MaWs Musings

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Welcome one and all to what by my hazy recollection is the tenth edition of MaW's Musings. It has been a week to write about, and write about it I surely shall. Some of it has been covered in my journal, so I apologise for those of you who read that and find this slightly familiar...

The Talk

The first thing I had to overcome this week was the dreaded talk for the Professionalism, Ethics and Quality Issues (PQI) module that is a compulsory part of my degree. I was one member of a group of six, and our talk subject (which wasn't picked by me) was "Quality as the result of a carefully controlled system". While we were developing the talk, I found twinges of panic creeping in at the edges. What was I going to say? How was I going to say it? Was I going to make a complete boo-boo in front of all the people listening (or pretending to, at least)?

Monday dawned, and so did a great many butterflies, all of whom were inside my stomach, fluttering for all they were worth. I fed myself a suitably large and reinforcing breakfast consisting of a large bowl of muesli followed by a large bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, and a mug of grapefruit juice.

Reaching campus on my bicycle a while later, I sat down in the terminal room, pulled up a copy of our PowerPoint slides for the talk and started re-writing my part. Why? Well, to put it mildly, it was directionless and going nowhere. After a half hour or so it was directionless and going nowhere, but at least it was a bit longer and matched the bullet points on the slides enough that I could actually be seen to be talking around them instead of saying totally random things.

A quick trip to the Union Shop supplied me with chocolate and Coca-Cola to keep me moving long enough to get to the lecture theatre, where we had some fun playing with the AV equipment while people were arriving. It's all controlled by a very nifty LCD touch screen, and we can't understand why the lecturers can never make it work right, because it's all very straightforward to me. We loaded up the presentation (supplied on Zip disk by Nigel, who had the job of making it look pretty), switched on the data projector and the microphone, and off we went.

John started the talk well and loudly (as expected), and Mark continued with his polished routine which seemed to come entirely out of memory. Then it was my turn. I stood up and babbled, glancing at my notes all the time and continually almost forgetting to mention things. Finally, after two slides of fast and furious talking, it was over, and Nigel took the stand, followed by Matt, while Jon-man gave out the flyers. And then it was over.

We sat through the two talks that followed ours, I was shaking quite a bit, but then we were out into the sunlight and air and it was over. What a feeling that was!

From the feedback, it seems like we did better than we thought. Apparently it didn't even look like I was reading from my notes, which surprised me because I was. A lot.

The Computer

With the talk out of the way, I thought I'd relax, until Monday night when I turned on my computer only to find it turned itself off again about half a second later. Frantic effort inside the case narrowed the problem down to the power supply, so it was onto the Internet to find out how much it would cost for a new one.

Thankfully, Mike then came along with his car and gave me a lift to PC World, where I purchased a replacement power supply and got the computer up and running less than twenty-four hours after I'd discovered it was broken. Thanks a lot, Mike.

The Coursework

Unfortunately, Tuesday was the day I'd set aside to do my Algorithms and Data Structures coursework, which was due in today (Wednesday). So on Tuesday morning, with my computer broken and my half-finished coursework locked inside it, I took my initial notes and cycled to the terminal room, where I sat down and thankfully was able to stay free of Writer's Block long enough to reconstruct what I'd already done, improve it somewhat and then finish the missing bits - all by half past two. As I write this, my coursework is lying in the handing-in box in the office, and most pleased with it I am. It won't get me the best possible marks, but it should be enough to hold my average grades up to a suitable level.

And before FABT wonders, I don't think it's any worse for doing it how I did it, because I was able to recall most of my original program that was locked inside my computer from memory.

The Interview

And finally, the interview came along. Thankfully, Frankie Roberto's not an especially taxing interviewer, since he doesn't do them in person on live TV, so it is proving less stressful than when I was interviewed on Radio 4 once (thankfully that wasn't live either). Look out for me in a future edition of the Frnakie Roberto Interview here in the Post.

The End

And now I finish. I still have things that need to be done, but the next panic doesn't need to start for at least another week. I'll see you then...


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