Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Workplace Update


And here’s Yaz updating his blog from his workplace today. No, he’s not slacking off. It’s just that he managed to solve a problematic computational problem, so he’s feeling a bit proud. Hence, he’s rewarding himself with a little break.

And who cares if I’m slacking off? It’s research, remember? One can set one’s own working time, as long as one is producing satisfactory end results, heh heh heh.

So anyway, the experimental bit of my research is not going well, since my supervisor has to fill in some extra paperwork before I can start, and the technician who’s supposed to cut my bits of Perspex is on holiday for two weeks. Therefore, it looks like I have to wait a while. On the other hand, I just learnt how to dabble and produce calculation loops in Mathematica yesterday, and I’m able to produce a (debatably) working Mathematica notebook today, so that’s quite an achievement. The thing wasn’t working very well this morning due to instability issues, but after some pointers from my supervisor and my fellow research student (who’s doing engineering) I managed to get it working perfectly now.

Oh and I found out from the fellow engineering research student that they (engineers) have already learnt about programming, loops and instability criteria, and it makes me wonder how come I don’t know all these stuff? What it is exactly that they teach us in chemical engineering?

Well, happy programming!


Friday, July 11, 2008

My Working Life

Cambridge has been a bit rainy lately, which generally means problem to people doing drying experiments like me. As such, my supervisor had to find a place for my experiments which we initially planned to carry out outside, not that that’s a good idea in the first place, what with the wind and falling leaves and all. So in the end we found a lab which other people don’t use but I need to be inducted first, hence my experiments can only be started earliest next week.

On another note, sometimes I really feel like I should be paying the BPI instead of the other way round. I learnt quite a bit in the research project: new scientific concepts, ways to organise experiments and filling out paperwork, insights into research life. Currently, my project has branched out from being experimental to experimental and computational, which means apart from just lab work, I’m also being taught how to do numerical analysis on a computer. I might also learn some programming if there’s time. This will be really useful since my fourth year project is purely computational, and it will help me and Alastair (my project partner) a lot. In short, there’s so much that I benefited from the research project that I’m really glad I made the decision to apply here.

Oh, and I got a new computer. Ahem, I mean... I was bought a new computer by my supervisor. Isn’t he kind? Heh heh heh.

Since we have to do computational stuff, my supervisor figured I need a computer and instead of using one that’s already there, we thought we’d buy a new one. Isn’t that cool? Unfortunately, I will not get to keep it when I finish the project. Awwww....


Friday, July 04, 2008

Open Day

Last Thursday and Friday were the Cambridge University Open Days. And on these days, we could see lots of young teenagers with their parents going around Cambridge with their red Cambridge University plastic bags and visiting the different colleges and departments. It was a nice change from the Cambridge that’s a little bit empty because all the undergraduates went away. Unfortunately, I had to work on both days, so I couldn’t observe or help out much.

Also, yesterday, someone wrote me this:

“...You know, we were just mentioning your name yesterday and saying that you will produce a 1st class act as usual/expected. So you see, what a let down from you!!”

And this is what I felt like:



Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Summer Work

Yo ho ho!

Okay, from last Monday I’ve officially started my summer research project. This is probably the first time I’m getting paid for working and it sure feels a bit different. Oh, I’m also getting paid to study in university but that doesn’t count. Anyway, I’m working in the BP Institute in Cambridge doing a research project. The project will last for twelve weeks which means I’ll finish in mid September. This also means that this year I will not be going back to Malaysia. Not that I’m terribly upset about that since I always end up getting bored with nothing to do (and getting fed up with horrendously slow dial up internet) anyway whenever I go back home so this makes a nice change. Plus I get to see what summer in the UK is like.

So far it’s been good. There are no set working hours so I can essentially turn up and leave whenever I want. Of course if I spend so little time on the project then my supervisor will get mad at me so let’s not do that. Furthermore, I can work wherever I feel like whether it’s the Institute, the library or my room, even though being in the BPI gives me access to my supervisor and the labs so it’s the most convenient. Today is my third day and so far I’ve been revising theories and deriving math formulas. We haven’t done any experiments yet since the required apparatus haven’t arrived but I like the things I’m doing so far since it’s the work-wherever kind of stuff.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what I am doing, let’s say it’s like watching paint dry, literally.