2014 Annual Blog Statistics

These are some statistics from Google Analytics, the figures from 2013 are in brackets.

Overall in 2014 there was a very slight increase in the number of unique visitors (2.2%), however falls in the total number of visits (1.0%) and page views (3.6%).

Total

  • Visits: 9,363 (9,458)
  • Unique Visitors: 8,818 (8,626)
  • Page Views: 12,157 (12,609)

Visitors from came from 146 Countries. The United States replaced Australia with the most visitors, with Australia falling to fourth place behind New Zealand and the United Kingdom. 67.9% of all visits came from AUS/USA/NZ/UK up almost 4% from 2013.  Continue reading

Goals for 2015

  • Get a stable job (variants of this goal have been ongoing for three years)
  • Continue learning German
  • Learn python
  • Go to Europe
  • Read 20 books

Happy 2015 – Fireworks from Sydney

Gallery

This gallery contains 39 photos.

I spent my fifth New Years Eve in Sydney with friends overlooking the harbour. This year we went to Athol Lawn, Bradleys Head on the North Shore.

After being sent in the wrong direction by security, we got inside and found a good spot on the lawn looking between the trees across the harbour to the bridge and the city. We then had a eight hour wait for midnight, firstly in direct sunlight and then being cooled by cloud in the late afternoon.

The views from Athol Lawn were impressive. We were further from the bridge than we thought we would be, but being able to see five or six barges along the harbour is a view that I haven’t been able to see before. Glancing back at my photos from previous years, this is one of the best views of the whole city that I have seen.

Continue reading

2014 – The Year of Growth

Another year comes to an end. This year has been different to previous years, in particular, my first year properly working in a full time job. During this year I have achieved many of the goals I set myself in January:

  • Graduate and get a real job
    • My thesis was passed in May and I graduated in November.
    • In February I was offered a five month position at UNSW which was then extended through to the end of the year.
  • Continue Learning German – and go back to Germany.
    • I did well with the German in the middle of the year, but in the later months I have done none.
    • I still have a massive desire to return to Germany.
  • Summit Mt Kosciusko
    • Fourth year in a row that this hasn’t happened. But I did go skiing in the Snowy Mountains.
  • Publish a journal article – or two.
    • I published two conference papers, still got to get those journal articles done.
  • Read at least ten books – including the six paperbacks I currently have unread.
    • I have read 36 books! But have now amassed 14 more to be read. In May I decided to start reading on the bus in the morning rather than reading Facebook and Twitter on my phone.
  • Buy a VF Commodore – I’ve wanted a Holden since I was in my teens.
    • Still a pipe-dream
  • Keep this blog up to date.
    • I blogged fewer times than any previous year, so I avoided the problem.

The year has had many highlights: Continue reading

Photos: V8 Supercars Sydney 500 2014

Last weekend I went to the Saturday races of the Sydney 500 round of the V8 Supercars at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush.

Below are some of the photos and a video from the day, it was really good to see the old supercars on the circuit.

Photos: PRICAI 2014 Conference – Gold Coast

During the first week of December I presented some research at the Pacific Rim Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

This year the conference was held 100m from the beach in the Gold Coast, Queensland.

As with most conferences it was really good, but also a really long week. The keynote by Kevin Leyton-Brown was the highlight.

PhD Graduation Photos

Two weeks ago I graduated with a PhD from the University of New South Wales.

The formal photos have finally arrived, and I’m pretty happy with them, plus some of the other photos taken on my own camera.

 

And I’ve just discovered that I have removed my BSc graduation photos from 2008 at some point. So here are four of the best of those photos.

Costly Opal Card Errors

I enjoy using Sydney’s new Opal card, I enjoy not having to queue and remember to buy weekly and travel-10 tickets. I especially enjoy the free travel after 8 journeys, especially as it is generally saving me money.

What I’m not enjoying is continually encountering problems using the Opal card. At least once a week I’m encountering buses with readers that aren’t working. And it seems to be getting worse.

In the last two week’s I’ve experienced a bus that I was able to tap onto, but not tap off of – encountering the dreaded default fare. I’ve encountered a bus where the two back door readers weren’t working – sending me on a mad dash to the front of the bus to tap off before the bus drove off.

But the two most annoying issues this week have been overcharging. The first is a tap on and a tap off being recorded as two tap on, encountering two default fares.

Opal Double Charging

The second is being charged $4.70 for a fare from Town Hall to Central (instead of $3.30).

Opal Overcharging

And making the problems even more annoying, the complaint form on opal.com.au times out and loses the message you are sending if you take too long to fill it out.

I’m assuming that many others are experiencing these overcharging issues without even realising it.

Finding time to read

Every workday I catch a bus to and from work. The journey takes around 20 minutes each way and until May this year I would spend this time using social networks on my phone. Since May I have replaced the phone with my Kindle and have read almost 30 books. This is more books than I have probably read in the last three years combined.

I am certainly not a massive bookworm but there is something about being able to get lost in a story and filter out the world in a way that books can only do. I primarily read non-fiction, with a particular focus on sociology, history, and theology. And the more I read, the more I want to read.

For instance, in the last week I’ve finished Cynthia Stokes Brown’s Big History, which covers the history of the world in a very detailed but also very easy to read manner and is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m now trying to read books on the histories of Australia, Iran, Boston and gangs in Chicago (my latest problem is trying to read too many books in parallel).

I am not alone in my desire to read more, in September an opinion piece was published on Slate about reading insecurity. The piece states:

It is becoming a cliché of conversations between twentysomethings (especially to the right of 25) that if you talk about books or articles or strung-together words long enough, someone will eventually wail plaintively: “I just can’t reeeeeaaad anymore.” The person will explain that the Internet has shot her attention span. She will tell you about how, when she was small, she could lose herself in a novel for hours, and now, all she can do is watch the tweets swim by like glittery fish in the river of time-she-will-never-get-back.

The author’s argument is that this desire to read more and use the internet less is a consequence of growing up in a time where reading books have been replaced by reading e-readers, tablets and computer screens. And we don’t read less we just read differently. The article as a whole is great (you should read it).

But despite this knowledge that we are reading different and not less, my desire to read more books and less social networks hasn’t changed. I am now trying to read smarter, to find time to lock myself away from digital distractions and to get lost in a book for 20 mins or an hour. Simply because it is relaxing, and fun, and the internet will keep on tweeting and facebooking without me.