Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
What Is the Most Valuable Thing You Can Learn in One Hour? (quanticdev.com)
585 points by soygul on Dec 31, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 328 comments

Taking this also as a bit of an Ask HN:

Easily the Tiny Habits habit formation regime created by Stanford researcher BJ Fogg. A lot of the addictive design patterns you see in apps like Snapchat, Instagram, etc. are built off his research. Quite nefarious use of psychology for advertising/“engagement”, but the plus side is you can use the same strategies to build habits you want to build.

Step 1: Consider the habit you want to build, e.g. “I want to meditate 10 minutes every day”

Step 2: Make it the absolute smallest possible version of itself; so small that it requires zero motivation/willpower, e.g. “I want to close my eyes and take 3 deep breaths every day”

Step 3: Place this habit immediately following an existing habit, e.g. “After I brush my teeth in the morning, I will close my eyes and take 3 deep breaths”

Step 4: Do this activity, and after each time you do it, reward yourself with a small celebration. It sounds ridiculous but I literally just say “Victory!” and force a smile on my face. The small rush of good-feeling-chemicals will keep you coming back.

I’ve used this method to pick up daily meditation, journaling, and flossing (acquired simultaneously!) after years of struggling to pick up any one of them. The first two habits have been monumental in my ability to learn, take on stress, and improve virtually every one of my relationships.

A shameless plug for BJ because he’s a great guy: his book, Tiny Habits, happened to be released today (what a coincidence!). I haven’t read it but if this is remotely interesting to you, I’m sure it’ll be extremely useful and engaging. It’s on Amazon, you can find it!


* Don’t worry about the habit scale down, it will naturally grow over time into its fuller form. I spent a month of the year just flossing 1 tooth each night (ridiculous, I know!), then 5 months just flossing 1 row (better!)

* Part of the trick is finding a good habit to put your new habit after. You probably already have a lot more habits than you know, since the whole point of a habit is to be automatic.

> I spent a month of the year just flossing 1 tooth each night (ridiculous, I know!), then 5 months just flossing 1 row (better!)

Not directly related to the habit formation part, but this reminded me of something my dad used to tell us as kids about flossing and brushing teeth when we'd complain about it:

Dad: You know, you don't have to floss and brush them all.

Us (amazedly): Really?

Dad: Nope, just the ones you want to keep.

Just let the kids smell some rotting piece of food inside their mouth after flossing. Guaranteed they floss every time from then on.

The book was released today.


I wrote some educational apps for language learning. Are there techniques that I could use to help and motivate my users?

I would highly recommend taking his bootcamp course. As a first stab, I would recommend not approaching the problem as “how do I motivate my users?” Instead, assume that their motivation is nearly zero. If you assume that, then what sort of things can you ask them to do, and how/when do you have to ask them to do it? This is the rationale behind “smallest possible habit.” It requires almost no motivation whatsoever to take 3 deep breaths.

Motivation is a fickle beast that ought never to be counted on.

I've read "Atomic Habits" by James Clear and "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. Does "Tiny Habits" bring anything new to the table? Or is it a reformulation of these other ideas?

I can't speak about Fogg's new book, but I've read Atomic Habits and read or listened to some of Fogg's other work. I think you're past the point of diminishing returns, especially compared to spending that time tweaking how you apply it. For example, by making triggers more obvious (daily email nag), progress more consequential (BeeMinder, blog), or goals more fun (choose valuable habits!).

If you want Fogg's take in a nutshell, here's a short podcast interview: https://boxofcrayons.com/2016/08/bj-fogg-on-behaviour-change... . tl;dl: Have an explicit trigger that you can't ignore.

The book was released today but you can still buy a used copy on Amazon. Were those pre-releases or something? Odd.

ARC's aren't supposed to be listed... I'm not sure how many causal sellers that stops though.

Sounds just like the popular book Atomic habits, is it different?

James Clear credits the research of BJ Fogg in that book.

> I spent a month of the year just flossing 1 tooth each night (ridiculous, I know!), then 5 months just flossing 1 row (better!)

Was this because you hated it so much that you couldn't bring yourself to do more than one at a time, or is it important to effective habit building that you intentionall hold yourself back? (I can't imagine getting as far as remembering to do it, getting out the floss, tearing off a piece, flossing one tooth and then not saying, eh, I'm already here, might as well do more.)

It isn't a "practical" thing, it is a mental thing. "flossing my whole mouth feels overwhelming, so I'm not going to do any of it", vs "I just need to floss a single tooth, that is easy". Sure "just grow up and do it" sounds nice, but learning to build habits that generally feel unrewarding when starting out (e.g. working out, learning instrument), is extremely difficult for some people (e.g. me).

It's a bit strange that something that takes less than two minutes can seem so overwhelming, yet we've all been there.

For me it is the chore factor, the feeling that it's something bothersome that has to be done. One way around that I've found is to convert it to a desire - saying to myself "I deserve clean, healthy teeth" is enough motivation, for me, to pick up the floss. Similarly, "I deserve a clean, tidy home" gets me picking up the vacuum and mop, "I deserve a healthy body" is a useful mantra for eating well and exercising.

Very true. For me, it is the feeling of 100 small 2-minute things. I find myself looking how to get out of as many as possible.

To me it goes like this; I just did it yesterday, there’s nothing there to get out. So I’d forget about it for another week.

Yes I hated it and yes I’m exceptionally stubborn :)

In my case the flossing problem was solved by trying out certain rubber sticks made for that purpose. They're MUCH more convenient to use than the classic dental floss and make the whole process quicker, to a degree it took me almost no effort to consistently do it every day.

My flossing tip is Gum's Butlerweave dental floss. My dentist recommended it to be about 7 years ago. I had been flossing twice a day for years with OK results using some dental floss on a stick thing, but I still got a talking to by the dentist because my gums we're not in great shaoe. He pulled out some Butlerweave and showed how to floss for real, and now my dentist appointments are quite boring.

> showed how to floss for real

For me, that was the key development. Up to that point, I hadn't understood that the goal is to scrape plaque off the teeth, and had only been flossing to get food out from between my teeth. Once I understood that, flossing became much easier, not to mention, after a couple of weeks of reduced gun inflammation, more comfortable.

It was a dental hygienist who explained it to me, not a dentist... I think for dentists, there may be a bit of a conflict of interest.

Same here! The reach was a Godsend for me.

Do you have any brand to recommend?

I don't use the rubber ones but "flossers" which uses a piece of actual floss. I've found GUM brand to be the sturdiest, some brands fray easily which I hated. These made me go from literally flossing a few times in my life to doing it multiple times a week. Once you get used to the clean feeling you'll feel just like you hadn't brushed your teeth if you don't do it.

It went from this very unpleasant finger tourniquets and hands inside my mouth to doing it one handed while I read or watch a clip online.

Fraying floss is the worst!

I floss semi-regularly but will go periods of time without flossing due to the annoyance factor. I will try these. Just looked them up and are decently cheap.

TePe easypick, the orange ones. Feels a bit unusual at first but basically you just push them inbetween the teeth once and pull out again, and all the dirt comes out with them.

My dentist recommended those, works like a charm for me. Although keep in mind they're thicker than dental floss, meaning they may not fit between certain pairs of teeth if they're very close together.

I use Oral-B's floss picks (mint flavor). Way more easy to use than a thread. I also use an inter-dental brush.

Didn't work for me, I simply started forgetting to do the new "habit" after a few days. I guess if it's just after flossing you can add a note next to the toothbrush, but for others that's not practical.

Did you reward yourself after? It really is important but I feel many people skip out on it because it sounds (and is) ridiculous.

Other thing he recommends is “practicing” your habit, especially if your context changes e.g. you’re staying in a hotel for a week. This would mean for example to mimic brushing your teeth in front of the mirror then walking to the bed to sit and close your eyes 5 times or so.

To start it’s probably worth picking something up that you can easily prompt yourself to do (such as a note on your mirror). The only one that failed for me was posture related which relied on a too-irregular prompt.

> take on stress

What a wonderful mental model. Thank you for that phrasing.

My tendency, and I think most people's tendency around me, is to discuss stress in terms of how to limit it.

Taking it on changes my relationship to it (at least in my mind). Taking it on, gives me control over it.

I can confirm that this is one of the best uses of one's hour to acquire a valuable new skillset. I was part of the first batch of test subjects back when BJ was just starting the tiny habit experiment on Twitter. I used it to help me make running outdoors a viable exercise, despite not even being able to run a mile. A long series of small victories later, I ran a marathon. Then, I ran another. Etc. Now, I just maintain 3-4 miles five days a week.

I highly recommend everyone buys his new Tiny Habits book and gives the program a try.

If you're serious about trying to form a new habit, BJ - and people he's trained and bots they've created - runs a free 5-day program: https://www.tinyhabits.com/join

(I'm unaffiliated)

Just picked it up on Kindle.

Thanks so much for the book recommendation and the pointer towards BJ Fogg.

Re: flossing and Step 2: Make it the absolute smallest possible version of itself - you only have to floss the teeth you want to keep.

Haha. I tell myself I just have to floss one tooth. But once I've got that far I finish the job.

