Overview of big_mac

Recent Posts

How to economise

I have been to radio recordings, which I found very enjoyable, I think that TV shows may be more hassle.
As well as Moneysavingexpert, hotukdeals.com is useful for discount deals and money off vouchers. Cashback places like quidco and topcashback are also worth looking at. I've had over £400 back over the past three years - they get paid commission for referring sales, and they pay (most of) it back to you.

Tips for working in a busy, noisy office?!

What about noise isolating headphones? Good ones might be expensive though. Or a pointy stick to wave at your supervisor? Some sort of recurring trivial but contagious / embarrassing illness which keeps you at home?
We have undergraduate labs / common room in our building, which are often empty or quiet (and a better temperature).

learning to touch type aged 30

Can you still get 'Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing'? I see to recall that made things slightly more interesting, but not a great deal! It is difficult to get going, particularly as you initially get worse while getting used to the finger positioning.
There's isn't much to suggest except keep at it. If you do type reasonably quickly, and without thinking about it too much, it can help in getting your ideas written down while leaving your brain free to think.

EPSRC funded at mediocre uni with new supervisor or self-funded PhD at a great uni with known supervisor?

You are talking about £50k worth of funding, which at least shows a certain amount of commitment from them. The offer of a self-funded PhD place doesn't really show you how much they value you, particularly in a field that is relatively well-funded.
I also think that you may end up working on such a narrow topic that the overall subject matter isn't massively relevant to what you do on a day-to-day basis.
The supervisor without a PhD rings alarm bells! I wouldn't want advise on how to complete a thesis from somebody who has never finished one!

Dark Night of the Soul

they are very good here about socialising, although I think they don't invite me sometimes as they assume because I am local that I have other things to do than hang around with my work colleagues (sadly, that's usually not true).
There are places that you can go if you want to socialise more, http://www.spicelondon.co.uk is one such option, there are probably many others - what about a local theatre group or sports club?

Dark Night of the Soul

I avoid the whole 'existential worrying' by never asking the question 'why?'. I know that my work is pretty pointless - but I find it interesting and challenging, that is all the justification that I need.
While we were on a year-long trip, my girlfriend got pretty homesick. We made arrangements for her to go home for a couple of weeks and then rejoin me. She didn't ever actually go home, but the fact that she knew she could at any point seemed to help quite a bit, as well as webcam chats to her family.

professional thesis printing

you could buy a colour laser printer for less than the cost of printing. More faffing around and still needs binding, but you get to keep the printer!

Powerpoint tips for conference paper

If you get a change to try the projector, pay particular attention to any graphs and diagrams, and see what they look like from the furthest point in the room. I thought that I had made all mine massively chunky, but they were still only just about visible, and many other people's were not visible at all.
If you are super-organised you could print the presentation onto ohp slides just in case the projector doesn't work.

Doing mad things!

those sort of things are entirely normal for me, maybe I am always stressed!
Filling a tea-cup with milk, and adding a drop of hot water from the kettle is my favourite! Opening the fridge, picking up the milk, putting it back in fridge and closing the door again, then wondering where the milk is....
I am sure that there are many more, but my poor old brain forgets.....something....

Career in science and motherhood

and there is some more information here:-
It does seem to depend on your instution exactly what they offer.

Career in science and motherhood

'PhD students receiving a stipend from a doctoral training grant are entitled to receive a stipend during maternity leave in line with statutory maternity provision. They should also have their studentships extended by a corresponding length of time.'

Anyone taking a break to watch the apprentice

If you don't have a tv, you can watch some things online (including the apprentice) at bbc.co.uk/iplayer. As you are not watching live tv, you don't need a tv licence.
Many wifi 'hotspots' that charge for internet access also have free access to the BBC.

The highest RAE rating

It's not really a new rating, there is some information here
Although I don't know where the name '6*' came from, HEFCE call it 'double 5*'

Doing a PhD at a 'non red-brick' university

If you look at the PhD completion rates (from the HEFCE report), generally the redbrick universities do pretty well, and the post-92 universities do badly. Although it's hardly a suprise that universities that do more research get more people through a PhD.

any suggestions for writing techniques

The original version (from 1918) is available free online