October 19th, 2003

MSc update

Since my last post, I've spoken to one of the partners at work. We've arranged that I'll stay there full-time until the end of January, then part-time until the end of May (4 days a week at work initially, gradually reducing it). Then from June-September I'll be full-time on my project. Hopefully I should be able to avoid overtime, as they've deliberately put me on in-house development, so there won't be any external deadlines from clients. I've also warned them that if I get to February, and it looks like I'm behind schedule, I may give in my month's notice rather than sticking around until May.

Meanwhile, I've been chatting to various people about this. Thanks to all who've commented on previous entries - I'm not adding one line "thank you" comments to each one unless I have something specific to say, but they are all appreciated. I think the main issue here is whether I'm still hoping to do a PhD afterwards, and whether that's still feasible. The related issue is that if I only need 50% to pass, and I can't get a distinction, then is it worth putting in loads of effort to get 90%, or should I have more modest aims? Basically, there are two options when it comes to choosing a project: Collapse )

Non-MSc update

Diverging from the one-track note of most of my recent post, a summary of what else I've been up to in the last month or so.

I finally heard back from the BCS, and I'm now an Associate Member; I wasn't good enough to make full Member, but that's still a promotion (from graduate member), with extra post-nominals (AMBCS).

The brain scan (fMRI) went well. Mind you, I'm not normally claustrophobic, but it took me a couple of minutes to get comfortable (i.e. relaxed) inside the tube. They played various sounds through my headphones (with varying levels of static obscuring them), and monitored which parts of my brain became active as I listened to them. They showed me some pictures afterwards - it's a bit like the visible human project, where they had cross-sections of my head on 3 different axes, and they were able to move down from the top of my skull to the top of my spine. "Here are your temporal lobes..." The researcher sent me a Powerpoint file with a few images, so I'll try to stick them on my website at some point.

I've been off to the cinema a couple of times. I went to see "Underworld" a few weeks ago, which I enjoyed. I'll probably watch it again at some point, although it's not something I'd want to own a copy of. It's entertaining, with some nifty ideas, although some of the characterisation is a bit iffy. Then I watched "Finding Nemo" this afternoon, which I also liked. I've noticed that Disney films are generally able to push my buttons (emotionally speaking) when it comes to themes about families. It's worth sticking around until the end of the credits on that one, as there are a couple of amusing things that appear.

I've been climbing a few times (after a gap of a month or so while I focussed on my project). I've had some trouble with my nerves, when it comes to letting go of the wall (in order to belay down). However, I think I'm getting the hang of it now, as I spent some time this week just focussing on that. So, rather than doing a regular climb, then getting stressed at the top of the wall, I went part-way up a wall, let go, and gradually increased the height. And I did a few deliberate falls, where the other person successfully held onto the rope, so I didn't plummet. So that's good.

I had another swimming lesson this morning. That went alright, although I'd benefit from doing more practice outside of lessons. The question is whether I need to do that, when compared to my other priorities.

And I've recently re-read the entire "Star Trek: New Frontier" series (by Peter David), ready for the release of 3 new novels this month (2 years after the cliffhanger from the previous novel). The two new novels by Peter David are great, although I've been less impressed by the new anthology (by other authors). There was an amusing dedication at the start of "Stone and Anvil": "To the brave crew and passengers of the Kobayashi Maru ... sucks to be you." That won't mean much unless you've seen Star Trek II. Suffice it to say that Captain Calhoun finds a way to beat the no-win scenario without cheating.