Confessions of a researchaholic

April 4, 2017

Habit

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:13 am
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I heard this from my parents recently.

An uncle of mine took trains to work every day for many years. On the morning trains he performed the daily biological unloads.

After he retired, he found out he could no longer unload at home, so he kept on taking the trains for round trips.

May 9, 2016

Recursive interviews

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:20 pm
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When you were interviewing the candidates I was also interviewing you.

You opened yourself like a book.
🙂

March 11, 2016

Why it is fun to review journal papers

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:15 pm
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After kindly agreeing to review a journal revision for the N-th time, the guy commented that “it’s the gift that keeps on giving!” 🙂

Conversation with collaborator X prior to a SIGGRAPH rebuttal

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:11 pm
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X: I’m really eager to see what the SIGGRAPH reviewers have in store for us this time… The suspense is killing me. =o

Li-Yi: I just assume they will screw me, and I am never disappointed. 🙂

X: Yes, that’s what I do as well, but I’m always amazed about how they always find ways to complain about the stuff you don’t expect. 😮

Li-Yi: If I can expect what others will think, I will be like some sort of x-men or superman. 🙂

February 1, 2016

The cat experiment

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:07 am
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Once, when I was around 9 or 10, I was visiting my aunt’s place.

One of the cousins, X, and I were standing near the swimming pool. The family cat walked by. Cousin X and I got into the discussion about whether cats can swim. I have seen a few dogs and at least one horse swam, so I was pretty sure the answer is yes (cats seem more agile). Cousin X disagreed (he is older but not necessarily smarter), so we decided to have a bet.

Clearly, the only way to settle the bet is to experiment, so I grabbed the cat and threw it into the pool.
(That was before the age of YouTube and Google, BTW.)

What followed was amazing, and happened like within a few milliseconds. The cat sprang on the water surface like a trampoline, and immediate landed back near my feet. It was dripping, so it clearly fell into the water, but I had no idea how it managed to jump back. Meanwhile, our debate remained unsettled.

I am trying to come up with a very concrete way to tell a new PhD student how to decide whether someone is suitable for (scientific) research. So here is my try. Let me know if you have better ideas.

Do you like to ask questions that seem interesting at least to you (e.g. whether cats can swim)?

Do you enjoy finding the answers yourself through investigations and experiments (e.g. grab the cat and throw it into the pool, and observe what happens)?

Are you very comfortable with the consequences, regardless of the outcomes of the experiments (e.g. the cat neither swam nor sank and my aunt beat me up)?

Can you do this continuously as a career? Imagine it is Friday lunch time, and all the works you have done this week have turned out to be failures (e.g. no other ways you have tried can tell you whether cats can swim).
You have no idea what is going to happen this afternoon when you try your 101th experiment with that cat.

If you hesitate for any of these questions or you think I am crazy, you are probably not suitable for research. At least, you will not be happy or successful.

Talent and personality are important; you have to be sufficiently smart and tough for research. But passion is even more important; the only way to be truly happy and productive is to do what you really like.

April 1, 2014

Thunder swim

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:52 pm
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I find it extremely romantic and serene to swim under a thunderstorm.
So getting kicked out of the pool is like being interrupted while being in a zone.

Come on, I get wet one way or another, and I am much more likely to be killed by car commute than lightning.

February 22, 2014

Be different

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:37 am
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This is likely a unique local phenomenon, but I often see these student representatives wearing suits and sitting in meetings for various organizations.

It is extremely difficult for me to understand why anyone wants to do this. Young people should dream of being different instead of rushing into conformity.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

– Steve Jobs

January 1, 2014

Security

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:12 pm
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One of my computers has been extremely slow. After some investigations I found the culprit lied on the security software.

It was so slow as though the security software is checking every program execution and every network connection. So I just disabled it and the machine ran like a breeze.

I know I am supposed to get my computer protected, but what is the point if the protection will significantly cripple performance?

This bears analogy to how some nations (including two of the biggest and most important ones) trade off their liberty and security.

“They who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

PS
I installed another security software a while later. It seems to work fine so far, but I would not hesitate to uninstall if it cripples performance.

October 1, 2013

False presumptions – sequel

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:31 pm
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Last night I saw this Facebook post from a friend who is a CS professor in a top university:

Gag ugh gun ml K LnmNqnN ‘m

I spent some time deciphering the profound meaning and encoding of that post, to no avail.

Later on, the friend commented that this is the first Facebook post of his 2 years old daughter.
🙂

September 25, 2013

How to deal with flight delays when you are already onboard

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:55 pm
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Flight delays suck. But what sucks the most is when you are already on board, so that you are trapped on that narrow seat and you cannot even walk around in a terminal.

If you are on a plane with in-flight entertainment system (stay away from those airlines/airplanes that do not even offer this basic service to all cabins) and the captain is smart enough to turn it on, start watching your favorite movies. This directly converts painful delays into extra entertainment time. At least it beats sitting there whining and worrying.

I realized this while getting delayed on board by a super typhoon a few days ago. It was a short haul flight, so the normal fly time is not even enough for an average movie. But it turns out to be enough after adding the delay. I got to watch a movie not available on Netflix.

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