31 January 2006

bloody phd :(

I know how Hiren feels. Goddamn PhD >:( If you get a choice - don't waste your time with such a stunningly frustrating academic exercise. Grr.

Oh well, at least vtk 5.0 is finally offically released :D

27 January 2006

MMVR 2006


So yeah, I'm in LA, and I went to MMVR2006. I got called in at the as a last-minute stand-in to present a paper on some of the physically-based modeling work we've been working on at the lab. I took a couple of photos; all I've got so far is here.


The flight was fairly turbulent, but I managed to sleep through it ok. Crossing the international date-line from east to west meant the whole arriving-before-I-left thing happened, which is always amusing :)

Anyway, the conference went well; it finished a couple of hours ago. With certain commitments, jetlag, giving a talk and running about trying to find out about possible life post-PhD, I'm industrial-grade tired. The talk was well received, and I got to meet all sorts of crazy folk from the all the big simulation groups - notably Stanford, Harvard and MIT.

The hotel I'm staying at is the Long Beach Hyatt, and the view out of the window isn't too bad:


That's the Queen Mary outside in the left of the picture, next to the giant-dome thing which used to be the hangar for the Spruce Goose. A good account of the Gooses' rather sad demise can be found here.


LA is big, smoggy, and a little bit daunting if you are unhinged enough to try and see it on foot. I did that last time I was in Long Beach (from the previous MMVR, which was also here!), it took me a good couple of hours to get from the upper end of the actual beach on Long Beach down to the other end, which was as far as I could work out I could go on foot ;) Anyway, I've got the day in LA tomorrow before I get on a plane back home; I'll wander around with the camera and take more happy snaps. I'll write that up when I get back. Anyway, probably time to get some sleep :P

24 January 2006

i'm in LA

Alrighty then. I'm in Los Angeles. Much less than a week ago, I didn't even know I was going to be here. There were come complications at the lab, and I'm a stand in to present a paper at MMVR14. I'm quite streched for time, but I took lots of happy snaps.... I'll update soon :)

8 January 2006

battlestar galactica season 2: redux

Battlestar back on the box

Battlestar Galactica is back on the telly, and I wasn't disappointed with the start of the second half of the second series (??).

Family meeting time on Colonial One

Things have already taken quite a dark turn, and as the episode progresses, things seem to keep on getting darker. If you take any of the scuttlebutt seriously, there's plenty of nuggety plot in store for the rest of the season.

Stuff not blowing up

Disappointingly, unlike previous pyrotechnically inclined episodes, there wasn't a whole heap of stuff blowing up. However..

This thing probably will blow up. Eventually.

..I think they were building up expectations for an earth shattering kaboom. The storyline seems to be focusing on the whole human vs. human thing (us lot seem to be good at it), and if rumour is to be believed, there is a pile of cylon vs. cylon stuff coming up as well.

Doctor what?

Sat down and watched the Dr. Who 2005 Christmas special, and I reckon it was a bit of alright. It's not exactly the most stimulating of dramas, but thoroughly enjoyable nevertheless.

David Tennant, looking alarmed in his jimjams.

David Tennant was a bit creepy, but I think that might have been the idea. Christopher Eccleston tried to be a bit menacing in the last series, but, eh.. I wasn't really convinced. We'll wait and see how this turns out when it re-starts in full in a couple of months.

In the meantime.. draw your own conclusions:

Dr. Hiren? He will be (eventually) :P

4 January 2006

i've completely fallen out of my tree

Yes indeed folks, I think it's safe to say that I'm perilously close to completely falling out of my tree. Certain things have been conspiring to keep me exraordinarily busy, so the blogfodder has accumulated over the holiday (what holiday?) break. In keeping with recent history on this blog, this post is likely to be another long one.

Before I go any further though - thanks to all for the new stuff I have acquired over Christmas, notably to our favourite nerd for this gem.

ROTJ tree

that's right folks, as Briony mentioned, we have a Return of the Jedi-themed Christmas tree in our loungeroom. It's got a full complement of ewoks, vaders, shield generators, whiny-mark-hamill types, and our now-traditional Death-star.

Yes, that is a Darth Vader pez dispenser.


heeeeeeyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!! (ahem)

Week before last, I got a call from the best-man of an old uni friend of mine, Trevor (who is getting married to his longtime girlfriend, Annie, this weekend). Various bucks days activities were canvassed, and to my own surprise I found myself less than a week later plunging vertically downwards out of a plane. Given the recent trouble the Australian skydiving industry has had, Briony wasn't terribly impressed about the idea. Nevertheless, it's something I've wanted to do for ages, so she did get behind it. With Briony's well-founded reservations in my head, off I went.

The jump was a tandem-jump (that is, I was strapped to an instructor) from a height of a little over 4200 metres up (that's 14000 feet for the metrically-challenged). The amount of training needed to jump was pretty minimal (i.e. how to land without breaking your legs), and not too long after arriving at the skydiving venue at Penrith (in north-west Sydney) we went out to the air-field about 30 minutes drive away along the M7.

We bundled into the small aircraft, and the first surprise was that there weren't even bench seats - just two long padded foam blocks, which we sat upon, vaguely strapped to the instructors behind us. Which brings me to the second point - no seatbelts, no straps - which nicely complemented the fact that the little flying station-wagon we were in had no door, either.

This slightly alarming lack of things to keep us in the aircraft (well, I guess we were all going to jump out anyway) was a lot scarier than the jump itself, which was, by comparison, a piece of cake. All I had to do was to swing my legs outside of the aircraft (probably the bit that made me the most nervous), and the instructor pushed us both out of the plane. Easy. Ahahahaha. Er.

The parachute landing area

First thing I remember seeing when bailing out of the plane was tumbling head over heels 3 or 4 times, and seeing the plane being further and further away on each rotation. The initial freefall lasted for 60 seconds (by the end of which we had picked up a reasonable speed of 230km/h), and let me tell you, the ground comes up to you pretty damn fast. At about 1300m up (4500 feet), the parachute was deployed, and we sauntered on down at a still quite alarming pace, until we glided in for a landing.

The instructor had a camera strapped to his hand, so there is a video of the whole event. The whole damn page is overloaded with macromedia flash junk, so I'll try to post a cleaned-up version of the video from that site up here as soon as is practical. If you are clever (hint hint), there is a link to a .flv file in the source for the video page - you can download this separately and just watch the video without annoying background music.

New Years Eve 05

Much closer to the ground was the 05/06 New Years celebration. This year we were back with the crowds at the Sydney Opera House as Briony was looking after first-aid for the venue there. Briony got there a little earlier than I, and, despite the heat, we camped out at a good spot from about 4pm onwards. Coming along for the show was Tomaz, Ray, and my cousins Shaunak and Poonam (who is visiting from the UK).

crowds on the opera house forecourt

The 9pm fireworks couldn't hold a candle up to the midnight fireworks, which were fairly awesome. It was a buzz to be in town again for new years, and the atmosphere was great. We waited around for a while afterwards, so I went nuts with my tripod and entered a state of panorama psychosis. A couple of shots (including a trademark pano-ray-mic(TM) photo :P :P) are below, and the full gallery contains yet more (uploaded using kflickr, for all you kde nerds out there).

fireworks and a few of those little squares of light

Ray and Ray and Ray and Ray and Ray and Ray in front of the opera house