Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fire at Will

Here are some pictures that were shot at the Hoopes-Ferrell wedding in Berkeley during Aug 2010.




Friday, October 1, 2010

Stand and Deliver

I coordinated a 21 square meter stand at the ICT Expo in Brussels from Sunday until Wednesday this week. It went well. All of the demos were successful, we distributed a lot of literature and met a lot of people, and had some nice meetings and discussions. Here are some pictures.

The Expo location in Brussels. Note the sky color.

Our stand in Brussels. 21 square meters.

Felip Miralles, the coordinator of BrainAble, who joined us at our stand. He holds a box of Mozart chocolates, which also joined us at our stand, but not for long. I had to ask Christa to bring extras, which she did, and also did not last long.

A BCI User at our stand playing World of Warcraft. Note you can barely see she's wearing anything on her head - this is the whole point of new electrode systems.

Busy stand!

Another visitor to our stand uses the Intendix BCI speller from g.tec

She spelled the name of her company (Space Applications) with 100% accuracy! No training or screening. She was chosen randomly and never used any BCI before. She also spelled her name with 100% accuracy, but I did not get a picture of that.

ScratchBot, a curiously named robot presented at a stand near us. The yellow things are whiskers, since the system is modeled after a rat.

Brussels Pouts III

Greetings from Munich airport, where I am delighted to have made it out of Brussels. Brussels was true to form. As before, the metro was badly overcrowded, with people shoving to get on and then reposition. There was no circulation at all, leaving it smoggy and very hot. With everyone in the car sweating like cattle, you can imagine how this was for me, in a full suit. The metro line to the Expo, which was hosting our event with 6000 people, ran once per 12 minutes during rush hour. They had an airline strike on Tuesday that took out three of the eight speakers I scheduled for my networking session yesterday, and a general transportation strike on Wednesday that delayed another one until half an hour before it ended. I’m rather pleased our 90 minute session went as well as it did. For that matter, our 21 square meter stand also did pretty well, and the ICT Expo seems to have been successful overall, both for our team and for many other attendees. Many of whom, like me, will be “rewarded” for successful grant writing with: more trips to Brussels!

And we got dissed by the Belgian prince. He was at the Expo on Monday, and saw some of our friends’ stands. Ours was bigger (21 square meters was a lot), better (five different BCIs that the prince could have used), and had considerably more staff, some of whom spoke both French and Flemish. They spoke Flemish because they are Dutch, which is in fact the same language, but Belgians like to call it Flemish to confuse Americans. So the Prince could have played World of Warcraft with his brain, or spelled, or other things, but didn’t. We were miffed. It reminded me of 2 years ago at CeBIT, when we were told to prepare for Frau Doktor Merkel, and she turned around after coming quite close to us. Perhaps the Belgian prince also did not want gel in his hair, but (unlike 2 years ago) we had numerous dry electrode systems there.

Brussels does have some good (though overpriced) food, and excellent (and often reasonably priced) beer. Many parks and cool old buildings. Perhaps not a bad city as long as you don’t have to travel within it. Probably a nice city 2 million people ago. Like Los Angeles, I guess, which has a far worse mass transit system but dramatically better weather.

But I am beyond that now, in the huge Munich airport, which I generally like because (like Frankfurt, and no other airport I know), they have free hot drinks and a generous supply of numerous different free newspapers. The Allianz lounge here has free decent chairs and free electricity, though not free internet. They have a Hofbrauhaus in Terminal 2, which I think might also be in Munich. Most importantly, since I flew through Frankfurt on my way to Brussels a few days ago, I could finally attain new insight in to the maddening mystery of the urinal flies.

As mentioned many posts ago, Frankfurt airport had little flies in urinals in the mens’ restrooms. This shatters any stereotypes about the German sense of humor. (Bonus points if they put any in the womens’ restrooms. Does anyone know? I almost checked, but I doubt that scientific curiosity would have been an adequate legal defense.) I was heartbroken to see that the urinal flies were no longer there, at least around the A gates, because I really wanted to succeed where I failed before. No matter how hard I tried, I could never budge one of those little buggers. They must have super suction cups on their feet or something.

I entered one of the bathrooms here in the G gates in Munich airport. There they were! Urinal flies in every urinal, right at the aiming point! Yay! Lemme at ‘em!! They defied me again, and I had numerous cups of (free) tea before giving them another shot, and they still held on. The German reputation for tenacity is alive and well in their urinal flies. I complemented a passing Lufthansa pilot, but am pretty sure he did not appreciate it.

But I still couldn’t figure out why the migration occurred. Why would the urinal flies leave Frankfurt for Munich? Do flies like spƤtzle? Do flies like hiking too? Do they prefer that south German accent over HochDeutsch? Perhaps Bavarian cows drop tastier food? Are they migrating to Salzburg, or maybe even Graz? It was really bothering me until I passed a sign advertising that airport Hofbrauhaus. Of course!! It is now late September! The flies are here for Oktoberfest! And what a fest they must be having, getting kiloliters of free alcohol-soaked urine from thousands of tourists per day. (I heard that the occasional German even comes to Oktoberfest.)

It also provides a workable plan on how to finally pry one of those clinging little bastards off. All we have to do is put tape over one urinal and an “Ausser Betrieb” sign on it, then put a cup over the fly. After a while, he will get thirsty and leave of his own volition, and then we got him!! I am so excited, I could almost, well, go visit the flies again. But instead, I will go find that Lufthansa pilot, who will surely be far more enthusiastic about my genius after he hears my plan.

"Did you hear about the two flies who were having an argument on a toilet seat? One of them got mad, and the other one got pissed off."