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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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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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Two major events on Saturday and three on Sunday make for a pretty full weekend. It started with visting [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce for another cheesequest session (Pont-l'Évêque was a personal favourite) followed by a chapter of Mice and Mystics, which we finished quickly and successfully through some particularly hardline decision making and some lucky cards that provides a delightful emergent narrative. Post-cheesequest we went out to The Astor to see the double of Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy; and ran into [livejournal.com profile] justadecoy, whom I hadn't seen for a couple of years. The latter film is, of course, charming and I've managed to see it three times now in recent months. The former I think will be lasting because in additional to some good character development it made excellent use of special effects and colours in a manner that was both artistic and clever in its simplicity.

Sunday started relatively early with a trip to the Unitarian Church, where Dr. Hans Baer was speaking on the recent US elections; it was entertaining enough even if I found myself mostly in disagreement with his strategic considerations, not to mention the only fleeting reference to religious content. Afterwards was a meeting of The Philosophy Forum, where Graeme Lindenmayer speaking on What is Life? What is a Life?, a primarily descriptive presentation but which drew light to some interesting edge cases where the binary between living and not-living becomes a little murky. Afterwards it was a journey to our Sunday session of GURPS Middle Earth which included revived discussion of the geopolitical situation and settlements, before narrowing down to the immediate scenario. Afterwards was a committee meeting for the RPG Review Cooperative which concentrated on the Papers & Paychecks Kickstarter, which remains frustratingly close to succeeding (go support this, now, please).
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Took the opportunity to see One More Time With Feeling, the latest Nick Cave movie based on the production of his latest album The Skeleton Tree. Overall it was an excellent piece of work, and I really enjoyed the screen time given to Warren Ellis and Suzy Cave. But as the movie wore on the grief that Nick and Suzy share with the death of their son, Arthur came out in a particularly raw fashion.

Afterwards attended [livejournal.com profile] usekh's birthday party, a most remarkable, clever, and stylish individual who has shown the he's prepared to give Thanatos the finger and then poke the fucker in the eye socket. Spent a good portion of the evening chatting with the aforementioned host, [livejournal.com profile] txxxpxx, [livejournal.com profile] strang_er, [livejournal.com profile] damien_wise, and [livejournal.com profile] patchworkkid, among several others. It was from the conversation with the latter two I now am now making use of a Bulletjournal, because obviously I'm not doing enough nor at optimal efficiency. Quickly diverging from the norm however, I'm using a digital text-file version of the journal and have changed some of the core signifiers. It seems to work very well so far.

The other Thanatos-themed event was the sad departure of Scamper rat last night. The middle-sized and aged rodent of our trio (Tramper, Scamper, and Rover), Scamper was always extremely shy, and suffered from particularly having ongoing cases of mycoplasma infection. Late, far too late in his short life, he decided that these humans weren't so bad after all and became a lot more friendly. In the past few days his breathing had become particularly laboured and despite an aggressive course of antibiotics, his lungs gave out on him. I do appreciate the company of my haustiere, but I must confess the 18-36 month life span of rattus norvegicus seems a little dispropotionate to their personality.
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Monday night was at The Astor Theatre to see the John Carpenter double, Escape from New York, and The Fog. The former I had not seen since it came out (1981) and the latter I had not seen at all. The films were pretty cheesy, but very good cheese at that. Quite glad that I decided to go - I also had the opportunity to introduce myself to the new theatre cat, Duke. I do like visiting the Astor with its beautiful deco features and propensity for classic and arthouse films, and its very inexpensive as well. Tempted to see their upcoming vampire double that's coming up.

On Tuesday went to the first meeting of the year of the University of Melbourne Secular Society and have followed up with a media release from the Victorian Secular Lobby on the rather silly idea that MPs should register their religious affiliation. The Lobby is planning on having its AGM at Parliament House in mid-April with Maree Edwards, the state member for Bendigo West to discuss the politics of the Bendigo Mosque.

Sunday was a game of the classic and original Cosmic Encounter from the 1970s; a very simple game to pick up but with some rather subtle strategies. Afterwards we did a playest of Nic Moll's (of Owlman Press new superhero game, Verge. It needs work, but has a good core feature of having the characters with a strong relationship with each other. In addition, my review of Libris Mortis has been republished on rpg.net.
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It was an extremely busy weekend, starting with a late Friday night session of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Patria Quinn and Nell Campbell (Magenta and Columbia) introducing the event. It was, as always, a raucous event of costume and audience participation. On Saturday ventured to deepest Dandenong to see [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce and [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and their stunning new home (Edwardian period, Victorian style) for another day of cheesequest (the white stilton with ginger and mango was brilliant) and games; Cthulhu 500 was a impressive surprise of two genres that one normally doesn't associate together. On Sunday attended the Unitarian bi-annual concert; among some various impressive musical talents (Marg C's flautist and soprano grand-daughters were particularly great!), I was assigned on the programme to encourage people to open their wallets for the Fred Hollow's Foundation. Although there was less than 100 people in attendance, over $1500 was raised. Afterwards Bill Hall from the Koroit Institute spoke at the Philosophy Forum on knowledge vs belief especially Popper's approach to scientific evidence.

RPG Review 20 has been released; new contributions from myself (which will be posted to RPG.net) include reviews of Monsters! Monsters!, the AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium, Hunter: The Reckoning, Anaxial's Roster, and Malleus Monstrorum. The next issue of said 'zine will look at the influence of computing on the RPG industry (including from MUDs to MMORPGs), design and with various support applications and so forth. In a very real sense it is looking at the future of tabletop roleplaying, which should have a few surprises at the very least. Other gaming in the past week (in addition to the aforementioned Cthulhu 500), included the beginning of another Eclipse Phase scenario run by Martin. By this stage of the development we're really beginning to get a much better sense of the various factional conflicts and are increasingly forced to make substantive choices of where we line up. On Sunday afternoon I ran a game of Twilight 2000, which witnessed a conclusive victory for the forces of the Free Republic of Warsaw over the Barony of Warsaw, which means there's a string of independent townships along the Visla River, with the superpowers on either side. Wonder how that will work out?

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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

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