So, its the nicest day so far this year and I had to spend most of it cooped up in a residences common room being taught to think critically about my (and other people's) writing. Yes, it was time for more Transitions (the university's professional skills training course for postgraduate researchers). I shouldn't really complain though, as this block (spanned over yesterday and today) was quite a lot more useful than the first one (which was just fun).

We discussed the content and style of thesis writing which was very enlightening. I was all pent up with the worry of having to write some beautiful epic summoning every ounce of style I could. But it seems that coherence of argument takes precedence over quality of writing. Thats very reassuring!

We also looked at effective reading of articles and books which was quite interesting, though most of the content was just common sense - "skimming" and "scanning" for structure and keywords, reading with questions in mind and writing rough response afterwards.

Despite having said of the first block that it was interesting to work with a full cross-section of disciplines, I think that working with just arts and humanities students here was quite helpful. It meant that we could, for example, disregard the distinction between very empirically based studies when examining articles and focus more on opinion and philosophical concerns. Though, of course, the social scientists have a strong emphasis on methodology and results.

I've come back upstairs to find the KDE laptop monitor broken which teh annoying as I rely on it to make my processor fan be quiet by setting the performance profile to conservative. But I found the relevant command which I'll need until KDE laptop daemon is fixed and I've put it in a script called

echo -n "conservative" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor

Ah, silence.

Posted Tue 06 Mar 2007 16:58:00 GMT

Wow! There are places between Norwich and London. I don't think I've ever really paid attention on the Liverpool Street train before, but today I've to a place in Suffolk - Snape, to be precise, to demonstrate the SnapeScape Online project I've been working on with Mike Challis.

I was quite impressed with the set up they have at Snape. Its part of Aldeburgh Music, itself an extension of Benjamin Britten's Aldeburgh Festival. They've converted the Snape maltings into an 800-seater concert hall plus bar, restaurant, various little touristy shops and offices for Aldeburgh Music (including a number of iMacs!). The code that I've been working on intermittently for the past, er, year? maybe, worked fine and they seemed quite impressed. The concept is a Web-delivered audio mixer using environmental sounds from Snape. The code consists of a PureData patch on the server-side which accepts OSC commands for control and generates an MP3 stream served with Icecast back to the client. On the client-side is a Java applet which consists of a list of the available sound sources and a circular control with an "audio cursor" (shaped like a little microphone) in the centre and eight slots for sound sources around the outside. The user drags sound sources from the list into the slots on the circular control to activate them. Dragging the audio cursor around the control makes a sound source louder in the mix as the cursor is moved towards a sound source and quieter as it is moved away. Behinds the scenes, the actions performed on the applet are translated into OSC commands sent back to the server to manipulate the PD patch.

It all seems to work though, of course, there are latency issues which will arise as a result of working over the Internet and from the MP3 encoding. These I like to describe as a sort of Web aesthetic - Web stuff is often slightly unpredictable, slightly broken, but Web literacy teaches users to be somewhat sympathetic.

So I got to have a look around Aldeburgh (found Britten's and Pears' graves) and around Saxmundham (the closest railway station to Snape) and I also paid a visit to the Britten Pears Library who "consulted" me about XML interfaces to databases a couple of months ago.

I'm on the train back now. The Saxmundham to Lowestoft was late so I missed the connection to Norwich and had to kill some time in Lowestoft (I won't say anything about Lowestoft), but apart from that, a good day out.

Posted Wed 07 Mar 2007 18:57:00 GMT

Well? Do you?

Posted Mon 19 Mar 2007 17:27:00 GMT