So what are your stories?
Some years ago, my friend and I decided to kick off the night by drinking some beer in a park, downtown Montreal. After a few minutes, it started raining like hell. We had to get inside somewhere and the closest place was a university building which was "fortunately" still opened. We went inside and walked by the security, each carefully dissimulating our beer through our jacket. After wandering some time through the hallways, we finally found an unlocked classroom to finish our booze. Once done, we slowly walked back to the main entrance. We would soon realize that time had flied by and the building was long closed.
Fortunately there was still a security guy. We kindly asked him if he could unlock the door for us. Of course, we looked somewhat drunk and he asked us, on an authoritative tone, what we were doing here. My friend came up with the lamest lie. The guy wasn't stupid and obviously knew we were hiding something. By that time, another security guy had came by. "I have to get us out of the shit", I thought to myself. I took all my courage and asked: "Ok, so you won't let us out just because we are gay?". The guy became visibly panicked, probably frightened to lose his job over homophobia. He almost apologized and quickly let us out. I was really proud of social engineering our way out of this delicate situation. My friend wasn't, he started yelling incoherently at me. I told him to get over it: "Who cares if he thinks you're gay? You're never going to see him again". I was wrong. Remember the second security guy who was standing there all along? It happened to be a friend of his very catholic father.
In high school, I had a rough time with family stuff and my grades started to slack. I knew that getting a scholarship would be crucial if I wanted to go to college in the future. However, my grades simply weren't going to cut it for the Florida Lottery Bright Futures scholarship. I needed a 3.5+ GPA, a 1250+ SAT score, and 60 hours of community service in order to get their best 100% scholarship.
At the rate I was going, my GPA wouldn't be near that.
So I did some research, and I found out that the Bright Futures Scholarship was also applicable to home schooled students. Intrigued, I researched a bit into what made up a home schooled student's GPA.
I found a legal loophole here. One of the ways that the State of Florida graded home schooled students was by letting them talk to a psychologist. The psychologist said you were performing at a grade level, and you graduated. Grades were simply "made up".
So I dropped out of high school end of sophomore year, and created my own home schooled program. Which basically consisted of building a boat, programming, and volunteering at ECHO (echonet.org)
In dropping out, I basically had two years to practice taking the SAT's in order to get above a 1270. I scored a 1280 and got a 100% free ride into any State school.
But by the time I'd spent 2 years out of the educational system, I'd decided a year of living in the rain forest would be better than partying at school. So I turned down the scholarship and moved to the Panamanian rain forest instead.
I dropped out my Sophomore year when I realized college was as lame as high school, and worked full time on entrepreneurship. Luckily I'd met an older guy who thought I was bright and a hard worker, so we business partnered and built a company that went through some iterations, and that paid my way through life. Later I went and paid cash to study business.
Motivation for moving there: Just something I felt like I needed to do. I kind of developed my own alternative college course, which consisted of traveling the world a bit and learning a few salable skills along the way.
Do I regret turning down the scholarship: Long story short, no. I knew I wanted to eventually be in business for myself, and I knew the field I was interested in (programming) wasn't being adapted quickly enough by higher education. I figured I'd be much better off coding my own projects and learning from there.
Basically, I had a realization that there were two types of people in the world: those who expected the world to act a certain way, (ie going to school, getting educated == guaranteed success) and those who supposed the world was open to influence (ie create your own reality).
I decided that I would rather take responsibility for creating my own world. It was definitely a painful experience at times, but has been worth it.
Now I'm working at a company I love doing incredibly challenging work with people who are incredible. So no, I don't regret it.
So a year in, I only managed to find 35 hours of work one week, so I called up HR and got that overhead number to put down for those extra 5 hours. Next day, I found myself in a meeting with my boss and his boss, being put on some form of probationary "hourly" status, working part time until I could get my workload back up to speed. I could work as few as 24 hours per week, and I'd only get paid for the hours I worked.
So naturally things picked up and soon I found myself working 50 and 60 hour weeks again, and amazingly, my new "hourly" status meant I was getting paid for all of them. HR sent up the necessary paperwork to get me back onto "Salaried" mode and I told them I'd get it right back to them.
1 month later, they sent that paperwork again, and I apologized for letting it go on so long.
Next month, my boss delivered it by hand and I promised to "get right on it."
Finally, after 180 days of billing 60 hour weeks and getting paid for all of it, I found myself back in that same room with my boss, his boss, and now his boss, all of whom wanting to know why I hadn't filled in that paperwork.
I laid out the math for them. Silence... Then uncontrolled laughter from all hands. Congratulations, son. But how about we fill out that paperwork right now?
The first meeting was because you dared to utilize their promise and get some time in return.
The second meeting was because their usual course of action in such first meetings backfired on them and you were in the room to get brought back into line (specifically, back onto salary.)
You didn't mention quitting in response or forcing them to give you a raise in acknowledgment of your efforts. Did you?
At least you were able to work the system there for a good six months. The vast majority of people finding themselves in that kind of work situation don't tend to fare nearly as well as you did.
Btw I learned from a high-up exec at a consulting firm that they make a good chunk of their money from the hours you work above 40. In his words: "that is pure profit"...because like you said, you only get paid for 40 as full-time employee. The consulting firm, though, bills by the hour.
HR took me aside and insisted I put down any hours of any day that I worked more than 8 hours as overtime -- at time and a half -- even if other days were less than 8. Yes, insisted!
Well that got me off to a good start, and ruined me for life! Not only did I not have to work 8 hours every day as long as the total was 40 hours per week, the more irregular my hours were, the more money I made! Now I just can't break that habit.
I doubt Oracle treats their summer interns so well.
Apparently, it's California law that hourly employees can only work 8 hours per day, and anything over 8 hours in a 24 hours period is "overtime."
I'm now at an internship with a software company in New York, where the rules are what I consider "normal": Anything over 40 hours in a week is considered overtime, no matter when it was worked. However, the company has a strict no-overtime policy without (hard-to-get) prior approval.
For me, this meant I spent more of my time working in CA, because I was rewarded, while in NY, I work 9 hour days four days a week, then take off after lunch on Friday for a 2.5 day weekend.
Probationary statuses are generally considered a bad thing in big companies, and are often used as a first step in building a case for termination. As a cog who's hoping to make a career in one of those big companies, you're expected to want to get off that bad status and back into "good worker" mode as quickly as possible. It had never occurred to anybody that they might have an employee who didn't care about internal promotion or their "career" at the company.
So no, the only reason they pushed it was that it was looking bad for them to have employees on the "underperforming" list. The fact that the penalty for underperformance was essentially a raise was something they had never even considered.
As someone who was almost put on a performance plan for coming to work late, you don't ever want to be put on a PP. Basically, my PP would have been documenting my arrival times for 30 days and if a fair number were out of a 5 minute tolerance range, the PP would be used as a next step for being fired. Basically, a PP is something you sign that is a contract on your job. It provides legal immunity to HR to fire you. Fortunately, my boss and his boss convinced me to shape up and realize what a sword of Damacles a PP is. I started arriving early and realized how laughably bad it looked when I arrived at my whatever times. Not only do you stick out but you make your bosses look bad. In the land of corporate conformity, not following the rules leads to bad things.
I am a developer and coming in late made little difference as I worked as many, or more, hours as everyone else. At the same time I was probably twice as productive as most of my peers. The CTO felt threatened by how easily I did my job so he wanted to bully me a bit so I wouldn't get a big head or something. He didn't expect me to suicide bomb him over it, but from my perspective I couldn't have that thing hanging over me so I handed in notice after giving it a night's sleep.
They were in a bit of trouble over it since I was a key team member and it was a big embarassment for the CTO, I even felt a little bad for him, hopefully it taught him a thing or two.
Having worked help desk jobs, usually as the 'overnight' guy, I was personally the person that was screwed over when people showed up late, as I couldn't leave the desk unmanned.
Regardless, showing up late, when you've agreed to show up at a certain time, is rude, at the very best. Not every employer care, or will even tie you to a schedule, but if you're on one, disregarding it as nonsense doesn't sound like the best way to stay employed.
But that's something we try to avoid as a team, not some corporate policy managers can hide behind to screw you over and/or cover their asses.
Just .... wow...
Given how often the bigger companies are so focused on 'bottom line numbers', it's really a bit surprising that no one ever looked at that.
"you're expected to want to get off that bad status and back into "good worker" mode as quickly as possible".
THAT I can totally understand.
UPDATE: wr1472 explains the situation below. Sorry for the confusion.
Here's one: How to deal with the police. Their work is boring and it's not unusual for them to go long stretches of time without being paid. They see you coming up the road-- They're curious and you look interesting. They motion for you to pull over and unless you've managed to get so close that you can plausibly claim you didn't see the baton waving you'd better obey them.
The hack: For goodness sake don't sit their dumbly and wait for them to speak up! If you do they'll have to justify pulling you over. "Document!", and you're screwed. The next thirty minutes are spent going through your papers and your belongings while they look for any pretense to hit you up for a fine/bribe. Yes, it's corrupt, but understand that is the only way of life for them. Empathy and understanding will get you much further than casting judgment.
Be the first to speak. Raise your helmet visor, smile and ask for help of some kind. Even something as simple as, "Skolka kilometer Volgograd?" will do. When they answer, nod, smile, shake their hand and say, "Speciba."
There's a 75% chance you're done and you can go on your way. The remaining 25% involves a longer conversation with limited English (and compliment them on their English no matter what) and pointing out your route on a map and where you're going. They may offer you a drink or to share a meal. Feel free to do so if you have time.
I never once paid a bribe which must be some kind of record.
He had just moved to New York from a Texas border town in the 70s. Being a starving grad student, he was a white guy living in Spanish Harlem, a pretty sketchy neighborhood at the time.
When walking home at night, he'd avoid the sidewalks and walk in the street so that he was less of a target and could see people coming.
One night he was walking home and saw three tough looking guys notice him and veer off the sidewalk to follow him. They were walking behind him and gaining fast.
Instead of running, he turned, and, in flawless Spanish (learned from his days growing up on the US-Mexico border) greeted them, told them he was lost, and asked them for help finding his way.
He said the guys looked slightly confused before one offered help, and the three guys ended up walking him to his door to make sure he got home safely.
It was his first time at NY, and he didn't know which neighbourhoods were safe, so he went driving his rental car through some shady neighbourhood - and of course some shady looking individuals approached him.
He quickly asked in Spanish for directions, and the guys told him not to come back, as this was an "unsafe neighbourhood" and "their territory".
When I went out the train, I've put my worried face and I walked hurriedly to the guy on the exit gates (there's always a guy manually opening the door). When I got fairly near, I flashed my travel card asking in a worried voice "What's the quickest way to Terminal A?" Worked like a charm.
By the way, people's tendency to misspell things the way they sound is what allows philologists to figure out how proununciation worked in past centuries.
Thank you! Interesting!
If you did what I did, you first assumed that kilometer was the same in both languages, then that Volgograd was a proper noun (due to being capitalized) and used the context of 'pointing to a map' to infer that it was a place of some kind. That means that Skolka is a question word due to the question mark at the end of the sentence. From there, it's hardly a stretch to assume that Skolka means something like 'how many', because there aren't many questions involving distance and a place that it would make sense to ask.
The context of smiling and shaking their hand means that "Speciba" is a word expressing appreciation, so you can confidently translate it as something like "thanks."
I was always flying in economy but I would check in on line and print my real boarding pass, then modify the PDF of the boarding pass and change it to a seat in business with whatever other indications where necessary for a genuine business class passenger (e.g. the word BUSINESS or PREMIUM in big letters). I got all that information by picking up a discarded boarding pass at the airport.
Then I could arrive at the airport and skip all the lines using my fake boarding pass to go down the special business class channel and then use my real boarding pass to board the plane.
I only did this at airports where boarding passes were manually verified.
Also would be a pretty good hack to do some duty-free shopping in the international terminal - at security they usually only seem to glance at your boarding pass and wave you through. Who's to say you don't just go shopping and walk back out the arrivals exit?
When I was in highschool, Burger King ran this "checkers" game, where you'd get a card with a little checkerboard on it, then scratch your way across it by picking squares until you either lost or won a prize. The one feature they advertised was that "Every card is a winner", meaning that if you picked the right path you were guaranteed to win something.
