Monday, July 13, 2020

Swimming pool reopened

There was an absurd situation over the weekend when public swimming pools (and as such, the kibbutz swimming pool) were closed, but swimming pools connected to hotels were open (and even allowing the entrance on non-hotel guests). As many people pointed out, the chances of getting infected with Covid-19 whilst in the swimming pool is almost zero, and is certainly zero for those who are seriously swimming (as opposed to loafing and playing around). Finally the special Covid-19 task force/government committee has made a good decision and is reopening the pools. I don't know what else is being reopened and what is being closed, but the pool is the only thing that interests me.

So it's back to swimming on Friday.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Judy Dyble, RIP

I have just read about the death of Judy Dyble, who was the first singer in Fairport Convention, way way back in 1967, when she was Richard Thompson's girl-friend. She wasn't a distinguished singer, in the same way that Sandy Denny was, but she did make an instrumental contribution to their first album, playing recorder and electric autoharp, as well as singing. She reprised her freaky recorder in the instrumental break of 'Jack Of Diamonds' at Cropredy 1997.

I got to meet Judy at Cropredy 2000: she was a nice enough person. I also have her autobiography which I bought a few years ago when it was published, which gives an alternative view of the beginnings of Fairport.

She also had a connection to the nascent King Crimson: for a while she was the girl-friend of Ian McDonald who was playing with Giles, Giles and Fripp before they metamorphosed into KC. As such, she appears on a demo recording of 'I talk to the wind', a song which changed greatly from its original arrangement to the one on ITCOTCK.

Judy made a return to music in the last two decades; I have on my music players a modern version of ITTTW in which the chords have been mucked up. She sings with little expression and I don't really like that track.

Funnily enough, whilst walking the dog this afternoon, I was thinking about how old the current Fairporters are, and when they intend to give up playing. What is rewarding is the prominence that the notice of her death received: I saw it on the Guardian website, but the same announcement appeared also on a BBC website as well as other places. I wonder whether Simon Nicol or Ashley Hutchings will publish something on the topic.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Swimming pool closed

The high number of new Covid-19 infections in Israel in the second wave (over 1000 a day, which is more than the peak during the first wave) has lead to certain restrictions being put back in place. Most of them have no effect whatsoever on me, but the one specific restriction which will affect me is the forced closing of the kibbutz swimming pool (surely the chlorine in the water will kill the virus?). 

Due to the virus, the OP hasn't been at work for the last four months, and so instead of spending up to two hours with her on a Friday morning, we have a short chat and then I head to the swimming pool for a brief swim - this is in addition to Saturday mornings. So even I though I am deliberately swimming less in each session as compared to last year, I am actually swimming more. I even purchased a new waterproof mp3 player which seemed to be better than my original machine, but since copying files to it, my computer can't identify the player when it is connected.

Last week I had my blood pressure measured a few hours after swimming: 120/77, which is very good. On Monday I underwent an ergometric stress test, which means walking on a treadmill while being attached to an ECG machine. At first, the treadmill moved slowly and was flat; every few minutes the speed would increase automatically as well as the angle. After several minutes, the treadmill finally got to a speed at which I felt comfortable, walking very fast - I could have carried on at this rate for quite some time. But then the speed changed once again and simply became too fast for me to walk so I asked to stop. After all, the name of the game is not to show how much stamina I have but rather how the heart performs when under stress.

Why did I do this? During the lockdown, I noticed that my feet - especially the right foot - were swelling up, and it was painful to move them. Although that extreme swelling has not returned, I still see every evening that my right foot is somewhat inflexible. The swelling is due to liquid leaking from somewhere in the body, and so my doctor ordered a few tests. The first was ultrasound of the veins in the thighs - nothing wrong there. The stress test was next, and I have an echocardiogram examination in another two weeks. I had one of these four years ago which didn't show anything noticeable.

And it turns out that because of these tests, I was once again denied the chance to give blood. I had hoped that there would be no more problems, especially considering my last haemoglobin test which was relatively high for me. But no.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

First swim for this year

The opening of the kibbutz swimming pool was delayed this year because of Corona, but it is now open (it might have been open since last week). Today I had the opportunity of making my first swim of the year. It was very similar to the first swim of last year: my left arm starting hurting after a few lengths but the pain disappeared as I carried on. My right ear hurt - this is something new. I couldn't get my swimming headphones to work, even though I supposedly charged them the day before. As the day was hot (the temperature reached 37°C in the afternoon) and the water was cool, the difference between the two (which is what we feel) was great: I felt like I was swimming through ice for the first length. 

Oh yes: I swam 16 lengths, which seems to be my distance for my first swim; I wonder how far I'll swim next week. Then I came home and after showering and drinking tea, I fell asleep for an hour.

[Edit from a few days later] I didn't charge the mp3 player at all. I mistakenly tried to plug the usb adapter directly into a computer, forgetting that I had a special cable for this. Today I found the cable, and connected everything, after which the player began showing a red light: presumably a sign of charging.

Monday, June 08, 2020

The background behind another song which is used for Israeli folk dancing

The story that I told in a blog a few days ago reminded me of a similar story. Every weekday for at least 40 years, the Army radio broadcasts at 4 pm a programme normally composed of 'classic' Israeli songs. Sometimes these songs are well known but frequently they are lesser known (at least, to me). I don't listen to this program frequently - I would only hear it when I had spent a day in Tel Aviv and was returning home with a colleague in his car.

One day a song was played that I recognised as it is used as the tune for another Israeli folk dance (which also I learnt in the early 80s), 'Nahal Naaran'. Hearing the song in the relative quiet of a car (as opposed to the distorted version played when dancing) enabled me to listen to it properly and I was most appreciative of it.

Once at home, I found the song on You Tube (as referenced above) and started to read about its background, primarily who sung. I could identify the man who seemed to be the lead singer but I was also mildly interested to discover who the others were. To my great surprise, I discovered that the female singer in the song is a member of my kibbutz!

Of course I had to write a gushing message that evoked an interesting response. Since then, the singer (who is probably now approaching the age of 80 and not someone with whom I have much contact) has become a friend of mine.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Is it OK to have a PhD thesis with shortcomings and inaccuracies?

I'll have to define this blog entry as a 'guest posting' as I have written almost nothing of what appears below. What is not mine will appear in italics and in black.

