April 17, 2009.
|Nena (1999 - 2009)
In the morning of Friday, April 17, 2009, our beloved dog companion Nena passed away. She died at home in San Francisco, after a short period of illness, caused by a congestive heart failure. She was 9 years 5 months old.
Please remember her.
Please spread the word! She must not be forgotten!
|When Nena came to us in November of 1999, she changed our lives completely. She was extremely lovable, and loved humans back with the same intensity. Her main concern was to be with us, all the time. And we wanted to have her with us, all the time. For that reason, we brought her to the Lab, every day we were there. We were extremely grateful that Nena was allowed to be at the lab with us. The lab community liked her, but she also provided a clear service to the ML community: pet therapy. Coming to our office and petting her for five minutes had a calming effect on all those stressed out and tired-from-all-nighters lab people.
To come to the lab, we carried her on our backs, in a transporter made specifically for her breed. It was like her own portable home on our backs, and she absolutely loved it, from day one on. We bicycled with her from home to lab and back, either on our backs, or (when we already had backpacks) on our front, like a marsupial. It looked pretty funny, her sticking her head out, interested in everything that was going on outside.
To protect her from the cold weather, we dressed her up often, and she had a huge wardrobe, created especially for her by her grandmother. Nena was a true fashion icon, and although she may not have cared about the fashion itself, she definitively cared about the attention she got from wearing it. She was a very social dog, after all, and all her life she focused completely on the relationship with humans.
She was part of all our activities: for our graduation in 2005, she even got her own matching MIT gown. We figured that she spent enough time at MIT (almost six years) so that she should receive at least an honorary degree.
Many things in our lives were directly influenced by her, and her passing away truly felt like losing a daughter: we are still in a state of shock.
If you have read the book or seen the movie The Golden Compass, you may understand when we say that she was our Daemon. In essence, it was not possible for us to be separated, and if we were, that would result in grave consequences. That is how we feel.
Nena had a very happy life, and we were even luckier to have her in our lives. We will miss and remember you forever! Rest in peace, Nena.
Love, Stefan & Kimiko.
|Hawaii! We finally got to visit Oahu! It was just terrific: I would even consider moving there if our jobs would permit (they don't). In addition to eating really good food, four important things happened during this short trip:
October 29, 2006: some thoughts on ideal vs. real life
October 20, 2006.
|Deva Seetharam's RadioSherpa My good friend Deva Seetharam (I worked with him at the Media Lab on pretty funky stuff like the Weathertank) has a brand new startup company! Check it out: http://www.radiosherpa.com/: The First Real-Time Guide for Radio.|
August 25, 2006.
|Lily Diemer Site My Goddaughter Lily got a new website: the latest and greatest about her life! :-). She must be the coolest and hippest Swiss gal that there is! And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree: her parents are cool too!|
June 5, 2006.
|I can fly! This summer, Kimiko and I visited Switzerland, and all of our families (from Switzerland and Tokyo) got together at my sister's place. Which happens to be a pristine medieval castle, believe it or not. Anyways, Luki brought a remote controlled helicopter. As you may know, these guys are super hard to fly! Now the cool thing is that if we split the four functions, and I only control two and Luki the other two, we can collaboratively fly the helicoptercheck it out! :-)|
March 1, 2006.
|Push Singh This is just too shocking. I will need lots of time to deal with this. The Media Lab made a Memorial Website, and I wrote about Push and Nena. I can't believe he's gone.|
February 22, 2006.
|My car is too shiny and new! I must look rich or something! Well, somebody thought that the briefcase on the back seat must have something really important in it, and smashed the back window and took the briefcase. I really would like to see the face of the guy when the only thing he finds in it are folders labeled "Bills to pay". Oh, wait, maybe he wanted to pay them for me? And there was another folder there: it's all my documents relating to... Telepathy! How ironic is that! Now I wish I had this ability to find the guy who became such an annoyance to me. The hardest part was to remember what was in this damn unimportant briefcase. Sheesh, thieves these days...|
January 11, 2006.
|Proud Owner: I needed a car because we're both commuting, and public transportation is not very helpful where we live right now. Intuitively, I was drawn to both Hummer H2 (monster SUV) and Toyota Prius (electric hybrid). I am enough of a Psychologist to see what these simultaneous preferences say about my personality, but that's just the way I am (and I am happy with it). Since I couldn't decide which way to go, 'macho' vs. 'understanding', I decided to get both... eventually.
