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Blog Archive: September 2021

The Beginning Of The End
I had a bit of an Emotional Milestone yesterday, as one of my Big Two Projects* moved ever closer to its glorious end.

For LO! I had what turned out to be my VERY LAST EVER Phd Supervisory Meeting. This is where I get together with my two PhD supervisors to talk through where the thesis is at, get feedback, and plan what to do next. Yesterday's meeting was the 38th one we've had over the past five years, but by the end of it we agreed that we would meet NO MORE, for LO! (again) the thesis had got to the point where I only needed to make a few adjustments and could the SUBMIT it. Crikey!

This is not the end of the whole thing, just yet, but it is certainly the BEGINNING of the end. Once I've made the changes and submitted it we have to give the examiners about six weeks to READ the whole thing (it's currently around 100,000 words long and some of the words themselves are also very long) before we have a VIVA. Some people see this as a terrifying ordeal in which World Experts QUIZ you, trying to catch you out on MISTAKES, but personally I'm really looking forward to it, as I am envisaging it as three people who HAVE to listen to me DRONING ON about Doctor Doom and Transmedia for AT LEAST an hour without asking me to stop! Even better, we are having a MOCK Viva before then, when a whole other three people have to listen to me go on about it - what could possibly be more fun?

The VIVA decides whether I get a PhD or not (or whether I do, but have to make yet more changes first), but if they say YES one way or the other all I need to do is hand in a final version and I can ponce around saying "DOCTOR Hibbett actually, not that I like to go on about it" etc etc for the rest of my born days. I'm looking forward to it, OBVS, but I'm also going to miss the sesssions with my DELIGHTFUL supervisors. It really has been an awful lot of fun!

(* the other Big Project is a Secret Thing which I REALLY hope I can also start showing off about by the end of the year. Be assured, as soon as I CAN, I very much WILL!)

posted 23/9/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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It Made A Generation Who Can Code
Last night, when the news broke that Sir Clive Sinclair had died, people started talking about it online, and an awful lot of them quoted bits of Hey Hey 16K. This was as ever an HONOUR - I obviously didn't have anything to do with the ZX Spectrum or the subsequent wave of UK BRANES going on to develop our current computing industry, and I don't really have that much to do with the Retro Gaming types or the various museums, but it was still nice to know that I had made a tiny contribution to the historical record of it all, even if it was only to express how many of us remember the era. It was still a bit odd though when Dominik Diamond (off the telly!) mentioned it!

Back when I wrote the song it felt like nobody ever talked about the influence that the ZX Spectrum had on us all, and on the country, and even though that's changed a bit since then it was still a bit weird to watch the news later that night and see as much time given to the C5 as to the home computers. I guess a grainy clip of people looking vaguely silly on a C5 makes for better telly than a teenager hunched over a tiny keyboard playing "Manic Miner", but it seemed like a wasted opportunity to really celebrate the fact that Sir Clive Sinclair's inventions changed the way the entire country looked at computers. SO many people of my generation owe much of the way their lives turned out to the DIY spirit of the Spectrum, whether that's just getting a start in coding or grasping the idea that you COULD create things yourself and get them out into the world. If we hadn't had the Spectrum we'd all have grown up with BORING BBC Micros, genuinely using it to do homework or solve math puzzles, rather than creating our own stupid games and, occasionally, being able to make a living out of it.

What I'm trying to say is basically what the song says, I guess - we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to a PUNK ROCK GENIUS who gave so many of us our start in DIY culture, as well as the ability to make a living in computing too. Thanks very much, Sir Clive!

posted 17/9/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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