Friday, December 25, 2009

new phase .... new look?

Yes, the look has changed. One fine day, I mean yesterday, I suddenly felt vexed with the blog. I decided to blame all my "writing blocks" and "writing droughts" on the blog. Life has changed, at least it is in the process of transformation, so why should the blog persist in its old dull look. Today morning, all the energies were gathered and focussed on this miscreant blog. Hence, the makeover.

Well yeah, life is changing, isn't it. The times are changing. Eh, no! I am not referring to the 2009 to 2010 change, the new year concept is so blasé. We are referring to the changes in circumstances- the progress from a student to a doctor to a jobless unemployed person. And we are revelling in the new situation. Me and my doctor self are enjoying the leisure immensely. Nevertheless, it is strange that even in such circumstances of having absolutely nothing to do, there are so many things to be done, that requiring a todo-list doesn't even sound like an exaggeration. Incredible are those atoms that make up tasks, works and such kind. Their ability to appear spontaneously, expand indefinitely and fill up any vacuum can only be comprehended by those victimised by it.

Anyways, any comments on the new look are welcome, any calls for the old look are prohibited. Any suggestions for improvement will most probably be politely ignored ;).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the royal land of the kings ...

The first couple of travelogues on this blog, composed some 5 years ago, were about some trips in India. After that I have blogged about Japan, UK, various other places in Europe, flights back to India and all that, but no trips within India itself. Well, because I never went on a proper trip inside the country. Until now. I am not sure how and when I decided that I should visit Rajasthan, but it lodged itself strongly in my plans of what to do in the 'unending' vacation after PhD and it happened ... yayy :).

Jaipur - Pink city, first planned city by an Indian, and other such known accolades. What struck me most were the huge roads and relatively sparse traffic (relative to the cities like Hyd/Blore of course). Only the old city area is crowded. It is also the area that is most pink ;), has lines and lines of small small shops selling all the traditional stuff in the old fashioned way! The city does seem to make an effort to retain its pink hue. The famed 'Hawa Mahal' can only be gazed while passing by on the road and it only stands out only because of its unique design. So is the palace in the middle of the lake - no entry for us mere mortals. It is beautifully adorned with soft (somewhat pinkish?) lights during the night. One place which is more welcoming is the Amer fort (pronounced as Aamer but strangely, spelled as Amber in English :-ss). It has recently started a "Sound and Light show" to narrate the history of the fort and Jaipur and so on. Was pretty good, but since the fort was so majestic and the Rajputs so frightening, there were no wars or attacks. Hence the show concentrated more on the cultural aspect. Thus, wasn't as pulsating as the one in say, Golconda :P. Also had some awesome local food aka "world famous food of Jaipur" thanks to our local host and his knowledge and car :D.

Udaipur - Many many lakes abound inside and outside the city. A beautiful palace in the middle of the central lake and a much grander palace on its banks. The 'city palace' as it's called is huge. I guess, one of the highlights is the crystal gallery of the King which displays such ornate glassy stuff that you begin to wonder at all that grandeur, and at the point of amassing them :P. The other supposedly must-visit places in the city are not really must-visit. But they are advertised by all and sundry ranging from normal auto-wallas to the day-cabs to hotel receptionists. There were two highlights for the time in Udaipur. One was the gondola ride to a hilltop from where we could gaze at the whole city, including the palaces, as the sun set and the lights came on dazzling. The other was an unexpected trip to a lake outside the city and the subsequent meandering treks in the hilly growth along the lake. The lake was absolutely serene and the only other living beings we encountered were three swans!

Jaisalmer - Golden, brown, Golden hue of the sand. It was all golden golden! This quaint place was definitely the best looking part of the trip. The whole place was built using only yellow sandstone! Saw a few Jain temples and also a memorial for warriors which contained several of them set together. And then went on a drive of 40Km to the 'dunes'. Arrived at a resort kind of a place, managed by the local villagers, who took us to the sand dunes on camels. Yeah, a camel ride to the desert and return for some performances by their local artists followed by sumptuous Rajasthani buffet. And then we were planning to camp in the desert, in the dunes, in the dark, stare at the sky, shiver in the cold and sleep with a bonfire. But the organisers persuaded us not to, since we were the only people daring to do so, and it was too cold for them to organise it for us. They even returned our extra payment for the camping, and instead took us on a night-time desert safari on a jeep. On our way, we came across many deers and the ride transformed into almost a deer-catching effort. Despite the various tricks and clever tactics of the driver, the deers were too quick and too alert for them. I didn't know that deers populated the arid regions! And peacocks too, so many of them in the wild! In fact, camels were the ones not to be seen in the wild - all of them were domesticated :P. When we had a bonfire in the middle of the 'safari' the starry night sky was just magnificent. I don't remember the last time I was able to see so many stars in the night. Let us all pooh pooh the light and air pollution of the urban areas :P. And then, there was the fort of Jaisalmer. It majestically looks over the town and is all golden as well. It also houses lots of people who live in there and sell souvenirs to tourists amid other activities.

Jodhpur - It's tries to be blue, all blue. We were there just in transit. The city attempts to be blue and many of the buildings are painted blue. But doesn't look all that natural like in Jaipur or Jaisalmer. Also quite hilly around the borders with a huge fort on them. Quite a bustling city compared to the tiny Jaisalmer :P.

Throughout the trip, we visited quite a few Jain temples. It was the first time I had visited them and was an interesting experience to see how different yet how similar they are to Hindu temples. All the cities are surrounded by hills, upon which forts have been built. The food in any place is devourable, and the 'pyaaz kachoris' are just irresistible. Also, with so many Marwaris and Jains abound, non-veg food is a rarity in the state ;).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vacate ... vacant .. and now going home!!!

After complaining about it for almost a week, on thursday, I had set upon the task of clearing my desk/drawers/shelves in the lab. And, it was pretty easy. It mainly required throwing away several kilos of printed paper into the recycling bin. These pages were basically versions of my various papers, reports and thesis filled with the supervisors comments. I don't own any books in the lab and haven't stored anything much there either. So, all my stuff from the lab eventually fit into a single small backpack. It mainly contained the binded final version of the reports and thesis.

Thursday evening had the so called farewell party with my labmates and was awesome :). Oh, and how did feel to have been vacating my desk? Not very pleasant perhaps, after all, it had been somewhat my home for 3 years! Yeah, my actual house did change over this 3 year period, but my desk and my lab had been a constant...

And in 10 hours, begins the journey home! In an Airbus A380-800, that is the huge huge double decker plane :D! And with that, officially begins my joblessness vacationing period of 70 days at least. Well, not that I have done any semblance of work since the thesis corrections. It's mostly been partying and partying :D.

And now, we move onto a completely different topic. Since, I am finally trying to ease back into my voracious reading mode, here is an interesting extract:

=====
"You are now bored of talking to me now and you will let me pass unhindered"
"Gosh, good try. But I'm afraid I'm not. Actually, I'm going to eat you"
"You aren't scared of limes, are you?"
"I am frightened of nothing!"
"Nothing?"
"Nothing"
"Are you extremely frightened of nothing?"
"Absolutely terrified of it"
"You know, I have nothing in my pockets, would you like to see it?"
"No, I most definitely would not", and then he disappeared.
=====
Nothing matters. It most definitely does!

The above extract is from the novel I read this week "Anansi boys" by Neil Gaiman ... its a somewhat farcical, somewhat fantastical kind of comedy. Let's say, a non sci-fi Douglas Adams kind of a book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ages ago, how did i blog?

As most of the earlier posts on this blog would attest, I used to write (to be understood as 'type'; when will these two words become synonymous rendering pen and paper into antiquity?) without any particular topic in mind. I used to ramble, falter, and continue to blabber. More often than not, the title would precede the post, even though, neither it and neither I knew what the post would end up containing. Those were the days that I didn't have to think for a post, I just had to login, click on new post and voila, the post sprung up, though, it might have been quite meandering and direction-less. But, one cannot hope to forever possess such skills. Nowadays, most of my posts start with a purpose in mind- perhaps to blog about a trip or an incident or about any such topic. Of course, the occasional abstract post and ad-hoc fictional paragraphs do make an appearance in the blog, but only seldom.