To start off (and probably because I couldn't ignore the Kantian Categorical Imperative, which is in short something like May you live your life as if the maxim of your actions were to become universal law...), I bought myself a brand spanking new black 2006 Prius. It has cool features, like the backup camera, tire pressure sensors, keyless entry, push button start, and of course a navigation system. We bought lots of street maps (since I still got lost occasionally on the West coast), but there's nothing like seeing yourself as a cute red triangle racing along bright colorful roads on a display! Another feature I like is the MPG display, showing real-time energy consumption: I can totally see that trying to drive with as little gas as possible can be very educational, and can even become like a video game!
|Anybody got this bumper sticker? I'd like to have it! :-)|
|This is my brave black STOE Prius, butting heads with a random black Hummer (not mine)... Not too shabby, ey! ;-)|
December 6 - 17, 2005.
|I visited the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Seoul/Korea, the lab that I am now affiliated with. It is very big, rather secretive (X-rays at the entrance), and lots of bright people working there! Of course one cannot take pictures there, so the above is from the Jongno Tower in Seoul, and (believe it or not) this is the view from the men's bathroom! Honestly!
|One very good reason to go to Seoul is food. It is excellent, huge variety (even for vegetarians), and it is not even that expensive. Above a typical lunch I had... (And no, I didn't eat the fish on top left: I am still vegetarian. But most of the dishes on this table are actually vegetarian.)|
November 18, 2005.
|I am no longer a student! :-) I switched from F1 (or rather, OPT) to a real work visa, H1B. That is good and bad: good is that I have a visa valid for three more years. Bad is that I have to pay much more taxes, and I have to return home immediately if I lose my job (and don't have another one lined up). No pressure...|
|Vegas, Baby! The City of Lights!|
|Indeed, I've never seen so much Neon. Must have a helluva electricity bill, all those places. Anyway, here's the low down:|
|Landing in the Canyon (left) was... impressive! Never seen such a thing. As you can see (right top) we had fun during the heli flight: the front row view was... amazing (not wet, though). Now check this out: the pilot (in the pic above, the person on the left) is NOT my twin, but could as well be. That's why I know I can become a heli pilot... Oh, the Luxor pyramid (right) indeed looks like that, especially when you are in a scary sharp left turn in the heli...|
|My new job is cool, but the commute is annoying. It's 70 to 90 minutes (depending on traffic), each way! That's about three times the U.S. average. I just did some calculations:
October 17, 2005.
|From MIT to SAIT|
|After having received my PhD, I moved from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT)!
SAIT (pic left) is the central R&D organization of the Samsung Group in Korea, and houses about 1000 researchers. It was established 1987, with the goal to develop cutting-edge technologies for the future. I am affiliated with the HCI Lab (now Intelligence Lab), which consists of about 100 very bright people. My situation is very unique, though, since my work place is in San Jose, California, at SISA (Samsung Information Systems of America, pic right). I was hired to be part of a brand new User Interface Innovation Lab for Samsung on the U.S. West Coast, and since I am the first hire, I help Samsung setting up this new thing, which is a very cool job! :-)
P.S. Did you know that Samsung is the biggest technology company outside the U.S.?
October 16, 2005.
|I/O Brush patent filed!|
|Finally, after a few iterations between the lawyer and some of the inventors (well, mainly me), it's done: the I/O Brush patent has been filed. Inventors are Kimiko Ryokai, her advisor Hiroshi Ishii, and I.|
|This is so cool: Kimiko gets tremendous reactions from the media and from other visitors about her project, especially the video generates a lot of interesthopefully somebody will pick up the idea soon and take it to the next level! (Or I'll have to do it myself...) My own PhD work will also lead to some patents: a 175-page provisional application has been filed for the cellular squirrel and other technologies from my dissertation work.|
|A squirrel makes waves!|
|We move from East coast to the West coast!|
|During the summer, I consulted with the Speech Interface Group and built Monkeys! That was fun: I ripped out all the guts of five cute stuffed monkeys, constructed an aluminum skeleton, and animated head, arms, and tail with servos. The special thing about them is that they hang from their tails, and swing left/right and back and forth, which looks cute and is rather unusual for an animatronics. My former office mate Rachel is using the monkeys for her thesis.|
July 14-18, 2005.
|For a short three-day visit on the West coast, we did some super concentrated house hunting in San Francisco. We looked at x places, and place number x-2 was The One! In case you wonder, x=22...
Most of the places were really disappointing: small, dirty, and overprized. Maybe it was because we looked only at "dog ok" places. This house hunting was a really tough experience, but we learned a lot. For example, some neighborhoods have much less fog than others. Eventually, we found a nice place: clean, very high ceilings, relatively large rooms. First floor in a corner house, painted in a nice Mediterranean orange. It is located at the south side of Noe valley, which (I found out later) is also called Little Switzerland: no wonder I like it! :-)
Although we are up a hill, we don't have a view (our windows are uphill), but just have to step outside and see the downtown skyline. The neighborhood is very village like, with quiet and small roads. Oh, and our roads are not grid like, but curved and sometimes even follow the hill curvature, which seems rather rare in SF. The hill side we live on shields us very nicely from the fog that comes in from the ocean, so very often, we seem to be one of the earliest fog-free area in SF.
|I graduate! :-) Here's how it happened:|
May 6, 2005, noon.
|I submitted my dissertation! Above is the simple yet meaningful orange receipt. Now I am DONE done! :-)
About a minute before that, Chris signed it (below left). Kimiko and I actually submitted our dissertations at the same second to the Media Lab :-) The printed documents came our pretty (below right). Since the patents are finally filed, my dissertaion is now online!
April 19, 2005.
|I defended my dissertation! Here's the video. Defending is the culmination of my work at the Media Lab. Man, I worked for that moment for 6 friggin' years... Well, the dissertation still has to be signed, which is the actual endpoint of my academic duties for my degree, but it's all downhill from here! :-) I was amazingly well prepared for the defense, thanks to the heavy coaching of Kimiko, Henry Lieberman, and Hiroshi Ishii.|
|Yes, we were in Vienna!||Yes, we were in San Francisco!|
The reason we were in Vienna was because we presented Kimiko's cool long paper I/O Brush: Drawing with Everyday Objects as Ink, at CHI 2004, and I happened to be co-author. On the pic you see the only sightseeing we did: this is the famous Belvedere, a beautiful private palace. The owner needs an army of gardeners to keep his p(a)lace in shape...
The reason we were in San Francisco was Nextfest, where Kimiko presented... I/O Brush, yup. This was my FIRST time on the West coast, and I liked it A LOT! But Nextfest by itself was cool for other reasons: I finally got to meet Asimo in person (left)! I met its dad P3 in Tokyo in 2000 (right). Now I have met the whole Honda android family! Yay! :-)
|And I met something else at Nextfest. If you know me then you know that I am obsessed with free hovering devices in general, and specifically with the Moller Skycar. And there it was!! I couldn't believe it.|
January 17, 2004.
|Yeah, I know, it was really necessary... That is my first serious haircut in 13 years! We took lots of pics, and there is even some video footage of this historic event!|
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|When we got back from Tokyo, it was SUPER cold in Boston: minus 20 degrees celsius! So we are glad that Nena got some new winter clothes, such as these extremely warm full body suits! The one on the left is a bunny, the one on the right a penguin...|
|When it is cold outside, she loves running around and playing with this supercool orange track suit, which was specifically made for her! Look for yourself:
Download movie [MPG 4.5MB]
|And believe me, although the scarf Nena is wearing on the pic on the right is extremely fashionable (from Keep In Touch), it is NOT warm enough in these times! :-)|
December 2003/January 2004.
|Where on this earth can you find a place to race 1:28 scale cars? Tokyo, of course! I even have a video of it! Just to be clear: I am driving the yellow carnot the first one, but the one that crashes into the walls all the time and even races in the wrong direction... :-) I must have been the worst race driver on the track that dayexcept for a little 8 year old boy perhaps, but I am not sure... But you sure can tell that it didn't matter to me!||
RealVideo [56kbps] [256kbps]
WinMedia [56kbps] [256kbps]
Download movie [AVI 2.9MB]
RealVideo [56kbps] [256kbps]
WinMedia [56kbps] [256kbps]
Download movie [AVI 2.5MB]
|Here we see the professionals racing, me just watching. This time it is 1:12 scale, internal combustion engines, which means much faster and an incredible sound track (unfortunately not on this video). This was on the top of the Yuzawaya department storeman, they were fast and furious! :-) The two cute little dogs that you see at the end of the movie are Sara and Coco (more below).|
December 7, 2003.
Well, these are actually all contemporary cars, but our huge snow storm tonite made them look so 50sthe shapes, the colors: I thought that was really interesting how it transformed them in style!
November 29, 2003.
|Now, guess who took these pictures?
|Yes, that's the famous master photographer at work! :-) Lily Diemer is only three and a half and takes better photographs than I do... This was when we unpacked the presents we got from her and uncle Ralphonso and aunt Manu!|
|Besides taking pictures of us taking pictures, we actually did other cool stuff, like taking a stroll through a huger rain forest, with rivers, monkeys, birds, and stuff. In Switzerland, in winter, indoor! No, really! I don't have a lot of pics: because of the high humidity, all camera lenses went foggy... Here's oneno monkeys on it, though, I think...|
October 29, 2003.
