Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Writers Diet

The Writers Diet Test is a diagnostic tool that assesses whether your sentences are flabby or fit. Originally developed for academic writers, the test has also proven popular with students, technical writers, business analysts, journalists, and even fiction writers. 

Based on a simple algorithm, the Writers Diet Test calculates the fitness of your writing sample in each of five grammatical categories. The higher the percentage of highlighted words, the flabbier your score.

I tried Writers Diet when I was writing the abstract for a paper, the first time I had undertaken such a task. Using this tool I managed to get my writing from the Heart Attack zone into the Lean (best) and Fit & Trim zones. I learned more about the correct usage of words by analysing those 500 words than I learnt in 5 years of English lessons. Analysis reduced the number of "flabby" prepositions in this piece making it Fit & Trim!

This is a display of the analysis of these words.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PhD Thesis Practice Based or Practice Led?

One of my concerns since starting my PhD is to understand how a Practice Based PhD differs from other PhD's particularly a Practice Led PhD and what format should my thesis take.  My thesis is split 60:40 between writing and practice. I shall expand on my findings in other posts but this Thesis by Erik W. Borg raises some interesting issues which I will expand on in future posts.

Update 5.10.14

I found an interesting series of papers from a conference hosted by University of Hertfordshire -  Research into Practice conference 2000 - in 5 volumes, follow this link. Volume 1  - The foundations of practice based research.

Editing locked PDFs

Blogged from PC Pro Magazine

It’s worth noting that the PDF specification includes some security features that allow a document creator to forbid others from doing certain things, such as saving, printing or editing a PDF. Should you need to make an edit to a locked file, a quick web search should turn up plenty of free tools and websites that will unlock PDF files for free.

Alternatively, as long as the document isn’t locked for printing, there’s another trick that can be used – so long as you have both a PDF creation tool and the Microsoft Microsoft XPS Document Writer installed on your system as virtual printer drivers. All you need to do is print the document using this latter driver, to create a copy of it in XPS format – then open this document in Reader or another application and reprint it as an unprotected PDF. You should then be able to tamper with it as you choose.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mind Mapping

Mind Maps are an aspect of academic life that has passed me by despite suffering from Mind Map envy. I have tried paper, white board and a variety of software options without any enduring success. I was particularly envious of my 8 year old granddaughter who the other evening proceeded to explain the complexities of falling in and out of friends at school by means of a series of graphic Mind Maps on my white board. Very impressive and so natural. Whilst browsing a link from a PhD Blog that I subscribe to, I found myself sympathising with a fellow dysfunctional Mind Map drop-out on The PhD Pimpernel Blog. PhD Pimpernel Blog however, seems to have discovered an answer to the Mind Map dilemma, a piece of software for the iPad, SimpleMind. I was reminded of the occasion I was first introduced to Mind Maps, it was 1974, a programme on BBC TV Use Your Head by Tony Buzzan. I was amazed to discover Tony is actually 2 years older than myself, he seemed so young on the TV!

But what of SimpleMind,  The PhD Pimpernel Blog seemed so enthusiastic about SimpleMind and how is its simple functionality broke through the Mind Map logjam, I just had to have a try. There is a free version but I discovered that this did not allow me to do what I wanted to do (crafty) so I had to splash out the grand sum of £2.99 on the paid for version SimpleMind+.

In part 2 of the post, Mind Mapping II, the discussion tales in the various Mind Mapping options, paper, white boards etc and then moves on to software. Finishing with a very enthusiastic plug for the SimpleMind+ app for the iPad. First impressions are quite favourable. There does seem to be sparse support in the way of help FAQ's,

The SimppleMind software is also available as desktop option for Windows and MAC based computers and tablets and so as not to leave anyone out there is an Android app as well. It must be said the Desktop options are very expensive compared with the iPad  app price.