Thursday, January 31, 2008

Company Image

I just read an article on Computer World. DELL closed its kiosks around US and moved its products into major retailers like Walmart and Staples. That was the right business decision to make, but for the closed kiosks, they had to lay off a few hundred people. Some commenters say they went to their kiosks to work in the morning and the kiosks were simply not there. They then realized that they got laid off without notice and compensation. That ticked off some other people and say they won't ever buy DELL products again. I think when a company wants to lay off its employees, they should treat them with support, otherwise the consequence could be bad company image. In this case I think the execution was poor.

The Economics of PhD

While walking home today on a lonely road at 9 pm today, I suddenly realized something important that never crossed my mind before. If doing a PhD is similar to a real job, then what is its performance metrics? I've heard the saying, "publish or perish", which means professors and graduate students are judged by how many papers they publish each year. But it costs money to run a research lab, lots of money. Where do the money come from? They come from grants and deals that the professor has to go and seek out. The professor writes proposals and try to convince a number of different organizations and sources to fund a particular research project. While doing one project, a grad student can explore related problems and propose new possible solutions, which in turn can be used in new proposals for continued funding. Thus a grad student should be judged by how well they can come up with these deal-making proposal materials in a timely manner, because professors have to pay a lot of money to fund each student.

I would say that is one of the most important thing to realize as a grad student and it's something I need to work on.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Personality Type

Today a friend of mine asked me what personality type I am. By that I am talking about the INTP, ESTJ, INFJ, etc. This popular personality test and labeling has been around for a long time. The first time I did it was maybe around 2002. Basically they divide all human beings into 2^4 = 16 different types of people. Each of the 4 letters can have one of two values:

Introvert / Extravert
iNtuitive / Sensor
Thinker / Feeler
Judger / Perceiver

Each of the four terms characterize a person's behavior in a general but distinct way. You can go to
one of those websites to see what each term means. I think they do a good job categorizing people, but they also seem to use this as a great marketing scheme to sell their related books that can tell you what career is good for you, what kind of mate is a better match, and how to treat your children of a particular type. Although some of the arguements are plausible, I think people should be cautious about getting influenced too much by labeling people as a certain type. I think the human race is more complicated than 2^4.

Lastly, just for the record, my type is ISTP, which means I direct my energy inwards, notices facts & details, makes logical decisions, like to be flexible, curious, and nonconforming.

Turning Tides

Such an irony. Yesterday morning I was all perky and ready to roll, and by the end of the day I felt like a total disaster. It's because I am not meeting the expectations of my PhD advisor. I think I aint' even clear about what they are. The worst of all, I just live my daily life in a routine and never think about the future, until today. It's like a sudden slap on my face and a wake up call, hello? Ouch.

But it is for the best of everyone's interest that the ugly truth be revealed and corrected ASAP, before more damage can be done. I appreciate my advisor bringing it up becuase that is really my responsibility. I should be grateful; I am.

The question of the day (or maybe for the rest of this month and the next) is, what do I find passionate about and what I want to do after grad school? I find these questions hard to answer. A lot of things just seems okay; not bad, but not great either. The extreme cases would be projects that I have to force myself to do it, or things I can't stop doing or can't wait to start the day with. I rarely have these things in my life. I will be using my free time to look for answers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Feeling a refreshed motivation to be productive

Recently I have start doing more productive thing rather than reading online novel and playing computer games. I was inspired by a friend's friend's blog to start a blog of my own. It's actually a really good thing; I feel more purposeful this way, and there might be a big payoff too! What exactly that might be I don't know but I can see the possibility. I will explain what I mean in a later post.