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Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2014 08:00:06AM 0 points [-]

Students will learn how communicate

Didn't spot that on the first read; a member of a rare species: the self-refuting prophecy.

Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2014 07:21:35AM *  5 points [-]

Another example of a fake number is "complexity" or "maintainability" in software engineering.

Yet another is "productivity". In fact, most of software engineering consists of discussions of fake numbers. :/ This article (pdf) discusses that rather nicely.

Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2014 07:17:21AM 4 points [-]

I enrolled in the "Data Analysis" Coursera class this fall, on recommendations from online acquaintances, to see what Coursera was like and to start getting the hang of R.

As far as I can tell, it's closely similar to module 4 here. (One notable difference is that it relied on plot exclusively rather than ggplot2, for some unfathomable reason.)

The experience was a mixed bag. I did learn a bunch of things I didn't know; however only a small fraction of the course covered theoretical concepts, and as the course progressed it focused more and more on memorizing R commands without any deep understanding of the math they are based on.

I'm not at all convinced that the video format is more effective than a book with the same information. I watched videos at 1.5x speedup, sometimes read the transcripts and skipped segments of video entirely. What value I found there was in doing the exercises, and there were relatively few of those. A couple of the "correct" answers were in fact incorrect, generating controversy in the student forums, but the instructors/administrators didn't seem to care much or even notice.

MOOCs are sometimes advertised as "self-paced" learning; in the case of Coursera, this is a lie. Because I enrolled late, I wasn't able to get official credit for any of the exercise sets I completed (I also skipped the problems entirely). On the one hand it's nice that you can enroll out of phase, but on the other hand it's sort of silly that an online course is still tied to an artificial schedule. For instance, if you are going faster than the class, you will still have to wait for each segment to be opened on a weekly basis.

Finally, I've just discovered that because the class I took is now closed, I am no longer allowed access to any of the videos, quizzes and assignments - nor to my own results. I don't think I need to harp on how broken this is.

Comment author: KenChen 29 January 2014 11:20:41PM 0 points [-]

Our for-profit company, Lambda, uses Xero, a web-based accounting tool. They claim to serve non-profits as well: http://www.xero.com/us/not-for-profit/

I can't speak to how good they are for non-profits, but many startups are using Xero these days.

Comment author: Morendil 01 February 2014 09:53:54AM 0 points [-]

I second the recommendation, I've used Xero for a non-profit and found it wonderful. That was a while ago, I expect it's improved since.

Comment author: Morendil 30 January 2014 11:04:55AM 1 point [-]

This is relevant: the LW code is a little bit gnarly to set up, having this in a pre-packaged VM can help.

These days Vagrant is being superseded by Docker, I might have a go at turning the VagrantFile into a Dockerfile if anyone is interested.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 21 January 2014 03:14:30AM *  20 points [-]

Yvain, could you give a real-life example analogous to your Goofus & Gallant story?

That is, could you provide an example (or several, even better) of a situation wherein:

  1. There is some opportunity for clear, unambiguous victory;
  2. Taking advantage of it depends primarily on taking a strange/unconventional/etc. idea seriously (as distinct from e.g. not having the necessary resources/connections, being risk-averse, having a different utility function, etc.);
  3. Most people / normal people / non-rationalists do not take the idea seriously, and as a consequence have not taken advantage of said opportunity;
  4. Some people / smart people / rationalists take the idea seriously, and have gone for the opportunity;
  5. And, most importantly, doing so has (not "will"! already has!) caused them to win, in a clear, unambiguous, significant way.

Note that cryonics does not fit that bill (it fails point 5), which is why I'm asking for one or more actual examples.

Comment author: Morendil 21 January 2014 10:25:34PM 2 points [-]

Google "The Pudding Guy".

Comment author: Morendil 17 January 2014 09:23:21PM 4 points [-]

That's what twitters, tumblers, blogs, articles and books are about, more or less, as far as I'm concerned.

In response to Why CFAR?
Comment author: Morendil 03 January 2014 07:38:22AM 5 points [-]

Donated $100. Happy New Year!

Comment author: shminux 05 June 2013 08:40:54PM 0 points [-]

Any updates to your original prediction?

Comment author: Morendil 30 November 2013 10:21:26AM 2 points [-]

Now this.

In response to comment by Morendil on The best 15 words
Comment author: Ishaan 06 October 2013 01:00:27AM *  4 points [-]

this seems like it belongs in the boring advice repository, but i'll say it anyway:

Smarter than Person X by most metrics ≠ nothing to learn from interacting with Person X

I'd modify the wording of the advice to:

"Strive to have at least one person close to you who exceeds you in your primary domains, (as well as the domains you wish to improve upon)"

In response to comment by Ishaan on The best 15 words
Comment author: Morendil 07 October 2013 09:20:21PM *  4 points [-]

Those are not the best 15 words!

Although this is the lesser of two evils. This comment and this are, it seems to me, trying too hard to be the smartest person in the room: technically correct, but only if you ride roughshod over Gricean principles. This is a common failure mode.

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