Sunday, November 29, 2015

Contract Programmer Seeks Job in Cambridge (£500 reward)

Anyone in Cambridge need a programmer? I'll give you £500 if you can find me a job that I want.

CV at

I make my usual promise, which I have paid out on several times:

If, within the next six months, I take a job which lasts longer than one month, and that is not obtained through an agency, then on the day the first cheque from that job cashes, I'll give £500 to the person who provided the crucial introduction.

If there are a number of people involved somehow, then I'll apportion it fairly between them. And if the timing conditions above are not quite met, or someone points me at a shorter contract which the £500 penalty makes not worth taking, then I'll do something fair and proportional anyway.

And this offer applies even to personal friends, and to old contacts whom I have not got round to calling yet, and to people who are themselves offering work, because why wouldn't it?

And obviously if I find one through my own efforts then I'll keep the money. But my word is generally thought to be good, and I have made a public promise on my own blog to this effect, so if I cheat you you can blacken my name and ruin my reputation for honesty, which is worth much more to me than £500.

And I also make the following boast:

I know all styles of programming and many languages, and can use any computer language you're likely to use as it was intended to be used.

I have a particular facility with mathematical concepts and algorithms of all kinds. I can become very interested in almost any problem which is hard enough that I can't solve it easily.

I have a deserved reputation for being able to produce heavily optimised, but nevertheless bug-free and readable code, but I also know how to hack together sloppy, bug-ridden prototypes, and I know which style is appropriate when, and how to slide along the continuum between them.

I've worked in telecoms, commercial research, banking, university research, chip design, server virtualization, university teaching, sports physics, a couple of startups, and occasionally completely alone.

I've worked on many sizes of machine. I've written programs for tiny 8-bit microcontrollers and gigantic servers, and once upon a time every IBM machine in the Maths Department in Imperial College was running my partial differential equation solvers in parallel in the background.

I'm smart and I get things done. I'm confident enough in my own abilities that if I can't do something I admit it and find someone who can.

I know what it means to understand a thing, and I know when I know something. If I understand a thing then I can usually find a way to communicate it to other people. If other people understand a thing even vaguely I can usually extract the ideas from them and work out which bits make sense.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Prisoner's Dilemma is a Newcomb Problem

First Draft. Comments Please.


I've been feeling tired all the time recently.

It's been getting worse.

I went to the doctor's about it. He was very sympathetic. He asked me if I was getting enough sleep.

I'm getting more than enough. I go to bed at midnight and wake at noon. In the afternoons I often fall asleep in my chair, in front of the fire.

I think on average, I'm getting fourteen hours a day. It was when I realised that I decided it might be worth bothering a doctor.

He asked me if I was under much stress.

My grandfather said some pretty wise things when he was dying when I was a boy. One of them was "No-one ever died wishing they'd spent more time at work."

I intend to prove him wrong.

My entire life is optimised for not being stressful, and I'm good at it. I am the serenest motherfucker on the whole fucking planet. Bring it on.

So my doctor figured that there was probably some physical cause. He did a load of tests. He said to ring for the results in a week or so.

And the receptionist, she is like "We have got the results back, could you come in to see Dr Stewart to discuss them."

Her voice is bright.



It turns out that assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland (well, in Vaud canton, which is the one you can still smoke in, which is nice).

And what you do with your body afterwards is up to you.

That's a plan.

Great big vat of liquid nitrogen ho!

I think that being killed and then dumped into a vat of liquid nitrogen is not actually going to improve matters greatly.

Nobody know whether my will will stand up in court. There's never been a test case. But I don't have any heirs to dispute it. The popsicling is pretty pricey, but I'm going to leave the rest of my money to myself and see what happens.

My friend Mike assures me that the chances of this stuff working are as remote as the chances of God.

More worryingly, the entire respectable cryogenics profession agrees. Firmly. To a man.

Damned scientists. Messing with things they understand only too well.

The cryonicists (notice the difference) are quacks and ghouls. Save your money.

But they seem sincere.

Fuck Mike. Fuck the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. I'm *dying*.

I am the plastic cat.


I'm in the Lake District. But it's usually summer and it goes on for ever.

I came here after I got bored of the heart of the sun.

I'm wearing animal skins. Comfy. I've got a fucking great spear and a bow and arrow.

And a good horse. And a good woman. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen and she's the best friend I've ever had.

The most beautiful thing she's ever seen is our first child. I think he's pretty cool too. Baby skins! We're so happy. We have lots of friends. And lots of enemies too. I wouldn't be without our enemies.

Sometimes we spend all day fighting, and then afterwards when the stars come out we spend all night drinking and singing and going on and on about how well we fought and how we'll do even better tomorrow, you watch out. Snorri's a great poet. You're already feeling pretty smug but he can always make it sound better than it was.

I like to hunt and to fight and to fuck and to swim and to fly and to build, and I like our politics and our songs and our dances, but the best thing about the savannah is the maths library.

I like to read the books because I can go faster that way.

When I watch the videos, or do the computer proofs, I can't go nearly as fast. The main trouble is finding problems that I can't just work out myself.

The Riemann hypothesis took all afternoon. But it was worth it. So beautiful. And it's good to know the truth. Although in hindsight a child could have seen it.

Four colours is nice too.

Fermat is kind of an anticlimax. Even the proof in the Book is long-winded. And the payoff is not that great. Still.

I've left those a long way behind now. What was known when I died is baby stuff now. In fact the baby's getting there! So cute.

Yesterday we decided to play cricket instead of fighting. The crowd at Lord's was great. I really cannot see how Mr Bradman gets into position so quickly, but I have a plan. I'll get him before this Test's over.



I've been tied to the railway by a mad philosopher.

One day we're sitting round a singularity and this guy turns up.

Peersa, he's called. Peersa for the State.

He explains there's been 'an unfortunate mistake'.

They did me twice.

Another me's been running around his own perfect universe for the last hundred years. I wonder what he's been doing? I imagine we started off pretty much the same way.

I feel violated. I hope I never meet him, although I suppose it would be interesting in a weird sort of way.

I'd rather this hadn't happened. I asked Peersa why they couldn't just pause the second copy.

He said it wasn't clear which one of us *was* the second copy, which was a bit deflating.

The reason, he said, that they noticed, was that the bill for both our worlds has been going to the same account. And they started off the same. But in the last period, there was a difference.

There's been enough divergence that one of us needs more physics than the other.

Peersa won't tell me which one. He says it will break the symmetry.

He says we can't be merged. The resulting personality wouldn't be a true descendant of either of us. And it would be quite mad and very unhappy. They'd have to pause it on ethical grounds.

So at the moment they're running us half and half. He gets a second, I get a second. I haven't noticed of course.

But it means that my life will be half as long as it should be. Still quite long, of course.

Peersa offered me a cigar.

I like cigars, but he said Wait! It's a special cigar.

If I smoke it, they'll pause my other copy.

But of course, they've made him the same offer.

If he smokes his, then once he's finished it, my world stops. No more me. Death. Just when I was getting the hang of having outsmarted the old bastard.

It doesn't matter what I do. His choice makes all the difference.

The only choice I have is whether I've got a last smoke as I face the firing squad.

I like to smoke. I always have.

If we both do, Peersa's going to end up with my share of the cosmos. I can fucking see it.

If I don't, my enemy is.

I can smoke it any time I like. I wonder if he's already started his.

Monday, November 16, 2015


No idea where this is from originally, but it's cute:

A child couldn't sleep, so her mother told a story about a little frog,
  who couldn't sleep, so the frog's mother told a story about a little bear,
     who couldn't sleep, so bear's mother told a story about a little weasel
       ...who fell asleep.
     ...and the little bear fell asleep;
  ...and the little frog fell asleep;
...and the child fell asleep.