purplecat: (dinosaur)
We were supposed to be going to Bristol Comic Con but they cancelled the con. So instead we were let loose on the unsuspecting Bristol countryside.





More pictures under the cut )
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While I was in Texas an old friend and his wife took me out for the day including a trip around Texas' Capitol





Piccies Under the Cut )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
This is the last travel picspam for a while I promise. I was there to deliver a lecture on Verifying Autonomous Ethical Systems to Matryoshka's Machine Ethics class.

Pictures under the cut )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
After Washington, I spent a day in Pennsylvania with [livejournal.com profile] firin and family. We had planned to go to Philadelphia but miscellaneous events intervened so we went to a local Botanic garden instead.

Flowers under the Cut )
purplecat: (academia)
At the start of March I spent 2 Days in Washington at a slightly odd workshop on Incorporating Ethics into Artificial Intelligence. I knew, from following [livejournal.com profile] gregmce on Strava, that there was a nice looking run around the National Mall and so most of the photos below are from that - often early in the morning because Jet-Lag.

Picspam Under the Cut )
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Twenty-five years ago, give or take, the Oxford Arthurian Society used to hire out the Yellow Minibus of Doom and tour the country admiring miscellaneous castles, stone circles and anything that seemed vaguely related to King Arthur. We did this for a day in Michelmas Term, a weekend in Hilary and then a full week at the end of Trinity. The day trip was always the same itinery - White Horse Hill and Wayland's Smithy, West Kennet Longbarrow, Silbury Hill, Avebury Stone Circle, Winchester (if we could squeeze it in) and then ending up at Stonehenge around dusk because some bright spark had discovered, at some point, that if you wrote to Stonehenge and claimed to be a terribly serious student society, they would would let you in after hours and you would be free to wander among the stones.

I'm not sure quite when and how the idea arose to re-create this experience for the [livejournal.com profile] primeval_denial crowd. The Yellow Minibus of Doom has long gone to the great Yellow Minibus in the Sky but we had enough drivers that it was feasible to attempt the trip in cars. Being rather wealthier we also opted to book ourselves in to the Amesbury Travelodge and make a weekend of it.

Investigation revealed that one can no longer write to Stonehenge and claim to be some kind of earnest society (we were going to go with "writers' group" which excuse has served us well in the past) but instead there is now procedure and anyone can get in for the coughing up of £35 per head. We also discovered that if you want to wander freely among the stones at about 5.30pm on a Saturday in July you need to book your slot considerably earlier than January. After a certain amount of emailing back and forth it was decided that 6.30am on a Saturday morning was the lesser of the various evils on offer.

So we started the day at Stonehenge under the watchful eye of two security guards who had instructions to expel us from the site if we had the temerity to touch (or lick - they were very specific about the no licking rule) the stones. [livejournal.com profile] fredbassett and [livejournal.com profile] bigtitch are currently on a quest to collect as much ancient graffitti as possible and so spent a lot of time peering closely at the stones and consulting with the security guards (who might not have been historians or archeologists but who had heard an awful lot of historians and archeologists go around the site) who were obviously only too happy to give up on the lurking and staring and instead talk about graffitti. [livejournal.com profile] fredbassett and [livejournal.com profile] bigtitch found a cock and balls on a fallen menhir and pronounced themselves thoroughly satisfied with the trip. Apparently there is an ancient graffitti facebook group and they were looking forward to posting their up close pictures from Stonehenge.

We then went to the Little Chef next to the hotel for breakfast and returned to Stonehenge after it had opened in order to check out the new exhibition and extensive gift shop.

We then went on to Avebury, where [livejournal.com profile] fredbassett and [livejournal.com profile] bigtitch found more graffitti and the sun rather unexpectedly came out and shone fiercely, revealing how woefully unprepared we all were in terms of sun hats and sun cream.

After lunch at Avebury we headed for West Kennet at which point it became clear I had broken some of the party (too tired to look for graffitti) and wasn't going to be allowed to do more than look wistfully in the direction of White Horse Hill and Wayland's Smithy.

On the Sunday we headed in the opposite direction towards Old Sarum which would bring various people closer to their trains, had lunch in the pub by the castle and then went our separate ways.

Photos under the Cut )
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A final few miscellaneous images of Delft. Including some of medical instruments, just to warn those who may not like such things.

Under the Cut )
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I've been in Delft for the past two weeks for work reasons but I was able to spend the weekend doing touristy things. I've got quite a few photos, but I need to pack this evening so I'm only posting a handful now. Maybe more later. I also had to take selfies for Corporate Communications, so I may be posting a link to that at some point.

Pictures under the Cut )
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I have written about Schloss Dagstuhl before. I do rather like the place, so seized another opportunity to go when one presented itself. I will not bore you all with the details of Verifying and Testing Multi-Agent Systems. I think the most interesting aspects, for me, were getting a better handle on some of the logics for reasoning about multi-agent systems, and getting a better look at some of the other model-checkers out there. There was also an interesting session on devising good examples for the specification and verification of multi-agent systems and, with luck, there may be some concrete outcomes from that.

However I will talk about the hike. The Hike )
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At the end of march I went to a conference in Tallinn, Estonia. It was actually a really good conference and I came away with lots of thoughts though I'm not really intending to blog about them since they are along the lines of "more efficient ways to generate Büchi Automata" which I suspect won't mean much to my flist. Though there was an interesting and more generally accessible talk about load balancing in the German national grid with a side order on getting more trains onto a single European train track which I may give an overview of at some point (*stares dubiously at list of "things it might be interesting to blog about" which has grow scarily long of late*)

Anyway, I actually think my boss was a little bemused by my sudden enthusiasm for foreign travel when this came up. Our group was approached by one of the attached workshops and asked if anyone would like to give a talk and he rather dubiously passed the question on and asked if anyone was interested in going. Normally I'm not terribly excited at the prospect of spending a week away from home, but I'd seen pictures of Tallinn and it looked terribly pretty.

I was not disappointed. Gratuitously long Picspam under the cut )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I was really just in Taiwan for the conference, arriving the evening before it started and going directly to the airport from the venue when it ended so I didn't have any time for sight-seeing. However I did take a couple of photos.

Under the Cut )

My hotel was very western and charged accordingly. But elsewhere we were all amazed how cheap things were. In the "expensive" food court below the Taipei 101 where I had lunch every day, I could get a four course meal for the equivalent of £2.50. Similarly the bus I caught to take me to the airport (roughly a 40 minute drive along motoways) also cost £2.50. The conference banquet was a nine course meal with no rice or noodle dishes. We were told that this was because it was an expensive dinner and to have served rice or noodles would have suggested they couldn't afford to feed us properly.

Most of my other impessions are very fragmentary; glimpses of other people's lives as we were ferried to and from conference events and too brief to really draw conclusions from. Early in the morning you could see the staff in the little workshops the bus drove past, all lined up and standing to attention as their manager gave them their instructions for the day. Everywhere there was evidence of cheap labour, from the fact that all the bus seats had clean antimacassars on them which were presumably replaced and washed regularly. All the hoardings surrounding building works were decorated with hanging baskets of plants which were watered every morning. Every road crossing (at least in the posh business area where the conference was) was accompanied by a traffic policeman who would blow his whistle and direct commuters and traffic. The traffic itself, reminded me most of Italian traffic with hundreds of apparently suicidal moped riders of every kind from businessmen in suits, to teenage boys with their girlfriends riding pillion, through little old ladies going shopping. Almost ubiquitous piped Western classical music seemed to follow us wherever we went. At first I thought this was a particular obsession with Vivaldi's Four Seasons but it turned out to be a little more wide-ranging than that, but I've no idea what this signified beyond that places like westernised hotels, airports, conference centres and prestige shopping malls considered it appropriate muzak.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/43307.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I was really just in Taiwan for the conference, arriving the evening before it started and going directly to the airport from the venue when it ended so I didn't have any time for sight-seeing. However I did take a couple of photos.

Under the Cut )

My hotel was very western and charged accordingly. But elsewhere we were all amazed how cheap things were. In the "expensive" food court below the Taipei 101 where I had lunch every day, I could get a four course meal for the equivalent of £2.50. Similarly the bus I caught to take me to the airport (roughly a 40 minute drive along motoways) also cost £2.50. The conference banquet was a nine course meal with no rice or noodle dishes. We were told that this was because it was an expensive dinner and to have served rice or noodles would have suggested they couldn't afford to feed us properly.

Most of my other impessions are very fragmentary; glimpses of other people's lives as we were ferried to and from conference events and too brief to really draw conclusions from. Early in the morning you could see the staff in the little workshops the bus drove past, all lined up and standing to attention as their manager gave them their instructions for the day. Everywhere there was evidence of cheap labour, from the fact that all the bus seats had clean antimacassars on them which were presumably replaced and washed regularly. All the hoardings surrounding building works were decorated with hanging baskets of plants which were watered every morning. Every road crossing (at least in the posh business area where the conference was) was accompanied by a traffic policeman who would blow his whistle and direct commuters and traffic. The traffic itself, reminded me most of Italian traffic with hundreds of apparently suicidal moped riders of every kind from businessmen in suits, to teenage boys with their girlfriends riding pillion, through little old ladies going shopping. Almost ubiquitous piped Western classical music seemed to follow us wherever we went. At first I thought this was a particular obsession with Vivaldi's Four Seasons but it turned out to be a little more wide-ranging than that, but I've no idea what this signified beyond that places like westernised hotels, airports, conference centres and prestige shopping malls considered it appropriate muzak.

Sapporo

Sep. 22nd, 2010 08:54 am
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I didn't take many photos when I was in Japan. Sapporo is a tourist city, but it's tourism is based around it's winter ski slopes and focused on the internal market. Visually, it felt to me very much like visiting a North American city, just on a slightly more compact scale which actually made walking from place to place practical. But largely there were just a lot of big modern buildings.

For the sake of completeness though, here is the view from my hotel window )

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/20660.html.

Sapporo

Sep. 22nd, 2010 08:54 am
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I didn't take many photos when I was in Japan. Sapporo is a tourist city, but it's tourism is based around it's winter ski slopes and focused on the internal market. Visually, it felt to me very much like visiting a North American city, just on a slightly more compact scale which actually made walking from place to place practical. But largely there were just a lot of big modern buildings.

For the sake of completeness though, here is the view from my hotel window )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (agents)
I vaguely threatened to write up my trip to Schloss Dagstuhl when I posted about visiting Trier. I don't really feel up to an account of even the most interesting talks but I thought a bit of general waffle might not go amiss.

waffle )

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