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Have had a fairly busy week in my favourite pastime. Every day this week I've been working on finishing Papers & Paychecks as well as RPG Review 35-36, now a double issue of Antipodean gaming material. To have both out by the end of the month would be ideal, and I think that is certainly going to happen at current rates of work. Much of RPG Review has been helped by [personal profile] reverancepavane whose epic writing for RPGaDay has been nothing less than extraordinary. In actual play on Wednesday finished the classic introductory Stormbringer scenario The Tower of Yrkath Florn which includes nothing less than a Melnibonéan wheel (my calculations put the value at around $3m AUD). As I've wryly remarked this may very well be our Stormbringer; a theme which I don't think the game does well is the idea of tragedy from power. It was also a heavy Eclipse Phase weekend, with a game on Friday night which curiously was chasing down a antagonist whom the players in my Sunday game are close to encountering for the first time. Whilst a good scenario, once again I could not help but chuckle at the author's rather light idea of what a seedy "sex and drugs and gangs" red-light district would consist of - especially in a transhumanist environment.

On Friday finally managed to write up my review of The Residents concert from March last year. On Saturday attended Software Freedom Day and the LUV AGM, where I have found myself on the committee for yet another year. Afterwards went to [ profile] usekh's memorial birthday at the Back Bar. Kudos are due to [personal profile] damien_wise for doing most of the organising of the event. Today visited St Michael's to hear Rev. Ric Holland's impressive service on forgiveness, also taking the opportunity to introduce Shupu, to the location. I hadn't been for several months and was never a regular attendee, so I was quite surprised to discover a few people remembered me. The Rev. offered to catch up for coffee some time and I certainly intend to take up that invitation. Afterwards made my way to university, and stumbled upon the a protest against racism and fascism which I attended; the media of course, concentrated on a very minor disruption, ignoring the important message that the Rohingyan refugee speaking was presenting at the same time.
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It's been a pretty rough week, with continuing problems with the that nasty bit of glue between Spartan and it's underlying network infrastructure. Some of the best minds I know in these matters are all doing their best to fix the problems, all whilst we're in the middle of upgrades (I won't be happy if the upgrades are the problem), but at the moment we haven't narrowed down the cause (if we knew that it wouldn't be a problem). At least we now have the recovery process fine-tuned. On a related topic, tomorrow I'm giving a talk to Linux Users of Victoria on An Overview of SSH. Readers of my 'blog of course get to see presentation slides first.

It's all taken it's toll and I've been fighting off a cold (I think successfully) the past couple of days, not helped by what was otherwise a very busy week. Monday night was Lorna Quinn's art opening at University House. It was also, incidentially, the day I posted some photos of myself from 1993 (1993mohawk1.jpg amd 1993mohawk2.jpgwhich attracted some attention among social media friends. Once again I grumpily have to acknowledge the fleeting superficial power of the arts. On a related sense, Tuesday night was a return to our regular Megatraveller session, where we sorted out our fleet's multifunctional space voyages (we're off to Torpol!)

The Isocracy annual general meeting was on Wednesday night, which was addressed by the state secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, on 'The Reawakening of the Working Class'. Kos is a very smart operator and uses strong empirical evidence which matches industry developments with electoral politics and ideological shifts. We also elected our committee (we have Labor, Liberal, and Greens members now). The conversation was extensive and congratulations must be given to Kos for holding up under the circumstances, as he found out just before the start of the meeting that Fiona Richardson had suddenly died. Last night, managed to struggle through a debate at the Secular Society between James Fodor and Leon Di Stefano. James has provided a copy of his presentation slides.
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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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The weekend witnessed a trip out to the Knox festival, primarily to join a group of friends to see Polly Samuel who is counting down what is almost certainly the last weeks of her life. We took a long our copy of the bestselling Nobody Nowhere which we found at a book sale on the other end of the country. It is of course, an extremely honest and insightful autobiography, and Polly no doubt will have some great pride in the contribution she has made to the world.

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

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

It was not the only presentation of the past few days however; last night gave a talk at Linux Users of Victoria, giving a summary of Multicore World 2017, along with making some suggestions for improvement. The meeting also had two short talks, one by Russell Coker on Quilt, a patch management system, and Rodney Brown, on RISC V, a free and open source RISC architecture.
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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 [ profile] caseopaya, [ 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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The Papers & Paychecks Kickstarter continues to go quite well, albeit at nail-biting crawl towards the final day. It certainly has been a learning experience of crowd-funding. Even if you're not a gamer it's well-worth putting $10 in for a couple of PDFs if you enjoy my writing and want an amusing exploration of contemporary workplaces. In other gaming news I was lucky enough to pick up at a fair price a second edition of Skyrealms of Jorune, a truly beautiful boxed set and exotic setting. Wednesday night was a session of Laundry Files in which the intrepid investigators explored the horrors of cultists on The Plateau of Leng. Finally the final touches are being put in RPG Review issue 32 and it certainly will by this weekend.

Whilst many workplaces wind down I find that there is ample at mine to keep myself more than busy. One major event was the end of the Moab license for the Edward HPC system. Although it is still running (and therefore not dead), it is retired. Thus ends five years of faithful service by friend computer, even with its aged storage, and crufty DNS issues. One last component which requires replacement is one of my least favourite pieces of software, Gaussian. Much of this week has been spent trying to get all the dependencies together for it. Today was the end of year work lunch at Le Bon Ton, which doesn't really live up to its name as such, but does provide quite an extensive carnivorous menu.

On a related subject the December meeting of Linux Users of Victoria was very eventful; after twenty-three years as an independent organisation the meeting unanimously voted to disincorporate and become a subcommittee of Linux Australia, a suggestion I made three years ago, when I was president. After the vote I gave a talk on HPC systems in Europe: A Selection. In part was an overview of why Linux is so dominant in supercomputing, in part a review of several different big European systems, but really the conclusion is that Australia lags terribly in this field - and with inevitable results in terms of manufacturing and science.

After the concert [ profile] caseopaya went out to see The Triffids at The Corner Hotel. For once the sound in the venue was excellent, the temperature right, and the band (and guests) put on a thoroughly pleasing show for the evening. But of course, that's the thing about The Triffids, they were enormously popular for all the right reasons. They could pitch, in an Australia-indie style, typical emotional issues (e.g., 'Bury Me Deep in Love', 'Trick of the Light', 'Wide Open Road'), and they do in a manner that is well-constructed and with great acumen. I have enjoyed their concerts in the past but was indifferent to this one. They don't really provide anything challenging either musically or lyrically. They're just downright nice and pleasant - and usually I want something a little more raw and experimental.
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Linux Users of Victoria had its AGM on Tuesday night with Scott Penrose talking about the use of Linux in Arctic and Antarctic conditions for satellite date; a great presentation and once again I find myself on the committee for another term. The following night attended a Socialist Left post-election union meeting at Trades Hall. It was what could be expected, burly left-wing unionists from the CFMEU, the ETU, the AMWU, the MUA, etc being prominent in the event and raising funds for the CUB 55, but also with a significant portion of young Labor left attendees. The meeting was well addressed by Senator Kim Carr, but the headline act was Labor leader and apparently Prime Minister apparent, Bill Shorten. Shorten is note exactly from the left by any stretch of the imagination but he does have a degree of political cunning and he certainly does understand union issues as illustrated by an impressive speech. I was very surprised when afterwards he broke from the group he was with to greet me - it has been some fifteen years since we were in any sort of regular political contact. Apparently one does not need political power to retain at least the status of being worthy of consideration.

Work has been ridiculously busy with the usual gaggle of tickets, infrastructure testing, and paper preparations. A major achievement has been shifting data - some of it over ten years old - from a long-retired HPC system. A good meeting today with a representative of Mathworks who provided an educated and interested summary of various types of parallelisation with Matlab. I must admit that I was a little stunned when an alleged adult educator claimed that 'andragogy' was a buzzword, and then contrary to their own claims that adult education is a peer-to-peer relationship rather than instructor-learner, cut off an important issue raised in a computing lecture that illustrated the potential of an off by one error. It was less than a personal affront or an example of workplace idiocy, which I usually take in my stride, but rather it offended the core principles of adult computer science education, something which I have a surprising attachment to, and confirmation of some rather unfortunate functional issues common in contemporary organisations. Afterwards continued my rants with the good hackers from 2600.

