paypal let's me set a travel plan online — woot. Hopefully my debit card will continue working overseas :)

I'm off to Japan.


I went to a social event this evening.
There were a lot of people there.

depression sometimes equals lack of motivation

anti-lack-of-motivation strategy of the week: think long term

I'd like to write a book of rants called "thinking outside the box". One of my rants would be against that saying.
I'm talking to you.

You think I mean "you" in the generic sense of "whoever is reading this",
but I don't,
I mean you in particular.

You think I couldn't know who you are in particular,
because you think "I" am the writer of this blog post,
but I'm not.

I'm the part of your mind that is reading and processing these words,
and I'm conveying them to you,
and you alone.

password generator


it takes the SHA-256 hash of random stuff in a textbox (including mouse movements), and uses the bits of the hash to generate a password

idea for explaining quantum computation..

start with a Turing machine,

cut the infinite tape down to 3 bits,

instead of having 3 bits, list out the 8 possibilities (000, 001, ..., 111), and have a tape with 8 bits which are all 0 except for one 1, to show which 3-bit state we're in,

instead of a state-machine for doing computation, we'll just have an 8x8 matrix where each row represents which state we should go into if our input is the 3-bit sequence for that row (that is, each row is 0's everywhere except for one 1), and we do the computation on our 8 bit vector by multiplying it by this matrix

now, instead of each row being 0's with one 1, let the numbers be anything as long as they sum to 1.

now, to allow for mysterious probability interference (probabilities canceling each other out), we need negative probabilities, so we'll let the numbers in our vectors represent square roots of probabilities (so after we square them all, they should add to 1).

now, for whatever reason, we actually want to allow imaginary numbers, and to make sure they're positive after "squaring" them, we'll actually multiply each number by it's complex conjugate before summing them all up to get 1.

also, for whatever reason, we constrain the matrix to be invertible,

and that's it.. we have a quantum computation, where the vector is our tape, the matrix is our computation, and the result of multiplying the vector by the matrix is our output tape.

sorting conference papers

I'm on the program committee for a conference. This means I need to review more papers than usual.

I hate reviewing papers. What I have to say is usually very short, like "this was great", or "this was not that great", but instead I feel obligated to write lots of bs to make people feel not-short-changed from the reviewing process.

What I want to do is sort papers.

I talked with a friend today who sent me a link which supports the sorting idea in some fashion: http://users.rider.edu/~baer/BaerMcKool.pdf. I'm just putting here for reference for myself.

I wish my body could feel the benefit of doing stuff for the long term, now

I visited github today :)

I was in the middle of writing a post, and my Mac went blank and a white-ish screen came up saying "Your computer shutdown because of a problem." The Mac white-ish screen of death.


I saw a flash of light, like lightning had struck, but I didn't hear anything. I looked toward my window, and I saw a cable moving outside. I went up to the window and looked down, and an electric bus was stopped, and there was a guy outside it adjusting the prongs back into the overhead wires.


poor handwriting

This is the original photograph of the original bit of poor handwriting that mechanical turk workers correctly transcribed, solidifying my hope that there was something to this idea of "human computation".

Note that there's some text in the background, on the reverse side of the paper, like a puzzle within a puzzle.. that text is part of the scoring rubric for an assignment in a class I TA'ed for my adviser — top secret information. Oops.
hah, I stumbled across the original image for this post about not finishing things


Mistakes. I wanted to hire 10 people to do a $5 job. I told people I'd hire the first 10 people for a job.. people applied.. but when I hired the first person, I hired them in a way that closed the job, effectively discarding all the other applicants..

..so I told them "hey, I'm sorry, I clicked the wrong thing", and invited them to a re-posting of the job.

then, I did it again.

oh.. I wasn't drunk then either.. but I was "at peace"..

anti-depression experiment of the week: being "at peace" with things.. for some definition of "at peace"..

one thing it means for me is that when a negative feeling crops up, rather than suppressing the feeling, or trying to feel the feeling and get it out of my system, I sortof acknowledge the feeling, but don't pursue it.

