Standard

HPC and Exams etc, Ingress, Social Events

With two double-sized workshops next week, I've made the first cut at a summative exam which is still very much a work-in-progress. It will certainly serve as a handy template when extended to other courses as well. Of interest in the HPC space (and I completely neglected to mention the last post) is Spartan, the once-tiny experimental cluster (which ended up at the equivalent of c200 in the Top500) passed 10,000,000 jobs last week. Apropos, was pleased to see one of the researchers whom I taught a few weeks ago made their way into the papers with their research on the Buruli ulcer. I thought it was a very good advertisement for the serious importance of HPC, and then the same day I receive a video from the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre which shows an interesting correlation between earthquakes and sex; well, I suppose that will at least attract a bit of attention.

Yesterday Ingress went offline for a day, or rather, the traditional Ingress scanner was down for "routine maintenance" (which has never happened before). I tried using Ingress Prime, not for the first time, but the experience was, again, extremely unsatisfactory. I started to think about why Niantic is so determined about introducing an interface which the overwhelming majority of players don't want, and I ended up with a 1500 word essay, How Niantic is Killing Ingress on the relationship between the game, the business, and data collection. The end of September will be a sad day when the traditional scanner comes to an end and the game will be largely abandoned.

On the topic of games visited Andrew D., on Thursday for our regular gaming session and we decided to have a one-off game of Dog Eat Dog, a narrativist game of colonial occupation in the Pacific (or elsewhere for that matter). We ended up with an amalgamation of Islander cultures colonised by the Republic of Deseret (like Dogs in the Vineyard, see what I did there?). Following up on more social activities the evening prior had a visit form nephew Luke, who picked up his Cure t-shirt as he looked after our place during our recent jaunt to Sydney to see said band. Of interest is his planned trip to Borneo. Finally, today had a visit from work colleague Martin P., and his daughter Tessa. The latter will be staying at our place during October whilst we are taking a trip to Europe, and a post-lunch tour of the estate was provided.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/276046.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: busy
  • Current Music: Pi Soundtrack, Clint Mansell
Standard

Viking Restaurant, MSc Developments, HPC Developments

Last night caseopaya and I went to a Viking-themed restaurant, Mjolner, which we decided was a birthday dinner for log_reloaded and Jase. Some of the affectations were nice, such as the drinking horns, and we had some fun deconstructing the artwork which had Norman, Viking, and Celtic elements. The food was OK, but all and sundry was priced in accord to what one expect at such as restaurant (i.e., more than it should be). The pre-dinner drinks at Otter's Promise were probably better. Afterwards was entertained back at their place with a show-and-tell with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. All-in-all, however, a very good night out.

The day was also the completion of the final assignment for my MSc in Information Systems, which has just been submitted, hooray. I also received my grade for the previous assignment which, whilst a pass, was the lowest grade I had received in over thirty years. I asked the class leader what I had done wrong, for self-efficacy purposes, seeming that a similar subject I had done a few years previous averaged around 30% higher. It was like pulling teeth, but I finally dragged enough information out that the tutor was basically painting-by-numbers, judging references by quantity, and preferring recommended sources which were inferior to the ones that I found. In a nutshell, the marker was lazy; I hope I never advocate for people to do independent research and then punish them for actually doing so.

Speaking of such things, I've made a start on an automated summative assessment script for HPC training. It will essentially consist of a shell script and a heredoc with some fifty random questions for a fifty-minute exam. My MHed supervisor is quite keen on the idea, agreeing that its nothing short of absurdity to examine people's HPC skills through any other medium other than on an actual HPC; I am having a real uphill battle convincing people in the Internation HPC Educator's Forum of the virtue of this. Hopefully, I will have it ready for the next courses I'll be running in a week's time, a double-sized class. In addition, because I believe in making things easier for others, have written up some notes of installation, licensing, and testing of the Gurobi optimiser.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/275848.html.
  • Current Location: UniMelb
  • Current Mood: tired
  • Current Music: The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Soundtrack, Jeremy Soule
Tags: , ,
Standard

Weddings, Deaths, and Weirdness

Without any doubt the big event of the weekend was Holly C., and Luke M.'s wedding on Saturday at Bakehouse Studios in Richmond and followed by the reception at Concrete Boots. The gothic aesthetic was strong throughout, which is quite unsurprising. Holly's outfit was really quite something, the rise of the black sun, and Luke was a very dapper Hobbit, albeit of the Tallfellow breed (his performance of "Into My Arms" at the reception was very charming). It was a great opportunity, as such events are, to catch up with a number of old friends whom we see but on occasions like this. In lieu of wedding gifts, donations to Edgar's Mission were encouraged, and it is mentioned here in the vague hope that someone else may follow the link and donate. Holly and Luke are, of course, have been a mighty fine couple of adventure, passion, and righteousness for many years already, and without a doubt that will continue for years to come.

