Academic Travel 2: Getting There and Being There

This is part two in a series about what has worked for me during a year of busy academic travelling.

The First Great Western trains in the UK now have in-seat entertainment!

Part 2: Getting There and Being There.
In this post I’m going to cover plane (and train) travel, exploiting your accommodation, and your “kit”.

For the previous post: Part 1:  Preparing For The Trip.
[Updated 23/10/2011]

1. Don’t Write Your Talk on the Plane Mrs Jones

While it’s true that you can get a surprising amount of work done while sat in your seat at ten thousand metres up, the nature of that work should ideally never be the talk you’re about to give. Two reasons:

1. Your laptop can and will fail. This happened to me twice this summer: once at the very beginning of the trip, and once halfway through the conference but before I gave my talk. Both times my talk was done and safely saved to my Dropbox (more on that later), and it turned what could have been an absolute disaster into just a small annoyance.

2. Travel is stressful and unpredictable enough without leaving writing your talk until that 2/5/8/13 hour journey. And it doesn’t matter how long the journey, you really only have the battery life of your computer to get it done. You could be using that time to strategise your conference networking, reading papers to flesh out the fine points of your arguments, or watching a Drew Barrymore comedy on a tiny screen.

Read more

science and design are both about communication

Mike Dickison’s blog Pictures of Numbers is fab. It’s all about clear, simple, effective data visualisation for scientists. Three posts that I thought were particularly useful were: Better Axes: improving readability, increasing the information content and decreasing the clutter in your graphs. Fixing Excel’s Charts: Surgery for the annoying defaults that Excel has, and how … Read more

scientific presentations

Garr Reynolds, at Presentation Zen (a moment for fangirling, please), has a post linking to resources for scientific presentations. Often presentation advice is geared towards commercial or creative models, and while it’s helpful to extract what works/what sucks from those sorts of domains, a Zen-approach to scientific/academic presentation couldn’t come soon enough. From the editorial … Read more

updated website

I finally updated my academic website. Updated CV with two publications 🙂 Changed old diary to point here. Updated the Links page to point to my bookmarks, as keeping that kind of thing current is a time-vortex best left unvisited. In the process, discovered that my site counter/stats tracker code was incorrect, and hasn’t … Read more


I dug out my PDA (a Visor Neo, in up-to-the-minute monochrome) this weekend and have just synched it all up with the Oyster1. My mac is probably having hissy fits about being attached to such an antique piece of technology, but it’s plenty good enough for the diary and contacts function, which is what I … Read more