Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Boring Advice Repository

56 Post author: Qiaochu_Yuan 07 March 2013 04:33AM

This is an extension of a comment I made that I can't find and also a request for examples. It seems plausible that, when giving advice, many people optimize for deepness or punchiness of the advice rather than for actual practical value. There may be good reasons to do this - e.g. advice that sounds deep or punchy might be more likely to be listened to - but as a corollary, there could be valuable advice that people generally don't give because it doesn't sound deep or punchy. Let's call this boring advice

An example that's been discussed on LW several times is "make checklists." Checklists are great. We should totally make checklists. But "make checklists" is not a deep or punchy thing to say. Other examples include "google things" and "exercise." 

I would like people to use this thread to post other examples of boring advice. If you can, provide evidence and/or a plausible argument that your boring advice actually is useful, but I would prefer that you err on the side of boring but not necessarily useful in the name of more thoroughly searching a plausibly under-searched part of advicespace. 

Upvotes on advice posted in this thread should be based on your estimate of the usefulness of the advice; in particular, please do not vote up advice just because it sounds deep or punchy. 

Comments (559)

Comment author: MaryCh 27 March 2017 02:36:48PM *  1 point [-]

My kid has recently decided he's into meteorology. First, he just walked around with scribblings of "+5, -11" and hummed a weather forecast theme. This got boring for everybody else, so we explained to him that 'weather' happens in some places, and people watch it for explicit purposes of deciding some matters, not for sheer cuteness. (I don't think he believed me on that one.)

So now we make 'forecasts' - several for Ukraine (first the video, then the sound, for 25 cities or for north-south-center-west-east), Earth ('Australiaaa... thirty-six degrees... kangoroo can live'), and space in general (with fictional planets, although he ordered a Solar system, too). The upcoming one is going to be for mammoths (I'm thinking Eurasia + North America).

This lets us work on reading, writing, reciting (short messages; he doesn't like learning poetry by heart), painting and building things from cardboard, finding places on the globe. Although my husband groans about having to edit the end product (without delay).

Comment author: [deleted] 17 September 2016 07:16:45PM 0 points [-]

For parents who have trouble making the kids go to bed on time, like I do myself:

These past two nights, I lured the kid into bed with "Aurora Borealis" made with three really garish coloured rhinestones and a small flash-light (and with a plate of water & a plate of water and vegetable oil, since I was curious about how the images would change). Put the rhinestones on the floor or into the plate (they float between water and oil, but if you press on them, they sink) and direct light onto them (swishing them around, holding the light closer or farther, nudging them - sometimes, in water/oil, they overlapped) so that there is a reflection on the ceiling. (You can just oil them, it gets a sharper gleam than non-treated 'stones.)

I am going to buy some identical ones and try coating one with colourless nail polish, one with oil, and try adding salt to the water (or glycerine... or chlorophyll solution in ethanol... or benzene...) to see if there will be some change in my "Aurora". Good thing the kid is five and I have some time to brush up on my optics:)

Comment author: [deleted] 29 June 2016 07:20:37PM 0 points [-]

For meat-eaters, even a small plant in the kitchen can be a place to pour off juices from thawed meat. Plant gets nutrients, environment gets less eutrophication.

Comment author: hg00 07 September 2015 06:58:27AM *  0 points [-]
Comment author: glennonymous 11 August 2015 10:36:37PM 0 points [-]

Read the Boring Advice Less Wrong thread periodically and do what it says.

Comment author: Error 02 August 2015 10:43:45PM 0 points [-]

Two boring items of cooking interest:

On cracking eggs: There's a thin membrane on the inside of an egg's shell. When you crack an egg, you're actually aiming to break that membrane. If you crack the shell but the membrane's still intact, the egg won't split cleanly and most likely you will get shell pieces in your food. Figuring this out reduced my shell-in-food mishaps by something like 80%.

On butter: Real butter (the kind that comes in sticks) is meant to be kept at room temperature when you're going to use it. It lasts a week or more that way in a butter dish. I somehow didn't realize this until I was past thirty. I used margarine all my life, because I thought it was normal for butter to be rock-solid and completely unspreadable, as it is when taken out of the fridge.

Comment author: 4hodmt 14 October 2015 11:03:55AM 0 points [-]

Butter is meant to be kept at room temperature only if you're going to use it as a spread. If you mostly use it as an ingredient, or for flavoring vegetables, it's better to keep it refridgerated.

Comment author: sumguysr 27 February 2015 02:21:42AM 3 points [-]

If you routinely lose things behind the same piece of furniture either move it closer to the wall or block that space, or move it further from the wall to make retrieval easier.

Comment author: sumguysr 24 February 2015 04:20:01AM 0 points [-]

When placing multiple identical items in a fridge, or most other storage, always make room and place them in a row from front to back, so that you always reach for the freshest or open one from the same place.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 09 January 2015 02:42:04AM 3 points [-]

Invest at least 10% of your after-tax income, each month, in a Vanguard index fund. Do not buy individual stocks, nor any actively managed index fund, nor any fund with an expense ratio over 0.5%. If you absolutely must pick stocks, and I admit that I am not blind to the attraction, use a fee-free broker such as Loyal3, and don't count this towards your 10% - use play money for active investing.

If you are looking at your latest paycheck and finding it hard to see where you're going to cut to be able to put 10% into investments, precommit now to starting this program after your next income increase; also, start with 1% instead. If you cannot free up even 1% of your income, you have a major problem, which you need to fix. (Incidentally, if you can do 20%, do that.)

If your employer has a 401K match, for the love of all that's holy, contribute enough to max out the match! That's free money, that is!

If you have several old 401Ks, roll them over into an IRA with Vanguard. It'll be easier to keep track of your money, you'll likely pay lower fees, and IRA money is more accessible than 401K money.

Maintain a savings account with at least three months' expenses in it; six is better; twelve is probably too much - at that point you're losing more in growth than you're gaining from being able to ride out a job loss. But people do differ in how they feel about risk; by all means make it twelve if you'd be happier that way.

If you have recurring credit-card debt (not paid off at the end of each period), pay that down before starting on investing. And for dog's sake do so right now, that stuff is poison. Consider Lending Club or other peer-to-peer lending services, it is fairly likely that you can get a better rate than your credit card gives you.

Comment author: taryneast 06 January 2015 10:41:33PM *  4 points [-]

Budget some money each month towards substantially improving your life.

Look for the best, lowest hanging fruit (ie objects, classes and experiences that will have the most impact per dollar spent)

Ask others to recommend things - so you don't just think of the things you already know about.

Note: I've set up a page to collect these ideas here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/li4/low_hanging_fruit_for_buying_a_better_life/

Comment author: [deleted] 22 March 2014 10:27:15PM 5 points [-]

I used to have a lot of trouble getting up in the morning, and would frequently arrive to work or lecture at the last possible minute. The one change I made that had the largest impact, beyond strength of coffee or wake-up time, was to switch from showering after breakfast, near the end of my morning routine, to showering first thing when I get out of bed.

I now get out of bed, throw on my flip-flops, grab my stuff to shower, throw a pita in the toaster oven for 10 minutes to make a start on breakfast, fix coffee using the electric kettle, and shower. After showering, I put my contact lenses in. Then I fix up my breakfast sandwich (tomato, cucumber, slice of cheese in pita), toast it some more, and dress myself. Then I eat the food and drink the coffee while enjoying some morning web-browsing. Lastly, I brush my teeth, floss, rinse, pack my stuff, and get the hell out the door to work.

Showering is a blocking activity; when it came last, any slightest procrastination or oversleep got penalized in the last part of the morning routine: walking to work. Sometimes I wouldn't even get breakfast in; the whole thing became a self-destructive death-spiral of failing at basic responsibility and self-organization. By moving the blocking activities to be first in the routine, I now penalize the frivolous web-browsing when I need to penalize, and feel more refreshed earlier.

As a result, despite having no explicit requirement or incentive to be at work at any particular time (graduate student), and not even having a morning class this semester (afternoon lecture and tutorial only), I now regularly arrive to work around 9AM. This has made "racking up the hours" a lot easier, and raised my total productivity by a small but substantial amount that compounds each day.

TL;DR: Shower first in your morning routine.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 06 March 2014 06:58:41AM 1 point [-]

If you want to live longer, consider reading this post on high-impact ways to lead a healthier lifestyle by RomeoStevens.

Comment author: Donovanable 04 March 2014 07:07:33PM 5 points [-]

After you get a haircut you like, ask your stylist to describe what ey did/what the style is, ideally in the vocabulary of the trade. For instance, my current style includes a face frame, long layers, and some other style words.

Write it down, stick the note in your wallet, forget about it until the next haircut. You get the benefit of repeating instructions as they would be described from one hairstylist to another and are less likely to fall victim to terrible cuts or the poor memory of your regular stylist.

As someone who is less productive with a bad haircut (I have to pin unruly lengths out of my eyes, etc), this has saved me time and confusion.

Comment author: MaximumLiberty 29 October 2014 09:59:17PM 3 points [-]

After you get a haircut you like, get a friend to take a picture of you from all four sides (and top, I suppose) with your phone. In future haircuts, show it to the stylist.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 22 January 2014 11:09:10PM 0 points [-]

How To Survive A Death March (as in 80 hour work week).

Comment author: Error 20 January 2014 04:21:46PM 3 points [-]

(By request)

Shower-drying optimization:

Leave the bathroom door open and the shower curtain partway pulled so humidity doesn't collect in the room. Have an oversized bath sheet in reach (you can get good ones at Costco). When you're done showering, towel-dry hair, then the rest of you, then comb your hair so it doesn't stick. Without humidity in the room, you don't keep sweating so you don't feel clammy. You can get dressed immediately if you're pressed for time. If you're like me and hate putting dry clothes on damp skin, find something you can do for ~15 minutes while you air-dry the rest of the way (making/eating breakfast is good for this, since you probably have to do it anyway).

