I wrote my first exam today for my 2016 modules, Ontology Engineering. To say that I am over writing exams is putting it mildly. I just want to get to the research project so I can finish up this degree.

Sadly, there are still 2 more exams this week (Software Project Management tomorrow and Software Engineering on Friday), and then three more “study” modules this year, in addition to the research project.

The face I'll make to the SO next week

The face I’ll make to the SO next week

I’m mainly struggling with the fact that a lot of what we are learning is not applied in the workplace (imagine, an IT project being managed from start to finish hahahafsnodlfkl oops fell out of my chair from laughter). It is very hard to find the motivation to study when you know it won’t help you. It’s easier during undergrad when you don’t know anything about industry.

I passed my registration exams (and other news)

I know it’s already a month into the new year, and I haven’t been active on the blog for a while, but that’s mostly because I had nothing to post. However, that will all be changing because in January I returned to Aurecon. This time around, I’m fulfilling a technology expert role within the Asset Management team, so I’ll be designing and driving our technology strategy going forward. I’ve got a few interesting things lined up, particularly around spatial data warehouses and ontologies, so I’ll be posting about it alot here while I work through my ideas.

I also got my SAGC exam results today – 100% for Paper A and 96% for Paper F, so once the fees are paid, I will be registered as a Geomatics Technologist. When I’m finished with my BscHons next year, I’ll be able to upgrade to Practitioner as I’m just short of the academic requirement.

Speaking of Hons, I just registered for the 2nd (final) year, and am currently studying for 3 exams next week. To be honest, it has been painful studying, simply because many of the concepts we have discussed are outdated and having been in industry now for almost 6 years, it is irritating to have to study these things. I’m just pushing through to get that piece of paper. Hopefully I get a good research topic for the project (or can convince one of the supervisors to take me with my own topic). I’ll worry about that after the exams.

I’ll probably be able to return to my normal posting schedule in March. I just thought it was about time I post something.

Aaaaand now I'm thinking about how much I miss Community. #SixSeasonsAndAMovie

Aaaaand now I’m thinking about how much I miss Community. #SixSeasonsAndAMovie

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.

Getting stuck into my studies

I spent the long weekend playing catch up with my assignments after a brief interlude. It is incredibly frustrating without internet. Since I’m still stuck on Windows 10 Mobile on my unsupported old phone, I have to use its hotspot to connect on the tablet, computer and the new phone.

Not only does this destroy the battery in no time, but if the screen turns off the hotspot disconnects, and in Windows 10 Mobile, one cannot set the screen to not turn off (maximum is 5 minutes). I have to sit there with my finger on the screen to make sure it doesn’t turn off.

Of course, I forget, and then I have to wake the phone up (which can take up to 20 seconds if it’s feeling particularly spiteful), disable the hotspot (because it looks like it’s still active, when it it isn’t), enable the hotspot, then reconnect all the devices.

So I’ve got all of that going on while I’m doing research for my first assignment, which happens to be a series of discussion posts on the forum. I’ve made my feelings on that kind of thing quite clear.

In summary, this first assignment has been challenging. Not because the topic is difficult – not at all in fact. It’s just that my circumstances have not been conducive for good studying practice. The next one is the real deal though: choosing a research topic. I’m still a bit sad about letting go of my last one. However, one must move on.

A proposed schedule for balancing work and studies

Now that I’m back after some time away, I have returned to a full work email inbox, a full personal email inbox, and a couple of mails in my university inbox. It’s that last one that has me worried though. I’ve documented my journey to Honours on this blog, but now that it’s here I’m feeling stressed.

There are a few factors contributing to why I am feeling this way:

  • My natural tendency to stress about something when I haven’t made a list for it yet
  • No internet at my new home yet
  • Everything at UNISA is late this year
  • I can’t use the ideas I had for a research project now that I’ve changed jobs
  • I went through a series of major changes, which I’ve actually handled really well considering I like to be secure
  • I don’t have a proper daily routine established yet

The last point is what I’m trying to sort out today. My job role has much more responsibility than my previous role, but it also has a smaller technical component than my previous job. As I go about my daily tasks at work, I will be incorporating aspects of that into my research project. This has the benefit of helping my company and myself.

This leaves me with the evenings to do the actual assignments and research. Based on my current estimates, 2 hours a day of work seems feasible at the moment, with more intense sessions on the weekends. Public holidays will be solely dedicated to research and assignment writing.

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 (!!!).