Big Lego comics day

After getting three ethics classes out of the way this morning, I worked hard on Irregular Webcomic! today. I had to finish off writing a batch of strips, quickly, so I had time to photograph the whole batch, and then assemble some of the comics for this week, since the buffer was empty. This meant some of the comics didn’t get punchlines as good as I would have liked, but thankfully when I got to assembling the comics I managed to rewrite one of those to my satisfaction. Actually, it’s the one that’s gone up this evening already!

Apart from that, I took Scully for a walk at lunch, and then again with my wife after she got home from work. And I cooked a quiche for dinner. And… about to relax and watch an episode of Question Team with my wife.

New content today:

The dreaded comics hiatus

I made a hard call today. I need to take a brief hiatus from making/publishing new Irregular Webcomic! strips. I managed to buffer enough to cover my trip to Japan, but at the moment I have an urgent need to upgrade my web server software, namely MediaWiki and PHP, to avoid either breaking my personal note-taking wiki or end up paying an extra maintenance fee to my webhost for keeping an old unsupported version of PHP around. I’ve been spending spare time all week preparing by porting some essential content from wiki to Obsidian as a backup. Once I’ve captured enough of that, I’ll backup the wiki to an XML export and try the upgrades. Some time this week hopefully. And hopefully it’ll all work and my porting/backing up won’t have been necessary. But in the worst case I’ll need it.

Anyway, that gives me no time this week to make new IWC comics. I’m keeping up with Darths & Droids though.

Another thing I mentioned a few days ago:

There’s a large house we walk past regularly, and since we got back from Japan I’ve seen that the brick wall around it has been partially destroyed. It looks like a car went out of control at the adjacent intersection, mounted the kerb, and smashed into the wall.

I walked past it again and took a photo today:

Broken fence

This house is on a Y-shaped intersection, so it could easily have been a car coming down the leg of the Y and not turning at all, and ploughing straight into the wall here. The wall has actually been cleaned up since I saw it the other day – then there were partly demolished sections of the brick wall remaining which made it look more like an accident than a deliberate removal.

Not much else to report today. Weather was fine and sunny and not too cold for winter, but windy, which was annoying. And for dinner I made a pizza with mushroom and eggplant topping. I don’t use eggplant that much, and it might be the first time I’ve put it on a pizza. I cubed it and fried it a little to make sure it cooked enough. It turned out good!

New content today:

An overdue chicken schnitzel

This morning I got stuck into photographing the next batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I took Scully for an early walk, and it was really chilly today. Then I got the Lego stuff out and spent the rest of the morning building and arranging the sets and taking photos. I finished the batch around 11am, then relaxed a bit before deciding what to do for lunch.

I decided to walk Scully up to the local shops and have lunch at one of the outside tables at one of the pubs. They have delicious chicken schnitzel, and it’s been a long while since Ive had one, so that’s what I ordered. Scully wanted to sit on my lap because it was still a bit chilly and windy, and she gave the schnitzel a good stare. But she’s pretty good and doesn’t try to grab food off plates. And it was as delicious as I remembered, so that was good!

This afternoon I finished up class notes for this week’s new ethics topic: Getting Even. This is a topic I did a couple of years ago, and I had plenty of good questions from then, so it wasn’t much work revising it. I had three classes this evening.

For one question I asked what the kids would do if another kid deliberately stepped on their foot, causing some pain. One girl said she’d feel angry an give them her “angry look”. She said she wouldn’t do it now (over the Zoom video) because it would scare me too much. I laughed and said I really wanted to see it now. So she did it, and yes it looked pretty angry, but in the current context it was really quite funny. I love it when the kids do interesting things and we can have a fun class.

New content today:

Intro to Intro to Machine Learning

Today I worked on a presentation for the university Data Engineering course I’ve been tutoring this semester. I felt there was a bit of a gap in the course material. The first few lectures talk about types of data, experimental collection of data, basic statistics (such as mean, standard deviation, etc), plotting and presenting data, and fitting data (linear regression), and hypothesis testing.

And then the next lecture is a guest lecturer from MathWorks who comes in and talks about using MATLAB to do machine learning. It’s a large jump in complexity and depth of material, and I feel like many of the students are left a bit floundering like they’ve suddenly been thrown in the deep end. There’s no set up of the context or motivation for machine learning, or what it’s actually trying to do with the data.

