Am I there yet?

6 10 2008

The past two months saw the Goat meticulously chewing over her collected data, one of the reasons she’s been somewhat quiet on the blogging paddock. All the conserved energy resulted in a chapter of more than 30 000 words, divided into the following five main themes:

Theme 1. The past and present of Czech animation

Theme 2. Advancements in animation technology

Theme 3. Political censorship in Czech animation

Theme 4. Economic management of animation studios

Theme 5. Future of Czech animation


The last section of the chapter discusses the confluence of these themes and highlights their relationships in a visual diagram. Instead of waiting until the full chapter is drafted to obtain some feedback from my supervisor, I have been forwarding him drafts of each theme during my writing. That way any suggestions provided at the start can be implemented throughout the rest of the chapter and my stress levels are kept under control knowing that my chapter is shaping up. 

Today, I was able to read the Data Analysis chapter in one sitting and made notes regarding any minor changes or additions to the text. So am I there yet? Hopefully by the end of this week, I’ll be able to celebrate the completion of my chapter, maybe with a cake or something healthier like a carrot J

My Methodology chapter is next on my list, it’s at least 80% finished and I should be able to complete it within the next week. It’s also great that my supervisor has already read the Methodology chapter a couple of times so I know I’m on the right track and no huge changes are required.

Is the light at the end of the research tunnel getting brighter or what?

Happy goating,



Music to research to – Pivot

18 09 2008

Great album by Sydney band Pivot. Who would have thought a good band would come from there!

… Matt

The trials of data collection

18 09 2008

Here is a post from deep in the trenches of data collection. As I type this I have some students working away, testing my prototype application.

I am about half way through all the classes, with one more this afternoon, and two more tomorrow. So how is it going I hear you ask? Hhhhmmmm…

Let me say I am not convinced I will have all of the last data I need. It is still early days, but it points out a major issue with data collection… getting eager participants.

Mine are coming from the student population. Since all is above board with Ethics, I ask the students if they would like to participate. As is completely fair, they all have a choice if they want to participate or not, and it is stressed that they don’t have to. It is the right thing to do, but boy does it make data collection difficult! I wish I had a dollar for each person that asked “what do I get out of it?” or “yeah, but how will it help me?”!

Anyway, after canvassing students in lectures a few weeks ago, I got about 70 willing to participate which I was pretty happy with to be honest. I felt that with all the different kinds of data I was collecting I would get some good stuff. But then we come to the actual experiment.

Well, students have an interesting work ethic god bless ’em. Unfortunately it seems this week is turning out to be one of those “I have better things to do than go to programming labs” kind of weeks. So to say my numbers are low is a bit of an understatement. But we are not through it yet, so lets see how they all pan out. But I guess I am preparing for more data collection, however if the data turns out to be quite rich, then I may have enough to write up (taking into account I have done two other stages of data collection already).

I am not upset with the students… a bit disappointed maybe… but I guess it just highlights thinking of the best ways to get keen participants. I will see how I go and what I can come up with.

So fingers crossed for the rest of the week readers! Lets see how it all pans out.

… Matt

Eating and sleeping matters!

28 08 2008

I think there should be a claass for postgraduates on balancing life, health, family, work and PhD.  Like Matt already said, it’s important to spend time away from our research. Since the beginning of my candidature, I have made the decision to treat my PhD as a job to keep my weekends free. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to give our brains a break once in a while. At the same time, I’ve been getting so tired, maybe the goat needs a break full stop!

In the past few weeks, I have been doing my data analysis and found it more difficult that I initially expected. I also noticed that in the process of the metahporic jumps over my research hurdles, I am getting more tired. The gray cold winter weather is certainly not helping to boost my spirit and I appreciate the occassional sunny moments on a weekend when I can be outside. The garden has been flowering as never before and it gives me so much joy to leave the computer and literally stop to smell the flowers. The house renovations we do on weekends are quite therepeutical. Somehow holding a paintbrush clears my mind and in a way physical work helps me relax.  

Everyone needs to find their way to preserve their sanity, to find happiness and reach their goals. Each of us is unique – if I were to ride 120km on a bike, trust me, I would die! And the Otter would probably find meditation boring. 🙂 But the truth is that as one starts approaching the finish line, it takes more energy to carry on. Note to self: Eating and sleeping always matter!


PhD – Life – Play – Fitness Balance (or, the Otter is pretty silly)

28 08 2008

No, don’t worry… this is not going to be some philosophical posting full of lots of zen mumbo-jumbo. Just a bit of a story of my weekend and what else is happening besides my PhD.

Those that know me think I am a bit crazy. It is on a number of levels, but the main one is my ease of being swayed into physical activities. One thing that Monash University does well is their Team Monash program. This is Monash putting formal teams into major Melbourne fitness events, including the Portsea Swim Classic, the Mother’s Day Classic, Melbourne Marathon, and Around the Bay in a Day ride. Why I am crazy is that I do each of these. The Team Monash banner is addictive though… you get looked after well, get gear to run/swim/cycle in, and get be part of the big Monash group.

So, October is coming fast, which means I am running and cycling very soon. Before you think I some kind of Superman (which I am most defintely not), I am not running a whole marathon. That is just for crazy people. I was going to do a half marathon, but it is the weekend before the Around the Bay ride, which is my favourite, so I am just doing the 10km run. But it finishes in the MCG so I am pretty excited about it. My main focus is on riding around the bay.

For those of you not from Melbourne, we are situated on a bloody big bay (Port Phillip Bay). Someone, sometime decided “Hey, we could ride around this thing!”, and thus thousands of us looneys decide to do it each year. How far I hear you ask? Well, 210 butt wrenching kilometres, that’s how far. Yes, it is a long way, but it is also believe it or not it is really fun.

Below is a Google Map of what we ride. Scale is obviously hard to tell, but it is about 210-220km of riding. We get a ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento about half way, so we literally do go around the whole bay.

This is where the title of this posting comes in… at some point I had to tell (well, force) myself to say “Hey, you need to train for this… get on your bike!”. The main problems have been:

  1. I really want to get this PhD done
  2. Our winter has been pretty cold and wet this year
  3. Training means doing rides of at least 100km (ie at least 4-5 hour sessions)

So the weekend gone I said enough is enough. Sunday, being a pretty nice day, I threw the bike in the car, drove to my favourite spot in East Malvern, and started riding. I headed into the city via the main bike trail and went through to Port Melbourne, and the start of the famous (or infamous) Beach Rd ride. And that is where it hit me.

As I headed on my way to Frankston I had one of those kind of zen moments. I thought to myself “It is a beautiful day, I am on the water, I have nowhere to be, and this is great!”. I think it was a combination of a cold wet winter, not having been on my bike in ages, work being crazy, and the fact it was a nice day with no wind. But it was just one of those blissful moments.

So I proceeded to ride close to 120km over the next 4.5 hours. Yes, it is a lot, but I needed to kick the training into gear. But if 120km can be peaceful and enjoyable, this was it.

Anyway, that is the end of the story. What is the moral? Well,

  1. Yes, I’m nuts
  2. I discovered I am pretty fit (I do a couple of gym RPM classes a week to keep my fitness and sanity)
  3. Sometimes you just need to say “Sorry PhD, today is for my body, not for my brain!”

If you are struggling with trying to fit these things in, sometimes you just have to do it. Nothing like registering to ride around a bloody big bay to get you motivated. See you on Beach Rd!

… Matt

Otter Progress – Development is almost there…

28 08 2008

Just a quick update since it has been 2 weeks since the last post. I have mentioned previously that once semester starts it gets pretty crazy. Well, in the 2 weeks I have been teaching and marking, but also getting some development done. And I am happy to say I have had some major things happen.

Firstly, I have about 70 participants for my final data collection in a month. It will involve students using my application to see how it helps them with Object Oriented Program Design, and I just had to get them to fill out Consent Forms so that everything is above board with the Ethics department. Hopefully this gets me the last data I need!

The other major thing has been in the development side of things. Here are some screen shots of the current version. It has come a loooong way since the last postings. Not only does it look better, but it is very functional… almost the point of unleashing it. So final development can hopefully be sorted over the weekend and then into the hands of some testers. How exciting!

… Matt

Music to Research to – Deerhoof

28 08 2008

This is slightly older record, but I have just fallen in love with it. It is Friend Opportunity by Deerhoof and is very schizophrenic demented pop music… maybe it suits my current mood!

… Matt