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Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year Everyone

.. see you in 2009.

Have a happy and safe Saturnalia.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Xmas and New Year in Sydney

We're leaving KL 2moro night for Sydney town to celebrate Xmas and New Years with friends and family.

I can't wait. It's been over 18 months since I've been in Australia, and, as you can imagine, the differences to Malaysia are substantial :).

I don't think I've mentioned it previously, but we're going to be moving back to Sydney in late February, my contract in Malaysia is finishing up, and while there are many things that I enjoy and will miss about KL, it sure is going to be good to go home.

Monday, December 08, 2008


"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
"Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
"And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak -
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two
To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

Sunday, December 07, 2008


.. my girlfriend and I got engaged on the 15th November.


[you have my promise that this is not going to turn into a wedding blog though ;)]

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nice KL sunset

.. from my window to you.

A smile to light up the night sky

.. Tonight outside my window:

Planets Venus and Jupiter are forming the eyes. Directly below, the crescent moon forms a happy mouth.

Yeh i know, crappy photos, it went behind a cloud before I could get my tripod prepped.

Robot soldiers to get a kinder software side

WASHINGTON: The US military is planning to build robot soldiers that would not be able to commit war crimes.

The army and the navy have hired experts in the ethics of building machines to prevent the creation of an amoral Terminator-style killing machine. By 2010 the US will have spent $4 billion ($6.1 billion) on research into "autonomous systems", the military jargon for robots, on the basis that they would not succumb to fear or the desire for vengeance that afflicts front-line soldiers.

A British robotics expert has been recruited by the navy to advise on building robots that would not violate the Geneva Conventions.

Colin Allen, a scientific philosopher at Indiana University, has just published a book summarising his views titled Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong.

He said: "The question they want answered is whether we can build automated weapons that would conform to the laws of war. Can we use ethical theory to help design these machines?"

Pentagon chiefs are concerned by studies of combat stress in Iraq that showed that a high proportion of front-line troops supported torture and retribution against enemy combatants. Ronald Arkin, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech university, who is working on software for the army, has written a report that concludes that robots, while not "perfectly ethical in the battlefield" can "perform more ethically than human soldiers".

He said that robots "do not need to protect themselves" and "they can be designed without emotions that cloud their judgment or result in anger and frustration with ongoing battlefield events".

Airborne drones are already used in Iraq and Afghanistan to launch air strikes and robotic vehicles are used to disable roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices.

But this generation of robots are all remotely operated by humans. Researchers are now working on "soldier bots", which would be able to identify targets and distinguish between enemy forces and soft targets, like ambulances or civilians. Their software would be embedded with rules of engagement.

Dr Allen applauded the decision. "It's time we started thinking about the issues of how to take ethical theory and build it into the software that will ensure robots act correctly rather than wait until it's too late."

.. from smh

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