Starting image processing again

Today was the first lecture in this year’s iteration of the Image Processing and Pattern Recognition course that I helped teach at the University of Technology Sydney last year. Last year the whole course was taught online via Zoom, but this year we’re doing it face-to-face at the university (like the Data Engineering course I taught earlier this year).

This morning I did the final three online ethics classes with kids on the subject of superstition. Then I took Scully for a short drive over to a nearby suburb to get some lunch, and on the way home pop into the hardware store to buy some damp absorber crystals. This stuff has been out of stock for ages because of high demand from everyone in Sydney dealing with mould problems due to all the rain we’ve been having. But I noticed it in stock at the supermarket last week, and decided to check if the hardware store had any (since it’s much cheaper there). They did, so I bought a couple of large containers.

Then late this afternoon I headed into the city. I stopped off for an earlyish dinner at a Thai street food place, before getting to the university in time for the 6pm start of the class. Being the first class it was a pretty easy introduction and finished early. Next week we’ll get stuck into the technical material and helping students with the tutorial assignment questions.

New content today:

History off the rails

This morning I had some spare time, and my golfing friend had suggested we take the opportunity to play a round at the short “par 3” course that we go to sometimes. We had to check the weather this morning, as rain was forecast, but the morning was sunny, so we met at the course and managed to get our game in before the clouds closed in. We played two balls each, and I started well, hitting the ball cleanly in the air and putting decently. But unfortunately my game deteriorated a little as we continued and I ended weakly, posting rounds of 75 and 76 with the two balls, just shy of my best score of 71 on this course.

After the game we went to have lunch at a nearby bakery, where I had a sausage roll and a salted caramel tart as we watched the dark grey clouds roll in.

Later in the afternoon I went to pick up Scully from doggie daycare, just before the rain came down. It’s been raining moderately heavily throughout the evening.

And this evening I had three online ethics classes in a row. The third one went a bit off the rails, as the kids were all keen to interrupt and provide comments about stuff that became increasingly tangential to my lesson plan. I had a question about the Black Death, regarding how we can be sure that such an event actually happened, considering it was almost 700 years ago. But one kid started asking questions about plague doctors and why they had masks with pointy noses, and then two other kids started taking about the various things they had stuffed into the noses to try to filter out the plague, and it kind of took off from there. I don’t mind too much, as long as the kids are enjoying the class and hopefully learning something, but I did try and get it back on track. It was exhausting though, and I understand why school teachers have breaks for recess and lunch – so they don’t have to handle kids for more than 2 hours in a row!

New content today:

Back to ethics and games

I got a bit more sleep last night, but didn’t sleep through, waking up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. I think one more night should reset my body clock to the right time zone.

So I was still quite tired today. But I had the first two ethics classes, restarting my teaching after my trip. It was little a bit of a struggle against yawning, but not too bad once I got into the material.

And tonight was face-to-face games night with friends. We did COVID tests before going there – all negative. I picked up some Thai green curry chicken from the Thai place near where we used to work, since the hots lives near there. It’s the best Thai place I know, and I seldom get to eat there any more, so it’s a special treat when I can.

Four of us played some casual Apples to Apples while waiting for the fifth player to arrive. Then we played a new game: Nusfjord.


This is a worker placement/action selection game played over 7 rounds of 3 actions for each player. There are several actions you can select, involving gaining various resources: fish, wood, gold; building ships or buildings; recruiting village elders; and issuing shares in your fishing business or buying shares in others people’s fishing businesses. The buildings, ships, and gold are worth points at the end of the game.

Unfortunately I made a critical mistake in interpreting the rules and wasted about a dozen fish on one turn that I thought I had planned out, which set me back a lot. Another player also made a similar mistake, and we ended up on significantly fewer points than the other three players. Oh well… first game is always a learning game! It was fun – I’d definitely try it again.

New content today:

The Solar System

Today I had another science class with my online student from England, who I’ve been teaching intermittently for some months now. I decided we could move away from biology and start looking at some more astronomy. I prepared a lesson on the solar system this morning, pulling together lots of cool images form various space agencies and observatories. The great thing about these is that most are either in the public domain, or very liberally licensed, so fantastic images are easy to find and use, which is not the case for some other subjects.

And in between teaching that class and two more on the ethics of human rights, I got a message form a parent of a student who I had in ethics a few months ago saying that she was looking for a D&D group for her daughter and stumbled across my gaming group on Outschool. She signed her daughter up right away, and asked me if I had any plans to run actual game sessions in classes. That’s exactly what I plan to do some time in the near future! So I told her, and she said her daughter would be thrilled to be one of the first one to try my adventures online.

So that’s very cool – and it provides motivation for me to get this idea up and running as soon as I can. It will need to be after my trip to Germany in 2 weeks, but hopefully some time in July/August I can get it running.

New content today:

More marking – done!

I spent most of today marking those data engineering project reports from the university. I had reports to read through, and then presentation videos to watch. The videos were meant to be 15-20 minutes long, but some teams submitted longer ones – the longest was almost half an hour! I had to mark the reports and videos on 11 separate marking criteria,. assigning marks for each criterion and writing comments for each one. Then I had to paste all the comments and marks into separate fields in the university grading system, so 22 separate pasted entries for every student. Multiplied by 5 teams of 5 students each…

So that was about 2 solid hours of copy-pasting, at the tail end of all the reading, video watching, comment writing, and mark assigning. It was exhausting, and I’ve just finished now, after 10pm. But it’s done!

The only other things I did today were one online ethics class this morning, and then after that I took the car to get new tyres fitted. While it was in the tyre shop, I took Scully for a walk and got an early lunch at a patisserie about 20 minutes from the shop. And, um… that’s today.

New content today:

Report marking

I got stuck into marking final reports for the university data engineering course today. I’ve been putting these off because I’ve been busy with other things, but the deadline is Friday, so I really need to work on these now.

And it was really cold today. The forecast temperature would have made today the 4th coldest June day in the last decade, though it got a fraction of a degree higher at 14.8°C, so I’m not sure where we ended up in those terms. But it wasn’t only cold, it was very windy, with gusts over 70 km/h for much of the day.

I went out with my wife and Scully at lunch time for a quick trip to the post office, and it was pretty miserable out there, despite the sunny sky. Leaves were swirling everywhere and small branches were scattered around having snapped off trees all over the place. Scully didn’t like it much either and raced home.

New content today:

Rain and assignment marking

It continues to rain. The Sydney reddit group is just full of people complaining about the rain, being sick of the rain, dealing with rain-related problems like mould, asking when it’s finally going to stop raining, and so on.

I spent much of today huddled inside marking assignments for the data engineering course. This is the project plan for their final project, so it lays out what they propose to do, where they’re going to get their data from, what analysis techniques they will use, and the motivation for the topic they chose.

The topics are diverse, including: predicting favoured movie genres from demographic data; predicting favoured cuisine type from survey data on more general food-related behaviours; modelling performance of wind and solar power generation dependent on weather conditions; analysing traffic accident statistics in conjunction with weather data to search for correlations; modelling relationships between house prices, inflation, and interest rates over time. It’ll be interesting to see what the students come up with as conclusions for all of these projects!

New content today:

Evolutionary Sunday

Today I had another science lesson online with the girl who has been taking those intermittently. Last time we began talking about evolution, and today was the second half of that topic. I prepared some slides showing the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin, finch beaks, hybridisation (lions and tigers crossbreeding to produce ligers), induced speciation in fruit flies, evolution of apes, and whales, and horses, and something about the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. It was a fun class and the student seemed to really enjoy it.

The weather here has turned slightly chilly as we get deep into autumn and start thinking about winter. We’ve had nice sunny days, although with some overnight rain just to keep things damp, but the maximum temperatures have been in the low 20s Celsius, which is noticeably cooler than the past months. And the nights have been getting quite chilly, down around 14°C, which feels like a big change from the overnight lows of 18°C we were getting a few weeks ago. 18°C is comfortable – I was taking Scully out around 10pm for her final toilet in just shorts and a T-shirt, but now I’m having to wear long pants and a jacket to do it.

We took Scully for another walk and ball chasing episode just after lunch, this time down to the nearest ferry wharf and the secluded adjacent park. The park is in a bowl-shaped hollow leading down to the water, so it took some care throwing the tennis ball so that it wouldn’t roll down into the harbour.

Um. I guess it wasn’t an especially interesting day, apart from thinking about evolution a bit.

New content today:

Housecleaning, but not my own

Today I had an unusual chore to do. My mother-in-law’s place needs freshening up and repainting to remove a mould problem caused by all the recent rain and humidity. So we went over today to help her pack fragile things like glassware and crockery out of the furniture so that the painters could move the furniture without breaking anything. We also took down all the paintings and pictures from the walls, and the curtains, and we helped her remove a whole bunch of books for donating to clear out some space.

This evening I had my two usual ethics classes, plus a science class for the girl who is doing those occasionally with me. Today we built on what we did about DNA and heredity last time, and moved on to evolution. As part of this I talked about the fossil record and the dating of fossils, which built on the knowledge she learnt back when we were talking about atoms and radioactivity – she already knows how we determine the ages of rocks and fossils.

So I spent most of the day when we weren’t out preparing that lesson.

Oh, and the weather was warm and sunny! No rain!! Although the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning that more rain is developing, and their models indicate we could get another 100-200 mm of rain starting from Wednesday, with some of the most flood-affected areas further north getting another 300-400 mm. Everyone you talk to here in Sydney is sick to death of this endless rain.

New content today:

Data fitting and COVID

I had been planning to go into the university tonight for the weekly Data Engineering lecture which I’m helping to teach. But the lecturer contacted me this morning to say there was a COVID case in his household, so he had to isolate and wouldn’t be going into the university. Instead he converted the lecture to online over Zoom, and notified all of the students. So I could stay home as well and assist students over Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Apart from that I had my usual ethics classes this morning, and looked after Scully while my wife was at work all day. I went out for a walk with Scully in between heavy rain showers, heading up to the local shops to get some gelato after lunch. It rained while we were up there, under the awnings of the shops, but stopped by the time we headed home, so I managed to avoid having to use an umbrella.

New content today: