Archive for November, 2018

The preciousness of every minute of life and the reality of opportunity cost

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The time you have left on this Earth moves in only one direction, down. Each minute that you spend doing something is a minute you spend not doing something else. Even if what you're doing is productive, is it as productive as it can be? Even if what you're doing is fun, is it as fun as it can be?

Time on the Earth is monotonically decreasing, but chances are you're still going to be here next year. Billions of years of evolution has gotten one thing right - the ability to keep yourself alive. When you realize you're not dead yet in a year, are you going to have something to show for from the previous year?

There's no pause button on the great play of life. You may be able to get away from it all for short periods of time while you're sleeping, but just because you're not on stage doesn't mean the show doesn't go on.

Each second you spend doing the bullshit it is you do with your time is a second you can never get back.

You got drunk at the bar and woke up sick the next morning? You sat around and watched Netflix all day? You blew some air out of your nose as you watched some cats attack each other on the internet? Well, I sure hope you enjoyed yourself.

If you move intelligently and efficiently through the universe and you will feel like your gliding. If you figure out how to cut the time you waste in half three times in a row, you will get to live eight lives. Four times, and you will live the equivalent of sixteen lives. It keeps getting more difficult, but the rewards get greater and greater.

To realize what you can achieve you must first come to terms with what you have failed to achieve, and can no longer ever achieve. Didn't practice soccer diligently since you were five? We won't be seeing you in the world cup. Didn't study hard in high school? You will never be a great academic, the great ones are already way ahead of you and they're not planning on giving up their lead.

Only once you've seen how you've failed to use your time wisely and have embraced the severe consequences you have already suffered can you begin to fix your problems. Imagine where you could be today if you had begun ten years ago, and then imagine where you can be in ten years.

A confession of how I waste time

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

I waste time:

1. Listening to music on youtube. This is of course a pleasurable experience, so it could be considered not a waste of time. Yet I do it when I'm trying to accomplish goals, so it is a distraction. Also sometimes I find myself listening to the same songs I don't even like anymore.

2. Playing the guitar in a way where I'm just reinforcing bad habits. Whenever I'm practicing the guitar by playing it aggressively without reflection This is also another pleasurable experience, but sometimes I just get frustrated and I feel so much more rewarded when I've diligently practiced a new song.

3. Not optimizing my time on how I take care of my basic homeostasis. Sometimes I don't properly plan out simple things - like where I"m going to eat. So I find myself walking back and fourth from my house to the supermarket etc. an unnecessary number of times.

4. I waste time over obsessing about how to respond to certain emails/texts. I care a lot about how I come across and I try to make all my messages "perfect." But sometimes I could find myself spending an absurd amount of time responding to something that is in the long run rather trivial.

5. Derping around on the internet. Sometimes I catch myself on redditesq sites, looking at dumb short attention span entertainment like those old vine videos.

So here is how I plan to fix these issues:

1. Setup a program to modify my hosts file to nullroute youtube when I want to work.

2. Create a list of songs I want to learn and practice on the guitar, and print out the tabs to have at the ready by my guitar so that when I want to play I can have at the ready the materials I need to practice. I could also print out all my guitar exercises from my ancient guitar scroll.

3. Buy more things in bulk, basic stuff like food supplies etc. Also potentially take fifteen minutes or so to create a plan for the day of things I'm going to do so I don't catch myself all of the sudden realizing i need x or y.

4. When I have an email or message that I feel I'm going to waste a lot of time responding to, I should immediately start a timer for 5 minutes or so and rush to finish it in that time.

5. Same as point 1, null route all my distraction sites like freetetris.org, jesus christ.

If you're going to reinvent the wheel, you better learn something

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Here at whaacked.com1 the wheel has certainly been reinvented. Instead of choosing the sane option of using Wordpress or another blogging platform,2 I have taken upon myself to write the code for my own website. This gives me a lot of freedom, but implementing the simplest of features are just yet another thing i have to do.

