Almost two years ago, I posted on Google+ that I'd purchased an Amazon Echo. In that post, I wrote: It's surprisingly cool. But the best part is what it makes me want, because it also sucks. It can't recognize my 2.6 y/o daughter's voice, for example -- even though she can say to it fairly clearly "Alexa, play Puff the Magic Dragon" (it will, if I ask it). What an awesome enabler for kids, if it worked. A little dangerous, too, but hey. :-) It can't turn my remote-enabled lights on or off for me. It can't even send me an email to remind me about something. Boo.But - these are all current limitations. Its speech recognition, albeit within a slightly narrow domain, is really solid. It's happy with me, it's happy with my wife, and it's happy listening to us with the microwave running and a toddler running around. The convenience is awesome. I suddenly want to control more of my life by talking to it. But I can't. Yet.It'…
I was just indulging in my favorite bad habit (reading hacker news), when I came across a discussion about prestige in faculty hiring - namely, the fact that the majority of CS professors across the US come from the top 18 or so universities, and that even within that, there's bias. The HN discussion turned to Ph.D. admissions, with a commenter noting:
"I'm not sure, but I'd bet that the best institutions actually don't care where their applicants come from. They can afford to just choose the best. It's the so-so places that have to signal their quality by 'hiring the best'. I've seen this in graduate school applications - students with poor marks often stand a better chance of admittance in a top program than a so-so one."
I just finished chairing the CMU CS Ph.D. admissions committee, so I thought it might be worth writing down my experience in doing so. With two very important notes:
I woke up on May 28th, 2014, on vacation with my family in the middle of the desert, to find a copy of my private source code plastered across the bitcointalk message board. Announced as a "new optimized version" of the Monero currency miner, it was enthusiastically adopted by cryptocurrency miners across the world. And in the process of doing so, my daily profit from the Monero Mining Project dropped by over five thousand dollars per day.
But let's start at the beginning, when I started getting in to a loose collaboration with three people I've never met---one whose name I'm not even confident I really know---with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of a nebulous new cryptocurrency at stake.
It started with a cryptic note from someone I'd met online, with a link to a bitcointalk.org message board discussion for a new currency called "bitmonero". His note said only: