Start of daylight saving

I’ll be quick today, because it’s already an hour later than it was at this time last week. Daylight saving started here this weekend, and my 7pm class moved to 8pm because I run it at the same time for students in Asia. So over the summer I finish quite late on Sundays now.

I worked mostly on more slides for my photography engineering presentation. I’m getting there… nearly done. Hopefully I can finish tomorrow. Then I’ll need to send it to the lecturer to make sure it works on a Windows machine. Especially the equations, which I know from experience in the past tend to get munged doing that moving from MacOS.

New content today:

Scully’s first puppuccino

We decided to go out today and try to find a god place to have some scones or lunch or whatever. The forecast was again gloomy, so I nixed my wife’s idea to walk into the city across the Harbour Bridge, as that’s over an hour’s walk each way and I didn’t feel like doing that in the rain.

I did some searching and found a place at a plant nursery further north, in more outer suburbs. It had a cafe which advertised as dog-friendly, and even had a doggie menu, with things like sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon, and puppuccinos. So we booked a table for an early lunch and drove out there.

We arrived early, so spent some time looking around at the plants and garden accessories, and the homewares stuff that was inside the building. We got a nice sheltered table. It was pretty much indoors, but the roof had open ventilation and the floor was exterior paving tiles, so I guess they could legally claim it was an outdoor space so they could have dogs present. There were a few other people with dogs there too, finishing up late Saturday breakfasts as we arrived at the turnover to lunch service.

I got a spicy burger with jalapeƱos and mustard, which was pretty decent, and a chocolate milkshake. Scully got a puppuccino – her first one ever! I guess she’s a grown-up dog now. It was basically some sort of frothed lactose-free milk, with some coloured sprinkles on top.

Scully's first puppuccino

She really liked it! But being a little dog she could only finish about half of it.

This afternoon I spent more time working on slides for my photography engineering presentation. I had to wrestle with Matlab to produce a whole bunch of diagrams, which took some time to code and debug, but I’m pleased with the results. I think I’m more than halfway done now – at least I hope so, since I’ll have too many slides otherwise!

New content today:

Back to work Monday!

Today was another day off from my online ethics classes, since I wanted to skip a full week to keep the various classes on different days in synch. I’ll be back into that tomorrow with a new topic (which I’ll talk about tomorrow).

Instead, this morning I scheduled a one-off science lesson on human vision and colour perception, and one of my regular ethics students signed up for it. So I did that class in the morning. And this evening I am back at the university for the next lecture in the image processing course. Today we get the students started on their assessment projects, in which they choose their own image processing task and attempt to do it, then report on what they discover.

During the day I had some work to do on comics to get back up to date with new strips to be published this week (after my time off last week). I also baked some sourdough rye bread, and started work on the lesson notes for tomorrow’s new ethics topic.

And that was about it, before I got ready to head into the city for the image processing lecture. I had some cheap Malaysian food from a stall in Spice Alley. And then it was off to help students figure out what sort of project they want to do!

New content today:

Quick Monday update

A quick one tonight since I’m home late from my university tutoring job.

I had the last three online ethics classes this morning on the bionics topic. Then I had some lunch and then took Scully out for a walk down to the harbourside. Then came home and wrote some comics and got ready to go to university. I grabbed some sushi on the way, ate it outside the lecture room, and then spent 3 hours with the lecturer and students in there.

New content today:

Image processing Monday

Monday is my busy day as usual. Three online ethics classes in the morning, then taking Scully for a long walk at lunchtime. This afternoon I worked on the next week’s ethics class, which is about friendship. I managed to finish it off, which was good progress. Normally I don’t even start it until Tuesday morning, and then it ends up eating most of my Tuesday. So tomorrow I can concentrate on some other things.

Tonight was lecture 4 of the image processing course at the university. I stopped off before hand at a Vietnamese place for dinner, trying the crispy fried pork with Chinese broccoli, which was very good. The lecture tonight was about corner detectors and feature descriptors, and is a real step up in complexity from the previous three lectures on more basic image processing methods. Next week we get stuck into the machine learning stuff.

New content today:

Busy day quick update

Mondays are my busy days. I did three ethics classes this morning, then took Scully on a long walk for lunch. We did some ball throwing/chasing down at the grassy area near the harbour, which is always fun. We met another puppy down there.

This afternoon I added text to the science slides I prepared for the previous science lesson I did for the girl on Sunday, so I could send her a file with the material. I still need to do the cloning topic that we did on Sunday as well. I’d forgotten about the previous topic until then. So I need to catch up on that.

And then this evening I had tutoring at the university for the image processing course. I went in to have dinner in Chinatown beforehand, at Chinese Noodle Restaurant, which is on the same block as the different establishments named Chinese Noodle House, and Chinatown Noodle Restaurant. I didn’t actually have noddles – I did last time I was there. This time I tried the special braised eggplant, which was really good.

Special braised eggplant

New content today:

Teacher shortages and secret project unveiling

Those two things in the title are unrelated.

First up, this morning I received a message through Outschool, from someone who said they were a parent, but also affiliated with a private school in Texas. They said they had an emergency situation and were looking for a teacher to take the school’s final year high school class in optics and astronomy. For 8 hours a week, for six weeks. They said face to face was preferable, but they could do it by Zoom if necessary given my location.

They must have checked my Outschool profile, and possibly also my LinkedIn and academic publications, because this is well within my capabilities and experience. And honestly if it had been a school where I live in Sydney, I would have considered it. But Texas school hours are roughly midnight-6am here…. so that would be pretty terrible. (And there’s no way I’m travelling to Texas for this.) So I declined. I’d heard that there’s a shortage of teachers in some parts of the US, but I didn’t expect schools there to approach me!

While on Outschool, besides two ethics classes on Art today, I had another science lesson with the girl who has been doing those with me sporadically for a while. Today we went over the science of cloning, and applications of the technology. I cheated a little and used some of the material and slides I made for the ethics topic on cloning a couple of weeks ago, but I added more scientific explanations.

I did another 2.5k run today, backing up from yesterday. I did a good time yesterday after pushing myself, but today I decided to take it easier, and ran almost a full minute slower.

The other thing that happened today is the secret project I’ve been hinting at over the past several weeks has finally gone live! It’s a Darths & Droids related project, and if you haven’t noticed it already, you can find it linked from today’s new strip. If you look carefully…

There’s been a lot of work put into this, and I’m very excited that it’s now live. I’m waiting for the reader reactions to start rolling in as people discover it and start commenting about it.

Oh, and here’s Scully at the pizza place where we went for dinner last night.

Scully at the pizza place

(No, she didn’t get any of the pizza. We don’t feed her from the table.)

New content today:

Cloning pets

I finished up the last lessons of the week’s cloning topic today. In the very last class I raised the same question I’d asked in all the others: Would it be okay to clone dogs or cats if people wanted a new pet that was like their old one? And then I mentioned that the company Viagen exists and has been doing this for 7 years.

And one girl in this class erupted: “Oh my god! I have to clone my dog! I didn’t know they could do this! I’m going to tell my parents! I don’t care how much it costs!”

Okay… I hope her parents will be able to deal with this!

And this evening was lecture 2 of the image processing course at university. We covered image and video formats and then some basic image preprocessing operations. This is the easy stuff before we get stuck into full-on image filtering next week.

For dinner before the lecture I had ramen at a nearby Japanese place, which is fairly good. I had a bad ramen at a different place near the university earlier this year, so I went to the place that I know is good.

New content today:

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: