Partytime With A Burned End

A great thing about living in Adelaide: There are parties almost everytime. At least on weekends. If one would like to get out on weekends, there’s not doubt that somewhere in your area something’s going on. In Adelaide City, Saturday’s the right day to stay awake till early in the morning. You can find a lot of pubs and clubs. But keep in mind to always carry your ID, in my case that’s the passport. Otherwise you could run into trouble trying to get in certain clubs. On my first Saturday night in town, of course I didn’t think of my ID and went to the city, which is a 30 minutes drive with the bus. Btw, public transport drivers in Australia are generally very helpful, as most of Australians are. If you ask for how to get somewhere, they always do as much as they can to guide you. And on that Saturday, I didn’t even had to pay for my bus ride, which is normally about 2 $ for one direction (the main reason was, that I wanted to pay with a 20 $ note and the driver had no change).

So I got on that bus, happy to ride for free, and after half an hour I arrived at a club called ‘Duke of York’. At half past eight, hardly any people were there, so I just made my way to the entrance, where a blonde girl waited for me. “May I see your ID please?” she asked me. “No, you can’t” I thought, I haven’t had it with me. “aahhm… well… here’s my International Student ID. How’s about that?” I asked, trying to look nice and handsome. But the blonde girl was very strict and answered: “I’m sorry, you can’t get in. I’m the manager. You can’t get in without an ID.” Damn it. I knew that it’s usual to carry your ID when going out in Australia, I did it in Sydney before. So I was kind of pissed off. After a few minutes, Gavin which whom I was supposed to meet, arrived and I told him my story, which pissed him off too. Moreover, he started complaining about my sport shoes. (Yes, maybe they look kind of crappy. But so many people weared sport shoes in Sydney, so I thought, well, why not me on a Saturday night?).

As there’s only one bus route I actually know to get from and to the city, I had to wait about 20 minutes for my bus home. Of course I wanted to go out that night, even if I wasted two hours to go home again to get my passport. That was my opinion when I waited for the bus. In fact, back at home, somehow I felt tired and my motivation for going out was gone. So I sent Gavin a message to chancel the meeting, he had some other friends to meet anyway. I felt hungry, put up a nice pot of rice and switched my notebook on. A few minutes later, my mobile indicated a message arrival, in which Gavin stated that they were betting either if I came back to the city or not. Two beers for me were the odds if I came. And I thought: ‘Well, he’s right, it’s my first night out in Adelaide, the club looked nice, I should really go out. And there are those beers!’ So I grabed my stuff, put on stylish leather shoes and a jacket and hurried up to catch the bus.

Beside the fact that I didn’t have to pay for the second bus ride to the city again (AdelaideMetro ftw!), after the first station I recognized it: No passport again! Damn! I was on the last bus to the city, so getting out, walking back, picking up the ID and catching another bus was no option at all. So I did the only possible thing that made sense: Trying to get in another time without passport. But instead with new shoes and jacket.

And guess what: It was as easy as it is for 14 year old teenagers in Austria to get into ‘Nachtschicht’ on weekends. I showed her (that time, it was another girl) my International Student ID again, and everybody was fine. The dance floor inside burned already, music was great and Gavin was really surprised to see me. After the first beers (the local Coopers is really worth a try!) and a nice chat with his friends we all made it to move our bodies to the hottest rythms on earth. We had a great time and enjoyed ourselfs til early in the morning.

At about 4 we (Charlotte, Rose, Gavin, me) decided to leave ‘Duke of Yorks’ to get out for some fresh air. Gavin hunted the whole night for Rose, but Rose played some games girls sometimes like to play. Those kind of games, where several guys are involved at the same time. Those games, were it seems like there’re loosers and winners (stupid, I don’t like those games). And it seemed like he lost (to him, IMHO the other homeboy didn’t had a chance at all!). Anyway, Charlotte (I think that was her name) was still after Gavin. So why not give it a try? They did, and we finally all crashed Rose’s place. She provided us with yummy pasta, and after another two hours we felt kind of tired and went to bed.

