PhD proposal

I’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front lately. This is probably because I haven’t really been in the mood for talking about stuff and sharing thoughts.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been involved with writing up the final version of my PhD proposal. Ideally, I’d like to have both the documentation and presentation done before I leave to go home in mid September. I will then give my seminar, and defend it at the end of October.

So far, it’s proved to be a rather elusive document. I started by writing a large document about various thing I could look at, and then started to whittle it down into things that maybe I do want to focus on. Whilst this process was good for looking at everything from a broad perspective, it lacked focus, and lacked a reason for why I’m doing what I am doing.

So, that was last week. It was rather trying. I gave a presentation on it, and was left with the feeling that I’ve done all this work, and I still have no clue. I seriously started to reconsider what I am doing here.

This week, I have started looking at things from the other way around. Basically, I said, “okay, if I now have my PhD, what is it that I can do as a result of this work?”. Answering that question lead me to a couple of points that I could focus on. What it also immediately did, was show how some of the stuff I came up with last week is probably irrelevant for each different point. Also, it showed which targets were not easily achievable with the proposed techniques. Fortunately, a single objective came through, which is the one I’m now going for.

I guess this proposal thing is all about picking a direction. You ultimately don’t have to go in that direction, but you certainly have to start by pointing in a certain direction. You can’t do research randomly. If you do, all you will end up with is meaningless bits of data, which don’t relate to each other.

Also, this exercise showed me how you really need to look at everything from more than one view. It it amazing how a change in perspective can throw relevant and irrelevant things into sharp contrast. So, in theory, the more perspectives and ways you look and think about something, the closer you will get to finding the core of your work.

Life Sport

Wow, what a week

So, my nose is outta joint. No, literally, my nose is out of joint, or at least it feels that way. It is still swollen and sore.

No, fortunately it was not a big burly bouncer outside a night club that decided to show me a close up of his knuckles. It was instead a squash ball. I must say, I do feel rather lucky in that if it was a couple of centimeters higher and to the right, it would have hit my eye, which would not have been good.

This unfortunate incident happened on Wednesday after my squash league match. Before you ask, yes… I had my ass handed to me, as usual. This time, I have a decent excuse. My opponent, who is 15, was new to the club, and thus, not in the correct league. His correct league, by my judgment, would be five leagues above ours! Okay, maybe not such a decent excuse. Yes, I suck.

One of my team mates, Sam (yes, it’s often confusing), and I decided, as we usually do after being humiliated on the court, and because we usually don’t have a decent run on the court during the match, to have a match. Well, I was winning, 2 games to 1, and starting to kick his ass in the current game. During one of the points, I played my shot, placing it towards the back left corner of the court, and as I returned to the ‘T’, I looked back, and as I did, I saw and felt the horrible not so squishy fast moving black thing hit me between the nose and the cheek bone. Well, it was all over for the squash from there on. My eyes watered. Luckily it didn’t bleed.

Damn, I miss picking my nose! If I push my nose slightly to the left, I hear this clicking sound. It’s freaky.

To make things worse, the food poisoning thing has decided to raise it’s ugly head again. Started feeling like death again on Thursday. Am slightly better now.

Conference Life Sport

So, the alcohol’s not to blame

On Saturday some of Bradley’s friends came over to watch the rugby with us. They brought their alcohol. I had wine. I had to drink something. So I had my wine. I also cooked dinner, a stir-fry, and we had strawberries and cream for desert :). I felt indulgent. Especially since the Bok’s won :).

Well, it was all fine up until bed time, and a bottle and a half of wine later. (Started at 17h00 and stopped at 02h00)

Half an hour later, and subsequently every half hour to an hour later till after the sun rose, I had to run to the bathroom to throw up my guts. Even when there was nothing in my guts.

I spent the whole of Sunday wondering how a bottle and a half of wine could do that to me. You know, I do have a reputation to keep up here!! It couldn’t possibly be my cooking, since no-one else had the problems that I had.

Subsequently, we spent much of Sunday pondering the possibilities of hot swapping livers and body parts for situations like these. Brad’s is still insistent that a USB powered hot swap liver system is the way to go. I disagree. I think an array of them is what is needed. They can all work in parallel, and you can swap one out for reconditioning every now and then.

It wasn’t till this morning, I received an email asking who else had this ghastly thing, and that the culprit was the mussels in starter at lunch time on Friday at the SAIMM . Phew… My liver is safe. This time…

Don’t eat mussels from this place (the Lord Charles, that is…).


Incompetence costs you money…

It never ceases to amaze me how often certain businesses who claim that they offer certain services do not have full competence in those services!!

Recently, my car started giving me problems. Basically, it wouldn’t start, however, there was clearly power, since my lights, radio and everything else electrical was working. After puzzling this over for a while, as a last stab before towing my car to a service station, I decided to try jump start it. It started. So I assumed that there was something wrong with my battery.

After driving to the place where Anita bought the battery from, and finding it not there anymore, I stopped at a Supa Quick, since they advertised that they ‘did’ batteries. I asked the manager there if they could test my battery, and he got someone to test it. The conclusion was that my battery was fine, and there must be some other electrical fault.

So (some weeks later, as I had to go to BMM) I ended up taking it to an auto electrician. They tested the battery, and concluded that the battery was at fault. They replaced it, and my car is happy.

Now, why didn’t Supa Quick pick it up? Okay, they must have used a different test. Speaking to the auto electrician, he said that the battery was fine when there was very little load on it. So it basically gave 12V, and all of my car’s internal (low load) electrics were fine. However, they must have not tested it under high load, which meant that they did not pick up that as soon as the load on the battery increases when starting the car, the battery’s output voltage went down to 3V.

Now, for a business (Supa Quick) that claims to specialise in 6 areas (Tyres, Batteries, Shocks, Exhausts, Wheels, Alignment), where one is Batteries (okay, in my books Tyres/Alignment/Shocks = Wheels, so 20% of their competence), you’d expect that they should be able to pick up something like this, as I would think is a common case for battery failure. Now, I’m not beating up on the poor guy who did the test, but perhaps they need to change their testing procedures and use equipment that will diagnose all the common cases for battery failure.

So, all in all, because of a misdiagnosis, Supa Quick lost business from me, which went to someone else.