Tag Archives: Justin

Epic Presentation Fail

Presenting without slides. All the kids are doing it.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today was the day that I was scheduled to give my talk titled Signal Processing for Species Identification. And as I had also mentioned in yesterday’s post, as of last night I still had to finish said presentation.

Of course, last night was also the traditional banquet for the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada. As with all good banquets, wine was provided on each of the tables. There may also have been a beer ticket or two in my pocket. Mix that with an excellent spread of food, and it will come as no surprise to anyone that I was stuffed, and fully one-beer-plus-some-wine buzzed by the end of the eve. As such, last night was all about celebrating statistical nerdery, spending time laughing and chatting with friends and colleagues, and doing anything but what might be interpreted as work.

Last night’s celebration also meant that my presentation wouldn’t be finished until this morning. With that in mind, I made sure that I was up at 5:30 this morning so that I could have a few hours to put towards perfecting it. For your viewing pleasure, I have embedded it below with some fancy pants HTML compu-geekery. As with most of my presentations, there is very little in the way of text, as I prefer to tell a story and use the slides as a visual aid. For a change this time around, I also opted to not use equations – no one really reads them, and I think they are more often than not distracting1.

One fish over two fish plus red fish plus blue fish. The answer is so obvious!

Anyway, flash forward to this morning at 10am when I arrived to set up2. I quickly discovered that our room lacked one major item that was crucial to my and the other presenters’ success: a computer that could be hooked up to the projector system. After a bit of running about by some volunteers, a computer was found. This of course cut into each presenter’s time, and ultimately meant that I had no time to set up. Crapshite.

What was the result of all of this?

Well, let’s just say that I wasn’t able to even use my slides. That’s right folks, I presented without my slides. Fortunately, as I mentioned previously, they were set up as a visual aid and not as the presentation. This meant that I could still tell a story without the pictures.

DNA equals fish. This makes perfect mathematical sense.

Worst presentation ever? Thankfully no – and I’ve got confirmation of this fact from Rick, Justin, and Lauren. Biased opinions perhaps? Perhaps. But, their verdict was corroborated by several other attendees of my talk. So while I was disappointed that my slides weren’t used, I was still happy with the overall result. It definitely wasn’t my best presentation, but it clearly could have been much worse.

Anyway, the SSC officially came to a close today. It was definitely a good time; I managed to visit and chat with many colleagues, sat in on some very interesting (and relevant to me) talks, and learned that I could present without the use of slides.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby indeed.



1 Okay, I lied a little. I technically had two equations in my presentation (as indicated). Best equations ever!

2 As a good little statistical presenter, I made sure to be in the room 15 minutes before the session was to begin for just this purpose.


More Hours Please

More hours please.

I’m sure this request has been made about a kajillion or so times over the course of my life, but I would really like some more hours in the day please. Just 2 or 3 would be nice.

I’m looking for this extra time because there are just too many things that I’d like to do, and not nearly enough time to do them. And I don’t necessarily mean things like skydiving, bungee jumping, cliff jumping, paragliding, and the like1. I’m talking about all of the nerdy things that I’d like to do. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time.

Example the first: Today I sat in on a presentation by a visiting professor – Martin Pelikan from the University of Missouri at St. Louis – about Estimation of Distribution Algorithms. I won’t get into the details, but I will say that I found it absolutely fascinating. So much so that it prompted me to write down several ideas for my own research program. And I would love it if I were actually able to sit down and explore them further. I’m positive that if what I’m thinking hasn’t been done already, I could easily develop a solution to a set of problems using the methods he presented today. It’s this type of thing that gets my nerd juices flowing and makes me love what I do even more.

It’s also frustrating because I end up with a list of questions longer than what I have time to actually explore. More hours please.

Example the second: I was contacted today by my friend Dr. Beth - yes, the world record holder thank you very much – about an opportunity that we just can’t refuse to do because oh-my-gawd it would be so awesome if it were to happen and we really need to make it happen, why isn’t it happening already? I’m not going to get into any of the details about this opportunity at the moment, but suffice it to say, we are both stoked about the potential. So much so, that I’ve been letting ideas bounce around in the back of my brain since I read her email this morning. My hope is that the bouncing ideas will spawn some super-duper excellent awesome ideas and we can then tackle this project with gusto. Gusto I says!

Having a few extra hours to just sit down and think about this opportunity would be amazing. Sadly, I’ll have to rely on my brain to work on this in the background and hope for something epic when it’s done. More hours please.

So much idea bouncing space.

Example the third: One of my meetings today was with Justin2. We’ve been working on a project for the better part of the semester and are somewhat underwhelmed by the performance of a model that is used quite frequently by ecologists for assessing natural resources. At first we thought this might be an issue with our program, or perhaps a mistranslation of the mathematics and statistics to computer language. But after having gone through the code several kajillion times, after having simplified everything as best we can, after having re-derived the mathematics and statistics for the model, and after having reprogrammed everything, the results are still underwhelming4. This leads me to believe that it’s not us, it’s the model5.

I’d really like to explore this further tonight, however, course prep and assignment grading are also calling my name6More hours please.

Anyway, as much as I repeat more hours please the universe just doesn’t want to cooperate. Apparently it doesn’t revolve around me. Who knew?


1 Of course, these are on the list.

2 My Undergraduate Research Assistant Extraordinare3.

3 I feel like this title deserves a cape of some sort. If I had the time, I might actually make him a cape to wear. And yes, I’d make him wear it. Ha!

4 At least it’s consistently underwhelming. That’s something, right?

5 That sounds like some sort of bad break up joke between a mathematician and a model. Ha! I kill me.

6 And yes, I realize I could be working on that instead of writing yet another blog post, but the break affords me the ability to work into the wee hours of the morn without going completely insane. That’s right folks, I blog for sanity.