Simon’s way to celebrate the holiday season is by taking part in the Advent of Code, a month-long marathon of daily problem solving challenges organized by software engineer Eric Wastl. On December 4, 2022, Wastl announced that the project had reached 1,000,000 registered users.
Simon managed to solve quite a few problems, even ranking 601st for one of them (the rank also depends on the speed, how soon you solve the problem after it’s published at 12:00 am EST). He also enjoyed taking part in the discussion of the problems in the chat while an acquaintance of his was streaming his problem solving process live on Twitch. Even if Simon already knew the solution, he said it was interesting for him to watch other people solve it in their own way, without him spoiling it for them. He generally enjoys watching other people solve the puzzles he has already solved or has created, “to see how other people’s brains work”.
That said, there have been days (and nights) when hours of his own mind going to mush led nowhere and he had to give up. Some of the puzzles literally demanded that he created a separate ai to solve them. All in all, this has been a very engaging experience, a great example of how healthy competition and ranking against people who are into the same area of expertise and who voluntarily subscribe to do some problem solving can evaluate their current skills level and enjoy the process at the same time, no coercion, unsolicited judgement or external motivation involved.
two examples of the problems:
Simon’s notes while solving the puzzles: