Building Tezos on Ubuntu 14.04

Install opam and ocaml utilities. At this time this results in opam version 1.2.2 and ocaml 4.02.3.

add-apt-repository ppa:avsm/ppa
apt-get update
apt-get install ocaml ocaml-native-compilers camlp4-extra opam

Add repo needed for libsodium-dev (at least) that the Tezos installation scripts will install.

add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php
apt-get update

Switch to Ocaml 4.03.0.

opam init
opam switch 4.03.0
eval `opam config env`

Clone the tezos source repo to /opt/tezos.

Build dependencies per

cd /opt/tezos
make build-deps

Install additional dependency manually:

opam install irmin.0.11.1

Build Tezos binaries.



Thanks to @arthurb on the Tezos slack and to the folks on the #ocaml IRC list for all the help.

When I ran into trouble and had to start from near scratch, here are the (drastic) steps. (I don’t have other Ocaml projects, yet).

rm -r $HOME/.opam
cd /opt/tezos
git clean -dxf

Then start again at opam init.

Committing to choices

In Resolving to Create a New You Ruth Chang argues that in making choices between alternatives that are on par (have much the same value to us) we should favor the choice that we can most fully commit to.

Instead of being led by the nose by what we imagine to be facts of the world, we should instead recognize that sometimes the world is silent about what we should do. In those cases, we can create value for ourselves by committing to an option. By doing so, we not only create value for ourselves but we also (re)create ourselves.

Can’t be understated

According to FirstRead,

the Iraq war’s effect on American politics can’t be understated, even 10 years later

So, according to that, anything that can be said is overstating the effect. One can’t state anything less about the effect.

Of course, they mean “should not be understated” rather than “can’t be understated”. But they could probably care less.

Making better decisions

New Scientist mag has a May 2007 article on “Top 10 ways to make better decisions“. Here is what I got from it.

  1. Don’t fear the consequences

    Rather than looking inwards and imagining how a given outcome might make you feel, try to find someone who has made the same decision or choice, and see how they felt. Remember also that whatever the future holds, it will probably hurt or please you less than you imagine. Finally, don’t always play it safe. The worst might never happen – and if it does you have the psychological resilience to cope.

  2. Go with your gut instincts

    faced with a simple choice, subjects picked better cars if they could think things through. When confronted by a complex decision, however, they became bamboozled and actually made the best choices when they did not consciously analyse the options.

  3. Consider your emotions
    This is a difficult one. Experiments show that people disconnected from their emotions due to neural damage have trouble making even basic decisions. On the other hand, anger and disgust can affect choices where the situation is unrelated to what triggered the emotion.
  4. Play the devil’s advocate
    Work against the “confirmation bias”, our tendency to ignore evidence that goes against our opinions. Or at least recognize that the bias exists.
  5. Keep your eye on the ball

    Our decisions and judgements have a strange and disconcerting habit of becoming attached to arbitrary or irrelevant facts and figures.

    Buying something because of a discounted “sale price” is an example. Only the price should really matter, not how much it is supposedly discounted.

  6. Don’t cry over spilt milk
    This is about the sunk cost fallacy: “the more we invest in something, the more commitment we feel towards it.”.
  7. Look at it another way
    This concerns the framing effect: “the choices we make are irrationally coloured by the way the alternatives are presented. In particular, we have a strong bias towards options that seem to involve gains, and an aversion to ones that seem to involve losses.”
    This leads to taking more risks to avoid losses than to obtain gains. Reframing the problem to look at it from the other side of the gain/loss perspective might help. [Not sure I understand this.]
  8. Beware social pressure

    How can you avoid the malign influence of social pressure? First, if you suspect you are making a choice because you think it is what your boss would want, think again. If you are a member of a group or committee, never assume that the group knows best, and if you find everyone agreeing, play the contrarian. Finally, beware situations in which you feel you have little individual responsibility – that is when you are most likely to make irresponsible choices.

  9. Limit your options
    Trying to maximize the best outcome by deliberating over all possible options, as opposed to being satisfied with “good enough”, can lead to less satisfaction.
  10. Have someone else choose
    When there is little information to go on, or the decision is trivial or has only distasteful options, it can be more satisfying to let someone (or even something) else choose.

(Via a blog post by Kol Tregaskes.)

Your brain is like a pile of sand

From Disorderly genius: How chaos drives the brain

your brain operates on the edge of chaos. Though much of the time it runs in an orderly and stable way, every now and again it suddenly and unpredictably lurches into a blizzard of noise.

systems on the edge of chaos are said to be in a state of “self-organised criticality“. These systems are right on the boundary between stable, orderly behaviour – such as a swinging pendulum – and the unpredictable world of chaos, as exemplified by turbulence.

experiments have confirmed that these models accurately describe what real brain tissue does. They build on the observation that when a single neuron fires, it can trigger its neighbours to fire too, causing a cascade or avalanche of activity that can propagate across small networks of brain cells. This results in alternating periods of quiescence and activity – remarkably like the build-up and collapse of a sand pile.

Work that can’t be done over the wire

From Heidegger and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

[According to Princeton economist Alan Blinder] the labor market of the next decades won’t necessarily be divided between the highly educated and the less-educated: “The critical divide in the future may instead be between those types of work that are easily deliverable through a wire (or via wireless connections) with little or no diminution in quality and those that are not.” Binder goes on to summarize his own take: “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Learning a trade is not limiting but, rather, liberating. If you are in possession of a skill that cannot be exported overseas, done with an algorithm, or downloaded, you will always stand a decent chance of finding work. Even rarer, you will probably be a master of your own domain, something the thousands of employed but bored people in the service industries can only dream of.

Working over the internet is freeing because you can do it from anywhere, but the flip-side is that you are then in competition with the entire world

Tired, or energized?

From an essay by Milton Glaser:

“… there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.”

Yet more on DFW

From The Unfinished in The New Yorker:

The central issue for Wallace remained, as he told McCaffery, how to give “CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness.” He added, “Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.”

The novel continues Wallace’s preoccupation with mindfulness. It is about being in the moment and paying attention to the things that matter, and centers on a group of several dozen I.R.S. agents working in the Midwest. Their job is tedious, but dullness, “The Pale King” suggests, ultimately sets them free. A typed note that Wallace left in his papers laid out the novel’s idea: “Bliss—a-second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.”