We bought ourselves a kitten today! He’s one of four kittens from a stray litter that was found at Macquarie University a bit over a week ago. The picture shows him with his three siblings. We think our kitten is the one on the right, but to be honest, it’s very hard to tell them apart, so he could also be the one on the left! Either way, he’s one of the long haired kittens.
We’ve called him Dorje, which is a Dzongkha word meaning thunderbolt, and is also a common Bhutanese name. At only 3 or 4 weeks old, Dorje is still incredibly tiny, so we’ll have to wait another 4 weeks or so before we’ll be able to bring him home. We did, however, get to play with Dorje and his siblings for about an hour at the vet clinic this afternoon, and the vet nurse told us we could drop by whenever we wanted over the next few weeks to spend time with him.
CeBIT Australia 2006
After returning from leave, I was immediately immersed in last minute preparations for CeBIT Australia 2006. After spending much of Monday afternoon assisting with the construction and setup of the CSIRO stand, I then spent 2 days this week at CeBIT show-casing ICT research from across a range of CSIRO divisions. Our main demonstration was again SciFly, our tailored brochure generation system – with much improved robustness and performance from last year. I had several interesting discussions with interested people about applying SciFly and the underlying technology to a range of problems across a variety of industries. For me, this was the most satisfying success metric of my time at CeBIT.
As well as demonstrating our technology at the CSIRO booth, I also gave a short seminar on Contextualised Information Retrieval and Delivery as part of the Future Parc seminar series. The environment was a challenging one for speakers, with much background noise, unreadably small plasma screens for displaying slides, and no less than 6 parallel sessions of seminars at various points around CeBIT to compete with. Despite this, I think I managed to engage at least some of the people in the audience, based on the couple of thoughtful follow-up discussions that I had after the seminar.
Trekking through the Himalaya in Bhutan
You might have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here for the past month. There is actually a very good reason for this – Michelle and I have been overseas in Thailand and Bhutan since the beginning of April, with the main focus of our trip being a 14 day trek through the Himalaya in western and northern Bhutan.
The trek was almost certainly the most physically and mentally demanding activity I have ever undertaken, but was equally fascinating and stunning at the same time. Our trekking was hampered by unseasonably bad weather, including rain, sleet and (a lot of) snow, along with temperatures ranging from -10 to 35 degrees during the course of the trek.
The remote areas of Bhutan in which we spent the bulk of our time really are like walking back a few hundred years to medieval times. The villages have no roads, in fact, no vehicle access at all (not by air or by land) – everything is brought in on yaks, ponies or carried by people who, like us, must make the multiple-day trek along steep, narrow, rocky paths from the nearest road-accessible towns. There is (of course) no mains power or water.
Over the next few days (and probably weeks), I hope to publish a selection of photos and stories from our epic journey in the mountains. Feel free to leave any comments or questions as they arise – Bhutan is a truly fascinating country that I’m still very interested in learning much more about.