Sex and Lectures about Computers

I previously wrote about the appropriate references to porn in lectures about Computer Science [1]. It seemed that by providing a short list of all the appropriate ways that porn could be mentioned in a lecture some people might get the idea that the infinite variety of other potential ways that porn could be mentioned […]

Appropriate Talks about Porn

There is currently some discussion about a talk which used pornographic imagery and jokes to illustrate points about Ruby programming [1]. A similar event happened in 2006 here is the description of the event from the author – which includes an unreserved apology [2].

It seems to me that the current discussion focusing on what […]

Talking Fast

My previous post about my LCA mini-conf talk received an interesting comment from Christopher Neugebauer.

He said that he had some trouble understanding me because I speak quickly, he wasn’t the first person to make that complaint (it’s the most common complaint I receive). If a talk goes well then I have a lot to […]

Finishing a Presentation too soon

In my previous post about Advice for Speakers [1] I referred to the common problem of going through presentation materiel too quickly due to being nervous. In extreme cases (which tend to happen when giving a presentation for an unusually large audience) the materiel for an hour long presentation may be covered in 10 minutes […]

Questions During Lectures

An issue that causes some discussion and debate is the number and type of questions that may be asked during a lecture. In a previous post giving advice for speakers I suggested that questions can be used as a mechanism for getting a talk back on track if a nervous speaker starts presenting the material […]

submissions for LCA and other conferences

In this post I recommended that job seekers not publish their CV. In a comment Gunnar suggested having a special CV for conferences. I think that Gunnar’s idea is good and have started writing my conference CV at When I complete it I will make it part of every submission for speaking at a […]

what is a BOF?

BOF stands for Birds Of a Feather, it’s an informal session run at a conference usually without any formal approval by the people who run the conference.

Often conferences have a white-board, wiki, or other place where conference delegates can leave notes for any reason. It is used for many purposes including arranging BOFs. To […]

presentations and background color

In response to my last post about using laptops for presentations it has been suggested to me that using white (or a very bright color) as the background color can help some displays synchronise with the signal. I haven’t had an opportunity to test this but it seems likely that as most computers are configured […]

licence for lecture notes

While attending LCA it occurred to me that the lecture notes from all the talks that I have given lack a copyright notice. So I now retrospectively license my lecture notes in the manner that probably matches what everyone was already doing. The Creative Commons web site has a form to allow you to easily […]

Advice for speakers

I am not an expert at public speaking. Attending Toastmasters to improve my speaking skills is on my todo list. However having given hundreds of talks over the course of about 14 years and being paid for giving talks (the minimum criteria to claim to be a professional speaker) I think I can offer some […]