Hillsboro, Oregon

I got here early to avoid Hurricane Wilma and any possibility that the storm had to disrupt my leaving Orlando and getting here to Oregon on time. Thankfully, Intel was open to the idea of me coming out a day early. I wanted to leave early to beat the hurricane on my way out and now it looks like I might have problems coming back because of the tail end of the storm depending on how far north the storm travels.

The Delta flights over were fairly painless. From Orlando to Atlanta I slept the entire time, and from Atlanta to Portland I was lucky enough to have a “bad” window seat. I say bad because accoring to www.seatguru.com my seat was listed as “bad” and unfortunately couldn’t be changed before I checked in. It didn’t turn out to be bad after all because of an unpredictable situation. A few minutes after takeoff the air conditioning went out and they could either turn around to have it replaced or just suffer through it and get to Portland. The pilot didn’t turn around and near the center of the plane (where I was sitting — row 33 to be exact) was rather warm. Sitting next to the window seat, though, allowed me to lean up against the wall where it was considerably cool than the rest of the cabin.

When I got to Portland I got set up with my rental car. I was told I was getting a compact for the three days I will be out here — so that is what I was expecting. I got my keys, and found the right parking space but something appeared to be wrong. On either side of space #808 were two compact cars, but in the space for which I had keys stood a ’06 Buick SUV. I didn’t want to go back and say something, so I got in and drove away. I don’t know if it was a mistake or not but it’s nice to drive in such a big car when normally I’m in a small Corolla.

The whole trip took a little less than 11 hours from doorstep to hotel which isn’t bad considering there were no direct flights out of Orlando. Tomorrow will be interesting as I’m going around town with Max — a friend of mine from UF. I really enjoy that I get three days… the first two to relax and the third to work hard during my interview.

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Billiard Ball Detector, Part 0.1

Along with Kari I have started a new project to detect billiard balls using computer vision. It doesn’t sound like something that is too difficult to accomplish and I hope it isn’t — but it will be the first step in my idea of a full scale billiard playing robot. The first set of 9-ball test images can be found here.

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Norway Pictures Posted

After several days of trying to get the 100 Mb of data uploaded to the server, the photo gallery has been updated with Norway content. Pages eight and nine contain the three photo stitched panoramic views that I believe came out the best (click on the photos after following the links to see the full resolution images):

I still have several entries that need to make it from my computer to the website that will annotate the images found in the gallery. It’s been a great trip thus far, and it’s a little sad there’s only one more day left.

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Tonight at the VLDB conference banquet we were served something I’ve never eaten before: reindeer. To complement the entree was a starter of poached scallops with white wine, and a dessert of white chocolate and orange mousse. As for entertainment a local choir came to sing authentic (albeit unintelligible to me) Norwegian music. Tonight Raja and I are headed out to a local pub to take in some of the culture and alcohol.

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Demo Number 1

This morning the VLDB presentation of the software and demo went well, and this afternoon it was time for the actual demonstration to the conference participants. We had a total of seven sensor platforms (www.sensorplatform.org) that went on to the demonstration board but only six of them were responsive with any data. The TCP/IP stack needs some work as there is a memory error that keeps occurring at some random points during bootup. Currently we’re trying to determine if it is a hardware issue or not — most likely no because the stack works well on some platforms but gives errors on others. Anyways, Purdue University seemed pleased with the results we were able to display and we’ll be giving another demonstration on Friday before returning to the States on Saturday morning.

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Trondheim Sights

Since the conference didn’t start until today I was able to get out and do some sightseeing in and around Trondheim yesterday. I mentioned in a previous post that two of the most famous landmarks in the city are the Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. It’s hard to describe in text just how beautiful the cathedral was to see in person because I wouldn’t be able to convey the intricacies of the sculptures or artwork to do the real thing any justice. As can be seen below, the front of the cathedral is covered with tens of religious figures all carved from stone and the spire that towers into the sky.

Nidaros Cathedral - Left   Nidaros Cathedral - Right
Nidaros Cathedral - Spire   Nidaros Cathedral - Spire

It costs around 40 NOK (roughly $7) to go inside and I’m glad I did because the views from the inside were as awe inspiring as those from the exterior. It’s difficult to say exactly what each of the artifacts inside represents because the signs were mostly in Norwegian. Suprisingly, even though the inside was very dimly lit a number of pictures came out really well. The images of the stained glass looked very blurry so I decided not to include them in the gallery.

