Friday, October 31, 2008

bringing it to the people

It's been a hectic couple of days, but very rewarding. Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at the 2008 ACT Intergenerational Forum, an annual community-based forum (ie not a an academic conference) organised and run by PhD students in the general field of ageing research. You'd be forgiven for wondering how the hell my research in computer vision relates to ageing. In a sense, I would like to think my research relates to many things, however, my recent focus has been on how I might be able to adapt my work with insect-inspired vision techniques for navigation to the task of assisting with hazard perception in older drivers. The research out there suggests we do lose some ability to perceive potential hazards as we get older. The forum was a great chance to talk directly with people who might be consumers of such technology, so I got quite a lively array of questions after my talk.

The other consequence of my talk was a little bit of media attention, including a story in ABC News online: Researcher designs insect-inspired navigation system, and a couple of radio interviews, including this one with
ABC News Radio (mp3)

So it has been quite a busy , indeed all-consuming, couple of days. Suddenly thesis writing feels like a bit of an oasis from the madness ... nice to have these distractions occasionally though .. particularly ones that remind you why you're doing this research in the first place.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

28 weeks and counting

28 weeks and counting, but who's counting ? well, I certainly am. We are well and truly into the third trimester, and bub is starting to make himself known. For one, Aff's huge! For two, a fair bit of seismic activity on the surface has become apparent, suggesting the little tacker is developing a keen interest in judo. Early on in the pregnancy, the thought of us actually being pregnant was fairly incomprehensible given the lack of any obvious indicators. Things are a little different now. Do I feel ready ? Hell no! Can I comprehend what's about to happen ? I think so. There is no doubt evolution knew what it was doing when it gave us 9 month pregnancy terms. I suspect many mothers who have gone through particularly rough pregnancies will disagree. For me however, 9 months seems to be about the right amount of time to get my head right (and my thesis). No question, I am really looking forward to being a Dad, and all that it brings. For now though, I am really glad to have the time I have to get things in order, and to take a moment to enjoy being without such a daunting responsibility as raising children.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

rate cuts

So the RBA has slashed interest rates by 1 percent. Only months ago we were being told that no such thing would happen until downward pressure was being applied to inflation. Now the view appears to be that a dramatic slow down in the economy will do that job for us, and so we say "fair thee well" to that little political hot potato. Surely recent events highlight the emptiness of the political debate surrounding "inflationary pressures", and the effect the Australian government has on interest rates. In a globalised economy, and conditions as they are, it is fairly safe to say that the government can neither help nor hinder such things .. at least within the marginal issues in which the debate gets bogged in. We should keep this in mind next time we hear Wayne Swan taking credit for an interest cut, or Turnbull blaming the government for an interest rise.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

the way of the thesis

Indirectly, I've been writing this thesis for years. Every word added to an article or note scrawled out on paper, does contribute towards the final product. That's what you tell yourself anyway, and what you put on your application for extension form. I have to say though, nothing truly feels like thesis writing, except .. well ... writing a thesis.

There was no ceremony or event to mark the start of official thesis writing. It was simple really. I opened a blank file, and named it 'thesis.tex'. I then proceeded to copy and paste every digitised word I have ever written on the subject of computer vision. An hour later, I had added 120 pages of the most incomprehensible mish-mash to my empty thesis document, and so it began.

It is somewhat disconcerting that a month or so later, the number of pages hasn't really increased. On the other hand though, a hell of a lot more has gone into it. The process of adding new content, and then refining the words to say the most you can with as little use of the English language as possible is the way of the thesis. I know I will begin to hate this process, particularly when I realise there is nothing else left to do except write, but for the moment, it actually feels kind of good to be at this stage. Actually seeing it take shape, ever so slowly, and forming into something that represents the four years of work I have put into this is quite a motivator. Of course, having a baby due in three months, and desperately wanting to end student life and get a real income is another.

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