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Tag: grad school

Grad school update

This semester I only have class two days per week. I knew going into this semester that I would be busy every day and not just the days I have class (this isn't my first time in grad school after all).

But wow — I've really stretched myself thin this semester. I just tried to list it all... and it didn't seem like much, but underestimating some of the time commitments is what is getting me.

A lot of the smaller projects I've wanted to work one have gotten pushed back, and keeping up with this blog has been harder than I anticipated. I don't quite have time for the Monday/Wednesday/Friday update schedule that I had planned, so I'll be switching to Monday/Thursday to see if I can stick to it.

Also, I took a trip to San Antonio in conjunction with LOCUS. That was fun and served to confirm that I'm on the right career path.

And now, a few quotable things I've heard this semester:

  • "We have the curse of multidimensionality... that'd be a good idea for a Halloween costume." -- Dr. Leite
  • "Better out than perfect." (on manuscripts and journal submissions) Said by Dr. Bondy, but not sure the original source. (Maybe a Dr. Johnson?)
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Grad school update

Add/Drop and the first full week of school are over. A few thoughts from the past month or so:

On teaching...

  • Having taught hundreds of students, some are bound to recognize me. Some excitedly wave to me. Some smile. Some glare. Some say cryptic statements as we pass each other: "Hey Doug: you gave me a B+." (Is that a good or bad thing in your mind?) I guess this goes with the territory. I remember none of their names.
  • I feel a little weird not teaching this semester.

On research...

  • Working with coauthors can be tricky. Working with seven coauthors is trickier.
  • The pace of research can be slow.
  • I'm trying to learn to stand my grand at times. (Come on, let's get this paper out there!)
  • I've got to get better about following up with people.

On technology...

  • I'm need to remain vigilant to avoid getting stuck in old paradigms. A friend/colleague of mine uses DropBox to share files with her students (and ostensibly to move her research around to different computers). I have 7 flash drives, several of which are identical. Yeah. DropBox would have been great for sharing some giant files with my students over the summer (I wanted to distribute JMP to my students because UF has a site license for it, but the short semester and some emails that JMP never responded to precluded me from including it in the course). I've resisted using DropBox because of privacy and security concerns, but for non-sensitive, non-critical data it seems like a good solution. I've been wanting to investigate running my own DropBox-like service, but I just... don't have the time. There are some open source alternatives I've looked at, but the time factor is really a key thing. The two main FOSS alternatives I've heard of are Sparkleshare and ownCloud, but as I've never used any, consider that more of a starting point for looking.
  • My current work-flow is more or less working for me. My computer boots Linux by default, and 90% of what I do is there. When I need Windows, the flash hard drive is fast enough that I can be in Windows in less than two minutes.

On classes...

  • When three hour blocks become standard, 50 minute classes feel really short.
  • Parking on campus after restrictions are lifted is more awful than I realized. (I'd really like UF to implement an after-hours permit that cost $50/year or something but allowed one to park in any lot that is restricted during the day. Who knows, this might not fix the problem and just cost more money. Something should be done, though.)
  • Textbooks are still really expensive. Many of my textbooks have been available on SpringerLink in previous semesters... this semester, not so much. In fact, an ebook I did find can only be checked out by one person at a time (really EBSCOhost? way to stay relevant).
  • I don't mind homework. I don't like exams.
  • Spanish class is terrifying, mostly because it isn't in English.

On growing up...

  • Because eventually I'll need a REAL ID to fly on an airplane, I headed to the DMV. The DMV really isn't that bad. I mean, it is byzantine, but helps. Having GatheredWentGot, the initial "do you have the right papers?" part was a snap (despite a queue that began outside). Of course, they did mess up my address and hoped that I wouldn't think it was a big deal. All in all, about 75 minutes was all it took to get my new ID. Not terrible.
  • I no longer consider the majority of undergraduates my peers. Somewhere along the way a perspective shift happened and that was that.

I've got a few technology-related posts in the works (mostly about ThinkPad/Linux issues), but I figured a general blog post would be nice now.

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Orientation 1

This morning was the first of two orientations in my new department. This one was a small meet and greet with the graduate coordinator Dr. Terzian, but it was really emphasized that the department wants the on-campus Ph.D. students to be a community of scholars, a pleasant change from my old department. My old department was also in favor of the community of scholars feel, but did little to cultivate it. It was also emphasized that after the breadth of the first few years of graduate school, we need to come up with a question that is "original, important, and answerable", resulting in a narrowing of focus marking the beginning of the dissertation phase. Again, this is not a new realization or unexpected, but the department's forthrightness and attention they (hopefully continue to) give students is welcome.

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