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Lina Ortega :: Blog

June 24, 2008

I would like to share some pictures of my research experience.


With my Dr. Yong (Tsinghua) and Dr. Huang (FAU) 



  Research Team at Tsinghua University


     Research Meeting


visit to Beihai University




Research Team at Beihai University  


Dr. Huang and Professors  




                FIT BUILDING (where I work)                          




Keywords: beihai, fit, huang, lab, tsinghua, yong

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June 18, 2008

During the week I enjoyed some basketball games and Friday we went for lunch at this pretty fancy place near school. We found a very interesting dish... Donkey Meat... So of course we had to try it! It tastes like beef... it was thinly sliced... We enjoyed it! The only problem was that we got a spicy dish, and it was really really spicy.

After the lunch Chris and I went to an event held at the university called "The role of political parties in the 2008 US Presidential election". It was very interting.. I think I learned more about the election here in China than what I learned back in US.


On Saturday we went to dinner and drinks with a friend of mine that was in Beijing. We all had a great time!


During the weekend we went to the Fragrant Hill...We climed up the mountain for about 2-3 hours and we made it to the top... Paula and I took the cable car down to enjoy the great view.





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June 10, 2008


This was a long weekend due to the Dragon Boat Festival! Monday off :)

On Saturday we decided to joing about 4 people and participated in a weekend cultural event. We went to the hutongs (chinese ancient alleys) and learned to cook Zongzi in a typical chinese house.

Zongzi is a is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves and is a popular specialty consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival.


We also cooked dumplings!..However mine were "Colombian" dumpling...which in reality look more like empanadas than dumpling...those of you who have had the pleasure of eating empanadas know what im talking about!

 At the same place we learned how to write our name in chinese


 After enjoying chinese traditions we visited the Beihai park, and later rested by the sofas near the lake!..And on Monday we took advantage of the day off to visit the Lama Temple..

Here are some pics..




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The weekend started on Friday with our first offical "night out"...

We went Karaoke! we had a blast! Everybody let their inner self OUT!... all of us sang, and laugh, and sang some more!..oh and I rode my bike with heels for the first time ;)


The rest of the weekend we wondered around the city...did some shopping and enjoyed a chinese rock band and drank some tea!


Keywords: karaoke

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June 01, 2008

On Monday I enjoyed a nice lunch with one of the students at the lab, he explained me a lot about Chinese culture...and we talked about Colombia as well. One topic that I liked was the population controls that China has...With a country of over 

Christopher advisor's, Dr. Huang from FAU came to visit us!  She was great, she took us to the Beihang University and we enjoyed a couple talks and a great dinner! Dr. Hung was also able to be part of a discussion regarding my project. I will start to focus more on standards and techniques used to create test sets.


Later that week we went to the night market, where you can find anything on a stick!...From squid, seahorse...to bugs, scorpions..and more!..  I tried all of those mentioned before. The worst one was the bug...it was crunchy outside but soft inside...ew! nasty!..


Paula and I are trying to get a different visa with a resident permit. They are not extending F visas later than July 1, so that's not a good option for us. The idea is to no have to travel to hong kong to get the extension...Hong Kong would have been very cool but by plane..the train ride is 24 hours and only on odd days, so we would waste too much time, and plane is too expensive. Hopefully we can simple get our resident permit that would allow us to stay until the research is over :)




Keywords: beihang, fau, huang, market, night, scorpions, seahorse, shihong, squid

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The weekend started on Friday with a foot massage! Well deserved after a week of hard work!

On Saturday I decided to sleep a little bit more than usual, not realizing that we had a hot water schedule...By the time i got up (around 10am) there was only Frezzing water left! I had no choice but to enjoy the frezzing water and get ready for a long day under the sun!...

