Monday, October 26, 2009

Nanonet 2009: Video

I presented a paper at Nanonet 2009 in lovely Luzern. I wrote about the paper earlier.

Here's a video of my conference presentation (playlist):

Paper at Nanonet 2009

My paper at Nanonet 2009:

A. W. Eckford, “Timing information rates for active transport molecular communication,” in Proc. 4th International ICST Conference on Nano-Networks, Luzern, Switzerland, pp. 24-28, 2009.

PDF of the paper is here.

The paper is a first stab at molecular communication in a microfluidic system, like a lab-on-chip. This is one environment in which molecular communication would be commercially feasible: it turns out to be very hard to integrate electronics on these devices, so as much as possible needs to be done in liquid and chemistry. In the paper, I only look at timing information, and compute some achievable information rates. Plenty more work to follow.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who can stop old RMC? (again)

My glorious alma mater strikes again. Former Royal Military College physics professor Willard S. Boyle wins a share of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his work on charge-coupled devices. (He did his Nobel work at Bell Labs.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Canada enters 21st century

Ever since Rogers bought Fido five years ago, anybody wanting a GSM phone -- which is to say, anybody wanting a phone that would actually work in other countries -- was stuck with a single choice. That's about to change.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The right to remain silent

We've been warned about living our electronic lives online, as what we say can be used against us later. However, here's the first example I've heard where an adverse faculty hiring decision may have been based, in part, on the candidate's blog.

This week, Mihai Pătraşcu -- a theoretical computer scientist at AT&T Labs -- wrote a blog post in which he discussed his recent academic job search. I can't comment on his work, being well outside my expertise; but many people in his field (like Mitzenmacher, where I found the link) clearly think of him as talented. Pătraşcu's post is (in part) about his interview at UCSD -- they gave him an offer, but only after their first choice turned them down. On the basis of being ranked second, Pătraşcu declined the offer.

Pătraşcu mentions that, on the whole, his job search went less well than he expected: he didn't get interviews at many of the "top places" he applied. But down in the comments, we read:
I was on a hiring committee in one of these schools that decided not to interview you. Although I hesitated to post this comment, I think what I have to say will be helpful to your career. The reason we decided against further considering your case was because of your reputation as a very difficult, arrogant, and opinionated person. We even read your blog and found many posts that confirmed this reputation.

Of course, this anonymous commenter could be anybody. But the tone of Pătraşcu's post is certainly abrasive, so it is quite plausible that a hiring committee would have looked at similar posts and decided not to interview him.

I'm ambivalent about this. On the one hand, if his blog is representative, this guy wouldn't be fun to have as a colleague. On the other hand, I'm worried about the chilling effect -- it would be too bad if young researchers stopped blogging for fear of damaging their careers.