I didn’t find the Archbishop’s Palace to be anything terribly special other than having been around for almost one thousand years. The courtyard and some buildings are palacial in size but certainly aren’t shown in a way one would expect a palace to be.

Archbishop's Palace   Archbishop's Palace
Archbishop's Palace with Cathedral Backdrop

On the grounds, though, there was a museum dedicated to Norway’s involvement in World War II and and seizure by the Nazis. The displays were very well done with lots of pictures and historical documents — I learned a great deal from the hour or so I spent inside.

Posted in Travel, Vacation | 1 Comment

The Flight Over

I’m finally here in Trondheim, Norway, after about 18 hours of travel. The flight from Orlando to Amsterdam was delayed an hour so getting into Amsterdam an hour later made it difficult to catch the Fokker 100 jet over to Trondheim. We managed, although I would’ve enjoyed the opportunity to walk around Schiphol but there isn’t any reason we can’t do that on the way home. Both flights were bumpy but the transatlantic journey was cold and noisy. Fortunately for us, Raja and I got seats in the emergency exit but it was right behind the jet turbine and the emergency exit was freezing cold. The trip from the Trondheim airport to the actual city takes about 30 minutes by bus or taxi. Along the way we went into three tunnels — something you don’t ever do in Florida.

Norwegian Tunnel

The drive from the airport went quickly because all of the scenery is new to me. We drove by these pristine wheat fields and the landscape was sprinkled with different colored houses. Raja and I noted that the majority of the houses we were seeing were red, but interspersed among the grasses and fields were also a few white, green, and yellow colored homes. The bus driver informed us that many of the less wealthy families would paint their homes red because of the abundance of copper mines that existed in the region. An oxide found in the copper mines when mixed with water and other ingredients would generate a red paint that was cheap (or free) enough for a lot of people to use. I did some additional research on the topic and discovered this type of paint is called Falu red and originates in Sweden.

Norwegian Wheat Field

We arrived safe and minus one piece of luggage that is essential to our demonstration. Luckily, though, it arrived in the hotel last night after 11pm. The town is really quaint with a lot of small cobblestone roads and very narrow alleyways. I’ll have some more time tonight after the evening’s events to explain more of what is here.

I knew it wasn’t going to be hot here but the temperature is ridiculously cold for August as far as I’m concerned — a mere 55 degrees right now (it’s almost noon). There’s obviously going to be a weather difference between Wellington and Gainesville and above the 60th parallel but Florida lows are twice that of the lows expected here during the week.

Posted in Travel, Vacation | 1 Comment

LMD18200 H-Bridge Motor Driver

After months of procrastination, I have finally put together the project page for the LMD18200 H-bridge motor driver. I uploaded all of the schematic and PCB documents as well as a simple bill of materials.

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Smart House in The Post

In the Residences section of today’s edition of The Palm Beach Post, my dad came across one of the research projects that I’ve been involved with and working on for the past eight months. The Gator Tech Smart House is a home located in the University of Florida’s Oak Hammock living community and caters to the pervasive computing needs of the elderly. Written by Sue Kovach, the article gives a brief overview of a few of the sensors located with the home. It gives me a strong sense of pride to know that something that I’ve had a hand in designing is appearing in newspapers and is gaining some kind of public knowledge — even more so when the Australian Discovery Channel airs what was taped in the house earlier this year. Most of the projects college students do never amount to anything, so I’m happy to see the success for everyone involved.

I looked but was unable to find the blip on The Post’s website, so I’ve attached the completed article at the bottom of this entry. Below is Youssef Kaddoura holding one of the boards we are about to replace with the platform that I’ve designed.

Youssef Kaddoura and the Smart Floor

The Palm Beach Post Article

More information or a better description of the Smart House can be found in an issue of the IEEE magazine or from the Gator Tech Smart House website.

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When Words Can Make Skin Crawl

When I hear something like the following, all I want to do is die:

“… congratulations to [some person] and their team over at [some company] …”

It seems fake, impersonal, and the fact that people seem to be so eager to use it makes me want to crawl into a world where the the word team has been forgotten. We as a society need to think of new diction and come up with another way to describe a group of people working towards a common goal.

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