Choosing a research topic

For the first time, the Honours class was not given a list of topics to choose from. Instead, we were instructed to choose any computing centric topic, and post a discussion about it where it could be ripped apart. Obviously, the whole point of me doing this course is to focus on the computery side of GIS, so I settled on spatial data infrastructure (SDI).

There is a lot of literature available on this topic, but most of it focusses on the implementation of SDIs within the public sector. Rightly so – implementing it correctly is expensive, and once the government has bought into the idea and made their data available, private companies should follow suit.

Even then, the whole SDI topic can be very broad, as it is made up of several components. In my current role, while I would have input into all of the components, I wouldn’t necessarily have the mandate for those components. I then narrowed it down to the component that I would be responsible for: the geoportal within the SDI. I’ll be focussing on methods and challenges involved in the implementation of a geoportal as a component of a SDI within the financial constraints of a large enterprise environment.

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Finally registered and ready to study!

Like everyone else, I had major problems trying to register at UNISA this year. I accepted my offer to study Honours at the start of the year, and registered and paid online by 8 January. Since it can take up to 2 weeks to process, I ignored the “In process” message on my profile, as I had seen the same behaviour last year.

As the last week of January dawned (and registrations closing on the 31st), I started to get a bit agitated. I then started calling the Parow office. From the 26th to the 28th, I spent the entire day at work on my headset, waiting on hold. I jumped from 2nd in the queue, to 11th, to 19th, to 15th, to 21st, back to 11th…

I managed to get through to an actual person twice in those 3 days. The first time, the person misunderstood me and while they were talking the call cut off. The second time, I heard them pick up, and then put down the phone. At that point I decided I would need to go into campus to find out what was going on, but seeing as I just started my new job, I don’t have any leave. Also, according to what I was seeing on social media, the lines at the campus are depressing.

On the morning of the 29th, my fiance gets to my parents’ house at 1:30 AM, after working the night shift at the lab. We then leave the house at 4:15 AM to get to UNISA at 4:40 AM, where we are second in line. By 6AM, the line was wound around the building into the parking lot. I discovered from the guy at the front (who came prepared with food and a camping chair) that the switchboard wasn’t working correctly because of the high volume of calls, which is why I kept being shifted around in the queue.

When I got inside after 8am, the nice lady at Payments informed me that while she could see my payment, and could see on the printout of my profile that I had registered, there actually was no registration for me in the system. I then had to go self-register at one of the computers, which then informed me that I could not self-register for my qualification. I sat in the registration line for 30 minutes, not moving, until I decided that they probably would not get to me since there was now about 25 people ahead of me.

I returned there on the 5th. This time, I was first in line at 4AM, with food and a camping chair. I went straight to the registration desk when they opened after 8AM. The lady then informed me that BSc students are not allowed to register online (???), which would explain why last year my registration also wouldn’t go through. It turns out my issue had nothing to do with the issues everyone else was experiencing with the new system.

It took her 5 minutes to enter my modules and approve my registration. After graduating 5 years ago, I finally get to start my Honours. That means that I actually have to start studying again (!!!).