Posts

Reflections on Less Online 2024-07-07T03:49:44.534Z
(Not) Derailing the LessOnline Puzzle Hunt 2024-06-04T01:28:31.688Z
Mismatched Vocabularies 2016-11-21T17:55:20.400Z
The Web Browser is Not Your Client (But You Don't Need To Know That) 2016-04-22T00:12:25.410Z
Turning the Technical Crank 2016-04-05T05:36:28.811Z
Less Wrong Study Hall - Year Two 2015-04-26T17:59:33.847Z
Mental representation and the is-ought distinction 2015-04-20T18:37:58.755Z
2015 Less Wrong Study Hall census is open. 2015-03-15T21:02:55.717Z
The Hostile Arguer 2014-11-27T00:30:28.235Z
Less Wrong Study Hall - Year 1 Retrospective 2014-03-18T01:54:45.308Z
Continuity in Uploading 2014-01-17T22:57:22.853Z
Finding interesting communities 2013-05-30T15:31:15.773Z
Claiming Connotations 2012-12-09T23:40:37.485Z

Comments

Comment by Error on Reflections on Less Online · 2024-07-08T21:27:38.689Z · LW · GW

Yeah, the source post for the plate metaphor is one of the more enlightening things I've gotten out of the rationalsphere outside of ACX or the Sequences.

I didn't get much out of the supply cabinets myself because I travel heavy, but I loved that they existed. The universal whiteboards I wish I could mimic, but most of my wallspace is spoken for. The high-quality display mounts are definitely something I want to copy if I can get away with it (does anyone know the model?), though I think my apartment complex might complain about me bolting equipment to the walls. 

Most useful specific amenity for me was the default availability of food/snacks/water/coke (though coke sometimes ran out). Personal fuel management is a substantial interrupter and brainwidth cost at most conventions.

ETA: I do wonder if I can get some of the "empty plate" effect at home by carving out specific days for "no obligation-processing (including social obligations)". Not a Sabbath-style day of rest from everything, just from "I need to handle X" things. The problem, of course, would be enforcing it in large enough blocks to be useful. Going cross-country for a week ties me to the mast in a way that might be difficult to replicate.

Comment by Error on Reflections on Less Online · 2024-07-08T21:14:14.822Z · LW · GW

Set up a small monthly donation. Doubt it will help much on its own, but maybe enough others think like me that the sum will.

Comment by Error on Reflections on Less Online · 2024-07-08T21:09:05.023Z · LW · GW

Thanks, fixed. I could swear I looked that up, I have no idea how I still got it wrong.

Comment by Error on (Not) Derailing the LessOnline Puzzle Hunt · 2024-06-04T04:09:34.294Z · LW · GW

Both my request and her response were more humorous than serious, though the writeup doesn't fully capture it (and I just edited it to clarify). I don't actually expect a prize. Though I'm thinking of taking my medallion back out to keep, if it's still there. :-P

Comment by Error on LessOnline (May 31—June 2, Berkeley, CA) · 2024-05-10T22:17:25.939Z · LW · GW

Thanks. I thought of two more questions after posting:

  1. Any laundry facilities? (i.e. if I stay a week, will I need clothes for a week?)
  2. Any refunds if I book a bed/ticket and can't make it? (I'll understand if not, of course; but I have another, much busier event (Momocon) the weekend before, so there's an elevated chance I'll catch con plague at the least convenient possible time)
  3. [edit]: Possible bug report: I notice one of the shared-dorm rooms has different (higher) pricing than all the others, despite identical descriptions.
Comment by Error on LessOnline (May 31—June 2, Berkeley, CA) · 2024-05-09T23:41:33.050Z · LW · GW

I see no general-inquiries address on less.online, so I hope it's okay if I post them here. Longtime rationalsphere lurker, much rarer poster, considering going. I'm based in Atlanta and pricing the trip:

  1. It's not clear from the page what the 'summer camp' part of the schedule is. To me that phrase connotes 'for kids', but I'm not sure, so I'm not sure if it's worth it to me to stay extra days. [EDIT: Never mind, I see this was answered below.]
  2. What's the nearest major airport, and is Lighthaven accessible from there by train and/or uber? (i.e. will I need a rental car)
  3. What's the washroom situation like for the shared dorms vs. private rooms? (I take long showers and worry about blocking others.)
  4. Most of the shared dorms don't list a building, just "shared dorms". Where are they relative to the rest of the facility?
  5. What's local connectivity like? (I can stay longer if I can plausibly respond to work emergencies).

[EDIT: And, I just realized this announcement was over a month ago, I'm not sure how I missed it at the time or why I just noticed it now. Dunno if you or anyone else will see this. I'll wait a day in case someone does, then try a PM or something.]

Comment by Error on What DALL-E 2 can and cannot do · 2022-05-04T21:52:11.190Z · LW · GW

Ah, that put me on the right track. I've been asking google the wrong questions; I was looking for a downloadable program that I could run, but it looks like some (all?) of the interesting things in this space are server-side-only. Which I guess makes sense; presumably gargantuan hardware is required.

Comment by Error on What DALL-E 2 can and cannot do · 2022-05-04T17:47:55.371Z · LW · GW

The Bill Watterson one requires me to request black bears attacking a black forest campground at midnight.

Optionally: "...as pixel art".

I have to ask, how does one get hold of any of the programs in this vein? I've seen Gwern's TWDNE, and now your experiments with DALL-E, and I'd love to mess with them myself but have no idea where to go. A bit of googling suggests one can buy GPT3 time from OpenAI, but I gather that's for text generation, which I can do just fine already.

Comment by Error on What would you like from Microcovid.org? How valuable would it be to you? · 2021-12-30T01:44:35.720Z · LW · GW

The main thing I've gotten out of microcovid is reduced search costs. Having ballpark figures for the relative effects of situations and interventions, gathered in one place, by a source I consider reasonably trustworthy, makes it much cheaper to estimate which risks are worth taking and which interventions are worth bothering with.

"Trustworthy" in this context means "someone systematically looking for the correct numbers, as opposed to targeting a bottom line chosen for reasons other than correctness." As with most politicized information, the problem isn't that the information is unavailable, but that most sources are acting in bad faith. Noise drowns out the signal until search costs become prohibitive. Your whitepaper in particular is excellent in this respect. Showing your work goes a long way towards demonstrating good faith; sharing your sources is better; sharing how and why you're using them is best of all.

Even just having the available options collected together helped. I didn't know P100s were a thing until I read your whitepaper. I use one to attend otherwise-riskier-than-I'd-like events in relative safety and comfort.

It's a shame that Microcovid's numbers haven't been updated for omicron -- that would be the first item on my wishlist, along with the booster and test numbers mentioned in other comments -- but that doesn't diminish the work you've already done. Your team provided an identifiable signal in the noise, and I love it for that.

[edit: since you ask for dollar values, I'd be willing to contribute say $1k towards getting the numbers updated for omicron, tests, and boosters -- provided that it was done to similar standards and preferably by the same team. That's less because I'd derive that much value out of it personally (at this point I know what I need to) and more that I think this sort of work is an underfunded public good.]

Comment by Error on What are the pros and cons of seeking a formal diagnosis of autism? · 2021-12-30T00:49:38.505Z · LW · GW

Many people seem to find a formal diagnosis helpful for understanding themselves

Anecdote: I was in this camp, for sufficiently low values of "formal." I went to a psychologist to get checked out for autism (among other things) five or ten years ago. After testing, he said that he wouldn't personally diagnose me, but that I was close enough to the line that if I shopped around I could probably find someone who would. I said that was fine -- it told me what I wanted to know.

(hilariously, I also scored rather high on schizophrenia. His reaction went something like "Okay, obviously you're not schizophrenic. Analytical personalities of the sort that take ideas and moral systems seriously just read that way on the tests. You're not schizo, you're just weird.")

Comment by Error on Zvi’s Thoughts on the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF) · 2021-12-15T16:54:26.490Z · LW · GW

The only concierge service I know about, which I somehow got access to, is completely useless to me because it assumes I’m super rich, and I’m not, and also the people who work there can’t follow basic directions or handle anything at all non-standard.

This is my experience, too, with almost any form of assistance. Actual thinking about the task is absent.

It's annoying, because an obnoxiously large proportion of life goes towards 1. doing all the fiddly stupid bits, 2. procrastinating about doing all the fiddly stupid bits, and 3. worrying about procrastinating too much about doing all the fiddly stupid bits. I would love to not have to deal with that. I've automated or outsourced everything I can, but it's never enough.

