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Monday, May 15th, 2017 10:25 pm
It was a pretty gaming intensive weekend; on Saturday I needed to get over three thousand words written for RPG Review 34, a special issue on game design, which has now been released - there was about 1,000 words on Friday and Sunday as well, as well as the layout. Later on session ran a game of Eclipse Phase which has arced up with as the Sentinels confront the neo-fascist Ultimates on an L5 Neptune trojan. It followed from an evening with [livejournal.com profile] funontheupfield at a local bar where we played Forbidden Island (cooperative game, easily adaptable for an environmental rather than fantasy theme) and Quizzle. Aproporiately, a new issue of the RPG Review Cooperative Newletter, Crux Australi has just been released.

We've just change our Internet Service Provider. After many years with Optus, there were a couple of events (technical primarily) that were making the relationship shaky, but the clincher was when they wouldn't support Firefox on Linux with the given reason being that only a few people use it this "old" operating system. Well, we've shifted to iiNET, and although there was a bit of a hiccup with the setup, they've done the right thing in terms of compensation etc. In other home life news finished our tax today for the last financial year, a weird timetabling that apparently is ATO approved. Their administrative procedures are a mystery to us mere mortals. Finally, just in case anyone thought I wasn't nerdy enough, I've been using this great Android app which effectively gives one a command-line interface for operating one's phone. Accessing applications with the autocomplete shortcuts and easy of file system navigation I find are its principal advantages.
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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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Saturday, December 24th, 2016 04:20 pm
Arrived in Perth for a flying festive season visit with [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya with Perth's temperatures soaring as is increasingly often the case to 42 degrees C. On arrival found out that there was a funeral service to attend for one Alf Graf, a hydralics engineer. I never knew him, but was a friend of [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya's family. One could not help but be impressed by the genuine sense of loss among those assembled. He was clearly a person of importance to his family and friends with almost three hundred in attendance with the obituaries mentioning in particular his good humour and generosity.

Yesterday was two big social events just in time for the summer solstice. Lunch was at Ruocco's Pizzeria E Ristorante in Fremantle with several lovely friends, including the ever-animated Grant Stone, Andrei Nikulinsky and [livejournal.com profile] stephen_dedman. Dinner, with about twice as many visitors, was at Amore Mio (FB) in Maylands with [livejournal.com profile] darklion, [personal profile] ariaflame, [livejournal.com profile] strangedave, and [livejournal.com profile] thefon in attendance among others. Both events were indeed notable for the fine food and great conversation over a range of topics.

Following morning we were at [livejournal.com profile] thefon's place trawling through the records of the Murdoch Alternative Reality Society, a club I formed in 1988. From what I can tell it operated until 2009, just making it into its 21st year but alas could not be revived from there. As well as the records there was also a substantial library, much of it science fiction and fantasy books which are not really worth shipping back to Melbourne. The roleplaying games however are, and a good portion of them will be merged into a semi-successor organisation, the RPG Review Cooperative. On that note, the next issue of RPG Review is going along very well, and as many would have already noticed, we easily made our Kickstarter for Papers & Paychecks. A very good way to end the year.
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Monday, December 12th, 2016 10:44 pm
It is true that I have several major interests in my life, external to hearth and mind. There is a professional dedication to provide researchers the skills to use free and open source computional tools. There is a political side dedicated to the practical implementation of personal liberty and social democracy, and the continuum that is between. There a long-standing interest in philosophy which, despite its innate propensity of some of its adherents to lead to unverifiable metaphysical presumptions and scholasticism, is at its heart the most important and most difficult field of inquiry. My other academic pursuits betray interests in organisational structure, strategy, and management, the effectis of normative systems on positive economics, and of course advanced adult and tertiary education. Aesthetically, I am known to have a some love of high art, yet also with deeply ingrained rocknerd sensibilities.

Then there's roleplaying games. My public vice whether it is from orcs, and hobbits, of faerie tales and dragons, or little green men from Mars, spaceships and wormholes, or even - to a lesser extent - superpowered individuals who wear their underwear on the outside. I know about 'Of Dice and Men', I have 'The Elfish Gene' (to use two pun-inspired books on the subject). But despite these popular culture affectations, where else do I find improvised theatre that places the characters in the heroic age of mythology, or the troubles of transhuman speculations. Where else do I find the exploration of models of reality with genre influences and debates? It is in roleplaying games, the undergound home theatre of the era, that is the only refuge for cerebral geekdom. After all there's not one, but two serious books entitled 'Philosophy and Dungeons & Dragons'. I feel it more important to do one on RuneQuest.

In any case this was a roleplaying weekend, starting no less with an interview with Dan Davenport from RPG.net on IRC over the upcoming Papers and Paychecks. Best line of endorsement that came from the interview: "I have to say, this game has some solid mechanics for a game based on a joke". After that I finished my interviews for the Alternity Player's Handbook and Gamemaster's Guide, and did a write-up of the last episode of our Eclipse Phase. The following day it was writing a review of the old TSR game Gangbusters (which took a lot less time), and putting it altogether to be released as RPG Review 32 which includes - no less - an interview with the author of BECMI D&D, Frank Mentzer. That afternoon was our session of Eclipe Phase using the new playtester rules which have some nice features (but that's all I can say at this stage, because I'm under a NDA). Of course, this wan't all I did over the weekend - but because things have been a bit RPG-heavy of late, I have felt the need to justify this idle pursuit within myslf.
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Friday, December 2nd, 2016 10:46 pm
The end of the year is approaching and I find myself dearly wishing there was about another month so I would have a chance of completing the somewhat optimistic set of tasks that I manage to set myself each year. Of course, in such circumstances where I think many are finding themselves winding down, my psychology directs me to redouble my efforts. This can lead to some interesting conflicts as all sorts of social events are called around this time. Most prominent this past week was an extended lunch (approximately six hours) at Rosetta hosted by some representatives of SanDisk and HGST for a few of us (which couldn't have been cheap), and the day prior the Puppet Camp, the highlight of which was spending the day with former co-worker, Dylan G. He wins the prize for worst pun of the day when I wryly mentioned it wasn't much of a camp. "Oh yes, it is. Everything is intense", he quipped. Somehow among all this I've managed to finish my part of a co-authored paper with the good folk at the University of Freiburg HPC centre, in preparation for the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt next year.

Another activity over the past day has been getting the final touches of RPG Review issue 32 together, now that Frank Menzter's interview has been received. I am hoping to have it released before the weekend is out. The issue is heavily biased towards the various games and material relevant to TSR, which really founded the RPG hobby in their own right. At the same time, we're now into the final three weeks of the Papers and Paychecks Kickstarter which I am still optimistic can make it over the line before the due date at Christmas evening. Currently playing Eclipse Phase with our usual international group which mostly plays via Google Hangouts; we've been making our way through a playtest of some new experimental rules for the game, which we I will also test out with our Sunday group as well. Speaking of which it's also been confirmed that the next issue of RPG Review will feature Rob Boyle, designer of Eclipse Phase as the main subject for our upcoming Transhumanist issue, which is due by the end of the year. Certainly Eclipse Phase has bee the most significant RPG I've been involved in for a couple of years now; the exploration of plausible and dangerous post-human future with genuinely alien contact is far superior to much of what passes as science fiction film.
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Friday, November 18th, 2016 11:58 pm
Interesting week so far from the RPG Review Cooperative perspective. On Wednesday finally received the great news that the old MARS library will be making its way to the Cooperative, which is a big bonus. That evening we went to our advertised movie night at The Astor, Shin Godzilla, the newest of the classic series. Included a lot of clever digs with a straight face at Japanese culture, raised issues Japanese political issues, of US-Japanese relations, environmental concerns, and even a somewhat plausible monster. The following night held another hilarious playtest session of Papers and Paychecks as the media team has to engage in some thoroughly loathsome projects for a loathsome boss. Tonight we're playing Eclipse Phase through our usual multinational group with the new playtest rules.

Have just finished, as promised in the last post, of my quantitative and qualitative review of the US election. The data simply does not lie, and it is actually good to see that analysts are coming to realise that the problem wasn't the identity-based swing states which everyone was paying attention to, but rather the Rust Belt wall which should have protected the Democratic nominee. Some of this will provide content to tomorrow's Isocracy Annual General Meeting which has Dr. Hans Baer, from the Development Studies Program, School of Social and Political Sciences, at the University of Melbourne talking on the possibility of union of socialist and environmentalist politics. Ultimately if these two approaches (along with traditional liberalism) are not reconciled then it is probably that conservative populism will continue its current streak of victories, despite the damaging effects.
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 07:19 pm
It's been a interesting past week for various gaming endeavours. The next issue of RPG Review is coming out soon, although it will be slightly delayed as our guest interview subject - Frank Mentzer - will be away for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile I've been working on Papers and Paychecks, along with several reviews, with a planned Kickstarter launch on October 24. In actual play the Eclipse Phase session last Sunday involved transporting alien eggs (what could go wrong?) to a transhuman habitation and a visit to the cold water world of Droplet. Tonight will be running Delta Green Mimesis, a home brew system that is a stripped down version of GURPS on a simulationist perspective and a built-up version of HeroQuest from a narrativist perspective.

Today was an gruelling day in training, running a course on parallel programming, covering issues in computer architecture, data parallelism using job submissions, library and package extensions in existing applications and programming languages, usage of OpenMP shared-memory programming, finally MPI distributed memory programming. Most of the people were already fairly experienced in the subject, so I hope it wasn't too simple for them. That will be the last training course for several weeks, as Europe beckons. After that courses are being planned for economics (primarily maths and stats), and engineering (numerical solvers and continuum mechanics) It was meant to be an introductory course. Afterwards was the HPC Users Forum where I gave a short presentation on various transition actions from the Edward to Spartan systems and updates on the latter. Not a huge attendance, but a worthwhile one.
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Sunday, August 28th, 2016 09:01 am
Another set of classes this week teaching Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing, to a class that was pretty well engaged. Have planned another set for the coming month with a new course in Parallel Computation and Programming. Europe plans almost encountered a conflict when I realised that I depart Melbourne at the same time that eResearch Australasia is being held. Fortunately, I can give my paper at that conference in the afternoon and still make it to the airport to leave in the evening. Nothing like be accidentally well-organised, haha. Oh, and in a great moment in science this week; malaria solved. As a disease that kill over four hundred thousand people per annum, this is big news.

Friday evening was a night on the town with in-laws Arnold and Cathy who are visiting from Perth. We took them to the little Breton crepiere, Breizoz, one of my favourite rustic restaurants which I don't visit enough. It did make me wonder about the status of the Breton language, and some concern that it hasn't (yet) have a course on Duolingo. Clearly we live in the age of the Celtic twilight. Afterwards made our way to Madame Brussels which is a fine roof-top bar with an interesting history (but oh, my eyes, that website!).

Yesterday was a visit to [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce for our regular cheesequest and boardgames (Theomachy, nice concept but dependent on initial hand). It was good afternoon visiting our human friends and their menagerie (cats and ferrets), however our trip was delayed by a police standoff in Fitzroy, which involved the Critical Incident Response Team - we walked past the place where it occurred a few minutes prior to the event, and thus our car was trapped behind the blue line. It must be said, the world is fortunate that petty criminals aren't that smart - the perp in question engaged in actions across the road from a police station.

The thirty-first issue of RPG Review has just been released with an "Old School Revolution" central topic. Our interview subject for this issue is Ken St. Andre. My own contributions include reviews of Castles and Crusades, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, and designer's notes for Papers and Paychecks, which is reaching the end of the first draft and, following mid-week drinks with fellow committee members Liz and Karl, now has an ISBN assigned to it. The drinks are significant as they were the last to be held at The Corkman, which has just been sold.
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Monday, July 18th, 2016 10:02 pm
Have just completed the first draft of a new UniMelb training course on shell scripting for HPC, which frankly is quite a lot to take in for a single day, so I'll need extensive notes as well. During the weekend also gave a presentation for Linux Users of Victoria, on GnuCOBOL: A Gnu Life for an Old Workhorse, with a command summary also available. I am tempted to delve even further into this strange archiac language, if only because of my perverse enjoyment of accounting and organisational logic ([livejournal.com profile] horngirl may have an interest as well).

In the aesthetic realm, did a review of 65daysofstatic's, to-be-released album for the game No Man's Sky, which has a number of great pieces and is of lasting quality overall. Also on Saturday visited Brendan E., where he treated us to the comedy-zombie film Cooties which was much better than the rating suggest, and the faux documentary, The Great Martian War. Pusing the aesthetic realm into storytelling, played Eclipse Phase on Friday night albeit with some technical issues, and tried to push some plot resolution in GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday.

For the RPG Review Cooperative, have contacted the BBC over our Watership Down poll, WotC over our 4th edition Open Game License proposal, have started submitting issues of the journal to the National Library of Australia, and have set up the drivethrurpg.com store for impending publications (no items yet, of course). The next issue of RPG Review, in the "Old School Revolution", is well underway with a special interview with Ken St. Andre.
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Friday, July 1st, 2016 11:46 pm
It's been quite a week; started off with a giving an introductory HPC class at the University of Melbourne with a particularly engaged an interested group of researchers on Monday, whom I found out later one was enthusiastically tweeting as the class went on. Thursday was the official launch of Spartan, the new HPC-Cloud hybrid, with over a hundred people in attendance and several speakers (including the Acting Vice-Chancellor). I gave a presentation on the architecture and technical side and have noted the widespread media coverage it has picked up, including sites like HPC Wire, Gizmodo, and Delimiter. Also, damn awesome luch afterwards. Next week I'm off to the Gold Coast for QuestNet.

Tomorrow is the Australian Federal election. Most opinion polls are predicting a close result on raw TPP votes, but with the Coalition leading in the key marginal electorates. I have giving a pessimistic reading of such analysis which also outlines what one can expect in the next three years (which has received some circulation on social media), with thesauce providing a item-by-item manifest of the atrocity exhibition that has made up this government. It all raises the question of deliberative and informed democracy, an issue which Brad Murray has explored with regards to Brexit.

It's also been a busy week in terms of gaming and the RPG Review Cooperative. My review of Vampire:The Masquerade was finally published on rpg.net, but on a much bigger scale, issue 30 of RPG Review has just been released, which includes an interview with Steve Kenson, reviews of several superhero RPGs, a superhero short story, a campaign world setting, organisations and characters, CRPG reviews, and two movie reviews. Appropriately Wednesday was a session of Godsend Agenda which dived right into the fictionalised version of the disasters confronting Marco Polo's return trip. Plus, the Cooperative has purchased ISBNs for member publications, thus completing every single objective that we set out to achieve at the start of the year - and we're only seven months in!
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Sunday, June 26th, 2016 09:58 am
As everyone knows, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU, albeit by a margin of 1.9%. The key demographic groups voting for 'Leave' came from of lower income, lower education, old age, and anti-immigration, with the latter providing probabily the strongest determinant. The result has serious repercussions; already the Scots, who overwhelmingly supported Remain, have called for a second independence vote, and in Northern Ireland which also voted to Remain there are calls for a reunification referendum. Nationalists on the continent, such as the Front national in France and astoundingly misnamed Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands have argued for Leave referenda in their own country, further wishing to promote the closing of the European mind. The economy, of course, has taken a battering with two trillion wiped off the global markets, leaving the UK staring down a recession.

In the distant British colony of Australia, we have an Federal election next week. Opinion polls (for what they're worth) suggest a close election, although it is the marginals that matter and Labor is still struggling with the Herculean task of gaining twenty one seats. The loathed Tony Abbott is making a tilt on a comeback based on Turnbull's woeful and dithering performance as Prime Minister. Labor has raised the spectre of a possible privitisation of Medicare first raised in February this year. The critical issue, as I've mentioned in previous posts, is if Labor can hammer home its economic credentials and point out that the Coalition has introduced the worst fall in living standards since records began. I honestly don't understand why Labor isn't hammering this point home.

Three main gaming sessions in the past week, as normal. Last Sunday was GURPS Middle Earth with our GM promising to provide a summary of what lose ends there are in the narrative. Wednesday night was a session of Laundry Files which involved a haunted house scenario in an inner urban environment. Friday night was Eclipse Phase Mars wrapping up a few lose ends from the "Chain Reaction" series. On the latter point I've written some rules modifications which I've circulated in the appropriate forum. Apropos the next issue of RPG Review is almost ready, just in the final editing phase now. Also the Cooperative has purchased a block of ten ISBNs, so publications will commence in the very near future. We have items such as Verge from Nic Moll, Gulliver's Trading Company from Karl Brown, and I have a secret project to be announced in the next issue of RPG Review.
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Monday, May 30th, 2016 09:58 am
Traditional RPGs can be a mentally intensive process. My long weekend of gaming started on Thursday night with a session of Laundry Files, followed by participation via Skype of Eclipse Phase on Friday night, followed by running a session of Eclipse Phase on Sunday afternoon. The first two sessions were more investigative, whereas the third was a crazed running battle with walking wounded throughout a starport zone on Europa (I've been making heavily user of Mephit James' material of that location. The PCs, being the subtle creatures that they are, have managed to the cause of an uprising and interstellar conflict between the authoritarian and conservative Jovian Republic and the vigorously independent centre-left Europans.

In addition to this, every spare minute was put in putting together the (very late) undead double issue of RPG Review 28 and 29. As is often the case about a quarter of the page count was from myself with some six articles. My personal favourite - again very time-consuming - was the Undead in Reality piece, where I looked at mythology (Osiris is just weird), religious practises (Buddhist self-mummification), dead dog revival, a dead mother as an incubator, mind-controlling wasps and flukes, Haitan zombification, and the strange legal fight of people in India who are living, but legally listed as dead. Whilst tiring, it's still a point of some success to the editor of what is now one of the world's longest running RPG journals, albeit slightly spoiled by a one author who is less than helpful or friendly. Whilst I am editor, they will not be published again in RPG Review.

The weekend also witnessed the Isocracy meeting with Bruce Poon, lead Senate candidate of the Animal Justice Party which was very illuminating. The Party, partially the result of a split from the Greens, shows significant political acumen in having broadly popular principles from which specific policies are developed, and playing hardball when it comes to political negotiations. From a description of their electoral strategy I think they have a good chance of winning a senate spot as well. There was some debate within the Isocracy Network over the issue of animal welfare and rights, I penned Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: A Philosophical Approach to a Political Issue, which asserted more an emphasis on the former, as rights imply responsibilities. Also related was the first meeting on Wednesday night at the Aldermann Hotel of a new Melbourne Jacobin Reading group, an initiative of Isocracy secretary, Dean Edwards. Good attendance, good location, and excellent discussion.
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Monday, May 9th, 2016 11:27 pm
Sunday's gaming session was GURPS Middle Earth; our GM has been running games around the Lake Town region using a European dark ages millieu, specifically the Baltic-Germanic regions. The scenarios have been taken from Harn, which actually has some of its own fascinating tie-ins with Middle-Earth - and which does quite well in portraying magic as an elaboration of reality rather than a replacement, not quite as subtle as magical realism, but along the same trajectory. Afterwards we had a brief meeting of the RPG Review Cooperative committee; not too much to report to be honest. With the exception of the library, which really has been quite a success with a couple of generous donations, the Coop had fallen into doing 'more of the same' in recent weeks, something which really must be amended if we're going to keep up some momentum. The absence of a couple of committee members on work-related activities hasn't helped.

Spent today off work, with a throat cold - didn't want to infect my workmates. Took it easy and have mostly recovered, so I should be fit for tomorrow. The most interesting event of the day was receiving correspondence from Exeter University's neuroscience research group concerning Aphantasia - I'm on the other end of the scale. When asked about a particular mundane subject my mental imagery is often more vivid than reality. It certainly explains my tastes in art (surrealism), writing and movies (magical realism) etc. On a philosophical level, I find that it is yet another nail in the coffin of those who argue that consciousness can be reduced to individual brains.
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Monday, April 25th, 2016 10:36 pm
The fourth issue of the RPG Review Cooperative newsletter, Crux Australi, was released on Saturday. It includes a couple of very notable developments, the first being the establishment of a members library which has already received a significant additional donations. The other item of note was receiving an article from Lewis Pulsipher. On Sunday played a session of GURPS Middle Earth; a good mystery, a dash of magical realism, and a quick action-conflict scene to conclude.

This weekend I also penned a review of the latest studio album from Shriekback, 'Without Real Strings or Fish'. They've had several "good-average" albums over the past five years or so, but this one really hits the mark with a combination of their ethereal sounds alternating with powerful 'big band' post-punk chorus and lyrical content based around evolution and moral reasoning. It's not quite up there with their best earlier material such as Tench or Oil and Gold, but it certainly in the same ball park.

