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Comment author: Morendil 28 May 2015 08:13:21AM 2 points [-]

I'd welcome any suggestions for how to find collaborators.

Keep posting the material here. Post to Main. Don't worry about it not being polished enough: you'll get plenty of feedback. Ignore feedback that isn't useful to you.

Comment author: jacob_cannell 11 May 2015 05:13:04AM 0 points [-]

Got hired by the French government to promote a more agile style of programming and project management.

Seriously - that's a thing? Je ne parle vouz francais, but I just had to up my regard for the french government.

Comment author: Morendil 11 May 2015 05:56:36AM 5 points [-]

To put this in some perspective, they're mostly doing it because the Brits did it first.

Still, having any recognition and awareness that there is a problem there is heartening. We're just getting started here; last I heard, the good old habits were still in force, i.e. of starting software efforts with price tags expressed in hundred million euro multiples, letting them run for a while, then scrapping them as not even worth deploying.

Procurement is one of the big culprits here; a classic case of lost purposes. Ostensibly to save money, departments give a lot of power to policy-making bodies who then dictate a risk-averse process that departments must follow before they can spend their own money. This means that contracts now mainly go to contracting firms who positively relish dealing with red tape, but are less competent at actually shipping code.

Typically this leads to disasters, see above, which result in tightening financial controls, giving even more power to purchasing organizations, the almighty tail wagging all the dogs. The departments' own IT people, in this setup, end up doing nothing much beyond filling out paperwork, while all actual competencies such as writing the software are "externalized" to contractors.

So the job description is basically to cure government of this addiction. I've been given control over a budget of a couple million euros to start with, and instructions to split it over about 10 worthwhile projects this year. Each project should have a 6-month roadmap, with a first go/no-go milestone at two weeks in (and an obligation to report in with something they've learned by getting out of the building and talking to end users). At least half of the development crew (4 to 6 people) should be in-house to the departments, not contractors. That should leave much less room to hide incompetence, but we'll also provide a bit of mentoring to make sure these teams know a minimum of good engineering practice.

Comment author: Morendil 10 May 2015 01:32:03PM *  16 points [-]
  • A couple months ago I started learning the Elm programming language, and to make things interesting I resolved to push one non-empty code commit to GitHub every single day (ideally also non-trivial, but not everyone's definition of "trivial" will match mine). I'm now on day 67 of that streak, having written six proto-games (playable here if you're so inclined, though they're not hugely entertaining). So far the habit has resisted a new job and a ten-day vacation. I've also been keeping a daily journal since Feb 21.

  • Used my 3D printer (Prusa i3) to print the entire set of plastic printed parts for a different printer (FoldaRap), very much a non-trivial project (~ 50h of printing for 30+ distinct parts) that requires a well-tuned printer. I'm particularly proud as this comes on the tails of completing a major conversion of the Prusa from its original direct-extrusion design to a Bowden setup.

  • Got hired by the French government to promote a more agile style of programming and project management.

Bragging Thread May 2015

6 Morendil 10 May 2015 01:25PM

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?

(Previous Bragging Thread)

Comment author: AlexanderRM 18 April 2015 10:23:52PM 1 point [-]

"Paras 7.2 and 7.3 (the slavery and gladiator questions) left me with an odd impression. The "test" you propose in both cases is more or less the same as Rawls' Veil of Ignorance. So at that point I was wondering, if you apply Rawls' procedure to determine what is a preferable social contract, perhaps you're a Rawlsian more than you're a consequentialist. :) BTW, are you familiar with Rawls' objections to (classical) utilitarianism?"

I can't speak for Yvain but as someone who fully agreed with his use of that test, I would describe myself as both a Rawlsian (in the sense of liking the "veil of ignorance" concept) and a Utilitarian. I don't really see any conflict between the two. I think maybe the difference between my view and that of Rawls is that I apply something like the Hedonic Treadmill fully (despite being a Preference Utilitarian), which essentially leads to Yvain's responses.

...Actually I suppose I practically define the amount of Utility in a world by whether it would be better to live there, so maybe it would in fact be better to describe me as a Rawslian. I still prefer to think of myself as a Utilitarian with a Rawlsian basis for my utility function, though (essentially I define the amount of utility in a world as "how desirable it would be to be born as a random person in that world). I think it's that Utilitarianism sounds easier to use as a heuristic for decisions, whereas calling yourself a Rawlsian requires you to go one step further back every time you analyze a thought experiment.

Comment author: Morendil 20 April 2015 08:46:30PM 0 points [-]

This later piece is perhaps relevant.

Comment author: joaolkf 31 March 2015 10:09:04AM 1 point [-]

Not sure if people are aware, but there are a lot of studies backing up that claim. It is more taxing (to well-being, not to fitness, of course) What's more, the alpha is is most stressed member of groups with high status-uncertainty, and the least stressed in a group with low status-uncertainty.

Comment author: Morendil 01 April 2015 06:09:42AM 3 points [-]

there are a lot of studies backing up that claim

Post links to three?

Comment author: Morendil 31 March 2015 06:18:40AM *  0 points [-]

This continues to be a puzzling topic...

My most recent explicit thought about this had to to with teamwork: it's become a commonplace that "conflict in a team isn't actually bad", and I was thinking that conflict per se may not be counterproductive, but I would certainly view engaging in dominance contests as a waste of time all around.

When I coach teams I often consciously adopt (and advocate for others in a similar position) a "low posture" - a cluster of heuristics, really, such as "I'm happy to help the group work through a problem but I'm not the one who makes the decision", or "invest significant time in hearing people out".

There can also be a question of perspective: some people are determined to view the world through dominance-tinted glasses, others to see it in tints of warm fuzzy.

Comment author: Morendil 08 March 2015 01:57:27PM 14 points [-]

I've just run my first half-marathon, coming in with an official time of 2h0m44s, close enough to my 2h objective that I'll call it a win.

Also this month, I reached a first milestone in writing video games using FRP (Functional Reactive Programming) in the Elm language, coding a proto-game that reproduces the basic gameplay of "The Company of Myself".

Bragging Thread March 2015

5 Morendil 08 March 2015 01:50PM

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?

(Previous Bragging Thread)

In response to The Fallacy of Gray
Comment author: adamzerner 17 January 2015 09:45:21PM *  1 point [-]

I came across a good example of this. I recently graduated from a coding bootcamp and am looking for jobs. I applied to a selective company and was declined. They said, "unfortunately we won't be able to move forward with your candidacy at this time". They didn't say anything about the actual reason why I was rejected.

(paraphrased conversation with my friend)

  • Me: I hate when people sugarcoat. I wish they just said, "you don't seem as smart as the other candidates".
  • Him: It isn't necessarily true that they don't think you're as smart. Maybe it's for some other reason. Like maybe it's because you're in NY and they're looking for people in SF.
  • Me: They asked if I was able to relocate to SF, and I said "yes, I want to relocate to SF".
  • Him: Maybe they thought that you were smart, but just that it wasn't the right fit.
  • Me: The position is for a software developer intern. I just graduated from a coding bootcamp. They use JavaScript-based technologies. I learned the same/similar technologies. They're an education company. I'm very interested in education. They want unconventional and ambitious people. I'm definitely unconventional and ambitious.
  • Him: ...
  • Me: So what do you think the reason is for why they rejected me?
  • Him: I don't know, they didn't tell you so I can't say.
Comment author: Morendil 17 January 2015 10:08:30PM 3 points [-]

Is there any reason you couldn't email back saying something along the lines of "I'd appreciate your pointing out what specific weaknesses made you rule out my application, so that I can improve to become a stronger candidate for later or for other similar companies, and possibly so that I can send candidates your way that better fit the profile?"

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