Saturday, December 31, 2016

A few things that made my 2016 interesting..

Magnificent Vaduz
2016 was a different year compared to the previous. It had a large share of sad moments. This post discusses only the happy moments and the memories that make my 2016 interesting. The order is random and does not indicate the order of significance or importance.

1. A year-end vacation after a long time.
Winter in 3 countries - Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein!

2. New year's eve in Zurich. 
Eating all the street food and high calories! It was also my first time outside Lisboa for the new year's eve, since 2012.

3. Playing with snow in Malbun, Liechtenstein. 
It is after more than 3 years!

4. Summer in the Bahamas.
That was a long weekend in Nassau. Blue beaches - private and public ones. Reminding Maldives 2015.

5. An extended internship at Emory University.
It was a productive one. Walks in Atlanta were remarkable too.

6. ICWS 2016 in San Francisco
My best conference experience so far!

7. Berlin, presenting 3 papers at IC2E 2016
Berlin has become my most favourite city that I haven't lived in yet! My first (and only, so far) doctoral symposium too.

8. CoopIS 2016 in Rhodes
A beautiful Greek island. It was still sunny and pleasant in the autumn.

9. A long walk all over the historic village of Kostrzyn/Küstrin in Poland.
Crossing the border of Germany and Poland!

10. Relaxing weekend in Viseu
A romantic town in Portugal, set in the Christmas mood.

Daily and nightly walks and restaurant crawls.

12. Winning a new laptop.

Feeling lucky! 

13. AMIA-CRI 2016 San Francisco
A podium abstract presentation and a poster presentation. My first poster, and also first time in a medical conference.

14. EMJD-DC Spring Event in Costa da Caparica.
Visiting from Atlanta! A long travel.

15. Finishing touches of Atlanta.
First time selling stuff, and donating things in bulk.

16. Foggy Vaduz castle.
 Liechtenstein is a cute little country!

An early morning train ride and walk.

18. Snowy white trees of Uetliberg, Switzerland.
Cold, but pleasant.

19. Return to Lisboa
An intermediate era waiting for my move to Belgium early next year.

20. Cooking innovations
Thanks to the YDFM (Your Dekalb Farmers Market), which offered variety of food products and vegetables at a cheap price, from all over the world.

21. Birthday in the sky.
Not sure where exactly that was. Possibly in the skies of Russia. Since I was flying eastwards, the 00:00 must have shrunk somewhere in the timezone changes.

Second time to Shenzhen and also my second visit to Splendid China. Good memories.

23. Canon EOS M2.
Taking it everywhere I travel. :)

24. Naming the projects and papers.
It is fun, always.

Once more, after 3 years.

26. Applying for visas, after a long time!
To the US and Belgium. Not that I am a fan of visa applications.

27. Olaias metro station.
This is one of the most beautiful metro stations of Europe. This becomes our daily stop the last 3 months.

28. Feeling the heat of being a "senior PhD student".
I am in the middle of the third year. Means, 5 semesters gone. Only 3 remaining. Not a new student anymore.

29. Attending a number of conferences to present my papers.
Last year, I missed many due to clashes in schedules and visa issues. This year was better in that aspect.

30. Looking at the future
Awaiting an "intermediate year of 2017" with more migrations of PhD mobility, and a "final year of 2018", to graduate!

Thanks for reading my list till the end. If you are really interested, you may also read the blog posts on the previous years as well. Happy new year everyone. Hope 2017 will be more positive and bring us more happy news than 2016. I am also reaching the 30s in 2017. This makes 2016 my last complete year in 20s. Feeling old. :D

New vs. old memories

View from the top, Üetliberg
We were considering spend the year end in Porto, a place that we visited in mid of 2013, after completing the first year of our MSc. It would have refreshed our memories from 3.5 years ago, as we did not visit the place lately. However, we changed the plan at the last moment to spend some time in Zurich and the neighbouring towns. It is a cold winter - yet not much snow remaining in Zurich except for Üetliberg. We hiked Üetliberg in a foggy morning!  Magnificent views. The trip was also a very cleverly planned one. Proud of myself. :P

This was the first new year we spent away from Lisboa. We were in Lisboa for each new year since the 2013 new year. 2017 is different. :) The last time we had a year end trip was in 2013 December (to Helsiki and Copenhagen). However, we had returned to Lisboa for the 2014 new year. This was a year end trip after 3 long years. Good memories.

End the year in walks!

Cloudy Feldkirch!
We completed the year with hikes in 3 cities/towns: i) Zurich, Switzerland, ii) Feldkirch, Austria, and iii) Vaduz, Liechtenstein. A hike in the Feldkirch is a good one, from the city center to the wild park! Give it a try even if you are not into visiting wild animals in parks or zoological gardens.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Liechtenstein by Public Transport

The beautiful Liechtenstein buses
Liechtenstein is one of the cutest countries in the world, which also is happened to be doubly-landlocked. Going there from a far away country needs some planning since it does not have its own airport. Zurich airport is the closest and most convenient. From there, you have at least two options: Either to i) take a train to Feldkirch, Austria and a bus from there to Vaduz, Post, Liechtenstein, or ii) a train to Sargans, Switzerland, and a bus from there to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Vaduz is the capital of Liechtenstein and the royal family still lives there in the castle.

The Liechtenstein bus 11 run between Sargans and Feldkirch via Schaan (the most populous city of Liechtenstein) and Vaduz. 12E, a faster (lesser stops) bus runs between Vaduz and Sargans too. So you may reach Schaan or Vaduz either from north from Feldkirch or from south from Sargans. The route from Sargans is the shortest and cheapest. The bus traverses the little doubly-landlocked country with magnificent views. So you may do what we did: Go from Feldkirch, and return through Sargans, hence avoiding going through the same route twice.

It is also possible to go to Buchs, Switzerland by train from Zurich and take bus 12 from there to reach Vaduz, Post from the west. In this option, 12 goes till Triesen via Vaduz. So if your destination is Triesen instead of Vaduz, this option will be the best. There may also be connections between the villages of Liechtenstein and other towns of Switzerland and Austria. However, given our option of taking the train from Zurich and having Vaduz as the destination, these 3 (Sargans, Buchs, and Feldkirch) are the only options that I have identified.

The beautiful Malbun!
Sargans -> Zurich train second class costs 33 CHF and 1 hour (euro accepted with a decent conversion rate in the train stations). Zurich -> Feldkirch second class costs 48 CHF and 1 hour 30 minutes. The bus each way costs around 6 CHF. If you would like to go to other villages, you have to get down at either Schaan or Vaduz and take another bus. The buses are frequent - runs once in 30 minutes, and the journey takes around 30 minutes too.

We also went to Malbun, a beautiful ski resort and mountainous village, from Vaduz, by bus! The Liechtenstein buses are frequent and timely. You may plan your trip with the help of Google Maps, which is up to date with the trip times.

In Vaduz, you may hike (or drive or ride a bicycle) up to the castle. The castle itself is not open to public. But you will witness frozen streams in the winter and a bird's eye view to the city. It is an alternating climb between two lanes Haldenweg and Schlossweg. Though this is a bit confusing, you will be just fine, following the crowds or by following the visible castle up there!

The people of Liechtenstein speak German. However, all who interacted with me (including the drivers and restaurant waitresses) spoke perfect English. I must warn that it is an expensive country (just like Zurich)! Worth a visit in winter to the snowy mountains!

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Dirty way to the Social Media Stardom

Twitter has somehow created a class hierarchy with its verified accounts. Anyone can receive a "blue tick" as long as they have met a certain criteria. Doesn't it sound fancy to have 10K followers when you just follow no one except the God? That is what these unethical/fake Twitter stars are doing by exploiting a flow in Twitter's workflow.

First, you will receive a follow from a star/verified account from some motivational speaker, influencer, marketer, leader, or a king of jungle jiggy bamboo. You follow them back because you are a nice person who follow everyone else back (probably with an exception of obvious bots), or because you feel happy to be followed by a "star-Tweep".

One week passes by. By this time, the star-Tweep would have unfollowed you already. You would not notice, as Twitter does not inform or alert you on unfollowers. On the other hand, the star-Tweep, this is how he/she became the star in the first place. You will still receive their noise in your time line. This is scam also common in YouTube. Not possible in Facebook or LinkedIn, as there the connection option is two-way, unlike the Twitter and YouTube follow. It might be the case with Google+ too. But I never used it long enough to know its tricks. I am not sure about other social media (such as Instagram), as I am not a user.

I use TweepsMap these days to find these culprits. Trust me, every week I have around 5 of these guys. Those with "10 K followers and 5 K following", following me first only to unfollow me within a week after I followed them back.

The last offender was someone (a company, judging from their handle) with "Following: 4,975, Followers: 7.8K", who followed me first to unfollow me within a week after I followed back.

Bye for now, Twitter. You used to be a way to announce "eating salad now", and you have grown up to be a mass weapon for marketing, politics, and all the similar things.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Travels in Portugal

Viseu is ready for Christmas!
I am in my 5th year in Portugal. Finished 2 years of MSc/EMDC, and 2 complete years of PhD/EMJD-DC - and currently in the 3rd year of my PhD with one semester almost complete. I can divide my stay in Portugal into multiple eras:

1) Arrival: The first semester of EMDC (arrival till end of 2012). I was waiting for my grant. Combined with new friends and new country, this was an exciting period.

2) Travels and Fun: The second semester of EMDC (first half of 2013). This was the period I was travelling around and enjoying Portugal. By end of this era, I returned to Sri Lanka, before going to Sweden to continue the 3rd semester of my MSc. I also visited Porto during this time.

3) The return: This is by far the longest period, starting from 2014 new year, my master thesis semester / the final semester of EMDC, and the first 2 years of EMJD-DC, my PhD. This period ended with my departure to the USA for my internship in Emory University, Atlanta.
Portugal was almost like my second home during this era, and I made numerous local and international travels during this time.
Among the local travels, remarkably, 

Another random trip to south: (Portimão: 12th - 13th, September 2015)

4) An intermediate era: This marked the end of 2016 and early 2017. A short stay in Portugal following my return from Atlanta and waiting for my departure to Belgium to continue the latter part of my PhD in my second university.

Among the local travels,

It is winter here and enjoying my 5th winter in Portugal.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Naming the papers/projects

The most interesting part of a paper/project is giving it a short name. So far, I had the privilege to name a few papers with interesting names, during my masters and PhD. Given below is a list of my works. This blogs an on-going work, and is not a complete list.

2. FIRM 
A view of Óbidos
Portuguese Cities/towns
2. Óbidos (on-going work)

1. SD-CPS (submitted)

Extensions to known frameworks
1. Cloud2Sim / Cloud²Sim

Names surrounding the core technology
1. SDNSim 
2. xSDN 

Names sounding technical
1. MEDIator
2. MediCurator

Animals or birds
1. Cassowary  

Cute names 
1. ∂u∂u 

Made-up names (almost an abbreviation)
1. ViTeNA

Historical names
1. Mayan