Standards, Lego, games

This morning I had to move an ethics class to make room for a Standards Australia Photography committee meeting. I’ve been serving as the chair of this committee for 9 years come December, and the tenure limit is 9 years, so we had to have a discussion about finding someone else to chair the committee. This shouldn’t be a lot of work, as I confirmed with our committee manager that I can continue to attend the ISO international meetings and compile reports, while someone else chairs the committee. That’s 90% or more of the work involved. So hopefully someone will nominate to serve as the new chair while I continue to do the work that I want to do. if nobody does, then I don’t know if the committee will be forced to fold, leaving me unable to do the work any more.

Here’s stage 22 of the Lego Dungeons & Dragons set build. It fills out the upper floor with a cool looking wizard’s chamber or something, with books and candles and a cool skull.

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Tonight is online games night with my friends. My wife is out having dinner with her friends, so I just walked with Scully up to the fish and chips shop to get some dinner there. We’re currently playing the quantum trick-taking game Cat in the Box.

New content today:

Tradition, innovation, and standards

This morning I wrote up my lesson plan for the new week’s ethics class on the topic of “Tradition vs Innovation”. I decided to include the story about how Kodak in the 1970s and 80s suppressed digital camera technology by buying up patents and not developing the tech themselves, in order to keep their photographic film business profitable. Of course eventually other companies developed alternative digital technology and the genie got let out of the bottle, resulting in a rapid uptake of digital cameras and the collapse of the film market, and ultimately the bankruptcy of Kodak. I use this to frame several questions about the conflict between old methods and new innovations.

In one of my classes tonight on this topic, I had a new student, from Saudi Arabia, my first from that country. That brings my total list of students’ countries to 54. Unfortunately he was a bit too young for the class, and I think overwhelmed by the discussion. I had to advise his parent to remove him from the class afterwards, and maybe try again in a year or so.

I also worked today on writing up a form to propose a new revision of an ISO photography standard to be adopted as an Australian standard. I was supposed to do this asap after the last meeting we had, but hadn’t got around to it. Since our next Australian committee meeting is on Friday, I thought I better do it!

Today was again very cold, but the rain held off for the most part during daylight. Scully and I did cop a light sprinkle while out for a long lunchtime walk. But the clouds opened up around sunset and now as I type this it’s pouring down out there. Not looking forward to taking Scully out for her pre-bedtime toilet.

New content today:

Virtual New York meeting: day 4

Thankfully the final day of the ISO Photography Standards meeting is mostly administrative and usually ends a bit early. There was one technical session to start, before moving into admin. During a break I had a piece of apple strudel which we’d got as a take-away dessert from the restaurant where we had dinner last night.

The meeting wound up around 4:30am, and I crawled into bed to finally get some sleep. I ended up sleeping until around 9:30 before I got up.

I did some easy, relaxing things today. I built another stage of my Lego Dungeons & Dragons set. I also did one yesterday, so I have two stages worth to show off. Here is stage 13, which starts building a new section of the diorama:

Lego D&D stage 13

This section is a baseplate with some rudiments of walls and the beginning of a staircase. There’s also some weird pink plant growth in places. And candles with green flames!

Lego D&D stage 13

Then today stage 14 added a very cool spiral staircase up to the first floor and the beginning of more stairs going up further.

Lego D&D stage 14

There are two doors into this area. And I think that small round thing in the corner is a well.

Lego D&D stage 14

My wife went out today to see Death of a Salesman on stage in the city. So I had the afternoon with Scully at home. The weather was very cold and grey, with intermittent rain, so not fun for going outside at all. Sydney only reached a maximum of 13.8°C today, which is about as cold as it gets in winter.

For dinner I made spicy chick peas in tomato sauce, served over rice. I made this specifically so I could use up some remaining spinach before it went off. And I forgot to put the spinach in! Everything was cooked and ready to serve, but I chopped up the spinach and threw it in the sauce and stirred it through. Fortunately spinach only takes about 10 seconds to cook.

Oh, and I took this photo yesterday, of an old house on a street corner. Evidently the owner refused to sell to developers, and now a huge apartment tower complex is being built on both sides of the house. You can see the building work being down on the left and right – it’s the same building site, wrapping around the back of the house.

Nail house

Time to get a full night’s sleep tonight!!

