Confessions of a researchaholic

March 24, 2022

Burnout from a thousand little tasks

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:05 pm
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A task might not seem to take much time or efforts to complete, but if we take on all of these coming our way, we will run out or bandwidth before too late.
Better judge each task as part of the whole (work-life) optimization.

March 19, 2022

Layoff

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:30 am
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At the beginning of a movie I was watching there was a scene of someone who received a surprise layoff and, after being escorted outside the office building, did not seem to have any idea what to do.
(I don’t know what happened to that character at this moment of writing as I have yet to continue with the movie.)

Which prompted me to ponder: when at last we leave our jobs, what has to be left behind and what we can bring with us? Thinking ahead of this eventuality can clarify our priority about what is really important: titles and positions we hold, colleagues/collaborators we interacted with, experiences we learned, products we built, achievements we accomplished, etc.

Now, replace job with life, and think again.

February 22, 2022

Advices from a speaker coaching session

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:44 pm
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Say less and say better.

Connect with the audience from the start; why this talk matters to them.

Have a closure at the end, like take home messages or potential future works.

Asking your opinion before venturing mine

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:29 pm
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A recent undergraduate intern (with a first-authored paper in an upcoming top HCI venue with me) asked my thought on how to pick among PhD offers he has received from several top schools.
Initially I gave a no-brainer answer, but on a second thought I realized that I should hear his prioritized list so that I won’t get ahead of myself.

Maybe I should do this for other cases in the future (and put a disclaimer before my existing written suggestions).

Later, we went over his detailed reasoning and it appears that he would pick my original no-brainer recommendation.
I look forward to our next collaboration project.

January 11, 2022

Pre-recorded video presentation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:54 pm
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CHI 2022 provides this medium post about giving a remote presentation as well as different styles ranging from very simple to quite fancy:

Feel free to pick a style you like.
I would do voice over only as I try not to let people know what I look like, or even sound like via synthetic voice over.
But if you like people to know you and/or have the talk video better approximate an in-person conference presentation, consider showing your face.

December 1, 2021

Sinkhole tasks

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:08 pm
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Certain activities tend to drag me in and hard to get out, such as debugging and prototyping. To avoid crowding out other tasks, I try to schedule these sinkholes later in the day and start with these that I might skip over.

This is an orthogonal dimension with respect to the importance x urgency matrix.

November 26, 2021

Idea, execution, and persuasion

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:06 am
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Having good ideas is important, but to carry them out one needs to either execute by oneself or convince others to join the efforts.
This is why I believe a top research scientist cannot hurt to have top engineering and leadership skills.

November 15, 2021

Follow your passion only if you know what it is

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:54 am
Tags: ,

I have been using ray tracing as a default introductory exercise for my open mentor program. Probably as a consequence, several recent students decided to focus on rendering when applying for graduate research programs.

When I applied for grad schools 20+ years ago, I only knew that I wanted to program stuff.
I decided to focus on computer graphics after the first year during which I took courses in different topics and attended different research group meetings (not least for the free food).
I figured out my research topic after the third year, after trying out at least 20 different projects which not only greatly helped me figure out my thesis topic but also have a glimpse of what is going on in other potentially related research fields (which in turn helped me expand and transition my research topics many years later).

I guess this relates to the more general discussion about the danger of following your passion (too early); if you only do what you like, you might not try what you might like even more.

November 12, 2021

Career corner cutting

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:46 am
Tags: ,

I have seen people cutting corners and playing little tricks for the sake of advancing their careers, but none of them, even without getting caught, have become very successful.
Maybe they shift their energy away from what they should really focus on, or they are not very confident about their character, ability, or effort.
And once they start on the wrong path, they tend to get caught up in a downward spiral without being able to get back on the right track.

At the end of the day, how we do things matters more than what we have done, and I would prefer achieving a little less than doing something that I know is not right.

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