A few days ago, someone asked the question "Is it OK to have a PhD thesis with shortcomings and inaccuracies?" on the Academia Stack Exchange, beginning with the statement "I recently defended my PhD thesis and was awarded a pass with some minor corrections. I am due to submit the final version of my thesis very soon." Hopefully I will soon be in the same position (the latest news is that the external examiner has suggested a few dates in July).

The best answer was The thesis is a "good" one if you have passed and will be awarded your degree. Don't overthink it. You have learned something from producing it that you can leverage into future work. That is, in lots of ways, a big advantage. If your advisor is also happy and wants to work with you on any future extension, you have a positive outcome, if not a perfect one. On the basis of this answer, someone commented People forget that a PhD is a 'learning degree'. Too often, completion is treated as the end, when really it is only just the beginning. If you learned something and can express that you know how or why errors occurred and what they mean for your work, then you have proved you justify being awarded your PhD. A PhD is about the process, not the end result.

Back to me: there is a huge difference between the academic and lay understandings of a doctoral degree. A lay person believes that a doctorate shows how clever a person is, and that the doctorate discovered new knowledge (that might have been true once). The academic understanding is that the degree is an apprenticeship in performing research; it is unlikely in these days that anything startling new will arise from a doctoral thesis, but it is a good base from which to start further research.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

A musical day

A starting point for today's story could equally be yesterday evening, a week ago, two years ago or even 42 years ago... I think I'll start from there. In the 1970s and 80s, kibbutzim used to have a weekly evening of Israeli folk dancing. When I emigrated in September 1978, there weren't enough people on my kibbutz who were interested in folk dancing so we used to combine with a neighbouring kibbutz and a neighbouring moshav. There was a new dance (to me) which I learnt fairly quickly: it had lots of bouncing around and was very fast, and dancing it produced a great deal of endorphins. I never managed to catch the name of the song, but it was a girl and boy singing alternate verses.

Over the years, I've enjoyed dancing this dance but still have never managed to learn the name of the tune. The recording to which we used to dance probably wasn't too clear and anywhere I was too busy bouncing around and trying not to collide with any one to catch the name of the song.  It was played the other week at the harvest festival (itself a strange event because of Covid-19), although I wasn't fast enough to record it on my mobile phone.

Yesterday evening I decided to make a brief recording of me playing the tune on the piano; I thought that I would send it to someone more versed than I in Israeli music during the period 1948-78, while it still had a charm of its own and was less western European in its attitude. This morning I sent my recording to a colleague and she replied within ten minutes. Here is the song which I know, and here is someone teaching the dance to a different version of the song, which is called 'The flower seller'.

Once I was finished with this song, I watched part of a documentary about the Tamla Motown label ('Hitsville') which was very interesting. Tamla was part of my childhood but it was not something which I ever grew close to, instead admiring it from afar.

Part of this inspired me to write some lyrics. At the beginning I worked out the music to a new song, whose arrangement I've been working on ever since. Unfortunately I've never been able to write any words for it, apart from an incomplete verse which I wrote at the beginning. Today I went back to the song, and within about ten minutes (literally - the writing went incredibly quickly) I wrote another two verses and a middle section, including rhymes and proper scansion. It makes me wonder how I can be barren for so long and suddenly the whole thing pops out.

After a rest, I thought I'd try my hand (or my voice) at recording the vocal. Instead of getting out the mike stand and microphone, I thought that I'd try the headset which I use for Team/Zoom meetings. This worked out very well - at least, after I turned off the air conditioner which was affecting the microphone badly. One take and I was done. Listening to the playback, I realised that the tune for the middle section was almost exactly the same as another of my songs, so I had to sing this part again with a different tune. This went quickly and I was also able to slot the new verse into the time line without ruining anything else.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Heatwave no longer

After the 40°C+ temperatures last week, things cooled down on Saturday: the highest temperature outside was a more "modest" 30°C - but inside the air did not cool, being a few degrees hotter than outside. Today is much cooler: barely touching 20°C outside, and inside is also cooler. There were a few splatterings of rain just now!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

More DBA news in May: it's getting even nearer the end

I last wrote on this topic 11 days ago, saying that "The only minor problem remaining is that a submission/certification form has to be inserted after the acknowledgments in the thesis. What I will do is create a PDF version of the thesis, split it after ten pages into two new documents, then merge the first split, the form and the second split into a new document. Fortunately I have a program that will do this without any bother." 

Not quite as easy as that. The file that denotes the layout of the thesis states that the order of the first few pages should be Title; Abstract; Acknowledgements; Dedication; Declaration; Table of contents; Abbreviations; List of tables; List of figures; and then the text. The appendices should come before the references. The order in my document was Title; Abstract; Table of contents; Abbreviations; List of tables; List of figures; Acknowledgements; Dedication; and of course the references came before the appendices (my supervisor told me to do this: previously the appendices came before the references). So I had to dig out three pages (A & D) and insert them in an earlier place. This shouldn't be a problem, but following the dedication was a section break, which causes the pages following this break to be numbered differently (the pre-text pages are numbered with Roman Numerals (i, iv, etc) whereas afterwards they are numbered normally). As a result, almost the entire thesis got numbered incorrectly. So I had to fix this.

Then I sent the entire document to a PDF printer which naturally creates a PDF (the F in PDF stands for 'file'); I extracted from this the first six pages (title, abstract, acknowledgments, dedication) into a new file and removed those pages from the original document. Then I merged the first six pages, the declaration form and the rest of the document into a new combined document.

After doing so, I discovered that the pagination had gone haywire: I had a blank page after the acknowledgments and tables were starting at the bottom of a page instead of the first line of the next page. So I went through the original Word document, trying to ensure that the pagination was correct. Then I repeated the entire PDF process (create, split, merge) only to discover that somehow two tables had been numbered incorrectly - instead of 13 and 14, they were now numbered 3 and 4 (I don't know how that happened). Another check to see that the lists of tables and figures is correct and then another PDF cycle. Still there were problems.

Then I remembered that Word has its own create PDF functionality: it might be better to use this than send the document to a PDF printer, as the latter can repaginate the document. Indeed this was so, as the PDF that I obtained directly from Word was paginated correctly. After checking that there were no more errors, I split the document and merged, creating the final document which also received a new name. Then it was over to Turnitin in order to upload the document to the university.

I informed the administrative director about the upload and asked about the binding process (apparently two or three copies have to be soft bound prior to the viva exam). After waiting a week with no response, I resent the letter, and yesterday afternoon received a reply. Not a word of congratulation at having got this far; instead dry words: "It is normally up to you to submit the bound examination copies of your thesis but it is obviously not possible at this time. I am waiting for confirmation from the University for the new process but I am assuming the version you submitted via Turnitin will suffice. "

I don't remember if I have mentioned the topic of the external examiner here. The viva is held with one external (to the University) examiner, one internal and my supervisor. My supervisor asked me several months ago about possible external examiners, which struck me as rather strange, as the university should know better than I. Normally I would have asked for someone who had been listed in the references, as this would imply a connection to my topic; there were no recent British authors referenced, so this idea didn't get very far. Then I searched the staff directories of a few British universities, looking for business orientated schools of information. I don't remember now how many I looked at before I found what seemed to be the perfect selection: a lecturer at Northumbria University (and thus reasonably close to Edinburgh) who worked several years for SAP before turning to academia. The administrative director wrote that this lecturer has agreed in principle to be the external examiner; now there is some form of bureaucratic process involved in signing her up.

I wonder whether this examiner gets paid by my university (i.e. from my tuition fees) or whether it is considered part of the job at her university and possibly my university has to reimburse hers. Or whether it's like peer reviewing papers for a professional journal, which is done for free. Also, the fact that her university is close to mine is now irrelevant as the viva will obviously be done via team working software ("We have successfully held four of these since the beginning of the lockdown and it has worked very well on each occasion" - I am surprised that there were so many doctoral candidates from my department at the same stage).

Yesterday's letter ends with the words "I’ll get back in touch once the examiners are approved". The tricky subject of fees will have to be discussed again: I got this wrong in my earlier blog. Fees have to be paid up until the final bound thesis is received, which can be a few months after the viva, depending on its results.

I doubt that I have mentioned this before, but there are five possible outcomes of the viva:
  1. to award the degree as is
  2. to award the degree subject to minor amendments 
  3. to require resubmission of the thesis with major amendments without a further viva 
  4. to require resubmission of the thesis with major amendments with a further viva  
  5. to fail the candidate.
Of these outcomes, the final one should never happen as the supervisor should only recommend the candidate to submit the thesis when it is complete in the supervisor's opinion. Failed theses are the supervisor's fault! The first outcome is very rare whereas the second is the most common. Of course, this outcome is the one that I expect for my thesis.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


A heatwave started yesterday which is forecast to last the entire week. The picture is of our barometer: the lowest figure (40.0) is the temperature outside - that's 40°C!!!

Inside is a mere 29.4°C. The time is not 20:16 but rather 1 pm.

At 9:30 pm yesterday the temperature was around 28°C; I didn't look to see what the temperature was at 5:30 am when I got up to take the dog for a walk but already I could feel the warm wind.

Naturally I am going out as little as possible.

I have to say that as much as I don't like cold, rainy days (I had enough of them in my childhood), they're infinitely better than 40.9°C torrid days (the temperature rose a little more after I took the picture). After all, one can wear a coat, put on boots and carry an umbrella for the rain and cold, but there is nothing that one can do about the desiccating heat.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

John Martyn vs Dave Evans

Listening to 'Stormbringer!' (the album) again, I noticed similarities between Martyn and Dave Evans: now and then they both feature two guitars playing along with female backing vocals. I have to say though that Dave Evans is much much better: the songs are more interesting and the guitar playing is from another world. It's true that Martyn's playing would improve, but he went in a different direction to the one presented in 'Stormbringer!'. I wonder what would have happened had Evans recorded for Island Records instead of the regional Village Thing. Probably he would have eschewed the bright lights, being too modest for success.

Looking for a suitable picture to display, I discover that someone has done the world a great service and uploaded to YouTube the complete cd version of 'The words inbetween' with the extra songs coming from his second (and less good) album. 

But more importantly, I found the following on the Internet :
The story goes that Ian A. Anderson and John Turner were sat in their habitual coffee shop, Splinters, trying to come up with a name for their new record label. At the time (the early 70s) Greenwich Village was naturally the mecca destination for any musician worth his 12-string, so the pair had taken to referring to their slice of Bristol as 'Clifton Village' (long before this was taken up by estate agents across the land, albeit in a very different fashion). And so The Village Thing was born; home to a great many extraordinary talents, not least of all Dave Evans, and his magnificent debut 'The Words In Between'. 
Like many albums of the era - and inclination - "Words" was recorded straight to tape in someone's home (in this instance, Ian Anderson's). Nothing unusual there – the DIY aspect of making records at this time was something of a necessity, rather than an aesthetic – but one has only to look a little further to realise that the sounds Dave Evans relayed to a shiny new Revox were unique. Not just the songs, but the guitar on which he played; every aspect of his sound was of his own design. No small feat during a time when most of his peers had to beg borrow or steal an instrument, just to fulfill their Saturday night slot at the Troubadour. 
Evans has rightfully earned cult status amongst anyone with an ear for the fingerpicking style of guitar. Even the most cursory glance at his 'Old Grey Whistle Test' session is enough to leave one spellbound – Lou Reed (in the audience at the time) was said to have been completely mesmerised by Evans' phenomenal – yet seemingly effortless – touch. As far as comparisons go, Evans could easily sit alongside the likes of Robbie Basho or John Fahey in terms of technical ability, but the rarity of his talent lies in his gift for melody, which is relayed both instrumentally, and via his sweet Welsh lilt. In a world where it seems as though every guitar LP of the 60s and 70s has been scrutinised within an inch of its life, 'The Words In Between' might just be that rare thing: a wonderfully arcane gem.

"The Words in Between' feels clear and effortless. It's a recording of just guitar and voice, and really does guide us to the spaces in-between, where we find solace, a calm warmth. Dave’s consoling voice comes through in his words, and his exquisite guitar playing guides us along on this lovely journey. I'm so happy that this album will be put back into the world -- for new ears to love, and for the old, worn out copies to be replaced.” Steve Gunn, 2018

"After Bert, John, Ralph and Wizz, where to next? Look further than this companionable compendium of small wonders. One of the last great undiscovered folk guitar albums of its era.", Pete Paphides, 2018

It's nice to know that someone else feels the same way as I do.

Today is 'Bonny black hare' day, and completely by coincidence that was one of the songs that I heard this morning when walking the dog.

The user interface in Blogger has been changed without recognition and is much less intiuitive IMHO. Inserting the above picture was an exercise in cruelty and I had to look at the HTML code of a previous post to see the necessary command to put the picture on the left with the text on the right. BTW, it's
style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"
Edit from a few days later: I discovered that there is an almost hidden option, "Restore classic Blogger" (or similar). Choosing this restores the interface to how it used to be.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Jamie Oliver inspires a chicken dish

I haven't blogged about food for several months, not so much because I haven't been eating but more because I haven't tried any new dishes.

Our satellite television provider has been varying its content: one 'open' channel (i.e. one that is covered in the general subscription) has been showing a variety of programmes, including one series, "Jamie Oliver in Italy". I like JO's programmes although generally I haven't particularly liked the dishes that he cooks. A programme on Italian cooking enables one to see some sights of rural Italy - something lacking in these Corona days - as well as new recipes.

Unfortunately, most of the recipes shown are not kosher: sea food, pork, meat with milk (cheese), rabbit.... One recipe which I did see which needs a little conversion is 'sweet and sour rabbit': obviously I'm not going to use rabbit, which is not kosher and not available in Israel. We have two pairs of chicken thighs and drumsticks waiting to be cooked, so here we go....

The recipe on the web site isn't the same as the recipe shown live on television, so I feel able to improvise a little. Here are my ingredients:
  • chicken portions
  • three spoonfuls of olive oil (the web site says brown the meat in the oil, but I didn't see this on television)
  • a cup of white wine in which has been dissolved a spoonful of sugar
  • a cup of balsamic vinegar (this replaces mosto)
  • a cup of non-alcoholic wine juice (the Italians use red wine, of course)
  • a cup of fig syrup (not in the original)
  • one sliced onion
  • chopped tomatoes (these were chopped into large pieces; I think it would have been better to have smaller pieces)
  • a cup of hot water
  • 50 grams chopped almonds
  • surprise ingredient: a teaspoon of marmite! This adds umami and colouring. 
Cook for one and a half hours over a low light with an uncovered pan in order to reduce the liquids and enhance the flavours.

The result was very tasty! Presumably I am going to cook this the next time that we have company - on Friday night the entire family was present for the first time in two months! The amounts of ingredients listed above were a bit too much for the small amount of chicken; I could double or treble the chicken without changing the rest of the quantities (after all, I can always add water).

In episode 6 of the series, Jamie visits the Tuscan town of Pitigliano, where he meets an elderly grandmother, apparently the only survivor of a once flourishing Jewish community, and learns how to cook stuffed artichokes (this looks like something that I am not going to attempt!). There is even a scene where Jamie and the grandmother sit in the local synagogue, looking at a picture of the pre-war community. No mention was made whatsoever about the laws of kashrut (no pancetta in this recipe!). Someone wrote about this episode here (warning: it's in Italian).

Saturday, May 09, 2020

DBA news in May: it's getting very near the end

I spent most of last weekend working again on my thesis, mainly adding summary sections to each chapter, but generally trying to improve the text and make the points as clear as can be. I uploaded the thesis to my supervisor who responded within a few days saying that the work was very good although that he had made a few minor changes. I had to scour the thesis looking for these and the only one which I could find relatively easily was the changing of a section title from 'Research failures' (i.e. topics which didn't work out as I had expected) to 'Research hindsights' - except that he wrote 'hindsights' with a grocer's apostrophe, i.e. hindsight's (when I pointed this out to him, he said that he was pleased that I found the deliberate mistake).

Afraid that I might have missed something more important, I tried to find out how I could display all the changes made in the document. Eventually I discovered that Review > Track changes > Reviewing pane would open a window with all the changes. Well, my supervisor did say that his changes were minor: capitalising a few words and hyphenating some, such as seven-stage.

He said that now was the time to get a second critique before the final submission and so on Thursday I uploaded the thesis as it currently stands. I contacted the DBA administrator to tell him of the upload and to request a reasonably quick response - last time it took five weeks to get the review - so I was surprised this morning to receive an email saying that there is only one review of the final thesis, and that "The next step, provided your supervisor is happy that you have addressed the previous feedback, is to submit your thesis for examination". So I suppose that the writing-up stage has now been completed!!!

I shall have to get used to the feeling that this is the final product. Externally I'm pleased because I will be able to submit a bound thesis during the period for which I have paid my fees (another month) - over the past few days I had been considering how to pay fees for another six months. Internally the doubt starts to creep in: impostor's syndrome.

The only minor problem remaining is that a submission/certification form has to be inserted after the acknowledgments in the thesis. What I will do is create a pdf version of the thesis, split it after ten pages into two new documents, then merge the first split, the form and the second split into a new document. Fortunately I have a program that will do this without any bother.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

A good weekend

I have just finished a very good weekend.

It started at around 7 am on Friday morning, when I read my private email. There was a message from my doctoral supervisor who wrote "I think the changes you have made have certainly helped the narrative flow of the document. I've added a few comments for you to consider, but I think this is just about 'ready for submission' ... The effort you've put into this document really shows! Well done!". From his feedback, it seemed that all he was asking was for summaries at the end of four chapters. I worked on this on and off during Friday and Saturday, adding a few more paragraphs at the end of those chapters. When I thought that I was done, I took yet another look through the thesis and realised that there was a section missing, something that we had never discussed. The final chapter restates the research questions that were presented at the beginning of the thesis; following them were stated the aims and objectives of the research. Nowhere in the thesis was anything written related to those aims and objectives, so I thought it necessary to add a section (another page) discussing whether the aims and objectives had been realised. I finished this off then uploaded to the supervisor what I hope is the final version, at around 8 pm yesterday evening.

I also did some paying work for some of my clients.

Over the past few days, I have been copy editing a book entitled "E = mc2" by David Bodanis; something went wrong when converting the epub format to mobi (which is what the Kindle wants), so I had to go through the entire book and fix the formatting. I didn't really read the book - I look forward to doing so in the next few days - but one part captured my interest, about an astronomer called Cecilia Payne, who in 1925 concluded in her doctoral thesis that the sun is about 75% hydrogen, and not iron as was previously thought. The scientific world ignored her until someone else (a man) arrived at the same conclusion. Her findings were ignored because she was a woman. While I was reading my own thesis, somewhere in the methodology chapter, I mentioned her in a footnote when I was writing about how the identity of the researcher should not make any difference in the exact sciences.

Yesterday was also my first grand-daughter's 4th birthday party. The rate of new Covid-19 infections in Israel (outside of the ultra-religious strongholds in Jerusalem and Bnei Barak) has dropped to zero in the past few days, so people are returning slowly to their previous habits. I had my mask on for most of the time and kept a distance from everyone else (no hugging), but I'm pleased that I was able to take part in the party.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Several years ago, when I was looking to see whether the Island samplers "Bumpers" and "El pea" had received a reissue on cd, I discovered that there was a 3 cd set entitled "Strangely strange" which encompassed (if I remember correctly) all four Island samplers. I only downloaded songs which I didn't already have, so I'm not too familiar with the complete set.

One track which was on 'Bumpers' but not SS, was "Go out and get it" by John and Beverley Martin; this song didn't impress me very much at the time. Someone obviously did their homework, for it was replaced by a song, "Stormbringer!", which is much better. That's an understatement: it's far far better, being an excellent track.

'Stormbringer!' the song starts off with what sounds like a 12 string guitar playing an octave chord with no third, before drums call the song to order. Then follows the weakest of all chord progressions, where a major chord falls to its relative minor (think G -> Em); the feeling which I get from this is one of resignation. The Em then resolves to D which is the tonic (I am probably wrong about the key) and a verse evolves. The chorus is much stronger although the music is familiar with a descending bass line. Then follows a piano solo, picking notes here and there with no attempt to create a melodic line. Another verse follows with understated strings in the left channel accompanied by very assertive drums. Those drums: one could make a substantiated claim that they are the lead instrument here. They're not keeping time but rather punctuating and emphasising the lyrics. The sound of this song is very 'open': instruments can breathe; they're not competing from room in the audio spectrum, instead each contributes a little to the final product, where the total is greater than the sum of its parts. I suppose that this is part of the production style of Joe Boyd.

It is customary to mention at this point that the entire 'Stormbringer!' album was recorded in Woodstock NY under the influence of The Band. Levon Helm does indeed play on two tracks but ironically not the eponymous song; the outstanding drummer is Herbie Lovelle, otherwise known as a session drummer. The pianist and musical director is Paul Harris, with whom Joe Boyd also worked with on Nick Drake's albums.

I was so enraptured by this song that of course I had to listen to the entire album: I wish I hadn't. The album is credited to John and Beverley Martin: Beverley was quite possibly better known at the time. and so the album is approximately shared 50:50 with his and her songs. I do not like the Beverley songs and I don't like her singing (or her phrasing): there's an 'ad lib' in one of her songs which is cringe induring. 'Come and get it' is about the third best song on the album, which isn't saying much, and 'John the Baptist' is second best. The title song stands head and shoulders above everything else.

I wondered what their follow-up record, "The road to ruin", would sound like: one listen discouraged me so much that I am disinclined to try again. Then the marriage fell apart and John went out on his own (or maybe the other way around), developing an echoplexed sound and becoming a professional drunk. None of his later, electric, work matches the beauty of 'Stormbringer!' (the song); his singing also became more relaxed, or to use the technical term, 'slurred'. This does not press my buttons.

'The road to ruin' compared to 'Stormbringer!' sounds a little like Nick Drake's 'Bryter Layter' compared to 'Five leaves left', which is not accidental as they had the same producer, Joe Boyd, and many of the musicians that played on 'Bryter Layter' also played on 'The road to ruin'. I thought that I would look up the Joe Boyd angle in his autobiography, 'White Bicycles': I was quite surprised to read that Joe didn't think much of John Martyn.

"[Chris] Blackwell [owner of Island records] made me a present of John Martyn. He had released a couple of LPs on Island but Chris didn’t really know what to do with him and thought I ought to. I admired his playing but had never been a huge fan. When John started living and performing with Beverley Kutner, an ex-Denny Cordell artist [that] Tod Lloyd wanted to sign to Witchseason, I was stuck with him. I recorded an album with the couple in America using a New York pianist named Paul Harris as musical director. I thought Paul’s style would work for ‘Time Has Told Me’, so when he came to London to finish John & Beverley’s Stormbringer, I introduced him to Nick."

I actually saw John and Beverley Martin perform in the time between the two albums in April 1970 when they appeared on a treble bill with Fotheringay headlining and Nick Drake supporting. As I've written elsewhere, unfortunately I have no recollection of this evening whatsoever, so much so that I don't know whether Nick Drake even appeared or whether J&B performed as a duo or with extra musicians.

Someone else's take on this album can be found here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pitfalls when designing Priority forms

I'm not sure whether what I will describe here can be defined as a bug; it's certainly not a feature. Let's call it a pitfall - in fact, last night I was considering created a completely new blog which would be called 'Programming Pitfalls in Priority' or PPP for short (where 'programming' is an adjective, not a verb). I have now done so and so this entry can be found here. From now on, Priority tips and pitfalls will appear on my new blog and not this one.

Disclaimer: all of the below is written to the best of my knowledge. As this topic is barely documented, I have to base my comments on my experience which may well be limited. In other words, there may be a simple way of getting around the pitfall described below of which I am simply unaware.

The scenario: a client wants to add a new personalised field to an existing form. My normal way of doing this is to add the required field to the base table of the form and then add the field to the form which will display it; a more complicated method involves adding the field to a continuation table (good examples of this are the service calls and projects forms). Built-in triggers on every form are responsible for loading and saving all data which is displayed on the form which is derived from the base table, whereas the developer is responsible for loading and saving data which comes from a continuation table. In other words, if I add a field to a base table and then to a form, I don't have to worry about it being loaded or saved. 

The problem: after a few days' testing, the client decides that she doesn't need the added field. OK: the automatic, unthinking, simple solution is simply to remove the field from the form by deleting the definition. WRONG!!!! Form preparation, after adding the field, will modify the built-in triggers to include the new field (if it was defined as belonging to the base table) and so deleting the field from the form will cause these triggers to scream that they are missing a field when a user accesses this form. What is worse is that 'form preparation' does not detect this problem. The developer has no way of accessing the built-in triggers so it is not possible to remove from them the references to the new field. 

The correct way to 'remove' the added field would seem to be to hide it, not delete it.

In my opinion, the bug is that after deleting the field, form preparation does not update the built-in triggers and instruct them to remove the added field.   

Ironically, displaying the field via a continuation table does not cause this problem as the field is loaded and saved 'manually' and so the developer can simply remove the references to the added field.

Saturday, April 25, 2020


A friend asked me the other day whether I knew of a simple program to edit video files. After one minute of research, I discovered that the default Movie player in Windows 10 enables one to trim video files, i.e. extract a portion of an existing file and save this portion to a new file. I checked that this indeed does work and passed the tip on.

