Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Elegance of a full stop

So I am back to Louvain-la-Neuve once more. Ever since I left Belgium on the 22nd of August, I kept returning. First, on my way back home (Lisboa) from Munich, I had a transit in Brussels. I had some administrative things to do in Louvain-la-Neuve. I was contemplating whether I should just skip the second half of the trip and come to Louvain-la-Neuve from Brussels airport. However, since I had lots of luggage, I decided to continue the journey to Lisboa. Then I came to Brussels for the third time in a last minute flight that would cost me a lot. I thought I had finished my tasks, and returned in an equally expensive flight. However, I was wrong. I still had many more things left to do. I came back to Brussels the forth time! This time, it is colder - and it is autumn here now. Unlike in winter, the heater is still not on yet. Freezing in the apartment in the early morning. Autumn make you feel the end of life. I prefer a stable temperature - first summer, then stable winters with proper heating inside. Springs give hope - so I can accept them too!

This is not winter here yet. However, the temperature here now reaches the winter temperature of Lisboa. Also the feels-like temperature varies a lot too. In my lab, it feels colder than it is outside. I am not even sure how is it even possible.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Receiving the Books that I Reviewed!

This year has become the year that I have traveled most. Probably this will remain to be the year with most number of travels for quite some time for me. Sometimes it gets a bit too much with too many flights. Not to mention how expensive a flight can get when it is a last minute flight. All my one-way flights cost me almost 200 Euro (FAO/Faro/Portugal -> CRL/Chareloi/Belgium and BRU/Brussels/Belgium -> LIS/Lisboa/Portugal). My favorites are border crossings by land. Had one more chance to cross into the south of the Netherlands from Belgium. It was amazing.

Finally, returned to Portugal once more from Belgium. By this time, I also received my reviewer copies for the 2 books that I reviewed recently. These books discuss OpenDaylight. The last year of my PhD is going so eventful.

Belgium Almost Autumn

I had to go to Belgium once more from Lisboa to sign the contracts, since my EMJD-DC funding comes to an end. It was already getting colder compared to Lisboa. Summer is officially over for Belgium!

I also received the hard-copies of my recently published book, "Python Network Programming Cookbook - Second Edition", during my short time in Lisboa.

Friday, September 1, 2017

On-Demand Service-Based Big Data Integration: Optimized for Research Collaboration

Today I presented my paper "Obidos" at the VLDB DMAH workshop in Munich. The abstract and the presentation of the paper are given below:

Abstract: Biomedical research requires distributed access, analysis, and sharing of data from various disperse sources in the Internet scale. Due to the volume and variety of big data, materialized data integration is often infeasible or too expensive including the costs of bandwidth, storage, maintenance, and management. Óbidos (On-demand Big Data Integration, Distribution, and Orchestration System) provides a novel on-demand integration approach for heterogeneous distributed data. Instead of integrating data from the data sources to build a complete data warehouse as the initial step, Óbidos employs a hybrid approach of virtual and materialized data integrations. By allocating unique identifiers as pointers to virtually integrated data sets, Óbidos supports efficient data sharing among data consumers. We design Óbidos as a generic service-based data integration system, and implement and evaluate a prototype for multimodal medical data.

Please find the full text of the paper here and the presentation below:
I mostly worked on this paper while I was doing my internship at Emory University. This is also my first paper to get accepted from UCLouvain/Belgium. In this presentation, I have also included "A tale of Ana, Abdul, Viktoria, Pereira, Chen, and Raj", a subtle message I wanted to include in my presentation for quite some time.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tales of Currency Conversion - Czech Version

So I was in the Prague train station to get a ticket to Munich. I asked whether I can pay by Euro. The lady said, yes. Then she asked cash or card. I opted for card. Then it turned out, the card indeed asks to pay in the Czech Krones (CZK), where my bank will do the conversion. Of course, I am going to lose money in this. Euro is my currency. I have Euro in cash. Why would I need to do this double conversion - pay in CZK using my card where my bank will do the conversion? But the lady said, she has already input the card as the payment option and she was reluctant to change it now. I should have pretended that the card was not working. Then she would have no option other than accepting my Euro as cash.

Now, I have the total information from how much this cost me extra from the bank statements. Let's look into this:
I had the option to pay by 1495 CZK or 56.20 Euro by cash. Because of my stupidity to opt for card (and because of the lady's reluctance to change the payment mode - which should be just a "cancel"), I paid 1495 CZK by my bank card. My bank, as usual, gave a bad conversion rate and charged me 57.40 Euro for this. My bank charged me a conversion fee of total (0.02 + 0.57 + 0.04 + 0.98 =) 1.61 Euro. So in total, I lost (57.40 - 56.20) + 1.61 = 2.81 Euro. This is 2.81 / 56.20 = 0.05 = exactly 5% loss. That means, I lose 5 Euro per transaction of 100 Euro in CZK. Next time kids, pay more attention, and don't let a railway station counter clerk make decision for you just because she is too lazy to change the payment option! Better yet, choose the option wisely than complaining later. :P

Interestingly, the bus cost 50 Euro. So totally, the train cost 6.20 more (and counting my loss of 2.81 Euro, it cost me 9.01 Euro more).

In Romania, the situation was better. Their card readers had the option to choose Euro as the payment option at most of the places. Prague was a beautiful place though the people were not friendly at all.

Interestingly, in the train to Munich from Prague, I was able to pay in both CZK and Euro (for a cup of coffee on-board) as long as the train was in Czech. Once it crossed the border to Germany, CZK suddenly became unacceptable. :) Not complaining on this - I can actually understand that Euro is a preferred currency in foreign countries; but this is not something that works in a reciprocal manner. Economics 101. :) Eventually, I ended up with some CZK, which are going to be with me for a really really long time.