Standards meeting and gaming

This morning I had a meeting at Standards Australia, the follow-up to the recent ISO international standards meeting on Photography that I attended in early November. But first I had to drop Scully off at doggie daycare, and then head into town on the train.

The meeting was routine and not especially notable, except that we had a new project manager from Standards Australia taking care of the administrative stuff. This is the third manager we’ve had in the past three meetings – the previous one only lasted one meeting. I assume because she got moved onto some other committees, not because there’s anything particularly nasty about ours. In fact I think our committee is an easy one for new staff to get used to the drill, as we are fairly consensus-based and non-contentious. There are other Australian standards committees who are much more tricky to handle, as they have representatives from competing companies.

After the meeting, I headed to the game store in town to pick up a couple of board games I’d ordered: the new edition of Camel Up, and Camel Up: Off Season. The guy looked for the games in the area set aside for customer orders to be picked up, but didn’t find them. After some rummaging around out the back he returned with a copy of Off Season, but no Camel Up. He said there’d obviously been a mix-up and a copy hadn’t been set aside for me. So I’ll have to go back another time to get it.

Immediately back home I went to pick up Scully from the daycare. She really loves spending time there, and she is super tired after spending a few hours playing with other dogs.

Tonight is online board games night with my friends. We’ve played some games of Jaipur, Jump Drive, and Just One, and will continue with some others as the night progresses.

New content today:

Reporting and teleporting

This morning I worked on my report for the Photography Standards meeting I attended at the start of November. I finished it by lunch time and sent it off to Standards Australia. Next week we have a meeting where I will go through the report with various Australian experts from different institutions, universities, and so on. We’ll also be discussing hosting an international meeting in Sydney in October 2024. I’m hoping we can get that happening, as it would be good to have the international delegates come here again.

I had one more class on the ethics of teleportation today. This is a really fun class, because the kids are really being made to think about strange things that they’d never considered before. Today, of the four kids in the class, when I asked how teleportation would change the world, three of them thought of fairly obvious useful things, while one kid kept coming up with evil uses such as sending bombs, or weapons, or sneaking into secure places. Another kid said, “What if someone appears in your bathroom!!”

After that class I had some admin tasks to do on Outschool. I needed to post in all the classes that I’m taking some time off over Christmas, letting parents and students know the last class date for the year and when classes will resume in January. And then I sent messages to the parents of eight former students who were older/more mature, and invited them to enrol in my brand new class for January, Critical and Ethical Thinking for ages 13-15. I created a coupon for any returning students to use for a free first lesson.

I took Scully on a couple of walks, and I spent some time this afternoon going through and editing photos from my trip to Europe in June, adding some to my travel diary. I still have several more days’ worth of photos to edit from that trip. This was our hotel in Würzburg:

Hotel Goldenes Faß, Würzburg

Oh, and today was the first day of summer here, but you’d hardly notice it, as it was chilly and overcast all day. The Bureau of Meteorology released a summary of the spring just ended, and it was unusually cold and wet. Sydney had almost double the average rainfall for the months August-October. In terms of average temperature, it was the coolest spring since 2003, and in terms of the maximum temperatures, it was the coldest spring on record – i.e. the lowest maximum temperatures ever recorded. This is the effects of a third La Niña in succession, combined with a negative Indian Ocean Dipole, which reinforces the cooler/wetter effects. They’re predicting our summer will be unusually cool and wet as well. For the third summer in a row.

New content today:

Photography Standards meeting day 3

I was up at 4am for the third morning in a row for my ISO standards meeting. We had another technical session on camera pixel specifications, which is a new addition to camera definitions that was raised at the previous meeting. After that we did the administrative stuff of recording action items and resolutions and so on. The meeting finished around 10am, leaving me the rest of the day.

I was pretty tired though, so didn’t get a lot done. I went for a walk with my wife and Scully for lunch at the bakery, where I had a mushroom pie, followed by a lemon meringue tart.

For dinner tonight I made potato, rosemary, and feta pizza, with pesto sauce rather than tomato.

Potato, rosemary, feta pizza

New content today:

Photography Standards meeting day 2

I was up at 4am again this morning for the second day of my ISO Photography Standards meeting, dialling into Apple in Cupertino via Webex. Today we had technical sessions all day, including:

  • tripod safety strength;
  • autofocus repeatability;
  • a proposal from a guy related to some of the high dynamic range stuff we discussed yesterday, suggesting additional applications to office printer equipment;
  • image flare;
  • depth metrology;
  • and a proposal for a new work item on a standard relating to measuring the Shannon information theoretic information capacity of photographic images, for the context of determining usability of cameras for machine vision.

There was some very interesting discussion and I was diligently taking notes throughout, so I can report at the follow-up meeting for Australian experts.

After the meeting ended around 11am my time, I took Scully out for a long walk. We walked out to the long headland where the ferry wharf is and I had her chase and retrieve a tennis ball for a bit to run around, and then we walked home again.

Some photos I took on the way. A framed view of the city through an old sandstone house’s veranda:

House with a view

View over the local harbour swimming area (fenced off in the lower part of the photo):

Baths view

The local creek (view looking down from the bridge above):

Berrys Creek

This afternoon I had a couple more ethics classes on Secrets. And then for dinner my wife and I drove over to the Thai restaurant that we go to sometimes, a couple of suburbs over. Given I’ve been up at 4am two days in a row now, I was pretty tired. And given I had breakfast and lunch an hour or two early each (since I got up so early) I was really hungry by dinner time. So it was nice to have a tasty meal that I didn’t have to cook.

And here’s Scully, relaxing with some of her toys:

Scully and toys

New content today:

A discussion of rain forecasts

I didn’t post an entry yesterday because my evening was full of three ethics classes, followed by me very quickly heading to bed so that I could get as much sleep as possible before getting up at 3:50am for the beginning of my ISO Standards meeting this morning.

First up though, I mentioned a while ago about how the Bureau of Meteorology recently changed the way they quote rain forecasts. The new example I gave there was the mathematically bizarre/useless forecast:

50% chance of at least 0 mm of rain.

Well, that’s not all of the mathematical weirdness. A few days back I saw this in my official BoM app and took a screenshot:

rain forecast screenshot

In text, that says:

75% (high) chance of no rain.
50% (medium) chance of at least 1 mm.
25% (low) chance of at least 2 mm.

Now… if there’s 75% chance of no rain, but 50% chance of at least 1 mm… that’s 125%, right. Probabilities do not work that way! Then a few days later my friends and I had this discussion on our Discord chat, where one of my friends attempted to explain – to the best of his understanding – what the actual heck the BoM is trying to say:

forecast discussion

We are smart people, with degrees in maths and science, and we can barely figure out what the BoM is actually trying to say with their new style of rainfall forecasts. The old style was perfectly fine, yet they gave the reason for changing to the new style that the old one was “too confusing”. Yeeesh. 🙄

Anyway, on to today’s activities. Got up at 3:50am as I mentioned, and fired up Webex for my Photography Standards meeting. The first part was administrative stuff, and in future meeting planning I talked about the possibility of hosting a meeting here in Sydney in October 2024. I’d really love it if I can get that organised and happening, as the previously planned meeting for Sydney in 2019 was shifted to Germany at the last minute due to a travel clash with another conference that many of the delegates wanted to attend in Europe (they didn’t want to have to fly from Australia directly to Europe for some reason – I dunno… it’s only 24-25 hours travel time. Wimps.).

Then we discussed technical projects, including the adoption of Adobe’s DNG image file format as an ISO standard (which was reported publicly back in 2018 – these things move slowly sometimes); measuring performance of non-optical image stabilisation methods; and defining high dynamic range and wide colour gamut still image file formats.

After the meeting ended at 11:30am my time, I walked to my wife’s work to pick up Scully, as she’d taken her to work this morning so everyone in her (wife’s) new office could meet her (Scully). I had some lunch nearby and then Scully and I walked home via a roundabout route to get some extra steps in.

For dinner tonight I made mushroom and spinach omelettes. My wife’s turned out perfectly, but I didn’t get a photo of it before she ate it. Mine folded a little messily:

Mushroom spinach omelette

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Gearing up for early rising

I have an ISO Photography Standards meeting to attend this week. The physical meeting is at Apple Park in Cupertino, but I am not travelling there. I really did not relish the thought of being in the USA on this mid-term election day, and with COVID still being such an issue.

