Thursday, January 20, 2011

The New Scientist Cupcake

Yesterday, I received an intriguing package at work. A square box, marked "FRAGILE". Guesses in the lab ranged from "a mug" (about the right size, but far too light) to...something more sinister.

There was a sense of anti-climax when I opened the box to find that it was from the New Scientist.

Specifically, from the arm of their operation that deals with job adverts. I've placed a few ads with them in the past, and now they were touting for repeat business.

With a cupcake.

The enclosed note very kindly said that they're sending me "a little something in the post to sweeten up my day", but I was staggered by the amount of packaging it required. One cardboard box, a large sheet of bubble wrap, another small box (tied with ribbon), the cupcake itself (wrapped in plastic), and the note.

It certainly did its job, which was to get my attention, but I'm not sure the overall impression is what they intended.

I still ate it, though.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weeknote #32 (w/e 16/1/11)

A (belated) Happy New Year to my tens of readers!

I spent a lovely evening last Monday, as the guest of the Bollington SciBar. This event was set up by Naomi, and took place in the civilised surroundings of the Vale Inn. I spoke for about half an hour on synthetic biology to a gratifyingly large audience, before we opened things up for discussion. There were many insightful questions, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The drive back was much less fun, due to the failure of my windscreen wipers, but that's another story.

Just before Christmas we said goodbye to Jose Cecilia (Chema), who was visiting the group from his University in Murcia, supported by Andy Nisbet and his participation in the HiPEAC Network of Excellence. Chema spent three months working on an implementation of ant colony optimisation for the GPU, and we've just had a conference paper accepted (preprint version is here).