Mathias Frisch Defence (VIVA) in Magdeburg

This week I had the honor to attend the defence of Mathias Frisch, student of Raimund Dachselt at the Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg (now moving to the new lab in Dresden). I was very happy to review such excellent work, (in a committee that includes Prof. Reiterer, from Konstanz) but also to take part in the traditions of doctoral graduation. I think that it is very valuable that a doctoral graduation is approached as a festivity, and loaded with symbols of what it means to be a scholar. These include the new doctor having to wear a very heavy chain (that represents the loads awaiting in his future career),

wearing a hat representing the knowledge of the candidate (physically and literally),

being taken on a pageant through the city, escorted by a troupe of people in medieval outfits (I guess to let the town folk know that there is a new doctor around),

having to drink an “unusual” concoction (in this case tomato juice + coffee + salt and pepper),

as well as later on having to go through the “real exam”, in which the supervisor has to show knowledge and commitment for the candidate in multiple odd ways.

In any case, it was a wonderful day for me, full of good HCI, fun and food. Congratulations Mathias!!

New Alberta Contemporaries Exhibition Showcases work by Lindsay MacDonald (+ J. Brosz + S. Carpendale + me)

The New Alberta Contemporaries 06.15 to 08.29.2012

The new Alberta Contemporaries is the inaugural exhibition of the Esker Foundation, in Calgary. The Esker foundation is the largest privately funded, non-commercial art gallery in Calgary, and Lindsay MacDonald -who I had the pleasure of working with- got invited to exhibit our collaborative piece (with John Brosz) which features an elevator that knows where you are looking at. This means that besides the prize that she already got, she also got to give an artist talk at an amazing venue.

I was not able to attend the inauguration party, but I am incredibly happy to see Lindsay get a little bit of the attention that she deserves. I am really happy to have been able to collaborate with such talented people.

If you happen to be in Calgary, you might want to check the exhibition; it’s there until August 29th and it is free and open to the public.

Launch of the Centre for Geoinformatics at the University of St Andrews, 27 June 2012

Our great colleagues at the Centre for Geoinformatics at the University of St Andrews are launching their research institute in style, with a day-workshop with a distinctively multi-disciplinary flavour. It is a free one-day event with international speakers.  See all the details here, and let them know that you want to come here before June 8th.


Workshop on Infrastructure and Design Challenges of Coupled Display Visual Interfaces PPD’12

Please, come to Capri to discuss MDEs with us!

Workshop on Infrastructure and Design Challenges of Coupled Display Visual Interfaces PPD’12
In conjunction with AVI’12, Capri, Italy, May 25, 2012
Following on from the very successful PPD’08 and PPD’10 workshops at previous AVI conferences.

Keywords: Multi-display environments, MDE infrastructure, Coupled Displays, Interaction Techniques

Submission deadline: March 30th
Acceptance notification: April 5th

The objective of PPD’12 is to bring together researchers active in the areas of multi-display user interfaces to share approaches and experiences, identify research and deployment challenges, and envision the next generation of applications that rely on visual interfaces that can spread across multiple displays. Among the possible outcomes of the workshop are a book and a grant application.

TOPICS (including but not restricted to):
-Understanding the design space and identifying factors that influence user interactions in this space
-Developing evaluation strategies to cope with the complex nature of multi-display environments
-Understanding the implications that display is shaped by human activity into an ecological arrangement and thus an ecology
-Ethnography and user studies of visual interfaces relying on coupled displays
-Examples of applications of coupled display interfaces in real-world applications
-Social factors that influence the design of suitable interaction techniques for shared and private displays
-Exploring interaction techniques that facilitate multi-display interfaces
-Novel input mechanisms for both private and public multi-touch devices as part of multi-display environments
-Techniques for supporting input re-direction and distributing information between displays
-SDK/APIs, IDEs, and hardware platforms for the development of coupled display visual interfaces

An increasing number of interactive displays of very different sizes, portability, projectability and form factors are starting to become part of the display ecosystems that we make use of in our daily lives. Displays are shaped by human activity into an ecological arrangement and thus an ecology. Each combination or ecology of displays offer substantial promise for the creation of applications that effectively take advantage of the wide range of input, affordances, and output capability of these multi-display, multi-device and multi-user environments. Although the last few years have seen an increasing amount of research in this area, knowledge about this subject remains under explored, fragmented, and cuts across a set of related but heterogeneous issues. We invite researchers and practitioners interested in the challenges posed by infrastructure and design.

The workshop will be for a full day and structured to provide maximum time for group discussion and brainstorming. Each participant will be expected to be familiar with all position papers (which will be available to them well in advance of the event). The workshop will structured around four sessions (separated by the morning break, lunch and afternoon break). In the first session the participants will briefly introduce themselves and engage in a brainstorm to outline key discussion topics for the two midday sessions. In the second and third session the group will be divided into sub-groups moderated by the workshop organisers to have focused discussions on some of the key topics identified earlier. In the fourth session the group will reconvene to summarise the advances identified in the breakout discussions.

Alan Dix, University of Birmingham/TALIS
Miguel Nacenta, University of St Andrews
Aaron Quigley, University of St Andrews
Tom Rodden, University of Nottingham

The position papers should be prepared according to the ACM SIGCHI Format (2 column, 10 point font size) and should not be longer than four pages. The submissions can present summarizing, on-going or speculative work.

Send submissions before the end of March 30th.
Submissions will be peer reviewed by a international program committee of multi-display and surface computing experts. Submissions do not have to be anonymous.


Dzmitry Aliakseyeu – Philips Research Europe
Simone DJ Barbosa – Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
Shlomo Berkovsky – NICTA
Alan Dix – University of Birmingham/TALIS
Adrian Friday – University of Lancaster
Rodger Lea – University of British Columbia
Alessio Malizia – Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Miguel Nacenta – University of St Andrews
Kenton O’Hara – Microsoft Research
Aaron Quigley – University of St Andrews
Stuart Reeves – University of Nottingham
Tom Rodden – University of Nottingham
Michael Rohs – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Lucia Terrenghi – Google
Frederic Vernier – Université Paris-Sud
Jim Wallace – University of Waterloo

An exemplary move

In April this year (2011) Kate and I moved our residence from Calgary, Canada, to Cellardyke, Scotland. Our budget for the move was limited, and, although we decided not to move any big pieces of furniture, we have quite a big collection of books. Moving is something that we dreaded since we knew we had to do it in January. So… how do you go about it?

Well, we started by looking on-line for moving companies. This is one of those sectors on the internet where most of what you find is aggregated sites that ask you to fill forms, and supposedly, they will send your way a number of quotes. Generally useless because most of the time you get nothing back, but sometimes even dangerous, because we got at least one quote (from Euro Transport International) that we later found by doing a quick search on-line was basically a scam (check this out for scary stories on how a move can become a nightmare).

Finally, we thought that it would be a lot safer to go local, and it paid off. Before anyone says anything, this post is just the result of grateful clients to a wonderfully executed service, and we have absolutely no conflict of interest here. The service from Highland Movers which operate as STARLINE OVERSEAS MOVING for international relocations was wonderful, friendly, courteous, timely, and dead-on on the estimation. We chose to do groupage to make it cheaper, but it still took shorter than expected. Every box arrived in perfect state, dry, and the movers back here were also friendly and very quick. In other words, if you are in western Canada, and need to move abroad, you should call these guys. Thanks Robin!!

So you have an idea, we moved about 195 cubic feet (equivalent to approx 80 banker’s boxes), and before insurance, the total price came below 4000 $CAN. It took about two months to arrive, and it could have been less if the local movers had trusted Kate that “a 40 foot truck will not fit through our narrow street”. After the initial payment there came no extra charges, not even from customs (at least so far).

Anyways, I thought I would put this out in the interwebs: if you are moving, please, check your mover with the BBB, do not trust anyone that does not want to do a visual inspection of your stuff, and choose local if you can. Also, if they are not very responsive on e-mail through the whole process, that’s probably a bad sign (I count at least 20 e-mails sent by our moving manager in the last few months).