New content today:

Virtual New York meeting: day 3

I stayed up for the full hours of the ISO Photography Standards meeting, from 11pm, although it finished a little early, around 5:30am instead of 7am. I crawled into bed, but didn’t get any sleep since my wife got up at 6:15 to go to the gym before work.

I had breakfast and then took Scully out for a morning walk. During the day I worked slowly on some Darths & Droids writing, trying to use the opportunity of a day without ethics classes to get ahead. But I was tired so it was hard to think properly.

I had to pack up some stuff to send in the mail and decided to take Scully up to the post office and get an early lunch because I was hungry, and also because there was rain incoming and I wanted to beat it. I had a snack during the night to keep me going – a Napoli biscuit that I’d bought from Maggio’s with my lunch. But being awake all night must burn a lot of energy because I had my regular breakfast and then was hungry again by 11am.

The rain hit soon after lunch and set in for the rest of the day. It’s still coming down now, close to midnight, with almost 60 mm having fallen.

I tried to nap from about 2pm to get some sleep, but don’t think I did any more than lie there trying to fall asleep, despite being very tired.

My wife tried to contact me to pick her up from work, but I wasn’t paying attention to my phone until it actually rang. I got up and drove over there, picking her up in the rain. We drove over to another suburb to pick up a new pair of glasses for her, then came back to get our grocery order, which I’d put in online for pickup in the evening instead of the usual morning. We decided to take the opportunity of being parked at the supermarket to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Then we picked up the shopping and came home for an early evening.

I had a shower to warm up and then hopped into bed by 8:30pm to try and get any sleep at all before getting up again at 10:30 for tonight’s ISO meeting session. Thankfully it’s the last day of the meeting, and should wrap up a bit early so I can crawl into bed in the wee hours again.

New content today:

Virtual New York meeting: day 1

I went to bed a little early last night, in an attempt to get a bit more sleep before my alarm woke me just before 3am. It didn’t work, because I wasn’t tired enough to sleep, and then my mind started thinking about having to get up early, and I had trouble getting to sleep.

When the awful hour struck I got up, made myself a cup of Bengal Spice tea to warm myself up, and connected to the meeting videoconference. The first session was administrative stuff as usual. I had to talk about the logistics for the next meeting, which I’m hosting in Sydney in October. We decided to set that meeting from Tuesday to Friday, 15-18 October, dropping the tentative Monday from the schedule. There were some questions from the meeting which I had to action and liaise with Standards Australia to get answers about. In particular, the meeting in Sydney is only authorised for two working groups of the ISO Photography committee, but it’s highly likely that by October a new working group will be initiated, and it would be sensible to have it meet jointly, as many of the experts overlap. So I had to check that we can add an extra working group to the meeting or if that would cause administrative issues.

The meeting wrapped early for the day, so instead of going until 7am, I ended a bit after 5am. I went back to bed and tried to get some sleep, but again couldn’t really fall asleep properly. I was so cold that despite two hours huddled under the quilt, I still felt cold when I got up again after 7. So as far as I can tell I basically got no sleep at all last night.

Tonight’s session is all technical discussion of high dynamic range image formats, which is outside my expertise, and frankly I find a bit tedious. So I’m going to skip the whole day and get some decent sleep tonight (hopefully). And hopefully that’ll be enough to mean I can struggle through full nights awake on Thursday and Friday.

The daylight hours today were cold, and it got extremely windy in the middle of the day. We recorded gusts up to 100 km/h. I had to venture out because I made a sale of piles of old Netrunner cards via my eBay listings yesterday. A buyer actually contacted me looking for specific rare cards and I said I had opened cards and could look through them. I confirmed I had 7 of the 8 cards he was looking for to complete his collection. I hadn’t listed the loose cards on eBay, so I created a buy-it-now listing for local pickup only and told him to buy it. Then we could exchange contact information through eBay (without violating the terms of service), and I drove over to his place to deliver them, only 5 minutes drive away.

While out there, I took Scully for a walk down to the harbour shore before driving home. It was so windy by the water that we had to retreat quickly back into the shelter of the house-lined streets. It really was horribly windy, with whole trees swaying, and big whitecaps on the usually placid harbour.

This afternoon I listed more old gaming items on eBay: a bunch of Blood Bowl miniatures that I bought back in 1996 for the (excellent) 3rd edition of the game, but never got around to painting. I had two whole teams, plus 8 blister packs of star players, all in the original packaging.

For dinner I made okonomiyaki again, using up the other half of the cabbage quarter I’d bought last week. I tried adding a bit of sriracha sauce to mine for some spicy kick. Probably horrifying many Japanese cooks, but it tasted good!

New content today:

King’s birthday classes

Today was the King’s Birthday public holiday. Which still feels weird after it having been the Queen’s Birthday for my entire life before Charles took over from Elizabeth. So my wife was home from work, while I had to do my usual 6 ethics classes, since they don’t respect Australian holidays (unless I want them to).

But today was the last classes for a full week, since I am taking a week’s break from them to give me room and time for the ISO Photography Standards meeting happening from Wednesday to Saturday – in my time zone – it’s Tuesday to Friday in New York where it’s physically being held. It starts lunchtime Tuesday in New York, which means for me getting up at 3am on Wednesday morning for the first session, which I’ll be attending via Webex videoconference.

After my first four classes in the morning, we went for a walk with Scully, around Waverton and the harbour shore. We went past Botanica Garden Cafe to see what was up with the closure and if there was any indication that it might just be temporary or if it looked permanent. The tables and chairs in the courtyard had been removed and there was no sign indicating anything in particular, so it looks like it might be permanent.

And then to make things even worse, we continued down the street and walked past another favourite place, the Waterview, only to find that it had closed too, and the shop had been gutted of all the furniture and counters! It was a cafe by day and an Italian restaurant in the evenings and had great food.

I’m not sure I can take any more closures of good food places nearby!

New content today:

Writing an overdue report

This week is mid-semester break at the university, so I didn’t have to go in for a Data Engineering session. I used the extra time to tackle a task that I should have done a few weeks ago: writing up my report for Standards Australia on the ISO Photography Standards meeting that was held in Tokyo in February. They say I should have the report submitted within a month of the meeting, but I’ve been a bit late in the past and they haven’t said anything. So anyway, today I knuckled down and wrote the report and then submitted it.

That took a good few hours. I finished about the time I finished eating my lunch (I got hungry and made it and ate at my desk as I worked). After that I took Scully for a walk. We went to the post office, because I had another batch of Magic: the Gathering cards that I’d sold which I had to mail.

We got back, and my wife got home soon afterwards. She’d taken the afternoon off to take Scully in to the vet to get a vaccination for leptospirosis. We’d wanted to get her vaccinated for this some time ago, but they had a shortage of the vaccine and it only just became available again. So we had flu shots yesterday and Scully got her own shot today. She seems not to have suffered any strange effects from it, acting normally all evening.

And while they were at the vet I sold another Magic card (yes, one – I sold it for over $400) and went for another walk up to the post office to mail it.

This evening I had the first three classes of the new “Dreams” topic this week. It’s an interesting one. A couple of the kids had obviously read up about dreams and knew all about lucid dreaming and the conjectured biological purposes of dreams and so on, while others were just going off their own experiences and trying to think questions through from that perspective.

New content today:

Virtual Tokyo meeting, day 3

The final day of the ISO Photography Standards meeting was relatively easy compared to the first two. We had technical sessions on ISO DNG file format, and measuring image flare. This last one was the most interesting to me, and there was a cool presentation with videos showing how image flare changes as a bright light source is moved across the image frame. After this we had the closing plenary session, with administrative wrapping up of the meeting, finalising action items, and so on.

In between I spent a bit of time working on new character sheets to print out for D&D tomorrow night. Everyone has levelled up to third level and I also want to introduce a variant combat rule that relies on PCs making defence rolls instead of monsters making attack rolls, so I thought it was a good time to refresh the character sheets to contain the new defence roll stat.

The weather was warm, and I thought the air conditioning was struggling, until my wife got home and pointed out that one of the living room windows had been wide open all day! Oops.

New content today:

Virtual Tokyo meeting, day 2

It’s day 2 of the ISO Photography Standards meeting in Tokyo, which I’m attending virtually from home. But this morning’s first two sessions I had to miss as I had to go into the University of Technology, Sydney, for the first lecture of this year’s first year Data Engineering course. I’m tutoring the class again, which has about 150 students. The lecturer gave the introductory lecture and introduced me and the other tutors. In past years the course has been held in the evening, but this year it’s been timetabled from 12-3pm. This is actually good because it doesn’t clash with any of my existing online ethics classes, unlike in previous years when I’ve had to move some of them around. But it did mean I had to miss those first two sessions of the ISO meeting today.

I went into the city and grabbed some sushi from Woolies (supermarket) to eat quickly before the class began. I also dropped in at the photo printer I use to make art prints of my photos, to pick up the canvas print of a Portuguese door that I had made for a friend. I was hoping I could get it home on the train without having to deal with rain, and fortunately the unsettled weather held off so I got it home safely.

This afternoon/evening the standards sessions covered technical discussions on: revising the “Removable memory” standard to reflect modern movement away from removable memory in cameras; a new standard proposal on machine vision cameras; the current draft of the autofocus repeatability standard; and long discussions on high dynamic range gain maps and how to use them.

New content today:

Virtual Tokyo meeting, day 1

I’m virtually in Tokyo this week, attending the ISO Photography Standards meeting there by remote video link. Of course I’m actually still in Sydney, enjoying our super wet and humid weather. We had more thunderstorms today, but not as severe as yesterday.

The meeting began at 10:30 my time, so I had time to take Scully on a long walk this morning, with the goal of trying her out so she’d be relaxed for most of the day while I’m wired to the computer. I took her down the peninsula towards the ferry wharf, although not quite that far, as that’s a really long walk. She was indeed tired by the time we got home. Although it didn’t rain, I was soaking wet with the sweat and humidity and had to change my shirt again. On the way back in, we passed the new neighbour and their dog out in the park across the street, so stopped to say hello and let the dogs have another greeting. Their dog is a little growly towards Scully, but they met and sniffed each other a bit. So hopefully Scully is getting more used to the fact that the other dog is around.

When the meeting began we launched into the administrative opening session. I had a presentation to give about the Sydney meeting in October, covering things like the meeting venue, transport from the airport, visas for visiting Australia, hotels, and so on. We have a staff member from the Art Gallery of New South Wales on our Australian standards committee, who has offered to give the international delegates a behind-the-scenes tour of the gallery. This is best done on Wednesday evening, as the Art Gallery is open late on Wednesdays, so there will be staff around to meet and the delegates can browse the gallery at their leisure afterwards. The tour will be of the gallery’s photography labs, where they digitise artworks for preservation and publication purposes. The fact that this is best done on Wednesday evening restricts the exact dates of the meeting to certain days of the week, so we discussed refining the dates.

Other future meetings were discussed, and it looks like a meeting in Shenzhen or Hong Kong may be on the cards for October next year. And then perhaps a meeting in Cambridge in the UK for June 2026. That should be good if it goes ahead!

I took Scully out (in the pouring rain) and made a hurried lunch during the first coffee break, since the actual lunch break was two hours later in my time zone and I didn’t want to wait that long.

We had a presentation by a guy from Adobe about the new digital provenance initiative called C2PA. This is a collaboration between Adobe, Microsoft, and the BBC as the founding members, with several other major companies joining in, to establish standards for verifying the provenance of files such as images, videos, and so on. The idea is that there will be digitally cryptographically secure signatures that can be attached to files to establish the creator of the content. If a file is edited, the editor can attach additional information indicating that the file has been edited. Either way, the signature will no longer match the signature hash, indicating that the file is no longer in the same form as the original publisher released it. In this way, you can confirm that a file published by, say, the BBC, is the original content that they published, or if it has been altered in any way. And the metadata can save the original content with hash, so you can actually see what the original file was before it was edited. It’s a little tough to explain in words, given I’m no cryptography expert, but it sounds pretty neat, and something that is desperately needed in our current environment where fake images and edits and AI content abound and it’s getting harder and harder to tell truth from fiction.

The afternoon sessions were dedicated to technical discussion on high dynamic range image file formats. There’s a lot of this topic scheduled for this meeting, and it’s a technical topic that I’m not especially familiar with or interested in, so for me these sessions were a little tedious.

After the meeting ended, I quickly made some fried mushrooms on toast as dinner for myself, as my wife ate earlier without me while I was still listening to the technical discussions.

New content today: