Tag Archives: Awesomeness

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Blog Catchup

I think the chances of me actually catching up with past events in proper detail so I’ll just make a short (ish) summary of events from the new year post ’til now so I can get to the good bit. Almost everyone I know already knows it though. Makes it seem kind of pointless in a way…..

Anyway! After the awesome new year celebrations, I was up working with Steve doing my usual server configuration and other bits and pieces. One of the schools was to have a new IT room with the usual complement of 30 PCs and one projector/smart board combination, but the electricians were unable to finish on time, so we were left with not much to do there and had to leave it until a later date. Following that, there was a visit from Martin (alone, initially) and eventually Sarah as well. Always good to spend time with them, even if we did seem to spend a rather large amount of time walking around… We were showing Wolfgang, one of Sarah’s friends, the delights of Manchester. Among these was a space invader that Sarah hadn’t managed to get a good picture of in the past. I had my trusty new phone to hand to catch the moment, and here is the invader in all his (?) glory:


After saying my (internally) tearful goodbyes to Sarah, Martin and Wolfgang and getting absolutely DRENCHED….. TWICE…. I found myself in Blackpool for Kirtika (aka Kitu) birthday celebration as well as a celebration of Lodi. Lots of nice food was on hand and I ended up staying for a couple of days to help out with homework etc. I found myself re-living the experience of teaching Anu fractions, decimals and percentages all those years ago. It was kind of enjoyable but also a bit trying – it’s probably the first time I have made Kitu (and Piku) sit and study and have to fend off their attempts at wriggling out of it. In all honesty, they probably took a lot longer to do the work than they should have and there was far to much giggling (from them) for it a proper study session like the ones I was subjected to. Anyway, I think that they still like me and that they actually learned something new. Not only that, I think that they, Kitu at the very least, were HAPPY that they had learned how to do these things. I felt really very good about myself for a change :) I also got to spend some time around their new (ish) baby brother, Krish. He still cried whenever I went near him, but at least the amount of time it took to happen seemed to be getting longer! There are some pics from the Blackpool happenings here:


I would have stayed longer, but I had to get back to Manchester to get a job application in on time. A few days after that, I got an email saying that I would have an interview (at Leeds university) in just under a weeks time. In the mean time, I had to put that out of my mind since I was preparing for a visit from AK followed by a fancy dress SingStar party at her place…. Oh yes. So I managed to get hold of some slightly tattered blue jeans, a white t-shirt, a leather jacket and some HUUUUGE and hideous sunglasses to go as George Michael. I didn’t manage to get hold of any crucifix ear rings, but I went without shaving for a good few days before the event to make up for it. The party itself was good – SingStar is never bad – there was even sushi to be had…. how cool is that? I managed to pollute/corrupt/subvert many of the people there with White Russian, which was kind of funny. I don’t have any pictures of the party – I was too busy singing to be all trigger happy with my phone – but I will try and get hold of some and get them online.

A couple of days later (23rd of Jan) I was on my way to Leeds for my interview. Not only was this interesting because of the possibility of getting a “real” job, but also because I would be hopefully meeting up with Mitch. Anyway, the interview went quite well… a few tricky questions, but that was to be expected really, but on the whole I felt reasonably happy with the way it had gone. It was a bit odd having lunch with the other people applying for the job, but it was certainly an interesting experience. Anyway… after around 5 hours and 2/3 interviews I was free to relax with Mitch. While we were in the student’s union playing pool (me not sticking out in my suit at all), I got a call offering me the job! So I am now officialy going to Leeds to become “Grid Support Officer” for the NGS service and White Rose Grid. Exciting and kind of scary all at the same time. In case you are wondering exactly what that will entail, you can get a look at the job description here.

Now, I’m in the process of trying to sort out all of the details of moving (bills, new place to stay etc.) and to finish off my thesis. Neither is happening at a rate that is to my satisfaction. Possibly the only plus side to all of this is that it has made me actually start organising my in a more efficient way – I’m using Google Calendar to map out when things should be happening in order to make sure I get as moved as possible to Leeds before I start on the 1st of March. They wanted me to start on the 1st of Feb, but that was just not enough time for me to get myself sorted out…. The extra month might not be enough either! The weeks since finding out and the coming weeks seemed to have filled themselves with events and house hunting stuff to such an extent that the thesis is taking more of a back seat than I would have liked. Although it’s all very stressful, it is exciting. Getting it all down in blog form makes it all seem a bit more… something, not sure what.