The next time that we discussed this topic, she said that the player didn't work on her computer and that it was 'LimitedWare', that it [presumably the editing functionality] stops working after a certain time. It may be so but that doesn't interest me. Someone else had suggested a program called VideoPad which I saw on her desktop when we had a zoom chat. I intuited that this program could put together several video files in order to create a composite movie.

Today I downloaded and installed the program; I used it to create a movie of clips which my wife had filmed of our garden and balconies. I wanted to see whether this program could replace the venerable (but painful) Microsoft Movie Maker. On the basis of the short film which I made, the answer is YES! There are both time line and storyboard views as well as transitions. I didn't see whether the possibility of turning a picture by 90 degrees exists, but I suspect that it does. Fewer transitions between two clips are available in VP than in MMM, but the existing ones are sufficient as normally I only use fades and cross-fades .

Extra advantages: the program accepts both mp4 and mov files without the need to convert them to wmv, which saves time. The program can output to a variety of formats, where mp4 is the default, as well as to ISO format in order to burn a DVD. In other words, VideoPad is much better than MMM for these functions.

Summing up: it seems that VideoPad is anywhere between the same and infinitely better than MMM, so I will definitely use it for my next movie project. Except that I can't imagine what this next project might be as the possibility of a holiday abroad is currently 0%. 

One idea which I had was as follows: in 'the old days' before we had a video camera which directly created computer files (since 2013), I used to transfer video cassettes directly to DVDs, without any editing. I could take such a dvd, upload it into a computer as one huge file then cut it into myriad pieces, each one a 'scene'. Then I could recombine chosen pieces in order to create a more coherent movie. Of course, the quality won't be so high as my current movies, as the very first step was analog to digital, but there won't be any further loss of quality along the way. I have to admit that such a project currently has a very low possibility of happening.

Another more up-to-date and ongoing project is to make a compilation of grand-daughter number two in her first steps. 

I am 'coming out of the bunker' and going back to work in my office tomorrow. The major thing that I am going to miss is the quiet of home; I haven't heard a work of Russian in six weeks. I suspect that whilst working I will listen to music through headphones for most of the time. I will wear a mask every time that I leave my minimal work space, although I don't know what to do about gloves - especially when going to the toilet. I don't particularly want to use eight pairs of gloves a day, but on the other hand, I don't want to touch 'communal surfaces' with my bare hands.

[Edit: frequent hand washing replaces the need for gloves]

Friday, April 17, 2020

Intra-program messaging

I wrote just over a month ago: "For fun, I started work on Friday evening, writing a program [the bakery manager] in which every screen is non-modal (this should be an interesting experiment), continued on Saturday and finished yesterday evening with a few reports". This program, like the OP's management program, is composed mainly of pairs of screens: one screen displays records about an entity (customers, sales items, orders, nicknames) and the other screen in the pair allows a given record to be edited. Normally, this second, edit, screen is invoked by using the ShowModal method, but this time around I wanted to try something different.

The edit screens are non-modal MDI son screens, as are their parent screens. The method which I originally chose to allow an edit screen to communicate with its parent was to invoke a procedure in the main form which then iterated through all the currently displayed MDI son screens in order to find a form which could be updated. When walking the dog the other day, I thought of a different and faster method (no pun intended) to achieve this.

The parent screen invokes the edit screen via a 'Create' call instead of 'Execute': this is simply using a more modern technique and has nothing to do with the intra-program messaging. In the past, normally one parameter was passed to the edit screen, the index number of the tuple to be edited (for a new tuple, -1 is passed). In the new scheme of things, two parameters are now passed: the index number as before along with the handle of the calling screen. When the edit screen finishes, it sends a message to this handle with the index number of the tuple which has been edited (if -1 was originally passed then a new value will be returned). No more calling the main screen, etc.

In the calling screen, I added one new procedure, DefaultHandler, which handles all messages sent to this screen. I'm only interested in one, so all the others are passed onto the inherited handler. As this procedure handles messages with a high frequency, my handler should be as short as possible, so all it does is save the passed index number then sets a timer to execute in 500 ms. It is the timer which does the actual updating - previously this was in the procedure which was called by the main form.

Following is an example of the new (for me) code paradigm
procedure TDoCustomers.DefaultHandler(var Message);
 with TMessage (Message) do
  if msg = WM_UpdateCust then
    newcust:= wparam;
    timer1.enabled:= true;
  else inherited DefaultHandler (Message);
procedure TDoCustomers.Timer1Timer(Sender: TObject);
 timer1.enabled:= false;
  if qCustomers.locate ('id', newcust, []) then qCustomers.delete;
  qGetOne.params[0].asinteger:= newcust;;
  if qCustomers.state in [dsInactive] then;
  qCustomersID.asinteger:= newcust;
  qCustomersCustName.asstring:= qGetOneCustName.asstring;
  qCustomersTaksiv.asinteger:= qGetOneTaksiv.asinteger;;
  qCustomers.locate ('id', newcust, []);
This code also shows one of my discoveries from six years ago: instead of closing the dataset then retrieving all the records again, I simply add the new tuple.

This new technique works for adding customers, sales items and nicknames, but not yet for orders: in the first three cases, there is one parent screen calling one edit screen, but with orders, there are a couple of parent screens which can call the 'edit order' screen, but only one of them should be updated (an order can be made from the customers screen and from the orders screen). The customers screen does not know (at the moment) the handle of the orders screen so this can't be passed to the edit screen. At the moment, I've used the old technique for updating this type of datum; I'm sure that I'll think of a solution when I'm showering or walking the dog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Italian holiday film

I thought that I would do something useful with all the time that I have on my hands (it's the Passover holiday which lasts a week) and so decided to create a film from our 2018 holiday in Italy

The first step in doing so is to convert all the MOV files to WMV format so that Movie Maker can handle them; there is a program which does this painlessly albeit slowly. At the same time, I discovered that there were a few files which lasted several minutes and generally showed pictures of my shoes or the inside of my bag: these files were created when I thought that I was turning the camera off when in fact I was turning it on. Of course, I tried not to convert these files, thus saving time and space.

All the videos are organised by day which makes it very easy to know where to find those per topic. I discovered that I had no stills saved - probably due to the great disk crash - but five minutes with my wife's telephone yielded over a hundred photos. As each file's name is basically the date and time of the picture being taken, it was also easy to categorise them.

The next stage was to build a rough cut of the film: Pisa, Riomaggiore and Lucca, then various aspects of our stay in Torino. Once this was done, I slotted in stills; in the past I have presented videos of a location followed by stills of the same, but this time around I mixed stills in-between the videos whenever it seemed appropriate. I also added the transitions, almost always fading from one piece to the next. About half of the stills had the wrong orientation but they seemed to right themselves whenever I watched a preview so I didn't bother to rotate them. 

Once I had everything in the desired order, I added music. There are a few scenes which have their own 'soundtrack': I filmed one scene early in the morning on the roof of our Pisan hotel and all that can be heard are birds so I left this as is. Another scene has about ten Hare Krishna devotees winding their way through the tables of people eating al fresco - obviously they had to be heard. I left in a portion of David Byrne in the cinema museum but found a way to download the complete video from Youtube and include it as an appendix to the film. 

As I have noted in the past, the pain of working with Movie Maker grows as the composite video lengthens. A minimal change at the end of the film requires the computer to become unresponsive for a few minutes. But that's nothing compared to the final part which is the most painful of all: mastering. This procedure takes all the little bits of video and pictures and makes one cohesive file of them all, taking about 45 minutes. Then I watch the completed film ... and see that most of the photos need to be rotated. Another 45 minutes of mastering and then I see ... that two pieces of video have incomprehensibly been added twice. I remove them - then I have to fix the soundtrack as the gaps are now out of synchronisation. This takes about ten minutes and then I have to publish the film again. 

I thought that the fourth revision had fixed everything, but to my horror I discover that the volume has been muted in the section where David Byrne appears in the film museum! Fix this then master again..... Whilst this process is conceptually the same as mixing songs then mastering them, the major difference is the time factor: mastering a song takes around a minute, depending on the length of the song and the number of effects, so it easy to go through several revisions in a short period of time. Mastering films takes a l-o-n-g time.

Obligatory Covid-19 reference: whilst it is great to see again these places that I remember fondly, sadly I wonder when the field by the tower of Pisa or the road of Riomaggiore will be filled again by throngs of happy tourists. Maybe they never will again and this film will serve as a memorial which I can show to our grandchilden: see how it was before the virus! People could walk in the streets, stop, chat and even eat in the open! No masks, no gloves. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

I like the sound of falling rain

Well, I don't really, but I'm prepared to do so for artistic purposes.

About a month ago, I wrote It also rained on and off on Saturday, and at one stage I found myself composing the beginning of a tune whose first line is "I like (love?) to listen to the rain" - I think this is going to be minimalistic as I couldn't develop the tune very much. At the moment it has a very big range - from G below middle C, a note which I can't reach in a dependable manner, to B above middle C, in other words an octave and a half. We'll see.....

I sketched the outline of the music quite fast, then every day I'd add a little bit to the music, fleshing out the arrangement. Instruments were added and taken away in order to match whatever I was hearing in my head at the time. A few days ago I thought that the arrangement was complete, but then I decided to remove two instruments which played only a few bars each and assign their parts to other instruments. I played this arrangement for my wife who said that the introduction was "very much you". Hmmm. I had to go somewhere after this and while I was walking to wherever it was, I thought about her words. It would be better if I could have some prosody - notes which sound like rain. I added some semi-random strokes on a log drum which then became doubled - this is the shower starting and getting heavier - followed by arpeggios on a marimba that lead into the song.

Then I had to concentrate on writing the lyrics. Over three weeks I had succeeded in writing only about six lines, as well as a few notes to myself. I find that I have great difficulty in starting to write lyrics, but the words begin to flow once I get over the initial hump. Of all the lines, I would say about 75% came from the last two days. There is still one little part which I'm not to pleased about: maybe one day I'll think of a better couplet. At the end, I discovered that the title of the song had mutated: instead of "I like to listen to the rain", it had somehow become "I like the sound of falling rain" - and these were the first words that I wrote.

I note that in recent years, I start writing lyrics with a song title: a phrase will catch my attention which serves as as starting point. I didn't write like this in "the old days" - frequently the title would not come directly from the lyrics.

I decided to dedicate yesterday morning to recording the vocals. After getting set up, I sang the song three times, each time improving. I then discovered that the microphone hadn't been defined correctly in the software and so had recorded nothing. I then sang (and recorded) the song a fourth time, which became the master take. I decided to have the vocal in mono with no apparent effects: I had to use slightly different EQ settings from the usual as there was no need for the vocal to cut through a dense instrumental track.

Once again, it's raining outside: I only like the sound when I don't have to go out. My early morning walk with the dog was cut short as it had started raining a few minutes before we went out. I waited an hour when there was no rain, set out, and then half way through it began raining once again. My wife says that there's no such thing as too much rain, but maybe she's reconsidering.....

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Pesach in the shade of Corona

Last night was the first night of Pesach (Passover). Instead of celebrating it with most of the kibbutz in the dining room, we - and everyone else in Israel - was forced to 'celebrate' with 'whoever lives in the flat'. Normally families congregate to celebrate Passover - grandparents, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters - which means that all the roads in the country are always crowded from about 6 pm until midnight.

Not last night. Israel is currently in the middle of a four day complete lock-down; towns are barricaded and the police will stop anyone fool hardy enough to travel on a road. The authorities fear that allowing multi-generational celebrations will destroy all the advances that have been made in the past few weeks with regard to minimising the number of Corona infections.

Back to the kibbutz: every year is posted a seating plan in the entrance to the dining room so that everyone knows where to sit. Yesterday evening some wag sent a message to our internal on-line forum with a map of the kibbutz and each family's location and number of people.

Above is a picture of me reading the blessing for the first of the four cups of wine that are traditionally drunk during the celebration. I don't know whether last night was the worst Seder which I have ever attended: about five years ago we were invited to the parents of my wife's brother's wife and that was an experience that I have no desire to repeat. I wrote here about this festival over the years; it is probably my favourite festival. Not so this year.

One of the major statements of the Seder is 'yesterday we were slaves [in Egypt], today we are free men'. On this basis, someone created the blessing shown on the left. Following a swift translation into English, it says

[Wishing you] A kosher and happy Pesach, in which we will move
  • From darkness to light
  • From slavery to freedom
  • From Corona to health
  • From unpaid leave to employment
  • From blind hatred to love
I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Statistical methods for Epidemiologists

I wrote yesterday that I am readng a book called 'The signal and the noise' by Nate Silver about predictions; I had got up to the chapter which writes about predicting epidemics, which is a very suitable topic for these days. There is discussion of avian and swine flu, which were predicted to infect many more people than they actually did - which is just as well.

