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(Virtual) Employment Open Thread

34 Post author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 04:25AM

tl;dr: Some people on LW have a hard time finding worthwhile employment. Share advice and help them out!

Working sucks. I'd rather not work. But alas, a lot of the time, we have to choose between working and starvation. At the very least I'd like to minimize work. I'd like to work somewhere cheap and comfortable... you know, like on the beach in Thailand, like LW (ab)user Louie did. Then I could spend my spare time on things like self-improvement and ahem 'studying nootropics' all day. I'd like to travel, if possible, and not be chained to an iffy job. It'd be cool to have flexible hours. I've read The 4-Hour Work Week but it seemed kinda difficult and scary and... I just don't wanna do it. I can't code, and I'd rather not learn how to. At least, I'd rather not have my job depend on it. I never graduated from college. Hell, I never got my high school diploma, even. A team of medical experts has confirmed that my sleep cycle is of the Chaotic Evil variety. (For those who read HP:MoR, imagine Harry Potter Syndrome, except on crack. I bet a lot of people have similar sleep cycles.) I'm 18, and therefore automatically low status for employment purposes: I'm obviously much too young to make a good teacher, or store manager, or police officer. I can imagine having health problems, or severe social anxiety, or a nearly useless liberal arts degree, or just a general setback limiting my employment opportunities. And if it turned out that I wanted to work 14 hour days all of a sudden because I really needed the money, well then it'd be cool to have that option as well. Alas, none of this is possible, so I might as well just give up and keep on being stressed and feeling useless... or should I?

I bet a whole bunch of Less Wrongers aren't aware of chances for alternative employment. I myself hear myths of people who work via the internet, or blog for a living, or code an hour a day and still make enough to survive comfortably. Sites like elance and vworker (which looks kinda intimidating) exist, and I bet we could find others. Are there such people on Less Wrong that could tell us their secret? Do others know about how to snag one of these gigs? What sorts of skills are easiest to specialize in that could get returns in virtual work? Are virtual markets hard to break into? Can I just blog for an hour or two a day and afford to live a life of simplistic luxury in Thailand? Pretty much everyone on Less Wrong has exceptional writing ability: are there relatively well-paying writing gigs we could get? Alternatively, are there other non-internet jobs that people can break into that don't require tons of experience or great connections or that dreaded and inscrutable bane of nerds everywhere, 'people skills'? Share your knowledge or do some research and help Less Wrong become more happy, more productive, and more awesome!

Oh, and this is really important: we don't have to reinvent the wheel. As wedrifid demonstrated in the earlier Intelligence Amplification Open Thread, a link to an already existent forum is worth ten thousand words or more.

Comments (272)

Comment author: [deleted] 23 September 2010 09:48:40AM *  52 points [-]

del

Comment author: Airedale 23 September 2010 04:33:57PM 5 points [-]

Very interesting, and potentially helpful, comment; upvoted.

But it still made me laugh to read this in a bulletpoint about any sort of writing:

Copywriters who can show previous writing that proofs they can do it (I did this).

(emphasis added)

Comment author: [deleted] 24 September 2010 01:32:29PM *  2 points [-]

del

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 06:43:30PM 3 points [-]

even without a degree. But you will have to develop some marketable skill

Marketable, and demonstrable without a degree. I'm a good editor--better than whoever vetted for a lot of what I see in print these days--but my work history doesn't reflect it. Can a skill test reflect that well enough for potential employers to bother considering me?

Comment author: [deleted] 24 September 2010 01:39:37PM *  4 points [-]

del

Comment author: Joshua_Blaine 06 June 2014 09:19:32PM 1 point [-]

For everyone seeing this in the "recent comments" section, does there exist a record of this comment? It seems like it was really useful and it's a shame it was completely nuked.

Comment author: jaime2000 06 June 2014 09:44:29PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: Joshua_Blaine 06 June 2014 10:06:26PM 1 point [-]

The Wayback Machine, of course. Thanks.

I suppose I lose a rationalist point for failing to use a tool I'm already familiar with to solve my problem.

Comment author: Abraham_Rito 25 September 2010 05:51:16AM 1 point [-]

God,I needed this post. Thanks so much. oDesk seems like the most viable option for consistent and legitimate work for a freelancer. Definitely looking into it.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 06:24:11AM 1 point [-]

I signed up, but I'm a little too scared to take any tests at the moment. I kinda want to work with a pseudonym... is that feasible? I figure you'd be screwed when your PayPal account didn't match your user account name. :/

Comment author: [deleted] 24 September 2010 01:44:27PM *  7 points [-]

del

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 06:26:20AM 1 point [-]

What scares you about it? Are you just unsure yet that it isn't sketchy, or something more specific?

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 07:39:30AM 0 points [-]

Nah, it looks totally legit. I'm just scared about not getting 100% on the tests. (Not that I think it'll actually affect my job prospects, but I like doing things well.)

Comment author: [deleted] 24 September 2010 01:51:29PM *  10 points [-]

del

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 02:10:17PM 4 points [-]

The knowledge of self can wait until after I've studied more. Then the tests will be measuring something more than my ability to remember things from long ago or my ability to understand the psychology of test writers. Also I was scared about the social image produced by someone who scores only 60% in their claimed specialty, not the feeling associated with only having a 60% skill level. Thus what you said about being able to hide results and retake tests assuages my fears.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 08:15:37AM 0 points [-]

Oh, that. :P I see. Maybe I'll try it then, since that part doesn't worry me.

Comment author: Morendil 23 September 2010 07:31:43AM *  26 points [-]

Here is what worked for me. I started a programming career as a university dropout, got bored of it after 15 years and started a successful freelance consulting practice, got tired of that after a while and recently redesigned my job from the ground up for more stable income and even more freedom of action than I had as a consultant.

Advice #1 is: learn how to network. Start doing it now even if you think you're "too young".

Send email to people - strangers - you think of as exemplars of the kind of success you aspire to, and ask them for one hour of their time, to give you some insight into where your own career might go, and possibly refer you to someone who could help further your goals.

Keep a Farley file, or maybe use LinkedIn to keep your contacts organized, but at any rate start thinking of these contacts as "your network" and of your network as one of your major assets in building the kind of career you want. Cultivate people in your network for their own sake, not as people who can help you. If at all possible, think first of how you can help them.

After a while - and one thing to remember is to be patient, it could take up to a couple years - your network will start generating opportunities for you. At that point, know what you want. You won't be able to say "yes" to everything, but it's crucial that you're able to say "yes" to something. You will have to take risks.

Comment author: James_Miller 23 September 2010 12:52:14PM 11 points [-]

Get a notebook and write done every adult you know including relatives. Call each person in your book and ask for advice in getting a job and ask for new people you could contact for job hunting help. Write the names of these new people in your notebook, call them and ask for advice and new names. Repeat until you have a job.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 24 September 2010 01:43:46AM 1 point [-]

redesigned my job from the ground up for more stable income and even more freedom of action than I had as a consultant.

What is that design?

Comment author: Morendil 24 September 2010 02:05:47AM 8 points [-]

Basically, a software development process think tank funded by companies who have a vested interest in ensuring that the research and education on said processes (Agile, specifically) is of better quality in the future than it has been so far. In practice this means that as of this month I get paid to write, attend conferences, organize seminars, network with people to try to match up cients and contractors when a bid is going around.

Those were things I did "pro bono" when I was a consultant; at one point I decided the consuting gigs were interfering with the volunteer stuff, and I had to choose one or the other. I picked the one that was more fun, the trick was to figure out the money angle, then convince businesses to go along with it.

To be frank I have only reached half of my financing goals so far, so this is still a work in progress with failure a possiblity.

Comment author: Perplexed 23 September 2010 04:54:05AM 18 points [-]

As a survivor of a recent heart attack, I would like to make a rather surprising suggestion. If you live in big city, get a job as a bicycle courier. If near a college campus, get a job as a bicycle pizza delivery person. Get someone to pay you for getting healthy exercise. Then you can spend your spare time on sedentary intellectual activities without damaging your health.

If you are like Mitchell_Porter, and wish to spend your spare time on serious math-like creativity, then you definitely need 4-6 hours of mindless physical activity in the middle of your wake cycle, with intense intellectual activity at the beginning and end of the day. No one can maintain peak intellectual productivity for long periods without some scheduled downtime.

Comment author: enoonsti 24 September 2010 12:08:09AM 7 points [-]

"As a survivor of a recent heart attack"

I know I am off topic, but I was not aware of this and just wanted to note that I'm glad you're still around. Of course, I enjoy most of the commenters here.... but still.... (cue sentimental music and single tear drop)

:D

Comment author: Perplexed 24 September 2010 12:31:56AM 3 points [-]

Thx. But it wasn't all that recent. Coming up on the 3-year anniversary. Scared the sh.t out of me, though, and convinced me to finally quit smoking and start exercising.

Comment author: mattnewport 23 September 2010 05:01:48AM 7 points [-]
Comment author: knb 23 September 2010 05:22:04AM *  9 points [-]

A good job for mindless physical activity: cart-pusher at Walmart. I did this in high school, and it is still easily the best job I've ever had. You work at your own pace, you're outdoors, the managers usually ignore you (so you don't even have to obey dress code). Mostly I just screwed around with my coworkers.

Basically you just spend all day walking (with occasional bursts of hard physical exercise). I lost 40 pounds in the first 6 months and got into the best shape I have ever been in. There's also a kind of pleasant exhaustion after putting in 8.5 hours.

ETA: These jobs are extremely easy to get: even though I lived in an economically depressed area, I was hired without even an interview. A woman from HR called 90 minutes after I submitted my application.

Comment author: gwern 23 September 2010 02:00:20PM 8 points [-]

A good job for not even that: in high school I worked summers as night-watch at a local suburban pool. 40 hours a week, $9.20/hr, or ~$4000 a summer. There was zero demand on my time during it since I worked overnight. I got a lot of reading done.

The only downside was that it was seasonal (so you couldn't just do that job), and you could be profoundly mentally screwed by the sleep schedule.

I think I could do better now than I did before with melatonin, modafinil, blackout curtains, etc.

Comment author: Larks 23 September 2010 09:58:36PM 3 points [-]

It doesn't seem like the seasonal basis of the job is inherant in night-watchmen idea - there must be lots of warehouses, etc., that need nightwatchmen. I can imagine worse things than being paid to read.

Comment author: gwern 23 September 2010 10:35:34PM 2 points [-]

Right. In my case, the seasonality came from it being a pool - it was only worthwhile to pay nightwatchmen when it was actually filled and multi-million dollar liability existed for accidental drowning (read: middle-class teens holding drugged parties).

In a more 'real' nightwatch job, seasonality might not be a problem. On the other hand, you might have more supervision than I did. (Which was none. I saw my nominal boss once at the beginning.)

In any event, the free time was what you made of it. Akrasia was a major issue.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 05:27:33AM 5 points [-]

Is it possible to put in enough hours at WalMart to get enough pay to rent an apartment with internet access and have a healthy diet? Also, can you specialize in just cart-pushing and not something annoying like customer relations?

Comment author: Dustin 24 September 2010 12:58:46AM 5 points [-]

My brother works at WalMart at nights. He stocks shelves and the like.

He has zero debt besides the house he owns. He doesn't own a car, and walks to/from work 5 days a week making a little over $10/hour.

He has plenty of money to do anything he wants (within reason). He has thousands in the bank and spends his time surfing the internet and playing video games.

Comment author: knb 23 September 2010 07:32:54AM 4 points [-]

When I started at walmart I was making $8/hour. I quickly was moved up to 8.50 (I think) within the first 6 months. This was several years ago, so wages may be higher now (of course it varies by region).

Working close to full-time, I could easily make $1200 a month (take-home), which was plenty to live on where I lived at the time (greater Detroit area). If you live somewhere where the cost of living is higher, you might not be able to manage it, but of course, wages will tend to be higher in places with high cost-of-living.

Yes, usually recently built walmarts (which are much larger), will have a dedicated staff of "courtesy associates" (the corporate euphemism for "cart-pusher"). Courtesy associates only do the highly specialized task of retrieving shopping carts. Sometimes you have to do the door-greeter's jobs while they are on break, but I usually got one of the other courtesy associates to do it, since I preferred to remain outdoors, and they liked the opportunity to get out of the sun/cold/rain.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 07:41:51AM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the info. Did you get much chance to think about things during work hours, or was the job slightly too cognitively costly for real contemplation?

Comment author: knb 23 September 2010 08:46:32AM *  6 points [-]

For me, at least, it was in that sweet spot of cognitive demand that allows for deep reverie, but is demanding enough that I didn't become bored with just thinking.

Personally, I find I can't slip into deep thought while just sitting on the couch, I need some kind of other stimulation to meet my optimal level of arousal. When I really need to think about something, I always wind up pacing, cleaning, running errands, playing minesweeper, etc.

Of course, this is after you get used to the job, which takes several days to a few weeks.

Comment author: xamdam 26 September 2010 10:23:44AM 1 point [-]

rather surprising suggestion 4-6 hours of mindless physical

Surprising, because the opposite of not healthy isn't bike riding all day? How about healthy died and 1/2 of good exercise? Personally I do 1.25 hrs, but that's because I read on the (stationary) bike.

As an aside, what got me into back exercise after some years was a weird medical episode where I was suspected of stroke 2 years ago. Fortunately a false alarm, but I sincerely recommend having something like that "mid-life". I'd give some of my friends fake heart attacks if I knew how.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 05:00:22AM *  1 point [-]

I listened to a This American Life episode about campus pizza delivery (via vehicle) at a notorious party school which didn't sound very fun, but I'm guessing non-party schools are more reasonable.

I've also read a few really good blog posts about being a bike courier. It sounded fun but kinda scary. Make sure to calculate how much quantum (edit: or any kind of) measure you're losing before going that route.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 23 September 2010 07:55:29AM 7 points [-]

"Make sure to calculate how much quantum measure you're losing before going that route."

When you say it this way, Will, you needlessly exclude readers not yet familiar with the scientific content of this site, and you give the superficial impression of subscribing to Deepak Chopra or other New Age woo-woo.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 08:04:31AM 2 points [-]

If I removed the word 'quantum' I think that'd be enough: after all, spatially infinite universes still force us to reason in terms of measure, and way more people accept spatially infinite universes than the no-worldeaters interpretation of quantum mechanics. You make a fair point that invoking the Q-word was needless.

Comment author: HughRistik 23 September 2010 11:15:08PM *  13 points [-]

I can't code, and I'd rather not learn how to.

Why not? I'd recommend at least giving it a whirl and seeing if you like it. Especially web programming.

  • You can make money doing web programming. I make probably 50-100% more doing web programming than I would doing anything else. And I don't have a degree in CS.
  • It engages your brain and problem-solving abilities. This can be reinforcing and slightly addictive. You have been warned.
  • Web programming should not be hard for anyone with LW-level IQ. I am able to do web programming when sleep-deprived, depressed, intoxicated, or in mental states in which I cannot probably form sentences or do actual writing. Learning the basics of programming is actually more conceptually complex than doing actual web programming.
  • You can use it build your own websites and entrepreneurial projects. So even if web programming doesn't turn out to be what you want to do professionally, the skills will still be useful.
  • Some basic scripting skills will let you answer many sorts of quantitative questions.

Someone with your mental abilities could find (web) programming enjoyable, useful, and perhaps even profitable, so don't write it off too soon.

Comment author: DSimon 23 September 2010 11:35:08PM *  16 points [-]

From personal experience I agree with all those bullet points, and wish to add one more: having the ability to write simple computer programs can be extremely useful in other information-related endeavors. Next time you or one of your friends is burning a lot of time doing a repetetive task on a computer, wouldn't it be nice to be able to turn an hours-long task into the work of 15 minutes with a simple script?

Many organizations heavily rely on computers for their day-to-day business, yet do not understand how to take advantage of them to reduce required human effort.

Kill boring work: become an amateur computer programmer.

Comment author: sketerpot 24 September 2010 01:02:13AM *  8 points [-]

Becoming an amateur computer programmer takes quite a bit of work, but at least it's not boring work.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 05:32:39AM *  7 points [-]

So, I have a forgotten year of C++ under my belt and I can work with HTML and CSS. What exactly goes into web programming? I was imagining it'd be a few months studying CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, MySQL, PHP, Django, that Google Apps language, et cetera, and it just sounded like a lot of work. Also, I've had 2 occasions where I spent a few hours looking for resources to help with a problem and I just had to give up, which is hella frustrating. I couldn't get processing.js to work which sucked 'cuz I'd written up this cool thing in Processing and figured it'd be really easy to work into a website I'd designed, and I felt stupid, and I don't like feeling stupid. I mean if I'm chilling with SIAI folk then I guess I might as well take advantage of their knowledge and pick up some web programming (especially since it's really just fun in the first place), but... I dunno, it feels like there's this big unknown gap between me and being a below-average web programmer, and I don't like being below-average at anything, let alone having to work hard to become below-average. Hence I also avoid learning math, even though I know I really should learn more.

Comment author: thomblake 24 September 2010 03:20:38PM 9 points [-]

What exactly goes into web programming?

It really depends on what someone needs you to do. There are a few different approaches to web programming, which include different workflows and different ways of breaking up who does what. Generally, most things on the web can be broken up into "front end" and "back end", which change meaning based on context. "Front end" can usually be divided into "design" and "implementation [or] programming". "Back end" can usually be divided into server administration, the database, and programming.

I work at a small firm (in person) and so do both front-end and back-end programming, but usually someone will specialize in one or the other or some aspect of it. For folks condemned to work in the world of Microsoft, there is usually a lot of complicated technical work to interface various proprietary Microsoft technologies using abstract frameworks on the back end.

The traditional back-end setup in the Unix world is what used to be called LAMP (back when people felt the need to call it something) - a machine with a Linux OS running the Apache web server and MySQL database engine, with Perl (/PHP/etc) serving up dynamic pages.

On the front end, you basically have a web page crafted using HTML (usually served via some complicated method from the back end) as well as whatever the user-agent is going to let you get away with. In practice, depending on the application, you will use HTML for the page's semantic structure, CSS for style and layout of the HTML, and Javascript for dynamic content on the front end, often employing a library like JQuery to abstract away browser quirks or JQuery-ui to add user-interface functionality. Plugins like Flash might also be used to create dynamic content with a more consistent user experience.

It's really impossible to prepare ahead of time for whatever web development job someone might need done, and there are gurus who are experts at any particular one of the technologies above, so it's a little tricky to set out trying to find a niche to fit yourself into. I can do anything we randomly decide to get involved in at my job, but I still don't fit the bill for a lot of the job postings out there because I have no reason to study the technologies used on Microsoft servers, and I hardly ever use Flash since Javascript is actually almost as useful these days, and we've never seen a reason to work seriously with Ruby or Python since they do so miserably in benchmarks against our old standby Perl (or C if we really need performance) and we're not popping out unique web apps on a daily basis that would need a complicated framework (like Ruby on Rails) to abstract away a lot of the work at the expense of performance.

The real trick is staying good at web development. Aside from graphics and games, the web is the main computing frontier where things are constantly changing and improving so constant study and practice is needed to stay ahead of the curve.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 September 2010 07:23:42AM 1 point [-]

I'm pretty confused about back end programming. I figured it was possible to just let other people handle that for you, like Heroku or some other hosting service where you don't have to worry... but I'm totally in over my head here, is that not how that works? I guess if I got into web programming I'd want to focus as much as possible on the front end, designing things and trying to worry as little as possible about optimizing data structures and the like.

Comment author: kodos96 25 September 2010 08:09:30AM 5 points [-]

Back end programming just means the programming of what you want your site to actually do, as opposed to how you want it to look. i.e. it's the part that actually qualifies as "programming" (coders really hate it when web designers refer to web design as "programming").

If you're just setting up a web site based on an existing code base (like how LW is based on the reddit code), then there may not be any back end programming that needs to be done. But if you're actually creating something original, somebody needs to actually write the code to make it do what you want it to do.

Like say we were trying to create LW from scratch. You've laid out all your HTML and CSS and images and whatnot for how you want everything to LOOK. But there are all these buttons and stuff, like the "Create New Article" button in the top right. You can lay out where that button is and what it looks like, but what actually happens when a user clicks on it? That's where back end programming comes in - probably you respond to the click by creating a new row in an article table in your database, which has a schema you've created, specifying all the fields that need to appear - the article content, the article author, timestamp, maybe the article karma would get stored there too. Then it generates from that a stub article which it passes back to the frontend which then decorates it and renders it for the user.

And then of course there would have to be code written to handle commenting and the karma system. Those would probably be stored in their own db tables with their own schemas you've designed, and you'd have to write the code that takes a user action, like clicking "comment' or "vote up" and actually doing something with that, incrementing the comment's karma count by one and storing that back to the database.....

...thats's back end programming. And as you can see, its definitely not something a hosting provider could just do for you, cause it's very specific to your site and what exactly you want your site to do.

Sorry for being rambly and incoherent.... i took an ambien about a half hour ago and am in that ambien half asleep/half awake/half stoned state

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 September 2010 08:20:27AM 4 points [-]

Thanks, I'm significantly less confused now, and back end programming now sounds like fun.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 September 2010 08:24:35AM 1 point [-]

It's a lot of fun. Now you're making me whimsical! ;)

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 September 2010 08:35:48AM *  1 point [-]

Hmuh, this is intimidating. I was gonna pick up some PHP but to actually use it for a project I'll need MySQL and for that I'll need to set up an Apache web server of some kind... which is intimidating, and I'm probably approaching this the wrong way, especially as I'm not sure yet what I'd even be scripting for. Also I feel alienated as a Windows user; I have Ubuntu but it's frickin' annoying sometimes. How do most people get started with this whole hacker thing?

EDIT: Eff it, I'll switch to Linux and play with Django, it seems easiest. Stupid Linux.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 September 2010 09:26:29AM 7 points [-]

There is essentially no reason to bother with PHP these days. It's a relic and you'd end up having to learn all sorts of arbitrary distracting things.

I can empathise with the intimidation. There was a whole heap of linux administration stuff that I had to pick up to get started. Fortunately, you don't need to do anything like that any more and it can be even easier on windows! You can install the whole stack (ie. Ruby, Rails, apache and mysql) all at once. From there you can just find a tutorial to follow then start copy and pasting stuff from similar applications till you have one that does what you want. (You didn't hear 'develop by cut and paste and google' from me! ;))

RubyStack is one option. The one I have used is InstantRails. I think that one is getting out of date (about a year old) but it probably doesn't make any difference for your purposes.

I don't know what the options are for other web development frameworks. I'm sure there is something simple out there for Python somewhere but I just haven't had reason to look into it.

So if you wanted to get started it is easy enough. Depends on your interest.

How do most people get started with this whole hacker thing?

When I have something I want to do I go do it. Sometimes that means learning stuff like programming. Sometimes it means learning pharmacology. That's probably the underlying spirit behind the 'hacker' mindset.

Comment author: Nic_Smith 26 September 2010 05:08:35PM 0 points [-]

There is essentially no reason to bother with PHP these days. It's a relic and you'd end up having to learn all sorts of arbitrary distracting things.

I rather like PHP. Examples of "arbitrary distracting things"?

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 September 2010 09:32:38AM 0 points [-]

Thanks! Ruby looks good, but I know more Python/Django folk, so it's tempting to leave Windows for a bit. I guess I'll start with the RubyStack and see what I can build. I'm guessing a lot of the basic skills I need are transferable to Django development anyway.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 25 September 2010 11:40:48AM *  2 points [-]

I am not a web developer, but as a Linux user of 15 years let me explain why it might not be as bad as you think.

Get any old computer and put Linux, Apache, MySQL on it. (Those softwares require very little in the way of hardware resources unless you are serving 100s or simultaneous users.) Network the Linux machine with your Windows machine. Even better if your Windows machine has enough memory, run Linux on a virtual machine on Windows. I do not know what the cool kids are using these days in the way of virtualization software, but VMWare would work.

Use a web browser on Windows to test your web app of course.

Editing of text files (mostly config file for Apache, etc) on the Linux box or Linux virtual machine can probably be done using whatever text editor you already use on Windows though I do not know the details of how to set that up in any editor other than Emacs. (For Emacs I would probably use the FTP protocol. The SMB and NFS protocols are alternatives.)

True, you will probably need to interact with a shell on the Linux box or the Linux virtual machine occasionally (using something like PuTTY on Windows), but this way saves you the trouble of having to learn anything about Linux's graphical user interfaces. The good thing about the shell is that it lends itself very well to textual tutorials, with the result that there are 10s of 1000s of blog posts and web pages describing in exact detail how to do stuff in the shell. I would be happy to answer questions by email about the shell, but I do not know about Apache or MySQL.

This way of working with Linux -- by establishing connections to it with browsers, text editors, FTP clients and ssh clients like PuTTY on Windows is very common.

Everything I have described is the worst-case scenario. You can probably either install Apache, MySQL, etc on Windows like wedrifid says or avail yourself of some online service that will host the software for you and allow you to configure and administer it using a web interface.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 06:27:55AM *  4 points [-]

You are 18. You evidently have some degree of ambition. (Even 'wanting to do little net work to live comfortably' is an ambition that some wouldn't even consider.) You will need to learn things. Especially if you don't go down the mainstream route of drifting through school getting some piece of paper that says you are qualified and then doing things that will keep a boss from firing you. Making your own way takes effort and rather a lot of independent motivation.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 06:37:21AM 1 point [-]

I'd rather not. Walmart sounds better. My ambition is to maximize the chance of existential win. This post wasn't really about me. I'll be fine doing whatever. I already have job opportunities, and anyway, I'm pretty Buddhist. Homelessness suits me fine. Money would be great, but there are lots of skills I'd like to develop before I develop moneymaking skills.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 06:48:12AM *  13 points [-]

My ambition is to maximize the chance of existential win.

My observation is general. 'Money for survival' is close to the minimum ambition that will require (emotionally) hard work, and learning and doing things you seriously suck at that will make you feel stupid. Maximising the chance of existential win is far, far greater. This is why observations such as those are useful in as much as they are identifying a problem that may need to be worked around.

I dunno, it feels like there's this big unknown gap between me and being a below-average web programmer, and I don't like being below-average at anything, let alone having to work hard to become below-average. Hence I also avoid learning math, even though I know I really should learn more.

This is one of the most prevalent forms of self sabotage in existence.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 07:03:43AM 1 point [-]

Maximising the chance of existential win is far, far greater.

Right, so I attack that problem, because I must. I've picked up skills before, it's not a general problem for me. I'm good at a lot of things. I brag about it way more than I should. I just don't like learning things these days unless the payoff seems good enough. 'Learning to code' doesn't seem all that worth it when there are lots of other more direct things I could be doing, like studying the neurobiology and chemistry behind the mechanisms of nootropics.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 07:14:31AM *  4 points [-]

'Learning to code' doesn't seem all that worth it when there are lots of other more direct things I could be doing, like studying the neurobiology and chemistry behind the mechanisms of nootropics.

And then, of course you can collaborate with me. I've got programming skills, know enough stats to get by and am now studying pharmacology and more statistics. Since I'm typically drawn to the technical side of things and also probably better at making money than neurochemistry I'll quite probably end up just making enough money to employ folks to research the interesting stuff. At least that is my plan.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 September 2010 11:55:26PM *  3 points [-]

To me, it sounds like web programming fits the bill of the type of skill that you say you want. The only question is whether it will be worth the effort to get through the learning curve (though you can basically get started doing stuff very fast), and dealing the frustration of problems that take time to solve.

I really have no idea how well the benefits and costs will match up to other things you can spend your time on, but it does seem that web programming skills could be an asset for your effort in the domains of nootropics and existential risk reduction. Here are a few random ideas that web programming could help you implement:

  • Making a blog for some x-risk entity, or running your own x-risk blog, or any kind of outreach website
  • Making a database of information on nootropics with a web interface (even just for yourself, or people working with you; there is plenty use for websites or web services that don't face the public)
  • Making a website where people can journal or share information on nootropics ("NooBook?")

Every cause wants to be a cult... and also have a sweet website.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 September 2010 03:58:32AM 0 points [-]

This is true. I actually have a lot of fun programming (when it's going well), and especially when I get to throw in graphics design stuff. (I really like nautiluses, so I wrote this script in Processing that made a photoshopped and edited nautilus lazily follow my mouse pointer around... it was sooooooo cute. Ahem.) I think I'll pick it up, but do so during the 'fun' hours of my day.

Comment author: itsunder9000 24 October 2010 11:26:59PM 0 points [-]

Kid, hate to break it to ya, but have you looked at all the studies about nootropics?

There are "veerrrryy few" done in normal healthy adults. Their actual effects, are very contradictory, and not that great. Sure, there are a few glowing reports about it....but there are also a great deal of "this is bunk"

Even those studies done in rats and the elderly have few solid and stable results. They are often different for each study.

As a good rule, anything that works is either illegal or prescription, or there is a movement to make it illegal(like salvia) Why? Because, stuff that works, the word gets around quickly. Quickly enough, that worried parents and politicians with ambition find out about it too.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 06:32:13AM 3 points [-]

Two pieces of advice which work for me; your mileage may vary.

1) Let the projects drive the education, not vice versa. Learn languages and language features when you have a way to apply them immediately; you'll remember them better.

2) Make sure you can run the code before you write the code. ;)

Comment author: HughRistik 24 September 2010 11:33:37PM 2 points [-]

So, I have a forgotten year of C++ under my belt and I can work with HTML and CSS. What exactly goes into web programming? I was imagining it'd be a few months studying CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, MySQL, PHP, Django, that Google Apps language, et cetera, and it just sounded like a lot of work.

