trixtah: (Default)
My job is currently going less than well. I'm not absolutely fucking up, per se, but my strengths are tactical thinking, technical problems solving and troubleshooting. My job actually requires strategic, planning and administration skills to a moderate degree, none of which I have.

I'm used to feeling good at my job - any job I've done to date - and feeling barely adequate has been doing my head in. My boss is doing what he can, but his job is not to do my job, and I am feeling increasingly conscious of my inability to pull my weight properly as a member of his team.

So, definitely time to move on. I don't want to do purely technical work any more, although if I can find a role back in NZ after not being "hands on" for a couple of years, that would be fine.

What I've decided to get into, however, is technical documentation. I write fairly well, I'm good at explaining things in a fairly clear way, and frankly, the idea of getting into a line of work where I'm responsible for no-one else's output other than my own will be a relief.

With this in mind, I've applied for a course - the Graduate Diploma in Information Design - which encompasses technical writing of all kinds. It's a online-delivered course at the Christchurch Polytechnic in NZ, so I get to pay the NZ fees of around $800 for each unit (6 units in total). $4K for a post-grad diploma seems like an excellent deal.

The course brief is as follows:
The Graduate Diploma of Information Design is taught entirely online, and is designed to provide you with the skills you need to create effective user-centred information. Subjects studied include professional writing and editing, research and theory in communication, information analysis and management, document design, and usability testing. An internship is an integral part of this programme.

The intake for each unit is 15-20 students - which is fantastic after my experiences last year with Canberra Uni and their ridiculously over-subscribed courses - but I've dipped out on the first semester due to its being full. However, due to my "cool CV" which is totally in their "zone", apparently, (and previous quals) I am now pre-enrolled for July. Can't wait!

trixtah: (Default)
So, the evo psychs have done some research on why penises are shaped the way they are and why human penises are so comparatively large (compared to most other mammals, well, except elephants and pigs). Dandy.

Their conclusion?

[P]enises were sculpted in such a way that the organ would effectively displace the semen of competitors from their partner’s vagina, a well-synchronized effect facilitated by the “upsuck” of thrusting during intercourse. Specifically, the coronal ridge offers a special removal service by expunging foreign sperm. According to this analysis, the effect of thrusting would be to draw other men’s sperm away from the cervix and back around the glans, thus “scooping out” the semen deposited by a sexual rival. 
And how did they make this momentous discovery?

The researchers selected several sets of prosthetic genitals from erotic novelty stores, including a realistic latex vagina sold as a masturbation pal for lonely straight men... and three artificial phalluses. (Of various shapes) ... [They] borrowed a recipe for simulated semen from another evolutionary psychologist [what a surprise] ... and created several batches of [so-called] seminal fluid.[i.e. flour and water cooked up together]

Then they played with the toys manually with the flour sludge to try and see if their displacement theory was valid. Supposedly more of the liquid was displaced from the artificial vagina if the rubber penis had a larger coronal ridge. Oh, they did back it up with a survey with college-aged males (I wonder whose students they were?) who all asserted that if they broke up with their g/fs and then got back together with them, the resulting sex was much more vigorous. Yes, because I'm sure all those skanky h0rz still had litres of some other guy's spoodge up them that needed displacing with those mighty coronal ridges.

I can't believe these people actually take themselves seriously.

Holy shit

Nov. 21st, 2009 11:46 pm
trixtah: (Default)
Just got the coursework marks for my Sociology of Technology course - my last assignment was 85% and the tutorial participation (worth only 5% of the total) was 90%. The last assignment I wrote in literally 2 hours, and I attended maybe 3 tutes. Maybe I got a decent mark for the assignment since it was almost exactly 1500 words (as specified) and yet the other post-grads in the class were begging to write an extra 1000 words. Weirdos. (The other 3 post-grads seemed to love it, whereas I found the course painful in the extreme, although actually quite interesting. The painful part was doing interviews and crap for our assignments.) As for the tutes, it was mixed post-grad and undergrad - when discussing a framework called "actor-network theory", apparently it was news to the others in the class that it's about connections between the actors. Jeeze. But maybe everyone else got 100% for that particular bit, hee.

That brings my grade for the non-exam part of the course to 86.5% in total, which means I've passed (52%) without even having the exam mark. Thank god for that. I think the exam itself went reasonably well because half was multi-choice (!!! for a social sciences course, especially at post-grad level) and the other half was an essay. I chose the one about comparing and contrasting different theoretical frameworks, and probably wrote more than 1500 words for that one. Heh. I also spent quite a bit of time ranting about technological determinism in particular (i.e. the notion that technology is developed in its own little vacuum, conferred on society, which then uses it exactly in the way planned by the boffins) before realising I only had 30 minutes to discuss the other 3 models we looked at, and come to some conclusion. My conclusion was also a stunning one: other than the evil technological determinism, theoretical frameworks are really horses for courses. Pick the one that best explains what you're trying to explain. The end. I'm not really going to do well in any course that draws on post-structuralist ideas, or social sciences in general, I've decided. LULZ.

Systems Analysis and Modelling won't be so great because the exam is worth 60% and I fucked up the non-drawing (modelling) parts - I missed the final three lectures and studied the wrong concepts for the "fluffy" stuff ("name and describe the four phases and nine tasks of a system development cycle" [or whatever] being a big for instance) . Still, we'll see; I should still get something in the low-60s to low-70s overall.
trixtah: (Default)
Handed in two assignments today. One of which being a presentation (not a very structured one, but it still required chatting up the tutors), while the other was a group assignment that I needed to put the finishing touches to.

One more assignment next week and then the two exams. I'm feeling very under-motivated about the exams, but c'est la vie. If I pass, it's all good.

Work is starting to settle in a bit for me. I'm still horribly under-organised, but one can't change the habits of a lifetime in 5 minutes (hah, although I've always been great at organising in some contexts). I do think I'm getting better, though. Another 6 months to see if I'm feeling more in control, and I'll know whether this will pan out. I'm feeling sufficiently in control of the people, mostly (although one staff member is giving me gyp) - it's the self-organisation and developing bureaucracy-fu that are the tricky parts. One thing that's useful is that I've never disdained bureaucracy-fu, unlike some techies - I've always thought it's a great skill. It's figuring out how to develop missing processes and do my own stuff in a timely fashion (and yes, uncertainty of how to approach doesn't help) that I find hard.

On the upside, and also in terms of dealing with people, other teams I have encounters with seem to respond to me well. I seem to have better-developed social skills than I thought I did - I'm so accustomed to thinking of myself as fairly introverted and socially-unskilled that I fail to notice that I'm actually not that bad at spotting political agendas nor charming people (actually, determining the best approach) in ways that are appropriate for them. I get on well with my boss, which I know he appreciates, although I also know he's being patient with me in terms of results. I need to start producing some substance for him shortly.

Since I won't be bogged down with study over the next few months, and I'm going to reduce my course load by half next year, I certainly hope I can start coughing up the goods.


Aug. 1st, 2009 03:44 pm
trixtah: (Default)
Dear lazywebs:

Has anyone got a pointer to a good website/resource that encompasses Statistics 101, and/or gives good background into interpreting/critiquing basic statistics? Because when something says that it's blah with a p-value >.05, I have no frigging idea what they're talking about (and yes, I've read the Wikipedia articles on p-values and confidence intervals, and it might as well have been written in Old Norse). How is something like that significant, and how significant is it?

One of my courses this semester is on the Sociology of Technology. Leaving aside the already-irritating lecturer (classic 70s academic feminist, down to the dangly earrings; she may also be a member of the Sisterhood), I am going to need some vague understanding of statistics to make sense of some of the papers I should probably read.

PS. I'm not allergic to maths, but I haven't done anything with it since introductory calculus at uni 15 years ago. I do know the difference between average and median, and I know what a standard deviation is. My deviations are pretty standard, after all, *snerk*. I won't be submitting something that requires me to do statistical analysis of my own raw data, so I don't need to fuck about much with actual equations on my own behalf.

Go me

Jul. 3rd, 2009 09:42 pm
trixtah: (merriment)
Course: 841AA - Graduate Certificate in Business Informatics

Period Unit Code Unit Name Status Grade Achieved CP
2009/S1 6264 Organisational Behaviour G COMPLETED HD 3.000
2009/S1 6675 Information Systems in Organisations G COMPLETED HD 3.000

Well, I'm pleasantly surprised. Info Systems is really "computers for idiots", despite the fact it was ostensibly a graduate course. The exam was a slight fuck-up, since I spent most of it doing two questions (two diagrams were involved, and I was being particular), which left the grand total of 20 minutes for the remainder of the exam. Oops, but it seemed to have turned out ok.

Org behaviour, though, was challenging, and I'm genuinely surprised I got an HD*. My essay, which was 40% of the mark, must have turned out all right after all. I think I may now go pick it up to see the comments, since I was avoiding doing so. Heh.

I don't expect to do so well next term, since I feel like my life has more distractions in it - career-wise - at present, but it's a nice start.

* For non-Australians, an "HD" is a High Distinction. An "A" or 85%-plus for the rest of us.

That's done

Jun. 2nd, 2009 11:17 pm
trixtah: (Default)
I polished off and handed in my essay today, so that's it for that course. Yay! I have to say, if anyone's interested in studying organisational behaviour, the course at Canberra Uni and my lecturer were excellent.

I've done all the assignments for my other course, information systems, and there's just the exam in a couple of weeks. Let's just say I can't give that tutor such a resounding endorsement, although he knows his stuff. Having tutorial notes stuck up the day before the tute, or even the same morning, was not that conducive for study (because there was often an expectation that we prepare some material in advance for the tutes).

As for my essay on power, organisations and diversity, there are some parts that are horribly relevant right now:

Thomas (1991) makes the important observation that diversity is not neutral in an organisational context. It may be positive or negative, but there will be an impact. Whether or not it is actually positive or negative depends on the organisational environment. As a part of the organisational environment, Thomas asserts that a traditional top-down management style is the “number-one barrier to acceptance” [of diversity] (1991, p.47). Traditional “doer” managers – “I won’t have my staff do anything I won’t do myself” – have a view that they do the job, and their staff are an extension of their own personal capabilities for carrying out a task. They view their job as being about managing business first and people as separate components, with as little focus as possible on the actual people. Thomas states that this type of manager seeks people who will clone their own behaviour, which discourages acceptance of diversity. They also do not perceive people management as a particularly legitimate activity, do not see a diverse work force as an asset, and will have difficulty managing one due to their aversion to people management in general. He contrasts this with the Follett-style empowerment model, where management is about enabling employees to act in such a way as to achieve organisational objectives. There is no duality of “people issues” or “business issues”; employee empowerment is directly linked to business objectives. The manager is not concerned with doing the work him- or herself; they want to ensure that the people who do the work have the best environment in which to do so. As a result, this model is much more conducive to the acceptance of diversity in the organisation. (Thomas 1991, p.46-47)

No prizes for guessing which model my current manager employs -- although he's not as bad as the classic "Doer" manager, he's not that far off. (And yes, that paragraph is a bit idealistic, but that's what it's about in the source material. The crappy writing was me trying to chunk it out within an hour of my submitting it).

Anyways, I'm about halfway through the grad cert now... still haven't quite made up my mind about spending two more years on a masters, although that would be a nicer piece of paper to wave around.


May. 18th, 2009 11:59 pm
trixtah: (Default)
I just have to say it's bloody annoying to have to debunk Hegel for a poxy reading review of an article on organisational learning I've just had to do. I was so tempted to write "appeals to irrelevant authorities are stupid", but I'll water that down a bit.

In short, organisations and groups can't "learn" because they're not living entities, duh. And no, the author is not going to bother discussing group knowledge and how it is added to and retrieved. Also, individuals apparently cannot learn in isolation, since "learning is the activity of interdependent people and can only be understood in terms of self-organising communicative interaction and power relating in which identities are potentially transformed." And no, that statement isn't qualified any further. Well, sticking your hand on the stove when you're entirely alone isn't going to do anything for you then, is it?

trixtah: (Default)
Thank you extremely much to those who made suggestions about my essay outline fail yesterday; I was inspired and now it is done. Yay. I was so totally immersed in the breadth of the topic that I neglected to see the forest for the trees.

So, tackling the actual question, with reference to the context (not drowned in it), with examples, appears to be a goer. I don't think I've written an immensely coherent outline, but it doesn't matter at this stage. I pretty much know where I'm going with the real thing, and I'll give it another polish before I submit it. Now to get another unrelated set of assignments out the way before next week!

