Confessions of a researchaholic

April 28, 2020

External visibility and internal reputation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:12 am
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External visibility is public domain information for everyone to see, such as publications and patents.
Internal reputation is often proprietary and known only inside our institution, such as design or implementation for a product.

Our internal reputation is more important for the particular jobs (e.g., performance reviews and rewards), but that often contains confidential information which only a few colleagues can vouch for.

Both are important for our careers. For example, when we want to switch jobs, most people can only evaluate our external visibility and will require references to vet our internal reputation.
Thus, it is important to maintain a good balance of both.
I am lucky enough to enjoy doing both (e.g., publications and products).

April 27, 2020

Sketching the portrait relief on a 50-TWD coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:14 pm
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Coin reliefs are usually shallow and thus contain intricate shading variations.

Research continuity

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:34 pm
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Without continual practice, some skills, once mastered, will mostly remain with us, such as driving a car or riding a bicycle, while others tend to atrophy, especially during the early learning stages.

In my observations for computer science, research requires constant engagement to keep top performance.
I stopped research publications around 2001 to 2003 while focusing on GPU architecture, which reduced my research output and took me significant efforts later to get back to form (e.g., single-author a paper during weekends and evenings).
Research (at least in CS) can easily become rusty probably because it involves many delicate skills, such as literature, ideation, algorithm, code, demo, writing, and presentation.
Even if we can more easily get back to some of these (e.g., coding, which feels like riding a bicycle to me), missing any others could still throw us off balance (in particular ideation and familiarity with state of art, which are related).

Thus, if you are a graduating CS student and you want to keep research opportunity open for your future career, it is important to find a first job that you can continue your research in some way.
(Not necessarily academia, as I think I can have more time doing research in a top industry lab than as an assistance professor.)
Otherwise, you might never be able to come back.

April 26, 2020

Sketching the portrait relief on a 5-CHF coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:01 pm
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The Rodin sculptures in Stanford have been my favorite portrait-drawing subjects but they are less accessible during the current lock-down.
Today I realized that we all have some mini portrait sculptures around us: the head reliefs on the obverse sides of the coins.

PS: I obtained this coin from Hallenbad City in Zurich for the swimming pool locker room.

April 25, 2020

Drawing a tree stump

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:33 pm
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This is an exercise for me to see and draw the relevant visual cues (such as the signature tree rings) without being distracted by extra details (such as the complex bark patterns).

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Drawing a tree stump #adobefresco

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Virtual meetings

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:38 am
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I usually share my screen instead of my face during virtual meetings.
I believe people mostly care about my content than what I look like.


The reason Zoom calls drain your energy

April 22, 2020

Experiment with painting mediums

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:30 pm
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I drew a plate of grapes in different mediums: oil, watercolor, graphite, vector, to explore their varying visual effects.
The process took longer that I thought, so at the end of the night I was too sleepy to remember signing the paintings, which I did the next morning.

Remote internship

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:24 pm
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I have experiences in remote collaboration and mentoring.
I did not need research meetings and I did not meet the first authors of some of my papers until before the conference presentations.
(I have yet to meet the first-author of my latest CHI 2020 paper for which the physical conference is canceled.)

However, there are important aspects that are difficult to emulate remotely beyond research and technical works in research internships, such as serendipitous encounters with different people and immersions in different environments.

Thus, I have been thinking about what would be good alternatives or replacements for remote internships (or research collaborations in general) that can best emulate on-site experiences?
If you have ideas, feel free to share with me.

One (Adobe-specific) possibility I have been thinking about is artistic creation via various tools, suitable for remote and asynchronous communications and yet different from and complementary to technical research.

April 21, 2020

Mimetic desire

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:21 am
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It takes intelligent and independent minds to desire what are really wanted.

April 18, 2020

Oil paint a resurrecting lemon tree

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:06 pm
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This lemon tree seemed to be dead for a few years, but this morning I found out that it just grew some leaves, greened some branches, and even sprouted a pink bud.

