Comment by firstorderpredicate on Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school · 2013-10-09T21:39:32.925Z · LW · GW

Well, we're still waiting on that proof of the Riemann Hypothesis.

Seriously however, how about introducing him to the Collatz Conjecture? Something to mull over when the vanilla work is finished. And given his interests, he'll no doubt think of multiple ways of attacking the problem. I saw chess, computers and videogames listed as interests, so he perhaps he could try writing a chess engine from scratch. Design the algorithms in class and code them at home.

These suggestions might be a little advanced for eight years old, but I expect the boredom problem will get worse over time.

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Introducing Familiar, a quantified reasoning assistant (feedback sought!) · 2013-07-24T07:16:05.749Z · LW · GW

I've just started playing with it now so these are just initial thoughts:

1) Command Line History would be really nice: Messing up a command (new-prd $var1 (fn ....) and having to retype from scratch is a pain. Although if you get a nice GUI it won't matter;

2) (Never mind; I can't reproduce it now) (After I did (change-time (days -1)); (data ..) nothing was returned from (entered) _ ;

3) Allowing data to be entered via a source file might be nice, but I suppose a script would work ok too. Perhaps I should write a Perl script to convert CSV into Familiar data?

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Daily Schedules in Combating Akrasia · 2013-07-22T23:22:01.286Z · LW · GW

I schedule my tasks on a week basis (using an app I developed) instead of every day, but the process is similar. It seems to be working quite well for at least six months now. I got better results after I increased my estimates of how long my tasks take. (Occasionally my app will schedule ughhy tasks first thing on a Monday morning. If people are interested, I'll report back whether I manage to successfully avoid postponing them :)

What I still need to work on is returning to planning after an upheaval like sickness or holidays. I'd be interested to hear how your process copes with that. At the very least, you have five/seven more opportunities to return to planning as opposed to losing a whole week. One thing I didn't read was how you determine what tasks you'll do in a particular day?

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Does anchoring on deadlines cause procrastination? · 2013-07-19T00:08:29.658Z · LW · GW

I think deadlines are a sufficient condition for procrastination but not a necessary one. And even starting a project earlier is no guarantee of avoiding a last minute crunch. (When I was studying I'd start projects on time, get the "hard parts" done, but still end up finishing them off at the last minute. Whether that's a function of anchoring or just plain vanilla Planning Fallacy, I'm not sure).

Without a deadline, can you still procrastinate? Of course, but the consequences of not starting are less immediate, but still potentially severe. If you don't finish writing an essay by the deadline, you fail a course. If you don't submit an application, nothing happens now, but restrict your options later. If you never exercise, you're more likely to get sick as you age.

So having decided to start, how do you maintain momentum? From a comment above, breaking down a single project into sub tasks with their own deadlines is a great start. But there's still a trap here - the comforting thought that some sub tasks will take less time than others, and you've got heaps of time to the actual deadline to catch up. Quantifying what you'll achieve (e.g. I will write the introduction and conclusion by the end of the week) provides a concrete goal and also harder to lie to yourself about how much time you have.

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Caught in the glare of two anthropic shadows · 2013-07-04T23:37:49.833Z · LW · GW

Segment time into arbitrarily “eras”

Trivial nitpick: Missing word between arbitrarily and "eras". I couldn't quite work out from context whether it should be 'large', 'small', or 'sized'. Naturally, it doesn't affect the argument, being arbitrary.

Comment by firstorderpredicate on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-03T01:25:34.002Z · LW · GW

Note: Firstorderpredicate's response isn't as condescending as it sounds, it's a Methods of Rationality quote.

Yes. (Spoilers deleted; Awfully sorry)

Comment by firstorderpredicate on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-02T21:27:40.913Z · LW · GW

It's in the same domain. The difference is that, as far as I can tell, Things seems to be about ongoing task management, and you still need to set due dates for your tasks. The purpose of PlanMyWeek is that proposes a date/time for tasks, on a (typically) week basis. It's meant to augment tools like Things, Calendars and Reminders.

The other difference, in Things (like everything else I've looked at) there's no separation of urgency and importance, just priority. The problem there is that, while the urgent and important map to the highest priority, if you constantly rank your tasks in this manner, you risk "starving" the important but not urgent tasks, until they become urgent.

Comment by firstorderpredicate on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-02T20:53:52.158Z · LW · GW

My initial goal was to do five hundred in a fifty-two day period, but unfortunately it's looking like this might have been overly ambitious.

"Awww, it sounds like someone fell prey to the planning fallacy." :)

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-02T20:33:37.376Z · LW · GW

Wouldn't it be a good idea to at least ask? Professor E-V might not have ideas, but he would have contacts at Oxford where he/Harry could find other ideas. The downside is that, by involving the non magical world, his family and those contacts will become bigger targets. And I suspect Harry would be loathe to expose them with an unknown enemy with largely unknown capabilities.

Comment by firstorderpredicate on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-02T20:26:16.777Z · LW · GW

Talking about marketing, have you done any market research to determine if there's any demand for your game? Or is that step one in your strategy? I'm asking because I'm currently learning how to do marketing myself, and "discovered" I've done things backwards by building a product first.

If there are experienced marketers here, they might consider creating a post at LessWrong. I'm sure they won't be shy :)

Comment by firstorderpredicate on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-02T20:09:02.552Z · LW · GW

Plan My Week iPhone App - schedules your tasks for a week, depending on duration, urgency, and importance.

  • I developed the app because I was suffering analysis paralysis trying to develop the perfect plan. See this LessWrong post for a better description. My goals for the project are two fold - 1) Use automation to cure my planning analysis paralysis (success); 2) Release the app and turn it into a commercial product. (In progress)

Chess Machine Learning - Trying to teach a neural network how to play chess. I've written a couple of bog standard tree search programs, but I wondered if you could teach a NN to recognize and generate legal moves given a position. The eventual goal is to get it to play interesting, non computer chess; it doesn't have to be strong. Probably not novel or groundbreaking, but ideas kept popping into my head so I just started coding :)

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Common failure modes in habit formation · 2013-06-28T07:47:04.725Z · LW · GW

Becoming too task oriented as well is a bit of trap. As you tick off lots of unimportant tasks, you pat yourself on the back on how effective you are. You risk adding more and more tasks without considering how they fit in with your goals. (This might be what unconsciously goes in the mind of students and writers when they spring clean their houses instead of writing or studying.) Having said that, having a plan that you then act on (and not ignore) is better than not accomplishing anything at all.

I'm not sure how easy a "Plan B" is. If you can anticipate the ways in which your plan fails, why not just incorporate them into "Plan A"? Alternatively I would suggest adding a little flexibility. Evaluating the outcome of your plans should help also. But I really like the "Granularize" and "Quantifying Results". I wish you had written this three months ago. It explains why I'm having so much trouble accomplishing a task. (Develop a marketing plan for an app to be specific.)

Additionally, I especially suffered analysis paralysis by chasing perfection. I'd spend hours shifting tasks around and feel guilty that I spent so much time not getting stuff done. It was for this reason that I built an app to automate my planning process. (Shamful Plug . Currently free for all LessWrong readers.) As a time saving device it's been ok, but it's real benefit is in knowing that I've committed to accomplishing certain tasks and being able to refer to the plan when I get behind or ahead. There's also nothing better than being able to add tasks at odd moments when they pop into your head, instead of sitting down later and thinking "what did I have to do again?".

So I'll finished then on an obvious note: Whatever process or tool you use, you need to record it and not rely on your memory. Because you're more likely to only remember the urgent tasks and delay the important ones.

Comment by firstorderpredicate on Unlimited Pomodoro Works: My Scheduling System · 2013-05-14T07:22:44.147Z · LW · GW

ETA: Also, upvoted. I like reading things like this -- it helps me get a feel for systems that I personally haven't set up without having to go to the trouble of actually doing so.

Well in that case this won't count as spam :)

I've developed an iPhone app called PlanMyWeek where you describe your tasks, tap a button and then the app schedules the tasks for you.

I was going to prepare a post that when using the app, how quickly it becomes apparent I've fallen for the Planning Fallacy, but this seemed like a good opportunity as any.