This is a research project, which later morphed into my doctoral work. Here's the full video (MOV, 7279kb, 116.10 secs).
February 24, 2003.
|I finally finished my 130-page report on TinyProjector, a project I have been working on during the last twor years. I am pretty proud of it!|
February 17, 2003.
December 2002/January 2003.
|Guess where we went recently? No, neither to the Middle East, nor the Mediterranean... This is Tokyo! These two pics are from Tokyo Disney Sea, a new theme park. It was fantastic!|
But this monster is not by Disney: it's a famous Japanese animation character, and can be found on top of the Ghibli museum. This building is full of super cute artifacts of the works of the Ghibli movie studios, which includes movies like Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, and Totoro.
|We did mainly two things in Japan: eating yummy stuff, and looking for cute toys. For both, Tokyo is the perfect place! The former includes visiting several hot springs, and that's the comfy clothes we get to wear there (below left). Below right: I hope I slurp the noodles properly!|
|Our search for cute toys includes R/C stuff (below left the cool outdoor racetrack on the roof of Yuzawaya, a department store in Kichijoji), and cellphonesthe most advanced ones in the world! This is my "pet" interest, literally... (Later more about that.)|
|And Coco, Kimiko's parent's cute Yorkshire Terrier, was (almost) always with us! Here she's riding on Nori's bicycle.|
|All in all, as you can see, we had a lot of fun! This was my third visit to Japan, and again, it was a fantastic vacation, thanks to Kimiko's family!|
November 30, 2002.
We finally visited Lily again, my goddaughter in Switzerland! Although she can be very impish (left, very fashionable) and fierce (right, with her new football outfit), she still loves usespecially Kimi! (above, in soccer outfit) And although I took 239MB of pics, Ralph's (these three) are still better...
May 29, 2002.
May 25, 2002.
Like No Vacation On Earth... Yup, we went for a Caribbean cruise on the biggest ship in the world!
|This ship is incredible: it not only has a climbing wall, but also Minigolf, Rollerblading lanes, and even an ice rink! All of that in the middle of the ocean...|
|We got in physical contact with many animals on this trip: friendly dolphins...|
|...sting rays (hungry ones!), horses (swimming!), alligators (well, babies...)|
|This was a water vacation: I was under water...|
|... close to water, underground river swimming, and under water but dry (submarine!)
All in all, it was A-MA-ZING!! Stay tuned, I have about 896 more pics of this vacation that will go on my webpage sometime...
February 15, 2002.
Today, I passed my qualifying exam! :-)
My main domain is user interfaces for ultra-tiny communication devices, together with interactions of humans with artificial entities, both robotic and software, and artificial commonsense knowledge and reasoning.
In addition, I wrote papers about social impact of user interface design of mobile communication devices, and what features are most important to create an entity that would be worthy of being granted human-like rights.
And if you are confused and don't understand how all these issues are related, here is a summary of my domains.
December 17, 2001.
March 18, 2001.
October 5, 2000.
September 26, 2000.
July 30, 2000.
I think my submission is somehow cool and relevant, and I also became a finalist. My project is about how to connect the people in an airplane to their relatives and friends on the ground, during the flight, in real time. Have a look a my entry Wish You Were here.... BTW, I didn't win the prize...
July 8, 2000.
And that's when I met Lily the first time... Note, our hair-do's are identical!!
(If you can't see it, click on the picture for a bigger version. Most of the
thumbnails on this page are clickable.)
|What a fancy zebra bed! I wanna flyyyy away! Hmm, dad looks quite a bit older than a month ago, doesn't he? BTW, she has now her own web page!|
June 4, 2000.
Cuuuuute! This is Lily Diemerthe little one, of course.
The other one on the pic is Ralph, the dadand I am the godfather!!
I am sure Ralph will set up a web page for his daughter very soon.
Congrats also to the mother, Manu, who had all the hard work!
|Here's also mom, and lil' Lily doing the most important stuff: sleeping and eating!
BTW, that's Ralph's web page!
|Here is Nena again, watching over her very own dog house!||And that's my favorite picture: the FHN, the Free Hovering Nena!! :-)|
January 30, 2000.
Skiing was fun! Nena enjoyed it as well, riding on my back down the slopes of Wachusett mountain!
December 15, 1999.
This is my first prototype of a Free Flying Micro Platform, which eventually will become a Papa-TV-Bot!
November 9, 1999.
This little cutie is my Nena!! (Guess where the name comes from...)
She is a Coton de Tulear, and still a puppy.
Soon she will get her own web page, I am working on it!
October 18, 1999.
August 13, 1999.
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Last updated December 24, 2006.
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