Trigonometric survey

In my friends’ Discord chat today one of them posed this:

Survey question. You’re doing a trigonometry question. It says you’re standing on a cliff 250m high looking at a rock that’s 450m away. Is 450m the hypotenuse or the base of the resulting triangle?

Just to be silly, I quickly drew this:

Trig drawing 1

But then another friend one-upped me with this:

Trig drawing 2

Incidentally, the original friend asked “Survey question” because he was surveying us to find out what we thought of this poorly framed high school maths question. A coworker had asked him for advice on what to advise his child while doing homework, and my friend decided to canvas for opinions. But at least two of us thought he’d said “Survey question” as a prelude to a question about surveying. English is funny sometimes.

This evening I had a Zoom meeting for ISO photography standards. This is an ad-hoc group meeting for one particular standard: ISO 15739 Visual Noise, held between the regular week-long digital photography meetings. The group of experts working on this particular standard have ongoing experimental work to discuss, so the project leaders organised this interim meeting to go through some technical details. We met for 90 minutes, and there was a lot of very interesting discussion. We agreed on the plan for further experimentation, which will be done hopefully it time for the next meeting in October.

For dinner tonight I varied my pizza making by trying out some calzones.

Calzones for dinner

I filled one with spinach and ricotta, and the other with mushrooms and ricotta. I didn’t know how much the insides would cook in the oven, so I pre-cooked the spinach and the mushrooms, and that seemed to work well. I also made a tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and herbs for spooning on top.

Calzones for dinner

They turned out really well! I was a little worried about the insides leaking in the oven, but they were fine, and delicious. My wife told me I can definitely make these again.

New content today:

Piratey games night

What did I do today?

I went to the supermarket to pick up my big weekly grocery shop, that I’d ordered online for fast pickup. This time I said I was “in my way” a good ten minutes before I left home, and when I arrived it was ready for me to grab and go, which was better than the waiting around I had to do last week.

I did discover a slightly annoying thing. The minimum order of green beans from the fresh vege section was 0.25 kg, so that’s what I ordered. It turned out to be about 5 times as many beans as I normally buy! We’ll be eating beans with a lot of meals over the next week. And… the same thing with mushrooms.

From 11 am I had a photography standards meeting. This is the Standards Australia meeting to follow-up from the international ISO meeting I attended last month. As the chair of the Australian committee, I presented a report on the international meeting for the benefit of the Australian experts. Our committee is doing really well, having grown in membership recently, so this is really satisfying work.

Then at 4 pm I had another ethics class, with the prejudice topic.

And now in the evening it’s virtual board games night with my friends. We started with a game of Nidavellir, which is one of our current favourites. And I actually won the game, although I’m not sure I have a good grip on the strategy yet. We’re now into our ongoing game of Forgotten Waters, that we started a few weeks ago.

In COVID news, NSW recorded 136 new cases, which sets another new record for the year. Case numbers have gone up alarmingly in the past two days, and the number of people infectious without being in isolation is going up too. It feels like the outbreak is slipping out of control, despite the current lockdown regulations. The lockdown was scheduled to end on 30 June, but I can’t see any way that it won’t be extended, and in fact tightened even further. I feel like the only thing we can do now is hunker down, avoid people, and wait for our second vaccinations.

New content today:

Photographing Lego and writing ethical dilemmas

My two big tasks for today were photographing the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, and writing a new lesson outline for the next week of online ethics classes.

I got stuck into the comic photographing early, after I’d finished breakfast. Normally a batch takes me all morning, finishing around lunch time, but I raced through it today and finished a bit early. This gave me time to take Scully for a walk and buy some milk which we needed.

And then I did a bit of administrative work for ISO photography standards. I forgot yesterday that I had to write some comments documents for a group of five photographic chemical standards which are up for renewal this year. These standards failed to be renewed because not enough countries indicated they were still using them, so now we have a ballot to object to their withdrawals, which was something that was agreed we should do during the meeting in June, since obviously a lot of people still do chemical based photography. Anyway, I had to pull out my wife’s laptop again because I had to write comments in MS Word.

That done, I turned to writing my lesson plan for the upcoming week of ethics classes I’m teaching, starting this evening. So I had a hard deadline of a few hours. I wrote a class about ethical consumerism, and during this evening’s class we discussed the ethics of developed nations asking tropical communities to cut down forests in order to grow cash crops such as sugar, coffee, and palm oil. We went from there to product choices in supermarkets, and pondering whether ingredients should be labelled with source information, so consumers can choose products with awareness of such issues.

Last week in this timeslot I had only one girl in the class, but today there were two new students, and it was a nice variety of opinions. One was pretty adamant that companies should be forced by law to label products sourced from ethically questionable practices, and that people not buying those products would effectively stop the practices, while another kid was of the opinion that companies should not be forced to do anything, but rather provided incentives such as lower tax if they use ethical sourcing, and that consumers boycotting products was pointless because not enough would ever do so to have any effect. So it was a good class!

New content today:

Comics and Standards reporting

I did two main things today: Finished writing that batch of new Irregular Webcomic! strips, and wrote a report on the ISO Standards meeting I attended a few weeks ago. There’s not too much to say about the first, except that finished the batch, so I’m ready to do the photography first thing tomorrow.

The second: I have to write a report on each international standards meeting I attend, to deliver to Standards Australia, and then go through with Australian experts during a follow-up meeting. We have that meeting next week, so it was time I wrote up the report. It’s a little tricky because the template I have to use is a Microsoft Word template, but I don’t have Word on my Mac. Apple’s Pages will open the document, but it gets the formatting badly wrong – so badly that it’s impossible for me to edit the document in Pages. So I have to edit it in Word. My wife has Word on her laptop since she needed it for work purposes – so I’m not about to pay for another license to put it on my desktop. So… I have to set up file sharing between the two machines, transfer my docs to the laptop, edit in Word there, then export to PDF and then transfer the lot back to my desktop. Which is why I tend to put off the task until I can’t any longer.

Anyway, it’s done now, so I can breathe easy again for a while.

For dinner tonight I tried a new recipe, from a TV show I saw a few weeks ago. They have the recipe online, so I can just link to it for you: Forever-roasted pumpkin with lemon pepper butter. I tried to find curry leaves in my supermarket, but they didn’t have them, so I settled for sage instead. It turned out delicious, although an entire half butternut pumpkin was very filling as a meal for me and my wife. Next time I’ll do half as much, and serve it with a light side dish.

We both separately tried taking Scully out in her new doggie-carry backpack today. She’s a little tricky to get in, being a bit squirmy, but once tucked into the pack she settles down nicely and really seems to enjoy the ride. We want to keep using the backpack regularly so she gets used to it and sees it as something totally normal.

New content today:

Closing the ISO meeting

It was back to work today after the long weekend for my wife. This gave me time to work on catching up on Darths & Droids writing to repopulate the buffer. I want to get several strips in reserve because next week I have surgery to remove my tonsils (mentioned previously), and I’m not sure how productive I’ll be able to be for the few days afterwards. Surgery is never fun and I’m not looking forward to it.

This afternoon I took Scully to the dog park. It was a chilly day, and partly cloudy, and as the afternoon passed it threatened rain. Fortunately the rain didn’t develop while we were out at the park, but the clouds were dramatic and illuminated beautifully when the sun approached the horizon.

Blazing sunset at the dog park

With sunset being around 5pm here at the moment, it’s starting to get dark by the time we head home from the dog park. I always look forward to the winter solstice and knowing that the sunlight hours are starting to get longer again.

New content today:

Last late night and market day

Last night was the last of five late nights of Zoom meetings for photography standards. The session again began at 23:00 and ended a few minutes late, after 02:30. The wrap-up session is administrative stuff, going over results from the technical discussions, action items, and setting up the next meeting, which will be in October. One important issue was deciding on a response to the Chinese notice of intention to start working on photography related standards within the International Telecommunications Union. I won’t go into details here, but we’re putting on the diplomatic cotton gloves because this is potentially a large issue.

I slept in to 08:00 this morning, but then had to get up to prepare for the day at Turramurra Market. I’d driven most of my stock out yesterday evening and set it up in the venue (which is locked up overnight). So this morning I basically only had to show up on time, and set up a small amount of additional stock that I brought on the second trip. My wife and Scully came along, so she could sell her doggie bandanas as well.

The market was… small. Very small. Smaller than I expected. There were just nine stalls, including mine. Lindfield has about 50 stalls, and Kirribilli which I did twice has close to 200, and of course correspondingly higher traffic. People did come through regularly, but there were never any significant numbers – maybe a maximum of 8 or 9 people browsing at any one time, and dropping down to virtually zero at times. I sold a few greeting cards, but not enough to make a profit on the stall rental. And we are booked to do it again tomorrow. Hopefully more people will come through on the Sunday.

Our stall was next to a woman selling biscuits. She had a small baking company, making shortbread style sweet and savoury biscuits. Food stalls always do well. People walk past my photography stall and have a glance and, no, they don’t have any use for greeting cards or a wall hanging. But everyone eats. So she was selling biscuits hand over fist. In between we chatted and she was telling me stories about her life and travels around the world. It was good, because it helped to pass the time in which there were no customers!

When the market closed up for the day we came home, and then went out for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. After a long week, I really felt like relaxing and having a nice dinner that I didn’t have to cook. Just the market tomorrow to go, and then I can really relax next week.

New content today:

Surprisingly easy Friday

After yesterday’s horrible headlong crash into COVID-19 vaccination side effects, I managed to get a decent sleep and woke up this morning feeling a lot better. And also much more refreshed than I had any right to be after going to bed at 02:30. I presume the nap attempts I took yesterday helped. I was actually much more alert during last night’s standards meeting than I have been any previous night, as well. So I’m happy to report that the feverish/lethargic reaction to the vaccine has passed almost as quickly as it came on.

Last night’s standards meeting went through a few more technical sessions, on image stabilisation, depth metrology, and high dynamic range and wide colour gamut image encoding.

After I woke up this morning, I had the weekly grocery shop to do. I spent some time working on Darths & Droids, and then had my online ethics class in the afternoon, today with 5 students, which is a new record number. It does mean each student doesn’t get as much time to answer questions and I have to cycle through them, but hopefully they all enjoyed it and got something valuable out of it. The topic today was advertising, and pondering questions of why we have advertising, whether you can trust it, and whether it should be regulated in various ways.

After that, I drove out to Turramurra (a Sydney suburb) with the car full of stock for my market stall, as I am running the stall there on both days of this weekend. The venue is indoors and was available for setting up this evening to save time tomorrow morning. I was happy to take advantage of this since I won’t want to get up early tomorrow after another 02:30 finish for tonight’s ISO meeting!

Then I drove home again and watched the Twitch stream of a guy who was solving puzzles from the 2016 mezzacotta Puzzle Competition that I’d written. And that ended just before tonight’s ISO meeting session, which I’m now in…

New content today:

COVID vaccine effects

Last night was rough. As I said yesterday, I had my first COVID-19 vaccination. I’ve never had any reactions to flu shots before, so I wasn’t expecting much.

As the evening wore on and I prepared for my 23:00 start for the ongoing ISO standards meetings, I began to feel worse. I was very tired, although that could easily have been due to the accumulation of late nights, but I also started feeling a bit feverish. Then a lot feverish. I started shivering during the ISO meeting, quite violently. This was not helped at all by the fact that we’re experiencing unusually cold weather at the moment. I was rugged up with warm clothes, but still felt pretty bad, and I had to struggle through the Zoom meeting in this state.

Finally after the meeting ended at 02:30 I crawled into bed, feeling pretty awful, chilly and shivering. It took me a long time to warm up and fall asleep. Then this morning I had to get up at 07:00 rather than sleeping in, because my wife had a Zoom interview and wanted me to take Scully out so there’d be no interruptions.

I rugged up again and took Scully up the street to a nearby cafe for breakfast. I very rarely go out for breakfast, but when I do I often have eggs benedict, since I’ve never felt like tackling hollandaise sauce at home. So I got that, and it was very good. Although the weather was cold—and more about that in a minute—I felt better and was comfortable with Scully keeping my lap warm as I ate.

I was waiting for my wife to message me that she’d finished her Zoom call and had gone to work, so I could drop Scully at the office with her. But I’d finished eating and was ready to go, and no message. So I decided to see what sweets they had, and the carrot cake looked good. When the waitress came by, I asked, “Can I please have a slice of the carrot (ping!) cake?” The ping was the message from my wife! But now I’d committed to the cake and couldn’t back down. So I sat for another 15 minutes and ate the cake. It was really good, a top notch carrot cake, and I don’t regret it at all.

Today I tried to have a bit of a nap around lunch time, when I had a sudden wave of tiredness. I’m not sure if I really slept, but lying down and closing my eyes for 1.5 hours seemed to help. I also hopped into bed after dinner, at 8pm, to try and sleep a little before tonight’s meeting began at 23:00 again. As I type, the meeting has just begun, and I feel much better than last night. So the COVID vaccine reaction lasted about 24 hours and seems to have subsided fully now.

On to weather. Today was remarkable – it was very cold. The temperature in Sydney rose to only 10.3°C, which was the coldest day for 25 years, and the coldest June day for 122 years. And persistent light rain and wind made it feel even colder. A lot of areas further inland got snow, and there were many images of it as the lead item on the news tonight.

Finally, last night’s photography standards meeting was again interesting, with technical discussion of image noise measurement, camera autofocus performance, and image flare measurement. We also had an update on the issue with China pursuing separate standards via the ITU which I mentioned yesterday. The representative from Apple had had a conversation with Apple’s legal team and reported that standards work is technically open – if interested members of the public want to access meeting records they can, although the process is not necessarily easy. So the US State Department prohibition on US citizens meeting Huawei employees doesn’t apply. Also, there was some other legal advice regarding how ISO can react to other organisations essentially stealing scope. Overall it’s going to be an interesting process to see what happens out of this.

New content today:

Taking it easy… until 2:30 am

Last night I had the second night of Zoom meetings for ISO Photograph standards. We got stuck into the technical sessions. First up was a presentation by some people from JPEG (by which I mean ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1, Subcommittee 29), mostly about the new JPEG XS streaming image file format they are developing. They explained briefly how it worked and the advantages over other streaming image compression methods. They also gave some updates on other things that JPEG are working on. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about image coding formats so didn’t get a whole lot out of it, but some parts were interesting.

