Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Tue, 30 Jun 2015



Percival trig

posted at: 18:41 | path: /diary/pictures/20150630-percival | permanent link to this entry


A team walk around Red Hill

posted at: 16:29 | path: /diary/pictures/20150629-davidson | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 20 Jun 2015



Yet another possible cub walk

    Jacqui and Catherine kindly agreed to come on another test walk for a possible cub walk. This one was the Sanctuary Loop at Tidbinbilla. To be honest this wasn't a great choice for cubs -- whilst being scenic and generally pleasant, the heavy use of black top paths and walkways made it feel like a walk in the Botanic Gardens, and the heavy fencing made it feel like an exhibit at a zoo. I'm sure its great for a weekend walk or for tourists, but if you're trying to have a cub adventure its not great.

                                           

    See more thumbnails




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150620-tidbinbilla photo canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island

posted at: 02:20 | path: /diary/pictures/20150620-tidbinbilla | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 18 Jun 2015



Further adventures in the Jerrabomberra wetlands

posted at: 16:01 | path: /diary/pictures/20150618-jerrabomberra_wetlands | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 16 Jun 2015



Exploring possible cub walks

posted at: 21:35 | path: /diary/pictures/20150617-jerrabomerra_wetlands | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 04 Jun 2015



More coding club

    This is the second post about the coding club at my kid's school. I was away for four weeks travelling for work and then getting sick, so I am still getting back up to speed with what the kids have been up to while I've been away. This post is an attempt to gather some resources that I hope will be useful during the session today -- it remains to be seen how this maps to what the kids actually did while I was away.

    First off, the adults have decided to give Python for Kids a go as a teaching resource. The biggest catch with this book is that its kind of expensive -- at AUD $35 a copy, we can't just issue a copy to every kid in the room. That said, perhaps the kids don't each need a copy, as long as the adults are just using it as a guide for what things to cover.

    It appears that while I was away chapters 1 through 4 have been covered. 1 is about install python, and then 2-3 are language construct introductions. This is things like what a variable is, mathematical operators, strings, tuples and lists. So, that's all important but kind of dull. On the other hand, chapter 4 covers turtle graphics, which I didn't even realize that python had a module for.

    I have fond memories of doing logo graphics as a kid at school. Back in my day we'd sometimes even use actual robots to do some of the graphics, although most of it was simulated on Apple II machines of various forms. I think its important to let the kids of today know that these strange exercises they're doing used to relate to physical hardware that schools actually owned. Here are a couple of indicative pictures stolen from the Internet:





    So, I think that's what we'll keep going with this week -- I'll let the kids explain where they got to with turtle graphics and then we'll see how far we can take that without it becoming a chore.

    Tags for this post: coding_club kids coding python turtle graphics logo
    Related posts: Coding club day one: a simple number guessing game in python; Huffman coding; JPEG 2 MPEG howto; Graphics from the command line; Graphics programming with libtiff: black and white; Arduino with the kids: Cricket Noise Door Bell

posted at: 19:35 | path: /coding_club | permanent link to this entry


Geocaching at the border

    Today's lunch walk was around Tuggeranong Pines again. At the back of the pine forest is the original train line from the 1880s which went down to Cooma. I walked as far as the old Tuggeranong siding before turning back. Its interesting, as there is evidence that there has been track work done here in the last ten years or so, even though the line hasn't been used since 1989.

                           




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150604-geocaching photo canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island

posted at: 02:49 | path: /diary/pictures/20150604-geocaching | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 01 Jun 2015



Melrose trig

    I went for a short geocaching walk at lunch today. Three geocaches in 45 minutes, so not too shabby. One of those caches was at the Melrose trig point, so bagged that too. There is some confusion here, as John Evans and I thought that Melrose was on private land. However, there is no signage to that effect in the area and the geocache owner asserts this is public land. ACTMAPi says the area is Tuggeranong Rural Block 35, but isn't clear on if the lease holder exists. Color me confused and possibly an accidental trespasser.

             




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150602-melrose photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 22:55 | path: /diary/pictures/20150602-melrose | permanent link to this entry


In A Sunburned Country




    ISBN: 0965000281
    LibraryThing
    This is the first Bill Bryson book I've read, and I have to say I enjoyed it. Bill is hilarious and infuriating at the same time, which surprisingly to me makes for a very entertaining combination. I'm sure he's not telling the full story in this book -- its just not possible for someone so ill prepared to not just die in the outback somewhere. Take his visit to Canberra for example -- he drives down from Sydney, hits the first hotel he finds and then spends three days there. No wonder he's bored. Eventually he bothers to drive for another five minutes and finds there is more to the city than one hotel. On the other hand, he maligns my home town in such a hilarious manner I just can't be angry at him.

    I loved this book, highly recommended.

    Tags for this post: book bill_bryson australia travel
    Related posts: Qantas site; We're getting there; More on the new E-3 Visa; Thanks for the kind word Pia; Why Australia tops the piracy list; Hmmm, even more Police Academy


posted at: 03:10 | path: /book/Bill_Bryson | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 31 May 2015



The linux.conf.au 2016 Call For Proposals is open!

posted at: 22:44 | path: /openstack | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 28 May 2015



Square Rock and Mount Franklin

    I'm not really sure why it took me so long to write this set of walks up -- I think I just got lost in preparations for the most recent OpenStack summit and simply forgot. That said, here they are...

    Tony, Steven and I mounted an expedition to Mount Franklin, which is one of the trigs I hadn't been to yet. Its right on the ACT border with NSW, and despite not being a super long walk its verging of inaccessible in winter (think several feet of snow). So, we decided to get it done while we could.

                 




    We also tacked on a trip to Square Rock based on the strong recommendation of a good friend. Square Rock has amazing views, highly recommended.

               




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150426-square_rock_franklin photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig

posted at: 00:23 | path: /diary/pictures/20150426-square_rock_franklin | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 05 May 2015



Ancillary Justice

posted at: 20:48 | path: /book/Ann_Leckie | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 30 Apr 2015



Coding club day one: a simple number guessing game in python

    I've recently become involved in a new computer programming club at my kids' school. The club runs on Friday afternoons after school and is still very new so we're still working through exactly what it will look like long term. These are my thoughts on the content from this first session. The point of this first lesson was to approach a programming problem where every child stood a reasonable chance of finishing in the allotted 90 minutes. Many of the children had never programmed before, so the program had to be kept deliberately small. Additionally, this was a chance to demonstrate how literal computers are about the instructions they're given -- there is no room for intuition on the part of the machine here, it does exactly what you ask of it.

    The task: write a python program which picks a random number between zero and ten. Ask the user to guess the number the program has picked, with the program telling the user if they are high, low, or right.

    We then brainstormed the things we'd need to know how to do to make this program work. We came up with:
    • How do we get a random number?
    • What is a variable?
    • What are data types?
    • What is an integer? Why does that matter?
    • How do we get user input?
    • How do we do comparisons? What is a conditional?
    • What are the possible states for the game?
    • What is an exception? Why did I get one? How do I read it?


    With that done, we were ready to start programming. This was done with a series of steps that we walked through as a group -- let's all print hello work. Now let's generate a random number and print it. Ok, cool, now let's do input from a user. Now how do we compare that with the random number? Finally, how do we do a loop which keeps prompting until the user guesses the random number?

    For each of these a code snippet was written on the whiteboard and explained. It was up to the students to put them together into a program which actually works.

    Due to limitations in the school's operating environment (no local python installation and repl.it not working due to firewalling) we used codeskulptor.org for this exercise. The code that the kids ended up with looks like this:

      import random
      
      # Pick a random number
      number = random.randint(0, 10)
      
      # Now ask for guesses until the correct guess is made
      done = False
      
      while not done:
          guess = int(raw_input('What is your guess?'))
          print 'You guessed: %d' % guess
          
          if guess < number:
              print 'Higher!'
          elif guess > number:
              print 'Lower!'
          else:
              print 'Right!'
              done = True
      


    The plan for next session (tomorrow, in the first week of term two) is to recap what we did at the end of last term and explore this program to make sure everyone understands how it works.

