Posts

Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? 2019-11-26T19:20:04.622Z · score: 86 (27 votes)
[link] "Paper strips" memory technique 2018-10-06T12:11:35.248Z · score: 13 (6 votes)
Moral frameworks and the Harris/Klein debate 2018-05-03T09:49:03.626Z · score: 14 (7 votes)
[LINK] How to increase conscientiousness 2013-10-04T15:26:16.002Z · score: 0 (7 votes)
[LINK] Why Your Customers Would Be Happier If You Charged More 2012-09-21T20:10:39.525Z · score: 0 (7 votes)
Heading off a near-term AGI arms race 2012-08-22T14:23:58.382Z · score: 7 (18 votes)
How to enjoy being wrong 2011-07-27T05:48:01.005Z · score: 20 (25 votes)

Comments

Comment by lincolnquirk on Open & Welcome Thread - September 2020 · 2020-09-17T16:34:19.644Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Have you read https://www.benkuhn.net/hard/ ? Curious what you think. (Disclosure: I started the company that Ben works for, which does not have hard eng problems but does have a high potential for social impact)

Comment by lincolnquirk on A Scalable Urban Design and the Single Building City · 2020-07-27T02:04:29.477Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nice post. I’m excited - is there a place where people who want to work on this sort of thing / live there can coordinate?

Comment by lincolnquirk on If you are signed up for cryonics with life insurance, how much life insurance did you get and over what term? · 2020-07-22T12:22:56.441Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

$100k and $250k are standardized life insurance amounts which over-fund CI by a lot. I can get a $100k 10-year term life at $11/mo and a $250k one for $15/mo. I currently get $100k life insurance through my company so I just did that. Smaller than $100k doesn’t seem worth thinking about.

I do expect to pay out of pocket once I have saved enough money for the cost not to matter, because I want to stop dealing with the logistics of proof of insurance.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Maximizing impact at startup with high EA potential? · 2020-06-12T11:45:49.548Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(Context: I’m an EA aligned startup founder. I wish my employees asked questions like this :) )

First and foremost, grow into a great employee and team member. This may sound self-serving, but it’s not: I think the employees who are individually great end up in thought leadership roles — I trust them more and thus give them a lot more leeway, and then those employees can start making their own decisions and expand the scope of what we do.

I suspect that what makes employees great is different in different companies, but there are certainly likely to be similarities: cultural resonance, individual effectiveness, and communication/cooperation skills.

Second, start thinking long term but be impatient in the short term. If you really like this company and want to grow within it, and think it can support you in your growth, then your marginal impact per hour of work is likely to increase by at least an order of magnitude over the next several years. There are lots of things you can do to accelerate this trend, and you should take those opportunities — but I tend to think that trust-building takes time. Try to avoid being marginalized, and make sure your work is seen. But (at least over the first few months to a couple years) you should avoid making many short-term tradeoffs which will delay the point where you reach maximum marginal impact in the long term.

Leadership training is highly underrated. If you’ve never done management/leadership training, you can get a lot from online resources (e.g. Manager Tools podcast and such); beyond that I think there’s still a lot of gains to be had from courses, individual coaches, etc.

Do weekly or monthly reviews where you step back and check whether things are on track for your career or personal impact. Share your goals with your manager and get them to buy into what you’re trying to achieve.

Stay away from stuff that will antagonize your company in the short term (“NDA chicken”, distractions from their short term goals for you during work hours). If recruiting / getting recruiting advice is an important part of your role, it should become obvious soon, at which point it will make sense to use 80k / job postings/ whatever.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Is a near-term, self-sustaining Mars colony impossible? · 2020-06-04T12:32:13.323Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There’s a thing where entrepreneurs are optimistic. Sometimes ridiculously so. This is because entrepreneurship requires a lot of optimism to think that what you’re doing can work. But that optimism can lead you astray and cause you to work on things that are too hard.

Jess and Robin will never be entrepreneurs. They aren’t optimistic enough. But Elon may be over-optimistic. The sheer scope of the project makes it hard to guess accurately what the difficulties are going to be without getting pretty far into trying it and seeing where you get stuck.

And I’m just thinking about getting a Mars colony at all. I do think “self-sustaining” is a ridiculously high bar, much higher than simply having some people living on Mars. But how important is “self-sustaining” as a short-term goal? — if the colony works at all, there will be a path where the amount of Earth resources required to sustain it shrinks over time due to market forces.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-16T23:42:19.133Z · score: 22 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Big if true!

Going to shower right now and try this (I needed a shower anyway). Will report back...

Edit: post shower, my feet feel tingly a little bit. My methodology was to rub my feet five times firmly with a wash cloth at the beginning and end of my shower. I do feel good about life right now, we’ll see how long that lasts. Results inconclusive.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? · 2020-05-13T10:48:45.637Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hey wow, neat company and I’m glad you posted about it here!

Unfortunately, I get the sense that your product is up in the Coelux range of pricing, because you don’t list the price. I think a lot of people here are going to immediately dismiss it as an option given that we can’t easily figure out how much it costs.

Your marketing is also aimed at businesses instead of homes. Especially given that my post was about home lighting, do you have anything you can share about home applications of your product?

(BTW, I remember reading an article in the 90s from a tech mag - like Wired or something - about crack.com, although I had no idea what you did, but the notable thing that stuck in my brain from that article was “why on earth would anyone name a company after a horrifically addictive drug?” I’d be curious if you know what article I’m talking about and whether you have a link to it!)

Comment by lincolnquirk on Why anything that can be for-profit, should be · 2020-04-29T21:20:05.705Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for writing this! I've been harping on something along this axis for a long time to anyone who will listen to me. Now I have something to link them to, which explains this much better than I ever did :)

Comment by lincolnquirk on [deleted post] 2020-03-25T11:33:56.347Z

I understand that - if you’re facing down someone else who’s armed you should obviously just comply. I’m mainly expecting this strategy would work against e.g. unarmed looters. Do you not think it would?

Comment by lincolnquirk on Adding Up To Normality · 2020-03-25T11:30:33.488Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I’ve seen this advice / philosophical point a few times (and I mostly agree with it), but I don’t feel like I have a complete understanding of it. Specifically, when does this not apply?

For instance, coronavirus: to me, this doesn’t “add up to normality” and I’m trying to sort out how it’s an exception. As soon as we heard about the coronavirus, the correct action was to take prep advice seriously and go prepare; and governments moved far too slowly on updating their recommendations; etc. Life after coronavirus is super different than life before. If you were reciting “it all adds up to normality” while reading about corona, you’d probably miss some important opportunities to take quick action.

My guess is that the rule is not supposed to apply to coronavirus (perhaps it’s too object-level?) but I don’t exactly understand why not.

Comment by lincolnquirk on [deleted post] 2020-03-23T13:27:34.760Z

It seems like a big part of the value of a gun might be the ability to wave it around and say "I have a gun". So, as an alternative strategy, have you considered buying a prop gun and practicing the words in a mirror?

Comment by lincolnquirk on What I'm doing to fight Coronavirus · 2020-03-09T21:31:25.487Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nice! I hadn’t heard of your product till now, and I immediately bought it upon seeing this post & your website. I hope it works :P

Comment by lincolnquirk on [deleted post] 2020-03-08T14:16:13.039Z

If you can effectively “stay home” and socially isolate yourself, your particular living situation (how many housemates you have and their likelihood of bringing the virus to you) seems to swamp all other variables.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-02-28T17:29:17.529Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, masks are the thing I am looking for advice for in the US. I do not know where to get them -- I checked Amazon and they're sold out, and my local drugstore doesn't seem to stock them at all (or are also sold out). Various advice online suggests that only n95 masks will be effective. Is that true? Talk to me more about the masks.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How does electricity work literally? · 2020-02-24T16:07:28.392Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I can give some partial answers based on my own models:

AC is used for transmission because transformers are ubiquitous and incredibly valuable at all stages of transmission, and transformers work using AC (you need a changing electrical field to generate a changing magnetic field). Transformers allow you to convert the voltage and isolate circuits. Isolation is important for safety, and voltage conversion is important to achieve the cross purposes of safety and efficiency. High voltage allows you to transfer more energy with fewer losses, but is far more dangerous to work with. This gets to your resistance question -- resistance / heat generation are related to the amount of current and the thickness of the material. To transfer a given amount of energy, higher voltage means less current needed for the same wire, which means less heat losses.

Why 50Hz (or 60 in the US)? As far as I know, this is largely arbitrary. I do know that subtle differences in the frequency are used for signaling grid load. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_frequency has a lot of info though!

