The Thesis Completion Scenario

Damn, this has been quite the hiatus. This week has been the first in a while I have been able to do nothing (or very little), and I’ve been making the most (or least) of it. Writing has been relatively low priority recently, but I shall make my return into the blogosphere, little by little.

The beast is vanquished!

The beast is vanquished!

So there you have it. A years worth of work, condensed into a 144 page document (30ish pages are references and supplementary tables). It has been hanging over me for months now, but the damn thing is finished and submitted. I thought once the writing was finished that would be the end of it, but that wasn’t to be. The final formatting tweaks, lists of tables and figures, and supplementary tables took an eternity to sort out. Not to mention the referencing issues that I had left till the end to fix. Word is not ideally suited to working with long documents. The numbered headers and table of contents work well, but as soon as images and large tables of information are thrown in, then it all goes to hell a bit. My computer wasn’t fast enough to cope it with – maddening considering the document was only 13 MB, and this laptop has a Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM. It just goes to show how poorly optimised Word is for this sort of thing – I would have been better off with LaTeX, a system optimised for the creation of scientific documents. Word is pretty user friendly at least, it is just maddening at times when resizing tables, or moving images and decides to screw up all of the text. I worked on each chapter of the thesis separately, and once finished, compiled them into a long document for the final touches. I’m just getting over the whole thing, and starting to think about hard binding. Everything is so expensive! Each copy costs nearly £30 to bind, not including printing, and I’m supposed to be getting three! It will be nice when it is all finished up, and it can settle on a shelf somewhere, probably never to be disturbed again.

The transformed costumes in battle mode.

The transformed costumes in battle mode. I love the french fry crab!

I’m back into medicine, and gaming in a small way with Costume Quest. Costume Quest is a role-playing game set on Halloween night, developed by one of my favourite studios, Double Fine Productions (Tim Schafer land). You play as a child trick-or-treating with their twin, who comes across monsters stealing all of the candy in the town. Seeing your sibling dressed as a giant candy corn (great costume), one of the offending monsters thinks he has hit the jackpot, and kidnaps the candy-corn child. This is the basic premise, and you explore the neighbourhood and other locations looking for candy and clues to your sibling’s whereabouts. You also get to trick or treat, and fight monsters in some of the most ridiculous anime-style battles I’ve seen. Your character goes from being a small child in a homemade cardboard robot costume to a giant fighting robot armed with many missiles. The gameplay revolves around finding patterns and materials to assemble costumes, then using the respective abilities of those costumes to complete tasks and navigate the environment. There is a good range of costumes available, and some of the ones I’ve unlocked so far are robot, ninja, statue of liberty, knight, and french fries. As you progress in the game, you also gain teammates who fight alongside you, and can wear different costumes. It wasn’t at all what I expected when I sat down first to play the game, but I have really enjoyed Costume Quest so far. There are a variety of environments, costumes, enemies, quests, and minigames to play throughout the game, and it is easy to dip in and out of. You should definitely play it, particularly if you can get it as part of a humble bundle like I did. Hell, you probably already have it. It was sitting on my computer for an age before I stumbled across it again the other day.

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