Friday, December 26, 2008

Swimming with Dolphins

Today, for the third time, our dive boat came across a pod of dolphins on the way to our first dive site. We had the opportunity to get in the water with them and Tanya took a few pictures, including the one above. Very cool.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in PNG

It's Christmas eve in Papua New Guinea. Tanya and I arrived three days ago and have been diving, eating, and hiking since. The scenery here (in Kimbe Bay) is amazing, both above and below water. Our resort (Walindi Plantation Resort) is adjacent to a volcano. Usually resort guests can hike up the volcano, but right now that's not possible because the volcano, like me, has too much gas coming out of it.

Here are a few diving pictures that don't do justice to the diving here. We will post better pictures when we get back, get organized, and have a reliable internet connection.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Busy busy

This last week has been busy. Last weekend I flew to Christchurch to give a talk at New Zealand Mathematics Convention. This week I've been co-organizing the NICTA Workshop on Computational Geometry for Imprecise Data. Tomorrow I fly to Gold Coast to sing karaoke at the International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation. Then it's back in Sydney for 2 days before we fly off to spend Christmas in Papua, New Guinea.

Today was the first nice weather we've had all week, so we took the opportunity to go snorkelling (pictures). We also found this critter our hallway.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Star Wars Christmas


Today we went to the Sydney Christmas Parade. I didn't really understand the theme. Here are the pictures.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008


Tanya and I just got back from Priscilla: The Musical, based on the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It was fabulous, but left me hungry for Monte-Christo Biscuits.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas is Coming

Last night the Sydney City Council lit up the Christmas Tree and started the Christmas Projections. Here are the pictures that were used to make the slideshow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Dave Thomas Show

I just learned that Dave Thomas, one of the founding members of Carleton's School of Computer Science is giving a talk at the University of Sydney tomorrow entitled Hey! You! Get On To My Cloud. I lost track of him for a while, but it looks like Dave is now Chairman of Bedarra Research Labs. I can't tell exactly what it is they do from their web page.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bad News from CA

It looks like Bell lobbied the CRTC enough to keep up their anti-competitive practice of throttling third-party traffic based on content. As a result, all canadian homes can continue to enjoy shitty Internet connections without any option for something better.

In related news, Sony, Disney, Paramount et al are suing Australia's second largest Internet Service Provider because they are helping their customers violate copyright.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

English Test

Some of you may remember my friend, colleague, and host Joachim Gudmundsson who came out with us on Robbie Burns day a few years ago. Joachim's trying to become a permanent resident of Australia. To do this, he has to take an english test. Here's one of the questions from the test:

The instructions for a grant application say All students who submit a successful application will receive a copy of the Student Handbook.

Question: Will all students receive a copy of the Student Handbook?

a) Yes
b) No
c) Not enough information to decide

This is actually a difficult question. I know the correct answer (and so does Joachim) but it's not at all clear that the test adminstrators do.

Jervis Bay

Here are some photos of our weekend in Jervis Bay aboard the Ocean Trek. There was a definite lack of sunshine and it shows in the photos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Shark, Two Sharks, Three Sharks, Forty-Eight Sharks!

Today Pat and I went out for a late afternoon dive to try and get a bit more experience with the new camera before our trip to Jervis Bay this weekend. When we arrived the sun was bright, the water was calm and divers were buzzing with excitement. As I entered the water, I heard Pat groan - "I left the lens cover on the camera." Not normally a problem, unless of course its in a waterproof case and you're already in the water. Oh well, that just means it's bound to be one of the best dives ever. About 15 minutes into the dive we had yet to see anything interesting, so I thought to myself, so much for the best dive ever. About 5 minutes later, I was eating my we swam over a gully, we saw three then four then five Port Jackson sharks THEN we saw more and more and more. Thirty-two in total on the way into the gully. On the way back out, I counted again this time forty-eight! FORTY-EIGHT Port Jackson sharks just resting on the bottom of the ocean.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eel Fight!

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The underwater case for our new camera arrived on Friday. Today we went out to play with it and were lucky enough to witness an eel fight. Here are some more pictures.

Endangered Bandicoots: Slow Down!

And some more pictures from Manly.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sydney Aquarium

Tonight, just before the US presidential elections started, we went to the Sydney Aquarium and took some photos.
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Gilligan gets off

I picked this up at the discount store on Pitt Street today. I can't wait to watch it.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I snuck out of work a little early the other day for a late afternoon dive at Bare Island. On the way back, we ran into the biggest jellyfish ever (more pictures). This thing is so big it literally has its own ecosystem (a swarm of fish live in its guts). I mentioned it to the local divers and Bjorn Landfeldt dug up the picture at the top of this post (taken by him in 2005). It seems to be related to the Lion's Mane Jellyfish.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Camera

Pat and I bought the Olympus e520 on Friday so we played tourist all weekend. A few shots from around Sydney...

Where did the pictures go?

Not sure where the pictures went on the blog, they were there last night......

Here's a link so you can see them on Web Albums

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Apartment

Finally got around to taking pictures of the apartment. Ok, finally got it clean enough to take pictures.

Here is the tour......

The Bedroom - look to the left to see the original T&P designed side table. It also doubles as a storage chest.

The Kitchen - small but it has a gas stove.

The living room/dining room. This is the room that Tanya built. We bought all of our funiture from Ikea - I had no idea you could build a couch.

The bathroom - my favourite room. Separate shower and bath!

The ANZAC Bridge

The ANZAC Bridge.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trip Video

Mike Ball Coral Sea Liveaboard - October 9-16, 2008 from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

Here's the trip video prepared by the ship's photo/video pro. The version of Over the Rainbow in the closing credits is written and performed by the ship's captain, who also appears in the video.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lowest Unique-Bid Auctions

I normally won't put technical stuff on here, but this is a problem I've been thinking about that might be interesting to even the non-technical readers.

In a lowest unique bid (LUB) auction a bunch of bidders bid on some prize, say an iPod, a Mini Cooper, or even a house. All the bidders submit their bids anonymously and without knowing what anyone else has bid. The value of a bid can be any number of dollars and cents. Here's the weird part: The winner of the prize is the player that has the lowest unique bid. The winner then pays the value of their bid and gets the prize.

A lot of these have been run (usually on the Internet) and the winners of these auctions usually get the prize for a tiny fraction of it's actual value; a Mini Cooper recently went for $243.42.

There is an important legal question surrounding LUB auctions, namely whether they're really auctions or are they lotteries. Legally-speaking, the difference between a lottery and an auction is that the value paid for the prize should be related to the value of the prize. I've been working on modelling this as an n player competitive game (the bidders) and trying find the symmetric Nash equilibria to determine if the value of the winning bid is indeed an increasing function of the prize value. So far I've only been able to solve a few special cases.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


We're back!

We're back on land after our Great Barrier/Osprey Reef liveaboard. We made 23 dives and spent about 18 hours underwater. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rob and Paula sitting in a tree

Our friends Rob and Paula are getting married back in Ottawa. The ceremony is on November 1st. We're both sorry we'll be missing it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Diving and the New Apartment

We've moved in to our new apartment and only had pleasant surprises so far. The lock-up garage is big enough to hold all our dive gear as well as our car and there is a car-wash area that's perfect for rinsing our gear. The wet smelly gear never even enters the apartment. The new neighbourhood is also much quieter at night than the last one.

In the last few weeks we've done a fair bit of diving, including shore dives at Bare Island (Right, The Bombora, and the Isolated Reefs), Shark Point, and Shellharbour (The Arch and The Gutters). We've also done a couple of boat dives with St. George Scuba Club (Marley Point and Pizza Reef). It turns out that I'm prone to sea-sickness, at least when it comes to catamarans.

Tomorrow we leave for a week-long trip to Osprey Reef aboard Mike Ball's Spoilsport. It's a catamaran. I've packed the sea-sickness tablets.