So I am attending via Webex meeting (kind of like Zoom, for those of you who don’t know it). The issue of course is that the meeting runs from 9am to 5pm, California time. Which is 4am to midday here in Sydney. So on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning I am going to have to get up about 3:45am and get my brain into gear for highly technical meetings. Since my sleep schedule lately has been fairly late nights of around 11pm, waking around 7am, this is going to be tricky and not fun.

To help adjust, my plan is to get to bed a bit earlier in the preceding days, but given tonight I have an online ethics class running from 9:00-9:45pm, I’m not going to get to bed much earlier tonight, by the time I take Scully out for a final toilet before bed, brush my teeth, and unwind and read in bed a little until I get sleepy.

In other news, I was switched to Duolingo’s new user interface the other day, and it’s horrible. Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics) summed it up in this tweet thread:

Transcript for when/if Twitter goes offline:

@duolingo just got switched to the new version. is there anyway to undo progress? I tested out of a unit but realized I shouldn’t’ve, so I’d been going back and pushing 1* lessons to 5. But in the new version they’re all maxed out at fully completed and I’m lost lol

@duolingo Please, it’s unusable. I keep flunking lessons and there’s no clue as to where the material I skipped is, because now every past lesson looks the same, and it says I’ve fully passed them all. I freely admit my hubris, I’m just tired of all these petards hoisting me

I guess the new UI might be okay for new learners, but for where I’m at with Italian, having completed the course and using the practice reminders for out-of-date skills to reinforce those, it’s impossible. I have no idea what skills I need to practise, or where to find specific grammar or vocabulary in the new “learning path”. It’s basically made it useless for my purposes any more.

So I was prompted today to look at some new method of reinforcing and learning Italian. I decided to check YouTube, and found this channel, Italy Made Easy. I watched one of the intermediate level conversation videos and found it about the right level for me – I could follow most of it, with a bit of help from the subtitles, and also learnt a few things. So this seems promising and aI’ll try to convert my Duolingo time to YouTube time every day from now on.

My new ethics classes tonight are on the topic of Secrets, and I spent this morning writing the lesson outline. This seems to be a good and interesting lesson so far, with two classes down already.

New content today:

The scientific method

I started my new weekly ethics topic with three classes today, on the scientific method. I’m a lot happier with this topic than the last one on digital assets, which I felt was a bit too technical for some of the kids, and they didn’t really enjoy it as much. This one feels better. It’s really more about critical thinking, but since my class is advertised as “Critical and Ethical Thinking”, that’s not a bad thing.

It was supposed to rain here today, being stormy, but there was barely a sprinkle. We may have more move in overnight. The next few days are supposed to be very rainy. We’ll see.

Mostly otherwise I worked on comics, and did my 2.5k run, and took Scully for a walk.

Oh, and I got the agenda and schedule for the next ISO Photography Standards meeting, which is being held at Apple headquarters in Cupertino in November. I’ve decided not to fly over to California this time, but to attend via web conference. That means starting at 4am (9am in California), for three days in a row. It won’t be pleasant, but at this point I prefer that to flying to the United States, given COVID and the political situation over there.

New content today:

Being a busy bee

I had a full day today. I started with my Year 6 ethics class at the local school. We’re in the middle of three lessons talking about tolerating other people’s beliefs, and today we explored what it actually means to tolerate something. Does it mean you don’t try to convince them they’re wrong? Does it mean you should try to understand the reasons why they hold those beliefs? Does it mean you don’t make fun of them? Does it mean their beliefs are as good as yours? This is a well-behaved group of kids, but this morning I had to encourage them to speak – I asked some questions and got silence a few times.

I did a 2.5k run when I got home. And then took Scully for a walk at lunch time.

The afternoon I spent writing up my report for the ISO Photography meeting I attended in Cologne last month. I have to send this to Standards Australia, prior to our follow-up local meeting, which is on Friday next week. This involves going through all my notes from the meeting, plus the various reports that were presented, and distilling it down to highlights and significant events. I completed it and sent it off… just before starting my three online ethics classes in a row.

So it was a very busy, but productive day.

New content today:

Cologne meetings, day 5

It stormed overnight. I heard the heavy rain and thunder briefly in the middle of the night, probably some time after midnight. A bit later it had stopped, but the room was so hot that I was sweating while trying to sleep. I got up and opened the window to let in some cold air, which helped. But I had to close it again a short while later to keep the noise out. It had cooled the room down enough to allow more sleep.

When we went out for breakfast it was cool and overcast. I thought it didn’t look like imminent rain, so we didn’t take umbrellas, but this turned out to be a mistake. We sat outside at the same cafe as yesterday and by the time we were finishing our muesli it started raining, lightly at first, but steadily getting heavier. We followed the lead of a pair of women were were sitting at an adjacent outdoor table and dashed inside to wait out the rain before returning to our hotel. However it looked like it had set in, so we decided to make a dash for it when it became at least a little lighter. As we were about to leave, the cafe owner appeared with an umbrella and said we could borrow it and bring it back tomorrow. I was about to say we wouldn’t be around tomorrow, but my wife reminded me that her plan for the day was to walk north past Eigelstein to Agnesvierteil and Nippes, so she’d be walking right past the cafe later this morning. So that worked perfectly.

We stopped in at the hotel and then split up for the day. I went south towards the cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral in the rain

I had about half an hour to spare before needing to catch my train, so I took the chance to go into the cathedral briefly. Even though we’ve been in there many times, I like to have a quick look at least once every trip.

Inside the Dom

Then I caught my train out to Horrem for today’s closing sessions of the ISO meeting. On the train I spotted a couple of birds which I used Merlin to identify as common wood-pigeons. This brings the number of species I’ve managed to spot and identify here up to 7 as recorded in eBird (but 8 if I also count some mallards at the beer garden on Tuesday night).

The meeting today was all of the closing administrative details, going over action items, resolutions, planning for the next meeting, and other stuff like that. My lunch today was cheese spätzle.

After the meeting business and saying goodbye to all the delegates, I caught the train back to Köln and was back in the hotel room about 3:45. We went out together to get some cake, because oddly enough I hadn’t had a chance to have any cake in Germany yet on this trip! My wife led me to a cafe she’d found with lots of good cakes: Cafe Printen Schmitz. We sat inside, being the only ones to do so, when everyone else was sitting out in the sun. We want to avoid both the sun and the cigarette smoke, so we often end up being the only ones sitting inside at places here. I had a slice of cherry cheesecake, while my wife had some of the house-made gingerbread. The cheesecake was good, but the gingerbread was really excellent – full of ginger flavour and firm and hearty rather than soft.

Having taken care of dessert before dinner, we walked over to the laundry to pick up our clothes that we’d dropped off yesterday. The man was very friendly again, and said he’d given us a 10% discount because we’d said we didn’t need them ironed. I guess that’s part of the normal service and it must be unusual for people to say don’t bother.

Then we wandered slowly towards Henne Weinbar where we had an 18:00 booking. We were a bit early, so stopped to browse in some shops, including a really amazing and large second hand clothing store that sold clothing by weight. We’d also passed a ceramics store the sold tableware and other ceramic items by weight too. Some of the plates looked really good, but we resisted because there’d be no way to carry them home safely.

We arrived at Henne Weinbar just before 18:00 and were shown to a table set for 4 people. We sat on the same side against the staircase so we could both look out into the room. We tried several of the wines, and slowly worked our way through several small sharing dishes, as well as some excellent bread. The food was delicious and inventive, with unusual combinations of ingredients. We had the burrata with dukkah pesto, turnips, basil, and mint; corn croquettes with parmesan lime aioli and pepperoncini; zucchini flower with cacao e pepe stuffing and spicy coloured tomatoes; and the pike perch dumplings with rice bisi, peas, ham, and beurre blanc. M. finished with coffee and we shared a plate of chocolates, which were hand made and had the following flavours: apricot and basil; verbena, raspberry, and cucumber; nut butter, popcorn, and sea salt; kombucha and caramel; and coconut, cashew, and gochugaru (Korean chilli pepper). Overall it was an amazing meal, and a great way to end our stay in Cologne for this trip.

We walked slowly back to our hotel where we had to pack our bags for a quick departure early tomorrow morning, catching trains to ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.

Cologne meetings, day 4: Laundry dramas and too much good food

This morning my wife and I went out to have some breakfast at the cafe near Eigelstein-Torburg that opens at 09:00. They had two choices of muesli: Nußmüsli and Früchtesmüsli. Both had nuts and fruit in them! We ordered one of each, and when they arrived it seemed that the major difference was actually that the nut-muesli had toasted muesli chunks, whereas the fruit-muesli had raw rolled oats. There was no indication whatsoever of this difference in the menu listings. They were generous serves with yoghurt, a very filling breakfast.

After eating we went back to our room to pack some laundry into a bag for me to take to a laundry we’d found in Ehrenfeld yesterday. We left the room and my wife left me at the station, where I caught a train to Ehrenfeld. I found the laundry and asked if they spoke English, but the woman there said she only spoke German. I tried to indicate that I wanted the clothes washed for pickup tomorrow, but we had a miscommunication that I only realised after I’d left. She thought I wanted them this afternoon, not tomorrow afternoon, and quoted me a high “express” price, and said I couldn’t have them before 16:00, which was too late for my planned pickup time tomorrow. Also, she said they’d only do pants and shirts, not underwear and socks. And the quoted cost was 31€, which was way more than I wanted to pay. So I ended up leaving without dropping any of the laundry off, and only figured out the communication error on the train to Horrem.

At the meeting I had the same peanut soba noodles as I’d had on Monday for lunch. I enjoyed it on Monday, and felt it was healthier than the chicken schnitzel option we were presented with yesterday when choosing our lunches. Technical sessions today were on camera resolution measurement (which included a technical presentation by Bosch on difficulties they had measuring wide angle automative cameras using the ISO standard), the RIMM and eciRGB image file formats, and a new project on pixel-related camera specifications.

After the meeting I went back to the hotel. My wife was waiting for me at the station, having found another laundry where we might be able to drop our clothes. It was on the way to walking to dinner tonight, and open until 17:30, so we had time to go back to the hotel and drop my bag before heading there. This was a much better result, as the guy there spoke English and he was fine to was everything, although he insisted on having to do it as two loads to separate the lights and darks. Even when we said we just wash them together he said he wouldn’t because he’d be responsible if any of the colours ran. Anyway, he said we could have them back around 15:00 tomorrow, which was perfect. I can probably pick them up on the way home from the meeting tomorrow.

We walked slowly onwards to our dinner at Belgischer Hof – a place we’d eaten last time in 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed. We had some time to kill before our booking, so we stopped in some fo the trendy and funky shops along the way, looking at art, photography, homewares, books, and antique kitsch.

At Belgischer Hof, we were shown to a small room up the front, different to the large room out the back where we’d eaten last time. Our waitress spoke decent English and we ordered the Vorspeisenvariation, a mixed appetiser platter for two people, plus flammkuche. One had brie, radicchio, green onions, apple, and almonds, while the other had Reblochon cheese, tomato chutney, rocket pesto, and shiitake. Quite the mix of ingredients! All six of the flammkiche on the menu were completely vegetarian, so we had plenty of choice. The appetiser board was amazing, with three small jars of differently spiced salads made with lentils, chick peas, bulgar wheat; some dark rye bread; a fish tartare (I suspect it was herring); curry waffles; a green salad; a goat’s cheese and tomato brûlée; pickled beetroot; slices of ham; and small chunks of some sort of roasted meat (I suspect pork) with mushrooms. We were getting full already after this, so it’s lucky flammkuche are not too heavy!

Appetiser board

Stuffed to the gills, we walked home slowly. We were lucky to beat the forecast thunderstorms, which were predicted earlier to break around 20:00, but now we’re back at the hotel the forecast has been pushed out to around midnight for the onset of the storms. Hopefully they will cool things down a bit, because it was too hot today.


Minoritenkirche, Cologne