In general, it is quite a bad idea to reinvent the wheel. You are wasting your time and money and your customers time and money. Are you trying to figure out how to rip youtube videos - because you don't even know that youtube-dl exists? Have you built an app whose purpose can be undermined by having the same end goals be accomplished via emails or a shared chat channel?

Reinventing the wheel is a massive time sink, so if you plan to do it it should probably be for the learning experience. Also, don't rewrite your code from scratch. Shoutout to Joel.

  1. ztkfg.com []
  2. fixed now, eh? []

If you're so rich, then why aren't you so smart?

Monday, November 26th, 2018

The title of this post is taken from Taleb's book Fooled by Randomness How are there so many people with lots of money who are not very intelligent? The answer is simply: luck.

If you have 300,000,000 people playing the stock market and their stock choices can be modeled as complete guessing, then after a binary event outcome 150,000,000 are going to come out on top. And from those 150mil, 75mil will win again. This repeats a few times and in the end you're left with some very rich people who have done nothing but guess. Everyday some bloat comes out of the casino as a winner.

So then you have someone who has won n times, is fairly wealthy, and falsely assumes he will win n+1 times. There's tons of men in suits with lots of cash, and if you're an investor in people and relationships it's your job to determine which one of these men came about their wealth through luck and which ones came about it through a refined process. Especially when you're in the stock market world.

staying in shape secret tactics

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

I have oscillated in my life between being very in shape and, uh, fairly out of shape. Here are my essential tips:

1. It's all about the diet. All those weights you lifted are thwarted by the extra chocolate bar. Eat slowly throughout the day, using your common sense. All things that are adding calories etc. need to be filling. Peanut butter very good, sugary soda drink very bad. When you need to lose weight, enjoy the feeling of feeling slightly hungry all the time.

2. For most people, the gym just fucking sucks. In the unreal world where you are mr. discipline it'd be the place to go all year round. But usually the gym mindset mode will just happen in spurts of a month or two, and then you're left with a credit card bill you forgot about. Better to find a sport or something you like to do and get some enjoyment out of being active. I have burned many more calories surfing, soccering, and squashing than i have ever burned at the gym.

3. Brush your teeth after every meal. This will make you have great breath, and also every time you reach for a cookie you are going to think, "uh...but then I have to brush my teeth again."1

And that's it. Staying in shape is mostly a psychological battle, you already know what you need to do.

  1. This idea was taken from a post on thelastpsychiatrist.com []

Book Review: The Alchemist

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a very easy read that provides more inspiration than it does practical advice. However, while there is no central theme of this blog, i would say i aim to make practical advice for myself and others a key pillar of its mission. So to leave with some practical advice, we will take a quote from the book,

If you start out by promising what you don't even have yet, you'll lose your desire to work toward getting it.

and go over it.

I feel that for software developers, these words of wisdom ring with truth regarding taking any form of investment for your project. The psychological shift that occurs when you receive money for your idea in exchange for a portion of the future fortunes can be enough to prevent you from realizing your goal. Here are the some of the negative consequences:

1. You no longer can stand up and proudly say, "this is my project, and my project alone."
2. Your vision will no longer be your vision but a blur of your vision and someone else's.
3. You will have to constantly consult all interested parties about almost every action you take. You will have extra overhead work of keeping everyone informed.

Software projects are special because they require almost no capital investment. With a good laptop and perhaps a server you can start cranking right away. If you take an investment in return for a promise of future profits, you will negatively affect the most important factor to your project's success: your drive to succeed.

Big Science VS Little Science

Friday, November 9th, 2018

I remember the day at MIT where a "great discovery of our universe" was made. As I walked through the hallways the flags of the United States were waving on the screen while a women in a suit was standing behind the podium announcing the results of a finding at the LIGO lab. She was saying that a great theory regarding gravitational waves predicted by none other than Einstein himself had been confirmed with the help of some very expensive equipment. The halls of the university were packed with excitement, all of our teachers announced the finding in the beginning of class, and i had the feeling we were all supposed to be very happy about this great scientific accomplishment ~ regardless of our ability to understand it.