Yeah, this kind of stuff. You will mainly need a web programming language and probably a framework. HTML is pretty simple, and CSS isn't a big deal, though it's quirky. You don't really need to know much about MySQL or Javascript to get going. (Learning database concepts will be useful later, but the skill also gives you a good payoff because it will teach you some ways of statistical thinking.) You will also eventually need some Linux.

But you only need a bit of knowledge in some of these areas to start making stuff and start having fun. HTML + CSS that you already know + programming language and maybe framework + follow very basic instructions to set up a MySQL database.

Also, I've had 2 occasions where I spent a few hours looking for resources to help with a problem and I just had to give up, which is hella frustrating.

Yes, this will happen in programming. Sometimes a session of programming will be like banging your head against a brick wall until it breaks, then moving over a few inches and banging your head against another spot in the wall.

Documentation + Google is your friend. Most problems I run into that I can't immediately solve myself can be solved within a few minutes of Googling. Of course, it helps when it's typical web programming problems that already have like a million people on the internet asking the same question as you. Just try something, Google the error message, try what it says, then Google the next error message until there are no more errors and things are working. I can do things I've never done before very fast that way.

Many problems will take several hours to solve. Some will take days to solve. When you spend all that time stuck on exactly the same thing, then it's frustrating, especially if when you solve it, it turns out to be something stupid like a typo or a badly documented quirk of a function or something. For me, that's the exception, not the rule. Even when working on a tough problem that takes a long time to solve, I'm typically making progress along the way. When the problem turns out to not be something stupid or obvious that I missed, then it's a really nice feeling of accomplishment when you solve it. Variable reinforcement schedule, and all that. It's a great feeling to finally solve a challenging problem that took you days, when you were never even sure if you could solve it.

The result is that how you feel about programming depends a lot on where you are in your current problem-solving cycle.

I dunno, it feels like there's this big unknown gap between me and being a below-average web programmer, and I don't like being below-average at anything, let alone having to work hard to become below-average.

I think it's possible that you've been a bit too hard on yourself, and not given yourself enough time to see what programming is like and assess your aptitude and enjoyment for it.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 01 February 2011 05:23:10AM *  0 points [-]

I've had 2 occasions where I spent a few hours looking for resources to help with a problem and I just had to give up

This is standard when you're attempting to teach yourself programming and you're still an apprentice. There's no shame in it. Get over yourself and post on IRC and forums for help when you're having a problem that Google hasn't been able to help you with after 10 minutes. Or I'd be happy to tutor you. Especially if you'll let me work on whatever I want to work on and just explain everything I'm doing to you and make you do some bits so you'll learn stuff. I really want to try this (I suspect my psychology is such that I would experience very strong motivation from this.)

Oh yeah, so far I've given like 3-5 people programming lessons and all of them were hesitant at first but afterwards said they had a great time and learned faster than just about anything they'd learned in their life (kind of like this). So my reviews are good. Seriously, I am bouncing my foot with excitement just thinking about this. If anyone in Berkeley, CA wants to learn programming they should contact me (dreamalgebra on google's email service).

Learning to be OK with feeling stupid is good anyway because if you shy away from it then you'll be less likely to venture in to intellectual domains you're unfamiliar with, and you'll hesitate more to realize you're wrong. Seriously, I think being comfortable with being wrong might be the core rationality skill. (See my post that touches on this for more.)

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 06:33:31AM 0 points [-]

We've already talked a little about economics but it seems you haven't really got the hang of it yet. If you plan to sell your labour, the 'value' of your labour is not your problem, negotiate the best rate you can for what you can do. If you take a more entrepreneurial route you can try to sell a product. Again, your effort is not the point, you just negotiate for what the results are worth.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 06:47:24AM *  3 points [-]

I'm starting to regret writing the post in the first person, 'cuz people think I'm actually looking for employment. I'm not, really. Anyway.

I'm not thinking about how much money I could make, I'm thinking about how competent I think I am. What you say makes sense if I cared about money. What I really care about is being able to have the identity of someone who codes competently, in which case the 'value' of my labor is what determines that. I want to be good at what I do, and I'm complaining about the huge gap between me-now and me-good, no matter how much money I'd make in either case.

But that's off-topic for this post, so I shouldn't have brought it up.

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 06:51:06AM 2 points [-]

It's kind of arrogant to think that you are qualified to be the judge of your own value. If someone seems happy to pay you for your efforts, accept it in good grace and let them worry about what your time is worth.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 06:56:05AM 1 point [-]

Of course I'd look for external validation now and then, but that's not as important to me as building skill. Periodic tests via oDesk or the like should be enough to test my self-assessments for accuracy. But I don't care all that much about what the market thinks, really. I just want to build skills. I've managed to play guitar for 3 years without having the market judge its value, but I could care less. I play guitar for myself and sometimes my friends, and I do it because I care about its 'value': to me. I don't need to go busking to determine that.

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 07:02:52AM 2 points [-]

I just want to build skills.

Bow hunting skills?

I think it would be worth you while to learn some economics. Comparative Advantage would be a good place to start. Your values are valid but you should be fully aware of your choices.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 07:07:22AM 1 point [-]

I think you underestimate my knowledge of economics. I know about comparative advantage, marginal cost, diminishing marginal returns, Pareto frontiers, et cetera. I took AP Econ and folk at SIAI use the terminology quite a bit.

Bow hunting skills?

I totally have bow hunting skills! But not nunchaku skills... :/

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 07:16:12AM *  4 points [-]

I apologize, I tend to think that people who think their own academic accomplishments are significant factors in their future salary are probably confused about the way the world works.

I also expend significant effort on unmarketable skills (snowboarding in my case) but I don't expect anyone else to fund me for it. We live in a market economy; figure out your comparative advantage and negotiate the maximum price you can achieve for it.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 07:22:49AM 0 points [-]

I also expend significant effort on unmarketable skills (snowboarding in my case) but I don't expect anyone else to fund me for it. We live in a market economy, figure out your comparative advantage and negotiate the maximum price you can achieve for it.

Or, like, not. I totally realize that's what I would do if I wanted to make money, but I don't. At least for now, I only care about unmarketable skills. That's why I have so many of them. It was a mistake to write this post in the first person; I'm sorry for being misleading. But I'm not actually looking for employment. I have employment opportunities already, and things to do besides.

Comment author: itsunder9000 24 October 2010 11:36:44PM 1 point [-]

Want some brutally truthful tests designed to see how competent you are?

Take the SAT test, , which measures math ability, and verbal ability. Find a few psychology tests that try and measure memorization ability(like, how quickly and well you can memorize a topic)

Why? Because real world success, in intellectual endeavors, is largely a combination of how large your fluid intelligence is+memorization ability+ work ethic. The rest is due to combos of other factors.

Besides the SAT, you can take the LSAT, and study for a few things on there that require specific knowledge. The test is the single largest predictive factor of success in law school, and blind tests of competence.

There are a few other tests you can take. I recommend the AMC, which requires studying some topics outside of the regular school curriculum, but not too much.

Or, you could play starcraft for 3 months, and see how high you end up ranking.

Beyond these,I don't know of many good tests to see how competent you are.

Comment author: katydee 25 October 2010 06:04:26AM 3 points [-]

Are you joking? Starcraft isn't even a well-designed game-- it has all kinds of crazy barriers to entry and elements that explicitly exist to make it unnecessary difficult for people to pick up. Besides, it's easy for even a bad gamer (see: me) to achieve a high-looking ranking (top 25 Diamond) in Starcraft II thanks to its nonintuitive rating and placement system, and true rankings are only maintained for the top 200 people in each region.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 October 2010 03:48:41AM 2 points [-]

Yeah, I've done many of those. I took the SAT when I was 12. I've taken a few probably-inaccurate online IQ tests. I've done a few cognitive testing suites at SIAI. I'm in pretty good shape. In general though, there are better frameworks for cognitive testing. It's probable that one could make a neat suite out of PEBL, which is free and very customizable. Fluid g seems over-emphasized. The limiting factor for most rationalists tends to be strong metadispositions for thought, reflection, and drive.

Comment author: topynate 25 October 2010 04:45:26AM 0 points [-]

I've done a few cognitive testing suites at SIAI.

They have those?

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 October 2010 08:34:00AM 0 points [-]

They're ad hoc, we've used one for a dual n-back study which ended up yielding insufficient data.

Comment author: gwern 27 October 2010 10:21:08PM *  2 points [-]

Any chance you could write up that study? I don't believe I have seen any SIAI-related DNB study; certainly it's not in my FAQ.

(Remember kids: only you can fight publication bias!)

Comment author: Will_Newsome 28 October 2010 04:10:37AM 0 points [-]

We didn't study long enough to get any statistically significant data. Like, not even close. And I think sending off the data (even without names attached) would sorta breach an implicit privacy agreement among those who took part in the tests.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 October 2010 12:08:52PM 1 point [-]

Shouldn't doing something successfully in the real world be in there somewhere?

Comment author: Relsqui 30 October 2010 01:02:46AM 0 points [-]

Take the SAT test, , which measures math ability, and verbal ability

and wealth.

Comment author: itsunder9000 30 October 2010 05:10:34AM 0 points [-]

Read "the bell curve"

basically, smart parents were more likely to go to a higher ranking school, and move themselves up in the social heirarchy.

Smart people tend to have smart kids. Dumb people tend to have dumb kids. Hence, the scores.

For the race aspect of this, you can find the stats where poor east asian kids do better than rich white kids.At least on the math portion.

Comment author: topynate 30 October 2010 01:58:41AM *  0 points [-]

Yeah, but that only matters from a self-assessment standpoint if the causal graph is wealth --> score <-- ability, whereas for an uncoached entrant it's almost purely wealth --> ability --> score.

Comment author: Relsqui 30 October 2010 03:38:49AM 0 points [-]

Fair enough.

Comment author: lmnop 30 October 2010 02:04:50AM *  0 points [-]

whereas for an uncoached entrant it's almost purely wealth --> ability --> score.

And coaching can't make up a large part of the score difference, either. There's more than 100 points discrepancy on Critical Reading or Math alone between the lowest and highest income groups, whereas coaching only creates improvements of 30 points in Reading and Math combined.

Comment author: JGWeissman 24 September 2010 06:41:13PM 1 point [-]

A major problem with applying this point of economics is that most employers haven't really got the hang of it yet either. It is a sad rationality fail to be focused on what you could have accomplished if your potential trading partners themselves were only more rational (unless you can actually make them more rational).

If you can find employers who understand this, more power to you.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 12:29:16AM 2 points [-]

I'm a competent web programmer, but I've always shied away from the idea of doing it professionally. There are reasons for this, but I can't tell if they're actually the reasons I don't want to do it or if I'm just afraid of failure/success/hard work and making excuses.

Reasons include: I don't want to design webpages as much as I like making them work, and it's hard to find small jobs that don't involve both; I'm not familiar with any of the common frameworks/libraries/CMS, just basic PHP (not even OOP very much), and jobs seem to tend to want multiple skillsets; other peoples' ideas are sometimes boring but I'd have to do it anyway if I were getting paid to; I'm worried that if it were a job it wouldn't be fun any more; sometimes it's not fun even when it's not a job.

There's also a sense that I'm just not good enough at it to work at the professional level, which is hard to convince people of, because by definition I can only show them projects I had the skills to finish.

I guess I'm posting this in the hopes that someone will talk me either into or out of taking it more seriously. Am I wasting a perfectly good marketable skill, or is my aversion valid?

Comment author: Alicorn 24 September 2010 12:34:51AM 2 points [-]

Aaah! I knew your username was familiar but couldn't figure out how - I read it in the xkcd blag!

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 12:42:42AM 2 points [-]

Haha. Yup, that's me. I've actually showed up around there a couple of times, but more often by name than by nick.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 September 2010 12:44:13AM 9 points [-]

Do you know Randall Munroe well enough that you could convince him to hang out on LW? I want xkcd comics about timeless decision theory so much now that I have thought of the possibility.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 12:47:09AM *  7 points [-]

We've actually talked about it before, but it would take more interest than I think he has for him to take up a new way of spending time on the internet right now. For a guy who draws stick figures for a living, he's surprisingly busy.

ETA: ... besides, lots of people could draw comics about TDT! In most places, the easy part would be finding someone who can draw and is funny, and the hard part would be finding someone who knows anything about TDT; on LW it's probably the other way around.

Comment author: JoshuaFox 26 September 2010 11:14:04AM *  12 points [-]

Looks like the ideal place for you is college. Almost everything in your post points to the lifestyle:

"Flexible hours": Check; "Studying nootropics": Check

"Travel": Check (study-abroad programs); "Not be chained to an iffy job": Check (Avoiding downtime on your resume can "chain" you to a job, but school is not considered downtime.)

"Spend my spare time on things like self-improvement": Check (I never did as many side-activities as I did in college; and a liberal arts degree is often understood in terms of "self-improvement").

"Sleep cycle of the Chaotic Evil variety": Check; "Work 14 hour days ... cool to have that option": Check (I studied and did other activities non-stop in college; and a degree helps you work long hours for lots of money once you have it).

Whether you want to do college; or have the energy; or the money; or can get into a prestigious enough program, is another question. But you can get into state schools without a strong high-school diploma by getting good community college grades; state schools are pretty cheap; and some of them have some very good honors programs.

Despite the general anti-school tenor on LessWrong, some of us actually learned something in college, and enjoyed it too.

Comment author: noitanigami 23 September 2010 05:47:12AM 11 points [-]

I make my money teaching/ tutoring. This has the wonderful benefit of requiring me to re-familiarize myself with a wide range of topics and giving me a reason to study. Particularly wonderful as i have a hard time sticking with a topic without a reason.

I think that this is something that many LWers could benefit from.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 12:31:22AM 4 points [-]

Where do you get leads for clients?

Comment author: TobyBartels 23 September 2010 11:55:44AM 3 points [-]

This is what I do. I make enough to live on and spend all the time I want goofing off on the Net (such as on this blog).

But I couldn't do this without my college degrees, so this would be several years away for the OP. Fortunately, in college I also made enough to live on (to be fair, my parents contributed at first) and spent all the time I wanted goofing off on the Net. (I also would be debt-free if I'd budgeted more carefully.)

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 October 2013 04:39:32AM 0 points [-]

Can you be more specific? What do you teach, to what type of clients, how many at one time, and what do you charge? Do you work independently or for a company?

Comment author: PeerInfinity 24 September 2010 06:00:38PM 6 points [-]

I'm amazed that noone has posted a link yet to the Existential Risk Reduction Career Network. Or maybe someone did and I haven't noticed.

Here's the description on the site's front page:

This network is for anyone interested in donating substantial amounts (relative to income) to non-profit organizations focused on the reduction of existential risk, such as SIAI, FHI, and the Lifeboat Foundation. For more information on existential risk, please see Nick Bostrom's original paper, or Wikipedia for a brief overview. We are a community of people assisting each other to increase our resources available for contribution. Members discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different careers, network, share advice on job applications and career advancement, assist others with finding interviews, and occasionally look for qualified individuals to hire from within the network. If you are interested in joining us, please see our page on requesting invitations for more information.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 08 December 2010 05:28:54AM 1 point [-]

I'm a little confused about how the "career network" part syncs up with the "donating substantial amounts relative to income" bit. Are people helping each other find paid employment, or helping each other find grants, or what?

Comment author: PeerInfinity 08 December 2010 06:15:41PM 1 point [-]

So far it's been only about people helping each other find paid employment, but helping each other find grants is also a good idea, thanks.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 09 December 2010 07:03:29AM 0 points [-]

Wait, so, then what on earth does "for anyone interested in donating substantial amounts (relative to income) to non-profit organizations" mean? Do you help each other get jobs on Wall Street so you can donate the money?

Comment author: PeerInfinity 09 December 2010 02:16:17PM 2 points [-]

That's the basic idea, yes.

Most people in the network are looking for jobs as programmers. The second most popular job category is finance.

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 25 September 2010 12:22:25AM *  0 points [-]

Can someone confirm that this thing is actually operational?

Comment author: Morendil 25 September 2010 07:57:35AM 1 point [-]

Sure.

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 25 September 2010 09:30:46AM 0 points [-]

Damn, it seems I kind of forgot about the existence of this network. Better apply now...

Comment author: James_Miller 23 September 2010 05:11:30PM 6 points [-]

Look at salary data to help decide what kind of occupation to pursue.

Data for the U.S. is here:

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

Comment author: [deleted] 23 September 2010 05:00:31AM 5 points [-]

Thanks for posting this! I'm very interested in such advice.

Maybe we don't have to do it alone? Do people know of ways for groups of us who don't want to work to band together and get by?

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 05:34:49AM *  13 points [-]

Super Awesome Co-Op for Rationality, Organic Farming, Programming, Meditation, and Other Cool Stuff!

To be honest it'd be pretty awesome... we could live in yerts somewhere in Northern California and get by on self-sufficient power generation via solar panels and farming, and make additional money by giving seminars about rationality, meditation, programming, anything we were good at. We'd have tons of time to teach each other things and read text books and stuff. Sooooo cultish but so awesome. But I think the cultishness factor means it would be damaging to the rationality and Singularity memes, even if we never overtly discussed the Singularity.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 September 2010 09:28:08PM 7 points [-]

Super Awesome Co-Op for Rationality, Organic Farming, Programming, Meditation, and Other Cool Stuff!

Complete with a lone trail leading to an isolated yurt for those staging an all-out crisis of faith.

Comment author: ata 23 September 2010 05:59:27AM *  13 points [-]

get by on self-sufficient power generation via solar panels

That's too first-order hipster. Too "hippie environmentalist cult" (that's, like, so relatively mainstream, man). Much more fun to signal "technophile libertarian sci-fi cult". Can we could build a miniature liquid fluoride thorium reactor instead?

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 06:03:34AM 25 points [-]

Is there any way to go more meta-contrarian? Like, by eating liquid fluoride thorium instead and generating power with genetically modified giant venus flytraps? Fuck it, let's generate power with chocobos and get all our nutrition from LSD.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 September 2010 04:20:59PM 2 points [-]

This is in my top 5 funniest comments made on LW.

Comment author: CannibalSmith 30 September 2010 05:58:58PM 3 points [-]

Which are the other four?

Comment author: Relsqui 01 October 2010 01:56:20AM 0 points [-]

This is my favorite I've seen so far.

Comment author: LucasSloan 23 September 2010 06:14:21AM 6 points [-]

Can we could build a miniature liquid fluoride thorium reactor instead?

I'm pretty sure that the smallest designs for nuclear electricity systems produce far more power than is needed for a commune and cost far too much. Even if the cost per kilo-watt is one tenth as much, if you have a small community of people who are attempting to get by without working, you probably can't service the higher capital costs. Please don't let being cool get in the way of being practical.

(Comment also a reply to Will Newsome, whose comment I found too indirect to actually show what's wrong here)

Comment author: ata 23 September 2010 06:42:13AM *  12 points [-]

Please don't let being cool get in the way of being practical.

Please don't let being practical get in the way of jokes.

Edit: Unless it's a practical joke.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 24 September 2010 04:52:59AM 4 points [-]

I am all for a co-op, but a physical space requires many many things to go right.

We should look for the simplest plan that could work.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 September 2010 04:30:05PM 4 points [-]

This sounds sooooo awesomely amazing.

But I think the cultishness factor means it would be damaging to the rationality and Singularity memes, even if we never overtly discussed the Singularity.

A study of social dynamics might suggest ways to get around this. Lets at least keep it in the back of our minds.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 04:50:06AM *  3 points [-]

Social dynamics would probably be less of a worry than getting funding. Also, internet access. Satellite internet sounds kinda sucky. This looks a tad unbelievable. Or is the internet overrated anyway? I wonder how difficult farming really is. There are probably more efficient and lazier ways to get food. (Which isn't necessarily good.)

One possibly cool thing about it would be a community blog. I bet such a blog could get really popular, and then Hacker News and Silicon Valley people might show up, which could lead to cool things happening.

Added: DUDE. You can fly around in an airplane without a license or anything. We need a fleet of these things, and people could pay to get training or use them. Instant profit.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 05:06:10AM 2 points [-]

Social dynamics would probably be less of a worry than getting funding.

That wouldn't be my expectation. Money is easy. Social dynamics are hard.

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 06:22:48AM 0 points [-]

(It looks like there's no way to get that link to work...

This is one of the useful side-effects of learning programming.

Comment author: LucasSloan 23 September 2010 05:52:39AM 4 points [-]

I'm pretty sure there are ways to turn a bit of seed capital (~10 million) and ~150 people into money in Northern California. If you can nucleate a community, and especially if you can put some software start ups in it, you can probably triple the value of some farm land.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 24 September 2010 05:56:00AM 5 points [-]

Just some thoughts:

We should gauge interest first, and see what everyone's needs are. I get the impression that we are aiming for low-but-scalable-hours, high flexibility, high reliability, and relatively low-income. (high income if we can get it of course)

If we know roughly who is involved, we can list out our skills, and start brainstorming things we might be good at collectively. We should make sure to look for non-obvious things.

If we have any confidence that we can act more rationally than normal, we should look for areas in which this could be an advantage. (prediction markets?)

We should look closely at the ethical and existential risk implications of what we're doing.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 06:22:58AM 6 points [-]

We should look closely at the ethical and existential risk implications of what we're doing.

Making money? It would have to a significantly evil money making scheme for you to increase existential risk by doing it. (In particular I am observing that the market will do similar things anyway and you are just making it incrementally more efficient.)

Comment author: JamesAndrix 24 September 2010 06:57:48AM 1 point [-]

I guess I'd say you should imagine the most damage a handful of lesswrong readers could do if we were evil, and assume we could do that accidentally if we were not careful. Assume we might innovate. or just make the PR worse.

Really this is true of everyone, and everyone should consider existential risks.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 07:04:24AM 1 point [-]

I guess I'd say you should imagine the most damage a handful of lesswrong readers could do if we were evil

Create an AGI that tiles the universe with molecular SEO?

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 07:42:45AM *  2 points [-]

I'd really rather not find myself as a Boltzmann brain made from SEO rubbing up against itself.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 27 September 2010 05:19:24AM 1 point [-]

I've started a private google group to discuss forming an income earning group of some kind.

Email james.andrix@gmail.com and I'll add you.

Comment author: mattnewport 23 September 2010 04:52:38AM 5 points [-]

Despite some ethically dubious suggestions and a healthy dose of nonsense and self-promotion, The 4 Hour Work Week has some very helpful material relating to this topic. It's worth reading for the genuinely valuable ideas in amongst some less great material.

I'm interested in hearing the experiences of any LW members who've managed something like this as well.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 04:58:11AM 4 points [-]

Ha, I just added a reference to it in the post. I think the most valuable parts of The 4-Hour Work Week were actually the lifestyle parts: where and how to live cheap while having fun. But I think he handwaves the whole 'find something you can sell' part of the process. User:Kevin has had some success with a similar business model though; he sells kratom over the internet.

Comment author: khafra 23 September 2010 02:18:02PM 9 points [-]

User:Kevin

Isn't he just "Kevin" to those of us who subscribe to roughly human distributions of terminal values?

Comment author: Clippy 23 September 2010 04:54:13PM 5 points [-]

What's wrong with saying "User:Kevin"?

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 06:08:14AM 3 points [-]

I'm intrigued, haven't read it, and don't have available funds for a new book right now--what in it is ethically dubious?

Comment author: mattnewport 23 September 2010 06:29:39AM 7 points [-]

Off the top of my head:

  • He won a high level kick boxing tournament by exploiting a rule about ring-outs - legal but unsportsmanlike and feels like cheating.
  • His first major business success was selling supplements online (a 'neural accelerator') with unspecified (in the book) health benefits. You get the impression from reading the book that this business was only a couple of steps above those herbal viagra emails.
  • He advocates being persistent to the point of pushy / obnoxious in certain respects.
  • He talks about testing out business ideas by advertising products which don't exist and if someone completes an order telling them the product is on back order. If you get enough orders you make the product.

There are other elements which might trigger ethical qualms for others but which didn't bother me like the idea of personal outsourcing.

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 08:36:17AM *  4 points [-]

Yeah, I see what you mean. Not illegal or lying, but not quite honest or pleasant either. On the third point, "selling myself" has always been one of my weaknesses (to the point that I'm bad at asking for money for work already done or promised). I like the model of levels of self-marketing presented in this blog post, though.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 23 September 2010 11:04:48AM 4 points [-]

For what it's worth, I've seen an analysis which claims that the four hours of work neglects to include the amount of time Ferriss spends on self-promotion.

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 05:35:08PM 2 points [-]

the amount of time Ferriss spends on self-promotion

If he fits with other advice I've read about self-marketing, he's basically doing it all the time. Which is great, if that's enough of your personality or natural enough to you that you don't consider it work.

Comment author: waitingforgodel 23 September 2010 06:34:45AM 6 points [-]
Comment author: gwern 23 September 2010 01:53:20PM 3 points [-]

If anyone asks, this link was broken when I posted it: http://rapidshare.com/files/72981174/Timothy_Ferriss_-The_4-Hour_Workweek.rar

Comment author: Anubhav 16 March 2012 10:12:25AM 1 point [-]

Wow, it's still broken! That doesn't happen too often.

Comment author: cousin_it 23 September 2010 10:26:58AM *  11 points [-]

I myself hear myths of people who work via the internet, or blog for a living, or code an hour a day and still make enough to survive comfortably... Are there such people on Less Wrong that could tell us their secret?

I'm one of them. I code from home for 1 or 2 hours a day and make more than enough to live comfortably in Moscow. But, unfortunately, there's no magical secret to it.

I'm 27 now (turning 28 in a couple weeks) and started to earn money coding when I was 15. I changed employers a lot and learned a lot. (Worked from home a lot, too, and did many contract jobs.) At my current job I initially worked in the office for two years, so they got to know and value me. Then last winter I told my employer that I wanted to work from home with one office day a week, while taking a salary hit. They agreed and told me the salary would stay the same.

From where I stand, "snagging gigs" is not really a problem. Finding qualified people is the problem. Every successful software company in the world wants to hire every good engineer they can get.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 October 2013 04:35:30AM 0 points [-]

Can you give some specific, step-by-step examples of how you do "snag gigs"?

Comment author: cousin_it 29 October 2013 09:08:48AM 0 points [-]

Well, I work at Google full time now, so my experience might be out of date. But when I was looking for work, I always had many opportunities, because many of my relatives and friends work in software and have a high opinion about my skills. If you're not in that position, my step-by-step guide won't help you...

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 06:00:15AM *  4 points [-]

Would this be a good time to mention that I sell custom and pre-designed pinback buttons online? ;) Or, perhaps, that I'd be interested in doing some kind of skill trade for a better website for it? (I'd love to outright pay someone to do it, but I can't afford to. I'm able to do it myself, but I really don't want to.)

A topic I'd like to see addressed in this area is "how to make your resume/cover letter make you look like the badass you really are, but have no paperwork to prove." I have the opposite of your "typical nerd" problem--I'm really great at customer service and dealing with people*--but little to show for it. I have very little work experience and there's no particular career pattern in it. Plus, no degree.

I eventually got so sick of trying to find a job with the above for qualifications that I went back to school. But was I missing something? How could I have improved my chances?

*So if we start the LW co-op, I could do those bits. ;)

Comment author: bwalther 27 September 2010 03:46:25AM *  2 points [-]

I'd be glad to write on your proposed topic:

"how to make your resume/cover letter make you look like the badass you really are, but have no paperwork to prove."

Qualifications:

  • I work in tech and frequently interview people.

  • I've previously helped friends and strangers (via a /r/favors post) helping people redesign their resumes.

  • I'm a freelance application security specialist and have to make myself look like I'm worth the $80 an hour.

My friend Bhavna is an Indian who is a US citizen, and many tech employers do not trust Indian applicants, as lying on a resume is prevalent among Indian placement firms. She was able to trade up from a 6 month gig (her only work experience) into a $80k a year project management job in the LA area (a very difficult place to find jobs).

Comment author: gwillen 20 October 2010 10:21:28PM 0 points [-]

I am interested in this. Was it ever written?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 23 September 2010 11:17:09AM 1 point [-]

If you don't mind talking about it, are you making enough from it to make a difference to your quality of life?

I have a button business and an ugh field about doing much with it, partly because it's so large (about 5000 slogans) that doing anything significant involves a lot of work, so I'm curious about how much can be done with a couple of dozen images.

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 05:30:38PM *  1 point [-]

are you making enough from it to make a difference to your quality of life?

No--well, sort of. I don't often sell any online, but I make bike designs for the Berkeley Bikestation, and I've done other batch orders from time to time. If I had a job, it wouldn't be a noticeable amount, but since I don't, it doesn't take much to be noticeable.

how much can be done with a couple of dozen images

I do most of my sales in custom designs. My main goal is to have a really low barrier to entry for single buttons--as the site puts it,

to reduce as far as possible the obstacles that lie between "Hey, I'd like that on a button" and "Check out my cool button!"

I focus on this because it's a service I want to exist and enjoy being able to provide, more than because it's an especially profitable model. So I do scattered customs in quantities of 1-10, and occasionally a random internet sale of a planet set.

and an ugh field about doing much with it

Know what you mean. There are three things on this site I'm disliking dealing with right now:

  • Upgrading the website to provide an interface for custom button design. (I currently arrange custom designs by email with the client, which is a totally unnecessary trivial obstacle and doesn't need to take up my time.)

