You know what you shouldn't do?

Posted by September Blue Saturday, 1 August 2009

Three conferences in two weeks. For the sake of your sanity, your health, and your ability to sit through a Q&A session beginning with the words 'This is more of a comment than a question, really' without feeling a primal urge to throw a data projector at the speaker in question, just say no.

The conferences themselves were great. I've mostly recovered from my pre-emptive grumpiness before the first one ("Have a fun conference!" "Have a fun conference? Have a fun conference? You do know this conference involves getting up at 4am to fly there, right? On Ryanair?"), and the inevitable exhaustion was helped by having some time at home between conferences #1 and #2. Still, given that for most of my PhD conferences were my only real time off, it's a bit depressing to realise that drunken conference dances going on till 2am are no longer my favourite part of the conference. Going home and sleeping? That's my favourite part of the conference.

Some observations from along the way:

1) There are good conference badges and bad conference badges. Anything that hangs at breast-height with really tiny type is a bad conference badge. (I have heard some disagreement on this, but none of it from women, so whatever.) Clip-on badges are fine, except for when people attach them to their waistbands or to pockets of shirts worn under jackets, which they will. Safety pins are better.

2) A campus map is not a substitute for direction signs. Lots of direction signs. Seriously, just plaster the campus with arrows, everyone will thank you for it.

3) Macs will not bite you! Macs are fine! You do not need special advance warning if people are bringing Macs to your conference! I honestly do not get this, not when all people want is to plug their fairly standard computer into a fairly standard data projector. It's not quite 'Can I get this full-scale model of the Antikythera mechanism running on the campus network', is it?

4) Ryanair really is getting worse. I swear to God, if the plane got into trouble they would sell you parachutes.

5) Packing just about as much stuff as you can humanly carry, and then taking along a laptop as well, is the only deterrent I have ever found to spending three months' wages on the book stall.