The format for VISualize 2009 was 8-10 talks, each 30-45 minutes long, per day with a couple 15 minutes breaks and an hour long catered lunch. The networking on the breaks and lunch was great, but I would encourage even more time devoted to things other than talks next time i.e. panels, lightning talks, birds of a feather sessions, hands on training, un-conference time, etc. There is somewhat of a trend in conferences of becoming more interactive and I think VISualize (and the other ITT VIS seminars) should follow it.

On the other hand, all the talks were well done, interesting, and relevant. Several of the talks were similar to talks at the fall IDL User Group meeting in Boulder, so I won’t go into them: Richard Azuah from the NIST Center for Neutron Research talked about building an application using the iTools framework; Rob Dimeo from the NIST Center for Neutron Research talked about using IDL to visualize quantum mechanics; John Quillen from Jacquette Consulting talked about Slither, the IDL to Python bridge (Jason Ferrara gave the fall talk, though); and Peter Messmer from Tech-X Corporation talked about GPULib. Ronn Kling also talked in the fall, but on a different topic.

So here are some notes about the talks:

“Observing the Earth in Real-Time with MODIS” by Liam Gumley (University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI)
Liam discussed the use of IDL in the MODIS system. It was great to see in person people that I have only interacted with online i.e. the newsgroup. Also, I was particularly interested by his remarks about writing his book (book site).
“Adventures with IDL” by Ray Sterner (Johns Hopkins Applied Physics, Laruel, MD)
Ray presented a smorgasbord of interesting topics using IDL: creating 3-dimensional anaglyphs, maps, old IDL newsletters, etc. By sure to look on the CD from the conference because there is a lot more from Ray than just the slides from his talk.
“Least Squares Fitting and Equation Solving with MPFIT” by Craig Markwardt (NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD)
Craig discussed the history and usage of his best-of-breed fitting tool MPFIT. There is now a C version of MPFIT. Also, there is now an MPFIT paper to cite if you use it in your research.
“Development of a Compact, Portable 3-D Imaging System” by Greg Payonk (Johnson & Johnson, Skillman, NJ)
Greg talked about building a system that could create a 3-dimensional model of a face using multiple point-and-shoot cameras and IDL.
“IDL 2019” by Ronn Kling (Kling Research and Software, Marshall, VA)
Ronn gave his vision of what IDL should evolve into in 10 years. More than the actual content (which is fun to dream about, I’ve been making lists myself), what is interesting is that we all care so much about it. Users of IDL have a lot invested in making sure that IDL remains useful in the future.

I also went to the second day of the conference, which was about ENVI. There were some great applications of using ENVI shown, particularly the WWF presentation by Aurelie Shapiro was great to see.

I’ll have one more post about VISualize when I see the presentations appear on the ITT VIS website (only some of the IDL presentations’ slides were available on the conference CD and none of the ENVI ones).