Here are the last six posts I've written for the CodeCombat blog over the past few months. Look at the view counts:
Here are the last six posts I've written for the CodeCombat blog over the past few months. Look at the view counts:
04:06. The wake light has gradually brightened to 20% brightness, but I cut it off early. It's time to rise, silently and in darkness, cook some runny eggs, get on my longboard, ride through the empty streets to the CodeCombat command center, and begin hacking.
It's not actually that intense–Rocky gets up slightly earlier with a more annoying alarm, drinks raw eggs instead of runny ones, and then, you know, has to punch meat instead of keys. But I still feel kind of badass doing it–if I remind myself to.
Most of the time, stress just feels like stress. It feels bad. It's something to fight against. The pressure of trying to get everything done during Y Combinator weighs on me, my bug list is like overdue homework, and I'm not having fun, oh no.
But when I remember, I remind myself that this is actually pretty badass. Getting up when only ghosts and warlocks are awake? That's fierce. I approve. My weak human avatar wants to sleep, but it doesn't know what makes it happy. Longboarding through the grime to meet my destiny? I want that for myself. Hacking to the max until Demo Day and going to sleep at 20:00 for maximum productivity? Yes, this is the mission I accepted.
My head obsesses. I get songs stuck in my head so badly that I have to leave the room when "I'm On A Boat" comes on, and anyone who tries to troll me by singing "Party in the USA" gets warned and then ferociously tickled. (It's self-defense.) I don't like watching TV shows and have to limit movies because the scenes and plots continue to play in my head for days afterward, displacing the top idea in my mind.
The most interesting case of this is the Tetris effect. This where you do a repetitive activity so much that it takes over your subconscious, visually superimposing its patterns over your life. It's most noticeable when you're falling asleep. Tetris addicts would turn things they see into tetrominos, and their brains would be playing Tetris as they slept.
I have it bad. I've had the Tetris effect not only with all sorts of video games, but with things like coding, typing Dvorak, fixing grammar mistakes, responding to emails, hiking, tweaking CSS, and designing particle effects. Up until this week, though, it had only been visual, perhaps with some motor component.
It turns out I can get auditory Tetris effect, too. I had just spent the entire day strategizing about CodeCombat with George and Scott, talking startups with other Y Combinator companies, and listening to the YC partners dispense wisdom. As I was falling asleep, I heard a perfect Markov chain generator produce a conversation between Paul Graham, George, and Generic Startup Founder, complete with voices and appropriate verbal mannerisms, that went something like this:
Here's an old post from 2011-11-21 I thought I'd save from Google+. It is just two years old and already my G+ history has forgotten it--thankfully Google's normal search could find it.
George and I got some great footage of the Skritter iOS app in action yesterday for our teaser video. I Skrittered on buses, bridges, balconies, and a pillowcase. It's a good thing we finished shooting, because last night I flushed my month-old iPhone 4S down the toilet. Siri must have finally had enough of me asking her to tell me a story, or what's the inverse cosine of the arctangent of the square root of x from -1 to 1, or to remind me thirty times of my meeting with George in one minute. She just dove out of my loose 唐装 pocket at the moment of peak flush velocity. Slurp! It was a beautiful performance which my clutching hands could not follow.
So after calmly announcing to my boardgamemates that I'd just lost $600, sticking my arm up there, and being advised that "it's gone, man", I finished the game, eventually being punched out by an aging professor despite being invisible and having the revolver. Then I went straightaway to tell the internet about the hilarious loss. Just for fun, I decide to check iCloud's Find My iPhone feature. Well, what's this? Located 1 minute ago and still in the house? The phone clings to the plumbing, still alive! Quick, tell it to play a sound and display a message: "I'm drowning!"
Listening to the phone's desperate chimes for help, I located it to the back bend of the toilet trap and enlisted the small-wristed girls in the house to go toilet noodling. "You probably won't get your hand stuck in there. No, it's not dirty at all. It could be just a little further, so reach harder. Yeah, but your wrist is smaller than hers." My exploitative exhortations came to naught.
After a reader asked about why I don't use shower products on the cold showers post comments, I started thinking of other things people do or use that I find I don't need. Here's a short list, preceded by a disclaimer: I'm not a joyless robot, deranged workaholic, or dirty hippy, so don't start with the pattern matching of stereotypes and questioning of my humanity. I just like to experiment.
Dessert. I randomly decided to only eat one dessert (the French macarons at my wedding) in 2013, and it has been great. It's simpler this way: I never have to resist eating desserts, and I appreciate tasty non-dessert food more. Drawback: sometimes I have nightmares where I accidentally eat a cinnamon roll, or some baddies are chasing me and trying to shove donuts into my mouth.
Drinking things that aren't water. From an early age I never wanted to try soda or coffee, and this persisted to never trying alcohol, either. I eventually accidentally had a digestif on a romantic date with Chloe in Paris, but it was gross. I stopped drinking fruit juice because it's too sweet, milk because of experiments with cutting out dairy, and vegetable juice because it gives me gas. What else do people even drink? Tea, I guess--I drink that when Chloe makes it, but I honestly don't see much difference between tea and hot water. It's just easier to be content with water than to ever crave some other sort of beverage.
Shower products. I gave more details in this comment, but basically I found that after five weeks of not using shampoo, my grease production shut down and I no longer needed shampoo (just like the internet said would happen). I tested body wash on one half of my body for a while and so no difference, so stopped that. I cut out conditioner when I cut off my long hair, and I use a dry-shave electric razor, so I never used shaving cream. Showers are now quite straightforward.
A few months ago, I set out to test cold showers. Here's what I wrote for my experimental mission statement:
People are raving about what hormetic opponent process magic silver bullet it is to take cold showers. A little research gave supposed benefits of increasing circulation, mood, immunity, fertility, energy, exercise recovery, fat loss, mental alertness, pain and stress tolerance, cold tolerance, and skin and hair health. They're even supposed to stop depression and hair loss and tumors. I'm going to alternate two weeks of cold showers with two weeks of hot showers for the next two months and see what actually happens.
So excepting two days of each condition when traveling, every day for two months I woke up, did a 10-minute workout, immediately took a 7-minute shower, recorded my energy, mood, and shower discomfort, and took an 8-minute Quantified Mind battery. This wouldn't tell me anything about skin health and tumors, but it would get the main thing: does a cold shower begin one's day more vigorously than a hot shower?
There were no observable differences on any Quantified Mind tests, suggesting that the brain does not care about the water temperature.
Last week I set out to see how many hours of programming work I could do in one week on CodeCombat, our multiplayer programming game for learning how to code. I clocked in at 120.75 hours. Here's the epic time-lapse video I generated from Telepath (watch in 1440p if you can):
So what did I learn from this experiment?
Adjustable height desks are amazing.
I bought one from Ergo Depot a few days before. I must have switched between sitting and standing fifty times last week. I would never have survived otherwise.
Starting Monday morning at 04:00, and ending the next Monday at 03:59, I'm going to see how many hours of CodeCombat development I can do in one week. Not "hours at the office" (I work from home), not "hours on the computer doing productive things", but "hours on the computer developing CodeCombat". So I'll count things like writing code, building levels, writing documentation for said code and levels, etc., but not things like responding to CodeCombat emails or planning the business or meetings. I just won't do those things this week.
I spontaneously did a how-much-can-I-work week last year when I was deep into the Skritter iOS app and got 87.3 hours of general Skritter work. It was extremely fun, so I thought I'd do it again, but this time I've prepared for it. I've planned my meals, laid out my clothes, started waking up early, blocked email, bought an adjustable height sitting/standing desk, and readied other ridiculous preparations such as a stack of twenty bars of 90% dark chocolate.
I'm going to make a time lapse video of the whole week with no post-processing except for adding a music track. So if you're at all interested in seeing what it looks like to code this much, look for the video next Monday (or maybe Tuesday if I'm that tired afterward.) I adapted some open-source self-tracking software I wrote to serve as a time lapse heads-up-display dashboard thing that'll be more interesting to look at during the video than just my screen.
The time lapse will be fun for me and help keep me honest, since presumably at least a few people will watch the whole six minutes and would heckle me if I counted beastskills.com as work. I find it exhilarating to think about focusing deeply on code for a week with no distractions and overdosing on motivation to push deeper into the zone than I've ever gone before. (I hope that's what will happen.)
Originally posted on the CodeCombat blog.
What a crazy weekend! We launched our beta on Friday morning by posting to a few subreddits hoping to pick up a few more interested users who could play through our levels as we started to release new ones with the level editor we just finished. But we were not prepared for how many people would come check it out. We stayed #1 on all three subreddits for over a day, amassing 1466 points, 384 comments, and far too many players for our real-time multiplayer server to handle (forcing us to shut off the multiplayer and all server code synchronization). And that’s all before we were crushed the next day by what appeared to our beleaguered Scott as all of Brazil, or at least every Brazilian on Facebook. (Olá!)
With all the chaos trying to keep the server up and the bugs down, we slept little and prepared for the next day’s Startup School even less. We had been tapped for on-stage Y Combinator office hours with Paul Graham and Sam Altman. We watched a video of previous on-stage YC office hours and concluded that “office hours” really meant “eight minutes of two of the smartest startup guys in the world demolishing your idea in front of 1700 entrepreneurs and a live video stream”.
Fortunately for us, they liked our startup and were much nicer than we expected. In fact, as we were walking off stage thinking, “Hey, that went well—maybe we’ll get an interview!”—then Paul whispered something to Sam, who nodded, and they called us back.
Watch out: I use "I" 54 times in this post, so this will be boring if you, like me, aren't interested in hearing me talk about myself.
When I was in high school, I was so shy that I couldn't talk to almost anyone outside my family. Through a last-ditch effort when I went to college, I got better. I then got lucky and succeeded at a lot of things I tried after that, which rescued my general confidence, and I did some focused practice, rejection therapy, public speaking, and Beeminding to fix my social confidence.
But even though I'm no longer afraid to try, that doesn't mean that I can do it well. I still feel that I'm not usually a good conversationalist. I haven't had enough practice, especially since I have always spent most of my working time hacking in my lair instead of working socially. I started to practice things like this after the CFAR workshop in March, but put it on hold after getting married when I hurt my feet.
I'm finally recovered and can go outdoors again, so I spent this week practicing: three days of the hallway track at some conferences (plus moderating a discussion), two group classes, a social lunch, a party, hosting my cofounders for hacking, and a few video calls. I'm not completely socially exhausted--yeah, I threw the "introvert" label out of my identity a while ago--but I'm also not going to the second party tonight.
How did it go? I was trying to practice three things: