Off-site adventure

11th April 2008 – 8.36 am

I went to an off-site training seminar yesterday, on the basics of vibration shaker testing. It turned out to be a little too basic overall, but there were a few moments that were of interest, and I got to see the phallic student digs of Loughborough university again.

To get to Loughborough I drove about 100 miles up the M1, some 85 miles further up the M1 than I normally travel on my commute. It is heartwarming to discover that the only congestion on that 100 mile stretch of motorway is almost entirely contained within a 10 mile stretch I use every day. With any luck, the current road-widening that is partially creating the daily jams will, once complete, let me travel down the motorway using proper lanes instead of passing between cars in a way that resembles Luke Skywalker's passage down the Death Star trench. Only another 9 months of roadworks to go.

Even in a hire car I faced some potential danger on my journey though. In a contraflow section of the roadworks the front near-side tyre of the car in front of me started smoking quite badly. I dropped back even further behind him, just in case the tyre blew, and hoped that there wouldn't be an accident in the contraflow itself, but the smoking tyre looked pretty bad. Luckily, for me at least, the car made it out of the contraflow and the driver pulled over in to the coned-off section of motorway to stop, although he didn't do that immediately so I wondered what effect the tyre was having on his handling for the past two miles.

As for the seminar, I have a few notes. First, there was a lovely message on the side of a piece of test equipment used for demonstrations, asking 'please do not block airflow' as if it were a simple courtesy and not imperative for the electronics to continue working. I wouldn't like to deal with a person who thinks that the wording 'do not block airflow' is unnecessarily rude or curt.

I remembered why I don't much like going to presentations. It's because presenting information is difficult. There is the problem of reading the slides' content verbatim, thus negating the whole point of looking at the slides. I don't need to read along with someone to understand information. This is compounded by handing out copies of the slides to delegates, so that I have a copy of the slide in front of me, one being projected on to a screen, and the presenter reading out the words. I'm left with my attention drifting.

On top of that was the over-use of laser pointers. There were legitimate times when the pointers were useful, highlighting specific areas of diagrams, but I really don't think I need every word to repeatedly underlined whenever the presenter mentions it. I can follow the presentation just fine without the equivalent of a karaoke bouncing-ball moving over each word. Mind you, I have to admit that I found it a little amusing that one presenter kept on mistaking the laser pointer he was holding as a remote control for advancing his slides on the laptop.

It wasn't a terrible seminar, but the basic level of the subject matter, which I appear to have gained through experience, let my attention drift to the presentation of the material more than the content. It's good to know that I know what I am doing too.

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