Farewell, Cambridge

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving Cambridge. I’ve done this before, but four years ago on the same day that I left I learnt that I had been granted funding for a PhD, and so the possibility of me coming back seemed quite likely. This time, after nearly seven years here, Cambridge feels much more like “home”, and I have no plans to return for anything longer than a visit.

Fortunately I have exciting plans to keep me from getting too nostaligic for my extended “student days”! Tuesday evening I shall land in Sydney for the start of a much-needed two-month holiday in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong! After that I shall return briefly to the UK, before moving to London to start a new job with a large bank who are promptly sending me on a three-month training course in New York! It’s all very exciting, and I shall endeavour to keep the readers of this website fully-informed of my travels and experiences.

Now, I guess I should go and finish packing…

Blogging from beneath the Channel

I’m blogging this from beneath the English Channel (“La Manche” to the French) from the comfort of a seat on the Eurostar. It’s so much more civilised than flying: more leg-room, a simple X-ray instead of arduous and slow security checks, and it delivers me straight to Waterloo/Paris-Nord instead of over an hour from the City centre. Highly recommended (although no wifi: this will have to wait to be posted until I get back to Cambridge).

Versailles and Paris were also interesting. Versailles it pretty much all about the Chateau — I didn’t get to go inside unfortunately, but the gardens were mightily impressive. As a town Versailles is OK, although the old town where we were staying is rather quiet once the coach parties leave. Similarly work meant I only got to spend an afternoon in Paris, although that was enough time to go up the Eiffel Tower and stroll down the impressive Champs Elysee. I hadn’t realised you could go inside the Arc de Triumphe, but someone said it’s very good so I shall make that and The Louvre (an impressive building from the outside, I imagine even better inside) a priority next time.

Death by laser pointer

It seems that people have now been using Powerpoint for sufficiently long that “Death by Powerpoint” is a rare event at conferences these days. Alas, this morning I felt the life being sucked from me by misuse of a laser pointer.

The two most obvious problems that inflict laser pointing users are that:

  1. it causes the speaker to turn their back to his/her audience so they can point at the screen;
  2. a bright spot whizzing around the screen in a random manner is very distracting.

I think a more fundamental problem is that the ability to point at one’s slides also encourages the speaker to talk to the slides rather than using them as a visual aid supporting one’s talk.

Google Portal?

Personalised Google looks interesting. I’ve always liked the idea of MyYahoo! but the interface is quite cluttered so it never became my homepage. The interface of the Google portal is actually one of the coolest parts of this page — you can use “drag and drop” to re-order the information! Being a Beta-service, the available information is a little limited at the moment and US-centric—for example, Google news is available but not Google UK News.