John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

MSc update, T-shirt

Well, another week, another update. Now that the MSc project results have been finalised, I think that transcripts have been sent out to students; I certainly know that someone in India has received one. Unfortunately, there's been no sign of mine, so I assume it's stuck in a sorting office somewhere, due to the postal strike. So, I emailed the department (specifically, the postgrad secretary) on Monday, asking for some more details. At the moment, I know that I failed the project, but I'd like to know whether I was closer to 0% or 49%. Also, the assessment was divided up into 7 categories, so I'd be interested to see how I got on at each stage, so that I know which areas need the most work during the retake.

Nick (the postgrad secretary) replied, and said that I should come into college to discuss it with either my personal tutor (Costas) or Colin Cooper (the exam board chairman). Incidentally, Colin taught me in my Randomised Algorithms module last year (only 3 of us in the class), so I figured that would bode well. I replied to Nick, saying that since Costas is off on sabbatical for the next 3-4 months:
a) Can I have a new personal tutor please? (No reply to that)
b) I'll get in touch with Colin

So, I emailed Colin, but there's been no reply from him yet. That was on Monday, so by today I figured that I should try again. This time, I emailed Shalom (my project supervisor), on the basis that he was probably the person who marked my project (or at least one of the people), so he should have a rough idea of how I got on. He replied, saying that I need to talk to Colin Cooper about that, and cc-ed him on the email. Ah well. On the plus side, Shalom sounded fairly friendly in the email. I had been a bit concerned that he'd be annoyed with me for wasting his time as a bad student. I don't think it would be a good idea to ask him to supervise me again this year, but I'm glad that I don't have to avoid him around the department.

So, back to waiting now, either for snail-mail or email, whichever arrives first.

On a related issue, I had a call from some other people at Kings on Tuesday, saying that I needed to come in and sign some extra registration forms. That would mean taking time off work, but I can do that if necessary, so I wrote down all their opening hours on different days. Just as I was about to hang up, they then said "Or we could fax the forms to you, if you have a fax machine there?" Yes, that would make my life significantly easier, thank you! I can't really complain, since they saved me a trip, but I wish they'd mentioned that sooner.

This week, I've read "The essence of computing projects - a student's guide", which I found very helpful. Well, to be more accurate, it recommends doing a lot of things that I didn't do, so given that I failed, I think it's worth following the book's advice this time around. But I'll wait until this year's project is over before I write a ringing endorsement in an Amazon review. The author seems particularly keen on planning things in advance, and suggested using Microsoft Project, so I've ordered a copy of that today (I get it cheap through the BCS, only 99 quid +VAT, rather than 399+VAT). They said that would arrive in a couple of weeks, so I'll have time to learn how to use that before I actually start planning the project.

I've now started "Spinning the Semantic Web". I haven't got very far so far, but I think it's useful to read a book like this as a general overview, before I move on to more specific papers. What I'll be looking for in particular are any comments along the lines of "This is an area that needs more work, and would make a good MSc project". Apparently Tim Berners-Lee said that to various universities when he was trying to get people to write the first web browsers, and the project book recommends this as a technique.

One general survey question about writing my project report. What sort of level should I be pitching it at? I.e. should it be a layman's guide, for someone who knows nothing about the area, or should I assume a basic familiarity with the field?

In other news, I had to talk to UPS today, about some import duties on a ThinkGeek delivery. Based on the shipping note, I'd ordered what was probably the most expensive T-shirt in the world: $1,499.00! I explained that the decimal point was in the wrong place, and that it was supposed to say $14.99...
Tags: bcs, postgrad

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