15 February 2008

No we haven’t forgotten

Writing blog entries has taken a low priority as Errol focuses on writing his thesis. For this month, he is endeavouring to write two literature review chapters dealing with research on learning to program and on learning theory. Both are requiring him to go back and reread material. In the process, he is endeavouring to ensure that he has electronic copies of the relevant articles so it is easier to search and find relevant material.

As well as writing, he had a trip to Palmerston North to take part in two research days for his old research group. This proved valuable as it enabled his two supervisors to meet and talk through the progress. It also helped clarify the roles that each of the supervisors would take as the thesis begins to take shape. One of the encouraging things about being involved in a research group is being able to offer ideas and possibly assistance to others. It is surprising just how easy it is to become stuck and not see a way through a particular problem. Others often can provide a source of encouragement or ideas that help overcome those problems.

Errol has also been using the Elvis Programming Research at Victoria University as sounding board for his research. This group has been very welcoming and offered a lot of encouragement. When possible, Errol endeavours to get to their research seminars as this provides another source of valuable input. The Victoria University Computer Science / Software Engineering group is extremely active and seems to be one of the few groups in expansion mode in New Zealand.

Despite the New Zealand governments recent announcement about young people needing to be in education or training until they are 18, we are hearing of more polytechnics that are laying off staff. Either our tertiary institutions are not providing the courses needed or people simply do not understand why they should take training courses if they wish to be part of the computer industry. I suspect that it is a combination of both.

We have been exploring the printing of photo books rather than having our photos printed and then putting them in an album. There are a number of companies offering this service online but they insist on having their own file formats and having the user download their particular brand of software. Often this software is quite restrictive compared with album software available from other sources. The finished books are like good quality coffee table books and are well worth the effort producing. If you don’t like the online services then it is possible to get your photo pages printed at a local copy centre and then find a binder who will do the same job. This is what we are currently looking at doing for our photos.

A nice thing about photo books is that the photos don’t fall off the pages or become damaged by what is supposed to be protective sheets. You can also add any additional written material in to provide a more complete record of the event. We have prepared one for Marilyn’s family’s Christmas celebration and we are looking at creating some as a record of our long trip.