Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dating myself

The BBC made some poor kid cart around a vintage Walkman instead of his usual iPod, and describe his experiences. If you, like me, remember the Walkman, the entire article is an exercise in making yourself feel old.

Some choice quotes:

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape.

I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

there were a number of buttons protruding from the top and sides of this device to provide functions such as "rewinding" and "fast-forwarding" (remember those?)

I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly

it is clearly evident that the music sounds significantly different than when played on an MP3 player, mainly because of the hissy backtrack and odd warbly noises on the Walkman

it's not all a one-way street when you line up a Walkman against an iPod. The Walkman actually has two headphone sockets, labelled A and B, meaning the little music that I have, I can share with friends.

[BBC via Slashdot]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Paper at ISIT 2009

UPDATE: PDF of the paper is here.

My paper at ISIT 2009 in Seoul:

Diversity Analysis of Irregular Fractional Cooperation
Andrew W. Eckford, Josephine P. K. Chu, and Raviraj S. Adve
Tuesday, June 30, 9:50-11:10, room 102, last talk in the session.

Here, we extend fractional cooperation to the irregular case, where each node can select a different fraction of source bits for relaying.

I will be presenting the paper. See you in Seoul!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On spam and academic trust

Anyone who publishes regularly, or even semi-regularly, will receive a steady flow of spam advertising new conferences and journals. The advertised publications vary widely in quality, and although some conferences are more academically reputable than others (with the frequently-spammed WMSCI notoriously on the low end), there is generally the presumption that the conferences themselves are legitimately organized. That is, whatever the expected quality of papers, one expects that the conference organizers are legitimately organizing an actual conference, and that payment of the registration fee will entitle the registrant to attend this conference, and report the conference publication on his/her CV.

This presumption of legitimacy (if not quality) is similarly true of spam advertising journals, special issues, calls for book chapters, and so on; however, it could easily be exploited. Especially since "getting a publication" motivates some academics to publish in lesser-known venues, particularly those who work in environments where promotion is due to quantity rather than quality of publications.

This came up recently, as I received an academic spam (similar to this one) offering to publish my five-year-old Ph.D. thesis as a book. Initially I found the offer interesting (whatever the quality of the publisher, it might make the thesis available to a wide audience via online bookstores), but in an unpleasant surprise, I discovered that the legitimacy of this offer is questionable. For one thing, they distressingly ask for your bank information, for the purposes of sending you "royalties" (fat chance, my thesis would probably sell less than 10 copies in total).

In spite of the controversy, there's enough room to believe that this publisher is probably legitimate, although I won't be taking up the offer. Nonetheless, it's not hard to imagine the following scam: harvest academic e-mail addresses, which are normally published along with papers; set up a bogus conference complete with fancy web page; spam-advertise the conference to the e-mail addresses harvested; accept everything; and once the authors register, take the money and run. Given the outrageously high registration fees for conferences these days (approaching a thousand dollars), this would be a remarkably lucrative scam if even a few people fell for it.

It's enough to make me cast a wary eye on my inbox full of new conference announcements.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paper at ICC 2009

UPDATE: PDF of the paper is here.

My paper at ICC 2009 in Dresden:

Optimization for Fractional Cooperation in Multiple-Source Multiple-Relay Systems
J. P. K. Chu, A. W. Eckford, and R. S. Adve
Monday, June 15, 10:50-12:20, Konferenz 3, third talk in the session.

I'll post the paper later this week. This work is from Josephine's thesis, where we build on our earlier work on fractional cooperation (PDFs: [1], [2]), looking now at optimization of the fractions.

I won't be in Dresden -- Ravi will be presenting the paper.