  • Pricing. For some reason I find pricing (not the stuff posted on the site, but estimates for bulk orders) unreasonably difficult. Part of the reason for this is that my pricing cannot be competitive with mass-produced-in-a-factory buttons and still be profitable for me, and I feel lame when someone chooses to buy from me because I'm a small local shop and ends up paying a lot more because of it.

  • Uploading images of a new button set. The set's done, the page is ready, all I need to do is take pictures and upload them ... but taking good pictures of small round shiny things is really hard, and I keep forgetting to buttonhole the photographer friend who offered to help with it.

And, I suppose, a little bit of malaise. There's a sense of "almost nobody sees or buys these, why am I bothering."

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 24 September 2010 05:19:04AM 2 points [-]

I have problems with setting prices too-- I suspect there's a delusion that it's possible to get prices right, while in fact while there's definitely too high and definitely too low, there's also a middle range where you might as well say something and the odds are in your favor that it will be accepted.

And I might not even be very correct about the too high and too low. For some reason, prices for used books at amazon don't converge to a market-clearing price. I have no idea what economists would say about that.

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 05:42:47AM 1 point [-]

For some reason, prices for used books at amazon don't converge to a market-clearing price.

Shipping costs? It's generally uneconomic even to give books away. I was going to offer a spare copy of a book here until I realized the shipping costs were such a high percentage of the cost to buy it new.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 24 September 2010 06:50:55AM 0 points [-]

Amazon prices for Simak's Time and Again-- there's a rough correlation between condition and price, but it's very rough.

New copies range from $48 to $130. Good copies range for 50 cents to $23. The ratings of the vendors don't have a strong correlation with the prices.

It took me 3 tries to get a price page like that (Heinlein's Expanded Universe and Byatt's Possession don't show the pattern, but I can tell you that it isn't rare for science fiction that's been around for a while.

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 06:56:04AM *  0 points [-]

Markets are imperfect. Shipping costs dominate the exchange value of books in my experience.

If anyone wants a 'free' first edition of The Four Hour Work Week and is willing to pay shipping from Canada let me know.

Comment author: knb 23 September 2010 07:44:05AM *  1 point [-]

I hate to make this suggestion to someone who can actually do her* own web-design, but have you considered using a free wordpress e-commerce theme? I used one for my first e-commerce website and it worked fine. You can save a lot of money and the themes are about 80% as good as a cheap commissioned design.

*not his, thanks Will_Newsome.

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 08:44:27AM 2 points [-]

Heh, don't hate to make the suggestion when I just told you I can't be bothered to do it! I hadn't looked into that, and will; thank you. I'm a little reluctant to use Wordpress for non-bloggy things, probably because it's one of the reasons my college's website is so bad, but that's not enough reason to reject it without more exploration.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 23 September 2010 08:07:16AM *  2 points [-]

his own web-design

My knowledge of the general LW population indicate 'his', but in this case, I'd bet on 'her'. Relsqui?

Comment author: Relsqui 23 September 2010 08:46:36AM *  4 points [-]

I'd bet on 'her'

and profit. For the record, you needn't point it out on my behalf--the error doesn't bother me, and I don't tend to correct people unless it's particularly relevant.

Comment author: Apprentice 23 September 2010 08:35:59PM 7 points [-]

Hmm, you're 18? The most financially helpful thing that happened to me when I was 18 was that a smart girl with well-to-do parents fell in love with me. But I suppose it's hard to make this happen deliberately.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 12:40:09AM 6 points [-]

I think I could probably get that to happen if I tried for a few months to a year. What's the next step? Move in together and not pay any of the rent? I have a girl in Berkeley who I could move in with for free now, but she likes me a lot more than I like her, and I think I'd feel way too guilty about that.

(I'm not really that interested in getting money; I volunteer/intern for SIAI which allows me to live comfortably. But I empathize with the counterfactual me that didn't have that option, or the possible future where my skills are no longer useful to SIAI. Therefore, more knowledge is good.)

Comment author: Zvi 24 September 2010 10:48:54PM 6 points [-]

Unless you are deceiving her in some way, my suggestion is to try and find a way to not feel guilty about this. That doesn't mean do it, since it might still not be worth it, but you have nothing to feel guilty about.

I have been in a situation. I have liked a girl a lot more than she liked me, known this and asked her to move in with me (rent free) anyway. I had the ability to do so, and I valued our time together and the chance to try for something more. It didn't work out, but I don't resent her or regret it. Given another chance I'd do it again.

Comment author: Apprentice 24 September 2010 10:27:24AM 6 points [-]

What's the next step? Move in together and not pay any of the rent?

Yeah, basically. In my case:

  • In-laws provided us with a rent-free place to live (their basement).
  • In-laws paid all tuition fees for my wife.
  • In-laws paid for a relatively lavish wedding.
  • In-laws generously helped with the down-payment on our current place.
  • In-laws frequently give us stuff.

While I don't mind, and in fact prefer, being bossed around by my wife - even I sometimes resent the degree of influence my in-laws have on our life. I can imagine that for someone less docile or more proud this would be a source of conflict.

I am passionately in love with my wife and have been since she first kissed me. I did not have to face the situation where an affluent girl has a crush on me and I'm not that into her - I wouldn't want to make any particular recommendations for that situation :)

Comment author: knb 23 September 2010 05:12:44AM 3 points [-]

I was about to make the same suggestion as mattnewport, (4 HR workweek).

I'm an impoverished/overworked grad student, though, so I'm obviously not an expert on how to live a comfortable, low-stress life.

Comment author: toner 23 September 2010 10:02:43PM *  5 points [-]

If you're truly smart, truly rational, and with the goal function you describe in your post, an obvious answer is to play poker on the internet. But beware: if it turns out you're not actually as rational as most of us on Less Wrong think we are, it probably won't work out.

Comment author: gwern 23 September 2010 10:47:08PM 6 points [-]

Is poker really doable? I was under the impression that amateurs were being driven out and even professionals were having difficulty dealing with poker bots and collusion.

Comment author: toner 24 September 2010 12:06:06AM *  12 points [-]

I hear that everywhere too. It's a selection effect: most of the population aren't smart and rational enough to be long-term winning players and it's these people you hear complaining, while the good players go on quietly winning.

It's definitely true that the games are getting tougher every year, because the community is learning to play better, so the threshold of ability you need to be a winning player is constantly increasing. But it's not that high yet.

Now let's talk about your two bugbears, bots and collusion.

1. Bots

You never ever have to worry about bots. The goal in poker is to seek out and play against bad players, while tolerating the presence of good players. It's completely irrelevant whether these players are controlled by humans, machines, or some combination. (In practice, except possibly for heads-up limit hold'em, good players are still better than the best bots published in the academic literature anyway.)

2. Collusion

This is something you have to worry about, but in practice it's not that big a deal, especially if you play at low limits, where it's not going to be worth the bother for competent players to collude. There have been only a handful of times when I've suspected collusion online, in which case, the obvious response was to stop playing against those players. Sometimes collusion can be detected statistically, but if some collusion does go undetected, as long as you're winning, what does it matter?

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 24 September 2010 03:27:06PM 9 points [-]

(In practice, except possibly for heads-up limit hold'em, good players are still better than the best bots published in the academic literature anyway.)

This is an interesting observation, but probably not that surprising: if you had a superior poker bot that was consistently profitable, why on earth would you publish it?

Generalizing, if someone working at a bank or hedge fund developed a superior theory of economics, and that theory could be used to make money through trading, why would they tell anyone else about it? Once the knowledge became public, it would no longer be profitable.

Comment author: feanor1600 25 September 2010 03:42:25AM 4 points [-]

This is the evil corollary of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis (that all publicly available information is instantly incorporated into market prices).

Comment author: dares 02 April 2011 08:08:40PM *  0 points [-]

This made me think of a sports gambling database and strategy set that I read about in an ESPN magazine at a barber shop. I don't remember the specifics but I recall that the database was shared by invitation only and had an intentional "barrier to entry" level buy in, which seemed high to me. The article claimed the database was in use by only 9 professional gamblers. I'd like to see some performance data on their bets.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 24 September 2010 12:29:59AM 5 points [-]

Isn't the obvious strategy then to create a set of colluding bots, and try to avoid detection?

Comment author: toner 24 September 2010 12:39:07AM *  5 points [-]

Go ahead! But it's hard.

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 24 September 2010 07:24:01AM 0 points [-]

If someone wants to do it, I btw could offer useful advice, including almost-finished algorithms on how the bot could play profitably.

Haven't done it myself, but have looked into it. Stopped short of doing the boring stuff of coding some stuff up (I don't really do programming), and of course there's also the ethical question of whether I want to screw over pokersites. But it certainly can be done, and I think I've already done the parts that could be hard (mostly, coming up with a winning play style that is sufficiently algorithmic).

(BTW, even good bots currently don't beat good or even mediocre players in most poker variations, but bots can make money playing against bad players, which are abundant.)

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 24 September 2010 04:26:08PM *  0 points [-]

I think I've already done the parts that could be hard (mostly, coming up with a winning play style that is sufficiently algorithmic).

Have you checked with other people about what they think is hard?
Why don't you think it's hard to evade detection, by the opponents, the resident software, and the server? (ETA: and were you looking into collusion? do you worry about the signature there?)

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 24 September 2010 06:02:52PM 2 points [-]

I have talked with people who are currently running bots. Most pokersites btw don't actually really even bother much to detect bots, since driving them out isn't in their interest unless human players start complaining.

I'm probably not going to publicly comment more than this on this topic.

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 24 September 2010 07:29:28AM *  3 points [-]

Online poker has recently been getting tougher every year, but it's not at all certain that this'll continue.

There could actually be a significant softening period coming up. Especially because the U.S. is moving towards dropping certain legislation, leading to a renewed explosion of U.S. players. Asia could also see a poker boom in the near future.

In general, in recent years almost every bad thing that could conceivably happen to online poker has happened, and it still hasn't actually been very bad, with the industry maintaining growth. It's difficult for the amount of (non-difficult) difficulties to not drop.

Comment author: baiter 30 September 2010 08:08:41PM 0 points [-]

There is some truth to the fact that online poker is getting tougher, but it is definitely exaggerated. I can assure you that it is still beatable and very profitable by competent players.

Also, don't forget the option of playing live poker. With a little training and practice, I would bet that most readers of this blog (who aren't prone to emotional instability, aka "tilt") would easily dominate at least the low-stakes games.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 05:39:26AM 1 point [-]

I'd have to lie about my age, no? Also, doesn't everyone just use software databases that tell them the odds for every hand? Or is that less common than I'd thought?

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 05:44:03AM 2 points [-]

Gambling online for money is illegal anyway in the US. Lying about your age isn't such a stretch.

Comment author: baiter 30 September 2010 07:57:04PM 1 point [-]

Gambling online for money is NOT illegal in most states. What's explicitly illegal is for US banks/financial institutions to perform transactions with online gambling companies.

Comment author: toner 24 September 2010 10:57:47AM *  1 point [-]

I think most online sites are 18+.

Most people use databases and heads-up displays, but to calculate and present statistics about your own and your opponents' play, not to calculate odds (calculating odds is easy). I like Poker Tracker.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 12:37:36AM 1 point [-]

This is actually something I've considered--I like the game, and I feel like I have the right kind of gray matter to think about it statistically. But I know I'm not currently anywhere near a level where putting real money on it would be a good idea. Any suggestions of excellent learning resources?

Comment author: toner 24 September 2010 01:18:07AM *  6 points [-]

Read some of the books published by Two Plus Two for solid beginner information that's mostly a little out of date; then sign up at a video training site (I like Deuces Cracked) for up-to-date information; finally go, e.g., here and accept one of the offers where they give you free money to play with and then use their money to practice at 1 cent/2 cent games.

Also, maybe ask this question at the Two Plus Two forums for a better response.

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 24 September 2010 07:44:36AM *  6 points [-]

Yeah, Two Plus Two is a good source of advice on everything poker-related. People can also email me if they wish, I make my money by playing poker.

And when choosing a rakeback site (you do need one), feel free to support a fellow LWer and SIAI-supporter by choosing mine :)

(It's actually kind-of half-finished; I haven't really started to promote it, and haven't polished the content. But it does work.)

EDIT: One of the ways in which that site of mine is "unfinished", is that it has a marketing attitude to a degree. I built it based on a template that has that attitude, and haven't yet decided whether I'll go along with that attitude or modify it to be fully trustworthy in the sense that marketing language isn't.

So to a degree, take what you can currently read there with a grain of salt. (You can email me for fully honest answers without a marketing attitude, and as mentioned, Two Plus Two forums are good.)

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 07:49:30AM 2 points [-]

What is a rakeback site? And if it involves money going to it why would I not just create my own?

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 24 September 2010 08:17:28AM *  3 points [-]

Rakeback is when a poker site gives you back part of what they take as commission from most pots you play. So signing up to a poker site through a rakeback site is like signing up with a discount.

Creating your own rakeback site is perhaps the best option if you bother to do it. The cut that the rakeback sites receive isn't very large, though, so it's not particularly common to bother to do this.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 07:55:17AM 1 point [-]

I'm guessing it's best to play hold 'em 'cuz that's where the stupidest people are at? Or will I find all this out by reading the material referenced in the thread? (I've read a few poker books but it sounds as if there's internet-specific strategies I need to know about.)

Comment author: Aleksei_Riikonen 24 September 2010 08:20:07AM 1 point [-]

You will find anything and everything out by asking at Two Plus Two forums (or browsing what beginner resources are already available there).

My guess is that no limit hold 'em is indeed still the best option, but some might make a case for pot-limit omaha. At least if one likes that variation more.

Comment author: toner 24 September 2010 11:03:50AM 0 points [-]

I agree, start with no limit hold'em because there's an awful lot of good learning material about it and the games at low limits are pretty good, but at some point consider switching to pot limit omaha.

Comment author: Relsqui 24 September 2010 02:04:01AM 1 point [-]

Hmm, thank you. At this moment I have neither as much money nor as much attention available as I think doing this right would require, but it's good to have leads for when that changes.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 24 September 2010 03:52:22PM 5 points [-]

Don't go for the get-rich-quick (or get-free-time-quick) schemes. You're 18 frickin' years old! The most reliable strategy would probably be:

  • Do whatever you have to do to get into a great undergraduate college. The more famous the college is, the more money you will make. It may take a year or two if your high-school record isn't impressive.
  • Take out a big scary loan to pay for the 4 years. Major in something geared towards getting a position in finance, law, doctor, or overseas defense contracting.
  • Do whatever grad school is necessary for your career choice, but only what is necessary!
  • Get a ridiculously high-paying job. Work for 20 years. Save your money.
  • Retire and do what it was you wanted to do in the first place, living off the interest.

Alternate plan:

  • Apply for a ROTC scholarship.
  • Go to college, whether you got the scholarship or not.
  • Join ROTC.
  • Work for the Army for 20 years.
  • Retire; receive half pay thereafter.
Comment author: Will_Newsome 24 September 2010 04:15:31PM *  6 points [-]
  • Work for the Army for 20 years.
  • Retire; receive half pay thereafter.

This works extra well if you supplement it with:

  • Work as a teacher for 20 years.
  • Retire; receive half pay thereafter.

My grampa's friend did that and now literally has more many than he knows what to do with, as he lives in a trailer and presumably doesn't care much for charities. I guess he's gonna leave all his money to his kids.

Anyway, thanks for the advice, but I wasn't actually looking for advice. Sorry, it was a mistake to write this post in the first person. I actually have things decently well figured out, but I wanted to make the post a little engaging, which was stupid of me. The knowledge is still useful though, in case things blow up, so thanks. :)

Comment author: jaime2000 17 January 2014 12:01:55AM *  0 points [-]

My grampa's friend did that and now literally has more many than he knows what to do with

This is evidence that your friend's grandpa screwed up. Indeed, after 20 years on a decent salary and retirement at half pay thereafter, I would imagine that income has long since reached the point of diminishing marginal returns, specially for someone so unconcerned with status as to live on a trailer and with no intention of giving to charity. To spend the next 20 years continuing to earn even more paychecks and a second retirement pension rather than living an eudamonic life with the little youth one has left seems like a horrible case of work for work’s sake.

Comment author: army1987 17 January 2014 09:12:49AM *  0 points [-]

This is evidence that your friend's grandpa screwed up.

Maybe he did really care a lot about leaving lots of money to his heirs.

Comment author: NihilCredo 24 September 2010 04:04:13PM 6 points [-]

The main plan seems to disregard the fact that he places a high value on having lots of time to faff around and low value on having a large income.

That said, I would disregard that fact as well and go with your suggestion anyway, since during one's twenties one's major life priorities will often change around every couple of years (generalising from personal + social circle experience), and switching to a profitable-career path is much harder than switching away from it.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 06:09:29PM *  5 points [-]

and switching to a profitable-career path is much harder than switching away from it.

Don't underestimate the strength of golden handcuffs.

Comment author: NihilCredo 24 September 2010 06:26:26PM 4 points [-]

I don't, but well-paid lawyers are significantly more likely to quit their job for some low-stress activity than someone with no relevant training is likely to quickly acquire a ridiculously high-paying job.

Comment author: mattnewport 24 September 2010 06:29:09PM 0 points [-]

Lots of people with no relevant training spend a lot of time and money trying to acquire the relevant training to get a high-paying job. I'd guess that this is more common than people quitting a high paying job for a low paying job with less stress. How many people start a law or medical degree every year relative to the number that quit those jobs for something less stressful and lower paid?

Comment author: JGWeissman 24 September 2010 06:15:51PM 3 points [-]

and switching to a profitable-career path is much harder than switching away from it.

Don't overestimate the strength of golden handcuffs.

overestimate -> underestimate?

Comment author: wedrifid 24 September 2010 11:17:09PM 0 points [-]

Thankyou, fixed.

Comment author: itsunder9000 24 October 2010 11:14:05PM 2 points [-]

If any decent percentage of this singularity stuff pans out, any plans greater than 20 years are bunk.

Hell, within the next 6-15 years, the price for models will plummet. Why?

Because, computer graphics are getting so good and cheap, that simply creating a model that looks beautiful, will be easier and cheaper just using the computer.

Reading, and contemplating all of these technology trends really changed thought process of what constitutes a solid job.

But, some advice I would give, is perhaps try and double major in computer science and electrical engineering. Go to a good grad school after college(since as he dropped out of HS, the only decent college he can get in to, is one that has a guaranteed acceptance program by sat scores), then work from there.

Solid, but boring.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 October 2013 04:21:56AM 0 points [-]

I don't know, but I think the odds of getting into a top-tier grad school from a third-tier undergrad are low. I haven't yet found hard data on this.

Comment author: taw 26 September 2010 11:54:13PM 3 points [-]

Ridiculously irregular sleeping patterns are fully compatible with standard freelance work in software development and similar fields.

Internet-only work doesn't work yet, you'd need to meet with real life people once or twice a week, and be extremely responsible over email when you're available to compensate for your reduced availability due to time-shift, but other than that it works just fine for me.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 September 2010 04:39:32AM 1 point [-]

Grey markets are fun. Selling stuff is a good way to make money. Just some random observations.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 December 2010 12:40:14AM *  1 point [-]

For food, check out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). It's easier to be eligible than I anticipated: an individual that has a net monthly income of $903 and less than $2000 worth of countable resources can get $200 of food money per month. They do require you to be employed, but you might be able to get away with doing minimal part-time work.

(It's a US government program but I'm guessing that similar programs exist in other countries.)

Comment author: Kevin 28 September 2010 12:20:14AM *  1 point [-]

Anime Community Marketing Associate

http://www.wikia.com/Hiring/Anime_Marketing_Associate

(if anyone here is seriously considering applying let me know, I'm willing to help with resume tweaking or teaching you how to present yourself as knowing community/SEO stuff that you might not yet know)