Reflections on 2023
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Another full year:
- My son was born in February. He's doing great. He was briefly 95th percentile BMI and is crawling really fast. He and my daughter get along great.
- I left my job at the Arena Group. I feel a little bad because I was only there two years and took a lot of parental leave but it kind of felt risky to stay. They did a large layoff on my second week of parental leave and the stock dropped from 15 to 2 (From the extreme high to extreme low. 8 to 3 may be a more reasonable description). I had a great time there and worked with some great people. But I'm a little more excited about the current thing than legacy publishing.
- I started a new job at Abante AI working on mentat in September. It's been a lot of fun to work on AI agents for code generation. Some of the highlights since I've started:
- Adding gpt vision to mentat
- Adding whisper to mentat
- Creating exercism benchmarks. Because we had them ready to go the day after dev day I was able to hit number one on hackernews with this blog
- I was able to use gpt-4 transcripts from these benchmarks to fine tune gpt-3.5. Which improves performance and allows one to omit the system prompt making it slightly cheaper. We haven't done anything with the 3.5 models because they're still worse than gpt-4 and we'd have to host them ourselves (no way to publish an openai fine tuned model). But it was cool.
- Running local models. I dmed biobootloader for an M3 mac the day mixtral came out. Looks like it only does ~6% on a benchmark that gpt-3.5 does ~30% on and llama-70b does even worse. So they're not quite there yet. But it will be good to be early. Feels like only a matter of time. If the main bottle neck is sticking to our edit format finetuning may help a great deal.
- Wrote 17 blog posts. I wrote the more ambitious posts I said I was procrastinating on in my last years retro on utilitarianism, and alcohol defense (partially retracted). And I wrote some other large ambitious posts like my ios v android comparison.
- Wrote 2 vim plugins. ChatVim actually got some stars and more than one person has dmed me saying they actually use it and appreciate it. I still use it every day.
- Made string poaster, a tool for cross posting to Twitter like social networks. I made it during a proliferation in social networks. Some of which actually seemed like a place I'd like to be active. I use it a lot but less than I should. I can use it on my phone through termux but it's a little awkward. One of my new years resolutions is to start using it exclusively. One day I'll be big on threads.
- Speaking of which I had a lot of success on Twitter. I made it to 550 followers and got some big follows like Roon and Eigenrobot. I'm proud of a lot of my work like my first tweet to make it past 400 or my first tweet over 700. Though of course my best tweet went unappreciated.
- I made this blog a newsletter as documented here.
- During paternity leave I made an auto trader bot for Kalshi to try to profit from their rebate program. I did over 2 million dollars in volume but couldn't get it profitable by the time my job restarted and had to stop. Felt like I was really close but I didn't have a principled way to make changes or really inspect what was working. I was feeling in the dark. I learned clojure for the project which was fun. Sort of a mistake in our glorious chat gpt future though.
- I came in 15th at Magic fest vegas. I played 2 other RCQs one of which I lost the semis and the other I 0-2ed. That one I'd been up since 2 am writing my Kalshi Market Maker holding my son. So I'm not too surprised.
- My last paper was finally published. Things move slow.
- I watched more tv this year. I watched the following movies for the first time: Casablanca, GoldenEye, Oppenheimer, Barbie, Interstellar, Balls of Fury (didn't finish), Soylent Green, the Santa Claus 1 and 2, the Muppet's Christmas, Meet the Fockers, Dirty Dancing, and Napolean Dynomite and I rewatched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I also watched succession. I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings the most which was a complete masterpiece. I didn't enjoy it so much when I watched it as a teenager. I don't think I had the attention span to watch something so long or the disposition to appreciate fantasy.
- I read only two books: Slouching towards Bethlehem and Getting Clojure.
- We got Smash Ultimate and unlocked all the characters. I played each character twice and then no more. Honestly it was a great way to experience the game. I don't know why as a kid I would pick a character and only play it for weeks. We also played all the new Mariokart courses which as always was a complete delight.
All in all a great year. I keep track of my moods and activities everyday with Daylio. Here's my mood chart:
Notice how clearly you can see when my son was born, when paternity leave ended and when I changed jobs.
Looking back at my resolutions from last year:
- Squat 225. Honestly I should be able to do that already. I just need to be more consistent in 2022. My current best is 205.
Not even close here. I'm mostly weaker than I was last year.
- Get to 300 twitter followers. My tweets are great! Though honestly twitter is maybe dying. Might be time to get back to posting on FB or move on to Mastadon. Maybe linkedin? Where is everyone? Maybe the future is little insular discords. Why do I want a "follower" anyway. I'm not Jesus.
Overshot this one by a fair bit. I've been tweeting good.
- I want to launch another consumer SAAS thing like prediction alerts. I think I could do it twice as fast next time. I don't yet have an idea for something that would be valuable to make though.
Didn't really ever attempt something exactly like this in the end. But my Kalshi Market Maker and ChatVim are close enough in spirit I guess.
- Keep on top of AI developments as a user. I use copilot every time I code. And I've used a little bit of ChatGPT and Dall-E. But I should incorporate these tools more extensively into my development and writing. There will be a great period before ~2025, when I'm replaced completely, when they'll allow me to go 2-10 faster.
I guess now that I'm working at Mentat I can consider this accomplished. A neverending struggle to stay on top of anything in the space of course.
2.5/4 Isn't bad. Some resolutions for next year:
- Write way more code. I should triple this number:
- Lift almost every day (Let's say over 300 days to be concrete). I started a habit of doing one lift a day around Thanksgiving this year and I'd like to keep with it.
- Stream more. I've only streamed twice since starting at Abante. It's open source so in theory I could stream all of it. I just need to start a habit. The two times I did stream I wanted to pick something fun and exploratory but really I should stream easier things and just my normal job. Streaming is hard so I shouldn't aim to do difficult creative things on stream. I've been incorporating Mentat more and more into my workflow so it could serve as a kind of ad. And in many ways I think the most valuable thing we could be doing is promoting Mentat more.
- Use string poaster almost exclusively to post. There's a lot of small QoL tweaks I have to make. For example link embeds need to be handled differently for some services. But the gains for being active everywhere seem large. Of course they're not really because you get followers (partially) by reply guying and (partially) by already having followers so it's hard to imagine ever being half as successful on any of these other services as I am on Twitter without putting effort in.