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Much of this week has been spent finishing the last several thousand words to Papers & Paychecks with a plan to send to printers next week, although I can't seem to contact Tim Kask, whom I would like to write the foreword (which I discovered many months ago, he wanted to do). It has also been a week of multiple gaming sessions with a new RuneQuest game with new GM on Sunday set in Questworld and incorporating the somewhat maligned Eldarad supplement, and then a committee meeting for the RPG Cooperative (we'll be off to see Blade Runner 2049 soon. It was followed up with an session of Elric! on Wednesday night, where we've started using and rebuilding The Tower of Yrkath Florn. Tonight was a session of Eclipse Phase which was based at an academic psychology conference.

This has rather curious parallels of course, as on Monday I attended the Victorian Directors of IT conference. Much of it was rather vague and high level, but there were a few good sessions, and the education-based keynote by Professor Liz Johnson was excellent. Liz has been kind enough to review the co-authored presentation I am giving at eResearchAustralasia in Brisbane next week. After that I'll be back home for a few days before going to the IEEE eScience conference in Auckland. I would actually like to spend several days at home in succession, and it all hasn't been helped by the fact that I have worked a little on the late side a few days at work, part of which included completing the PRACE HPC course.

There is a curious paradox at play; most occupational health research suggests that people (and especially men) should ease themselves into retirement - drop down to four days at 40, three days at 50, two at 60, and then one, then zero. However as you get older you also become more skilled especially in particular niche - and if you have any work ethic whatsoever, there is a motivation to work longer hours despite the negatie socio-economic effects this has, not to mention the toll on personal health. Indeed, it requires a significant degree of personal willpower these days to drag oneself away at the nominal close of business. I have significant doubts that this is part of my disposition.
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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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Gaming sessions have returned back to normal with the return of Andrew D., from his Malaysia and UK holiday. Sunday was the regular session of Eclipse Phase. As is often the case, the first session sets the scene and this time it included the hatching of an Iktomi egg and contact by The Factors in Uranus. Wednesday was a session of Laundry Files which continued the explosive problem of a person in China being a nexus point between this world and fire vampires. Apropos have still be working on Papers & Paychecks with positive responses to the draft, perhaps the best being from NinjaDan, "this is looking like a real RPG sourcebook". Well, yes, that's the plan of course.

In other news items, there have been several mainstream news articles advocating land tax, following investigation by the Parliamentary Budget Office, as the Australian property market is in a bubble, with the proposed replacement of stamp duty with a broad land tax a fundamental and sensible policy. In related news there has several new 'blog posts on the Isocracy Network site, as well as a new article by Joe Toscano, The Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse.

Finally, this afternoon gave a guest lecture at the University of Melbourne, for the course COMP90024 Cluster and Cloud Computing, on The Spartan HPC System at the University of Melbourne. Lectures like these are a tough gig; the four to six hour workshops and tutorials are at a slower pace with more direct involvement with the smaller number of participants. This is a much larger lecture, around two hundred postgraduate students, and with a lecture slot that lasts well over an hour there is a need to pack in as much information as possible. I am still not used to what I much presume is a millennial norm of applauding lecturers a the end of the class. This is normal now, right?
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After having added another six thousand words this week, I have released a very rough draft of Papers & Paychecks, and posted an update for the project. The book is now 18 days overdue, and whilst I know that Kickstarters do have an almost assumed lateness in them, my inner project manager is screaming at me about being on-time. Still, I have completed pretty much all the core components and what really needs to be done is equipment lists, sample NPCs etc. In addition this I have made a solid start on the next issue of RPG Review with several thousand words done there as well. Friday night played Eclipse Phase with our international group with Think Before Asking; a superb ending of dramatic action with all the sort of paranoia that environment engenders. Tonight took some time out to visit Brendan E., for our regular dose of good popular culture; this time it was several episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead : Season 2 (look at that, 100% on the Tomatometer).

Whilst these activities have pretty much taken all my evening time, the days has been equally busy. There has been some preparations for the annual assignment and HPC lecture for Cluster and Cloud Computing. In addition there is an HPC for Economists course that is being prepared, a new round of general HPC courses, and preparations for ISC Frankfurt. In addition to that there was a steady flurry of interesting software installs this week, including a new version of ORCA which does ab initio quantum chemistry (finally, new MPI bindings!), and the Biopython suite. There has also been reports for the technical working groups on the upcoming upgrades for research compute facilities at the University. All in all, it's been quite the week.
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What an extraordinary past few days. The first big surprise was the pleasant discover that Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing had given our Kickstarter a plug. The next couple of days our pledges tripled, leading to Kickstarter to reach its target with five days to spare. I was getting worried that nobody among the bigger geekdom media was going to pick up on our little joke, but Cory came to the party. A wonderful result, and now we have the problem of deciding how big our print run really should be - I am probably going to recommend to the committee that we go for caution.

The second event was the sixth wedding anniversary for [ profile] caseopaya. As this is traditionally an "iron" gifting anniversary. You can guess what I bought her; the imagur photo story reveals all. Afterwards we went to visit our friend Lyle, who is recovering (very well) from having a stroke. On our return we watched A Very Long Engagement, which is very much in the French realist tradition - sensual, sad, violent, dramatic, amusing - all mixed together. Quite a brilliant film.

Today was my last day of work for the year, and what a great year its been. It was wrapped up with a ResPlat function at the Princess Park Bowls club. Tomorrow morning we head to Perth for familial duties - for friends we've organised a lunch and dinner both on the 23rd of December (solstice feast!) Ruoccos in Fremantle and Amore Mio in Maylands; looks like it will quite an Italian food day.
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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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The end of the year is approaching and I find myself dearly wishing there was about another month so I would have a chance of completing the somewhat optimistic set of tasks that I manage to set myself each year. Of course, in such circumstances where I think many are finding themselves winding down, my psychology directs me to redouble my efforts. This can lead to some interesting conflicts as all sorts of social events are called around this time. Most prominent this past week was an extended lunch (approximately six hours) at Rosetta hosted by some representatives of SanDisk and HGST for a few of us (which couldn't have been cheap), and the day prior the Puppet Camp, the highlight of which was spending the day with former co-worker, Dylan G. He wins the prize for worst pun of the day when I wryly mentioned it wasn't much of a camp. "Oh yes, it is. Everything is intense", he quipped. Somehow among all this I've managed to finish my part of a co-authored paper with the good folk at the University of Freiburg HPC centre, in preparation for the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt next year.

Another activity over the past day has been getting the final touches of RPG Review issue 32 together, now that Frank Menzter's interview has been received. I am hoping to have it released before the weekend is out. The issue is heavily biased towards the various games and material relevant to TSR, which really founded the RPG hobby in their own right. At the same time, we're now into the final three weeks of the Papers and Paychecks Kickstarter which I am still optimistic can make it over the line before the due date at Christmas evening. Currently playing Eclipse Phase with our usual international group which mostly plays via Google Hangouts; we've been making our way through a playtest of some new experimental rules for the game, which we I will also test out with our Sunday group as well. Speaking of which it's also been confirmed that the next issue of RPG Review will feature Rob Boyle, designer of Eclipse Phase as the main subject for our upcoming Transhumanist issue, which is due by the end of the year. Certainly Eclipse Phase has bee the most significant RPG I've been involved in for a couple of years now; the exploration of plausible and dangerous post-human future with genuinely alien contact is far superior to much of what passes as science fiction film.
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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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Last day of the OpenStack Summit was mainly workshops for developers, so took the opportunity to join the Spousetivities group to their visit to the Roman circus at Tarragona, then to the medieval town of Montblanc with an extensive lunch at Fond dels Angels, and finally a visit to the serene Cistercian Poblet Monastery.

