Mind Mapping Your Initial Research Interest

Mind mapping is a graphical technique used to visually organize information and ideas. It is a creative and effective tool for organizing thoughts. In this presentation, I explain how you can effectively use MindMup 2, a free tool for mind mapping, to organize your initial ideas when you are starting your research.

Click on double-sided arrow on bottom-right of the presentation to make it full-screen.

Doing Research

New to research? Complete two paragraphs by filling the spaces with the words given. You can try as many times you want. Try to complete with minimum attempts. Think logically.

Behind a Great Personality

When young Suneetha Attygalle arrived at Sydney Australia to study her diploma in Orthoptics through a Colombo Plan scholarship, it was her first day away without her parents. Siri, a Sri Lankan who had lived in Australia for five years was requested to help and look after her. He did the task entrusted to him so well, finally marrying her, with the promise to look after her for life. Unfortunately, he had to leave this world too early, leaving her to look after their children alone.

A quiet house surrounded by tall trees at the end of the street, I met this charming lady, Mrs. Suneetha Caldera, wife of late Professor Siri Caldera, introduced by a friend Archt. Nissanka Attygalle. She was Nissanka’s elder sister. Driven by my curiosity I enquired, and she was kind enough to tell me her memories about her husband.

Siri Caldera got qualified as a draughtsman at age of 19. He received a Commonwealth scholarship to study a six year programme in Quantity Surveying in Australia. He completed the programme within four years, and worked the balance two years as a Quantity Surveyor in Brisbane and Sydney. This was the time he met Suneetha Attygalle. They got married in 1967 and were blessed with three daughters. During this time Siri Caldera worked as the Chief Quantity Surveyor at the Buildings Department. In early 80’s, he left with his family to Nigeria for a two-year assignment. He returned to Sri Lanka following an invitation to lead the establishment of a Quantity Surveying degree course at University of Moratuwa.

“Upon return Siri joined the university as the Professor of Quantity Surveying. He worked very hard to get the course implemented, he spent most of his time at the University”; said Mrs. Caldera. “This was the time he got a very attractive offer to work as the Quantity Surveyor for a project in Kuwait. They even came to Sri Lanka to get him to accept the offer. But he humbly refused saying that he had a greater responsibility here. Had he accepted that offer, he could have been still alive”; she added.

“Siri used to call his students ‘my children’, and he asked me to look after ‘our children’, while he was always worried about the future of his children. I did not go to work as it became impossible to look after three girls and all the work at home while doing a job. Siri did not want to stay away from the university ‘for a second’ as he was always worried about the Quantity Surveying being invaded by some others. What he wanted was to keep Quantity Surveying for graduates, his children. I could realize how much he had to fight for this purpose, from the way he came home exhausted everyday. I asked him not to take that much of stress as it would not be good for his health condition. What he told was that it was only until his first batch of students graduates. Then he could hand over the Quantity Surveying Department (Department of Building Economics) to them and live peacefully thereafter”; Mrs. Caldera awakened the memories. Professor Caldera could not witness the graduation of his first batch of students. He died a few months before their graduations due to a heart failure resulted from high blood pressure.

“It was a troublesome time with JVP insurgence; in addition to this sort of pressure, he had to face the internal pressure from forces within the university which wanted to wipe out the Quantity Surveying degree. The extreme stress and tension increased his blood pressure to high risk levels. Still he did not give up his fight; and that fight didn’t leave him any room to fight for his own life. Finally, we lost him at a time we needed him the most. He died in Kandy; we could not even bring his remains to Colombo due to uncertain situation in the country. His demise brought us lot of hardship. I was not working. Our eldest daughter was sitting for university entrance. She happened to give up her higher education and find employment. The youngest was only eleven years old.”

She told me all these with a smile on her face, but I could feel the sadness within. I could also feel the glow on her face when I said that we still have a photograph of the professor on the department wall, and that “Professor Caldera” is a legend – a story being told by senior students to their juniors as a tradition.

She has been courageous to overcome the hardships she faced. Her elder daughter now lives in Canada. The youngest has become a lecturer following her father’s footsteps and now reading for a PhD. Her second daughter is a lawyer, and she’s the one who lives with her mother.

This is a report from an unplanned interview I had with Mrs. Caldera. There can be many flaws in this article due to my lack of prior preparation and lack of time for her to recall the past leisurely. I like to thank Archt. Nissanka Attygalle, for giving me the opportunity to meet Mrs. Caldera, and for the photographs he later emailed me. Finally, I express my heartfelt gratitude to Mrs. Caldera, for her care and understanding extended to her late husband, which in turn enabled him to reach his dreams, even though he could not live to see his dreams coming true. The only way in which we can repay him is to become world-class Quantity Surveyors. That was his dream and I am sure that he must be still looking after us from heaven.

This is a copy of the article I wrote Quantity Surveying Alumni website in December 2012. I thought of republishing here since the QS Alumni website is revamped and the new website does not contain the article.

Civic 2017/18 (UK) Sri Lanka Navigation Map

Civic comes with Garmin European Map loaded with 5 years subscription. I searched a lot and could not find if official Garmin Map for Sri Lanka is available. There were few sources selling the map, but they were likely to be ones created from OSM (Open Street Map). Finally, I decided to try it myself.

Many thanks should go to Dhanajaya Tennakoon who had given clear instructions in AutoLanka Forum. Following his instructions I got it done.


I will share how to do it, but do it at your own risk.

Follow the instructions given in Honda Navigation Updates page only up to Step 2: I mean complete the Step 2, but don’t move to Step 3 yet.

Map update download was about 7GB when I did this in 2018, so better to leave it to download when you have free data. Use a USB stick at least 16GB. An 8GB worked for me, but was barely enough, if the newest update is larger, it wouldn’t fit in 8GB.

Find and download Sri Lanka map from here. Select “Generic Routable (new style)” from first section, and from the second, click on “Asia” drop-down and select “Sri Lanka”. Wait until it finds the download file (it might take a minute). Click on “Download map now!”. From the new page, download the file “osm_generic_gmapsupp.zip” and unzip it get the file “gmapsupp.img”.

Now, there is a file with the same name in “Garmin” folder in your USB stick. Get a copy of this to a safe place in your computer (for future use if need arise), and replace it with the one above (i.e. the renamed sri lankan map).

Once above is properly done, continue to step 3 in Honda Navigation Updates (see above).

Keep the USB stick safe for future use. You can replace “gmapsupp.img” file in it with newer one (download from above source) and update the navigator map by directly going into step 3.

“Do not connect it to any other car, or do not connect USB stick created from other cars in yours, as it may lock the system” – was an advice Dhananjaya had given.

You must know that the Sri Lankan map is exported from OSM project. It is a community based project, so the accuracy of some details may be an issue. But, it is generally good. But, for Colombo I prefer AndroidAuto Google Map since it comes with traffic update.

At the time of writing AndroidAuto is not available for Sri Lanka in Google Play. You can download its APK from APKMirror.

I in fact rarely use in built Garmin map to find the way (i.e. to navigate) in Colombo. But, the Garmin Map is really useful for long distance out-of-city travel. I’m glad that I could get it done.

Another advantage of having the built-in map is, it keeps a record of all your trips with date stamp in map so that you can locate the places you visited. It may of course not be so good if your spouse comes to know about this option. Well, this guide will not help in that. I remind you, do it at your own risk. =)

T2T Flash Diffuser for Portraits

I got my first DSLR recently and started thinking of photography as an art. It was quite amusing to do experiments and to find shots I would say to myself “wow”. I got Yongnuo YN565EX speedlight nearly half the price of Nikon varients; and it was the very first speedlight I had ever handled. It is really a good one as per the reviews I’ve read.

First I used ceiling bounce for portraits since I did not like sharp shadows and rough skin tones the direct flash created. However, ceiling bounce created shadow near eyes, and it made eyes look dull. I tried several options and came up with this homemade flash diffuser, which gave great results. Then I thought of sharing it with you.

I searched through plastic items at home (such as empty bottles, boxes and kitchenware). I used my LED torch light to figure out what effects they give to white light. I found that the Johnsons Top-to-Toe (T2T) liquid soap bottle adds a golden glow to the sharp beam of light; but the bounce light remained white (I am not sure of the science behind it).

Making the diffuser was a bit of trial and error task to me. But you can now get it right at the first time. Get the perimeter of your flash head by making a crown for it using a paper strip. Push the paper crown onto the plastic bottle to mark the perimeter of flash on the bottle. Cut through this line. Soften the cut edge (find your own way, I used sandpaper). Diffuser will not yet fit onto your flash. Now heat the cut edge of the diffuser on kitchen stove while briskly rotating (be careful not to overheat), then push it onto a glass bottle (a wine bottle) so that the cut edge perimeter will expand a little to fit onto your flash. Your diffuser is ready.

I pasted a thick white paper to one side of the diffuser so that I get more light to the front. Note that this T2T bottle is a bit thick; you will have to increase the power of flash to compensate for that. The golden glow added nicely enhances the asian skin tones. Hope you’ll love the results.

STROBIST Blog was a great place to learn about using flash lights for photography. I’m greatful to the authors and contributors valuable knowledge it gave me. I recommend it to you all who looking for starting to use speedlights effectively. Start with lighting 101 Archive from right column drop down items in the blog.

A little advice for reviewing literature

This little guide would help you in doing your dissertation thesis. This is not a comprehensive guide for literature reviewing, instead it address two interlinked important aspects. These ideas occurred to me while I was reviewing students’ write ups of their literature review. You may have already started your review or planning for it. At either stage, these views might help you to do a better review.

When writing your literature review, you have to be very clear about the facts you are presenting. It is important to indicate the reliability of the facts. In literature there are;

– Opinions
– Experiences
– Findings, and
– Conclusions

In your review these should be clearly identified. In terms of knowledge, above is in the increasing order of value. In general Findings through a research study are stronger than experience. Opinions can be merely assumptions in many cases, therefore not the proper knowledge. Conclusions are the strongest because it combines the findings to the current knowledge. However, the general situation may vary depending on the quality of the work. For example, if the findings are combined with poor literature review (current knowledge), the conclusions may become totally unreliable, but findings may be valuable.

This shows the requirement of you to be able to identify the quality of a study. Then you can use the knowledge effectively. That is why we say it is a critical review of literature. You just don’t buy in what is given.

Second point; we should indicate what type of knowledge is presented in our write-up. For example

The opinion of most researchers was that BIM should be implemented as a national policy (Abd, 2006; …) . However, Bimman (2012) suggests that organizations need not to wait for such policy. He has shown that XYZ Architects in Australia has successfully implemented BIM on their own. However, his description about the implementation indicates that XYZ Architects have not gained the full benefit of BIM implementation as their structural engineers and quantity surveyors were not BIM ready.

The above example starts with opinion, then another opinion by Bimman which becomes weak conclusion when combined with experience, then a critical review of the conclusion. You got to think of these things from the reader’s point of view.

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