Shortly after many videos were released to help 'non-sciency' people understand the work of the great scientists. I recall lots of videos with a bed sheet spread taught and a marble placed in the middle drawing objects closer together was supposed to somehow explain this gravity finding (isn't that circular reasoning - gravity is the thing that's pulling things together on the bed sheet?) I digress.

Every truth in the world has a cost to confirm for yourself. Some truths, such as the presence of a force that attracts objects together based on their mass and distance apart are very cheap to verify for yourself. It's cheap to see that there is another electromagnetic force between things called magnetics. It doesn't cost so much to see that oil and water don't mix. It's cheap to see computers are the king of chess - just download stockfish.

Others truths, like the presence of microscopic bacteria, cost a little bit more to verify for yourself. A good microscope for this purpose may run you between $100-$500. Still doable, but the range of people who can confirm this truth is narrowed.

And lastly there are truths that most individuals will never have the resources to be able to confirm themselves. This is the Big Science. This is Google's supercomputer powered AI. This is the LIGO experiment. This is CERN. This is the Manhattan Project. This is the images from the Hubble telescope.

Big science is incredibly important, and with its use a few people are able to make profound discoveries. But to an individual, its authenticity forever can be put into question.

A new payment model for content creators

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Once the bits have been published to the public, it is very hard to prevent them from being copying. If you write a book, it will eventually appear on b-ok.org or some other book hosting site. If you create a video, it's only a matter of time before it's on the pirate bay. So if you're a content creator and you do private sales to individuals, eventually one of those individuals leaks the content to the world.

So I suggest a new payment model. A content creator creates a video, and puts up a public address with a target amount of payment to receive (let's say 1 btc)

He then has a script running on a computer

(defparameter *target-payment* 1.0)
(defparameter *crowd-source-address* 1Fx3N5iFPDQxUKhhmDJqCMmi3U8Y7gSncx)

(if (> (get-amount *crowd-source-address*) *target-payment*)
(release-content))
The "community" then has the ability to unlock whatever: a new album, a new videogame, etc by coming together and hitting the target. Perhaps trusted addresses could have a refund system if the target is not hit by a certain time.

It is very important that the content is released on a code trigger running on a server, that will fire as soon as the target address has enough funds and a few block confirmations have occurred. If the users have to wait for the creator to check his address and manually release the product, the system loses a lot of its magic.

The Simulation Theory is Bullshit

Friday, November 9th, 2018

The theory that we are in a simulation, i.e. stuck in a matrix that is a subset of a bigger world running on what we would think of as a computer, is bullshit.

Being in a simulation of a bigger universe has a probability of strictly less than being in a "real" outer-most-level universe. This is because being in a simulation would still require a universe, and on top of that it would require a universe with sufficient technology to create "sub-universe" simulations.

We cannot create any sub-universe simulations. If we were in a simulation there is no reason not to expect this to recurse infinitely downward. I.e. knowing that we are at the "bottom-level" is evidence that that "bottom-level" is the "top-level."

Silicon Valley companies refuse to create APIs for their customers

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Many SV companies have an issue of thinking that all of their customers would never want to interface with their product through code they wrote themselves. It is quite frustrating to always be forced to use their products through a GUI.

Take AirBNB for example. What I want from AirBNB is a get request endpoint that takes params:

latitude

longitude

radius

rent-start-date

rent-end-date

optional: max-price

optional: num-bedrooms

etc.

When I make the get request with the params i should get an array of available places.

Of course they already have something like this behind the scenes, as there is no other way the website could possibly work. But they obfuscate the api from the user. Perhaps the reason they do not publish an api is because they want to be able to feel that they can update their api without having to worry about breaking other people's code. ...Or some companies do not want anyone to be able to easily index their database.

Both the Apollo Music Project and Zylon will be built with an api that is documented and readily available for the user.