I was concerned that being at peace with things would cause me to lose ambition.. so far, that's not a problem.. so far, I feel like I can think more clearly.. though I do find myself in danger of offending people more (I got into an argument with someone in a meeting, not intending too, but I wasn't as worried about it as I usually would be).

my previous blog post was about being drunk. I am drunk right now. But I wasn't earlier today when I had the argument.. but it is easier to be "at peace" while drunk.. I'm not exactly sure what the differences are, but I think one difference is, hopefully, it should be possible to be "at peace" while also focussed and alert. we'll see..

advantage of not having a car: getting drunk

I've come to appreciate getting drunk. pros and cons of course, but the drunken mode of thought allows for a freedom of conversation that is usually difficult, barging blinding past cultural taboos and fears of offending people


note to self: if I'm in a project with git, I can open it in SourceTree from the command line like this:

> open -a SourceTree .



github lets you fucking paste images from the clipboard!

that's right. select an image, ctrl-c, ctrl-v into github's thing, and there it is:

I told my friend. He says: "Yeah, I know that's possible. It's been around for years. Gmail can do it." Which dampens my thunder a bit, but you know what doesn't let you do it? Blogger. That's right, the image I show above was painstakingly saved to a file on disk, and uploaded with an interface for uploading files on disk. You suck Blogger. You should be like github, which is awesome. Or gmail, I suppose.

asking questions

I want to ask: "how do I get comments to show up for untitled posts on Blogger?"

Now, there is some correct place to ask this. That place isn't StackOverflow. There's probably a StackExchange thing for it. Where is the Meta-Overflow where you ask where to ask a specific questions?

this is the app I want

While in bed this "morning", I tried to do some math in my head two different ways: allowing myself to tense up, and not allowing myself to tense up.

tensing up: I multiplied 150 * 25. My first strategy was to break the numbers into prime factors: 3 * 5 * 5 * 2 * 5 * 5, but I couldn't see an easy way of combining them. Next, I converted the problem to 15 * 250, and then did 250 * (10 + 5), which was 2500 + 1250 = 3750.

not tensing up: I multiplied 71 * 35. My strategy was to imagine a whiteboard, and just do the problem "normally", writing 71 above 35, multiplying 5 * 1, then 5 * 7, and writing 355 on the top row, then adding a 0 to the next row and multiplying 3 * 1, then 3 * 7, and writing 213 in front of the 0, and then adding 355 to 2130 to get 2485. This was all trusting memory and instinct, so to confirm, I did the calculation again writing 35 above 71, and again got 2485.

Tensing up, I felt like I had more power to manipulate ideas. Not tensing up, I felt like I had to follow my instincts, but oddly enough, I felt like my "whiteboard" memory was pretty good, perhaps better. That is to say, I could imagine the act of physically writing on a whiteboard, and using the writing on the whiteboard as "memory", better while not tensing up.

I tried again just now, writing something on my mental whiteboard while tensing versus not tensing, and it does seem easier while not tensing. The difference seems to be that while I'm tensing, I want to store the information differently than on a whiteboard — I sortof want to have a more compressed, more "understood" representation of the information — whereas when I'm not tensing, I'm more ok with not understanding the information, and just writing it down, and following wrote rules of manipulation. That is, it sortof comes down to trust. When I'm tensing, I don't trust my mental whiteboard. When I'm relaxed, I do.. though I suppose I'm still not sure under which circumstance my mental whiteboard actually works better. It could be that it works better while I'm tensed, if I decided to try trusting it, and just seeing whether I got the right answer.

Hm.. I returned a rental car a while back, but I forgot to return one of the sets of keys..
I find it ironic that the google search textbox is easier to use than the specially designed google calculator. "What's easier about the search box?" I can just type normally into the search box. "But you can just type into the calculator too!" Sortof — try typing "23456789" and then adding a forgotten "1" at the beginning, using the calculator interface.


online-education thoughts

this is a draft that I forgot to publish a while back...

I was just thinking that a light-weight server tool (whereby people could create collaborative web apps by simply hosting a static webpage, and not needing to run their own server) might significantly lower the barrier for people prototyping collaborative online learning ideas, of the sort where you can talk to other people who are also their doing whatever learning thing it is.

Similar to the way the Scratch community
I have a plastic slinky that I fiddle with — I twist it and twist it, and then release it in a controlled spin. Sometimes I lose control of the unwinding and the slinky contorts into a tangled mass. Then I disentangle the mass. This is often pretty easy, but I just recovered from a pretty hard one..

..the interesting thing about it was that at some point I could see my hands doing something to the slinky, and I knew it was working, but I wasn't sure what my hands were doing exactly. They were twisting and pulling in some controlled say, using some resistance of the slinky to guide them.. now I know my subconscious seems to build models of systems and figure out ways to manipulate and solve them, but usually this happens all inside my head, and it was interesting to witness it happen outside my head..

..of course, even walking falls into this category, or juggling, but those things are more about learning to use my own muscles, more-or-less. Solving the tangled slinky was learning to correctly manipulate the parts of an external system..

..I suppose this happens when untying knots too, which I've tried, but there it seems like just random manipulations to "losen things up" is all that's happening.. here, it was clear that my hands were doing something seemingly random, but definitely not. I could see it working, and the process did in fact lead to an untangled slinky.

to my "modes of thought", I want to add another, where there are sortof many trains of thoughts assessing things from different points of view, like a committee arguing in my mind about the idea.. but unlike a committee, there isn't a feeling of needing to reach a consensus, everyone just says what they think (in different ways, some "say" what they think with feelings, some with images, some with words), and mind my sortof drifts along and eventually does something that seems to "fit"..


I used to hate mint (the taste, not the website). Now I'm looking forward to this mint chip ice-cream. Hm.. I had ice-cream yesterday, and the day before.. usually I only have ice-cream once a week. On Friday. And I eat a whole pint. But now I'm having my third pint in as many days.. hm.. I mean, mmm... I mean.. hm..
I attended "philosophical tea time" today. My friend has a Japanese tea board thing that collects spilled tea, and he pours one of three different kinds of tea into someone's cub every time they place it onto the board — there are a couple other people there — and we philosophize. It was pretty great.

math question: I have two processes, A and B, which each take time. I can measure A a bunch of times and determine that it takes 1 second on average. I can also measure AB (process A followed by process B) a bunch of times, and let's say that it takes 3 seconds on average. How long does B take? The answer seems like it would be 2 seconds on average.. but lets say that the times for A and B are log-normally distributed, as process times tend to be (I think).. is it still fine to subtract averages?

..let's simulate this..

hm.. nope.

hm.. I thought process times tended to be Poisson distributed.. is Poisson distributed the same as log-normal?.. simulate..

hm.. it appears not.

Uber is pretty fantastic. I tried it for the first time today. I clicked a button to summon a car to my location. It came. It drove me where I wanted to go. And I walked out. One click, and I got somewhere.. and not having to fiddle with cash or work out a tip was sooo nice.

oh, and I forgot to say, it shows a picture of my driver before they come, and tells me what kind of car, so I can spot them (I'm surprised it doesn't say what color, and before you say "black", that's not true of UberX, which is what I used).

I asked the drivers (two trips) what they thought. The first guy thought it was great, and he appeared to be making more money per hour than me, though he said that appeared to be going down as more drivers enter the system. The second guy seemed to like it, though it was only his third day, but he used to work as a taxi driver, which I thought was interesting (so apparently there isn't any sort of taxi mafia preventing taxi drivers from becoming uber drivers).


alas, usually going for a walk clears my head, and I feel better. But this walk had a lot of thinking, and frustration, and now I feel worse.

I bought some fruit. I'm going to eat fruit and watch something and not think.. I think.
A thought: concentrate on smaller games. Just think of fun things to do now, in the very near term, that aren't too un-optimal in making sure I have money and such for the future.

This kindof feels like quitting. Giving up the big game. I'd like to believe this is actually some clever strategy that ambushes the big game from the side later on..

I recall people saying things like "you'll go crazy if you keep thinking high level thoughts", though maybe worded differently.. and I feel like I'm admitting that they're right.. or that they'll think that's what I'm doing. I care a lot about being right, it seems.. a family traite.

But I feel like the best way to play the game right now may be to be patient, try to develop some mind skills, like focus and self awareness or what-have-you.. and wait till we're past the "information age" and into the "consciousness age".

"But shouldn't you be trying to help get us there?" Well, I'm not sure. I think there may be too many cooks in the kitchen. Mankind has lots of people helping go in the directions it's going.. it's like one of those group projects in school where some random kid has declared themselves leader, and the other kids have decided to follow them, and all there really is for me to do is play along and hope that the teacher doesn't count the project for too much of our final grade — but trying to convince the kids to follow me doesn't seem to work. I'm not a natural leader.

I've been feeling overwhelmed. I'm not sure what to do next. I think the overwhelmedness comes from too high of expectations for myself. I feel like my potential rate of doing stuff is pretty high, and I'm not living up to that.

Also I think that any particular thing I do isn't the most important thing, and I see a lot of value in doing the most important thing, so I try to think what that is, and that leads me to thinking what my goal is, and the harder I think about it, the further I deconstruct my motivations, and in the end, it seems like my motivations are sortof arbitrary.

I've tried to have the non-arbitrary goal of sortof helping the universe out in its apparent quest to have life and intelligence and consciousness develop. But this often leaves me feeling like a pawn.. like I'm helping, but not really helping, since my help isn't needed. Life would press on without me.

Another candidate of non-arbitrary goal is trying to become more conscious myself — this seems like it would be beneficial for both the universe and me, assuming it's beneficial to be more conscious, but I feel like it is. A problem with this goal is that there's a high chance of failure, like dying, which is likely to happen eventually, and also it's pretty hard to become more conscious. I feel like humanity will do better at this when we can combine brains with computers and with other brains, but in the meantime, I feel like some mysterious form of meditation may be my best bet, and even with that, it will be small beans compared with what technology will bring in the future, so what's the point in trying now?

Is this depression? Or is this what people feel when they're playing a game with their friends, and they realize they're going to lose, but they feel bad quitting now because their friends are enjoying the game?

my music

I wrote some songs a while ago, and less long ago I hired Olga Sapho to cover my songs. People have asked for them, but I haven't really had a good home for them, until now, with soundcloud. Here are both my and her versions of the songs:

I've got this rubik cube. I used to know how to solve it. Is it worth relearning?

My hands like to play with it.. but I think I might get too annoyed soon with it being "out of order".


hm.. it appears I have several threads going.. not sure how to proceed.. let's see..

I'm working on making my homepage more pinterestish. I'm thinking of just having my "best" projects, and having a picture for each one — so far I've got:

I'm working on several humanscript projects:

  • the yabla extension: MVP is done, now where to put it..
  • the advanced chess game: board is done, extracting suggestions from javascript ai is sortof done — someone did it, but they didn't wrap it quite as cleanly as I was hoping, so I still need to meddle with it..
  • random.org/twister thing: all the pieces in place, but I lost faith that people would use it, but a friend restored some hope, and it's so close, I just need to push it a little more

There's also a number of hiring experiment things, including nodesk, some other oDesk hiring things, and some MTurk hiring things.. all of them are just easier ways of hiring for specific sorts of jobs.

I'm also trying to understand Integrated Information Theory, which is some person's theory of consciousness, and I've very interested in consciousness, so despite being skeptical of their theory, I do want to at least understand it, and it has some maths that I don't understand yet.

I've also been trying this new meditation technique, where I'm trying to stay.. er.. awake.. all the time. More awake. I feel like it is going in a good direction.. not sure yet.

Also, I fight depression, and although I'm currently not depressed, I worry that I'll slip down a few (many) more times before I've figured it out, and I don't want to get too into projects during these moments of coming up for air, since I don't want to drop too much when I go down again..

Also, I plan to go to Japan at the end of May,

and I want to actually learn a foreign language with the yabla extension thing,

and there are some other pet projects, and also some responsibilities with work, and also some other projects that other people would like me to help with..

I'm not quite sure how to prioritize it all..


More progress on the language learning idea from this previous post.

Namely, it works, and is here: https://github.com/dglittle/yabla-extension , and was mainly created by this humanscript: https://github.com/dglittle/yabla-extension/issues/3

Here's what it does — it adds the red English words beneath the Spanish words:

testing comments

does blogger show a thing saying how many comments this has?

update: yes.. so apparently my untitled posts don't have a comments link. Ug.
Not sure if I put a link to this here: https://github.com/dglittle/mongo-heroku .. not sure where to advertise stuff like that. It's so niche, and yet, I think someone would find it useful.. is the cost of reaching that person more than the cost of them creating the thing afresh? Perhaps..

In any case, I feel unlinked to the hive mind of humanity sometimes.


Some songs have a spot in them that's special to me — something about the way it sounds — and I listen to the whole song just to hear that one moment. These spots need a name.

I just heard one, which made me think of it..

says it feels like heaven, to 'im

..from off to the races, by lana del rey

I'm thinking of keeping this blog as a blah log, and making my homepage have a more consolidated set of cool items, laid out pinterestishly.

digital photography


I want to learn patience. Is there a non-boring way to learn patience?
I know it doesn't help anything to gripe and complain that things aren't the way that I want, but people don't say "ow!" to decrease their pain, they say "ow!" to express their pain.. wanting things to be different is painful.

I feel so impatient.
I want, and StackOverflow provides. I wanted a command-line to serve my current directory as a webpage (since some Chrome features only work on real webpages, rather than "file" urls), and here we go: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3108395/serve-current-directory-from-command-line
I love virtualpostmail.com so much.
Gah! I feel like, to a non-detail oriented person, details are like noise, which is filtered out. I can't even convince them it was there. Trying to reference the details is a detail.
I had a dream. I saw a video advertisement. Julia Roberts was telling a story. Then at the end of the story, the screen flashed to a view of some credit card, and it said "forget the story, remember the card". And I tried to remember the story, and I couldn't, and I thought to myself, maybe I can't remember the story because it didn't make sense.. but I wasn't sure, and I hated the advertisement for manipulating my mind.

I had in mind an idea for something like random.org that wouldn't have random.org's rate limiting problems. The idea was to get random bits from random.org as often as they would allow, but then to feed these into a Mersenne Twister algorithm (which is just the best pseudo-random number generator I could find), and generate random numbers from that, and also feed in the request times as another source of randomness.. so when people asked for random numbers, they would be pretty darn random numbers.

Anyway, I humanscripted the creation of the core bit of this — a thing that would get bits from random.org at their rate limit and feed that into a Mersenne Twister, but now I'm having seconds thoughts about the usefulness of the whole thing. First, I was going to host the thing as a free heroku app, but that would be slow for people at first (since it would idle a lot), reducing adoption, and even if it was fast, I'm not sure people would trust it to be random for the things I had intended it for, like generating passwords. My thought for getting around this was to have the client actually take bits from my heroku app to seed their own Mersenne Twister with some local randomness, like the current time, but if they're going to do that anyway, I'm not sure they'd be motivated to use my heroku app.

I'm now thinking a better approach may be to create a static random.js file that people can include which overrides Math.random with a Mersenne Twister that is seeded from the current time, as well as any mouse movements that happen on the page..

..hm.. why don't computer come with hardware random number generators?

I talked with my mom recently. She had gone to something and learned about the Enneagram personality thing. I hadn't heard of it before, but I'm fascinated by personality tests.

One interesting tidbit from this system is that it tries to predict what people of various personalities will do when they are in a good place or in a bad place. I identify most with the investigator personality type, and it predicts that when I'm in a bad place, I will retreat socially. Which I do.. and have been doing recently, since I have been depressed.

I've been thinking a lot about what is important. For whatever reason, I want to do important things — or rather, I want to do things that actually make a difference, as opposed to doing things that may as well not have been done.

Is writing in this blog important, especially since practically nobody will read it? I don't know. I'm justifying it right now because I think it helps me thinking through the things I've been thinking about, and is an investment in my own mental machinery.

Of course, a part of me does want to be heard, and secretly wishes that people did read this blog, and that part of me worries about putting crap, like this post, in this blog, since they reduce the likelihood that this blog is worth reading.

Sometimes I try to watch myself make a decision, like deciding to lift my arm. I've got my arm there, and I'm going to lift it.. at some point.. and I wait and wait for the decision to be made, because I want to watch it be made.. but it doesn't happen. I can lift my arm, of course, but I can't seem to watch myself make the decision to do it. This feels related to a turing machine figuring out what it is going to output before it outputs it.

I can watch myself do things, like walking. Things that I've already decided to do, and that are run by some unconscious process.

I can also think really hard about lifting my arm, and if my arm is already in the air a little bit, it will actually lift, very slowly, in little bursts, where these little bursts are not decided by my conscious self. I feel like hypnosis is related to this (in part because someone who tried to hypnotise me had me do exactly that process as part of the hypnotic induction — however, it happened very slowly, and I failed to become hypnotized, as far as I recall ;)

I had a couple thoughts today while introspecting, and trying to be conscious.

I had the thought that thinking is like remembering a song — it's hard to just jump into the middle. Instead, I need to start at the beginning, and remember the lyrics in order. Similarly with thinking, my thoughts link with other thoughts, and to have the thoughts, I need to start somewhere and sortof get there my linking to it.

A couple implications of this:

  • I find it useful when I want to think about X to start writing down words related to X, even if they are not very related at all, and write down more words closer and closer to what I'm trying to think about, and eventually my mind will have in mind X.
  • When meditating / introspecting, I often find myself in a situation where I want to sortof assess the current thoughts "on my mind" at that moment, but when I sortof pause my brain and look around, nothing is going on. My thoughts sortof are the motion of links between ideas, rather than a static state.
I've been trying to meditate. In the past, I've tried to meditate by relaxing and clearing my mind, which was very boring and felt more-or-less like trying to be asleep.

More recently I've tried meditating in more-or-less the opposite way — trying to be very alert and aware. This is much less boring. I've been trying to remain conscious all day. I notice that while I'm awake, I'm not always really conscious.. sometimes my consciousness drifts as I go into auto-pilot, and I'll "wake up" after a bit, remembering everything I did, mostly, but I won't have really been there.

I haven't posted in a while. I've been thinking. I'm not sure what this blog is. I'm not sure what should go in it. I think maybe it's similar to a lab notebook, or a journal, but I've got a lot of crap in here. I worry sometimes that someone coming here for the first time won't be able to find anything meaningful amidst all the crap.