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Home Improvements II, Teaching, Philosophy

The past four nights have been spent moving furniture out of the two storerooms on the second level to either the attic bedroom, or the ground floor lounge-room and dining room. This included a total of some 16 bookcases, a similar number of 50L tubs, also full of books, a large desk, a filing cabinet, at least a half-dozen desktop systems, a spare bed, and other assorted bits-and-pieces. I'm covered in bruises as a result and feeling a bit sore. It has been, of course, some 10 years since all this furnishing has been shifted. Mac the cat has gone into hiding somewhere. Anyway it's all done just in time for the flooring people to come in tomorrow, rip up the thirty-year old carpet (largely destroyed by past pet rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats), and replace it with a new underlay and some nice laminate boards. I rather suspect that the rest of the house will have to wait until returning from Europe, which is a mere couple of weeks which is, of course, plenty of time to organise hotels and trains, right?

When not shifting several thousand books and associated meubles around the place, I've been at work, primarily engaged in teaching on Monday and Tuesday; the usual classes, Introduction to Linux and HPC and Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for HPC. I admit I was pretty tired during the courses, but I can run at least these ones whilst almost dead, I am sure. This said, every class I do try to introduce or modify the content slightly, and this one expanded the archiving options to include various tools for viewing archives without uncompressing them. The classes were pretty switched on, and there is one particular project that we'll follow up on, seeing how much parallelisation we can force out of large coastal dataset for Delft3D. Horrible software, but then again a lot of scientific software is written with idiosyncratic approaches, often ignoring well-known conventions in favour of what the development group things is a good idea for their environment. "We found this software useful, and hope you will too". Well, as the Germans say Hoffnung ist keine Strategie.

The next two days I'll be working from home. I have a small mountain of work which is suitable from such a location (including the Delft3D issue) and it means I can be around to let the tradies in and their work on-site. I also have a paper revision for Open Philosophy to submit on reproduibility issues in computer modelling, along with an phenomenology paper to finish for the journal Philosophy Study. Fortunately both are pretty much done, so they're not going to be too time-consuming by any stretch of the imagination. Actually, I probably have several philosophy papers that I probably should get published, mainly from various talks that I've presented over the past ten years or so. I really want to see Mary, the Swampy Philosophical Zombie, Is In Your Chinese Room! Problems With Reductionist Theories of Consciousness, and not only for the title.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/279714.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: sore
  • Current Music: Amputechture, The Mars Volta
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Home Improvements, Social Activities, Gaming Updates

The thirty-year-old carpet in our house has to go. Yesterday we took the drive out to a suburban flooring store, picked a laminate and paid a few thousand dollars for underlay, boards, and associated labour, the latter being the most expensive part. Even then it's going to take a fair bit of effort because, well, so many books and bookcases, and the fact we live in a townhouse. I don't so much live in a house but rather a library which, according to many of my friends, is some sort of utopia. I guess even libraries need their flooring changed on occasion and the place is about due for a spring-clean.

Last night was a quite a night out; went out with Brendan E., and new housemate, caught up with Morgan R., and partner visiting from Geelong, and Amy came along as well. We had dinner at the Grace Darling in Collingwood, which is nice decor, but stupidly and unpleasantly loud. Brendan's new housemate is doing a double major in criminology and philosophy, so as one can imagine having a great opportunity to discuss some of those finer points. Also watched a bit of Archer 1999 and the movie Bright, which dealt with some obvious themes in a fantasy-cum-cop-action story, very reminiscent of Shadowrun roleplaying game, as many have noted.

Speaking of such things, played Megatraveller on Thursday night with our switched-characters. The GM is building a narrative where our two-sets of characters, space pirates versus imperium marines, are skirting around each other. In a very different genre it could be like William S. Burroughs', Nova Express, but I don't think it will turn out that way. Today I have an Eclipse Phase session, where the sentinels and proxies have to deal with rogue AIs taking over anti-matter bombs and psionic and psychotic mutants. Also during the week started doing a lot of organisational work for RuneQuest Glorantha Con Down Under IV. Plenty more to be done, however, especially in the advertising and ticket-sales!

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/279306.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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Return from Canberra, Aesthetics, Work Activities

Being stuck in Canberra due to a cancelled flight with "engineering problems" didn't turn out quite so bad at all, although I am yet to go through what will the be the tiresome process of regaining compensation. Caught up with the_shadow298 for lunch, whom I hadn't seen in literal years, and we took the opportunity to chat about politics and people, visit bookstores, and the Canberra Museum and Gallery, which had a quite good collection of Sidney Nolan paintings, which of course generated a discussion on abstract versus figurative expressionism and hyper-realism. There was a charming collection of "primary school Nolans" which could at least match his technique, if not the creativity (they were copies of what they'd seen). That evening went out to dinner with Zoe B., and discussed a mutual interest in high performance computing and the representation of reals in computing systems. It was the first time we'd actually met in person after a few years of knowing each other online.

The following day started what would be a rapid succession of material on Rocknerd, mainly content that I've meaning to write for a while (I have an extensive, but not impossible, "to do" list) and thought it best to hammer it out whilst in the mood. This ended up including a review of Underworld at the Sydney Opera House, a review of The Cure at the Sydney Opera House, and finally, a review of Tears for Fears Rule The World greatest hits album.

In work-related activity, I've just announced the September workshops for Introduction to Linux and HPC and Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for HPC. In addition, met with the organiser of the First International Conference on Education and Outreach in Data Science and HPC, and in an entirely unsurprising move, joined the committee for running that show, which will incorporate the AU-NZ HPC Educators group, initiated by yours truly. In utterly non-related activities, I was on Radio Skid Row (pre-recorded) today, discussing the philosophy and political theory of Hannah Arendt, as I sometimes do.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/279261.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: content
  • Current Music: Rule The World, Tears for Fears
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Supercomputing and Stuck in Canberra

The past few days I've been attending the Challenges in High Performance Computing conference. It's a fairly small affair, and very much at the pointy-end of math nerds interested in such a subject. I managed to arrive in time for the conference dinner which was at the held at the Pollen Cafe at the Australian Botanical Gardens, which included a guided tour beforehand. The tour was really quite enjoyable and the food and drink were magnificent. Especially noteworthy presentations included Ulrich Ruede, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, on "Extreme-Scale Resilient Multigrid Solvers", Paul Leopardi, from the Bureau of Meteorology, on "Optimizing workflow scheduling and capacity management", and Lois Curfman McInnes, from Argonne National Laboratory, on "Community Software Ecosystems". My own presentation was Why Computers Lie at Alarming Speed and the unum Promise. Also, after the second day, found myself at a Canberra Python group. After the conference went down to the National Computing Infrastructure to give a second presentation, this time an ARDC tech-talk on The International HPC Certification Forum and AU-NZ, which is the third time I've given that presentation in a month. Maybe there's interest in it or something. The NCI people gave a presentation on their new system, Gadi, which will be the peak system for Australia. Also was pleased to catch up with taavi for lunch where we chatted primarily about bronze-age economics.

Whilst these talks were going on, Tiger Airlines sent me a message that my flight back to Melbourne had been canceled due to engineering issues. You don't want to fly a Tiger that has engineering issues so I made my way back to the hotel to check-in for another two nights - the Nesuto - which provides essentially a small apartment for the price of a hotel room. It was quite comical in a way, it was pouring rain, I was dripping wet, and conversing incredulously on the mobile with Tiger about the fact that the next flight was in two night's time. The hotel receptionist could barely contain her laughter. Tiger will be paying for the extra two nights, along with a free flight home, which I suppose is not unreasonable under the circumstances. Tomorrow morning I'll visit the Legislative Assembly, given it's literally across the road from the hotel, the_shadow298 has arranged to catch up for lunch, and in the evening Zoe B., has invited me to a restaurant games night. So in a short time, I appear to be making something of a weekend of it after all.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/279027.html.
  • Current Location: Canberra
  • Current Mood: tired
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Canberra Beckons, RPG Updates

Despite not being funded to attend, I've taken a couple of days leave so I can present my paper on Friday at the Challenges in High Performance Computing conference at ANU. My flights are booked for tomorrow, a hotel quite close to the university has been located, and all I have to do is to finish the talk on unums (universal numbers, which in many ways will be an update to a presentation I gave to Linux Users of Victoria a couple of years ago. A little annoyed at the university not funding this trip, but I'll make of that what I can. Also will be presenting at an ARDC tech-talk on Friday on the International HPC Certification Forum and various AU-NZ contributions - the third time in the past month or so that I've presented on this matter.

I have also been struck down with a short-term lurgy which has left me feeling terrible for the past two days. Even as late as last night I was groaning in pain and drinking what felt like gallons of water. Today I felt mostly recovered now. I rather suspect I've been pushing myself a little too hard in recent weeks and my old body is beginning to punish me for being unkind to it. Sickness didn't prevent me from running a game of Eclipse Phase on Sunday, although I did feel a little out-of-sorts. Apropos, my review of an old classic, Lace and Steel, has been published on rpg.net. Running off to Canberra also means that I'll be missing our regular Megatraveller session for two weeks in a row.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/278766.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: sick
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Perth: HPC-AI Conference, GPU Programming, Social Occassions

I've returned from a journey to The Western Lands, as I used to call WA in reference to William S. Burroughs. There are some similarities, of course, Perth being this oasis-like dot among the deserts of WA, although it is perhaps a little unfair to compare to the ancient Egyptian Land of the Dead. It was certainly anything but during my brief visit, although most of that was taken up by attending the HPC-AI Advisory Council conference. Particularly impressed with the scope of work that DK Panda is carrying out for MVAPICH2, and especially in making MPI aware of GPUs; could be quite handy. My own presentation on the International HPC Certification Forum was an elaboration to the one given at the ARDC summit a month prior, and seem to go across reasonably well. Hopefully, I'll get a few more people involved in the project and contributing. The visit to the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre was quite enjoyable as well; they have been strong backers of the project.

A particular highlight of the trip was dinner on Wednesday night at Bistro Bellavista in East Perth, my old stomping ground in that somewhat troubled 17th year of my life. Despite my appallingly short notice (I started contacting people on Sunday night!), and the fact that a few people slipped off the list altogether, some 20+ people still found it worthwhile to come out for the dinner, including some individuals whom I literally hadn't seen for decades. In addition to this, caught up with Arnold and Cathy H on my first night in Fremantle who were also quite remarkable in accepting my late notice, and treated me to an impressive Thai meal. In both cases, they were nights of good company, good cheer, good food, and quality conversation.

The final day in Perth was a trip out to the Australian Resources Research Centre (ARRC) to attend a GPU programming workshop organised by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. The workshop led by Rob Faber, an author on OpenACC and CUDA, and the workshop provided plenty of good examples to work with (and which credited permission was granted to use in my own training). On my return to Perth, wrote an extensive report on the conference for work, including a few items of importance concerning industry some trends that I picked up on the grapevine. Immediate tasks will involve however more optimising on our installs of MVAPICH2, building more Singularity containers, and working on an advanced GPU programming course. I think next week I'll be off to Canberra for the Challenges in High Performance Computing conference in Canberra, where I have a paper on some of the mathematical problems in HPC.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/278398.html.
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Everything That Rises Must Converge

Last journal post I expressed a rather full agenda for the following few days. I am pleased that most of the items on that list have come together quite nicely, albeit with a couple of inevitable hiccups. The most notable was the Isocracy meeting on Saturday night to discuss truth in political advertising and the 2019 election. In this case, the guest speaker Oliver Yates, an independent liberal candidate for Kooyong, simply forgot to turn up. I received a very embarrassed call the following afternoon, and we have decided to reconvene in the future. At least those who attended had a delicious dinner and fine conversation.

Apart from that most things have gone without a hitch. There was a fair turnout to my address to the Unitarian Church on behalf of the Victorian Secular Lobby, on Religious Freedom and Religious Charities, which has sparked some interest on the meaning of the title of section 116 of the Australian Constitution (I can be a simple man and I believe that "no law" means "no law"). I've also completed the necessary revision of my second and final assignment for HEDU501, Critical Reflection on Higher Education and have submitted that, along with my presentation this week for the HPC-AI advisory council conference in Perth (which is an elaboration of the presentation I gave at ARDC in Sydney last month). Following a similar line of topics, the two days of workshops for Parallel Processing with OpenMPI and MPI and GPU Programming with OpenACC and CUDA both went very well. The smaller workshop room works well with the more intensive class, and my addition of new content helped as well.

It's been a long day already as my flight to Perth was changed and I've spent a couple of hours at Adelaide airport, which at least let me get some work done. Apart from the HPC-AI conference, I have a dinner planned in East Perth (hearty Italian comfort food) which, after a flurry of contacts last night, suddenly found itself being quite a sizeable event. I might end up with around 20 people in attendance. Plus there will be a dinner with Arnold and Cathy around Fremantle tonight. The brief trip to Perth has a full, but rather enjoyable agenda.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/278197.html.
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Pushing Limits

Even my own standards the past few days and the next week or so are perhaps a little busier than what is really in the bounds of acceptable levels. I can only try to express the main items as dot points in an attempt to organise my thoughts. Once written down it doesn't seem too bad, really. Finish a 'zine, then two day-long programming workshops, a meeting with a political candidate, an address at a church, and then onto a plane to give a talk at an HPC conference at the other side of the country. Sure, I can do all this, right? Help?


  • RPGs: Editing (and editorials) completed for RPG Review 43. Have written additional reviews of Time & Time Again and Timemaster. Have mostly completed the very last article, a reviw of Dr Who: Adventures in Time and Space. Should be out by Friday. Was informed today that my (older) reviews of Sandman: Map of Halaal and Amber: Diceless Roleplaying. It's good to have content there again after a year's absence. This Sunday is meant to be a special RuneQuest session for the UniMelb gaming club who are co-organisers of the RuneQuest Glorantha Con Down Under.


  • HPC: Spent most of the day going through the OpenMP material for a course I'm running tomorrow on Parallel Processing. Will also need time to do extend the content I have for GPU Programming on Friday. This will take up what free time I have available tomorrow. On Monday I fly out to Perth to attend and present at the HPC-AI Advisory Council conference. Most of my material is ready for that, but can finish what needs to be done on the 'plane, right? Attended meeting of International HPC Certification Board yesterday. Was informed two days ago that my paper on how computers lie very fast was accepted for the Challenges in High Performance Computing conference at ANU the week after. Not sure what the funding situation is to send me the short distance.


  • Politics and Secularism: Dinner meeting organised for Saturday night with Oliver Yates, independent liberal candidate for Kooyong who is taking on the Federal treasurer in the courts over deceptive advertising. Must confess I'm worried about attendance, a lot of people who usually attend said events can't make it. Visited Marg C., in her aged-care facility last night to collect a mountain of books, mainly politics, poetry, and secularism. A lifelong Unitarian, her 96-year old mind is sharp and clear, although her sight and hearing are beginning to slip and she's not steady on her feet anymore. On Sunday will be giving an address at the Unitarians on behalf of the Victorian Secular Lobby on Religious Freedom and Religious Charities.



This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/277876.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: busy
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Memorial Services, RuneQuest Glorantha, Academia

Today was Rick Barker's memorial service at the Melbourne Unitarian Church. A small number turned out from his three main areas of activity; people involved at the Unitarians, the various philosophy groups organised by David Miller, and his RPG friends. I guess if I had some contacts there could have been some people from his tramway historical groups and the like. His family in New Zealand were also present, albeit in a virtual sense, as the service was livestreamed via Youtube. First time I've tried this and it seems to be relatively painless. Might do it for future classes, meetings etc. On-topic with the Unitarians, I am giving an address there Sunday week on "Religious Freedoms and Religious Charities", somewhat inspired by the events around a certain rugby player.

It is appropriate, given Rick's participation in RPGs, and RuneQuest in Glorantha in particular, that mention is made of another major announcement this week; that RuneQuest Glorantha Con Down Under IV will be held on the weekend of November 23-24, with (and this is the first public notification) with Jason Durall as the international guest of honour. The main issue at the moment is determining exactly where and for how long the Con will run. Our two options are a long single-day Con at the Kensington Town Hall, or a two-day Con at the University of Melbourne. I forsee a poll of the people to determine the outcome; the RPG Review Cooperative, if nothing else, is democratic.

I neglected to mention that recently I received my last pre-thesis graded assignment for my MSc degree; it was a Distinction grade, and whilst this is good in a formal sense, I am rather annoyed by it, because it was an experiment on my part. Despite all the advertising for critical thinking and independent research, when I did this on the last assignment I was harshly punished for not following the playbook, despite having better outcomes. This time I followed the expectations, avoiding indepndent research, and was rewarded. It's just plain academic laziness that leads to such results. Apropos this week received my grade for the one course for the GradDip in Economics that I'm taking; a couple of percentage points short of a Distinction; it will do for now.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/277585.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: exhausted
  • Current Music: Blue Bell Knoll, Cocteau Twins
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Isocracy, RPG Review, HPC

The past couple of days have been busy times within the Isocracy Network. Firstly, there is the submission to the ALP's national executive reviewing the 2019 election. Isocracy has made a submission as an "interested party" with an orientation around statistical analysis of the results and an interpretation that stronger legislation to ensure honest election campaigning is required. Appropriately we're having a meeting (Facebook) in a fortnight on this very subject with Oliver Yates, the independent liberal candidate who is challenging the Treasurer on the basis of deceptive campaigning. Finally, we're just about to set up a branch in Indonesia, courtesy of an active contributor in that part of the world. On a related note, briefly attended (by accident, initially) a protest at the University of Melbourne against a meeting of the 'Victorian Women's Guild', a TERF group. Was in conservation with a young protestor about the event and she mentioned various TERF/SWERF essentialists who were behind the event and mentioned a certain UniMelb professor. I mentioned that I had crossed swords with them some twenty years prior on similar issues. It wasn't until well after that I realised that they were probably barely over twenty themselves.

Spent a good part of yesterday editing the increasingly late issue of RPG Review, based on cosmology and time-travel. I have several reviews in place for the upcoming issue. I think I would have had it close to finishing (still awaiting the magic of strangedave's article of Glorantha cosmology) but lost a few hours due to a migraine. Nevertheless, awoke in time to venture to The Astor to see Peter Strickland's comedy-horror-melancholy, In Fabric, part of the Melbourne International Film Festival, and which was introduced by the cinematographer, Ari Wegner. It was quite a clever film, somewhat in the style of the original Suspiria and probably with the same budget as well. In related RPG news, our regular Megatraveller game was canceled with a couple of people unavailable, so we played Hacker instead, a fun game with useful insights into hacker culture, although technologically placed in the pre-mass Internet days. It appropriately followed an amusing day at work where I installed FreePascal on the HPC on request from a user, and followed it up with GnuCOBOL, for aesthetic reasons (along with a multitude of sample short test scripts, based on a workshop-talk I gave at Linux Users of Victoria a few years back). Actually, GnuCOBOL may be very appropriate for experimentation as it's a transpiler, which means in theory one construct multi-threaded and message-passing applications with relative ease.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/277389.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: busy
  • Current Music: Difference, Mystic Crock