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"War is much more fun when you're winning!" (General Martok, DS9)… - John C. Kirk

Sep. 2nd, 2003

12:28 am

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"War is much more fun when you're winning!" (General Martok, DS9)

Looking back on this project, it hasn't gone as smoothly as I'd originally planned. And, much as I'd like to make excuses for that, it is my own fault. I was lucky to get a 2nd chance to prove myself, after screwing up my undergrad degree, and to some extent I've squandered it. I'm pulling things together now, and I hope that I can get things sorted out before the deadline - it's going to be close. But however it turns out (good or bad), it won't be as good as it could have been, if I'd been working this hard all the way along.

I think there is an optimum level of difficulty that suits me. At my old job (soon to be my new job), I could almost write the applications in my sleep, so I got bored. With this project, I've spent a lot of time floundering, because I didn't really know what I was supposed to do. I'm finally in the position that I can actually produce stuff, and I can feel the change - it's a lot easier to motivate myself. I think that's one reason I got distracted earlier in the summer - if it was a choice between going for a run and working on the project, I'd go for the run, since it was simple. Not easy, but I knew what I had to do.

Looking further ahead, some people have suggested that I should go to work for a research company as an alternative to a PhD. I'm now giving that much more serious thought, at least as an interim step. With this project, I've basically been left to my own devices - the supervisor asked me to come up with an idea for the project (which he approved), then pointed me at the relevant journals etc., and left me to get on with it. I assume that the same thing would apply in a PhD; I would be there to ease the supervisor's workload, not add to it. I don't know how it would work in a company - maybe it would be the same. But what I'd like is a more junior position, just for a little while, where someone else can tell me what to do until I get the hang of it.

Oh well, see what happens, I guess.

Comments:

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From:rileen
Date:September 2nd, 2003 10:33 am (UTC)

All the best .......

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Good luck for these last few days. Have you shown a draft to your supervisor?

I showed mine to Costas without figures(a royal pain in Latex) & tables today, he said it looks rather dry :-)

So am adding in examples along with figures & tables, hope to be done by tomorrow, and print on thursday, if possible.
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From:johnckirk
Date:September 2nd, 2003 10:36 am (UTC)

Re: All the best .......

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Thanks. I haven't sent in a draft yet, but I'm hoping to do that (late) tonight, so that Shalom can look at it tomorrow morning. It may not be finished, but at least it will be something. Mine's still all in Word - I'll convert it over to LaTeX at the end.
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From:rileen
Date:September 2nd, 2003 01:30 pm (UTC)
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So have you found a suitable tool for the conversion, or are you still offering £100 :-) ? A lot of people seem to be having trouble with producing certain symbols using Word.
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From:johnckirk
Date:September 2nd, 2003 01:37 pm (UTC)
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I haven't come across any automated conversion tools, so I'll basically be doing copy/paste into "WinShell for TeX", then manually inserting the commands like "\section" etc. However, if I find that I'm running low on time, I may still hire minions to help out :)

I haven't had any trouble with symbols in Word, although I've had to use the Symbol/Wingdings fonts a couple of times. Then again, I'm not being too picky, since I know it will wind up in LaTeX, so as long as it's recognisable that's good enough for now.

I very much doubt that I'll get my report printed on Thursday - it's more likely that I'll be turning up in the department office about 30 minutes before the deadline with the pages still warm...

Incidentally, are you putting your bibliography before or after the source code appendix?
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From:rileen
Date:September 2nd, 2003 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Incidentally, are you putting your bibliography before or after the source code appendix?

Before - the source code is the last thing in the report, practically not part of the report !! Btw, do try to make your report as good as possible - it apparently is more important than the code for most projects.
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From:sammoore
Date:September 2nd, 2003 10:55 am (UTC)

Zones

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Have you heard of Comfort, Adventure and Disaster Zones?
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From:johnckirk
Date:September 2nd, 2003 11:24 am (UTC)

Re: Zones

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Doesn't ring a bell, but it sounds like the right idea. Bored vs challenged vs Rincewind ("ohshitohshitohshit I'm going to die...") :)
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From:sammoore
Date:September 2nd, 2003 11:39 am (UTC)

Re: Zones

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A series of concentric circles. Inside the middle one is your comfort zone, no risk but no learning. The next is your adventure zone, increasing risk as you move away from the centre increasing your stress level and with it increasing learning. Beyond the next line you move into the Disaster Zone. At this point you are so stressed that you cannot function well and do not learn anything, disaster is inevitable.

This is all Outdoor Activity theory (a surprisingly developed field) but it can clearly apply to other fields to. We try to move as far inside the Adventure zone without crossing into the disaster zone.
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