Meanwhile, I am still in Wellington. Multicore World has finished, with the last day of formal proceedings followed by a round-table workshop (I stayed for half of the latter, wanting to see a bit of the city during business hours). From the last day's talks I was particularly impressed with Jeffrey Vetter from Oakridge, talking about their future supercomputers and heterogeneous memory architectures, on which he has a very good paper. With retirement impending Mark Seager of Intel gave a heartfelt presentation on being part of a 34-year journey, which he points out included witnessing a 100Bx computational performance improvement in that time.
My journeys on the half-day I had free included a visit to the NZ Labour Party to rejoin (that makes four social-democratic and democratic socialist parties I am a member of in AU, NZ, DE, and FR), followed by a trip to the Wellington City Museum, which is a truly superb little institution. My favourite of the many stories the place tells is the short documentary of the Tragedy of the Wahine, overlayed with the hauntingly beautiful sounds of Adagio in G Minor. I have said in the past that this is possibly the most powerful short documentary I have ever seen, and I still hold to that - and that was before I found out that I had been on the said boat several weeks prior to its sinking, in utero.
Technically, I am officially on holiday from now until and the coming week. I do suspect that I am going to continue at least some work as that is my nature; I have software installations to complete and impending courses to teach. Nevertheless, I also have my own studies to pay attention to. This morning I handed in a massive mid-term assignment for my MSc, and next week I'm off to Dunedin to attend the opening classes for my MHed. Which means whatever spare time does fall my way I will be making the most of.
The conference has been held in Shed 22 on the Wellington waterfront, which had just beautiful warm and clear summer days. Which is just as well, because I've had bugger-all opportunity to explore, with a conference timetable that runs from around 8:30 to 20:00, my day's journey has been from the "hotel" to the conference hall and back again. This said, I did get the opportunity to have dinner with Janet E., and Doug on the Monday night which was absolutely delightful. I do have Saturday off before heading to Dunedin and am hoping to catch up with the handful of Wellington people I know for lunch. The "hotel" I am staying at is actually Victoria University student accommodation before the new semester, which is clean, modern, with nice views and an absolute steal at a mere $30/night (no, that is not an error).
In between the conference and working through the enormous list of R extensions that I'm installing, I've also been finishing various assessment components for the MSc in Information Systems that I'm doing. This includes a video review of a webinar on social media strategy; the assignment required that it be a video, but apparently, assessment will be based on content, which is just as well with my non-existent video skills. In addition, I also finished a review of two White Papers on Enterprise Resource Planning software, which you would think would be a prime candidate for an information systems perspective. In both cases, I am somewhat surprised by the lack of quantitative evaluation and a systems perspective in subjects that are really screaming for it. Despite (or perhaps) my background in social inquiry and my existing degrees in business, the absence of objective facts and systemic logic in such areas is really quite ridiculous.
Due to expected severe weather conditions, #UWaterloo campus locations are closed today, Tuesday, February 12. This includes all classes, events, labs, and administrative operations. Please monitor our weather statement page for further details. https://t.co/63wgjn6akQ #ONStorm pic.twitter.com/fgWGHC3a95— University of Waterloo (@UWaterloo) February 12, 2019
As far as studies in information systems is concerned, that's resulted in a sizable essay on The Disciplinary Vagaries of Information Systems" where I explore why information systems cannot get out of being a multi-disciplinary subject and why there is no systemic generation of meaning. I have two more assignments to finish this course which will be done in the next week, namely a review of two white papers on ERP systems and a review of social media marketing which I have developed new levels of cynicism over, especially when the promoter spruiks the idea of "the buyer's journey" as similar to Joseph Campbell's monomyth in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Yes, the mythology of facing mortal danger in supernatural realms has been reduced to a shopping expedition.
As far as work is concerned, I've volunteered myself to update our R packages on the HPC system, which is the tedious job of checking the CRAN repository, downloading the new file, changing the checksum, modifying the build script, and rebuilding the application. It needs to be done (as does the extensions for Python and Perl), but one also has to somehow retain the power of concentration through what is a spectacularly dull sequence of events. At least it will keep me busy during next week's conference in New Zealand where I will be visiting Multicore World for several days (having picked up accommodation at Boulcott Hall at the ridiculously cheap price of $30/night), before heading to Dunedin to check on my secret South Pacific base and visit the University of Otago. The latter part of my journey is meant to be an actual holiday.