At least I’m mostly caught up now. :)

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Happy New Year!

Happy new year!!!!

I know, I know… it’s more than a little bit late, even more so than my Xmas blog. I have been busy with various bits and pieces around the country, I’ll get to in a bit. First though, I am basically going to go on and on about how awesome the Nintendo Wii is.

I was in Blackpool for new year, where the main room of fun had not only a very well stocked bar (lots of white russians for me – yay!) but TWO tellies. One of them was hooked up almost permanently to my PS2 and all of its SingStar goodness and the other was arranged for Vijay’s newly purchased Nintendo Wii. At one point, I was actually playing SingStar and Wii Tennis at the same time, which was a lot harder than I was expecting. The whole Wii experience (Wii Sports, Monkey Ball and Wii Play) was great. Within each game there were bits that didn’t work too well (like the unpredictable golf swings) but the stuff that worked worked amazingly well. Wii Tennis seemed to be one of the most enjoyable games, especially for 4 player hilarity. For some reason, even though you can play the game sitting down everyone would end up standing for it.

Despite the Internet (capital ‘I’, you’ll notice) being full of reports of Wii remotes flying through the air and causing damage to tellies, windows, furniture and people there was none of that apart from when we were a bit cramped and Palu swung his hand into a chair. The point is that not once did any of us drunken, excitable and generally wreckless people manage to even let go of the controllers mid swing, let alone send it flying through the air fast enough to get it lodged in someone’s brain.

Although the Wii experience was Wii-ly, Wii-ly good the whole of new year was made great by the people I was with. Nearly all of my cousins from my Dad’s side that live in England were there and it’s the first time we have all got together without any of the “old folk” around to get in the way and explain to us what they think a good time is. As well as that, there were the star attractions of Blackpool, Kitu and Piku. The whole thing was so much fun and even though we all had free reign and seemingly limitless supplies of alcohol, nobody got wasted and nobody did anything stupid. Probably most amazing was the fact that nothing got broken.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a tradition of sorts where we will all try and get together somewhere or other once a year at the very least. I can’t wait until the day comes where I get to try and organise such a gig… I have been learning how to cook some interesting new things and think I could even handle the vegetarian requirements and make some tasty bits and pieces. If not, I am sure that I’ll get by just making food for myself.

There aren’t any pictures I am going to make publicly available from new year. For some reason (and through persons unknown) all the pictures on my phone from new year are of people sleeping – and I didn’t take any of them. Anyway, such pictures are not usually very flattering so it’s wouldn’t be nice to post them without everyone’s permission. I do have some other snaps that I can put up, but I need to catch up with all the stuff I have missed out on posting so far.

I am sure that my millions of readers are holding their breath in anticipation of my amazing pictures and tales of adventure and intrigue…..

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New Phone! Graduation! Hangover Get!

Yay!

I have my new phone. It’s a very spangly Sony Ericsson k800i, designed with picture taking in mind. The camera is pretty good, but the whole thing is made so much better by it’s awesome flash – in a reasonably sized room it makes pictures taken in darkness come out as if lights were on. Awesome.

Like most camera phones, it’s not so great outdoors at night, even with it’s flash. Having said that there are some pictures to feast your eyes on that I took on Thursday when various people from the year above me were graduating with their PhDs. Clicking the following picture will take you to the web album.


The pictures show gowns, drinking and eating that all took place that day. What it doesn’t show you is the SingStar hilarity that ensued after – accompanied by home made Irn Bru WKDs.

Sarah and Martin were in town on Tuesday for her graduation as well, so muchos congrats to her as well. All these smug people with their fancy PhDs… you’d think it would be enough to spur me on to finish my own. Progress has slowed somewhat compared to previous weeks. Maybe the rest of this

This is the second weekend in a row that I am not galavanting around the country and getting frustrated by the train service. It also means that, other than the above, not much exciting has been going on. Hopefully the Xmas/New year fortnight or so will liven things up a bit.

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Another Long Weekend

Yay! Blog time.

This time, I am on my way somewhere rather than on my way back. The long weekend syndrome doesn’t seem to be fading at all. On the plus side, thesis work is progressing at a much more reasonable pace, so much so that I think I might even meet my own aim of getting all (might have to settle for most) of my writing done by the end of the year. First draft at the very least. Awesomeness. I am currently at 75 pages, which might not seem like such a huge leap, but it includes removing loads of bullet points and replacing them with (somewhat) coherent sentences, so I am feeling much happier about it. I have also managed to get some of the nastier diagrams out of the way and pasted in some screenshots so the whole thing is looking a lot nicer as well. Lots more screenshots to go in as well.

Currently, I am on my way to Loughborough to spend some time with Viney and Vijay as well as to help Palu build a shiny new PC. I will post some suitably gratuitous shots of PC “bits” laid bare after the event. Nice…..

Speaking of pics, I am now starting to use Google’s image hosting service, it’s a bit of a Flickr rip-off, but it gets the job done a bit more easily through Picasa – Picasa is Google’s image organisation/tweaking software, which, quite awesomely, is available for Linux. I got the idea after seeing someone else’s and realising that my Manchester HEP web space probably won’t last forever. In any case, you can see the first lot of pics at http://picasaweb.google.com/shivkaushal and I will be migrating all my existing pics and uploading more new ones in the near future.

I am currently mourning the loss of new South Park and Lost episodes from the ol‘ USA. I am quite unhappy that there won’t be any more of either until next February. Given that the lack of new shows seems to coincide with my sudden burst of productivity, it might not be such a bad thing. There are plenty of older episodes to keep me amused anyway… Must look up “Good Times With Weapons” some time soon.

That’s about all for now. Apart from not being paid over £400 by the University that I claimed for some time in September. It’s made worse by the fact that I am not really getting any money from anywhere since my studentship expired at the end of September (last payment was in July!). The rage starts to boil over from time to time, but I manage to calm myself down by thinking of flowers and puppies and other wonderful things…. yeah, sure. Seriously, not cool.

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Shiv Kaushal – Singstar Liason

Long time no blog then… It was good going for a while, I guess, but I am slipping back into my previous habits quite quickly. I have had many interesting things go on since last time, a lot of which I am sure I will forget to put down here but I am sure that the following summary will convince the reader beyond any doubt that the life of a PhD student is anything but taxing. The thing is, it should be taxing – if I was putting in a reasonable amount of work, I would be finished writing up by now.

First off, there is the awesome news that Nicki, who you can see getting married HERE, has had another bundle of screaming joy. Blaney George Phillips was born on the 3rd of November and both are doing well. Loads of congrats and love to Nicki and Marc!

So last the last few weekends have been filled with SingStar awesomeness. The weekend after Irina’s birthday/flat-warming, I was in Blackpool and got to introduce all the lovely people there to the phenomenon that is SingStar. I even got to play with Kitu and Piku (my amazingly fabulous nieces) and even had the sense to capture the moment in digital image and video form. There is a lot of that kind of stuff I have still to put up on my Picture Page, I will post again when I have it availble for hypertextual consumption. Not only was Kitu and Piku rocking the house amazing in itself, but I also had a new disc to enjoy – SingStar Legends. This brought the total number of songs at my disposal to 200 – killer.

That weekend also saw Birthday celebrations for my cousin, Amar, . The whole thing was lots of fun not only because of the large fireworks (it was on the 5th of November, after all) but also because I got to tend to a bonfire (awesome) and even saw Vijay dancing. There was also a guitar shaped birthday cake, which particularly struck a chord (groans all round) with me – more so for Amar, I guess.

After word got out that there was another SingStar disc to be had, Ella Fitzgerald and all, we were back at Irina’s the following weekend. It was an absolute belter of an evening. I was introduced to the amazingness of White Russians and loved them even without having seen “The Big Lebowski”. The huge selection of songs meant that we were singing away through the night and I got home after eight in the morning! The following couple of days were pretty messed up and unproductive for me but led nicely into Aradhna’s fencing match in Manchester last Wednesday.

Keele Vs. Manchester should, I suppose, give me some kind of moral dillemma as to which team I should be supporting but I found it quite easy to cheer on Keele without any guilt. I really am dead inside….. Unlinke the unhappy outcome of the same fixture last year, Keele won, much to the delight of the team captain (Aradhna). While I don’t fully understand what’s going on sometimes (sabre is just too weird) I do like watching the fencing. I especially love seeing Aradhna, aka AK, do her thing “on the piste”. There is such a slow, measured, calm and deliberate approach in her style that is actually quite menacing. I should probably never upset her ever again. Videos may follow soon.

This weekend was yet another SingStar flavoured one, but in Cambridge this time. Sarah’s workmate Laura was having a birthday party with the added twist of being a cocktail party with a formal dress code. I had also been asked to bring along my bag of SingStar tricks and I was happy to oblige. After several large White Russians – having watched The Big Lebowski earlier that day – the music started flowing. Watching men suited and booted and women in fancy dresses – in the good way, not like vampire costumes, but even those can be good at the right time and place – watching them all sing away was really an odd sight to behold. It made dragging the PS2 up and down the country (or down and up in this case) worth it. Went to Ikkyusan for sushi buffet again with Sarah and Vijay, before getting on the train back to Manchester and it was even better than last time. Spending time with Sarah and Martin was great, as ever and I look forward to seeing them again soon – probably on the 12th of December when Dr. Sarah is in Manchester for her graduation. Can’t wait.

Thesis has been crawling along, which is not surprising if you consider all of the singing I have been doing lately. I think I might have to crack and start putting in diagrams to pad it out. I did manage to find out how to put fancy fonts in through latex though and they are fancy. You can see an example here. Probably not the best use of my time, but I am thinking about starting every chapter off with something similar – there doesn’t seem to be anything in the guidelines against such fonts.

Somewhere in the blur of the past few weeks, I also got a letter from CCLRC saying that I was on the reserve list for the job I had applied for and then another one saying that they were unable to offer it to me. Lame. Not that I expected much from my first interview anyway. I guess that the outcome is better than I was expecting, but nobody likes rejection. According to Sarah, I already have an unofficial job – one that seems to appeal to me. The job title will make more sense if you have seen Van Wilder, but I am apparently now to be referred to as Shiv Kaushal – SingStar Liason. Sweeeet. There are plenty of worse things to be known for, that’s for sure.

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The Cliffhanger

Looks like the daily updates went down the pan…. The only real excuse I have is that I have actually been getting some writing (and other things) done so I haven’t felt the need to tell myself off in public quite so much.

I am now up to 59 pages, which is not a monumental increase since Monday, but the past few missed-blog days have seen me get to grips with my first figure, table and bibliograpy entry. So lots of new LaTeX strings to my bow as well as a page-count increase. Not too shabby. Now the trick is to see if I can continue the reasonable pace into the next week and beyond.

The tension, I am sure, is killing oh so many people (AK and VJ probably) so I will keep you (i.e. them) updated.

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Twenty Pages!

Horray for me! My thesis is now roughly twenty pages longer than it was this morning, which is pretty good going, in anyone’s book. Most of it came from using a sty file from Sarah that puts all of the formatting as it should be according to University regulations and also adds some empty (for now) pages for a glossary, acknowledgements and other things. There was some real work though – I added a few pages about the Firefox extension part of my work and it felt good to get some actual words down rather than just writing in bullet points of what I will write later.

I am currently on 52 pages (including the empty ones) without any diagrams or screenshots of the bits of software I have worked on, which is pretty reasonable considering the fact that there are a couple of chapters I haven’t even started on yet. I found a thesis in our group’s library that is less than 100 pages and mostly diagrams. Not sure if I should be concentrating on quantity rather than quality, but at this point any measure which makes me think I might have a chance of finishing this before Christmas is a good thing. Ideally I will be finished before December the 8th so I can treat myself to a Wii…. how cool that would be!