morsla: (mantis04)
I'm changing where and when I work over the next month, and that's likely to flow on to things like where I post things online. For starters, I'll be working from RMIT a lot more often. It has fewer distractions, and no kitten biting me whenever I pay attention to a computer screen.

I'm trying to get a first draft of my thesis assembled by my birthday. Actually, a bit earlier than that: my supervisor is heading overseas for a month during September, and so I need it done before she leaves the country. That means I need an unholy amount of words written by the end of the month: good or bad, what matters right now is getting concepts from brain to screen, so that other people can help me carve them into shape.

To get there, I'm trying some new things. Strange, unfamiliar things, like writing every day (haven't done much of that yet) and not running off to start other jobs (research assistant work, layout, editing, painting) mid-task. It's a little disconcerting, realising just how often I flit off to do something else when I sit down to work.

I'm writing about it as I go, over on Wordpress: Project: First Draft. As there are only so many minutes in the day, that means I probably shouldn't be writing as much in here - though all this time in front of a computer is bound to lead to occasional blog posts when I take breaks.

Just in case anyone wonders where I've gone, I post short-form stuff on Twitter most often. Mid-range stuff (and travel updates for family!) have been going onto Facebook, but all that stuff will move to G+ soon as I prefer their approach to privacy settings. Longer stuff often doesn't happen, but when it does it's being posted to Wordpress or (occasionally!) here. So I might not be here much, but I'm not far away...
morsla: (lookin)
It feels like late on a Friday night.

It's not, of course - compared to recent bedtimes it's actually bloody early, and it's Wednesday. A lot of people are out celebrating various things, though... lots of Christmas or end-of-year parties, RMIT's graduation extravaganza, [ profile] mousebane's 21D magazine launch. [ profile] aeliel has just had her final day of work with the students around. I at home with my feet on the desk and the speakers cranked up, enjoying my first listen to Pendulum's recent-ish album.

It's been a long time since I posted anything in here, though, and I felt like writing something. Between LJ, twitter and facebook I read an awful lot these days, but rarely feel like writing more than occasional spur-of-the-moment tweets.

November was a mess, much as I thought it might be. Four back-to-back conferences and three interstate trips combined forces to leave me feeling exhausted - fascinated and inspired, but exhausted nonetheless.

When I got back to Melbourne, deadline season killed me and took my stuff. I should have seen it coming, but it always shocks me just how hard the bastard can hit.

I've typeset 436 pages in the past six days, for two study guides. I've also written material for the Virtual Safe project report, due next week. Late at night, I've finished two long overdue painting commissions. I've done another PhD interview, and worked on a chapter of my thesis. I started up a LinkedIn group for the CRC research students, and still have a couple of layout jobs to finish next week.

It's not healthy, and after a few weeks of redlining it, it's not a lot of fun either. I seldom reach bed before 1am, haven't slept before 2am in weeks, and generally get up before 7am. I'm beginning to feel the strain of keeping focussed on all the things I need to finish each day, in order to reduce tomorrow's pile. I almost wish I still drank coffee, but I need steady hands for my painting.
morsla: (nope)
Feels like I'm trying to keep lots of things in the air at the moment. I suspect that the next month will only get more hectic from here.

I'm now in the interview phase for my PhD. This means that I need to find people running small businesses and using social media - of any type (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, Last.FM, posterous, YouTube, Tumblr, etc). I've split the sample into three groups: 10 each of Hospitality, Retail and Services.

I have about ten so far, and need more. I'm sending out more emails this week, but will probably still need another 15 after that. Ideally, I need to interview them before the end of September. If you know anyone who might fit into the project, please let me know. I'm hoping to get all 30 from the greater Melbourne area, but may need to look further afield if I have trouble filling the quota.

Next week, I fly up to Brisbane for the CRC participants' meeting. I think I'll head up on Tuesday night, as I need to be there before 9am on Wednesday - and the thought of a 6am flight doesn't thrill me. Should be an interesting day, with lots of different presentations happening. I'm presenting my research at 2pm, along with a few of the other students.

I took today (mostly) off work, and (mostly) managed to not work on the weekend. That's the first time in ages that I've had three days away from the various different projects. It's been awesome.

I also just bought two plane tickets to Christchurch in September. I think that a week spent climbing mountains and walking along glaciers sounds like a great way of guaranteeing that I can get some time away from work :)
morsla: (mantis04)
Three P's that are consuming most waking moments at the moment. And in the heat, I'm spending most of my moments awake.

We now have a working phone line in the new house, which I assume Netspace is responsible for - it's now been a week since I called about setting up a new connection. Unfortunately, the phone connection doesn't actually appear in our Netspace control panel, and so isn't available for me to relocate our broadband connection to...


I have corrections and updates for one and a half study guides (National Politics Units 3 & 4, and International Politics Unit 1). In the next few weeks, the remaining chapters for IntPol Unit 2 will arrive, and then there's an Economics guide due in December. Due to major changes to the course, the Economics book is being completely re-written for 2010. Judging by the number of tables and graphs in the current book, layout for the new version could take quite a bit of work.

I'm going home at lunchtime today to work on the Politics books. I could work from the air-conditioned comfort of my windowless box at RMIT as I'll be using my laptop. Unfortunately I need a proper mouse for InDesign, and mine has just run out of batteries... and I'm loathe to buy more rechargeable ones when there's a box of them at home.


Three Ulthwé walkers, currently almost finished. I've been asked to add rare-earth magnets to all the possible weapons, so I still have a handful of weapons to finish painting today. I hope the house isn't too hot to paint in.

Four Imperial Guard tanks, assembled and ready for magnets in all the optional bits. I'd like to buy an airbrush to paint these with, as there are many more of them on the horizon. Unfortunately a decent double-action airbrush and compressor (reserve tank, pressure regulator, inline moisture trap) are likely to cost around $500, so I might have to paint them by hand.


Literature review chapter has fallen by the wayside. I've gathered a bunch of articles to read through, but as it's not directly needed for any other tasks it's been put on hold at the moment. I still feel like there are dozens of articles that I need to track down, though I'm not sure if that feeling ever goes away.

There's a student conference for the CRC in December, up in Sydney. I'll be flying up early on the Tuesday morning, going to training workshops during the day, and presenting a poster the following day - and then flying home on the Wednesday evening.

I'm starting to wade through the paperwork for my Ethics Application, as I need approval before going any further with the research part of my project. Most of it should be pretty straightforward (while I'm dealing with people, I'm not trying to exploit them for anything) but there are many, many pages of forms to fill out. Most of it will feed into my Methods and Methodology chapter though, so it's still a useful exercise to do.

In non-work news, Sunday was our first wedding anniversary :) [ profile] aeliel and I spent most of the day lounging around the house, and cooking or eating lots of good food. We've also started unpacking wedding presents that have been in storage for the last year, so it's like receiving them all over again, and actually getting to enjoy the gifts properly this time.

Some time soon we'll have a housewarming (once we have furniture for people to sit on, and fewer boxes full of stuff). Ye been warned!
morsla: (Default)
Kinda busy this week - there will undoubtedly be a bit of lag on replying to emails, checking messages, etc.

Settlement for our house is happening today, and I spent yesterday chasing up last-minute problems with paperwork and finance. The vendor is charging penalty interest for the delay, so we'll try to get some money out of St George as the mistake was theirs. Right now, my bank account is empty.

The Business Plan entry is being assembled today, and is due by 9am tomorrow. We've spent the last three days on it, and have overhauled a lot of content. I have one more bit of industry research to write up, and then I'll spend the rest of the day working in InDesign.

Marketing brief and press release are also due tomorrow.

~320 pages of interview transcripts need to be read before the Small Business project meeting on Thursday. I'm putting my long train trips to use, looking for themes and quotes from the data.

Project summary for Small Business project also due on Thursday, for our progress report.

Briefing day for the Business Plan presentations is held at Ernst & Young on Monday 7th. I'm becoming the official "team leader" as I'm a full-time student. That also makes me the lead presenter, so I'll be fielding the majority of our questions.

30th Birthday is on Saturday 12th! Never have I felt older than in the past two months. Haven't organised anything yet - will try to wrangle something next week.

Business Plan presentation materials due by Friday 18th. These will need to be in earlier than that, as I won't be in town then...

In Brisbane for GenCon from Thursday 17th - Monday 21st. I'm running Warmachine demonstration games on Friday and Sunday, and playing in a timed tournament format on Saturday. Louise is running a freeform on Saturday afternoon. I forsee much Arkham Horror, cocktails and good beer during the evenings.

Business Plan presentation is from 3:15pm - 3:45pm, Monday 21st, followed by a media interview. We present to a panel of eight judges, all of whom are professional investors. Apparently I'm supposed to wear "corporate attire," though I don't actually own any such clothing.

I also need to re-book my flight back from Brisbane, as I'm currently due back in Melbourne after our presentation starts...


Jun. 6th, 2009 09:41 pm
morsla: (Default)
It's been a while since I posted in here... I've been a bit buried under PhD stuff lately, and have tried to avoid boring everyone by putting it into a separate blog at [ profile] lineofthought.

I'm starting to work out what I'm studying, which is a good thing. The project has been slowly developing from "I'd like to see how small businesses are using the internet these days" to "how are small businesses promoting themselves online", to "so, how and why do people adopt innovative technologies?"

By extending the project into innovation (adoption, management, etc) it becomes much less of a marketing thing, as I'm really not a marketer. I am interested in learning about innovation, and how best to persuade people to adopt new things.

To take an oft-cited model, Rogers created five different categories: Innovators (first to adopt new things, risk-takers), Early Adoptors (high degree of opinion leadership amongst the other categories), Early Majority (self explanatory), Late Majority (prefers to wait for stable, safe technologies) and Laggards (aversion to change).

Or, if you'd prefer: Moore's variation

So, because I'm curious: which category do you generally consider yourself a part of, when it comes to using the internet? Assume that you're rating yourself from amongst whatever bit of society you most commonly interact with. If you have any other caveats, feel free to leave a comment :)

[Poll #1411938]
morsla: (Default)
Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub,
It is the centre hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel,
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room,
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there,
Usefulness from what is not there.

Okay, so it may not have been intended specifically for lit reviews, but it's still worth keeping in mind...
morsla: (mantis04)
It sometimes feels like all of the last week has been eaten up by computer-related issues. My Macbook finally arrived, and has been set up for the RMIT and home wireless networks. That last one took a while, requiring half an hour on the phone to Belkin in order to successfully diagnose problems with the new wireless modem router... but now I can use a computer out where it's warm, instead of freezing in the study.

Using the same computer at home, work, and those lost hours betwixt the two has been great. I no longer need to set up a desktop every time I get to work, so I can actually work instead. Given how much work needs doing at the moment, that's a Good Thing.

I still haven't printed anything for my project (partly aided in this by RMIT, where I haven't set up have printer access yet). If I need to refer to emails during a meeting, Gmail works fine on my iPod. When I need to keep copies of websites for research, I've been printing them to PDF. A lot of the interesting stuff on web2.0 tools for small business promotion tends to appear in blogs, so I'm building up a bit of a collection.

I've also resurrected an old(ish) livejournal to post PhD-related stuff in: [ profile] lineofthought. The next bit of the project will involve interviewing some small business managers/owners about how they use the internet - particularly in regards to marketing and promotion. If you run a small business, or know someone who does, let me know... we're looking to do about 20 interviews over the next month.
morsla: (Default)
The RMIT pay office finally realised that I've been working for them since the beginning of February. This is good! It means that my bank account isn't full of negative numbers any more, and I can pay some of the bills that I've been neglecting lately.

Also, I've just recieved a formal "offer of research place" letter, which I promptly signed, scanned and emailed back to the Graduate Office. This is also good! It means that the CRC is making some headway on the task of convincing RMIT that I'm actually a student. I need to enrol by next Tuesday, as it's the government-imposed census date: if things aren't sorted by March 31st, I will need to wait until Semester 2.

Hopefully that will mean that I spend Monday and Tuesday completing the enrolment process, find a way of accessing journals from home, and then bake a thank-the-gods-that's-over celebration cake for Wednesday's meeting.

Next on the list is finding out how to purchase a MacBook using some of my support funding, getting said computer ASAP, and then transforming into some kind of superhuman literature-reviewing machine. The assessable part of my lit review is due in a fortnight.

Also: Grass is growing. Paint is drying. Watched pots still not boiling. News at eleven.
morsla: (lookin)
I'm playing around with different ways of managing references at the moment.

Today's experiment is CiteULike. I'm sure plenty of you have been using it for years, but I hadn't really looked into it before. It's a social bookmarking site, broadly similar to but with an academic focus. The usual features (tagging articles, seeing who else is reading them, following up on what other people are reading) are all present.

It has a few nifty features. You can rate papers in order of reading priority (ranging from "Top Priority!" to "I've already read it!"), letting it function as a to-do list (sort by tag, and then by unread articles in order of importance). You can also store PDF copies of journal articles on the site, which helps if you're working from several computers like I am.

The Neighbours feature looks like it will be handy for tracking down other people with similar research interests...

It's currently being a bit buggy on this computer (profile and library haven't updated after I posted the first article, and I can't manage to stay logged out - any link to my profile automatically logs me back in to the old, cached page). I'll try it when I get home, to see whether I can find out what's causing the problems.

I'm working from RMIT today, borrowing someone else's password to log in to "my" computer. Still not enrolled, though letters of offer (for other students) have been sighted in the past week. If I'm still not in the system by next Tuesday, I'll have missed the census date to enrol in my coursework...
morsla: (Default)
I now have (or had, when I checked on Wednesday morning) a desk at RMIT. This is good!

Unfortunately I don't have a key to get into the PhD room, or a pass to get beyond reception on the floor. Despite going to weekly meetings since the start of February, the receptionist won't actually let me in before the meeting starts - lest I become the sort of "unaccompanied visitor" that departmental emails warn about, marauding about the workplace. Fortunately the reception area has comfy couches.

Apparently, most of my problems stem from the fact that I don't actually exist. If I seem to have spent a couple of months drifting phantom-like from one meeting to the next, it's actually because I'm not real. My days of freedom appear numbered though, as I've heard rumours that my enrolment forms may have resurfaced.

One day, they promise, I'll be a real person. Real People (tm) can have access cards and keys issued to them. They might even be able to buy a computer and get access to the IT network, though nobody is willing to make any guarantees on that. After becoming a Real Person, I can even enrol in (and submit assessment for) the Research Methods course I've attended for the last three weeks.

morsla: (mantis04)
So, last Friday night I recieved an email addressed to "Dear Prospective Student." It gave details for a compulsory Business Research Methods course, running from the 2nd - 18th of March... held in the city from 9:30 - 12:30 every weekday. It's trampled all over any plans I had for the current fortnight, and reintroduced me to the wonders of long public tranport trips.

Four sessions on qualitative methodology helped, as I have a much better idea of what everyone else is working on at the moment. Today's session (a three-hour overview of statistical methods) wasn't nearly as relevant to my project, so the rest of this week may be a trial. I also seem to be representing the "Other" demographic in a class comprised of economics, accounting, finance and management students... today, someone commented that I looked like "someone from a creative industry" because I have long hair. I wasn't quite sure how to answer that.

I'm actually spending more time on the train than I do in class. Many hours on the Frankston line are steadily eroding my compassion for humanity.

In other news, still not enrolled at RMIT yet. That means I'm still waiting on a student number, IT access, library access, building access, and a place to work. At least the CRC was organised enough to confirm my scholarship back in January... although nobody seems entirely sure how the scholarship works, so I'm now entering my sixth week without being paid. I haven't found anyone who can tell me whether it's an RMIT issue (need to be a postgrad student first) or a CRC one (in which case, what the hell is going on?).

I've spent the past few weeks working out of a backpack, drifting from cafe to foodcourt throughout the city. It seems I've successfully turned into a Wandering Scholar, though I haven't noticed any epic kung fu battles yet.
morsla: (lookin)
I just got a PhD scholarship offer! Actual paperwork will show up at a later date, but the electronic version is still reason enough to celebrate :)

Now I can start making some more solid plans about what I'll be doing next year. Hell, with a three year contract this is more job security than I've ever had...
morsla: (Default)
Today I recieved a flyer and application form for the Smart Services CRC PhD scholarships.

The two documents do part of their job well: saying "so, how sure are you that this is a good idea?" In terms of project or PhD information, they aren't so great. The CRC is quite new, broad in focus, and all the project information is much like you can see on the website above: nebulous statements about eleven research areas. All of them sound fascinating, but there's precious little information on exactly what is being done, and which locations (VIC, NSW, QLD) are doing each part.

Given the nature of the research, it seems only fair to look for some other ideas and perspectives via this journal... I'm particularly interested in hearing from those of you who are doing, have done, or have lived with people doing PhDs, but any and all feedback is welcomed.

Edit: to clarify, I have had a chat with two potential supervisors already. I'm mainly trying to work out exactly what it is that I want to do, and whether a PhD is the best way of doing it.

What do I want to do?
Narrowing things down from "everything at once," I'm looking a buying and selling online - from a small business perspective. I want to look at how businesses are using the internet to interact with customers and suppliers, and how their customers are using it to find and purchase things. I'm particularly interested in how niche-market operators can access national or international markets, to create businesses that could not sustainably exist on a local level.

Application criteria

Lets look at my doubts first. I don't have an H1 honours degree - I missed out by one mark. That's the first criteria in the application form. Also, my honours degree isn't directly related to the PhD.

On the plus side, I have a broad background that should help in a multidisciplinary area of study. I have a BSc (Chemistry and Geology, Geochemistry honours), and a Grad Dip in Professional Communications. I also have an unfinished BA, including a full major in History and Philosophy of Science, and a scattering of Media and Communication subjects. I'm good at observing what people do, and fiinding out how and why they do it. I'm comfortable working in highly technical environments and translating jargon and concepts into plain english.

I run a small online business, and know many others in the first few years of establishing their own. The promotion of niche-market small businesses, the use of online banking and other payment methods, and the use of forums and other community tools are all vital to what I do.

Demonstrating knowledge of the current academic literature:
Another stumbling block at present. Beyond reading FirstMonday I haven't really followed the literature so far - the last few years have been entirely focused on actively working on the business from a practical perspective. If anyone can recommend some reading material I'd love to hear it - leave a comment here, or send bookmarks to my account.

As [ profile] aeliel will testify, I have a brain like a sponge, and a tendency to obsessively consume new areas of interest. I can do a lot of reading between now and next year, but I'm unlikely to read as widely as I would like before the application is due.

I'll add more to this post later (must get back to work!) but I'd love to have people question my sanity and point out obvious stumbling blocks I should be aware of... the more questions I have to ask myself, the more likely I am to work out whether this is a good idea or not.

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