Next was discussion of the revision of ISO 12233, a standard for measuring camera lens resolution. This has been being updated for nearly 3 years now, and we’re still not converging on something agreeable to all the technical experts in all countries. We ended up with the project leader deciding to give it one more go and submit a new draft for balloting, to see if we can get it finalised before the looming project deadline. If we can’t get consensus with that, we may have to cancel the project and restart it afresh.

Then we had updates on the adoption of Adobe’s DNG digital negative format as an ISO standard. That seems to be progressing slowly, as it has for a couple of years now.

And finally we had a new liaison proposal letter from the International Telecommunications Union, suggesting a formal liaison with a new group under that organisation who are proposing to standardise material related to (1) automatic white balance, (2) image metadata related to aesthetic qualities, and (3) metadata related to computational photography. This was interesting, because as the ISO committee on photography, these things very likely fall under our scope, and other organisations trying to standardise them pose a danger of proliferating/incompatible standards. And a further issue was that every single person listed on the liaison technical committee leadership was Chinese. The Chinese are known for pursuing their own standardisation goals, including existing cases where China then adopts a commercial standard that other countries don’t use, but which manufacturers in other countries suddenly need to follow if they want to continue doing business in China. So this is quite a delicate situation. It was further complicated by the US delegates pointing out that they are forbidden by the US State Department from conducting closed meetings (i.e. meetings not open to the public) with representatives of Huawei. The proposed liaison could be construed as such a meeting. So we actually have a very tricky situation to deal with. Most people at the meeting last night suggested that the best thing to do was ignore the liaison request, while others suggested a measured response to probe exactly what their intentions are and to point out that their proposals fall within ISO scope, and hint that they should back off. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out.

After the meeting ended, a few minutes late at about 02:40 this morning, I finally went to bed. I couldn’t sleep in too late this morning, as I had my face-to-face ethics class at the local school. I was extremely tired last night, but my body is still in the same time zone, so during the day today I didn’t feel too bad. Tonight at the meeting is going to be difficult though.

After ethics I had a booking for my first COVID-19 vaccination shot. It was very quick and easy, but I had to drive a few suburbs away to a clinic that was doing them. As it was lunchtime, I found a bakery afterwards to grab some lunch, which I reviewed once more for Snot Block & Roll.

This afternoon I considered taking a nap to catch up on sleep, but I’ve never been able to have naps effectively. I just can’t fall asleep during daylight hours. And I didn’t even feel all that tired, so it would have been pretty impossible. So I just relaxed and did some fun things. Let’s see how I go tonight…

New content today:

Sausage roll expedition

After writing yesterday’s entry in the early evening, I had the first night of my late night ISO Standards Zoom meeting, beginning at 11pm. The opening session is administrative stuff, and much of it was taken up with discussion of how to schedule the next meeting in October this year. Some people believe that they will be able to travel and are keen to begin starting face-to-face meetings again. Apple has offered to host a physical meeting at their offices in Cupertino. Normally I’d like to go, but there’s no way that Australians will be allowed to leave the country that soon. And there’s the prospect that ISO’s current ban on physical meetings (currently to the end of August) will be extended to October, forcing the meeting to be virtual again. But despite this, enough people were keen to try for a physical meeting that we ended up with a convoluted contingency plan that will try to encompass both options.

The next thing was to settle—if the meeting became fully virtual—what time slot it should occupy. The present meeting starts at 09:00 New York City time, which translates to 23:00 here in Sydney, and ends at 02:30 in the morning for me. Which is pretty bad…. but the chair proposed that to make things easier for the US west coast next time, who currently are beginning at 06:00, we begin the next meeting three hours later. Midday in NYC and 09:00 on the US west coast… and 03:00 here in Sydney (it’s 4 hours later since we go onto daylight saving at the start of October).

Yeah, you can bet I spoke up and pointed out that I’d have to start the meeting at 04:00, and also Japan would have to start at 02:00. After some discussion it was decided the time should be moved another 3 hours later, beginning at 07:00 Sydney, and 05:00 Japan, which was deemed acceptable by the Japanese delegates. So phew!

There was one technical session following the administrative stuff, but it was the one I personally have the least knowledge about, so I basically just listened silently and waited for the session to end so I could go to bed.

Today I slept in a little, but probably not enough. I decided instead of sitting at home all day I should go out and get some fresh air and exercise. I went on an expedition to a new cafe that was recommended to me for its sausage rolls. I’ve written up the review for Snot Block & Roll.

Back home I did a bit of work for my online ethics class planning. And made pumpkin soup for dinner. And now I need to stay up for another late night Standards Zoom meeting.

New content today: