San Francisco 2017 Diary: day 5

Wednesday 1 February, 2017

It was conference routine again today, getting up, eating a bagel for breakfast, and then heading down to a day of talks. I bought a couple of apples and a banana from the pop-up snack bar which was there to cater to conference attendees. They cost $1 a piece.

The morning talks were the last of the Digital Photography conference. There was a talk about infrared camera calibration and another about measuring MTF of sensors, so they were interesting. After the coffee break was a keynote about CMOS sensor design, which wasn’t so exciting for me.

Long-billed curlew
Long-billed curlew

At lunch I went for a walk to get some exercise, across the road to the bay shore and then north along the path that runs there. I ate the remaining apple after having one earlier for morning tea, and the banana. I took my camera with me to get some photos of the birds that putter around on the shore of the bay. I didn’t have a long zoom, but got some moderate shots of a few different birds, including a big white egret, some ducks, and some wading birds. I later identified the birds as: willet, long-billed curlew, snowy egret, American crow, grey plover, and canvasback ducks.

Snowy egret>
Snowy egret

After walking about 25 minutes along the shore, I turned around and headed back to the hotel. I turned inland early to cross back over the road and head down a short dead end to the It’s-It Ice Cream factory, where they’ve apparently been making ice cream sandwiches since 1928. They have a factory store, where a guy and a woman served me, selling me a mint ice cream sandwich for $1.50. I was a bit surprised by the cookies being oatmeal, but the added texture was good, and they were nice and crunchy, not soggy at all.

It's It Factory shop
It’s-It Ice Cream factory

After lunch was a plenary talk by a Facebook researcher about designing their Facebook 360 VR camera system. Then after that I attended the Dark Side of Colour talk session in the Colour Imaging conference. This is always a fun session, with controversial topics and unanswered questions galore. One was about the special role that hue plays in perceptual differences, and how it can’t be fit into Euclidean colour spaces in a perceptually linear way. The speaker cited several old papers, including one by Erwin Schrödinger. He said Schrödinger tried tackling colour science early in his career, but gave up and went on to invent quantum mechanics instead because it was easier. Another talk was about metameric failure, and how the new trend to LED lights is resulting in cameras producing images with colours very different from the human eye. So film photography directors are shunning them, and there’s a need to develop a metameric similarity measure for lighting and then use it to make better LED lights.

After the conference, I dashed back to my room and rugged up in my coat to make the trip to Oakland and meet Lisa, Rick, Shaenon, and Andrew for dinner. I walked to Millbrae station and caught BART, but the trip took a bit longer than I anticipated and I arrived a few minutes after 7 at Bissap Baobab, the Senegalese restaurant Lisa had selected. She and Rick were there, and she said that Mary and Casey had messaged to say they couldn’t make it, as they were feeling sick. We knew Shaenon was arriving later, and I was hungry, so we ordered a few small things to eat.

Coconut infused rum and plantain chips
Coconut infused rum and plantain chips, Bissap Baobab

Lisa ordered a serve of plantain chips, which came with a sweet tamarind dipping sauce, and she also asked for habanero hot sauce for them. She also got a dish with chicken legs covered in a peanut sauce, similar to satay, but slightly different in the spices, and another one with prawns in a type of red curry, which came with a bit of rice and small wedges of flatbread. The drinks menu listed their house coconut infused rum as the first thing, so I tried that. It was very coconutty and didn’t taste at all alcoholic. The food was all very good,

After a while of chatting, Shaenon, Andrew, and Robin arrived, and I introduced them to Lisa and Rick. They had some of our leftover food and then ordered an extra chicken with peanut sauce, plantain, and also a serve of yucca chips and rice for Robin. Lisa ordered one of the daily specials too, a serve of tostadas stacked with chicken and other things. These were also very good.

Spicy chicken tostadas
Tostadas at Bissap Baobab

Shaenon told us about the rioting happening as we were speaking just over in Berkeley, not far away, set off by a planned talk by a right wing speaker. We also chatted about a bunch of other stuff, comics, travel, politics…

The dinner ended a little early, but I suppose it was a work night and the others wanted to get home not too late. I left them to walk back to BART and catch a train to Millbrae. While on the train, the operator made an announcement that Berkeley station was closed and trains were going through it without stopping. Part of the response to the rioting I presumed. From Millbrae I walked back to the hotel, getting in about 22:30, so it was quite a long trip really. Then it was preparing for bed and turning in for the night.

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