Confessions of a researchaholic

July 15, 2017

Seattle/Redmond

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:35 am
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I lived in the Redmond/Seattle area between 2008 and 2011.
This is probably the most peaceful among all the places I have been to.
Below is a quick summary of the area from my memory.

Neighborhoods
I mostly rented apartments near Redmond downtown, close to work (Microsoft campus) and within walking distance to everything I ever need (bus transit center, library, groceries, restaurants, gyms, parks, cinema, etc.)

I also stayed at the Moore hotel at Seattle downtown sometimes.
It is close to some of my most favorite places in the city such as the Pike place market and the Seattle art museum.

Transportation
The public transportation is great compared to California.
The light rail connects downtown and the Seatac airport, and there is a comprehensive bus system covering the entire area.

The traffic can be even worse than the Bay area though (that is really something). Avoid crossing the 520 bridge for daily commute if possible.

I have a mixed feeling about biking.
The weather (temperature, humidity, and air quality) is suitable for long distance biking, but it is still not safe given the traffic condition.
I recommend biking as an exercise but not a means for transportation.

Weather

I like the cool weather and fresh air.
It snows in the winter though. The temperature does not bother me, but a particular slushy form of ice/snow called slush, which is wet and porous, can cause (further) transportation troubles for cars, bikes, and legs.

June 3, 2017

France trip

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:47 am
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I visited INRIA Nancy in December 2012 as a thesis committee member of Anass. It was cold. The weather was much better during my May 2017 visit this time, to wrap up the first 3D printing project that we started a long time ago.

The trip duration was suggested by Jonas and finalized to be between May 5 and 18 to take advantage of cheap flight ticket. I do not have to pay for the flight and hotel, but I still like to keep the prices low. It turned out that Monday May 8 is a holiday in France, so we agreed that it is better for me to stay in Paris for the weekend.

I was able to find pretty good hotel deals this time for both Paris and Nancy through bookings.com.

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They also sent me ticket deals that could have allowed me to bypass long lines to the museums which I spent the entire weekend at due to the raining weather, but I did not carefully read and thus missed the deals. There were security checks at the museum entrances due to recent terrorist attacks.

Islamic art hall

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Breath taking architecture

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I always like visiting religious institutions so I spent the Sunday evening in one.

I participated the evening prayer for about 1.5 hours on Sunday May 7 2017.

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The TGV ride from Paris to Nancy was pleasant and efficient as usual. I opted for Apparteo Nancy, a student dorm, instead of a hotel in the Nancy city center. The light rail in Nancy was very nice and convenient. I was embarrassed to get lost a bit on my first day to INRIA.

I sat at Jeremie’s old seat. Fortunately I could use the eduroam wifi network as other options either involve more administrative work or provide less reliable connection. The lunch vouchers are very good, because INRIA provide the best meals in the entire Nancy city (or even the Lorraine province). I like the way INRIA folks take time for and discuss research over lunch and coffee, instead of rushing through meals.

We brainstormed many ideas, and I got my hands dirty with the printers. I was amazed by the toolset Sylvain developed that included everything for 3D printing: mesh processing, a lua scripting interface, etc. The project is finally completed this time and I hope the paper will be published soon.

The only way to work inside INRIA during the weekend is by asking some Chinese postdoc to open the door for me. He took me to a nearby McDonald for lunch, which turned out to the worst possible choice in France: expensive, unhealthy, and plain bad food. I forced him to a kebab shop for the next lunch.

I tried different places for dinners, mostly low price local places (around 5 EUR). I joined their intern party which took place in a nice bar followed by a good meal in a nice Lebanese restaurant starting at 9 pm. They told me that the French usually started dinner at 7 pm.
The place Stanislav is nice as usual, especially during the warm weather.

Evening walk

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I wish I could have tried the cheese fondue but it was only for two people.


Jonas took me to dinner the last night and we went for a sushi place so that I can judge the authenticity for him (not bad, operated by Vietnamese).

This is the first time that I took a long trip back right in front of a major paper deadline; it is not as bad as I expected even though I would not recommend.

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December 14, 2014

Flight delay

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:05 pm
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Dear airlines:

Passengers would be much happier if they can enjoy the in-flight entertainment uninterrupted by your announcements about delays.
🙂

September 26, 2014

(Really) lonely planet

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:16 pm
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See here

December 16, 2013

Arctic desert

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:18 pm
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While flying over north east Russia I saw a bizarrely beautiful landscape: some form of arctic desert rendered from the combination of desert wave geometry, icy sand material, and midnight moon lighting.

The scene cannot be captured by my camera, and also cannot be found through image or map search.

I was thinking how romantic, and yet lethal, to horse ride through that terrain.

September 28, 2013

The Klingons

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 6:47 pm
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Imagine you are a Klingon warship commander. After going through some hyper-warp to arrive at an alternative space time, you find that all Klingons are in gentle servitude to humans.

This is what I felt about the HK technology industry as a SF bay area computer scientist.

PS
If you are a Klingon in that alternative space time, work with that commander so that you will not turn into a pussy.

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.

July 26, 2013

Laptop-less in Anaheim

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:30 pm
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I did not bring my laptop to SIGGRAPH this year to discourage myself from working inside the convention center or the hotel room.

Experimental results indicated that this motivated me to spend more time hanging out with people, which is supposed to be the main goal for a conference. I can easily schedule all events and meetings via my smart phone and tablet. (Even the tablet is probably not necessary, if I can address a few technical issues of my phone.)

I probably would have had to bring my laptop if I had to give any talks. None of the Android apps I know of can adequately author talk slides. If such apps eventually show up (and I expect they will), I would happily travel with only my phone in the future.

Eventually though, the phones will likely become powerful enough for me to work inside the hotel rooms (again).
🙂

June 14, 2013

Aromatic association of cities I have lived in more than 1 year

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 8:01 am
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They say olfactory memory is the most visceral as it is within our primitive brains.

Taipei: soil within sidewalk pavement cracks

Kaohsiung: (strong) industrial waste water

Stanford: dry grass

Palo Alto: coffee

Mountain View: swimming pool chlorine

Emerald Hills: trees

Beijing: gun powder (sulfur)

Seattle: sea-weed/salt

Hong Kong: (humid) bean curd

December 11, 2012

A gastronomic study of PhD defense

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:29 am
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🙂

HKU (Hong Kong)

No food or drink served. The candidate gives the talk, the audience asks questions, and the jury members discuss the final fate behind the door. The entire thing is over in about an hour.

Stanford (USA)

The reception food quality determines whether you pass, but do not serve coffee, as it can make jury members unnecessarily aggressive. The rest is similar to above.

INRIA (France)

The jury members meet for lunch in a nice restaurant (French, of course). The talk, QA, and jury discussion parts are similar to above. After that, a fancy reception is served (Tunisian pastry in my case). And if you, as a jury member, do not ask for trouble during the defense, you get invited to dinner in an even nicer restaurant (French, course). The entire thing takes about 11 hours.

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