Surprisingly hot temperatures

This month has been quite hot in many parts of Australia. It’s not been too bad here where temperatures usually did not go over 34°C (93°F), but in other parts of Australia it has been quite unbearable. Sydney got to a maximum of 45.8°C (114.4) on 18 January. One night there it was still 35°C (95°)  at midnight and hundreds crowded Bondi beach at night to stay cool.

Even though temperatures were much lower here I was surprised at how hot some things outside got that were in direct sunlight. All the photos below where taken using my infrared thermometer that I used in the previous post about interesting temperatures.

The temperature of the road in front of our house was around 50C.

The temperature of the road in front of our house was around 50C.

The temperature of the concrete path at the back of our house was around 60°C (140°F). I didn't expect it to be warmer than the road as it is not as dark and I expected that it would reflect more heat, but perhaps it gets some reflected heat of the rear of the house.

The temperature of the concrete path at the back of our house was around 60°C (140°F). I didn’t expect it to be warmer than the road as it is not as dark and I expected that it would reflect more heat, but perhaps it gets some reflected heat of the rear of the house.

The bark on this tree was 42°C (107°F). Not that much higher than the surrounding air. I assume the dark bark absorbed the heat .

The bark on this tree was 42°C (107°F). Not that much higher than the surrounding air. I assume the dark bark absorbed the heat .

The temperature of the bottom of our wheelbarrow was very hot at 66°C (151°F). I expected the water in the corner may have kept the temperature lower, but not so.

The temperature of the bottom of our wheelbarrow was very hot at 66°C (151°F). I expected the water in the corner may have kept the temperature lower, but not so.

And finally a reading straight up. Just as in previous times that I have done this there is very little heat to be measured. This time it was only -21°C (-6°F)

And finally a reading straight up. Just as in previous times that I have done this there is very little heat to be measured. This time it was only -21°C (-6°F)

 

 

 

 

New Year’s resolutions – Thoughts after 3 years

For the last three years I have set goals/resolutions/targets at the start of each year. I have surprised myself as I managed to complete more than I expected. Maybe because I have not aimed very high.

So what are the benefits of setting New Year’s resolutions?

bicycle leaning on a fence

My old bike parked for a morning tea break while on a longer ride as a part of the cycling goal.

Well the first is that each goal has a life of just one year at most. So, I have not made any commitment beyond that and this takes some pressure off. I decided to read a book each fortnight a couple of years ago. I no longer feel compelled to do that now. However those twelve months were long enough for me to see the effects and to form a habit. While I no longer feel compelled to read I have continued reading regularly. The defined time limit appeals to me as I like the idea of dividing life into phases.

Another benefit is that once I have those tasks on the list that need to be done, such as house maintenance then I don’t feel guilty about not doing more later that year. The problem with house maintenance is that it is never ending. So the goal is as much about limiting the amount of work on the house as it is about getting tasks complete.

Previous successfully completed goals

Some goals I successfully completed over the last few years are:

  • Renovate the bathroom
  • Start a blog
  • Pave a small pergola area
  • Install solar electricity and solar hot water systems (not a lot of work needed by me on these ones)
  • Start cycling again and go on at least one 16km ride each week
  • Read 26 books in a year

Funny, they were much more impressive in my mind than they now look written down. There was lots of minor stuff too so perhaps that’s ok.

The downside?

They don’t all get done. In fact I don’t seem to be able to complete more than one or maybe two larger goals per year. It is usually the most important ones that I start at the beginning of the year that succeed. Those that I plan to complete at the end of the year have the worst chance of success – possibly because I no longer see their importance or feel committed to them by then. It’s interesting that many of the minor ones were never achieved.

It’s easy to feel guilty about failure to complete goals.

Twelve months is a long time and life is short. Pushing myself to maintain a commitment to an activity for twelve months does not always seem worth it.

Opportunities that come along during the year such as the Computing MOOC that I am now doing can feel like distractions, when it is actually a great opportunity. In fact some of the things I have pleased that I have done where not on a goal list.

So what about next year?

I’m going to start next year with only one goal to do some maintenance on our kitchen. I am deliberately not setting any others. I’m going to see what happens if I don’t set any. I was inspired by this video on zenhabits, Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck.

I think life at my day job is going to be quite challenging next year, so I want to keep the stress levels down.

Will I end up achieving as much or even more at home? Or, being happier? I’m looking forward to testing it.

Learn machine code and C at university for free and at home – Enrol in a MOOC

I usually try and post once a week, but I missed last week because I enrolled in a Computing MOOC and it has been keeping me very busy. What’s a MOOC? It’s a Massive Online Open Course. These are (usually?) run by Universities and they are becoming quite popular. They are offered for free and anyone can enroll. The catch is that at the end of the course you don’t get a certificate of completion and it is unlikely you will be able to do a whole degree.

So why do universities offer these? There are a couple of reasons. One is that it is a way for universities to distribute knowledge across the whole community and the other is that it introduces prospective students to the university.

These are good for the community too. They provide a way to try out university without going through the process of enrolling and paying fees. Just like a normal course you will (or at least in the ones I have seen) be able to interact with your fellow classmates and enjoy the benefits of having a qualified lecturer answer questions. Of course, being online means you never have to leave home to participate. Great for a child that is nearing the end of High School and contemplating university.

The course I have enrolled in is Computing 1: The art of computing, run by Richard Buckland at the University of New South Wales here in Australia. It was created from the UNSW first year computing course. It runs for twelve weeks and covers machine code and C. Lectures are provided through video. These are embedded in the course but they are also available on YouTube. This is the first one.

There are a lot of tasks, but most are short requiring 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete and they are be submitted online. Results are often instant through an automatic marking process. I’m surprised at how enjoyable it is and how enthusiastic other students are. Also, I am surprised by how much I have learnt in just a few weeks.

According to their website the next cohort will be starting on 3rd December 2012. Enrolling is easy – it will only take a couple of minutes. You can even log in with your Facebook account. If you enroll and find it is not for you, you can simple withdraw as there is no penalty. If you’re interested, but computing is not your thing then do a Google search for mooc and the subject you are interested in. It’s likely that you will find something.