Saturday, September 27, 2008

Esa-Pekka Salonen in Leeds

This Saturday, the international concert season in Leeds started with a concert of the Philharmonia, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. I was very much looking forward to hear again this conductor, as he had been for years the director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Sometime in winter 2005, he had given a concert of his own compositions in Thousand Oaks, which I attended. I had wanted to ask him then re. a joint project about computers and music, but I had been too slow in pursuing a meeting, and he had already left.

On the program was the Symphonie Phantastique by Berlioz and two works by Beethoven: the 2nd Leonore Ouverture, and his 4th Piano Concerto. I had not listened to any work by Beethoven in many years, as I felt quite familiar with his overall style. Yet at this concert I was quite surprised to hear the astonishing musical consequent compositional structure, which makes so much sense. In contrast, I still have difficulty following the musical thoughts of Berlioz. His orchestration may be brilliant, but I am not able to hear "what he means" by his compositions. Somehow like listening to someone who speaks a different language: I hear the sounds, but they do not make sense...

A problem interrupted the 2nd movement of the Piano Concerto: someone in the audience, sitting behind the orchestra, fell ill and fainted - the concert was interrupted, and medics carried the person out. The movement was not continued, instead the orchestra went rightinto the finale - and a few minutes later another one fainted, but this time without interruption of the music. There is a review of this concert in The Guardian (1.Oct.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Times Higher Education Awards 2008: Leeds Met Shortlisted Again!

As every year since 2005, the Times Higher Education gives out awards to universities, recognising achievements in a wide variety of areas. Leeds Met has won in 2006 in the category "outstanding contribution to the local community" and became 2nd in the overall "Unviversity of the Year" category. When I opened today this week's Times Higher Education issue, I saw that Leeds Met again has made it into the shortlist: this time in the category "outstanding contribution to inovation and technology", for a project on giving student feedback through audio (MP3 files). Congratulations, Bob!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ISMAR: Posters (2nd Photosynth)

With the pictures I took today, I now created a quite elaborate photosynth: with 97 photos and a synth quality of 100% (no picture was left out) this is the best synth that I have made so far. Each poster can be viewed in its full resolution as a separate picture.

ISMAR: posters

Here is a Microsoft Photosynth of the ISMAR poster room. A more detailed synth is in preparation, this one here is just the "first try".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Opening of ISMAR Conference

The ISMAR conference takes place at the Engineering Faculty of U.Cambridge. The morning keynote today was given by Paul McIlroy from Hawk-Eye. As the Technical Director, he presented the Augmented Reality and tracking systems which his company employs in sport events for showing the exact ball location, which is very useful in judging critical situations.

Afterwards was a session devoted to progress of display technology. After the lunch break there were sessions about user studies, layout, and applications (still ongoing). I had to go back to the hotel room to take care of some work to be done.

Monday, September 15, 2008

ISMAR: Reception in the Wren Library

The Wren Library is located in the Trinity College. It host books from back to the 8th century, and also the first print of Newton's Principia. A very honorable place. ISMAR participant were given access to visit the library room, before a reception took place downstairs.

Travel to Cambridge

First an appointment for immunisation at my NHS surgery, then a haircut. Then briefly to work, running last minute errands. Then taxi to the train station - train to Cambridge, to visit the Annual ISMAR conference. I have been the Finance Chair this year. Gerhard Reitmayr from U.Cambridge has done an excellent job in organising the local issues, and has been of great help with the financial transactions etc.

I arrive in the late afternoon, time for a brief stroll. Half of the town are the "colleges" from the University Cambridge. Honorable buildings, often closed to visitors.

Trinity College

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas"

An excellent movie, touching and moving, full of humanity. Hopefully those "unconvincables" have a chance to watch it...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SDF: Faculty Day

On Thursday the day of our faculty, Innovation North, in the Leeds Met Staff Development Festival. I attended a workshop given by a specialist on Intellectual Property (IP), and then joined Tony Bryant in the workshop "I am a researcher - get me out of here!".

In the afternoon, the Ideas Factory presentations were repeated, and I got my medal a second time (after I had handed it in before).

During the last plenary keynote talk I was asked to joint the faculty management team who were sitting in the first row. Tony was not to be found, so I was told that I should say something about research as kind of closing remarks of the day. During the quite funny keynote by comedian Kevin McCarron I was collecting my thoughts to produce some meaningful sentences (without any powerpoint slides!). Then we all walked onto the stage. As I take place, I see that Tony is here too! He must have been there all the time, just had not been noticed. So what now about my words about research? I do not want to say the same as he, since this would just "his show"... so when it is my turn I talk something general about the Staff Development Festival, instead of what I had wanted to say (which was how to link research with student-related teaching etc.). Then Tony gave his public address, and our faculty day closed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SDF: Research Day

Today the Leeds Met Staff Development Festival held its Research Day, where talks, workshops, and symposia were held related to Leeds Met research activities. I had set up a mini-symposium: "Creative Technology - An Oxymoron?". John Elliott gave a talk about the human mind, Michael Ward presented state of the art of musical beat tracking, and Ben Dalton showed examples of robotics and remote presence used for creativity.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Two presentations at Staff Development Festival

On Thursday there was the "Assessment, Learning, and Teaching" (ALT) Day at the Leeds Met Staff Development Festival. It began and ended with plenary keynote speakers, and in between there were two workshop sessions. Originally I had proposed to hold three workshops, but only two workshops were possible due to the schedule constraints. So I gave the following two workshops: one workshop together with Prof. Roderick King about a software for teaching physiological processes during sports activity, using a game that we and the company Kooji had developed in a joint project; and one workshop about the learning object editing tool CourseLab. Everything went well, except that the room where the CourseLab workshop was held, was completely overheated, due to a problem with the ventilation.

Originally I had offered to hold three workshops, but out of time constraints, I had to withdraw the workshop on the TQEF project about a particular tool my colleague Prof. Claudio Vignali had developed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My first Article in "Spiegel Online"

I enjoy reading Spiegel Online since many years. While in the US, it kept me linked to and informed about the ongoings in my home country Germany. Now from the UK, the "homeland" appears much closer, but I still often read the news there on Spiegel Online, to get the perspective from the other side of the Channel.

They do have a very interesting column about old cars, called "Altmetall", where drivers of old cars write about their experiences with so-called "New-Timers", which are somehat old cars which not necessarily are true classics. In February 2007 I decided to write something about my Ford Granada and sent it to the Spiegel Editors. Did not hear anything for a while... but 2 weeks ago I got an email with the question if I could send the article again. I updated it with the latest stories up to its end in July 2007, then sent it. And today the article is published! Is a bit shortened - in my original version I had put more details in. Also the wording is slightly different. Maybe my original version had a too rusty German...

There seems to be a controversy about the car: is it a Scorpio or a Granada? In the papers it is listed as a Granada. But also many people here in UK have named it a Scorpio, as these two cars appear to be identical. Not sure... but I go with the official version, as it was registered and listed as a Ford Granada.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Staff Development Festival

As every academic year here at Leeds Met, this year too begins with the Staff Development Festival. This is the fourth of these festivals, and it is also the beginning of my fourth year here at Leeds Met.

The festival opened on Monday with inspirational speeches and a set of workshops. I had been invited to the "Ideas Factory" event, where Leeds Met staff members could present their "idea" for any improvement / concept / activity to a panel of judges. Among these judges was a senior manager from Google. The panel would act likein the "Dragons' Den" and put questions to the presenters, to test the feaibility. The winning idea would be taken forward by the university in the coming months. I presented my idea, in competition with 4 other idea presentations by others. And - I won. Nice :)

Also, in time for the new academic year, Leeds Met has a new website. It looks much more contemporary than the previous version, and in the coming months all pages of the Leeds Met site will be converted into the new layout.

This means that I will have to update the site of the Centre for Creative Technology too...