Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

Meeting Results
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On Saturday we elaborated an initial outline of topics and discussed them, then decided who would work on what sections. As a result, I will be primary author for camera placement and work flow and automating processes and developing virtual tours, and also offering some anecdotal advice on cameras and panorama rigs, and covering some minute aspects of creating the files. That last part's gonna require some research, but will be good to finally figure out - it's stuff I've wondered about but haven't taken the time to learn before, and no one there knew for sure either - namely tiling settings and some other other technical options available during QuickTime file output. We'll also all be reading and commenting on others' sections.

A fantastic meal wrapped up the meeting, but some of us decided to hang out on the commons area of town and have a few Guinesses (Guinei?) or ciders before calling it a night. Sometimes that's when the real work gets done. Got back to my hotel about 1:30 am and immediately ordered the same kind of backpack the twins use on site (made by Crumpler). It's a splendid piece of work, designed explicitly for people carrying around a laptop, digital camera(s) and lens(es) and all related accessories. Lots of padding for me and the gear. It will be nice to have a bag on the back next time instead of one awkwardly swinging all around and banging me on the hip and aggravating one shoulder, especially for this summer's trip. But get this: you cannot get into the backpack unless you take it off and lay it down (i.e., theft prevention), but also you lay it down on the part that does *not* go against your back, so you don't get that side all dirty! Amazing, ain't it? Every other backpack I've seen you lay down straps first, which of course results in the dirty side going against your back. Nice thinking on their part. Oh yeah, they have a rather interesting web site (with audio): check it out.

Time to do some writing, then, because they want our material by the end of June. I believe that means the final edited copy, rather than draft. Even if not, I'm aiming for that stage because of the summer trip. The impetus and funding behind this project comes from ARTstor, an academic on-line repository of illustrations to which institutions must subscribe if their instructors want to access the image collection for use in art, art history, and architecture courses. ARTstor itself comes out of the efforts and monies of the Melon Foundation. They're looking to start including QTVR panoramas within that database, so our job is to create this best practices guide telling interested parties how to take photos, make panoramas, add metadata, and create virtual tours that will be suitable for inclusion within ARTstor.

All in all, some good contacts were made and/or renewed. UVa appears to be a place that I'd definitely have to consider working, given its pleasant rural setting, modest climate, and nearby town exhibiting much the character of Ithaca. Both Charlottesville and Ithaca made the top five of the Top 10 Best Places to Live in the US as published by Time or some-such recently. The town includes a Commons-like area, which sports a game/comic/model store with a sweet selection of our favorite kinds of strategy board games (yes, I bought a souvenier there). The worst drawback, based on multiple comments from different people at various meals, will be the, uh, local redneck population surrounding the intellectual haven that is the university. And maybe a month or two of hot, humid weather with bugs. I was again solicited to join UVa permanently in general, and in particular to apply for the job of the media lab director who's leaving soon. It's tempting.

PS. Playing World of Warcraft in the hotel room and airport waiting areas on a laptop via wireless Internet access totally *rawks*!

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