Tag Archives: Thesis

Friends

Back in blog

So, not as soon after the last posting as I would have liked but it’s better that the year or so break I took, right?

In true blogtacular tradition of days gone by, I’m writing this on a train coming back from an outing with someone(s) awesome(s?). I was over in Manchester visiting Sarah and Martin. Various circumstances have conspired to ensure that this is the first time we’ve met up since before Xmas. As a result, there was the inevitable exchange of gifts, which is often a cause for anxiety for me… I’m never sure that I’ve bought someone the right thing and there’s always the dread of your gift being totally outshone by the gift that has been got for you, showing you up as totally not understanding the other person as well as they do you.

In the end all was well; I was hella-happy with what I got. There’s a guitar tab book filled with the greatest hits of guitar hero. Finally I’ll be able to look down on people who love the game and say “play a real guitar” and show them how. Surely learning the whole book of songs won’t take me long. The other thing is a weird tower building game where you have to pile up hedgehogs.

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Family Friends Games Work

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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:(

Another weekend, another train journey and yet another blog post. Despite my rather upbeat post I wrote when on my way to Loughborough, things took a turn for the worse when I got there. I was supposed to be meeting Vijay and Viney at the train station but after turning up at 8.30 in the evening, I found out that they were still in Basingstoke. In the end, I had to “amuse myself” for the couple of hours it would take for them to get there… I managed to find a pub where I could sit and read through some thesis stuff and have a quiet drink. By the time that Viney and Vijay turned up, I was 6 double vodka-lemonades worse off and enthusiastically helping a random couple I had met with their pub quiz answers. Things were looking up. The Chinese food we got from “Mr. Chan’s” was awesome, followed by “Click” starring Adam Sandler – all was looking well.

The following morning (Friday), having had about three hours sleep, me and Vijay made our way to the nearest McDonalds for some breakfast – I know, I know… I just LOVE their breakfasts, especially the hash browns. Awesome… Or so I thought. Having stupidly put my phone on the table we were eating at, I got up for less a really short time to talk to Vijay and came back to a table that was one Samsung D500 lighter. LAME. It’s not too bad though. I am past the 12 month point of my contract and was looking for a new phone, especially since mine was a bit broken. I had also just gone through the process of transferring all of the pictures/videos on it to my PC. The only real major problem with this is the hassle of being without a phone for a weekend and however long it takes me to choose a new one.

From then on, there were jokes aplenty forthcoming from Vijay and Co. about what the time was (I use my phone as my watch/alarm clock) and why I wasn’t answering their phone calls. I did manage to salvage some enjoyment from the weekend though. That evening, we were at Palu’s place, where I was helping him build his amazingly powerful new computer. After getting it up and running, we installed the OS and then started on testing out his shiny new graphics card with the best thing for it – games. The end result was that, apart from Viney, we all stayed up the whole night.

The next morning (Saturday) Palu had to go off to work and the rest of us went back to Vineys place to do some tidying, cleaning and gardening… Quite why anyone thought it was a good idea to give a petrol powered strimmer, which was actually leaking, to a sleep deprived person with a history of accidentally burning things, is beyond me…. in any case, after a rather large lunch and watching Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure (during which Vijay managed to get a few more hours of sleep) we got back to it. The evening was spent in a snooker hall playing some pool… Considering the fact that I’d had only 3 hours sleep in the past 50 I was amazed to find that I was actually playing better than usual – I was beating Palu and Vijay with reasonable consistency. Awesome. I almost found myelf agreeing with a weird guy I saw on YouTube that “Sleep is for babies.” Kind of worrying, but I can almost see how he got to the state he was in if he really had been up for 5 days.

I finally collapsed in a heap at about 4 AM on Sunday morning and managed to start moving at 2 in the afternoon. A few more hours of “tinkering” with the new PC and a bite to eat later, I am now on a train on my way back to Manchester. I’m still a bit fried from the general lack of sleep and annoyed with the lack of phone in my pocket but on the whole, the weekend was pretty good.

Now to get back to writing thesis and my slightly more mundane University existence…. there’s always next weekend though. Woo Hoo!

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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.

Work

Soft, Strong and…

Incredibly Long

My weekend was long-ety long – and not just because of the extra hour of sleep that people convince themselves that they are getting. The long weekend started (as they always seem to for me) on Thursday, with getting ready for my interview at CCLRC. Having left myself no choice but to wear a suit I was up early agonising over which tie to wear with my “trendy” lilac shirt. There were only four to choose from, but it still seemed to give me trouble.

I THINK that the interview itself went better than I was expecting, but I will have to wait a couple of weeks to see how well it really went. I got back to Manchester at around 7pm only to make my way home, change, pack some clothes and leave for the train station to go up to Steve’s to help put with some stuff for the schools. The next couple of days were pretty intense and sctually gave me a headache from staring at a computer screen for two solid days. I don’t think that has ever happened before.

After leaving Steve’s feeling pretty drained, I got back to Manchester in time to go to Irina’s birthday party where there was a SingStar extravaganza that lasted until almost 6 AM – including the extra hour that we had “gained”. There are pictures of all the fun and games for anyone interested.

Needless to say, all of this left me feeling pretty fragile for all of Sunday and even some of today. Today is a new day though.. the physics admissions interviews started up and I got to restart my job of picking people up from the train station and doing a brief intro to Manchester and all of its goodness. Add to that that I found out that there is a new version of SingStar and things don’t seem too bad.

Thesis progress over this period of time actually fell to an amazing low, but I promised that I would try and get some done tonight… I don’t think it’s going to happen though. After spending over an hour on the phone to Vijay and then writing this it’s getting to the point where I am having trouble staying awake. I hope I will be forgiven for not getting any done tonight. I am hopefully going to be handing in my notice of submission form tomorrow, which really should kick-start the thesis work since it will give me a hard deadline to work towards.

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I hate being ill!

I am sure if it has something to do with travelling on (dirty?) trains all the time, but I am ill again. Not good.

I don’t feel too flu-y or cold-y, but my throat is absolutely killing me and I am really tired. This has put a serious dent in my writing over the past couple of days – i.e. I have done next to nothing – which is really annoying. I have gone out this morning and bought some blacksips – like lemsip, but blackcurrent – to see if that will help with the horrendous itchyness in my throat.

Perhaps now is the time to use the fallback plan of putting in most of my diagrams and screenshots – sure to bulk up the page count and has to be done at some point.

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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!

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Knackered

So, as predicted, I managed to get very little work done today because of demonstrating. What little work I did get done was on the train from Stoke-On-Trent back to Manchester. I was (and still am) really tired as I had to get up really early so that I could get back here, change and shower and get to the physics department all before 10 am. Not cool.

I did however manage to apply for a job at RAL in Oxford, so the day is not entirely wasted. If nothing else, I should be happy that I accomplished something (potentially) useful

The day was finished off by a trip to the pub with many of the students and some of the members of staff. The volume of alcohol consumed, combined with my lack of sleep seems to be urging me on to finish this off and go to bed. No clever jokes here, I am just knackered!

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Daily Reports?

So I have managed to get a shockingly small amount of my thesis written today, but I thought that if I make myself post a daily progress report, then I would at least try and do some work to avoid the shame of posting “I have done nothing today” day after day after day.

Looks like the idea of me posting more regularly might pan out after all. I hope you are happy Anu. 😛