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Classified Thread 7

This is the…monthly? bimonthly? occasional?…classified thread. Post advertisements, personals, and any interesting success stories from the last thread.

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240 Responses to Classified Thread 7

  1. Near says:

    I’ve finished working on an early version of Tagmap, a website that allows maps of communities to be created. The map for Slatestarcodex is https://tagmap.io/tag/slatestarcodex

    I’ve already linked it on the subreddit and gotten 100 markers added to the SSC map with mostly positive feedback. Feel free to add yourself to the map if this interests you, hopefully this can help to coordinate meetups (group or personal) in the future. Any feedback is strongly appreciated here or via other mediums (u/Nearcyan, Near#4603).

    • tayfie says:

      Thanks, and it looks like you live around Dallas. It looks like there are several of us.

      I will be organizing a meetup. See a top-level comment later.

      • Near says:

        I was surprised there wasn’t one in that area last time around, since I was certain there were a lot of people there who would be willing to attend one. That’s one thing I hope this helps in this community, is making it easy to realize that there’s more people near you than you might otherwise think.

    • Wouter says:

      Awesome – just taggef myself as first of my country 🙂

      Idea: optionally allow fir entering other info when tagging, like gender and age? (or the entire SSC survey…;)) Could make for some more nice colored maps!

      • Near says:

        Right now if you want to include that information it should go in the description. I would like to ask for a lot of information on sign-up (including email, gender, age, avatar, etc) because it really improves the quality of profiles and will encourage significantly better results for users, but many users don’t want to have to fill those things out, so the inline sign-up is as minimal as it can reasonably be, with the user encouraged to add more information (like their avatar) afterwards. Encouraging users to set detailed information without bothering them too much is a bit difficult.

    • Ventrue Capital says:

      I just added myself.

      I’m surprised and pleased to find that apparently there’s at least one other SSCer in Southeast Florida.

  2. dank says:

    Do you ever talk about SSC adjacent topics with co-workers? At my last job (tech company in Austin) all my co-workers wanted to talk about was the latest marvel movie or what new microbrewery just opened. I’m hoping to find something where my interests jibe better with everyone else’s.

    • shakeddown says:

      Everyone in the group of people I have lunch with at work gets my constant unsong/SSC references, so yeah.

    • GameVogue says:

      I work at a medium-sized library (I am the one and only IT person) and I have introduced several of my co-workers to HPMOR, which I love to recommend to anyone I can. Two co-workers read it and one has since independently started reading LessWrong and the Codex, and now we exchange thoughts on SCC articles and Effective Altruism topics once every couple of weeks or so. I think librarians are possibly more likely to be interesting in SCC adjacent topics than average. I definitely feel fortunate to work with such cool people.

    • Liface says:

      All the time. My coworkers actually introduced me to SlateStarCodex in 2014 by way of posting so many damn links to articles in HipChat that I just couldn’t ignore it without missing out on all the references.

      Cognitive biases are referenced nearly every day, particularly when we’re making certain decisions or checking our evidence.

      And this is at a sports company, no less. Unfortunately, we’re not hiring at the moment.

    • James says:

      My god, never. Seems completely inconceivable to me.

      Source: programmer, not really ‘in tech’ per se.

    • thirqual says:

      A couple of years ago, a young colleague asked me if I had read HPMOR after hearing a vicious rant about a “Learn to be a good lecturer” seminar. I seamlessly switched to a rant about sequences S and (especially) T, then suggested they check SSC.

    • tgb says:

      I think there’s plenty of SSC adjacent topics you can bring up based off the latest marvel movie. Infinity War’s villain is all about the trade off as a utilitarian between more lives versus better lives. And about whether a painless, instant death is suffering. Plenty of potential thought experiments there!

      • pozorvlak says:

        Age of Ultron is about AI risk, and Captain America: Civil War is about the conflict between consequentialism (Tony) and deontology (Steve).

        • Paperclip Minimizer says:

          Age of Ultron doesn’t seem like a particularly realistic AI risk movie. I would recommend Dr. Strangelove as a far more realistic movie about existential risk from artificial intelligence.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            It matches the FOOM thought experiment in outline: Ultron goes from non-sentient to superhuman in the time it takes Tony to host a party, then invents a technology humans can’t (the anti-gravity city) and humans are at risk of extinction.
            However, the details were filled in by Joss Whedon, so they couldn’t be scientific or logical. It’s called Art Major [subject].

        • Joseph Greenwood says:

          I don’t think Civil War is especially a conflict between deontology and consequentialism. Maybe those two and contractualism? The Sekovia accords fail on their own grounds, in the sense that if the Avengers had waited to stop Ultron until the UN got on board, the world would have ended. The Accords are a textbook case of the government responding to a crisis by passing a law that would have made it worse.

    • chaosmage says:

      I try it a lot. Outside academic circles, it is hard to find people who can discuss SSC-level thinking fruitfully.

      But bringing up EA is good, lots of people can relate to that one and it can lead to more than just another discussion.

      • picklerick says:

        To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Slate Star Codex. The thinking is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of machine learning most of the philosophy will go over a typical viewer’s head. There’s also Scott’s utilitarian outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation – his personal philosophy draws heavily from the Golden Age of Science Fiction, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these posts, to realize that they’re not just funny- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Slate Star Codex truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn’t appreciate, for instance, the humour in Scott’s existencial catchphrase “This is not a coincidence because nothing is ever a coincidence” which itself is a cryptic reference to Lovecraft’s horror classic “The Rats In The Walls”. I’m smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Scott Alexander’s genius unfolds itself on their smartphone screens. What fools… how I pity them. 😂 And yes by the way, I DO have a Slate Star Codex tattoo. And no, you cannot see it. It’s for the ladies’ eyes only- And even they have to demonstrate that they’re within 5 IQ points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand.

    • Chalid says:

      Yes, quite often. My corner of finance is partly about exploiting failures of rationality so there’s a natural connection.

      • Matthias says:

        I guess Matt Levine’s Money Stuff would come up a lot, too?

        • Chalid says:

          Yes, though more because it’s very funny than because it’s professionally useful. He is of course highlighting the most amusing anomalies as opposed to the most practical, and the overlap is unfortunately not that large.

          I’d love to be able to tell people that I use corporate executives’ golf handicaps to predict stocks or whatever, but things are not nearly so interesting most of the time.

        • Walter says:

          I’ve subscribed to Money Stuff after seeing it recc’d here at one point. I think of it like another webcomic. Good to read and chuckle about over a lunch break. I’d recommend it in that capacity to anyone.

      • toastengineer says:

        My corner of finance is partly about exploiting failures of rationality

        You work at a casino?

    • aristides says:

      God no, I work HR in a fairly rural area with coworkers 30 years older than me. I can’t imagine they would be interested. At least I can discuss it with my wife, though I can’t get her to read the blog itself

    • Nick says:

      I talk about SSC-adjacent stuff once in a while, but I don’t bother linking to anything anymore. My coworkers are pretty reading phobic—anything longer than about two or three sentences and they just glance at it and close it.

    • Well... says:

      I’m hoping to find something where my interests jibe better with everyone else’s.

      Do you mean you’re hoping to find a new job where you can have these kinds of conversation topics, or you’re hoping to find a new conversation topic at your current job?

    • Matt says:

      I’ve read a couple of Scott’s articles aloud to my wife on long road trips, and discussed some SSC topics with her occasionally.

      Much of what I read here is too politics-adjacent for me to discuss at work, though, so I avoid it.

    • magana says:

      No one at my office does, but if you join us, there’ll be the two of us 🙂

      https://pillartechnology.com/careers

      Disclaimer: I get paid if you get hired

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      SSC topics involve a lot of controversial political subjects (which in my opinion is good) and to discuss such subjects with co-workers one has to be either very sure you’re in a monoculture matching your own opinion (which happens, but unfortunately not for opinions I tend to hold) or not really value your employment at all.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      Not only SSC adjacent, but I have several rationalsphere coworkers and at points in the past (when I had more) we regularly had lunch together. This is a tech company in Austin; do you mind sharing where you worked? Also, if you’re still in Austin, you should come to our meetup! 1:30 on Saturdays at the Central Market on N. Lamar. We have a google group as well: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/austin-less-wrong

    • DinoNerd says:

      Basically no. The CW threads are NSFW, and the other threads are very much minority interest, even among groups of software engineers.

    • Gray Ice says:

      I’ve never tried to introduce SCC to coworkers that had not heard of it. However, I did have an interesting experience:
      1. Coworker brings up topic recently mentioned on SCC.
      2. I share personal experience regarding topic
      3. Coworker, tentatively asks if I’ve heard of SCC.
      4. I explain, yes, I’ve heard of SCC, but personal experience with [topic] occurred back when most people had live journals
      5. Coworker occasionally brings up SCC related topics…in a secret society kind of manner.

  3. Moya says:

    This is Moya from A Softer Space – we develop software for you and with the profits focus on getting to the Moon, Mars, and all the other fun places. 🙂

    Since the last thread we managed to get an awesome project about reading out QR codes from PDFs automatically and managed to do it in just a few days time (whew, QR codes are much harder – and much more fun – than expected!)… the only problem is: We are based in Europe, and the client is based in India. Never worked for so little money before. ^^

    • Aharon says:

      I’m also with A Softer Space, and responsible for sales, so if you’re eager to work with us, contact me at bene at asofterspace dot com 🙂
      Moya already told you about our vision – enabling space travel. To do so, we work for the European Space Agency, among others.
      You can read more about our approach to Software Development – and our reasons for seeking clients outside the aerospace sector – here.

  4. Rebecca Friedman says:

    Hello! This is a repeat from the last classified thread, if you’ve already read feel free to skip; it’s basically just the same information. Posting anyway because there always seem to be new people reading. Now on to the ad…

    I am a freelance editor specializing primarily in fantasy and science fiction, though happy to work with most types of fiction (the more of a genre I’ve read, the better I am; no sex scenes please, I’d be utterly useless; that said, I have no problems at all with stuff that doesn’t quite fit in any genre, or is generally strange – I enjoyed Unsong) and occasionally interesting non-fiction. My previous work includes fantasy, light romance, the variety of not-quite-fantasy where the geography and history are invented but no magic is present, superheroes, urban fantasy (you may be noticing a pattern here), military sci-fi, mysteries (usually fantasy mysteries), and “interesting nonfiction” (mostly my father’s books, that’s how I got started). Not all of this is published, but for some representative samples: Harald (see note about how I got started), Cantata (a really early one which I firmly recommend on its own merits), Curveball (web serial superhero fiction, some of the editing I have done is in visible comments, though not all), and new this year, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PGJBQHT/?ie=UTF8&redirect=true&ref_=series_rw_dp_sw"Pirates and Powers (I belive I picked up this one from previous SSC ads – fun anime-inspired serial).

    My own website is here. Prices have risen since the last classified thread, and are currently at $2-$8/500-word page depending on how much work is needed (for fiction; non-fiction is higher), with a five-free-pages offer for new clients so you know which of those prices applies and what you’ll be getting for it before you actually have to pay me anything. Contact information and additional details are all on the website. And thank you again to everyone who contacted me after the previous ads!

  5. Pippy says:

    Want a portrait or want to gift a painting and have a social impact in the process?

    Check out:
    https://art4effectivedonations.wordpress.com

    – where instead of a payment, you make a donation to the Against Malaria foundation.

