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Friends, permit me to be pessimistic for a moment. As most of you know I’m working crazy hours trying to finish the PhD, and do the other things I do. Also some of you know that last year I did my dissertation proposal (one of the first steps in the completion of the degree), and it was an absolute disaster. One project in particular not only caused me to push back my proposal from around March 2013 to July 2013, but it also was the focal point of disagreement and confusion in the proposal. That project was the 3D Genome viewer. If you want to read more about it I posted it in my 2013 post mortem
As a result I took that project out of my dissertation and shifted my focus to other projects that are a part of my degree. However, my adviser continues to push me to work on his pet project that has nothing to do with my graduation. Honestly this has become more like a job, and I have to work on my actual dissertation work on the side. I’m being funded to do this project, but this project does not contribute anything. You may be thinking that this should add some more publications to my name, but I’m sitting here now reading through the comments and they are echoing my concerns. The purpose of this project is unclear, and the results could take up to 10 years for them to gel.
In the abstract, introduction and conclusion the authors over-represent the importance of their work; a naive reading of the manuscript would suggest this work is going to cause a revolution in molecular biology. In reality, currently available experimental evidence simply does not allow accurate 3D genome models to be calculated. Thus, the only kind of 3D models that can currently be shown in a system such as theirs are highly speculative ones… I am optimistic that such advances will eventually happen – my guess is that it could take 10 years or more before we have 3D models worth the attention of most molecular biologists.
By working on this project, it has caused me to work, sometimes, 10 to 12 hour days and not have a break on the weekend. Consequently, it has also caused me to become incredibly behind in the work I need to finish my degree. Yet why do I continue to work on it? Because my adviser told me to. He holds all the cards, and I have to do his bidding or else I won’t be able to finish. I’m at a cross road right now where either I continue to work on this, make him happy, but continue to get more and more behind. On the other hand, I could refuse to work on the project lose my funding and have to find money else where, which could also put me behind. Either way I’m hosed.
Anyone who wants to go for a PhD or has just started a PhD learn from these lessons so you don’t end up like me.
- Find an adviser who is the expert in ONE subject. Mine is actually a very accomplished bioinformatics professor whose studies are in gene order. He also does games on the side. What does this mean? I have plenty of leverage to do what I want, but I also have to be the expert and not him. I have to be the one to forge ahead and find out everything about the subject. I have to be the one finding conferences, learning how to write for them, and publish to them. I end up doing twice the work than others because I have to both find, learn, and effectively become the expert on everything.
- Prepare a head of time if you know they are going on sabbatical. I didn’t do that and I paid for it. He was out of the country for months on end, so I had to be the one running the lab. To be honest I did it poorly, because I was not prepared for that responsibility. Just know that if they don’t have to be around, then they won’t be around.
- Make sure they know what they are talking about and are the expert on the subject. I have worked on two major projects that ended up failing, and also a bunch of smaller projects that did not work. In my dissertation I have an appendix that I like to call, “The trail of tears”, as it catalogs all of the failed projects and why. Everyone had a major flaw that I noted early on that ended up being the failing point, because I ended up having more insight than they did. Either way I had to work on them until I sufficiently convinced them that the idea was bad from the start and/or was not possible to accomplish now.
- Along with knowing what they are talking about, make sure that every project you work on has a clear plan and focus. If they continue to ask you to pick up a rock and the only feedback to you is, “Oh that’s the wrong rock try again”, you will have many sleepless nights redoing work.
- Keep records on income, and stay on them when it comes to funding. I know this seems a little odd, but after examining funds last year compared to other years, I learned that I was not being paid as much as I could have been. Also in 2012, I hit some very hard times owing many credit card bills, because of having to pay for trips, equipment, and other stuff that was never paid back to me. Make sure they keep there word or otherwise you’ll continue to get screwed out of time and money.
I know this has been mostly a scathing rant against my adviser, but he has provided me with many opportunities, and benefits. He’s definitely put up with a lot of my nonsense, and inconsistencies, and he has also provided insight I would have never gotten any other way. However, I want to graduate. I want to move forward with my life. Right now all I feel like is instead of being supportive, he’s holding me back with these pet projects.
The nightmarish hellscape of coding a game in c# that uses libraries written in c++ whose data is marshaled in shared memory by code written in C.
We’re back and better than ever! For the last couple of years I have been working hard to get an indie game festival started up, since we don’t have one in the south east. Thanks to the Nickelodeon and Indie Grits we have slowly but surly began to grow the community. We even have support and sponsorship! Here’s the run down for people who would like to submit a game.
First, it can be a new game that you’re developing and need feedback, an old game you want to promote, or something strange and unique that may test the boundaries of what a game is!
Next register and submit the games here. $10 for students and $25 for professionals. Once you’re registered and your games are submitted we will send you all the information you need including passes to get into the exclusive after party. Trust me you’ll want to come to this.
Finally we will judge the games and awards will be given out at the festival. Here’s the break down:
- “Yottabyte,” Best of Show, $750
- “Gravibyte,” Humanities Gaming, $500
- “Exabyte,” Experimental, $250
- “Megabyte,” Student, $250
- “Prettibyte,” Best Art, $250
Submit, play, win, and party! Let everyone know and let’s make this a big deal!
When people meet me they generally ask some of the same questions such as, “how did you start this?”, “why do you do it?”, and “what are you doing in my home?”. However, I get some different ones from time to time. Here’s another list of less frequently asked questions!
- Are you still a student at UofSC?
- Why are you still here?
I’m finishing up my PhD in computer science, so soon enough I’ll be Dr. Boombox Guy.
- What do you ACTUALLY do?
My job title is research assistant, which comes with many duties. All of my work revolves around video games, thus I create them, conduct research with them, and write papers about them, and present about my work. Also I teach either at the university or at different high school as outreach.
- When are you finished?
Hopefully by this Summer.
- Are you going to pass on the boombox before you leave?
The times I thought I was going to leave I did pick someone to take my place. I’ll probably do the same now… Maybe a contest…?
- It must cost money doing what you do, so why haven’t you ever sold merchandise or even got sponsorship?
Admittedly it does cost money to do what I do. I have to constantly find and buy D batteries, I have to buy new connector cables, and I tear through shoes constantly. The reason why I’ve never done any of those is I feel it takes away from the purpose. To me, this is suppose to be something that is carefree and just fun for the sake of being fun. Once you add in getting revenue from it, then it becomes like work. Furthermore if I had sponsors, then I would not have the final say in what I do, how I have to behave, and even down to what I play.
- Where have you been? I haven’t seen you?Seriously! I answered this in the last one! If you don’t see me out then I’m usually working or I’ve forgotten to buy D batteries. Oops.
Hope this answered some of those burning questions, and I’ll have more for you later!