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 14 December 2013 10:58:47PM *  1 point [-]

Reduce routine shopping time by

  • Make a list of items you shop all the time

  • Shop at a fixed schedule e.g. every tuesday, every 4 weeks, every first tuesday of the week.

  • Shop the items in a fixed order (possibly matched on you list). Note: Most stores change the order almost never and the order is part of the customer retention program, so you should be aware that this will bind you to the store.

  • Choose a weekday and time where the supermarket is mostly empty (e.g. in the morning instead of on saturday or in the evening when it may be crowded)

  • Do the shopping together with other persons to batch larger amounts and/or use transporation together (a car)

  • Buy a larger fridge (possibly a large top loading one in the basement (the top loaders are much more engery efficient) to reduce the number of times you have to go shopping.

  • Freeze some food not customarily frozen: bread/buns, butter, cut cold meat (it may affect the taste)

  • Use a a grocery delivery service. But note that it may not save as much time as you think:

    • oportunity time costs for need to be there when the delivery arrives
    • limited availability of frozen goods
    • storing away the purchase also takes some time esp. on large purchases (you do not usually feel this time on small purchases as it gets merged into everyday tasks)
  • You can still buy fresh fruits and vegetables etc. more often e.g. bi-weekly. You can use that time to do fun shopping with a mostly empty basket and unhurried.

Some more context for this can be found in the following scattered comments:

Personal example:

We used to shop every five weeks with a pre-filled checklist for 6 persons. In total about 4-5 shopping carts full (I heard the german carts are relatively small compared to the US ones). It takes 3-4 hours total. Note that this includes >1h to store everything away (e.g. unpacking vegetables, fruits, unpacking boxes, reordering fridge). What remained were short weekly single-shop trips to buy milk, fruits, bread and a few other items.

I'd guess that compared to shopping every two days as my mother used to which took at at least 1h each time (whatever the amount purchased) this probably saves about an 1.5 hours each week.

And it is cool.

Comment author: Rukifellth 04 October 2013 05:17:12PM *  4 points [-]

Read literature with an old writing style, especially if you dislike said writing style. The more opaque and complicated, the better.

I find that I'm a very fidgety reader, unconsciously skipping words, or even whole sentences, skimming over words I don't actually know the meaning of, and failing to connect the context of words that I do know the meaning of with the rest of the narrative or lecture. This I do with both literature and more importantly, when reading science. I've decided to read At The Mountains of Madness and penalize myself for every time I lose track of the narrative, and reward myself for every time I recognize when one sentence adds or contributes to something implied by another sentence earlier on in the paragraph, and so on. Furthermore, I will do this for only literature, and not with learning new scientific concepts, or even old ones that I have already learned. The problem is with reading comprehension, not with understanding concepts, and exercising two skills at once prematurely may cause problems. I hope this will instill genuine patience, so that being careful and observant becomes a natural thing, rather than the uncomfortable thing I wrestle with.

Comment author: glennonymous 12 August 2015 04:13:24PM 0 points [-]

Proust's In Search of Lost Time, with its famously long and complicated sentences that often take four or five reads to parse, is great for this. As a bonus, it's Great.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 December 2014 01:06:07PM 0 points [-]

...and sometimes, those old books will surprise you in a good way. I'm struggling through W. Scott's 'Waverley', and there's a Lady who was in danger from a hidden Enemy. Unfortunately, even though he is known to the Good Guy, accusing him of ill intent is politically unwise, so the Good Guy conceals himself and 'stalks' the Lady as a peasant, ... She is bewildered, but doesn't tell anyone because they would think her given to fancy. He saves her life as a forester, and she sees divine intervention in this and prepares to enter a convent. (She is thought to lose her mind when she tells her observations.) He then reveals himself, she UPDATES her beliefs and they [probably] marry. A Bayesian happy end! How cool is that?

Comment author: Benja 31 August 2013 12:22:01PM *  1 point [-]

You should frequently change your passwords, use strong passwords, and not use the same password for multiple services (only one point of failure where all your passwords get compromised rather than every such service being a point of failure). It's not easy to live up to this in practice, but there are approximations that are much easier:

  • Using a password manager is better than using the same password for lots of services. Clipperz is a web service that does the encryption on your computer (so your passwords never get sent to the server), and can be installed locally. Alternatively, you can use a local application if you're not worried about ever needing your passwords when you don't have access to your computer. I currently try to get by with (a login password) + (passwords for particularly important online services like online banking) + (a password manager password).

  • If you balk at the inconvenience of regularly memorizing randomly-generated passwords, it's better than nothing to come up with memorable phrases and take the first letter of each word to form your password. (Non-boring bonus advice: You can use phrases that remind you of something you want to do each time you log in to your computer, like looking at your todo list. [ETA: Never mind. I've now tried this twice and both times entering the password has become automatic far too quick, stopping almost immediately to serve as a useful reminder.])

Comment author: lsparrish 18 October 2013 02:11:04AM 1 point [-]

You can generate a very strong passphrase with Diceware. Physical dice are more secure than almost any electronic device, and dictionary words let you memorize the randomness very efficiently.

This can then be used with KeePass or some other password manager. Also useful for brainwallets and other kinds of data where offline attacks are likely.

Comment author: PECOS-9 06 October 2013 05:25:27PM 0 points [-]

I like the approach of password recipes to have a unique password for each service without needing to memorize very much.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 October 2013 07:15:51PM 1 point [-]

“Furthermore, your unique password should not contain any word in any language.” -- ahem...

Comment author: PECOS-9 06 October 2013 07:57:22PM 1 point [-]

The purpose of that suggestion is to protect against dictionary attacks. Agreed that the advice "should not contain any word in any language" is overly strict (better advice would be "should not simply be one or two words in some language").

Regardless, password recipes are a solution for the problem of coming up with a different password for different services. Even using the technique in the comic to remember phrases like "correct horse battery staple", it would be difficult to remember a different password for dozens of services compared to just remembering a single password recipe.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 October 2013 04:51:25PM *  1 point [-]

you can use a local application if you're not worried about ever needing your passwords when you don't have access to your computer

... or you can just store your KeePass database in Google Drive.

Comment author: Benja 31 August 2013 12:11:40PM 3 points [-]

As a pedestrian or cyclist, you're not all that easy to see from a car at night, worse if you don't wear white. High-visibility vests (that thing that construction workers wear, yellow or orange with reflective stripes) fix the problem and cost around $7-$8 from Amazon including shipping, or £3 in the UK.

Comment author: 4hodmt 14 October 2015 08:08:55PM 0 points [-]

Less than £2 on eBay. I bought mine for 99p including postage, but I can't find any for that price now.

Comment author: peirce 06 July 2013 12:41:58AM 2 points [-]

Make commitment contracts for anything important (works best for long term things). Commitment contracts (beeminder.com stickk.com) have basically solved 90% of motivational problems. The more important something is and the lower the initial expectancy of you actually doing it, the bigger contract you make. for example, if you really need to study for an exam, but you know that in this past you have always intended to study for exams but ended up doing nothing, then put a lot of money on yourself doing it. Be wary if there is ever something important that you do not want to make a commitment contract for, as if you actually expect to do it, then making the contract should pose no problem, as you will be unlikely to lose any money.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 06 July 2013 12:44:57AM 2 points [-]

Good advice, but not boring enough! Beeminder is exciting and shiny!

Comment author: Prismattic 22 May 2013 10:52:09PM *  8 points [-]

I was moved to post this by the fact that numerous LW participants apparently find the preparation and consumption of food to be such a huge imposition that they're willing to try rather radical interventions just to avoid cooking and eating. Assuming that such steps don't appeal, may I suggest some more mundane ones.

Write a weekly meal planner. This eliminates the extra cognitive load of having to think about "what am I going to make for lunch/dinner" on a rolling ad hoc basis. It also makes it more likely that your grocery shopping purchases will actually match your consumption needs.

To the extent possible, parcel the ingredients out by meal in your refrigerator as you stock it. This saves preparation time later.

I can't guarantee it will work for everyone, but I think a typical individual can save themselves both time and stress concentrating meal selection and the early stages of food preparation all at one time per week, rather than repeating the process on a daily basis.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 23 May 2013 01:07:35AM 1 point [-]

I absolutely endorse this. I don't bother with it anymore because I enjoy spontaneous cooking (and find it soothingly meditative much of the time), but during the first few months after my stroke when cooking (like everything else) was hard work, I found that organizing my food prep for the week (and cooking in large quantities, and sticking to minimal-prep techniques like roasting and crock-potting) saved me much-valued hours.

Comment author: Estarlio 13 May 2013 06:59:57PM 1 point [-]

Buying a good microphone and some decent voice recognition software and learning to speak so that the computer can understand you can potentially save you a lot of time if you do a fair amount of prose-style text input.

Comment author: BrienneYudkowsky 13 May 2013 02:38:14AM *  15 points [-]

Learn how to remember people's names.

Of course you're horrible with names. That's because you haven't learned how to learn them. You evolved to know something like 100 names at a time, so your software needs an upgrade if you want to do more than that. Use the mnemonic technique called "linking" or "chaining". This video is cheesy, but it's exactly how I do it.

Calculate the VOI on giving this a try. If you go to conferences very often, or have lots of students, or live in a large city or something, it's probably really useful to you to be able to remember names. Especially given that you can google any name you manage to remember. And consider the psychological effects! A person's name is her favorite word, and knowing it is the password to her attention.

By the way, I'd be very interested to hear from any face blind people who have experimented with this.

ETA: This is also a fantastic party trick I use all the time.

Comment author: Sinal 10 April 2015 06:24:07AM *  2 points [-]

Link for the video doesn't work

Comment author: DSimon 03 September 2014 01:48:19PM 0 points [-]

Seconded on that video, it's cheesy but very straightforward and informative.

Comment author: BrienneYudkowsky 13 May 2013 12:09:24AM 6 points [-]

Don't wait until things are horrible before making them awesome.

Comment author: metatroll 24 June 2013 08:38:19AM 0 points [-]

Too late!

Comment author: RomeoStevens 01 May 2013 09:40:09AM 14 points [-]

Whenever you need something for which just buying the popular version on amazon won't work, seek out the enthusiast forum for whatever it is you're trying to buy. They usually have a sticky that will flat out tell you what is considered a great cost/performance item by experts.

Disclaimer: you should not do this if you are the sort of person to fall down the rabbit hole of new enthusiasms.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 29 June 2013 11:30:50PM 0 points [-]

Alternatively if there isn't a sticky the top scoring posts in the subreddit on the subject will probably give you good information.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 01 May 2013 12:22:53AM *  11 points [-]

I just posted this on my Facebook wall and realized it might belong in this thread:

If you think you spend too much time on Facebook but don't know what to do about it, try this: set the password to a long string of characters (say, 50 letters or numbers) which you need to manually copy every time, and log off when you finish your session. The daunting prospect of having to manually enter this information will discourage you from logging in unless you really desire it. I went from checking Facebook a dozen times per day to just one or two times. (Tip courtesy of Piers Steel, The Procrastination Equation.)

Comment author: [deleted] 01 May 2013 06:37:21PM 2 points [-]

LeechBlock has an option to prevent you from accessing the settings until you retype a random 32-, 64-, or 128-character code. I think it's a brilliant idea.

Comment author: James_Miller 11 April 2013 02:13:16AM 2 points [-]

Call your cable company to try to negotiate a better rate.

Comment author: CarlShulman 19 May 2013 06:42:37AM 4 points [-]

Which works better if you a) check out the competition from the phone company to get a competing offer or b) call the "cancel my service line" which is empowered to give extra deals. Here is a random article with some further tips along these lines.

Comment author: Stabilizer 05 April 2013 11:35:13PM *  6 points [-]

Before heading to the gym for a workout, plan out your workout in detail (what exercises, in what order, how many sets, how many reps) and preferably carry a piece of paper with the workout written on it. This leads you to getting more done in less time. But more importantly, this prevents decision fatigue from draining your willpower; and you need willpower in large quantities to finish your workout.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 29 June 2013 11:31:58PM 0 points [-]

Apps like fitocracy allow you to copy/paste workouts to make this easier

Comment author: MixedNuts 26 March 2013 10:14:15PM *  3 points [-]

If you want to stop taking prescription meds and they're cheap enough, keep buying them and stockpile.

(Source: Burninate)

Comment author: wallowinmaya 28 March 2013 01:58:17PM 1 point [-]

Or ask for a higher dosage than you need, split the pills in half and stockpile.

Comment author: MixedNuts 28 March 2013 04:42:06PM 2 points [-]

Make sure the pills can be split, if you do that.

Comment author: wallowinmaya 28 March 2013 07:31:36PM -1 points [-]

Every pill can be split. Use your teeth or a knife if necessary ;) In the case of capsules filled with powder the procedure will be a bit more annoying, but still manageable.

Of course, these methods could lead to an increased rate of absorption, so be cautious.

Comment author: MixedNuts 28 March 2013 10:57:27PM 2 points [-]

If a pill isn't designed to be split, it means the manufacturer thinks it's unsafe to split. The manufacturer has expertise you should usually defer to.

In particular, don't split bupropion unless you want a seizure.

Comment author: wallowinmaya 28 March 2013 11:24:05PM 0 points [-]

Life is dangerous. Of course you should search the internet before you try something new.

Funny, you should mention bupropion. I actually prefer splitting bupropion pills and chewing them a bit since the faster absorption-rate and thereby shorter action time allows me to sleep better. However, I only take 150mg.

Comment author: MixedNuts 29 March 2013 03:05:49PM 0 points [-]

...got tips or links on that? I'm thinking of doing that on top of my usual extended release intake, possibly in combination with other occasional-use meds such as alcohol.

Comment author: wallowinmaya 31 March 2013 08:24:24PM 0 points [-]

I don't know, I just bite them approximately in half and chew them...

Comment author: MixedNuts 15 April 2013 12:04:31PM 0 points [-]

Important info you didn't mention: the thing tastes bitter and horrendous.

Comment author: wallowinmaya 15 April 2013 03:54:07PM 1 point [-]

Oh yeah, sorry about that. I guess my gustatory sense isn't that sensitive anymore ;)

Comment author: wedrifid 26 March 2013 10:39:03PM 2 points [-]

If you want to stop taking prescription meds and they're cheap enough, keep buying them and stockpile.

Why?

Comment author: gwern 26 March 2013 10:59:21PM 9 points [-]

So you can sell them on Silk Road?

Comment author: MixedNuts 27 March 2013 07:58:52AM 5 points [-]

I was thinking in case you need them again, to avoid the cost of convincing a doctor to prescribe them anew, but that too.

Comment author: Mestroyer 23 March 2013 09:49:12AM 9 points [-]

If you're picking out a CPU or graphics card for a custom-built personal computer, ignore basically every number the manufacturer provides to quantify its performance, and go look at some benchmarks. Not because the numbers the manufacturers provide are inaccurate, but because there are so many factors that go into how good hardware is besides the those numbers, that you will never get as accurate an estimate from them as with direct measurement of the performance.

Also, make sure they are compatible with your motherboard.

Comment author: Yossarian 21 March 2013 12:30:57AM 10 points [-]

Give people permission to bug you.

If you commit to doing or following up on something for somebody, tell them to bug you if you don't get back to them about it. You'll feel less stressed about remembering or being obligated to do it because you've shifted at least some of the responsibility to them and given yourself external pressure, which is ultimately more efficient than relying on your own willpower anyway.

Conversely, give yourself permission to bug people, though without judgment. You know how you feel when you have email in your inbox that you know you really ought to get to, but don't? Somebody is feeling that way about your email right now. How helpful would it be if they electronically tapped you on the shoulder as a reminder? More helpful than getting more and more resentful because they've forgotten/don't care/don't consider you valuable enough to bother replying.

Comment author: wmorgan 11 March 2013 10:03:32PM 23 points [-]

Always negotiate on salary, i.e. ask for more than their initial offer. Patrick McKenzie explains why.

Comment author: roland 11 March 2013 07:15:27PM 0 points [-]

As a man, don't get married unless she is very rich.

As a woman, get married if the law is on your side(which it generally is in most western countries) and if the man has enough financial resources.

Comment author: MileyCyrus 11 March 2013 07:25:38PM 0 points [-]

Please delete this comment and don't bring up the subject again. Or if you must, bring up the subject only in the Politics Open Thread.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 12 March 2013 05:24:24AM 9 points [-]

While the way it is phrased here is politically inflammatory, the general piece of advice "be cautious about entering contracts even if your peer group seems blase about them" is probably good.

Comment author: Stabilizer 11 March 2013 07:04:41PM *  9 points [-]

Don't get worked up about jumping through administrative hoops such as filling forms, filing tax returns, sending applications. Especially don't go on a moral plane and say things like, 'I shouldn't have to do these things' or 'This is degrading'. It is much more easier to just do the work which cannot be reasonably argued with. Further, if you don't, you can stand to lose a lot. And not for interesting reasons. Think of it as one-boxing on Newcomb (though without the million dollars).

Comment author: wedrifid 23 March 2013 08:33:55AM 0 points [-]

Think of it as one-boxing on Newcomb (though without the million dollars).

That sounds a lot like losing.

Comment author: MixedNuts 22 March 2013 11:06:38PM 2 points [-]

Sounds a lot like "paperwork is a mild annoyance to me, therefore people who claim to find it painful are just being drama queens".

Comment author: Stabilizer 22 March 2013 11:10:06PM 2 points [-]

No. Paperwork has definitely been more than a mild annoyance to me and has cost me a lot in missed opportunities and money.

Comment author: MixedNuts 22 March 2013 11:13:28PM 2 points [-]

Then shouldn't you be including advice on how not to get worked up about it?

Comment author: simplicio 11 March 2013 10:13:49PM 10 points [-]

Don't get worked up about jumping through administrative hoops such as filling forms, filing tax returns, sending applications.

Also, if you make a half-decent salary, ask yourself whether you ought to be doing it at all as opposed to delegating it to e.g., a tax professional.

Probably one of the most important rationality skills I have learned is to really internalize the principle "my time is worth something" and spend money on delegating tasks I find annoying or time-consuming.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 12 March 2013 05:04:45AM 1 point [-]

Also, laundry, dishes, and cleaning. If you have potentially lucrative side projects going it can be stupid NOT to free up your time.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 12 March 2013 01:30:54AM 3 points [-]

I tried delegating my taxes to a tax professional last year. It took -more- time, not less.

This year it could potentially save my time, because I already know my deductions are going to be pretty significant. (1/5th of my pretax income last year went towards a new roof. And I bought a new computer for work. And a bunch of other homeowner investments that AFAIK are deductible.) As opposed to last year when the "professional" ignored me when I told her my deductions wouldn't exceed the standard deduction, and insisted on going through mounds and mounds of paperwork and receipts, trying to get me $1 over the standard deduction. (I think we ended up about $50 short, and that was after some very... creative deductions.)

Be cautious with professionals who think they know more than you about your business, I guess.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 10 March 2013 03:46:22AM 11 points [-]

Meta: Perhaps we should all pre-commit to rewarding people who say boring but true things, in general upvotes and/or social cache goes to people who say interesting things regardless of truth.

Comment author: Mestroyer 12 March 2013 12:52:18AM 6 points [-]

Boring true things tend to be already known, and not as useful as true interesting things.

If it's boring enough, it is a waste of time to say. I think what people in this thread are looking for are true things that are not as interesting as normal, but not really really boring.

1+1=2.

Comment author: Larks 09 March 2013 04:08:09PM 7 points [-]

Don't get arrested.

Comment author: Bugmaster 23 March 2013 12:31:28AM 1 point [-]

IMO this sentence is too general to constitute useful advice. It's like saying, "don't get killed". Well, yeah, that's a good idea, but how do you actually implement it into practice ?

Comment author: RomeoStevens 01 May 2013 09:38:06AM 9 points [-]

Try very hard to avoid doing two illegal things at the same time (and if you go to 3 you're just asking for it). This is one of the biggest ways people get caught.

Comment author: Larks 23 March 2013 01:16:36AM 0 points [-]

Avoid committing crimes, especially near police. I think the people already know this though.

Comment author: Bugmaster 25 March 2013 06:22:12AM 6 points [-]

In most countries, including the USA, it is prohibitively difficult to completely avoid committing crimes. For example, you commit a crime whenever you:

  • Drive over the speed limit
  • Sing "Happy Birthday" to someone
  • Watch a movie at home with friends (depending on the media)
  • Make off-color jokes in public
  • Drink alcohol (depending on location)
  • Post certain kinds of jokes on Twitter
  • Create software of almost any kind

Most of the laws that define such actions as crimes are rarely enforced here in the USA -- until you happen to draw an attention of some moderately powerful person or entity, at which point the enforcement kicks in. However, it would be difficult (though not, I suppose, impossible) to lead a normal life without committing any such minor crimes.

Comment author: asparisi 16 April 2013 04:46:03PM 5 points [-]

Technical note: some of these are Torts, not Crimes. (Singing Happy Birthday, Watching a Movie, or making an Off-Color Joke are not crimes, barring special circumstances, but they may well be Torts.)

Comment author: [deleted] 23 March 2013 06:10:19PM *  1 point [-]

I'd remove the comma and “especially”. Why the hell would I refrain from (say) infringing copyright if I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting caught? (unless I thought infringing copyright was bad in itself -- but in that case I wouldn't need to be told to avoid doing that)

Comment author: Larks 23 March 2013 06:56:46PM 2 points [-]

Many people get arrested for committing crimes not in the immediate proximity of police. While obviously we can complicate the advice to an arbitrarily with epicycles to deal with edge cases, I think simple advice is best. If you know enough to construct edge cases you don't need to ask questions like "how does one avoid getting arrested?" in the first place.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 March 2013 11:26:05AM 33 points [-]

Never post a web link that requires readers to click on it to find out if they want to click on it.

Comment author: sketerpot 28 March 2013 05:09:00AM 5 points [-]

On that note: middle-click (or Ctrl-click) on links while you're reading to open them in a background tab. Later, glance at the tab to find out if you want to have clicked on it. If the answer is "No, I don't really want to have clicked on that link," just close the tab.

(The downside is that this may lead to tab explosions on web sites like TV Tropes.)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 March 2013 11:07:00AM 15 points [-]

Never take gossip at face value.

When you eventually hear the other person's side, don't take that at face value either.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 March 2013 10:55:26AM 5 points [-]

Don't get involved with crazy people.

Comment author: MixedNuts 22 March 2013 11:01:49PM 2 points [-]

If you're crazy, prefer getting involved with crazy people and sane people who know how to deal with your kind of crazy to getting involved with well-meaning but naive sane people. And don't get involved with people who don't want to get involved with crazy people, even if you can fake long enough to fool them.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 March 2013 06:23:02PM *  0 points [-]

Crazy/sane in terms of literal psychiatric health, of rationality, or of conformism?

Comment author: MixedNuts 23 March 2013 08:22:05PM 0 points [-]

I meant the first, but I suppose it applies to the other two. I don't actually know which kind "Don't stick your dick in crazy" is meant to apply to.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 12 March 2013 01:26:30AM 15 points [-]

Don't get in a committed relationship with someone who is cheating on their current partner(s) to be with you.

(I learned this one from Tom Sawyer.)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 March 2013 10:51:02AM 12 points [-]

If what you are doing is not working, do something else.

Comment author: CharlesR 09 March 2013 12:42:04AM 3 points [-]

If you type a lot, buy a mechanical keyboard.

Comment author: PECOS-9 12 March 2013 02:01:41AM 3 points [-]

Also, buy one without a number pad so that you can put your mouse in a reasonable location. Normal keyboards are too wide.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 October 2013 04:03:40PM *  0 points [-]

Second this. Used to have huge Logitech keyboard. Couple of months ago bought Microsoft one, and absence of num pad is so good.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 08 March 2013 09:15:42PM *  49 points [-]

A major mental change that allowed me to own less things was someone mentioning "treat craigslist as free storage." The idea being that if you ever really need X you can get it fairly easily. But this extends to retail goods as well. I now keep in mind that everything that costs<(.1)(paycheck) is already mine and I only go pick it up if I really, actually, need it.

Comment author: Joshua_Blaine 06 June 2014 09:44:26PM 1 point [-]

This is a nice comment. It's a useful frame of reference and I especially like it because it jives well with the intuitions I've developed since I started studying Economics. And probably my identity as a Neat Person and someone who enjoys experiences over things.

Comment author: lsparrish 08 March 2013 08:30:59PM 25 points [-]

Watch your internal monologue for two patterns: Hero stories where you are in the process of solving problems, and victim stories where you are incapable of solving problems. Attempt to reinterpret victimization stories into as-yet-unresolved heroic stories.

Comment author: lsparrish 08 March 2013 08:25:30PM 15 points [-]

Identify emotionally draining people in your circles and spend less time with them. Alternative: Identify and fix major sources of emotionally draining interactions in people you like to spend time with.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 08 March 2013 06:53:30PM 15 points [-]

A few random tips:

Reminded by the conversation about phone alarm clocks - if you have trouble getting up in the morning, schedule two alarms, one thirty minutes prior to when you want to get up, and the second when you actually want to get up. Set an energy drink or large cup of coffee next to your phone/alarm. When the first alarm goes off, drink the coffee/energy drink, and go back to sleep.

Invest in an automatic soap dispenser for dish soap. http://www.amazon.com/simplehuman-Sensor-Sanitizer-Brushed-13-Ounce/dp/B003JTCAHK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362766673&sr=8-1&keywords=simplehuman+soap+dispenser is what I use; it's refillable, adjustable, and accepts just about anything. (I previously used one of those dispensers with proprietary refills; they were expensive, dispensed too much soap, and when I drilled a hole in the top to refill it, it refused to dispense soap, although that may have been some kind of error on my part.) Makes a small but noticeable difference in the pleasantness of doing dishes.

Invest in good tools, and keep them in good repair; if it's a one-off task, get it used, but get it good. Exceptions - tools which are more work to maintain than they save you (I'm looking at you, paintbrushes); tools which are expected to be destroyed by the work done with them (as the roto-rooter guy put it, in his line of business, all gloves are disposable); and tools you intend to misuse (flathead screwdrivers in my house are disposable tools that get destroyed frequently). If a job seems ridiculously hard - if it takes you two hours to drill a hole in a 2x4 - you're not using the right tools. Get the right tools, or borrow them. (On that note, it should be obvious, but treat borrowed tools with respect and return them promptly.)

Sometimes the right way to do things is the wrong way. I eventually gave up on the concrete saw while cutting out a new basement window and just started smashing things with a sledgehammer. It was easier to repair the excess damage with some new concrete than to do the job right to begin with.

If you have no idea what you're doing, hire somebody who is willing to work with you for a few hours. I'm 10x better at carpentry since I hired a carpenter. (And one of the important things I learned was one I never would have learned on my own - namely, that sometimes the correct solution is to just hammer things in until they fit.)

On a continuation of the previous two, everything really is a nail at some point. Be prepared to use the tools you have. It's not a bias to put the resources at your disposal to their fullest use; it's only a bias to fail to consider acquiring new resources when the situation demands it.

Don't spent $100 to save yourself $10. This should be obvious, but the number of times I've done something like spend an hour trying to save a $.10 plumbing part rather than just destroying it and replacing it...

When getting rid of things, don't consider how you feel about getting rid of it, consider how you feel about not having it anymore. If you don't expect to regret it, don't think so hard about it.

When cleaning house, prioritize getting rid of those things without practical utility first. Even duplicate tools serve a purpose.

If you're one of those people who buys things they intend to resell, first resell what you have. Otherwise you're not being a shrewd businessperson, you're just shopping.

Keep basic maintenance items on hand. Expand your definition of basic. If your kitchen drain falls apart after your hardware store closes, are you going to be able to cook dinner?

Buy a couple sealed 5 gallon jugs of water and store them. Even the least-disaster-prone city can still have broken water mains.

On a preparedness note, if you live anywhere prone to blizzards, keep a stock of medical supplies. Keep more gauze than you think you'd ever need; wound dressings need to be changed frequently. Keep a bottle of iodine on hand as well; a useful all-purpose disinfectant with a decent shelf life (5-10 years).

Invest in a good set of locking pliers/vise grip pliers. These are some of the most useful tools you can keep in your home, and a lot of people don't even know they exist.

Comment author: simplicio 11 March 2013 10:21:10PM 0 points [-]

I really love my daylight alarm clock. It costs about $150-200 but I feel it was worth it. YMMV.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 11 March 2013 02:58:57PM 1 point [-]

How is an automatic soap dispenser better for dish soap than a pump soap dispenser?

I agree that it's better to have soap in a container that you don't have to pick up and open every time you use it.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 11 March 2013 03:42:32PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure that it is, having never used a pump dispenser, but one-handed operation -could- be an advantage, depending on the dispenser in question

Comment author: TheOtherDave 08 March 2013 08:35:45PM 12 points [-]

if you have trouble getting up in the morning, schedule two alarms [...]

Also, experiment with going to sleep earlier.

Comment author: therufs 08 March 2013 05:27:42PM 3 points [-]

If you are having trouble finishing tasks on a task list, make a task schedule.

Comment author: therufs 08 March 2013 05:18:58PM 41 points [-]

If you are looking for employment, tell everyone you know. I have gotten 100% of my jobs from friends saying "hey, did you hear about this one".

Comment author: [deleted] 25 February 2015 11:16:20AM 0 points [-]

Interesting, I got only one that way, and that was a former coworker, not a friend. How are friends are supposed to do if I am good at working at an entirely different industry than they do which they don't understand? And how could they know of open jobs in mine?

Well, I figure this only applies for specialists.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 25 February 2015 12:54:41PM 0 points [-]

Well, I figure this only applies for specialists.

I think it more likely that it reflects different cultural backgrounds between you and therufs, both the local microculture around yourselves and the larger cultures of where you live. My picture of the archetypal LessWronger is a twenty-something in a place like Silicon Valley, working in computing, living with, working with, and mixing with the same sort of people both online and in meatspace, with no more than the fuzziest of lines separating "work" from "leisure" and "coworkers" from "friends": it's all LessWrong memespace. People from the former and current Russian-controlled states (and you seem to be describing that from personal experience) have a rather different milieu.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 February 2015 01:15:32PM 0 points [-]

My mental image of LW is New York. Not sure why. Perhaps because a lot of people have Jewish names. Yes, the aspect of AI topics sound more Valley. But LW is a bit too altruistic for what I thought of the Valley, I would imagine the Valley as kinda egotistical Libertarians, even Objectivists, and I would associate effective altruism, charitable giving, these kinds of ethics stuff with NY. I always thought NY is "nicer", more in the bleeding-heart kind of stuff, more typically liberal, more social conscious, while the Valley is more "I deserve privilege because I am smart" kind of stuff. And LW gives me these good-guy vibes definitely, not the me-first vibes.

I find it interesting how work and leisure is not separated. Importing leisure into work sounds like discussing work related things at parties, apparently it suggests being really enthusiastic for that work, it is not something done just for the money. Importing leisure to work, hm, it sounds like having a really trusting employer :)

BTW my life experience is mainly Europe, but all over it - post-Soviet, UK, "can't hear you over our No. 1 quality of living" type of stuff in Vienna in Austria, etc. etc. very varied. This kind of thing - doctors befriending engineers, having no idea what each other do - happened a lot of times.

Comment author: ChristianKl 25 February 2015 06:05:14PM 0 points [-]

I find it interesting how work and leisure is not separated. Importing leisure into work sounds like discussing work related things at parties, apparently it suggests being really enthusiastic for that work, it is not something done just for the money.

There's no good reason to pick work for which one isn't at least partly enthusiastic for skilled and smart people in Western society.

Even when nobody who was at our last LW meetup in Berlin works at the same company 5/7 people did talk about work in a way that influences their work in a meaningful way.

Importing leisure to work, hm, it sounds like having a really trusting employer :)

Building friendships with your coworkers is good for the employer.

BTW my life experience is mainly Europe, but all over it - post-Soviet, UK, "can't hear you over our No. 1 quality of living" type of stuff in Vienna in Austria, etc. etc. very varied. This kind of thing - doctors befriending engineers, having no idea what each other do - happened a lot of times.

Just because some of your friends do have other professions, doesn't mean all of them have.

Comment author: [deleted] 02 March 2015 08:25:08AM *  0 points [-]

There's no good reason to pick work for which one isn't at least partly enthusiastic for skilled and smart people in Western society.

I think there. Perhaps with multiple-generation middle-class Westerners who look forward to inherit wealth this is not the case. But first-generation ones, or multiple-generation ones who come from a poor or broken family it is the case. People may talk about the welfare state but in reality it only keeps you out of the direst poverty, but it does not even cover living in an average sized rented apartment. That is around €800 a month in Austria for example with utilities, and that is roughly how much the welfare is and then you have not eaten anything or bought a shoe. So if you don't look forward to any help from parents nor inheritance, you have a pressing need to find any work to pay bills and secure a basic comfortable exsitence. That is on the expense side.

And on the income side, it is basically so that if you go look at job ads on e.g. Monster, they tend to cluster in a certain kind of industries and jobs: I see lots of logistics and accounting but very few about historians or drawing comics books. Even in those industries, only a subset offers a straight line in the sense of get a degree, find a relevant job kind, often e.g. they are looking for salespeople where no degree assures you a job, it is mostly life experience you gather anyhow.

Thus, for most of the decent, not burger flipping jobs, you don't have this straight line. The logistics or accountant expert can just get a degree and apply for job ads, but the salesperson cannot and the historian cannot and the comics drawer cannot. They need to rely on their social skills, networking, which only works for extroverts or people who generally like people and so on. The whole thing is not sure, not secure, not "promised", and maybe it works out in the long run, but does not necessarily make you meet the next bill. So basically people who can rely on parental support can pursue these fun careers because they can afford to spend years on building their network and diggin themselves into their niche industry.

This is why introverts / misanthropes, people who hate the idea of networking with other people, or people who cannot afford due to the lack of parental support the time to dig slowly into a niche industry, need to focus on the surer if boring and less satisfying paths to make a living.

(Note: this is not that being introvert equals being misanthrope. Of course it doesn't. Rather it is my own experience, I wondered for a long time if I am an introvert or just shy, and realized I plain simply do not like people. I am not shy about telling bothersome folks to fuck off, and encounters that do not require me to show interest in the other person do not drain my energies. This is why I do most of my communication outside my family online on forums like this, this way I can focus on the only thing that interests me in other people: their thoughts and knowledge.)

Building friendships with your coworkers is good for the employer.

In a high-trust environment only! Some kings in very old times made sure to recruit their bodyguards from feuding clans, in order to make sure they will not conspire to assassinate him. In low-trust environ, an employment does not want employees who are friends, to the contrary! They should be rivals, so that when one conspires to fuck the employer over, the other rats him out. Recently an IKEA worker told me warehouse guys stole two whole kitchens, a damage of around €30K. This requires cooperation. IKEA is better off with warehouse guys who dislike each other, just do what they are told individually, and rat the thieves out. They don't need to brainstorm together, don't need to cooperate, no team work, it is more like the boss says load 40 cartons of 902.12.15 into A45 and then just they do it.

Because there is more to Western civ than Silicon Valley and its creative brainwork.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 March 2015 12:29:10AM 0 points [-]

I made a point of speaking about smart and skillful people. Of course there are unskilled people for whom it's difficult to find meaningful work.

They need to rely on their social skills, networking, which only works for extroverts or people who generally like people and so on.

Of course the salesperson needs social skills, that's what being a sales person is about. If you don't enjoy social interaction then pick another job.

The logistics or accountant expert can just get a degree and apply for job ads, but the salesperson cannot and the historian cannot and the comics drawer cannot.

Neither Dilbert nor Randal needed anybody to give him a job. Those are the comics that I actually read and both of those people make money from their work.

Of course they both have skills that they didn't develop through a degree, but I don't think that's a problem.

IKEA is better off with warehouse guys who dislike each other, just do what they are told individually

Warehouse guys don't have cool jobs, but having a motivated workforce is useful in most circumstances and relationships facilitate it.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 March 2015 09:15:14AM 0 points [-]

Somehow we are misunderstanding each other. Let's take Dilbert. It is a skill developed outside college, but without anything like a clear job and career promise. Relying on only this IMHO takes a lot of courage. Having a Plan B, like draw comics but also learn to be an accountant, is probably what they did unless they are very brave. In this case, the question is do people have passions or interests that are monetizable, for comics drawing probably does not come as a career choice, but more of a hobby as first.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 March 2015 12:19:41PM 0 points [-]

I don't buy the premise that a "clear job and career" promise is needed for anything.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 March 2015 12:22:17PM *  0 points [-]

Needed for feeling safe. Needed for not needing courage. Needed for not feeling existential angst, insecurity or anything like tht. Needed against the nagging feeling "will anyone ever really pay for this bullshit I am doing here?"

One thing I did not mention that if your parents instilled a no pain no gain mentality into you, then you feel like if you are enjoying yourself and doing something you like, you are not gaining anything, you are using up capital, wasting time and you feel you cannot possibly get paid for it in the long run.

Comment author: Vaniver 25 February 2015 02:04:24PM 0 points [-]

I always thought NY is "nicer", more in the bleeding-heart kind of stuff, more typically liberal, more social conscious, while the Valley is more "I deserve privilege because I am smart" kind of stuff.

Hmm. As an American, my view of the two is flipped, but both are in the reference class of "elitist cities that lean heavily liberal and have a strong cultural class."

Comment author: taryneast 05 September 2014 05:28:50AM *  4 points [-]

This includes posting "I'm looking for a job" publically on your facebook page, on linkedin and any other social-networking you may have. Use the magic of the internets to reach out to as many friends-of-friends that you can.

note: don't do this (or only post to friends) if your current employer does not know you are looking elsewhere...

Comment author: Benquo 01 May 2014 07:46:07PM *  1 point [-]

Related: When looking for a job that is different from whatever you're doing now, go on informational interviews. Come up with a list of specific things you are curious about, related to the field - intensity of work, skills used, related jobs, terminology that's unclear to you, advancement opportunities - and ask those questions during the interview.

The point is not to get a job from the person you're talking to, but to search many nodes of your social network. If you decide you do want to work in their field, you should ask, "Whom do you know, who's hiring?" And always, always ask, "whom else do you know that I should talk to?"

Comment author: therufs 01 May 2014 09:49:40PM 1 point [-]

It took me a long time to believe people actually liked to talk about their jobs/companies and were quite happy to refer me to other contacts, but it seems to be true.

Comment author: simplicio 11 March 2013 10:23:06PM 1 point [-]

Yes, this. Even with a good resume you might cold e-mail hundreds of companies and never get a bite. Knowing somebody almost always gets you to interview stage.

Comment author: therufs 17 March 2014 09:00:00PM *  0 points [-]

Extremely belated reply, but for what it may be worth, I didn't actually have contacts at some of the jobs, just friends keeping tabs on some outlets I didn't (for example, neighborhood listserves I wasn't subscribed to, printed postings at businesses I didn't frequent.)

Comment author: tgb 08 March 2013 04:46:52PM 19 points [-]

Get some decent winter clothes if you live in a climate where this is necessary. I can't tell you how many people I know at my college that have been going here for four years, complain about the weather, and don't own anything more than a sweatshirt to keep them warm. If it's windy, a raincoat can go over a fleece-style under layer and makes a huge difference. If it rains or snows, get some boots and maybe some wool socks. A hat and some gloves work wonders, too. Glove liners work nicely as light-weight gloves that can keep your hands warm when either driving or walking places but will get wet quickly if you put your hands in snow. There's no reason to be uncomfortably cold.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 March 2013 02:04:34PM *  5 points [-]

Conversely, sometimes people wear dark-coloured, tight-fitting, full-length clothes and then complain about the heat. I understand why in certain situation someone might not want to wear tank tops or shorts, especially if they (think they) are not very conventionally-attractive, but lighter colours, looser-fitting clothes would still help.

Combining the two, I've meet at least one person who would dress more or less the same way in January and July and complain both about the cold and about the heat.


EDIT: I meant “I understand” in a descriptive way (‘I think I know what's going on in their minds’), not in a normative way (‘ugly people had better please cover their bodies’). Body policing is evil and I'd rather not do that.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 08 March 2013 09:32:07PM 1 point [-]

Look for the clothes somebody who has to work in the absolute worst of that weather buys.

Oilcloth dusters and hats are versatile all-weather gear, and available in tractor supply type stores. Australian cuts are the best I've encountered; since they're designed for airflow, they're appropriate for hot weather, and can be mixed with more typical winter underlayers to provide all-year protection.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 08 March 2013 09:08:24PM 17 points [-]

Long johns seem to be something that a lot of people who didn't grow up in the snow never think of. Standing around in freezing weather being cozy is awesome.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 March 2013 04:06:32PM *  9 points [-]

Avoid weird people.

(Negation of #1 geek social fallacy.)

Of course this advice works only with some definitions of "weird", and I don't want to make it too long, but I feel it is very useful. The point is not to avoid anyone who is off-center in any Gauss curve, but to avoid specifically people who impose a huge cost on you and on people who associate with you, usually because of their serious lack of some social skill. Certainly, nobody is perfect, but don't commit the fallacy of grey.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 12 March 2013 01:22:36PM 6 points [-]

Everyone head for the exits.

This site is full of weirdos by prevailing societal conventions.

I'd say instead to advertise what kind of person you are, so that you attract and repel the right kind of people.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 11 March 2013 12:22:39AM *  12 points [-]

"Weird" is too general here.

The advice on "Five Geek Social Fallacies" has to do with dealing with people who are not weird but rather unpleasant. The examples used are of people who are obnoxious, offensive, smell bad due to poor hygiene, or hassle newcomers. These have to do with behaviors (or lack of care) that are not distinguished by their eccentricity but by causing harm and aversion to others.

So, for the boring advice:

Distinguish harmless eccentricity from harmful eccentricity. You may travel in weird social circles, wherein you recognize that being weird doesn't make someone bad ... but just because someone is weird does not mean that they are nice, either.

(Weird social circles may also choose to exclude some behavior that is harmful but not weird. For instance, there is nothing weird about making jokes that hinge on gender stereotypes (e.g. "women are bad drivers" or "men are buffoons"); these are quite common and ordinary, found in mainstream sitcoms, stand-up comedy, and so on. But a weird social circle that cares about being welcoming to gender-nonconformists may want to say that gender stereotyping is not acceptable.)

Comment author: TheOtherDave 08 March 2013 05:41:23PM 2 points [-]

I think I would only endorse this if it sorted under "Don't avoid otherwise-valuable people just because they are weird."

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 10 March 2013 12:52:46PM 0 points [-]

OK, second attempt:

Always remember that a company of weird people costs you your social capital. Make an estimate of costs and benefits. Multiply the costs by 10 to compensate for bias. Check again whether the benefits are real or imaginary, or could be obtained cheaper otherwise.

Note: The number 10 probably feels to big. For most weird people, the correct multiplier would be 2 or 3. But a few of them are black swans.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 March 2013 01:20:27PM 1 point [-]

Always remember that a company of weird people costs you your social capital.

Not if the people in my social circle are themselves weird.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 10 March 2013 10:37:18PM 4 points [-]

I agree with "Don't neglect the costs of weirdness."

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 08 March 2013 12:18:20PM *  19 points [-]

Be helpful. I have built a significant network of useful people, and in many cases the relationship started from from me offering to do small favors - as small as helping put away chairs after a lecture - and striking up a conversation.

Addendum: while on occasion I use this technique consciously, there is some concern about seeming transparent (still don't let this stop you, especially with unique opportunities at stake). Best reward yourself for being a helpful guy/gal, make it part of your self image. As your status grows it will be quite natural to offer help to important people (I once got the nerve to offer help to a very rich mayor of a major US city, as I had something to offer. Nothing came of it, but still).

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 08 March 2013 12:13:04PM 17 points [-]

If you spend a lot of time frustratedly explaining to people why you don't do some common social activity, consider giving in and just doing it.

There have been a few discussions on Less Wrong about how to explain to people why you don't drink. I eventually got so frustrated at having to verbally offset the mistrust I received through not drinking, I just went ahead and started drinking. It obviously depends on your social situation, but for me this amounts to maybe four glasses of wine a month, which is a ridiculously good trade-off.

Comment author: Emily 10 March 2013 02:41:32PM 12 points [-]

Can you find nicer friends? No one has ever been weird about the fact that I don't really drink. (If anyone tried to be weird about it, I think I would claim there was alcoholism in my family - there's not, as far as I know. And not be friends with them.)

Comment author: JDM 23 May 2013 09:11:47PM *  2 points [-]

Without outright asking or commenting, people can still subconsciously judge, especially in certain situations or social groups.

For example, I am the president of my chapter of my fraternity. Some people interested don't drink. While for the most part people look past the not drinking, there are some activities or events where drinking is common. We have had some non-drinkers still enjoy themselves, but some have been scared away as a result of said activities.

I think an equal precursor to the idea of being judged for not drinking is how you handle being around others who are. If you can still enjoy yourself without the alcohol, in a lot of cases being judged for it is in your imagination. If you sit there awkwardly in the corner sober while everyone else is having a good time, the judgement is very real. It's just not entirely for the reason you think.

Comment author: Emily 29 May 2013 08:27:42AM 0 points [-]

If you sit there awkwardly in the corner sober while everyone else is having a good time, the judgement is very real. It's just not entirely for the reason you think.

Yeah, not surprising. That doesn't sound like it adds fun for anyone. (I have been in that situation a few times, but never by choice.)

Comment author: JDM 01 June 2013 03:08:12AM 0 points [-]

I wasn't the most social person when I started hanging out with the fraternity I ended up joining, so I did some of that at first, even when I did drink. It took some time to get out of my shell a little. I have since improved with that, indicated by the fact that I was voted to be president, with the main job of being the "face" of the house. I do my best to help people who are in that role become more involved, whether they choose to drink or not, because I was in a similar role my first year. Some people, and it does generally seem to be the non-drinkers, resist that, and they mostly end up not coming back. Drinking is far from all we do, but it's one of the ways we relax and get to know people, so people not being social to at least some extent do end up treated differently.

My recommendation if you don't drink and go to social situations where people do is to simply have a good time. Be social, smile, feel free to be a little animated, and you'll be alright. There are plenty of nights where people drink where I choose not to (often because I'm broke), and while some nights I will have alcohol handed to me because I don't have a cup in my hand, for the most part people don't know if I'm drinking or not. (Unless I do a 12 foot beer bong of wine. Then they can tell.) If you don't make things awkward, most people won't either, and the ones who do will be handled by others.

Comment author: Emily 03 June 2013 09:15:22PM 0 points [-]

Sure, that's my usual approach. Times when it hasn't gone like that have been times when I have very much not wanted to be wherever I was and for one reason or another been unable to escape. I think such a situation is more noticeable to others (and to the one experiencing it, perhaps...) when the person in question is sober than drunk!

Comment author: bbleeker 09 March 2013 08:01:25PM 1 point [-]

Mistrust? Why would people mistrust you if you don't drink?

Comment author: [deleted] 11 March 2013 01:31:39PM *  6 points [-]

I can't speak for everybody, but I think this is the reason why I tend to dislike non-drinkers.

Comment author: bbleeker 11 March 2013 06:39:46PM 1 point [-]

Huh, you got a downvote for that? That wasn't me!

I probably should drink less myself, and I tend to think of non-drinkers as "sensible people who didn't like the taste of alcohol when they were teenagers and didn't give in to social pressure" (like my mother, my sister and my husband).

Comment author: DanArmak 11 March 2013 10:35:10AM 15 points [-]

It's a refusal to participate in ritualized social bonding, and that signals you aren't willing to relax around other people and don't consider them to be part of your social in-group. If you're not drinking, that may also mean you get to keep your guard up while everyone else is saying and doing silly or even forbidden things.

I can't drink because of my medications, and I always get teased about it. "Come on, just one shot is fine..."

Comment author: buybuydandavis 12 March 2013 12:59:11PM 1 point [-]

Or it signals that you are comfortable asserting your own values in contradiction to a group. That's a very positive signal to me, but probably generally negative.

Comment author: BlazeOrangeDeer 14 March 2013 05:18:25AM 3 points [-]

Or maybe they think that your non-drinking is not a value of yours, but a value of another group that you are choosing over theirs.

Comment author: bbleeker 11 March 2013 07:04:31PM 0 points [-]

Interesting. I knew people think that way in Japan (I was thinking about asking sixesandsevens if they were Japanese), but there, people don't mind if you actually do silly/forbidden things when you're drunk (or so I've heard).

Comment author: OrphanWilde 08 March 2013 03:49:36PM 9 points [-]

After putting polyurethane on the floor of a house, I had an -excellent- reason which few people questioned: After polyurethaning the floor, alchohol started tasting like polyurethane smelled. (To this day it still hasn't faded completely. I stopped drinking entirely for a long time there, and still can't do straight whiskey shots, which was my old standard. Went from tasting pretty good to... awful.) Takes about thirty seconds to explain, and most people accept it just based on the weirdness of the reason.

Comment author: jooyous 08 March 2013 06:41:08AM *  15 points [-]

Map things:

  • Sanity check when you're using a maps-enabled device to get around. It might not be showing you the correct thing. Also, it might be showing you the correct thing, but you might be reading it wrong. (Well maybe not you, but definitely me.)
  • If you've moved to a new area, avoid using map services to get around and work on your own internal brain-map. You don't want to live somewhere for a year and be helpless without your phone.
Comment author: [deleted] 23 March 2013 12:49:26AM 0 points [-]

If you've moved to a new area, avoid using map services to get around and work on your own internal brain-map. You don't want to live somewhere for a year and be helpless without your phone.

Actually, I found that using sat navigators for a while improved my sense of direction rather than worsening it, so that, even when I'm not using a navigator, I'm way better now than I used to be before I owned a phone with a navigator.

Comment author: jooyous 23 March 2013 02:23:05AM *  1 point [-]

Really, as you're walking/driving? That's really interesting! I noticed whenever I start hearing directions, my brain shuts off and starts taking directions. Even if I know where I'm going! Which is pretty frustrating when I have a passenger who starts describing what I know to be the wrong way to go.

Comment author: Nornagest 03 September 2014 08:53:24PM *  0 points [-]

I use navigation services quite often (as much for traffic mitigation and ETA as for directions), but I never use voice guidance, even on long, unfamiliar trips. I think that offers the best of both worlds: you're never going to get seriously lost, but you still need to check your surroundings against the map frequently, which builds a mental map.

This may not be reliable if you're bad at multitasking or aren't very visual, though.

Comment author: MixedNuts 22 March 2013 10:46:21PM 3 points [-]

If you've moved to a new area, avoid using map services to get around and work on your own internal brain-map. You don't want to live somewhere for a year and be helpless without your phone.

If you're terrible at brain maps, learn a bunch of routes. If you're terrible at that too, carry paper maps.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 08 March 2013 11:24:40AM *  5 points [-]

Related: buy a small and reliable compass. Not a compass app for your phone, but an actual compass. GPS, your own spatial awareness, and reasonable assumptions about geography can all let you down, but north is always north.

Edit: I will now ruin the punchiness of this comment with an explanatory edit. I do a lot of walking around a large city. Google Maps is fairly reliable but leaves much to be desired. Establishing GPS location, battery consumption and occasional out-and-out wrongness are common bugbears, so I started trying to navigate without it.

The biggest problem I found was orienting myself. Surfacing from a subway stop only to have no idea which direction was which, I'd sometimes fall back to GPS just to check what direction I was facing (which Google Maps is really bad at anyway. Anyone who's ever done that "let's walk ten metres in this direction to see what way I'm pointing" thing will know what I mean. I played around with some compass apps, which are just as much of a pain as Google Maps. Eventually I just gave in and bought a compass.

Comment author: nonplussed 10 April 2013 11:32:41PM 0 points [-]

Surprised no ones mentioned this, but what's wrong with a phone compass app? They don't use GPS, they are actually measuring the local magnetic field, and they don't delay whilst 'getting a lock' or anything. And it's not like they use much battery power.

Agree that a compass is superior to GPS for orientation, but I'm not seeing why it can't be an app.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 11 April 2013 11:56:33PM 1 point [-]

1) I don't trust the reliability of any of the compass apps I've tried. There's enough variance on them to make me doubt what they're telling me.

2) I generally want to be looking at Google Maps on my phone when I'm trying to orient myself.

Comment author: handoflixue 08 March 2013 11:18:02PM 0 points [-]

north is always north.

Most areas of most cities have fairly intuitive street layouts, if you learn them. If I'm in Northeast Portland, and I am on a numbered street, then I am either heading east (number gets bigger) or west (number gets smaller). If it is a named street, then I am either heading north (number gets bigger), or south (number gets smaller).

Most named streets do have numbers, but you can also go off the building numbers.

I don't know why it took me 25 years to really accept this, since I grew up being told about this, but most cities genuinely DO use a coordinate system, and learning it makes that sort of thing trivial :)

Comment author: Larks 09 March 2013 12:39:57PM *  6 points [-]

Most areas of most cities have fairly intuitive street layouts, if you learn them.

... in the US.

In Europe, they're intuitive only if you were born there or know a lot of history. (Of course South Parade is further north than North Parade!)

Comment author: handoflixue 11 March 2013 06:19:15PM 1 point [-]

Fair, and thank you for calling me on it.

I get the impression that a majority of LessWrong readers are in major US cities, so I'm leaving it up as useful to them :)

Comment author: jooyous 08 March 2013 07:31:25PM *  0 points [-]

The biggest problem I found was orienting myself.

Yep, same here! One time I had a bus route displaying on my phone but I was facing the wrong way, so I got on the bus going the other way and didn't realize until the route ended in a sketchy area at 9 pm. I don't think I necessarily need a compass because I usually can orient myself if I stop and think, I'm just bad at it and don't like doing it for some reason, so I try to avoid it and don't ever get better.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 08 March 2013 10:06:53PM 1 point [-]

I tend to find myself explicitly thinking "right...which way is north?", then beginning an elaborate round of detective work to figure out the answer. Being able to check my orientation as easily as checking the time is glorious.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 March 2013 02:01:34PM 2 points [-]

Being able to check my orientation as easily as checking the time

Ironically enough, over the weekend I was searching for a more systematic way of using the sun to tell direction (besides moves east to west, and is in the south at midday (northern hemisphere)) and found this - Wikipedia: how to find north using an analog watch

Comment author: wedrifid 08 March 2013 11:43:03AM *  7 points [-]

Related: buy a small and reliable compass. Not a compass app for your phone, but an actual compass. GPS, your own spatial awareness, and reasonable assumptions about geography can all let you down, but north is always north.

Almost equivalent: Buy a lightweight and reliable spear. Not a speargun or an effective modern weapon, but an actual pointy stick. Guns, the rule of law, supermarkets and the reasonable assumptions that your geographic location contains no dangerous predators can all let you down. But a pointy stick is always a pointy stick.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 08 March 2013 12:26:47PM 3 points [-]

This is an unfair comparison, especially in light of the explanation given in the edit.

OP's point was that GPS can frequently be unreliable. In terms of navigating without it, basic orientation is typically enough to get you started, and "smart" substitutes for a compass are strictly inferior to an actual compass.

Comment author: handoflixue 08 March 2013 11:22:00PM 4 points [-]

"smart" substitutes for a compass are strictly inferior to an actual compass.

I know my city layout, so I always know where North is. It might require walking (gasp!) as much as a block, but even that is ridiculously rare. Trust me, this is superior to a compass.

The big problem with a compass is that it is Yet Another Thing I Must Remember To Carry. If I use it regularly, forgetting it will probably suck since I don't have a backup. If I use it infrequently, why bother with the hassle of one more thing cluttering my purse? And what makes you think I'll remember to pack it on the days I do end up needing it?

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 09 March 2013 10:02:55AM 2 points [-]

If you don't frequently experience navigational problems, clearly a compass is not a sensible investment.

I have to say, I've made questionable suggestions on LW in the past, but the tone of the responses to this one has been baffling.

Comment author: gwillen 25 July 2013 03:16:01AM 2 points [-]

People pattern-matched it to a curmudgeonly and irrational dislike for modern technology, because they have never tried actually using the magnetic sensor in a smartphone as a compass, so they aren't aware of just how unreliable those sensors are.

Comment author: handoflixue 11 March 2013 06:12:13PM 0 points [-]

Apologies if my tone was overly critical or hostile. It was a cool suggestion, and I'm glad I heard it. I just don't think it's a practical suggestion for most people, given the other alternatives out there these days :)

Comment author: wedrifid 08 March 2013 12:31:49PM *  4 points [-]

especially in light of the explanation given in the edit.

The edit does indeed change things. If I was replying to the edited version rather than replying to the original version I would reply differently. But judging a reply because it does not apply to what is now a completely different comment is an error that I strongly discourage.

Almost all of the value of the advice comes from the two additional paragraphs. Even then I suggest it somewhat exaggerates the relative value of carrying a magnet. This distracts from the probably overall more valuable advice of doing an additional 15 minutes research when purchasing a GPS device in order to maximise reliability.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 08 March 2013 12:36:22PM 0 points [-]

The edit came hot on the heels of the original comment. Based on comment timestamps it seemed likely that you'd read it.

Comment author: wedrifid 08 March 2013 01:01:06PM *  11 points [-]

The edit came hot on the heels of the original comment. Based on comment timestamps it seemed likely that you'd read it.

Welcome to the joys of race conditions. Even when you click the edit button the instant after you comment, for all the time spent writing the additional paragraphs anyone who loads the recent comments page sees the original. Then, for all the time they spent replying to your comment---and sometimes even replying to other recent comments on the same page load---they are not notified of any changes to your comment. So if either the edit takes a long time or the reply takes time, synchronization errors will frequently occur.

I sometimes realize that a comment of mine needs elaboration, or perhaps needs to be tempered somewhat with substantial argument rather than mere dismissal. In those cases where I expect the difference between the edit and the original to matter I often use a work around. I copy the text of the original then delete it. I then write the new 'edited' version and submit it as a fresh comment. (Corollary: If I fail to take such precautions I blame only myself!)

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 08 March 2013 06:37:58AM 21 points [-]

Tips on giving a speech or presentation:

  • Practice your presentation several times out loud (if possible).
  • The first thing you should talk about after introducing yourself and your topic is why the audience should even care about your topic (and don't assume it's obvious).
  • If using a hand-held microphone, hold the microphone near your mouth, not in front of your chest.
  • If you're using a computer for slides or a demo, set it up ahead of time if possible.
Comment author: buybuydandavis 12 March 2013 01:13:11PM 5 points [-]

The first thing you should talk about after introducing yourself and your topic is why the audience should even care about your topic (and don't assume it's obvious).

This applies to posts as well. If you've got a long one, start by giving the reader a clear idea of where you're going and what his payoff will be. Motivate the reader.

Comment author: therufs 08 March 2013 05:21:52PM 0 points [-]

If you are nervous about a presentation or performance, practice while standing on top of your bed. In a pinch, a picnic table or playground equipment will also do.

Comment author: therufs 08 March 2013 05:29:24PM 6 points [-]

If you are going to try to stand on a picnic table, check to see how and whether the top is attached to the base.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 March 2013 10:16:41AM *  13 points [-]

If you're using a computer for slides or a demo, set it up ahead of time if possible.

This. In my experience at least 50% of computer presentations started at least 15 minutes late because of some technical problems. But people always believe that the computers are the same everywhere, therefore nothing could go wrong. (Then they turn on the projector and see only a blue screen. Or the light bulb is burned out. Or a remote control is missing; or a cable. Or the presentation is in PDF and the computer can only run Powerpoint, or the other way round. Or it's a different version of Powerpoint. Or the computer does not recognize the memory stick in the USB port. Or, most importantly, something else.)

Comment author: [deleted] 09 March 2013 10:23:15AM 1 point [-]

Or the presentation is in PDF and the computer can only run Powerpoint

Seriously??? I always save my presentations as PDF in order to be sure that they'll run on whichever computer I'll use -- is that not a reasonable assumption?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 10 March 2013 12:41:16PM 3 points [-]

Depends on how reasonable and computer-literate is the person who prepares the computer. I guess this improves over time; most of my data are like 10 years old. (I met people who didn't know that Internet is not the same thing as Explorer, or that companies other than Microsoft make software too.)

Probably the risk is lower if a person prepares the computer for presentations of many different people; and higher if it is usually for the same three or four people from the same organization. Lower if the organization is computer-related (university teaching computer science, IT company) and higher otherwise.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 08 March 2013 06:12:29AM *  34 points [-]

Obtain a smartphone. It will make your life better. (If you don't have one because you feel like they're overhyped, remember that reversed stupidity is not intelligence.) Here is a list of things I use my smartphone to do, in no particular order:

  • Record things I want my future selves to do in RTM on the go
  • Record sleep data using Sleep Cycle
  • Take notes on conversations using either voice memos or Evernote
  • Record various kinds of things in Workflowy, e.g. exercise data
  • Respond more quickly to emails (people I know have debated the value of doing this, but I get really annoyed when other people take a long time to respond to my emails and don't want to do that)
  • Receive calendar alerts, alarms, and Boomerangs from my past selves that remind me to do things
  • Look things up, e.g. on Wikipedia, on the go (e.g. when I am waiting in line for something)
  • Read academic papers on the go
  • Search my email for important information on the go, e.g. the location of some event or an ID number of some kind
  • Look up directions on the go, e.g. to the location of some event
  • Look up places on Yelp on the go
  • Look up prices and reviews of an item I'm considering buying IRL on Amazon

There is a possibility of wasting large amounts of time playing games which I curtailed early on by refusing to download games except during breaks from school.

Comment author: taelor 13 March 2013 07:56:02AM 8 points [-]

Look things up, e.g. on Wikipedia, on the go (e.g. when I am waiting in line for something)

Upvoted for this. I think possibly the single biggest impact of the existence of smartphones is that in a world where its possible to carry device cappable of accessing Wikipedia in your pocket means that no one ever has an excuse for being ignorant of basic facts about any subject that they had a reasonable amount of time to prepare for.

Another thing: I've found that listening to podcasts while doing mindless, repetative tasks (mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, cleaning) makes the process much, much more enjoyable.

Comment author: therufs 08 March 2013 04:37:08PM 8 points [-]

My main objection to smartphone use is that by putting anything you want to pay attention to at your fingertips, it can introduce a certain distance from what is actually going on. I would not advocate, say, spending your 4 hours at the DMV observing your surroundings (that would be a waste of time). But I am concerned that time spent with portable Internet corresponds to ever thicker-walled and less-apparent echo chambers. Is this an issue you have thoughts on?

By way of example, I'm trying to think about the difference between reading a novel on the subway and reading the internets on the subway; the main distinction is that when I'm reading the novel, I'm aware that I'm not actually paying attention to my surroundings.

Comment author: handoflixue 08 March 2013 11:34:24PM 3 points [-]

If I'm interacting with people, I treat it as rude to pull out my phone without asking.

If I'm already not-interacting-with-people, I don't see why it would be any worse than a book. So many other people have smart phones that "socialize while waiting" is dying off regardless of what I do, and a book generally kept people from trying to strike up a conversation anyway.

As to the "not aware I'm not aware"... I've always felt equally towards books and smart phones. Possibly a bit more aware with my smart phone, actually, since dropping it or having it stolen is a much bigger deal.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 08 March 2013 06:25:43PM 2 points [-]

it can introduce a certain distance from what is actually going on.

This is probably true, but I think this is a small negative and is outweighed by the large positives. If you decide you want to pay more attention to your surroundings with a smartphone, you can add an RTM item or use calendar alerts to remind yourself to do that periodically.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 22 March 2013 08:22:52PM 2 points [-]

Indeed, one of the ways in which owning a smartphone has improved my life is by reminding me to do things which I need to do regularly in order to change a trait or habit. For instance, I used to have bad posture, which I corrected after setting A HIT interval timer to vibrate every 10 minutes, and interpreting these vibrations as reminders to improve the way I was standing or sitting.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 08 March 2013 05:40:05PM 1 point [-]

I infer that when you read the internets, you aren't aware that you aren't paying attention to surroundings.
I have trouble understanding why that is.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 08 March 2013 03:57:28PM 1 point [-]

The only feature I regularly use on my phone is the alarms. They're absurdly useful. Advanced alarm functionality alone is worth the price of admission.

Comment author: tgb 08 March 2013 04:41:57PM 3 points [-]

What exactly is 'advanced alarm functionality' and how do you recommend using it?

Comment author: OrphanWilde 08 March 2013 06:14:15PM 2 points [-]

I'd hesitate to pin it down to any particular feature set, but the following two features have been very useful to me:

Date-based alarm scheduling - I don't want a feature-heavy calendar application running on my phone, so this has been useful.

Custom text for alarms - Useful for gym reminders; I can plan exercises for each day in advance, rather than deciding what to do in advance. (Again, I stay away from feature-heavy applications. I like lightweight.)

Day-based alarms, and multiple alarms, while trivial features on most smartphone alarm apps, are in fact quite useful, and weren't present in my pre-smartphone phones. I have two alarms set for waking up, for example; the first tells me to down an energy drink (Xenadrine drink mix, supposedly for dieting but my favorite energy drink, or Redline energy drinks, are both awesome for this) or extra-large cup of coffee. Thirty minutes later, when the second alarm wakes me up, I wake up easily and without grogginess. (Alternatively, you can use an alarm application that wakes you up in the ideal part of your sleep cycle. That's a bit... feature-rich for me, however.)

Comment author: handoflixue 08 March 2013 11:35:35PM 0 points [-]

How do you have a cup of coffee ready to go before you wake up? I'd think it would be cold and unpleasant...