I'm Ben! I like trying to understand the world, building things that improve it, and talking about it on the Internet.

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You don’t need to work on hard problems

A lot of smart college students end up with the idea that “solving hard technical problems” is the best thing they can do with their life—probably because that’s the only thing they’ve ever been rewarded for so far.

Your room can be as bright as the outdoors

focusing after dark • corn cob bulbs • before + after photos • saving ½–2h/day • my setup • why don’t more people do this?! • FAQs

Why and how to start a startup serving emerging markets

why it’s one of the most effective ways to improve the world • why it’s hard • “local context plus high standards” • how to get started • where to live • what to work on

Autocomplete as an interface

the real reason zsh beats bash • how I got twice as fast in python • autocompleting all the things • maximizing user-interface bandwidth

Why squared error?

its computational convenience • connections to the Gaussian distribution • differentiability and basis independence • why not squared error • absolute-error methods

Plants, continued fractions, and the golden ratio

where should one grow one’s leaves? • sunlight maximization • the most irrational number • Fibonacci phyllotaxis