We're a little crazy, about science!

The second deadline

Well we’re roughly 36 hours away from the second deadline of the month. There’s still two more deadlines I need to hit to survive the month, but so far we’re on a shaky, but manageable track to make it to deadline number two. Four deadlines in one month! It’s a lot, but I guess it is the spooky season. I just didn’t realize I would be dealing with man-made horrors beyond my comprehension. Seriously though with the second deadline so close, I am just a bit stressed at the moment.

Presentation, presentation, who has the presentation? Surely not me! I’m recycling a lot of the slides from my first presentation of the month (the first deadline), I still need to add to what I originally had. That’s how I was spending my weekend, building up the foundation for the next step in my research. We need to make a case that my super secret technique (SST) actually works, or at the very least that it provides useful information of dubious origin. Either way is a huge victory to be honest, but we need to do it right so that’s what I’ve been working on. The not-so-flashy stuff.

School-PI would prefer that I just run with it. From my original experiment (n =1) he’s convinced that we have something and it shouldn’t be too hard to prove to people if we show it in action. He wants big and flashy. Maybe I’ve been hanging around hospital-PI for too long, but I would prefer to have a strong albeit boring foundation. Something solid that can take all the poking and prodding other researchers will do once they see it and if the general reaction to my qualifying exam data is any indication, there will be a lot poking and prodding!

In short I’m being pulled in two different directions, the play it safe direction and the fly before you can walk direction. I don’t mind doing a bit of both, but it’s still so early that I don’t even want to try the fancy stuff because I don’t know what to do with that information just yet. Since I will be headed into the DARPA conference in just a few weeks, I am determined to have a solid foundation where I’ve checked all the boxes that other researchers will question me about. I want to show that I’ve done my due diligence and that I’m not completely incompetent.

So Friday. I’m getting a special visit from surgeon-PI, whom I haven’t talked about in awhile, but I still see him a lot and we’ve been working on research together, but with other stuff taking the forefront in my mind (and blog) he hasn’t had much post time. Surgeon-PI is one of six of my dissertation committee members. He will have a say in the final decision if I pass or fail my dissertation defense. While he likes to give me a hard time, I mean it’s a theme at the hospital apparently, we’re all very sarcastic, he is a thoughtful and caring person. He’s someone I hold in high regard (along with a lot of people who are friends, mentors, and/or colleagues) so I want to make sure he thinks the work is sound.

I already know how hospital-PI feels about the work. We politely ignore it, seriously. He’s very conservative and even if I did something really amazing with it he would question if it was really what I think it is, which is his job, but he has a high bar for proof that I don’t think I’ll hit with my dissertation. It’s not his fault persay, he just has his skeptical meter set to 11. He’s not even 100% convinced that EEG is real and that’s after we’ve published a whole paper on it (haha). So yeah, it’s a lot on that end, he’s supportive don’t get me wrong, but he’s not a believer and nothing I could do between now and graduation would prove it to him.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, which is the next presentation. School-PI wanted me to demo SST, like have a full on working real-time presentation that we could play with, but I’m not even done looking over the data, so unless I have about three weeks worth of time tomorrow to do it, I think he’ll have to just accept the not flashy presentation.

Between now and DARPA however, I will be trying to get at least a really, incredibly, rough demo going. I have to admit it would be cool to showcase for them while they visit the school lab, so I think it would be fun to aim for that. Since that visit just happens to be about three weeks away (I swear I didn’t do that intentionally, I just checked when the DARPA conference is as I’m writing this) I think, with a lot of luck and a giant monitor (lol), I’ll be able to make it.

Real-time decoding is tricky at the best of times, so this will be a very rough, very difficult thing to pull off, but I’m throwing it out there now, that’s what I’m hoping to do. Maybe I’m being cocky, but after the last few weeks of flying through the data analysis I feel pretty good about the chances of making it happen. There’s a lot of work between now and then, but it will set me up very nicely for the rest of my dissertation work and the first publication (of two, hopefully) on SST. It’s one of the final things I needed to do for my dissertation anyway, so getting the rough protype up and running now would be helpful.

Still, I do want to finish building the “foundation” of the work and I can worry about demoing stuff later, so tomorrow I hope to have a spare few hours in the evening to finish some of that foundation building and I still need to find time to put the slides together, so tomorrow is going to be a long day, but I’m nearly there with the basics. Or at least the basic, basics, there’s still some other things I can check off to make a good case, and I’ll be trying to do that as well, but I do want to balance the foundation stuff and the “flashy” stuff because the flashy stuff is where we demonstrate usefulness and really that’s the main outcome for this project, in my opinion anyway.

So with that, I’ve still got some work to get done, some slides to start, and I hope to find time to sleep eventually. One day maybe. If all else fails, I could just hibernate after I graduate for a few months to make up for the lack of sleep. Kidding, but there really is a lot of work so I wouldn’t be surprised if I miss another day or two of the blogging goal. The project (or rather my goal) is off to a rough year four, but you don’t lose all the progress by missing one day.

The third deadline is Monday by the way, so not a lot of time. Then the DARPA deadline for my poster and slides is just a few days after that. I did say it was going to be a busy year, right? So just a friendly heads up if I don’t make a post one day, know that I’m probably trading in that hour or so of writing for some sleep instead.


2 responses

  1. When you talk about a demo with “real-time decoding” do you mean actually having a person hooked up and a program drawing some conclusions from the data as it comes in, or do you just mean some kind of dynamic way of presenting your pre-recorded data?

    Wait, what’s the Monday deadline? You’ve mentioned Surgeon PI before, and I assume the fourth deadline is DARPA, but I don’t know if you’ve talked about the third deadline yet.

    Yes, get your sleep, even if it means letting the blog lapse. When life is too full, you just have to start mercilessly dropping any balls that don’t really need to be in the air. You can pick them up again later.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 20, 2022 at 1:29 am

    • Yep! We’re doing actual real-time predicting with a person strapped into the system. We’ve done it before with controlling start/stop in exoskeletons for example, but it’s a lot of work and it takes a person a lot of practice with the system to get it to respond via thought. It’s risky, but the effect is impressive at least.

      So in order:
      Friday – surgeon-PI presentation
      Monday – DARPA meeting (with the person who nominated me to go over my poster/slides for the conference)
      Following Friday – DARPA poster/slides deadline.

      Technically the slides are for if I get selected for a talk, a longshot with all the talent there, but I need to have them submitted in case. Either way the poster and slides have not been started yet, so that needs to happen soon!!

      Very true, I just wanted to warn people! I don’t feel any pressure to write, but I do enjoy it more than I thought I would when I started.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 20, 2022 at 12:23 pm

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