Archive for March 19, 2020

On Virtual Meetings

Posted in Education, Maynooth with tags , , , on March 19, 2020 by telescoper

We’ve now had almost a week of campus closure here at Maynooth and it has now become clear that there will be no more face to face teaching for the remaining half of the Spring Semester. That does not mean that everything stops, just that all teaching from now on will be delivered remotely.

There probably won’t be any in situ exams in May either: these will have to be replaced by assessments to be submitted online.

During this ‘working from home’ period I’ve been experiencing a few Google hangouts, but that’s just because I was trying to work while still in my underwear.

More relevantly, I have been gradually discovering new ways of holding virtual meetings, which is just as well because we’ll be doing teaching sessions that way starting on Monday.

I’ve been participating in regular videoconferences to do with Euclid using Zoom for a whole now. That seems quite a good easy-to-use platform which can cope with 100 participants.

Yesterday I took part in a virtual meeting using GoToMeeting which is also quite good, although it did remind me of watching Celebrity Squares

(without the celebrities of course).

My video feed kept freezing but that was probably a bandwidth issue at my end rather than a software problem.

This morning I had another new experience, using Microsoft Teams. That wasn’t great to be honest, but it comes with Office 365 so I suppose we should use it on the grounds that we’re paying for it anyway.

I’m not all that experienced at virtual meetings but one tip I can pass on is that if you’re not speaking it’s a good idea to mute your microphone (and probably your video too). Otherwise any noise from shuffling papers, coughing or dropping things gets broadcast to everyone. If you’re presenting something it’s likewise a good idea to ask the audience to mute themselves.

Another point of etiquette is to exercise a bit of self-discipline in not talking over other participants. One should do that anyway, of course, but it’s even more vital in a virtual meeting, otherwise it quickly becomes unbearable. Even if you’re not using Microsoft Teams..

Anyway, if any among you has any further tips to pass on about virtual meetings or remote teaching (including other software platforms worth thinking about) please feel free to make remote use of the Comments Box below.

Early Dark Energy and Cosmic Tension

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2020 by telescoper

To avoid talking any more about you-know-what I thought I would continue the ongoing Hubble constant theme. Rhere is an interesting new paper on the arXiv (by Hill et al.) about the extent to which a modified form of dark energy might relieve the current apparent tension.

The abstract is:


You can click on this to make it bigger; you can also download the PDF here.

I think the conclusion is clear and it may or may not be related to a previous post of mine here about the implications of Etherington’s theorem.

Here’s my ongoing poll on the Hubble constant poll. Feel free to while away a few seconds of your time working from home casting a vote!