My Blog

Time Management

So I did a time management course on Wednesday of last week and it was very very embarrassing. I couldn’t help but cringe when the nice lady giving the course put on the slide “Time Wasters”. I was like, “Yes, that’s me, I’m a timewaster.” The main gist of the whole thing was to re-prioritise our time by setting “priorities” to them. The scheme goes something like this:

A: Work Related to my job and of high importance.
B: Work related to my job which is urgent but not important
C: Work related to my job that is neither important or urgent
D: Work unrelated to my job.

The thing is I really need another category, something like this:

F: The work of complete slackers, ie Facebook, and

Much of my working day seems to consist of F priority tasks, when they should be AAAA+++ This blog post might in fact be an F priority task. Maybe I’ll give it an E. There was some talk of motivation and a meeting of goals and values and I suspect mine must be pretty messed up because I really can’t see any value in my goals. Eeek: New job anyone?


Well, not quite. I still need to pay off my dues and print and bind 7 copies(!) of the thing. Still, what a great feeling to have it finished. Viva and corrections felt a bit like going back to the bad old days of a one task life, but now it’s done it feels fabulous and I’m greatly looking forward to graduation, which will involve a KILT, no less.

Quite a bit has gone on actually since the last time I blogged but I’ve not really felt like I had the time to post. However, I did a time management course last Wednesday and I’ve worked out that Monday morning is a light year or two from my “Prime Time”, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to write something. Also, a friend just posted a blog and it made me feel guilty about never updating this, so twice the motivation.

So what’s the news? Well, fifthwave is nearly working and version 0.2 was released in time for my IES presentation, which explains a little about it and other things I do on the side. In fact, I might have a link to a pdf version of the presentation just click HERE to get the presentation. There is also a natty intro video to the presentation which is on youtube: I’ll embed it below.

Even with fifthwave coming on-line, there is still a lot of work to do. The primary job of a researcher is the production of papers, and I don’t have any to my name as yet. Thus, all attention is now focused on that. Hopefully fifthwave can give some backbone to one of the papers. The other is starting with a EWTEC submission which is based around the V&V report I did at the start of the job and then I’ll give it a canny twist of a hypothesis, to make it into a proper paper, hopefully. More on that to follow!

Right, lots to do! Need to plan plan plan! Oh, and check this out:

A youtube vid to be added…

Fixing Fifthwave

Ok, so the last two weeks of panic have been fixing something called fifthwave. To understand what fifthwave is, I need to introduce the project it is related to, that is actually supposed to be the most important part of my job. Strangly, this is only the second project I have taken on, but it has spawned a lot of work. Ironically, it is not even my part of the SuperGen project, and it’s doing something I never really wanted to do! Nonetheless, it has now occupied more than 2 years of my time.

What is this mysterious ball and chain, you may well ask? Simple, its modelling the impact of a current on a wave energy device. Now, this is easy to say, but the physics (in particular the numerical modelling challenge of doing this) is quite complicated. It is made exceptionally complicated by the fact that the current will be applied perpendicular to the wave, which means that it must be modelled in 3D. Argh! Add to this the fact that we have no in house code that could cope with this or the resources to produce one and you should be starting to see the challenges involved.

These issues are what have brought about ‘fifthwave’ as I was forced to use the commercial CFD package which is used to teach the students. Now to some extent this is reasonable package for our purposes – it generates waves and currents, it handles floating bodies with 6 degrees of freedom. Unfortunately, this was developed for preliminary investigations into ship dynamics and therefore lacks a great number of diagnostic tools for solving wave energy problems, in particular, testing the quality of the waves generated.

And that is what fifthwave is for – it is Python code that takes a waveform (in 2D) and records various metrics in graphs and reports about that wave form. Those metrics can then be used to do what is know as a convergence study that will inform me about the quality of the grid I am using. Very useful. What went wrong is that fifthwave originally just produced errors against an analytical wave form, but the convergence tests only work on the original data, and that was harder to extract than it might have been. After a two week slog, fifthwave can now output raw data and errors which makes more sense , say, if a wave with no analytical solution is being examined.

Fifthwave can do more too! In the course of developing fifthwave, a delivery system for sending CFD jobs to our compute cluster has also been added. Fifthwave is turning into an interesting little bit of code that might be useful to others (I have plans). If you want to keep an eye on how the development is going, I (used to) publish the state of the issue tracker (ditz, if you’re interested) here. Now I’d better fix the rest of the bugs and start using it for something.