Beverage of choice on offer whenever I catch up with anyone involved, although [ profile] countrycousin may have to wait a while!
trixtah: (Default)
Well, I'm in a bit of a bind right now. I have read hundreds of pages in relation to power, and organisations, and so on, and I have realised that my lack of motivation about getting it all down in writing is essentially due to the fact I have no idea on how to relate it to the essay topic I was looking at.

Now, the quotation we're starting from relates to power as a "positive force". We are supposed to discuss how organisations manage the behaviour of their employees, and achieve their goals, and the importance of power to organisational effectiveness. All well and good, although fairly complicated (due to the fact that most management-type articles coyly avoid overtly discussing power, except in terms of top-down "empowerment" in the sense of their generously conferring a tiny bit of control to employees, such as "task autonomy"). However, where I'm getting stuck, quite majorly, is with the last part of the topic question, which states "...with particular reference to the complicating factors of organisations which have diverse workforces and/or operate in the global market place."

I don't think I can get away with simply saying that "x stuff I just discussed will be complicated in organisations with diverse workforces", as much as I'd love to. I was going to discuss how individuals will respond to power interactions differently... but I don't think that's sufficient for this. Buggery bollocks. I could talk about how workers on a factory floor will have a different experience of power interactions than the white-collar workers in the office, but have I found anything I can reference that talks overtly about that? No. While we're supposed to express opinions at the post-grad level, we are also expected to back them up. :-(

I need to submit an assessable essay outline by next Tuesday - the actual essay is due a month later, but I also need to complete three more assessable pieces of work for this course during that time, one of which being a group exercise (not to mention the other assessable work I need to complete for my other course). I'm wondering whether to ditch all this work I've done so far, and do the alternate topic, which relates to the efficacy of organisational change, and is much simpler to tackle (since the management journals do overtly discuss it, and with varying points of view).

trixtah: (Default)
As I I think I've mentioned earlier, my essay topic is about power in relation to organisations and how it's used to manage employee behaviour. The statement we need to discuss is: "Power--the central concept of the social sciences--need not always be regarded as something to be avoided. Power can be a positive force; it can achieve great things."

Frankly, I find that statement somewhat odd, since power relationships are a fact of any group or organisation. So they can't be avoided, although I do get the sense of what's being aiming at. But I'll be picking that statement to bits.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I've been wading my way through oodles of stuff on all kinds of interpretations of power, starting from Foucault and moving forward. There is even an area of study called organizational discourse, which, while it can be interesting, is often as horribly dense and abstract as anything else mentioning the words discourse, text and inscribe. Or re-inscribing. (Apparently you can't inscribe without re-inscribing, as far as I can tell).

I was reading an article in one of the seminal works on the topic, and was relieved to find this breath of fresh air:

Finally, I suggest that critical organizational discourse studies help to remind us that organizations are real structures that have real consequences for real people. Yes, that reality is socially constructed, but I think we must be careful not to forget the material consequences of the social construction process. The Derridian claim that there is 'nothing outside the text' should not reduce critical organizational analyses to a textual solipsism that overlooks the incorrigibility of organizational life and its consequences for ordinary people. In this sense, the roots of critical studies lie in connecting the everyday to larger political and economic questions.

While I find myself wondering at "consequences for ordinary people" (so who is immune to organisational life, except that tiny minority who don't participate in any?), thank you, Professor Mumby, for pointing out the fact that we all do live in the real world.
trixtah: (Default)
Someone - "Kutiman" - has done the most coolest of jobs mashing up YouTube user-created music clips into funky sounds. The first one (The Mother of All Funk) is funk-rock, complete with brass, guitar solos, harmonica, and theremins. Then there's a dub track with real drums, double bass, trombone, melodica (of course), funky electronic effects, and a groovy vocal (not the pastafarian, although he's hilarious) and xtra bonus gadgets! The third track is a groovy downtempo breakbeat number reminiscent of Red Snapper (double bass, bongos, piano), and just the perfect vocals (the melodic and rap parts). And a wind quintet, assorted keyboards. The fourth track is full-on d&b with a 3-manual church organ, OMG GADGETS, and a bouzouki. Very reminiscent of Venetian Snares! Fifth track is bossa nova with Hammonds of hilariousness, awesome vocals (with a chick of hotness singing them), a jew's harp, a vibraphone (oooh yeeeah), a recorder, and assorted gongs. Sixth is a downtempo r&b-ish kind of track, but pretty pleasant. The last one is a very skillfully-repurposed emo-chick's bluesy warblings, with a nice flute solo, giant windchimes and a harp. Anyway, check out ThruYOU - the 8th track is Kutiman explaining his process. Yay!

