May 24, 2017

Yesterday I finally submitted my paper. We originally planned to submit it back in March, but at that time we did not have enough details and materials for the paper. This time we had a good story, good experiments and well-articulated arguments. As always, my advisor was very helpful. She stayed up late to help with writing and fixing papers. Now that’s one less thing to worry about. The next step would be doing more experiments (that I promised during thesis proposal defense) then writing my thesis in tandem. My next target would be end of June for the thesis’s first draft. Also, I finally have spare times (!) to take care of my side projects. I don’t remember when was the last time. I’ve been working like crazy since I got back to the US in Jan. The first thing would be converting this blog to static HTML, because, WordPress is overkill. The second thing would be put my two newly purchased Raspberry Pi 3 in good use. The third thing would be start running and cycling again this summer. Cheers to an exciting summer ahead!

May 14, 2017

Today I wake up at 3pm. It was a great sleep. I can’t remember the last time I slept so well in the last few weeks. Yesterday, I successfully defended my thesis proposal, the second big milestone towards getting a PhD (the final step is the dissertation defense). For the first time in the last 5 years, there is a clear path towards the end of the tunnel. I know for the first time that I actually can graduate. Still, there are a few more steps towards the PhD. First, I need to submit a paper to CIKM, then do more experiments, then write the thesis, then setup a meeting between committee members, then defense, then a bunch of logistic steps, then PhD. Anything could go wrong at any step, but the consequences are a lot less than failing the proposal defense. It was a rainy day today. We’ve had chicken Pho, colored two pages of The Enchanted Forest and practiced basketball, just about the perfect activities for this kind of day. Tomorrow is going to be better. Anyway, I need to finish writing my paper. 10 days left. Finger crossed.

May 04, 2017

Usually when I am thinking about doing something, I can’t stop thinking about it until I get it done. It’s a good thing, but usually comes with bad consequences. Since I am really busy right now, at least it would be good to write about it and comeback later to do it. My blog is currently running on WordPress. WordPress is nice, but seems to be overkill for a simple, mostly text blog. Not to mention so many exploits recently (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14263252). What I am going to do is to export all blogs into XML, maybe convert them to Markdown and write a parser to generate static content instead. Comments can  be done using github (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14170041) I’d like to setup a server at home. I’m graduating and therefore will lost access to my current machines and clusters at my university. And I can’t afford to rent a cloud for my powerful computation. Therefore, I will spend sometime looking for a good Mini-ATX or NUC that will be my basement server for the next 5 years. And a good UPS too. It’s nice that electricity in the US does not get cut off often, but it’s still good to have an UPS for server and router. In other news, Bitcoin is up!

Apr 30, 2017

I ran for the first time in 2 years yesterday. My performance, as expected, was so-so. Average pace was more than 10 minutes per mile. And today I wake up with my lower body hurts like hell. Can’t even walk normally. Two years ago I was running like crazy, often two or three times per week. I was even thinking about signing up for a 10k or half-marathon. It’s good to have a goal, and the motivation to achieve that goal, and more importantly the will to practice regularly so that I don’t have any excuse for not doing it. After the last summer working like crazy at Uber, this summer I will return to running and cycling, maybe even swimming. No, I don’t have any plan in the near future for a triathlon, but who knows in the next five years. It was a perfect summer day yesterday. I wake up early and energized. Had my first run for the summer. Had dim sum with friends. It becomes a tradition that we have dim sum roughly every two weeks. I even had time to clean my bicycle, put some air in the tires, and BBQ at night. Cheers to an exciting summer ahead. If everything goes as planned, I will defend my thesis proposal next week, submit a paper by the end of May and spend June and July writing my thesis. That would be a perfect plan, but you never know. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. As I usually told myself, when all of this is over, you will realize it’s not a big deal after all. You can do it. You just need to have motivation and the will to do it. Everything will be alright in the end.

Apr 28, 2017

This morning I suddenly realized something. If memory serves me right, I’ve met, and even briefly work with Joseph Thomas, the guy that committed suicide while working at Uber last summer. I had no idea at that time he was having trouble at work. I feel so sorry for him and his family. It’s a position no one want to be in. I need to remind myself more often that life is important. Work to live rather than live to work. Doing a PhD is hard. Last five years have been the most stressful period of my life. I need to ask “why” question more often. I should not accept the results, even if it’s a result from a computer program. Human makes mistakes. Program has bugs. I should not treat the result as it is. I should ask myself why’s that when looking at abnormal results. Is it a bug, or an outlier?

