I started the month by giving a lecture at Nottingham on subsitution ciphers for the History of maths and x and recording this using the in-room capture system. This is by no means the best recording I have ever seen but it is a rough and ready approach which involves no cost (to me for the recording – obviously the kit cost money to set up). The talk was advertised through the Nottingham Mathsoc and I was nervous about the number that would turn up. I didn’t want very many – although I have spoken to fairly large audiences I am not accustomed to being recorded speaking and this added to my nerves – but I wanted the number to be greater than zero so I had an audience to judge my timings against and react to. Anyway, the recording seemed to go well and the result is available to view on this blog and elsewhere.
The next day I began a trip along the south coast. I started by going to Brighton to give my careers talk. This went well and I headed to Portsmouth to set up camp. The following day I was the opening speaker at a Portsmouth careers day and this went well, then I headed to Surrey to meet the new student society there over lunch. I returned in the late afternoon to Portsmouth to watch some alumni give talks (look out for a couple of upcoming podcast episodes). It seems the student maths society at Portsmouth is called Portsmath and the membership fee is £3.14, which I found pleasantly geeky. Finally, in the evening, I headed to Southampton and gave my cryptography talk – the first pop maths talk put on by a usually more party-oriented society there.
The following week I took a trip to the South West. In Exeter I stayed in a hotel with a giant Christmas tree outside my window, it being nearly Christmas. I went to Exeter university to hold a careers stall and give my careers talk. Unfortunately the stall was fairly poorly attended – I think I saw 13 maths students in twos and threes over a 2 hour period – and my talk broke a new record for size of audience with only 2 students in attendance. The talk went well anyway and I was reminded it is quality, not quantity, but being so far from home I felt like I was experiencing very inefficient use of my time. The following day I went to Plymouth and was well looked after while I gave my final careers talk of the year to a nice response.
In preparing my 6-monthly report for the IMA I realised that in the nine week period 7 Oct-10 Dec 2009 just over 1100 people had seen me give 32 talks at 28 universities and 150 have spoken to me at 3 universities when I have operated careers stalls. This feels very pleasing.
At the end of the year my 6-month IMA review and annual appraisal both went well, I received my copy of iSquared issue 10 containing my article “Ciphers through the ages” (to accompany my History of maths and x video on the same topic) just before Christmas and the podcast was on its half century episode with Sebastien Guenneau on invisibility cloaks. So it is we move into 2010 (or is it MMX?) hoping the blog will keep proper time this year and not need periodic catching up!