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An Experiment in Habit Changing - 5 Week Retrospective

I can't find it now, but it says something to the effect of "researchers with closed doors are more productive now, but over the long term they lose the pulse of research and become increasingly irrelevant, whereas researchers with open doors are less productive but keep the pulse of research and stay relevant."

This is from Richard Hamming's You and Your Research. The relevant part:

Another trait, it took me a while to notice. I noticed the following facts about people who work with the door open or the door closed. I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't know quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort of tangential in importance. He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important. Now I cannot prove the cause and effect sequence because you might say, "The closed door is symbolic of a closed mind.'' I don't know. But I can say there is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing—not much, but enough that they miss fame.

For HN specifically I recommend https://hnrss.github.io. I subscribe to a few high-value commenters, and occasionally look at the 'Best of HN' feed for relevant things, this gets most of the benefit of being exposed to the ambient environment, with little addictive risk.

Should I delay having children to take advantage of polygenic screening?

The only company I know of actually offering polygenic screening available to the general public is Genomic Prediction.

There's also Orchid (https://www.orchidhealth.com/). (And Genomic Prediction is now LifeView, https://www.lifeview.com/.)

Notes on Frugality

Reminded of a tweet from Gwern:

Connotations: 'thrift' is achieving one's goals as cost-effectively as possible and maximizing one's bang-for-buck; 'frugality' is choosing one's goals to be as cost-effective as possible, and picking a bang which minimizes one's buck. The former is a virtue; the latter, a vice.

So8res' Shortform Feed

Both "transistor" (transconductance and varistor) and "bit" (binary digit) come to mind as new technical words. 

Quoting from Jon Gertner's The Idea Factory.

The new thing needed a new name, too.  A notice was circulated to thirty-one people on the Bell Labs staff, executives as well as members of the solid-state team. “On the subject of a generic name to be applied to this class of devices,” the memo explained, “the committee is unable to make [a] unanimous recommendation.” So a ballot was attached with some possible names. [...] The recipients were asked to number, in order of preference, the possibilities:

  • Semiconductor Triode
  • Surface States Triode
  • Crystal Triode
  • Solid Triode
  • Iotatron
  • Transistor
  • (Other Suggestion)

(Further examples of bad naming conventions: https://willcrichton.net/notes/naming-conventions-that-need-to-die/)