Barcelona in less than 15 hours

Preparing your trip
What is slowly becoming a reflex when I'm traveling to a new or known destination is first to check if there is an available spotted by locals guide. Then to buy the app and/or check the online version and finally contact the local bloggers to see if any of them has some time to share with me once I reach their city. I did that last year for Boston, New-York and last earlier this month for Copenhagen. This time - it was a first time  in Barcelona - I had the chance to meet one of the spotters (Cynthia website in Spanish) and to be guided in the city without thinking if I had to turn right or left, I just had to talk and to follow.

First evening in town
I met Ana Cynthia in front of the Liceu theater. The central pavement is almost full of people. I'm looking around watching the people. On the other side of the street an inevitable bachelor party group. English men this time, what a fun evening to be drunk with your buddies. The future happy married man in underwear completely wasted, laying on the ground when his friends are gently beating him, so much fun.

Then my tour starts. I have a very short introduction to Barcelona and the old city district. Slaloming between the small streets, places and churches and arriving in front of the first bar. It's closed. No worries the city seems to be full of other options. Some meters away we enter the passage for a first real stop at the Bar Pasajes.

We were two, then beer glasses and olives came, then we were three, then there was live music in the second bar, it was crowded, then we left because hungry and the bar was empty of food, then we were surrounded by tapas and spoiler alert we won. I don't say that one or two tapas pieces left the table alive, but 95% did finish in our stomachs.

First Saturday in town
A very nice thing with the Spotted by Locals app - and i'm not only saying that because I'm part of Berlin team - when you are traveling in foreign country - and what is a foreign country when you are already living a foreign country - is that you have all information offline. The great advantage is that you look less like a tourist, you still look like a compulsive smartphone user for sure but it's becoming tricky to sort between tourists and locals addicted to their phone. You can browse the city map stored offline on your device without stress, you always know where you are.

Let's say you are at the under-construction cathedral, it's full of ugly tourists including myself, you walked around, took pictures and you want to run away as soon as possible to your next destination. No stress, take one road that inspires you, especially the one without tourists, walk some minutes and delicately check on your app if you are going in the right direction. You already look like a local and soon people will ask you their way.

Now it's time to reach the airport, I could hang around for still one hour but I feel frustrated to not be able to move as I usually do, which means with my bike. I got to the airport bus, some minutes later I'm entering the terminal and quickly start to put some words down about the last 15 hours. A lot to tell.


Touristes de qualité familiale

Si je m'entraine depuis quelques mois un peu plus, que je cours trois fois par semaine en plus d'autres activités sportives annexes, ce n'est pas pour une éventuelle participation à un marathon en septembre prochain, non. C'est juste que mes parents passaient par Berlin ce weekend, so be prepared.

Vendredi soir
Fin de semaine, rendez-vous au Oberholtz pour une petite bière avec l'ami Samuel. Quelques bidouillages d'ordinateur plus tard et je file.

Réception habituelle à la sortie du métro à Schönhauser Allée. Dépose des sacs et direction Mitte et un petit restaurant sympathique appelé Lebensmittel. Très bon vin et surtout très bon schnitzel, mes accompagnateurs ont aimé également. Retour en tramway dans le quartier.

Petit déjeuner à la maison, la mission "demander des splitterbrotchen" à la boulangerie a été réussie, la journée commence bien.

Promenade dans le quartier, traversée du Mauer Park en arrivant de la Gaudystr. Puis Oderbergerstr, tourner à droite sur la  Kastanienallee, essayer de monter dans la Zionkirche sans succès, marcher le long du Volkspark am Weg, passer de la Veteranstr. à la Invalidenstr. pour enfin bifurquer à gauche par la Ackerstr et déambuler jusqu'à Friedrichstrasse.

Nous sautons dans le métro, un changement et nous re-sortons de sous terre en plein Schöneberg. ll fait beau et il fait faim, nous ferons une pause au Gottlob Gasthaus, une bonne addresse et un délicieux tofu burger. Pour le café le Double Eye n'y échappera pas ni ses patisseries portugaises. Miam.

Nous descendons vers Nollendorfplatz non sans traverser la Winterfeldplatz et un petit détour vers la Viktoria Luise Platz avant d'assister au spectacle A Cabaret Story. Spectacle de qualité.

Il est à peine 18h et la journée n'est pas finie! La promenade continue jusqu'à Zoologischer Garten d'où nous prendrons le S-Bahn pour rejoindre le tramway M1 à Hackechr Markt. Point de restaurant ce soir, ce sera risotto maison et vin rouge. Une belle journée.

Petit déjeuner à la maison, une équipe vers Mauer Park et une autre vers en mode jogging vers le Humboldthain Parl. Tout ca de bon matin. Ce qui fait que vers 12h30 nous pénétrons dans la Gemälde Galerie. Un très beau musée.

Que serai un dimanche après-midi à Berlin sans gateau? Une grossière erreur me direz-vous! Afin d'éviter tout impair on se retrouve tous au café Pakolat pour des gateaux délicieux.

Mini sieste dans le salon et nous re-sortirons le soir histoire de chasser la pizza. La chasse fût également réussie, nos estomac remplis. Un beau weekend.


Cyborg time

About two years ago I started with a friend - who happen to be a color scientist as well - a series of research experiment having for goal to study projector displays and wondering if we could evaluate some of theirs properties - such as response curve and color gamut - without proper measuring device - meaning without expensive measuring devices.

Said like that I admit it doesn't sound very sexy. But that were the fun come in, it is not because it doesn't sound über cool that the approach can't be fun. Inspired by the work of other researchers where instead of using measuring devices experiments were conducted using a panel of human observers. A series of images were presented to the observers. Based on their decision, to say if pairs of color patches were identical in brightness/intensity - one made of a single gray continuous value and the second made using halftone technique - the famous response curve could be described. There is some much things you can do with the response curve but I will not pursue in that direction today.

Our idea is simple and we are not the first to have had this idea: to replace the observer by a camera, a webcam. Three simple reasons to do so: for having been several time one of the observer I know it is super annoying to be part of such experiment, mimicking an eye with a camera is a nice challenge and webcam are cheap. And not to mention that opencv is there to avoid you to loose to much time in accessing the video stream of your webcam and programming in Python is pleasant.

To be short, we are re-doing a pair single color patch comparison. One patch is a continous patch and the second halftoned.  The project is called devForWebCam, it's programmed in Python and located here. The code should help to setup an experiment in order to gather data.


Winter vernissage

Polychroming by artist Joe Clark - Centrum Berlin
Some ideas in my head after attending a vernissage in Neükölln or another Berlin Bermuda triangle should I say. You are inside the berliner U-Bahn ring but far from everything. But it's a real urban density that reminds you that you are in a real city. A part of Berlin I only know for its galleries, independent art places, book shop with concert place hidden in the basement you enter by what could be interpreted as a trap, bar that become clothes shop by day, nest of hipsters, old airport turned into a kitesurfing spot... A part of the city I almost only remember by night except during the 48Stunden Neükölln.

Centrum, the place of the day. First time was last summer at the occasion of the Project Space Festival where with two friends we wrote about the different art places. Centrum of last August was special to us. They were not the only ones but one the first thanking us of the article we wrote about them and it was a transition, former owner giving the keys to the new key master Mareike. She took well care of the place, sadly I missed the previous exhibition but this time I made it!

I have to say the name of the installation has attracted my attention: Polychroming. Probably a déformation professionnelle. Not much to say when you find the installation interesting. The chance I had was to be there early and was able to converse with the artist Joe Clark which is always good.

I don't know if it is the location of the Reuterstrasse. But as during my first visit of Centrum - or other places in this area - there is something rough about the environment, make me thing of each place I enter as an inhabited cavern, expecting painting on the walls, except yesterday was a projection on a tilted wooden deck of silver-ish kind of stone.

One last thing I should start study the relation between vernissage and choice of beer proposed. I wonder if it says something. Yesterday was Flensburger, a good choice.


Pano for the people 2

I "closed" this project by adding some final examples. More precisely examples where something can go wrong and showing what it means in images.

One important thing to be able to create a beautiful little planet is to have made first a full spherical panorama picture. This panorama has to be presented as a rectangular image, an equirectangular image of ration 2:1, this means the virtual camera that would have taken this image has an equirectangular lens of field of view 360°. That is the requirement for my scripts and function that generate template file to control hugin. But you are free to distort any rectangle images with different ratios.

All the codes and guidelines here panoToLittlePlanet.

What does it mean to generate a little planet from the south hemisphere of full spherical panorama? The answer below:

full spherical image with only the south hemisphere visible.

the resulting little planet.