As for metering, I have no idea how current meters (ammeters/watt meters) work, but I am pretty sure no net electrons are entering or leaving e.g. your house or your appliance. Electrons in a circuit should be conserved, they're just the means of transfer of energy.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Go F*** Someone · 2020-01-19T22:17:19.390Z · score: 19 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I really enjoyed this post. The analogy of capital vs. labor really hit home in particular, I realized that’s exactly how I’ve been implicitly treating dating, so I think this post is likely to change my behavior in the future. Thanks for writing it.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Dominic Cummings: "we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos" · 2020-01-03T14:50:10.191Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, so I guess Americans might use “prep school” here.

Comment by lincolnquirk on We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA · 2019-12-19T18:53:37.331Z · score: 12 (11 votes) · LW · GW

What aspects of CFAR's strategy would you be most embarrassed by if they were generally known? :P

Comment by lincolnquirk on We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA · 2019-12-19T18:46:21.359Z · score: 25 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, I'll bite. Why should CFAR exist? Rationality training is not so obviously useful that an entire org needs to exist to support it; especially now that you've iterated so heavily on the curriculum, why not dissolve CFAR and merge back into (e.g.) MIRI and just reuse the work to train new MIRI staff?

even more true if CFAR is effective recruitment for MIRI, but merging back in would allow you to separately optimize for that.

Comment by lincolnquirk on One Million Dollars · 2019-12-19T14:46:57.701Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Congrats Jeff! That's an incredible milestone. I have the comical image of you as Doctor Evil right now.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How common is it for one entity to have a 3+ year technological lead on its nearest competitor? · 2019-11-17T22:03:05.778Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Google immediately jumps to mind. The search result quality combined with the infrastructural investment required to execute on copying Google seems like it would take even an entity with no budget constraints more than 3 years, and that’s just search; Google also has maps, email, etc. Does your question assume any budget constraints? (I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine for a few weeks and the results are obviously substantially worse than Google. And DDG has been trying pretty hard for over a decade, but with less than unlimited resources but still a lot.)

Comment by lincolnquirk on What Programming Language Characteristics Would Allow Provably Safe AI? · 2019-08-29T03:13:50.466Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think the programming language could be key to a self-improving AI being able to prove that the new implementation achieves the same goals as the old one, as well as us humans being able to prove that the AI is going to do what we expect.

To me it seems like memory safety is price of entry but I expect the eventual language will end up needing to be quite friendly to static analysis and theorem proving. That probably means very restricted side effects and mutation, as well as statically checkable memory and compute limits. Possibly also taking hardware unreliability into account, although I have no idea how to do that.

The language should be easy to write code in — if it’s too hard to write the code, you’re going to be out-competed by unfriendly AI projects — but also easy to write and prove fancy types/static assertions/contracts, because humans are going to be needing to prove a lot of stuff about code in this language and it seems like the proofs should also be in the code. My current vision would be some combination of Coq, Rust and Liquid Haskell.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Clothing For Men · 2019-01-17T23:35:04.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is great! I've bookmarked it. I really appreciate that you listed brands -- that will be a generator of lots of useful fashion ideas.

Uniqlo has been my clothing go-to for years now (I probably have bought 20+ t-shirts from them, all my jeans for the last few years, all my underwear, and even a few jackets and such), so I second that recommendation, especially for skinnier men.

I would additionally recommend people go shopping in person at thrift stores. Thrift stores are a good way to get a taste of styles or brands that you're not sure will fit into your wardrobe -- if you take a risk on a piece of clothing and it ends up not working out, at a thrift store you're usually only out $15 or so. (Though it's worth noting that most expensive clothing stores have at least a 30 day return policy, usually quite a bit more than that.)

Comment by lincolnquirk on Clothing For Men · 2019-01-17T23:25:58.409Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would also add shoes -- in the US, I see men wearing a variety of shoe types:

  • Fashion sneakers instead of athletic sneakers
  • boat shoes
  • brown leather shoes (though black is essential for formal occasions, it comes off as too formal for me most of the time). For this I also think a brown belt is important to go with it.
Comment by lincolnquirk on Moral frameworks and the Harris/Klein debate · 2018-05-09T10:42:21.075Z · score: 24 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Ezra seemed to be arguing both at the social-shaming level (implying things like "you are doing something normatively wrong by giving Murray airtime") and at the epistemic level (saying "your science is probably factually wrong because of these biases"). The mixture of those levels muddles the argument.

In particular, it signaled to me that the epistemic-level argument was weak -- if Ezra would have been able to get away with arguing exclusively from the epistemic level, he would have (because, in my view, such arguments are more convincing), so choosing not to do so suggests weakness on that front.

(Why do I think this? I came away from the debate podcast frustrated with Ezra. Sam was being insistent about arguing exclusively on the epistemic level. Ezra was having none of it. After thinking about it for a long time, I came to the summary I wrote above, which I felt was more favorable / more of a steelman to Ezra than my initial impression from the debate.)

So, at least to convince me, if Ezra wanted to make the points you are suggesting he make, then he should have stuck to debating Sam on epistemic grounds and avoiding all normative implications.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Moral frameworks and the Harris/Klein debate · 2018-05-09T10:28:07.992Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. This is a useful distinction, and I'm not sure yet what it means for my understanding of the arguments, but I'll have to process it and hopefully update my thinking on this matter.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Ways to improve LessWrong · 2014-09-15T01:36:47.519Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For the same reason the site exists, which is to spread rationality. This seems like the default position.

If you disagree, I think it should be because you think "spreading rationality" is not the goal (perhaps LW exists as a place for a certain group of people to hang out?) or that the current size is optimal or too large for its purpose (which seems quite unlikely).

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, August 2014 · 2014-08-12T03:46:03.165Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not quite ready to announce publicly. Will pm you though.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, August 2014 · 2014-08-03T20:31:49.843Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

My startup recently closed an incredibly important deal, and had amazing growth in July, and important people are interested in investing. Proud to have gotten this far. Excited to see what's next. A bit overworked but it feels kinda good.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Total Utility is Illusionary · 2014-06-15T04:18:48.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's not obvious that you've gained anything here. We can reduce to total utilitarianism -- just assume that everyone's utility is zero at the decision point. You still have the repugnant conclusion issue where you're trying to decide whether to create more people or not based on summing utilities across populations.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, June 2014 · 2014-06-08T23:28:59.818Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Congratulations! I'm generally willing to answer questions from people who are self-teaching CS - I'm sure you have plenty of people in your world who are similarly willing. But just in case, feel free to contact me.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, June 2014 · 2014-06-08T23:03:06.540Z · score: 28 (30 votes) · LW · GW

I met an awesome girl who was single that I really liked, and followed the classic steps (1- be attractive; 2- don't be unattractive) correctly, and she liked me too!

I realize this sounds kind of trivial (especially since I've dated several attractive people in the past), but the reason it seems like an accomplishment worth bragging about was that I have never previously had a self-conception as an attractive person. I could always explain why others chose to date/sleep with me without needing to believe that I was actually attractive. But I have worked for several years on increasing my attractiveness (gym, social confidence, body language, posture, conversation skills, haircuts) and I am now starting to believe it, a little bit. Also I'm older, that probably helps too.

Comment by lincolnquirk on [Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts! · 2014-06-05T17:23:40.718Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I once posted to Main (http://lesswrong.com/lw/6uw/how_to_enjoy_being_wrong/).

Afterwards, I felt bad about it somehow - like I had done something wrong or unappreciated -- despite having a substantially positive karma balance on that post. I think the reason was that almost all the top-level comments were neutral or negative and there was not much encouraging discussion, and I think the post might have been moved to Discussion - it was certainly not promoted.

It's actually interesting to go back and look at that because I now realize that that was a reasonably successful post and probably should have encouraged me further. Instead it did not. I wonder if something similar has happened to others.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to Beat Procrastination (to some degree) (if you're identical to me) · 2014-05-07T05:45:20.132Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you have a habit of checking other sites, LeechBlock is enough of an impediment that it breaks you out of your habit.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Ergonomics Revisited · 2014-04-23T01:31:42.190Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yah, +1 for kinesis keyboard for ergonomics. I get wrist pain when I use my laptop (don't use my Kinesis) for about a week; switching back to it tends to quickly relieve the pain.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How long will Alcor be around? · 2014-04-18T03:15:02.617Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The reference class of "companies" is the wrong class. Unfortunately I don't think there is a good reference class. "Organizations who exist primarily to survive, rather than grow / make money" would be a good class, but I can't think of anything else much like this.

Oh wait, people. Like survivalist organizations, humans exist primarily to survive and we consume resources at a predictable rate. On the other hand there are a lot of things that make humans different from organizations. The relevant differences: a) we die of natural causes, whereas organizations don't; b) we have one intelligence directing our actions and choices, whereas organizations have no intrinsic intelligence and depend on their human constituency/directorship for this. Are there other relevant differences?

Comment by lincolnquirk on Effective Effective Altruism Fundraising and Movement-Building · 2014-03-29T03:21:29.891Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Movement building" can mean a ton of things. I would actually like to taboo it since it's so broad. We should evaluate individual ideas on what they actually achieve.

Things that EA folks have done which seem like they might be "movement building" --

  • giving TED talks
  • running the EA camp at Burning Man
  • putting on the EA Summit
  • founding GiveWell
  • posting on the EA Facebook page
  • pledging to give 10% of income

you see, these things are all quite different...

Comment by lincolnquirk on Open thread, 11-17 March 2014 · 2014-03-12T13:52:07.649Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I worked in the game industry for a while. I worked on AAA titles, indie stuff and semi-indie. I'm not a designer though.

I would say that the best way to become who you want to be is to make many of your own excellent SMALL indie stuff and work your way up from there. Fortunately you're in the right double major! Build your own games, from scratch, over and over again until you produce something really good. Make little 24 or 48-hour games for hackathons, ludum dare, global game jam, etc. I can't give you better advice than to simply scale down your ambitions a lot. If you've never finished anything then that's your major problem and you desperately need to leverage some success spirals before you can dive into a bigger idea.

If you have a giant idea that you want to implement but it's too big, bite off a tiny chunk. Maybe it's a gameplay mechanic, maybe an art style. If you demonstrate a kernel of something that seems good, then you will be encouraged spend more time improving it. I think there are good subreddits for indie games where you can get feedback online.

Another way that an artist friend got into the industry was by taking a QA job at an AAA studio. Then he spent a ton of time outside work learning the tools that the artists used, playing around and making cool levels and showing off his skills. He made friends in the art department and showed them his stuff, and when he finally made something impressive, the art people showed it to their bosses and he got promoted to an art position. This strategy requires substantial willingness to grind, both as a QA person (the job is ridiculously boring and requires long hours) plus the outside-work time.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Academia as a career option, its social value, and alternatives · 2014-03-11T20:20:07.474Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's my experience: I started a Ph.D program in computer science (focus in systems and/or programming languages and/or certified programming). I took a few classes in those areas which were really fun and reasonably challenging. I also started research, which was boring, but it was only the first semester and I wasn't working on my own project.

Then I got an offer to co-found a startup that I couldn't refuse, so I left my Ph.D program after one semester and went to do startups.

While I was reasonably happy with my life in academia for the time I was there, I have been generally (though not always) more self-satisfied with my work in startups. I currently expect to make a greater impact with my work on startups. The only way I could imagine work in academia being more impactful is if I were working on a research project whose fruits I expected to be directly used by people doing impactful work (top candidate would be making a certified programming language that could be used to build and prove a Friendly AI correct). I could definitely see myself heading in that direction but progress felt very slow -- that even with very good use of time in my PhD program, I am not sure would have advanced my skills enough to do a good job at succeeding at such a task. Whereas I feel like I'm making really fast progress towards startups that will succeed.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What we learned about Less Wrong from Cognito Mentoring advising · 2014-03-07T14:15:33.376Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Quora is highly browseable. Stack Exchange is also somewhat browseable, but they are usually technical questions which are not very fun to browse. Quora has been really useful to me as an entrepreneur because they have a lot of answers from CEOs to strategic questions about startup founding. I would definitely recommend browsing it to entrepreneurs.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Proportional Giving · 2014-03-02T23:57:18.580Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I try to apply the hybrid philosophy of: "work hard, make money, give what you can afford to give today, give yourself a near-mode incentive to make more money, and create savings for the future".

The savings one is a big one you didn't mention. I feel like my future self has a high chance to smack me if I commit too much money now. It seems like the places I would give today can benefit more now from my donation than in the future, but I may find better places to spend the money or give it away in the future. Hence the hybrid.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Literature-review on cognitive effects of modafinil (my bachelor thesis) · 2014-01-10T05:39:09.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Caffeine acts as a motivation enhancer for me. It reliably raises my mood levels and gets me off the couch.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What are you working on? January 2014 · 2014-01-07T01:49:07.748Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is cool. I'm a PL enthusiast myself and have occasionally been interested in code generation like this. What kind of stuff can it do?

