All entries for December 2011

December 15, 2011

Sharing Youtube videos via Twitter & Blog

My chosen Youtube video to share via Twitter is the 'Visual Performance Evaluation Lab' at Ford Motor Company in Michigan.

This lab simulates sunlight at different positions during the day under a diffusely lit 'sky'. It is used for assessments on the inside of the car and evaluates the impact of different lighting conditions on how the driver perceives the vehicle interior (eg. colour matching of fabrics, back-lit controls etc.) and how the light reacts with interior surfaces (eg. glare from windows, display screen readability, distracting reflections etc.).

This is close to the heart of my research; Recreating Illumination Scenarios for Vehicle Interior Evaluations. The video shows the best way that these assessments can be done at present in industry.

My approach focuses on the luminance distribution of the sky component combined with the direct solar component. I will not be looking into an up-lit 'sky' surface (such as that shown in the video) as it has limited control of the luminance distribution and cannot simulate real world sky conditions.

The video I have chosen to post below is an interview with Professor Alan Chalmers from WMG. He is talking about his research in High Dynamic Range Visualisation. The reason I chose to share this video is because I attended a seminar presented by Prof. Chalmers where he explained how this HDR video technology can capture real world lighting.

I am very interested to see if the HDR camera (alone or with a photometric sensor or a software add-on) would be able to process the captured light into photometric measurements that I can use in my own research.

December 14, 2011

Who needs Power Point?

Writing about web page

I think I really do love Prezi presentations but this is yet another 'Thing' that I had not heard of.

To complete this 'Thing' I decided that I was just going to recreate a presentation that I had already produced in Power Point. I could have just printed my existing slides to pdf then import them to the Prezi workspace and add a path between them to 'Prezify' the Power Point.

This approach didn't seem appropriate and I don't think I would have gotten a real feel for how the software could be used, so I took the content of the slides and structured it in logical groupings and sub-groupings with a flowing path between each group. I spent a bit of time exploring the the options in the bubble menu and playing with the different colour themes.

The result is the same presentation but it is easier to follow, it flows better and visually it looks better.

When I use Prezi for presenting at meetings in the future I think it is worth downloading a 'Portable Prezi' - not every meeting room has Internet access or if it does you can't guarantee that it will work when you want it to.

December 13, 2011

The academic use of Wikipedia

I've not just been told once that Wikipedia has no use in academia - especially as a reference in your doctoral thesis.

To some extent I think that this is true; Wikipedia is un-regulated. Anyone can be the 'expert' so you shouldn't take as gospel what is published here just as you wouldn't reference your taxi driver no matter how knowledgeable he seems to be.

But there is a large amount of information on Wikipedia and as long as you can substantiate the claims made with another source, then I think the content can build your background knowledge in your research area and give you other avenues to explore that you may not have come across otherwise.

If more academics and real 'experts' add to the Wikipedia content then there will be more sound information available - especially if links and citations are made to corroborating evidence.

Don't reference it in your thesis though - you'll just look daft.


This 'Thing' is another good one that until now I have been completely unaware of.

How many times have I ended up with different versions of the same document after sending out for review, wondering which one was correct? - Too many!

And all along there has been a solution to this dilemma hiding from me with the ability to track changes in a document from many sources.

I will definitely be making use of this in the future, especially as I have two academic supervisors and an industrial supervisor to make comments on my work; each of whom will no doubt have differing opinions.

Doodle meeting invite

Moving swiftly onto Thing 17 and creating a meeting invite using Doodle.

I am indoctrinated into using MS Outlook for my email, calendar and meeting organisation and I must say that I don't see any reason to change - especially since it can send invitations to external 'attendees' via email and track attendance and reserve meeting facilities.

I'm not one for dismissing something without trying first though - so I signed up for Doodle and sent an invite to my personal email inviting myself for some 'me time'. Unfortunately I am too busy so I had to decline my kind offer.

Even giving it a go I don't think I'll change but I can see its use for those without an alternative.

Downloading software – why won't you work!!!!

I'm not having much luck today with Things 15 and 16.

Delicious seemed so simple

- download tool bar
- press buttons
- add bookmark to page
- lovely list of web references created

Not so simple

- download wouldn't work
- drag buttons to tool bar - only worked for 'create stack' button
- created 'save on delicious' button following iPhone instructions - amazed it worked!
- press buttons and ...

