A wireless microphone with a timer

I’ve written before about microphones and asking questions at conferences. Having watched another crazy person drone on and on with a long polemic and no question, this time on a wireless mic, I imagined a wireless microphone with a timer in it. The audio staff could start the timer, or the speaker could activate the microphone and start the timer. A few LED would show the time decreasing, and then music would rise up to end the question, like at the academy awards. (In a more extreme version, those who did not turn the mic back off would get a small electric shock which increased in voltage, making it harder and harder to hold the mic.)

However, you do want a way, if the question is really interesting, to let the person speak if the moderator wants them to. This would suggest the music should come from the sound board and be optional. The electroshocks, too.

Simple timer would work fine

I think forget the people who can't form a question less than 30 seconds long. In my experience the rambling, disassociated questions are almost as bad as the speech with token "do you agree" tacked on the end. Tell people they have 30 seconds, give them 40, then cut them off. After the first one people will get the idea, and it saves us all from "well, you know, I was kinda wondering if, um, it might be possible, or something, um, to, you know, um, could we maybe, I dunno, try to maybe, um, could you have a look at, well, do you think, um, I think they do it in Greenland, it seemed like it might work here, you know, um, so could you look at, um, doing, you know...". Sure, it's a genuine question, and given sufficient time the speaker might actually reveal it, but is it worth everyone's time? Especially since usually those questions reveal the pattern of the questioners thoughts, so the question often amounts to "do you think it can be done", or "have you heard about the Greenland version", both of which are often answered "yes".

Having the time be adjustable would be necessary, but the real issue is dealing with short answers. Viz, how does the microphone carrier reset the timer? Do you just say "20 seconds until it reactivates" and be done with it, thus wasting everyone's time when the answer is "yes"? Or does the mic need a proximity sensory for an RFID tag in a ring or something?

ERROR message!

When I hit submit I get this comment back (but my comment is posted):

A wireless microphone with a timer
user warning: Unknown column 'style' in 'field list' query: SELECT scid, filter, style, effect, action FROM spam_custom WHERE effect != 4 in /home/brad/www/drupal/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 172.
Submitted by brad on Wed, 2008-11-19 02:15.

Yes, I have seen some diagnostics like that

Though not on comments. When I move to drupal 6 which seems ready now, I hope to get past such issues.

Infrared UHF wireless microphone

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Best Regards,
Julian

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