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As per the previous post, on Saturday gave a presentation to Linux Users of Victoria on An Overview of SSH. Most SSH-users, like myself, are probably used to using SSH as a tool. Once you start digging deeper you discover a whole new world of various fascinating tricks, some of which I explored. I think it went pretty well although it was somewhat longer than a number of my other presentations. As part of continuing development of the curriculum that I run at UniMelb, next week I will be at the National Compute Infrastructure centre in Canberra, going over their spring training session. At the same time, and for the same reason, I have started the PRACE/University of Edinburgh online HPC MOOC.

A couple of days this week has been spent with medical matters for Rick. A had a meeting with the social worker at St Georges. Even as a person now with memory impairment, I certainly got the impression that he's going a bit stir-crazy. The following day went to the Uniting Care Carnworth Centre for a tour, which is nearby and includes a special ward for the memory impaired. My application to become financial power of attorney has been submitted to VCAT, and I'll be visiting his flat tomorrow to see if I can discover any paperwork which may lend some knowledge to his financial state.

On lighter matters, on Sunday played a new scenario and playtested new rules for the rather silly 1980s RPG, Hunter Planet, using a scenario almost entirely based (but from the alien's perspective) of Bad Taste, which is one of my favourite splatterpunk films of all time. I have also spent a fair bit of time working on a release of RPG Review (increasingly late), as well as the Monsters section for Papers & Paychecks (also late). As continuing evidence that truth is stranger than fiction, a new source item has just been provided, courtesy of a Reddit thread on the most ridiculous workplace rules. In a civilised country, most of these would be illegal.
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It's been a curious past few days; I spent most of Saturday working on the course for the researchers at Orygen Youth Mental Health which I presented on Monday. It went extremely well; I provided an overview of high performance compute clusters, environment modules and job submission using their preferred applications (MRtrix, Matlab, Octave, R, and especially FSL and Freesurfer. They were a large and very switched on group, and it brought me great pleasure when I received some rather positive responses in person and in email.

On Sunday visited the Unitarians to hear a presentation by the president of Dying With Dignity to speak on the upcoming legistlation such matters. Last year to the state government committee I contributed two submissions from different organisations on the matter, and legislation is expected soon. In a less positive manner, an old friend of mine has just found his way into hospital and I suspect he's in the position that he might not be getting better. Three years ago he appointed me enduring power of medical attorney. To top it all off, [ profile] caseopaya's mother has found herself in hospital as a complication arising from her continuing illness.

It surprises me that there are those who begrudge public revenue raising and expenditure on health, as if the wealthy have more of a right to live than the poor. Even using the criteria of the 'dismal science', economics, it is obvious that having people alive and well is not just a private benefit to the person in question, it is also a public benefit. The is equivalent matter here with education as well, and likewise the private-public benefit is a continuum which includes current and future productivity of the person in question. All of this, of course, on top of matter of being in a society that cares for its less fortunate.
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Last week's presentation to the OpenStack Australia Day on HPC and Cloud hybrids was reported on in ITNews the following day. The day after that I repeated the presentation to a Telstra technical group. The following two days was teaching my usual courses, Introduction to HPC with Linux and Shell Scripting and HPC. These courses fill up amazingly quickly and the waiting list is now over 40 (class sizes are around 15). A practical example from the courses came the following day as we're working with a weird Gaussian convergence problem. The software comes with a suite of some 1044 tests, all of which can be launching them with a short script with a heredoc.

Out-of-hours had a great experience on Tuesday night visiting the Astor with Pete T., for a screening of the classic Australian low-budget dystopia that started an epic series, Mad Max. The evening was also the launch of Luke Buckmaster's new book on the making of the film, Miller and Max. A good number of the original crew and and bit-piece actors were also present in conversation and they had some very colourful stories to say about the production. Pete and I spent a good period of time in conversation with the crew who had a few classic items from the set, including Toecutter's bike helmet.

Other major events of the week including James Fodor presenting at The Philosophy Forum on Where Does Morality Come From?, which provided a bit of a topology of the landscape. There were two major gaming sessions this week, one for GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday and the last session of Laundry Files Australia on Wednesday night. Finally, University House hosted a UK Election event this afternoon, with lots of traditional British fare. The results, much discussed, are well known with the Conservatives probably just able to form government after having their 20 point lead reduced to 2.5 in the course of the campaign. It is almost certain that Jeremy Corbyn will be the next Prime Minister of the UK.
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It's been quite a productive week (yes, this is coming from me). On Saturday was the Linux Users of Victoria beginners meeting concentrating on website development for the organisation, followed by the Isocracy Annual General meeting with Hans Baer speaking on democratic eco-socialism. We had to shift the AGM to the restaurant across the road as the New International Bookshop had forgotten about our booking. They're a bit genuinely embarrassed about it (which they should be) and are making appropriate amends. Tonight will be visiting prolific and sardonic political blogger, Richard O'Brien, who has recently announced his anti-One Nation Senate campaign. Also on the political agenda is the next meeting of the Victorian Secular Lobby, which will feature association secretary, [ profile] saithkar, speaking on Section 116 of the Australian Constitution (along with a general policy discussion).

Work-wise Monday and Wednesday were almost entirely taken up conducting training courses; Edward to Spartan Transition and Advanced Linux and Scripting respectively, both of which went very well as reflected by the feedback. On Monday also submitted an abstract for THETA 2017 concentrating equally on the design orientation and teaching of HPC for Spartan. Part of Friday was taking up co-authoring a paper with the good folk from the University of Freiburg for the International Supercomputing Conference. The rest of the day was negotiating user requirements for some large bioinformatics programmes (including Steminformatics and physicists (specificaly, the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics). Also discovered this week that a book which I contributed to has just been released: The Crossroads of Cloud and HPC.

There's been many activities on the gaming front as well; with a session of GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday, and Laundry Files Australia on Wednesday. A big promotional push has been been initiated for the Papers & Paychecks Kickstarter - we need roughly a $100 per day for the next month to make the target and have been pushing out the personal emails requests quite heavily. In addition, the MARS library has been moved to a members house leaving us with the problem of how to shift it to Melbourne. It's a lot bigger than I remember it. In a related matter to genre-fiction last night we went out with [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce to see Hentai Kamen 2. The film suffers significantly in narrative development (something that the original did well) and with incomplete character development, making is sequence of scenes which are individually amusing; the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
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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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It has been another secular heavy-week. On Tuesday attended the University of Melbourne Secular Society meeting with club president and physicist James Fodor giving a presentation on contempory theories on cosmology and how religious fundamentalists have reacted to this subject. Also present, unexpectedly, was Colin Macleod, whom I recall from more than fifteen years ago as author of Patrol in the Dreamtime. That evening the Victorian Secular Lobby met with Harriet Singh, MLC at Parliament House to discuss the future of the Safe Schools Programme, and especially attempts to overturn it by religious conservatives. Tonight the Isocracy Network met at Trades Hall with Anthony Wallace of Equal Love (they should fix that website), the national campaign organisation for marriage equality. The proposed plebiscite now looks dead in the water and soon it will be time to lobby politicians for a conscience vote.

This week witnessed the final transfer of data and restarting of the queue of the Edward HPC system, which was a very big deal. It also saw another class, a well-attended Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting Course conducted by yours truly. Feedback was again extremely positive, and this coming week will see the first course in Parallel Programming, with courses for fluid dynamics and economics for HPC being planned (two courses, obviously) following requests by appropriate groups of researchers. I am reminded that I should also consider adding some of the material in these courses to Udemy or some other equivalent MOOC. This week also witnessed the submission of an abstract ("Hekatonkheires is Spartan", another Hellenic mythological pun) for the Australian Symposium on Parallel and Distributed Computing. Finally, today was Software Freedom Day with Melbourne people meeting at The Electron Workshop, which was followed by a committee meeting of Linux Users of Victoria. The AGM will be the next main meeting, with a subsequent meeting being planned for disincorporation and the establishment of the group as a subcommittee of Linux Australia.

On a higher education related event, attended the Sir Robert Menzies Oration and Conferring Ceremony at the University on Wednesday evening, which also included awarding of some cited doctorates, of which one name whom recognised from classes I've given. The event was full of pomp and circumstance, and thus it was appropriate that they had a life peer, Baroness Amos, giving the oration. It was full of well-meaning broad platitudes, as such speeches are, on the topic of the limits of free speech within the university context. I have little doubt of the baronesses commitment to raising the standard of education for the socially disadvantaged, both in developed and developing countries, but also note a level of political correctness (i.e., remarks made for the purpose of political expedience and loyalty), such as her support for the invasion of Iraq. Which of course, ironically ties into the subject matter of her very own speech, albeit in an indirect manner. Of course, direct or indirect, the effect of such censorship is still the same - the closing of the mind, the silencing of voices.
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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 [ profile] hathhalla and [ 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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Wednesday was a training day for Edward to Spartan transition workshop, which went very smoothly and also had a visiting sysadmin of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (who, in his evening hours, was a lead Pirate Party Senate candidate in the state). Thursday was mostly spent at an Amazon scientific computing immersion day which regrettably contained too much marketing material, not enough compute time. It can be quite telling when a course is not designed by educators. Other major work-related events was the installation of a metric tonne of software - an interesting feature of EasyBuild - as more dependencies are installed, installation processes become easier.

Only one major gaming event this week, being GURPS Middle Earth last Sunday. In lieu of our regular game members of our mid-week group visited the Melbourne Swordplay Guild on invitation from [ profile] kits_the_dm, to engage in some backsword immersion in preparation for playing some Backswords and Bucklers. Content for issue 31 of RPG Review has been positively powering along and it should be released this weekend.

As mentioned in passing, [ profile] caseopaya and I are visiting Europe in two months. At least for one of us it's a working trip however. I currently have plans to visit the The Goethe Center for Scientific Computing, then the High Performance Computing Center of Stuttgart, then to the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, then on to CERN, before reaching Barcelona for the OpenStack Summit, and visiting the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre. It is just as well I have concentrated on German, French, and Spanish in Duolingo in recent weeks. Yes, it is fair to say that there is a degree of excitement for this planned trip.
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Anne Kay, whom I had known for many years through the Unitarian Church, died last Tuesday having turned 93 that day. An independent thinker, a genuine Unitarian, and a person with a subtle sense of humour, she had been well for a number of months, so I can say it was a surprise. What was surprising was her express wish that I conduct the funeral service for her; which will be held this upcoming Tuesday 26th of July at 2pm at the Unitarian Church. I can presume that work is going to give me the afternoon off.

Ran another Introduction to High Performance Computing session on Wednesday which was well received. Actually, I must confess something, which has me a little confused if pleasantly so - is it normal these days for people to be applauded after giving workshops and lectures? I understand it as the norm in a speech and such like, but over the past two years almost every training class I've given has ended in applause. I'm certainly not objecting, but I do wonder if there's been a recent cultural shift that I am unaware of.

Two gaming sessions this week, on Thursday and Friday nights respectively. Thursday night was a session of Laundry with implications that supernatural activity is reaching a critical level and the agency is preparing to become the emergency government, "just in case". Friday night went to Gatekeeper Games for their "dice and drinks" evening, where Karl B., was running a playtest of the upcoming John Carter RPG, which seems to fit well with the genre so far. Next issue of RPG Review is going well, with just over half the page count filled.
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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 ([ 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 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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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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A fair bit of work this week has been preparing for courses for an introduction to the Spartan hybrid HPC/Cloud and the NeCTAR cloud starting on Monday which will run weekly. My side of the material is available on github. Apropos, I've had another encounter with odd password policies from a university which has led to another 'blog post: Password Praise in the Future Tense. Tuesday night attended a BuzzConf technology meeting; interesting technologies but the presentations were at such a high level it made it an utterly low-quality advertorial.

Have been less than happy with the state of gaming this week; Sunday's Eclipse Phase game was less exciting than I hoped it to be (although explorations of character schizophrenia were promising), Thursday's session was cancelled, and this coming Sunday's GURPS Middle Earth session has been suspended. On the other hand, my review of Open Grave has been published on, and I've penned a small piece on Pyrrhic victories in HeroQuest.

The Victorian Secular Lobby will be holding it's Annual General Meeting this Wednesday at Parliament House; the guest speaker will be Maree Edwards, the state member for Bendigo West, who will be talking on the politics of the Bendigo mosque. Many secularists were rather slow in defending the rights of Bendigo Muslims to worship peacefully when this was a major issue earlier this year, forgetting that secularism is not antithetical to religion, but independent of it (some more fundamentalist atheists, I would suggest, are not actually secularists). Hopefully Maree's presentation will illustrate why religious bigotry has no place in secularism.
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First three days of this week were pretty much entirely taken up with the HPC and Linux courses for the RMIT SPACE research centre. They were a good group and worked well through the material, however I understand that they are working through their own parallel program and in that regard they certainly have their work cut out for them. A planned three-day course at La Trobe University has been delayed given us a moment's respite to get our ISO 9001:2008 audit in order which has been sadly neglected somewhat.

Took two days off for the end of the week and went to the Gippsland South region with [ profile] caseopaya. We stayed at the thoroughly functional Inverloch Cabins. It's a pleasant town whose main feature is some rather impressive beaches. Nearby we also visited the very impressive Wonthaggi State Coal Mine heritage centre which included quite an extensive underground tour. It was also a short trip to Phillip Island, a place perhaps most famous for it's evening Penguin Parade and Nobbies which is well worth the visit. There was certainly plenty of wildlife; apart from the aforementioned penguins there were numerous Cape Barren Geese with goslings about along with the occasional wallaby. Needless to say, picked up a few unique Ingress visits and hacks and had a chat with one of the agents from the opposing faction on the island, which is one of their strongholds.

Managed to get home in time last night to rush out the door to play in the regular fortnightly session of Eclipse Phase and finish off the Chain Reaction scenario, which really hasn't grappled with the technological and social changes of a transhumanist future. In other gaming news, updated my reviews from the Pirates issue of RPG Review and copied them to the site. Currently working on some reviews for "dead and undead" themed games, mainly White Wolf line (obviously) but also with zombie apocalypse settings such as All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Also interested in exploring the strangely neglected subject of undead in 7th Sea.
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Spent a couple of days this week systemically working my way through a course proposal at the school of vocational engineering at RMIT. The idea at this stage is to provide a year-long course as an option for computer engineering students that is specifically orientated towards HPC systems administration. Considering the dearth of material that is available for such a course, much of it is being built from the ground up, and quite literally in the sense that the course will cover planning, physical installation, configuration and testing, optimised software application installs, job submission, monitoring and troubleshooting, and disaster recovery. Apropos on this coming Tuesday I am speaking at Linux Users of Victoria on Educating People to become Linux Users: Some Key Insights from Adult Education.

This was a special Cthonian week; Thursday night held the dramatic ending to our three-year Nyarlathotep campaign at the former Kew asylum. Thus ends a combination of two of the most well-regarded RPG campaigns ever written. On Saturday we held another cheesequest and as part of that day's activities, play the original edition (1987) of Arkham Horror (there's an excellent review on It had been almost thirty years since I'd played this edition of the game. Almost needless to say, the monsters made short work of the puny investigators.

As for the cheesequest itself, the gastronomy started with fried crumbed camembert, followed by coq au vin and then up to the semi-finals with a knockout between the mighty Epoisses and white Stilton. Afterwards we travelled to deepest suburbia to [ profile] log_reloaded's combination birthday and engagement party with her beau, Jase. Discovered that the pair of them, plus a few others in the room were Ingress players of the correct factional alignment. Also caught up with a number of people whom I hadn't seen in some years, including Tim S., who made the sensible suggestion that I should put in a paper to OSDC 2015 in Hobart.

There's been a couple of deaths this week which has affected me. The first being Chris Squire of Yes which ended up dominating much of my music listening for the week. The other was Nicholas Winton, a person who saved the lives of some seven hundred Jewish children on the second world war. Quiet about this for years, his wife discovered the names resulting in one surely must be one of the best moments in television history. The man is a great example of bravery and humility.
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It's been a very busy week for Linux and HPC courses with pretty much all of Monday and Tuesday teaching classes almost entirely made up of RMIT researchers. Once again received excellent feedback; I always feel a little embarrassed and proud at the same time when the class applauds at the end of the training sessions. This coming Monday I fly out to the Australian Institute for Marine Science to spend two days teaching some of their researchers on such topics and training their sysadmins on cluster management and various scientific software installations. Spent the better part of Thursday and Friday writing up the documentation for this. In the meantime I have also submitted a paper for eResearch Australasia on Vocational Engineering with High Performance Computing : A Necessity for a Productive Knowledge Economy. The practical import of this paper is recognising that industrial processes have an optimal degree of complexity, and as traditional industrial employment transfers to developing countries, new processes (and employment) will come from HPC engineering applications - as distinct to new research discoveries which also are coming from HPC data processing. Tangentially related was a very pleasing request for republication from a Linux advocate in Indonesia who had taken the effort to translate a previous presentation of mine (An Introduction to Slackare) into Bahasa-Indonesian.

Two regular gaming sessions this week have gone very well; last Sunday's 7th Sea Freiburg went well, with an mission into the catacombs of the city's cathedral to recover a key that opens a chamber to great (yet destructively unbalancing) riches. Of course there was a particularly hostile ghost there which didn't agree with anything being taken away. Then there was the gargoyles which made escape rather difficult. Although being a somewhat more heroic game, the PCs did somewhat better than Thursday night's Masks of Nyarlathotep team, who are completing the final chapter of story in central Australia. Half the investigators are incapacitated following an encounter with armed cultists followed shortly afterwards with a flying polyp; their friendliest encounter has been with mimi, and they're not always so friendly. It is, in many ways, heading towards a typically conclusion of a Call of Cthulhu story as a tiny group half-dead and half-mad individuals struggle their way through an ancient alien underground maze far from civilisation seeking to prevent the the destruction of the planet.
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Have spent the last four days at The Higher Education Agenda conference at the Gold Coast. To be honest, it was a bit of a mixed bag. The first day was very good, the second not so much, and the third somewhere in between. I particularly enjoyed Bryan Alexander's keynote, along with Dr. Xiaolin Zhang's presentation on the third day, albeit somewhat hampered by not having English as a native language. Alison Makin's paper on copyright issues was refreshingly sensible. My own paper, on comparing user education with interface improvements in HPC, attracted some attention and seemed well received, although I was frankly horrified by one attendee who totally misunderstood it. Also worthy of note was the vendors exhibition which was sufficiently good enough to note. The conference dinner was held at Dreamworld which included some good entertainment although, with no sense of irony, "the fun police"; Happiness is mandatory.

Which does set the scene for the Gold Coast as a whole, a name once used for derogatory remarks about the price of real estate and now the official name for the city. With the exception of a couple of universities (one public, one private) there is no industry except entertainment and tourism. The high rises are not for business, but for hotels along the coastline from the border of New South Wales to Brisbane. The weather was a perfect mid-twenties with blue skies every day, which was nice to wander along but would be frightfully dull after a couple of weeks. With [personal profile] caseopaya escaping work for a few days, we stayed at the remarkably inexpensive Grand Chancellor, whose breakfast helpfully informed us that bacon contains pork. The Gold Coast itself consists of an endless beach and theme parks (Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movieworld, Surfworld, Fartworld - ok, I made the last one up), which enjoyable enough in its own right, but if you're a nerd who like museums your best bet is the Ripley's Odditorium, which we visited, along with the light and mirrors of Infinity Attraction, and for big kids, Dracula's Haunted House - being 'digested' by Kevin Rudd was perhaps the most horrific.
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Have spent the last two days conducting training for researchers at the Australian Institute for Health Innovation, which is part of Macquarie University. The classes have been a little more difficult than usual, partially because of the diverse levels of skills involved in the group (some have never used Linux at all, others are full-time medical software engineers), but also because of the state of their small cluster - not much of the usual range of scientific software has been installed and there is need for some configuration improvements especially with their databases. Plus, for those who have experience, the cluster has changed from a Torque/Moab system to PBSPro. As a result, it has not been used as much as it should, however I am hoping that this should change now that training has been completed. Tomorrow I will finish the final session of training for researchers at the University of Sydney for their new HPC cluster.

Sydney has been suffering some particularly stormy weather, which has resulted in fatalities. It was pretty interesting taking the plane in on the evening of what was the strongest day for the inclement weather. Now with all due concern for the enormous financial cost and the loss of lives, I must admit that I really quite like wild weather like this - I took the opportunity to go out as much as I could (complete in at least the top-half of my Devo radiation suit). I find the howling winds and cold driving rain to be invigorating, and whilst I can also enjoy the quiet contemplation when communing with nature, it is in the midst of the maelstrom that I find she speaks most clearly (not to push the anthropomorphic metaphor too much).

But whilst on that topic of quiet contemplation and universities, I must also sing some praises of Macquarie University. It is the first time I had visited that campus and I must say it has many of the features that I have noticed from similar institutions of that period that I have spent time at (Murdoch University, La Trobe University, Deakin University at Waurn Ponds). These are campuses that are some distance from the CBD, with modern buildings and natural surrounds and even a modicum of wildlife. The combination really does provide a sense of being a sheltered workshop for the intellectually able, but maybe that's just what researchers need. The active participation of academia in society is certainly necessary, even if it is a thorn in the side of politicians and their allies, but passive contemplation also requires the right environment as well.
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In what has become almost routine, I spent a couple of days in Melbourne for the weekend and then left for Sydney to run another round of HPC training at the University of Sydney and the Westmead Millennium Institute. There were some researchers from the latter group who particularly switched on, along with some senior members of the institute in attenence. Overall the classes went very well with the opportunity to add in some new content, especially with a greater variety of options for PBS job arrays. Further HPC training in Sydney will happen next week, in part at Sydney University in part at Macquarie University's Institute for Health Innovation.

Whilst interstate wrote an review on the latest album from The Charlatans, which isn't great; it should be on The Dwarf soon. Today attended Daniel Jitnah's presentation on virtualisation at LUV, which provided a good (and critical) summary of some the major issues and a few biting remarks concerning the marketing of virtualisation, cloud, etc. Afterwards we went to dinner with Brendan E. and parents at the ever-reliable Punjabi Cafe; good food and conversation. It was the second weekend in succession that we've visited Brendan; last weekend he entertained with the delightfully violent John Wick and the Battle of the Five Armies/.

The Isocracy Network has a new article from [ profile] peristaltor entitled Whatever Happened to Henry George?, and I've recently had an email exchange with reporter Tom Elliot on a rather incorrect piece of his journalism, complaining how young people are socialists, which ipso facto means Stalinism. Whilst on the topic of LJ/DW I recently submitted a suggestion to both sites for an improvement; a "Current Reading" option to go with "Mood/Location/Music". How damned sensible would that be?
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Arriving in Melbourne last Saturday managed to experience two days at home before flying out again to deliver more HPC training at the Univeristy of Sydney. Fortunately one of those two days was an allocated CheeseQuest day with [ profile] hathhalla, [ profile] ser_pounce, and of course, [ profile] caseopaya, and it was the day of substitutes. Specifically, ser_pounce brought over Carré de l'Est (substitued with Epoisses), Caithness (Blarliath), Ilchester (Charnwood Applewood Smoked Cheddar), Dorset Blue Vinney (Shropshire Blue), and Fynbo (White Castello). Because it was Easter, I made another cheese from the famous skit, specifically Czechoslovakian sheep's milk cheese, or to be precise, sweet easter egg cheese (hrudka), as a desert. Plus we played a little Chez Cthulhu and watched some Moral Orel. To say the least is was a delightful and delectable day in very fine company.

The following day however it was back in the big silver bird, arriving once again at the functional, very inexpensive, and less than salubrious Macleay Lodge. It is a place that those with secular semi-Calvinist dispositions will love, and as a result I find myself quite comfortable there, and the more than an hour walk to and from the campus is probably doing me good (it certainly helps Ingress play). They were another good class, and I was particularly impressed by the contributions of one John Dodson who has been using UNIX since 1973. Off-campus, visited a seller of another swag of RPGs which I picked up on a bargain (with an appropriate excess luggage fee). But the real highlight of the visit was another dinner in Manly with the good Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones, a person who is certainly too critical of his own intellect and achievements, but wonderful company just the same. As often the case our conversations found there way around various topics of a trinity of politics, religion, and philosophy.

I now have a weekend, a day and a half of work at the office, and then off again for another three days of training. After that is another five days of training at Macquarie University and Sydney University again. After that I'll be up to the Gold Coast to present at the THETA conference. By that stage, from my quick reckoning, I would have spend ten of the last twelve weeks either overseas or interstate. To be frank it has reached the point of being a little exhausting, holiday time intermixed with the presentations and courses notwithstanding. Despite making some excellent contacts and opportunities through what must be said are very successful ventures, the "operations" side of my life is being neglected. I am rather hoping at some stage, perhaps in a month, just to spend a few days at home.
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On Sunday visited the Dunedin Art Gallery, which had a pretty average "Private Utopia" collection on display from the British Council, which did however include one amusing piece, a short film, "Human Report" (2008) by Marcus Coates, a pseudo-documentary of human beings by a sapient booby set in the Galapolas. Also of interest from the main 'Belonging' display was Charles Monet's, La Debacle (1880) which I connected with Emile Zola's novel of the Franco-Prussian War of the same name which included a scene reminiscent like the painting. Surely I am not the first to notice this? After the gallery made our way to the impressive Dunedin museum; their shipping, Maori and islander, and wildlife dispalys are particularly good.

The following day made our way to our secret South Pacific baseRavensbourne property and met one of the new tenants, who dutifully informed us that the main hall is now a regular practise haunt for various musicians on the Flying Nun label. As rocknerds we couldn't ask for better visitors; plus the tenants are keeping the place in very good condition, which is obviously pleasing. With some time to spare went down to Port Chalmers for viewing of their great little maritime museum before returning to the main city for lunch with our Ravensbourne neighbours, Heather and Mark (who keep an eagle eye on our property).

At this juncture, [ profile] caseopaya and I went on our separate ways for a while. I had some enrolment issues to sort out at the University (when you have multiple birth certificates with different names etc this sort of thing happens), followed by a visit with Professor Kwok-Wing Lai the Director of the Centre for Distance Education and Learning Technologies to discuss my thesis, and then a catch up with David Eyres and Jim Cheetham where we discussed a variety of matters technological and the limits of human rationality. Meeting up with [ profile] caseopaya again, we had a quiet night in as we prepared for the next leg of our journey into Southland and Fiordland.


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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

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