Serious Tech Frustrations on the Captioning Research Path

First Fun: Windows on VMware

For the past ninety minutes, I have had some serious technology frustrations. First, when I try to grab some software to use on my VMware (running on my Mac), it says that almost all 60 gigs of the memory are taken up.

Taken up with what? Considering I’ve used the VM, oh, 10 times, I have not brought in SIXTY GIGS OF FILES. So, yeah, pretty much any thoughts I was having about the convenience of working with VMware on my Mac are now dying a quick death. Why?

I don’t want to waste time, and this has been irritating.

So I used WinDirStat from and found that nearly 27 Gig was being up by Windows 7. That seemed a bit nuts. Another 20 Gig eaten up by Dropbox—even though I was pretty sure I had removed DropBox.

And then I discovered that I could reconfigure the virtual disk—so I’m doing that—and adding about 240 more Gig of memory. Sure hope that works. Fortunately, the iMac has 1T of drive.

Second Fun: 2009 HP Laptop 

In order to work with some video decryption for caption analysis, I thought I could break out my HP—the laptop that served me during my dissertation years. Well, I should have known better.

First, it crashed with blue screens I could not read in time—twice. Then there were multiple window uploads. Then there were failures to connect to the internet. Then there’s the reality of working with a 3GB processor machine when I’m used to 8 or 32… I feel your pity. So any errors it makes are slow in the happening.

Third Fun: Working with DVD decryption

In the midst of all this, I’m attempting to understand the DVD decryption process so that I can grab the captions and run analyses on the content. All of this work that I have been doing has been about one basic problem: making sure a machine is capable of downloading and handling the decryption software. Thus far, it has not happened.

It’s incredibly difficult to explain the irony, and frustration, that comes from having multiple machines—machines with different OS’s and from different periods—and yet I can’t seem to get from point A to B.

Oh, yes, and in the midst of all this, I’ve kind of lost track of why I was doing all this work: to access and write about captions. But now, now it just feels entirely and incredibly frustrating with the tech.

The rich irony is that this process should be nearly dead simple. But it’s not—not for me at least.


So I’m stepping away, going to go exercise, and then I’m going to write and read about captions. I’m done messing about with the hardware, software, and downloads. After over two hours of mucking about, I’m done.

Recovering from the PhD

A year or two ago, a colleague I adore and respect were chatting. At one point she expressed interest in how I have adapted to life post-PhD. I've been thinking about that question for a while. Over a year, actually. I don't know how well I have adapted. I used to think I was fully adapted. Wrong. Then I think I have not assimilated at all. Wrong. This is probably something that you can never tell until you are years out from the process. Right now, if I was an egg, I'd be soft boiled. 

In January, 2009, I started my online PhD process. Eight months later I was in Lubbock taking classes full time. December, 2011, I received my PhD. Fast, intense. As I prepared to graduate, I thought it would be easy to stay at 80% of that work pace when I went into Academia.

Wrong. Totally wrong. Oh so frigging wrong. The pace that I created has stuck with me. That is a metric by which I judge my success. And, frankly, that stinks.

Even though it's been nearly three years since I received my degree, I am still not working at that pace, that rate, that insane mind grind I once had. I used to feel like an idiot because I was not at that pace. Three years of that pace set it as a standard, a norm, in my emotional sense of self. When I am not consciously alert to a sense of timing, I find that my TTU-work rate settles in as my default expectation. I did it for three years, so why not now? Obviously I am lazy, slacking, if I can't do that now. If that was not enough, then in my delusional moments I would generate self-disparaging dialogue and inserting my self-doubt-shit-talk into the voices of my former faculty. While it was relatively easy to silence myself, putting doubts into the images of people I respected was harder to fight. I still fight it, but not as often.

What is professional identity? I hate to think it is material-based: publications, positions, grants. But that does seem to be the core. That's akin to judging our friends on the stuff that they own: what type of house, car, shoes they have. While I respect and understand the importance of evidence-driven evaluation, it seems pretty harmful to us if we evaluate or base our sense of professional identity upon material goals alone. <This is so sadly similar to K-12 high stakes testing...>

I can still make a long bullet-point list of all the things that I have not done. I am more than aware of most of my errors--and that includes my hubris and self-centeredness. That list gets longer every day, every week. If I have moments of weakness and want to pull at emotional scabs because--just because that's what we with self-doubt often do--I can center my highly trained skills of obsession, analysis, and reflection on just how sucky things could or might be. Doubt. Questioning. Core parts of identity building or self-bullying.

These are just some of the costs I have paid in shifting from a doctoral program to faculty. On the PhD range, there are some fences and some dogs and herders to keep you on the range and, in most cases, away from the wolves. On the faculty range, there are far fewer of these--in fact, the freedom from them is what makes tenure track so incredible. However, it is incredibly easy to wander off, to fall into a niche of distraction, to stray away from your initial goals, or to invest time in things that don't require it. However, the worst thing seems to be just wondering about it.

I used to think that I could intelligently discuss recovery from the PhD process. Two years out I know that I don't have much of a clue.

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