I suspect the degree of life-competence needed to be good at “personal assistant tasks” is scarce enough that anyone capable of doing it well is also capable of getting a job that pays better. General personal assistance requires non-cached thought, and most people can't do that on demand, if ever. Task-specific assistance can often be had at a reasonable price, because trainable habits can make up for thought. Sadly, in most cases that just replaces the original task with a more-difficult acquire-task-appropriate-services task, so it's only worth it for long-term maintenance, like cleaning.

...having written that, I wonder if there's a task-specific assistant service for "finding good task-specific services and arranging their help." Probably not. Knowing who's good at X often requires being good at X to begin with.

(unimportant, but related and maybe interesting: I get my groceries curbside or delivered. I'd rather pay for delivery, most of the time, but the curbside service is significantly more accurate and less interaction-required. I think it's because curbside groceries are collected by store employees who can proxy-shop the store by habit, while deliveries are third-party and less familiar with the specific store)

Comment by Error on The 2021 Less Wrong Darwin Game · 2021-09-25T15:00:48.364Z · LW · GW

Thanks, and you're welcome.

Hrm. So testing organisms takes a while. Oh well. I might try to parallelize it, but I don't actually know hy, I'm just blindly translating python idioms, and concurrency is hard.

I notice that the hy version in the ubuntu repos will not run the program, apparently due to an upstream bug. The version from pip will. I mention this in case anyone else runs into the same hiccup.

Comment by Error on The 2021 Less Wrong Darwin Game · 2021-09-25T02:20:22.079Z · LW · GW

I want to test my organisms before submitting them and noticed there wasn't a way to tell the program to use my species files instead of the one in the repo. Also, the shabang line breaks on systems that aren't yours.

I sent you an MR covering both, but I don't know if you're watching them so I figured I'd mention it here.

Is it normal for it to take a couple seconds per generation to run?

Comment by Error on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-02-13T16:04:59.991Z · LW · GW

"Buying expertise" seems like a good candidate. A friend might prefer to pay me to fix their computer, instead of taking it to a shop, because they know I won't tell them they need an expensive frobnitz unless they actually do. My cheerful price might be higher than the shop's, but it could easily be worth it. A similar situation probably applies to car mechanics.

Comment by Error on New Empty Units · 2021-01-27T15:33:34.408Z · LW · GW

Not at all a serious suggestion, but it popped into my head: You could solve this problem by making other forms of money laundering more convenient than real estate.

(or making real estate laundering less convenient/riskier, but that's not as funny a thought)

The use of real estate as a store of value/unit of exchange makes me think of an old Diablo II issue. Officially, the medium of exchange in D2 was gold. In practice, it was a relatively rare item called the Stone of Jordan.

How did this happen? For a time, a serious bug allowed players to dupe items easily. Many of them chose to dupe the Stone. After the bug was fixed, players were left with a relatively fixed supply of a high-value item that used little inventory space. It worked very well as both a store and a medium, modulo developer attempts to clean up dupes. Thereafter, I understand that most high-level transactions were done with what amounted to counterfeit currency.

I don't know if that's still the case. I do know at one point the developer created a quest that could only be triggered by destroying Stones, presumably in an attempt to get rid of the counterfeits.

Comment by Error on A dozen habits that work for me · 2021-01-07T04:10:46.265Z · LW · GW

"Mental constipation" is an awesome phrase for a phenomenon I really hate having.

Comment by Error on "On Bullshit" and "On Truth," by Harry Frankfurt · 2020-09-01T00:54:01.380Z · LW · GW

suffer enough of it and you’ll become a connoisseur of it, able to enjoy it, but having also fallen into an attractor that keeps you from enjoying the greater joy of what simply is

A pattern of bullshit becomes a stable orbit in the space of lies.

Comment by Error on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-18T21:58:37.597Z · LW · GW

It doesn't sound like this would require much in the way of coordination. That makes me a bit more hopeful about it than most options. Less room for a tragedy of the commons. Once demonstrated safe and effective, individuals and businesses could deploy UV lighting and derive benefit from it, without worrying about whether their investment will be wasted by the inaction of others.

Comment by Error on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T18:20:56.688Z · LW · GW

How did you implement the button? I run a small site, love the idea, and would like to do something similar.

Comment by Error on Dual Wielding · 2019-08-29T02:46:18.901Z · LW · GW

Datum: I have a Pixel 3 (known for a relatively small battery) and the only time battery becomes an issue is when I forget to put it on the charger overnight.

