Tag Archives: sydney

Summer of Etc!

Once again, I’ve left this site for faaaaar too long without letting you all know what I’ve been up to of late (oops). Needless to say, a fair bit has happened in the past few weeks, and it’s probably worth telling you all about this.

Honours, Semester 1 (during semester 2)

Uni study’s been going quite swimmingly of late: both my units of study went pretty well (insofar as I got HDs in them); thesis on the other hand, has only really just started to take off. My research is into the computer vision task fo object detection (for example, finding faces in images), in particular, I’m working on improving the scheme built into the Intel OpenCV Library (Haar Classifier Cascades, if you’re at all interested) by having them consider colour.

One of the deficiencies I’ve discovered during my research is lack of sufficient real-world colour face datasets to perform detection upon: whilst I need in the order of 2000 faces (1000 to train upon, 1000 to test upon), the largest useful academic set is an order of magnitude smaller. For this reason I’m developing my own set. My current intention is to assemble the data set entirely from Creative Commons-licensed data (e.g. from Flickr and Wikipedia) and to release the resultant set under CC licenses too. I expect I’ll give a lightning talk at LCA on this, I’ll also dump a blog post here somewhere about what sort of data I’d like donated.

Summer of Google

One thing that’s looking like it will derail my Honours work slightly happened not too long ago. I applied for a Software Engineering Internship at Google Sydney back in July, and didn’t hear much about it. In late October, however, I very suddenly got contacted about it, and interviewed for the position, and quite happily, I was offered a job. This, amongst other things, involved dropping (almost*) everything for the summer, and moving to Sydney within two weeks, which I guess I’ve done somewhat successfully.

So I’m now working at Google until sometime during the first two weeks of semester (!). My current project involves working on [redacted], to make [redacted] do [redacted]; in related news, the new Sydney offices are pretty damn cool, the food is excellent, and the work is fun. I’m really looking forward to the rest of my time here.

*I guess the most important thing to mention here is that I’m still spending my week-and-a-bit in Wellington for Linux.conf.au 2010, and that I’ll still be running the Open Programming Languages Miniconf there. I can hardly wait!

Self-absorption in brief

My 20th Birthday was yesterday, so I’m making amends for not posting about it yesterday by making a note of it today. Notably, I don’t really feel any older than any time before, other than a strange feeling of foreboding that accompanies age in general. Or that may just be my stomach. No idea, though I’m sure I’ll find out in the ensuing years.

And a brief wrap-up of other me-related news:

  • Had a nice, short trip to Sydney in early July — I will make it a point of not entering New South Wales when State of Origin is on in the future. Went to the Apple Store on George Street far too many times — free internet is quite enticing when you’re waiting for people.
  • Whilst in Sydney, I attempted to catch up with SydneyPython in order to spruik my proposal for a Python Miniconf at LCA2009. Unfortunately, the meeting was cancelled, and so instead the SyPy people went to Beer2.0, where we met a bunch of interesting Web2.0 people.
  • Uni exams finished in mid-June, with results being released last week. In short, I had my best semester yet at Uni (straight HDs/nothing below 82), and so I’m certainly not regretting the increased workload as far as maths is concerned.
  • Semester 2 of Uni is now underway, I’ve had lectures in all three of my coursework-delivered units (Real and Complex Analysis, Computer Graphics and Animation, Topics in Advanced Mathematics), with only my research project unit to be dealt with. It’s looking like it’ll be a very interesting semester, with some thoroughly difficult units to be dealt with, so I’m happy about that.

That’s all for now. More as it comes.

The Gruen Transfer (and car parks etc)

Last Friday, whilst in Sydney on a short trip, I had the fortune of being asked to go ice skating with a bunch of people from USyd. This required me to visit a large suburban shopping mall.

Whilst the ice skating was fun and thoroughly enjoyable, the visiting of the shopping centre and surrounding parking facilities was one of the most traumatic events of my recent life. In my travels, which has resulted in visiting shopping malls in many different cities, never have I been so thoroughly disoriented in my life. As well as the completely haphazard layout of the centre, which resulted in me not being able to figure any direction, there were (at least) two disjoint car parks, each consisting of 6 levels of confused layout, with only minimal indication to newcomers as to how to identify the location of the car park.

Perhaps it’s just that my brain is wired for a small city, but I’ve never encountered such a deliberately confusing building. Ever.

NCSS Part 1 (Sydney part 2)

So here begins my comprehensive wrap-up of all things Sydney, since I conveniently neglected to do so whilst I was there.

Come on, Aussie!

Friday’s main purpose was to watch Day Three of the Second Test between Australia and India at the SCG; which therefore meant that the early part of my day was concerned with getting myself safely to USyd, and then getting myself out to the SCG. So, I arrived at the Women’s College at the Uni only to find myself not booked in at all, and with the reception staff oblivious as to what to do. This was mildly annoying, so I left my bags at the college, and found my way out to Central to catch a bus to the ground.

Getting out from Women’s to Broadway consists of a trek through the oldest part of the main USyd campus, and this time also implied a trek through the Quadrangle. This is the quintessential “Old Sandstone” building on the USyd campus, and if you’re ever in the area is well worth a look at. Walking down from the campus and to Central was generally nice. Bus fares from Central to the SCG were cheap (hurrah), so all that left was a walk from ANZAC Parade and into the ground.

The SCG entry is set up like a maze; there is one central entrance for bag checks, and then a massive detour to get to the stands — all in all, I suspect that due to approaching from the angle that I did, I walked an extra 2KM to get to the ground than I would have at a ground with a sensible entry setup.