IMO, the single most important thing I've ever learned is: try to be effective when you're communicating.

I used to feel an obligation to correct other people if they had false beliefs. This was not an endearing trait, and even worse, I was never particularly successful at convincing the other people.

One day, I read a passage from "How to make friends and influence people". It said something along the lines of:

"The point of an argument is to convince the other person of something. If what you're doing is not working, then do something else."


I'm not perfect, but these days, I try to listen a lot and speak a little. And the little I do speak is designed to appeal, as much as possible, to my audience.

As a small bonus: I really try not to get drawn into arguments with people who just like to argue (instead of those arguing in good faith). "OK" is an amazing response to shut those kinds of interactions down in a hurry. You can't out box the heavy bag.

> And the little I do speak is designed to appeal, as much as possible, to my audience.

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" really helped me understand where I was running into problems when interacting with people. It was written mainly for those who are in sales and need to learn how to persuade, but I've found it overall helpful in my career (not sales). It's one of the three books I would recommend for those who either manage people or are customer-facing (the others being "Nonviolent Communication" and "Carrots and Sticks Don't Work").

That said, I don't really observe the book's dogma in my personal life. To an extent, it has basic advice that's good no matter what. On the other hand, carefully speaking to make someone like you and to persuade them can be awfully inauthentic. I've learned to be careful about being rude or pedantic, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy a good argument. I like it when I disagree with people. I like to dig down into it with them to uncover the truth. I like to share the truth that I know with others, and I really like it when someone helps me discover a truth I didn't know before, changing the way I see things.

Unfortunately that means that, while I try to avoid it (without sacrificing authenticity), I will be perceived as unlikable to some. This tends to be people who hate confrontation, those who are maybe a bit insecure about their beliefs, and those who tend toward valuing what the group thinks opposed to what the individual thinks.

> I like it when I disagree with people. I like to dig down into it with them to uncover the truth. I like to share the truth that I know with others, and I really like it when someone helps me discover a truth I didn't know before, changing the way I see things.

I like this too.

But I've found that it's basically a disaster in real life. Very few people are educated, and even those who are have enough sacred goats that real serious conversations about difficult topics are near impossible.

I find that, instead, consuming the best books and videos is far more rewarding. You can expose yourself to the best version of ideas with less effort than trying to squeeze it out of people you meet.

"real serious conversations about difficult topics are near impossible."

Basic conversations about basic things are almost impossible.

Sciency/hackery software devs are a unique breed, we like to talk, debate, consider. To everyone else it's just 'disagreeable'.

Making people like and respect you is sadly, the only way to get most people to agree with you.

The most important 'tactic' when trying to get people to agree with you is ... to be tall, slightly good looking, reasonably well kept, and for the other person to believe you are listening to them, and that you agree with them maybe about 'some issue' but more importantly about some deeply held value they have. Then you are 'right' about whatever it is you are supposed to be talking about.

In other words, it's not about facts, but about relationships, which is why so much of sales is about that, and not product/price.

For some reason humans are really, really bad at objectivity and I think we information nerds are only just a little bit better than the rest.

I think it's important in communication to understand the people you're meeting in your life. The people around us makes up the society we live in, and understanding how we disagree with them helps us see what we want to change and also where we're wrong. Whereas just trying to absorb one author's idea of how the world works ignores those pieces of society and knowledge that the author lacks.

To me it's more rewarding to know that I may not agree with everything everyone says all the time, but at least we can find our common ground and share our disagreements with each other to reach an understanding.

> It was written mainly for those who are in sales and need to learn how to persuade

One of my big revelations was ‘we are /all/ in sales’.

My dad gave me very similar advice growing up, as I love for things to be factually correct. To me, it didn't bother me if someone corrected me. However, most people don't appreciate it and it isn't worth upsetting them 90% of the time. This is something I didn't understand.

Another thing he told me was not to be a know it all. One example would be when people said something and I had learned before, instead of diminishing their statement by saying I knew that, I should say something like "wow that's cool" as it makes the person feel better.

He gave me lots of small little interaction tips that helped me come across as a better person even though none of them were nefarious in nature.

> Another thing he told me was not to be a know it all. One example would be when people said something and I had learned before, instead of diminishing their statement by saying I knew that, I should say something like "wow that's cool" as it makes the person feel better.

Taking this a step further, if you know the topic well you can instead say something like "I know, it's very cool isn't it? Did you also know that <related factoid>".

Delivery is important of course, with the "I know" part needing to be energetic and supportive, but I've found this approach to be an effective way to build rapport and it has lead to some really interesting discussions.

I now drop the "I know" and go with something like "so cool that you brought that up - I was just reading about it last week!"

Spot on! I was terrible at making it seem like I wasn't just trying to one-up them or seem smarter when I was little. Delivery is so important.

> when people said something and I had learned before, instead of diminishing their statement by saying I knew that

I know someone like this. Their reply is always, "I'm not stupid". Clearly they were offended when I told them something they already knew, even though my intentions were to educate rather than offend. But their reply actually always created two offended people because to me, it's obvious I had no ill intentions and I'm left resenting their reply.

So now I just don't tell them anything unless they ask and I'm highly specific in my answer to their question. That ensures I'm only providing information they have indicated they don't know. If they want to know more, they'll ask more.

For my part, there was almost certainly an element of my being a know-it-all which is what got this person so riled up in the first place. Regardless; this simple change has helped me a lot and has improved my relationship with other people in addition to this one person.

This is why the whole “man-splaining” thing is weird to me. As a male, I’ve always appreciated people telling me things or explaining things to me, because they at least cared enough to take the time.

Similarly I once watched a woman at work struggle opening a jar. She congratulated me for not offering to do it for her. When in fact I felt like a jerk in that moment for watching her struggle. There’s an odd difference of perspective here I don’t fully understand.

> when people said something and I had learned before, instead of diminishing their statement by saying I knew that, I should say something like "wow that's cool" as it makes the person feel better.

That's really great. I'll have to pick that up.

Sounds like your dad was/is a pretty smart guy.

He is. Today is actually his birthday, funnily enough :)

I would get super annoyed at his doing that when I was a kid and felt that he was hard on me for no reason, but man do I really appreciate that now. I still have lots to learn from that man.

>when people said something and I had learned before, instead of diminishing their statement by saying I knew that, I should say something like "wow that's cool"

Sure, "I know that" isn't great either, but hopefully there's some way of dealing with that situation (which happens constantly in everyday conversation) without lying like that. Seems like manipulating the other person to me, not treating them as a person just like you. Imagine the roles swapped. Would you want the other person to pretend and be condescending, or to be honest? Saying "Wow that's cool" when you don't at all mean it, an honest, real conversation can never get started.

Maybe I didn’t phrase it well but the idea was to not phrase it in a condescending way like “I already knew that” or “I’m not stupid” and instead be like “right, isn’t that awesome”. Those are probably better phrases and was the idea that my dad was trying to teach me

> The point of an argument is to convince the other person of something. If what you're doing is not working, then do something else.

That's not the point of most arguments. Most arguments have an audience, and often that audience is also involved in making choices.

If neither your opponent nor your audience is swayed, yeah, you could just be entrenching everyone in an oppositional attitude.

That being said, discussions are typically better than arguments when that is an option.

Following this advice can single handedly avoid so many negative things in all of our lives. The older I get I keep coming back to this lesson. For humanity to keep progressing we can't keep treating people as computers and expect them to accept some statement we believe in. We're fluid sacks of chemicals, the farthest thing from an objective computer. Effective communication must begin with that.

Also somewhat related:

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” - Will Rogers

I understand that this is effective, but I don’t understand people’s motivations for doing this unless it is explicitly required to do their job (management, sales). I would rather be thought of by some people (almost always people who I don’t like anyway) as an asshole than become a sycophant. Although I agree that argument for its own sake is not worth it

I mean, even arguing for arguments sake can be a great way to sharpen your views.

Strange. Plenty of my coworkers are neither assholes nor sycophants. I'll pick them over the other two any day.

Yeah, it also helps to frequently remind yourself of the times you thought you were entirely correct, only to later discover you were completely wrong. It happens to everyone, many times throughout our lives. Though we tend to forget them.

Another thing that I've found helpful is to adopt a frame of mind where you don't want to be wrong for a moment longer than necessary. Therefore open to being incorrect, and would rather be corrected than continue being wrong. When your model has been updated, view it as a positive.

Steelman instead of strawman. Seek the strongest opposition to your idea.

It can be hard to do, but worth trying as much as possible.

I agree with everything you said, and love the boxing reference at the end.

Anecdote... one of the proudest moments in my life was when I finally did outbox the heavy bag. I put a hole in the side where I my left hooks to the body hit. It probably took me 10 years to make that hole, and even though I needed to buy a new bag. I can't make myself throw away the old one.

> one of the proudest moments in my life was when I finally did outbox the heavy bag. I put a hole in the side where I my left hooks to the body hit. It probably took me 10 years to make that hole, and even though I needed to buy a new bag. I can't make myself throw away the old one.

Not going to lie: that's pretty badass!

To add onto this, learning how to use communicative tools better is huge. I have seriously enhanced my productivity and understanding of my work by learning how to manage my inbox, write and respond to tickets, and share information via effective Confluence posts.

Gratitude. Look around you and consider all of the things that are going well for your. Your nice remote gig, your fridge full of your favorite beer, the sunny day outside, your healthy family.

Do that at the start of every day and really meditate on awesome it is that you have those things. Sincerely and quietly thank whoever you feel is responsible for them.

You'd be amazed how that 3 minute exercise changes your perspective.

I read a quote last night that went "don't complain about growing old, it's a privilege denied to many". That really stuck with me.

I expected to flip through a find a bunch of vacuous answers, but this one really resonated.

Gratitude does wonders for your mental health!

First aid is good. Also general investing in index funds like VTSAX and VTIAX. It is so simple, yet most people I run into on a regular basis just save their money in a checking account earning 0.01% APY. Follow the reddit personal finance flowchart. Learn about Roth and HSAs and ESPP and the benefits of diversification. We’re literally talking about multiples of your net-worth over your life if you invest compared to saving in a normal bank account. No, it is not gambling. It is riskier not to invest in the long-term.

> reddit personal finance flowchart

Woa it's really good. Didn't even know that it existed.

For future wanderer: https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/commontopics

It’s a good explanation for someone who is just trying to understand how personal finance works.

What I think would be more valuable would be to list college majors by future earnings perennial and also the idea of compound interest. So many people who graduate college still don’t have any idea about this. But as a society we’ve been drilling into everyone’s heads that going to college is a good idea when most people it is questionable at best.

"In the long term" is the important point there. Index funds are not a replacement for FDIC insured accounts. You should be using both.

I did not write that you should only use index funds for everything. In fact I wrote you should follow the Reddit personal finance flowchart.

Yeah, I wasn't disagreeing with you. I was reinforcing something you said.

My apologies for being too defensive.

Not USA, but if you have a KBC in your country (a Belgian bank, but you'll find them in other EU countries) they offer a quite easy way to start investing in index funds.

Essentially, each time you use your debit card, they round up the amount you owe the shop, and put that in a special account. For each 10 euro in that account - they invest it.

So for example, let's say I go to the shops and pay 9.30 for groceries. Then I'd end up paying 10 euro to the shop, and 70c will go to the investment account. Once the investment account reached a multiple of 10 - it gets invested.

It's a way to slowly build up owning more funds.

Of course, you can also just put X euro in it to start of instead of waiting for the initial 10 euro. :P

edit: typos

In the U.S. there is a company called Stash that does this.


Also another one called https://www.acorns.com/

I wonder if this can have a detrimental effect for compulsive buyers: “Oh I shouldn’t buy this widget but a chunk of it will go towards my retirement anyway!”

Mh, that seems like a weak excuse because at most 99 cents would get "saved"

Do you have a link to the reddit flowchart?

What crowd are you in where most people have all their money in a savings account? That is borderline financial suicide.

The crowd that is saving for a downpayment for a house or similar short-term goal. You essentially need those funds to be risk-free. A flexible CD is another easy option.

The default best option isn't always to invest except for long-term goals like retirement. It depends on what you want to do. (Reddit flowchart agrees with this)

Also, some of us don't believe in retirement. It's a concept more applicable to blue-collar workers (whose decline in physical ability in old age prevents them from continuing) or people who want to kick-back and relax after a certain age, or be financially independent to pursue certain dreams.

But some of us (especially cerebral types) really love our jobs and are reinventing ourselves every decade or so in order to do new things within our professions. My learning rate is actually accelerating with age because knowledge pays compound interest and I've finally built up a large enough knowledge base for this to be happening at an appreciable clip. I'm in my 5th decade, and I'm no longer as quick with computational tasks but my knowledge acquisition and processing abilities are surprisingly much sharper than they were in my 20s.

I can't see myself ever retiring unless my health completely fails (in which case I have buffer funds for that, but I don't call it a "retirement fund"). My parents have been retired for years and in my opinion they are declining faster than if they didn't.

Probably most working class people in the US if they even have savings. In 2015, in the US, only 40% of the population spent less than they earned in a year and only 39% said that they could come up with $2k in an emergency: https://www.usfinancialcapability.org/downloads/NFCS_2015_Re...

Those numbers sound optimistic when I look at the rural, low income town that I grew up in where my family still lives.

If those numbers don't seem to match what you see in your social group, you probably live in a bubble.

They have all their money in checking probably because they don't have nearly enough money to invest.

Those people would be much better off learning to either spend less, earn more, and get out of debt instead of learning about how to invest hypothetical money that they'll never have with their habits.

I certainly didn't know a damn thing about index funds, investments, stock markets, etc until I actually had the extra money to invest. Now people come to me for advice.

I have multiple friends that spend their money on junk they don't need because "It's better than earning half a percent interest in a bank account." And since that is their benchmark, they justify it all as a prudent financial practice.

In many cases they have enough to invest something but don’t. I also recommended the flowchart in my post above, not just index funds.

If you have over $200 spare from operational expenses and the cushion then you can use Robinhood and buy the ETF versions of Vanguards mutual funds.

My family. Women I’ve dated. I’m back in my hometown for Christmas now and talking to people I knew from school. The average person doesn’t know about this stuff (though most likely has some proportion invested through the default option in their 401(k)). I mean damn, my aunt’s husband died recently and we had to bail her out of 10k credit card debt where she was paying interest.

The Hacker News crowd probably knows above average, though even then a lot of my colleagues could know more, e.g. haven’t heard of VTSAX, didn’t know our 401(k) does a mega backdoor Roth, etc.

If it ever comes up that you talk to them about it there are many sources of good information. But just to name one, https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/ is pretty good, I think. (Not associated.) There is a book that I gave my kids.

Do they have 401Ks or pensions or other retirement accounts? Then they have stock or bonds.

FYI less than half of American workers have access to a 401K plan. Less than 60% have access to any retirement plan.

And for unfathomable (haha, well, is it really though?) reason retirement accounts are set up to mostly benefit people with very high wages whose employers (gotta have an employer, too, or arrange things so you're your own employer—man is this dumb, it's as if it's set up to disadvantage the poor and middle class) also provide a high match rate. Meanwhile most folks are lucky to get a 1 or 2% match, leaving them way under the max possible cap even if they put as much in as they can, personally, per year.

There are caps for contributing to tax-advantaged savings and pension accounts in the UK too.

I wouldn't say that that 'disadvantages the poor and middle class'. It's the other way around - it disadvantages the upper-middle and wealthy because they hit the limit and have to find other ways to accumulate wealth.

The way 401k retirement accounts are set up in the US, you can't get anywhere near the contribution limit on your own, you have to have huge amounts of employer contribution, beyond simple matching, even. It's like (cough) it's designed to mainly benefit top-tier professional class folks and non-owning-class upper managers while chaining people to traditional employment or complex personal tax arrangements. The other tax-advantaged account, the IRA, has a much lower total contribution cap.

[EDIT] to be clear it's not an absolute disadvantage to the poor and middle class versus having no such system, it's just that the way it's structured the overwhelming bulk of the tax savings goes to people who are already very well off, and those "beneath" them cannot possibly, no matter how frugal or responsible or fairly-well (but not excellently) compensated, hope to touch the level of benefit the very-well-off derive from 401k accounts. It's impossible, thanks to the way they're structured.

[EDIT EDIT] they're actually ideal for rich people who want to transfer ~$56k/yr to each of their kids (about $1.5m over 30 years), tax-free. I'd bet there's a further scheme one can work out to direct the investment of the fund such that the personal benefit is much greater than that, even (oh, kid of mine, you want to start a business? Funny, our 401k fund also "wants" to invest in it!). How? Employ them at one of your C or S corps (LLC or partnership won't let you get anywhere near the contribution limit, because... reasons? I dunno, it's a really dumb system if [cough] you're trying to make it broadly available to and useful for normal people) in one of the many positions near the top that're well-compensated but are so easy that lots of folks (stalk some from-money C-suite or "investor" types on Linkedin to see what I mean) seem to find time to hold one of them and also a few other "jobs" at the same time, so it won't look out-of-the-ordinary.

>you can't get anywhere near the contribution limit on your own,

That really seems like an overstatement. 401k contribution limits (without catch-up) are about $20K/year. That's no doubt more than most people save in a year but it's not that far out on the fringes of what mid-career professionals are/should be saving for retirement.

I don't completely disagree with your broader point. 401ks (especially with significant contribution match) and IRAs (and ESPPs such as they still are) do tend to most benefit workers who are fairly well-compensated. But they're actually less of a big deal for top execs etc. for whom the dollar amounts are relatively small.

> 401k contribution limits (without catch-up) are about $20K/year.

The GP may be referring to the $57K limit which is the total employee + employer contribution. The $20K/year limit is salary contributions. I think there's also a backdoor that lets the employee contribute more, but the real limit is $57K.

> But they're actually less of a big deal for top execs etc. for whom the dollar amounts are relatively small.