A friend had a sister who worked at a Burger King, so he picked up a huge stack of these cards and spent a night scratching off all the spaces from all of them. It turned out they had a control code at the bottom that could be correlated back to the card configuration, so he was able to put together a cheat sheet that had the winning moves for every code.
All that month, meals for every kid in the school would consist of walking into Burger King, asking for a "Complimentary Game Card", which they were legally obligated to provide. Then, after a minute of consultation at a table, returning to the counter: "Looks like I won a small fries. And could I have another game card?"
Fun times. The kid who discovered the pattern claimed to have won a Carribbean Cruise.
The kicker was that BK would give you the free Whopper...and a receipt for the free Whopper. And the cycle continues.
I don't really remember how, but I figured out that the scratch-off paint on the winning tickets had a slightly jagged edge.
My aunt couldn't beleive it, nor could the seller: she would buy me the first ticket, I'd pick it out, scratch it and use the proceeds to buy another one. This went on for a few days... After my aunt bought me the first one, I'd proceed going through the whole stack until I picked out all the winning tickets.
Unfortunately, the best I could do is win back the money invested, as the most frequent prize amount was the price of the ticket.
I wonder if they ever got any value out of it? BK did become the high-school hang-out after that. I just wonder if that's a good thing for people trying to run a business.
I knew something was up when the teller at my bank noticed the client's name and said they would have to verify the check (check was drawn on a different bank) And of course it was revealed there were non sufficient funds.
Bad check in hand, I went to his bank and tried to cash it, knowing they would not do so. Sure enough, the teller apologized and asked me to contact the client for resolution. Maybe it was her sympathetic tone that prompted me to ask, but she revealed the account was only $18 short of clearing. So I pulled $18 out of my pocket and asked her to deposit it on behalf of that account. She then cashed my check for $2,850.
The client called a few days later, very angry, because several of his checks to "more important" people had bounced instead. His business failed a few months later.
So I ask the other temp, "How do you do this?" And he says, "Well, right now I decided to find sports sites, so I just search for the word 'football' and click each result, scroll down, and see if there is a counter over 100,000." I said, "How many do you usually find?" He says, "Yesterday, I found 6."
I did this for about 2 minutes until I got smart. I searched for 'You are visitor number' and instantly got only sites with counters. Within a few hours I had logged a ton of sites. At the end of that day, they fired the other temp and asked me to work full time, but the agreement with the temp agency said that they couldn't hire me for 90 days after they let me go. So, they fired me and told me that I could work from home as an independent contractor for the 90 day period. They would pay me to keep finding sites, and offered to pay me $10 per site that I found for up to 50 sites per week ($500). They had no idea I was able to find sites so quickly.
I spent the next 90 days building a Rage Against the Machine fan site with my friend at home and, every Friday, I'd spend 20 minutes logging 50 sites using my "You are visitor number" technique, drive into the office, drop off my list, and collect my $500 check that they thought I had worked all week to earn.
My teacher was a good sport about it and demanded that the department transfer me into computer science. I spent the rest of the year ignoring some over-engineered OO fishtank.
On the last day of class, before she turned in the grades, she offered to let me write an essay in exchange for 1 point. I decided practicality in this case was better than stubbornness and wrote the essay. I believe I chose a theme of practicality, stubbornness, compassion, and compromise.
Is it still around? ;)
Then one year I had a proposal rejected on the grounds that what I was proposing was impossible to do on the budget I had allocated. That's when I decided to quit and do something else.
So I came up with a plan. Whenever a conversation would switch to English in this way I'd lay on a really thick accent, use lots of slang and idiomatic phrases, and generally try and make things difficult for the other person to understand. The result was often that the other person would look puzzled and the conversation would switch back to German. Eventually I learned how to pronounce things in a way that didn't immediately betray me as a foreigner, but this trick helped a good bit in the beginning.
One I'm proud of but might not be counted as a hack here (not exactly naughty, but good for blowing people's minds, so similarly satisfying to me): Amicable divorce without lawyers. Saved probably tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers fees and had the added bonus that since we didn't lawyer up, we weren't getting antagonistic "cover your ass" advice from lawyers. This meant there was more money to go around (and less paranoia), so we both were able to refrain from squabbling about the small stuff and say "whatever makes it easiest for you". I had people tell me I was crazy to trust my ex but I got a lot more money out of it than I otherwise would have (more than I could have legally insisted on had I fought with him).
We went to the courthouse together to file the papers. The person behind the counter was telling him "you need to do yadda yadda". I guess they thought I was his new love interest, not the future ex. He turned to me and said something like "Did you hear that? You need to sign here." I signed there while the person behind the counter tried to pick their eyeballs back up off the floor. I guess they had never seen anything like it before.
2) Stay focused on your goal. It no longer matters if the other person "understands" you and all that touchy-feely nonsense. That stuff matters if you are staying together, not if you are going your separate ways. So this means do not take any digs whatsoever at them. Bite your tongue. It isn't worth it (and not doing it is worth quite a lot of money as well as other improvements in quality of life -- an ugly divorce can really make life hard for quite a lot of reasons).
3) The seminal moment where we agreed to divorce set the tone for the entire divorce. We were having the same stupid fight for about the 200th time (actual estimation, not hyperbole) and I stopped screaming at him and quietly said "I don't want to do this anymore. I'm tired of hurting you. I'm tired of being hurt. I think we have both given it our best. If we could do this dance, we would have figured it out by now (we had been married ~17 years). I want a divorce." He was relieved and agreed, something he had not done on any of the occasions where I screamed and cried and shouted "I want a divorce!", which he had accurately interpreted roughly to mean "God, quit hurting me so much". So we agreed to divorce as the only kind thing left to do for each other -- set each other free -- rather than as a means to reject the other person. This means we both worked cooperatively to try to minimize financial damage and the like. If we wanted to make each other miserable, we could have stayed together. We were both very talented at making each other miserable.
4) I also had a class at some point on "Negotiation and conflict management". Getting to Yes and The heart and mind of the negotiator (or mind and heart -- never can keep that straight) were required texts. The first one is short, the second one a lot meatier.
5) Read up on the concept of "prisoner's dilemma" and realize that unlike actual prisoners, you aren't forbidden from talking to each other -- unless you lawyer up and have some lawyer whispering evil things in your ear about covering your ass and telling you to keep your mouth shut.
6) Realize this won't likely work in a genuinely abusive situation. My marriage was tragic, not abusive. Sometimes, covering your ass is the best thing to do.
Showing not by talking, writing to each one of potentially interested one by one. Showing in ebook. And sell it. Not cheaply. This kind of information has its worth.
To help some people to save stress, time and money and earn money by yourself.
Hmm, poor lawyers. :)
The lesson I have learned: When people used to accuse me of being egomaniacal, they meant "I think it can be done, just not by you (bitch)". Now they accuse me of being a liar, charlatan and snake oil salesman, which apparently means they don't think it can be done by anyone at all, not even with the help of the right scientists, doctors, research facilities and hospitals, much less by some loudmouthed brassy broad, former homemaker and financially challenged divorcee. They just can't wrap their brain around it. A webcomic may be the only hope I have of actually educating people and has some hope of paying my bills as well, which is pretty darn important to me.
"Know thyself". The whole save-the-world, goodie-two-shoes, I-just-want-to-HELP schtick is really so not working for me. It's not like I haven't tried.
I'll change the emphasize. You have great product at the hand. Product which can earn you money. Period.
Passive income. For you.
How many pages does the book need to be?
How much can/should I charge for it?
How on earth would I promote it?
Where can I find such info?
I have always wanted to be a writer but at the moment my one and only goal is to figure out how to make money from home so I can leave my job and move elsewhere. I'm really not sold (on the idea that I can make money telling people how to not lawyer up). But I am most certainly hoping and praying for some idea that will make me some fast cash so I can be out of here early next year, which is not far away at all.
You do live there.
> How many pages does the book need to be?
For starters you have to consider state by state differences in law. You can consider staying at high level of abstraction and target all US at once. Second option is to cover these high level matters first and describe details latter, probably state by state.
> How much can/should I charge for it?
The real answer is to test prices. Search HN. There were some disscussions about setting prices.
> How on earth would I promote it?
Where do people interested in divorce concentrate? How to reach them there?
> Where can I find such info?
On the internet? Using your common sense? Asking here?
Btw. some lawyers will be upset by such information reaching public. Take this into account and cover your bases. Don't skimp here, it's for your protection. IANAL etc.
1) People tend to speak highly of my writing ability -- even published authors and publishing company founders -- and I have had what began as an email of mine on a list wind up being quoted (after much editing) in a book.
2) I tend to be very polarizing: People either love me or hate me. Not much in between. The only thing I have found so far that reduces the amount I get attacked is to go out of my way to avoid public praise. This isn't a real good tactic for advertising something but has worked well for helping to encourage a budding grass roots movement for folks who are really deathly ill and whom all the experts have written off.
3) People find me provocative, which is generally a bad thing if you are trying to be helpful. In the entertainment industry, "provocative" is a good thing. I also tend to be a ham, which is something I find I have to seriously tone down when trying to "give advice". That isn't working well for me. My sense of humor is critical to my ability to cope effectively, so it is practically lying for me to give advice without a few (er, a few zillion) tongue-in-cheek, humorous observations thrown in.
4) Comedians are the people with the socially accepted role for making the kinds of social observations I am very good at making. Giving people that information straight up really, really bombs. I know: I've been doing it for years (and going down in flames for it, over and over). The serious version of my observations goes over about as well as dousing someone in gasoline and setting them on fire.
Anyway, I would love it if you were right and I could easily make big bucks this way (or even enough little bucks to leave my job). But it isn't fitting with my understanding of the direction I need to go.
But it could provide enough little bucks and recognition to make the handful of hours it took to produce your product more than worthwhile.
Passive income is a great thing.
I wish I was so polarizing. Being able to cleanly tell who hates me and who loves me would help me find my audience/customers quicker.
I wouldn't count writing something like this as 'easy', but it's definitely do-able.
The self-help field is full of crap; you sound like you might have something useful to add!
Site which sells ebook about parrots for example.
Which population is bigger? Parrot lovers or potentially divorced?
This is no brainer.
You should really do an ebook/book on this. Your subsequent post was very well-written, and it have a good income/effort ratio.
When lawyers were involved, it was always because the romance had become visceral hatred and one or both parties wanted to antagonize the/each other.
Thank you for providing some balance!
FWIW: In the state we were in, he wasn't allowed to deliver the papers to me. He looked up the options and we basically drove to his place of work one morning, he took the papers in to a coworker and the two of them walked back out with the coworker holding the papers. I signed them on the trunk of the car, while the poor coworker looked incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.
After my husband moved out and went to another state, at some point, I left that state with my two kids in tow. At that point, it came up that if my ex wanted to be an ass, I could be in big trouble for taking the kids out of the state without his prior permission. Fortunately, he chose to not make an issue of it but it was something that was a bit of a heart-stopping, you-must-be-kidding-me moment.
Can't think of anything else in particular. Hope that helps.
My last year of college I was low on funds, so at the beginning of each term I would go to the school library and see if they stocked any of the textbooks. I could usually find 1 or 2. I'd check them out and keep them the whole term, paying only a $5 late fee - vs. the $100 textbook cost. (In case you think this is inethical, based on the past checkout records, nobody ever checked these books out)
Hack I wish I'd thought of: A college buddy spent the first day of summer vacation going into all the bars in downtown Portland and getting info about their happy hours. He had every day of the week mapped out and got dinner and a beer for $1/night.
Additionally, both colleges would put any textbook that was for a class on "reserve" so you could only have access to it for several hours at a time, and students DEFINITELY used it. I don't believe that no other student in the class wanted your textbook.
No correct answers were 'C'.
I am, however, under the impression that if what you want to do (as here) is to minimize the probability that you get completely shafted by having had the test-setter choose answers complementary to yours, you should choose yours in a way that makes that probability low. Random choices are a very effective way of achieving that. [EDITED to add: not because "a random key fits a random lock" but rather the reverse: with non-negligible probability the test-setter is not choosing at random but in some relatively low-Kolmogorov-complexity way, and you want to keep away from those parts of the outcome space.] Of course, having a really good model of the test-setter's decision process would be even better, but if you had that you'd just use it to ace the test.
