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Education

Journal: Should I depend on my former professor for a recommendation

Journal by esocid
Since August I've been in a graduate program in Florida working on what I thought would be research that interested me. It turned out that my duties were misrepresented, as were the perks. Any talk of travel is now apparently reserved for PIs and senior researchers, and what I am doing in the lab is not in line at all with my background. My professor even mentioned "sort of talking me into it." He and I have decided it is best for both of us to "end the semester on a high note," so to speak but seem to have ended the professional relationship positively. I am still in the lab for the remainder of the semester and will finish out my contract.
My question lies in should I depend on my soon-to-be former adviser for a recommendation? I only ask this because of what seems like some fishy treatment. The lab is divided into two rooms, one with really expensive equipment, and one with not so expensive equipment. It appears I am no longer trusted to have access to the expensive room when the lab manager is not present, who shuts and locks the door between them. While I understand protecting ones investment it is insulting to get a very clear message of "we don't trust you anymore." My weekly meetings seem to have ceased as well. While I do not slack on my work, it has taken me some time to get a handle on the lab techniques, as I had no previous experience. I am going to continue going about my work and hope that I can further the project and at least salvage a professional contact out of this as well, but beyond using a friend to fake a job reference call, how should I determine if it will help or hurt me to have him as a reference?
User Journal

Journal: Engineers and technicians

Journal by esocid
For anyone out that who has worked on...anything...has it ever run across your mind, while you are cursing the engineers into oblivion, why in the hell did they design it like this? My frustration has come mainly from working on cars. I own a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that has not given me much in the way of headaches. It did always confuse me as to why 1/2 of the bolts on it are metric and the other half american. The worst things I ever had to replace were the engine mounts. My most recent tirade of swear words came when replacing the upper control arm on my 1997 Ford Explorer (I'll forgo explaining all the reasons I hate this car for now) and was the 2nd time within a year I've replaced the thing. There are two large bolts that mount it to the frame, one of which was no sweat. The other was buried underneath fuel lines, brake lines, and 4 inches away from the frame when the bolt itself is longer than that. I had to force the steel lines out of the way and manage to tilt the bolt up and out all while having my hand dangerously crammed in some tiny space. It took about 3 hours to replace the part, the majority of which was spent on removing one bolt. Another example: I had to replace the third brake light above the rear window. First of all, I'd like to know why someone decided it would be a great idea to put a neon cathode tube with a ballast-transformer as a brake light. Second, why was this thing enclosed with rivets? To replace it you must drill out the rivets, removed the light assembly, bake it in the oven and use something to dissolve the glue they used to seal the assembly. You could simply replace the assembly for a mere $300+ or make yourself an LED array like I, and many others, did for about $10. Is it that engineers never think of maintenance when designing products, or is it that managers pressure them to do it to the lowest common denominator - cost efficiency? I have come across this with electronics, but with less frequency, and mostly with printers, but why are mechanical devices designed so difficultly to repair?
Java

Journal: Alternatives To Java As a Cross-Platform Language

Journal by esocid
I have used, not programmed, Java since it has been in major public use I guess, and it has spurned a hatred for it deep within that place where a soul would normally reside. Whether it is from web-embedded, to a Java based program I have looked at it with disdain. From my perspective it is memory hogging, slow, and extremely bulky (overly used buttons, menus, boxes, load times). The thing that spurred this journal was today's use of an open source Java based program for evolutionary analyses and phylogenetics. I installed and waited for it to load...load...load modules, and went through the little tour that showed its uses. I'm not sure if it is inherent to the language or the people programming in Java, but there are always so many buttons or menus to manipulate something. Isn't there something simpler that will do the same job? I'm not trying to incite a flamewar here, just some discussion and input from those who know more about programming than I do. Why is this the case with Java, and what are the alternatives to using it as a cross-platform language, like Perl or Python?

Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.

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