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Going to SIN

My father is fond of telling people that he used to work at SIN (Schweizerisches Institut fur Nuklearphysik). Well, I'm surpassing him -- I don't need to work at it. I'm just going to SIN. Jan 5 to May 28.

Hmm. It's approximately 30 km from the airport to the university. If I keep on running through the winter, I could probably run that distance by the time I go there.

MEAWS rhythms in Flash

I have the first test version of the MEAWS rhythm game written in Flash. It was much easier than I expected; if this actually works, I'm going to be disgusted.

If you're reasonably computer-savvy and/or don't mind wasting a few minutes, try it: rhythm test.

You need a microphone. The object is to discover if this is actually a viable cross-platform tool. There is (virtually) no user interface, no game, and no fun. You'll probably need to try running it a few times before you get anything happening. To try it again, hit "refresh".

Greatest eyes

I received the teaching evaluations for last summer. UVic, like I imagine most universities these days, asks students to fill out an evaluation form about their instructors and TAs near the end of the class. These include a numerical portion (giving a ranking from -2 to +2 on things like "use relevant examples and illustrations" or "is polite, courteous and provides an open, hospitable environment for all") and comments.

The numerical section tends to be useless -- I've filled out enough of them myself to know that the answers can be fairly random -- but I always pay attention to the written comments. (these can be typed out by a secretary to anonymize the handwriting if the student ticks the relevant box).

I recieved the best two comments in my (teaching) life this time. The second-best comment was

He has a great abillity [sic] to explain in may different ways.

I make a deliberate effort to do this, so I'm quite happy that somebody noticed. If somebody doesn't understand a concept, I'll repeat the same explanation once (in case he wasn't paying attention the first time -- quite reasonable in a lab setting). But if they still don't get it, I try to find a radically different way to explain the concept.

The best comment of all was:

... and he has the greatest eye's [sic] I have ever seen.

Once of my fellow grad students at UVic was really pleased about getting "The prof is smoking hot", and now I understand why. Quite apart from the mundane physical compliment, it indicates a level of friendly respect. I mean, nobody would ever write "the instructor was a complete jerk, was always unprepared, couldn't teach anything... but had fabulous hair". When students throw in comments like that, you know that they're happy.

I must admit that the grammar adds a certain naive charm. This was a first-year class, so it seems entirely appropriate to have a "look out, there's an S coming!" apostrophe in there. :)