The Ph.D. Student’s Ticking Clock

The Ph.D. Student’s Ticking Clock – Graduate Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Many of my former students come back years later and ask my advice about getting a PhD. I generally tell them that a PhD program is like a monastery – you have to love the pursuit of knowledge, for its own sake,  to make it bearable. If you are doing it only in pursuit of a post-graduation goal, it is too hard a life.

Voila_Capture 2014-10-21_04-35-12_PM This article includes a startling graph on time-to-graduation. I graduated from MIT in 1982, after 4 years. According to the graph, the average time in social sciences then was 8 years?!  I had a lot of breaks (NSF Fellowship, stipend from one of my thesis advisors, pregnant wife to provide emotional support and incentive!) but 4 to 5 years seemed like the norm in my program.

In any case, the second half of the article has some realistic advice about the stresses of protracted graduate programs, and about the importance of your particular advisor’s style.

TOM IRGN438 course information

This post is for students who want to take my course, Technology and Operations Management, IRGN438, but have not been able to register. Here is the syllabus. Take a careful look, and realize that it involves a considerable amount of work. If you want permission to take the course, please send me an email with: Continue reading

Ted for IRPS faculty: setting up your first Ted class

This page is for my colleagues who are using Ted for the first time in Fall 2014. The main difficulty you will encounter is that it is too flexible. There are many ways to do just about every operation. But they often look different to students. One result is that students don’t know where to find material. Another result (again, speaking from my experience last year) is that you will design a Ted setup that you want to change after a few weeks, potentially adding further confusion for students. This is just for IRPS faculty although other faculty new to Blackboard are welcome to look. Everyone else should ignore it.

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Kindle books and academic research = needless pain

I’ve probably purchased 300 books in the last year for research purposes, not to mention all the fiction my wife gets (and so do I, if it costs $3 or less).  For the newer ones , buying them as eBooks is generally an option. But the state of software, DRM, and copy protection for Kindle books is a mess. Kindle’s software (like iBooks) is deliberately crippled – no copying into another document, no printing, and especially no way to copy diagrams. I’m running Kindle’s software on my Mac and on an iPad, rather than using a Kindle tablet, but that barely helps.

Librarians against DRM

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Joe Stiglitz disses TPP treaty: it’s for corporations, not people

Joe Stiglitz critique of TPP Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty:

 Corporations on both sides of the Pacific have an interest at lowering regulatory standards—to protect the environment, to protect consumers, to protect workers, to protect health. But ordinary citizens, our society, will suffer. So you can get corporations on both sides pushing an agenda that will be increasing corporate profits at the cost of the well-being of people on both sides of the Pacific.

…Philip Morris is suing Uruguay under an investment agreement. It says, “This interferes with our basic right to sell products to kill people.” It’s like the Opium War 150 years ago, where the West went to war because China said, “We don’t want opium,” and we said, “That interferes with the basic right to trade.”

Web Special: Joseph Stiglitz on TPP, Cracking Down on Corporate Tax Dodgers & New BRICS Bank

More analysis of corporate capture of the TPP treaty,

 

 

Comparing OCR program compression: PDFpen, Acrobat, and Abbyy Finereader

I have been doing a lot of OCR, as I study more than 100 old aircraft manuals to see how aviation procedures evolved. I have them all in a database, and it’s useful to search the DB for key terms like V1 and density altitude. In the end, no single OCR program did everything, and I have ended up with 3. (OCR = Optical Character Recognition = takes scanned documents and makes them searchable, copyable, etc.) Here are some notes on my experience, with the goal of saving time for others in the future.  Continue reading

State of hacking: you need a password manager.

(I wrote this primarily for friends and colleagues. I’m posting it on my blog for efficiency/discussion/amendment.) My IT manager recently sent around a warning about phishing attacks. (And I just attended a scary CSE seminar on spear-phishing — but that is another story.) Among his advice was:

You should use a strong password on all UCSD accounts and you should never use the same password on any other account you have,

That’s perennial advice that is both good and impossible. It’s good because many (most?) web sites keep making security mistakes that lead to massive breaches, exposing millions of passwords at a time. (The recent+ 100 million account breach at Target, for example.) It’s impossible because we have a decade or more of experience, research, and discussion that says using unique passwords for each login is completely impractical, and nobody actually does it. Continue reading