But that's not it, there are more frightening afflictions plaguing us. Lately, I have often felt the mood to ramble, to set upon a voyage of abstractness, sail across streams of incomprehensibility and type out my mood aka feelings, with gusto, in a language that is clear to all but rarely understandable to anyone. Yet, I haven't been able to do so. By the time, I am all set to start typing, I realise that my fingers have gone numb, the thoughts had fizzled away and the mood had become indecipherable. And, the post remained un-created. It faced, not a discerning audience (that's you readers, revel in this 'platitude' :P), but the ignominy of being deemed silly before it even had the chance of being born to argue its case.

Thankfully, this post suffered no such fate. It wriggled itself out into the world and is now left at its mercy. merci.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

tag tag .. post for no reason

Oh, did I say I don't do tag-posts? But then, there are exceptions, especially when ordered by agentyne in her post which was followed by a tweet as well ! Though, let me warn you, this one has too many points .. way too many!

Notation: £=yes, $=maybe

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink $$ [bought everyone I 'know' a drink] :P

02. Swam in the actual sea [I should learn swimming properly, first!]

03. Climbed a mountain ££ [in Scotland .. even blogged about it, I think]

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive [should first learn how to drive :D]

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said "I love you" and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Water-skiied

11. Visited Paris ££ [posted about it too]

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise ££ [those times at IIIT]

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa/Qutub Minar $$ [been to the Pisa tower, but didn't have time to walk up :( and at QutubMinar, walking up wasn't allowed then ]

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables $$ [does coriander count? :D]

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars ££ [quite often when I was young and we used to experience all night power-cuts :D]

20. Changed a baby's diaper [and don't want to, either !!]

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower ££

23. Gotten drunk on champagne $$ [the drinks included copious champagne, but didn't solely consist of it :P]

24. Given more than you can afford to charity ££ [but then, I won that amount as a prize, in a hard fought competition by the way, so was okay :) ]

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope ££ [wasn't mine]

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight [what does this even mean? fight with food or fight over food? :P]

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger ££ [no story there, didn't succeed :P]

30. Had a snowball fight ££

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse ££ [aah, those young "inquisitivish" days]

34. Ridden a roller coaster ££

35. Hit a sixer that won the game [just wish I did]

36. Danced like a fool and didn't care who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment ££ [often often :D]

39. Had two hard drives for your computer ££ [of course .. what's 7 years education in computers for, anyway? :P]

40. Can name all 27 states ££ [always can .. rock at Geography .. Su will testify :P]

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk ££ [quite a fun activity it is :D]

42. Had amazing friends ££ [what do u mean, "had" !!]

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country ££ [refer to some similar point above to understand more details :P]

44. Watched whales $$ [tiger sharks should also count right?]

45. Stolen a sign/damaged public property

46. Backpacked in Europe ££ [do you actually need proof? :P]

47. Taken a road-trip ££ [in europe, of course]

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving [would have said yes, had this been 'gliding' :P]

51. Visited Kashmir

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love ££

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them ££ [it still counts, even if it was during a conference right?]

54. Visited Japan ££ [ofcourse :D, first trip abroad ever :D]

55. Tried to make a buffalo move when it sat down in front of your car [rofl]

56. Alphabetized your CDs [I dont have CDs !!]

57. Pretended to be a superhero [why to pretend? :P]

58. Played 'Antakshari' in a public place and sung really loudly without caring about the onlookers.

59. Lounged around in bed all day ££ [more times than I would admit :D]

60. Played gully cricket ££

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain ££

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites ££ [how much ancient? but am sure I have visited places ancient enough :P]

70. Taken a martial arts class ££ [for a few months in school; all I learnt was the colour ranking of the belts :D ]

71. Played a video game for more than 6 hours straight ££

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie [no because they didn't select me, said I looked too young :P .. am not lying! it's true !!]

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days [am sure I would die, I have no food reserves in my body anyway!]

77. Made chapatis from scratch ££ [yes yes]

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. White water rafted

82. Been on a television news program as an "expert" $$ [well, I was interviewed by TV crews regarding my 'sci-fi' achievements and did appear on TV, though not in a panel or something! ]

83. Gotten flowers for no reason [never got flowers even when there were reasons! :P]

84. Performed on stage ££ [quite a few times, once I even had a 'double role' since a person playing another character failed to turn up and I knew all the dialogues/scenes since it was my script anyway .. ahh those school days :D]

85. Been to all states in India [this is a toughie!]

86. Recorded your own music $$ [a single song counts? without instruments? only lyrics and tune!]

87. Eaten shark and preferred roadside 'bandi' food [would always prefer bandi food compared to any sharks anywhere!]

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house $$ [it's just a plot of land and well, I did pay for most of it ! :P]

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship [I guess small ferries don't count :(]

94. Spoken more than one language fluently ££ [some wouldn't agree about my fluency but then, they are just too finicky]

95. Performed in the National Day Parade in New Delhi/your city

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold ££ [quite a few times, a weak fainting child I was!!]

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country ££ [Austria is exotic enough!!]

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over ££ [well, moved to another country and started a phd .. am sure that counts!]

101. Walked the Howrah bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car - with the windows open - and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication $$ [will school and IIIT magazines count? :P]

106. Lost over 10 kgs $$ [lost 7kgs in 2 months :P not that I wanted to!]

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback [flashback? what's that? I need clarification!]

108. Piloted an airplane $$ [engine-less plane aka glider counts right? and also that I had the instructor sitting just behind me, doesnt matter?]

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone's heart [now now, why would I do that?]

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show [not that lucky]

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol $$ [to shoot balloons? :D]

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse $$ [it was less of a ride and more of a stroll :P]

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Spent the night at a railway station $$ [airports count as well I guess!!]

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period ££ [very often, very very often :D]

123. Spent the better part of your life outside India $$ [define "better part"]

124. Visited all 7 continents [one of my to-do things in life :D]

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi ££ [in Tokyo and absolutely hated it!!]

128. Had your picture in the newspaper ££ [on one ocassion, most of the local newspapers had my picture :D]

129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school [ as a reunion? :P]

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach ££ [it touched me!!]

133. Eaten fried ice cream ££ [didn't like the coconut covering though]

134. Read 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey' [tried and failed miserably]

135. Selected one 'important' author who you missed in school, and read $$ [missed most authors in school anyway :P]

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions [used to go when I used to be in Hyd!]

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language ££ [it is not so hard! Japan taught me that :P]

139. Been elected to public office $$ [this is too long and controversial to talk about here :P]

140. Written your own computer language [that would be crazy]

141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream ££ [yes yes I did]

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care [what is that?]

143. Built your own PC from parts $$ [I chose the parts but someone else put them together :P]

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you [me and art? rofl ! ]

145. Had a booth at a street fair $$ [fairs in schools also count? :P]

146. Dyed your hair

147. been a dj

148. Shaved your head $$[I love my hair, but my hair was shaved when I was 3 or something, not with my consent though ]

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone's life [no, but my life has been saved often :D]

whoa .. managed to finish this epic-tag post .. so, am i also supposed to tag someone now? baah, no one really blogs much anymore ... sad state of affairs!

Friday, November 13, 2009

post-defence ramblings + abstracts

./restart abstractness
[about to start] ctrl-s [long break] ctrl-q [memory blank] [vocabulary found wanting]
just a simple question: did you ever get anything right at the time that you desired it most? or has it always come late, too late that you no longer cared much about it?
Or is it the other way round? Those that you don't manage to obtain become more and more desirable, and those that are on their way lose their attractiveness such that by the time you actually get them, you have lost most of the interest?
Either ways, it's a pity, "ain't it so"?
#ctrl-c

Oh! by the way, I felt like rambling the below few bits, a week after my PhD viva .. but never really got down to posting the post .. anyways, here it is [was written on 4th or 5th nov ]

A lot of people in the lab are apparently aware of me and my name. People who I never thought knew my name (and hence couldn't have really figure out who passed their defence just through the mail announcement) are coming up to congratulate me. What can I say, some people are more popular that they thought themselves to be :P.

Almost a week of partying .. finally ends with monday of work. Oh yeah, I still have some work left, namely, the post-viva corrections that ought to be done for the final hard-bound submission. Monday was spent in work from like 11am to 11pm (with breaks ofcourse :D) And then a rigorous tuesday evening of work .. and voila, they were all done! and then after ratification from the examiners+supervisors, will have to give for the hard-binding which will take 7-10 days!! No idea, why it should take that long !!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dr. Mythalez

The PhD post!

The past three years basically came down to this.
In fact, the 20 years of my education comes down to this- "Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science" aka Ph.D. ;)

So, herewith, the author of this blog should be addressed as Dr. Mythalez. :P

Friday, October 23, 2009

a post just for the sake of it.

a post about disjoint unrelated whatever-comes-mind topics:

Electric showers are like M$ Windows. Very simple UI but assume that the user is stupid and only give him/her limited easy to use options. Manual 2-tap showers are like Linux. Smartly designed and gives the user the power to configure it just as he/she wants it to be.

I think I am finally getting tired of the blah concept. Yeah, I still believe that everything in the universe is just blah. But that belief doesn't get one anywhere. Of course, there is actually no point in going anywhere, since everything, as I had just reiterated, is just blah. But again, life doesn't seem very worthwhile if there is nowhere to get to. After all, given my attitude and given the social environment that I have been exposed to over the years, I need to be running towards something. And that something should look worthwhile enough, at least from a distance. All that this abstracty rant basically boils down to is this- I need a goal. The next goal. The goal towards which I can start my run, again.

Oh, by the way, is this what 20 years of "education" is going to culminate towards?

Oh, another by the way, it seems quite fun to act aka behave so as to leave someone guessing, slightly confused, somewhat puzzled and caught up in anticipation ;).

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cyprus - sun, sea and blue sky

To find a relevant conference in Cyprus was quite a surprise. And it was quite at the right time with the right focus as well. However, even after the paper was accepted, a lot of issues cropped up, some arbit, some crazy, that continually questioned the trip.

£! Paper: On all my previous paper uploads, spread over 4-5 yrs?, I was very cautious and made sure it was perfect and satisfied all the formatting, protocols et al. This time, had to be an exception. The organisers complained to me about the camera-ready version (the version that is actually published in the conference proceedings) not fitting in with the requirements. I had forgotten to include the keywords and my bibliography style was all wrong! Okay, okay, I admit it was a easily rectifiable issue.

£! Hotel: Okay, next step to going to a conference would be registration (which was easily accomplished, thankfully) and accommodation. As there was no online form provided by at the conf. website, I first called up the hotel. They asked me to send a mail with the details. So I did. No response. More than a week passed! I mailed again. No response! I got tired and called them. The person complained that their servers had some problem but assured that my room will be reserved for me all right (since he recognised that I had called earlier as well). But another week or so passes and I still get no confirmation. The conference dates were inching closer and I started worrying that no places might be left at that hotel. So, I called again and this time the right person picked up, the one who is responsible for room bookings and she got it done in a few minutes .. whew!

£! Flight: Found the most suitable flight and gave the info (a clear printout) to the group secretary to make the booking for me. He got it done via a travel agent, as is the norm. All fine except that my name on the ticket had a typo. So, I had to pray that the security at Heathrow and again those in Cyprus do not notice the discrepancy in the names on the passport and on the ticket/boarding-pass.

£! Visa: I luckily had Schengen visa until beyond the conference dates, so I felt relieved that for once, I won't have to run around consulates. But, I did make a fatal assumption- that Cyprus was part of the Schengen. I did remember seeing it in countries list of Schengen and assumed that was it. Just 3-4 days before the flying date, Su aka Pseudeone questions me about the visa and I assure him that I have everything under control. Then, just to be sure I check only to recoil in horror! Though, Cyprus signed the Schengen agreement it apparently did not implement it yet! Which meant, that a separate Cypriot visa is required to enter Cyprus!! I was flabbergasted. Then I did more research and found a few websites including some consulates of Cyprus that stated in confusing jargon that residents of UK countries holding a valid Schengen visa and having visited other countries using it, are allowed to enter Cyprus. But then, did I qualify? Will I be allowed?

Cyprus looked quite familiar. In many ways, it was similar to India. Ofcourse, they too were under British occupation for a long time and have a similar sunny climate. All this meant, that everyone knew how to speak English (not necessarily perfect but easily understandable English). Every sign/notice/hoarding displayed the matter in atleast two languages- greek and english. The structure of the buildings were as modern and as ventilated as those in India. In fact, if you were just given a snapshot of some buildings without including any people, you can be easily fooled into believing that it belonged to some Indian town! Yes, it was quite in contrast to the rest of Europe that I had been to. Generally buildings seemed to be modern construction with open plans letting in lots of air, containing balconies and terraces and such kind. Next to the roads would be dry open sand and rocks and not wet mud covered with grass or concrete like in western Europe.

Cyprus is a popular tourist destination. But you would mainly find British and Russian tourists only. Infact, apparently lots of Russians have moved there and settled permanently after the breakup of the Soviet Union. As I was told, these Russians accumulated money during the communist era and brought it all with them to Cyprus when they left after the end of the Union. Thus, all the hotel menus list the dishes in three languages- Greek, English and Russian ;)

Another similarity with India would be the unending political problem of the division of Cyprus, invasion by Turkey and all that. Rings a familiar bell? :P

It is a very expensive country. Yeah, it is much more expensive than even UK. And very touristy as well. Oh, and there are a huge number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants who work in these touristy hotels. It was quite surprising but then when you think about it, not so much. English is the language spoken and hence they are employed, and hence they migrate for a better lifestyle :P.

Now, we can get down to specifics of my trip :P. The conference was in this 4-star beach resort and thats where I stayed for 4 of the 5 days. It was very posh. The poshest hotel I have stayed in until now, ever! It had its own private beach, 3-4 restaurants, a couple of more bars and so on. And all that extravaganza made sense as we realised that many tourists seemed to just stay in the hotel for the whole week and so. They would just lie by the beach, swim for a bit, lie a bit more, use the swimming pool, and lie around more, while using the dining facilities around. They never ventured out to do the other touristy activities like sight-seeing :P. Ofcourse, most of the tourists were basically old retired rich people. And then, there were a few other kind of tourists. British couples, along with their families and friends, who came all the way to Cyprus, to this particular resort to get married by the sea, on the pier. Everyday, a wedding took place there! Insane!

For the first 3 days, when the conference was being held, I couldn't do much other than enjoying my room or by the beach in the evenings. On the last day however, a friend (from the conference) and I hiked for 2 hours along the beach to reach an archaeological excavation of what is supposedly the oldest city/port of the country called Amathaus. Oh btw, We were in Limassol- the second largest city of Cyprus, after the capital.

The second last day, I was picked up from the hotel by the family of my friend aka ex-housemate, who is originally from this city [lucky me ;)] to be taken to their place. That's where I spent the weekend. My friend wasn't there obviously (she being in the UK and all) but her parents were excellent hosts and showed me around the city, the castles, the ancient town nearby and all that. That evening, another friend (cousin of my ex-housemate) came by to take me to her house and also show around a bit more of the city.

The last day, I left early to go to Larnaca, another city, the one which contains the airport and went around a bit, enjoying the marina and all before flying back to Heathrow.

So, is Cyprus worth visiting? Definitely yes, if you want a relaxing break by the sea side. The intense blue sea is serene, the waves are gentle, the air is refreshing and the food is good. Most of all, it is completely hassle-free. Except for public transport which is practically non-existent. Everyone there owns a car apparently, so rent one if you want to go around a lot :P.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

and we go home again!

the typical trip:

£ as usual, book the flight tickets less than a week in advance. and book them right immediately on the same day that the decision to go home was made.

£ as usual, go home for a little more than 3 weeks.

£ as usual, have a really strong reason to go home. this time being, having nothing to do after submission of the thesis :P

£ as usual, blog about it just the night before the flight ;)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PhD thesis submitted !!!

i don't remember since when i have been waiting to announce this, and write a post regarding it. definitely more than year! yes, people everywhere and nowhere, the PhD thesis is now sealed and desposited for 'examination' aka 'viva' aka 'defence'. this procedure involves professors both internal and external to the university grilling me regarding all aspects of the thesis and beyond for as many hours as they choose. my supervisors would be just mute spectators in the room. the examiners apparently tend to question both the higher purpose of the thesis (like why it is significant or novel) and also the minute details (like how and why this particular parameter was chosen). anyways, since this is scheduled for end of october, I pretty much have more than 40 absolutely free days staring at me :D .... yipppe !!

\begin{bragging}
£$€ - 123 pages of PhD thesis [quite on the smaller side but as is said, the smaller the thesis, the better and more precise it is ;) ]
€£$ - 3 years 14 days [would have been much less than three years if not for the vacations my supervisors and I have taken over the past 2 months]
$€£ - consumed approximately £37,000 as stipend and more than £40,000 was paid as fees on my behalf by the school to the university [yeah, it is a strange system :P]. also several thousands of £s were spent to provide for my various conference attendances ;).
€$£ - considering the problems and ill-health faced over the last many months, the fact that i still managed to complete on time deserves applause :P
£€$ - there should be more points to brag about, definitely. but i don't seem to be able to recollect them right now :P.
\end{bragging}

okay, now that we are done with this, let us evaluate my current position:
%& am jobless and workless and thus not even being paid a penny by anyone.
&% am going to become homeless soon as I have decided to give up my room/house at end of this month.
%% have no job offers yet, haven't actually applied anywhere that i might want to, don't even know what kind of job i would like.
&& ................. ...... .... .... .... .... [intentionally left blank to represent several points ;) ]

fine, now let the celebrations, packing+storage, travel etc etc begin !!

Monday, September 14, 2009

print .. bind .. submit!

so, after 20 days, we revisit the thesis process.

in the meantime, that is, while Nr was reading the thesis version, i was busy doing other things, also going to Cyprus, attending a conference, presenting a paper, enjoying the calm sea and so on. and i return today to find his commented version on the desk.

and no real comments! even the abstract which i expected to be mauled had only one word-change suggested! working on these comments took less than 30 mins. and I was ready with the thesis version to be submitted!!

ofcourse, i had skipped writing the "acknowledgements" section until now. even Nr pointed out that atleast something should be written there ;). and so i manufactured one in a hurry and voila!

here we are, with the ready pdf .. for 5 copies to be printed, bound and submitted!

and that will be done tomorrow ..... !!!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

day49 - day50 pretty nifty!

day49 - tuesday - put up the appendix graphs and describe the results and why they don't matter, hence why they ended up in the appendix intstead of the main part.

day50 - do the small itsy bitsy changes that were noted down in the process over the last 50 days but never acted upon. and ofcourse, write the abstract .. finally! and done!!

the second version of the thesis is now ready for your perusal :P.

so the statistics:
£ around 125-130pages depending on how i compile it.
£ 50 days of procrastination + work + weekend
£ 35 posts of this blah!

next post might arrive when Nr and Nj look at this version and suggest any final changes..... am sure they will, especially for the abstract .. it is quite amateurish ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

day43 to day48 - all posts are late :P

day43 - revised chapter 5 aka Empirical Evaluation ... had to battle with lots of justifys, whys and why-is-the-graph-so warriors .. tackled them all except for the easy one requiring a figure to explain how a parameter works ..

day44 - revised chapter 6 aka Conclusions/FutureWork .. the earlier version of future work was somewhat massacred by Nr, but his questions did help in the process of raising it from the ashes again :P. the last paragraph has been left out .. apparently, world peace, cure for cancer and time-travel arent enough .. we need more wider and general direction for future work as well .. will work later when in the zone ;)

day45 - the example for chapter 4 .. something that has been delayed for so long .. and we find what? that a somewhat preliminary version already exists in the minithesis .. it is just a matter of copying and updating it .. and so we do .. not much of a task at all !! and follow that up with revising all the figures that demanded touch ups and the new figure that was left out yesterday.

day46 - saturday .. what do you expect?

day47 - sunday .. why do you even bother?

day48 - anti-appendicitis = generating graphs for the second part of the appendix. also generated input and started running the final set of experiments for this set of graphs. also took a look at the abstract that is to be written and gave up for the day.

\begin{abstract}
It is all blah!
\end{abstract}

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

day42 - the bolt and the blue

soon the day will come when this blog will tire of these pathetic thesis posts and rebel against the author. it will not let him login, not let him add more of his asinine daily commentary onto the burgeoning web. it will try to banish all those incongruous posts and hope to go back to its original state of bliss. and it might fail and fade into oblivion. or i might finish with the thesis before the blog loses patience with me. let us hope for the latter :P.

revision of chapter 4 wasn't tricky. well, almost. all of it was done except for the example part. yes, we are back to struggling with the infamous examples. we need to extend the running example to explain this part of the thesis as well. i knew it was coming, even while i was writing this chapter and consciously ignored to add the example. and now i will have to do it .. tomorrow?

also started the revision of chapter 5 aka Empirical Evaluation. most of the comments seem to be "why" or "justify". blah, i say.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

day41 - on the run?

i took a skewed weekend break, that is, friday and saturday and half of sunday. no, i didn't sincerely go to lab on sunday afternoon, but i did make attempts towards work and revise some of the second chapter aka Related Work. however, i was being too lazy and too smart for my own benefit and skipped most of the tough comments and tackled the straightforward bits only.

that meant, my work today turned out to be much larger than it looked. the morning was anyway devoured by references for the camera ready version of the workshop paper. an annoying issue i cant care to elaborate :P. and the afternoon, this chapter was revised to what i now hope is 'almost' perfection'. and attention can now be focussed on chapter 4 aka Adaptation.

Friday, August 14, 2009

day37 - spruce

finally, we have the pleasure of creating a new directory. and copy files carefully and lovingly :P. yes, the work on the next version of the the-sis has begun!

and i chose chapter 3 for the honours. it had the least number of comments and Nr had even praised it. yeah, it is an extremely rarely occurrence of Nr appreciating my writing. in fact, anyone's writing i think ;).

also, didn't have to stalk Nj for his set of comments. luckily, found him in a nearby bay, discussing something with some student and waited patiently with a keen eye for him to get ready to leave and then caught his attention and then put forward my demands :D.

done with chapter 3 and then turned the attention to chapter 2 aka Related Work. it is always the most hated part of anything i write. somehow. even just revising it seem to be quite annoying :D and that made me quit for the day.... lagging quite behind in the revision process

Thursday, August 13, 2009

day36 - dealing with the appendix

hey .. that rhymed so naturally :D

so the not so particularly important glossary was made proper. the other part of appendix that are those no-value-adding results. you see, sometimes while describing an experimental setup, i claim that i am showing results with these parameters only and not those because their results are also similar. thus, i was doing the good thing of not adding redundancy. however, these redundant results need to be included in the appendix for the sake of completeness and to prove that we weren't fibbing and being lazy :P

also, i can now start the revision. but where are the comments of Nj on all the chapters? haven't received them yet. should i start stalking him now? ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

day35 - refine to refer

due to the post-chapter-completion-lethargy disorder, my feeble attempts towards work were mostly futile.

the only saving grace was that i managed to clean up the bibliography, and cite the references in the proper format now .... was using a stop-gap arrangement before ;)

tomorrow, we shall 'gloss' the thesis :P

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

day34 - back with a wham bam?

finally, after 20 days, i am back to the great task of continuing the thesis writing. the last chapter awaited. given that it had been effectively postponed for 3 weeks, it kind of deserved some respect. or so we thought. but less than 5 hours after i sat down to tackle it, it was done. there it lay in front of me, staring expectantly at its own fate :P.

the first part of the chapter was the "Conclusions", which was basically a summary of the summaries of all the chapters until then. wasn't too hard to write. the second part is the more interesting "Future Work". i wonder why we need that in a thesis. do i really intend to continue working on this topic beyond my phd? also some not-so-well-acquainted-with-research might question, if you do have future work, how come you are already done with your phd? :P. Nr had advised me that the future work should be written such that it is not too close and too small to the thesis contributions. otherwise, we would be making the task of a nagging examiner easier and he/she would question why this future work is not already part of the phd thesis ;).

anyway, i looked to Su aka nikheel for inspiration and he suggested the "cure for cancer" and "world peace" as two probable tasks that i might consider listing as part of "Future work". i also wanted a third task. he suggested "warp speed", whatever that meant. but i felt that "time travel" would be more suitable. as you see, once time-travel is solved, there will never ever be any need for listing any future work as all work of the future can be easily obtained by travelling to the future. thus, the problem of "Future Work" can be resolved once and for all, if only someone takes up my suggestion of "time-travel" as future work ;)

oh, by the way, the last chapter has also been sent to Nr and Nj. tomorrow, might be the day to work on the glossary, refine the references, and ponder about the appendix!

Friday, July 24, 2009

temporary break

no, i did not miss out posting about this yesterday. there was nothing to post! thesis writing has been put temporarily on hold. so we stop this phase at day33. next phase might begin after 2 weeks!!

until, the blog will be back to its normal duty. that would mean rare posts and completely non work related posts :P.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

day33 - was completely work free!!

and not really my fault. due to other appointments, only managed to go the lab in the afternoon. and soon thereafter, had to leave the lab for other appointments :P. so no work.

oh, by the way, there is a problem regarding the expected submission time for the thesis. yeah, writing it as quickly as i seem to be, doesnt seem to help much in the long run. that is because, i will be taking 2 weeks holiday starting next week. and soon after i am back and all set to work on draft-2, Nr will be on vacation for 2 weeks. So, he wont be able to read my draft-2 until he returns at the end of august. and since i will be on vacation next 2 weeks, i wont be able to give draft-2 to Nr before he leaves. so, all in all, the chances of submitting the thesis before september have almost evaporated now. but yeah, according to Nr's estimate, the work required to be done from now on until the submission time of the thesis needn't be more than 3weeks !!

but since, we dont have overlapping 2-3 weeks until september, there is no point, is there? :P

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

day32 - chapter five has gone live

i surprise myself with my sincerity :P. as i ought to, read through the results section in the morning. edited the simulation parameters section. generated good colour version of the graphs and then went through it all together and then mailed to Nr and Nj.

what to do next is the question? one chapter is remaining - the "Conclusions and Future Work". Future work? what should i write in future work? i don't intend to do any work in the future. and i dont expect anyone to extend this work for the future either ;). even if someone's wants to, he/she can go make up his/her own research questions. why should i blabber something now for his/her benefit? notice how i have painstakingly used both genders while referring to this hypothetic future researcher? given the extremely "large" number of women in cs research, i guess am being a bit too hopeful :P.

i had a look at another thesis's last chapter to see what should be written in these concluding chapters. it was huge, 15 pages long. my main meaty chapters are of such length. even, if i dedicate a page to every section in my thesis, i won't end up with such a big chapter. anyway's will look at this chapter work later.

so instead of that, considered writing the appendix, basically a glossary of all the terms. also considered making a camera ready copy of the workshop paper. yet, did nothing. completing the chapter seemed enough achievement for the day :P

Saturday, July 18, 2009

day31 - experimental fun

chapter 5 = Empirical Evaluation

it's all there in the journal paper. why not just copy paste and forget all about it? oh yeah, increase the size of the graphs. somehow bigger graphs mean better graphs? and what about the tables with the other results? make them bolder ?

oh yeah, so this is the second last chapter.. to talk about the experimental setup, the parameters for the simulations, the simulations and then their results. and finally, why the results are the way they are. somehow, it has always been very easy to explain the results. particularly its vagaries, the uneven flows and all that. can always find a convincing excuse for any surprising bends or turns ;)

so yeah, more than half of the chapter was done on the day in just 3 hours. all of it could have been done in another couple of hours .. but who bothered!! :P

so, to finish the chapter and to move onto more complicated things on monday

Friday, July 17, 2009

day30 - time was thrifty?

whole day was taken up by other work related activities ..
not my fault !!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

day29 - next chapter in line

proof read and sent over chapter 4 to Nr and Nj.

no more work could be done today or can be done tomorrow due to other assignments.

whoa, that sounds very very formal eh? :P

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

day28 - chapter 4 has no more weight

chapter 4 = Adaptation.tex
the tentative chapter 5 has been scrapped and put into chapter 4 as another section!

and the initial part of the chapter also written today, diagrams modified and everything done. all this took just 3 hours today.

was supposed to be proof reading it now, but too sleepy. so this blogpost ends now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

day27 - chapter 4 has begun

and then we have some days, in which i start working soon after i reach the lab, and the work gets quickly done, and no procrastination at all except for the sleepy period after lunch, and all the expected work for the day gets done much before the time you expected it to be done!!

the day started with the decision to vanish chapter 5. well not exactly, but to merge it with chapter 4 so that now my thesis will have only 6 chapters. and of this merged chapter, more than half of it was completed today. ofcourse, it mainly involved merging and copying from minithesis and the journal paper, but still it was work and was done well. yes, am a glad soul for the day :P.

for a brief part, had to look at my code to identify the exact utility functions i was actually using. that was a scary time. i think i am quite relieved that i won't have to deal with this code anymore :D. that says a lot about my programming etiquette eh :D.

so, can we finish chapter 4 tomorrow? remember, by the original scheme, this would have meant finishing both chapters 4 and 5 ;). oh the funny part of this incomplete chapter 4 is that, i have finished the second half of it. the first half is actually waiting for its turn :D

Monday, July 13, 2009

para-fiction - title?

She was absolutely uninterested. But she really didn't have much of a choice. Being forced do this favour for her friend, she sat there with a fake smile trying hard to hide her boredom. Her friend was already lost in the 'oh-so-cute' narrations of the guy. This guy was, in fact, the actual reason behind her being subjected to such torture. In short, her friend was interested in this guy and wanted to meet him, so dragged her along to make the rendezvous look less conspicuous. Now, while her friend is continued to be mesmerised by the guy, his attitude and his lofty boastful stories have started to not just bore her but even annoy. And to add to the misery, the friend of the guy, who was supposed to join them, failed to turn up. She had agreed to tag along with her friend on the sole basis of the promise that there would be a fourth person to keep her company while the two soon-to-be love-birds got lost in their own cooing. But that obviously hasn't happened. Now, what is she ought to do? She certainly had no interest in being the third wheel and had tried making up an excuse and leaving, but they stopped her. They said that the fourth person, the missing guy, might turn up any moment. According to her, that moment might never arrive. In fact, now she wasn't even interested in meeting this guy who, by his absence, submitted her to such agony. As she kept getting more frustrated, she realised she was no longer in any mood of making small talk with a stranger and decided there was no point of her waiting anymore. So, she got up and announced her departure with a curt goodbye. She turned around and bumped into someone. Mumbling a sorry, she hurried away. The person looked mystified. After striding away a few paces, she suddenly stopped and turned around to look back. What if the person, that she bumped into, turned out to be the missing friend that she was waiting for all this time? He wasn't. "Not everything happens like in the movies", she reminded herself shaking her head and went home.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

day24 - no work and so no bore ;)

........................

