Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Day in the Life of A Graduate Student

Good morning! I thought I'd share some insights into a day in my life as a graduate student in the M.A. in Media Studies. I am taking a great course from Professor Robert Berkman: The New New Media: Weblogs, Wikis & Emerging Social Media. I am so busy every day! I post in our official class portal, check our class blog, check my own project blog which is the blog you're reading this post on as I write this, and I check our class Wiki for updates and any new additions I can make. This week, we've started a new thread to learn about RSS feeds, so I got all my reading done last night and discovered I already use this technology through my own Google Reader while doing some research about 3 weeks ago. Imagine that! Last night when I was up well past midnight (3:00 a.m. NYC time), posting busily in our class thread on RSS feeds, a light bulb went on in my head and everything clicked.

5:30 a.m. This morning, I awoke early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I thought I'd use this as class time while everything is quiet and logged into our University Portal to attend class. To my surprise, there was already feedback on my class post last night from our T.A., Derek, who's leading the class discussion this week on RSS. I responded to his suggestions and decided I want to add an RSS feed to my own blog so others can get linked to all my new blog posts. Very exciting!

6:30 a.m. More posts. I decide I'm hungry so I made some breakfast, some peppermint tea, and continued on with the Feedburner instructions on creating an RSS feed for my blog.

7:30 a.m. I've been at it with to get my RSS feed to work and modifying the HTML code into this blog's template. The code I received from Feedburner wasn't working to my great frustration. Parsing Error. So I decided to try to manually link to the RSS URL they provided. Still same issue: Parsing Error. Bleh! After 4 posts for Derek's help in our class blog, I looked more closely at the code and it appears the parsing error is on Feedburner's end. I send them an email.

9:30 a.m. Checked my emails and responded to those who have written. Not much is new, except I got one from a good friend and awesome lawyer who practices in SF. Yes, he's more than happy to let me use him as a referral for my job hunting which is going on full speed this week! I received a confirmation email from Feedburner, but no word yet on how they're going to address the parsing error on their end. Bleh.

9:50 a.m. I'm going to "throw in the towel" for now and do some other research, check if Derek's responded to my inquiries in our class blog for help on the RSS issue (sorry for the many frantic posts, Derek!). New emails streamed in...checking those now. It's no wonder I opted not to sign up for an email notification each time someone posts something new in our class blog. My inbox can get so inundated. Instead, I added the RSS feed to our class blog into my Google Reader.

10:05 a.m. Time to strength train this morning then get showered and ready for the rest of the day. Checked our class thread and class blog one last time before I go...

12:00 Noon Preparing for an interview with a very prestigious communications and media company. I'm doing research on both Wikipedia and the company's Web site and found plenty of interesting information about the company.

1:00 p.m. Talking to my good friend Alexa about lunch tomorrow in the City and she wishes me good luck on the interview. When she found out the name of this company, she was flabbergasted...she recognized the name and reputation of the company, and exclaimed, "Wow!!! They are HUGE...HUGE!!!" The name is certainly prestigious, highly respected, and very well-known to many people in the Bay Area or what was formerly known as The Silicon Valley. Big name. I'm excited. Time to get dressed and ready for the big interview. In the meantime, I get an email from another well-known company (one of the major search engine companies for bloggers) and was invited in to meet with the project manager for a contract project. I know her from 2 jobs ago. She wants to set me up with their paperwork to do intermitten contract work. When it rains, it pours!

2:30 p.m. Headed for my interview in Belmont. I'm really looking forward...very prestigious and well-known company (I'm getting redundant--sorry!)--so well known, they could call Bill Gates with a phone call and he will answer the call.

3:10 p.m. Found the company with a little difficulty. Called the Editor-in-Chief to ask where the building was. Found it, and entered. Saw a very simple sign on the door--no visible company name on the building. They like operating in "stealth mode." Cute. Ha.

3:30 p.m. Started my interview and spoke with 4 people.

6:30 p.m. Ended my interview. Woa! Didn't realize it ended up being a 3-hour interview...probably partially because I asked so many questions!

7:20 p.m. Arrived home. Forgot what traffic is like on the 280 during the afternon rush hour.

7:45 p.m. Ate dinner quickly...I have a lot of homework to do for class.

8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. I'm in the University Portal in class and also in our class blog and checked out any updates to our class Wiki project. Whew! This summer course, The New New Media: Weblogs, Wikis & Emerging Social Media, is intense! It is remarkably project-driven! I'm rethinking about whether or not I want to do an optional paper! Why did I volunteer that to my professor?! He's now expecting a 20 - 40 page double-spaced paper on finding ways to research the credibility of bloggers! ACK!

11:00 p.m. Worked on the RSS feed to my class blog project. I'm still getting parsing errors. Arghhh!

12:00 a.m. I'm going to hang in the towel because I'm so tired I can't see straight. I'll look at my code again on my blog project in the morning...with fresh eyes.

2:00 a.m. Well...I thought I was going to hang up the towel but here I still am--bleary-eyed but still working away furiously. More like sleuthing furiously. Finding bugs in HTML is unique experience. It requires dedication, a lot of time, resistance to frustration, patience, and occasional bursts of "Aha's!" The effort is worth the payoff when you finally find the problem.

So here I still am. I decided to keep working on getting my RSS feed to work and the extra effort was well worth it. I finally figured out how to get erroneous code off my first blog post that was throwing the parsing error. Since it's not visible, it was hard to remove! What finally took the invisible codes that WORD makes (never, never use WORD to check your spelling and then cut and paste it back into your blog's editor) was when I took the post's HTML code out of the "Edit HTML" window and pasted into the "Compose window." This process deleted the invisible code. Then I saved, republished, then clicked on the orange chicklet (see Syndicate link on the far right column) to go to my RSS feed page generated by Feedburner. It finally worked! What a relief! I'm going to call it a night...or early morning.

I'd say good night to all but I know the Internet never sleeps!

We live in exciting times -- a High Tech Information Age where the rapid evolution of technology is barely keeping up with the need for instant gratification for information and constant upgrades of electronic gadgets to make life easier. Exciting times!

Not all my days are like this, nor should you expect that yours will be this hectic. I do find time for leisure and rest on many other days. I was scolded very recently by my Chiropractor who's been treating me for stress for the last year to slow down and keep a good balance. He said, "I don't think you realize how broken you are." He was talking health-wise as regards to stress. He told me to go to a spa. I'm going to take his advice. Ha! It is so important to balance your life between graduate school, work, and a personal life in order to succeed. Staying healthy and fit is key to your success, along with hard work and a lot of motivation. It's not easy being a graduate student, especially when you are remote from the safety and support of the University. More on staying healthy as a graduate student at The New School in another post. We aren't always 100% computer nerds/intellectual thinkers! We also like to do fun things.


Anonymous said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

11:27 PM  

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