Nathan Wailes' Blog

My thoughts on time-dependent work-related topics.

How to create a new Python project using PythonAnywhere, Bitbucket, SourceTree, and PyCharm

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  1. I often find it difficult to start new projects on PythonAnywhere because setting them up properly requires a lot of steps.
    • (By “properly” I mean “using tools that will help you avoid headaches down the road”.)
  2. To help my future self get past that initial roadblock, I recently documented the steps involved when I start a new project.
  3. You can find it at the link below.

Written by Nathan Wailes

July 2nd, 2016 at 7:28 pm

An email to a friend with some ideas for creating a repeatable sales/growth process

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Here’s an email I recently sent to a Stanford/HLS-grad friend of mine who started a delivery company that sells to individuals and businesses. He’s currently trying to figure out a repeatable sales/growth process. Because his product involves physical delivery, he’s aiming to target groups of businesses that are within close proximity of each other (eg in a strip mall / office park). As with Box/Dropbox, he can sign up one person at a company and then try to get that person to sign up others. I’ve made some clarifying edits and removed some identifying information.

Some ideas for what you should try next (viral growth)

I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about viral growth, and so I figured I’d write up some of my thoughts of how I might be inclined to go about setting up a viral-ish method for growth. None of these are things I came up with out of nowhere, they’re all from having read various books / articles or from having worked at Infer. Feel free to ignore it / disagree, I’m just trying to be helpful because if you succeed, I’m more likely to succeed:

  • I think you should look very closely at any instances you’ve seen of having an entire company adopt the product, or anything close to that, and try to figure out how you could make that an easily-repeatable process.
    • Analogy: I think the best method for creating a repeatable sales / growth process may be a lot like the best method for the creation of the product itself:
      • If you read stuff like the Lean Startup or read about successful companies like PayPal or Instagram or Twitter or Blogger, you see the same story over and over:
        1. the founders created a bunch of features and got some early users,
        2. they paid very close attention to what the users liked the most / what was working the best, and
        3. they then focused 100% on that feature / use-case.
      • Similarly, the way to create a repeatable sales process may be to try a bunch of different things and see which seems to work.
        • When PayPal was starting out, Peter Thiel:
          1. tried a bunch of different things
            • he authorized his marketing guy to spend $1 million “as quickly as possible”; the guy ended up spending it on ads that didn’t have much of an effect
          2. one of the things they tried did work quite well: offering a $20 bonus for signing up yourself, and a $20 bonus for signing up someone else.
          3. So they then focused on that method.
    • Example: I suspect that one case you saw of the one guy who was able to sign up a bunch of his colleagues is a big opportunity. If I were you, I would spend a lot of time talking to that guy, thinking about that situation, and thinking about how you could make it happen more. If you can come up with a way to make that repeatable, you can raise a ton of money like PayPal did and just feed the raised money into this viral-growth-machine and end up with your service all over the country in no time at all.
  • I highly recommend watching this talk by Parker Conrad, since you seem to be targeting roughly the same demographic as him:
  • I would try to talk to salespeople for other businesses that sell to the companies you’re trying to sell to and maybe even pay them as consultants to give you tips / pointers on the best way to break in.
    • For example, the sales rep for Rochester-Midland Corporation for the SF Bay area recommended that she stop by to talk to our HR person and the building management show off their bathroom-deodorizer product. This may not be the best strategy in your case, but if I were you I would want to know about that strategy and all the other strategies being used by companies selling to the same customers.

