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Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Korean Drumming at FOSS4G Seoul

Posted by smathermather on October 3, 2015

Korean Drumming at FOSS4G Seoul:

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Pictures from my last few weeks.

Posted by smathermather on October 3, 2015

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Mini-series on Korean words, part 4: Apologies

Posted by smathermather on October 3, 2015

In order to function at a most basic level in a given society (which I do not yet in the South Korean context), it is good to know the basic words of courtesy — the equivalents of “Excuse me”, “Pardon me”, “Nice to meet you”, “Hello”, “Goodbye”, etc..

Today we’ll talk about how to say “I’m sorry.” Between talking across cultural / language / expectation differences, and just spending time with individuals you might not know well, being able to apologize is a very important tool in the toolkit.

Hangul for "I'm sorry".

Hangul for “I’m sorry”.

Mian (mee ahn) is the root of one way of apologizing in Korean. Often you’ll be saying this formally, so Mianheyo (미안해요) would be what you would say to apologize. If you don’t need the formal, usually you’ll say “Mianhe” 미안해.

For a more comprehensive coverage of apologies (plus pronunciation!), see Sweet and Tasty TV’s coverage of this:

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Uninformed botanical musings

Posted by smathermather on September 28, 2015

I had the good pleasure of attending FOSS4G Seoul. One of the organizers (Heegu Park) early on told me, in response to the workshop I planned, something to the effect of “Whatever you need, Steve, ask for it. Nothing is impossible.”  The organizers truly were capable of fulfilling any request.  More on that later.

Last time I was in Seoul, I took lots of pictures. This time, so few, I’m afraid. But I took a few. I need some help with botanical sleuthing.

 Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, Geauga County, Ohio

Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, Geauga County, Ohio


There is a flower native to the Eastern United States called jewelweed. Jewelweed is no exciting flower, but common in moist places, useful for treating poison ivy and other skin ailments. It’s medicinal and is among the first plants that I learned in walking in the woods in Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio. In the floodplains of Halfway Creek near my childhood home, it was common to the point of being weedy. (The above photo is from Geauga County in Northeast Ohio).
While hiking near Ongnyeobong Peak (옥녀봉 — the romanization is based on the sign at the peak, but I’m not sure it’s right) south of Seoul I saw this little impatiens in very similar habitat:

Unknown impatiens, Gwacheon City, South Korea

Unknown impatiens, Gwacheon City, South Korea

Anyone know it’s common or botanical name?


Location of unknown impatiens

Location of unknown impatiens


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Time lapse

Posted by smathermather on September 28, 2015

I posted this on Twitter and Facebook, but I really like how this time lapse turned out. This is shot in a single take with a single video. Maybe wordpress won’t over-compress it like the others… .

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Mini-series on Korean words, part 3: Agglutinative language

Posted by smathermather on August 31, 2015

Short linguistics aside

For me, understanding a language, beyond a memorization of terms, is predicated on the idea that I understand something of the underlying logic to the language. So today, instead of a Korean word, we’ll talk about the term agglutinative. (bless you)

In short, what it means is that a language uses a lot of prefixes, stem words, and suffixes, and that these components of larger words don’t change their sound in order to be put together.

Let’s take some English words as a counter example. When we look at English numbering, we have this weird thing that happens in the teens. The first thing we notice, is that for numbers between 10 and 20, we call them teens not tens. English is not agglutinative, it is fusional. When prefixes and suffixes come into play, often (but not always) the sounds change. Think of thirteen (not three-ten or three-teen) vs. Fourteen.  Fifteen is another departure — we might expect five-teen.

And don’t even get me started on twenty (two tens), or thirty (three tens)… .

Korean Numerals

By contrast, Sino-Korean numerals are agglutinative.

FYI, in the Korean Language, there are two numbering systems: the native Korean system, and the Sino-Korean system. More on that another time.

So, if I say the number three (sam), the number ten (sheep), and the number three again (still sam), I get 33, or sam sheep sam: 삼십삼. If I want to say 13, that’s just sheep sam, or 십삼. You prefer the number 88? Well that’s 팔십팔, or pal sheep pal.

FYI, the proper romanization of the word 10 (십) is “sip”, but as the s sound in front of the long e sound is pronounced sh, we’ll just consider the whole process an homage to counting sheep. Somehow apropos given the nation is 13 time zones away from me… .


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Mini-series on Korean words, part 2: Land of Mountains and Sea

Posted by smathermather on August 30, 2015

A good logo is hard to come by. I love the logo of Korean National Park Service. It’s simple, beautiful, has elements of complexity to it, and makes a simple statement: land of mountains and sea. The mountains and the sea are sources of life in Korea, from the resources and farming found on the edge of the mountains, the peace found hiking and visiting temples in the mountains, to the resources and seafood found in the sea. More to the point with KNPS, many of the national parks lands are reserves of mountains or protected ocean.

Today we will look at the second word in our mini-series on Korean words (see the first here): the Korean word for mountain: san.

The Korean character 'san'

Look to the individual characters that make up the syllable, and we see ㅅ(s),ㅏ(ah),ㄴ(n). This is a simple enough word.

As Seoul is surrounded by mountains, you will encounter san as a syllable in many contexts. Take for example a mountain to the north of Seoul, Bukhan Mountain, or Bukhansan: 북한. This name mirrors one of the names of North Korea: Bukhan. Buk means north, Han is the river that flows through Seoul. So the full name is “Mountain north of the Han”.

Buhkansan 북한산 is also the name of the national park that contains the mountain it is named for.

