Virtual Tokyo meeting, day 3

The final day of the ISO Photography Standards meeting was relatively easy compared to the first two. We had technical sessions on ISO DNG file format, and measuring image flare. This last one was the most interesting to me, and there was a cool presentation with videos showing how image flare changes as a bright light source is moved across the image frame. After this we had the closing plenary session, with administrative wrapping up of the meeting, finalising action items, and so on.

In between I spent a bit of time working on new character sheets to print out for D&D tomorrow night. Everyone has levelled up to third level and I also want to introduce a variant combat rule that relies on PCs making defence rolls instead of monsters making attack rolls, so I thought it was a good time to refresh the character sheets to contain the new defence roll stat.

The weather was warm, and I thought the air conditioning was struggling, until my wife got home and pointed out that one of the living room windows had been wide open all day! Oops.

New content today:

Virtual Tokyo meeting, day 2

It’s day 2 of the ISO Photography Standards meeting in Tokyo, which I’m attending virtually from home. But this morning’s first two sessions I had to miss as I had to go into the University of Technology, Sydney, for the first lecture of this year’s first year Data Engineering course. I’m tutoring the class again, which has about 150 students. The lecturer gave the introductory lecture and introduced me and the other tutors. In past years the course has been held in the evening, but this year it’s been timetabled from 12-3pm. This is actually good because it doesn’t clash with any of my existing online ethics classes, unlike in previous years when I’ve had to move some of them around. But it did mean I had to miss those first two sessions of the ISO meeting today.

I went into the city and grabbed some sushi from Woolies (supermarket) to eat quickly before the class began. I also dropped in at the photo printer I use to make art prints of my photos, to pick up the canvas print of a Portuguese door that I had made for a friend. I was hoping I could get it home on the train without having to deal with rain, and fortunately the unsettled weather held off so I got it home safely.

This afternoon/evening the standards sessions covered technical discussions on: revising the “Removable memory” standard to reflect modern movement away from removable memory in cameras; a new standard proposal on machine vision cameras; the current draft of the autofocus repeatability standard; and long discussions on high dynamic range gain maps and how to use them.

New content today:

Virtual Tokyo meeting, day 1

I’m virtually in Tokyo this week, attending the ISO Photography Standards meeting there by remote video link. Of course I’m actually still in Sydney, enjoying our super wet and humid weather. We had more thunderstorms today, but not as severe as yesterday.

The meeting began at 10:30 my time, so I had time to take Scully on a long walk this morning, with the goal of trying her out so she’d be relaxed for most of the day while I’m wired to the computer. I took her down the peninsula towards the ferry wharf, although not quite that far, as that’s a really long walk. She was indeed tired by the time we got home. Although it didn’t rain, I was soaking wet with the sweat and humidity and had to change my shirt again. On the way back in, we passed the new neighbour and their dog out in the park across the street, so stopped to say hello and let the dogs have another greeting. Their dog is a little growly towards Scully, but they met and sniffed each other a bit. So hopefully Scully is getting more used to the fact that the other dog is around.

When the meeting began we launched into the administrative opening session. I had a presentation to give about the Sydney meeting in October, covering things like the meeting venue, transport from the airport, visas for visiting Australia, hotels, and so on. We have a staff member from the Art Gallery of New South Wales on our Australian standards committee, who has offered to give the international delegates a behind-the-scenes tour of the gallery. This is best done on Wednesday evening, as the Art Gallery is open late on Wednesdays, so there will be staff around to meet and the delegates can browse the gallery at their leisure afterwards. The tour will be of the gallery’s photography labs, where they digitise artworks for preservation and publication purposes. The fact that this is best done on Wednesday evening restricts the exact dates of the meeting to certain days of the week, so we discussed refining the dates.

Other future meetings were discussed, and it looks like a meeting in Shenzhen or Hong Kong may be on the cards for October next year. And then perhaps a meeting in Cambridge in the UK for June 2026. That should be good if it goes ahead!