I met up at the gate with Ben Vance, a friend from my ISSC’05 days, and we proceeded to find our seats — they were good :). Highlights of the match included Brad Hogg becoming the irrational crowd favourite, missing Adam Gilchrist’s 400th Dismissal due to getting food, 50s from Ganguly and Harbhajan (“Hop-along”) Singh, and seeing Sachin Tendulkar achieve 150, which, admittedly is exactly what I wanted to see when I first decided I wanted to go to the match. It was also amusing to see Kevin “Oh-seven” Rudd get booed when his picture appeared on the Big Screen — clearly Sydney appreciates its life members.

At the close of the day’s play, I walked from the SCG back to the USyd campus (which wasn’t all that far, despite what it looks like on maps), in anticipation of meeting James Curran (the main organiser of NCSS), who needed me to meet a teacher (who was attending NCSS) at Central… I won’t continue that story, as it involves running a minute late, and missing the person I was due to pick up. Oh well. Such is life. I finished the day by settling into St Paul’s College, which ended up being where I stayed (not Women’s), and slept, ready for the chaos that would be Saturday.

Taxi from the Airport

Saturday was a standard, uninteresting morning, brightened by the fact that I had to begin it with my first experience of College Breakfast since my experience of it in KXT312 (those conveyor toasters are sooooo cool!). I followed that with a cup of “coffee” (read: emulsion of sugar, milk powder and Nescafe), and a walk around the campus, making a point of actually finding out what all of the buildings were, and making myself familiar with a campus that I would need to appear “at home” with — given that by the end of it I was already giving people directions, I suspect that I’d done a decent job. My second offical job with the summer school was to hang around International Arrivals of Sydney Airport in order to await another student — his flight schedule read “Osaka/BNE”… strange. Due to the nature of the arrival gates of International, as well as the fact that I had no idea whom to look out for, I was slightly nervious about missing a second passenger (after what had happened on the Friday night). Happily, only 40 minutes after the scheduled arrival time, he arrived, and we caught a taxi back to USyd (incidentally, he was from Queensland, and needed to travel with a passport, and proceed through customs on both ends of the flight — I’ve since decided that Queensland is worthy of being considered another country).

The rest of Saturday afternoon was a bit of a blur, due to the amazingly large amounts of work needed to be done to set up the opening night. Happily, we succeeded, and right on schedule, the summer school began.

Newspaper, Mama


As past NCSSers would know, the “team-building” challenge each year is to build a structure out of newspaper — in past years, the criterion was to make it as tall as possible — this year, instead it was to build a free-standing shelter, judged by how many people would fit under it. The returning group (who I tutored) certainly won on a Per Capita basis, but not overall. Saturday concluded with writing the first (and only) copy of the Daily Hack.

There, that’s it for this installment of my NCSS story — more to come later.

Back home

Well, I’m back home (and have been for the past few days now) after my trip out for NCSS. The trip was fantastic, I made heaps of new friends, revisited lots of old ones (some unexpectedly), and otherwise had a wonderful time.

NCSS itself was definitely worth the trip up for, once again, James Curran and Tara Murphy outdid themselves in the organisation, and put together a truly fantastic programme that I will write about eventually.


Finally, I’ve signed up for Flickr, in order to keep the photos from my new camera online — hopefully you’ll see a whole heap more photos upon this site, and there is also a new page on my site where you can view my most recent photos uploaded to Flickr… of course, the ones up there are from NCSS.

More to come


Sydney Day 1

Get me a ticket for an aeroplane…

Thursday began with an unusually early wake-up time for myself, due to my need to get myself to the airport by 6AM. Once I got there, the general airport trudgery began, with the bag drops, screening, and boarding the plane. I got a window seat on the left-hand side of the plane, which, in most cases is not the side of the plane that you want to be approaching Sydney in from the south (as you don’t see much).

That is, until I checked Virgin Blue’s remarkable Where the bloody hell are we? channel on the TV in front of me, and noticed that our flight path was very inland, and for some odd reason, we were approaching from the north. What this meant for me is that the plane approached on the western side of the city, which meant that I got sweeping harbour and city views on the way down. That’s a fantastic way to start the day :)

Drop my bags, see who’s in

Getting out of the airport proved to be a right-royal pain in the arse, due to the slackness of the baggage handlers (we touched down at 8:50, I left the terminal at 9:20), but once I did, I met up with the Bruces (Eddie and Julie, friends of my father from his days in Keith) who are hosting me for the nights that I’m not at NCSS. Nice family :). The trip from the airport was interesting, as it meant I got to see all of the interesting tollways and suburbs that you generally don’t get to care about as a tourist (I’m still not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not)

The Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay

I caught a ferry into the city from Manly in the afternoon, which Julie said would be a good way to acclimatise to the city. Conveniently, it was. I made my way to Darling Harbour, and waited for people.

People, in this case, meant Stephen Merity (Smerity), and a bunch of his friends, since we decided that it would be a good idea if we met before I become his tutor at NCSS (which is certainly going to happen). We made our way to lunch, which consisted of Yum Cha at the Regal on Sussex Street. From casual observation, it seems as though how Yum Cha is served depends greatly upon which Australian City you find yourself in. Whilst in Hobart, it’s a sit down and order process, in Sydney, Yum Cha consists of multiple Chinese women running around with large trollies, stopping only to smother your table with food on a regular basis. Or so it seems, anyway. Either way the food was still good.

After that, we saw I Am Legend the latest movie starring (and notably only starring) Will Smith. It’s a fairly standard suspensful-thriller-come-zombie-movie. Unfortunately, the movie wastes close to 45 minutes on seemingly random activities, and I personally didn’t see any point to the plot until late in the movie, that said, it was still enjoyable, and probably warrants three stars from me.

The day finished with me catching a ferry back to Manly, and having dinner with the Bruces at Dee Why.