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Visited [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce for our regular Cheesequest. Amazing fromage of the day was a herbed Corsican. Afterwards played a challenging scenario in Mice and Mystics. This evening did a sence write-up for my long-running HeroQuest Glorantha game. It was the conclusion of a bit of bad luck in gaming sessions this week with the regular Laundry Files game cancelled on Wednesday night, and Eclipse Phase on Friday night. Nevertheless, this has given me more opportunity to work on Papers & Paychecks with the effects of alcohol and drugs and distribution curves added to the repository.

Have finally decided to join the 21st century and bought a chunk of cloud storage for some offsite backups; specifically the Google offering, which integrates well with the rest of its services. Have also discovered and used RClone, which a rather genius piece of work - effectively rsync for various cloud storage vendors. Apropos, a made a talk proposal for OpenStack Australia Day which has been accepted.

Other major events in the past few days has been organising for the AGM of the Victorian Secular Lobby, writing up the major events of 14th and 15th weeks of Lord Dampnut, US President, and attending a great wine tasting at University House for Klein Constantia with a selection of South African and French Savoy wines. The Vin de Constance was pretty amazing; it was sweet liquid gold and with a price to match (on special for a mere $137 for 500ml) .
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The week started with ANZAC day, a national holiday in remembrance of lives lost in war, which war-mongers try to turn into a celebration of invasive military endeavours. A Muslim woman had the temerity to suggest that we shouldn't forget people dying in current wars or the refugees from such conflicts; the conservative media hounded her as a result. For our ANZAC day we had one of our regular cheesequests with [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce with a heft European range (and Breton cider). In the spirit of things, I'd made an ANZAC cookie in the shape of ANZAC cove and surrounds - [ profile] hathhalla commented that it was like one of her (primary school) student's science experiments until I started pointing out the topographical features.

Afterwards we had a game of D&D 4th edition, probably the edition that's closest to a board game, making use of the Charlemagne's Paladins supplement and Open Grave. It was the beginning of a gaming intensive week, with the following night spent playing Papers & Paychecks, and the night after that reading The Non-Designer's Design Book, an excellent summary publication on such matters ([personal profile] reddragdiva may also be interested in this). Today has included prepartion for a session of Eclipse Phase which I'll be running tomorrow, which also has a Kickstarter for a second edition (I did some playtesting for this).

But of course, that's not the only events of the week. Much of work has been battling a monster of a suite of programs, FENiCS, which has a monstrous toolchain of dependencies (probably close to a hundred, including those we've already done). Who knew that I'd ever need, for example binutils/2.25-GCC-4.9.2-binutils-2.25? It is enough to drive one to drink and fortunately University House came to my assistance with Dr. Geoff Scollary providing a class on the various types production and tasting of sparking wine (aka 'champagne', but we're not allowed to call it that anymore unless it's actually from Champagne). Based on blind testing apparently I'm fond of Domain Chandon Pinot Noir. Finally, on other matters that drives one to drink, earlier in the week completed a two-part special of The Shambling Mound, a fortnight's summary of the activities of the current US administration.
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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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The past weekend included two sessions of Eclipse Phase. Friday night's game was the first chapter of Dance with the Devil, which was basically information gathering and not terribly exciting. Sunday's session in contrast was action-packed from the very start involving releasing psychotics in an asylum, hijacking a train, and shooting their way out of a starport. The consistent exposure of the combat system does make me wonder whether it could not be streamlined in the dice-rolling and made more descriptive in its effects. Later this week I'll write up some modifications to the system and add them to the Eclipse Phase Companion, after consultation with the other players and reviews on the game's forum.

Appropriately this Saturday was a Linux Users of Victoria beginners meeting with an talk by [ profile] xanni_au on gaming with Linux, which will also provide the foundation for an article for RPG Review. An appropriate follow-up was at work today which was a day-long training session for some fifteen UniMelb postgraduates with NinjaDan providing the information for the NeCTAR cloud platform whilst I provided the information on the new Spartan HPC system.

On the aesthetic dimension, visited a local record store as part of Record Store Day, reverting to my adolescence by buying a few items from the early 80s. Later that evening caught up with Adrian A., who was visiting from the UK. A group of Perth expatriates made up the small crowd, visiting Penny Blue Bar, followed by the Nant Whiskey Bar next door, in Drivers Lane. It was a good night with a good collection of drinks. It must be said Melbourne does have a impressive collection of small bars in its various laneways and these were good choices.
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Following a very brief time at home boarded the great silver bird again for another journey, this time across The Ditch to Queenstown, New Zealand. The direct flight from Melbourne goes over some spectacular landscape over the Southern Alps, and as for Queenstown itself, well the tourist promotion shots are indeed accurate. [ profile] caseopaya has joined me on this journey, and we've helped ourselves to some fine drinks for the venture (my choice is Laphroaig whisky quarter cask, her's is Grey Goose cherry vodka).

We're housed in the rather comfortable Rydges Hotel with lakeside views from the eigth floor, the same place that the eResearchNZ conference is being held. Arriving the day before the conference started we talk the opportunity for a bit of a journey around town, and amuse ourselves by visiting their rather amusing haunted house experience (a sort of LARP, if you will).

As for day one of the conference itself, it's been an quite a good event with 170 registrations, an impressive increase over the years and certainly good on a per capita basis for NZ. Jane Yu from IBM's plenary covered what was probably three talks; after that attended the HPC applications workshop for the rest of the day - about a dozen short talks. Also very pleased to catch up with a large number of individuals whom I've encountered at previous conferences (eResearchNZ, Linux Conf AU, Multicore World).
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Organised Theo de Raadt to speak at VPAC at the conclusion of the OpenBSD hackathon. Apart from discussing the work that the various developers did at the network hackathon, there was also discussion on the OpenBSD approach ("we don't care what people use it for... but I hear some people are using OpenSSH"), various forks and divergence in the BSD code. It has also led me to spend some thinking about the difference between various copyleft licenses (of which GPL is the exemplar) and permissive licenses (such as the BSD license). The latter, I believe, can be appropriated by proprietary licenses, whereas the former ensure the same freedoms are preserved in derivative works.

Since the OpenBSD conf have taken the silver bird to Wellington, where I certainly hope to catch up with a number of people of that fair town. Purchased four bottles of Moet & Chandon, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a bottle of Talisker, two bottles of NZ vodka, a bottle of Disarro, a bottle of Chambord, and some Frangelico at New Zealand's very generous duty free. Staying at the former Waterloo Hotel, with its dilapidated deco style. Have made it to Linux Conf (where I am typing this) and where I'll be spending the following week. Interested in the game programming miniconf. Have discovered that KapCon is on as well next weekend, so will take the opportunity to go to that as well.


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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

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