FAQ 2012-12-22


In Italy, “Andrea” is exclusively a male name, as you can read in the Wikipedia entry (which I wrote).

My name is pronounced like this: /anˈdrɛ a ˈtʃɛn si/    wav | ogg

Not that I care too much about pronunciation; to save time in explaning, I usually just say my name is “sensi”, and “Andy” is my Starbucks name.

Why does your screen look yellow?

It looks yellowish because because I use Flux, a program to remove the blue light component from your screen. Blue light inhibits the production of melatonine, which regulates sleep. This is the reason why sleep is disturbed after working late nights in front of a screen.

Why does your shell look so colorful?

Because I use ZSH with oh-my-zsh.

What do you use for creating this site?

Wordpress on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

What is your favorite robot?

Fictional or non-fictional?

In the fictional category, I would put:

It worked for an estimated 800 years while self-repairing... enough said.
It was the real hero of the trilogy! Here's a picture of me and a Lego R2-D2 at Legoland in Billund, Denmark.
R. Daneel Olivaw
He saved the galaxy a couple of times...

In the non-fictional category:

Romeo and Juliet in the Ferrari factory
Romeo and Juliet are two manipulators in the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy, which are used to build some of the smaller parts for Ferrari engines. See this video at around 1:30 for a glimpse. (Unfortunately the whole documentary is not available online.) It just doesn't get better than this.
Kiva's robots
Not the smartest robots to go around, but they are one of the success stories of robotics in the last decades.
The Roomba and the Mint
The first consumer-oriented autonomous robots!

Why is your computer named "grace"?

Because of Grace Hopper. (In Italian, nouns have gender and "machine" is feminine.)

What program do you use for ...?

See a "Tools of the Trade" list that I made some time ago.

What program did you use for making figures and diagrams in your thesis?

I am not completely satisfied about the toolchain I use.

For block diagrams I use mainly Keynote (marginally better than Powerpoint), which exports very nice PDF (copy in Keynote, paste in Preview, save pdf). I put math inside keynote using LatexIt. Before I used xfig... not worth it anymore.

I have tried many TeX packages and wouldn't recommend any. Use only if you have to generate many figures procedurally. For one or two figures, manual creation using Keynote/Powerpoint is more convienient.

To assemble simple multi-panel figures in papers, I still use Keynote.

When things get though, Illustrator is the way to go. Worth learning the basics especially when journals get picky about formats.

How is life at Caltech?

Refer to The Ph.D. Movie.

How do I get into Caltech?

Black helicopters come to your house and kidnap you. You wake up 48 hours later in Pasadena, with a foreign roommate and late homework due.

For an alternative method, see the grad school admission advice by Matt Might.

How do I get into MIT?

I'm the wrong person to ask — my grad school application to MIT was rejected.