 I initially missed out the word "probability". I edited it in. Sorry.
If you think he was stupidly wrong to issue the original challenge, downvote that. If you think he was right to issue the original challenge and stupidly wrong to back down when I argued, downvote me since presumably I'm even wronger. But what the hell sense does it make to downvote someone for being prepared to change his mind in the face of disagreement?
Incidentally #1: For an exposition of Eliezer's slightly-unconventional (but, for the avoidance of doubt, neither insane nor desperately ignorant) views on randomized algorithms, and some interesting discussion, see http://lesswrong.com/lw/vp/worse_than_random/ and http://lesswrong.com/lw/vq/the_weighted_majority_algorithm/ .
Incidentally #2: For the multiple-choice test, even better than choosing random answers is to choose random answers and them check them for low Kolmogorov complexity (in so far as that's possible; there are some theorems restricting it) and generate new random answers if the results are bad. You could turn this into a not-at-all-random algorithm that performs even better, given sufficient (vast) computing power: enumerate, and execute, all "cheap enough" computations that produce sets of answers; use this to put some suitable probability distribution on answer-sets (so that answers generated by cheaper computations are more probable, and then (deterministically) choose your answers to minimize the probability of failure. This is the kind of thing Eliezer has in mind when he claims that every randomized algorithm can be beaten by a derandomized one.
In fact, according to the recent reddit thread, some test designers are encouraged to enforce equal proportions of each option. While stupid, it lowers the threshold to n=3 or so.
I spent like five minutes trying to figure out what a programming language had to do with engineering dynamics.
barry.melton@google's mail service.com
Cutting the margin down still covers costs considerably, but happy hours are a 'loss leader' to get you in to a bar that would otherwise be less occupied, and perhaps as a signal for those driving by looking for a 'happening' bar, which is usually done toward the end of happy hour.
There might also be motivation to get you somewhat drunk so that you'll stay after happy hour and not realize that you're paying full price for beers.
Happy hour has been illegal in Massachusetts since 1984.
The stupid EU put an end to it by changing the gambling laws and prohibiting casinos to give out coupons for chips - someone might get addicted - instead the new coupons allowed free entry and a drink, but until then it worked like a charm.
The casino people were a little freaked out at first, shooting us suspicious looks but after three weeks they got used to us...;-)
We did not really have an optimal betting strategy, at least nothing that can be proven scientifically, there is no such thing. But after some time we started to bet on the wheel, e.g. "Voisins du zero" or "Jeu zero" and we knew all the croupiers and some of them had an unbelievable regular way of running the ball and spinning the wheel and the ball would thus drop in a slightly more predictable area of the wheel - at least when it hit one of the bumpers and would then drop into the wheel. So we waited with our bet until our favourite croupier would throw the ball from a place, where we felt it should land close to the zero and call a zero game.
Naturally that did not always work and we'd have losing streaks of even two weeks where we went home without any money at all, but once a month or so we'd go out with over a hundredfifty euros. On average we did slightly better than expected (400 were admittedly the better months, sometimes it was a little less than three hundred), but we remained ahead even after a long time, so my guess is we were either lucky or the idea of predicting according to the croupiers regularity worked. We had the feeling it worked on two of the ten croupiers the others threw less regular.
Anyway it was definitely more fun than just whitewashing the chips. (One was not allowed to immediately exchange the "lucky" chips one would get for the coupons for money.)
Ah, but there is.
This was first done by people from MIT I believe.
Recently I ran across another book about the same group,
"The Predictors: How a Band of Maverick Physicists Used Chaos Theory to Trade Their Way to a Fortune on Wall Street"
When they asked me for "something to have lunch with", I'd lower my voice and say "it's not possible now" then quickly glance at the person behind me.
Neither I nor them had to pay anything.
I am guessing corrupt officials basically request money from you for no reason- and it's expected you give it to them (for no reason as well). Then, they just call it a "bribe". But I'm guessing... pardon my cultural ignorance.
I also had a computer hardware class in high school that the teacher would often leave for extended periods of time. The other students and I get enough systems running and scrounged a router so that we could play multiplayer Warcraft II during class (which was an old game even back then). We pulled this off for about a month before we got caught. It turned out the teacher really didn't care anyway.
When I lived in rural Mexico, I used to tape pictures of Jesus to the outside of my packages that I sent home so that the shady people in the mail system wouldn't mess with them.
My old boss used to add useless revisions every time that I sent him an email saying that part of a project was finished such as "Change the font up to 12px on that navigation please. What? It's already at 12? Can you make it 12 and a half? No, 13px is way too big but I want it bigger than 12 so just fix it OK?"...yeah, that guy. Anyway, I found that if I sent him emails at the end of the day, he would not read them until the following morning when he had the most emails to respond to. Therefore, sending him finished tasks at the end of the day meant fewer useless revisions. I found that outlook has a "delay delivery" setting so as I finished tasks through the day, I would que them to send at about 7:30 at night, when I could be sure that he wasn't working. Lo and behold, the endless revisions went down by about 90% and I got a lot more stuff done.
All of the professors in the science department at my university would tape lists of their student's IDs and their test grades outside their office through out the semester including finals. When looking for classes for the following semester, I just had to look at which professors gave better grades on average and sign up for their classes. The difference was quites staggering.
Some professors consistently failed roughly half of their students while others would have over 3/4 the class with A's consistently. Granted, there were some variable to consider like which course was being taught and the fact that some groups of students are sometimes simply better performers than others. But there was no way I was going to see that kind of data displayed publicly and not take advantage of it.
Oh, it absolutely works these days; it's even easier. My undergraduate institution publishes median grades for each course.
There's a bit of an uproar though because they're going to start printing the median grades on students' transcripts...
This does not hold true for large classes where the median grade is an A, however; those are usually genuinely easier.
I started saving all of my questions for him until these pass-by's. I started giving him so much more stuff, that he began seeing me coming and would jokingly say "Oh, piss off!"
