Jedi/Rockstar/Ninja in Development

How I'm learning to be a master coder

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Rapidly learning financial mathematics

I've been applying to a few quantitative trading firms. My interviews so far have been coding and math puzzles, but I'm told that tomorrow's will involve mathematical finance. I have absolutely no background in that. What to do in a few hours of studying?

In college, I always felt there was something off about sitting through long lectures and taking methodical notes that were never referred back to, at least more than once before the exam. My solution then was to use a spaced repetition system (SRS) to make all the pertinent facts sticks. I talk a lot about spaced repetition systems--and their shortcomings--on my other blog. In this case though, the main issue is that I don't have time to create material for SRS anyway.

My strategy has been a mix of the following:

Is this chaotic flurry of learning good over a longer term? Well, I don't have time to answer tonight! But I will say this: I've felt like I'm doing better on math challenges than coding/algorithm ones. I've studied and worked with programming much more in the last few years, but it doesn't seem to compare with the massive amounts of quick, targeted math problems I did in high school--probably 100-200 problems per week. Those were mostly more basic than math olympiad problems, and I'd say the reason I didn't do better than I did in math competition is that I didn't do much of the less satisfying work of reading solutions for hard problems just outside of my range.

How I Handled Extortion by a Recruiter

On DROdio

The recruiter business is broken -- at least in San Francisco. I get multiple calls each day from recruiters and they're all pitching the same "exceptional candidate" that's perfect for our company's needs. I always politely tell them to take me off their lists, but yesterday I had a recruiter refuse to do so. Then he sent me the email below, extorting me by saying he would take me off his list only if I'd look at his candidate. Below is how I responded to him. I cc'd a manager at his company, and Lowell Isom & Erica Jarmen at the National Association of Executive Recruiters.

If you're a recruiter and you're reading this, you need to re-think your approach. It's not working. And because of bad apples like the guy below, I won't use any recruiter.

If you're an entrepreneur looking to hire top talent, what I do recommend is AngelList's Job board. It's very, very good. And you cut the recruiters out completely, which is a nice bonus.

Here's the extortion letter I received, with my response at the top:

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