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Impending Funerals, Courses, Gaming

Anne Kay, whom I had known for many years through the Unitarian Church, died last Tuesday having turned 93 that day. An independent thinker, a genuine Unitarian, and a person with a subtle sense of humour, she had been well for a number of months, so I can say it was a surprise. What was surprising was her express wish that I conduct the funeral service for her; which will be held this upcoming Tuesday 26th of July at 2pm at the Unitarian Church. I can presume that work is going to give me the afternoon off.

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

Two gaming sessions this week, on Thursday and Friday nights respectively. Thursday night was a session of Laundry with implications that supernatural activity is reaching a critical level and the agency is preparing to become the emergency government, "just in case". Friday night went to Gatekeeper Games for their "dice and drinks" evening, where Karl B., was running a playtest of the upcoming John Carter RPG, which seems to fit well with the genre so far. Next issue of RPG Review is going well, with just over half the page count filled.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/214673.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: calm
  • Current Music: The Pleasures of Electricity, John Foxx and Louis Gordon
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Productivity in Many Realms

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 ( 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 drivethrurpg.com 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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/214424.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: accomplished
  • Current Music: Lost, Armageddon Dildos
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The Abolition of Crime and Other Presentations

Utter smashed by a migraine for much of Sunday which turned out to be a cold, I spent fair portion of the last week in varying states of illness. Took Monday off and will be working from home today (well enough to work, sick enough to be a vector). Despite the illness gave my address the Unitarians on Sunday on The Abolition of Crime, which had a fair turnout (especially given the season) and good discussion, and apparently is getting a bit of circulation.

At the end of the presentation I turned to the matters of the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's decision to invade Iraq, which unsurprising to some, makes it very clear that the invasion was illegal, and therefore a crime against peace (not a "war crime" per se). I have taken the opportunity to raise a few comments on that matter as well, suggesting that Australia needs it own equivalent of the Chilcot Inquiry.

This evening, assuming I am up for it, I'll be attending a meeting and sharing a post-presentation panel with James Hughes, transhumanist sociologist. Tomorrow, will be presenting at Linux Users of Victoria on GnuCOBOL. Over the next six weeks I have weekly day-classes to run at the University of Melbourne on Introduction to High Performance Computing, Edward to Spartan Transition, and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing. There is also an impending review of 65daysofstatic's latest album being composed courtesy of [personal profile] reddragdiva.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/214027.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: sick
  • Current Music: Music for an Infinite Universe, 65daysofstatic
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Escaping Questnet 2016

Spent the previous two days at Questnet 2016 at the aforementioned open air luxury prison known as Royal Pines. Managed to escape for a while to visit the Botanic Gardens, which was pleasant enough, but apart from that it was conference, conference, and nothing but the conference. It was just as well that the events were very well catered, and the vendors had plenty of interesting items to view and discuss, as the quality of the talks were certainly among the worst I have encountered.

To give a summary of the issues, some (especially the keynotes) were so high level the ground level of operations. Others were delivered as if the attendees were primary school children. Those that had worthwhile content, did so with insufficient attention to implementation. One informative presentation was by Cisco on their Digital Network Architecture, although it filled me with fear and loathing. The major exception to the rule was a dual Dell/Nvidia breakfast presentation which included a great deal of information on developments in machine learning and the hardware and software implementations. It included a little but of Dell spruiking, which they acknowledged, but that was tolerable under the circumstances.

In any case have returned to foggy Melbourne. Two upcoming events include an address tomorrow at the Unitarians on The Abolition of Crime: New Principles in Criminology and Justice, and next Saturday, presenting at Linux Users of Victoria on An Introduction to GNU Cobol. Tomorrow will also run a session of Eclipse Phase where the characters will be engaging in one of the more terrifying activities - Gatecrashing to an alien planet. Also, have made a solid start on a semi-secret project that will be officially announced at the end of the month.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/213823.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: relaxed
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Election, Questnet, Duolingo

The results of the Australian election is still ongoing, and despite a good swing to Labor, it seems the LNP Coalition will be returned with a minority government. As always, The Pollbludger gives the most up-to-date analysis and count. The conservatives in the LNP have taken no time to turn on the more liberal Malcolm Turnbull who, already held in check with for any policy initiatives, with calls for him to step down. The campaign is a significant credit for the Labor Party who faced a media that overwhelmingly endorsed the Coalition, and actually made policy initiatives the main point of contention. The possibility remains that if nobody can gain confidence of the House, that new elections will be called.

On a completely different tangent, I am currently at Questnet 2016. at the Royal Pines. To be honest, there isn't a great deal on the agenda that looks especially of interest of me (the data storage talks are perhaps useful), and there is far too many IT security talks (as if that isn't a racket). Bugging the vendors about hardware we need however will be worthwhile. The venue itself is of come interest; set several kilometers inland on a golf-course and surrounded by suburbia, the triangular-shaped building has the feel of something of an open-plan luxury prison from a 80s science-fiction film. I took a walk around the grounds yesterday afternoon, studiously ignoring the all the signs that said that it was meant to be limited playing golf, and spent some time in the company of the various waterbirds that inhabit the artificial lakes in the vicinity.

Finished last night with the completion of my third Duolingo skill tree; German. I cannot pretend that I am enamoured by the sound of the language, the inconsistency of the pronoun 'Sie', the sheer range of definite articles according to declension and contraction, and especially the V2 word order. I also found that despite much commonality with English, there were many words that could not be recognised intuitively from an Anglophone perspective (unlike French). Still, I shall nevertheless soldier on with this tongue primarily for familial reasons (and maybe even technical purposes), despite a personal preference for the Romance languages. Speaking of which, my next owl objectives are the West-Iberian languages; Spanish and Portuguese.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/213582.html.
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Spartan Classes and Launch, Election Rants, Gaming Updates

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!

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/213464.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: relaxed
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Brexit, Australian Election, Gaming Updates

As everyone knows, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU, albeit by a margin of 1.9%. The key demographic groups voting for 'Leave' came from of lower income, lower education, old age, and anti-immigration, with the latter providing probabily the strongest determinant. The result has serious repercussions; already the Scots, who overwhelmingly supported Remain, have called for a second independence vote, and in Northern Ireland which also voted to Remain there are calls for a reunification referendum. Nationalists on the continent, such as the Front national in France and astoundingly misnamed Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands have argued for Leave referenda in their own country, further wishing to promote the closing of the European mind. The economy, of course, has taken a battering with two trillion wiped off the global markets, leaving the UK staring down a recession.

In the distant British colony of Australia, we have an Federal election next week. Opinion polls (for what they're worth) suggest a close election, although it is the marginals that matter and Labor is still struggling with the Herculean task of gaining twenty one seats. The loathed Tony Abbott is making a tilt on a comeback based on Turnbull's woeful and dithering performance as Prime Minister. Labor has raised the spectre of a possible privitisation of Medicare first raised in February this year. The critical issue, as I've mentioned in previous posts, is if Labor can hammer home its economic credentials and point out that the Coalition has introduced the worst fall in living standards since records began. I honestly don't understand why Labor isn't hammering this point home.

Three main gaming sessions in the past week, as normal. Last Sunday was GURPS Middle Earth with our GM promising to provide a summary of what lose ends there are in the narrative. Wednesday night was a session of Laundry Files which involved a haunted house scenario in an inner urban environment. Friday night was Eclipse Phase Mars wrapping up a few lose ends from the "Chain Reaction" series. On the latter point I've written some rules modifications which I've circulated in the appropriate forum. Apropos the next issue of RPG Review is almost ready, just in the final editing phase now. Also the Cooperative has purchased a block of ten ISBNs, so publications will commence in the very near future. We have items such as Verge from Nic Moll, Gulliver's Trading Company from Karl Brown, and I have a secret project to be announced in the next issue of RPG Review.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/213222.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: sick
  • Current Music: The Best of, The Art of Noise
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Aesthetic Matters, Election Commentary

I don't advise a haircut, man... Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain.


In an attempt to delve into the utterly trivial, I'm 'blogging about my hair. I think it was around 2002 when I last went to a hairdresser. Since then I've simply let it grow, tied it back and when it reaches a "it's too long" state, I snip several inches off the ponytail. Well, it's certinly reached that recently, reaching the lumbar. So I handed caseopaya and she snipped several inches off and now I have a vaguely concave bob. People seem surprised that (a) it was done at home and (b) it took about three minutes. The approach fits a general approach to personal aesthetics; that is, a modicum of style without spending too much time and effort on the matter. Speaking of such aesthetic matters, I have completed a review of New Order's Music Complete on Rocknerd.

The long-drawn out winter election continues will pollsters with pundits thinking that Labor will just fall short with two weeks to go. I'll readily admit that I don't particular care for the opposition leader, Bill Shorten; I've seen him operate up close and personal and it's not my way of doing politics (which is possibly why I'm not in his shoes). But it seems that he's going for the jugular in these last two weeks and doing surprising well at it. There was a smashing QandA broadcast on Monday and tonight he left the Prime Minister looking tired and directionless on a leader's debate on Facebook (copy of the debate available). Shorten and Labor seem to have the full slate of thoroughly sensible positive policies whereas the government seems to have nothing. For liberals in the Liberal Party, they must be very disappointed with Turnbull, who comes across as directionless, dithering, and waffling. If this goes on I would not be surprised to see Labor pull off a surprising victory.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212891.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: thoughtful
  • Current Music: Music Complete, New Order
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Spartan, Gaming Weekend, New Order Review

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 hathhalla and 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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212530.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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Sydney and New Order

Went to Sydney with caseopaya on Thursday for a few days, including a concert booking at the Sydney Opera House to see New Order in conversation with Mark Reeder on Friday night and then in concert with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The conversation event was good if not brilliant, but the concert was really something special. I have not had much more than a passing interest in New Order since Substance 1987 as most of the music after that point is not really to my taste. But this really was a superb concert, and in a sense I think the ACO made an enormously important contribution - from their opening rendition of Elegia onward.

Whilst also on Sydney had dinner on Thursday night in Pyrmont with laptop006, John August, and Jiri B. The following day went wandered around Potts Point, Paddington, and Elizabeth Bay, spending quite a lot of time in Ampersand Bookstore and Cafe, which is quite a serious dangerous place for book lovers to visit, whereas a lot of Saturday was spent visiting more bookstores, gaming stores (quite a haul from Games Paradise), and record stores, primarily in Darlinghurst and the city.

The weather, it must be said, was quite humid and stormy throughout the three days and is getting worse with strong winds and floods. Our flight back to Melbourne was delayed for over two hours, with one hour spent sitting on the tarmac as other runways were closed on account of the weather. I could help but notice the absence of cats - zero spotted - and the plethora of dogs - about a hundred spotted. Where has Sydney's cats gone?

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212379.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
  • Current Music: Music Complete, New Order