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winging it

·534 words
Andy Jackson
Andy Jackson
Fighting entropy since 1993

Well, I finally went over to Industrial Research Limited and gave them a mildy re-written version of the talk I gave to the group here a wee while ago. It seemed to go well, and I only got myself confused once, which is pretty good seeing as I now insist on not working out what I’m going to say ahead of time. I always used to try to script things, but that just seemed to end up with me rushing through the material far too fast…

Although it’s taken me a long time to get to this stage, I can now wing it quite happily when giving a talk. The audience was about 20 people this time, and there were some good, interesting questions and a fair few people who spoke to me afterwards to say they thought it was good. I still have no real idea of how good my talks are, because when I’m winging it I’m only just running above the stream-of-consciousness level, which means I don’t have the time to listen to myself. Having said that, I’m certainly a lot more comfortable giving talks, and a relaxed attitude tends to rub off well on an audience.

I got a bit of a tour of the place while I was there, including a quick look at the Beowulf cluster I’ve been running on. It’s a pretty nice place, and the projects look interesting. A fair chunk of the work they do is quite reminiscent of EPCC. They don’t have access to the kind of computing power that EPCC has, but then they also have lots of real labs where people actually make stuff. So, while the spirit is much the same, the tools are rather different. For example, most projects have both experimental and theoretical work being done on them in house, and the people on both sides work closely together. It is also somewhat bigger than EPCC (hundreds of people on the staff), but then it is a national government research facility.

Reading between the lines, I suspect if I was a bit more pushy about the issue it is quite possible that I could get a job with IRL. I’ve thought about this before, and came to the conclusion that although it sounds quite cool, it’s just too damn far away from home. But on the train back to town, as I watched the beautiful hills around the bay trundling past, I realised how lucky I am to be able to choose between Edinburgh and Wellington. They are both very beautiful cities, although in very different ways, and the fact that I could even have such a choice to make says a lot about my quality of life.

As it turns out, other more pressing and indeed delightful circumstances mean that I will certainly be returning to Edinburgh soon, and for the foreseeable future. I have been lucky to be able to live in New Zealand for two summers, but this is not my home. In fact, that’s not even what home means. Quite what will happen when I get back is another thing entirely, but life is good, exciting, and full of possibilities.

Which is nice. :)