Leaving our ocean-facing high-rise views for the conference, we've moved downtown to a location just as high but more real, on the Gran Via des Corts Catalanes. Here we rub shoulders with the local population, buy produce from their stores, eat at their small restaurants, and drink at their (many) small bars. Fortunately the staff have much better English (in the most part) than I have Castilian (let alone Catalan). The general town planning seems very intelligent, combining medium-high density, but with plenty of greenery to provide a pleasant atmosphere, and small parks to encourage community interaction. It was quite charming to see the number of local children frocked up for Halloween.

Tourist-like activities however have been prominent with a weekend and a public-holiday intervening to the normal schedule. This includes a visit to the Science Musuem with a special exhibition on the Spinosaurus. In what could be a religious experience, visited no less than three different gothic cathedrals on Sunday, including the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, Catedral de Barcelona, and Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi, then had lunch at the Plaça de George Orwell before visiting the excellent Parc Zoològic de Barcelona, where their kids petting zoo had a range of critters on display including Siberian filigree hamsters. Today, took the tourist bus around the city after a lengthy visit to Gaudí's (et al) masterpiece work, Basílica de la Sagrada Familia, perhaps the most extraordinary building I have ever been in - yet, but a candle to the light that is Milford Sound.

In other aesthetic activities the first week of the Papers and Paychecks Kickstarter has reached its end with approximately 19% funded. I was hoping for more by this stage, but it is good enough. However, in order for the project to succeed it must reach the minimum level to pay for printing costs etc. On other aesthetic tangents as promised I have just put up my review of 65daysofstatic in Barcelona on Rocknerd. Finally, if language can be described as a type of aesthetics (it's symbolic values, right?), last night after a Herculean effort, completed the Spanish tree on Duolingo - which is on top of Esperanto, French, and German for this year. As evidence that I may not be entirely sane and may be going native I have started Catalan for Spanish speakers.
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First week in Barcelona has reached its conclusion. On Monday night went to see 65daysofstatic at Razzmatazz. It was primarily material from their soundtrack to No Man's Sky, which I have previously reviewed on Rocknerd, but with some welcome elaborations, additions, and other material (including, for example, 'I Swallowed Hard Like I Understood' and 'Retreat! Retreat!' from The Fall of Math). The concert wasn't particularly huge, only around five hundred people or so, but 65dos put on a great show, and the live performance of the No Man's Sky soundtrack was given a new, raw, and abrasive sound from the album version. Plus the band was kind enough to chat to audience members afterwards. [personal profile] reddragdiva will be pleased to know that a review is pending.

I have started a Kickstarter for a new roleplaying game based on Will McLean's classic cartoon, Papers & Paychecks. The product is entirely for the RPG Review Cooperative, Inc., and nobody but the Cooperative will be receiving anything from this (well, apart from Australia Post and the printing company). It has been deliberatly launched one year after the author of the original cartoon passed away and personally I think it is a bit of a testimony to the many people who found it to a very witty contribution. The Kickstarter is going fairly well so far and I've set pretty modest targets, but I've had much less opportunity to engage in promotion that what I would like. As my first Kickstarter I would like to encourage people to take the opportunity to back this resistentialist and funny game which uses a lot of classic RPG concepts but with several new twists.

The official reason I am over here has been of course the OpenStack Summit. This is, of course, a huge deal with several thousand IT developers visiting and a huge stream of talks. OpenStack has, of course, taking a lot of the server world infrastructure by storm, although it has been less exciting in the world of traditional high performance computing. I managed to get to see several talks a day before ours which was was one of the last talks before the developer's workshops. To be honest, our talk Spartan Performance and Flexibility: An HPC-Cloud Chimera received a better response that any of the others I saw at the conference. The first question from the audience was Why isn't everyone doing this?, and it just got better from their with several major players expressing great interest in our combination of traditional HPC and cloud technologies. We all left that feeling pretty happy with the results, and certainly the University of Melbourne should as well. Next time I think we must bring NinjaDan along as well, because he certainly has been a key player in Spartan's development.


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