Monthly Archives: November 2012

Scientific presentations: next time use the mouse!

There is one funny thing about modern scientific presentations. We use PPT or Keynote and have nice looking images, data table, figures and movies. Yet when it comes to pointing out a specific element in a slide, we are given an external tool (external to the presention system) : the laser pointer. When you do that, and in particular if the preson presenting is sightly (or overly) stressed out, interesting things happen:

  • Laser is flashed at the audiance and not only at the screen.
  • In rooms with a main monitor and secondary monitors or two main monitors (large ballroom), the laser is shown only on the screen you are pointing at i.e. you are loosing a significant portion of the audience.
  • The best one (and it happen regularly), pointing at the computer screen with the laser (or with your finger!): it does not help you nor the audience. It does make for a good laugh however…
  • So for your next presentation learn a new trick: using the mouse or trackpad to “point” directly on the computer screen. It will show on all monitors and no one will be worried about getting a laser beam in their eyes 😉

    P.S.: no these laser pointers are not dangerous.

    November, this time of the year again

    Prostate cancer will touch 1 men in 7 during his lifetime. November is this time of the year where a special activity called Movember is going on. Making the difference one by one.


    Have a look at or alternatively


    On the go…

    On the go…

    Here is a few tools I really appreciate to carry with me on the go:
    • iPad: I do all of my reading and manuscript editing on it!
    • MacBook Pro Retina display: only on buisiness trip longer than a few days or if I need to finish that last presentation (Keynote for iPad works ok for simple presentations or when the presentation is ready. I still find it easier to build a presntation on the Mac).
    • Cables / Adaptors Organizer: I recently discovered the Coccon Grid-It. It is a simply, elegant and efficient organization system. The picture above shows a fully loaded “grid” with cables, adapters and so on. Just put it in your bag, very robust; nothing came out of it on my last trip (21 hours of plane, 28 hours of total travel and 4 airports later)
    • PlugBug: I really like Twelve South PlugBug power adapter for iPod/iPhone and iPad. The nice thing you can fit it on the top of the MacBook adapter so that it uses a single wall plug.
    • Logitec usb+laser presentation tool.
    • Bose QC 15 for those long flight. Very confortable and highly efficient noise cancelling. I found that it does make a difference on long flights. I did own cheap noise cancelling headphones for the past few years. I have to admit that the QC15 are really in a different class.
    • Digital camera: Just replace my iPhone3GS with a iPhone 5 two weeks ago (just in time for conference travels 😉 ). As advertised, I found that it covers my needs for pocket size camera and business trips photography very nicely. Of course not in the same category of a full-fledge Canon or Nikon camera but my pictures of the Sydney Taronga Zoo are really quite good.
    • Good old pen: you have to fill out those custom forms after all.

    PhD Comics’ What is Open Access?

    Have a look at this post over at Organizing Creativity: PhD Comics’ What is Open Access?

    The time it takes…

    The start of the fall semester is very busy time for a university professor / researcher in Canada. First, classes start after the summer break. Second, there is a converging interest, a nexus of research grants and scholarship application (i.e. writing project descriptions and letter of recommendations for the students!) deadlines in the September-October period. Third, fall is also the time of the year for some major conferences in my field of research. All of this explains the lighter posting on this blog 😉

    Research grant applications have a very peculiar habit to take of lot of your time. However, the most time consuming portion is not always what you would imagine. Every year, after the October deadlines are passed, I keep reminding myself of that. Sure, the research proposal itself tends to be a long process, starting with some key elements, an outline, maybe a mind map. However, by the time you start the writing of the proposal itself, it usually “flows”.

    No, sometimes the most time consuming parts is actually filling out everything else: the online CV forms (this year was really bad with the new and old Canadian Common CV coexisting, at least for us in Quebec), the extra information about prior grants, etc. One of my senior colleague, who started out before computerized forms and internet existed, used to tell me that not so long ago, they would hand-write the science proposals and go back to the lab and to teaching; It was someone else job to type everything in (as in using a typewriter), including the up to date CV…

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