Nicole C. Weber
DMP Summer 2008 Blog

about meabout my mentor and research • blog • ncweber[at]

Friday, August 8th, 2008 : Week 10

This week I finished my paper. My mentor was at a Microsoft conference and told me that some people there were interested in the software I designed. I also won 3rd place in the poster competition. They told us there would be a cash prize but I still haven't gotten it! My flight home was delayed and then cancelled and I ended up having to sit in the airport for 12 hours. All I wanted was to be able to get out of Tampa finally but that was clearly too much to ask! Anyway now I am back and living in glamourous, stylish Bushwick, Brooklyn where everyone's a DJ and sincerity is as horrible a faux-pas as wearing flip-flops outdoors. I sold out and got a job as a computer programmer at a financial firm.

Thursday, July 31, 2008 : Week 9

This week we did our final presentations and had a poster competition (the winners haven't been announced yet). Tomorrow is the closing ceremony for the summer research group here, however I am not allowed to go home until next Friday, which is frustrating! I am still writing my conference paper (the first of probably 3 drafts) and it is surprisingly hard, only because the structure of these things seems to encourage redundancy. My mentor is in the process of leaving USF and there has also been a lot of distraction due to that. Not much else to report. I can't wait to finish this paper and go home!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 : Week 8

I have begun to write my conference paper. I wrote the abstract and am now working on the Implementation and Experiments sections. I have to say that I enjoy writing more than I enjoy messing with Google Earth. However, I am proud that my web application is now SEMI-WORKING (but it requires Windows and the Google Earth Browser Plug-in)! You can view the placemarks I've coded, but nothing else as of yet. Additionally I have done a research poster. The coordinator of the research program here provided us with a template in the school colors, but it was truly hideous so I changed the colors. I may be disqualified from winning "best poster" but I would rather be disqualified than be associated with something tacky!
Last week my lab had a baby shower for one of the Ph.D. students' wife, and it was in a lovely house by the bay. It was "nerd"-themed and it was a lot of fun, however I felt out of place due to my lack of knowledge about Battlestar Gallactica. The next day a few friends and I went to check out Red Bull Flugtag, which was in Tampa this year, however we arrived too late to actually see any flug-ing. We ended up going to some vintage shops in Ybor City. I was really excited to check them out because in New York the vintage stores only carry really high-end things (except for Beacon's Closet which is just Last Month's H&M), making it impossible to afford anything. But the clothes and shoes in these shops were in really poor condition so it was a little disappointing.
Over the weekend we went to Hooters and our waitress told me she was from Brooklyn. I wanted to talk to her more but she was pretty busy. I had a long phone conversation with one of my best friends from home last night and her tales of Long Island gutter-punks and hipster-heckling Latino kids in Williamsburg made me miss NYC a lot. I only have 2.5 weeks to go--not even sure if I'll be able to finish the implementation of my project by then, with the way the Google Earth API keeps bugging out on me! When I get back I will be living in my friend's place in "East Williamsburg"/"West Bushwick" (it's the Morgan stop, whatever) so it will be a big, but welcome, change from being here for so long.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 : Week 7

Alright--coming together! Last Thursday I spoke with Sam Stover (FEMA) about my prototypes and got advice about how to improve the design. I wrote the Software Requirement Specifications (.doc) and now I'm working on implementing it. I'm using Google Earth's new browser plug-in--only works on Windows now so it's a bit of a hassle--learning their JavaScript API and hopefully getting this thing to at least display the Jacksonville data. I'm also writing the abstract for my conference paper.
In other news I am conducting my job search and trying not to get overwhelmed when doing upwards of 5 phone-interviews per day. A lot of people in New York are getting laid off and it is a tough market to enter. I am trying not to be too anxious; I know will definitely get a job, it's just hard to say what kind of work I'll be doing and what kind of salary I will be able to make.
This past weekend I checked out International Plaza, which is a really nice mall in Tampa. It was so fabulous; there was a Betsey Johnson boutique, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and more--much nicer than the mall by campus. I got a few pairs of Wolford tights for 50% off--according to Vice magazine they are a must-have.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 : Week 6

I completed the display in Google Earth that I was working on. I manually tiled together about a dozen images to create the full plan view of the disaster site, and attached it to an already-made 3d model of the Berkman Plaza II complex in Google's 3d Warehouse. I am now creating an alternative web-based display, which requires less computing power and can be done in the field. It is an image map of the tiled image, and clicking on areas of the image is handled with a pop-up of a photograph with greater detail. I actually enjoy doing web development and coding more than I enjoy visual work such as Google Earth and SketchUp (Google's 3d modelling software). I have my projects visible online here on the lab's server!
For the Fourth of July last week we had a small cookout by the pool and it was really nice. The fireworks were very underwhelming, though. The next day we went outlet shopping in Ellenton (a suburb about an hour away from Tampa) and there was a Saks Fifth Avenue outlet and it was fabulous!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 : Week 5

This week I'm developing a display idea for the UAV imagery. This will be something along the lines of creating a 3D model in Google Earth for the disaster site. Then I will manually tile the elevation shots of the disaster to create the faces of the model. Right now I am waiting on some images that appear to have gotten lost on the server. We have had so much server trouble since I got here, and it has been taking forever to get the data I need. I really hope I can get these images and get the display done by next week--I really don't want to disappoint Dr. Murphy! I have before and I can tell you it's not fun!
Last weekend I went to Hooters for the first time with some kids from the summer research program. The beer was actually kind of expensive but still cheap compared to NYC. The waitress was totally not that cheerful! What gives?
We have gone out to Ybor City, a neighborhood with a lot of clubs, a few times. It's always an adventure but, I am ashamed to admit, I kind of miss hipsters. I also miss going to noise shows. There is a very big Goth scene in Tampa, it appears, but the goths here look pretty terrible. They should dress like the Horrors, who look amazing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 : Elevation views in Google Earth

Today I worked on overlaying elevation views (photos taken from the sides of a structure, as opposed to aerials from the top) over the 3d model of the structure I'm working with. Not really working. But--I figured out how to create custom views for placemark descriptions. This means that I can insert a placemark and code in the angle and heading to view it from. One small step for a man...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 : Week 4

This is my fourth week here in Tampa. So far I have been researching methods for visualizing imagery from UAVs. I did my first presentation on Monday, in which I examined the use of static websites, Google Earth, and Microsoft Photosynth (requires Internet Explorer) as options for displaying the images.
This week I am focusing on gaining proficiency in Google Earth--exploring the different ways of inserting images via KML files. I am working with images of the collapsed Berkman Plaza II parking garage, in Jacksonville, FL. There are a number of challenges in trying to make the images fit into Google's models, and presenting them in a way that makes sense. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 : Week 3

I am doing a presentation on Monday the 16th about different techniques for visualizing the UAV imagery. Techniques include Google Earth, static webpages, and other photo processing/visualizing technologies.
I am getting a little homesick. This research is a really awesome opportunity, and I am really grateful to be doing it, but I do miss my friends. My friends at home are very different from the people here and it's hard when we're all operating with different assumptions and priorities. I actually don't think it's a New York-Florida thing, but more about the fact that NYU is a very different school than the other schools the kids here go to (there are kids here at USF from all over the country doing summer research, although not all of them are in computer science and only Brittany and I are DMP).

Thursday, June 5, 2008 : Week 2

My project involves visualizing imagery from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which is from different elevations and angles. I will primarily be using Google Earth to design an interface for search and rescue responders to access the images. No one has really done a visualization system like this before so as you can imagine, I have no idea where to start.
Dr. Murphy, my mentor, is very nice but I'm still a little intimidated since I've never done research before. Brittany (the other DMP student placed with Dr. Murphy) and I are going to weekly meetings with Dr. Murphy's grad students. This week we are supposed to workshop CVs, and also present a summary of a paper from this year's ICRA (International Conference on Robotics and Automation) that relates to the research we are doing. I read a paper about using image processing techniques and aerial "maps" to achieve geopositioning data. The reason this is important is because in certian urban settings, GPS is not reliable due to building interference.
Being here is definitely different than New York. I've lived in NYC my whole life and don't have a car (don't even know how to drive), so here I need to rely on other people to invite me with them when they go out. Brittany has a car and has been really generous about taking me places and stuff. In New York it is common to walk long distances, and I usually walk about 6 miles a day. Here if I walk ANYWHERE people in cars stare at me. I definitely plan on going to the gym a lot, because the sedentary lifestyle here is not healthy and I really don't want to gain weight! I joined the USF gym. My other plans include getting an awesome tan. I know that's not really healthy either but I don't care.

Friday, May 30, 2008 : Week 1

Getting here was not bad--my flight was only 3 hours or so. It was cold and rainy in New York when I left, so when I got here it was kind of shocking how hot it was. But after adjusting it's not so bad. New York in the summer averages in the 80s-90s so it's really not that different.
Everyone here is really nice and friendly which is a little hard to adjust to since in New York it is important to mind your own business and not make eye contact.
I still don't really know what I'll be doing this summer.