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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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It's been a strange and disruptive past few days, and one which I am at peace with a certain resilience to stich things together and still have the opportunity for other actions. Initially the most serious problem was the discovery early Tuesday morning that Spartan had crashed. I quickly diagnosed it as a networking issue; the home, project, and scratch directories had all been lost and along with it, every running job screamed and died. As others came on board and I fielded users, we eventually narrowed it down to what appears to be a bug in a Cisco switch that was sending duplicate packets. Congratulations are due to Nhat, NinjaDan, Linh, and Mark M., for their efforts here. Making good of the opportunity we restarted all the nodes with a kernel upgrade as well, which were intending to do anyway, and brought nearly all the partitions online. Overall the detection, investigation, and recovery took the better part of two days, and I cannot help but be impressed by how calm and smoothly the operations ran under such apparent disaster. Arguably the degree of panic in situations like this is an indication of experienced versus inexperienced sysadmins.

The following day went to the hospital to visit Rick and also to see the social worker and doctor to discuss his situation. I signed myself up to pay for his transitional care until VCAT approves my application to receive power of financial attorney in addition to medical attorney. Six months ago he was giving presentations on the admixture of modern humans with archiac hominids, and the peculiar differences between reptilian and mammalian brains. Now, due to rapid onset dementia, he doesn't know what suburb he'd lived in for the past thirty years, the fact he has a brother, or where he was born, and his vocabulary has been reduced to probably less than a dozen words. He'll be spending his days staring out the window or at the television in his room, and that's all there is to it. I'll visit his flat and see if there's any music for him, based on prior studies. It's terrible witnessing such a clever and diverse mind disappear so quickly.

There have been other activities in the past few days. I have preparing heavily for the Isocracy AGM on Wednesday evening which will be addressed by Kos Samaras, assistant state-secretary of the Victorian ALP, speaking on The Reawakening of the Working Class. My own latest written contribution to Isocracy in the past few days has been a piece of the advantages of proportional representation. On Wednesday night we caught up with old university science fiction friend and now Greens activist, Tom S. and friend to see the director's cut of Dark City, the noir SF film which still well holds over the years. Finally, to finish things off last night went to a meeting of Free Software Melbourne at Electron Workshop; whilst it was supposed to be a games night we were distracted by the presence of Margaret Gordon, a documentary maker who wanted to know more about this Linux thing.
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The Situationists famously sought life without dead time and whilst I cannot say my own life fits the wild and tangential excesses of such bohemians, at least not in these elder decades, the past several days have certainly had their share of activity. Nevertheless I do worry sometimes that so much of my work these days - indeed these years - now falls under the category of 'boring but important'. Yet, much of this fits my intellectual disposition. I despair when I see people try to force the complex problems of reality into simply solutions, because these are invariably simply wrong, missing the issues of scope-appropriate solutions, partiality etc. It is not helped when the country's Prime Minister, of all people, remarked "The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only laws that apply in Australia is the law of Australia", in the context of a debate on encryption.

Workwise the week started with the regular two days of Introduction to Linux and High Performance Computing and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing. Not a bad group at all, and there were some plenty of awake individuals, especially on the second day. Later in the week spent a better part of a day carefully working through a particularly troubling install of Gaussian to ensure there had been no precision errors in compilation (their hadn't been, of course). Confirmation was received for a presentation at the HPC Advisory Conference, so there will be another visit to Perth at the end of the month. In addition an abstract has been put in for the Open Stack Summit in Sydney for November. Next week will be a training course for the neurologists at Orygen; I hold this one in very high regard - their work is extremely important.

In more social events, Wednesday night was our regular gaming session, and the second session of Andrew D's Megatraveller campaign, with an unexpected test of the combat system and the acquisition of a starship from religious fanatics. Thursday was the Bastille night evening and we had nephew Luke visiting. True to the day (or at least an educated peasant's version thereof), I cooked a pretty tasty coq au vin with a jug of French red, a selection of cheeses and fruit, and all to the sounds of Quatre mains pour une révolution. We provided a potted story of our journey, along with an exposition of the salacious tales of Serge Gainsbourg. Appropriately I have composed tonight my thoughts about Bastille day, and its contemporary relevance.
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The trip home from Bangkok was relatively painless as I immersed myself in the rather stylish The Man From U.N.C.L.E., followed by most of the first series of Westworld, which does a very good job of taking the basic setting of the original movie, but elaborating significantly on the key themes. I find it somewhat amusing that a lot of my popular culture film and TV catchup occurs whilst on a plane - either that or whilst visiting Brendan E., which we did the day after arrival and, in a somewhat retrospective mood, watched a few episodes of Drawn Together until jet-lag got the better of [ profile] caseopaya.

The next few days were, unsurprisingly, very busy at work as I caught up with the various desk duties. I had a large Monoprix bag of swag from the two conferences to distribute to workmates which were graciously received. There was several tricky software installs to get through, which in at least four cases have succeeded in all their dependencies (and the dependencies of dependencies) but not the top-level application itself. An abstract for a presentation for the HPC Advisory Council conference in Perth in a few weeks, and a poster for the IEEE eScience conference in New Zealand. Just quietly, Spartan reached a million jobs during the week as well.

In a different milestone (kilometre stone?) I reached one hundred thousand points on Duolingo, albeit with some recent setbacks due to their Plus service. To their credit they fixed the break in my streak. Wednesday night was spent with Andrew D., and company with a session of the Elric! RPG (the local author just so happened to have turned 50 the following day as well). Appropriately I've been beavering away on the last words of Papers & Paychecks as well (the bestiary section, yes it has one). Some time has been spent on the most recent Isocracy Network newsletter, which includes articles and 'blogs from the last month. My own contribution is The Shambling Mound: Weeks 16-18.
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It's been several days since I last posted, with a week dominated by work-related activities. There was three days of training which I arranged and sat in on from the West Australian Pawsey supercomputing centre, one introductory course, then OpenMP, then MPI programming. In the meantime my courses I announced in the last post were filled in under twelve hours, so a new set have been advertised for next month. After the Pawsey course was the OpenStack Australia Day, which was really quite good. Large enough for three streams of speakers (business, technical, innovation), but small enough to be inimate and an opportunity to catch up with many co-workers in this space (good period of time spent with Francois from ChCh, Dylan from CSIRO, and Tim from Red Hat). My own talk The Why and How of HPC-Cloud Hybrids with OpenStack was very well received with standing room only in the hall. I will be repeating it on Monday at Telstra.

Other major events of the week included a battle-heavy session of Eclipse Phase last Sunday. The previous session was staging and preparation. This one included the interesting physics of fire and movement on a small asteroid. Finally, the most important out-of-work activity of the week would have to been the Victorian Secular Lobby Annual General Meeting, which had a few new members turn up, along with an excellent presentation on the state of secularism in the Liberal Party by John Bade - a rather sobering presentation on how traditional liberals in that group need to toughen up against the theocrats, especially given that Senator Bernardi has left the party and merged with Family First. It might be a painful split for the Liberal Party, but it they will be stronger for it in the longer run.
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Major work change this week was moving offices; we've left the old warehouse on Lincoln Sq and moved to the Doug McDonnell building. Had a farewell lunch with some of the people at the Sustainability office before we left, and today was working from home whilst the removalists did their thing. Took the opportunity to write the paper I'm presenting at OpenStack Australia Day and which will be replicated a few days later at Telstra. In addition to all this, have also just announced new course for HPC and Linux along with Shell Scripting for HPC, and had a meeting with some Microsoft representatives for setting up an Azure cloud burst partition to Spartan.

Other preparations in the coming week include the Annual General Meeting of the Victorian Secular Lobby with John Bade from the Liberal Party talking on that body's difficult relationship with secularism as the reactionary Christians are on the ascendancy in that body. I wonder at their lack of practical concern for the impoverished sectors of society, asylum seekers and so forth. It's curious how some people are prepared to manipulate the genuine desire for moral character among others and a sense of wonder with existence to acquire power and wealth. I can't imagine that Jesus would have been very impressed with such behaviour.

Wednesday evening was Papers & Paychecks, where the PCs made good progress to Save Our Borderlands, and the puns were flowing thick and fast. There also has been a good deal of work building resistentialist "monsters" for the game. Tonight is Justin A's Eclipse Phase and will be preparing for my version of the same on Sunday. Also have received a copy of the quickstart rules for the new edition of RuneQuest for FreeRPG day.
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Visited [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce for our regular Cheesequest. Amazing fromage of the day was a herbed Corsican. Afterwards played a challenging scenario in Mice and Mystics. This evening did a sence write-up for my long-running HeroQuest Glorantha game. It was the conclusion of a bit of bad luck in gaming sessions this week with the regular Laundry Files game cancelled on Wednesday night, and Eclipse Phase on Friday night. Nevertheless, this has given me more opportunity to work on Papers & Paychecks with the effects of alcohol and drugs and distribution curves added to the repository.

Have finally decided to join the 21st century and bought a chunk of cloud storage for some offsite backups; specifically the Google offering, which integrates well with the rest of its services. Have also discovered and used RClone, which a rather genius piece of work - effectively rsync for various cloud storage vendors. Apropos, a made a talk proposal for OpenStack Australia Day which has been accepted.

Other major events in the past few days has been organising for the AGM of the Victorian Secular Lobby, writing up the major events of 14th and 15th weeks of Lord Dampnut, US President, and attending a great wine tasting at University House for Klein Constantia with a selection of South African and French Savoy wines. The Vin de Constance was pretty amazing; it was sweet liquid gold and with a price to match (on special for a mere $137 for 500ml) .
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It's been a tough week at work; not so much on matters of complexity, but rather on sheer volume. With last week's cluster and cloud computing, there has been in an influx of over two hundred master's level students to the HPC system and the inexperience of quite a few is evident. Such is the effects of an entire generation of computer users who have started with the GUI rather than the command-line. Apropos the planned session with the good folk at the University of Freiburg didn't get up for the International Supercomputing Conference. A German co-author responded pithily, You have to see that we are considered heretics. Well, it wouldn't be the first time, that's for sure. So instead we're looking at a publication in Advanced Computing. Given that most of the paper is already written, a draft can be submitted perhaps the end of next week.

Shortly after that [ profile] caseopaya, [ profile] funontheupfield, and I are heading to New Zealand. Apparently I can't get enough of the place. The latter has never been before so recommendations were put in place for a short trip; Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds, primarily Havelock and Collingwood with opportunities to take short hikes, go spelunking, horse riding, and to see the strange natural landscape that is Farewell Spit. Given that my past two trips to NZ have been almost entirely work-related, I'm rather looking forward to the opportunity to venture 'cross The Ditch entirely for pleasure. Hopefully I will be able to organise dinner in Wellington for the handful of people that I know there.

The native animal population at our home has had a recent increase with a clutch of friendly young magpies deciding that our home is worth a visit, primarily for cat biscuits. A few days later a blue tongue lizard decided to move in. We think it's still in the house somewhere. Our other animal companions however have not been particularly perturbed by our new visitors; apparently our home is an open-plan zoological garden. I must however express some concern with the health of Tramper the rat. Already close to three years old (about ninety in rat-years), he's doing it a bit tough. He's had a bumblefoot infection for a long tiome (which curiously, seems to be healing up), he has a large mammary tumour which is quite inoperable without risk to his life, and now he's has advanced glaucoma in one eye. Tramper now spends much of his time snoozing (even on the rat-scale of things), but also has a good appetite and enjoys scritch time. Despite his illnesses, I think he's going to be around for a few more months.
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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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My last day in New Zealand was spent giving my farewells to the good folk at Nyriad and then travelling to Auckland to give a presentation at the Auckland University of Technology. Since then there has been little opportunity to engage in much else except for my usual work, although the visit to NZ did have immediate benefits with discussions at the University about exactly where to host a proposed new GPU expansion and the relative benefits of Infiniband versus 100GE with RDMA. Nevertheless today has been busy with a preparation for a presentation tomorrow to The Philosophy Forum on "The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics", and attending a festival tonight where we will catch up with Polly Samuel. Next Tuesday I will also be presenting to Linux Users of Victoria on Multicore World 2017.

Being away for a couple of weeks and with another regular GM overseas in has meant some significant gaming withdrawals. Last night played Eclipse Phase with the regular distributed crew across multiple states and countries (will we get [ profile] patchworkkid to join us once he moves to Canada?). Still, I have some recent nerd purchases - the facsimile of Thorin's map I picked up in Hobbiton for [ profile] caseopaya will go well when framed, plus a recent purchase of a stromatolite dice set satisfies my long-standing desire for a "gem set" of gaming dice, and an interest in fossils and bacteria. In addition there has been a fair bit of work on Papers and Paychecks following last week's update, with a recent acquisition of illustrations from Dan 'Smif' Smith, which are looking very good.
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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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In the global village, the local council election of the United States of America is certainly the most important. Like many others I was rather surprised (and quite horrified) by the election of Donald Trump this week. The psephologists were universally wrong. But at least they're doing the right thing and working out why. There has been a lot of silly opinion pieces trying to justify why the result occured, but the pre-election claims of Michael Moore turned out to be most prescient, not only for guessing that Trump would win but where he would win; namely by a failure to inspire the working-class states of the Great Lakes - that is really the only reason that Clinton lost; Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Unsurprisingly, I am currently in the midst of an article for the Isocracy Network on the election results with a few prescriptive solutions, the most obvious being don't ignore the working class. It also serves as a good focus for the Isocracy AGM (FB link) next Saturday at Trades Hall with Dr. Hans Baer speaking on the relationship between enviromentalism and socialism. This is certainly an issue which has relevance for the occasionally strained relationship here between the Australian Labor Party and the Greens. Similar lessons can be learned in this context; the importance of the environment may be paramount, but the protection of the enviroment will only occur with the support of the working class.

Speaking of work, in my fairly-well paid technocratic role it has been a very demanding week having returned from overseas. I fielded what I could what on the other side of the world, but the bulk of the effort was carried by NinjaDan who is really feeling the weight of what has been an increasingly quantity of technical requests, and certainly far beyond the capacity of 1 EFT looking after two HPC systems. In other work-related news [ profile] caseopaya has received a new job offer with a good pay rise and engaged in the delightful act of handing a resignation letter to a firm which won the Golden Turd for poor work conditions.

In home life we still have the delightful Jane keeping us company at least for a few more days. There's big hole in the ceiling of our dining-room due to the effects of the water pipe issues from before we left for overseas and one in the back of the wardrobe in our attic bedroom which probably leads to Naria or somesuch. The Owners Corporation is currently having a debate on whether to keep the Courtesy Bus or not, which led me to make a post on the appropriate closed group on Facebook where I illustrated some of the unspoken costs of getting rid of it; it seems that most people who engaged in that discussion are also supportive in retaining the service. Finally, last night went to visit Brendan who has been having his usual unluck with housemates. It was good to catch up as always, and we laughed ourselves through the quite moving NZ film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which of course reminded me that I need to visit the home country again.
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The official launch date of the Spartan HPC-Cloud hybrid rapidly approaches. A transition course and workshop was run on Monday which resulted in a few more active users online, helped by having MATLAB licensing sorted out (frustrating Intel compilers are next). Next step will be getting a major project from a climate and marine science researcher to provide an initial major case example. Will also be attending Questnet next month at the Gold Coast, and have submitted a paper for eResearch Australasia.

Thursday night was another session of Laundry Files Australia. We've played this more or less fortnightly for close to a year and a half, so we're looking for a change. I am tempted to run a variant of New Statesmen or even the RPG based on Jeremiah. Friday night was a Mars Eclipse Phase session, wrapping up the Dance with the Devil. Yesterday was a cheesequest day with [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce, which involved a lengthy game of Theomachy where the righteous forces of Ares were victorious. Tomorrow will be a new chapter on the Eclipse Phase Rimward tale.

As metioned in the last post, have been working on a series of reviews for last week's New Order and Australian Chamber Orchestra concert. The intention is do reviews of the New Order conversation, the concert, and the album. This week, only managed to complete the review of the concert, which is now on Rocknerd. As it is a long weekend this week, there is some possibility to complete the others as well.
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Three new articles added this week RPG Review, including my own piece on The Undead in Eclipse Phase. Have also elaborated on some proposals for extending the Rez Points system in the Eclipse Phase Companion. The fourth RPG Review newsletter will be released this weekend as well. Also, ran another session of Fear Itself on Thursday, which went as well (but even stranger) than the last session with the recursive scenario of roleplaying characters in a LARP (not unlike the very cheesy, Knights of Badassdom).

On the way back from the game [ profile] funontheupfield made the observation that my spending habits had not changed from the time that since I was an undergraduate, with the exception of a couple of relatively minor 'trophy items' (I'm a sucker for nice pens, mechanical watches, and really old books). It was something that I believed myself but it was good to hear it from others. However, because life provides a narrative in the past tense, I received a not insubstantial tax return from the ATO for several years of returns (I admit I had been treating them like a bank). It was quite a welcome discovery, although now I have the issue of working out what do with this additional cash.

Work was pretty turgid this week, pretty much spent the better part of the least three days getting a greater software stack optimised and installed on Spartan, so when users come on-board there's a better range of applications. We're using what is perhaps a misnomer, EasyBuild, which essentially is a collection of Python scripts for primarily source-code installations. I am not convinced yet that it serves any greater functionality to standard configuration scripts. Both of course come with the usual issues of dependencies, missing libraries, and so on.
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Attended the University of Melbourne Secular Society meeting on Tuesday which debated the often troubled relationship between Islam and the secular west and especially in relation with historical contexts and the prospects for change. Following evening was the annual general meeting of the Victorian Secular Lobby at Parliament House with MLA Maree Edwards addressing the group on the Bendigo mosque issue. Afterwards we visited the Assembly where the state member for Yan Yean (who I used to work with) recognised me from the floor and, in perhaps most unparliamentary fashion, blew me a kiss (of course I reciprocated). At least some politicians haven't lost a sense of humour.

One person who had a great deal of humour about said profession was playwright and commentator Bob Ellis who recently died. I spent a fair bit of time in his company in the late 1990s, catching up with him in Hobart (ALP National Conference), Sydney, and Melbourne. It was in the former location that (after several drinks) a young journalism student introduced herself in a gushing manner: "Oh Mr. Ellis, I am so proud to meet you, I've read all your work" etc., etc. Bob, stood up, tucked his shirt in, shook her hand and responded with a boyish grin: "Don't worry dear, I won't get you pregnant". All this said, he was terrible at psephology; his political partisanship I fear managed to get in the way of pessimistic (but usually more correct) interpretations.

Last Sunday's GURPS Middle Earth game was cancelled so our group appropriately played the Lord of the Rings boardgame followed by the Lord of the Rings Trivia Game, both of which are really quite good. The former, a cooperative game, is known to be quite challenging, but we managed to destroy the Ring before becoming corrupted etc. In the latter, Michael C's., extraordinary knowledge on the subject left us all in utterly the dust. Of some (specialist) note is that the Yahoo Groups RuneQuest 3 list has moved to the RPG Review Cooperative - of wider interest is the horrid work required to extract the data from Yahoo!'s ugly and annoying format. Apropos last night was "season two" our Laundry Files game - where witchraft and computing has taken a very strange turn.

Work this week consisted of conducting a training course on Monday which was fairly well received, albeit with some teething problems with our beta-release cluster/cloud hybrid and a tag-team teaching agenda. Most of the rest of the week has consisted on keeping the clusters functioning and software installs. Today has brought some insight and amusement however with news of a person who deleted data from some 1500+ customers with a single command and a very honest IT job ad. Reminder to self: after recently having a bit of a chat with Peter Murray-Rest courtesy of some work-related activity several days ago, I must have a closer look at his journal aggregation and search project.
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It's been quite a week, one of significant stress over for a number of reasons. The first issue was a particularly deadly script which took out our cluster for the better part of a day as it set a variable to null and then proceeded to attempt to copy the entire cluster into a user's home directory; a good argument for quotas. Later in the week, despite having ensured that some terabytes available, the projects directory (which does have a quota) also filled up, which has necessitated shuffling data around. Researchers have been using the system as a 'bit bucket' for a number of years, which really is inappropriate but you know what researchers are like - smart enough to take advantage of every opportunity that they can take; they have skill levels in scrounging. All said it has been good having [ profile] imajica_lj in the office; he's curmudgeonly but perspicacious when it comes to such matters.

The Isocracy Network has completed a submission on the Trans Pacific Partneship, just in on time. The take away line is "we support a Trans-Pacific Partnership, just not this one". The submission, alas, is far from complete due to time constraints. Next Saturday is a planned meeting with the author of The Booger Peril. Unfortunately the author has "some history" with parts of the left, to put it mildly, as a half-assed google search would have revealed. The author's point of view on the matter at Fairweather Comrades. All of which puts us in a very difficult situation; I just wanted to see a discussion of a science fiction book by an author who has recently been published in Overland and Counterpunch.

In much better news, I completed the language tree for Esperanto on duolingo - my first golden owl! By current reckoning I should complete French in a month, German a month after that, and then I'll work on Spanish. I have given up, at least for the time being, my attempt to do seven languages simultaneously, but I'm glad to have had the initial exposure. I still consider myself (and I suspect anyone else would) a complete beginner in Esperanto, but I've certainly at least been exposed to an extensive part of the vocabulary and the rather brilliantly simple rules of grammar.

