Brad's AI Tour - Sydney

There's no doubt about it. AI is going to be even huger in 2024 than it was in 2023. At least from a hype perspective. That's judging by the 16 minute wait I faced to collect my badge at the entrance of the Microsoft AI Tour in Sydney this morning. Regular haircut people of the East Coast are going to make a lot of money from this technology. I just think it's neat.

Dear Chat GPT. Please generate me a harbour side house in Rozelle Bay.

Regardless, I felt extremely hyped myself this afternoon during a short break for fresh air between sessions. This was not just from the sugar of the dozen free desserts I consumed at the event and the hotel breakfast buffet beforehand. I crammed new knowledge into my face with just as much avarice as I had for the food and coffee. I get genuinely excited by the potential of this technology the same way I get tingles every time I get a glimpse of humanity's potential and before some reality snaps me out of it. With the right amount of CPU and ingenuity the possibilities are endless. Human services, healthcare, custom entertainment, massive increases in productivity. All of it could be achieved and most of the world** could commence living like spoiled Golden Retrievers for the rest of our lives, carried through the years in the metaphorical, oversized handbag of big tech and their easy to consume, low code solutions.

Humanity will corrupt it, of course. When there's money to make and social hierarchies to preserve the packaging won't end up matching the product. The margins will ruin things.

AI is ground breaking magic. But if you want to use it in Production, you're going to need a few additional services deployed in between the model and your users.

Anyway, after the sugar rush ended and the afternoon sessions peeled back the curtains on the magic box a bit further, my expectations returned to their temperedness. There's still a lot to do. And I still have excitement about contributing to doing it. After hours of walking around Sydney and its harbour in the past twenty-four hours I am reminded that humanity has not nor will not ever be perfect. But it's far from being bad. We will probably end up living like spoiled Golden Retrievers think they live.

**With the exception of physical labourers and AI developers of course. And then just the developers.


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How much do I like APIs?

How much do I like APIs? A decent amount, it seems. They keep me employed, to an extent, and they make it pretty seamless for me to check the weather, my email, the stock market, along with a thousand other daily use cases. They justified my work paying for me to fly to Melbourne for two days to attend a conference about them.

I don't just like APIs because of the free food and chance to spend time in airports and around lakes. I like APIs because, I think, they're just my kind of software.
Two aspects of my personality are solved by good APIs.

One, prescribed, effective communication. APIs have standard protocols and mediums. Connecting to one can be done at any time. Responses contain the data you asked for in the format you expect. There's no standing around with a half eaten pastry wondering if you should speak now. No waving back at someone who was actually waving at the person behind you. No lingering once the message has been delivered. Good APIs are elegant and clear.

Two, APIs enable maximum efficiency for tiny increases in value. You can asynchronously plug in to an operation while the main program carries on. I prep my milk and take my fish oil while I'm cleaning the blender each morning. If the interfaces of the froth button and my mouth weren't always available I'd spend more time each morning achieving the same result. APIs let me upload images while I'm creating the entry, and spam new iServer objects via a script instead of using the UI.

So yeah, I do like APIs. And free food. And even kinda airports.


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Where Am I?

The last week of September has been the kind of unrealistic spring weather you dream about in winter. Sunny, warm enough to wear shorts, but not so hot you can't go outside. Basically perfect, if you don't suffer from allergies. I've been riding my bike into town when I'm not working from home. Drinking coffees in the sun. I can't help being fascinated by flowers and the lifecycle of plants.

On the weekend we went to the Barossa to dog sit, and took Nash along for the ride. This presented more opportunities for enjoying the weather. We did the full Kaiserstuhl walk after having to cut it short last time due to injuries. I ate cereal, fruit and yogurt on a log in the morning light watching the birds before striding on up the hill and it felt like this was what my body was made for.

While in the area I also tried award winning bacon (it tasted like bacon smells like) and visited Greenock Brewery for a tasting paddle. I also walked around a lake and took in the golden canola fields.

The second brown snake spotting made us to decide on cutting the trip short, and we packed the second dog into the car for two more nights of dog sitting back in Adelaide.

I feel like I will finally sleep well tonight.

Helpless and Free

After multiple duckling sightings today, it is clear that Spring is over and I'm both warmer overnight and closer to death. In the latest Above and Beyond mix he also shouted out that an amazing summer was coming to an end... This seems like a good moment for finalising my latest seasonal playlist and reminiscing about it. I was in Italy like twelve weeks ago. It feels like it was another lifetime. How does that make me feel about my trip to Europe in 2016? That was someone else's existential crisis in someone else's lifetime.

Hopefully writing about some of the music I listened to a lot over the last twelve weeks will help with keeping every moment of my life compressed like a pancake inside my own mind (except the embarrassing parts obviously).

The title of this mix is Estate Winter 23, a name I chose because "Estate" is the Italian word for "summer", and "Winter" is the Australian word for "suck shit we don't believe in double glazing or insulating houses".

Here's to you, Winter 2023. Whether it was hearing a reggae remix of Metallica on a warm morning in Parco Sempione, or listening to the original version on shitty headphones on my ride home from Wayville on a sunless day in August, such a specific stretch of months has never made me feel so free and helpless at the same time.

Johnny Jane, your voice carried over the streets of Paris the night before I flew home. Gorje and Manchester Orchestra, you were lullabies for afternoon naps. Spoon, the soundtrack to trains across France. Milky Chance, summer vibes regardless of the weather. Various trance and progressive house tunes, you are like the Vaseline over the camera lens to make work feel more beautiful. The rest of you, well, I just know I listened multiple times during the mundane walks around my neighbourhood, or while shivering through rehab in the gym, or while frolicking in the glorious parallel universe that is the tourist destinations of Europe - or just remembering that.

Dry Ink

I received a parcel from France today containing my notepad and the July/August 2012 issue of Analog that I left behind in Colmar.

What was not in the package was Uni-Ball Signo 207.

image 1867 from bradism.com

The biro had been mentioned when I'd listed what I'd inadvertently abandoned, and it was the reason for me estimating the package value at €5. Staring into that reused Amazon cardboard and seeing only Alsace air made me realise it was gone forever. Dead or missing in France like Private Ryan.

This made me sad. I wrote a lot of words with that pen, albeit not recently. It travelled with me across the world twice. Losing it made my remission from storytelling sting a bit more. I do still write occasionally, usually by keyboard these days, but I'm devoid of any commitment or habit that would define me as a writer. And I hadn't typed a word since before my holiday on anything that was still in progress.

But tonight, in memory to the pen, I typed a fresh 500 words onto the end of my current project. And if it ever gets published the dedication on the first page will be obvious.

Holiday Heroes

It was three degrees this morning, and I couldn't help think back to the summer of last month and some of the unsung heroes that made it what it was.

Water Bottle


After a day of juggling water refills in the four small bottles we accumulated on the flights over, we bought this bottle in Rome and proceeded to refill it countless times from the free and often constantly running water taps in Italy, Switzerland and Paris. The bottle finally went dry at the security checkpoint for the final flight back into Australia due to the Australian government's policy to keep incoming passengers dehydrated. As if we needed another reason to think Europe was better than Australia. It was recycled in South Australia (hopefully).

Bottle in Lucerne in front of one of the million free, delicious water fountains of Europe.

Spoons


What started as a pair in Rome for the cost of one gelato (I fished them out of a bowl of spoons sneakily). Despite being compostable they proved extremely durable and honestly I do not feel confident to put them in a green bin. Extremely handy for consumption of high protein yogurt and pudding tubs directly from the supermarket, and sturdy enough to stir a Tupperware tub of oats and yogurt on a walk, where other spoons failed and crumbled. Half of the duo went MIA in Milan, the other is still going strong four weeks later.

Yes, we did bring the Tupperware from home for this purpose.

Knife


Probably the only positive out of the takeaway lasagne I bought in Florence was the serrated, plastic knife which then went on a killing spree, including slicing several baguettes, cutting up a cucumber during a picnic in Paris, and spreading a lot of knock-off hazelnut spread on croissants and crepes.

One last crepe for the road, Charles de Gaulle Airport. Also featuring the backup hazelnut spreader, a Gelato scoop from Rome.

Forks


Drafted in Rome on our first weekend, started life in a takeaway pasta and went on to scoop a variety of savoury snacks and home-assembled meals. Also pitched in as a spoon after the attrition of our original set of two. The back of each prong was hollow and tapered in at the point, making them quite annoying to clean.

A tin of tuna in Montmartre. In Europe, tins of flavoured tuna are actually large enough to nourish a standard sized human.

Socks


The good thing about merino socks is, like Marino shirts, as long as you don't soil them you can just hang them somewhere to air out for a day and then rewear them. (I will die on this hill). This makes them ideal for vacation as you only need to pack a few shirts and socks to get you through a long holiday. This is okay for a month, but the Smart Wool socks I bought in 2013 have unfortunately reached the end of the road. Bought in New York due to me not packing enough socks, I had no idea that I would fall in love with the best, most comfortable and temperature regulating socks I'd ever wear. I remember being disappointed when I realised what I'd bought wasn't a 2 pack, unaware that I'd get more wears out of these socks than any other pair so far in my life.

Alas, you can't wear socks every second day of winter for ten years without them eventually succumbing to wear and tear, and though there are only a few holes among the thin parts unfortunately hanging them outside for a night won't fix that. The time was right to say goodbye, and - like Jim Morrison - lay these socks to rest in Paris.

Skin on my Toes


It was a long and painful death, but it died for a good cause - the sights of Ischia and the Amalfi Coast, and from the tops of the landmarks in Florence.

Low resolution for your viewing pleasure.

Belt


(Not Pictured)
My belt did not die in Europe, but it earned a medal of honour for being able to pop the lids of multiple cheap as heck beers in Milan and Paris when I lacked a bottle opener.

Butt Pillow


(Not Pictured)
Lasted until Naples, then taken by the trains into the unknown because I was in a rush to get the suitcase and forgot I'd been sitting on it.

Chance of a Shower

I've been back from Europe for over a week now. Did I ever really go there? The thousands of photos indicate yes.

I've ridden my bike three times already, in an attempt to conserve some of the summer spirit. The first trip was to the supermarket, then on Monday I rode along the Torrens to visit the office. The sky was overcast, the water was brown and the boring, muted towers of the Adelaide skyline gave me a visceral reaction. I muttered some ungracious things about the city and did not take any photos.

Since then my body has adjusted to the dark and the cold and the damp. It was definitely a good idea to put fresh bedsheets on the bed the day we left. There is still eight weeks of winter remaining, but at least the backyard that confronted me after a week away was not just a gigantic pile of mulberry leaves, but a couple of flowers too.

Saturday was my third bike ride, a trip to the markets between downpours for delicious, strong coffee better than anything I had in Europe (except maybe one in Rome) and cheap fruit. I felt a lot better after that one. Then we rode back home.

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