Monthly Archives: August 2007

While waiting in Stuttgart in the lounge of the railway station I picked up a paper called “Auto-Bild” (the selection of magazines is really poor 😉 and I found an interesting news item in it.

KIA has done a survey (with over 2000 people) in the UK on decision making in the car. It appears that people use the time in the car to discuss major issues in their lives and that they make significant decisions during long journeys. I have not found the original survey from KIA but there are several pages that discuss the results, e.g. gizmag.… Continue reading

Herbert Burkert gave a presentation at IAIS on the very basics of public law. He is professor of public law, information and communication law at the research center for information law at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. He is currently on leave from Fraunhofer IAIS.

For developers and researchers in computer science that build real systems which can be deployed it is a great challenge to ensure compatibility with the law. In particular systems that are accessible over the world wide web in almost any country it appears really difficult to conform to all laws in the countries… Continue reading

Today Karl-Heinz Sylla and Reinhard Budde (both senior researcher at Fraunhofer IAIS) gave for the summer research project a tutorial on agile methods for software engineering. The experience they have from large scale real world projects is impressive! We looked at different approaches to software construction and discussed the pros and cons. Short iterations, user stories, pair programming and test driven development seem to fit very well to our work approach and project goals. A good starting point for more on the topic in particular with a teaching perspective are the following 2 papers: LeJeune, N. F. 2006. Teaching software… Continue reading

Today I finally got around visiting Jan Borchers (media computing group at RWTH Aachen). Tico Ballagas hat as part of his PhD defence a public talk and took the chance to go there.

There where new parts in the talk on the impact of the selection space resolution on Fitts’s law that I had not seen in his work before. It is published in 2006 as a technical report (Rafael Ballagas and Jan Borchers. Selexels: a Conceptual Framework for Pointing Devices with Low Expressiveness. Technical Report AIB-2006-16, RWTH Aachen, Dec 2006) which is worthwhile to have… Continue reading

In a German science news ticker I saw an article a inspiring post reporting an experiment on orientation in relation to food. It describes an experiment where men and women were asked to visit a set of market stalls to taste food and afterwards they are asked where the stall was.

The to me surprising result was that women performed better than men (which is to my knowledge not often the case in typical orientation experiments) and that independent of gender the amount of calories that are contained in the tasted food influenced the performance. Basically if there are… Continue reading

In the castle Birlinghoven on the Fraunhofer campus I had the privilege to meet Prof. Carl Adam Petri. He is a great mathematician and computer scientist who invented the Petri-Net. Today was a reception to celebrate that he received the “2007 Academic Gold Medal of Honor” from “the Academy of Transdisciplinary Learning and Advanced Studies”.

Prof. Petri was from 1963 to 1968 head of the computing centre at the University of Bonn and after this head of a GMD institute in Birlinghoven. (The GMD was merged with Fraunhofer in 2000/2001 and became part of Fraunhofer). To my knowledge he… Continue reading

Yesterday our summer project started at IAIS. The students are highly motivated and the combined skill set of the participants is impressive. We discussed a lot what we want to achieve over the next weeks.

Creating a new special purpose search service – basically from the rough idea to a working prototype – in 5 weeks seems a bit crazy but I am confident that we get there 😉 In certain areas we already have an idea how much pages we have to crawl and how much content we have to analyze.

It is interesting that it already now… Continue reading

This morning I corrected the proofs for the Pervasive and Mobile Compting journal for the paper I had together with Lucia Terrenghi at Percom (Methods and Guidelines for the Design and Development of Domestic Ubiquitous Computing Applications, Proceedings of the Fifth Annual IEEE Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom), New York, NY, USA, Mar. 2007).

This brought again a topic to my attention that we have focused on for some time in Munich but never really completed. Mirrors with enhanced functionality, that can display information, capture what you were wearing at a certain date, or give you… Continue reading

Skype is down for a few hours and is has an impact on users. It is interesting that for some people I do not have regular phone numbers anymore. This minor (at least to me) inconvenience and the massive reaction in the news shows however how much we start to rely on network centred infrastructure tools.

Thinking about myself: xing and linked have largly replaced my local contacts database and my calendar is online, too; the acm-digital library, springer link, computer.org and google-scholar make me through away papers after I have read them (at the beginning of my PhD-studies I… Continue reading

In the resent month the question about ubiquitous, pervasive, ambient computing came up several times. An email by Jos Van Esbroeck motivated me to write my view on it…

Clarifying the terms seems an ongoing process as various communities and individuals use each of those terms for new things they are doing.

For me the best way to discriminate the terms ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, and ambient intelligence is by their origin, history and research communities.

The first term (ubiquitous computing, ubicomp) is linked to Mark Weiser and his vision of computing in the 21st century [1]. In the research… Continue reading

Sven Behnke, who won with his humanoid robots the RoboCup, visited us today at Fraunhofer IAIS. In his talk he presented the RoboCup vision – wining in 2050 with humanoid robots against the human world champions and his work towards this goal. There are interesting videos of the robots at http://www.nimbro.net

When I saw Sven presenting the first time (in 2003 at the DFG final round for the “Aktionsplan Informatik”) I was convinced that humanoid robots are far in the future and that the robocup vision is more wishful thinking than vision. Seeing how much it advanced over the… Continue reading

Arriving in Zurich I was quite surprised by the masses of people in the train station. We picked the weekend of the Street Parade for our visit 😉 makes you really think about your own age…

In the railway station they had digital giveaways – you just had to switch your Bluetooth on.

We visited the school museum at Friedrichshafen. Looking around the exhibition it became very obvious that teaching material used to be much more tangible and physical as they are nowadays.

I think it is worthwhile investigating where the value of tangibility is!

I often wonder why one would like to include sensing into other objects. It seems however that there is a tradition and has its roots before the digital

The pencil case has a thermometer included. The function is that the pupil can figure out when they get the rest of the day off due to high temperature (Hitzefrei). Not convinced that is was a great seller…

We visited the archeology and Stone Age museum in Bad Buchenau http://www.federseemuseum.de/. For our visit we rented their audio guide system – they had one version for kids and one for adults. The audio guides were done very well and the information was well presented.

Nevertheless such devices break the joint experience of visiting a museum! We had three devices – and we stood next to each other listening but not talking to each other. Even though it may transport more information than the written signs it makes a poorer experience than reading and discussing. I wonder how one… Continue reading

My first day of the holidays I got myself into an interesting project – setting up a satellite dish that receives Astra 19.2 (German TV) and Astra 28.2 (major UK TV stations). Going back between my roof and living room I finally got it to work – thanks to many posts on the Internet. That brings me back to a question I ask myself more and more (not just for setting up TVs): how did people share technical and practical information before the Internet? It seems that the Internet really is a catalyst for implementation.

After having the hardware in… Continue reading