Last lecture I spoke with the professor about this and he agreed with my idea of adding a bit of introductory context material to set up the machine learning content. We actually have an opportunity to deliver this because for the next three weeks we just have project sessions where the students show up to work in their teams and ask us questions if they need any guidance. We do the same thing in the Image Processing course in semester two, and there we’ve had a “bonus material” lecture at the start of one of those session. (Last year I did this, talking about the science and engineering of photography.)

So today I made a short presentation (just 9 slides), that we can give to the students on Monday. I set up the problem that we want to solve – classifying things by examining measurements—data—about them. I give examples to show how general this problem is and the wide range of important applications. Then explain why it can be difficult and how we can approach it in a data analytical way. And then how we can apply automated algorithms to do it in various different ways. Which leads into the machine learning examples that they did in the aforementioned previous lecture.

I tested it on my wife and it only took about 15 minutes. (And she now has a better understanding of the context of machine learning than most people!)

Also today I started work on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I hope to get that done in time to photograph Lego on Tuesday morning.

The forecast rain hit today – it was much cooler than yesterday. But still we managed to set a new record for number of consecutive days in Sydney with maximum temperature 20°C or more. Looking at the Bureau of Meteorology records, it looks like 193 consecutive days – the last day we had a maximum below 20°C was 17 October, 2022. The forecast for every day in the coming week is at least 22°C, so the streak will probably extend past 200 days.

New content today:

Back into teaching and comics

Friday night was online board games night with friends, so I skipped my daily update. After missing last week’s face-to-face games due to COVID, it was nice to get together online and play some games.

My Friday was very busy. I had my first ethics classes since cancelling a week’s worth while I got over COVID. I had one at 9am, which I’d moved an hour earlier because at 10am I had a Standards Australia meeting (also via Zoom), to follow-up from the ISO Photography Standards meeting I attended in February. We had the usual administrative business, and I went through the technical report I wrote summarising the discussions and events of the international meeting. It went okay, although I had to pause a few times for coughing, which is still an issue as I recover from the illness.

At lunch I went to pick up a weekly grocery shop from the supermarket. And then in the afternoon I had three ethics classes in a row. I managed okay, but again, needing to pause to cough a few times. The cough is really quite annoying. It comes and goes throughout the day – sometimes I have a long period of coughing and feel awful, and then I it settles down a bit and doesn’t bother me for a while.

Today was similar, with the coughing fading in and out during the day. I went for a walk with my wife and Scully to the Naremburn bakery and had a cinnamon scroll for morning tea, which was really delicious. On the way home it rained, and became fairly heavy. We’d taken umbrellas, but forgotten Scully’s raincoat, so she got soaked, and when we got home we had to towel her off and give her a blow dry.

I spent much of today writing new comics for Irregular Webcomic! I’ve had two weeks of no new strips after the buffer rain out a couple of weeks ago, but now I’m planning to photograph this new batch tomorrow morning and have them ready for Monday.

I made Thai red curry vegetables and rice for dinner tonight – which is the first proper dinner for both of us that we’ve had for some time, as my wife hasn’t felt up to eating much since she got COVID as well, but she’s feeling better now.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Data presentation for beginners

Monday, and the weather was a lot cooler, with a few showers. I had three ethics classes, and then had to head off to the university for this weeks’s Data Engineering lecture. This is one of my favourites in the course, as it’s a lecture I designed about data presentation. It goes into formatting tables, and producing graphs, in ways that are clear and informative, without being confusing or deceptive. It sounds simple, but there’s quite a lot of subtlety to the topic, and the presentation plus the illustrative tutorial exercises for the students to complete fills up over 2.5 hours.

Afterwards I headed home and had to decide to either quickly make a new Irregular Webcomic! strip for tonight, or to abandon the week and just do reruns this week. I ran out of buffer last week and haven’t had time to make a new batch of comics. I decided not to stress myself out, and to give myself a break and hopefully I’ll have time to make a full batch by next Monday.

I made sure I didn’t repeat last week’s mistake and end up not having lunch until 2pm, but having my lunch during a break at at 11:30, before my final ethics class at midday. This meant I wanted a snack during the university lecture, so I grabbed a pack of choc-mint biscuits from the supermarket before I went in. Mmmm….

New content today:

Lightning fast comic writing

Today I had one task I really wanted to complete: Write a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. The current batch runs out this week, so I wanted to be able to photograph a new batch tomorrow morning – which meant writing the whole lot today. Normally it takes me at least a couple of days, sometimes more, to write a batch, as it can be slow work sometimes, with writer’s block and not being able to think of jokes at will. But today I powered through it and … I’ve just finished the batch now, at almost 10pm.

In between I had three ethics classes to teach, Scully to take for walks a few times, dinner to cook, and some sourdough bread to make. Phew.

New content today:

Market without being at market

As mentioned yesterday, today I helped my wife organise her market stall to sell dog bandanas. We got up early and drove over to the market with all the stuff we needed. It’s a bit hectic setting up there, as there is very restricted car access near the market, so you have to queue up for a bit and wait for a car/van to leave before being ushered into the tiny parking area to unload your stuff and get out again as quickly as possible.

We did this and I drove back home with Scully, leaving my wife to handle the stall by herself until the market closed at 3pm, when we did the whole thing in reverse to pack up and head home.

So I had much of the day to myself (and Scully). I spent it writing the rest of that batch of Irregular Webcomic! that I began yesterday. It’s now complete and I can do the photography probably on Tuesday morning when I don’t have any ethics classes.

Speaking of which, I had three more tonight: two of the 10-12 age group, and one class of the new 13-15 group, which had three of the most mature students from the previous class who transferred into it for this year. I think my favourite classes are actually on Sunday evenings, as these classes all have great groups of kids in them.

My wife sold some bandanas and was happy with what she achieved, so that was good. She has a different market booked in a few weeks to see how it goes in a different suburb as well.

New content today:

An anniversary

It’s New Year’s Eve, 2022.

On New Year’s Eve, 2002, I posted this on my web site:

the first Irregular Webcomic! strip

Which makes today the 20th anniversary of Irregular Webcomic!

Who ever thought that I’d still be posting comics under the same banner twenty years later? I didn’t, and in fact I had no idea that the anniversary was today, until a reader told me about it earlier today. So I didn’t have anything special planned to celebrate.

But New Year’s Eve is kind of a celebration anyway. My wife and I had our traditional wine and cheese snacks after dinner. And we noticed Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was newly available on Netflix, so we watched that just now while waiting for midnight to roll around.

See you in 2023!

New content today:

Navigating car navigation

I got up early this morning to take the car in for its annual service. I took Scully, and after dropping off the car we walked home. The goal was to get home after my wife left for work, so that Scully wouldn’t notice her leaving. We managed it, barely, as I spotted my wife leaving and walking down the street as we approached, but fortunately Scully didn’t see her and go running after her.

At home I had just enough time to eat breakfast before my ISO Photography Standards meeting. We discussed depth cameras and organising experiments for them to measure various performance statistics such as depth accuracy, resolution, noise, and so on.

After that I photographed the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. That took me until about 11:30, at which point the car service place rang up and told me the car was ready to pick up. I had lunch at home, and then took Scully for a walk back to the car place. We drove home via the bakery at Naremburn, where I picked up a half dozen fruit mince tarts. Last year we had tarts from this bakery and they were the best ones from all of the places around that we sampled.

On the drive home, I checked the GPS navigation in the car, for which I’d asked them to update the maps. The GPS location seemed to be working, but the maps layer was completely absent. I called them up when I got home, and they said to bring the car back in fr them to look at it. So I had to drive back to the service centre. I waited while they fiddled with it. They tried redownloading the maps into the SD card and reinstalling in the car, and that worked.

I came home again, and spent some time editing photos from my trip to Europe in June. I got to the ones where we did a boat tour along the canals of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. There’s a historical canal that runs through the city centre, and passes underneath several houses.

Binnendieze canal tour

One of the houses had a glass floor and we could look up into the house!

Binnendieze canal tour

Tonight is games night with my friends. It’s a face-to-face fortnight, but we all agreed to do online games this week, since one of the guys has COVID, and another has fears of exposure/symptoms. I just won a game of 7 Wonders, which is something quite rare, so I’m feeling good about the night so far.

New content today: