Saturday, July 26, 2008

Opera in the Park

In Temple Newsam, in the south-east corner of Leeds, an open air event took place: "Opera in the Park", with the Opera North. Several ten-thousands of spectators grace the large lawn, throughout sunset from 20:00 - 22:30, and listen to excerpts from operas. The event ends with Borodin's orchestral piece "Polovtsian Dances". Gives me inspiration to re-work my own rendition of this music, which I had done back in 1994 (actually, I only had worked on the very first part of this wonderful piece).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Best Wishes for our Dean!

The Dean of our faculty Innovation North, Cath Orange, is leaving the faculty to become university-wide Dean for Post-Graduate Programs. She had been at Innovation North for 4 years, one year before I joined the faculty. On Thursday, we had a little celebration and a fare-well dinner to her honour.

I am very grateful to her, as she had been in the committee for my appointment here at the University. Best wishes for Cath in her new role, where we will continue to work together!


At Leeds Met, this week is Graduation Week. That is why I could not add holiday to my business travel, as every Leeds Met member of staff is supposed to be present. Our Innovation North ceremony is on Wednesday evening at 17:00 and on Thursday morning at 11:00. In addition, I have several meetings scheduled for these 3 days in this week - quite busy schedule!

Again I get the same robe as last year, for walking in the academic procession: some greyish thing, with a blue collar and a round greyish hat. It is very warm in the marquee tent, despite the air conditioners. Very festive atmosphere, as every year here. These ceremonies are really special and well arranged!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ESOF 2008 - Last Day and Departure

The sun is out again, blue sky today. This is the last day of ESOF 2008. I pack my stuff and check out from the hotel, leaving my luggage there in storage for picking it up in the afternoon.

Had not much time yet to see things in Barcelona, due to attendance at the conference. There is another social event in the afternoon, in the Mies-van-der-Rohe pavillion, where the ESOF responsibility is handed over from Barcelona this year to Torino in 2010. I may have a look - maybe I could engage a bit with this community and could participate in one of the sessions as speaker.

A bit walking around in Barcelona, up the hill of Tibidabo with its old-fashioned Luna-Park. There is a real whole airplane hanging on a construction and is "carried around", with passengers in it. Great view from there over the city.

There are also interesting Roman remains in the city: a few columns of a temple, city walls, and gates.

The plane leaves at 19:40. I take again the train, but it is quite a hazzle: have to carry all my luggage around the metro, as there are not everywhere esculators or lifts. At the train station, there are sign for the airport, but it is difficult to find the tracks where the trains leave. The announcement boards are very unclear, no mention of the train to the airport. Finally I see it, at track 10. Many people are on the platform, waiting for the train. It goes only every 30 minutes, clearly to infrequently for the demand. The train is then packed. Arrive well in time, as I have planned with lots of time buffer.

The Jet2 counter is still without personnel, a long line of passengers is already waiting. For one hour I stay in the queue, chat with a nice patent lawyer who is in the queue. Finally, the queue moves, just 1 h 1/2 hours before take-off.

The flight is without any incidents, arrive well in Leeds.

Monday, July 21, 2008

ESOF 2008 - 4th day

Today the weather is cloudy, the sky is covered by a white layer, no more blue, and the air is quite humid. It is still very warm.

The focus of the ESOF conference today is significantly on government policies regarding research funding. In many talks, there appears the notion that the US is far ahead, and that Europe needs to catch up. "Threatening" are the increased efforts in the Asian area, specifically by China. The consequence of this is that measures are being recommended, for increasing Europe's research activities and moving forward to a "Knowledge Economy", as outlined in the so-called "Lisbon Agenda". A lot of buzzwords here, many people talking and thinking, while the rest of the world is just doing, and is moving ahead. I personally believe that all this planning and policy making has a lot of inherent overhead built-in and reduces the effectiveness of any measure. As I have seen it in the US: there is less policy, less bureaucracy, must more immediate action, and a willingness to take more risks. That is why they are more successful, at least considered in a simplified viewpoint.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

ESOF 2008 - 3rd Day

Again I get up at 7:30 - and am alone in the breakfast room. Understandable - who would want to get up so early on a Sunday morning? But I am interested in the session "Are the arts the language of the brain?". Interesting talks, but they do not answer the question. That is a general "theme" of this ESOF conference: the titles are quite provocative and thought-provoking, but then the panels to not really live up to those ambitious titles, and instead of giving an answer to the question, they talk either about the problems and question itself or just about their own work which has some remote link to the question. Nevertheless, the talks are interesting. Overall, there are several main themes in this conference: Brain imaging, energy, environment, and health as main research topics. Europe as a Knowledge Society in the policy topic. A lot of sessions deal with how Europe can be made more competitive, and the EU is always compared to the US. An interesting demo from the realm of Mixed Reality: a music synthesizer which is assembled form tangible objects. Developed and demonstrated by the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ESOF 2008 - Party in Pablo Espagnol

On Saturday evening, the ESOF conference holds a "party" at the "Pablo Espagnol" which is just a short walk from the exhibition centre. This "village" consists of a set of historic houses, taken from all parts of Spain and representing the architactural variety. One seems to pay admission for entering this village, but for us ESOF participants the entry is free. There are several restaurants in this quarter, but we have a large area in the centre which is specifically reserved for the conference, with a stage and life music on one end and many black-covered tables in the middle.

ESOF 2008 - 2nd Day

I get up early. In the breakfast room of the hotel I am the first and only one. Who has breakfast on a Saturday morning at 7:30? But the first talk starts at 8:30, and I do not want to miss it: as session on Biofuel.

There are 3 experts who point out the dilemma re using biofuels, as I already had debated it with myself a year ago. The experts, however, come to a positive conclusion, in accordance with the official EU position: they can provide additional energy, and not only that, but also can provide more benefits especially to the 3rd world, as they can plant it and create income their for the agricultural sector. I remain sceptical: the panelists did not show how much CO2 these fields actually consume, compared to a tropical rain forest for example. One of them pointed out that the energy is about 9 GJ per hectar. I would have to convert this into how much fuel this actually is, in terms of liter of Biodiesel or Kerosin.

After this session I walk through the exhibition area. There is the German DAAD there - I leave my address, as they may want to establish an DAAD alumni organisation.

I originally wanted to listen to another UK speaker, to as to support my current "home" country: a talk by Sir Richard Mottram about Science and Terrorist Threat. But I get stuck at the exhibition and the outreach expo...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Evening in Barcelona

No offical event tonight. The ESOF opening is over at 20:30. I am hungry, but the restaurants and bars I pass, are quite full. I could go again to the Bar Pepe, but I would like something more substantial. In the hotel is a restaurant which appears to be nice... but when I enter, everything ie empty. No buffet, no customer, no waiters. So I walk towards the centre. The Rablas Street is just about 10 minutes from the hotel. I have a look, and finally I walk into the "Gaudi Tapas". Have a salad and a Mixed Grill. The salad is ok, but the Mixed Grill is awful: the most significant taste comes from the burnt side, it tastes bitter of strongly burnt old oil. This was not a good choice...

ESOF 2008 - 1st Afternoon

As the participation at the Marie Curie workshop allows participation at the ESOF 2008 Conference, I begin to look at which of the talks I would listen to. There are many parallel session and talks. I decide to go to the one given by Sir David King from UK, U.Oxford,about the challenges of the 21st century. Naturally, a big challenge is the climate change. By 2050 there will be 9 Billion people on Earth, with the population growth fortunately levelling out. The CO2 content in the atmosphere had been in the past 300,000 years between 200 and 280 ppm. Right now it is about 380 ppm, and it will stabilize in the most optimistic scenario at about 450 ppm. He is a proponent of nuclear energy and of gen-manipulated (GM) crops. In some ways he appears to be a bit close to politics, as he had been an advisor of the UK government, and he made some remarks which imply his close links with the UK government.

I had sat down at a row far in the back, with a lot of leg space as a walk way was going through there. I sat down quite low, being exhausted from the long days, and at a few instances I had slightly dozed off. Hope that I had not snored...!