I later heard of another colleague who would answer an additional job request with the question "Okay, what DON'T you want me to do?"
I noticed this when we let the building for lunch: the door was automatically opened as we walked towards it. When we got back from lunch, being the curious ten year old I was, I tried to figure out how it worked. It turns out they had a motion detector pointing in front of the door, and whenever it detected motion, the magnetic locks on the door would open.
So, I asked my father for a stack of paper, went to the elevator room on the locked side of one of these doors, and for thirty minutes made paper airplanes and threw them through the crack in the middle of the double doors until I found out how to make a plane which would expand enough to trip the motion detector. After another half hour of practice, it would only take one or two throws to trip the detector.
The next time I visited his work, and after a few emails to the building security, the cracks in all the doors were sealed.
I've been interested in security ever since then.
Then I stole a conference room called Battle Ship, moved into it with my big purple chair, end table and lamp, renamed it Pirate Ship, and repurposed it as a library for quiet hacking. I posted to the company group, "I sank your battleship," with a humorous story, and it was a hit. I drew a sketchup file of a remodeled room with pyramid foam like at YC, an egg chair, and a data scientist brain washing video on a pull down screen from the overhead projector. I knew I was at the right company when the official response was to rebuild the room to my design (it was even dirt cheap to do so). We brainwashed our first candidate this week.
Finally I promoted myself because I didn't like my old title. That's going well so far.
Probably none of this would have gone as well without a supportive boss running cover I never saw, but if you mean well, are a type A, and are totally committed... at most companies you can get away with anything that advances the mission. As in all walks of life you have to sell.
Shenanigans like these taught me how the system operates, so now I can get real things done the same way.
Rubyists, javscript hackers, the data obsessed, information designers... all badly needed.
During J-School I found a letter to the editor in a neighborhood paper from someone complaining about the busted up sidewalks. I decided to do a story about it and needed to interview the original letter writer. Unfortunately the paper only published her first name, "Judy" and no contact info.
I found the piece of sidewalk in question. Stopped, turned, and looked around at the 4 high-rise appt. buildings across the street. I pulled out my notebook, wrote "Please let Judy know a reporter is here to talk about the sidewalks with her," on it, walked into the fanciest, snootiest building, gave it to the doorman, and 15 minutes later, the writer of the letter to the editor "Judy" came down and did the interview. I got my source.
I was pretty sure the writer of such a letter would have to be well-off and cantankerous enough to be top-of-mind with her doorman.
I ended up having 5 8 meg ADSL lines and almost the entire block on the network, each getting 512k-2mbit for £10 a month and a nice profit margin too!
At places where I don't get a business card, I borrow one from the executives and have it cloned at a card shop with my own info. Usually I will get two or three boxes each with different titles and then pass these out at conferences with a title appropriate to whatever I am discussing with someone.
Speaking of conferences, I have never asked for permission to go to them. I just do, and then submit expenses.
I give them out all of the time at conferences and other grad students here are always surprised that I have "official" university business cards.
In certain cases it's far easier to apologise later than ask for permission first.
Its attributed to Grace Hopper, a Rear Admiral in the Navy and a programmer.
More recently my friend and I wanted to throw an Ubuntu release party (also my birthday party) so we decided to walk around campus and recruit Ubuntu Girls. It was surprisingly easy, we wore Ubuntu shirts and hats and just walked up and asked "have you ever modeled before?" invariably they giggle and say no then we follow with something to the effect of "I don't believe it!" and "would you like to try for a good cause?" We ended up with 5 really fun girls to serve the drinks at the party. We are part of the Florida Ubuntu Team but we did it all on our own, we even had to print our own shirts (which was the only payment for the girls).
Being the absent minded person that I am, I'd often lose these cards, pay some extra amount to get a new card, and then find the old cards in my pocket, in a bag etc. The old cards wouldn't work in the main cafeteria but they'd transfer the cash amount you had into the new card (minus the card fee) for you. However, they would work in the coffee vending machines. It turns out they actually stored the cash value in the cards!
So, I ended up loading a large sum of money in a card, "losing" it, and me and my friends had free coffee and hot chocolate for the better part of the most academically challenging two years of my life.
I was bored one Saturday night and didn't have anything to do. I'd also struck out on a date recently and wanted to get some positive momentum going on that front.
There's a club near my neighborhood that always has a long line and is quite popular. So I got spiffed up, went over there, and waited ACROSS THE STREET from the club, watching the line.
About 10 minutes later, I see a gaggle of late 20s women round the corner and start heading toward the back of the line. One of them had a tiara on so this was clearly a bachelorette party. I speed walked to the back of the line myself and got just in front of the five of them.
I kept my back to them, stood squarely in their way, and held up the line on purpose while I looked at my phone. This got me a jab in the back from the bride-to-be. I turned with a big smile on my face to mess with her and her friends.
15 minutes later, one of them paid my cover to get into the club, I had a beer with them. Then I excused myself to "go meet up with some other friends" set up a lunch date with one and got her phone number. We went out a few days later. It didn't go anywhere, but next time I'm in that situation, I have a go-to spot now.
For a while we'd fly back and forth between the US and England every few months, and we did a bunch of traveling to allow the return restrictions to expire.
Finally we got fed up and simply moved to Spain, where neither one of us is allowed to live, but they just don't check very hard. Lived there for a little over a year, coming and going as we pleased with never an issue with immigrations.
I, however, was the stereotypical undocumented alien, living in the country illegally, not learning the language or integrating with the culture, stealing jobs from the local economy, sneaking across the border into the land of opportunity.
The crux was finding a way to live together for long enough to decide whether we wanted to do so for good. Spoiler Alert: We did.
I started a practice of messing my station with something really easy to finish up before inpection. Maybe a blob of mayo on the counter. Worked like a charm.
I've also applied this concept to software for clueless clients. I've only recently learned that it's called a Duck.
 http://goo.gl/yDgC (stack overflow)
Phase I: Got up very early and signed up for a (very overbooked) ME class that included lab time in the machine shop, something I knew would be a lot of fun (been hanging around and working in shops for years).
Turns out the class was a pre-req for a very popular ME class involving a robot competition that all the seniors wanted. Due to the overbooking, limited lab space, and the pre-req status, the prof decided to give preference to the upperclassman that didn't have any other chance to get the class in. As the only freshman, I was out. As were all the sophomores.
But I didn't pout or run off like the others did. I stayed long enough to take the first day shop tour, where I put phase II of my plan in play.
I'd been hanging around the lab/shop in question off and on for several weeks before and had gotten friendly with Marty, the shop instructor. When he saw me in the class tour and learned that I was out because of the overbooking, he offered to the prof to stretch the shop rules and let me in anyway (knowing that I wouldn't require much supervision).
Victory over the system as a freshman!
Needless to say, many of the sophomores came by and griped about it later. I'm not sure if they were mad at me for bending the rules, or themselves for not thinking of it first.
Every hour we'd have someone come over and check the little counter on our screens to make sure we were doing at least 12 per hour.
So I screenshotted the software, took it into MS-Paint and edited the counter to read 12, and every time they came around I'd just alt-tab to the screenshot and they were never the wiser.
I had a terrible supervisor at work. He would send incomprehensible one-line emails that he dumped into his Blackberry at all hours. They would usually be some unimportant and ridiculous task for me to do. At first, I would stress out trying to do them all to a high level. I eventually started replying immediately to the email with the short, cryptic message "Need more detail." That put the ball back in his court, and of course he'd never send anything back.
In college I worked in housekeeping. Every summer we would refinish the floors of various sections of the campus. Invariably someone would get past the signs and barriers and walk on the freshly waxed floors. So one summer I'd had enough and decided to do something about it. We set all the barriers up as usual with one small change. We posted an additional sign up somewhere where they could only see it if they were already standing on the waxed floor. The sign read "Congratulations. You have just cost the school 300 dollars" I had calculated the cost of footprints in the floor based off of man hours and materials. The next day I was called into Comptrollers office. He was holding the sign and having trouble being serious while scolding me. Apparently the dean of the college had brought it into him.
Also in college I hacked into the school network (microsoft network so it wasn't hard). I didn't actually do anything that would get me in trouble like change grades or move money around. (yes I had full access to the financial records) I just got the utility they used to bypass the school web proxy. I left a message for the IT department so they could close the holes but they never did.
I also learned to pick locks in college. Most of the professors had personal locks on their doors and kept whatever hours they pleased. They still wanted their office vacuumed and trash emptied though. My solution was to pick the locks to their office. They never found out but there wasn't a room in that college I couldn't get into. Only one lock gave me trouble but I just went over the ceiling for that one. :-)
The temp agency had a computerized test for Office, which displayed a real Office UI and a text bar above that would say things like "Now, print this document." If you selected anything other than File, Print, it would immediately score against you and move on. Whoever wrote the program thought they were pretty clever to have it register a mistake once you picked a menu option, and not to let you hunt around for the right answer.
I soon realized that as long as I kept the mouse button down, I could move the cursor through all the menus without triggering a "selected" event. By going through the menus I found the answers easily, and I was able to score 99% on the test (the one error I made happened before I figured out the cheat).
Oh, and the company I went to work for hired me from the temp agency.
The structure of the dining hall was this: There were several tables outside the building, and more tables directly inside, and then there was the entrance to the kitchen/buffet area with the food. On the right side of the entrance, there was a cashier who swiped people's cards as they came in. People would go in, get a tray of food, and come out to eat; later, they might bring their tray back in for more food. Those who went back in just passed by the cashier to the left; you didn't have to pay twice to get seconds.
So, here's what I did: Send in a friend, who picks up two trays at once (still stacked; it looks almost the same as a single tray) with an extra plate (again, stacked under another) and comes out. Out at the table, I take his extra tray, put an extra plate on it, maybe scrub a bit of food on it, put on his lanyard, and carry the tray "back" in to get "seconds". No one ever questioned me.
Treat the velvet rope as a suggestion. Walk on in casually and confidently as though you have 100% right to be there, half the time nobody will stop you...especially if you are dressed properly.
My favorite place to go is the women's bathroom. They always have soap, paper towels and usually something like hair gel or other amenities. Men's bathrooms have nothing, plus women are cool about it.
I never understood the segregated bathroom idea.
So, I imagine you can guess how I took the exam. After writing an running few scripts, my final exam scores showed that I took the exam 31 times: The first 30 times (as I was collecting questions and their answers) I received 0% and each exam took ~30 seconds. On the 31st exam I got 100% and it took ~45 seconds.
As you would expect, I got an A+ for the course. I never did bring it up to the prof.
In a similar vein, in my astronomy course we had online quizes and one type of question asked us to identify a picture. Viewing the page's source would occasionally reveal the the picture's filename, e.g. "sagittarius.gif".
So all you had to do was get the first question right (if you didn't save 1 answer, it would generate a new quiz for you), exit the quiz, then reopen it and collect all the answers to the quiz. Then before exiting the quiz, disconnect from the internet. When you opened it up again you'd fill in questions 2-10 with the correct answers.
Also, all pc's were numbered corresponding to their network name. You can reboot pc's via netsend. Much fun was had :) This went on until we could print on the machines of the principal + other higher-up stuff. We never dared doing that though.
...then I went to college and got an email from one of the sysadmins telling me I had a virus and that I should use [random windows antivirus]. I was using IRC on Ubuntu on a non-standard port. I got a really sour reply from the sysadmin upon telling him that.
So naturally I wrote a program that scripted mouse/keyboard movements with searching and changing in-memory variables used by Flash. It solved games 20-30 times faster than I could, without me even being at the computer (I ran it 24/7 on an old desktop).
Eventually other people started doing this too and the hole was plugged. But I received quite a few free copies of Vista Ultimate and Xbox360 controllers that found their way on ebay.
Overall, Club Live was a brilliant strategy. Despite horrible execution it still succeeded in ratcheting up the pressure on Yahoo by demonstrating that MS was willing to buy market share. With minimal cash reserves and no product of its own to put through the channel there was no way for Yahoo to compete. There sure were a lot of things they could have done better though.
We had some old IPX based LAN, where every's pupil's disk was remotely hosted on the server, and once you turn computer on, it asks you for your login/password. After you are logged in, you have your own D: drive where all only yours files located. This had been done after several pupil's claims that they had done some task before, and someone just deleted their files.
