Category Archives: Tips

Of A Very Shiny Crystal Ball Called Google

Imagine this feeling. You have this very shiny crystal ball on your hands, and you can’t wait to put it safely on a shelf, so you can show it off to everyone. However, it’s reaaally heavy, and it took a lot of effort and carefulness to place it safely on the shelf. Just when you think you’re really close, you somehow let it go. You stumbled, or your hands just gave up because it’s too heavy. It then fell and broke into pieces.

That’s exactly what I felt last weekend.

When someone from Google contacted me, asking whether I will be interested to do a summer internship there next year, working with him, I was ecstatic. I met this guy in a conference, and luckily he was quite interested with my research. I’ve been trying to get an internship position there *well, actually anywhere, big companies are preferable though ;)* since last year, but without knowing anyone that could recommend me, it’s hardly possible to even get an interview.

Reading the email, I was jumping around like crazy. It was my boyfriend who brought me back to the ground, saying this doesn’t mean that I will go for an internship there. He’s right. The guy confirmed it. I still have to go through the regular protocol, including passing the dreadful technical interview. So this is like my ticket, not for the internship itself, but for a chance to get one.

I got two phone interviews scheduled three weeks after that, 45 minutes each. The first one was purely technical, live coding on a Google Doc. The second one was more focused on the research I am doing. The first interview was more terrifying than the second one. Talking about my own research was easier than solving a random coding problem, no matter how basic it is :p. Before the interviews I was studying like crazy, recalling all the basics about data structures and algorithms, practicing on Topcoder, reading all the tips and tricks. On the day of the first interview, I thought I was ready, or maybe more like I was trying to convince myself that I was ready. It turned out no, I was certainly not.

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lookslikescanned.com: Beat the Bureaucrats!

How many times do you have to print some documents, sign, then scan them before sending the signed documents to the administration? How many papers have you wasted, while you can do everything digitally?

lookslikescanned.com is the answer! ūüôā

You could add your signature in a PDF file without having to print the document (how?), then to make your PDF file looks like scanned, upload your document to lookslikescanned.com and it will scan the document for you.

Unfortunately, for now it only works for a single-page PDF file, but you could use services like www.splitpdf.com to split and merge multi-page PDF file. I’m sure soon lookslikescanned.com will also be able to scan multiple pages of PDF ;).

Save papers, save trees, save the world! ūüôā

Empty Inbox Policy

Just recently, my office decided to change the mail server from Microsoft to Google. I’m using Gmail since the beginning of time, forwarding my office mails into my private Gmail account, so that I only have to open one mail client for everything. So, even though Google lets you sign-in to more than one account, and it’s so easy to switch between accounts, at first I thought, “Oh, what a hassle, now I have to check my emails in two accounts.” But now I feel that this is actually a good thing, that work emails are now strictly separated from private emails.

One more good thing comes out of this change, I finally dedicated my time to manage my inbox. Someone sent me this lifehack after he saw my inbox with 5000++ emails, saying something like “Don’t you know that there is this feature called ‘archive’??” :D. I thought, why should I? I know which ones are read and which are unread anyway. But then, I would like to give it a try. It took me a whole day to clean my inbox and re-organize my mail client. Now that Gmail has this new feature of automatically separating emails coming from social network, advertisements, forum, etc., my filters and labels become obsolete, I don’t need them anymore.

And you know what, it works like magic!

I become more thrilled when there is a new email comes into my inbox. I simplify the rules from lifehack, I don’t separate follow-up and hold emails. Everything that comes into my inbox, whether it is something I need to reply, or something I need to do, becomes my to-do list. When that email is replied, or I do something about it (put it into my calendar, add it to my task list, get the task done, or whatever), it can be archived.¬†And then, I become obsessed with cleaning my inbox! Emails that need to be replied I reply immediately. Before I usually wait for some time, or even forget about them completely¬†*replying emails is not my favorite activity*.

Well, the downside is that now I check my inbox more often, because I’m so eager to make it empty again ^^; I need to work on that. Uhm, actually, my smartphone knows when there’re new emails, so I just need to watch out for phone notifications, no need to check every 10 minutes. Anyway, I really recommend this trick to make your day more productive.

There’s one more policy that I’ve added in my life: empty sink policy! Do dishwashing right after cooking or eating, no compromise ūüėÄ

Top NLP/CL Conferences and Journals

picture is taken from here

I got this tips from the Research Methodology course that I took last year, which is mandatory for first year students in my PhD program: one of the first steps in the PhD study is knowing your community, i.e. the conferences and journals for your field, where people with the same interests gather and share the knowledge and their research.

For Natural Language Processing or Computational Linguistics field, Google Scholar computes the ranking of publications (including conferences, journals and workshops) in which the published papers are cited the most *with the assumption of good papers are usually cited a lot*, which looks like the following:

  1. Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
  2. Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)
  3. Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL)
  4. International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING)
  5. Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC) Read more »

When should I tell?

(source: taken from PhDcomics.com)

Yeah… it should either be the night before or… never. But never seems impossible since there will be a project meeting while I’m away. Hmmmh… actually I plan to tell her after we submit the paper, “By the way, since we submit the paper already, I want to tell you that I have a plan to leave for vacation for two weeks. I hope you don’t mind.”.

Will stick to that plan for now ^^.