Friday, July 10, 2009

day23 - example has been set free !!

am too tired now to blah much on this post. did work all day, without distractions (chatting doesn't count as a distraction) or procrastination. so, a few points

a reasonable, sensible looking, hopefully passable example scenario has been come up with, explained in all the relevant places with all the required twists and turns in the introduction and the third chapter.

the said example has been accompanied by xfig aided eps+tex files aka diagrams to display the twists and turns more effectively.

second version of the introduction aka chapter 1 and first version of the organisation modelling chapter aka chapter 3 have been sent over to Nr and Nj. Nr is only supposed to look at chapter 3 while Nj is supposed to look at both as he hasnt looked at chapter 1 earlier. so its 2nd version will be commented by him only. or so is the plan.

now i sleep. have a meeting with Nr and Nj in 10 hours.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

day22 - time for examples to brew

so the main job for today was to come up with a proper compelling, all aspects encompassing example of an application system that would require my model and then the adaptation methods to make it perform its tasks better. anyway, given the complicated system that i deal with, any example tends to be long winded and abstract.

and my extraordinarily poor exemplifying skills and strong exasperation towards such tasks make this job even harder. anyway, thanks to a labmate, who threw some ideas at me as i appeared to go bonkers with irritation, i think i have a reasonable example, just enough to gain a grudging okay from Nr. but then, i didn't write it up in the introduction or in chapter 3.

the day passed away before i even knew it. some days are short lived .. they just rush past you as if they are frightened by the night and don't want to risk being caught by it. did that make sense?? :P

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

day21 - writing is not much fun

the mornings are generally delayed with the "catching up with the world" activities otherwise known as web-browsing to keep the self up-to-date, though it doesn't really matter. then the left over task from yesterday is attacked intermittently between all the chats.

and so, the pseudocodes were achieved using the not very confusing, but certainly a bit confusing algorithm style in latex called algorithm2e.sty. don't ask me what the 2e stands for, go and ask the author! with that, chapter 3 was all done except for the several examples that ought to be given. they are present in the older minithesis version but are now obsolete and have to be suitably enhanced. did i mention before that i hate giving examples? one of the examples of the activities i hate the most is providing examples.

so, instead of doing the thing i hate, i turned my attention to the comments and questions of Nr on chapter 1 aka Introduction. of course, several of them pertained to the examples that had been given in there and their apparent lack of "compelling factor and convincing abilities". and most of the other remarks had me go 'aaarggh' (that is 3 a's) with exasperation. of course, when acted upon, each of these remarks have the hidden ability of making the text clearer and more straightforward.

however, some remarks are just too painful and i wish dearly that i could ignore them and that they would disappear into oblivion. but that will not happen. even if i ignore just one remark and send back the improved draft to Nr, given the robotic mode that he uses while reading his student's drafts, he will make the same remark again even though he needn't remember having made it the first time. his robotic reading algorithm is quite deterministic in these aspects!

but then some comments have to be ignored for sanity's sake. like, just next to where i defined 'self-organisation' by copying the definition from a well known paper, italicising it and citing the source, his comment reads- "what is self-organisation".

oh yeah, i have finished version 2.0 of Introduction by working on the comments. except for the examples ofcourse. okay, so make it version 1.4 ....

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

day20 - it is all a bit 'haunty'

so started work a bit more sincerely today. and to reward my sincerity, the progress was painstakingly slow. started work on chapter 3 aka Modelling Agent Organisations aka Agent Organisation Framework and so on (yet to decide on the title). almost all the the work today involved following steps:

€ read a section/subsection from minithesis and corresponding part in the workshop paper
€ copy from workshop paper and paste in the file (file is basically a copy of the chapter file from the minithesis).
€ modify as and where required.
€ ignore and sidestep the paragraphs refering to the examples and highlight this fact and the pending jobs with some eye-catching CAPS and ====s.
€ repeat for next section/subsection.

all of it is done except for the examples and the pseudocode for the algorithms. the examples will take a lot of time, a lot lot of time. especially since, am yet to come up with a nice, strong convincing scenario to use as a basis for all the examples in the thesis.

at home after dinner, started working a bit on the introduction chapter by trying to answer the questions and justifications asked by Nr. gave up soon enough, having been flustered and exasperated with an increasing air of helplessness. ;)

Monday, July 06, 2009

day17 + weekend = ?

decided not to go to office aka lab on the friday i.e day17. convinced self that i will try to get some work done from home itself, atleast the easy parts of chapter3. but what do you know, as is invariably the case, never got round to even making attempts to work. not my fault majorly. most of the time was consumed by the wimbledon semis.

saturday or day18, i managed to revisit my code, specifically the input generation part, that had been lying unwanted and unattended since march, when results for the journal paper were obtained. and after reminding myself of what files did what and how, which i tend to forget with time, ran them to generate input. later on, copied some of the relevant simulation files and started some runs as well on that input. why am i running experiments now, you wondering? (you should wonder, incase you didn't bother to yet). i had just been silly and sincere to suggest that some graphs can be added (in the appendix) to the already existing ones just to backup the claim of the independence of results from unrelated simulation parameters.

and on sunday, finally opened the OrgModelling.tex file and completed two sections. both of which were basic copy paste from the workshop paper, with very little editing required. when i came to the part which required some actual work, the tennis finals got underway and thats it. blame roddick and federer for using up my afternoon.

Friday, July 03, 2009

day16 - chapter three is to be?

took me more than a couple of hours of sitting at the computer to copy create OrgModelling.tex file. ofcourse, the supporting files were copied from the minithesis and the recently submitted workshop paper. the relevant part in the journal paper is not required because that is superseeded by the workshop paper. anyway, copying these files and staring at the new file is the only work done for the day....

Thursday, July 02, 2009

day15 - adieu to literature review

so finally, this pestering chapter has been done for now. fitted in two papers of my external examiner in some way - no criticism but stating how it is not particularly useful in my context. also wrote up the paragraphs surrounding the major sections - you know, those that state what the sections contain and then summarise what the section contained :P. also wrote the final summary section of the chapter.

then compiled them all using the proper thesis formatting, the correct cls file and all. i had compiled and sent the earlier chapter using some random article format, but Nr is insisting he gets to look at this stuff in the correct format only. by the way, the dvi to pdf and the ps to pdf converters on my fedora are screwed up. they always tend to push up the contents and make the top margin almost disappear. i hate them, still use them, by hacking the cls file.. tch tch

gave this chapter a read through and sent it over to N{r,j}.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

day14 - chapter2 is almost seen

did not put many hours into this work today. yet the amount of work accomplished with respect to the hours put in is pathetic through an objective observation. but then, trying to summarise papers precisely into 2-3 sentences while also specifying why they aren't sufficient for what you seek is not easy.

yes, most of these additions were discussed in recently written papers, but those discussions have to be expanded upon. at the same time, i strangely came across a few papers that i had read but forgot to include in my recently written papers, but at the same time are relevant in some ways. so new stuff had to be written afresh. while writing about such new stuff, i also came across more stuff that is somewhat relevant and to be included. one such paper actually cites my workshop paper :D. i didn't know that any of my phd papers had any citations yet. but apparently they do!

and the final task involves, properly citing the papers of my prospective external examiner. can't afford any kind of slip up there. shouldn't criticise too much, if at all, and definitely not on a false basis. but at the same time should be clear on how it fits with what we seek and how related/useful it is, if at all, for us. have left this last task for tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

day13 -- ominous, it has been!!

no work was done over the weekend i.e day11 and day12 keeping in with the low expectations.

started relating the work by reading through the chapter2 of the mini-thesis written 15 months ago and modifying it where required, which wasn't much. ofcourse, a few references have to be added and discussed, but these were present in the recently written papers, so it isn't particularly hard. precisely, the reason why this has to be the easiest chapter to write now.. ofcourse at the time of writing the minithesis, this was one of the hardest chapters to write.

stopped towards the end of the chapter, where most of the additions have to be made .. yes, once again, i leave the toughest part of the work for the next day!

oh yeah, Nr came back to me with his comments on the "Introduction" or chapter1 and they were many... very very many .. and given that it was just a merger and composition of already written/published/approved introductions, it is amazing that he could still manage to come up with so many questions. the "unending deathly spiral of reviewing" as has been proclaimed by skp. it seemed like a deliberate action on Nr's part to further dampen my already dipping enthusiasm .. yet i persisted and shall persist! so say we all ;)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

day10 - next chapter when?

yeah, "chapter1 - introduction" has been all written, read and sent over to the N's.

now i feel a bit silly to have procrastinated 3 working days and 1 weekend for a job that eventually got done in 2 days :P.

today, in the little time that i did spare for the thesis, proof-read, refined and sent over the chapter1 and then accumulated the relevant files for chapter2 - "literature review" or "related work" or any other suggestions for the name?

