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I'm currently working on a DPhil in HCT at the University of Sussex. This section of the website is for an on-going 'learning diary', for me to write my thoughts and notes on various courses and my thesis.

Entries in weekly (18)


That was week 85

Another week went and flew by.

I spent some time staring at code. The diets and food allocation stuff has had me stumped for a few weeks now, but I think I've made a bit of a breakthrough this week. I wasn't breaking it down into quite small enough chunks. I've got a better idea how to do it now, so there should (hopefully) be more achieved this week.

Writing was sadly neglected again. I really need to work on my balance again. I had it for a few weeks, but it's kind of disappeared again.

Tea at three returned, this time with subsidised cakes. I enjoy catching up (and meeting) the other postgrads in the department and this is a good occasion to do so. I sometimes feel we are right on the fringe of the informatics department, and it's nice to maintain some idea of what the rest of the department are doing. Never know what ideas that might spark.

The last lab meeting (lab links) got blogged, this week's lab meeting (lab member questionnaire design) got done and blogged, and next week's lab meeting (extra long and later than normal) got planned and booked in. So that's ticking along at least.

This weekend has been super long (cheers to the Queen) and I seem to have spent most of it asleep, so that may help. However, it's now only 3 days long, so we'll see how much I get done.


That was week 84

This week went by so quickly my head's spinning. Wow.

Sunday just gone I had the first of my 'real' data gathering sessions. We ran the Green Revolution game as part of the STEPS summer school. 16 participants, 1 inexperienced game manager, a similarly inexperienced (and overly nice) banker, and our project sponsor. It was a long, tiring, fascinating day, and that was with our sponsor leading the wrap-up. Really interesting to see the game played, picked up some useful tips for our game, and I got my first set of questionnaires filled out.

Monday I was absolutely wiped out. We had a set of interviews for a lecturer position in the lab (I was only involved as an audience member for the presentations) which somehow seemed to take up the entire day. Probably because I was too tired to really think!

Tuesday I started processing stuff, getting my data into Excel, sorting all the paperwork etc. Not done any stats yet, still reading up and deciding what I'm trying to do. I started writing up about my questionnaire, study design and so on, and found a file where I'd wrote down a lot of that stuff when I put the questionnaire together before Christmas. People say you'll thank yourself if you start writing stuff down early. I'm thrilled with myself! Amazing how quickly you forget that stuff.

Wednesday and Thursday I tried to get back into code writing. I can't finish my studies until that stuff is done! Didn't achieve as much as I'd hoped. Started working on the diet screen, some back end stuff done but not a lot to show.

The week ended on a bit of a high though. We had a Doctoral School BBQ in blazing sun, with a showing of The PhD Movie to follow. Sometimes it's good to have a guilt-free break!

Been a slightly unproductive week I guess, but continuous forward motion has been maintained.


That was week 83

I've decided I'm going to try to do weekly round ups of what I've been doing, just to keep track. I think this is around week 83 of the DPhil, roughly. I think I'm slightly past half way. (Eep!)

This week I have mostly been preparing to run a game of Green Revolution as part of the IDS STEPS programme. Coincidentally it should provide me with 1/4 of my data, so quite a big deal.

Last Sunday I ran a session with 5 friends who knew each other playing the Riener Knizia Lord of the Rings board game. The aim was to get them to play then fill out my questionnaire as a test. I bribed them with ample cake, tea and coffee, which turned out to be a good thing because Sauron got the lot of them around the end of Shelob's lair. It isn't the easiest game to get to grips with. Still, they say they had fun, or at least that the cake was good.

In starting to process the data from that I rejigged a couple of things about my questionnaire that hadn't seemed terribly important when I wrote it. Stuff like question numbers, adding a code for the game. Nothing earth-shaking, which was a result actually.

We had a go at running through the Green Revolution game on Thursday morning. Very useful. Remember to shuffle the cards first! Fingers crossed we've got to grips with it enough, and have enough copies of everything.

On the project I've been trying to get to grips with the data structure for the food and diet allocation side of things. I'm struggling a little bit with player characters vs non-playing characters, both of which need to be fed but reside in different database tables. I'll work it out once I concentrate on it properly.

I put a 2-page WIP paper in to Fun and Games 2012. Fingers crossed!

I met with my supervisor on Tuesday, plenty to be getting on with. I really need to find time to do more writing.

Today we had our lab meeting, where I got people to discuss the sources they use for inspiration and/or keeping up to date. It was quite a good discussion. I checked with my supervisor and I'm going to take responsibility for filling the last 4 lab meetings of term. She nearly bit my hand off! I'm hoping I can draft some other lab members in for a couple of sessions, but I'm going to need to be quite persuasive I think.

The reading group was watching a TED talk this week, Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity. It sparked some interesting discussion.

Possibly stretched the exercising this week, I've been a little tired. Ran 4 miles both Tuesday and Thursday, and cycled around 15 on Wednesday. Fingers crossed a couple of early nights will sort that.

Looking forward to getting Sunday done. I'm sure it'll be fine, but I'll be happier when it's done.

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