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Apologies

.. both to my readers, and to those waiting for the latest (and late) book.

I’ve been so busy for the last three weeks that I’ve had virtually no time for any serious blogging, or even for answering existing comments. Apart from checking and returning the proofs for the book as fast as Apress sends them to me, I’ve also been busy travelling and doing “proper” work – and I now find that it’s been nearly three weeks since I last published anything

In the interim my most interesting trip has been to Tokyo, where I gave a couple of presentations at the Insight Out conference. As Debra Lilleyhas already commented, the conference was very well organised, the audience attentive, and the hospitality of our hosts was astounding. The English language presentations were subject to simultaneous translation into Japanese, and a fair proportion of the audience were wearing headphones so they could follow the translation. I’ve done the same type of thing with Italian and Spanish events, keeping an ear open for the whisper of the translation from the headphones of a member of the audience,  but, as one of the translators explained to me, not only does it usually take more syllables to say something in Japanese than it does in English but Japanese is a reflexive language so you can’t start translating until the speaker reaches the object of the verb. This makes it particularly important to speak slowly enough to allow the interpreter to keep up … and it’s surprisingly hard work listening to yourself to make sure you don’t speed up. (My admiration for people who do simultaneous translation is unbounded – and I fully appreciate the need for them to work in pairs and switch every 10 minutes.)

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible – starting with a catch-up on the outstanding comments; in the meantime here is a cartoon about String Theory that made me smile a little while ago.