Friday, June 26, 2009

day9 - chapter one is fine?

let's make this short. yeah, so the chapter one is all written now. will have a read through it tomorrow sometime and send it off to Nr and Nj.

the sections remaining from yesterday, took much more time than expected. what do you know, it is not so easy after all to succinctly put down your claims towards "advancing the state of the art" and demanding a PhD :P. another tricky part was where i ought to list my papers, produced during the phd, and point out which one details which particular contributions. it so happens that one of my papers is completely unrelated to my research topic, yet i didn't want to exclude it from this listing (especially given that i do not have many publications anyway ;) and this one is an award-nominated one! ). so, with some trickery of words, i managed to add it at the end of the list.

remember how i was a bit worried that the general length of the introduction of the theses i looked at was more than 12 pages while what i had from my minithesis was just 4? well, now that i look at the size, it comes to 11 pages! no, i did not make any effort towards the size. formulating the chapter properly and putting in the requirements, contributions etc itself made it so long!

next focus will be chapter2 = "literature review" or "related work". i doubt that i will start it tomorrow :-s.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

day8 - chapter one .. almost done

since the structure of the introduction was made somewhat clearer by yesterday's hurried activity, it was much easier to start work today... and i did!

began at the beginning and started playing around with the sentences and paragraphs that have been sourced from various earlier written material. had all of those files open as well. every sentence that i had to place, i would end up reading its original file to understand the context and then move it accordingly. so, it was more like a game, a sentence arrangement game. i don't think i wrote any sentence afresh!

also, created a few sections to make the progress of the motivation part of the chapter much more streamlined and effective. but i do wonder whether this kind of division into sections will pass the "Nr test" (Nr = primary supervisor). so the introduction basically contains a lot of paragraphs initially which give a motivation to the work of the thesis. next part is the 'requirements' section which precisely states what all we seek or what the objectives of the work are. that is followed by the 'contributions' section which lists what you have achieved, also including the papers published and making a case for why you deserve a PhD. and then the last part desribes the thesis structure, which i had already written yesterday.

so yeah, i was midway through the requirements section when i had to leave today. the initial motivation part is all done and that is also the toughest and is more than 3/4ths of the chapter anyway. and even if none of you believe me, i was actually so involved in the writing that i had to drag myself out and forcefully save/close the file.

once it sputters to a start .. the rest is a strong smooth flow ;) .. lets hope that starting the next chapter won't be as tough.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

day7 - finally get going

- okay, i only had a couple of hours to spare for thesis writing today. unlike yesterday, when i had the whole day at my disposal and did nothing, i did make use of these 2 hours today!

- starting trouble is always the toughest to overcome in my case. once i start, the work proceeds at a much smoother pace until that part ends and another part (like the next chapter) has to be begun. and the process repeats. desperately need ignition sparks which are generally provided by impending deadlines.

- to overcome this menace of "non-startery", i decided to focus on the easiest section in the introductory chapter-- "Thesis Structure" describing what the rest of chapters of the thesis contain :D.

- with the little momentum that was gained and the little time that was remaining, i decided on the structure and flow for the introduction chapter, and copy pasted the relevant parts from the papers/minithesis in the required order. so, they should all be edited, connected and made sensible and coherent now.

that's all for today. oh, the rest of the day was spent in the hallowed city of Oxford!

Monday, June 22, 2009

day6 - _________________

day4 and day5 were weekend, so no progress was expected.

day6 = today = no work what so ever. don't ask!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

day3- Introduction.tex

I was advised to begin from the beginning. Not the very beginning i.e contents, abstract or acknowledgments :P, but from the first chapter, which is the introduction. but how do you introduce something that is yet to be created? so, you look at how others have done it. got the chapter from the guy mentioned in the previous post, lets call him Ar. But his phd is a bit diverse, that is, he has worked on several problems and is tying them together. i do not have such issues. my thesis has a single focus only. so, had to look at a thesis which is as empirical as mine, along with having a single primary topic. and so i did. both of these "chapter 1"s scared me. the smaller one was 12 pages long. i had a look at the introduction from my minithesis (or 18month transfer report) and it was just 4 pages. and i have no idea how to 'introduce' the thesis any differently. how my 4 page introduction from the minithesis is to be extended. a lot more motivation, with an example perhaps and a description of the method, which was lacking then (since it wasn't created then!). anyway, it was too overwhelming for me to continue anymore for the day! so that's it.

don't expect me to do any work over the weekend, so don't expect any posts either.

Friday, June 19, 2009

day2 - directory

almost forgot that i have to post today. one of the reasons for that might be because of the amount of work i accomplished today ..... as it is tending towards zero :P.

the closest i came to work on the thesis was to consider creating a directory. typed in mkdir 3-4 times but cntrl-c'ed on all occasions since i couldn't come up with a name for the new directory. 'thesis' seemed to bland and ordinary.

oh yeah, the other thing i did manage to do is request a friend (colleague!), who is about to submit his thesis (he had started his phd 3 months before i did), to send his first chapter. yeah, the 'introduction'. it is of course the most difficult chapter to write and the most important as well (dont expect many, if any, readers apart from the supervisors and examiners to read beyond this chapter :P). looking at his introduction will also give me an idea of the protocols to be followed, especially the way Nr would prefer it. these will include how to list the publications, how to list the claims of the thesis and so on...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

day1 - deadlines before we start

it is just past lunch, but i am already logging my efforts towards the thesis for today? well, that is because i know for sure that i won't be doing any more thesis work for the rest of the day.
what did we accomplish:

£ had the meeting with the primary supervisor (lets refer to him as Nr from now on), the secondary supervisor (henceforth referred to as Nj) was away to some conference and hence wasn't present.
£ discussed prospective completion dates = sept?
£ the chapter division of the thesis = 7 chapters, as expected
£ prospective internal examiner = the same one who examined the minithesis and the 9month reports
£ prospective external examiner = Nr suggested one guy (whom he knows to be a reasonable person in this regard) and asked me to learn about him and state if I have any "violent objections" regarding him.

special announcement - blog bday - phd thesis bday

first of all, let us all wish 'happy birthday' to mythalez's blog. it is 5 years old now!

i started this blog 5 years ago, on 16th june 2004, on a bored afternoon during the summer vacation at IIIT, as a silly undergrad :P. that summer vacation was also when i took my first tentative steps towards research in computer science, by working in AI via doing a NLP project and starting a multi-agent systems project.

today, 5 years later, quite coincidentally infact (trust me, it wasn't planned at all!), i submitted my 'intention to submit thesis' form. this form is ought to be submitted some 2-3 months before you intend to submit your PhD thesis. well yeah, i am yet to start writing it, but we, that is me and my two supervisors, hope that it will be done in 2-3 months. so, given this coincidence of today being the blog's birthday, i have decided to relate the two in some way.

i think writing a PhD thesis is once-in-a-lifetime occurrence generally (ofcourse there are a few crazy people who do more than one PhD) , and therefore it might be worth logging the process. hence, from today, i will be blogging on a daily basis and narrating all that i have done on that day towards my PhD thesis. and this painstaking blogging chore will be maintained until the thesis is submitted!

so, here we go-- today, i submitted the 'intention to submit thesis' form. [the end]

not a ps: mythalez of twitter fame had announced a competition for the 1000th tweet and the winner was to be commended in this birthday post. so, stand up and applaud vandz for her winning contribution-- "everything in the universe is just blah" which is in fact mythalez's own quote that she reused to participate. so, she won mainly due to the cleverness of her answer and not because no one else participated seriously :P.

Friday, June 12, 2009

thoughts ...

after more than a year, i started reading a book, any book. it is a very well-known novel "immortality" by milan kundera. regardless of that, i realised how much i missed reading. due to the perennial paucity of time, i managed only 40 pages, nevertheless i was so utterly engrossed and filled with thoughts as if the inner being just woke up again from deep slumber.

of course, the author is amazing and his insights are mostly of the 'wow' kind, but its not just about that. i realised i had forgotten to think. caught up in the grinds of the quickly passing days filled with something to do or postpone all the time, i haven't been giving enough time to the so called inner self.

as i have heard before, one's thoughts are one's most private and quintessential belongings. most inseparable and absolutely unobtainable by others. at least for now, until technology finds a way i guess :).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

buda pest wien wachau along danube

Okay, finally we shall talk about my 10 day trip to central Europe. The purpose is archiving and not entertainment :P. First stop was Budapest where the conference was held. And yeah, the conference was awesome. Well, it is the most important conference in my field and this time I had some proper papers to present :D. And one of my papers got nominated for the best student paper award. Of course that paper has nothing to do with my PhD. Of course, we didn't win. The results were announced during the banquet (which was on a boat cruising along the Danube river ;) ) √° la the Oscars or something. Also, my work got noticed by most of the bigwigs of the field. Yeah, they all know me, and my research pretty well now :P. And it was funny when I looked back and realised that I had applied for a phd under some of these profs back then. And now, they discuss my paper with their students in their group meetings and all :P. So yeah, pretty good conference. My room in the hotel was not just a regular room. I was staying at the conference hotel itself and had booked a single room just like the others. But some of us (including me) got a single apartment instead. So, it had a huge living room, a big bedroom and a well equipped kitchen as well!


Buda + Pest:

A city with quite a character. Almost all buildings in the centre are grand and majestic in some sense. And they are interspaced with grey, dull, communist era towering blocks. The Danube river divides the city into Buda and Pest and hence, quite a few bridges around. The sights across the river are the best. Definitely a city to visit. The hilly part i.e. Buda has the castle and really tall green hills while Pest is crowded like a any big city is. Pest is where most of the action is.


If you go out to dinner in Budapest, it will end up taking you 3 hours. Food wouldn't arrive for at least an hour after you order. True, this is valid in any restaurant there, guess it is an Hungarian policy or something! And when the food does come, it is huge. Really really huge portions. And very very heavy as well. The size of the starters there will easily beat the main course sizes in UK or rest of western Europe :P. Apart from the local language, German and Russian seem to be as or even more popular than English, going by the language in the menus. The nightlife there doesn’t end until late morning :P. Everyone seems to drink and smoke a lot. The most known hangout place is this placed called Godor which is an open area that was to have been the foundation for a big building. But the building plan was scrapped and it ended up being the centre of the nightlife there. There are some islands on the river as well which are also mostly abuzz all 24 hours of any day! By the way, the city also seemed to contain the most good looking girls in comparison to the other places in Europe that I have been to! Eastern European exoticism I guess?


Of course, English is not common there and Hungarian is bewildering to comprehend :P. Tickets for buses, trams or underground can only be bought from some ticket centres around and it is not easy to buy them. Ended up travelling ticketless for most of the bus and tram journeys ;). Also, the currency exchange is ridiculously confusing with 1£ > 300 Ft, so we were carrying notes each worth 20,000Ft and so on! The escalators of the underground system must be the fastest ever. The underground is pretty deep under the ground as well :P. In addition to general sightseeing, went to one of the famous 'baths' there. The really hot 80-90 C saunas are a very interesting experience. Especially when you jump into cold 16 C water immediately after that. It is supposed to be good for the skin, though it felt more like a shock+awe venture :P. Budapest also contains the second largest synagogue in the world in addition to other attractions.


Wein:

From Budapest, two friends (call them S and K) and me went to Vienna (or Wein as it is called by the natives :P)! Why you ask? Because, it was the closest must-see city. Skipped Bratistlava in favour of spending more time in Vienna. And it is worth it. Awesome city in many senses. Cultural centre, it does seem to be, with lots and lots of events happening and museums and theatres etc. around. Every building in the centre of that city deserves to be photographed. Amazingly grand architecture with rich carvings everywhere. Even the roof in a Burger-King place is artistic! Transport is easy with the really simple and modern underground system along with the trams. Too many tourists (like me) everywhere though. Some of the area around the Danube has been converted into a tropical island atmosphere with even an artificial beach! Also visited what might be one of the most famous apartment buildings in the world. It is quite unique looking, designed by a well-known artist claiming harmonious living with the nature and so on.


Austria is famous for its cakes and desserts and deservedly so. Did the standard touristy thing by having this cake at the hotel of the person who invented it 170 years ago! Ice cream shops are abound. Maybe, they have a rule that every person should be able to be within 5 mins walking distance to an ice cream, you know, something like a fundamental right! Dinner here is served much quicker :P. Managed to have the dish called cheese fondue which is basically bread that is to be dipped into melting cheese and consumed :P. Actually, next to the place where we had this, there was a 'Cafe Coffee Day' !! One of the few franchises outside India. However, it called itself 'Coffee Day' by ignoring the 'Cafe' part of the name.


Went to the opera in Vienna! I guess, there can't be a more fitting place to see an opera than the grand opera house of Vienna. It is after all the centre of all such artistic things! We paid just 4€ for our tickets while the highest priced tickets range around 300€ ! Of course, with these cheapest tickets, which are sold only 80 minutes before the show which you need to queue up for, we get no seats. So, we actually stand and watch. We went in mainly with the idea of seeing the opera house from inside, see what an opera is all about, and leave in half an hour instead of staying for the whole 3 hours of the opera. But we stayed till the end! The one we watched is called Don Giovanni, one of the most famous ones and it was awesome. Hilarious, entertaining and lots of fun. Thankfully, we had English subtitles to read as there were small, personal screens displaying the subtitles in front of every person. Now, I know what opera is all about :D. A tick mark against one of the things to do in life, I guess.


Wachau valley:

Went on a day trip to nearby area which is popular for its vineyards and fantastic views of hills along the Danube. First, visited a vineyard + wine making facility where they gave us a tour explaining the whole process and some wines to taste. After that we had a plan to take the ferry from that place along the river to a town farther away, but we missed the ferry due to this vineyard experience. We were then recommended to hire some bicycles and ride all the way to that town along the river, cross the river and ride back from the other side. Sounded great and so we set off at 5pm. We had to return the bicycles at 8pm. We went leisurely, stopping too often to take pictures of the beautiful scenery and visiting souvenir shops on the way etc. And thus, by the time we arrived at the other town and crossed the river, it was 7pm! So, we had to cover the return journey in half the time. And so, it was disciplined cycling with just one break in between. The cycle path was very convenient and extremely well marked.

We returned exactly at 8, just in time to hand back the bicycles before the place closed and before the driver's license of S was lost forever (he had to give it as a security deposit for the cycles). The cycle trip was 35 kms in total. I guess that is equivalent or more than all the cycling I might have done since coming to Hyderabad 13 years ago!


Dead exhausted, we were walking back slowly to the station to catch the train back to Vienna. On the way, we stopped at the tourist information centre which was closed, but with a free phone outside to call hotels/hostels for booking accommodation. S mistakenly dialed a place while playing with it and was not able to cancel the call. So, the people at the hotel picked it up and S just innocently asked them what time the last train back to Vienna was (It helped a lot that S is German). And they actually searched online and replied! The last train was in 10 mins and we were quite far from the station! So, we ran and ran and caught it, again just in time. And given that we were already exhausted, it wasn't an easy task at all. Just the fear of missing the train kept us going I guess.


The adventures of the day didn't end there. We reached Vienna at 10:30pm and were famished. But what places serve food at that time? Almost none! We had to scour the city centre for an open place and found one at 11:25pm. It was supposed to stop taking orders at 11:30 and close at 12. So we had one of the quickest dinners ever. Yeah, we could have gone to some McD kind of place but we wanted some nice proper food after all the hard work we had put in for that day! And after the hurried dinner, we had to somewhat rush to catch the last underground train back to the place where we were staying. Actually, we weren't in a hotel, we rented a furnished apartment for those 3 days as it was coming to be cheaper and better than a hotel.


Danube is an impressive river, quite blue and fast flowing. I enjoyed the trip a lot but it did come with a price— contrary to expectations, Budapest is not cheap at all and Vienna is expected to be expensive anyway.