First two days at IEEE Visualization 2004

Right, for those of you who don’t know yet, my group very kindly sent me to attend IEEE Visualization 2004 this week in Austin, Texas, USA, Earth.

The flight here was of course less than pleasant, but this is par for the course when considering any kind of flight longer than 8 hours. One tip: pre-ordering vegetarian meals can make all the difference. Instead of eating one of a few hundred pre-prepared plastic-like food imitations, you get one of 5 or 10 lovingly prepared tree-hugger veggie meals. The difference is astounding, and the lady sitting next to me was obviously very jealous.

Saturday passed in a kind of blur and I passed out on my hotel bed (in the Austin Hyatt Regency, thank you very much) at about 6 am Netherlands time. On Sunday I attended a workshop on parallel visualization architectures and Chromium, a parallel rendering software package. All in all a good workshop, except when it went far too much in detail on specific library calls and function syntax… these are things I can read in the manual, thank you very much. Ken Martin of Kitware gave a talk on ParaView, a VTK-based distributed visualisation package. I’ve used this before. What’s new to me, however, is that you can write a non-paraview client to talk to paraview running as a possibly parallel computation server on a remote machine. I’m definitely going to take a look at this. I ended my afternoon by attending the end of the Information Visualization workshop where Daniel Keim was giving a talk on visual data mining systems. Good stuff.

Today I attended the tutorial on Advanced Virtual Medicine. It was a compact overview of current medical applications of visualisation, with specific emphasis on endoscopy and soft tissue simulation. I’m familiar with most of the things that were discussed, but it was interesting nonetheless.

At the end of the day program, I left to attend the last few presentations of the Volume Visualization session and got to meet Bill Lorensen, creator of the very well-known Marching Cubes algorithm and also one of the parents of VTK, definitely one of my top three software packages of all time. In addition to all this, he’s a very nice guy!

The first conference reception will start shortly. There will be posters, interactive demos, AND FREE GRUB. I expect that much fun will be had by all.

PS. Last night, I got to see a few hundred thousand bats (literally, there are 1.5 million bats in the colony) leaving a bridge to go feed. Very impressive.