That was a reward for finishing my latest and greatest reading review on a journal article called "Why is it so hard to be fair?"

excerpties )

I love those reasons for not behaving fairly (well, I think they're crap, but it's illuminating. I do sympathise with the last one!). Honestly, that kind of stuff is like throwing me into a lolly shop and saying "Go to it". I've never understood people who say things like "I can't be bothered with politics". The decisions that people make, and that includes the ones they supposedly make on your behalf, directly affect our lives. And knowledge is power.

It's kind of ironic that this Organisational Behaviour class is incredibly stimulating - if hard work - where the Information Systems in Organisations is comparatively meh (although it is interesting background). Of course, the latter isn't helped by a tutor who obviously knows his stuff, but who dithers. Hopefully it'll pick up soon.
trixtah: (Default)
My car was sick for a wee while - the niggling idling problem that has been happening off and on, but we think we've gotten to the root of it - an intermittent electrical problem. But, alas! My mechanic will be retiring at the end of June. Still, the second-in-charge guy likes my car as well, so we should be all good.

Anyway, I spent most of the day dashing around, buying food, the makings of two presents, Asian grocery stuff (can't find yam flour, alas), blah blah. And I got it all done before the nice rain started. I was talking to the cute chick at work last week, and she told me how she finds the sound of rain "disturbing". Wow, that's something I have absolutely no understanding of. Of course, I wasn't born and bred here.

Now I should really get going on my reading review of the week: "Why is it so hard to be fair?" And I need to research some stuff on a debate we're doing in two weeks - "That organisational culture cannot change" - we have the negative. Slightly silly way of proposing the debate topic;  logically speaking, all we need is ONE counter-example. I'm thinking of the HP/Compaq merger, and I'll try not to ascribe the cultural change to all the guys uniting in their hatred of the boss lady. But my other team members might have some ideas - we did think alluding to at least one example was a good idea for argument-building. I volunteered to go first during the debate, since hopefully I can get it out the way before collapsing in a heap of stage fright. There's less than 30 in the class, but still. D:

trixtah: (Default)
Cloud-computing is the buzzword du jour, and refers to services that host applications and data that are accessible by way of the Internet. Zoho/GoogleDocs, Microsoft Hosted Services and plenty of others are examples of these.

It's new assignment time - Reading Review: Are Leaders Smarter or Do They Just Seem That Way? - and, gah, I can't finish it off. I've been using an online service that is subscribed to by the university for my references, RefWorks. It's great, because you fill in these little forms for all the data, you can add notes and tags and whatever, you insert little macros in your doc and upload it (this works for all kinds of document formats, or you can install a Word add-in), and the product formats both the inline references (ick) and reference list perfectly... and the references are available wherever you are. In theory. Alas, I can't logon to the site today. From a non-university machine, you logon to the uni web proxy which then forwards the connection to Refworks, where you logon there. No dice. I tried from one of the university's machines subsequently, but no luck there either. This is the second time I've had trouble with this, meh.

So maybe one day we will be able to guarantee connectivity, security - and more importantly, responsive support - of applications and data hosted in the cloud, but that day hasn't happened yet. And if you're a money-making organisation, and/or one that needs to be able to respond quickly to clients, then you shouldn't rely on these services either (unless you're tiny). Part of the problem with these services is that the support can be dicey. RefWorks are yet to respond to any of my emails (I'll be chatting to the uni library tomorrow if it's still a problem); organisations like Google can be less than responsive. In an enterprise context, unless it's entirely shambolic, you'll at least have people you can talk to about the problems you're having, and you should also get a reasonable ETA of when they'll be fixed.

Anyway, moving onto the current events of the world, [ profile] cheshire_bitten expresses perfectly just what I've been thinking about the Catholic Church this past week.

trixtah: (Default)
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
        --Charles Darwin

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative.
        --H. G. Wells

Now, the interesting thing about Darwin's theory is that some more recent thought (and I can't remember who) has asserted that it isn't adaptabiliy per se that means that an organism is more likely to survive a particular environment. Some believe that due to natural change/mutation, some organisms just happen to end up better adapted for a particular environment, while the others that have changed in the wrong direction end up dying out.

I have no idea of the current status of the debate on how evolution works, but it's interesting food for thought - in the non-evolutionary sense, do we "pre-adapt" and fortuitously end up suiting a particular environment, and/or seek out environments that are better suited to us (if they are available), or are we chucked in it and have to adapt or die?

In the microcosmic sense, I think it's a bit of both... but adapting-on-the-fly is the weaker aspect. There is only so much change we can cope with at once. We have also built up various degrees of capability due to our innate qualities, and also the learned ones. So, of course, our lives consist of constantly adapting on the fly - most of the situations we encounter are novel in some way, even the routine ones. We aren't robots who can only deal with pre-programmed responses. Matters of degree, I suppose.
trixtah: (blackout)
So one of my units, which I start on MONDAY (argh, how did that happen?) is on Organisational Behaviour. I read the first chapter of the prescribed text, which looked at a whole bunch of organisational configurations and theories, and in passing announced that hierarchies are "here to stay" and in fact remain the 'best available mechanism for doing complex work'. That last quote comes from an article by Henry Leavitt in the Harvard Business Review, which of course I had to read. It seems fairly even-handed, except for the aforementioned conclusion, but this section on some of the benefits of heirarchies cracked me up.

Hierarchies add structure and regularity to our lives. They give us routines, duties, and responsibilities. We may not realize that we need such things until we lose them. One friend of mine, after he retired, took to keeping goats. "Why?" I asked him. "Because goats have to be milked regularly," he replied. "That gives me a reason to wake up every morning: Without required routines, we might find ourselves afloat in a sea of anomie."

So, who's the boss and the subordinate in this scenario, eh? Since the goats are directing the work, obviously they're the bosses! ;-)

So, yeah, structure does not necessarily = hierarchy (and I get tired of people who should know better confusing the two). *snortle*

Moving along to the wider question, I think hierarchies are a convenient and accustomed way of assigning roles and accountabilities, but I don't actually think that those assignments need to be done in a top-down manner (I can't help my anarchist tendencies). Foucault talks about "governmentality", which can apply to the application of power in many ways (including self-regulation), but he makes a distinction between that and domination. And I'll wank on about an alternative organisational model some other time, I think. I've already decided on my essay topic for this course!

The first chapter in my text talks about how organisations are pretty much always arranged in a hierarchical fashion, even though there have been recent efforts to flatten structures and work across them in recent times. There is also a discussion about the difficulties of contract management when "alliances" are made between organisations to work together in the delivery of a larger project (such as public-private partnerships for public works - feh - or entirely private projects, such as building a new football stadium) . Now, in that kind of area, who is the boss and who is the subordinate? The simple answer is that there are none. There are contacts and there should be deliverables/KPIs to describe what outputs are required of each party in order to complete the projects. While there might be a co-ordinating body or final customer, they aren't the "boss" of the project in terms of directing the actual work. However, roles and accountabilities must be clearly stated in the contracts, with redress if there are failures to perform.

I don't see why these concepts are so difficult to extend to a more micro level. My team at work needs to deliver certain things, like email services and application maintenance. Our point of contact is our team leader. While she is our supervisor, in reality there is no reason that performance metrics could not be maintained within the team, and she just carry out the role of co-ordination and communication. If we, on a team or individual basis, fail to perform what we have agreed to do, given the appropriate resources, then fine, time to do some serious renegotiation or do something else. Well, that may be pie in the sky, but it's an area that interests me. I don't think devolution, with appropriate means of co-ordination, should necessarily mean a shambles, although of course that's the common fate of many co-operative ventures. So much so that the word "co-operative" almost epitomises shoddily-run and chaotic organisations, which I think is a shame.

Life cycles

Jan. 6th, 2009 09:49 pm
trixtah: (Default)
I'm pretty agnostic about astrology, but it is fun to consider sometimes. I have my shagging guys cycle, of about one every five years (I'm overdue at present, and even if I did find Australian men - at least the ones found in Canberra - the slightest bit attractive, my libido seems to have dropped into a hole, so it's not going to happen anytime soon, even if one were handy).

It also seems I have a tertiary education cycle of just over a decade. I first enrolled at university in 1987, and dropped out within 6 months. Damn the fact I'd actually have to do some study (since I never did at school - Mr Perjanik, my 5th Form English teacher, was spot-on when he said I'd crash and burn when I hit varsity), that I also had to support myself by working 30-odd hours a week, and I'd discovered there were all these cute dykes on campus to shag (and lots of attendant drama). And politics, god help us.

