Standard

Alien Day, RPG Sessions

Last Tuesday was Alien Day, which we 'celebrated' by attending a packed double-feature at the Astor. Reebok managed to embarrass themselves by releasing Ripley's stomper boots in a manner that Ripley wouldn't have bought. They are, of course, a great pair of films for both horror in the first case, and a highly quotable action film in the second. I think the third film is good in its own right, but the wheels on the narrative had pretty much fallen off at that point. After the film discussed whether as a biological specimen, the facehugger stage seems to be an unnecessary complexity. Next year I think I'll run a session of the somewhat maligned Aliens RPG.

Played Laundry Files on Thursday and Eclipse Phase last night. The former involved investigating the retrospective myth of the Slender Man, although we were a little distracted by a member's donation of library items. The latter session, with some juxtaposition, included both negotiations with an interrogation expert and attendance at a young socialite's new sleeve party (kids these days, eh?). That session also had an interruption in the form of a high-speed utility vehicle taking down a light pole outside the house. Both sessions were characteristed by a high level of social table banter, which is fine, but to be honest we didn't progress either story particularly far.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/210330.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: groggy
Tags: ,
Standard

RPG Review Developments, Shriekback, ANZAC Cheesequest

The fourth issue of the RPG Review Cooperative newsletter, Crux Australi, was released on Saturday. It includes a couple of very notable developments, the first being the establishment of a members library which has already received a significant additional donations. The other item of note was receiving an article from Lewis Pulsipher. On Sunday played a session of GURPS Middle Earth; a good mystery, a dash of magical realism, and a quick action-conflict scene to conclude.

This weekend I also penned a review of the latest studio album from Shriekback, 'Without Real Strings or Fish'. They've had several "good-average" albums over the past five years or so, but this one really hits the mark with a combination of their ethereal sounds alternating with powerful 'big band' post-punk chorus and lyrical content based around evolution and moral reasoning. It's not quite up there with their best earlier material such as Tench or Oil and Gold, but it certainly in the same ball park.

With a wry sense of aesthetics, caseopaya and I held a cheesquest event with ser_pounce and hathhalla on this publc holiday. Whilst a usual fare was on the table (Slovakian sheep's milk easter cheese, tilsit, gorgonzola, and vegan substitute), it was also necessary to have ANZAC biscuits with Turkish bread and hummus. In recognition of the Canadian forces (and our Canadian visitor), the biscuits were made with maple syrup rather than the traditional golden syrup. Afterwards we played Cards Against Humanity and watched a few episodes of the final season of Moral Orel which was a little disturbing.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/209996.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
Standard

RPG Review Updates, Taxing Times, Easybuild

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 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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/209777.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Music: Jungle Of The Senses, Shriekback
Standard

Eclipse Phase Double, Linux Events, Misc.

The past weekend included two sessions of Eclipse Phase. Friday night's game was the first chapter of Dance with the Devil, which was basically information gathering and not terribly exciting. Sunday's session in contrast was action-packed from the very start involving releasing psychotics in an asylum, hijacking a train, and shooting their way out of a starport. The consistent exposure of the combat system does make me wonder whether it could not be streamlined in the dice-rolling and made more descriptive in its effects. Later this week I'll write up some modifications to the system and add them to the Eclipse Phase Companion, after consultation with the other players and reviews on the game's forum.

Appropriately this Saturday was a Linux Users of Victoria beginners meeting with an talk by xanni_au on gaming with Linux, which will also provide the foundation for an article for RPG Review. An appropriate follow-up was at work today which was a day-long training session for some fifteen UniMelb postgraduates with NinjaDan providing the information for the NeCTAR cloud platform whilst I provided the information on the new Spartan HPC system.

On the aesthetic dimension, visited a local record store as part of Record Store Day, reverting to my adolescence by buying a few items from the early 80s. Later that evening caught up with Adrian A., who was visiting from the UK. A group of Perth expatriates made up the small crowd, visiting Penny Blue Bar, followed by the Nant Whiskey Bar next door, in Drivers Lane. It was a good night with a good collection of drinks. It must be said Melbourne does have a impressive collection of small bars in its various laneways and these were good choices.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/209502.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
Standard

Secular Meetings, Bob Ellis, Gaming Updates, IT News

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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/209292.html.
Standard

Work and Technology, Gaming Disappointments, Secularism

A fair bit of work this week has been preparing for courses for an introduction to the Spartan hybrid HPC/Cloud and the NeCTAR cloud starting on Monday which will run weekly. My side of the material is available on github. Apropos, I've had another encounter with odd password policies from a university which has led to another 'blog post: Password Praise in the Future Tense. Tuesday night attended a BuzzConf technology meeting; interesting technologies but the presentations were at such a high level it made it an utterly low-quality advertorial.

Have been less than happy with the state of gaming this week; Sunday's Eclipse Phase game was less exciting than I hoped it to be (although explorations of character schizophrenia were promising), Thursday's session was cancelled, and this coming Sunday's GURPS Middle Earth session has been suspended. On the other hand, my review of Open Grave has been published on rpg.net, and I've penned a small piece on Pyrrhic victories in HeroQuest.

The Victorian Secular Lobby will be holding it's Annual General Meeting this Wednesday at Parliament House; the guest speaker will be Maree Edwards, the state member for Bendigo West, who will be talking on the politics of the Bendigo mosque. Many secularists were rather slow in defending the rights of Bendigo Muslims to worship peacefully when this was a major issue earlier this year, forgetting that secularism is not antithetical to religion, but independent of it (some more fundamentalist atheists, I would suggest, are not actually secularists). Hopefully Maree's presentation will illustrate why religious bigotry has no place in secularism.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/209080.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
  • Current Music: Encore Ad Infinitium, Shriekback
Standard

Cat Saves Rat (part II), Birthday, Markets, Misc.

Many people think they are servants for a strange cat. Well, our cat truly is special. He keeps pet rats, or at least his thinks he does, differentiating between indoor rats (his friends) and outdoor rats (tasty invaders). Last week, for the second time, one of our rats (the appropriately named Scamper) managed to sneak out the front door and spend a couple of days in front garden. Mac Lir protected the area until the rat was located and rescued. I heard once that Manx were once kept as guard cats, a seemingly ridiculous notion. Nevertheless, if that is true, Mac is living up to his history.

Today is caseopaya's birthday, not quite making her a poisson d'avril. As a little gift I found a shell and rhodium cameo with marcasites. Tonight we're planning on going to see a comedy troupe who were big in the 1980s and early 90s but have been largely forgotten now; the Doug Anthony All-Stars, which I guess will mean another review on the ever-growing pile for Rocknerd.

On Thursday evening wrote a short article on issues that I've been considering for quite a while; that is the relationship between the model of perfect competition (and resultant 'free market' political orientation that results), and it difference between the model and actual markets. The assumption that free markets generate perfect competition is probably the worst intellectual fallacy of our modern age, but I am not convinced by anti-market ideology that many opponents have. Rather I am leaning towards the notion of interventions from without that encourage the conditions that perfect competition is meant to have.

It's been a fairly quiet past couple of days at work; the two clusters humming away without much drama, which is really good for the new system with its first 100 beta users giving it a run. It's given me the opportunity to get an abstract in for Questnet 2016, complete some workplace training, work through the planned compute cloud training modules and so forth. Finally, pleasant surprise was the planned new edition of Barbarian Kings looks like its coming back again after a short hiatus, for which I'm writing some material.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/208702.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: content
  • Current Music: Without Real String or Fish, Shriekback
Standard

Rocknerd Reviews, Gaming etc, Film Night

Rocknerd has two reviews from me from this weekend; a long-overdue review of The Fall concert from last year, and more recent review of the Jesus and Mary Chain concert. Coming soon is a review of The Residents and the Mogwai compilation triple album, 'Central Belters'. Also took the opportunity today to alphabetically sort my CD and vinyl collection; around 1300 items in total. Whilst I possibly have too much music on large physical media, there is a lot of memories tied up in many of those items.

The petition mentioned in the last post has gone reasonably well, but is beginning to slow down, which means that it is time for stage two - the general media release and targetting publishers and writers. In other gaming activities played a GURPS/Call of Cthulhu crossover with Bunnies and Burrows on Sunday (being Easter and all), followed by attendance at the Conquest Convention on Monday for more Call of Cthulhu. I have penned two new articles for RPG Review journal this weekend as well, Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead, a supplement for fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons, and The Scythe of Thanatos, an artifact-level item for third edition.

Sunday was also the opportunity to attend the ever-delightful Astor Cinema again to see My Neighbor Totoro and Porco Rosso, which was also advertised as an RPG Review Cooperative event. On the latter, I have made a quick post concerning the politics on as an Isocracy Network blog. Quite a fascinating character is Hayao Miyazaki. I can certainly see how the politics of the Italian era captured his imagination and correlated with his Japanese outlook on similar issues.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/208438.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Music: Central Belters, Mogwai
Standard

Lectures and Linux, The Residents, D&D Petition

Gave a lecture this afternoon at the University of Melbourne on the Edward and Spartan HPC systems as part of the postgraduate course on cluster and cloud computing; seemed to go well. The Spartan HPC/Cloud hybrid system is certainly novel, if not unique, in its architecture and it's great to have come online with students from the course to provide the initial beta-test group. UoM students will also be receiving several training instances from me in the coming weeks in the form of HPC and Cloud Computing courses.

Wednesday night went to see The Residents perform their Shadowland concert (Youtube link, of Vooruit Gent). Their lengthy avant-garde peformance art is like a punk version of Laurie Anderson - which is somewhat reminiscent of J.G. Thirlwell with a carnivalesque motifs. I like the style and I particularly liked the concert. But it does remind me that I have now four outstanding reviews for Rocknerd. Just as well there is a long weekend to see if I can through these.

Under the aegis and approval of the RPG Review Cooperative, I have started a petition to WoTC to release Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition under an Open Game License (like 3rd edition and 5th edition). This is not about whether one like 4th edition or not - but rather of equality and fairness (someone will probably make a SJW comment about it). Appropriately the third Crux Australi newsletter has been released, including mention of the weekend's gaming convention, Conquest.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/208193.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: busy
  • Current Music: Shadowland, The Residents
Tags: , , ,
Standard

Linux and Work, SF and Social Events, Race Conditions

Attended the LUV Beginners talk today at InfoExchange with Andrew Pam giving a good presentation on the history of version control with supplementary contributions by Mike Hewitt. Have volunteered myself to give a talk at the main meeting in a fortnight's time on UNUMS - how to do computation without error. Apropos, recently a small GPU cluster illustrated its power in cracking passwords. This has implications for some institutions, including a certain university I have taught at, which had a terrible password policy. I could not help but write a few words about it. Work this week included preparation for upcoming conferences (OpenStack Australia, QuestNet), the lecture I'm giving for Cluster and Cloud Computing, creating more space on the Edward cluster, and organising weekly research training sessions.

On Monday we went to visit hathhalla and ser_pounce for the regular cheesequest and played Journey : Wrath of Demons, which went very well, although I do note that many of this big, expensive cooperative boardgames are very much in style of traditional battle scenes from traditional tabletop roleplaying games. Also enjoyed the company of their new household ferrets, very silly creatures. Friday night was another session of the Eclipse Phase Mars storyline where we smuggled weapon-grade uranium to the social democrats (I'm sure they'll use it responsibly). On other science fictions interests now have a copy of The Booger Peril courtesy of an invitation only book launch, and have also received responses and published an interview with John Snead, on of the most prolific writers in the RPG world.

Over the past week I've been thinking intensely on race conditions, but not in computer science. Rather, I've been thinking about them in terms of the sociology of crises, for example, the ability of disparate world political systems and interests to engage in effective unified action on global warming before a critical point is reached - in other words following the metrics of the Doomsday Clock, and noting that we're now in the same 'time' as we were globally as 1984.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/207906.html.