If you visit Seoul for FOSS4G, I highly recommend a hike in the mountains. It’s a rare megacity and capital that contains a 30 square mile national park inside its boundary. If you do visit, I recommend doing so during the week — weekend visits are very busy.

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Google Maps won’t help you much in Seoul…

Posted by smathermather on August 29, 2015

That could be my whole blog post. Just a PSA. Google Maps in Seoul is like Apple Maps was when they launched — dangerously inaccurate. *I don’t know what is helpful on iOS. I traveled last year with Android only, and my searches so far on iOS are coming up short.*

So what should you use? Anything OSM-based isn’t too bad. I really like OSMAnd. I haven’t done any deep analyses in this space, but OSMAnd has served me well. Also, you can record tracks, so if you see something wrong or out of date, OSMAnd will help you fix it in OpenStreetMap.

Icon for OSMAnd

I adore Seoul’s subway system. It’s considered one of the largest in the world,  ranks among the best, cleanest, etc.. Many stations are like 5 story malls that happen to have trains at the bottom; it’s really surreal. Oh, and for an English speaker it is not hard at all to navigate. Almost everything is in romanized characters / English + Korean, and the trains play nice sounding music as they approach.

It doesn’t hurt to have a good app, however. Subway Korea, though a little strange in interface is absolutely amazing once you use it. I say the interface is weird — it’s just transit graphic at a single static scale (it doesn’t change appearance as you zoom). But that graphic allows you to route between locations calculating train changes as necessary, let’s you optimize for time vs. number of train changes, and allows you to do routes by way of particular stops you may want to take on the way. It is great in large part because it’s designed with a deep understanding of how transit works and the kinds of questions people who don’t know the system need answers to. That’s a tall task. I can recall my first time navigating public transit in Boston, Cleveland, New York, DC, San Francisco, Portland, and Denver. Each of the above (even Portland!) was a little more difficult than Subway Korea and Seoul’s amazing wayfinding.

Icon for Subway Korea

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And I will fly ten thousand miles…

Posted by smathermather on July 22, 2015

Contemplating FOSS4G 2015, Seoul, South Korea | SEPTEMBER 14TH – 19TH, 2015, but don’t speak Korean? That’s ok. You will be treated oh so well even without Korean.

But…  if you want to show your hosts and hostesses a little care in return, maybe learn a little basic Korean. I highly recommend the sweetandtasty channel on YouTube, starting with the word “Love” or “sarang”. You’ll love the place, the people, and the food.


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OpenDroneMap — Humanitarian uses of outputs

Posted by smathermather on January 12, 2015

OpenDroneMap Logo


In response to a recent query about OpenDroneMap, I’m writing a quick summary here, and then a brief write-up on how it could relate to humanitarian response / crisis mapping applications, as discussed in my Deep Dive session at International Conference of Crisis Mappers in New York, this past November.  Ahem. The summary:

OpenDroneMap: Open Source Toolkit for processing Civilian Drone Imagery

“OpenDroneMap is an Open Source Toolkit for processing Civilian Drone Imagery. As small unmanned aerial systems have dropped in price and become readily affordable, software for making meaningful geographic data from civilian drones has not. Until now.

“OpenDroneMap is fully Free and Open Source postprocessing tool for highly overlapping unreferenced imagery, turning unstructured data (simple photos) into structured geographic data such as colorized point clouds, digital surface models, textured digital surface models, and highly detailed orthophotography.

The project can be found at”

So, cool stuff. But what does that mean? What do we really get at the end of the day, so to speak, at least within the context of crisis response. To answer this question, I’ll divide this into two categories — goodies we get now and goodies we will get later as the project matures.

Products we get now from OpenDroneMap:

  1. Point Cloud
  2. Textured Mesh
  3. Up to 1-2cm (or so) orthophotos

What can we do with 2cm imagery in the crisis response context? My colleagues at ICCM addressed this question:

  • Structural Mapping
  • Logistics and Supply Planning
  • Count People — IDPs, Protests
  • Identify Equipment / Weaponry
  • Finding people (search and rescue)
  • Finding Animals (conservation)

Products we get later from OpenDroneMap (as the project matures and adds features):

As to future products from the toolchain we will derive the following:

  • 4cm Terrain / Surface Models
  • Off-Nadir Imagery

Again, drawing from the brainstorming at ICCM:

4cm Terrain / Surface Models yield us:

  • Off-road route planning
  • Hydrology / innundation estimation
  • Damage assessment — rubble volume estimation
  • Agricultural Planning

Off-Nadir Imagery:

  • Forensics
  • Damage Assessment (useful for building especially which often won’t show damage on roof)
  • Context for video footage


The UAViators site lists the following (complementary and otherwise related to the above) uses of UAVs to support humanitarian efforts:

Together, these teams work collaborate to facilitate various uses of UAVs to support humanitarian efforts. These include:   

  • Rapid assessment of disaster damage to building infrastructure
  • Rapid assessment of powerlines and other electricity infrastructure
  • Identify usable roads and transportation infrastructure
  • Identify useful areas for humantiarians to set up base camp
  • Aerial support for road clearance activities
  • Estimate population displacement
  • Identify temporary shelters
  • Identify best locations to set up new temporary shelters
  • Survey impact of disaster on agriculture, farmland
  • Search and Rescue
  • Identifying whether radio transmitters/comms on the ground still work

Posted in 3D, Bundler, Camera Calibration, Conference, FOSS4G 2014, Image Processing, International Conference of Crisis Mappers, OpenDroneMap, Optics, Photogrammetry, PMVS | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »


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