I took Scully out (in the pouring rain) and made a hurried lunch during the first coffee break, since the actual lunch break was two hours later in my time zone and I didn’t want to wait that long.

We had a presentation by a guy from Adobe about the new digital provenance initiative called C2PA. This is a collaboration between Adobe, Microsoft, and the BBC as the founding members, with several other major companies joining in, to establish standards for verifying the provenance of files such as images, videos, and so on. The idea is that there will be digitally cryptographically secure signatures that can be attached to files to establish the creator of the content. If a file is edited, the editor can attach additional information indicating that the file has been edited. Either way, the signature will no longer match the signature hash, indicating that the file is no longer in the same form as the original publisher released it. In this way, you can confirm that a file published by, say, the BBC, is the original content that they published, or if it has been altered in any way. And the metadata can save the original content with hash, so you can actually see what the original file was before it was edited. It’s a little tough to explain in words, given I’m no cryptography expert, but it sounds pretty neat, and something that is desperately needed in our current environment where fake images and edits and AI content abound and it’s getting harder and harder to tell truth from fiction.

The afternoon sessions were dedicated to technical discussion on high dynamic range image file formats. There’s a lot of this topic scheduled for this meeting, and it’s a technical topic that I’m not especially familiar with or interested in, so for me these sessions were a little tedious.

After the meeting ended, I quickly made some fried mushrooms on toast as dinner for myself, as my wife ate earlier without me while I was still listening to the technical discussions.

New content today:

7 hours of online meetings…

It was a busy day today. I had five ethics classes, plus in between a two-hour agenda planning meeting for the next upcoming ISO Photography Standards meeting, which is in a couple of weeks. This is a meeting to discuss the scheduling of the agenda items, to fit in with everyone’s requirements for time to speak about and discuss the various projects, and also any attendance issues such as people only being able to attend morning or afternoon sessions because they’re attending remotely from different time zones, and so on.

I had a constraint, which is that the first lecture of this semester’s new course on Data Engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney, clashes with the morning session of the second day of the meeting. I want to make sure I don’t miss the lecture and meeting the students, so I requested a couple of photography topics that I’m more interested in be moved to different sessions. This was accommodated, so that means I’ll only be missing some of the topics that are of lesser interest to me, technically speaking.

I only had half an hour between that meeting ending and the first of three ethics classes in the evening, so I had to squeeze dinner in there. I made some instant laksa and slurped it down hurriedly and was ready just in time.

New content today:

Tidying up travel writing

Today I knocked off a couple of travel-related chores. Firstly, I wrote up my report on the ISO Photography Standards meeting that I attended in Tampere a couple of weeks ago. I need to summarise the entire meeting and any significant outcomes for Standards Australia, and submit the report to them, within 4 weeks of the meeting.

That took up until lunch time. The weather was a bit rainy and miserable again, so I couldn’t be bothered going for a run today.

In the afternoon I decided to tackle a less urgent travel issue. I still hadn’t finished processing photos and adding them to my travel diary for our trip to Germany and the Netherlands last year! I was partway through the last day in Amsterdam, so there wasn’t a lot to do, but I figured I better get it done, now that I have another whole trip backed up, along with the trip to Japan in June this year. I didn’t want to have three old trips that I hadn’t completed photo diaries for!

For dinner tonight, my wife and I went out for the first time since getting home from Italy. We didn’t want Italian food, so we went to a French crêpe place. Almost every time I go there I don’t have anything off the regular menu, because they always have a couple of specials, and they always look really good. Today was no exception – they had a chilli prawn galette and a butter chicken one! I would have liked to try both, but I decided on the chilli prawn. Normally I’d follow with a sweet crêpe for dessert, but I had that salted caramel tart I bought yesterday still, so I saved my dessert for later.

New content today:

Europe diary, day 6: technical topics and imaging demos

Thursday 9 November

I have terrible luck with shoes overseas. Yesterday the pair I brought here developed one sole in the process of peeling off from the heel. It’s been making a rubbery flapping noise every time I take a step, and was slowly getting worse as the sole progressively peels away from the rest of the shoe. This exact thing has happened at least twice on other overseas trips.