In the evening there was the official opening of ESOF, with 8 welcome speeches, 3 of them in Spanish.

A stage performance of two artists working with bib bubbles completed the evening.

Marie Curie Workshop - 2nd Day

The next day started with me setting up my poster, as today were the "even poster numbers" to be displayed. After attaching the poster, I picked up my registration for the ESOF conference. It turns out that a metro ticket is included for the nest 5 days - great! However I just had bought a secound T-10 ticket, because I had yesterday just sued up all my 10 rides on the previous ticket... well, I may just gove the remaining 9 rides on that ticket to someone.

The presentation session started with some general talks about FP7 and about successful proposals. I knew most of that already, as I had gone through the material of FP7 already in the last 2 years, and I also had participated in proposal workshops. Interesting, however, was the personal individual view of the panelists, as they gave some insight about their own individual perspective.

After a short coffee break, I go to my poster #58, to explain everybody about the Creative Technology.

The workshop ends with 6 selected presentations from Marie Curei Fellows, who talk about their work. A price is given to the best poster, and also the YouTube video competition is awarded. At 14:20 the workshop is over.

I had met a few people from Leeds University, among them Bogdan whom I had met last year at Falk's grill party.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marie-Curie Workshop

In the morning it actually had begun to rain a little. The sky was gray, and a slight drizzle was in the air. So I had gone up back to my room, to get umbrella and jacket. But is was still warm, and by noon the clouds had gone - it was again sunshine.

The workshop started shortly after 9:00 am. There were 300 participants, mostly Post-Graduate (PG) students, a few postdocs. I seemed to be completely out of place.

A few presentations gave overviews on various subjects. Prof. Winkler, U.Vienna, spoke about the European and the US university system. In EU, universities receive very little funding. UK appears to be exceptionally high, with 0.8% of the GDP from private and the same amount from public funding. The US appears to be leading: 1.4% of the GDP comes from privat funding, 1.3% from public funding. He made the point that Europe has to learn a lot from the US, and he had positiv words for the UK which was somewhat in between. R&D expenditures in EU are 1.9% of the GDP (2007), in the US 3% (in 2003).

Noel Campling, Directpr of the European Patent Office, had swapped his talk with Sean McCarthy, as he would have to leave in the afternoon. He talked about patents and the importance of IP. Currently there are 200,000 patent applications per year.

After the coffee break was the poster session. As already pointed out, it was very cramped - no space to move through.

Sean McCarthy (Hyperion) advocated that scientists need to learn the "language" of business, so that they could sell their ideas and implement them in products and society.

Then was lunch, with everybody reconvening at 15:15. The workshop participant were then divided in three equal groups, split into 3 separate rooms. There, three panels of experts were giving the same talks in each group, rotating around through the rooms. The idea was probably to allow for more interaction; however, time for questioning was relatively short, so that this goal was not really achieved. Instead, the whole sessions were there for 3 hours, without any coffee break. As it was getting quite warm and humid, people (especially me) got thursty. I went out briefly to go to a kiosk, to get some water, as the vending machines in the basement were sold out. What kind of a conference/exposition centre is this where one cannot get anything to drink?

The panels were very interesting. One talked about the work of researchers in industry, another one about disseminating the work, and the third one talked about their own experience and success in research. Is a very good inspiration for graduate students.

In the meantime, the ESOF 2008 rence was being setup in the conference hall. A lot of activity, as it would start the next day. More than 4000 participants were expected to this conference.

In the evening there was a party organised for the Marie Curie Workshop participants near the coast. The directions to the location were slightly unclear; I got the metro station, then walked a bit around along the coast until I found it. 300 people were squeezed onto one patio, with finger food and free drinks, and sufficient opportunities for interaction and discussion.

I chatted briefly with one of the panelists, whose interest is Late Roman Cooking, which he investigates through archaeology and examination of food remains.

Live from Avenida Paral-lel

This is something new: I as sitting right now on the street sidewalk, under an umbrella, eating Calamares and a sandwich with Jamon Serrano - and I am typing this blog entry. Am connected to the accesspoint "BADAR"... no idea who that is.

This morning was the first day of the Marie Curie conference. I actually woke up at 7am, as planned, without an alarm clock. My internal clock appears to work quite well. Have breakfast, then take the subway two stations to the Place Espagna. There are 300 participants at the workshop, all Marie Curie Fellows. There were presentation about research, EU, academia in Europe, and how to link research to industry. Quite interesting. Then there was a poster session. 150 posters in a quite small room, plus a few outside in the foyer. Way too little space, it was very cramped. Tomorrow I will bring my own poster.

But right now I enjoy the lunch break, here on the Avenida Paral-lel (no idea why it is written like that...).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Visit at Computer Vision Centre, Universitat Autonoma Barcelona

I had planned to get up at 7am, so that I would have enough time for possibly getting lost on my way. But I had not set any alarm, simply relied on waking up through the daylight brightness in the room. But when I opened my eyes at 9am, it was still quite dark due to the thick curtains. I had a nice breakfast at the buffet in the hotel, then put on my suit and went out. Since the metro entrance is right near the hotel entrance, I did not have to walk much. With L3 to Place Catalunya. From there with a train towards north. S55 and S2 would be suitable. There are red dressed officials everywhere whom I could ask for quick directions to the trains, as the ticket machines were all in Spanish or Catalan. My zone-1 T-10 ticket would not be valid, so I had to buy a zone-2 roundtrip ticket. Then waiting for the train.

The train stations I have seen so far are all underground, linked to the metro system. This makes the commute easy, but the air there is very warm, and the walks along those tunnels are sometimes quite long.

The train leaves exactly on time. I txt Antonio that I would arrive soon. He is there at the station to pick me up and drive me to CVC, as the distance is not very short.

Last year, I had participated with CVC in a joint bid to the EU in the FP-7 program. So I had thought that it might be a nice opportunity to combine my travel to Barcelona with a visit to their institution. I had prepared a talk about my work and the Centre for Creative Technology, to give an overview over the many topics on which we could to collaborate.

When I entered Antonio's office, I first saw Prof. E.D.Dickmanns' latest book. He had been here for a visit a few years ago. Meet then also Angel, and Fernando.

I try to get the mobile phone working, with GPS and Wifi, but the GPS reception is poor. It is quite interesting that the stand-alone Garmin GPS is so much fasterin initialising, while the XDA sometimes takes quite a while until it gets a fix. This might have its cause in the GPS acquisition being somewhat crashed, as for a long time there are no satellites at all. On the other hand, once the phone has a GPS fix, the tracking of the position works remarkably well, even under deteriorating conditions.

My talk is scheduled from 12:30 to 13:30. I have 72 slides, am supposed to end in 40 minutes. It takes overall 50 minutes. Some slides have the wrong order... I should have reviewed the set again after finishing it at 3am the night before. But overall the talk goes well.

Afterwards, we go to lunch in the cafeteria. A large buffet, with excellent samplings of the Spanish/Catalan cuisine. I was told that my introduction at the talk sounded funny, when I said "good afternoon" (at 12:40), because it was still considered morning. Afternoon would be now, after lunch, at 3pm. Ok, next time I know.

Angel, myself, Antonio (left to right)
Angel, myself, Antonio (left to right)

Antonio then shows me a presentation of their work. Very impressive, many technological advances in computer vision projects, a wide variety of approaches. We discuss a few things, very interesting. At 16:30 I head back, walk to the station through the campus. Quite a large campus, two train stations (one at each end) from different lines coming from the city, very green, hilly. Most buildings are quite hidden away under trees and in valleys.

Back in the city I head to the Exposition centre to register for tomorrow's conference: the Marie Curie Workshop. It is now quite unbearably hot in the subway and in the endless tunnel hallways, outside the air appears to be fresher.