Frist Psot

I thought I'd start with a little plagiarism. Tanya's update email of Sep. 23rd:

The Journey

Our journey was relatively uneventful. We began by meeting our friends Mike and Alette and the airport and catching our flight to Vancouver. When we arrived in Vancouver we took full advantage of the free wireless and ordered our scuba tanks online so that they would be delivered shortly after we arrived. Two days later we finally arrived in Sydney - yeah! Upon arrival they proceeded to delouse us by spraying some kind of chemical all over the plane and waiting 5 minutes. Only then were we allowed to de-plane. Upon deplaning, we headed straight to immigration where they didnt even bother to look at our Visas and sent us on our way. While waiting for our luggage a quarantine officer approached us and asked if we had any sporting equipment. When we replied yes, scuba gear and that it was fresh water they pulled us aside and checked to make sure all of our gear was dry. Apparently there is a virus in Canadian fresh water that is not yet in Australia. After full inspection they allowed us to proceed.

The Arrival

The weather in Sydney upon arrival was a balmy 15C with 4 meter waves and lashing rain. Needless to say we did not get diving the first weekend. So on, making the best of the hand we were dealt we headed out on Saturday and bought our car. We bought a green Mitsubishi Magna. IOn Sunday, we decided to hit the beaches and spent the day looking at the various beaches in Sydney as it was far too cold for swimming with both the air and the water still 15C.

Apartment Hunting

As Monday rolled round, we decided we should start looking for an apartment. The process is a little different here in Sydney. The market is hot at the moment so the real estate agents are not very friendly nor helpful. We called around asking to see a few places and many agents just said NO - come to the inspection on Saturday. When we could get an agent to show a property during the week it was usually a dump. As we were unsure of how hot the market was, we put in an application for one of the dumps and the agent called back and asked us if we would like to pay more rent. When I said NO, the agent was genuinely shocked that I said no. With shock he asked me again if I was willing to pay another $20 per week at which point I again said no. The next place we applied for asked us to pay rent two months in advance instead of the usual one however, the location was not great and we found another place by the time the got around to agreeing to take us. After all of that, we ended up going to the Saturday inspections and found a small one bedroom. Basically, if an apartment is any good the real estate agent has an inspection on Saturday that lasts 15 minutes so you along with a bunch of other people wait outside until the inspection time then everyon piles into the apartment to inspect it. Should you wish to take the place you can put in an application and about 3 days later they will call you back if you have been shortlisted or selected otherwise you never hear from them again.

The apartment is great. It is a small one bedroom but has air conditioning which is a huge plus. We get the keys on Monday so I will forward some pictures and the address once we get moved in. The apartment is just around the corner from my office and 2km from Pat's office. Pat has free parking so he can drive if he likes but will probably just walk.


Last week I started work at the new office. The office is much like the stories of the IT sector prior to the bubble bursting. It has a play room with tv, pool, couches. They have a espresso/latte machine in the kitchen and a "drinks" fridge for Fridays. The drinks fridge is a full size fridge full of beer. As I havent worked a Friday yet, I'm not quite sure how it works yet but I'll keep you posted.


Pat and I have managed to get ourselves sorted and have been out diving 5 times since we arrived. The water is a little on the cold side 15C but it should start warming up soon. The diving is pretty good here. The visability is not that great - at best we have seen around 30 feet so far but usually around 15-20. The marine life is amazing though. So far we have seen a Port Jackson on every dive and stingrays on most dives. Other interesting things we have seen include: wobbegongs, cuttle fish, bailers (giant snail - the size of my head) and some reef squid. We've upgraded to 15L steel tanks (120 cu ft) so I'm still a little wobbly on my feet as they are heavier than I am used.

The Car

If only we could dive without a car - life would be blissful :). If it weren't for the fact that the car takes us diving I might hate the car but seeing as it allows us to dive I am still fond of it. Regardless of the fact that so far the car has been mostly trouble......We managed to get a $81 parking ticket, an oil change that cost $200 and just last night the someone broke into the car and stole our GPS. Since they broke our window its in the shop getting repaired as I type. That said, it allows us to go diving so its a love hate relationship at the moment.

Well, that pretty much sums up the last three weeks.....