I woke up a bit early this morning, but not as bad as yesterday. M. got a better sleep. We got up just after 07:00 and had breakfast. At 08:30 we left, me heading for my meetings and M. for a cafe for her morning coffee.

Today’s meeting was packed with diverse technical sessions, after yesterday’s marathon on HDR images. Today we discussed image information capacity (using Shannon information theory to measure the signal to noise ratio across an image), depth metrology (characterising depth image cameras), angle-dependent image flare (measuring lens flare caused by light sources outside the field of view of the camera), removable memory (revising a current standard to deal with the fact that camera technology has moved on from removable memory), and vocabulary (revising the list of technical camera-related definitions to update old definitions and add new ones as technology changes).

For the lunch break, I went back to the same Turkish place as yesterday since it was so good. The woman remembered me from yesterday and welcomed me back with a hearty greeting. This time I had the falafel plate instead of the chicken, and it was just as good.

Despite the load of topics, the meeting wrapped up just before 15:00 today, because we had a special event planned for the afternoon. We had to make our way to the Finlayson neighbourhood, which is all old warehouses and industrial buildings, converted into restaurants and tech companies. One was hosting a mini imaging industry event, to which we were all invited.

But on the way back to the apartment to pick up M. I stopped off at a shoe repair place that I’d found by searching online. It was right next door to the restaurant where we’d picked up the key to the apartment, and so on the way. I had some stereotypical idea of an old Finnish cobbler who didn’t speak English, so I prepared by translating a few sentences explaining my predicament into Finnish using Google Translate. It was fortunate that I did, because the shop was indeed run by an old Finnish man who didn’t speak English. I showed him the translation on my phone, which explained that these were the only pair of shoes I had with me on this trip, so I needed either to buy some glue or to get a quick repair done while I waited. He examined my shoe and held up two fingers, saying “two minutes”. It ruined out to take maybe 10 minutes as I waited, thinking we were going to be late for the industry event. He did a bang-up job on the shoe though, for 10 euro.

I collected M. from the apartment and we headed to the event. We got a little lost in the building, climbing the stairs from the ground floor to what we thought was the first floor, but turned out to be the second. So we rode back down a floor in the lift. I think ended up on a kind of mezzanine level, half a floor above the ground level. From there we were confused as to where to go until we spotted signs pointing to an imaging event, which sounded right. Following these we entered a conference room area, where women at the door asked us to sign in on a list if invitees. I couldn’t find my name there, and we had to explain that we were ISO delegates invited by Ari to this event. This got an “ah!” of understanding and they handed us a blank sheet to write our names and affiliations on.

I hadn’t quite known what this event was going to be, and was a little surprised at all this. We entered room with about a hundred people sitting watching a presentation, and hovered near the back until someone brought us a couple of high stool chairs to sit on. The presentation was a series of 5-10 minute presentations given by people from various local imaging tech companies and university institutes here in Tampere. Most had brought demos of their technology, which were set up in a series of small rooms off the main room, and where we could go play with the demos after the talks were over.

But when the talks were done they first had some entertainment! An improv comedy group named Okay 10 performed for about half an hour, doing a series of 6 or 7 different improv pieces. The group was two men and a woman, with one man playing guitar for a few of the skits. He did a whole improv song, using title and word prompts from the audience – the song was named “Nimble Swimming” and when they requested a musical style someone yelled out “jazz!”, so the guy said, ah yes, he’d do it “in the well-known jazz guitar style”. He started singing and the woman occasionally called out audience words that she’d collected while the singer wasn’t listening. He was really good and the song was hilarious. This was the highlight of several good sketches.

After the comedy, we had a stand up buffet dinner, with mixed vegetables, potato rösti, braised beef cheek, braised pork, and falafel patties with spicy tomato sauce, along with beers and wines. The food was pretty good, with the beef cheeks delicious and tender. We filled up, and also went and tried a Microsoft HoloLens at one of the demos, which was fun.

