About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

04 August 2007


In the last two weeks of May, and the first two weeks of June, I submitted four conference papers. Each paper was effectively a chapter from my thesis. Over the past week or so, I have been notified that three of the four papers were accepted. So I have been accepted to present papers at:

"DRM Use License Negotiation Using ODRL V2" at the 2007 Virtual Goods Conference sponsored by ODRL and IFIP TC-6, in Koblenz, Germany. This is one of my big contributions of my research work, and one of the longest running components of my thesis. This conference is in mid October.

"Persistent Access Control: A Formal Model for DRM" at the 2007 DRM Workshop at ACM CCS in Washington DC, USA. This is the third successive paper I will be presenting at this conference, and my personal favourite conference. The paper is also one of the cornerstones of my thesis, where I present, as far as I know, the first formal definition for DRM as a form of access control. This conference is in the last week of October, first week of November.

"Experiences in Implementing a Kernel-Level DRM Controller" at the 3rd International Conference on Automated Production of Cross Media Content for Multi-Channel Distribution (AXMEDIS) in Barcelona, Spain. This has taken a long time, and is the paper written together with the Marlon Paulse and Duncan Bennett, who implemented this as part of their honours project. The conference as a whole is not really relevant to my work, and am not even sure if I can go for the full conference, since I am supposed to be finishing up my internship around the same time, and there is a limit of time I can take off to go travelling round the world. This conference is on the last three days of November.

As for the paper that was rejected, to be honest it was a very long shot, so I am not too surprised. But, if I did not try, there was a 100% chance of it not being accepted! The paper was submitted to ACM DRM 2007.

31 July 2007

Pergamon Museum

I love museums, and the Smithsonian Museums are a major attraction for me in Washington DC (I think I have been to every one of them around Washington DC). The British museum has a huge collection of all the stuff they stole (sorry acquired through gifts) from their colonies, the Cairo Museum has the Tutenkamen, my personal favourite has been the Smithsonian Air and Space Museums (there are two of them) in Washington DC simply because of its massive collection: the Spirit of St Loius, the Lunar Lander back up, moon rocks, a Concorde, a space shuttle and a Black Bird. So given all that, to say that I think that the Pergamon is the most impressive museum I have ever been to, makes it quite special.

The Pergamon museum's collection is largely composed of art from the ancient world: Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Assyrian and Sumerian empires as well as a large collection of Islamic art. In terms of actual items on display, it is probably a lot smaller than other similar collections; but what is impressive is not only the quality but the scale.

To start off, take the Great Altar of Pergamon, after which the museum takes its name. I think pictures say a thousand words ... so I will leave it at that :P

I love the detail in the work. The is is a close up of the hand of Zeus. Part of the arm is missing, but his Torso is still largely intact. The hole allowed him to actually hold something that was meant to resemble a lightning strike he was about to do on some giant he was fighting.

The collection of other art works from the Greek and Roman empires include a recreation of a Greek temple (of Athena IIRC) where the level of detail in ancient buildings is truly astounding. The statues and artifacts are largely very well preserved, which is in itself quite impressive.

This is part of the top of the pillars of these temples. The lion's mouth acts like a gutter taking away rain water from the roof.

One of the other big attractions, Market Gate of Miletus, is under restoration. It is mentioned in the audio guide (every one gets an audio guide ... much easier than writing the descriptions in multiple languages), that this is one of the largest and heaviest archaeological installations in any museum.

But walk through the Ishtar Gate and then there is start of the Babylonian and Assyrian section. This gate and the recreation of Procession Street of Babylon (with only the width of the street being the only change from the original) is more colourful but less dramatic that the Altar of Pergamon. Built by Nebuchardrezzar II, it was apparently once considered part of the Seven Wonders of the World before being replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The actual collection of works from the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires is a lot smaller than the British Museum I think, but it certainly wins on the impressive scale.

The Islamic Art collection is lot more than a collection of carpets, and again, there is a a grand scale about it. Huge prayer murals, intricate wood carvings, and yes, well, carpets.

There is also a partial restoration of the Mshattas Palace, a now deserted palace from the Jordanian desert. The real origins of the palace are unknown, so it is rather mysterious. Oh yeah, this is on the second floor!

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

The famous poem, Mending Wall, by Robert Frost, the only one I vaguely remember from high school, in a convoluted way, could be an apt description of the Berlin wall. Before the wall, a quick history of divided Germany: after WW2, the Allied powers carve up Germany between themselves into four parts (the Americans, the British, the French and the Soviets), according to population. The soviets, who are effectively on one side get a large chunk of Germany, which include the whole of Berlin. The other allied powers are reluctant to give Berlin away, so they divide Berlin into 4 parts also, again in terms of population.

The Iron Curtain is a well known term, but lesser known as a wall. So, people wanting to flee East Germany, rather chose to get into West Berlin (as refugees, who were accepted with open arms) which was easier to get into. Facing mass migration, the Soviets built the wall around West Berlin, almost over night. Initially it was a simple wall, not too high (there is a picture in the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer where residents from opposite sides of the wall are shaking hands), but it later grew to two walls, with an effective dead zone inside with land mines, barbed wire and patrols.

The wall scarred Berlin - it is clear even now, with many parts of where the wall used to be still laying barren. Neighbourhoods were torn up, and off course there is the case of the famous escapes. What I find most interesting is how the remaining wall has been treated.

A large part of it, at the East Side Gallery, is exactly that - an open air art gallery. Much of the exhibition is distinctly anti-war, anti-wall reminding people that even after the fall of the Berlin wall, new ones are being built elsewhere: whether it is in the Middle East (the now, not too mentioned wall in the West Bank) to the fence along Southern US/Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration. These walls are probably more in the line of what Robert Brown was talking about, but neither of these are et along the lines of the Berlin wall - where one nation were effectively prisoners.

East Side Gallery: Sadly there is just so much graffiti, some works are beyond recognition.

Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer: Includes a recreation of the dead yone, complete with patrol path, and some sort of machinery.

Church of Reconciliation was originally in the dead zone, and eventually demolished by the East Germans. This is the reconstructed church.

Checkpoint Charlie: Well known for the many incidences that took place here ...

Remembering Since the fall of the wall, Berlin is trying to keep it in memory. A brick line runs along parts of the areas where the wall used to be.