Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Paris hotel bleg

Friday, May 8th, 2009

I’ll be in Paris later this month and am looking for the following type of hotel. I’d like it to be in/near the 16th or 5th, 6th or 7th. (Yes, I know, those are rather different neighborhoods. I once lived in the 16th and am somewhat nostalgic even though it wouldn’t be most people’s first touristy choice.) I’m not looking for anything either super fancy or run-down, it doesn’t have to be charming or cute, not that those latter qualities would be a problem.:) I don’t care about the size of the rooms, but I do care about cleanliness. It doesn’t have to be the cheapest place, but it shouldn’t be too expensive either (up to, say, about $200/night). I realize a lot of these parameters are relative, if you could say why you’re recommending a place, that would be great. Ideally, it would be a few blocks from a metro station. Free wifi would be splendid or a cafe nearby that has it would be great as well. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Islamic art

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Art museum ceilingI spent a few days in Qatar earlier this week and got to go to the recently-opened Museum of Islamic Art. The building itself is stunning (to the right here is the ceiling) and the art inside was wonderful.

In college, one of my favorite courses was Smith’s famous “Art 100” (since discontinued, * sniff *), a year-long course that covered art through the ages and across cultures. The time we spent on Islamic art was one of the highlights for me so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see this wonderful museum in Doha.

Here’s a sampling of my collection of photos taken in and around the museum, click the various thumbnails for larger versions or see the Flickr set for more.

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Old book in Arabic Art in the museum Patterns Ceramics
Monkey Museum fountain Turquoise Paintings of people, rare occurrence Art museum visitors
Rotational symmetry Rotational symmetry Arches Mask Museum of Islamic Art at night

The real world

Friday, December 19th, 2008

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go to DC and meet with some people on the Presidential Transition Team. I got to talk about my research on Internet uses and skills with people who seemed genuinely interested in what we know about this topic and how it might apply to future initiatives. It was an exciting experience.

It is great to see an administration again that cares about information technologies (see related comments in Obama’s weekly address from two weeks ago). However, it’s important to realize that achieving a knowledgeable Internet citizenry is not simply a technological problem and thus cannot be resolved by a solely technical solution. There is plenty of research now that shows how mere access to the Internet does not level the playing field when it comes to achieving universal Internet literacy. Rather, coupling technical access with education about uses is an important part of the puzzle. Of course, even if one accepts all this, solutions are far from obvious. I got lots of really good questions from the people in the room and was thrilled by the conversation.

Afterward, walking down the hall, I saw on the doors the names of lots of people who have been in the news recently. It’s wonderful and encouraging to see the number of smart and knowledgeable people on this team.

Budapest and Zürich meetups?

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Castle CollageAre there any readers of E-Blog in either Budapest or Zürich who would be interested in meeting up in person? I’m on the road and it’s one of the rare occasions when I’m not simply in-and-out of a town. Budapest options are this weekend or Monday. Zürich options concern next week. Drop me a note if you’re interested and we can figure out specifics. (Email info on my Web site or send a note to my last name @gmail.com.) For those interested in Budapest, you can see some of my photos of the castle district here.

Public Spheres, Blogospheres

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Public Spheres Blogospheres Flyer I’m on my way to UC Irvine to participate with some very cool folks in a meeting called Public Spheres, Blogospheres hosted by UCI’s HumaniTech. I’m on a panel about Blogging and the Academy.

I suspect the question of whether or how junior faculty should blog will come up. While it’s a topic I’ve pondered here numerous times and it may make some people yawn at this point, I believe it’s still worthy of discussion with some points that haven’t been considered sufficiently yet. More on that when I get around to organizing my thoughts about it (this conference would be a good opportunity for that, hah). Academics from different fields will be represented at this meeting, which may lead to different takes on the topic. I look forward to the conversations.

Map of things to do in Budapest

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

A lot of people I know are heading to Budapest these days (whether for pure touristy reasons or for one of the many meetings being held there) so using the My Maps feature on Google Maps, I’ve compiled some annotated recommendations for visitors. These include pastry shops mostly visited by locals with desserts to die for. No, seriously, these are a must and visiting the city without going to some of these would be sad and wasteful.

I also include a pointer to a grocery store with the goal of finding the Hungarian snack Túró Rudi (details: check the dairy section for items that look like a candy bar in a red-dotted wrapper). I would say it’s the most missed item by Hungarians abroad. It’s basically lemony sweet farmer’s cheese coated in dark chocolate. Yum! Wikipedia conveniently has more info, not that words can possibly convey the experience. Some companies new to the country in the ’90s have tried to create other versions (e.g., with fruit filling or milk chocolate coating), but I would rather not even acknowledge those as they’re ridiculous imitations. On the topic of grocery stores, someone recently complained that they couldn’t find any fruits and veggies in them. That’s because other than the gigantic supermarkets, these tend to be sold in separate venues.

I didn’t bother listing most of the traditional sights included in guide books, numerous Web sites and guides will point those out. I do highlight, however, an incredibly touching Holocaust memorial on the Danube (first link on my map). It’s relatively new and not something one would stumble upon by chance, yet definitely worth visiting and now you know where to find it.

Mini interview on Canadian radio

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Usually, when I get invitations for talks or interviews with the press, the focus is my research. Last week, however, in an interesting twist, I got an email from the host of a Canadian radio show asking me to chat with her about my experiences with taking pictures of cheese labels.:) I was amused and was happy to talk. The interview is available here.
I’m glad Spark contacted me, because I didn’t know about the show, but am now happy to have it in my RSS feed reader. Spark taught me about speedcabling, something I’ll have to try in my lab one of these days.

As a mini-update for those not following me on Twitter (most of you, I presume), right now I’m on my way to the University of Minnesota to speak in the seminar series of their Institute for Advanced Study about my research. It’s a campus-wide talk with people expected in the audience from all sorts of departments, which should be fun. It’ll also be nice to catch up with some prominent sociology bloggers.

Photos from Budapest trip

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I didn’t get a chance to blog about my trip to Budapest a month ago. I had a really great time and took lots of photos so if curious then click through to my Flickr set on it for some beautiful architecture and some great food. The links below are just a small sampling and not necessarily of the best shots since it would’ve been too much work to customize the mosaic in that way.

Budapest mosaic

1. Santas on motorcycles, 2. Santas on motorcycles, 3. Get Off Signal sign, 4. Opera, 5. Street lights, 6. Mini telephone booth, 7. Basilica, 8. Old building, 9. O utca, 10. Train station by Eiffel, 11. Train station by Eiffel, 12. Heroes’ square, 13. Art Museum, 14. Heroes’ square, 15. Museum, 16. Men’s restroom sign, 17. Women’s restroom sign, 18. Fried mushrooms, 19. Hortobagyi palacsinta, 20. Chicken (with roasted garlic), 21. Gundel palacsinta, 22. Museum, 23. Women’s restroom sign, 24. Men’s restroom sign

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys.

WWMS?

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

I was in Trier, Germany last week, famous for.. among other things, being the birth place of Marx.

I found the store in the Karl Marx Museum filled with Marx merchandise amusing:

MarxStore

The “opium of the people” quote was only available on a magnet in German, not in English (other quotes were available in English), I’m assuming a conscious choice based on potential interest.

I couldn’t resist getting a copy of the poster that has the entire Communist Manifesto written on it with an image of Marx and Engels coming through from the text thanks to manipulation of the formatting.

I also got a postcard with a cartoon of Marx and the following quote: “Tut mir leid Jungs! War halt nur so ‘ne Idee for mir…”, which Babelfish completely butchers in its translation so I’ll try, but feel free to correct me: “Sorry kids! ‘Twas just an idea I had.”

Boarding a plane to Budapest later in the day added a twist to all this for me. While I can see friends and colleagues in the U.S. understanding why I would’ve picked up those items, I don’t think too many people in the town where I grew up would get why I’d want anything with Marx on my walls.

Video of talk at the Berkman Center

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

As I mentioned earlier, I gave a talk at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society the other day. The folks at Berkman have kindly posted a video of the talk and discussion. Some interesting issues came up in the Q&A leading to an engaging conversation so I recommend that part in particular. (The talk itself was relatively short, less than 25 minutes, followed by over half an hour of discussion.)

Upcoming travel

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I’ll be on the road in the next few weeks, let me know if our paths might cross:

* Vancouver, BC – Association of Internet Researchers annual meeting
* Milwaukee, WI – Research Symposium on Mobility and Social Networks in Information Behavior (sponsored by SIG USE of ASIST)
* Ann Arbor, MI – Talk in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Michigan
* Cambridge, MA – Talk at the Berkman Center, Harvard Law School

Once all that is over, things might even pick up around here.

Does this work?

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Here’s another find from my time in Switzerland, this time the Zürich Airport.

IMG_0998

Approximate translation: “Pirating and counterfeiting is a bad sport: no rules, many fouls, only losers.”

This may actually sound better in English. Does “loser” have that extra connotation in German as it does in English? I didn’t think it did.

In any case, is an airport such a helpful place to put this, especially right near the business lounge in a relatively secluded area? Is any place a helpful place to put this? (I know there is a huge literature on the effectiveness of ad campaigns in various areas. I don’t know if there is any in this particular one.)

I saw this ad somewhere else, too, but I forget where. Have you seen ads of this sort elsewhere?

Details, details

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Recently in Geneva, I was filling out this visitor card in a hotel. Notice anything peculiar?

Hotel registration card

Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping track of friends’ whereabouts

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Not long ago I was going to post about the challenge of keeping relevant people posted of one’s travels. That is, the challenge of knowing who among one’s friends may be in the same location at the same time. It’s one thing to remember who lives at a particular destination, it’s another to try to guess who may be travelling there at the same time you are.

Fortunately, just as I was about to post on this, I came across Dopplr, which is a site that addresses this precise issue. Once you sign up, you can let the system know about upcoming trips. You also link up with other people to share your itineraries and the system tells you when you’ll overlap. It’s in closed beta, but if you can think of a friend who has an account, you can ask him/her for an invitation.

Obviously, the value of such a service increases by the number of relevant contacts that join and keep their accounts up-to-date. I wonder if they will be adding the option of distinguishing among contacts. You may want certain people to know about a trip, but not others. And of course, if you prefer that people not know about a certain trip at all, you can exclude it from your list altogether.

I’m excited about this service, but the usual challenge remains: getting enough of my non-geeky friends to join and update their travel info.

Charles in space

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

with Charles Simonyi Few people with an interest in space travel have the resources to make that dream a reality. In a few minutes, Charles Simonyi will be one of those people. He’s among the few space tourists who’ve paid the $20-$25 million for the experience. He has been chronicling his adventures at charlesinspace.com, an interesting and informative Web site where users can get answers about the various aspects of his preparation and travel. (You can watch the launch live here or click on the link above to choose your preferred player.)

I had the opportunity to meet Charles Simonyi last October when I was in the Seattle area giving a talk at Microsoft Research. I consider my experience a classic case of cultural capital at work. Both of us having grown up in Budapest – and it turns out just a few blocks from each other, although a few decades apart – likely was not enough of a reason for him to bother responding to my email. Rather, I suspect it was our shared interest in the Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely that prompted him to invite me for a tour of his house. It was super fun, Charles Simonyi has some wonderful works by Vasarely and others, and I very much enjoyed the opportunity to see his collection.

We also took a brief tour of his library in which he has some interesting original documents related to space travel. His passion for the topic is obvious and contagious. I look forward to the updates on his site about this amazing adventure.

In the above picture, I stand next to Charles Simonyi (he’s holding my father’s book The Martians of Science) with a Vasarely sculpture behind us. Photo credit goes to Marc Smith who kindly invited and hosted me on this visit to MSR.

Photo updates

Friday, April 6th, 2007

I’ve been doing lots of fun things recently much of which I’ve documented, of course.:)

So here are some links to photo sets on Flickr. I also link to the slideshow version. I think those work best if you tweak the timing to no more than 2 seconds per image, just slide the bar in the upper right corner of the tool.

How long would it take to swim across the Atlantic Ocean?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Google Maps has the answer for me if I am headed from Stanford to Budapest. The only part left for me to figure out is how much to subtract for driving from California to Massachusetts and then from France to Hungary. Subtracting that from 31 days 14 hours I should have the answer. Alternatively, I can do a search for Boston to Brest, France and calculate it from that although I don’t get why they’re making me reach the coast at Le Havre since that’s quite a bit of extra swimming. Google Maps estimates that trip at about 29 days 5 hours, which makes me wonder how they got 31 days 14 hours for the other trip.

Hmm.. maybe I’ll stick to flying.

(Skip down to direction #33 on the first map or #9 on the second if this is all too cryptic.)

[thanks]

Frenzied in Firenze

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

.. is precisely what I don’t plan on being, but I liked my colleague‘s email subject line so I decided to use it here. Point being: I’ll be in Florence this weekend and am looking for suggestions for what not to miss. As a bit of background: 1. I’ve been already and have visited the relatively obvious touristy musts; 2. I have six guide books in my office with suggestions.

Of course, you could then say “so what do you need us for?”. Well, I’m looking for suggestions of that hole-in-the-wall place you found at the end of your trip having hoped in retrospect to have had more time to enjoy. Or that specific spot on a sidestreet from which the view to some place is especially magnificent. Or whatever. There are hidden gems in every city so I thought it was worth asking.

And if anyone around here happens to be in Florence this weekend, let me know.* This is a work trip, but the meeting doesn’t start until Monday so I have Fri-Sun for fun.

For anyone curious, I’m going there for an OECD meeting on “new millennium learners”. Thanks to INDIRE for sponsoring this. We’ll also have a public meeting next Wednesday on the topic.

* I have another post in the works about how to keep people posted of one’s whereabouts.

Elephant seals!

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Elephant seal

Wow, I went on an amazing tour on Sunday to the Año Nuevo State Reserve on the coast. Elephant seals only come on land twice a year and for not too long so you can’t just go to the coast and expect to catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures. The weather was absolutely gorgeous adding to the experience.

I think the photos may convey it all best. I recommend the slideshow view for this, you can adjust timing (say, to 2s) on the top for a quicker move through the album.

I also have a video compilation up at YouTube. It starts out a bit slowly, but at .50 you can see a bit of male fighting then at 1:15 you have a male approaching a female and at 1:25 there’s some very cool movement by two males. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really capture the sounds they were making due to the wind.

You’ll notice a bit of sand throwing. They do this to keep cool. They don’t eat at all while on land so they have a ton of fat stored away, which works well when hundreds (if not thousands) of feet deep in cold water, but not so well on a sunny beach.

Record-setting snow

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Snow sets record I have no idea why I’m smiling in that photo. There was not much fun about the scene. The Chicago area saw record-setting weather yesterday. Apparently this is the earliest measurable snow since snow has been measured in the city. Yikes. Thursday’s snow beat the record by six days! It’s not as though I wasn’t already very happy in California, but I guess the weather thought I needed more reminding of why I should just stay put and enjoy the sunny and warm days.