Wednesday, June 26, 2019

DBA update

Chapter 6 - case studies report - is complete! It took a few days to write everything up, even though the work was almost purely mechanical, copying quotes from the various interviews. Presenting the data this way - let's call it horizontal - makes it much easier to see where the problems are and what the recommendations should be, as opposed to trawling through the interviews one by one (let's call this vertical). I'll start work on the final chapter in a few days. It gets very hot in the afternoons (apparently it's cooler here than in Europe at the moment) which makes it very difficult to concentrate until the evening, which is when I'm too tired to do anything serious. As I have mentioned before, Friday afternoons and Saturday evenings are very good times to work.

I was discussing the thesis' timetable with my wife the other day: assuming that I finish the conclusions chapter by the end of July (and there's nothing to stop me from doing so as it's totally dependent on me and how much time I devote to it) and perform cleanups during August ... that's it! We can then set a date for the viva exam (there's no need to submit anything to the research committee, if I remember correctly). Of course, I need good turnaround times from my supervisor but I don't think that this will be a problem.

It all seems so sudden! The Jewish New Year is late this year, right at the end of September, so waiting for the Succot holiday (when I probably won't be working) in order to travel to Scotland would mean having the viva around 15-18 October. Assuming that everything goes to plan, do I really want to wait until October when I could finish a month earlier?

Also, there will probably be a degree awarding ceremony in November; someone uploaded to YouTube a short film about his graduation ceremony on 13 November 2018, so it would be wonderful if I could be awarded my degree at a similar ceremony this year. With regard to that film, either it was held in a different hall or else they've made changes: we had raked seating in 2013 whereas in 2018 everyone seems to be on the same level. I assume that the ceremony is for the MBA degree although in comparing a picture of my gown to the graduand's, mine seems to have an extra bar.

Having come this far, it's instructive to compare how I feel now as to how I felt in January; I wrote then Another weight on my mind has been my doctorate: specifically, a failure to chase after people in order to interview them. Two interviews and one written questionnaire came in the past two weeks which is the reason for the sudden increase in tempo. I still haven't managed to interest any company that works with SAP Business One so I can write about this in the 'further research' section of the conclusions. I sent out a few emails to SB1 companies yesterday; if someone does answer in the affirmative, then I can do the interview and include their data.

Edit: The winter degree ceremonies will be held between 7 and 10 December 2019 (source).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The end is in sight!

Although it wasn't documented here, I had a discussion with my doctoral supervisor two weeks ago in which we talked about the two remaining chapters which have to be written for my thesis. The penultimate chapter (I think that it's chapter six in the thesis) is entitled 'Data Analysis' and the final chapter is entitled 'Conclusions'.

It's time to start writing up the interviews which I have carried out in the past few months - including two which were carried out this week! 'Data analysis' is not a particularly good name as there isn't supposed to be any analysis in this chapter; 'presenting the raw data' is what the chapter does but that also isn't a good name. A much better name would be 'Case studies report'.

The chapter starts with a paragraph about each participating company, along with one about a company which declined to participate as they don't develop enhancements. It is important to include this company as a 'negative' example. They are in the hi-tech pharma development business sector, so I imagine that they use Priority for purchasing and accounting but not for their core business. I have to remember to add a table at the end of this section, summarising the information.

Then I present examples of the enhancements which the companies talked about, followed by selected answers to the interview questions. This is a bit awkward as I didn't transcribe the interviews word for word but instead translated  and summarised them. I must remember to present here quotes and not summaries.

I intend to finish this chapter by the end of the month which is definitely possible if I work on it most days. I'll try and write as much as possible over the weekend; I always have to 'get in the mood' for working on the thesis which takes a little time and so it's best to work as much as possible when I've achieved the required mind set.

I also worked a little on the title pages: I added a proper title page along with acknowledgments (this was already 90% complete in a separate document) and dedication. This latter item reads This thesis is dedicated to my two grandchildren Shaked and Li’or, who were born during the years of doctoral study, in the hope that one day they will appreciate that the old geezer with the white hair knew something in his time.

I will start work on the final chapter after I submit the completed chapter to my supervisor and wait for his reply. I have a list of topics which have to be covered in this chapter so at least I have a framework which simplifies the work. Finishing everything by the end of August seems definitely possible although of course there will be a polishing period. Assuming that the supervisor is satisfied, we can start arrangements for the viva exam, which will really be close to the end.

This work on the thesis means that I have to juggle my personal time and find the optimal allocation: along with the thesis I have dog walks (both short and long) and consulting work for two customers. This leaves no time for music: I have found that working on the songs is like falling into a bottomless pit with regard to time.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Swimming debut

I made my first appearance this year at the kibbutz swimming pool: it's been open since 1 June, but I haven't had a chance to get there yet.

My general level of fitness allowed me to swim sixteen lengths without too much bother. I could have carried on but I don't want to overdo it at first. The only problem which I had was that my left forearm started hurting after a few lengths, but even this pain went away as I continued. It's not surprising that the forearm hurts as it doesn't get much exercise - as opposed to my legs. 

Whilst sixteen lengths may not seem that much, last year I think that I started with only six lengths, then increased this by four every week. Of course, last year saw the debut of my swimming mp3 player which at least removes the boredom of long swims. I charged the player yesterday and took it with me today: at first, I barely heard anything through the right ear, but towards the end of my swim, something in the ear cleared and I could hear the songs properly.

Monday, June 10, 2019

New picture for harvest festival orchestra

This is a much better picture in terms of a photograph, but it seems that it was taken at an inappropriate moment when several musicians aren't playing.

The clarinetist strained his leg a few days before the performance which is why he has that huge bandage on his leg.

Left to right:
first row: recorders, oboe, clarinet, oud
second row: alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar
third row: piano, bass
fourth row: drums

I didn't mention this before, but one of the songs was described as 'country rock' which required me to improvise an eight bar guitar solo in the third verse. I tried out a few ideas in the rehearsals so that I had no problems in the final performance.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Crazy week

The last week has been absolutely crazy, mainly due to several very long work days. These left me tired in the evenings and severely reduced the amount of spare time which I need for my extramural activities.

I needed this time badly as I had been asked to be one of the performers in the 'orchestra' for this year's harvest festival. In preliminary discussions from the conductor/arranger, I was asked whether I read music (notes) and whether I have an electric guitar - yes and yes. I asked what the ratio between lead guitar and chordal work was: he answered 30% and 70%, but it was more like the other way around. I (and the other musicians) were sent well organised files of sheet music (as pdf) and sound files (as mp3); I printed my parts and started working with them and the music.

The arrangements were at a higher musical level than I was used to, and as a result, they required no small amount of personal rehearsal time - which is why I needed the spare time this week. I managed to get through two or three songs on Sunday and the same on Monday - but there were ten songs to be learnt! On Friday morning I had sessions with the occupational therapist and my doctoral advisor; as soon as these were over, I had another hour to go over the songs.

We had our first group rehearsal at 2 pm on Friday afternoon, which went about as well as expected under the conditions. Everyone had their problems: mine were that there is one song which is simply too fast for me to play (it consists of 32 bars in which the lead guitar has to play an even 16 semiquavers in each bar - think Greek music) and that I was over-playing in the chordal sections. These problems had simple answers: I didn't play on that fast piece (the conductor played my part on the oud) and in the chordal songs, I played on the off beats. This gives rise to the bum-CHING bum-CHING pattern which I don't like, but I was told that the piano was playing the on beats, and so everything would work out.

After a few hours of this of Friday, I didn't feel like rehearsing any more at home. On Saturday I got up at 5:30 am in order to take the dog for a long walk, then managed two hours of practice before the next group rehearsal at 10 am. This time was well spent as I worked on some parts (mainly leads) which were weak. I also discovered that I was to play an unscripted eight bar solo on one song, so I worked on this a little.

The 10 am rehearsal was out in the big grassy space where the festival always takes place. Our sound equipment has become very professional in the past few years; as a result, my guitar was plugged directly into the PA (no need to mike up my little amplifier) and I had my own monitor with its own mix. Everybody had their own monitor with their own mix, which shows sophistication on part of the mixing desk. I could hear myself play through the monitor via my left ear and everyone else via my right ear, but I had no idea of the balance, i.e. whether I was playing too loud or too quiet.

After the orchestra went through the songs, the singers turned up for their rehearsal. I discovered that they were singing over some places which I was playing lead guitar, which left me with mixed feelings: on the one hand, I was pleased that they were taking the focus whereas on the other hand, I would be standing out less. In one song, the guitar part was necessary as it was restating the tune after a modulation and intended to help the singers. We also had to chop two songs in half, as they were taking too long.

The rehearsal finished just after 1 pm; I discovered that I could hardly get up in order to walk home. The concentrated sitting and playing was very tiring. We were sitting in what might be called a side-less tent: there was a roof over our heads to keep out the sun. Unfortunately, there wasn't quite enough room for me to sit in this area so I was out in the open for a few hours. One of the sound engineers spotted this problem, and they rigged up a side extension which left me covered. Fortunately the weather was on our side: it was cloudy and not too hot. It has been much worse in the past.

At home, I immediately had a cold shower then something to eat. I tried to relax as much as possible and also drink as much as possible. We had to return at 4:30 pm for a dress rehearsal with all (or at least, as many as possible) of the participants; this went very well and we finished early at about 5:45 pm - the show was due to start at 6:45 pm. Instead of going home once again, I laid down on one of the sheets covering the grass and rested.

The show itself went very well, although I have no idea what it sounded like to the audience. Afterwards I was buzzing with endorphins. The above picture gives a good idea of what we looked like, although I am waiting for better pictures from the 'official' photographer. Whereas I can be seen clearly, the trombonist has disappeared! His trombone can be seen between the clarinetist (third on the front row) and me, but he himself is hidden.

Compare and contrast with previous reports about the harvest festival, here (2018), here and here (both 2006).

I discovered something very strange with the mobile phone app which I am using to monitor how many steps I take each day (Samsung Health): apparently on Friday I took 14,328 steps and on Saturday 17,229! I know that I walked a fair amount but surely not so much. From where were the extra steps coming? The answer to this conundrum came when I looked at the distribution of steps: there were many steps taken during the two hour period 11-13 on Saturday. The application had been misinterpreting my foot tapping as walking instead of maintaining the beat! Once I realised this, I took my phone out of my pocket for the dress rehearsal and performance in order not to skew the results even more.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Diet, part three

I had a follow-up meeting with 'my' dietician yesterday. She asked me what I had changed in my diet, and I answered that almost everything has changed, in accordance with her directions. I am eating less fruit, more raw vegetables and snack on raw almonds and cashew nuts. Her scales revealed the same weight loss that I had seen at home - 2kg. There is every reason to assume that I will continue to lose weight. She asked me whether I had felt any change: I thought that she meant whether I felt 'lighter' or 'looser', but she actually meant about my appetite. I am pleased to say that I don't feel hungry and that there are rarely pangs for something sweet. I miss the milk, though: the cold liquid which soothes my throat and cools me down. Soy milk almost fills the job description.

I won't have any blood tests until September, but I imagine that these will show a decreased level of glucose, an increase in haemoglobin and improvement in the cholesterol factors.

After getting home (just after 6pm), I took the dog for a long walk. I have found the setting on my new phone which allows MapMyWalk to measure distances - it transpires that certain battery saving settings turn off the phone's GPS, even though the 'location' function still works. We went out for another short walk in the evening, bringing my daily steps total to 11720! On Friday, I managed 13,259 steps: two dog walks in the kibbutz, one long walk, and two walks down to the dining room. All this exercise must be doing some good.