Friday, December 31, 2004

December

The new year is approaching. When looking back to 2004 it was not a good year for the society as such, and it ended with the disaster of the flooding in Asia. Let's hope 2005 will be better and people will feel more safe and that it is more peaceful.

At my work it was the usual time in December. Some of the backlog could be solved. I received some complaints from customers on this and have taken it seriously. The beginning of December was finishing lots of casework. I could not spend very much work on research and development and contacts with other communities. I even had to cancel an appointment for a European project in Paris.

The end of December was more quiet, and I had time to think on what goals had been reached and of course what did not went well. The writing of articles, chapters of books was really behind what I planned. It is often more difficult to reach those, since caswork and other things go first. I had to spend lots of time on recertification, and that was a cause that I could not publish.

We were also thinking on 2005. For our European project FIDIS another meeting will take place in September, and we also have to finish the report. The European funding of projects is very bureaucratic, and I do not think that the goals of Europe will be met in this way. It even can slow down the R&D-projects in Europe, since scientist have to take care about bureaucratic procedures and not about the real work (in FIDIS the coordinator is making it as comfortable as possible within the rules, and he is doing that fine). That is the way that lots of things are going nowaday, to many people are making to many plans, but never reach there goals. It also is the same at the work, that they ask more and more time spend on project plans with also kind of models like Prince 2, and consultants claim that it works, but it does not. It only protects them against claims for court. In some way we have to find a middleway in this kind of procedures, since I also know there has to be some planning and control.

When making plans, we are looking into the new developments in 2005. Lots of wireless nets and influence of smaller devices and embedded systems are expected this year. Biometrics will also have some influence in the products, however I expect that developments are going more slowly then some people expect. In the government for law enforcement we are developing more open source product (for example TULP2G in sourceforge.net).

In February I will be at the meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science. I am looking forward to this meeting in New Orleans. As last year, we have organized a workshop on digital imaging, and special sessions on these topics. I will give several presentations over there, which I have prepared partly at the end of December. Furthermore, I will be serving as Secretary of the Engineering Sciences Section. There are also ideas of establishing a computer sciences section within the AAFS, so we will also talk about this idea.

For the ENFSI Forensic IT working group in Europe we are planning a steering committee meeting in March, and a conference in September, which will be hosted by us in Amsterdam. I think we really should go a step further and special attention will be given to validation of forensic software tools.

All other plans are focused on my casework and some R&D projects on video codecs, image processing of fingerprints, and of course my work as scientific coordinator in our department.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Backlog

Allways when you come back, it appears that thing are not handled yet. So, it was a busy week with meetings, and a conference that I organised. Also some complaints of customers that were not happy with delays in casework, so it took more time. It is also the time to revise projectplans and other administrative tasks, and look what can be improved.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Sunday, October 31, 2004

October moving to a new building

In October we had to move to a new building. The old one was a combination of buildings, and was not very well compared to the new one. The advantage is that the building was custom made as forensic laboratory, and that all conditions for forensic work are filled in. More information is available from http://www.nieuwbouwnfi.nl/ .

It was a somewhat hectic period, since casework had to continue. Several cases where finished in time, whereas some cases where delayed due to the time spend on moving.Of course since we knew we would go and move a long time ago, we could take this into account with planning of cases.

The new building is easy to reach by bike from the station. The first impressions are lots of space, however somewhat sterile.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

September

September has been a busy month. Lots of casework, a conference in Krakow and some R&D-projects. Last week I have been in Krakow at the ENFSI- Forensic IT and the FIDIS workshop. At the ENFSI-FIT conference I was elected as chairman, and we are going to organize another conference in the Netherlands next year. It was a nice conference, and one of the advantages of conferences and presentations is that it will let you focus on presentation of the results on R&D-projects and of course lots of communication with other colleagues. Krakow was also a nice city, however we had to work five days long. The FIDIS workshop also went well (I was chairing that workshop, so I might be somewhat biased).

Next week I have to be recertified as a forensic scientist. Certification was also one of the topics at the conference, and it was brought by the National Center of Forensic Sciences in Orlando. The certification process I have next week, is that I have submitted five reports to the committee together with a form on which is stated that I still fulfill the requirements (education, number of cases and R&D-projects). The committee will ask questions concerning the reports as if it was a court case. Two committee members are not from our lab (e.g. the Forensic Science Service in the UK), and after the hearing they will decide if I can be recertified, or otherwise what other steps have to be taken to be recertified again. This recertification is valid for a period of four years. Now it is an internal process, however the future would be that an external body would do these kind of reviews.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

After the vacation period

It has been started again, all apointments, and agendas that seem to fill very fast. The last weeks I spend working on casework, preparing meetings and making plans for 2005 for the budgets. For the union, I am also working in a group for recertification of experts.

I have to be certified again in October, and they had to select five reports for this exam. The reports have to be translated from Dutch in English, since one of the experts can not read Dutch. It is a good experience, however it is not something where you are waiting for... Most colleagues do not really like this process, however some of them are very positive afterwards. The problem is of course that they fear that it does not out well, and that they risk their job. However in practice loosing you job for that reason in Dutch government is protected, so they have to offer you something else.

We were also late in writing the Interpol review paper. Yesterday I looked at the references, and it appeared that some of them where missing. When reading it again, it seemed that it is a wide field. It is however nice to see what happened the last three years in a more structured way, and then we see that there have been many developments in 3D-techniques, image processing and digital video techniques. Not to mention that often the quality of digital images is often worse than of analogue material. This is caused by compression.

This week I was thinking about writing some chapters of books. I am planning to work on Friday at home for publishing. This works best, since working at the lab phone calls and casework will not help in writing an article. I saw in my literature list in the past, that I had most production in writing articles at home. This was also the method for finishing my PhD. I also see that many colleagues do have the same problem, and since I am in editorial boards of several journals, I sometimes ask them to write an article. Most often that does not happen however, and I can't blame them, because I know how difficult it is, since there always seem to be more important things then that.

As secretary of the Engineering Sciences Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, I also had to review membership applications, and I saw that the schedule for next years scientific presentations has been completely booked, with many interesting papers.

For the European Network of Forensic Science Instititutes (ENFSI) the Forensic IT working group will have a training conference in Krakow. I saw that there was lots of interest for that, and the FIDIS-workshop on Forensic Implications, is also working better. Of course I did several phone calls and emails to look what happened, however I am used that everything has to be organized the last day.

Next week I have to do lots of management tasks, and there will be a new colleague. Furthermore I try to combine this with casework efficiently.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Meetings and reconstruction

This week I started with casework and some work related on our projects. Since I did not have enough time on working on the R&D-projects, we tried to hire someone. This worked out well, since we managed to find someone for the projects within several days. Of course it would take some weeks before he could start working, since there is a security clearance needed for that function.

I was looking into a case and the digitization, for our project on CODECS. It appeared that when I stored a DV-signal with Premiere, with different viewers I had different results. With mediaplayer I could not visualize the videofile. With Quicktime the quality was less then with Premiere or Realvideo. This means that there is something with the CODECS within the software. I was wondering what could happen in court if someone visualizes mediafiles with different kinds of software and was convinced that this project is worthwhile to work on.

This morning I went to a meeting with one of our directors for the union. It was very hot today also in this room, and the atmosphere during the meeting was good. Next week I would start to chair a committee for the union on recertification and other procedures around that, since there is discussion going on a system for personal certification. Other thing were as usual, the procedures for overtime work that did not work, which should be less bureaucratic, however due to the rules and accountants could not be modified. Of course the expanding number of DNA cases and how to deal with these requests are standard as topics, and our move to a new building in October. And then the idea that the HRM-department would stop to work the way it works now, since our managers should be integral HRM-managers, and the HRM-department would be replaced by a shared service center for the government. This means that the department would be replaced by computer screens with web interfaces.

This afternoon a reconstruction of a length measurement. Length measurement is always difficult since there are many factors influencing a person length on a CCTV-image, and it is even worse when the images are of bad quality (which is often the case with those systems). However we managed to get some reference images and did also some validation tests for the system. To work this case out and make a 3D model could take several weeks.

It rained this evening after the heat of the last days, so that was a good thing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Case work, meetings and R&D

This week seems to begin fine. I could finish a report, in which I described that the investigation would be time consuming and that the final result as we expect would not give much information. Other cases had to be finished before we move with our building. So, for that reason I promised to finish a case in one month.

Vacation is there, however it seems that I still can reach many persons who I need to contact. It is good that there are some less meetings, and it is a good time at work to have some thoughts on projects. Project management in a professional environment is even more challenging.

I was thinking on writing a chapter for a book. I had some backlog, and now I have my ideas again. Furthermore I finished the submission of abstracts for AAFS. The only thing I have to look at is the ENFSI-meeting and the FIDIS-group.

 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Last part of the week

It was on thursday business as usual. First I had some meetings of the union at our lab. We discussed about the wide variety of consultants that are active within our lab, and would like to have an overview. Furthermore next week we would have a meeting with our director, and discuss the committee for reviewing the certification and examination process of our experts at the lab.
 
That morning I tried to look further in some casework, however I first had a discussion about the distance that exist between the people that do the casework and the HRM-people and the quality assurance employees. It is the problem of an organization that grows, that bureaucracy and more new rules that are developed. In my opinion people can not cope with that many rules, and the value of each additional rule is less.
 
In the afternoon another meeting on technology and future perspective and thoughts on new projects. In the evening we had some diner with our visiting colleagues. It was a nice fish restaurant in Scheveningen, and I enjoyed the discussions and of course the food.
 
On Friday I had to wait at home for some reparation of our appartement. There was a gap in the wall which was caused by examining the cause of a broken water supply. It appeared that they had to do some new orders, and after their vacation (so probably more than one month from now), it would be repaired.
 
In the afternoon I looked further in our AAFS workshop, and all contributions were in. Furthermore, I looked in the number of submissions for our SPIE meeting, and it was more than expected.
 
In the evening some fitness at our fitness center, and a good glass of wine at my favourite pub. I was thinking of the email of a colleague who was worried of some things that he found in my garbage in my office. It were some old slides of presentations and a coffee cup that he would like to have.
 
On Saturday I had to deal with all the spam that I received. I tried different products, however still the filtering was not enough. So I tried some other kind of prevention, and reorganized my mail box.
 
In the evening we went on bike to Schiphol, and then it appeared to rain a lot. Most flight were diverted or canceled that evening.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Tuesday and Wednesday

This morning I had seen some reactions on our testimonies in the newspaper. It was also posted on our intranet, so I received some reaction from the colleagues. I had to make some phone calls concering cases, however the problem is that most of the persons I had to call were on vacation.

In the afternoon I did some visit outside of the laboratory at Schiphol. It is always good to get different impressions.

That night it appeared that KPN had again canceled my request for a new phone line. I was on the phone for 30 minutes, and they did not have a reason why that happened. So, I filed a complaint at their web site.

This morning I had to visit the doctor due to a middle ear infection. In the morning I had to organize my room again, since there were too many cables from old systems, and that is not good for quality assurance of my R&D projects. So I cleaned it up in preparation of a new system for testing biometric systems.

We discussed the plans for 2005, and I did some literature search for a student on 3D and crime scenes. With STN we retrieved some more than she already had, so it seemed to be useful.

Again I had to make the preparation for the AAFS workshop. Furthermore I was working on the project progress in the departement. That afternoon I was somewhat more optimistic, since it seemed that we spend more time on R&D.

To my surprise KPN called that they had read my complaint, and the problem was that there were no wires anymore. For that reason they had to send a technician and for technical reasons I had to wait 3 weeks. I was glad that I finally received an explanation.

Monday, July 12, 2004

12/7/04

It has been a day starting with the dentist. After that I had to prepare the court case in which I have to testify as expert witness today. We had a meeting with our image processing group concerning the casework and special attention was given to the budget of 2005 and the planning of conferences.

This afternoon I went to court with my colleague. We both went to the court room, and I had to wait for an hour outside of the court room. After that several questions were asked, which I was able to answer. It concerned questions on photogrammetry and 3D modelling. At 17.00 pm I was home early, since the court is in the city were I live.

That evening I wanted to connect an extra analog phone line. Switching from ISDN to analog is very expensive with KPN if you have ADSL. It appeared that the wires were not available for this line, so I had to call them, and wait a long time. On friday they would send someone.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Last week

Monday

Each Monday we have a meeting for the image processing and biometrics part of the department and we discuss the progress of cases and R&D-projects. Furthermore I have to look in the progress of the R&D-projects. The problem is however that they always seem to be slower than expected, partly due to the case load. Publications are even more dificult.

Tuesday

I had to write a report on an image processing case and a face comparison case. Furthermore I was planning some contributions for the next years AAFS-conference www.aafs.org . We were thinking on having the same kind of workshop as last year on image processing, and then extended to one day. I also have to write some articles.

Wednesday
Finally I have a complete day to work on cases. I did not do the required number of cases, and that is not good for the recertification. However it seems that I am on a good track now. I finished a report on image comparisons. I also had some discussions on the certification requirements within our lab. I had a bad experience with this, and I could imagine that other people were worried about this. There are some good points on recertification : that you will fulfill the required level, however it still seems to be a system like going to school. In this system you have to do exams and learn lots on new views of criminalistics and law. Due to all that kind of efforts I spend less time on publications, and that is also nice to do.

Today I also setup some software on my Linux server. I had some license troubles with face comparison software that I would like to test.

Finally at home, I managed to setup our wireless system. However I am looking for a stronger signal that can cope with the concrete and the metal within. Perhaps I have to buy a new router of wifi, of even an antenna.

Tuesday
I received the point for the exam of criminalistics. It was a 7. So I passed this test after not passing the first time. It is strange if you work for 12,5 years at the lab that you still have to do exams. The system works with persons within the lab that I know well, and I think it would have been better to have an external accreditation board. Our management tells us that that will be in future.
I also handle a case were I might have to go to court on Monday.

Friday
A day off. I receive a phone call that I have to go to court on Monday for a case.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Start of weblog

Since people often ask about the days work as a forensic scientist, I have written this weblog and hope to receive some feedback. I have to add this feature to my site http://forensic.to . In this weblog I will add the information of my day-to-day work at the lab if I have time of course, and restricted of course in the way that I will not add confidential information here.