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Monday, April 24th, 2017 09:33 pm
Gave introductory Linux and HPC day-courses at University of Melbourne last Thursday and Friday, followed by a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria the following day on Compiling from Source in Linux. The former courses had a particularly high-ratio of staff, rather than the usual collection of postgraduate researchers. Regardless the feedback was equally positive. The presentation to LUV was quite challenging, as I quickly realised however the single talk could easily be several, and as a result I touched upon several items (compilation options, makefiles, autotools and other autobuild systems, environment modules, etc). Nevertheless the post-presentation discussion was excellent; Rodney B., asked whether I had used material from other courses. When I revealed I had not he described the presentation as "embarrassingly good" - which I suppose is positive. At times like these I can have the conceit that I might actually be reasonably good at this HPC Training racket.

After LUV attended the monthly RPG Review movie night at The Astor. It was a monster-themed double with Kong: Skull Island, followed by the 1970 Hammer film, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth. The former was fairly good, a rather fun combination of King Kong and Apocalypse Now. The latter was absolutely terrible, with the one redeeming feature of the film being carried out in a constructed language. On related popular culture matters played GURPS Middle-Earth the following day and our party of do-gooders successfully defeated the evil sapient trees built by a mad druid. Apropos had some pretty regular sales from the RPG Review in the past couple of weeks, and am reminded that both the RPG Review journal is due, along with Papers & Paychecks.
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Thursday, April 20th, 2017 07:16 pm
My surprise at Tramper rat still being alive at our return to NZ proved to be short-lived. The following morning his body was still so prior to work I buried him in the backyard and planted forget-me-nots. At 33 months (82.5 rat years) Tramper was the last of his trio, the largest and oldest of the group. In his younger days he was certainly the leader and most forward of the pack, gregarious and gentle. As he aged, he slowly accumulated various health problems; a foot infection, a mammary tumour, and glaucoma. He lived through these with a high degree of adaptability. Whilst wary of anthropmorphising, I cannot help but think that he kept himself alive for a few extra days to ensure his farewells.

Thus ends some fifteen years of having rats as animal companions. The entry point was a few years prior whilst living with Glenn K., in Richmond where his rat Spit befriended me. Following my return from Timor-Leste I've lived with Harlequin and Montebanc, then Vagabond and Rogue, Ragamaffin and Scoundrel, Calamity, Mischief, and Trouble, Rascal, Nomad, and Riff-Raff, Tricky and Naughty (the mothers of P, P, & P), Lucky, Picador, Pierrot, and Prankster, and finally, Scamper, Rover, and Tramper - this is along with looking after Bambi and Suki for a neighbour.

For the uninitiated the rat may seem a strange choice of companion. They have bad press, as bearers of diseases (true), dirty (false), cunning (true), and selfish (false). For those in the know, they are intelligent, they are social, they have memory and reasoning and - from a combination of these factors - are surprisingly moral creatures, exhibiting empathy, guilt, and altruism. I have learned a great deal from them, and perhaps a little about myself as I have done my best to care for them. I hope I have contributed in some small amount to their comfort. I have not lost interest in the creatures but my own life-plans do not allow at this stage for their limited lifespans. So, in parting, I raise a salute to these heroic creatures.

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Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 11:29 pm
Firstly, I want to thank everyone on LJ, DW, G+, and FB who expressed their condolences with the passing of Rover the rat last week. It touched me deeply that so many of you, nearly all who have spent no time in his company, saw fit to respond to my little eulogy. I make apologies for not responding to all the wishes in person, as I have been away in New Zealand with limited Internet access - and the screen to my laptop has been damaged - and have only just returned tonight, to discover that the old, blind, and cancer-ridden Tramper rat is surprisingly still with us and have managed to eat all the food that had been left out for him.

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So that was a six-day holiday; it was a pretty busy affair with a lot packed in. My previous three trips to NZ have been largely work based so it was good to get around a bit more and finally see a part of the country that I hitherto had not been to. One nice discovery during the trip was learning that my application to attend the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt has been approved. That will be the next trip.
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Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 10:00 am
Rover the Rat unexpectedly died last night, almost certainly of a heart attack. He had been his usual very active self the previous day, and had just enjoyed a plate of food. However I was worried as he seemed a little tired when I put him to sleep last night. This morning he was but a dead rat, and joins the cadavers of many others that are in our small garden. Having reached the age of 29 months (72.5 in rat years), I really expected to be spending several more months in his company on the basis of his alertness and activity. But it is not to be.

From his troika, Rover was the youngest and smallest of the set and was originally quite shy, albeit full of a energy and a sense of adventure. He soon came to appreciate the company of the human members of the colony, encouraged by an extraordinary appetite that correlated with his energy. Never much of a lap rat (he was too active!) he lived a life of playful happiness and would delight getting himself lost in the foliage of our garden. I guess his sudden demise spares him of the slowness of age which I imagine would have been frustrating to him. Now there is only old Tramper, the eldest of the group and the last of the rodent colony. He certainly doesn't have much longer himself, and that will be the end of the rats.
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Monday, April 10th, 2017 11:26 pm
The weekend was a very festive and some ways exhausting affair. Friday night was [personal profile] caseopaya's official birthday night. I took her to The Trust which does fine Italian food at a good price in the excellent surroundings of the former Port Authority Building. Afterwards took her to the SpeakEasy HQ for a double vaudeville and burlesque show - which was combined entertainment, amusement, and a very friendly interactive style. One of the perfomers was kind enough to give a signed CD of her work, gratis. Our table came inclusive with a bottle of wine and the couple next to us decided they didn't like there's - and gave it to us. Let us just say that the birthday girl had a little too much requiring a two hour trip home in the middle of the night.

The following day was a visit to Dylan's birthday gathering through torturously slow traffic at a Korean restaurant which we stayed for a short period and had animated conversation with current and former workmates. Afterwards made our way to Louise and Benjamin's wedding at the Kensington Town Hall, which was a thoroughly enjoyable and simple affair, although I must confess the the poet's contribution, Love Comes Back seemed to include what is perhaps best described as "unusual" metaphors. Not knowing any of the the others there and still a little under the weather, spent nearly all of the ceremony in the company of Chiara, and Adrian.

Following day was a session of GURPS Middle Earth where the GM decided to throw every plant-based monstrosity at us from various AD&D supplements (appropriately, have just completed a review of The Shambling Mound's Eleventh Week), and quite sensibly skipped our usual Sunday dinner outing. On a similar note smashed out a 2500 word article on GURPS Krononauts campaign design for the next issue of RPG Review. Finally, tonight took four visiting in-law relatives out to Tam-Tam, followed by drinks at Trades Hall. Overall, it's been quite a festive past few days, and I don't mind a bit of that in my life. But now the nose is back at the grindstone - until Thursday's international trip.
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Friday, April 7th, 2017 11:35 am
Went to see Christof Koch speak last night at the Melbourne Neuroscience Seminar Series on Consciousness in Biological and Artificial Brains. It was good enough talk, concentrating in finding the physical location of the seat of consciousness (shades of Descartes), and not really moving into the second part. I cornered him after the presentation and suggested that perhaps it would be better to differentiate between consciousness, sapience, and sentience because his entire talk was about correlations with the first two, and the confusion between these was the equivalent of lay-person confusion between mass and weight, and with similar implications. His response was to hand-wave that this was a high-level concern (on the contrary) and besides, philosophers like Dennett and Chalmers also use it in an experential sense. But this sociological fact is part the research problem itself. The ambiguity over the term itself limits our capacity to investigate the problem clearly. It seems to me that only linguistic-pragmatic philosophers (such as Karl-Otto Apel) are addressing this matter with sufficient rigour.

On a related matter, have continued my work with the good folk at the University of Freiburg on cluster-cloud hybrid high-throughput systems. Initially we were looking at a short paper to be published in a relatively low-entry journal, and as part of those investigations the initial candidate turned out to be too low entry - I have discovered that approximately half of a recently published paper is completely plagairised. I have written to the journal editors about this unacceptable behaviour, however I suspect I will not receive a reply. Since then I've been in correspondence with László Babai about publication in Theory of Computing instead, which would be much better. Also attended a Linux Users of Victoria meeting on Tuesday night with two talks, one on SAGE-math and multithreading.

For the past several years I have been paid significant attention to the events in Syria, written the occasional article, and conducting two interviews. Recently I was inspired to give a substantial donation to Medecins San Frontiers following a hospital bombing. and of course in the past few days there has been a massive chemical gas attack, almost certainly carried out by the government. The Syrian government of course denies their responsibility, and the Russians will back their client state. I find myself in the troubling realisation that, when it comes to human rights and war crimes, that the fascist Baathist regime in Syria has reached the point where they are worse that the successors to Al-Qaeda. This obviously is not an assessment taken lightly. My longstanding order of preference in this multi-faceted conflict is being changed. Breaking News The US has just fired 60 tomahawk missiles at Shayrat Military Airport near Homs.
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Monday, April 3rd, 2017 09:26 pm
In the past few days wrote-up an lengthy Isocracy Newsletter (members only), and have just posted The Shambling Mound's Tenth Week. This Thursday is the University of Melbourne Secular Society AGM. In other such gatherings, a week ago I went to see Barry Jones talk at the Unitarians about changes in employment and populism. He's very knowledgeable, but his style (and this is evident in his books) tends to be bric-a-brac and the first topic wasn't addressed at all! Last Sunday at The Philosophy Forum, Rohan Macleod led the discussion on the nature of political conservatism; the material needed work but there was excellent discussion afterwards on the class nature of conservatism and the separation of socio- and economic- attitudes.

Big event of the weekend was [personal profile] caseopaya's birthday. We had a quiet gathering in each other's company watching cheesy vampire films from the sixties and seventies. The gifting consisted of tickets to a cabaret show at Speakeasy HQ in the coming week which has since been extended - with a courtesy call no less - to include the following burlesque show due to a misprint on the tickets. The weather has turned a little cooler, so I was able to engage in my modest culinary expertise to produce two candle-lit dinners with a reasonable coq au vin supplemented on the first night with a rather tasty German sparking white (infused with lime) and an Italian chianti on the second; so in effect that will make three birthday dinners.

Last journal entry expressed a tale of a wayward blue-tongued lizard which finally ventured out to catch some rays. We managed to coax it outside where it has found a home under the hot-water system and probably a food supply more appropriate than cat biscuits. Tramper the rat continues to soldier on, although he rather foolishly managed to catch a cold and had stopped eating. His teeth needed a good clip and over the past few days I've been force-feeding him critical care, along with a course of antibiotics. It seems to have had a positive effect with the aging rodent making effort to eat more normal food again as well. Still, it seems that my prior assessment that he will be around for a while longer was somewhat optimistic.
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Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 08:34 pm
It's been a tough week at work; not so much on matters of complexity, but rather on sheer volume. With last week's cluster and cloud computing, there has been in an influx of over two hundred master's level students to the HPC system and the inexperience of quite a few is evident. Such is the effects of an entire generation of computer users who have started with the GUI rather than the command-line. Apropos the planned session with the good folk at the University of Freiburg didn't get up for the International Supercomputing Conference. A German co-author responded pithily, You have to see that we are considered heretics. Well, it wouldn't be the first time, that's for sure. So instead we're looking at a publication in Advanced Computing. Given that most of the paper is already written, a draft can be submitted perhaps the end of next week.

Shortly after that [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya, [livejournal.com profile] funontheupfield, and I are heading to New Zealand. Apparently I can't get enough of the place. The latter has never been before so recommendations were put in place for a short trip; Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds, primarily Havelock and Collingwood with opportunities to take short hikes, go spelunking, horse riding, and to see the strange natural landscape that is Farewell Spit. Given that my past two trips to NZ have been almost entirely work-related, I'm rather looking forward to the opportunity to venture 'cross The Ditch entirely for pleasure. Hopefully I will be able to organise dinner in Wellington for the handful of people that I know there.

The native animal population at our home has had a recent increase with a clutch of friendly young magpies deciding that our home is worth a visit, primarily for cat biscuits. A few days later a blue tongue lizard decided to move in. We think it's still in the house somewhere. Our other animal companions however have not been particularly perturbed by our new visitors; apparently our home is an open-plan zoological garden. I must however express some concern with the health of Tramper the rat. Already close to three years old (about ninety in rat-years), he's doing it a bit tough. He's had a bumblefoot infection for a long tiome (which curiously, seems to be healing up), he has a large mammary tumour which is quite inoperable without risk to his life, and now he's has advanced glaucoma in one eye. Tramper now spends much of his time snoozing (even on the rat-scale of things), but also has a good appetite and enjoys scritch time. Despite his illnesses, I think he's going to be around for a few more months.
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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 11:35 pm
Gaming sessions have returned back to normal with the return of Andrew D., from his Malaysia and UK holiday. Sunday was the regular session of Eclipse Phase. As is often the case, the first session sets the scene and this time it included the hatching of an Iktomi egg and contact by The Factors in Uranus. Wednesday was a session of Laundry Files which continued the explosive problem of a person in China being a nexus point between this world and fire vampires. Apropos have still be working on Papers & Paychecks with positive responses to the draft, perhaps the best being from NinjaDan, "this is looking like a real RPG sourcebook". Well, yes, that's the plan of course.

In other news items, there have been several mainstream news articles advocating land tax, following investigation by the Parliamentary Budget Office, as the Australian property market is in a bubble, with the proposed replacement of stamp duty with a broad land tax a fundamental and sensible policy. In related news there has several new 'blog posts on the Isocracy Network site, as well as a new article by Joe Toscano, The Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse.

Finally, this afternoon gave a guest lecture at the University of Melbourne, for the course COMP90024 Cluster and Cloud Computing, on The Spartan HPC System at the University of Melbourne. Lectures like these are a tough gig; the four to six hour workshops and tutorials are at a slower pace with more direct involvement with the smaller number of participants. This is a much larger lecture, around two hundred postgraduate students, and with a lecture slot that lasts well over an hour there is a need to pack in as much information as possible. I am still not used to what I much presume is a millennial norm of applauding lecturers a the end of the class. This is normal now, right?
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Sunday, March 19th, 2017 12:02 am
After having added another six thousand words this week, I have released a very rough draft of Papers & Paychecks, and posted an update for the project. The book is now 18 days overdue, and whilst I know that Kickstarters do have an almost assumed lateness in them, my inner project manager is screaming at me about being on-time. Still, I have completed pretty much all the core components and what really needs to be done is equipment lists, sample NPCs etc. In addition this I have made a solid start on the next issue of RPG Review with several thousand words done there as well. Friday night played Eclipse Phase with our international group with Think Before Asking; a superb ending of dramatic action with all the sort of paranoia that environment engenders. Tonight took some time out to visit Brendan E., for our regular dose of good popular culture; this time it was several episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead : Season 2 (look at that, 100% on the Tomatometer).

Whilst these activities have pretty much taken all my evening time, the days has been equally busy. There has been some preparations for the annual assignment and HPC lecture for Cluster and Cloud Computing. In addition there is an HPC for Economists course that is being prepared, a new round of general HPC courses, and preparations for ISC Frankfurt. In addition to that there was a steady flurry of interesting software installs this week, including a new version of ORCA which does ab initio quantum chemistry (finally, new MPI bindings!), and the Biopython suite. There has also been reports for the technical working groups on the upcoming upgrades for research compute facilities at the University. All in all, it's been quite the week.
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Sunday, March 12th, 2017 12:06 pm
Friday night caught up with Peter C., at Sister Bella a typically Melbourne small bar hidden at the end of laneway. Peter lives in the Netherlands and I believe the last time we met was well over fifteen years ago (at the very least, it's not in my LJ and I'm sure I would have recorded the meeting). We know each other from the SF community in Perth from the early nineties and I was always impressed by his combination of moderate politics with a radical and enthusiastic imagination; we had a good chat about the Dutch Reformed Political Party and the Party for Freedom. Afterwards visited Brendan E., in the form of a belated birthday visit. Went to a local Mexican, Beach Burrito which provided some fine sangria and for pit entertainment has skate ring. Afterwards returned to initiate our knowledge of season 2 of Ash vs Evil Dead. Brendan is always a good one for justifiable cynicism and is superb at filtering for our popular culture tastes.

Semi-political meeting of the week was a visit to the University of Melbourne Secular Society with James Fodor speaking on 'Where Does Morality Come From?'; currently seeing if we get another similar presentation to The Philosophy Forum. There is a new article on the Isocracy website, Argumentum Ad Temperantiam on the notion that the middle ground in news is preferred. Continuing the series, I have written a summary of Trump's seventh week, and as news just in, a detailed review of the rather dramatic result in the Western Australian state election, as two of four 'blog posts.

Have been beavering away at Papers & Paychecks with plans for a draft release on Monday evening. Dan 'Smif' Smith has provided some excellent art pieces that can also come with the draft. Also making preparations for RPG Review Issue 34 which will have game design (systems, scenarios etc) as a main focus along with an interview with Ron Edwards, along with preparations for our annual Bunnies & Burrows game - this time planning to be held at the Conquest convention. Today I break the drought from actual play with a session of GURPS Middle Earth planned. To be honest, I can't even remember where we're up to - and our GM isn't famous for doing session write-ups. Still, all will be resolved I am sure.
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Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 09:42 pm
The weekend witnessed a trip out to the Knox festival, primarily to join a group of friends to see Polly Samuel who is counting down what is almost certainly the last weeks of her life. We took a long our copy of the bestselling Nobody Nowhere which we found at a book sale on the other end of the country. It is of course, an extremely honest and insightful autobiography, and Polly no doubt will have some great pride in the contribution she has made to the world.

The following day went to see Sixteen Legs at The Astor, introduced by patron Neil Gaiman and with said writer incorporating a dark fantasy story into this feature-length nature documentary on the Tasmanian Cave Spider. It was all fairly good, but to be honest it didn't justify a feature-length film and Neil Gaiman's "dark fantasy" wasn't nearly as strange and evocative as a lot fo his other works. I have the sneaking suspicion that the main reason the huge numbers of people turned up in the first place was to see him.

That day was also a meeting of The Philosophy Forum where I gave a presentation on The Philosophy of Quantum Physics, a rather conceptually difficult topic, often counter-intuitive, and often subject to speculations by people who clearly know nothing of the subject at all. Fortunately the well-attended meeting were people of sound and rational minds and there were was very good discussion on matters of quantum entanglement in particular.

It was not the only presentation of the past few days however; last night gave a talk at Linux Users of Victoria, giving a summary of Multicore World 2017, along with making some suggestions for improvement. The meeting also had two short talks, one by Russell Coker on Quilt, a patch management system, and Rodney Brown, on RISC V, a free and open source RISC architecture.
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Saturday, March 4th, 2017 07:14 pm
My last day in New Zealand was spent giving my farewells to the good folk at Nyriad and then travelling to Auckland to give a presentation at the Auckland University of Technology. Since then there has been little opportunity to engage in much else except for my usual work, although the visit to NZ did have immediate benefits with discussions at the University about exactly where to host a proposed new GPU expansion and the relative benefits of Infiniband versus 100GE with RDMA. Nevertheless today has been busy with a preparation for a presentation tomorrow to The Philosophy Forum on "The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics", and attending a festival tonight where we will catch up with Polly Samuel. Next Tuesday I will also be presenting to Linux Users of Victoria on Multicore World 2017.

Being away for a couple of weeks and with another regular GM overseas in has meant some significant gaming withdrawals. Last night played Eclipse Phase with the regular distributed crew across multiple states and countries (will we get [livejournal.com profile] patchworkkid to join us once he moves to Canada?). Still, I have some recent nerd purchases - the facsimile of Thorin's map I picked up in Hobbiton for [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya will go well when framed, plus a recent purchase of a stromatolite dice set satisfies my long-standing desire for a "gem set" of gaming dice, and an interest in fossils and bacteria. In addition there has been a fair bit of work on Papers and Paychecks following last week's update, with a recent acquisition of illustrations from Dan 'Smif' Smith, which are looking very good.
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Sunday, February 26th, 2017 06:32 pm
One of the most common errors in computer science is an off-by-one error, and I did just that on my journey from Wellington to Cambridge, having everything booked (flight, shuttle, departure) one day out-of-sync. All was resolved quite quickly, and I was absolutely astounded by the Nyrid staff who caught my email at 6am and managed to collect me at the Hamilton airport. Thus began the beginning of four days in the company of this extraordinay company led by Matthew Simmons and Alex St. John. In my considered option they are following very good start-up logic and are developing some rather impressive disruptive technologies, and I have found need to comment on length on both of these features. It is a constant and powerful working environment there, dedicated on their goal, and the mostly young staff are very sharp. It must be immediately noted that the company really looks after its staff, with two evenings in succession at The Good George, and a recruiting BBQ today which is all worthy of note.

I've been hosted at the remarkable Earthstead villa, which appropriately includes Ian McKellen's name (aka Gandalf) in the guestbook. Yesterday was a day off from my usual schedule and Nyriad took me and Andreas Wicenec to Hobbiton. It was, of course, a wonderful location and great to have the set kept in place and obviously enough I took a few photos. The Green Dragon Inn was a particularly nice touch. The tour, however, is guided and is all over within a couple of hours - we were fortunate to arrive early as the queues later on were quite substantial. I am somewhat conflicted between the obvious need to explain the filming and set and how the very same destroys the magic of the film, and downright mocking of the apparent need to slap a trademark on everything ("Hobbit Holes (TM)", really?). I couldn't help but be a little disappointed by the sheer indifference of the tour guide when I pointed out that Bilbo's door lacked Gandalf's rune.

Later in the afternoon wandered around the small town of Cambridge which continued its very English style (town name, nearby Hobbiton) by distracting me with a regional game of cricket. Seriously, I can imagine hobbits playing cricket. The local team was quite successful bowling out the opposition with a lead over one hundred runs. I must confess a conflicted relationship with sport. I love the pace and skill involved in Australian Rules Football, and enjoyed playing in my youth as a defensive half-back line player and occasional ruck-rover. With cricket I enjoy the narrative, the gradual unfolding over summer's day to five. It was another game of my youth, and played the role of an unorthodox opening bowler who would bowl spin as well as the typical pace (opening batsmen were often very confused as a result). In both cases however, as much as I could enjoy watching and playing such sports it was aggressive competitiveness and boorishness common in both players and especially fans that put me off. I suspect I am not alone in this assessment.
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Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 10:53 pm
In the remaining two days Dunedin found the time to visit the art gallery. I usually pooh-pooh it because it has an unhealthy obsession with abstract art (don't they know it was a CIA plot?) and pointless installation pieces, both of which I particularly loathe. This time however they had an exhibition by a local genius Kushana Bush who uses modern subject matter in a Indo-Persian medieval style. Also managed to catch a good portion what appeared to be a Scottish music festival. Slept quite poorly that night courtesy of freshman students discovering the joys of orientation week. Get off my lawn.

Arriving in Wellington I stayed in Mount Victoria, very close to a famous scene from the Lord of the Rings. Not that I managed to see much of Wellington, except for the harbourside and Shed 6 where Multicore World was held. But my goodness, what a conference it is - small (around seventy people), but three days of a packed agenda with some of the best IT minds in the world, including John Gustafson, Tony Hey, Michelle Simmons, [livejournal.com profile] paulmck and many more. I think my own paper went reasonably well, but certainly there were many others that were right on the pointy end of core issues in computer science. Plus there was a couple of politicians who dropped in to visit, including Clare Curran who is something of a regular. After the three days of conferencing managed to get to have dinner with [livejournal.com profile] mundens and Joe G., making it my only non-conference/work social activity since arriving. Tomorrow morning, it's off to Cambridge to visit the good people at Nyriad.
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Saturday, February 18th, 2017 12:00 pm
An arrival to the South Island was met by fires in Christchurch. As if that poor city has not suffered enough from the terrible earthquakes of 2011 which still scar the city. The famed central Cathedral is now but a shell of what it once was, and like all great ruins is gradually being taken by nature. The official part of my visit was to the University HPC team who have shfted most of their facilities to their national infrastructure. Still, I managed to have enough spare time to vist the impressive Canterbury Museaum and take a walk around the botanical gardens before spending a night in a former prison cell, which is certainly an imaginative use of such facilities.

The following morning caught an early flight to Dunedin and chatted with a final year engineering student who had also apparently had been on the flight with me to Christchurch. Her home was Dunedin and her trip to Melbourne was her first overseas jaunt. Arrival at Dunedin was faced with the announcement that their famous chocolate factory, would be closing down. For many this is heartbreaking; it is one of Dunedin's prize businesses, even the home of Dunedin's first computer. For the three hundred and fifty workers there it is absolutely devastating; and capital does what it always does, moving to the cheapest location. For advanced economies, I often point to the example of Germany who still have a powerful manufacturing industry.

My first day was spent with David Eyers and Jim Cheetham who cover HPC and security respectively, and their insights on such subjects will be taken home and again, as is my want, visited the Otago Museum. I've also been contacting many people I know in NZ about whether they would be interested in taking the recently retired Avoca system across The Ditch. I rather like the idea of NZ having a Top500 system on its shores. The following day was free time and the opportunity was taken to visit our South Pacific base are looking after it. The musicians who live there are doing a great job and apparently a new LP, "Lodge Music" will be released in the near future. I'm quite looking forward to it.
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Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 11:16 pm
What did you do on Valentine's Day? Well, I left my partner at the airport (after a hellishly long drive due to substantial roadworks on the freeway). Poor [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya is going to be by herself for a fortnight, whilst I spend two weeks in New Zealand, starting a Christchurch for a day, then Dunedin for three, then Wellingon for four, then Cambridge for four (yes, I will visit Hobbiton), then finally Auckland, and then back homewards bound. It's a rather hectic tour and almost entirely consisting of a conference and research-related visits. Yesterday finished the talk that I'm giving at Multicore World, so that's certainly one thng I don't have to worry about. There's even a possibility I might even be able to give away one of the world's most powerful computers. Also had a great lunch with several members of the University Sustainability team with a couple of members of Research Computing; there was no official collaboration going on, entirely social. We just happen to work in the same building and I have a couple of good friends in the former group.

Last night was the final of three sessions of Tarkovsky films at the Astor, the semi-authbiographical "The Mirror" and the WWII story "Ivan's Childhood". The former was beautiful and strange with discontinuities and more magical realism than you could poke a wand at. The latter was about as bleak as you could imagine; a vengeful twelve-year old who acts as reconnaissance in the swamps of the eastern front. Whilst on the topic of things magical, realistic, and bleak, I've been working on the last pieces of a late issue of RPG Review, particularly a review of GURPS Transhumanism, GURPS Reign of Steel, and Mindjammer, all of which should be made public in the next few days. In an interesting gaming session on Sunday we finished another murder-mystery episode of GURPS Middle Earth (there's an awful lot of that in Michael's games). Swinging back to the aforementioned topic, I'm hoping to pick up the Stalker RPG, based on the Tarkovsky film. More than anything else, Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker seem both very useful sources for truly alien minds, and perhaps appropriate for Eclipse Phase
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Saturday, February 11th, 2017 11:24 pm
Working on the transhumanist issue of RPG Review Issue 33 this week, having received (a little late) the interview with Rob Boyle. Reviews for that issue are also gradually making their way on rpg.net, with Eclipse Phase - Gatecrashing, receiving a strong recommendation. The week also witnessed a session of Papers & Paychecks which thematically took aspects of the classic The Keep on the Borderlands; it worked very well. Friday night managed to get some Eclipse Phase play in, a variation of Think Before Asking. Today was another Cheesequest day with [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce where - apart from making our way through several varieties of said food - we also made our way through another chapter of Mice and Mystics.

The Isocracy Network continues at pace with a meeting on Friday night on a 2019 Labor-Green Alliance. Of course, a week is a long time in politics, and the departure of the ultra-conservative Cory Berndai from the Liberal Party does give the possibility of greater control by more liberal elements; the possibility of even a Grand Coalition was raised. There has been four 'blog posts on the Isocracy Network this week, including Actually, Nazi's Are Still Bad, by [personal profile] reddragdiva, Tribune of the Plebs by [personal profile] catsidhe, and my own The Shambling Mound's Third Week.

This coming week I leave for New Zealand for a fortnight, which will include visits to some computational centres in Canterbury University in Christchurch, Otago University in Dunedin, MC-ing and presenting at Multicore World (that's quite some speaker's list, then to Cambridge for Nyriad and finally the Auckland University of Technology. I must say I'm rather looking forward to the visit, as it has been far too long since I've had the opportunity to drop into this rather favoured corner of the world. "Home is where the heart is", and mine is very much in the deep south of Aotearoa.
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Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 11:42 pm
Dropped in to the Unitarians on Sunday to hear Paul Dahan give his presentation on Land Price a Cause of Poverty and Source of Unearned Income. It was a good topic, and Paul does get his points in a storyteller's style. Rick B., was meant to be taking the service, but his train of thought was a little askew, so I took the opportunity to task if he wanted me to take over. It was a fairly seemless process. Afterwards Rohan McL. presented to The Philosophy Forum on Ontology and Violence, also held at the Unitarians..

Afterwards that was another session of Eclipse Phase, as the Sentinels finished off their Vurt-inspired hallucinatory scenario (part one, The Vurt in the Mind's Eye, part two, Of Fictions Imitating Reality). In a very closely related science fiction trajectory went to the Astor the following night with [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya, [livejournal.com profile] funontheupfield and Maria to watch the Tarkovsky psychodramatic film, Stalker. I appreciate the rumours that this is where the KGB poisoned him, but they seemed to do well enough in finding the most polluted place on earth to do the set.

Other major event of the past days was a presentation I gave just a few hours ago at Linux Users of Victoria, on Open Stack and the Barcelona Summit. I tried to give a conceptual overview of cloud technology in general, and OpenStack in particular with summary detail of the core and optional services, as well as the governance process, the techical changes in the Newton release, and the future of OpenStack's development. The well-attended LUV meeting also was addressed by Jacinta R., who spoke on various types of algorithms including some very recent developments by László Babai on Graph Isomorphism.
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Saturday, February 4th, 2017 11:55 am
Recently a meeting with an early career person earlier this week on their future career in IT - and it became a 'blog post on careers and purpose in its own right. For my own part going to IT was a career change some fifteen years ago from politics, and with a short transition period. As evident, it seems that one doesn't really leave a subject they are passionate about - life just gets more complex. Continuing the passion and profession synthesis, next Tuesday I'll be speaking at Linux Users of Victoria on OpenStack and the Barcelona Open Stack Summit. Following a similar theme have also made a good start on my talk for Multicore World on HPC/cloud hybrids. Slight hiccup of the week; whilst turning off the compute nodes for Edward a tech pulled the cable for the head node as well, just after a "please move your data" email went out - oops.

There's nothing like the election of a disruptive and destructive leader to get people motivated in politics. There's been multiple 'blog posts relating to Lord Dampnut in the past week on the Isocracy Network, including my own summary of his activities, The Shambling Mound's Second Week. Part of this weekend will be spent preparing material for the Isocracy Labor-Green Alliance strategy meeting (FB) next Friday. Whilst not usually a political organisation, the RPG Review Cooperative has agreed to respond to PETA's insane complaint over Warhammer 40K characters wearing fur.

Having completed the skill trees on Duolingo in the past year for Esperanto, French, German, and Spanish, I have found the daily challenge is keeping them all lessons at "gold" status. Most recently, whilst keeping such a level, I've decided to take more "offline" lessons on those languages via texbook learning to give a more conversational grasp of the languages, something with Duolingo is not good at. Nevertheless will also continue the extensive learning via that medium of Russian, and Mandarin on Memrise. The new month also reminds me that it is time re-establish my interests in the "Scandinavian languages", partially in preparation for ISC and subsequent journeys afterwards, but also to extend my grasp of Germanic linguistics.