We decided to go in search of a nice restaurant near forbidden city....some of them wanted to grab some food at the mall, but half of us had been there alredy...so of course, stubborn Lina wanted to go to a new place!.... After some walking we realized that the map was wrong (and no, im not just blaming it on the map!..it was really wrong!) so we were pretty much walking in the opposite direction...so we decided to stop in the first restaurant we found. It was a tiny local chinese restaurant/cafeteria with appox. 5 tables (all empty). At this point im feeling really bad...bc i pretty much didnt let them eat at the mall :S.... So we go in and with our great chinese, we order rice, eggplant, and tea...and some other things that are still a mistery!...All the employees took out their cellphones and started taking pictures of us..just as if we were some sort of weird specimens...well i guess our group is pretty diverse (USA, India, Barbados, Finland, Colombia...and all together in China can be strange!). At the end the food was really good, and we enjoyed our first experience at a real local chinese restaurant by ourselves! :) I still feel bad for Tariq, he didnt eat anything. Sorry Tariq!


After lunch we went to the Forbidden city, it’s a very pretty complex of about 980 palaces!


After walking all day in Forbidden city we went to see a Chinese Opera “Forbidden Love”. The national center for the performing arts is amazing, inside and outside.


On Sunday we went to the silk market to shop!. It’s a bulding with 7 floors and they have everything from clothes, shoes, purses to electronics, watches, jewelry…etc. The prices are ok, but you have to bargain a lot, so it gets annoying. They start with outrageous prices of 500Yuan and you can actually bring it down to 50Yuan…so you have to know how to bargain and have an idea of what things cost.

Later on after dinner I had my first bicycle issue!...The chain broke in the middle of an exciting race! Hahah…It was Paula and myself head to head with tariq and chris…until all of the sudden Puuuummm!!!!!! I don’t have a chain anymore …




Keywords: chain, city, forbidden, massage, opera, weekend

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May 23, 2008

2008-05-19 Monday…China is all about sharing!.. We all eat from the same plate...and double dipping is permitted...double, triple...etc. My first day of work went really well, I met most of the people at the lab and 4 of them invited me for lunch, we rode our bikes to the dining hall and had lunch…this time was very good, food was delicious, and one of the girls bought watermelon and each one ate a piece for dessert. Watermelon is very popular here, mainly in the summer. They give it at the end of the meal at some restaurants....I really think this was better than pea ice cream!...After lunch my fellow researchers showed me other parts of Tsinghua, beautiful once again, it resembled the summer palace a bit. At 2pm a memorial for the victims of the earthquake started, everyone was wearing white and at 2:28 (when the earthquake happened) all the alarms went off  for 3 minutes and everyone was on silence.



where is my pink bike?? 


2008-05-20 Tuesday…I decided to give the dining halls a try for breakfast….I had no luck. I was by myself and i had no clue what anything was and it simply didnt look appealing…so i decided to stop by the supermarket and get a yogurt…this time i got a normal berry yogurt, i was tempted to try the red beans and coconut yogurt, but i realized red beans is not a good way to start my morning!. I also stopped by the fruit and meat market to get some fruits...and here is what I found...


My first dog meat encounter...I was very excited and surprised to finally have my first Dog meat encounter. We almost ate dog for lunch at this really nice restaurant outside of Tsinghua. Unfortunately dog is out of season, they usually serve it during the winter Frown. Maybe I'll come back during the winter to try it.  Shang Jia said she really likes dog meat, she told us is even better than donkey meat... I guess we will have to try both to know which one is better. I asked her about cats, rats, and horses. Cats are a special animal for Chinese people, since its believed than they have several lives they will not eat it. Shang jia thinks rats are dirty and won’t eat them. I agree. And regarding horses, it is believed that horses cry, therfore they prefer to bury them and not eat them!.

I tried Taro ice cream today, it’s purple and kind of sweet, not fruity though. I ate it not knowing what it was...like most of my meals here...thanks to google I found out it’s a plant…they use it for dumplings, for cake, for tea…

2008-05-21 Wednesday

Today was the first day we went out to the city by ourselves. We went to buy opera tickets, and we also bought tickets to one of the track qualifiers event, for the Olympics, It will be at the national stadium, the bird nest. We didn’t get lost and did very very good. I’m proud of us!.

I had my first work meeting with everybody!..It was very exciting to hear Chinese back and forth!...my advisor translated a couple things…They all introduced themselves in English…I explained them that I would be collaborating with Professor Zhu Yi research. I will start by researching standards used for search engine quality evaluation, directly related with text, image, video, and audio collection.

2008-05-22 Thrusday

After working all day we had the pleasure of attending one of the last few events they will have at the Beijing National Stadium (Bird Nest) before the Olympics. The stadium is beautifull inside and outside... We watched the qualifiers for track, jump, throw...The olympics feeling was sensational! :) Right next to the Stadium there is the Water Cube, or Natatorium! Very neat as well!..

2008-05-23 Friday

One of my partners from the lab, Zhao Yang took us for lunch at a Korean BBQ, and after that we held our first Ping Pong Match in China...There are several ping-pong tables at the basement of the building where the labs are located. 







Keywords: bbq, chris, dog, jan, korean, olympics, paula, tsinghua, watermelon, yang, zhao

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May 18, 2008

On Sunday Kasturi and I started the day exercising. We walked out of our dorms and found an amazing sunny non smoggy day!..So Beijing is not as smoggy after all. We went to the track to run a few laps... I was afraid thinking I was going to have to shower with cold water.. ohh..i forgot to mention it before but we have a hot water supply schedule...from 7am-9am, 3pm-5pm, 8pm-midnight. To my surprise the water wasn't all that cold...there was still some warm water left!...

Later on we got our dining cards and decided to use them in one of the dining halls in the middle of campus. This one was bigger than the one by our dorms and had a great variety of food. The only problem...we had no clue what was what!.... I went around once and got what looked appealing, with not so much luck. For desert, since I was in the mood of trying new things, I decided to give the Pea Ice Cream a try...It wasn't bad...but later on my stomach didn't thank me for it!..

Once again Shang Jia, who is my designated liason, met us to go to the city. We went on the subway, it was packed, but nice. We had to transfer a couple times and it took us about 40min to get to Tiananmen Square, a plaza where we enjoyed the monument to the people's heroes...

The Mao Zedong Memorial Hall (Founder of the People's Republic of China)...

And a couple more views...


On the way back we decided to finally buy our bikes!!


Later on I met with my advisors here at Tsinghua, Dr. Yang and Dr. Yong. Yes, it will be confusing!!

They were very welcoming and gave me a brief explanation on how everything works here. They are in charge of the Web and Software Technology Research Center. 

The building I will be working is very modern, and the lab is nice and spacious.


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May 17, 2008

The trip China has been wonderful so far. The first flight, Wednesday (May 14) was a quick 3 hours that passed fast while practicing the sentence “Where is the restroom” over and over with some Chinese people that were seating behind us. The second flight lasted about 14 hours. I was not able to sleep at all, but fortunately we were able to manage the seating arrangements and I wasn’t by myself. Even though the flight was packed and we all had seats away from each other, Paula, Chris and I were able to exchange seats with other passengers and seat together, we were lucky that economy class was full and they gave us seats in economy plus with some extra legging Laughing. We kept ourselves entertained by talking, practicing Chinese, eating (they gave us 3 meals), watching movies, listening to music, enjoying the scenery of north Canada and the North Pole…or at least pretty close to it. The plane flew north and then south, not east to west as I though, so we went north towards Canada and then came down towards Russia. The 14 hours flew by…well..maybe not flew but passed quicker than what I imagined.


Three students from Tsinghua University (Qīnghuá Dàxué - 清华大学 ) were waiting for us at the airport. They were really nice and helpful. We started our way to Tsinghua. The cab ride gave us a glance to Beijing. It has some nice modern buildings; the city has lots of smog, and lots of people riding bicycles.


When we arrived at the University we went directly to registration to obtain our dorm keys, it took a little longer than expected, then we had an orientation, and later we went to the supermarket to get some basic stuff. The market is inside campus, the campus is very very big…everybody rides their bike as well.

We were finally able to rest and eat at around 7:30pm. Our first dinner wasn’t too successful because when we arrive to the dining hall they were about to close and they only had very limited food. I liked it, but I think nobody else did. We weren’t very sure what we were eating either…I still think it was chicken.

The dorms are nice, clean, small but big enough for our needs, the beds are really hard, but I guess is going to be good for our backs!...

We finally went to bed on Thursday (may 15) at about 8pm china time, 8am my time!..

On Friday we met with the director to help us with registration and to get our student id’s. Later we had our first successful meal. It was really thanks to a couple of foreign language students that order the food for us. The food was delicious.


We came back to the room to get some rest…Paula and Chris fell asleep and they missed out the wonderful walk and dinner the rest of us had. We decided to go to a pizza bar across campus. We got a chance to see part of the campus; some of the classrooms are older and have Chinese style ceilings. There were also several open fruit markets on the way, everything is pretty amazing!


This morning (Saturday) Tariq, Kasturi and I had a little bit more sleep, so we met up for breakfast a little later than the rest. The dining hall was closed already so we went back to the pizza bar for some scrambled eggs, a toast and mocha!...They bring the food one by one as it get done…I guess people here are used to eat things separate one by one. I like eating everything together so by the time I got my mocha my eggs and toast were cold Frown.

Later one of the students I will be working with, Shang Jia met up with us, and took us to the Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán - 颐和园) . We walked a lot just lo leave campus to be able to catch a bus in the city, we catched some more pretty views of the university.

The Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán - 颐和园) was a wonderful, enormous place! Lots of vegetation, beautiful architecture, the longest corridor in the world, hills, many steps, rocks, vivid colors, great views, even corn ice cream!


The Summer Palace taught us a lesson on how to bargain. At the begining of the journey Chris and Paula were pretty much forced into dressing up to take a picture for ¥50 each, they looked wondeful. They tried to convince everyone else but couldn't, right when I was leaving the lady told me in secret that she would take my picture for ¥30...I just answered "Bu yao, bu yao"..I dont want in chinese.


I bought a beautiful hand fan for ¥15 all the way at the top of the palace. At the bottom of the palace Paula bought a very similar one but for ¥30. After we exit the palace, right in front of the gate Kasturi bought the same fans for ¥10. At the same store, outside the palace Paula decided to buy a cool Chinese hat for ¥40. We walked for a little bit and a guy at another little store yells at us trying to sell the hats for ¥100. So I decided to try the guy and see what he would do and offered him ¥10, he then asked for ¥20 but I insisted in ¥10 and started walking out. He accepted and Tariq and I got the same hats for ¥10. We were all making fun of Paula, but later on we couldn’t stop laughing and feeling a little bad for poor Paula after we see that her hat broke after paying four times what we paid and using it for only half hour.


We all wanted to try the famous Pekin roasted duck. Shang Jia took us to the most famous restaurant in Beijing for roasted duck. The restaurant was beautiful and very classy. The food was once again delicious. I was able to convince Tariq to eat the eye of the fish, and try the white milky soup, both tasted very good.


After walking all day we got back to the dorms for some rest!. We are looking to buy bycicles, it would be the only way we would survive! There is also a shuttle that goes around tsinghua university, and you can ride it for ¥1, but it will be more convenient if we have bikes.


I must say I am loving every bit of this experience.


Keywords: beijin, china, chris, duck, flight, friday, jan, kasturi, lina, may 14, may 15, palace, paula, saturday, summer, tariq, tsinghua, university

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March 13, 2008

This project is targeted at studying standards and solutions for creating and distributing multimedia contents on the Web. Such study will be performed in a systematic way, inspecting selected solutions and standards, analyzing their technical merits, discussing their shortcomings, evaluating (whenever possible) their performance, and providing recommendations for developers and practitioners in the field.


The explosive growth of multimedia (images, audio, video, graphics) on the Web – particularly more noticeable after users began taking the role of content producers (as well as consumers) – has motivated the development of new solutions and standards to meet the demand for fast, rich, interactive, web-based solutions. The successful completion of this project will provide much needed understanding of the potential, advantages, and pitfalls, of the most contemporary solutions for creating and distributing multimedia contents on the Web, educating developers and practitioners in the field, and enabling them to make informed decisions

Keywords: multimedia, solutions, standards, web

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