Indeed, few highly compensated execs rely on 401K. They cannot even get tax benefits for IRA's. The 401K and IRAs are designed for the middle class. The main problem is that you need an employer who provides a 401K. If my employer doesn't, I can't go and get one on my own (correct me if I'm wrong). On top of that, you are constrained by the funds provided by your employer's choice of 401K provider (e.g. may only have access to high fund fees).

>there's also a backdoor that lets the employee contribute more

I'm not sure about backdoors but there is a catchup contribution if you're 50 or over that lets you contribute about another $6K.

401Ks are really this weird little quirk in US tax law that, as I understand the history, came about almost by accident. And they're suboptimal in a lot of ways. Of course, they're now so entrenched as a middle class benefit that it would be political suicide to touch them.

Defined benefit plans would be better for a lot of people although they have their own issues--including underfunding and, at least historically, a very strong bias towards long-term employment at a single company.

> Defined benefit plans would be better for a lot of people although they have their own issues--including underfunding and, at least historically, a very strong bias towards long-term employment at a single company.

I came to the opposite conclusion: Defined benefit plans tend to be suboptimal. As you mention, underfunding is a problem. In the private sector what protections are there if the fund goes bankrupt because they overpromised? The safe thing is to make the defined benefits smaller so the account is always funded, but that's leaving money on the table. At least with my 401K (with decent low cost fund choices), I never have to worry about this. The money is mine and it cannot go bankrupt (unless the market dies, of course).

My state's employee pension is a defined benefit pension and everyone who is not a state employee agrees that we're heading for disaster. There's no bankruptcy escape clause - the Supreme Court has ruled that what has been promised must be paid out - even if it means raising everyone's taxes or shutting down all non-essential services. The fund doesn't have enough to pay what's been promised, so the state keeps borrowing money to pay existing pensioners. All the mayors in the city hate it, because pretty much any time they get extra money (via taxes, etc) almost all the money must be diverted to pay the existing pensions. Some smaller towns have increased in population quite a bit in the last decade, yet the cities cannot afford to increase the capacity of schools or increase police/fire presence because all the extra tax money from the new residents needs to be diverted to the pension funds.

Also, there is no cap to the benefit - and it is based on your income while you worked. So we have one retired person getting paid $80K/month from the pension because he was the president of a state university.

It's gotten to the point where many people automatically vote against any increase in funding in, say, schools etc because they know the money will simply be diverted to pay pensions. So legislators try playing games by adding riders to bills that say "None of the extra money raised by this bill can be used for pensions" - but of course that doesn't work because they simply shift the money from elsewhere.

For private pensions, there's the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation which is doubtless not perfect but makes things not entirely at the whim of the original company that created the pension.

Certainly public pensions in particular have been a big issue because of overpromising and underfunding. But, from the perspective of the worker, they do provide a level of (mostly) guaranteed retirement payments that lots of people end up not getting through a 401K. Sure, we can take the attitude as a society that's not our problem but it sort of is.

Personally I will have a somewhat nominal pension through a private employer in addition to savings but I understand why we may issues down the road where many people have nothing besides Social Security as opposed to more common defined benefit pensions as in times past.

Opening up the full contribution level for all employees and the self-employed, and simply mandating minimums of employer contribution (to keep them from withdrawing their contributions with this change and not simply adding it on to employee income, pocketing it instead, to avoid disrupting anyone's current retirement benefit) would do a lot to help. Though yeah, touching them in any way will be painted as "trying to take away your retirement", even if it's exactly the opposite.

The total contribution limit is ~$56k/yr. $19k is the limit on what you, the employee (or LLC owner or partnership member) can contribute, which is exactly what I'm talking about—most of the money has to come from your employer if you want the maximum possible benefit. It's pretty rad if your "employer" is your (or your rich parents') C corp, or you're an owning member of an S corp that's rolling in money, though.

There are also costs and various rules associated with administering 401k plans. I'm not an accountant or financial advisor so I'm not sure how effective using these sort of arrangements would be. (Of course, lots of money opens up a wide range of tax minimization and savings strategies.)

My point is basically that at minimum 50% of the taxes foregone to support the 401k system[SEE EDIT] is going to people who definitely would have had an awesome—not just OK, not good, awesome—retirement no matter what. Not the poor or middle class. Functionally no-one in the middle class is getting five figures of contributed funds per year from their employer, let alone the ~$36k it'd take to max it out. Who are? Top-end professionals who can be self-employed in such a fashion that they own their "employer" (and again, LLC or partnership won't cut it, because reasons) and very well compensated corporate folks (chiefly management-tier). Plus family of rich people who're just (legally, but clearly via Some Real Bullshit) dodging taxes.

[EDIT] OK so 50% is not necessarily right, obvious, I realized as soon as I posted, but the benefits are very disproportionately in the favor of people who aren't exactly the ones one might hope a government-supported retirement system would be mainly designed to help, and the best possible benefits aren't practically available at all to middle-class people even if they do somehow manage to put the actual total contribution limit away for retirement (they'll lose out on probably at least half the max benefit of the system, since they can only put ~$19k or $20k in tax-free themselves and probably only get low-thousands contribution from their employer at best, so the rest is getting taxed before being invested, and IIRC you can't even stack an IRA on top of a maxed-out 401k contribution)

I still don't see your point.

A poor person can put 100% of their wealth in. Someone who's well off can't.

I think you're just saying that a poor person has less money than a rich person.

Of course they do - that's what the words mean!

Yes, I know. They don’t understand what they’re doing very well though. Education will affect their net worth massively.

There’s a difference if you’re sitting on $100K in cash earning nothing or a few thousand to use for living costs. If the latter then investing in stocks is actually not very prudent.

Confirming. In college, I received what I thought was a decent windfall for a young adult (and what was roughly what people say should be enough to "get started" investing). I invested it. This was just after the rally post-recession had hit its apex. Fast-forward 3 years later, when I've been laid off. Well, now I need that money, but the stock is worth less than when I bought it. I don't make enough to itemize taxes, so I can't even do anything with the loss. Welp.

I'd have been better off just letting it sit in a bank. When you're a normal American - increasingly lower-"middle class," if that, these financial schemes are worthless to you. You're in perpetual survival mode.

But try to convince wealthy capitalists to pay the average worker enough to allow them to actually be in control of their financial destiny. You'll be laughed out of the room.

Start your own business and pay to your workers as much as you want. It's easy.

You don’t need to itemize to claim a capital loss

I filed with TurboTax that year.

Hence why I said to follow the flowchart.

I also think the reddit personal finance crowd is way too focused on how to invest their existing money when almost everyone would be better off figuring out how to make more money from their day job than worrying about whether they can make 4% here vs 5% there from their existing savings.

Perhaps less true if you have a large savings of over $1M already, but otherwise no.

Ok. It takes an hour though and it’s not particularly hard. I just wanted to answer OP’s question.

Or cutting extraneous expenses. It's cliche, but really, making your own coffee and packing lunch can save $20-25 a day. That adds up fast.

True, though I’m in the camp of “make enough money where I don’t have to feel guilty spending money on food”.

If you’re more income strained then yes though.

This is true, but it's also a good thing to go to lunch or have coffee with other people. You'll get personal enjoyment out of it, and if you are talking shop, the relationship you build could offset the savings of packing your own lunch.

For example it's common that you will regularly have lunch with a work colleague, and then later they will recruit you to work at another company. Or they will give you insight on how to get support behind your project at your current company.

That might work for some, but lunch is also one of the few blessed hours of the day that one can get the hell away from other people and be alone. It's an invaluable battery and sanity recharging time.

Is there a flow chart for figuring out how to make more money from one's day job? I've heard this line of thinking before but people are always frustratingly vague about the income side of things.

I know a few women that make $100k+ with $200k in a savings account. No equity in anything.

They are too scared to invest.

What if that account offers 2% interest?

Excellent for an emergency fund, not good for long-term savings or retirement.

Here it is: when your wife/girlfriend comes to you with a problem, she is not looking for you to propose a solution.

She will work out the problem herself. She just needs you to be a sounding board. Listen and nod. Be patient. Pay attention. Shut up unless you are asked a direct question.

This is the secret to a successful relationship.

(Married thirty-three years)

I have never understood this and this very issue has caused trouble in my romantic relationships.

Here's my thought process: why would someone talk about something if they don't want input? It seems like a waste of time.

Where's the gap in my thinking? Is there some way I can mentally reframe my thought process so that I 1) Don't immediately try to solve the problem and 2) Don't get annoyed at my significant other for wasting my time.

Consider it this way: The person you're talking to is an intelligent human being who knows they're capable of solving the problem that caused them distress.

The remedy they need right now is not a solution. The remedy they need is having someone listen to their situation and empathize.

Bonus: If they really are unable to think of a solution to the underlying problem, after venting about it they will be in a position to better think constructively and even take advice from you.

> 2) Don't get annoyed at my significant other for wasting my time.

I mean, if your SO or anyone that you care about is talking with/to you and you could ever possibly think it's a waste of your time no matter what it is that they are saying, then I think you may need to re-evaluate a few things in the new year.

