I've been quiet for the past 2 months about what's going on with HowTruthful.  The reasons for this connect to my personal life. The easiest way for me to explain is to take you through the series of events that got me here.

In early October, while still employed at Google, I went to Missouri to visit my elderly parents. My dad was in poor health in rehab, but he was fighting hard to recover. He did improve his mobility and, after I left, was released back to their independent-living apartment on October 19.

October 27 was the last day at Google for myself, my director, and almost all the engineers under my director. By this point I was actually happy about the change. I set up a daily scrum with several coworkers who also had independent projects. One of them introduced me to lesswrong.com, which seems to have significant overlapping goals with HowTruthful, even though I wouldn't personally identify myself as a Rationalist.

I cleaned up issues with the version of HowTruthful I had implemented in 2018 and started searching for enthusiastic early adopters willing to be paid users.  The plan was to have 5 paid users in 2 weeks. If that failed, I would start splitting my time between HowTruthful and job search. I got 2 paid users.

One of them, a former boss, bought me lunch in addition to buying a subscription, and talked excitedly about the potential of HowTruthful. He had several useful points of feedback. One of these was the question, "Why does it look so 1996?" I added a to-do item to revisit the style, but prioritized other feedback higher. After all, this is a site where people are endeavoring to be super rational. Why should its appearance make much difference?

On November 21 my dad had a small stroke and atypical aspiration pneumonia, and was back in the hospital. I stayed optimistic that he would fight his way back to health as he had done in October, and kept going with life. There was a flurry of small improvements to HowTruthful toward the end of November.

My dad was way less responsive than in October when I saw him. There were times where he seemed to be heading in a better direction, but he couldn't be released from the hospital until December 16. He was under hospice care, given a month (give or take) to live. It turned out to be much less than a month; he died on December 18.

A few days before my dad died, I had brought HowTruthful style revisions to the front of my priorities, mostly because they could be paired with switching to a different front-end framework, which I wanted to do since in 2018 I had used Mithril, which does not seem to have a future.

I found that I didn't have the emotional energy to keep momentum going on both HowTruthful and job search, and HowTruthful took a back seat. In January I stopped coding and started reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. It had some eye-opening experimental results that were relevant to my next steps for HowTruthful. I learned from chapter 10 that appearance counted way more than I had been thinking in determining user experience. The same food tastes better in a restaurant with ambiance. The ambiance of howtruthful.com was probably driving people away faster than any functional deficiency would.

This thought led me to stop making HowTruthful videos. But at the same time I wasn't making progress on the style update. Job search stayed at the front of my priority list. I was more likely to do interview-practice coding than useful move-HowTruthful-forward coding. So from the outside it has been as if HowTruthful was forgotten, even though it's on my mind every day.

Sometimes I would sit down to do some HowTruthful work and encounter writer's block. Very recently I've developed a theory as to why. My brain made an illusory correlation between my dad's decline/death, and me working 5 days a week in my home office on HowTruthful.

My plan now is to make my office environment look different in an attempt to tell my subconscious mind that this is a new start. I'm going to focus on well-being for maybe a week. Then I'll crank HowTruthful work back up, especially as my job search reaches the late stages. I'll probably start employment in April, but it will have to be a place that doesn't claim intellectual property rights over work on HowTruthful that I do on my own time and equipment.  Obviously I'll be able to put way less effort in, but if for now I invest in making something super maintainable, I should be able to make good functional improvements in less time.

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