Comment by lincolnquirk on What are you working on? January 2014 · 2014-01-03T02:34:41.607Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I just started a new business: software for sending money from the US to foreign countries. We compete with Western Union and Moneygram. We are starting with Kenya and sending money to the mobile money system in use there, M-Pesa.

The goals are: 1) to make money (which, once earned, will mostly be spent on effective altruist causes); and 2) make direct impact by a) reducing fees to send money to the developing world, and b) growing the remittance market resulting in wealth redistribution.

Why this project and not others? I believe that for people who have the capability to start companies, starting for-profit companies is one of the best things they can do. Occasionally startups hit it big, and when they do, they tend to make direct positive impact as well as money for the founders. I have selected this startup idea as a pretty good balance between direct impact and chances of success.

Recent progress: Today I talked to six Kenyan immigrants who worked in the US. Five of them currently send money using Western Union, and all five were quite enthusiastic about our product, enough to offer help and introductions. Two of them were most excited about M-Pesa as the way recipients could receive the money, and the other three were most excited about lower fees.

The website is currently at http://www.waveremit.com . I'm looking to talk to people who a) send money to other countries regularly; b) have experience with federal or state money transmitter laws; or c) have other potentially useful information that I haven't thought of.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Group Rationality Diary, October 16-31 · 2013-10-17T15:42:28.800Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, I intend to! I'm trying to further automate the system with an actual computer controlled candy dispenser, but that part isn't built yet, and it's not clear if it's needed because it seems already to be working.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to Beat Procrastination (to some degree) (if you're identical to me) · 2013-10-17T15:29:45.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Focus@Will also acts as a pomodoro timer.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Group Rationality Diary, October 16-31 · 2013-10-17T15:24:42.100Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Setup a system to reward myself for checking things off a to-do list. It has caused me to actually maintain the to-do list accurately (it's been nearly a week now - most to-do list things I've tried have only lasted a couple of days).

It works by using a Google Spreadsheet script to (with 50% probability) send me a text message saying "go get a candy" whenever I mark an X in a certain column in the spreadsheet. I actually do go get these candies immediately when I get this text message.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to Beat Procrastination (to some degree) (if you're identical to me) · 2013-10-17T02:18:47.311Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Tools I use to help achieve #1: LeechBlock (Firefox) or Chrome Nanny (Chrome).

Tool I use to help achieve #2: Beeminder.

Tools I use to help achieve #3: Focus@Will and Coffitivity.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Time-logging programs and/or spreadsheets · 2013-10-17T02:14:49.001Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I track my time using RescueTime. The value to me is improving my calibration with respect to how well I feel I'm working, as compared to my actual RescueTime hours. Sometimes I think "Wow, I really worked a lot today" when in fact I didn't get many hours in, and I'd rather have my intuition match the metrics. I don't have a special justification/goal beyond that but I'm hoping something useful pops out.

I suspect that this is an instance of low cost, low median outcomes, but with high upside -- it's unlikely you'll find something that makes a difference, but the cost isn't very high, and there's always a chance that, without putting numbers on it, you are missing some productivity intervention which would make a big difference to you. For example, perhaps you think poorly when you're sleep deprived, but you don't know it, but tracking productivity would let you know that's happening.

At the NY Quantified Self meetup a few weeks ago, somebody reported tracking her post-concussion symptoms and discovered that, in fact, she wasn't suffering from a concussion at all -- it was a very different condition which required separate treatment.

Comment by lincolnquirk on [LINK] Productivity Ninja: 5 Powerful Tips For Getting More Stuff Done · 2013-10-16T17:06:08.724Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This list is pretty basic, and the tips work: I would expect most people interested in productivity (a lot of people on this site) to scan the list and nod their head to each one -- "yep I know that".

So if you read this and are surprised at any point, or think "I'm not sure if I do that" then you should pay attention, because there's low hanging fruit to be picked in productivity.

Interestingly, the blog author misses a big one, which is captured in the Charlie Munger quote: self-improvement has big returns, and you should spend a substantial amount of time on it.

I'll also paraphrase the five items: know what times of day are your most productive times; get the right amount of sleep; find ways to reduce distractions and external noise; take advantage of your setting (at my desk, in bed) as a cue; and work on things you're passionate about.