• Of iPods, Infrastructure, and Intermission

    Today was my first day back at the University after an extended absence. I filled it in by doing mostly administrative things. Let there be iPods, bibliography software, and printing everywhere!

    I started off the day by trying to set myself up a new research calendar of days at the University. The calendar left on the door only went until October and, of course, none of those dates were ever used. I consulted with Stephen and arranged to have 5-7 days a calendar month for my research. In most months, 5 of the days are in a row with the other days being made up of Fridays about two weeks before and after the week-long period. I tried to take into account that we might be taking a week off in May to go walking in Scotland. The other days chosen are mostly Fridays because that’s the day we have our IDEAs Lab weekly meetings. One of the things I complained about at our last “away day” was feeling isolated. If I attend meetings, then I won’t be so isolated. The proposed calendar can been using iCal at webcal://ical.mac.com/eingang/Ph.D..ics or on the web at http://ical.mac.com/eingang/Ph.D..
    I’ll need to take the proposed dates and map them onto my research plan timeline. Oh boy, another battle with Fast Track Schedule. Is it so much to ask for that a piece of software allow you to edit some things and then have things dependent on that automatically update? Apparently it is, because it’s a pain in the butt to do, but there isn’t a lot of choice of project scheduling software available for the Mac. If somebody knows of something better, please do let me know.
    Infrastructure Changes:
    After 6 months away, the wireless roaming network is finally live across the campus, but you can’t print from it. Apparently, it was mostly designed with students in mind and students (undergraduates) don’t have access to free printing. I’m hoping they come up with a cunning plan, because it’s kind of weird to not be able to see any of the printers on the network and I can’t, apparently, print to them by IP (although I don’t know why).
    While my office was still intact, I needed only to shove some stuff aside, the printers around the building have changed. I had to do all the “Adding” of printers, where I discovered that Mac OS X’s (10.3.2) discovery of printers via AppleTalk is somewhat slow. It seems to take a bit of time to “sync” up when you first connect. In theory, I should now be able to print seamlessly, while plugged in via ethernet, to either printers on the COGS research network or on the teaching network. The teaching network printer is a lot closer, being only a few doors down. The rest of the printers are on different floors.
    I had Christian give me a copy of EndNote 7 for the Macintosh. I had requested a license from the lab when they were ordering licenses for themselves. I’ve previously always bought and paid for my own academic license. Version 5 of EndNote, which only runs under Classic, worked with text files, other word processors, and FrameMaker MIF files. As I typeset all of my papers in FrameMaker, this was very convenient. Version 6 dropped that and only supported typing papers into Microsoft Word. At least this version allows you to use something other than Microsoft Word, but it’s still RTF, which isn’t as convenient for me. If I want to make changes, I have to update the FrameMaker file, produce an RTF document, parse that to insert the references, and then print the RTF file. We’ll see how that works. When you change formats, some formatting always gets lost, so I am not completely hopeful.
    I picked up a new photocopier card from the postgraduate secretary. The regular school secretaries wanted me to have a research grant to apply the charge to, but I was pretty sure I was entitled to a quota of copying per year as a research student, as indeed I am. I also asked her about the whole intermission process as my supervisor wants me to intermit. Apparently, I can only intermit entire terms, so I need to intermit for the fall and spring terms. I guess that makes any time I spent in March bonus time, assuming I’m granted intermission. She says she doesn’t know of any limits for postgraduates on intermitting, which is good, because I’m apparently going for some kind of record. I also don’t need to write another letter. If my supervisor e-mails her, she’ll prepare the necessary paperwork and all will likely be well. I e-mailed my supervisor and suggested he do so to get the ball rolling. I’ll check back on that in a few weeks.
    The IDEAs Lab has just teamed up with the new Creative Systems group to purchase a FirstClass server and some client licenses. The intention is to create a shared space for the IDEAs group people to be able to collaborate/discuss papers, have shared resource calendars, and update the IDEAs web site automatically with content from FirstClass. I was just discussing this with my supervisor at today’s meeting. As I was searching for some BluTak in our resources room, a contingent of people came excitedly down the hallway looking for me. They knew that I was very familiar with a href=”http://www.centrinity.com/” title=”FirstClass from Centrinity”>FirstClass from my work at the Open University and that I was also a technical web person. They want me to liaise with the FirstClass configuration person, so I’ve added that to my list of tasks to undertake in the next week.
    iPod Study:
    Michael Bull is doing a study on the use of iPods. Siufai saw a Wired article about Michael Bull and how he’s looking for female inverviewees. Imagine my surprise to discover that he’s at the University of Sussex too. Actually, I’d read an article in the New York Times (online) edition a week or so ago entitled The World at Ear’s Length, all about how people completely shut out the world by using iPods in New York. That article also mentioned Michael Bull. Anyway, I had contacted him about being interviewed, being an iPod junkie, and had arranged to meet him this morning. I arrived at the appointed time, waited twenty minutes, and there was no sign of him. I left a note and followed up with an e-mail, but I haven’t heard back from him.
    So, there’s lot to do, but time has run out for today. I need to wrap up, file things away, and head for home until the next day.


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