Then when I lost my photolithography job in 1996, I had no frigging idea what I was going to do career-wise. I flailed around a bit, and basically fell into IT. As part of that flailing around, I re-enrolled at university in '97, and was starting to accumulate what was going to be a computational linguistics kind of degree. I finished nearly a third of a degree, and had plans to enrol at Trinity College in Dublin (the course convenor was keen to get me on board, for some reason). I moved to England in 1998, and found that I would have to work there for at least three years before becoming eligible for the extremely generous educational grants available in Ireland (despite having Irish citizenship, I wasn't educated there, thus the qualification period for the grants). After spending three years in England, I would have gone insane if I'd had to stay another four years to complete a degree, let along as an impoverished student. So that was that.

Today I've embarked on the first little hop into my latest academic endeavours. I'm doing an introductory course - post-graduate study for dummies, aka "PG-PREP", which is designed to ramp up us poor benighted souls into coping with post-grad courses. It looks like I'm the only one in the class who hasn't completed an undergrad degree, though. The tutor seems sensible and down to earth, and is totally across the fact that (antipodean) universities often expect students to have a certain skillset, without ever having imparted these skills, or even making it clear from the outset which ones are required, or acknowleging the fact that they can change (such as when moving from undergrad to postgrad work).

The course is going to cover such things as essay-writing skills, required citation styles, critical thinking/analysis (and she's right, it's not taught systematically at university, and it should be, for every course, not just the occasional history or politics unit), how literature reviews and reports ought to be structured, and even such organisational things as if it's not on the official unit outline, it should not be assessed. Conversely, if it is on the unit outline, it should be prepared for! So that all sounds good. This course is taking place twice a week until the beginning of the semester at the end of Feb. Eee!
trixtah: (techie)
See, there's a reason I'm a techie - I figured out the problem that I was having with my course enrolment yesterday.

One of the questions was

8. Where was your permanent home residence during Year 12? <input ... >

Now, I fairly naturally stuck in "NZ" - the above is the entirely of the question. There was no cute dropdown, nor specification to enter an Australian postal code. If you look at the HTML for the input box name, it is "p_commencing_location". Aha! And the max_size for the field was 5 characters. So I nabbed the 4-digit code for NZ that had popped up after an earlier dropdown selection, and stuck that in, and OMG, it worked. It would have been really tough shit if my permanent home residence in Year 12 had been a different country to my final year of school, which is not necessarily the same in NZ (we go up to 7th Form, which is Year 13).

I'll now drop their webmaster a note advising them of the trouble with the form. Student Records - or whatever they're called - haven't got back to me yet after my messaging them yesterday.

trixtah: (Default)
...but perhaps not, given my memory of some universities' IT operations.

I can't enrol online for my UC course, due to a ridiculous error message I'm getting in one of the forms, which provides absolutely no information on how to fix it. FWIW, "Invalid value for Commencing Location. Valid values are 00001, 99999 or a valid Australian postcode." does not help if there is no field labelled "Commencing Location" on the form. And yes, I have put both my permanent and this year's residence as an Australian postcode. The fact that every time I resubmit the form, it "loses" some of the data it generates from a dropdown on a completely unrelated (I think) field just adds fun to the mix. Also, all the fucking dropdowns opening in a separate page and those so-helpful error messages opening in popups??? Give me a break. You'd have to write specific "special" code to get your dropdowns opening separately, and gosh, how many years has it been that webdesigners have managed to put errors right next to the affected fields in a form? (An error showing the actual field name is just for wimps, obviously).

Oh, and allowing passwords to be set to precisely 8 characters only? And including at least one of 5 specifed characters? Nice one.
trixtah: (Default)
Dear Ms [Trix]:

Thank you for your application for entry to the University. I am pleased to offer admission to the following:

Course Code: 841AA Course name: Graduate Certificate in Business Informatics

Commencement Period: 23 February 2008

Holy shitcakes.

Dear procrastinating and lazy part of myself - please to be getting your shit together before I take this on. I would quite like to have a respectable piece of paper to wave around sometime in the next year or so. Aspirational, moi?




trixtah: (Default)

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