Sunday, August 18, 2019

What I did on my weekend

A few random notes before getting to the meat of this entry.

I repeated the 'beef stir fry' for Friday night dinner; as there were more diners, of course there was more food, but the wok was big enough. The dish went down very well so this will definitely be repeated. I'm still a bit wary of the sweet chili sauce - I would prefer something else but have yet to find something suitable. I wonder whether I should cook this in advance (a few hours, not a few days) and keep it warm in the oven, so that I don't have to tend a smoking wok when I could be on the floor playing with my (second) grand-daughter.

At the pool on Saturday, someone remarked to me that I am swimming much more than last year. Someone else said the same thing the week before. I find it interesting that people note how much I swim and are capable of comparing the number of lengths. Yes, I am definitely swimming more this year, and as I have commented before, it's much easier this year. I don't know whether this is directly due to loss of weight - it's probably more connected with improved stamina. Yesterday I swam 32 lengths without a break; I had to stop because of the urination issue. Last week I carried on swimming after a toilet break, but I was very tired when I got home, so yesterday I decided to stop before the urination. I wasn't particularly tired at home afterwards.

I have been walking longer distances - yesterday, I walked 4.85 km - in 46 minutes, which works out as 9:29 min/km or 6.32 km/hour. The further I walk, the faster I walk. Thinking about this on the way back (before I knew my speed), I realised that the reasons are (as economists would put) the unavoidable fixed costs (initial stretching and getting up to speed; the dog looking after her needs) take the same amount of time whether I am walking 2 km or 4 km, so their influence decreases the longer one walks. Also, the first kilometer of the walk has me going up a hill then down a hill, so a walk of two kilometers is going to be very hilly. After the hill, there is a stretch of just under 2 km which is flat, so obviously I can walk fairly fast here. By the time I get to the final kilometer, which has me walking up a hill, I am walking fast enough to overcome the difference in elevation.

My weight has now gone down to 77.2 kg!

But what I really wanted to write was this: after receiving some belated feedback from my doctoral supervisor (he had to undergo emergency surgery on his eye in the middle of July), I spent several hours working on the doctorate. He advised me to make an automatic table of contents: I had to learn how to do this although theoretically it was quite simple. For some reason, the toc displayed right to left which was very annoying; it took a while to figure out how to overcome this. Now, if I add more material, I only have to instruct the toc to recalculate the page numbers, which it does. I extended the technique to figures and tables; again I had the right to left problem. Here, for some reason, the page numbers didn't recalculate correctly so I had to change them manually. A big advantage of this is that the toc also displays in a window on the left hand side of the screen, which makes it very easy to navigate between sections. The final thesis will be in PDF format, so this advantage will be lost.

Apart from adding material to almost all the chapters, I added a new section at the very end, which I am going to quote here.

7.6 Personal reflections on the research
This section aims to reflect on the researcher’s personal experience over the course of this study. Even though there are many SMEs which use ERP systems in Israel (a majority appear to use Priority), there is very little interaction between the companies and so one often feels as if one is operating in a vacuum. Even though user conferences are held bi-annually, these tend to be focused on technical advancements by the implementing company which frequently are of little interest to those companies which use the system, whereas topics which are of interest to the users are not considered sufficiently 'sexy' by the implementing companies. For example, whilst the development tools are sufficient to create sophisticated enhancements, their interface has not been updated for a decade and their documentation is lacking.

Conducting this research enabled the researcher to realise that he is not alone and that other companies suffer from similar problems. Whilst deriving some consolation from this, it doesn't help in overcoming problems such as user resistance.

Researching the literature was at times frustrating and at other times very interesting.  Much intellectual satisfaction was derived from reading the literature and viewing it in a critical manner. What was apparent though is that very few users and/or system managers use ERP with reference to academic literature about ERP: everyone gets on with the job in what each considers to be the most suitable method. Many potential participants did not understand the intellectual reasons which lay at the basis of this research, and this lack of understanding may well be one of the reasons why they declined to participate.

There appears to be very little cross-fertilisation between academia and industry in this thesis' topic. This has caused a certain amount of disconnection and alienation for the researcher who views, as a result of this research, the ERP system and its usage in vastly different terms from most of the users.

It is not clear what impact this thesis will have on the researcher's professional future, especially considering his age (approaching retirement). Will the researcher continue in industry, trying to implement the conclusions of this research by improving the chances of enhancements to be utilised and thus approaching the dream of realising all the power of an ERP system? Will the researcher turn to academia – problematic considering that this research does not fit into the domain of any conventional university department? Will some form of hybrid solution be found: writing academic papers whilst continuing to work in industry?

What is clear, however, is that the prolonged period of doctoral research has answered a deep need in the researcher's life for intellectual stimulation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Night walking (2)

Due to various commitments, I couldn't start yesterday evening's power walk until just after 8 pm, at which time it was already dark. So after putting the new collar on the dog, I turned it on so it was glowing bright red. I also turned on my head band torch.

After about five minutes of walking, I bumped into two other groups of walkers: two sisters coming home, and mother and daughter going out. The only illumination that both groups were using was their mobile phones - a poor source of light, and one has to hold it. My mobile phone is safe inside my trouser's pocket. They were all appreciative of my torch, but especially appreciative of the dog's collar.

I don't know whether it was because of the hour and relatively less humidity than most evenings, but I set a new record for distance walked this year (4.56 km) and surprisingly walked this distance at an average of 6.2 km/hour (44:19 mins). This is very encouraging. I haven't weighed myself the last two days, but on Sunday I saw that I had lost more weight, weighing in at 77.7 kg. The walking and swimming is paying off.