Confessions of a researchaholic

February 22, 2022

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
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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
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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.

November 11, 2021

Award nomination

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:13 pm
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A few years back, someone asked me to nominate him/her for the SIGGRAPH significant new researcher award. At that time I found the conduct questionable, so I consulted with my PhD adviser, who told me that I should not incur any potential benefits or conflict-of-interests from the nomination. For example, an advisee receiving an award could potentially enhance the reputation of the adviser. A corollary is that the nomination should be anonymous, for which the nominee shouldn’t even be aware of being nominated (not to mention soliciting) as otherwise it is a form of doing favor.
In the end, I still did the nomination due to institutional pressure, but in retrospect I found the entire experience lame, and that person did not win the award anyway.

Today another individual asked me to nominate him/her for a research award, with whom I shared the above story.
I believe someone who deserves an award would not care about it.
I am not following baseball, but the most memorable event in MLB is when Ichiro Suzuki turned down a prestigious award, multiple times.

October 31, 2021

Qi and Ding interview

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:56 am
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Highly recommend. I particularly like the part about advices won’t prevent us from making mistakes but help us debug faster.

October 4, 2021

Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:12 am
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I would do this if I have an infinite amount of time. But my life is finite, so I have to weigh the opportunity costs.

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