But I don't watch video (too small a screen), play games (ditto), send email (fuck phone keyboards), or do much of anything but SMS, rare phone calls, and internet lookups when I'm away from a keyboard. I think a lot of worrywarting over phone battery capacity stems from trying to use them for things that are better done on a real computer.

That said, I got an external battery after reading this post. I have one use case: at conventions, when I use it constantly to read the schedule. Buying something for a single use case seemed out of line at first, but eventually I thought of it this way: if I'm willing to spend $30 for slightly more convenient parking, I should be willing to spend $30 to stop worrying about phone charge forever.

Comment by Error on Agency and Sphexishness: A Second Glance · 2019-04-17T14:24:10.032Z · LW · GW

To change something, you must first describe it. To describe something, you must first see it. Hold still in one place for as long as it takes to see something

-- Diane Duane

Comment by Error on Agency and Sphexishness: A Second Glance · 2019-04-17T14:18:44.824Z · LW · GW

Also, meta decisions take time to bring fruit at the object level, so when you make plans, you should spend the following days executing the plans instead of adjusting them; otherwise you decide without feedback.

Execution is Actual Work, though! Noooooooooooooooo!

(I'm adding that to my fortune file. I could use the reminder from time to time.)

Comment by Error on Agency and Sphexishness: A Second Glance · 2019-04-16T17:21:05.977Z · LW · GW

I wonder what distinguishes sphexishness from a simple habit. They're both unreflective, automatic, default behaviors, and "bad habits" are just habits that fail to achieve goals. But they feel different to me. The best I can come up with is something like: habits are in theory changeable, whereas an actual sphex wasp will never change its behavior based on experience. Habits are acting sphexish.

But we need habits. I'm reminded of this:

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle -- they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

-- Alfred North Whitehead

So I think I agree with you about noticing and agency. Agency isn't the opposite of sphexishness. But it does seem to require choosing when to act so, and that requires noticing when you're doing it.

(somewhere in my unposted-blog-notes folder is something about noticing that horrible mental loop where I click random links all over the web, no matter how much I'm not-enjoying-myself, because I can't seem to context-switch. I titled it "Noticing Boredom.")

Comment by Error on Literature Review: Distributed Teams · 2019-04-16T16:55:16.143Z · LW · GW

Suggestion: Attach or link these, rather than putting them inline in a comment. I like that they're available, but I had to scroll down many screens to find the actual comments.

Comment by Error on Double-Dipping in Dunning--Kruger · 2018-11-28T05:12:57.481Z · LW · GW

I observe that the idea of incorrectly believing I'm bad at something doesn't disturb me much, while the idea of incorrectly believing I'm good at something is mortifying.

I smell some kind of social signaling here.

Comment by Error on Human-Aligned AI Summer School: A Summary · 2018-08-10T01:05:45.549Z · LW · GW

Written as "Human-Aligned Summer School", I first read it as an educational experiment aimed at not making kids suffer. For some reason I find the misinterpretation hilarious.

Comment by Error on Mapping the Social Mind (Buttons) · 2018-04-28T22:41:05.317Z · LW · GW

This seems related to something I've been thinking about recently: That the concept of "belief" would benefit from an analysis along the lines of How an Algorithm Feels from the Inside. What we describe as our "beliefs" are sometimes a map of the world (in the beliefs-paying-rent sense), and sometimes a signal to our social group that we share their map of the world, and sometimes a declaration of values, and probably sometimes other (often contradictory) things as well. But we act as if there's a single mental concept underlying them. The ambiguities are hard to shake out, I think because the signal version is only useful if it pretends to be the map version.

(I feel sour about human nature whenever I start thinking about this, because it leaves me feeling like almost all communication is either speaking in bad faith, or displaying a complete lack of intellectual integrity, or both)

Comment by Error on I'm going to help you quit Facebook with some science · 2018-04-12T15:39:47.286Z · LW · GW

I don't use Facebook, but I should try something similar with my RSS feeds.

I find it interesting that facebook responds to commenting by showing you more of the same. IIRC, posts that aggravate people are also the most likely to inspire them to comment. That suggests Facebook is effectively rigged to piss you off.

Does that match people's experience? It matches my priors, but they're weak priors, since I won't touch the service with a ten foot pole.

Comment by Error on Announcing Rational Newsletter · 2018-04-02T15:21:30.452Z · LW · GW

An RSS feed would be nice. Aside from that, I like it. Curation of content is a lengthy and undervalued service.

Comment by Error on Should we remove markdown parsing from the comment editor? · 2018-03-12T21:33:38.290Z · LW · GW

Voting to deactivate MD parsing inside the WYSIWYG editor, provided a MD-only editor still exists. A tool should do one thing well.

I'll copy my comment from the other thread in here, though, since it's relevant: Don't hide the alternate editor in the user profile. Make it selectable when commenting, and remember the selection. Quite aside from making it immediately obvious that there's more than one way to post, it means you can measure users' preferences by seeing what they use to post with, with much less selection bias (owing to much less inconvenience for the non-default option).

Comment by Error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to LessWrong.com · 2018-03-12T21:24:57.498Z · LW · GW

I was disappointed by the new site, but still voted to migrate. The conversation is here, and content is king. Despite my bitching, your team deserves a great deal of credit just for breathing life back into the community.

That being said:

Performance was a big complaint, and kept me off lesserwrong until greaterwrong showed up, but you already know about that and for all I know it may have been fixed. My complaints are less with lesserwrong itself than with modern web design in general, and are mainly variants on "use of javascript as a first resort instead of a last resort," "interfaces that want you to notice them," and "overly complex underlying mechanics." In short, lesserwrong may well be a fantastically engineered site, designed under a paradigm I am predisposed to despise. Discount my opinions accordingly.

(if I may nerdrage for a moment, the top navbar that folds down as soon as I scroll up, covering the text I scrolled up to see, is a common web misfeature that should die and its inventor should be forced to play a variant of the transparent newcomb's problem where both boxes contain tigers.)

Note that the fact that greaterwrong can even exist (that is, that there's an API with enough power and stability to make an alternate interface) is a huge win, and you and whoever else made the decision to allow third party clients deserve +gazillion karma for it. ...but I still have to complain that said API is not documented.

Checking lesserwrong itself for the first time since GW became available, it looks as if it has improved. The comment box in particular is less odious, and the site as a whole no longer seems to grind my browser to a halt. These are good improvements. I'm sure there are other things not obvious at first glance.

If you do want to chat with a quasi-naysayer, I'm on the LW Slack as Error, on Freenode #lesswrong as ehs, and on xmpp as error@xmpp.feymarch.net. I'm best reached in the afternoons, eastern time.

Comment by Error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to LessWrong.com · 2018-03-12T20:21:13.799Z · LW · GW

Okay, cool. As long as it's on your radar.

Comment by Error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to LessWrong.com · 2018-03-12T16:49:27.632Z · LW · GW

This is a concern for me too. A suggestion I made in feedback: Don't break inbound links. Keep the old site, static, under archive.lesswrong.com or something, and redirect classic-format url paths to the archive.

There is a lot of valuable material on the classic site. It might not be useful for current discussion, but let's not lose it, or let it get buried on archive.org.

(come to think of it, if maintaining an archive is itself unworkable, a redirect to archive.org might be an acceptable next-best alternative)

Comment by Error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to LessWrong.com · 2018-03-12T16:31:46.988Z · LW · GW

I would. WYSIWYG is a terrible editing paradigm, but some people like it, so I won't argue against providing it. Trying to mix WYSIWYG with markup-based editing, though, is far worse.

I further suggest that the plain option not be hidden out of the way. Make it selectable when commenting, and remember the selection. I wasn't even aware it existed until just now.

(edit: To be fair, I'm probably going to keep using greaterwrong regardless. Discount my opinion to whatever extent applies)

Comment by Error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T18:42:11.441Z · LW · GW

I don't think that edit was present when I composed, but thanks.

Comment by Error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T17:51:12.367Z · LW · GW

For users that aren't satisfied with those and don't mind speaking CSS, Stylish and similar browser extensions are an option. I picked up css customization mainly to add max-width to body text that does not have it, but it's good for pretty much any case where you think a site designer's choices were unwise.

Comment by Error on An Apology is a Surrender · 2018-02-19T17:40:07.870Z · LW · GW

many more people want you to surrender to them than it is good for you to surrender to, and the world is full of people who will demand your apology (and make it seem socially mandatory) for things you do not or should not regret.

This was my first thought, too. I'm all in favor of the argument against weasel apologies, but sometimes the reason you're giving a weasel apology is that, by your own lights, you didn't do anything wrong.

Weasel apologies are never appropriate, but sometimes a sincere one also isn't appropriate. Sometimes the appropriate response is "No, I did the right thing here. Sorry, but no social surrender will be forthcoming." You'll have to accept the probable social consequences, of course, but that's part of the price of integrity.

Comment by Error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T17:19:05.913Z · LW · GW

Why not just make the LW2 site better, rather than make another site and have two sites that do the same thing?

A choice of clients is good for users. If an interface sucks, but multiple clients are available, you can switch to one with an interface that does not suck. If no clients have interfaces that do not suck, in principle you have the option of writing your own, which seems to be what happened here.

The best people at administering a service are not necessarily the best at programming a UI, and vice-versa. Allowing alternate clients lets you make use of comparative advantage.

Competition between clients is good for users for the same reasons it is good for customers in the market. New features are created for advantage; good ones are copied and spread. Niche preferences (especially those of power users) stand a chance of getting accounted for.

In short, multiple robust clients makes all clients better. If I may mount my hobby horse for a moment, the lack of client (and service) choice is part of why "modern" web clients still have not caught up to 90s-era newsreaders. This can only be a good thing for LW.

Why do more people need to know this particular email-password combination?

This one is a complaint I think I agree with, although the issue only affects web clients. From the LW2 thread it sounds like the author is working on it.

Comment by Error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T17:02:32.218Z · LW · GW

I've been using this for a while (actually using the rss feed from it), but I don't know where I got the link and I had no idea it was a secret project. May you receive a 50% karma bonus/turn.

How is this engineered under the hood? Something like nginx->greaterwrongapp->LW2 API-> LW2 database? You note elsewhere in the thread that GW uses the same underlying database as LW2. I find it unlikely that the LW2 DB is exposed to the open net (at least it shouldn't be O_O), so something else is going on.

That you could do this at all suggests there's an API stable enough for third parties to use....which suggests a native client might be possible...which is of interest to me, but the last time I asked if there was a documented API I didn't get an answer.

(I see your link to GraphQL, but am unsure how it fits into the picture)

Comment by Error on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-30T22:52:29.534Z · LW · GW

Individual incentives to back something collectively terrible seems like textbook Moloch to me.

(which doesn't imply that you're wrong, of course)

Comment by Error on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T00:10:43.308Z · LW · GW

I notice I am confused. 60 times more than all other computers combined would imply that >98% of human compute capacity is tied up in the bitcoin network. That seems...unlikely.

Comment by Error on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-28T21:47:16.521Z · LW · GW

For my part, it was one part trivial inconveniences, one part that it read like woo. I was aware it existed through other avenues (I wasn't a Less Wronger then), and aware of what it was trying to do, and I had the technical acumen to get in on it if I had so chosen. Given that, I'm a little bitter that I didn't do so. I could retire today if I had. I could get into it today, of course, but now that everybody knows it's a magic money making machine I suspect a bubble is well underway. I don't want to be in when it breaks.

I'm a little worried about Bitcoin's externalities. The mining process consumes more and more energy, and professional miners are driving up hardware costs. Which might be fine if most transactions were, well, transactions, i.e. if we're getting human value out of the work. But I get the impression that the vast majority of the network's effort goes towards playing musical chairs with money, and that seems bad.

Bitcoin doesn't feel woo-ish, anymore, but it's starting to feel paperclippy instead.

Comment by Error on Beta - First Impressions · 2017-10-17T15:11:11.866Z · LW · GW

Re: dynamism and lag, one thing that really makes me suspicious is the cycling of the tab title. Something is looping in the background after the page is done loading. I'm no web developer (I do python cantrips, mostly) but I might poke around myself. What do you use for profiling?

By topbar I think I mean the app bar. The one across the top. I would prefer if, on widescreens, it were placed along the side (where the foldout menu appears, perhaps) in order to maximize available vertical space. That's an aesthetic preference, though. I do really like that it doesn't chase my scrolling down the page, or pop up whenever I scroll back, like some sites I could name. Thank you for that.

Is there a documented API for the site, by the way? Is it in principle possible to develop a native client?

Comment by Error on Beta - First Impressions · 2017-10-17T05:46:14.564Z · LW · GW

My own four cents:

Visually this is a noticeable improvement. Cleaner design. Larger body text with reasonable max-width. Less UI "noise". I haven't messed around much with the interface; there are probably other positives. Only significant visual regression is the lack of alternating colors on comments.

(a few people have noted that the new visual scheme isn't all that site-distinctive; I'm not sure if I like it that way or not)

I see posts from names I haven't seen on LW proper in a while, which is a good sign. Content is king.

That said, some preferences the new site violates:

  1. Lag. I get it mostly when scrolling or doing text input, rather than loading. I am not sure how much of that is the site's fault or my machine. I am tempted to blame it on the site, because...

  2. Overly dynamic interface. I don't know what your performance bottlenecks are (I assume you're profiling and know better than me), but I see elements that could easily be static sidebars turned into foldouts, or the popup formatting overlay, or whatever it is that's making the titles on my tabs change, and...well, it smells like lagbait. Code that doesn't run can't cause performance problems, and none of that stuff is necessary. (also I don't like it stylistically, but I admit my tastes are technologically ascetic.)

  3. Speaking of the formatting overlay: I see no way to compose in plain text with markup...any form of markup. I favor markdown, but the specific format is irrelevant, any of the modern LMLs will do. I want to not be fighting the editor (right now I'm fighting the list detection and undo), if I am thinking about the editor I am not thinking about my post, and I want the option of composing nontrivial posts in my editor of choice. If I can't copy-paste marked-up text into the posting interface, it will be either enraging (if I use it) or useless (if I don't).

  4. There should be no topbar or bottombar, at least not on widescreen displays. I appreciate that the topbar here isn't nearly as obstructive as many other sites. I can actually see the body text without scrolling first! But horizontal space is practically free and vertical space is priceless. UI chrome should eat the former, not the latter.

Sometimes you have to clear rubble before you can build, and I know that's what this project is all about, so I'm not complaining too hard about regressions. The only dealbreaker for me right now is the editor. If I can't compose in plain text without interference, I probably won't be posting at all.

Comment by Error on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T20:12:17.183Z · LW · GW

Thanks, that's the one.

Comment by Error on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T17:38:09.244Z · LW · GW

I'm looking for an anecdote about sunk costs. Two executives were discussing some bad business situation, one of them asks "look, suppose the board were to fire us and bring new execs in. What would those guys do?" "Get us out of the X business" "Then what's to stop us from leaving the room, coming back in, and doing exactly that?"

...but all my google-fu can't turn up the original source. Does it sound familiar to anyone here?

Comment by Error on In support of yak shaving part 2 · 2017-07-17T15:46:44.246Z · LW · GW

Honestly, mostly phone calls. It sounds silly, but I have a paralytic fear of calling strangers, and that leads me to procrastinate far more than is normal even for me. Making someone else do things like (for today's example) call around to find someone who will take a couch I'm trying to donate ensures that it doesn't stay in the middle of the spare room for 6-12 months while I dither.

Comment by Error on Against lone wolf self-improvement · 2017-07-07T16:20:04.128Z · LW · GW

A qualifier: If you're going to do this, make sure it's a class where the other people in the class actually want to be there. Otherwise the social reinforcement will be misdirected. This is an obvious failure mode of grade school and a less-obvious failure mode for the sort of extracurriculars where the students are there mostly by parental insistence.

(also, make sure you actually want to be there too. Otherwise you'll be the one screwing it up.)

Comment by Error on Why I think worse than death outcomes are not a good reason for most people to avoid cryonics · 2017-06-11T18:05:42.101Z · LW · GW

Not all tail risk is created equal. Assume your remaining natural lifespan is L years, and revival tech will be invented R years after that. Refusing to kill yourself is effectively betting that no inescapable worse-than-death future will occur in the next L years; refusing cryonics is effectively betting the same, but for the next L + R years.

Assuming revival tech is invented only after you die, the probability of ending up in some variation of hell is strictly greater with cryonics than without it -- even if both chances are very small -- simply because hell has more time to get started.

It's debatable how large the difference is between the probabilities, of course. But some risk thresholds legitimately fall between the two.

(upvoting even though I disagree with your conclusion -- I think it's an interesting line of thought)

Comment by Error on A new, better way to read the Sequences · 2017-06-04T18:50:49.693Z · LW · GW

Typo in the evolutionary psychology chapter: "We compress this gargantuan historicalstatistical macrofact by saying “evolution did it.”

"Historicalstatistical" should have a hyphen in it. Original