    I have used this service and am quite happy with the outcome.

  6. Anonymous Colin says:

    Are you a Machine Learning/Python professional in London? Come have a drink with me! We can talk about weird stuff, including (but by no means limited to) our careers!

    (N.B. I have put this ad out here before with some success. If you responded to a similar ad last year and ended up having a drink with a charming man, that was probably me.)

    • Matthias says:

      I’ll be in London probably in about two months again. Sounds interesting.

    • nadbor says:

      I’m up for it. You can email me at nadbordrozd@gmail.com

      Btw. are you aware of the London SSC/LW group meeting every other Sunday? It is predictably full of ML/Python professionals including a few people working at DeepMind. Personally I don’t go very often because Sundays are usually family time but when I go I always enjoy it.

  7. a reader says:

    I design various things: personalizable iPhone/iPad cases and laptop sleeves, home decor, business cards, invitations and party supplies and many others – see my print-on-demand store on Zazzle: RetroVintageStore If you don-t find there exactly what you want, you may order at ohtuvznzobent @ tznvy.pbz (rot13)

  8. Alsadius says:

    This isn’t mine, but a friend has a short story that seems like it’d be right up the alley of SSC readers – basically sci-fi psychiatric care. (Trigger warning: Anyone who’d be bothered by psych care going badly should probably avoid this.)

    https://kronopath.net/blog/caring/

  9. Chalid says:

    Anybody interested in a drink or a coffee in the NYC or Jersey City area? I’ve enjoyed just about every conversation I’ve had with SSC readers.

    Aside from the usual SSC topics, if you’re involved in quant finance I’m happy to talk careers or just to geek out about the subject generally.

  10. Sortition says:

    I wrote a book of poems! Some of them are explicitly humanistic, you might be interested.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NHLXCDJ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=almighty+by+degrees&qid=1549636377&s=Kindle+Store&sr=1-1-catcorr

  11. theredsheep says:

    (posting despite Lent internet fast for “business” reasons)

    Back at the turn of the year, some of you were nice enough to critique a novel I was starting at the time. I have since reworked the beginning and rebooted it as Pyrebound, a serial fantasy novel updating every Sunday. There have been thirteen installments so far, with much more written. I specialize in building elaborate and unusual fantasy worlds; Pyrebound’s is roughly Sumerian-flavored, with human civilization restricted to a network of theocratic city-states strung along a river valley. It’s a coming-of-age tale about a young man in a desperate situation.

    The Official Blurb as of now: “The world has not been kind to Ram’s family. Father just lost an arm. Mother can’t work. And if Ram can’t find a way to make money fast, a life of forced labor is the best any of them can hope for. His only way forward is through the darkest side of their dark world–fighting on the front lines of war against the demons, hiding with thieves and assassins in the shadows, wandering the wilds where the monsters rule. How much more will the god of the pyre ask him to sacrifice? And why, Ram wonders, should he be the one to pay?”

    It’s got a pair of good reviews at Web Fiction Guide so far. Thanks for reading this pitch!

  12. Matthias says:

    I’ll be starting a new job in Singapore soon, and will be hiring a team of programmers. You can see some of the open roles described at the careers page. But I’m looking to introduce functional programming like Haskell in the local team.

    You can contact me at matthias.goergens@gmail.com, if you are interested. The company is also hiring in London and other locations. (See website.)

  13. AJD says:

    Hi. I mostly lurk, reading a number of posts but never replying. I find the range of interests so far afield of my daily exposure that it’s often like taking a metaphorical voyage. Thank you all!
    I am a strategy consultant and executive performance coach. My clients are usually high growth startup leaders and executive teams. Those are the realms that I spend most of my time involved in discussing and contributing to. If you are looking for a coach for your leadership, communication, team effectiveness, decision-making or general sanity in the throes of startup life– or for extremely high-level strategic planning and execution/alignment, please reach out. https://amiedevero.com

    • zebrafoxtrotsierra says:

      Hey AJD, I’m in a similar field, I’m working at an HR Consulting firm in NYC.
      Is there a big market for executive coaching in startups? I imagine you must travel constantly.

      • AJD says:

        Hi Zabra,
        It’s a pleasure to meet you.
        I don’t travel.as much now as most of my coaching work is by phone. For consulting work, yes, travel is essential but periodic and short.
        I don’t have a read on how big the demand is for what I do with startups, but the need is substantial. My own fit for it is unique because of a long career as a strategy/organizational change consultant, and a trackbrecord having been chief executive of two startups.
        Are you self-employed or within a firm?

  14. TheContinentalOp says:

    I have a story in the just published Gunsmoke & Dragonfire: A Fantasy Western Anthology.

    From the drought-plagued plains of Mars, to a post-apocalyptic Canada, to the familiar American West and Mexico, to other dimensions and other worlds weird and wonderful, an international cast of bestselling, award-winning, established, and emerging authors brings you 25 strange western tales.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MLQFXVX

  15. Godwhacker says:

    I built this for April Fool’s Day: http://brexfest.eu , as much as a howl of despair at the whole sorry situation as anything else.

    I suggest headphones. Contains some flashing if you make it all the way to the end. Didn’t exactly go viral, but my friends enjoyed it.

    One side effect: I build a simple bot to enable the associated Twitter account to follow every member of Parliament and a few members of the press. Looking at the Twitter feed in the app is horrible; it’s a big wall of spite and righteousness.

  16. patienceintheblue says:

    I get the sense that there are plenty of visual artists hovering around the SSC community, but are you all into photography? I’m on Instagram as @patienceintheblue if your life needs more portraits, macro stuff, Chicago street photography, long exposures, and occasionally weird abstract edited things. It can’t hurt to get some super-rational followers, right?

    I’m also a philosopher who works on explanation in math and science, if those things happen to interest you.

  17. moshez says:

    The book I coauthored, Expert Twisted, is out!

    • Walter says:

      Congratulations! That’s quite an accomplishment!

    • Glenn says:

      Congrats, that’s awesome!

      Do you have any tips for someone who would like to write / co-write a technical book of this sort someday? Probably in the blockchain space, because that’s realistically the most marketable expertise I have, and also the only area in which I can realistically say I’m starting to build a professional reputation (with open source contributions, and one talk given so far, and a second one on the way.) What does it take to get to the point where this is possible? I see you are a Python core dev, so I imagine your reputation as an expert was key in getting this opportunity.

  18. Moorlock says:

    What follows is some free advice on how to boost the effectiveness of your effective altruism.

    Taxation is one way to direct resources to social needs. But governments are notoriously inefficient, they choose which needs to fund poorly, and they often create problems rather than solve them.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could rechannel the money that you currently give to governments via taxation into more efficient and effective (and less counter-productive) activities?

    You can: it’s called tax redirection and it has been pioneered by conscientious objectors to military taxation a.k.a. war tax resisters. It’s a form of civil disobedience, and there are a variety of ways to go about it depending on your goals and your risk tolerance.

    Find out more about it at these links:

    Give your taxes to the solidarity economy

    Redirection

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Charitable donations are already tax deductible. I’m not a tax expert but it looks like you could deduct up to half of your gross income in this way, at least on federal taxes.

      Why risk going to federal prison in order to do something that’s already perfectly legal?

      • Charles F says:

        Because a deduction reduces your taxable income, it’s not directly subtracted from the taxes you owe. If you deduct 50% of your income you’re still supposed to pay taxes on the rest. So if you have a marginal tax rate of 25% and you want to reduce your tax burden by X, you have to donate 4X. But these people are just donating the amount they owe and then not paying any taxes. So what they want to do is not quite the perfectly legal thing.

    • Evan Þ says:

      I would happily do this myself if it were it legal, and I would recommend my friends do it as well. However, as it is, I think getting investigated and fined by the IRS and potentially going to federal prison – at least temporarily, maybe permanently, cutting my earning capacity – would be very ineffective altruism.

      What’s more, I’m not sure it would be good on balance for this to be legal. Most people are not effective altruists (citation needed), and even if AMF is far more effective than the US Government, the Foundation for Curing Rare Diseases in Cute Puppies is less effective. What’s more, this would mean government can’t forecast future tax revenue, which would dramatically cut the effectiveness of levels of government that can’t print money. Would this offset the advantages of having marginally less foreign war and militarized police and unintentionally-poverty-enhancing services? I don’t know – but it might.

    • Aapje says:

      But governments are notoriously inefficient

      Partly because they have to go after people who refuse to pay their taxes 😛

  19. theriac says:

    This is a “looking for a job” post.

    I’m looking for something in data science/statistics/machine learning, ideally somewhere warm. I’ve got an MS in statistics and experience with:

    – genomics and huge datasets
    – electronic medical records, particularly Epic (extracting data; operational reporting; interfaces between different systems e.g. EMR & lab system; clinician workflows; software upgrades; debugging; … if you ask about it, I’ve probably done it.)
    – analytics on EMR data and subsequent presentation to C-suite

    I’ve also got a good amount of programming experience, particularly in the context of EMRs and analytics (Python, R, SAS, SQL, Intersystems Cache, ..). Conveying technical information to non-technicals (teaching, consulting, webinars, etc.) is something that’s been threaded through a lot of my work. Hoping to find a job in or adjacent to statistics or data science where I can learn new things about interesting subjects. Positive impact’s a plus. Please drop me a comment here to get in touch. Thanks!

    • T3t says:

      I work at Tinder and we’re hiring for both ML (in Palo Alto) and Data Engineering (both in Los Angeles and Palo Alto) roles. It sounds like you’re closer to the first end of that spectrum, but feel free to shoot me your resume at betterscale@protonmail.com – happy to talk about it more.

      I don’t know that your last condition applies, at least in the EA sense, but we do have a little-known donation matching program up to $15k/year (which is larger than anybody other major player I know of in the industry – even Google “only” matches up to $12k).

      • cesium says:

        Where did you get that $12k figure from on Google charitable donation matches? AFAIK, the match caps at $6k, but I remember hearing $12k a few years ago, although I can’t find any documents corroborating that.

    • wilykat says:

      The team that sits next to me at Square is hiring data scientists (https://www.smartrecruiters.com/Square/743999681916639) and the role seems to match up well with your experience. We think it’s positive impact as well, and if you want to work on ethics in AI, I’d have a great side project for you.

      If you’re interested, email me at mjl3@hotmail.com and I can tell you a bit more about it. I don’t know if SF qualifies as “warm” though…

    • ThomasStearns says:

      My team’s hiring! Remote or not. contact thomas dot stearns26 @ gmail.

      https://www.datarobot.com/careers/job/1595358/

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      I work at Indeed, and we’re hiring for a few positions that meet that description (Austin, Bay Area, Tokyo, Seattle, Hyderabad, and Singapore are the warmest locations). Feel free to e-mail me at [first initial] [last name] at gmail.com

    • practicalmachine says:

      I work for MITRE, we’re a non-profit, we’re really big on hiring data analytics at the moment, and we love advanced degrees. Main campuses are in MA and VA, but there’s other campuses and telecommuters everywhere in the US, so you could probably be someplace warm.

      We’re a collection of FFRDCs – there’s a great combination of research and real-world work to pick and choose from. Some work is sponsored by the defense industry, but other work is for the IRS, CDC, etc. There’s also a lot of emphasis on health care right now – predicting outcomes, understanding the opioid epidemic, etc.

      Shoot me a resume and I can give you a referral – I’m ekarpins @ gmail.

    • JalexStark says:

      I’d advise you to include prop trading firms in your search. I think Virtu has an office in Austin (since being warm is important). SIG, Jane Street, Two Sigma, jump trading, etc. have offices in NYC.

  20. jbombastor says:

    After over a year of work, I’m finally demoing my project, the Exertia Joyride. We’ll be Kickstarting it as soon as we feel we’ve got enough of a following to have a good chance of success.

    I see this as a chance to alter the payoff matrix when it comes to healthy living, by tying the onerous task of exercise to the reward of the much more pleasant one of playing games.

    I really really want this to take off in a BIG way: My country has a flailing NHS with a titanic obesity crisis steadily lumbering towards it. This project seems to me to be the most realistic way to avert it.

    (I also have a suspicion that it will do a lot to help with mental illness, anxiety and depression, but I don’t want to make any strong claims on that front in case I get shouted at.)

    You can see the website here: https://www.exertia.co.uk and here’s a video of the first people to try it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DDIQq-_PKY

    • jbombastor says:

      Oh yeah – since I’m here I should mention the other stuff.

      I’m now supposed to be raising awareness of the project which, being an engineer, doesn’t come naturally to me.

      But if anyone is or knows journalists, “influencers”, or otherwise popular people, please do get in touch or just talk about this project wherever.

      Even simple actions like sharing us on social media would really help a lot.

      We are also keen to talk to game developers, especially those who use Unity, especially especially those who live near London or Kent.

      And while I’m at it, anyone with the skills who wants to get involved with the product design should feel free to message as well.

      You can send us messages on our Facebook or Twitter things (they’re on the footer of our website) or just use the website’s contact form.

    • Viliam says:

      Fantastic! Any idea I thought I would write here… you already thought about it first.

      I’d like to hear more about the software side. You mention Unity. Will it be possible to program in other frameworks/languages? How do you plan to distribute the games?

      • jbombastor says:

        Hello Viliam, and thanks!

        Software side: yes, we want to support as many languages, frameworks, applications and OSes as possible. We’re starting with Unity on Windows because that’s the most popular and beginner-friendly.

        Distribution: the regular channels (Steam for PC, the apps stores for phones, Oculus’ store for VR, etc.) as well as the alt channels (GameJolt, itch.io, etc.) We would consider rolling our own launcher or store iff there was a demand for it, but it’s not our intention to lock developers in. Basically, it’s up to the individual devs where they want to distribute their work. You’ll be able to search games from our website, in any case.

    • Aapje says:

      @jbombastor

      According to your site, 2 out of 3 people who are interested just want to virtually pedal around a landscape. However, this feature is already available, both for bicycle trainers (that you put your bike on) and home trainers, like the Wattbike Atom, Proform Bicycle Indoor Tour de France and Tacx Neo Bike Smart.

      The exercise market is known for being very high in intent and very low in follow through. If people who want to virtually pedal in a landscape haven’t bought one of the existing offerings, then why would they buy an Exertia Joyride? I predict that very few of those who like the concept of your trainer or enjoy it during a demo, but who don’t already have an advanced trainer, will actually be willing to buy one, for a realistic price. After all, they already demonstrated that they won’t buy the existing offerings.

      The other part of the product, the gamification, seems to be somewhat innovative, in that you put controllers in people’s hands, which seems new for bicycle-based products. However, both Microsoft and Nintendo have tried to gamify exercise, with Kinect and Wii. Both suffered severely from a lack of good titles and ultimately went back to traditional game platforms without gamified exercise. It seems that it is quite hard to produce games that gamify exercise in a truly enjoyable way. Game developers seemed to either lack the ability to produce good games that took advantage of these new features and/or were unwilling to invest the money needed to ‘crack’ the challenge (apparently believing that the payoff would not be there).

      Note that Xbox and Nintendo are huge platforms, who have a huge draw on developers, that you cannot expect for the Exertia Joyride. So there is a very high chance that at your product’s initial launch and for a period afterwards (potentially forever), the titles that you develop yourself will have to carry your product or that you will have to heavily depend on existing cycling training apps.

      CycleOps say that their trainer is compatible with all existing training apps. Have you looked into also doing that so you can take advantage of software that has already been developed?

      You come across as someone who is delusionally idealistic. To me, a semi-realistic short term success for your product is as a niche product that is marginally better than the existing trainers for the cost, for part of the existing advanced trainer market. You seem to be aiming for the casual end of the home market, which is a very tough one, because they are the least committed and most price sensitive.

      If you get incredibly lucky and don’t make any major mistakes, that niche product may turn into a hype (like shoes with wheels) which sells huge before imploding, once the hype is over. Of course, the expected pricing for your product makes a hype not so likely (potential for hype is inversely correlated with price).

      I don’t see any realistic chance of achieving your idealistic goals, unless you somehow benefit from some amazing technological breakthrough, which I’m not seeing.

      PS. A risk with idealism and grand goals is that you might be aiming for a product that is great for everyone, but will end up with a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, that (almost) no one will actually want to buy.

      • Reasoner says:

        All entrepreneurs are delusionally idealistic.

        Peloton is a huge recent successful company in this space. jbombastor, I’d suggest reading about them and trying to understand and learn from their success. Perhaps try to piggy-back on it somehow, e.g. “we’re Peloton but fun”. Or “we’re Peloton but in VR”.

        Also suggest setting up a kickstarter before trying to drive interest by talking to journalists etc., that way you can translate attention into actual sales.

        • jbombastor says:

          Hello Reasoner,

          Thank you for your interest. As it happens, everyone we have consulted has given the opposite advice: gain the following before the Kickstarter starts. Quite apart from increasing your confidence of success, the first-day influx of your existing followers games the Kickstarter system into boosting you into greater prominence on the site.

          Regarding Peloton, I do not believe it would be possible for Peloton to recreate all the same offerings as the Joyride. They would require different hardware in their device, and they would need to move to an open model for app/game development, which I don’t believe they want or need to do – they are already well-adapted to their user base.

          Peloton’s customer is already fit and interested in apps/social, not games. Joyride’s customer base is casuals and gamers who want a more immersive experience and wouldn’t mind getting fit into the bargain, or those with the same priorities but reversed. There may be some overlap but I don’t think Peloton and Exertia have much to fear from each other.

          I’ll leave the “delusional” comment for my response to Aapje. It’s a very common word that has been slung at most successful and unsuccessful throughout history.

        • Aapje says:

          @Reasoner

          All entrepreneurs are delusionally idealistic.

          A limited amount is good so they actually do something. Too much results in failure.

          Peloton is a huge recent successful company in this space. jbombastor, I’d suggest reading about them and trying to understand and learn from their success.

          Peloton’s niche seems to be that they bring some of the advantages of a gym to your home, mainly the scheduled classes with a live instructor. This helps combat procrastination, encourages people to complete the entire session and makes people happy with the social experience (I suspect that their customers are overwhelmingly women).

          This seems to be a good offering for wealthy people who want a high quality experience, but greatly value their time, so don’t want to travel to a gym.

          It’s a good market to aim for: relatively low price sensitivity and the product doesn’t require huge investments. They seem to want to target more price sensitive markets now, which is generally a good way to do things: start off with the easy money and then try to go for the harder segments later.

          • At a considerable tangent, what you seem to be discussing, combining a video game with exercise, is an idea I came up with thirty years or so back and used as a hypothetical invention in a law school IP exam. Interesting if, as Aapje seems to be suggesting, it still hasn’t taken off.

            How fancy are the existing versions? Part of mine was software that monitored signs of muscle exhaustion, such as slower response for things that required the right arm to do something, and modified the game to require more effort by the muscles not yet tired.

            My version was an anti-aircraft gun on the Yamato, trying to bring down the American bombers attacking the pride of the Imperial navy. Right and left required effort by the arms, up and down by the legs. If the pulse rate gets above its target range, the attack eases. I can see that a bicycle would be easier to do, but I think harder to target particular groups of muscles.

          • dick says:

            Aapje is wrong, Wii Fit was hugely popular. If you don’t count bundles it’s the second-best selling console game of all time. I think there might be a market for such games after all!

            I won’t disagree that trying to make a game platform and an exercise bike at the same time is a pretty daunting pitch. Conventional wisdom would be to make a gaming rig that fits on the customer’s existing bike, or a bike that works with the customer’s existing gaming console/controller. However, conventional wisdom isn’t always right, and the demo video looks really impressive.

            Two questions come to mind for OP:

            1) Have you considered pitching to gyms rather than end consumers? They buy a lot of exercise equipment, and replace it a lot more often.

            2) Any racing games in the works? Seems like a super-obvious natural fit. My gym has a row of TVs in front of the bikes permanently set to crap daytime TV, if one of them was hooked up to Need 4 Speed or Mario Kart instead, I’m pretty confident there would be a line for it!

          • jbombastor says:

            @dick:

            Thanks, for being so nice about our humble demo vid.

            Yes, we will target gyms, offices and home use. Gyms and home use for obvious reasons. Offices because this kind of thing is becoming trendy and increasingly many employers are noticing that getting people’s blood flowing in their breaks causes productivity to increase.

            We did initially look into adapting existing bikes – as have many other companies. It doesn’t work well enough for us, you can make exercise apps but you don’t get the precision needed for “real” games. It’s also not uniform enough for a game dev to be able to make design choices around.

            Another thing we will work on is allowing input from the Joyride to fake mouse and keyboard actions in the OS. This will mean our “platform” actually covers all existing games, and you’ll be able to pedal around in Red Dead Redemption.

            Super Mario Kart’s spiritual successor is very definitely on the cards. During testing we have found that we can adjust the latency of the handlebars to make it feel like you’re drunk. It’s going to be an awesome alternative to the banana peel.

          • jbombastor says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’d be interested to see what you did on the anti-aircraft gun. It sounds like we’re singing from similar hymn sheets.

            We also thought about using the arms early on. Then our research told us that swimming and cycling are the most universal forms of exercise, as in they’re suitable for the widest range of people.

            I will spare you my highly impractical immediate thoughts on putting Bacta-style swimming tanks in everyone’s homes.

          • @jbombastor:

            Here is the description of the idea from my Future Imperfect.

            If what you want is exercise, the obvious solution is bigger joysticks. Combine a video game with an exercise machine. Working the exercise machine controls what is happening in the game. Just as with real world athletics, you only notice how tired you are after you have won or lost. Primitive implementations, most notably Dance Dance Revolution, already exist.

            In my improved version, virtual games become better exercise than real games because the environment that the computer creates is being tailored, second by second, to your body’s needs. The setting is the Pacific during the second world war. You are controlling an anti-aircraft gun on the Yamato, the world’s biggest battleship, desperately trying to defend it against waves of American bombers attempting by sheer brute force to destroy the glory of the Japanese navy. You traverse the gun left and right with your arms, lower or elevate the barrel with foot controls; when you release the controls it swings back to center. Your strength is physically moving the gun, so it isn’t surprising that it’s a lot of work.

            After the third wave, the computer controlling the game notices that you are having trouble swinging the gun rapidly to the left–your left arm is tiring. The next attack comes from the right. As the right arm becomes equally tired, more and more of the attacks require you to adjust the elevation of the gun, shifting the work to your legs. When your heartbeat reaches the upper boundary of your aerobic target zone, there is a break in the attack, during which you hear martial music. As your heartbeat slows, the next wave comes in. Tennis may be both fun and exercise but art, well done art, improves on nature.

            I found a somewhat jumbled text of the 1992 exam I used the idea in. It doesn’t specify my anti-aircraft version, does explain the idea with a variety of imaginary ideas designed to raise issues in patent law. I can send it to you if you like. My email is on my web page. Or you can message me on FB.

          • DinoNerd says:

            what you seem to be discussing, combining a video game with exercise,

            To an extent, the WII did this. (WII Fit etc.) Not well enough to keep me interested though.

      • jbombastor says:

        Hello Aapje,

        We’re actually running out the door to go to EGXRezzed right now, but I will respond to your post in time.

      • jbombastor says:

        Hello Aapje:

        Three things really to say about the word “delusional”:

        Firstly, it’s very difficult to respond to being called “delusional” because the word itself doesn’t actually give you enough real information. You obviously need some vision to even explore at all, and those without it will not understand why you’re doing that. There’s no obvious line or Schelling point where that force goes from “just enough” to “too much” – and while you can certainly draw one retrospectively from the armchair, it’s not very much use to the next man along who’s looking at slightly different circumstances.

        Secondly, “delusion” blurs into “vision” on the one end, but also “marketing speak” on the other. Naturally the Exertia website was not written with the sensibilities of the Rationalist community in mind. I would suggest that if you go before the general public speaking nothing but measured, careful truths complete with citations and P-values, they won’t have a lot of patience with it.

        And thirdly, yes I am unashamedly very ambitious for this project. I think the cascading effects of something like this could be very big, and very necessary. We haven’t felt the real pressure of the obesity crisis yet – that will happen in the coming decades. Existing approaches are simply not working very well, and I believe attacking the psychology is a much more potent solution.

        If it doesn’t work out, and I end up “merely” in possession of a successful niche product, that won’t be a failure on me. But I would consider that the society around me has missed an opportunity.

        *

        Regarding your other points:

        As I mentioned, psychology is our starting point. The high intent and low followthrough problem you talk about is exactly what we set out to solve.

        With a Joyride in your house, you’ll be able to think to yourself, “I’m tired but I feel the urge, since it was fun last time. I’ll just turn the difficulty down to zero and hop off after five minutes.”

        Then after five minutes you’re free to hop off or say, “Alright then make it ten,” and after 15 minutes you can find yourself incrementing the difficulty back up til you’re breaking a sweat.

        This is a very, very different prospect to what exists now.

        *

        Regarding games:

        You are correct that a huge part of our value proposition is having a large library of games ready to play.

        As I mentioned to dick, we will be allowing the Joyride to fake mouse and keyboard movements to the OS – customisable on a per-app basis and including “compound” commands like (pedal forward slowly –> UP ARROW), (pedal forward quickly –> SHIFT+UP ARROW). This means our platform already covers existing games and we’re not starting from nothing.

        But even if we were, we’d still have reasons to be optimistic.

        From testing we have found that it’s significantly easier to make satisfying Joyride games than sedentary games. The most popular level so far – while definitely still a demo not a finished article – took me less than three days. At least two days of which were spent on fiddling around improving how our library works, which other game devs will not be doing.

        I’d be interested to find out why this is. My working theory is something about full-body engagement taking up more of your brain, and the act of just using your muscles being intrinsically joyful, both meaning you don’t need so many bells and whistles to keep people’s interest.

        But the upshot is that a much smaller number of devs can create a much larger number of games than you would expect they can. The fact that many customers won’t be gamers and will be impressed simply by environments or walking simulators works even more in our favour.

        We also have a natural alliance with indie devs.

        Currently indie devs are fighting for air in a highly saturated market, and seeking any opportunity for exposure. The Joyride is a very newsworthy product with a clear point of difference and (as of right now) there’s very little competition for your audience’s attention.

        It’s relatively easy for an indie dev to create a very enjoyable Joyride game. They can then either keep making them and selling them to make their living, or they can give them away and use the exposure to re-direct attention to other projects they wish to work on.

        There are an awful lot of indie devs and among them are some highly talented artists and programmers. Once we’ve polished our software a bit more, we’ll be releasing it and focussing on outreach.

        For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqE_DLjTiU0

        • Aapje says:

          My working theory is something about full-body engagement taking up more of your brain, and the act of just using your muscles being intrinsically joyful, both meaning you don’t need so many bells and whistles to keep people’s interest.

          Many sedentary people don’t seem to get much enjoyment out of using their muscles, which is a reason why they don’t exercise in the first place.

          The fact that many customers won’t be gamers and will be impressed simply by environments or walking simulators works even more in our favour.

          This seems like bad logic. These people are not impressed enough by current top tier games to play them.

          So your exercise integration will have to make up for their reluctance to play games, their reluctance to exercise and possibly the lesser quality of your games as games.

        • Aapje says:

          Perhaps gamers who want to get fit are a better niche than non-gamers.

    • Vitor says:

      So, I’m a member of the demoscene, which is a computer art subculture focused on creating cool visuals / music / whatever that runs on computers of all kinds (including old and/or weird hardware).

      I bring this up because it seems like a potential match for your weird outside the box gaming platform. Many sceners do gamedev/graphics programming professionally, and will often put in a disproportionate amount of their free time into a demo just for the fun and creative expression it provides. Some of them could be interested in making a game (or a weird interactive experience thingy) for your bike.

      For example, you could become a sponsor of a demoparty, maybe even set up your prototype there for people to try out. Revision (the biggest annual demoparty, revision-party.net) is coming up in a couple of weeks. I did some searching and there is also a party that takes place in the UK (novaparty.org).

      • jbombastor says:

        Hello Vitor,

        I had honestly never heard of the demoscene in my life before now. I will have to check it out. But the idea of using the Joyride to make dynamically created cool visualisations (if I understand this correctly) is an awesome one.

        • Vitor says:

          Yes, you get the gist of it. Demoscene productions can go all the way from realistically modelled landscapes to abstract lightshows, and I could imagine both of these extremes being interesting to experience.

          Feel free to hit me up if you want to chat. I’m algorias on the big G’s mailing service.

      • rlms says:

        Any advice for getting into demoscene? I did some similar stuff in Shadertoy for uni coursework but I’m not sure what the best way to get started with bigger projects is.

        • Vitor says:

          Hmm, that’s a very broad question. Do you know a musician who could provide you with a track? are you a good artist / designer / director, or do you just want to be a coder? If you have your own creative vision that you want to realize that’s a lot different than if you’d just be happy to join an existing group and hack on whatever the group’s doing.

          I guess the simple answer is to go to a demoparty and just start talking to people. Most demoparties are located in Europe. It’s a lot easier if you live here or can easily afford to travel for a long weekend. Alternatively, just start talking to people online.

          The easiest way to get started is in the “demo” category, i.e., modern hardware without any limitations other than being realtime. You can just load your music from a file. You can use java, .net or whatever. You can store 3d models as data without needing to worry about compression and creating everything procedurally. You can even use unity or some other commercial engine (though some people will react negatively to this). In this category, you’ll be judged on your creative merits more than your elite coding skills, unless you’re able to compete with the absolutely crazy stuff that top groups like fairlight produce.

          You should take a look at some tools if you want to go that route. vvvv.org, github.com/rocket and tooll.io are the ones that immediately spring to mind. I’m a size coder myself, so I haven’t used these personally. There is bound to be a huge list of demotools *somewhere*, but I’d have to look for it.

          Other categories are tougher: doing 4k or 64k productions requires lots of upfront effort and most groups have some kind of homebrew tool they hacked together over the course of years. Some of these tools are quite mature and freely available (e.g. crinkler for compression and 4klang or clinkster for music have become somewhat of a standard in the 4k category). Again, there must be some “getting started doing your own 4k” guide somewhere.

          If you’re interested in oldskool platforms like amiga and C64, I’m the wrong person to ask.

          Hope that helps, and feel free to get in touch. I’m a bit busy right now though, spending all my free time working on a little something for revision. I’ll be more relaxed after easter.

          • rlms says:

            Thanks! I’m mostly interested in 4k I think; I like the idea of doing cool shader stuff. I can definitely make music in general, not sure about doing it highly compressed, and would also like to do the design side.

          • Vitor says:

            Ok, I got some links related to 4k intros for you. For the record, I think 4k is a good category if you’re going solo. I have a lot of experience with raytracing using distance fields, so if you have specific questions about that part, just drop me a line (email in comment above)

            https://in4k.github.io/wiki/about: general resources page

            http://www.kameli.net/compofillerstudio/: This seems to be a simple framework appropriate for your first 4k.

            http://4klang.untergrund.net/: the best soft synth for 4ks. IIRC, you just create a track in a standard music program, then use a plugin to export it. The hard part is having decent instruments, and writing music that sounds interesting and also compresses well.

      • WashedOut says:

        Hey Vitor and responders:

        I make music for visual art experiments similar to what you’ve described. I have an ad in this classifieds – check it out if you’re ever in need of purpose-written instrumental electronic music to sit behind (or ‘alongside’) these visuals.

        Or go straight to the source: vilemedia[at]protonmail[dot]com

    • Glenn says:

      I recently got a stationary bike to set up in front of my projection screen and pedal while I watch Netflix. I would totally be interested in a gamified stationary bike. Here are some thoughts that seem relevant for your product:
      – The pedal feel of the magnetic resistance on this bike is weird and unnatural, and that’s very annoying. To be pleasant, it should feel like pedaling an actual bike, with smooth rotation over the entirety of a revolution, plus some inertia. I don’t know how easy that is to produce but I’d encourage you to aim for it.
      – I got this specific model because it has heart-rate sensing handles, and continuous heartrate display is useful feedback on exercise quality. It seems like you would benefit a lot from having heartrate input on your bike, so that the game can adjust the difficulty to optimize for some target heartrate profile. HOWEVER. The heart rate sensor in this bike is garbage, and has a tendency to read values that (1) do not match the reading I get from my fitbit, which has a better sensor, and (2) would probably kill me, if they were real. So if you go this route, which I encourage, make sure the sensor quality is good.

      • Aapje says:

        I think that handlebar heart-rate monitoring is inherently bad. To do it well, you need a wrist-band or even better a chest-band.

        However, that is a relatively high burden to put on.

        • Glenn says:

          Well I have a wristband (the fitbit), but it doesn’t solve the problem, which is that I want to see a continuous real-time heartrate readout while I’m working out, so I can adjust my effort for optimum heartrate. If there were some kind of wireless accessory that could transmit to the bike or something, maybe. But the fitbit is closed-source cloud-garbage, so it’s only useful for retrospective measurement.

          (You can see realtime heartrate on the device, but that requires both hands and two swiping motions each time you want to do it. You can see heartrate online, but it’s aggregated in five-minute buckets and delayed another five, so it’s really not useful for much.)

          • Aapje says:

            The chest-bands are wireless (usually using the ANT+ protocol) and are commonly used by (semi-)pro cyclists during training and races.

  21. Celestia says:

    Do you enjoy the outdoors? Interested in being on top of tall things? Have you seen the face of the Ice?

    I’m interested in starting a group for rationalist/rat-adj hikers, backpackers, and amateur mountaineers. This would primarily be based out of California and the US West Coast.

    Right now it’s a couple of people I know, including @shakeddown here. I’ve mostly done routes that are non-technical (e.g. https://i.imgur.com/tAa1xRA.jpg), as well as a bunch of hiking in the area, but I’d love to learn more! In the next couple months I have plans to go up Whitney, Shasta, Hood, Adams, and optimistically Rainier. I also have organized smaller hikes in SoCal and the Bay.

    If that sounds appealing feel free to reply here, send me an email (the.god.empress.celestia ‘at’ gmail.com), or PM me on discord (Celestia#1024)

    • bassicallyboss says:

      I like this idea a lot! I live in Colorado though, and am not likely to make it out to the Sierras or Cascades often. I’d like to stay in the loop on this anyway, just in case. I’ll check back in here later, and I opted-in to get notified of follow-ups by email.

  22. Some here may be interested in one or another of my books.

    Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, a draft of which was reviewed here by Scott, is now available as both a kindle and a print copy.

    The Machinery of Freedom, third edition, also reviewed here by Scott. Print copy and kindle.

    Hidden Order, the Economics of Everyday Life, has not been reviewed by Scott. It’s my attempt to teach the basics of economics in the form of a book that’s fun to read.

    Law’s Order is my account of the economic analysis of law, the field I specialized in for a good deal of my academic career. Like Hidden Order, it is designed to be readable for fun by the proverbial intelligent layman. In addition to the print and kindle versions, it can also be read for free from my web page.

    My first novel, Harald, was published by Baen as fantasy, but it’s actually a historical novel with invented history and geography–no magic, no elves or dwarves.

    My second novel, Salamander, was published by me. It is a fantasy. The setting is about fifty years after the magical equivalent of Newton took the first large steps to converting magic from a craft to a science.

    My third novel, Brothers, the sequel to Salamander, is almost finished, and I will be happy to send a beta version to anyone willing to read it and comment. It still needs a cover, and there are some problems with the artists who were working on one, so if anyone wants to read it and design a cover …

    I am a long time member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which does medieval and renaissance stuff for fun. In that context, my wife and I have published two books. The Miscellany is 300+ pages of medieval cooking, essays, poetry, articles on building stuff, et multae caetera. You can get it as a free pdf from my web page, or buy a print copy from Amazon.

    How to Milk an Almond, Stuff an Egg, and Armor a Turnip is the cooking part of the Miscellany, published separately. Also available both as a free pdf from my web page and as a print copy from Amazon.

    And for lots more of my stuff, including links to free webbed copies of books and articles, recordings of my talks, and much more, see my web page.

    • switchnode says:

      I read Salamander a couple of years ago, enjoyed it overall despite a handful of objections, and am very much interested in beta-reading Brothers. You can contact me through this privacy alias. (Unfortunately, I don’t think I have the skills to be of value on the cover front.)

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Have you ever written a textbook?

      A few months back my girlfriend was looking over my shoulder and expressed surprise that you were a commenter here. She recognized your name from a book that she had been assigned in college (it was definitely your name and not your father’s) but didn’t remember what book. She was a pre-med biology major so it had to have been from a general education course.

      It’s not incredibly important but I’ve been curious and this seems like a good time to ask.

      • Aapje says:

        He wrote “Price theory: An intermediate text,” which seems a plausible candidate.

      • My first textbook was Price Theory: An Intermediate Text. It’s been out of print for a long time, but I have a webbed version up for free, and I’m currently in the process of creating a kindle of it.

        My Hidden Order, which is basically Price Theory rewritten to target the intelligent layman, can also be used as a text. Also my Law’s Order and, less likely, Future Imperfect.

        There is also a different Price Theory by my father, but I wouldn’t expect it to be used as a text outside a course for econ majors or grad students.

      • lazydragonboy says:

        I had a similar sensation when I was reading The Undoing Project and he was mentioned in relation to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. However, I just now searched my kindle edition to find the precise context in which he was mentioned, and it turns out he wasn’t! Rather than David Friedman, it was David Freedman at the University of California Berkeley who defended Amos and Tversky from an attack by a statistically illiterate philosopher.

    • JRichards says:

      A few years ago I taught a “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” workshop at Sing Sing, a federal prison in upstate NY. One of my students was an extremely talented painter. I asked him to do my cover art for the fiction I was writing and he agreed. He’s been doing my cover art ever since, and I highly recommend him if you’re looking for an artist.

      It’s a little hard to communicate with him as he’s still serving his sentence, but if you’re interested, I’d be happy to pass on how to write to him or to show you some of the work he’s done for me if you want a sample.

  23. benjdenny says:

    If anybody needs a reasonably competent assistant/admin/office manager/executive assistant type in Phoenix, hit me up; I’m always looking.

    • Nornagest says:

      I read that on my first pass as “reasonably competent assassin”, and now I’m a little disappointed.

      • benjdenny says:

        I like the concept of a guy who kills with stealth, precision and the ever-present knowledge that he still needs to print about four sheets of stamps if he’s going to get all the achievement awards out by EoB.

      • quanta413 says:

        Either I made the same mistake, or I clumped OP together your response as I scanned down the page.

    • Elementaldex says:

      If you are willing to relocate to Tucson reply with a way to contact you and I can get you an interview (assuming your resume matches your eight word description and you can use excel well).

      • benjdenny says:

        I am a living demi-god of Excel, but unfortunately I have too many roots cast in Phoenix to easily relocate at this point. Thank you very much for thinking of me, though.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Consider applying to the Leslie’s Poolmart corporate office- my last day there is tomorrow, but it can still be a great place to work (especially on the ecommerce side), and I know we’re hiring for a few analyst and admin style jobs.

  24. theodidactus says:

    Hello Everyone,
    Recently, I was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology. We publish legal scholarship on…well…law, science, and technology.

    A big part of my platform was an expanded social media presence, in particular, I want to do more informal blog posts. Normally, these posts are written by law students on a topic of their choosing, but I want to reach out to potential guest writers from other communities that have interesting things to say about law and tech.

    If you’d be interested in writing something for us in the next year (starting this coming fall) please write me at Dooli046@umn.edu and tell me a potential topic and your background. I can’t promise I’ll be able to respond to all proposals (it depends on how many I get).

    – William Dooling

  25. Hey, Bay Area people interested in the study of society: I’m giving a talk on institutional health at the Red Victorian on Tuesday April 9. Event details are here. I’ve copied the description below:

    Some institutions are regularly capable of great and novel feats of coordination; they build large infrastructure projects, rapidly mobilize resources, and organize to meet new challenges. Others struggle with much smaller problems; their efforts get strangled by bureaucracy, or expended in unresolvable infighting, or whittled away by corruption. In everything from small companies to large social movements to entire societies, we see massive differences in how well institutions function.

    This talk is about institutional health, a measure of the internal functioning of organizations large and small. We’ll cover what it is and how it works, how to use it to predict an organization’s trajectory, and how to evaluate institutional health in practical cases.

    About our speaker:

    Ben Landau-Taylor studies sociology, strategy, and the long-term future of civilization. He works at Bismarck Analysis, a consultancy which analyzes institutions and power dynamics.

    • Reasoner says:

      I won’t be able to make your talk, but I’m glad you’re thinking about this stuff, Ben. Hope you can apply your insights to EA organizations, improving the internal governance structure of organizations which might create AGI, improved social media websites, improved government bureaucracy etc.

  26. J.R. says:

    Any interest in meeting for drinks/coffee/tea in the Twin Cities (MN) area? I imagine I’d get along well with a large cross-section of the readership here. We can discuss classic SSC topics, or veer off into any other shared interests we have.

    • RavenclawPrefect says:

      Lots of interest! You (and any other such readers) are welcome to shoot me an email at “graham’s number is big” sans punctuation and spaces at gmail.

    • Elena Yudovina says:

      Also interested, last name at gmail. A potential complication is that I’m tethered to a two month old, which does things to my schedule. (And he’s likely, albeit not guaranteed, to come along anywhere I’m going, with predictable effects on my attention span.)

  27. Erica Edelman says:

    Job seeker here! (Startups, Operations, Office Management, Personal Assistant, Customer Satisfaction, Anything You Think I’d Be Useful For)

    I recently graduated from App Academy and am currently working for them part time as a Hacker in Residence. So I have some coding skills, but am mainly looking for work that deals more with people (Coding is stressful for me, but I actively enjoy CSS). So I’m looking for positions including: Operations, Office Management, Customer Satisfaction, etc. But I’m open to a big range of things.

    I’m good at public speaking, teaching, organizing (people, places, and activities), and getting things done.

    My experience includes doing remote research for MIRI, being the Doer-of-All-Things for the startup Beeminder, and a lot of nannying/family assistance work. I led Columbus Rationality for a number of years, and do volunteer work organizing and teaching with the SCA (historical non-profit).

    I currently live in Berkeley, but am willing to relocate for the right position.

    My LinkedIn is here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erica-edelman-29422a68/
    My software portfolio site is here: https://edelman.netlify.com/#

    • magana says:

      My company is hiring, and it’d be nice to hang out with another SSC reader.

      https://pillartechnology.com/careers

    • Reasoner says:

      Unsolicited career advice incoming, feel free to ignore.

      Have you thought about becoming a designer? I’ve talked to some designer co-workers of mine and been surprised by how low the bar seems to be. If you like CSS and know some front-end, then all that’s missing is the “design sense” aspect, which I think might be easier to acquire than you realize. The Non-Designer’s Design Book is great. Then you put together a portfolio and assuming it’s good, people will be like “Wow a designer who also knows how to code some? You’re the unicorn we need!” Disclaimer: I don’t actually know what I’m talking about, do your own research.

      With regard to finding X stressful, a surprisingly effective strategy for me in removing this has been to repeatedly pair the stressful stimulus with something that’s relaxing: alcohol, chamomile tea, things Examine.com recommends, etc. Another good strategy is to do it in small chunks with frequent breaks until over time you don’t get as much of a stress response anymore. Exposure therapy basically.

      • a reader says:

        Don’t know if any of your suggestions would be useful to the OP, but I think “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” may be useful to me, as a new designer with very little formal training, so thank you!

      • Erica Edelman says:

        I pretty much had reverse exposure therapy at App Academy.

        I had already self-hacked into enjoying code (so it isn’t my “natural” state), but then for 16 weeks every time I looked at code it was a stressful firehose that was always a step or two further than I was, and instead of being able to take breaks I had to do it 60+ hours/ week.

        Now, I can hardly even get myself to look at production code, nonetheless DO it. I still enjoy teaching the basics for App Academy’s prep program (teaching is fun!), and giving entrance interviews for AA (also on the basics), which is what I’m doing for work atm. And I had a job coding challenge that was just writing SQL queries, and that was fun. But I don’t think I’ll be at a place where I can happily do full production code any time soon.

        But I AM, in fact, particularly good at all the other things. I am very good at actually getting things done. I am good at people. I am good at organizing. So it makes more sense to focus my job search on my strengths, than to try to continue to push coding.

    • Erusian says:

      I’d suggest you look into becoming a front end engineer/designer. The pay can be good and designers with technical skills are very rare and valuable. Also, to be honest, writing CSS is a very common task that gets punted around. I legitimately think you’re the first person to tell me you enjoy CSS. Do you also like SASS/LESS etc?

      Anyway, there’s more money and more a future in being a designer/front end developer than an office manager. I’d try to eventually parlay those skills (like public speaking/teaching) into management.

      • Erica Edelman says:

        Consider that I’m already well aware that office managers make much less money, and yet still decided it was a better route for me.

        CSS-only coders/ pixel-pushers don’t make much more money than office managers.

        I can’t make it past a coding challenge, because I can’t bring myself to actually do it (unless it’s just algorithms or something).

        I don’t have any other weird anxieties or blocks. Just coding. Which makes me miserable.

        • Erusian says:

          If that is your wish. I’d suggest trying to get around it if you can but ultimately my advice is just a suggestion. I will say that front end developer/designers do make more than office managers unless it’s a really large office (which is a senior position). The entire payscale shifts unpward.

          Is Boston, New York, or DC of any interest? I know some office manager positions there. I can ask if they’re open.

          • Erica Edelman says:

            I don’t know if we’re talking about the same thing by “front end developer”. Do you think you can find a *CSS only* job (no JavaScript, no React/Redux, no particular “design” skill), that pays more than $70k? If so, I totally admit I am wrong.

            I’d move to any of those cities for the right position.

          • Erusian says:

            I don’t know if we’re talking about the same thing by “front end developer”. Do you think you can find a *CSS only* job (no JavaScript, no React/Redux, no particular “design” skill), that pays more than $70k? If so, I totally admit I am wrong.

            I don’t know of any jobs that are only CSS with no need for further development or design at all. That’s an extremely limited area and one you could expand further. But again, it’s ultimately up to you and I don’t want to push you where you don’t want to go.

            I’d move to any of those cities for the right position.

            I’ll ask around. Where should I direct them? Is Erica Edelman your real name?

          • Erica Edelman says:

            Yup, it’s my real name. My original post has a link to my LinkedIn as well.

            Thanks!

  28. Perry says:

    Hi all, long time, first time. I’ve been working tirelessly on building http://www.huddle.care, an international, inclusive, safe community for anxiety sufferers to access affordable and effective cognitive-behavioral treatment by a licensed psychotherapist. Its core offering is small group support (3-6 people) delivered over HIPAA-compliant video conferencing (Zoom). If you’re struggling with OCD or anxiety, check it out. Join my email list, schedule a free intake to see if Huddle.care is a good fit, or dive in to our free weekly community time. Much more info on my site above including our approach, FAQs, pricing, etc.

    http://www.huddle.care.

  29. embrodski says:

    I’m publishing a novel online, a chapter every Sunday, at
    What Lies Dreaming.com
    21 chapters up so far. Blurb is:
    Famine wracks 2nd century Rome. Food riots rage in the streets, and the emperor struggles to hold on to power in the midst of a burgeoning coup. He recalls the German Legion to Rome to restore order. Unbeknownst to him, a hidden evil slips into the city along with the returning Legion. As civil war boils over and black magics run unchecked, an ancient horror stirs from its dreams, rousing after eons of slumber.

  30. Vermillion says:

    Hi thar, I’m a neuroscience PhD and for the last year I’ve been working for a small sequencing bio-tech company as project manager/business development/occasional scientist looking for a new job. I want to stay in bio-tech but open to pharma or other possibilities as well. I like project management, so more of that would be my preference. I don’t have a PMP certification yet but I’m working on it. Thinking somewhere in the north-east, Boston or New Jersey, but I’d consider San Francisco as well.

    Hit me up at tom.hennessey (at) gmail.com if you’d like a look at my resume, or commiserate about job hunting or whatnot.

  31. azantium says:

    Hello! Potential adversarial collaborators, or people who were interested in it, I’d love your help. This year, with a couple of folks, I’ve been putting together a plan to systematize adversarial collaborations, but with small teams instead of pairs. We’re ready to run our first iterations on this, and so we’re looking for adversaries. Please come sign up. Adversary Collective

    I’d also particularly love to talk to someone who likes blogging and would like to help us out, as my skills are much more in the realm of facilitation than blogging.

  32. gbear605 says:

    Hi all! If you’re an undergraduate student, we’d really appreciate your survey answers on a survey about your passion for your major.

    https://forms.gle/RLT3U9HaGUX17Gg9A

  33. walkere says:

    Anyone in Honolulu interested in meeting up? I’ve had a really difficult time finding people on Oahu with SSC adjacent interests. I’m based in Kailua but go into town most days. Shoot me an email if so, harrisone8@gmail.com

  34. thepenforests says:

    I vaguely remember seeing one or two Nova Scotians comment on here before. Anyone in the Halifax area and interested in meeting up?

  35. danb says:

    I live in NYC and run D&D games sometimes.

    I have a favorite set of two or three one-shot adventures which I like to run over and over. So I often like to meet new players.

    If this interests you, mail me at danb.forums@gmail.com.

  36. tomconerly says:

    What resources to learn how to setup ML problems?
    A lot of ML papers I read assume you have labeled data (some input data x and some label y) and a clear loss function to optimize. In practice it seems like a lot of ML work is turning a real world problem into a well defined problem. Are they any resources for learning how to do that step (maybe some case studies)?
    To be more precise I’m curious how you go from messy real world data and an unclear objective (say all the data from a particle collider and the goal to understand physics) to a Kaggle contest (precise well defined problem).

    Also if anyone in NYC wants to meetup and talk about machine learning (RNNs, reinforcement learning, multi task learning) I’d love to buy you a beer.

    • Mufasa says:

      I struggle with this problem as well. I work in identification of high voltage electrical defects. Classification is a main goal but very hard because there’s no labeled dataset. And it’s nearly impossible to generate/measure one. The classes are not well defined and can have significant overlap. Also they can change over time. But there are visible patterns in the data, so ML should provide some kind of benefit.

      I’m also searching for a general approach for defining clear ML problems. Or maybe a way to estimate the likelyhood a real world problem could be modeled with ML. Before i waste a lot of time on methods that clearly don’t work with my kind of data.

  37. ahd says:

    If you play the ancient oriental game of go in Queensland and don’t have a club to play at yet, I’d like to hear from you. So far we have little clumps scattered from the Gold Coast to Townsville.

    If you play online from Australia or New Zealand, then you should know the Australian Digital Championship is a thing. Entries for the 2019 event close at the end of the week.

  38. Teeki says:

    Looking for career advice on getting into the ML.

    I am a software engineer with 3 years of experience working with big data processing, both in overnight batch (optimized for throughput) and in real time (optimized for latency). My toolkit includes python, scala, linux, aws, postgres, spark, tensorflow, and am confident that I can pick up whatever technology the job requires. I’ve taken courses in ML back in university, and have been working on it in my personal time ever since. I mostly have been doing video game reinforcement learning from pixel data, this choice is mostly the result of data availability. I’m familiar with DDQN and PPO. I think my second strongest point would be vision and classification.

    On the soft skills side, I’m used to working alongside non-technical statisticians that work with excel, databases and R. I don’t consider myself a statistician, but I have a solid enough foundation to get through most papers that I wanted to read. I also think I’m a decent one on one teacher; newer colleagues seems to gravitate towards me with questions, plus it took me less than a year to train an undergraduate nurse with high school level math into a professional software engineer.

    I am planning on sending out applications soon, and I am looking for general advice and answers to the following questions:

    What are the current common uses of ML in the industry? I would like to nail down what companies are trying to do so I can craft a fitting cover letter.

    I think I would prefer doing R&D, but is it safe/feasible to be doing this at any company that aren’t already famous for this?

    What are the red-flags for places that are only doing AI just so they can advertise themselves for investors, and don’t really know what they’re doing?

    What are the low hanging fruits for selling myself better? What would look great on a resume that won’t take a massive amount of time and effort?

    Oh and in case this affects anything, I am a Canadian working in the US with a TN Visa

    • Reasoner says:

      I spent a lot of time pursuing this path before finally aborting after getting a non-ML job offer I couldn’t refuse. Nevertheless, here are some tidbits of advice, which are worth what you are paying for them:

      * I did a bunch of keyword searches on job board sites like LinkedIn and Indeed.com to see what ML skills employers are most frequently hiring for. Turns out reinforcement learning is actually in very little demand. I ended up deciding to focus on deep learning, computer vision, natural language processing, time series analysis, and recommendation engines. It’s possible that this is an artifact of the city I was looking for a job in (NYC). But it seems like the reinforcement learning stuff is mostly just in academic labs like Deepmind and OpenAI. That’s not to say you can’t get a job at those labs though.

      * However, cover letters are best customized on a per-company basis I think.

      * I’d suggest putting together a project which is flashy/superficially impressive in an easily understandable way (if you don’t have one already), messaging organizers of your local meetup.com groups related to AI and data science, and asking if you can present your project. These groups are always looking for presenters. It’s a great way to get exposure in the metropolitan area you’re searching for a job in. Just have a slide at the end of your presentation saying that you’re looking for a job and include your contact details.

      * One advantage of getting a job at an established company like Google is that they already have all their data infrastructure set up. If you get a job at a startup or Fortune 500, there’s a good chance you’ll mostly be doing integration work rather than interesting R&D. Additionally, Google has smarter people you can learn from. That said, you might be OK if you’re applying for a job at a group that’s explicitly R&D driven, e.g. IBM’s Watson unit? And in any case, it’s probably best to warm up your interviewing skills by applying for lesser valued companies before shooting for Google.

  39. johan_larson says:

    I have a small graphic arts project I need done. I have a set of video frames (screenshots) that I want converted into a single image. The problem is that a foreground element obscures the background, and I want it removed. I’m hoping there is enough data in the set of images as a whole to reconstruct what is behind the foreground element. This may not be possible, but I’d be willing pay a bit for a credible attempt, and more for a success.

    If you’re interested, contact me at this email: johan.g.larson@gmail.com

    • Mufasa says:

      If your background is always the same and the object in the foreground is moving it should be a simple median stack of all the images. Search the internet for “remove tourists from foto series” or something similar.

      If the background is also moving it could still be possible with some kind of image stitching or image registration. OpenCV offers these functions but there is quite some coding involved.

  40. sadtoot says:

    schlaugh is a social media platform my friend started. it only updates once a day, at 5am EST / 9:00 UTC. anytime you make a post, it is delayed until the update; private messages to other users, same thing. the idea is to take all the features that twitter/facebook use to make their site more addicting, and do the opposite, even past the point of inconvenience.

    feedback is appreciated; the dev is a novice web developer. you can send that or any questions to sadtoot at protonmail dot com

    you can find my posts at schlaugh.com/sadtoot

    common interests in the current userbase include SSC, HPMOR, harry potter, music, steven universe, and sticking “schl-” in the middle of words. it’s a small community of a dozen or so people at the moment, very chill and friendly. invite your friends or share the site to whoever might find it interesting

  41. Folamh3 says:

    I wrote a little article awhile back which you guys might enjoy: https://medium.com/@fionnpmurray/karl-popper-and-crap-art-d1d946c1bfdf

  42. Technomage says:

    Anyone in Victoria, BC (or Vancouver Island in general) interested in meeting up for coffee/whisky/another_beverage?

  43. NeshSelg says:

    I’ve been looking for entry level software developer jobs, after finishing a boot-camp, for about a month now and I’ve come to the conclude that presenting a good reputation is something that I’m especially disadvantaged at. While I can probably find something I think that if i could route around that issue and be judged on technical interviews and other conversation skills, It would improve the expected value of my job prospects by something huge like 50% + . I thought Id ask if any one here might be willing specifically to go to non-reasonable lengths to help me, if I were to offer a similarly non-reasonable commitment. I was thinking something along the lines of up to 10-20% of my post-tax income, or an amount of my sense of self equal “to a few hours a week of ritual and maybe something like a naked mountaintop animal sacrifice with an hour of chanting yearly”, of some similar valued combination, for a time span of say 2 years. (Note to self, put create metric for proportional sense of self on aspirational goal list.) I figure here is the kind of place people might willing to trade in something closer to sacred values. If you interested i can be reached at neshselg@gmail.com.

    • Garrett says:

      Non-non-reasonable suggestion: build a reputation. Find something in the Open Source Community that interests you and start contributing. You’ll get a feel for how “real” (as opposed to learning or academic) projects are run, and you’ll end up with a portfolio of projects you can point prospective employers at.

    • dick says:

      I hire and manage programmers. I’ll email and offer pointers, but for now I will just say that it’s notoriously hard to get your first programming job after a boot camp, most employers want a) relatively few of their positions to be entry-level, and b) for their “entry-level” hires to already have 1-2 years of experience. Don’t be discouraged, and no need to go throwing around offers of money and sacrifice!

    • J says:

      Try triplebyte. They’re all about getting you opportunities based on your technical knowledge regardless of history.

    • Erusian says:

      I hire and manage software engineers. Here’s the issue with bootcamp graduates: they vary hugely in quality. There are two things the average hiring manager wants to know: you’ll be tolerable to work with and you’ll be able to produce usable code. If you’re very junior, that sometimes means ‘you’ll be able to produce usable code soon’.

      Bootcamp graduates are sometimes decent to good coders but there are also people who’ve absorbed some basic code lessons but can’t produce. They’re also more variable personality-wise. It’s not even guaranteed they have engineer-type personalities. So you have to go above and beyond to prove both those things if you have a bootcamp background.

      Anyway, I’m interested. I’ve been very interested lately in paths into technological careers. I’ll be emailing you in a bit.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Wait, what kind of help exactly are you looking for ? If you are trying to build social reputation, then I can’t help you (not even for two years of goat nudity); you need a PR firm for that. If you’re looking just to build work experience and good references, then there are tons of people (myself included) who’d be perfectly willing to let you work for free (or for minimum wage, even). But if you’re looking to jump into a decent paying job right out of boot camp, then yes, it could be tough. I agree that it shouldn’t be tough, but the problem is that it’s virtually impossible to gauge a person’s competence just from a resume, since resumes are so often doctored. When our own company was hiring, we routinely got a bunch of applicants with stellar resumes who couldn’t write a simple loop if their life depended on it.

      • UsableJam says:

        I’ve been not working in software for a year after leaving my previous job (software engineer for about 5 years, Hadoop/Spark kind of things). I want to get my foot back in the door and I’d be interested in underpaid positions, if you were serious about that.

        • Bugmaster says:

          It depends, how many naked goat rituals are you willing to endure ? Just kidding, send your resume to (my SSC username)@protonmail.com . I make no promises, though; our current focus is pretty much orthogonal to Hadoop/Spark (sadly).

  44. mupetblast says:

    My 80s-themed chatbot “Teenage Troll” is celebrating his second anniversary this month. Check him out, engage him in conversation, and scroll through two years of amusing 80s (and troll-y) content! If you’re an old Millennial or young Gen X – and a bit of a goober – alot of it will resonate with you.

    With that lighter fare out of the way, I’m desperately seeking employment, ideally in the chatbot or conversational AI space. I’m not an engineer; my experience is in the space where copywriting (including “microcopy”) meets chatbots and voice assistants (and in “new media” journalism and content writing more generally). Very front-end and customer-facing. My LinkedIn is here, and my portfolio here.

  45. slightlylesshairyape says:

    I wish Scott would do another host-a-meetup thing, but in the meantime anyone in Detroit metro want to grab coffee? DM me on Reddit (yeah, I know, lame, what other pseudonymous communication handles do we have tho?).

  46. gvprtskvnis says:

    I’m looking for a job in the Pasadena area (or remote). I’m graduating from Caltech this June with degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science. My main interest is pure math, but I’m also very interested in physics, and I’m open to a software engineering job if it’s more focused on solving interesting problems and less focused on gluing pre-made services together or fiddling with the details of code. I have had two software engineering internships; I’ve done research in (the math-y part of) computer science; I’ve also done various TAing/tutoring jobs. If you’d like to get in touch, you can leave a comment or contact me at gvprtskvnis@gmail.com.

    • Bugmaster says:

      This might come off as overly pedantic, but: “fiddling with the details of code” is pretty much is the main purpose of software engineering (as opposed to programming). You can write a brilliant algorithm to solve a problem that no one had ever solved before, and that’s fantastic; but, if you want to sell and maintain software (or a service) based on your algorithm, you need to spend a lot of time on “fiddling” with it.

      You’re going to have to refactor your code to make it easy (or, in most cases, even possible at all) to extend and maintain. You’re going to add some convenient hooks for people other than yourself to configure your parameters and append their own functionality, in a way that doesn’t require them to have a Ph.D. in CS or gvprtskvnis-ology. In most cases, you will need to write some sort of UI that allows non-programmers access to your brilliant solution. On the back-end side, you will need to make sure your program can run on a variety of systems, with varying amounts of OS/CPU/GPU/memory resources.

      And yes, in order to accomplish some of those tasks, you’ll need to “glue pre-made services together”. Trust me, implementing a UI/caching/network/threading/whatever framework by yourself is usually a waste of time, regardless of how much fun it could be.

      • To be fair, there are pure software architecture jobs, which feels more akin to what gvprtskvnis may be looking for? And on the software engineering front, some jobs are more focussed on maintenance and bug fixing as opposed to feature development, so there’s a slider that can be played with there, too. All in all, I wouldn’t completely write off gvprtskvnis’s preferences.

      • gvprtskvnis says:

        Yep, I completely agree. I am not a good fit for 95+% of software engineering jobs, which is why I said I was “open to” them rather than “looking for” them. I’d really prefer to be doing math (including type theory/algorithm design/statistics, which have applications) rather than programming. But I wouldn’t write off a job just because a lot of my daily work is programming, as long as the ideas behind what I’m implementing are interesting.

        • johan_larson says:

          If that’s your honest opinion, I think you should either try to find some work in a research environment or keep this notion that you’d rather be doing math to yourself. Companies are willing to hire all sorts of programmers, but they really prefer to hire programmers who care about the product and the users rather than programmers who really groove on cool comp sci. It would be to your advantage to portray yourself as one of the former group.

          Software development is about building useful things, and the truth is that most useful things just aren’t all that deep. You’d be lucky to find a software development job that is even 10% about cool algorithms. Typically, you will spend your days trying to negotiate clear requirements with users or PMs and implementing those requirements in the context of a stonking piece of legacy software that no one understands well, hopefully without breaking anything.

          • gvprtskvnis says:

            Thanks for the advice, but that’s not really what I’m looking for. I already have a job offer at a company where I’d be doing that sort of thing. I’m posting here hoping to see if there are jobs that will accommodate my desire to have cool things be a significant component of what I do.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @gvprtskvnis:
            I gotta be honest — and please don’t take it personally — but if I were taking part in making the decision whether to hire someone like you, I’d vote “no”. I’ve worked with many people who were brilliant problem-solvers (and, admittedly, with many more who only thought they were). Inevitably, they create more problems than they solve, because their code is basically useless.

            Yes, your program might answer the immediate question at hand, but it is a kind of unicorn: a one-off miracle whose effects are virtually impossible to replicate, consistently utilize, or even to verify. There are very few cases where such miracles are sufficient (although I suppose investor-facing demos might be one exception).

            You could always say, “my job is to solve cool problems, and you can always hand off my solutions to lesser software engineers if you want to build on my solutions”, but this would essentially involve writing all your code from scratch, all over again. Few companies can afford to spend twice the time and twice the salary on such tasks; it’d be better to hire someone who is, perhaps, a little less smart, but able to produce a little more usable code.

          • gvprtskvnis says:

            Fair enough. I ideally would be writing relatively little code anyway. But I think I might have not communicated what I meant clearly–I don’t mind writing good code; I try pretty hard to have it be understandable and well-commented, because that makes it so much nicer to work with myself. (Also it’s just /prettier/ that way.) What I want to avoid is, like, figuring out how to rearrange a loop so that the compiler can optimize it better, or worrying about what’s in the cache. (Figuring out how to do something with a lower asymptotic runtime is actually pretty fun, so I don’t mind that.) I’ve been specifically looking for companies that use Haskell or OCaml, because at that level of abstraction a much higher percentage of the problems involved in writing code interest me. Similarly, I’m not allergic to using libraries or whatever–I dislike reinventing the wheel as much as the next person–but if my entire job is “hook 3 AWS services together” over and over again then I’m just not going to be that engaged.

        • Reasoner says:

          Maybe apply for a job at MIRI? I think they like type theory and statistics. Also you might save us from unfriendly AI.

          • gvprtskvnis says:

            Last I checked MIRI doesn’t hire remote people, but it’s definitely the sort of thing I’m looking for.

  47. Concavenator says:

    If anyone is interested in the noble field of imaginary biology and history, I have a little gallery of related artwork and fragments of writing. Some of my favorite are this piece about a species of aquatic para-humans tying into real-life history and mythology, and this one “proving” that humans were actually artificially bred by a lost empire of sapient elephants.
    On a more serious note, I also have a few infographics on related arguments, including a logarithmic Big-Bang-to-2015 timeline, a phylogenetic tree of 400 extant species, and a graph of animal brain sizes.
    I know there’s still a lot of improvement in front of me, but I’d really like to hear an opinion from people here.

    • markus says:

      I liked the brain size graph. The best I´ve seen in that area.

    • I like the Sea People story. And the art.

      Any chance I can interest you in doing maps for my current novel?

    • My dinosaur obsession forces me to commend you for this piece: https://www.deviantart.com/concavenator/art/The-Featherless-Biped-775925572

      It really resonates with me, since I’ve been writing about sapient ‘raptors in a book (probably going to take another year or two before it’s published, I’ve had a lot of health setbacks that’ve interfered with editing – looking up now, but still a lot of work ahead of me! And I’m unfortunately useless in summer months), and most of what your sophonts are saying in the short story is totally what they’d say about mammals. That said, they’re not very advanced (not because they couldn’t be – they’ve got problems with some other sophonts, though, and no room to thrive), so they’re more afraid of them. One thing they’d definitely insist on is that mammals are psychic (a reference to how mammalian ears are generally quite superior to avian ears), which means if they were to theorise about sophont mammals, they’d assume they would have advanced to having something akin to pure telepathy. (They’re also grossed out by how our teeth are just so… random.) So I’ve shared a link to the above piece in my IRC channel, since we’re roleplaying in the setting I mentioned, and some people will probably get a chuckle out of the parallels.

      …but look at me blabbing on about this. 🙂 Thanks very much for sharing!

      • Concavenator says:

        Ooh, I really didn’t think of the teeth thing! It seems obvious in retrospect.

        Your setting sounds very interesting, too, and a nice example of convergent speculation.

        • You can read a bit about it here: https://tarnish.thorngale.net/ – but the focus of the setting isn’t really on quasi-scientific speculation and more on blatantly making adult rationalisations for things I came up with when I was ten and am still very fond of for some reason. (Although the website won’t tell you much about the actual protagonists. The idea was to keep my players guessing, although it turns out I’m so terrible at keeping secrets, I don’t even know to try. So it’s really only a secret on the website.)

          Edit: Possibly worth noting, the roleplay is deliberately not canon for book setting – I wanted it to be inclusive to people who hadn’t heard me obsess about the setting while I was writing the book, so all of the cultural nuances but for the absolutely most important ones are basically lost in roleplay. So don’t fully judge the book by its cover roleplay. (Also a lot of the RP so far has happened in the phase where my brain was vitamin B12 deficient. The book predates my health issues.) Waah waah anxious justifications waah waah I’ll be quiet now.

          • Concavenator says:

            Man, do I sympathize. My ‘ikra were also conceived for some long-format story, but years after there’s little more than the scraps you see in the gallery. There’s always something else to steal attention away…

          • @Concavenator: I’d love to read it if you ever finish! (Or even if you don’t, really.)

            What really helped me to write is to abuse the web serial format to commit to a small schedule and get some beta-readers. Took me about two years (two winters, really) to knock out 150k words this way, by ‘publishing’ (to a closed circle) a little on Friday and a little on Saturday.

            #brennusverse on irc.darkmyst.org is a good place to hang out if you’d like tips from other web serial writers – it’s mostly quiet these days, but questions will still get answered if you’re patient, and they’re always happy to see new faces. 🙂

          • Concavenator says:

            Thanks, I’ll check it out – it would always help. For now, the closest thing to actual writing I’ve managed to do are these little snippets of far-future-history like this and this, and the one you linked.
            It’s a start, I guess. Best wishes for your own!

          • @Concavenator: Yeah, I’d definitely read a longer work of yours if you wrote one. You have a writing style I find very pleasant and engaging. So, if you ever do write more, and remember me, know that my e-mail address is pinkgothic at gmail dot com. 🙂 And thanks again for sharing!

  48. morganvzhou says:

    Any foodies here? I’m based out in the Bay Area (East Bay) and am trying to meet new friends beyond folks who work in tech (I feel like I’ve been trapped in a tech yuppie bubble for 4+ years now).

    Been meaning to check out some new food places in the coming months and figured it would be good to knock out 2 birds with one stone. Let me know if any of these places sound interesting and you want to check it out:

    – Bird and Buffalo (Thai in Oakland)
    – Sushi Sam (San Mateo)
    – Chez Panisse (Berkeley)
    – Iyasare (Berkeley)

    About me: I like to travel and eat. Right now I work in HR at an advertising company based in Mountain View.

  49. Paul Brinkley says:

    I work tech at Balticon, a fundraiser for the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. We could always use more help. In return, we offer dinner on Thursday, free attendance to Balticon, free BSFS membership (with enough hours worked, IIRC), and experience in working the technical side of a convention. Balticon is on Memorial Day weekend in downtown Baltimore.

    I specifically help built out and take down the art exhibit room, and I could probably use at least a couple extra bodies.

    If you’d like to help, please send an email to volunteers@balticon.org or tech@balticon.org (and tell em I sent you!).

    Balticon draws at least two other people I know of who are SSC readers, including Nancy Lebovitz (I’ve seen her in the merchant area). I myself tend to hang out in the game room when I’m not doing something tech-ish. If you attend in any capacity, I’d love to know you exist! Reply here, or use my name at Gmail.

  50. tayfie says:

    There is a distinct lack of community in Dallas. I can’t be the only one that feels it.

    @quaelegit and I found each other on here over a year ago and have been meeting frequently since. I want to organize a Dallas meetup to find some more friends.

    I’ve scheduled a meetup with a tentative date and time. This is subject to change depending on feedback.

    If anyone reading is interested, please RSVP to the email address tayfie@pm.me and answer the following questions:

    1. If the current plans are not good for you, what date/time/location do you suggest?
    2. What would be your purpose for attending an SSC meetup?

    I will collect all responses into an email list for future updates. If at least five people agree to show up next Saturday, I will be in attendance to lead the meeting.

    @Scott, please add this where appropriate to help get the word out.

  51. AnteriorMotive says:

    I do some fantasy illustration. I’m interested in building up my portfolio with two or three more paintings, so if anyone here is interested in commissioning a digital painting of a character, creature, or location, I can endeavor to undercut the market on your behalf.

    Left to my own devices, I kind of prefer just doing colored lineart (takes less time), but I have plenty of that already, so while happy to take commissions, I’d be charging whatever the going rate is.

    portfolio at: mbwheats.artstation.com
    doodles at: mbwheats.tumblr.com

    • Erusian says:

      Are you married to fantasy illustration? I have some corporate work I could throw your way (logos, simple instructional illustrations, website pieces, etc). But I understand if that’s not of interest.

    • At a partial tangent …

      The couple who are supposed to be doing the cover for my novel read the novel first, so had some ideas for possible covers. They are both young, one I think a college freshman, and it looks as though they may not be able to get back on the project until the summer, if then, so I may end up looking for someone else.

      But one of the reasons I originally went with them was that they were willing to read the book. It occurs to me that if you are looking for that sort of work, telling an author that you are willing to read his book and then make suggestions for art might be a substantial competitive advantage, since most artist don’t seem willing to do that.

      • Bugmaster says:

        This may be a stupid question, but did you happen to write a fiction novel ? Is there a place where I can read it ?

        I mean, we both know that I consider your economic theory to be fictional, but I was thinking of actual intentional fiction 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist.

        • Aapje says:

          You can find his novels if you click on his name.

        • My first novel, Harald, was published by Baen. They probably still have it up as an ebook, and I expect you can get a print copy on Amazon. If you like spoken word novels, you can find all of it as free podcasts or a version on Audible–both my reading, any differences due to Audible’s processing and organization.

          Harald didn’t do very well, so my second novel, Salamander, was self-published. It’s available on Amazon as both print and kindle.

          The two novels are unrelated but my third novel, not yet out, is a sequel to the second.

          Harald was marketed as fantasy but it’s really a historical novel with invented history and geography–no magic, elves, dwarves, … . Technologies and social structures are modeled on various things from real history. Salamander is the sort of fantasy where magic is a science–the setting is about fifty years after the magical equivalent of Newton took the first big steps to converting magery from a craft to a science.

          My economics includes some fiction. I’m particularly proud of the explanation in Law’s Order of why we owe civilization to the dogs.

      • AnteriorMotive says:

        It’s funny to think about reading the book being a perk. As with most people hereabouts, I’d be closer to the opposite, more likely to insist on it as a pre-requisite.

        It’s a common complaint by published writers that their cover art makes no sense in the context of their story. (I’m sympathetic to the argument that a cover’s true purpose is just to match the atmosphere of the book, but there’s something to be said for a cover which can be appreciated by readers of the book, and not just prospective readers of the book.)

        Having read your descriptions below, allow me to pitch a couple illustration ideas, in case you’re interested.

        – On your site you have map of Salamander’s university setting. If relative location is more important than exact floorplans, it would be easy to get a good-looking map by implementing it as a pen drawing of the building’s exterior, with the labels as “annotations” by one of the characters. In my experience it’s easy and quick to get lineart of detailed architecture to look good. It’s difficult and laborious to get it to look perfect, but that’s why you pass it off as an in-world document.

        – There’s a image idea I’ve had in my head at least a decade, which, knowing nothing about Salamander’s setting but the elevator pitch you made above, might be a good fit: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, substituting a drake(/other fantastical creature) for the cadaver being dissected.

        • Thanks for the ideas.

          No fantastical creatures in Salamander, I’m afraid. There is a scene involving an experiment with magery, essentially trying the spell at a toy level, and involving both protagonists. It would make a nice illustration, but probably not for the cover.

          But Salamander is long out and has a cover. The current issue is a cover for Brothers, the sequel.

          On the general issue of atmosphere vs true to the text … . The cover of Harald, my first novel, was done by a professional, since it was published by Baen. Multiple details were wrong, but the feel of it was right—better, I think, than anything I could have thought up. I assume the artist hadn’t read the book, although I had sent him some relevant details.

  52. toastengineer says:

    Some might remember my post begging for a job a while ago. Well, I managed to find work; I’m not out on the street quite yet, but I had to rack up some debt to get here, and I’m still only barely making ends meet, so I’d be very interested in some contract work I can do on the side.

    No job too small, few jobs too large. I can learn pretty much anything, but the majority of my recent experience has been with automation, scripting, and plugins to larger applications in Python. I’ve done plenty of other things, up to a full-blown “figure out what this company needs and build it” gig (though, full disclosure – they never actually used the thing or paid me.)

    Basically, show me a problem, give me money, and I will use computers to make your problem go away.

  53. malenkiy_scot says:

    Looking for a few good people at Amazon AWS Boston office. For example:

    https://www.amazon.jobs/en/jobs/811653/software-development-manager-elastic-file-systems-boston-ma

    You can apply directly via the web site or send me your resume at malenkiy.scot at gmail.

  54. fluffyribbit says:

    Hi. I’m looking for work. I’m an American living in the Philippines. My resume is focused on programming, but I can also draw, write copy, edit and transcribe in English, teach you English, drawing, basic programming or meditation, and most menial tasks I can do from here. I’m also a quick study and am willing to learn almost anything for the promise of regular work. I’m willing to work pretty cheaply if you’re willing to hire me soon, 5 bucks an hour, or 20 bucks a day, or five hundred a month.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/14K5fF_YCt6xLDN-HPaKGO2PNRNnpCwKtX_m744sZOIg/edit?usp=sharing

    I’m also open to any advice on finding a job that doesn’t involve me moving away from the Philippines. Thank you. Submit serious offers to roman.alexander.davis@gmail.com.

  55. VivaLaPanda says:

    Going to be moving to Penang in a little over a month to work there for a year. Any fellow readers in the area/people with advice about living there?

    Thanks

  56. WashedOut says:

    I make music for visual arts installations, short films, indie games and promos. My niche is instrumental ambient music, especially dark-ambient; “dungeon-synth”; drone; noise/brutalism; and soundscapes. I work with analogue synthesizers and samples of field-recordings. I have done work for several SSCers in the past, and the feedback has been great.

    Almost all of my work is carried out on a “pay what you feel it’s worth” basis since this is not my sole means of income. This means I am used to working within miniscule budgets, and there’s no such thing to me as a bad set of constraints.

    Hit me up for more info and a link to where my music is: vilemedia[at]protonmail[dot]com

    Thanks

  57. Kelley Meck says:

    You: someone in need of a political consultant.

    Me: A top student from an Ivy league college, with an Econ degree, seven cycles of progressively more responsible campaign experience, a law degree, and sufficiently slow law practice and a sufficiently big side-interest in continuing to help people who are or might be interested in running for office that I’ll talk to you about your campaign, or other political project, for $35/hour. I might be cheaper if I really like you, and I might give you an hour free if I’ve got some free time that week, or if your question is really interesting. My first initial, the letter h, and my last name, all as one string, at gmail, will get you to me.

    I’ve posted in SSC classifieds before, and I worked with longtime SSC commenter JRM when he ran for district attorney of a county in CA. I expect he’ll give a good reference if having an SSC commenter for a reference makes a difference for you.

  58. lawrence says:

    I just launched my latest project, Flarum Pro. It’s a hosting provider for forums / discussion boards. If you or someone you know is interested in building a community for your favorite obscure hobby or organization, let me know at lawrence@flarumpro.com and I’d be happy to provide an instance at cost and help you get set up.

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