Monday, January 28, 2008

We get letters

Signs of regime change over at Trans. Comm.?

Dear Professor,

Your review on paper number [redacted] titled [redacted] for the IEEE Transactions on Communications is now overdue for one week. Please try to complete your review as soon as possible.

I don't think I've ever received an overdue notification so quickly for any journal. (Yes, I'm a busy man and my reviews are often late, so I'm part of the problem too, but I rely on the editors reminding me of the deadlines, which they often don't.) I think this is a good omen. Even better would be a reminder a week before the deadline.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Clothes make the professor

Shortly after starting my tenure-track job, I had an epiphany while walking around campus in my jeans and T-shirt: I look just like all of them.

Since that day I have always made an effort to dress professionally for my job -- just collared shirts at first, but this year I've moved up to suit jackets (sans tie). I think it's working; I seem to get more respect from students, and even some compliments from colleagues.

Not everyone reacts positively. I'm not aware of anyone like this in my department, but for some reason, many professors view it as their God-given right to wear a burlap sack to work, and for them to dress nicely is to pervert academic freedom. I'm actually serious.

So it's nice to know that there are a few others of us out there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This Week in Peer Review

I had two papers accepted for ICC 2008. Generally the review process was efficient and well-organized, in line with my previous experience of ICC. Here are my general observations:
  • Paper submission deadline was Sep 28, 2007; anticipated decision date was Jan 10, 2008; decisions were received on time.
For such a large conference, a 3.5 month turnaround is quite reasonable.
  • Paper 1: general subject area was wireless network security (submitted to the Wireless Networking symposium)
This paper received four reviews, which is impressive; I have never seen that before on a conference paper. Reviews were generally positive. Two of the reviews were brief, but the other two had substantial and helpful comments.
  • Paper 2: general subject area was cooperative diversity (submitted to the Communication Theory symposium)
This paper received two reviews, which is average for an ICC paper. Both reviews, though generally positive, were short (like, 2-3 lines each) and not particularly helpful. One review contained a criticism of our paper that was either incoherent or logically inconsistent, I can't decide which.

Disclaimer: These views are my own and should in no way be construed as the views of my coauthors.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

IEEE Transactions on Amateur Hour

I would like to bitch about IEEE Transactions on Communications, the 'flagship' journal of the Communications Society. Scare quotes are intentional.

It is hard to imagine how my experience with this journal could have been worse. In 2005 (!) I made two submissions -- a letter and a regular paper -- for publication. For the letter -- a short submission for which a quick turnaround is expected -- I waited 13 months for the first decision, which turned out to be a rejection. So thanks very much, that's over a year that I'm not going to get back to improve the paper. I'm not even mad about the rejection so much as the ridiculous amount of time taken.

The regular paper, though accepted, ended up going through a 2.5 year review process, which I'm sure would have been far longer in the absence of repeated and insistent requests for status updates from me. At one point the associate editor handling the paper had failed to respond to any of several repeated requests for an update over a period of about a month. Then, after the paper was accepted, I had to harass the publications editor to give me an estimate on the publication date. Finally, it is supposed to appear in the Jan 08 issue; yet, it is January 20th and the January issue has yet to appear. I checked -- this is pretty much the only IEEE journal that has not already printed its January issue.

The contrast is striking when compared to my experience with IEEE Trans. on Wireless Communications -- I submitted a paper last February, and it has already been accepted and is on the path to publication, probably later in the year. Pretty much everyone on the publication path was professional and attentive to their responsibilities.

My advice to any telecommunications researcher is to AVOID Trans. Comm. if at all possible. I did not encounter anyone at this journal who seems to realize that careers are on the line whenever they engage in this kind of thing.

UPDATE: Jan 21: the issue has now been posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm going to China

Both papers submitted for ICC 2008 were accepted, so I'm going to Beijing in May to present them. Hen hao!

Conversations with Steve Munro

As a frequent transit user, I often check out transit advocate Steve Munro's blog. I'm not entirely sure why, but I find myself frequently disagreeing with his viewpoint on the Toronto transit system.

A recent exchange on Blue 22, the proposed high speed link from Union Station to Pearson airport:

Me: The same arguments used in favour of high speed rail to the airport are also used to justify the continued operation of the island airport. Surely you would agree that the expense of Blue 22 would be justified by the death of the island airport, even if it makes no sense from a transit perspective (though I would dispute that as well).

Steve: I won’t speak for others, but my objection to Blue 22 is that this is a line that should be part of the local transit system, not a privately developed, premium fare service that serves a minority of potential demand in this corridor.

What does this mean? Do you mean that you like the polluting eyesore that is the island airport, or do you mean that you would rather wait for your preferred transit solution (which has been neither proposed nor planned by any level of government), while hoping that the island airport will go away on its own (which, in spite of Mayor Miller's 2003 mandate, is still alive and well)?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A million-dollar idea, in Monopoly money

You know what would be awesome? The ability to (easily) delete individual items from saved form information. I hate it when I misspell, e.g., a search term for Google and am confronted with my mistake every time I try to enter something similar.