Europe preparations continue to go extremely well. My preparation of the core languages from Duolingo (German, French, Spanish, Esperanto) are at pace, and as a tangent I have just put in a request for Tetum (if they don't do it, I'll write my own). All transport and hotels booked, with the exception of our final week in Barcelona. Have also managed to come across some Frankfurt School researchers who are holding a conference just outside our visit, alas. Neverthless has already developed opportunities for further collaboration especially on the works of Friedrich Pollock, who was director of the Institute for many years and had a very interesting take on the transformation of market capitalism into authoritarian collective capitalism and the state-regulated class-compromise capitalism of the twentieth century, along with issues on automation. Whilst the Frankfurt School were very much into psychology, sociopathologies, and aesthetic criticism, their multidisciplinary approach did not preclude those with an economic and technological orientation of which Pollock is representative.
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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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Last Sunday's presentation to the Melbourne Unitarian Church on Changing Definitions of Marriage: Past, Present, and Future, was very well received. It was followed by a meeting of The Philosophy Forum where Graeme Lindenmayer spoke on The Nature and Existence of Time. This coming week have organised a meeting with Harriet Singh and the Victorian Secular Lobby to discuss the future of the Safe Schools Programme. The following Saturday I've also organised a meeting with Equal Love Australia to speak to the Isocracy Network to discuss the issue of a plebiscite or a free parliamentary vote on marriage equality, and issue which I introduced in the address to the Unitarians.

Politically of course, secularism is a liberal and modern concern, which does not only argue for the separation of religious beliefs from evidence in public policy and religious appointments in public institutions, but tangentially the development of post-metaphysical reasoning. It is difficult, to say the least, to imagine how fundamentalist beliefs will succeed in a world transformed both by technology and the breakdown of cultural differences. Racial and religious inspired violence is the last and pathetic attempt to impossibly impose a worldview that is already completely out of date.

On Tuesday night I gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria on Spartan: An HPC-Cloud Hybrid. Following day presented for the Edward to Spartan Workshop; a good class, albeit with a wide variance in skill levels, but all of whom were quite engaged in the subject. A big change this week was a switchover in storage and DNS for the venerable Edward system, primarily by [ profile] imajica_lj and NinjaDan respectively.

Interesting collection of gaming events over the past week as well. Sunday, a busy day, was a session of Eclipse Phase which concluded with the discovery of On Monday night played some Ingress with a Sydney visitor whose IT-related agent name (Zilog80) I recognised from one of last year's visit to that town. Thursday night was the second session of Mimesis Delta Green which involved putting together the pieces of a grisly murders and concluded with an encounter with a Byakhee.

Europe plans are going very well. Meeting at CERN was confirmed this week, so now only waiting on confirmations from Frankfurt and Montpellier Universities. This morning [ profile] caseopaya discovered that the greatest band of this century, 65daysofstatic, are playing in Barcelona on the first night of the OpenStack conference. Naturally enough I purchased tickets immediately. Now with but four weeks to go, the finer details of the intinery need to be sorted out. In many ways I've waited my entire life for a trip like this, and whilst a month is far too short to fully immerse oneself in what remains the centre of human history and intellectual - Geisteswissenschaften, as the Deutsche would say - it is coming to fruition.
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Tuesday night attended the Linux Users of Victoria meeting to hear Russell Coker present on M.2 expansion cards, and Rodney Brown on cyclic redundancy checks. The following day had the first of a new class at University of Melbourne on advanced (on a user level) Linux commands and shell scripting. Detailed slides in MD format are available on Github. That evening, with but a couple of days notice, journeyed to Moorabbin to the MelbPC Users Group to address a group of around 60 on Supercomputers: Current Status and Future Trends.

As there is no peace for the wicked, on Sunday I am also presenting at The Philosophy Forum, on "Race conditions for the Human Species : A Global Perspective", and then on Tuesday I'll be presenting at the Atheist Society on "Is Pantheism and Atheism?". The day after that I have another several hours of Linux HPC teaching - and so they cycle goes. Actually I am hoping for a little of a break from such things so I least have the chance to finish up some writing projects that I have had sitting on the backburner for a while.
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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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Gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria on Tuesday night on Universal Numbers; a good turnout an some excellent questions. Rounding errors are tragically common in computing and lead to very expensive and sometimes fatal mistakes. Unums can prevent such mistakes, and is a truly revolutionary change in hardware, however the challenge remains to implement them in hardware. I was first introduced to them some two years ago by John Gustafson who initiated their development, and I have been quite remiss in not presenting such a talk already.

On Wednesday headed off to Sydney for the one-day OpenStack Australia Day conference. There was superb turnout (around 350) with over half the attendees interested in the tech stream rather the main stream (read: "managers") and a a result the techs were shunted away in the conference venue's dungeon. Nevertheless was pretty happy with some of the talks, in particular Shunde Zhang's careful and balanced explanation of StackBuffet and GUTS, and was of course very interested in NCI's tests of parallel computation in cloud environments (kudos for actually having the courage to say "Parallel jobs can run on the Cloud, but is it HPC? Not at the moment".

The Asylum was a hive of activity this evening for several Ingress players from different factions, although team Enlightenment certainly had the numbers. Took the opportunity to go out and meet the younger players some of whom have caught on to playing Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Geocaching simultaneously. As previously mentioned so much of my Ingress time from previous years has now been taken up by Duolingo, but when there's an Ingress party outside your front door it's an opportunity that shouldn't be missed.
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Completed my second Duolingo owl on Saturday in French. I had set myself a rather optimistic goal of finishing it by the end of April, and with a rather Herculean effort on Saturday (starting at 7.30am, finishing just after midnight), I completed some 23 skills and probably around 90 lessons on that day. It was quite exhausting and the following day I froze when chatting to a fellow Esperanto speaker - by brain was full of French! In the coming month I am intending to complete as much as I can with German - not my strongest language and I suspect that I'll not finish that until the end of June.

On Sunday was a meeting of The Philosophy Forum with Rohan presenting on Leonardo Di Vinci, Tertiary Education, and Genius. The presentation needed some work but there was some good discussion. I neglected to mention last month's meeting which had Tim Harding speak on Determinism, Free Will and Compatibilism, which had a massive follow-up discussion on Facebook. I had to pen a few words myself on the subject, much to my annoyance as I find the partisanship on the subject when our knowledge is limited to be far too rude.

Today's work consisted on giving another course on high performance computing at UniMelb, along with Martin P., contributing with the use of the NeCTAR cloud. Tonight I'm working on a presentation tomorrow night for Linux Users of Victoria on UNUMS - computation without error.
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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 [ profile] hathhalla and [ 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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I haven't posted for several days. But what a week it has been. Saturday was the meeting for Linux Users of Victoria with Russell Coker leading a hands-on demonstration for building a mail-server. The technical content was good, but his sessions would be better if he was more of a teacher and took the time to elaborate each point to provide grounding among the learners. Afterwards it was the annual general meeting of the Isocracy Network with Damien Kingsbury speaking on plans to reform asylum seeker policies. It has led to me to reflect on the 15 years of reluctant involvement I have had with this issue.

On Sunday's 7th Sea Freiburg gaming session followed on from The Great Fire of Freiburg to the financial rebuilding of the equivalent of the establishment of the Bank of England. In other gaming news, on Tuesday reached the highest level attainable in Ingress. I can imagine that much of the time that I used to spend on Ingress will now be spent on Duolingo, where I am progressing quite well in German, French, and Esperanto (I find French the easiest, quelle surprise). Needless to say, we are still attending our weekly German lessons at the College of Advanced Education.

There has been some work-related issues of the past few days that have led to some serious reverberations throughout the company, which I am not at great liberty to elaborate on. It has however left a number of good people quite shell-shocked even if it is not immediately obvious, and has certainly led to demotivation on the part of others. I raise the question on whether the Board has acted - and I mean this in the full legal sense - "in the best interests of the corporation". This aside, next week I will be presenting at the Open Source Developers Conference in Tasmania, and then return to conduct courses for RMIT, then La Trobe University, then Deakin University.
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This week I wrote or submitted three contributions to various government agencies. The first was a draft for Linux Users Victoria, on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with particular attention drawn to intellectual property issues. The second was for the Victorian Secular Lobby, which was submitted to the Victorian parliamentary committee on end-of-life choices, based on last week's draft. The Isocracy Network is also considering a submission. The third was a submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to the Cultural Diversity Review, specifically on the classification of Unitarians as "Christian (Other)" in the Australian census. For the Victorian Secular Lobby, it's been a particularly good week with Special Religious Instruction taken out of the education curriculum.

I've had a busy end-of-week socially; on Thursday night [ profile] strangedave and [ profile] doctor_k_ were visiting Melbourne, so we organised dinner and a tour at the asylum for them and [ profile] mortonhall and Trevor (LJ name?). Great conversation and a pleasant walk of the grounds. Did the same for visiting Westalian nephew Luke from Muzzle and his friend Nick on Saturday night. Also on Saturday went to see [ profile] ser_pounce and [ profile] hathhalla for the grand final of the cheesequest; a contest between (substituted) white stilton, epoisses (fantastic soaked in champagne), and a small mountain of the garlic-and-herb boursin, made by yours truly, plus a few others just to complement. We also played Mice and Mystics, a cooperative storytelling boardgame, where we were seriously defeated twice. Also had an interesting political and plotting dinner on Friday with Anthony and Daye.

The final social activity of late this week was a session of 7th Sea where the PCs are increasingly coming to to terms with the scale of the political danger they've put them in; it's a fantasy version of a resource course. Apart form all this I've been playing house a fair bit, after purchasing a big antique sideboard, rearranging a variety of furnishings (especially bookcases) in the process. I don't really live in a house; it's more like a small library and museum. Or at least that's the plan.
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On behalf of the Victorian Secular Lobby, I have written a draft submission on "End of Life Choices" for the Victorian Parliament's committee. There will be further developments in the next two weeks before submissions close. Further I note that Federal Liberal MP Warren Entsch began parliamentary prayers a few days ago with a statement from 106 Christian religious leaders who support marriage equality. I can note that this approach is something I started five years ago as the first public activity of the Victorian Secular Lobby. Apropos last Tuesday went to a meeting of the University of Melbourne Secular Society which has Professor Mark Elgar from Zoology speaking on the myths of evolutionary psychology, especially surrounding issues of leadership. Finally, on another religious and indeed secular matter, on Sunday September 6th I will be addressing the Unitarian Church on The Modernisation of Buddhist Karma.

Saturday was the beginners workshop for Linux Users of Victoria with an excellent set of test cases for BTRFS and ZFS by Russell Coker. I would like to elaborate on these to turn them into a more complete tutorial on the subject. As an additional example of positive actions in the past having fruitful success years later, in 2009 Linux Conference Australia raised $40000 for research into the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease. This week the first immunised Devils were released into the wild. Next month will be the AGM for Linux Users of Victoria; I am hoping to have a draft of our submission on the Trans-Pacific Partnership complete by tomorrow.

A quieter week on the gaming front. Thursday skipped the planned session and dragged out Stratego, a game I haven't touched since my early teens. Today played GURPS Middle Earth where we completed the Battle of the Three Armies and Not-Quite Helm's Deep where my character, in an act of ridiculous heroism freed a cave bear from a goblin army (which then turned on them, obviously) and then convinced a oath-breaking bandit to give up his wicked ways. Still battling to get the requisite number of articles together for this issue of RPG Review, as the deadline for the next issue approaches.
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I've been putting this post off for a couple of days, wanting to get a copy of Wen's great presentation to the beginners workshop at Linux Users of Victoria on Saturday on the Raspberry Pi (which I still don't have). It was a crowded room (around 35 crammed into the VPAC training room) and he gave a one hour presentation followed by a one hour tutorial and demonstration. It was really high quality. Apropos to this organisation, I will speaking at their next main meeting on "Educating People to become Linux Users: Some Key Insights from Adult Education". Less related was an unfortunate outage at work this week as our aging Lustre/DDN storage array had a interesting development with an equally aging switch. The scheduler on our cluster was pretty much paused for the better part of two working days. Friday was also the last working day for Brian M., whom I reminded the staff is a person of such talent that he has a PhD in computer security, has a pilot's license, plays the classic violin, and has a working knowledge of Mandarin. As per a previous post I am less than pleased on the loss of our direct labourers; the symbiotic relationship of direct to indirect labour can indeed be parasitic.

After the LUV meeting convened the Isocracy meeting at Trades Hall on the topic of Workers Cooperatives and Environmentalism. I gave a broad introduction to the subject, noting the definitions, history, and criticism. I am particularly interested in how workers cooperatives are meant to raise the necessary funds in complex production processes given the large capital barrier to entry. This presentation was followed by a speaker from the Earthworker Cooperative, speaking about Eureka's Future in particular. One particular effect of the meeting is that we've decided to refinance our existing home loan from MEBank (owned by superannuation funds) to BankMECU (a consumer cooperative).

I've been intrigued by a recent publication in Cell Metabolism that suggests a half-kilojoule diet five days per month leads to improved cognitive performance, reduced cancers, and multi-system regeneration. And of course weight loss, duh. The health effects of periodic fasting are well known of course, but for obvious reasons people have a great deal of difficulty following it. So this seems to be an a good point to operate from, and I've decided to give it at least a three-month trial (which was the pilot study in humans). As previously mentioned, courtesy of Ingress and a minor modification to my normal regimen I have a higher Physical Activity Level than my rather sedentary worklife would indicate.
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Philosophy Forum last Sunday was Dr. Bill Hall discussing Knowledge and the Singularity, which has a somewhat uncertain conclusion. It is all very well to note the development of human knowledge but the question of whether this is sufficient to deal with the critical issues facing the species was unresolved. Tuesday night was two excellent and useful presentations at Linux Users Victoria on Performance Co-Pilot and Android Security. The former presentation was excellent to the server and cluster level whereas the latter (in Paul Fenwick's enjoyable style) was great for personal applications (plus it introduced me to Pinpoint, a great tool for command-line warriors to make presentations.

Sunday afternoon was also an opportunity to run 7th Sea Freiburg which required some substantial modification to the provided plot to make sense, but with the same intent - the characters fall into financial ruin (as the foundations of their house are attacked) but also acquire significant dangerous wealth almost at the same time (discovered due to the explosion). I did enjoy starting the session for half the party with the phrase "roll for initiative" as they sat down. Thursday night's session saw the beginning final chapter of Masks of Nyarlathotep. Currently in the midst of our regular GURPS Middle Earth rescuing children in Dwarven ruins; we get a lot of that.

Caught up with [ profile] strangedave and [ profile] doctor_k_ who were visiting Melbourne on Friday night at the Village Bar, which really is quite a beautiful old building. Discussions were wide and varied over the evening covering childhood vaccinations, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and Glorantha. Can't say I was exactly feeling 100% the following day however.
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There is a running myth that Australians have kangaroos hopping around their suburban streets. Largely, this isn't actually true. Except when it is. Our asylum home, a mere 6km from the city as the crow flies had this little bounder funneled down the Yarra river valley. It's not the first time in recent months the area has seen said bounding marsupials; one visited a primary school nearby at the end of last year. In other animal news there is the rather sad news that our rescue guinea pig, Zepar, shuttled off the mortal coil Tuesday night and was buried the following morning. I cannot say he was an overly friendly or clever pig, but at the very least he had several years of comfort interrupted by only the occasional terror of having his toenails trimmed.

Tuesday night was also the February main meeting of Linux Users Victoria which consisted on an excellent presentation by Andrew Robinson on the R programming language, and an amusingly clever video of Andrew Tridgell's LCA presentation on running Linux on drones. In what was a very techie Tuesday, the Raspberry Pi 2 was released and several of us made a bulk order. I now have two of said creature and am thinking of setting up a picture rotator or some home automation.

Saturday week is the annual general meeting of the Victorian Secular Lobby. We'll be giving out awards for those who helped out during the state election, and will have guest speaker, Fiona Patten, MLC who will speak on what will surely be a contentious issue for the year, "Religious Exemption to Equal Opportunity Laws". It an interesting perspective that many so-called libertarians have that is to allow institutions to have the to attack the individual's right to fair treatment in the public activities (e.g.. employment, purchasing etc). The fact that religious institutions protest a sacred right to engage in such bigotry may be irrational and distasteful, but also a matter of some power.


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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

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