Apr 27, 2017 – Crisis

2017 so far might be the most stressful period I ever experienced. Like a model with lots of hidden variables, value of one single variable might affect the outcome of the whole model. Lots and lots of things to worry about, even though most of things are totally out of your control. I’m in crisis mode. Crisis means lock out. I am locked out of my mind. I can no longer focus on things ahead. All I can think of is various scenarios, and different outcomes corresponding to each scenario. Like a simulation machine. Not only that, my body gets weaker and weaker. Weaker body means a weaker mind. Forever loop. I started having weird dreams. Things that I saw during the day continue to appear, but in a weird way in my dream. Things appear to happen 24/7 inside my mind. The bad thing is I feel like I can no longer control it. I lost control of my mind. This is not sustainable. I don’t know how long I can live like this, but soon enough my mind is going to explode.

April 23, 2017

Time for a weekly blog. I’ve almost finished my thesis proposal. Good feeling. I should have done it since February, but a lot of things have been going on since then. However I feel like I am at a much better position right now, and my thesis proposal is in much better shape than ever. A few things on my “things to worry about” list have been crossed out. It still have a few more, but it’s always good to cross any item off. It’s time of the year when there are lots of birthdays. Can’t understand that. 9 months to today was in the middle of the summer.  

Apr 15, 2017

After a few weeks of experiment, I would say recalling your last night dreams are quite hard. I usually can determine if I am in a dream or not, and occasionally can come back to a dream after a brief wakeup. I also often can recall almost every details of a dream right after wakeup. But by the time I have the first morning coffee, everything is gone. Just gone. I don’t have a slightest idea of what was going on in my dreams. Weird? Turns out dream recall is essential to lucid dreaming. The wikibook Lucid Dreaming wrote that the most important thing to improve dream recall is keeping a dream journal. So technically I am practising lucid dreaming without even realizing it. Strange? Actually lucid dreaming is kind of cool. It’s like being the sole director of your own movie, where you also the main actor/actress. You can control almost everything in your dream once you realize you’re dreaming. It’s like your own Inception setup. Cool? Anyway, back to not dreaming. I’m waiting anxiously for many things to happen. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. It always good to have a plan, and if you can afford, a backup plan as well in case things go south. I’m turning 30 this December, and can’t afford to start from the beginning again. Life’s short. Anyway, things can only get better. Right? It’s getting warmer and warmer in NYC. I’m really looking forward to this summer, with BBQ, beach, vacation and stuffs. But first, finishing my PhD would be nice. Then a short trip to Hawaii on top of that would be the icing on the cake. Not to mention camping/hiking/cycling during the summer. It would be nice to get a butt cramp after ~60 miles cycling

Mar 22, 2017

Today I’ve killed another two mice, with one using frying pan. It’s also the 5th this month. It’s the first time in my 5 years living in this house that I have to kill mice. WTF is happening? I’ve submitted an abstract for my new paper to VAST 2017. Good feeling. I have until Mar 31 to write a whole new paper. Finger crossed. Writing paper, especially under deadlines (who doesn’t) is very stressful. That’s why last night I dreamed about not submitting the abstract ontime. In my dream, I had until 8pm ET to submit, but I still have nothing until 9pm. Fortunately it’s just a dream. Therefore, I decided to start a new category called “Last Night Dream”, to capture almost everything I dreamed (and if I still can recall). You might ask why. Just to keep track of what I have dreamed about, as a reference to real life, and maybe one day I will realize that I am just a simulation, living in someone else’s machine. Maybe we all. It’s great to catch up with several friends. Most of them are now in the job market looking for a full time position, just like me. Hope everything will work out in the end.

December 11, 2016

One of the best feelings in the world is when you finish something long overdue. And finished writing the final piece for the year-long project. It feel so good that I decided to write this blog post, which can also be considered as something long overdue. This project has been going on for almost two years, with multiple iterations and discussions back and forth. One less thing to worry about. Today marks the first snow of the season. A long and cold winter ahead, thanks to La Niña. My 5th winter. Hopefully it will be my last cold winter in NYC. Next year is going to be much warmer. I always told my friends jokingly that I never stay in one place for more than 7 years. It’s still true up to this point though. My family moved a lot in the past, once every few years. I moved to the city on 1998, stayed there until 2005 and moved to Hanoi. Stayed there until 2012 and moved to NYC. And hopefully will be moving in 2017. Less than 3 weeks to my trip to Vietnam. It’s been awhile. 3 years to be exact. My plan is just to spend time with my family, especially my mom and dad. You’ll never know when will be the next time you can see them again. 2016 has been awesome so far. From the Miami trip, Uber’s offer, great summer in SF and Phoenix, trip to Puerto Rico and a few other things. Hopefully I could finalize a few other things before 2017. I’ve been using too many “hopefully”. Here’s to another great year.