Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Can I Say This?
Imagine you work a regular job and at the same time you have a blog in which you talk about that work. Now that job evolves into your becoming a secret agent, sworn to secrecy and all that. Then what do you blog about?

Some might say that this is a HUGE exaggeration of my current working situation. Those doubters and nay-sayers would be right. Now I'm not a secret agent (I'm too short sighted), but I'm working on stuff that isn't ready to be public yet. So what am I supposed to talk to here, the blog of my work?

I can probably tell you that I am playing with a lot of data. More then I've ever worked with before. And let me tell you, when you are programming simple straightforward data manipulation code, and using simple straightforward shell commands like wc (counts words in a file) huge tracts of data make for long periods of waiting for me and thinking for my machine. It gets worse when running simple straightforward code with errors. I've lost a good couple days that way. Start a process running, go home, come back the next day to find it failed halfway through the night with nothing salvageable.

From this data, I can tell you I am learning some interesting things. There are, for example, a lot of bloggers!! Who knew?! I mean I always thought we were the only ones. Jon will be interested in my findings...just as soon as he gets back from Australia.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Blog Vs Blog
(Personal Vs Professional)
Recently Amanda and I started a blog to talk about our move to Australia, to document the process involved in getting there as well as our day to day activities leading up to the big move and beyond. It is very much a co-authored personal blog. It's one of those blogs that let us keep our friend informed of our progress, it will help us keep in touch with them when we head off, and if anyone else wants to read it that is fine.

It's made me think of a few things though. Firstly, we don't put absolutely everything in the blog, but at least all the more significant occurrences go in. Turns out when all your friends read your blog you have very little news left to tell them. Makes for quite one-sided catch up chats. Secondly, I am still not used to the fact that people make comments about or refer to things in the blog, when I haven't told them personally. It takes a second of thinking "how do they know that?" before realising that we put it in the blog.

My third thought concerns the boundaries and crossover between the two blogs - between the personal and the work blog. First the crossover. For the most part, the distinction between the two blogs is clear: I wrote a paper, here; I saw some friends, there. However, when it comes to talking about the recent work on the rejoinder for my postdoc funding while it's technically about my research, it's also about getting us to Australia, so where do I talk about it. I guess the answer is talk about things like that in both places, but talk about them in different ways. More technical academic details here, less there. Of course, there is also more to say over there, as there may be work things I can't talk about, or am not ready to publish, so I update here less frequently.

Secondly, boundaries. There are concerns I guess for anyone trying to maintain distinct personal and professional blogs. You want colleagues/collaborators to be able to read about your work, your ideas etc, but you don't necessarily want them to read that story about the time you embarrassed yourself highly in a public place...or something. I guess I'm lucky that my personal blog doesn't say anything I wouldn't want anyone to read, and this blog isn't strictly professional. I'm not trying to hide who I am by having two distinct blogs, there is still a good deal of my personality in here (I can say that because I'm the expert :D) and I don't mind if people interested in me professionally want to learn more about me.

And finally, it occurs to me that post tags would have been really helpful in this blog. We have included them over yonder, but I guess that is because we could. I don't know if it is because this blog is old, but I don't even have a separate title box as I write a post, let alone tag boxes. Tags would be good because it would make it clear when I was talking about PhD progress, publications, or thoughts on blogging such as this post. Oh well.

Monday, July 03, 2006
Like A Bee
Not in the stinging sense, but in the keeping busy sense. Although we were mainly off on our holiday recently, I've been kept busy recently with various things that required completion. First there were some minor adjustments to the poster for CoLing/ACL. Another conference that requires I change our lovingly formatted landscape poster into portrait. It's a pain because you go to all the effort of realignment, and here the template doesn't even come out right in portrait, and some people haven't even bothered. These troublemakers promptly stick their poster on top of other peoples since the boards are not big enough to accommodate them.

With the poster done I could focus on the rejoinder for my postdoc funding. Answering the reviewers points was a really good exercise. As well as being able to address any flaws in the original proposal, it gives you an opportunity to add details you didn't have space for in the original strict 10 pages. Of course, it is only a small opportunity, since you have a very strict limit of 5000 characters. That was hard. It's not that I had a hard time answering points, just that there were a lot of little queries, and I didn't want to be seen to be ignoring any. So I answered them as best I could, included all the relevant information, such as my post-submission publications, and submitted after we got back (I was working within hours of us landing in Edinburgh).

Speaking of publications, I have now officially submitted a journal paper. I was informally reviewed by some of our peers, we got a good response and the paper looks good. All credit to my co-authors who worked on it a lot while I was away.

And then to Australia. The visa process which seemed to have stalled is now back on track. Last week, on our anniversary no less, we received the confirmation that our nomination was successful and we could move on to the application proper. And so we did. Filled it in and lodged it online. There are more details for those who are interested in the other blog.

And then it's on with work. Obviously we will continue to do whatever needs to be done to get ourselves to Sydney, otherwise I shall be working away like a good little blogademic.

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