
This is a great buying decision, but due to inertia, there aren't customers beating our doors down to buy our manifolds!
It is my job as a salesperson to contact a potential customer, alert them to the sub-optimal state of their current situation (a lot just accept it!), talk to them about the benefits of using steel manifolds, and walk them through the decision-making process.
This is very much salesperson-driven, not customer-driven, and ends with both happy.

Comment by Big Tony on Business Writing Example #2 · 2021-12-22T03:02:25.663Z · LW · GW

Strong upvote! We need more posts that make things like this legible.

Comment by Big Tony on We'll Always Have Crazy · 2021-12-16T01:58:36.741Z · LW · GW

I felt this whole section was a false equivalence — it is mixing claims about Christianity specifically, with claims about whoever was in power at a certain point in history.

500 years ago, Christianity was the dominant power.

If the dominant power at that time was society of atheists, they would also take care to retain sole power to:

  • Appoint legitimate monarchs
  • Free people from their oaths of loyalty
  • Execute people at a whim
  • Exonerate members of their clique from being tried in regular criminal courts

500 years ago, if you had power, you kept it and did what you could to retain it! You're talking about the wider category of "group of people in power", rather than "Christianity" (which is an example of a group of people that was in power, but is no longer).

Comment by Big Tony on How could a friendly AI deal with humans trying to sabotage it? (like how present day internet trolls introduce such problems) · 2021-11-29T18:55:00.185Z · LW · GW

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect covered this — the AI treated human sabotage like a kindly parent would treat an angry child: tolerance for the sabotage attempts, in the knowledge that it would be entirely futile.

I guess it depends on exactly how friendly the AI is, how much it wants to avoid non-existence, and how vulnerable it is.

Comment by Big Tony on Use Tools For What They're For · 2021-11-24T18:40:35.525Z · LW · GW

Haha, I'm seeing a lot of people noticing confusion between the prevailing opinions of the society they live in (Ivermectin is a HORSE DEWORMER and DOESN'T WORK) and their own thoughts (there's weak evidence that it may work in some cases, perhaps we shouldn't treat it with such vitriol).

This post is a good attempt to reconcile the two.

Comment by Big Tony on Money Stuff · 2021-11-03T19:13:56.670Z · LW · GW

There are also groups entirely capitulated to capitalism, egging each other on in contests of conspicuous consumption.


Capitalism !== conspicuous consumption.

In a perfect competition environment, there wouldn't be any spare money to waste on conspicuous consumption!

The solution might be more capitulation to capitalism.

Comment by Big Tony on [Update] Without a phone for 10 days · 2021-10-20T18:41:53.061Z · LW · GW

I wondered the same thing. Collateralisation sounds similar to commitment devices, I could try this! 

On another note, how long did it take before you started noticing the benefits of being phone-less?

Comment by Big Tony on [Update] Without a phone for 10 days · 2021-10-20T09:50:29.129Z · LW · GW

Now that I've read this, I really want to go for an extended period without my phone.

I most likely won't follow through with this (90% certainty), even though I want to.


Comment by Big Tony on Your Time Might Be More Valuable Than You Think · 2021-10-18T20:30:40.860Z · LW · GW

The above could be summarised as: Are you rewarded for results? or for time?

If you're rewarded for results: The value of your time is the value of the marginal hour at the end of your career.

If you're rewarded for time: The value of your time is the value of whatever you're currently being paid.

Comment by Big Tony on Your Time Might Be More Valuable Than You Think · 2021-10-18T20:28:20.028Z · LW · GW

I have mixed thoughts about this post.

On one hand: it seems Scott covered this in his post, Ars Longa Vita Brevis.
It seems obvious there that saving one hour of time at the start of the Teacher-of-Teachers life is equivalent to saving one hour of time at the end of their life.

However, in this post, and in the example of quantitative trading, these areas have several important elements:

  • The scope of the area is effectively infinite. You can always learn to be a better teacher, and you will always be adapting to changing market conditions when quantitative trading.
  • You can work in these areas continually (24/7). They aren't limited by closing times, weekends, public holidays, etc. Learning to be a better teacher doesn't stop at 5pm, and honing the tools of your quantitative trading trade doesn't need to stop when the market closes.
  • Value is immediately available, for your time to be compensated as you go. In the case of a Teacher-of-Teachers, the person is supported lifelong in their task. In the case of quantitative trading, the market rewards you immediately.
  • Increasing your skills quickly increases the value you receive in exchange. Learning a better teaching technique = your student makes more progress. Learning a better quantitative trading technique = you make more money the next day.

However, consider the case of a someone who works at a restaurant during the week, washing dishes by hand. They love their job, and want to keep doing it. They start out at $5/hour, and at the end of their career, they do such an excellent job that they are paid $50/hour.

  • The scope is very limited. Once they've been washing dishes for 20 years, an extra 30 won't make a massive improvement.
  • The work is limited. If the restaurant is closed, they can't wash dishes.
  • Spending time in the weekend improving their dish-washing skills has very little benefit, and doesn't pay them anything.
  • Getting 2% faster at washing dishes won't improve their wage by 2%. It might not improve it at all. If it does, the payrise will be very much delayed — often until the annual performance review, or as an increase when changing jobs.

In this case, for this person, saving two hours in the weekend isn't worth $100 (future wage) to them. It probably isn't even worth $10 to them (their current wage).
Going off earnings only, their time during the weekend is valued at $0.

I feel the same is true of most jobs.
I get paid a salary for working certain hours. Outside of those hours, I get paid nothing.
Should I pay someone $20 to wash my car in the weekend, or should I spend an hour doing it myself?

Comment by Big Tony on Your Time Might Be More Valuable Than You Think · 2021-10-18T20:00:09.554Z · LW · GW

I heard a quote recently which might link:

"Do they have 30 years of experience? or one year, repeated 30 times?".

If it's the former, then 30 years of experience is undoubtedly worth much more than 20 years of experience.
E.g. a surgeon who is dealing with new cases all the time will benefit from the 10 years of additional experience.

If the latter, then there's a very limited benefit to having an additional 10 years of experience — if you've been washing dishes for 20 years, sure you'll get better with an additional 10 years experience but not that much better.

Comment by Big Tony on An Open Letter To Myself On How To Not Get Any Work Done. · 2021-08-24T20:45:32.707Z · LW · GW

Have a shortlist of sites that have new and interesting things.
Whenever you take a break (you have to take breaks, right?), open all of these sites until you find something new and interesting.
If you experience a slight blockage in your work, check again. It might just give you the inspiration you need to break through the blockage!

Also a small grammatical update:

Tips For When Your Working On A Computer → Tips For When You're Working On A Computer