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May Monthly Bragging Thread

9 Post author: philh 04 May 2014 08:21AM

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining the most awesome thing you've done this month. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself the coolest freaking person ever because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.

Remember, however, that this isn't any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread. This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on". Have already done. This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.

So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?

(I think this is the most recent thread, so anything since January is fair game, assuming you haven't already mentioned it.)

Comments (28)

Comment author: seez 04 May 2014 09:03:43PM 25 points [-]

I got the two top scientists in my field to both agree to be my advisers. One of them, not an effusively friendly person, said my research proposal was extremely interesting, new, and important. I cried a little, but luckily I don't think he saw.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 05 May 2014 01:16:54PM 6 points [-]

Could you tell about your research proposal? What was the key reason you got those great advisers? The quality of your proposal alone may not have been wnough.

Comment author: seez 05 May 2014 10:51:34PM 15 points [-]

Getting my first adviser, Professor C, was a nightmare that made me miserable for a month. I really wanted him as my adviser because I think he is one of the only good scientists in my field and my department. I also had long-term plans to ask him to advise my later degree. I met with him once, and showed him a vague, decent research proposal. I focused more on being charming than on the research, because this had been working well for me with the other professors I knew. Unfortunately (and fortunately!) C is more focused on the science. He told me he would think about it, then email me back in a week. He never emailed me. I emailed him. He didn't respond. I emailed him. He didn't respond. I despaired, decided I had ruined my career and destroyed my chances of succeeding in the field I love by making him dislike me and now having no advisor, and emailed him again. He didn't respond. After six weeks of this I told a different professor what had happened, who told my C ignores most emails, even from other professors, and it's really hard to interpret his lack of response. He recommended that I just show up at his office and try to talk to him again. I worked desperately hard, trying to create a proposal so good it would redeem my earlier failure and weird stalking in C's eyes. I became completely obsessed, didn't sleep, read every paper in my entire subfield, thought and talked it over for a week, thought of five original questions, of which three were "important," wrote the proposal with every important point underlined and put in bold, and finally put on my most professional blazer and went to C's office. When I found him and showed him my proposal, I was literally shaking. He agreed to be my adviser right away. He seemed kind of confused about the whole thing, and said he just forgot to answer my emails. Sigh.

I got the second adviser because I got the first one. He emailed his colleague Professor K recommending that K meet with me. Otherwise I would not have stood a chance of catching K's attention, since he does not take early-stage students and does not teach at my school. I wanted a paying position as a research assistant in K's lab, in addition to him being one of my official advisors, but K was expressing ambivalence about the idea. I basically wrote an extended research proposal/contract, stating exactly what I wanted to do, how I was going to do it, what I expected of him, and what I wanted in return. He agreed, and said he deeply admired my audacity, and that my display of confidence made him feel more confident about my ability, and that I was the sort of intense and serious person he wanted in his lab. This is one of the academically boldest things I have ever done, but I had a strong sense that he would appreciate that sort of behavior.

I write all this because I'm not really sure what made the difference. I certainly acted bolder than I usually do, and I've noticed that most of the good things I do follow bursts of very intense misery and feelings of insecurity that I channel into desperately hard work. I'm never surprised when I do well, though; the insecurity is this sort of instrumental self-imposed drama I use. I wish I could work desperately hard without such a seemingly mentally unhealthy process, but so far I haven't found any better personal motivators than my intense fear, even dread, of failure and the desire to protect my sense of my own identity as a smart, successful person.

Comment author: someonewrongonthenet 19 May 2014 03:12:00PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you, this is helpful information, and reinforces my notion that for reasons I can't figure out, emails are never useful for communicating anything other than practical matters with superiors.

Was this your first time having a boss? / generally being in a position where a stranger was in a position of formal power in this way? The first time I had a boss I kept getting this impression that he thought I wasn't doing enough...but then I realized that he actually thought I was pretty great and that people in dominant positions are often sort of aloof and curt towards those underneath them, and this is behavior is more-or-less independent of how much they like you.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a selection effect (where people who succeed in making minions a bit nervous, intentionally or not, get harder-working minions and therefore climb ranks faster)

Comment author: seez 20 May 2014 08:16:47AM 0 points [-]

It wasn't my first time, but it was my first time having to work that hard for someone's attention professionally. He not only had power, he also had incentives not to take me on (not enough time, high-risk low-reward, sets a precedent of accepting younger students, etc.). Dr. C has definitely become friendlier to me recently, although I still find him harder to charm than most of the people I work with. I think part of that is that yes, it works for him to make people a nervous and concise. I think he's also just socially awkward as well.

Comment author: Nisan 04 May 2014 08:10:02PM 24 points [-]

I started at my first full-time job as a software engineer in the Bay Area after following Alexei's advice.

I got engaged to an awesome person as a result of this post.

Comment author: palladias 06 May 2014 08:28:02PM 1 point [-]

Mazel tov!

Comment author: closeness 04 May 2014 12:31:36PM 23 points [-]

Passed my first programming course (Java). Came up with two arduino products for a farm that could be very profitable if successful. Learned something new every day. Went a whole month without feeling depressed.

Comment author: philh 04 May 2014 12:44:13PM 21 points [-]

In the film industry, when we want to guess how much money a film is going to make, we think of similar films to compare it to and see how much money those made. Six months ago, I started a project to think of similar films for you. We rolled it out to our users a couple of weeks ago, and they love it. Quite apart from the films it recommends, my boss says that the way it displays the comparisons is by far the best that he's ever seen. The database it draws from only goes back a few years, so we managed to get budgeting approval to hire a team of interns for a few weeks to fill in the history. My company is probably paying about £10,000 to collect data for a system that I wrote, by myself, in six months while working on other projects. (That's not actually a lot of money, but my system one still thinks it is.)

Relatedly, I solved this bug while working on it, by delving deeper into the network stack than I ever have before.

Comment author: Joshua_Blaine 04 May 2014 10:25:51PM *  12 points [-]

You made a thing that's being used by other people. People who are paying you to use it. That's pretty great!

Comment author: William_Quixote 05 May 2014 05:46:17PM *  0 points [-]

To get data to feed your model consider buying a data set from an industry provider like box office mojo. Depending on what fields you need, they have a very solid data set with long history that could probably be purchased for less than 10000 euro depending on the confi and on sell terms your company could agree to.

Comment author: philh 05 May 2014 10:20:25PM 0 points [-]

"Import" might have been more accurate than "collect". We have access to the history from various sources, but we can't yet import it automatically. I'm pretty sure the data needs to be hunted down, collated and cleaned up in difficult-to-automate ways, but I haven't actually turned my attention to the problem yet.

Comment author: diegocaleiro 06 May 2014 07:09:51AM 18 points [-]

I've moved to the place in the planet where after years of deliberation, I decided suits me best (and guess what Dan Gilbert, I still think that! My prospectoscope did not fail!)... , In less than four weeks here, I 1) Solved half my income problem by finding a hack in the writing for money system and being paid aprox 200 dollars per hour of writing/re-writing, for about 5 hours per month. That is, I can pay rent with one day of work. 2) I solved the Visa problem, you don't understand how valuable solving the Visa problem is if you are not a willing immigrant like a million people per year. 3) I got a scholarship, which can pay my life from 2015 to 2019 while giving me a prestigious PHD degree and save me loads of time to work saving the world on the side. 4) I'm living in a rationalist house with people, which was a dream of mine. I've met more and better some people in the rationalist community in the area, I've danced for 6 or more hours a week into trancendent bliss and merged with the universe.
And, to cherry top it all, I was just invited to be a TED fellow.
If life is a game, I basically won.

Comment author: Torello 07 May 2014 03:20:35AM 4 points [-]

Congrats on the recent winning streak.

Can you describe what kind of writing you do and how you acquired the position?

Comment author: eggman 04 May 2014 07:44:40PM 14 points [-]

I bought a pedometer to track my steps, so I could achieve my goal of taking 10000 steps everyday, and have a motivation to go outside, and do some light exercise. This is from before I bought the pedometer when I was doing no regular exercise. I've met my goal of 10000 steps everyday for the last week since I bought the pedometer, so I've increased my goal to 12000 steps everyday.

Comment author: eggman 06 May 2014 09:35:57PM 1 point [-]

I figured upvotes in the monthly bragging thread would solely be a function of how much of a heap of utility can be demonstrated to be achieved. However, this is my second-most upvoted comment of all time, with the first-most upvoted being similar: a terse comment with just enough data to make it seem substantial, but is full of warm fuzzies. So, writing 'Yay! I'm winning!' for a mundane goal, like doing minimal exercise, might be at least as powerful as providing a long, and modest, explanation for doing something which signals much more greatness in real life. Below mine, other users have commented that they've:

*cemented an academic career with a lifestyle they love. *gave a technical presentation to hundreds of people. *became adequately competent in Python to start a fully-fledged web project. *made substantial advancement in launching a career as a statistician. *made a regular habit of building skills that are more crucial to success than 'walking around'.

To me, all of the above seems more impressive than my 'walking around a bunch'. My hypothesis is that I signaled my success in a simpler package, so it was easier to process, and so there was an easier, and lazier, investment in pressing the 'upvote' button. If you upvoted me, why? What's going on?

Comment author: William_Quixote 05 May 2014 05:50:47PM 9 points [-]

I finished learn python the hard way. This was a project in itself and also a jumping off point for my next project, which is to learn web scraping and the automated collection of data to help me build data sets about a number of subjects that interest me.

Comment author: falenas108 04 May 2014 04:01:19PM 17 points [-]

Successfully acted in my first theater production where I had actual lines I was saying to an audience. I have a mild form of dyslexia, and I have a problem where I often paraphrase things, so being able to comfortably deliver a series of lines exactly while under stress from having an audience is a big deal for me.

Comment author: free_rip 06 May 2014 02:35:55AM 6 points [-]

I completed my statistics internship, and got strong all-around compliments from the audience on my presentation, and my adviser on my report.

I succeeded in being selected for a consulting job after a long interview/testing process, and taught myself how to do competitor research, to good feedback from my team.

I asked two people to be references (this doesn't sound like a big one, but it was probably the hardest thing on this list for me - I've always felt really uncomfortable about asking for this) and they both said yes, they'd love to.

I integrated HabitRPG into my everyday life, and since doing so (about a week ago) have achieved all the daily habits I'd previously been inconsistently working on for months (including habits about when to turn screens off, when to go to bed and get up, exercise and other health things) at least 5/7 of the time, and have been feeling much more productive in general.

My stats tutee went from failing her course to getting 80% in her most recent test.

Comment author: djm 05 May 2014 06:29:38AM *  6 points [-]

I completed the following online courses:

I wish the order was different - would have been a lot better to have done the 2nd course first, as I found some of the Automata theory very tricky.

Comment author: Joshua_Blaine 04 May 2014 10:34:12PM *  6 points [-]

I have reduced my discomfort with talking to anyone about anything, especially requests for help/information. Instead of avoiding talking to people like my parents, teachers, or businesses due to some odd, misplaced anxiety I've successfully started noticing this pattern and purposefully overcoming it.

Examples include:

  • Talking to my family about wanting to move to Australia, instead of putting it off until the last minute.

  • Calling several local banks and asking about shadowing opportunities, something unfamiliar to both me and the banks.

It's not incredible, but it feels nice to be making progress in the right direction.

Comment author: jkaufman 06 May 2014 09:52:30PM 12 points [-]

Reproduced.

Comment author: fezziwig 06 May 2014 11:35:34PM 4 points [-]

I followed a link to this post from "Recent Comments" because I wanted to know what bug you'd managed to reproduce. It took me a minute to figure out my mistake. Congratulations!

Comment author: iarwain1 05 May 2014 12:12:23AM *  4 points [-]

Passed my first programming MOOC, MITx 6.00.1, even though I accidentally missed the final. Also learned how to use LaTeX.

Comment author: James_Miller 04 May 2014 07:32:48PM 4 points [-]

I got a heavy medicine ball for my home office which I frequently pick up and throw into the air. It reduces the trivial inconveniences of taking small exercise breaks.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 04 May 2014 06:39:18PM 9 points [-]

I gave a short, semi-technical speech at work, on an important — but, alas, confidential — topic. The audience in the room numbered a few hundred. Including viewers over videoconference and recording, probably a few thousand.

The speech was well received; and the experience was, while stressful, also surprisingly pleasant.

Comment author: ike 22 May 2014 08:08:32PM *  3 points [-]

Got a 2340 SAT. That's 800 on both Math and Reading, 80 subscore on Writing, and 6/12 on the essay. The only points off were for the essay. Perfect on multiple choice, although I think I did get one wrong on reading (maladroit and peremptory).

Comment author: Bill_McGrath 15 May 2014 07:37:06PM 2 points [-]

I gave two conference papers in the last month, both in a fairly new field to me, having never attended a conference before. I got good responses and lots of encouraging feedback.