If we consider optimal attention span, a microcentury is much too
long. Two half microcenturies with a pause in between would be
I like this analysis a lot! But there's one more twist to the story: are
we even using the right definition of year? There's actually several
different ways we can define a year:
For each of these we can define the microcentury as a hundred
microyears. So the sidereal microcentury is +35.81 seconds, while the
tropical microcentury is +35.69 seconds. The NIST microcentury is +33.6
seconds, while the Julian microcentury is +35.76 seconds (as you
Personally, I'd define a calendar microcentury as a four-millionth of
400 years to match the leap year cycle. That'd give us +35.692 seconds.
We had a running joke in engineering school, that π seconds is
close to a nanocentury by around 6 nanomonths, we obviously didn't
go that far in calculations, so I wonder if it still holds.
Running overtime is the one unforgivable error a lecturer can make.
This is tangential to the content of the article but I'm continually
astonished by the number of speakers who seem to be comfortable
(largely at conferences) running over time cutting into their
question time, the time of the next speaker, or even worse, lunch!
Presumably it's not just me and Rota who feel this way, but it seems
like there must be a large contingent of people who are very
easygoing about it and quite happy to overrun or listen to
overrunning speakers. I would be interested to know the thoughts of
Elon Musk says he is willing to spend $6 billion to fight world
hunger if all hungry people relocate to Mars. So it could be good
idea to calculate how long one milionth of a century on Mars is!
At most conferences, the people speaking are not professional
speakers, and as such I don’t mind them running over.
In my experience, it’s hard to time a talk correctly, even with
multiple run throughs ahead of time. Standing up in front of a big
crowd, even if I’ve got a stop watch running I can end up going far
too quick, or far too slowly, and end up with tunnel vision where I
fail to identify and correct the mistake.
Are _some_ of the speakers doing it intentionally? Probably. Did
some just fail to prepare? Almost certainly. But things come up, and
in the most charitable case, they just stood in front of a bunch of
people and communicated something they thought was important. I
applaud them for that, and move on.
I usually don't like it when people sidestep the content of a link,
to go on some tangent about its typography or aesthetics.
But damn. This is a gorgeous looking blog, for using only
default fonts and minimal CSS.
Apparently the author wrote
static site builder in Common Lisp, but it's so minimal
that the content itself is still written in raw HTML. It feels silly
but this just takes me back to happier days (pre-WordPress and
pre-social media) and makes me wonder why we lost our way. I dearly
miss the feeling of making sites like this (but uglier!) back in the
So true! I always rehearse my talks several times with the stopwatch
on my phone sitting on a nearby desk, but I feel like that’s not an
obvious thing to people who are getting started and don’t have theatre
or public speaking experience.
It's a lot like that quote, "If I had more time I would’ve written a
I've always thought that conference talks should have the traffic
light system that you get a Toastmasters.
IIRC it's green while you've still got plenty of time, orange when
you're within x minutes of the scheduled end, and red once you're at
the scheduled end.
I've found from Toastmasters that a nice bright light at the back of
the hall is much easier to respond to than a clock or something