Thesis Writing Using Agile Principles

Over this weekend I have spent much time attempting to work out how to reach my goal for this month: draft 1 of my thesis completed by May 26. I was recently at ASWEC 2009 with a theme of Agile the New Mainstream. After much thought in the last few days I’ve decided to attempt writing my thesis in an Agile manner. Currently, I’m not sure how this will all look but I am working on it. My template planner looks like this:


My goal is that I will be delivering 2 chapters to my supervisors each week. Obviously, the chapters will be delivered, read and feedback sent back to me, and then I will go through them again. But in this manner I will have a deliverable, probably 2 deliverables each week. This shows me that I am achieving something and keeps my supervisors up to date with what I’m doing. It also means that feedback comes early and if I have missed something or drifted way off task then they catch it before I have strayed too far.

So this is what my first updated Story Board looks like:


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New Papers Uploaded

I’ve just uploaded my final papers for the IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and Technologies (DEST 2009) and for the 7th IEEE International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN 2009). Looking forward to visiting the countries that the conferences are in and also to meeting the different people that are there at the conferences.

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Thesis writing is underway.

Three years into the PhD and thesis writing is happening. A long time ago I set out my thesis structure with chapters and potential sections to those chapters. However, after more work and several other changes the structure has changed. I now have a new structure and need to make the changes. I must confess to liking the new structure more than the old one. this new structure means that I need to start pretty much from the beginning and work on from there. Let’s see how it goes.

The next challenge that I face is what to use to write my thesis. Up to this point in time I have always used LaTeX for my writing but there is a small push from above for me to use Word.

Why LaTeX?
I have been using it for the past 4 or 5 years and find it very simple to use.
The ability to focus on only the text without anything else happening is very useful.
It generates fantastic pdf documents.
The automatic pagination means I do not need to be concerned with layout as this is all taken care of.

Why Word?
My 2 supervisors use it and it would mean that Track changes could be used.

Now that I have those things out there I think more and more I will use LaTeX and my supervisors can use a pdf annotator in order to make comments.

OK so from here on in it is head down and write, write, write.

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2009 has begun

First blog post for 2009. The work year got underway for me yesterday with my first day back in the “office.” The plan for the year is to finish my PhD. That translates to spending the next months with bum in a seat, fingers on keyboard or headset/microphone on typing/talking out my thesis.

The time has gone so fast, at the beginning I thought the end would never come and now I wish the end would never come, not really but I will need much time to get through this.

I wish everyone well for their year of research, work and whatever else you get up to. Now it is back to writing for me.

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I had an interesting evening listing to Ebon Fisher last night as he gave a Keynote address at the IT Revolutions conference. I was most fortunate to then spend the evening, rather late evening, talking with him and 2 others. Ebon’s website and work is found here.

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At IT Revolutions 2008

I’m currently attending and presenting at the IT Revolutions 2008 conference. So far it has been a very interesting conference. Some most fantastic papers, especially the stuff on eHealth. Listening to the team from the National Research Council Canada has been totally fascinating. Their research and the application is so impressive. So often research doesn’t really get to where it needs to be but here we see the research getting to where it not only needs to be but it is also helping people.

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Transcribing Data for Analysis

A large amount of my more recent research has required data collection through the “Think-aloud” protocol. Collecting the data is not difficult, participants are setup with a headset, perform the task verbalising what they are thinking and doing. I have recorded this using Audacity. The difficult part of using this data is in transcribing it. Some people speak very clearly and this makes it easier to work with, others peaks very softly or mumble a lot. This makes the transcription very difficult and extremely time consuming.

The flip side of it, once it is transcribed the data gives the most amazing insights into what people are doing and why they are doing it. A less complex way to get this same data would be fantastic, or a less time consuming way to transcribe would be great.

Currently I use MacSpeech Dictate, I listen to the recording and as I listen I am repeating what is being said and MacSpeech Dictate is doing the work rather than me typing it. It works but still takes a long time.

Back to work for now.

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Publication at IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training 2009 (CSEE&T 2009)

I’ve just uploaded a copy of the paper that I will present at CSEE&T in Hyderabad, India next year. You will find it in the Publications section.

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Humour: Sub-Prime Crisis Explained

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a Donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the Donkey the next day. The next day he drove up and said, “Sorry son, but I have some bad News, the donkey died.” Chuck replied, “Well, then just give me my money back.” The farmer said, “Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.” Chuck said, “Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.” The farmer asked, “What ya gonna do with him?” Chuck said, “I’m going to raffle him off.” The farmer said “You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!” Chuck said, “Sure I can Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.” A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, “What happened with that dead donkey?” Chuck said, “I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.” The farmer said, “Didn’t anyone complain?” Chuck said, “Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.” Chuck now works for one of the two remaining US Investment Banks.


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A Post from MacJournal

So I am just trying to post from MacJournal, I want to see if it works OK.

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