I know where it is you are coming from here, as I also had the same thought process for a long time. Honestly, you just have to find the right kinda people to be around. If you have siblings or parents, you know how it is that everything that you manage to talk about is interesting in some way and how you both know when it's not. Like, during a TV show/movie you really like, even the 'dull' parts are interesting and you are super pumped that they explored the world of the film/show just a bit more. How you want to learn everything there is to know about Star Wars, Marvel, Python 2.7, etc? Even how a Wookie sneezes or Thor shaves?

Yeah, people that you like to be around that much, those are the people to become romantically involved with. Don't become romantically involved with people that 'waste your time' when they tell you about their issues and problems.

The way I frame it is that the problem is in some way more complicated than it seems on first analysis, and they aren't so much asking for your help coming up with a solution for the problem as they initially frame it so much as they are using the conversation to think out loud. So the proper response when you realise you're in this kind of conversation is to ask clarifying questions to help the person articulate what the problem actually is.

You could try reading Deborah Tannen's classic You Just Don't Understand. I used to recommend it to everyone in a relationship I met! It's about different communication styles of men and women (and a lot more). Her previous book That's Not What I Meant! was about different communication styles of different cultures, but everyone was so interested in the gender chapter she wrote a great book about that. Epic insights on every page.

1) Do they want you to fix their problem, or do they just want you to be aware of their problem? (wait until they ask a direct question) Ex:

Them: My foot is broken

You: Have you considered not walking on it? Have you considered putting a cast on it?


You: That sucks. (mentally: don't ask them to walk on it until it heals)

2) Do you have enough information yet to make a reasonable suggestion? (Smile and nod, shut up)

Them: I don't like my boss and yesterday I ...

You: Why don't you quit?

3) Your suggestion will fix their problem, but what are the consequences of your solution?

Them: I can't walk upstairs to get my medicine (they are on crutches)

You: Let me help you up the stairs (they then need to find you every time they go upstairs. Instead, make sure everything they need is downstairs)

Contrary to GP, I don't think "wait until they ask a direct question" is a perfect strategy; though it's a great strategy compared to shooting your mouth off. Waiting until they ask a direct question is a shortcut to make sure you don't imply that they were too dumb to think of your half-baked solution.

I've heard it paraphrased that men communicate to solve problems, women communicate to share information. That's heavily reductionist, but I've found it to be a helpful idea to keep in mind when navigating conversations.

"Is this person trying to solve a problem, or are they trying to be heard and commiserated with?"

> She just needs you to be a sounding board. Listen and nod. Be patient. Pay attention.

I think figured out the actual problem there. Your wife/girlfriend needs a rubber ducky!

In all seriousness, I use my manager at my job as a rubber ducky, albeit about job-/coworker- related stress.

Take an hour to sit in a quiet room without any stimulation. You'll learn a lot about your mental situation, and understanding where you are is really helpful for understanding where to go (if anywhere).

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” - French philosopher Blaise Pascal

I think this is more valuable than it might seem. I'd wager many people couldn't even sit still for an hour in a room by themselves with nothing but their own thoughts.

Does it count if you lie awake in bed for an hour unable to sleep because of rumination? Because in that case, I'm sure plenty of people do it at some point.

But what helps me is taking walks. You're alone with your thoughts, but the act of walking through nature is stimulating for more positive thinking, from my experience anyway.

> Does it count if you lie awake in bed for an hour unable to sleep because of rumination? Because in that case, I'm sure plenty of people do it at some point.

Heh, shit, if that counts I "meditate" for an hour or more a couple times a week. It's absolutely horrible.

[EDIT] in fact, running with that, most of my life has been a struggle to "meditate" less for the sake of my own health and sanity. I'm way down from the every single night for like two damn hours of ages ~7-16!

I don't think it is. I think meditation is about stopping the rumination by being present, doing something like focusing on your breath. If your mind starts to wander/ruminate then you catch your self and return your thought to being present. It is hard

Yeah, it was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Though in fact at this point I have put many thousands of hours, over decades, into trying to control useless (and it's usually useless) rumination, with only moderate success. So yeah, definitely agree that it's hard.

I definitely struggle with the same thing, my mind just not wanting to calm down and running through a million ideas.

That is not meditation though. Learning to meditate has helped me a ton in being able to calm my mind down and get to sleep. I'd recommend checking out the Sam Harris Waking Up app, just do it for a few days and see if it clicks.

I don't know, probably not quite the same since you're trying to sleep, as opposed to being fully awake and intentionally ruminating. I don't know though, personally, I fall asleep in about 5-10 minutes once I close my eyes and let my thoughts drift away. At that point my thoughts more and more resemble random noise and nonsensical things pop into my mind and at that point I know I'm about to lose consciousness into sleep (I'm surprisingly aware of falling asleep). So, for me anyway, it's not at all like sitting in a room alone with my thoughts, completely awake.

>Does it count if you lie awake in bed for an hour unable to sleep because of rumination?

That sounds like a good start. Learning how to let go of ruminating thoughts is still a struggle for me, but when it happens it will change your life.

I don't find that similar at all, it feels more like torture than meditation. The bit about walking I fully agree with. I live in the mountains and love being able to walk cool trails with nothing but my thoughts

Cutting yourself from the world for one hour is absolutely amazing. I lately discovered the joy of simply going to a park with a book, sit on a bench and read a chapter or two. It's insanely rewarding.

if you want to strengthen your mental fortitude, I recommend folks to spend hours alone. or at least a month to maybe 6 with minimal human interaction i.e both online and offline. if you can go that period without going crazy, then you'll be surprised at what you can achieve.

How to speak (Professor Patrick Winston from MIT) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unzc731iCUY

My short 4 word recommendation for people wanting to learn to speak in public: slow down, speak up.

For me, those two things get you a lot farther than you might think, and solve two of the biggest issues I see from people.

just took an hour to do that. That was an amazing lecture.

I salute you for the suggestion.

I just finished watching. Well worth the time.

Hi all,

This is an article that I've composed based on a previous HN discussion (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21581361) and other discussions on the net.

There are things like cooking, first aid & CPR, setting up a Raspberry Pi, cable management, etc. that you can learn in an hour and can make a meaningful difference in your life. Both article and video mention many topics and gives tips on them.

* Article: (as posted above) https://quanticdev.com/articles/most-valuable-thing-to-learn...

* Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F_srpzXQ6o

If you have any ideas, I will add them to the article.

Links in the resource section are all broken.

thanks just fixed them. accidentally used relative path instead of absolute.

Ah yes, I'm sure we've all been there. :-)

Check out something called "Core Transformation Process", it's a simple algorithm, you can learn it in an hour (although I think the full training is ~3 days, but that includes other stuff as well), and it has very profound effects.



I think it can be in the list as well. It takes a long time to properly learn. But one hours is defiantly enough to get to know the main Vim bindings, to be as productive as in other editors. In the end it makes you super productive.

> one hours is defiantly enough to get to know the main Vim bindings

I'm going to do an experiment. I've been struggling with Vim for a long time. I need to leave in about one hour. Instead of wasting time here on HN, I'll now spend an hour learning Vim.

I doubt that this will get me very far, but I'll let you know how far I got.

OK, it's been about an hour. I learned the following:

- there's a visual mode for selecting text

- I can now yank and paste text in normal mode

- I learned to use :split and :vsplit to open new files, and ctrl-w to switch between them

- I learned a few new navigation commands

- I learned that there's a replace mode (R)

Definitely useful, and I hope I remember everything the next time I open vim!

But I still feel like I'm just scraping the surface. One hour is very little time to learn about the power of vim.

I've been using Vim and vim-derivatives almost exclusively for the past 15 years, and I think none of the things you mentioned are important to use vim.

The first and most important things to understand are:

- Normal mode is the default mode. Only leave it when you already know what you want to write.

- Movement follows the [<count>] <verb> <target> model. The most used verbs are: d, y, p

The most used targets are j, k, f, F, /, w, W, e, b

Other useful keys to know and use: a, A, o, O, *, ., %

And lastly, learn how to use macros! (q, @)

If you just learn everything I listed here (and it isn't much), until it feels natural, you already know 90% of what you need to boost your editing speed and use vim like a pro.

I already knew some basics of vim, as I've been semi-regularly using it for a long time to edit files on the command line. Everytime I ssh into a server I use vim to edit text files. I can get everything done that I need to do.

My struggle with vim is that it just slows me down. I'm used to the way that text editors work on the Mac, and I'm really fast with them. Working in Textmate or Sublime or Xcode or even BBedit feels natural to me. But as soon as I switch to Vim, everything feels difficult.

I think a big problem with Vim is that it's really hard to learn when it's not your primary editor.

That's all good, but can you quit it? Sorry, had to be cheeky!

Shocking stats about trying to exit vim:

> In the last year, How to exit the Vim editor has made up about .005% of question traffic: that is, one out of every 20,000 visits to Stack Overflow questions. That means during peak traffic hours on weekdays, there are about 80 people per hour that need help getting out of Vim.

That's fantastic. All the vim people always raving about how much productivity they gain from vim, we can point to an objective measure of how much productivity it's ux destroys too.

You are just scraping the surface but that's ok. I've been using Vi/Vim for over 20 years and I'm still learning it but to me, that's what makes it so much fun! I learn a new thing (e.g.; `%` for toggling the cursor between matching things like parens) and then try to use that as much as I can for awhile until it's integrated into near muscle memory. Then I get the itch to learn more and so I dive back in.

type vimtutor in your shell for the "intended" tutorial

vimtutor sold me on vim in 10 minutes. o, O, p, P, y, I, A, etc. It was immediately obvious to me how it could be useful, having one-key shortcuts for the most common maneuvers in text editors, even if I were just writing prose.

Next time you're stuck somewhere without internet, as I was, give vimtutor a shot.

Thank you. Just did this and finally understand vim and I have used some weird editors in my day. This really helped to give me an overview

The tutorial that comes with Vim is quite good.

I've been using Vim for over 5 years now for as much as possible, and it started exactly like that: I looked at a couple of the most basic shortcuts(Esc and i to switch modes, :w and :q to save and exit, hjkl to move the cursor), just started using it for editing files and looked everything else up when I needed it. Over time the stuff you actually need regularly sticks.

Nothing has influenced my use of computers as much as Vim, and I'm really glad this tool exists. It makes editing text a great experience, and has a couple feature you can't find anywhere else(not even Emacs offers such a flexible, intuitive keybinding functionality or reliable, quirk-free controls).

I still don't get the appeal of vim or modal text editing in general but I'm glad you can close vim with shift+zz

Serious question: I keep seeing Vim thrown up and down like it's the holy grail. I've been using VS Code for two years maybe now, and I don't see how Vim could help me be a better/more productive coder. What am I missing?

> I keep seeing Vim thrown up and down like it's the holy grail.

It's not. People tend to be religious about their choices, you can achieve the same result in any editor. Also most likely the bottleneck in your productivity is not the speed at which you manipulate text.

Anyway I will highlight few things that I consider great about vim.

1. It's more about consistency. (vim shortcuts are used in a lot of other places, ex: linux commands like `less`, `screen` etc.., tmux or other pane manager, etc..) When you learn linux you start to get a feeling about it, at some point you enter a command you somehow magically know the shortcuts to navigate/close/search inside there, Vim feels like a complementary thing to the whole linux environment knowledge.

2. It is everywhere! You need 0 time to prepare your work environment if you switch your job/workstation, and you also don't need to exit the remote machine/datacenter to write your stuff. You basically ssh into the machine[s]/datacenter and there you go, at the end of you day you just detach from the session, go home, and next day attach back and continue, all the commands, fancy log searches, processes monitoring, everything is there still running and waiting for you.

P.S. I also use VS Code sometimes especially for pet projects.

This is how I explain VIM to people (although I used to use it full time, I now use Atom with the VIM plugin):

Most of what programmers do is a lot of navigation and text manipulation correct? In normal scenarios, what keys are available to us to do that? Just the arrow keys and modifiers (Ctrl, Alt, Command).

But what if we had essentially the entire keyboard available to us for either text manipulation or navigation? We could move around or manipulate text in more efficient ways because we have more keys available to us to do different things (like say "delete until the next closed parenthesis" rather than control shift right-arrow 20 times).

That's why VIM is useful for programmers or anyone who manipulates plain text all day.

> Most of what programmers do is a lot of navigation and text manipulation correct?

Possibly I'm a terrible programmer, but most of what I do is thinking and looking shit up. Entering or modifying code, and navigating non-linearly within one file is like... a couple percent of what I do on an average day? Maybe 5% tops? Some days it may get as high as 20% of my time. Maybe.

[EDIT] add "communicating", broadly, to the list of things I do a lot of at work that's not editing code.

Yes and no. Feedback cycles are important. It's better for a test to fail than to notice a bug in production. It's also better for you to be able to get that thought from your head to the file in 3 seconds instead of 10.

Doesn't a modern IDE with context aware autocomplete help more with that than slightly faster text editing? Perhaps it also depends on what kind of development you're doing

"Your problem with vim is that you don't grok vi"

A perennial answer to this question: https://gist.github.com/nifl/1178878

To put it simply, it's just a very efficient way to manipulate text with a keyboard. Once you get accustomed to it, writing and especially modifying text without it seems laborious, almost like you're writing with your wrong hand.

The problem is, the opposite is true until you reach some level of proficiency. Until then, vim is hard to get used to.

I know I haven't provided a concrete answer, but many blog posts have been written on the matter. I personally started learning vim by running through vimtutor once a day as part of a New Year's resolution about ten years ago.

> What am I missing?

Touching your mouse less.

Might sound weird, but that's honestly my main reason for learning modal editing and emacs with evil.

Less flip flopping between mouse and keyboard might not be "more productive", but it's more comfortable.

And beneath that you start to find better fuzzy project searching with tools like ripgrep, an easier time navigating your project, powerful in-file movement commands, etc.

I'm mostly an emacs evil user, so I also have workspaces, projectile, magit, and a whole host of other extremely powerful tools.

And I don't really lose out on much wrt code completion, or other functionalities you normally get from an IDE. Since I can use the same language servers you would use in vscode.

That's not to say there aren't things that suck though. Emacs in particular isn't for someone that's unwilling to make changes to their config.

If you're just coding, you're not going to have as much use for it as someone who spends a considerable amount of time in a terminal - but at that point it becomes a vital skill.

Still, I always use vim plugins in my IDE, it's just not as useful there, but it can save a small amount of time depending on your level of vim skills.

imo, the best parts of Vim are its shortcuts which is why I am happy with only Vim-like keybindings in other apps and don't need them to impl the whole kitchen sink.

For example, right now, how do you make a blank line above your cursor and move your cursor there? Do you maybe go ctrl-a to move the cursor to the front of the current line, carriage return to move the current line own, then press up-arrow to move your cursor to the new, empty line? In Vim, it's just capital O. lower-case o to create an empty line below you and move your cursor there. And I could go on for all sorts of simple tasks that have most people reaching for their mouse.

Entry-level Vim keybindings just make these basic tasks more pleasant.

I got pretty hard-core into Vim when I was in uni and had time to care and credentialize in Vim. Nowadays, I'm switching between so many editors that I'm happy just using basic Vim keybindings.

Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't ctrla+a select all text? To add a newline above, I just press home and enter. For newline below end and enter. The keys are right next to each other. Vim doesn't seem more convenient for this case

more things are available from the home row than with typical windows editor keystrokes; less pinky and more big 3 finger locations than in your typical windows editor keyboard shortcuts as well. Also once you get the basics down you can learn more powerful keystroke combinations than you ever imagined on windows text editors.

Try the vim extension in vscode. It’s pretty good for about 75% of vim. Definitely good enough to be useful.

vim has its roots in a time when ed was widely used on teletype style user interfaces. The idea was that you didn't have a continuously-updating screen, so conservation of keystrokes and screen updates was very important.

It just so happens that this paradigm (which is a much-maligned word!) is still useful today.

You interact with text in a couple of different ways, which vim maps onto "modes". You type in text, you select text, and you transform text. Insert mode, where you type in text, is how most editors work these days.

Let's look at an example, I hope I can do this justice:

You've been asked to refactor and update some code. In vim, you open up the right file and you hit '}' a few times to jump down "paragraphs" to get to the right spot to add your code. You hit 'i' to enter insert mode, then type in the extra class methods or whatever you need. Once done typing, you hit escape to exit insert mode. Now you have to remove some methods, so you type '/' to search, followed by the method name, then hit enter until you find the right part of the code. You hit '^' to go to the beginning of the line, then you hit 'd}'. That's the combination of an action 'd' and movement '}'. That removes up to the next blank line. Now you need to update places within this file that reference that method, and update them to the new method you added. You type ':%s/productComponent/productExponent/gc' which is a search and replace, 'g'lobally with 'c'onfirmation. Once the changes are made, you type ':wq' to write the file and exit out of vim. Your consulting firm charge the client $50,000.

And your hands didn't leave the keyboard to mess with the mouse.

Think of vim like a computer game where you have to learn a bunch of moves, or a simulator where you have to learn a lot of key combos to control a spaceship or aeroplane.

I hope that helped, I don't advocate trying to jump in and replace vscode with vim immediately. But definitely install vim and try some tutorials and experiment with your normal workflows to see if you feel it is a good match to your keyboard usage/style.

The vim key bindings can help you write code faster and more efficiently. Try the vim plugin for vscode. It's pretty good.

I'm always skeptical of this claim (and yes I do know vim fairly well). Programming isn't that much typing. For every burst of typing there's probably an equally long or longer lull where you are leaning back and looking at the screen or sketching something out on paper.

If your productivity is limited by how fast you can type then you are either a far, far better programmer than most people or your skills are being under utilized.

Vim commands are more than just typing. It’s searching, deleting, replacing, selecting, moving entire lines of code.

I can get to any location in a massive codebase within seconds. I can drop the cursor to any character I see damn near instantly. I can construct entire macros on the fly and repeat them endlessly until I’m satisfied and destroy repetitive tasks. I can move entire sections of code to anywhere else I please, just tell the line numbers and it’s done. I don’t even have to open the files. When you’re working really fast in Vim it’s easy to get a high from the amount of code you are slicing through.

In short, classical editors are like a ball and chain for developers trying to get shit done, and I cringe every time I see a developer using a mouse or trackpad while working. It’s so slow, so inefficient, I can’t stand it anymore. I need vim-like shortcuts in every application I use.

You say it's more than just typing but then you go on to describe a bunch of stuff that's essentially just typing.

I think just about any modern programmer's editor can do all the things you describe. I work most of the day in Visual Studio and I know it can do all that.

For programming I think vim is handicapped somewhat because it doesn't "understand" what it's working on.

The great thing about vim is every IDE has a plug-in to emulate it. Why would I learn separate shortcuts for android studio and vscode when I can just install vim plugins?

I'm trying to learn vim, thanks to this thread. How do I "drop the cursor to any character I see damn near instantly."

I'm digging moving things around quickly and all that. But I don't know how to get my cursor where I want it quickly.

First of all, I recommend that you turn on relative line numbers AND also normal line numbers. This means that the line the cursor is on will show the absolute line number, but lines above and below will show how many lines away they are from the current line. :set relativenumber :set number

This makes it really easy to get to the line you are looking at. You look at the relative line number, see it's 9 lines above, so you start out with pressing 9k to jump up 9 lines.

Let's say you're trying to get to an instance of the 'a' character. The character is to the right of your cursor, so you press fa to jump to the next instance of the 'a' character. However, it turns out that there are multiple instances of the 'a' character before the one you are trying to get to. So you repeatedly press ; to keep going to the next 'a' character until you get to the one you want. You've accidentally passed the one you want, so you press , to go back one.

So all together you something like 9kfa;;

Also related to the f motion are the F, t, and T motions. I use the t motion all the time. t and T are like f and F but they put you on the character before the one you specify. Very useful for jumping to the first character before the next parentheses and things like that.

purely for putting the cursor exactly where you want it there are more powerful things like the emacs acejump plugin or easymotion for vim but they aren't all that necessary IMO.

I use vim exclusively for programming and general text editing, and I didn't know about relative line numbers! Thanks a lot, I think that's going to be in my .vimrc!

Super awesome! Thank you so much, this is extremely helpful.

It's not so much typing that Vim helps with, it's _editing_. It's definitely not about raw text entry - it's about thinking things like "hey I want to move these 3 lines up to this spot" and being able to do that with 3 or 4 keystrokes.

The reason folks talk about feeling crippled when they use a regular editor is that you get used to things like `f(` to take you to the front of some function's arg list, or `ci{` to quickly change some block of code.

> being able to do that with 3 or 4 keystrokes.

I get that. My point is that I decide to move that chunk of code after looking at the screen for 4 minutes so it doesn't matter if it's 3 or 4 keystrokes or 5 or 6.

Once you know your editor well, you aren't thinking about the keystrokes anyway. It becomes entirely automatic. There are lots of editor operations that I couldn't tell you what the keystrokes actually are without sitting at a keyboard and doing it.

I use vs code with the vim plugin and it's a happy medium. It's certainly not Vim but it suffices.

it's also a different "way" of working with text: it feels like photoshop, or a game, with the keyboard being your joystick. The command keystrokes are as compressed as can be, and having regexps literally at your fingertips all the time helps maximize their benefit.

I recommend VS Code plus install the extension for vim key bindings


Fun way to get used to vim

using `Ctrl + r` in your shell, I just hope someone reading this doesn't know it yet :-)

My favorite is C-x C-e in your shell. Bonus points for having EDITOR=vim in your env. I use this so many times in a day.

It’ll copy the text in your current command line into your $EDITOR. Saving and quitting your editor will put the modified text back into your command line. Never fear long commands again!

Wow, thanks! I knew about

  ## arrow up
  ## arrow down
but it works only for beginning of the line. CTRL + R shows results with keyword anywhere within the line and pressing it again shows next result. CTRL + Shift + R goes back one result.

Zpresto has a zsh plugin thing that you can enable to get partial substring search with up/down arrow and color highlighting for the match. Really useful and one of my favorite features

I just use ctrl-p/n for back/forward in history? Does that not work pretty much everywhere?

If you like this, you'll also like pushd/popd. Example:

$ cd ~/src/app/foo/bar/baz

$ pushd /etc/qux/quux/quuz/corge/grault/garply/waldo

$ popd

$ pwd


It's a stack of directories. You pushd the current directory on to the stack and cd to a new directory all in a single command, then you popd back to the previous directory (i.e., the one on the top of the stack). It's useful if you're jumping all over the filesystem to do work, or if someone interrupts you and you want to cd somewhere to show them the contents of a file without losing your own context.

Or you could try autojump. It tracks where you have cd and then you can jump to locations from past history using fuzzy matching.

so if you cd to /usr/home/me/tacos once, from then on you can just > j taco

and it will cd to that directory. Saves so much time! Instead of typing out /etc/nginx you can just type "j e ng" and it will jump there.

It's not as robust as pushd/popd, and it may vary from shell to shell, but at least in bash you can also use "cd -" to change to the previous directory.

pro tip : you can also do the same with git : "git checkout -" will bring you to the previous commit you were on

To anyone that has use for this, I also recommend trying the fish shell. It takes some getting used to at first but the sheer time save I realize with just autocomplete is monumental!

Can you add more details on autocomplete (and anything else) on why someone should try it and/or how you’ve benefited from it compared to the common bash that’s around on systems?

Building on this, infinite shell history. Google how to set it up for your shell.

Did this years ago. I am very thankful I did. It has saved me a few times on cmd syntax. Seems like iptables is the one I always screw up. I recently started migrating the history across reinstalls.

I worked for years as a sysadmin grepping through history because I'm just learning this from you.


I had a coworker who was having some issues. I chuckled when he had an alias for history | grep when I was checking out his env

To be fair, I also have that alias and use CTRL+R. They are useful for different scenarios. CTRL+R when I know what command I'm looking for, but can't remember the full one. `history | grep -i $TERM` when I remember some part of the command, but not exactly sure. With that, I get a list of possible candidates to choose from, instead of having to do CTRL+R repeatedly to find the command I was looking for.

Is that why his Mercurial wasn’t working?

That is heart-warming news!

> I just hope someone reading this doesn't know it yet :-)

I didn't, thank you. It works both in bash and powershell.

Compound interest. Simply starting early in some boring find/investment and not obsessing over daily stock prices will do wonders for one’s health and finances

this is generally useful and true, but it was more so when boring and safe investments (e.g. government bonds) were paying significant interests.

As of now, a 10y US treasury bill will pay less than 2%, and 2% compounded is still not much ("your $1000 saved today will become $1999 if you don't touch it for 35 years!").

Learning to save in general is probably the more fundamental information, imho.

EDIT: obviously investing in stocks-based funds comes with extra risks, and extra profit. If anything learning that risk and profit are connected is an even more important insight.

There are places where you get 5-10% interests on fixed deposits (mostly Asian countries). At approx 7%, you can double your money in 10 years. At 10%, you can double in 7 years approx and so on. It all depends on where one is living, I suppose. I can't find anything in the US market though - bank interest rates are a joke, treasury/bond % is too low. Stock market is on fire, but most stocks are so expensive that it is out of reach for most Americans.

I am not sure what other choices Americans have ...

You shouldn't be comparing nominal returns between markets, what you should be comparing is the inflation adjusted real returns. That's why even if Japanese banks offer nearly no interest the currency is deflating and as a result holder might end up with a net profit

Is this just a USA thing? I live in Colombia and wish to have something like that, but not know how judge if the packages given by banks are truly decent.

For example, I look at one of the richest bank accounts balances of a company I work for and the savings account become a net loss after each year.

The way to get some money is for people itself perform in a kind of lottery we call a "natillera" where people put together money and try to create some profits running events from it.

This demoralize me a lot, because if with all that money in an account you lost anyway, what chance get the rest of us?

A requisite response to those who mention compound growth (interest) and the fallacy of it "never" ending:


(Exponential Growth Arithmetic, Population and Energy, Dr. Albert A. Bartlett)

I always hear this but the theory of compound interest has little to do with stock investing.

Not all stocks pay dividends. Most actually do not. And betting on a general YoY rise in stock prices into retirement is not the same thing as compound interest.

Stocks don’t need to pay out dividends for compound growth. Your last sentence is basically: “betting on compound growth is not the same as compound growth”. Yes ok, but a little pedantic imo. Over hundred years of evidence suggests betting on a diversified portfolio of stocks is a good idea in the long term.

It’s not being pedantic. When you talk about the theory of compound interest it’s essentially starting with $100, getting paid interest or a dividend, and then reinvesting that so now you have $102 that earns a dividend or interest and so on.

Investing in 100 shares of company XYZ that does not pay a dividend, or investing in a company that does pay a dividend but isn’t being reinvested, is not compound interest in the classic sense at all.

Roughly speaking, if a company doesn’t pay a dividend, it reinvests the profits in itself which compounds its own stock price. You get the benefits of compounding stock prices that way. I think we are arguing over semantics.

It’s analogous, depending on the company, but it’s still a misnomer to use compound interest to describe stocks when by definition is only appropriate to describe a loan or deposit (e.g. principal and interest payment)

You're missing a key component of how dividends tend to work. If a stock it trading at $102 and they announce a $2 dividend, the stock almost immediately drops to $2. If you buy/reinvest that $2 back into the stock, effectively nothing has changed.

Correct! Except it drops BY $2 ;-)

> Not all stocks pay dividends. Most actually do not.

Yes, but the historical performance of, say, the S&P 500 has more to do with dividend reinvesting than the actual value of the shares appreciating. If they did not reinvest the dividends, the S&P 500 would not be as attractive as it is.

It's still not compound interest, but it is compounding.

But given that a company can choose to stop paying a dividend whenever they want, by your standard dividend-paying stocks also have nothing to do with compound interest.

Historically speaking, you're very wrong. There's no better place you could've put your money than the s&p.

A few tidbits to balance in:

On average, S&P performance over 40 years is very good. However, if you look at every possible 40-year period so far, some are really good and some are lousy. If you instead ask "What performance would I have gotten in 90% of those cases?" the performance is not as high.

Performance over 30 years is naturally worse than over 40 years, and so on.

Due to volatility, you generally score better (in terms of percentage of x-year periods) if you do 70/30 stocks/bonds rather than 100% in stocks. Meaning, you can leverage it to either aim for the same performance with less volatility, or same volatility with greater return.

Finally, people tend to put more money in the market when times are good at stocks are high, and less when times are bad and stocks are low. This has a dragging effect on what performance a person can expect.

For example, I keep pretty good records and have a list of every date/amount of each retirement contribution I've made. I'm able to simulate what my current balance would be if I have immediately put each sum into S&P (by using the adjusted close for that period). It's not as good as the reported S&P average over that period.

> On average, S&P performance over 40 years is very good. However, if you look at every possible 40-year period so far, some are really good and some are lousy. If you instead ask "What performance would I have gotten in 90% of those cases?" the performance is not as high.

What is "high" for you?

I basically did what you suggest (although stopped at 30 years instead of 40):


On a 30 year horizon, even the worst 30 years (involving the Great Depression) gained money - equivalent of 4% per year after inflation for a lumped sum investment. For a periodic contribution, it was more like 2%.

Still, the average for the last 30 years is about 7%.

> Due to volatility, you generally score better (in terms of percentage of x-year periods) if you do 70/30 stocks/bonds rather than 100% in stocks. Meaning, you can leverage it to either aim for the same performance with less volatility, or same volatility with greater return.

Can you find me a 30 or 40 year period where 70/30 outperformed the 100/0 case?

If you're close to retirement, putting more money in bonds is beneficial due to the reduced volatility. It still has lower returns.

> For example, I keep pretty good records and have a list of every date/amount of each retirement contribution I've made. I'm able to simulate what my current balance would be if I have immediately put each sum into S&P (by using the adjusted close for that period). It's not as good as the reported S&P average over that period.

How long is that period? As the plots on my page show, you need to be well above 10 years to reduce the effect of volatility. I mean - a 10 year window has been as high as 22% per year and as low as -7%/year (i.e. lost money in the 10 year period). Contrast with a 30 year window: The swing is from 11% to 2% - much more stable. If you're looking at your simulated performance over just a few years, you are essentially looking at noise.

I’m saying a positive ROI is not the same thing as compound interest. An asset that rises in value like $SPY is not in of itself an example of compound interest.

This feels like a semantics back and forth. Call it compound growth then. It's the same concept. This applies to all yielding assets. You can call it divs / buybacks for stocks and interest for bonds, but it's the same thing / effect.

Not even vaguely.

Compounded interest is reliable, even boring. You know exactly what you'll have at any moment in time.

Your ten-year index returns are reasonably reliable, historically. But your 2007-2009 returns aren't your 2016-2018 returns, at all.

They're different concepts and deserve to be conceptualized differently, especially in the modern era, where interest rates on Treasure are lower than inflation.

I will tell you from experience that one cannot learn "cooking" in a single hour, any more than one can learn "music" in an hour.

I agree 100%, but I would say: it is possible to learn _something useful_ about cooking in 1 hour (e.g. how to chop vegetables, or how to cook a steak).

I am doubtful it is possible to have the same experience with music, although maybe one can learn things like "what is a canon".

> I agree 100%, but I would say: it is possible to learn _something useful_ about cooking in 1 hour (e.g. how to chop vegetables, or how to cook a steak).

Yes, I recently took a knife skills class with a some friends. Technically ran a couple hours and $60, but well worth the expense.

You could presumably figure out the same stuff by watching online videos, but the social experience and getting immediate feedback on physical skills was nice.

:-) I'm a jazz musician, and I think a bad piano teacher. I basically teach everything in one hour - how to read music, basic chords (triads, and with all kinds of 5ths and 7ths), cycle of 5ths, basic harmony - then tell people now they have to find great musicians they love and learn from them. (So much easier with the internet than when I was a kid) Sometimes I give them a list of people to check out. Of course, you have to practice that stuff for years until it's like breathing, but the basic theory can be presented in under an hour. You learn from years of listening to the music, transcribing solos and playing them, and playing with other people.

Watch bon appetit on youtube for an hour. It's fun and you may find yourself thinking about cooking more for fun rather than a chore afterwards.

Whether cooking is fun or a chore is, I think, directly related to how much stress the rest of your life is causing you. If you’re extremely busy holding down multiple jobs just to pay the bills and feed your kids, then it’s hard not to see cooking as a chore.

A person in such a situation is going to get very impatient trying to watch most cooking videos which tend to waste a lot of time talking about things unrelated to the recipe at hand.

Home food prep takes a lot of time, quite a bit of skill, and a ton of knowledge, for the whole process, not just the cooking itself, especially if you want the supposed health benefits and savings it grants.

1) Shopping. What's a good price on X? Meal planning's a factor and takes time, and you've gotta already have some notion of what's cheap right now for that, or else much better cooking skills to be able to make something with whatever you happen to pick up, in which case you also need to be a good judge of how much of each thing to pick up to cover meals for a given period of time. All this also takes time.

2) The actual cooking. Obviously. Takes time, takes skill, takes schedule stability if you don't want to end up with a bunch of "well shit, I guess we're ordering delivery pizza again" days.

3) Cleaning. Even if you're great about clean-as-you-go while also trying to watch kids or whatever, is your spouse? Uh huh. And cleaning as you go is another skill in the cooking department, gotta know when you're done with things, when you have minute to wash a pot without ruining anything, how to prep your ingredients and space and in what order for maximum effect (being other-than-awesome at this adds quite a bit of time to your cooking process). How to clean various things requires a little knowledge and experience, too.

(Of course it can be super cheap and incredibly easy and low-time-commitment if you can convince your family to be OK with rice-cooker rice, beans, and steamed whatever-frozen-veggie-was-on-sale for every dinner. Good luck.)

Of course, that's true of a lot of things. Many things are fun when you're doing them because you want to and have the time but are chores when you have to do them even though there are other demands on your time or you're just not in the mood.

I'm definitely like that with cooking. It's a hobby of mine but there are nights when I just need something to eat and get on with other things.

How to open a bottle of wine

Meh of course you are not going to be Gordon Ramsey in an hour. To read how to cook rice, get to know when meat is ready (if you buy meat from supermarket you probably can under cook it and still be fine) and how to boil/prepare some vegetables. Then that hour where you read instructions for 10-20 mins, did an experiment that took next 30 mins... Voilà you can now cook the same thing for next couple weeks in only 30 mins without reading recipe again.

Now when you know how to cook one thing you can try out some other stuff which will be small investment because you have some base from cooking that one meal for some time.

I am by no means a chef (so not going to impress anyone with my cooking skills because it still is just basic stuff) but I am not afraid of cooking, I can now quite confidently experiment and I started with baking chicken breasts and boiling rice.

I would argue that cooking is particularly amenable to being broken down into discrete activities that one can at least take a first pass at in an hour or so. And, for all the stuff in my kitchen, the number of things you need to get started is actually pretty minimal. (In fact, as with many things, you're probably better off keeping it simple at first.)

This is true, but you could probably make quite a lot of progress with "Cooking in Ten Minutes" by Édouard de Pomiane.

Some reviews of this book point to the recipes being dull compared to some newer books, which while true, misses the point entirely. This is a book that introduces the fundamental concepts of cooking with simple recipes that can be made in 10 minutes. It may be the single best cookery book ever written. It won't teach you a bunch of recipes so much as it will teach you how to think about cooking.

It's also very short, so you could probably read the whole thing in an hour (and if you pause near the start to boil some water, you might even cook something too).

True. However, you can learn a specific skill under the umbrella of cooking in that time.

One time I bought a 50 pound bag of onions and practiced cutting/dicing/etc for an hour plus. These days, I cut up an onion (or multiple onions) very nearly on a daily basis in my cooking at home.

I learned music one hour at a time. took a few thousand hours but I got there.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2021

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact