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Entries about places we visit, or ideas about travel
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05 July

While flying to Taipei I had a stopover in Hong Kong. I figured I wanted to scoot into town and check it out. The word on the web regarding the feasibility of this, and how long it takes, was inconclusive. Well on the way to Taipei I tried out a practice run to the city without actually leaving the airport area: through security, change money, find transportation, stash baggage, etc. Is gave me the confidence, and some key info, to actually make the run on the way home. Here are my findings and tips, for the Hong Kong newbie on a tight time budget.

First off, with 4 hours in Hong Kong airport, a quick dash into the city is possible and, if you have never been there before, quite interesting and worthwhile.

Hong Kong street scene

Hong Kong airport, at least when I have been there, is very efficient and you can get in and out fairly efficiently. In particular, getting into the airport worked very smoothly. (I have seen substantial lineups getting out.)

The train/subway from the airport to the city is the way to go, and much preferred over a taxi. This is because the train is fast, immune to traffic jams, and cost effective, and the distance from the airport to the city is surprisingly long. The train is very modern and puts most Canadian, American and European public transit to shame. It even features an animated graphic that shows you just where you are along the trajectory ever moment.

If possible, try to have local currency on hand since finding the exchange and waiting in line to get currency can blow a good 20 minutes.

Good places to visit on a very time time budget are Mong Kok or Hong Kong (downtown). I think Hong Kong proper is a bit better since it avoids train transfer, and thus saves a few moments and the risk of making a mistake of some kind.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
21 September

Quote of the day (Montreal graphs):

To compare the performance of exploration and validation, both algorithms were tested on a variety of random graphs. The first set of parameterized random graphs was generated by starting with a complete 2D lattice (i.e. a grid) and deleting a specified fraction of randomly selected edges such that the graph remains connected. This first family of graphs should be familiar to those who have been forced to drive a car in Montreal (where roads are often under repair in the summer), and are termed Montreal graphs with deletion factor p, or Montreal(p), p ∈ (0,1).

-- from a paper in 1997. I think maybe the term was first used in 1994.

These can also be described as geometric graphs generated by the Erdős-Rényi process,
constrained and to the 4-connected lattice and with a side condition to
maintain connectivity.

I put this first on my Google Plus stream, so I guess this counts as a cross-post.

A montreal graph

with a large number of deletions (large p).

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (1) or Leave a comment |    
14 June

Last week I was in Brussels, Belgium and London, England. Despite the omnipresent spectre of a European debt meltdown and financial calamity, everything looked pretty normal both in the halls of business and research, and out in the tourist-filled streets. Naturally, the financial situation was a recurring topic of conversation, and doubtless is making an impact on long-term planning, but at the same time everything seems to be proceeding quite normally on a day-to-day basis. This is a bit of a contrast from what some of my friends in the Canadian finance sector seems to be saying or doing, or what my friends in Greece are doing, but maybe it's due to the fact that as a casual visitor I don't really know what's going on at the more profound planning levels.

I don't like jet lag and it seems to bother me especially on trips to Europe. This time, I got a bout of food poisoning at the start of my trip in addition, so even now, a week later, I am still dipping into my energy reserves to function normally. Luckily, I was over my acure misery the next morning and was able to do the work I had come for. While I have only had food poisoning a few times, it has always amazed my how quickly we can switch from feeling great to being laid low.

After having visited both cities several times, I didn't try to squeeze in any stereotypical tourist venues, but did my work, visited a bit with old friends, hung out a bit with some esteemed colleagues, and just absorbed the general ambiance. Of course, in Belgium (after I recovered) ) did make sure I got to buy and eat a range of the exotic chocolates the city is known for.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
03 July

Last week was the International Symposium on Experimental Robotics in Quebec City, for which I was one of the organizers. I am happy to report that the conference went off very well. Now there is a painful process of making sure all the accounts balance, and maybe chasing down a few truant registrants, but all in all it was quite smooth.

There were a lot of cool talks ranging from haptics to language-based navigation, and no bloopers at all. What a joy.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
10 July

I was diving the Great Barrier Reef the last couple of days. What an impressive and other-worldly environment it is.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
02 October

I am at the "Breaking the Surface" meeting in Croatia. It's an interdisciplinary meeting that brings together several different communities interested in underwater technologies and specifically underwater robotics. This includes computer science people like me, engineers, archeologies, biologists, vendors, and government. It is a great chance to see who the solutions, and problems, that we have and offer intersect.

Today I spend time out on the water attempting to use a couple of different kinds of system and vehicle, including the VideoRay, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that is connected to the operator by a copper cable. As ROV's go, it is pretty economical with an entry price of just $6,000, but that's without vision, transponders or other goodies. A fully decked out unit can run as much as ten times as much or more, but that's just because fancy sensors cost big bucks, as well all know.

On Saturday I will present some of the work from out lab including the issues and characteristics of our robot and its locomotion mechanisms, the summarization work being done by my student

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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