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Boston Rents 2013-2018

I've been keeping a Boston-area rent map since early 2013, which means I can look some at how apartment prices have changed over time. A rough way to do this is just to look at how listings have changed, tracking the average price for each size unit over the last five years:

Communicating about contra dance sound

If you're new to playing for contra dancing, communication with the people running sound can be tricky. What are you expected to bring? What can you expect them to have? What is reasonable to ask for? Different dances vary, but here are some guidelines.

At least a week before the dance, get in touch with the organizers about sound. You really don't want to show up and be missing something important. A good place to start is listing your musicians, what instruments they play, and what you need for amplifying each instrument. For example, with the Free Raisins I'd list:

Thoughts on Existential Risk

I recently talked to someone who wanted to know what I thought about existential risk (x-risk). The idea is, how do we keep humanity from being destroyed, or otherwise failing to meet its potential? Within the EA movement there's been some shift in focus from global poverty towards x-risk over the past few years, and as someone who's been advocating for and funding poverty-related organizations they thought I might have some thoughts.

Here's more or less what I said:

History of HTTPS Usage

"What should I use HTTPS for?" is a question whose answer has changed over the years. Here's an attempt to piece the history together.

The web started off as just HTTP. This allowed for an enormous amount of things, but online shopping wasn't one of them. The problem was, sending credit card numbers over HTTP opened them up to theft: anyone between you and the server could keep a copy of your card information. Netscape saw this as an opportunity, if they could make a safe way to do this, using their browser and server. This would be good for them and good for the success of the web as a whole.

The decided to build SSL, a protocol for creating a secure channel between a client and server, which they could then run HTTP over. They called the combination HTTPS.

It was initially viewed as just a thing for credit cards. For example:

Netscape charges $1,495 for an entry-level server; adding the ability to handle secure credit card transmissions bumps the price up to $5,000
  —The rise of Netscape, July 1995

Touring As a Contra Band

Several people have asked me lately how you go about playing a tour as a contra dance band, so I thought I'd write something up. I've helped book three tours with the Free Raisins, in 2012, 2013, and 2014. These were all booked on a similar model: as many dances as possible in as short a time as possible. We each had day jobs, with relatively limited vacation, so our ideal tour was one dance a night for about a week.

There aren't actually that many weeknight dances, though:

Multiples of the Minimum Wage

Colombia has had high inflation for decades, averaging ~14% yearly since the 1950s. Talking to our Au Pair, who's from Medellin, one way Colombians have adapted to this is by tying many things to the minimum wage. For example, you might have a job that pays "five minimum wages," and whenever the government increases the minimum your employer proportionally increases your pay as well. If you look at presentations of the minimum wage they include a table of multipliers so people know what this means for them:

Trying to read more about this, I found an article saying:

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