Signup date: 11 Apr 2006 at 12:11pm
Last login: 20 Feb 2012 at 8:08pm
Post count: 4092
Quite agree with Juno, it's as good as having cyber-office colleagues to support you and share the PhD ups and downs together, only without the office politics. I've been posting on here for 2.5 years (6 months before my PhD even began) and have travelled the road together with a number of posters/virtual friends who've certainly kept me going.
Now that the off topic messages have been restored to the Latest messages board, it puts the fun topics back among the serious ones which helps the community feeling and seems to encourage additional traffic than when they were separated. During that time, the board became very serious and whilst most of us still offered advice as best we could, it took the fun out of it. This is like the old days but with a raft of new exciting features!
One question, where did all the extra smilies go?
Well, in this area getting an NHS dentist is notoriously diffficult. However, help was at hand last year when a national chain (who I'm about to bad mouth, no pun intended), set up here. So off I went and joined. For my £12 NHS fee I went in, the dentist (one of many in this branch) sat me down, got her little mirror out, quickly went around and said everything's fine, dismissing me in under 2 minutes. Now, I've had a few dentists down the years and my teeth have never been fine - what about plaque build up? A lecture on flossing? Some x rays on your first visit? A scrape and clean perhaps? None of these things, just £12 for 2 minutes work.
When I go to the dentist I expect a lecture! Anyway, somewhat perturbed by this, I went again 6 months later to see if the experience was to be repeated. I arrived 5 minutes early and observed all the people in the waiting room be called out to their respective dentists at the same time. 2 minutes later they all reappeared from the rooms, queued up in an orderly fashion to part with their money and sent on their way. Then it was my turn and same again.
Speaking to other people, even though your £12 is meant to cover a few treatments (x rays, scraping, polishing to name a few), it turns out you have to pay extra for these at this national chain. I was so appalled I walked around the corner to an ordinary, local dentist, asked if they were taking NHS patients and luckily they were. My first visit involved a checkup, a prod at my fillings, x rays, a scrape, and (the best bit) a lecture on dental hygiene. 20 minutes work for for £12. I was a happy man.
So if you have a good NHS dentist, keep onto them, and watch those national chains that market themselves as bringing NHS care to the country when in fact they do nothing except quickly deprive you of your £12. Grrrhhh, rant over.
Round these parts, so long as you're doing the work, they don't mind where or when you do it. However, as the previous poster alluded to, cutting yourself off from the department for long periods doesn't do much for your standing or presence around the place.
I'm essentially a nocturnal worker but I'm increasingly finding that for the sake of my own sanity, getting up early, going into the department for say 8 am, doing my day's work then going home at say 4pm has the combined effect of separating my home and place of work, significantly reducing my procrastination, and being able to come home and chill out for the rest of the day unstressed knowing that I've done an honest day's work, now it's me time. In nocturnal mode, after a day of faffing about it's about this time I start to stress that I still need to do 7-8 hours work before I go to bed.
In answer to your question, yes it depends on your supervisor. I can, and have, been away from the department for weeks on end and nobody's bothered to ask where I am. One way around it is to regularly email, or reply to group emails in the department just so people don't forget about you.
I concur with what has been said so far. To be be brutally-honest, on paper you would look a very average student to a potential supervisor and in the face of more qualified competition (Masters/1st class UGs), your application would probably be rejected in the first round. If you really are that keen to do a PhD you should do a Masters first. The dissertation will be a small taster of PhD life. The other thing you could do is spend the next 6 months or so (up to PhD application season) talking to academics, networking, and trying to get yourself known as an enthusiastic, motivated candidate prior to application. I got my funded PhD without a Masters (they stipulated I should have a 2:1, but in reality they required a 1st from me which is what I eventually got), but got my place because I'd built a relationship over a number of months with the prospective supervisor developing the proposal.
Perhaps one way to think about it is 'what can I bring to the table which makes me stand out from the rest?'. From here, the best way is probably to do a Masters and spend that year making friends in academia and see where it leads. Suffice to say, if you intend to go straight from Masters to PhD, you need to appear an outstanding student from day 1 of the Masters.
Here's the thread. I posted it awhile ago and have used it ever since. It's definitely working for me as it has massively reduced my procrastination during the daytime (when I set it to operate). I have a one hour window at lunchtime to surf my procrastination sites (which is why I'm posting now!). Make sure you have Firefox and uninstall/disable Internet Explorer if you can (so you can't cheat). Then set Leechblock to its highest security settings so you can't hack it when it's operating. Made a big difference to me as it makes me work and once I get going I can generate some momentum. Anyway, see how you go!
I did have Freemind for awhile. Whilst it's free it simply doesn't have the functionality of MindManager which links seamlessly to Office which is great for transfering mind-mapping ideas to eventual Word documents (or vice-versa). A particularly handy tool is that you can set up templates to transfer your map across to Word, including examining your map hierarchy and making automatic structured headings. Under each map item, you can add a set of notes. If you export your notes with your map, the text is pasted under the respective heading in Word. Why is this useful? Well, it means you can separate your writing stage from your ideas stage, drag boxes around the map to order and re-order your thesis sections. When you've got your structure as you want it, you export the lot to Word and it creates the chapter.
There is also a function called Brainstorming in which you just let fly with all your ideas and then organise the boxes later. It can also be used to set up tasks with start and end dates.If you integrate it with Outlook diary it tells you what you should be doing at any given time.
Sorry if I sound like a salesman for MindManager, but it's been an absolute god send for organising my thesis and my ideas. Mine cost about £50-ish for a student licence, but you can have a month's free trial and decide whether it's for you. If you do try it, try all of its features (I'm still discovering new ones) so you can see what it can really do.
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Sylvester doesn't get it. He's worked brilliantly all week, knocking off one task after another and no procrastination. What's brought about the change? The good weather? All the cycling he's been doing making him feel more energetic? Sticking to his schedule? The Leechblock software banning him from all his procrastinating websites in the daytime? The start of term? Whichever it is, it's working and long may it last!...Cue lousy day tomorrow!!!
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