Confessions of a researchaholic

July 18, 2019

Steichen on photography

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:55 am

Edward Steichen, a Luxembourg-born photographer who spent most of his life in the US, said that photography is both easy and hard: easy for anyone to master, and hard because, unlike other additive art mediums that start from a blank, photography starts with all the information and one has to learn how to subtract.

July 13, 2019

Get in

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 pm

I captured this great view from SF-MOMA, in which the wall says:

So you’ve gotten very close, you’ve shared a complete experience.
And the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting anyway.
Never getting in is the most exciting, but after that, waiting to get in is the most exciting.

Don’t we all tend to be obsessed with what we cannot get in life: the dream job, the dream lover, the dream trip, which pop into reality when we finally have a chance to get in.

July 3, 2019


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:03 pm

## Location ##

Schloss Dagstuhl is located in Saarland near the German border with Luxembourg and France.
It is hard to reach from everywhere (2 hour train from Frankfurt airport plus 0.5 hour of taxi, even though I heard that driving from Luxembourg is about 1 hour).
But that is precisely the point: isolation can help focus and avoid distraction.
I was initially suspicious about the venue and participants of the seminar but was glad I tried it.
It was a very relaxing experience, and I got to know interesting people.

There is an old castle ruin at the top of a hill.
The main building is a newer castle with many compartments, including a small chapel, a chess room, a music room, a (pseudo) wine cellar, a dining hall, a cafeteria, and guest rooms, all connected by sometimes mysterious paths.
There is another new building with seminar rooms, guest rooms, and facilities like gym, sauna, and laundry.
I have taken some photos for visual reference:

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## Time ##

There are seminars all around the year.
The one I participated took place during the July 4 week, coincidence with the company shutdown.
So the trip is like a working vacation, and it feels quite relaxing (even with the travel hassles).

## Seminars ##

Seminars are organized by volunteering individuals who file reports at the end.
Dagstuhl is basically a non-profit with support from the government and donors.
The participants pay about 50 euro per night of lodging plus other food/wine consumption outside the provided meals.

There were 3 concurrent seminars:
real VR, graph theory, and a forschungsaufenthalt (research visit) of a single person.
All participants eat together so it is kind of fun to talk with these graph theory folks (mostly mathematicians), who liked to sit together scribble about problems to solve.
During a breakfast I heard one guy asked another: do you think people would be interested in my presentation of a proof?

One guy from the graph theory seminar asked me: since you guys are doing VR, why are you still coming physically here for the seminar?
I guess we will have to keep on coming to Dagstuhl physically until we have good enough solution for VR meetings.

## Meals ##

The meals are prepared onsite, with excellent quality.
Lunches and dinners have assigned seats, randomized to maximize the number of unique peers that each participant can dine with at the same table (the happy diner problem).
I think I learned more from random discussions than the seminars.

June 23, 2019

Quick sketch of a head from the top

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:51 pm

Drawing: what I draw is more important than how I draw it.

Research: picking the problem is more important than formulating the solution.

Recruiting: the candidate is more important than the expertise.

Conversation: the question is more important than the answer.

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Quick sketch of a head from the top

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June 16, 2019

Quick draw of a child’s face

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:03 pm

The resemblance is not sufficient due to the difficulty of sighting the original photograph which has low resolution and washed-out color.
It is time for me to practice drawing from what I remember, the second step behind drawing from what I see (not what I think I see).

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Quick draw of a child's face

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June 14, 2019

MAGA hatter

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:57 pm

A guy sat at the cafe table next to mine, wearing a red MAGA (make America great again) hat.
I was thinking if he was looking for a fight or something. After taking off his hat and put it on the table, I saw a lonely old face. He was completely left alone before slowly walking off.

Taking care of ourselves

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:26 pm

This is something I learned a while back but reminded by the NBA finals: never sacrifice our personal well-being for anything else, not least others’ goals or ambitions.
What we sacrificed for short term gains might come back to haunt us in the long term.
And if we get hurt, we might just get run over.

A smart leader understands the correlation between individual happiness and collective productivity.
Altruism is the ultimate form of selfishness.

June 12, 2019

Quick sketch of a train passenger

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:55 pm

I was not sure how to properly shade volumes, especially with vector draw (large regions instead of small hatches as in raster sketch).

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Quick sketch of a train passenger

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June 11, 2019

Ex-NVIDIAN dinner

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:17 am

The dinner conversation with a bunch of former NVIDIA employees reminded me of many top folks I have closely worked with there, such as Erik Lindholm, Walt Donovan, Henry Moreton, Alex Minkin, and John Danskin.
Only one of them was a manager at that time, and they wielded power through their knowledge in GPU architecture instead of corporate hierarchy.

I aspire to have their style in mentoring future generations of graphics researchers.

June 10, 2019

Moon and tree

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:42 pm

I was locked outside home during a power outage in the evening. While waiting for the power to come back, I quickly drew the moon over the top of the tree from the garden.
I am glad that I brought my drawing pad, even though I didn’t anticipate having a chance to draw anything during the day.

Gemini dogfooding: I tried oil paint, watercolor, and soft pastel for the moon lighting, and eventually settled for simple vector graphics, which works well for a flat scene like this.

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