Full of free food, we departed to head back to the apartment. But M. suggested stopping at a cafe for cakes and hot chocolate. It was still very early, just after 18:00, as the buffet had started at 17:00. M. led us to the cafe Kaffila. We passed three or four other cafes on the way which I pointed out, but M. said they didn’t “look cozy”. I saw what she meant when we arrived at Kaffila, which definitely had that “cozy” vibe. I ordered M. a large hot chocolate and asked the woman behind the counter about the cakes. I had my eye on what looked like a lemon cheesecake, but the adjacent cake with layers of cream looked intriguing too. She said the first was a pear cheesecake, which sounded good and I wanted to try it, right up until she said the other was a carrot cake and “that’s my favourite”. Well, the staff favourite had to be tried, so that’s what I had. It was indeed a very good carrot cake, with layers of cream filling.

Now truly stuffed, we headed back to the apartment for the night. The only issue outstanding is that when in the shoe repair place the man asked about my other shoe and I assured him it was fine. But… as I was leaving with my newly fixed left shoe, I noticed the heel on my right shoe starting to peel off… M. cracked up laughing when I told her this and said I’d have to go back and get the guy to fix the other shoe tomorrow.

Europe diary, day 5: ISO meeting begins

Wednesday 8 November

Again we had a bit of trouble sleeping fully through the night and were awake around 05:00. We got up just after 06:00 and had breakfast – the muesli we bought last night.

With time to spare, we decided to take a walk together over to the Tampere Market Hall, a covered market with various food stalls. M. was planning to visit later, perhaps for lunch, and wanted to get her bearings and figure out where it was relative to our apartment. We rugged up heavily for the cold outside, with our newly purchased thermal underclothes, then regular clothes, a heavy coat, scarves, beanie, and thick gloves. We ventured out at 07:45, still almost half an hour before sunrise, though the sky was lightening with twilight behind thick overcast. There were several other people walking around, also rugged up against the cold.

We crossed the swift-flowing and extremely cold-looking river, walking across a bridge that looks like it extends into a main street of the city, with many shops lining the sides. The Market Hall was just a couple of blocks past the bridge. Having found it, we backtracked the same way so M. could remember the route.

After stopping back at the apartment, I grabbed my backpack with laptop and headed off to the Tampere Technopolis conference centre for the first day of my ISO Photography meetings. It’s just a few blocks away, and I passed a nice old church that I paused to take photos of along the way. The Technopolis is right next to the huge Nokia Arena ice hockey stadium. And we actually have a great view of the stadium right out the window of our meeting room, which is up on the top (8th) floor of the conference centre.

There were about 30 delegates at the meeting, from Japan, USA, Germany, Finland, China, and me from Australia. We kicked off with the usual administrative session, going over previous meeting minutes and action items, then future meeting planning. I gave a report on the planning for the October 2024 meeting which I’ll be hosting in Sydney. Then we had liaison reports from associated standards and industry bodies. This led us up to lunch, which we took early to provide additional time for the afternoon technical sessions, which would potentially run long with a lot of discussion.

For lunch I took a short walk outside, a couple of blocks to a nearby shopping centre. Inside was a Turkish street food place named Baba’s, where I got a chicken kebab plate, sitting on tall table with stools outside the small shop, inside the mall with a view over the central atrium. The food was good! Also inside this mall was a climbing facility, with dozens of climbing walls with different themes and challenges. It looked cool, but was closed and nobody was climbing there.

Back at the meeting, the afternoon sessions were devoted to discussions of the two HDR standards the group is working on. The HDR format which was developed quickly into a Technical Specification is going to be upgraded to an International Standard. But the bulk of the discussion was on the new proposal for HDR gain map definitions, to allow mapping to SDR and other displays. This is a topic with a lot of technical details, and input from multiple people. The session went a bit long, past the scheduled 18:00 closing time, which itself was later than our usual 17:00 close, to try to squeeze in an extra hour for this topic.

I walked back to the apartment to collect M. and then we went out for dinner to a place we’d passed this morning, a brewpub called Pyynikin Brewhouse by the river that looked good. I’d checked it out online and booked a table for 18:45. We ordered some garlic bread, which turned out to be fingers of dark rye bread, served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce. What a great idea, making garlic bread out of rye bread! Why haven’t I seen that anywhere else? It was delicious. For mains M. had the vegetable burger, while I had to try the sautéed reindeer, served with mashed potatoes and beer-marinaded cranberries. The reindeer was sliced thin and was tender and tasty, with a slightly gamey flavour unlike any other meat. I also tried the Pyynikin stout beer to wash it down, and that was good too.

M. filled me on on what she’d been doing during the day while I was at the meeting. She checked out the Market Hall, grabbing some snacks from various stalls. Then she spent the day wandering around the shopping area, staying indoors a lot to avoid the cold. She found an artisan market called Stable Yards, consisting of a collection of small wooden buildings that she said was very interesting.

As we finished dinner, I overheard some familiar voices at a table across the room, behind a partition. Sure enough, five of the ISO delegates were there having dinner. We figured we must have made a good choice as one of them was the local Tampere meeting host and would have known where to take the others for a good meal.

We headed back to the apartment for the night, had showers, and rested up a bit before bed. Hopefully we’ll have a better night’s sleep tonight, as we’re both getting very tired by dinner time as our bodies slowly adjust to the time zone.

Late night Zoom meeting for photography standards

I’m up late tonight because I have a Zoom meeting for ISO Photography Standards, beginning at 11pm. I’m on a special ad-hoc committee to consider the issue of skin tone colours on photographic test charts. We specify various International Standard printed test charts that people can use to test camera colour reproduction. And of course skin tones are of crucial importance because of how sensitive we are to when they don’t look quite right, so many of the charts include patches of colours meant to represent skin tones. But the issue is that many of these were designed decades ago, and the representation is mostly based on European, light skin tones, with few or no darker tones.

So we’ve assembled a group of experts from around the world to consider how we specify these going forward, in a more inclusive way. We need to think about and discuss what range of colours to specify, how they should be reproduced and displayed, and how their reproduction should be quantified and measured. It’s complicated by the fact that our visual system is very finely attuned to skin tones, not just as flat colours that might be printed on a chart, but also by spectral reflectance, lighting and metamerism effects, subsurface scattering, angular effects, and salience effects caused by our brain’s innate ability to recognise the difference between an actual person and a patch of colour.

Some of the group members have been discussing in email the potential need to specify test charts with fully three-dimensional models of human faces with synthetic skin that includes translucent layers, which is a far cry from the traditional methods of testing camera colour reproduction with a printed flat chart with square patches of solid colour. So… I expect this Zoom meeting is going to be concentrating on what exactly the scope of our problem is, and how complicated we should go in addressing the fundamental problem of expanding the range of skin tones in our standards.

In other happenings, I basically spent all day today writing my lesson plans for this week’s new Outschool ethics classes, on the topics of Candy for the younger kids, and Fossil Fuels for the older ones. I also made quiche for dinner, using cauliflower leaves as the vegetable in the filling, which turned out pretty good. I’m pretty stoked to discover that the leaves on cauliflowers are not only edible, but yummy.

New content today:

Some family revelations

Friday was a very busy day. I had a two-hour Zoom meeting with the Standards Australia committee for photography, which I chair. This was the follow-up for the ISO meeting I attended in Japan last month, for which I wrote the summary report recently. It was a well-attended meeting, and we had a new committee member to welcome, which was good. I went through all of the technical and administrative discussions from Japan, filling everyone in on developments. And then we had some Australian admin stuff to attend to, like updating adoption of international standards that have been revised, and organising preparations for hosting an ISO meeting here in Sydney in October 2024. I also said I was planning to travel to the next meeting in Finland in November this year, for which I can most likely get travel funding.

After that meeting I went out to pick up Scully from my wife’s work, and then return home in time for three ethics classes in a row.

And then after a quick dinner I went over to a friend’s place for board games night. We ended up with five people attending, and played games of Jump Drive, Gin Crafters, Fujiyama, and then four of them set up for Codenames while I went home a bit early, since I needed to be up a little early today.

Because this morning my wife started a new hobby! She left early to go to a local community garden and do some gardening work there. She came home with a bag of vegetables, mostly various leafy greens but also some potatoes, radishes, and Jerusalem artichokes. I had some of the salad greens on my lunch sandwiches.

After lunch we drove up to Gosford to visit my mother. We haven’t seen her for several months, because of various cancellations due to COVID and other illnesses. We took the souvenirs from Japan for her: a box of matcha chocolates, and a jar of spicy Japanese seasoning to use on her cooking.

While we were chatting, conversation turned to travel, about our recent trip to Japan, and then when we went to Germany last year and saw my aunt (my mother’s sister). And my mother said she was so thankful that we arranged a Zoom call with her sister before she died last year. And then she said, “You know we weren’t really sisters, right?”

I said, “What??”

My mother proceeded to explain that her and her older sister had different fathers, and both were different to the father of their three younger siblings (my other two aunts and uncle). Basically, the man who I’d thought was my grandfather for my whole life until today, wasn’t my mother’s biological father. (Nor the father of my mother’s older sister.) She said that her older sister’s father was an American soldier, based in Germany at the end of World War II. And her own father… she had no idea who he was. My “grandfather” had formally adopted my grandmother’s two children when they got married, and then gone on to have three more children together.

I had no idea about any of this before today. So, the gist of it from my point of view is that… I don’t have any idea who my grandfather is. The man who I thought was my grandfather wasn’t. And both he and my grandmother are now dead, so there’s nothing to be learnt there. My mother says that her mother told her this at some point (roughly when she was middle-aged), and her mother had urged her to go find her real father in Germany, but my mother had stated that the man who raised her was her father as far as she was concerned, and she had no desire to seek out anyone else. So I think the window has closed to learning any more.

It’s not a life-shattering revelation, but it does feel a bit odd to learn this so late in my own life. I don’t think it makes any practical difference, but now there’ll always be a bit of wondering about the truth.

On the drive home we stopped off at a suburb on the northern end of Sydney for dinner. We found a place called Burger Hounds and had burgers. I tried the “Honey Badger”, a fried chicken burger with spiced honey and coleslaw. It was a bit sweet, spicy, and really delicious. This was a really good burger place and was doing a cracking business in people eating in and also take-away orders.

A couple of hours later and I’m still full from that burger…

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Caramel slice photos

Here are some photos of that caramel slice I made last night.

First, the base has been baked in the left, and I’m making the caramel filling.

Caramel slice: 1

I think the base is meant to be a bit more uniform in colour. I could have mixed the flour, coconut, brown sugar, and butter more thoroughly. But it didn’t affect the texture. Second, here’s the caramel filling after baking:

Caramel slice: 2

And then here are the final cut pieces of the slice, with the chocolate top layer:

Caramel slice: 3

And it tastes delicious! Overall I’m really happy with how it went.

Today I spent much of the day writing up my report on the ISO Photography Standards meeting that I attended in Japan, for Standards Australia. I have a meeting next week to fill in the Australian experts committee on all of the events from that Japan meeting.

And finally today, I know that much of the northern hemisphere is currently in the middle of record-breaking heatwaves. The stories have been shown here about heat in southern Europe, east Asia, and North America. But here in the south it’s winter at the moment, so we’re not especially hot, but we are also experiencing highly unusual warmth for this time of the year. It actually really feels like spring already, and it’s confusing many of the plants, with potentially devastating consequences for our crops. There was a story about it in the news today.

New content today: