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Who is the Centaur and What is his Library?

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centaur at dragoncon 2021

Hi, I'm Anthony Francis, and I teach robots to learn, particularly deep reinforcement learning for robot navigation as well as the intersection of memory, emotion, and planning for contextual control

I write urban fantasy about a woman who can bring her tattoos to life and steampunk about women scientists and adventurers, as well as space opera featuring a young centauress explorer. I also draw a webcomic about a girl who can travel to any possible story.

On this site, I also have resources on how to become a better writer, on how to overcome writer's block, on the science of airships, my thoughts on how religion intersects with artificial intelligence, and even a collection of recipes and thoughts on food.

If you're looking for a good place to get started, my first novel, FROST MOON, won an EPIC Ebook award, and my team's work on PRM-RL won the ICRA 2018 Best Paper Award. Otherwise, I hope while you are here in the Library that you find something informative, interesting or at least entertaining!

-the Centaur

P.S. This is a "sticky" post designed to introduce the blog; keep scrolling down for more recent content, or check out the site menu, tags or categories to explore more.

A Long Day

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a long day

a long day. but a good one. more tomorrow.

-the centaur

Update on Site Maintenance

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Well, it looks like the way WordPress is going to pull the Classic Editor out of my cold, dead hands is to screw up the formatting of any post published with the Classic Editor. The only way it seems to get posts to appear correctly in the blog roll is to use the new Gutenberg garbage. I will be updating posts a few at a time to try to overcome this. The problem is only "new" Classic Editor posts ... the older content in the blog doesn't appear to be affected, so hopefully it won't take too long if I update a few a day.

-the Centaur

Departure Angle on Viewer

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after dragoncon

Well, Dragon Con 2021 was a resounding success. I have a page full of notes to transcribe here, but just wanted to put a stake in the ground, now that the move and the con are over, so I can get back to blogging and drawing and posting drawings every day.

-the Centaur

Pictured: The bus stop, after all the busses stopped.

Back to Dragon Con!

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dragoncon 2021

Well, we're back at a con at last! And as usual, I'm posting my schedule at the last minute. At least I got the chance to see some people I haven't seen in person for two full years!

dragonwriters 2021

And here is my schedule:

Title: Star Trek Essays
Description: There are thousands of worlds within Star Trek, & thousands of topics to talk about. Where do we start? Join a panel of published writers & producers to discuss what's worth discussing in Trek essays, articles, & videos.
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Galleria 2-3 - Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Kyle Mackenzie Sullivan, R Alan Siler, Anthony Francis)

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Title: Teaching Robots to Learn
Description: When you tell a machine to learn, all bets are off on what it will learn to do. In this panel, we'll discuss techniques used today to teach robots to recognize objects, to grasp them, to navigate autonomously around people, & even to imagine the future.
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: Atlanta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis)

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Title: To Series or to Stand-Alone?
Description: Fantasy readers fall in love with the characters & worlds we build. How do you sustain the interest in a series--or would this idea work better as a stand-alone?
Time: Sat 10:00 am Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis, Moderator: Nancy Knight, A. J. Hartley, J. Gregory Keyes, Seressia Glass, Dakota Krout)

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Title: Author Signings:
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: International Hall South 1-3 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Clay Gilbert, Patricia L. Briggs, Anthony Francis)

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Title: Dead at the Keyboard
Description: Panelists discuss strategies to combat writers' block, stress, fatigue, boredom, insecurity, & deadline anxiety.
Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists:Moderator: Nancy Knight, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Anthony Francis, Peter David, Trisha J. Wooldridge)

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Title: My Favorite Author, Book, Series, Character...
Description: Authors discuss their favorites among their own works & offer insights into their favorites in other authors' writing.
Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis, Moderator: Bill Fawcett, Trisha J. Wooldridge, James R. Tuck)

Hope to see you there!

-the Centaur

P.S. I have been drawing more or less every day, but I have also been moving, so you get a drawing another time.

Days 206-209

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scotty sketch Day 206, a sketch of Montgomery Scott from Star Trek: scotty headshot How ddid I do? Still can't seem to draw a correctly tilted head, and face to hair proportions continue to be off: scotty comparison Day 207, Nyota Uhura: uhura sketch Umn, well, it is the same person, sort of, but she's looking down, and the original, up: uhura headshot So, no real way to make these line up, but it isn't totally terrible: uhura comparison Day 208, Hikaru Sulu: sulu sketch Again, more or less the same person, but I made him look down, and what happened to his chin? sulu headshot Overall comparison cannot be made to line up: sulu comparison Day 209, Pavel Chekhov. I don't have the original reference on this computer, but I'm sure a comparison would be equally terrible to all the others, if not worsee. chekhov headshot Drawing every day, posting when i get to it. -the Centaur  

Day 205

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cinnamon back The back of Cinnamon Frost, after a painting by my wife. Drawing every day, even if I wasn't posting. -the Centaur

Days 203-204

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Day 203: Damnit, Jim, I'm a sketch, not a headshot!

Let's see how I did:

Huh ... not entirely terrible, though it needed stretching horizontally.

What about Day 204? A quick sketch of Dakota Frost:

Day 205 apparently hasn't been cleaned up, so we'll return to that.

Drawing every day, posting when I get to it.

-the Centaur

Days 200-202

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khaaan sketch Day 200 - Khaaan! Let's see how I did: khaaan original Meh. Head not wide enough. khaaan comparison Day 201 - Khan, the man himself: khan the sketch Day 202 - Spooock! spock sketch Let's see how I did: spock headshot As I recall, there was no good way to line up the face and the hair. spock comparison Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Site and Life Maintenance

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taurgarita

It's not that I've not been drawing every day. But my marriage is more important than drawing every day, and my job is more important than my posting every day, and just from the perspective of posting, while we're on that subject, site maintenance is more important than all of that, since I couldn't post.

However, taking a shotgun to all of my plugins (except the Classic Editor, which WordPress Gutenberg can pry out of my COLD DEAD HANDS) and running all available updates got the site back to life. Still not sure what precisely went wrong here, as the failure wasn't correlated with any detectable change.

SO anyway, drawing hasn't stopped, but posting of them will resume when I get the huge box of stereo wires detangled so the site is smooth again. Pictured: me, having a drink with my wife, spending a wonderful afternoon and evening together, most of which did NOT involve any form of drawing.

-the Centaur

UPDATE: The problem was the Jetpack plugin, and it persists even if the plugin is reinstalled from scratch. This has some precedent, as I see other users with the same problem, though I haven't dug deeply enough to understand what is going on in my case.