Weekly Head Voices #4: The New Roomie, MedVis at MeVis, Fairy Tale Beach.


"Haringeter" by Tom Otterness.

"Haringeter" by Tom Otterness.

Depending on the particular reality that you find yourself in, which itself could be a function of how hard you’ve been partying, we have now left week #38 of 2009 behind us.  I took a significant part of this week off to spend some quality time with visiting family.  On Tuesday, I popped by my work (that’s the TU Delft for the uninitiated) to pick up some stuff for my planned official visit to MeVis in Bremen on Wednesday.  Two noteworthy points spring to mind:

  • The New Roomie (TNR) has moved into our shared office.  This is cool for at least two reasons:
    1. TNR (PhD) is inherently cool.  I’m not sure how this happens to someone, I’m thinking it’s genetic, or perhaps he got hit by a radio-active astroid at some stage.
    2. TNR has all kinds of hard-core looking VR equipment (including a table-top VR system) that he has brought with him.  Our room has a decidedly more hard-core ambience, and this tends to impress upon people how hard-core we are.  Or him, and me by association.
  • Visiting work from right in the middle of my small vacation was an energising experience that amplified the big smile I already had on my face.  This is a Good Sign(tm).

By Tuesday late afternoon, I had to get on the train to Bremen to attend the German Visual Computing in Medicine meeting, hosted by MeVis. The previous sentence will now expand, Transformers-style, into a number of derivative thoughts. Watch:

If you’ve ever had to book an international train journy via nshispeed.nl, the official site of the NS (Dutch Railways), you’ll know of the pain and frustration involved. Attempting to book the train journey to Bremen was no exception, I have two hours of wasted life to show for it. On a tip from Frits and Jorik, I phoned the Treinreiswinkel in Leiden. LO AND BEHOLD, a friendly person answered, and managed to book the exact journy nshispeed claimed was impossible for a really good price. My tickets were delivered to my house exactly one day after the phone call.

For the first time on such a longish international journey, my computer (in this case Asus eeepc 1005ha-h netbook) had a significantly longer battery life than the duration of the journey: 5 hours of quality time in the train, a whopping 9 hours left on the battery. Score 1 for the 21st century! By the way, I think I might be developing feelings for my netbook.

The meeting in Bremen was great: 10 research presentations, ranging from the latest (working!) user interface ideas for the surgical operating room (Ritter) to DTI-based brain parcellation (Roerdink).  After some serious PowerPoint 2007 love the previous night (yay image shadows!) and more importantly mental rehearsal, my talk on our Visualisation for Molecular Imaging project (Peter Kok is the guy actually doing all the work) went quite well. I think. Well, people seemed to stay awake mostly.

The MeVisLab software is really great, especially when the very capable Dr. Felix Ritter demonstrates on a ginormous plasma screen how one goes about visually designing complex medvis applications in no time. I’m a fan of MeVisLab. In spite of that, DeVIDE does have a niche to fill (hint 1: extreme Python, hint 2: open source), all apart from the fact that one day it will be the preferred operating system of MedVis geeks the world over. :P

The Amazing Transforming Sentence will now take a break until the concluding paragraphs of this blog post!

On Thursday I spent the day at the TU to catch up with some Real Work, pleasantly surprised by the continued hard-coreness of my office. Meanwhile, the amazon.de swag I had ordered during the weekend (they have free delivery in NL!) had arrived at my house. My netbook (I love you netbook!) now has 2G of RAM, my Wii has Rayman Raving Rabbids (you get to see who can fling a cow the furthest, need I say more?) and my keychain has a tiny little 8GB USB memory thingy:

My Keychain with the new Super Talent Pico-C 8GB USB flash drive.

My Keychain with the new Super Talent Pico-C 8GB USB flash drive.

Friday was absolutely gorgeous weather-wise, so I took my guests to Scheveningen (the beach, that is). I’ll spare you the details of both the preceding visit to Immigration (turns out all foreign visitors that are NOT staying at hotels HAVE to pop by Immigration within 3 days of arrival, what a schlep) as well as the lovely lunch on the beach, all in order to get to the high-light of the day: A coincidental visit to the stunning outside sculpture exhibition of Tom Otterness, called “SprookjesBeelden aan zee”. The first photo of this post is of the “Haringeter”, probably the largest of the sculptures. The playfulness of the sculptures somehow amplifies the messages they contain and made quite an impact on me.

The week’s coincidental art theme was concluded with a Sunday visit to the Kröller-Müller museum in the Hoge Veluwe, home to a beautiful collection of statues by the likes of Rodin and Rietveld, and to a sizable collection of Van Gogh’s work, with some Picassos thrown in for good measure. Especially for you, I took this photo of Van Gogh’s “Landschap met korenschelven en opkomende maan”:

Van Gogh's "Landschap met korenschelven en opkomende maan", taken at Kröller-Müller museum.

Van Gogh's "Landschap met korenschelven en opkomende maan", taken at Kröller-Müller museum.

Walking through the museum, I did have to spare a thought for the fact that on this casual day, I had on my person at least 3 processors, 12G of flash and a 160G hard drive. I’m probably not completely average in this regard, but I’m not that far from it. The future is very bright. I have already said that I love the 21st century, haven’t I?  Next time you run into me, ask me about it and then watch me go off on a tangent at ludicrous speed!

I’d like to conclude this post with interesting (to me, perhaps to you) aspects of an extremely pleasant conversation that I had with an Anonymous MedVis Friend (AMVF, PhD). We were discussing matters like social networking, for example facebook and twitter, and blogging, what roles these things play in one’s life and how they’re in fact slowly changing the nature of modern human society by becoming an integral part of social interaction. At one point, I made the statement that social networking, micro-blogging and blogging were all new forms of self-expression (doh).  This in itself is not such a revelation, were it not for the fact that I realised at that moment that this is exactly the role these things play in my life, and quite prominently so.  In spite of only fully externalising the thought at that moment, I have always been acutely aware of it.  Every post I make, every apparently inane status update is in fact preceded by quite some thought as to How This Little Piece Fits Into The Big Picture, what it might mean to a potential reader (hi mom!) and whether someone might be entertained or find some form of value in it.

So kids, on that slightly personal note, I am now officially concluding this edition of the Weekly Head Voices.  It’s been yet another fabulous week, and I’m definitely looking forward to number 39.  Please feel free to self-express in the comments!