Following the trajectory of joyous elation to sombre despair, I found out today that one of my friends at the estate, Norman Ireland, had passed away. We used to catch up on almost a daily basis on travels when he was teaching art and fashion at RMIT, whilst I was just around the corner at VPAC. A gently-spoken man with many wild and wonderful stories and a wicked sense of how to use politeness as a weapon. After his retirement he would often be in travels overseas (Thailand was a favourite haunt), so we didn't see as much of him as one would like. We caught up a couple of months ago, and he mentioned that he had just been through a period of illness, including a bad case of cellulitis, which is downright horrible as I know too well. Whilst he seemed good at that stage, mere amateur observation is not diagnosis and obviously, things went very bad.

Amidst these two extremes there was not banality, but weirdness, just to give a sense of the emotional roller-coaster I've been on for the past few days. Andy Staples, who has been involved in RPG game design, was mentioning the new edition of Chivalry & Sorcery, which has been around since the mid-1970s. I mentioned in passing whether he knew what had happened to Ed Hogg, who I had met on usenet in the late 1990s and thought quite highly of. He tagged a mutual friend in the Facebook conversation, who turned out to be Ed Hogg (a nom-de-net), who was rather surprised to discover that I had even named a character after him, whereas for me it resolved the twenty-plus year old mystery of "what happened to Ed Hogg?". It was a strange and beautiful discovery.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/275615.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: drained
  • Current Music: Inception Soundtrack, Hans Zimmer
Standard

Petition etc, Europe Plans, and more

It's been a busy week for secular activities in my word. The petition I initiated, to de-register the Australian Christian Lobby and end "advancing religion" as a charitable category, has reached over 17,000 signatures, although it has slowed down in the past couple of days. In upping the ante, the Federal government is raising the prospect of "religious freedom" bill which almost certainly would enshrine the power to discriminate. I have offered the alternative that "religion" should be removed from the statute books entirely, following the clause of the Australian constitution, "Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion". The Victorian Secular Lobby had a committee meeting as well, to confirm our banking details, given that we might actually need to use it now. Finally, just on the verge of finishing the association's submission to the Victorian government's Royal Commission on the Mental Health System.

In other news, caseopaya have booked our tickets for this year's trip to the other side of the planet. Of course, part of this is due to necessity as I have a residency in Zurich to complete as part of my MSc in Information Systems. At least most of this journey will actually be a holiday. Naturally enough, the plan is afoot to visit friends and family, all of whom are within a few hours of each other in the central-west region; thus the plan is Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Freiburg, Zurich, Paris, Ghent, Deflt, Amsterdam, and then back to Frankfurt. The journey will take pretty much most of the month of October; I would rather like to take a bit of a journey to the south and east (Venice, Vienna, Bratislava, Prague), but alas time does not permit such an opportunity this time around. Next time for sure, right?

In other news, things are mostly normal, as much as they are in my life. Have had a few support successes at work with the various interesting user issues, which is kind of unavoidable with scientific software. I've had a good discussion making comparisons between war and business in international business strategy in the MSc discussion forums. In gaming news, an issue has been raised in RuneQuest circles about the relative value of shields vis-a-vis two-handed weapons, which has generated some discussion on the RuneQuest rules mailing list and on the Facebook group. Currently playing Megatraveller, where we've "kidnapped" a despot who is paying well to have some medical treatment on another system.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/275453.html.
  • Current Location: Pentridge
  • Current Mood: content
  • Current Music: Forgotten Futures, Smooth
Standard

Petitions, Languages and Other Studies

After a couple of days of deliberation among the committee, the Victorian Secular Lobby launched a petition this morning (picked up by no less than Lee Lin Chin, hooray), calling for the Australian Christian Lobby to be de-registered as a charity and for the Federal government to remove the "advancing religion" clause from the Charities Act. which basically allows any religious group to claim tax-exemptions even if they are not doing any charitable work in a meaningful sense of the term. This does come on the midst of a significant court case in Australia between Israel Folau by Rugby Australia after he was sacked for various social media comments. I have written an extensive piece on the Isocracy Network, Rugby, Religion, and Charities, which was simultaneously posted in a slightly modified form in [community profile] talkpolitics. For something that has been running for just over twelve hours, the petition currently has over 4,000 signatures.