With a wry sense of aesthetics, [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya and I held a cheesquest event with [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce and [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla on this publc holiday. Whilst a usual fare was on the table (Slovakian sheep's milk easter cheese, tilsit, gorgonzola, and vegan substitute), it was also necessary to have ANZAC biscuits with Turkish bread and hummus. In recognition of the Canadian forces (and our Canadian visitor), the biscuits were made with maple syrup rather than the traditional golden syrup. Afterwards we played Cards Against Humanity and watched a few episodes of the final season of Moral Orel which was a little disturbing.
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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 10:43 pm
Three new articles added this week RPG Review, including my own piece on The Undead in Eclipse Phase. Have also elaborated on some proposals for extending the Rez Points system in the Eclipse Phase Companion. The fourth RPG Review newsletter will be released this weekend as well. Also, ran another session of Fear Itself on Thursday, which went as well (but even stranger) than the last session with the recursive scenario of roleplaying characters in a LARP (not unlike the very cheesy, Knights of Badassdom).

On the way back from the game [livejournal.com profile] funontheupfield made the observation that my spending habits had not changed from the time that since I was an undergraduate, with the exception of a couple of relatively minor 'trophy items' (I'm a sucker for nice pens, mechanical watches, and really old books). It was something that I believed myself but it was good to hear it from others. However, because life provides a narrative in the past tense, I received a not insubstantial tax return from the ATO for several years of returns (I admit I had been treating them like a bank). It was quite a welcome discovery, although now I have the issue of working out what do with this additional cash.

Work was pretty turgid this week, pretty much spent the better part of the least three days getting a greater software stack optimised and installed on Spartan, so when users come on-board there's a better range of applications. We're using what is perhaps a misnomer, EasyBuild, which essentially is a collection of Python scripts for primarily source-code installations. I am not convinced yet that it serves any greater functionality to standard configuration scripts. Both of course come with the usual issues of dependencies, missing libraries, and so on.
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Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 11:58 am
Rocknerd has two reviews from me from this weekend; a long-overdue review of The Fall concert from last year, and more recent review of the Jesus and Mary Chain concert. Coming soon is a review of The Residents and the Mogwai compilation triple album, 'Central Belters'. Also took the opportunity today to alphabetically sort my CD and vinyl collection; around 1300 items in total. Whilst I possibly have too much music on large physical media, there is a lot of memories tied up in many of those items.

The petition mentioned in the last post has gone reasonably well, but is beginning to slow down, which means that it is time for stage two - the general media release and targetting publishers and writers. In other gaming activities played a GURPS/Call of Cthulhu crossover with Bunnies and Burrows on Sunday (being Easter and all), followed by attendance at the Conquest Convention on Monday for more Call of Cthulhu. I have penned two new articles for RPG Review journal this weekend as well, Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead, a supplement for fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons, and The Scythe of Thanatos, an artifact-level item for third edition.

Sunday was also the opportunity to attend the ever-delightful Astor Cinema again to see My Neighbor Totoro and Porco Rosso, which was also advertised as an RPG Review Cooperative event. On the latter, I have made a quick post concerning the politics on as an Isocracy Network blog. Quite a fascinating character is Hayao Miyazaki. I can certainly see how the politics of the Italian era captured his imagination and correlated with his Japanese outlook on similar issues.
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Saturday, March 19th, 2016 11:59 pm
Attended the LUV Beginners talk today at InfoExchange with Andrew Pam giving a good presentation on the history of version control with supplementary contributions by Mike Hewitt. Have volunteered myself to give a talk at the main meeting in a fortnight's time on UNUMS - how to do computation without error. Apropos, recently a small GPU cluster illustrated its power in cracking passwords. This has implications for some institutions, including a certain university I have taught at, which had a terrible password policy. I could not help but write a few words about it. Work this week included preparation for upcoming conferences (OpenStack Australia, QuestNet), the lecture I'm giving for Cluster and Cloud Computing, creating more space on the Edward cluster, and organising weekly research training sessions.

On Monday we went to visit [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce for the regular cheesequest and played Journey : Wrath of Demons, which went very well, although I do note that many of this big, expensive cooperative boardgames are very much in style of traditional battle scenes from traditional tabletop roleplaying games. Also enjoyed the company of their new household ferrets, very silly creatures. Friday night was another session of the Eclipse Phase Mars storyline where we smuggled weapon-grade uranium to the social democrats (I'm sure they'll use it responsibly). On other science fictions interests now have a copy of The Booger Peril courtesy of an invitation only book launch, and have also received responses and published an interview with John Snead, on of the most prolific writers in the RPG world.

Over the past week I've been thinking intensely on race conditions, but not in computer science. Rather, I've been thinking about them in terms of the sociology of crises, for example, the ability of disparate world political systems and interests to engage in effective unified action on global warming before a critical point is reached - in other words following the metrics of the Doomsday Clock, and noting that we're now in the same 'time' as we were globally as 1984.
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Saturday, February 27th, 2016 11:54 pm
Completed a review of Libris Mortis this morning which has also been sent to rpg.net. Next review will Open Graves for 4th Edition. Also this evening finished adding almost thirty GURPS books to the RPG Review store. On Monday members of the RPG Review Cooperative will be going to the Astor so see a couple of genre classics; Escape from New York and The Fog. The Cooperative goes will with a bit of an advertising splash at a gaming open day this weekend

Work continues with its usual array of interesting technical challenges, including fixing a quirky bug that was putting jobs into batchhold. Subequent days were spent on bring the new HPC/Cloud online to a minimal state for the course that starts next week, of which I'm apparently making a guest lecturer appearance. In the time that remained, worked on bringing some somewhat mis- and underconfigured system units online for the Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics. To finish with a bit of amusement; Microsoft has developed a Linux-based networking system for its cloud computing.

Dean Sayers has written an article on the impediments to peace on the Isocracy website, as the cessation of hostilities seems to be holding on day one. This lull in the fighting is solely to let humanitarian aid get through, and by no way suggests that the warring parties are anywhere near the negotiating table yet, let alone for the possibility of genuine political reform, and Kurdish self-determination. Nevertheless, for the people who have been living under seige, having a day without air strikes after years of bombing must be a very welcome relief.
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Saturday, January 30th, 2016 11:33 pm
Much of the past week at work has been spent dealing with amazing NFS cluster woes, the worst I have ever had to deal with. It took days to bring access to user data back (not helped by a public holiday in the middle of the week), and there is still an issue with job submissions. However I do think there is some light at the end of this rather dark tunnel. Appropriately attended Linux Users of Victoria's meeting on wireshark and tcpdump this afternoon, which had plenty of people in attendance. Finally, this evening went to visit some good ol' friends who were having printer networking problems which proved relatively easy to fix (which lead to concluding the night with a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity).

Apropos gaming have had a couple of storygame sessions in the past couple of nights with Cats Against Cthulhu on Thursday night and Eclipse Phase Mars on Friday night. Tomorrow will be GURPS Middle Earth. The RPG Review Cooperative has started its own github, where an old GM friend has added his "visual combat simulator" for Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 and Rolemaster. For an organisation that is a barely a month old, I am quite happy with how the RPG Review Cooperative is faring, although it must be said that it doing so from a well-established base. It seems beneficial for such community associations to operated with a well an established timetable for activity, to offer a number of services, to publicise, and with new activities every couple of days among the committee to retain momentum.
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Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 01:50 pm
For a long time I have disliked "Australia Day" and the 'celebration' of the the landing of British First Fleet in Port Jackson in 1788. At best it is nationalistic nonsense that is grossly insensitive to the past and continuing experience of the country's indigenous inhabitants. Stan Grant's short but brilliant speech is receiving some justified circulation that explains this from personal experience. There is a good petition by Avaaz to change the date (I think Mabo Day would be appropriate). For our own part, Ben Debney has an article on the Isocracy Network, On The Continuing Prevalence of Racism.

In the past several days I've had some enjoyable gaming experiences: last Thursday was a build-up session for our Laundry Files storygame, and on Sunday was the first session of a new Eclipse Phase story. Most importantly however was the first release of the RPG Review Cooperative's first newsletter. On Saturay we also had another awesome cheesequest day, a dual-birthday gathering for myself and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce where we played Anti-monopoly (amusingly subject to its own trademark law suit) and Set.

Work has been 'challenging' over the past few days, which is never an enjoyable thing to have to write in this profession. The old cluster, Edward, is really showing its age and limits. One of the storage arrays is currently out when the disk filled to a hundred percent over the weekend, causing NFS to fall over yet again. Five of the disks and a controller card are out over the two storage arrays which we've been screaming about, like foreever [insert Valley accent]. Fortunately I've managed to source replacement parts which we'll install tomorrow. Bringing up the downed array is a matter of some priority so user jobs don't die screaming in a heap.