Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Research blog: It's worse than that. It's dead Jim!

I took my laptop on holiday! I'd like to say that it was so I could do holiday things like edit digital pictures and research family holiday outings etc. I did do a bit of that, but mostly I took it so that I could do some analysis of the data I've collected on the use of our electronic conferencing system and our students' attitudes to ICT.

originally uploaded by grraniml.
I had hoped I could do some basic analysis of the entrance questionnaire which I have used every year since session 2000/01. I thought I would also be able to look at the exit questionnaire which I have only used twice: sessions 2001/02 and 2004/05. I find the statistics stuff a bit painful, but thought I'd at least be able to make a start to get a feel for the data and that I'd be able to ask for help if necessary with any more complex analysis once I'd worked out what was worth analysing. I don't know if mice are into statistics, but you know what is said about their best laid plans? What happened was I spent the whole week just trying to tidy up the data! I transferred it from the database (Filemaker) to the statistics package (SPSS), fiddled about with the data types (ordinal, nominal or who cares?), got rid of duplicate entries and incomplete records, accidentally overwriting the 2001/02 data with the 2000/01 data (I hope I've got the backup in my office)... By the end of the week I was more or less ready to start the stuff I hoped I'd have finished!

Arriving home I turned on the laptop intending to transfer the stuff I'd done to continue working on it. No prizes are available for those of you have already guessed why I said "intended" in the last sentence. That's right, my laptop failed to start up. It got all the way through the startup process and got as far as displaying the desktop wallpaper and then it hung! It reacts to the Vulcan nerve pinch (ctrl-alt-del) so you can shut it down properly, but it wont actually start. Unfortunately, after fiddling with it for an hour or two, the techie types at the university pronounced it extremely unwell and said all they could do was flatten the hard disk, losing a weeks worth of work and some holiday pictures, and re-install everything from scratch. You can imagine how pleased I was to hear that!
Sad face
So, another couple of weeks have gone by and I am as far away as ever from completing my research. Bah!

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