For a good portion of this week I've been delving into various linguistic studies. I have neglected my Portuguese from French studies for months and with a new co-worker who is a Portuguese speaker (from Brazil), there is an opportunity to practice my woeful skills in this language. Duolingo has also just started an Arabic course, which I have thrown myself into with some interest and less competence. I have also spent some time (i.e., have completed the first week's worth) of Noongar, the Australian aboriginal language of the south-west. A course is available on edX and co-ordinated with Curtin University. One thing I have discovered over time is that quite a few words in my childhood which I thought were standard English words, were, in fact, Noongar words. I was always brought up with the knowledge that a hand-spear for fishing was a 'gidgee', for example.

Apart from that, I've been making a few remarks on my information systems course on the difference between methodological individualism and institutional socialisation, along with the economic and business value of free and open source software from a strategic perspective; as one does. On Wednesday most of our team avoided going to work because the building site next door was breaking up concrete which would have been a hell of a racket - I spent a good portion of the day building software and updating my introduction to parallel programming course, especially with additional material I had overlooked in the shared-memory OpenMP API; the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been very helpful in that regard. Plus I have a co-authored presentation in at the ARDC Skilled Workforce Summit, so I might be going back to Sydney again soon. Speaking of which, neglected to mention that last Tuesday week I was on Sydney Radio Skid Row with John August talking about truth in political advertising, and the relationship between an informed electorate and a functioning democracy (quite a strong correlation, it turns out).

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/275136.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: content
  • Current Music: Bleeding Star, Jean-Paul Sartre Experience
Standard

Eclipse Phase and Pandemic, Studies

Eclipse Phase is a post-cyberpunk transhumanist roleplaying game which includes political factionalism, alien contact, the devastation of Earth by rogue AIs, and travel to exoplanets by wormhole Gates. It has something for everyone in a mostly hard SF simulationist approach, and understandably it won the Origins Award for best RPG in 2010. The books are invariably beautiful, and the setting rich, and the author was not afraid of where transhumanist logic took him (I interviewed him in RPG Review Issue 33). For the past three-and-a-half years I've been running an Eclipse Phase story, and it's now coming to an end. The PCs been to every planet on the solar system, several moons, and a few exoplanets, and now they're staring down the singularity event on the edge of the sun, and Sunday's session ("A Holiday in the Sun") has all the hallmarks of an end-of-campaign chapter. It's been a hell of a trip, and despite some odd crunchy bits to the game, it's been very much worth it. I am, to be honest, a little inspired to pitch a similar game for Chaosium.

It was the second day of gaming in the weekend, as Saturday was our irregular CheeseQuest with ser_pounce and hathhalla. Game of the day was Pandemic: Fall of Rome, which is similar to those in the co-operative Pandemic series, but with a few additional changes to suit the particular example. Our downfall was quite brutal with a succession of unfortunate event cards and an inability to stop an overwhelming takeover of the Iberian peninsula by the Vandals. Overall, not a bad game and certainly one that I would play again - this time with a better sense of the dynamics and the strategy that entails. And speaking of matters of the strategy, the rest of the weekend was spent working on a 3000-word essay on strategy for my MSc in Information Systems. One essay and one short dissertation to go and I'll be finished my fifth degree and second Masters.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/274853.html.
Standard

Mortgages, Europe, etc.

As a sign of a combination of good luck, a co-operative effort, a Bohemian lifestyle with professional employment, and maybe a hint of effective adulting, caseopaya and I paid off our mortgages today. If you had told me in my youth that I would be in the situation I am now, I probably would have responded with the old adage of the real path to wealth being "inherit it, marry it, or steal it", which is largely true in nearly all circumstances, Stakhanovite claims notwithstanding. The main thing that this does leave out is luck, which is actually the most significant factor, and is no wonder that on occasion people refer to "good fortune". Anyway, the practical upshot is that banks no longer own half our home which generates a nice sense of independence on one's mental state.

Last journal entry I mentioned that I had a somewhat distant Europe trip planned, centered on Zurich, as a residency requirement for my MSc in Information Systems. Well, since then the college has decided to extend the spots in the October residency, so I'll be going then instead. Hooray to completing this a couple of months earlier, because one really needs a fifth degree for the practical purpose of arguing on the Internet. It's a living example of the public sphere, you know. Be this as it may, I'm currently trying to plan an extensive loop of the following form: Zurich to Venice to Vienna, to Bratislava to Prague, then through Germany (probably Dresden, Leipzig, and through to Bremman), then on to Delft, and then Ghent, Paris, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Freiburg and finally Zurich again. Anyway, that's the current plan, and there's a bit of time before I climb into the big silver bird.

In the meantime have engaged in the usual activities of work, study, and gaming. For the former, second half of the course, Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for HPC was taught at the Peter Doherty Institute. I get the impression they were pretty happy with their new found knowledge of RegEx and the power of a useful shell loop when combined with a here-doc. For studies I have an MSc assignment to complete this weekend, primarily comparing different environment scanning approaches according to the proximity of activity. Finally, in the gaming hobby, funontheupfield introduced us to the rules-light Kids on Bikes, based on the pre-mobile 'phone era of which all players were familiar with. The building of the setting and character relationships is a cooperative venture, and we picked up from a previous setting a couple of years back, a not-quite Wonthaggi, for our rather fun game of Cats Against Cthulhu. That was somewhat light-hearted; this one went quite grim real quick. Yet, we've also retained the unknowably sapient cats and the eldritch horrors, which probably means it's going to end up being quite the surreal horror. I'm rather looking forward to it.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/274629.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: relaxed
  • Current Music: Return to Eden, Ultravox
Standard

Teaching, Learning and Europe, and Fantasy Adventures

In a hat-tip to the previous journal entry (which referred to SF adventures), there is a certain degree of similarity in this one. The weekend, apparently, is similar to the week prior which explains why I feel that I haven't had a weekend yet. Today however I was teaching mainly immunological doctoral researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute. I was planning to do an Introduction to Linux and HPC but after listening to their explanations of existing genomics workflows, I switched my presentation immediately to my Bioinformatics for HPC course which combines the general courses with the Date Carpentry course on genomics (so yes, two courses squeezed into one), with most of the first part being completed. They were a pretty switched-on group, with a number having good levels of previous experience, and with some challenging and insightful questions.

Out-of-hours what spare time I have has been largely spent on working on an assignment for my final course for my MSc in Information Systems, with the dissertation to follow. With a few stuff-ups in my residency enrolment, I am now booked to go to Zurich in November. After missing winter for two years in succession, it will be a pleasant change to get two in a single year, although I imagine it will be quite a shock to the system returning from the onset of a European winter to the beginning of an Australian summer. Still, the practical upshot of all this will be the completion of degree number five, and with six and seven in the wings as well. It will, of course, be another opportunity to visit Europe which will require mapping out something will include visits to friends and family as well as trying to expand the scope of places to include new areas.

On the weekend played a session of the new edition of RuneQuest, having wrapped up our third edition game that made use of various "gateway" settings (Questworld, Griffin Island, Elderaad). This is set in the deep, weird, and mostly consistent fantasy world of Glorantha which in some many ways has a mythic structure that is stronger than most real-world religions, but that's what you get for a fantasy world designed by a practicing shaman and mythologist. For my own part, I took the role of the most comic species in the setting, the duck-like durulz (and with an appropriate pun, named her Rowena Wigeon, a trickster cult member). The curious thing about these beings is that even though they come across initially as quite ridiculous (image of Donald Duck come to mind), they have an extraordinary depth of character. Cursed, flightless, they live in a swampland inhabited by a demi-god vampire and his minions. As a result, they may seem initially to be ridiculous, but they carry with themselves a level of surly seriousness and are savagely foul-beaked as a result. Strange, deep, but consistent? That's Glorantha for you and that is why in the past I have described it as the greatest fantasy world ever created.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/274379.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: content
  • Current Music: Far & Off, Aes Dana and MikTek
Standard