No dinner tonight, as I am still full from the delicious lunch. I fall asleep for two hours before I update my blog here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arrival in Barcelona

The plane lands on time in Barcelona. Only two hours away, but in a different world. The air looks hazy, but good-weather-hazy. No rain here, only warm sunshine. Temperature at arrival is 25 C. My luggage arrives promptly at the belt. Last time with Graham, in May 2006, we had taken a taxi into the town. I was considering this now too, but I am curious to try also the trains. After arriving at terminal A, the sign for the train departure points to Terminal B. From there, along a covered footbridge a few 100 m to the train station. I buy a T-10 ticket which is good for 10 rides. Has been recommended on one of the web site I had consulted yesterday. Waiting for 1/2 hour, the previous train must have just left. The ride takes 20 minutes to one of the main train stations. From there with metro L3 south. There is no esculator or elevator from the train station to the subway, I have to carry my luggage over the stairs down. A long walkway tunnel to the L3 line. Again there are only esculators upstairs, but none downstairs. It is very warm... finally in the metro train there is a cool breeze of A/C. 4 stations, then I get off. A very busy street, the Avenida Paral-lel. Modern buildings at the side, nothing spectacular. The hotel is supposed to be quite nearby. I see a building one a block away with a large "Hotel" sign, so I walk to there. But it is another hotel. So where is the one I am supposed to be? I cannot see any other hotel building. I have the full address with house number, but the houses here do not have any house number... so I finally have to overcome the male-chauvinistic attitude, and ask someone for directions. "Not far from here, just 25 meter". So close? Maybe I misunderstand, maybe he means 250 meter? I walk in the direction, cannot see anything... until I have a look at the building where I am standing now - and there is the hotel entrance. Right near the subway exit where I had come out...

First a refreshing shower. There is wireless internet in the room - great. Even an ethernet plug is in the wall, but I only need the wifi for now. Nice clean room, very business-oriented. The window "view" goes into a narrow courtyard, but I do not need a view anyway. From the roof, however, there is a nice view over the city.

View over Barcelona, seen from Hotel Universal Barcelona

I am getting hungry. On the way I had seen a couple of bars with tables on the sidewalk, and pictures of paella on their menus. I have an appetite for this, so I will go there. First I take a brief stroll around the hotel, into the back alley. Small shops, bars, a truly un-touristic area, for the locals. An old church is nearby. Children do some facade climbing on a kind of school building. I get now something to eat: first a small tapas dish, then a pan of paella. The menu says of minimum of two people only, but they can obviously make exceptions. I ask, and they make for me a single portion of paella.

Bar Pepe, Barcelona

When I am finished, the light blue of the sky has turned into dark-blue night sky. Time now to begin preparing the presentation for the next day!

Departure from Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA)

Last week has been a very busy week. Deadlines, two bids submitted, several meetings, making a poster, ISMAR issues. And then the yesterday night again packing. Ensuring that all the gadgets are ok, fully charged, that all the cables are available. It is not the most efficient way in which I am dealing with this... more a brute-force approach. Several power adaptors for the different devices, redundant set of cables so that I do not get stuck should one one work (happened already once). I leave in time, drive first briefly to the campus. Need to make a printout in my office. Also take a few flyers of the Centre for Creative Technology - one never knows if they are needed.

The weather has been mild and warm, a bit humid, but some sun rays. Now, however, as I drive towards the airport, the mist turns into a grey fuzzy haze, and small rain droplets form on the windscreen. Does not look good - I hope that the flight is not delayed. I had not taken a taxi this time, but had reserved a parking space near the airport. 47 Pounds for 8 days, appears reasonable to me. When I enter the Long-Term parking, every possible space appears to be occupied. I had been there before, and it never was a problem; I always had found a space right near the entrance. But now all spaces there are filled. What is happening? Are all these people travelling on an EU grant so that they can afford the parking? I continue to search. Did not know that the parking area was so vast. Through parking areas 2, 3, further to 4,5. No space. No traffic either - these must be all people who came here on the weekend. Who would fly now on a Tuesday into holidays? Finally, at parking area 7 there are spots available. I park, get out, and the slight rain drizzle continues. This time I have 5 pieces of luggage: suitcase, carry-on bag, laptop bag, camera bag, and poster roll. I consolidate the camera bag into the carry-on, but there are still 4 bags to pull all the way to the terminal, through that long parking area. The rain does not help... I grab a trolley and put everything on it. I could wait at one of those bus stations for the courtesy bus, but I decide that time is already tight, and I would rather walk quickly to the check-in. Halfway through there is in fact a courtesy bus coming from the terminal, bringing people to their cars. I will do that as well upon my return. I could get in now, at least be dry, but I do not know how long that bus will circle around. So I keep walking quickly toward the terminal, passing signs which state "no pedestrian walk across the parking lot. Take the courtesy bus".

When I enter the Jet2 check-in area in the terminal, it looks like a zoo. The Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) could almost close if it had not these flights. I remembered to queue towards the right for Jet2, the left side would lead to another budget airline. But as I wait there for a few minutes, nothing is moving. I am getting nervous now, the time is running. I leave the trolley and walk towards the front. An attendant is blocking access to the actual check-in queue. I ask her where I should go for my flight. She points me to a counter where very few people are. Great. She also mentions that the flight may be already closed... not so great. I grab my luggage and stand behind the few people of counter 43. Then it is my turn. The flight is not yet closed. But my suitcase is too heavy. Only 17kg are allowed, mine is 18 kg. So I have to walk across to pay 6 Pounds. As I come back, the clerk sees my big poster cardboard tube. This would also need to be checked in, as I cannot take so many pieces into the plane. She makes a phone call, and then it is decided that I can take the tube into the plane. Good.

Now towards the X-ray control. They have refurbished it since the last time I was here. Two isles now, one for fast track. When getting my car parking, I had noticed on the web the option to pay 5 pounds to get a fast track. Now this really shows the hypocracy of all that security hype: it is just plain money extraction from the customers. This does nothing to help security, any terrorist can pay it if they want to. Where is here the difference between this "official sanctioned fasttrack procedure" and the good old method to slip the officer a fiver so that he lets you go through faster (not that I am implying that this has ever happened...)? There is no difference. But I had refused to slip that fiver when seeing this option on the web. So I am stuck in the slow queue.

Fortunately there is no queue. But the officer who checks boarding pass and passport, tells me I have too many pieces of carry-on luggage. Why the hell is that? Whad does it impede security if I have one or three bags to carry? But I do not complain, smile friendly instead. Pack the laptop bag into the carry-on bag which is now almost bursting. The poster will have to go separate still. And I am allowed to carry the laptop separately. I squeeze it under my arm, hope it does not all out. The controls are very thorough today. Is there any security alert? They seem to be more thorough than 3 weeks ago at Manchester Airport. After I have passed the control, I start again to establish my seveal carry-on items: the wheeled case, the laptop bag, and the poster roll will just have to be separate. The camera bag stays nicely in the wheeled case.

Boarding at 15:00. I had paid the 12.50 Pound fee for an extra legrooom seat, but since this is at an emergency exit, the seat back does not recline. The legroom is great though. They just took out the seat in front of it, so that I have actually the lenght of two seats. I stretch my legs and take a nap.

The flight takes only 2 hours.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Difficult to print an A0 poster in Leeds...

On Sunday night I finally found the time to design my poster, representing the Centre for Creative Technology. I thought it would be easy to find a shop which could print it in A0 size. But when I looked at the Fedex/Kinko site, where I had printed that nice poster for the 2005 AXMEDIS conference, I noticed that they are no longer in Leeds, only in London. I had asked the day before at Staples, but they only print A1, and laminate only A2. I could split the poster, but this would be only an emergency option. A friend had told me about a copy shop near Leeds Uni. As I pass it, it appears to be closed for holiday. In many of the online directories, one company was mentioned: Baskind Imaging. I had tried their website, but I only had gotten their reply "website cannot be found". I had called their phone number, but nobody had picked up. When I finally went to their address, 54 Otley Road, there was a sign that parking is only for Baskind Imaging customers. But the actual store was not there. I ask the clerk of a printer cartridge shop which now seemed in its place, and he told me that they have moved two blocks futher. Ok, I walk there. No sight. I go back to the car and drive along where the clerk had told me the shop would be. No avail. Only private residences. some churches. Am I stupid or what? This search for a simple print job becomes quite frustrating.

I have to go back to my office and search the web again... There I find something promising: Printer In Leeds. They have a nice online chat. I sign on to ask if they can do the job. Alice answers, yes they can, but it would take a while to ship it to me. Can I not pick it up? No, because they are - in London. So what about their name "Printer in Leeds"? Yes, they are currently looking to hire a representative in Leeds.

I feel like I am in a parallel universe, where everything that business do is aimed at getting no business. What kind of attitude is this? Who came up with that business name? Why not call it PrinterInLondon? I am getting desperate. Find another company, get a quote, is over 100 pound. Ok, I am willing to pay this, would be reimbursed from my EU grant.

But then I finally hit the jackpot: Deepblue Digital. Here is a company who is willing to do business. Of course, they could make the music on their web page an optional item, instead of forcing the viewer to listen to it, but they respond quickly to my inquiry. I had called them, get a call back that they can do it. I send them the PDF and the Powerpoint File around 12:00 noon, and at 16:45 I get a call back that the poster is ready. Printed and laminated, and trimmed to my specifications. Great! I drive there to Roundhay Park to pick it up. Price: 19.90 £ for the A0 print (which is extrodinarily affordable) plus another 19.90 £ for the lamination. Plus VAT. In any case, they have the lowest price I had found, and they were actually able to do it. I can recommend them highly! And the poster looks great. Aside from my own mediocre design for it ...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Open Day at Leeds Met

This Saturday was a very rainy day, strong showers, also some wind gusts (gales, as they say here in UK). This was the first event I am aware that took place now in the temporary Marquee tents on the Acre here in Headingley.

Open Day for the whole university. Each faculty has a stand and presents their offerings to prospective students and their parents. I have decided to show my geotracking application. Is not extremely "cool", just to have that one little icon representing me there on the web screen. But some people are actually genuinely interested in this.

There is a couple from New Zealand whose daughter has decided to come to Leeds Met in a year for a MSc degree. She is specifically interested in Leeds Met - no wonder, some of the buzz has obviously made its way around the globe already!

Many other parents come and ask for our curriculum, courses, opportunities for study. A busy day, starting at 9:30 and ending around 15:00.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Busy Time at Work

Two meetings today at the Old Broadcasting House in the morning. Then in the afternoon, a bit of time for other work. A long list of things to do in the next 2 weeks...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Committee Work

Work at Leeds Met also involves participating in committees. Today I am scheduled to attend the examiners board meeting at a partner college in our "Regional University Network (RUN)". While the approach to have many people thoroughly go through each student and confirm the results is very laudable and shows a high commitment to quailty and fairness, it appears to me that this is a bit of an overkill. What the 13 attending people did, was basically to look at the students' grades and determine their degree classification. In principle, a computer could to that task simpler and more efficiently. Of course, in such meetings it is possible to uncover problems and mistakes, and critical cases can be discussed. But I still think that there might be a more efficient way of dealing with this. Either to do it online, with online collaboration tools, or do some kind of automatic verification / validation, maybe only with a smaller number of people. It seems to me quite a significant amount of resources to be spent on these meetings, to invite several external examiners who have to come to the meeting location.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Departure and Last Excursion

This is the travel day, no seminar in the morning. A few of the seminar participants alreayd had departed during the night, as their flights left early. For me this is the first day in a while when I can finally sleep a bit longer and have breakfast at a reasonable time: around 11:00.

I pay the accommodation bill. Fortunately, I can pay partly with Cyprus Pounds, so I do not need to drive to any bank for exchange. I had packed my luggage after midnight, so I am ready to go. There is some time, my plane is scheduled to leave at 16:50. So I decide to again to a brief excursion. This time I head straight towards West, to some Roman sites. But first, I partially fill the car tank and get some more cash.

Drive on the motorway, passed Limassol. Get out near Kurion, drive along the coastal road. I had been already at this site 2 years ago, so this time I do not enter, just pass at the side, But I visit the remains of the old Curium stadium.

Back at the bungalows, I take my luggage and give Reinhard a ride to the airport, where he pics up his rental car and his arriving family.
It is very hot and humid, the walk from the rental car return to the terminal is just about 200 m, but is quite exhausting.

There are long lines at many check-in counters, but the line to Cyprus Airways is fortunately very short. At the duty free shop, I buy a small bag for my laptop. At the seminar, I was always walking around with my in-flight case, which has wheels but is just too big for lugging it around. I had no choice, as thre were adaptors and cables in it. But the new bag also has some extra space; so from now on I will use this bag for the laptop.

Boarding is delayed. When we are finally in the plane, there is another complication: two people whose luggage has been checked in, are not on board. And for safety reason they have to remove the luggage. One would think that it is easy to identigy the luggage - they all have tags on them. But now, all passengers have to leave the plane, identify their luggage on the tarmac, and then return again. In the end, two suitcases remain left over. There is always something interesting happening wiht Cyprus Airways...

The plane leaves with more than one hour delay. Stop in Paphos where most passengers in the front rows join this flight. Then takeoff towards Manchester.

The plane arrives 50 minutes late, at 21:50. Long line at the immigration control. My luggage is there ok. Missed the 22:22 train, so I take the next one an hour later. That train for some reason takes longer than the otehr trains during the day: 20 minutes more. It drives a strange route: instead of turning at Manchester Piccadilly Station, it continues further West until Salford Crescent, then returns from there into the opposite direction, hereby also passing Manchester Victoria Station. At 1:00 I arrive in Leeds.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

4th Day in Pervolia

This is the last morning session of the seminar. A group of students has taken it upon themselves to conduct an evaluation of this seminar / program, based on input from all participants. We discuss the outcome which was overall positive. Problematic were the lack of internet and some of the infrastructural arrangements (transport, food). But the students had the time to work on their thesis, to collect their thoughts, to find a new focus and determination. The evaluation goes until noon.

Then I am ready for a "cultural excursion". Early in the morning I had been at the bank in Kiti, to exchange my Cyprus pounds which I still had from 2 years ago. However they told me that the last day when they would accept them, was yesterday... now from 1.July on only selected bank branches would do an exchange of these Cyprus Pounds into Euros. So I will have to find a bank today or tomorrow... they mention a bank in Larnaca in the centre. But I had there been just 2 days ago, do not want to go there again.

Graham had recommended to go to the Troodos mountains. So that is what I do. But first I pay a visit to the Sultan Tekkesi Mosque which is right near the airport. Supposedly this is the 4th-most important sacred place for Muslems, after Mekka, Medina, and Jerusalem: a relative of Mohamed had died here and is buried.

Then on to the "Chapelle Royal", a medieval little church. The guide inside starts talking as soon as I enter, like a robot automat he points to all the fresque remains on the walls. They are indeed impressive, although not complete, with large gaps.

The further route leads through a dirt road into the mountains.

There is supposedly something interesting at Tamassos, but I follow the signs and just end up at a large reservoir lake... no further indications of any relevant object or sight there.

Driving further towards West, I decide that there is enough time to go into the Troodos area. There is a visitor centre up at 1700m elevation. It is not as hot here anymore, quite pleasant. Unfortunately the air is quite hazy, so one cannot see the coast from here. A guy from Romania offers rides on horses, and I decide to do this for 10 minutes. He walks ahead, leads the horse onto a short round trip.

Then down towards south, Limassol, back on the motorway to the bungalows. We all meet at 20:00 for a joint dinner in Pervolia.

The host from the restaurant Pyrgos recognises me - I must have made an impression when I ate there, coming from a bicycle tour, with my GPS and camera equipment...
This is our farewall dinner. Of course we have a Meze... the restaurant owner offers free wine. We also celebrate Reinhard's birthday (which is actually a day later, but who cares).