"The server is currently experiencing a high load."

Moving on to Mendeley.
I had such high hopes - i was really looking forward to finally getting the giant virtual 'stack' of pdfs of journal papers organised and properly referenced.

Again Mendeley seemed so simple

- add documents
- organised to folders if required
- let Mendeley do all of the fiddly referencing (filling in any gaps)
- bask in the glory of organisation

Not so simple

- time spent trying to add documents to webpage using 'Add Document'
- didn't realise it didn't work online and had to download Mendeley Desktop - not a problem just download it
- download didn't work
- utter failure - I need to speak to IT

The research data challenge

Now this is a question that hadn't even crossed my mind. At the end of my project I will have produced a portfolio of work but I will also have quite a bit of data, reports and notes that didn't make it as a submission.

So where does all of this work go?

My background is mechanical design in the defence industry; I'm used to generating a lot of data in the form of concept designs, visit reports/surveys, trade studies, reports/procedures and lots of mechanical/environmental testing. I always knew where to find all of this data - not just the reports and drawings that were published but everything from any project was archived in a project folder - nothing was ever thrown away or considered insignificant. So I am used to storing data in a systematic and logical way.

You can archive your data with the university but who has access to it?

The problem does exist that the data is not truly 'yours' - the university, the sponsor company and any other third party that contributes has a stake in your research and may 'own' your data as Intellectual Property or Proprietary Data that only certain parties have been given permission to view/use.

So how do you then share your data with other researchers?

Not all of your data will be so tied up in political red tape. You just need to be aware of what is sensitive and to discuss dissemination of your research with the relevant stakeholders of your project.

The University/WMG promotes dissemination of research through journal papers, conferences and dedicated dissemination events associated with a particular project. Industry are also keen to show their capabilities to their competitors and collaborators especially if future business can be generated through the exchange of knowlege.

December 12, 2011

Dropbox instead of Files.Warwick

I know it's jumping ahead a bit but I was trying to send out a link from Files.Warwick to my sponsor company. I managed to share access to my documents with my academic supervisors but couldn't manage to share access with my sponsor company. I found a way to send an invite to download files from my folder but it had an expiry of 7days - which is not really what I wanted to use the folder for.

As I was trying to catch up with some of the ReX23 'Things' this morning I came across Thing 19 and sharing files through Dropbox. This blog entry, which was going to be written when I had completed Things 14-18, was going to say something about not needing to use Dropbox as I had an alternative already in use.

Instead I'll just say that Dropbox is just what I was looking for and could have done with knowing about it a few weeks ago to save the confusion.

Better late than never.

Copyright content and my thesis

Can my EngD Portfolio be submitted to WRAP for public dissemination?

It seems like a question that should be asked in 4 years time after I have actually written something but if I plan what I am going to do before I do it then I think I'll get less of a headache.

The issues that I am going to have with public access to my portfolio will be

    • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) resulting from my research
    • Third party content
    • Proprietary data supplied by the sponsor company

    The IPR (as far as I understand) with be the property of my sponsor company and as such, any details of it contained within my portfolio will need to be approved by them. The other issue will be with any academic papers published - the content of the papers are usually the property of the publisher (unless stated in any agreements) so permission to publish in another format will have to be requested. Any proprietary data included in the portfolio will have to be removed if it is published to the public domain.

    WRAP and other repositories

    I've had a good look through the WRAP and it has helped me by allowing me to see how to structure an EngD portfolio. Until now I've been a little bit unclear as to how it works and how it differs from a traditional thesis.

    My understanding is that all of the relevant work of the EngD that would normally go into 'Chapters' in the PhD thesis is written up as 'Submissions'. These are submitted regularly (at least one per year of registration) and are put into context by the final (and largest) submission, the Innovation Report. This final report is basically the thesis just with large chucks as separate documents so you can do the work as you go. I was a bit worried about the submissions and how it would work but seeing an example from the repository has put my mind at ease. I think I'll have a look at a few more to see what style suits me.

    I've also seen a few papers written by others in my department but unfortunately there is nothing in my area of research so I had a look at the other suggested repositories. The one I have found to be the most useful is the Institutional Repository Search (

    December 2011

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