Here are some particular viral-ish growth strategies I’d be inclined to try:

  • If you get someone at a new company to sign up and you aren’t sure if they’re influential or not, offer them $20 to find out who the most talkative / outgoing / influential person is at the company.
  • Alternatively, try to figure out on your own who the most influential person at a company is.
    • Look at their job title
      • Sales guys – If this one guy who signed up everybody was a sales guy, that may indicate that sales guys at most companies are likely to be the most-talkative and outgoing.
        • At my company, the most-outgoing person I can think of is a Sales Engineer.
          • [Link to his LinkedIn profile redacted]
          • Just from looking at his profile briefly, I came up with some ideas (listed below).
      • More-senior guys
        • At my company, the people who have been around longer / have higher titles tend to be more influential.
    • Look at their online presence – You may be able to get a sense of who is most likely to be an influencer by looking at their LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter / etc. profiles.
      • Scrape LinkedIn profiles and look for people who look the happiest / have the biggest smiles.
      • Look for people who have exclamation points in their profile.
        • [Example from my company redacted.]
      • Look for the most-attractive people.
        • Unfortunately there isn’t an API for this yet (that I’m aware of), but I know that on Instagram the female models are heavily-pursued by advertisers. If you could find the most-attractive men / women at a company via their LinkedIn profile pic, you could have a similar set-up except you wouldn’t be competing against any other advertisers.
      • Look for people with the most connections.
        • I have 255 connections on LinkedIn, [my outgoing coworker] has “500+”.
    • Look at their car – You may be able to look at what car everyone drives in a parking lot and go after the people with the nicest cars, since [that may correlate with how willing they are to try the product]. [Edited to remove identifying information.]
      • You could leave a flattering, fancy-looking flier underneath their windshields offering them a special deal because they have such a nice car.
        • Flattery goes a long way.
        • The more you can hone in on the people you want to reach, the more money you can spend on the promotional material.
  • I would give the influencers a message that flatters them and is honest about why you need their help in particular:
    •  “We have this great new product but it’s a little unusual, and so people may be reluctant to try it. We’re looking for the most influential people within each company to lead the way, and we’re willing to compensate them for their time. X told us you were the one to talk to / We determined you were likely to be an influencer based on X.”
  • Offer free samples and / or a money-back guarantee: If you’re really convinced that the product is so good that once people try it they won’t want to stop, then it may be a good idea to take on the risk that the customer feels about trying something new by offering a free sample / money-back guarantee when you first try it.
    • Examples
      • Red Bull loves to give away free samples of its product because it knows the product is so good people will keep coming back.
      • 5-Hour Energy loves to give away free samples.
      • Cigarette companies love to give away free samples.
      • PythonAnywhere offers a money-back guarantee for the first 30 days after you sign up for a new plan.
    • On the other hand, the companies I list in the examples seem to have higher margins and cheaper products, so it may require some fiddling to get it to work for your business.
    • If you’re not confident in the product enough to offer a money-back guarantee, then that may indicate a product issue that needs to get fixed.
  • Offer bonuses for being the first (few) person(s) at your company to sign up.
    • Like I said [in conversation] before, it seems that signing up a new company is hardest at the beginning, and then gets easier as more and more people sign up.
    • Thus it seems you should front-load your bonuses to offer bigger rewards to early adopters and fewer / no rewards to the laggards.
  • Offer bonuses for all employees of the first company in an office park to sign up.
    • This is the same idea as above, except inserting “company” where before there was “individual”. I’d bet that as more and more companies in an office-building sign up, it’ll get easier to sign up the other companies.
    • So you may want to front-load your bonuses towards the early-adopting companies, and offer fewer / no rewards to the laggard companies.
    • Examples:
      • When Mark Cuban was starting his first company, he did his first job for free in exchange for being able to use the company as a reference.
  • Set up some kind of PayPal / affiliate-marketing-type program so that the people who end up being very good at signing up new customers can keep making money by doing it for other companies.
    • If this one sales guy was able to sign up his entire company, you may want to try to incentivize him to sign up other companies in the same area.
    • Examples:
      • PayPal offered a $20 bonus for signing up yourself and a $20 bonus for signing up a someone else. They had people who were making $10,000 by referring other people to sign up.
      • Amazon has had an affiliate marketing program since its early days in which bloggers can link to a product on Amazon’s website and get paid for the referral. Bloggers love it and I’m sure it’s helped Amazon.

Written by Nathan Wailes

January 23rd, 2016 at 6:57 pm

I have made a bet that Trump will win the Republican nomination for President

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In 2012 I wrote a post in which I suggested betting against people who believed that the world was coming to an end. Unfortunately I didn’t know how to find such people.

I recently discovered that you can currently go onto betting sites and get ~3:1 odds on a bet that Trump will be the Republican nominee (so if he’s the nominee, you get $3; if he isn’t, you lose $1). I bet some money on on December 16 (about a week ago) at 3:1 odds that he’d do it, not because I’m totally convinced that he will, but because:

  1. Regardless of who the candidate is, those odds seem suspicious to me for someone who appears to be so far ahead in the polls,
  2. I don’t find it that hard to believe that the party that had Sarah Palin on the ticket as the VP nominee might nominate Trump for President,
  3. I find it harder to believe that Republican delegates would vote against Trump even if he won their state and was leading in the national polls,
  4. The betting market for this election appears to be relatively small compared to the financial markets and so it seems there’s more likely to be exploitable inefficiencies in the way people are making bets,
  5. The media has been repeatedly wrong about predicting Trump’s fall in the polls,
  6. I’ve read that many successful investors / entrepreneurs got experience picking stocks / making bets when they were younger, and I’m trying to copy the habits of successful people, and
  7. I have an interest in finance / trading / value investing but have avoided dabbling in the financial markets because there’s so much competition that I doubt I would have a competitive advantage, and smaller betting markets seem like a way to get experience in a less-competitive environment.

So I’m treating this primarily as a learning experience.

How I could be wrong

  1. A persuasive counter-argument I’ve heard is that it’s still early enough that anything could happen. I agree with that. I just don’t think that the odds should be 3:1 against someone with the kind of lead Trump appears to have.
  2. Another point I’ve heard is that Trump’s support is largely among people who have been less likely to vote in past elections, and that this low turnout is likely continue into this election.
  3. Another point I’ve heard is that Trump’s get-out-the-vote efforts are weaker than those of his opponents, and that this could lead to a difference between his polling numbers and the actual vote tallies.
  4. I think a danger for Trump that the media doesn’t seem to be talking about is character assassination; Trump seems to be filling the role of the “straight-talking, no-nonsense” candidate that Chris Christie was supposed to be playing in this election, until Chris Christie’s reputation was severely damaged by the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal (“Bridgegate”). It seems plausible that what happened to Christie could happen to Trump.
    • The problem with waiting for a Trump-character-assassination before the Republican nomination is that:
      1. Democrats don’t seem to feel an incentive to use character assassination at the moment because they have reason to believe that they’ll have an easier time winning the general election if Trump wins the Republican nomination.
      2. The other Republican candidates seem to not want to risk being associated with going after Trump because they’re worried about ending up on the bad side of Trump’s supporters.
    • I think the best way for other Republican candidates to go after Trump would be to paint him as a lier. They could find people from Trump’s past to tell Trump’s supporters that Trump has historically loved to make promises that he can’t–and has no intention to–deliver. This way the other Republican candidates can avoid criticizing the controversial proposals that Trump’s supporters seem to love. However, to execute this strategy would require the candidates to be very aggressive about researching Trump’s past in a very short amount of time.

Ultimately I don’t like this way of placing bets; I’d much rather be Ed Thorp with his mathematically-proven blackjack system than someone who bets off a hunch. But this exercise is turning out to be a very useful way to motivate myself to get more practice at evaluating bets; I’m already thinking about using web-scrapers and machine learning to get an edge that I could be more confident about.

I’m keeping more-detailed notes here.

Written by Nathan Wailes

December 24th, 2015 at 10:03 pm

Alcohol may reduce anxiety while programming

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On Sunday I had my first-ever alcoholic drink on my own initiative, without being prompted by someone to drink (it was a Stella Artois in the fridge at work).

I decided to try it as an experiment to see if it would take away this anxious feeling I’ve been getting for years when I’m trying to program and I’m running into one error after another; the feeling ends up making me procrastinate really heavily, to the point where I’ll go an entire day without getting anything done.

I got the idea from reading Mark Zuckerberg’s blog posts from when he was creating Face Mash, in which he seems to describe drinking to take away the anxiety of not having your code working: “It’s taking a few tries to compile the script…another Beck’s is in order.“.

Well, it seemed to work. I’m not sure if it was just the placebo effect or not. I didn’t finish the beer. I’ll probably keep experimenting with it. Obviously it’s something to be careful with.

Written by Nathan Wailes

December 1st, 2015 at 5:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Read Business Biographies

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Here’s an email I recently sent to someone who is interested in starting a business within the next few years; he had asked me if I had any advice from having read a bunch of business (auto)biographies:

I’ve attached a list of some of the books I’ve read since graduating college. Note: I haven’t read all of those books cover-to-cover, but I only included books on that list where I read the “meat” of the book. I’ll explain:

I recommend you think about reading books like eating steaks at a restaurant or in your home. Sometimes you’ll get a steak served to you that has a little fat around the edges, and what I do is cut that part out and not eat it. Sometimes you’ll have a lot of fat, and you only end up eating half of what was given to you by weight. Books work the same way.

I recommend that if you decide to read business biographies, you focus on the first few chapters, where it is explained how the person went from being like anybody else to being more successful than other people. If those chapters make up only 1/10 of the book, I think it’s smarter to read those chapters 10 times than to read the entire book once.

Another analogy I use to explain how to read is Ikea furniture: when I’m assembling Ikea furniture, I don’t read the instruction manual cover-to-cover before I start. I just read the first step and do that step, and then I read the next step. Business biographies work the same way: most biographies spend the bulk of their pages talking about the subject once he/she was already successful, but that isn’t as useful to people like us because we haven’t yet gotten to the same level of success.

So instead of reading these books cover-to-cover, you’d be better off focusing on the beginning, which is more relevant to your current situation. If you follow that strategy you’ll also be able to get through more books, and you’ll develop a better sense of what other successful people have done early in their careers.

Wailes, Nathan – Continued Study

Written by Nathan Wailes

March 7th, 2015 at 5:36 pm

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Update: December 2014 & How I Got My New Job

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I have moved from Washington, D.C. to Palo Alto, California for a new job. On December 8 I began working at a start-up called “Infer”, which is using machine learning to help companies focus their salesmen on the potential customers who are most likely to buy. I got the job offer after I created a Python script that automatically applied to jobs on HackerNews’ monthly “Who’s Hiring?” thread.

One thing I found interesting was that I actually applied to Infer twice: once on August 1st, and again on September 10th. The first time I applied I never heard from them, but the second time I was offered an interview. I thought that was interesting because I had made several changes to my application materials between the first and second time I applied.

Below is the resume I sent them on August 1st:

Wailes, Nathan – Resume

And below are the attachments I sent them the second time:

Wailes, Nathan – Continued Study Wailes, Nathan – Portfolio Wailes, Nathan – References Wailes, Nathan – Resume

From this whole experience I came to a few conclusions that I could use in a future job search. I then tried out these ideas on Tinder and OkCupid and they really seem to work:

1. Don’t spend much/any time learning about a company / woman until they express some interest in your candidacy. Learning about a company / person takes time. If you do that for every potential company / date, you are going to lose a lot of time to that process. Also, by doing it you risk developing feelings for them and getting hurt if they don’t reciprocate. Not having imagined yourself being happy with them also helps you relax in the interview. It took me a long time to learn this lesson.

2. It’s very useful to have a way to quickly send your application to a lot of potential employers / potential dates. This is helpful because 1. Your odds of getting any particular job / date are low (so if you’re slow at applying, it’ll take a lot longer to find a job), and 2. It’s demotivating to spend a lot of time applying to jobs without hearing back (and so you risk giving up altogether). A general rule to follow is: Try to figure out how to limit the time you spend applying to a particular job / sending a message to a potential date to the amount of time that that person will spend on their initial evaluation of your candidacy. So if they’re going to spend 10-20 seconds looking at your resume, try to figure out how to apply to each job in 10-20 seconds or less. My Python script for HackerNews takes less than 5 minutes to set up and it applies to ~100-170 jobs. There’s a new HackerNews “Who’s Hiring” thread every month, so I can repeat this every month. That’s an extreme example. A first step is to stop customizing your application to the employer; I wasted a lot of time doing that when I first started applying to jobs straight out of college.

3. Even if the employer / female says they have specific requirements, apply anyway. Many will be interested in talking to a candidate who has an interesting application that is close to being what they want, even if that candidate wasn’t what they initially had in mind. The job position at Infer that they had posted on HackerNews–the one I applied to–was one I was not at all qualified for. The smarter employers will be on the lookout for talented people; it’s one of the big pieces of advice given in the well-known business book “Good to Great”. Regarding dating, I have heard back from many women who said in their profile that they had particular requirements (which I didn’t meet). But this bit of advice (“apply anyway”) is only really useful after you figure out how to apply to a lot of jobs quickly, because you are probably going to have a lower chance of getting jobs you don’t fully qualify for, and so if it takes you 30 minutes to apply to each job you’d be better off focusing on the ones you are best qualified for.

4. Try to make the potential employer’s / date’s  evaluation job easier, even if that means doing things they haven’t explicitly requested. For example, most job postings on HackerNews will tell you something like, “Send your resume to”. But that doesn’t mean you have to only send your resume. Between August and September I changed my application to not only include my resume, but also a portfolio of projects, references, and books I had read. It made it easier for the potential employer to get to know me. I also made my initial email short (just 1 sentence), whereas many people will have long multi-paragraph “cover letter”-ish emails, which just make the potential employer’s job harder when they have a hundred applications to consider. In my resume I underlined the most important points I wanted the potential employer to notice / remember, which makes it easier for people to skim. I have spent a lot of time working on my website / YouTube / LinkedIn / Facebook and have them all public, so potential employers / dates who want to learn about me have a much easier time doing so. On Tinder / OKCupid, I immediately cut to the chase and invite potential dates to dinner, saving us both time (the normal etiquette is to trade messages with the woman to help her decide if she wants to meet in person, but in my opinion that’s not really a very helpful way for the woman to decide). To help them decide whether to accept my invitation to dinner, I give them my full name and invite them to Google me. I have had at least one young woman say I was the only person to ever do that, and she seemed very pleasantly surprised.

5. Invest time in making yourself a candidate potential employers / dates will be interested in. If you spend all of your free time watching TV shows and eating ice cream, you may have trouble competing against people who spend their free time working out, studying new job skills, finding nice clothing, or otherwise grooming themselves. I have met a lot of people and seen a lot of resumes from people who–even if they followed all of the advice above–would still have trouble finding a good job because they just don’t have a lot to offer, and they don’t have a lot to offer because of the way they are spending their free time.

Written by Nathan Wailes

December 17th, 2014 at 2:39 am

Posted in Monthly Update

Update: September 2014

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Below is an email I sent to a friend of mine who is coaching me through the process of how to break into the programming world. He went to Princeton, worked at Google for a year or two, and has now been working at hedge funds for the past few years, so I trust his advice.


I made good progress this month: I made changes to my job application email (see below), my Python script sent out ~130 emails about a week ago to people posting in the HackerNews “Who’s Hiring” thread, and my inbox is now full of ~30-40 responses. I’ve had ~5 phone interviews in the past few days, three or four of which were with people who went to Princeton / Harvard / Yale / MIT, and I have a bunch of people I need to get back to via email.

I think I’ve pretty much figured out how to get an interview. Now I need to practice getting past the interview. For the interviews I’ve had I can tell I have consistently underwhelmed my interviewer when they give me a coding challenge. For the next month I’m going to focus on HackerRank and Cracking the Coding Interview.

What I did this past month:

1) In August I only attached my resume to my emails. This time I attached my resume, portfolio, references, and a list of books I’ve read since I graduated college. (I’ve attached everything I used just in case you’re curious.) I think this was a big part of why I got so many more responses this time, especially the portfolio.

2) I made the changes you recommended to my resume. When I first read what you wrote I was defensive, thinking, “I don’t want to work with squares!”, but after thinking about it longer I agree with you: a certain level of formality can inspire confidence in a potential-employer when you’re first getting to know them; it helps show that you know how to get down to business.

3) I “rebranded” some of my previous jobs: for any job where I used programming to get my job done, I described myself as being a Developer of some sort, as opposed to being an Administrative Assistant who uses programming to get his job done faster.

4) I ran an A/B test on my resume: for half the emails I sent out I used a resume that said I had just graduated from DevBootcamp, and for the other half of the emails my resume said I had been accepted and was deciding whether to go. Surprisingly (to me), I actually got more responses to the resume that said I hadn’t gone to DevBootcamp. All but one of my phone interviews were for applications that said I hadn’t gone. Today I had an interview with an MIT PhD who said he found it very impressive that I was self-taught. So I think I’m going to pass on going to a bootcamp and just focus on being able to pass an interview (big-O notation, data structures, algorithms, coding challenges).

5) I added a second page to my portfolio with some more-minor projects.

6) Last month I applied the day that the HN thread was posted. This time I procrastinated and sent the emails out about a week later. Because of the large response I got, I suspect that might be a better way to do it in the future.

———Unrelated to my job applications————-

6) I started reading Calculus For Dummies, Linear Algebra For Dummies, Sams Teach Yourself SQL In 10 Minutes, and Beginning Programming With Java For Dummies. I’m trying to do a chapter a day for each book as much as possible. I can read the SQL / Java book at work without having to worry about getting in trouble, and I read the Calc/Lin. Alg. book at home in bed when I’m getting ready to go to sleep.

Written by Nathan Wailes

September 16th, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Update: July 2014

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Since September 2013 I have been working at a DC startup called “Hitch”, which coordinated the installation and management of credit card machines in the back of DC taxis. The installations were generally finished by December 2013, at which point the company shifted to troubleshooting problems with the systems (drivers not being paid, machines breaking down). The CEO is now hoping to use this position to create a taxi dispatch app that would compete with Uber.

While working there I have continued to study programming and business. Over the past few months I have been developing a computer program that automatically applies to jobs on Craigslist, and after getting it to work for myself I put in a few dozen more hours to get it working for other people as well. At the moment I have it running for 5 people, and I’m beginning to cold-call people to find more testers.

Written by Nathan Wailes

July 30th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Update: July 2013

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Here’s a message I sent to a math/programming-genius friend of mine who’s helping me stay motivated while I study math/programming:

I’ve been procrastinating about sending you an update, so this’ll be a partial list of things I’ve been thinking about:

1. If you find YouTube ads annoying, Google “adblockplus”. It installs in 1 click for Chrome and disables ALL ads. It’s amazing, and I can’t believe I’ve been dealing with ads for years when they’re so easy to get rid of.

2. Check out “Dimmer” for dimming your screen, if that’s annoying and you don’t already have a solution.

3. Check out AutoHotkey for Windows (it lets you move the mouse around, click, press key combinations). It’s great as a way of creating a macro that works across different programs, eg you want to copy something from Excel, switch to Chrome, and paste it in Google Search.

4. I started working on a Venn Diagram Teacher for my LSAT students but lost interest when it came time to make a menu:

5. I found these cool explanations of how you can use linear algebra to analyze Chutes & Ladders and Candyland:

6. I’ve started a serious effort to try to be active in the AoPS community, use their free Alcumus service, and do a page from the AoPS Vol. 1 book every day. I’ve started with the topics I found most interesting (probability, counting, proofs), and I’m doing the practice problems at the end of each chapter every 2-3 days so that I get spaced-out practice.

6a. I helped Richard Rusczyk solve a problem he was having by using AutoHotkey, he responded “Wow; thanks. You really crushed that.”:

7. I spent a lot of time learning about AoPS, MATHCOUNTS, the AMCs, USAMO, and the IMO. I honestly had only the vaguest conception of what any of those things were when you would talk about them during high school. I watched the documentary “Hard Problems” on YouTube:

8. I’ve continued to make slow-and-steady progress studying for a perfect score on the SAT. I’m going through “Dr. John Chung’s SAT Math”, making flashcards of every problem that I i) get wrong, ii) find hard, or iii) solved in a different way than the solution given in the book. I can tell that I’m slowly getting better.

9. I highly, highly recommend that you check out Anki. It has really been amazing at helping me learn Spanish, Russian, German, American Sign Language, math, programming, people’s names, the main ideas from books, etc. I know you said that you found spaced repetition to not be efficient without understanding WHY some mathematical thing was true (eg constantly rereading books), but I think that you can incorporate your idea of picking-stuff-apart into Anki. For example, you can add a card that says “This theorem says that these two things are necessary. Why is the first thing necessary? What happens if you don’t have it?” and then on the back of the card it can be the lesson that you learned from working it out. Here’s a useful reference of how to make effective cards:

10. I’ve been slowly making Anki flashcards for Teach Yourself Mathematical Groups, Introductory Graph Theory, and some other things. My goal is to make the cards work so well that a person can learn the material without reading the book. I’m starting to suspect that books are going to become outdated technology once people figure out how to use computers to help people learn faster. You can find my flashcards here:

11. The more math I do, the more I’m enjoying it for its own sake.

12. I highly, highly recommend that you learn about the mathematicians Ed Thorp and Jim Simons if you don’t already know about them.
Jim Simons talking about his career:
Very, very interesting articles/chapters (re: Jim Thorp, Michael Dell, etc.):

13. After I took the LSAT I wrote up a lengthy guide on how I did it, which is now considered by many to be one of the best out there:
Would you consider writing up a short guide on how you got to where you are? I remember asking you about this in the past but I still only have a vague idea of what your path was (all I remember is you saying something like, “I was doing math on my own when I was like 4”). I’d be interested in things like, Did your parents read to you when you were growing up? Did you participate in MATHCOUNTS? What books did you use when you were in elementary / middle school? Were you in math clubs in elementary / middle school? What was the exact chronology of your learning to program? Was there a club at your elementary/middle school for programming? Did you start learning once you got to BCA, or did you know how to do it beforehand? Basically, I’m interested in having a very nitty-gritty understanding of how you got to be so good.

Written by Nathan Wailes

July 16th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Monthly Update: January 2013

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What I’ve been up to since my last post (June 2012):

– I started reading some books about programming / tech: Coders At Work, Founders At Work, the first few chapters of C++ Primer Plus (Prata), The Quants, started Dark Pools, most of The Facebook Effect, A Field Guide to Genetic Programming, most of Tesla’s autobiography, most of Googled by Ken Auletta (the story of Google), Automate This, started The Singularity Is Near, started Rainbow’s End, read most of On Intelligence, started some intro to Arduino books, tried to start “Concrete Mathematics: A Foundation for Computer Science” (it’s very slow going).  I also did some USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) puzzles on their website.

– I started reading some books about mathematics: The Quants, Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction, Letters to a Young Mathematician, The Cartoon Guide to Statistics, started A Prime Obsession, Logicomix, started Everything And More by David Foster Wallace, a biography of Einstein, Innumeracy, started The Colossal Book of Mathematics, read about half of Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (Keith Devlin).  I also watched a lot of KhanAcademy videos on math.

– read some (auto)biographies: Money Mavericks (re: being a hedge fund manager), started Ben Graham’s autobiography, read about half of Pour Your Heart Into It (re: Starbucks), started King of Capital (re: Steve Schwarzman), ‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!’ (great book), started The House of Morgan, The Education of Millionaires (easy read w/ good info and good anecdotes), started the bio of Einstein by Isaacson (mentioned above), bio of Steve Jobs by Isaacson

– misc books: The Cartoon Introduction to Economics (Vols 1+2), started The Great Hangover (re: Vanity Fair articles about the ’08 financial crisis)

Written by Nathan Wailes

January 31st, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Monthly Update