Teaching, Learning, and SF Adventures

A good portion of this week was taken up teaching Introduction to Linux and HPC and Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for HPC. They were a good class and quite switched on, even for people who were coming in with a relative lack of familiarity. It's a steep learning curve, but on the basis of the questions they asked (I tend to run classes more of an "interactive workshop") they were well on their way. Next week I have a repeat of the classes for immunologists at the Peter Doherty Institute. In my copious spare time at work, I've slipped in another conference presentation abstract and have continued work on my planned course for regular expressions, which I have been somewhat remiss in finalising - plenty of additions on speeding up grep added today.

In other teaching-related activities have expressed my displeasure at the intellectual laziness of the HPC Certification Forum in their continuing suggestions to use multiple-choice questions as summative assessment for the certification. I have argued, with backing in education theory, that they should be using actual practise on a real HPC system as a test of HPC system competency. For what it's worth my MHEd supervisor at Otago University agrees with the approach that I'm suggesting. Meanwhile I am making some progress with the last unit of my MSc at RKC/Salford for the dissertation, however, it seems that they have stuffed up my residency enrolment in Zurich; just as well I hadn't booked the tickets. For people teaching a postgraduate degree in information systems they're not very good at it.

All this aside, did manage to go out during the week, specifically for the Twilight Zone Movie at The Astor (and also an opportunity to visit Duke The Cat). The film was basically in the style of four of the old-style TV episodes, so it wasn't exactly all guns blazing, but it did have some nice plots with a dash of the macabre - and especially so given that people died in its production. Regardless of what is on at the Astor for me it is very much an opportunity to spend some time in front of a classic large single screen cinema and absorb the trappings of an old and slightly frayed deco beauty; after home and work it's probably the third most likely place one is to find me. The following night was science fiction adventures of a different fashion, with a session of Megatraveller, which involved dealing with the treasures of the Sindalian Empire - which turned out to be bacterial and nuclear weapons; whoops. I get the feeling that the ante of this story is arcing up and the poor ol' PCs are going to be on the receiving end of everything going wrong.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/274066.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
  • Current Music: Moon Soundtrack, Clint Mansell
Tags: , , , ,
Standard

Various SF and Fantasy Explorations

Recovering slowly from my illness (and I'd better be, I have teaching tomorrow and the day after), I've had a bit of a foray into the old hobbies in science fiction and fantasy. On Thursday night, courtesy of Google Hangouts, I joined our regular Megatraveller game whilst dosed up and rugged up. The plot led us to discover a great ancient treasure - which turned out to be weapons of mass destruction - and our unhinged ally had demanded his 20% share of the take; this could be a problem. This is trouble enough, but on Sunday things went a level higher in my Eclipse Phase story. Confronted with a psychotic alien on one hand, and an AI attempting to turn Mercury into a Dyson Sphere to steal the sun, and the Factor aliens threatening to supernova the sun, the PC Proxies and their Sentinels managed to save the day, in a manner of speaking by destroying Mercury. Eclipse Phase is always a game of horror and existential risk so perhaps it is no surprise that as a story comes to an end, everything gets turned up to eleven. Also during the past few days managed to put together my character for a new RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha story; a durulz (cursed humanoid duck), named Rowena Wigeon.

RPG Review 42 has just been released (astoundingly late) with an emphasis on The Wilderness and the Wilds. My own articles are reviews of Outdoor Survival (old boardgame from the 70s), AD&D Wilderness Survival Guide, D&D 5e Wilderness Survival Guide, Eclipse Phase: Sunward, and Eclipse Phase: X-Risks. Sunday evening was also committee meeting time for the publishing cooperative, and on Wednesday night we'll be attending Twilight Zone: The Movie. Further to all this, Continuum, the national science fiction convention, was on this weekend. If I had been of better health I would have liked to go along for at least part of it. Nevertheless just returned from a dinner with some attendees on Lygon St; R, J, and darklion. Very much a pleasure to catch up with an old friend of many years.

This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/273836.html.
  • Current Location: Willsmere
  • Current Mood: chipper
  • Current Music: Source Transmission, Ascendant