Tag Archives: research

Speaking at Brussels JUG: User Experience for Business Process Applications

I’m glad to inform that I will speak at the next Brussels JUG‘s event about user experience thinking and design for business process applications. The event will take place at Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Building Hermes, on Thursday, 30th of May, at 6:30 pm. Visit Brussels JUG website for more information: http://www.brussels-jug.be.

You won’t find a lot of information about this subject on this blog, but I have been doing research about it in parallel since 2006, in collaboration with Kênia Sousa, who would be happy to share the stage, but she had to decline due to family duties. You may find more information on the page Publications of this blog.

If you were assigned to design and implement a business process based application, You may find this session interesting. User interface design is the most time consuming task in a software development process. It is highly subjective and under heavy criticism by end-users. This presentation will help you better deal with this problem, exploring strategies to represent business processes in a way that end-users can easily understand what they see based on their business knowledge. We will discuss about a different approach for Business-IT traceability based on UX, an architecture and a methodology to support constant process changes, navigation approaches and the right widgets for the right actions.

See you there!

My Last Day in The Lab

In November 15th this year, Matt Welsh, a young and successful tenured professor at Harvard, decided to leave his prestigious academic position to work full time for the industry. He is now a Google employee and he claims that he has more freedom and computational power than ever to make real and substantial contributions for the computer world.

I fully understand Matt, besides not having his prestigious position neither his brilliant mind. We both love our respective universities, keeping a profound admiration for what they represent for the society. However, we both also agree that sometimes our way of thinking and acting don’t fit the way the traditional research world is moved. We love freedom of thinking with a minimal influence of external factors, but we also get upset when things happen too slow because we have a lot of formalities to deal with before having our work appropriately recognized.

Normal working day at the lab registered by Koen Cobbaert

After all, my experience of doing PhD at UCL was amazing and I do recommend it for those who ask me for an advice about the academic world. In this world I’ve learned how to solve really tough problems and to practice my favorite sports: writing and coding. It was a journey of 4 years extracting the maximum of creativity, patience and emotional control. When I finished, I had a feeling that everything else is easier and I lost the fear of facing new challenges. In summary, life gets more exciting.

After this remarkable academic period, I feel the need of changing in my heart. As my adviser said once:

“we are fundamentally educators and in order to spread knowledge people should come and go elsewhere to make useful things with their privileged knowledge”.

I do agree with his statement and that’s one of the reasons I’m leaving the lab today. Because I believe it’s time to leave my sit available for another brave student who is looking for this wonderful life experience. And I should follow my path, doing what I love to do, which is work as a Java Architect in the corporate world.

Preparing Ubuntu to Write Latex Documents

That’s a self-reference post that might be useful for you too. I just installed Ubuntu in a new laptop and I was surprised by how easy is to install a Latex editor and the packages needed to compile and render documents. As a Texmaker user, I’m going to explain the installation using this editor.

On Ubuntu 10.04 or higher, go to Applications – Ubuntu Software Center. Type “Texmaker” in the search field on the top right. Texmaker will appear in the list, then you can click on “Info” to get more information about it, as shown in the figure below.

Press “Install” and have Texmaker and its dependencies installed on your Ubuntu system. TeX Live is the Latex system installed. Notice that you don’t have to do anything to install TeX Live, it will just come together with Texmaker. The installation process will take some time because TeX Live is a big package and you will probably need a good internet connection.

Unfortunately, just a basic version of TeX Live is installed and you will probably have problems trying to write some little advanced texts. To handle that, I suggest the installation of additional texlive packages, which are:

  • texlive-bibtex-extra
  • texlive-fonts-extra
  • texlive-fonts-recommended
  • texlive-math-extra
  • texlive-science

Go to System – Administration – Synaptic Package Manager. Use the search box to find the packages above and check them for installation. That’s all you have to do to start writing high quality documents.

I Don’t Wanna Work Alone !!!

If I remember well, the last time I have worked in a consistent and competent team was in 2008, in a workshop in Paris, France. That workshop produced incredible results afterwards that helped me a lot to conclude my PhD successfully. After that, I have been working alone or in pairs, but never in a real team.

God knows how hard I have tried to set up a real team in the last few years. Actually, I couldn’t do that as a simple student because I was too much low in the hierarchy, but I kept the faith that it would be possible for small achievements such as integrating software modules or co-authorship in scientific papers. Unfortunately, it didn’t work either.

The only format that worked really well was in pair. Of course it demanded twice more dedication, but the results were impressive. Look at what happened with the Usi4Biz project. Working together with Kênia, we could do nice complementary work defining (She) and developing (Me) a framework to link business processes with user interfaces. Her part became her PhD thesis and a chapter of mine and I have accumulated a lot of expertise in model-based and distributed development besides publishing several papers together. The idea was also internationally recognized by IBM and resulted in many international collaborations.

I don’t complain about working alone because it was part of the game since the beginning. Every graduated person knows how much of solitary work a good research would demand. We have to get protected from plagiarism sometimes when ideas are not published yet. However, I would say that lots of possibilities are missed when people do not work together sometimes. Research results will be delivered, but there will always be a feeling of doing less than what is actually possible to do. You know, maximizing the thing.

Now that I have finished my PhD, which is an awesome milestone, it’s time for changes. I guess the wish to work in a team and stop being a student are heavily influencing my decisions towards “maximizing things” 😉

Blind Review of Scientific Papers

Some time ago, I wrote a post about how to write scientific papers. This post is not quite famous like other technical ones, but it might help those who are starting in the research world. I’m revisiting this topic again by explaining how to prepare a blind copy of a paper for reviewing.

But what is a blind copy and why is it necessary? A blind copy is a version of an article that doesn’t show the authors and any other reference for them. Their names and affiliations should be removed from the front page as well as sentences mentioning previous works rephrased and self references hidden. All this caution is necessary to ensure honesty in the reviewing process, or at least maximize it. A well known researcher might influence the reviewers, who will be inclined to accept the manuscript not because of the overall quality of the work, but because of the author’s influence. Other reviewers might be inclined to reject the paper because they might be direct competitors. And sometimes we write such bad papers that it’s better that nobody knows who did that shit.

By hiding paper’s authorship when submitting the paper for review, authors, editors and program committee members are contributing for a more reliable reviewing process, directing the focus to real research instead of other influences.

How do we know if we have to send a blind copy? It is usually required in the call for papers. I would suggest to always give preference to conferences, journals, magazines and books which adopt blind reviewing. It is good for our research because people will be more honest with us.