In social events, ran a session of Fear Itself on Thursday night, which worked very well with the use of skills as a resource pool, a stripped-down version of the same game system used in Esoterroists on Trial Against Cthulhu. On Saturday visited Brendan E., and worked our way through the rest of the first season of Ash versus the Evil Dead, which continues to impress. We were also given possession of a large collection of excellent 80s and 90s vinyl (Brendan doesn't have a record player). Today participated in a session of GURPS Middle-Earth which involved clearing out a raiders in a Dwarven tomb and included one very annoyed Dwarven wight.
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Completed a review of Libris Mortis this morning which has also been sent to Next review will Open Graves for 4th Edition. Also this evening finished adding almost thirty GURPS books to the RPG Review store. On Monday members of the RPG Review Cooperative will be going to the Astor so see a couple of genre classics; Escape from New York and The Fog. The Cooperative goes will with a bit of an advertising splash at a gaming open day this weekend

Work continues with its usual array of interesting technical challenges, including fixing a quirky bug that was putting jobs into batchhold. Subequent days were spent on bring the new HPC/Cloud online to a minimal state for the course that starts next week, of which I'm apparently making a guest lecturer appearance. In the time that remained, worked on bringing some somewhat mis- and underconfigured system units online for the Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics. To finish with a bit of amusement; Microsoft has developed a Linux-based networking system for its cloud computing.

Dean Sayers has written an article on the impediments to peace on the Isocracy website, as the cessation of hostilities seems to be holding on day one. This lull in the fighting is solely to let humanitarian aid get through, and by no way suggests that the warring parties are anywhere near the negotiating table yet, let alone for the possibility of genuine political reform, and Kurdish self-determination. Nevertheless, for the people who have been living under seige, having a day without air strikes after years of bombing must be a very welcome relief.
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Delightful Saturday evening with Brendan E., who is a arthouse tv expert without realising it. The Throways was a much better film that most reviewers suggest, and Ash vs The Evil Dead was quite hilarious. It is interesting from a retrospective that Ash Williams has become such a arthouse culture icon (Number 1 Greatest Horror Movie Character according to Empire Magazine); he's a complete idiot, but sufficiently brave and tough to make up for it. Apropos I have currently working on reviews of the presentation of the undead in Dungeons & Dragons with Libris Mortis (3rd edition) and Open Grave (4th edition).

Sunday was a gathering of The Philosophy Forum, another good turnout. Grame Lindemeyer presented on Data, Information, Meaning, Intelligence and Consciousness - rather overlooking the importance of language in all this I'm afraid. After the presentation chaired the committee meeting of the RPG Review Cooperative and covered a lot of ground, before running the second session of Eclipse Phase which has seen the PCs end up as agents for Firewall. Tonight was our mashup between The Secrets of Cats and Call of Cthulhu.

Last night attended a presentation by Laure Akai, Secretary of the International Workers Association, on the practice of anarcho-syndicalism. Quite well attended, it was a potted tour of the various small chapters around the world and their very modest successes with direct action methods. It was organised by the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation of Australia which I may have sympathies with their end goals, but their purist restrictive membership means that it is not possible for me to join. Overall it reminds me why I am not involved in what are ineffectual and purist anarchist political groups.

Work goes well; swapped out some long-overdue dead disks on the storage array, cleared the stale NFS handles on some compute nodes, and now have Edward running with more processors and with more jobs on it than I've ever seen. Have also finished by presentation for Multicore World next week in New Zealand. Work keeps on making noises about wanting to send me to the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas.
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Brought almost everything related to the cluster back online this week, hitting 90% utilisation by Friday, with reviving a downed node saved for other's use. Also this week have dropped into ResBaz. There was a couple of hundred people involved, so it's been quite a show, and ran into Yaokang W., who is interested in the fascinating field of using the Natural Language Tookit in case law. In a couple of weeks I'll be travelling to Wellington to present and MC at Multicore World. My paper has puns in the title; A Laconic HPC with an Orgone Accumulator.

The Isocracy Network has a new article by William Hathaway on a Long Term Strategy for the Left, but also a timely new national policy for asylum seekers developed by Damien Kingsbury, myself, and other troublemakers. 'Timely' is used in the disturbing context of the High Court deciding that the children of asylum seekers born in Australia could still be sent to offshore detention. Attended the large (and mainly unreported) snap protest at the State Library for those of us still opposed to the torture of babies (has it really come to this?).

Three other events attended this week; GURPS Middle Earth and Laundry Files games on last Sunday and Thursday respectively, the latter quite notable for using characters and setting from The Man Who Would Be King. Went to Robina C's et. als, exhibition on Friday at The Food Court; an interesting space and indicitive of an area that has been over-developed - nows the artists are moving in.


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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

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