    Tags for this post: coding_club teaching coding
    Related posts: More coding club; Huffman coding; I'm glad I've turned on comments here

posted at: 01:18 | path: /coding_club | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 24 Apr 2015



Tuggeranong Trig (again)

    The cubs at my local scout group are interested in walking to a trig, but have some interesting constraints around mobility for a couple of their members. I therefore offered to re-walk Tuggeranong Trig in Oxley with an eye out for terrain. I think this walk would be very doable for cubs -- its 650 meters with only about 25 meters of vertical change. The path is also ok for a wheelchair I think.

                 




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150415-tuggeranong_trig photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig

posted at: 18:04 | path: /diary/pictures/20150415-tuggeranong_trig | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 11 Apr 2015



One Tree and Painter

    Paul and I set off to see two trigs today. One Tree is on the ACT border and is part of the centenary trail. Painter is a suburban trig in Belconnen. Much fun was had, I hope I didn't make Paul too late for the wedding he had to go to.

     







    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150412-one_tree_painter photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 23:53 | path: /diary/pictures/20150412-one_tree_painter | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 09 Apr 2015



Thinking time

    I've had a lot of things to think about this week, so I've gone on a few walks. I found some geocaches along the way, but even better I think my head is a bit more sorted out now.










    Tags for this post: blog canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island

posted at: 16:16 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 04 Apr 2015



Bendora Arboretum and Bulls Head trig

    Prompted largely by a not very detailed entry in a book, a bunch of friends and I went to explore Bendora Arboretum. The arboretum was planted in the 1940's as scientific experiments exploring what soft woods would grow well in our climate -- this was prompted by the large amount of wood Australia was importing at the time. There were 34 Arboreta originally, but only this one remains. The last three other than this one were destroyed in the 2003 bush fires.

    This walk appears in Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT by Marion Stuart, which was the inspiration for this outing. The only thing to note with her description is that the walk is a fair bit longer than she describes -- its 2km from the locked gate to the hut, which means a 4km return walk before you explore the arboretum at all. The arboretum has received some attention from the ACT government recently, with new signage and a fresh gravel pass. Also please note this area might only be accessible by four wheel drive in winter, which is not mentioned in the book.

    We also did a side trip to Bulls Head trig, which was interesting as its not the traditional shape.

                                           

    See more thumbnails







    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150404-bendora_bulls_head photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 15:35 | path: /diary/pictures/20150404-bendora_bulls_head | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Mar 2015



A quick walk through Curtin

    What do you do when you accidentally engaged a troll on twitter? You go for a walk of course.

    I didn't realize there had been a flash flood in Canberra in 1971 that killed seven people, probably because I wasn't born then. However, when I ask people who were around then, they don't remember without prompting either, which I think is sad. I only learnt about the flood because of the geocache I found hidden at the (not very well advertised) memorial today.

    This was walk inspired by one from Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT by Marion Stuart. I was disappointed that the guide book didn't mention the flash flood however, and skips the memorial.

           




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150323-curtin photo canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island

posted at: 13:41 | path: /diary/pictures/20150323-curtin | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Mar 2015



Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches

    I walked to the Narrabundah trig yesterday, along the way collecting 15 of the 16 NRL themed caches in the area. It would have been all 16, except I can't find the last one for the life of me. I'm going to have to come back.

    I really like this area. Its scenic, has nice trails, and you can't tell you're in Canberra unless you really look for it. It seemed lightly used to be honest, I think I saw three other people the entire time I was there. I encountered more dogs off lead than people.

     




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150321-narrabundah photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Square Rock and Mount Franklin; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 14:29 | path: /diary/pictures/20150321-narrabundah | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 19 Mar 2015



A quick trip to Namadgi

posted at: 20:02 | path: /diary/pictures/20150320-namadgi | permanent link to this entry