Apology

[For context: this happened]

I made a thoughtless and inappropriate judgement. I feel awful about it. Things quickly went from bad, to really bad after a miscommunication.

On Thursday morning, @scanlime’s OK Cupid profile appeared in my Matches section. I recognized her profile picture from her public personas and messaged her this:

It appeared truncated in her inbox as this:

Wow. I’ve been staring at that for a long time….

Truncated message or not, what I wrote was inappropriate, and I want to publicly apologize for it. I want to acknowledge why I think the message was inappropriate in the first place.

1) Referencing the GitHub issue was a violation of privacy. I crossed a boundary of identities, mixing professional and personal, public and private. In a private space such as OK Cupid, no one wants to be tapped on the shoulder by a stranger and told “hey I know you from this public thing!”

2) The tone could be taken as coercive. “Do this” coupled to an “or else.” Definitely not my intention, but again, bad.

I’ve told myself I was being sarcastic, and this was all a big misunderstanding, that I had no intent to provoke or harass. But regardless, being misunderstood is not an excuse. I had no right to cross the boundaries that I did. I am deeply sorry.

I encourage everyone and their mothers to find if your local Psych department is conducting any fMRI experiments. Seriously. They gave me $60 AND a 3D model of my brain to get in their fMRI and play a driving game for 2 hours.

I thought I’d just get 2D cross sections and I was looking forward to coming up with algorithms to make something cooler out of them. Turns out there’s incredibly amazing free 3D software that has already done it. I used Osirix. They even have an iPhone app. What has this world come to?

The Psychology of Tackling Hard Problems

The thing about hard problems is that there are many difficulties and few solutions. Sounds obvious, but what’s often overlooked is the psychological component to this asymmetry. There’s a simple reason why tackling a hard problem can lead to depressive symptoms: you’re necessarily wrong 99% of the time.

I’m getting my PhD in math, and developing a web app/startup on the side. I can tell you that one thing from my PhD research that I can carry over to my entrepreneurial ambitions is that you only have to be right 1% of the time. The hard part is, you need to be psychologically prepared to be wrong all other times.

I haven’t seen much discussion of this idea, but I’ve faced it repeatedly myself, and I often see it in others. I’ve seen it so often I’m convinced of its pervasiveness. Here’s an example. One of my peers tells me his numerics code isn’t working:

Me: Have you tried this test case?

Him: No, actually.

Me: Well that may isolate the bug.

Him: But I’m afraid that it won’t work.

Sound silly and contrived? It isn’t and I have complete sympathy for this situation. So many times in my work I’ve fantasized about the solution to an idea, and have been too afraid to implement it because of the subliminal fear that I will be, yet again, wrong. It’s a Pavlovian response to the track record of being repeatedly disappointed. Meanwhile, I delight in having new ideas, and enjoy brainstorming them. But without implementing them, the process is worthless.

The point is to be aware. If you find yourself resisting an obvious step due to an irrational fear, step back and force yourself to push onward. You only need to be right 1% of the time.

I publicly launched www.quipvideo.com yesterday. The project I’ve been working on for the past two years.
In that time Quip has been viewed by almost 500 people across 41 countries. Maybe you are one of those dots. I can’t explain how happy this has made me. I’ve poured so much of myself into this project. To have it reach a phase of completion where I can put it out there and it takes care of itself is wonderful.
People are commenting on videos they’ve posted on YouTube from years ago. Other people are replying to those comments. They’re interacting with each other over an infrastructure that I built. I feel like I invented the telephone. 
Working on Quip has been an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. I’m sure it will continue to be. But this is one of those high points, and I’m going to relish it. Thank you all for your continued support.

I publicly launched www.quipvideo.com yesterday. The project I’ve been working on for the past two years.

In that time Quip has been viewed by almost 500 people across 41 countries. Maybe you are one of those dots. I can’t explain how happy this has made me. I’ve poured so much of myself into this project. To have it reach a phase of completion where I can put it out there and it takes care of itself is wonderful.

People are commenting on videos they’ve posted on YouTube from years ago. Other people are replying to those comments. They’re interacting with each other over an infrastructure that I built. I feel like I invented the telephone. 

Working on Quip has been an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. I’m sure it will continue to be. But this is one of those high points, and I’m going to relish it. Thank you all for your continued support.

Pictures of the chicken heart. Most of them taken by Louis Tremblay.

I invited Louis to take some pictures. Here’s a showcase of old an new photos of the pyronado. The last picture was taken at precisely when the nichrome wire exploded in a firey glory.

Demoing Quip at Lynda.com
It went great! I successfully did not poop my pants.

Demoing Quip at Lynda.com

It went great! I successfully did not poop my pants.

My good buddy Jordan is pitching his video game Cloudberry Kingdom to the big guns at Microsoft HQ tomorrow. His trailer has gotten almost 25,000 views in just the last few days. You (and all your friends) should watch it at least 100 times each so that he can drop some buzzwords like “viral” and “phenomenotastical” with the requisite grassroots cred.

Good luck Jordan. Own that shit.