July 2009


Wednesday morning I went out into the field and took two gigapans, and was midway through a third one when my camera died. Wednesday evening I loaded the pictures from the first panorama into the Stitcher program, and it stitched all night. Yesterday morning I uploaded the panorama to Gigapan.org (and it took all morning!), and this morning I did the geolocating. So now I am ready to share my first Gigapan with y’all: please see here.

For the uninitiated (that is, most of you) a Gigapan is a robot that you mount to a tripod, then you mount your camera to it.

Camera mounted on Gigapan robot mounted on tripod - user side

Camera mounted on Gigapan robot mounted on tripod - user side

Above is what you see to operate the system, looking out into your panorama. Below is the “business side” of the system:

Camera mounted on Gigapan mounted on tripod - the "business" end

Camera mounted on Gigapan mounted on tripod - the "business" end

You turn your camera on to full zoom, then locate the upper left and lower right corners for your panorama. The unit then divides the field into r rows and c columns, and proceeds to take r x c pictures, starting at upper left, column by column, until it ends at the lower right. The Stitcher program then “seams” all of the pictures together AND creates layers from least resolution (full zoom out, like you will see in the first gigapan), then with increasing resolution as you zoom in. But, you have to upload the output of the Stitcher program to gigapan.org in order to view the panorama in that fashion.

I learned a lot in this process, like that I need to remember to take the autoexposure off – the sky was not two colors of blue, nor was it hazy, it was just an artifact of the camera setting. I also have to edit out one column of pictures on the left hand side of the panorama, as evidently one frame failed to take. All in all, not bad for a first effort.

I hope you go to the site and play with it. Zoom in, move around, zoom out, go to full screen. Look at some of the most popular Gigpans. It is majorly cool. Ultimately this and subsequent panoramas that Michael and I take here may find themselves into the Gigapan layer on Google Earth! I won’t be uploading any more panoramas until after I get back to the ATL on August 8. It takes about 30 minutes in the field to take the shots for one panorama. Then the stitcher takes overnight to put the tiles together. And the upload from here takes at least 5 hours. The last 2 steps limit my ability to do my other work, and I should be able to upload a lot faster from home or the office.

Other than that, it was very quiet yesterday, with only Susan, Leah, Kyra, and myself holding down the fort while the rest of the team was hiking Mt. Fengari. They got to 100 meters from the summit, but the guide would not allow them to proceed further due to concerns about the wind. They were not able to see the plains of Troy since they were on the wrong side of the peak. Nevertheless they had a fabulous time. They arrived back to the Xenia last night at 7:30, about 30 minutes before we were going to call in the Mounties, since we had expected them back before 5 pm. I am sure that Hugh and/or Abi will write more about the hike over at isamothrace.org.

Well I am off and into the site to take a few more Gigapans before lunch. More later…

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First off, an interesting fact about Samothrace: There are 33 goats for every resident of the island. (Factoid courtesy of Michael Page) Here are some of the 99,000 goats, skulking along the back fence that surrounds the Xenia Hostel:

Two goats lurking outside the back gate to the Xenia Hostel

Two goats lurking outside the back gate to the Xenia Hostel

Yesterday I made good progress. I now have some functional SAS code, so I can start doing analyses. And, I was able to go out yesterday and shoot my first Gigapan. I actually shot two, then started a third, but my camera batteries died in the middle of that one.

Last night was quiet around the Xenia. Amy, a recent Emory PhD (Art History) had organized a hike up Mt. Fengari. This is the highest point on the island, at over a mile in elevation. Homer recounted in the Iliad that Poseidon watched the Trojan War from atop Fengari.

Out of the 14 people who currently comprise the team (2 more arrive tomorrow, 4 others leave on Sunday), 10 wanted to make the climb. They hired a guide, and left at around 5 pm. The plan was to hike up as far as they could with the remaining daylight, then rest. They would then push for the top at dawn today. Although we enjoy great weather here at xx feet above sea level, Fengari is often shrouded in clouds. The guard had indicated that if it was cloudy, they would not go to the top. However, the day has dawned clear and bright. Although we cannot see Fengari from here, we cannot see any clouds anywhere, so the promise of seeing the plains of Troy should indeed become reality. (Note: since 1) I broke my foot last spring and am still reticent about hiking a rough terrain, 2) I have a bad ACL in my left knee, 3) I am a poky walker, and 4) I did not bring appropriate dress (pants, sweatshirt, hiking boots), I did not make the climb. However, I am setting a goal now to get into better shape so that I might be able to do the climb at some point in the future.)

With the diminished crowd, we had a slow evening. Kyra (one of the Emory Art History grad students) and I walked down to the Delphinia, the local fish restaurant here in Paleopolis, for a quiet supper, while Susan (another Emory Art History grad student) and Leah (a Harvard grad student in architecture), hiked up to Chora then on to a favorite restaurant, Sotero’s.

Fortunately, the slow evening left me enough time to start process the pictures from the Gigapan that I had shot in the morning. I started the stitching program at about 10 pm, and it was still processing at midnight when I finally gave up to sleep. However, the panorama was finished when I awoke at 6 am. Now I am uploading it. I was warned by the software program that uploading might take a while. And it is taking a while. If I am successful, I will post the link to it tomorrow.

That’s all for now. More later…

Power is one of our biggest issues here. There is only one wall plug in the data analysis laboratory, from which we have to power 4 computers, a printer, a fan, and several charger units. Here is a picture of what is plugged in right now:

Powering the data analysis laboratory

Powering the data analysis laboratory

One fan, one computer, one extension cord that powers 2 more computers, and a charger unit for the Total Station (our survey equipment). And we haven’t even opened up the printer box yet.

In the main workroom, the situation is even worse. Like us, they just have one electrical outlet for their much larger space, and power strips and extension cords are daisy chained throughout the room to supply electricity to between 8 and 12 computers (depending on who is out in the field at any given time), 3 printers, 2 fans, several desk lamps, and a partridge in a pear tree (actually, I made up that last item ).

We also go through batteries like nobody’s business. I thought I would be fine with a dozen or so ordinary AA batteries. However, we burned out the original power supply for the Total Station, so I gave 6 batteries to Jake so he could continue with the survey, and Michael needed some as well, since the recharging units were in his luggage that did not arrive until last night. Moreover, between Michael and I we are carrying three Gigapan units (see http://gigapan.org/index.php for an explanation of what this device does, and I’ll post more links to Gigapans once some of the images have been stitched together). Anyway, each Gigapan takes 6 AA batteries.

Thus, I now need to publicly confess to hubby dear: Honey, you were right and I was wrong. I should have taken the battery charger and the rechargeable batteries.

So now that I have eaten my slice of humble pie for the day, it is time for me to see download and stitch the two Gigapans that I took this morning. I started a third, but my camera batteries died in the middle.

More later!

Well, yesterday it was back to work. I piddled around for a couple of hours in the morning, reading the weekend’s email and blogging. Then it was time to get serious about data. (DRAGNET theme playing in the background.)

My workspace: I'm a 2-fisted computer user!

My workspace: I'm a 2-fisted computer user!

Bonna wants to add another building to our analysis (The Propylon of Ptolemy II). So I talked with Maggie and Susan (the queens of the database) about obtaining a dataset for those blocks.

The data laboratory

The data laboratory

Above are (front table, left to right) Susan, Maggie, Amy, Bonna (facing away), and Kyra, as well as (left to right) Jake and Yong working at the back table.

After much back and forth I think that I finally understand the answer to a question that had been bugging me since our initial analyses last fall. The question is a technical one, and I will write more on that later. It will be listed over on the right hand side, under “About this blog.” But, in the meantime I had best get back to work, with no day-dreaming, staring out at the view!

The view from where I sit...

The view from where I sit...

More later…

Good morning!

I left you Saturday afternoon. I returned to the hostel, and had to do laundry. Since I had been traveling in Germany and Poland for 2 weeks prior, I was a little short in the clean clothes department. It was an adventure doing laundry when the labels on the washing machine are all in Greek!

close-up of washing machine in hostel

close-up of washing machine in hostel

Later we drove up the hill to Chora, the capital city of the island, to have a late dinner at “1900”.

1900 Restaurant in Chora

1900 Restaurant in Chora

Chora was hopping on Saturday night and 1900 was full. Nevertheless we had an excellent meal.

We had a very restful Sunday. Since we don’t work on Sunday, we get up later and have breakfast at 9:30. Yesterday’s menu featured stuffed French toast. After breakfast we enjoyed a lazy morning, listening to music, journaling, sketching and painting.

Here is a picture (left to right) of Maggie (legs only), Hugh, Sarah, Yong, and Jake, all enjoying the lazy morning.

Enjoying a lazy Sunday morning

Enjoying a lazy Sunday morning

Here is the rest of Maggie:

Maggie enjoying the morning

Maggie enjoying the morning

At noon Jake, Hugh, Abi, and Sarah headed off to hike to the waterfalls at Therma. Several others went to sun themselves on the beach in front of our hostel. Yong walked up to Chora to sit in a coffeehouse and sketch. Amy, Bonna, Michael, Bailey, and I went to the beach at Kypos. This is where the road along the north side of the island ends. The beach is stony, which is amazingly comfortable as long as you aren’t trying to run across it.

Bonna on Kypos beach

Bonna on Kypos beach

After the beach we went to a taverna up on the mountain, Taverna Karydies. Karydies is the Greek word for walnuts, and the taverna is named for the walnut trees that shade it. The taverna is reknowned for its bean dish, but of course I forgot to take a picture of that. But here is a picture of horiatiki, or Greek salad, consisting (at a minimum) of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese, all drizzled with olive oil. At Taverna Karydies we found thinly sliced onions and peppers added to the mix. This is my absolute favorite Greek dish:

Horiatiki and a kilo of retsina at Taverna Karydies

Horiatiki and a kilo of retsina at Taverna Karydies

We also shared a kilo of retsina, the local Greek white wine. On the island wine is routinely served in these metal pitchers.

After the late lunch we came back to lounge around for the rest of the afternoon. A team prepared supper: a chickpea stew served over rice and Greek meatballs. After a rousing game of charades, it was time for bed.

Now we are up and at it again. I’ll write more tomorrow…

Kali mera!

That’s “Good morning” y’all.

I finally made it. Yesterday Michael and I retrieved my luggage from the airport in Alexandroupolis. Who knew that nobody from Aegean airlines worked between 11 am and 4 pm? So when we arrived at the airport at 11:30 (what was our hurry, we didn’t need to catch the ferry until 3 pm?) we found nobody home. Hence we had to cool our heels in the airport for 4 hours or so. Fortunately the airport has AC (although no wifi) so we were comfortable, and able to work, although not on-line.

Michael’s luggage was not on hand. Nevertheless we came on to the island, catching the 9 pm ferry. Bonna and Bailey met us in Kamariotissa and drove us back to the site. ¬†We have taken over the Xenia Hostel at the site. I have a lovely private room with a half bath, out of everyone’s way.

We have a very structured work day. Up at 6 am, breakfast at 6:30, then to the museum at 7. We break for lunch at noon or so, then back again at 3, working until 6 or 7. We share cooking and cleanup chores for breakfast and lunch. Bonna’s original plan called for eating out every night, but now they are beginning to cook supper as well. Obviously we work Saturdays as well.

I have moved up in the world. This year I actually merit an office, with a table which is more than two sawhorses with pieces of scrap lumber spread between them. Since there are no conservator’s on the island this year, Michael, Jake, and I are sharing the conservator’s room.I have a nice view out the doorway, through which I can see a little bit of ocean. Matthew will also share this space once he arrives later this week.

Here is a picture of Michael (R) and Jake (L) looking across the table from where I am sitting:

IMG_2011

Speaking of work, I had best start. More later…

PS. This was written earlier this morning, but due to a hiccup in the internet connection, I am only able to post it now.

Hello Blogland,

I left Atlanta on July 9 and then spent two weeks traveling through Germany and Poland with my family. Yesterday in Frankfort, Germany, we parted ways – they flew home and I began my trip to Samothrace.

Due to pricing, I flew to Paris, then Athens, and then on to Alexandroupolis, with a planned night stay. My itinerary then called for me to catch a ferry at 9 am this morning. Unfortunately, my luggage did not make the flight from Paris to Athens, so I have to hang around here and grab it. I will take a ferry later today. I am anxious to get a new set of clothes.

In the Athens airport I met Jake Buttera, a doctoral student in classics at Duke University. He was on site last year and will be continuing this year to help “shooting points” (explanation to come in a later post) and “other duties as required” (no explanation needed for that!). It was great to catch up with Jake and to learn of all of the events in his life over the last year.

Michael Page also joined us on the flight from Athens. Michael is the geospatial librarian at Emory. He will be creating a georeferenced map as well as doing some really neat stuff with photography.

Michael’s luggage also did not make the flight from Athens, so now we will both be enjoying some extra time in Alexandroupolis

Last night Jake, Michael, and I made our way down the city park along the coast, and stopped at Milo’s for dinner. We had almost finished when Bailey and Hugh (Bonna’s husband and son) walked in. We sat and chatted while they ate.

We finally got back to the hotel around 10. A few minutes later the three of us found ourselves back in the lobby to get the wifi signal. I was in email with my family – the car’s battery died, then they could not find the ticket to get out of the lot. But otherwise their return journey was uneventful.

More later…