I’ve been conducting interviews of late in a variety of situations – face to face interviews, phone interviews and Skype interviews. As part of university ethics clearance I am permitted to record the interviews in both an audio and video format, pending sign-off from the interviewee.

Aside from the huge effort that goes into ethics applications for university research, some of the more practical aspects of interviewing almost tripped me over early in the data gathering process. How do I record interviews? Can I rely on a single source for audio recording? What notes do I take? What about recording phone calls or Skype?

The following has gotten me through interviews thus far, and I hope that it serves as a useful resource for those starting out on their interviewing journey.

It should be noted that I use iPhones, iPads and Macs. This is mostly to highlight what has worked for me. I’m sure there are alternatives on Samsung’s, ASUS, Windows, etc. But this may give you an idea what to search for in trying to emulate this setup. Good luck!

Please note that I have paid for any apps or equipment myself. I consider my PhD an investment and I’ve been willing to buy equipment if necessary. None of the information below is sponsored, nor have I received any money for these links. This is totally my own opinion and I simply hope it assists people with the process, whether you use the same equipment or not. […]

Export from Sente to Scrivener
March 26, 2015

Using Notes from Sente

One of the biggest concerns I had about Sente was being able to use the notes that I had taken in Sente in a practical way. In using Word or Byword as the main writing tool for writing, this generally meant keeping Sente and the program open, with flicking back and forth between them. While I had identified a way to make this work, it was starting to get cumbersome, and unwieldy with long documents.

A number of people that do PhD research would be familiar with the Thesis Whisperer, and the program Scrivener that is often referred to on that blog. I have been trialling it, and finally bit the bullet and bought a copy. I’m still learning some of its peculiarities, however to get up and running with it and be functional from Day 1 is very straightforward.

I did still have this issue of flicking back and forward between Scrivener and Sente.

Fortunately a script has been developed to export notes from Sente to Scrivener, and there is a handy youtube video to quickly guide you through the script use.

Export from Sente to Scrivener

Worth checking out if you are looking at integrating a process for software that may not be as commonly used as Evernote. Sente is still my preferred PDF management app, and I’m glad that I’ve found ways to use that information from one program to another in a good flow with less repetition.




1280px-Bos_grunniens_at_Letdar_on_Annapurna_CircuitMy supervisor introduced me to the concept of yak-shearing (or shaving as it is known in some circles), and I’ve found that I tend to be an expert on this topic! (That is, I’m good at it!)

I’ve used it a few times recently, and so I am forced to find a good definition of it!

The best definition I’ve found to date is from this site:

You see, yak shaving is what you are doing when you’re doing somestupid, fiddly little task that bears no obvious relationship to whatyou’re supposed to be working on, but yet a chain of twelve causalrelations links what you’re doing to the original meta-task.

Seth Godin apparently (unconfirmed) put together this example of the process of yak shearing:

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do.

“I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

Whether or not this is accurately attributed, the sentiment is correct – it’s a form of procrastination based on rationalising each task as “required” in order to complete the task that you need to do. Invariably it results in you putting off the task that needs to be done (probably because in my case I subconsciously don’t want to do it).

Getting around it? There are a bunch of strategies, but the best one for me is to keep coming back to that to-do list. In designing my tasks, I need to break it down in to sub-tasks. This helps me identify any yaks in advance, in some cases. When I find myself off on a task that seems to be wasting my time, I need to do a reality check. I don’t always remember to do this, but I’m getting better.

BTW – this post isn’t yak shearing. It’s straight-up procrastination!

Thanks, Ciorstan!


I had been testing a standing desk arrangement, and had my iMac precariously perched on top of a lap desk (on top of my existing desk) to determine whether a standing desk arrangement was for me.

Turns out it is… and even though it can be quite tiring, it seems to be totally worth it. I’ve adjusted some activities to accommodate periods of sitting and standing. The result is that I sleep and feel a whole lot better, with fewer aches and pains. This means that I can concentrate more.

As a result I’ve changed the arrangement to a more permanent structure. The pussycats may have some issues with it initially, as it eats into their lounging real estate, but it is allowing me to find a more permanent home for a number of items that used to be strewn across my desk.

Here is the new configuration.