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Main NLP/CL 2014 Conference Deadlines

picture is taken from PhD Comics

Here is the list of deadlines for main Natural Language Processing (NLP) or Computational Linguistics (CL) conferences in 2014.

Conference Submission Date Notification Date Conference Date Location
ICML 2014 (cycle 1 submission) Oct 3, 2013 Dec 9, 2013 Jun 22-24, 2014 Beijing, China
LREC 2014 Oct 15, 2013 Jan 31, 2014 May 28-30, 2014 Reykjavik, Iceland
EACL 2014 (long paper) Oct 18, 2013 Dec 20, 2013 Apr 28-30, 2014 Gothenburg, Sweden
EACL 2014 (short paper) Jan 6, 2014 Feb 24, 2014 Apr 28-30, 2014 Gothenburg, Sweden
CICLing 2014 Jan 7, 2014¬†(Dec 31, 2013) Jan 30, 2014 Apr 6‚Äď12, 2014 Kathmandu, Nepal
ACL 2014 (long paper) Jan 10, 2014 Mar 5, 2014 Jun 23-25, 2014 Baltimore, MD, USA
SIGIR 2014 (long paper) Jan 27, 2014 Apr 18, 2014 Jul 06-11, 2014 Gold Coast, Australia
ICML 2014 (cycle 2 submission) Jan 31, 2014 Apr 9, 2014 Jun 22-24, 2014 Beijing, China
AAAI 2014 Feb 4, 2014 (Jan 31, 2014) Apr 7, 2014 Jul 27-31, 2014 Quebec City, Canada
SIGIR 2014 (short paper) Feb 17, 2014 Apr 18, 2014 Jul 06-11, 2014 Gold Coast, Australia
SIGDIAL 2014 Mar 9, 2014 Apr 18, 2014 Jun 18-20, 2014 Philadelphia, PA, USA
ACL 2014 (short paper) Mar 12, 2014 Apr 17, 2014 Jun 23-25, 2014 Baltimore, MD, USA
CoNLL 2014 Mar 14, 2014 Apr 21, 2014 Jun 26-27, 2014 Baltimore, MD, USA
COLING 2014 Mar 21, 2014 May 23, 2014 Aug 23-30, 2014 Dublin, Ireland
EMNLP 2014 Jun 2, 2014 Jul 22, 2014 Oct 26-28, 2014 Doha, Qatar

(source: taken from here…¬†a very very helpful site)

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Applying for US Visa in Italy

I knooow.. I should start writing my paper, but I can’t stop being excited about my upcoming trip >.<

Call me… Fnu! ūüėÄ My name is Paramita, Fnu Paramita…

Getting the tourist visa was quite easy actually:

  1. Fill the online application form for non-immigrant visa (DS-160) in here. There is a warning in that site **Please be patient as you use this form. Download times may vary depending on your internet connection speed.** But for me, the patience was mostly needed to fill those pages of questions, and the last page is totally nonsense.
  2. Schedule an appointment for interview. Since I apply from Italy, here is the website for that. No complicated things there, just fill the form, including the details of the application number of DS-160.
  3. Make the payment, in the same website.
  4. Go for interview. I did it in the Consulate General of U.S. in Milan. We cannot enter the building with our bags, so I put it in a cafe nearby, which has this side business of renting bag lockers because of that ^^;
  5. Pick up the passport stamped with the visa. Well, there is also an option to send the passport back with extra fee, and I regret that I didn’t take that option…

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Solo Travel, Kenapa Tidak?

Solo travel, bukan berarti jalan-jalan ke Solo ya.. maksudnya adalah travelling sendirian. Dan tentunya travelling ke tempat yang benar-benar asing, yang belum pernah kita kunjungi sebelumnya.

Jujur saja, saya banyak belajar dari pengalaman pertama saya yang bisa dibilang… terribile ;). Pengalaman yang sempat membuat saya menganggap bahwa solo travel itu ga enak, lebih enak jalan-jalan bareng teman *preferably teman yang punya kamera SLR ;p*.¬†But as they said… practice makes perfect. Dan saya pun jadi ketagihan ^^.

3 hari sendirian… cukup!¬†

Salah satu kerugian dari solo travel adalah, kita jadi gampang kesepian. Duduk nongkrong menikmati pemandangan bagus, lalu menerawang, pikiran jadi melayang kemana-mana. Ujung-ujungnya jadi galau deh, hihi. Walaupun biasanya nanti di hostel ketemu dengan para solo backpackers lainnya dan bisa dapat teman baru, tetap saja sih, kadang kangen mengobrol dengan teman yang sudah kenal lebih lama.

Jadi, saya menemukan formula bahwa saya bisa jalan-jalan sendirian maksimal 3 hari, lebih dari itu… mulai mewek, I want my friends :'(. Memang pada dasarnya manusia adalah makhluk sosial, hehe..

Rencanakan sedetail mungkin, dan siapkan plan B

Salah satu kesalahan saya waktu solo travel pertama itu adalah, tidak mengantisipasi masalah yang mungkin muncul, seperti: diusir dari stasiun tengah malam ga boleh menginap, dan terpaksa berkeliaran di jalan pagi-pagi buta *dengan suhu minus karena waktu itu masih winter* XD. Harusnya saya browsing dulu mencari informasi apakah stasiun itu buka 24 jam, atau setidaknya tahu letak hostel yang bisa didatangi tengah malam kalau-kalau ga bisa menginap di stasiun.

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