Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

The Witness: a short review, admission of failure

Spoilers of course.

I wrapped up The Witness tonight -- just the main ending, didn't 100% / see the other ending. Overall I had a fun time. It either took me 15 hours or 20 hours (my connection went out during one session so may have killed ~5 hours of time being logged). But by the end I was pretty done with the game. Last weekend I got to the endgame area in the Mountain (minimum lasers), and almost gave up during the area before the two-light-path-puzzle floor because the puzzles there are bullshit. I continued until I completed that, and stopped. I could have played again several times since last weekend but didn't, I knew more bullshit would await me to wrap up the endgame. Sure enough there was more, but I wrapped it up tonight, and now I'm done.

The only puzzle I remember successfully bruteforcing was the final tree area one. All the previous puzzles were pretty straightforward since you just look for the apple / broken branches or whatever. The last one I couldn't make sense of even after I found the solution by brute force. Whatever.

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Mindlessness Meditation

My company has been pushing the 'mindfulness meditation' stuff on its employees for a while now. Long story short, I don't really like it, nor its goals, but that's probably because I have a more effective technique (for me) for my own goals. Maybe more effective for introverted nerds too. In particular, during one of the guided meditations I tried several months ago (since I figured I'd give it a shot for comparison) one of the comments was something like (taken from the mindfulness website): "Think of a time you were talking with a friend, spouse, or therapist about an important situation in your life, and when the conversation was over you felt lighter, loved, and cared for." My issue there is: I can't think of such a time! And this was the case for most of the "think of a time..." guide phrases. I'm just too weird I guess. Or I'm a man, mindfulness seems to attract more women than men, it may be because its methods resonate with women more easily.

I call my method 'mindlessness' now to contrast it with 'mindfulness'. But it's really just intentional zoning out, stopping your conscious thinking. It came about during my early teenage years while I learned about Taoism. I certainly have mistaken views about that and I don't claim my form of meditation is necessarily more 'Taoist' than not, though I do like to think of it like that sometimes. In any case, don't a lot of (at least western) meditation advocates like to say meditation is a personal thing you do for yourself and that there's no truly wrong way to do it?

My way is pretty simple, though not always easy. The goal is to empty your mind. Cease your thinking. That's it. A little more elaboration? If you are aware of anything, let it be that you are aware that you're aware there is no other thought besides that awareness and that is OK. Surrender to the Void (or perhaps the Tao) and relinquish your emotions, your body sensations, your very thoughts, to the flow of just Being in a state very close to Non-Being. Achieve nothingness.

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Emails restored

Last week I noticed I had stopped getting emails about new comments on my blog posts. (And similarly no emails to commenters about new comments in their thread went out.) I'm not quite sure when this happened, but it was at least as early as October, since I got an email in June but didn't get the next comment email that happened in October. It's not unlikely that the problems started after I upgraded Ubuntu and my ec2 instance type.

Now that it's resolved I'm also not sure about the ordering of what went wrong or why. So I'll just describe all the issues and my fixes, maybe it'll help someone.

My blog runs on Amazon's EC2 and uses their SES to send emails. This requires verifying my domain, and the way they want to verify domains is by you adding a TXT entry in your DNS records. When I noticed my emails were dead, I went to the SES console and discovered my domain verification had somehow been expired. I went to my domain administration page, and sure enough the TXT entry I had since 2012 or so was still there. A key of "" and a value of some b64 key. I told Amazon to reverify, and went on a business trip.

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