Abram Hindle's Blog

Software is Hard

They Gave Me Tenure. Or You're Stuck With Me Now.

July 1, 2017 was the day that the University of Alberta awarded me Tenure. Thus I was promoted to Associate Professor. You’re stuck with me now. Or I’m stuck with you.

I thought tenure would solve all of life’s problems such as caring about publications. No, it did not. I still care about publications because I am attached to the success of my students. Publications at top tier venues are effectively king-makers for students. They can make or break a career. Thus tenure did not reduce my attachment to publications, mostly it re-informed me about a reason why some of these publications are very important: they present my students to the research world and can affect their job prospects.

This attachment to students means I still feel pain even if some of the publication attachment has been diminished.

More importantly my sabbatical has started. I have learned a few things so far in the first 3 months:

  • Drop as much responsibility as you can. Really do it. Reviews, committees, obligations. Use your strength to say no, to say no or put it off till you are back.
  • Travel as early as possible. I made the mistake of not travelling immediately when I started and it just got me into a bunch of service that I didn’t need or want.
  • Plan for sabbatical 1 year a head of time at the latest. And read the fine print. If you’re applying for a scholarship be sure you can apply while still an assistant professor.

It’s not all bad. Ahmed Hassan of the SAIL lab invited me to come to Kingston to work with his students. We’re collaborating on some interesting software energy consumption topics regarding the app store.

Kingston is a nice city to visit if you live near the downtown. The downtown is actually useful, it has hardware stores, computer stores, actual grocery stores, office supplies, banks, video stores (still), an excellent independent cinema (The Screening Room), walk in-clinic, gym, pool, library, hospital, lots of restaurants, and most importantly Ahmed’s lab! So it’s very convienant if you’re close to the downtown. Not a lot of small towns of 125-160k people have a coherent and useful downtown, many focus too much on high fashion and stores you’d find in a mall. Alteranatively some downtowns are just waste lands of ever-failing small businesses. Kingston’s downtown is coherent and not just a mall slammed into mainstreet. So for a few months it is definitely pleasent.

For experimental music Kingston has Queen’s University which has a nice music department and in the late fall they also have Tone Deaf (@tonedeafyg) which is an experimental music festival. Kingston is pretty arty with a variety of arts civic groups as well as Arts at QueensU. To the south west of QueensU is the beautiful Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts which often hosts more of the academic faire. It is obvious that the citizens of Kingston and QueensU try very hard to keep arts and arts discourse relevant and prominent in Kingston, especially since their youth can escape to the deceptively greener pastures of Toronto or Montreal on a 2.5 hr bus at any time.

I have other sabbatical plans and my time at Kingston will soon end.