Friday, 30 March 2007


If you thought I wasn't blogging much before, that's nothing to the wait you'll have to endure now. No computer at home, and the internet at work is filtered to an obscene level. So basically I can blog from Monica's laptop, which doesn't sound like time well spent with my girlfriend to me, Luke's computer (Q.E.D.), and the library.

So news of my life will be circulating rather more slowly than I might wish.

That's why it's been almost a week between my proposal to Monica and the fact of it circulating on da web. She said yes.

Siamo fidanzati.

I've paid off my Student Loan, and still have my bank account in the black!

The Asperger social group I've started going to has been fairly enjoyable, the trip to the observatory might have gone better if it hadn't been on the first non-cloudless night of the week. Yesterday's 10-pin bowling was fun, I came in 3rd out of 6, but the other team had a fence preventing the ball going into the gutters, so I feel it was pretty close.

Thursday, 29 March 2007


This is weird. I found it really funny, but I've no idea why.
Charlie the Unicorn goes to Candy Mountain.
Apologies for wasting five minutes of your life.

And this was sweet, I thought.


Wednesday, 28 March 2007


The fire alarm's knackered again. This means it's stuck on after the test - there's no fire. I've got a decent handle on my corrections, so I'll be job hunting after the (school) Easter holidays, and will finish them off in the evenings.
Easter concert coming up this Saturday, so I'll spend the morning putting a shed up, then don my dinner jacket and head off for singing. Nice. Not very keen on the music, but never mind.

Oh, and we're having a housewarming party on the 13th of April. Feel free to come round.

EDIT: Now it's on the Saturday - the 14th of April. I blame Emma.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007


I think I've cracked it. Still will have a chunk of typing to do, but I think I've sussed the hard maths behind the problem.

In other news we've got internet access up at home again. Managed to set it up at midnight having got back from the Owls v Colchester game. We won. Very odd atmosphere: it felt like a reserve game. There was almost no singing before the last ten minutes.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Avatar Idol!

At Mahinda's suggestion, I thought it would be a good idea to pick an avatar for Emma. This could be amusing, and may prompt her to choose one.

Here are the current options:
Avatar 1
Avatar 2
Avatar 3 (courtesy of Pete)

Any suggestions, email them to me (or to Mark - I'm sure he won't mind passing them on) and I'll add them. I'll do a vote in a couple of weeks (or when we've got plenty of decent suggestions).

Monday, 5 March 2007

Saturday was very nice, having a meal out with all the Exeter-based relatives is something I'd like to do more often.

The new more irritating, more painfully loud fire alarm system was being configured and tested today. Which meant that the alarm would be sounding at irregular intervals throughout the day, Joy! Dad's suggestion to buy a pair of ear defenders was a very good one. However I still ended up with a bit of a headache from the useless din. Why can't such systems have a quieter testing mode? Apparently it took longer (and made more noise) because someone botched programming the master control box, and had to re-do about half of the programming.

There was a talk today about the options for me moving on from my current flat, I missed most of it, but got the information that I was after.

BT finally made it round this morning, so we've got a landline again, with a new number. I'm not going to put it up here, so if you can't wait for me to post it out, send me a text. Broadband to follow when I've checked whether we've got an ethernet port or not.
Viva Aftermath

Now that I'm feeling a little more levelheaded about the whole viva thingy, I suppose I ought to make a more levelheaded post about the current state of play.

The good news:
  • The examiners were very complimentary about my work, both in terms of quality and quantity.
The stuff we discussed in the viva was mostly minor typos and the odd howler which will only take five minutes to fix. There was one geometrical proof (Algebraic Topology combines algebra and geometry, but my work was largely on the algebraic side) which I'd completely made a hash of, but it's a well known result - just need to sort the proof out.
  • The viva itself went very well.
It was much more relaxed than I was expecting, even considering that I knew both my examiners were nice blokes, so I wasn't expecting too much of an interrogation. I hadn't really twigged that I was going to be the "expert" on the material.
  • I've got a much better idea of what to do next.
This will be even clearer when I get the proper list of corrections from the examiners. It's nice to finally have some certainty about the whole PhD thing. I've got a finite list of jobs to do, and when they're complete I'll pass. I think the hardest thing about pursuing research is that you're never quite sure how good the material is, how much needs doing, how much detail is required, and so on. This is after several years of trying things that don't work and wondering why you ever thought further study was a good idea.
  • I'm certain that I'll graduate in the summer
Most of the hanging around was waiting for a viva date. Once corrections are done there will be a very quick turnaround.
  • I'm sure of help from various sources
The external examiner's said he's very willing to discuss the problem with me. I'll have to pop to Leicester for that, but 'tis very nice. Similarly my supervisor has some free time at last, and the internal's already been very helpful.
  • The worst case scenario's quite good
Even if I throw away all of the results which are affected by the techincal hitch, there's still enough material to get a PhD.

The bad news:
  • I've not passed.
I think this really comes back under the certainty headline. For one thing, it's nigh on impossible to explain exactly what's going on succinctly.
Minor corrections? No problem: "I've passed, just need to do some corrections".
Me? A little trickier: "There's a technical issue affecting five chapters of my thesis. The examiners felt that a pass with minor corrections would put me under too much time pressure. There's no further oral exam, but I need to sort out the issue and resubmit. Unfortunately this could involve a fair bit of reorganisation and possibly typing. I've not passed yet, but will soon. I don't know how complicated the problem is, so don't have any idea about a timescale."
This is rubbish when you're trying to a) let people know how it went, b) trying to go out and celebrate afterwards.
  • I can't get on with it yet
I love university administration. I can't get books out of the library just yet - need a form signed. I've not yet got the list of corrections, and don't really have a precise idea of what I need to fix. I've done some preparatory thinking, but can't really get stuck in at the moment. Again there's a book that would help with this, but it's in the library.
  • I can't get on with other things
The thing I was most looking forward to was not having to do any more maths, getting a job & earning more money. I was hoping/assuming that minor corrections could be done in the evening around a job.