My personal and professional adventure into Science

Archives for February 2013

How to get efficient back to work after vacation

Sunday afternoon I returned from Australia to Denmark after travelling for more than 42 hours through 9 time zones, with 4 planes in 5 different airports.

Okay, I admit, I didn’t buy the most expensive ticket so I had 6 hours of waiting time in Brussels airport. The waiting time plus one of the planes could probably have been cut out, but all the waiting time also got me thinking. It made me think of what I could do to return most efficient to work tomorrow Tuesday.

The thinking also reminded me of a blog post back from 2009 from the former CEO of Just-Eat.dk, Morten Larsen. In the following I am highlighting the advises I am following, the original post in Danish from Morten is found here.

Email
One of the obvious “problems” in this digital age, is the amount of emails accumulating in the inbox after a long vacation. Some of these can be deleted right away after reading, some can be quickly answered and others need further followup. Spend a few hours deleting and replying the day before you return to work.

Finished tasks
Before I left for vacation, I queued jobs at the server as mentioned here to slowly run while I was gone. I have now checked up on the jobs, found one that did not finish properly which leads me directly to the next advice.

To-Do lists
To-Do lists is an amazing tool to structure the day. I use Nozbe as my task manager. Nozbe is very easy to use, sync easily with all your devices and it is possible to share projects among your co-workers. By following up in the finished tasks, I now know which job to re-run and which I can continue working on. These, plus tasks from the sorted emails, have now been added to my to-do list, so I am ready for workstart tomorrow.

After following the three advises, I now know where to start when I return to the office tomorrow so the day can be more efficient. Hopefully there will not be too many extra things popping up, but you never know.

Now my questions to you is:
What do you do in order to be most efficient at your first day after a vacation?
Do you have other recommendable methods or software that will ease returning to the office?

I’m looking forward to reading your answers and suggestions in the comment box below.

Bye Bye Australia – Hello Denmark

The time has come where I unfortunately have to leave Australia. It has been three amazing weeks with so many experiences and adventures. The weather has not always been good (raining as I am writing), but that would never stop me from returning to Australia. It is truly an amazing country full of amazing people.

My trip home will not be a short one, and especially not after Etihad Airways decided to update their systems. For that reason I now have to be in the airport 4 hours before departure instead of 2! When I spoke with Etihad costumer service (I called because I couldn’t check-in online and I really wanted a window seat) their reasoning for being there 4 hours before is that otherwise the plane will be late. They seriously told me that if I arrive only two hours before, my plane will not depart on time and that will be my fault but if I arrive 4 hours before everything will be fine.

My question to Etihad was then, if it is so important, why didn’t I receive an email, I only got to know because I called them, and there after read it at their website because they referred me to it. Secondly, will the airline company refund some of the expenses for being 4 hours in an airport in the morning (expensive breakfast)? It is not really the customers fault that the company is upgrading their system. I am not the only annoyed customer, which can be seen at their Twitter page.

So due to the system upgrade I have to leave from here at 7 in the morning, even though the plane is not leaving before 11.55. I will arrive in Copenhagen at Sunday 14.30, pretty tired after travelling almost 40 hours in total, the time difference shortens it to a little more than 24 hours, funny.

When I get back I will have a lot of writing to catch up on, all the things I have experienced, and then of course work on Tuesday. Which is another story. Talk to you soon !

Feeding Kangaroos in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Feeding Kangaroos in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Lizard posing in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Australia is unfortunately not only sunshine

Country is alright, location should be perfect with area names such as Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast etc, but unfortunately the season is the wrong to go on vacation in Australia.

Back home in Denmark friends and family are fighting with snow and minus degrees, here we fortunately don’t have that. Degrees are alright, steady around the 27-28 depending on where we are (Melbourne was a lot warmer with up to 35 degrees), but unfortunately the sun will this week be hiding behind some massive rain clouds.

Two days ago it was so bad that the weather service sent out an Extreme Weather Condition warning. Luckily this area was not hit so bad, except for whole day massive rain, where other areas at the Gold Coast were struck by flooding, you can see pictures from the area here. Pictures are also from the Tropical Cyclone Oswald who struck the coast one week before my arrival.

Beach Closed

The beach is closed due to massive waves constantly hitting the beach

Fortunately the building has a pool so it’s possible to sit and catch the 5 min of sun between each rain shower. Life is not that bad at all.

A place to hide between the rain showers when the beach is closed

A place to hide between the rain showers when the beach is closed

Later today the plan is to go to the Currunmbin wildlife sanctuary, I think I will bring a poncho or a big umbrella, just in case.

Burleigh Beach, NSW, Australia

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Time is relative – Vacation in Australia proves that

In 1916 Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity and I guess that almost everyone knows that Einstein proved that time is relative. Also, everyone has had the feeling before that time passes quickly (usually when something pleasant happens) and thus it is believed that the actual time passed seem shorter than it was. Opposite some events can make time pass very slowly. For me the latter is usually when I have to wait for something, so I am not really looking forward to have 6 hours of layover in Brussels at my way home from Australia.

If you want to know how you can make time pass really quickly, then book a plane to Australia as that is precisely what happened to me. I have now, unfortunately, already been here for more than two weeks and it feels like I just arrived some days ago. Then again, so much has happened during the last two weeks so it feels like I have been here longer. My days have been very intense, so much to see, so much to experience, and that is also the reason for the lack of posts, but I will try to change that now.

In the meantime I have posted some beautiful pictures (out of the many thousands I have taken) using Instagram as I can do that directly from my phone. For people having smartphones they can follow me by searching for my user ‘bpetersen79‘ or clicking the link: bpetersen79 (remember to follow me). People not having smartphones can see the pictures here: Web.stagram.com. Let me know what you think about the pictures and what you would like to see in the future.

Great Ocean Road

A drive in the forest along Great Ocean Road

Party conversation for bioinformaticians – a step-by-step guide

Yesterday I had a talk with my colleague Tejal. It has been some time since we last spoke, so we had to update each-other on all the ongoing projects we both have. At some point the conversation also came to Australia. About half an hour later I received a mail from Tejal with a relevant paper written by the Australian situated author Alicia Oshlack: “A 10-step guide to party conversation for bioinformaticians“.

Here is the motivation for the paper, very relevant for our work.

At some social event or other (including ones at my own research institute) I inevitably get asked what I do. Responding with ‘bioinformatics’ is generally met with a blank stare or, in some cases, a slight edge towards a nearby door.

 

Here I share a step-by-step guide that has helped me to convey some concept of my work to people not involved in the field, or even in science in general, when I am asked the question: ‘So, what do you do?’

Maybe I should memory this, if I feel my social skills will fail at some point!

Bye-bye Denmark – Hello Australia

This is my very first blog post, and basically I start by saying bye-bye Denmark instead of saying ‘Hello World’.

In less than 24 hours I will jump on a plane and point my nose in the direction of Australia. Last year I only had one week of vacation, so this will be my “summer” vacation 2012.

Australia

Having a break from work will be great, but then again I can’t help myself from thinking about the projects I have to put on hold while I am away. Fortunately I have amazing colleagues; Simon will make sure one of the big assemblies will keep running and our awesome system administrator, John, will make sure a list of my other assemblies will run one by one. One by one so I am not overloading the system while I am away (I don’t want to be that type of person, you know…), but also so I have something finished when I get back to work. You will hear more about both projects in a later post, they are both really exciting.

The flight to Australia will not be a short one. Shorter was available (in time), if I wanted to pay the money for it, but I would rather spend my money on amazing trips. I can always find a good book to read to kill time. In total it will take 30 hours and 10 minutes to reach Australia… Phewww…
The first flight is tomorrow at 18:30 from Copenhagen-> Düsseldorf -> Abu Dhabi, a stopover in Singapore and then the last flight to Brisbane.The way home will take even longer as that will be a 35 hour and 35 min journey, but with one less flight and more waiting time in airports.

The people who knows me very well can follow my travel on TripIt.com, which btw. is an amazing app for people who travel a lot. You have all your itineraries at one place, and they will even send you text-messages with changes in your flight, boarding calls, gate changes etc. I am paying for the Pro version and I have never regretted it, I can totally recommend it. Try it out, they have a free trial version, and let me know what you think!

The final destination for my journey is not Brisbane, but the city with the lovely name “Gold Coast”. I simply love the names around Gold Coast, there is ‘Surfers Paradise’ and ‘Mermaid Beach’. How lovely is that! I have never tried surfing before, but I am definitely up for the challenge.

Gold Coast, Australia

Gold Coast, Australia

One of the trips I will go to, is of course, a trip to The Great Barrier Reef. If you are curious, my good friend Sara Cuadros just showed me a link to a Google Virtual tour where you can see, what I am going to see. I can’t wait! Click here for the tour.

My suitcases are still unpacked, but I still have a lot of time tomorrow, and hopefully there will also be time for a few posts while I am enjoying the sunshine.

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