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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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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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It's been quite a week; started off with a giving an introductory HPC class at the University of Melbourne with a particularly engaged an interested group of researchers on Monday, whom I found out later one was enthusiastically tweeting as the class went on. Thursday was the official launch of Spartan, the new HPC-Cloud hybrid, with over a hundred people in attendance and several speakers (including the Acting Vice-Chancellor). I gave a presentation on the architecture and technical side and have noted the widespread media coverage it has picked up, including sites like HPC Wire, Gizmodo, and Delimiter. Also, damn awesome luch afterwards. Next week I'm off to the Gold Coast for QuestNet.

Tomorrow is the Australian Federal election. Most opinion polls are predicting a close result on raw TPP votes, but with the Coalition leading in the key marginal electorates. I have giving a pessimistic reading of such analysis which also outlines what one can expect in the next three years (which has received some circulation on social media), with thesauce providing a item-by-item manifest of the atrocity exhibition that has made up this government. It all raises the question of deliberative and informed democracy, an issue which Brad Murray has explored with regards to Brexit.

It's also been a busy week in terms of gaming and the RPG Review Cooperative. My review of Vampire:The Masquerade was finally published on rpg.net, but on a much bigger scale, issue 30 of RPG Review has just been released, which includes an interview with Steve Kenson, reviews of several superhero RPGs, a superhero short story, a campaign world setting, organisations and characters, CRPG reviews, and two movie reviews. Appropriately Wednesday was a session of Godsend Agenda which dived right into the fictionalised version of the disasters confronting Marco Polo's return trip. Plus, the Cooperative has purchased ISBNs for member publications, thus completing every single objective that we set out to achieve at the start of the year - and we're only seven months in!
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I've organised a meeting of the Isocracy Network for May 28th, with the Victorian convener of the Animal Justice Party. It's an issue of which I confess that I don't have enormous knowledge on, but recognise a general distinction for welfare based on sentience and awareness and rights based on intellect and consciousness (with a continuum in between). Animal welfare issues are obviously not going to be a major issue in the election, but nevertheless it will be good to hear the speaker, the issues, and to provide a theoretical grounding to the issue as a whole. Apropos, the Isocracy secretary has also started a reading and discussion group of The Jacobin.

Played Laundry Files last night, dealing with a incarnation of the The Slender Man, tied up with Cthulhu-mythos worship and graphics card development (Laundry Files is like that). Our Australian-setting variant does have a great deal of charm and would make a fascinating supplement in its own right for the game and perhaps even for some fiction. Tonight (indeed currently) playing Eclipse Phase Dance with the Devil scenario. I am still taking it easy after three days of a head and throat cold, so have joined the game via Skype - along with one player in New Zealand and another in Vietnam, as well as the two at the GM's physical location. There is something delightfully appropriate playing in such a fashion given the setting.

Although I've had a few days off work, the rest of the team brough the "bare metal" nodes online for testing on the Spartan HPC/Cloud hybrid system. This was very successful, and perhaps a world's first (albeit something that's not hugely difficult). Initial testing generated some results that were as expected; internode communication on the cloud nodes had ten times the latency as the traditional HPC nodes - and there is still further optimisation to make on the compilers to improve the general performance. Have also brought Brian May and [livejournal.com profile] imajica_lj on to the team to assist the authentication and cluster management respectively. All is very good in this part of the world.

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