Yet another thing in my life which seemed to be dead and then came back to life.
(If you know how to determine if a plant is dead or alive biologically, ping me.)

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_JAOAenFHQ/

April 17, 2020

Oil paint a spillover

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:29 am
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Never waste a disaster!

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Oil paint a spillover #adobefresco

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April 16, 2020

Putting dollar values on human lives

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 am
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Concrete numbers and data can help rational discussion of issues, including the trade-off between lives and jobs in the current lock-down situation.

April 15, 2020

Try manual keyframe animation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:58 pm
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I created a very simple key-frame animation via layers with Procreate; more to come.

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Try manual keyframe animation #procreate

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Electric power flow

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:51 pm
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After installing Tesla solar panel and power-wall last month, I have been watching the daily power flows among the grid, solar, home, and battery with intrigue.
With weather forecast, I can imagine programming the electric system to optimize the schedules of home appliance usage (e.g., laundry when the sun is bright) and charging from the grid (e.g., backup for an incoming power outage).

April 13, 2020

Practice drawing splashes

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:30 pm
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I started with vector drawings to enforce simplicity and moved on to raster sketches for better expressibility.

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Practice vector drawing of splashes #adobefresco

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Practice sketching splashes #adobefresco

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Church-state separation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:48 am
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Why the US is celebrating Easter, a Christian holiday, but not holidays of other regions or cultures, such as Holi, Ramadan, or Passover?

What does it mean for a non-Christian to put her hand on a holy Bible in a state ritual like court oath or citizenship ceremony?

National holidays should be centered on nations (e.g., Independence Day), not religions.

April 12, 2020

Oil painting footprints over a yoga mat

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:35 pm
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I saw these every day during my morning stretch.

Scaffolding knowledge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:10 am
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Every information is a piece of an entire knowledge, so instead of treating what we learn as separate fragments, it is more effective to memorize and understand them as a whole.
This is possible because knowledge often repeats in different forms, such as through history or books.


In effect, Funes not only remembered every leaf on every tree of every wood, but even every one of the times he had perceived or imagined it.
To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details.
– Funes the Memorious

April 10, 2020

Quick practice sketches of fountains

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:24 pm
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I drew these based on reference photos taken a while ago around the Adobe San Jose campus.

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Quick practice of sketching a fountain #adobefresco

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Quick practice of sketching fountains #adobefresco

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April 6, 2020

Pay for individual articles instead of whole publications

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:35 am
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Recently I noticed a few interesting articles that I would like to read but are behind paywalls that asked me to subscribe to the encompassing publications.
Since not all articles of a given publication are of sufficient quality or interests to me, and different readers can have different preferences anyway, I wonder if it would make more sense to pay for individual articles instead of entire publications.
The publishers may be able to charge more per article and yet readers can choose to pay what they need.
The readers, writers and even advertisers can be better aligned, rewarding good individual writers and articles over bad ones.

Unbundling is already happening for music and academic papers, and could be more prevalent for news.

Virtual museum

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:40 am
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I visited a few virtual museum exhibitions during the weekend.
The experiences worked better in some types of artworks, such as films, photographs, and paintings, but less so for other types such as sculptures or interactive installations.
I can sit comfortably at home without being constrained by commutes and museum hours.
But I also missed the ambient environment and serendipitous encounters beyond the individual artworks.

April 4, 2020

Virtual machines

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:55 am
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When I was a grad student at Stanford I thought the idea of virtual machines was entirely crazy. And then came cloud computing.
This CACM article nicely summarized the background story.

April 3, 2020

The pandemic world war

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:21 am
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When this is all over,
The disease will dissipate,
The economy will recover,
But the world order will be very different.



April 1, 2020

Peak Asian American

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:14 am
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This is the best time to be an Asian American.
Half a century before, it was better to be an American.
Half a century after, it would better to be an Asian.

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