Fantastic thesis quotes page

Recently, I was reading through a thesis titled “On Honey Bee Colony Dynamics and Disease Transmission” and on page vi I came across a page of quotes. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

Then I read the second quote on the page.

Fantastic.

Sorely tempted to do something similar with my own thesis.

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An interesting scam

I received an interesting scam email this morning from a person claiming to a representative of “Domain Registry China”. I thought I’d post it and hopefully prevent any business owners potentially falling victim to it. This is what it said:

Dear CEO,

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. If this email affects you, we are very sorry, please ignore this email. Thanks)

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in China.
We received an application from Hua An Ltd on September 11 2017. They want to register “jacksimpson .net.cn”, “jacksimpson .org.cn”, “jacksimpson .asia” domain names, they are in China and Asia domain names. But after checking it, we find “jacksimpson” conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

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Honeybees and missing data part 2: Where do bees like to live?

This article relates to where bees prefer to build their hives. Back in the 1970s, there was a bunch of research conducted at Cornell surveying where bees build hives in the wild, and all the evidence seemed to indicate that honeybees preferred to build their hives relatively close to the ground. This finding seemed rather odd, since logically a hive built higher up would be better protected from predators.

Eventually they figured out that the answer was contained in the missing data. What had happened is that the hives which were closer to the ground were far easier to spot by the researchers! Bees do actually prefer to build a hive as high up as possible (and will do so in the majority of cases). In this case, the missing data didn’t just give the scientists more details, it changed the story entirely!

I thought this story was a great lesson for how researchers and organisations have to be careful with how they collect their data, and which data they base their decisions on, as collecting data just because it is easier to get may not just be a waste of money, it may lead you in entirely the wrong direction.

Part 1 is available here.

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​Honeybees and missing data part 1: Tale of the missing bees

​Sometimes missing data can tell you its own story, while other times missing data can lead you in completely the wrong direction. As I’ve been working on a PhD studying honeybee behaviour, I thought I’d share a couple of articles about bees and how important missing data can be.

This first article is the story of how I was tearing my hair out in frustration trying to get tags to stop coming off my bees when something else entirely was going on.

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Interesting recruitment strategy

I saw this guy who works at the campus bookstore the other morning:

My initial reaction was that it felt a little dehumanising to employees, but after I chatted with him (and he agreed to have his picture taken) it turns out he found it rather amusing.

He also remarked that the novelty of the shirt seemed to make it rather effective – he was constantly being scanned by people when he was out and about. I found this rather interesting as most people don’t tend to bother using QR codes, but I suppose this is one way to stand out – I certainly noticed!

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Bees, lasers, and machine learning

I originally wrote this article about how I’ve used machine learning as part of my research for the Data Skeptic blog. If you’re interested in machine learning, I can’t recommend their podcast enough.

A couple of years ago I started my PhD at the Australian National University working to quantify honeybee behaviour. We wanted to build a system that could automatically track and compare different groups of bees within the hive.

I took the project as I had a background in biology, beekeeping and programming, and I wanted to work in a lab where I could learn from a supervisor who was incredibly knowledgeable about both biology and software development.

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There are two types of to-do lists

Nothing feels as good as checking something off a to-do list. In fact, I have added completed tasks to my to-do list purely to enjoy the feeling of checking them off a moment later.

The problem I find is that the tasks which are important to get done in the longer term and which move projects forward, tend to be:

  1. Harder to get started with
  2. Less enjoyable until I get going
  3. Non-urgent
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whiteboard notes
What does it mean to finish a project?

I’d like to address one point of contention some people have had with my previous article about finishing projects – what to do when it isn’t worth finishing. I think the important thing to focus on here is the minimal viable product (MVP) that you can tangibly show as a result of having worked on something.

Sometimes we reach a stage where we realise that a project is no longer a logical use of our time. Maybe you’re working on a startup and realise there is no market for your product, or maybe new opportunities arise and it makes sense to redirect your time to a different project.

In cases like these, I think it’s fair to re-evaluate what ‘finished’ looks like. For some of your projects it may mean releasing an MVP and open sourcing some code, for others it may mean pivoting and salvaging some of your work in the new project.

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emailing on phone
This is how you hustle

Recently, the company that provides hosting for this website experienced some technical problems and my website went down. This was rather frustrating, and I sent them a Tweet to ask them to please resolve the issue. Before they even responded to me, I suddenly had this email in my inbox.

I saw your tweet to JustHost about your site being down.

I wanted to reach out to see if you would consider moving over to PeoplesHost? I’d love to speak more about any issues you’re experiencing, how PeoplesHost can help resolve those issues for you, and provide a level of support that you expect as a customer.

I have full confidence that we’d be able to provide a much better service. I’ll be looking forward to hearing back from you!

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If you don’t finish then you’re just busy, not productive

One of the biggest realisations I’ve come to as part of my PhD, is how little people care about how I spend my time, they only care about what I am able to deliver. Yet in order to deliver, you need to finish. I was recently reading an article on this topic, and I think the advice can be best summed up as:

If you’re always starting interesting projects and not finishing, then no matter how hard you work, you’re just busy, not productive.

I find this message extremely compelling, because I frequently find myself starting new programming projects in my spare time. In a lot of ways they are not a waste – I definitely learn a lot from these projects and gain a new skill. Yet at the same time, because I move on to something else that interests me before I can finish my current side-projects, when I tell people about these projects, all I can say is:

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