Silver talks about the simplistic SIR model "formulated in 1927, that posits that there are three “compartments” in which any given person might reside at any given time: S stands for being susceptible to a disease, I for being infected by it, and R for being recovered from it. For simple diseases like the flu, the movement from compartment to compartment is entirely in one direction: from S to I to R". Another important variable is R0 which gives an indication of how many healthy people are liable to catch the disease from a carrier.

For 'normal' flu, R0 is about 1.2, but initially scientists were saying that for Covid-19, R0 is about 3, which makes it very infectious. One thing which I haven't seen yet is the major constraint in handling this disease: the number of ventilators. The rationale to handling this epidemic is to try and keep the number of infected people low enough to ensure that they don't overwhelm the hospitals. Eventually everyone will probably catch Covid-19, but if this number is spread out wide enough over time, the health authorities will be able to deal with all the cases.

Another important statistic which I haven't yet seen in Silver's book but is connected to the above constraint is 'how often does the number of infected people double?'. A week ago, the figure in Israel was 3: if there were 1000 infected people on Sunday, then by Wednesday there were 2000. Now they are saying that the rate is 11 days which is a huge improvement, thanks to social distancing and people staying at home. To use an analogy: if the number of infected people is the velocity of a car, then the doubling rate is its acceleration. The health authorities would like zero acceleration, which would mean no increase in velocity (infected people) and even better, deceleration, in which the number of infected people decreases.

The epidemic endgame rests on how long the virus can stay active after it has infected people. If all the non-infected people are kept off the streets and only people who have recovered from the virus are allowed on the streets, what is the possibility of non-infected people catching the virus from those who have recovered? No one knows as yet. What is the influence of temperature and UV light on the virus (think of an Israeli summer and its effect on skin cancer)? Again, no one knows.

Another important datum is the length of time that the virus can lay dormant in a carrier. Let's say that everybody between the ages 20-29 cannot become ill but they can become carriers. If a 20 year old is infected on the first of April, will the virus that she carries be able to infect a 60 year old on the fifth of April? On the tenth of April? At the end of April? This datum again will influence the endgame, which is when people can return to a normal life.

As Silver notes, the important data about an epidemic are known only several years after the epidemic passes. No one knows the data when the epidemic is active and so the health authorities have to make predictions in order to handle the epidemic. This book is about making predictions: how to make models as accurate as can be and how to mitigate biases (something which I have written about recently in my thesis). So, this is very much a book for our times.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Days of Corona (3)

First, I should note that relatively I am having an easy time in these strange days: I am fully employed (albeit working from home) so I don't have any of the monetary worries that a million other Israelis have, and I live on a kibbutz which in this respect is a very safe place to be. I don't even have to leave the house as we can order from the local mini-market via the Internet, and the kibbutz teenagers make deliveries.

Yesterday was even stranger than usual: at 5:30 am, the outside temperature was 25°C, so I took the dog for her morning walk wearing only a t-shirt and trousers. By lunchtime the outside temperature had reached 32.2°C and inside was getting hot too, so I turned on the air-conditioner, initially forgetting that it was still set to heat. After a few minutes I realised my mistake and set the air-conditioner to cool; soon the lounge reached a respectable 26°C. A few hours later I suddenly realised that I was getting cold: the outside temperature had suddenly dropped to 27°C, so I turned off the air-conditioner and opened all the windows.

I received - via DHL - a package sent from iHerb; unless my memory is playing me tricks, I ordered this last Saturday evening, so it arrived in just under eight days. As the kibbutz gate is closed, I had to call the guard to tell him that the DHL truck was on its way to me and that it should be let in. When I went to throw the carton in the carton rubbish bin, I noticed that the only other carton in the bin was also from iHerb; I wonder who it was. Maybe we can make a joint order next time.

Over the past few days, I have read some interesting books. The Le CarrĂ© biography was initially interesting but became less so, the further that I progressed: like his novels, the earlier ones were better than the later ones. Another book was 'The Undoing project' by Michael Lewis, which is about the two Israeli psychologists Danny Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky. I've read some of the material in other contexts, primarily Nobel prize winner Kahneman in his book 'Thinking fast and slow', which I have never finished. The only reason that Tversky didn't share the Nobel was that he died prior to it being awarded to Kahneman. I'm now in the middle of a book called 'The signal and the noise' by Nate Silver about predictions. I'm also rereading 'The Great Influenza' by John Barry which is about the Spanish flu epidemic after the end of the First World War. There should be lesson there for today.

I have just read that the British PM, Boris Johnson, has been hospitalised.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Thesis update

The only good thing for me about being at home because of Corona is that I have plenty of time to work on my thesis. Over the past week, I've worked between 1-3 hours each day, including a very productive talk with my supervisor, which I recorded. Today I completed everything that I wanted/was required to add (except something to do with the literature review), and this morning two new ideas popped up for the conclusions section:
  • It would be very interesting to determine a time-line of enhancements, to try and see when each enhancement was deployed and what each enhancement does. The idea is to try and see when more essential enhancements are made as opposed to less essential. On the other hand, essential enhancements can appear at any time due to changing market conditions (this is one my major points in the introductory chapter). Doing so would of course require several longitudinal studies which is a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment.
  • Should enhancements be developed and deployed in areas which are not part of a company's core business? One can argue that it is essential to optimize the core business (normally production) and that it is a waste of resources to improve non-essential functionality. This researcher believes in empowering all employees, and the improvement of non-essential functionality can free time which can then be spent on more important matters.
Out of curiosity, I also noted down for the past eight versions how many words each version contains.
DateNumber of wordsWords added

The version from 06/11/18 was the intermediate submission which was accepted by the research committee. There are a few reasons why there was a five month gap before the next version, which strangely had a decrease in the number of words: one reason was that the thesis underwent an almost complete rewrite and one section was discarded. Since then, "the only way is up". Note also that there have been four versions in the past two months whereas previously there had been four versions in fifteen months (this is partially because I was performing the actual research in the first half of 2019 so I couldn't write about it). After splitting the introductory chapter into two, the section which was discarded earlier has returned to what is now the second chapter which is all about ERP.

My supervisor wants me to improve the literature review chapter, not by adding more subjects or papers but by adding links between the papers. I don't quite see how this can be done.