Unfortunately, Gavin had to get up at 8 again. Because I had no idea were I was (we went with the cab in the morning) I joined him. His brother picked him up, and after a short visit at his house I was dropped off at a bus station, where I expected a certain bus. Which didn’t show up. After one and a half hour I decided to try another bus, which first took me back to the city where I could take my default bus route home.

Four hours after getting up, I finally got off at my home station 33 (right next to McDonalds) and suddenly (surprisingly) felt very hungry. At that moment, I was thunderstruck! You know that feeling, when you forgot something very important, like an exam the next day and you didn’t learn anything yet? Increasing heartbeat rate and Adrenalin rush! When I was at home the night before, I actually didn’t intentioned to go back to the city. And I felt hungry. And I put a pot with rice on the gas stoven. And I didn’t turn the gas stove off when I left the house! So what could have happened? Either the whole house already burned down and there’s nothing more to rescue or some of my housemates smelled the burned rice and turned the cooker off. In both cases, it wouldn’t have had made anything better if I stressed myself and therefore went to McDonalds for two double-cheeseburger and a coffee.

Back at home, the house was still there. No smoke coming out of the door or windows. Inside it smelled a little bit. And the pot was… well, I bought a new one. Happy that nothing serious happend, I decided to stay at home and chilled with some old-school computer games after a nice Skype session with a great girl.

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Around the World

My course of study KWM (Communication and Knowledge Media) could also be called International Communication and Knowledge Media. Currently, a third of students are on their internships, somewhere abroad. UK, Sweden, Germany, Australia, USA. It’s really impressive.

But when it comes to the local time in a particular city, things get messed up quickly. Want to have a nice chat with someone 15,000 km away? Just check the Foxclocks in your Firefox toolbar and you’re ready to go. Configure Foxclocks to show the current local time from as many cities around the world as you’d like to see (btw, I couldn’t figure out a city in Wisconsin, so I took Chicago, seems to have the same local time as Milwaukee).

Debian and Future Tasks

Work diary, second week:

The Debian server is almost ready to go. Managed to get Apache2 with phpWiki running this week. Reminder: Always delete every other Apache installation. And: Watch out for existing log dirs when setting up a VirtualHost (entries have to be the same as in filesystem).

Set up Webmin, a great webinterface for Linux systems. You can manage almost everything: Apache server, MySQL server, processes, etc… from remote. Disabled automatic boot startup and changed port for Webmin. SSH works great.

Main application is running, although it seems to have still some problems with particular sites.

Future tasks: Discussed goals with Helen. As soon as the server setup is finalized and the application runs smoothly, the system is going to move (still open: try .sh scripts, port from Mac to Debian; access from only within the Lab network?). Subsequently, based on the image retrieval project I outlined in another post, I’m going to rebuild the experiment and do research in a new direction.

Linux and Living in a community

Firstly, thanks to everybody who messaged or called me on my new mobile. Actually, I missed most calls and can’t write back. I still don’t have any credit.

The last two working days of last week I spent with some papers and an old workstation, trying to get Debian (Linux) installed and prepared for server use. That worked out pretty well, although the Internet connection had to be established manually today. After a modification of the .bashrc with two additional lines for the HTTP and FTP proxy, almost everything was done. Tomorrow I’m going to get the Sun Java Runtime Environment installed and the firewall configured. This particular machine is ment to be the system for a Java application, which is going to gather information about particular Internet services over the next six months. Afterwards the gathered information is going to be analyzed. Next tasks maybe to write a user documentation, get the application installed and ready to run and take care that it keeps running.

For the last weekend I didn’t have any plans so I stayed in my bed almost the whole Saturday sleeping, watching films, setting up a fresh Windows XP and regenerating. I didn’t feel healthy anyway. But staying at home really paid off. On Sunday I felt so much better. And today my cold is almost gone!

Some words about “living in a community”: I remember those days, back at home when there were people (particularly parents) cleaning up for me when I messed up something or “forgot” to put my dishes into the dishwasher. For me, those sweet days are gone for more than a year and I’m fine. But it seems like some of my housemates still need someone, who cleans up after them. There were some serious kitchen cleaning issues the days before my arrival, they got almost physical. Therefore, a house meeting has been issued for last Sunday, were everybody agreed to a key point: Immediate clean up after kitchen use, including fat splatter and similar. In fact, the days right after the meeting, some just ignored what everybody agreed on. As a result, the former kitty manager wrote a very emotional mail to the landlord, mentioning names and informing him about the situation. That lead to some emotional reactions by the mentioned guy, who was supposed to be the “bad guy”… Anyway, with the beginning of September, I’m the new kitty manager, and therefore responsible for our cash, buying general stuff like toilett paper, reminding others to take care of a clean environment and keep the landlord informed if necessary. I’ll try to avoid that, and personally talk to everybody before doing anything else. And today, the kitchen was perfectly cleaned, anyway.

Finally, some pictures from inside the house.

chair, bed, commode

My room: chair, bed, commode

cabinet, chair, desk

My room: cabinet, chair, desk

big window

My room: big window

Favorite bathroom

Favorite bathroom

Kitchen

Kitchen

Dining table, living area in the background

Dining table, living area in the background

Community area outside, car ports across

Community area outside, car ports across

Washing room, big dustbins outside

Washing room, big dustbins outside

Projects

So what’s going on at the Security Laboratory I’m working for? A major project is summarized below, another one is currently too sensitive for publication.

Search engines: The problem of lexical ambiguity

This summary is based on [1].

Problems may occur, when search queries consist of words, which have more than one meaning. For example, Gavin the gardener tries to find pictures or information about apples (fruit) using the search term ‘apple’. Google will deliver two result pages exclusively with information about the company Apple (computers). Gavin never heard of a company called Apple before. That was not he was looking for. When looking for pictures, it gets a bit better, although there’re still more than half of the pictures related to the company.

To understand those results, one should understand the PageRank algorithm. Google works with the opinion of the mass. Someone puts a link to a certain website S on his own website. Now, the more people put a link to S on their own website, the higher Google rates the relevance and importance of S in a certain search context.

So obviously, a lot of people are linking to Apples (company) or related sites. (In fact, the ranking might also depend on some marketing aspects. Are companies paying for higher rankings?). One couldn’t say the delivered search results are wrong. They just don’t match with what Gavin had in mind when he searched ‘apple’. Moreover, Gavin never heard of the company Apple before, gives up crawling through the result pages after the third one.

How to deal with that problem? As we figured out, to humans ‘apple’ has at least two meanings. Therefore, some sort of classification should be applied. And why don’t we use the opinion of the mass again? A ‘Co-active intelligence’ system, as PageRank is, tries to address this issue. They rely on user-generated information. So why don’t we collect user-information concerning different meanings of certain search terms? Assuming every search session addresses only a certain meaning of a word or combination of words, based upon the collected user interaction information we can build up a collection of classes that are logically connected to specific search terms.

For example, Gavin searches for ‘apple’ with the fruit in mind. The search engine delivers certain result pages. Gavin chooses several pages, pictures, … The search engine now internally connects the search query with the selected pages, assuming that Gavin knows, which pages, images, … fit best for the query. The more people participate, the more accurate results will get. Users then can choose, which meaning actually fits best in that specific search context.

Co-active intelligence systems are able to reveal associations that may not have been discovered yet, known as ‘emergent semantics’. For example, ‘big apple’ could also be associated with New York. In general, emergent semantics can also be used in another context like scientific cooperation or service discovery [2].

[1] Truran, M., Goulding, J., and Ashman, H. 2005. Co-active intelligence for image retrieval. In Proceedings of the 13th Annual ACM international Conference on Multimedia (Hilton, Singapore, November 06 – 11, 2005). MULTIMEDIA ’05. ACM, New York, NY, 547-550. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1101149.1101273

[2] K. Aberer, P. Cudre-Mauroux, A. M. Ouksel, T. Catarci, M.-S. Hacid, A. Il-
larramendi, V. Kashyap, M. Mecella, E. Mena, E. J. Neuhold, O. D. Troyer,
T. Risse, M. Scannapieco, F. Saltor, L. de Santis, S. Spaccapietra, S. Staab, and
R. Studer. 2004. Emergent Semantics Principles and Issues. In Procceedings of the 9th International Conference on Database Systems for Advanced Applications (DASFAA 2004).

First days at UniSA

Monday: 10:30 am. First meeting with Helen who’s my supervisor and responsible for the Security Laboratory at the University of South Australia (UniSA). Got some formal stuff done. Afterwards, Helen introduced me to some other students, working with me in the same lab. Then, a basic introduction to current projects followed. Rest of the day I spent with reading papers to get into the projects and surrounding topics. Also got my Health and Safety instructions. UniSA is very serious about that. Lunch at Subway, the sandwich bar. Left office at about 08:00 pm. Bought some stuff at Woolworths (open til 09:00 pm). Meat with mushrooms, tomatos, rice and salad for dinner.

Tuesday: 10:00 am. At the staff room. Instant coffee. Made with filtered water. Not as bad as it sounds. Rest of the day: paper reading. Trying to summarize a bit what I read. Lunch at Subway. Left office at about 06:30 pm. Pasta with fresh olives for dinner. 09:00 pm: Griffins pub in Adelaide city, going out with Gavin (one of Helens PhD students) and some exchange students. It’s 3 $ day! Spoke a bit German with John, an Austrian. There’re night buses on Saturdays only. Therefore: last bus at 11:00 pm.

Today: 10:00 am. Woke up feeling a bit ill. Aspirin. Sidenote: I should reintroduce to have breakfast. At the lab: Read papers again and did my online Health and Safety course, which took me about an hour. And still more to come. UniSA’s really serious about that. I even got instructions what to do, if someone planning a bomb attack calls me. Lunch at Darshana’s Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant. Good and cheaper than Subway. And the waitress is a beauty. In the evening, Jan-Felix, a third year undergraduate genius helping out in the lab, introduced me to a new project. We’re going to get together next Tuesday for details. Got home at 08:30 pm. Pasta with salad for dinner.

Time’s running. The first week is almost over. Two days left. Looking forward to the weekend. At the house nothing’s going on. Housemates are all really quiet. Jamies’s girlfriend is going to visit him on weekend. I’m going to be the kitty manager for September, responsible for trashbins, cleaning stuff,…

Got mobile!

Although it’s Sunday, most stores are open. So I went to Kmart for the first time in my life and purchased a pre-paid SIM for 4 $, my number is

+61 40 181 76 55

Send me a message! At least, you don’t have to pay for incoming calls, as you have to in Canada. Beside that, the first minute costs about 1 $, then 80 c/min (about 0,6 €/0,5 €). Every time I reload with 30 $, I get 120 $ for standard calls (reloading with 100 $ would get me extra 900 $). I can use that credit to call in any network here. But: credit expires after 30 days.

Also bought: a sleeping bag (to keep me warm @ night), 32 rolls of toilet paper, three pair of socks, a towel, post its, college block and house shoes for 60 $ (36 €). Wanted to check my credit card balance afterwards, but when I try to get my SecureCode (which is necessary to check balance online), Paylife always tells me, there’s a temporary problem (which lasts for hours now).

Had that house meeting today (instead of next Friday). Landlord communicated some things regarding kitchen cleaning: everything should be cleaned up right after use, “use-it-clean-it”, etc. We’re all fine with that.

Tomorrow’s my first day at University. Gonna meet with my supervisor Helen @ 10:30 @ “her” building, D3-13. She’ll show me around and stuff. This is the campus map. It’s compareable to the Hagenberg Campus. They also got a lake (like Hagenberg does under the Ellipse). But everything is way bigger. Took me 20 minutes to run around that lake today. Next to the lake there’re living houses everywhere. And across the street opposite to the lake there’s the campus.

Looking forward to meet up with Helen tomorrow and get some idea of my upcoming projects.

Catch ya later.