Current status: A postponed master thesis

Summer is at an end and students are streaming back into Bergen. There have also been some questions streaming in about my plans going forward, what’s up with my thesis and such? So, I thought I’d write a quick post about the status of my thesis and my plans for this semester.

My cluttered desk at school

Short story: I extended my thesis delivery and it feels great. New delivery date: As soon as possible.

Today I started my day by walking up Fløyen just to straighten up my back. I’m not 25 anymore, haha. And version 26 apparently needs to walk a lot or else my back will just feel all lousy. Bought breakfast on the way back and ate it at home before heading to the University. Heading to school, to work where I hammer away at my master thesis trello board.

Actually, I still like working on my thesis. Maybe it’s because I’m not slaving away at it enough. Or maybe it is because this life of diving into the wealth of existing knowledge relevant to my research critiquing, paraphrasing, wrestling, thinking, writing, rewriting feels meaningful somehow.

At least I feel privilieged for being allowed to keep on with this for another semester. I’ve mentioned to friends some times that I feel like a writer doing this. I have over 140 A4 sized pages so it is a small book in the making. And you may relax, the thesis is still in its growing phase. After I’m done with the theory chapter I’ll start chopping away at my findings.  And tightning everything up. The method chapter needs a proper reworking my supervisor told me, I agree.

Many ask me when I’ll be done. I’ll get done. As soon as possible but not before. I’ll savor this writerly academic phase.

Plans for the semester

  • Just finish my thesis.
  • Walk and possibly train every day. Walk at least.
  • Start a consulting firm with my sister and  a cousin of mine. :)

Seems simple enough … The challenge here is that I also have Kompiler.no which I would like to work on and a lot of dancing classes which I’d love to take. I love dancing. But perhaps I shouldn’t sign up for three dancing classes as I may be doing. Ah, decisions. Life’s great, it seems. :)

Current status

(Heisann bloggen)

Driver å skriver på masteren for tiden, som er ein heilt greit oppleving må eg sei. :) Ting som gjenstår er å skrive ferdig kapitlene om teori, mine funn, diskusjon og konklusjon. Så, må alt omarbeidast igjen og igjen til det er gull innen midten av August. Sitter med litt over hundre sider nå, og eg veit eg har funnet noke ut. Må berre fortelje det på ein overbevisande måte. Men poenget med denne posten er berre å skrive litt om alle dei andre tankane eg går å snurre på.

(Posten fortsetter under biletet)

Leser artikler og drømmer om å skape ting. :)

Leser artikler og drømmer om å skape ting. :)

Oppfinnertrang

Leste denne artikkelen om HCI forskning (menneske-maskin-interaksjon), fordi dette er eit av forskingsfeltene eg lener meg på i forskingen (og må derfor skrive gode ord om). Det som ofte skjer når eg les slike artiklar er at eg dett inn i tankar om moglegheitene for feltet, eller berre tankar om personlege prosjekter som eg burde gi litt merksemd.

Etter å ha lest meg ferdig på HCI introduksjonen så ramlet eg inn i Youtube og hørte på ein snakk om Clojurescript i praksis (som virka lovande men eg sovna), her om dagen såg eg ein om det å starte ein startup med Haskellspråket i botn. Når eg tenkjer meg om så var begge heilt greie for å få meg til å tenkje, men kanskje ikkje så informative.

Noke av det mest informative eg har lest i det siste var eit case studie om mobilutvikling, der ein utvikler gjekk igjennom heile prosessen frå design, produksjon til markedsføring. Anbefales sterkt. Velskrevet og tett på virkeligheten.

  1. Mobilutvikling, eit case studie del 1 – Design
  2. Mobilutvikling, eit case studie del 2 – Markedsføring

Etter å ha sovna av clojure talk’en, så våkna eg opp litt seinare idag og falt inn i youtube igjen så kom eg over dette intervjuet med den sjølvlærte elektroingeniøren Jeri Ellsworth. Heile interjvuet kan du sjå her.

Jepp, eg er fan. Ellsworth er ganske kjent i maker-miljøet i USA, for diverse kule prosjekter, sitt serientreprenørskap og i det siste for å ha forlatt Valve til fordel for å jobbe med ein nytt Augmented Reality produkt som ho snakka om i intervjuet.

Når eg høyrer på kor hardt ho og teamet hennar jobba med det prosjektet berre for å få sparken av Valve, og likevel fortsettje ufortrødent. Det er inspirerande.  Og så får det meg til å tenkje på alt det eg har lyst til å lage, men som eg må vente litt med. Fyrst må firmaet grunnlegjast bokstaveleg talt. Og fyrst må denne masteren ordnast, puh. Men eg har i alle fall masse inspirasjon til å bli ferdig. Og heldigvis er stoffet framleis (!) inspirerande.

Det har vore ein chill dag så longt, fått vasket kler, fått “somret” litt (feriert formiddag/ettermiddag). Men no er det på tide å ta ein økt på skulen, jobbe kveld, som dei seier. Til slutt vil eg berre tipse om denne siden, invetables.com, berre det å titte igjennom råvarane kan gi idear om kule ting som ein kunne lagd.  Denne lampen er jo berre snasen. :)

Late night sysadmin’in: Repurposing my old laptop to serve up my master’s project

After having a great session of Friday Night Lightning with the gang from Pils & Programmering I was just going to drop by my dedicated study space at my University and drop of my laptop.

I ended up sticking around tinkering on an old laptop of mine setting it up to be a server while listening to a couple of interviews with Jeri Elsworth, an inspiring self-taught engineer.

A server is a computer which is typically connected to the internet and serves up files or is able to perform other tasks like resending e-mail, being a remote backup space amongst other useful tasks.

My new laptop is a hp g6-2131so, and it came with a 5400rpm 750gb hdd (quite slow but quiet). In my old laptop, a hp dv9510, I had a 80gb intel ssd hdd (much much faster than the hdd I received with my new laptop). So, I decided to switch the hdds and repurpose my old laptop into a server.

Time was around 22.00 – 00.30 while I did all of this tinkering. As a master student we have key card access to the faculty building and our own keys to our study spaces in which we have dedicated study spaces. I share a room with five other people. Technically, we can stay at school all night all the time. I really try not to, but this time I just wanted to wind off by setting up this server.

I ended up using Lubuntu 12.10 as the operating system, not the most stable perhaps and I might end up going for Crunchbang or straight up Debian instead. A challenge I had to overcome is that the server would have to automatically connect to the internet using vpn and automatically reconnect if ever it would get kicked off the network (which it will be). I tried my best to follow this guide, with some success but it ended up not working. Better luck next time. :)

Yet another challenge was that this server would never have a consistent ip-address. Luckily, a friend of mine recommended no-ip.com which is a service that provides a domain name for free that the server could talk to and make sure that the name would always point to the server’s ip-address. The result is me only having to remember one name instead of a shifting series of long numbers.

In the end I managed to get my server up and running serving up my web application. Tinkering joy! :) Having such a server at hand will be especially handy right now since I tried using a proper web host but it didn’t work out (I tried using something that was totally free).

Moving forward I hope to get the server properly auto-connecting to the internet, acting as a backup system and serving up various web applications. :) Puh. It’s gotten really, really late. But hey it’s been a fun day/evening/night. I’ll sleep for a long time tomorrow.

“My name is Nils, I procrastinate.”

Guess what world? This guy’s a procrastinator (I’m talking about me, yes). We’ve all got our demons to fight, big or small. I do get stuff done, however the number of random allnighters it has taken is undeniable. “Overtime is failure of management,” as decreed in the kung fu of extreme programming (it really is).

This post is inspired by this marvellous chrome app called Stayfocusd, which simply times the pages you set it to time blocking you out when time’s up. Especially inspiring is occasional conversational dialogues, like when I wanted to extend the allowance time today. It starts out at five minutes, but I subsequently lowered it to one minute which was much praised by the app. I must’ve counted ten dialogue boxes imploring me not to go and raise the timer. Even, though I must’ve hurt the app’s feelings I stand firm by my action. Regardless, the point is after telling me off a last time the app directed the browser to go to a web page on procrastination. In short, it was great. The text hit some of the pain points I’ve been somewhat unable to identify myself.

Four Simple Reasons for Procrastination

  1. Difficult – the task seems hard to do; we naturally tend to avoid difficult things in favor of those which seem easy to us.
  2. Time-consuming – the task will take large blocks of time, and large blocks of time are unavailable until the weekend.
  3. Lack of knowledge or skills – no one wants to make mistakes, so wait until you learn how before you start.
  4. Fears – everyone will know how you screwed up.

I’m a big fan of mindfullness and meditation, and recently I’ve started playing Superbetter which is a web site for gamifying all sorts of personal development or personal recovery. My superhero alias on there is “Nils the Bard,” inspired by the D&D concept of the bard roleplaying class. In addition to the nifty alias I configured superbetter for tackling stress, and it’s working to some extent. This online game has given me much. Nevertheless, I think its my tendency to procrastinate that causes most of my stress.

Perhaps. At least I think so. :)

I have failed many times at managing my time, and been rewarded with B’s and a couple of A’s thereby rewarding and reinforcing that behaviour for the future according to that article on procrastination. This insight, well I can agree with it  since it’s in tune with what many articles on mindfullness state. Our minds don’t stop developing in our teens, but continue developing getting better at whatever we tell it to. If we think a lot of negative thoughts, our mind will reinforce the circuitry related to negative thinking.

Personally, I think I’ve become real good at putting certain tasks of. Tasks that matter to me often force me into thinking that I need to prepare more, learn more or find a better time when I’m in a better mood or something silly like that. (Afterthought edit, I see now that I ended that sentence in an unhealthy freudian slip.)

The article on procrastination (which I urge you to read) finishes with a list of common arguments for putting off work for later, and challenges the reader to counter these arguments. Which I did! I apologize for some of the fancy wording throughout, I just like to write whatever words come to mind, sometimes they’re a bit olden.

Arguments for and against procrastination

“I’m more productive when I work under pressure, so I’m postponing all my work until the pressure builds up and then I’ll get it done easily.”

You may get a good grade, maybe. What’s really happening is that you’re depriving the project of its resources. The time spent on the task as well as the time spent relaxing between work cycles matter. In other words, start the task early and the answer will have time to mature.

“I don’t know how to do this problem, so I’m waiting until I know how before I do it.”

The chance of you making some fatal error is not high. Regardless, you’ll be learning all along. And if you started the task early you’ll have time to actually apply that newfound knowledge. Learning by doing, learning by erring.

“This task isn’t getting done because I really don’t want to do it. And that’s the honest truth”

If it needs to get done, it needs to get done. More likely you fear the task because you view it as a chance to fail publicly broadcasting your inadequacy. Which will never happen, even though you’ve seen such public manhunts on tv in regards to politics.

“Relax. The world isn’t going to come to an end if this doesn’t get done.”

You’re right, the world won’t end but that ‘s just expanding an argument until it looks silly. It’s merely a rhetorical safehaven, and irrational at the same time. The world won’t end, but the task will.

“This job is easier to do when I’m in the mood, and I’m simply not in the mood right now.”

If you’re not in the mood for the task now, there won’t be a good chance that you’ll be in the mood for the task later. Has it ever happened before, that you felt so spontaneously ecstatic that you changed your mind about some task you were putting off for later, grabbed it and started working on it?

“I waited until the last moment before and it worked out okay, so why not this time?”

Firstly, your mind is probably tricking you already having glossed over and sugar coated the excruciating allnighters.

“If I wait until the last minute, I won’t spend so much time on it.”

If you do it now you won’t spend as much time mulling over whether or not you should commence said task. Thinking about the task is taxing and the weight is self-reinforcing.

“If I do this work right now, I’ll miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime social event.”

If you work consistently, putting in consistent amounts of work you’ll be better able to gauge your progress and pull out social breaks when needed.

“Circumstances beyond my control prevented me from doing so.”

Remind yourself of what you want to accomplish before asking yourself, “what’s the stopping me from starting/completing the task right now?”

“I’ve worked on this for so long that I have no interest or energy for it.”

More likely you’ve been thinking about working on that task for too long. Think about the task when you’re working on it, not otherwise. When you (most likely) do get ideas while on break from the task write the ideas down ready to be pulled out when you’re going to work.

Puh! :)

So, did I procrastinate by writing this? Maybe. But at least I spent an hour thinking and writing about overcoming procrastination. Hopefully it’ll stick. I’ll head out and buy myself a beverage, get back home and start light work on one of those spesky tasks that has been left idling for too long. Now go play in the sun. :)

Some stuff I did, spring 2012

A traveler with his camel walking in the desert.

Creative Commons: Manoj Kengudelu (flikr.com)

Tip: Why don’t you put on some warm tunes before reading on? :)

The temperature’s risen (somewhat) and I’m standing up to my waist in summer, and of “what to do’s.” Part of me feels like I’ve been jogging through the semester with my eyes fixed only a week ahead of me.

Got things done. Summer came around, and now I’m looking up. Even though I’ve only been taking one course, it’s been a busy semester. So, here’s a personal recap of sorts on what stuff I’ve been up to this semester:

Academic day of critical thinking (loosely translated from Norwegian). Yeah, so my institute called the institute of Information and Media Science has a student council in which I and two others were tasked with holding this Academic day. Funny enough there’s a day where all students are to take a day where they step away from the curriculum and take a critical look at the state of things themselves (yep it’s that broad). Me and my two teammates Sindre and Line knew it would be a challenge to get enough people to show up, and our worries were justified. Nevertheless, I think we pulled of a good and critical day. An overview in Norwegian of what talks we offered, maybe you could google translate it. :) We even got some media coverage, which was fun:

Pils & Programmering (link)Not so much to say other than it’s been huffing and puffing steadily along all through semester, I’m proud of the fact that we’re a steady crowd coming to Kvarteret each Friday to hang out. Some drink beer, some program and some do both. Things to note of the semester that was:

Troughout the semester I managed to end up in:

  • Sheffield
  • Syndin, on a cabin trip.
  • The Gathering 2012, at Vikingskipet. I’ve been meaning to upload stuff from here like forever.

Just like to mention some other things in passing:

  • Helped pull of a very nice poetry evening at Kvarteret, under the banner of the Student theater Immaturus (pictures), in which I’ve been the vice leader (full disclosure). :)
  • Other than performing poetry at Immaturus’s poetry evenings and Open Stage Evenings I performed some poetry at Prøverommet (1, 2) and Lille as the Prince of Poetry. So, I’m still alive and writing even though I don’t post as much these days.

Probably something I forgot. Anyhow. Summer’s upon me, and I have a bunch of stuff I’d like to do. Just need to start in one end. :)

Masterliv: Har Facebook devaluert ordet ven?

Greek portal


Kan kanskje driste meg til å sei at forelesningsdiskusjonen blei litt sokratisk? :)
CC-attibution: Phil Hollman (flikr.com)

I går hadde eg sjansen til å vere forelesar i faget interaksjonsdesign i samarbeid med Regine. Me kjørte to kjappe introduksjonar i henholdsvis kognitive aspekter og sosial interaksjon. Deretter gjekk me raskt over i å dele dei om lag tjue oppmøtte inn i grupper der dei fekk diskutere seg imellom, før me så tok gruppene sine synspunkt opp i plenum. Det blei nokre flotte meiningsutvekslingar der nokre synspunkt eller tankar gjorde seg gjeldande:

  • Me starta med å snakka om distraksjonar i kvardagen, der gruppene klarte å liste mange kjelder til distraksjon. Med slik innsikt i kva som distraerer oss kvifor let me oss herja slik med? Nyare forsking viser til at me tunge multi-taskerar ikkje multi-tasker fordi dei er særleg flinke til å halde fleire baller i lufta, men at det derimot heng meir saman med at dei er hekta på distraksjon og ute av stand til å stengje denne inputen ute (kjelde:forsking.no).
  • Vidare ikring temaet distraksjon så var det noken som forklarte at, “eg som regel blir distraert av mykje rundt meg, viss ikkje det er snakk om at arbeidet er så engasjerande at det i seg sjølv blir ein distraksjon.” Eit veldig interessant synspunkt i frå salen må eg sei, som får meg til å tenkje på potensialet i spill og spillmekanikk for forbetring av arbeidsplassen. “Dette handler om flow det du nemner der,” tenkte eg (og sa i frå om). :)
  • “Har Facebook tømt omgrepet “venn” for meining?” Dette er eit interessant spørsmål for ein kan stille seg spørsmålet om kva skilnaden er mellom ein ven-ven og ein facebook-ven. For meg er vener folk eg stoler på, gode vener er folk eg kan sittje på kafé med (når eg har tid) og endeleg så har ein Facebook vener som ofte er meir bekjente.
  • Dersom eit interaktivt produkt som Facebook tilsynelatande kan devaluere omgrepet venn, så burde ein også kunne lage interaktive løysingar i stand til å forsterke det vennskap og ordet i seg sjølv. Til dette formålet nevnte eg applikasjonen Path, som frå starten av hadde ei begrensning på 50 vener og seinare har dei auka dette om lag hundre trur eg. Med dette er me ved kjernen i interaksjons design, nettopp det å kunne forme samhandlinga mellom brukerar. Kva om Facebook ikkje hadde hatt ein like-knapp, inkluderte ein not-like-knapp, nytta fyljar i staden for ven eller sat ein begrensning på 50 vener?
  • Spøkefulle tunger skal ha det til at interaksjonsdesign for det meste koker ned til “touchy feely,” men det har faktisk mykje å sei for dei liva me lev og det samfunnet me er på veg mot. Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.

Dett var dett. :)

Ide: Kva om SIB spelte SRIB?

Er tilbake på lesesalsplassen min etter å ha vore innom Studentradioen i Bergen, og hatt ein hyggeleg samtale med Frokostblanding om Pils & Programmering. Dykk skal snart kunne klikke innom måndagsshowet 7. Mai og høyre meg fable om programmering, pils og “the Ballmer constant” (også kallt det Ballmer peak).

CC-Attribution: Constantine Gerontis (flikr)

Så, til kjernen av dette innlegget:

Kva om Studentsamskipnaden sine kantiner tok inn smektande toner og engasjerande diskusjonar i frå Studentradioen i Bergen på morgonkvisten, og uttover dagen? Det er ein del studentar det. Har det blitt prøvd før?

Kanskje ein kunne ha testa det som eit prøveprosjekt i nokre kantiner, og så lodde stemninga for det i etterkant. :)