Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting Oriented

Had a not very satisfying orientation/assessment meeting with the departmental chair last week in which she told me that I needed to take a bunch of classes because I don't have the proper "breadth" classes in my field. This despite my master's degree. Apparently, if the courses don't have the correct three letter prefix, despite their content, they are of no use.

Luckily after that I met with my advisor, who maintained that no one would care one bit what courses I had taken during my job search, but rather what I will know and what I will have (is that the proper tense?) written. Thank the gods! He suggested that I avoid taking classes just to fulfill requirements, and came up with ideas for more interesting things I might take. He even offered to come up with a reading course for me tailored towards some of our joint interests. Yay!

Now I have to get to bed. Teaching a "lab" tomorrow morning at 8AM. Fun, fun, fun!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

PhD requirements

I am very grumpy after my "entry evaluation" with the faculty graduate adviser of my new program. Despite having something more than 72 credits of courses through my program at BA U, it looks like I will have to retake many classes. The problem is that most of my classes at BA U, weren't officially listed in "head studies". That's because there was no department of "head studies" so now they want me to take five out of seven breath requirement courses as well as the language requirement. Seriously, it's like my MA doesn't count at all. Arg. I thought I had researched this.

Problem #1: They might be right. My transcripts look horrible, they are filled with independent studies and group studies, courses that don't say anything on them. So it might be better for me to have a transcript that looked like I went through an actual program.

Problem #2: I will likely be very bored sitting through all these requirements and I don't tend to focus well when I'm bored.

Problem #3: This will slow down my time to degree and I have already spent waaaayyy too much time in grad school.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bloglines vs. Google Reader: How to Manage the Information Overload?

For the longest time, I used Bloglines to manage my RSS feeds. I'm not sure why I chose Bloglines, maybe Trillwing recommended it. I think I read some positive reviews.

Back in those olden days (2006) I started out manually adding other blogs to my blogroll. Then I discovered BlogRolling. BlogRolling makes it super easy to add blogs to your list and for a while I was happy. But soon, I discovered another problem...The blogs I was reading on Bloglines and those I was linking to on BlogRolling often didn't match. Periodically I would go through and match them up, but often I would forget to add some nice person's blog that I was enjoying.

I haven't research it, but I think different folk have different philosophies about their blogrolls. Who you include depends a lot on what you are trying to do with your blog. Are you trying to make money? Become popular with the "in-crowd"? I just wanted to write about my struggles in academia and hear about how other academics were doing. My graduate program was so without community that blogging about my troubles really helped me get through difficult times. (You guys, if anyone is still reading, helped me survive to get my M.A. and get into a better program! Yay!)

The point is, I wanted the blogs I read and the blogs in my blogroll to be the same. Now I could probably do some pruning, since I'm sure some folks I don't really read that often, but it was nice to just sort of keep up with the events in lots of folks' lives.

Then I discovered that I could create a blogroll using Bloglines and specifying only the blogs in my "academic blogs" folder. "Hooray!" I thought. This all Bloglines system lasted me for quite a while. But this summer I was tempted by Google Reader. Certain internet "experts" recommended Google Reader because it has a feature called "list view" which allows you to scan just the titles of the articles. "The Expert" claimed that this would save you hours each day and so I exported my subscriptions to Google Reader and tried it out. Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping up on my blog reading this summer and so I'm not sure how I like this new system. It seems that I'm back to my old problem- with Google Reader I have to maintain a separate list as a blogroll.

Then there is Bloglines Beta, which seems to have many of the same readability features a Google Reader. Now I'm just not sure what to do!


I'm Alive!

In case anyone was wondering, I am still alive. I haven't felt much like posting since I spent most of the last six months doing web design for the office I work for on campus. This summer was my break from academia and with it a break from my reflections on the academic life. I have been considering the future of this blog, as I'm now a wordpress expert and not sure I want to stay with blogger. Any thoughts my webby friends? I think my blog could have a much nicer look and be more usable if I moved it to wordpress. Actually, I don't think I would move it so much as start a new blog there and link to it from here. Make sense?

In other news- We are all settled in our new home in Crunchy Town. At least all of our stuff is moved and the piles of boxes have been whittled down a little. I'm going stir crazy here with Beorn and our new roommate, Beorn's buddy and best man, who I will call the Viking Boy. Neither Beorn nor the Viking Boy have jobs here yet, so they just hang around the house watching sci-fi. Orientation for Crunchy U. doesn't start until next week and our bank account is down to its last $40, so I'm pretty much stuck in the house as well. Viking Boy will be stay with us for a few months at least, maybe longer if he can find work. Luckily we have gone from paying $790 for a one bedroom apartment, to $775 for a three bedroom townhouse. Too bad my TA salary will also be smaller. The point is, all geek boys all the time is driving me a little insane.