Our teacher had "admin" login password, which allowed him to access all files on server.
On the first class, he explained all of this to us. Friend of mine tried to do jokes and asked "And what if some pupil will hack somehow network and will get his hands on admin login/password?". Teacher told, that he will give A mark for the rest of length of this course (i.e. from 7th class to 11th class - 4 years!)
Long story short - I have wrote small program on assembler, which was essentially what today called "keylogger". It was running residentially, intercepting some msdos interrupt (used to execute program), checking which program is about to start, and if it is "login.exe" - log all keypresses into a file.
The problem was - there were no floppy drives (for security reason), and at this time - no USB too (it was back in 1997). So I printed out the whole source on small peace of paper (1/4 of A4) and entered it line by line in Turbo Pascal IDE. Luckily, I had TASM there, as a part of Turbo Pascal. That's it - entered and compiled right on machine.
I had to wait a bit until teacher used machine I was studying at, but eventually he did it and I had his login/password.
I disclosed in full all of this to teacher and he kept his word - I never attended this class and had A mark till end of the school =)Freed some time for "real" hacking =))
I cut my teeth doing Z80 ASM hacking on a Timex Sinclair and had no patience for this required class.
I wrote all my assignments in C and dumped the intermediate output. The grader always gave me nice comments like "well structured code."
That said, I did read the manual and figured out how to make my solution call his solution, but I couldn't use that because the TAs were smarter than that and the teacher was very interested in anyone who could beat his solutions by even one byte.
When I was in college we had only one printer (dot-matrix) to take print-outs of our submissions. Towards end of semester there always was a long waiting line to get print-outs done and no one owned printer (very few owned computers). So I built a book-keeping s/w and scheduling s/w along with library of assignments. IT had a database system built using Cobol which will take roll number and name of a students replace it at appropriate places in the source code and print out copies. All we needed to do was make sure the printer always had paper rolls and entire printing, which used to take days, was done in matter of hours. I was told the s/w was still in use in the college.
PS - I never encouraged copying of grade work though, always wrote my own programs even though attached which ever one I got to file.
When we got back from our adventure my key wouldn't open the door. Unbeknownst to us, this was the one time that closing the door triggered an old lock on the door that we didn't have the key for. Amazingly, we had taken care to ensure that both the back and patio doors, along with all the windows were locked before we left, thus cementing our unfortunate predicament. It was already late in the day and the broker's office was closed, leaving us with what it seemed to be a limited amount of options. We could call a locksmith and try to convince him to let us in, which would likely cost more money than we were willing to spend, or we could stay outside for the night in the house's semi-sheltered porch area and walk to the broker in the morning.
Although it was summer, it still got chilly at night, and I most definitely did not want to stay outside. While thinking over our options in the porch area I noticed there was one of those big outdoor candles that come in a metal housing. Fortunately, the housing had a handle, and I was young enough to think I could do something with it. With much finagling, I was able to remove the handle from the housing and bend it into a hook. My plan was to try to use the hook to jimmy open the window somehow so that I could climb in through the window and open the door. After several failed attempts my always skeptical friend reminded me that I was wasting my time and should accept the situation for the night. Fortunately, I ignored his advice and persisted through several more attempts. Finally, I was able to sliver my makeshift hook through the frame of one of the windows and manipulate my way to close proximity of the window's lock. After flailing with the wire for several more minutes I finally hit the window's lock and opened the window. After which I climbed in and opened the door. I had successfully broken in to our rented beach house. I immediately taped over the broken lock to prevent this situation from repeating itself.
My friend of course was absolutely shocked, and still recounts the story in amazement.
Fortunately none of our neighbors thought that two unknown teenagers breaking into a house the least bit suspicious,
In the trunk was a broomstick, some rope and a, erm, we call them "parrot wrenches". Fortunately, one of the rear speakers could be lifted up a bit, so I fastened the wrench to the broomstick with the rope and slid it through the small hole (it was just enough to fit). Through that small hole, I manoeuvred to the rear door lock and pushed it up.
All my friends remember that MacGuyver moment to this day.
The hardest part was actually getting the screwdriver out of its damned unbreakable-but-dangerously-sharp plastic packaging.
All-in-all, we only got home about 5 minutes later than we would have!
Though you're screwed if there's no 'lip' on the lock to get something under to flip it up.
We had a new evaporative cooling system which means you have to have a few windows open, though they were all locked open a jar. It was certainly frustrating being able to feel the nice cool air flowing out of the window onto my face and it wasn't enough in the heat.
I tried reaching through the window with various instruments such as bamboo sticks, broom handles, etc. that we had lying around but nothing was long enough to reach my keys. I tried a piece of plank but not only was it too short but I wouldn't have been able to manoeuvre it anyway. At that point I was thinking I was doomed. Fortunately we had a new kitchen ceiling put in and it suddenly occurred to me that we had some 5m long pieces of ceiling pine timber on the front verandah.
I lugged one around to my bedroom window and the length of pine was not only long enough but thinner and far more flexible than the plank. I was able to drag the keys off my desk and across the floor near the window. Then used a bamboo stick to fish them out from there.
I was probably stuck outside for 30-40 minutes in the end, though it was a good several hours before anyone else came home.
Wait a second. This isn't naughty, just sort of boasting.
On Monday, One of the teachers went to each class and (loudly & angrily) asked "Who was it that pulled the cable from one computer and plugged it into the wall?!". It was only when they got to our class, I realize something was wrong because of something I did, so I timidly said "I did".
Well, as you might have guessed, what happened was a short-circuit and all the computers in the school couldn't connect to any network anymore. The office staff lost all their current work and had to work for extra 4 more hours each, doing office work manually. They didn't find out what was the problem until Monday.
The principal asked me why I did it, and I answered "I was curious." Due to my "stellar" past performance and history at the school, I was fined $300 (the cost of the technician) and sentenced to 2 days suspension. I was told that if I was any other student I'd have been expelled. My lesson that day was: "If you ever muck with stuff for fun, PUT IT BACK TO IT WAS BEFORE."
My school record indicates I have been put in detention 0 times and suspended 2 days in total.